American Art History

As you begin to plan for next year’s curricula I wanted to share with you a series that I love! I think you will want to add this to your list of books to purchase.

American Art History by Kristin Draeger is a unique curriculum since it is written from a perspective of  fictional newspaper reporters.  Some lessons are presented as though the artists are interviewed, others, as if the reporters discovered details of the artist’s works and life through historical documents and careful study of their work.

Each volume has sixteen artists and is designed to be used once a week for students in grades 3-8, but you could adapt it for  younger and older students too. Because of the wealth of information and fun activities that are given for each lesson, I believe one lesson could be studied for two weeks. The lessons are suggested to supplement your American history curriculum and considered to take two hours, but you could do a little each day if you don’t have that much time. This curriculum would also be a fantastic co-op class. There are three books that are part of the American Art History volumes.

American Art History Volume II begins with Federal architecture and finishes with Georgia O’Keefe. Lesson one features the White House and its architect, James Hoban. This particular study interviews Mr. Hoban and has a treasure trove of information that I never knew before! The lesson has facts, photographs, and entertaining cartoons as well as a Spot the Forgery activity. Here your child looks at the forgery and compares it to the original. The purpose is for him to become familiar with the works of art and study them in greater detail in a fun and engaging manner. Here are pictures from the study of  Winslow Homer:

American History Art Bingo is a review game for the artwork you study throughout the year. Each student is given a unique bingo card with individual works as the bingo mat. You hold up the larger image of the artwork and call out the artist’s name, location, and date of the piece. The cool thing is that students memorize these facts without even realizing it! 🙂 You know what is remarkable? Once you have studied these pieces,  she will start seeing them all over,  in advertisements, movies, museums…


Drawing American Art Your child by this time will be itching to reproduce the artwork that you have been studying. He can interact with the artwork and can repeatedly practice if he enjoys a particular style. This book gives step-by-step instructions for a drawing project that corresponds to each chapter. You begin with a template that can be located on the website: or photocopy the templates that are in the book. After the drawing  is completed, place the artwork in a plastic sheet protector and file them in a three-ring binder. Label your binder along with the year. This is a great keepsake and if you repeat the course in a few years you can look at the previous year’s binder to see the improvement that has occurred.

* All pictures are from the ARTK12 website.

I have received a free copy of these books from ArtK12 in order to review them and did not need to write a favorable review. Please go to their site to see more fantastic products! ARTK12 You can save as much as $54.00 if you order the book sets directly from their website. 

Peter and the Wolf

Peter and the Wolf was one of the first introductions to classical music that my sons received, and what a great piece it is for children! Sergei Prokofiev, who wrote this piece for Russia’s Central Children’s Theatre, tells the story through music of a boy who leaves the house and goes into the woods, unbeknownst to his sleeping grandfather.

The animals he encounters, and the trouble and he and his animal friends find themselves in, are told through text and music. Each character is represented by a different instrument. The strings were chosen for Peter, while the flute represents the  bird, and the french horn is the low and scary sounding wolf. No need to worry though, the townsmen (timpani section) and Peter’s grandfather (bassoon) come to help.

The book I have featured here includes a CD of the story and the music. The music is actually recorded by the Cincinnati Pops, which I found interesting since this is one of our local symphonies. If you are familiar with the original story, this book has a different ending. You can click on the book to take you to the Amazon link to purchase it or listen to an excerpt of the CD.


If you are interested in exploring the instruments more with your student, then check out these free instruments worksheets. Just click on the pictures and it will take you to the activity pages that are found on


You can incorporate art and language arts by having your student complete the worksheet I created. An example of the worksheet is below.  peter-and-the-wolf 


Sample- click on link above



Online Music Game


Music is something that I appreciate, but do not feel qualified to teach. Since that is not one of my strengths and I suspect some others may feel this way, I’d like to give you an online resource to help. It is called the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra that has been produced by the Weill Music Institute ay Carnegie Hall.

This is a comprehensive overview of the instruments of the orchestra and would certainly meet the requirement of teaching music to your elementary student. It is interactive, interesting, and well done. I found myself wanting to continue on with the adventure as I think your pupil will as well.  The adventures center around a young lady helping her eccentric uncle locate the instruments to fill an ancient amphitheater.  There are activities the children must complete that test their knowledge as they go on a treasure hunt to find the lost instruments.  I would suggest that you create an account if you wish to use this throughout the year.  I believe you and your child are going to visit here often as part of your music studies. To see for yourself CLICK HERE 

March is Kite Month


“Go fly a kite!” what a great idea since windy March days are great ways to spend an afternoon watching  objects flying and floating in the sky.

The history of the kite: The Chinese were the first to build kites over 2,000 years ago and were made from materials readily available from the silk worm: silk for the material,  string made from the silk as well, and bamboo for the frame, which was lightweight. Kites have been used for various reasons: military reconnaissance, enjoyment, as well as sending messages of love to one another.

The popularity of kites is worldwide and enjoyed by people of all ages. The picture above is actually from Cyprus! Did you know there are International Kite Flying Contests held all over the world? There are many YouTube videos that you can see from across the globe and I have one here for you to see from Jakarta, Indonesia. Here is an evening event of Chinese lanterns being released by thousands of participants. CLICK HERE

How about trying your hand at making a kite? I am sure your children will enjoy getting out and enjoying a beautiful spring day with you. WikiHow has 4 different ways to make a kite. They are inexpensive to make, and most things you have on hand. Your project can be counted as art for your school day too. 🙂


Google Photos: A Free Google App


Click! Click! My fingers were busy taking pictures on my cell phone of a junior high event that I attended this weekend. The yearbook staff asked me to capture some of the highlights to share since I was a part of the festivities.

Now, what do I do with the pictures? Google has a free app called Google Photos.  It is an online image organizer and viewer. In addition, it also allows you to edit pictures with several basic functions such as, color enhancement, red eye reduction, and cropping. Other features include slide shows, printing, and image timelines. You can also share your photos with others, be it friends or family, near and far.

I think this app would be great if you wanted to create a memory book of an event or if you are in a co-op and wanted to create a yearbook for your students. If you have a student who is interested in photography you could create a class for high school credit by using this app and also guidelines from one of these sources:

4-H Photography This is a requirement page for the merit badge and in no way obligates you to join the organization.

Boy Scout Photography Badge  This is a requirement page for the merit badge and in no way obligates you to join the organization.

I love this quote and wanted to share it with you. Have a great week!