Posted in Miscellaneous

The Fall Season Calls

It’s officially Fall! And that makes me happy because it’s my favorite season! Even though the temperatures are still warmer, I cling to the anticipation of cooler, fall weather to come. I think it’s supposed to be in the 60s tomorrow. Yay! But back to 80s next week. Bummer.

Just the thought of cooler weather to come has got me in the mood for chili, crocheting, and snuggling with a blanket on the couch watching an old movie.

Autumn Leaves

We have lots of leaves in our front yard already, which turns my attention to pumpkins….pumpkins on the porch, pumpkin bread and other pumpkin recipes….and wanting to watch Fall Season Hallmark movies.

I look longingly at my sweatshirts, anxious to wear one with a pair of comfy sweatpants.

And this time of year, Nature calls to me more. The crisp cool air and the beauty of all the colors of the trees.

What do you love about the fall season?

Posted in Ambleside Online, Charlotte Mason

How We Began a Charlotte Mason Education with an Older Child

When I used to blog about homeschooling with Charlotte Mason, I wrote about our experience of beginning a Charlotte Mason education with an older child. We began Ambleside Online back when my oldest daughter was almost in high school. There was so much to learn and it felt a bit overwhelming at times. The Ambleside Online curriculum and the wonderful people I met through their then yahoo groups and now the AO Forum helped me so much! I know there are many who are just beginning their Charlotte Mason education journey with older children. So I want to share what I wrote a few years ago about how I went about implementing Charlotte Mason methods with our oldest daughter.

Implementing a Charlotte Mason education with an older child, we had to make a transition from what we were accustomed to doing (textbooks, workbooks, etc.) to a whole new way of approaching schoolwork. This not only involved a transformation in our day to day schooling, but in how I viewed education. At times, it felt overwhelming. There was just so much to learn about this philosophy and its methods. Other times, aspects of it seemed so simple that I wondered how in the world it would work. But I’m here to tell you that even though it was a bit challenging trying to transition to this style of education with an older student, it was totally worth the effort for us.

CM Motto

As we began to implement more of a CM approach in our school, I chose to ease into it by focusing on three key cornerstones of her methods:

  • Living Books
  • Narration
  • Generous Curriculum

Living Books
First, I began using more living books vs. textbooks. I chose to begin using the Ambleside Online curriculum (a free Charlotte Mason curriculum). I knew that by using AO’s curriculum, I wouldn’t have to go searching and reading and searching and reading and planning and more planning to put together living books for a year of studies. That saved me a LOT of work. Now mind you, I still wasn’t quite for sure how this was all going to pan out; but I wanted to give it a try. So we began with AO’s Pre Year 7 booklist over the summer, reading books that my daughter had not already read. Then we ventured into Year 7. That year was a huge leap for both my daughter and myself. I’d like to say that we stuck through all the books in Year 7 but we didn’t. I switched up that year by covering the middle ages along with the renaissance and reformation and using different history books altogether. Some of the Year 7 books were very challenging for my daughter and since we were just beginning to implement CM methods in our school and transitioning to that, I felt we needed books that were a little less difficult. We basically ended up doing a combo of Years 7 and 8 with AO as our framework but picking and choosing some different resources for history. By the end of that year, I felt like we were progressing much better in our transitioning and that we were ready to give the full AO Year 9 a go.

Along with implementing more living books, we also began narration. For the first full year, we just focused on oral narration for the most part. My daughter did do some written narrations after a while; but we still continued oral narrations the whole year. Then the following year, she did more written narrations but still continued with oral narrations as well. It was a process.

Generous Curriculum
Finally, I implemented a more generous curriculum. Again, AO helped me with that. We didn’t do everything our first year as it was challenging enough fitting in a basic framework; but we still did more than we had. AO made it nice because they did a lot of that work already by incorporating things like Plutarch, Shakespeare and poetry into the schedule. And they provided resources for artist and composer study.

Easing into the Charlotte Mason approach worked well for us and throughout the high school years with my oldest daughter, I saw much good fruit come from implementing CM methods in our homeschool. I began with those three key methods and continued to learn more about the philosophy and methods along the way. Even with homeschooling my youngest, I’m still learning and growing with the Charlotte Mason method. Because each child is unique…and therefore, how the CM approach is implemented might look a bit different with each child.

Posted in From My Commonplace

From My Commonplace…On Teaching

Nature Trail

“Teaching is not a technique exercised by the skilled on behalf of the unskilled. It is a sharing of the effort to know, using all that is best in the world of books, of music, of pictures, all that can be observed and cherished out of doors, all that hand and eye can make; all that religion, history, art, mathematics and science can reveal to the active mind.”

From The Story of Charlotte Mason by Essex Cholmondley

Posted in Books and Reading

What We’ve Been Reading Lately

A few days ago, I decided to stop by one of our local bookstores to see if I could find any good bargains. I scanned the bargain shelf to see what treasures I might find. I got some great deals and plan to go back again in the next week or two to hopefully buy a few more bargain priced books. 🙂

Bargain Books

We read about the lives of Saints in our morning time; but I’ve been wanting to find a book about the lives Saints for my own personal reading. I was tickled to find one!

The Emerald City of Oz is a collection of books 6-10 of The Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum. Did you know there were 14 books in this series? I just finished Book 5 this past week so I was glad to see the collection of books 6-10 on the bargain shelf!

Time to Get a Pet is just a fun little activity set that practices some math concepts. My daughter loves animals so I know she will love this activity set.

Now on to what we’ve been reading lately…..

Little Bit (She’s 9yo)
She’s been re-reading a number of books lately. She loves to re-read favorite books. But she’s also been reading some new books as well. Here’s a sampling of what she’s been reading lately:

The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenberg
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
The Burgess Bird Book by Thorton W. Burgess (We read a portion of this for school in Year 2. She’s been re-reading what we already read and then finishing the rest of the book.)
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
How to Speak Dog by Aline Alexander Newman and Gary Weitzman
D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths


Books I’ve Been Pre-Reading
I’ve been pre-reading children’s books for summer reading for my daughter. Also, in the last two weeks, I’ve begun pre-reading books for Year 4.

Summer Reading

So first, some of the summer reading stack I pre-read for my daughter:

Miranda the Great by Eleanor Estes
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright
Ribsy by Beverly Cleary
The Wizard of Oz Series Books 1-5 by L. Frank Baum
Chanticleer and the Fox by Geoffrey Chaucer and Barbara Cooney

Miranda the Great is not in the picture above because I checked it out at the library to pre-read. It’s on my list to order.
Year 4 Pre-reading

School Books I’m Currently Pre-Reading:

Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling – *Finished*
George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster
Poor Richard by James Daugherty- *Finished*
The Story Book of Science by Jean Henri Fabre *Currently reading*
The Age of Fable
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford
Marie Curie’s Search for Radium
by Beverley Birch and
Christian Birmingham – *Finished*


And I have a pretty good stack of books building up for me to pre-read for free reading this coming school year:

Books To Pre-Read

Aside from children’s books and school books, here’s a look at other books I have finished reading in the last few months:

Another book I am slowly making my way through is When the Church Was Young:  Voices of the Early Fathers by Marcellino D’Ambrosio. It’s on my Kindle and I usually try to read a little of it before I go to bed at night. A book I’m thinking about grabbing off the bookshelf and reading again is The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera. I read this book last year and really enjoyed it and have been wanting to read it again.

What have you been reading lately? I always love to hear about what books others are reading!

Posted in Charlotte Mason, Keeping

Some of Our Year 3 Keeping

This year, I incorporated a bit more of Charlotte Mason style notebook keeping. I even started some myself! My daughter did drawings in her science/nature notebook to go along with some of the readings. She also keeps an American History notebook. We did some map work as well as drawing lessons. In term 3, she began a Copywork Journal which is an idea I got from Celeste’s blog which she calls a Prose and Poetry Journal. Once a week, my daughter chose something from her readings for copywork and put it in her Copywork Journal. I gave her a really pretty journal for this. She surprised me in that sometimes she chose really long passages to copy….such as a poem she chose to memorize. She copied the whole poem in her journal in one sitting!

Here’s a look at some of my daughter’s keeping from this year.

Pea Plant Drawing
She observed an actual pea plant and then drew it, labeling the pistel, stamen, and pea eggs. Unfortunately, you can’t really see her labeling lines very clearly. Sorry…..


This is one of the entries in her American History notebook. She wanted lots of windows on her drawing of Harvard College. 🙂


One of her science notebook entries


Her drawing from an abstract art lesson utilizing shapes for the drawing


And a little bit of my keeping that I began…….

My Map Tracing 2

My Map Tracing 1
I started VERY basic with map drawing by tracing some maps. I am not very good at free hand drawing of maps!


My Squirrel Drawing
My drawing from our art lesson on how to draw squirrels.



My Owl Drawing
My drawing from our art lesson on how to draw owls.


I do also keep a Commonplace Notebook as well. I’m looking forward to doing more of my own keeping in this upcoming year. I’ve already begun some with my pre-reading for Year 4. 🙂

Posted in Exams

Year 3 Term 3 Exams

Earlier this week, we finished up our school year with our Term 3 exams. I was so excited to do our Term 3 exams because (1) I have been reading through Celeste’s various posts about the exams she does with her children and have been inspired, and (2) I participated in Celeste’s Exam Webinar that was so extremely helpful! I really appreciate Celeste’s posts about their exams because they have really helped me see how one can incorporate both standard and creative type questions. So Celeste, thank you so much!

We follow the Ambleside Online Curriculum, with our own additions/substitutions as needed to fit our family. My youngest daughter just finished up Year 3. I thought I would share the exam questions I put together for Term 3 in case maybe it will helpful for someone too. 🙂

Just a sample of some of the exam papers before exam time.


Term 3 Exam Questions

My daughter is still in Form I, so a lot of the exam questions are done orally. She will enter Form II next year and with that will come more written work with her exams. So in the exams for this term, I included one narrative style question for her to write her answer to (History question #1 below).

1.  Of the Saints we’ve learned about this year, choose one and tell me about him/her.
2.  Tell about our Lord’s birth including the journey to Bethlehem.

1.  Pretend you are one of the Pilgrims that came over on the Mayflower and you are keeping a journal of your daily life in the colony. Write a journal entry describing what colonial life is like for you.
2.  Tell all you know about the Union Jack OR Bonnie Prince Charlie.
3.  Tell what you know about one of the following:

– William Bradford
– Anne Hutchinson
– John Harvard

1.  Pretend you are a news reporter and do a news report on how the Beverley children came to live in the New Forest. (From Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat)
2.  Tell all you know about the story of Theseus. (From The Heroes by Charles Kingsley)

1.  Recite “Wishes” by Sara Teasdale OR “A Good Play” by Robert Louis Stevenson.
2.  Sing “Ave Maria”. (In Latin)
3.  Sing the first verse of “America, the Beautiful”.
4.  Sing the first verse of “Blow Ye Wind”.

1.  Choose one of the lessons from Draw Write Now 2 and complete.
2.  Choose one of the artworks from Jacques Louise David and tell me the name of the work and describe it as best you can.

Music Study
1.  Sing the Solfege scale.
2.  Discuss the difference between pitch and rhythm.
3.  Describe both major and minor scales and tell which one the Solfege scale is.
4.  Demonstrate on the piano a half step and a whole step.

Play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” on your tin whistle.

Natural History
Draw a sketch of Koskomenos the Kingfisher OR Meeko the Red Squirrel and list at least three characteristics of the one you choose to draw.

1.  Label the following colonies that we have read about so far on the blank map provided:

Rhode Island
New Hampshire

2.  Draw a picture of a compass and label it.
3.  Complete the attached map of Great Britain and Ireland by labeling all the places you have learned this term.

Copy the following passage from Seabird in your best cursive handwriting on the handwriting sheet provided:

“Week after sunny week the Clipper soared south, her wide wings filled with wind. Then came tropic downpours, waterspouts, fitful breezes, and blistering sun.”

1.  Diagram these sentences:

Eat juicy pears.
The Lincoln Memorial is a famous monument.

2.  Tell me the definition of both a common noun and proper noun.

3.  Make these words plural:


I prepared math questions based on her math lessons from Term 3. I also had her complete a math drill of multiplication math facts she’s been learning this year.


Exam Assessment

Just some of my thoughts with our Term 3 exam:

  • My daughter is improving in her cursive handwriting skills. We need to work more on translating that neat handwriting in penmanship to neater handwriting in other subjects. 😉
  • She’s really getting her mutiplication math facts down. But there are some other math concepts she learned this term she needs to review a bit more. I love Celeste’s idea of having math practice sheets in the student’s notebook/binder. I started doing this the last few weeks of our term and it really helped in working on concepts that needed a bit more review while still moving forward with math lessons.
  • I think she is doing well with narrating things she’s learned. We do still need to work on her ordering events in her narrations a bit more. But overall, her narration skills are growing.

These are just a couple of thoughts. There are other observations I noted from this term’s exams as well. If you are new to doing Charlotte Mason style exams, I encourage you to check out Celeste’s blog and her various exam posts. Her exam posts have been so helpful for me! You can also look at the Ambleside Online Exam page to see the exams they’ve put together for their curriculum.

Posted in Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading 5/26/17

Today, I’m sharing a couple of articles from two of my favorite blogs. Celeste and Jennifer both have blogs that inspire and encourage me in faith, motherhood, homeschooling, and Charlotte Mason.

A School Year Kept – Celeste gives a wrap up of the notebook keeping they did this school year. I love when she shares their various keeping notebooks! She inspires me to do more keeping for myself!

A Mother’s Morning Basket – I love this idea of having my own morning basket. Jennifer shares the different types of books she has in her mother’s morning basket along with titles she’s read and books she’d like to read.

Happy Reading!