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I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will: Charlotte Mason’s Motto Explained for Upper Elementary Students

As many of you who have followed our story know, we changed from straddling the fence between a WTM and Charlotte Mason style of education to CM-only, using the AmblesideOnline curriculum.  It was a big change, and it was a good one.

Because my children were older, I thought they could use some help seeing how the ideas behind Mason’s wonderful motto could be supported Biblically. I asked to several people I respect for a study like this, and they all came back to me, “I don’t know anything like that. Sounds great. You should write it.” Terrified, I began.

My children and I have been using this study during our Circle Time (we’re several days into the “I Will” section).  The meditations are short, take only a few minutes to read and a few more if there’s discussion. They’ve learned from using it; I learned a lot by writing it.

All that said, I’m very pleased to present my first ever eBook: I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will: Charlotte Mason’s Motto Explained for Upper Elementary Students.  

This book is a Biblical study of the underpinning ideas found in Charlotte Mason’s motto: 
Click on picture for PDF File

“I am” discusses our relationship with God; “I can” discusses Christ’s power acting through us; “I ought” shows students how the Ten Commandments and God’s Law are intricately linked and given to us for our good even as children; and “I will” encourages students to choose the right and practice good habits of Reason, Conscience, and Affections in those choices.  There are ten short (less than one page including scripture) meditations for each section. As I indicated above, they are easily used during a Circle or Morning Time.

This eBook is completely free, no strings attached, for pdf download. I’d love to hear any feedback you or your students have.  Comments here or via email are very welcome. 


  1. Thank you Dawn. I know you intende this for upper elementary, but I think, looking at it, that It's simple enough to use with my y2 students. I'm going to add it to our schedule, once a week or so, to complete over a full school year. Otherwise I'll never get to the motto at all!

    1. Claire, my youngest would have been a 2nd grader when we started it. I think that will be fine. Be aware that the later meditations are longer than the first ones, but once a week sounds fantastic. The sections build on each other in some places, but kids can handle it. We memorized the whole motto over 2 weeks before we began reading, too. That might help! Please let me know how it goes!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this! We are transitioning to more Ambleside with older kids as well, and I wished for something like this to exist. You made my wish come true! πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks so much for putting this together! (And thanks to Mystie for the link.) I can't wait to dive into this with my kiddos…

    1. Thank *you*, Allison. I would be very interested to hear how it goes! I added your podcast to my queue and listened to the first episodes today. Very good. We learned about the history of the Puritans in our Sunday School recently, too. A nice connection.

  4. Celeste! I would love to hear from your perspective if it is not too sectarian/Reformed or adaptable to your Catholic worldview. I suspect there may be places you're uncomfortable even though I tried to keep it as ecumenically straightforward as I could.

    1. You're welcome! Thanks for sharing how you got here … I wasn't sure if that was a good place to post πŸ™‚

  5. Thank you, Dawn, for creating this treasure and for sharing it! We will very much enjoy using it during our Morning Time. Blessings to you and your family! πŸ™‚

  6. This is really well done! Nice! Usually when I see "free, no strings attached" the perceived value is less. You could at least put a string like "subscribe to my blog/newsletter" or something first πŸ˜‰ but I will be doing that now anyway. Have a good day! πŸ˜€

    1. Hi Kacie, I did consider that, but that kind of stress/pressure is bad for me. I wanted to share something valuable and beautiful with a homeschool community that has given me so much.

      I hope you and your family are encouraged and blessed.

  7. Wow, thank you! We learned the motto this way: I am a child of God, I ought to do His will, I can do what He tells me, and by His grace I will! But he probably doesn't think about it meaning, so this will be good to dive into when we starts school next week.

    1. I really like that poem version and the progression, in some ways, makes more sense, but we had already learned the other when I started writing, so we stuck with it. You could easily do the sections out of order with a small amount of editing. I hope it works for you! Let me know how it goes.

  8. Thank you! My kiddos are younger elementary but I am looking forward to reading this for myself to help as I teach. Also, love the cover design. I think that will be hung in my dining (school) room, if you don't mind.

    1. I don't mind at all. I thought people might download just for the cover … I am not very visual, so it's the part I stressed about the most. There are dividing pages between each section with each individual phrase, too.

      If the title wasn't too long already, I might have added "and their moms" … My MIL, one of my biggest supporters, told me she has enjoyed reading it devotionally herself. I hope the Lord uses the work in your life.

  9. I must be a dope — when I click the link above it sends to me a page of all your posts tagged "changes," but no one else seems to be having that problem.

  10. I will try to incorporate into circle time and report back. We (especially me) are in need of this. Thank you so very much!

    1. Welcome! San Pedro Sula! I've been there, I'm excited to follow your blog. I really needed this, too. I'd love to hear your reflections!

  11. Just downloaded! So looking forward to it. I'm sad that I was still too new to our new town that I couldn't meet up with you when you were here. Next time?

  12. Thanks so much! I need this for me as much as for the kids. Glad for the 3 degrees from Pam Barnhill to you! God bless you!

  13. So timely. We are struggling with our 5 year old pushing boundaries in new ways. Yes, its normal, but its not easy. I know this might be a bit above his head, but maybe we will do one verse a week, read it each day and take a minute to think about it. I'm okay pushing my Little Man a bit in this area, he needs it, I think.

  14. This is wonderful! Thanks so much for making it freely available. My kids are young, oldest is 5, and our basket time is quite simple, but I plan to add in a Bible rotation, one day a psalm, another day a proverbs portion, a children's Bible story, and now I plan to add this. It'll probably take a year this way, and give my little ones plenty of time to chew on each piece! I'll probably cull some of our memory work from the scriptures you've used as well. So excited!

  15. Dawn- I can't wait to do this with my child. But the link won't work. Is there another place I could find it?

  16. Hi Dawn!
    Someone on FB recommended your ebook, I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will, but the link to the PDF doesn’t seem to be working anymore. Is your ebook still available? Would love to get my hands on it πŸ™‚

  17. Hi! I am having a hard time finding the download for this. I started writing my own as well when I came across this. I would love to read it!

    1. Just approving your comment – I know we’ve worked on downloading it.

      For others who are looking – just click on the cover picture and the PDF should just download for you! πŸ™‚

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