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Posts from the ‘Charlotte Mason’ Category

Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park

My kids and I are huge fans of award-winning writer, Linda Sue Park. Her book, A Single Shard, is one of our favourites. It is a vividly told tale set in Ch’ul’po, a potter’s village, in 12th-century Korea. The protagonist is 10-year-old orphan, named for a mushroom that grows “without benefit of parent-seed”. He was raised by Crane-man (he has a shrivelled leg). These two outcasts make their home under the bridge and scavenge for food, refusing to beg or steal. When he accidentally breaks a pot belonging to Min, a master potter, he has to work off his debt and this sets off a series of change. I won’t say more except that if you like a story about loyalty, courage and love, then this is the book for you.

My friend at Tea and A Think is a fellow fan of the book :) She has compiled a wonderful list of facts on Korea and links to celadon pottery and Korean food. You can do a great unit study based on these links and her other book recommendations.

We’ve also enjoyed Linda Sue Park’s other books. I strongly believe in using living books and hers are wonderful for History and Geography. See Saw Girl tells of Jade, a girl of good social standing in 17th-century Korea who longs to see the world. Women then did not leave home (LITERALLY) till they married and then, did not ever step outside the walls of their marriage home. The Kite Fighters is about two brothers Kee-Sup and Young-Sup in 15th-century Korea. Young-Sup, the younger, often feels envious of his older brother, who seems to be favoured simply because he is the first-born. When the young king enlists their help for a kite competition, they learn to complement each other and understand each other better.

When My Name Was Keoko takes us to a more contemporary time – 1940 to the end of the second World War. Korea has been occupied by the Japanese since 1910 and their oppressive rulers are determined to erase the Korean identity and culture through propoganda and outright force. We see the struggle of the Korean people through Sun-hee (who is forced to take on the Japanese name Keoko) and her brother Tae-yul who narrate the story in turns. Each of the characters we meet show courage in their own unique way. We learn not just about role of Japan in WW2 but also what happens to Korea after it regains its independence. What makes this story even more meaningful is that the characters were inspired by true stories told by the author’s friends and family.

Linda Sue Park

Korean paper doll – lots more paperdolls from all over the world available for download at Education.Com

Narration – Prophet Ayoub

Lives of the Prophets – Prophet Ayoub (Job), `alayhis salaam
narrated by Ms M. Kiyani

Once, there was a man named Ayoub. He was a Prophet of Allah and he was a wealthy man. He had many children and a good wife. He had every kind of wealth – he had cattle, land, a big house and a lot of money.

But one day, Allah decided to test him, which meant that all his wealth was taken from him. All his children died and even his health was taken away from him. One by one, his family began to desert him. Finally, the whole town threw him out of the city onto a rubbish heap. Some scholars say that his flesh began to fall off, leaving only muscle and bone behind.

His wife stayed with him, carrying out things he could not do. One by one, the people did not hire her as she was the wife of Ayoub. One day, she became so desperate that she went to the rich people of the town and sold her braid for good food. She brought the food to Ayoub `alayhis salaam and he asked her, “Where did you get this food?”

She gave a very vague answer, saying, “I provided service somewhere.”

The next day, again, she became desperate and she sold her other braid for good food. When she brought it to Ayoub `alayhis salaam, he refused to eat it, saying, “I will not eat this food until you tell me how you got it.” She removed her hijab/scarf and he saw that her hair had been cut. He was very angry and upset and swore that he would beat her a hundred times.

One day, Ayoub `alayhis salaam was instructed by Allah to strike the ground with his foot and from that place, there came a pool of water gushing. He was instructed to bathe in the water and while he bathed, all his sickness was washed away. After he had bathed, Allah sent to him a dress from Paradise. He was told to put this on by Allah and after that, he sat down in a corner.

When his wife came, she did not find Ayoub `alayhis salaam as she had left him and she did not recognise him. She asked the man who was sitting there, “O servant of Allah. Where is the man who was inflicted with disease when I left him? I am afraid that the dogs or wolves have carried him away and eaten him.” She kept talking.

When she stopped talking, Ayoub `alayhis salaam stood up and said, “O my wife. I am Ayoub.”

She said, “Do not mock me!”

He said, “It is me. I am Ayoub.”

Then, she finally recognised him.

All his children were returned to him and the like of them.

All his wealth was returned to him and then more.

On top of all that, Allah rained down golden locusts on top of him. He was catching them in the folds of his clothes and Allah said, “O Ayoub! Have you not enough of my blessings?”

Ayoub `alayhis salaam laughed and said, “O Allah! No one can have enough of your blessings.”

Ayoub had to beat his wife a hundred times because he had promised, remember? He did not really want to beat his wife because she had been a good lady when he was sick and had worked without complaint. He had lost control in the heat of the moment. Allah told him to tie bundle of one hundred reeds together and to tap his wife once.

I learnt from Ayoub `alayhis salaam that you should always be patient. He never complained about his sickness and he was always grateful for what Allah had given him in the past seventy years. We should also follow in his footsteps in being grateful. We should also follow his wife because she was a good woman and never complained about her husband’s disease and having to work hard.

The reward from Allah is great for one who is patient.

Astronomy Notebook

Mars and I have been easing into notebooking, particularly for Science. She doesn’t really enjoy writing because she finds it exhausting (you would understand why if you could see the amount of Arabic homework she has to do on a daily basis!) and also for reasons I have stated earlier. Still, she has agreed to give it her best shot and upon seeing the notebooking sheets I’ve prepared, seems really excited as well, alhamdulillah. It helps that Science is her favourite subject – there are numerous topics we can delve into, not to mention the multiple ways in which we can process, collate and present the information.

Notebooking is a useful tool for teaching students how to organise their material and thinking. In addition, they will be able improve their reading and writing skills. As a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, I ask Mars to narrate back or retell what they have learnt. In this way, I can be sure that we have covered all the bases and that she fully comprehends the lesson. Notebooking is also a form of narration – I like that it gets her to write and saves me the trouble of recording her narrations :P I have prepared her some sheets but I hope that in time, in shaa Allah, she will use her talents and creativity to personalise her notebooks.

Here’s an Astronomy Notebook I am sharing with you. Nothing fancy – I’ve kept it really basic so it’s easily adaptable. Pages have not been numbered so you can print and arrange them as you see fit. The notebook includes pages for:

  • the cover
  • references on the universe from the Qur’an and Sunnah
  • individual planets and other celestial objects
  • new words (word bank)
  • a discussion on astrology and Islam’s position
  • illustrations and descriptions

Download by clicking on the image below.

Astronomy Notebook

Imaan.Net's Astronomy Notebook

Feedback will be greatly appreciated :)

Still more on handwriting…

Mars has been downright depressed about her handwriting. She and a friend were designing a publication and her work was erased because, she was told, it was simply “not good enough”.

I have not pushed her in this area simply because I don’t think the problem is that dire. It isn’t like she needs to be rushed into therapy – her handwriting, while a little erratic, is quite legible. I know though that her thoughts are exactly what her friend verbalised – “not good enough”. She has a perfectionist streak but her motor skills simply don’t match up and this has caused her a great deal of frustration. She often makes her writing extremely small even though I have told her that small doesn’t necessarily mean neat. Perhaps she thinks that large handwriting only make the flaws more prominent.

Anyway, I’ve been making more notebooking and copywork materials for her, Charlotte Mason homeschooler that I am :P In shaa Allah I will make them available for download soon. I just need a good PDF converter that won’t mess up my lovely designs :P If you know a good one (preferably free!), please let me know.

Edit: OK I feel silly now… there is a Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS Add-In that allows you to export and save to the PDF and XPS formats in eight 2007 Microsoft Office programs. I used to KNOW these things :P

Still more on copywork

Here are a few free resources for those interested in copywork:

Tracing Guides – important so the child models the letters correctly

Fonts – manuscript

Fonts – Cursive

Notebooking/Copywork Sheets


A Child should Execute Perfectly. No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course… Set him six strokes to copy; let him, not bring a slateful, but six perfect strokes, at regular distances and at regular slopes. If he produces a faulty pair, get him to point out the fault, and persevere until he has produced his task; if he does not do it to-day, let him go on to-morrow and the next day, and when the six perfect strokes appear, let it be an occasion of triumph. So with the little tasks of painting, drawing, or construction he sets himself–let everything he does be well done… Closely connected with this habit of ‘perfect work’ is that of finishing whatever is taken in hand. The child should rarely be allowed to set his hand to a new undertaking until the last is finished.
~ Charlotte Mason

I have done precious little of copywork with Ms M for someone who is supposed to follow the Charlotte Mason approach in homeschooling. I have been striving to remedy that since relocating to Pakistan and alhamdulillah, Ms M is now enjoying writing. She has a journal in which she scribbles her stories and thoughts. Her copywork book is used not only for penmanship but also reading and narrating.

So just what does copywork entail? In it, a child is expected to copy a selection of meaningful and well-written work in his best penmanship. However, it is more than just perfecting handwriting – it is about instilling and perfecting proper grammar, spelling and phrasing through copying great literature.

The child learns to spell well by looking at the word, seeing it with his mind’s eye and then writing it from memory. A friend of mine who does a great deal of copywork points out that you must not allow a child to spell a word wrongly on paper because this will create an impression of the wrongly spelt word in his mind. In my elder daughter’s case, copywork is ideal – she is highly auditory and while she reads very well, is weak in visualising words for spelling.

Copywork helps to improve writing techniques because the child is exposed to a wide variety of quality literature and thus, diverse writing styles and techniques. It is a nice way of teaching punctuation and grammar – he gets to see it in action as opposed to learning the mere mechanics, which can be so dry.

These are a few things that might help make copywork a success:

  • Keep copywork sessions short. Since Ms M has yet to master neatness, trying to shape her letters nicely and meticulously tires her. I try to keep copywork sessions to no more than 15 minutes.
  • Use a variety of interesting sources. We use Qur’anic verses, ahadeeth, meaningful passages from books that my kids love, Aesop’s fables, poetry (sometimes funny ones help!) and quotes or idioms. Basically, copywork sessions are fun because Ms M knows that she gets to read something really interesting each time. I reproduce the full poem or short story because likes a good yarn and because she is a context kind of girl, but she only has to copy a small selection of it, which I have formatted in bold.
  • Make the book all the child’s own. We made our own copywork book. I kept in mind Ms M’s interests when I compiled the material. Her book’s cover has her name and vintage clip art which she loves.
  • Incorporate copywork with other subjects. Umm Tafari of River City Homeschoolers says that she alternates with science, history, and Islamic studies passages. I can see the wisdom in this – if the child is already journalling or notebooking, then we can compromise and ask him to write extracts of his studies in his best writing so he doesn’t have to do copywork as an exclusive subject.

Umm Tafari uses the Startwrite programme, which looks very handy ma shaa Allah, and Handwriting Without Tears. You can download lots of notebooking and copywork pages from sites like Notebooking Pages and Notebooking Nook.

I prefer using the writing exercise books available here in Islamabad and my own pages that I format using MS Word. I use 4 lines instead of 2 or 3. The letters sit on the third line – capitals and tall letters like (b, d, h, l etc.) go all the way up to the first/top line. The second line is the midway point and is shorter letters (like c, e, m, n, o, etc.). Hanging letters like (g, j, p, q, etc.) go down to the fourth line. I don’t know if this makes sense – I’ll upload a copy of our copywork book if anyone is interested :) (EDIT: OK, did some more research – I use top, middle, bottom & descender lines.)

I’ve recently purchased Penny Gardner’s Italics, Beautiful Handwriting for Children because my daughter wants to try cursive. I think this was a little premature though :)

We need to do more Arabic copywork… this Ramadan in shaa Allah. Any ideas?

Nature Studies


Some resources we have found online…


Nature Stories – free/public domain

Charles Kingsley (1819 – 1876)

Arabella Buckley

Thornton W. Burgess (1874 – 1965)

Clara Dillingham Pierson


New Delights & Impressions

Jasmines in Dadi's Garden

“Well, we have been seeing flowers for years – but our children haven’t. Flowers are still new and wonderful to them, and it’s the fault of grown-ups if every new flower they see ceases to delight them.”
~ Charlotte Mason, volume 1 page 53

In Dadi's Garden-2

“They must be left to themselves for a good part of the day to take in their own impressions of nature’s beauty. There’s nothing worse than children being deprived of every moment to wonder and dream within their own minds because teachers and adults are constantly talking at them, not leaving them a moment’s peace. Yet, the mother must not miss this opportunity of being outdoors to train the children to have seeing eyes, hearing ears and seeds of truth deposited into their minds to grow and blossom on their own in the secret chambers of their imaginations.”
~ Charlotte Mason, volume 1, page 45