Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 5th Grade :)

Beautiful Fairytales

The Value of Imaginative Literature in Character Education

I love that homeschool affords our children constant opportunity to learn how to discern between good and evil, right and wrong. Character education involves moving children deeply with sympathy for the good and repugnance for the evil, and inspiring them to act in accordance with these perceptions. This is rarely accomplished by preaching at children or moralizing to them. Although I am sure we feel that we make some really good points in our mommy “sermons” :), our children can instead be most inspired to be good by seeing goodness lived out in their parents, and also by reading and “living out” the ideas present in great stories depicting moral character. Reading biographies of historical heroes is one effective way to approach character education, and since I have previously discussed the value of historical heroes on my blog, today we will look into the value of imaginative literature such as fairy stories and folk tales.

Olive Beaupre, editor of My Book House, explains how the story of Cinderella, for example, evokes children to hate evil and side with good:

It has been said that fairy tales give many children their first clear perception of the distinction between right and wrong, good and evil, and at their best this is certainly true. No child can sympathize deeply with the patience and gentleness and sweetness of Cinderella and hate the selfishness and vanity of the stepsisters, without all unconsciously registering a definite and lasting impression which forms a permanent part of his ideals.

Properly selected imaginative tales with good morals intertwined feed our children’s moral imaginations with portrayals of courage and faith, strength and perseverance, honesty and loyalty, which is motivation for character growth. According to Olive Beaupre:

Beginning with his earliest fairy tales, the child commences to see in his stories, quite without any drawing of morals or particular direction of his attention to the fact, what qualities are splendid and noble, what qualities are base and ignoble, and for the very reason that the tale does entertain him, does interest him so intensely and move him to the very depths of his being, the impression left by the story is far more lasting and permanent than any sermon that could be preached on the subject, and constitutes itself an influence upon him greater than any other one thing which comes into his life, except the ideas and ideals that surround him in his own home, which, it must never be forgotten, leave the most telling marks upon his character.

Character education done through the programs run at our local schools, such as Character Counts!, has little effect on moral imagination (sometimes neither does the character education component that comes out of a boxed homeschool curriculum for that matter). Regrettably, simplistic little morality tales seem to be preferred by school educators over rich, complex literature. School Character Education Programs also favor practical and realistic stories that have a distilled moral message containing plainly stated values and principles. Character training is a dose of spoon fed medicine. The stories have no beauty or imaginative quality to draw readers in, or draw them back to revisit and contemplate ideas further, and so the stories are disposable……and that is exactly how the children’s conscience handles them. Even when character education curricula include impressive pieces of writing, the works tend to be used for the purpose of drumming in simple lessons. School character education methods often don’t engage students in critical thinking discussions either. For sake of time, or lack of faith in the children’s powers of mind, a teacher might state plainly, “This man is a hero; do what he did,” for example, rather than involving the students in deciding who (if anyone) is heroic in a given story, and why. At school or at home, character education is sorely deficient if we don’t use proper literature or allow  ideas to germinate within a child’s soul.

I am glad that homeschool can be so different. Heart to heart discussions surrounding rich literature selections, occurring under the guidance of the all knowing Holy Spirit, can actually be the norm. A life hewn out of such experiences at home will be magnificently distinctive.

Character, the real object of all reading……let there be beauty, sweetness, and light

Rather than teach ethics from literature that reads somewhat like a “how to” manual, there is a better way. But what stories will we choose to stimulate and sharpen a child’s moral imagination? Many parents today don’t read original fairy tales to their children because they are simply too harsh, violent, scary, or downright evil. And as cute as they may appear, Disney’s versions are actually too full of bad values. Modern fairy tales, while they may lack some of the more objectionable features of the old stories, are sentimental and wishywashy, and lack also all the splendid and convincing sincerity, vitality and strength of the folk tales. The old folk and fairy tales, properly weeded, still remain the real solid foundation for a child’s reading. However, children’s stories must be carefully selected. Too many stories have competing messages in them and Olive Beaupre feels that this essentially contributes to marred character development:

……smug self-satisfaction, their mental and spiritual laziness, to express in their various relationships and lines of activity, all the subtle dishonesty, selfishness, littleness, bigotry, superstition, conventionality, narrowness, envy, hatred and greed of a flourishing and unchallenged but well veiled and covered evil, that all too frequently wears the cloak of righteousness and respectability.

As my faith in the value of great imaginative literature has grown, naturally I have increasingly sought out good fairy tales, but it has proven to be a difficult process of elimination! Its been hard to sort through books of fairy tales to try to find ones that would not just be safe to read, but also provide a feast of sweet and noble ideas for my impressionable little ones. I want so much to feed the imaginations of the little people in this house with beautiful tales that I know must exist somewhere!!

Well, finally I found a true gem…… My Book House. Olive Beaupre and her compilation of literature in My Book House has recently graced my life, and is now helping to fill that growing desire for literature that awakens moral imagination. My Book House is a 6 volume, age leveled, anthology of children’s stories, compiled in the 1920s by Olive Beaupre who carefully selected stories for their literary quality and good morals. There are indeed great selections. Now, let me mention, I still pre-screen unfamiliar selections, because Olive and I don’t see eye to eye on everything of course, but, at least I won’t be throwingout 80% of what I am finding, like my pre-screening of other fairy tale compilations from the library.

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Here is a little more about My Book House in the words of the author, Olive Beaupre:

In My BOOK HOUSE, I have tried to give children the best in literature, gathered from the greatest authors of the past and present, and from our rich heritage of old folk tales, told from generation to generation in every country in the world. But I have selected those stories with care. Avoiding those tales where evil traits of character, such as lying and cheating to gain one’s ends, have been made to appear good, I have chosen only those where truly desirable qualities invite the child’s admiration. I have tried also to grade all this material as wisely as possible, that the child might have the right story at the right age, and to put it forth so beautifully illustrated that it would be irresistable to him. Here, in these twelve volumes, adult and child can enter, hand-in-hand, a wonderful realm of imagination and beauty, portrayed in the best literary forms of verse and prose….

The permanent value of My BOOK HOUSE arises from the fact that at the time of its inception, I had no pet theory of education to advance…. I was in search of fundamentals, simple fundamentals, which must remain eternally true. Chaos then existed and is, unfortunately, still permitted to exist, in the realm of reading for children. They were being given stories, ethically sound, all jumbled up with those where the ethical slant was bad, and stories for the older children were being read to the child when he was too young, overwhelming him with fright and confusion by presenting to him characters and situations far beyond his understanding at the moment. Out of this chaos I was trying to bring order, an order that could never be disturbed. So let me review a few basic principles, with which I emerged from my search and on which I built My BOOK HOUSE.

First,–To be well equipped for life, to have ideas and the ability to express them, the child needs a broad background of familiarity with the best in literature.

Second,–His stories and rhymes must be selected with care that he may absorb no distorted view of life and its actual values, but may grow up to be mentally clear about values and emotionally impelled to seek what is truly desirable and worthwhile in human living.

Third,–The stories and rhymes selected must be graded to the child’s understanding at different periods of his growth, graded as to vocabulary, as to subject matter and as to complexity of structure and plot.

Good news! Great Classic Literature Can Be Found Free Online

The rich literature that I have spoken of in this post are, not surprisingly, primarily older works, which happens to be advantageous to homeschoolers trying to operate on a budget. My Book House, for example, being an older book, is in the public domain and can be read as an e-text for free at Google Books. Volume 1 is for the youngest children, starting out with poetry for baby, and gradually moving into longer pieces for small children. Its the perfect volume for my 3 year old. My 5 year old I think could happily stew in volumes 1, 2 and 3 right now at his age and ability. By the way, if you decide to look into My Book House, The Twin Lambs in Volume 1 (page 255), is a thought provoking story about selfishness, and one of my favorites so far.

Volume 1: In the Nursery of My Book House

Volume 2: Up One Pair of Stairs in My Book House

Volume 3: Through The Fairy Halls of My Book House

Volume 4: The Treasure Chest of My Book House

Volume 5: From the Tower Window of My Book House

Volume 6: The Latch Key of My Book House (a volume mostly for parents and teachers)


ALSO volumes 1-4 can be listened to at, a site with free audio books! Since discovering this great resource, audio books have quickly become a part of our family life as they increase my kids exposure to literature, and are so helpful for homeschooling (mommy can only read so much in a day!), at no extra cost to us! Beware that not all volunteers on Librivox are excellent readers, and some can greatly detract from the story, so be choosy and preview first.

Other Character Education Resources:

The Book of Virtues

Also check out The Book of Virtues out from your library for help selecting literature that addresses specific areas of character. Helpful for planning out character training (ie habit training) for homeschool next year since the book is organized by character trait:

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“Responsibility. Courage. Compassion. Honesty. Friendship. Persistence. Faith. Everyone recognizes these traits as essentials of good character. In order for our children to develop such traits, we have to offer them examples of good and bad, right and wrong. And the best places to find them are in great works of literature and exemplary stories from history.William J. Bennett has collected hundreds of stories in The Book of Virtues, an instructive and inspiring anthology that will help children understand and develop character — and help adults teach them. From the Bible to American history, from Greek mythology to English poetry, from fairy tales to modern fiction, these stories are a rich mine of moral literacy, a reliable moral reference point that will help anchor our children and ourselves in our culture, our history, and our traditions — the sources of the ideals by which we wish to live our lives. Complete with instructive introductions and notes, The Book of Virtues is a book the whole family can read and enjoy — and learn from — together.”

Laying Down the Rails and Laying Down the Rails Companion Books

If you have money to splurge, don’t forget about these great Simply Charlotte Mason resources, also organized by character trait/habit:

Laying Down the Rails: “Our bestselling book on habit training! Here, compiled into one volume, are all the habits Charlotte mentioned in her writings with her thoughts and suggestions for cultivating each one. This work also includes Charlotte’s help for breaking bad habits, hundreds of inspiring quotes, and lots of practical tips.”

Companion Books: “A habit-training companion for the whole family filled with more than 400 pages of stories, Bible passages, poems, activities, quotations—living ideas that will nestle into your children’s minds and motivate them toward the habits of good character. Corresponds to the award-winning book, Laying Down the Rails.

The Millers Series

I keep hearing great things about The Millers books. “Storytime” is the most simply written, perfect for using first with young children. All the books seem awesome, but “Wisdom” and “Missionary Stories” are especially popular with homeschool families.

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Storytime with the Millers: “Amos and his brothers learn a valuable lesson about returning good for evil in the story “The Indians and the Cookies.” Paul, a 3-year-old farm boy, nearly loses his life through disobedience. Betty learns the hard way, that being bossy is not much fun! Storytime with the Millers” tells these stories and others, for preschool and primary-aged children.”

Wisdom and the Millers: “Make Proverbs come alive for the children in your home, church, or school! Here is a character building collection of lively, inspirational stories. Each chapter explains and illustrates a passage from the book of Proverbs, along with a story based on true life experiences. Follow the four “Miller” children as they learn great truths of life and wisdom; sometimes through their parents’ stories, and sometimes the hard way!”

 Pictures From March– Theme: ‘I am a Helper’

Reading Lessons































Practicing Being Helpers at School














































































Pulling Weeds for the Neighbors


At the Nature Park After a Good Rain with Friends Garrett, Max, and Ryker
































































Growing Patterns
































Lovin’ My Brother
















First Day Sitting Up
































Beauty, Sweetness, and Light

















































Nothing More Precious Than Little Ones Holding Little Ones
































































The Little Red Hen Asks Us For Help















A Fun Addition to “Recess” Time at School
















Pure Joy































A Pond With Tadpoles (and Cows) Found!
















A Backyard Birthday Campout for Daddy















My First Math Graph





























Happy 5th Birthday Tayler!















Running Laps In the Rain






























Another Weeding Day















Such a Hard Worker that He Got Paid For Weeding































































A Favorite Center for All: Retelling Goldilocks and the Three Bears
















Big Laughs































So Excited About Thunder, Lightning, and Hail































Food, Yucky! Still Nursing 100%















Love My Helpers


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April Lesson Plans


My favorite childhood memories are gardening memories. The rosy glow of summer evening sunshine filling heart and garden I hope will be a favorite memory for my children as well. Are you doing a vegetable garden with your children this year? I hope that you will participate in our lesson plans this month all about gardening, growing in faith, and Easter! A gardening theme is a great way to teach that faith is lot like a seed. Good things come to those who wait. Small faith will grow much bigger over time, and bear lots of fruit with consistent watering of the Word and pruning by our loving Gardener.

Bible Theme: I have Faith

Preschool Fun Themes: Easter and Gardening

Mother Study:


The Power of the Blood by H.A. Maxwell

The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

A Family Guide to Biblical Holidays by Robin Sampson and Linda Pearce (Passover section)


The Wonderful Cross

At the Cross

Nothing but the Blood/Hosanna

The Same Power


The Passion of Christ

The Case for Christ (documentary)

The Prince of Egypt (Passover). Ok, go ahead and share this one with the kids.

Passover Story (you Tube Clip)

Special Dates:

April 14th-18th–NO SCHOOL Enjoy some extra time together this week preparing for and celebrating Easter!

SHARING What have you grown in a garden before? What do you like about gardening? What do you dislike? What would be in your dream garden?

COMMUNITY OUTREACH Favor for a Neighbor–We started this last month and will continue this month because its been wonderful. We find a neighbor who could use some help around the house or the yard, and go help them.

Bible Stories:

The Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos

Chapters 8-21 in NT, plus Easter Story in Chapters 41-56 during Easter week

Memory Verses:

Review previous verse: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me..” Galatians 2:20

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

New Verse: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” John 11:25-26

Classical Art Study:

Choose from hundreds of Garden Paintings found here.


Christ the Lord is Risen Today


Sheet Music Here

No Mp3 of this hymn available, so learn it beforehand using the link below, and then teach it to the children a cappella:

Faith is a Living Power from Heaven

Lyrics and tune

Poetry and Recitation:

From Christian Mother Goose




The children will practice printing their memory verse and poem for the month of April.


Materials:  printed scripture verse, loose letters, word cards for “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly like an eagle.”


Proverbs 23:4-5 

Do not wear yourself out trying to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly like an eagle.


Reading Lessons:
“Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly like an eagle.”

1. Write one word from the selection on the board

2. Discuss the word

3. Study it closely, then erase

4. Find the word card from a small pile of cards, then hide the card

5. Spell the word with loose letters (from memory if possible)

6. Find the word in the printed fable

7. Repeat steps 1-6 with each word

8. Do a review of all the words listed up on the board

Word Building Lessons (spelling):

Using loose letters, build words that rhyme with each of the words assigned for this month (ex: not–cot, dot, got, jot, let, pot, blot, plot, knot, trot, spot, etc.).

(3rd reading selection, lessons 5-8 in Delightful Reading by Simply Charlotte Mason)

History Books:


Place books on hold on your library’s website today, or order from an online bookstore, so they will be ready for you on time!



(Activities are from the Kathy Richardson books: Developing Math Concepts in Pre-Kindergarten and Developing Number Concepts)

Week 1  Sorting More or Less (p. 149)

Children will determine whether groups of objects have more or less than the group they are being compared to. String different numbers of beads on pieces of yarn and tie both ends off (or use any number set material like toothpick, button, or paper clip cards as mentioned in previous lesson plan posts). Provide one sheet of paper labeled “Less” and one sheet labeled “More”. Lay the sheets of paper side by side and choose one of the strings of beads to lay in between the sheets. Now the children will pick up strings of beads on at a time from a pile and compare whether its more or less than the chosen string. If it has more beads, it goes on the “More” sheet; if it has less beads, it goes on the “Less” sheet. If its the same, place it in between the sheets with the original string. Ask, “What have you found out so far?” and “Can you tell me which numbers are more/less than ____?


Week 2 Recording Designs and Creations (p.158)
Children will focus on shape and position by making a design and copying it. Have the children create a simple design with pattern blocks or tiles. Then have the children copy these designs by gluing down paper shapes that match the blocks (you can print “printable pattern block shapes from the internet” and cut them out before hand). The copying portion of the activity is important because reproduction requires children to pay close attention to the position of the blocks relative to each other and the number being used. Limit the number of blocks you give them if needed because it is easier for them to build than it is to copy.















Week 3 Counting Boards: Changing Numbers (p. 173)

Children will practice changing one number of objects to another. First, lay out several duplicate storyboards (several sheets of paper with a simple picture of a two lane road for example where unifix cubes represent cars driving down the road). Place a different number of “cars” driving down the road on each storyboard. Have children label each picture with the correct numeral (either write numbers on a small squares of paper or use numeral cards). Leave the cubes in place, and have children remove the number cards, mix them up, and put each in a different position than before. Now the cubes do not match their number labels. Children now adjust the number of cubes on the boards to match the newly placed numbers.

Family Traditions and Projects:

Plan and Plant a Garden










Then Write an Experience Story

“Today we planted a garden in our backyard with mommy and daddy. First, we planted a pumpkin behind the rosemary. Next, we planted planted peas in a large pot. Then we planted lettuce, carrots, radishes, corn, and onions in our raised garden bed. Finally, we made sure to water all our plants. We can’t wait to eat fresh vegetables from the garden!

Planting a garden together is a perfect opportunity to use something called Language Experience Approach (LEA), or dictated stories. The language experience approach is a “whole language” approach that promotes reading and writing through the use of personal experiences and oral language. Beginning literacy learners relate their experiences to a teacher, who transcribes them. These transcriptions are then used as the basis for other reading and writing activities. Through LEA the teacher is able to demonstrate important concepts about print such as: starting on the left side of the page, capitalizing proper nouns and at the beginning of a sentence, spaces in between words, punctuation at the end, how to proceed to the next line on lined paper, etc.

LEA is something useful I learned in my teaching credential program, and is very compatible with Charlotte Mason methods as it treats language as a “whole” experience. Teaching language arts as a whole means that speaking, listening, reading, writing are taught all together in a natural and meaningful way, and lessons to teach skills and mechanics of language are not taught separately because this takes them out of context, thus losing their meaning. Since LEA develops literacy through whole language, it develops literacy with the whole learner in mind. Real people love to read and write for real purposes. (FYI, learning parts of language out of a workbook is the exact opposite of whole language methods)

So to do LEA, make a shared memorable experience together, such as planting a garden, then sit down and have children all contribute to retelling the experience while you write down their words in large print that everyone can see (like chart paper or a blackboard). You may help provide the framework such as a topic sentence and transitional words such as first, next, then, after, and last. You can help provide correct grammar without totally changing the children’s story. Read your story, re-read it, revise it, make a book out of it, share it, journal it, or write it down in a memory/scrap book…… you see all the purpose and the meaning?!

This activity is very beneficial because the children will see how the writing process works from beginning to end, they will also get reading practice as you all read and re-read the story together, and beginners enjoy the activity because it uses a topic of high personal interest and familiarity. Plus, teamwork gets the story done which makes it easy and fun for brand new writers.

Plan a Botanical Playhouse/Teepee















We did zero soil prep last year and so we got one vine instead of a bunch. I think we shall try again!


Paint Rocks to Make Cute Vegetable Garden Markers. Make sure to spray varnish each side at least 5 times or colors will disappear rapidly! One year we varnished a painted rock project only once or twice and the paint washed off in no time.


Plant and Paint Sunflowers–We do a ‘Directed Painting’ every year (As I paint on my paper and talk the kids through, they try to copy)















Repentance Box

Anne Voskamp: “As the day rolls out, and snags here and there, we find ourselves, Mama and Dad, big kids and little, taking a moment to confess our sins on small cards, slipping them into our box of repentances.

In this practice we are experiencing it afresh: Confessing sins is a cleansing, emancipating grace.

Come Easter morning, we’ll burn up our cards of sins confessed.

Because they are, astoundingly, no more, because of Christ who did it all.

And we’ll walk home with an empty box of repentance, giving thanks that He has written our names, not our sins, in His book of remembrance.”

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Dye Eggs–We love to use food coloring and vinegar instead of buying egg dying kits because the colors turn out brighter.


We love doing Easter Garden Baskets!! Here are two very different ones we have done the last two years. The basket with succulents definitely worked out the best as far as longevity for us, but both types of plants made for beautiful baskets. Idea from A Holy Experience.



Cross Necklaces made out of Sculpey Clay, beads pressed in, and baked.

Doing a Passover Meal is truly awesome. I recommend looking into doing this with your family! The book Biblical Holidays is so great, and will help you with everything you need to know.

Ressurection Eggs and egg hunts are so fun. Tayler was the one to find the egg with the cross inside two years in a row.




























At the Foot of the Cross Build a cross in your garden. Sit at the cross, run to the cross daily as needed, allow your flesh to be crucified. Nail your sins to the cross, worship, meditate on the meaning of Easter/Passover, and be still before Him.




Paper Mache Eggs Fill with goodies!

Nature Study:

Find a pond and study the frog life cycle.


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