Last Christmas my friend & I were given tickets to Les Miserables by my friend\’s daughter. She checked with my husband before buying the tickets to see if he could work from home on the day, which he could do, and so the day came for us to go during the week. Miserable was the weather, bleak & grimy, a fitting sort of day for a tale such as this. My dear friend drove through torrential rain for about an hour to pick me up so we could drive into the city together. So I said goodbye to everyone & Dad did the maths and running around later in the day to this that and the next thing. I felt quite lazy. Need I say we had a wonderful day?
This week we completed week 20 of the 36 weeks of Ambleside Online\’s Years 4 & 8. Two of the boys have done AO Year 8 in the past, so it\’s familiar territory – to me, at least. This is the first year I\’ve had a child following AO\’s Year 4, although the Australian substitutions are books we\’ve mostly used before.
I print out a schedule at the beginning of each week for each child and each morning they get on with their individual work after they\’ve done a couple of morning jobs:
Reading – as per schedule. Benj organises his own time with this and the other work he does independently. We fit in oral narration (for both of them) in between Moozle\’s reading – some of which she does on her own and some I read to her.
I aim to do dictation twice a week with each of them and slot it in sometime during the morning.
Benj (15yrs) always starts with maths (Saxon Algebra 2). Moozle (10 yrs) either practices her cello or does her maths with me (Singapore 4A).
We do the following together and I space them out over the week.
Devotions, Shakespeare, Poetry, Plutarch, Read Aloud, Natural History, Nature Study, Picture Study, Folksong, Hymn Study.
Once a week we have a piano lesson for Benj (Friday afternoon) and a cello lesson for Moozle (Tuesday morning) which go for an hour each.
We generally read through a chapter of a Bible book most days, taking turns reading a few verses out loud, followed by a narration of the chapter. Sometimes we talk about how a passage relates to us today, compare something in the passage with another elsewhere, or look up a map if appropriate. Last week we read in 1 Samuel 15 about Saul\’s disobedience regarding the Amalekites and discussed its relation to the events in the book of Esther, in which Haman, a descendant of the Amalekite king, tried to annihilate God\’s people.
Then we do memory work – new & review of verses we\’ve already done and then we all take a turn praying.
All\’s Well That Ends Well is our current play. Many people baulk at exposing younger children to Shakespeare but starting at a young age with such adaptions as those written by Edith Nesbit and Charles & Mary Lamb or listening to a retelling by Jim Weiss makes it easy. Moozle already knows the gist of the stories and the bawdy bits go over her head. (They often go over my head too unless I read a modern version of a play). As Charlotte Mason wisely said, a child will take what he needs at the time.
Shakespeare is not to be studied in a year; he is to be read continuously throughout life, from ten years old and onwards. But a child of ten cannot understand Shakespeare. No; but can a man of fifty? Is not our great poet rather an ample feast of which every one takes according to his needs, and leaves what he has no stomach for?
Formation of Character by Charlotte Mason, Pg 226
We\’re using the BBC Arkangel recording. Benj reads this free copy
of the play (no commentary) and I use a Cambridge
School guide with the text on the right hand page & commentary on the left – mostly because I can find them for a dollar or two secondhand.
We read and follow along with the CD for about 15 minutes, or when a scene ends, and then each of them narrate or think of an idea for a composition.
I like to read poetry aloud but they also focus separately on a poet each term, usually the AO selection from their year.
We\’ve been studying the work of John William Waterhouse as many of his paintings are based on Greek & Roman mythology which is interesting when you\’ve been reading books like Age of Fable or Marshall\’s History of English Literature.
The Life of Timoleon
this term using Anne White\’s Guide.
This takes us about 20 to 30 minutes a week and often provides a springboard for discussion & narration.
We\’re still reading \’I Can Jump Puddles,\’ an Australian classic which I picked up years ago without really knowing too much about it. It\’s a great book based on a true story of the courage and determination of a young boy with a disability. Highly recommended – may need some slight editing as you go.
Natural History/Nature Study
Once a week we concentrate on an area of nature study and I read from various books on natural history and they draw & write in their notebooks. Our focus at present is on Insects. We try to have a bush walk regularly but it doesn\’t always happen but having this weekly focus gives some continuity plus background knowledge for things we come across when we are out. I\’ve noticed it also helps spark an interest to observe more closely.
We read about ants this week from First Studies in Insect Life in Australasia by William Gillies. We decided they must be Communists:
Among the bees and ants the individual is nothing; the community is everything. You cannot frighten ants with danger or death. One thing only frightens them: danger to the community. hence the recklessness of an ant in throwing herself on an enemy. Nothing is of value that cannot serve the community: and so the ants that are hopelessly ill are cast out.
Whisky in the Jar
is our folksong for the month.
My eldest son jokes to his friends that he had to learn Scottish drinking songs
his education at home. It\’s been my little project to pass on the culture I grew up with and folksongs were a big part of that. But it is
a little embarrassing when your ten year old starts to sing, \’Oh Campelltown Loch, I wish ye were whisky!\’
This one is Irish.
What they\’re reading:
These are some of their own choices, not part of their scheduled books – they often read over lunch and in the evenings.
Yes, Prime Minister: The Diaries of the Right Hon. James Hacker
Former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, wrote of the book, \’Its closely observed portrayal of what goes on in the corridors of power has given me hours of pure joy.\’
Captain Hornblower R.N. by C.S. Forester
Simon Black in Peril, Simon Black in Space & Simon Black in China were written in the 1950\’s by Ivan Southall. Out of print and hard to find but I found these three at a used book sale recently. Fast paced and exciting, so my son told me, and an easy read for him. I\’ll give them a quick flick through before I give them to Moozle but I think they should be fine for her age and up.
Lately she\’s been reading through a whole swag of G.A. Henty books – With Frederick the Great (she\’d just read about him in George Washington\’s World by Genevieve Foster) is one she\’s re-read recently.
Her beloved Biggles books by W.E.Johns are an ongoing re-read.
We had Benj\’s visit to the orthodontist the other week and Moozle took one of her Biggles books with her. The orthodontist, an older man, was surprised when he saw her with the book and commented on how much he used to enjoy the Biggles\’ books. He asked her a couple of questions and she floored him when she rattled off the names of all the different types of planes, their \’gravity tanks\’ and other bits of information she\’s garnered through reading the books. He then told her that he\’s a member of a club that restores old planes (\’Moths\’ etc) so she was treated to some photos of their projects.
The Biggles\’ experts in the house don\’t agree about the best book to start with but here are a couple of suggestions:
Making an electroscope:
This is Moozle\’s write up of an experiment she did after reading Chapter XLIII of The Story Book of Science
by Jean Henri Fabre. She really enjoys this book & I add extra supplements to a Pinterest board
as we use them to update some of the outdated ideas – how to treat snakebite, for example.