Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Keeping Company :: August Invitation

I asked last month how summer Keeping looks in your home, and I love how many people are continuing their notebooking routines through the summer.

We have a lovely collection going in our July album, so grab a cup of iced tea, click on over, and enjoy!

Monthly Feature

I thought I'd highlight a few posts today for those looking for some nature journal inspiration.  Take a look at what's going on in the homes of these ladies, who are obviously enjoying the process of learning alongside their children young and old...

My Peace in the Puzzle has a lovely post up this month about one of my favorite wildflowers: the lupine!

Angela at Wilhites Living Life shares a beautiful vintage nature book (my favorite!) and the journal entries of her daughters as they begin their new school year.  Fresh starts are wonderful, aren't they?

from Wilhites Living Life

Speaking of lovely, Melanie at The Real Deal gives us a glimpse into a summer outing in her home and a focus on butterflies with her darling daughters.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Carol at Journey and Destination shows us what an older child is capable of!

from Journey and Destination
This month's optional prompt

So many of you are back to school this month!  So...

What do your Keeping plans look like for the new school year?  Are you maintaining an established routine or hoping to start a new one?  Any big changes you're looking to make, or are you planning for baby steps toward these habits?  Do you prefer to keep your Keeping casual, or do have you have it there on your daily or weekly checklist?  How do your plans vary by personality, age, or student interest?  How are you scheduling your own Keeping this year?  I'd love to hear!

I'll be back here next Tuesday, August 11, to post the next link-up.  Until then, feel free to add your posts on any CM Keeping topic to the July link-up.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Year 4 in Our Home :: Overview

We've been living with these plans for a month now and they feel like a great fit, so I'm ready to share them here.  These are my fourth grade plans for my two oldest, Vincent and Gianna.

As always, we draw heavily from Ambleside Online's wonderful bookslists.  These are based on their Year 4 programme.  Their site has weekly breakdowns for the whole year, as well as exams and study guides for some of them, so be sure to take a look!  (My booklist here is posted with permission from Ambleside Online.)  

I have marked the portions of our schedule that are directly from AO in blue.  The rest are my own selections.  Portions marked in pink are are not narrated, either because they are added readings for just my older two or because they are part of our Morning Basket and done as a family.  (More about that below.)

ReligionBible - Acts of the Apostles in Schuster's Bible History (Term 1), two epistles from the Douay-Rheims Bible (Terms 2 and 3)

Saints and Catholic History -  Lomask's Isaac and the Indians  (Term 1), Demarest's The First Californian (Term 2), Garnett's The Red Bonnet (Term 3)

Spiritual Reading -  Hunt's The First Christians (Term 1), Mother Mary Loyola's Hail Full of Grace (Term 2), Mother Mary Loyola's Forgive Us Our Trespasses (Term 3)

Mass - St. Augustine Press' Treasure and Tradition

Catechism - St. Joseph's New Catechism No. 1

Liturgical Year - Flos Sanctorum

World - George Washington's World, A Child's History of the World, Our Island Story

National - Marshall's This Country of Ours

Biographies - Daugherty's Poor Richard (Term 1), Abigail Adams (Term 2 and 3)

Catholic - saints by time period as listed in religion, 
The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas

Keeping of Timeline and Century Chart
Natural History
and Science
Kingsley's Madam How and Lady Why
Fabre's The Story-book of Science

Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas
The World in a Drop of Water (moved from AO Year 3)
GeographyHolling's Minn of the Mississippi 

World - Hillyer's Child's Geography of the World

State - O'Dell's The Cruise of the Arctic Star (one section weekly)

Weekly mapwork - formal Keeping of maps of the Thirteen Colonies (This Country of Ours), California (The Cruise of the Arctic Star and The First Californian), and the Mississippi River (Minn); noting of places mentioned in other readings on printed maps of Europe and America

Map drills - countries of Asia, countries of North America, cities of California
LiteratureShakespeare - Much Ado About Nothing (Term 1), Midsummer Night's Dream (Term 2), TBD depending on local productions (Term 3)

Plutarch / Citizenship - Marcus Cato (Term 1), Poplicola (Term 2), TBD (Term 3)

Robinson Crusoe (Term 1 and 2), Kidnapped (Term 2 and 3), The Incredible Journey and various short stories (Term 3)
PoetryTennyson (Term 1), Dickinson (Term 2), Wordsworth (Term 3)
Music StudyBrahms (Term 1), Shubert (Term 2), Palestrina (Term 3)
Readings from Opal Wheeler book for each composer
Art StudyVelazquez (Term 1), David (Term 2), Giotto (Term 3)
Readings from Hillyer's A Child's History of Art 
ArtWeekly art lesson with instructor
Daily drawing drill
MusicWeekly piano lesson and daily practice
Nature StudyWeekly nature study outing and journal entry

Monthly object lesson and in-the-field sketching session focusing on Trees with our nature study group

Keeping a Calendar of Firsts as a family
ItalianDaily work, one unit each month, including songs, games, rhymes, picture narration, conversation and review

Written work including translation and copywork twice a week

Amy Steedman's Legends of Italy
LatinWritten and oral work twice a week from Getting Started with Latin
HandicraftsCooking (Term 1), more sewing with felt (Term 2), wet felting (Term 3)
Language ArtsCopywork - daily cursive practice with Startwrite pages, weekly print entry in Prose and Poetry Copybook

Dictation - one studied dictation passage weekly

Grammar - discussion of parts of a sentence alongside dictation work and Latin
Daily math drill from one of the following - Wrap-ups, Singapore Challenging Word Problems, topical worksheet printed from math-aids.com

Daily lesson - Jacobs' Algebra/Singapore 6B

Weekly lesson - from 
RightStart Level G

Occasional supplement in lieu of lesson - from Challenge Math or Math Olympiad 
Free ReadingPulling from Ambleside Online's Year 4 free reading list with lots of additions for my book-loving kids
Scheduled Free Reading
Together -  The Secret Garden (Term 1)Little Britches (Term 2), Gone Away Lake (Term 3)

Independent -  Bambi (Term 1)Calico Captive (Term 2)Johnny Tremain (Term 3)
Other Assignments and ProjectsExtra Keeping - Personal Timeline project, Reading Log
Physical Education - Calisthenics during memory work, weekly run with Mommy
Typing - twice weekly using TypingTutor.com
Memory WorkBible - The Parable of the Salt and Light, the Ten Commandments, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Christmas Story in Luke 2 (continued from last year)

Poetry - from each term's poets

Hymns - Veni Creator Spiritus, St. Michael Byzantine chant, Michael of the Morning, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming, Veni Veni Emmanuel, Dear Guardian of Mary, Adoremus Te Christe, Bring Flowers of the Fairest, On This Day

Folk Songs - Scarborough Fair, The Ballad of Davy Crockett, Red River Valley, Let No Man Steal Your Thyme, Billy Boy, Come on Little Dogeys, Goodnight Irene, Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Shakespeare - from plays read

Prayers - Confiteor in Latin, O St. Joseph, Divine Mercy prayers, Apostles Creed in Latin, St. Alphonsus' Night Prayer, Words of Consecration in English and Latin

Some notes about our Year 4 plans:

:: Not-Narrated Readings.  As I mentioned, the selections in pink are not narrated, most of the time because they are part of our Morning Basket but occasionally because they are additional independent reading for my older two.  I do like to add a bit of reading to the schedule since they are such eager bookworms, but I usually don't ask them to narrate it.  So I suppose it is more a method of directing their plentiful free reading time rather than adding schoolwork, if that makes sense.

:: Italian.  I will also write more about our Italian plans soon as they are more robust this year.  Now that Gianna and Vincent are a bit older, I'm adding in some written work, which they are loving!  We're also added in a few new resources that are livening up this year's studies, and I'm doing a weekly prep session that is keeping forward momentum going.  I only hope it lasts. ;)

:: Language Arts.  We have some additions to our Language Arts this year: dictation and grammar.  I could mention Latin here too, because I'm finding that it all ties together quite nicely.  I'm printing their dictation passage for the week as a cursive copywork page.  I also print a couple extra easy-to-read copies for them to study from and for us to use for grammar chat, finding subjects and verbs and whatnot.

We're also continuing copywork, obviously, but we have moved to cursive only.  (Last year we alternated between  print and cursive.)  They are still doing cursive on pre-made sheets using Startwrite, and then they have a weekly entry scheduled in their Prose and Poetry notebook, which is printed.  And we added in typing twice a week, which has been a huge hit.

:: Math.  Both of them are still accelerated in math, so I'm just trying to keep up!  Gianna finished RightStart Level E last year and spent the last half working through Singapore 5A/B.  This year she's finishing up Singpore 6A/B, and then she'll move into the same book Vincent is using, Jacobs Algebra (he started in Jacobs last year after I decided that he really didn't need a pre-algebra program).  We'll see if it's as good a fit for her as it has been for him!  If not, I have the Key to Algebra set on my shelf, so we can try that as well.  They are also doing one worksheet from RightStart's hands-on geometry program (Level G) together once a week, using the drawing tools that they used in the other RS levels.  This is something they are able to together and is a nice break from traditional math.  And they have a five-minute review drill each day on math facts or calculations.

:: Religion.  I am really excited about our Catholic supplements this year!  I was wanting to add more Marigold Hunt and more Mother Mary Loyola to our schedule after really enjoying their books for the past couple years.  We read Hunt's Book of Angels and St. Patrick's Summer and Mother Loyola's First Communion last year; this year we're doing Hunt's The First Christians and Mother Loyola's Hail Full of Grace and Forgive Us Our Trespasses.  The first book ties nicely in with our study of the Acts and Epistles this year, so we're reading through the companion chapters in Schuster's Bible History alongside.  And Mother Loyola's books will fit nicely into our liturgical year as I have the first planned for Christmastime and the second for Lent.

They are also reading a couple pages weekly from a book focused on the history and celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass: Treasure and Tradition by St. Augustine Press.  My husband and I have found a few small misprints/errors in this book, but the spreads are lovely and the rest of the content is solid.  I can't think of another book quite like it.  It's not a living book in the traditional sense, so I'm not asking my children to narrate it.  But they love poring over non-fiction books such as these and the artwork included is beautiful.

Cate is doing sacramental prep this year, so the big kids are following along with her in their own catechism, which I read during our Morning Basket time.  And I chose saints books based on this year's history cycle, one on the Catholic presence in the East and one in the West.  I'm particularly interested to read about Blessed (soon to be saint!) Junipero Serra since we are in California and will be studying California geography this year too.

:: Literature.  As usual, I have pulled all our literature selections from Ambleside Online.  We are choosing different Shakespeare plays based on what is playing locally.  In fact, we are headed to a production of Much Ado About Nothing this weekend!  My Shakespeare plan is to read the play in Lambs' version (which my Year 1 student can join us for), and then the older kids and I read along as we listen to the full version as an Arkangel Shakespeare recording.  The recordings are fabulous.  We're also doing Robinson Crusoe as an audio (the unabridged Blackstone version) while reading along with the text.

:: Geography. Speaking of, I took Brandy's wonderful advice and scheduled an extra geography book this year that is based on our state history: The Cruise of the Arctic Star.  The wonderful thing is how this and The First Californian tie together so nicely--we're going up and down the coast and learning about the founding of cities and the topography of the state in both books.  Alongside, the kids are working on a watercolor map, inspired by Heather.  And in case you're in California and want to read the same geography selection, check out Brandy's breakdown by chapter and a printable bookmark I made.

:: Nature Study.  We still love doing a weekly nature study outing with friends!  This year we'll be getting out weekly as usual, but once a month, we're planning a more focused lesson.  Our goal is to study six native trees throughout the year, with a different area of observation each month (branching, leaves, nesting, lichen and moss, etc.).

And the children (and I!) will be responsible for one nature journal entry per week, as always.  I've started teaching the kids dry brush more formally too (those are some of Gianna's first mussel shells above).


I think that about covers it!  I've tried to anticipate some of the questions I usually get about our schedule, so I apologize for the length. ;)  If you have other questions, let me know.

 Over the next couple weeks, I'll be posting...
:: our Form II binder
:: our updated weekly schedule template and how I've been doing my weekly planning
:: our Morning Basket plans for Term 1
:: my Year 1 and kindergarten plans for Cate and Xavier.

(And just as a last note: I'm sure this is obvious, but please remember that our plans are just that--our plans for our family.  I share them because I know many of you are looking for examples of different ways to live out the Ambleside Online curriculum, or to deal with eager and early learners within that setting, or to make Catholic additions or substitutions to the curriculum.  This is one way in one home and isn't meant to work for all families or all children.  So take what you want and ignore the rest!  Another place to look for the ways other families live out Year 4 is the Ambleside Online forums--lots of diverse examples there!)

Friday, July 31, 2015

{This and That}

I've been quiet on the blog this week for a couple of reasons:

First, I've been working on writing up our school plans to share here, including our Catholic additions, our adapted weekly schedule, and a planning sheet I have been using that has helped organize my own weekly planning time.  I'm hoping to have them all ready to go starting on Monday!

Which brings me to the second reason I've been quiet...I've got a touch of tennis elbow in my right arm that is making typing a challenge.  Silly, right?  This always seems to happen on and off when I'm pregnant.  Anyway, I'm hoping my body will comply and I can finish getting my notes typed up this weekend.

With that in mind, this recap will be short...


I have one article and one nature study gem for you this week: Grim Tales and The Feather Atlas.  (That last one seems to be under maintenance right now, but it was working earlier this week, so hopefully it will be up again soon--very neat.)

Oh, and yet another post from the business world confirming the value of a CM-style education: That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket.

If you're looking for more reading, Keeping Company has lots of wonderful posts so far this month.  You can check it out here!


Gianna and I are on a roll with our pasta salads!  I posted this week's over on Facebook.  I have had requests for the super-simple breakfast and lunch menu plans that she has been working from, and I will get those up soon too in case you're hoping to do a bit of food prep with your daughters (and sons!) this fall.


This guy has been keeping me so busy lately.  New tricks: yelling "bottle" over and over while pulling on the fridge door handles, playing fetch, and putting tons of effort into "jumping" that ends up looking like glorified stomping.  It's hard to be fifteen months.

But goodness, does he not look like a little boy all of the sudden?  What happened to my baby?


My copy of Anne White's Minds More Awake is due to arrive tomorrow and I am looking forward to digging in!


Okay, friends, off to rest my arm.  Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

{From My Commonplace}

I finished up Pilgrim's Inn a couple nights ago.  It was wonderful.  I can't resist juxtaposing here two moments in which Goudge expresses one of the themes of this book, once as the narrator and once as the indefatigable Lucilla,

"I know of no better incentive for the building of a decent world than the possession of children who must live in the world you've built."

"There were still children in the world, and while there were children, men and women would not abandon the struggle to make safe homes to put them in, and while they so struggled there was hope."


She's talking about adjusting to a post-WWII world, but I think we who feel like we're losing battle after battle in the culture war can relate to that threatening sense of despair.  And we who are parents can relate to the truth she expresses here, that our children do inspire us to be better people and to work toward a better world, even while (or especially while) the culture seems to be falling down around us.  I think of Charlotte Mason's thoughts on children and see that she feels much the same.

(As a side note, I read Anthony Esolen's "Reform and Renewal Starts With Us" this week and saw some comforting connections between it and Goudge's point.  And though this is quite presumptuous, I think we could add Have Children and Raise Them Right to Esolen's list of Christian challenges.  Because children are life-giving and hope-inspiring and a large part of what we're battling for--literally and figuratively--in the first place.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Nature Study Outing :: The Art of Nature

The Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History has an annual Art of Nature exhibit that we have visited in the past.  This year's showing fell during our vacation dates, so I was happy to return and see some new work by local scientific illustrators.

Vincent with his favorite bird, the golden eagle

There were two additions this year that particularly drew our interest...

For my own journaling, I focus on dry-brushing, but I love looking at watercolor of all sorts.  This comprehensive tide-scape done in watercolor was a special treat to examine.  It's called "The Great Tide Pool" by Emily Underwood.

The kids spent a few minutes pointing out all the marine life they could identify.  All the usual sights were included, a sort of compendium of our local coastline.

I especially liked how she captured the cormorants that cover the white-washed rocks just off shore in that last shot.  It's so similar to what we see on our drive down to Asilomar but I have never been able to express it in ink or paint.

We all were also drawn to this exhibit by Megan Gnekow.  They look as if they are pinned butterflies, and certainly the museum has more than its share of preserved creatures to observe.  But these were actually of paper!  The artist-naturalist described her process of creation, and I took careful photos so that we could attempt to duplicate the activity at home.

It involves careful observation and brushwork of both under- and over-wings, then mounting for view.  The artist used tabs so that the wings could be moved up and down to make both sides visible. 

I'm looking forward to trying this out alongside my butterfly-and-and-craft-loving children.

And I can't leave out this rendition of one of my favorite birds, the kingfisher, along with his stuffed brother nearby:

It reminded me of this lovely mention from Elizabeth Goudge's Pilgrim's Inn:
"One sees the oddest things in the woods," agreed David.
"What were you seeing?" asked Sally.
"Nothing out of the ordinary.  Just a kingfisher.  Though actually a kingfisher is a bit out of the ordinary, isn't he?  A heavenly bird."
Each year they have out a table of treasures, along with microscopes and magnifying glasses and lots of drawing paper and pencils.  It's great for keeping the littles occupied while my big kids and I make our rounds of the place!

They have signs posted near the table describing what nature journaling is, as well as docents nearby to guide children in how to go about it--but my kids all just hunker down and get to work!  Love those Charlotte Mason habits. :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

What We're Reading :: July

C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters (just started too)
Goudge's Pilgrim's Inn (loving this one)
Sampson's How To Raise a Wild Child (just read the first chapter--I'll review later!)
Charlotte Mason's Volume 6 and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's For the Children's Sake (for our CM study group using Brandy's Start Here)

To the Big Kids
Trevor's Sun Slower, Sun Faster (finishing up from summer)
O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (on audio)
Speare's The Sign of the Beaver (our new read-aloud--I remember reading this one as a kid)

Vincent, age 9
d'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths (as soon as we started Age of Fable for school, he pulled out this one for free reading)
Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (seems like Dahl is always being read by someone!)
Brown's Kateri Tekakwitha: Mohawk Maiden (his Sunday reading)

Gianna, age 8
Field's Poems of Childhood (first time she has picked up a true book of poetry casually, I think!)
Burnett's Little Lord Fauntleroy (thanks to a reference to "Fautleroy" in the Eugene Field book)
Alexander's The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen (just finished)
Streatfield's Ballet Shoes (a re-read)

To the Middles (Cate, age 6, and Xavier, age 5)
Garnett's My Father's Dragon
The Complete Beatrix Potter Treasury
Piper's The Little Engine That Could
Burton's Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
For this week's reading lessons: Stevenson's "Rain" (for Cate) and Seuss' Hop on Pop (for Xave)
On audio: Jim Weiss' "Famously Funny" (lots of laughs!) and Cooney's Miss Rumphius (over and over again)

To the Littles (Bridget, age 3, and Clara, age 2)
Spier's The Star-Spangled Banner and Sendak's I Saw Esau (3yo Bridget's current favorites)
Aliki's Welcome Little Baby and Eloise Wilkins' Mother Goose (2yo Clara's current favorites--these two never go out of style with my littles)

New Additions to our Home Library
These gems are from the box of books I have bought in the past and stashed in the garage to pick through for my kids' birthdays.  Vincent turned nine last month, and I went with a theme this time around...

And then last week I had a pretty fruitful trip to the thrift store...

I already have a pretty copy of Robinson Crusoe, but I couldn't resist another hardback library-bound version illustrated by Wyeth.  I should probably keep one and sell the other, but I'm torn--which would you keep?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Nature Study Outing :: The Arboretum

For another of our non-beach vacation days, we decided to check out a new-to-us spot: the Santa Cruz Arboretum.

The Arboretum is on the campus of University of California at Santa Cruz, but it is open to the public.  It's popular with birding groups, nature enthusiasts, and apparently moms with toddlers in jogging strollers, because we saw a few of those there that morning!  But it's not a particularly busy place.

It is divided by country, so we took a "tour" through New Zealand first, then walked through the succulent garden, then the native plant section, then South Africa and Australia.

I was more impressed with the variety of flora that the kids were.  They were hoping for more birds, which we could hear but not see.  That could have something to do with the noise and size of our party.  Ahem.

At one point along our walk, Cate stooped down, enthralled, and called the rest of the children over.  

Their amazing discovery?  A roly poly!

So yes, I got more out of the exotic plants than they did.  But the tree photos above are the ones they requested I take, of the particular ones that caught their eye.  There were some real stunners there.

our native habitat -- the redwood grove -- was probably their favorite

We didn't even come close to exhausting all the walking paths that meander through these gardens, but a couple hours was about all my littles could handle--Clara and Drew were both falling asleep by the end.

When we left, Gianna proclaimed confidently, "And now it's like I've been to New Zealand.  So that's done."  

Indeed.  Checking New Zealand off the bucket list!  While we're at it, I suppose we might as well throw in Australia and South Africa too. ;)