So, sure, I can share the “plan” but just remember, the “plan” is always wildly conditional upon God’s gracious leading.
On that note, let’s take a look at the “plan” we’ve been following and will continue following in 2016…
History and Geography
has been a spine for much of our study this year and we will continue with it into 2016. I really love the way SCM puts together their guides. They are very gentle, very flexible, and very family-learning focused. (So, the whole family is learning the content together.) We have all loved two of the major read-alouds for this era as well, Stories of America Volume 1, and Stories of the Nations Volume 1. (Both from Simply Charlotte Mason.)
Some additional family read-alouds we are using this year for History:
We love history read-alouds. This is part of our family reading. These include picture books (many, many picture books which I haven’t shown here), chapter books, historical fiction, non-fiction living books, and whatever else we feel inspired to read!
We have used this Book of Time since 5 years ago. Really, there should be a LOT more in it. History Timelines (or Book of Centuries, as some people call them – however, these are slightly different) are a part of Charlotte Mason-style learning.
They really help our whole family make wonderful connections between the people we are studying, the novels we are reading, and the history we are covering. I try hard to print out color pictures of the things we will be covering with corresponding years. This year I also started printing out the covers of the actual books we were reading. This serves as a really fantastic visual reminder of the kinds of things that happened in the beloved stories at this particular time in history.
For example, as you can see below, we have a photo of the Revolutionary War, along with it is our photo of the cover of Johnny Tremain, which we read together. Then below, there are two other books my eldest read – Guns for General Washington and The Buffalo Knife. We can see in correspondence to the timeline which happened when. Also, on the opposite photo, we can see that Robert Louis Stevensen was alive and writing poetry at the same time as the Ingalls family, which is very interesting when you are reading the Little House books AND covering Stevensen’s poetry in the same year.
This year, we’ve really been enjoying the Holling C. Holling books. They are classic ‘Charlotte Mason Book List’ books, but they are tried and true living books and our kids do love them. The one thing I do not love about them is the minor evolutionary lean they have to them in small parts. *sigh* As a whole though, I have found this to be very minor in the context of the entire book(s).
We have been using these for history/geography reading as well as narration. The chapters are short (Paddle to the Sea’s chapters are one page with full illustrations on every page, MINN has 2-3 page chapters). They work well for Narration and very well for Notebooking… so we use them for both. I did assign all three children their OWN Holling book, and it worked well. (Our 7-year-old did Paddle, our 8-year-old did Tree in the Trail, and our 10 year old did MINN). At his request (begging?), I also started reading Seabird with our youngest and will continue into the new year.
Julie at Butterflies and Barefoot Lasses has created some great FREE notebooking pages to go along with these titles. They aren’t totally Charlotte Mason in their approach, but I pieced together some pretty neat stuff from them, especially the maps and map prompts!
Free Paddle-to-the-Sea Notebooking Pages
We are also using two classic Charlotte Mason geography resources. Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason herself, and Home Geography for Primary Grades by C.C. Long. These are both pretty old books that are available for free online. These are both excellent primers for elementary geography in a very conversational style. I love both books for the same reasons – they are very similar but it is worth working through both with your children. I find Elementary Geography to be slightly easier and shorter, so we start there and progress to Long’s.
I am working hard on completing free Notebooking Pages for each book and will post them as soon as they are ready.
For now, however, I did create two FREE ebook files of each of these Geography ‘curriculums’, which you can easily download right here.
Bible and Scripture Memory, Hymn Study, Habit Training, Hero Admiration, Poetry
We LOVE Bible Road Trip!!! It has been a major blessing to our family as we work through Danika’s wonderful bible program. It is available completely free in separate downloads, or you can pay a one time fee for the ease of downloading the whole year in one chunk. (Worth the savings in frustration and time, in my opinion!)
This program caters to multi-ages (elementary to high school). There are three years, we are working through Year 1 this year. By the time we finish year 3, we will have covered the entire bible, which I love! This program comes with fantastic Notebooking Pages too! I can’t say enough positive things about Bible Road Trip – I have a full review coming soon.
We are also using the Adventure Bible Book of Devotions for Early Readers for daily devotions and most often we use the Chronological Life Application Study Bible for bible read-alouds.
by Steve Green. We’ve been using Volume 1 and 2 with little printed/laminated verses to go with it. Each week we do a new verse and a new song to go along with it. These tunes are so fun and have really helped us get God’s word in our hearts!
Habit Training/Character Formation:
For a couple years now, we have been using Laying Down the Rails as well as Laying Down the Rails for Children: A Habit Training Companion. I absolutely love BOTH resources. I have not found a better resource for a Charlotte Mason-based habit/character study.
Laying Down the Rails is a HUGE resources for habit training and character formation in children (and ourselves!). It covers all the major habits and gives pointers for how to implement them in our homes. I was a little unsure how to ‘teach’ habits and properly inspire the kids at first, but, I found the companion to be an invaluable resource. It helped me bridge the gap as I apply these habits and try to ‘teach’ them on a weekly basis. The companion reads almost like a lesson book and everything you need is there to walk through each habit. These books are HUGE (400 pages…) and worth the money, in my opinion! They will last for years and years as you work through them.
Poetry is one of my favorite things. I love reading poetry with the children and memorizing poetry together. We have read through so many poetry books, I couldn’t possibly list them all! This year, we read through A Child’s Garden of Verses (not my favorite poetry book to be honest), All Day Long (this is a BEAUTIFUL poem book), both of A.A.Milne’s poetry books, and A Child’s Book of Poems.
For poetry memorization, we are using Christina Rossetti’s shorter poems. (For example: The Caterpillar, Who Has Seen the Wind?)
Composer Study, Music, Art, Aritist and Picture Study (and some biographies):
. We’ve been using the free trial for Piano, Ukulele, and my husband is learning Guitar. What a great program!
Nature Study and Natural Science
We love Nature Study and we love Natural Science. Nature Study has played a huge role in our homeschool since the beginning. We have found so many incredible resources over the years but by far, the best resources are… wait for it… books. Yep. Just good old fashioned living books about all things Nature Study. Biographies of Scientists and Naturalists, books about animals and nature, and living non-fiction books. I would encourage you to purchase as many living books about nature as you can. They are invaluable tools that you will visit over and over again.
Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study is a resource we use constantly in our homeschool.
We also use our Nature Notebooks as often as we can.
Here are some of the books we are using this year:
I love, love, love NaturExplorers from Shining Dawn Books. I have written extensively about this fantastic program and you can visit my main review right here. We will be hopefully working through some of the stuff from the units for Ice and Snow, Constant Conifers, and Captivating Clouds this Winter and Spring.
Hello, my name is Cassandra, and I’m a Language Arts addict. Now, if only I could get my two sons on board… No, really though, I love English and all things Language Arts so I have spent the past 7 years trying to find the *best* programs, curriculums, etc. for Language Arts and I have realized this – you don’t really need much, my friend.
We’ve narrowed it down to a few tried and true resources and we will stick to these. They are gentle, Charlotte Mason-based Language Arts programs. We do not use a ‘writing program’. For writing, we use written narration as the children get older.
So, here’s what we are using/have used…
Alright. I have this huge internal struggle with Grammar. Part of me (the logical part, which is hard to find most days) knows that grammar is important. But another part of me wants to stamp and scream when I see anything along the lines of diagramming sentences or classifying parts of speech.
Honestly? I think most children learn most grammar by reading (and being read) high quality literature and taking part in every day conversations. So, our grammar is introduced at about age 8 or 9 and is done with a very gentle approach.
We bounce between English for the Thoughtful Child (Volumes 1 and 2) and Simply Grammar. I do, however, use both mostly orally. We stay away from a lot of grammar drill or writing ‘drill’. Grammar is learned through copywork, dictation, and oral and written narration.
Spelling and Dictation:
We don’t use spelling lists. We use dictation. There are a few resources for dictation I can recommend. The first is a series of books by Kate Van Wagenen published in the early 1900s. These are called, Dictation Day by Day and you can easily find year 2-6 online on open archives. We use these daily and they have improved our children’s (our 8 and 10 year old) writing, spelling, punctuation, and attention skills!
Simply Charlotte Mason also has a spelling program by the way of dictation called, Spelling Wisdom. It progresses much faster than Dictation Day by Day. I think this is partly because it is made for once-a-week use. It is also a very good resource, however, quite challenging. I feel like a child who completely Level 5 would be a PHENOMENAL speller, far better than me! (See… I had to spell-check the word phenomenal…haha!)
Thoughts on Narration:
Narration is something we are still working on. I think part of the thing with Narration is that it doesn’t need to be so formal as many of us think. Narration is really just your child telling you what they know and when we approach it this way, it is easier. For narration, I try to use specific books for our narrations. These include age appropriate levels of difficulty and length. So, for example, 7-year-old Alex uses stories from Aesop’s Fables for Children, 8-year-old Audrey uses stories from 50 Famous Stories Retold.
Often times, I have simply used the, “Tell me everything you know about…” question and recorded their answers. It is amazing what they retain when they learn through living books! I find the whole, “Tell me what you know” process works better for us than narrating back right after a reading. Though, we do use both methods.
We also narrate from our History readings, and various novels, Bible readings, etc.
Oh, reading. I would say this topic of reading is the topic many Moms find stressful, especially homeschool Moms. And, rightfully so, I suppose – reading is IMPORTANT!
We have just started looking at Delightful Reading from Simply Charlotte Mason but have not used it yet (it looks awesome…). We have, however, used and LOVED All About Reading. I see many of Charlotte Mason’s theories about reading applied to the All About Reading Program, to be honest!
My son went from non-reading to reading in only a couple months using AAR Level 1 (read my full review along with all my AAR posts, here). It’s a great reading program. We have worked through Level 1 and are currently working through Level 2.
Okay, so, I’ve heard the debates about Charlotte Mason educators saying no to ‘readers’ and I understand it in part. In my opinion, the kind of readers Charlotte would have considered ‘twaddle’ would be very basic, boring, word-focused readers with no living stories and minimal vocabulary.
They exist, but there is so much out there for beginning readers now, including TONS of great living books! Here are some of the ‘readers’ we are using:
Thoughts on Copywork:
I think copywork is way over complicated by so many Charlotte Mason homeschoolers. You don’t need a specially purchased “copywork” workbooks, which are often marketed. All you need is good paper, pencils, and worthwhile, age-appropriate content for your child to copy.
Copywork doesn’t need to cost you a penny. We have spent years using simple poems, scriptures, sentences from books we were reading, quotes from great thinkers, and short fables and riddles to name a few.
If you are looking for a specific resource for copywork, one I do recommend is Draw Write Now (I did a huge review of the books here). These are beautiful, non-consumable copywork and drawing books that encourage children to really enjoy doing their copywork! They are also wonderful drawing books. All three of our children truly enjoy working through these and they have been completely invaluable in our homeschool for a massive variety of topics!
.We use NotebookingPages.com and absolutely LOVE the site. They have pages for just about every topic you could need or want. We use Notebooking for most subjects, including: Bible, History, Geography, Nature Study, Artist and Composer Study, Poetry, Copywork… you name it! Everything goes in one book and at the end of the year it is a work of art worthy of keeping and treasuring!
Just a few of the books our eldest (10 year old boy) is reading this year:
Ok. So, Math is one of those things that I feel we just ‘have to do’. I’m trying really hard not to pass on my mediocre sentiments about Math to our children, but it is a struggle…
We do, however, love Teaching Textbooks and have used it for about 3 years now. I will stick with these from grade 3 onward for all of the children (that’s when they start). Our youngest is finishing up Singapore 1B and then will move to Teaching Textbooks grade 3 (which is really more like 2, to be honest) and slowly work through it for his grade 2 year.
We also play a ton of games, read books dealing with numbers and mathmatical thinking.
Five in a Row
Here are the titles we hope to work through in 2016.
Home Education/Charlotte Mason books I highly recommend:
(Bible-Based Homeschooling) is fantastic, A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison, and
by Marcia Somerville has been a wonderful inspiration!
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