Poetry

Filling your children’s heads and hearts with poetry is one of the most important things you can do. No one is bored when they have a poem to recite. Internalizing those rhythms and rhymes will help with writing and style later in life. Here is what we do for poetry time each morning.

Who: We chose poets based on what year our children are studying at Ambleside Online. Over the years, we have read Mother Goose, A.A. Milne, John Dunbar, James Riley-Whitcomb, Longfellow, Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter De La Mare, Emily Dickenson, and many more.

 

What: Most of the years, Ambleside has a free, printable list of poems on their website. Some years we have printed the list and read from it. Other years, we have bought a small collection of poems from Half Priced Books. 

We study the same poet for 12 weeks.

How: First, we read one poem per day by our poets. It can be that simple and still be effective. 

If there is a good, short biography on our poet, we may add that.

If we are feeling very creative, we might pick a poem and do an art project inspired by the piece.

We have also had seasons of life that we hosted a Poetry Hour at our home. We picked a poet, had friends over to read a few of his/her poems aloud, and did a small project based on the poems we liked (like painting a rock about our poem, for example.) It helped us to focus on a poet and allowed some kids to recite their poetry in front of peers. Fun all around.

Pilgrim’s Progress


The John Bunyan book, Pilgrim’s Progress is not always a part of our morning time, but it is for the moment. Whenever a book appears in one of my children’s reading lists that is 1. a little bit difficult and 2. would benefit the whole family, I add it to the morning time list. Pilgrim’s Progress is on the list for Ambleside Year 2, so my youngest should be reading it, but it’s good for everyone – so it’s perfect for morning time.

We aim for 10 pages per week, but no stress if we don’t make it. It’s a heavy book and it’s okay to go slow.

Pilgrim’s Progress Options

Over the years, we have found three different methods to cover the ideas in Pilgrim’s Progress.

The original text by John Bunyan is a fine option. We found our copy on Thrift Books, but the text is old enough, it is available for free in the public domain.

There is an adaptation of Pilgrim’s Progress that is illustrated and highly recommended called Dangerous Journey. We will start this version soon for my youngest because he’s not quite ready for 1600’s English.

We also purchased an audio drama several years ago. Many in the homeschool community told me it was great and helped their children understand Pilgrim’s Progress. I had a plan to play the audio in the car while we drive around because that’s prime “captive audience” time. We did, in fact, listen to one or two segments and my kids thought they were interesting. Unfortunately, I’m not tech savvy enough to play MP3s in my vehicle effectively- but I’m sure it’s a great tool for someone who knows how to use those MP3s.

Pilgrim's Progress and Dangerous Journey

Original Text by John Bunyan

Pilgrim's Progress and Dangerous Journey

Dangerous Journey

Pilgrim's Progress Audio Drama

Audio Drama

John Bunyan

John Bunyan was a writer and preacher in the 1600’s. He was a travelling tinker with a filthy mouth for some time and the story goes that a woman berated him for his sin. Convicted, he vowed to become a new man. Read more of his story in the book Trial and Triumph.

Buy Trial and Triumph

Valiant

John Bunyan’s new faith grew and he became a minister. Eventually he was jailed because his beliefs did not line up with King Charles II. He was in jail for twelve years and taught from jail when he could.

Hymn by Bunyan

Pilgrim

Laws changed, and Bunyan was released. But a few months later, when authorities told him again to stop preaching, he refused and was jailed again for 6 months. During this time, he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress.

Wiki Article

At age 59, he was caught in a storm and caught an illness with fever. He died shortly thereafter.

Pilgrim’s Progress is his best known work and in England, you can visit a museum dedicated to his life and work.

 

John Bunyan
by Thomas Sadler, oil on canvas, 1684

 

Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason


This is the issue. My husband and I speak Spanish. Spanish was my minor in college. You would think it would be easy for me to teach Spanish to my kids just by talking to them and letting them “pick it up.” But you would be wrong.

Spanish is not my husband’s nor my native tongue and we didn’t want our kids growing up internalizing bad Spanish – so we’re using a simple curriculum, with several aids along the way, to help them learn to communicate with their neighbors.

Charlotte Mason and Foreign Language

CM encourages French

Alot of CM guides will recommend French as a second language. I’m fairly certain this is because Miss Mason lived in England and their closest neighbors were the French.

I did, in fact, let my daughter try to learn French one year. I bought a simple curriculum and tried to help her along – but…I don’t speak French and did not care to learn. My daughter did not have any French speakers to practice with – so now she’s back on Spanish like the rest of us.

We live in Texas

Applying the CM principles to our own lives, we can look and see who our nearest neighbors are and learn their language.

Our closest neighbor is Mexico and we attend a bilingual church, so Spanish made sense for our family. My kids get to practice with native speakers several times per week.

Many resources available

The truth is, whatever language you pick for your students to learn, there are so many resources available.

Charlotte Mason’s method is meant to mirror the way we learn our first language: hearing, speaking, and then writing.

The easiest book I have found is Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois.

Speaking Spanish

How we use Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason


Theme Phrase

Me Levanto

For example, on page 9 of our book, the phrase at the top is “Me Levanto” followed by some other phrases about getting up and dressed in the morning.

The weeks we did page, we acted out getting up, brushing hair, etc. while saying the words.

Secondary Topic

Dias de la Semana

The secondary topic for this page is the days of the week, so we practiced saying these days in Spanish.

We spend time reviewing previous topics as well. When we review the days of the week, we will do an art project – making a calendar with pictures of what we do on each day.

You Tube

Senor Jordan and Amigos

My kids learn alot through music and I am not creative enough to make up songs for every subject. 

Enter Senor Jordan and other You Tube creators like him. There is great content out there that can help your kids learn.

We spend a week or two on each page and go back to review every so often. I also own several children’s books in Spanish, and we pick one to read once a week or so. Reading the children’s book together is not my kids’ favorite activity, but it is helping them learn Spanish so we are sticking with it. 

Proverbs, Verses, and Catechism


Every morning, our first order of business is learning God’s Word.

Proverbs

There are 31 Proverbs in the Bible and, often, 31 days in a month.

Monday-Friday, we read the proverb that corresponds with that day of the month. By the end of the year, we’ve read all the proverbs multiple times.

We do:

Pray that God will help us understand and apply his word.

Stay as consistent as possible.

Let the Holy Spirit speak to each child.

Point out, very rarely, if one verse applies to a situation our family currently experiencing.

We do not:

Preach during Morning Time.

Point at each child and say, “Did you hear that? God says you’re being foolish!”

Play “catch up” and read extra if we missed a day.

Ambleside Online recommends King James Version, but our family uses ESV and CSV because we prefer them.

Proverbs

 

Foundation Verses Flip Book and Fighter Verses Binder

Bible Verses

We use two tools for deciding which Bible Verses to memorize. Both are from Truth:78

Foundation Verses – Desiring God used to sell small flip books with short Bible verses for young people to memorize. Now they are available through Truth:78.

Fighter Verses – Longer sections of scripture for older children and adults, also available through Truth:78.

We just read a few verses daily until most of us have memorized the verse. The memorized verses switch to “weekly” and we move on to more verses.

In theory, the joy of learning God’s word is a reward in itself. In practice, especially with my kids, a tangible reward helps. We buy small gifts from FiveBelow and when the kids memorize as many verses as they are old. (So the 7 year old gets a prize when he learns 7 verses.)

Truth78

 

New City Catechism

Catechism

Learning the catechism has been a great tool for my children to internalize truths about God.

Our family chose New City Catechism. They have a plethora of resources to help your family incorporate this tool in your morning time routine.

We used New City Catechism in our Sunday School a few years ago. It was amazing to see the children and teens make connections learn about God in this orderly, logical way.

We use the pdf that someone created. It does have a few typos but it would be too much work for me to redo the whole thing to add in missing a word or two so we use it as is. Plus, it’s free.

There’s also an app for you phone so you can work on your catechism on the go.

We learn the questions in the same way that we do the Bible Verses. Starting with Q1-Q5, we read them daily. As they get memorized, they move to a weekly rotation. At the end, we should be about to answer about 10 questions per day and get through the whole thing in a week.

New City

 

“Homeschool moms love planning more than the actual homeschooling.” — I’m not sure who said that, but sometimes it’s true.

Proverbs, Bible, Catechism are for everyone.

Spanish – We use Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois

Pilgrim’s Progress – we have an old copy. We may be switching to Dangerous Journey soon.

Poetry – We follow Ambleside’s poetry rotation depending on the year my kids are in.

Shakespeare – Ambleside Shakespeare Rotation. (Usually)

Free Read –  a book I pick that I want us to read aloud together.

Halliburton – His “Book of Marvels.”

Art Study – Ambleside’s Art Rotation – using a study guide from either Humble Place or Simply Charlotte Mason.

Composer – Reading a book about our composer, chosen from Ambleside’s Composer Study.

Art Instruction – You Tube Videos, usually connected to another topic. More on that later.

Geography – From from both Home Geography for Primary Grades by Long, and/or Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason 

Plutarch – We used Anne White’s Study Guides. This is aimed at my older kids, but the younger one listens, too.

Nature Study – Using Anne Comstock’s book as a guide plus the Ambleside Nature Rotation.

Dictation – For my oldest, we had to add Diction to the list so we would remember to do it.

Morning Time

“Morning Time,” while not strictly Charlotte Mason, is an essential part of our homeschool. It’s the time that we read the Bible together, do any lessons that all the kids need, and review our day so everyone knows what to expect.

And this week I’m planning for next term.

To keep myself as organized as possible, I make a list of goals for each week. Ambleside runs 12 week terms, so I work in 12 week chunks.

I print one page for each week. Each pages as a “daily” section and a “weekly section.” We do the daily items daily and try to get in 2 weekly items per day.

Daily sample:

Proverbs

Bible Verses

Catechism

Spanish-imperatives

Pilgrim’s Progress (10 pages per week)

Poetry – Whitcomb-Riley and Whittier

Shakespeare – Two Gentlemen – 1 scene per day

Two from weekly list

Free Read

Weekly sample:

Halliburton

Art Study – Botticelli

Composer – Bach

Art Instruction –  TBD

Geography – TBD

Plutarch-Pompey

Nature Study – soil/erosion

Dictation (x3)

Look mysterious? Over the next few months, I’ll be posting more about each of our morning time activities. I hope these ideas may help you on your homeschool journey!

 

For an excellent podcast about morning time

Check out Cindy Rollins – The New Mason Jar or Pam Barnhill’s Your Morning Basket. Both have seriously influenced my homeschool journey in a big way.

For further reading on Charlotte Mason

You can always read Charlotte’s words herself for free on the web, or check out Susan Schaffer Macauley’s For the Children’s Sake

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Watercolor Celtic Knots

Summer brings some time to experiment with more Celtic Knot Designs. 

The knots look complicated, but really, it’s just math and setting up a grid with a ruler, protractor, and compass.

So, I’ve been working on different equations to see which knots I like, how they look, and how easy they are to paint.  

Sometime soon, I’ll type up some instructions on how to form a knot. Maybe I can even post a video.

But this month has been all about playing with math and colors. The end result has been: there will be lots of new knot pendants in the store in the coming weeks and probably some prints, too.

Is there are color combo you need for your home or neck? Send me an email to start work on a custom project.

 

It’s the most fun to use two colors and watch the washes swirl together. Watercolor was a struggle for me in the beginning because I like to control all the aspects of where my paint/color is going. That’s not always possible with the watercolors. Sometimes they swirl one way, sometimes another. But you have to trust the paint to do what’s best. That usually works out the best.

Check back in the next weeks to see how the knot explosion has worked out and pick up a necklace or wall hanging as a special treat!

See you soon!

I don’t remember exactly what first drew me to this painting. Could have been the bright blues, the motion, or the mountain.

I had already painted a couple of lockets with beaches or ocean views, so I wanted to try this wave at this angle, and I really love how it turned out.

I couldn’t quite fit in the three boats, but I knew I needed Fuji. Someday, somehow, I’m walking up Fuji and it will be awesome.

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa

All The Pretty Horses and Awaking Wonder

This month’s fiction is all about Pretty Horses.

I have never read Cormac McCarthy before. It’s quite an adventure. I’m 1/4 of the way through with All the Pretty Horses. I completely love Texas, and my family also had a ranch near San Angelo, so my heart already loves this book. It’s taking a minute to get used to the rhythm and lack of quotation marks – but I will overcome.

In non-fiction, I picked up Sally Clarkson’s newest book “Awaking Wonder.” I dig the title, and the cover is beautiful stars so I’m already tracking with her without even opening the book. I’m reading this one along with friends in real life, so that’s exciting.

Happy Reading,

—Cassie

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Lincoln in the Bardo

Because I homeschool with the Charlotte Mason method, I’m constantly reading old books, almost exclusively. I just don’t have time to read anything new. In my mind, I kind of think if it’s worth reading, it will be around in 20 years and I can read it then.

But this year has been a little different. Highly recommended, I picked up Lincoln in the Bardo and finished it on vacation.

Basically, historical fact: Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd lost a son, Willie, while Lincoln was in office. They thought he was going to get better and he didn’t. They laid his body in a mausoleum in D.C., intending to carry him back to Indiana when they moved back home. (Of course, Abraham and Willie’s bodies both went back together after the president’s assassination) President Lincoln really did slip into the mausoleum to hold Willie’s body a few times. George Saunders imagined the circumstances around that fact and wrote Lincoln in the Bardo.

The writing in this book is just amazing. I don’t think I have ever cried so much in the first half of a book. Plus it’s sprinkled with actual historical sources so I was constantly googling, “Did XYZ really happen?” (Some of the “historical sources” are actually fabricated, so I had to check everything.) I learned so much real information about Lincoln on my rabbit trails.

George Saunders touches on bits of humanity, most directly with Lincoln and his deceased son, in a startlingly accurate way. And that’s why I openly wept through the entire book (in the best way possible).

I would love to see another book with real journals and sources compiled in this way. I thought about writing one, but I don’t have time. So someone else get on it! And let me see how it goes.

—Cassie

Be Still My Soul

Art Inspiration

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The first time I heard the hymn “Be Still My Soul,” I literally cried and texted my two oldest friends to tell them I wanted it played at my funeral. I’m not even kidding. It’s beautiful, insightful, and true.

The version I heard was by Page CXII and you can listen here, although there are several more versions online that are super good.

At our home, to do hymn study, we follow Ambleside Online’s monthly plan. I make a Spotify playlist with a few versions of the hymn of the month plus a couple of other songs that match thematically or musically. We listen throughout the month and learn the lyrics if we can. After you’ve heard the same song everyday for 30 days, you’ve pretty well got it.

Over the course of the year, we are familiar with 12 new hymns. If they are a good fit for our Sunday School class, we learn them there, too. Honestly, pouring deep, meaningful hymns into your life is nearly as good as learning a catechism. When the children I work with come back and tell me a hymn was stuck in their head all week, I know they hymn is doing it’s work.

In my own home, if I can tell my kids are really loving a certain song – maybe they request it or just really belt it out in the mornings- I will add it to our family hymn playlist. We listen to it in the car, usually if we are going somewhere in the mornings and need some peace. A slow, sweet hymn played at just the right moment can calm many nerves.

Then once per year, we go over the whole list as a family and see if anything needs to come off…except for Page CXVI’s Be Still My Soul. That one stays! Mom says.