During my 27 years of homeschooling, nothing has contributed more to our stability and success than the McGuffey Readers.
I am a great promoter of delight-directed learning and I believe it is the only way to allow the God-given genius in each child flourish and take flight. I try and make certain my children have ample time and opportunities to develop the passions which have been placed within there hearts.
However, there has to be a balance. Children need to have tools in their hands in order to read and find information. They also need to be able to communicate what they are learning in order to apply it and share it for the benefit of others.
The McGuffey’s make this process all so easy. They are graduated and systematic. They are interesting and engaging. They are excellent and challenging.
They are especially helpful for struggling readers and work wonderfully with an intense phonics training program.
As a learner progresses, the complexity of sentence structure, excellent vocabulary, and exceptional subject matter make these readers the perfect tool for preparation for college and life-long learning.
There are so many ways these can be used, since they are open-ended and adaptable to almost any learning style or situation.
Personally, I have had great success using these readers with the approaches suggested by Charlotte Mason:
One of the cheapest ways I found to do this has been to grab a 50 cent composition book for each child. For beginning readers, I have plotted out specific places for each category, using a highlighter to help them with penmanship. For the middle-range readers, I have numbered and made spaces for each requirement. Older children who are learning mostly on their own have been given a list of requirements that they have been responsible for completing on their own.
While this method has been affordable and effective, it has also been time-consuming and labor-intensive, especially considering all of the other demands on my time.
This is why it occurred to me to create a series of notebooking pages which would streamline the process and make prep time shorter. Of course, after I had gone to all the trouble creating everything for my own family, I just knew I had to share it with others.
So, here are the pages I created so you can use them for your own children! I am including pages for each stage in the McGuffey learning process. There are areas on these pages for copywork, narration, and dictation.
In keeping with Mason’s ideas that younger learners should not be frustrated with written narration, I have included spaces for drawings instead. A learner can either draw directly on the page in the space provided, or can draw on a separate index card (either standard or large) and glue it in the proper place.
These are not meant to be workbook pages where there is only one “correct” answer and the learner becomes a slave to “fill in the blanks.” While children need structure, they also need to have the room to express the ideas and skills they are gathering as they see fit.
This encourages individual expression and creative thinking. It also helps keep children engaged and enthused as they make each lesson their own.
Don’t use McGuffey’s?
These pages could easily work with almost any reader, or with any novel, short story, or poetry selection, for that matter.
I actually currently have five children using the McGuffey’s, all at different levels. This means I needed to have some system in place so in order to minimize confusion and streamline my preparation process.
First of all, I printed and copied multiple pages for each level and placed them behind dividers in a two-inch, three-ring binder.
Then I put these sheets together in lessons and placed them in the individual binders which I keep for each child. In this way I don’t have to try and search and assemble pages every time.
Here is a video that explains this further:
It is my prayer you will find these a great blessing!
I created these pages with ink conservation in mind. That is why the colors are primarily pink and blue, since the yellow color is the one that is used the most and runs out first. I have also included pages in grayscale to make it easier to print them out using only black ink, which is usually the larger cartridge in a typical printer.
One could conceivably print out a set of sheets and then take them to an office store and have them copied to make it easier on the budget.