Author Archives: classicalfun

Free Friday

Memorial Day is Monday so we have long weekend.  Don’t forget to be “Free by 5.”  Free yourself and your family of distractions by 5 o’clock and spend time together. Tonight, Avila Beach hosts a Farmer’s Market on the pier.  Tomorrow, there is an Antique Gasoline and Engine show in Cayucos.  Arroyo Grande hosts their annual Strawberry Festival Saturday and Sunday.  Enjoy your weekend.


Charlotte Mason Series: {Part 2}

This is Part 2 in our series. Click here for the Introduction and Part 1.

The Charlotte Mason Method

Last week, we looked briefly at Charlotte Mason’s beginnings and where her philosophies originated. This week, we are examining the Charlotte Mason method, which can be defined as “A method of education popular with homeschoolers in which children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits.”

She believed education was an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life, with each of these categories making up one-third of a child’s education.  By “atmosphere,” Mason meant the home environment.  She believed that children absorb a lot from the surroundings in which they grow up.  The ideas that rule the lives of parents, will profoundly impact their children.

Mason emphasized the importance of training children in good habits, with habits that will serve them well as they grow. This is what she meant by “discipline.”  She likened good habits to railroad tracks that parents lay down to enable a child to travel smoothly into adult life.  She believed good habits, especially habits of character, to have such a powerful influence on children that she made them an important part of education.

The other one-third of education, she termed, “life” and meant academics.  Mason believed in living ideas and not just the presentation of dry facts.  Her methods for teaching various subjects are centered around this principle, and also important to note, academics is only one-third of her whole idea of education.

Mason believed these three ideas presented a well-balanced approach to education.  Come back next week as we look more closely at her methods.  Many of them will be recognizable to you.


One-Pot Pasta with Broccoli and Bacon


One-Pot Pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Bacon

Everyday Food, serves 4

There is just something about pasta. It’s quick, delicious, versatile and appeals to the masses.  There’s something even better about a pasta recipe that has vegetables already in it.  If you’d like to make this recipe vegetarian, substitute 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the bacon.  Don’t have any broccoli rabe? (Broccoli rabe, also know as rapini, is actually related to turnips and not broccoli.)  Use broccoli cut into smallish pieces or spinach instead.


salt and pepper

1 lb. short pasta, such as rotini or fusilli

1 bunch of broccoli rabe or broccoli, cut into 2-inch pieces

4 slices of bacon cut into 1/4″ pieces,

1/3 c walnuts, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

Parmesan cheese, optional

1.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Add the broccoli rabe or broccoli 2 minutes before the pasta is finished cooking. (If you like your vegetables softer, cook for a longer time.)  Reserve 1/2 c of the pasta water; drain pasta and veggies and set aside.

2. Add bacon to the pasta pot and cook over medium-high heat until some of the fat has started to liquefy. (If using olive oil, heat your olive oil.)   Add the chopped walnuts and cook until the nuts are toasted and the bacon is crispy, 3 minutes.  Add the garlic (may use sliced garlic if you like) and cook for 1 minute.

3.  Add the pasta mixture.  Mix until all ingredients are combined, adding enough reserved pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats the pasta.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Hopscotch Math

Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.

–Carl Sandburg, “Arithmetic”

Some days, math indeed feels like this.  For the younger student, number recognition and learning math facts can seem like a chore.  The good thing is, challenges force us to be creative and look for other ways to accomplish the same goal.  Instead of using the flash cards, why not go outside and play hopscotch?  For the beginner, what a fun way to learn number recognition. Draw your hopscotch with as many or as few numbers as you wish. Call out a number and have your student stop at the right one.  Working on math facts? Call out addition, subtraction, multiplication or division problems and have your student stop on the answer.  This activity is a great way to work with several kids at once who are at differing levels. Plus, it’s just plain fun!

Magical Moment Monday

Don’t forget it’s Spirit Week. Wednesday and Thursday are dress-up days–dress your kids circa the 1980’s. Let’s revisit all those “magical” moments from our own childhood and teach our children how to peg their pants, use Aqua Net on their bangs, and how to break dance in parachute pants. Long live the ’80s!  Definitely a classical era.

Free Friday

It’s Friday–time to unwind, relax and recharge.  What better way to do that than by spending time together as a family?  Don’t forget to be free by 5–free of electronics and other distractions.  The weather has cleared up so why not head to the park and play baseball or volleyball?   Rutiz Family Farms has u-pick strawberries right now. Their farm stand is open Tuesday and Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-3.  Why not shop for farm fresh ingredients and then go home and prepare a delicious meal together?  Whatever activity you choose, enjoy your weekend!

Charlotte Mason Series: {Part 1}

This is Part 1 in our series. For last week’s introduction, click here.

Who was Charlotte Mason?

 Charlotte Mason was born in England in 1842.  She was orphaned at the age of 16 and became trained as a teacher. During her first 10 years of teaching she developed  a vision of “liberal education for all.”  Nineteenth century England educated children according to social class:  poorer children were taught a trade while wealthier children were educated in fine arts and literature. Mason desired a rich curriculum for all children, regardless of class.

For five years, she taught and lectured at a teacher training center (Bishop Otter Teacher Training College).  Her experiences there convinced her that parents would benefit by understanding basic principles of child rearing.  She gave a series of lectures later published as Home Education and it was well-received.

At the age of almost 50, Mason moved to Ambleside, England and formed the House of Education, a training school for governesses and others working with children.  She continued writing and eventually more collections were published:  Parents and Children, School Education, Ourselves, Formation of Character, and A Philosophy of Education.  More schools adopted her philosophies and methods and Ambleside became a teacher training college.

The Charlotte Mason method is based on the ideas that education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.  Join us next week as we explore more about the Charlotte Mason method.