Monday, November 30, 2020

Ambleside Online Y2

 Well we are wrapping up another year of Ambleside Online and I am going to document my thoughts here probably with way too much detail to be interesting to anyone but an AO user.  Mostly I want to be able to look back this in a couple years when I've completely forgotten what I've done! 

    Copywork - we are in book D of Getty-Dubay Italic writing.  I have found that this provides very good instruction for writing, but very poor for spelling.  Towards the end of the year I started introducing a more classic copywork from the reading approach which is beginning to help with spelling.  I also do lowkey spelling tests from the 1st grade list.  

    Reading Practice - Since I have a great reader to work with I would just have her read out loud to me from the books scheduled.  By the end of the year she had completely taken over the Seabird readings herself.  She also read "parts" of Pilgrim's Progress.  Whichever part was shortest of course!

    Recitation - This is an area I can probably do better in.  I would have her read "beautifully" the same poem from our poet of the semester for a month, then move on to the next one.  She enjoyed Rossetti the most.  Every poem she heard was one she wanted for recitation!

    Math - We did Right Start C this year.  For the first time we aren't finishing the book in a single year.  Although we will be pretty close.  I intend to just continue until we are done.  While this book did introduce subtraction, I was surprised at how little it was practiced.  I saw that a great deal more comes in the review for D so I continue to have faith that this is the right program for us.  This was the first book where we did drawing on the drawing board, and this was enjoyed immensely.  I'm grateful I had the correct tools available and didn't cobble something together though, as I can imagine that being more frustrating than it would be worth.

    Spanish - We continue to make things up for Spanish.  Salsa and Little Pim are old favorites. is used occasionally but she doesn't enjoy it.  !Arte y Mas! is a new favorite.  We read the Little Bear books in Spanish and still try to incorporate speaking in daily life.  Now that she knows as much as my 4 years taught me I don't feel like I can lead this learning very well anymore.  So more outside resources find their way in.  

    Physical Activity - This has been a hard one.  We started the year loving dance, gymnastics and ice skating.  Once Covid lock down occurred we were left with riding bikes.  A fair amount of play still happens, and recess is a must, but the sports side is empty for now.

    Art - An area I am completely out of my depth.  Art Class growing up was being told how I did something wrong.  So I compensate by leaving the direction wide open. She had a paint by number canvas.  We did the first few lessons from Drawing with Children.  We do pastels with And tried out a couple how to draw Youtube videos.  Nothing too structured, but she pursues her own interests here.

    Timeline - I know I shouldn't have but I just couldn't do the timeline deal.  We are still using the 100 grid homemade book of centuries from last year.  I think we will through year 3 at least, maybe through 6.  I'll upgrade it to a nice one at some point.

    Handicrafts - Paper Sloyd! I was so intimidated by this book at first.  The instructions seemed scant.  Expectations high.  It's been great.  She loves it and I definitely credit it for making the geometry drawing lessons in math so easy.  I'm so glad we ended up doing this, and it's providing built in ideas for Christmas gifts.  So wins all around!

    Folksongs we have done as scheduled.  I try and get them from the library on CD whenever possible to play on my ipod wherever we go.  Same with composer music.

    Nature Study - This one got hard during Covid, and then harder after the derecho.  Our local parks are still filled with debris! Fortunately Spencer really leaned into this with road trips almost every weekend visiting surrounding state parks.  We also formed a local Nature Club that has helped lend consistency to my haphazard scheduling.

    Art Study and Composer Study have been as scheduled.  Can I say Thank you to the Met for the free daily operas!  We did the Wheeler books for a couple of composers and honestly I haven't been as impressed with these books as I had hoped to be.  They are simplistically written and leave out any hints of controversal or even interesting life moments while glossing over things that need to be elaborated on. Just not my style I guess.

    History - An Island Story - Read as scheduled - Love it. Child's History of the World - Read as Scheduled  - good, I wish we had read some of the skipped early chapters.  I'll probably add those in for my next student.  They cover some of the groundwork that I think would make early readings in Y1 make more sense. We did not use This Country of Ours at all.  We used D'aulaire for Leif the Lucky and Columbus.  We also supplemented with History or US by Joy Hakim.  Reading from the beginning to Columbus.  I think it is important that children are introduced to US history prior to Europeans setting foot here.  There were thriving civilizations here that deserve attention.  And this was my way of providing that.  Hakim's book isn't great but it does starting with Beringia the land bridge and introduce various peoples.  I also bought a book Legends of the Iroquois by Tehanetorens that we read as bedtime stories, no narrations, again just appreciating the cultures that were here.

    History Tales/Biography - Tales and Triumph was as scheduled.  The Little Duke there is a great map from the AO forums that we used.  I printed the Anne White study guide but didn't use it.  My girl was so sad when this book was over. Joan of Arc as scheduled.

    Geography - Read Tree in the Trail and Seabird as scheduled.  As mentioned she took over the reading of Seabird.  We focused on Western states for Map study while reviewing the upper midwest. For Seabird we followed places mentioned in the book and reviewed continents.  In retrospect I should have done Oceans.  We built Dad's model of the sun to Earth with a flashlight to look at how the earth moves around the sun as well as the axis tilt and how that effects seasons. We used his science model to build a pulley and see how that works. We looked at and used a compass as well as measured shadows to see how comparing shadows throughout the day can help make a compass.

    Nature Studies - We didn't finish Burgess Animal Book, and continue to read a chapter a week through break.  The printed picture of the animals found in the forum were great, and while it does feel like the section on mice will never end, it was appreciated more than the Bird Book.  Maybe because we are growing. We did also use the taxanomy key linked in the footers on AO to sort the pictures and discuss why things were sorted the way they are.

    Poetry - we tried to read one a day - but not always succeeding.  We used Living Press books for De La Mare and Rossetti.  We had a book on Whitcombe Riley. And printed the AO booklet for Field.  I don't think any of our recitations came from Riley, but we did have some for the other three.

    Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare was another hit.  I don't think we found videos for any of this years selections, and I think Midsummer is still her favorite.  

    Parables from Nature is still a groaner, although we enjoyed it more than in year 1. 

    Pilgrim's Progress took turns being a favorite and a groaner.  Toward the end it was tough to read because plot gave way to conversation.  The Orion's gate CD's are a hit, and make great time passers on road trips if the driver can stay awake!  

    Literature Selections of Understood Betsy, Wind in the Willows, and Robin Hood were all great reads.  We are still doing Robin Hood on break with a free audio from that is great (although the reader is a bit fast-pased.)  I was surprised to enjoy Wind in the Willows, but it turns out all previous reads I had an abridged book!  Reading it in full is a MUST.

    Heidi junior deluxe edition is a poor translation - so next time we will do Wordsworth.

    A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales were the surprise favorite! Although I did use an audio book just because it was a lot for my voice to do out loud.

    Five Little Peppers was trudged through as an independent read - she loved parts but on the whole doesn't want to ever read it again. Mary Poppins was also read independently, she enjoyed it but not enough to want to read the sequel. Abraham Lincoln was read independently and enjoyed immensely.  Maybe due to pictures, but this one has come off the shelf since for free time perusals.

    Hans Christian Andersen, Mr. Poppers Penguins, Little House on the Prarie, Farmer Boy, Along Came a Dog, and Door in the Wall were read as bedtime stories. Brighty of the Grand Canyon was read with friends and enjoyed by all.

    Pied Piper was read during Poetry Time one day.  From the old Childcraft poetry book.  Much love was given.

    We have hopes to read Five Children and It, Otto of the Silver Hand, and Chanticleer and the Fox over break.  We do not intend to read the Story of Doctor Dolittle, because I just happened to pick it up to pre-read it and really felt that the racism in it is beyond a conversation about "different times" or what my 7 year old is ready for right now.  I'll leave it on the shelves, and curious minds may find it someday.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A look at our week

 Here is a look at how I have organized myself to do Kindergarten with V this year.  I have based a good deal on the advice of other homeschooling moms at the forums of Ambleside Online and I encourage anyone struggling to take the time to read that information.  I am totally new at homeschooling, but so far this method is working for us.
Last weeks schedule.

I've been a bullet journal user for a while. It's been the easiest way for me to keep track of all my scribbled papers and to look back and remember what I am always forgetting.  So integrating my homeschool schedule with my bullet journal was important to me.  Pictured above is our week at a glance.  At the top (mostly out of the picture) is our weekly appointment list.  On the left is the day of the week and date followed by appointments that we have that day.  

Then is our daily work list.  My goal is to do these lessons 5 days a week, so I simply check off items as we complete them in our day.  To the right are things I wish to do weekly.  Followed by a list of all the books we are currently reading.  My goal is to read a chapter in each book weekly to keep them somewhat fresh in our minds. At the bottom are the things that are newly added.  We read Chanticleer and the Fox at the Library so I wrote it and checked it immediately.  Later when I am updating her list of books read I can add it there.  

As far as when I get things done, in V's list of to do's in the morning when she does things such as brush teeth and get dressed we read the Bible and a poem. This way regardless of how the day goes the most important item, and a frequently overlooked item are completed.  While J is at school we try to spend time on either an outdoor or physical activity.  This could be our Nature walk, playing at the park, or swimming at the Y.  After we get J and have lunch, during nap time, we do copywork, math and our readings.  Our copywork is one word a day usually, and the words we copy this week are the words she tries to visualize and spell next week. Then V does art, handiworks, or piano independently.  The music we play during meals, or playtime.  We sing together when we go for walks as the current folk and hymn are ones I happen to already know.  Her memorization verses are written in her notebook which she carries in her backpack, so anytime in the morning when we have down time she pulls it out to practice.  Sometimes, we don't have time to do it all, and honestly I don't worry about it.  My priorities right now are building good habits, and spending time outside.  If anything I think she spends too much time on schoolwork.  But when she is after me all day to "do school" I have plenty of things to choose from.

Meanwhile, J loves school still.  She loves getting her own snack (no surprise there) and she has a lot of fun playing outside.  Her teachers and peers have been after her about her finger sucking, so hopefully we see a reduction in that soon.  Otherwise she hasn't had any bad days yet!  I worried about her one day when there was a thunder storm, and the teachers confirmed that she was upset at the first boom, but after seeing that her friends didn't react she was calm for the rest of the storm.  So perhaps that fear will resolve itself.  While she still comes home quite tired, when she wakes she is excited to play all her new games with Sis.

If you have questions, or if you have suggestions on things I haven't considered please comment below. 

A "story" she wrote during free time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Day 1 is in the books . . . well kinda

There they are - ready to conquer the world!

School year for 2018-19 is officially begun.  J. wore her new school outfit - and loved it.  She wasn't too sure about the belt at first, but it grew on her.  She didn't want to take it off to go to bed!  Seems like the first day we always have just a bit too much time to get ready in the morning.  We could have left an hour early, easily!  We picked up S. on the way so he could be there, he snapped a couple pictures at the school, then in we went.  J. stopped to chat with the receptionist on her way by, wanted to make sure she saw how cool her PJ Masks backpack was.  Then she found her locker no problem.  After getting some help from her teacher Ms. Sara on putting away her water bottle she immediately found some work and sat down by Dixie.  S. and I said good-bye to her back, and she responded bye without turning around  The next time I saw her was at pick-up and she was exhausted!  Kid was so tired I didn't think she'd make it through lunch.  And for J. that's saying something.

The kinda part came in on V.  Last night she had a fever, said her knees hurt, and had a headache.  She was super low energy, and low appetite.  After some meds she crashed for the night.  So we didn't go into today expecting a whole lot.  She wanted to get dressed up for her school pictures so there she is venturing into the world with Sis.  She endured J's drop-off like a champ, maybe because she didn't have the energy to fight it. And ran a couple errands with me before she was too tired to go on.  When we got home she laid down and looked at picture books for an hour or so before having the energy to do school.  I didn't push her at all, but I think when she was too supremely bored to stand it she would come ask to do something.  So in little spurts throughout the day we got her calendar set up, decided on some pre-drop off chores, and did a bit of Bible, reading, and math.  We sang a folk song when walking to pick up J. and she listened to some classical during quiet time.  She didn't have the health for much physical activity so not a lot of outdoor time, but for a sick day I'd say we did pretty well.  We'll see how she's feeling tomorrow.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Kindergarten for Smoochie

With September fast approaching we are getting more and more ready for school, but not exactly the way we had planned.  

J will be starting preschool at the same Montessori school V attended. In fact right now we anticipate her being in the same classroom that V was in, with one of the same teachers.  Hopefully this means a tear free beginning, and an easy transition.  J was very excited for the open house days and while I am not sure if she completely understands V won't be there, other friends will quickly distract her.

The surprise for the coming year is V. I've decided to homeschool her for Kindergarten, and if we get along fairly well to continue homeschooling her for the foreseeable future.  Surprising, right? Around Christmas last year I was looking for a book list, a couple actually. I wanted a list for me to use at the library, but I also wanted one for the girls of those great kids books one really shouldn't miss.  As I wandered the interwebs I found AmblesideOnline. It is a booklist from K - 12 that I fell in love with.  The books on there that I was familiar with were all favorites, which means the ones I wasn't familiar with would probably be pretty great.  It broke things out by year so I could read to her without overwhelming her. And I pretty much fell in love with everything I read.  At first I just planned to use these books as bedtime and family reading stories.  But the more I learned the more I felt that this was something I really needed to fully embrace.  So here we are becoming a homeschool family. 

V. seems to be excited about the idea of spending more one on one time with Mom, but whether she really understands she wont be going to a classroom full of friends remains to be seen.  She is such easy disposition when it comes to sitting down and doing lesson that it really makes the idea of it less overwhelming for me.

Will we love it? I don't know.  What I am certain of is if I didn't give it a try I would forever be looking back and wondering. So here we go.

If you are curious about what exactly we are doing check out the AmblesideOnline website.  We have already finished the Year 0 books.  Year 1 is intended for 6 year olds, so we are doing a modified year 0.5 that is discussed in the forums.  We will officially start Year 1 next year between January and April depending on how things are going.  Meantime there will be lots of nature study, handicrafts, poetry and RightStart math lessons. Year 1 free reads, spanish, piano lessons and art projects.  

If your have questions or concerns about how we plan to make this work - or things that I may be overlooking - let's chat!

If you love bookstores as much as I do and want some titles to look out for here are a the ones for Year 1 that we haven't been able to find a hard copy of locally.   However, they are all either available at our local library or through the public domain to read on the ipad.
  • Benjamin Franklin     Ingri D'Aulaire  
  • Buffalo Bill      Ingri D'Aulaire
  • A Child's Book of Poems     Gyo Fujikawa
  • King of the Golden River     John Ruskin

Monday, March 20, 2017

They say every kid is different

Veda finds an acorn hat.

Me: Did you find a treasure?

Veda: YES! (Proceeds to save cap to show Daddy, finds a box to keep it in, collects more caps to compare them.  Starts to collect acorns to find ones that will fit with the caps.)

Jovi finds an acorn hat.

Me: Did you find a treasure?

Jovi looks at me like I'm crazy takes the acorn hat from the sidewalk and throws it in the bushes.