Thursday, May 11, 2017

Form I in Our Home :: Exams

This week I'm catching up on sharing our exams from this past school year.  Yesterday I shared our Year 5 exams, and today Form I is up!

Unlike my older kids, who do almost all of their exams on paper and manage their own work, my Form I students do their exams mostly with me.  I ask question by question, whether that means handing them a prompt for a drawn narration or sitting with them to hear and transcribe an oral narration.  We keep to our usual school hours for the most part, which means they have about a half hour of exams before breakfast and an hour during what is usually "naptime school."  Our exams run for about three days of the week.  

The drawn narrations and extra activities like handicrafts and such are what take up the most time, but the majority of their answers are orally narrated -- those just don't take as long because they are to-the-point whereas my Form I kids really enjoy drawing and coloring and like to spend time over their work. I do not stick to a formal exam timetable, just as I do not stick to a formal timetable during our regular school days. Our life with littles just requires a bit more flexibility than that.

In Term 3, Cate and Xavier asked if I could print out assignment sheets for their drawn narrations like I do for Gianna and Vincent, so while in Terms 1 and 2 they're just using blank white paper to draw, you'll see special sheets for their Term 3 work.  Also, any time that they were to add a description, I did the writing for them at the bottom of their sketch (except once, which I share about during my closing). 

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 and Some Answers
I share here the questions I asked my Form I students and a sampling of answers just to give you a flavor of the kinds of responses I get. Xavier is a year younger (he is in Year 1 and she is in Year 2), but I have the two paired in a Form I rotation with almost everything but history and some literature to streamline my workload.  So you'll see that they have their own history questions but the rest are mostly the same. However, my expectations for them are age-appropriate, so I am expecting shorter, less sophisticated narrations from Xavier than I am from Cate. (It is his first year narrating and her second.)


Term 1
Draw a favorite scene/chapter from d'Aulaire's Leif the Lucky and tell me about it.
Cate: Tell me about William the Conqueror or the story of the White Ship.
Cate: What were the Crusades?
Cate: Who were the first explorers to visit the Americas? What did they find there? Show me on the map whereabouts they landed.
Xavier: Tell the story of Alfred and the Cakes or the story of Cornelia's Jewels.
Xavier: Tell me what you remember about Horatius at the bridge or Androcles and the lion.
Xavier: Tell me what you remember about Bodicaea or Caractacus.

Term 2
Cate: What do you know about Richard Coeur de Lion?
Cate: Tell about the Siege of Calais or Wat Tyler's rebellion.
Cate: How did the Little Duke treat the prisoner princes? Was it the same or differently from how they treated him?
Xavier: Tell the story of Dick Whittington, Picciola, or Antonio Canova.
Xavier: Tell me why and how The Giant's Dance was brought to Britain or about the founding of the Round Table.
Xavier: What do you remember about St. Gregory and the children?

Term 3
Cate: Tell about Henry V and the Battle of Agincourt or the Princes in the Tower.
Cate: What do you know about The Hundred Years War or The War of the Roses?
Cate: Sketch a scene from the life of St. Joan of Arc. Tell me about it.
Xave: Tell a story about King Alfred.
Sketch a scene from the life of St. Christopher Columbus. Tell me about it.

So there was a queen called Queen Margaret and she had a son. She was a powerful queen and liked to be strong, although her king was not strong. He wanted to keep making peace and she wanted to keep defeating armies.  And her son was only eleven when they were walking in the woods together. They heard some noises and were very afraid, and then they saw some robbers. They said that she must take off her necklaces and give it to them, and they kept going on and on and didn't know where they were going until they came upon another robber. That robber helped them. Their king was in prison.  For the new king, the bad uncle of the princes in the tower, there were very little people saying "Long Live King Richard," so it sounded very dull.  Then there was this knight that had his father killed from the other man's father. And so he said, "Please let me stay alive." But he said that he had killed his father so he was not going to let him stay alive. So he killed him. I think this is included in it -- there was this king that got killed, and his crown rumbled down the hill, so they named the hill after him and his crown. So they set the crown upon the head of another king. Now I'm going to tell you about the make-believe prince. There was one make-believe prince first. He said that he was the boy who got shut up in the tower.  And he told lies like this that they had taught him to say. And that he was the person that was supposed to be king next. So they got the crown and put it on his head.  Then there was another make-believe prince. And everyone worshiped him, like they did to the other one, and he was carried through the streets. One day men had waved to them, and now they were both in prison. And there was something about this guard, and so they said that he was too dangerous, and so he must be killed. He was making too many "plans."  Both teams were pretty bad. And the good team is the White Rose -- that's the one I like.  They called it this because they wore a white rose in their hats.


Term 1
Draw a plan of your bedroom on graph paper to scale using a measuring tape with Gianna.
Trace the old Santa Fe trail on this map. What kinds of people used the trail, and for what?
Point out the following states on the map.
What is a valley? A plain? Describe the different forms a plain might take.
How can one find which way is north?

Term 2
Make the following landforms in water and mud: isthmus, peninsula, island, lake, outlet, inlet, strait.
Where is Santa Fe on this map?  Tell what you know about its beginnings.
Point out the following states on the map: Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado.

Term 3
Describe what the Seabird crew encountered in Hawaii or the East.
Describe some useful animals.
Label the following continents: South America, North America, Asia, Africa, Antartica, Australia.
Label the following places we encountered in our readings: Spain, China, Hawaii, Canada, United States.  Draw a line for the equator.

Natural History and General Science

Term 1
Tell me all you can about an animal we have read about this term from The Burgess Animal Book, including its looks 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.
Describe how Rosendin Pond looks at this time of year. What can you find there? Consider flowers, plants, trees, birds, animals, and more.

Term 2
Tell me all you can about an animal we have read about this term from The Burgess Animal Book, including its looks 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.

Term 3
Describe from memory something you drew in your Nature Journal.
Sketch and describe two new wildflowers.
Tell me about two members of the deer family OR some of Buster Bear's cousins.
Make a book from the Burgess animal cards you have made this year.

Poetry - All Terms
Illustrate the poems you memorized from this term for our Family Poetry Notebook.
What was your favorite poem by this term's poet other than the one you memorized? Share a bit or image from it that struck you.


Term 1
Copy "And this is true; the best packages are not always wrapped up in blue paper and tied with a gay string, and there are better men in the world than kings and princes, fine as they seem to be." Then read aloud in your clearest voice.
Term 2
Copy "The Badger strode up the steps." Then read aloud in your clearest voice.
Term 3
"For the sun it is merry and bright."  Then read aloud in your clearest voice.


Term 1 and 2
Complete a drawing for My Nature Friend.

Term 3
Choose two of your paintings from this term for your teacher's art exhibit.

Music Study and Picture Study - All Terms
Tell me about one of our composer's pieces from this term.
Sketch one of our picture study selections and tell me about it.

Math - All Terms
Play a math game together.
Complete the assigned worksheet.

Piano - All Terms
Play your most recent piece for your grandparents.


Term 1
String your paper beads into a necklace.
Construct a paper hat for one of your younger siblings with Gianna's help.

Term 2
Cate: Make the simplest doll in your peg people kit.
Xavier: Form an item from Fun with Paper for Andrew.

Term 3
Complete a project from your craft kit to show Grandma on Skype.


Term 1
Narrate this picture using as much detail as you can.
Recite a rhyme in Italian.

Term 2
Narrate this picture using as much detail as you can.
Choose three things in this room to name in Italian. "Ecco..."
Answer in complete sentences: "Qual colore e un elefante? Un pettirosso? Una scimmia? Un corvo? Un gabbiano?"
Recite a nursery rhyme from this term in Italian.
Complete these oral math problems in Italian.

Term 3
Describe this picture from Winslow Homer in Italian.
Translate the sentences from Gianna and Vincent's exam into English.
Recite one of our Filastrocche from this term.

Memory Work - All Terms
Recite one selection from this term in each of the following categories: hymn, folk song, poetry, Shakespeare, Bible, Italian song, Italian rhyme.


Term 1
Why did Christian leave his home, where did he set out to go, and with whom?
Tell me about Christian's scroll.
Cate: Draw a scene from Understood Betsy. Tell me about it.
Xavier: Draw an Aesop's Fable. Tell me about it.
Tell the story of Bearskin, Princess Golden-Hair, or the Fine Grey Goose and His Friends.
Tell me the story of A Comedy of Errors. You can use this character chart to help you.
Tell a favorite scene from Swallowdale.

Term 2
Draw a favorite scene from Wind in the Willows.
Tell the story of The Step-Mother, One Good Turn Deserves Another, The White Bird, How the Good Gifts Were Used By Two, How Boots Befooled the King.
Tell me the story of Twelfth Night. You can use this character chart to help you.
Tell or draw a favorite scene from The Christmas Carol.

Term 3
Draw a scene from The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Tell me about it.
Tell me your favorite story from The Wonder Clock.
Xavier: Tell one of Aesop's Fables.
Tell a favorite scene from Macbeth.

The sun and the wind were fighting and a stranger passed by. And the wind blew faster and faster and harder and harder and the stranger just put his coat around him. When the sun tried, the stranger took off his hat and wiped his forehead, then he sat down to rest.  The sun won.


Term 1
Tell about the visit of the angels to Abraham or Noah and his Arc.
What do you know of St. Dorothea or St. Jerome?

Term 2
How did Joseph come to work in the court of Pharoah? Tell the story.
Tell about the miracle of the loaves and fishes.
What do you know of St. Anthony the Stylite or St. Augustine of Hippo?

Term 3
What do you know of St. Cuthbert or St. Brendan?
Draw a picture from the story of the Ten Plagues of Egypt or the early life of Moses.
Describe one parable we read from the Gospel of St. Matthew.

There was a feast. And the king said for some people to come to the feast. One of them was standing there, and he said you don't have the right garment on for the feast. So he called for another messenger to go and put him out where there was gnashing of teeth.

Some Thoughts
Once again, looking through their exam results each term gave me lots of ideas of bits I need to change and areas we're doing really well in.  Sharing some examples of those reflections with you here:

:: I didn't share it above because she didn't want me to, but Cate insisted on doing her own writing for the Columbus prompt and wrote two full pages of details all about his first voyage.  She must have written for a half hour straight and was completely absorbed in her work. She loved d'Aulaires' Columbus, but I was surprised at her intiative. I have never required her to do her own writing, but she does enjoy copying Gianna and writing in her free time as well.  There were lots and lots of spelling issues (she was a late reader and is still very phonetic in her spelling), but it proved to me not that she is ready for writing but that when a book grabs you, it really grabs you!  I was very impressed with her enthusiasm.
:: Aren't their Wind in the Willows illustrations precious?  I wasn't sure about combining Xavier into Cate's Year 2 literature readings -- Wind in the Willows and Robin Hood -- simply because those texts really are quite difficult for a Year 1 student.  He rose to the occasion and had very little trouble understanding either storyline and his narrations were just fine.
:: This was Xavier's first year with narration.  Cate's first year of narration was a little rough, not because she wasn't doing a great job (she was!) but because she thought she wasn't doing a great job.  Thankfully, she is over that hurdle of perfectionism in narration for the most part, which made this year's experience much smoother.  And Xavier thankfully has none of that reticence or self-criticism in his personality, so he jumped right in.  I am happy to have the two of them combined this year because they work really well together.  That is, when they're not being over-silly together!  But I imagine that would be the case whether I had combined them or not.
:: Their penmanship showed much improvement from last fall, which I didn't notice until seeing exam results side by side.
:: I was reminded by some of Cate's confusion over the history question in Term 3 that this is where history gets very complicated and names and sides start to get blurrier.  Time to re-introduce some extra scaffolding into the beginning of our readings (going back a bit farther than "what did we read last time?") and perhaps some keeping on the topic since she enjoys it so much?  I'm consider it for next school year.  But you can tell that the stories captured her attention even if retention of who's who did not.

That's not nearly all the notes I took from my own observations, but hopefully it gives some idea of the input exams provide me.

I am all caught up on exams now for the school year!  A couple last posts on this previous year -- one on our Morning Basket for Terms 2 and 3 and one as a year-end wrap-up -- and then I can move on to summer chat here on the blog!

I'd love to know: are you doing exams this term?


  1. Again, tell your children thank you for sharing their exams & really well done!!! What a lovely way to do exams!

    A question for your upcoming webinar (can't wait!)- what do you do when the exams go poorly? Would you ever consider revisiting the material?

    1. Thank you, Heather! That's a great question, and I definitely plan to conver troubleshooting less-than-stellar exam performance from a variety of angles. I actually want to talk quite a bit about assessment because I think that's an area most moms are wondering about, or what keeps them from giving exams in the first place. ;) Thanks so much for your question -- I am adding it to the list! If you have any others, feel free to chime in.

  2. Well done to your Form 1! It is always a joy to get to exam time and see all the hard work come together. The kids love seeing other families exam questions and seeing if they know the answers.
    The best part may have been the mud and water land forms. My dc all agree the best kid yards have mud puddles!

    1. Yes, absolutely a joy! My kids really enjoy seeing other kids' answers too. It is a community of AO kids that we are raising! :)

      We have lots and lots of mud puddles in our backyard, that's for sure! Comes in handy at exam time. LOL

  3. What a magnificent post;inspiring and heart-warming.

  4. This comment is for both this post and your Year 5 Exam post as well. :) Thank you so much for sharing these with us! Your children did such a wonderful job! I loved seeing their answers and especially appreciate being to look at the questions you put together. It is so helpful!

    1. You're welcome, Karen! I'm glad it is helpful to you and your family!

  5. I can't help but keep coming back here! This is amazing, thank you and your kids for sharing it! I was very impressed by both Cate and Xavier's handwriting - it was the first thing that caught my attention because that's an area where my year 1 son struggles! He can definitely write letters (on his own way) but we're working on correct strokes and it can become very difficult for him and frustrating for me! He's doing handwriting without tears but after trying lower case "g" we took a break (it's been two weeks!) because the lesson ended on a bad note. Any ideas to troubleshoot? Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Yes, I am impressed by their handwriting also, to be honest, especially when I look back on their writing from last year! Both of them spend a lot of their free time drawing, which helps (and which isn't something I control). I think you were wise to take some time off. I think it's really similar to reading, in that yes, it gets better with practice, but it's also a skill that varies depending on age/gender/personality, and not all children will grow into nice, legible printing at particular age. So I'd ease back into very small lessons with correct strokes, VERY short, just to build the habit, and perhaps not with pencil and paper but in another medium: water and a painting brush out on the patio, shaving cream or whipping cream, paint in a closed ziplock, whatever will teach him the order and shape of the strokes without the frustration. And remember that all other fine motor skills activities are helping in the background too: drawing, puzzles, legos, etc. Summer is a great time to start a less stressful approach and then maybe easing back into regular copywork in the fall? Prayers for you, mama!

  6. Among all the wonderful parts of this post, I am firstly taking away how useful tall mud boots are!

    1. Yes! My kids all have mud boots and wear them almost year round when they're out in the early mornings when it's still wet and muddy. Keeps the laundry at a minimum! ;)

  7. I have a question about maps. We have always labeled maps centering around the history time period we are studying. Is this the CM way? Is an outline map always used through high school or should children draw/trace their own map? Your blog is always an encouragement.

    1. Yes, maps dealing with the history or geography readings are best, and either outline maps or self-made maps are great. My kids do a combination of all of those things. Gianna actually wanted to do Canada this term since we read Anne of Green Gables this year. :) We use outline maps for their "map drills" and then self-drawn maps for when they are keeping track of places or journeys that we're reading about. For example, they did a traced world map to keep track of the sites in Halliburton's Book of Marvels and a traced United States map to chart the journeys of Lewis and Clark and the battlefields of the Civil War. I'll be posting some examples of this year's mapwork some time in the next month. :) Hope that helps!

    2. Yes, thank you. Just one other question if you don't mind. Where do you find your outline maps? We have used Map Trek for several years, but I would like to use something different this year since we have used most of the maps from this book.

    3. I usually just google the region I'm looking for and "blank map" and something to my liking pops up. :)

    4. Thank you.:)

  8. I really loved reading your blog. It was very well authored and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I have read which are really not that good.Thanks alot!
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