2010 in review at the Homeschooling Moms blog

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,000 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 21 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 31 posts. There were 8 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 279kb.

The busiest day of the year was November 3rd with 86 views. The most popular post that day was Thanksgiving Ideas.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were mail.yahoo.com, mail.live.com, plumfieldacademy.org, charlottemasoneducation.wordpress.com, and facebook.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for children’s literature, millais, autumn, how to make a tree, and literature.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Thanksgiving Ideas November 2010


Natural Nature Learning July 2010
1 comment


Autumn Art Appreciation Ideas November 2008


Twaddle-Free Children’s Literature and Living Books by Grade Level March 2010
1 comment


Homeschool Planning – Don’t Wait Until August to Begin ! July 2010


Debi (aka “The Simple Mom”) is now on Facebook!

Feel free to stop by my new Facebook page … and if you’re a FB person, yourself, and you want to receive regular updates, links, etc. from me on your FB wall, you just need to “like” me. 🙂

The Simple Mom on Facebook

Homeschool Planning – Don’t Wait Until August to Begin !

by Angie McFarren

Who wants to think about school during the summer? The most common answer is no one. Homeschooling families are no different from their counterparts. After all, the whole point of a summer break is fun and relaxation.

Before we get into the purpose of this article, let us review this past school year. Did you feel overwhelmed and frustrated Continue reading

Twaddle-Free Children’s Literature and Living Books by Grade Level

(This reading list is simply my personal idea of twaddle-free reading — it isn’t the Twaddle-free Gospel.) 🙂

Living Books = books that are well-written and engaging–they absorb the reader–the narrative and characters “come alive”; living books are the opposite of cold, dry textbooks.
Twaddle = dumbed down literature; absence of meaning

I’ve included direct links to the books on Amazon.com so you can browse the reviews of other readers to get a better idea of which books would be appropriate for your home and/or classroom. Just click on the book’s title for further information. Amazon.com also offers free shipping on orders above a particular amount (usually $25), so if you have several books you’d like to order, it can be just as inexpensive to buy from Amazon as to order through your local bookstore. Plus you get the fun of having books delivered to your door — that’s always big excitement at my house! 🙂

The age designations for this list are only approximate. A child’s listening level will often be several grades higher than their personal reading levelfeel free to choose books from an older list if you’re planning on reading aloud to your children. My husband and I began reading aloud to our children from chapter books (such as Charlotte’s Web) before their third birthdays. Don’t under-estimate your child’s ability to comprehend or listen to fairly advanced material.


Aesop’s Fables, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
The Original Mother Goose, illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright
Good Night Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown
The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant, by Jean de Brunhoff
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Kindergarten / Grade 1

Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish
Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey
Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban
Billy and Blaze, by C.W. Anderson
A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams
Corduroy, by Don Freeman
The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh
Curious George, by H.A. Rey
Frog and Toad All Year, by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad are Friends, by Arnold Lobel
Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
Little Bear, by Else Homelund Minarik
The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper
The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton
Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown
Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack

Grade 2

The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Railway Children, by E. Nesbit
The Random House Book of Fairy Tales, by Amy Ehrlich
Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel
The Velveteen Rabbit, by Marjery Williams
Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne

Grade 3

Baby Island, by Carol Ryrie Brink
Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry
Owls in the Family, by Farley Mowat
Paul Bunyan, by Steven Kellogg
Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter
Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, by Clyde Robert Bulla
Story of Dr. Doolittle, by Hugh Lofting
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White

Grade 4

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
King Arthur, by Roger Lancelyn Green
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Lord Fauntleroy, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow, by Allen French
The Sword in the Stone, by T.H. White
Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois
Redwall, by Brian Jacques
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Grade 5

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell
Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.
Gentle Ben, by Walt Morey
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
Lad: A Dog, by Albert Payson Terhune
Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare

Grade 6

Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy), by J.R.R. Tolkien
White Fang, by Jack London
The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Grade 7

Animal Farm, by George Orwell
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain
Sounder, by William H. Armstrong
Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Grade 8

Christy, by Catherine Marshall
David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
The Divine Comedy, by Dante
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
Emma, by Jane Austen
The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis
Paradise Lost, by John Milton
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Grade 9

1984, by George Orwell
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemmingway
The Pilgrim’s Regress, by C.S. Lewis
The Pit and the Pendulum, by Edgar Allen Poe
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Grade 10 – 12

The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
The City of God, by Augustine
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ, by Lew Wallace
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
Guilliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hinds’ Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard
The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
The Odyssey, by Homer
The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
Silas Marner, by George Eliot
The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis
The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee


Click on the book titles to order directly from Amazon.comthe world’s largest on-line bookstore. Many titles are offered at significantly reduced prices from the recommended list price (often at 10 – 30% off).

Many of the listed books also qualify for free shipping (providing that you meet minimum order requirements). With free shipping, the prices can be even less expensive than buying from a local bookstore … but you also have the added convenience of never even leaving the house! I personally get a thrill seeing the U.P.S driver walking up to my front door with a box full of brand new books.

Amazon.com also has a variety of payment options. You can even order using a personal check if you’re uncomfortable using credit cards or check cards online.

A Complete Guide to the Different Learning Theories

by Joshua Poon

j0401070.jpgEducational theorists, from philosophers like Socrates and Rousseau to researchers like Howard Gardner today, have addressed theories of learning. Many of their ideas continue to influence homeschoolers as well as traditional educators. A little familiarity with some of the ideas most popular among homeschoolers will help you make sense of the wealth of available materials when you begin to make choices for your family.

Jean Piaget and Cognitive Development

He proposed that children go through several distinct stages of cognitive growth. First comes the sensorimotor stage (birth to two years), during which the child learns primarily through sensation and movement. At the pre-operational stage (ages two to seven), children begin to master symbols such as language and start to be able to form hypotheses based on past experiences. At the concrete operational stage (ages seven to eleven), children learn to generalize from one situation to similar ones, although such reasoning is usually limited to their own concrete experience.

Finally, at the formal operational stage (eleven years older), children can deal with abstractions, form hypothesis and engage freely in mental speculation. Although the rate at which children progress through the stages varies considerably, the sequence of stages is consistent for all children.

Therefore, to be appropriate and effective, learning activities should be tailored to the cognitive level of the child.

Rudolf Steiner and the Waldorf Schools

Steiner divided children’s development into three stages: to age seven, children learn primarily by imitation; from seven to fourteen, feelings and emotions predominate; and after age fourteen, the development of independent reasoning skills becomes important. Waldorf education tends to emphasize arts and crafts, music, and movement, especially at younger ages, and textbooks are eschewed in favor of books the students make for themselves. Waldorf theories also maintain that the emphasis should be on developing the individual’s self-awareness and judgment, sheltered from political and economic aspects of society until well into adolescence.

Montessori and the Prepared Environment

Italian physician Maria Montessori’s work emphasized the idea of the prepared environment: Provide the proper surroundings and tools, so that children can develop their full potential. Montessori materials are carefully selected, designed to help children learn to function in their cultures and to become independent and competent. Emphasis is on beauty and quality, and that which confuses or clutters is avoided: Manipulative are made of wood rather than plastic tools are simple and functional, and television and computers are discouraged.

Charlotte Mason: Guiding Natural Curiosity

Charlotte Mason was a nineteenth-century educator advocated informal learning during the child’s early year contrast with the Prussian system of regimented learning then in vogue. She recommended nature study to develop both observational skill and an appreciation for the beauty of creation and extended that approach to teaching history geography through travel and study of the environment rather than as collections of data to master. She felt children learn best when instruction takes into account their individual abilities and temperaments, but she emphasized the importance of developing good habits to govern one’s temperament and laying a solid foundation of good moral values.

Holt and Unschooling

Educator John Holt wrote extensively about school reform in the 1960s. Although he originally proposed the word “unschooling” simply as a more satisfactory alternative to “homeschooling.” Unschooling now generally refers to a style of homeschooling, in which learning is not seperated from living, and children learn mainly by following their interests. Children learn best, he argued, not by being taught, but by being a part of the world, free to most interests them, by having their questions answered as they ask them, and by being treated with respect rather than condescension.

Gardner and Multiple Intelligences

Psychologist Howard Gardner argues that intelligence is not a single unitary property and proposes the existence of “multiple intelligences.” He identifies seven types of intelligence: linguistic, musical, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. Because each person has a different mix of these intelligences, learning is best tailored to each individual’s strengths, rather than emphasizing the linguistic and logical-mathematical approaches traditionally used in schools. A bodily kinesthetic learner, for instance, might grasp geometric concepts presented with hands-on manipulative far more easily than she would if they were presented in a more traditionally logical, narrative fashion. A teaching approach that recognizes a variety of learning styles might encourage many individuals now lost by conventional methods.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joshua Poyoh is the creator of http://homeschoolingreport.com

For more information on homeschooling resources, check the articles at http://homeschoolingreport.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Joshua_Poon

The Charlotte Mason Method in a Nutshell

j0409455-2.jpgby Deborah Taylor-Hough 

Charlotte Mason was a big thinker who had a very high view of children. So let me start out by saying that I don’t believe anyone could ever fit Charlotte Mason’s ideas, methods and philosophies into an actual nutshell (I just thought it made a good title for this article). Miss Mason’s ideas were so broad and far reaching, it took six large volumes to contain her writings on just the topic of education.

With that said, here’s a very brief overview of a handful of Charlotte Mason’s most familiar ideas.

Twaddle is what parents and educators today might call “dumbed down” literature. It is serving your children intellectual happy meals, rather than healthy, substantive mind- and soul-building foods. Charlotte Mason advocated avoiding twaddle and feasting children’s hearts and minds on the best literary works available.

Living books are the opposite of dull, dry textbooks. The people, places and events come alive as you read a living book. The stories touch your mind and heart. They are timeless.

Whole books are the entirety of the books the author actually wrote. If the author wrote a book, read the whole book. The opposite of this would be anthologies that include only snippets from other works—maybe a chapter from Dickens, a couple of paragraphs from Tolstoy, etc.

Narration is the process of telling back what has been learned or read. Narrations are usually done orally, but as the child grows older (around age 12) and his writing skills increase, the narrations can be written as well. Narration can also be accomplished creatively: painting, drawing, sculpting, play-acting, etc.

Charlotte Mason recommended spending short, focused periods of time on a wide variety of subjects. Lessons in the early years are only 10-15 minutes in length, but get progressively longer as the children mature. (Lessons increase closer to an hour per subject for high school students.)

In spite of often rainy, inclement weather, Charlotte Mason insisted on going out once-a-week for an official Nature Walk, allowing the children to experience and observe the natural environment firsthand. These excursions should be nature walks, not nature talks.

In addition to the weekly Nature Walks, Mason also recommended children spend large quantities of time outside each day, no matter what the weather. Take a daily walk for fun and fresh air.

Nature Notebooks are artist sketchbooks containing pictures the children have personally drawn of plants, wildlife or any other natural object found in its natural setting. These nature journals can also include nature-related poetry, prose, detailed descriptions, weather notes, Latin names, etc.

Bring the child into direct contact with the best art. Choose one artist at a time; six paintings per artist; study one painting per week (maybe 15 minutes per week). Allow the child to look at the work of art intently for a period of time (maybe five minutes). Have him take in every detail. Then take the picture away and have him narrate (tell back) what he’s seen in the picture. Excellent prints can be viewed and purchased inexpensively from the National Gallery of Art at http://www.nga.gov/

There’s great value in keeping a personal journal, encouraging reflection and descriptive writing. Record activities, thoughts and feelings, favorite sayings, personal mottoes, favorite poems, etc.

Daily copywork provides on-going practice for handwriting, spelling, grammar, etc. Keep a notebook specifically for copying noteworthy poems, prose, quotes, etc.

Each day choose a paragraph, or sentence, or page (depending on the age of child). Have the child practice writing it perfectly during his copywork time. Have them look carefully at all punctuation, capital letters, etc. When the child knows the passage well, dictate the passage to the child for him to recreate the passage.

A Book of the Centuries is a glorified homemade timeline; usually a notebook containing one or two pages per century. As children learn historical facts, they make notes in their book on the appropriate century’s page about famous people, important events, inventions, wars, battles, etc.

Charlotte Mason’s schools finished daily academics in the morning, allowing the afternoon hours for free time to pursue crafts and other leisure activities or areas of personal interest.

Charlotte Mason had much to say on establishing good habits in children. Habits (good or bad) are like the ruts in a path from a wheelbarrow going down the same trail again and again. As time goes on, it becomes increasingly difficult to run the wheelbarrow outside the rut, but the wheel will always run smoothly down the well-worn rut in the path. By training children in good habits, the school day (and home life in general) goes more smoothly. Focus on one habit at a time for 4-6 weeks rather than attempting to implement a long list of new habits all at once.

For more information about Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophies and practical how-tos, be sure to stop by and visit:  Charlotte Mason & Home Education

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:   Deborah Taylor-Hough is a long-time homeschooling mother of three, a freelance writer, editor of The Charlotte Mason Monthly email newsletter, and author of several popular books including Frugal Living For Dummies(r), Frozen Assets: How to Cook for a Day and Eat for a Month and A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity.  Visit Debi online at:  The Simple Mom

320_4517182Habits: The Mother’s Secret to Success
Print: $9.99
Download: $4.99

Charlotte Mason was a British educator from the last century whose ideas are currently experiencing a revival, especially among American private and home schools. Her ideas on the formation of habit are a key to understanding how to make lasting change in a child, or even yourself. This book is an excerpt of her teachings specifically on the topic of habits. Introduction and editing by Deborah Taylor-Hough.


Welcome! Just getting set up. :-)

I’ve decided to collect articles from various contributors about homeschooling in general and about the wide range of home education methods and options available to today’s parents.

Eventually I hope to make this sort of a one-stop-shopping spot for all things homeschooling-related.  Articles, tips, recommended resources, and even an online bookstore for favorite homeschooling, educational, and parenting topics.