Charlotte Mason Approach - Language Arts (photos)

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)
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Charlotte Mason Approach - Language Arts (photos)

Unread post by TurnOurHearts » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:05 pm

CM approach to LA ~ LOVE IT!

When we began our journey with MFW, we went with all their suggestions as a trial run. If there was something that didn't work for one of our children, we still had options, but we'd go that route to begin, since they knew more about educating than we did. ;)

Fast forward a few years now. We have finished PLL, which we have loved, and will continue next year with ILL. Today, I saw an example of my son's growth in the area of LA, and I wanted to share it with anyone who may have doubts about the effectiveness of teaching LA by the Charlotte Mason approach.

In our final activity for our study of Antarctica, I asked the children to create their own flag of Antarctica, as it doesn't have one (from Another Trip Around the World). I asked them to think about all the flags we've colored this year ~ how all of them have the colors & symbols they do for a reason. The stars have a meaning, the stripes & colors have a meaning. They were asked to design their flags & then tell why they chose as they did. For Halle, it was an oral assignment; for Max, he wrote his on the back of his flag, just as he's done for all the others this year. Here is what he wrote (without my help):

"The blue stripes represent all the water around Antarctica. The white stripes represent all the snow and ice on and around Antarctica. The star stands for Antarctica being one continent to itself. The penguin stands for Antarctica having the most penguins in the world."

Now, I'm sure there are things that could be stated better in some way, but he did this without help (other than me helping him spell 'represent'). He has no idea about 'proper sentence structure,' but he has copied & read good literature, done dictation & narration of good literature, and I think that is a GOOD paragraph for a 3rd grader!!!! And especially from a MATH KID!!! I am so pleased & I just wanted to SHARE!!!! :D

(sorry if I'm going overboard, but this is GOOD STUFF!!!)
Last edited by TurnOurHearts on Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread post by TammyB » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:25 pm

That is awesome, Paige!

I had a similar experience with Chandler's end-of-second grade test. The tester asked him to write a few sentences (I don't know what the topic was.) and then evaluated his work based on sentence structure, content, detail, etc.

I had no idea he was going to have to do that. Thank God. Really. I would have been completely undone.

He happily wrote the senteces and scored way above grade level.

The tester (a phd college professor) was impressed.

I was shocked.

The tester told me, "Whatever you have been doing...It is working....Don't change a thing."

The next day I went to convention satisfied that all "the pieces" were in place. That was awesome!

Congrats to Max! He did a fantastic job! (I had seventh graders in ps who couldn't write that well.)


Cyndi (AZ)
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Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:41 pm

Wow! You have just convinced me to go with PLL, Paige! I was in that same initial boat as you - I should just order it and try it because they're the experts, not me - but I really had misgivings about it. What about grammar? What about diagramming? How is she going to learn proper sentence structure? That all really can be taught in the same way they are taught to speak - by copying, and it apparently works very well!

You are not going overboard. I can't thank you enough for that post!
2018/19: US1877
used MFW from K through WHL


Unread post by TurnOurHearts » Fri Jun 20, 2008 3:42 pm

Thanks, everybody ~ it is so awesome to be able to come here & share the trials AND the joys of homeschooling! You are awesome!! I'm glad this was helpful for some of you ~ I hope you will enjoy it as much as we have. :) Q ~ thank you for popping some buttons with me! :D You guys ROCK!!!!

Here are a couple of photos from this activity:

Max's flag & description ~


Halle's flag (with her oral description below...) ~
Per Halle: "The blue stripes are for all the water & ice, the penguin is because there's tons & tons of penguins. There are 8 stars because they're pretty, and there's a moon because it's dark there a lot in winter. The yellow stripes don't have a reason. Oh, and mine is a Macaroni penguin, Mommy." Not bad for a 1st grader, huh? :D

*bends to pick up popped buttons*

Thanks again, y'all!

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Unread post by SuzanneK » Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:01 pm

Paige ~
Thank you so much for your wonderful post and photos! I had been on the fence about PLL and your post and Crystals emails have really helped me see what a wise choice it is.
The Hazell's really have a great curriculum pulled together here!
God bless ~
God bless ~
Happily married to Bob (almost 13 years!)
Mom to DS, 7, and DS 6
Getting ready to start Adventures!

My blog:


Writing - Teaching the CM way

Unread post by cbollin » Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:56 am

baileymom wrote:I have been reading Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola and she suggests using narration as a means to teach writing/composition. In 1st - 3rd oral, then 4th on written. This along with the occasional composition exercise, reading good literature books and starting grammar at grade 4 is enough.

My girls journal almost every night, write 2-3 letters a week (we live away from family), and are very excited to share what they are reading with me or my dh (orally), and they each do PLL or ILL. They will also each, on a rare occasion, just write a story out of the blue, and bring it to me to show off...

Does anyone else do this? Isn't this enough without adding Writing Strands right now?
The one thing in my mind is to check for progress in skills of writing.

If you have WS 3, and but don't really want to use the assignments because you realize how much other writing they are doing, I have some ideas tossing in the back of my mind....

*look at the back of the book where it lists Common Problems. (p. 68-76) Check that your kids are working toward not doing those problems.

*go through the book and look on the bottom of the pages for the Hints boxes and use those for things to encourage your children to work on in anything that they are writing and needing to improve.

*make sure you're helping them to form a good paragraph, reports.

Lots of times, I'll look at the big picture goal of an exercise in WS 3 and then even in 4 we did it this way too and apply some of it to something that my daughter already wrote. She wrote this really long fan fiction story this summer. She's been known to read an assignment in WS and say if I used my chapter 13 on my story, I can just rewrite that section. It works for me from time to time.


Julie in MN
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Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Oct 02, 2008 11:17 am

Writing Strands is valuable to me as a tool because it teaches some of the things that my kids don't pick up by just writing. Things like:

* First person vs. third person
* Past tense vs. present tense
* Omniscient narrator vs. limited point of view
* The power of the author's opinion in influencing the reader to like it vs. dislike something
* etc.

Now in 4th grade, I don't think all of these types of skills need to be mastered! But maybe you can intentionally assign her to work on certain skills on certain days. (i.e. Assigning beforehand is better than pointing out things after they have already produced a masterpiece :o)
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

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Re: Teaching Writing the CM Way

Unread post by Lucy » Thu Oct 02, 2008 1:11 pm

Just chiming in to agree with the others that W.S. gives the directed writing instruction that kids are usually ready for about 4th grade. I you feel that your 4th grader is not ready just yet, wait one more year.

I found it interesting that all of the C.M. suggestions from Andreola are already incorporated into MFW. MFW just adds W.S. to round out the writing instruction. This is why it is only used 2 days a week since writing is being done in so many other ways.

wife to Lee and mom to Twila 18 (girl) and Noel 16(boy). Happy MFW user since 2002.

Julie in MN
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ILL lessons not "short" - How does that fit in with CM?

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:38 pm

JoyfulDancer wrote:I have a question about using ILL in a Charlotte Mason context. Charlotte Mason, and MFW, encourage using short lessons in several subjects. However, most of the ILL lessons can get really long, especially for the 6th grader. How does that fit in with CM and short lessons? Are we doing something wrong?

Hi Laurie,
I should get out my ILL book before I answer, but I'm taking the lazy route tonight.

First, here are a couple of experiences teaching ILL/PLL with more than one child (an experience I don't have): ... 127#p40127

And then I just wanted to respond that ILL is a tool and we used it in a very CM way at our house. But it was indeed written for classroom teachers around 1900, so some might have needed busywork to keep dozens of children busy with lessons (on a slate?!). But I would guess that others just picked and chose lessons or parts of lessons as they saw a need.

Even in the homeschool world, we all use the same tool in different ways. For instance on this thread, you can see many instances where Crystal and I often share totally different ways we approached the same lessons: ... 5683#p5683
And at your house, "homeschool" may look more like the schoolhouse that Emma Serl wrote for. But just remember that even those group teachers adapted and combined.

We attended a couple of "one room schoolhouse" field trips, and the teacher did a lot as a group, where different kids answered different questions (and no one had to answer "all" of them) and where she asked a few questions for each grade level, and none of them heard all of their "own level" of questions but they all probably learned from each other's lessons -- like they probably do at your house.

I hope you get some more specific techniques, but this is just a chatty reply. And remember that in 7th, the MFW plan takes a definite step up in developing independence (tho our children won't all change on the first day, I warn you!).

Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Julie in MN
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Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
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Purpose for Progeny Press (or other) Literature Guides

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:31 pm

happy2bmommyof3 wrote:Hi! I am excited to be switching over to My Father's World next year. I have been using a mish mash of curriculum for a long time, mostly Charlotte Mason style, and I have come to understand from that side of the camp (if my understanding is correct), that Literature Guides are unnecessary. I have heard that it drains the enjoyment of reading from the child and that reading and narration are sufficient.

I know that my 7th grader is recommended to use a Progeny Press literature guide with two chosen books during the year, and I do trust MFW with their planning and recommendations. Please know that I am not against using the guides, I just would like to know what specific benefit they bring.

Could someone please help to explain it to me? Thank you so much!
You know, I think Marie Hazell would agree with you - answering tedious questions on every book will drain the life out of reading. And MFW likes to call grades 2-8 the "learning to love to read" stage.

However. for 2 books in 7th grade and 2 books in 8th, MFW encourages a literature guide in order to check on and perhaps build some additional skills. Those skills would generally be about absorbing a book's meaning at a deeper level, and slowly building vocab & comprehension at higher levels before high school.

For instance, my son's first Progeny Press guide in 7th was Maniac Magee. Without the guide, he would have told me that the book was about a boy who went here and went there. Maybe not all boys, and even fewer girls, would be that basic, but some of them will be. He is. That is literally all he gets out of a book on his own. So the guide helped him see a few underlying themes about things like prejudices, and maybe a technique or two used by the author, like foreshadowing or alliteration, I don't remember. The guide also made sure he was catching details, and he was absorbing some new vocab. And he was beginning to do these things in his reading on his own, rather than just when I pried it out of him.

All of those things could have been skipped over and I might not have even realized it, because my son still read the book. Or, I could have read the book and we could have had some in-depth discussion, with me checking on whether he understood vocab I knew he might skip over, or whether he had thought about deeper meanings. The guides just made it easier on me :) and reminded me of a few things I might have forgotten to bring up.

Does that help?
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

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Re: Purpose for Progeny Press (or other) Literature Guides

Unread post by happy2bmommyof3 » Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:16 pm

Thank you for your reply! That makes great sense to me. I chose to go with MFW at this point in our homeschooling so that she will be better prepared for those upper levels. I wasn't sure how to give her that on my own and am deeply grateful for this curriculum which will continue to instill in her a Biblical Worldview while it takes the planning out of my hands thus relieving a great burden on my shoulders. Thank you for explaining how these guides fit into that plan!

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