Ambleside Online End of Year Wrap-Up

WE MADE IT!! 😀 😀 😀

We finished up school today, and everyone is excited and ready for a summer break. We met all of our required school hours, we learned a plethora of new and interesting things; and I have seen a lot of growth in Peanut and Moose over the last school year.

HITS OF THE SCHOOL YEAR:
– semi-regular blogging the school year helped me to stay focused and helped to troubleshoot areas
– staying as close as we could to the Ambleside Online curriculum, and using great blogs and sites like Celeste’s Joyous Lessons and the Mater Amabilis website to make substitutions when needed
– Moose’s narrations blossomed beautifully, and he really started making connections all over the place at the end of the school year.
– Peanut is at a point where she can transition into written narrations next year, I’m really glad I gave her the extra term to finesse her oral narrating skills before moving into written narrations
– the amazingly supportive CM community on Instagram as well as the baby CM community that’s forming locally
– planning out all 36 weeks ahead of time, even if we didn’t stick to the schedule for the last six weeks of school. Just seeing it all laid out was enough to give me the “yes, we can get everything done and not lose our minds” feeling.
Phonetic Zoo is still a wonderful tool for Peanut — we are about halfway done with Level A and her spelling is right where it should be for her age and grade. I look forward to using it with Moose. Some of the best money I’ve spent on curriculum, to be honest.
– Moose’s copywork went from three-letter words to actual phrases, so next year he’ll be moving on to sentences. Handwriting has been so hard for him and I am exceedingly proud that he has done so well with it this year.
– Dropping Latin. We’ll try it again this fall but man did we ever feel good when we both realized that this wasn’t working and just dropped it.

MISSES OF THE SCHOOL YEAR:
– I need to be more organized for things like nature study and nature walks
– Our attention was destroyed after The Longest Winter Ever and I should have taken some time to recapture that vs letting us dig deeper ruts (guess what we’ll be working on this summer?)
– My three year old and toddler definitely will need busyboxes or something this fall, when I have three kids in school. Especially since my toddler moonlights as a tornado.
– Pre-reading. I need to make a system for it and stick with it.
– Notebooking. Also need to make a system and stick with it. I have been keeping notebooks this year so I can help the kids keep theirs. Right now I have my nature notebook, a commonplace book of quotes, and my learning notebook of notes from books and other sources.


That  being said, this year was very successful and I’m so proud of how hard everyone worked, even when books were boring or hard to comprehend they stuck at it. I think everyone is getting used to the school routine, there wasn’t much drama about “but I don’t want to do schooooooooool”, and the free time after lessons were done was a great natural reward for efficient time usage.

We are expected to start up the next school year towards the end of August. During the summer I will be getting ahead on prereading, especially as Peanut will have Montana History as a subject (which coincides nicely with the period of history she’ll be studying). I’m making a page of CMish Montana history, art, and music study resources, so watch for that throughout the summer.

I’ll also be sharing pictures from my notebooks, adventures in geology, what I’ve been reading, and how I’m planning out the next school year – books we’ll use, resources, etc.

I hope everyone has a great rest of the school year or a great start to the summer vacation! 😀

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 11 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 1

What a wild week! Nugget, my 19 month old; has been transitioning out of the coveted double nap times into seemingly no nap times and has decided to become a force to be reckoned with. Climbing up chairs into cabinets, going up and down the stairs, climbing on the table – things have been very hectic around here lately. We’ve learned to take whatever time we can get – so some days he takes one nap – lots of school happens in that one nap time! When he simply has decided that napping is not happening; we do our best to keep him contained in the room we’re in so that we can keep an eye on his shenanigans.

We also purchased a new oven so there was some Serious Excitement when it was put in. Okay, the Serious Excitement was from me – the oven we replaced we had for almost a decade and just couldn’t keep on going. Good job, oven!


Peanut is coasting into the end of Term 2 and has been highly motivated towards finishing up strong. Dropping out the high frequency words for spelling practice was a great idea, as was giving her control of the Latin schedule. We have been more diligent about keeping timelines, which is helping to cement in some knowledge.

Some highlights from Peanut’s week:

  • Multi-part multiplication is not nearly as intimidating as Peanut thought it was going to be.
  • Olympic bobsledding is her favorite sport.
  • She took part in the live Mary Pope Osborne event that Read-Aloud Revival held (and was completely spellbound)
  • Age of Fable is still really not impressive to her

I’ve tried to scaffold the lessons better also, which has helped her in terms of being interested. It’s very easy to slip into a checklist mentality, especially with a mostly independent kid like Peanut.  As Charlotte Mason writes, the goal isn’t JUST to produce educated people. If that’s the answer to the question, we’re asking the wrong question:

“The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” (Vol. 3, pp. 170-171).


Moose has been waiting for this term since the beginning of the school year, when he saw Robin Hood in his bookstack. We finally broke into it, and Moose has spent the whole week pretending to be Robin Hood. I’ve split up Robin Hood into a five-day reading – we need to stop a lot for narrations and the like. But that’s okay. I found this great map of the locations of Robin Hood that we reference as we come to places in the book. And all the other times we look at maps of Europe, Robin Hood is used as the reference point!

Moose had another big leap up, in that he can now be content with sitting down and working on Math Mammoth without major drama. Using IXL to supplement really helped boost his confidence (although he seems to be over IXL now, haha). We use Simply Charlotte Mason’s math for explaining concepts, Math Mammoth to drill them, and IXL to supplement. It’s working out well until the next big thing happens that would make us change things up.


I’m hoping that my little toddler tornado will give me some time to write up my “what I’m reading” post – it’s been far too long since I’ve been able to do one of those! Thankfully I’ve been able to post bits and pieces of that on Instagram – you can find me here if you’re so inclined!

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 8 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 11

We’re done with another week! And it’s February which means March is soon which means SPRING is going to arrive. We’ve had several days of warmer weather, warm enough to melt some ice or let me go out and whack it apart to clear it off my driveway. I am completely ready for spring to be here, not needing tire chains anymore or being unable to open the windows.

As you can tell from the title, Moose is almost finished with Term 2, which is quite exciting! I need to put an eye towards examinations and see what questions to ask. I noticed that Moose cruised through his phonics workbook much quicker than I anticipated, as he will finish it up next Friday – a perfect way to wrap up the term.

I made a video of Moose narrating a selection from the Burgess Animal Book for Instagram. You can find the chapter I read to him here, he’s just narrating the part of the fisher (we did the narration for the marten off camera).  As Instagram has a one minute limit, I had to trim it down in order to upload it. His narrations are quite amazing given that he was more of the “repeat the last sentence I read” kind of narrator when we started narrating.

(I tried to embed the video but it didn’t work for who knows why, sorry about that!)

You can tell I tried to throw him for a loop towards the end, as sometimes he gets stuck in this “uhhhhhhhhh” land and he can’t seem to get out unless I do something outlandish. Sometimes it works and in this case, it didn’t really work. 😉

Next week is our final week, then exams and break week for Moose!


Peanut is really impressing me. Last week I wrote about her self-motivation in terms of getting her school done, setting her daily schedule, and more. I discovered this week that she if she has a large reading assignment and doesn’t get it done in the time allotted, she will read it at night before she goes to bed (or spread it out over a couple of nights if needed). Neither Greg nor I have been on her case about “homework”, the plan is to roll assignments over as needed, even if it takes a couple IRL weeks to do one Ambleside week. I guess Peanut prefers to stick with the one IRL week to one Ambleside week, which is fine by me!

Peanut is making great leaps with her spelling, and is continuing well through math. She’s reading more and more and branching out into books she wasn’t sure she would like (the total “judge a book by it’s cover” thing).

I noticed that Mary Pope Osborne is the featured author for February over at Read-Aloud Revival, so we had to get a membership so Peanut and Moose can be able to do the author Q&A. Peanut’s Magic Tree House books are Moose’s new favorite books to read, and it’s been so endearing watching them discuss the books after Moose finishes one. They’re busy thinking up questions to submit – maybe one of them (or both!) will have their questions answered. 🙂


I really do feel like we are at the perfect sweet spot for homeschooling. Everything is working absolutely perfectly. Time is managed well and we get things done with minimal drama and theatrics. Things are actually fun vs a drag. I don’t know how it happened or what; but I realized that today this is where I hoped to be when I started homeschooling. For years I have felt like Johnny Appleseed, throwing seeds seemingly everywhere and not knowing which ones would take root and flower and which ones would wither. There’s been a good share of wrong turns and adjustments that we’ve had to make; but I am just blown away at what is beginning to bloom.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Weeks 3+4 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 5 – Part 2 + Week 6

We are at the end of another week, and this week has been loads better than last week. We were able to finish off last week’s work and get through this week’s work (and actually enjoy it).

Greg informed me that he absolutely loved The Wind in the Willows when he read it as a kid, and has volunteered to read it to Moose each night. Moose and I are of the “ehhh” mindset regarding Wind in the Willows, so it’s nice to have someone more enthusiastic take over. I remember trying to read it as a child and was ??? the entire time.

We are making headway in a variety of subjects. Peanut cleared an entire Phonetic Zoo level in two days (new record for her) and she’s blowing through the high frequency words. Math is taking off for both kids. Peanut’s narrations are incredible, and the discussions we have are really interesting. Even Moose is bringing up his own connections with the material and it’s absolutely amazing to watch.

It’s as if adjusting the schedule gave everyone a shot in the arm, and they have renewed their vigor and excitement for learning.

Moose is in break week next week, and we’ll take some time off for Christmas. Next week is Filling Party for some of the kids, (please hold me) which should be a HIGHLY interesting experience. I also get to see my new doctor (the one who figured out the iron issues) for a follow-up.

Today my parents may be making a visit (it’s hard to say with the weather) but the kids already have finished their schoolwork and are busy playing. Moose and Peanut made an elaborate Lego town, and the little girls are busy with the Playmobil. An idyllic morning for sure, one I’ll have to keep in my mind to reflect on when the kids are swinging off the proverbial chandelier!

Wok’s Kindergarten

One of the many benefits of homeschooling is that we can start whenever we feel like it. Peanut started formal lessons at five (although in retrospect, it would have been better to have her wait until she was 6 – she does well but I think she could have used an extra year of maturity). Moose started right before his 7th birthday (mainly because 7 is the compulsory age for education here).

I had decided that with Wok, she would start formal lessons around 6; mainly because I was concerned about repeating what had happened with Peanut. As we made it through our Term 1’s, Wok was increasingly interested in “doing school”. She already had been folded into the family subjects, like Shakespeare, nature study, composer study, artist study, picture study, etc. And yet she wanted more.

I noticed that even with “video school“, she still was apt to get into mischief and slip into bad habits of whining for cartoons or Netflix, general whining about everything, and picking on siblings. I finally decided (last week, actually) that Wok would start formal lessons under some specific conditions:

  • she needed to still spend plenty of time outside.
  • she needed to have good habits – if bad habits arose then those needed to be dealt before schoolwork.
  • she would be leading the show – I would not sit down and make her do any level of schoolwork.
  • she would be involved in the family subjects of the big kids, and have her own read-alouds to listen to.

I decided to start digging around online, wondering what Charlotte Mason thought about Kindergarten. I was well-acquainted with her List of Formidable Attainments of a Child of Six, her emphasis on letting as much time as possible be spent outside during the early years, starting school at a later age (6) – but was there anything I was missing?

Oh, yes; there was. I came across an entire section in Volume 1 about Kindergarten. I’ve read Volume 1 but it wasn’t registering for me at that time, so I simply didn’t pick up on it (kind of like what registers with the kids when we read their schoolbooks…). Read it, it’s fascinating.

I also found a couple of blog posts at Piney Woods Homeschool – about that Formidable List and about Kindergarten as well.

I decided to give her some level of formal lessons, mainly focusing specifically on learning to read, refining penmanship, and basic math. She enjoys the workbooks we have of phonics and math concepts. We talk about what numbers, do a little bit of copywork, and work on our reading skills. Like Moose, she’s using the BOB Books combined with Plaid Phonics – he just finished the entire series and she finished reading Book 1, Mat. And then she read it about 100 more times today just because she could.

Each day, she demands for school (usually right after breakfast) and I do try to keep her semi-reigned in, especially with the math book. She wants to do tons of pages in it, but I limit her to two since I know that plowing through it will end up in burn out. And who needs to be burned out at 5 years old?

We’ll see how things continue with Wok’s Kindergarten, and always keep the door open that we may need to shelve things for a while and make sure that she can continue to do the hard work of childhood.

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 12 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 1

This week was all about endings and beginnings. The ending of one term and the beginning of a new one. Peanut wrapped up her first term and Moose dove into the second term.

Year 4
Peanut was highly disappointed that we finished Poor Richard. I think that was probably her favorite book of the entire term. I’m going to find some other Benjamin Franklin books for her to read and go deeper with, should she decide to.

She finally got over her repulsion about Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, “it’s about mice and RATS, Mom”. I think she’s really enjoying the storyline and was expecting something rather disgusting and gross (think Templeton from Charlotte’s Web).

She’s read two Saint biographies by Mary Fabyan Windeatt – the story of St. Catherine of Siena and of Blessed Imelda. She’s working through Blessed Marie of New France, after she spotted it in the parish library. We observe the liturgical year and have daily Catechism lessons from the Our Holy Faith series, based on the Baltimore Catechism.  I am really quite thrilled with the series.

She thoroughly enjoys each subject (although I think she’s not totally interested in the founding of the country, oh well). We did a nature study on the pumpkin we had purchased for All Hallow’s Eve, which was probably the favorite part of her week. 😛

Year 2
Term 2 started with most of the same books carrying on, but The Wind in the Willows for literature instead of Understood Betsy. Moose isn’t so sure about The Wind in the Willows – talking animals aren’t exactly his forte. But he listens well and narrates well, and especially likes the map in the front of our copy of the book.

His copywork and math are both coming along nicely, with math moving at his own pace. I’m super glad that we can move at the kids’ pace, especially in something like math. We just keep moving forward, even if it’s at an extremely slow pace. At least I know the kids are really, truly understanding it.

We read about the Crusades, the jumping mouse, what The Little Duke did in the face of someone wanting to harm an animal, and had fantastic discussions along the way; and talked about what he would do if he were in The Little Duke’s position.


The kids finished up homeschool swim class for the year, and they’ll resume next year. As much as they love swimming, it’s nice to have a break (mainly for me as I kid-wrangle the non-swimmers). I’m not sure what level Peanut is at but I know that she’s in the advanced levels based on what she does in her lessons (diving, butterfly stroke, etc) and her swimming classmates (teenagers). Moose is in the intermediate levels and absolutely adores it and gets along well with everyone, and is pretty brave about everything they ask him to do. He discovered that water polo is played right before swim class, so he quickly gets out on the deck and acts as the ball fetcher when the ball goes out of bounds. The polo players have taken a liking to him and they let him splash around with them and make goals and give him pointers when their game is over (and joke that Moose and Peanut are the next generation of polo players).

Wok just started this year, and she went from “THE WATER IS LAVA” to getting basic strokes under control. Her teacher is a homeschooled young lady who is taking college classes at the local college since she exhausted homeschool curriculum (at age 16). She’s so good with the kids and each kid has worked with her for a while before they move on up to a different class. It’s such a great environment for everyone to be in.

Amazon links are affiliate links, as usual. Thank you for supporting my little homeschool! 

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 8 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 10

It’s hard to believe that we are almost finished with Moose’s first term! Peanut is not far behind, and soon we will be switching some books and moving on to new ones. I’ll be quite bummed to finish Understood Betsy, but we’re moving on to The Wind in the Willows which I haven’t read; so it’s not totally a loss.

This week was another crazy week – scheduling a new doctor appointment for me, a nature walk (the weather was GLORIOUS for it and it was just great to be outside and enjoy some sunshine), choir and therapies, homeschool swim class and a park day with a friend and her daughter. I think I need to readjust the school schedule to allow for some afternoons to be truncated or some mornings to be removed because we’re busy with therapies.

I had some glimpses this week of learning with Moose and math. Math isn’t the easiest subject for him, and lots of patience and manipulatives and S.L.O.W. learning. I contemplated even giving up on his current math and going back to absolute core basics, much like I did with reading – lay off and wait, and try again in a couple months. But, I don’t think we need to go back to absolute basics, or wait a few months; because the connections are being made and it IS coming together. Even if it feels like we’re treading water in molasses sometimes, it’s good for both him and me to see the little successes and that YES, he is learning math;  just at his own pace.

I gave the kids reading level assessments this week, and both kids are above grade level. Moose was sort of reading CVC words in January, which is when we began systematic phonics instruction and ta-da he completely caught up and surpassed where he “should” be. Hot diggity dog.

Peanut is finding her friend, Benjamin Franklin quite the person. We had a spirited discussion about taxation, the Stamp Act and its repeal, why the colonists were SO unimpressed with the taxes and how that relates to our lives today. A lot of aha moments happened. I love these times of discussion, to see how her wheels are moving and what she’s thinking.

Peanut and Moose unearthed a rabbit skeleton with their friends on the mountain behind our houses, which has been THE highlight of the week. Earlier this week they had found just the legs, and so I was enlisted to help ID what they were looking at. Today the skull and jaw was found, along with ribs and other bones. Triumph! Peanut was ecstatic that “it still had its bunny teeth!” Thankfully no one has taken to calling the skeleton “Peter Rabbit”, which may put a slight damper on Moose’s enjoyment of Burgess’ Animal Book. 🙂

AO Year 4, Term 1, Week 4 | AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 6

And now, for this week’s work! 🙂

Year 4

We had the return of “elastic time”. I gave Peanut one of my Happy Planners that I had no use for and wrote out her assignments, breaking them down into “by yourself” and “with Mama”. I came across this post on Afterthoughts, and I will be definitely incorporating that into our days. It should help Peanut begin to manage her time better.

Some things I’m noticing this year with Peanut:
– copywork has drastically improved her cursive writing.
– math is coming along really well. We use Math Mammoth and Simply Charlotte Mason’s Living Math. I use Living Math to explain the concept and Math Mammoth for practice problems.
– Latin had a giant leap and not only is she learning it well, she’s correctly spelling everything
– English spelling is also improving and I suspect it will take a giant leap forward when we start dictation and written narrations

I’ve found some problems with introducing the actual plays of Shakespeare and beginning Plutarch. My plan is start Plutarch again but use Publicola instead of Julius Caesar. I’m also going to either go back to Shakespeare retellings that we did last year or perhaps s l o w l y read the play of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as we read the retelling of that last year and the kids really enjoyed it.

Year 2

I am absolutely loving this Ambleside year. Moose is growing and learning so much through it, it’s exciting to watch him grow. Based on his excitement in narrations, Understood Betsy is his current favorite book. I’m really enjoying it as well. I was the spoiled youngest of my family so I definitely relate to Betsy, especially as she begins to stretch her wings, so to speak. 🙂

Moose finished six weeks of work which means he gets the next week off for a break week. He won’t be left feral, but it will be good for him to take a week off the books and have some relaxation time.

His major accomplishments so far:
– handwriting is massively improving. We finished the cursive Handwriting Without Tears book and went to printing.
– math is also improving. I’m the same setup that I use for Peanut – Math Mammoth and Living Math – and it’s been the key to unlocking math for him.
– his narrations are really developing well, and I’m quite pleased with how he’s doing. He used to just repeat the last sentence, then he pretty much told me back word for word everything I read. He’s understanding that I’m not looking for a regurgitation, but rather in his own words what he’s heard. What’s impressive that he completely GETS that he has one only one listen through and I think only once or twice has he been not paying enough attention to give any narration. Way to go, Moose!

***

The biggest event this week was, of course; the solar eclipse. We saw about 93% of totality, and it was awesome. We had our solar glasses on and watched everything from the beginning up to peak. We saw crescent shadows on the ground, we felt the temperature get cooler, we saw the surreal haze – it was excellent. The kids were a little disappointed that it didn’t get really dark – but it’s a good lesson that a smidge of sun is still really bright. The kids drew the stages of the eclipse in their nature journals, and even Wok (five next month) has been drawing little eclipses on pieces of paper since Monday. 🙂

AO Year 2, Term 1, Week 2

We finished week 2 last week, after Peanut and Moose returned from a week-long trip with their Grandparents. I am very pleased with how well Moose is doing with all the subjects.

What makes me the most thrilled is that this year looks to be the Math Year. Last school year Moose had many a struggle with Math, but after switching over to Simply Charlotte Mason’s Living Math bundle to help me figure out how to teach Math Charlotte Mason style; I can see the difference. The biggest thing that I’ve taken away from the bundle is that children need to discover the laws of Math on their own (as in, not be fed it), and that they need to prove what they memorize. Memorizing the addition facts is useless in the long run if they have no idea why 2+4=6. Looking back at my own Mathematical career, I can see that this is what threw me off in elementary school – which pretty much started a spiral until I reached college (and remedial math).

This school year I’ve added in Math Mammoth and it is working absolutely flawlessly.

Reading continues to improve, we are 2/3 through the second BOB books collection. After we finish the third collection, we will give the Frog and Toad series a whirl.

British History is always requested first, and happily I scheduled it out so we spend four days each week reading one chapter. Moose absolutely adores all things medieval and is thoroughly enjoying hearing of knights, kings, dukes, and more. We finished Story of Civilization Volume 1, and am eagerly (desperately! Excitedly!) awaiting for Volume 2’s release in Kindle format. The kids were excited to discover that our Cathedral has a very large stained glass window depicting Constantine’s conversion. 🙂

The one book that surprises me the most that Moose is enjoying is – Understood Betsy. I honestly thought this would be pigeon-holed as a “girl’s book”, or mad that we had already done this book (the kids listened to it as an audiobook last year).

This coming week, we will finish cursive and move back into printing. Moose is READY to move into printing for something new. We’ve been working on cursive for a while now and it’s very exciting to be DONE!

All in all, I am very thrilled with how this year is going. Having a rolling start for the kids is proving to be a game-changer. Peanut’s school year starts soon, so I need to finish up preparations and be ready to fold her into the mix, so to speak. I’ve placed all her school books on the “school shelf” for her, with a “look but don’t touch” admonition. She’s getting pretty antsy to start, based on the books that are waiting for her. 😉

 

Please note: some links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. Thank you for using them for your Amazon needs. The very small commission I make enables me to purchase more great books!

Sweet summertime

Summer is officially upon is, and I have to say it’s rather enjoyable.

Everyone is taking a nice break from school while I plan out the upcoming year. I’m done with the hard stuff (laying out a 180 day schedule for me – the kids won’t see it – so I know how to move through the year). Now I just need to put maps in binders, print off art prints, print off biographers for composers, etc.

The kids are enjoying a simpler routine – all the outside classes are finished so we are mostly at home. Each day we have breakfast together and I read something to them. There’s chores and lots of time outside. On the freakishly hot days we hunker down and watch something worthwhile. At the end of the day, I read to Peanut and Moose individually. Then there’s a little playtime and then tuck-ins for bed.

Habit training is in full-swing, and there’s a lot of sadness breaking old habits and developing new ones. My goal for the summer is to uproot some of the more nasty ones so that this fall is easier on everyone. I have been using this resource with much success, and a review is forthcoming.

I’m also working on my habits – when the weather is hot and I feel like I could melt into the floor; it’s hard to stay on top of the kids and stay on top of the housework. Somewhere I heard the phrase, The lazy man works twice, and so I try to keep that in the back of my mind when it comes to getting stuff done when I just want to be a slug.

Obviously, I’ve been puttering around here, bringing over my posts from my old blog, and working on getting everything moved over. It’s slow-going but at least it’s going. 🙂

Eventually the pace will pick up and we will get back into our school routine; but for now I’m enjoying the daily life equivalent of floating down a river in an inner tube.