(Please note that I have linked to the book lists on the AO website to respect their licensing terms and the hard work they’ve put into such an amazing curriculum which they offer for free. Books that use affiliate links here are not listed on the AO website.)
It is much to be wished that thoughtful mothers would more often keep account of the methods they employ with their children, with some definite note of the success of this or that plan.CHARLOTTE MASON, HOME EDUCATION
And another year of AmblesideOnline (AO) is in the books! While most of B’s Year 4 was good, parts of it, especially toward the end, were definitely very challenging. I knew going into it that AO offers a Year 3.5 option, but as B was an older Year 4, I was hoping we wouldn’t need to pursue that option. While I don’t regret diving into the Year 4 list, I do think B was probably more of a Year 3.9.
We made the big change this year of having him do some of his readings on his own with me pre-reading. This evolved throughout the year with different books, but overall, I did think this part of it went really well. Toward the end, he was getting to be very good about making sure all of his readings were done by Wednesday or Thursday so I didn’t have to remind him.
I think the hardest part for me was juggling his readings with his sister’s and not having our lesson time go exceptionally late. I tried different things to keep this from happening, but we just couldn’t seem to get started at a good time every day and that pushed everything back. I have hope that this will be better in the fall when he goes into Year 5, and also that the schedule will be easier for him, but I think we do need to make some changes. Whether that’s me eliminating things or him reading more, I’m not sure just yet.
This was also our last year in our homeschool co-op as it ended in May and will not re-start in the fall. I am sad about this as it’s been such a rich and wonderful experience for us at times, but I’m also excited to be able to plan all of the things we do in our homeschool rather than sharing that responsibility with other co-op moms. I am so, so thankful for the experience of being in the co-op over the last four years not only for the relationships that grew from it (for both the kids and me) but also for the very sound footing it gave me in the world of homeschooling. When we started, B was just beginning Year 1 and I was pretty clueless about a lot of it. It was so helpful to be able to see simple things, like other kids narrating, in action so I knew what we should be doing in our own homeschool. I had pictured us being part of this co-op for many years, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
And now on to the recap! Though I do mention other parts of the year, this is mostly about Term 3. You can read also read the recaps for Term 1 and Term 2 as well as our plans at the beginning of the year.
You can see an overview of what Morning Time looked like for us here. For our Morning Time read-aloud this term, we read through part of Dallas Lore Sharp’s The Spring of the Year at just about 5 minutes per week. Because I wasn’t completely consistent with Morning Time, I don’t know if adding this was a good idea or just another “thing” to do, but the kids did enjoy the readings. We also worked on the habit of attention, but, again, consistency with Morning Time made this disjointed and I don’t know how helpful it was.
We did struggle a little with Morning Time this last term especially toward the end because our school days were going later and later, so my quick solution was to skip Morning Time. I also felt like our days went a little more peacefully when we didn’t do it, so I’m trying to figure out how to move forward with that. While I don’t want to get rid of it entirely as that time is when we cover our hymns, folksongs, composer, and picture study, I know something has to change. As Nancy Kelly says, “Keep cutting back until there is peace in your home.” That’s what I aim to do next year.
I’m also torn on continuing with Laying Down the Rails. It worked so, so, so well with “health” and “order,” but for the more abstract ideas, like “courtesy” and “attention,” it’s not as helpful to us. So I may just focus on the more practical habits….it’s a dilemma.
In the Old Testament, we read through most of Joshua, Judges, and part of 1 Samuel this year which covers the early part of Jewish history. B has heard Samuel’s story before through various children’s Bibles, but just the first part. These versions did not include the story of the ark being captured by the Philistines and its subsequent release along with golden frogs and tumors. 🙂 He liked that part especially. He engaged very well with these stories and I am glad he’s getting a good OT history as many of these stories I either don’t remember or never learned.
We also began reading from Acts in the New Testament in Term 3. I think the early church history has been interesting for him to learn as well as he liked hearing how the angels broke the disciples out of prison and how they just kept preaching even though the priests told them not to. Imagine a child of mine liking a story where someone goes against the commands of their “superiors.” 😊 All around, though, I think this has been a good way to help bring home the idea of the power of the Holy Spirit!
We were status quo with This Country of Ours and George Washington’s World this term. I think he struggled a bit with GWW as it covered so many different events and people, but he did get the overall idea of what was happening in the world and how the American Revolution tied in with the French Revolution. I try to keep in mind that he will be covering all of this again when we go through the history cycle a second time, later on, so even if he doesn’t get all of the details now, it’s good he’s getting at least an introduction and general idea of these events.
Abigail Adams was a toss-up for him. I tried to be a little more relaxed with his narrations from this book for this term (I’m slowly reading bits and pieces of Know and Tell right now) and I think that helped. This book also offered us many opportunities for talking about politics and the role of government and things along those lines, which was fantastic.
I continued to read Minn with him this term (as opposed to him reading it on his own) and I think that was a good change. We were able to look at maps together during the readings and see how the concepts discussed in the book played out geographically. When it came time to do his map dill on the weeks we read Minn, I pulled the places he labeled from whatever reading we had done that week. He also filled in his BFB map, which is his last of the set. For the most part, he did well with his answers to the geography part of his exam, so I think these were good changes.
During the weeks that we didn’t read from Minn, his map drill covered the thirteen colonies and I tried to pull these labels from the readings we did from history that week as well.
Natural History and Science
Natural History and Science Booklist Here (we stopped reading Madam How and Lady Why in Term 1)
Living Science Study Guide: Physics-Magnets Form 2
Living Science Study Guide: Physics-Geology Form 2
Mineral Study Kit
Rock Study Kit
Deluxe Geode Kit with Rock Pick
(the living science book lists from Sabbath Mood Homeschool were also invaluable!)
The geology study was an ENORMOUS success this term! I could not have hoped for it to have gone any better. Both kids were very engaged with the object lessons each week and they loved growing crystals and breaking open geodes. B also found most of the readings from The First Book of Earth (which he read on his own – see the link to the geology Living Science Guide above to view the book) to be very interesting as well. Fortunately, we were also able to take a few quick trips this term that tied in so well with what we were learning to Devils Tower, Florissant Fossil Beds, and Capulin Volcano, which just added to the whole experience.
I think having him read a little from Storybook of Science every week this term also helped as the concepts stayed fresher for him and he narrated this book well as opposed to when he just read a chapter every few weeks.
I have mixed feelings about the Isaac Newton biography, which he also read on his own. I honestly didn’t think it was very well written and got to be a little preachy at times. But it wasn’t twaddle-y or too challenging for him, he did learn about Isaac Newton, and he narrated it well, so I don’t regret that we included it.
In co-op this term, we learned about insects, which was probably the most I’ve ever seen my kids engaged in co-op discussions. 😊 They have a bit of a passion for insects, particularly praying mantises, grasshoppers, and crickets (4 of which we currently have living in various containers in our home), so this was right up their alley. Unfortunately, we did not do well with making entries in our nature journals this term, which is another thing I hope to work on next year.
For Special Studies, we did the rock/mineral object lessons I mentioned above in natural history and B also read The Moon of the Owls on his own. In addition, we had the Wild Birds Unlimited barred owl cam on the television when we weren’t doing lessons and followed along as the eggs were laid, hatched, and as the owlets grew and eventually fledged (which was a little sad after going on that journey with them).
B finished copywork excerpts from The Horse and His Boy and moved on to The Incredible Journey for the last part of the term. I think 1 page per day, every other line, was a good pace for him and toward the end of Term 3, he was actually starting to work on his copywork before breakfast was even ready. This was excellent to see as I really hoped this year that he would get into the habit of getting his work done without me having to remind him.
Spelling was hit or miss this term (you can read how we do it here). I could tell when he didn’t really look at the passage well before I covered it up as there were more mistakes in those cases. I tried to be good about finding words that might cause problems but didn’t always catch them all.
Oh, grammar, the bane of B’s existence. This is not a subject he enjoys at all, but we persist because he’s also very resistant to writing. I really do feel that JAG is a good option for us because we can take it at our own pace and it explains the concepts in clear ways. I also appreciate the “Playing With Words” exercises in every section as this has made him start writing. We’ll keep working at it and hopefully, it gets to be easier for him as the book suggests will happen. I am encouraged that he has passed all of his end-of-unit tests so we haven’t had to repeat any, but I do so wish I could make it easier for him as I know that grammar can just be hard.
We did not finish our math lessons before the end of the school year, so we’ll be continuing that through the summer as we did last year. I have every hope that we will be able to finish this book before the new school year, though, and be able to get back on a better routine. I hope.
One thing we struggled with this year was the practice part of the lessons, which was often taking him the entire 30 minutes that we have for math to finish. On days that we finished one lesson and moved on to another in the middle of our 30 minutes, I skipped the practice problems. Toward the end of the term, I also switched things around so that I did his sister’s math first and during that time, had him finish whatever worksheet he was working on or do the practice problems in advance. I debated this as I really did want to keep him to that 30 minutes per day of math, but on the flip side, part of the reason he’s not finishing it sooner is that he dawdles. I really want to get him out of this habit so this is the solution I came up with. We’ll continue this through the summer and see how it goes.
I was also more intentional this year about actually doing the games instead of skipping them as I did often in the past, and I think that really helped him enjoy math time more. Because his sister also started RightStart this year, he was able to join in with her games as well.
Spanish was another area I struggled with for this term. The Wyoming Department of Education took all of their Salsa materials down, so I no longer have access to the extra activities. I’m not sure I should pursue something else at this point (possibly a return to the Cherrydale book?), or continue on with the videos and do our best. I know they’re learning, but I felt that the activities added a good interactive element.
He is doing well in Latin, for the most part, though it is getting to be more challenging as we make our way further into the book. We will be continuing this next year.
As with Dickinson, I think Wordsworth was a little too abstract for B. He didn’t engage with poetry (other than Longfellow’s The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, which we read for literature) much this term.
All of the literature selections this year were excellent and I don’t think there was a single one that we didn’t enjoy or that B didn’t find engaging.
For Shakespeare, he tagged along with his sister’s Lambs’ readings of King Lear and Twelfth Night. He has heard these before as we read them when he was going through Year 1, so I really do want to start reading “real” Shakespeare with him next year. This will be a big step for both of us.
We finished Stories from the History of Rome, which I discovered is actually what was assigned to Form IIa students in Programme 94 instead of Plutarch, so I’m glad we did that instead. I felt like it was a good introduction to ancient Rome and I plan to start Plutarch with him next year.
Book of Centuries
There are many, many entries now in his Book of Centuries in the 18th century, which is neat to see. He does not like drawing in it, so I’m not sure we’ll have many in that area, but at least we’ve got a good start with written entries!
You can read how we did Recitation here. Again this term, I failed to switch out his recitations halfway through. I think I need to have these picked out at the beginning of the term so they don’t get lost in my mid-term disorganization.
We studied the art of Johannes Vermeer this term which I was excited to do as he’s a favorite of mine (I know I saw that a lot). The kids especially noted that his light is always coming from the left and they liked how his subject matter was of “everyday” things. We looked at the following pieces:
- The Little Street (ca. 1657-1658)
- The Milkmaid (ca. 1660)
- Woman Holding a Balance (ca. 1664)
- Girl with a Pearl Earring (ca. 1665-1667)
- The Art of Painting (1665-1668)
- The Love Letter (ca. 1669-1670)
B was pretty much on his own with this one, completing one drawing per week from What to Draw and How to Draw It. I hope to resume brushdrawing next year with better brushes, which I still have not ordered.
This term we listened to the music of Henry Purcell in co-op. I will be teaching composer study next year, which is something I’ve never done. While I’m a little intimidated by this, I’m also looking forward to finding good resources for it.
For our hymns this term, we sang “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” and “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” (which was challenging as I grew up singing it “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” 😊 For folksongs, which I chose for our co-op, we sang “Lavender’s Blue” and “The Parting Glass.” I thought the last one, referencing a tradition offered to guests leaving a house later at night after an evening of visiting, was fitting for our last folksong of the year as well as the co-op.
B is currently going through Unit 8 of Hoffman Academy and I am very happy about the progress he has made as he now knows more about music than I do. He still struggles with playing at the speed of the recordings, so we alter that slightly, but he’s doing very well overall.
The soap carving was so much easier for him and I’m glad we made the switch. I really wish we had started there before I ordered the wood-carving kit, but maybe someday he’ll decide to give that another try as well. He and my husband made all of the wooden popsicle tools outlined in the book and those along with the carving knife he got with the wood-carving kit made carving easier overall. I don’t know that he’ll continue with this as a life-long hobby, but I’m glad we were able to find a way to make carving work for him.
We made it through all of the exercises in Drill Routine option 1 of Swedish Drill Revisited with a review day once per week doing an older routine, and then one day per week of learning and working on a new exercise. This is also something we’ll continue doing next year as it’s a good way to break up our days and get some good movement in.
And that wraps up Year 4!