Advice - Grade Six

Dear Homeschooling Parent,

By now in Grade Six your child is an independent learner who narrates orally well and manages written narrations with some help. She is able to work independently for many subjects and listens to books read aloud because she chooses rather than is required to.

If you are new to LBC and wonder if you can begin at this point, the answer is YES! However, you must begin narration from the start and treat it as its own subject so that you can bring your child up to the level of comprehension of Grade Six. Read how to do this in “Telling Back: The art of narration.”

Grade Six is a rich, multifaceted year for your child focusing on the 20th century in both American and World History, art, music, and poetry. The broad range of books paint a full picture of the tumultuous events, beginning with World War 1, the Great Depression, and World War II in both world and American events , right into the 1960s.

Grade Six culminates the history sequence begun in Grade One. World History began with creation and American with exploration and discovery of the Americas. A six-year span of living books the reveal the “great pageant of history” as Charlotte Mason called it. Please note that no other curriculum offers six years of American History and World History. Each of the histories is correlated across the curriculum with other subjects.

Correlated Studies

Charlotte Mason taught that correlated studies enable greater exploration of ideas but ought not to result in “busy work” (A Philosophy of Education, p. 114, ff).

To correlate means to bring one thing into a complementary relation with another. 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. In the LBC curriculum, the major subject areas, i.e., the histories, sciences, language arts, correlate with work in other areas, such as copy work, poetry, Bible study. The integration of lessons in this manner means that, while there are a number of “subjects”, the amount of work is very manageable and enables a homeschooling family to spend the afternoons outdoors.

The areas of study for Grade Six include studies in the Christian Faith, an extensive language arts program, science, nature study, picture study, American history, world history, and composer study. Because fluency in oral language is as important as fluency in written language, storytelling remains a key language experience in the Living Books Curriculum. Science explores the four major strands of life science, earth science, physical science, and health science.

To understand how we follow Miss Mason recommendations for a full learning experience and how it is possible for children to relish learning for its own sake, read “Six Tools of Learning” and “Seven Keys of Learning” .

Planning for Learning™

LBC uses a 36-week schedule divided into four terms. Each term is eight weeks of instruction 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. Every guide comes with a complete planner.

Journals and Notebooks

The Grade Six student utilizes several notebooks and journals. Your student has the option of incorporating all of them in one large three-ring binder with subject-divider tabs or using individual notebooks: Heroes of the Faith Literature Journal (see Heroes of the Faith below); Science Notebook; American History: The Two World Wars Notebook World History: Enlightenment to the Modern Age

End-of-term Narration Questions

Each term in the LBC curriculum is an eight-week period with the ninth week as a flex week. The flex week is included 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 meant to be suggestive; you may want to formulate questions that more closely reflect the work your child h as done during the past term.

We include end-of-term narration questions for two reasons. First, our research of Charlotte Mason’s syllabus for the Parents National Education Union (PNEU), 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 to state and local school officials where necessary.

LBC Book of the Centuries

Charlotte Mason recommended using a “Book of the Centuries” throughout the elementary years. Read “A Book of the Centuries in the Living Books Curriculum”

Enrichment Reading List

Enrichment Reading List for Grade Six included provides titles of other books that would enrich the study of our subjects. All of the books listed can be borrowed from your local library, through interlibrary loan, or purchased directly from book distributors.

Christian Faith Studies

Charlotte Mason called this part of your child’s study “Religious Knowledge”, but such a term today is not specific enough, since one could ask, “Which religion?” In her time it was a foregone conclusion that such a term referred to the Christian faith.

Scripture Reading

This year your child will read Genesis, parts of Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and Luke in the New Testament. The rotation of readings comes from the PNEU syllabus of Charlotte Mason.

We strongly suggest the teaching parent read Charlotte Mason’s writing on the reading of Scripture. We entitled it “Charlotte Mason on Bible Study” Here is an excerpt:

Children between the ages of six and nine should get a considerable knowledge of the Bible text. By nine they should have read the simple (and suitable) narrative portions of the Old Testament, and, say, two of the gospels. The Old Testament should, for various reasons, be read to the children. The gospel stories might be read for themselves as soon as they can read them beautifully. It is a mistake to use paraphrases of the text; the fine roll of Bible English appeals to children with a compelling music, and they will probably retain through life their first conception of the Bible scenes, and, also, the very words in which these scenes are portrayed. This is a great possession. –  Home Education, p. 248

Heroes of the Faith

World History, Science, and American History have biographies of individuals who had a strong Christian witness in the face of great obstacles. These individuals also changed the course of history. This year your child will begin (or continue) keeping a Heroes of the Faith Literature Journal.

The book for the year is Our Island Saints. We chose this book because British history figures so largely in Grade Six World History and Geography studies. The book can be easily read in a few weeks, but instead, we are asking you and your child to move slowly through each saintly life, narrating as you go. As a footnote, the use of the term “St.” by the author does not indicate a Roman Catholic point of view but rather is from the perspective of the Anglican, Church of England, one in which all “heroes of the faith’ are called saints.

Practical Work

When the Carroll’s visited Ambleside, England, to study the works of Charlotte Mason, we discovered that “practical work” in Bible Study was required of a student in the PNEU curriculum. Practical work meant putting one’s faith to work in practical ways, such as visits to a shut-in or writing letters to a missionary. We suggest you brainstorm with your child about opportunities for service open to him or her.

Language Arts


The grammar book used in Grade Six is Intermediate Language Lessons-Part 3. This consumable text is the third in a series of three. Living Books Curriculum used the text from the book by the same name and added space to write in the assignments, improved on the guidelines with directional logos and updated were necessary. Part 1 was used in Grade 4 and Part 2 in Grade 5.


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. Each term your child will have a storytelling opportunity assigned that will build confidence in public speaking, enhance expressive language, and improve writing (yes, writing!).

Copy work

In Grades One through Four, LBC students used Italics: Beautiful handwriting for children as a guide for instruction in penmanship. By Grade Six most children are fluent in cursive italic. If your student needs further work, we recommend purchasing Italics: Beautiful handwriting for children from our website.

Copywork is the transcription of a favorite passage by the student into a book reserved for this alone. The copybook can be a spiral notebook or lined pages put into a three-ring binder. The passage should be from high-quality literature so that your student is always learning from examples of good writing. Your child will be directed to choose the passage he prefers in the week-by-week directions.

Charlotte Mason wrote of copywork (which she called transcription):

Children should transcribe favorite passages. —A certain sense of possession and delight may be added to this exercise if children are allowed to choose for transcription their favorite verse in one poem and another. This is better than to write a favorite poem, an exercise, which stales on the little people before it is finished. But a book of their own, made up of their own chosen verses, should give them pleasure. (Home Education, p. 238)


Beginning in Grade Four, regular weekly dictation was added to student work. This work continues in Grades Five and Six. 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 paragraph(s) is shown to the student early in the week. The student is then asked to “study” the material in preparation for a dictation by the teaching parent later in the week.

An unstudied dictation is one in which the child has not seen the passage previous to the dictation. LBC recommends 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 be apparent through the dictation.


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 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. Terry Glaspey’s addresses this issue in Great Books of the Christian Tradition:

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.

Can elementary aged 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.

The Merchant of Venice

The play for this year is The Merchant of Venice. Following is a brief summary of the plot and some helpful insights into the play’s important themes:

Written sometime between 1596 and 1598, The Merchant of Venice is classified as both an early Shakespearean comedy (more specifically, as a “Christian comedy”) and as one of the Bard’s problem plays; it is a work in which good triumphs over evil, but serious themes are examined and some issues remain unresolved.

In Merchant, Shakespeare wove together two ancient folk tales, one involving a vengeful, greedy creditor trying to exact a pound of flesh, the other involving a marriage suitor’s choice among three chests and thereby winning his (or her) mate. Shakespeare’s treatment of the first standard plot scheme centers around the villain of Merchant, the Jewish moneylender Shylock, who seeks a literal pound of flesh from his Christian opposite, the generous, faithful Antonio. Shakespeare’s version of the chest-choosing device revolves around the play’s Christian heroine Portia, who steers her lover Bassanio toward the correct humble casket and then successfully defends his bosom friend Antonio from Shylock’s horrid legal suit.

In the modern, post-Holocaust readings of Merchant, the problem of anti-Semitism in the play has loomed large. A close reading of the text must acknowledge that Shylock is a stereotypical caricature of a cruel, money-obsessed medieval Jew, but it also suggests that Shakespeare’s intentions in Merchant were not primarily anti-Semitic. Indeed, the dominant thematic complex in The Merchant of Venice is much more universal than specific religious or racial hatred; it spins around the polarity between the surface attractiveness of gold and the Christian qualities of mercy and compassion that lie beneath the flesh.


Each year Living Books Curriculum includes at least one book of poetry. Learning to enjoy and to understand poetry engages the heart and the mind. Best of all, it teaches us to hear the music of language. This year’s book of poetry is Best Remembered Poems. The poems your child will study are primarily from the 18th, 19th and 20th century.


Charlotte Mason felt that children learned to spell well by reading quality literature. Those words which are misspelled, in a written narration for example, become part of the following week’s spelling list. For an explanation and instructions on doing spelling with a child, read “The Royal Road to Spelling.”


Charlotte Mason called recitation “the children’s art” and that all children, even a child whose parents have little background in literature, may be taught the fine art of beautiful and perfect speaking. Throughout the year your child will be asked to memorize certain pieces for recitation. If your child is new to memory work such as this, begin slowly.

Written Narration

Charlotte Mason did not recommend a program of writing instruction (she called it composition) until the student was in his early teens. This was to allow the child to learn by imitation of great writing. It is a truly amazing process to watch as your child writes well and with a truer sense of meaning by using this method.

Written narrations provide ample exercise in writing. Miss Mason’s warning against “writing programs” did not mean that a student should not learn the standard forms of grammar usage. She meant that a “program” produces a stilted form of writing; whereas imitating great works produces high-quality writing.


The Living Books elementary science curriculum is a structured adventure into basic science concepts using living books and is designed to prepare your child for high school level work and beyond. As with all of our other subjects in this curriculum, there are many living books used which put abstract concepts into a proper time and place.

Throughout the year your child will be conducting science experiments and observations. Keeping a science notebook or journal (which could include written notes, drawings, pictures clipped from magazines, the child’s illustrations or results from experiments) will add to your child’s sense of accomplishment and learning. Additional readings may be selected from the book list provided in the Grade Six Enrichment Reading List.

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 presentations.

Nature Study

The goal of nature study is careful looking. Albert Einstein said, “All great science begins with a close observation of nature”. Nature Study is one of the keys to a Living Books education because it develops keen powers of observation. 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 must deal with the stresses and strains of adult life.

Each term has a focus for study. The choice of study is drawn from The Handbook of Nature Study, which is used from kindergarten to Eighth Grade. The topics are only meant as a guide. Focus for each term of Grade Six:

  • Term 1: Ants, wasps, bees
  • Term 2: Mammals II—wild mammals, such as raccoon and opossum
  • Term 3: Indoor Plants
  • Term 4: Reptiles such as snakes and lizards

About learning history in the Living Books Curriculum

LBC history studies use living books rather than textbooks to introduce historical concepts, persons, and events. We recommend three kinds of literature: biographies, non-fiction (histories), and historical fiction. All three are included 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. In World History it is Book IV and V in the Story of the World Series by V.M. Synge. American History focuses on the 20th century from World War I through the 1960s. World History focuses on the 17th to the 20th centuries. Your student will learn in World and American History that events converge in the 20th century: two world wars, a global depression and “cold war.”


This year your student will be reading LBC’s exclusive edition of Around the World in Eighty Days. We chose this book for its global view of geography and because it is a classic of 19th century.

Picture Study

A regular and important aspect of a living books education, as recommended by Charlotte Mason, is the study of great works of art. In Grade Six your child will study the works of the following artists:

  • Term 1: Rembrandt (1606-1669)
  • Term 2: William Turner (1775-1851)
  • Term 3: Mary Cassatt (1844-1926)
  • Term 4: Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

For directions on doing picture study with your child, see “Teaching Children to Love Great Art.”

Composer Study

Living Books Curriculum has a study of the works of one or more composers per term. This year includes:

  • Term 1: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
  • Term 2: Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
  • Term 3: Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
  • Term 4: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)


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 activities such as sewing, woodworking, gardening, and cooking. These are 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 your child a skill. Read more about Handicrafts in a CM education.

Physical Education

In a Living Books Curriculum day, the morning is devoted to academics, and the afternoon revolves around outdoor play and handicrafts. Allow children unstructured time. You will often be tempted to stay indoors after lunch to finish work. Keep such times to a minimum, allowing your child to play outdoors.

Foreign Languages, Latin, and Music Lessons

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 U.S.

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 many fine programs available; one we like is Latina Christiana.

Is it too late to start a Charlotte Mason education?

Mothers ask me that from time to time. They see the value of a living books education and want if for their child. It is never too late to begin! Children are wonderfully resilient and they know the genuine article (living books) when it is given them. To give you and idea of what a day looks like, have a look at my article on “Planning a CM Day.”


What if I want to teach multiple children with this teaching guide?

What are the books and subjects covered in Grade Six?

Why do you use storytelling in your curriculum?

When should I begin narration?

What is a living book?

“…We owe it to every child to put him (or her) in communication with great minds that he may get at great thoughts…and the only vital method of education appears to be that children should read worthy books, many worthy books.” A Philosophy of Education, p. 12.

Living Books Curriculum uses books considered “living” according to Charlotte Mason’s guidelines because they “warm the imagination, nurture thinking, and communicate knowledge mind-to-mind”. Children require books that are living in order to develop mind and hearts to fullest capacity. The high quality of thought expressed in great literature creates like thought in the child. When the books are many, varied, and living, the child is able to adopt the ideas just as a plant takes nutrients from the soil.

Here to help

We’re here to help. Living Books Curriculum fully supports our curriculum though an online community forum. We invite you to join the growing community of parents using this wonderful way to home educate. Questions? Email me at

All the best,

P.S. The proceeds of your purchase help us help children in Africa receive a living education. Jim and Sheila Carroll’s non-profit, Worldwide Educational Resources, has seven schools at this time, educating nearly 750 students. The Carroll’s non-profit was founded in 2000. Learn more.