Topic | Need help creating CM curriculum

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  • jusNanc

    I’ve been purusing the SCM site for a while now but still hv some questions. I’ve played around w the curriculum guide and it seems to be a great resource, but…

    I want to use the books I have available in my home library. Our public library is almost useless in that it gets rid of the good stuff (aka living books, books with strong morals or ethics, etc) in favor of trendy titles that follow movies and shows and other such mindless entertainment. In trying to figure out how to make selections across all subject areas w effort towards a well rounded education, I hv tried to analyze what rhyme, reason, or method SCM used to come up w their choices for each grade level and subject area. I’ve been unable to figure that out and as a result unable to replicate it using my own materials. Can anyone shed any light on this, or else direct me on how I might go about this process? TIA


    I will look at the SCM guides for suggestions but basically piece together my own things. Are you looking to buy books or use ones you already own? How old are your kids and what time period are you wanting to study? I use the Truthquest guides to find books (they are expensive though) and have also used Heritage History. The latter has lots of ebooks available.



    Sigh, pretty sure my reply ended up in the Spam trap because I linked to two areas of the SCM website.  Hopefully the SCM will rescue it soon!



    My children are 10 years, almost 8 yrs, and 15 months. I’ve looked at the sample Gen through Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt Bible\Hist\Geo. I’ve not been real impressed but I think that’s bc we’ve been kind of stuck on Gen and Exodus every time we’ve tried to pick up either history or world view curricula during the past few years. The past two years we’ve done very little outside of the three r’s, and little of that too, due to a high risk pregnancy and baby w health problems. I think we’ve finally gotten our feet under us and so we’re trying to get back in the saddle again. I think it’s just going to take some discipline on my part for us to plow on through what we’ve already covered, though maybe at a quicker pace, so that we can get to something that will catch our interest once again. I thing it’s of utmost importance to take a chronological and living approach to history, and that a review isn’t a bad thing. I just want to get to some new material already!

    I don’t mind buying books, esp if I can find them use and deeply discounted. My children and I much prefer paper over ebooks but a few ebooks in the mix won’t hurt. I’d like to use what I have as much as possible, but realize I most likely will need to find or buy quiet a bit. Any advice on how to use Amazon to get the best deals? We hv a Prime membership but it looks like a lot of the used books don’t qualify for Prime. So even if I find the book for a penny, shipping is still $4 or so and shipping must be paid to each vendor I purchase from. Is there a smarter way? $4 per book adds up quickly. My husband is self employed and things have all but ground to a halt which means we hv an extremely tight budget.

    I guess I’m mainly asking about books for literature. History seems fairly easy to find books for…pick a time period and walk through it. I had wanted to build my curriculul for the year around an outdoor\survival\self-sufficientcy theme. I had thought we might study edible “weeds” that might be found in our yard, how to find safe drinking water, find or build a shelter, read books such as Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, My Side of the Mountain, efficient methods of gardening and irrigation, etc. I’m not sure that this is realistic w a baby w health problems and a momma that can’t tolerate heat for very long. I’m not sure this is going to lead to a well rounded education though many of these things are good life skills to be able to draw from. We are not preppers and this would be quiet an undertaking. What do you think?

    If I don’t go the outdoor theme route, how do I pick literature to insure my children of a well rounded education? For instance, do I need some humorous, serious, contemplative, mysteries, how-to’s…?

    As far as cost, I will also need to add poetry (public library will still hv this, I bet), hymn study (not bc CM did it but bc I’m not good at straight memorization and the old hymns are what hv taught me Biblical truths and docterines that hv stuck w me when I couldn’t recall more than the idea of a particular scripture passage. Music speaks louder and goes deeper than mere words for me.), art, picture study, handicrafts, life skills, personal development, music\composer study, Shakespeare, and foriegn language. I do not intend to do all this at once but maybe pick just a few of the electives to do each term, both for costs sake, sanity and time. If you hv ideas on how to incorporate these on the cheap, I’m interested. I read somewhere that you can use calendars for picture study. The library should hv Shakespeare. We hv Rosetta Stone for Spanish, though my girls are not thrilled w it. Personal development happens as I go about my day instructing my children in various disciplines (behavior, chores, etc). That leaves music\composer study, handicrafts, and art. Any insights on this? Have I missed anything (conceptually)?



    Thank you for taking the time to reply. I look forward to reading your post when SCM retreives it and places it where it was intended to go.


    Hello Jusnanc.

    Wow, it is quite an undertaking to develop our own curriculum, isn’t it?  It can make you feel all in a tizz when you see all the choices, but yet are wanting to incorporate what you have on hand.  I have tried it so many times, and do to an extent create my own curriculum.

    As I see it, the SCM curriculum guide and book suggestions, can be treated like a buffet, you do not have to use all or any of their suggestions.  I love that someone else has worked it all out for me, but I do tweak a book here and there, as it’s sometimes hard to source things here in South Africa, and oh, do I hear you about the library…. must be a world wide move!  Lastly of course, if I have a related resource, I want to use it.

    It sounds as though you have your hands full.  As a Mom who suffers from various illnesses and sometimes has to do school in bed, I would caution you to remember that less is sometimes more.  I too feel as if we spent years going over creation and ancient history, stopping and starting, and feel we’ve only just got onto other interesting topics.  My oldest is 13yo!

    Many of the CM style curricula and unit studies seem to center their studies on a period of history.  It is a nice way to plan, but you do not have to do it that way, if you want to spend some time studying smething else as you suggested.

    CM is a method, not a curriculum.  And whilst there are some common choices of books amongst the various Cm curriculum “companies”, the fact is, there are so many great living books, especially old ones, that you don’t have to feel bound to use one companies list.

    I so appreciate that SCM is a free curriculum guide.  Other places you may consider looking is Ambleside, or An Old Fashioned Education.

    I think SCM is best, because it is doable, and it taught me that less is actually better, and I can do it, even with ill health.  It is easy to follow, the “overview” helps you see where you are going and it is not cluttered with tons of unreasonable, unnecessary activities.  If I want to add to it, on good days when I have energy, I can.

    I think there is a very helpful free printout for planning your CM education somewhere on this site.  It was a life saver for me.  I also ended up buying some of the SCM booklets, very useful.  It helped me plan not just one year, but to get a vision, so I did not end up with the previous repetition.

    I really hope this helps.  Please take care and remember that although some living books and curriculum are better than others, they are not what will make your homeschool. They are just tools.

    Lastly, I cannot advise about Amazon, as I live in SA, we can’t use it for shipping is too expensive.  I go to garage sales and jumble sales and pick up real gems! Have you considered homeschool classifieds, vegsource, Exodus books or betterworld books?  They seem reasonable if you live in the US, if I am not mistaken.




    What you need is to read this series of six articles by SCM on planning OR even better, pick up their Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education book or book and dvd combo.  It expands on that article series. They hold your hand through the process of how to take what you own and organize it into a cohesive plan.

    And we can always chat here too – but read their article series first, I bet you will find many of your questions answered as you do.

    Melissa Wolfe


    For finding reasonably priced books, when I lived in town, I would periodically scan the offerings at thrift stores or library sales. Occasionally garage sales. These are some of the cheapest sources (I have loved finding treasures in places like these!), but take time and are not very helpful when you’re looking for a particular title. Those have been especially beneficial to me for finding literature and a variety of non-fiction books for reference.

    Now that I am rural, I primarily rely on sources online for books. My favorite, hands-down, is Thriftbooks. I found out about them when I ordered a used book from them via Amazon, had a fantastic customer service experience from an issue with that order, and decided to order from them directly.  They draw from a network of used booksellers, and all their prices include shipping (as long as your order is at least $10). Many of their books are still in the $3.50 range, but they often run sales (such as buy 3 (or 4) get one free, or a certain % off if you’re buying several books or more), and now they have a rewards program, where you get a credit for $5 for every $50 you spend (doesn’t have to be all at once; they keep track of it if you have an account — which is free to set up). You can keep books in your cart quite awhile, so if you aren’t in a hurry for those, you can build up your cart until the next sale.

    I have found tons of books I was looking for there. You can also keep a wish list, which is esp. nice for books which are currently out of stock but they send you an email if it becomes available.

    When a search comes up empty and I need a book, depending on what book it is I’ll compare between Amazon (I try used first), Rainbow Resource, Scripture Truth (a discount Christian bookstore my husband’s relatives run, that also carries a lot of homeschool and homesteading materials)…or do a google search and see what stores pop up (if it’s particularly obscure).

    Happy book searching!

    Melissa W. 🙂


    True, CM is a method, not a curriculum.  And you should teach the child, not the curriculum.  I follow a lot of catalogs with CM flavor – Sonlight, Heart of Dakota, My Father’s World, and Beautiful Feet Books.  You can also purchase book lists like those available from Truthquest, or All Through the Ages.  SCM has the free Bookfinder you might find helpful.  For SCM recommended resources, use the drop down box to the right.  When I see a book I am interested in, I read the reviews and summary at Amazon to decide if it is right for my family.

    Purchasing books is cheapest at yard sales, friends of the library book sales, and thrift stores.

    When I purchase used online, I always check Amazon first to get an idea of a price and if it is oop (out of print).  Then I check betterworldbooks, where I can get them for about $2.50 each when they have a sale going, but I have to buy 5 or 6 at one time at that price, free shipping.  They have these sales often, sometimes called clearance bin sale.  I also check homeschoolclassifieds, especially for “curriculum” or hot homeschool items.

    I have My Side of the Mountain for sale, and the third book in that series on my blog for $2 each or 6 for $10.  We are downsizing our home library a little.  If interested, my email is a yahoo and it is wherelearningabounds.


    A few quick thoughts having read your second comment with more details:

    1. It sounds like you have a full plate with the medical issues added in.  I don’t know what issues you’ve got going on but I wanted to encourage you that you can do this!  Since you’re new I’ll introduce myself as briefly as I can.  We’ve always homeschooled.  My oldest just turned 14, my youngest is 1, and I’m pregnant with my 9th child (13th pregnancy in 15 years).  My 7th child has major medical needs.  He is 3 years old and in his first two years had 14 surgeries, half of which were brain surgeries.  (He has Spina Bifida, hydrocephalus, and more.)  He has had literally hundreds of medical appointments in his 3 years.  Homeschooling has been a blessing to our whole family, especially the flexibility to use living books and the understanding that “Less is More”.  I don’t have to teach every single fact, I only need to help my children love learning and understand how to learn.  I offer a feast of living ideas and they soak up and explore to their hearts’ content.

    2. If you’ve done ancients multiple times already then don’t start there!!!  Let it go and choose a different time period.  Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation?  Early Modern?  It is okay to start somewhere other than the beginning.

    3. Buying books – buy what you really want and substitute where you can.  So, if I were choosing which books to buy for history, I would choose books that we would be reading for longer times (chapter books) over picture books or shorter books.  Then I would grab whatever picture, nonfiction, or shorter books on the topic that I could from my library, knowing that I may not get the exact title but that if it is still about the topic we’ll be fine.  There are hundreds of books about the American Revolution, for example, and while ideally I would have the exact books listed on a curriculum plan, in real life many of those books would work for the same purpose – to introduce my children to the American Revolution in a memorable story or living way.

    4. If you don’t go with your outdoor theme how would you choose literature?  Browse some book lists and just pick!  SCM has good recommendations, as do many other places.  You can even get books like Read for the Heart or Honey for a Child’s Heart from the library to read book suggestions.  Choose a few books – just a few!  Then if you make it through all of those before your year is up feel free to choose another book, and another.

    5. One tip to go with the literature read alouds for the busy momma – consider using audio books sometimes.  While I would love to read aloud every book to my children sometimes I can’t.  I don’t have time or I get a cold and cough that lasts two months (true story!  NOT helpful when we read aloud so much…lol).  Audio CDs from the library or audio book downloads from Audible are worth their weight in gold sometimes.


    This is so true for audiobooks, and certain educational videos.  This past year, I have done read alouds only once per day.  We use audiobooks in the van and at bedtime.  And my children have become pretty good readers on their own now, tackling many chapter books, some 300 pages.  I have always believed in “Learn to read…Read to learn.”

    It is good to make use of your library where you can.  But if you take a look at the book lists and catalogs, you can begin to get a good feeling for what a good, living book is compared to twaddle you want to avoid.  Then you can decide which books at your library will work best for a CM education for your family.

    I agree with Tristan that I would do the next history time period that you’ve never yet covered.  Skip the Ancients, especially if enthusiasm is lacking there.

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