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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Charlotte Mason Says: Handiwork (Rainbow Yarn Jars)

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we use the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling while incorporating Waldorf techniques.  Lately I have been thinking about the direction our weekly rhythm needs to go in the realm of handicraft.  Charlotte Mason encouraged educators to teach children a useful craft or skill, not simply tom make quick projects that would end up in the trash in a few weeks.  During this, my first year of homeschooling, I have found so many tempting quick crafts to supplement our lessons, and while some have turned out to be useful for other lessons or treasured seasonal decorations, many were discarded after a few weeks of hanging on the fridge. 

Charlotte Mason wanted students to learn something more meaningful than a quick craft - a  life skill.  Waldorf education hits this right on with elementary-aged children learning watercolor painting and knitting.  We are going to move in this direction by turning our handiwork time toward useful, and therefor, treasured results and then move more toward a life skill that the boys will carry with them as they grow to be men. With this in mind, I am ready to whip out the knitting needles or woodworking tools, but I pull back in mind of what Charlotte Mason says, "No work should be given to a child that he cannot execute perfectly, and then perfection should be required from him as a matter of course." and, "The points to be borne in mind in children's handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children's work should be kept well within their compass."

 We practice this "perfection" in copywork lessons, but in handiwork, not so much.  I tend to give my boys handiwork that could take up to an hour to complete, but find that at times they become frustrated because I have not taken the time to show them how to do it properly or they grow weary of the project and their works gets sloppy.  So today we are starting a new project and I will take time to show them how to do it, although it is quite easy, but maybe not for little hands. I will also allow them several days to complete their project. And the project will be of use to our family: Yarn Jars - just what we need to organize homeschool supplies and brighten our learning space. (Inspired by Donni at The Magic Onion.)

1. Pick out colorful yarn.
2. Stick 3 vertical strips of double-sided tape down the jar about 1 inch apart
3. Wrap the yarn around and around.
4. Spend about 10 minutes a day wrapping the yarn until done. 
     Use double-sided tape to hold the the ends of the yarn on the jar.

Here are a few links to other thoughts on Charlotte Mason and Handiwork:
Handicraft becoming Life Skills

What are you and your children doing for useful handicraft?  I would love to know. (Feel free to leave a link to a pinterest board or blog post of your own useful crafts in the comments section.)


  1. Hi :) Where can I find out more about the Charlotte Mason Method? I am a big believer in useful handicrafts too!

  2. Amie, here are links to the 2 places where I get most of my Charlotte Mason information/inspiration:



    I get some of my curriculum from: https://www.queenshomeschooling.com/

    Also, Charlotte Mason wrote a 6 volume education/child development series of books found here: http://www.amblesideonline.org/CM/#1

  3. Thank you for sharing this! I've been investigating the Charlotte Mason Method as well and appreciate the additional resources in comments as well as your post. How do you feel about using Charlotte Mason for math? It's my only uncomfortable place with using that method right now.....I book marked your list of sites....Thanks!

  4. My son really struggles with math, so we use a combination of methods. For fun we read Life of Fred and play the games in the book Family Math. For daily practice we use a wonderful workbook by Silver Burdett & Ginn call Mathematics Exploring Your World - it is colorful and teaches in a way my son can learn easily and does not have too many problems per page. To teach concepts, I use Waldorf stories and little black pebbles as manipulatives. We also do 2 minute timed drills and play a game with flash cards to evaluate how his knowledge of math facts are progressing. I am going to a huge homeschool conference in May and will explore more math options there. I will be posting more about Charlotte Mason education in the future. If you have any specific topics you would like me to address, just let me know.

  5. This is wonderful and easy to set up. I bet my oldest would love this as a project. Thanks!

  6. Great project and we are always losing pens, so some colourful pen pots will be so useful!

  7. We have school supply bags for our drawing/writing things. I can imagine other uses like storing coins, vase for flowers, etc.

    My daughter is knitting a blanket for her baby dolls and she does watercolor (as an art class and in her nature notebook). I am in between yarn work projects and need to find something!

    I love this craft: simple, easy (but works on attentiveness), and beautiful. Another way to put scrap yarn to good use, too.

  8. Do you know I've been called a pushy parent- but actually I think this method sums me up - off to read more about it. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Visiting from Brighton Park. My Family-Focused Monday hop is live now and I would love to see one of your awesome posts linked up @ www.mondaykidcorner.blogspot.com.

    Have a terrific week.


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