Following Eight Students, Ages 10-12,
Using Charlotte Mason Methodology

8:30 Prayer – The day opens with a short time of quiet prayer. Today’s theme is “blessing.” “Who would you like to bless today?” The children write notes in their prayer journals. A few share their ideas with the group.

8:40  Math – Students begin with forty-five minutes of math. The period begins with an eight minute “unit study” (e.g. fractions, multi-step equations, geometry) for review or growth. Individuals then begin working through their individual lesson and problem set.  Each student works independently in a book suited to his or her ability. The teacher explains the lesson and works individually with any student who needs help.  Problems are corrected and any missed problems re-worked.  View Math Curriculum

9:30 Pre-Civil War U.S. History with Verbal Narration – Eight students gather around a table and prepare to read through the fifth chapter of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. They begin by taking out their maps and locating Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore, and Talbot County in Maryland.  They briefly narrate ideas from the previous class on this subject.  Chapter 5 (the story of Frederick’s transfer to Baltimore) is read to the group.  After the reading, one student tells the story back in his own words, others offer additional details; the story is recorded as a “group narration.” Discussion follows. After sharing their ideas on the chapter, students look at several woodcut reproductions depicting various episodes from Frederick’s life.

At the beginning of this chapter, Frederick Douglass talks about how he was treated at Colonel Lloyd’s, which was fairly well. His only job was to drive up the cows, keep the ducks out of the garden, and keep the front yard clean. He was about eight years old and not big enough for really hard work. He was also a helper to Colonel Lloyd’s young son, Master Daniel. He would go hunting with him and fetch the ducks Master Daniel shot down. Master Daniel would protect Frederick from the older boys and would give him cakes to eat.

Like other slave children, Frederick didn’t have much clothing: No shoes, no pants, no jacket, only a linen shirt that reached down to his knees. Sometimes he was so cold at night that he would steal a corn bag and crawl in head first with his feet sticking out. And that’s how he would sleep. His feet got so cold that they would crack in places. As a man, the cracks in his feet were still there and so deep that he could lay a pen in them. For food, he ate mush which was poured into a trough. The slaves were called like so many pigs to come and eat. They would scoop up the mush with shells or shingles or use their hands. No one had a spoon. The strong ones ate most, but no one went away satisfied.

After few years at the Great House Farm, Frederick was told he was leaving for Baltimore in three days. He was going to live at the home of Mr. Hugh Auld (who was brother to the Old Master’s son in law, Captain Thomas Auld). Those days were the happiest days he could remember. He spent all three days down at the river trying to scrub the dirt and mange from his body because he was told, “The folks in Baltimore are very clean and they will laugh at you.” The mistress also said she would give him a pair of trousers as a reward. This was the first time he worked for a reward and he worked hard. He was so excited about getting those trousers!

He felt indifferent about leaving the Great House Farm. His mother had died. His Grandmother lived far away. His brothers and sisters did not feel like family. And he thought, “It can’t be much worse than the life I have ahead of me here, and it might be better.” Frederick had heard many good things about Baltimore from his cousin, Tom. Cousin Tom said everything in Baltimore was bigger and better than what they had on the Great House Farm. Whenever Frederick would point to something at the Great House and say, “This is great or that is beautiful,” Cousin Tom would always say, “You should see what they have in Baltimore!” Nothing on the Great House Farm was ever as good as what they had in Baltimore.

Frederick got into the boat on Saturday to leave for Baltimore and sailed first to the city of Annapolis, the capital of Maryland. It was the biggest city Frederick had seen. They sailed on to Baltimore and arrived on Sunday. After herding the sheep that were on board to where they needed to go, Frederick was taken to the home of his new master: Mr. Hugh Auld.

His new master, Mr. Hugh Auld, and his wife Sophia, and their small son, Little Thomas met him at the door. When Frederick saw Mistress Sophia’s face, it was like a ray of sunshine coming into his life. Her face was full of kindness. It was the first white face that Frederick had ever seen that looked kind and loving. It made him feel good about his future there. He was put in charge of minding Little Thomas.

10:20  Skills Time – Depending on the day, various individual skill activities are practiced,  such as: editing narrations, grammar, handwriting, poetry, typing, and Writer’s Workshop.

11:30  Lunch and personal time – Students engage in a variety of activities of choice: outdoor play or indoor board games, playing musical instruments, or working on handicrafts.

We go outside every day and just play. Some people might see it as mindless playing, but someone else might think of it as team work, building collaboration, and democracy.” Abbie, 11

12:35 Literature – After free timestudents gather to read from classical children’s literature or Great Books. They follow along in their own books, and pause along the way to discuss key points. Today, because they have finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows, they will meet for Writer’s Tea.  Each student takes a turn reading his or her reflection paper on the book as the others listen (while eating blueberry pie.) After each reading, students are invited to say what they found interesting in their friend’s reflection paper. The assignment for this reflection paper: Create a second conclusion to Where the Red Fern Grows and write it in the style of this author.

There standing on the hill, I could see the giant red fern with its arms spread out over the mountain tops. I ran outside, my new pups following me. I knelt down in the shade of the red ferns branches. I could barely see the graves, when my pups finally caught up to me, I  pushed away the long, silky red cover and revealed the two graves.

They sat in between the graves, Old Dan next to where Dan lies, and Little Ann at his side, sitting on the old mound of Little Ann. Together they raised their heads to the balcony of red above, and bawled the most beautiful sound ever heard in my life. They did it as one, from beginning to end: Little Ann with a sweet, high voice, and Old Dan, a low bellow.
Soon after that, I was taking them dogs hunting. We would go along, come back late at night for a fresh dinner, and then out again till morning. One night as I was walking deep in the forest, I saw an old tree, a very familiar old tree. I paced around it, looking it over inch by inch. I stopped, starred. There it was. I was awestruck, and couldn’t move. There was the bloodied ax that had sliced into the spine of a lion. There was the bloody ax, which had been plunged into the body of Ruben. There was the ax that I thought I would never see again.

Then the rusted frame of my old lantern skidded off of the handle and slid into the dirt. I picked my ax up, and looked past it’s splintered handle, past the rust, and moldy blood, as I looked into the ax, I saw the face of old Dan, Ruben and the lion. I saw a happy boy with his grandpa at the store. The boy in Tahlequah with his fists up, and ready to fight. That little boy in the mirror, rugged and dirty; I saw the small boy crying for his dogs. I woke from this dream at the shrill cry of my hounds bawling – treed. Also, like my other dogs, Little Ann had the smarts, and Old Dan the strength. Together they could do anything. So I dusted off my old ax and said, as if to the air, “It’s all right, I got’ em.”
I walked toward the beautiful ring and found that this coon was treed in what you would call a ‘Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.’ I almost fell down, I was laughing so hard. They looked at me, puzzled by my actions. I stopped, clapped my hands, and in a high pitched voice said, “Good dogs! You treed your first coon.”

Little Ann barked and hopped. And just like the old Old Dan would, he turned to the tree, and bawled. I took up my ax, and swung it at the small tree; the poor thing lost most its branches. Knowing he was in danger, the coon screeched, jumped onto another tree, lost his balance, and toppled to the ground with a hard blow. He was unconscious, and never woke up again.
With the skin, my dogs and I marched home with chins up, and prideful steps. Little Ann looked up into my eyes as if to say, “How’d we do?” I smiled back at her and said, “Great, Little Girl, just great.”

1:15 – 2:20 Nature Study – Our nature study teacher arrives and students head off with field notebooks to Ferncroft Reservation. Today’s field work will form the basis for more detailed study in class the next day. Sketches from the field notebook will then be copied into the student’s main Nature Study Notebook with accompanying written descriptions researched from online or from Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study.


If you are walking though Ferncroft Woods, you just might happen to see a bullfrog. Even though they are nocturnal, you will still sometimes see them in the day time. You can see them at Ferncroft in the vernal pools. Bullfrogs are usually green with black spots and white undersides. You may have heard them make a croaking noise. The males do this because it is their mating call. Bullfrogs eat fish, worms, snakes, mice, and sometimes other bullfrogs. They range in size from 3 to 8 inches long and can also jump very far.

(on another day) 1:15 – 2:20  Scripture with Written Narration – Students gather with their Bibles in the study room. A brief introduction is given by the teacher. Bibles are opened to the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. These students have been working through this story paragraph by paragraph. One student reads through the new passage. Others then share their impressions on the meaning of the story. Bibles are then closed and set aside. Silence follows as each student works independently to write his or her own narration and draw an illustration into their Scripture notebook. In a few weeks, they will have their own version of The Joseph Story. 

The Pharaoh summoned Joseph from the dungeon. He said to Joseph, “I have heard you can interpret dreams.” Joseph replied, “It is not me; it is God who shall tell Pharaoh what to do.” Then Pharaoh told Joseph his dream: “I was standing on the bank of the Nile. Seven handsome, fat cows came out of the water. As they stood grazing in the reeds, seven ugly, gaunt cows followed them. The seven ugly cows swallowed up the seven healthy cows. But no one could tell this happened because they were just as ugly and gaunt as before! Then I had another dream: There were seven healthy ears of corn, but there were also seven ugly, wind-blown ears. The wind-blown ears swallowed up the healthy ones.” “What does it mean?” asked Pharaoh. Joseph answered, “It means seven years of abundance, then seven years of famine.”

Then Joseph told the Pharaoh that he should appoint someone to be Overseer of the land. During the years of abundance, he should set aside grain, so that there would be a supply of food available in the time of famine. This advice pleased the Pharaoh and he said to Joseph, “Since God has sent you to us, no one can be as wise and discerning as you.” The Pharaoh took off his signet ring and gave it to Joseph. “I shall be the only one in the land to out-rank you. I put you in charge over the whole land of Egypt.” Pharaoh then dressed him in fine garments and gave him a gold chain necklace.

Pharaoh said, “No one shall move hand nor foot throughout all the land of Egypt without your approval.” And Pharaoh bestowed on Joseph the name Zaphenath–peneah.

Other subjects during the week include: Acting, Art,  Art Appreciation, Composer Study, Handicrafts (woodworking, knitting)  Leadership, Logic, Music composition/practice, Spanish.

2:20 Clean up Students do their assigned clean-up tasks.

2:30 End of day

As you can see in the above description, it is the students who are doing the work of education.  They are reflecting, problem solving, reading aloud, narrating, discussing, exploring, observing, recording, researching, illustrating, writing, creating, and presenting their work. The teacher acts as philosopher and guide while the students do the work of attending, thinking, and expressing their ideas.  As Charlotte Mason explains:

The children are the responsible persons.  They do the work by self effort.  The teachers give the uplift of their sympathy in the work and where necessary elucidate, sum up or enlarge, but the actual work is done by the scholars.”  Mason, A Philosophy of Education, 6