Homeschooling With the McGuffey Readers and The Lesson Book

I struggled for years to find a solid language arts program that was both excellent and affordable. When I finally discovered the McGuffey readers it was almost too good to be true. There was something about the charm and wisdom of these books that put my heart at ease.

At first I was totally clueless; how in the world were these to be used? Then I researched, prayed, thought, and experimented.

Finally, I landed on a solid approach that continues to bless all of us to this day. Adapting the methods Charlotte Mason suggested helped create a rhythm by which we could squeeze every drop of education excellence out of each lesson. This included copywork, dictation, and narration.

After following this regimen for some time, I started formatting pages that lessened my work load even further. There were spaces for each part of this excellent content that allowed everyone to feel comfortable forging ahead in a more automatic way. This allowed us to have more time for the areas of content that gave us so much delight.

Of course, I just had to share with others! So offered some free pages for download, and later took these pages and formulated The Lesson Book series for other moms to use with their children.

Still, I know there is some confusion as to how to use the entire system. This is why I sat down a few weeks ago and filmed an entire series on how to use each book and Lesson Book in the series. Below you will find the videos in their entirety.

I hope they will be a blessing!

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29 thoughts on “Homeschooling With the McGuffey Readers and The Lesson Book”

  1. Sherry,
    I’m using level 1 with my k/1st grader (she LOVES it!) and I just purchased levels 2 and 3 for my rising 4th and 6th graders. I was wondering why you don’t use the McGuffey 2nd eclectic reader revised edition (the brown, orange, and blue books)? Is there much difference between the blue/orange and the brown books, specifically the 2nd reader? I own the revised edition and I’m planning on using it with my 4th grader, who is not a natural speller, but I’m curious if the original book would be more appropriate or if it’s on par with the revised edition?

    Yours is the first blog I go to when I have a homeschool question and you usually have the answer! With 4 kids I’m always looking for ways to simplify and bring peace to our house and your products and wisdom are definitely pushing me in the right direction!

    Reply
    • Such good questions, Katie :). If you feel comfortable with the second revised edition, go for it. Every child is different, and if you don’t have another have another option you can make it work. I personally feel the original is superior because it is a little more gradual, the words lists are more comprehensive, and the plethora of lessons means loads of repetition. Even the format of the book is better for young children practicing to read on their own. Hope this helps!

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      • Thank you! After watching a few more of your videos I noticed that it looks easier to build “word family” spelling lists from the original edition. As that’s my son’s trouble spot I think it’ll be a better fit. Thank you for replying so quickly!

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      • Hello! Jumping into this thread — I just acquired the Revised editions books, and started looking into lessons. I stumbled on your blog, and now I’m worried I’ve gotten the wrong version! Do your lesson books work with the blue/orange set?

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        • Absolutely! I just like to use the brown set for younger children. You can even use the lesson pages with story books and novels.

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  2. Thank you so much for the work you’ve done! I stumbled across these books in a museum and few years back and now that my oldest is ready to use them, I am so glad to see there is guidance!

    My question is about dictation. I have a 6 yo and we are just starting out. What would you dictate at this level? Is it just the sentence from the lesson in the McGuffey book? Did I miss the answer in the video?

    Thank you!

    Sonia

    Reply
    • It is my pleasure, Sonia. As for the dictation–start simple, just small words at first, and then continue in that until your little one feels confident and it becomes easy. Then move forward with a short sentence or two. Just add in a little more, and a little more, and eventually you will be dictating whole paragraphs.

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  3. Hi Sherry ☺️ I have another question, and hopefully it’s my last . In your video tutorial on Level 1, you mention bringing things up during the reading day, such as capitalizations, prefixes, suffixes, etc. How will I know when to do that? Will my children naturally ask questions, or will I see things being emphasized, such as obvious word patterns, etc.? Thanks in advance! ☺️

    Reply
    • Yes, I look for the obvious word patterns. I actually tried writing all of these word patterns down to share, but I haven’t been able to put them in a form that would be useful to others. Right now I am trying to finish up an elementary-level math curriculum that is based on the oldies stuff. It will be printable and FREE! I just have bits and pieces of time here-and-there, but I am having so much fun! I am hoping it will cover from counting to decimals, but right now I am working from the middle out–if that makes any sense. Prayers appreciated! My goal is to make solid, God-based curriculum as accessible as possible for all homeschoolers (and after-schoolers).

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      • Okay, that sounds easy enough (the word families). Oh, I am so excited to have that elementary download when you are done! I’ve been looking at Ray’s Arithmetic this past week and haven’t been able to wrap my mind around it, so I will be continuing with our current math curriculum. I also have Strayer-Upton books. My daughter is only in 1st Grade, so I obviously won’t be using those yet. Looking forward to it! You are amazing. God bless. ♥️

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  4. Thank you so much. I can’t wait to watch the videos and look at the lessons. I am waiting on the original books to get here now to start with my youngest child.

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  5. Wondering is the McGuffey Pictorial Primer and the McGuffey Primer the same book? I am having a hard time finding the original McGuffey Primer. I have the pdfs for the first, second and third readers and the Pictorial Primer but unsure if there is a Primer besides that?

    Reply
    • You’re doing pretty well. The Primer and the Pictorial Primer are different. I think the pictorial primer is more useful 🙂

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  6. Hi Sherry I’m not sure if anyone has asked this, but do you have your kids read the McGuffey lesson everyday before diving into the Lesson Book? Or do they just do that the first day?

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  7. I have been trying to devour your content as I explore a future homeschooling plan for my 2 and 4 year olds. I keep going on a roller coaster of thinking I have a path and then feeling clueless and overwhelmed.. so you may hear from me more often than you wish.
    My first question is how do you know how to teach word patterns? Then on down the road what did you use to teach poetry, essay formats, and other things not seen here with the Mcguffeys.
    Also, I have gathered that you use the Lesson Books with other reading. Are you doing that along side the Mcguffeys or what does that look like? Do the kids get tired of the same format over and over?
    Thank you for your time!

    Reply
    • I’m uncertain what you mean by “word patterns.” I do have a free reading program that you can use with the McG’s in my Freebies section. Poetry, essays, etc. are easy to do if the foundation is laid well. We use the lesson books when we are in our concentrated academics cycle, but we also have other cycles where we are exploring other areas of their education, so they don’t have a chance to get tired. Glad to be of help.

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  8. Hi Sherry 🙂 I’m full of questions right now as I evaluate our homeschool year. We’ve been enjoying the lesson books, and continue to have more and more appreciation for the McGuffeys. I am just wondering what the purpose of copying the word lists is, aside from spelling and handwriting.

    Reply
    • You hit the nail on the head: copying the lists is for spelling and handwriting 🙂 I know it seems too simple to be effective, but it truly is, and it really works!

      Reply

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