charlotte mason

Homeschool History Curriculum | Islamic & British

islamic homeschool history
  • History is one of my favourite subjects to teach in our homeschool, especially Islamic history! I am very excited to share with you our Living History curriculum choices for the coming homeschool year!

Download our FREE Homeschool History Reading Plan, and you can read these beautiful books along with our family! (More information is at the end of this blog-post.)

Further research of the Charlotte Mason method of education has led me to many delightful discoveries; one of which is her method of teaching history through living books and biographies. This coming school year, I will be using this methodology to teach my two young boys, ages 6 and 8, more about later Medieval times in Britain and the Islamic world. Towards the middle of the year, we hope to start learning about the Tudors.

Islamic homeschool living history curriculum

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If you’re interested in learning more about Charlotte Mason’s method of teaching History: CLICK HERE

I have collected together an assortment of beautiful books that we will use this year; some we will read together as a family, and others are independent reading for my eight year-old. This curriculum also incorporates Islamic History.

If you would like to use this curriculum in your homeschool as well, please scroll down to the bottom of this blog post, and you can download our Homeschool History Reading Plan  for FREE!

You can also WATCH THIS VIDEO, to get a closer look at all these lovely books!

These are the selection of Living History Books we hope to use this coming year:

Family History Read-alouds

 

The Story of Britain by Patrick Dillon

UK | USA

People in History by R.J. Unstead

UK | USA

This book is harder to source in USA, and may be cheaper to buy from Amazon UK, and ship over.

Muhammad: His life based on the earliest sources by Martin Lings

UK | USA

Columbus by Ingri  & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

UK | USA

The topic of Columbus, an how to teach it, is a difficult dillema for many parents, as the horrific atrocities committed upon the native people of America are ignored by most historical accounts in children’s books. This is an excellent article to help you navigate this issue with your children.

Independent Reading/ Biographies (Ages 8+)

We hope that my son will read as many of these books as he can over the whole year, reading for only 10 minutes interdependently from them each school day.

Please note: I have not yet pre-read all of these books, but I plan too insha’Allah. I would always advise you to pre-read anything that your child will be reading independently.

 

 

islamic homeschool history

Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley

UK | USA

All About Leonardo da Vinci by Emily Hahn

UK | USA

Al Ghazali by Demi

UK | USA

Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta by James Rumford

UK | USA

 

The Silk Route by John S.Major

UK | USA

Ibn Sina: A Concise History by Edoardo Albert

UK | USA

This book is harder than the others. We may chose to do this one as a family read-aloud if my son struggles with it.

Saladin: The Muslim Warrior who defended his people

UK | USA

The Emperor’s Winding Sheet  by Jill Paton Walsh

UK | USA

Leyla: The Black Tulip by A. Croutier

UK | USA

So this is our plan for the coming year for History, insha’Allah.

History Curriculum: Islamic and European History

If you would like to read along with us, I have planned out the first term (12 weeks) of family reading, which you can DOWNLOAD HERE: Homeschool History Reading Plan.

As I mentioned above, this is a continuation of last year’s study of the medieval times, and so the British history component begins with Henry V (1413).

I do not plan out my son’s independent reading, but instead allow him to select a book from the list above, and read from it for 10 minutes daily. This approach could also work for your family.

To use the reading schedule, simply reading down the list the in order; beginning from the top and working your way down to the bottom. Each square correlates with the number of readings/sittings it will take to complete the chapter; e.g. 2 squares indicates that it will probably take 2 sittings to read through that particular chapter. You can even use this as a checklist if you like, and tick off each reading as you complete it.

The chapter names are written in the left-hand column, and the colour of the box indicates the which book it is from. There is a “key” to help make this clearer. If you need any further help with this reading schedule, please leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to help insha’Allah.

Download your…

FREE History Reading Schedule:

–>Homeschool History Reading Plan <–

 

Islamic homeschool history living curriculum

If you do decide to read along with us, please take a photo and share it with the hashtag #OMHHistory. I would love to see how your family are using this curriculum.

What history books have your family enjoyed reading? Do you have any favourites?

Please share with us in the comments below!

Peace and Love,

Living history curriculum islamic

 

 

 

Homeschool History | Living Books and Curriculum Options

Homeschool history living curriclum

Are you struggling to choose a Homeschool History curriculum? There are so many different curricula and living books available, that choosing the right “fit” can become quickly overwhelming!

In this blog-post I’ll be reviewing three of the most popular Homeschool History curricula, that we have personal experience with, to help you decide what would be best for your children. I’ll also be discussing why the study of History is so important in a child’s education.

homeschool history living books curriculum

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

Why Study History

In this modern educational culture, we have come to view History as a supplemental subject; a subject that is done merely to enrich the more “important” disciplines. However I would argue, as Charlotte Mason did over a hundred years ago, that history is “vital part of education.” (Vol. 6, p.169).

Understanding the events and people of the past, can help us to understand our own reality, and place in this world. The study of history exposes our children to worthy ideas, foreign worlds, people of noble character, and can act as an antithesis to the misguidance and trappings of modernity. It helps children to see what virtue looks like, through their imagination, and begins to train their powers of reasoning.

“…a subject which should be to the child an inexhaustible storehouse of ideas, should enrich the chambers of his House Beautiful with a thousand tableaux, pathetic and heroic, and should form in him, insensibly, principles where by he will hereafter judge of the behavior of nations, and will rule his own conduct as one of a nation.”

-Vol. 1 p.279

History, when taught by the principles set out by Charlotte Mason, enocurages children to relate to those unlike them; to humanize people from other nations and distant times.

“If he comes to think…that the people of some other land were, at one tome, at any rate, better than we, why, so much the better for him.”

-Vol.1, p.281

History has far more to offer our children that just the memorization of facts and dates. It can help to shape they character and guide the way they think.

Homeschool history living curriclum

Like many, I was taught history using a dry textbook followed by comprehension questions. These questions tested my ability to pick facts out of the text, but did not develop my person in any way. I consider the many years I spent sitting in those history lessons time wasted; little information was retained, no ideas imbued, and any interest I once had for history quashed. The great thoughts and personalities of history remained hidden from me until I began to learn alongside my children using the Charlotte Mason method.

Charlotte Mason History

Charlotte Mason advised us to take our time with history; to dwell on those time and people who inspire our children, instead of rushing through in the effrot to cover “everything”.

“Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period.” -Vol. 1, p.280

She also recommend the use of living books to teach history, specifically mentioning “Our Island Story” by H. E. Marshall  (Vol. 6, p.169) as the main text in the first two years (Form 1B and 1A), as well as reading well-written biographies of historical figures from Form 1A onwards.

Alternatively, many homeschooling families choose to use The Story of the World, by Susan Wise-Bauer as their main text or sole history curriculum. Another option is A Child’s History of the World by V. M. Hillyer.

Homeschool History Options

The Story of the World, Our Island Story and A Child’s History of the World are the three most popular choices of homeschool history curriculum.

This blog post aims to compare these three popular homeschool history texts, and highlight their strengths, weakness, and differences.

To help you further, I’ve made this Youtube video showing the books themselves, and discussing some of this details further. WATCH THIS VIDEO:

Story of the World

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

The Story of the World, by Susan Wise-Bauer is one of the most popular homeschool history curricula on the market. It was written to follow the classical educational model, however many CM families also use it.

The complete series consists of four volumes, which cover history chronologically from Ancient times through to the Modern age.

Story of the world review

In previous years we have  worked through Volume 1 (Ancient times), which covers world history from 7000B.C. to the Fall of Rome. However, for reasons I will explain later, we chose not to move onto Volume 2 – Medieval Times.

Each chapter is 3-4 pages long (A5), with plentiful black-and-white illusatrations and maps throughout. It is written in a conversational style, which appeals to many children, as it is easy to understand and is generally very entertaining.

The books do include Biblical stories and mythology. There has also been some concern voiced about the portrayal of Prophet Muhammad in Volume 2. I have not read this volume myself, so I cannot comment on the specifics.

Although the author makes a concerted effort to cover the history of many nations, it is still very much euro-centric world view, and so many families may feel the need to supplement this curriculum.

There are also optional Activity books available to go along with the main text. For every chapter in the main text, the activity book contains cross-references in encyclopedias, additional reading, extensive recommendations for audio-books and literature. The activity books also contain reproducible maps and coloring pages, as well as lists of crafts projects.

Our experience of using The Story of the World Vol. 1 was mixed. The children seemed to enjoy it, and found it fun and easy to understand, which was perfect for our first year homeschooling. It also gave me an idea of how to teach history in a home-setting, which was a very valuable lesson.

Unfortunately, the conversational, modern writing style did not encourage those “juicy” conversations that other living books can encourage.

I also found that the children had retained very little from the text a few days after the lesson. I also found the fast-paced nature of the book very frustrating, as the author has tried to cover so much history in just one book. Whilst I understand the thought-process behind that, I found that my children and I were not given the chance to form connections and relations with the material.

In hind-sight I could have slowed our progress down, and taken two years over the book, instead of one, adding in additional reading and other living books. However, as a new homeschool mum, I lacked the confidence to step away from the authors recommendations.

However, having spoken to many other homeschooling families, it seems that this is exactly what others have done; using The Story of the World as their “spine” and supplementing with their own resources and literature.

I feel that The Story of the World is a fantastic resource for teaching homeschool history. It is ideal for those who are uncomfortable teaching the subject and need some guidance, those new to home-education, or families who feel more confident reading modern English.

Personally, I would not class The Story of the World as a living book, as it did not inspire my children to great ideas, or spark interesting conversations. It is also not a book that I would pick up and read for fun, unlike other some other history books, that I will discuss later in this series.

The Story of the World is the perfect “middle-ground” for those interested in stepping away from the “textbook-workbook model” of teaching, but who are not yet comfortable or interested in using living books.

 

Our Island Story

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Our Island Story the primary history text recommended by Charlotte Mason in Volume 1 for forms 1B and 1A (children under 9 years-old).

This beautifully written book tells the story of Britain in chronological order from pre-history through to Queen Victoria. Each chapter is approximately 3-4 pages long and focuses on a historical figure, their story, moral character and contribution to the history of Britain.

Our Island Story review

The book also contains some poetry and Shakespeare quotes which could be used for further study and memorisation. There are also a few beautifully hand-painted illustrations in some chapters for the reader to enjoy. There is also list of Kings ad Queens at the beginning of the book, which could be useful when constructing your timeline or Book of the Centuries.

Unlike The Story of the World, there are no maps, and no accompanying activity books. If your children enjoys crafts and hands-on activities, you may choose to find these activities yourself.

The book is written in an older English, with richer language than most modern history books. It may take some time for children to get used to this language if the are not already accustomed to it.

It is written from an English (not British) Christian world view,  and this should be born in mind when discussing the Crusades and other such conquests within and around the UK.

Due to its world-view, and the fact it only covers the history of Britain, you may wish to supplement this book with additional reading.

We stopped using this book after six months as my son was finding the language difficult to understand and narrate from. However, I feel this book has a lot to offer and I hope to re-introduce it into their homeschool history curriculum sometime in the future.

Overall, I found this book excited the children’s imagination and filled their young minds with worthy ideas and beautiful stories. I would happily read this book myself for enjoyment and my own self-education!

A Child’s History of the World

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

A Child’s History of the World was written by V. M. Hillyer, the late Head Master of the Calvert School, Baltimore. Focusing on the stories of historical figures, it covers World History from pre-history all the way through to the Cold War. Although written in conversational, modern English, the language is rich and engaging.

Homeschool history living curriculum

There are black-and-white illustrations and maps scattered throughout the book. The chapters are approximately 4-5 pages long. There is no accompanying activity book, and so parents may wish to supplement with other material.

We primarily used the Audiobook version from Audible. The narrator was very entertaining and read the book beautifully. I would highly recommend it!

Although the author writes from a Western worldview, I felt that he was respectful to other faiths and people, a fact that may have been noted by the people behind the Ambleside online and Bookshark curriculum who have included it in their elementary years history curricula.

Through his writing, the author also highlights and raising questions about good character and morals throughout.

Please note, this book does contain Biblical stories and mythology. Also, as it is attempting to cover a large period of time in one volume, many important historical events are not included or are skimmed over. As the parent, you may wish to add in additional reading.

The book itself is paperback, self-published and not as attractive as the other homeschool history curricula mentioned. Despite this, A Child’s History of the World is an engaging introduction to world history for children aged 5-9 years old and well worth your consideration.

homeschool history living curriculum

These are the main three homeschool history curricula that you will see mentioned in literature-based, Classical and Charlotte Mason homeschools.

However, as I have hinted towards, there are many more options! In the next blog post and Youtube video, I will be discussing some alternative books and methods that we use to teach history in our homeschool.

Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you found these reviews helpful.

Don’t forget to WATCH THE VIDEO, and if you have any questions, please leave them for me in the comments below.

Peace and Love,

Charlotte Mason Picture study how to

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

FREE Student Planner for Charlotte Mason Homeschools

This FREE student planner has been created to help homeschooled students to plan, or keep a record of, their daily work. It’s also a fantastic way to help older students take responsibility for their independent work.

We created this FREE planner to help children stay motivated, and encourage punctuality, diligence, order and attentiveness in their education.

 

Charlotte Mason daily student planner checklist FREE Printable

 

The checklist covers every subject that the student is required to do every day in a Charlotte Mason homeschool, i.e. their daily instruction, along with how long each lesson should take, and the time frame within which all “daily instruction” must be completed.

“In the first place, there is a time-table, written out fairly, so that the child knows what he has to do and how long each lesson is to last. This idea of definitive work to be finished in a given time is valuable to the child, not only in training him in habits of order, but in diligence; he learns that one time is not  “as good as another”; that there is no right time left for what is not done in its own time; and this knowledge alone does a great deal to secure the child’s attention to his work.” – Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 p.142

 

ambleside homeschool planner

The planner has  “Time Frame” written across the top of the page, so you can set out for your child when “school-time” is for that day. If the work is not completed within the time set-out in my home, then there are consequences for my son. This teaches him to focus and be attentive to his work during those “school-hours”.

charlotte mason timetable

Charlotte Mason strongly recommends that lesson are kept short for young children,

“…the lessons are short, seldom more than twenty minutes in length for children under eight…” – Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 p. 142

and so we have included a space for you to fill in how long each lesson takes. Timings will vary depending on your child’s age and personality.

charlotte mason homeschool planner

We are using this planner/checklist ourselves alongside Year 2 of the Ambleside online curriculum, which adheres to the Charlotte Mason educational philosophy.

If you would like to see how we have adapted the Ambleside online curriculum to suit our family’s needs, CLICK HERE.

The subjects covered in their Daily Instruction, as outlined by the Ambleside Online curriculum, are:

  • Math
  • Reading
  • Foreign Language
  • Copywork
  • Exercise/ Physical activity
  • Narration (at least one a day)
  • Memorization & Recitation (In our home that means memorisation and recitation of Quran. In your home it may mean poetry, prose, Scripture or something else.)

The planner also includes a “Narration” extension page for students whose narrations are longer, and need more space than is given on the first page. These extension pages can be printed onto the back on the first page for more lengthy narrations. These pages also have a “date” marked on the top giving you the flexibility to use them separately if you wish, and not with the planner itself.

narration printable sheet

In addition to their “Daily Instruction”,  your children may also have other lessons to complete. These subjects typically vary from day-to-day and are often subjects done as a family, such as history, nature study, artist study etc. In addition to our “Daily Instruction” planner I would recommend your students are given a simple spreadsheet of  their timetable for these other important subjects,

In my own home, I have found this checklist to be an excellent way to motivate my son to complete his work diligently and finish within the time allowance set for him. The earlier he can complete his daily work, the more free time he has!

 

To get your FREE STUDENT PLANNER,
CLICK HERE

 

 

daily charlotte mason planner

I hope that this student planner helps your children to take responsibility for part of their education, and motivates them to be punctual, diligent, ordered and attentive in their education.

If you have any questions on how to use this planner/checklist with your family, please leave me a comment in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer it.

Peace and love,

Dr Gemma Elizabeth our muslim homeschool

 

Games and Activities to Teach Young Children a Foreign Language

foreign language games and activities for kids

Throw away the workbooks! Pack away the textbooks! Teaching a foreign language to a young child requires you to think differently about what learning looks like!

The most effective method of acquiring a foreign language is the same method as a child acquires their mother-tongue; through regular exposure to the language in their daily lives.

Charlotte Mason said that young children learn languages through, “the ear, and not the eye,” (Vol 1. p.301), and so when we begin teaching young children, initially it is the ear that needs to be trained as the child becomes accustomed to the sound of that new language.

Before we jump into workbooks and expensive curricula, teach your child to speak the language at home through play and by natural exposure to the language.

foreign language games children

This blog post has been written in collaboration with WordUnited, who gifted my family their write-and-wipe flashcards and compensated me for my time. Our Muslim Homeschool uses affiliate links in blog posts and the sidebar. Please see Disclaimer for more information.

How do we teach young children a foreign language?

Young children can learn a new language by hearing it used in their day-to-day lives, without the need to use extensive curricula.

“The child should never see French words in print until he has learned to say them with as much ease and readiness as if they were English.” Charlotte Mason (Vol. 1, p.301).

Ideally, this requires at least one of the parents at home to know this language to a basic level, or for them to employ someone else who does. However there are no end to private language tutors or classes available in most cities, as well as online.

French should be acquired as English is, not as a grammar, but as a LIVING SPEECH. To train the ear to distinguish and the lips to produce the French vocables is a valuable part of the education of the senses, and one which can hardly be undertaken too soon.” Charlotte Mason (Vol.1 p.301).

Once your children are familiar with the words, and how to use them in their speech, you can introduce them to the written appearance of those words. Before beginning them on workbooks, I would recommend using flashcards. Flashcards are an ideal way to introduce children to the written form of any langauge, and can be used in games and activities to help keep children engaged.

foreign language games and activities for kids

At what age should I start teaching a new language?

To put it simply, children should be exposed to the foreign language as early as possible. We all know from our own children, that at the age of two years-old, toddlers may have grasped only a handful of words. However by the time they become three, they are able to hold a conversation and articulate their needs and interests with relative ease.

During these 12 months, there has been no “formal” teaching. Rather the child has heard the language spoke frequently used in the context of real-life, and that is all he/she needed to learn to speak it.

Thee ages 2 and 3 years-old are critical in language development, and thus this is the ideal time to begin introducing a new language to them.

However, whatever age your children may be, I would recommend you begin talking to them in a foreign language as soon as finish reading this blog-post!

Teaching foreign language to kids

What is the best foreign language to teach a child?

This is of course a matter of opinion! We have chosen to teach Arabic because of its connection with our faith, and French because my husband’s Mauritian heritage.

Others may suggest Spanish, Mandarin, or even Latin. I would advise that you look at your own family, where you live and what languages would be most useful for your children’s future.

Games and Activities to Teach Young Children a Foreign Language

To see these activities in more detail, and watch my family playing these games…

WATCH THIS VIDEO!

1.Daily Language Time

For one hour everyday, have your family speak ONLY in the new language.

If they need something from you, they will have to ask for it a foreign language. Likewise, when you speak to them, speak to them in the new language. By doing this, you are putting the language in a real-life context that helps young children to learn.

Charlotte Mason tells us that “…the child thinks in sentences” and so the most effective way to learn a new language is to have the words put into the context of sentence and place.

2. What’s in the Box?

Fill a box with items you have in your home. Then pull one out at a time and ask your child (in the new language), “What’s in the box?” Pass the object to them and they should give you an answer in that language, in a full sentence if possible.

Why not put cutlery or plastic animals in the box, or try different vehicles, fruit and veg or other household items. The possibilities are endless!

3. At the shops

When shopping with your children, read out the shopping list in a foreign language and ask them to retrieve the items for you. If your child is older, they could even write out the shopping list in the new language for you.

This simple activity makes learning fun and interactive. Your children will not even realise that they’re having a language lesson!

learning foreign language for children

4. Colour-hunt

Call out the colour in the new language, and ask your children hunt for something that colour in the room and bring it back to you. Once they get used to that, you could begin to include numbers and other vocabularly: “I want three red cars, ” or “I want two balls.”

5. Get Moving!

This game is one of my favourites!

Make sure that your children have plenty of room to move about as you call out a command, such as “Run!” or “Jump!” in the foreign language. The children will then have to do that action until you call out the next one.

6. Sing along

Children have an incredible ability to retain songs, so use this innate ability to help them learn the new language!

Sing nursery rhymes and children’s songs in that language. If you don’t know any yourself, look on Youtube! There are so many in different languages that you can listen to for free.

7. Bi-lingual books

Read you children’s favourite bedtime stories to them in a foreign language. This is an easy and enjoyable way to add exposure to the language with very little effort on your part. You will be amazed at the selection of bi-lingual books available at the library for you to take out.

8. Flashcards

Once you children a comfortable understanding and using certain vocubulary in the context of their lives, you can begin to teach them how these words look in the written form and encourage them to write them themselves.

For this stage in the process, we use Write-and-Wipe Flashcards from Word United.

Word united Arabic flash cards

The Word United flashcards are available in English, Arabic, French, Spanish and German; teaching the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes and actions in each of these languages.

Each card shows the word or letter along with a beautiful high quality photo on one side; whilst the other side has that word written out, followed by a tracing and hand-writing exercise. These high quality cards are kept in a magnetically closing box, along with two wipe-able board pens.

Word united Arabic flash cards

These beautiful flashcards introduce children to the foreign language in it’s written form, and allowing them to have hands-on practice spelling the words too.

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.

Word united Arabic flash cards

 

Remember, very young children learn language through their ears, and not their eyes!

Hold back on workbooks and textbooks until you children are starting to understand the spoken language. The ages 2 and 3 years-old are critical in language development, and thus this is the ideal time to begin introducing a new language to them.

When your children are ready to move onto the written form of the language, try using bi-lingual books and flashcards, like the ones from Word United.

This will your children with a solid foundation with which to master another language and help them in their further study of that foreign language.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below. I would also love to hear how you have successfully taught your children another language.

Let us know in the comments below!

In need of your duas.

Peace and Love,

Our Muslim Homeschool Dr Gemma Elizabeth

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