Of course, as a new school year approached I had all these grand ideas of what our school days were going to look like. Don’t we all? The problem was, I was envisioning of what it should end up looking like, not our beginning footsteps in that direction.
For my younger students, (who may or may not be categorized into proper academic grades such as pre-K and K), my biggest goal was daily read alouds from non-twaddle books, plenty of outdoor exercise where they could get the best nature study amongst the ants, birds, and occasional milkweed bug, and of course, habit training. All of these I took from Charlotte Mason’s first book Home Education. I wish I could claim myself an expert on Miss Mason’s Methods, but I am only learning. So let me share with you some of the curriculum I chose to do with them and what I actually did. You can see my video I made about a year ago showing what I was planning on doing and that is linked here.
I did end up finding a copy of Before Five in a Row by Jane Lambert second hand and purchased it. It is said to be literature based and a great resource for those that enjoy Charlotte Mason. However, I very quickly learned that you read a book five days in a row. Each day you read it and complete a task. It is based on what children do in every day life, however, Goodnight Moon or Yellow Ball is not something I wanted to read more than once, let alone five days in a row. Even the books we enjoyed, I wanted my kids to keep on enjoying them! We did not get past the first 2 weeks.
I shared using Confession of a Homeschooler’s free character training resource. Love this! I cannot say enough good things about this. I can see how it may be a little more advance for youngers if you do the Q&A as it is written. However, I used it more as a discussion rather than a right or wrong answer and generally speaking, children are more smart than we give them credit for. I love this resource so much. It is definitely one that I should have been more diligent and consistent with (maybe I should have done diligent as our first character training, rather than obedience), but regardless there was nothing that I disliked about it. I will be continuing to use this resource in our homeschool. I am probably going to replace our Leading Little Ones To God devotional with this instead. We did read aloud and finish Wisdom and the Millers. I LOVE that book. Talk about a living book for moral habits! If you want a inspirational read, with Christian values, and gentle teachings, then I could not suggest a better book. I did mention that I was planning on figuring out how to use Ruth Beechick’s Genesis in our homeschool year, but alas, it was one of those things that just did not happen. And I’m ok with that. I think it might have been too much this year. By the way, Ms. Beechick references Ms. Mason in several of her writings. Just throwing that out there.
Nature Study! We did end up going through book one of the Christian Liberty Press Nature Readers (best price for a complete set is from Christian Book Distributors). However, I will say that I found Ambleside Online’s recommendation of The Burgess Bird Book for Children to be a wonderful engaging story. And ultimately, we set aside the nature readers and found ourselves at home in the Old Orchard. I had also found a $2 copy of Birds of North America book at our local library and any time we would come across a new bird mentioned, we would look it up. (I personally did not find the copy we had but Amazon has many suggestions of a similar title to be found here).
Have you all seen the newest trend in tea? Forget throwing it overboard, homes all over the world are creating a special time, poetry tea time, started by Julie Bogart from Bravewriter. This only a recent addition to our homeschool and the youngers ones are loving it! I shared at the beginning of the year some of the poetry books I would be using in our daily reads (such as: Paul Revere’s Ride, Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses, our most used poetry books First Poems of Childhood, illustrated by Tasha Tudor, and while we did do a few from A Child’s Treasury of Seaside Verse (and it’s companion books), I found that the children preferred some of the other poetry books best. I myself always found the illustrations of Child’s Treasure of” poetry books to be most beautiful. ) So, tea time was added a bit later in our school year but everyone looks forward to Poetry Tea Time Tuesday with art and fun poems, and not to mention TEA!
I showed a stack of books that I wanted to read to my children. I did read a good majority of them. WE also ended up really loving our local library and I even did my whole Library Project where we began to go through the whole children’s section. I have to admit, I did end up stopping. There was a point where we really did not have any favorites almost 2 weeks in a row and it was just getting frustrating having stories that had no substance to them. BUT, the goal of doing more read alouds with my children was successful, in MY book, and I am so thrilled by that. Probably, one of the biggest questions I am asked is how I know about so many books? I have my mother to thank for that. My childhood home was always filled with bookcases of books for us to read. I do not have nearly the amount I grew up with, and I do have a lot. I won’t even be able to share all the books we have read. Some are classics that have graced the home of many of us. But here were just a small portion of the read alouds we did. By being consistent with our reading, I was able to help the children learn to sit still for longer periods of time, engage in some discussions, point out certain words that would be easy on the eyes for beginner readers, and most of all– spark their imagination for play time. Their is NOTHING so precious to me as reading a book and seeing the children act out the characters of that book in their own play time. I have had Julius Caesar, Nate the Great, a minuteman, scouts of the civil war, farmers, Indians, oh my the list would go on forever. Great literature can help with vocabulary, respecting of other persons, and so much more. But I’ll quit drabbling on and on, here are just a few of the books we read and enjoyed, and read again. I have done my best to choose living books.
The Ox-cart Man: Great introduction to the seasons and cycle of life. Caldecott Winner
Blueberries for Sal– Newberry Honor book, a delightful tale of young sal and her mother and baby bear and his mother. Beautiful story of being aware of surroundings and just whimsical.
One Morning in Main– I cannot think of a more delightful tale than watching daily happenings through the life of another girl named Sal. Clam digging, lost teeth, mud, ice cream, a wonderful childhood within the pages of this delightful story. A childhood favorite and it continues on to spark love for another generation.
Make Way for Ducklings– told through the eyes of the Mallard duck family, these ducks will brave traffic and Boston in order to raise their family up in the quiet safety of the Boston Public Garden. Delightful read for young and old alike.
James Herriot’s Treasury for Children, if you only can afford one book this year for your children, let it be this one. Herriot is a veterinary that recounts his experiences in such a beautiful storybook fashion. Talk about a living book! Herriot is one of our favorites and is timeless. The illustrations are true works of art and the retelling of past experiences will capture your child’s imagination and they may want a cat named Moses after that.
Of course their are MANY more books we went through. I just wanted to share some highlights. I also want to share a couple books I added to our school year that we absolutely fell in love with. I went searching for some books that I could use for picture study in a living education kind of way. I didn’t want art to be a subject but intertwined into our lives. I came across James Mayhew’s book, Katie and the Impressionist. We LOVE this book! We also ended up with Katie in Scotland and the story behind the Loch Ness Monster. I also purchased 3 other books: The Magical Garden of CLaude Monet by Anholt Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs by Blaisdel, and Renoir and the Boy with the Long Hair by Wendy Wax. Katie was by far our favorite. As a matter of fact, we have SEVERAL James Mayhew books that we absolute adore. His illustrations are gorgeous and he loves to put a subtle form of education in his books, whether it is music or picture.
There were a few other books I purchased that I wish I would have checked out at the library first, but this one I am very glad to have purchased and we have enjoyed reading it again and again.
Small Wonders: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects
I don’t know what else I can add to this. The beauty of homeschool is the one-room teaching atmosphere. The youngers hear what you are instructing the olders in. The olders listened to my reading of Paddle to the Sea and the geography within that. The youngers have picked up on addition facts and history timelines. Children are always learning. They are learning from experience; they are learning from instruction; they are learning from observing and most of all, they are learning by example. These educational years are more for giving tools to them to help build their character, their person. These are just a few tools that I had in my bag for our educational year.