Friday, September 9, 2016

Year 5 in Our Home :: Overview

We're more than halfway through our first term of Year 5 and it's all going smoothly, so I thought I'd share what Vincent and Gianna's school year looks like for the 2016-2017 year.

As always, we draw heavily from AmblesideOnline's wonderful bookslists -- this year, we're using their Year 5 programme.  Their site has weekly breakdowns, as well as exams and study guides for some of the scheduled books, so be sure to take a look!  (My booklist here is posted with permission from AmblesideOnline.)  

I have marked the portions of our schedule that are directly from AO in regular type.  The bolded bits are my own selections.  Portions marked with "NN" are are not narrated, either because they are additional readings I have added to the AO schedule (and thus I treat them more like free reading) or because they are part of our Morning Basket and done as a family.  
(More about that below.)  

Affiliate links are below for books I have added to our schedule.  Any books scheduled by AO are unlinked -- please click over to their site and purchase through their affiliate links! ;)

New Testament - Gospel of St. Matthew (Term 1 and 2), biblical Lenten devotional (Term 3)

Old Testament -
 Schuster's Bible History (one chapter weekly) with illustrations from the Dore Bible, Rumer Godden's The Raphael Bible, and Stories from the Old Testament

Saints and Catholic History - Bartleme's Simon Brute and the Western Adventure (Term 1), Garnett's Florence Nightingale's Nuns (Term 2), Heagney's Chaplain in Gray (Term 3)  *NN

Catechism (reading aloud to Cate) -  My Path to Heaven (Term 1),  The Secret of Mary Explained to Children (Term 2), Fr. Francis' Keep My Commandments (Term 3)  *NN

Also: The Catechism in Pictures (all year) *NN

World - Abraham Lincoln's World, Story of the World Vol. 4

National - Marshall's This Country of Ours

Biographies - Daugherty's Of Courage Undaunted (
Term 1), The Autobiography of Hellen Keller (Term 2), choice of biography -- more on that below! (Term 3)

Keeping of History Notebook, including timeline and century chart
Natural History
and Science
Kingsley's Madam How and Lady Why (using Anne White's study guide)
Christian Liberty Nature Reader Vol. 5
The Story of Inventions

Keeping of Science Notebook
GeographyHalliburton's Book of Marvels

Weekly mapwork - formal Keeping of maps of the United States (charting Lewis and Clark, Audubon, Fremont), Civil War Battlefields (This Country of Ours), and the world (Book of Marvels)

Map drills - countries of Central America, provinces of Canada, cities of California
LiteratureShakespeare - Comedy of Errors (Term 1), TBD (Term 2), Macbeth (Term 3)

Plutarch / Citizenship - Pyrrhus (Term 1),  Nicias (Term 2),  Crassus (Term 3) using Anne White's study guides

Pyle's King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (Term 1), Oliver Twist (Term 2), Kim (Term 3)
PoetryKipling (Term 1), Longfellow (Term 2), Whittier and Dunbar (Term 3)
Music StudyChildren's Classics (Term 1), Tchaikovsky (Term 2), Dvorak (Term 3)
Biographical sketches for each composer *NN
Art StudyDavid (Term 1), Giotto (Term 2),  Winslow Homer (Term 3)
Readings from Hillyer's A Child's History of Art  *NN
ArtWeekly art lesson with instructor
Twice-weekly use of McIntyre's Drawing Textbook
MusicWeekly piano lesson and daily practice
Nature StudyWeekly nature study outing and journal entry

Twice-monthly object lesson and in-the-field sketching session focusing on birds with our nature study group

Weekly reading + challenge from The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling

Keeping a Calendar of Firsts as a family
ItalianDaily work, one unit each month, including songs, games, rhymes, picture narration, conversation and review

Written work including translation and copywork twice a week
LatinLesson twice a week from Getting Started with Latin (Term 1) and Henle: First Year (Terms 2 and 3)
HandicraftsPaper crafts (Term 1), Christmas gifts (Term 2), needle felting (Term 3)
Language ArtsCopywork - daily cursive practice of dictation passage, weekly print entry in Prose and Poetry Copybook

Dictation - one studied dictation passage weekly

Grammar - one lesson from Winston Grammar (much cheaper here) weekly (continued from last year)
Daily lesson - Jacobs' Algebra Jacobs' Geometry (three times weekly)

Weekly lesson - from RightStart Level G

Math supplement - problem from Challenge MathMath Olympiador Penrose the Mathematical Cat twice weekly
Free ReadingAmblesideOnline's Year 5 free reading list, with lots of additions for my book-loving kids
Scheduled Free ReadingTogether -  Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Term 1)A Christmas Carol (Term 2), Treasure Island (Term 3)  *NN

Independent -  
Little Women (Term 1), Across Five Aprils (Term 2)Tom Sawyer (Term 3)  *NN
Other Assignments and ProjectsReading Log
Physical Education - Memory Work and Movement, weekly 3-mile run with Mommy, workouts using Fitness Blender
Typing - once weekly using Typing Club
Memory WorkBible - The Parable of the Good Shepherd, the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14), Jesus and the Children (Luke 18:15-17), Psalm 1, Words of Consecration in English and Latin

Poetry - from each term's poets

Hymns - Bring Flowers of the Fairest, Fairest Lord Jesus, On This Day, Good Christian Men Rejoice, O Holy Night, Jesus My Lord My God My All, Jesus The Very Thought of Thee, Love Divine All Loves Excelling

Folk Songs - Blow the Man Down, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Jamaica Farewell, Ol' Dan Tucker, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Battle Cry of Freedom, Goober Pees, Shoo Fly Don't Bother Me, Shenandoah

(Starting in Term 2, we're doing mostly Civil War-era songs using the fabulous 2nd South Carolina String Band versions -- so fun!)

Shakespeare - selections from plays read for group performance

Prayers - Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love; TBD

Some notes about our Year 5 plans:

:: First, Not-Narrated Readings.  As I mentioned, the selections marked "NN" are not narrated, either because they are part of our Morning Basket (even though they're geared toward the older kids) or because they are Sunday reading or evening reading for my older two.  They are eager bookworms, and I like to direct their plentiful free reading a bit each week.  All other readings are narrated either orally or in writing.

:: Foreign Language.  I haven't done a proper post detailing how our Italian plans have grown over the years since I wrote this series.  We are still educating in the same way, but our assignments are more robust now that Vincent and Gianna are responsible for a bit of reading and writing in Italian.  That means we're doing copywork, translations, short oral and written narrations, and even some textbook exercises.  I'm trying to stick to CM's methods in our foreign language studies, but as the students get older, her suggestions grow as well and include traditional grammar work.  And since we do Italian mostly as a family, that means I have a couple extra slots in my schedule for those more challenging kinds of assignments with just my Bigs while keeping the family-friendly activities in our usual daily slot.  And I moved Italian memory work back to our Morning Basket this year so my littles can join in.  Lots more to say on this topic, and let's hope I get around to actually putting it into a post some time this year! ;)

As for Latin: we did Getting Started with Latin a couple times a week last year and are continuing our twice-weekly schedule with the last few lessons in the book.  After we finish that (in the next couple months), we'll probably move straight on to Henle.  I haven't decided for sure.  Right now Latin is an independent subject, but if we move on to Henle, I'll probably take it back to do together.  Still figuring that out as well!

:: Language Arts.  Last year we started dictation, grammar, and written narrations in language arts.  This year we're continuing dictation with longer passages, grammar with our regular weekly lessons, and written narrations twice-weekly.  They are doing copywork in cursive three days a week (of their dictation passage, without a model) and in print once a week (in their Prose and Poetry book -- free choice of selection).  I am very happy with Winston Grammar (linked above) and we are almost done with the Basic level program.  I'm not planning to move on to the Advanced level yet -- we'll save that for a couple years from now.  We'll just continue to practice what we've learned periodically using our dictation sentences, which we have already been doing.  Written narrations are fifteen minutes each and are on one science reading (in their science notebook) and one history reading (in their history notebook).  They are free to work on them for longer, adding more drawings and illustrations if they choose, during their free time -- which they sometimes do now that they are keeping formal notebooks!  More on that below.

:: Math.  Vincent is about to finish up Jacobs' Algebra and Gianna is just beginning it.  So she will be working through that this year, and he will be taking a detour for a month or so to do some more Challenge Math and Olympiad problems while I figure out what he's going to do next -- I'm pretty sure it will be Jacobs' Geometry, but I want to do some more research first. In the meantime, they're doing one lesson from RightStart Level G each week (hands-on geometry with drawing tools) and some kind of brain twister twice weekly.  Right now, they're reading through Penrose the Mathematical Cat, and after that it will be back to Olympiad for a little while, I think.  Fun!  

We break math into three parts here: one 20-minute session first thing in the morning, one 20-minute session in the afternoon to finish up any leftover work from morning if needed, and then 5 minutes twice a week at naptime to do a challenge of some sort.  This structure is working out great for us.

:: Religion.  I have scheduled readings in various categories again: Old Testament, New Testament, saints/history, catechism/devotional.  The first two are in Morning Basket so are read and narrated as a family.  The other two are not narrated because they are "Sunday reading," including that last one, which the Big Kids read to Cate as well. We are cycling back through Schuster's Old Testament again this year, and I chose a Gospel to work through beginning to end (last year we did Acts and a couple epistles).  I left Lent free so I could pop some relevant Bible readings into that slot.  I chose their saints books based on this year's history cycle, one focused on Europe (Catholic nurses in the Crimean War) and two on America (missionary bishop to the West and Civil War chaplain).  And Xavier 
will be doing sacramental prep this year, so the family is following along in their own catechism, which I will be reading during our Morning Basket this spring.  (Cate received her First Communion just last year, so it's all still pretty fresh, but we'll review anyway.)

By the way, I'd love to find some good WWI-era saints to add to their free reading shelf, so if you have suggestions, please let me know!

:: Literature.  As usual, I have pulled all our literature selections from AmblesideOnline, except for our choice of Shakespeare plays, which I base on local productions.  Our family study format is to read the play in Lambs' (which my Form I students narrate) for the first couple weeks of the term, then read along as we listen to the original as an Arkangel Shakespeare recording (these are just wonderful but pricey -- we check them out from the library) for the next few weeks, then watch the play on stage.  In the meantime, we also choose passages to memorize, and this year, the kids will be performing a short piece together from our play of choice for a Shakespeare Festival I'm organizing with friends.  It's a rich, layered progression through each play and we are so enjoying it.  I think it's my kids' favorite subject (and probably mine too!).

:: Biographies.  I love biographies, I do.  But I had too many biography options this year!  AmblesideOnline schedules one science biography and one history biography each term.  I usually add to that a saints' biography each term, and I also wanted to do a couple California history biographies. I also had a few other books on my shelf that I wanted to use.  So I made some hard cuts, moved some of the options to free reads, and wound up with this:

Term 1:
Of Courage Undaunted (history biography as scheduled by AO)
This Strange Wilderness (science/natural history biography of Audubon)
Simon Brute and the Western Adventure (religious biography about a missionary that becomes the first bishop of Vicennes, Indiana in the 1800s)

Term 2:
Jessie Benton Fremont (CA historical biography suggested by Brandy)
Florence Nightingale's Nuns (religious biography about the Catholic nuns who worked with Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War)
The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (historical autobiography - taken from the AO free read suggestions for Year 5)

Term 3:
biography of choice**
The Wild Muir (CA historical autobiography suggested by Brandy)
Chaplain in Gray (history/religious biography about a chaplain in the Civil War)

Added to the Free Read Shelf:
All of the science biographies recommended by AO
The Palace Wagon Family (about the Donner party)
Jed Smith (recommended by Brandy)
Whichever biographies they don't choose for their Term 3 reading

**Since I had such a wide selection of wonderful options, I decided to let them choose among a few options for their Term 3 biography: The Tale of Beatrix Potter, Invincible Louisa (Louisa May Alcott), Theodore Roosevelt: Champion of the American Spirit, The Story of Madame Curie.  I'll let you know what they pick!  My guess: Gianna will pick Invincible Louisa and Vincent will pick Teddy.  But the rest will go on the free reading shelf, so I'm sure they will all be eventually devoured! :)

:: Notebooks. This year my kids are keeping History Notebooks and Science Notebooks.  The Science Notebook is straightforward for now: it holds their weekly written narrations from Christian Liberty Nature Reader as well as accompanying diagrams and illustrations as desired. In future years, this notebook will grow to contain the write-ups of their scientific experiments and observations, so this is a good start.

The History Notebook is more robust -- it houses all their mapwork, their century chart, their written narrations, and other student-directed history keeping.  I require one map entry, one century chart entry, and one written narration weekly, but they often choose to do a bit of extra keeping in their free time in other areas: lists, charts, timelines, additional maps, sketches, and so on.  They are taking a lot of pride in their work and I think it's going to be a great segue for when they begin a proper Book of Centuries when the history cycle re-begins in Year 6.  (I even wrote a cover letter for their History Notebook with encouragement and ideas, which made the project feel really special.  And I shared last year's maps and century charts here if you'd like to take a peek.)

:: Nature Study.  This year our weekly nature study group is growing.  Instead of having a planned activity once a month, we'll be doing a focused lesson twice a month: one week topical (we're studying birds this year) and one week method-based (we'll be using John Muir Laws' free curriculum).  The other two weeks of the month will be for free play and exploration.  We'll continue to do one nature journal entry per week as always.  (I haven't missed a week yet this year so I am very motivated to keep up my streak! LOL)  I will write more about this year's nature study group another time, so let me know if you have questions.

:: Outside Lessons. I am very picky about our outside time since I know too many activities are draining to me.  So once again, our extracurriculars are limited to these weekly lessons: art and piano (the teacher come to our house!), nature study outing with friends, and park day with friends.  We will also add swimming later this fall for the older four.  This year we're also organizing a Shakespeare Festival with friends once a semester, but we'll be practicing for that at home and only getting together for the event itself.  That's it -- and more than enough for me! ;)

:: Organization.  As a quick list (since I know people are going to ask! LOL), here's what is on my Year 5 kids' shelves in addition to our scheduled books...

History Notebook and Science Notebook (we like these blank notebooks)
Reading Log (same as above, but lined)
Prose and Poetry Notebook (we use a hardcover composition book from Walmart, but the one I linked above would be perfect)
Nature Journal
Math notebook - not a keepsake, just for working problems and math puzzles
Foreign language notebook - not a keepsake, just for translation exercises and copywork for Latin + Italian
Drawing sketchbook - not a keepsake, just for their twice-weekly drawing practice
Winston Grammar workbook
Form II Binder - for term schedule for reference, dictation passages, reference maps, their binder timeline, memory work passages, map drill pages, etc.

They also each have a pencil box, where they keep a set of colored pencils, a mechanical pencil, erasable pens in blue and black, a drawing marker, sketching pencils (one hard lead, one soft lead), scissors, eraser, and their current weekly checklist.

Their school books are all on one shelf:

And I have supplemental books for their studies on another shelf.  These are for when I want to show them a relevant picture or they need one to copy for a history narration or century chart entry.  There is also an atlas in there, a book with body illustrations, a book of kings and queens...a whole bunch of stuff.  (I'll have to do a Year 5 supplement cheat sheet soon!)

there are their history + sciece notebooks on the right

Their current free reads are also on one shelf:

And extra free reads to replenish their shelf with on another.

I'll share about how we're actually scheduling out all these assignments and readings in my upcoming post about this year's weekly checklist.


I think that about covers it!  I've tried to anticipate some of the questions I usually get about our schedule, so I apologize for the length. ;)  If you have other questions, let me know!

Coming up soon: my Form I plans, this year's checklist and schedule sheets, our Morning Basket plans for Term 1, and a look at my Weekly Planning session and our Weekly I missing anything?! :)

(And just as a last note: I'm sure this is obvious, but please remember that our plans are specific to our family's personality and needs.  I share them because I know many of you are looking for examples of different ways to live out the AmblesideOnline curriculum, or to deal with eager and early learners within that setting, or to make Catholic additions or substitutions to the curriculum.  This is one way in one home and isn't meant to work for all families or all children.  So take what you want and ignore the rest!  Another place to look for the ways other families live out Year 5 is the AmblesideOnline forums -- lots of diverse examples there!)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Keeping Company :: September

Hello!  I hope your September is off to a lovely start.  Are you ready to chat about CM-style notebooks as we kick off a new school year?  Or are you at least ready to read about how others are doing so? ;)  Read on through for lots of inspiration...

happening here: tree in the trail mapping



Starting the Discussion

I think pretty much everyone is back to lessons, so today I'm going to ask: how are you handling Keeping for the new school year?  Do you have a schedule for yourself and/or for your kids, or do you try to just live out a Keeping lifestyle and let your practices flow from there?  Are you finding inspiration in particular places as you plan your year's notebooks?  Are you trying something new?  Staying the course with habits already built?  Are you getting creative or staying with the tried-and-true?  What does a week of Keeping look like in your homeschool?

We've got a little of everything going on.  We're sticking with our weekly nature journal entry but incorporating more painting and more in-the-field observations this year.  We're all still keeping commonplace books weekly.  My younger kids still have their maps and timelines in their binders, but this year, the Big Kids' maps and century charts are in a History Notebook, which is housing all other sorts of student-chosen bits of information: charts, narrations, timelines, and such.  It has been both fun and valuable so far, and I'll be sharing more about that -- and their Science Notebooks -- here on the blog soon.  And this year, I am also keeping maps and century charts alongside them and am having a great time with that.  What are you up to?

This Month's Round-Up

Over on Instagram, #KeepingCompanyCM has been hopping this month, partly because it's back-to-school season and partly because there are just some amazing moms contributing who are inspired and inspiring. Thanks to all of you!  A few of my favorite shares from the past few weeks...

The first couple I pulled because I loved the juxtaposition: mother-son keeping!

from kaypelham - son on left, mom on right

from sarahjokim - son on left, mom on right

I love seeing mamas and students appreciating these lifelong habits together.

And I'm always inspired by the photos Maria tags -- her daughter is doing really lovely work over in Malaysia!

from mariasugiyopranoto -- all by her daughter
Last but not least: look at all the variety in this roundup!

brc_mackenzie - ambervanderpol - stoppingforbutterflies - jennyp0208
sarahjonna - h5manriquez - - cmnewby
athena_amidstthereeds - theycallmemommy618 - rjnsix - lylyfreshty

And around the blogosphere...

Wattle day, Aussie birds, and some nature poems by Veronica Mason from the ever-wonderful Carol.  (Oh, and Flannery O'Connor too!)

It's Tuesday, but we can all use this reminder from Amy's commonplace book: Monday Ponderings.

Weekly happenings from My Peace in the Puzzle. (I agree with her that autumn at the beach is wonderful.  And take a look at their nature journal entries and that fabulous 1914 edition of Parables from Nature! Swoon.)

And a new-to-me and extra-lovely blog: Meghan at Rubber Meets Road shares how she "closes the book" on each read by adding to her commonplace.  Her process is very similar to mine and I love how she described it.  Go take a read!

And now it's your turn...

The Link-Up

:: For bloggers: Click on the "Add my link" button below, and it will prompt you to include the information for your post.  Once you submit it, your link will be added to the list, and others will be able to click over and read what you have shared.
:: For Instagrammers: Tag related photos with #KeepingCompanyCM to join the link-up.

:: Remember to link to a specific post and not to your blog's homepage. 
:: Any posts about CM-style Keeping are welcome!  The prompt is optional.  Your post can be as simple as a photo of your commonplace book.
:: Feel free to add more than one post.  The link-up will be open for a month, so you can come back and add more if you are so inclined.
:: You can grab the button over there on the sidebar if you'd like to add it to your post or site.

As always, thanks for sharing!

Monday, August 22, 2016

{This and That}

I know lots of you are started school last week -- I hope you had a lovely start to your new year.  Our local schools started back last week also.  Naturally we spent that day at the beach! ;)  We'll be enjoying fall's calmer crowds from here on out!


Even better than Charlotte Mason at the beach: Charlotte Mason with sixty other moms, in a beautiful location, with a full day of John Muir Laws instruction and a trip to the Getty!

I got home from the CMI Western Conference a couple weeks ago.  It was wonderful and provided me with much food for thought.  Eventually I'll get some of the main points I took away from the trip up, but for now I'm remaining in (and enjoying!) processing mode.

The best part, though, was chatting with so many other enthusiastic ladies, including some I'd known for years online but hadn't yet met in person (like Jenny!).  It was also a treat to meet some readers and share ideas face-to-face rather than via email or in the comment box.

On top of that, I stopped on my drive down for a little lunch with Brandy, so even the 5-hour drive was fun!  It was an all-around great time, and if I don't have a newborn due or in arms next summer I'll be trying to attend again.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to our February conference here in the Bay Area even more!


If you're following along on Instagram, you'll already know that a few weeks ago, Justin took off walking!

very pleased to call himself our earliest walker, at just eight months!

He also is attempting to go from two naps to one, poor guy.  It has led to snoozes in all sorts of unwelcome places...

It has gotten to the point that as soon as I sit him in his high chair -- for whatever meal, at whatever time of day -- he starts nodding off!  LOL


I caught up on sorting photos this past weekend and noticed that my recent snaps of Monterey (one of our favorite coastal towns) contrasted neatly: either moody gray-blue or...bright!  (No filters here, and no, that top one isn't b+w!)  I think that pretty well sums up the Northern California coast this time of year.  Mornings are gray, but once the sun comes out...


A little reading around the web...

Unwelcoming Gluttony from the Table of Sophia
Writing Your Own Charter
Have Kids, Become Divine


We are more than halfway through our first term, so soon I'll be ready to share a bit about what we're doing this year: Year 5, our Form I rotation, our daily schedule and weekly checklist, and our first term of Morning Basket plans.  Whew, that's a lot! :)  I hope to be back with at least one of those posts before the weekend.

In the meantime, check out Keeping Company and have a great week!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Nature Study Outing :: The Pond in Summer

We take advantage of any cooler days to head to our favorite pond.  As beautiful as it is, there is no shade there on the trail side of the banks, which makes for really warm mornings.  Last week was one such day, so we headed over to make some seasonal comparisons.

To give you a visual: here's the pond in spring (top) and in summer (bottom)...

These were taken from almost the same spot.  If you look closely, you can see the fallen tree on the far banks as a comparison.  Pretty crazy, right?  Here in California, that's about as much "change of seasons" that we get, so it's neat to be able to make observations at such a spot.

As you can see, the marsh grasses -- sedge, smartweed, cattails, and rushes -- take over almost all of the pond and leaving just a wet, mucky bit in the center:

In spring, the banks are covered in a beautiful, colorful range of wildflowers.  But in summer, yellow star thistle and bull thistle run the show, with some tarweed and bindweed here and there.  (There's a reason these varieties are considered invasive!)  But the bees love them, even if we don't! ;)

We also found a new-to-us variety of sedge this week:

At least I think it's a sedge -- it looks so very different from the flatleaf variety we're used to.  But I remembered "sedges have edges" from Botany in a Day and then did some Googling. ;)  (If you know what kind it is, please give me details in the comments!)

Happy weekend!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Nature Study at the Beach :: Negative Tide and Other Neat Sights

Last month we made an early morning trip the coast to hit negative tide.  It was a gray day, but low tide always makes up for that.  (Besides, I actually like gray days!)

see the shore crab?

crustacean fossils

the cliffs -- often the water is right up to the cliff line

strata of fossils -- SO neat

these curious furrows in nearly solid rock -- we were thinking of Madam How and Lady Why!

And just to tack on some other interesting beach finds from this summer:

Vincent found this sand dollar split open lengthwise and still in tact.  I've never seen one so neatly parted like this!  The inside is so delicate.

On our last beach trip, the lifeguard alerted us to this dead stingray right next to us on the beach.  It was only about seven inches across, but it was so neat to get a peek at his spine (the underside of him was a bit more mangled and bone was exposed).

This one was fun: we found what the kids called "the most gigantic (dead) mole crab we've ever seen!!"  It did look like a mole crab, but apparently it's called a spiny sand crab, and it eats the usual mole crabs we see.  It was as large as my palm!

drew was enamored with his "cwab"

Another day we found purple waves hitting the shore.

see the purple tinge?
As we got closer, we noticed it was tiny purple dots within the waves casting the tint.

Apparently those tiny dots are zillions of purple salp.  Weird, right?

Okay, that's all my unusual sightings from the past couple months. :) Have you seen anything particularly remarkable lately?