This is our goal in offering a rich feast of learning in the arts. Learning in these areas exchanges short term results for long term learning and trains the brain in many subtle ways.
“The purpose of this study is to cultivate the student’s artistic powers through the study of reproductions of the works of well known artists. This power of appreciating art and producing to some degree an interpretation of what one sees begins with a reverent knowledge of what has already been produced; that is, the student learns pictures, line by line, group by group, by reading not the books, but the pictures themselves.” (Charlotte Mason in her book, The Philosophy of Education)
Our students study at least one artist a semester, learning about their life, the historical context in which they lived, their spiritual heritage (if applicable), their art medium, and their style. As they ponder a piece of artwork, they will learn about form, light and shade, color, lines of composition and perspective. We utilize a “picture study” method where the students study the art for several minutes quietly, then either turn the picture over or close their eyes to visualize what they have seen. The art is then discussed in the classroom setting. The final part of artist study is to create a reproduction taking special care to reflect the artist’s style and work. It is amazing to see what they produce! In addition to the advantages of learning about great art, these methods also develop fine motor coordination, attention to detail, and observational skills. If a student attends PCS from kindergarten through eighth grade, they will have studied 22 artists by the time they graduate.
The artists studied in each grade include:
- Kindergarten – Rosa Bonheur, Claude Monet
- First Grade – Beatrix Potter, Henry Tanner, Norman Rockwell (also studied in 8th grade)
- Second Grade – John James Audubon, Mary Cassatt, Aaron Douglas
- Third Grade – Winslow Homer, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Rufino Tamayo
- Fourth Grade – Benjamin West, Edgar Degas
- Fifth Grade – N.C. Wyeth, Albrecht Durer
- Sixth/Seventh Grade – Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt van Rijn, Remington
- Eighth Grade – Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keefe, Norman Rockwell, Van Der Zee
The purpose of our composer study is to cultivate the students’ taste for a musically rich heritage, as well as to provide an environment where music is listened to and appreciated as part of daily life. Beginning in Kindergarten, each class studies one composer per semester, learning about their life, spiritual heritage (if applicable), style of music, and contributions to the music world. Music is listened to as a natural part of the classroom environment, cultivating the ear to identify harmony, melody, instruments, and tone. Musical vocabulary is taught, as well. Our objective is that students recognize at least 3 major works of each composer.
The composers for each grade include:
- Kindergarten – John Phillip Sousa, Johannes Brahms
- First Grade – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Leonard Bernstein
- Second Grade – Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Joseph Haydn
- Third Grade – Frederic Chopin, Pyotr Tchaikovsky
- Fourth Grade – Ludwig Van Beethoven, Antonin Dvorak
- Fifth Grade – George Frederick Handel, Gregorian Chants (related to their history curriculum)
- Sixth/Seventh Grade – Felix Mendelssohn, Aaron Copeland
- Eighth Grade – Various jazz artists
All grades take a yearly field trip to the Symphony, and some grades have additional field trips related to their composer, such as attending the Nutcracker to hear Tchaikovsky.
It is our desire to provide opportunity for our students to exercise the free and natural activities of the mind, body, and speech, and to engage in imagination and thought. Our poetry curriculum is designed to allow students to experience reciting poetry, creating it, understanding it, and most of all, enjoying it. We study various poets such as A.A. Milne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Langston Hughes. Thematic poetry is used, also, such as poems about various character traits, patriotic poems, nature poems, and poems about emotions. Poetry’s literary forms are studied, along with rhythm and meter. Our students practice to read and write poetry correctly, as well as recite it from memory. All of these methods contribute to stretching and challenging the student’s mind and making them comfortable with this valuable part of language.
Nature study consists of simple, truthful observations about the world God created. It allows children to take dominion of their world, and it cultivates their imagination. Nature study helps children develop a love for the beauty of creation and a sense of companionship with the outdoors. It also allows the child to be an active learner, developing their attention, concentration, discrimination, and patient pursuit! Discovery is key in this type of study, and the work begins with any plant or creature that brings a student interest. Our methodology is simple; each student spends time weekly in the study of the world around us. The teacher is a guide rather than an instructor, training the students’ eyes to see and ears to hear, and planting seeds of truth in their open souls. Students are entranced by natural objects they find and the thought process of why and how they were created. All of our students use nature notebooks to record drawings or watercolors of their objects, as well as their observations and notations of the object and environment. The students have access to field guides and even poems about particular nature subjects. Trees, flowers, leaves, insects, constellations, animals, rocks, minerals, and shells are all topics of close observation.
Yes, children can learn Shakespeare! In the spring, students learn about Elizabethan times and music, and William Shakespeare’s life and sonnets. They also do an extensive yet developmentally appropriate study of one of Shakespeare’s plays. This Shakespearean study culminates with our annual Mayfair celebration the first weekend of May, where each grade demonstrates what they have learned, and our fifth through eighth grade students perform an abridged Shakespearean play.
Participation in drama helps develop confidence, creative thinking, communication, and empathy. It provides opportunity to express a wide range of emotions. Our younger students perform skits during chapel and often create and put on puppet shows. Our older students have opportunities to perform plays in the fall and spring. Working in a group breeds cooperation and collaboration. Students exercise their brains by memorizing their lines and exercise their bodies with physical stunts or movements during scenes. They learn to take directions, and give and receive constructive feedback. We see participation in drama as an important part of our arts program.