Saturday, June 23, 2018

Ambleside Online Year 4 In Review

Ambleside Online Year 4 in review


I recently shared (AO Y2 in review) that we have officially ended the 2017-2018 school year, though we're still working on a few things here and there to wrap up some loose ends.  When we looked back over the year, I was very happy with our transition to Ambleside.

Just as I did with his brother, I asked Elliott to look over everything and think about his favorites from the year.  Even if they don't see the feast in the same way I do, I want them mulling over and thinking about these books and their ideas, and I know the seeds are planted.

When we called the year complete, we had about 5 weeks left on the AO reading schedule.  A few things, I'm not concerned with, and a few things can be worked out this summer, I think.  So now it's time to share our thoughts on Y4 and the books, and what our plans are going forward with books that continue into next year.


Bible/Church History
We did not do the AO Bible readings, mostly because we do AWANA during school hours--that includes Bible readings, study and memorization.  We didn't do Trial and Triumph, because with the age ranges of my kids and the long use of this book across the curriculum, there will be a few years I'll have three children in this book at one time.  I'm thinking it will be easier to just put it on the family rotation soon.


History
This Country of Ours - He read this book along with the librivox audio.  The chapters were usually short, but it was his last choice every week.  We are going to miss out on a few chapters, but I skimmed them and don't feel it will affect next year's history.  He certainly won't mind.  We will continue to use this book next year, but I'm considering how to approach it differently so he doesn't lose enthusiasm when it comes back out.

George Washington's World - I though this book was interesting, but a bit disjointed.  He still narrated it well most of the time.  We did like that the weekly readings could easily be broken down into five short passages.  We do four day weeks, so we always combined two shorter ones.  I'm going to skim the last few weeks of reading material from this book to decide what he should 'free read' or we should discuss before starting back next year.

Poor Richard - We didn't use this book.

Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia - I already owned it, it's a living book, and it fit neatly into the AO schedule.  Being new to AO and a heavy reading schedule, I think having this book was a good choice for him.  He gave good narrations for the most part, and we used this book for a couple of written narrations as well.

Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution -  He read a couple chapters independently, then asked me to read it to him.  He gave decent narrations, but this is one of the books he didn't particularly love, and we got far enough that I will not require him to finish it.  I think I am going to finish it myself though!

Timeline/Book of Centuries - Neither boy did timelines, and I didn't have Elliott start a BOC yet.  Because of the level of thoughtfulness and neatness required for a BOC, I'm thinking I will have him start in Y6 when the history rotation starts over.

Geography
I decided early on to combine the boys for Geography since I already had the maps. It made more sense to do Y2 (two Holling books instead of just one, plus I wouldn't have to figure out Y4 geography for Emory down the road) so Elliott did those books.  We used the maps from Beautiful Feet Books, though we didn't exactly follow the guide - mostly just the mapping and a few drawings.

Tree in the Trail - He liked this book, and gave quality narrations.  He even said geography was one of his favorite subjects at one point.

Seabird - He liked this book too.  He's not much for coloring, obviously, and neatness isn't a forte, especially with these larger maps, but understanding and appreciation for the topics being learned are my goals.



Map Drills - We use the seterra website that is recommended on AO.  He enjoys this, and works at beating his previous scores.

Science

Madam How and Lady Why - We used this book as scheduled for 15 weeks, before he suddenly asked to replace it.  His reasonings didn't have to do with "boring" or "hard" and it wasn't about just giving up on the book or topic (unlike history) so I honored his request.

Rocks, Rivers and the Changing Earth: A First Book about Geology - This is the book we used instead.  I found the title on the AO forum.  I know it can't replace everything unique about MHLW, but he found this book very engaging, gave excellent narrations, and enjoyed the activities.  Since we started it later in the year, it was easy to spread it out enough to carry two years like MHLW, but I may have him work on this as a free read over the summer, to lighten his Y5 load a little, since we would like to maintain 4 day weeks.

The Storybook of Science - He read this with audio, and narrated well.  We found it a solid mix of familiar information and "new but random" factoids.  We didn't finish the last few weeks, but this is one of those books that can be left unfinished without consequence, or he can finish over the summer if he chooses.

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas - This book is scheduled in one week, because it's a picture book biography.  He read it alone and narrated well.  It's a good book for a written narration too.

The Ocean of Truth - We didn't use this.

Isaac Newton: The Scientist Who Changed Everything - Already owned; It doesn't appear to be of the same caliber as Ocean of Truth, but being an easier read was a good thing for this year with a non-bookish kid.  I'll definitely keep Ocean of Truth on my radar for the next round.

Nature Study
He isn't quite as hands-on as his brother, but he does like using different apps to identify things.  We didn't intentionally follow AO's rotation, but we did loosely/informally study the three main topics of the year:
  • Birds - He's been active in birdwatching with us this year, and we put up a bird feeder to assist
  • Mammals - He's watched some of the videos we've watched to go along with Y2 science, and we have many mammals as pets and on the farm for observation
  • Wildflowers/Flowerless Plants - We were intentional this spring about observing and identifying some wildflowers 

Poetry
We didn't follow the AO poetry rotation, because we were already doing poetry together when we started.
  • AA Milne: quite a bit juvenile for him - definitely suited for Y0/1 as listed
  • Shel Silverstein:  The boys loved him!
  • Walter de la Mare: He was a Y2 poet, and we didn't read as much as we probably should have, so I'll try to read a little more over the summer

Literature

Plutarch - Not this year.

Shakespeare - We didn't start full plays, since the pre-7 list suggests doing retellings with students unfamiliar with Shakespeare.  We did a few stories with Emory.  "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (Lamb's version) and Bruce Coville's retellings of "The Tempest" and "Romeo and Juliet."  He didn't care for Shakespeare, but I am hoping his brother's enthusiasm will rub off!

The Age of Fable - The introduction to this was long and tedious, but once we got into the stories, he did fine, especially since this was his first formal exposure to myths.  He was quite curious as to why they would create these false gods but not create them perfectly.  Interesting discussions followed.  Some of the stories captured his mind much more than others, but I think that's to be expected.  I really like that they are short, so my goal is to transition him to reading with the audio in Y5, then independently by Y6.

Robinson Crusoe - I read it to him, because it was challenging.  The readings were long, so we had to spread the weekly readings out over several days.  He did okay with his narrations, but didn't seem captivated by the story for the most part.

Kidnapped - I tried to get him to read this along with the audio, but he just couldn't gain momentum.  I struggled to read it out loud, so we rearranged the literature schedule.  I decided to have him do Robin Hood with Emory this year, though that's going to be a summer read at this point.  He can do Kidnapped later as a free read.

The Incredible Journey - This book was easy for Elliott to read independently, and he gave excellent narrations.  When we went over favorites, he chose this book.  (I half expected a science book.)

Rip Van Winkle - I read this story to him, because our book is older with tiny font, and I wanted to make sure he was following appropriately.  He understood and followed it well, and gave decent narrations.  

Paul Revere's Ride - We've read the suggested picture book multiple times, so I didn't worry about getting it in; plus Longfellow is a poet for both Y3/Y5 next year, so we'll get to again.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - We didn't get to this last story, but he's familiar with the storyline.  We can get to it as a free read, or when Emory gets to Y4.  



Language Arts

Penmanship/Copywork - He did some review of cursive, and did plenty of copywork.  Handwriting is not a hill I'm willing to die on, though I always encourage improvement and neatness.

Dictation - We used Spelling Wisdom this year.  It's easy to implement, and we will keep using it for now.

Grammar - He did a bit at the beginning of the year, but I just chose to pick some out from his dictation and written narrations occasionally.  We'll hit it full throttle in middle school.

Typing - We used the free www.typing.com for practice, and it works well.

Written Narrations - This was our first year doing written narrations CM style.  I could see a steady progression in his narrations as the months went on, even though we didn't always do them weekly.  I think next year we should hopefully see more improvement as we focus on grammar and he's had more experience with narrations in general.

Mathematics
He used CTC Math, and it was the first year he didn't complain all the way through every math lesson!  He is fairly good at math,  but has always claimed to hate it.  He now chooses to do math FIRST every day!  We're sticking with it!


Foreign Language
Our attempt at Spanish was not worth mentioning, and we didn't start Latin at all.

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
He did really well with our first year of picture study.  He chose Ruben's Daniel and the Lion's Den as his favorite.  I think he liked the intensity of Rubens overall, compared to the tranquil nature of Monet, or the formality of da Vinci.





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 "I'll Fly Away" and his favorite Folk Song was "Camptown Races."

Art/Handicrafts
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!  I think next year we'll just focus on drawing and see where that leads us.
working on a pinch pot

Free Reading
He is a reluctant reader, so although we use the AO free read lists as a starting point, I gave him a lot of flexibility in choosing independent/quiet time reads.  I also let him alternate some easier (high quality picture books) between the chapter books.  He took on a heavier daily reading load for the first time this year with our switch, so I wasn't as strict about daily reading for him.  I think next year, we'll be in a better rhythm with AO, but I'll also plan on doing some free reads in the summer.

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White {he's heard audio before, but read it again.}
The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
The King's Chessboard by David Birch
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
James Herriot's Treasury for Children by James Herriot (select stories)
Footsteps on the Moon by Alexandra Siy
If You Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake by Ellen Levine
The Secrets of Vesuvius by Sara C. Bisel
Who was Elvis Presley? by Geoff Edgers
The Green Ember by S.D. Smith {currently in progress}

We read more as a family, but I'll share those in another post soon.


Extracurriculars
We went on a variety of field trips, and he is involved in church (Junior Church, Junior Choir, VBS, Sunday School, AWANA) and co-op.  At co-op he took gym, art and science, and he elected to take the basketball class as well.  Their are cookouts and




Final Thoughts
If you look at this one way, we "didn't do" a lot of things.  We did, however, exercise perseverance by pushing through things we found difficult.  He was engaged in science, and we read a lot of thought-provoking literature.  I was reminded of how much he likes geography.  Looking at this list, just like Y2, it can fee like a long overwhelming list of books and subjects - but it's so much more.  It represents all the ideas that were planted, all the exposure to the arts, the great discussions we had, and the connections being made.  I am really glad we made the switch back to AO.  While I don't regret the years or books with other curriculum, there is a part of my homeschool heart that does still mourn the "lost years" where we strayed from the purest and simplest elements of Charlotte Mason.  Ahh well, it is what it is.  We're here, and I really want to stick it out this time and reap the benefits!




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