The New Charlotte Mason e-Magazine

Timeless Ideas for a Twaddle-Free Education™

watercolour-pencils-nature-studies-02I recently began publishing a weekly online magazine, The Charlotte Mason e-Magazine, which will feature a collection of carefully selected content and articles from around the internet from a variety of respected Charlotte Mason and other educational resources.

You can view the current issue and sign up for email reminders so you don’t miss any future issues by going to:

The Charlotte Mason e-Magazine

The mission of the Charlotte Mason e-Magazine is to bring Charlotte Mason’s ideals and methods to modern families and provide access to the wealth of online information available for today’s home educator.

This more-or-less weekly e-magazine will include articles, tips, ideas, and recommended resources for home educators who are inspired by Charlotte Mason’s philosophies and methods.

The Charlotte Mason e-Magazine is published and edited by me, Debi Taylor-Hough, a long-time homeschooling mom, currently a full-time graduate student, and author of several popular books including the bestselling Frozen Assets cookbook series and Frugal Living for Dummies®.

Feel free to share this new resource about Charlotte Mason’s philosophies and methods with local support groups, online discussion groups, and other homeschooling friends.

Happy homeschooling to you and yours!


Twaddle-Free Holiday Suggestions

518dsz23psl__sl500_aa240_At the latest Western Washington Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers meeting, we discussed ideas for celebrating twaddle-free holidays. We began by defining twaddle as dumbed down literature or “child-friendly” activities with little depth or substance.

We also discussed how sometimes twaddle is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s twaddle might be someone else’s idea of light-hearted fun.  We used the animated  Charlie Brown Christmas special and various Dr. Seuss books as examples of what some people might consider twaddle, but others may find thoroughly enjoyable. Personally, I love Charlie Brown and I feel Dr. Seuss books are wonderful to use as early readers and much higher in their literary value than other more subdued and sober early readers that are available.

It’s actually quite simple to tie-in twaddle-free holidays with Charlotte Mason home education. The following are some easy ideas:

516najd8btl__sl500_aa240_1Art Appreciation


  • Go caroling
  • Attend a Nutcracker ballet production (live or video)
  • Attend a sing-a-long Handel’s Messiah at a local church
  • Play classical music as background throughout the day (The Nutcracker and The Messiah are good choices)

Nature Study


  • Holiday-themed handicrafts
  • Create ornaments
  • Do puzzles of fine art
  • Old-fashioned holiday games (Charades, spoons, etc.)



  • Advent celebrations / Biblical history
  • Study the origins of family holiday traditions


  • Start an Advent Book Box (a box or basket full of special holiday books that only come out during the Advent season)
  • Read Dickens’ Christmas stories aloud as a family
  • Create gift lists for your children with twaddle-free books, games, and other educational supplies you’d like to receive from relatives
  • Attend a live performance of Peter Pan or A Christmas Carol (both are commonly held during December)

I’d like to encourage you to share your own ideas for twaddle-free holiday activities in the comment section.  I’m looking forward to hearing more ideas!


This Week on Facebook – December 5th, 2014

In case you missed any postings, here are some of the past week’s highlights from the Charlotte Mason Home Education Facebook page:

Attention Western Washington CM Homeschoolers
Our next official meeting is this Saturday afternoon! (Dec 6th)

We’ll be chatting about Twaddle-Free Holiday ideas. Should be a fun discussion. Hope you can make it!

Date: Saturday, December 6th
Time: 1:30pm – 3:00pm
Where: Bellevue Library, Meeting Room 6 (upstairs)

“Are You Homeschooling or Car-Schooling?”

Who says homeschoolers aren’t socialized? Sometimes I felt I needed to guard against too much socializing!

“Educational Gift Ideas:  Science & Nature Study”

The grandparents always loved to buy educational toys, games, and supplies for my kiddos. I think it made the grandparents feel like they were helping to participate in homeschooling the grandkids by giving them educational gifts. If you have relatives who needs some gift giving ideas, send them here. These are the science-related items I would’ve added to my kiddos’ Christmas Lists this year if they were still homeschooling. Hard to believe they’re all grown now. Time really does fly.

I stumbled upon this article just now while looking for something else.

“Introducing Charlotte Mason’s Use of Narration”
J. Carroll Smith, Associate Professor of Education, Gardner-Webb University

ABSTRACT: This article makes the claim that as public policy is made about very young children particularly in an educational setting, oracy needs to be strongly considered because of the implications it has on future reading development. The author reviews some of the research literature on oral language development and its impact on reading in school. Following this review and after making a connection among intellect, language and environment the British educationalist Charlotte Mason is introduced. Reviewing narration as an instructional strategy, the author explores the usefulness of narration and its effects on learning. Brown and Cambourne claim that narrating has many advantages for the learner. After discussing these advantages the author suggest ways to disseminate knowledge of the research on oral language and narration to those who work with our very young children.

A Simple Christmas Online Workshop – Day One

Inductive Advent Bible Study

Book of the Centuries

Nature Study is needed!

Advent Bible Study Guide

I think I’ve shared this in years past with a variety of people online, but I don’t think I’ve shared it here on this blog before.

It’s an inductive Advent Bible study guide written by my former Precept Bible Study leader when I lived in Olympia, WA several years ago.  She wrote it to use with her grandkids, and now shares an updated version of it each year for free online.  Eleanor’s the best.  :-)

You can find the complete downloadable and printable study here:

Inductive Bible Study – Advent Guide

Speaking of Advent, one Sunday we visited a local church several years ago that we didn’t usually attend.  It was Youth Sunday and my kiddos had several friends/acquaintances who were involved with the program.  The Youth Group there had raised money throughout the year to purchase Advent Wreaths — complete with greenery, candles, and a daily devotional calendar — for the entire congregation (including visitors … so we came home with one too!).  :-)

I felt it was such a thoughtful thing for the kids to do, and it provided a fun and meaningful holiday activity that their entire congregation could participate in together throughout the month of December.


Guest Article: Nature Gifts and Holiday Ideas

by Toni Albert
Guest Contributor

For me, the holiday season begins with a long, leisurely walk. Leisurely but not inattentive. I am paying close attention to anything that catches my eye (or nose) because of its shape, color, texture, fragrance, or interest. It’s a gathering expedition.

I return with sprigs of hemlock and tiny pine cones, long needles of white pine and short needles of douglas fir, yellow and orange bittersweet berries, blue-black privet berries, red berries from the burning bush, rose hips, wild grape tendrils, acorns, hickory nut and walnut halves, shelf mushrooms, large pine cones, and dried grasses, seedpods, and flowers. Then I lay them out on a large table.

One year, I left my treasures laid out on a table in the basement while we went away for a Thanksgiving vacation. When we returned, all of the things I’d gathered were gone! It was baffling until we found several beautiful mouse nests made of dried grasses and pine needles and filled with berry snacks and nuts. It was my unintentional gift to the mice that live with us. (To be fair to my husband and our cat, the mice are not invited to live with us.)

Gathering nature treasures

Children love the gathering process and they’re very good at spotting interesting nature treasures. It’s against the law to collect anything from state parks or national parks, but there are many places, including your own backyard or school yard, where kids can explore and collect – collect with respect.

Once they have their materials laid out, they’re ready to make any number of nature gifts and holiday decorations. I have some ideas to share, but they’ll come up with their own, too.

Nature gifts that kids can make

Bath teas – Fill paper tea filters (little semi-transparent paper bags for filtering tea) with pine needles, bittersweet berries, or anything you gathered that has fragrance. Tie the filters at the tops with twine, leaving a loop, so that the bag can be hung from the faucet while filling the bathtub.

Decorative potpourri – Fill a glass jar or other container with a mixture of pine sprigs, winter berries, small seedpods, and dried flowers. Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, or dried orange peel for fragrance, or add a few drops of scented oil – orange, cinnamon, or pine – which can be bought at a craft store. Cover the jar with a circle of bright-colored fabric. Then tie a narrow ribbon around the rim to secure the fabric covering.

Simmering potpourri – The potpourri above can also be simmered in water to disperse the fragrance. Children can include directions for using the potpourri if you want them to practice writing directions. (A very good writing exercise, believe me. I’m doing it now.)

Nature scarves – I once paid three times what I usually spend on a scarf, because it had little twigs tied into it. I love it! Choose a long narrow scarf, silky or woolen, it doesn’t matter. Bundle lengths of an interesting yarn (multi-colored, metallic, fuzzy, or textured), a narrow matching ribbon or cord, and any other matching trims together. Then tie them around the scarf in several places, as if you’re cinching a waist and then another and another. Then tuck and tie a twig or artificial berries behind each length of yarn.

Nature gift wrap

Dried flowers and leaves – Add dried flowers and leaves inside a gift box to enhance the gift. This is especially pretty on top of tissue paper. (For example, a sweater might be wrapped in tissue before being placed in a gift box.) To dry fresh flowers takes about two weeks, but at this time of year, some dried flowers can still be found outside on their stalks.

Natural additions – Tuck sprigs of holly, mistletoe, grape tendrils, or winter berries under the bow that you use on a bag or box.

Print your own paper – This is a creative project for children, which almost always produces more colorful, exciting wrapping paper than you could buy. Have kids use natural objects such as pine cones, twigs, nut halves, even pine sprigs – almost anything will work – to print sheets of colored tissue paper. They simply press the objects into a styrofoam meat tray that contains a shallow layer of tempura paint. Then they can press the paint-drenched object onto the tissue paper to create a design. When the paint dries, the paper is ready to use for wrapping.

Nature decorations

Nature napkins – Tuck something interesting from nature – gum balls on their stems from a gum tree or sycamore balls or seedpods, etc. – into a napkin ring that is holding a napkin. Or wrap silverware in a napkin, secure it with a pretty cord, and tuck something natural behind the cord.

Decorate a small tree – Let children decorate a small Christmas tree or a bare dogwood branch (ideal because it has an intricate branching and tiny buds already set at the branch ends) with the treasures they collected outside. They can tie, balance, or glue the decorations on the tree.

Nature ornaments – Some treasures can be placed inside an empty clear plastic ornament. These couldn’t be easier and they’re very pretty.

Acorn ornaments – Remove the cap from an acorn. Then glue a round wooden bead to the acorn to form a head (the acorn is the body). Paint a face on the bead-head. Glue the acorn cap to the bead to give the acorn figure a hat. These acorn people can be used as tree ornaments with a length of thread or colored cord for hangers or they can be added to any holiday decoration or centerpiece. Acorn families (using different sizes of acorns for adults and children) are especially cute. You could make an acorn family to give as a gift to a favorite family of relatives or friends with acorns painted to represent each family member.

An enhanced wreath – Buy a plain wreath of fresh greens. Then decorate it with the nature materials you gathered. The easiest way to attach them is with a hot glue gun (children need careful supervision), but white glue or florist wire will work too. First attach the larger things, such as pine cones, shelf mushrooms, and nuts. Then add bright clusters of berries. Finally fill empty spaces with dry weeds and flowers. Keep working until the wreath is filled with interesting and beautiful details. Add a big bow. If you hang the wreath outside in the cold, it should last through February.

Reprinted with permission from Toni Albert’s Splash!, a short note with nature news, a nature activity for kids, or a moment of inspiration. Subscribe at Trickle Creek Books, which is committed to “teaching kids to care for the Earth.”

Educational Gift Ideas: Science & Nature Study

The grandparents always loved to buy educational toys, games, and supplies for my kiddos.  I think it made the grandparents feel like they were helping to participate in homeschooling the grandkids by giving them educational gifts.  If you have relatives who needs some gift giving ideas, send them here.

These are the science-related items I would’ve added to my kiddos’ Christmas Lists this year if they were still homeschooling.  Hard to believe they’re all grown now.  Time really does fly.


Science and Nature Study – Gift Suggestions

Break Your Own Geodes Kit

“What’s a geode? It’s a geological rock formation that contains a cavity lined with crystals. The most common “find” inside a geode is clear quartz crystals, but some have colored crystals. There’s no way to tell what’s inside a geode until you break it apart-but that’s the most exciting part! Kit includes 10 geodes in assorted sizes, instructions for safely breaking the geodes, and educational information. A great party activity for ages 8 and up. Size: approx. 1″-2″. WARNING CHOKING HAZARD. Not for under 3 yrs.”

Mineral Science Kit

“Children will learn to look for luster, (the way a mineral reflects light), hardness (measured on the Mohs scale), and color (with a streak test). Affordable, with just enough variety to whet the young geologist’s appetite and an excellent guide to identification activities, including the vocabulary of testing. This starter kit includes 15 numbered specimens that represent the full range of types of minerals, a small magnifier, a nail and tile for testing, and activity guide offering more test ideas for further study, all neatly packed in a sturdy box. Ages 5 and up.”

Flower Press

Product Features
  • Introduces children to the historic art of flower pressing
  • Make handmade cards, bookmarks, gift tags, and more
  • Award-winning kit great for one child or small groups
  • Includes everything you need to make a variety of projects involving pressed flowers
  • Recommended for children 5-years of age and up

Nature Kaleidoscope Kit

“Go Green! You can make your own scope over and over again with this kit using elements from nature. The kit includes: parts for an 8 1/2 inch scope two nature drawings to color for the wrap colored pencils dried flowers polished gemstones glass marbles minerals. Ages 7+”

Nature Bingo Board Game

“Lucy Hammett Games’ Nature Bingo features life in the world around us. An educational & fun twist to Bingo. Each game contains 6 unique Picture Boards, 42 Informative Cards and Bingo chips. Made in the USA.”  Recommended Age:  3+ years

Brain Box: Nature

  • Turn the timer over, study the card and try to memorize as many details as you can
  • Players then roll the die to determine which question will be asked and quiz each other on what they remember
  • Includes 55 cards, sand timer and a die
  • Ages 4 and up

Magnifying Glass and Tweezers

“Encourage young scientists to take their investigations further with these perfectly sized tools. Magnifier features built-in stand for hands-free observation, clear 4.5x magnification, and 4 1/2″ diameter viewing area. Exercise fine motor skills with 6″ tweezers featuring easy-grip depressions for proper pincer positioning. Washable plastic. Colors may vary. Grades PreK+”


“Grades K – 3. Take a close look at bugs, rocks, minerals, flowers, leaves, seeds, shells, and much more with this collect and view nature set. Collecting jars have built in magnifier to see the specimen up close and the double viewer allows students to see the top and the bottom of each specimen. Kit includes 2 tweezers, 3 graduated size collection jars, double viewer scope, and double viewer cone.”

Adventure Pack

“Everything you need for great adventures. Perfect for backpacking, biking, camping, and all forms of exploration. Includes a compact 5x30mm Binocular, Flashlight, Lensatic Compass with true hand-bearing triangulation capabilities, and a combination signal whistle/thermometer. The perfect gift for the outdoor youngster or scout.”

This Week on Facebook – November 21st 2014

facebookDue to Facebook’s tendency to filter posts from appearing, I’ve begun posting weekly updates of highlights from my week’s Facebook posts so you can see what you may have missed from the Charlotte Mason & Home Education Facebook page.


This Week on Facebook:

When our kiddos were young, every Thanksgiving they would each memorize a poem and then recite it at the Thanksgiving table between dinner and dessert. Great way to impress the Grandmas.

The Advent Book Box – I compiled this list of Favorite Christmas Books following a discussion with a group of Charlotte Mason homeschooling moms who were looking for “twaddle-free” holiday reading for their families.

My daughter’s cat, Amy, making a bed of the Advent wreath.

Here it is again …. Advent Season!!

The traditional Advent calendar starts on November 30 this year. A number of years ago, my friend Eleanor put together an inductive-style family Bible study of Advent to use with her grandkids. And every year she publishes a current version online.

Please feel free to share this web site with home schoolers, friends, neighbors, relatives, etc.

My kiddos would’ve loved playing with this set of magnets.  Great Christmas gift idea (and educational to boot!).

Learning Resources Super Magnet Lab

This Week on Facebook – November 15th 2014

facebookDue to Facebook’s continuing tendency to filter posts from Pages out of appearing in folks’ news feeds, I thought I’d start posting a weekly update here of highlights from my week’s Facebook posts so you can see what you may have missed from the Charlotte Mason & Home Education Facebook page.


This Week on Facebook:

The November issue of Kids Garden News just came out. I love this resource from the National Gardening Association.

The latest edition of the Charlotte Mason eMagazine is out!

Articles include: Preschool guide, fall seed walk, interviews with homeschool graduates, meant to be naturalists … and lots more!

Charlotte Mason portrait“Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life…We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests…Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking–the strain would be too great–but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest” – Charlotte Mason

I’d forgotten all about this card game until I stumbled upon it again this week.

We used to play Rummy Roots quite often as a family and it really helped my three children with their vocabulary development by learning Greek and Latin roots for English words. It’s fun, too.

FREE Kindle reading app for your computer! I love this and personally use it all the time. I’m always surprised how often I hear from people who don’t realize you can download a free Kindle app for your computer which allows even non-Kindle owners to be able to read all the free Kindle books that are regularly offered.  If you want to download it, here’s the link:

The Museum Syndicate website has a jigsaw puzzle game that goes with each work of art. Could be a fun way to add a little extra activity into Art Appreciation.

I think I may go do a puzzle of Monet water lilies.

Candace says: “I need help with making a multiplication table… don’t know why I am having such trouble with it….”

Were you looking for something like this?

Geography begins with maps …

“The child who gets no ideas from considering the map, say of Italy or of Russia, has no knowledge of geography, however many facts about places he may be able to produce. Therefore he should begin this study by learning the meaning of a map and how to use it. He must learn to draw a plan of his schoolroom, etc., according to scale, go on to the plan of a field, consider how to make the plan of his town, and be carried gradually from the idea of a plan to that of a map; always beginning with the notion of an explorer who finds the land and measures it, and by means of sun and stars, is able to record just where it is on the earth’s surface, east or west, north or south.” – Charlotte Mason

If you haven’t “Liked” Charlotte Mason & Home Education on Facebook yet, what are you waiting for?  I promise we’re a friendly bunch and won’t bite.  :)

FREE Kindle App for Computers

Did you know there’s a free Kindle reading app for your computer?!  I love this and personally use it all the time.

I’m always surprised how often I hear from people who don’t realize you can download a free Kindle app for your computer which allows even non-Kindle owners to be able to read all the free Kindle books that are regularly offered on Amazon.

If you need to download it, here’s the link to the download on Amazon:

Free Kindle Reading App

New! The Charlotte Mason e-Magazine

mammoth095I just started another Charlotte Mason online resource:  A brand new weekly online magazine.  The Charlotte Mason e-Magazine will feature a collection of carefully selected content and articles from around the internet from a variety of respected Charlotte Mason resources.

You can view the first issue and sign up for email reminders so you don’t miss any future issues by going to:

Charlotte Mason e-Magazine

As our home schooling years wound down, I found myself renewed and reinvigorated with a fresh vision for the benefits of home education and specifically Charlotte Mason’s ideas. I realized, too, that there’s a fresh generation of home schooling parents just coming into this new adventure and looking for support and advice.

I also recently started a regional Charlotte Mason support group in the Seattle/Tacoma area, and have also begun doing Twaddle-Free Education™ workshops and personal consultations.

Happy homeschooling to you and yours!