Mom’s Nature Journal Beach Walk

Recently we walked along the pristine Witsand beach at the Breede River estuary at low tide. There was so much to notice and, although I didn’t bring my phone along to take photos, I made detailed mental notes as we walked.

I noticed the shells, the seagrass, seagull feathers, patterns in the sand, patterns of floating sand particles in the little water ripples, algae growing on exposed rocks, holes in the sand, whelk shell patterns, twigs and driftwood.  At times, as I looked carefully, the patterns looked like abstract art. It was beautiful.

When we got home, I sat quietly and created a double-page spread of our beach walk in my nature journal ~I enjoyed creating the sand ripple patterns as well as the detailed sketches of shells and seagrass.On the other page, I added a boxed area to show the floating sand patterns which I saw in the shallow pools, as well as adding detailed pen sketches of the seagull feathers.


Nature journaling brought back wonderful memories of our lovely long walk on the low tide seashore.

Recently I shared my discovery of Lara Gastiger’s botanical art.  She has created a perpetual nature journal and adds to the monthly pages each year.  What a wonderful way of creating layers and details to double-page spreads.  This way, there is no pressure to fill up a whole page, but to simply sketch a detailed entry in a space and that’s it!

If you need some journaling ideas, I encourage you, moms, to join Barb’s of Handbook of Nature Study’s  Outdoor Mom Journal nature journal prompts each month:

  • The most inspiring thing we experienced was…
  • Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…
  • In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting….
  • I added nature journal pages about….
  • I am reading…
  • I am dreaming about…
  • A photo I would like to share…

I love the simple joy of doing a monthly Mom’s Nature Journal entry.  Charlotte Mason calls it “Mother Culture“ and it is a wonderful way of learning and growing along with our children.  It is also an activity that can extend long past these busy homeschooling years to become part of your own personal creative and observational life!

Happy nature journaling!

Blessings, Nadene
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Living Books Teach!

Many new homeschool parents think a Charlotte Mason’s approach to education seems too simple!  

Read a good book aloud.

Talk about what you have read.

Lesson learned.

This is a Charlotte Mason principle in a nutshell – Read from a living book, give a narration, and you have a wonderful, wholesome education.  Read my posts – Loving Living Books  and Learning through Living Books

So why do new homeschool parents still believe that they have to buy expensive, bell-and-whistles curriculums for their young kids?

They are afraid they won’t teach everything, or that their child won’t learn everything the should, or that they aren’t qualified.   But in truth, no professional curriculum guarantees complete success.  There will always be information gaps, but if you have taught your child to listen attentively while you read aloud to them, they will learn!

How does a baby learn?  From listening and speaking.  And so it is with a literature-based education. You really, really don’t need expensive teaching materials.  If you use literature as a powerful natural method, your children will learn.

While you read to your child from a good book, they listen to the words and learn and develop a wide, rich and mature vocabulary.  They listen to the story unfolding and learn how to structure sentences and develop a flow of connecting ideas, essential for writing skills.  They learn different styles of writing.  They learn how to create interest, describe observations in detail and will learn an amazing amount of information.

Telling back is very simple, yet complex, but it genuinely replaces the need for tests, quizzes or exams.  As you listen to your child narrate or read his narration, you will know immediately what your child knows and understands.

If your child is old enough, his written narrations will form his notes and provide ample evidence of his understanding, all the way to high school and beyond!  They will also develop the most amazing creative writing skills.

My older two daughters graduated from homeschool without ever taking a creative writing course, but they are both incredibly good writers because of the marvellous books that they read. Read the full post “Teach Creative Writing without Lessons“.

Sure, you may need a few workbooks for some subjects like Maths, but for almost every other subject, good books will serve for information, inspiration and motivation.

When your children all chorus, “Please read another chapter,” after you have finished the reading, you will experience the joy of the most wonderful, natural way of learning!

Trust Charlotte Mason’s method.  It truly works!  Please feel free to share your living books learning experiences in the comments.

Blessings, Nadene

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Recent Sketches

Recently I shared that I had started Sketching Again.  I decided to keep my Mom’s Nature Journal and sketchbook out on my desk as a visual reminder, and I try to spend about 20 minutes daily sketching and painting in time squeezed between folding laundry and preparing dinner.

I am using the Doodlewashed September “Simple Pleasures” prompts and here are my latest sketches ~

I was particularly happy how my first watercolour portrait came out, but I am not including the second portrait I did of my other daughter because it was so completely off that it would be a huge injustice to her if I posted it.  Portraits are really tricky!

I enjoyed creating all the details in “Popping bubble wrap” and felt good about the painting of the hands in “Rock., Paper, Scissors”.  The other paintings felt a bit “meh”, but I enjoyed the process and feel that I am learning as I go along.

It is important to just keep painting, experimenting, changing the approach or the medium.  If you are in a slump, just play.  Do abstracts.  Don’t worry about the end-results.  Just have fun!

For those who are keen to try sketching daily, why not join the rest of the world (really!) with Inktober  31 Days 31 Drawings.

I encourage you, moms, to also make the time to sit and sketch weekly.   Join your children in the weekly Sketch Tuesday topic, or sit and create an entry in your Mom’s nature journal page.  It is wonderful to give yourself time to sit and be creative.

Blessings, Nadene

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Sketching Again

Recently I shared that I had lost my inspiration and that somehow I had lost the joy in my sketching.  Truth be told, I actually hated my own recent art work.  Every attempt seemed so childish, colored-in and flat.  It wasn’t the lack of inspiration, but the lack of style.

I love pinning ideas and finding artists who inspire me on  Pinterest and Instagram posts.  There is an endless stream of amazing sketches and art, but the result of all this influence is not helpful to developing one’s own art.

You need to create your own art to find your own creative style. 

My 17-year-old daughter’s advice to me was to try a new art medium or technique.  This is very helpful, especially if you just play around without an end product in mind. I suppose recovering from lost art inspiration is a bit like horse riding after a fall; you need to get straight back up and ride again.   But in the end, finding art inspiration and personal style is like the Nike slogan ~ “Just do it“.

During a quiet spell this past weekend and this week, I pulled out my sketchbook, downloaded the Doodlewashed September “Simple Pleasures” prompts and began again.

My first attempts were not too bad, but I found that, as I sketched daily, I rediscovered something in my style that I liked, and the joy returned.  I loved the simple pleasure of sketching and painting.  I loved the quiet, right-brain activity.  And I enjoyed my art again.

While still finding my new artistic joy, I want to encourage you, moms, to also make the time to sit and sketch weekly.  You need times of creativity.  Join your children in the weekly Sketch Tuesday topic, or sit and create a nature journal page (prompts at the bottom of the post) each week.  It is so restorative.

Charlotte Mason called it “Mother Culture“; spending time learning and growing.  Spend regular time reading your own book list, creating art and journaling in nature; all part of your personal growth portfolio.

May I encourage you if you haven’t done any sketching for a while ~  Start again,  Just Do It!

Blessings, Nadene

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Famous Music Quotes Copywork Pages

Introducing new free Famous Music Quotes for Copywork ~

I have created a collection of 50 Famous Music Quotes copywork pages, in separate print and cursive downloads.   This bundle contains one Famous Music Quotation copywork sheet a week for a whole year!  

These copywork pages also include a personal response or interpretive writing prompts, offering you a power-packed application if you follow Charlotte Mason’s 3 copywork stages ~

I.  Copywork (Grades 1-2) is simply copying a passage ~

  • copy carefully & slowly,  practice beautiful handwriting in context, reinforces the habits of observation, best effort, and attention

II.  Transcription. (Grades 2-3) copying from memory ~ 

  • looks at/ studies the word in the passage, then writes it from memory, and double checking his spelling right away

III. Dictation (Grades 4–12) an advanced skill of writing out the prepared passage as the parent or teacher dictates it to him ~

  • The child studies the passage ahead of time, taking note of the spelling, punctuation and capitalizationParents dictate the passage phrase by phrase.

Here are your free Famous Music Copywork pages ~

Pop over to my Copywork Pages for all my other free downloads.

Blessings, Nadene

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Reminder ~ Free Sample

Just a quick reminder ~ Free sample for 5 lucky readers who comment on my  Narration Ideas Booklet post ! 

Five lucky readers who comment on my latest publication on Narration Ideas booklet  ~ filled with over 100 narration ideas to encourage dynamic and varied narrations; including lists of oral, written, artistic, drama, building and script writing narration ideas for creative options and alternative suggestions, as well as tipsoutlines and templates for specific applications, for every age and learning style ~ stand a chance to win the free sample booklet.

The free sample booklet contains complete lists for oral, written, artistic, drama, building and script writing narration ideas, as well as several useful templates

I will use a Free Online Random List generator to select the 5 lucky winners at the end of the week and the winners’ sample booklets will be on its way to you!

Pop over to my Packages Page to order your copy of this helpful booklet.

Blessings, Nadene
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Mix Structure with Freedom

What Works! 

Homeschooling, like all things in family life, requires balance.

Some folks love the carefree and loosey-goosey approach to homeschooling, while others perfect a strict routine and discipline with a school-at-home approach. Some folk wake and start school early, while others flow lazily into a relaxed, informal day.  Some families work in a classroom environment, while others love to learn everywhere, anytime.

Whatever your homeschooling approach is right now, it should fit your family lifestyle. I encourage you to find the way that works for you and your children in this season of your life.

If you’re a mom with lots of young children, then I encourage you to create a simple  predictable routine for their day.  Mix in free time for unstructured play and exploration.

Here are some of the main family events that should follow some form of predictable routine ~

  • Morning wake up, washing & dressing
  • Making beds
  • Breakfast
  • Start homeschool time – circle time or Bible story, songs & prayer
  • Short, sweet seat work lessons
  • Tea time and short outdoors play time
  • Core and read alouds and other schooling or learning
  • Lunch time
  • After lunch nap or quiet play
  • Free afternoons
  • Clean up & pack away toys from the day’s play
  • Bath time
  • Supper
  • Bedtime

Habit-training is a vital part of creating an easy, stress-free day.  Work on your routine, focusing on one aspect at a time for several weeks until this is established. (Start with the routine that causes you the most stress and frustration in your family.)  Once your children can cope with that routine, move on to focus on the next area that causes you the most stress.

Many new homeschool moms have very high ideals and expectations.  Most new homeschool moms struggle to maintain a formal, strict regimen every day, and they can easily burnout.  May I suggest that your homeschooling plays a minor role in your day when you are teaching young toddlers, pre-schoolers.  If you are working with multiple ages, focus on the most needy first and then focus on the rest.

Truth be told, you can’t do everything with every child every day!

Especially when children seem bored, frustrated or aimless, look to switching the rhythm and approach of your homeschooling.

  • Change the routine and start with subjects that you normally do later in the day.
  • Change your homeschool room or learn somewhere new/ outside/ at a library
  • Change your approach and make things fun
  • Switch to a new activity such as a lapbook or project instead of reading a read aloud that just doesn’t “fit” you or your kids.
  • Do drills or physical movements instead of seat work.  This works really well if a child is struggling with a subject like maths or spelling!  Rather do jumping or skipping or ball tossing or jump on a rebounder while doing skip-counting or times tables, spelling,  etc.
  • Leave the workbooks and find hands-on activities instead.

Charlotte Mason perfected this switch of rhythm with her principles ~

Structure and discipline (Seat work lessons)

  • Short, sweet lessons
  • Perfect / excellent quality work
  • Attentiveness and discipline
  • Memory work and copywork

Informal and unstructured approach (while still requiring focus and attention)

  • Narrations
  • Fine Arts
  • Poetry
  • Nature Study

I found that having one FREE DAY worked for our family.  Although I say “Free” it was rather an INFORMAL day where we focused on Fabulous Fine Arts Fridays.  These days made the rest of the week feel better and help prevent burnout and stress.

What works for your family?  Please share in the comments below.

Blessings as you find what works for your family, Nadene

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Narration Ideas Booklet

A Charlotte Mason Education is largely centered on a learning method called narration, or the “telling back” in the child’s own words what they have just heard or read.  

I have created a Narrations Ideas Booklet filled with over 100 narration ideas to encourage dynamic and varied narrations.  This booklet offers a list of over 100 creative options, alternative suggestions, tips, outlines and templates for every age and learning style.  (Free sample at the end of this post for 5 lucky readers who comment!)

What is Narration?

When a parent reads a short story, or a passage or chapter the child listens attentively.  Then the child retells the story or passage in his own words.  This skill, although seemingly simple and fairly natural, requires concentrated focus and attention from the child, and requires a complex range of learning skills.  

To form a narration a child needs to consider what he has heard, thinking how it applies to other ideas he already knows.  He then puts his thoughts into order, recalls details, mixes it with his opinion, and then forms those thoughts into coherent sentences and tells them to someone else – when real learning takes place.  Charlotte Mason called this The Act of Knowing.

Narrations are therefore complex activities, but amazingly can be practiced by pre-schoolers all the way to high school students.

Here are examples of some of the templates and ideas you can find in the FULL Narrations Ideas Booklet available on my Packages Page ~

Free sample booklet of Narration Ideas  for 5 lucky readers who comment! Fill in your comment and I will email you your download if your name is drawn.

Pop over to my Packages Page to purchase the complete booklet.

Wishing you many creative and dynamic narrations with your children.

Blessings, Nadene
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Nature Copywork Pages

Don’t your just love a bargain?  When an advert declares,

“And that’s not all … there’s more!  Included in this special offer we also give you …..  But, wait!  There is more …. you will also receive this amazing bonus of ….”

Well that’s how I felt when I discovered Charlotte Mason‘s Copywork.  Although her approach seems deceptively simple, it is power-packed with skills and range of difficulty that will teach, reinforce, strengthen and develop your child’s handwriting, spelling, vocabulary, grammar and writing style, all the way from Grade 1 to  high school graduation!

Charlotte Mason approached copywork in 3 stages ~

Copywork

Transcription

Dictation

Gently moving from one stage to the next as the child is ready, the child will very naturally learn beautiful handwriting, develop grammar and improve spelling, increase vocabulary, and seamlessly imitate good writing style.

Copywork (Grades 1-2) is simply copying a passage

  • Once a child has learnt to write each letter using my laminated handwriting charts, beginners begin to copy each sentence, done slowly and gently, with an emphasis on quality not quantity.
  • Careful copywork gives a child the opportunity to practice beautiful handwriting in context.
  • Copywork reinforces the habits of observation, best effort, and attention.
  • Lessons are kept short (5–10 minutes) and the goal is beautiful work.

Copywork leads to Transcription. (Grades 2-3) copying from memory ~

  • Once the student has mastered the mechanics of handwriting, he can start concentrating on the spelling of the passages he is copying. 
  • At this stage he looks at/ studies the word in the passage, then writes it from memory, and double checking his spelling right away.
  • Rather than copying letter for letter, he begins to write whole words from memory, working his way through the passage.

Dictation (Grades 4–12) is an advanced skill of writing out the prepared passage as the parent or teacher dictates it to him ~  

  • The child studies the passage ahead of time making sure he knows how to spell every word in it, taking note of the punctuation and capitalization.
  • Parents dictate the passage phrase by phrase.
  • Dictation cultivates the habit of looking at how words are spelled, reinforces correct punctuation and capitalization; sharpens listening comprehension; increases vocabulary through context; reinforces correct sentence structure; reinforces the habits of observation and attention. 

I have created a series of copywork pages, and updated my popular Nature Quotes with both print and cursive options.   The print version has new,  considerably shorter and easier quotes. These pages also include creative writing or interpretive writing prompts, offering you a power-packed application if you follow Ms Mason’s 3 methods.

Here are your free copywork pages ~

Pop over to my Copywork Pages for all my other free downloads.

I love Charlotte Mason’s simple, yet highly effective approach!

Blessings, Nadene
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Narration shows what your child knows

A new homeschool parent recently asked on Facebook,

How do you know what your child knows?

Charlotte Mason has a very simple method  that reveals what a child knows = narrations.

So how do you start with narrations?

Toddlers naturally retell their stories and nursery rhymes with accurate details.  Think of how they easily tell dad about their latest story or what they saw on their nature walk.  This is a narration.  Oral narrations are natural and, when practiced, form the basis for written narrations.
How then do you develop oral telling-back to written narrations?

Most young children find writing challenging and difficult.  Transition to dictated narrations where Mom writes or types out word-for-word what the child tells.  You act as their scribe.  Young children can illustrate a narration instead of “telling back”.   By and by, your preschooler will have a wonderful collection of dictated narrations in their own notebook.

Develop dictated narrations by writing out their narration using a light pencil, and ask your child to carefully trace over their narration.  Copywork is slow and difficult for children new to writing. Often they will grow weary after tracing over a few lines.  But, gradually, they can neatly copy their narration.

Older children enjoy typing on the computer as the spell check can highlight errors and they can type quicker than handwriting with a neat printout.

Use notebook pages ~

Little House Booklet notebook pages

These are printed pages with lines to assist young children space their handwriting.  Some notebook pages are decorated with borders, clip-art, headings and place for illustrations.  These pages give an incentive to write as the page provides some inspiration.  Young children find that the few sentences they write will quickly ‘fill up’ the lined area and they are less daunted by this than a large blank page.  Studies show that color and illustrations help with memory recall and the clip-art and photos or other visual layout on notebook pages assist them in remembering the information.

Pop over to download my free notebook and copywork pages.

Narrations inspire and expand a child’s vocabulary and instill good grammar without formal lessons. Narrations are far easier activities than fill-in-blanks lessons in workbooks, or memorizing facts from textbooks, or writing out tedious, long notes.  No more boring lessons!

Narrations are unique to each child.  Narrations reveal what each child personally connected with and remembered, and then expressed in their own style and individual character, while still remaining true to the original.

So using Charlotte Mason’s approach, your children will soon deliver the most accurate, detailed oral narrations.  Young children will tell back their story with interesting detail and imitation.  Their vocabulary and writing skills will naturally develop, and as they mature, your children will eventually fill their notebook pages revealing their amazing knowledge, writing skill and creativity.  Just take it slowly, encouraging your child to grow their skills.

With narrations you will easily know what your child knows!

Blessings, Nadene

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