Discover the six essential resources that will help you create the Charlotte Mason homeschool you’ve dreamed about.
Are you tired of asking for resource ideas, only to get overwhelmed by long lists of books, overly religious content, or the same books recommended over and over?
Just tell me what I really need, you think. I don’t want a a list of thousands of books, I just want to know what are the best resources to support my CM journey.
Who has time to read the 1,347,567 “most essential” books? Not me!
Instead, I’ve narrowed down my favorites list to just six resources that I consider necessary (and they aren’t all books, either — because a Charlotte Mason education is about so much more than books).
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Essential Resource #1: Charlotte Mason Digital Collection
The Charlotte Mason Digital Collection is a treasure trove of primary source material.
From the original volumes to Parents’ Reviews and personal correspondence, the CMDC is an online repository for all things Charlotte Mason. You can do hundreds of hours of research here.
Most of the digitized items are also available at the Internet Archive.
My favorites outside her original volumes are the Parents’ Review, the PNEU programmes, and A Liberal Education for All.
Essential Resource #2: Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young
If I could only have one resource outside of Charlotte Mason’s own writings, it would be Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature by Jon Young.
One of Charlotte Mason’s top goals was to raise naturalists, and no other book or guide provides the sort of instruction that this one does.
It is full of not only inspiration but also hand-holding and thoroughly tested activities that engage children in nature connection, and so sneakily that they often don’t even realize it’s happening.
I have two copies: one for own home and one for our cabin. That’s how essential I consider this book.
If you are outside the U.S. and shipping is prohibitive, 8Shields.org sells it as a digital download, too.
Unsure if you’ll like Jon Young’s style? Watch some of his videos that are on YouTube to check him out first.
Essential Resource #3: Good Watercolor Paints and Decent Brushes
Painting (or “brush drawing”) is an integral part of a Charlotte Mason education.
Crayola-type watercolor pans will last a whole entire weekend at my house, and I just can’t afford to keep my daughter supplied. (Let’s not even mention the crappy brush that comes with in those pans!)
Instead, I made a small investment in tube watercolor paints, decent paint brushes, and a palette that closes securely.
Now, these are not professional tools or even super-high-quality, but they do the job well. I bought them all four years ago and they are still going strong.
You could easily get away with fewer paints (my set has 30 and many of them I haven’t even touched). This one is only 12 tubes and cheaper.
The tube colors are so much richer than the Crayola pans.
Here’s how to use them for CM-style dry-brush drawing:
- Put a dollop of watercolor paint into a section of your palette and let it dry. This will take from 12 hours to a few days, depending on your air temperature and humidity.
- Once they are dry, wet your brush and use it to drip a teeny amount of water on the top of one of the palette squares of paint. You just want to rehydrate the top layer, not make a big sloppy puddle.
- When the paints have been slightly rehydrated, they are ready for use. You want that layer on top thicker than water, thinner than glue. Probably a milk or even light cream consistency will be close.
- Dip the tip of a damp brush into the rehydrated watercolor, and paint away.
Essential Resource #4: Golden Guides
The Golden Guides from St. Martin’s Press are our go-to field guides. They’re the first ones we grab because they contain the most common specimens we’re likely to see and they are accessible for both kids and adults.
Enough information to give you a good overview of what you’re looking for without going into so much detail that it’s overwhelming.
We will often first identify a specimen in our Golden Guides, then if we want to dig deeper we’ll go to a thicker, more comprehensive field guide. Often, the bigger field guide doesn’t really have more information than the Golden Guide.
There are over 30 Golden Guides in the series, but our favorites are Birds, Insects, and Reptiles and Amphibians.
Essential Resource #5 Simplicity Parenting by Dr. Kim John Payne
Not a specifically Charlotte Mason resource, but the best guide on parenting that I’ve ever read.
I re-read it yearly (it applies to young children all the way through teenagers) and also give it as part of my standard baby shower package.
I can’t even remember how many copies I’ve bought to give away.
Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
Essential Resource #6: Sturdy Unlined Notebooks
For Nature Note Books, for drawing the lizard the kids just caught, for making notes about the tracks in the puddle in the muddy spot in the backyard.
My favorite are the heavy coil-bound sketch books you can get from JoAnn’s, Michael’s, and even Walmart.
Stay with 50lb paper or heavier. I’ve used Strathmore, Canson, and Art 1st and have been very happy with all of them.
We even have a tablet from Melissa and Doug, but at 8.5″ x 11″, it’s a bit big.
For easy portability, 5.5″ x 8.5″ or 6″ x 9″ work well.
JoAnn and Michaels often have their sketchbooks on sale, and I wouldn’t pay full price for them. They also often have 40% off coupons if you don’t want to wait for a sale.
And, both Michaels and JoAnn give their Teacher Discount to homeschoolers, which gives an additional 15% off.
These are my favorite resources for a Charlotte Mason lifestyle
Quick recap (because who wants to scroll all the way back through the post?)
- Charlotte Mason Digital Collection
- Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature
- tube watercolor paints and decent brushes
- Golden Guides by St. Martin’s Press
- Simplicity Parenting
- sturdy, unlined notebooks
Do you have others that you love? Let me know in the comments!