Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cate's Kindergarten :: Exams, Term 1

I definitely would not plan formal exams for these early years!  But my current kindergartener was absolutely not satisfied to sit on the sidelines while the big kids spend exam week with Mommy. ;)

She eagerly joined the big kids for Italian questions, recitation in all categories (especially singing!), and physical education exercises.  And then I did a few very short questions specifically for her, composed on the fly:

List out to me all five Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary and tell me about one of them.

Complete this review sheet.

Reading Skill
Read three pages in this Bob book to me.
Tell me what letter makes the middle sound in these words: cat, cup, mop, pig

Fine Motor Skills
Cut this paper as carefully along the line as you can.

Copy your name, forming the letter correctly.

Vacuum this room, for inspection.

Natural History
What is one thing we saw during our beach outings?  Tell me all you can about it.
List out ten birds we see in our area.  Tell me about your favorite.

We won't be doing any formal narration until she is six, but she has heard her older siblings narrate a million times, so she was so tickled to get her chance to chatter to Mommy "for school."  

And for next term's exams, I'll be sure to have a few questions ready for her!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Third Grade in Our Home :: Exams, Term 1

As usual, some of the exam questions are my own and some are from the wonderful sample exam questions over at Ambleside Online.  I usually look at those first and then make changes and additions to suit our family.  And keep in mind that I have two children in Year 3, so they aren't both answering all these questions--I give them options.

The Questions

Translate the following sentence:  I like when I go on the swings and the slide.  I see the stroller on the sidewalk.
Describe three actions you do in the backyard using complete sentences.
Answer the following questions: "Che tempo fa in dicembre?  Che indossi?  Che tempo fa in luglio?  Che indossa la ragazza in luglio?"
Translate the following numbers into Italian: 92, 87, 63, 16, 58
Recite "Pioggia, pioggia vai via" or "Piove, la gatta non si muove."

Recite one of the poems you memorized by William Blake.
Besides the ones you memorized, what was your favorite poem that we read this term?  What was it about?

Play your recital songs.

Physical Education:
Do ten burpees.
See how many pushups you can do without stopping.
Do first through fifth positions of the feet in ballet, with accompanying arm positions. (for Gianna only)

Draw a circle with a diameter of four inches using your compass.  Then create a regular decagon within this circle using your ruler and goniometer.  
Then answer the following questions:
 - What is the measurement of each internal angle?
 - What is the length of each side?  What is the perimeter of the decagon?
 - What is the circumference of the circle? (for Vincent only)
 - What is the area of the decagon? 
Estimate the area of the circle.
See how fast you can do your 8s Wrap-Up.
Do the following long division problems, writing remainders as a fraction.

Free Reading:
What was your favorite book read during free time this term?  What did you like best about it?
Draw a scene from Men of Iron or The Little White Horse.  Describe briefly which scene you have illustrated, either in writing or orally.

Sing "Ave Verum Corpus" or "Come Holy Ghost."

Folk Song:
Sing "Dixie" or "Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night."

Recitation - Bible:
Recite the Last Gospel or Psalm 129.

Recitation - Prayers:
Recite the Confiteor in English or the St. Michael Prayer in Latin.

Write the following sentence in your best printing: "The queen went stumping along in one shoe of stone and one of skin."
Now copy that sentence in your best cursive.

Tell of Christian's experience in Vanity Fair or of his encounter with Talkative.
Tell your favorite part of The Princess and the Goblin.
Tell me the story of Pericles or The Merchant of Venice.  You can look at our character chart as you explain the story.
Tell me about Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill.
Why does Perseus embark on his dangerous journey, and what help does he get?

Tell me about one of the Marys: Mary I of England or Mary Queen of Scots.  How was each related to Queen Elizabeth I?
Tell me about the circumstances surrounding the departure of either Martin Luther or Henry VIII from the Catholic Church.
What does Renaissance mean and why is it called that?
Which of Michelangelo's projects did you like best?  Describe the commission, the piece itself, and his process of creating it as best you can.
Did the earliest settlers from Spain and France get along with the natives in America?  Why or why not?

Reading Skill:
Please read this passage aloud in your clearest voice.

Religion - Bible Stories:
Show me Capaernum on the map and describe, using biblical language if you can, one of the events in the life of Our Lord that took place there.

Religion - Angels:
How were angels involved in the life of Our Lord according to the biblical account?
What was your favorite story about angels from the Old Testament?  Tell me all you can about it.

Religion - Study of the Mass:
Share with me your favorite line so far from The Story of the Mass.

Religion - Catechism:
What kinds of mortification are asked of us?  How can mortifications aid us in the spiritual life?
Tell me the story of the wedding garment and what it symbolizes.
What is needed for a sin to be mortal?

Tell me about Tartary.  What animals live there, and what is the geography like?  Where is it on our modern map?
Fill in this map of America, paying careful attention to spelling for all the states.
Chart Marco Polo's journey so far on a map of the world.  Describe one of the sights he encounters along the way.

Nature Study:
Sketch and label three sea creatures we have read about this term from Pagoo.
Choose one of those sea creatures and tell me all you can about it.
What is plankton?
Describe the nicest walk you have had this term. What did you find?

Complete this warm-up activity as carefully as you can.
Sketch a cup showing its volume.  Note where your light source is coming from.

Music Study:
Tell me a favorite scene from Opal Wheeler's Bach.
Hum the theme from one of the Bach selections we enjoyed this term.
What is a "classic," as described by Thomas Tapper?

Picture Study:
Choose one of Monet's paintings and describe it as well as you can or sketch it.

Handicraft - Chores:
Clean the downstairs bathroom for inspection.
Mop the downstairs bathroom and laundry room for inspection.

The Answers

Just a sampling of answers here, for variety...

Christian and Faithful's experience in Vanity Fair from Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, by Vincent
Christian and Faithful came to a city, and it was called Vanity Fair because there was a fair all year.  In this fair was sold vanities.  Christian and Faithful did not spend a single penny.  Some of the people were angry at them and they ended up telling the chief of the fair that he had said their thing was rubbish and vanity.  So Christian and Faithful were thrown into prison.  A voice told Faithful to be brave, and Faithful was the first one to be tried.  Ten witnesses were brought and witnessed against him.  Some said they could bear to see him no longer.  Some said he was a rogue.  And it was asked what death Faithful should have, and someone said hanging, and the chief said that wasn't good enough.  So they put him to the most horrible death they could.  First, they beat him with irons, and then they burned his body to ashes at the stake.  Meawhile, while Chrstian and Faithful were in prison, they had been talking with the other people about their faith.  The people were so happy about Faithful's death that they didn't much mind Christian, and he was able to escape with one of the men he had converted, whose name was Hopeful.

Pecos Bill from Stoutenberg's American Tall Tales, by Vincent
Pecos Bill came from a family that lived in Texas with twenty brothers and sisters. The family decided to move because Texas was getting a bit too crowded. When they did, Pecos Bill flew out of the wagon. But since they had so many children, it was two weeks before they noticed that he was gone. When Pecos Bill flew out of the wagon, he just sat there on the grass and watched a pack of wolves eating a dead deer. A female wolf gave him a chunk of deer. Pecos Bill had never eaten raw meat before, but he took a bite of it to please the wolf. He found it tasted quite good, so he toddled over and joined the other wolves. He kept on living with the wolves, and he learned how to howl like them. He kept on doing this until he thought he was a wolf.

One day, a cowboy came and he saw Pecos Bill. He asked Pecos Bill to come with him to the ranch, but Pecos Bill said he was a coyote. They kept on arguing until finally the cowboy made a point: he said that Pecos Bill had no tail like the other coyotes did. Sure enough, Pecos Bill had no tail, so he followed the cowboy.

Pecos Bill invented the lasso, and also the six-shooter. In those days there were many horse stealers, and Pecos Bil had to think of making a six-shooter. The cowboys asked him what it was, and Bill replied, "It's a gun that holds six bullets at a time." In those days, it was hard to keep your cow from running off. A cowboy had to just lie down in the grass, and put a noose down, and wait for the cow to step in it. So he made a lasso.

Pecos Bill once met a rattlesnake--he was riding a mountain lion then--and the cowboy he had first met went thundering on ahead because he was afraid of the snake. He heard Pecos Bill say, "Mr. Rattler, I'm going to make the poison come out of you, but I'll let you have the first three bites to make it fair!" And Bill did what he said: after the rattlesnake took the first three bites, he wound the snake up and made a noose out of him and beat him against a chain until all the poison came out. Once a cow was running away when he came near the ranch, and Pecos Bill just threw his lasso over it, and the cow was caught, so the cowboys began making more of them. Once when there was no water, Pecos Bill went out of Texas to find some water. He met a cyclone, and he threw his lasso around his neck and squeezed it until all the dust came out. Under the dust was all water.

One day he saw a girl riding on a huge fish. When he learned her name was Sue, he decided to marry her, and they had fourteen children, seven girls and seven boys. And the boys became cowboys and the girls cowgirls.

"The Merchant of Venice" from Lambs' Tales from Shakspeare, by Gianna
Once there was a man called Antonio. There was also a man called Shylock. Antonio was a man who lended money for free. Shylock was a man who lended money and then you have to pay him back and give him interest also. These were mortal enemies. You might as well expect that, as people would rather go to Antonio than to Shylock, who was the one who lended for interest.

Now, Antonio had a friend, Bassanio, and Bassanio was in need of money because he wanted to marry a girl called Portia. Antonio, who didn't have any money at the time, went to Shylock, and Shylock said that Antonio would have to pay him back by a certain time or else he would have to take a pound of flesh. And Antonio agreed, and so they had a bond. And so Bassanio got to marry Portia. And Graziano, Bassanio's servant, and Nerissa, Portia's maid, also got married. The girls both gave Bassanio and Graziano each a ring.

One time, Bassanio got a letter. Soon, his face turned pale. Portia asked him what was the matter, and Bassanio said that his dear friend, Antonio, had gone into prison because his ships had not returned, and the time when he should pay Shylock back was already at hand, and he had not paid him. And he also said that he must go to see his friend. "Shylock will cut off a pound of Antonio's flesh if he doesn't pay," said Bassanio. And so he went. Bassanio had taken Graziano with him. They both went to where Antonio was imprisoned.

Portia was quite disturbed on hearing her husband. So was Nerissa. Meanwhile, Portia and Nerissa had a plan. Portia had a friend called Balthazar. He was a clerk of the law. Portia dressed as him, and made Nerissa as her helper, and they too went to the place where Antonio was to be judged.

She went there and found Shylock waiting for Antonio. He was growling impatiently, for he wanted the time to come very soon when he would cut off Antonio's flesh. Portia went to him and asked him to have "Mercy, mercy, sir!" But he would not, though she asked him many times. Then she asked the judge, "Let me see the bond." And so he gave her the bond and she read it. Then she started thinking and turned to Shylock. "You mustn't let a drop of blood fall out. You cannot bleed him to death, you see. It says nothing about death in this bond here." Shlyock growled. "Go on," continued Portia, "go on, there's Antonio--you must cut off his flesh." "But remember," she added, "not a drop more than a pound." Shlyock knew that this was impossible. How could he not let blood drip if he cut out a pound?

Bassanio had some money ready--the money which Antonio should have paid. "Give me the money," said Shyock. "No, no," said Portia, "you must cut off his flesh." Shylock was soon discovered and the duke put him in prison instead of Antonio. And when his judgment came, it was decided that his money would go to the land.

The judge turned to Bassanio when Shlyock was gone and said, "Why don't you thank this kind lawyer for freeing your friend?" Bassanio had his gloves off, and Portia searched him to see what she wanted for her payment. She finally chose the ring that she had given him and that he had promised not to part with. He tried to say no, but he was reminded that the judge was there, and so he gave it to her. Meanwhile, Nerissa had been searching Graziano, and took his ring also. The two girls fled giggling that they would accuse their husbands of giving the ring to another woman.

When they got home, Portia asked, "Where is your ring?" "Ah," said Bassanio, "I had to give it to some young lawyer for saving Antonio's life." "Some young lawyer indeed? It was probably some woman!" "No, I tell you, it was an officer of the law." "No it wasn't," said Portia. Soon they were quarreling. Finally, Portia and Nerissa told who it really had been and the story was made clear.

Mary, Queen of Scots from Our Island Story, by Gianna
Mary was cousin to Elizabeth.  She married the King of France, but he died about two years after the marriage.  She sailed sadly back to Scotland, saying to herself, "Adieu, France, adieu!"  When she got to Scotland, she made war with Elizabeth.  Mary was put in prison by Elizabeth.  She stayed there a long time, and when she came out of prison to die, she looked old though she was really young.  After her death, her dog thought she was still alive and whined around her grave.

Some Thoughts

I really appreciate the opportunity that exams provide me to reconsider the ways in which I'm presenting the material and guiding their learning.
:: I switched to time-based penmanship this year (I used to assign 1-2 lines per day, now it's five minutes) and we're making the same amount of progress.  Good news there!
:: I feel like we have finally hit a stride with our Italian.  The children answered their exam questions in Italian with confidence, which was not the case in any other term.
:: We are still very much enjoying the Opal Wheeler biographies.  Even though I consider them supplemental and don't have my kids narrate them, they're still able to vividly recall scenes from the book when it comes to exam time.  And that has been a "peg" for them to hang the music we listen to on.  They are both story-loving children, so the addition has been good for us as a kind of history supplement that meshes with our music appreciation work.
:: They recited their Blake poems with ease, but they had trouble of thinking of others besides the ones they selected for memorization that impressed them.  That has never been the case for any other term, and they really enjoy poetry in general, so Blake was evidently not a favorite.
:: We spent this term training in new chores.  I am so happy to see their progress in this area!  It's such a blessing to our family.  But I think all of us (and the kids in particular--ha!) will be happy to move on to something more artistic next term.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

{This and That}

Happy Sunday!  Last week was a bit of a blur--it was actually a good week, but so busy.  I'm feeling much more balanced now thanks to some binge reading of The Giver quartet, a long run, and a nap...

...and a lovely morning with friends on Friday studying grass.  Yes, grass!

It was actually lots of fun.  Our goal is to identify as many of our local wild grasses as we can.  I have pictures of the varieties we found and will be working on figuring them out for the next couple weeks.  It's the perfect assignment for a drought season.

(And we found a skeleton, maybe of a possum?  That upped the excitement factor a tad too.)


And it doesn't hurt that I finally have this in my hands:

My hard copy is set to arrive tomorrow or the next day, but I have a soft copy loaded to my tablet right now.  I've read just the foreword so far--by none other than David Hicks, of Norms and Nobility fame--and I can already tell it's going to be wonderful.  (By the way, Karen is giving away a couple copies on her website, so head over to enter!)


Speaking of books, I finally got out our fall books--my favorite season, and some of my favorite books to read aloud.  The simple, soothing lines of Rylant's In November, the charming illustrations and sweet rhythm of Now It's Fall...  Have I written about fall books already here?  I guess I haven't.  Suffice it to say that those are two of our very favorites for this time of year.  I'll have to spotlight those and a few others soon.


You know you have a lot of children when...

...they take up every swing at the park.  (And I was wearing the baby!)


And more book chat: we're listening to By the Shores of Silver Lake right now, on audiobook read by Cherry Jones, usually a chapter a day.  The Little House series was my very favorite as a girl; it's one of the few books from my childhood that I can remember reading over and over.  I would finish the last one and start on the first again.  But it has been ages since I read it, and I forgot how powerful Laura Ingalls Wilder's writing is.  There are turns of phrase that take my breath away.  Such a quintessentially American voice.

Even my kindergartener has been inspired. :)


I'm looking to do a pond study this term at one of our favorite spots.  

I have relevant sections marked in the Handbook of Nature Study and Natural Science Through the Seasons, and Donald Silver's One Small Square: Pond is currently waiting for me at the library.  We're all about wonder-based science here, so my overall goal is to let the kids observe and study without too much intervention on my part, but anyone have other suggestions?  I'm all ears!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Third Grade in Our Home :: Morning Basket, Term 2

First, a note: Just as in the past, I use the term "Morning Basket" to refer to all the work we do together as a family, with the littles. But even though I call it Morning Basket for organizational purposes, it is really broken up into two parts: that which is done over breakfast, and that which is done at the end of our Naptime School block.  Our Morning Basket is still very much the same as we did it last year, so if you'd like to read more specifics about how it works for us, feel free to click over to read more.  ~~ You can read about our Morning Basket for Term 1 here.

A look at our Morning Basket plans for this Term 2 of this year...

Over Breakfast

Calendar Work - in English and Italian (daily)

Poetry - a poem daily from our poet for the term, Sara Teasdale (daily)

Short Reading - from one of the following:
:: Thomas Tapper's Music Talks for Children (one chapter per week)
:: the Kirbys' The World at Home (two chapers per week)
:: Benson's A Child's Rule of Life (one page per week)
:: Benson's An Alphabet of Saints (one page per week)
:: "Fra Angelico" from Steedman's Knights of Art (a bit per week)
:: Opal Wheeler's Frederic Chopin, Son of Poland, Early Years and Frederic Chopin, Son of Poland, Later Years (a chapter per week)

I chose these for our Morning Basket work rather scheduling them during Naptime School for several reasons: they're all short readings, have general appeal, and are not narrated.

Read-Aloud - with any breakfast time I have left before the babies start fussing, I read from one of our scheduled read-alouds: The Water Babies or At the Back of the North Wind.

In the Afternoon

Memory Work (daily) - includes review of that day's items from our memory "notebook" as well as our current selections:
:: Hymns - "Holy Holy Holy" and "Panis Angelicus"
:: Folk Song - "Barbara Allen," "Home Sweet Home," and "Highland Mary"
:: Bible - The Parable of the Good Samaritan
:: Prayers - Cardinal Newman's Prayer for a Happy Death and St. Alphonsus' Night Prayer
:: Poetry - William Blake's "Tyger," Sara Teasdale's "The Ballad of Two Knights," "The Faery Forest," "Rhyme of November Stars," "Thoughts"
:: Shakespeare - The Taming of the Shrew 2.1.168-180
:: Bird Calls - House Finch, Red-Winged Blackbird, Killdeer

We move on to a new selection once we have the previous selection memorized rather than on a regular schedule, so our plans are just that--plans.  We may end up doing more than just these.  I'll update our Memory Work index with the ones we cover.

And this year, we're combining Memory Work and Movement, so while we're reviewing our previous selections, the kids are doing jumping jacks, situps, pushups, burpees, and dancing.  It's been a happy marriage of activities for us so far--and it keeps the littles busy.

Italian Memory Work (daily) - The older three and I cover new concepts, games, and conversation at a different time of the day, but we do our Italian memory work with the littles:
:: Rhymes - "La bella lavanderia" and "Giro giro tondo" from Filastrocche Italiane
:: Songs - "Tu canterai, "Cosi fan," "Giro giro tondo" from Teach Me Everyday Italian
:: Series - "I do something every day"

Picture Study on Fra Angelico (once weekly) - two weeks for each piece, alternating between observation/narration and a picture sketch
:: The Last Judgement, 1432-1435
:: Transfiguration of Christ, 1437-1446
:: The Madonna with Saints, 1438-1443
:: The Deposition from the Cross, 1443
:: The Annunciation, 1450
:: Adoration of the Magi, 1445

Music Study on Frederick Chopin (once weekly) - two weeks for each piece, including attentive listening and discussion
:: Waltz in D-flat major, Op. 64, No. 1 - Minute Waltz
:: Piano Concerto No. 2 Movement 3 - Funeral March
:: Piano Concerto No. 1
:: Waltz in E-flat major - Grande valse brillante
:: Prelude No. 4 in E Minor
:: Op 10 no 12 Revolutionary Etude in C minor

Friday, October 3, 2014

{This and That}

Popping in to share a few bits and bobs...


Brandy at Afterthoughts is doing another Charlotte Mason series for the month of October.  Last year, she covered 31 Days of Charlotte Mason, and I wrote a post about poetry, a topic dear to my heart.  This year, she's spearheading Busted: 31 Days of CM Myths, which is fabulous so far.  I'll be contributing my thoughts on the hands-on aspects of a Charlotte Mason education later in the month.


September is a big birthday month here--I have three girls with birthdays in September.  And you know what that means: more books entering our home in the form of birthday gifts for my sweeties.

I already shared Bridget's special books.

Gianna received a few lovely hardbacks to replace some of her worn paperback favorites:

Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales
the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series
Spyri's Heidi, will illustrations by Ruth Sanderson

And Baby Clara (she can still be a baby if she's two, right?!) got some library favorites for her very own...

Mem Fox's Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
Hurd's The Merry Chase
Flack's The Story about Ping

...and a new one for us: 

Dawn and Peter Cope's Humpty Dumpty's Favorite Nursery Rhymes.  I'll warn you that the printing quality of this one is lower quality than Cooper Eden's The Glorious Mother Goose, a favorite compilation that I have mentioned before.  But the vintage illustrations chosen are just as lovely.


Bridget just started drawing representationally all of the sudden and gosh, I just love this stage.  I have a new creation waiting for me on the counter every day, which she happily titles for me.

Birthday Cake with Lit Candles
Girl with Flower Skirt and Veil

See?  Melt, melt, melt.


We just finished up our Term 1 exams and are on to Term 2 next week!  I've said it before and I'll say it again: we just love the Ambleside Online book selections.  Our Year 3 books are just fantastic.  Favorites so far are PagooHeroesThe Princess and the GoblinMen of Iron, and The Little White Horse...I'll stop there, but I could go on and on. 


I'll be sharing our exam experience (as usual) and our Term 2 Morning Basket plans (which share a lot in common with our Term 1 selections) in the next couple weeks.  And I'm also working on a few more Nature Study at the Beach posts, a couple follow-ups to my discussion of non-fiction books, an update on our chore routine and our Italian plans...

(Because posting about what you're going to post about is as good as actually posting about it, right?  Or something like that.)


Today is the traditional feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a favorite of our family.  Story of a Soul was the first saints' book I read before converting to the Church, and I have had a devotion to her ever since.  It's also my Gianna Therese's name day and my littlest girl's baptismal anniversary.

If you have a daughter, I highly recommend Little Therese, written by Pere Carbonel and published by Lepanto Press.  Gianna has read it so many times she has certain sections memorized.

If I were more organized, I'd serve eclairs for teatime.  (Or these rose cupcakes!  Jessica is one of those people that always inspires.)  Instead, I'm planning to throw some coloring pages at them and call it a day.  But we do love St. Therese!


Wishing you a happy weekend!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Nature Study at the Beach :: Dune Flowers

Our local coastline vacillates between rocky terrain and long stretches of sandy beach backed by towering dunes.  We have had opportunities to explore both these past few months--sometimes in the same location.  But I'm going to focus on the latter today: the dunes.

Two of the beaches we frequented had dune trails to explore, and although we weren't up for a long hike along the dunes with all the littles in tow, the older few and I were able to spend some time observing and identifying the common dune flowers.

ocean bluff milkvetch
beach primrose
coastal sagewort
sand verbena
tufted poppy
california deerweed/broom
ice plants
One morning when we were there, a group of scientists and students from the nearby university were among the dunes taking measurements.  The local ecologists have been trying to reintroduce native species to the area in an effort to support the local wildlife that feed on and live in those native plants and to protect the dune habitat from wind erosion.  Year by year, they measure the dunes and the growth of native and invasive plants, charting whether their efforts are having an effect.  That's just the kind of "citizen science" project I'd like to involve the kids in if we were closer.

I have a soft spot for flowers that can grow even upon rocks and in sandy soil and protect our local beaches.  The plants' striking greens and bright blooms against the hazy beiges and blues of the beach landscape is such a lovely one.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

St. Michael the Archangel...

Popping in quickly this Sunday morning to share: I made a novena card for the traditional feast of St. Michael the Archangel, coming up on September 29th, and I thought your family might enjoy using it too.

Wishing you a lovely Sunday!