Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fourth Grade in Our Home :: Exams, Term 3

Time to wrap up this past school year!  I've got these exam posts scheduled for today and tomorrow and then one other wrap-up post to share with you on Friday.  Then it's on to our summer plans next week!

Below is a peek at my 4th graders exams from the final term of AO Year 4, including a sampling of their answers.  We ran these exams the same way as last time: I handed them a big stack to complete over the week and let them complete it in their own order and at their own pace.  We did a few oral narrations as well, and these were done during our usual "naptime school" block.

If you're looking for questions to use for your own exams, check out the wonderful exam page over at AO!  They even include answers to make your life easier. :)  (And in case you're interested: you can find all our previous exams here.)

The Questions

What do you know about the Battle of Bunker Hill or Valley Forge?
Tell about the Declaration of Independence.
"I haven't begun to fight yet." Tell the whole story. OR Discuss the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams.
What do you know about Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great, or Dr. Jenner?
Tell about the Reign of Terror or the fall of the Bastille.

What is the difference between a fast flood and a slow one? Or, Discuss some boats that changed the Mississippi River.
Add as many details to this map as you can.  Annotate with information from Minn.
Tell all you know about Egypt and China from Hillyer's A Child's Geography of the World.
Complete the following pages:

Natural History and General Science
Explain how Madame How's great ice-plough has helped make the ground on which we live.
Tell what you know about pollen, and why plants need insects.

Write 2-4 lines of a poem you memorized this term in print and in cursive.

Complete the provided grammar worksheet:

Complete your next translation lesson in Getting Started with Latin.

Complete the following pages:

Memory Work
Recite one selection from this term in each of the following categories: hymn, folk song, poetry, Shakespeare, Bible.  (Note: we did this as a end-of-term performance for Daddy, which was fun!)

Nature Study
Describe and draw three wildflowers that bloom in spring.
Write an ode to something we see at the beach.
Describe something we see at the aquarium.

Tell the story of one myth in the style of Kipling's Just So Stories. (Cupid and Psyche, or Echo and Narcissus, or Niobe)
Shakespeare: Describe a favorite scene from The Winter's Tale with as much detail as you can.
Draw a map of The Incredible Journey, labeling the places the animals visited and what they encountered in words or pictures.

What was your favorite poem by Wordsworth other than the one you memorized?  Share a bit or image from it that struck you.
Illustrate the poems you memorized.

What was one flaw of Titus Flamininus?  Tell a scene from his life that illustrates that flaw.
Describe the campaign of Titus in Epirus, showing how he made the Greeks willing to submit to him.

Choose a few lines from The First Epistle to St. Timothy to add to your Prose and Poetry notebook.

What is the purpose of prayer?
Explain what a sacramental is and give examples.
Draw a picture of the altar properly laid, labeling the necessary parts.

Music Study and Picture Study
Tell about one Palestrina piece from this term.
Tell a bit about the life of Palestrina.
Can you name the following composition by Palestrina?  What was his inspiration for the piece?
Sketch from memory your favorite Waterhouse work from this term's studies.

Reading Skill
Select a passage from Johnny Tremain in your clearest voice.

Complete the assigned math selection.

Play your most recent piece for your grandparents.

Choose a picture from My Nature Friend to draw.

Handicrafts and Life Skills
Carefully craft an origami butterfly or bird out of kite paper for our spring windows.
Make an origami frog for one of the little kids.

Some Answers

I like to put some of the kids' responses side by side just to show how different two students' details and styles can be.  This is one of the reasons I really like CM-style exams: they give the opportunity for the student to share what he remembers best rather than trying to ferret out what he doesn't.  They connected with different elements from our readings and expressed themselves in different ways, but both students' answers would be considered a job well done.  Exams responses are not going to all look alike--and that's a good thing!

Some Thoughts

I'm going to save most of my wrap-up comments about the term for my final Year 4 post later this week, but I'll just say a few things about what I took from this particular exam experience...

:: We were more intentional with our mapping-alongside-readings and I was pleased with the results of that. They were far more confident in their mapping on the exam and had lots of details to add.  (And even the bits they weren't especially sure about, they did know the general area.)  This motivated me to ensure I set up a mapping opportunity for our Civil War battles for next year!
:: I threw in that question about telling a story from Age of Fable in the style of Just So Stories because my Big Kids have been listening in on Cate's Year 1 readings, particularly Kipling.  (And how could you not?  That book is positively delightful and a joy to read aloud.)  They giggled through the whole thing and I look forward to more of these kinds of creative narrations to come!
:: I asked for an ode on a nature study theme because the topic has come up in our reading of Wordsworth. Several of his poems they chose to memorize were odes, and although they didn't know that terminology, they were asking why the poems seemed to be addressed to the objects being described.  I briefly explained an ode and for the rest of the term, they noticed more examples.  But I didn't share their finished odes here because they were surprisingly shy about them, even though I think they did a great job.
:: The kids continue to be thrilled with origami.  I think we're going to transition that to paper sloyd this summer--to incorporate more measuring and precise cutting skills along with the folding.
:: On the history questions, they were able to pull details from all their readings (George Washington's World, This Country of Ours, Abigail Adams) into their answers. I feel like we got a very rich and thorough view of the period through the way AmblesideOnline scheduled these readings and I can't wait to see what next year holds.
:: Palestrina and Waterhouse were both huge hits this term!

Up tomorrow: a quick look at Cate (Year 1)and Xavier's (Kinder) exam!


  1. This is so awesome! Thank you for sharing. I have been looking for an exam for a wrap up of the year.

    1. Go for it, Ashley Sue! They are a lovely way to wrap up a stretch of learning. :)

  2. What a beautiful education your children are getting! You certainly must have an efficient system in place to be able to accomplish all that you do.

    1. Thanks, Melanie! I am definitely high on the efficiency scale and less high on the fun scale. ;) But I'm learning! LOL

  3. Wow. This is definitely a testament to the Charlotte Mason way! Thank you for sharing. I am still in beginning stages with 8, 6, and 3 year olds. Still trying to find my style and what works. This spurs me on. Between you and Sarah Mackenzie I think that I will succeed! Must start my own nature journal this summer to get going.

    1. Oh Jenny, you are going to have so much fun with your nature journal! It has become such an enjoyable hobby for me, and I think it has that potential for any mom. :) And I'm so glad you found this encouraging! It is a beautiful way to learn and I am just so thankful for the CM method. :)

  4. I am impressed with how Vincent's writing skills have bloomed, I see big differences in his compared to last term. I am excited to see the rest of your term exams and next years' school plans!

    1. He really has! And I think that's a testament to all the wonderful books that we have read through AO because he's not a natural writer like Gianna is, yet I see him produce great work this year without any writing instruction. It's so encouraging to see the fruit of years of slow and diligent work! :)

  5. Very inspiring as always Celeste, thank you for sharing!

    Just a question for whenever you have time... I presume your children wrote their own answers? (they're 10yrs old?) How did you get to that stage of writing; have you just done copywork with them, or have you already started dictation? Do you formal spelling instruction?

    Many thanks

    1. Hi there! They are almost ten, and yes, they wrote their own answers. They have done copywork since Y1 and started weekly dictation and grammar lessons this past year (Y4). They also started written narrations 1-2 times weekly this past year, and they read those aloud to me to correct their own errors and I look through one with them to fix spelling and punctuation mistakes about a couple times a month. We haven't done any other spelling or writing instruction. Gianna is a natural writer/speller, but Vincent isn't necessarily (his skills primarily lie in math and science), so I'm super pleased with what skills and voice the slow method of CM and a steady diet of good reading has given them so far! :)

  6. Thank you Celeste, I really appreciate that, with all you undoubtedly have to do in your days, you always take the time to give a full and comprehensive reply to comments. God bless you, thank you.

    My eldest is just finishing up Year 2 (7.5yrs), and has also been doing copywork since Year 1. His actual writing is pretty good to look at, but his spelling is.....hmm.
    I guess it's just a case of having confidence in the CM method (which I really do!), keeping on with the copywork for another year, and then bring in the written narration the year after.

    And of course, as you say, oral narration means that child's vocabulary and sentence structuring orally are very advanced compared to schooled one day the writing and the spelling and the narrating skills will all merge together, and I hope he writes as lovely as your children.

    Thanks for all you share. It has been such a real practical help to me!
    God bless

    1. I am happy to help, Antonia! I will just add a couple things:

      :: For the first year of copywork, I wasn't careful to be sure that Vincent was copying word by word rather that letter by letter, and I saw very little progress in his spelling. I instituted a few new habits to be sure that he was doing it word by word in Y2, and I saw MUCH better progress. So that's a really important part of the process.

      :: Dictation this year has also helped a ton. Dictation is basically copywork on steroids: if before he was doing it word by word, now he's expected to do the whole passage at once. The study time to prepare for the dictation is time spent seeing many words "in the mind's eye," and that leads to better spelling. We also took time during our first dictation session of the week to discuss they why's of spelling for problem words. Those two elements together make dictation powerful.

      I really do think that if you're working through copywork and, eventually, dictation with CM's methods, you'll see improvement over the next couple years! Vincent's spelling a couple years ago was atrocious!! ;)

      And yes, you are exactly right about the wealth of skills learned from oral narration finally catching up with those mechanics and leading to written narration without the traditional modes of writing instruction. It's neat to see! :)

      God bless your family, Antonia! Have a happy Sunday. :)

    2. Thank you! excellent tips, thanks for sharing. I'm making a note!
      God bless

  7. Wonderful job! I showed some of the completed exam to my son, who finished a very similar exam 3 weeks ago. I am hoping he will see how much better he could be doing, LOL!

    1. LOL! You know, though, I think I do have an advantage in the sense that I have two kids in the same grade. They are a bit competitive (in a healthy way, mostly ;)), which motivates them to do their best work. They feed on each other's enthusiasm and come to exams with excitement for partly that reason. They also have a pretty good idea of how well they *could* do because they see it modeled by their sibling. It certainly does make things easier in that regard!