Charlotte Mason Series #8 – Handicrafts and Life Skills

Welcome to day 8 of the 10 Days of Homeschooling blog hop.  You can find the previous posts in my Charlotte Mason series here.

CM Style Benefit

One of the biggest benefits to homeschooling CM style is that much of your afternoons are free! During this time your kids can be kids and play to their heart’s content – Charlotte Mason suggests outdoor play as much as possible.  Or you can take nature walks, read living literature together,  practice musical instruments, complete artist study, and more.  One of the coolest “afternoon activities” we do is handicrafting.

Handicrafts and Life Skills | Our Journey Westward

Handicrafts List

Handicrafts are things you produce using your hands.  The list below doesn’t cover nearly everything, but some handicrafts include:

  • sewing
  • knitting/crocheting
  • woodworking
  • gardening
  • ceramics
  • jewelry making
  • flower arranging
  • cake decorating
  • photography
  • sculpting
  • decoupage
  • scrapbooking
  • collage
  • metalworking
  • pottery
  • mosaics
  • flower crafts
  • wood burning
  • cross-stitch
  • drawing/painting
  • latch-hook
  • rubber stamping

Life Skills List

Along the same vein are life skills.  These are things your children really should know before leaving home, but might not be covered in academic lessons.  A short list of examples includes:

  • cooking/baking
  • canning/freezing
  • organizing
  • caring for animals
  • plumbing/electricity
  • household chores
  • household decorating
  • care for a lawn
  • mechanics
  • building projects
  • computer skills

Both handicrafts and life skills are things every child should have the opportunity to learn, but sadly many children don’t.  They’re often so busy “doing school” they never have the opportunity to really cultivate the skills that seem less necessary.  I have to tell you that I’ve watched my children find some of the Lord’s purposes for their lives as I’ve allowed them opportunities and time to dive into handicrafts and life skills!

Making It Happen

In my home, I’ve been very proactive to offer my children opportunities to experience as many handicrafts and life skills as possible.  When 4-H offers a sewing class, we take it.  When a friend arranges a trip to the local florist, we go.  When co-op has a woodworking competition, I’ve encouraged my children to join in.  For someone like me who isn’t naturally gifted in most handicrafts, these opportunities have opened the eyes of my children to something they would not have seen/learned otherwise.

When one of these handicrafts “sticks”, the enthusiasm of my children takes over and they push themselves to learn more or find other classes or people to help them.

Where to go for help with learning handicrafts and life skills?

The answers will depend on what’s available in your area, but some of my suggestions include:

  • 4-H
    • In my county, 4-H has offered many, many wonderful classes like sewing, cooking, basket making, art, crafts, horticulture, beginning electricity, service projects, livestock care, gun safety, and more!
  • County Extension Offices
    • 4-H is associated with the extension office, but we have taken several classes offered through their adult education programs like Landscaping 101, Garden Q&A’s, and (hopefully) soon a Jr. Master Gardener course.  Although we haven’t taken the time yet, we would be very welcome at knitting, quilting and canning classes, too.
  • Field Trips
    • Get together with a few friends and take turns scheduling informative field trips in your area.  Fun choices might include the florist, a bakery, an art studio, a business that handmakes any product from candles to soap to clothing, a scrapbooking shop, a veterinarian’s office, a farm, a contractor’s jobsite or an interior decorator’s shop.
  • Pay for Classes
    • Whatever your child is interested in, there’s a class or teacher somewhere!
  • Find Family Members or Neighbors Who Love To Teach a Skill
    • My daughter has learned to knit and crochet from her grandmothers and a sweet 90 year old neighbor.  The neighbor was a huge asset to us, but my daughter’s visits brightened her day once a week as well.
  • Start a Keepers of the Faith (for girls) or Contenders of the Faith (for boys) Club
    • When my daughter was a preteen, we started a small group (about 5 families) for girls who were all the same age.  We met monthly and the moms took turns planning classes to teach “girlie skills”.  These were precious times together for the moms and daughters.  The girls learned to decorate cakes, arrange flowers, sew potholders, make nice scrapbook pages and so much more.  We used the Keepers of the Faith book as a guide for ideas, but didn’t follow it as a program.  You can see more from our Keepers classes here.
  • Get Dad Involved
    • Dads generally have knowledge about various skills that are unique and priceless.  Encourage him to invite the kids along as he goes about his “manly” business.

There’s no way to give you a comprehensive list of resources for handicrafts and life skill since it depends on the interests of your children.  However, I will share a few that have become treasured helps in our family.

The following are affiliate links.

As for life skills, my children have worked alongside me at the house (and my husband on the farm) from the time they could walk. Household chores, gardening, canning, working cattle, fixing broken things, etc. are just normal and won’t surprise my children when they start their own homes.

You can see some of my handicraft and life skill posts hereI would love to hear how handicrafts and life skills have enhanced your homeschool!

We’re almost to the end of the series!  I hope you’ll hang in there with me for two more days!  Tomorrow we’ll discuss Habit Training.

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  1. I really am enjoying your series. Our major life skill we are working on this year is cooking. Every Wed. the kids do all the cooking for the day. It is going well.

  2. Overall, I think this is my favorite thing about CM style of learning. We enjoy this time in our homeschool very much and I like how you mention to get dads involved. This is a huge part of our afternoon school when my husband gets home from work, my son is all about his dad and helping with projects. Yesterday they spend the evening together digging a ditch. I am so thankful for these times. It gives me time with my daughter for cooking and table setting.

  3. I read alot of Waldorf blogs for their handicraft ideas. I would really like to do wool and felt handicrafts. We haven’t made it that far yet. We have done a lot of lace and trace cards at this early age. We focus alot of life skills just do to where we live. What I like about the CM method is that life skills are a natural and very important part of the homeschool environment.

  4. I’ve really enjoyed this series! I’ve always planned on homeschooling my children, and as my oldest creeps closer to four years old, I’ve been researching the different styles and curricula. Apparently, I’ve been doing something akin to the Charlotte Mason method all along (life skills, nature study, Bible study, poetry, music, etc.) and didn’t realize it. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing all your great ideas.

  5. Yikes, handicrafts kind of freak me out. I was one of those kids who was to busy doing school (public) to really get a grip on handicrafts and keeping a home. I’m learning now (after 10 years of marriage) but I certainly want my daughters to be more confident in their skills and more diverse in their interests when they leave home. Still, the mess gets to be overwhelming and driving hither and yon to take classes makes me tired just thinking of it! I know it’s all worth it in the long run, but I sure wish I had some skillz in my back pocket to take out and offer up. At least I can comfort myself with the thought that my children will be able to teach handicrafts to my grandchildren some day.

  6. I had to learn homemaking the hard way, too. It wasn’t fun for me or my husband! (I actually tried to fry chicken in water once!! LOL) I know it’s hard to think about the mess and possible traveling, but watching your children gain lifelong skills is worth the effort!

  7. So it will be a natural fit! 🙂

  8. Good point! They are a very natural part of our day!

  9. Our sons hang out with mom A LOT as homeschoolers. It’s SO good for them to have manly time with dad!

  10. I haven’t gotten into the habit of scheduling one day of cooking for the kids yet. It’s been my intention for years as I’ve started it and stopped it. They cook/bake often, but I really do have intentions to assign them a day of the week where they are completely responsible for the meals.

  11. Brittney Moon says:

    Just found your website and I love it!!! Any ideas for teaching a 5 and a half year old boy wood working? He loves building things, but its hard for me to figure out a good balance with safety…. Thanks!

  12. Do you have an extension office in your area? They often offer kid-friendly woodworking classes. Lowe’s or Home Depot do, too.

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