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!

Posted in Charlotte Mason

Principles and Methods

I’m going to be honest with you, my journey with the Charlotte Mason approach has had its ups and downs. And maybe one of these days, I might write a post about it. But even though I’ve had my ups and downs at times with this philosophy and its methods, I really have come to love this approach. Not only has it born good fruit in our homeschool, but it has helped me grow as a homeschooling mama.

Something I really want to share that’s been on my heart for awhile has to do with this idea of principles and methods. There’s been a lot of conversation taking place in Charlotte Mason circles recently that I think is not only great, but also very badly needed. I’m seeing much more conversation taking place about the importance of focusing on the principles and not some rigid form of following methods.

I still continue to learn about this educational philosophy and how to apply it in our homeschool. But I have to admit, that in the past it I found it easy for me to get caught up in the details at times with Charlotte Mason’s methods…trying to do things “exactly right” according to Miss Mason. The problem with that is, that I found myself feeling like there was this mounting list of to-do’s and it began to feel more like a burden than a joy. When I truly began to understand that this approach was first and foremost about principles and that the methods were flexible and adaptable, I began to feel more freedom with this approach. I began to see all the freedom and flexibility it offers and that naturally brought about more peace and joy in the process.

Charlotte Mason Quote

Miss Mason set out to build a philosophy of education. And the methods sprang forth from those principles. Therefore, in a Charlotte Mason education, the philosophy…the set of principles…is the foundation. With an understanding of these principles, we can set out to develop an education that is tailored to fit each of our unique children, adapting the methods as needed.

Miss Mason recognized that children are different. In fact, the very first principle she stated was that children are born persons. They have unique personalities. Therefore, there is not going to be a one-size fits all curriculum. This is one of the reasons why the Charlotte Mason approach resonates with me…because her philosophy considers the child. It’s a philosophy that addresses the whole person. And it’s a framework from which I can build a year of study based on principles that molds to the needs and abilities of my child.