This Is What Every Homeschool Bookshelf Needs: A Living Picture Book Biography Collection 

I am thoroughly enjoying this season of life, as it relates to read-alouds. Plopping myself down with a good picture book, I announce that it is time to read. Within a second, I have the bees buzzing up to the hive and all is well.

In fact, I cannot tell you how much I relish this time. Two or three kids surround me; their sweet heads rest inside the crooks of my elbows.

What’s on the menu today? I pull out a hardcover book with whimsical and detailed illustrations on its cover. In an instant, my daughter recognizes the work of the illustrator.
“This is a John Hendrix book!”

It sure is.

(Even if you only have one or two good picture books in your stash, that’s a win.)

Disclosure:  As an Amazon associate, I may earn a small commission from the purchase of some of these living biography picture books, at no additional cost to you.  I thank you for your support!

I am thoroughly enjoying this season of life, as it relates to read-alouds.  Plopping myself down with a good picture book, I announce that it is time to read.  Within a second, I have the bees buzzing up to the hive and all is well.  

In fact, I cannot tell you how much I relish this time.  Two or three kids surround me; their sweet heads rest inside the crooks of my elbows.  

What’s on the menu today?  I pull out a hardcover book with whimsical and detailed illustrations on its cover.  In an instant, my daughter recognizes the work of the illustrator. 

 “This is a John Hendrix book!”

It sure is.  

I mention the title: A Boy Called Dickens (by Deborah Hopkinson).  I crack it open and we are immediately taken on a flyover chase around London’s (almost) Victorian-era streets. The year is, well, long ago.  We can see that.  It would be helpful if the author gave an exact year, but in reading the author’s note, we can find out that British novelist Charles Dickens lived from 1812 to 1870.  This dreamlike picture book brings the reader in touch with the life of London’s poor youth.  

The chase-like scene sucks the reader in.  Where did Dickens go? Oh, there he is!

As the family gathers round for this reading, we learn that Charles Dickens had a dream to write stories, and was quite adept at telling them.  However, he had to overcome a major obstacle to realize his dream of becoming a true writer. 

I will not spoil it for you, but will point out that this book is one of a few that I would deem “living”.  

One hallmark of a Charlotte Mason education is the reading of good, living books.

“Our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential. Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is abundant provision and orderly serving.”

Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education

What, you might ask, is a living picture book?

Living books, generally speaking, have a few common elements (paraphrased from Simply Charlotte Mason website):

  1.  They are written in narrative form, by an author who is passionate about the subject on which he/she is writing.
  2. They are well-written and include a lot of description. 
  3. They feed the imagination and ignite the emotions.
  4. They contain living ideas, which spur the reader on to beauty, truth, awe, joy, confidence, compassion, etc. “Ideas are sparks of truth passed on from a greater thinker to another mind” (
We read these 3 while on our trip to the mountains Memorial Day Weekend.

How does one detect a good, living book?  

Usually, it only takes me a minute or two.  I read the book’s first page.  I skim the middle of the book.  I flip through the artwork on each page.  Oftentimes, a good illustrator will accompany a well-written book ( but not always).  I take into account how the author presents the material, and how engaging the story is for children and adults alike. Sometimes, I read the author’s note at the end of the book. I skim to ensure there are not any hidden agendas or glaringly inappropriate themes. These actions are what make up my quick “test”.

Let’s take a look at an example of a living picture book “opener”.  The first page of A Boy Called Dickens beckons me to plunge into its setting.  (As a side note, I would say this book is written for anyone about seven years old and up.) 

“This is old London, on a winter morning long ago.  Come along, now. We are here to search for a boy called Dickens.  He won’t be easy to find.  The fog has crept in, silent as a ghost, to fold the city in cold, gray arms.

Maybe the boy is down by the river – the thick, black Thames.  There are ragged children here, to be sure, scrambling for bits of copper and wood to sell.”

What did you learn from reading the first page?

I learned that the setting is London, a long time ago.  Foggy London is by the River Thames, and at that time there are many children on the streets who are trying to sell what they can find to make a little money.  I am still left wondering what year we are in, but that is not a deal-breaker, I suppose.

The first page is an excellent way to draw the reader in.  Throughout the book, Deborah Hopkinson uses vivid description, quotations, and clear transitions between time periods.  She weaves living ideas of perseverance and motivation into the story, as well as includes important facts.  Exposing children to biographical history in this way is more enjoyable than reading an encyclopedia article on the life of Charles Dickens, in my opinion.  

I stand up and grab another living biography off the bookshelf (or out of the book basket, in our case).

Maybe the kids will find this one endearing, I think to myself.

The title is Tad Lincoln’s Restless Wriggle: Pandemonium and Patience in the President’s House.  Written by Beth Anderson, it paints the picture of a loving and patient Lincoln with his impulsive, yet loveable son, Tad.  You might know the Lincolns’ story.  After losing a child, they have Tad: a vivacious, benevolent child, who is hard to understand when he opens his mouth, but has a heart to serve others.  This book is also pretty captivating, at first glance.  While it does show the everyday concerns of the president amid war, it does more than that. It highlights the uncertainty and trials of war, while also emphasizing the importance of charity and familial understanding.  Beth Anderson paints a picture of a winsome and sincere boy: Tad Lincoln. The opening page is quite simple, but accomplishes its purpose:

“Thomas Lincoln wriggled from the moment he was born.  Like a tadpole, thought Abraham, and he called his son ‘Tad’.  The name stuck.  So did the wriggle.”

I believe the reader could learn something about the demands of daily presidential life after reading this book, but even more, the reader is acquainted with the humanity of a presidential family.  A very nice author’s note is included in the back, with photographs of the Lincolns.

Now, for the book that surely engages children’s minds in more ways than just the historical: the engineering and innovative nature of Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and illustrated by Gilbert Ford will hook young engineers’ brains.  Themes of dreaming big and tenacity to persevere in the midst of criticism are central here.  Mr. George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr.  was the mastermind behind the unlikely monument that would become a landmark and mainstay of modernity: the ferris wheel. Learn about the process, from design to implementation.  Read about the ferris wheel’s debut at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.  

The first page test results in an easy decision to take the book home:

“It was only ten months until the next World’s Fair.  But everyone was still talking about the star attraction of the last World’s Fair.  At eighty-one stories, France’s Eiffel Tower was the world’s tallest building.  Its pointy iron and air tower soared so high that visitors to the top could see Paris in one breathtaking sweep.”

How does this page make you feel?  What does the page paint in your mind? 

I think you will find that the pages in Mr. Ferris and His Wheel are packed with facts, ideas, and artistic depictions of an era in time that showed our world was surely changing, with innovation and new technology at the forefront of science.

What should the result be, for our children, after reading living books? Delight and wonder are two things that should arise.  “This delight will arise from the experience of receiving those sparks of truth from the author” (

How about you, Mom or Dad? Shouldn’t you also experience delight in reading living books, too? I think so.

After evaluating my selection of books today, I must ask myself, “Why do I love the mid-to-late 1800s so much?”  

Maybe you’ll find a time period that draws you in.  Or perhaps you will be drawn to a particular group of people – inventors, artists, politicians, writers, explorers – and will want your children to take hold of the living ideas written about the lives of such notable women and men.  Flawed humans, yes, but significant to history. 

Think about what you want to read with your children this summer, “Mom” or “Dad”.

I hope your summer is filled with picture books that tell stories about people who accomplished great feats, lived lives that are different from your own, and most assuredly, were real humans who have a lot in common with you, too.  

Some of you might be familiar with the Charlotte Mason method of narration.  I am linking my narration matrix to this post for families who want to take reading aloud a step further

Recapping the Books:

A Boy Called Dickens

Tad Lincoln’s Restless Wriggle

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel


Anderson, B. (2021).  Tad Lincoln’s restless wriggle: Pandemonium and patience in the president’s house (S.D. Schindler, Illus.). Calkins Creek.

Davis, K. (2014). Mr. Ferris and his wheel (G. Ford, Illus.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.

Hopkinson, D. (2012). A boy called Dickens (J. Hendrix, Illus.). Schwartz & Wade Books.

One Month of Narration Ideas, Three Years’ Worth of Books!

Narration Ideas for Days… Book Ideas for YEARS!


I designed a narration resource back in June and wanted to give it a little facelift for you. I am linking it below. Narration is the “art of knowing” and retelling what you have learned after reading something. You can retell a reading in spoken words, in written words, or in another creative way. My aim in designing this matrix is to give you ideas in the case of brain cramp. We all get those at the most convenient moments, don’t we?


I want to bless you with three years’ worth of book recommendations. Each selection is carefully chosen based on the criteria for a living book.

A living book:

  • is written in narrative form by someone who is passionate about his or her subject
  • fires the emotions
  • ignites the imagination
  • is well-written
  • is written more like a chat with an expert in her field of expertise!

*90% of the books on my lists are living books. I denote the books that do not meet living book status, because there are some. I think you’ll love all of them, though. You can use them in any way you’d like. The content areas for the three Classical Conversations Cycles are present here in every book list. Enjoy, friends!

Year 1 Booklist

Year 2 Booklist

Year 3 Booklist

Make sure you don’t miss out on MORE resources and booklists! Sign up to be a part of our email community. It’s one way I encourage and show support to my most engaged audience.

What Narration Is and What Narration Is Not: My Opinion

In my humble opinion, narration is quite misunderstood. One of the newer habits I have aimed to introduce into our home education is the art of narration. I once read that an art is something practiced, but it is not a system to be mastered.

In my humble opinion, narration is quite misunderstood.  One of the newer habits I have aimed to introduce into our home education is the art of narration.  I once read that an art is something practiced, but it is not a system to be mastered. 

My oldest narrating the Frog and Toad story, “Down The Hill”. He recreated the scene by designing the sled in the story.

My go-to book for the art of narration has been Know and Tell: The Art of Narration by Karen Glass. It is a resource I have referred to from time-to-time.  At the same time, I have found a look at Your Questions Answered: Narration by Sonya Shafer to be helpful in coming up with alternatives to the question, “What did you read about?”.   I also designed a narration matrix to provide a variety of ideas you can implement to practice the art of retelling. It does not have to be boring!

In short, narration helps one to practice sifting through a reading.  A student beholds knowledge for herself as she sifts through and articulates her own relationships between the subjects and herself. 

I’ve found that our readings of The Story of the World (Ancient Times) captivate my seven-year-old son’s attention and engage us all.  The subjects in the history stories come up at mealtimes, during car rides, and within questions at bedtime.

I am not a purist, and I’m learning to do this thing called narration, however imperfectly.  I know I’ve been lacking in some areas, and I haven’t consistently kept up the habit of follow-up discussion after narration.  I’m going to keep up narration, though!

The texts from which I usually ask my seven-year-old son for a narration:

The Story of the World (Ancient Times)  (after he listens to me read)

Independent reading books, like Frog and Toad All Year  and Sharks (after he reads aloud)

If you don’t know where to start, just remember that oral narration is usually NOT practiced before age six.  Written narration happens a lot later – at earliest, age nine.

“The Corner”, from Frog and Toad series. Narration by drawing.

Narration is NOT Memorizing

Rote memorization is not about building relationships with the subjects in a book.  Narration is about building relationships.  No matter how basic or flawed, a child’s oral narration can give him enormous benefits of synthesizing information.  He doesn’t extract rote sentences he has memorized from the story. He puts together the pieces of the story, recounting them, simultaneously making meaning. Children are given mental food, i.e., books.  It is their job to assimilate it for themselves.  Think of the books we give our children as a feast.  We do not give them just one kind of mental food during their feast.  Neither do we chew the food up for them and feed to them like they are baby birds (GROSS!).  Rather, we feed them the right quantity and variety, and they assimilate it into their being.  Giving a narration is like digesting the mental food.  Yum!  If narration were merely memorizing, it would be like looking at the mental food, knowing about the mental food, but never eating nor digesting the mental food.  Are you familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy?  It’s like a hierarchy of thinking skills.  It goes from most basic, knowledge, to-comprehension-analysis-synthesis-and finally, evaluation. The most basic tier of the thinking skills is knowledge.  Memorization is an exercise in acquiring knowledge, BUT it is the most basic of thinking skills.  Karen Glass reminds us in Know and Tell: The Art of Narration that “narration gives us an opportunity to reclaim those higher-thinking skills for the next generation and even to develop them for ourselves” (2018, p. 25).  Agree with this statement, and you probably realize that narration is different from memorizing.

Narration is NOT Only Oral

Narration can take the oral form as early as age six.  However, around age nine, when hand muscles and reading skills have developed, written narration can begin. I love how Glass puts it so frankly here, in Know and Tell : “Too often we attempt to address the symptom of poor writing rather than the disease of weak thinking” (2018, p. 25).  So, she seems to say that weak thinking causes poor writing.  Perhaps.  If we start narration in the written form and fail to give children the chance to narrate orally first, then we are not exercising the muscles of critical thinking.  We must start orally, get the feel for synthetic thinking, then allow that same thinking process to flow out as words on paper.  I have not started written narration with my own children, but hope to be able to in the future, as they approach the recommended age.

Narration is NOT Formal Rhetoric Instruction

This is interesting.  There are different camps regarding how people best develop written language.  One camp believes it is prudent to learn formal rhetoric (i.e., a modern-day grammar and composition program) to be able to write eloquently.  Another camp believes that good rhetorical practiced can be achieved more naturally, through narration of good, living books.  For example, Augustine wrote:

And, therefore, as infants cannot learn to speak except by learning words and phrases from those who do speak, why should not men become eloquent without being taught any art of speech, simply by reading and learning the speeches of eloquent men, and by imitating them as far as they can?  And what do we find from the examples themselves to be the case in this respect?  We know numbers who, without acquaintance with rhetorical rules, are more eloquent than many who have learnt these; but we know no one who is eloquent without having read and listened to the speeches and debates of eloquent men.

 (Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, Christian Classics Ethereal Library,

So the question still remains: are formal grammar programs and composition instruction necessary?  Well, I do not know.  I believe they still probably have their place in education, BUT I am also apt to believe the efficacy of narration goes far beyond just developing thinking skills.  Since thinking skills are required in order to write well, I am in agreement with Glass that, “narration becomes the key that builds our relationship with knowledge, develops our thinking skills, and gives us the power to collect our thoughts and relate them accurately and effectively, both in speech and in writing” (2018, p. 12).  Yes, my homeschool will be focusing more on narration in these younger elementary years than on formal grammar and composition. 

Narration is NOT Done In Isolation

If we fail to give some context for what we are reading, it may cause frustration when the child is trying to give a narration.  Giving the children a little context about “what we read about last time” before jumping into the “what happens next” of today’s reading is suggested.  A discussion after narration cannot hurt, either.  The narration itself is not a discussion.  It is the child’s hard work assimilating knowledge to be conveyed in his or her own way, perhaps even in the same style as the author’s. The teacher leaves the children to do the work.  The teacher is not to interrupt and ask, “What’s his name?” or anything like that.  Remember, it is the child’s knowledge to behold, and he is working on developing this muscle. 

Narration is NOT Done In Response to Empty Books

As always, narration is to be done in response to literary books that convey a variety of ideas.  In other words, the books we read together must be captivating – not entertaining – rather, wholesome, substantial, and well-written.  Living books are those written by an author who is passionate about the subject, are well-written, fire the imagination, and engage the emotions.  If these criteria are met, then chances are, the book will be captivating to children. 

Narration is NOT Original to Charlotte Mason

Narration has been around for centuries.  The early Greeks “formalized the study of rhetoric, and narration was one of the earliest exercises, appropriate for beginners” (Glass, 2018, p. 13).  In the Greco-Roman world, the simpler topics of rhetoric practiced by beginners was called the “progymnasmata”.  Narration was one of these topics, and it was meant to give practice in telling something that occurred.  The thinking skills a student would have to employ are varied: paying attention to matters of definition, classification, differentiation from similar forms, and etymology.  How interesting!  We know the Ancient Greeks were advanced for their time, so this idea of narration is one to which we can pay attention.  Charlotte Mason paid attention, too!  She recorded the narrations of many of her students, aged six to eighteen. 

Narration of “The Corner” from Frog and Toad series with modeling clay.

Narration is Relationship-Building, NOT Contrived

I love this Karen Glass quote from Know and Tell:  

Everything will be connected and presented in some way that has required the narrator to think: to order and classify, to structure and formulate, and finally to articulate her thoughts in adequate sentences and vocabulary.  In short, the deceptively simple act of narration incorporates all the powers of the mind and exercises them in a coordinated way, just as tossing a ball requires the coordinated efforts of the nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems, which are energized by the digestive and endocrine systems. (p. 19)

So, narration connects mental processes, for sure.  Does it connect anything else?  For me, anecdotally, narration has allowed us to continue the conversation beyond the reading time.  We discuss the ideas and events found in our history at the dinner table.  The kids recount a scene from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis in their imaginative play together. So many ideas are being tried on and masterfully woven together during a narration and afterwards.  For us, narration has been a way to step into another person’s world.  Instead of asking questions like, “how does this passage make you feel?”, the narrator is asking more about a time and place and character that is outside of himself.  I think that is a good thing.  While introspection is good and has its own place, narration is not that place.  Let’s be the outsiders looking into another person’s world.  Mirrors can be good, too, but windows are paramount in narration.  I think that mirrors will occur, no matter what.  Identifying oneself with another character is a natural process that takes place while reading. Yet, the narration exercise takes more looking outside than looking inside. 

Narration is NOT Self-Centered and Introspective

Narration is certainly not spouting off facts as if they are just there to be spouted off and that’s it.  No.  Narration is thoughtfully describing the experience of another, the series of processes happening in the natural world, etc.   And narration helps us see things in relation to each other as they all rest under the unity of knowledge that only our trinitarian God provides.  I once read in Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word, that one fallacy we tend to gravitate toward when reading the Bible is to look for OURSELVES in God’s word.  While we can certainly find out about ourselves by reading the Bible, our aim is better placed in finding out more about God Himself – His character, His relationship with us, His will.  The Bible is, after all, about Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus was even referred to as “the Word made flesh” in John 1:14.  Mirrors are important, but if they do not reveal a greater Purpose and Power, the mirrors are empty. Narration is like this.  Narration takes looking into another person’s window much more often than looking at one’s own reflection in a mirror.

Want to talk more narration?  Let’s chat!  Email me and the conversation can continue. In the meantime, check out these fun resources I developed:

Narration Matrix

The Big Maine Basket

Until later, friends!  Have fun reading (and narrating) with your children.

A Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations, YEAR 3 of Little Brick Schoolhouse

One obvious way we can cultivate a living education in our homeschool is by introducing our kids to living ideas found on the pages of living books…

Looking For a Booklist?

Disclaimer: If you are here to find a booklist that incorporates good, living books into a 24-week-long study of multiple content areas (aligned with Classical Conversations Foundations), you are in the right place! Scroll past the brief post, “Six Tools to Use in a Living Education”. If you are curious about Charlotte Mason methods, you might want to take about 5 minutes and read my post.

Six Tools to Use in a Living Education

  • read living books
  • observe
  • tell it back/narrate
  • record it
  • memorize (this comes AFTER guided discovery)
  • create something new from what you have learned

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about a living education. I have experienced bits and pieces of this, but I still strive to make it part of the basic fabric of our homeschool. More continuity, more of an atmosphere. Here I write briefly on each of these tools for a living education. My thanks goes out to Simply Charlotte Mason. The Charlotte Mason Together Retreat was unforgettable, unhurried, life-giving.

living books

One obvious way we can cultivate a living education in our homeschool is by introducing our kids to living ideas found on the pages of living books. If I had it my way, we would probably buy all of our books, but frugality matters, too. So, we use our local library. However, when a book cannot be found there (unfortunately, this is the case more often than I’d like to admit), we either borrow it from a friend or buy it. And once we have it added to our library here, we have even more opportunities to seek out the living ideas found within, spread out like a feast on the pages. Time and time again. What is a living book, you might ask? I have created a cheat sheet for you here.


Picture Study. Nature Study. Composer Study. The list goes on, and in a Charlotte Mason education, we take the time to form a living, personal acquaintance with what we observe. The mere question, “What do you see? …hear?” without any interjection by the teacher can ignite the spark that allows a child to possess what he or she is beholding. To truly tell about, to put it into words, what he or she is taking in allows that child to form that living, personal acquaintance with something created by God.

Narrate/Record it

Know. Tell.

It begins with building oral fluency. It culminates with the goal of learning formal writing. Narration lays the foundation for writing well. When narration is done well, one possesses what he is beholding. This is a form of knowing, truly knowing. Therefore, narration is also a training exercise in thinking well. It’s an art. It builds relationships. If you are interested in starting this journey of narration with me, look no further than right here. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, take a look at the narration resource I made for those who are wanting to “test drive” narration.


Charlotte Mason taught IDEAS first, memorizing facts later. A common thread found throughout a Charlotte Mason education is “taking something into the mind’s eye”.

You can find this thread woven into the “spelling” lessons. What we call “spelling” Charlotte incorporated into the larger skill of reading and using language. Charlotte didn’t formally teach spelling as one might encounter it today in an institutionalized setting, but exercised this habit of attention to eventually have students write down a passage that was dictated to them. They would have to possess the passage in their minds’ eye, before attempting to write the dictation. This comes from memorization of words, yes, but usually within the context of a larger passage, after the students have already encountered the rich ideas found in the passage. Dictation would not be expected until around 10 years of age. Before that age, students would be practicing copy work and memorizing short phrases, pieces of a large poem or proverb.

You find this thread woven into the picture study our family has come to love.

You find this thread woven into the composer study, the nature study, the foreign language study, the list goes on.

It has taken a shift in thinking for me, to put such emphasis on the habit of attention. I will have to get used to short lessons. Only saying the directions once. I do believe it will reap benefits, not just for my kids, but also for me.

create something new

I think this is self explanatory. How could you create something new from ideas? You have surely done this before. Inspiration arises while one is living life. It usually doesn’t arise from anxiety or pressure to meet a deadline.

Let’s use my own blogging as an example. Create something new. I am starting to learn what this might be for myself. Cultivating habits that foster creativity, I hope to take incremental steps and be faithful in my writing, for example. It does not take an hour a day. It might take just 5 minutes a day. Inspiration arises from living life. So, I live my life. For me, a reliable writing routine is more about the life I live as a person, as a person who writes. I am not just a writer. So, I look for good ideas, but I am not in a frenzied state of searching. I admit, my mind does get caught up in some kind of crazy rumination at times! Nonetheless, I remember to pause and write. I remember to do something with my hands. I remember to play with my kids. I remember to go for a walk.

A Charlotte Mason Approach to Classical Conversations Cycle 1

CYCLE 1, Quarter 1(Weeks 1-6)

Subsequent quarters to come!

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn commissions from qualifying purchases of these CC Cycle 1 books using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for your support!

Year-Round Resources


The Story Book of Science (Yesterday’s Classics) by Jean Henri Fabre
Pond and Stream by Arthur Ransome
Pond and Stream Companion by Karen Smith
R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Earth & Environment 1 by Blair Lee, M.S.
Backpack Explorer: On the Nature Trail: What Will You Find? by Editors of Storey Publishing
Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate
Science Encyclopedia Paperback Book w/Internet & QR Links
We are looking forward to using Pond and Stream as part of our Science study this upcoming 2021-2022 year.

Science Encyclopedia Paperback Book w/Internet & QR Links is also something we have on our shelves for quick reference or longer reading sessions.

Fine Arts:

Website: (Exploring Art Elements in Picture Books)
Art from Simple Shapes: Make Amazing Art from 8 Simple Geometric Shapes! Includes a Shape Stencil
An Introduction to Art History: A Classical Approach to Art Part II by Barry Stebbing (Ancient Art: Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome)
The Stuff They Left Behind from the Days of Ancient Egypt (Simply Charlotte Mason)
The Stuff They Left Behind from the Days of Ancient Greece (Simply Charlotte Mason)
The Stuff They Left Behind from the Days of Ancient Rome (Simply Charlotte Mason)
Picture Study Portfolios: Michelangelo (Simply Charlotte Mason)
The Arts: A Visual Encyclopedia
Music Study with the Masters (Simply Charlotte Mason) We will be studying Bach.
Singing the Great Hymns (Simply Charlotte Mason)
Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too by Mona Brookes
Foreground, Middle ground, Background (PERSPECTIVE) in CC Cycle 3


The Story of the World also has map work, narration, review questions, and coloring sheets in resources you would buy separately.
Other components of Story of the World

Classical Conversations has a Bookstore that would be helpful in finding comprehensive history resources. We are currently in the FOUNDATIONS Program. History cards, Trivium Table (for Cycle 1), Cycle 1 Audio CD for reciting memory work and timeline, History cards for Artists and Composers, and Ancient World Echoes are some examples of good resources we have used or are going to use in the future. If you are looking to save some money, look into joining Classical Conversations Connected. The Foundations Learning Center has a FILE SHARING feature that has helped me find resources like history sentence copy work, memory work flipbooks, and more.

Engaging overview of history, A Short History of the World
This book pulled me in, as I saw history through the eyes of children from around the world and from different times. It is so good. How Children Lived A First Book of History


My Pop-up World Atlas
Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason
A Child’s Geography: Explore the Holy Land Knowledge Quest
Eat Your Way Around the World by Jamie Aramini


Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians by Dale Seymour Publications
The Math Chef: Over 60 Math Activities and Recipes for Kids
Snowman – Cold = Puddle: Spring Equations by Laura Purdie Salas
Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late (Bedtime Math Series) by Laura Overdeck
The Lion’s Share by Matthew McElligott
The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins
The Greedy Triangle (Scholastic Bookshelf) by Marilyn Burns

Sites that promote mathematical thinking

Marcy Cook Math

Charlotte Mason Poetry (Math Resources)

Kate’s Homeschool Math Help

Free Number of the Day Worksheets

Lifestyle/Personal Development:

Embracing Screen-Free Life: When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan
The Bible is God’s Word

We have loved this Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, for as long as our kids have been here.
Sophie and Sam: When to Say “Yes” and When to Say “No”

Week 1

Science (Classification):

Karl, Get Out of the Garden!: Carolus Linnaeus and the Naming of Everything
Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner
Animalium: Welcome to the Museum
Botanicum: Welcome to the Museum
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon (Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12) is one of my personal favorites (Holly). The illustrations are fabulous.

Fine Arts (5 Elements of Shape):

When a Line Bends . . . A Shape Begins by Rhonda Gowler Green
The Greedy Triangle (Scholastic Bookshelf) by Marilyn Burns
If You Were a Polygon (Math Fun) by Marice Aboff & Sarah Dillard
My Heart Is Like a Zoo Board Book by Michael Hall

History (Commandments 1-5):

Exodus from Egypt (Bible Stories) by Mary Auld
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd Jones (10 Ways To Be Perfect chapter)
Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide (Hands-On History) by Nancy Sanders

Geography (Fertile Crescent):

One Small Blue Bead by Byrd Baylor
Chapter 1 Map, The Story of the World, Activity Book 1: Ancient Times – From the Earliest Nomad to the Last Roman Emperor
The Tigris and Euphrates: Rivers of the Fertile Crescent (Rivers Around the World (Paperback)) by Gary G. Miller
Ancient Agriculture: From Foraging to Farming (Ancient Technology) by Michael Woods

Math (1s and 2s):

Since I do not have any specific read aloud books for this topic of 1s and 2s, I think it might be a good idea to share how we will try to incorporate Math into our Morning Time this upcoming school year. I have a 7 and 4.5 -year-old who will be joining me, and our 2.5-year-old will be around.

introducing the math loop

Note: A loop schedule allows you to complete any activity on any particular day, just picking up where you left off the next day you get to the list. Once all the activities on the list have been “run through”, you repeat the loop from the top.

DayActivity (roughly 10 minutes)
1Counting exercise on the hundreds chart
2Number of the day from Kindergarten Mom (trace, count, frame, draw, tally, write)
3Word Problem from Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late (Bedtime Math Series)
4Practice telling time on analog clock like DHCHAPU Student Learning Clock Time Teacher Gear Clock 4 Inch 12/24 Hour
5Charlotte Mason Math Tables
6Marcy Cook Math Game – Turn Over Tiles to Find X or Bearly Balanced Tiles

week 2

Science (Kingdoms):

A Mammal is an Animal by Lizzie Rockwell
About Fish: A Guide for Children (About…, 6) by Cathryn Sill
About Amphibians: A Guide for Children (About…, 5) by Cathryn Sill
The Burgess Animal Book for Children (Dover Children’s Classics) by Thornton Burgess
The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess
NewPath Learning – 94-3502 The Six Kingdoms Bulletin Board Charts, Set of 5

Fine Arts (Mirror Images):

Mirror Play by Monte Shin

History (Commandments 6-10):

Exodus from Egypt (Bible Stories) by Mary Auld
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd Jones (10 Ways To Be Perfect chapter)
Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide (Hands-On History) by Nancy Sanders
These are the same suggestions from Week 1.

Geography (Assyrian Empire):

Map Trek The Complete Collection (I would only get Map Trek VI: Ancient World)
Gilgamesh the King (The Gilgamesh Trilogy) by Ludmila Zeman

Math (3s and 4s):

See the above Math Loop resources from Week 1 Math.

Week 3

Science (Animal Cell):

All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World by Lori Alexander
Cell Biology Diagram
Newton’s Workshop Bug Safari / Cell – A – Bration DVD by Moody Video (January 01,2010) (TRACK #6)
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling (one of our very favorites)

Fine Arts (Upside-Down):

Optical Illusions In Art: Or–Discover How Paintings Aren’t Always What They Seem to Be by Alexander Sturgis
Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson

History (Greek and Roman gods):

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
The Illustrated Book of Myths : Tales and Legends of the World by Neil Philip
Roman Myths by Geraldine McCaughrean
Classic Myths to Read Aloud: The Great Stories of Greek and Roman Mythology, Specially Arranged for Children Five and Up by an Educational Expert by William F. Russell

Geography (Hebrew Empire):

The Phoenicians: Mysterious Sea People (Ancient Civilizations) by Katherine E. Reece
Ten Best Jewish Children’s Stories by Daniel Sperber

Math (5s and 6s):

See the above Math Loop resources from Week 1 Math.

These place mats of the U.S.A. worked really well to reinforce CC Cycle 3 geography this past year.

week 4

Science (Plant Cell):

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring The Earth To Life by Molly Bang
Cell Biology Diagram
The World of Plants (God’s Design) by Debbie and Richard Lawrence
Newton’s Workshop Bug Safari / Cell – A – Bration DVD by Moody Video (January 01,2010) (Track #6)

Fine Arts (Abstract Art):

Touch the Art: Catch Picasso’s Rooster by Julie Appel
Touch the Art: Make Van Gogh’s Bed by Julie Appel
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock
Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky (KNOPF BOOKS FOR) by Barb Rosenstock

History (7 Wonders):

How the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World Were Built by Ludmila Henkova
The Seven Ancient Wonders of the World: A Pop-Up by Celia King

Geography (Hittite Empire):

The Archaeology Book (Wonders of Creation) by David Down
How Many Donkeys?: An Arabic Counting Tale by Margaret Read McDonald

Math (7s and 8s):

See the above Math Loop resources from Week 1 Math.

week 5

Science (Invertebrates):

The Bug Safari and The Cell-A-Bration DVD (Track #5: Entymology)
1001 Bugs To Spot (Usborne 1001 Things to Spot) by Emma Helbrough
Where Butterflies Grow (Picture Puffin Books) by Joanne Ryder
The Big Book of Bugs (The Big Book Series) by Yuval Zommer
Seashells: More Than a Home by Melissa Stewart

Fine Arts (Perspective):

How To Draw 1,2,3 Point Perspective: For Beginners | Perspective Drawing For Kids Made Easy by Square Root of Squid Publishing
Perspective Drawing for Kids: A Perspective Drawing Guide for Kids, Including Detailed Explanations and Step By Step Exercises by Liron Yanconsky

History (Romans):

City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction by David Macaulay
Rome Antics by David Macaulay
Galen and the Gateway to Medicine (Living History Library) by Jeanne Bendick
Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfield
Danger in Ancient Rome (Ranger in Time 2) (2) by Kate Messner
The Story of the Romans (Yesterday’s Classics) by H.A. Guerber
Animals in Rome: A Latin Vocabulary Coloring Book and Primer Titvs Classics

Geography (Egyptian Empire):

Mummies Made in Egypt (Reading Rainbow Books) by Aliki
Of Numbers and Stars by D. Anne Love
The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo
Tutankhamen’s Gift by Robert Sabuda

Math (9s and 10s):

See the above Math Loop resources from Week 1 Math.

Week 6

Science (Vertebrates):

The Snake Scientist (Scientists in the Field Series) by Sy Montgomery
Match a Track: Match 25 Animals to Their Paw Prints (Magma for Laurence King) GAME!
Every Autumn Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky
Box Turtle at Long Pond by William George
Bones: Skeletons and How They Work by Steve Jenkins
Bones, by Steve Jenkins

Fine Arts (Final Project):

Take a look at the Picture Study Portfolios from Simply Charlotte Mason. Choose one portfolio to focus on for the next term. Revisit the fine arts principles of shape, mirror images, upside-down, abstract art, and perspective as you study these full-color works (8.5″ x 11″ prints) by an original artist of your choice! Picture study is simple. Each portfolio includes a 5-step process to explain how picture study is conducted. Portfolios also include an artist biography, leading thoughts, Charlotte Mason inspiration regarding picture study, and specs on each masterpiece.

For first quarter, our homeschool will by doing its picture/history study on Ancient Egypt and for second quarter, Ancient Rome. Since these are not conventional artist picture studies, we will follow them with a true, artist picture study third quarter.

We will be doing our picture study in the third quarter on Michelangelo.

History (Ancient Greeks):

Geography (Ancient Greece):

Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago (Yesterday’s Classics) by Julia Darrow Cowles
Our Little Spartan Cousin of Long Ago (Yesterday’s Classics) by Julia Darrow Cowles
The Aesop for Children (classic fairy tales for children): illustrated with MP3 Downloads (Dover Read and Listen) by Milo Winter
Geography Matters in Ancient Greece (Geography Matters in Ancient Civilizations) by Melanie Waldron

Math (11s and 12s)

See the above Math Loop resources from Week 1 Math.

“Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”

Charlotte Mason

The Big Maine Basket and One Morning in Maine

I made something I think might bless you. The Big Maine Basket is a narration tool and booklist (with some extras included). If you are Charlotte Mason or classical homeschooling with narration, this is a great fit for you!

I Hope It Blesses You

Uses for this tool (THE BIG MAINE BASKET) I created:

-It allows readers to SYNTHESIZE what they are reading-It is a solid, consistent record-keeping tool for teachers

-It aligns with #charlottemason and #classicaleducation methods AND accounts for different learning modalities

-Its simplicity and predictability allow for short sessions (10 to 30 min. max), yet maximizes the time parents get with their children

-Being literature-based, it can be woven into any classical or Charlotte Mason curriculum, AND can cover multiple content areas (read alouds can cover so many different content areas)

-It can be easily incorporated into a morning time, with activities designed for different levels

So, for now, this kind of resource is completely FREE, until August 11, 2021!

Extra bonus: animals of Maine coloring pages (for littles) and an extension writing prompt and project (for the older kids)…didn’t I say it would be a great morning time element?

Your Morning Basket with Pam Barnhill

Find The BIG Maine Basket on:

Our Maine Visit

In the meantime, I thought it would be AMAZING to visit a setting of the book, One Morning in Maine, written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey. I am a big fan of his. It was amazing. It was a beautiful Maine morning, the morning of July 5th. My husband and I were celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary by visiting the Maine Coast. Think: Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Northeast Harbor, and some little, serene towns between there and Portland. We filmed a short tour of Buck’s Harbor (the setting of McCloskey’s book).

While shopping in Bar Harbor, I also snagged this TREASURE: Make Way for McCloskey: A Robert McCloskey Treasury.

All three of my kids love these stories! My husband remembers them fondly from childhood, as well.

Here is our YouTube tour of Buck’s Harbor:

Another great New England read
Buck’s Harbor

A HUGE Thank You

Thank you, readers. You know who you are. I know there must be some way to bless you, so I am going to keep offering my content.

I need your feedback, friends. If you like The Big Maine Basket, please drop a comment on this post. If you mention my content on Instagram or Facebook, that’s even better!

I do appreciate you all and want to see if the content I am working hard to make is making a difference.

My Little Brick Schoolhouse Giveaway

My Little Brick Schoolhouse INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY

If you like beautiful things, then go on over to my Instagram page

I am holding my first giveaway: LIKE and TAG a FRIEND in the COMMENTS below my post to enter to win this beauty, Miss Rumphius , story and pictures by Barbara Cooney.

I will announce the winner on WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16, 2021 at 5:00 pm EST on INSTAGRAM.

Make sure to share my post and put a #mylittlebrickschoolhouse on there. It would be so sweet.

Also, did you know I have a FREE DOWNLOAD for you on this site? YES!!! Go to the Booklists tab and scroll to the bottom. You’ll find it there. Have fun reading with your kids and doing the narrating exercises. So much fun.

I hope it serves you in some way.



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