Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Ambleside Online Year 3 in Review

As always, I like to do a reflection post to look at how our school year went - what books we used and enjoyed (or didn't enjoy), and what we might do differently with younger siblings.  Emory started the year with Ambleside Online Year 3, but we did adjustments along the way as usual.  The beauty of homeschooling is that I get to make the curriculum work for the individual child!  

Social Studies
He enjoyed A Child's History of the World and Our Island Story, and tolerated This Country of Ours. I don't love TCOO and neither does his older brother, and I have to wonder how there is nothing better for this age range that covers the same time period!?

Note: I have a beautiful blue hardback copy of Our Island Story from Civitas Press that I bought used but in like new condition when I first found AO years ago--it's still a decent price used, but I would also suggest Living Book Press who is now republishing many AO books in the public domain.  What I have of theirs is nice quality!

History Biographies
We chose Michelangelo as our first term biography, and picture study option (we read a da Vinci book last year when we studied him for picture study) and I read it to him.  He read Good Queen Bess for his second term biography, and I think he liked it better.  I moved Shakespeare to a family read.

We read The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman as our Polo book of choice.  I found it on the list of possibilities, and there are longer selections to fill out a whole year, but I made this one work.  He found the book itself interesting, but dreaded mapping it for some reason.

He also did Seterra and the Stack the States app, with a preference for Stack the States.


He liked Science well enough this year.  I didn't change much for him.  He really enjoyed A Drop of Water and the activities, and he loved Science Lab in a Supermarket--there were a few activities we didn't get to in that book, so we plan to go back this summer and do them!

Pagoo - He tolerated this book.  We watched a couple little videos of hermit crabs when I'd come across them online, and we did bits and pieces of this Pagoo Unit Study.  I do not recommend the unit in its entirety, but for a kid who likes to color- it has flora/fauna clipart, as well as a few other basic science "worksheet" type pages that could work for written narration for the older Y3 who likes them, particularly if you need portfolio fodder.  If you do like unit studies, it's a nice little science unit!

Secrets of the Woods - I started out reading it, but then he took over.  We read most of the book, but we let it go at summer break.  He loves animals and nature, but wasn't impressed with this book.  He kept asking me if the stories were true, and we talked about how Long was a naturalist, and how we can give the author the benefit of the doubt, but we can also be judicious in reading and expect that even "true stories" can be exaggerated to make them more interesting stories.   (I know there was controversy among naturalists regarding his books, but I didn't go into specifics with him, because it seemed that ideas was already in his mind.)

He also took a science class at co-op (eclectic mix of topics) and he reads a variety of kids science/nature magazines and encyclopedia type books for pleasure.

Nature Study
We're not consistent with journaling, but this boy has a heart for God's creatures!

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There were some changes here, mostly due to his personal preferences/requests, and a little bit of scheduling.

Somehow Christiana's Journey fell off his reading schedule, but he was giving good narrations when he was reading it.  We also dropped Parables from Nature - I think we'll try to read those as a family, since I have two more kids coming up.

Tall Tales - He read this independently, and gave detailed narrations - to the point that I sometimes wanted to cut him off!

The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald - We read this one together, though we got off track and it took us a longer than scheduled. He did like it!

Children of the New Forest by F. Marryat - Since we got a late start on this one, I moved it to a read-aloud for both Y3/Y5.  We're supposed to be reading it this summer to finish it . . .

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling - He listened to this one as an audio book. It was a good option for him, except he liked to listen ahead and finished early.  Looking back, I probably could have had him read Book 2 but I let him read a free read in that slot instead.

The Heroes - Book 1 Perseus
He liked this, but we found the second book harder to get into and he was wanting something he could do independently.  I didn't like the pacing/scheduling of this book, and that threw us off too.


The World's Best Fairy Tales, Anthology He requested this book when he found it on the shelf, and since he didn't formally get fairy tales in Y1, I went with it, even though he was familiar with some of the stories already.  He was fascinated with the non-Disney type versions of some of the stories though, and gave excellent narrations.

D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths by Ingrid and Edgar d'Aulaire - This was a specific request to kind of replace Heroes, but also for his personal interests.  Again, he gave excellent narrations, so I ended up "scheduling" it nearly daily as a free read that didn't require narrations.  He even used this book as his literature fair project!

He wanted to follow it up with their Greek Myths book, but since Age of Fable is scheduled for Y4 he decided to go with the actual follow-up,  Book of Trolls this summer.

Shakespeare & Plutarch

These areas are a work in progress for me!  I don't know why I have such a hard time being structured and consistent here.  When we weren't making forward progress with Shakespeare, I did at least move Bard of Avon from the bio section to family reading, so I guess that's something!  Although Plutarch starts in Y4, he was a fourth grader, so I thought we'd give it a try.  The boys did okay with the narrations, but I just lost track somewhere.

William Shakespeare's Macbeth retold by Bruce Coville
Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley
The Plutarch Primer: Publicola by Ann White


Mathematics & Language Arts

He used CTCMath for his core math-it's straightforward, and he rarely complains, so I'm leaving it!  He did also use XtraMath for math drills.

For language arts, he used a basic cursive workbook, and Language Lessons for Children from Cottage Press. It's very Charlotte Mason friendly at this level--readings, narration, copywork, dictations, light spelling/grammar reinforcement, nature study and picture study.  The website has free resources to accompany the curriculum as well!  He liked it, and said he'd like to continue it, so we'll see!

Final Thoughts
This doesn't include picture study, nature study, junior choir and other church activities, co-op, all the field trips we took this year, or his personal interests - it is just a snippet of his academics - but even though we didn't follow Y3 as written, we still had a good year.  He liked most of the books and when asked, he said he wants to continue what he's doing for next year, so I probably will move him into Y4 with a few modifications that suit him.  I know we're going to use Beautiful Feet Books for Geography, as Minn of the Mississippi is assigned, and I'm going to try to work Paddle to the Sea in as well, since he hasn't read/mapped that one.  There will be a few book substitutions for him, but I think I'll write about next year after I finalize our plans.

Mr. Personality at Loveland Castle

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  1. I also do not like This Country of Ours. I've done it for 3 years and I'm over it! My children have been ok at narrating it and they haven't really complained, but I just don't think it is the best option. This coming year we are using Landmark History of the American People for my 4th grader and First Book of American History (a Beautiful Feet repub).

    1. I'm thinking of switching to the American History book from Beautiful Feet Books too! I have two more kids coming up behind this one, and I was not thrilled with the idea of that many more years with TCOO!