We never get tired of inviting Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang into our home through comic collections and TV specials. In true homeschool fashion, our love for Charlie Brown led us to investigating Peanuts and its creator through a Charles Schulz Unit Study.
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As expected, my kids and I enjoyed learning about the life and legacy of Charles Schulz and how Peanuts came to be. We also learned about the cartooning process and how it’s changed over time. That was especially interesting to my son, who loves to draw and is currently working on his own comics.
All in all, we learned about a seemingly ordinary guy with extraordinary talent and big dreams. Here’s a brief look Charles Schulz’s life and the resources we found during our study.
Charles Schulz Biography
According to the Charles M. Schulz Museum, Schulz was born on November 26, 1922 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nicknamed “Sparky” by his uncle, Schulz lived with his father, a barber, and mother in St. Paul.
From an early age, Schulz looked forward to reading the comics in Sunday newspaper with his father and especially enjoyed Mickey Mouse, Popeye, and Skippy. By the time his drawing of his dog Spike was published in Ripley’s Believe It or Not in 1937, he wanted to do more than read comics. He knew he wanted to be a cartoonist himself.
Not long after that publication, Schulz enrolled in a correspondence course through the current-day Art Instruction Schools. For years after that, he continued to work on his art and adapt his comics to the changing genre.
In addition to getting started in cartooning, Schulz spent time in the military. This was an especially difficult time in his life due to mother’s death and the experiences that come with wartime. He returned home from the war in 1945 and took a job as an art instructor at his former school.
During his time as an instructor, he ran his first panel comic, Li’l Folks, in a local newspaper and sold one-panel cartoons to The Saturday Evening Post. He added Peanuts to his portfolio soon after. It ran for the first time on October 2, 1950 in seven newspapers.
Peanuts went on to run in 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries with the last original strip running on February 13, 2000, nearly 50 years after it started and one day after Schulz died.
Through the years, Peanuts became much more than a comic strip. The strip developed into book collections, musicals, TV specials, movies, and a billion-dollar franchise. Not bad for a guy who only wanted to be a cartoonist, huh?
Unit Study Resources
Want to include a Charles Schulz Unit Study in your homeschool plans? Here are the resources we found useful during our study.
What to Read
Books play a huge role in any unit study we do and this Charles Schulz Unit Study is no exception. Here are some of the reading selections we came across during our study:
- Sparky: The Life and Art of Charles Schulz by Beverly Gherman – This biography is a good match for older elementary kids and middle school students studying Schulz.
- Meet the Peanuts Gang! by Natalie Shaw – This is a great introduction to the beloved comic characters from Charles Schulz.
- Charlie Brown and Friends: A Peanuts Collection – If you can’t find any of the comic collections at your library, this is a good one to share with your kids.
- Charles Schulz: Basic Biographies by Cynthia Amoroso – If you can find this one at your local library or borrow it through Kindle Unlimited, go for it. It’s a great match for young readers and short attention spans, but it doesn’t have a ton of information.
- Charles Schulz: Children’s Storytellers by Kari Schuetz – This short biography is a great choice for younger elementary students.
- Charles Schulz (Real-Life Reader Biographies) by Jim Whiting – Check with your library for this title. It’s older, but is a good read for older elementary kids who are learning about Charles Schulz.
What to Watch
We like to include video elements in our unit studies whenever possible. Sometimes it’s through documentaries, clips about our topic, and sometimes it’s through viewing work from our person of interest. In the case of Charles Schulz, we used all three.
Here are some viewing ideas to get you started:
- My Charles Schulz YouTube Playlist – This is a small collection of Schulz-related videos I found.
- Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back) – It’s not about Schulz himself, but it’s a great example of his work. Plus, it’s a favorite movie from my childhood and I love it even now.
- Peanuts: The Emmy-Honored Collection – What Have We Learned Charlie Brown? is a favorite of mine from this collection and it’s hard to find. That said, I can recall specific things I learned about World War II from this Peanuts movie to this day. It’s a brilliant representation of how Schulz educated and inspired through his work.
Free Printable Pack
There are plenty of Charlie Brown and Peanuts resources available online, but I couldn’t find anything for Charles Schulz specifically. That lead me to create my own printable pack for this unit study.
This free four-page pack is a good unit study compliment for elementary students who are studying Schulz. It includes a page for biographical information, creative writing, copywork, and interesting facts.
You can access this printable pack in the Subscriber Resource Library using the password in your most recent email from Table Life Blog. Not a subscriber? Sign up using the form below:
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Peanuts Art Projects
You should know by now that we can’t do a unit study without incorporating some art into our plans. Here are some Schulz-inspired art ideas I found for our study:.
- Charlie Brown and Snoopy Watercolor Art from Where Imagination Grows (Pin it here)
- How to Draw Snoopy and Woodstock from Art for Kids Hub (Pin it here)
- Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Pastel Art from Hodgepodge (Pin it here)
Peanuts Snack Ideas
Want to add a yummy element to your Charles Schulz Unit Study? Thanks to the recent release of The Peanuts Movie, there are plenty of easy Peanuts-themed treats to enjoy. Here are a few snack ideas I found:
- Easy Charlie Brown Pizza from Fun Finds for Families (Pin it here)
- Charlie Brown Brownies from Young at Heart Mommy (Pin it here)
- Snoopy Cookies from Happy Brown House (Pin it here)
I hope you enjoy learning about Charles Schulz’s life and legacy as much as we have. His work has made fans smile for more than fifty years and is certain to continue for many years to come.
Charles Schulz isn’t the only inspiring person with a November birthday. Stop by iHomeschool Network and check out more November Birthday posts.