Charlotte Mason: Composition Grades 4-6

In years 4-6 for Composition and grammar, Miss Mason had her students learn the parts of speech, and do some assigned writing.

The assignments and topics came from their reading, and were in addition to regular oral or sketched narration of all their readings.

The older children (fifth and sixth grade) might be asked to write stories from  Plutarch readings, the fourth graders from The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Young children who couldn’t easily write could narrate orally.

In other terms 4th and 5th graders might be asked to write compositions, or stories, from their readings in Citizenship and Reading, or, from events of the day, etc.
The fourth graders were only asked to write about their literature or stories selections for school, not from other subjects. Those children “who cannot write easily may narrate part.”- so if you have a reluctant writer, you still have him write a little bit, and then finish orally.

In another term’s programme this was listed under composition: Occasional letters with family news.

Miss Mason also encouraged the children to contribute compositions in verse or prose to the Parents Union School magazine.

In the fifth grade, you might begin some specific instruction on certain types of writing- letters, for instance, invitations (both sending and accepting), and the children would write about field trips they’d taken, or vacations (particularly the locations visited), and holidays.  Instruction in this type of writing is extended gradually, over quite some time; the sixth graders are still writing these sorts of things, and still getting a suggestion or two for improvement in small bites over time.  The main thing is steady progress.  This is also true of learning the parts of speech and grammatical skills- more on that in another post.  But the majority of the ‘instruction’ came from their regular reading of excellent books and the practice of copywork and studied dictation.

I find it helpful to look at exams for a given grade, and see what the students were expected to be able to by the end of a term.  You can use these assignments to sort of reverse-engineer a simple approach to writing and composition for a term for you student in the same age group.

Here are some examples from an exam she gave– the students were to choose just two or three of these topics and then write on them:

Describe your favorite scene from The Tempest.
Quote some of your favorite lines from Marmion, or, Horatius.
Tell a story in prose, or verse, about one of the following,–Iduna, Daedalus, Ariel, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid.
Describe a scene in Julius Caesar in which Mark Antony appears.
An account of “The Wedding of a Princess,” or, the Burial of Sir E. Shackleton.
Tell a story in prose or verse about one of the following:–King Arthur, Svartheim, Achilles, Beowulf, King Olaf.
An account, in prose or verse, of one of the following,–the journey of the Price of Wales, the City of Tyre, Ulysses, Odin.
Narrate, in writing or orally, a scene from Coriolanus or from Hereward the Wake.

Here are examples of exam questions from other terms:

Other options for composition assignments in years 4-6:

1. Describe your favorite scene from The Tempest.
2. Quote some of your favorite lines from Marmion, or, Horatius.
3. Tell a story in prose, or verse, about one of the following,–Iduna, Daedalus, Ariel, Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid.

Again, from another term:

1. Describe your favourite scene in Macbeth.
2. Describe the visit of the prince of Wales to one of the Indian cities.
3. Tell a story in prose, or verse, about one of the following,–Baldur, Orion, “Mowgli, “Tom Brown, Lord Roberts, an aeroplane.

And yet another term:

1. Describe a scene in Julius Caesar in which Mark Antony appears.
2. An account of “The Wedding of a Princess,” or, the Burial of Sir E. Shackleton.
3. Tell a story in prose or verse about one of the following:–King Arthur, Svartheim, Achilles, Beowulf, King Olaf.

Composition.
1. An account, in prose or verse (not doggerel), of one of the following,–An autumn day, Camilla, Heimdall.
2. Describe a scene from (a), King John in which Constance appears, or, (b), from The Foresters in which Robin Hood appears.
3. Write about one of the meetings in the desert described in The Talisman, or describe your favourite scene from The Prince and The Page.

While these are exam questions, you could use them as a model for composition assignments during the regular school week- have them write a scene from their Shakespeare play, to describe a favourite scene from a book they are reading, to write about a scientific discovery of the day, or something in the news.

Meanwhile, the children are continuing to be exposed to excellent writing  in their daily copywork and regular dictation work.  When they check their work, they are observing the proper use of capitals, commas, periods, and more in their natural habitat.

They continue foreign language study, which also helps with grammar.

They are reading excellent works, which helps with style.  So really, the only thing that is somewhat new to these grades in composition is that they children are being asked to write some of their narrations, and they have begun some formal grammar instruction.

More about that formal grammar instruction later this week.

 

PREVIOUSLY:

Part I is here
Part II: I think that most people know Charlotte Mason’s methods include no formal curriculum for grammar and composition until middle school. That doesn’t mean, however, that you do nothing. It’s not enough to just skip the language arts workbooks- Charlotte Mason’s methods work best when you focus at least as much on what you and the children are doing instead of formal lessons in gradeschool….

Part III–  (with a printable sheet of Mason’s pre-comp methods)

Here’s the post where I will start really breaking it down piece by piece- beginning with the foundation laid from birth to six, whether there is almost no written work at all, and such paperwork as there is doesn’t begin until six.

Her composition and language arts program really begins back in babyhood, when you play with the baby, spend lots of time outside, sing songs, tell and listen to nursery rhymes and listen to stories.  The nursery rhymes and songs give children early experiences in the flow and rhythm of language.  They allow children to play with words, to connect language play with delight.  They are early helps for reading, since children will become familiar with word families through the rhymes of Mother Goose long before they ever need to know what word families are.

Part IV includes another helpful printable chart, and “Composition” is not taught as a separate subject for many years with the Charlotte Mason approach, but when the children finally are assigned ‘composition’ as a topic, they are not coming to it raw, with no background preparation.  The skills and background experiences children will use for later compositions are woven throughout their activities and reading in their younger years.  Unless the child has a neurological or physical complication, you do not approach good health with the normal five year old by saying, “Okay, junior, today we will work on building up your abs.” You just encourage a wide range of healthy physical play. And that’s the approach Miss Mason takes to writing.  She doesn’t isolate skills and work on them outside of any meaningful context.  she’s speaking of something else when she says not to exhaust them and tire their brains by giving them the wrong kind of work, “the sort of work for which the present state of his mental development does not fit him,” but I think it applies very well to grammar and punctuation lessons for children this young…..

Part V: Upper Years, What Not To Do

Part VI: Composition, Form II (grades 4-6)– learning by doing:

In years 4-6 for Composition and grammar, Miss Mason had her students learn the parts of speech, and do some assigned writing.

The assignments and topics came from their reading, and were in addition to regular oral or sketched narration of all their readings.

The older children (fifth and sixth grade) might be asked to write stories from  Plutarch readings, the fourth graders from The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Young children who couldn’t easily write could narrate orally.

In other terms 4th and 5th graders might be asked to write compositions, or stories, from their readings in Citizenship and Reading, or, from events of the day, etc….

Next

You may also be interested in:

The ‘Umbrella’ Composition Book, Mason’s Horrible Warning

Part VII: Grammar, Form IIB (Grade 4)

Part VIII: Teaching the Parts of Speech– a grammar text Miss Mason used.

Series at a glance- see the linked TOC for the entire series

This entry was posted in Charlotte Mason, Words: Writing, blogging, Wordspotting, etc. and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

2 Comments

  1. Brad
    Posted May 3, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know, I found the information about Charlotte Mason grammar and composition quite helpful. I know it was not easy obtaining and summarizing that information and I thought you should know that I appreciate it greatly! Thank you!

    • Headmistress
      Posted May 6, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Glad it was helpful to you!

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