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The newest version of the Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum (or Year 0.5….whatever you’d prefer to call it) is now ready for download! I made just a few changes this year, one with a book and a few others with how it relates to the Ambleside Online folksong/hymn/composer/picture study schedule. I’ll go into more details below.
As with last year, I’m providing a free downloadable booklist below that includes all of the selections I’ve scheduled this year. Feel free to use this in your own homeschool and schedule them as works best for you. If you do decide that you’d like a little more help with fitting it all into a nice weekly format, you can see a sample of the weekly schedules as well as pick up your own copy of the kindergarten curriculum here.
As always, I’m going to add my usual caveats….
I want to emphasize before diving into the booklist that Charlotte Mason did not recommend any type of formal education for children before the age of six.
How much time daily in the open air should the children have? And how is it possible to secure this for them? In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mothers first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air. And this, not for the gain in bodily health alone––body and soul, heart and mind, are nourished with food convenient for them when the children are let alone, let to live without friction and without stimulus amongst happy influences which incline them to be good. (vol 1 pg 43)
My original impetus for creating this curriculum was the fact that my son’s birthday falls in August and when he turned six, I didn’t think he was quite ready for AO Year 1, so I decided to do a type of Year 0.5 with him. A great help to determine where your child might fall is the Ambleside Online Forums where there are many, many threads in which other mothers have asked if they should go ahead with Year 1, or wait. I’d recommend starting there before you decide if this particular curriculum is a year you need or even want to add to your schedule.
If you’re planning on implementing Charlotte Mason’s philosophies in your own homeschool, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to read her books and familiarize yourself with her educational tenets. I can offer this booklist, schedule, and notes, but if you aren’t familiar with her principles or the techniques she suggests for education, it can be challenging to successfully use her methods to teach your children. You can most certainly do this while you are homeschooling (as opposed to doing it all before you start) as many mothers, myself included, do. I have yet to read through all of her volumes, but I’m making my way steadily through them and other Charlotte Mason-related resources and learning as I go.
A good starting place is Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake which will give you a great overview. However, nothing can replace Ms. Mason’s own words and the AO website offers all of her original six-volume series for free (or you can buy print copies on Amazon) as well as a modern paraphrase version. If you find it easier reading along with others, the AO forums host several book groups that are reading through a volume at any given time.
And now, on to the list!
A Kindergarten Day
For us, an average day doing AO Year 1 took about 2 hours. In contrast, the kindergarten curriculum, without a morning time, takes about 20 minutes per day if you’re doing 4 days per week as we did (with a nature walk day on Friday). If you choose to do five days per week, it would take even less time each day. With the morning time that we did, it was about 40 minutes in all. Some days were longer than others, but for the most part, we usually began our days at around 9:30 to 9:45 and were done by 10:15 or 10:30.
Another note I want to add is that I did not require narration, a tenet of Charlotte Mason education for children ages six and up, during the kindergarten year. I would occasionally ask my son what he thought of or if he remembered anything in particular from a reading, but if he didn’t have an answer, I didn’t force the issue. Again, this is your call, but I felt this was not something I needed to require of him at this stage.
Also, a disclaimer in that this is not an exhaustive kindergarten curriculum for states in which kindergarten is required (especially as it does not include any kind of formal reading instruction). If you happen to decide to use this curriculum, please make sure you’re meeting your state’s requirements for subjects covered, etc, if necessary.
Finally, I want to suggest that this curriculum is meant to be flexible. Feel free to change it as you see fit, insert other books, leave sections out, whatever you need to do. When I first made this, my intent was just to have a slightly more structured time together each day where we could enjoy learning and reading living books together. Make it fit your family’s needs rather than the other way around!
I would suggest pre-reading this just to know what’s coming. While I don’t think the material is offensive, there are mentions of battles and weapons (though not really any violence that I can remember) and there were two notes that I made while reading it: in “Going to Sea,” Washington’s servant (or possibly slave) is simply referred to as a black boy. I changed this just to “servant.” (We addressed race and slavery issues in Year 1 with the book, Farmer George Plants a Nation.) Also, in “The Story of a Great Story,” there is a mention about how all boys know the story of Robinson Crusoe – I just changed this to “all children.” I know it’s a tiny thing, but I thought I’d mention it.
Also, I did skip some of the readings just to fit them into 36 weeks. Feel free to look through the unread ones to see if you’d like to add those in somewhere.
In case you’ve already read Fifty Famous People or just don’t care for it, you can definitely substitute something else. Yesterday’s Classics offers quite a few history books (in particular, I was interested in America First and American History Stories). A reader also mentioned Beautiful Feet Books as a good source as well and I was particularly interested in their Child’s First Book of American History. You could also just leave it out completely if you’d rather. I don’t think history is necessary for Kindergarten, but if your child likes being read to, it’s a nice little addition.
- Children Just Like Me: A new celebration of children around the world (DK Books)
- The Irish Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins (free on Kindle and Gutenberg)
- wall maps (optional)
- globe (optional)
Children Just Like Me introduces you and your kids to different children from around the world and provides a little information about what their lives are like, including their family, what they like to eat, religions, and what they do in school. These are scheduled in such a way that you read about a continent or region as well as a one-page write-up about a child living in that region one day, and then that’s followed by one or two more two-page readings from two more children in that region. The book does include maps, but on the days that you read the continent/region overview, I’d highly recommend pulling out a globe and a world map so you can show your student the particular area you’re reading about that day. I tried to be diverse and asked for my son’s favorites when choosing these, but feel free to substitute as you see fit!
I chose The Irish Twins because my side of the family is Irish, so I wanted to expose our kids to some of our heritage. However, Lucy Fitch Perkins wrote quite a few of these books covering other countries and nationalities as well (free on Kindle and also a few on gutenberg.org – check to make sure they’re age appropriate), so you can easily switch out however you see fit. This is another book that you may want to read in advance. In particular, chapter three (The Tale of the Leprechaun), the poor Leprechaun has his life threatened, and chapter seven (The Bog), in which they tell the story of Deirdre and the sons of Usnach, has a little (very non-descriptive) violence.
- Old Mother West Wind (free on Kindle and Gutenberg)
- Seed Babies by Margaret Warner Morley (free on Google Books)
I chose Old Mother West Wind because it provides a good introduction to some of the characters you and your child will read about later if you choose to do AO. However, if you go with another curriculum, I still think all of Burgess’s books are fantastic for children this age, so I highly recommend them.
If you’re looking for alternatives to this one, I can also recommend Clara Dillingham Pierson’s Among the People books (also free on Kindle and gutenberg.org). Both of my kids have loved these series, so I think you can’t go wrong with either one.
Seed Babies is just a fun book all around. My only suggestion is to grow your own beans at home as you work your way through the chapters so your student can see what’s discussed in the book firsthand.
- One Small Square Backyard by Donald Silver and Patricia Wynne
- Science in Seconds by Jean Potter
- One Small Square Pond by Donald Silver and Patricia Wynne
The One Small Square books are nice because you can use them either in the “real world,” meaning you can actually do the one small square in your backyard or a pond, or you can just play along in the book if you don’t have a yard or access to a pond. For each of these, I read the main text and then went around and read all of the little captions, pointing to the object that it was referring to. There are a few side projects that you can do that may require additional supplies, but they’re completely optional.
For Science in Seconds, I’d highly recommend reading each unit at the beginning of the week so you know what you’ll need for science time in advance (I’ve also included Supply Lists in the curriculum). Your household items may be different than mine, so you may want to look over the other activities to see if there is one that you’d rather do. Otherwise, I tried to choose those that didn’t require a lot of supplies and were pretty simple to do.
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
- The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne
- Beatrix Potter – The Complete Tales
- The Children’s Treasury of Virtues by William J. Bennett
These three are fairly straightforward. The Beatrix Potter Complete Tales linked above contains all of the curriculum readings and is a beautiful addition to your book collection. The Children’s Treasury of Virtues is no longer in print, but I was able to find it reasonably priced and in very good condition on bookfinder.com (which I’d highly recommend for all of the books you need to buy). You could also buy each of the three books it contains separately as they are still in print: The Children’s Book of Virtues, The Children’s Book of Heroes, and The Children’s Book of America (all by William J. Bennett).
If you are outside of the United States, feel free to omit or substitute for any or all of The Children’s Treasury of Virtues as some of the stories (particularly in the third term) are specific to US history.
- Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected for Boys and Girls by Helen Ferris
This is an excellent collection of poetry! The original schedule was from another blog that offered a literature-based kindergarten curriculum, but I did make some modifications after we did our first year. Feel free to substitute poems and poets however suits your family!
- MEP Reception (free)
I highly recommend MEP Reception if you want or need to do some kind of math activities but don’t want to spend a lot of (or any other than printing costs) money. My son absolutely loved the games and really enjoyed the crafts too. The activities are cute and engaging and mostly short, with no structured math. There are estimated times to the left of each activity, but in our experience, the activities never took as long as listed and I’m guessing this is because we didn’t do it in a normal classroom setting with many children.
MEP is a spiral approach, so not strictly Charlotte Mason, but many Charlotte Mason educators do use it successfully with their students (you can read a review by Brandy Vencel here) and it is listed as one of the preferred options on Ambleside Online.
When it comes to things like this, I’m a paper kind of girl, so I did print out both the lesson plans and the copymasters, but you could probably get away with only printing the copymasters if you want to read the lesson plans on a screen and save some ink and paper. I’ve also tried to include a supply list of the things we used in the Supply Lists section of the curriculum book. For the most part, these are probably things that you have around the house. There was one activity (37.2) that required plasticene to form animals, but you could easily use modeling clay or salt-dough as well (we actually just skipped this one). Also, because we didn’t have enough people in our family to fill all the roles of the “family,” I just printed them out on cardstock and made little stands for them. It worked well throughout the year.
If you’re wanting to start using a math curriculum that will carry you through 8th grade and are willing to spend some money, we began using RightStart Math in Year 1 and I can’t recommend it enough, though it is pricey. I will also add that I felt that the MEP Reception year more than prepared us for RightStart Level B in first grade!
- Bob Books Pre-Reader Collection (includes My First Bob Books: Alphabet and My First Bob Books: Pre-Reading Skills)
These books start in term 2 and continue on through term 3. This is not really any type of strict reading instruction but instead is really just you reviewing alphabet sounds, patterns, and sequencing by reading the short stories and doing the activities at the end of the books with them.
My son wasn’t quite ready to learn to read when we started our kindergarten year and I didn’t want to put pressure on him to do so, so we took it very slow. If your child is showing interest in learning to read and has these basic skills down, we used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons during Year 1 with success.
In the term overview, I provide a link to the AO Composer Schedule. If you would rather use music that you already have at home for composer study, by all means, please do! I only added the link as an option for those who like more direction. You can find links to each selection they’ve chosen on the Ambleside website. For any of these pieces, I suggest checking to see if your library is part of the Freegal Music Service as you may be able to get all of these tracks for free.
At the beginning of each term, I download the music (composer as well as hymns and folksongs) to an ancient iPod we have that my son gets to use and he can listen to it whenever he’d like outside of school time. In addition to this, I use the Plex app to make a playlist on my computer that can play on the TV while the kids are in the family room playing LEGO or doing some other hands-on activities around the house. I also look for recorded performances of whatever selection we’re listening to on YouTube and we spend about five minutes twice a week to watch and listen to the performance, then discuss what we heard and saw.
There is definitely more you can do in this area, including reading well-written biographies of the composer or searching for live performances of the pieces in your area, but I think this is a good start for kindergarten and at least gets them exposed to excellent music.
You can also use the hymns and folksongs from the Ambleside Schedule if you’d rather not make your own list. These are done during morning time and rotated out each month. Again, make it your own if you’re not happy with the selections offered!
- The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children by Suzanne Gross and Sally Fallon Morell
- The Artful Year by Jean Van’t Hul
These probably don’t fit the strict definition of “handicrafts,” but I tried to choose activities that create things that are useful, beautiful, and/or incorporate nature. I think how we as parents respond to the things our children make also defines how they’re “used.” If we show (real) pride in their work and display it in our homes, it shows them that what they make has value.
There are also quite a few recipes as I do believe cooking is a handicraft, and I used The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children as Nourishing Traditions is suggested in AO Year 12.
For this, I just used whatever poem we were memorizing during morning time and made copy pages from worksheetworks.com with it using these settings:
This allows for usually only about four to eight words per page, which was just right for my son. If you find that you’ve used up all of your sheets for the month, you can make more sheets with any Bible verses, hymns, or folksongs you’re memorizing or listening to as well.
There are good arguments for actually starting your kids with cursive before print, however, that’s outside the scope of this post. If that’s something you might be interested in (I did it with my son in Year 1), there are some great articles that can be found on Google about this topic.
Free Booklist Download
If you’re wanting the year all laid out for you term-by-term and week-by-week, keep reading!
Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum 2019-2020
I hope this list is helpful to anyone out there looking for some Year 0.5 ideas! If you’re not sure how to spread all of this out over 36 weeks, I do also offer a Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum in ebook and printed form as well!
With this book, you will also get…
…Morning Time tips, with information about why Morning Time can be helpful, a sample of what we did during our own Morning Time, and ideas for how to implement it.
…supply lists, including everything you’ll need for the science projects, math activities, and handicrafts over the course of the year as well as broken down each week. I included this because it is one thing that always keeps me from being more efficient in my homeschooling. I find that if I have all of the supplies I need before a term, or even before a week starts, I’m much more likely to do them rather than scrambling around at the last second to get everything together!
…term overview schedules, in the Ambleside Online format with books and activities listed for history, geography, nature study, science, literature, poetry, math, and handicrafts.
…weekly schedules. I have gone through the term overview schedules and broken them down day-by-day for each week, so you have 36 weeks of 4-day schedules (with a nature study hike scheduled for Fridays) already laid out for you! The only thing you need to do is pre-read and you’re set!
You can pick up your own copy of the curriculum below!