Every subject has its stereotypes, from the explosions in chemistry classrooms to the English teacher’s droning monologue. But there is no reason to stay stuck in boring made-for-tv versions of school and learning. Even if you truly did have a boring English class growing up, your children don’t have to. These English activities for homeschooling high school are amazing resources available to us today!
Teaching High School English In Your Homeschool
Create a learning environment in your homeschool that visually encapsulates the wonder of the written word and the magic of storytelling. High School English in your homeschool can come to life by infusing your studies with imagination, hands-on activities, and student-led learning.
The Value Of Adding Art To English For High School Learning
I have long been a fan of interdisciplinary learning (AKA, unit studies!). When I taught in a traditional classroom, my students would write creative newsletters for history class, design advertisements for the school play using persuasive language, or create poems about math!
As a homeschool mom, I’ve loved adding art to all our subjects with the help of Nana’s wide range of video art lessons. We have used chalk pastel art to study birds, outer space, ancient history, and more.
English is no exception! When students enter high school, there may be a tendency to isolate the academic subjects from each other. Yet art remains a wonderful way to explore and express knowledge and learning in the English classroom.
Through art, you can prove multi-sensory learning for your older student. Not only will they read a story, hear a story, and/or write a story, but they can also visualize the story through their drawings!
What better way to make the setting of the Shire come to life than by painting a Hobbit hole?
Or how can you show the poignant moment of the March family longing for their father to return from the war than by drawing Mrs. March reading one of her husband’s letters and imagining scenes of war?
Literary concepts and storylines truly come alive when visualized. Students who may struggle to explain themselves in words, can share their understanding of a piece of literature through art!
Engaging English Activities For Homeschooling High School
All aspects of storytelling can be expressed using the art lessons from You Are An Artist. Here are just a few ideas:
Explore characterization by drawing main characters. You can have a fine discussion of protagonist and antagonist while you draw. Or, compare main characters and secondary characters. Discuss character traits, flaws, and what makes a character a hero or a villain in the story.
Read Little Women and draw Jo March. Discuss how the description of Jo in the novel is reflected in your drawing. How is Jo’s appearance similar to her personality?
Draw Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Discuss how the author and the character are similar and different. I especially love how Nana draws Elizabeth alone by the cliff, instead of in a drawing room. Perhaps discuss how setting and character work together in this scene.
Description and Setting:
So many iconic settings of literature can be brought to mind with a single image. Like the lamppost of Narnia. Or the Hobbit door of The Shire.
High schoolers can start with one of Nana’s lessons depicting story setting, like:
- A Visit to the Shire (which gives a wider perspective of the scene)
- The Secret Garden
- The Lake of Shining Waters from Anne of Green Gables
- I Went to the Woods, Henry David Thoreau
- Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Disciples of Christ
- The Power of Adding Art to Literature Lessons
- The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien
- Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
- The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, Howard Pyle
Encourage students to find examples of setting description in the novel they’re reading to quote as captions below their drawings. This helps students learn to provide text evidence from their reading for what they just drew.
As an extension, students could draw other scenes from their reading using what they’ve learned fro Nana’s lessons.
Storyline, Plots, and Conflict:
I especially love Nana’s Letter to Home Little Women lesson for discussing storyline. Not only does it depict setting (the March house), but it also captures the issues facing the March family in this novel. The conflict of living in genteel poverty during wartime is shown in the simple hearth setting. Enduring years without a father/husband because of war and all the politics of war is also revealed in the painting. We see so many touches of home life here to discuss how the plot of this story centered around home life in the March family.
Going an An Adventure with J. R. R. Tolkien is another lesson where plot is portrayed. The concept of “the journey” is illustrated in this scene. Young readers can discuss how the plot and conflict of this story centers around the Fellowship and their journey. You could also have a conversation about how each character shown adds to the conflict or plot. and the role of friendship in coming to a resolution.
In addition to using these literature-based chalk pastel lessons to illustrate story elements and spark discussions, student can use their artwork in other ways:
- Cover art for reports and research papers.
- Storyboards to outline the narratives.
- Illustrations with favorite quotes as captions.
- Visual aid for oral presentations of their reading.
Additional Resources For High School Homeschooling
Literature can quickly become boring if students don’t have creative outlets to express and share their learning. Students crave being actively engaged in the learning process. Small children show us this easily, because they uninhibitedly touch and grab and play with things while we try to teach them. But older students have learned to sit quietly. Quiet listening is a good skill but it can also mask a disengaged learner.
Other subjects also benefit from an art connection.
History can be dry as dust unless you draw Presidents with Nana and hear various tidbits about each famous person. Or study ancient architecture like the pyramids, the Coliseum or medieval castles. Check out these additional Chalk Pastel Ancient History ideas.
Nana has a long list of American History lessons. High schoolers might enjoy learning more about the Three Branches of Government or the Constitution with art! Check out 7 American History Homeschool Lessons.
Or create brilliantly illustrated scientific diagrams of cells and bacteria in Science class. Find loads of cell activity ideas with chalk pastels here.
Create an eye-catching deep dive study into Moon Missions complete with illustrations of each of the space shuttles.
Geography becomes hands on with video art lessons on landmarks like Stonehenge and the Taj Mahal. These would pair wonderfully with some current event learning and mapping. For more Chalk Pastel Geography ideas, look here.
Discuss social movements like Suffrage and Civil Rights with Nana’s lessons.
Truly, every academic subject can be enhanced by an art connection. Nana has given homeschool families nearly 800 different lessons in the You Are An Artist collection that can touch every subject imaginable!
Providing opportunities to engage all the senses via art expression creates a multi-sensory approach to studying English literature, and other subjects. These chalk pastel art lessons make time-honored stories come alive in fresh ways for your teen student.
I highly recommend adding these English activities for homeschooling high school and for your other subjects. Your children will be delighted, and you will find yourself just wanting to add more and more chalk pastel to your week!
Julie is a teacher, writer and homeschool mom. Her blog Happy Strong Home shares encouragement for cherishing children, enjoying motherhood, and growing strong families. Discover homeschool resources, natural living tips, and family activity ideas. Julie has been featured on Million Praying Moms, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and the Melissa and Doug blog. She offers writing workshops and a “homeschool neighborhood” community to support parents in their homeschool adventures. Find Julie on Instagram to be the first to know when new workshops and community events are available.