Friday, August 15, 2008

Charlotte Mason Back to School Planning Bash

I've been planning to participate in the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival for some time but it continued to be put "on the back burner". When I saw this week's topic on Barb's page about back to school planning ~ I knew I had to participate! :)

I've been "planning" for weeks now but I seem to be accumulating more books and downloads and notebooking pages than I'm putting to use. Do you ever do this? I become so excited and filled with ideas of wonderful things I want to do with my children that I spend all of my time gathering and not as much planning and USING! So - now that I have FOUR different notebooking sets for birds - which we're not even returning to until spring (other than a 15 minute weekly bird feeder count) - it's time for me to stop printing and purchasing and start planning and implementing! The goal now is to really decide what I'm going to use when and how. :)

It's hard to be a "bookaholic" lol - I LOVE BOOKS! I can't have enough or even check out enough from the library. The goal was to really buckle down and decide which books we're using for certain and which are on the extra or free reading list.

My first step was to read some Charlotte Mason material for myself. It's impossible to implement a Charlotte Mason education in my home if I don't FULLY understand the principles. I've been reading online and researching since last school year but I wanted to sit down and cuddle up with a real BOOK - this is how I learn best. I have enjoyed these Charlotte Mason books:

I then took some time to look through online Charlotte Mason style curriculums - there are so many WONDERFUL programs out there at no charge! I was amazed at the love and work that went into these programs for free - simply to help other homeschooling families! The three that really stood out to me were:

Ambleside Online
Simply Charlotte Mason
Tanglewood Education I gleaned a bit from each of them. I also looked at book lists for children that are the same age as mine. I browsed booklists from :

sonlight curriculum
Living Books Curriculum

I decided to glean information from each of them and use a more eclectic approach but with the Charlotte Mason style principles. I found pro's and con's to each as far as MY family went and felt that there weren't any set curriculums that would perfectly fit US. I took the pros and helpful information that we could use from each and then took on the daunting task of trying to "string it all together".

I'm still working diligently at organizing and pulling it all together but I wanted to share where we were so far! Considering I'm hoping to start school on Monday ---- I have a busy weekend!!

My children are 6 yo (approx. 2nd grade) and two 5 year old twins (approx Kindergarten level).

So here goes:
First and foremost-- I purchased the Core Book from Tanglewood Education. I LOVE this planner. It's incredibly convenient because you can now purchase and immediately download a pdf version of the planner and it really does help with planning a Charlotte Mason style education. I love the extra pages that walk one through Narration, copywork, and geography excercises. Those alone are worth the $5.25 cost. I've paid more than that for blank "teacher planners" at our local education stores. I truly enjoy these pages. And I can print out only the pages I need and the number of those pages - customize it for our use which is a HUGE PLUS for me!

With this planner - I went through and chose an order for Habits for each child and wrote them into the planner - this planner has great ideas for young children's habits to work on.

Bible Study - for Bible Study we are using a mix of Bible stories, missionary stories, scripture, the Bible (of course), and devotionals. Here are my key components:

The Bible - the only sure book of Truth and the Lord's important words and wisdom!

Missionary Stories with the Millers (Miller Family Series)'>Missionary Stories with the Millers one chapter/story per week

href="">Gotta Have God 2 - for my son - every morning- 1 on 1

God & Me Devotional series- for my daughters - every morning -1 on 1

Bible Stories - 4 mornings/ week (alternate 5th day with Missionary Stories) There are a ton of great Bible stories out there for children. We use "101 Favorite Stories from the Bible" and really enjoy it.

Math- I was tempted to try a different math program this year - I've heard great things about Saxon and Math U See , however, math is my son's strong point so it is not much of an issue for him and we used A Beka Arithmetic 1 last year with great success so I decided (especially since reading and literature were more important to me at this point in his education) not to switch. He likes the bright colors, I like the review and he scored all 8s and 9s in math on the 1st grade CAT this past year. Why not use what works? :) So we will use:

A Beka Arithmetic 2 - for my son

A Beka Arithmetic K 5- for my daughters - they actually completed 1/2 of this last year in "pre -k" so they will begin Arithmetic 1 about mid way through this school year.

Language Arts - After scouring different language arts/ grammar programs I finally made decisions. I think this was the toughest decision for me because it is SO important for the education I want them to have.

Primary Language Lessons - for my son - I love this book! I couldn't wait to see it and when it arrived I was NOT dissappointed. I was back and forth between this and the Queen Homeschool Language Lessons for the Very Young Volume 2.

The 3 R's by Ruth Beechick - for my daughters. I just adore Ruth Beechick and her language books are great. These 3 books (all in one in this version) are everything I feel you need to teach your little one to read. I like that it's inexpensive, its designed by a Christian, and its all there in these tiny books. I have the seperate volumes so I'll be using A Strong Start in Language and A Home Start in Reading. I'm not using her arithmetic book so I can't comment on that one. I've not used it.
Also for follow up and reinforcement of reading lessons for my daughters -

FREE reading program at Tanglewood Education - Really Reading


Explode the Code Series - only 2 pages / day

I like this series - its very inexpensive - not too much worksheets (at the level of 2 pages a day for MY children) and my kids seem to think the black and white drawings are funny. It's great phonics reinforcement.

Writing Copywork, copywork, copywork!

For all 3 of my children - we will be taking copywork passages from poetry, scripture, and the literature we are reading. I did purchase Happy Scribe copywork for the kids but I'm not sure if that was a NECESSARY investment or one of my purchases because I was excited. When I sat down to actually plan the days out - I found this wasn't a necessity. I'm sure my children will enjoy them - I chose a package with 4 sets of animal copywork from Curr Click . It will work well when we are studying mammals and birds again but if you are on a budget - you can get more enriched, free copywork from your children's books.

I did purchase a copywork book also from Queen Homeschool. Copywork for Little Boys - obviously for my son. I do not regret this purchase. The quality of her copywork is worth the cost and convenience of having rich literature copywork already planned for me. I plan to continue with this (rather than the Happy scribe) with the Copywork for Animal Lovers and Pleasant Verses for Copywork.

My personal recommendation would be to go with the Queen copywork.

I did also purchase Writing Strands 1 & Writing Strands 2. They are nice little books with good ideas, however, I felt as if the 1st volume was filled with ideas I was already using with my kids. If you are interactive and conversational with your children - I wouldn't spend on the 1st volume. I have not yet looked over the 2nd volume as we are going to start with copywork and narration.

I DO recomend Ruth Beechick's Language & Thinking for Young Children for pre K children and some K age children. My kids really enjoyed these excercises and I loved having the poetry and Language activities in one handy book.


A program that I am going to try this year is Progeny Press.

So far, we are going to try these literature guides for the following books:

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain

The Drinking Gourd

Frog & Toad Together - this book is at the Independent Reader level for my son but I am going to have him read it with his sisters and I. Have him read and then narrate together as a family.

Ox- Cart Man - for my daughters

There are many other great titles from Progeny Press, however, since we are going to be using them for the first time, we are starting with these to see how they go. As with any curriculum or guide- I am not using ALL of the ideas or information in these guides. I am selecting those ideas and comprehension questions that I believe FIT our principles and family. I love that they have great ideas for incorporating scripture into the children's literature. This was the main reason I purchased them. I have a dear friend who used them last year and enjoyed them but she also used what SHE needed and let the rest go. Do not feel as if you have to do EVERY idea or number in any guide. If you focus on checking off items rather than just focusing on what works for YOUR kids - you will miss out on the best part of it - bonding and enjoying your children. Just as the guides call for writing to answer questions on comprehension and scripture references, my children and I will use these to foster conversation and ideas about the story we are reading - I will not require them to write this information out but use it to spark ideas and help me with prodding them along.

Veritas Press Guide - The Boxcar Children Comprehension Guide- same information above about PP applies here.

Some of the rest of our literature list for the year is as follows:

The Littles

The Velveteen Rabbit

Mr. Popper's Penguins

The Cricket in Times Square

The Red & Blue Fair Book


Misty of Chincoteague

Dr. Doolittle

A Little Princess - my daughters

Little Lord Fauntleroy - my son

Follow My Leader

The Big Wave

These may change and WILL be added to as we go - this is a basic list to get us started. Often it is added to based on the children's interest. Other literature I have purchased assuming we will use it this year is as follows:

Homer Price

The Railway Children

The Family Under the Bridge

Swiss Family Robinson

Mountain Born

The Mouse & The Motorcycle


Stuart Little

The Secret Garden


The Wind in the Willows

Lassie & Lassie Come Home

Alice in Wonderland

Peter Pan

Living books for Social Studies & Science

and so many more.... did I mention I LOVE books? I hope that by having these extras and allowing the children to move forward based on their own enjoyments of GOOD literature that I will instill that LOVE in them!

My son will be working on independent readers as well. I plan on having him read a chapter or short story to himself while I help his sisters with their reading lesson and then cuddling up with him to have him re-read it to me and then narrate and discuss it together. SOME of his independent readers are as follows:

Owl at Home

Frog & Toad series - any Arnold Lobel books

Little Bear

Dr. Seuss books - quite a few of these are too easy for him but I've found that allowing him to read easier books to himself while listening to the more difficult chapter books as a family works wonders for his confidence. I know that he is expanding his vocabulary and understanding with the chapter books I'm reading to them yet he is building confidence in his skills and ENJOYING his reading by allowing him to choose from independent readers of different levels.

Reading Literature: The Primer

Poetry- 1 daily - For those that are being memorized -study and practice gently until memorized

Favorite Poems of Childhood

Others based on studies- we LOVE Christina Rossetti

Other poets to study this year-








Anthology - Favorite Poems Old & New

Spelling - 4 days per week with test on 5th day

Natural Speller - for my son

None for my daughters

Geography -

We will be using maps and timelines for each of our stories from literature, science, and history to map out all of the events and tales. I'm also using geography ideas from the Tanglewood Core Book I wrote about earlier in this post.

Living Geography Books:


Tree in the Trail

Minn of the Mississippi

All Holling C. Holling books

World History

The Story of the World Volume 1

The Story of the World Volume 1 Activity Book -As with the literature guides - I pick and choose which activities we will do and add/take away as I see fit.

Supplemental books as recommended in SOTW activity book and others as I see fit throughout our study.

Nature Study/ Science - Our science consists OF nature study. At this age - I find that my children ABSORB amazing amounts of information as taught in a natural learning environment. As we studied garden flowers - they were with me as I planted our gardens and my son helped my husband build flower beds. Now when we go to the nursery for new flowers or plants - even my 5 year old will say, "Look mom, creeping jenny!" Their abilities never cease to amaze me and what better way to share God's creation than spending time with the children out of doors incorporating gentle lessons as we go.

Spinebook for Nature Study - The Handbook of Nature Study

Basic schedule (can easily be changed based on thier interests and discoveries - this is just my guide - NOT set in stone)

Nature Walks- at least 2x / week

On 1 day minimum - focus on 1 group of living things

Use HNS before going out for my own reference to share information with the kids

All 3 children will keep thier own nature notebook (MOST IMPORTANT for our NS)

Supplemental Books for Nature Study

Field Guides for topic of study

North American Wildlife

The Usborne First Book of Nature


The Butterfly Book

The Family Butterfly Book


All the Birds of North America

Birds, Nests, & Eggs - LOVE this book - I was SO incredibly pleased with this little book when it arrived!

Living Science Literature - includes

The Burgess Bird Book

Jack's Insects

The Adventures of Bobby Raccoon

Red Knot: A shorebird's incredible journey

Burgess Animal Book

Pagoo - Holling C. Holling

(at a minimum - more to be added)

Art/Art Study -1 Artist per term

Term 1 - Renoir

Dover Publications - Renoir Stickers

Dover Publications - Color your Own Renoir

Print out Renoir paintings from internet - post for children to look at and review

Other Artists for this year (not in order yet)


General Art Study

Discovering Great Artists -_ LOVE LOVE this book - the children create their own art based on the style of the artist we are studying!

Come Look with Me... Art Series- these are wonderful, gentle picture studies with language ideas.

Various biographies from the library on the current term artist.

Music Study -Listen to CD's of the composer of the term. Gently discuss music with children and remind them of the name of the composer.

Stories of Great Composers - at Living Books Curriculum

Some questions to ask:

What does this music remind you of?

Do you enjoy it? What do you enjoy/not enjoy about it?

What type of instruments do you hear?

Term 1 - DeBussey

Term 2 - Mendelsson

Others not decided yet

Foreign Language - Spanish - Vocabulary words - mostly for this year-

La Clase Divertida curriculum

This is a BASIC (VERY BASIC) sampling of our plans for this year - as I said, I have TONs of work to do this weekend! :) I will add links and lists to this blog as I work through our schedules and book lists - I hope this has helped some and you enjoy in some of the books we are going to enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are well prepared for the year. Thanks for sharing. :)

The McCanns said...

WOW! I had to bookmark your page. I sense your wisdom in your choices and I also appreciate that you included options you didn't choose as well as those you did. Thanks for posting links too. I will be referencing your page as I plan my year.

Kris! said...

Ha, ha, ha, I can COMPLETELY relate to what you are saying!!! That's why I am making a resource list for each subject of what I WILL use from the many books, games, and other activities I have gathered. And I WILL put them together in one place so I remember to use them, LOL!

Thanks so much,

Cari said...

Wow! I can't wait to check out some of the resources you have listed! Thanks for posting this!

Jimmie said...

Wow! Talk about detailed! So many great books!!! :-) Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

You've got quite a plan!
I think posting it really helps, you can refer to it later.
We enjoyed the Holling C. Holling books the past few years too!