Posted by: angiefm | February 4, 2009

Booklists – Nathalie's (3 to 4 year-old)

The long-overdue booklist for my little just-turned-4-year-old.  😀

Nathalie was born on 31st December, so this list reflects both the materials we used when she was 3 as well as those she is going to use for the rest of the year before she turns 5.


Reading is much emphasised in our home.  It is one of those must-have skills, but the teaching of it has to be handled carefully because what you want to grow is an INSPIRED and ENGAGED reader, and not a reluctant one who can read, but doesn’t want to.  (I have seen too many children in this latter category and it is very sad.)

Not much space to wax lyrical about the joys of reading here, but it would be atypical of me not to have something philosophical to say anyway.  *grin*  Afterall, a booklist is just that.  A booklist.  It is how the curriculum and books are used that makes all the difference.

Charlotte Mason’s motto for parents is noteworthy here: “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life“.  I will write more about this at a later time, but if you want to read more about it now, i highly recommend looking up this FREE ebook from  So the question is, have you created an atmosphere in your home for reading?  Do YOU as a parent/care-giver read?

Teaching to Read

A longer version of this will be in a separate post, but in a nutshell, Alethea was taught the basic phonic sounds using the Letterland programme, but after that she somehow managed to teach herself to read.  Tim started off with Letterland, then moved on to Reading Made Easy

With Nathalie, we did something different.  Since I had been asked by a number of homeschooling families to bring in the Explode the Code curriculum, I decided that I should at least use it with one child so I can endorse it … or not … as the case may be.


And I certainly can!  We started with the Explode the Code Wall Chart, then moved on to the Primers (because Nathalie desperately wanted to join her older siblings at the table doing “school”) and we are now doing Explode the Code Book 1 which covers the short vowel sounds.  And my baby is reading!  🙂  Ah … so satisfying …

Reading Made Easy on CD

BUT … I’m a little impatient with the slow pace of Explode the Code.  I have to admit it’s thorough.  🙂  But to take an entire book to learn 5 short vowels is proving a little too slow for me.  Our two older ones learnt much faster.  So in a couple of weeks, I’m going to start her on Reading Made Easy.  But she LOVES Explode the Code and it is giving her much needed practice and also it keeps her at the table with the other two with work that she can do largely independently, so we’ll still continue with it. 

Impatient lah.  🙂


Volume 1Right now Nathalie is sitting in on our family Bible reading sessions during which we read from NIV Narrated Bible.  Of course she doesn’t get as much out of it as the other two, but I am struggling to fit another Bible reading in from a children’s Bible right now, so we’ll leave it this way for now.  She also participates in our Scripture memory sessions and sings hymns with us.

I remember visiting a homeschool mom of 8 a couple of years ago and was amazed that their youngest, a 4-year old sat alongside their other children when their father read the Bible and shared from it for morning devotions.  So I figured we’ll just give it a shot.  🙂

So if you are wondering what to do for your own child, I suggest reading this post instead.

 But we did get her the Steve Green CD/DVD sets for his Hide ’em in Your Heart Scripture memory songs.  And she loves them.  Er … so do her brother and sister.  🙂

Math and Thinking Skills

Building Thinking Skills - Beginning (Ages 3 - 4)We completed Building Thinking Skills – Beginning before Nathalie turned 4, but I felt the jump to the next level, Primary (which is meant for grades K to 1), was too big, so decided to work on Mathematical Reasoning Level A instead.

[When Nat was 3, we did First Step to Building Thinking Skills which is from the same series.  This one was a lot of fun also because it came with various manipulatives like a small geoboard and rubberbands, cards with pictures of bunnies and houses on them, etc.]

I really like the Critical Thinking curriculum.  They are so well planned, and COLOURFUL and challenging but fun.  KWIM?  They are a bit expensive, but I have found that at least at Nathalie’s levels, I have been able to have her NOT write in the book, so that Baby #4 can use it in a few years from now.  At the higher levels (Alethea is doing Building Thinking Skills Level 2 now), it is unfortunately consumable.

We are also supposed to be doing Right Start Math Level A, but I’m honestly having difficulty fitting all 3 of my children into our schedule using this parent-intensive-but-oh-so-good curriculum.  So this has been put on hold for now.


Are You a Snail? We have been reading the “Are You A …” series by Judy Allen which introduces children to creatures like spiders, ants, butterflies, snails, etc.  I have to admit I learnt SO MUCH from this series even though it is written at such a simple and conversational level.

This year we are also reading “Why?: The Best Ever Question and Answer Book about Nature, Science, and the World Around You“.  With the older ones, we tried some of the Usborne books, but they didn’t agree with my children.  🙂  Alethea especially never took to the types of books which present snippets of information in one or two sentences.  But I know some children who really enjoy them, so you will have to just figure out what works by trial and error.

Picture Books

Our feature authors for this year for Nathalie are:

  • Shirley Hughes – we ALL love her books
  • Beatrix Potter – a bit of a stretch right now, but we’ll get there.  🙂
  • A.A. Milne – also a stretch, but she is already familiar with these stories from listening to the audio CDs in the car over the last year.
  • Jan Pilgrim

But she stills loves her Sandra Boynton!  🙂

In addition, we are reading through the Five In A Row books, but without the formality of following the curriculum recommendations set out in the manuals.  Honestly, who can think of formality for a 4-year old when there are older ones in the family?

Art and Craft

Nathalie has her own set of Klutz kits to work on on her own.  You can find some of them HERE.  Her favourites are Amazing Lacing and Fun with Felt.  We should be getting a few more for her.  In particular I’m eyeing Hand Art and Short Stuffs.  The temptation to buy new books is terrible when you LIVE in a bookshop.  🙂

We have also revived our Child-Sized Masterpieces programme which she enjoys very much.

In addition, she participates in our Artistic Pursuits art sessions and amazingly is holding her own!


See our earlier post HERE.

Other Stuff

Because Nathalie is our 3rd child and younger sibling to two voracious readers, she just tags along with their reading/learning.  For example, we just finished listening to the entire Narnia collection on Audio CD (fabulous, by the way) during our many weekend car rides with Daddy.  And of course she didn’t grasp very much, but she certainly didn’t come away empty-handed either. 

It is the same with everything else that we do – she listens to the same CDs for composer study, she does picture study along with the other two, and she listens in on all their readings, sitting quietly (usually) and drawing or doing some other such activity or playing with her dolls.


  1. Hi Angie
    Thank you so much for sharing. I really looked forward to your every post because I learn so much from you. I really wish I am in your homeschool.

    I need some advice from you, though I’m sure you don’t have such problems with your kids. But from your vast reading and knowledge of CM, would you be able to advise me or refer me to materials which can help a poor speller? My son reads reasonably ok but has no clue on how to spell. It amazes me because I thought reading and spelling go together. I would like to help him to overcome this. Appreciate your advice on this subject.

    Of course would love your sharing on various aspects of CM, like narration and copywork and dictation in your HS.

    God Bless and Happy Lunar New Year


    • Hi there Alice,

      Glad you’re enjoying my long-winded posts! 😀

      About spelling – Charlotte Mason advocated “whole-word” spelling. So a child is supposed to look at it, then be able to close his eyes and visualise the WHOLE word before attempting to spell it. Of course in our day and age and focus on phonics, we combine that in our copywork lessons so it works something like this …

      Today Tim’s copywork passage was “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” So we talked about how the words are spelt. “Rise” and “wise” are spelt with s’s that sound like z’s. So rise sounds like RIZE but is spelt with an S. “Healthy” and “wealthy” are both phonetically spelt words, but it is complicated to explain the digraphs, blends, etc that go in it. So we treat it like a sight word. So I got Tim to visualise the words, then spell it back to me before he wrote it.

      I have found that poor spellers are often children/adults who have already internalised the wrong spelling. So for example, if your son has already spelt, say “pretty” as “pritty”, it will be more difficult for him to spell it right the next time, because he has already seen the word wrongly spelt. So in our home, we don’t allow “creative spelling” which I know many preschools encourage in the name of not stiffling creativity and creative writing. If a child is not absolutely sure how to spell a word, they have to come to me to ask. In the same way, I sit with them through their copywork sessions (only 10 to 15 mins max) and make sure that neither is making any mistakes, like forgetting a second T in forgetting. 🙂 As soon as I see a mistake coming on, I stop them and have them look at the word again before continuing. Sound tedious, but I have two very good spellers to show for it, so I believe the effort is well worth it.

      For more tips on how to do copywork so that they become good spellers, check out the sample pages of Spelling Wisdom from the site. It describes how to go about doing this CM-style.

      I hope that helps some.


  2. Love this post… just what I needed. Khadeeja is the sort who won’t be pressured and if she feels she can’t handle something goes into baby/clown mode. I’ve been working on her and I think she will give it a shot. So far it has been reading, reading, reading (she ADORES Shirley Hughes and Beatrix Potter too!!!). We’d love to see her more challenged so I think you can expect a “Stockpiling for Pakistan Part 2”!

  3. Hi Angie,

    I’m still thinking about homeschooling and I’m really benefitting from your experience. Thanks so much for sharing.

    The link you provided to Right Start Math doesn’t seem to load, if I’m not mistaken. I would be grateful if you could direct me to the curriculum. Many thanks!

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