Montessori Study of Art Styles in History for Ages Five and Up

How does Montessori teach art history? In Montessori preschool, art is experienced sensorially through the repetition of activities like collage, cutting, stamps and stamp pad, clay, water color, and tempera paint, to name a few. Children at the age of four or five are then introduced to geography through puzzle maps, globes, and the people and animals of the world.

This dovetails with "Cosmic Education" and the "Fundamental Needs of Man (People)" as well as the "Spiritual Need of Man (People)". What children begin to understand is that we all have the same fundamental needs: food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and defense. Once these needs are met, people start looking for more, and we call these other needs cultural or spiritual needs: language, art, religion, vanity, and  music.

What we want children to understand from this is that we all have the same spiritual needs but they differ according to where we live, which leads to Maria Montessori's Education for Peace.
So now children in the elementary environment learn about the history of man and civilization through time lines, and when you introduce art history, it is on a time line beginning with Prehistoric peoples, all the way up to modern art. Once you do this, you can explore art further and in one area like cave art.
The following are Montessori and non-Montessori resources for the study of art styles in history (for ages five and up).

Prehistoric, Primitive Art: Paleolithic (Stone) Age, Neolithic (New Stone) Age
  • Cave artists and cave art
  • Paints mixed with berries, plants, mud, clay
  • Drew with sharp sticks
  • Made pictures of stick figure people and animals, like bison and deer
  • Used bold lines and geometric patterns
  • Recreated what was familiar: food, animals, hunting
  • Art was magic, a way to control and capture something
  • Art project: children can paint pictures of animals on flat stones
Art books to get from the library or
 Naturalistic and Realistic Art: 1700-1800s
  • Art is "objective," like the actual object, life is portrayed in real terms, like a photograph
  • Naturalism showed life as it was with all its imperfections, less than beautiful, like decaying fruit with bugs
  • In the United States, Naturalism and Realism were popular during the 19th century, depicting landscapes, farms, wilderness and the struggles of life
  • Naturalistic artists: Daumier, Goya, Rembrandt.
  • Realistic 19th century artists in the United States: Audubon, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Norman Rockwell, James Whistler, Grant Wood, Andrew Wyeth.
  • Art project: older children can go outside and draw the playground or a tree

Art books to get from the library or Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists, a series for children
Impressionism: late 1800s to early 1900s
  • Artists painted what they "perceived," they used a lot of color, light, shadow, and contrasts
  • Artists made quick sketches of an object so as to capture its "essence," its crude likeness
  • Paintings were often done outside using natural light
  • Landscapes were popular subject matter
  • Impressionist artists: Cezanne, Degas, Delacroix, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Vincent van Gogh
  • Art project: children go outside and paint an object using dabs of paint with their finger

 Art books to get from the library or on
  • Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists, a series for children
  • Express Yourself! (Art Explorers) a series for children by Joyce Raimondo
  • Picture This: Activities and Adventures in Impressionism (Art Explorers)
Other art styles for further exploration:
  • Expressionism: late 1800s to 1900s
  • Abstract: 1940s
  • Surrealism/Dadaism: 1900s 
For more in depth art study: Art and Creative Development for Young Children by Robert Schirrmacher, 4th Edition

Want more art? Check out my other art blog posts here and here!

Want more Montessori lower elementary? Read my other 6 to 9 blog posts here and here. Check out my recommendations for Montessori and homeschool books here!
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