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The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has Wee-books

I love my subscription to The Old Schoolhouse magazine. Every few months, I eagerly look into my mailbox for my next issue. Now, while I’m waiting, I can read their new Wee-books, choosing from topics about training my children to teaching tips in a variety of subjects to taking care of me, so I can be the best mom and wife I can be.

I recently read a few of their wee-books on a variety of topics and I’d like to share with you a review of these titles.

The first wee-book I read was entitled, HomeWork: Juggling Home, Work, and School Without Losing Your Balance. This wee-book was a fun and interesting compilation of personal stories from real homeschool moms relating their experiences balancing working from home, housework, and homeschooling. Each mom shared their homeschooling strategies, scheduling techniques, their working habits, and how they have made it work for them. They even described how their children contributed to their business and assisted them in their daily tasks. There were various kinds of businesses discussed and tips provided to keep your business finances, materials, and time organized. At the end was a list of helpful internet resources to refer to for more information. In these economic times, I found that this information was very helpful and timely when I know alot of moms are trying to find a way to assist their families right now.

The second wee-book I read was a great follow up to the first one I just told you about. It was called The Pitfalls and Possibilities of Being a Work-at-Home-Mom by Carol Topp, CPA. This book is filled with “advice from the trenches” for Work at Home Moms (WAHM) in getting started at working from home. There are practical steps to follow and issues to think about in working from home picking the kind of business to balancing your time to setting up boundaries. The difference between “home-based business” and “working from home” is also discussed. The wee-book ends with options to being self-employed and avoiding those work at home scams you sometimes see advertised. I thoroughly appreciated the practical checklist of things to think about and consider in deciding how you want to work at home.

My other two wee-book options I chose to read were centered on academic areas I will be exploring with my children next year. The first one was entitled The Italian Renaissance by Maggie Hogan. I’ve had the privilege a number of times to hear Maggie speak at homeschool conferences and have enjoyed every opportunity. This wee-book explored a misconception held about the Renaissance period and explained this time period in a way I hadn’t considered before. I’m glad I read this book as now I’ll be able to include this in my homeschool next year when we read and discuss the renaissance. This time period is packed with so much to cover that I found this book valuable in that it gives a good overview of the time and lists key places, people, terms, and art topics to include in a renaissance study. It also has a list of things to do with your children to assist you in delving into this topic. As always, I was not disappointed when I saw that this book was written by Maggie Hogan and I know you won’t be either.

The last wee-book I recently read was The Great Books by Kate Kessler. In this wee-book, Kate interviews Fritz Hinrichs, a classical educator. Being a former English teacher and homeschooling a teenage son, I want to make sure my homeschool includes quality literature and the “great books” if that will contribute to his educational experience. So, I wanted to get an idea of what is considered one of the great books and why is it important to read them and include them in our homeschool. I enjoyed the interview and the topics covered helped me to see how great books would contribute to my sons’ education and to our homeschool experience. The reason for studying the great books and the philosophy behind their study is explored. The case behind reading the great books and the Bible to look at the world around us today and see God’s truth is explained. They give us a perspective from which to observe, think, and understand this world and helps us in our discernment. This wee-book helped give me the overall picture from which to discuss these literary works with my son and put them in context of our faith and in his life. It was well worth the read.

I hope you find these reviews helpful. If you would like to purchase these titles or see what other titles are available, I invite you to visit The Old Schoolhouse Store.

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival and Carnival of Homeschooling

There is a wonderful event that occurs twice per month called a blog carnival. There are two that I enjoy and am participating in right now. They are being hosted on two other blogs and have a number of contributions from other homeschool bloggers. You’ll want to check them out this week and see if there are any “gems” of ideas you might want to use your in homeschool. These are the blogs:

The Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is taking place at Golden Acorn Homeschool

The Carnival of Homeschooling is taking place at Corn and Oil  (Living and Learning on the Illinois Farm)

I hope you enjoy and get alot of great ideas for your homeschool! Have a great day!

Our Charlotte Mason Version of the Middle Ages

Whew! We just finished studying the middle ages and just like with every era we complete, we had ourselves a wonderful feast. We’ve been Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and last night we had Britons and Franks at our table. In case, you wanted to explore the middle ages using Charlotte Mason’s methods and adding some more fun to it to make it living history, I thought I’d share with you what my family did.

The foundation of our reading was based on the books The Story of the Middle Ages, Story of the World, and the Child’s History of the World. From these readings, we would orally narrate and then make notebooking pages. For our family read together time, we enjoyed reading aloud A Door in the Wall and Adam of the Road for two stories to get the feel of the time period from a child’s perspective and attain some background knowledge of what life was like. While reading A Door in the Wall, we came to the part where the author discussed the monastery and the monks illuminating their scripts, so we decided to be monks. Aside from copying and transcribing Bible passages, we decided to make an alphabet book about the middle ages. We wrote down 3 or more words associated with the time (people’s names, events, things, places) next to a list of the alphabet starting with each letter. We then made a fancy looking letter at the top corner of 26 pages, one for each letter of the alphabet. Looking at some examples of illuminated pages in some fairy tale type books at home and the Book of Kells on the internet, we started putting decorative borders around the edges and coloring the large letter and the borders with rich colors, including gold, silver, red, green, glittery gel pens.

The pages were now ready to be written on a topic starting with that letter. A couple of times per week the boys would sit down with stacks of books on various topics about the middle ages we would get from the library and read. They would discuss with me what they learned and then write a summary about it for their alphabet book on the correct alphabetical page and then draw a picture in a picture box for their book. When they were all done, we took an extra large piece of paper to fold it over in half and with one of us holding the book pages tight against the fold, the other took a tapestry needle with off white tapestry thread and sewed the book binding, just like the monks. Afterward they practiced calligraphy (as close as they could get) to write the title of their books.

My older son is still finishing listening to Ivanhoe and reading A Connecticutt Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, laughing outloud while he reads and telling his younger brother what just happened.

For copywork, my younger son wrote down passages from A Door in the Wall, and my older son (a big Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fan) decided he would choose elaborate passages from those books. The boys also studied the history of chess and read about each piece, its history, and strategies to use when using that piece. This was a wonderful book called Illustrated Chess for Children with lots of interesting information for the names of the chess pieces, their moves, and strategy of the game. Alot of pictures helped the boys follow along with the discussion. They would read and play a chapter at a time.

We also enjoyed Howard Pyle’s King Arthur and Merry Tales of Robin Hood. We read Beowulf and The Song of Roland. We haven’t gotten to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight yet, but we will. We enjoyed a children’s version of The Canterbury Tales and read Chanticleer and the Fox, after reading Saint George and the Dragon. That book has some wonderful illuminations in it.

We looked at David Macaulay’s books, Cathedral and Mosque, among other titles to get a feel for art and architecture and the spread of different cultures and beliefs of the time. Each of my boys chose a person to read books about and write a research paper on – one chose Kublai Khan, the other chose King Richard the Lion-Hearted. They also read aloud a biography on Marco Polo and we mapped the Silk Road.

We would periodically stop and put time line figures on a very long roll of butcher paper, one for each boy, that we made into timelines we have been working on for several years. We add to it every year. The top half of the line is for the history of the Western Hemisphere. The bottom half of the timeline is for the Eastern Hemisphere. This way we can see what is happening concurrently on different sides of the world in a chronological manner.

We enjoyed watching a video by Sister Wendy on the art of the period and listened to various kinds of medieval music and chants.

We also listened on CD to several G A Henty stories for this period which have always been a hit with us. We were fortunate enough to see the extensive collection of armor, including samurai warriors, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That is going to have to be a repeat visit some day.

We did an extensive study of knights, chivalry, their crests and their meanings. This led us to what crests do our family surnames have. We did a search and conducted family interviews to learn more about our family’s history. We found the correct crests for each half of the family, found out the meanings behind the names and symbols on the crests, and we put this information and the pictures on notebooking pages. The boys, of course, wanted to invent their own crests and meanings after that and then wrote out a descriptive paragraph of their respective kingdoms that led to the creation of their crests.

Being boys, they enjoyed a study of the weaponry and their uses of the time and the role of the castle.

After a study of the crusades and why they happened, we wound down our study and got ready for our feast. The boys read books on the feasts, so they would have the proper mannerisms, food, and entertainment for the occasion. They prepared a play (which wasn’t a miracle or mystery play like they would have had at the time about a Bible story) but one based on Beowulf which they had enjoyed reading so much. We prepared bannock bread, mentioned in A Door in the Wall, beef stew, and blueberry pie, served with a fruit and cheese platter with grape juice in goblets. The stew was served on bread trenchers as was the custom at the time with each setting having a finger bowl and a cloth napkin. My husband was a bit surprised when he sat down and found out he had a wooden spoon and a dull knife with which to eat and was told not to talk about any electronic devices or he would be regarded with suspicion as being a sorcerer. Everyone had to speak with thine, thy, and thou. As my sons, in a king and a knight costume, sat by candlelight at the table, they discussed who was really in charge, the Britons or the Franks.

After dessert was served, my husband narrated a lively rendition of Beowulf as the boys acted it out, changing costumes several times. Thus, the middle ages has ended and we are entering the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration with great expectation of what we will read, learn, and who we will become this time. I know we will be recreating some of Leonardo DaVinci’s inventions and lying on our backs under the kitchen table painting the next Cystine chapel for starters.


Our Medieval Feast

Our Medieval Feast

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Our First Full Charlotte Mason Unit Study and a Free Mini Unit Study as a Gift For You

Introducing our First Complete Charlotte Mason Unit Study

(And, sign up for Katie’s Homeschool Cottage Newsletter for a chance in the drawing for a copy of our next ebook soon to be released on Nature Study!)

It’s here! Our first complete unit study using Charlotte Mason methods and more! It’s spring and soon you will see Insects all around, if you haven’t seen them already. Things are just beginning to bloom here up north, but we are waiting with baited breath for more signs of life after our winter. So, we’ll soon begin our Insect study. Just wait until you hear what is inside this unit study!

Trying to put together a lesson plan that covers a topic thoroughly, has good living books to read, copywork and dictation selections, notebooking pages to use for your written narration, copywork, and dictation, has nature journal pages to use on your outings, outdoor activity ideas, questions to review to make sure you are on track if you feel you need some guidance, hands-on activities, science experiments, online activities, poetry, non-fiction resources, blank lesson planning forms, writing activity suggestions, and lapbooking ideas and lapbooking sources can be a long exhausting process to complete when you are homeschooling!

I know because I just did it, with this unit study. It took some time, but I feel that there is such a need to try to organize these kinds of materials in one place to help us homeschool moms in our busy schedules in our pursuit in using Charlotte Mason methods. After spending the past few years constantly researching and gathering ideas, lists, materials from all different directions, I decided to come up with unit studies that tie all of these pieces together in one place.

This unit study and others that I am excitedly working on right now can be used daily for four weeks with the detailed lesson plans that I have provided. Plus, there is so much included in all these lists, it’s a menu of items that you can use to extend my four week lesson plans to however long a study you wish to pursue. The forms are given to you so you can customize and write out your own lesson plans for years to come with all of the materials I have provided for you, without repeating the same activities or readings for several years.

Here is what you get in this 82 page unit with suggestions for preschool through high school:

  • Lists of Living Book suggestions that can be found free online,(these are the ones I have used in my lesson plans I have done for you), the library, or purchased through an online store like Amazon.   In these economically challenging times, I have tried to make this a complete unit study where you do not have to purchase anything else unless you want to –  all of the materials can be found for free.
  • These Living Book titles include Charlotte Mason style literature, quality non-fiction resources, poetry selections and anthologies, and activity books. A brief description is also included for each title with a suggested age range.
  • 4 Weeks of daily lesson plans for you to follow (does not include math and history and is not a complete English course)
  • Each day contains A Reading Selection from Charlotte Mason style literature from which your child can orally narrate and write down on the provided notebooking pages. There are even sections in the unit that give you direction and suggestions on how to use Ms. Mason’s methods with the lesson plan for your younger, middle, and upper children.
  • Each daily lesson plan is divided into two separate plans, one for elementary and one for middle and high school that overlap in places for group activities. You can pick and choose what you want each of your children to do individually or as a whole family. I have just given you options to choose from to allow older children to explore and learn independently at times when it is most suitable. This gives you the time to sit and read with the younger children, while the older children are going into the subject matter in a greater depth, but still allowing everyone to work and learn together at times.
  • 22 Copywork selections are provided, consisting of  more simple ones for the younger children and longer and more complex ones for the older children – paragraphs from suggested living book titles and poetry.
  • 16 different notebooking pages – all different, some labeled and decorated, some unlabeled, some specifically for taking on a nature walk to document your day.
  • Lists of online resources and links to online activities, movie clips, activity ideas, manipulatives, insect flash cards from simple to entomological classification, cute preschool crafts and more hands-on crafts for the older children, quality on-line resource information in a fun format and also technical information for the older children including how insects affect their daily lives and our agriculture, science, and medicine.
  • Lists of Hands-on activity suggestions for you to do with simple materials with your children in a science experiment format, just have fun applying what we know format, full lapbooks, or get outdoors and explore. You’ll be amazed at what you can find yourself doing and enjoying bugs!
  • Each piece of copywork for that week’s lesson comes with a daily focus skill on either a grammar application for them to take notice while doing their copywork, vocabulary or spelling word review, or a literary element discussion, or a combination of these. You will be so happy to see your child recognizing these skills in good writing as they copy these pieces everyday in preparation for dictation at the end of the week.
  • There is a suggested activity to do after the reading, narrating, and copywork is completed. You can choose to do the activity or skip it if you don’t have time, save it for another day for another activity you wish to skip, or replace it with a whole new one from our Activity Suggestions list.
  • At the end of the week there is a nature study type activity, most outside, some inside in case the weather does not want to cooperate. You’ll find yourself virtually dissecting an insect or skimming a pond and examining insects before they morph into something that looks like a totally different bug. Nature Journal pages are provided to take with you on some of your outings for a more relaxed and exploratory experience.
  • We have provided the opportunity to include a short poetry study in this unit. From reading some aloud or examining some literary elements in poetry to learning how to write a specific form of poetry and combining it with an art project.
  • There are a few writing suggestions included in the lesson plans to practice writing a fable based on the insect theme, and modeling and writing a personal narrative.
  • We even have a Video Suggestions list and Questions for Review as added bonuses.

This unit study is designed to allow you to use the daily lesson plans as they are, use some parts and not others, move parts around if you want, or exchange pieces that are in the plan with other ideas you like from the lists provided for you. It’s that EASY. You get to customize your plans to fit your child’s needs.

AND, there is so much here, you can keep going after 4 weeks or you can use this unit year after year and still not use everything in this unit. I have given you two different kinds of blank lesson planning forms to use so you can make your own plans in the way you feel most comfortable.

There are suggestions and directions to guide you in using Charlotte Mason’s methods in your homeschool and how to use those methods when studying Insects with this unit study.

I am so excited to share this with you! This has been on my heart for 15 years but life always got in the way with one thing or another. But I was really pushed into doing this now before my oldest gets too old for all of us to enjoy these activities together.

I hope you will enjoy the time spent together with these quality readings and activities with your family and really digging into homeschooling the Charlotte Mason Way without the worries and stress of pulling materials together!

If you have any questions, please email me at katieshomeschoolcottage@yahoo.com and I will be glad to answer them. If you have any topics you would like to see developed, email that to me too! I’m always looking for ideas!

Order your Insects: A Unit Study using the Charlotte Mason Method and More now before the Insect season and school year are over!

We are offering this unit at a special introductory price of $9.95, normally offered at $14.95!

Click on the Add to Cart link below the ebook picture and you will be taken to paypal to complete your purchase. Then you will have directions to automatically download your item.

Insects: A Unit Study using the Charlotte Mason Method and More

Insects: A Unit Study using the Charlotte Mason Method and More

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Remember, we have links to the Free Online Libraries on our website under Free Online Books and we have our own Unit Study Resource Store where you can browse the titles suggested in the unit’s Living Books list to look at their descriptions or to purchase. Just look for them under the heading Insect Unit Study and click to open that store.
Thank you! We really appreciate your business! Please let us know what you think! We want to know!

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Now, here is a mini unit study about Insects as a free gift to you to celebrate this goal I’ve had for 15 years!

To start off your unit with Insects, a couple of online books in Charlotte Mason style worth looking at and using for narration, copywork, and dictation would be The Insect Folk for little ones up to fourth grade and Insect Adventures for upper level grades.

Some useful readers for younger children would include Christian Liberty Press’ Nature Readers. These are great! If you want to read some fun and quality picture books, try Eric Carle books with all the different kinds of insects who live in them – like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. That’s a great book for looking at metamorphosis as well as beginning counting skills and days of the week for those preschoolers listening in.

A great book for the older kids that I found at my library and is a one of a kind is DK Google e.guides: Insect. This is a great general resource packed with information and online links just about insects.

Let C.P. Ant teach you about insects at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/insects/index.html. This is a fun site with a teacher’s guide.

A fun outdoor activity to try and soon would be planting free sunflower seeds in your garden to attract some bumble bees and then participate in a bee count here  http://www.greatsunflower.org/. Sign up soon so you can be part of this activity.

Something we do every year which we never grow tired of is ordering caterpillars to watch while they grow into butterflies. We keep an observational journal and mark down any changes we see from day to day. We label our pictures with the appropriate terms during the metamorphosis. We have a ceremony to release them into our garden and take pictures as they fly off.

To have a fun snack during your unit, try ants on a log or create some of your own bugs out of twinkie snacks or moon pies!

A great set of lapbooks and other resources to tie into your reading and writing can be found here http://www.homeschoolshare.com/connections__insects.php.

Remember to get outside for that nature study, observe your surroundings, and draw what interests you. My younger son only showed signs of any interest in writing when we would go for our nature walks and he drew something that caught his attention. Afterward, he wanted to write the name of it underneath his picture. He would practice sounding out the word and write the letters in his journal. Until that moment, he resisted holding any kind of writing instrument!

Well, that’s it for now! Get outside and enjoy that sunshine and beautiful weather. We had balmy breezes of 60 today!

Thank You for Taking my Survey and an Exciting Announcement!

Thank you for taking my survey! It is still open if you wish to take it! The results have been very interesting and I will be sharing them over time as I continue to receive more responses!

Well, it’s finished and I’m so excited! I’ve completed my full first unit study and it will be for sale shortly! The title is Insects: A Unit Study using the Charlotte Mason Method and More. After beginning using Charlotte Mason methods in my own homeschool, I know I would get somewhat discouraged and overwhelmed by the time and effort it took to compile book lists, copywork, notebooking pages that would look nice, maybe some activities to throw in some hands on time for my two boys, and dictation all around a topic we wanted to study. Although I love the book lists and ideas at other sites, I found I needed something to organize me, my thoughts, my plans, and my sons so I could see a clear path we would follow for chunks of time. Reading a couple of chapters here and there from one year to the next or across periods of months intermixed with other chapters of books we had going simultaneously got rather confusing for us and me. I guess I don’t have the ability to compartmentalize all that information at once that some people do. I have friends who love having all those books going at once, but it boggles my mind.

Liking the idea of trying to pull in different skills and connections at one time, as a constant multitasker, centered around one time period or topic of study, I’ve always liked putting things together in units. My boys love coming across the connections themselves and find it exciting to see ideas come together and cross over. They feel proud of themselves for making those connections and it more firmly cements new studies in their minds when this spark happens for them.

So! I decided to start putting all of these pieces together in one unit! I chose the topic of insects (2 boys – how could I not) since we haven’t really done an in depth look at them yet and after waiting quite awhile for winter to leave our rural area in the north (being former southerners), we need to go outside and explore (which is something we love to do best.)

I will be posting more details about what this unit specifically contains when it is available for sale. I will tell you it has everything in it to use Charlotte Mason’s methods and more! It has enough in it so that you can teach this unit year after year and not use anything in it twice except maybe the notebooking pages. It’s packed! And with this economy, I am trying to offer it at a reasonable price and still enable our family to homeschool as well.

The next title I have been working on is Nature Study, Nature Journaling, and Poetry! I am so excited about this one! Yes, it takes us back outside in the beautiful weather and lets us do what we love best even more! We have our field guides, nature journals, and pencils at the ready! But this time I am planning to do stuff with my boys that I’ve been really wanting to dig into, but life stuff always seemed to take up my time in the planning. So, I’ve been planning it and putting it together in another unit study. And really getting to that poetry I’ve been touching on but not taking the time to really get into!

Although, I didn’t know it when I began putting this together – this topic, Nature Study- was the number one item that most people wanted to know about when they took my survey. So, I hope this new unit study will prove to be very helpful to other homeschoolers and give them some fresh and exciting ideas, while saving them time and effort -so you can enjoy your kids and the learning process more! I know when I’m done soon with this unit, we are going to dive right in and end our school year with it with a bang!

Of course, I plan on posting mini unit studies for these topics on my site for free, just not 80 pages of it. If you would like to be kept posted about when this unit and others are available subscribe to our Katie’s Homeschool Cottage Newsletter.

Thank you for letting me share with you my excitement! Happy Spring, Everyone!

Oh, and please leave a comment if you have any unit studies you are looking for but haven’t seen and share this post with anyone you feel may benefit from it. Thanks! .
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