Form II Options
While Charlotte Mason did not advocate formal writing instruction at this age, we recognize that some will want to or be required to provide this. We want writing curricula to be able to slide nicely into a Charlotte Mason philosophy, staying away from formulaic writing and teaching the parent how to coach the student. The following programs provide various amounts of hand-holding for the parent, but all should be able to be used in a Charlotte Mason manner:
- The Writer’s Jungle from Bravewriter
- Write On
- Treasured Conversations [can be covered in a year, or spread out to do one part each year; can be purchased from educents]
- Igniting Your Writing (currclick.com Note- Volume 2 will be for Form 3+)
- Paragraphs for Elementary School by Donald Killgallon
We also are aware that many Charlotte Mason curricula recommend no written narrations until age 10. In A Liberal Education for All, however, we see in the time tables “Form Upper IA, an occasional written narration” and for Form II, “Form A, two written narrations at the end of two lessons each day (10 min); B, one”.
If you are coming in late to Charlotte Mason and your child has little experience with narrations, work solely with oral narrations for several terms, then gradually add in written.
Also, if your child struggles with the physical act of writing, concentrate more on oral than written work for as long as necessary, while continuing to work on physical writing.
The programmes begin with formal grammar instruction in Form IIB, and the time tables designate 30 minutes for English Grammar and 30 minutes for Parsing and Analysis each week.
We recommend KISS Grammar because it’s free to use, thorough, and uses excellent literature. We’ve provided guidelines for an easy way to navigate the website, but we know it can still be confusing to use. Here is a short blog post on how one homeschooling teacher uses it: KISS Grammar: What It Is and How We Use It
Parsing and analysis can be done in different ways. Since grammar is one of those things that can be hit or miss depending on the student, we offer a few other suggestions for grammar programs.
- Analytical Grammar — some feel it’s not as complete as it could be, while others feel it is as complete as it needs to be. If using this, you could wait until Upper IIA, or begin with Junior Analytical Grammar in Lower IIA. Junior is not necessary. Uses classic sentence diagramming.
- Winston Grammar — a visual way to learn the parts of a sentence and parts of speech. Begin with the Basic Level. Does not diagram, but uses colored cards to parse and analyze.
- Michael Clay Thompson language arts — an entire series of books, very complete, but there is no errata. Current editions may or may not have the corrections made. Uses a “4-step process” to parse and analyze sentences from quality literature. It is expensive to buy both student and teacher’s manuals, but the general consensus is that you only need one or the other. The teacher’s manuals have some extra teaching tips and the answers to the 4-step analysis. There are very good samples on the website.
As with all grammar programs, what works well for one child may not work well for another. If your child just does not seem to be understanding grammar no matter what you try, set it aside for a year or more. Some students are not able to understand it until 12 years old or older.
If your child is struggling with reading and writing, you can do the exercises orally. If he is really struggling with reading and writing, better to simply delay grammar and concentrate on other things so as to not overwhelm him.
As always, if you do not live in the U.S., you should replace this section with books about your own country.
In IIB, we are reading about the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, we were unable to find non-fiction, literary quality books written about this time period in the Americas for this age group that are widely available. Because of that, we deviate slightly from a strict chronology.
We are reading about British history as our “second history” because most countries in the world have been impacted in one way or another by Britain. However, the lack of material pari passu — (side by side) for the United States led us to go a slightly different route for US History.
Term 1 we begin with your local history. This will take some research on your part, but we feel it’s worth it. It also ties in well with geography for this term: while you are learning about the history of the land itself, you can also learn about the history of the people on this land.
Term 2 we run into the same issue of no suitable non-fiction material. We used historical fiction books covering the time periods under Reading, and use Turtle Island for North American history. Robin Hood, also under Reading for this term, is a much stiffer book than we’ve previously read.
Before we found Turtle Island, we used Heart and Soul: The Story of America for African-Americans to fill this hole. It is written in an uplifting manner, though we do recommend you read it with your child so you can discuss. We have now placed Heart and Soul under Optional “Sunday” Reading because it is an overview of all US history.
If you prefer to use a more general North American history book in Term 1 or 2, one option is Who Was First? By Russell Freedman. It is an excellent book, and we do not schedule it simply because depending on what biographies and explorers you chose to study in Form I, the material may be redundant. We encourage you to look at the Amazon preview Table of Contents to help determine if the material will be new to your child.
If you decide to use it, read approximately 40 pages per term. If you want less of a minority emphasis in your curriculum, you can spread this book out over Term 1 and 2, deleting Turtle Island. Otherwise, judiciously trim Who Was First to keep page counts reasonable.
For Term 3, we use a book from Picturesque Tales of Progress by Olivia Beaupre Miller. We also use this same book in our Ancients studies this Form; however, we will use it in a later year of this Form. If you wish to delay buying it, another option is to use pages 3-23 in America First!, pages that we skipped in Form IB due to their content, and add in a book about an explorer. Our first choice is We Asked for Nothing: The Remarkable Journey of Cabeza de Vaca, but it is currently out of print and not widely available. Consider Beyond the Sea of Ice: The Voyages of Henry Hudson by Joan Goodman. Or, stories about voyageurs, fur trappers, mountain men, or Ponce de Leon.
In IIA, we move into The Landmark History of the American People, a social history of the United States. It does not spend much time on the wars and political movements, but concentrates on the people. It has been recently “updated and the language simplified and activated” by Sonlight, the publisher. Both the new and old edition are currently available from Rainbow Resource, but they have limited stock of the older edition.
The older edition is more conversational, but lacks color pictures and assumes some prior knowledge. The book was published in two volumes, but also combined into one larger volume. The new edition is written at a lower level but assumes no prior knowledge and is filled with color maps and pictures. It is only published in two separate volumes. Despite being republished by Sonlight, it is a secular book and comes from a moderate viewpoint.
Many options for history books for this age group are very liberal, and we try to keep a centrist, moderate viewpoint in our main curriculum. For a more liberal viewpoint, consider Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States.
Many homeschoolers like Joy Hakim’s A History of US, but it is much too long to get through the series at the rate Charlotte Mason recommends (approximately 40-50 pages per term). It is also quite liberal, and the numerous text boxes can be distracting for some students.
This Country of Ours by H. E. Marshall is also popular. It was published in the early part of the 1900s so uses some dated terminology, and many readers feel it is biased against Roman Catholics. Edit on the fly if you are reading aloud, or discuss with your students if you aren’t. It is conservative/moderate.
A History for Peter is a strong option, but it is currently out of print.
We Were There, Too! Young People in US History by Phillip Hoose is a nice book full of anecdotes by children but should be used as a supplement rather than the main book. Cut back on historical fiction if you incorporate it.
If you are new to Wildwood Curriculum and your child hasn’t had much American history, a good starting point for this age group is A Child’s First Book of American History by Earl Schenck Miers, published by Beautiful Feet and carried by Rainbow Resources. Many stories cover the same ground as America First!, so if your child has read that book then we don’t recommend using this one.
For a stronger minority focus:
IIA — Delete historical fiction books from the Reading category, and instead read A Different Mirror for Young People: A History of Multicultural American alongside Landmark History of the American People.
The “If You Lived…” series is good as a resource or reference, but is not narrative or literary. They can be a good choice to enhance your study of Native American cultures and time periods of American history, but you should not expect your students to narrate from them.
The programmes used The Ancient World by Albert Malet, and while wonderful, it is only available to be viewed online, not downloaded, and that only in the U.S.
It covers Rome, Greece, and a small amount of the Eastern empires (Egypt, Chaldea, etc) and was used for two years. The entire book was not finished in two years.
We love Eva Tappan’s books, but they go more in depth than we wanted. They are an excellent option if you want to spend more than a year on Greece.
We recommend the Yesterday’s Classics versions of Streams of History Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. They have both been edited by Lisa Ripperton.
While we love the idea of studying the foundations of Western Civilization, since The Ancient World is not widely available we decided to expand to other parts of the world. Since we use the Book of Marvels: Orient in geography, we decided on learning about the ancient Americas.
You could also do Egypt, Africa, or any area that you have a cultural connection to or special interest in.
- The Ancient World by Malet
- The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer (some do not consider this completely secular, though it is a modern book)
- The Story of the Greek People: An Elementary History of Greece by Eva Tappan
- The Story of the Roman People: An Elementary History of Rome by Eva Tappan
- Adventures of the Ancient Silk Road (out of print)
- Builders of the Old World (out of print)
- Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green
- The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt by Elizabeth Payne (Landmark Books)
Two possibilities for Africa that we found but have not personally reviewed are The Royal Kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay; and Mansu Musa and the Empire of Mali.
Other options for books on citizenship are
- Books by Syl Sobel
- The Tuttle Twins (libertarian point of view, not high quality literature, but they address issues that no other books do for this age. Use them as jumping off points for family discussions).
In Form IIb, the programmes had the children working through Ambleside Geography: The Counties of England. We also feel strongly that children should know their own local area thoroughly, both for knowledge of place and also because being able to see different biomes and landforms is more enlightening than reading about them in a book. Here is an excellent article on Place Based Education
To that end, we suggest at least a full term of local geography study. This can be extended throughout the year, or you can add in Minn of the Mississippi and The Last River.
We tried to get a good variety of geography resources, knowing that what appeals to one child will not appeal to another. Here are several other books that you can sub in if your child prefers a different route:
- The Land I Lost by Quang Nhuong Huynh (sensitive readers may prefer Li Lun, Lad of Courage)
- Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun by Rhonda Bloomberg
- Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels: The Occident (available from Living Books Press)
- The First Book of the Caribbean by Langston Hughes
- The Whispering Land by Gerald Durrell (may be better for Form III)
- Ambleside Geography Books II, IV by Charlotte Mason (may be easier to find as Geographical Readers for Elementary Schools)
- Living Geography by Barbara Taylor
- Discover Downunder (homeschool curriculum)
- Explorers Who Got Lost by Diane Sansevere-Dreher
- Around the World in a Hundred Years by Jean Fritz
- Others in the ‘Travels with Gannon and Wyatt’ series by Patty Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet
- No Summit Out of Sight: The True Story of the Youngest Person to Climb the Seven Summits by Jordan Romero
- Beyond the Sea of Ice: The Voyages of Henry Hudson by Joan Elizabeth Goodman
- Book of Pirates by Howard Pyle
Books by Holling C Holling
- Tree in the Trail
Natural History, etc
For other books about growing up, American Girl puts out The Care and Keeping of You (for girls) and Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys. These are tastefully done and also highly recommended.
While the PNEU programmes had natural history in Form II, they also branched off into an overview of the sciences and electricity. Other options are:
- The Way Things Work books by David Macaulay (several editions: The Way Things Work, The New Way Things Work, or The Way Things Work Now)
- The Story of Science by Joy Hakim
- The Sciences by E. S. Holden (used in the PNEU programmes)
- Blood and Guts by Linda Alison
- Pagoo by Holling C Holling
- Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C Holling
- The Plant Hunters by Anita Silvey
- Billions of Years, Amazing Changes by Lawrence Pringle
- Evolution: How We and All Things Came to Be by Daniel Loxton
- Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin Wiker (may use in Form 3)
- The Sea and Its Wonders by Mary Kirby
- The Human Body Book by Steve Parker (DK book)
- The Wonder Book of Chemistry by Jean Fabre
- The Way We Work by David Macaulay
- Madam How and Lady Why by Charles Kingsley
Schedule approximately 40 pages of a book per term.
As in Form I, if you are doing object lessons (which we recommend), the Keepers series by Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac is unmatched. These are resources for the parent, not for the kids, and each topic has activities for multiple ages.
- Keepers of Life
- Keepers of the Night
- Keepers of the Animals
- Keepers of the Earth
There are plenty of activities and observation in the scheduled books and special studies, so these are optional. For science lovers, though, they are an excellent addition.
They are also good to use for special studies.
Special studies with drawings and notes were done every term in Form II. The PNEU programmes recommended Furneaux’s Countryside Rambles, and we do also. It is available as an ebook from Yesterday’s Classics, and is in their Nature Study Pack.
Ideas for special studies using Countryside Rambles:
- Autumn tints
- The fall of the leaf
- Autumn fruits
- The dispersion of seeds and fruits
- How animals prepare for the winter
- The Awakening of Nature
- Opening Buds
- The reappearance of hibernating creatures
- How plants climb
- The winter condition of plants
- Trees in winter
- Winter buds
- Animal life in winter
- Winter flowers
- Frost and snowstorm
Other ideas not in Countryside Rambles
- Animal tracks and sign
- Rocks and minerals
Science experiments are essential. If you don’t use the scheduled books, or just need more experiments for your child, any good book of experiments or demonstrations may be used, including Janice Van Cleave’s books. Or, simply make sure to do the activities in the Keepers series if you use them. These are an excellent way for your child(ren) to learn the material in a hands-on manner.
Another high quality series for experiments is TOPS Science Though they can be used at the lower end of their listed grade range, they are most useful to students at the mid or upper end of the books’ recommended range. One TOPS book per term is more than sufficient at this age.
The PNEU programmes state “Important: to be read in leisure time: Number Stories of Long Ago” for every year in Form II.
This book is probably not enough to satisfy for three years, so we give other suggestions for IIA. If you are new coming in at Form IIA, then start with Number Stories of Long Ago.
Other options for math related books include
- The Ten Things All Future Mathematicians and Scientists Must Know (But are Rarely Taught), or other books by Edward Zaccoro
- Any math books by Theoni Pappas
- The Man Who Counted: A Collection of Mathematical Adventures by Malba Tahan
Or go in a slightly different direction with your IIA student and use a book like Speed Mathematics Simplified by Edward Stoddard, to open their mind to a different way of working with numbers than our traditional algorithms.
Two options were given for French in the PNEU programmes: one, a Primary French Course with grammar and exercises, and two, noted as “better”, a Course of French using the Oral Method.
Because it is the method Charlotte Mason recommended, we recommend using Cherrydale Press. At this time, they have one level each of French, Spanish, and German, but only Spanish has a second level. Each level will last 2-3 years, so if you are studying Spanish you may not need another course.
If you finish Level 2 of Spanish, the creator of the Cherrydale Press books recommends the following:
“[A]t the moment I’d recommend going back through Volumes I and II and putting the series in more advanced tenses and working on more explicit aspects of grammar. (We’re working on those lessons.) I’d also recommend incorporating poetry and perhaps reading a book in Spanish. It is possible to get popular books in Spanish these days, but it would be better to get something that was actually written by a Spanish author.”
If you have chosen French or German as your first foreign language, it’s a bit trickier.
Other resources that are worth looking at are
- So You Really Want to Learn (French, Spanish) by Galore Park [Spanish is no longer in print]
- Breaking the Barrier (French, Spanish)
- Homeschool Spanish Academy, or other online language tutors
- Getting Started with (Latin, French, Spanish)
- The Art of Teaching and Studying Languages by Francois Gouin
- 19th century German stories with English translations
May be appropriate for older IIA students:
- Learning Spanish from The Great Courses (these go on deep discount several times per year — do not pay exorbitant full price)
There are many drawing books available that can be used either by the children directly, or as guides for the parent to transmit the skills to the children.
We like Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes and Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling.
Other options are:
- Drawing, Design, and Craftwork by F. J. Glass, recommended in the PNEU programmes
- Drawing Textbook by Bruce McIntyre (available from Rainbow Resource)
- Books by Ralph Masiello. These are not learning to draw from life, but can be useful for resistant students
- Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
- Perspective Made Easy by Ernest Norling (Dover Books)
- What to Draw and How to Draw It by Edwin Lutz
- Drawing Made Easy by Edwin Lutz
Recitations are used for practice in oration — public speaking, speaking with feeling, good pronunciation.
Each term had assignments for Old and New Testament (12 lines each, NT was usually one of the Gospels) and 1-2 Psalms. In addition, a hymn and 50 lines from either the term’s Shakespeare selection or a variety of dramatic poems. Sometimes the programmes were specific (Lyra Heroica Nos 67 and 79; 50 lines from Tennyson’s Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington), other times more general (50 lines from Choice of Songs by Kipling).
We have chosen to recommend an anthology for variety, as well as recommend a specific poet to focus on each term. It is not a requirement to have a focus poet, but it can help a student get a feel for an author’s style.
Other poets that could be used in place of the ones we chose are:
- Rudyard Kipling
- Walter de la Mare
- Carl Sandburg
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- T. S. Elliot
- Or any poet that strikes your fancy
We see a difference in Home Education between Recitation and Memorizing. While this portion is all under the PNEU programme heading “Recitation”, we believe that the scripture verses were meant to be memorized, to provide a ready store of comfort and inspiration. We also see that “recitation and committing to memory are not necessarily the same thing, and it is well to store a child’s memory with a good deal of poetry, learnt without labor.”
Because of this, we’ve chosen inspirational passages and specific poems to fill the slot that scripture took.
If you have a specific religious tradition, we encourage you to have your child memorize passages from your tradition in place of what we have suggested.
We also have 1-2 poems per term of your child’s choice. We encourage you to let her choose whatever poem she wants, whether it’s a long, sentimental poem, or the short “Ooey Gooey was a worm.”
For oration (recitation, or reading with feeling from a passage), a selection of Shakespeare, or 50 lines of various poetry are suggested. Have fun with this! This certainly does not need to be dull and dreary. You could do famous speeches here, or Poe’s The Raven, Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade, Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride.
What catches your student’s interest? Is there a particular passage in Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates that intrigues her? Why not use that for one term’s oration practice?
In all things, we should search for beautiful language. That doesn’t mean flowery, but it does mean literary quality. Perhaps a portion of an excellent short story, or Patrick Henry’s speech, or one given by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Two rules given by Arthur Burrell in an 1890 Parents’ Review article are not to use pieces with “low class humor” and not to choose tragic or sentimental pieces.
Reading included holiday and evening reading, what we might term “free reading”, and as such did not always need to be narrated.
For Form II, mythology was read every year. IIB used The Heroes of Asgard, and IIA Bulfinch’s Mythology.
While excellent, The Heroes of Asgard is not always in print. Others you can use in its place are
- Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
- Nordic Gods and Heroes by Padraic Colum
- D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Myths
- In the Days of Giants by Abbie Brown (various printings, some abridged)
D’Aulaire’s is more colorful but the stories are written to children. This makes them accessible, but also sanitized. There is also a subtle Christian influence, particularly at the end where the Gods are replaced by the One God, and also the same subtle thread of women being inferior to men. Be aware of it so you can contradict it.
Neil Gaiman’s book is enchanting but without illustrations. The mythology is accurate, the stories delightful. There is a passing reference to lovemaking but nothing graphic. Struggling students will prefer D’Aulaires; more confident or older students may well enjoy Gaiman better.
We only read half of The Heroes of Asgard before moving to Bulfinch’s Age of Fable in IIA. If this bothers you, feel free to read the left out portions over holidays or summertime.
While Norse mythology is important for cultural literacy in Western countries, you might wish to choose mythology from other parts of the world, particularly if your child’s cultural heritage is from another part. Please do so, or replace some of the stories from Bulfinch with mythology from your own culture. Or, keep them for Sunday reading, either free reading or as a family read-aloud.
- Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green
- The Legends and Myths of Hawaii by David Kalakaua
- mythology books of China, the Philippines, or Japan
Bulfinch’s Age of Fable is read over four years. Edith Hamilton’s Mythology could also be used, and is considered by some to be more scholarly. Padraic Colum’s mythology books are also an option, though they are written at a lower level than Bulfinch. If your child is struggling with Bulfinch, first try reading it with her. If your book includes commentary, be sure your child knows that she doesn’t have to read that and can read just the stories themselves. If, after a term or so, your child is still struggling with Bulfinch, consider Colum’s works.
Other books in the Reading category generally consisted of either one historical fiction (often G A Henty) or one literature book per term in IIB, and one of each in IIA. Because we chose easier books than Henty, we chose one each of adventure reading (literature) and historical fiction in IIB as well as IIA. If your child is struggling, please cut back on one or the other, or use one as a read aloud.
For those who want a more challenging track, consider
IIB — books by G A Henty (pre-read for racial issues). Delete Race to the Moonrise, Morning Girl, and Sees Behind Trees.
IIA — Uncle Tom’s Cabin, novels by Sir Walter Scott
If you did not previously read The Tales of King Arthur in Form I, then do replace one of the adventure books in IIA with Malory’s The Coming of Arthur.
It would be impossible for us to list all the excellent historical fiction and adventure novels available. For the historical fiction we have chosen, you may substitute any historical fiction that you wish that roughly correlates to the history you are reading.
Some options for historical fiction (by no means exhaustive):
- Johnny Tremaine
- Ben and Me
- Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison
- Maroo of the Winter Caves
- The Sword in the Tree
- Island of the Blue Dolphins
- The Whipping Boy
- By the Great Horn Spoon!
- Anne of Green Gables
- Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel Brill (based on a true story)
- The Door in the Wall by de Angeli
- Incident at Hawk’s Hill (based on a true story)
- With Pipe, Paddle, and Song: A Story of the French-Canadian Voyageurs by Elizabeth Yates (excellent but out of print)
If you want to spend more time on the American Civil War or immediate aftermath, consider using one of the following books in IIA for historical fiction:
- Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder (please note that this is not 50 Shades of Grey!)
- Turn Homeward, Hannalee by Patricia Beatty
- Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Some students aren’t fans of historical fiction, preferring their history to not be mixed up in a fictional narrative, and their fiction to be undeniably fiction. If you have one of those students, you can replace any or all of the historical fiction titles with engaging history books. Favorite authors are Jim Murphy, Russell Freedman, and Albert Marrin. They each have a long string of excellently written living books to their credit, and to list them out would make this web page insanely long. Most titles written by them are not only living books but are appropriate for IIA and up. Jean Fritz is also a well-loved author for Form II. [side note from Marjorie — my own daughter, in particular, loved Albert Marrin’s books, but he works best for Form 3]
Some ideas to get you started:
- My Indian Boyhood (autobiography) by Luther Standing Bear
- The Lost Colony of Roanoke by Jean Fritz
- The Boys’ War by Russell Freedman
- The Great Fire by Jim Murphy
- Black Potatoes (Irish potato famine) by Susan Bartoletti
- Cowboys of the Wild West by Russell Freedman
- The Legend of Bass Reeves by Gary Paulsen (biography)
- Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman (biography)
- The Witchcraft of Salem Village (Landmark book) by Shirley Jackson
- The Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac (Step-Into-Reading Level 5)
- Mrs. Simcoe’s Diary by Elizabeth Simcoe
- Roughing It in the Bush by Susanna Moodie
Literature was meant to be classics, which were generally at least 20 years old so as to get past the ‘fad’ issue. Sometimes books are hailed as wonderful when they come out, but do not stand the test of time. For this reason we only use books that are at least 20 years old for our literature choices, but you might consider more recently published books to get more female and multi-cultural characters. However, please keep to the same high standards that you would have for a classic book.
We brought minority characters into the historical fiction selections to balance the lack of them in the literature selections. We seriously considered Julie of the Wolves for adventure reading, but ultimately left it out due to some objections over a sexual assault and cruelty to animals. Please pre-read to determine if it is appropriate for your family.
Charlotte Mason advocated “tales of adventure” and we also saw this in the programme’s selections of reading material for Form II.
Here are some web pages with other suggestions for adventure literature:
50 Fictional Adventure Books from the Art of Manliness website
Other books you might consider as alternates to the adventure literature:
- Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
- Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Some programmes gave the choice of Alice through the Looking Glass or A Christmas Carol. Neither of these are particularly adventure novels, and they are an anomaly among the recommended reading in other programmes for Form IIB. You may choose to insert these wherever you wish, or not. A Christmas Carol is a nice book to listen to as a family (audiobook) nearing Christmas, and Alice is of course appropriate at any time.
Learning new skills and working with the hands remains a strong theme in Form 2, as does serving others.
Every term the PNEU Programmes have “Help in house and garden” as well as Cardboard Sloyd (4 models) and “Help the Save the Children Fund”. In addition, each year there is a term of Clay Modelling, one of make Christmas presents, as well as additional skills and crafts.
In Form I, there was one additional craft per year. In Form II, there is an additional craft per term that is not stitchery (knitting, sewing, or embroidery).
We kept the admonition to “Help in house and garden” as well as a term per year of Clay Modelling. Because “Cardboard Sloyd” books are so difficult to find, we made this optional and linked to a book in the public domain.
Each term we have a skill for your student to learn or continue practicing, whether that’s whittling, cooking, sewing, or building. We chose activities with an eye towards utility, motor skills development, and what might hold a child’s interest.
We feel that sewing and cooking are invaluable skills, but don’t feel obliged to follow our suggestions. If your child is more advanced or needs more time, that’s ok.
We begin machine sewing in IIA, an age when many children are ready to begin learning. If your student simply isn’t, put it off for a year or 3. We love Stitches and Pins or Buttons and Bobbins for instruction, but their pattern directions are lacking. This book also comes from a Christian viewpoint, though the instructions themselves are generally secular. If you buy one of these for the excellent teaching instructions, consider buying patterns for the projects separately, or search for free patterns online.
To begin machine sewing, first teach the student the parts of a sewing machine and how it works. Then begin by sewing lines and then curves on paper. Draw large and simple designs on paper and let your student figure out how to control the pedal speed, reverse, and turn curves.
A pillowcase is a nice first project. Let your student choose the material. Seams that aren’t quite perfect won’t matter, so this is an excellent project for the first time machine sewer. (Note from Marjorie – my own daughter used her first-project-pillowcase for 12 years before the material finally gave way). While you will want to encourage your child to use a cotton or cotton-polyester blend, don’t judge the print he or she chooses.
In Form 2, sewing in the PNEU programmes was mending and sewing articles of clothing. We provide suggestions for a graduated sewing experience. You can do a web search for tutorials, or watch for sales at your local fabric store. JoAnn Fabrics frequently has pattern sales of $2 per pattern, and many pattern makers have patterns for “Easy Sew,” “One-Hour Sewing,” or “Sewing School,” all of which are good for beginners.
If you would prefer not to sew clothing, Sewing School 2 is also a good book for learning to sew with a machine.
Crafts and Skills
While we have skills or crafts like whittling every term, we expect that once you have guided your child with the basics, they will not require constant supervision. Of course, if you’d like to choose other skills, that’s fine. If your child has motor delays, don’t feel like you have to “keep up”. Work at your student’s level, modifying as necessary.
We also have one Family Craft per year. This is a project that every age child can enjoy on different levels. If you have more than one child of school age, don’t do a separate Family Craft for each one. Choose one that appeals to you and do that. For example, if you have a student in IA (lower) and IIA (upper), you wouldn’t do both the felt ornaments and the birdhouse. Choose one or the other — unless you want to do both.
Lastly, we have a Service Project each year. Almost every term the Programmes have “Help the Save the Children Fund” or a specific project such as “make toys for poor children for Christmas.” We also know, though, that many families are involved with church/synagogue or Scouts and do service projects through those organizations. If you do, don’t worry about our suggestions. Our suggestions are for families who aren’t involved in those activities and would like help with ideas. While organizations that send donations overseas can be fulfilling, we prefer to keep service projects local and tangible at this age.
For other ideas, the PNEU Programmes suggested that the teacher consult Drawing, Design, and Craftwork by Glass (pdf from University of Oxford) and What Shall We Make? Other books your students may find useful or interesting are:
- The Fair Weather and Rainy Day Handbook by Daniel Beard
- The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn Iggulden
- The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea Buchanana
We recommend continuing with yoga and mindfulness, but also understand that not everyone is comfortable with this.
An excellent alternative to yoga that still uses mindful movements and strength building is TappCore.
The PNEU programmes listed ball games, English country dancing, and Swedish drill in this slot.
There are several resources for old country dances, some of them religious. This can be a very fun option, particularly if you have a large family or if you are part of a homeschool group.
Here is a book about Swedish Drill
Drill is scheduled three times per week in the PNEU schedules, part of a half hour mid-day break that includes play. Even if your kids are involved in sports, dance, or gymnastics, we recommend that you not skip this part of the day.