CM 31: Charlotte Mason 101 Teaching Reading the CM way

CM 31: Charlotte Mason 101 Teaching Reading the CM way

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Show Notes:

Teaching Reading according to Charlotte Mason

Description: Charlotte Mason wrote that the traditional methods of teaching reading in her day were “one of the many ways in which children are needlessly and cruelly oppressed,” and were “an abuse of his intelligence.” What were the methods she so vehemently spoke out against? Unfortunately, many of them are still used to teach reading today. In her volumes, Miss Mason outlined steps in a reading lesson that would arouse the imagination and awaken the “joyous interest which is the real secret of success.” In this super practical podcast, Julie H Ross (who has taught dozens of children how to read), will guide you through Miss Mason’s approach to reading lessons.

Meet Julie:


Bio- Julie H Ross believes that every child needs a feast of living ideas to grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. As a former school teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and Assistant Director of a Homeschool Academy, Julie Ross has worked with hundreds of students and parents over the past 20 years. She has also been homeschooling her own five children for over a decade. Julie Ross developed the Charlotte Mason curriculum, A Gentle Feast, to provide parents with the tools and resources needed to provide a rich and abundant educational feast full of books, beauty, and Biblical truth. Julie lives in South Carolina. When she’s not busy homeschooling, reading children’s books, hiking, or writing curriculum, you can find her taking a nap.


  1. Free 10 lessons in Sight and Sound
  2. Handouts
  3. Home Education section on teaching reading
  4. 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound
  5. Treadwell Primer
  6. Natural Methods Reader


Now, compare the steady progress and constant interest and liveliness of such lessons with the deadly weariness of the ordinary reading lesson. The child blunders through a page or two in a dreary monotone without expression, with imperfect enunciation. He comes to a word he does not know, and he spells it; that throws no light on the subject, and he is told the word: he repeats it, but as he has made no mental effort to secure the word, the next time he meets with it the same process is gone through. The reading lesson for that day comes to an end. The pupil has been miserably bored, and has not acquired one new word. Eventually, he learns to read, somehow, by mere dint of repetition; but consider what an abuse of his intelligence is a system of teaching which makes him undergo daily labour with little or no result, and gives him a distaste for books before he has learned to use them. - Volume 1, pg.207

Show Transcript:

Julie -

Hey everyone. Welcome to the Charlotte Mason Show. I'm your host, Julie Ross and today, you are going to hear just from me. I'm going to do a little teaching session on one of my favorite topics, and that is teaching reading.

Charlotte Mason wrote that many of the traditional methods of teaching reading in her day are one of the many ways in which children are needlessly and cruelly oppressed and that they were an abusive of his intelligence. So, this is some pretty strong words that she had about the traditional method of teaching reading during her day.

And she had a new and revolutionary way of teaching children how to read. And she said that a reading lesson should arouse the imagination and awaken a joyous interest, which is the real secret of success.

So today, I'm gonna kind of break down the steps that Charlotte Mason used in her reading lesson. During this podcast, you'll hear me use the word ‘handouts’. If you go to and click on this episode's show notes, you will find a link to download the first ten lessons of A Hundred ??? Lessons In Sight and Sound, which is my reading curriculum. But in that packet, there are letter tiles and a word building mat, and I'm going to reference those during the talk.

So, you don't need my curriculum to teach a child how to read using Charlotte Mason's Methods, which is kind of how I'm gonna break this apart for you. It's amazing. You really needs... nursery rhymes and some of these letter tiles, or if you have blocks, or little wooden letters that you can use. Those are fine too. And a chalkboard, or something for your child to write on. It's so simple. But yet, it's so magical, the way that she puts it all together, so, if you are listening and you hear the word handouts and you're confused, I highly recommend going to the show notes and getting the handout ??? Getting the free lessons, and you'll use those word building mats and the letter tiles to work with your child to help them learn how to read. So I hope this podcast is extremely helpful for you.

Thanks for listening.

Hi, welcome. I'm Julie Ross and this is teaching reading with Charlotte Mason. And I'm excited that you all are tuned in. I really hope that this will give you some practical tools that you can use in your home to teach your kids how to read.

Just to introduce myself real fast, like I said, I'm Julie Ross. I'm the creator of a Charlotte Mason curriculum called A Gentle Feast. My background is in education, and I was a public school educator and also started a private Christian school and a homeschool hybrid school before I wrote A Gentle Feast. And many of those years, I taught kindergarten. I was also a private reading tutor. I was a reading interventionist in the public school. So, I have a lot of experience teaching children how to read.

And when I really started diving into the Charlotte Mason philosophy, I was real excited to find out that a lot of what I had been doing with the kids that I had taught was how she actually said to teach reading.

Back when I went to school to become an educator, at Penn State, the classes were focused on whole language. So, this idea that children will learn how to read by seeing lots of words. And by seeing words over and over again, that they will see that whole of a word, they would be able to internalize it into their reading.

And I remember sitting in my education classes thinking, like, there's gotta be something that's missing here. Like, when do we teach the kids what sounds these letters make? Or how they sound together? And I thought back to my own experience learning how to read. I don't know if you can remember how you learned to read. Often, you know, it's just this natural kind of progression. It's this process. But I clearly remember I watched a lot of Sesame Street. And there was this show back in the 80s called The Letter People. And there was a lot of phonics in that. And, yeah, I remember sitting down, actually before I went to kindergarten, at my parent's little laminate table. And our 70s kitchen with the avocado green refrigerator, and just start, you know, trying to sound out words in this little book that I had always read.

And so I knew there was a phonics component as well. When I started teaching at the private Christian school, they had already purchased this huge box curriculum for the kindergarten class that I had. And it was all phonics. And it came with a lot of tools. It was very expensive. It had a lot of letter blends that we were supposed to teach that were really just like, nonsense words. Like it'd be, they called them, I think, word ladders. So it was like, ab, ib, ob, ub, eb, or something. And like, you immediately think, what is that?

And so, I started to teach it, cause I had to use the curriculum they'd already picked out. And I just became so frustrated. And I said, will you please let me kind of... I've taught thousands of children how to read. Can I please use what I've kind of used in the past? And it was kind of a combination of both of those methods. Teaching whole words, teaching by sight, and also teaching phonics at the same time.

And the primary way that I did that was through nursery rhymes. And when, like I said, when I started diving into the Charlotte Mason philosophy, I realized that she also did that. She called them sight and sound lessons. So I'm gonna kind of break apart those kind of ideas for you in this talk. And you can teach reading using Charlotte Mason's methods without buying anything. I know, it's crazy, right? There's so many reading curriculums out there, and they're so expensive, and they come with so many things that I didn't think you use half of them. But with very simple pieces of paper, is really all you need. And you can teach your child how to read with this method, so, hopefully that is exciting and encouraging for you.

So, most of the quotes that I'm going... actually, I think, all of the quotes in this talk come from Volume One, Home Education. So, that was Charlotte Mason's first volume of education philosophy, and it was primarily geared at teaching children under the age of nine. Now, a lot of her philosophies in there that applies to all ages, but if you have younger children, I highly recommend that you read that Volume.

But, on the show notes…on the talk notes there, it's a space where I give you the specific pages in Home Education and a link where you can go and read those. So, that really will help you kind of understand this philosophy a little bit more from what I am able to share with you right here.

So, in Volume One, she says that Proudly that they call which we call education, offers no more difficult and repellant task than that to which every little child is or ought to be sat down, the task of learning to read. Let us recognize that learning to read is to many children a hard work. Let us do what we can to make this task easy and inviting. And I just see that in so many families there. Reading becomes this constant battle. And our job is to make it easier for our children and to make it something that is inviting, something that they look forward to learning how to do. It's not this, you must sit down and do this kind of repellant task that she's talking about. We want this to be like, yes, we're gonna learn how to read! This is so wonderful. And for our children to also have that enthusiasm, and I think that really comes through with the way that she teaches reading.

So like I said, I'm Julie Ross, the creator of A Gentle Feast. And there's my kiddo, so ??? over fifteen years. And yes, I did teach all of them, all five of them, how to read. So, I really believe that Charlotte Mason has a very unique approach here on how to teach reading. And so I wanna kind of break that apart here.

Okay, so the first thing, like I said, is this combination between sight and sound. So she says definitely, what is it we propose in teaching a child to read? That he shall know at sight, say some thousand words. That's A. And then B, that he should be able to build up new words with the elements of these. Let him learn ten new words a day. And in 20 weeks, he will be, to some extent, able to read, without any question as to the number of letters in a word. For the second, and most important part of our task, the child must know the sounds of the letters, and acquire the power to throw given sounds into new combinations.

So the sight worth of learning these new words each week, she has ten here, and they're able to read them by sight, so it doesn't matter how many letters are in the words. Oftentimes, if the child is only learning to read by phonics alone, you have to stick to the consonant vowel consonant words for a very long time. Okay, you're gonna have books like, Sam sat on Bob, Bob sat on the mat. Right? And it becomes very tedious for children that that's...those books are not interesting. I don't know if your kids have ever read them to you, but trust me. They're not. And if they're not interesting for you, they're probably not interesting for your children either.

So, I'll explain this a little bit more when I got through the sight lessons, but they're able to learn words that have phonetically harder spellings and combinations, that they might not learn til they were, I don't know, second or third grade. But by learning them by sight, they're able to learn them earlier on and then read harder material.

And then she talks about the phonetic part. They're able to build words and they're able to throw those sounds into different combinations. And they didn't call this that back in Charlotte Mason's time. You know, she wrote at the end of the 1800s, early 1900s. But nowadays they call that ??? awareness, being able to manipulate sounds and words which are just found and... I have this Pinterest board called Charlotte Mason is Right. Cause it just boggles my mind how brilliant this woman was who lived so long ago and didn't have this research available to her. Except for her own observations of children and the ??? of children that were using her programs.

But, research has shown that sound awareness is a key ability to be able to read well. To be able to manipulate individual sounds within words and put them together in new combinations.

Alright, another key to Charlotte Mason's approach, is that you start with the idea of words over letter combinations. She said, I should never put to him in words of one syllable at all. The bigger the word, the more striking the look of it. And therefore the easier it is to read, provided always that the idea it conveys is interesting to the child. It is sad to see an intelligent child toiling over a reading lessons infinitely below his capacity. Af, ef, if, of, uf, most of those kind of word letters I was talking about, or, at the very best, the cat sat on the mat. How would we like to begin to read German for example by toiling over all conceivable combinations of letters arranged on no principle but similarity of sound. Or worse, still, that our reading should be graduated according to the number of letters each word contains. We should be lost in a hopeful fog before a page of words of three letters, all drearily like one another, with no distinct features for the eye to seize upon. But the child's, oh well, children are different! No doubt it is good for the child to grind the mill.

But this is only one of many ways in which children are needlessly and cruelly oppressed. And those are some strong words from Charlotte Mason. She's not beating around the bush here of what she thinks of these kind of drilling letter combinations. And I love her example of, like, learning a foreign language, right? Like, you wouldn't wanna learn every possible letter combination there is. You wanna start reading and talking it. Right?

So, by teaching our children some of these captivating words, words that are unique, that are able to recognize them by site, and they're not constantly having to do these drills, before they can read things that are super interesting. So, we wanna start with this idea, we wanna get them interested in learning how to read, and the cat sat on the mat isn't gonna interest or excite most children. Right? So we have to give them books and readings and poetry that excite them and capture their imagination.

Another unique approach to this is skipping the phonetic rules at first. You know, there's a lot of reading curriculum, where it's, we need to teach children all the rules of all the different ways that English can be combined. And then we can start... they can start reading after they've memorized all these different rules.

Charlotte Mason said, by way of illustration, consider the delicate differences of sound represented by the letter O. So, I'll show you this little chart here. Symbol, no, order, to, not, word. So look at how that "O" is pronounced differently in all these words.

She says, the study of this is curious. Not especially useful study for a ??? but a laborious and inappropriate one for a child. It is time we face the fact that the letters which compose an English word are full of philological interest. And that their study will be a valuable part of education by and by, but meantime, sound and letter sign are so loosely whetted in English, that to base the teaching of reading on the sounds of the letters only, is to lay up for the child much analytical labor. Much mental confusion, due to the irregularities of language, and some little more strain in making the sound of a letter, and a given word fall under any of the sounds he has already been taught.

So, like she says, it's too hard of an intellectual labor for a young child to start memorizing all these words. By and by, they'll pick them up, and it's okay to, you know, introduce them and teach them, kind of, once they've already started reading, you can point some of these out. But English is so inconsistent. I feel like every rule I learned in school, there's like, fifty examples of how that rule doesn't actually fit in English. Right?

And so, when they're trying to sound something out, they're trying to figure, okay, where does it go, is it this rule or that rule? And that's just too much mental effort for a child that's first learning how to read.

Alright, and then she says, again, to capture a child's interest. She say the child cares for things, not words. His analytical power is very small. His observing faculty is exceedingly clicking keen. Nothing's too small for him. He will spy out the eye of a fly. Nothing is too intricate ??? and puzzles, but the thing he learns to know by looking at is a thing which interests him. Here we have the key to reading. Okay. The kids are naturally curious. They like puzzles. They like observing things with their eyes, right? No meaningless combination of letters, so again, she's really stressing this point. Cla,cli, claw, clue, naf, nef, nif, nof, nuf, should be presented to him.

The child should be taught from the first to regard the printed word as he already regards the spoken word. And you'll see throughout Charlotte Mason's philosophy. This oral before written or processing visually, which research, again, shows, children are much better able to produce things orally at a very young age before the eye catches up and before the hand for writing catches us. So, if you have listened to my narration talk or, I don't know what the order of it is, but, you know, I talk about that too when we're going from oral narration, oral composing, to written narration and writing, that there is that natural progression. And so she was very keen on how children develop.

She says the child should be taught first to regard the printed word as he already regards the spoken word. As a symbol or an idea full of interest. How easy to read, robin redbreast, buttercups and daisies. The number of letters in the word is no matter. The words themself contain such interesting ideas that the general form and the look of them fixes into the child's brain by the same law of association of ideas, which makes it easy to couple the objects within their spoken names. Having got a word fixed on the sure peg of an idea it conveys, the child will use his knowledge of sounds and of letters to make other words containing the same elements. When he knows butter, he's ready to make mudder, by changing the "B" to an "M" and so forth.

So, again, you know robin redbreast and buttercups and daisies, those are really hard words to sound out phonetically, right? But if you're reading a poem or a story that contains those words, they're very unique. And then you can take those words and make more words that are similar to them and get that phonetic component in there. But it's not just arbitrary sounds. These sounds lessons are related to the sight words that capture their interest. So, again, we're starting with the idea.

And she talks about how the idea's a peg and that they're gonna hang the word that they're learning upon that peg, and you see that, also, again, throughout Charlotte Mason's philosophy, that it's the ideas that feed our children's minds the information, names, dates, places, those kind of things, will be hung onto those ideas as they get older. But starting, initially, with the captivating idea.

Alright, so now, I kinda gave you like an overview of how her approach to reading may be different than some that you're familiar with, so let's kind of break down what do we actually do here? Okay, I think there's this often, this misconception, because Charlotte Mason talks about starting formal reading lessons around age six. That you don't do anything before age six. And that is not true. In Home Education, she talks a lot about what you need to do to get a child ready. And in today's modern world, we call that reading readiness, right? There are things that you should be doing before you ever sit down and try to teach your child how to read.

So, let's start with those. So, first, we obviously learn our alphabet here, right? And so, we're gonna learn our letters, and she's saying even kids as young as two can do this. It's not, come sit down at the table, and fill out this worksheet with your letters. That, it should be at this age, games, it should be fun, it should interesting, it should use the whole child's body, use the gross motor and their fine motor skills. You know, she talks about making letters in the air. Making letters in a tray of sand. Making letters outside in the dirt with a stick. Okay? And starting with capital letters first, because those shapes are very unique, you know, and lower case letters, we get into the whole b, d, p, q, that look so similar and backwards and forwards, right?

So, if you start with capitals, that kind of eliminates that and they're easier for kids to form anyway. And once they've been kind of making those big, for a while, then you can move to the fine motor. I don't encourage giving children a pencil in the preschool ages at all. Most of the time, they end up with horrible... trust me as a kindergarten teacher, horrible pencil grip that you are gonna have to correct later on.

So, I recommend using crayons. You can even break the crayons in half. So then they have to use that correct pincher grasp. Have them write on a piece of paper that's with a piece of sandpaper underneath it. And the crayon on the sandpaper gives them that friction and helps them, their muscle memory, learn how to make those letters a little bit easier. Having them write on a chalkboard is also good. Especially, like, if you have a chalkboard that's on a wall that they could stand right up against and start writing their letters. It's great. You want to have that tactile experience, especially for young children.

She talks about teaching your kids their letters in the bathtub. They make those little foam letters. I don't know what they had back then, but nowadays they have those little foam letters that stick on your bathtub. Play games as you're giving them their bath. My kids had that LeapFrog toy. I think it's a farm and you put the little letter in and it, like, sings to you. That would get terribly annoying. But it works. Of teaching my kids their letter sounds. You can play games when you're driving down the road, or you're in a store. Start to get them to identify the beginning letters of words, okay.

So, d, d, d, duck. D, d, d, dog. Really emphasizing that beginning sound. And then once they get that, then you can start to play, like, I Spy, like, in the grocery aisle, I spy something in this aisle that starts with the letter "B" b, b. Can you find something that starts with "b"? Right? And make it a game for them. And, again, this is not, sit down and fill out this worksheet. These are oral lessons, or they're so key, and again, helping children learn the sounds. It really is not a ton of good if you just know the letter names. Because we don't read that way. We don't read, "c-a-t". No, we read, "c, a, t". So, really focusing in on those sounds is gonna be really key. And that's what we call, nowadays, this ??? awareness. The understanding of ???. Understanding of sounds. And we're still just doing this orally.

So, a great way to build ??? awareness is through fingerplays and songs and read them a ton of nursery rhymes. A ton. I can't stress this enough. Nursery rhymes, nursery rhymes, nursery rhymes, okay, they get the rhyming component from the nursery rhymes, which is what they need to be able to manipulate sounds later on, that have these similar word structures like Charlotte Mason was talking about. And then, you know, after you've been reading them nursery rhymes and singing songs, then you can start to ask them, can you help me rhyme something. So, can you tell me if cat and bat rhyme? What about mouse and house? What about car and chair? Okay? At first asking them to say yes or no something rhymes or not. And then once they get pretty good with that, you can ask them to supply you with a word that rhymes. Can you tell me something that rhymes with kite? Can you tell me something that rhymes with tree?

And before you move on to formal reading lessons, if they are not able to do that, you're gonna... it's gonna be really hard. So, you really wanna focus on getting them to have that rhyming ability, kind of early on. And then once they're able to do that, let me show you this chart here. Oh goodness, I'm too big. Well, the first part of the chart, here, talks about rhyming, which is what I said. So even starting at age two, okay? You're gonna be working on this for a while. Okay? And then, working on like, this alliteration, which is mostly like the beginning sounds, here, like, can you find something that starts with the letter "C"? Okay? Then we're going to blend. Okay, that's just like a progression of ??? awareness skills.

So next is blending. Blending and isolating. So I like to call these rubber band words. So if I take a rubber band and I ??? I'm gonna stretch out this word, right? So if I take this word and I'm gonna stretch it out to make it really slow for my kid, and say, h, o, t... what word is that? Okay? And getting them to push the rubber band back together and say, "hot". Okay? Again, these are all oral. These are all oral lessons. You're just talking to each other. Okay? A couple minutes. Every day. You can use a slinky for this, anything that kind of shows them that like you're gonna stretch the word and say it really slow and say all the sounds, and then you're gonna put it back together.

You can even have them clap the sounds, tap the sounds, you know, d - o - g. How many sounds do you hear in d - o - g? Okay? You really want them to be able to count those out and break them apart. In terms of blending the letters together in the talk notes, there is a word building mat that I use. And you'll see a green circle, which I say is like the go sign. And then the red box is the stop sign.

And so, when I'm teaching a kid how to read, I'll have them race a car across it, so, at first the car is gonna go really slow, okay? It's gonna go d - o - g. Okay, now I'll make the car go faster. D-o-g. Dog. Now to speed, as fast as we can! Dog! Right? You can even, like, a princess toy if you don't wanna use a car or whatever your kid likes. A Lego mini-figure.

But you're trying to teach that...I like the car, cause I try to teach that it's gonna go slow, and then fast. And that's gonna have them take those sounds and put them together. And that's something that you can do at a young age.

So Charlotte Mason says the first exercise in making of words will be just as pleasant to the child. Exercise is treated as a game, which can teach the power of the letters will be better to begin than with actual sentences. Take up two of his letters and make the syllable, "at". Tell him, we are at home, or at school. Then add a "B". Bat. Add "c". Cat. Add a "f". Fat. First, let the children say what the word becomes with each initial consonant. In order to make cat, pat, cat, let the syllables be all actual words which he knows. So, none of this weird nonsense syllable stuff.

Set the words in a row and let him read them off. Do this with the short vowel combinations with each of the currents, and the child will learn to read off a dozen words of three letters and will master the short vowel sounds with initial and final consonants without effort. Before long, he will do the lesson himself. How many words can you make that end in "en"? So you give them that fat "e-n" and then have them try to move over the initial consonant to make a new word. And again, this is with the letter tiles that I gave you and the word reading mat you can use these for these kind of exercises here.

So, now you're starting to move into this word-building phase, which isn't just oral. So, we had the oral segmenting and blending, the stretching and the shrinking. And then we have word building, so, yeah. So this helps so you can see it better. That's my son, he has the little boxes where he's making the word, and then you can see the green circle to the red stop sign, going slow, red, square... to going faster as he says them.

So again, just a couple minutes every day. Give them the ending combination and have them add the initial sound to make new words. When they're good with that, then you can change it and have them start making the ending sound. Okay, that's even harder. So the initial sound is easier. So, cat, fat, pat, mat. Okay? And then you can start having them end the ending sound. You give them the beginning of "m - o" and they're gonna put a ending sound. It could be m - o - m, Mom. Or it could be, m - o - p, letting them kind of choose and showing how the word changes.

Today's episode is brought to you by A Gentle Feast. A Gentle Feast is a complete curriculum for grades one through twelve that is family centered, inspired by Ms. Mason's programs and philosophy, and rooted in books, beauty, and Biblical truth. You can find out how smooth and easy days are closer than you think at

And then she does something that's very interesting too before formal reading lessons. She starts having them do this word building with long vowel sounds. Often many curriculums wait for months before they make the transition from short vowel sounds to long vowel sounds. And I find that to be extremely confusing for children. They get in their head that "a" only says "ah" and now you're starting to teach them that "a" says "ay" when you put it with an "i" or you put it with a "y". And that's just very confusing, right?

So if you start this word-building kind of...again, these are just games for just a couple minutes every day. It doesn't become so weird that, okay, these vowels, they have more than one sound. And it could start playing with them as well. So she says when this sort of exercise becomes so easy that's just making these short vowel combinations, let the long sounds of the vowels be learnt in the same way. Use the same syllables as before, but with a final "e". Thus "at" becomes "ate". And we get late, pate, rate. The child may be told that "a" in "rate" is a long "a". And "a" in "rat" is a short "a". He will make the new sense of words with much faculty. Helped by the experience he gained from the former lessons. Then the same sort of thing with an "ng" and "ing" and "ang" and "ong" and so forth.

Then you can start with "fuh". Okay, so now starting to learn these diphthongs here, some of the harder consonant combinations. Such as "with", "pith" or "half", "laugh" and so on. This is not reading, but it's preparing the ground for reading. Words will no longer be unfamiliar and perplexing objects. When the child meets with them on a lighter print, require him to pronounce the words he makes with such finish and distinctness, that he himself can hear and count the sounds.

Okay, so again, we're not making this super complex yet, but they are getting a lot through this word building. I mean, oftentimes, use long vowel combinations would be something that kids wouldn't get till first grade. Of course, nowadays, I feel like they're pushing everything down into kindergarten and then we used to wait to teach in first grade, but, you know, but by playing with these words and doing this word-building they're able to learn how to manipulate sounds and letters, which is going to make learning the actual reading process happen super quickly. And that's another reason why I think she says the formal lessons are waiting till six. It's not that they're doing anything else. This word building stuff is a lot of what we did in kindergarten. But, she said to make it exciting. So she said make learning to read a privilege. Okay, this is how you get your kids interested and excited, right?

So, in the story that she gives in Home Education, it was a very big deal on the child's sixth birthday. It's like, okay, you're not finally old enough to learn how to read. Of course, he'd been working with these letters and words for a while, so they really have such a great foundation. It's gonna happen quickly. And, you know, she talks about getting the rest of the house in order, having somebody come watch the little kids, that this is just you and me time, buddy. We are getting to learn how to read. And it makes it this super great privilege, not a chore for kids. Which I just think is a great idea.

And then she says that the first lesson is going to be in set. So these are reading words just by looking at them. So, in your talk notes, I have the cards for this lesson. In Home Education, she gives this example of a mom telling another mom how she taught her son how to read. And so it's this little poem at first. I like little pussy, your coat is so warm. And you can see in the notes, like, each of these words is on it's on its own little card. So, first, in the sight lesson, you're going to teach the child these words. It may only be the first line. Like, I like little pussy. And they're going to see the word, they're going to write the word. And again, at this age, I would recommend that they're writing it in a salt tray, or they're writing it in sand, or they're writing it with a crayon, with a piece of sandpaper underneath it. Or they're writing on a chalkboard. Okay, they're not just writing it with pencil and paper yet.

So they're gonna write the word. So they're looking at the word. They're gonna write the word. They might build the word with the letter tiles. YOu might show the child this poem. Read it to them. Can you find the word like? After they've seen it, so they're able to recognize it by sight.

Okay, and then the next day would be a sound lesson. Okay, so the next day, you're gonna take some of those words that were in that poem or story, and you're going to make different words out of those kind of combinations. So, again, this is pretty...I mean, this wouldn't be like something you would start with, with Hickory, Dickory, Dock. This is kind of later on.

But you can see, you know, you've kind of already made a lot of these combinations earlier on, and so they're ready to do them visually now at this point too.

So that gives you an idea that's like kind advance combinations here. I wanted to start off doing ??? that's kinda hard. I would start with moving the initial sounds that use a little bit more advanced when we got to that. So, in the nursery rhyme, the example that, her coat is warm. So then you could start making word combinations with coat. Coat, goat, moat, float. And your child might say, "note". Well, the word "note" isn't spelled with an "oat", that's a great way to kind of show your children yeah, that does rhyme, but when we spell the word, you could also spell the "o" sound with a different combination. And kind of getting use to that.

And again, like these are harder vowel combinations, right? You have an "o" and a "a" together and "i" and a "e". These would be letter combinations that someone wouldn't learn until later on, if they were just starting out with the consonant vowel consonant so, in Charlotte Mason's book, this is the first lesson this boy has and he's already learning these kind of more complex long vowel combinations. A, because that foundation is already been there. But B, because these are exciting and interesting words that come from the poem and we don't have to laboriously progress through smaller and easier words for days and days and days.

Alright, so, here's another one you might wanna start with. Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are. So, in the packet there's little flashcards that you can use. Can you find the word "twinkle"? Well, twinkle's super interesting. But that's a really hard word to learn how to pronounce phonetically, isn't it? But because I have this idea of this song that most children are familiar with, right? It's very easy for my mind to grasp that that is the word twinkle.

Now, you want to use these letters in different combinations later on. So, they're not just gonna find the word "twinkle" in the poem. That's easy, if it's something that I've memorized. But now, can they take those little cards and put them together and put, like, from the other poem, like, I like you, okay? From this poem. Or, how do I twinkle? You know? Using these in different ways and seeing if they can still read those words together that way.

And then, from twinkle, twinkle, little star, you can make these kind of combinations. With the "ar" family, or "how", "cow", "ow", okay? And getting them learn to read that well. And then, here are some materials that you need. So, a book of nursery rhymes, or some easy prose stories. So, if you on there's so much there from the early 1900s, these great stories, because this is how kids were taught to read. I used the natural method reader, in the 100 Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound curriculum, I created. There's another one called the Treadwell Primer that has cute little stories. Like, the Little Red Hen, and the Gingerbread Man, and teaching them how to read through those stories.

So, again, same thing. Once they've kind of learned how to read these nursery rhymes, you can go on to the stories that have more words, you're just gonna teach them the words by sight. You can make little flashcards out of index cards. Having them recognize those words, write the words, build the words. And then the next day, you would just do a sound lesson based off of one of those words in the Little Red Hen. So maybe you have hen, pen, men, red, bed, ted. Okay? Teaching them, again, with those word families.

So sight lesson, sound lesson. You just need some index cards that you can write these kind of flashcards on. Or we could make them on a computer, like I showed you. You'll want to have the letter tiles, and I provided those with you and I kind of color-coded them based on if they were a vowel combinations, if they were consonants, if they were a long vowel sound, or a diphthong, or something like that. Then there's the word building mat to kind of help them. They wanted... those boxes really help, they're called Ellison boxes. It helps children see, like, each sound is separate. And then you're either gonna want a sand... like I said, a sand tray. You could do a salt tray. I have seen people do... you want them to have a chalkboard. Either a little one or one that's up on the wall, or a piece of sandpaper with paper over it. And then, you're going to have you, as a mom, I really encourage you to go read those pages and Home Education to kind of help you wrap your brain around this a little bit more.

But like I said, it is something that you can definitely easily do with very few materials and nothing that you actually need to go buy. So it's just the next day, the following two lines of the poem are learned in the same way. If these lines don't offer much in the way of spelling lessons, we just move on to the next two lines. Like if you can't make a sound lesson off of the two lines that come next after twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky. Well, those last, you can do that, but, you know, you might not be able to get...if you've already learned a lot of the sounds, something out of that.

Our collection of words continues to grow. And as we go on, we're able to make almost unlimited sentences. In the rare event that a blank has to be used, it only whets the appetite to learn more. By the time Thomas has finished learning My Shadow, he has an impressive collection of words. He is more able to attack new words that have familiar letter combinations. More important, he has achieved some success and has the confidence to approach all kinds of learning with the sense that positive results are within his ability. he learns to read in a way that builds good habits. There's no dawdling or resisting. Instead, there is bright attention and perfect achievement. He enjoys his reading lessons, which is what we all want as parents, don't we? We want them to enjoy it and to build good habits. They're gonna help them read and continue to love to read in the future.

I would love to connect with you if you go on to The first ten lessons of A Hundred Gentle Lessons in Sight and Sound are free. So that will give you, like, the flashcards that will help you kinda just test it out and see what you think and see if you ??? to do this method on your own, even if you want to. I have a Facebook community with other amazing Charlotte Mason moms, helping answer questions. You can follow me personally on Instagram at JulieHRoss, or the Gentle Feast has their own Instagram page where moms post amazing, inspiring pictures of things they're doing in their own home.

Thank you for joining us today on the Charlotte Mason Show. I'm your host, Julie Ross, and I would love to meet you in 2020. I will be at all seven Great Homeschool Conventions, speaking as part of their Charlotte Mason track. Go to to find one near you.

If you want more information on what was shared in today's podcast, go to for the show notes. Also, don't forget to subscribe to this podcast in iTunes or Google Play so you never miss an episode. Until next time

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