Monday, June 29, 2009


This post is shamelessly for my own use. I am listing here the books I have found and now own, and (eventually) an indication for which year I may use them.

  • Anne of Green Gables - Year 5
  • Black Beauty - Year 4
  • The Call of the Wild - Year 6
  • Charlotte's Web - Year 1
  • The Cricket in Times Square - Year 1
  • From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - Year 3
  • Hans Brinker - Year 5
  • Heidi - Year 2
  • The Hobbit - Year 3
  • The House at Pooh Corner - Year K
  • The Incredible Journey - Year 4
  • The Jungle Book - Year 3
  • Kidnapped - Year 4
  • Little House in the Big Woods - Year 1
  • Lord of the Rings - Year 6
  • Now We are Six - Year 1
  • Peter Pan - Year K
  • Robin Hood - Year 2
  • The Secret Garden - Year 4
  • Treasure Island - Year 5
  • Watership Down - Year 5
  • The Yearling - Year 4?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Science Rotation

Years 1 to 6

Because we already own the World Book Childcraft series, we will be using this wonderful resource for Science in the early years. If you do not happen to own this series (which is WELL worth getting if you can find it) - I would recommend the Noeo Science series or Fulbright "Exploring Creation" series.

Nature Study is a major part of science at this stage. Note that there are other readings for Science and Nature in each year of study as well, which may not be "aligned" with the rotation. That is fine, the student will be able to handle it.

Rotation 1
  • World and Space
  • Find the Constellations - H. A. Rey AND/OR
  • * The Stars - H.A. Rey
H.A. Rey's constellation books draw the constellations differently than most astronomy books - and in a way that makes more sense. If you can find them, they are WELL worth it! Find the Constellations is great for the young student. The Stars is a great reference for mom or dad, works well for older students in the rotation, or is a nice addition if your student wants more after reading "Find the Constellations". I do recommend adding the Latin "true name" of each constellation into the pages of "Find the Constellations" (they are in the index)

Rotation 2
  • Green Kingdom
Rotation 3
  • About Animals
  • Feathered Friends
Rotation 4
  • About Me [anatomy]
Rotation 5
  • How Things Work [physics and mechanics]
  • Scientists and Inventors [from an older set]
In year 6, the student continues the rotation, doing the same rotation they did in year 1. They will understand the material much better.

Years 7-12

to be determined.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Yankee has arrived!

My granddaughter (whose online name is Yankee) was born this morning, around 10:00am(ish), weighing 6lbs, 10oz.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Year 1

Outdated - see here

This is the Maple Hill Academy Year 1 booklist, based on the research I have done, and what is a fit for my students.

Term numbers will be denoted by the number before the title as such: (1) Bookname. If there are no term numbers, the book is used for the entire term. (or has not been determined)

* denotes the book/resource is for the parent (at least mostly)

Download the file with the schedule for each term (36 weeks, in 3 - 12 week terms) from our Yahoo Group!

Family Rotation using Penny Gardner Storied Scriptures


Reading Instruction (as needed)

*Teach your child to read in Just 10 minutes a day - Sidney Ledson. (or other phonics)
(1)Primer - Harriette Taylor Treadwell
(1)First Reader - Harriette Taylor Treadwell


* Handbook of Nature Study - Anna Botsford Comstock - used for several years. 1911 version available here
* Wild Days - Karen Radcliffe
* Pocket Full of Pinecones - Karen Andereola
James Herriot's Treasury for Children - James Herriot

History - Family

Learn about Mom and Dad, events they remember, places they lived, etc.

History - Canada

(1,2)A Pioneer Story - Barbara Greenwood

History - World

(1,2) 50 Famous Stories Retold - James Baldwin (selected chapters)
(2,3) Viking Tales - Jeannie Hall - Part 1, chapters 1-11

Family World History Rotation


General Map Reading skills using map of the city
(1)Childcraft, "World and Space" - chapter "Where in the World?" (if available to you.) - or find some basic map reading information.
(1) Overview of 7 continents and the Oceans
(1,2,3) Paddle to the Sea - Holling


(3)Simple Copywork

(Read one poem a day - memorize 1 each term)
(1) A children's Garden of Verses - by Robert Louis Stevenson
(2) Now We are Six - A.A. Milne
(2) When we were very young - A.A. Milne
(3) Oxford Book of Children's Verse [if Available - very expensive] or other poem book

Read Aloud Literature
Aesop for Children - Milo Winter
Just So Stories - Rudyard Kipling
The Blue Fairy Book - Andrew Lang
Parables from Nature - Margaret Gatty

(Suggested to be read by student alone and narrated - however if student is not ready, you may do joint reading, or just read to them.)

(2) Follow My Leader - James Garfield
(3) Charlotte's Web - E. B. White

Additional Literature
(No narrations are required - can be family reads, or read during spare time.)
Pinocchio - Carlo Collodi
The Red Fairy Book - Andrew Lang
The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams
Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
St. George and the Dragon - Margaret Hodges
The Cricket in Times Square - George Selden and Garth Williams
Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt - Barbara Smucker
A Fiddle for Angus - Budge Wilson


Basic Observation Drawing - some resources

Picture Study
Family Rotation

will vary due to interest... suggestions (for both boys and girls)
  • Plastic Canvas
  • Spool Knitting
  • Bead Buddies
  • Rug Hooking
  • Woodworking (free days at many renovation stores)

  • Suzuki Violin - with instructor
  • My First Piano Adventures - taught by parent

Foreign Language - German

Powerglide German course for Children

Alternate choices - French, Spanish, or other desired.


Polite Moments - Gary Maldaner - if I can find a source in Canada

(extra badges may be worked on as desired)

Otters - Blue Paw (Activity)
Otters - Red Paw (Helping)
Otters - Tan Paw (Handicraft)
Otters - Safety Badge

(note - your Otter should plant a tree and look after it this year for the Green Paw)
UPDATED: 3 Nov 09

Monday, June 22, 2009

eBook Resources

Here are some resources for free eBooks

The Baldwin Project (some can be downloaded for free - or read online)

Lit 2 Go - looks promising, has MP3's and PDF's.

More will be added as discovered.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


A lot of the resources and books used on Ambleside Online and Maple Hill Academy are available for free in an ebook format. Books that are no longer protected by copyright (in the U.S. (and Canada?) this happens when the author has been dead for 75 years) are being put into an electronic format at a very quick rate by volunteers at various websites, including Project Gutenberg.

These ebooks do a lot to allow inexpensive homeschooling. However, very few people want to spend all their time reading on a computer. There is a new generation of eBook readers (like Kindle from Amazon) - however, these eBook readers are hundreds of dollars. There is, fortunately, a less expensive alternative.

PDA's (Personal Digital Assistants) have been around since the 90's. I bought my first Palm Pilot in aproximately 1992 or 1993 - and I found it to be very useful. My current Palm Pilot is quite old, and is certainly not anywhere near as powerful as the latest PDA's - but is still very useful. I bought it used a few years ago for $20. It is a Palm m125 - the first to use an SD card - and about the oldest that I would consider still useful. With the software available, it makes a good eBook reader.

The software you need for a PDA to make it read ebooks are: Mobipocket reader, and Adobe Reader for Palm. There is also Documents to Go (which came with the Palm Pilot) that will read Office files.

You can, of course, also use the PDA for your schedule, to do list, and phone numbers, as well as the many other programs available for a Palm Pilot or PDA.

I like using the Palm Pilot, because I can take a large selection of books with me, for about the same space as a deck of cards.

But - sometimes you just want or need the book on paper. There are options there too. With a Laser Printer, you can print the book for a few pennies per page. We just bought a colour laser printer for $150 (plus tax of course) - but there are monochrome printers for $80. The toner cartridges look pretty expensive in comparison to our Inkjet ink cartridges - until you realize that you should be able to print about 10-20x the number of pages on a cartridge!

You can save paper by printing on both sides - it takes a bit of practice (unless you have a printer that does it automatically) - but it really isn't that hard. If printing on both sides, use a heavier weight of paper - around 22-24lb, otherwise you might see through the paper. Adobe reader, or (sometimes) your printer driver, can print in "booklet" format, which puts 4 pages on a page (2 per side) - in a way that you can fold the paper to make a booklet 5.5"x8.5". This works well if the font was large enough so you can read it this way.... I do not plan to do this for year 1 or 2 but may in future years.

If printing on your printer would be too expensive, you can take the files to a place like Office Depot or Staples for printing. The costs are similar to their copying costs, and they can bind it for you.

You can put your printouts in a binder, take it to a place for spiral or comb binding, or bind it yourself. One method is buying book tape, and taping the edges. I have also successfully bound books using the method in this tutorial.

Occasionally, it is just as inexpensive to buy the book - so do try to figure out the costs.

[Just a little update from 2011.... we do have a Kindle now and would highly recommend it.]
[update Jen 2012 - 64 Bit Windows driver for Palm Pilot may be downloaded here]

Friday, June 19, 2009

Physical Education on a budget

I will admit that we are not the most sport-minded family in the world. It is very unlikely that we will be spending a lot of money and time putting our children into different sports. Yet, it is important for children to use their bodies, and to get proficient with them.

Our main resource for physical education, (other than just running around playing) is the YMCA. It is a very economical choice - a membership for the whole family is a small amount per month compared to what a gym membership costs for a single person at a lot of gyms. Our Y has exercise equipment for adults and teens, various classes, a swimming pool, babysitting (for when I want to work out or swim), and a lot of drop-in classes for the kids. For people whose funds are really tight, they can reduce your fees to what is possible for your family.

Our children have gone to drop-in gymnastics for pre-schoolers (not on a regular basis), and have taken swim lessons since they could walk. My oldest son may start drop-in tae kwan doe lessons this fall, if our schedule allows it.

Check out the Y in your neighbourhood if you don't already belong!

MEP 101

There is a good entry on this Blog ("A peaceful day") on how to start with MEP, which is the math program used at Maple Hill.

Picture Study

A lot has been said about Picture Study by other Charlotte Mason followers - enough that I feel at the moment that there isn't much to say. Pick an artist, select 6 pictures, and study them for a half a term. Study one picture a week. If possible, get a good sized version of the picture for the family to look at - and if possible get or print picture (snap-shot) sized versions for each child to keep in their "Book of Masterpieces"

The "Higher Up and Further In" blog has a good write-up on how to do this.

Another post on "Higher Up and Further In" mentions that it is important to pick artists that the child is likely to like for a child's first exposure to picture study. Pictures with action in them for boys can make a big difference.

Once you have your children enjoying picture study, if you need suggestions for artists and pictures to study, you can join the Art Schedule of Ambleside Online - but remember that you do not have to be bound by their schedule.

2009/10 Selections. This year, I am alternating the AO selections, and selections that I chose. This year. In general, I intend to include each year a Canadian Artist, an artist that specializes in Nature, and a religious artist. This year, the Canadian Artist also specializes in Nature, so I selected Norman Rockwell for an artist, as his Scouting pictures, as well as his scenes from life have always intruged me.

The selections:
  • Robert Bateman. (Famous Canadian Nature artist.) - note that his pictures will NOT be in the public domain, so I recommend getting a good book from the library.
  • Raphael Sanzio (Italian Renaissance)
  • Norman Rockwell (Famous American Illustrator) - also pictures are NOT in public domain.
  • John Singer Sargent (American)
  • Claude Monet (French Impressionist)
  • tbd

I have not picked out all the artists yet for the 2009/2010 year.... I want to find some good exciting pictures for the first artist - and I plan to include Robert Bateman (a Canadian artist that shows nature), and Norman Rockwell. These are more recent artists, so I may have to deal with copyright issues.... but I think these artists will be worth it to start a love of Picture Study.
[update - the artists have been selected for 2009/2010]

Although we are not following the Ambleside Online Schedule for artists, there are a few Yahoo groups that have the pictures for their study available. It is worth joining these groups and checking there for the artists we are doing first when looking for pictures. (The first 2 have the pictures for 8.5 x 11. The other groups have the pictures in smaller sizes for albums or card games. Note that pictures are sometimes cropped to fit the size)

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I have done a little work in Year 0 to train handwriting - although only done when my student wanted to. Having downloaded a font from Donna Young's site, my son would trace letters to his grandmother. He has made some very nice looking (short) letters to her using this method.

It may surprise a lot of people, but I advocate teaching students to write in cursive handwriting before they learn to print. I read a few articles on this (one here) and it makes sense to me. The strokes are easier, it re-inforces left-to-right reading and writing, looks nicer, and is also easier for a left-handed student.

Although I probably could teach my students with the font and some practice, I wanted some guidance. For an inexpensive amount, I purchased the "Cursive First" book/workbook. I have done some work with my son, and it is a nice program. (Because it was designed to go along with their reading program, which we didn't use, it mentions a few terms I wasn't familiar with - however this may be improved in future releases, as I gave feedback to the author.

Although some work needs to be done to learn each letter, Printing/Handwriting practice should not be rows and rows of repetative letters. It is better to have a few "perfect" strokes than pages of sloppy work. This does mean that you need to sit with the student while they are first learning, and help them attend to making those nice strokes. Once a few letters are known, practice should include short words, then phrases, with meaning for the student.

Once all the letters are known, short thoughts taken from readings should be made into a copybook. These thoughts and sayings should be short to begin with. Some should be chosen by the student, but some may also be chosen by the teacher/mother, either to practice certain letters, or for other reasons.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Preschool Rush

It seems that everyone today is in a big rush to teach their children. Children now go to school based daycares or "pre-schools" as young as age 2 or younger. 3 year olds spend their time going to various lessons. Music lessons, swimming lessons, gymnastics, dance class, Karate, hockey, soccer, not to mention reading, writing and arithmetic. I often see children at the "Y" going from one activity to another, to another. Even homeschoolers are often busy going from activity to activity, and doing "Letter of the week" activities.

It is very easy to get caught up in so many activities that everyone is worn out. Children don't get the time and opportunity to play, pretend, and explore - all very important activities to learning.

Yet - I feel that there CAN be beneficial activities. Charlotte Mason advocated no lessons before age 6. I understand where she is coming from seeing how things are today. Yet - I have had personal benefits from music lessons as a youngster. I also was the child that learned to read by age 3 because my older sister decided to play "school" one day. (This was the early 70's - parents were GREATLY discouraged from teaching reading before school.) I needed to see the doctor often because of a heart murmer, and I was easily entertained with a deck of cards (learning a lot of math), or a few books, while I was waiting in the office. (Apparently I would entertain all the other people waiting as they would wait to see if I would see a card combination in a math game I would play...)

So - what to do? I say - keep it limited, keep it simple, and keep it fun!

I limit to generally 3 activities...

1) My children do swimming lessons at the Y from the time that they start to walk. For me, this is as much a safety issue as anything - it is good physical education, and my students love them! If my students didn't like them, we would still do them, but with breaks in between lessons instead of fairly continually.

2) My children do suzuki music lessons - see my post on music lessons

3) We do other occasional activities. For instance, we are currently taking a "Movement with Meaning" course - a "baby sign language" course for children age 2-5.

I do do some reading and math activities with my children, including some light phonics instruction. In our Kindergarten year of Year 0, we do a bit of reading most days. But only if the student is enjoying it.

What I DO do is make sure my Year 0 students have time to play, time to pretend, time to explore, and time outdoors. The little bit of scheduled activities we do are carefully limited. I occasionally get people suggesting that we should do this activity or that activity - and I have had to carefully consider what to include.

Note that these instructions are also important for Year K

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Academy Sayings

"Practice Makes Hard Things Easy" - Heather Stovold.

"First you get Tired, then you get Strong" - Mrs. J

"I am, I can, I ought, I will" - Charlotte Mason.

"Do Your Best" - Lord Robert Baden-Powell

"Be Prepared" - Lord Robert Baden-Powell

Friday, June 12, 2009


The Wikipedia article about Charlotte Mason says:
In April 1905, she added Aids to Scouting by Robert Baden-Powell to the syllabus of the Parents' Union School. Later, Baden-Powell credited a governess trained by Mason, coupled with the reputation of Mason herself, for suggesting the educational possibilities of scouting. This, amongst other influences, lead to Scouting for Boys and the formation of the Scouting movement.

As a person who has been a Scout Leader or a Guide Leader for over 15 years, I have seen the advantages in the principles of Scouting in the life of young people. Scouting should be a part of every Charlotte Mason based homeschool.

In Canada, there are a few options available. Assuming you are English Speaking, the options that I am aware of are:
Quebec, and a few other provinces have a French based Scouting program as well, whose name escapes me.

Because I feel that the BPSA does a better job of promoting the original traditional ideals of Scouting, my students will be involved in it as "Lone" members. Because my church uses Scouts Canada as a main portion of their youth program for boys, my sons will also belong to Scouts Canada.

Recommendations for badges to work on in each year will be given - however students should be motivated to work on badges themselves.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Music Lessons in the Homeschool

"Violin Practice"

Musical instruction provides many benefits. It is great to see the sense of accomplishment on the face of a child as they play a song they love on an instrument for friends and family. They learn discipline, and that working hard produces results. There is so much more they gain, that it is hard to express. There is even research that suggests that music makes children smarter, and better at math.

Overall - it is fun!

I am not going to presume to tell you which instrument your students should learn - although I will tell you my plan.

Although Charlotte Mason did not generally advocate set lessons (in any subject) for children under the age of 6, I feel that the thoughts of some educators that came after her can be looked at. Please see my post on this topic. In this case, I feel that the work of Dr. Suzuki and his work with teaching young children to play the violin should not be ignored.

I feel that Suzuki music lessons on an instrument provide so much for children. My sister was a young Suzuki violin student starting in 1965, and although she does not regularly play violin, she can when she wants to. She also easily learned other musical instruments that interested her. I personally took Yamaha Organ Lessons (a somewhat similar program) starting at age 3, and I also learn instruments fast. We were also both gifted in math.... if it really is related.

At the least in Year 0, you should provide much quality music for your child to hear. This does not have to be a sit-down affair, but may be played in the background as they go to sleep, as they play, or in the car. My 3 year old daughter, Echo, regularly puts on a Suzuki violin CD by herself as she plays. I also recommend starting Suzuki lessons. If your child seems drawn to an instrument, see if there is a Suzuki instructor. (Note - make sure it is a Suzuki certified instructor if you are paying for Suzuki lessons! Many teachers use the books, without using the methods.)

In Year 0 or higher, I recommend learning some type of instrument. This may seem daunting if you are not musical yourself. If you find a good teacher, this will be quite easy. This is also my recommendation. However, if this is not feasible, there are other options. This blog has a good article on teaching anything (including music) when you don't already know it. Keep in mind that instruction by a person who is not qualified to be a teacher can end up limiting the student in that instrument. This happened to Dr. Suzuki himself, as well as many other people. If the student later goes to a teacher, the teacher and student may be frustrated while fixing bad habits in technique. However, it can be satisfactory within those limits - and this method will be used in my own homeschool.

If Money is Tight, (as it often is) - don't give up the hope of playing instruments! Music programs from places like Universities, Music Conservatories, or associated with symphonies may provide bursaries to students that need the assistance. Bursaries will not pay the entire cost, but can make a huge difference. Another option is mentioned above - learning ahead and teaching yourself. If you don't have any instruments, buy an inexpensive recorder (they have them at the dollar store here!), and download the first few lessons from the Nine Note Recorder website! If it goes well, the course is very inexpensive to buy. Recorder can be beautiful, and the site has many resources.

Our Homeschool Plan

Throughout - provide a variety of instruments. We have over the last few years bought or made cymbals, maracas, child-sized guitars (inexpensive), a xylophone, can drums and more.

Year 0

Suzuki Violin. - taught by Suzuki teacher

Year 1

Suzuki Violin - taught by Suzuki teacher
Piano - "My First Piano Adventures" - taught by me. (I play some piano...)

Later Years

continue with Violin and Piano - provide opportunities for self-teaching other instruments as can be afforded and as interest exists. (ie, recorder, guitar.) These other instruments would be only as the student is interested.

Remember, your choice of instruments and programs is up to you.... but do something, even if only an inexpensive instrument like a recorder or harmonica!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Canadian History

See History Plan

Well, still working at getting Canadian resources together....

I think A Pioneer Story by Barbara Greenwood might be a good resource for year 1 or 2 - it is a fictional family, but is instructive on what live was like in parts of Canada in about 1840.

I have also found "Stories of the Maple Land" (Tales of the Early Days of Canada for Children) by Katherine Young (published 1898) - it seems to be from the viewpoint of a maple tree (at least at the beginning?) - probably also a year 1 or 2 resource....

Just a few thoughts on what I need to find yet.....

Something on the explorers, including Franklin
General Wolfe
The War of 1812 - hopefully find a good biography for Laura Secord
Alexander Graham Bell
1867 and the birth of Canada
The Famous 5 and the "Persons Act" - the 5 women that fought for women to be declared Persons
WWI heros
The Halifax Explosion
WWII heros
Banting and Best, and the discovery of Insulin
The Avro Arrow

Older students could watch the CBC History of Canada series - but not for younger students.

New Resource!!! - Canadian History through Literature list - I will be figuring out more through this resource.


As well as other little items to work with Canadian pride - something Canadians don't necessarily work towards.... - Stuff from "Canadian Minutes"

Also, want to make sure I cover Canadian Art..... one artist I tend to do more than once is Robert Bateman - who does amazing Natural Art.

Students will have a "Canadian" Notebook to note items of Canadian Pride


History is a subject that I am struggling with determining our program at this moment. Part of it, is that I know that "History is written by the victors". Imagine how recent history would be written if Germany won WWII.

History is also viewed differently by different countries at the same time... Look at the U.S. Revolutionary war. Americans call it the Revolutionary war. I believe I have heard that in the U.K, it is called something like the North American Rebellion. Ask an American and a Canadian who won the War of 1812.

Even in areas of the same country, history can be seen differently. Ask various Canadians from different provinces about Louis Riel, and see the wide variety of what was taught in Canadian History classes (in Canada!) He was a rebel, or a hero, or maybe someone barely heard of - all depending on where you grew up.

And all of this is recent history. Who knows the truth of the more distant history?

Add to that, the fact that the history I learned in school (especially Canadian History) was SO boring that I only retained bits and pieces. And then I learned about some events in Canadian History that should have been at least mentioned in school, but never was, has left me confused and saddened.

So - since the "taste" of history I have been left with is, to say the least, bad.... plus I have very little knowledge of what "should" be taught, one might wonder why history at all?

Well, I think history does a few things for a person
  1. It helps give a person identity - a feeling of belonging, and who they are.
  2. It helps a person see the consequences of actions - natural consequences - without having to feel the consequences directly themselves.
  3. As a part of the previous point - it helps a person not repeat the "mistakes of history"
  4. It gives a knowledge of events that might be mentioned or referenced - a cultural awareness. References might be in literature or stories, or in life.
  5. It can be a fantastic story in itself - at least when taught the Charlotte Mason way
  6. A knowledge of broader history can make the decisions or thoughts of people in history make more sense. For instance, a family moving to Canada in 1847 makes more sense when you realize they were from Ireland, and you know about the Great Potato Famine.
My understanding is that Charlotte Mason recommended that History be taught chronologically. I have also heard that her schools would do a rotation for children within a span of a few years - with children joining and leaving the rotation each year. This means that History will be a good subject for Family study. I am doing some of history the Charlotte Mason way - but some I will be doing differently.

I am breaking History into 3 categories. Most of the Charlotte Mason curriculums I have seen break it into 2 - World History, and U.S. History. This doesn't meet my objectives.

My 3 categories:
  1. Family History. This will be done in Reverse. I feel that a Family History Notebook will be important to keep things straight. The student will be able to relate to the current history as it isn't as far removed. Major events in the country of the ancestor being looked at, and in the world that would affect the ancestor would be looked at.
  2. Canadian History. (Of course, if you are from a different country, use yours.)
  3. World History.

Geography Overview

Geography is a Family Study topic. Older children will have more required of them than others. Children join the Rotation in Year 2.

Year 1 is an opportunity in basic map reading. Children should be given a map book of their city (or rural area), and shown how it works. they can have the map book in the car, and follow along with their fingers as you drive to places. (If you go on a trip, you can get inexpensive maps so they can follow on the map. My family did this on summer vacations where we traveled through various states and provinces - each child with a map!) You may be able to get maps free from the tourist association of places you will be visiting, or if you are part of an Auto club like CAA or AMA.

Another part of Year 1 is an overview of the 7 continents and the Oceans. This should be done with a Globe, as well as an atlas or world map. Children should be able to recognize their own country, as well as any with significance. (Like countries where grandparents live.)

If you own the Childcraft Set, the book "World and Space" has a chapter called "Where in the World?" that covers some basics on map reading.

Family Rotation
Any children that have not done Year 1 should do the Year 1 activities. All children should also have their own city map books to use in the car. (read Year 1...)

1st : Australia (and New Zealand), Antarctica
2nd : North America (including Canadian (or US) specific geography
3rd: South America
4th: Europe (incluing Russia)
5th: Asia
6th: Africa

Children should also look at maps, and mark places that occur in their reading...

As well Children should be able to do these age appropriate things:
  • about 8-10 - Use a compass, and be proficient at following a map, although not necessarily use them together. (by age 10 this should be a topigraphical map, including elevations)
  • about 11+ - Use compass and map together to find their way (including adjusting for declination, and without a GPS) - Orienteering is a fun sport to encourage this.
  • about 13+ - Sketch a map of an area accurately, and pretty much to scale.

Math Plan

My overall plan involves using the MEP (Mathematics Enhancement Program) for the first years of math, and "Life of Fred" for the later years. This is my goal, however math is a subject that needs to be catered to the needs of the student. On my Math Overview page, I list some free and inexpensive alternatives, enhancement activities, and basics on figuring out where to start if your student is not a year 1 student. For the later years, you may wish to change the order of topics if needed for other subjects (for instance, you may need Trig earlier for physics.)

Year 0

I do not advocate specific instruction on math for children in Year 0 (preschool ages) except for day to day life and regular play. However, many math concepts can be introduced lightly in life. Simple counting of real life objects. (With young children of age 2 or 3, start with the concept of 1, 2, and more than 2 - with real things. Don't proceed to higher numbers until this is sure.) The older child can do estimation of numbers with you using small items like seads. Other things I have done...

  • provide puzzles of the right difficulty.
  • Lego's and other building blocks provide math skills and engineering skills (just let them play)
  • mosaic boards / peg boards.... light brites. (adds practice with fine motor skills too)
  • Practice "Left" and "Right" through games
  • Maze workbooks are fun
  • The occasional Dot-to-Dot can be fun (but can be overdone too)
  • Opportunities to play with playing cards
    • matching numbers
    • sort by colour
    • sort by number
    • sort by suit
    • sort numerically by suit
    • War - introduces Greater than and Less than

  • Opportunities to play board games with adult/older kids (counting squares, dice numbers)
  • Dominoes - matching, adding....

Children should get opportunities to do Year 0 activities throughout later years...

Year K

Year 1


    Math is a subject that many parents dispair of teaching. Those that are good at math can have problems if their children don't find it easy - not knowing how to explain in a manner that makes sense to the child. Those that are not good at math, or are even math-phobic find it even more daunting.

    However, math can be fun! We are fortunate that there are resources out there that can teach you and your children math; not just a step-by-step "trust me, this is how you do it" type of methods, but actually how to think about math, why an answer is the answer, different correct ways to get the answer, and how it works in real life.

    In the early years, it is important for your child to work with real items - preferably items that the child likes, like lego's, sea shells, buttons, or little cars. Domino's and playing cards can add fun to math.

    Overview, Years 1-6

    At Maple Hill Academy, we use the free Mathmatics Enhancement Program (MEP) course at

    You will need to email them to get the password for some of the pdf pages, (this is to protect the information from the UK students who are doing this program in the schools....) - however, they are very happy to help homeschoolers.

    The MEP course is very CM friendly. Although the lessons may be a little long for a while, as you get used to the program, most families can do the lessons in 15 to 20 minutes a day. If you are a family that takes longer, just set a timer. Also, there is a variety of types of activities.

    You need to download the Lesson Plans, the Practice Book, and extras like the Copy Masters, Number Cards, etc. It is tempting to just give the child the practice book, and just do that. Don't give in to temptation! The lessons have a lot of fun activities that lay a foundation for later work.

    If you are not starting Maple Hill in Year 1, you may need to evaluate in which year of MEP to start your child. The course is challenging, and requires children to think about math in a different way than most math courses. I recommend starting a child in an earlier year (working quickly through it if the child is able) instead of starting at a point where you may need to move them back if the work proves too challenging. In general, I would say that if you are starting Maple Hill Years 1, 2, or 3 - start in MEP at Year 1. Maple Hill Years 4 or 5, start in MEP Year 2 or 3. Don't worry, MEP year 6 is fine for pre-algebra courses. (See below if your child is starting Maple Hill Year 6 or above.)

    Overview, Years 5-12

    Starting in year 5, Maple Hill Academy starts to switch to the Life of Fred Books. However, as an alternative there is a couple of programs from the makers of MEP, that are well worth looking at. They are here as an alternative, as they are free, and very well done.

    MEP years 7-9 are a very good program... however it was developed for students that have NOT done the MEP years 1-6. Year 7 is reportedly easier than MEP 4 or 5. Start here if you are starting Maple Hill Academy in year 6 - 9, and have not done the earlier MEP courses.

    GCSE is High School Level courses. I have not researched them deeply, but they are supposed to be good.

    The Life of Fred Books will be used at Maple Hills Academy in years 5-12.

    Practice Math Facts for Free

    It is possible to practice math for free - and have fun doing it! And this is a great use for decks of cards that are missing some cards..... turn them into "Math Decks"

    Remember the game of War? (If not, check the link...) - turn it into fun practice! (Remove the face cards or use J as 11, Q as 12, K as 13 if you want your children to know facts including those numbers.... but start with them removed. an Ace is a 1 (and is therefore low....))

    • > and < - play the basic game... greatest wins
    • addition - show 2 cards and add.... greatest wins
    • adv. addition - show 3 cards, or 4 cards and add....
    • subtraction - show 2 cards, subtract smaller from larger
    • multiplication - show 2 cards and multiply
    • adv. multiplication - show 3 or 4 cards and multiply
    • fractions - show 2 cards... smallest is on top for the fraction.
    • improper fractions - show 2 cards... largest is on top for the fraction
    • Integer addition - Red cards are Negative, Black cards are Positive. Add the 2 cards
    • Integer subtraction - Red cards are Negative, Black cards are Positive. Subtract the 2nd card from the 1st card
    • Integer Multiplication - Red cards are Neg. Black cards are Pos. Multiply the 2 cards
    • Wild - show 3 cards... player does whatever math they want with the 3 cards.
    • Integer Wild - Red cards Neg. Black cards Pos. Otherwise same as Wild
    Another fun game is "Krypto". You can buy Krypto cards at a teacher supply store - but from my memory of the game, you should be able to play with playing cards from 1-9. Maybe add a couple of jokers to be a zero. You deal out 5 cards to each person (they can't look until everyone is ready), then place face up a single card that is the answer. Everyone lifts up their cards, then figures out math to use all their cards, and come up with the answer. When you think you have an answer, you yell out Krypto! - then you have to explain how you get the answer. You can add, subtract, multiply, divide, and even add exponents for advanced kids. (You can play with just add and subtract, but there may be combinations that don't have an answer.)

    Example - I get cards 3, 8, 2, 1, 4 and the answer is 6. I come up with 4 - 3 - 1 + 8 - 2 = 6.

    My sister and I would play, and would pretty much pick up the cards and yell Krypto immediately as we played it so often.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Math Resources

    Math Courses - MEP math course - free! - The main math course of Maple Hill Academy - another free math program - I have not researched this course, but have listed it as a possible alternative. - Life of Fred Books - a set of books that teach math concepts in a story format. Starts at fractions. - Probably will be used at Maple Hill Academy starting around year 7.

    Math Enrichment Activities - Monthly fun math puzzles and challenges - part of Maple Hill Academy - Links to uses for real life math, puzzles, etc.

    Living Math Book Resources - source of info on "Living" Math books

    Maple Hill Academy Opens Soon!

    Hi everyone! Just thought I'd say hello.

    This website will have my plans for our Charlotte Mason based homeschool. As my time is fairly limited, it will take some time before all the plans are available.

    There are a lot of different sites out there with Charlotte Mason plans, but I haven't found one that totally fit my family, so I'm making one. If this is a good fit for you, feel free to use it - but don't take it and claim it as your own.

    Hope that this site will be a good help for you!