Charlotte Mason Homeschooling on a Budget


If you love the process and methods of Charlotte Mason but shrink away from the expense, I have great news for you — it is possible to use Charlotte Mason in your homeschool on a budget! I have gathered some of my favorite tips and resources to show you how to reduce costs but give the education that you desire to your children.

Want to add some frugal Charlotte Mason inspired learning to your homeschool? Check out these great ideas!

Charlotte Mason Homeschooling

There are 3 main themes to Charlotte Mason education and all can be achieved frugally.


Surrounding and immersing your child in a positive learning environment.


Cultivating good habits in your child’s life.


Not just simple, boring, dry facts but living ideas.

Charlotte Mason Resources

You can even find free curriculum online to help you teach –Ambleside Online is an online FREE curriculum guide and book list that follows Charlotte Mason Principles.

Setting up the physical atmosphere

Nature is all around and it is free! Create a collection of nature items on a shelf or table with items you and your child gather — pinecones, leaves, shells, living plants, abandoned birds nests. Add items like a magnifying glass, journal, and sketchbook. If you’re new to nature study, you might want to read this post about Nature Study for Beginners.

Living books

These are a very large part of the Charlotte Mason philosophy. They are written in a more conversational or narrative style than in the style of a textbook or encyclopedia. They make subjects come alive for children rather than dry textbooks. You can find living books at  the library, Goodwill, yard sales, on Ebay, Facebook used curriculum groups, and local curriculum fairs.

Teach Math with Living Books – Use simple beans, buttons, rocks, wooden beads. You do not need a separate expensive curriculum. Choose living books instead of dull textbooks. Buy second hand when you can. I found these at a yard sale:

Math Curse

Math Curse living math book Charlotte Mason homeschooling


Sir Cumference and the First Round Table

Sir Cumference living math book Charlotte Mason homeschooling




We grabbed these wooden math manipulatives that are similar to a Charlotte Mason set at a fraction of the cost:

Charlotte Mason homeschooling wooden rods

Artists and Composers

This can be introduced and studied using books picked up from sources above, print pictures, play music from Youtube or other free sources. The resources available on the internet are nearly limitless, many sites offer free printable field guides, studies, and more. We’ve enjoyed A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers from Bright Ideas Press, which is an affordable hands-on study. You can read my review here.


Spend plenty of time outdoors with your child — studying, observing, journaling, learning, and gathering. There is so much to learn about the world right around them and it costs nothing! Outdoors is a major part of the CM education.

Here are a few Charlotte Mason books for you that are free or cheap on Kindle. {Remember that prices change quickly on Amazon!}

Habits: The Mother’s Secret to Success

Charlotte Mason homeschooling book for moms


The Outdoor Life of Children

Charlotte Mason homeschooling outdoor life


A Twaddle Free Education

Charlotte Mason homeschooling twaddle free book


Do you use Charlotte Mason inspired resources in your homeschool?


Sara (148 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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Your Child Has Special Needs, Too

Your Child Has Special Needs Too

“My kids don’t go to school?”

[silence, mild contemplation]

“Do you homeschool them or something?”

“Well, we don’t use that term….but yeah.”


“My kids have special needs.”

“Oh.” [apologetically]

[end of conversation]

Now, in general I don’t short-circuit the homeschooling conversation like that. I actually very much prefer to go on the offensive until the inquiring party gets defensive and tries to break free!

But I certainly always have that retort in reserve and you are welcome to use my special needs silencer to ward off interrogations yourself.

It’s all aboveboard because as far as I’m concerned, and with all due respect, ALL CHILDREN have special needs.

Yes, many can claim medical and/or psychological distinction (ADHD, dyslexia, Apsergers, autism, etc.) but I submit that all other kids also may especially NEED:

  • To sleep more
  • To be outside more, if not all day
  • To spend copious time in solitude
  • To accelerate their education
  • To be constantly moving (i.e. can’t sit all day long!)
  • To read a ton
  • To be around their family a lot
  • To have vast creative space for art/music/dance
  • Etc.

I’m always talking to parents who are upset and frustrated that their kids can’t sit still in school, can’t focus on the assigned tasks, and are being strongly advised to medicate…

The first thing I do is try to flip their moods around.

I say that the fact that their child has energy and is self-directed is a HUGE POSITIVE for their long-term development. I point out that some of the most successful people ever to walk the earth have shared those same gifts.

And I assert that if their child was doing well in school. If they could competently sit for hours on end, blindly take orders and jump through hoops….if they were unstirred by any internal passions then they would have a MUCH BIGGER PROBLEM on their hands.

The fact is, all children, including yours, have prodigious latent talent, gifts, and energy bottled up inside them.

And if they (and you) aren’t aware of them…

Well they aren’t in an environment or on a plan to unlock their full-potential.

If you don’t take steps, SOON, to drastically change the situation….there will be unpleasant long-term consequences, painful side effects all-around, i.e. for them AND you.

Jim Rohn has famously said, “Potential underutilized leads to pain.”

I know I can attest to that personally and I bet you can, too.


Dan (22 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at

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Unexpected Lessons from the Life of Fred Math Books


We’ve been using Life of Fred math books in our homeschool for about 7 months now. We’re using the Pre-Algebra series with my 8th grader and the elementary series for my kindergartner and second grader. They love it! The stories are engaging. For kids who love to read, but aren’t so crazy about math, this is the ideal combination.

Unexpected lessons we've learned in our homeschool from the Life of Fred math books.

Life Of Fred is like no other math program out there. This math book series is known for weaving math concepts into exciting stories about a 5-year-old math genius. The author has tossed in valuable lessons that kids wouldn’t typically find in a math textbook.

Many of Fred’s readers will say that these books are very fun to read. But why? Here’s what one homeschooler says about the books:

“Even if the math concepts are a review, your kids will enjoy learning about the zany extras in each book. My son still enjoys saying toenail in German. That’s an additional important life skill if I say so myself.  😉” -Jamerrill,

It’s true that the Fred books are full of unexpected lessons beyond math concepts. Here are a few of our favorite unexpected lessons from the Life of Fred Elementary Math Series.

Unexpected Lesson #1

In the Life of Fred Butterflies book, students will learn linear measurements, time, geometry, and specific numbers!

In Chapter Nineteen of Butterflies, “Mysteries of Life,” Fred and his buddy Kingie receive a pizza delivery. Kingie proceeds to chomp down his half of the pizza (Kingie says he is so hungry because “being an artist is hard work”). But Fred takes a moment to set the table while the pizza cools off. He shows the reader how to set a table:

Place mat goes down first.
Then the plate and the napkin.
Then the fork on top of the napkin.
Knife and spoon on the right with the knife next to the plate.
The cup above the knife.

life of fred excerpt

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One page later, your child receives practice sheets for addition and subtraction!

Unexpected Lesson #2

In the Edgewood book, students work with concurrent lines, the commutative law of addition, touch on quadrilateral shapes, and more! The materials covered in this 128-page book are parallel lines, right angles, functions, quarter of an hour, half dozen, six examples of functions, math poems, the four kinds of sentences, firearm safety & more!

In Chapter Fourteen, “Food and Warmth,” your student reviews how to calculate half of a number, measurement of distance, counting calories in a meal, and the phases of the moon. Fred’s bus breaks down outside of town, and he was determined to run to town to get help. It was 6 p.m., and Fred did not want to run in the dark.

Maybe there will be a full moon, Fred thought. Then there would be enough light to keep on running.


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In the next chapter of Edgewood, Fred explains the meaning of voluntary and involuntary actions. How does he fit all of these lessons together to create a funny math story? You just have to read the book and find out!!

Unexpected Lesson #3

In the Honey book, students work on fun math activities with Fred as he goes through fractions, multiplication facts, unit conversions and more! Perhaps your child hasn’t thought about starting their own business yet, but it’s never too soon to spark the idea to become an entrepreneur. In Chapter Fourteen, “Starting a Business,” Kingie puts on his businessman hat. (Fun Fact: Kingie sells his own art.) Kingie explains the risks of starting your own business. He then goes over the “Checklist for Starting a Business” with Fred.


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At the end of the chapter, the reader is asked to check Fred’s business calculations. Will his business be profitable? Later in the book, Fred continues to follow his dream of becoming an apiarist. (Yes, the book explains what an apiarist is too!)

More about the Life of Fred Elementary Math Series:

Buyer's Guide Life of Fred Blog Post

Who is it for? Kindergarten to 4th grade

Concepts covered: time, types of numbers, geometry, measurement, facts about stars, morse code, geography, adjectives & verbs, patterns, functions, sheet music, seven wonders of the world, math poems, percents, numbers vs. numerals, division, slope of a line, graphing, notation, the improper use of seat belts, how to prove you are not a duck, reducing fractions, and so much more.

Titles in this series: Apples, Butterflies, Cats, Dogs, Edgewood, Farming, Goldfish, Honey, Ice Cream, Jelly Beans

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What unexpected lessons have you learned in your homeschool lately?


Sara (148 Posts)

I'm a reader, writer, dreamer, wife, and homeschooling mom of 3 girls. We take a relaxed, eclectic, Charlotte Mason-leaning, Montessori-ish, literature-rich, delight-directed, almost unschooling-at-times approach to learning. Lots of unit studies, field trips, and lapbooks, too. I like to blog about our learning adventures (plus faith and encouragement) at Embracing Destiny.

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