Don’t Teach Nature Lessons!

Nature walks should be somewhat spontaneous opportunities for discovery. Learn from my early homeschooling mistakes and DO NOT treat nature study like an outdoor class time — it kills the child’s natural curiosity and delight!  My older children eventually refused to participate in nature study.  Instead, look for ways to include regular weekly or daily outings in nature and provide some simple tools and methods to encourage your children to notice, explore, engage and enjoy nature.

Charlotte Mason bemoaned,

“We are awaking to the use of nature-knowledge, but how we spoil things by teaching them!” (Formation of Character, p. 396).

Of course mom, you can set a topic of focus and guide your students to look for something specific, but be sure to give them lots of opportunities to observe closely and carefully for themselves with a minimum of input from you.  May I suggest that the reference books are kept in your nature study bag to be used only when a child asks for additional information? Allow your child’s natural curiosity and let them study elements and objects “off-topic” and follow their lead!

“As soon as he is able to keep it himself, a nature-diary is a source of delight to a child.  Every day’s walk gives him something to enter …” (Vol 1, p.54-55)

Here are some of my Nature Study posts, practical tips and free downloads from my archives:

Our Theme for the Day and refreshed Daily Themes provides a simple visual reminder to include all the “extras” in our weeks such as Nature Study, Poetry, Fine Arts, Creative Writing, Geography and Science. 

Daily themes 2015

My three Smash This Nature Journals provide loads of fun, simple, unusual and unique nature journal prompts which inspire joyful nature experiences.  Order and print your Smash Nature Journals to encourage fabulous, fun nature activities!

Smash Nature Journals 123

Making time for nature study with free nature photo of the week chart and Ambleside Online Nature Study Schedule.

Free John Muir Nature Quotes & free Copywork pages include about 10 pages of John Muir quotes in either print or cursive using Charlotte Mason’s copywork & dictation principles.(Of course this is only for handwriting practice and not as part of the nature study lesson!)

How to create a Perpetual Nature Journal with explanations and links on how to create your own perpetual nature journal.

How to make a nature study bag and a sewing tutorial with simple ideas of what to include in a nature study bag.

How to create a Nature Study notice board or shelf and a post on how a simple Nature Tray provides a wonderful way to display the week’s nature finds for collection, further study and drawing in nature journals.

nature tray

John Muir Law encourages how to cultivate curiosity in nature study 3 ways.  He believes that the key to developing a closer connection with nature is by deliberately enhancing your powers of observation and wonder.  He says,Attention is what the fabric of love is made from.”  This post explains his method.

I trust that these ideas and suggestions inspire you to relax or upgrade your Nature Studies in your homeschooling!

All in grace, for grace, Nadene

Beatitudes Copywork Pages

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount contain His “Blessed are …” blessings called The Beatitudes, one of the most loved portions of the Gospel.

Jesus describes a character trait or action that is often not associated with blessedness. He then describes the reward or blessing of such people who follow God’s ways.

I have created these Beatitude Copywork pages which include a detailed discussion of Charlotte Mason’s Copywork approach, the full Beatitude Scripture followed by a copywork page for each verse with a personal response or interpretive writing prompts.

Charlotte Mason’s  Copywork lessons are power-packed and very naturally offer short lessons where the child can practice beautiful handwriting, develop correct grammar and improve spelling, increase vocabulary, and seamlessly teach good writing style.

More importantly, these Scripture Copywork lessons provide an opportunity for your child to learn, understand, memorize and make the Scriptures a meaningful personal part of their lives. (Read this post describing Copywork stages in detail.)

Back in 2010 I created a Beatitudes slide strip page to help memorize the scriptures.

The child inserts the 2 strips and slides them to match.


For greater mastery,  when the child knows the verses well, she can leave one strip out and memorize the missing part of each verse.

A great way to help memorize the scriptures.


For fun, I made a Matching Beatitudes Card Game.  Here 2 or more people can play “memory” with the Beatitudes cards.


Here are your  Free Beatitude pages ~

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

Blessings, Nadene

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John Muir Nature Quotes & free Copywork pages

Previously I introduced the famous naturalist John Muir.  Today I would love to share a wonderful collection of his beautiful and inspirational nature quotes.

Here are 15 of John Muir’s famous nature quotes  ~

I was struck by John Muir’s real passion and love for nature and the Creator which he expressed so beautifully in his quotes, all taken from AZ ~
I collected several short quotes, some slightly longer quotes, as well as several long quotes.  These would suit children from junior primary all the way to high school.

You can use these quotes ~

  • in your nature journalling
  • displayed in your nature study centre
  • copied or dictated for Copywork
  • for handwriting practice
  • for debate topics
  • as creative writing prompts
  • for nature causes and ideals

Here are your free downloads which include Charlotte Mason’s copywork & dictation principles, about 10 pages of quotes, as well as lined copywork pages ~

May these pages inspire you and your children in your nature journalling and handwriting practice.

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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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 ~




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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How to Join Cursive Font Letters

For years I have used ABC Cursive Plain Font for our Handwriting and Copywork pages, but I never knew how to adjust the font so that the letters join each other, until a reader kindly gave me this tip ~

“You can get the letters to join if you choose “Advanced” and then turn the “Kerning option” on!”

With a little Google search, I found very simple instructions and, once I followed the easy steps, each cursive letter smoothly joined the next letter!  Here’s a pdf. of the instructions ~ Joining letters ABC Cursive Plain Font

In MSWord ~

You can apply these kerning settings to any font which will narrow the space between letters, and with cursive fonts, the starting and finishing strokes will meet to form a seamless line.

Oh, my heart flutters with joy to see the  smooth, joined, flowing cursive lines!  I just LOVE the Internet and my kind readers who helps me learn more!


Blessings, Nadene
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Handwriting Free & Easy

What Works! 

Looking back over our homeschooling journey to graduation, I am grateful to recognise and promote some of the simple things that really worked!

You need NEVER buy a handwriting program to teach beautiful, functional handwriting.  I discovered a fantastic, simple method ~ and all my children have learnt to write cursive this way ~

Laminated handwriting charts and copywork

I created simple print and cursive handwriting charts.

I taught them the letter formation with simple demonstrations and oral step-by-step descriptions.  The kids spent 5 minutes daily tracing over the letters with a whiteboard marker and they learnt their letter formations within a week or so.  First the lower case, followed by upper case letters.  Finally combination of the upper case with its lower case partner.

Now, rather than spend a fortune on exercise books and tedious practice pages, we went straight on to copywork. We started with copying the memory verse for the week, or a sentence taken from a read aloud, or we simply used our Language Arts dictation as copywork.  I also made a whole selection of quotes from famous artists, or world leaders for older children ~ here are my free copywork pages. Once again, Charlotte Mason’s principles have worked!

They start by tracing over the letters on the laminated chart with a whiteboard marker and then work in pencil on nice wide-lined paper.  Draw a margin and start by drawing a head, body and tail (you’ll notice those little cats in the print chart) in the lines so that the child can see where to place and where to start each letter.

Read all my handwriting tips, step-by-step lesson ideas, relevant posts and free chart downloads ~ Handwriting Page, Print Handwriting, Cursive Handwriting

What they copy is not important at this stage because they are learning to master the physical, technical, fine motor work of handwriting.  The content just adds to the real purpose of writing.  Real sentences with capital letters, punctuation marks and words that convey meaning.

What is important is that this is functional handwriting.

It is real.

It is in context.

These factors are a wonderful motivation.  A young child is not merely filling exercise pages with patterns and repeated letters.  They are actually WRITING!  A young child can run and show dad a whole sentence that he wrote by himself!  What joy!

What is important is that you sit and watch the physical process and encourage your child as they learn.

  1. Look to make sure that they sit correctly.  For this short lesson, posture is vital!

    Booster cushions and feet supported

  2. Make sure that the seat height to table height is correct.  You may need to add a booster cushion or place a foot stool under swinging feet.  (Look at how I use a flexiband to support the legs and provide some movement stimulus.)
  3. See that they hold and grip the pencil correctly.  Train the right grip and reinforce with a soft rubber pencil grip if needs be.
  4. Use a suitable pencil – soft and yet sharp.
  5. Keep your lesson short and sweet.  It doesn’t matter how much is written, but how well each letter is formed.
  6. If your child is uncertain how to form the letter, pull the laminated chart closer and trace over the letter again before trying to write on paper.
  7. Repeat the same copywork daily.

Before long, maybe within a month or so, your child will simply refer to the chart for those odd letters they are unsure of, but they will be writing capital and lower case letters in the correct lines, with the correct size and shape as they do their copywork.  From this point on, they need to refine and polish their style.  I often asked my kids to put a star over their “best” or “favourite” letter or word.  Even on their worst days, (remember that fatigue, stress, illness affect handwriting) every child can still find one letter or word that came out right!

Finally let me encourage you to keep handwriting lessons to the copywork or dictation lessons.  Allow your child to develop their “own style” for narrations and other written work.  My eldest daughter had to forsake her totally perfect handwriting she used in all her work for a slightly looser, informal script when she reached high school.  She needed to work faster.  Her perfect handwriting slowed her down.  I don’t mind if my teens use print.  When it comes to formal assignments that need to marked by external markers, letters posted to real people, filling in official forms, etc., then neat, correct handwriting matters!

You can teach your child to write for free in short, simple lessons!

Please write and share your handwriting tips or ask questions in the comments below.


Hymn Copywork

Hymn copywork is an easy way to ~

  • learn hymn words
  • practice neat handwriting
  • meditate on new word’s meanings
  • express personal faith
  • practice short sweet writing lessons daily
  • memorize a weekly recitation
  • encourage personal response to hymns

Keeping short lessons in mind, try Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching neat handwriting ~

  1. Once your child knows how to form all his letters ( use a laminated handwriting chart for simple, easy lessons), let him transcribe/copy a line/ short section of the hymn each day
  2. Copy a verse each week until he has copied the hymn in full.
  3. Young children may manage just one line each day and complete a verse in the week
  4. Encourage your child to memorize the verse he copied ~ read it aloud daily and recite it at the end of the week.
  5. Discuss and look up new words, write meanings in their personal dictionary or hymn page (we use Jimmie’s Collage hymn pages).
  6. Encourage a personal response to the hymn.
  7. Play the hymn while the child writes out the verse.
  8. Write a personal response to the writing prompt for each hymn at the bottom of the page.

Our Hymn Schedule for 2012 covers 1 hymn for each month.

Here’s your free downloads ~

Blessings, Nadene

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Inspired by Nature ~ Famous Quotes Copywork Pages

About Nature Study, Charlotte Mason said,

“Let them once get touch with Nature, and a habit is formed which will be a source of delight through life.  We are all meant to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things.”  (Vol. 1, p. 61)

I created several Quotes about Nature Copywork pages.

These famous nature-inspired quotes are really beautiful.  Following every quote is a lined section and then a writing prompt.  These questions stimulate the child’s personal response to the quote.

My children keep several pages in their personal files and pull one out every day to copy beautifully.  Although this is independent work, I enjoy discussing the quotes and their responses.  I also sometimes ask them to make a star above their most “perfectly” written word, to reinforce beautiful handwriting practice.

These Nature-theme copywork pages will be a delightful addition to their nature notebooks.

Click on the headings below for your download:

Quotes Copywork Nature 2 per page ~

  • Nature quotes for younger to middle school children with 2 copywork selections per page.
  • These are fairly short and relatively easy to understand.
  • A small picture adds a nature touch to each page.
  • 9 page pdf download for 18 copywork selections.

Quotes Nature Copywork full page ~

  • A single, slightly longer nature quote on a full page  for older to high school children.
  • Deeper and more personal writing prompts.
  • Simple, but elegant page border creates a lovely finish.
  • 22 page pdf download (so please be patient.)

(Most of my quotes were found on

Go to my Copywork pages for more free copywork pages.

Check yesterday’s post for more links on handwriting and copywork.

Our Latest Copywork And Dictation Pages

We use Sonlight’s Language Arts and they offer weekly dictation and copywork selections from their readers.

Sonlight's Copywork page

Copywork is the basic starting point to teach both handwriting and enrich  language studies.  Just by copying good written examples, they learn spelling, grammar and style.

Dictation is the next phase in encouraging children to memorize the spelling and the sentences as they copy them during the week.  Ultimately, our children need to improve these skills until they can write the entire passage without any help or peeping!

Because the Sonlight worksheets are in print and I want my children to practice cursive handwriting, I have printed out my beginner cursive writer’s selections in our favourite style cursive on primary lined paper.

Chosing a handwriting style is very personal.  It is always best to start with basic general style and allow the child to develop his/her own flair as they mature.

We have 2 font styles we like:

I  prefer the ABC Cursive font because it is the exact style our South African schools use and I used this style for our laminated handwriting charts.

ABC Cursive copywork

My daughter prefers the loopy, more upright style of the Cursif font.  We correct basic upper case letter differences and our ‘r’s.  I don’t mind the slight differences as long as she writes neatly and carefully when she copies her work.

Cursif Copywork

You may download the copywork pages for Reading with Easy Readers:

Copywork Dictation with Easy Readers ~ with ABC Cursive Font

Copywork Dictation Easy Readers Cursif ~ using the upright, loopy Cursif Font

More Practical Pages on Copywork and Handwriting:

Print your own primary lined pages for spelling and other writing.

Read about our laminated handwriting charts

Read about how to add your own fonts on to you computer.

Teaching print handwriting step-by-step

Free Booklet  on Handwriting Tips

Go to my Copywork pages for more free copywork pages.

I will upload my middle school child’s Nature Quotes Copywork pages very soon!