I’m excited to announce that the 2021 to 2022 version of the Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum is now available in the shop! I realized the other day that this is the FIFTH year I have offered this curriculum, which is somewhat hard to believe. It has been such an honor to be able to offer this simple and gentle guide for new homeschooling families as well as seasoned veterans for the last five years!
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 Charlotte Mason kindergarten curriculum here.
This year’s version has brought a some changes that I’ve been thinking about doing for a few years. The first big one is that I eliminated the need to purchase The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children in order to follow the scheduled handicrafts. I still highly recommend this book as a wonderful introduction to cooking for children and if you do happen to own it, the recipes I have scheduled in the curriculum from other sources can be taken from that book instead. But to keep the book list a little more cost-efficient, I made it optional this year.
The other big change is that I scheduled picture study, composer study, hymn, and folksong pieces rather than pointing to an external schedule for those parts of the curriculum. You can still definitely use a different schedule for these subjects, but as a way to make things a little easier for those just starting on their homeschooling journey, I went ahead and added those things to the curriculum.
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
I wholeheartedly believe that “education” is being forced on children at far too young of ages in modern times, especially as young children should be spending large parts of their days outside. However, for the child approaching their sixth birthday who is showing interest in “school,” I do not necessarily think that these “full six years of passive receptive life” and including a simple and gentle kindergarten have to be mutually exclusive. In Home Education, Ms. Mason wrote specifically about the Kindergarten Method (as Friedrich Froebel had established it), suggesting that the home was an ideal place for a year of kindergarten and a mother the ideal teacher:
If the very essence of the Kindergarten method is personal influence, a sort of spiritual mesmerism, it follows that the mother is naturally the best Kindergartnerin [or kindergarten teacher]; for who so likely as she to have the needful tact, sympathy, common sense, culture?vol 1 pg 178
Though every mother should be a Kindergartnerin, in the sense in which Froebel would employ the term, it does not follow that every nursery should be a regularly organised Kindergarten. Indeed, the machinery of the Kindergarten is no more than a device to ensure the carrying out of certain educational principles, and some of these it is the mother’s business to get at, and work out according to Froebel’s methods––or her own.vol 1 pg 179
My original impetus for creating this curriculum was the fact that my son’s birthday falls in August and as we prepared for his sixth birthday, I didn’t think he was quite ready for first grade. However, I did feel that he was ready for something a little more structured than what we had been doing ﹣ though nothing too rigorous as is the case with most kindergarten classes these days ﹣ which is why I began to determine how to work out my own “educational principles.” And that is how this curriculum was born.
That year, we spent our days being exposed to beautiful ideas by reading books together, playing simple math games (as well as counting and coloring together), developing relationships with the natural world through observation, and making handicrafts together. All of this while also allowing plenty of time for him to spend outside every day. Nothing was rigorous or demanding for either one of us and we were able to ease ourselves gently not only into the world of “school” for him, but also into the world of homeschooling for both of us.
I want to add that as you begin this path of homeschooling, and especially if you’re planning on adopting Charlotte Mason’s methods, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to read her books and familiarize yourself with her educational tenets. Not only are they full of wonderful insight and wisdom, I think reading them is necessary for truly implementing a Charlotte Mason education. I can offer this booklist, schedule, and notes, but if you aren’t familiar with her principles or the methods she suggests for education, it can be challenging to successfully use her philosophy to teach your children. I’ll add, though, that you can most certainly read her books while you are homeschooling (as opposed to doing it all before you start) as many mothers, myself included, have done.
If you’re new to Charlotte Mason in general and just want to know more about her, another 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 generous women behind AmblesideOnline (AO) have made all of her original six-volume series available for free (or you can buy print copies on Amazon) as well as modern paraphrase versions. 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 Charlotte Mason Kindergarten Day
For us, an average day during my son’s first-grade year (during which we used AO Year 1) took about 2 hours. In contrast, the Charlotte Mason 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 also 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 kindergartners what they thought of or if they remembered anything in particular from a reading, but if they 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 them 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 do decide to use this curriculum, please make sure you’re also meeting your state’s requirements for subjects covered, etc, if necessary. HSLDA is a great resource for understanding homeschool laws.
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!
In the list below, I’ve included links to free books where possible. I highly recommend using Bookfinder to find any books you might want to purchase and Freegal for free music! Also, if you’d like a free printable booklist with all of the books mentioned here, click on the link below!
- Fifty Famous People (free on Kindle and Gutenberg – please note that this is not the same book listed for AO Year 1)
I would suggest getting into the habit of pre-reading with this book. 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” as both my son and my daughter enjoyed this book!
In case you’d like an alternative to Fifty Famous People, there are a few other books I can also mention. 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.
- 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. 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. *Please note that this book does include sensitive or potentially controversial topics including non-traditional families and several different religions. In the kindergarten curriculum itself, I attempted to stick with readings that did not stray into these topics. I do recommend pre-reading this book before you allow your children to look at it on their own.
I chose The Irish Twins because my 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 on the Yesterday’s Classics website – ages are listed after the book description for each of these), 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, 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.
I have also only scheduled 4 days of school per week so that Friday can be a day for a nature hike. This is actually the most important part of nature study in a Charlotte Mason education (especially at this age), but it’s also very simple to do, and benefits both your kids AND you!
- 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 highly recommend reading each unit at the beginning of the week so you can pick an activity and know what you’ll need for science time in advance (I’ve also included overall supply lists as well as weekly supply lists in the curriculum).
- 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
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 through bookfinder.com. 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, you will probably want 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 from man different poets on several different subjects to add to your home library!
- MEP Reception (free – I have also written a guide here that helps walk you through some of the more confusing activities)
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 kids 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.
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 included 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 both our years of going through this curriculum.
If you’re wanting to start using a math curriculum that will carry you through 8th grade and are willing to invest in it early on, we began using RightStart Math in Year 1 and I can’t recommend it enough! 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 begin in term 2 and continue on through term 3. This is not any type of strict reading instruction but instead is simply 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 pressure 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. However, there is evidence that starting reading later is not necessarily a bad thing so don’t feel pressured to begin early.
- The Artful Year by Jean Van’t Hul
- (optional in the curriculum) The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children by Suzanne Gross and Sally Fallon Morell
The Artful Year has simple but beautiful crafts related to the seasons of the year, often incorporating natural items into the craft. I also believe cooking is a handicraft, and I highly recommend The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children for getting your kids involved in the kitchen at an early age!
For copywork, I recommend using whatever poem you’re learning for recitation during morning time and make 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 both of my kids. 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.
We include a lot of different subjects in our Morning Time, which I’ve written about in more detail here. Here are a few resources we’ve used:
- The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos
- The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
- Children of God Storybook Bible by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
- Picture Study Resources (including free Picture Study Aids for the AO Artist Schedule)
- AmblesideOnline Artist Schedule
- AmblesideOnline Composer Schedule (Freegal is a great source for free music downloads!)
- AmblesideOnline Hymn Schedule
- AmblesideOnline Folksong Schedule
If you’re wanting a Charlotte Mason kindergarten year all laid out for you term-by-term and week-by-week, keep reading!
Charlotte Mason-Inspired Kindergarten Curriculum 2021-2022
I hope this list is helpful to anyone out there looking for some Charlotte Mason kindergarten 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, with books and activities listed for history, geography, nature study, science, literature, poetry, math, picture study, composer study, hymn, folksong, 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!