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CHARLOTTE MASON

Do Your Kids Know How to Cut Safely with a Knife?

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What attracted me to the Montessori philosophy when we first started homeschooling was its emphasis on teaching toddlers and preschoolers practical life skills. My daughter was using a knife early on (she’s not quite 3 in that post).
I strongly believe that kids should be included in food prep early on. My 11 month old stands at the kitchen counter and watches me prepare dinner. She munches on zucchini, or whatever I am cutting at the time. Soon she’ll be able to help me stir or add things to a mixing bowl. When we lived in Costa Rica and I had a huge kitchen island, I would set up my then 3 month old son on his tummy time pillow so he could watch his sister and I prepare dinner. My oldest was 2 at the time and would tear lettuce for our salad. My kids have always been in the kitchen with me.

 

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CHARLOTTE MASON

Nature Study – Bluebirds

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A year ago, a great flock of a dozen bluebirds flew into our yard for the day, the Sunday just before the cold spell returned. We delighted in their flitting from tree to grass and back to tree, blueness flashing by.

I got out the Handbook of Nature Study and started reading a bit about the bluebirds to the kids. Then I read to them from chapter 5 of The Burgess Bird Book.

The next day, instead of starting with math as we usually do, I had the nature journals ready. After Morning Time, I announced boldly, “I am going to paint a bluebird so I can always remember yesterday.” I plunked myself down at the dining room table where we do school and proceeded to sketch my bluebird. I had taken the color image and the coloring image from this page, and had arranged them to make a single coloring page in a Word document. I used one of the bluebirds from there as my guide.

The kids sat with me and started coloring their coloring pages. The criteria was to color them identically to the model. It was interesting how Bear (7) took this to heart and tried out a bunch of coloring pencils to get the hues to match exactly. I showed her how you can layer colors as you color. She liked that.

Then J-jo (5) declared he was done and I asked him if he wanted to draw and paint a bird in his sketchbook. Of course he did not. So we compromised and he cut out the birds from the coloring page and glued them into the sketchbook. I cringed a bit at wasting a perfectly great page of watercolor paper! (We use these beautiful, sturdy books.) Bear meanwhile did decide to paint a bird and wrote quite a long entry about the bluebird. It helped that she saw me write more than usual.

We started our journals exactly two years ago and they are barely filled. My goal is to make sure we do some sort of keeping in them weekly, even if the weather does not cooperate. I have been inspired by these daily nature study plans and am trying to bring nature inside more often as a compromise. It’s not my ideal, but it is better than not doing nature study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BOOKS

What’s in Our Morning Basket

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Morning Time is a time in which we gather together to focus on Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. We’ve been doing a “together time” since before I even knew it had a name. However, reading Your Morning Basket this year and listening to the Your Morning Basket Podcast has helped me be especially purposeful in what I put in our morning basket.

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Our Morning Basket Contents

We have daily items and weekly items. We often do not get to everything. When I was in teacher college, we learned to always prepare more than was needed and I got into that habit and seem to still do this in home educating. This list is my ideal – the “if-all-goes-perfectly-and-the-baby-sleeps -and-the-others-don’t-argue” list. Before the baby came along ten months ago, it was much easier to get through all the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in this list in one morning, fitting in all the weekly things too. Now, everything gets rearranged and sometimes (many times) we can’t get to it all. It’s okay with me. I basically put a timer for one hour and see how far we get. Next day, after prayer and religion, I will pick up where we left off on the list and cycle through.

  1. Prayer and Bible
  2. Religion Loop: we cycle through these, choosing one each day.
    1. Catechism
    2. Saint story
    3. Life of Our Lord for Children
    4. First Communion by Mother Loyola (she wrote our all-time favorite too) Even if you aren’t preparing for First Communion, I highly recommend First Communion. Every time I read a portion of it to the kids, I am inspired to be a better follower of Christ and to renew my effort in looking toward eternity. Mother Loyola just has a gift for being able to write for children without dumbing anything down, so her writing actually really speaks to adults’ hearts, too.
  3.  Poetry Loop: we read one poem (or one page) per day rotating through the following and strive to memorize the ones from resource #3 and #4.
    1. Ambleside Online Year 3 poems
    2. Ambleside Online Year 1 poems
    3. The Harp and Laurel Wreath
    4. Poetry Memorization from IEW
  4. Habit Training:  Laying Down the Rails
  5. Scripture Memory: psalms from the Prayer resource we use
  6. Hymn and Folk Song: I have kind of dropped hymns (gasp) because the kids get to sing hymns in our church choir. We were using this hymn book in last year’s morning time. And for folk songs, we LOVE the Little House Folk Song book, but this American Song Treasury was our favorite before. We also sometimes dip into From Sea to Shining Sea, but I like the song treasury better.
  7. French and/or Spanish read-aloud– we have a lot of books in these languages but I sometimes also find some at the library. Our favorite French books are the Emilie books. I also use Cherrydale Press French and Spanish books in this slot, but not both on the same day!
  8. Literature – this one is always changing and is usually from the Year 1 or 3 Ambleside Free Read list. However, currently we are reading Canadian Summer. If you haven’t read the three books about the Mitchells, you really should. They are humorous and lovely; my kids love them.
  9. Music Appreciation: now that we’ve done almost all the SQUILT volumes, we are just following the Ambleside Online Composer study once a week.
  10. Picture Study: I print off the Ambleside Online suggestions and laminate them and we narrate one print per week.
  11. Math: I recently added a fun math book to our mornings a couple of times per week to try to spark some more “wonder.” I’ve also added Mathematicians Are People Too.
  12. Geography and Art History – I realize that is a lot of geography titles, but they are all different and we enjoy all of them. It might just take us longer to get through them. The following are on a loop:
    1. Hillyer’s Geography
    2. Charlotte Mason’s Geography
    3. Long’s Geography
    4. Hillyer’s Art History (I have a super old edition that includes Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture).

So there you have it. It seems like a lot, but it is all things we love and look forward to, and we aim for one hour and then move on and if there’s some extra time later in the day, we might continue some more readings, or, more likely, we will just go outside and enjoy being in nature instead.

 

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BOOKS

Adding Diversity to History in Middle School

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My kids are now in Year 8 and 6 with a Kindergarten student joining in occasionally. We also have a 3 year old. We’re in the History Cycle of Ancient Near East (3500BC to 550 BC) and American and British History from 1000-1680AD. Since we’re starting from the very beginning, I especially wanted to add diversity to history this time around.

We discovered Charlotte Mason and jumped into Ambleside Online six years ago when my oldest was in Year 2. Year 2 is the same time period as we are doing now. However, back in Year 2, I wasn’t trying to add diversity to history. I was just sticking to the book list. I also didn’t have a very clear understanding of what the Charlotte Mason principles even were! It’s been such a wonderful journey delving deeper in my understanding of her philosophy of education. We no longer use Ambleside Online because we like the whole family to be on the same history cycle, but I still visit it often to help me choose books!

These are all linked to Amazon for your convenience. Nurturing Learning participates in the Amazon Affiliate program and receives a commission at no extra cost to you if you complete a purchase through our Amazon links within 24 hours of placing an item in your cart.

Ancient Near East

I purchased Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors and The Book of the Ancient World to use as spines. What I like about Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors is that I can use the corresponding narration cards from Simply Charlotte Mason.

Amber of Heritage Mom mentioned some great resources for studying the great nations of Western Africa: Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. We will add all of those books in as well. Some of those we are reading and narrating during our summer break, as they were available at the library.

American History

As I looked at American History for the 1000-1680 time period, and considered what narrative I wanted to teach my children, I realized that we have never actually studied the indigenous peoples who were here before the Europeans. Searching on the Living Books for All People Facebook Group, I decided on several books to round out both our Ancient and American History streams to include indigenous people of North America and South America.

We will read through the chapters (relevant to our time period) of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People and A Young People’s History of the United States. We will also read all of Turtle Island and Before Columbus.

World History

Ideally we would have read Our Island Story in this time slot, but we have already read this book. Leah Boden of A Modern Miss Mason recommends The Story of Britain. (We’ve actually used this book for Modern Times and it is one of my son’s favorite history books.) The Winston Churchill history books were another possibility. However, ultimately, I decided on the Genevieve Foster books (The World of Columbus and Sons & The World Of Captain John Smith) because I like how these books present a wider picture of people and events around the world for a time period. There are issues – I especially do not like the sections between page 29 and 41 in the Columbus and Sons book. I have not read the whole book yet, but have several weeks to do so before school starts. I will be assigning specific non-problematic sections for the kids to read.

How to fit it all in

This is how I am scheduling the books:

Monday – Ancient History of the Near East
Tuesday – Africa (see Heritage Mom for details)
Wednesday – (Term 1) History of Indigenous People in the Americas (Turtle Island and Before Columbus) (Term 2 and 3) America History (An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People and A Young People’s History of the United States)
Thursday – World History
Friday – Geography

Any other recommendations for adding diversity to history? Drop me a comment. What biographies and historical fiction do you love for this time period?

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