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 3, Weeks 5-6 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Weeks 7-8

I decided I would switch over to an “every two weeks” update as we close in on the end of the year. Honestly, things aren’t changing that dramatically anymore and a lot of the books are coming to a good stopping point (to be resumed next year) or wrapping up in general.

I’m really quite pleased that the Burgess Animal Book is moving into some of Moose’s favorite animals – deer, elk, bison and other animals that tend to live around where we are at. I know he desperately wants to just stop for the year, but the Burgess Animal Book has provided enough hook to keep him moving towards the end without hassle or drama.

Peanut is excited for fifth grade and also has pretty much had it with fourth grade. She doesn’t find the books she’s reading overly interesting (I think she’d rather read the Burgess book above), and is just ready to move on to a new time period. That will come with the next school year, so she just needs to hang in there for the rest of this year.

It’s really wonderful seeing all the connections rapidly appearing now. We went on a nature walk to a local lake yesterday because the weather was that nice, and Moose was constantly connecting the animals we saw to the animals in the Burgess Animal Book. We talked about observing the wildlife without disturbing them, and talking with the fishermen that we saw around the lake. It’s just a great way of life, now that we’re (hopefully) done with the perpetual winter.


I am looking forward to summer break, and have been working on the next school year’s schedule and plans.

I’ll be making some tweaks:

  • all three kids will start at the same time as opposed to the staggering approach I did this year. While it was really good for me at the beginning of the year; now that we’re at the end I’d rather everyone finish together. I suppose it’s easier in the long run to front-load the amount of chaos vs dragging something out (for me it feels like we’ve been doing this school year for yearrrrrrrrrs now).
  • adding and dropping some things to and from AmblesideOnline. I want to focus more on science this next year, as well as typing classes for Peanut and coding for all three kids.  Peanut also needs to do our state’s history, so I’m working on finding books, artists, and music for that.
  • habit training or bust during the summer vacation
  • working more with each kids’ strengths and weaknesses and making sure we aren’t neglecting anything in terms of character and development

And there are some things that will stay the same:

  • the six-weeks on/one-week off model works really well for us; it provides enough regular breaks that there isn’t too much burnout, and it’s a good to know that the next break is just around the bend. I’ve sat down with a calendar and massaged the schedule enough so that we have breaks when we need them (like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, New Year’s etc). This means we aren’t exactly following 6 on/1 off but close enough.
  • sticking with AmblesideOnline whenever possible. I don’t know how much modifying I’ll be doing but the brunt of what we’ll be doing will definitely be AO.
  • continuing documenting what we’re doing and general life here and over on Instagram.

AO Year 4, Term 3, Week 2 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 5

This past week was a rough week, in that we had a lot of people around here getting sick (including myself). I think we made it to Tuesday on the “regular” schedule and then switched to the “for emergency use only” schedule.

The Emergency Use Only schedule reflects what the emergency is. Since I was sick some of the time, the schedule was focused on 1) things the kids could independently do and 2) taking advantage of pockets of time. We grab readings as the time becomes available, we work through the entire week’s schedule, we stop abruptly, and we just keep chugging.

Some things are left undone and that’s just how life works sometimes. I’m not too concerned by that, as we’ve been progressing very well all year and I’m not going to lose sleep over something that in the long run is rather inconsequential.

This coming week should also be an interesting week. I have a doctor appointment (time to check on how my iron is doing – I have been tapering off thanks to appropriate levels; so maybe at this appointment I’ll be cleared to stop taking the iron supplements), we have a therapy appointment for my autistic kid, a playdate, choir rehearsal, the local Charlotte Mason group meets, and Greg’s parents come home after their time in a warmer climate. Plus it’s the Triduum, and Easter is right around the corner (thank God, because this Lent has been rough). We won’t need to break out the Emergency schedule but we’ll definitely need to make sure we are all staying focused. 🙂

AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 3

This week was quite a fun week! The weather is finally taking a turn towards SPRING and therefore everyone is getting excited.

Peanut was on break/exams week, of which she did quite well. I made some notes on my exam questions list of what to focus on for term 3, so when we get going on Monday I will be well-prepared to make some adjustments.

Moose had a hard week, which was probably due to Peanut being on break week. We ended up scrapping Wednesday and will finish up everything that we missed tomorrow. Sometimes it’s better to take a break and regroup ourselves than force getting something done so we can stay “on schedule”.

We tried an audiobook of Robin Hood but Moose didn’t like it, and wanted me to read it. So we’re just going reallllly slow and taking as much time as we need.

His narrations for other books are on the upswing, especially the books I mentioned last week. He is getting quite good at discussing the virtues and vices of the people we read about. I’m quite happy with that, although he still tries to have me do a Q&A session (as in “what year did the Battle of Agincourt take place?”). When that happens I’ll give him a narration, or try and give him some prompts so he feels less overwhelmed (“Did we read about King Tut? Moses? Henry V?”). He’s the kind of kid where too much open-endedness can really disorient him, so I try to give him some extra scaffolding.

He is coming along really well in copywork, and in math. Science is a favorite, and he especially likes hearing all the calls and screams on Youtube of the Big Cats that we are reading about. I think we’re getting into a new Term 3 rhythm, which means we should do pretty well for the remainder of the term (and the school year!).

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 12 | AO Year 2, Term 3, Week 2

We reached the end of Peanut’s term 2 last week! Hooray! This week means BREAK WEEK and exams for Peanut.

We fell behind in reading Kidnapped, which means it’s been moved to audiobook status. I think I may need to just put all the literature selections on audiobook status, as I remember having the same thing happen to us when we were reading Robinson Crusoe.  Or I may reduce how many chapters we read each week and carry it on into the summer.

Peanut is definitely getting more and more independent, and while I still read a couple of her books for her; the rest she reads on her own. She also holds her narrations if I’m working with Moose (or kid-wrangling) and gives them to me when I’m actually ready to hear them. I am very much impressed with her and she should have an easy transition to reading all of her books at some point in the future.

I’ve decided not to do written narrations with her until next school year, just because we have a good rhythm going on right now and I’d hate to upset the apple cart. I’ve told her they’re coming down the pipes, so it won’t be a massive shock when it shows up on her schedule.


We’re having some adjustments with Moose and his Term 3 books. Robin Hood, which he so desperately wanted to start has been the hardest book for both him and I to read of the whole school year. He was up to the point of being able to listen to an entire page of reading before narrating; but with Robin Hood we’re stopping at almost every paragraph. I’ve noticed a slight drop in his quality and length of his narrations in other books, which I think is due to some level of nervousness about “getting it right”. He really wants me to just ask him questions, which misses the point of narration. We’ve done things like use dinosaurs to act out the easier books, and sometimes we read Robin Hood and I give a narration to him. He does follow the story and enjoys it but it’s quite a ride.

Two books I’m subbing in are also proving to be challenging – the Vision books of St. Joan of Arc and St. Ignatius of Loyola. The book about St. Ignatius mentioned the Saint breaking his leg and that really upset Moose, as it reminded him of when he broke his leg. LOTS of treading lightly in that chapter and extra time to decompress. He’s capable of narrating quite well on them, but the “Robin Hood effect” as mentioned above is impacting him in these books as well.


I need to focus this term on making sure that we really hit “the riches” on a regular basis. The artist is Michelangelo and the composer is Beethoven; I have prints of the artwork and Spotify playlist of Beethoven; so there’s no reason for missing it (except that I forget to put it in the schedules). The kids are feeling rather blah thanks to the endless snow we’ve had (and of course, it’s snowing right now as I type this), and I’m sure that putting in more of the riches would help their spirits.

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 10

While Moose had his break/exams week this week, Peanut continued on with her lessons.

She and Moose have informed me that next school year, they want to be able to have break week at the same time. Fair enough. I really like the staggered beginnings because I feel like it gives me a nice ease-in to things, but I know it has been sometimes distracting for the non-break week student.

Anyways, we made it through yet another week of back to back to back snowstorms, cabin fever, and the beginning of Lent.

We made progress in Phonetic Zoo and I decided to drop using high frequency words as Peanut has been improving considerably with her spelling.

She had a math test and moved on to the next chapter in Math Mammoth.

We read more about Abigail Adams, and compared John Adams to Benjamin Franklin.

We also discussed whether or not Robert Louis Stevenson uses drinking (of alcohol) as a way of signaling about the character of the characters in the book Kidnapped.

She’s reading more and more books, her favorite authors are Mary Pope Osborne and Caryll Houselander.

She made two needle-felt cats and gave one to her friend. She continues to learn valuable drawing skills from her friend.


We’re in the final stretch for Moose and soon we’ll be wrapping up term 2 for Peanut. Books for the next school year are starting to arrive, they’re being shelved until this year is done. But both kids are getting excited, seeing what is waiting for them in the future.

AO Year 4, Term 2, Week 9 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 12

This week has been a week of excitement – from the Tesla in space to the Olympics, having Greg work from home due to severe weather conditions; it’s just been one thing after the other.

We didn’t watch Elon Musk’s massive rocket launch his Tesla into space as it happened; but we did watch the videos on Youtube and were Way Too Impressed by the pictures of Starman headed off to new places. Moose was a little bummed that Starman probably won’t be back from his adventure any time soon; but we assured him that it was OK for Starman to be the first one to go on a great “drive” in the solar system; paving the way for the more sentient beings of Earth to do something similar.


Moose is thrilled because he finished up his 24th week of second grade a couple days early; allowing for an even longer break “week”. Next week is when we will do exams. I’ll be using some of the Ambleside Exams, but write up some questions that reflects what he did, as we add/remove AO books from time to time.

He happened to see that the next chapter in the Burgess Animal Book has to do with coyotes and wolves; which has really interested him. He’s torn between enjoying his break week or moving onto the next term’s books during Exams week. Luckily for him, he’ll wait until the week after next to start, since he works better just focusing on one thing (exams) and not adding in new material on top of it.

In addition to the Burgess book, he’s also really excited to finally start Robin Hood, as well as the Vision biographies about St. Joan of Arc and St. Ignatius of Loyola.

He was beyond ready to be done with this week. Lots of resistance to do almost anything, which is why we went ahead and finished early. When he realized he just had two more readings to do (finish up our biography about King David and our chapter of Burgess) he just decided to get it over and done with. I think the cabin fever is taking a toll on him, most of his days are spent outside but it’s been too cold for him to do so as much as he wants to. He needed a break and I was happy to finish his school ahead of time. We’ll pick up the rest of his math, handwriting, and reading next term.


Peanut is just a few weeks behind Moose, which means she’ll have the same process as Moose when she gets to break week – Ambleside Exams with some of our own questions. I’m noticing that we’re having more and more spontaneous, in-depth discussions about anything and everything – no subject is exempt. I can see how she really is grasping a lot of these concepts and is beginning to see how to apply them in real life.

I’m debating about whether or not to begin written narration next term for her or start it in fifth grade. I read all of Karen Glass’ Know and Tell book about narration (which was absolutely fabulous, a must-have in my opinion) which provided me with a lot of food for thought about when to start written narrations. Peanut is right at the age for doing so and I feel that she is an extremely competent oral narrator. I just wonder if we should spend the third term learning to touch-type, so she has the option of handwriting or typing a narration; as well as make sure that she really is solid on oral narrating. But then again, she can learn to touch-type alongside beginning to do written narrations, as her written narrations aren’t going to be the small epics she tells me right off the bat. Decisions, decisions.

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, Week 7 | AO Year 2, Term 2, Week 10

This week has been one of those “turning the Titanic” weeks where we spend a while getting back on the routine. It takes a lot of effort to get back into the swing of things, but at the end of the week it’s always hard work well spent and everyone is much calmer as a result.

Incorporating Wok into school has been easy, simply because we’re super low-key with her. She has a list and we check off what we get done, based on what she’s interested in. Right now it’s math and handwriting, with some art and Mater Amabilis stories thrown in as well. I have no intent on keeping her on a rigid schedule so we’ll get done when we get done. I’m not 100% sure I’m going to do all 36 weeks of MA, right now the goal is to get her ready to listen to AO’s Year 1 readings in the fall with the habits of attention and obedience, and lay the groundwork for narration. So right now everything is fun and light and I have no stress about what she does each week.

(You can see on my sidebar that Wok has been moved into Year 0.5 to reflect her status as almost ready to begin Year 1. 🙂 )


We’re getting to the end of some books for Moose – we have one more chapter of The Little Duke and two chapters left of our saint biography about King David. He’s almost finished with The Wind in the Willows (which makes him quite pleased). He’s brought out his next term’s books and is absolutely ecstatic that finally – finally – we will start reading Robin Hood very soon! I think he’s wanted to read this book since he first saw it in his Year 2 stack.

I only need one more book for Term 3 – a saint biography. I was hoping that one of the ones we have in the house would interest him but he’s informed me that he’s interested in reading about St. Ignatius of Loyola. So, I’ll have to purchase the Vision book about St. Ignatius sooner rather than later.

I am really pleased with Moose’s progress this entire year. One of the poems we read today mentioned an ermine, which he remembered (fondly) from when we read about it in the Burgess Animal Book. His narrations are really growing and he’s able to remember longer, more complicated readings before stopping for a narration. Math is finally coming along with a combination of Math Mammoth/Simply Charlotte Mason math and IXL. It still causes a lot of anxiety so we just go slow and stop as soon as we hit resistance. Some days we can go our entire scheduled slot, other days it’s merely 5 minutes. However we are seeing noticeable results and that is helping Moose be less anxious over all.

We are also preparing Moose to receive First Confession and First Holy Communion which is causing much excitement in the house! Peanut is especially excited for him to be able to join her at the wedding feast of the Lamb!


Peanut is also coming along right nicely this year. Having a weekly schedule vs daily is 100% easier and we discovered that Fridays have turned into the “easy” day, where all of her schoolwork is done rather early in the morning. The rest of the day is devoted to playing, exploring her own interests, reading, and coding on her computer (which was Greg’s computer from the early 2000s, hooray for ancient yet functional machines).

Year 4 is really a great year. Peanut is making connections regularly and is developing opinions about people’s characters, which is something she’s realizing outside of books, as well. She is also beginning to get self-motivated and is able to devise her own schedule based on what should be done that way (as in, I can give her a list of subjects and she can organize them in a way that her mind won’t be worn out by doing two hard subjects back-to-back). Her Friday work starts as soon as she’s done with breakfast without my asking as she’s connected that once she’s done with her schoolwork the rest of the day is hers (and of course, she wants a lot of time to do her own thing!).

I am really impressed about her development in terms of motivation and organization. At her age I was no where near that level of self-motivation and I was content on having someone arrange my schedule for me. Sometimes Peanut is fine with however I’ve laid out her schedule, but sometimes she decides that she has a better way and we use that instead. These skills will be extremely useful for the rest of her life so I’m quite thrilled that she’s developing them now.