In Part One and Part Two of our series about writing for the homeschool community, we talked about some of the main components of the Charlotte Mason Method of education. In Part Three, we explored how to create copywork. This month, we’re going to take a look at what other types of resources we can create as writers that will support families who are homeschooling using the Charlotte Mason Method.
Narration and Dictation
Narration and dictation is a little harder to create resources for, as it is often drawn from classical literature, but it is not impossible. Think about the project you have written. If it involves a historical figure, can you create a collection of quotations and sayings by him or her (being careful, as always, of copyright)? If it is contemporary, does one of your main characters have a real-life hero you can draw from? Even if you write science fiction, you can find something to work with if you are committed! Could you create a collection of quotes by famous inventors or scientists that would be inspiring and relevant to your platform?
Science and Nature Study
If your book, project, or platform has anything to do with nature and the outdoors, don’t miss the opportunity to connect with Charlotte Mason moms and dads through nature study. When families do nature study together (which is always recommended, because of both the shared experiences and the dangers inherent in examining plants and animals), the goal is for kids to observe what is going on around them and make some kind of a record of it, often through a nature journal.
This type of nature study goes beyond walking outside and noting, “A bird flew overhead,” though I confess this is the limit of my interaction with nature more times than not, unfortunately. Children participating in a nature study venture outside and watch the birds, learn about their habits, study the reason why a certain species has a particular beak shape, etc. Next they write about it in a journal. They can write sentences, paragraphs, or entire stories. They attempt to sketch what they’ve seen or perhaps take a picture that can be printed and added to their journal.
As a writer, you can provide worksheets that include keys to identifying birds, plants, insects, etc. You can provide pages for recording information and even divide those pages into sections for noting things like the weather, location, animals seen, plants observed, and so on.
Art and Classical Music
Does your work touch on art in any way? Is there a painting mentioned, a museum visited, or an artist referenced? If there is, one way you can connect with Charlotte Mason educators is to create a picture study. You can use one painting, a series of paintings by the same artist, or a series of paintings from a museum.
There are countless variations of picture studies online, but the key elements for you as an author are going to be providing a clean, clear visual (no fuzzy images), basic information about the painting, and some questions to help assist parents as they help their children explore the painting. Ask leading questions that will cause the children to look more closely, to see differently, to crawl inside the painting. When I was eight or nine, I went on a field trip to a museum. I remember hurrying through each room, anxious to get to whatever was ahead. When I realized my friend and I had wandered too far from our designated chaperone, we turned around and went back. We found her enjoying some dioramas of wildlife. She asked me what I saw. I told her I saw a bear and moved on. She then asked me, “What else do you see?” It was a simple question, but it made me stop and look again. There were smaller animals in the diorama, as well as plants and rocks. Because I paused long enough to really look, I could see an entire setting. I had missed much because I was in a hurry. Ask questions that will help parents give their children a reason to slow down and enjoy the painting.
When you are looking for images to use in your picture study, there are many copyright issues to be aware of. Do your homework and be careful with the paintings you use and where you find the images.
Classical music is another area where you as a writer can create helpful resources, regardless of your own musical ability! Can you create a list of resources for parents that teaches classical music? Remember, classical music is a very broad topic. Make it easier for parents who want to teach it by arranging things into manageable pieces that connect with your own written works. Perhaps you can create a game children can play while listening to certain pieces of music or a game that requires identifying musical selections. Use your imagination and see what you can create.
Handicrafts and Life Skills
Life skills are an important part of a Charlotte Mason education, especially in higher grades. Do you have a how-to book or a book that makes things like managing finances or planning a grocery budget easier? Do you have a resource on woodworking, knitting, basket weaving, or cooking from scratch? Do you have a character who loves recipes? Any of these things could help fuel a connection with Charlotte Mason educators.
Creating resources for living math is slightly more challenging, but it can be done! Perhaps the simplest way to start is to spend time in the children’s section of the library and find books for young children that include math concepts (think counting books, things that work with sequences, etc.). Use these to start your creative juices flowing. Then try creating printables or tools that incorporate some of these concepts through stories of your own. Remember that living math isn’t simply worksheets. It’s math in the real world, or at least in a very entertaining fictional one!
Don’t forget that you can also make printables that complement real world activities. We mentioned in Part One that living math can include counting tangible objects like jelly beans or seeds. Can you create a printable that would make counting these more interesting, like a page full of flower pots for counting seeds into? How about a printable that would make counting things at the grocery store more engaging?
History and Geography
History and geography are primarily studied through living books in the Charlotte Mason Method. If you’ve written historical fiction or a story about a missionary’s adventure in another country, you have a natural connection. If you have written something else such as a nonfiction book or a picture book, you may need to look into some of the other ways we’ve explored to connect with the Charlotte Mason community.
Bible and Character Development
Are there bite-sized lessons you can draw from your work that would help meet this need? Could you create Sunday School-style resources that highlight the connection between Scripture and your project? The resources you create in this area may also have strong nature study connections depending on your project. Don’t miss the chance to connect kids to their Creator through the lessons we can learn from the world around us.
One More Thought
Remember that Charlotte Mason resources typically need to go beyond printable worksheets (except in the case of copywork), but don’t rule out creating printable resources. Just be sure to connect them to things that can be experienced. If you write historical fiction or nonfiction, or projects related to nature, the Charlotte Mason Method provides a wealth of opportunities for you to create meaningful resources that can serve homeschooling families. But don’t rule out the Charlotte Mason Method if you don’t write about history or nature. Research, experiment, and have fun! You may be surprised by what you can create. Let us know what you create in the comments below!
Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.