My Favorite Resources for Charlotte Mason Homeschooling: Language Arts

Last month, I introduced a series of blog posts that I plan to go through over the next few months, sharing some of my favorite Charlotte Mason homeschool resources broken down by subject. These are the ones we’ve tried and have been so helpful in making our days run more smoothly. They have also engaged my kids in whatever subject we’re covering. In some cases, they’re resources that have been made by other homeschooling moms or are from reputable homeschooling companies, and sometimes they’re just different items that have been helpful to us in a specific subject.

These are by no means the only resources out there, and I will offer others in some subjects that I have heard of but haven’t had the chance to try yet, or I have friends who have used them and appreciate them. But the main list will be the resources we’ve used in our homeschool over the last (almost!) six years that have been so helpful to us.

Today I’m sharing resources for Language Arts! So many aspects of my children’s education look wildly different from my own school years. This includes language arts and, in particular, spelling. Whereas I remember memorizing lists of disembodied words before being tested on them, these days, we read passages from classic literature when we begin our spelling lessons.

This is only part of “language arts,” though. Of course, there is grammar for my oldest, and both kids do copywork daily. But I feel the most significant part of learning “language arts” for us has been the exposure to rich language all along. As Ms. Mason says, “They must grow up upon the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told..” (Vol. 2).

Language arts goes beyond the mechanics. When we present our children with rich language, they will inevitably assimilate it, and it will become part of their vernacular. I have seen this many times and have often been surprised at how much they understand and how many “big” words (correctly used!) pop out of their mouths. It’s fun to see.

I’m breaking this category down into the parts of our homeschool that I feel fall under the “Language Arts” banner, including transcription (or copywork/handwriting), reading instruction, written narration, grammar, dictation (or spelling), and recitation. You can see AmblesideOnline’s overview of Language Arts here.

Transcription (or Copywork/Handwriting)

Value of Transcription -The earliest practice in writing proper for children of seven or eight should be, not letter writing or dictation, but transcription, slow and beautiful work, for which the New Handwriting is to be preferred, though perhaps some of the more ornate characters may be omitted with advantage.

Transcription should be an introduction to spelling. Children should be encouraged to look at the word, see a picture of it with their eyes shut, and then write from memory.

Children should Transcribe favourite Passages. – A certain sense of possession and delight may be added to this exercise if children are allowed to choose for transcription their favourite verse in one poem and another. This is better than to write a favourite poem, an exercise which stales on the little people before it is finished. But a book of their own, made up of their own chosen verses, should give them pleasure.

Small Text-Hand – Double-ruled Lines – Double ruled lines, small text-hand, should be used at first, as children are eager to write very minute ‘small hand,’ and once they have fallen into this habit it is not easy to get good writing. A sense of beauty in their writing and in the lines they copy should carry them over this stage of their work with pleasure. Not more than ten minutes or a quarter of an hour should be given to the early writing-lessons. If they are longer the children get tired and slovenly.

Charlotte Mason (Home Education)


Getty-Dubay Handwriting Series

AO Copywork Files by Year (this is in the AO Facebook group – search for “copywork”)


31 Days Of Charlotte Mason: What Is Copywork?
Slow and Beautiful Work
AmblesideOnline: Copywork

When my older child began copywork, I simply made copywork pages at WorksheetWorks from whatever poem we were learning for recitation at the time. In hindsight, I should’ve spent more time on letter formation with him as he forms his letters in non-traditional ways, but his handwriting has always been very neat, so it has never really been an issue. On the other hand, his sister has been different, so I am going through the Getty-Dubay Handwriting books with her (with significant improvement already). Once she finishes those, we will go back to traditional copywork.

I allow my older student to pick his copywork selections, though he usually doesn’t. Instead, he just copies his current recitation pieces. When he has gone through all of his recitation pieces, I will use the AO copywork files linked above, which take excerpts from the books assigned in the AO schedule for specific years.

My hope is that they will both eventually choose their own copywork pieces and when (if? :)) that happens, I will get them their own commonplace books.


(You can see what Ms. Mason said about the first reading lessons here, but we did not use this method.)


Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Bob Books

Treadwell Readers
Little Bear Books
Frog and Toad Books

I was always of the mindset to wait on formal reading instruction until my kids were ready for it (and there is evidence that waiting is a good thing). My son was very hesitant to learn to read, so we waited until he was older, and now he is a voracious reader, though it did take him a while to get to this point. My daughter was chomping at the bit to learn how to read and was working on chapter books by the end of first grade. Every child is different!

Beginning in Year 1, we went through the entire Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book. I ended up dreading this part of our lesson time each day because this book is incredibly tedious, but it does what it says it will. The lessons are tedious, but they are easy, and both of my kids were fluent readers even before we finished the book.

To break things up a bit, and because it was only 100 lessons, I opted to do three days per week of these lessons (or fifteen minutes, whichever was shorter) and then went through a Bob book on Thursdays (we go for a hike or attend our nature group on Fridays so we had no reading time on those days). When we finished 100 Easy Lessons, we started the Treadwell Readers the first three days of the week, then continued with the Bob books on Thursdays. When we finished the Bob books, we started the Little Bear Books on Thursdays and then moved on to the Frog and Toad books while we finished the Treadwell Readers the first few days of the week.

After they finished all of the early reader books, through Year 3, I’ve had them read something from a chapter book (usually one of the AO free reads for their year) for ten minutes a day to me. Then in year 4, they begin doing some of the assigned readings on their own.

I have seen that 100 Easy Lessons doesn’t work for every family, but I would choose to do it again if I had more students.

Written Narration

Narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education. A creative fiat calls it forth. ‘Let him narrate’; and the child narrates, fluently, copiously, in ordered sequence, with fit and graphic details, with a just choice of words, without verbosity or tautology, so soon as he can speak with ease. This amazing gift with which normal children are born is allowed to lie fallow in their education. Bobbie will come home with a heroic narrative of a fight he has seen between ‘Duke’ and a dog in the street. It is wonderful! He has seen everything, and he tells everything with splendid vigour in the true epic vein; but so ingrained is our contempt for children that we see nothing in this but Bobbie’s foolish childish way! Whereas here, if we have eyes to see and grace to build, is the ground-plan of his education.

Charlotte Mason (Home Education)


Know and Tell


Written Narration: The Next Step in Composition
AmblesideOnline: Narration

I wrote more about narration in general in my How to Get Started with Charlotte Mason Homeschooling post, so you can read more about it and see resources there. Generally, oral narration is done through Year 3, and then beginning in Year 4 (or Form II), students also start doing written narration (while still continuing oral narration). My older student was very reluctant (and still is) to write, so we waited until Year 5, and he has been doing one written narration per week. I plan to increase this frequency in Year 6 while introducing a typing course so he can type his written narrations, which I think will be more appealing to him.

I’ll add that if you’re new to narration of any kind, including written narration, I can’t recommend Know and Tell enough. Karen Glass included many examples of oral and written narrations from different students that can give you a good idea of what most Charlotte Mason students are doing at a given age.


Of grammar, Latin and English, I shall say very little here. In the first place, grammar, being a study of words and not of things, is by no means attractive to the child, nor should he be hurried into it. English grammar, again, depending as it does on the position and logical connection of words, is peculiarly hard for him to grasp… Because English grammar is a logical study, and deals with sentences and the positions that words occupy in them, rather than with words, and what they are in their own right, it is better that the child should begin with the sentence, and not with the parts of speech; that is, that he should learn a little of what is called analysis of sentences before he learns to parse; should learn to divide simple sentences into the thing we speak of, and what we say about it––’The cat––sits on the hearth’––before he is lost in the fog of person, mood, and part of speech.

Charlotte Mason (Home Education)


Junior Analytical Grammar


31 Days Of Charlotte Mason: On Grammar
AmblesideOnline: Grammar

We began grammar lessons in Year 4 with Junior Analytical Grammar per the recommendation of my friend Jennifer who used it with her kids. I like this program because it feels more conversational than the grammar lessons I grew up with, and each unit has a writing practice lesson called “playing with words.” As I mentioned above, my son is a reluctant writer, so this has been good practice for him.

We’ll most likely finish the Junior Analytical Grammar book by the end of this year or early next year, and then we’ll move on to the Mechanics book.


Dictation lessons, conducted in some such way as the following, usually result in good spelling. A child of eight or nine prepares a paragraph, older children a page, or two or three pages. The child prepares by himself, by looking at the word he is not sure of, and then seeing it with his eyes shut. Before he begins, the teacher asks what words he thinks will need his attention. He generally knows, but the teacher may point out any word likely to be a cause of stumbling. He lets his teacher know when he is ready. The teacher asks if there are any words he is not sure of. These she puts, one by one, on the blackboard, letting the child look till he has a picture, and then rubbing the word out. If anyone is still doubtful he should be called to put the word he is not sure of on the board, the teacher watching to rub out the word when a wrong letter begins to appear, and again helping the child to get a mental picture. Then the teacher gives out the dictation, clause by clause, each clause repeated once. She dictates with a view to the pointing, which the children are expected to put in as they write; but they must not be told ‘comma,’ ‘semicolon,’ etc. After the sort of preparation I have described, which takes ten minutes or less, there is rarely an error in spelling. If there be, it is well worth while for the teacher to be on the watch with slips of stamp-paper to put over the wrong word, that its image may be erased as far as possible. At the end of the lesson, the child should again study the wrong word in his book until he says he is sure of, and should write it correctly on the stamp-paper.

Charlotte Mason (Home Education)


Spelling Wisdom
Post-it Page Markers

We also began dictation in Year 4 with Spelling Wisdom from Simply Charlotte Mason. I like these books because they include a collection of passages from living texts which the child is meant to look at, as outlined above, so there is nothing for me to prepare. I’m not sure what “stamp-paper” is, but the post-it page markers have worked well for us to cover up the misspelled words. We begin our spelling lessons by reading passages from living texts, as I mentioned above. While we’re reading through it, we look for words that might be problematic, then I write them on a whiteboard to focus on them and remind him to look at them and close his eyes to try and visualize the word in his mind. Then I cover the passage and read it aloud to him, usually breaking it up by punctuation (e.g., giving him a section between commas or periods). Any misspelled words are covered with a post-it while he goes through the rest of the passage. It’s then uncovered, he studies the words he missed, then it’s covered again, and he tries those words a second time.

If he makes punctuation errors, I do not cover these, but when we’re done correcting the misspelled words, we’ll also correct the punctuation errors as well.


Recitation and committing to memory are not necessarily the same thing, and it is well to store a child’s memory with a good deal of poetry, learnt without labour. Some years ago I chanced to visit a house, the mistress of which had educational notions of her own, upon which she was bringing up a niece. She presented me with a large foolscap sheet written all over with the titles of poems, some of them long and difficult: Tintern Abbey, for example. She told me that her niece could repeat to me any of those poems that I liked to ask for, and that she had never learnt a single verse by heart in her life. The girl did repeat several of the poems on the list, quite beautifully and without hesitation; and then the lady unfolded her secret. She thought she had made a discovery, and I thought so too. She read a poem through to E.; then the next day, while the little girl was making a doll’s frock, perhaps, she read it again; once again the next day, while E.’s hair was being brushed. She got in about six or more readings, according to the length of the poem, at odd and unexpected times, and in the end E. could say the poem which she had not learned.

Charlotte Mason (Home Education)


Free Recitation Guidelines and Student Log

Articles (read these before using the student log!)

That They Might Delight in Knowing
Ruminating on Recitation

Before each term begins, I look for recitation pieces for both students using the guidelines from the download linked above. For Bible passages, I look through whatever Bible readings we have assigned that term on the AO schedule and pull out the ones I think are especially good to know. For poetry, I ask my students what they’d like to learn for recitation or pick something from a poet we have assigned for that term (from the AO poetry schedule). We also learn two hymns and folksongs each term during Morning Time that are learned for recitation.

Once per day, each child stands in front of me and reads from their text for that day (Monday – Old Testament, Tuesday – New Testament, Wednesday – Psalm, Thursday – poem and we also sing our hymns and folksongs twice/week). The goal of Recitation is not necessarily memorization (though that does sometimes happen), but by reading these every week and getting to know the text intimately, the students can read them clearly, well, and with emotion, which has been a very neat part of our lesson time!

So these are the resources we use in our Charlotte Mason homeschool for Language Arts! In my next post in the series, I’ll be sharing our favorite resources for Math and Geography! If you’re not signed up for my newsletter, click here to get a notification when the new post is available!

Other posts in the series:

The post My Favorite Resources for Charlotte Mason Homeschooling: Language Arts appeared first on a humble place.