The following offers a brief summary on why Ms Mason included handicrafts, recitations, nature journaling, drawing, and nature walks in her curriculum. Because Spread the Feast Community is meant to provide opportunities to “show and tell” what is being work on at home we have carefully chosen these “subjects” to be the main meals of our gatherings.
We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child’s sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture (Mason, 1925a, p. 309).
For Artist Study (or Picture Study) we follow AO‘s recommendation for the Term/Year. The purpose of this study is to introduce pictures that offer great ideas while expressing human relationships, acts of kindness and love, a sense of authority and obedience, and a connection to the past and present.
Use every chance you get of hearing music…and, by degrees, you will find out that one composer has one sort of thing to say to you, and another speaks other things; these messages of the musicians cannot be put into words, so there is no way of hearing them if we do not train our ear to listen (Mason, 1925b, p. 32).
For Composer Study (or Music Study) we follow AO‘s recommendation for the Term/Year. The purpose of this study is to have the children become familiar with a Composer’s style by listening with attentiveness and making their own observations. The goal is not drill the children on music theory rather have them enjoy and become naturally attuned to classical music.
“…another elemental relationship, which every child should be taught and encouraged to set up, is that of power over material. Every child makes sand castles, mud-pies, paper boats, and he or she should go on to work in clay, wood, brass, iron, leather, dress-stuffs, food-stuffs, furnishing-stuffs. He should be able to make with his hands and should take delight in making.” Charlotte Mason, Vol. 3, p. 80
At “the feast”, each child and mother will be given the opportunity to share whatever handicraft they may be working on at home. In addition a few minutes will be set aside from sharing to explore how various handicrafts are crafted by focusing on one handicraft to study each month.
In her writings Charlotte Mason wisely cautioned against what one may call the ‘dime a dozen’ crafts which often involves cutting paper, gluing random objects together, and coloring of pictures; think about all those arts and craft projects one can find on Pinterest. Miss Mason however, recommended children be occupied with ‘handicrafts’ so they may develop skills while creating beautiful things that are useful and bring blessings to others.
“I hope that my readers will train their children in the art of recitation; in the coming days, more even than in our own will it behoove every educated man and woman to be able to speak effectively in public; and, in learning to recite you learn to speak.” Charlotte Mason
Recitation is to memorize and then recite a poem, hymn, psalm, bible passage, catechism, scene from a book, etc. At each SFC gathering a few minutes will be allotted to anyone who wishes to recite a piece they are working on at home. The gathering is meant to be a safe place for both child and mother to practice the art of speaking in front of others. The length and subject of the recitation is for the child and mother to decide.
“The children keep a dated record of what they see in their nature note-books, which are left to their own management and are not corrected. These note-books are a source of pride and joy, and are freely illustrated by drawings (brushwork) of twig, flower, insect, etc.” (Vol. 3, p. 236)
Each child and mother will have the opportunity to share whatever entry in their nature journal they have sketched or painted during their nature studies at home. A nature journal is simply a recording of 1) what you see 2) where you see it, and 3) any other observations from nature. Journal entries may be embellished with personal notes of the illustrations including poetry or other beautiful language from a hymn, a book, etc.
“Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.” (Vol. 1, p. 42)
During one of our bimonthly gatherings time will be set aside to explore the outdoors as a community. The purpose of exploring together is to not only learn from one another the various ways one can observe their surroundings but to also give God the glory together as we marvel at His wonders in all He has created for our enjoyment.