charlotte mason

Eagles, Apples and Bears! Our Homeschool Week | 2nd – 6th October 2017

Homeschool UK Charlotte Mason

It’s been wonderful to get back into our homeschool curriculum this week, after the disruption of last week! We’ve been learning more about the Vikings, have enjoyed some great works of literature and made loads of art projects from our Toucan box.

Read on to take a look into a typical homeschool week with us, using the Charlotte Mason approach to education and the Ambleside Online homeschool curriculum.

charlotte mason homeschool uk hawthorn

Monday 2nd October

This morning the kids worked through a few lesson of CTC Math, on the computer. They are enjoying the programme and benefiting from the way it approaches maths. My eldest learnt about map co-ordinates and different types of graphs; whilst my younger son learnt about the concept of symmetry. It was a fun morning!

Today in circle time, we learnt about famous viking explorer, Leif Erikson and looked at another famous painting by Hokusai, “Mishima Pass in Kai Province.”

We have been using a wall calendar for picture study, as they are very inexpensive compared to art books, and can hang easily on our wall; allowing the kids to look at it and learn from it throughout our school week.

Muslim homeschool circle time

Tuesday 3rd October

The highlight of the day was the Toucan box came in the post! Thankfully the boys had already done most of their school work before it came, otherwise nothing would have been done! It was all very exciting!

We have recently upgraded to the largest of their boxes, the “Super box”, which contains 4 different craft activities and a picture book. To read a review of the Toucan box and see an un-boxing video we made, CLICK HERE.

For more information about Toucan Box, visit their website HERE and use the referral code GEMMA-9E6X to get your first box free!

Out of the four, the boys decided to do the underwater scene first. It turned out lovely, and we read the picture book that came at bed-time.

Toucan box

Underwater sea craft from toucan box

The postman also brought a new new book to go along with our study of Medieval Britain, A Knight’s city by Philip SteeleThis book is AMAZING!

It is filled with the most incredible pop-ups that are so intricately designed. The book takes you on a tour of life in a medieval city, and it is full of great information along with pop-ups of a cathedral, castle and bridge. It really sparked my boy’s imagination and has helped them to visualise the scenes in the living books we are reading from.

Medieval history pop up book for kids

Sight word game for kindergarten

After all the excitement, we spent a little time in the afternoon reviewing sight-words with the game POP from learning resources.

Wednesday 4th October

Today we learnt about Hereward and his battles with William the conquerer. Never heard of Hereward….me neither! But if you are covering medieval history this year you should look him up!

We also raed about Prophet Nuh (Noah) from the book Lives of the Prophets by Leila Azzam. We discussed how Nuh’s wife and son were not from the believers, and how faith is a gift from God and should be cherished.

The afternoon was filled with activities outside the home; like Quran class and a Muslim beaver scouts meeting.He came back with even more badges for me to sew on! MashAllah.

Thursday 5th October

Along with the usual school work, the boys had a swimming class this morning. The long drive there gave us an opportunity to listen to the literature component of our curriculum Understood Betsy.

We have really been enjoying listening to the audiobook version on Audible. In fact, I have personally enjoyed it so much, I have been tempted this week to put it on for myself to listen to whilst I was getting on with housework! It’s really good!

After swimming, and a Seerah class with their other home-ed friends, we went into our garden to enjoy the autumn sunshine.

We have been using these flashcards from word united to teach handwriting and reading to my 5-year old, as well as using their French and Arabic range for foreign language study.

Handwriting flashcards

Toddler fun!
Keeping herself busy…You have to pick your battles with 2 year-olds!

Friday 6th October

It’s Friday! Hurray!

Friday for us means nature walk! This week we went out to a patch of scrub-land near the river and explored. It was beautiful!

Homeschool UK Charlotte Mason
RUN! Woohoo!

Charlotte Mason homeschool

Along the walk, I noticed some beautiful cowslip flowers by the pavement. I stopped, without saying anything, took a photo of them and walked on. A few minutes later I turned around and found my sons sat down by the same flowers having their own discussion and conversation about them.

There was no need for me to say anything, and “force” a learning opportunity. Instead of saying, “Look at these boys,” or “Do you know what these flowers are called?”, they were able to make the discovery themselves! These are the moments that will stay with them and that they will retain, not incessant lecturing from me!

I have to remind myself often, to follow the advice of Charlotte Mason, and stay quiet! I find it so tempting, in my enthusiasm, to give constant prompting to the boys. This was a beautiful reminder to myself, that they don’t need me to do that! They have each other! mashAllah.

Nature study

Amongst some other discoveries, we found a few apples trees growing along the route, and a muddy puddle full of different foot prints; different kinds of birds and dogs (although my boys were convinced they were bear foot prints!)

My 5 year-old also found the biggest feather he’s ever seen! He was so excited and, as we had seen birds-of-prey in the area last week, and decided it was an eagle feather!

Bear footprints nature study
Bear footprints?

After a stopping off for hot-chocolate at a cafe, we started walking back to the car. It was a long walk, so I decided to distract them with Quran!

Each of the boys had to recite all the Quran that they could remember. We talked about how the Quran is the word of Allah, and everything in creation wants to hear it. So as they recited, we talked about how the clouds in the sky, the grass under their feet and birds in the trees were listening to them. Subhanullah! Before we knew it, we were back at the car!

We made it to Jummah prayer at the mosque. Although we went to a mosque I don’t usually visit, there is something very powerful about standing shoulder to shoulder with women, whom I didn’t know, praying together. Unity.

We didn’t have time to sketch and paint in our nature journal’s today, but the boys did make a lovely chicken a mushroom pie! It was a great end to the week.

How was your homeschool week?
Please do let me know and tell us all about it in the comments!

Peace and Love,

Our Muslim Homeschool Dr Gemma Elizabeth

A Week (or two) in Our Homeschool | 18th-29th September 2017

Blackbird egg nature journal

I think the theme of the last few weeks should be how to homeschool when nothing goes to plan!

We were just starting to get into a rhythm and a good homeschool routine, when flu hit and then an un-planned road trip really challenged our schedule.

Monday 18th September

I was sick today! With a terrible fever and flu, we kept it really simple today with maths on the computer, reading practice and some Quran.

The kids were still unwell too, so they finished off an activity from their Toucan Box and made this awesome Dinosaur egg with plaster of Paris. We love our monthly Toucan box. You can read a review I wrote about it HERE.

Dinosaur egg craft

After dosing up on paracetamol and ibuprofen, I felt human again so we read aloud from A Child’s History of the World, learning about King Alfred.

Honestly, I had never heard of Alfred and his treaty with the Vikings before….it was really interesting!

A child's history of the world

Tuesday 19th September

Since we missed circle time yesterday, I made it a priority today. We revisited a painting by Hokusai and the children gave a lovey narration of it. We sang some French nursery rhymes from Comptines a chanter  and finished off the Shakespeare play “Two Gentlemen of Verona” from the book Beautiful stories from Shakespeare for children

The boys struggled a little ( a lot) following the plot of the play. I am thinking of encorporating peg dolls or some props to help them to narrate the plays. It is not the language that they find hard, but the complex story lines! We’ll find a way insha’Allah.

After reading about the Battle of Hastings from Our Island Story we stopped school for the day and tried to get better!

Year 2 Ambleside online

Wednesday 20th September

After two days being stuck indoors, I was itching to get out!

After a little morning school, we went to a nearby park and get some fresh air. I had been reading in Home Education Volume 1 by Charlotte Mason about the importance she placed on breathing in “outdoor” air compared to “indoor” air, and so I felt inspired to follow her advice!

Muslim homeschool

Thursday 21st September

By now the kids were well enough to go to their home-ed classes and were able to go swimming and to their Seerah class.

Those long drives to classes were my saving grace! We look our iPad and listened Understood Betsy on Audible on the way there and back. If you remember in my last blog post, I said the boys were not enjoying that book AT ALL! Well they seem to really like the Audiobook. Alhumdulillah!

I was so impressed with how responsive they were to the audiobook, that I used up all my free credits with Audible to get almost all the books we will be using this year with the Ambleside online curriculum.

If you haven’t tried Audible before, they are a publisher and distributor of the world’s largest selection of digital audiobooks and spoken word content. There is a 30-Day FREE TRIAL available at the moment if you’d like to try it with your family.

 

In the evening, we sang French songs with our cookies and milk!

Homeschool french songs
Cookies and French songs!

Friday 22nd September

Although I was still not feeling well, there was no way we were missing out on nature study! I love it too much!

We spent the morning sketching a blackbird into our Nature notebooks with the help of some fantastic YouTube videos by John Muir Laws

nature journal watercolour blackbird

We headed off the our nearby park for our usual nature walk, but within minutes of reaching there, the heavens opened! It was raining so hard we had to run back to the car and eat our picnic there! Whilst we were eating we listened to an excellent CD, A Guide to British Garden Birds., until the rain stopped.

british garden bird song cd  nature study acorns

Once back home, we painted our blackbirds using water colours, and the children spent the remainder of the day with their grandparents.

(Sketch book: HERE)

nature study blackbird

 

Saturday 23rd

The boys worked on the next chapter in their Islamic Studies books. My 7 year-old read about Life after Death using the Safar Year 3 book, and my 5 year-old learnt about how to use the toilet and keep clean using the Year 1 books.

Safar Islamic Studies Year 1

Sunday 24th – Tuesday 26th

My in-laws are visiting at the moment, so we decided to make the most of our flexible schedule and take them to Alton towers. This kids enjoyed spending time with their grnadparents and they loved going on all the rides!

cbeebies land alton towers homeschol trip

cbeebies land alton towers homeschol trip
Justin’s House was her favourite!

With it being a weekday, there were no queues! I have never been to a theme park where you didn’t have to queue up for anything! It was brilliant for the young kids.

My daughter got to meet Postman Mat (which she is still talking about), and the boys got to go on some faster roller-coasters. They’re now planning how they can build their own roller coaster at home out of Lego! Whilst there,we stayed in a hotel within the resort for a few days and came back Tuesday afternoon.

It is worth noting that Alton Towers, and all Merlin attractions, do offer a home-educator discount, but you will have to prove you home school with a letter from the LEA.

Wednesday 27th September

After getting back from out trip, I decided to spend the remainder to the week catching up on what we missed last week. Initally the morning was spent doing the usual daily workl; Quran, Maths and Reading. My 7 year-old son started The Bears on Hemlock Mountain which he seems to be enjoying.

During circle time we learnt about Prophet Idris (Enoch)(AS) from the book Lives of the Prophets by Leila Azzam.

Then the boys remembered that their Seerah teacher had asked them to make a list of 5 good things they wanted to do/acheive this new Islamic year. Their lists included things like learn to swim, read more Quran, be better to my mum! My 5 year-old son wanted to type his list up on the computer and here he is mashAllah!

Islamic new year resolutions
Islamic new year resolutions

Thursday 28th September

Today we went seemed to spend most of the day in the car! After a little “morning school”, travelling to the boys’ swimming class and Seerah class took up a large part of the day.

We used this time once again to listen to audiobooks, listening to Parables from Nature using Audible

It was lovely to have some sunny weather today though. However, as all you mums know, sunny weather means catching up on laundry! After being sick, and going away for the weekend, and the endless rain we’ve been having, there was a lot of washing to do! By the end of the day I had 4 or 5 loads of clean laundry to fold/iron and put away(…eugh), but seeing that empty laundry basket was satisfying.

what homeschooling really looks like!
This is what homeschooling really looks like!

Friday 29th September

Fridays are our favourite day! We spent the morning walking in nearby woodland. We spotted a squirrel with a sweet chesnut in his mouth. When we followed him we found the tree and hundreds of sweet shestnuts on the floor! The boys decided to collect as many as they could carry to take home for the squirrels in our garden!

nature walk homeschool

nature walk homeschool
I don’t know what they’re looking at!
nature walk homeschool
Sweet Chestnuts EVERYWHERE!

In the afternoon, the boys planted some of the sweet chestnuts in the garden and left loads out for the squirrels.

They added a green/blue blackbird egg to their nature notebooks and had a class at home with their French tutor. The rest of the day was spent helping to cook dinner. They made chicken curry and rice mashAllah!

Blackbird egg nature journal
Adding to their nature notebook later that afternoon

 

 

So it has been a “higgledy-piggledy” week. We are one week behind in schedule set out by  Ambleside online, so instead of beginning week 5 we will beginning week 4.

I’m not really concerned at all if I’m honest! Instead of taking 36 weeks to compete the year, we will take 37.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our week.

What do you do when your children get sick?
Do you prioritise any subjects and try to get something done?
Or do you just take that time off?
Please let me know in the comment below.

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth

10 Points of Homeschooling Advice from Veteran Homeschool Mom

Homeschooling advice from veteran homeschool mom

How often do we look back on something and think, “If wish I could have done that differently.”?

Not often are we given the gift of parenting, or homeschooling, with hindsight. But with almost an 11 year gap between my two oldest kids, alhamdulilah, I’m given at least a peek into how my homeschooling decisions have played out over time.

Homeschooling advice from veteran homeschool mom

Advice to noew homeschoolers from veteran homeschool mom

I hope my hindsight can be of use to you as well, as I reflect back over the last 8 years of homeschooling, now that my oldest is, mashaAllah, graduating high school.

Academic rigor is secondary

So often we spend hours upon hours trying to find the perfect book. It’ll have all the right information, with all the best activities, and thorough tests and quizzes to make sure they don’t miss a thing.

But what about the atmosphere in our home? What about nurturing that love of learning that comes naturally to children? How long do we spend thinking about that?

I wish I would have given my daughter more time to be a kid. More time to explore and learn at her leisure, and not during some scheduled hour-long exploratory time. You can’t schedule curiosity.

Don’t let others dictate your homeschool

If you’re just starting with homeschooling and you don’t have much support around you, it’s tempting to fill up your curriculum list with impressive books and resources to try to sway them that you’re not ruining your child.

Let me tell you something – a book list is not going to change many people’s minds.

Pick the resources you feel are best, for your child. How many school teachers do you think are making curriculum decisions based on what their parents or neighbors think? They choose books they think will be the most effective. Period.

Get acquainted with various homeschooling methods

Most of us have gone through the public school system. It’s all we know. Then when we start homeschooling, we dream of bulletin boards, and an in box for assignments.

Sometimes we have to jump into homeschooling because traditional school isn’t working, so we might not have a lot of time to read up on the various methodologies. Even if that’s the case, start reading the core book on each topic and see what speaks to you.

Think of yourself as an educator or mentor, not only an administrator

An administrator simply makes education more accessible. They order books, organize lesson plans, and grade work. An educator or mentor understands how students learn, how their environment affects their learning, and has some basic understanding of psychology.

Be the educator. Treat homeschooling as your career, not a task. That means reading and studying about your chosen career.

Homeschooling advice from veteran homeschool mom

Less semester-long classes

The semester long classes were great, and I love that she made some friends in those arenas, but I think we did too many, which made it hard to take part in anything else. We barely went on field trips that related to her lessons because our schedule was so jam packed with classes.

As I’m faced with the temptation of signing up for all the interesting classes again with my younger kids, I remind myself that childhood is not the only time to learn. We can, and should, learn as adults as well. If they miss out on a class about sewing, or woodworking, or reptiles, there will be opportunities for them to learn about that as an adult as well, if they so choose.

Ask help from the community

In the six years we were exclusively homeschooling my oldest (she spent the last two years at a local college finishing her high school diploma), I had three more children and we moved twice. To say I was a bit distracted would be an understatement.

Alhamdulilah, we made do, but it would have been easier if I reached out to community members to organize study groups while she was reading classic books since I did not have the time to read them along with her. If you find someone who is passionate about a subject, they are usually happy to help the young generation to explore that passion.

Grades and deadlines

We are pretty relaxed in the early years of homeschooling, but I do suggest to start grading and giving deadlines one year before you’ll be keeping specific records. In the US (though each state is different), you don’t have to keep records until the student is in high school.

It is a disservice to your child to first experience real deadlines and grades when it will be on their permanent record.

Less is more

Okay, we don’t want to take this to an extreme and ignore educating our kids, but hear me out, especially in regards to graded assignments.

The fewer number of graded assignments you give, the more weight each one has, which means they learn to give their best time and attention to each assignment. They can’t just slop something together and know that something that was easier for them, and therefore they got a good grade on, will even out the poor assignment they just turned in.

Less formal assignments, more time to sit and think about them independently.

Never, ever stop learning

Show your child what it means to be a lifelong learner. Sign up for classes, read books, watch documentaries. Even if they scoff at your boring choices for how you use your time, they will be noticing that you didn’t stop learning when you graduated. And neither should they.

Veteran homeschool mom advice to new homeschoolers

Make du’a

Last, but not least, don’t forget that striving to provide opportunities for a great education is in your hands, but the end result ultimately is not. Allah has a plan for all of us, and sometimes it may look like it’s not going your way. That’s okay, too. Patience is what we do have control over. In sha Allah be patient.

Shannen is an American Muslim convert, homeschooling mother to 4 daughters and mediocre housewife. She enjoys blogging, knitting, quilting, and avoiding housework. Read more on her blog about their Islamic homeschool, green(ish) living, and the ups and downs of parenting. You can connect with Shannen on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Homeschool Mom Tag on YouTube!

Homeschol mom tag on Youtube

This blog post may contain affiliate links. Please see disclaimer for more information.

Do you want to know about where we buy homeschool supplies from, what homeschooling approach we take, and if I get help to teach the kids? Then you need to WATCH THIS VIDEO!

This tag has been going around the homeschooling YouTube community for the past few weeks. It was started by Rachel from day2dayjoys and I was tagged by The Precious Years and Sarah Javed to answer these questions:

Homeschol mom tag on Youtube

Homeschool Tag Questions

1. Were you homeschooled?
2. Did you know always know you’d homeschool your children?
3. What are your 3 favorite books in your homeschool library?
4. Are you the only “teacher”? Does your spouse help, outsource help, tutors, etc.
5. Where is your favorite place to buy homeschool curriculum?
6. Do you have a set budget for your homeschool?
7. What are 2 must have homeschool supplies?
8. What’s your favorite/least favorite subject to teach?
9. Are you involved in coops or homeschool groups? What has your experience been in these groups?
10. What is your approach? ( Charlotte mason, eclectic, classical, etc)

Watch this video to see how I answered all these great questions!

WATCH THIS VIDEO:

Here are links to the books I mentioned in this video:

My Favourite Homeschooling Books

For Mothers:

Teaching from Rest by Sarah McKenzie – Amazon UKAmazon USA

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer – Amazon UKAmazon USA

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer (New Edition) – Amazon UKAmazon USA

For Kids:

Winnie-the-Pooh: The Complete Collection – Amazon UK – Amazon USA

The World of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter – Amazon UK – Amazon USA

Pinocchio by C. Collodi – Amazon UK – Amazon USA

 

If you would like to watch the playlist of all the other mothers taking part, CLICK HERE!

I am tagging anyone who would like to take part.

You can make a YouTube video, write a blog post

or just leave your answers in the comments below!

I’d love to hear how you do things in your family!

 

Peace and Love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth

Getting Started with Charlotte Mason for Young Children

Getting started with Charlotte Mason for Young children

Our Muslim Homeschool uses affiliate links in posts and sidebar ads. Please refer to my Disclosure Policy for more information

The following post is from Shannen at Middle Way Mom

It just me, or do very few homeschooling methods refer to little ones being in the mix of a typical homeschooling day?

One of the things that has drawn me to the Charlotte Mason method, especially in the season of life with three kids 6 and under at home, is how welcoming it is for young children.

Not only is there a focus on letting children have lots of time for free play, exploration, and short lessons, but she even addresses the youngest of children in her book Home Education.

Charlotte Mason for Young children

Using Charlotte Mason as a guide, our homeschool is just in the very beginning stages of formal learning. No formal lessons are to start before age 6, but let’s not confuse this though with the idea that we do not teach a child anything.

Instead, a child learns from their environment. How?

Getting outside

Ms. Mason spent a good deal of time in Home Education explaining what an ideal day looks like, and how one should spend hours out of doors each day, even up to 6 hours a day.

What do you do during that time? She gives a lot of guidance, and adds that we shouldn’t bring a story book to read. Instead, the child should be fully engaged in playing and exploring. It’s not like there isn’t enough for them to do!

Also, the mother should not be giving lots of instructions or information while they are outside, but rather a small nugget of information, or pointing out something interesting in nature from time to time.

Overall, her advice is to let the child’s mind have time to think and process what is around them.

A game she suggests to hone the habit of attention from an early age is this: While the children at a park or nature reserve, ask them to go and look at something, maybe a house or farm, and remember all that they can. The child should come back and retell it to you in the most detail they are able. It’s fun for children if mom takes part in this game from time to time as well!

Honestly, when I first read the advice to get out for 6 hours a day, I thought, “Yeah, maybe if I was the nanny! I have to cook dinner and manage the house!”

6 hours is a lot, and unless I get a meal in the crockpot before I go, that’s not something we can always do. Of course, 3 hours is better than 2 and 2 hours is better than 1.

Do what you can. Especially if you have a small child that needs to nap, don’t beat yourself up over not spending 6 hours a day outside.

 

Charlotte Mason for Young Children

Habits

“The formation of habits is education, and education is the formation of habits.” – Home Education, pg. 97

Ms Mason makes no question about it: habits are the foundation to a strong education and personal life. Without them, we flounder without direction.

I wish I would have been turned on to this idea far sooner in my life, and as such, I have to believe that helping my young children build habits might be one of the best gifts I give them.

Even as young as an infant, she mentions the value of habits. We know that a toddler who is in the habit of using the potty from an early age, whether they successfully use it or not, is more likely to be fully potty trained earlier than a child who is introduced to the potty haphazardly.

For young children in the modern age, it’s not hard to get them started with simple things like emptying a dishwasher, putting their clothes away, and picking up their toys before they go to bed. When it becomes part of the natural rhythm of their days, they don’t fight it as much as a random command when Mom just can’t take the mess anymore.

I could go on an on about habits and young children. If you are wanting to jump right in with working on building strong habits, a good book to start would be one where Deborah Taylor-Hough compiled all that Charlotte Mason said about habits throughout her six volume series into one book: Habits: The Mother’s Secret to Success: Volume 1

Reading and number sense

When my oldest daughter was young, in the early 00’s, there was no pressure on parents for kids to learn to read before Kindergarten. It was generally expected that in Kindergarten kids would learn their letters and numbers formally for the first time.

Now, just 10 years later, the conversation is completely different. Now kids are expected to have a foundation of reading before they reach Kindergarten. So often I read moms in groups sharing their worry and stress about their 3 year old not knowing their letters.

Either the tide is turning again, or it’s just the circles that I’m surrounded in, but the philosophy Charlotte Mason has of waiting until the child is 6 before teaching them to read is catching on.

Waiting to teach children formally does not mean that we don’t teach them anything at all. Naturally, numbers and letters come out in day to day life and there’s nothing wrong with pointing out things like what a road sign says or letters in their name.

What is encouraged though, is to leave the worksheets and easy readers until the child can be successful with them right away. Let learning be a joy for them instead of building the idea that learning is a struggle.

With my own 4 year old, she knows some letters and most of her numbers. While my 6 year old is working on her own lessons, I may give my younger kids wipe clean books and white board markers. The wipe clean books have letters and words in them, and we’ll point out sounds that letters make, but she’s never tested on it later. The information is presented, and if it is worthwhile to her, she’ll try to remember it.

As for numbers, my Kindergartener knew her numbers, but didn’t have much number sense before we started Right Start Math. Since my preschooler usually sits with us for math lessons, she has picked up on things a little earlier, but again, she’s not tested on any of this at any time.

Your purpose

First and foremost, building strong habits and morals are the core purpose with young children. Ms. Mason did not direct attention to anything more than she did to habits throughout her book Home Education (which focuses on children under 9 years old).

Your purpose as a parent and educator is not to fill their minds with information, but rather to build character traits as best you can in them so they can be effective students when it is time for them to study in a more serious manner.

In regards to education, the purpose of the young years with the children is not about memorizing letter sounds or math facts. The entire purpose of creating an environment where children are exploring (ideally mostly out of doors) is for children to build a love of learning.

Formal lessons should be enjoyable to them when they get to that stage, and something they look forward to when they are young.

Our Muslim Homeschool blog

Shannen is an American Muslim convert, homeschooling mother to 4 daughters and mediocre housewife. She enjoys blogging, knitting, quilting, and avoiding housework. Read more on her blog about their Islamic homeschool, green(ish) living, and the ups and downs of parenting. You can connect with Shannen on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Handicraft Ideas for Young Children

Handcriaft ideas for young children

The following post is from Shannen at Middle Way Mom

Are you intimidated to get started with handicrafts? With small children, they have so much excitement to make something themselves, but we don’t want to present a project that frustrates them and kills that excitement.

 

 

Still, we don’t want to wait so long that our child no longer has an interest in crafts of any sort.

Charlotte Mason says:

The points to be borne in mind in children’s handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children’s work should be kept well within their compass.

~ Charlotte Mason, Home Education, Volume 1, pgs 315-316

Charlotte offers some suggestions for handicrafts for children under 9, but to be honest, many of them seem antiqued, or would be hard to source. So what handicraft ideas are useful for young children in our modern times?

We’ve tried a few handicraft ideas in our home with my 6 year old daughter: some very successful, and some not as much. Here I’ll share with you what I believe are some of the best projects to get started, in sha Allah.

Handicraft ideas for young children

 

What are handicrafts?

Handicrafts are more than arts and crafts. Handicrafts are useful items that serve a purpose, or decorate a useful item, like embroidery.

Learning some basic handicrafts helps children:

  • Learn the value of items, and the work that goes into them, also helping children see the issue with cheap labor to make clothing and household items
  • Practice fine motor skills
  • Find passions and hobbies to nuture both their creative and practical side
  • Teach them valuable skills they can use as they grow older

Knitting loom

How did we start with handicrafts in my home? My 4 year old, at the time, saw me knitting one day and begged me to teach her, but again I didn’t want to teach her something where she had little likelihood to be successful. Fortunately, I found a used knitting loom online and purchased that, plus I had some yarn left over from my own projects.

She took to it immediately and has been making hats and crowns (hats without tops) ever since.

At 4 years old she needed some guidance, but overall mashaAllah she did quite well independently, and she had a great sense of accomplishment

Weaving

Weaving can result in many different types of projects, the most common for kids being pot holders. We started with pot holders because it was really cheap to get the loom and the bands, but I can see it sparked something bigger in my 6 year old and she’d love if I got her a weaving loom for other projects like making scarves, placemats, or bracelets.

You can find many YouTube videos about making your own weaving loom to make a variety of projects to get you started, or find a high quality, affordable kit.

Simple sewing projects

Sewing School is a great book to get ideas for really simple projects. We started with a couple charm squares of fabric, a needle, thread, and some cotton stuffing, and with this my daughter made a pillow for her dolls. A variation of this project is only sewing three sides and not stuffing it to make a pocket, or attach a handle to make a doll bag.

The book offers many other projects kids can work on, but I loved how simple the pillow project was to get us started.

Girl sewing handicraft pillow

 

Knit or crochet

I hear many people mention how their grandmother or mother taught them how to knit or crochet when they were 5, 6, or 7 years old, but a common theme is that they didn’t stick with it. I have taught my child how to knit, because she insisted, but with the attention span of young children, it’s hard for them to even see a washcloth project through to completion.

If your child is interested in it, I wouldn’t say to hold back, but until they are about 8 years old, I wouldn’t expect a child to run with it like they would with weaving pot holders.

Yarn or fabric dyeing

Super easy, and super fun for kids! Even more fun? Dyeing their own yarn, then knitting with it themselves on the loom!

There are a lot of videos on YouTube to teach you how to dye yarn, but I personally prefer to pick up a kit from a well regarded source so I don’t waste time and money on a video that may or may not be well constructed. Knit Picks has some books, dyes, and bare yarn to purchase. Another great source is your local yarn shop, and it supports local small businesses.

Advice for starting with handicrafts

While Charlotte Mason suggests only giving a child work that they can perfect, that doesn’t mean that’s it’s perfect the first time around. Offer up some options and let your child choose something in their interest.

Also, in your day to day lives, point out items that the child could make themselves and offer up ideas.

And… the best way to encourage your child to take up handicrafts?

Do them yourself! Invite your child to help sew on a button. Knit while doing your homeschooling lessons. Quilt while watching a movie.

Not into fiber arts? Paint rocks together, garden, paint bird houses, and other useful crafts to spark an interest.

What are some handicraft ideas you’ve tried with your child?

Shannen is an American Muslim convert, homeschooling mother to 4 daughters and mediocre housewife. She enjoys blogging, knitting, quilting, and avoiding housework. Read more on her blog about their Islamic homeschool, green(ish) living, and the ups and downs of parenting. You can connect with Shannen on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.