Charlotte Mason Artist Study, Composer Study and Poetry

Welcome back to day six of my Charlotte Mason series where we will discuss adding Charlotte Mason artist study, composer study, and poetry to your routine! This week is absolutely full of some of the most rich and wonderful learning that comes from a Charlotte Mason style education! You can find the rest of the posts in this series here.

CM Style Artist Study | Our Journey Westward

Charlotte Mason Artist Study + Composers and Poetry

Today covers some priceless topics – art, music and poetry – that too many people choose to leave out of their curriculum because they either can’t find the time or don’t think the material important. I suppose I can see how someone could feel so overwhelmed with “real” schoolwork that they don’t find the “extras” important. However, these “extras” pack more academic punch than you might think! Not to mention, if you’re incorporating short lessons into your day, there should be plenty of time left over for art, music and poetry!

I’m going to give you a brief CM explanation of each, and then tell you how we’ve modified the studies at various times to meet our needs. Remember that I tend to use Charlotte Mason’s methods somewhat eclectically by using her blueprint in a way that it works best for my family. (I know some CM purists will probably be frustrated that I’m showing you how I’ve changed things up a bit. But, I always encourage homeschoolers to do what’s best for their families, no matter what any particular book or philosophy states. That even goes for my own books!)

Charlotte Mason Artist Study, also known as picture study – A particular artist is to be studied for one full semester (about 12 weeks), with at least 6 different prints used for picture study. Picture study is very easy and really only requires the student to talk about what he sees, feels and thinks about the art work.  Mom can lead with a few questions, but most of the thoughts and discussions should begin with the child.

Cindy’s Methods – At different times, we’ve incorporated artist study into our schedule in different ways. Right now, our history study (Ancient Civilizations and the Bible) includes artist study with each unit, so we are simply completing those lessons.

Previously, I chose to focus on one artist per month with weekly picture study. Most weeks, I would allow my children to complete an art project in the same style.

See my artist study posts for an in-depth look into most of the artist studies we have completed.

A Complete List of Cindy West's Monthly Artist Studies

Composer or Music Study CM Style – Again, one composer should be studied per semester. Many selections of his music should be played regularly so that your child begins to recognize the composer and his style. You may or may not choose to learn more about the composer himself, but your child should definitely be able to call him by name.

Cindy’s Methods – Composer study, like artist study, is currently part of our history program. In years past, we followed the same monthly schedule as artist study. Weekly we would listen to the composer’s music and often read a short biography from the library or online.

See my composer study posts for an in-depth look into most of the composer studies we have completed.

Hymn Study CM Style – Simply, the entire family should learn all stanzas of a hymn together. Once you’ve completed one hymn, move on to another. Reading about the history of the hymn is encouraged if possible.

Cindy’s Methods – We don’t necessarily focus on a hymn, but regularly sing around the house familiar hymns from church. We also own a few hymn CD’s that we like to play. We like to include contemporary praise songs, too.

Poetry CM Style – Try to read poetry with your children frequently. You might choose to complete a poet study, similar to an artist or composer study, where you choose one poet and focus on his or her poetry for a period of time.

Cindy’s Methods – Like Charlotte Mason suggested, we simply read poetry quite often. I try to incorporate poetry into various studies, holidays or seasons.

Recitation CM Style – (I could’ve included this with the narration, dictation and copywork post, but I though it fit here nicely since it goes so well with poetry.) Recitation is simply memorizing a poem, Bible verse, passage, quote, speech, etc. and reciting it in front of others.

Cindy’s Methods – We do weekly Bible recitations and I incorporate a little recitation into projects that my children complete.  =At the end of a study, they complete projects that have to be presented to the rest of the family.  =During our Slavery and Civil War unit, for example, my children had to recite the Gettysburg Address.

This post contains affiliate links.

There are about a million wonderful resources for artist, composer and poetry study, but here are a few of the resources I find myself going to time and time again.  Some of them are series where I have included only one sample, but many others are available – like the Dover art cards, Hymns For a Kid’s Heart books, Anholt artist books and Getting to Know the World’s Greatest… books.

Leonardo Paintings and Drawings: 24 Cards (Dover Postcards)Hymns for a Kid's Heart, Vol. 1The Magical Garden of Claude Monet (Anholt's Artists Books For Children)Pablo Picasso (Revised Edition) (Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists)Beethoven Lives UpstairsSebastian Bach, The Boy from ThuringiaDiscovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters (Bright Ideas for Learning)The Random House Book of Poetry for Children


Don’t forget to keep a stocked stash of art supplies somewhere in your house. You won’t regret it!

I think that just about does it for these fun topics.  If you have any questions or comments about how you incorporate these into your schedule, I’d love to read them!  Please join me tomorrow as we talk about another of my very favorite CM topics – Nature Study!

Check Out These Great Resources


  1. We do our music and art closer to your style. We love all of the arts.

  2. This is great!! I am not very good at art but this gives me courage!

  3. Nicole in MD says:

    I wanted to leave a comment so that I could possibly win! :o) I also would like to take this opportunity to thank you for showing how you personalize CM. You help to bring it down to earth.

    Nicole in MD

  4. Picture study is my favorite part of a CM education! Thanks for your thoughts.

  5. I have to admit that I’ve been a little unstructured when it comes to this lately. We listen to a composer for an entire semester and I generally read something on the composer from Zeezok publishing, but I haven’t delved too deeply into examining the artists compositions because my kids are so young. I try to do composter study twice a week and picture study twice a week, but I sometimes get overwhelmed with ‘real schoolwork’ that I don’t have time for it every day. but you’re right, if you concentrate on short lessons, there is plenty of time to add art, music and poetry.

  6. So interesting! I can’t wait to start incorporating some of this.

  7. Hi Cindy,
    Thanks for all your CM posts!
    Artist, Composer & Poetry study are three of those things that really set CM methods apart from the rest! I have personally thoroughly enjoyed learning about these myself while homeschooling my children. We have also used the Discovering Great Artist books, as well as the Child-sized Masterpiece cards. For Hymn study we have read the book “Mr Pipes and the Hymns of the Reformation” and my husband is about to read “Mr Pipes comes to America”. They are lovely books about Mr Pipes the musician and his two young friends. He takes them to the places the hymn writers lived and tells stories about their lives and the background behind some of the hymns they wrote. It really makes the “old” hymns come alive.

  8. Elizabeth says:

    I would love to hear more about what you use for your history program that has the artist/composer studies along with it..Thanks!

  9. I so love this! I’m especially looking forward to the conference so I can learn more about living math.

  10. I’ve thought about composer and artist study before…but left it hidden in the back of my mind. I definitely fall into the category of thinking there isn’t enough time. I love your suggestions, especially taking a composer or artist from the period of history we are studying. Manageable! Thanks for a great post!

  11. So refreshing to incorporate art, poetry, and music into a cirriculum! We are starting with Heart of Dakota next year and I am SO excited to expose my son to this! Can’t wait to read about nature study tomorrow…I am giddy with anticipation!!!! 🙂

  12. I have really enjoyed reading all your posts about Charlotte Mason education, especially since you bring your own eclectic style to the method. Thank you so much for all your information and suggestions!

  13. It might help to schedule one fun afternoon where you do both composer and artist study for the week. This approach really helped me to “fit it in” and it became a time my children really looked forward to each week.

  14. Oh, I forgot about Mr. Pipes! I don’t own any of these (yet), but have heard great things about them.

  15. Discovering Great Artists is a nice resource for finding an artist who would fit into a particular time period. Does anyone have good internet links for history related artist and composer studies??

  16. I have loved reading through your posts. I am currently working CM into my days and will come back here many times.

  17. This is something we don’t do nearly enough of (at least not in an intentional enough way, know what I mean?) My children often have time for free creative play in a variety of mediums, but this year I’m taking more effort to learn about specific artists and composers and authors, etc. I actually REALLY LIKE the idea of spending a whole semester or at least a month on one artist/composer. It’s actually a little more freeing, with less pressure to prepare new materials for new artists week after week. Next week we’re starting a series on painting using the book “You Can Paint Like The Masters” by Amy Runyen. (We’re going to go through each lesson as a whole group, all working on our own recreation of each famous painting — even the 5 yr old to the best of his ability!) Not only will we learn and be able to identify some of the most famous masters and some of their famous masterpieces, but we’ll learn and identify different styles of art and we’ll learn how to paint in the different styles. It will be easy to supplement with living books about the artists, additional picture study with additional masterpieces for each artist and that sort of thing. I’m really looking forward to it!!

  18. You are so right! I fall into the category of doing “real schoolwork” mom and always have been neglecting handicrafts, art studies etc.
    Thank you for giving inspiration and motivation, Cindy. I’m so grateful to stumble upon your website today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *