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Charlotte Mason – Notebooks and Living Books

From the Archives:

Notebooking with Living Books

I am digging back through my older posts and updating links and photos. This is a mountain high job but so much fun reading back over my thoughts and ideas from the last years of homeschooling my two youngest boys. I especially love the Charlotte Mason posts and I hope you will glean some tips from this post on notebooking and living books. The complete title is Notebooking with Living Books or Don’t Kill a Living Book! I love this !

This post has lots of ideas and then in turn many links to related posts on notebooking, essay writing, poetry, and history timelines. The links should all work now so I invite you over to take a look for yourself. Make sure to pin the entry to your Pinterest board for further use.


Notebooking With Living Books @harmonyfinearts


Flashback Friday-Reading Record Idea

Homeschool reading log with stars

As part of the reading and literature plan that I had for my boys, I had them keep a Reading Record. This particular form is from the Spelling Power book but you could easily make one up or use a notebooking page from a set you have.

What made this one work for my boys when they were younger is the simplicity of it and the way we customized it by adding star stickers to show how much they liked the book. They used a scale of 1 to 5 (five was the highest).

This was simple and easy to get them do at the end of each week. They would share these records with me at the end of the week and I would have them explain why they gave a book the number of stars they recorded.

Another tip: I didn’t always correct every spelling mistake and punctuation error I found in this kind of writing. I made a note to cover the misspelled words in the weeks to come and to address the other errors during our more formal writing and grammar time. I learned to pick my battles.



5 Charlotte Mason High School Ideas That Worked

5 charlotte mason high school ideas

Building Good Habits

“One last word about habit–the point of training children to have good habits is so that they’ll do things without being nagged or scolded. Then the mother isn’t constantly chasing them down with a barrage of commands and reminders. She can leave them alone to thrive in their own way once habit has secured a boundary for them to grow in.” Volume 1, page 134

The forming of good habits continues through the high school years, leading our children to the place where they self-regulate their actions. In our home, our teens were never rebellious or contrary and I think a lot that was because we didn’t have many “rules” to live by. They were guided and corrected in a way to help them build habits that will last them a lifetime. Children with good habits are a joy to be around. Read more about habits: Building Good Habits in High School and Good Habits for Moms.

Living History

“Let him, on the contrary, linger pleasantly over the history of a single man, a short period, until he thinks the thoughts of that man, is at home in the ways of that period. Though he is reading and thinking of the lifetime of a single man, he is really getting intimately acquainted with the history of a whole nation for a whole age.” Volume 1, page 280

Incorporate as many avenues of reading and learning as possible, using literature, biographies, speeches, and videos to help your child immerse his learning of a particular time period. High school students are capable of reading a lot of material and if you follow up your reading with some form of narration it will stick better and longer. History will come alive. Read more about my thoughts on this: Charlotte Mason Knew the Secret to Learning Relationships.

Shakespeare and Poetry

“To become intimate with Shakespeare in this way is a great enrichment of mind and instruction of conscience. Then, by degrees, as we go on reading this world-teacher, lines of insight and beauty take possession of us, and unconsciously mold our judgments of men and things and of the great issues of life.”

There were times when it seemed like a lot of effort to add in a Shakespeare play every term but afterwards I would realize how much we all enjoyed the experience. The same was true pretty much for poetry as well. Poetry is not an easy topic to cover on your own with high school students and our tastes in poets varied greatly which added an extra element when planning. But, in the end, I look back on our Shakespeare and poetry studies with much warmth because they did add that extra “something” that made each year a little better. My boys still quote Shakespeare from time to time and I know it will be carried with them into their futures…better for having read it while they were young. Read more: Shakespeare and High School Poetry.

Nature Study

I could talk all day about the value of continuing nature study in high school. I hold those times we were outdoors together as cherished memories. My boys have grown in their knowledge of our local plants, trees, birds, reptiles, weather, and so much more. They are comfortable outdoors and seek opportunities to spend time in nature. They appreciate the changes in the season and are skilled at following a map, planning a hike, and growing things. Dirt is not their enemy. You can read more: Nature Study for High School Students.


Last but not least is the skill of narration that is emphasized in a Charlotte Mason education. Narration is never tiring for my boys and if given a choice they will write a quick summary, give an oral account, or create a follow-up project in place of a test any day. Their notebooks are filled with their individual accounts of their learning. These thoughts are their own connections with their reading and research. I can’t think of a better way to learn for my boys. You can read more: Narration in Our High School.

Reflections on a Charlotte Mason High School – read more of my thoughts on high school.

Please visit and share with us at the CM blog carnival! We'd love to have you! I am submitting this entry to the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival and if you have any entries you would like to submit, you can send them to this email address: [email protected].










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