Homeschooling With Charlotte Mason

Apr 27, 2011

The Charlotte Mason method has always appealed to me and, for many years, we have used it in some fashion. After trying to use a unit study for the past year, without much success, I have decided to return to our CM methods. I wanted to teach NG and IB together but it just isn't working out the way I had hoped. The AWOA unit study is great, but NG prefers a more self-paced method. We are also returning to workboxes because NG is a child of order and independence; he wants to see how much and what he needs to do and then be set free to do it. You may be wondering why I'm switching gears right at the end of the school year. Well, to be honest, we have fallen behind due to life circumstances, learning issues, and attitudes. Our My plan is to continue through the summer.

If you have been researching Charlotte Mason for any amount of time, you have probably come across Ambleside Online, an excellent introduction and free CM homeschool curriculum. I'll be using it to guide me. Two other popular CM sites are Simply Charlotte Mason and Charlotte Mason Help. The most difficult part of using the CM method is probably the planning and scheduling. I prefer to borrow other people's ideas and found samples of curriculum plans and schedules at Higher Up and Further In. We can also take advantage of Carol Hepburn's years of CM experience by utilizing her sample schedules and CM course planner.

Just like with anything else, I pick what works for me/us and build on that. I am not a strict CM follower. One of my favorite things about CM is short lessonsIf you have boys, you will understand. Another idea I like to incorporate is the formation of habit. Hopefully, by using these two concepts, we will be able to slowly undo the bad habits of "dawdling" and lack of attention that drain even my motivation.

Since we don't follow the public school's scope and sequence, NG feels out of the loop when talking with his public-schooled best friend, who likes American history {well, the wars, anyway}. So, besides the focus on literature, I like that CM includes national and world history at the same time. We'll be continuing with ancient Greece and adding early American to it. For ancient world history, my plan is to use A Child's Story of the World and The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia as our spines and adding living books, such as biographies and historical fiction to fill it in. For American history, Noah will be starting the History of US series by Joy Hakim. M1 read them and really enjoyed them. To help IB understand how events and people fit together, we may try this easy historical wall timeline. Now that NG is in the middle grades, I'm going to have him make a Book of Centuries using this template.

Think math doesn't fit into the Charlotte Mason method? This Squidoo lens has lots of ideas on how you can make math come alive for your early learner. And Penny Gardner provides an extensive list of living math books to supplement your regular math curriculum. I'm going to borrow a copy of Family Math from the library to see if it would be worth purchasing for our family. IB has really struggled with math and I think we need to drop the curriculum and focus on learning through games for a while. 

I've got science covered with Considering God's Creation. We had already started on the human body, so we'll continue with that. One area where I always fall short is with nature study.  Handbook of Nature Study is a homeschooling blog and home to the Outdoor Hour Challenge. Barb has ideas for keeping a nature journal and an archive of seasonal challenges. Her other site, Harmony Art Mom, is devoted to art and music study. {By the way, if you want to be inspired to give your children a Charlotte Mason education, read her post, Charlotte Mason Gave Our Homeschool Wings.} For art study, I also found the Metropolitan Museum of Art History's timeline. You can select art/artists from the period of history you are studying.

For those of you who want more information and like to flip through a real book, I suggest For the Children's SakeA Charlotte Mason Education, and More Charlotte Mason Education. My next homeschool book purchase will probably be the third edition of Educating the Whole Hearted Child, which is due to be released soon. (affiliate)

After a long season of burn-out that left me with brain fog and little motivation, I am finally finding my way back to normalcy. Making the decision to change directions with our curriculum has been energizing and given me hope. After a talk with NG today, I feel like he is ready for the change also. Time will tell.

Easy Toddler Activity

Apr 24, 2011

Have a toddler? If you do, or have had, then you know how easy it is to entertain them with simple repetitive activities and how much they like to put little things inside of baskets, boxes, VCRs, etc. Just a few days ago, I pulled a AA battery, a torn-up tissue, a crayon, and a magnet out of our VCR. Yes, we still have one but rarely use it. It's combined with our DVD player.

Do you have any empty baby wipes pop-up containers? Small blocks, little people, clothes pins...? Then you're all set for some toddler fun. If they are able to open the box on their own, it will give you at least 5-10 minutes of "sit down, check email, bathroom, take a deep breath & relax, sneak some chocolate, kissy-face with your husband, or fill-in-the-blank" time. Use it well.

Is It a Mango Allergy?

Apr 9, 2011

Did you know that the tropical fruit, mango, is in the same family as cashews and poison ivy? About a week or two ago, my mom called to tell me that she had read something about people who are allergic to poison ivy having a similar reaction to the skin of mangoes. She thought I'd like to know because our second son, NG, is very allergic to poison ivy. We found out a few years ago, when he was playing around with his older brother and M1 grabbed a handful of red leaves and stuffed them down NG's shirt. Did you know that poison ivy leaves turn red in early autumn? Well, I didn't and, apparently, neither did M1. NG broke out in a horrible rash over his whole upper body, neck, and face. His ears swelled. His eyes swelled. He was miserable. It wasn't a case of poison ivy you could treat at home, it called for a trip to the doctor.

Just this week, I bought some mangoes because they were on sale for 2/$1. NG had been checking them each day to see if they were ripe yet. Two days ago, he found that they were ready. He scored the skin, peeled off four sections of the skin, and nibbled the little chunks that were still attached to the skin. The next day, NG had a dry, patchy rash starting around his mouth. I assumed it was from dairy because he had been drinking milk consistently for the past week. But then, today I remembered what my mom had told me and did a little research online. After reading THIS, I am certain that the mango is what has caused NG's rash. Once we thought about it, we remembered that sometime in the past year, NG had a rash just like it while he was staying at my mom's. It started around his mouth and then made two paths on each side of his nose straight up to his eyes. But we cannot remember if he had eaten any mangoes during that time. We just assumed that it was allergic eczema then also. NG was not pleased to learn that his favorite fruit was causing his skin rash. What I've read indicates that it is the skin, not the flesh, that contains the irritating oil, urushiol, so NG should be able to continue eating mangoes. Needless to say, NG will no longer be peeling them. 

Wordless Wednesday #11 - Has Anyone Seen the Baby?

Apr 5, 2011

One week in the life of a 13 month old boy.

Why I Love Coconut Oil

Apr 4, 2011

Nutiva Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 54-Ounce Containers (Pack of 2)A couple of years ago, I read about the nourishing qualities of extra-virgin coconut oil and bought my first small jar from a health food store. Now I'm buying 54-ounce jars and using it for several things, from cooking and baking to skin care. Just this week, I used it to make hard lotion bars and peanut butter oatmeal cookies. It does have a slight coconut flavor, so it is best for baking, although some people use it for cooking eggs and pan-frying. We also like to add a spoonful of coconut oil to our oatmeal, along with honey and cinnamon.

As far as skin care, you can use it straight from the jar for dry skin or as a massage oil or you can mix it with other natural ingredients to make things like diaper rash creamhair conditionerlip balmtoothpaste, and deodorant. There is also reason to believe that it can be used to treat some medical and nutritional issues, such as yeast infections and hypothyroidism.

"One of the good fats that comprises about 50% of coconut oil, is lauric acid. Lauric acid is a rare medium-chain fatty acid found in mother’s milk that supports healthy metabolism and is now being studied for its anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial health-protecting properties." -

And it's not just good for humans. It has multiple benefits for dogs also. I plan on giving Ruben, our mini doxie, a very small amount each day to see if it helps with his scratching. He had fleas last summer and, although they are gone, he has continued to scratch like his skin is dry.

Tip: You can use Amazon's Subscribe & Save to get a two-pack of 54-ounce jars of Nutiva EVCO for a great price. If you don't need that much, order with a friend.

Update 4/29/11: Get a 54 oz. jar of Nutive EVCO at Vitacost for less than $22!

Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert, nor do I suggest believing everything you read on the internet.  Please be responsible and do your own research. This is not a sponsored post, I just happen to use Nutiva. The links are Amazon affiliate links, though.

Hard Lotion Bars

Apr 2, 2011

Before Christmas, I purchased the ingredients to make soap, hard lotion bars, and lip balm from Bramble Berry. Today, I finally got around to making the hard lotion bars from the MadeOn tutorial. It was very easy to do and the resulting bars make my skin feel silky smooth. We only have occasional skin issues in our family but I have read many reviews on the success people have using these lotion bars with eczema. NG has had infrequent bouts of eczema and M2 has had one so far.

I used 4 oz. each of shea butter and beeswax pellets and 5 oz. of coconut oil. The bars turned out solid but the surface begins to melt in your hand immediately, as it should. I'll probably be giving these in gift baskets for Mother's Day and for Christmas.


2011 Ultimate Blog Party

Apr 1, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011

Join us for the 2011 Ultimage Blog Party hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom! Since I have only been actively blogging since August, 2010, this will be my first Blog Party and I am looking forward to meeting lots of new bloggy friends. And there will be prizes too!

My name is Christy and this is our homeschooling family blog where you will find a little bit of everything including snippets from our daily life, curriculum and product reviews, recipes, and bits of wisdom I've learned along the way. With five boys ranging from nursing toddler to teenager, every day is an adventure. I admit that I struggle daily to find balance and am grateful that I can rely on God's grace every time I fall short. In a house full of men, this blog is my daily indulgence. A place where I can talk about random mom stuff and not have to shorten it down to two or three to-the-point sentences. A place where I can find others of like mind. A place where I can be me. I hope you'll find some things that interest you. Thanks for stopping by!
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