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Learning to Read the Charlotte Mason Way

Compiled and prepared by Sandra D. Yarbrough


The following Reading Lessons have been pulled directly from Charlotte Masons book, Home Education, pp. 207-222. This is CMs plan, I just changed her format from paragraph style into a step-by-step reading plan. Quotation marks are where I have quoted directly from CMs Home Education. The other steps are CMs I just translated into a direction in modern English. CM outlines several different styles of teaching reading from pre-reading, to Cock Robin, to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. I chose First Lessons with I Like Little Pussy because I thought it would suit my child, who had just turned 8 at the time, had pre-reading skills, knew his letters and letter sounds, some blends, and had been trying to learn to read using Phonics since Kindergarten with little success. You may want to choose a different poem or adapt this to your own style. I strongly suggest that you read pp. 199-222 before trying to teach CMs methods.

Lesson Preparation
STEP ONE: Print out the following portion of the poem I Like Little Kitty. The original poem in Home Education is called I Like Little Pussy. I chose to change it to Kitty because we dont really use the word pussy to mean kitty anymore in the United States. But feel free to change it back to pussy if youd like.

I like little kitty, Her coat is so warm, And if I don't hurt her She'll do me no harm; So I'll not pull her tail, Nor drive her away, But kitty and I Very gently will play.

STEP TWO: Print or Write these word cards on cardstock and cut apart or follow CMs instructions to cut them out and paste the sheets on common drawing-paper (p. 211). You may not use all of the cards. It will depend on your child.

I is dont no her but will moat pike lo farm mail band Burt cull live live may flay cut bill kill

like so hurt harm tail kitty play stoat bike arm marm nail land curt lull beehive belay nay clay gut dill mill

little warm her So nor And oat brittle tike harm bail pail hand yurt dull five day pay tray nut fill pill

kitty and shell Ill drive I boat tittle spike charm fail sail sand for mull chive stay ray fray put gill sill

her if do not her very float skittle no barm hail vail wand bull alive give bay say gray rut hill till

coat I me pull away gently goat mike do alarm jail wail won't full dive wives lay slay jay tut jill ill

STEP THREE: Gather your materials. Materials: Large White/Dry Erase Board or Chalkboard (could also use large sheets of paper) Dry Erase Markers or Chalk or Markers Little Kitty/Pussy poem TWO or THREE sets of 3-D letters (plastic letters, or wooden/felt/sandpaper cut out letters, or letter blocks whatever you have). I used plastic refrigerator magnet letters. You will need more than one set of letters. Cut out Word Cards from I like little kitty. NOW YOU ARE READY TO BEGIN! Be sure you read over the Lesson and go over it with yourself ahead of time! You want the lesson to go smoothly and be fun for your child and I know from experience it wont be fun if you are stumbling around trying to read the lesson as you go! NOTE: It was my experience that each lesson was actually too long for my ds. I ended up breaking each lesson down into smaller parts; another reason to practice with yourself first so you know how long each step will take. KEEP THE LESSONS SHORT no more than one minute for every year of your childs life. STOP THE LESSON WHILE THEY ARE STILL HAVING FUN. DO NOT PRESS ON BECAUSE YOU ARE EXCITED AND THEY ARE LEARNING.

Lesson One: CM suggests this as day one of lessons. Practice with yourself first and if it takes more
than 10-15 minutes, break it into several short lessons. 1. Assemble all of your materials. 2. Write the word on the board: k i t t y in good clear 'print' hand (p.212) 3. Say the word for ds 4. Have ds look at the word until he is sure he will know it again. My ds would close his eyes and say visualize to himself to memorize the word. He got really silly, but he had fun and he learned the words! 5. Cover the word on the board and have ds make 'kitty' from memory with his own loose letters (p.218). 6. Pour out the cut-up words for first two lines onto the table. 7. Ds finds kitty from the word cards. 8. Show him the printed poem and have him find 'kitty', but is not allowed yet to find out the run of the rhyme (p.218). Repeat steps 1-7 for: coat, little, like, is, her, warm, I, so 8. When each new word is learned, have ds put his word cards in a column to the side of his workspace. 9. I copy the words on the board in a column 10. Ds reads up and down and cris-cras, the column on the blackboard. (p.218) 11. He finds at our dictation, amongst his loose words, '[kitty]iswarm,' places them in 'reading' order, one after the other, and then reads off the sentence. Joy, as of one who has found a new planet!(pp.218-219) 12. Dictate more sentences, 'her-little-coat-is-warm,' 'Pussy-is-so-little,' 'I-like-pussy,' 'Pussy-is-little-like-hercoat,' and so on through a dozen more little arrangements. (p.219) Here are some sentences I created (feel free to create your own). Use only as many as you need to: Little-kitty-is-so-warm Kitty-is-warm Her-little-coat-is-warm Kitty-is-so-little I-like-kitty Little-kitty-is-so-warm I-like-her-coat Kitty-is-little-like-her-coat Kitty-is-warm-like-her-coat I-like-her-warm-coat If your ds/dd wishes to make their own sentences, let them. Just make sure they are correct sentences.

Lesson Two:
Todays lesson is a spelling lesson. You will want to read CMs description on p.219 before you begin this lesson. For each word that he has never heard before, or doesnt know the meaning of, CM suggests a little talk about [that word] p.219 As he makes each word with his letters, write them in a column on the board. Note that there are two more items in the materials list for this lesson a notebook and counters. If you dont know what a word is in the list, look it up before you begin the lesson so that the lesson is not interrupted. This lesson looks short, but it turned out to be long for us. Again, practice ahead of time so youll know how far you can get in 10-15 minutes and break the lesson down accordingly. Stop while your ds/dd is still having fun. Materials: Large White/Dry Erase Board or Chalkboard Dry Erase Markers or Chalk Little Kitty/Pussy poem TWO or THREE sets of 3-D letters (plastic letters, or wooden/felt/sandpaper cut out letters, or letter blocks whatever you have). I used plastic refrigerator magnet letters. You will need more than one set of letters. Cut out Word Cards from I Like Little Kitty poem. A notebook to record words Counters (any small manipulative will work) 1. Have ds/dd make the word 'coat' with his letters, from memory if he can; if not, with the pattern word.(p.219) Say 'coat' slowly; give the sound of the c. (p219) 2. 'Take away c, and what have we left?' A little help will get 'oat' from him.(p.219) 3. How would you make 'boat' (say the word very slowly, bringing out the sound of b). (p.219) 4. How would you make float? (say it slowly, bringing out the sound of fl) 5. How would you make goat? 6. How would you make moat? 7. How would you make stoat? (a stoat is a weasel with a black-tipped tail) If he offers a word like note that sound the same but is spelled differently say, 'No, note is spelt with other letters'; but what other letters we do not tell him now. Thus he comes to learn incidentally and very gradually that different groups of letters may stand for the same sounds. But we do not ask him to generalise; we only let him have the fact that n-oat does not spell the symbol we express by 'note.'p.219220) 8. He has made a group of words with his letters, and there they are on the black-board in a column, thus c-oat m-oat g-oat fl-oat st-oat b-oat (p.220) Take away the first letter(s), leaving oat in place and just have ds/dd add the new letters.

9. He reads the column up and down and cris-cras; every word has a meaning and carries an idea. p.220 10. Turn out the 9 loose word cards that he learned. 11. Dictate new sentences while he arranges his word cards to match. I-like-her-goat; her-little-stoat-iswarm, and so on, making the new words with loose letters. p.220 12. Unknown Words Dictate kitty is in the boat. If ds/dd knows the new words, spell them with your letters. Put counters for the words you dont know; they may soon come in our lessons.(p.220) 13. Like Combinations have Different Sounds Deal with remaining words as we did with coat. l-ittle yields brittle, tittle, skittle l-ike yields mike, pike, bike, tike, spike s-o yields no, do (the musical do), lo (if he offers toe, hoe, poe, bow, low, mow, etc, give the same explanation you gave for note. w-arm yields arm, harm, charm, barm, alarm, farm Tommy perceives that such a pronunciation is wrong and vulgar, and sees that all these words are sounded like 'arm,' but not one of them like 'warm'that is, he sees that the same group of letters need not always have the same sound. But we do not ask him to make a note of this new piece of knowledge; we let it grow into him gradually, after many experiences. (p.221) 14. By this time he has eighteen new words on the blackboard of which to make sentences with the nine loose words of [kitty]. Her skittle is little, her charm is brittle, her arm is warm, and so on (p.221) All sentences must make sense. No nonsense sentences should be allowed. Dont fuss about it, just say that isnt a sentence and go on to make correct sentences. But do let your ds/dd have fund making up new sentences. At this point, I give them the word cards for all the words he/she has learned so far. He/she can make any sentence they want. If they dont have a word card for a word they want to use, they can spell the word with their letters or use a counter to fill the space. 15. Write all of your ds/dds new words in his new notebook in print hand, so that he can take stock of his possessions in the way of words. (p.221). For the next few weeks, I would periodically bring out his notebook and show him all his new possessions all those glorious words! He really responded to them when I told him gleefully that he OWNS these words they are HIS own possession!

Lesson Three: These lines afford hardly any material for a spelling lesson, so in our next lesson we go on
with the second verse. (p.221) Materials: Large White/Dry Erase Board or Chalkboard Dry Erase Markers or Chalk Little Kitty/Pussy poem TWO or THREE sets of 3-D letters (plastic letters, or wooden/felt/sandpaper cut out letters, or letter blocks whatever you have). I used plastic refrigerator magnet letters. You will need more than one set of letters. Cut out Word Cards from I Like Little Kitty poem A notebook to record words Counters (any small manipulative will work) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Write the word on the board: h arm Look until you are sure you will know it again. Make harm from memory with loose letters Pour out loose words for these two lines only. He finds harm. Show him the printed poem and he finds the word harm, but do not allow reading of the poem right now.

7. Repeat 1-6 for: a nd, sh e l l, h urt, I, i f, m e, do, do n t, h e r, no 8. As each new word is learned, he/she makes a column with the word cards 9. I copy the words onto the board in a column. 10. He/She reads the words forwards, backwards, criss-cras until he knows all of them. 11. Turn out his loose letters, counters and the rest of his word cards that he has learned. 12. Dictate sentences using these eleven words plus the words he has already learned. He can use his word cards, loose letters and counters. He/she can create their own sentences, but he must follow these rules: He can use his loose letters IF he/she knows how to spell the word. If he/she does not KNOW the spelling, have him/her use counters. Charlotte Mason felt that children should never see a word misspelled. If they attempt to spell a word with their loose letters and it is incorrect, dismantle the word and either help her spell it correctly or have her use a counter. Here are some sentences I created. Feel free to create your own. Shell float in the boat. Her bike is little. I like her goat. Her farm has a goat and a moat. Mike and Kitty do charm me. Shell do no harm if I charm her. The moat is warm. I like her farm. Her moat is warm. 13. Write all of his new words from today in his notebook in good clear print hand.

Lesson Four:
Materials: Large White/Dry Erase Board or Chalkboard Dry Erase Markers or Chalk Little Kitty/Pussy poem TWO or THREE sets of 3-D letters (plastic letters, or wooden/felt/sandpaper cut out letters, or letter blocks whatever you have). I used plastic refrigerator magnet letters. You will need more than one set of letters. Cut out Word Cards from I Like Little Kitty poem A notebook to record words Counters (any small manipulative will work) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Write the word on the board: t ai l Look until you are sure you will know it again. Make tail from memory with loose letters Pour out loose words for these two lines only. He finds tail. Show him the printed poem and he finds the word tail, but do not allow reading of the poem right now.

7. Repeat 1-6 for: p ul l, s o , dri v e , no t, I ll , no r, aw ay , h e r 8. As each new word is learned, he/she makes a column with the word cards 9. I copy the words onto the board in a column. 10. He/She reads the words forwards, backwards, criss-cras until he knows all of them. 11. Turn out his loose letters, counters and the rest of his word cards that he has learned. 12. Dictate sentences using these eleven words plus the words he has already learned. He can use his word cards, loose letters and counters. He/she can create their own sentences, but he must follow these rules: He can use his loose letters IF he/she knows how to spell the word. If he/she does not KNOW the spelling, have him/her use counters. Charlotte Mason felt that children should never see a word misspelled. If they attempt to spell a word with their loose letters and it is incorrect, dismantle the word and either help her spell it correctly or have her use a counter. Miss Mason would suggest a counter for now. Here are some sentences I created. Feel free to create your own. Shell pull her boat to the moat. I drive her boat. No, shell not hurt Mike. Ill not harm her goat. Shell like her bike. Kitty and Mike like her farm. Shell go to the farm. 13. Write all of her new words from today in her notebook in good clear print hand.

Lesson Five: Spelling Lesson


Todays lesson is a spelling lesson. Review CMs description on p.219 before you begin this lesson. For each word that he has never heard before, or doesnt know the meaning of, CM suggests a little talk about [that word] p.219. This is a LONG lesson. Be sure to practice ahead of time so you can divide it into short lessons. You could divide each new word into a separate lesson. So after he/she does all the t-ail words, turn out his word cards, dictate sentences and write the words in her notebook. Next day, work on and. Next day, work on dont, hurt and nor together. Next day, pull. Next day drive. Next day away. Always stop BEFORE your child is tired and while he is still having fun. . Materials: Large White/Dry Erase Board or Chalkboard Dry Erase Markers or Chalk Little Kitty/Pussy poem TWO or THREE sets of 3-D letters (plastic letters, or wooden/felt/sandpaper cut out letters, or letter blocks whatever you have). I used plastic refrigerator magnet letters. You will need more than one set of letters. Cut out Word Cards from I Like Little Kitty poem A notebook to record words Counters (any small manipulative will work) 1. Have ds/dd make the word tail, from memory or, if he cant remember, write it on the board for him. 2. Say tail slowly, giving special emphasis on the t 3. Say, Take away t and what do we have? (answer: ail). 4. How would you make: b-ail f-ail h-ail j-ail m-ail n-ail p-ail s-ail v-ail w-ail If he offers a word like kale or dale that sound the same but is spelled differently say, 'No, [kale] is spelt with other letters'; but what other letters we do not tell him now. Thus he comes to learn incidentally and very gradually that different groups of letters may stand for the same sounds. But we do not ask him to

Take away the first letter(s), leaving ail in place and just have ds/dd add the new letters.

generalise; we only let him have the fact that [k-ail] does not spell the symbol we express by [kale].'p.219-220). Note: I adapted the quote to fit our word in this stanza.

5. He has made a group of words with his letters, and there they are on the black-board in a column, thus (p220)
bail fail hail jail mail nail pail sail vail wail

6. 7. 8. 9.

He/She reads the words forwards, backwards, criss-cras until he knows all of them Turn out all of the loose word cards that he has learned Dictate new sentences while he arranges his word cards to match. Deal with remaining words as we did with tail. (different pronunciation but dont explain or dwell on it) and = band land wand hand sand dont = hurt = wont burt curt yurt

If she offers a word like pert or dirt or flirt that sound the same but is spelled differently say, 'No, [dirt] is spelt with other letters'; but what other letters we do not tell him now. Thus he comes to learn incidentally and very gradually that different groups of letters may stand for the same sounds. But we do not ask him to generalise; we only let him have the fact that [d-urt] does not spell the symbol we express by [dirt].'p.219220). Note: I adapted the quote to fit our word in this stanza. (different pronunciations but nor = for dont explain or dwell on it) pull drive = bull dull = alive five beehive full lull dive chive wives cull mull live (long i) live (short i) give

away

= belay day stay lay

may nay pay ray

say way stray play

slay flay clay tray

fray gray bay jay

10. Dictate a few sentences using the new words and words he has learned in previous lessons. By this point, my ds had the hang of it and wanted to create his own sentences. But here are a couple of examples: Her tail is warm. Her charm is her tail. 11. Write her new words in her notebook.

Lesson Six:
In this lesson, you are basically repeating Lesson Three, but with the words of the last stanza. Materials: Large White/Dry Erase Board or Chalkboard Dry Erase Markers or Chalk Little Kitty/Pussy poem TWO or THREE sets of 3-D letters (plastic letters, or wooden/felt/sandpaper cut out letters, or letter blocks whatever you have). I used plastic refrigerator magnet letters. You will need more than one set of letters. Cut out Word Cards from I Like Little Kitty poem. A notebook to record words Counters (any small manipulative will work) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Write the word on the board: ki t t y Look until you are sure you will know it again. Make kitty from memory with loose letters Pour out loose words for these two lines only. He finds kitty. Show him the printed poem and he finds the word kitty, but do not allow reading of the poem right now.

7. Repeat 1-6 for: ge nt ly , b ut , p lay , w i ll, ve ry , and, I 8. As each new word is learned, he/she makes a column with the word cards 9. I copy the words onto the board in a column. 10. He/She reads the words forwards, backwards, criss-cras until she knows all of them. 11. Turn out his loose letters, counters and the rest of his word cards that he has learned. 12. Dictate sentences using these eight words plus the words she has already learned. She can use her word cards, loose letters and counters. She can create her own sentences, but she must follow these rules: She can use her loose letters IF she knows how to spell the word. If she does not KNOW the spelling, have her use counters. Charlotte Mason felt that children should never see a word misspelled. If they attempt to spell a word with their loose letters and it is incorrect, dismantle the word and either help them spell it correctly or have them use a counter.

Here are some sentences I created. Feel free to create your own. Shell float gently in the boat. Shell play gently. I will play very gently. 13. Write all of his new words from today in his notebook in good clear print hand.

Lesson Seven:
Todays lesson is a spelling lesson and the final reading lesson. . Materials: Large White/Dry Erase Board or Chalkboard Dry Erase Markers or Chalk Little Kitty/Pussy poem TWO or THREE sets of 3-D letters (plastic letters, or wooden/felt/sandpaper cut out letters, or letter blocks whatever you have). I used plastic refrigerator magnet letters. You will need more than one set of letters. Cut out Word Cards from I Like Little Kitty. A notebook to record words Counters (any small manipulative will work)

Have ds/dd make the word but, from memory or, if he cant remember, write it on the board for him. Say but slowly, giving special emphasis on the b Say, Take away b and what do we have? (answer: ail). How would you make: c-ut g-ut n-ut p-ut r-ut t-ut (different pronunciation but dont explain or dwell on it) Take away the first letter(s), leaving ut in place and just have ds/dd add the new letters.

If he offers a word like mutt or foot that sound the same but is spelled differently say, 'No, [foot] is spelt with other letters'; but what other letters we do not tell him now. Thus he comes to learn incidentally and very gradually that different groups of letters may stand for the same sounds. But we do not ask him to generalise; we only let him have the fact that [f-ut] does not spell the symbol we express by [foot].'p.219220). Note: I adapted the quote to fit our word in this stanza. He has made a group of words with his letters, and there they are on the black-board in a column, thus (p220) cut gut nut put rut tut

He/She reads the words forwards, backwards, criss-cras until he knows all of them 7. Next work with will. The other words either do not lend themselves to a spelling lesson or have already been spelled in an earlier lesson. will = b-ill s-ill m-ill g-ill d-ill t-ill k-ill h-ill f-ill J-ill p-ill

8. Write these words on the board as your child learns them. 9. Dictate new sentences while he arranges his word cards to match. She can create her own sentences, but she must follow these rules: She can use her loose letters IF she knows how to spell the word. If she does not KNOW the spelling, have her use counters. Charlotte Mason felt that children should never see a word misspelled. If they attempt to spell a word with their loose letters and it is incorrect, dismantle the word and either help them spell it correctly or have them use a counter. 10. Write all of the words your child has learned in Lessons 1-7 on the board. 11. He/She reads the words forwards, backwards, criss-cras. 12. Now, for the day we have been waiting for at last we get to read the entire verse of the poem! Pull out your copy of the poem and give it to your child to read. If they have trouble with any of the words, you can make a mental note to review that word another day with loose letters and visualizing. For now, CELEBRATE! It is a wonderful thing to hear him read this poem! I left the words on the whiteboard for a couple of weeks and placed it by the back door. As we went in and out, we would read a word or two on the board. Or every other day or so I would point randomly at some of the words and have him read them to me. At this point, we began reading McGuffeys Eclectic Primer. The fun thing is that at the end of this book, they have a version of the I Like Little Kitty poem. Its a great way to review and remind your child how far they have come. You can find McGuffeys for free at http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/14642 .

Please note: McGuffeys is my own recommendation and not that of Ambleside Online or Charlotte Mason. My ds8 responded very well to this primer, but you may find other readers that suit your child better.