Charlotte Mason Book Study 2013-2014


The garden at Ash Lawn, home of James Monroe in Virginia, June 2013

We will be meeting on Thursday, August the 1st, 7:00-9:30 Springdale.  We will be reading and discussing …

CM’s Volume I:

“Home Education”

Introduction, Forward & Prefaces

Part I: I-VII (pp. 1-41)

Part II: I-V (pp. 42-62, red books)

The last four years we have happily traversed through CM’s six-volume series, and it has been a life-changing journey for many of us.  We are excited to begin once again, and we invite you to join us in this “life-giving” way of education!  For the specific location, please post a comment at the bottom. We look forward to seeing you soon.

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.”

John Ruskin

For the Children’s Sake & Beyond,

Cindy & Ali


Christmas Chapters from Well Loved Books

It was time to begin reading Five Little Peppers and How They Grew to my first grader. But, it’s almost Christmas….so, yesterday, instead of starting at the beginning of Five Little Peppers, I started reading the chapters on Christmas to my six year old. She didn’t get the character development that she would have received from the first chapters, but she had to stretch her imagination to make some pretty big assumptions about the characters. She enjoyed the story, laughed at Phronsie’s antics, and even copied them at bed time, by kissing her stocking goodnight! That got me to thinking….what other well loved books have Christmas chapters? We would never be able to tackle entire tomes by Christmas, but we could definitely read the yuletide chapters! Little Women immediately came to mind, with Beth receiving the piano. Little House in the Big Woods with Laura and Charlotte, her rag doll…The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with the end of the long winter and the return of Father Christmas…James Herriot’s Treasury for Children has “The Christmas Day Kitten”. Now I’m stumped. Your turn! What are some wonderful, too good to be missed, chapters of books that bring on the holiday joy?

Excellent Charlotte Mason Resources!

Hi ladies, we had a wonderful time meeting Thursday night and missed those of you who couldn’t come! We covered a lot of resources during a little share time and I am including links and info for all the great resources below. It was a very informative and grace giving time! Hope to see you all in January! Alison

All kinds of copywork, notebooking, narration templates…awesome!
Outline maps
Composer biographies and music
Simply CM’s bookfinder
The Art Location (Fayetteville), an incredible art studio that has homeschool classes and teach a different artist each week, plus Christmas break camps:

Simply CM Your Business Math Series: Supplemental living math from a business standpoint, 3rd grade and up
Veritas press timeline cards
Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use: A simple, quick daily phonics routine 1st grade and up
The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady: Great nature study example
America’s Other Audubon: More great nature studies
Jack’s Insects: Book that CM used for nature study

Stack the Countries (geography)
Stack the States
Splash Math (math by grade level, according to national standards…good fun test prep)
Audiobooks free(librivox audiobooks, free, through an app)
iBird South (birdwatching app)

Settlers of Catan:

Ourselves: 2012-2013 Reading Schedule

Hi Ladies,

On Thursday, October 4th, we plan to begin reading Volume 4.  If you apply CM’s “short lessons” idea, five short pages/day would complete the readings in a mere ten days!   Each month we will be reading about 47 pages.  Happy Reading!

“Ourselves: Improving Character and Conscience” 
(Volume 4) 
by Charlotte Mason


Contents of Book I:
Introduction: Chps. I-III
(pp. 1-10)
Part I:  The House of Body
Chps. I-V
(pp. 11-32)
Part II:  The House of Mind
Chps. I-II
(pp. 33-44)


PART II:  The House of Mind
(pp. 45-80)
Part III:  The House of Hearts
Lords of the Heart:  I. Love
Chps. I-III
(pp. 81-94)


PART III:  The House of Heart
Lords of the Heart:  I. Love
Chps. IV-XI
Lords of the Heart:  II. Justice
Chp. XII


PART III:  The House of Heart
Lords of the Heart:  II. Justice
(pp. 140-186)


PART III:  The House of Heart
Lords of the Heart:  II. Justice
Chps. XIX-XX
(pp. 187-203)
PART IV:  Vocation
(pp. 204-210)
(pp. 1-4)
PART I:  Conscience
Section I.  Conscience in the House of Body
Chps. I-III
(pp. 5-20)


BOOK II:  Self-Direction
PART I:  Conscience
Section I:  Conscience in the House of Body
(pp. 21-55)
Section II:  Conscience in the House of Mind
Chps. IX-X
(pp. 56-67)


Book II:  Self-Direction
PART I:  Conscience
Section I: Conscience in the House of Body
Chps. XI-XVI
(pp. 68-108)
Section III: The Function of Conscience
chp. XVII
(pp. 109-114)


BOOK II: Self-Direction
PART I:  Conscience
Section III:  The Function of Conscience
(pp. 115-125)
PART II:  The Will
Chps. I-VIII
(pp. 126-159)


BOOK II:  Self-Direction
PART II:  The Will
Chps. IX-XI
(pp. 160-173)
PART III:  The Soul
Chps. I-VII
(pp. 174-202)

(pp. 205-238)  (May be utilized with each chapter if deemed helpful.)

Visual Media: Yes, Yes, But is it Living?

By Alison Hendricks

My children are addicts.

All right, so they’re not really addicts, but they certainly act like addicts where television and video are concerned. I constantly feel like the bad guy because evidently they are too young to have developed the self-control necessary for turning the TV off. Maybe some habit formation is in order! However, I often wonder if I am not responsible for their behavior because I so severely limit their screen time…sort of a forbidden fruit effect. At our home, movie night comes on Friday night and they are allowed to watch a bit of television with their dad on the weekends, an hour or two total for the week.
According to
*two-thirds of infants and toddlers watch a screen an average of 2 hours a day
*kids under age 6 watch an average of about 2 hours of screen media a day, primarily TV and videos or DVDs
*kids and teens 8 to 18 years spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of schoolwork) and playing video games

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under 2 years old not watch any TV and that those older than 2 watch no more than 1 to 2 hours a day of quality programming.
The first 2 years of life are considered a critical time for brain development. TV and other electronic media can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which encourages learning and healthy physical and social development.
As kids get older, too much screen time can interfere with activities such as being physically active, reading, doing homework, playing with friends, and spending time with family.

While these are valid reasons for limiting screen time, my children’s physical and social health are not the real reasons why we limit the boob tube. Their spiritual and intellectual health are, in my thinking, the more important developmental aspects and are worthy of protection. There is so little of value in the way of children’s programming and movies, yet there is so much in this genre! How do we wade through it all and find truly living media?

Obviously Charlotte Mason couldn’t have said much on the subject of children’s television, but she had plenty to say about literature.

The subject of ‘Children’s Literature’ has been well threshed out, and only one thing remains to be said,––children have no natural appetite for twaddle, and a special literature for children is probably far less necessary than the book sellers would have us suppose. Out of any list of ‘the hundred best books,’ I believe that seventy-five would be well within the range of children of eight or nine. They would delight in Rasselas, Eöthen would fascinate them as much as Robinson Crusoe, the Faëry Queen, with its allegory and knightly adventures and sense of free moving in woodland scenery, would exactly fall in with their humour. What they want is to be brought into touch with living thought of the best, and their intellectual life feeds upon it with little meddling on our part. Book III, School Education, pg. 122.

So, here is a thought…what if we approached television with the same attitude? What if we examined what our children watch with the thought in mind that twaddle television just might be junk food for the brain? Sure it’s fun and they like it because it doesn’t require much of them, but even the stuff that is labelled “children’s educational television” is probably dumbed down and unnecessary. If we approached our TV with this attitude, our remote control would rarely pause on Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network or Disney Channel. Instead, we might set our DVR for programs on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS, Food Network or the Documentary Channel (not the kid versions of these same channels!). My kids have no idea what other kids mean when they talk about Kick Buttowski, but they go out in the woods pretending to be Bear Grylls (Man Vs. Wild). ABC’s Wipeout is a no-go with me, but Chasing Mummies with Dr. Zahi Hawass is full of current events that relate to ancient history…fascinating! Alton Brown, of Good Eats fame, is a household name, but my young daughter thinks that girl with the two personalities is named “Hantana” and she doesn’t even know the theme song. This is not a bad thing and I can feel better about shows that equip my children with actual skills or at the least the desire to gain those great life skills.

Now, on to movies…

As l have tried to think of what movies I would consider “living”, I realized that nearly all the films I would place in this category are movies made from quality literature. Unfortunately, the movie is almost never as good as the book and I would be hard pressed to think of a movie that was better than it’s book. So, the guideline that we usually keep in our home is that you should read the book before you see the movie. Even after reading the book, however, parents should preview most movies before showing them to very young children. A battle scene in a book looks very different in a six year old’s imagination than what has come from the imagination of an adult director and is forced upon the child by way of a screen.

Again, let us deal with movies made from books in a particularly Mason way. Essentially, a book is just too long to be played out to it’s entirety on a screen, which is why so much of what we love ends up on the cutting room floor. We walk out of a theatre saying, “Oh, they didn’t show this character. The movie completely missed that part,” and we are usually disappointed. Instead, let us look at movies as what they are: a narration. An incomplete, summarized retelling of a great book: a narration is what we have seen played out before us. Let us teach our children to approach the movie in this way and prepare them to watch for what the director left out in the screen play. Just as children in a PUS school were allowed to listen to a narration and fill in the missing pieces, we can do the same with a movie. Even better if there have been two movies made of the same book, for it shows that the second film maker was not satisfied with the first film maker’s narration. A useful activity could involve making your own film before seeing the Hollywood version and comparing the two as a family.

One final note, there are two wonderful websites that are most helpful in movie and television selection. The first is which is run by Focus on the Family and gives reviews from a decidedly Christian standpoint. The second is which is a non-profit national organization run by parents and other individuals. Both sites expose the good and the bad elements of movies and TV programs. Both are very specific about issues with language, violence, drugs, alcohol, and sex. Common Sense Media also gives information regarding consumerism and role models. Other pluses for Common Sense: parents and children can write reviews and I like the way they give age appropriateness.

I have been challenged during the writing of this blog series to make use of the mixed blessing of technology in our home classroom. This appears to be a battle, but I am hopeful that we can lay a feast for our children and watch them grow into fully educated adults. Remember when Charlotte said, “the mathematician who knows little of the history of his own country or that of any other, is sparsely educated at the best.” Vol. 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education, pg.232? I would contend that the same holds true for any subject. To rephrase dear Charlotte, I say, “Technology is a necessary part of every man’s education; it must be taught by those who know, but shouldn’t engross the time and attention of the scholar in such a way as to shut out any of the other essential subjects to which he has a natural right.”

Living Technology: The i’s Have It!

By Alison Hendricks

At the risk of sounding like a Mac advertisement: I am of the opinion that the Apple corporation is at the forefront of user-friendly technology. We have several Apple products and have been very pleased with their quality, logic and simplicity. Charlotte believed in exposing children to quality music, art and literature, and I am sure that she would have felt the same about technology. Therefore, most of this article will deal with the usage of Apple products. That said, many other brands of smartphones are catching up to the iPhone and a lot of the apps that are mentioned here are available for those phones. I would like to note that I am not an Apple snob nor am I suggesting that anyone throw out perfectly good equipment simply to buy Apple products, but technology becomes obsolete rapidly, and at some point upgrading becomes necessary. It might be worth waiting and saving a little longer to purchase quality equipment.

When adding technology and media to your curriculum, you could have an extra subject just for that purpose. For older children, that might be a necessity in order to have enough deliberate time to meet all your objectives. For my family, which consists of younger students, it is simply easier to integrate technology into our existing subjects. The following is a list, by subject, of how we have incorporated it so far, as well as how I would like to stretch our usage.

Bible– It is a little taxing to think of an ancient book being in sync with modern technology, but there are a few things that make navigating the Scriptures convenient. There are Bible apps, many available for free, and the one we use has a huge list of different translations. Since I memorized in New King James, our Bible study is NIV and our pastor uses ESV, it is no small task to get the wording right for memorization! On my iPhone, I can switch to NKJV and type in a few words of a verse and find it in NIV for my children to memorize. Plus, I always have my Bible with me!

History– Obviously the Internet, on whatever device you prefer, is a boon for finding out time periods and quick tidbits even though it can be unreliable resource for meaty, living history. One thing the kids really enjoy is narrating on our Voice Memos app. It’s basically a voice recorder, but I can email the narration from the app or download it into iTunes to save as an audio record. We don’t only use this for history, but for many other subjects, as well.

Math– There are a variety of math apps that quiz basic facts. While we don’t use these on a regular basis, they are nice for sitting in waiting rooms or at restaurants.

Spanish– Thank you iTunes! We are doing Spanish as much like Ms. Mason as we can, and iTunes is a definite helper. It is an easy thing to find Spanish folk songs, download them and play them on our various devices. We have an iHome (not an Apple product) which is basically a clock docking station with a set of speakers. We keep it in the kitchen and play it while I fix dinner. By the way, Jose-Luis Orozco’s folk songs are wonderful! Our other trick is an app called iLanguage. You type in a word, phrase or sentence and get an instant and accurate translation. I mostly use this during my planning time to find our six-words-a-day. One thing I would like to do, but haven’t, is put an Mp3 baby mobile in the baby’s crib so that he will have early exposure to Spanish and classical music.

Literature– Mac’s preloaded video software, iMovie, would be a great way to do some dramatic narration. Download video clips from your digital camera and then it is as easy as dragging and dropping to make a fairly professional looking video that can be burned to a DVD or uploaded to the internet. Map websites are another great way to get some geography in with those literature lessons. This is a feature I plan on making more use of in the future.

In response to the last article on book media, Elaine Mulkey commented, “I thought I would mention a favorite resource our family uses to read books in case others are not familiar with it.You can sign up for daily installments of a lot of great books at DailyLit is free and most installments are very short.  I like the service because it reminds me that it is time to read to the children and it is also handy to have the books available during situations where we find ourselves unexpectedly waiting.The installment is delivered to your email address every day at the time your specify.  There are many other ways to customize the installment such as weekdays only, etc.  If you read an installment and the children begin begging for more, you can immediately request the next installment.  Often we will read several installments in one sitting.  A few years ago, my husband and I decided that we wanted to read a piece of classic literature that neither of us had read before, so we signed up for the same book and received the same installment each day.  It was a nice way to read a book together.”

Phonics– Using your smartphone as a recording device is an easy way to get in some reading practice. Today I used that ever-handy voice memo app for one son to record himself reading aloud while I helped his brother with spelling, then later, I listened to his reading when I could devote more attention.

Recitation– We, again, use the voice memo app to practice our recitations. I can record myself reading the poem, parable or hymn and then send a child to a quiet corner to practice. There are also quite a few poetry apps available. POETRY app from The Poetry Foundation, for instance, has poems arranged by topic or mood, and they can be shared from the app. There are also hymn lyric apps, but they appear to be mostly Mormon hymns.

Handicrafts– I know this is a pretty obvious one, but I think keyboarding and other computer skills fall into this category.

Art– This may not be what Charlotte had in mind, because I remember reading that each child had their own small copies of artwork to study, but printer ink is pricey, and the copies are often second rate. I can usually find whatever artwork I need in the public domain and copy it into a file on my Mac. Then we use our photo software to make it as big on the screen as we can get it and study it this way. I feel it is akin to seeing a painting on a wall and the quality is so much better than a print out! It is also an easy thing to make a slideshow or screen saver of the work or add the art to our photo books to enjoy as the kids grow up.

Music– iTunes has transformed the way we buy and listen to music. Wouldn’t Charlotte be amazed how simple it is to listen to the work of the masters? With YouTube, we can not only listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but watch fantastic video of an orchestra performing! Our three-year-old surprised me at Christmas by identifying some ornaments of various stringed instruments, and I know this comes from watching orchestras on YouTube. A word of caution here, YouTube videos should always be previewed by parents, and the YouTube home page frequently pops open with some raunchiness that I do not want tender eyes to see (including mine!). So, I drag the internet window down to the bottom of the screen so that only the address line and search bar are visible. I can then type in what I’m looking for and drag the window into view when it has loaded.

Science, Nature Study and Geography– I must tell you about the iBird app! While it is probably the most expensive app I have, it is less than the cost of a field guide and so much better. You can look up birds by size, shape, state, time of year, habitat, colors, wingspan, leg color, tail shape, wing shape, flight pattern, bill shape and length, song and more! It will show you photos, drawings, and migratory maps. I am waiting with baited breath for someone to come out with iInsect, iTree and iRock…or iMineral so as not to be confused with a music app! Other technology uses for nature study are weather apps, compass apps and Google maps. We have made use of the flashlight app while camping and we love being able to listen to music as we hike.

Now you’ve seen all my techie tricks and it’s time to share some of your own in the comments!

Coming Soon- Visual Media: Yes, Yes, But is it Living?

Living Technology and Media: Book Media

By Alison Hendricks

As with anything requiring time of a mother with young children, it must be worth the time. As with anything requiring the mind of a Mason educated child, it must be worthy of rumination. We live in an age that has progressed to the point that production is cheap, careful examination is expensive and so, we find ourselves overwhelmed with masses of second- or third- (or fourth-) rate media. Twaddle, indeed. It is a daunting task to flip through the stack of DVDs at the local public library. Enter a few words in google and you are slammed with millions of hits; “search overload” as another search engine claims. But for the Mason educator, you can’t simply make a click, push play, hand over an Mp3 player and hope for the best. It must be of value!

I can begin to enumerate a few ideas, tools and titles here, but my honest opinion is that the best way to begin using living media is to preview it during your lesson planning time. Carve out a few minutes and read reviews, scrub a book, and watch a youtube. It is worth it to know what is being laid before your child. One of the most valuable aspects of the internet is the ability to get the opinions of many without having to read the tome yourself. Reviews can expose problems with a translation, morality issues or find value you might have missed yourself. Use these and if something is very important to you, write a few reviews, too! Help out your fellow learner/educator. I will walk through a few ways to use technology and media in a CM home, but I am no expert and certain things my husband and I have eschewed completely and therefore I have no real experience to share. Social networking is one of these aspects and I can give no advice in this area (although I have an opinion or two!). We also carefully limit television with our children, and what we do have them watch may surprise you.

Let’s begin with book media, shall we?

Some delightful things to which my family has been introduced in the past year are Playaways. We dearly love these nifty gadgets and they can be a Mason mom’s best friend. They are essentially pre-loaded Mp3 players that can be checked out from your local library. They come in a DVD shaped box and are about the size of a box of tictacs. Depending on the library, you will need to supply your own headphones and/or AA battery. While there is some twaddle among the pack, it seems as though our local libraries have made the point to order the best first, possibly because Playaways are pricey. The Playaways that I have checked out have been unabridged, with great vocal talent and it is fun to check out the actual book along with it so the child can read along. They are available for young children as well as older. These are also fantastic in the car for those learners who get carsick while reading.

My eight-year-old is already asking for a Kindle for his next birthday. The Kindle is the version of an eReader or electronic book. My husband bought me one several months ago when the price dropped drastically. He thought that digital books might curb my bibliophilia that threatens to overtake our home, and maybe it has. People ask me all the time if I LOVE my Kindle and I answer, “No, but I do like it.” It is convenient having several books at my disposal in a device that fits into my diaper bag or purse. I like that if I’m folding clothes, I can click “text-to-talk” and the thing reads to me. I like that if I want a book right now, many of those books are available and will be in my hands in a matter of less than one minute…no trip to the bookstore needed. I like the fact that many Kindle editions of books are much cheaper than their paper-and-ink counterparts, or even free! I like that I can type a note right in my book and come back to click on it later. But, I don’t love trying to flip back to re-read that little snippet that keeps running through my head. I don’t love trying to type with my thumbs on a keyboard that is more difficult to use than texting on a phone. I don’t love the voice on the text-to-talk feature…at all. I don’t love that it is only black and white and I don’t love that on my particular Kindle, there is no backlight, so I still must have a light on to read. So, my eight-year-old just might get my Kindle for his ninth birthday if mommy can talk daddy into getting me an iPad! One more note about book media: while I will cover the i’s in another installment (you know….iPod, iPad, iPhone, iHome), it is worth noting that there is a free Kindle app available and it is very nice to be able to pick up reading where I left off right on my iPhone when I don’t even have my Kindle available.

If you are going to have a portable device for reading purposes, you should know about Project Gutenberg. You can download 33,000 books for free from this gem of a site. Since Mason moms are typically looking for classics and Gutenberg books are those that are in the public domain, this site is your cup of tea.

Gutenberg’s acoustical counterpart is LibriVox. This is a site full of free audiobooks from the public domain. This is a great place to load up that iPod each week with living books that you desperately want to read to your child, but can’t find the time. A word of caution, though, these are read-alouds from volunteers and some of the recordings and voices leave a lot to be desired. I once was cleaning up the kitchen and wondered, what is that irritating drone? Following the sound, I came to my sons’ room and found them listening to Rikki Tikki Tavi from a Librivox recording.*(see comments) Their mouths were slack and foreheads wrinkled. I asked them if they enjoyed that person’s voice and they said, “No mom, but it’s a good story!” Poor kids. I turned it off and read it to them myself. However, the price is right and some readers are a delight to the ears if you can ignore the fact that at the beginning of every chapter the reader announces, “This is a Librivox recording. All Librivox recordings are in the public domain. For more information or to volunteer please visit”

For more current audiobooks and eBooks, many libraries are now featuring Library2Go. This site works essentially like your library with your downloads disappearing from your device when the checkout period is over. I have not personally used this tool, because it seems to be too new as to have what I specifically need when I go looking. However, if you are browsing for book suggestions, you might just find this to be a nice way to read that bestseller without having to brave cold weather to get to the library.

Coming Soon: Part III: The i’s Have It!