Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hymn Singing and playlist for the 2015/2016 School Year

We know that not all our members are Christian, but we are, and Charlotte Mason was a member in good standing with the Church of England and a woman of strong and deep faith and love for the Lord, and she included hymns in her programmes, and so do we.

On our FB group today, somebody asked for help finding hymn links that have both words and music together, because she doesn't know the hymns and does not read music, so it's hard to learn them from just a midi file with lyrics.
When you click on the title on our website, that usually takes you to the hymn lyrics and a midi file online. But when you click on the asterisk after the song title at our website, that should take you to a youtube version. We *usually* try to avoid instrumental only versions. Sometimes, of course, you all are ready for the hymns before we're all caught up on fixing broken links and finding current youtube versions (sometimes they don't stay put!)

Another suggestion- search acapella versions- that will help you match the words to notes. You can also find acapella versions by looking including in your search terms Primitive Baptist, church of Christ (all three words in quotations), Mennonite, Sacred Harp, OR Shaped Note Singing. The first two groups sing without instruments, so all their hymn selections will be acapella, or voice only, which makes it easier to learn a new melody. Mennonites often do (depends on the group), and Sacred Harp or Shaped Note singing is the fa sol la tradition, and also acapella.  

Something you should know when I pick youtube videos:

I grew up in an acapella singing church, so that's my first preference. I can't even figure out where to sing along with songs that have really strong instrumentals.

I also tend to prefer somewhat unpolished, average joe and jane versions because I want the children not to be intimidated out of singing the songs- and singing the hymns, not just listening to them, is our goal.  

When we added hymns to the line up nearly 15 years ago, we discussed our varied backgrounds in hymn singing. I'm not the only one who grew up acapella, singing hymns with the family on long car trips, while doing the dishes, to comfort ourselves in time of need. But you needn't grow up acapella to have that rich treasure. One of us told the others lovely stories of her mother and aunt singing through the hymns they knew while they did the dishes in a tiny apartment that I always picture looking exactly like the kitchen in The Honeymooners).

We want that for you, too. We want our members and their children to feel like these are songs they can sing by themselves in their rooms, in the morning while getting dressed, while driving somewhere- in their living rooms with their family, anywhere, any time, without being afraid they don't sing well enough, and whether or not they have somebody who can play an instrument. After all, pianos are not portable, but you nearly always have your voice with you.=) 

But you don't have to use my playlist. I won't know if you pick your own unless you tell me and if you do, I will only rejoice over you caring enough about the hymns to pick a line-up that speaks to you.  

In the book of Acts in the New Testament, Paul and Silas were in prison (chapter 16, verse 25). Do you know what they were doing? They were singing. Their hands and feet were bound, so they weren't playing any instruments. The Word does not say, but I it's pretty safe to believe the Jailor was not accompanying them with a psalter (he was not yet converted). They were singing- and I must surmise they were able to do this because singing was already their practice and they already knew the words. That's also something we hope for with AO's students- that hymns will be there to sustain them in joyful and heartbreaking times, that their souls will be nourished by learning- and singing- these songs of the Christian faith.

On this specific playlist, you should also know:

A Charge to Keep I Have will be confusing, I think, because I included more Black American versions than anything else. They have a gorgeous 'lining out' hymn tradition that gives me delicious goose bumps, it's so pretty. But it's not what most people who have never been in black congregations in the south will be used to.

There are two tunes I am used to singing with Take My Life, and I used both of them.

Several of the hymns have variations in their lyrics, or have multiple verses, and one group might sing three of them, and another four, or one may choose a different grouping of verses.

If you sing the hymns, you can't fail.
If you falter, miss a beat, go up when you should have gone down, create a new verse by combining the first half of one verse with the last half of another, go down when you should have gone up, hear your voice catch and crack- none of that is not failing. 

If you cannot carry a tune in a bucket or you get your pitch by scraping your shoe on a rickety wooden floor, or even by scratching chalk on chalkboard- that's not failing.  

There is not doing it wrong or doing it right. There is only singing and not singing.  

Not singing? Now, that's doing it wrong. There's really only one thing you have to do:

St. Patrick's Breastplate Hymn Lyrics for a Hymn from AO School Year 2015/16


I BIND unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
 By invocation of the same,
 The Three in One and One in Three.
 I bind this day to me forever,
By pow'r of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
His baptism in  the Jordan river;
 His crucifixion for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the Heav'nly way;
His coming at the day of doom;
 I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of Cherubim;
The sweet "Well done" in judgment hour;
 The service of the Seraphim,
 Confessors faith, Apostles' word,
 The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets scrolls,
 All good deeds done unto the Lord,
 And purity of virgin souls.

    I bind unto myself to day
 The virtues of the star-lit heaven,
 The glorious sun's life giving ray,
 The whiteness of the moon at even,
 The flashing of the lightning free,
 The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
 The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
 Around the old eternal rocks.

 I bind unto myself to-day,
 The pow'r of God to hold, and lead,
 His eye to watch, His might to stay,
 His ear to hearken to my need
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
 The word of God to give me speech,
 His heavenly host to be my guard.

 Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
 The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
 In every place, and in all hours,
 Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

 Against all Satan's spells and wiles,
 Against false words of heresy,
 Against the knowledge that defiles,
 Against the heart's idolatry,
 Against the wizard's evil craft,
 Against the death wound and the burning,
 The choking wave,  the poison'd shaft,
 Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

 Christ be with me, Christ within me,
 Christ behind me, Christ before me,
 Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
 Christ to comfort and restore me,
 Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
 Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
 Christ in hearts of all that love me,
 Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

    I bind unto myself the Name,
 The strong Name of the Trinity;
 By invocation of the same,
 The Three in One and One in Three.
 Of Whom all nature hath creation;
 Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

From Poems, by Cecil Frances Alexander Macmillan and Company, New York, 1897

My playlist for this year's hymns (not yet complete)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Folk Songs, Term 2, 2015/2016 School Year

The notes about the song are not necessary to learn the folk song. They are provided because the background interested me, and I thought some others might enjoy it as well.


by Henry Wouk

My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf

 So it stood ninety years on the floor.
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.

 It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,

 And was always his treasure and pride.
 But it stopped, short, never to go again
 When the old man died.

Chorus:  Ninety years without slumbering

 Tick tock, tick tock 
His life seconds numbering
 Tick tock, tick tock
 It stopped. Short- never to go again 
When the old man died.

 In watching its pendulum swing to and fro,

 Many hours had he spent while a boy.
 And in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know,
 And to share both his grief and his joy;
 For it struck twenty four when he entered the door
 With a blooming and beautiful bride,
 But it stopped short, never to go again
 When the old man died.

 My grandfather said of those he could hire

 Not a servant so faithful he found.
 For it wasted no time and had but one desire;
 At the close of each week to be wound.
 And it kept in its place- not a frown upon its face-
 And its hands never hung by its side.
 But it stopped, short, never to go again
 When the old man died.

 It rang an alarm in the dead of night-

 An alarm that for years had been dumb.
 And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight,
 That his hour for departure had come.
  Still the clock kept the time with a soft and muffled chime,
 As we silently stood by his side
 But it stopped, short, never to go again,
 When the old man died.


When The Ice-Worms Nest Again
The poet Robert Service included one paragraph (the chorus) of this song in one of his novels of life in the Great North around 1911-The Trail of '98: A Northland Romance- and it doesn't seem to have been a true folk song before then.  By the 20s and 30s the full song had become popular with the trappers and traders in Alaska and Canada, and  Wilf Carter ('Montana Slim') recorded it in the forties.

A 1994 Polygram CD says in the liner notes that it was 'written by Norma Booth, with co-authors from Le Pas, Manitoba, and published in 1949" and that it 'dates back to an old folk song from the Yukon Gold Rush."
(Some of us are not comfortable with the 'husky dusky' description of the maiden.  You can just change the words- making it part of the 'folk process' or you can use the alternative shared below)
There's a husky, dusky maiden in the Arctic And she waits for me but it is not in vain, For some day I'll put my mukluks on and ask her If she'll wed me when the ice worms nest again. chorus: In the land of pale blue snow Where it's ninety nine below And the polar bears are dancing on the plain In the shadow of the pole Oh my Heart, my Life, my Soul, I will meet thee when the ice worms nest again! For our wedding feast we'll have seal oil and blubber; In our kayaks we will roam the bounding main; All the walruses will look at us and rubber, We'll be married when the ice worms nest again. And when the blinkin' icebergs bound around us, She'll present me with a bouncing baby boy. All the polar bears will dance a rhumba 'round us And the walruses will click their teeth with joy. Final Chorus: When some night at half-past two I return to my igloo, After sitting with a friend who was in pain, She'll be waiting for me there, With the hambone of a bear And she'll beat me 'til the iceworms nest again.  
Down by the Salley Gardens
(also sometimes misspelled Sally Gardens)
William Butler Yeats published this in 1889 in his The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems. He said "an attempt to reconstruct an old song from three lines imperfectly remembered by an old peasant woman in the village of Ballisodare, Sligo, who often sings them to herself."

 Down by the salley gardens my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy, as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish, with her would not agree.

In a field by the river my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish, and now am full of tears.

Alternate suggestion for Ice Worms:  Young Man From Canada:

I'm a young man from Canada
some six feet in my shoes
I left my home for Cariboo
on the first exciting news
In New York City I met a gent
introduced himself to me
Said I, "I come from Canada
so you can't come over me."

I sailed on the crazy Champion
all in the steerage too
I thought I'd got among the fiends
or other horrid crew
If you had only seen them feed,
it quite astonished me
And I'd been years in Canada
in a lumberman's shanty

With seventy-five upon my back
I came the Douglas way
And at an easy-going pace
made thirty miles a day
I landed here without a dime
in 1863
But I'd been years in Canada,
'twas nothing new to me

In best of homespun I was clad
so I was warmly dressed
The wool it grew near Montreal
in a place called Canada West
On Williams Creek they called me green
and Johnny come lately
But, ah, I came from Canada,
I ain't from the old country

I started out my mining life
by chopping cord wood
But I was born with axe in hand
so I could use it good
My chum was from the state of Maine,
somewhere near Tennessee
But, ah, I came from Canada
and he couldn't chop with me

In a short time I'd made a raise
and bought into a claim
There they called me engineer or carman,
'tis the same
The drifters then did try it on
to boss it over me
Said I, "I come from Canada
and I'm on the shoulderee."

In two weeks I got a div
which drove away all care
I went over to the wake-ups
and had a bully square
I danced all night till broad daylight
and a gal smiled sweet on me
Said I, "I come from Canada
and I'm on the marry-ee."

Now all young men who are in love
and sure I am there's some
Don't count your chicks before they're hatched
or they may never come
O when I asked that girl to wed
she only laughed at me
"You may come from Canada
but you can't come over me." 

Jeanne's playlist is here.
Mine is here
(I like a wide range of examples and renditions of the same song)
Another AO member's playlist is here.

Have fun singing!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Folk Songs, term one, 2015/2016 School Year

Around fifteen years ago, AO added folk songs to our curriculum.  At the time, we were about the only CM homeschool curriculum that did.  Of course, that's largely because back then we were about the only CM homeschool curriculum out there.

Some people were and are skeptical about it, but usually, when they give it a try, they find their children really enjoy it, and often the parents do, too.  Folk songs speak to children in a unique way, and they give children the opportunity to participate in this traditional art form by singing the songs themselves.

 Four things you should know about folk music:
1.  Folk music is fun to sing.

2.  There is no one right version. Folk music is created by something called the Folk Process- that is, somebody, somewhere, created a song, perhaps set to music an actual story he knew or just made one up to tell, much the same way somebody started telling the story of The Three Bears, and these things get passed down, and things change over time, and in different locations. You'll find variations all over the place. That's okay.

3.  Some folk music is earthy and bawdy.  Some is macabre and sad.  You don't have to sing those lyrics. (However, I personally think the macabre and sad ones are some of the most enjoyable to sing).

4. Folk music is fun to sing, so sing it, don't just listen to it.

Our folksong lineup for term one of the 2015/16 school year is:

The Bold Grenadier (English, originally, but pretty much every colonial country has a version they claim to own)
On the Road to Gundagai (Australian, distinctly)
Home on the Range (American)

Jeanne has a playlist for you here.  It's for the full year.

I have one for you here- it's currently just for this first term, but I will probably add more later.  I like multiple versions of the same song when I'm learning it and planning to sing it for school, and my playlist reflects that.

If you search Youtube, you will probably find playlists from other AO families as well.

Some of the songs on those playlists do have lyrics, but we also like to provide lyrics to our members when we can.  Here's what we've come up with.

 Here's one version of the lyrics to the Bold Grenadier (also known as One Morning in May or The Brave Volunteer) :

As I was a-walking one morning in May 
I spied a young couple a-making of hay. 
Oh, one was a fair maid, and her beauty shone clear, 
And the other was a soldier, a bold grenadier.

  "Good morning, Good morning, Good morning," said he.
 "Oh, where are you a-going, my pretty lady?" 
"I am going for a walk, by the clear crystal stream, 
To see cool waters glide and hear nightingales sing.:

  They had not been there but an hour or two, 
When out of his knapsack a fiddle he drew 
And the tune that he played made the valleys to ring. 
"Hark! Hark!" cried the lady, "hear the nigntingales sing." 

 Kind soldier, kind soldier, will you marry me? 
Oh no, my sweet lady that never can be,
 I've a good wife at home, in my own country, 
Two wives and the army's too many for me.

  As I was a walking one morning in May, 
I spied a young couple a-making of hay. 
Oh, one was a fair maid and her beauty shone clear;
 And the other was a soldier a bold grenadier. 

 Other versions begin 'one morning, one morning, one morning in May...' I've read that this is typical of the American versions, and the 'a-walking on morning in May' is more typical of those sung in the British Isles.

 Some refer to the brave volunteer rather than the bold grenadier. Both are soldiers, According to Wikipedia, the grenadiers were first established in the 17th century. Chosen from the largest and strongest soldiers, their primary function was throwing grenades. Over time the grenadiers retained their elite status, but were no longer strictly associated with grenade throwing.

 The second folksong for term 1 of this school year is the Australian On the Road to Gungadai- the lyrics are here.

  The third folk song for this first term of the 2015/16 school year is Home on the Range. I think it's kind of interesting that this song and Gundagai express similar sentiments- a nostalgic longing and love for home. There are a lot of lyrics to this one, as with most folk songs. Here are just a few:


 OH give me a home where the buffalo roam,
 Where the deer and the antelope play,
 Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
 And the skies are not cloudy all day

Home,  home on the range!
Where the deer and the antelope play.
 Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
 And the skies are not cloudy all day

 Where the air is so pure, the zephyrs so free,
The breezes so balmy and light
 That I would not exchange my home on the range
 For all of the cities so bright


 How often at night, when the heavens are bright
 With the light from the glittering stars ,
 Have I stood here amazed and asked as I gazed,
 If their glory exceeds that of ours.

   (lyrics selected from those in the 1916 Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads)

Happy singing to you!

Monday, August 3, 2015

How to use the website and booklists

We're revamping our website and planning some changes, but they aren't done yet, and people are working on their school year now.
They visit us at, and are often overwhelmed by the information (honestly, sometimes we are, too!).

Who is this tutorial for? If you shut the website down in a panic one second after opening it, this might be for you.  If you find yourself feeling a little dizzy while you look at it, numbly asking yourself, "What do I do? Where do I start? This is all so confusing!"-  I hope this post will help with that.  It's intended for raw beginners, so I explain things that may seem obvious to old-timers, and don't explain some other things that I think can wait until newcomers get their feet wet a bit.

CM Philosophy in a sentence: It's better to know something of Miss Mason's philosophy, but what if you are pressed for time and urgently need to begin now?
Know this:
 Children are born persons. Much and varied humane reading, as well as human thought expressed in the forms of art, is, not a luxury, a tit-bit, to be given to children now and then, but their very bread of life, which they must have in abundant portions and at regular periods. This and more is implied in the phrase, "The mind feeds on ideas and therefore children should have a generous curriculum." 
This is a generous curriculum, based on Charlotte Mason’s ideas.  For help understanding how to implement the things on our website, feel free to ask questions on our forum.

Breaking it down into bitesized pieces of years, terms, and weeks:  We offer a 12 year curriculum list, although the years do not necessarily correspond to grades. We have had at least one student complete our program only through year 8 and still go to college on SAT scholarship. More commonly students have finished at one of the years from 9 to 11 and still been able to manage college.

 Each year is divided into 3 terms, 12 weeks each. We expect students to take 12 weeks to complete the readings assigned for each term. There is no benefit to completing them faster, and tearing through the school readings as though you’re driving on the autobahn is the antithesis of a CM education (by this, we mean, it’s not good. Don’t).

 There is a 13th week for exams. Don’t worry about exams yet. We do not recommend teaching to the test anyway, and we also offer exam helps on the website and forum, so we’ll be there when you get to exam week and need us.

 What year do you need? I don't know.  I always let somebody else answer this question.  Ahem.  Think about your child’s reading level, habits, and experiences. If you are taking a child out of public school, you might choose the year that matches the grade he just finished. If you have a five year old, you probably want year 0. If you have a six or seven year old and are just beginning your CM journey, you probably want year one.  But since this is also a question that often comes up on the forums and you can find more specific help by asking about placement there- people with children the same ages as yours can share what they’ve been doing, I'm not going to spend more time on this question here.

 Are you crazy?  These books are too hard!  The reading will appear quite difficult at first if you are not used to AO or Charlotte Mason’s approach. If you find that a year is too hard or too easy for your child, you can switch after you start- that’s the wonderful thing about a free curriculum. (Even if you find you bought books that you don’t need after all, you should be able to resell them in the buy/sell area of our forum).  But give it a chance. Respect the minds of your children (and your own mind as well!).  I bet all of you can do more than you think you can.

 Walking step by step through one curriculum year on the website: But you don’t have to have a year chosen to go through this outline of website helps.  Let's just pick any year- there will be some differences from year to year, but the general outline is mostly the same, so for now, go to our curriculum pages and click on AmblesideOnline Curriculum (click any pictures to enlarge):

 and look for the years in the left sidebar:

Let’s pick year 4 as an example. Click on a year, and you'll see something similar to this (click to enlarge):

1. Every year has a quote at the top of the page, one we chose from Miss Mason’s writings which we thought was a good fit for that year.

 2. Next you’ll find a paragraph with short overview (not intended to be complete, just to give you a sense of direction for the year).

3. The most confusing part is perhaps a choice you'll need to make, so let's ignore that for a moment and come back to it.

4. There is also a grid which gives a picture view of the year. It’s basically just a visual overview of what you read in the paragraph of description.  Like that paragraph description, it's not intended to be a thorough picture.  We wanted to give you just enough information to give you a sense of direction for the year.

We offer both, because some people would prefer to read text, some want a look at a glance. Some find both distracting (see me, sheepishly raising my hand), and just want to get on with it, so let’s look at your choices.

We'll come back to the 36 week schedule later.  But DO Note: this is merely an overview.  It's not exhaustive, it's not a replacement for the actual booklist.  We also have a gridded schedule available with the schedules, and it is not enough to print that out alone.  YOU NEED TO CLICK THROUGH and LOOK AT THE BOOKLIST.  In fact, I find myself referring back to the booklist frequently.

basic vs detailed: We offer two options called basic, and detailed. The main difference is that in the detailed version we sometimes offer alternatives- more choices to make! There might be more than one biography to choose from for instance, or two or three options for church history, or several options to choose from for geography.

 In the basic version, we simplified things for you by removing all options.  We just give a straight list with no substitutions or varied selections (again, this was just to simplify things- you are always free to make substitutions, of course). You would choose the basic if you don’t want to make choices, if you are in a hurry, if you feel you are not really familiar enough with Miss Mason and her principles to make informed choices, if you live somewhere and some way that your options and time to process this information are limited anyway.

 Some years, especially the younger years, there are almost no differences because we didn’t offer that many options anyway- there weren’t many good ones, or it was obvious that the best of the best was simply the only option (Island Story for year 1 history, for instance).

The Booklist:  So pick one, detailed list with several options and choices to make for many of the books, or the basic ‘this is what you do, no alternative choices listed’ and click through:

Time Period: Every year except year 12 covers a specific period of history (with occasional side-trips, romps through events or biographies in other areas to keep things interesting, or because a theme matches even if the year does not). We list the main era covered at the top of the page for that year.

Asterisks = terms:  Every year is divided into 3 terms, and we break it down further and tell you what period of time each term will cover as well.  If you scroll down through the booklist you'll see asterisks in front of titles.  We denote the terms through the simple method of asterisks. One asterisk, *, means that item will be used in term one, two- **- means term two, and so forth.

Table of contents for each year: Before you get to the actual curriculum, we have a short table of contents for each curriculum year page. You can think of it as another brief overview.

 If this is your first time, you can skip that. All the material is on this page, and you can scroll down to look at it. This linkable, clickable toc will be immensely helpful to you later, when you want to look back at a particular subject for a given year to check your progress, or make sure you got the title correct, or see if you scheduled it properly- instead of skimming through the whole page, you can quickly skim a list of a dozen or so words, find the subject and click on it. For now, don’t bother with it.

Cunningly devised key to (mostly) free stuff: Next is a key, a table of symbols which will at first look confusing and overwhelming, but don’t skip it.

 This will help you find the books you want for the best price (or free!).
When we give the title to a book, we also share where you can find it. Whenever possible, we share free sources, because that is part of our mission- making this as cost friendly as possible, and something missionary families with weight limits overseas can use, as well as families who have just been through a devastating flood, a job loss, or some other life drama. If we were to list out all the sources for each book, it would make the pages longer, more visually overwhelming, and printing them out would be a real bear. So instead, we have a cunningly devised list of symbols (See above.  Isn't it cunning?)

 Our actual book titles in the curriculum lists are always hyperlinked to Project Gutenberg (our first choice) or other FREE online text if no Project Gutenberg text is available- provided a free online version is available. If we don’t know of a free online source, the book title will not be hyperlinked. When we find a new source of free online titles, we add it.

 So take a moment to look over that key and get an idea of what it means. For example, when you see a title followed by the symbol β , that is a clickable hyperlink to, another free ebook site. Whenever you see a ‘Δ’ following a title, that is a clickable hyperlink which will take you directly to a free etext version of that title at When you see this symbol, ☊, (doesn’t it look like little headphones?), that takes you to a free audiobook at Lit2Go, and so forth.

 About our Amazon links: When you see a capital K following a booktitle, that is a clickable hyperlink which will take you to a free Kindle text from ($) will take you to a hard-copy book purchase from, and the K in parentheses (K), is *not* free- it is a clickable link which will take you to (K) a Kindle purchase from For about the last three years, the Amazon links have been affiliate links, and this is how we cover expenses such as the website, research materials, and related costs. I say they are affiliate links, but of course, Amazon does not pay us for free books. That’s not a criticism, just a clarification. We do get an affiliate percentage if you click through to Amazon through one of our links and then also buy something else there on that visit. We appreciate it, but do not require it- we are a ministry first, and not a business at all, or we’d have more than Amazon links, and we’d have had them for far more than the 3 of our 17 years or so of existence.

 This is for, not Amazon.CA or Amazon.UK. We don’t have affiliate status there.   If you want an easier- just-fill-your -shopping-cart without worrying about finding the cheapest version option, we also have an amazon A-store- it's here on our blog, over on the right side.  You know best what best meets your needs.

 So the key tells you some of the places we know of where you can find free versions of the books, and it links to Amazon, and sometimes Christian Book Distributors.  This key, confusing as it may appear upon first light perusal, is your friend, and it will help save you boatloads of money.

Daily and weekly subjects:  Next on the page is a list of subjects under daily and weekly.  At the moment, it looks like this, although we are in the process of streamlining it and making some things more clear:

  The reason for this list is that there are some necessary subjects in a CM education that do not rely on a specific title in our book list, but are still an integral part of a CM education.

 For year 4, we have these things- and if you don't know what any of them mean,   you can search the website (go to our ‘articles’ section), search Miss Mason’s volumes, or ask at the forum:

Penmanship or Copywork (also called transcription in Miss Mason’s books)- there is a right way to do this and a wrong way.

 Math- you choose your own curriculum, but we do offer suggestions on the website.
Foreign language- your choice, but we do offer suggestions on the website.
Latin (I consider this optional, but you should know Charlotte Mason didn't and neither does Auxiliary member Brandy, and both of them are smarter than I)
Musical Instrument Practice- your choice.

Recitation (or memorization) practice should be here, and will be soon. Its absence in year 4 is really just an oversight. It is included in the other years.

Art Appreciation (this is picture study)
Art- this refers to skills such as painting and drawing.  You don't want to omit it even if you think nobody in your family can draw.
Grammar (there's a hint or two as well on what to do for grammar in those years where grammar is taught as a separate topic)
Correspond history readings with a timeline or century book [tl] and map- there are different ways to do this, most families I think just do this one day a week for a few minutes, others may do it every time they read.

Handicrafts-this is meaningful craft work such as sewing, weaving, carving, leatherwork, crochet, carpentry, and so forth. If I can, I prefer implementing this several times a week.
 Music Appreciation, including folksongs and hymns- in my family, singing was a daily activity, not weekly.
Nature Study 
One Life from Plutarch per term (we help you schedule these out over the term)
A Shakespeare play each term (same as above)

You can learn more about these later- right now, just note that you will need to include them in your schedule, although Plutarch and Shakespeare are scheduled for you if you wish to use our optional 36 week schedule.

Finally- the BOOKS!:
 Now we come to the topics where specific books are required. This is what year four has first:

"Bible: This site has many versions. [1]"

 We have here a link to versions of online Bibles, and a footnote to our site.

Important note about our footnotes:  We used footnotes to make the booklists easier to print and less visually cluttered, but some people are used to skipping footnotes.  This is not a good idea for our website.  They really are not the sort of footnotes that you should skip as though they were just extra, unnecessary information only of interest to geeks and nerds (and we love geeks and nerds). Our footnotes are really expansion, additional information you probably need.
For instance, this footnote takes you to this text:

” It is preferable for a child to become accustomed to the language and flow of the King James Version of the Bible, as a familiarity with King James English will make other literature more accessible. Please read Lynn Bruce's article on the King James Version by clicking here. The weekly schedule lists readings taken from J. Paterson Smyth's commentaries, with Old Testament readings focusing on Joshua and the Judges, and New Testament in Mark and the beginning of Acts. (see AO's Bible plan) Charlotte Mason taught both with commentaries, reading the Bible passage first, then narration, then reading the commentary, but Smyth's commentaries may reflect the doctrine of his era and denomination; they are not necessary to follow the Bible schedule. Optional Bible Resources: Timeline; Study questions with maps.” 
You see, if you skip the footnote, you’ve missed what version we officially recommend and why, you’ve missed that we do offer a scheduled reading plan, and you’ve missed the additional optional mapwork for Bible. Our footnotes are important.

Next in year 4 we have:
History: 1700's up to the French and American Revolutions

This Country of Ours, by H.E. Marshall β Δ ($ K) Ω [2]
** *** George Washington's World, by Genevieve Foster ($) [5]

This is from the ‘basic’ version. Had we chosen the detailed version, it would have looked like this:
 This Country of Ours, by H.E. Marshall β Δ ($ K) Ω [2]
** *** George Washington's World, by Genevieve Foster ($) [5] OR The Story of Mankind, by Hendrick Van Loon ($ K) β Δ Ω [3]

Optional: A Child's History of the World, by Virgil Hillyer; An Island Story, by H. E. Marshall β Δ Ω [4]

And then:
History Tales and/or Biography
* Poor Richard, by James Daugherty ($) [6a]
** *** Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution, by Natalie S. Bober ($ K) [7]
Optional:: Trial and Triumph, by Richard Hannula ($ K) [6]

Remember the asterisks denote terms- so Poor Richard is for term one. It is not in the public domain, so the title is not hyperlinked. When you have to buy a text, we only list two places- Amazon or the Christian Books Catalog. We use those because they are readily accessible to all, and we have affiliate links there, but you are free of course to buy a copy anywhere you like, or to check it out from the library or borrow it from a friend. The footnote to this book answers a common question we get about it- the way it ends makes some readers think their book is missing a page. We used the footnotes to  explain why it isn’t missing a page.

Abigail Adams is a book we use in two terms, the second and third (see the asterisks). It’s available for purchase from Amazon in Kindle or hardcopy ($ K). In this case (and for the next book), the footnote explains some caveats or concerns some parents might have, and directs readers to a helpful discussion of those caveats in the forum.

 Whenever the footnote is red, that takes you to an explanation of something we believe some parents would want a heads up about so they can discuss it, or even omit it, as they choose.  We are not your Holy Spirit, and we can't, of course, foresee everything parents will find objectionable.  We also don't see that such warnings are as important as the students get into the upper years.  It's meant as an aid, not a substitute for the parent.

So you finally have all your books.  What are you supposed to do with these books?   How do you use them?

Prepare the Lesson when you can.  See this Parents' Review for some ideas.  Always be sure to link what they are about to read with what they already read- this can be as simple as saying "Where were we?" and letting the child tell you, or reading the last paragraph of the previous reading. Preparation shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

Start Reading. Have your child read them if possible, and you read aloud if the child can't read them yet.  You do this in small increments over time- the more you quit while the child is hungering to finish the story, the more time he will spend thinking about it, dwelling on it, reviewing it, analysing it- without any extra effort on your part, and that's performing his own review and evaluation and assessment!  It's fantastic when this happens, and we don't want to stymie the process by reading larger chunks of material just because the child begs us to keep reading.  I know it's hard.  Be strong.

Immediately after the reading, the child narrates.  That's basically it, although there are many expanded tips and suggestions for parents in the forum and on the website.  None of them will involve creating cut and paste projects, turning the reading into a math problem, making a six foot model of a drawbridge from a mattress box, or studying goat husbandry just because you read Robinson Crusoe.  Charlotte Mason is not a unit study curriculum, and for good reason.

 Now, you can schedule out the readings yourself (divide the number of pages by 12, that's about how much to read in a week, then sort it out by day as best it works for you), or take advantage of our 36 week schedules diligently created by the rock of AO, Leslie Noelani Laurio (Jesus is The ROCK of AO, Leslie is the lower-case-r-rock), it’s up to you.  You will have the best results by using the curriculum as intended, and that means however you choose to schedule them, you schedule the books out so the children are not reading huge chunks of text at one time. Spread the readings out.

 The children should narrate after every reading. If that is sometimes not possible, they should at the very least never know that they will not be narrating until after the reading. The narration is where the children process the material they’ve read, think about it, sift it, analyze it, organize it. It’s not really a negotiable part of a CM education. One of Miss Mason’s students actually explained it by saying “We narrate, and then we know.” They will not truly know the material they do not narrate.  They will also retain far more material and think of it more carefully through narrating than through any other 'project.'  There are ways to vary the narrations and use some creativity with them, even make them hands on.  It’s enough to know at the beginning that narration is basically telling back, but you should take further time to read about it as you are able. You might start here.

Some other odds and ends: 
Copywork, once the child has mastered handwriting or letter formation, is taken from the books he's reading (not his own writings), and is an integral part of the language arts curriculum.

nature study: This is science.  It's about the child observing and drawing conclusions for himself, from real life.  It's foundational for future science. It will help children develop their attention skills, and it will help them appreciate the world their Creator made, and thus, the Creator as well.

Drawing- this, too, will help children learn to observe and really *see*, even if they don't seem to be actually drawing well.  It will also be useful for science later.

For more about the folk songs, picture study, poetry, composer study, hymns, and so forth, look at the left side bar and click on those topics.

Additional helps: You will find much more specific help and can get answers to additional questions in our forums.  We know that many people are intimidated by the forum, so Auxiliary member Naomi has made a couple videos to walk you through it:
the direct links are

I hope this helps.  Should you have any other questions, or other areas of the website you'd like explained, feel free to ask here or on the forum.  We wish you the very best for your upcoming school year!

P.S. You might find the masterbooklist helpful: On the main curriculum page, scroll down to the bottom, or visit here:
There is a a separate tab with all the extra, optional Geography selections for high school. (special thanks to Kathy Livingston)
Be sure to read the notes on each book on the AO Geography page ( since many of the books need parental previewing.