Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Second Grade in Our Home :: Exams, Term 2

I'm finally getting around to posting about our exams, which we actually took over a month ago now.  We're now several weeks into Term 3 and loving it...and I'm loving that we only have eight weeks left of school as well!  I know some of you are coming up on Term 2 exams, so that provided a bit of extra motivation to get this post up in case it's helpful to others doing Ambleside Online's Year 2.  (In case you didn't know, AO does provide sample exam questions for all years.  I usually look at those and then make changes and additions to suit our family.)

As usual, I'm posting all of our questions, then a sampling of answers, and then some thoughts on our exam experience, since that's really the most important part for me.  My goal in giving exams is ultimately to see what is working and what isn't.  So I do try to take a bit of time thinking through their answers and seeing room for improvement in terms of my methods, our book choices, and our habits.  And then ideally, I put that reflection to good use!

First, a note: I have two children in the same year and I like to give them choices as well, so each only answers about half to three quarters of the questions here, not the whole exam.

The Questions

Describe a day at the beach in Italian, using the series we learned.
Choose three things in this room to name in Italian.  "Ecco..."
Answer: "Qual colore e un elefante?  Un pettirosso?  Una scimmia?  Un corvo?  Un gabbiano?"
Recite a nursery rhyme from this term in Italian.
Count to twenty in Italian.

Recite one of the poems you memorized by Eugene Field or James Whitcomb Riley this term.
Besides the ones you memorized, what was your favorite poem that we read this term?  What was it about?

Hymn - Sing your favorite hymn we learned this term.
Folk Song - Sing "Stars and Stripes Forever" or "Turkey in the Straw."
Bible - Recite Psalm 23 or Matthew 13:31-5.

Show me all the Cs on this piano.
Play the following exercises: Mary Had a Little Lamb, The Clown Song

Physical Education:
Play a proper game of bocce ball.
Do as many push-ups as you can in 20 seconds.
Do as many sit-ups as you can in 20 seconds.

Count by 9s and 6s.
Find the remainder: 21,463 - 9,783.
How many cents is 1/8 of a dollar?
Write the following in dollars and cents:
:: 30 1/2
:: 12 1/4
:: 2 3/4
:: 5 3/8
Find the product: 42 x 45.
What is 1/8 of 32?  What is 1/3 of 27?
Complete the following timed division test.
Play a game of Corners Eighths.
Play a game of Fraction War.

Free Reading:
What was your favorite book read during free time this term?  What did you like best about it?
Draw a scene from one of the tales in The Wonder Book.

Write the following sentence in your best printing: Let martial note in triumph float and liberty extend its mighty hand.
Write the following letters in your best cursive.

Tell me about one of the things The Interpreter shows to Christian and what he learns from it.
Describe what happens to Christian when he naps in the bower and his response to it.
Draw a favorite scene from Wind in the Willows.
Tell me what you remember about All's Well That Ends Well or Cymbeline.  You can look at our character chart as you explain the story.

Tell me about the Seige of Calais or the Battle of Crecy.
Tell me about Richard the Lionhearted.
Why was King John a bad king?
Tell me what you remember about the kingdoms of West Africa.
Describe the qualities of a Gothic church.
Show me whereabouts on the map the Crusades took place.

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

Religion - Saints:
Which saint did you most enjoy reading about this term?  Tell me what you remember about him or her.

Religion - Bible Stories:
Tell me all you remember about the Wedding at Cana or the Raising of Lazarus from the dead, using as many specific details from the biblical text as you can.

Religion - Study of the Mass:
Tell me what you remember about the Canon.
What are the various meanings behind the Offertory?

Religion - Catechism:
Answer the following catechism questions from our First Holy Communion prep last year.
Name some of the "types" for Our Lord or Holy Communion that are found in the Old Testament.  What is a type and how does it help us spiritually?

Tell me about the natives of South America.  What do they eat, what do they hunt, how do they live?
What was your favorite animal described in The World at Home, and what do you remember about it?
From Highroads of Geography, tell me about the people of China that "Father" encountered during his travels.
What role does Theodore Roosevelt play in Brighty and the Grand Canyon?
Fill in this map of the Western states of America, paying careful attention to spelling.
Draw the outline of these states from memory: Texas, California, Wyoming, Montana, Utah.

Nature Study:
Tell me all you can about an animal we have read about this term from The Burgess Animal Book, including its looks and habits.
Sketch from memory one new thing we saw on a nature study outing this term and tell me all you can about it.  It can be a bird, wildflower, leaf, or some other discovery.

Complete this warm-up activity as carefully as you can.

Music Study:
Tell me a favorite scene from Mozart: The Wonder Boy.

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

Show something you have made in sewing/woodworking to Daddy.

The Answers

Note: For the drawn narrations here that include written descriptions, I let them choose whether they would prefer to write these themselves or have me write for them.  They both chose to write themselves, so I helped them with spelling and pronunciation when asked.

From Wind in the Willows:

Sketch of Vermeer's "Young Woman with a Water Pitcher"

Map drill

The Seige of Calais from Our Island Story, by Vincent
King Edward, after he had been riding around France for some time, came to a town called Calais. There, knowing it would not be good to fight the people, he decided to try to starve them out. So he ordered his soldiers to build a ring of houses around the town. They did this, and the soldiers stayed there to live. The people realized after a bit that the food was running out, and they sent a message to their king to come, and after twelve months, he came with a big army. And the people were glad when they saw it. But before he came, he allowed all the old people to leave the city, knowing they could not fight. Instead of killing them, King Edward III gave them a good dinner, a bit of money, and sent them on their way. The people saw their king talk to Edward, but no fighting was there. Then they saw the king's army drive away, and tears came in their eyes. The governor stood on the wall and waved the flag. Two knights came to see what it meant. They asked to be freed, but the knight said, “I'll beg as hard as I can for you, but I don't think you'll be able to.” The king wasn't going to let them, but after all the knights begged, the king said that he would free them if they would bring six men of the town, bringing along with them the keys. All the people were crying. Then, the richest person of all, who was a merchant, raised his hand and said that he would be one of them. Then another and another and another came up until there were all six. Then, as the king said, they were put with no shoes but only shirts. The governor took them, and people followed them until they came to the gates of the city. Then the knights took them to the king. The king, after receiving the keys, ordered for their heads to be cut off, because the people of Calais had been destroying his ships. All the knights and soldiers begged, but he just asked where were the headmen. At last, Queen Philippa begged and said, “I have never asked a favor of you, and this will be my only favor: to let these six men free, because they have been brave to save their town.” But King Edward sighed and said, “I wish you were anywhere else but here. I can never disobey you. So take the six men. They are yours and do whatever you want with them.” So she gave them a good dinner, which they had not had in a long time, and gave them large sums of money, and sent them back. And that was how the Seige of Calais ended.

What Christian Was Shown by the Interpreter from Pilgrim's Progress, by Gianna
The Interpreter took Christian to a room where a man was getting out of bed. He was trembling, as Christian saw. He asked the Interpreter why, and the Interpreter bade him go speak with the man. Christian asked the man why he was trembling, and he said that he had had a bad dream. “And pray, what was your dream?” said Christian. “I dreamt,” said the man, “that the time of judgment had come and I was not ready for it. And God raised everyone so that they were not dead anymore, and the whole time, he was looking just at me. And I was also frightened because I was right near Hell.” Christian learned that he must always be ready for the time of judgment.

How King John Was a Bad King from Our Island Story, by Gianna
King John was king right after Richard the Lionhearted, but right when he was made king, he started being bad. He hated his people and put very hard taxes on them, and the poor had to pay as much as the rich, and it made life very hard for them. The next thing he did: he had a nephew called Arthur. He was afraid that Arthur would be made king in his stead if he kept on being bad. Arthur was by that time was being taken care of by a man. King John ordered the man to take Arthur's eyes out. The man woke up Arthur and told him what King John had said. “Why will you take out my eyes? You will not do it, will you?” said Little Arthur. “But the king has told me to,” said the man. “Well, you will not, will you?” said Arthur. So the man didn't, and he instead he didn't do anything. When King John heard of this, he was sort of at rest, for he felt guilty for ordering this. But still he was full of envy. He did not want Arthur to live because Arthur would probably be made king. So he decided one day while he was sleeping that Arthur would be killed. I don't know if it was by King John's own hand or one of his men's. He was also bad in many other ways. He was always robbing the people, and almost every day the taxes became heavier and heavier. King John's reign was a really bad one.

And some thoughts:

:: In the past, I have considered the drawing of our character map and a bit of talking together about the play as we go along to be sufficient for a narration for our Shakespeare plays.  This past term, I still did both of those things but I also had them give proper narrations as we read.  And they were much more confident about the Shakespeare question this time around.  I don't think that was a coincidence.  
:: That said, both of their narrations from Cymbeline were ridiculously long!  Next time, I'm not sure they need the character map, or perhaps I need to make a more directed prompt--some alteration so that I'm not transcribing ten minutes of content for each of them!
:: Our work in Italian is paying off--they have definitely improved from last term.  That was the motivation I needed to keep going strong on that bit of daily practice I have committed to.
:: They gave really wonderful narrations for the first two questions in the geography section, both taken from the Kirbys' The World at Home.  This is a book Charlotte Mason herself recommended, and I decided to add to our reading list this year.  It is outdated in many ways but appealingly written with fascinating facts about plants, animals, natives, habits, and all sorts of things from all over the world.  We read two small chapters each week and I don't have them narrate it, but it must be capturing their imagination as their memory of that book is quite good.
:: Same with Opal Wheeler's Mozart biography.  I added it as a non-narrated book to our syllabus--basically as a relevant, assigned free read.  Still, their narrations were very vivid.  I attribute that to the quality of the book.
:: They did very well on their dictated printing selection (we don't do dictation yet, so that was a nice surprise) but struggled with the cursive prompt.  I realized it's because I haven't been watching them to make sure they are doing all the strokes from memory.  I have been teaching them the proper order of strokes, then leaving them to form the letters.  They are doing that quite well, but they're not looking closely at the letter to imprint that visual image, then working the strokes from memory.  I didn't make that connection until this exam, and I have adjusted that now.  I'm hoping to see a bit more progress by the end of this term.


  1. Celeste, this is truly impressive. What a rigorous exam for Year 2, and what amazing narrations! You must be a wonderful teacher. :)

    May I please ask, what is the book called The World Around Us? That isn't on the standard book list, is it?

    1. Hi there, I can't claim any responsibility for the exam results--it's really the wonderful booklist, Miss Mason's methods, and my own children's personalities (they are naturally very eager learners). :)

      "The World Around Us" was a typo! For some reason I am always tempted to write that instead of the proper name, which is "The World at Home," written by the Kirbys. LOL I updated the post, so thanks for catching it for me--I don't want to confuse people! :) You can read it for free online here: http://books.google.com/books/about/The_World_at_Home_Or_Pictures_and_Scenes.html?id=FAUBAAAAYAAJ

      It is not scheduled in AO, but CM mentions it in her notes on geography in Volume 1. Like I said, it's a bit outdated in some ways, but it's so very engaging in others that I've chosen to add it anyway. It's a long book, so we're reading two chapters per week for this year (and probably next). I wrote about this and some other geography ideas here: http://joyouslessons.blogspot.com/2013/04/young-students-and-fairyland-in.html

      Hope that helps!

  2. Thank you for the link to the book Celeste - I have downloaded it and will take a look at it later.

    I was so impressed by your exam because I did Year 2 last year with my son, and I am sure he never produced a narration so complete, nor is his writing or drawing at that level...it's very frustrating because he's incredibly bright and perceptive, but he seems quite unable to concentrate on schoolwork. We seem to be unable to advance to his grade level in Math at all because he can never remember anything he's done before. I have followed Miss Mason's methods with him but to no avail! His powers of concentration are just not there.

    1. I can understand your frustrations--we have concentration/remembering issues here too at times, just not with schoolwork! Sigh. LOL I'm not sure if you have already seen this, but the AO Forums has a board for Exams, and lots of people share sample answers and whatnot there...the level of detail in children's answers is so variable! So much depends on personality, age, interest level, timing, etc. I hope you start seeing those years of CM methods bearing fruit very soon--and I'm sure they are, even if that fruit isn't visible yet!

  3. Love it all!! Such great work and so detailed. We just finished our end of term exams too. We spanned the whole gamut - 3rd, 6th, 10th and 12th, yikes!! Thanks for sharing :) Wishing you a blessed Lent Celeste.

    1. Thank you, Meredith. And seeing you juggling all those grades at once--that's me seeing my future! LOL

  4. I love the Wind in the Willows pictures! We listened to that as an audiobook a couple of years ago and one of my kids kept asking to listen to the "Whack 'em and whack 'em" part over and over again. That is a favorite book in my family.

    Wonderful drawings, and fantastic narrations! Isn't it so exciting to see how these living ideas are gaining hold in the children's minds?

    1. My son absolutely adored Wind in the Willows, especially that part at the end. So did my daughter! The two of them were giggling and giggling over them taking back Toad Hall, so I wasn't surprised at all when they both chose to draw that part. I'm actually already looking forward to reading it again with my next-student-in-line when she's in Year 2 in a couple years!

  5. I am about to give my daughter the Y2 Term 2 test. I am curious to see what she will remember of OIS. I have already forgotten about the Battle of Crecy and the Seige of Calais. While she gives wonderful narrations after the chapter, I wonder if she still remembers them. I find there are so many battles and kings I can not keep them straight!

    1. Oh, trust me--I can't keep them straight either! LOL Somehow, they can, though. :) Best of luck on your exams with your daughter!

  6. I just found your blog and am quite impressed. My kids still don't give narrations in that detail and they are much older. Since they are both doing the same year, do you separate them when doing the exam questions or do they hear each others narrations? Just wondering how your day looks during exam week. Thanks!

    1. These were two very chatty second graders! :) For the questions they are both going to answer, I separate them. They may come to me individually while the other is working on a drawn narration in the other room, or one might talk into the audio recorder in the other room and one might stay in with me. Many of the questions I pose as options ("do you want to answer this one or this one?") and if they choose differently, I have them listen to the other's narration for the one they didn't choose. They like listening to each other so often they will pick different ones to answer on purpose so that they can hear. :) Hope that helps!