Monday, November 9, 2015

Cate's First Grade :: Exams, Term 1

A look at Cate's first grade exams, based off of AmblesideOnline's Year 1:

The Questions

Natural History
What is your favorite bird we have read about so far from the Burgess Bird Book? Tell me all you can about it.
Tell me the story of Moses the Kitten or Only One Woof.

Tell the story of Alfred and the Cakes or the story of Cornelia's Jewels.
Tell me what you remember about Horatius at the bridge or Androcles and the lion.
In the chapters we have read of Our Island Story so far, who has been trying to conquer Britain? Was it easy for them to be conquered? 
Tell me what you remember about Bodicaea or Caractacus.
Illustrate one scene from the life of Benjamin Franklin.

Tell me about one of the saints we read about this term.
Describe what happened to Joseph in Egypt.
What must you do to make a proper confession?
What was your favorite story of First Communion Days?

Free Reading
Who was your favorite character in The Secret Garden and why?

Reading Skill
Identify the middle sound in the following words.  mug, dog, mom, dad, cat, lit, pig, pet.
Sound out these words.  Then tell me two words that rhyme with each of them.
Finish reading Small Pig to me.

Play a game of Money War with Xavier.
Total the amounts for these coins.
Partition 15 using your abacus.
Play a game of Corners with Mommy.
Complete these addition problems.
What time is it?

Write your full name and the names of our family members in your best hand.

Memory Work
Recite Robert Louis Stevenson's "Rain" or "At the Sea-Side."
Sing "Dona Nobis Pacem" or "Veni Creator Spiritus."
Sing "Scarborough Fair" or "The Ballad of Davy Crockett."
Recite a passage from Much Ado About Nothing.

Show me where Paddle is traveling through now.  What is one interesting thing he encountered so far on his journey?
Narrate our weekly run to me.

Say the days of the week or the months of the year in Italian.
Sing a song in Italian.
Tell me three things about our yard in Italian.
Describe someone in the family, including what they are wearing and what kind of personality they have.

Illustrate the poems you memorized by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Besides those poems, what was your favorite poem by Stevenson that we read this term?

Physical Education
Do five jumping jacks correctly. Do five push-ups correctly.
Complete our three-mile run with only two walk breaks.

What kind of stories did Aesop write? Tell me your favorite Aesop's fable, including your understanding of the moral.
What was your favorite fairy tale we have read this term? Tell me the story.
Draw a scene from Much Ado about Nothing.   
Choose one of the animals from Just So Stories that we have read about so far and tell me Kipling's version of how it came to look as it does.

Complete a drawing page from your teacher.

Picture Study
Choose one of Velazquez's  paintings and describe it as well as you can.

Music Study
Who was our composer for this term?  Tell me about one of his compositions.

Play your recital piece for the family.

Complete this embroidery project for your sister.

The Answers 
(Just a sampling.  These were all oral narrations that I audio recorded and then transcribed for my records.)

from Aesop's Fables
One day three boys went to the pond.  In the pond there were frogs.  They picked up rocks and threw the rocks into the pond.  The frogs didn’t like it because they might die, but the boys didn’t stop.  The biggest and fattest frog poked his head out the water and said, “You are going to make us die.  Would it be better if you would stop throwing rocks into the water or if we died?”  This is the lesson: if you keep throwing rocks into the water, then we will die.  So that is not a good choice.

"Androcles and the Lion" from Fifty Famous Stories
Androcles was a man.  He found a cave, a very dark cave, and he went into that cave.  He was scared at first, but then he went in wthout being scared.  A lion came up to him, roaring, and he saw that the lion had a little needle inside its foot.  So he pulled out the needle.  A chief came to Androcles and said that Androcles would fight a lion for not listening to the chief.  So Androcles was brought one day, and crowds of people came to watch the fight.  He heard the lion roaring and he didn’t want to fight with the lion, but when the lion saw him, he was so glad that he had pulled out the needle inside his foot that he hugged him and did not do any harm to him.  The people were so glad, but they didn’t know what had happened because they were not there.  And Androcles told them the whole story about it, and how he pulled out the needle inside the lion’s foot.  Androcles did not get in trouble.  He made friends with the lion.

Velazquez's "Old Woman Frying Eggs"
She’s frying eggs with a boy, a maddish-looking boy.  There’s a log under the kettle and it looks like she boiled water and then threw stones into it to make a fire under the log.  Then she put eggs that are yellow and white.  She’s wearing a whitish ragged veil that is dirty and she’s wearing black, brown, and green clothes and some sort of scarf.  There is a big table that is next to her with cut up eggs and cut up potatoes and cut up onions.  Then there are two jars.  One of them looks like it's filled with water and the other a kind of juice or something.  The boy that is next to her is dressed in a kind of suit.  She has blue eyes and she looks very old.  The boy looks like he is in his teens, and he has brownish eyes.  The old woman--you can’t see her hair because she’s wearing the white veil.  But the boys doesn’t have anything over his hair and it is curly brown. The light is coming from the side of them and the woman is looking at the boy and the boy doesn’t seem to be paying attention. He is looking away or looking down at the table.

"Beauty and the Beast" from The Blue Fairy Book
Beauty is a good girl and her father had three boys and three girls.  She was one of those three girls.  One night a storm came up and their house fell down in fire.  So they moved to a different house.  After the storm came up, their father asked them what they wanted for a little gift.  The three brothers didn’t know, and neither did the girls know, but the two other girls besides her said, “You guys figure out what you’re going to have,” and their Daddy said, “You guys figure out for yourselves.”  And the two sisters wouldn’t even do the cleaning and Beauty did her brothers’ work in the field and she did all the house cleaning.  Their father was going to get their gift, and Beauty said she didn’t know what she wanted either. But she said after thinking for a very long time, “I want a rose.  We hadn’t seen a rose and there are none at this house.”  Their father said, “Okay, I’ll give you a rose.” And he went off traveling on the horse.  He saw a castle there and he stopped his horse at the steps of the castle.  Then he patted his horse and went off his horse. He found some roses in a big trail and he almost picked a rose,  but before, a beast came up and said, “This is my field and you are not allowed to pick anything out of here unless the person who wants it will come to me.”  So the father picked it and said “One of my daughters wants it and it’s the best daughter,” and he got the rose and said, “Beauty is her name and she shall come to you.”  When her father was home with the rose, Beauty danced up and said, “Thank you, Father” and her father gave it to her.  And the father said, “My daughter, you have to go to the beast.  It’s the beast’s garden that I picked it in and there’s no other rose next to our house.”  And so they got the horse and traveled on.  As they led up to the castle, her father stayed there for a week.  And then her father left.  He left her in the room that he went to to stay at there for a little because he wanted to know where she could stay.  So he went.  She dreamed about a prince. Then she ate and went back to bed and dreamed about her prince again.  Then she went into a fancy room that had a frame.  The frame was the prince that she dreamed of.  And the beast came to her and he said, “Do you love me?”  She didn’t answer, and the beast came all of that week and said, “Do you love me?”  Then, as she was lying and sleeping, she woke up.  She dressed and there was a man that came to her and said, “Here is a prince.  It is the beast.”  And the beast came to her and said, “I shall be married with her.” And he was married with her.  But first she saw her father, and the beast said, “I will die if you don’t come back early.”  And a lady reminded her, saying, “You must go, the beast is dying.”  So Beauty traveled on her way and hugged the beast because she did not want him to die.  And then he was married with her very happily.

A Few Thoughts

:: As you can see, Cate has a very creative personality.  She often elaborates on her narrations and I generally have to reign her in gently to focus on the details that are actually there, not necessarily the way the story plays out as she visualizes it in her head.  ;)  But she has really grown as a narrator from the beginning of the year, when I could barely get a sentence out of her because she was paralyzed with perfectionism.  (It's hard to be a beginning narrator in a home with two older siblings who narrate so expertly.)  Even though there are plenty of mis-rememberings and misunderstandings here, I'm encouraged by her progress and enthusiasm.
:: She too was very taken with the performance of Much Ado About Nothing that we attended, and her choice of drawn narration was actually based on her favorite part from the staging, not necessarily from the read-aloud version.
:: She loves Paddle to the Sea, but I have really neglected mapwork with her for that book.  She at least knew where the Great Lakes were, so I suppose that's something--ha!


  1. I'm having SUCH a hard time just DOING exams, for some reason. I feel like I get a general feeling of how they are doing in areas throughout our days and learning. I know it's an awesome record of what they know etc...can you share why you do them? Are they difficult for you to do also? What is the benefit from them besides seeing areas to work on or for record keeping? :) I've never done a CM style exam before and I'm just rebelling a bit for some reason and can't put my finger on WHY.

    1. Just remembered that I never got back to answer your question here, Amy!

      The main reason I did them to start was because CM did them in her schools. ;) So I decided that we would give them a go too, just based on that recommendation, being the CM groupie that I am. ;) And I found that we like them for a few reasons:

      :: I do get a different sense of our areas needing improvement and areas of excelling through these exams than I do in our day-to-day studies. The exam narration requires that the student has moved the readings from short-term to longer-term memory. Revisiting it at a later date, as you do with the exam, lets me know whether the recall activity and the various Keeping exercises we have incorporated help that movement to happen.
      :: The kids get a real sense of accomplishment when they look back on all they have covered over the past term.
      :: They provide a useful and fun set of records for my own files.
      :: The exams encourage me a hard-stop to refresh, revisit, reconsider how our plans are working for us. It provides me with some helpful information to do that on at least a thrice-yearly basis, and that's something I'm not sure I would get to in any serious way otherwise except at the end of each year.

      I read Nelleke's recent post on exams and she hit a lot of the reasons why we enjoy them too:

      Honestly, I'd say: if you don't want to do them, don't feel like you have to! :) There's a reason AO makes them "optional," and I would say that's largely for the reasons you mention here. It is definitely possible to get a good idea of how they and I are doing on a daily basis rather than assessing that at the end of the term, and if you're feeling like that's enough for you, I wouldn't worry too much about it!

  2. My daughter (year 1) had a real hard time with exams this past term. When she discovered exams were just lots of telling back she got really unenthusiastic and didn't present her best effort. She really struggles in fighting laziness but is generally a bright girl and a good narrator. I saw that you get special treats for the end of a term so that might help. I ended up not asking all my questions (and my husband did most of them) because I didn't want to set a precedent for next term exams. Any advice? (Praying for you by the way! Hope you are holding a sweet baby in your arms. I am generally about 10 days overdue for each baby, so my heart is with you if you are still waiting!).

    1. Hi Katie! Thank you for the prayers! Baby arrived yesterday, eight days late, and we just got home from the hospital this morning. :)

      A couple thoughts: first, there's definitely an option NOT to make exams "lots of telling back," and I think in the case of your daughter, that would be a good idea. I would do fewer questions and of the type she most enjoys, whether that be acting out, some kind of artistic narration using clay or drawing, audio or video recorded oral narrations (my kids love doing those!), using figures or pieces to retell, or giving oral narrations to someone other than you (ie call Grandma and tell her one of your Aesop's Fables, etc.). I think exams is a great time to really mix it up and keep things fun, so if there is a different way you could present the questions, I'd do it. It won't "spoil" her in the sense that it IS just for exams and not for everyday work and she'll still need to build those attention and persistence muscles, but it will make the exam process much more pleasant. :) As for the treat: I do a few things. We always have a special teatime at the end of the week with some kind of special dessert to celebrate the end of a great term. I also give them their artist prints for that term (they get a set of 4x6s of the pieces we study to keep in an album of their own) and usually we do some kind of fun craft project as well. This time I gave them a little book of easy piano settings of Brahms pieces that I saw on Amazon since that was our composer this term. And then we had pumpkin rolls and hot cider and they got an IOU for their Velazquez prints, which are still to-be-ordered by me. ;) So nothing super big but just enough for them to know that I consider their work over the term important and am proud of their hard work and progress. I hope that helps a little!