Nature Journals Done Charlotte Mason Style in MTMM

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Nature Journals Done Charlotte Mason Style

Point to some lovely flower or gracious tree, not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God.  (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, page 80)

Hiking in God’s Creation As a Family

When I see a beautiful sunrise or sunset, I catch my breath!  Not only because I am looking at something lovely, but because I see the Creator in it!  Psalm 19:1  The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.

Sunrise in South Dakota

I believe this is what Charlotte Mason saw, and that is why she loved the idea of keeping a nature journal!  Many of us have read Charlotte Mason’s Volumes, and we long to instill this love of nature in our children.  We aspire to our children looking at nature in awe.  But, more so, we hope our children look deeply at nature in awe, and the closer they look, they delight in God’s hand in it all.

Our ideal picture of keeping a nature journal may not match our reality of trying to keep a nature journal.

I see many a homeschool moms trying to duplicate Charlotte Mason’s ideal picture of keeping a nature journal in their daily lives.  However, time constraints, weather constraints, and just daily life’s constraints and responsibilities prevent nature walks and nature journals from happening.  As a young mom, I remember being incredibly inspired to keep a nature  journal having read Charlotte Mason’s works.  I recall taking my little sons on a nature walk.  I believe my oldest son was 4 years old, and my youngest was just barely 1 year old and in a stroller.  Our house was in town, and not in the most affluent area, mind you.  We were young, and the house we could afford had a very small backyard.  As we walked, there wasn’t much nature; there was much concrete.

A Failed Nature Walk

We tried to sketch bugs, frogs, and butterflies.  I was upset my 4 year old son’s nature journal entries looked more like unknown blobs.  I took it over, sketched the best frog I could, and had him rewrite the word ‘frog’ a few times so it was legible as a caption.  Failure.  I knew it.  NOT, what Charlotte Mason envisioned.  My son actually asked me to put aside the nature journal, as it just didn’t ‘turn out right.’ Hmmmm.  Not what I was hoping for in a nature walk.

Nature Journals As a Focus in MTMM

It turned out my sons just needed to mature a little.  They needed years in the Psalms in the Bible and in lovely Christian-based studies of life science to appreciate nature. In short, they needed to love God’s creation and mature.  I also needed to mature.  It became clear, I needed to realize I couldn’t do everything well all at once.  Hence, the reason nature journals are added as the focus of one of the Heart of Dakota guides.  Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM) to be exact!  One year to hone in on this, to do it right, to make a nature journal my sons felt proud of!  There are other years Heart of Dakota guides include the concept of ‘nature journals’ as well.  Just in the form of science notebooking entries, amazing God-honoring experiments, outdoor activities, etc.  But, nature journals themselves SHINE in MTMM!

One of Riley’s Nature Journal Entries
Skills leading up to nature journals help students keep a nature journal they are proud of!

So, as you are feeling inspired yet overwhelmed by Charlotte Mason’s ideals on nature walks and nature journals, know they are coming! They are an amazing part of MTMM, and they will come at a time your child can actually feel proud of what they are recording in their nature journals.  Other HOD guides lay the groundwork for this.  John Audubon’s bird studies, Arabella Buckeley’s plant and bird studies, Fulbright’s astronomy study, and so many more – lead the way for students to truly be able to fully enjoy the compilation of a nature journal!  Likewise, step-by-step Draw and Write… drawing assignments,  history projects, history notebooking entries, and science experiments help students acquire the skills necessary to be able to create a nature journal they can be proud of.

Classic poetry study further inspires nature journal entries!
MTMM draws upon all students have learned previously, so they can keep a nature journal they love!

So, this blog’s focus is Charlotte Mason’s nature journals and how HOD has this covered in such a beautiful way that you don’t have to feel the need to add it on your own to other years!  HOD’s guides all include celebrating and showcasing a love of the Creator’s handiwork.  But, MTMM draws upon all children have learned previously, so they can focus on keeping a nature journal they’ll love for years to come.

Common topics for nature journals make it easy to keep a journal wherever you live!
Two days in each unit of MTMM focus on nature journaling using lessons from Nature Drawing and Journaling.  In this book, award-winning artist Barry Stebbing shares 40 years’ worth of insights on studying nature and keeping a nature journal. Full-color illustrations, inspirational quotes, journal entries, and copies of Stebbing’s own journal will have you making your own Charlotte-Mason style nature journal in no time.
You may find you want to keep your own journal alongside your student! But, no comparing – every journal is precious to the one creating it!
Clear instructions, poignant reflections, and space for your work are provided in this spiral-bound softcover book. Also plans include over 47 nature-related art lessons to guide your student in learning to sketch and appreciate the outdoors. Art lessons and nature journal sessions are scheduled twice weekly for the student to enjoy in Missions to Modern Marvels. The nature-themed poetry of Wordsworth, Longfellow, and Whitman is scheduled once weekly to enhance the nature journal sessions.
William Wordsworth’s Poetry
Nature journals are covered beautifully in HOD, so there is no need to try to ‘add them in’ other years.
So, rest assured!  Nature journals Charlotte Mason-style are a part of HOD’s guides.  First, in the form of loving the Lord’s Creation. Next, in the way of learning to draw and record thoughts well. Finally, in the fruition of keeping a nature journal in MTMM.  I hope this helps you enjoy the journey of Charlotte Mason style skills leading up to the actual keeping of a nature journal in MTMM, knowing this is covered beautifully in HOD already!!!
Have fun seeing your own student’s nature journal come to life in MTMM!
In Christ,
Julie

Alternating Inspirational and Disciplinary Subjects, Like Charlotte Mason Did

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason structured her students’ school days by alternating inspirational and disciplinary subjects.

There are many ways we can structure our homeschool days!  Blessedly, with Heart of Dakota, we can choose the structure we most prefer. We can disperse our boxes of plans throughout the day in varying ways. So, we might choose a structure that is different from another family’s structure.  But, both can be right!  As we begin pondering this, we should ask what Charlotte Mason’s thoughts on the matter were.

As we can see, Charlotte Mason  put much thought into the structure of the day.  She especially paid close attention to the order of subjects. Plus, she did so by considering something we might not often consider!  What’s that, we may ask?  Well, it’s alternating inspirational and disciplinary subjects. But, what does that really mean?  To answer that question, we can first look at the difference between inspirational and disciplinary subjects.

So, what is the difference between inspirational and disciplinary subjects?

In general, Charlotte Mason categorized disciplinary subjects as skill-based. In contrast, she thought of inspirational subjects as being more content-based. She considered inspirational subjects as those that take thought. In contrast, she labeled disciplinary subjects as those that can be painstaking, requiring repeated practice to acquire skills. However, she found she could not place subjects exclusively in one category.  Based on the assignment, she could place subjects in both categories. So, how we categorize a subject depends on how we teach the subject. However, we can typically place a subject more in one category than the other.

We can often place disciplinary subjects in mathematics, phonics, reading instruction, geography, handwriting, dictation, English/grammar, composition, copywork, research, timeline, drawing, and foreign language. In contrast,we can place inspirational subjects in history, poetry, Bible, read alouds, literature, science, picture study, composer study, and art appreciation.

So, how did Charlotte Mason categorize inspirational and disciplinary subjects?  Well, let’s look at her list…

Inspirational Subjects:
Bible
Music
Literature
Nature Study
Picture Study
Poetry
Read-Aloud
Science
History

Disciplinary Subjects:
Art
Composition
Dictation
Foreign Language
Geography
Grammar
Handwriting
Mathematics
P.E.
Handicrafts

Notice Charlotte Mason maintained a balance of inspirational and disciplinary subjects!

Charlotte Mason listed 9 inspirational subjects and 10 disciplinary subjects.  She discovered keeping a balance of each to be ideal!  She found students need both kinds of subjects in their day.  If a student omits disciplinary subjects because he finds they are not as inspiring, there will be major gaps in skills.  Likewise, a student should not omit inspirational subjects.  Just because he prefers the predictability of disciplinary subjects, he will miss the deep thought and true connections inspirational subjects provide.

It’s best to let disciplinary subjects be disciplinary, and inspirational subjects be inspirational!

It is sometimes tempting to try to make disciplinary subjects be inspirational.  However, a student cannot live in a constant state of inspiration!  Nor, should we expect him to.  Can you imagine trying to be constantly inspired with every part of your day?  I find the thought to be somewhat exhausting, don’t you?  Imagine waking up and doing your Bible devotional and praying.  You are inspired!  What a special start to your day that was full of deep thought!

However, next it is time to unload the dishwasher, as the dishes are clean, and the children need to eat.  Can you imagine trying to make unloading the dishwasher inspirational each day?  You could try to change the plates to have more varied colors to unload. Or, you could try unloading the dishwasher in a new way each day. Maybe back to front, top to bottom, and then from left to right.  Or, you could try to ponder the mechanics of how your dishwasher got your dishes clean.  Hmmmm.  Or…  you could just unload it!  Personally, I feel a real sense of accomplishment in just getting this done quickly and efficiently, don’t you?

Disciplinary subjects need not be dressed up!

Disciplinary subjects are like that dishwasher.  They need not be ‘dressed up’ to be disguised as inspirational.  If they are, the day just gets longer. We cannot live in a constant state of inspiration, nor can our children – and that’s okay!  Not every moment of the school day is meant to be inspiring!  Students just need to know their times tables eventually.  They just need learn to spell words correctly.  Or, they need to learn how to correct them.  Likewise, continents just need to be recognized. Moreover, in grammar, they need to recognize a noun as a noun, and a verb as a verb.  When students say they are not excited about disciplinary subjects, we need to remember… it is not possible (nor even desirable) for them to be always inspired.  We can’t maintain that, and neither can they.  We can find beauty in the balance!  Likewise, they can too!

Inspirational subjects need not be stripped down!

We might also be tempted to try to make inspirational subjects be disciplinary.  However, a student cannot live in a constant state of discipline! Nor, should we expect him to.  Can you imagine trying to be constantly disciplined with every part of your day?  The thought is somewhat exhausting, isn’t it? I can’t imagine taking the Bible and making it solely disciplinary.

Memorizing Bible verses, for example, is excellent to do! However, I find the the Word of God to be incredibly inspiring!  I find the Bible a worthy subject to think deeply upon, rather than just Words to be memorized – albeit beautiful Words.  There is merit in both!  But, I find it sad when people can quote the Bible eloquently but profoundly miss out on the relationship with the Lord.  That is what can happen when an inspirational subject is made into a solely disciplinary subject.

We can structure our students’ school days and our own personal days with inspiration and discipline in mind!

I am not only structuring my school days this way! Likewise, I am structuring my own days this way.  I think this is going to be good for me!  Sometimes, I tend to focus only on disciplinary subjects in my day.  I set aside my inspirational subjects, thinking I don’t really need them in my day.  Am I alone in this?!?  Maybe!  However, in truth, I find it is the inspirational ones  I need the most sometimes! They balance out the more disciplinary parts of my day.

Let’s try alternating inspirational and disciplinary subjects!

So, join me, if you will!  As we ponder how to structure our homeschool days, why don’t we try alternating disciplinary and inspirational subjects?  We can find both in our HOD guides. We can find both in our lives too. So, we might as well try it in both!  Let’s see if we notice a difference in our child’s focus and concentration, by alternating inspirational and disciplinary subjects. Likewise, let’s try it in our own lives! I think we may find both to be a healthy balance! So, let’s give it a try!

In Christ,

Julie

 

Three Simple Things That Help with Oral Narrations… and Three That Don’t!

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Three Simple Things That Help with Oral Narrations… and Three That Don’t!

When children narrate, they tell back in their own words what they have just read or heard. It allows them to share their own version of the passage with accuracy, individual personality, spirit, and originality. Children should give oral narrations after the reading of living books. Using Heart of Dakota, you already are filling your children’s homeschool day with the reading of Charlotte Mason style living books.  But, as oral narrations are new to many of us homeschool parents, what can we do that will help (or not help) our children thrive with oral narrations?  The focus of this More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment will be on 3 simple things that help with oral narrations – and 3 that don’t!

#1 – Set the intention for the oral narration in one simple way!

Charlotte Mason says,

Things that we read only become knowledge as we assimilate it, as our mind acts upon it. We must read with the specific intention to know the matter being read. We can read without that effort but it does us no good. (Vol. 6, p. 12-13)

So, how can we set the intention for our children to orally narrate well?  Prior to reading the living book, we should simply tell the child he/she will be expected to orally narrate.  If a certain kind of oral narration is to be expected, we should make sure to tell them what kind as well.  Heart of Dakota’s guides make it easy to set the intention for oral narrations, as the daily plans clearly state its purpose.  We share the purpose with our children in younger Heart of Dakota guides, where modeling is still needed.  But, once children practice narrating in a more general way, you can expect specific narrations. Oral narrations may be summary, key word, topic, detailed, etc.  You can simply say, “Today you will be giving a summary oral narration after reading your history, and it should be 5 sentences long.” You have now set the intention!

What is the opposite of setting the intention for orally narrating, that is not a help?

I realized how important this is to do myself one day!  In Beyond…, the plans ask us as parents to model narrations.  The guide gives tips on how to do this, so it is not hard.  However, I did not realize I’d be modeling an oral narration prior to reading aloud one day.  During my reading aloud of our Storytime living book, I was mentally making my grocery list.  We as moms can multi-task like this, can’t we?!?  When I finished reading,  I could not tell my poor child one thing about what I read!  Because I’d read with no intention, I could not narrate. Since that moment, I have set the intention for orally narrating by always reminding my kiddos they will need to narrate after reading!  The opposite of this, that is not a help, is springing it upon them after the reading.

#2 – One uninterrupted reading provides enough content for the oral narration!

Charlotte Mason says,

To secure a conversation or an incident, we ‘go over it in our minds;’ that is the mind puts itself through the process of self-questioning… This is what happens in the narrating of a passage read: each new consecutive incident or statement arrives because the mind asks itself, – ‘What next?’ For this reason it is important that only one reading be allowed; efforts to memorize weaken the power of attention, the proper activity of the mind; if it is desirable to ask questions in order to emphasize certain points, these should be asked after, and not before, or during, the act of narration. (Vol. 6, p. 17)

So, how do we encourage one uninterrupted reading?  

We simply make sure that once the reading begins, it continues unhampered until it is done.  It makes no difference who is doing the reading.  Whether a parent is reading aloud or a student is reading independently, the reading should not be interrupted.  It may be tempting to stop and explain things, such as vocabulary or terminology a student may not know.  Or, it may be tempting to assign a second reading of the material.  Both of these responses interrupt the flow of the reading and weaken the power of attention.  They also detract from the story-like quality of the author’s style of writing in a living book.

What is the opposite of encouraging one uninterrupted reading?

The opposite is simply stopping the reading with questions, with explanations, or with personal commentary.  Remember, orally narrating is the student’s responsibility, not ours!  As fun as it is to do sometimes, we as parents aren’t the ones getting to share our every thought in narrations of our own!  I remember struggling with this early on.  We were reading about immigration, and in the middle of the reading, I began to tell a story of my own.  I stopped to share our family had immigrated from Holland, and I had a picture of the ship they came on in a family binder.  After getting the binder and finding the picture, I began reading again.  But, then I stopped to define some words I thought my son might not understand.

At the end I asked him to narrate, and do you know what he did?  He told me about my family’s immigration from Holland and then defined the words I had defined.  Yikes!  Kind of missed the boat (no pun intended) on the actual history retelling that should have followed the reading!  As hard as it may be, we need to keep our thoughts to ourselves during the reading.  If we want to share them after the child has orally narrated – wonderful!  Just not during the reading or the narration.

#3 – One uninterrupted oral narration that is crafted by the child is the goal!

Charlotte Mason says:

As we have already urged, there is but one right way, that is, children must do the work for themselves. They must read the given pages and tell what they have read, they must perform, that is, what we may call the ‘act of knowing’. We are all aware, alas, what a monstrous quantity of printed matter has gone into the dustbin of our memories, because we have failed to perform that quite natural and spontaneous ‘act of knowing,’ as easy to a child as breathing and, if we would believe it, comparatively easy to ourselves. The reward is two-fold: no intellectual habit is so valuable as that of attention; it is a mere habit but it is also the hallmark of an educated person. (Vol 6, p. 99)

So, how do we encourage one uninterrupted oral narration personalized by the child?

We simply make sure we don’t interrupt the child while they are narrating.  This is harder than one would think!  Children sometimes mispronounce things, say things in an improper sequence, elaborate on topics we wouldn’t, and omit facts we’d include.  But, it is not our narration – it is theirs, and the child must do the work themselves.  Interrupting only causes loss of focus, discouragement, and omission of personal style.  So, during the narration, we are avid listeners and encouragers.

After the narration, we can start by sharing what we enjoyed about the narration.  I make it a point to try to have more positives than negatives.  Starting with what the child did well and ending with a few suggested improvements keeps narrating a positive work in progress.  There is a time for correction; it just should be after the narration, and it should  not be a long list of negatives.  Kiddos do improve with encouragement and time, so take heart, narrations will get better!

What is the opposite of encouraging one uninterrupted oral narration crafted by the child?

The opposite is simply interrupting to correct the child and to interject our ideas.  This is discouraging, and it leaves the child trying to think about what we want them to say rather than what they want to say.  In essence, they are trying to give the narration we would give.  Likewise, we don’t want to quiz the child by asking one answer type questions to make sure they ‘got it.’  This shows we don’t really value their narration, as we still need another assessment to make sure their response is ‘right.’

Imagine going to a wonderful movie and calling your friend to share your retelling of it.  You excitedly begin to share, retelling what you remembered and connected with most.  But your friend stops you to interrupt that you’ve forgotten a part, as she watched the movie trailer.  You’re a bit annoyed, but you try to address the part she mentioned.  You excitedly return to your retelling, only to be shortly interrupted that you’ve mispronounced a word.  Hmmm.  You fix it and attempt one last time to finish out your retelling half-heartedly.

She interrupts again to ask you to answer a series of questions about what the real intent of the movie was. She read a review of the movie, and she wants to be sure you truly understood it right.  You listen to her retelling of a movie she didn’t really even truly watch.  As soon as possible, you get off the phone.  You make a mental note never to call your friend to share your retelling of a movie you loved again!  This is what narrating can feel like to our children if we aren’t careful!

In Conclusion…

Remember, there are assignments in Heart of Dakota that require one-right answers.  The timeline, vocabulary work, comprehension questions, map labeling, research questions, etc. are examples of this.  However, narrating is different.  It is personal! There is no one right narration, though there are ‘right’ parameters to maintain within specific kinds of narrations.  Narrating is truly a wonderful Charlotte Mason style assessment tool!  I hope these 3 simple ideas can help you and your children thrive with orally narrating!

In Christ,

Julie

P.S. To learn more about written narrations as a form of Charlotte Mason assessment, click here!

P.S.S.  Are you starting HOD with an older child?  Click here to find out more about training your child in Charlotte Mason skills!

P.S.S.S. This month’s library builder coupon is for the Beyond… boy interest I linked for my comments on the Storytime Living Books. Click here for the coupon code!

Ways to Study for Charlotte Mason Dictation Passages

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason’s Method of Studied Dictation

Heart of Dakota uses Charlotte Mason’s method of studied dictation to teach spelling beginning in Bigger Hearts for His Glory.  Charlotte Mason’s dictation emphasizes the studying of a passage in order to fix it within one’s mind. Students practice the habit of making a mental or a photographic image of the text. This includes paying attention to how words are spelled, where capital letters are found, and which punctuation marks are used. Training the mind to capture correct images of words, sentences, and eventually passages is a powerful tool in spelling. Often it does more for kiddos who have struggled with spelling than any amount of memorizing rules can do.

Three Different Sons, Three Different Ways to Study for Dictation

When my three sons first began studying for their dictation passages, I gave them helpful tips on how to study. I’d point out the paragraph indentation, any difficult words to spell, and any punctuation marks. Then, I’d give each of them as much time as they needed to study the passage on their own.  They would call me when they were ready, usually within 5 minutes.  Interestingly enough, each of my sons developed their own unique way of studying for dictation.

Study Method #1 – Wyatt’s Way of Studying:
Passed 9 Dictation Passages in a Row

Wyatt would read the passage in his head first a few times.  Then, he’d get a black dry erase marker and a white markerboard.  While reading the passage  through another time, he’d jot on the markerboard anything special to remember.  So, for example, he’d write the first word of the paragraph indented and capitalized.  If there was a punctuation mark after a word, he’d write the word and then the punctuation mark following it.  Any words that were difficult to spell also made it on the list.

All of these notes were jotted like shorthand, moving sequentially from left to right on the markerboard.  They were even written on the proper place on the markerboard within the right ‘lines.’ Of course, there were no lines on the markerboard. So to me, it just looked like a bunch of floating words and punctuation marks on the markerboard. I finally asked him what he was doing. Imagine my surprise when he explained his method to me!  When it came time for me to read the passage to him,  the markerboard was put aside.  This method of studying for dictation worked well for Wyatt!

Study Method #2 – Riley’s Way of Studying:
A Silent Successful Way of Studying for Dictation

Riley’s method was quite simple.  He studied the passage in complete silence.  All the studying was going on in his head.  When I asked him how he was studying it, he simply said he was reading it in his head.  He said he just pictured it as he read. This method of studying dictation worked well for Riley!

Study Method #3 – Emmett’s Way of Studying:
Nana and Emmett Doing Dictation Together

Emmett’s method is much like his personality, talkative and exuberant.  He talks through the entire passage out loud.  As he reads, he gives commentary on the passage.  For example, “Hmmmm.  ‘Flo-rence’ with a ‘c’ ‘e,’ NOT with an ‘s’ at all.  Oooh!  ‘Night-in-gale’ – that’s really 3 words, Mom!” He also circles on the page anything he wants to remember, like capital letters and punctuation marks. Finally, to practice spelling difficult words, he closes his eyes and spells them out loud.  He tells me he is picturing the word.  Then, he opens his eyes and either shouts “Got it!” or “Shoot!”  If he says “Got it!”, he spelled it right. If he says “Shoot,” he spelled it wrong, and he studies the word again. Then, he closes his eyes and tries again until he can spell it out loud and shout “Got it!” This method of studying dictation is working well for Emmett.

Finding Your Own Way to Study for Charlotte Mason Dictation Passages
Dictation Builds Strong Spelling and Careful Writing Skills

In summation, dictation is an excellent way to train our children to write carefully with good spelling and mechanics.  It is a good idea to model how to study the passage to our students. Drawing attention to capitalization, punctuation, and easily misspelled words is especially helpful. However, students may find their own unique method of studying for dictation, and this will probably be their best method. Therefore, personal study methods are to be encouraged. Hopefully my sons’ methods will help you and your children find success in exploring your own personal dictation study methods!

In Christ,
Julie

How to Create a Charlotte Mason Timeline and Book of Centuries with Heart of Dakota

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Creating a Charlotte Mason Timeline and Book of Centuries

Children will need to have the sense that what they’re reading has a specific time when it happened before their collection of knowledge gets too vast. To do this, make a century table, something like a timeline chart only longer. To make one, divide a long sheet of heavy paper into twenty columns. Put the first century in the center and let the rest of the columns represent a century, either B.C. or A.D. Let the child write the names of people he reads about in the the century they belong to. At this point, children don’t need to focus on exact dates, but this simple table of the centuries will give the child a graphic memory of when things happened. He will have a panorama of events pictured in his mind in the correct order.
                                                                                                                      – Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason’s column timeline is part of Beyond Little Heart’s… and Bigger Heart’s history plans.
Charlotte Mason's column timeline in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory
Charlotte Mason’s column timeline in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory

Heart of Dakota begins with Charlotte Mason‘s suggestion for a column timeline in Beyond Little Hearts for His Glory and Bigger Hearts for His Glory. Children don’t really have a good grasp of the flow of history at that age. Seeing events in 50-100 year columns on a single or double page helps them better understand the flow of time. Prior to writing these guides, Carrie’s oldest son kept a separate timeline book for his beginning 5 years of schooling. He used cut and paste figures. Since then, we’ve found much greater retention and connection for younger kiddos when we switched to the method described here. Drawing and labeling the figures really helps cement the people and events in young children’s minds. It forces them to interact with the material more and makes it personal (and also very engaging to look at)!

A wall or accordion-style timeline is part of Preparing Hearts… history plans.
Wall timeline in Preparing Hearts for His Glory
Wall timeline in Preparing Hearts for His Glory

Next, we move into our one year overview of world history with Preparing Hearts for His Glory. We step the timeline up a level to either a wall timeline or an accordian-folded timeline. This also is designed to give a feel for the major events in the flow of history. It provides mental pegs for children to hang their history readings upon in the future. Children of this age are more invested in their timelines when they complete the work themselves. Doing it themselves means more to them because of the work it has taken them to produce the timeline.

A chronological continuous timeline using a 4-year cycle is part of Creation to Christ through Missions to Modern Marvels.
Chronological continuous timeline in Heart of Dakota's 4-year history cycle
Chronological continuous timeline in Heart of Dakota’s 4-year history cycle

Once we move to Creation to Christ, we begin a chronological flow to history using a 4-year cycle. At that point we do begin a continuous timeline, which will be added to each year. However, we do not do it in isolation but rather within a beautiful full-color Student Notebook. This adds depth to timeline entries by providing places for written narrations, copywork, sketches, and maps (alongside the timeline). Many history connections can be made, as the timeline book is not separated from the rest of the children’s work. The student adds a new section to the Student Notebook each year through each guide from CTC to MTMM. The result is one large beautiful volume completed over 4 years.

A Charlotte Mason-style Book of Centuries is kept as part of Heart of Dakota’s 4 years of high school.
Book of Centuries in Heart of Dakota's 4-year high school curriculum
Book of Centuries in Heart of Dakota’s 4-year high school curriculum

Finally, in high school students begin keeping a Book of Centuries.
Carrie researched and read much about Charlotte Mason’s version of a Book of Centuries. There is much to love about her approach. Heart of Dakota’s approach is similar to hers in some ways and a bit different in others. Our Book of Centuries has a two-page spread for each century. This is in keeping with Charlotte Mason (except earlier centuries are combined as there are less known dates to record).

The right side of each two-page spread includes horizontal lines to record entries.

The right side of each two-page spread has horizontal lines. Each line represents an increment of 5 or 10 years in the century. To record an event on the timeline, students first locate the correct century. Then, they write a word or phrase to represent the event on the correct line within that century. This allows students to see at a glance events that defined the century.

The left side of each two-page spread includes customized portrait/picture gallery images.

The left side of each two-page spread is a portrait/picture gallery of people/events from the century. Amy Pak’s beautiful hand-drawn timeline images and descriptions coincide with Heart of Dakota’s plans. A customized printable CD for each guide helps students make a special keepsake Book of Centuries through high school. This portrait gallery replaces Charlotte Mason’s version of the left side of the two-page spread. Her students were instructed to draw artifacts, clothing, and instruments from the century on the left page. While this is also a great visual for the century, as part of this assignment Charlotte Mason’s students regularly visited museums to sketch from the real artifacts. A luxury we don’t tend to have in our day to day homeschooling.

Charlotte Mason was not focused on memorizing exact dates but rather on comprehending the flow of time.

Carrie and I find it interesting that Charlotte Mason was not focused upon memorizing exact dates in which events occurred. Instead, she felt that comprehending a flow of time was more important. In thinking back, we memorized many historical dates through our high school and college years, and then promptly forgot them. It is interesting to note we still struggle to place things within a flow of time. We have little memory of what events or people share a century. We must continually refer to timelines to refresh our memory as to what happened when and what events proceeded others. Charlotte Mason’s reasoning and thoughts on the keeping of a Book of Centuries resonate with us! We are glad our children will have a different experience than us! Who knows?!? Maybe their Book of Centuries will be a reference tool for them for years to come? Or at the least, a lovely memory of years we spent together enjoying history Charlotte Mason-style through high school!