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?



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Sara (325 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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  1. says

    You’ve listed some good resources, Sara! My kids used to check out living math books from the library when they were still in public school (oh so long ago!). Sir Cumference is one that I recall. I don’t think they got through all of the series but they definitely enjoyed them!
    That math manipulative looks great! I might have to add that to my ‘to-buy’ list. We did use Life of Fred for quite awhile but switched in the upper years to something with less of a story line as it was distracting at points. Something about the math in a CM school: She used textbooks not ‘living books’ to actually *teach* math. A great resource to know more of how she did this can be found from Simply Charlotte Mason’s “Mathematics: An Instrument for Living Teaching” handbook and the “Charlotte Mason’s Living Math: A Guided Journey” 2-DVD set. Now that doesn’t mean she didn’t use living books to help kids understand more about math; just not to actually teach it. We have two books that my daughter especially liked to pore over- “Math for Smarty Pants” and “The I Hate Mathematics! Book.” These are good for about 8-12 year olds- but I like them too! 😉
    We **loved** “A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers”! It was perfect to keep us on track with actually including this into our day, or at least once a week. But even if one doesn’t use this, listening to the pieces is so helpful in and of itself.
    For history, another resource readers might be interested in is TruthQuest History.
    An additional title that I’ll add here for those who have young beginning readers is Amy Tuttle’s “Discover Reading.” Although my kids were older and already knew how to read when we began homeschooling, this book would have drastically changed the way I ‘helped’ them learn to read!
    While I think that digital books and resources have their place, personally, I would recommend finding as many real, hold-in-your-hand resources as possible for a relational education (or CM, or living, however you want to term it :) ).
    Again- great list!

    • says

      Thanks for your insight! I consider you our resident Charlotte Mason expert, so it’s good to hear this perspective. We incorporate many Charlotte Mason techniques in our homeschooling and it works well for us. We’re using Life of Fred math for elementary right now, as well as mixing in the Sir Cumference books. I agree that a textbook approach for learning math has been necessary for us, especially now that my oldest daughter is heading toward high school level work.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! :)

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