Thursday, April 18, 2013

First Grade in Our Home: Exams for Term 3

We're finished with our last set of exams for Ambleside Online's Year 1, and I'd like to share them here for those who are doing or thinking of doing exams of this style.  (Here are my write-ups of exams from Term 1 and Term 2.)  Once again, lively narrations, great retention, enthusiasm for the subject matter...I hope these things are here to stay!

A few tips for those heading into exams with young children (shared from my wealth of experience--haha):
:: Variety.  When in exam mode, the children seem to love switching among subjects (history, art, literature, math, etc.) and styles (oral narrations, drawing, copywork, physical ed, etc.).  They actually giggle when I go from their narration to jumping jacks to a math problem to a poetry recitation to another narration...I can tell this keeps their brain fresh.  Not that it's any surprise, really--though in slightly longer blocks, it's how we always do all our lessons, and to good effect.  (And well, Miss Mason said so! ;))
:: Recordings.  They just love being recorded and hearing it played back to them.  I'm sure this novelty will wear off at some point, but I'm milking it for now.  I use the Voice Recorder app on my phone and then transcribe a few of them for my own records.
:: Options.  I have a feeling my daughter would clam up if asked one specific question to answer.  She likes the feeling of choosing what to narrate during exams, and since they're supposed to be low-key, I'm perfectly fine with that.

And some benefits to exams, for those wondering whether it's worth doing with little ones:
:: Personalities.  My son has a relentless eye for detail and narrates happily and with no hesitation.  He loves nature reading and has a mind for math.  My daughter captures the style of the author with confidence and flair and relishes sharing stories with me--especially those she liked best.  She's passionate about art-making and art-viewing and is a self-motivated learner.  We have day-to-day struggles, and I sometimes miss these positive personality traits that the challenges of their schoolwork are helping to develop.  For whatever reason, I get to see their personalities shine in a special way during exams.
:: Progress.  It's nice to see the learning that has been taking place this year.
:: Looking back.  And by this, I mean for the student.  This is especially true since I'm schooling two in the same year, I think--they have this shared body of knowledge that is fun to sort through together.  For example, they fed off each other's narrations of King of the Golden River, laughing and smiling at the scenes each chose to discuss.  The nodded at each other's history answers, and teasingly debated over whose chosen fairy tale was longer.  I feel like we're making memories.
:: Troubleshooting.  Exams also point the parent/teacher toward the areas that need improvement. ;)  This is very valuable as I'm thinking about plans for summer and next year and trying to see what needs tweaking or rethinking.  (More on that another time!)

Okay--on to the test...
What follows is a list of the exam questions, and then a sampling of their answers (transcribed narrations, illustrations, and written work).  Enjoy!

Tell me when your birthday is in Italian.
Translate into Italian: "Mommy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow."
Translate into Italian: "We'll sing a song together."
Answer: "Fa bello o pioggia oggi?"
Say the seasons of the year in Italian.
Sing a song from this term in Italian.

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

Physical Education
Catch this ball five times.
Balance on one leg for thirty seconds.
Do five jumping jacks correctly.
Do five push-ups correctly.

Count by 7s and 8s.
What is the perimeter of a square with a side of 6 cm?  Write the addition and multiplication equations.
What is the area of a rectangle with sides of 4 cm and 5cm?
Draw an equilateral triangle and a right triangle.
Use the inch squares to create a rectangle with a perimeter of 16 in.
Find the remainder: 12,832 - 9,999.
Find the sum: 653 + 978.
Find the product: 9 x 3.
What is 1/4 of 12?  What is 1/2 of 13?
Gianna bought three pencils, each costing 43 cents.  She paid with $5.00.  How much should she get back in change?
Vincent had three bags of candy.  They each contained 12 candies.  He opened the bags and divided them evenly with one friend.  How much did each of them have?

Free Reading
Tell me a favorite scene/chapter from King of the Golden River.
What was your favorite book read during free time this term?  What did you like best about it?

Sing Ave Maria or O Salutaris Hostia.
Sing O Sacred Head Surrounded or Holy God We Praise Thy Name.

Folk Songs
Sing your favorite folk song that we learned this term.

Write the alphabet, uppercase and lowercase, in your best hand.
Write the numbers 1-10 in your best hand.

Tell me your favorite Aesop's fable from this term, including the moral.
What was your favorite fairy tale from the Blue Fairy Book we read this term?  Tell me the story.
Tell me what you remember about Nesbit's Twelfth Night or King Lear.  You can look at our character chart as you explain the story.
Tell me one of the stories we read in Just-So Stories this term.

Tell me how Harald made Foes'-fear or how Olaf became Harald's thrall.
Why did Harald go West-Over-Seas?
Tell me what you remember about Ethelred the Unready, including his relationship to Gunhilda.
Tell me what you remember of how King Alfred learned to read or how Edmund Ironside became king.
Name one of the good rulers we have read about this year--what made him a good king?
Illustrate one scene from the life of Buffalo Bill and tell me about it.

Religion - Saints
Which saint did you most enjoy reading about this term?  Describe one scene from his or her life.

Religion - Bible Stories
Tell me all you remember about Ruth, Solomon, or Elijah.
Tell me about the Israelites' journey from Egypt to the promised land.

Religion - Study of the Mass
What happens at Mass after the Communion of the Faithful?  What does Father do to finish up the rite of Holy Communion as the people pray at their seats?
Tell me about the last Gospel.

Religion - Catechism/First Communion Prep
What would qualify as a "bad Confession"?  How can one avoid such a thing?
Why do we still receive Holy Communion even though we are not worthy of it?
Explain what makes the Blessed Eucharist a sacrament.
What are the different kinds of sorrow for sin, and which is best?
Answer the following catechism questions.

Trace Paddle's journey on a map, from the start of the book to the end.  Tell me about one of his stops along the way--where was it, and what did he encounter?
Name a few useful plants and minerals.  What do we use them for?
Give an example of how an animal's body is suited to its habits.
Use this clay to model two of the following: isthmus, peninsula, island, bay, gulf, strait.
Point to one place on the map we have studied this term.  How is it connected to our studies?

Nature Study
Tell me all you can about a bird we have read about this term from the Burgess Bird Book, including its colors, voice, and habits.  Draw a picture of one if you like from memory.
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.
Tell me the story of Oscar or Smudge.

Complete this warm-up activity as carefully as you can.  (You don't have to use all three boxes--you can stop once you have one you're satisfied with.)

Music Study
How many movements does a symphony have?  How are the movements different from one another?
What is the difference between a theme an a variation?
Whom is this piece by, and what kinds of motion would you associate with it? (Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5)
We listened to two works reminiscent of the tick-tock of a clock this term: Leroy Anderson's Syncopated Clock and Haydn's Symphony No. 101.  Which did you like best, and what did you like about it?
Can you hum the theme of Haydn's Surprise Symphony?

Picture Study
Choose one of Degas' paintings and describe it as well as you can, or sketch part of it from memory.

And just to give you an idea how different my two learners are, a comparison of one of their math solutions ;)

On Ethelred the Unready from Our Island Story, by Vincent
Ethelred was trying to fight the Danes, but he was not a good king and always not ready to do things, so that's why they called him Ethelred the Unready.  He once made a plan that he would give the Danes money if they would go away.  So the Danes took the money, and went away.  But they came back again and asked for more money and more, until Ethelred the Unready thought he had to try a new plan because his plan did not work.  The money was not his money—he had the people he ruled over pay taxes.  So he raised the taxes more and more, until the people said, “We will make money, but we will not give it to him.  We will keep it for ourselves.”  And so he had another plan that he would kill every Dane—woman, man, and child.  So he sent his soldiers out and they killed the Danes.  And when they came to Gunhilda, her husband and her brothers were protecting her.  First her husband fell down, and then her brothers, and last of all, one of the men grabbed her by the hair and buried his sword in her.  And she said, “Alas, my death is come.  And it will bring great sorrow over England.”  Gunhilda's brother, hearing that she was gone, said that he would fight them for killing his sister.  So Ethelred fled to France, because his wife, Emma, lived there.  Then the people asked him to come back and be a better king.  Even though he tried, he could not.  And soon, his people began fighting for King Canute.  Finally, Ethelred died and Edmund Ironside took his place.

"The Milkmaid and Her Pail" from Aesop's Fables, by Gianna
One time, there was a milkmaid, who was going home with a pail.  She said, “I will use the milk to make butter.  After I make this butter, I will sell it to buy chicks, and then I will sell the chicks to buy a dress, and with the dress, I will go to the fair.  And when people stop to look at me, I will tell them to go about their business.”  She tossed her head scornfully, and the milk pail skidded off.  And with it vanished the dress, the butter, and the chicks.  Do not be greedy is the moral.

"The Crab Who Played with the Sea" from Just-So Stories, by Vincent
When the Eldest Magician made the animals, he said to the cows, “Play as cows,” and so they did.  Then he said the same thing to the beavers, and the crocodiles, and all the animals.  But before he said it to the crab, the crab stole into the water because he did not want to do the play.  

Then the Eldest Magician came to see if they were doing the play properly with the man and his daughter on his shoulder.  Then the cow said, “Are we doing it right?”  And he said, “Yes.”  And he asked the beaver that, and he said yes.  And the crocodile asked, and he said yes.  And so he put the man down on a rock and he watched the play.  And then the Eldest Magician came back later and said, “Are the waves obeying you?”  and he said yes.  “Are the animals obeying you?”  “Yes.”  “Is the waters obeying you?”  “No.”  And he said, “We have to see what is making the waters not obey you.”  And so they went in a canoe, and the man said, “In the morning, the water goes over my house and into my garden and gets the dirt all wet and gets the elephant's legs all wet too.  And in the evening, the water goes over my house and gets the crocodile's mouth full of water.”  

And then he asked the moon if he was playing with the water, and he said, “No, I'm just fishing, hoping to catch up the world some time.”  And then he asked the rat who was biting the moon's string, “Are you playing with the sea?”  And he said, “No, I'm too busy biting this string.”  And then the woman said, “I saw something that had eight legs and was grayish-brown.”  And then he said, “That must be the crab.”  Then he saw something coming up, and then he stopped where he felt something.  And under a tree lived the crab.  The magician said, “Why are you playing with the waters?”  And the crab said. “I'm just living over here.”  And the magician said, “Well, you have gotten a man's house all wet in the morning.  And then when you get back, you get Mr. King Crocodile's mouth full of water and gets his garden all muddy.”  And the crab said, “But I have to because I have to get my food three times a day.  But now I'll do it seven times a day.”  

And then the crab went out and he was very big.  One side of his shell reached a beach and the other side another beach.  And so the magician said, “Show me some magic if you're really important.”  But the crab could do no magic.  So he did a magic, and took off his shell.  And the crab said, “Why did you take off my shell?  Because now all the fish and sharks will eat me, and I can't go out to get my food because the animals will eat me.”  And then he asked the fisherman to two times a day pull the water so the crab could get his food.  And then he said, “I'll give you back your shell, but once a year, your shell will fall off to make sure you'll never do that again.”

"The White Cat" from Lang's The Blue Fairy Book, by Gianna
Once there was a king who had three sons.  He loved all the sons, but was worried about one thing about them: he was worried that they would try to overtake his land before he died.  So he thought that he would make a promise which he could get out of easily.  So he called for his sons.  He talked to each one of them, and added, “Whoever brings me the prettiest dog will become king next.”  They all set out eagerly, especially the two younger ones, because it gave them the chance of reigning, which they would not have had if the king had not said this.  

The two older brothers met with quite a lot of interesting adventures, but it is with the younger that we will talk about here.  He walked on and on not looking where he was going, until it began to rain when he was at the edge of a forest.  He saw a light.  “That must be a house,” he thought.  “I will go in and see.” So he went over there and the door banged open, but he could see no one, so he tiptoed in.  When he walked in, he could see nothing but hands.  So he walked along with the hands, which were holding candles.  When he got in the hallway, he heard a song, which told him, “Follow the hands.”  He was very much surprised, but obligingly obeyed.  

The hands led him into a room, and then the hands undressed him and put on new clothes.  He saw a white cat in the dining room, and then the hands put him to bed after he ate.  After dinner, the cat gave him a goblet**, which must have some magic for he forgot all about what he was doing.  So he stayed with the cat, until three days until the year when they all promised to meet their father to show him their dogs, when the cat suddenly reminded him.  And he jumped and said, “Where shall I find a little dog?  They have already found the prettiest ones.”  But the cat said, “No, I will give you a dog which is definitely prettier than your brothers'.”  So she gave him an acorn and said, “Do not open this until you get there.  I'm afraid the dog might get cold.”  

So he went over there, and when he got there, his brothers were already there, and he let them think that the other dog that he had brought with him is the one that he was going to use.  Then they went to meet the king.  The trumpets blew and they walked straight to the king.  The king looked at the pretty dogs and then he declared that the youngest's was best, because the youngest opened the acorn and the little dog immediately started to dance.  And then he said, “Whoever will find the finest muslin that could fit through a needle will be king next.”  So they all set out.  

The youngest went straight to the White Cat's castle.  He followed the hands, and they led him to the White Cat napping.  The cat was overjoyed to see him when she found him there.  They both had dinner together, but she did not offer him a goblet.  Then they went to bed, and the next morning, they got up and ate breakfast, and they did the same thing.  The cat always had new amusements for him, which he liked very much.  He thought that he had never seen any other cat so clever as the White Cat. 

When it was time to go, he asked her what he could bring.  She said that she would give it to him, and it was in a walnut.  So he went back on a wooden horse and the two brothers were already there.  They thought that he was very late.  They went to the king.  First he opened the walnut, and in it, he found the walnut's kernel.  He opened that, and in it was a pear pit.  He opened that, and in it was a seed.  He whispered, “White Cat, White Cat, are you making fun of me?”  He felt a paw scratch him, and so he opened that, and in it was what he had asked for.  The king had already ordered the needle, which was very very small, but the muslin went in it six times with the greatest ease.  Then he said, “Whoever finds the prettiest princess, then he will marry her at once and go to the throne.”  The youngest one was a little bit not feeling happy because he had already won twice, but the king would not let him be king.  And the brothers were feeling tricked.  But they went again willingly because it might give them another chance to have the throne.  

But again, the youngest prince went straight to the White Cat's home.  She was already expecting him and already knew that he wanted a princess.  She said. “I will be on the lookout for one.”  So they waited again until there were three days left, and then she said, “Cut off my head.”  He said, “I would never cut off my dear pussy's head!”  But the White Cat said, “Obey me!” So he cut off her head, and there stood a princess!  And there came in all the courtiers with cat skins.  And then they went home in a chariot.  When they got near the end, the white cat pulled around her some curtains, and she sat in back.  Then when the king came, the person asked if he had brought a princess, seeing no one get out.  He said, “I have brought a white cat.”  Everyone laughed very much.  Then they went to see the king.  The king asked the youngest son, “Have you come home alone after all?”  The prince said, “No, I left my white cat in the chariot.  You can go get her.”  So he went out, and when he touched her, all of it fell down, and there stood the princess.  And he asked her, “Do you want to become Queen?”  She said, “I already have six kingdoms, but I will give one to you, one to each of the brothers, and we still have three to ourselves.”  And they all married and that's the end. 

** She actually said "omelette" rather than "goblet" at first, and didn't correct herself until toward the end.  I had to hide a laugh in the meantime. :)


  1. I love this...for several reasons. These exams are fun, interesting, and full of respect for the personhood of the child. They are a fantastic mommy tool. And I get an extra kick out of them because I am lucky enough to know these kids, and I can see their exact personalities shining through!

    1. Thank you! And isn't it true, though--their personalities are somehow magnified (in a good way!) during our exam times. I don't know why that is, but I enjoy seeing it!

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