How to do Picture Study Lessons in your Homeschool

Picture study charlotte mason homeschool how to

Picture study is one of the easiest components of a Charlotte Mason education to incorporate into your homeschool curriculum. You do not need to know anything yourself about art, or art history. I repeat …You do NOT need to know ANYTHING about art or art history to begin. All you need is knowledge of the method and a few worthy resources.

Picture study charlotte mason homeschool how to

Why is Picture Study important?

In today’s society, the importance of the arts has been superseded by STEM and the other sciences. We have lost touch with the great artistic masters of past. Now, the masses only see fragments, distorted reproductions of the original genius of these men and women. For most of us, the only exposure we get to great art might be a coffee shop using the Mona Lisa in it’s logo, or a travel advert for Japan using a work of art by Hokusai.

Many of us will have heard of  Leonardo Da Vinci, or Claude Monet, and will have seen their art used in advertisements on billboards and the TV, but have little to draw upon from our own education.

Just as the great works of literature give us glimpses in the the mighty thoughts of the world’s great authors, so too picture study can give us insight into the ideas and minds of those artists. It puts children in touch with worthy ideas and inspires them with something more than modern life can offer.

” We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at a single picture.” – Charlotte Mason

 

charlotte mason picture study

Picture study offers our children a store of images in their mind, to balance out the media’s influence and attempt to monopolize their senses.

Picture study also:

  • Improves a child’s power of observation
  • Develop a sense of beauty
  • Connects them with an artist of a piece of art
  • Helps them to form opinion about art and their own taste in it
  • Encourages them to draw and be creative themselves

How to do Picture Study

From the ages of 6 to 15 Charlotte Mason recommended that children become acquainted with at least thirty of the world’s most famous artists.

I have filmed a short video, showing glimpses into our own Picture study lesson, in the hope that it will make what is written here clearer.

WATCH THIS VIDEO!

First begin by choosing the artist you wish them to study. In our first year, we began with Leonardo Da Vinci as it was easy to find the resources we needed, and I was slightly familiar with his work.

However, please remember, you do not need to know ANYTHING about the artist before you begin. In fact, it will only add to your enjoyment of this subject, as you find yourself learning alongside the children.

Examples of artists to study include:

  • Van Gogh
  • Claude Monet
  • Hokusai
  • Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Cezanne
  • Georgia O’Keeffe

The next step is to find six works of art by that artist for that school term, and studying three different artists per year.

Display one of those pieces in front of your children, and ask them to look at it closely, in silence. Allow them plenty of time to, not only absorb it, but to think and ponder over it. Then, when they are finished, hide the art from them and ask them to describe it.

Try your best not to prompt them with leading questions, like “What colour was her dress?” or “What was the weather like?” Just simply say, ” Tell me about it.” They will almost certainly not remember everything, but they don’t need to. By narrating in this way, they are performing a much higher thought process; of observing, processing, recalling and articulating those thoughts in their own words.

Muslim homeschool circle time
Artwork on display during school day

If you prompt too much, you are in danger of having your children become dependent on your questions, like we often see in school comprehension worksheets and multiple choice questions. Allow your children to think for themselves.

If your child is not used to narration, and is struggling to recall it or articulate his thoughts, then let him see the painting as he narrates. It is difficult skill to develop, so take it slow and try to keep the atmosphere joyful.

For older children, you can allow them to sketch from memory what they saw if they would like to.

Charlotte Mason picture study

 

 

The next step is to display that piece of art somewhere in your home so that the children can see it frequently through out their day.

The following week, repeat the process with the SAME piece of art. You will hopefully find that your children have more to say!

It can be helpful to tell the children a little about the artist or the painting before you begin. If the painting is about a story, it can be helpful to tell your children this story before you begin the picture study. Likewise, knowing a little more about the artist they are studying, will help them to form connections with him/her. Knowing more about the mind behind the art will encourage your children to look more closely at the work itself.

After 2 weeks, switch to another piece art by that same artist. In so doing, your child will some to  know at least 6 of the artist’s works each term. That’s an incredible achievement!

Picture Study Resources

For the art prints themselves, I would always recommend getting the largest prints you can find and display easily.

Postcards and images in art textbooks are often too small for multiple children to see at once, and inevitably loose the finer details.

We personally use wall calendars of a specific artist. These tend to be much cheaper than books, the prints are a good size, and they are easy to display on our kitchen wall. Here are a few examples of some we have used:

Georgia O’Keeffe

Hokusai

Claude Monet

Another option, is to look for larger “coffee-table books” on a specific artist. You can usually find some in your local library or on Amazon.

We have also used “Print Packs” from the Great Artist Collection. These contain a selection of six beautiful colour prints along with extensive information about the artist and his/her work:

Paul Cezanne UK USA

Vincent Van Gogh UK USA

Renoir UK USA

Claude Monet UK USA

 

The organsiation Simply Charlotte Mason also produces lovely Picture Study Portfolios that contains eight prints and a handbook.We have not tried these ourselves, but I have heard they are a excellent.

Children’s artist biographies can also be found at the library, but I would strongly recommend pre-reading these so you can omit the less-wholesome parts of the artist’s lives that young children do not need to know about. However, it may be worthwhile older children knowing the full picture, as these parts of their lives will have inevitably influenced their art, and will make for meaningful discussions with you.

Here are a few artist biographies, in the form of living books, that we have enjoyed with our young children:

  • Linnea in Monet’s Garden  UK USA
  • My name is is Georgia (O’Keeffe)  UK USA
  • Camille and the Sunflowers (Van Gough) UK USA
  • Cezanne and the Apple Boy UK USA
  • Leonardo and the Flying Boy UK USA

During their lesson, we use a wooden cookbook stand to hold the calendar or book.

From the age of fourteen, art history is incorporated into the Charlotte Mason curriculum, where children learn how the artist worldview would have influenced their art.

homeschool how to

The picture study lessons will take no more that 10-15 minutes a week, but the influence that they have will be lifelong. To be able to store “a couple of hundred pictures by great masters hanging permanently in the halls of [their] imagination” is a worthy endeavor.

Other useful Picture Study links

It you have any questions about picture study please leave them for me in the comments below.

Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog and read my thoughts on this topic.

Peace and Love,

Charlotte Mason Picture study how to

 

Wild Mammals: Living Books

Wild british mammals living books Charlotte Mason Homeschool

We recently wrapped up our nature study unit on wild mammals, and I realized that it may be useful to share some of the living books we used for it in our homeschool.

We follow the nature study rotation set out by Ambleside Online and it is these books that make up the nature lore, tales and nature study components of that Charlotte Mason education.

For more information on our Homeschool Curriculum Choices, CLICK HERE.

Wild british mammals living books Charlotte Mason Homeschool

This blog-post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see our Disclaimer.

To get a better feel for, and to see inside, these beautiful living books, watch the video below. It’s always useful to see inside  children’s books before you purchase, so please take the time to watch this video.

WATCH THIS VIDEO:

 

Wild Mammal Nature Study: Living Books

Below you will find a list of the books that I recommend for the study of wild mammals. Please note, you do not need to purchase them all!

Rather, just chose the ones that suit your family’s needs.

Britain’s Mammals: A Field Guide to the Mammals of Britain and Ireland

This book is part of the WILDGuides series, and I have been so impressed with the quality of this reference book, that I am looking to buy more in the series!

This reference book lays out very interesting facts about British mammals, alongside detailed scientific diagrams, charts, maps and stunning photography.

The information in this book was so extensive, that we did not need to look in any other reference book during the duration of our nature study unit.

To purchase this book, CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

 

Enid Blyton’s Nature Series

These delightful living books are a collection of stories featuring wild animals from the British Isles. The stories capture the child’s imagination and interest, whilst also teaching them important information about the species’ habitat, behaviour and other natural history.

There are three books in this series, and they cover wild animals from all the major animal kingdoms; including mammals, birds, reptiles,fish and amphibians. These books are suitable for children aged 5-8 years old.

Wild british mammals living books Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Country Tales:

Species covered include: Deer, Dormouse, Bat, Mole, Hedgehog, Blackbird, Rats, Stoats, Weasel, Rabbit, Robin, Bullfinch, Kingfisher, Moorhen, Eel, Toad.

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Hedgerow Tales:

Species covered:Rabbit, Hare, Hedgehog, Swallows, House Martins, Field vole, Water vole, Toad, Frog, Cuckoo

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Woodland Tales

Species covered: Fox, Badger, Adder, Grass snake, Nuthatch, Woodpecker, Spider, Sparrow, Red squirrel, Grey squirrel,Bumble-bee, Wasp, Otter.

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Wild british mammals living books Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Collins Animal Lives

This charming living books narrate the story on one specific species per book. They are aimed at older children, aged 8 -12 years old. Through their study, children will become intimately acquainted with the animal, and associated species, and it’s natural history.

There are five books in the series:

Talpa: The Story of a Mole

Amazon UK

Capreolus: The Story of a Roe Deer

Amazon UK

Vulpina: The Story of a Fox

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Sciurus: The Story of a Grey Squirrel

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Lutra: The Story of the Otter

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

For Friends in North America

For those of you homeschooling in USA or Canada, you can use the books I have mentioned previously, and make it relevant to your locality. In addition, I would also recommend the following books:

The Burgess Animal Book for Children

This is a collection of stories about animals in North America, and is widely used by many in the Charlotte Mason communities.

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Wild british mammals living books Charlotte Mason Homeschool

Handbook of Nature Study

This is an extensive collection of lesson plans, and information about the nature found in North America. It covers teaching nature study, animals, plants, and earth and sky.

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

 

Wild british mammals living books Charlotte Mason Homeschool

In addition to these books, I have heard that books by Arabella Buckley are excellent sources of Nature lore, although we have not yet read them ourselves.

I hope this list help you to select the best living books for your children, and makes nature study even more enjoyable for your homeschooling family.

If you have any further recommendations, please share them with us all in the comments below. I’m always looking out for new books!

Also, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them for me in the comments section below.

Peace and love,

EASY Ramadan Activities for children

Wild british mammals living books Charlotte Mason Homeschool

 

5 Easy Ramadan Activities for Children

Easy Ramadan Activities Toy Rotation

Ramadan is coming! Mothers everywhere are trying to find a way to create a meaningful and worthwhile Ramadan experience for their children. But honestly, it can be a little overwhelming! I’m here to tell you that you can create lasting and beautiful memories of Ramadan for your children with these easy and simple activities!

This blog post is sponsored by the Miraj Stories App, who allowed my family full access to the app and compensated me for my time.

Easy children activities for Ramadan

For many mothers, the lead up to Ramadan can be a little stressful. Whilst we are excited at the prospect of entering this blessed month, it can also be a time of worry and anxiety: Will I be able to fast? Will I have enough energy to take care of my children? Will I be able to cope?

On top of all of this, we are bombarded with images of Ramadan preparation on social media; amazing women who have hand-crafted beautiful decorations, Ramadan calendars, purchased baskets full of new books and toys for the month, cleaned their home top-to-bottom and already bought their Eid gifts!

For women, like me, who have not done many (or any) of these things it can be a little demoralizing. Before Ramadan even begins, you are left feeling like you’ve failed already.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you haven’t. Although this type of Ramadan preparation is useful and/or beautiful, it is not essential. You do not need to do any of those things to create a meaningful and worthwhile Ramadan experience for your children.

WATCH THIS VIDEO, to find out more! 

All you really need, is to be happy and present with your children during this coming month. Yes, you heard me! You only need to be happy and present with your children!

When you are joyful, and your fill your home with your positive energy, you are creating a joyful atmosphere within your home. When you are happy, they are happy.

Instead of over-exerting yourself with complicated crafts and children’s activities, I want you to instead start a new tradition. This Ramadan, I want your children to remember that joyful atmosphere; when mummy is always there, with us, smiling;  a time when she sat with us more, listened to us more, told us stories and played with us. These are the things that will leave them with a positive experience of Ramadan.

That is a happy Ramadan. That is the Ramadan tradition you want to create in your home.

And that is what its blog post is all about – Simple, easy activities that you can do with your children during Ramadan. These activities will not tire you whilst you’re fasting, they’re free (or cheap), and they can easily be done with things you already have in your home.

Instead of focusing on the final product, as most children’s activities seem to, these activities are centered around building connections with your children; creating deeper bonds and greater meaning to your family’s inner life.

Easy and Free Ramadan Activities

Quran Games

Ramadan is a perfect time for children to learn more about the Quran, memorise it and read it. But I want you to step away from the preconceived ideas you hold about what the study of Quran should look like. I want you, this Ramadan, to make it fun!

By playing simple games as a family, your child will want to read and memorise more Quran than ever before!

An example of such a game would have all players sitting in a circle, reading the same Surah. Each person takes a turn to read one ayat. When you the person reading says a certain word, or letter, or tajweed rule, the other players have to stand up! Alternatively, if its appropriate, you children could act out action when they hear in in a Surah, like “read” or “say”.

These kinds of games will have you children excited by the Quran, learning more Arabic, Tajweed and memorising as they play. To see how we play these games, WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Easy Ramadan Activities Quran Games

Be Household Partners

Fasting can take it toll on parents physically, making household tasks difficult at times. During Ramadan, encourage your children take on certain roles within the household. Instead of telling them that they “Have to do something now because you’re tired”, tell them that you are going to “let them help this month now that they older and more responsible.” The language we use is so powerful.

Although some children might complain a little (or a lot) at first, if presented to them well, these new roles will have them feeling valued and respected. Although they may not seem like much fun, these roles actually help to create feelings of belonging and validation in a child’s psyche.

If you can, chose activities that you will do together, such as cooking or cleaning up after a meal. By working together to prepare the food or tidy up, children will learn that they are an important part of the team. However tasks that they do completely independently are also valuable as they will help to boost their confidence.

Why not allow them to chose the menu for iftar from your cookery books, or have them make the rice or bread everyday. Although learning these skills is valuable, what is even more worthwhile, is the lesson that they’re learning: that you trust them with this task, and that you value them and their contribution.

Examples of household task could include:

  • Preparing, serving or clean up after meals
  • Washing, folding, or putting away laundry
  • Tidying up toys at the end of the day, hoovering or dusting

They’ll remember that Ramadan is a time when the family all pulls together and helps one another. Isn’t that such a perfect lesson for this blessed month?

You can watch how we implement a household partnership in THIS VIDEO.

Ramadan Toy Rotation

Although it can be lovely to buy new toys and books for Ramadan, to present to your children on the first day, many people are not in a situation where they can do that.

Instead, I would encourage you to implement a toy/book rotation system in your home. Before Ramadan begins, put some of the children’s toys out of sight (we hide ours in the attic). Then, when you bring them back out again on the first day of Ramadan, the children will be so excited. If you have enough toys, you could do a weekly rotation, putting away and bringing out “new” toys from your attic every week.

I would also recommend a basket of toys that is only allowed to be used during “quiet time”, and you’ll need to be quite strict about that! In my home, I hope to establish a “quiet time” in the late afternoon, when I start to feel tired and get headaches. Then I know, with this special basket of toys to entertain them, I’ll get some time to rest.

The great thing about restricting access to toys, and creating rotations, is that you do not need to buy anything, rather you are just making the most of what you already have.

Easy Ramadan Activities Toy Rotation

Children’s Prayer Corner

Once again, show your children that you respect them and their spiritual nature, by giving them their own prayer corner.

Turn a corner of your home into an inviting space for them to prayer. You can do this without the need to purchase anything. Use existing prayer mats or rugs in the corner. If you have it, use something to partially partition the space off, like a short bookcase, screen, or large basket, to physical separate the prayer space from the rest of the room.

Once again, as we talked about a household partnership, within their prayer corner the children should have roles. Let them decide who will be the Imam, who will call the Athaan, and who will keep the space tidy. Perhaps you will want to rotate the roles between them. Depending on the age of your children, they probably wont pray all the prayers, but aim for at least one each day for younger children. And I encourage you to join them in that space sometimes, but make sure you ask their permission first!

A similar idea that you may have seen online is setting up an itikaaf tent for the last ten days of Ramadan. In a simple play-tent, put out the children’s Islamic books, tasbeehs and anything else they may need, and give them the freedom to use that space as they see fit.

Easy Ramadan Activities for Children Prayer Corner

Use Digital Resources

There are an abundance of online resources and apps that are available on the market today. Many of them are free, or very inexpensive. I am of the opinion, that in moderation and supervision, screen-time can provide great benefits to your children.

My favourite is the Miraj Islamic Stories App. I have never seen anything like this app before…it’s amazing!

The app primarily aims to teach children Arabic, Quranic stories and Islamic morals.

A Free version of the app is available, but for all the features you would need to purchase it. It is available on for Apple and Android users. When you first launch the app, you are given the option of using it “Music-free” or “With music.”

It’s difficult to put an age range on this app, because it has something for children of every age!

Easy Ramadan Activities Miraj Stories App

Children of all ages will enjoy listening to the audiobooks, which are what made Miraj Stories (also called Miraj Audio) famous many years ago, and you can see why! They are undoubtedly the best producer of Islamic audiobooks on the market. The stories themselves are beautifully written, but the narration itself makes them captivating! We are currently listening to the story of “Ibrahim and the Fire” and it’s quickly becoming a family favourite!

Younger children will love the interactive books, where children take part in the story as it unfolds, and learn Arabic along the way! We are using the Arabic letter books with my 3 year-old daughter. Firstly the child traces over the letter, and then watches a short animated story centred around that letter. It’s adorable! There are also interactive books that teach children about the prayer and some of the 99 Names of Allah.

The video stories are delightful, the characters utterly charming, and they will have your kids laughing and learning so much as the go. These short videos are a great halal alternative to YouTube and similar apps.

The Miraj Stories app also gives you access to a range of picture books called the “Stories from the Quran.” These stories are narrated for you with lovely sound effects, but personally I prefer to turn the sound off and read them aloud to my children on the sofa or cuddled up in bed! In fact, your older children could even read the stories themselves. Either way, there as so much ways you could use these picture books in your home.

Easy Ramadan Activities Miraj Stories App

It is clear that the people behind the Miraj Islamic Stories app value children, and respect them, so much so that they have produced an incredibly high quality product for them. There’s nothing cheesy or tacky about this product!

It’s all about providing children with the best there is to offer. The illustrations and animations are beautifully hand-drawn, the interactive element is cleverly thought out, and the audio books are exceptionally well written and narrated.

Easy Ramadan Activities Miraj Stories App
Listening to an Audio-book over lunch

The whole app has been considered extremely well, and it is obvious from using it, that no expense has been spared in its development. It truly is the best of its kind.

I cannot recommend the Miraj Islamic Stories app enough! It’s phenomenal!

To find out more about the Miraj Islamic Stories app, CLICK HERE to visit the WEBSITE.

Do you have EASY Ramadan Activities that you do with your children?

Please share them with us in the comments below.

Wishing you all, and your family, a beautiful and blessed Ramadan.

Peace and Love,

EASY Ramadan Activities for children

Day in the Life | What Homeschooling is REALLY LIKE!

Let's Read by WordUnited

Watch this video and spend the day with us! See what home education in the UK really looks like for Our Muslim homeschool!

Home education simply means to educate your children outside of the mainstream school system. What that looks like for each family is different but for us, as it does for many others, it involves plenty of time outside, sports and activities with friends and formal studies at home.

To get a better idea of what Homeschooling looks like for us, Watch this YouTube video!

Watch how we teach Quran, our swimming classes, outdoor time and a heart-to-heart chat about “What homeschooling is REALLY like!”

 

This video and blog-post was sponsored by WordUnited, who kindly sent me their Arabic and Phonics programs, and compensated me for my time. This blog-post also contains affiliate links. See Disclaimer for more information.

Homeschool UK Vlog

WordUnited

WordUnited is an incredible website that stocks hundreds of high-quality educational resources for children aged 0-13. They have everything you can imagine on that site, from beautiful baby toys, resources for literacy, numeracy, science, special needs and even multicultural toys section! With hundreds of new products being added every week, WordUnited is set to become the next big thing!

Let's Read by WordUnited

WordUnited kindly sent me two sets of books to review; the “Let’s Read” program, which teaching children the foundations of phonics, and the “Let’s Read Arabic” program which teaches children how to read Arabic words.

Phonics books by WordUnited

Each set consists of eight books. As your child progresses through the program, they gradually increase in complexity and build upon lessons learnt in previous books.

Learning Phonics with WordUnited
I love visual cues under each word to highlight the different sounds!

The books are small and easy for young hands to hold, as well as colourful and engaging to to children. They illustrations feature realistic high-quality images of objects that children will be familiar with in their lives. I really appreciate how the creators of these books have used visual cues to highlight the individual sounds that make up each word.

Let's Read Arabic WordUnited

These books are ideal for home educators are they include parent guidance at the beginning of each book. This is really important to read as it clearly explains what is being covered and how to use that particular book effectively. I love it when a curriculum make it simple for parents!

Let's Read Arabic WordUnited

The books can be purchased individually, or as a complete set.

Let's Read Arabic WordUnited

To see my children using the books, WATCH THIS VIDEO.

Make sure you also visit their Amazing Website. You will be blown-away by the variety of products they have on offer!

CLICK HERE for the “Let’s Read Arabic!” 8-book set.

CLICK HERE for the “Let’s Read!” 8-book phonics set.

 

Other Products Mentioned:

Safar Qaidah (Indo-Pak Script)
Graded Steps in Quran Reading (Uthmani Script)
Digital Timer 
Audible 30 FREE TRIAL + 1 FREE AUDIO BOOK

Go Outdoors Store

If you are interested in seeing what homeschool curricula we are using with our children CLICK HERE!

Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to watch our YouTube video. I hope it’s left you feeling inspired and given you something to think about.

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

Please remember us in your duaas.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

Understood Betsy | Book Review

Understood Betsy Book Review

This book had me crying at almost every chapter!

We have just finished listening to “Understood Betsy” by Dorothy Canfield through our Audible subscription; and it is undoubtedly one of my favorite children’s books EVER! It makes a wonderful family read-aloud and is a part of our Charlotte Mason homeschool curriculum.

This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see Disclaimer for more information.

Understood Betsy Book Review

Understood Betsy Review

“Understood Betsy” is the story of a nervous orphaned girl who is forced to move from her comfortable life in the city, to live on a farm with relatives she has never met.
It deals with some difficult topics, like death, illness, abuse, poverty, in a gentle and sensitive way that will not upset young children. This book has sparked so many worthwhile conversations with my kids as we listened to it in the car.

As we went on this journey with Betsy, I was taught so much about what being a good parent means, and how to let go of control and trust in your children. It taught us the different ways to show love within a family and how to have integrity and good character in tough times…and so much more!

I don’t usually cry in movies or from books, but I cried almost every time we listened to this one..much to the amusement of my boys!

Truly a sign of great children’s book is that it can be enjoyed by adults, as well you children.

Use Audible in your Homeschool

We listened to this amazing work of Children’s literature as an Audiobook on Audible. If you sign up to their 30 day Free-Trial, you can get your first book for FREE; and you can even cancel the trial anytime!

We love using Audiobooks  in our homeschool, especially when we are driving the kids around to all their activities. It’s a fantastic way to make the most of our time in the car and learn on the go!

However, for those of your who would prefer the actual book, this is it!

“Understood Betsy” by Dorothy Canfield is suitable:
As a read-aloud – for children aged 6-12
For independent readers – for ages 9-12.

Seriously, I love this book.  I will be listening to it, and re-reading it in my own time insha’Allah. It is a classic that I hope you will consider for your family.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

Supplemental Homeschool Science Curriculum

homeschool science curriculum

Teaching science in your homeschool can be difficult without the right curriculum. You have to consider your child’s learning style, find ways in incorporate hands-on learning, coding, technology, and all within your budget!

Despite these difficulties, my kids love science and so I have been looking for ways to include more supplemental science into our homeschool curriculum without adding to much to my own workload!

We follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool, and so I was looking for something to supplement our existing curriculum.

I’m excited to share what I found!

homeschool science curriculum supplemental

This post is sponsored by Homeschool Buyers Co-op who compensated me for my time. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own, please see my Disclaimer for details.

Where can I find Science Homeschool Curriculum?

The Homeschool Buyers Co-op has an award-winning selection of science and technology products, including core science curriculum and supplements, coding and programming courses, hands-on experimentation, and more.

They offer Science & Technology curricula with savings up to 95%! Isn’t that incredible?!

homeschool science curriculum

Hands-on Experiments At Home!

Doing hands-on experiments at home can be a challenge for even to most seasoned homeschooler, especially as your children get older.

The Homeschool Buyers Co-op has an impressive range of science curricula specifically for hands-on learning!

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to me as a homeschooling mum to find these resources!

 

What about Technology and Coding?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember much about technology frim school, and I’m still not sure I know what coding is! Thank goodness there are homeschool curricula available to teach this for me.

The Homeschool Buyers Co-op offer a range of technology and coding curricula to chose from, all with significant savings too.

Online Homeschool Curriculum

If you’re like me and live outside the U.S. it can sometimes be frustrating to find homeschool curriculum. The great thing about Homeschool Buyers Co-op is that many of the curricula that they offer are online, so you don’t need to pay for International shipping!

Even if you do live in the U.S., an online Science curriculum is a great way to save money without compromising your child’s education.

homeschool science curriculum

So, if like me, you have been worried about how to teach Science in your homeschool, I would encourage to visit the Homeschool Buyers Co-op and see the choices they have on offer.

If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comment below.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

Nature Study Resources | BIRDS

Birds Nature study resources

We have just completed another term of nature study in our homeschool; this time focusing on British birds. Nature study is one of our most-loved subjects and part of our Charlotte Mason inspired homeschool curriculum.

Below, I have listed all the resources we love and have found useful in the study of birds; including living books, beautiful children’s literature for all ages, reference books, preschool picture books, our treasured nature journal supplies and more!

This blog post contains affiliate links. See Disclaimer for more information.

Nature study Birds resources

Make sure you WATCH THIS VIDEO to get a closer look at these resources and take a peek inside the books!

WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Living Books about British Birds

Here is a selection of wonderful literature about birds; stories that are infused with scientific facts, as well as noble morals, memorable characters and moving storylines.

Tales of Wild Birds Life by Harry M. Batten

A charming collection of 15 short-stories featuring various wild birds from around the U.K.

An Owl in the House: A Naturalist’s Diary

This is the diary of a naturalist who rescued an abandoned owlet from the woods and hand-reared it at home. This true story also features tips on how to keep your own nature journal and original black-and-white photos.

Deep in the Woods – Richard L. Bell

A beautifully illustrated book about all the animals found in the woods. Perfect for children aged 5-8 years old.

Literature about birds

Ali and the Golden Eagle by Wayne Grover

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White

Poetry of Birds compiled by Simon Armitage

This collection has been a great source of poetry for memorisation and for copying into our nature journals.

Picture Books for Early Years

The Eagle and the Wren by Jane Goodall

My children are still talking about this delightful book!

The Little Books of Woodland Bird Song by Caz Buckingham

Press the buttons and hear the bird song of 12 different woodland birds. This board book also has interesting facts about each bird.

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Set in New York and utterly charming!

Hedgie’s Surprise by Jan Brett

A sweet story about chickens that children under 5 will enjoy.

Bird picture books

Reference Books about UK Birds

Collins Lifesize Birds – The Only Guide to Show British Birds at their Actual Size

This book has been such an asset to us these past few months. We have used it to sketch the birds from into our nature journals. For each bird you are given a variety of large high-quality photos and plenty of information.

Usborne Spotters Guide: Birds

This lovely little book is our trusty guide to identifying birds when we are on nature walks. It is small enough to carry with us, with just enough information to help us identify any new birds we see.

Looking at Nature by Elsie Proctor

Looking a Nature is a collection of nature-study lessons for children aged 4-11. It is perfect for those people who are unsure how to begin the study of Nature in their homeschool.

The Usborne Complete Book of Nature

This charming book is an lovely introduction to nature study for children under 6 year-old.

The Usbourne Little Book of Birds

This book from Usborne focuses on birds from many different habitats. It discusses many aspects of their behaviour, life cycle, indientifaction and some myths and legnends! The illustrations are beautiful too!

A Nest is Noisy  by Dianna Hutts Aston

OK, confession time…I don’t have this book….But I want it!

Bird reference books

Other Resources

For Mum: Online course: Navigating Nature Study by Modern Miss Mason

Bird Bingo – A delgihtful board game featuring birds from all around the world.

A Guide to British Garden Birds  CD or Audible.

Learning about the Bird Songs has probably been my favourite aspect of the study of British birds, and this CD played a massive part in that! I highly recommend it.

At the moment, you can get it for FREE with the Audible Trial.

 

YouTube video: John Muir Laws: How to Sketch Birds

If you’re not confident at sketching birds, this YouTube video is fantatic. My boys followed along and really enjoyed it.

Nature Notebooks: Wiro Bound Sketchbook

Prang Watercolour Paints

Brush Set

Bird Feeders and Feeding Station

There is nothing quite so heart-warming as seeing tiny birds, of many coours and varieties, flock your garden, to eat the seeds you put out. They even develop a routine so you know what time each bird will arrive at your feeders that day!

Birds feeders, if placed close enough to your windows, can even be a way to do nature study on those days you cannot leave the house.

Local park

Your local park or woodland is a fantastic resource for you and your family. Get outdoors and explore the nature to see these incredible birds first-hand.

Enthusiasm

Your example and enthusiasm for nature study will influence you children far more than any book ever could. If you, as a parent, enjoy learning about birds and take part in nature journalling yourself, you children will be eager to follow your example. And besides, you might actually learn something…right?!!?

Birds Nature study resources

If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comment below.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

 

 

Raising Children on Words | Literature-Based Homeschooling

road through the woods rudyard kipling

The power of words, their ability to turn hearts and move men should never be underestimated.

In fact, it has become one of the few truths that I stand by: that words can change the world.

One of the greatest proofs of this are the scriptures of the Abrahamic religions. Muslims, along with Jews and Christians, are called the “people of the book” and it is through the Divine words of revelation that God chose to guide us; words that forever changed the world.

“It is He Who sent down to thee, in truth, the Book (Quran), confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (Quran) (of judgment between right and wrong).” – Holy Quran 3:3

This blog post contains affiliate links. Please see Disclaimer for more information.

Words, in their ever varied and beautiful forms, also make up the backbone of our literature-based homeschool. It is by the craftsmanship of the many great authors we read, that my children gain knowledge and are inspired to learn.

Through the words of others, they are taught what it means to be human; the good, the bad and everything in between.

The beauty of well crafted words sometimes catches me off guard, as if placed in my path for a reason; to remind me, teach me or just to make me smile when I need it the most.

road through the woods rudyard kipling

One such occasion was when we were visiting a local park. Despite having been to the same park for years, it was only on this visit that I noticed a small second-hand bookshop hidden above the ice-cream parlour. After the ice-creams were enjoyed, we all ventured up the narrow wooden staircase in the lofted roof. Tucked up under the eaves were hundreds of second-hand books, neatly arranged on old mismatched bookcases. The delight of finding this “secret” treasure-trove was not lost on my children, who quickly set about scouring the shelves looking for “the” book for them.

Tucked upon the first bookcase were two gems; the first of which was an old copy of Enid Blyton’s “The Enchanted Wood published in the 1960’s. The second was Discovering Poetry: Vol 4 Freshfields,” a collection of nature poetry collected by E. W. Parker.

In addition to these, my youngest son carried home a hardback copy of Stories from Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne as though it was the most precious thing in the world.

Back home, over a cup of tea, I opened the poetry book and the first poem that met my eyes made my heart flutter. I can’t make out if it was a pang of recollection from a distant childhood memory, or simply the power of the poem’s vivid imagery.

Road through the woods

This is the poem I read,

The Way Through the Woods 

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods.
But there is no road through the woods.

By Rudyard Kipling

road through the woods rudyard kipling

I read it over and over again, and it made me smile.

Words can do that; they can bring joy and delight when before there was none.

Then I read it to my kids. With their eyes closed and the room quiet, they felt it too. They told me about, “The lost road,” and “The horses hooves,” and they talked together about how roads were different in the olden days. They got it. They saw it in the minds and they felt the words.

Together we enjoyed those words, written many years ago by a man we never knew. Those words brought us closer. That poem is now something we share, like an inside joke or a happy memory.

By exposing my children to these great authors and poets, who are masters of their craft, I hope that my children will one day be able to yield the power found within words and use it for a noble purpose insha’Allah.

One day, when they are grown, and they hear the words of that poem again, it will trigger something within them and make their hearts flutter as they remember; and then perhaps they will pass these words onto their children.

Words connect us, they move us, and so too can they shape us. That is why I raise my children upon the best of them.

raise children on words dr gemma elizabeth

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

How to “Homeschool” Young Children | Beyond the Academics

how to homeschool young children

Homeschooling young children in the early years is so much more than reading, writing and maths!

When you consider the education of children under six years-old, there are many worthwhile areas to focus on, not just academics.

I am frequently asked the question ,“What should I be doing with my 3/4/5 years old child?”, and this blog-post I will do my best to answer that question for you.

homeschoo young children

This blog post has been written in collaboration with WordUnited who kindly gifted my family their products and compensated me for my time. Please see Disclaimer for more information.

For an introduction from me on this very important topic,

WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Before the age of 7, many experts agree that the child’s mind and spirit is not ready for formal education. However, that does not mean we do nothing at all!

The mind, the heart and the soul of the child are still within our stewardship as parents.

In the Islamic tradition, Ali ibn Abi Talib (R.A.) advises us,

“Play with them for the first seven years (of their life); then teach them for the next seven years; then advise them for the next seven years (and after that).”

Through play, and gentle teaching, young children can be taught many important lessons; lessons that will benefit both their intellect and their spiritual essence.

Although academic subjects have their place in a child’s education, the focus with young children should be on the preservation of their faith, and establishing the foundations necessary for them to grow into righteous and highly moral human beings.

Nurture good morals and spiritual growth

Young children are the the greatest of mimics and they will copy your example. Many people talk about how becoming a parent has been the catalyst for a change within themselves; how they became more practicing in their religion because their children are now watching EVERYTHING they do!

Allow your children to witness you praying, reading Quran, attending classes and let them take part. Try to surround your children with good role-models whenever possible; both young and old.

Another powerful method of encouraging good morals in our children is by using stories; particularly about great and noble people from the past. These stories permeate into the child’s consciousness in a more powerful way than at any other time in their live’s, and will become part o their moral compass in the future.  Not only can this include the Stories the Prophets (R.A.), but  good children’s fiction has a lot to offer too.

children reaidng

Follow their interests

When children are young they seem to be interested in everything! They can become fascinated by the shells at the beach, the bugs in the garden, the vehicles they see on the road, the list goes on and on!

Whatever their interest is, grasp hold of it and pursue it! Read more about it together, create activities around that interest and organize field trips. Not only will your children relish the opportunity to learn more about something they love, but it’s a great way to show them that their passions matter to you and boost their self-confidence.

Establish good habits and routines

Establishing good habits and routines within the home is vital to save you much frustration and heart-ache as they grow older.

Whilst they are young, teach your children good manners and establish routines within the house that will benefit you all in later years.

Examples include good personal hygiene, cleaning up after themselves, no whining or bickering; anything that could lead you to frustration in the future is best dealt with whilst they are young, through loving an gentle means.

“A child must not be left to his human nature.” Vol. 1 p. 102 – Charlotte Mason

” …the child who is not being constantly raised to a higher and higher platform will sink to a lower and lower.” Vol. 1 p. 103 – Charlotte Mason

Spend time outdoors

Try to allow your children to spend some time everyday outdoors in natural environments. Allow them to explore and play freely for as long as you can spare.

Not only is being outside good for their physical health, but also for their spiritual and mental well-being. A child who spends his time collecting rocks, building dens, identifying birds, and such like, will have a mind full of wholesome interests; so full that there will be little room for less desirable interests, such as TV and video games.

“…a love of Nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humour.” – Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 p.71

nature study

Make the most of their memory

In these early years, young children have the most incredible capacity to memorize almost anything with seemingly little effort. Use this time to encourage your children to memorize the Quran. There is no need to have any structured lessons, unless they seem to enjoy it. Instead, just allow them to listen to the Quran in the home whilst they are playing or eating their breakfast, whilst travelling in the car or as they fall asleep. This is such a simple and effective way for young children to learn the Quran, and will set them up well for more formal study in years to come.

The early years are also the best time to learn a foreign language. If you would like to learn more about how to do that, CLICK HERE to read how to do it!

Prepare for formal schooling

The age you begin to prepare them for more structured school-work is up to you. In our home it has been different for each child depending on their development.

Before they start formal schooling you may want to teach them the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and how to write and read simple words.

For this we have enjoyed using the Write-and-Wipe flashcards from WordUnited. There are a variety of sets available including the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes and actions!

flashcards wordunited flashcards wordunited

Each card shows the word or letter of the alphabet, along with a beautiful high quality photo on one side; whilst on the other side the word or letter is written out, followed by a tracing and hand-writing exercise. I really appreciate how well-made these cards are and I am sure they will last us for many years insha’Allah. All the flash-cards are kept in a magnetically closing box, along with two wipe-able board pens.

These beautiful flashcards introduce children to the alphabet, numbers and simple words, and also give your children the opportunity to learn to write and read in a relaxed and fun manner.

homeschooling young children homeschooling young children

In addition to English, The Word United flashcards are also available in Arabic, French, Spanish and German. To read about how we have used these cards to teach Foreign Language in our homeschool, CLICK HERE.

If you are interested in purchasing the Write-and-Wipe flashcards for your family, visit their website (www.wordunited.com), or visit the Word United Amazon Store .

You also find them on Twitter and Instagram.

how to homeschool young children

Educating young children is so much more than reading, writing and maths; it’s about nurturing their whole beings in alignment with their natural development.

If you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comments section below.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

 

My Journey Towards Slow-Living | Homeschool Reflections

slow living homeschool reflections

Last night, when the little ones were asleep, and it was just me and him in the living room, my eldest son turned to me and said,

” You’re like your old self again Mummy…You’re knitting.”

I could have cried.

He’s right. I am starting to feel like my old self again; that silly, impulsive, fun-loving girl, that girl that thought and cared deeply about everything, that girl who loved practical jokes and being goofy!

slow living homeschool reflections

But she got  pushed aside so I could become responsible and capable; to be a “better” mum and wife; or a least in the same way everyone else seems to be.

But instead of becoming more capable, I just became hurried. Instead of cherishing those special moments with my family, I hurried them onto the next one without taking the time to experience it; without truly living it. In an effort to be perfect, I forgot to be present.

As my old self re-emerges, my relationships with those around me is growing. I’m no longer just functioning as a wife and a mum, but I’m learning to connect on a deeper level and be vulnerable again with those I love.

What happened to cause this change?

Simply, I’m slowing down.

Instead of striving towards doing more, I’m seeking out quiet. Less distraction, less disruption and more time to reconnect with those I love the most. Instead of trying to fill every “empty” space and time slot in my life, I am embracing the silence. Instead of doing more and more, I’m doing less but with more meaning and more heart.

And so to dear boy, my old self said back, ” Yes,” I told him, “I’m back.”

If. like me, you have been feeling frantic and frazzled for too long; if you are exhausted with the pace of the life you have created for yourself; if you miss your old care-free self and those relationships of those you love, then perhaps you too need to slow down.

 

“It’s about rejecting the myth that every day is a new opportunity to prove our worth, and about the truth that our worth is inherent, given by God, not earned by our hustling.

It’s about learning to show up and let ourselves be seen just as we are, massively imperfect and weak and wild and flawed in a thousand ways, but still worth loving.

It’s about about realizing that what makes our lives meaningful is not what we accomplish, but how deeply and honestly we connect with the people in our lives, how wholly we give ourselves to the making of a better world, through kindness and courage.”

– Shauna Niequist, Present over Perfect.

If this seems completely irrelevant  to your life, then I’m happy for you…I really am.

But I wish someone had told me long ago, before I wasted all those years, that what you seek is not achieved or found by hustling and busyness; rather, it lies in the silence within you.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

 

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