Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Nature Study Outing :: Pond in the Hills

The pond by our house is easy to get to but not as teeming with pond life as one might expect.  Last year, we did a term on pond study, and we did have a chance to observe the life cycle of the mosquito, the growth of cattails, pond birds (mallards, geese, coots, kingfishers, and flycatchers), the native trees surrounding...and that's about it.  That particular pond is sorely lacking in creepy-crawlies.

So this time we hit a different pond, farther up into the hills and much more active in water critters.

This is a trail I go through almost weekly during my hill run, but I'm there in the very early morning when the deer and wild turkeys are out but everything else is calm, and I had never taken the kids.

It's a small seasonal pond--during the summer it often dries up completely--but when it's full, there's lots to see.  Tadpoles and dozens of wee frogs and toads.  Dragonfly nymphs and dragonflies.  Swallows, egrets, geese, and mallards.

A marshy trail skirts the edge all the way around, and the kids spent their time circling to a huge fallen tree on the opposite bank, perfect for climbing.

the children always seem to try to get as far from us during their play as they can--see those tiny specks? :)
I have noticed while running there that the wildflowers change week to week.  Earlier in the spring, the place was absolutely blanketed in spring vetch and green grasses.  Now those have dried up and been replaced by early-summer sights: milk thistle, pineapple weed, verbena, mariposa lilies, birdsfoot trefoil, blow-wives, gilia, brodiaea.

A friend of mine has been working to identify California grasses and can pick out wild oats, barley, and rye for us.  And there was plenty there for us to find.

Just over that ridge, beyond the treeline?  The lake.  Up in the hills is a lovely place to be.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Cate's Kindergarten :: Exams, Term 3

My eager kindergartener was, as usual, thrilled to join us for exams again this term.  Like last time, she joined the big kids for questions in picture study, music study, picture study and recitation.  But she loves having some questions of her own as well, and I'm happy to oblige.

Describe your outfit in Italian using complete sentences.
Chi e lei?  Come si chiama?  Quanti anni ha?  (pointing to her sister)

Show the following numbers on your abacus: 5432, 9276, 1190, 2904, 808, 17, 8785, 6001
Then show the numbers with your number cards.
Complete the patterns on your worksheet.

Fine Motor Skills
Choose a bird from your bird book that you have seen this term to draw and label.
Copy the names of our family members, forming each letter correctly.
Do this cutting assignment.

Tell me all you know about the Sorrowful Mysteries.
What do you know of the Holy Trinity?

Reading Skill
Write the letter that these words start with.
Spell these words using your letter tiles.
Read these sight words.

Natural History
Sketch two wildflowers we saw this term and tell me where you found them.

What was your favorite part of Little Town on the Prairie?
Which story did you like best this term?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

{From My Commonplace}

"Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised."

from Tolstoy's Anna Karenina

I'm reading this one on my tablet after too many attempts at juggling a tome and a baby at once. ;) And I'm using Amber's method of highlighting via the Kindle app, then going in every so often to view my highlighted quotes on the Notes page and add the most pertinent of them to my commonplace.  It's a great system!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Third Grade in Our Home :: Exams, Term 3

The last of my third graders' exams for this year!  I like Term 3 exams best because many of the books that get stretched out over terms (and even years!) are finished up, and the whole text is fair game for questions. ;) And I have been trying to stretch my young learners just a tad because they're showing signs that they're ready for more "Grand Conversation" discussions, so there are a couple questions here that ask for a comparison or a choice among options that takes a bit of thinking beyond simple narration.  A little novelty always keeps things fun!

As always, below are all the questions and then a sampling of answers.  And if this list looks intimidating, please keep in mind, I have two students answering, so they're often doing just half of each category, particularly for literature, history, and religion.  And the narrations at the end were all oral narrations that I audio-recorded and transcribed to share here.

If you're looking for questions to use for your own exams, check out the wonderful exam page over at AO!

The Questions

Sing your favorite song in Italian or recite your favorite Italian rhyme.
Choose one relative to describe in detail.

Recite one of the poems you memorized by Longfellow.
Tell me the story of Hiawatha.

Play your recital songs.

Physical Education:
Do ten burpees.
See how many pushups you can do without stopping.

Complete the following page from Challenging Word Problems.

Free Reading:
What was your favorite book read during free time this term?  What did you like best about it?
Draw a map for Crossbows and Crucifixes, showing the main house and the path down to the old town along the Sapey.
Draw a scene from St. Edmund Campion.  Describe briefly which scene you have illustrated, either in writing or orally.

Sing "Attende Domine."
Sing "Pull For the Shore" or "These Happy Golden Years" or "Highland Mary."
Recite the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Recite the Divine Praises.

Write the following sentence in your best printing: "Let the jungle listen to the things I have done."
Now copy that sentence in your best cursive.
Now identify what book that line is from, and describe its context.
Now choose you own quote and do the same thing!

Draw and label the five most important characters from The Jungle Book.  Who was your favorite animal character and why?
Tell me the story of Much Ado About Nothing or Hamlet.  You can look at our character chart as you explain the story.
Recite the lines you learned from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  Who says them and what are their context?
How did Theseus escape the Minotaur OR how did Theseus fall by pride?
Tell about how Christian and Hopeful crossed the river.
Tell me about John Henry or Joe Magarak.

Describe the Union Jack and how it came to be OR about the sad day in Highland glen.
What do you know about Bonnie Prince Charlie OR how Canada was won?
Tell me the strengths and the flaws of the Puritan Pilgrim Fathers.

Choose one parable we read this term to tell me about.
Tell your favorite miracle of Jesus from the term, using the biblical language if you can.
Which was your favorite prayer from the devotionals section of our angels book?  Read it aloud in your clearest voice.
Draw and label the priest's vestments.  Describe their use and meaning.
What are some ways we can prepare ourselves each week to receive Holy Communion?
Describe purgatory according to Mother Loyola.  Describe heaven.
How does the description of heaven differ between First Communion and Pilgrim's Progress?

Tell me what you know about the desert: its people, its geography, its animals.
Fill in the map of Europe/Asia paying careful attention to spelling for all countries.
Tell me about the war between Genoa and Venice.  How did Marco Polo get taken prisoner?
What do you think was the most interesting sight of all his travels?
Draw a map of our backyard, labeling as many plants as you can.

Nature Study:
Sketch three wildflowers we saw this term from memory and describe where we saw them growing.
Sketch one new bird we saw this term from memory.  Tell me about its call if you can.
Draw a map of <local county park>, noting the presence of wildflowers and other natural features.

Complete your sketch of a human nose, as assigned by your teacher.

Music Study:
Tell me a favorite scene from Opal Wheeler's Handel.
Hum the theme from one of the Handel selections we enjoyed this term.

Picture Study:
Choose one of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings and describe it as well as you can.
Choose an item to paint up-close using O'Keeffe's style.

Some Answers   (For any written work, I spelled words for the children when asked.)

John Henry from American Tall Tales, by Vincent
First thing John Henry reached for was a hammer, and afterward, when he was old enough to talk, he said that he had been born with a hammer in his hand.  When he was old enough to hold a hammer, he practicing swinging it.  One day, he had a dream that he was working for a railroad company.  There was a war at that time, but when it ended, John Henry decided to be a railroad worker.  When he came there, he saw other men working, and also he saw lots of hammers lying by the fire.  He picked up one that weighed twenty pounds, but he thought it was too light.  Then he picked up another that weighed seventy.  Then he asked someone to hold the stake for him, but no one wanted to because they were afraid that he might hit them.  But a little man called Lee Willy offered to hold it.  The other ones jeered at him and asked if he wanted to be crushed to death.  Lee Willy just ignored them, and soon John Henry had a lot of stakes in the ground.  From then on, Lee Willy was John Henry's helper.  One day a man came to the captain and said that he had built a machine that could work much faster than his workers on the railroad.  But the captain said, "I don't need any machine with my John Henry."  But the other man said, "I'll make a bet with you: if John Henry can beat my machine, then I'll give it to you for free."  And if the machine won, the captain would have to buy his machine.  The  agreed for them to see who could dig the longest tunnel in a day.  Both of htem started.  At first Lee Willy was pale because the machine was ahead.  But then he told John Henry that the machine had to stop to fix a new drill because the other one had broke.  But then it started again, and Lee Willy said, "You're at least two inches ahead."  Finally there were only ten minutes left, and John Henry kept on going and told Lee Willy to sing him a song.  Lee Willy tried to sing as best he could with sweat dripping down his own face as he put in a new drill.  Finally a gun fired, which meant it was the end of the contest, and the judges ran forward to measure.  They came back and it was said that John Henry had beat the machine by four feet.  After that John Henry lied down and looked at the sky.  He said he would die with a hammer in his hand, and then he died.

Longfellow's "Hiawatha," by Vincent
Once there was a girl that had been knocked down from the sky to earth.  She then there bore a daughter and gave her the warning many times not to listen to the West Wind but to bend and play among the flowers.  But her daughter did not obey her and when she was laying among the lilies, the Wind came and wooed her.  She did not know that he was faithless, and he left her alone to die.  But before she died, she bore a son, whom she called Hiawatha.  And her mother took care of Hiawatha.  And she taught him many things and showed him the sky and the stars.  One day, he asked when he heard a owl hooting, "what was that?"  And she said that it was the owl.  And then Hiawatha began getting acquainted with all the animals and birds until he knew them all by heart.  One day a boa constrictor said to Hiawatha to go and shoot a red deer.  He took his bow and arrows and went into the forest, and he saw the tracks of red deer, but they was not here because they had left.  Then he heard the red deer coming, and one of them stopped uneasily, but Hiawatha's arrow was too quick for him, and he fell down in the middle of trying to leap.  And then he brought the meat and skin back to his grandmother, and she made him a cloak out of the skin, and the meat he invited all his friends to feast on.

How Canada was won from This Country of Ours, by Vincent
The French had possession of Canada and they also had possession of Louisiana.  Now the English wanted to continue their colonies out and they wanted to push the French out so they could spread farther and wider. There was a town in Canada which was protected by a great general, a French general, called Montcalm.  There was an English captain, James Wolfe, who was sent with one thousand soldiers to destroy Montcalm and win Canada and Louisiana.  He fought many battles with Montcalm, but Montcalm was too clever to be defeated.  James was getting hopeless because he was supposed to have soldiers sent to him but they did not come.  Finally he wrote a letter to his family saying he would try one more thing and he would either win Canada or die trying.  In the town there was a part that was not guarded strongly because the entrance was in cliffs and it was hard for the English to get up the cliffs.  A few boats went and got half of James' soldiers and they went back as quickly as they could to get the rest.  And then the soldiers climbed up the mountain and they took the French greatly by surprise.  General Montcalm came in the morning to see where they were (the English) and the battle was fought, and James Wolfe was wounded twice and then he got a shot that killed him.  The French general was also killed. But before James Wolfe died one of his friends told him to look, and he tried to raise his head, but he could not, and his friend said that the French were fleeing.  The English wrote a letter to the king saying that they had captured Canada and Louisiana.

Bonnie Prince Charlie from Our Island Story, by Gianna
Bonnie Prince Charlie was one of James' descendants.  He came to Ireland and hoped to win George's crown.  He wasn't as stern, grave, and melancholy as his father had been; he was exactly the opposite.  People crowded around him from all parts of Ireland, and a few from England.  They raised a flag and declaimed King George and claimed Bonnie Prince Charlie as their king.  The king said that he would fight Prince Charlie, and he said that it would be the next morning.  The next morning Bonnie Prince Charlie's men were up so early that they won the battle in five minutes, and they made up a song about him, saying that he could eat his breakfast in four minutes and win a battle in five!  Though he was loved  everywhere, he did not succeed in getting the throne.  He fled to France with the help of Flora Macdonald, who dressed him as a girl.  That story begins with him hiding on the beach, and she, with lots of trouble, made her way to him, bringing a girl's suit. He put this on and she called him her maid, Betty, and she went to her friend's house and asked if Betty and she could stay the night.  When Flora Macdonald's friend heard who Betty was, she quickly made the best rooms for Betty, the prince.  And when her little girl saw this great gigantic woman, she ran screaming to her mother.  So finally Flora helped Charlie to the beach, where he was to sail back to his father.

How Theseus Fell by Pride from Kingsley's Heroes, by Gianna
Theseus, when he had taken Ariadne away, forgot to take her home but left her on an island.  And he forgot to put up the white sails in the morning, so his father fell backward over the cliff and died, and so Theseus was the ruler.  He conquered a very many cities, and he opposed all enemies who came to take the throne and fought them well.  One day, he decided to go and fight Hades, the king of the dead.  He forced his way in with another friend, Hercules.  Hercules escaped but Theseus was chained to a rock, where he had to stay.  Hercules came back and released him, but when he died, his bones were not found on his beloved country but on another desolate, desolate island.  His people had thought him to be dead, so they had a new ruler, whom Theseus did not like.  When he came, they did not recognize him, and they told him to "go away, young stranger."  And so he went away, no longer king of Athens but just a man.

Some Thoughts

:: We don't usually narrate poetry at all, but since Hiawatha is a story poem, I thought it might be fun.  It was unexpected and the kids had a great time telling back.
:: I added a few mapping-as-narration exercises this time, just as I did in Term 2, and they were a good challenge but an interesting one.  Both of them enjoyed the mapping of literary places very much.  But neither of them gave a very detailed map of the nature study spot I asked about, which was a surprise to me--they got the general layout of the place correct, but they didn't add all the plants they know so well.  Their maps of our backyard were a bit better but still could have been more detailed.  I've been wanting to do more mapping for our nature study, and I think this might be a good time to start!
:: History and literature were remembered in great detail, as usual.  Biggest hit in that category: Shakespeare.  Their narrations were way too long for me to type up, but the stories have such a hold on their imaginations, term after term.  I'm looking forward to hitting the "real thing" in a few months.
:: They had a harder time with Marco Polo--I think all the sights started to blend together for them by the end of the book, even with our mapping exercises alongside.  They got a very good general sense of the vast differences in custom between East and West and the amazing riches and influence of the Khan, but distinguishing one city or people from another was a challenge--they remembered details from this and that and kind of mixed it all together.  We used Towle's version, but I think I may try something different when it's Cate's turn, just to see whether we like it better.

Later this week I'll share a quick peek at my kindergartener's final exam!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Keeping Company :: May Link-Up

It's time for the Keeping Company link-up for May!

I was so pleased to see some new participants last month!  And of course there were many inspiring entries from returning bloggers, whom I've come to feel a Keeping kinship toward. :)  I know you all feel the same because I see the kind comments you leave on one another's posts.  Thank you for the community!

A few favorites from the Instagram #KeepingCompanyCM this month:

from left to right - rjnsix - vlcjrogers - me


:: For bloggers: You should see the linky below.  Click on the "Add my link" button, and it will prompt you to include the information for your post.  Once you submit it, your link will be added to the list, and others will be able to click over and read what you have shared.

:: For Instagrammers: Tag related photos with #KeepingCompanyCM to join the link-up.  (You can also add individual Instagram photos via the linky if you prefer.)


:: Remember to link to a specific post and not to the homepage of your blog.  

:: Posts on private blogs obviously can't be included.

:: Any posts about CM-style Keeping are welcome!  The prompt is optional.  Your post can be as simple as a photo of your commonplace book.  And please don't feel like you have to be an expert.  We are all looking to grow in these habits together. :)

:: Feel free to add more than one post.  The link-up will be open for a month, so you can come back and add more if you are so inclined.

:: You can grab the button over there on the sidebar if you'd like to add it to your post or site.

Looking forward to reading more about your spring Keeping.  And as always, thank you for sharing! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

{This and That}

So first, a little news: in my summer school post, I didn't share the most important thing I'll be doing this summer...

That's right--sweet Baby #8 is on the way and will be joining us first thing in November, God willing.  I am finally through the all-day-nausea-and-exhaustion stage and am back to my usual self, so I'm hoping to knock out a bunch of posts that have been languishing in my drafts folder over the next few months as I grow this little one! 

And yes, that means this will be yet another school year with a newborn in tow.  But let's just say we've been through that once or twice. ;)


I hope you all had a lovely Mother's Day!  We went to a beautiful Mass in honor of Our Lady with my oldest son serving and my daughters as flower girls in the outdoor rosary procession.  Nothing sweeter!  Except maybe these:


On Saturday I spent most of the day on the sofa reading.  I can't even remember the last time I did that.  Bliss.  I read The Girl on the Train from start to finish (as a new release, it was due back to the library) and also savored a few more chapters from Pilgrim's Inn, which has been sitting on hold for the last couple months.  The Girl on the Train definitely didn't live up to the hype: the perspective was intriguing (an eyewitness with compromised memory), but it was rather formulaic otherwise.  And I'm sure I'm not the only one that gets tired of inappropriate content thrown in for "grittiness."  (Sigh.)  Now Pilgrim's Inn on the other hand--so good!


A couple great articles from the past couple weeks:

And if you're looking for more reading: the May edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival is up at Amy's!


Every once in a while you get a peek at how all those readings really are clicking somewhere in there:

Gianna: You know it's kind of sad--Clara [the 2yo] wants chapstick the most, but she's the only one that's not allowed to have it.
Me: Well, I think that's why she wants it the most.
Gianna, chuckling to herself: Oh yeah, it's just like Much Ado About Nothing.
Me: Huh?
Gianna: “For it falls out
That what we have we prize not to the worth
Whiles we enjoy it, but being lacked and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
While it was ours.”
Me, attempting to be nonchalant: Yeah, I guess you're right. (!!)


We had a birthday here a few weeks ago: a sweet boy turned five.

This particular newly-five-year-old loves wrestling with big brother and Daddy, horse racing, nature drawing, climbing trees, folding and taping piles of paper into swords and spears...and vanilla ice cream with chocolate and strawberries, apparently, because that's what he chose for his birthday treat!

I have to remember to share his birthday books another time because one in particular I would highly recommend to all of you with nature-loving kids.  (How's that for a teaser?)


Since it is the month of May: Kimberlee just announced her annual Marian ATC swap!  We participate every year and it's lots of fun.  Go check it out!

I'll be back tomorrow with the Keeping Company link-up for this month, so get your posts ready! :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

What We're Reading :: In May

Charlotte Mason's Volume 6 and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's For the Children's Sake (re-reads for our CM study group)
Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (for our local book club--half finished!)
Station Eleven (pausing this one while I wait through the library queue again)
The Girl on the Train (just picked it up from the library yesterday, so I'm not sure if it's any good yet)

To the Big Kids
CS Lewis' The Silver Chair (we're doing all of Narnia on audio for summer!)
du Bois' The Twenty-One Balloons (just finished--such a fun read!)
Trevor's Sun Slower, Sun Faster (one I was hoping to hit last year to tie in with our study of the English marytrs under Elizabeth I)

Vincent, age 8
Arthur Ransome's Old Peter's Russian Tales (a great library find--love Ransome)
Marguerite Henry's Sea Star, Orphan of Chincoteague (he loves the Henry books)
Windeatt's Pauline Jaricot (complete with hummingbird bookmark--do you see it up there? :))

Gianna, age 8
Padraic Colum's The Legend of Saint Columba (she's on a Colum kick)
Robert Lawson's Rabbit Hill (one of our last reads from the AO Year 3 list)
Roald Dahl's Danny the Champion of the World (with giggles)
...and they're both reading a chapter a day from the Silversteins' Life in a Tidal Pool to prepare for beach trips this summer

Cate, age 6
Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods (mostly listening but occasionally buddy reading with big sister)

To the Littles
Palazzo's The Story of Noah's Arc (5yo Xavier's current favorite--he loves all the colors and animals)
Bemelmans' Madeline and the Bad Hat (3yo Bridget's current favorite--she's on a Madeline kick, which I'm happy to endure)
Frazee's Everywhere Babies (2yo Clara's current favorite--babies babies babies all the time!)

Books are still rolling in here and there, including a box I recently got mostly filled with books for next school year...starting to get excited!

Reading anything fun, or are you focusing on school books as you finish off the school year?