How to Use The Lesson Book Level Two and Level Three

Last post I proposed a way to use The Lesson Book with beginning readers and writers. This post I would like to show you how I use The Lesson Book  Level Two and Level Three with children who are doing pretty well with sounding out words and sentences, they just need to build their reading vocabulary and develop smoothness and fluidity in reading prose.

Please keep in mind that the first four levels of The Lesson Book each contain only enough pages for 30 lessons. It is very likely that a young child will need more than 30 lessons at this level before he is able to move on to the next level (more like 60 lessons at least).

Then, when he has become very well acquainted with how written language works, he is ready to move onwards and upwards!

As with the First Level, there are a number of ways you could use Level Two and Level Three. One way I would like to propose would be with books easily obtained via a library card or purchased from a bookseller (or found at a garage sale for a mere pittance) which Charlotte Mason dubbed, “living books.” (In case you are wondering just what a “living book” is, you can learn just about anything you want to know in this post.) For these two levels there are two example books to give you a picture of what is meant:

Frog and Toad are Friends

Charlotte’s Web

With these books you will need the following:

  • The Lesson Book, beginning with Level Two, and moving on to Level Three
  • A pen (for writing in words and copywork so that it cannot be erased).
  • Pencils, colored pencils, etc. for writing and drawing


  • Index cards
  • Glue stick

The first thing you will need to do is to decide just how much you want to cover each lesson. There are actually chapters in the Frog and Toad book, so this would be a good way to split these up. If the chapters are long enough, you can split them up into two separate readings.

The next thing to do would be to pull out words from the reading, especially ones you foresee as being potential stumbling blocks.

For the first chapter of Frog and Toad Are Friends I would only be using the first five pages, since this would keep my child from becoming tired and frustrated. Here are the words I would choose:

I would take The Lesson Book and print the words in the spaces provided, like this:

I would then take a sentence or two and print them in the space provided for copywork, like this:

After this initial preparation, I would proceed as follows:

  • I would take this list and help my child to read it aloud. After the initial reading I would point out things such as the “th” at the end of “path,” the silent “k” and “c” in the word, “knocked” and even how the “d” sounds like “t.” I would help him notice the syllables of each word by clapping with the words (a one-syllable word is a one-clap word, a two-syllable word is a two-clap word, and so on).
  • I would have him read the first part of the chapter aloud to me.
  • I would have him copy the words we read.
  • I would have him copy the sentence(s) I wrote out.
  • I would have him draw a picture as a narration (since he is not yet fluent enough to write one) about what he just read.
  • I would have him attempt to write a few original sentences, requiring he use words from his copywork list.
  • I would help him study the copywork until he was confident enough to write it accurately as it was dictated to him.

Although these books are easily adaptable for using living books, my favorite, simplest, most efficient use of these is with the McGuffey readers, specifically the latter half of McGuffey’s First Eclectic Reader (the original version published by Mott Media) and the first half of the McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader (also the original version).

With these I use the same procedures as above, only the words list is already pulled out for me. Here are specific examples:

When is a child ready for the Level Three of The Lesson Book?

Level Three is set up much like Level Two, only the primary guides have been removed and there is more space for composing longer original sentences. You can use The Lesson Book Level Three with the latter part of McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader (original version) if your child is a confident writer and is frustrated with all of the guide lines.

At a certain point (and it’s different for each child) your reader should be able to do most of the work in The Lesson Book on his own.

I have used Charlotte’s Web as a good example of the types of “chapter books” he could be reading for this one. You can assign him work for his living books in this way:

  • You can pull out 20-40 words for him to copy as in Level Two, or you can have him select his own 20-40 words.
  • You can select a specific paragraph for him to copy, or you can have him choose his own.
  • Assign him sentences to compose, making sure he uses words from his list.
  • Have him do an oral narration of what he has read, then draw what he has read.
  • Make sure and help him study his copywork, closing his eyes to spell the words orally and explaining any punctuation and/or grammar he will need to be successful, then give him his dictation.

As for using Level Three with the McGuffey’s, this is when I prefer to switch to the revised versions. This is because the original McGuffey’s  third reader deals with subject matter that is much more morose serious and even a bit boring tedious. The revised third reader, on the other hand, is much lighter and inviting, with stories that are still moral but a more engaging. You can proceed as above, only using the vocabulary list as suggested with each lesson.

As always, it is not recommended you complete an entire lesson in one day. A little done well is better than a lot done poorly (or with major amounts of coercion).

Our own little girls are using these very same books, and they each tell me almost daily how much more they enjoy their learning time because everything is so much more structured and easy to follow.

I hope this helps you feel more confident about using The Lesson Book. If there is anything else I can do to help, please leave a comment or use my contact page and I will try and answer any questions you may have–it is my privilege to serve you!


1 thought on “How to Use The Lesson Book Level Two and Level Three”

  1. Hi Sherry,
    I have a child using the Level 3 Lesson Book. Usually, on day 1, Mondays, I have her read the words, then read the lesson, give me an oral narration, then do word copywork and word Doodles. Would it be better to have her do the narrative drawing on Mondays, instead of the word copywork and word Doodles? (After giving me an oral narration) TIA!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.