Living Stones Academy

Educating by atmosphere, discipline, and life

Reading with Joy

on June 20, 2011

In her book Home Education, 19th century educator Charlotte Mason paints a delightful picture of two mothers discussing how one of them teaches her child to read. The method is so simple, yet so profound. She buys several cheap copies of a book with a nursery rhyme (and makes a point of cutting out the pictures), pastes the pages of half the books onto paper, cuts out all the words, then using the books not cut up teaches her child to find the words amongst all the ones cut out. They work on pronunciation and recognition before putting the in tact book into his hands and allowing him the pleasure of being able to read it all on his own1. Thus through a carefully devised system of basic phonics and sight words, with new phonics rules being explained as they are encountered, the child is able to read a few thousand words within a year, and when he picks up any book “the word he knows looks out upon him like the face of a friend in a crowd of strangers, and he is able to pounce upon it anywhere.”2 That sounds exciting, even to an adult!

This exciting way of learning so quickly greatly appealed to me, so I immediately thought about how I would go about creating my own. But I originally thought of making word and letter tiles, then laminating them all. This was an intimidating prospect—I’d already given myself much work as a new homeschooler with writing my own genealogy and nature study curriculum. Taking on another project was ludicrous. I decided first to find out if any Charlotte Mason group had attempted to find or create such a reading program.

The first place I looked yielded results! I knew that Simply Charlotte Mason had a reading program; I’d just never looked at it. And this is exactly what Sonya Chafer has devised! It is called Delightful Reading, and for all it includes $50 is a bargain any homeschooler should take advantage of! I was all ready to buy it so I asked my husband (almost a pointless exercise, since he supports most of my purchases, but a practice I believe in as a submissive wife). He was of course supportive, but did ask, “Isn’t that something we could make on our own? I don’t have trouble with it if you really want it, but maybe you could make it.” As he said that, I realized my original idea of how to make it was far too elaborate, and that yes, I could do it without spending that much time.

In less than 2 hours I had the basics done. I pulled out a Bible and The Original Mother Goose. I chose 6 nursery rhymes and a passage from Proverbs and typed them out—word for word, punctuation marks and capitalization included—all in large type with good spaces between each word or mark. So as not to waste paper and space, I made it in landscape format, and if a page left a lot of space, I used that space for letter, phonograph, and digraph tiles. I then printed out all the pages on cardstock. I do not plan to laminate them, but just take care each lesson that each one is put back right away. If anything is ruined, I can easily print out more copies, thereby saving myself the trouble of the tedious project I’d thought of originally. The next step is to cut each piece out and put them in separate envelopes (one for each rhyme, one for the Proverbs passage, and one each for letter, phonograph, and digraph tiles). I can enlist my husband’s help in the evening, again saving myself the trouble of being a martyr by doing it all alone. I will also be hammering out the lesson plans. Again, Part 5 of HE will help tremendously with guidance.

I’ve chosen McGuffey’s Eclectic Primer and Pictorial Eclectic Primer as reading practice and new word introduction.  The readers can be replaced with anything of choice. I like them because of the large type, moral lessons, set up (the lessons either start or end with a list of words introduced in that lesson), and old fashioned word usage (which constitutes “beautiful” reading and not “twaddle”, both Charlotte Mason musts). I had considered adding in the Little Bear books, but realized those can be picked up for pleasure reading and further practice outside of lesson time. Once we cover these rhymes and verses, the vocabulary gained will make the Little Bear books quite easy, and I want lesson time to be invigorating and challenging, not dull and repetitive.

Now this is mainly for Caleb this year, who has already had a great deal of reading introduction. So instead of beginning phonics lessons we will most likely dive into the first reading lesson, and move forward with any phonics rules that occur within.  When I begin with the others, we will of course need to revamp it to include the absolute basics of phonics. Well, not first sounds—Isaac even knows some extra sounds for vowels due to hearing me teach Caleb this past year.  But we will still start afresh just to make sure all ground is covered.

It’s going to be a great first full year. Smile

1Home Education, Part V, Section V, pg 207-14

2Ibid, pg 205

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