Lucy’s End of Year 4 Review and Plans for our Crazy Next Term

Since I lumped a lot of our group subjects year in review into the last post with Jonah's term review, I'll put our next year term plans into this post with Lucy's review. I'm nothing if not inconsistent in my writing! And if you aren't an Charlotte Mason Mom, this post will almost assuredly be overkill for you but feel free to skip to the bottom to see the TL/DR links to explore section. Fair warning!

Lucy Highlights:

Moving towards more independence: Our checklists this past term worked really well. She got off to a great start the vast majority of days. I actually can't think of a day when she didn't. And she did better on narrations (both first narrations and exam answers) on the books she read by herself and narrated into my phone app. That might be because the books I read to her were the harder ones but I think being able to go off where its a bit quieter and narrate in detail without noise or any time pressure makes things easier too (I don't ever intentionally put time pressure of her for narrations but when its getting louder and louder by the second because the toddler is demanding attention...). We'll keep this up again next term and she'll probably be reading even more on her own. I always want to have a few things we read together but she's ready for more and I'd rather spend our 1:1 time working on things like math and foreign languages. She was also given more freedom for copywork and that will continue. I used a dictation source this past term but next term I'll have her pick books/passages herself. 

I talked on instagram about our new Juniper Journals, but to summarize here, I love them and think they'll be perfect. I personalized them for her so I'll be really encouraging (and expecting!) her to take the lead on her  keeping and written narrations even more so than in the past. I think she'll rise to the occasion just fine.

Century Chart - more of these hopefully coming next term!

Hers has a Science notebook for diagrams as well as written narrations from her science books and biographies (George Washington Carver and Marie Curie). 

A History notebook for maps, timelines and written narrations from history books. 

A booklet of century charts. Not quite a Book of Centuries (I'll save that for when we restart history cycle in Year 6) but this will ease her into that way of thinking with less pressure.

Poetry and Prose book for copywork, dictation and written narrations from Literature. I hope it will include more comic book narrations because her comics of Age of Fables crack me up.

George Washington's World - Probably her favorite book. She read both on her own, GWW daily which worked well so we'll try the same thing with Abraham Lincoln's world this next year.  I'm a bit sad I didn't keep up with this one although I got a lot from listening to her narrations.

Tell about the Reign of Terror or Napoleon in Egypt.
So Napoleon Bonaparte was, well he had just conquered Italy. And he was a great hero of the French because he had captured all of Italy’s fine art and sculptures and all the lovely things the Italians had. But he wasn’t done fighting and he said “If I were to stop now, a hundred years later, my story would not fill up half a page of a history book” and that’s funny because in the page that said “Bonaparte to Italy” it did take up much more than half a page of history, it took up three pages, so he was wrong. And so he set out to Egypt, he coaxed the people into listening to him by saying” France’s old enemy is England. So if we can capture Egypt, that will block England from going to India where they trade a lot and get a lot of fine things. So they went to Egypt. He and his big army. And they conquered a city and they tried to conquer Cairo, but instead of conquering Cairo, Cairo conquered them! So half of his army was gone so he didn’t want to fight again so he went back to France. But the didn’t like to be defeated so he pretending that he had actually defeated Cairo and they believed him.  But while he was in Egypt, in the town of Rosetta, the people had dug up a large stone. It was black. And it was the Rosetta stone! Before then, no one had been able to read ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, because at that time no one was still alive that could read them so that were a lot of inscriptions on tombs they could not read. But on the Rosetta stone there were several lines of Greek, and another language and Egyptian hieroglyphics but they thought they said the same thing so then, if their guess was right, they would be able to read hieroglyphics. 
All the other book selections too: Third terms just always seem relaxed, maybe because they've grown into the books by the third term. She really loved almost everything. Minn wasn't a favorite but I'd say we only had one book we struggled with (see below), everything else was well received and well narrated. She loved Incredible Journey and Ocean of Truth. We both loved Abigail Adams although I wish there was a good audiobook because my voice got tired of those long chapters. She didn't like to break them up unless I just insisted because I was getting hoarse (keep in mind, by the time I get to her readings, I've done a full year 2 day plus read some pictures book to the little ones). We both enjoyed the short stories (she probably could have read them to herself but I hadn't ever read them myself so we did them together).
Tell the story of Cupid and Psyche, or Echo and Narcissus, or Niobe.
Niobe was a very rich woman and she had 14 children, seven boys and seven girls. And she was very proud of them. And one time there was a ceremony for this goddess. But Niobe came and she said “Why are these people worshipping Diana? I have 14 children, she has only two! I am much richer than her. All you stop worshiping HER.” So all the people did, they just went away. But Diana was angry. “How dare this woman say she is greater than I am. She’s just a mortal. But I am a goddess!” So she said “that woman must be punished” and then she shot all of her seven sons. And then Niobe was very sad but she said “But I am still greater than you Diana!” but that was not a very good decision at all because then Diana shot all of her daughters. And then her husband killed himself. So Niobe was so sad that she turned to stone
The Form 2 add-ons books: We finished this year having completed 2 Shakespeare plays and 1 Plutarch and I think that's a good start.  It took us two terms to finish Hamlet but its long and we went slow at first because she was a bit resistant (she's a comedy girl and so am I so I sympathize) but she did enjoy it in the end. Even when she still would have said that Hamlet was in the "it's not my favorite" category, it was one that I would say was the most likely to get a full laugh out loud response from her. Words are just one of her things and nobody does words like Shakespeare.  Plutarch is something you really have to grow into but she did great for her first time and we had some really good discussions about leadership and right and wrong. It's so much fun to see them so opinionated about things! Overall, the additions weren't as intense as I expected. Challenging, but manageable. 
Why do you think Valerius/Publicola cared about the fate of one very lowly slave (more than he did about the lives of two Roman citizens)?
The king had been kicked out of Rome because he wasn’t good. There were two co-counselors instead, there was Brutus and another man. And Brutus’s sons, people thought they were good but they were actually traitors. They were trying to let the king in secretly. Brutus’s own sons! But Brutus was good, he didn’t want the king to come back in because he was mean. So one of Brutus’ son’s slaves overheard the Brutus’ sons talking. And they were talking about how they would let the king back in. And he went to tell Publicola. And Publicola told Brutus and then they killed his sons even though they were his sons, Brutus let the people kill them. Publicola wanted them to die because they were bad traitors. And the slave was set free because he loved his country. 
Grammar and Latin: We did Michael Clay Thomson Grammar and loved it. We did Grammar Island last summer then spent the first two terms of this year doing Practice Island and Getting Started with Latin the past three terms. I think that worked really well because we started Latin having finished Grammar Island so none of the Grammar was totally new but they reinforced each other in a nice way. And I didn't worry about having to keep up with Grammar when she finished Practice Island at the end of term two because we were still using the ideas in her Latin time.

Art - because Grammar and Latin don't have pretty pictures. Lucy's dragonflies and Jonah's sea turtles. They carved the stamps themselves one week then used alcohol ink techniques to create the background around the ink stamped images. Did I mention that we're really going to miss our art teacher?

Now, I only bought the Grammar Town Teacher guide but both the Teacher and Student Practice. and none of the other language arts components. Last year I just did Teacher and wrote the sentence on a white board. That worked well because we did it together. This year, I'm hoping she'll be more independent so I wanted the practice book. But know that MCT doesn't have to be expensive if you use it selectively.

More of the picture maps I talked about in my last post. 

Describe a picture from this term's picture study.
I like the picture of Jesus telling the disciples the parable. It’s called the Parable of the Sower. It’s a picture of the ocean with a river running through. On either side of the river is land. On the right there is a big city, with a little boat with the disciplines and Jesus in it and Jesus is telling them the parable. But closer to you, what you actually see, is the man throwing some seeds and you can see the briers, and the path and the birds eating them up and you can see the good soil and the seeds starting to grow and some houses and sheep and there are a lot of boats in the ocean and some islands and some trees, there’s a forest. And there are some mountains on the other side with the city.
Masterly Inactivity:

I'm loving this age for letting her go off and take the skills we've worked on with handicrafts and art and see how she expands them in her own creative way. Youtube watercolor tutorials are a favorite.

And not just art, but other areas. Both kids wrote their first essays this term because Craig mentioned a contest at our new local aquarium. And they've been researching different topics for fun. Lucy won a library poetry contest. 

And here is a mask she's working on. (Can you guess her favorite animal?) It's so much fun to see my kids develop all these skills and turn them into hobbies. And to not have to plan it all makes it even more enjoyable! 

What didn't work:

My keeping up with her independent reads. That's all on me. I just couldn't do it. It's not a lot of reading each day and I'm a fairly fast reader but I couldn't make it happen. Craig is taking on some of the load this year and I've already started pre-reading the Marie Curie bio I've picked and Nature Reader. I just finished Undaunted Courage so I should know enough that I don't have to pre-read Of Courage Undaunted (and yes, I had to Google which title was which because that will never fail to confused me :-) I won't be able to pre-read all of Abraham Lincoln's world before she starts but if that's the only one I have to keep up with every week, maybe it will happen. If not, I do trust AO so I'm not worried about it too much but it really is best if I know what's happening.

I also struggled to keep up with listening to her narrations. I listened to enough that she knew I was listening, didn't slack off and we could have discussions about things. Actually, I don't think she even knows that I hit a point in may where I just deleted everything over 2 weeks old and caught up on the rest. But the more books she reads, the more narrations I have to find time to listen to - ack! I think I need to switch to a voice memo app that has a 2x setting. But the books Craig is taking over the pre-reading for, he's also taking over the narrations listening and follow-up discussion time which I will appreciate I'm sure. 

Madam How and Lady Why. Ugh. We did okay up until this term. It could just be that chalk isn't as interesting as volcanoes but I tried a couple things and Lucy still has some pretty legitimate complaints about this book. Unfortunately, we have one more year of it to go. I'll be pre-reading Anne White's new edited version. it solves one of Lucy's pet peeves about it right off the bat (the "little boy" comments drove her nuts!) but if I still can't muster up any love for it despite pre-reading and scaffolding, Craig will try. He, generally speaking, likes earth science much more than me. If he doesn't like it, maybe we'll go rogue and drop it.  Scandalous! Although since we're on the old schedule, we don't have that much left so by the time we've tried all those options, we'll probably be done anyway. 

You may notice a common thread in my solutions. I'm very thankful to have a husband who can help out a bit. It's not just that I'm getting stretched thinner as kid's are getting older but we've always planned to him be a bit more involved as kid's get older so the kids know he cares too and that homeschooling is our family's way of educating, not just "mom's thing."

Next year:

None of our skill subjects/curriculum are changing. We'll just keep on chugging. That might be one reason this year feels less overwhelming. The books are changing but the rest is all just a matter of doing the next thing. I'm also not changing Ambleside Online plans very much. Even thought I said I felt a lot more confident applying her principles myself, if it's not broken, I don't feel the need to fix it! If I change something, there is normally a pretty good reason. And I'm really excited about our plans for next year. I think more excited than any year before except maybe our first. 

For Jonah, I feel really confident in continuing Year 2 as its written because it is a favorite of mine. We have bumped him up in science a bit which might cause trouble down the road but I'll cross that bridge later. 

For Lucy, Year 5 just looks so wonderful. I love this period of history and know approaching it with the background of the last 4 years of studying British/American History is allowing her to make all these connections and its so exciting. I've been waiting for the Book of Marvels for years now and the science looks great. Last year's literature scared me a bit (although Lucy rose to the challenge of Robinson Crusoe and Kidnapped much better than expected - trust the process!) but I think this year's literature is going to be great. That said, I am tweaking year 5 a tiny bit. 


I'm adding Macauley's The Way We Work. We love Anatomy over here. And yes, I mean me because my major was Biomedical Science but not just me. Lucy pretty much memorized this book several years ago so the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. Now, The Way We Work is really dense. We'll  be taking it very slowly and we might not get to it right away because its a very big heavy book and if something had to be left out of luggage, this will be it. But whenever we do have it, I plan for us to read 2-3 pages or so a week and take probably 2-3 years to get through it. So nice and slow. I'm also adding The Body Book for some fun hands-on work. The one I have is actually the same on my mom used with us when I was a kid, she saved it for me. It's probably one of the few things from elementary school I actually remember so I'm excited to add it in. Jonah will probably join us and maybe Norah too because my kids all love paper projects and they'll be offended if excluded. 

I've also added Heart and Soul based on the recommendation of Amber over at Heritage Mom. It just came in the mail yesterday and its just what I was hoping it would be. The illustrations are amazing and it looks like it will be a pretty seamless fit into our next 4 terms if we cover about 3 chapters a term. I will be reading this one with her. I'll also sure This Country of Ours isn't a book I have her reading on her own. I haven't pre-read all of the Year 5 readings but just selectively searching for problems, I've seen a few so I'll be reading and editing as needed. 

If you haven't check out Heritage Mom's blog, definitely do so if you're looking for diverse but quality book recommendations. I have really enjoyed her perspective and was happy to see her describe the ways she teaches African and African-American history to elementary ages and how similar my approach has been. Last fall we did Shaka: Zing of the Zulus with our mini-coop along with African is a Not a Country and many pictures books and folk tales from Africa. Plus some Africa Map drill work. That's about as close to a unit study as I get. Along with trying to incorporate as many books on kids of all colors just being kids although after reading her post, I also had to add Freedom's Daughters for myself. Book collecting, it's a problem. (And I didn't include any links so go over to Heritage Mama to see her descriptions and get her links).

I also don't want to create cynics or expose my kids too early to too much darkness before they have a base of normative behavior.  That's a principle of mine so it applies when we talk about African American History or the history of my family's German heritage or abortion. So we've talked about slavery when it comes up in books or on field trips like Andrew Jackson's Hermitage or the George Washington Carver National Monument (we won't have time to go back here but I'll have to pull up these pictures because Lucy will be reading a biography of Carver next term) and Brown vs Board of Education. (can you tell we really love historical stops on our road trips!) So I don't mean we're trying to teach our kids to be color blind or that we've ignored the topics the idea of racism/slavery but we've talked about it not studied it until really last year when it came up more and will continue on this year and next as Lucy completes her first history cycle over the next 4 terms. When we get to the slavery and Jim Crow laws and the Holocaust in our books, I want to be able to tell enough of the truth that they are horrified and when I say enough, I mean that, we'll still be very cautious and skipping rape stuff. Lucy will learn about that on our next go round through the history cycle. Again, normative behavior before dysfunctional. I can't do that if I start too early on specifics. I can definitely start early on concepts of people of all colors are valuable because they are made in the image of God and why sin is in the world. And other parenting things like make sure we have dolls and stories showing the many types of beautiful people God has made. Hopefully that makes sense and it's probably more than I would normally say about it but also completely inadequate as a description of the thoughts and principles we use to educate out kids... All that to say that we're now ready to go deeper and continue wrestling with big hard ideas together. I'm taking a lot of Heritage Mom's recommendations for historical fiction as well but those will be mostly term 2 and 3 so I'll fine tune my selections post-move when I'm allowing myself to buy books again. 

What I'm NOT doing: 

While I'll be adding in lots of historical fiction free reads, I'm really only adding those two narrated school books to the AO Year 5 schedule. And I may be taking something out. Well, I am taking something out of year 6 it's just a matter of whether I'm replacing it or not. Craig has been wanting to read The Hobbit to the kids for a little while now. He normally is pretty content to just take whatever book I give him because he knows I'm good at what I do and pick ones I think he'll enjoy too but when he has an opinion about his bedtime read aloud to the bigger two, I need to let him have it. And I'm glad their first memory of the Hobbit will be his voice. And my kid's don't fight narration during the day because I've always been very consistent. But if I asked them to narrate a bedtime story, I don't think it would go well. So it will go unnarrated, at least by Lucy, and all will be okay. 

But that means I have 18 weeks left without a literature selection. I'll move Kim forward from the last 12 weeks of Year 5. If we finish King Arthur and Oliver Twist in a term each, I"ll probably add a Alcott book, either Little Woman or Jack and Jill if I have time to pre-read it and like it better for her. But if those two take us longer, we'll leave it as is. 

I'm also going pretty low key on a lot of the riches. We'll do picture study on the computer. We'll keep listening to our folk songs and hymns but not add new ones unless kids really get annoyed by that (they love the beginning of a month when they get new ones to learn), they'll just pick one poem each to work on and maybe a bible passage. (In other words, no fancy printed menus this term). For nature study, we'll be busy learning the new plants, birds, flowers of our new area/yard. 

We aren't doing any formal handicrafts although that happens quite naturally (Lucy and I just went and bought supplies at Hobby Lobby yesterday for a book binding project we have planned. I think they'll survive without a weekly handicraft time.  I did buy the Trailblazing Transit art lessons from Yellow Spot Sun. They tie in with Lucy's history but Jonah will join in. I'll might find a few youtube videos that tie in with his history too so we can rotate.

And reality:

These are awesome plans. So much good stuff. And technically, I"m not done planning. I still have together time plans to tweak including a few other books I want to fit in (Hillyer's Architecture book for example. Gotta learn some architecture basics before we travel Europe) but mostly AO stuff I've combining kids (Trial and Triumph) so not adding work just shifting it. 

But, it's also going to be a school out of a suitcase while quarantined in a foreign country crazy term. I'm holding these plans pretty lightly. If it wasn't for the quarantine part on the move, I probably would have already dropped them for a few months. And depending on timing, I might drop them part way through and pick them up again after a few months. I just don't know. So, I press on! But writing all this down has reinvigorated me. It's gonna be a great, crazy, messy, learning filled year! Bring it on!

And since I think I might have new people considering homeschooling, here's the TL/DR version with links you can explore if you are interested:

History/Literature/Science/Language Arts - AO Year 5 and Charlotte Mason's Principles
Math - Beast Online during move, MEP 4/5 once we're into new home
French - Continue ULAT 
Keeping - Juniper Journals to hold narrations, copywork and century charts

History/Literature/Science/Language Arts - AO Year 2/3 and Charlotte Mason's Principles
Math - Beast Online during move, restart books when into new home
French - Start ULAT (he just finished Learnables 1)

Together - 

Now that I've written way more than anyone wants to read about school work, it is summer vacation so let me wrangle up those kids, slap some sunscreen on them, and head off to the pool!