For Year 1 we have been using Harmony Fine Arts grade 1 curriculum. It has worked very well for us and been an inexpensive and fun addition to our school.
The Harmony Fine Arts curriculum is laid out to give you 1 composer and 1 artist to study during a 4 week time period. Also listed are which pictures to view each week and where to find them on the internet. This is a huge time saver and makes it very easy to implement into our lives.
On Friday we gather around the computer and read a short biography about the focus artist, then I load the picture to study on the computer and enlarge it so we see the whole thing (we do have a larger screen and this does help). Alissa and Thomas and I spend a few minutes studying the picture and then I turn the screen off and they narrate to me what the remember and what their impressions were, I generally join in on this since it's fun to hear the different impressions that each of us get from one picture.
Next I turn the screen back on and we talk about the different layers of the painting (foreground, background etc.) we also discuss how it was painted and maybe what the artist was thinking when he painted it.
Each of the kids have enjoyed this and their impressions are always very unique and interesting.
I also set the picture as the computer wallpaper so that we can enjoy it for the rest of the week!
For the composer study at the beginning of the month we read the biography of the target composer and then put in the cd to listen to his music. I try to pick out 1 or 2 songs to focus on and discuss so that they are familiar with specific pieces. Also I try to find a few piano pieces of that particular composer to play for the kids throughout the month.
I also check our library for any kids picture books that can accompany either the artist or composer we are studying. There are usually quite a few books of the most famous composers i.e. Mozart, Beethoven, Bach.
When we were studying about Mozart I found a college theatrical production of the Magic Flute on youtube and amazingly the children watched most of it and enjoyed it immensly. I've also found video performances of Vivaldi pieces to familiarize Alissa and Thomas with the instruments they were hearing.
When I remember I try and find a clipart picture of the composer and artist to paste into our Book of Centuries. I haven't accomplished this every month but will be trying to get back to doing that.