(You can see our Term 1 plans here and a recap of Term 2 here. Please note that I have linked to book lists on the AO website to respect their licensing terms and the hard work they’ve put into such an amazing curriculum. Books that use affiliate links here are not listed on the AO website.)
We actually started Term 2 the first week of December, but I wanted to have a full term under my belt before I wrote a review post and December was just a busy month….so here we are. 🙂 We’ve definitely had ups and downs this school year so far, but we’re learning as we go, not only the subjects that we’re covering, but also how to do this whole homeschooling thing better.
Here’s what we learned about in Term 1 and our plans for Term 2.
His narrations in Bible have gone a lot better than I expected. I think it probably helps that we’ve been reading many of these stories (Old Testament and New Testament) from The Jesus Storybook Bible, the Children of God Storybook Bible, and two other children’s Bibles I happen to have since he was very small. In Term 1, I experimented a bit and tried a suggestion in the AO Year 1 primer by reading each story from a children’s Bible one day, then the same story from the Bible itself the next. However, it felt a little redundant as the children’s Bible version is very similar to the ESV I was using. So we’ll go back to just reading OT/NT/OT/NT from the ESV and the schedules I linked to above each week as I had planned to do in Term 1.
I was still trying to find a way to incorporate the liturgical calendar into our daily readings, so at breakfast, I dropped the book on theology we were reading (I didn’t end up caring for it anyway) and began to read whatever gospel passage is listed for each day in the BCP. This has worked out really well as they’re relatively short readings, but still give us good exposure to the words of Jesus every day.
We’re also still memorizing Bible verses at breakfast time. This memorization system is fantastic and I’m so glad I found it.
History and Tales
I think history and tales have gone well for the most part. During the first term, I only skipped two readings: “Brave 300” from Fifty Famous Stories and “Baodicea” from Our Island Story. I omitted “Brave 300” because of violence and “Baodicea” was mainly due to time constraints. I wasn’t completely sure I wanted to read the latter in the first place due to content (though I believe it’s very subtle), but when I started adding up all of the reads that week (the rest of Benjamin Franklin as well as all of The Tempest), I decided to leave it out. It’s nice to have this much control over what and how much we’re reading each week. 🙂
B’s narrations for all of these have been good, though he does struggle a little with Our Island Story, especially the names. I’m learning how to help him with his narrations in all of this, so I think the challenge has been good for us both. We’ll continue on with these books (I’m still leaving out Trial and Triumph, which is on the normal AO Year 1 rotation) and add George Washington by the D’Aulaires for Term 2 as well.
There’s a note on the AO Year 1 page about how slavery is portrayed in the George Washington book, so per their suggestion, we’ll also be getting Farmer George Plants a Nation from the library to read about the steps he took to help free his own slaves.
Both of these books have been extremely successful and we’ll keep on with these during Term 2 as well. It was fun in Term 1 to match up the birds we were reading about in Burgess with the birds we were studying in Nature Study. The Herriot stories are very cute and the illustrations are wonderful so C actually sticks around for these readings as well.
My only complaint about Paddle to the Sea so far has been how short the readings are. The illustrations are beautiful and I love the story itself (not to mention the weekly “visit” to my home area of the country 🙂 ), but sometimes we go two weeks without reading it and I think we both kind of forget where we left off. On the other hand, it’s been fun for B to be able to color the map and draw a little more each week as Paddle makes his way to the sea. I’ve started to let him color it while I’m reading other subjects simply because he can hardly color any of it at all during these extremely short readings.
I think Aesop was made for Charlotte Mason. These readings are short, to-the-point, but also memorable so they’re incredibly easy to narrate. We haven’t struggled here at all.
Parables of Nature, on the other hand, has been more of a challenge, mainly because there is a lot of dialogue in these stories. B is good with narrating events and actions, but not so much the dialogue so these readings have taken us a lot longer as I have to break them up more. I was encouraged when we did “Unknown Land” as he seemed to retain a lot more from this one, so I hope the others follow this.
Just so Stories contains the perfect kind of silliness and off-the-wall humor that B absolutely loves, so this one has also been a hit. In particular, he loved to learn how the camel got its hump(h) and, “1, 2, 3 and where’s your breakfast?” is a common saying in our house now. 🙂
For The Blue Fairy Book, I ended up dropping $10 on the pretty Barnes and Noble version since I can’t seem to keep my Kindle charged. I think the pictures have helped a little, but otherwise, this one was also a little bit of a challenge for us in the beginning. I think the main problem is that I was trying to do all of “Beauty and the Beast” in one sitting and it’s a l-o-n-g story. I did break up “Why the Sea is Salt” more, which I think helped, so I used that strategy with “Prince Darling” and “Toads and Diamonds” as well. He definitely enjoyed those more, so I have hope that maybe it isn’t necessarily the book and more me trying to force too much reading into one lesson (go figure).
Shakespeare has received mixed reviews. At home, I’ve been using the Bruce Coville versions of the stories and the illustrations have helped, but these plays still contain lots of names and dialogue, both of which B struggles with when it comes to narration time. It did help when I started writing down all of the characters on a whiteboard so we could keep them straight (because I struggled with it too), but I’m really hoping we figure out how to enjoy this more (I’m very tempted to pick up these finger puppets, if I can find them!). We do also cover Shakespeare during co-op, but Term 1 was spent reading a biography of his life. In Term 2, we’ll be reading the Lambs version of Hamlet which he’s not really getting so far (I know most Charlotte Mason people prefer Lambs, but I really like Nesbit). Hopefully it gets better.
We made it through A Child’s Garden of Verses one-and-a-half times during the first term. It was a book that we’ve had for several years so none of them were new, but it was still a nice little break before we plunged into math time which is immediately after poetry.
Both of the books listed above are part of an A.A. Milne anthology we got for B when he was tiny. E used to read all of these stories and poems at bedtime to him, so we’re all well-acquainted with Pooh, his friends, and all of the poems. We’ll be reading one from each set of poems every day.
I mentioned at the end of the math overview in my Term 1 post that I hoped I hadn’t wasted a bunch of money on ink and paper printing out the first 20 lessons…. well…. I did*. After about two or three weeks of using MEP, we both had enough and I started doing research into other math programs. I think my main reason for switching was that the instructions weren’t always clear with MEP and we both found that frustrating. Also, I was really not looking forward to having to convert everything from metric/British to standard/US measurements/amounts when we got to money/weights/distances/etc.
Another homeschooling friend mentioned the two math programs her kids are using and RightStart was one of them. It was very expensive – almost $300 new and I searched for used deals but didn’t have much success finding an entire set ASAP. However, because I bought all of the manipulatives (seen above in a handy-dandy organizer that works perfectly for them) as part of a bundle we shouldn’t need to buy any more of those and will only have to get the lesson plans and workbooks each year, which are reasonably priced (and they also have an even cheaper printable version of these).
I think B’s brain is very similar to mine and he struggles with math. It’s not a fun subject for either one of us, but I really like how RightStart includes the manipulatives for different ways to get a concept, as well as lots of games! B is a competitive little guy (also like his mama), so he really enjoys the games.
Despite the struggles and expense, though, the switch was definitely worth it and we are making progress.
* I recently got a new printer that should keep printing costs much lower. It was on sale at Best Buy and we had an old printer to trade-in for a $100 voucher, so we got it much less than the listed price and it comes with 2 years’ worth of ink. It has worked beautifully so far!
Handwriting and copywork are going still plugging along. We’re working on getting him to actually write his letters properly as he kind of came up with his own system for forming letters. This has been evident when we sit down to do his sounds writing during reading time every day. I’m still printing out our monthly Morning Time/recitation poems with worksheetworks.com for him to do one page per day (front and back). After he’s done doing the copywork, I keep all of the pages in a 3-ring binder and we read through all that he’s written of that particular poem so far every day. If we finish the poem before the end of the month and have a few days with no copywork, I’ll make a few sheets with the Bible verse we’re memorizing or one that we’ve recently memorized.
He’s making absolutely wonderful progress in his reading. The 100 Easy Lessons book was a little rough at first as we both tried to figure out what pace he needed and what things we could leave out (he hates all the repetition), but once we figured that out and hit the lessons with the pictures and stories, we’ve both enjoyed it a lot more.
The BOB Books don’t necessarily fit with the letters/sounds we’re learning in the 100 Easy Lessons each week, but he loves the goofy stories and has done remarkably well with these, making it through 2/3 of the BOB Collection 1 Books in Term 1. We’ll finish those in the middle of this term and then move on the BOB Collection 2 for the rest of the year.
I keep having to remind him that he can read now. He gets questions from kids his own age or other people in our co-op wondering if he can read and he always says no despite the fact he’s even writing his own little stories these days. I think he feels that because he hasn’t mastered reading (who has?) and we haven’t finished the book that teaches him to read, he’s not quite there yet.
I have to say that Diez Deditos has been a huge hit. We sing the same song every school day for two weeks, and then review one other song each week on Monday. C loves participating in this part as there’s usually clapping and/or jumping involved with many of these songs. Also, these are catchy tunes. A day doesn’t normally go by when I don’t find myself humming Vamos a Cantar or one of the other ones over and over…and over again. 🙂
I was able to get a used copy of Speaking Spanish with Ms. Mason and Francois through the AO forums a few weeks into Term 1. With this book and some help from a fellow co-op mom who attended a session led by the woman who wrote the book at the last CMI Conference, we’ve made some good progress learning some basic Spanish phrases (“I open the book,” “I put the pencils in the pencil box,” “I get up in the morning” and things like that) during Morning Time. Mondays are review days, so we go back and do one interaction we’ve memorized with me acting it out and saying it in Spanish, then he acts it out with me while I say it, then he acts it out by himself while I say it, and finally he says it by himself while we both act it out. So far this is working well for us.
We’ve been going on short nature walks during co-op and B has a few watercolor drawings in his nature notebook from those outings. I also try to take us out on a nature hike on Fridays during the weeks that we don’t have co-op, but there were several weeks where we didn’t have that Friday to spare either due to needing an extra day of school or something else planned, so we didn’t get out as often as I wanted. It’s much colder now, but I’d still like to get out as often as we can this term.
At home, went through all of our birds for Term 1, learning quite a bit on the way both from The Handbook of Nature Study as well as YouTube videos we watched each week (and a few random activities that fit like owl pellets). This term we’re covering mammals in the following order (with links to the appropriate units on the Handbook of Nature Study site):
- Woodchucks/Prairie Dogs
Nature Anatomy, Farm Anatomy, and the cookbook stand I ordered before the beginning of the year have come in so handy for this. At the beginning of each week, I find whatever bird/mammal we happen to be covering that week in either Nature Anatomy or Farm Anatomy and leave that page open on the book holder the whole week. It keeps our animals in the front of our minds and I think makes the school table look nice. I can also slide our RightStart whiteboard into the stand in front of the book for the times that I need to use that also. The whole setup works really well.
I made a little personal timeline for B covering each quarter of his life since he was born. The more recent quarters have been easy for him to come up with something to draw in each square, but as we’ve moved back further, this has become more of a challenge. I’ve started going into the photo archives on my computer each week and picking out a few photos from that time period that covered a major (or sometimes somewhat-major) event, eg. birthdays, holidays, family trips, etc. Then I print them out and let B choose which one he’d like to do. This has been an exercise in neatness for us as he tends to rush through this exercise and his drawings, which he is normally meticulous about, are messy. I’m hoping this not only gives him a good idea of the passage of time and the concept of the “past” (as timelines are supposed to do), but also that he can slow down a bit and be more careful with his work.
Recitation is also going beautifully. He has memorized each poem we’ve covered by the end of each month, so we have 3 under our belts for this year so far. I also started writing down the poems we’ve memorized already in a notebook so it’s easier to go back and review them during Morning Time.
A few weeks ago, our homeschool co-op had a family night where we shared a meal and all the kids (and a few parents 🙂 ) were able to get up in front of the other kids and sing a song, play music on violins/pianos/drums, recite a poem, or recite Bible verses. B didn’t participate this time because he wanted to get an idea of what it was like first, but for our next family night, which happens in April, he’s planning to recite one of the poems he has memorized.
For this term, we memorized the following in December:
A Christmas Carol
by Christina Rossetti
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak midwinter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass* and camel
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part,—
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.
* I’m a prude and turn this to donkey. 🙄
This month, we’re memorizing this (we also have a beautiful book version of this poem):
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
And February will be this:
by Eleanor Farjeon
What worlds of wonder are our books!
As one opens them and looks,
New ideas and people rise
In our fancies and our eyes.
The room we sit in melts away,
And we find ourselves at play
With some one who, before the end,
May become our chosen friend.
Or we sail along the page
To some other land or age.
Here’s our body in the chair,
But our mind is over there.
Each book is a magic box
Which with a touch a child unlocks.
In between their outside covers
Books hold all things for their lovers.
We covered Rembrandt in Term 1 with most of it being done during co-op meetings every other week and a few pieces discussed during Morning Time. I’m still keeping the prints propped up on our school table on an easel, so they’re always in front of him which I think is a good way to contribute to those “whole galleries of mental pictures.” 🙂
Easy Origami (purchased from Amazon for $2.87)
We started at home doing some sloyd work from Paper Sloyd: A Handbook for Primary Grades at the beginning of Term 1, but then in co-op we were working on origami with homework assignments during the weeks that we didn’t meet for co-op. So I ended up skipping the sloyd and sticking with origami. I’m a little tempted to go back and do more sloyd, but after having read this series of articles, and now that I’m actually teaching this subject to the lower forms during co-op for this term as well, I think we’ll just stick with the origami for now.
In Term 1, for Composer Study, we learned about Jean-Baptiste Lully, who I had actually never heard of before this year. During co-op time, we listened to his Te Deum and watched one of his operas (Cadmus and Hermione), which was entertaining with younger kids who especially liked the dragon. 🙂 This Term, we’re covering Bach, beginning with his Magnificat.
For Folksongs, we learned Marie’s Wedding and Simple Gifts. Ironically, before we were accepted into the co-op last summer, I had planned out all of our folksongs according to the AO schedule but had substituted a few, including Simple Gifts. In Term 2, we’ll be learning Over the Hills and Far Away (not to be mistaken with the Led Zeppelin version) and Yankee Doodle.
The hymns we covered in Term 1 included Fairest Lord Jesus and Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (which we actually learned last year). For Term 2, we’re learning How Sweet and Aweful is the Place (the version I linked to is so pretty) and From All That Dwell Below the Skies.
In terms of memorizing these, it’s been a little hit or miss. This used to bother me, but after listening to The Mason Jar Podcast on Morning Time, I felt a little better when Cindy Rollins mentioned that memorization was never her goal, she just wanted them to be singing or humming along if they could.
We finished all of the books except Peter Pan and The Red Fairy Book, so we’re obviously going to need some more reading material for the coming months. 😳
I didn’t do exams at all last year and wasn’t sure I was going to do them this year but after having read a few things about them, I thought it might be worth a try. I used the AO examples but substituted in a few areas where we either didn’t read the book or didn’t read according to the AO schedule (mainly Trial and Triumph and Bible). Admittedly, I had some trepidation going into the exam as I always felt like B has a hard time retaining stuff beyond a day or so and we both struggle when he won’t narrate (or just sits there saying “and” over and over again while he tries to remember). But he surprised me and did really well, including singing a few songs (which are permanently saved on my phone now ❤) in Spanish and English. It did reinforce, though, that I need to be better about helping him remember names…..that’s an area we really need to work on. We’ll definitely be doing this again for Term 2.
Term 2 Additions
For the most part, Term 2 will look the same as Term 1 other than a few small additions. Now that I have a good idea of the time we need to get things done (just about 2 hours) and how to roll through things smoothly, I’m looking into adding Swedish Drill, though I’m not sure if this will be for Term 2 or Term 3.
Another big thing that I really, really think we need to work on his emotions. B has a really hard time talking about his feelings and when he’s emotionally hurt or feels sad or lonely or frustrated or any negative emotion, really, he gets very angry and starts lashing out. This makes teaching especially hard as he feels like he has to have the right answer for everything and if anything is too hard (especially math) or he’s corrected on something, he becomes very rude and difficult to deal with.
I saw this Time-In Toolkit that emphasizes self-regulation, mindfulness, and sensitivity not being a bad thing (as we’re so often taught to believe, especially for men), mentioned in several places, so I got in on the Kickstarter offer and we received our kit just before Christmas. Originally I thought we’d mostly implement it outside of school time, but the calming corner has definitely been used during school time when things get “bumpy” (as B says). It came with a PeaceMakers card game that we do for just a few minutes during morning time. We then hang the cards on the fridge and review them during lunch and breakfast the next morning. A few quotes from the accompanying manual were definitely selling points for me and fit so well within a Charlotte Mason view:
When education is organized around our experiences, we are empowered to be active participants in our learning, making meaning of these experiences rather than passively absorbing facts, data and information.
We can make connection a habit, aligning action with intuition supported by emotions, evidence, and reason alike. (Generation Mindful Time-In Toolkit Manual)
If nothing else, I’m hoping it helps me regulate myself more rather than just yelling. During the first term, I was alone with the kids a lot and got very, very little time to myself due to E’s workload. That makes for a very frazzled mama and my patience was running short most of the time. Admittedly, when I saw this kit, I partially bought it because I’m desperate to stop monster mom from coming out as often as she does!
And so now we move on to Term 2!