Saturday, January 31, 2015

My Favorite Charlotte Mason resources so far... January 2015

I am desperately trying to remember where I first heard about the Charlotte Mason method but I am drawing a blank. It may have been a neighbor that loaned me the book, For the Children's Sake, or it may have been through my friend Lacy, or it may have been through Sally Clarkson's ministry. It was probably one of those, so thank you to those mentioned above. :)

Since finding out about Charlotte Mason I have found some of my favorite websites and resources to teach me and guide me as I learn and develop as a Charlotte Mason homeschooler. 

Charlotte Mason Resources:

Getting Started with CM
Transitioning to CM
Curriculum options that follow/support the Charlotte Mason method
Helpful Websites
Recommended Books:
Facebook Groups
CM Early Years (preschool/kindergarten  Year 0, Year .5)

A Week in the Life of our Charlotte Mason preschool

My previous post was about the resources and tools we are using for each "subject" in our kindergarten, so you can start there if you like. 

As a bit of a disclaimer: Charlotte Mason didn't begin formal training or advocate for beginning formal schooling until age 6. She did offer suggestions for earlier ages though and I have based our schooling off of that. 

Here is what a week of our home school looks like right now. 

We only do school about 2-3 days a week total. My 2 oldest go to their grandparents' house twice a week and my oldest goes to a literature class one morning a week. That leaves us about 2-2.5 days a week, and we also do a few things on the weekends sometimes. Home schooling is just becoming part of the rhythm of our life so it doesn't even always feel like "school." Actually most of the time it doesn't feel like "school" because it is so natural and enjoyable. 

  • Morning 1
    • Start off with the calendar and weather. 
    • Bible story
    • Review Catechism, review Songs for Sapplings verses
    • Introduce new S for S song and verse and corresponding letter of the alphabet. We listen to the song, talk about the verse, then color the sheet and letter that goes with it. We sometimes talk about words that start with that letter and review the sounds that letter makes. 
    • We find a country to pray for that begins with our letter and if I have any corresponding missions material for that country we may read that as well. We find our country on the map. We pray. 
    • If either of them is still interested (the 2 year old usually is in and out or completely done by now or earlier) we will read some living books on a variety of subjects. We also try to do some preschool books or toys with the 2 year old to help her with colors, numbers, shapes, etc. The older one may sometimes pick out several books and sometimes pick out zero. We're done when they decide we're done. 
  • Afternoon 1 (during 2 year old's nap time)
    • We do our Language Lessons for Little One and our Math Lessons for a Living Education. We alternate which one we do first. We spend no longer than 15 minutes on each and sometimes shorter, depending on my 4 year old's attention. Sometimes she wants to do more so we do a bit more on some days. 
    • We end with a story from one of our read alouds, which is currently our Treasury of Children's Literature
  • Morning 2
    • start off with calendar and weather
    • Bible story
    • review Catechism and verse
    • Coloring the Classics (composer study)
    • Art study 
    • Living books/playful learning, etc. 
  • Afternoon 2 (same as afternoon 1)
  • Afternoon 3-- Tea Time (currently during 2 year old's nap)
    • I want to try to have a habit of tea time once a week with my kiddos. It is a lost art form that I want to learn more about and serve tea properly. :)
    • During tea time we read poetry, do our devotion (For Such a Time as This), and end with reading from a read aloud. We are reading through 20th Century Children's Book Treasury during this time currently. 
  • Weekends
    • I try to do something fun during one of the weekend afternoons, like math and reading board games, or play cards. We also go over the Habit we are working on during the weekend so daddy can talk about it too. 
    • This is also a good time for my oldest to do art, nature study, or a handicraft. 
    • We do our family devotions on Sunday nights currently, and we do our hymn study, catechism, and will soon be introducing a missions moment. 
  • Afternoons: We will do Little Pim Spanish in the afternoons once or twice a week after the toddler naps. 
(Disclaimer: a lot of our "extra" schooling comes from the wonderful folks at PBS. I have a 6 month old right now know how that it!)

That's it! It's pretty simple right now and we are all enjoying it! 

The morning school time takes about 30-45 minutes total. I should mention we try to do this time outside as much as possible so on the days that we are outside we will throw in a nature study as well.
The afternoon school takes about 30-45 minutes as well. So we are only doing about 1-1.5 hours of structured school time each day. Of course throughout the day we may be listening to our hymn or playing math games or talking about nature and God's creation as well, going on a walk, etc. We often listen to folk music or classical music while we eat or play. Then we get outside whenever possible to play and explore nature. 

  • We are part of a Charlotte Mason of Memphis facebook group that is talking about getting a co-op together. 
  • I also have a good buddy that I have walked the mothering journey and now am walking the homeschooling journey with. We hope to get together and do nature studies and maybe some other subjects as well. 
  • Classical Conversations. Before you alert the firing squad, I know! CC is not Charlotte Mason. I will go ahead and tell you now I am not a CM Purist, I am a "whatever meets the needs of my family"-ist. CM resonates most with me so we will be using CM at home, but I personally think that CC can be a good co-op for us to join that has many similarities to CM. We won't be emphasizing memorization and we will stick to CM as for how we teach and implement things. We may use some CC or classical resources, but we will use them in a CM way or in whatever way meets the needs of my children the best. We will evaluate each year if CC is still a good supplement for us. It is one morning a week so it will basically replace the literature class my oldest is currently in. 
You can feel free to follow any of my Spotify playlists.  Music is a big part of our day! We often break out in dance as well and grab instruments to play with! :)

For more ideas on what a Charlotte Mason preschool/kindergarten can look like you can check out my pinterest board. 

Hope some of that helps!!! Check back for my next post on general Charlotte Mason resources that have been helpful to me, or get a sneak peak by looking at my pinterest board. 

Actually, I have several CM boards on pinterest so feel free to check all of them out. 

Our "Charlotte Mason" Preschool/Kindergarten Resources

For More on the Charlotte Mason method and philosophy check out my first post here.

Now for a bit of a disclaimer first. Charlotte Mason did not recommend any formal schooling until the age of six, but there were a few things she thought were important in the early years. I will share some of the books and resources we are using, as well as a few "extras".  My oldest will be five in May and we just started doing a more structured home school this past January.

  1.  Charlotte wanted little ones to be outside as much as possible and to explore God's creation. 
    1. We try to get outside as much as possible and I just let the kids play and observe. We try to do a super short nature study with the oldest (4.5) once or twice a month. She has a blank nature journal where she draws what she observes and then I label it and date it. Right now she just uses colored pencils, but I would like to try water colors or dry brushing in the future. We have a nature guide called Fun with Nature, and I hope to purchase Handbook of Nature Study soon.
    2. They received lots of fun science toys for Christmas like magnifying glasses, binoculars, excavation tools, etc. We use these as they have interest. 
    3. We have done a few nature projects, like a caterpillar to butterfly kit, as well as having bird feeders on our windows so we can bird watch. We have bird houses on our windows that we hope have nests built in them this spring. 
    4. There are lots of great living nature books for preschool age. We have the Outdoor Secrets book that we are reading through now. For younger kids Ruth Heller has lots of great living science/nature books that we love. For my oldest I also want to get the Burgess Bird Book for Children, and Animal Book to read through next. Another on my list is Jame's Herriot's Treasury for Children.
  2. Bible
    1. Charlotte read directly from the Bible, which is what she recommends for any age, young or old. 
    2. BUT, Charlotte didn't have some of the amazing storybook Bibles that we do now, so I tend to prefer some quality storybook Bibles for young ones. We love Jesus Storybook Bible, which is what we are using now. I plan to check out the Gospel Storybook Bible next, and hopefully use Catherine Vos's Bible for Children by first grade (or possibly kindergarten). 
    3. For Scripture Memory we are using Songs for Sapplings with a corresponding curriculum from a free online homeschooling curriculum.  It also has alphabet introduction in it that is fun for my littlest (2) and my oldest for review. 
    4. Devotion: I found this beautiful one that I think Charlotte Mason would love by Angie Smith called For Such a Time As This. It is recommended for ages 7 and up but my 4.5 year old really loves it. 
  3. Habits
    1. As a disclaimer: I have found it so hard to find any habit training that is grace based and truly Christ centered. I like to teach habits by pointing to Jesus who has perfect character in my place because I can't. Then I like to tell my children about the "habit" and we pray that Christ will help them develop this. I do not expect perfection in them because I do not have it myself, nor will I ever. So keep that in mind as I make recommendations. 
    2. We are currently using the Simply Charlotte Mason habits curriculum. You can find the parent handbook here and the exercises to correspond here. 
    3. I have also looked at Sally Clarkson's 24 family ways and it looks good.
    4. You will also find that by just reading through a storybook bible you can find character qualities to pull out and discuss. 
    5. Always, always, always point each habit/character/virtue back to Jesus please!!! Don't raise a Pharisee.  
  4. Read Alouds
    1. I am a bit of a book hoarder so.... Charlotte Mason homeschooling is perfect for me! Or dangerous for me, not sure which!!! We are reading through A Treasury of Children's Literature and a 20th Century Children's Literature Treasury right now. We also love Beatrix Potter, A.A. Milne and several others. Think "classics" and you've got an idea of what kind of living books to pick. For some ideas you can look at my amazon lists (but don't purchase from here or it will disappear and I will forget to buy it)
      1. Toddler/Board Book Lists
      2. Preschool/ Early Read Aloud
      3. For more book lists for preschoolers just google" Charlotte Mason preschool book lists" or something like that. 
  5. Music, Poetry, Art, Handicrafts
    1. I haven't really dove into handicrafts yet. I am not crafty at all. I plan on using my husband to teach a lot of the things, like woodworking. He takes the girls to the free workshops at Home Depot where they build and paint and hammer all sorts of useful things. My mom and step mom are also very handy and I hope they will teach my girls all sorts of skills like needlework, sewing, basket weaving, knitting, etc. Also, my dad is an amazing carpenter. If we depend on the skills of the "village" handiworks should be covered. :)
    2. Music. We are using Coloring the Classics right now. They have beautiful pictures about life scenes from famous composers that they color while we listen to 3-4 or their pieces. There is also short biographical information that corresponds with the pictures. It is just the right pace for my kiddos. You can use Spotify to create all sorts of playlists to listen to throughout the day of whichever composer you want to expose your children to.
    3. Art. My oldest loves art but I seriously am lacking in this area. I bought her tons of art supplies that I never help her use. Mommy fail!! I plan to at least start making water color painting a priority soon. As far as art study I have several beautiful pieces of art displayed in their play room and we have several art books for kids that we use. Usborne Child's Book of Art, the Come Look with Me Series, and Baby Einstein's Alphabet Art Book.  We simply look at the picture and study it and then I see if they want to say anything about it. For living books about art we love the Katie series by James Mayhew.
    4. Poetry. We are reading through A Children's Garden of Verses right now. We also have Favorite Poems Old and New that could last for our entire homeschooling career. I would like to do some Mother Goose with the younger ones but I always forget to pull it out. 
  6. Reading, Writing, Math
    1. For language arts we are using Queen's Homeschool Langauge Lessons for Little Ones. It is a very gentle introduction to a lot of Charlotte Mason concepts. It includes handwriting, poetry, picture study, narration, letter recognition. There are several different levels to choose from as well.  After we work through a couple of those books we plan to use Delightful Reading and Delightful Handwriting by Simply Charlotte Mason. 
    2. My kid loves Math more than anything. During the early years we have done a lot of math through play. Numbers are all around us, we simply need to be aware of them and use creative ways to make math fun. We have lots of shape and color toys and lots of blocks. You can find math manipulatives online or at parent teacher tools stores. Also, Duplo blocks and Legos are great as manipulatives! We have an abacus and sorting bears, as well as dice that are fun to use. Calendars and clocks are great concepts to introduce as well. We just started the Math Lessons for a Living Education by Queen's homeschool and we love it. It tells a story about two kids on a farm and there are math exercises built in.
  7. Other
    1. We watch Little Pim for Spanish (free on Amazon Prime) and sometimes we watch Baby Signing Time or Signing Time (Netflix) for sign language. 
    2. We do Hymn Study during our family devotions on Sunday nights. You can check out my posts on Hymn Study here.
    3. We do Catechism during family devotions as well and we are using the New City Catechism.
    4. We hope to start our oldest in classical ballet in the fall. 
    5. I would love to start basic piano or music class with them, but I am waiting until they show more of an interest. I have looked at Music for Little Mozarts for this. 
  8. Cultures/Geography
    1. I will need to write a separate post on this in the future, but I just recently found some amazing resources for missions study that I will share soon. This isn't necessarily Charlotte Mason but I assume she incorporated it into her geography, bible, and history lessons.  Look for that post coming soon....
    2. We will be doing our missions moment during family devotions, but we also pray for a country that corresponds with whatever letter we are doing for the week with our Songs for Sapplings. 
That may seem like a lot, but in my next post I will share what our week looks like. :)

Why We Love Charlotte Mason...and a few suggestions for the Early Years

The more I learn about Charlotte Mason and her education philosophy, the more I love her!!! 

First of all, she was British, which is huge in my book, since I love all things British. :) 

Charlotte was alive in the 1800s and into the early 1900s. She was a major influence in the reform of the British education system and believed that all children had the right to a quality education, regardless of social status. She had a school where she taught governesses and teachers and her philosophy of education spread all across Britain. (For a more extensive bio on Charlotte visit )

Now this is where her philosophy really strikes a cord with me. Charlotte believed that children were persons that were to be valued. This might not seem revolutionary to us, but in a time of "children should be seen and not heard" this was huge. She believed that the whole child should be educated, not just the mind. Her methods were gentle, but not "light" or easy. She had a high standard for her students, but her methods took great care to not squelch any desire for learning. For more on her philosophy go here...

Some Charlotte Mason distinctive:
  • Charlotte was a Christian and believed that God was to be found in each subject, since He is in fact the author and creator of all things. 
  • Her method of teaching history was chronological, used living books and narration, and used THE living book-- The Bible. 
  • Across the subjects she used living books as much as possible. 
  • Great quality literature was introduced to the child at an early age. She had a high view of children and did not want them reading anything that talked down to them or that was sub par literature. 
  • She spread a feast of subjects before the students: art study, composer study, hymn and folk study, poetry study, Shakespeare, foreign language, physical exercise of sorts, and nature study, art instruction, music instruction, handicrafts. 
  • She kept subjects short, about 15-20 minutes (or shorter) for younger children, and gradually increased the time as children got older. This helped them to develop the habit of attention and best effort. This also allowed time to spread such a great feast of subjects before the children. 
  • She emphasized good habits for children, especially in the early years. She said if children had developed good habits in the early years, such as obedience, attention, and best effort, this would make for "smooth and easy days" during the schooling years. 
  • Charlotte was a Christian naturalist and put a high priority on nature study and time in the out doors. She liked preschool age children to spend up to 6 hours or more outside, and recommended that all children spend at least an hour outside each day and spent time each week doing a nature study.
  • Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are also taught, but she had gentle methods that were suited to continue to develop the child's desire for learning.  
  • You can use the "one room schoolhouse" approach for most subjects to keep your family together for a good portion of the schooling. 
  • Overall, Charlotte wanted the children to develop relationships with living books and with things. She wanted the children to develop relations with God's creation, the world around them, and great living books and ideas.  
  • Bonus: The method is financially feasible. You can get most of your books from the library, or ebay for very cheap. Also, many of the books recommended can be found free online. 

1. Get outside. Explore.

That's it. Think you can handle that??? But really, Charlotte had a very gentle approach for the early years and didn't promote formal schooling until age 6, or 1st grade. 

Many people have added in a few other things that Charlotte placed priority on or that their children express great interest in, but basically just get them outside exploring nature and the world around them and you are doing great.

BUT, if you need a few more suggestions that you want to consider gently adding into your preschool homeschooling years here are a few... 

2. Concentrate on developing good habits (character/virtue), read great literature out loud to your children, and read the Bible.

3. Spread a feast before them of handicrafts, art, music, and poetry.

4. If the child shows interest in math, reading, or writing, gently introduce those. Remember to keep the subjects short, and use gentle methods of teaching.

That's it!!! Charlotte didn't recommend formal schooling until the age of 6, so anything you do before then isn't even necessary (according to Charlotte). 

Resources to get you started or help you learn more about the Charlotte Mason method:
Free Resources from Simply Charlotte Mason
Quick Reads to get you started
My "early years" pinterest board
Early Years blog series  
Preschool resources for purchase

New to Homeschooling? Use this to learn more about all of the methods

To see what we are using for our Charlotte Mason preschool/kindergarten you can click here.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hymn Study using Spotify

If you're looking for a Hymn Study you've come to the right place. Whether you plan to home school or after school or just need some tools for teaching great hymns to your kids, an organized plan for a hymn study is very helpful.  Or if you just enjoy listening to great hymns you will find my spotify channels wonderful!

We plan to use a mix of classical and Charlotte Mason style homeschooling. Charlotte Mason was BIG on hymn study, but even before we stumbled upon the amazingness of Charlotte Mason, I was convinced to teach my kids hymns, because hymns are absolutely rich and full of theology and I love them! Really, I would much prefer to sing hymns any day, than some of the shallow, repetitive lyrics that are modern day worship songs, but I digress...

Below you will find my complete list of Hymns for 6 Hymn Cycles. We will repeat the cycles until all the kids have graduated or left home. I also have a corresponding spotify playlist for each one, as well as a spotify playlist with all hymns. Feel free to use whatever is helpful to you!!!  We plan on doing a hymn study as part of our Sunday night family devotions, along with the New City Catechism and a Missions Moment. 

You can follow my pinterest board:

Here are some good hymn sites for further information on each hymn:

Here is my Spotify:

  1. Holy, Holy, Holy
  2. Jesus Paid it All
  3. My Jesus I Love Thee
  4. Take My Life and Let it Be
  5. Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
  6. Solid Rock
  7. I Need Thee Every Hour
  8. Satisfied
  9. Christmas Hymns
  10. Lent Hymns

  1. Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee
  2. Amazing Grace
  3. Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul
  4. Because He Lives
  5. When Trials Come
  6. Arise My Soul
  7. How Deep The Father’s Love
  8. Day by Day
  9. Christmas Hymns
  10. Lent Hymns

  1. A Mighty Fortress
  2. Be Thou My Vision
  3. There is a Fountain
  4. What a Friend We Have in Jesus
  5. Be Still My Soul
  6. O the Deep Deep Love
  7. Jesus Lover of My Soul
  8. His Eye is on the Sparrow
  9. Christmas Hymns
  10. Lent Hymns

  1. He Will Hold Me Fast
  2. Savior Like a Shepherd
  3. Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow
  4. Blessed Assurance
  5. Facing a Task Unfinished
  6. It Is Well
  7. All Hail the Power of Jesus Name
  8. I’ll Fly Away
  9. Christmas Hymns
  10. Lent Hymns

  1. Come Thou Fount
  2. Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise  
  3. O How He Loves you and Me
  4. Out of My Bondage, Sorrow, and Night
  5. All Creatures of Our God and King
  6. I Surrender All
  7. Stand Amazed in His Presence
  8. In Christ Alone
  9. Christmas Hymns
  10. Lent Hymns

  1. And Can it Be
  2. Great is Thy Faithfulness
  3. Rock of Ages
  4. How Great Thou Art
  5. On Jordan’s Stormy Banks
  6. O Love that Will Not Let me Go
  7. Before the Throne of God Above
  8. Fairest Lord Jesus
  9. Christmas Hymns
  10. Lent Hymns

Joy to the World
Away in a Manger
Go Tell It on the Mountain
Silent Night
Little Drummer Boy
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
What Child is This

Jesus Paid It All
Nothing But the Blood
There is a Fountain
Were You There
Christ Arose!
In Christ Alone
How Deep the Father’s Love
The Power of the Cross
I Stand Amazed
Power in the Blood
O How He Loves You and Me
Grace Greater than All Our Sin

Creation Sings
Still My Soul Be Still
My Worth is Not in What I Own
Lift High the Name of Jesus
Compassion Hymn
Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer
Across the Lands
Beneath the Cross
Christ Has Risen
Joy Has Dawned
Resurrection Hymn
Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God
Facing a Task Unfinished
Salvation's Song
The Lord is My Salvation
Living Water
For the Cause
What Grace is Mine

His Eye is on the Sparrow
Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee
For the Beauty of the Earth
This is My Father’s World
Fairest Lord Jesus
Creation Sings the Father’s Song
All Things Bright and Beautiful
How Great Thou Art

2018-2019- Blessed Assurance, What Child is This, Immortal Invisible God Only Wise