Friday, January 17, 2014

Some Lesson Planning Notes for a New Year

During our recent break from school, I took the time to do a fairly quick re-reading of Charlotte Mason's first volume, Home Education.   I am really glad that I took the time to do this as I have most definitely gained some fresh inspiration for the coming year!  I made some notes of things that stood out to me to apply this coming year and thought that I would share them here both for my benefit (organized and in one place!) and perhaps for yours too.
I shared my notes on nature study and outdoor time here
Today I'd like to share a few of the ideas that I gleaned with relation to lesson planning, specifically with my 8-year-old Year 2 student in mind.   She has been doing oral narration for more than 2 years now and has become quite proficient.  These ideas were highlighted with her advancing needs in mind, yet still keeping them within the guidelines that Mason herself laid down for children under the age of 9.  
The Habit of Thinking
"This is the sort of thing that the children should go through, more or less, in every lesson – a tracing of effect from cause or cause from effect; a comparing of things to find out wherein they are alike, and wherein they differ; a conclusion as to causes or consequences from certain premises." (Vol. 1, p.151)
These are ideas to keep in mind for post-narration discussion where appropriate.  Narration can extend beyond just simply "telling back", especially as the child grows older and gains experience.
On Memory and Recollection
"But one verb is nothing; you want the child to learn French, and for this you must not only fix his attention upon each new lesson, but each much be so linked into the last that it is impossible for him to recall one without the other, following in its train." (Vol. 1 p.154)
This isn't just for French lessons, either!  This is a good reminder to link ALL lessons to the previous one.   A simple way to do this is to do a quick recap of the previous lesson.  I particularly love the train image she gives here.
Writing Assignments appropriate for children under 9
Charlotte Mason didn't encourage a lot of written output in the earlier years of formal education, preferring instead to allow those skills to develop naturally through copywork (physical act of writing) and oral narration (organizing and composing ideas orally).  That said, this doesn't mean that all written work needs to be avoided until the child is 10 as it sometimes seems to be implied.  Mason suggests the following ideas as appropriate introductions into written composition for children under the age of 9:
  • Writing a part and narrating a part of a reading
  • Writing the account of a walk they have taken
  • Writing the account of a lesson they have studied
  • Writing about some other simple matter that they know
 (from Vol. 1, p. 247)
On Original Illustrations
Mason generally preferred that children be 'left to themselves' in the area of artistic development, but she did offer a lesson outline for how a teacher might help her students on occasion produce an original illustration to accompany a lesson studied.   I found these ideas helpful since Michelle already does like to do drawn narrations, and I think some of these ideas may help her to pay greater attention to accurate details.
  • Draw from the children what they know of the story that is to be drawn (perhaps via an oral narration?)
  • Read the descriptive section again if necessary, and look at pictures of dress, etc of the time period in question.
  • Draw from the children what mental pictures they have formed.
  • Have them produce their mental picture on paper.
  • If possible, show them an original illustration of the scene by another artist for purposes of comparison.
 (from Vol. 1, p.307)
Last year, we did a weekly notebook page on which she would illustrate a favorite scene from one of the week's readings and write 1-2 sentences describing what she drew (in addition to a more detailed oral narration at the time of the reading).  I'm hoping the writing and illustration notes above will help us take this to the next level this coming year.


  1. Thank you for posting this! I've only read the first parts of volume 1, I see there is more goodness from Charlotte in store for me. And I'll be needing the instructions for drawing an illustration with my kids, I'm glad we can reread the descriptive parts.

  2. The example in the book is more detailed than this - these are just my notes on it. :) Glad it was helpful. I found lots of good ideas going through it for a second time.

  3. This is wonderful Jen. Thanks for sharing your thought processes with the rest of us.