Dear Homeschooling Parent,
Living Books Curriculum Grade Four continues the pattern of using living books and life experiences begun in the Foundation Year, Grades One, Two and Three. Grade Four will establish a pattern of learning for your child.
The earlier years taught habits of attentiveness, finishing work, and asking questions and gave a general understanding of the subject areas. Grade Four will involve more written work, independent reading, and somewhat longer periods of study—30 minutes instead of 20 minutes recommended in earlier grades.
The areas of study for Grade Four include Christian Faith Studies, an extensive language arts program, science, nature study, art, picture study, American history, world history, and music/ composer study. Grammar and regular copywork were introduced in Grades Two and Three.
Grade Four continues with a plan of weekly dictation and spelling. Because fluency in oral language is as important as fluency in written language; storytelling remains a key language experience in Living Books Curriculum. American History is the study of the Civil War and the period following, the Reconstruction. World History focuses on the Middle Ages. Science explores the rich subject of Astronomy.
Planning for Learning™
LBC uses a 36-week schedule divided into four terms. Each term is eight weeks, with the ninth as a “flex” week. The flex week permits the student to complete unfinished work, the teaching parent to assess learning through end-of-term narration questions, and also allows time for field trips. You can begin and end each term as best fits your schedule.
You may make copies of the Grade Four Planner included in Part 4–Grade Four Support Materials in this Guide, or there is a file for the planner on Grade Four Resource CD. Print it out and three-hole punch the pages for a notebook or have your local printer add a comb binder (usually at a very small cost).
On the planner you will see the Flex Week identified, as well as the Six Tools checklist: Narration, Literature, Storytelling, Nature Study, Short Lessons, and Local Resources. To have a better understanding of the Six Tools, read “A Living Books Education” on the Grade Four Resource CD.
To correlate studies means to bring one subject, such as history or science, into a complementary relationship with other subjects, such as art or nature study. Charlotte Mason taught that correlated studies enabled greater exploration of ideas but ought not to result in “busy work” (A Philosophy of Education, p. 114, ff).
In LBC’s curriculum, we have designed the major subject areas, i.e., the histories, sciences, language arts, to correlate with other areas, such as copywork, poetry, Christian faith studies, etc. Your child will greatly benefit by taking advantage of the integration of the lessons in this way.
In Grade Four, picture study, poetry, science, geography, storytelling, and Shakespeare are all correlated to studies in American and world history. So, for example, students learn about the civilizations of Greece and Rome in world history and simultaneously study Greek and Roman art, and Greek music.
In geography, students study the region and culture, as well as map the journeys of historical and literary figures. Storytelling includes stories from Greece, Rome or the book of Acts. Shakespeare includes a reading of the historical play Julius Caesar. As the year progresses, be aware of the interrelationship of one study to the next and discuss this with your child.
Journals vs. Notebooks
In Grade Four students utilize a journal and a notebook, as follows:
- Heroes of the Faith Literature
End-of-Term Narration Questions
Each term is an eight-week period with the ninth week as a flex week to complete any unfinished work and to assess your child’s learning with end-of-term narrations or in other manners. The questions provided are suggestions; you may want to formulate questions that more closely reflect the work your child has done during the past term.
We include end-of-term narration questions for two reasons. First, our research of Charlotte Mason’s syllabi for the Parents National Education Union, used for over eighty years, showed that each term ended with “narrations” as a means of assessing student progress. Second, teaching parents who are using Living Books Curriculum have asked for assessment tools for their own planning and to demonstrate learning where necessary to state and local school officials.
Heroes of the Faith Literature Journal
This journal is your child’s personal record of reflections, observations and reactions to the spiritual biographies that are part of history and science. It is kept on a regular basis, much as a diary. The literature journal is worth doing just for its own sake and it can also be used for review for end-of-term narrations or as a reference for written narrations, essays, and related writing activities.
Book of the Centuries
Charlotte Mason recommended using a Book of the Centuries throughout the elementary years. At Living Books Curriculum, we recommend starting this in Grade Three. At this age, children begin to have a sense for the flow of time and the importance of the historical events being studied.
Read “A Book of the Centuries in the Living Books Curriculum” found on Grade Four Resource CD. Plan a few minutes once a week for your child to work in his Book of the Centuries. Use this Book of the Centuries for History, Science, Music/Composer Study and any other subjects where it seems right to add information to the timeline. You can also purchase History Through the Ages, a prepared timeline.
The use of narration is one of the key aspects of Living Books Curriculum. It is the means by which students take up the ideas presented in living books and make them their own. A student of Charlotte Mason expressed it this way: “We read; we narrate; then we know.”
If your child is new to the use of narration, begin with very short narrations. The process of using narrations effectively is described in Telling Back: A Parent’s Guide to Narration found on the Grade Four Resource CD.
It will be up to you to decide how much narration your child can accomplish during the year. We encourage frequent and consistent narration. In science, the author of Exploring Creation with Astronomy suggests written or dictated narrations of each lesson (p. vii). We concur. So as not to weary the child with too much writing, have him dictate some narration while you do the writing. By dictation we mean that the child will say what he understands, and the parent will write it down.
Christian Faith Studies
This year your child will be reading through the New Testament books of Luke and Romans. In the Old Testament they will read from Joshua, Judges and I & II Samuel.
Heroes of the Faith
World History, Science, and American History have biographies of individuals who had a strong faith in the face of great obstacles and events. These individuals also changed the course of history. This year your child will begin keeping a Heroes of the Faith journal. (Note: See “Heroes of the Faith Literature Journal” above, and also read “Charlotte Mason on Bible Study” found on the Grade Four Resource CD.)
Grammar: Intermediate Language Lessons – Part 1
The Living Books Curriculum Grade Four language arts program is based on Intermediate Language Lessons—Part 1 by Emma Serl. The examples in Serl’s book are taken from classic literature, illustrations from nature, and descriptive pieces about people, places, and events. There are also Parts 2 and 3, which are used in Grades 5 and 6.
Some of these lessons are a review of material presented in LBC Grade Three Language Arts, but the same adage is true here as in third grade: the student is not to be expected to learn, and always apply, the rule after the first lesson.
For review, you may ask a question at the beginning of each lesson about one of the previous lessons. It is suggested that you observe your child’s writings and help him make corrections on topics that you have previously studied. Constant, consistent review is key to learning language constructions.
Your child will be using Italics: Beautiful handwriting for children for the year as a guide for instruction in penmanship. You must decide if your child is ready for cursive italic or needs further work on basic italic.
Plan 10 to 15 minutes a day for penmanship. Consistency and frequency, rather than length of session, is the key to your child’s success in handwriting. Also read the article “Suggestions for Better Penmanship,” found on the Grade Four Resource CD. This article includes specific teaching and activity suggestions for helping improve your child’s penmanship and addresses issues of posture and position of the pen.
Suggestions for reading poetry: Poetry for Grade Four is primarily Civil War Poetry: An anthology. Occasionally there will be other poems from Intermediate Language Lessons—Part 1. When reading a poem aloud, make your voice reflect the cadence and rhythm of the words. If your child is inattentive, do not correct him, but rather say, “We’ll put this away to enjoy another day.”
Doing this tells your child poetry is something special to be treasured. Occasionally ask your child to read some lines. There may be poems that your child would like to put in his copy book or in his nature journal, and then illustrate. Encourage this activity; you will find the results are very satisfying.
Charlotte Mason called recitation “the children’s art” and believed that all children, even a student whose parents have little background in literature, may be taught the fine art of beautiful and perfect speaking. Throughout the year your student will be asked to memorize certain pieces for recitation. If your student is new to memory work such as this, begin slowly. For more help, read the article “Charlotte Mason on Recitation” on Grade Four Resource CD.
The study of Shakespeare’s works began in Grade Three and continues through Grade Eight. Shakespeare is a master storyteller, and familiarity with his plays gives the student a rich experience in character study and in expressive language. After Holy Scripture, Shakespeare’s works are considered the greatest in the English language.
Homeschooling families sometimes wonder why it is important to study the works of this playwright…
Shakespeare presents us with the same dramatic tension we recognize in a study of Scripture: that of good vs. evil, the need for courage in the face of adversity, and the reality that God is moving in and behind the scenes of human action. Whatever the circumstances of his personal life, it is unquestionably true that Shakespeare wrote from a Christian worldview. His insights on human will, guilt, forgiveness, and the search for truth should be required reading for every believer. His grasp of the human condition is perhaps unmatched in literature.
—From Great Books of the Christian Tradition, Terry W. Glaspey
The next question is “Can elementary age children enjoy Shakespeare?”
The answer is a resounding “Yes!” Of course, the plays need to be presented in ways that are understandable. If you and your child have not yet read Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit, we highly recommend it.
The heart of Shakespeare’s plays is the story, and it is these that Nesbit tells so well. Once your child understands the action of the play and a little bit of how a play is put together, his (and your ) ability to understand Shakespearean English will improve quickly.
A story version of the play from Nesbit’s book, titled Nesbit: Midsummer Night’s Dream, can be found on Grade Four Resource CD.
Tips for reading Shakespeare:
- Read aloud with several voices (i.e., people), each person taking a part.
- Stop to explain the action, but don’t labor over it, just enough to make it clear.
- Take time to get to know the major characters, referring to the “Dramatis Personae” at the front of the play (i.e., the actors in a play, cast of characters) and in the book Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare.
- Stop reading if your child is inattentive and tell him, “We’ll save this for another day.”
- If you are new to Shakespeare, tell your child that you will be learning along with him. You do not need to be an expert in everything.
- Allow only 20 minutes per reading. Remember short lessons?
Spelling and Dictation
With Grade Four, a regular weekly dictation is added to your child’s school work. Dictation is the transcription by your child of a passage read aloud to him. It can be either studied or unstudied. A studied dictation is one in which the student is shown a paragraph or two selected from the assigned readings in science, either of the histories, or another subject. Ideally the selected passage is shown to the student early in the week.
He then has the week to learn the spelling of any unfamiliar words and to study the mechanics, punctuation, and capitalization. At week’s end, or whenever is best for your schedule, the teaching parent reads aloud the dictation and the child writes the passage in his best handwriting. Any errors are noted, and they become part of the following week’s work. The child does not redo the same passage but should be given another with similar grammatical and spelling challenges. (Note: read “The Royal Road to Spelling and Dictation” found on Grade Four Resource CD.)
An unstudied dictation is one in which the child has not seen the passage previous to the dictation. We recommend unstudied dictation as part of end-of-term assessment. The value of this approach is to assess learning in a specific area, not to “catch the child doing wrong.” If more work is needed, it will become apparent through the dictation. For more information about how to do a dictation and spelling lesson, see “Charlotte Mason on Spelling and Dictation” on Grade Four Resource CD.
Storytelling is one of the unique features of the Living Books Curriculum. It is included because fluency in storytelling directly relates to a child’s ability to excel in reading, writing, comprehension, narration, and creativity. Be sure to read the essays “Storytelling: the Invisible Gift” and “Teaching with Stories” found on Grade Four Resource CD.
Grade Two students learned folktales with a simple plot and some Bible stories for narration. In Grade Three, stories with a problem-solving component were included. Most of these stories have been easy to learn and appealed to each age group.
In Grade Four your child will be reading more problem-solving stories, plus stories about Robin Hood, and Uncle Remus. Here are some tips for helping your child gain confidence in telling stories for Grade Four:
- Create a sense of anticipation by having a special place or time when your child will read or hear the story, and then begin to learn it.
- Read the story with a lively tone. Then ask your child to tell you back the story in his own words.
- If there are significant omissions, act out the story together as a form of narration. Keeping a playful attitude will free up your child’s creative spirit.
- Continue until your child can narrate back the story with ease. Doing this each week for 20 or 30 minutes is enough to build storytelling skills. Sometimes it may seem easier to get a book and read it aloud rather than take the time to teach a story. But, if you will be faithful in this weekly activity, you will see results that far outweigh the time and effort.
Living Books Curriculum does not provide a math program. We investigated several math programs and found a few we liked. However, after interviewing many parents, we found that each had their own preference for a program. When appropriate in other areas of study we included a math-related activity. We also have provided a space at the end of each week in Part 3–Week-by-Week Teaching Guide for the parent to document any work done in that subject.
We offer two suggestions for a math program that we feel are consistent with the Living Books Curriculum, though there are many other fine programs. They are:
Science – Astronomy
General notes on science
The Living Books elementary science curriculum is a structured adventure into basic science concepts using living books. The core text for the study of Astronomy is Exploring Creation with Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright, from Apologia Educational Ministries. In addition, the following titles are biographies of well-known astronomers, as well as one first-rate science-fiction fantasy.
- Nicolaus Copernicus: The earth is a planet, Dennis Brindell Fradin (biography)
- Along Came Galileo, Jeanne Bendick (biography)
- Johannes Kepler: Giant of faith and science, John Hudson Tiner (biography)
- A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle (science fantasy)
Additional readings may be selected from the booklist provided in Enrichment Reading List for Grade Four (Part 4), under Science.
About Exploring Creation with Astronomy
This excellent book is an engaging and thorough study of astronomy for the elementary years. The text recommends narration in each lesson. It also uses notebooking to challenge the student to use the material in a creative and personal way.
Each lesson has an explanatory narrative, notebook work, an activity, and a project. The parent can read the text to elementary students of various grade levels. However, it is possible for students with a fourth-grade reading level to read this book on their own. Your child will complete a lesson every two weeks, in addition to reading the excellent literature listed above.
Your child will need:
- A notebook (three-ring binder type)
- Blank paper for drawing
- Lined paper
- Pencils (black and colored)
- Project supplies (see list in the front of the text)
Each lesson has projects and activities to accomplish. The items listed on p. ix of the Apologia text are readily available. However, if you wish to save time, you can purchase these supplies as a kit from Creation Sensation (501-776-3147; www.creationsensation.com) for about $50.
Recall questions vs. narration questions
Exploring Creation with Astronomy has a section in each chapter titled, “What do you remember?” This is a blend of narration questions and memory prompts. The memory prompts are recall questions with one-word or short-phrase answers.
Why literature in a study of science?
Charlotte Mason wrote of the fatal and unnecessary divorce of the sciences and the humanities: “It is through great literature that one gets at great thoughts, not through dry, ‘dumbed down’ textbooks” (A Philosophy of Education, p. 223). Ms. Mason was not opposed to textbooks, only to their exclusive use with fact-laden pages and uninteresting presentation.
Grade Four includes lessons in writing in the specific area of science. Science writing distinguishes itself from writing in general by the integration of activities that develop questioning, curiosity, and the formulation of testable hypotheses.
Several of the science writing activities are adapted from Science and Writing Connections by Robin Lee Harris Freedman (Dale Seymour Publications, 1999). Wherever we have used these activities, we note it with the author’s last name and a page reference.
Why poetry in a study of science?
Encouraging and refining the ability to imagine is one of the highest order tasks of an educator. The most direct way to accomplish this is through story, song, and poetry.
Maria Mitchell, an astronomer and the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, said:
“We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry. To wonder at creation and to guess its origins are innate powers. Without them, there would be no ground for scientific inquiry.”
Nature Study is one of the keys to a Living Books education because it develops keen powers of observation. The goal of nature study is careful looking. Albert Einstein said, “All great science begins with a close observation of nature.” Charlotte Mason taught that time spent in the outdoors is a “balm and a blessing” for children, not only when they are young but also when grown and they must deal with the stresses and strains of adult life.
The choice of study is drawn from Handbook of Nature Study, which is used from kindergarten to eighth grade. The first 23 pages of the Handbook outline the author’s philosophy of nature study. The author, Anna Comstock, originally published parts of this book as leaflets in the Home Nature Study Course at Cornell; she was writing to a home-schooling parent. The leaflets were written a century ago; therefore, some of what she presents in her book might not be applicable to you and your home school.
Read over the introductory pages to orient yourself to her philosophy; then spend some time with the section “How to Use This Book” on pages 23 and 24. The goal of each week’s activities is to help your child with his or her powers of observation, and to some extent to get them thinking about the natural world around them. To accomplish this goal, each week’s lesson is structured to get your pupil outside on a nature walk, to have him record observations in a notebook or journal, and to consider at least some of the questions raised by Miss Comstock.
If the weekly lessons seem too long, focus on one or two questions that interest you and your child. Remember that the purpose of the Handbook is to interest your child in the natural world. The key word here is “interesting.”
Here is what Miss Comstock has said on the subject, from page 23: “The suggestions for observations have been given in the form of questions, merely for the sake of saving space. The direct questioning method, if not used with discretion, becomes tiresome to both pupil and teacher. If the questions do not inspire the child to investigate, they are useless. To grind out answers to questions about any natural object is not nature-study, it is simply ‘grind.’”
Each year, LBC assigns portions of Handbook of Nature Study covering the entire text by eighth grade. Each term a topic for study is given and pages assigned.
Grade Four Nature Study Topics:
- Term One: Soil
- Term Two: Trees I
- Term Three: Trees II
- Term Four: Wildflowers
Term Four, for example, focuses on wildflowers. This section in the Handbook is about 60 pages long and looks at 18 wildflowers. The wildflowers bloom at different times of the year and may not be available near your home when it comes time to study them. Often the lessons suggest that the student observe the organism (whether it is a flower, bug or large mammal, like a horse).
As this might not always be possible to do in person, there are Internet sites that could be used. A check of Wikipedia will reveal much relevant information. Or, you could go to a garage sale and get an old encyclopedia set that would serve the same purpose as the online source.
Note that there are multiple lessons in many weeks. As already mentioned, do not try to cover every question in the book. Have your student take a few minutes each day to learn a little bit about our natural world. This should be an engaging area of study; your role as the teacher will be to keep it from becoming an overbearing workload that “has to be done.” Remember, most children today do not know much about the natural world. It is not up to you to fill that void completely. Treat Nature Study as both a “head” (knowledge) and “heart” (appreciation) subject and it will be a joy to both you and your child.
During the school year your child will keep a Nature Journal. ”Tips for Better Nature Journaling” can be found on Grade Four Resource CD as well as a complimentary Nature Journal template for each week of the learning year. You can print out a journal. Alternatively, you can order an excellent spiral bound book from Dick Blick Art Supplies (www.dickblick.com). If you choose to use the template and print your own, use heavy-weight paper that will not become soggy with water. The entries should be done with what is called the “dry brush technique” advocated by Charlotte Mason. It is a simple method of damping off the paint-wet brush before using it. To learn more and see examples, read the article “Dry Brush Technique for Nature Study” under Helpful Articles on Grade Four Resource CD.
American History: Civil War and Reconstruction
This was the largest and deadliest conflict ever fought on American soil. Over 620,000 souls lost their lives. The effect was greatest on the South. It took the Confederate states a full hundred years to recover. The Civil War changed our nation in two major ways:
- The strength of both the union of states and the governmental system established by the founders of our nation was tested. The fact that these held despite a terrible cost testifies to the words of the Pledge of Allegiance, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
- The Civil War brought “liberty and justice for all.” It abolished slavery and paved the way for the work of Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement one hundred years later.
Suggestions for teaching the Civil War:
- Use narration regularly, both written and spoken.
- See the year’s study as an integrated whole, with stories, poetry, and art correlated to history.
- Use the Enrichment Reading List for Grade Four (Part 4) to add related literature in areas of interest for your child.
Civil War Photography
The Library of Congress established the American Memory Archive to preserve and make available online over seven million documents, images, audio, and video recordings. The Library of Congress has also provided excellent teaching materials and lessons plans. For the Civil War there are two especially useful lessons that we recommend you add to your teaching:
Mathew Brady Bunch Lesson Plan
The Civil War was the first American war thoroughly caught on film. Mathew Brady and his band of photographers captured many images of this divisive war, ranging from portraits to battle scenes. By viewing and analyzing these photographs, students can gain an understanding of the events of the Civil War and how photographers and journalists are able to shape the public’s attitude regarding certain events.
The Civil War through a Child’s Eye
“The Civil War through a Child’s Eye” lesson focuses on the use of historical fiction and primary sources to expand students’ perceptions of the Civil War era. Literature and photographic images reflect, communicate, and influence human perspectives of historical events. Specifically, the unit helps students view the Civil War era through a child’s eye, rather than from an adult perspective.
Following an introduction to the Civil War using photographic, daguerreotype, and nonfiction sources, students read Paul Fleischman’s Bull Run in Readers Theater format. Next, students examine and interpret primary source images of Civil War-era children. Then, students reveal their understanding of a child’s perspective in a literary portrait. In sum, this lesson integrates reading, writing, and U.S. history standards.
World History: Middle Ages
Grade Four students will enjoy a study of the Middle Ages. This period of history is rich, complex, full of adventure and high drama. During an approximate thousand-year period, the western world transitioned from the monarchs of antiquity whose rule was total to the rise of nation states and the early signs of self-government.
This study, as with all other LBC history studies, uses living books rather than textbooks to introduce the concept, person, or event. We recommend three kinds of literature: biographies, nonfiction, and historical fiction. We include all three in order to keep interest high and history accurate.
As in previous years, LBC uses a “spine book” or overview text to accompany the literature. An overview text provides the framework for understanding the events described in each book. For the Middle Ages, we are using Volume 2, The Discovery of New Worlds, which takes the study of Western Civilization from the fall of the Roman Empire (497 AD) to the beginning of the Age of Discovery (c. 1550). Each of the living books chosen to accompany the readings in The Discovery of New Worlds illustrates and brings to life the events and people described in that historical period.
Literature for study
There are 16 lessons for the study of the Middle Ages, one lesson for every two weeks. Along with The Discovery of New Worlds, each lesson recommends works of literature for study and focuses on a topic or aspect of Medieval life. Most of the literature for study is at the upper elementary reading level. In addition there is a four-part essay on Grade Four Resource CD which describes the four eras of the Middle Ages. Essential reading for you as the teacher!
Enrichment Reading List
The “Enrichment Reading List” provided in Part 4–Grade Four Support Materials provides the teaching parent with titles of other books that would enrich the study of the lesson topic. All of these can be borrowed from your local library, through inter-library loan, or purchased directly from book distributors. For more suggestions of titles by historical period and reading level, we highly recommend All Through the Ages: History through literature guide by Christine Miller.
This year your child will have an opportunity to explore maps of Europe and of the United States as they relate to the Civil War. Plan to make copies of the maps provided in Grade Four Resource CD. Have available colorful markers, stickers, and other creative materials. Use protective plastic sheets for the maps once they are completed and have your child include them in his notebook.
How to listen to music: Each term will have a focus for music correlated with the study of either American or World History. Plan one or more 20-minute listening periods per week during which your child’s concentration is on listening to the music. You may also organize some listening time around a quiet activity like drawing or coloring. Additionally, any selection of classical music can be played in the background for some kinds of work.
Living Books Curriculum has identified music of the period that is available on YouTube, and has included the title. All you have to do is go to the website and type in the words that are highlighted in bold in the text. Several options may come up on your screen, but you should be able to locate the indicated one fairly easily on your screen.
Note: Please do not let your children use YouTube without your direct supervision. There is occasionally content not appropriate for children. By following these guidelines you should have no difficulty with the content on this site.
Music of the Civil War Period
- Types of Music: Battle songs, Hymns, Marching tunes, Negro spirituals
- Composers/Lyricists: Stephen Foster, Fanny Crosby, Anonymous
- Civil War Classics, Jay Ungar & Molly Mason
- The Civil War—Traditional American Songs and Instrumental Music Featured in the Film by Ken Burns, Original Soundtrack Recording, various artists
- Folk Songs of the Civil War, Reno & Smiley
- Songs of the Civil War, Alan Baker, et al.
- Songs of the Civil War, The Cumberland Three
- Southern Soldier, 2nd South Carolina String Band
- Swanee: The music of Stephen Foster, Joe Weed and friends
- The Valley of Silence: Fanny Crosby favourites, George Hamilton IV
- Music of the Middle Ages
- Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)
- Moniot d’Arras (1213-1239)
- Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300-1377) Anonymous
Types of Music
Gregorian chants or plainsong, e.g., “Salve Regina” by Benedictine monks Hymns, e.g., “A Feather on the Breath of God” by Hildegard of Bingen Folk songs.
Instrumental music – CDs
- A Feather on the Breath of God: Hildegard of Bingen, performed by Emily van Evera, et al.
- Medieval Dance Music, The Dufay Collective
- Miri It Is, The Dufay Collective
- Music of the Crusades, Geoffrey Shaw, Charles Brett, et al.
- Sinners & Saints: The Ultimate Medieval and Renaissance Music Collection, Philip Pickett and the New London Consort
A regular facet of a Charlotte Mason education is the study of great works of art. In Grade Four we have correlated Civil War-era art and art from the Middle Ages. For directions on doing picture study, see “Teaching Children to Love Great Art” on Grade Four Resource CD. Each week leave the picture to be studied in a location where your child can see it frequently. If possible, purchase an inexpensive picture easel on which to display the book or picture. The pictures for study are provided on Grade Four Resource CD. Some of the pictures for study come from the books provided for history. The pictures to be studied are:
- Blacksmith (Landseer )
- Book of Hours page (Limbourg)
- Conversion of St. Paul (Giotto)
- The Gleaners (Millet)
- The Lady of Shalott (Waterhouse)
- Lamentation (Giotto)
- Madonna and Child Enthroned With Eight Angels and Four Prophets (Cimabue)
- The Money Changer and His Wife (Matsys)
- Old Man with a Young Boy (Ghirlandaio)
- A Ride for Liberty (Johnson)
- Roman de la Rose selection
- St. Francis and the Birds (Giotto)
- St. Francis Kneeling (Zurbaran)
- St. George and the Dragon (Raphael)
- The Unicorn Tapestries
Formal art activities are not included every week, as in earlier grades, but when they are, a short description is given. Picture Study is included weekly and teaches an appreciation and understanding of great art. In addition, Nature Study includes drawing or “dry brush” painting in the Nature Journal each week. See the article “Dry Brush Technique” on Grade Four Resource CD for instruction on how to guide your child in this activity.
Since the afternoons should be mostly free of academic studies, this is the time to teach your child handicrafts. Which handicrafts you choose depends on your child’s interests, your interests, and your budget. Most boys and girls enjoy such activities as sewing, woodworking, gardening, and cooking. Learning to sew on a button and mend a torn hem are life skills every child should know.
You may have a skill or craft you want to teach your child. Or you may want to invite someone to teach a skill to your child. It is important your child finish what he started. Acquiring the habit of finishing projects is a desirable trait. Unfortunately, crafts have a way of being left half finished. Choose only one activity on which to concentrate each term and oversee your child’s work to the finish. Also, be sure that your child is developmentally ready for the skill being applied. You want to stretch him, but not frustrate him.
In a Living Books Curriculum day, the morning is devoted to academics, but the afternoon should revolve around outdoor play and handicrafts. The key is to allow children some unstructured time. You will often be tempted to stay indoors after lunch to finish work. Keep such times to a minimum, allowing your child free play outdoors.
Physical education is a crucial part of a child’s optimal growth. Plan regular times outdoors where your child can run, jump, tumble, climb, and swing. Play high activity games such as tag or badminton. Play inventive games in which your child can let his or her imagination create the setting and the action. Keep the games as noncompetitive as possible, so that everyone has the pleasure of play. Team sports, and specialized instruction such as gymnastics, martial arts, or swimming can be part of a child’s experience, but they should not take the place of free play.
Charlotte Mason recommended that each day have lessons in a foreign language; her teachers taught both German and French. We recommend including at least one language in your homeschool. Choose a language that is appropriate for your family and of interest to your child. Spanish is useful in every area of the United States. Plan to continue the same language over a period of years to make it most beneficial for your child.
Latin is technically not a foreign language but rather a root language, the knowledge of which improves a student’s abilities at every level—reading with greater understanding, clearer thinking, facility in learning a foreign language, and recall of information. There are several fine Latin curricula available; one we recommend is Latina Christiana.
Help and Questions
If you have questions or need assistance with any part of this curriculum guide, we would be happy to help. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org , join our Facebook Community, or write to:
Living Books Curriculum
5497 South Gilmore Road
Mount Pleasant, Michigan 48858