Saturday, June 16, 2018

Ambleside Online Year 2 In Review

Ambleside Online Year 2 in review

We have officially ended our 2017-2018 school year.  I declared the kids on summer break and sent their portfolios to the reviewer.

We didn't quite finish our AO readings before I made the call, but since they were doing other curriculum before the switch to AO, they definitely got in a full year.  I wanted to make the transition to summer break before any tired or frustration set in, because that's not the attitude I want any of the kids to have about "school" or their education.  I did ask the kids to share their favorites with me and take a picture with all their AO books I could quickly round up--poetry, some free reads and audio books, and a couple of books the puppy destroyed are missing.  I wanted them to see the feast, see all of their hard work, so to speak!  I noticed after the fact, someone has been messing with my canvas map and those wrinkles need some attention.  *ahem* Now I thought I'd share how Emory's Ambleside Online Year 2 went overall, and how we're going to wrap up the year informally this summer and early next year.

Bible/Church History
We did not do the Bible Readings, as we do our AWANA books during school time.  We also did not read Trial and Triumph; I am going to put that into family rotation at some point.

Our Island Story - We read this book together most weeks, though occasionally he would read it independently.  We both really liked this one!  We read all but the last two scheduled readings, and after skimming, I think I'll just make sure to read the part about transitioning from the Plantagenets to Tudors when we start back up next year.

A Child's History of the World - We liked this book as well.  It's an easier read, and he read this independently more frequently.  We got in all the scheduled readings, so we'll pick up on schedule with this for Y3.

This Country of Ours - We read the chapter on the Vikings in term one since we'd read Leif the Lucky last year, but if I'd remembered that Part II of Viking Tales was an option, I might have used it.  I don't think it matters much, though.  When I knew we were going to cut out the weeks with the Columbus chapters at the end of Term 3, I pulled out the alternative Christopher Columbus book thinking he could use it as a free read, but he remembered nearly all of it from last year, and could narrate it fairly well, so I let it go.  The last scheduled chapter about how America was named was skipped, but we can read that as a free read at the beginning of next year.

The Little Duke - We enjoyed this book!  I felt like the pacing could have been picked up a little, especially at the end with shorter chapters.  Emory really appreciated the friendship between the Duke and Prince Carloman, so the ending touched him, though not enough to cry like his momma.

Joan of Arc - He was fascinated with this story!  Although he knew the outcome, as the history readings covered it before we finished the book, he was intrigued and really enjoyed it.

Timeline/Mapping - We did not do a timeline this year, but I did keep a timeline of Kings in his binder.  (They're timeline cards, but we didn't cut them out.)  I did try to do look at maps when we remembered or needed clarification.

Before switching to Ambleside Online, I had purchased the Geography maps and guide from Beautiful Feet Books.  Since I already had the large maps, and one of the Y2 books, I put both boys together for Geography.  Although we didn't do all of the extra stuff in the guide, I loosely followed the reading schedule.

Tree in the Trail - He did not love this book.  I don't know if it was the book itself, or the map, or the pacing.  He's not a fan of coloring, either, as you can see.

Seabird - He liked this book more.  We still read faster than the AO schedule, but we slowed it way down overall.  This map was a little better at first, though I think more boarder lines would have made it easier for him.  He's on the young end of the recommended age range for this course, so that could have been a factor as well.

Natural History
The Burgess Animal Book - For part of the year, he claimed this was his favorite book.  He loves animals, so I knew he would enjoy the year's science.  He did some drawings, but he really liked having the coloring pages and looking the animals up on video or in the field guide.  We only have a few chapters left, so he's finishing those up on his own as a free read.

Nature Study - We didn't intentionally follow the AO nature study schedule, but ended up studying the three scheduled topics anyway.

  • Birds - he did some of the Burgess bird book over the summer and early this school year by request, he's devoured our bird field guides, and we put up a bird feeder for better backyard observations
  • Mammals - He studied these through his AO science, his language arts book (has light nature study) and of course all the mammals in our house and on the farm (dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, cows, rabbits), particularly the care of his new puppy
  • Wildflowers/flowerless plants - We've made it a point to learn a few wildflowers by name, and we've use an identification app, just to notice what grows around us on the farm; we didn't go particularly in-depth though 
Of course there has been a lot of informal and impromptu nature study on many topics, as this is one of his favorite subjects and activities.  He wants to be a zoologist, and he wants to live in Brazil and explore the rainforests.  He will pick up and examine any critter he can find!

Channie's Easy Peasy Cursive and Memoria Press's New American Cursive 2
Language Lessons for Children
We did copywork of verses, quotes and literature passages, while he also learned cursive.  Then we got Language Lessons to review.   It is a complete language arts program for 2nd/3rd grade, and is appropriate beyond that as well.  It uses living books, narration, copywork, recitation, dictation, and light phonics/spelling review.  It also includes picture study and nature study.  We received it late in the year, so he only did Book 1, which uses Aesop's Fables.  He really enjoyed it, and I liked not having to come up with copywork passages.  He is looking forward to finishing Books 2 and 3 next year.  

Although grammar wasn't really required, we did do a small unit with our Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 review.  We'll transfer the remainder of the curriculum to next year (4th grade) when most CM programs suggest starting grammar.

Emory has worked through CTCMath 3rd Grade, and he's done really well with it.  He transitioned to it a little later than Elliott, so he still has a handful of lessons left, but we'll work a couple days each week after we recover from VBS to finish off and keep skills fresh over the summer.  We've also used Xtra Math to drill math facts.

Foreign Language
Spanish was sporadic and hardly worth mentioning.  Maybe next year.

We didn't follow the AO rotation, as we'd already started poetry as a family when we switched over.

  • A.A. Milne:  a little juvenile-better suited for Y0-Y1 as listed
  • Shel Silverstein:  Funny, the kids loved!
  • Walter de la Mare: He is a Y2 poet, but we didn't read as much as I'd hoped, so we'll read more over the summer hopefully 


Shakespeare - We didn't follow the AO schedule, but we did get in a few stories.  "A Midsummer Night's Dream," (Lamb) and two retellings by Bruce Coville: "The Tempest" and "Romeo and Juliet."  Emory loved these stories and did excellent narrations!

Parables from Nature - We did okay with these first term, but second term was a struggle and we set them aside for the year.  I'm debating on doing them as scheduled next year, or turning this into a family read.

Pilgrim's Progress Book 1: Christians' Journey - We actually used Little Pilgrim's Progress, and I did this as a lunchtime read, since Elliott has never read it, and Eleanor could get familiar with it.  We have a few chapters to finish up, but everyone likes it!

Understood Betsy - Emory was kind of ambivalent about this book, but I adored it!  I can't wait to read it again with the girls!

The Wind in the Willows - I was the one ambivalent about this book, but I knew Emory would love it.  He ended up choosing it as his favorite!   *poop poop*

Robin Hood - This one could have been a contender for favorite, I imagine, but we changed Elliott's reading schedule, thinking he would join Emory for this book.  Trying to get them back together for just one more reading at the end of the day was like herding cats, so this book didn't happen.  The AO schedule says to finish it over the summer anyway, so . . . After we get through VBS, we'll start fresh, maybe making this our lunchtime read.

Composer Study
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Ludwig van Beethoven
John Williams
Music Appreciation Book 1 {we reviewed, but I'll use supplementary to composer study next year}

Picture Study
Claude Monet
Leonardo da Vinci
Peter Paul Rubens
We received the Monet picture study portfolio to review, and it was our first real picture study.  They loved it!  He chose a Monet as his favorite, though I genuinely expected him to choose a da Vinci or Rubens.  I love when they surprise me!

Hymns/Folk Songs
We didn't follow the AO hymn rotation for long, but we did essentially follow the Folk Songs for the 2017-2018 year.  He said his favorite hymn was "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus" and his favorite Folk Song was "Camptown Races."

This year we did one per month as suggested, and we focused on listening and appreciating, since it was new.  Next year I think we'll focus on them a little longer, so we can truly learn all of them together.

I wasn't as intentional about art or handicrafts this year as I should have been.  I was just happy they were taking art at co-op.  We did do a handful of drawing lessons with See the Light, a few random handicraft activities (origami, clay) and we finished up our ArtAchieve lessons!

Independent Reads
Ambleside has a great free read list for each year, and I use it for reference, but I'm more flexible with this category.  We no longer call them "free reads" either, because that gives the impression that they have free reign over what they read.  The truth is, when we have quiet/independent reading, the book has to be chosen with me.  They have true free reads on their own time.  So here are a few of those independent reads.

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo
No Biting, No Fighting by Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak
The Long Journey Westward by Joan Sandin
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh
Tornado by Betsy Byars
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
James Herriot's Treasury for Children by James Herriot
What is the President's Job? by Allison Singer
Dolphin Man: Exploring the World of Dolphins by Laurence Pringle
My First Animal Encyclopedia (any sections desired)
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
A Weed is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver by Aliki
George Washington by Cheryl Harless
Young George Washington: America's First President by Andrew Woods
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Animals Who Have Won our Hearts by Jean Craighead George
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling {currently in progress}

I'll share more about family reads/audio books in another post.

His "extras" this year included a variety of field trips, church activities (Junior Church, Junior Choir, Sunday School, AWANA, etc.) , and co-op.  His classes at co-op this year were Art, Literature and Science, and he elected to take a basketball class before co-op as well.

Final Thoughts
I have been very happy with our transition to Ambleside.  Emory has thrived with the history and science, and did well with most of the literature.  He went back and forth on his favorite books most of the year.  He's not keen on geography yet, but I think next year's selection will fit him really well.  His reading ability skyrocketed this year, and he did well in 3rd grade math.  When I went back and looked over this post, it looks like such a long list of stuff, but when you think about all the wonderful stories, the beautiful pictures, the music . . . it truly is opening their eyes to the world around them and giving them a beautiful feast.  I was very happy with placing him in Y2 and I can't wait to see what Y3 holds for us!

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