Things have been quiet around here lately for good reason – among other things, school planning has been taking over my life. We start B’s second grade year in less than two weeks and I think I can finally safely say that everything is planned…..I hope. 😳 Thanks to Ambleside Online, which we’re using again this year, most of it is definitely taken care of and all of the other boxes are filled in, so I do feel pretty good that we’re ready! And if not, it’ll be quickly obvious where my planning skills have failed.
Before I get to B, I’m mentioning that I’m going to be doing a very, very loose pre-school with C this year. She’ll be 5 in January, so I’m re-visiting the Wee Folk Art Simple Seasons “curriculum” (starting with Harvest Time – you can read about B’s Winter Wonderland term here) that I used with B and absolutely LOVED. Seriously. It was so, so good and even while I was sitting down to do some planning for C, I got really excited to once again go through these books and activities. It’s so gentle and not scholastically demanding at all – just reading two books together and doing a few activities like recipes or crafts each week – but offers me a way to plan intentional “school” time with her.
I really struggled last school year with what to do with her. Often she would just be in her room listening to an audiobook by herself during times when I was reading something to B that I didn’t want her listening in on due to content (usually Our Island Story or The Blue Fairy Book) or when we were doing something she couldn’t participate in, like math. She did join us for other readings, for nature study, and for Morning Time, but otherwise she’d have to entertain herself and I felt bad about that. So I also got her a few activities that will be hers and hers alone (instead of having to share with her brother) and only available during school time. These include pattern blocks, scissor skills and tape activities, and wooden lacing cards. If anyone has any other ideas, I’m open to suggestions!
I’m also planning to add the alphabet element that’s included in the WFA curriculum with just learning one letter per week, which is not something I did with B. He already knew the letters of the alphabet by the time we started, so there was no need. C, on the other hand, knows the alphabet but can’t name the letters so we’ll work on that with the Flower Fairies book as suggested in the curriculum. The only things we’ll skip are the art and poetry selections as we’ll be covering those in Morning Time.
And now on to B and Ambleside Online Year 2….
My friend Angela posted an image on her Instagram account earlier this year of several books, including J. Paterson Smyth’s The Book of Genesis and that was the impetus I needed to finally order it. This is the nicest form of peer pressure when a friend posts a picture of a Bible commentary (or book of any kind) and you decide you need to buy it. 🙂 Nancy Kelly had actually also mentioned this series during the CMER, so it wasn’t new to me and I had been pondering getting at least one of them for weeks. Anyway, I ordered Genesis and Matthew and when they arrived, I dug in right away. They were so good and I was so excited about them that I wanted to start implementing them last year until I realized that they’re actually used (optionally) in the AO schedule for Year 2. So now I really get to dive in and all of the underlining I’ve already done will be used!
I’m planning to continue to use KJV this year as I learned last year that he does well with this version even though I was admittedly a little hesitant to use it at first.
I am excited to be starting American history this year, but also to continue Our Island Story and A Child’s History of the World. I’ve done some pre-reading so far and I think we’ll both like this book. B struggled a little with OIS last year, but I think it was a good kind of struggle because it challenged him. He still gave very good narrations after each reading, so I know at least most of it was sinking in. It’s also been fun for me to read OIS because I’ve since been able to understand references to various English kings in random places and know at least a few things about who is being mentioned (or why they’re being mentioned in a given circumstance).
We’re giving Trial and Triumph a try this year after I decided completely throwing it out last year was probably not a good idea after all. I am definitely pre-reading this one, though, and any stories that I have to edit quite a bit, I will most likely leave off the schedule.
I was admittedly a little disappointed when I saw that we didn’t continue reading Viking Tales from last year, but I think The Little Duke will be good too. From the little reading I’ve done so far, I do think I’ll probably have to do some editing for my sensitive boy, but I’ve heard the book and story are very good so I’m looking forward to this one as well.
More Holling C. Holling books! And we’ll be finishing two this year! I still have the Beautiful Feet Books maps I ordered last year for the book series, so we’ll be using those again except I hope we’ll fill them out a little more than we did last year. I also learned that the first book we’ll be reading (finishing in Term 2), Tree in the Trail, has an entire chapter about Bent’s Old Fort which definitely means another trip down there will be in order. 🙂
I’m also adding in the extra readings from Long’s Home Geography and Charlotte Mason’s Elementary Geography wherever I have easier weeks. In my planning spreadsheet for Year 2, I inserted a row at the top that adds up all of the readings for the week in that column, then I inserted the additional geography readings in where I had space. I’m looking forward to using these books more as well as even in the small amount we read last year, we both learned quite a bit.
I’m continuing with what I did for the first two terms last year and using the AO nature study schedule. This means that for the first term we’ll be studying trees. I took a look through The Handbook of Nature Study (HONS) and tried to pick the chapters that included information about trees we have in our area (using Tekiela’s Trees of Colorado) so that we can keep a lookout for them on our nature hikes. This also meant that I had to, of course, get a Cavallini tree poster for the wall in our homeschool area to improve our studies. Of course. 😉
Here’s what we’ll be learning about in the first term (all chapters from HONS):
- Parts of the tree
- The way a tree grows
This year might prove a little more challenging in nature study as last year we only covered birds/mammals/invertebrates, so I was able to find YouTube videos about these things. I’m not sure I’ll be able to do this with trees as well. On the other hand, it’ll be a lot easier for us to find a maple tree during one of our nature hikes than trying to track down a wild turkey or a fox.
We’re also starting The Burgess Animal Book for Children which is a given hit as we’re all big fans of Thornton Burgess.
We’ll keep on keeping on with cursive this year, finishing the worksheets I started with B last year. Once we’re done with those, I’ll create new cursive sheets on Worksheetworks.com with lines from whatever poem we’re memorizing during that month and then B will do about a page per day.
We finished Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons last year so B is reading now, but just needs more practice. He actually surprises me often by mentioning what a sign we’ve just passed on the road said or something like that but then still be so hesitant to read an actual book. We’ll keep it simple with one short reading for three days a week from Reading-Literature: Primer, Reading-Literature: First Reader, and Reading-Literature: Second Reader. The fourth (and last) day of the school week, we’ll read a story from the Little Bear books until we’ve made our way through those. This will get us through Term 1…. I’m not quite sure what we’ll do when we get to Term 2, but B received a set of Henry and Mudge books for his birthday from E’s mom so I’m sure those will be involved!
I managed to get both RightStart Math Level C books in perfect condition on eBay for $30. The RightStart website has them new for $90 so I was very, very glad to find this deal! We already have all the manipulatives which we bought with Level B last year, so we’re all set for this year and I’m excited to dive in again. It’s a pricey curriculum, but I really, really think it’s worth it.
I’m changing our Spanish a bit this year in that I’m moving it out of morning time and into our “regular” school time. I finally got around to reading the Teaching Guide for Speaking Spanish with Miss. Mason and François and she suggested working on it for 20 minutes per day just just two times per week and then spending no more than two weeks on a series. I’ve been doing it completely wrong, so we’re going to try to do it the proper way this year. We’ll alternate Speaking Spanish with learning more songs from Diez Deditos every other day. This actually works well as it breaks up our school time a little more.
I have zero experience with Walter de la Mare but I like finding new poets to love, so I’m ready to dive into his writings. In pre-reading just a few, they’re much shorter than what we were reading last year and the year before, which I found to be interesting. B will most likely appreciate that. 🙂
We are continuing on with a mix of Lambs and Nesbit for Shakespeare. Since starting to read these versions, I’ve actually found that I prefer them to the Coville versions even though the illustrations in his books are beautiful. I’ll also be keeping the whiteboard Shakespeare tradition and picked up an extra table-top whiteboard so we don’t have to keep using our RightStart board. 🙂
We’ll be continuing on with Parables of Nature as well. This is another book that B groans a little when I pull it out, but then gives me very good narrations and I think the stories really are very good.
This is the year we’ll also be starting Pilgrim’s Progress and reading it over the next two years. Despite my conservative upbringing and education, I’ve never read this before. I did attempt it for the Back to the Classics Challenge last year but then I think I was distracted by some other book and never went back to it. I’m honestly a little intimidated by this one and I’m not sure how well it will go over with B and what kind of narrations I’ll get, but we’ll give it a try.
We’ll also be starting Understood Betsy in Term 1. I haven’t pre-read this at all yet, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it so I have faith it’ll be fine for us as well.
In The Living Page, Laurie Bestvater wrote a section on The Child’s Own History, which was used with Form I students. Last year, B did a personal timeline with just events that happened to him and in our family. This year I’ll be using the same template, but instead of family events, we’ll be looking at local public events (hopefully ones that he was able to experience first-hand) and drawing a picture for each quarter from those things, then next year we’ll move on to global events. This will give me quite a bit more work to do in terms of finding events for each quarter from which to choose, but I think this will be good groundwork for him being able to conceive of history as a whole. Then when he gets to Form II, we’ll start a more formal timeline.
We’ll be memorizing three poems during Term 1 (one for each month). I read whatever one we happen to be working on that month every day during morning time, and then at the end of the month, B stands up in front of C and me and recites it from memory. I need to do more research into recitation (specifically listen to Maria Bell’s talk on The Mason Jar) as I’m not at all sure I’m doing this correctly, especially after it was modeled for us at the CMER in February….but this is what we’re doing for now.
Here’s what we’ll be memorizing in Term 1:
The Children’s Hour
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.
I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.
From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.
A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.
A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!
They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.
They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!
Do you think, O blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!
I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.
And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!
By Frank L. Stanton
Ef you strike a thorn or rose,
Ef it hails, or ef it snows,
‘Taint no use to sit an’ whine,
When the fish ain’t on yer line;
Bait yer hook an’ keep a-tryin’—
When the weather kills yer crop,
When you tumble from the top,
S’pose you’re out of every dime,
Bein’ so ain’t any crime;
Tell the world you’re feelin’ prime—
When it looks like all is up,
Drain the sweetness from the cup,
See the wild birds on the wing,
Hear the bells that sweetly ring,
When you feel like sighin’ sing—
By George Washington Doane
Chisel in hand stood a sculptor boy
With his marble block before him,
And his eyes lit up with a smile of joy,
As an angel-dream passed o’er him.
He carved the dream on that shapeless stone,
With many a sharp incision;
With heaven’s own light the sculpture shone,–
He’d caught that angel-vision.
Children of life are we, as we stand
With our lives uncarved before us,
Waiting the hour when, at God’s command,
Our life-dream shall pass o’er us.
If we carve it then on the yielding stone,
With many a sharp incision,
Its heavenly beauty shall be our own,–
Our lives, that angel-vision.
The Children’s Hour is pretty long but I was hoping since it’s in story format it would be easier to memorize. We’ll see!
I’m teaching picture study in both the upper and lower forms this year in our homeschool co-op, which I’m excited about. The first term we’ll be covering John Constable who also happens to be on the AO Art Study rotation, though I’ve replaced one of their selections with a different one. Here are the pieces we’ll be covering:
- Boat-Building near Flatford Mill (1815)
- Wivenhoe Park, Essex (1816)
- The Hay Wain (1821)
- Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds (1825)
- Hadleigh Castle, The Mouth of the Thames–Morning after a Stormy Night (1829)
- Stonehenge (1835)
I’ll continue to do what we did last year in alternating picture study with composer study during morning time. I keep it very simple as B will generally already have talked about a piece during co-op and use our time at home just to discuss what he thinks about it or answer any questions he didn’t get a chance to ask during co-op.
I’m not quite sure what we’re doing in our co-op for handicrafts yet, but I think it has something to do with clay and stop-motion photography. 🙂 Either way, depending on how intensive that is, we might try paper sloyd at home again during the off weeks as he really enjoyed that last year and I’d like to continue with the book. We didn’t get to finish with the first-year models as we only did origami with the co-op, so we’ll catch up with that first.
This is another subject determined by our co-op and during our first term, we’ll be learning about Beethoven. Other than what we’ll do during co-op time, at home I’ll alternate this with picture study and find a YouTube video of a live performance of whatever piece we’re covering and we’ll watch just a few minutes of that before we talk about it.
Folksong & Hymn
These are also determined by our co-op with two songs for each term. For Term 1 folksongs we’ll be singing Roll Jordan Roll and Go Down Moses. I’m in charge of hymns for the co-op this year, so I got to choose which was not easy! For Term 1, we’ll be learning My Hope is Built on Nothing Less and In the Sweet By and By.
For both of these, we sing them during co-op time, then at home I alternate them during morning time with hymns on Mondays and Tuesdays and folksongs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Since we sing these for six weeks, we generally have them memorized by the time we switch to a new song.
I’ve been scrounging this summer to come up with chapter books to read to B at night before bed. We’ve come up with some good ones, but I’m excited to dive into the free reads list for Year 2, especially continuing one with the Little House series as these were some of my favorites when I was a little girl (and, in fact,we’re reading from the set I received from my uncle when I was 10 years old).
We’re actually starting a week earlier this year than we did last year so that we have a full 4 weeks of Term 2 before Christmas and the OCD side of me can stop whining about memorizing a Christmas poem for a week or two after we get back from Christmas break. We’re starting two-and-a-half weeks later than the public schools around here, but we’ll be ending at the same time as we don’t have all the breaks they do during the year, so that will also be good.
I also put our first week into Lessontrek just to see how things will lay out and it felt like quite a bit more than last year so our first few weeks ought to be interesting. Admittedly, I’m a little intimidated, but I know we’ll find a good rhythm soon enough. I do want to keep us to a 4-day school week (with co-ops and nature hikes on Fridays), but I think if it gets to be too much for us each day, I may experiment with 5 days. We’ll see, though.
And now I just need to finish all my co-op planning and the Vermeer picture study aid and organize my house and fold the laundry and finish client projects and make supper and call that person back and schedule the dishwasher repair and…… 😳