Child-led Learning Fits Charlotte Mason?

It seems that the Lord is really speaking to me about stepping out of my ‘teacher’ control mode, let go of my preconceived ideas and allow my child to make her own connections, direct her own learning and follow her own approach.

It started in November last year.  I was planning my youngest daughter’s new year of schooling.  I had prayed.  I had a few ideas lined up and my blank Overview Planner sheet on my clipboard.  I simply asked Miss. L11 what she would like to learn.  She enthusiastically requested that we do more Science, and she especially wanted to do experiments.  She asked to study Astronomy, do Nature Study, learn Geography, and participate in Sketch Tuesday. She selected the Bible study program and themes she wanted to do this year.  I had created an amazing Unit Study/ Lapbook/ activity pack for Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne which she was excited to start with me. (I can’t wait to share more with you all… but that will have to wait for another post! ) Around the World1

As we started our official homeschool lessons, I laid out her course materials and gave her a brief “bird’s-eye view” of each subject.  She was so thrilled that she jumped off her chair and ran to hug me.  “Thank you! Thank you, Mommy!” she kissed me.  I sat stunned by her response.

Now, several months later, we are having a blast!  She does her own Science experiments!  Sometimes 3 or 4 a day … sometimes every day!  I have had to scratch around for more books and ideas.  It is such fun!  Now and then I ask her to make “proper” scientific notebook notes, but mostly she enthusiastically tells me what she noticed and discovered. Science Experiments

In our Bible times, I have discovered that she enjoys preparing the lessons, like our Easter hands-on activities.Easter15

For Art, she  decides which painting she narrates, and which artwork and medium she paints.

Some days we do not have any tangible evidence of our lessons.  There are days with no notebook pages!  But, boy, we are learning!

Despite all my fun suggestions in the Around the World in 80 Days Unit Study, I noticed that my daughter became rather lack-luster.  She wanted to act out the story.  She had suggested this, but I had ignored her … yep, I’m still in control.  I wanted to do my activities.  When I finally agreed to let her act out a scene, we  had an incredible time!

  • We “climbed out of the steamer ship (we got off her bed where we sat reading in the sunshine)
  • clambered into a row-boat (sat in her rocking chair) and rowed to the quay (we had looked up this new word and listened to the correct pronunciation on my smart phone dictionary beforehand)
  • We maneuvered our way through the crowds on the wharfs (and she described all the characters and different people in the story who were “in our way”)
  • Finally we made it to the British Consulate (at the kitchen doorway) and we had our passports visaed (she pasted the stamps in the passport)

Our story had come alive — literally!

Working one-on-one with my child allows for any and every kind of creative flow.  It has made our school times absolutely amazing — way more than I could have invented!

I loved Celeste’s post –  “The Living Page :: How to Be an “Awakener and the mother’s role in “masterly inactivity”

Charlotte Mason says:

“‘Masterly Inactivity.’––A blessed thing in our mental constitution is, that once we receive an idea, it will work itself out, in thought and act, without much after-effort on our part; and, if we admit the idea of ‘masterly inactivity’ as a factor in education, we shall find ourselves framing our dealings with children from this standpoint, without much conscious effort.” (Volume 3, p. 28)

Celeste expounds, “So masterly inactivity is something the teacher does, not the student.  It’s a small but important distinction.  The teacher restrains herself and stands aside, letting the child make his own connections, form his own ideas, and progress toward self-education.  Outside of lessons, that means the teacher leaves the child to his own interests and play for part of the day; during lessons, the teacher makes a point of stepping back at times to let the child take possession of the ideas presented for himself.
She is not involved in the digestion of ideas; she doesn’t do the child’s mind-work for him.  She doesn’t force connections–she lets the student build his own.  She doesn’t coax, cajole, bribe, or use other methods of persuasion or suggestion.  She makes sure to let the child alone when necessary.  She doesn’t try to determine and guide every part of the student’s learning experience in order to get a particular result.  She must practice self-control to keep herself from intervening.”
It seems that unschooling in the sense of delight-directed, child-led learning is not such a frightful concept!  It fits the Charlotte Mason approach perfectly!  The more I learn as we go along this amazing homeschool journey, and the more I trust the Lord’s leading, the less it looks like school-at-home-taught-by-ex-school-teacher-mom … and it is wonderful!  For everyone!
I realize that I must simply facilitate my children.  I need to know their learning styles and strengths, and provide the necessary tools, mediums, methods, skills and opportunities for them to develop and discover in their own way.
Although I charter the course, set up the goals, create some of the activities, I need to allow my child to steer the ship, pull into unscheduled ports and scenic stops, spend longer here, and move on quicker there.  We may even toss stuff overboard that weighs us down!
Wishing you the very happiest letting-go!

Easter Pictures & Hands-on Activities

Here are some Easter hands-on activities inspiration ideas!

I wanted to involve my daughter fully in our Easter Bible readings.  She LOVES reading her comic-style Illustrated Bible Story New Testament book.  It is very visual and makes the stories “come alive”.  I wanted to add loads of hands-on activities. 

I created some Easter picture collages.  Easter12These are suitable for middle school children and contain some images that may not be suitable for young children.

Instead of me secretly preparing the lesson activities, I asked her to join me and gather all the objects we needed.  (Note to self: This is an amazing motivation!  She loved helping create the lessons with me!)  I wanted her to use all her senses and physically act out as many of the scriptures of Easter as we could.

These are the items we collected for each theme:

  • palm leaf – we were both surprised how huge the branch was!
  • perfume – perfume essence & spraying alcohol mixed in a bottle with cork and candles to seal the bottle
  • coins – in a little bag
  • wine & bread – for Last Supper and communion.  Matzos is unleavened, pierced bread.
  • bowl, water & towel – to wash feet
  • cock’s feather and sound recording of cock crowing
  • thorns twisted into a crown – rather painful job!
  • whip – a cat-of-nine tails with leather strips
  • purple cloak - purple cloth and sticks to make lots
  • hammer & nails – hammer into thick plank of wood
  • vinegar & sponge – taste the bitter vinegar
  • stone & cave – sealed with some clay

Some of our first activities were lovely.  Waving a long (taller than her very tall brother) beautiful palm branch and singing praise songs was wonderful.  Easter1

Making perfume and sealing the bottle with melted candle wax was soothing and it smelt delightful.  We acted out Mary’s act of worship; anointing Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair.  Intimate. Easter

We tasted the bread and wine.  The matzos bread is pierced and striped, just like Jesus’ whipped and pierced body.  The red wine reminded us of His blood.  Reverence and deep gratitude filled our hearts. Easter3

We washed one another’s feet. Just like Jesus did to His disciples. Humbling and so lovely. Easter10

Then things became tough.  Count out 30 pieces of silver, which was the price of a slave. Judas was mean.  While Mary broke the seal and poured out anointing oils worth a man’s whole years wages, Judas snatched up 30 silver coins.  Worship breaks open and pours out, selfishness takes for itself. Easter2

We went to our chicken coop and found a lovely long rooster feather.  The rooster strutted about with his hens.  Did we hear him crow?  Could we also betray our Lord?  Would we cry bitter tears?  Somber reflection. Easter4

And then the scenes with Jesus’ scourging.  Painful.  See the thorns in the leather?  A cat-of-nine has bone or stones tied to the leather strips to inflict greatest pain and injury.  Our minds reel.  Hear the whip as it snaps in the air … 39 times!  Exhausting.  How could Jesus survive?  Easter8

Thorns pricked us as we made the crown and really hurt!  Easter5

Hammering in nails into wood it a tough job.  Bang! Bang!  Imagine nailing through hands and feet?  How awful!  Our hearts ached. Easter9

We cast lots for the robe with our sticks.  If you win, you take the piece of cloth and feel its rich texture.  When I win, it is all mine. It is so easy to be callous and greedy, and all the while our Lord hangs, suffering. Collages1

Now Jesus cries out and someone gives Him vinegar.  Yech!  It tastes bitter.  No one can drink that stuff! Easter6

Finally we made a small tomb using a rock that had a cave-like shape.  We found a flat stone to fit in front.  Pressing some clay around the flat stone, we sealed the tomb. It is dark inside. Closed.  It is finished. Easter7

For families with younger children, I created simple Easter Flags. Easter14Each flag covers the same themes as the activities above, and young children can do many of the hands-on activities.  Be sensitive and adapt your lessons to suit your child’s age and temperament.  Your children can cut out, color-in and hang folded over ribbon as bunting.

Join us for your Easter Bible studies.  Here are your free downloads ~

Blessings in this Easter season,








Free Trial K5 Learning

I seldom promote products and have never done reviews, but an invitation to try K5 Learning caught my attention.


K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I’ve been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.

After receiving this invitation, I popped over to check out their website and I was very impressed.  Their demo videos looked so inviting and their approach and methodology seemed excellent.

My initial thoughts were that my youngest is already in grade 5 & 6 and up in most her subjects and that this might not fit into our homeschool schedule, but their Math Facts heading caught my eye and I thought that this would be worth doing the free trial.  They explain ~

“Learn math facts online and say goodbye to counting fingers”

“Recalling math facts efficiently is critical because it allows a student to study more advanced math topics without being bogged down by simple calculations.”

So, I hope to use K5 Learning with my youngest and trust that she will both enjoy and learn a lot more than she does with my Mental Maths fun worksheets and Bananagram spelling games.

For more information please go to  I will be back with my honest review in 6 weeks time.


Homeschool Infographic

HomeschoolingIt would be interesting to see South African homeschooling stats as compared to their government schooled counterparts …

Pop over to for other interesting infographics and homeschooling posts.

All in Grace,

Teaching 24 Hour Clock

My visual learner needed a 24 hour clock with colored indicators for am or pm and the 24 hour numbers.  She and I discussed how we could show the difference between daytime and nighttime on a clock and came up with this idea ~

24 hour clock

To start, begin inside the clock at 12 midnight. Follow around the thin blue circle until it becomes orange, indicating day time. Continue following around the thin inner orange circle until you reach 12 noon.  Now slide outside the clock continuing around the broad orange circle for the 24 hour daytime hours.  At 18 hours, the broad outer circle turns blue, indicating the start of nighttime.

Place this clock inside a plastic protector and use whiteboard markers to write the digital times and the matching clock hands. My youngest daughter and I enjoy taking turns in drawing the clock hands to show the times and writing digital times!

There are separate hour, minute and second hands which you could attach to the clock with a split pin.

Download and enjoy this middle school maths activity ~ 24 hour clock.

  • Khan Academy has fabulous maths video lessons and exercises to teach the time.
  • Maths is Fun has lovely clear images and explanations on clocks.
  • Maths includes lots of different times and clock games and activities.


DIY Folded Paper Boxes

My youngest daughter wanted to sort and classify her sea shell collection.  This was a great Nature Study and Science activity, but we needed several smallish boxes to store the different shell types.  She displayed her shell collection on our Nature Study tray.

6-Nature study1

We quickly made these paper boxes.

The nifty, practical aspects of these folded paper boxes are:

  • You can make them in different sizes … so they can nest in each other or form a top and a base to close your box!
  • The boxes can easily be stored flat, unfolded and ready for the next occasion.
  • You can use decorative craft paper or card stock for really pretty gift boxes or display boxes.

Here are the instructions and a free downloadFolded Paper Boxes

You will need:

  • square paper or card stock 28cm X 28cm
  • scissors
  • glue/ cellotape/ stapler

Fold your paper:

  • Fold the square horizontally in half & re-open.
  • Fold the square vertically in half & re-open.
  • Fold the bottom left corner and the top right corner to the center of the square, forming opposite triangles.Paper box 1
  • Fold both the newly made folds to the middle & re-open these folds.

Paper box 2

  • Cut along all 4 of the new fold lines, from the paper edge up to the edges of the triangles.Paper box 3
  • Take the top left corner and the bottom right corner and fold the corners into the center.Paper box 4
  • Fold again in half, so that the last fold is at the end of the cut lines.
  • Fold all 4 pointed strips to form folds in line with the 2 middle double folded pieces.Paper box 5

Assemble your paper box:

  • Fold the pointed flaps around the outside of the 2 center folds.
  • Insert the corners of the center folded piece into the diagonal fold of the flap. This part is a little fiddly, so mom, you may have to help here!Paper box 6
  • Tape/ glue or staple the outside overlapping flaps to the box.

Enjoy this craft project!