28 Apr 2011

Making it happen

It is a long time since I've spoken about homeschooling. Long enough almost for you to stop regarding me as a homeschooling blog at all, and to think of me as a feeling sorry for myself blog, or a look what I've done blog, or a this is what I've made blog, or whatever it is that you do call me.

Regardless, I am a homeschooling mum, and I do teach my daughter on pretty much all weekdays. Right now we're on term break. Which is nice. This morning I've read The Horse and His Boy aloud to Jemimah, and she's read Pollyanna aloud to me. (Listening to children read is underrated, I say.) She's given me a foot massage, and styled my hair in ever so many ways, and I've sat there chatting with her about life, the universe and everything, and loving every single moment. We're just back from a lovely stroll to the shops in the gorgeous autumn sunshine, and we're shortly heading back out to eat our salad sandwiches on the lawn. Our tomatoes, our lettuce, our basil, our cucumber. Tinned beetroot. Ahem! Holidays are good.

Apart from the good stuff, I've been planning Term Two. You'll recall that given our history rotation we're up to our first year of Australian history, and it occurred to me that some of you might be interested to know what we've been doing with that, and how I went about deciding what we would do.

Australianising Ambleside Online is not easy. The ladies of the Advisory have done a jolly good job at selecting not only the history spines of the curriculum, but also the literature choices that flow on from there. Not surprisingly, since most of the ladies are American, there is a significant US slant, and I think they would make no apology for that bias. The trouble is, while they have biased Charlotte Mason's techniques toward the American, I want to do the same toward the Australian.

The AO curriculum uses more American poets than I want to; more American artists; more American composers. Imagine my Australian daughter growing up not knowing the poetry of Banjo Patterson, C J Dennis, Lindsay Gordon, "John O'Brien" and Oodgeroo Noonuccal. Imagine her not knowing the art of the Heidelberg School, Albert Namatjira, Grace Cossington Smith, Arthur Boyd, John Olsen, Rover Thomas and Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Imagine not teaching her the music of Percy Grainger and the carols of Wheeler and James!

Then there's the geography of our great land, and its history and its literature and its folksongs and its unique flora and fauna. Adding all of this into the fantastic curriculum that is AO - without adding significantly to the amount of work we are requiring from my daughter - has been a real challenge, as I attempt to tailor this wonderful curriculum to the needs of my family.

To explain in one post how I've attempted to 'fix' all of this would make for an incredibly long probably very boring post. I'll explain it in bits though, if any of you are interested. Today, however, I thought I would show what we're doing for AO4 history, and how we go about doing that. If you want to follow along, here we go:

  1. Firstly, I looked at the AO History rotation, and considered what substitutions I would need to make given the relative youth of our country compared to that of America, which is, itself, a mere toddler when compared to Miss Mason's England. With a bit of tweaking I came up with Our Australianised AO History Rotation.

    AO4 is the beginning for us, really. The rotation says:
    Year 4 --
    Australian History: The discovery of Australia and the explorers
    World History: 1700's up to the French Revolution and American Revolution
  2. Next I divided the year down into terms. It looked like this:

    Term 1: Aborigines and Discovery
    Term 2: Captain Cook
    Term 3: The First Fleet and Matthew Flinders
  3. Then I took a look at my bookcase, choosing books both for History, as well as complementary history spines. I added the relevant books to our History Plan. That looks like this (sorry the formatting doesn't work):
    Ambleside Online Year 4 Australian History

    Term 1 Aborigines and Discovery

    Our Sunburnt Country Ch 1 The Land of the Dreamtime
    The Story of Australia Ch 1 A Hidden Country and its People
    CHOW Ch 71 Charles I 1600
    The Story of Australia Ch 2 The Hidden Land is Found Portugal/Dutch 1605
    CHOW Ch 72 Louis XIII 1601-43
    The Story of Australia Ch 3 A Dutch Sailor Tasman 1642
    The Story of Australia Ch 4 The British come Dampier 1699

    History Tales
    Children of the Dark People by Frank Dalby Davison 14 Chapters

    Term 2 Captain Cook
    Our Sunburnt Country Ch2 New Visitors to an Old Land Cook 1660-1761
    The Story of Australia Ch 5 Captain James Cook Cook 1770
    CHOW Ch 74 Prussia Frederick 1740-86
    Our Island Story Ch 45 Loss of America George III 1776
    CHOW Ch 75 American Revolution George III 1776

    History Tales
    James Cook Royal Navy by George Finke 19 Chapters 1770
    Bennelong by Joan Phipson 9 Chapters 1770-1813

    Term 3 The First Fleet, Matthew Flinders
    The Story of Australia Ch 6 British Settlement 1st Fleet 1788
    Our Sunburnt Country Ch 3 The Came and Stayed 1st Fleet 1788
    The Little Wooden Horse 1st Fleet 1788
    The Story of Australia Ch 7 Trouble and Wool Bligh
    Our Sunburnt Country Ch 4 Rum and Rebellion Bligh
    The Story of Australia Ch8 Bass and Flinders Flinders 1795
    Our Sunburnt Country Ch 5 Bass and Flinders Flinders 1795

    History Tales
    John of the Sirius by Doris Chadwick 21 Chapters 1787
    Matthew Flinders by George Finkel 7 Chapters 1795
  4. Next, I looked at the relevant chapters for each time period. You can see that above as well.

  5. Finally, I worked them into the AO weekly schedule. That's what I'm working on for Term Two right now. If you would like to see what I come up with for Term Two, and what worked surprisingly well for Term One, leave me a comment and I'll get right on it...as they say in the classics...or on telly...or somewhere, anyhow.

    Let me know if you want quick reviews on all the books as well. I can do that - in fact I'd love to do it for you if you want me too, but it is a bit of a wast of time otherwise, don't you agree?
Apart from this, the hols are going swimmingly. It is the Royal Wedding tomorrow night. I'm hosting a Right Royal Knees-up for all the girls in my family. We'll be dining on Cucumber Sarnies, Coronation Chicken, and Queen of Puddings.

Will you be watching? What will you be eating?

So nice of Wills and Kate to time their wedding just for us in Oz, wasn't it? It'll be just in time for dinner on Friday night here. Some of you will need to wait until some dreadful hour of the morning. I s'pose you'll need to serve Smoked Kippers. Or Kedgeree - that would be quite Imperial, now, wouldn't it, and not too OTT for brekky with the girls.

Perhaps I'll offer that if our ladies don't go home in time...maybe.

Okay, I'm a bit silly. Sorry. Royal weddings do that to a girl.


  1. This makes me want to cover Australian history. I'm wishing my children knew all those great artists and poets, too.

    Sorry, I haven't been commenting. I've not been commenting anywhere. But I have been reading (and praying) for you.

  2. Thank you for posting your Australianization of AO, now I wish you had done that for SCM as I'm going to have to figure out how to fit it all in with a year on Russia as well.

    While you are enjoying the royal wedding I will be at our state homeschool conference with the family. First time for everything.

  3. Hi Jeanne,
    Yes, I want to hear all about Australianising AO. I read all these posts avidly including book reviews. I would even appreciate knowing which years you do the various poets, composers and artists.
    I am not familiar with some of the books you mention, could you please include authors so I can find out more about them.

    Tonight we'll be watching too. It will be fun. I remember watching Charles and Diana's wedding 30 years ago with my Grandmother. A real spectacle. I hope this marriage is more successful.

    Thanks for continuing to blog. As you know I appreciate your trailblazing of an Aussie AO.


  4. Hi Jeanne,
    You are blessed to have a copy of 'John of the Sirius' I have been looking for one for years and have found them to be extremely expensive.
    I have a few years before I'll need it so I'll keep on looking.
    Having had a better look at your post I can see that the only book I am unfamiliar with is 'The Story of Australia'. Could you please let me know the author?


  5. Hi Louise,

    If you don’t find it, you can borrow my John book when you need it for Lucy!! I have John of Sydney Cove as well, but am still looking for the third book.

    The Story of Australia for Boys and Girls is by Joseph Bryant. It is here:


    but is not worth the $60.00 asking price. It was written back in 1921, and is the best history book I’ve seen for Primary Aussie history by far. The Aboriginal chapter is a bit racist and dated obviously, but the rest is great! Keep an eye out for a cheaper copy.

  6. Jeanne,

    I would love to read it all - your Term 1 adventures and your book reviews. I am just beginning to explore Australian history in more depth my own children and would love to glean ideas off you. :)

  7. I would love to read reviews of the books. I like to include world history in our studies and sometimes I just have to guess what books would be good. I'd prefer your recommendations about Australian books.

    I won't be watching the wedding but I will be watching a baseball game. :) (But I'm sure I'll peek at the coverage after the event! A royal wedding is irresistible.)

  8. I love anything you write my dear! :) I love how you tailored your daughter's education to what is important to you. So jealous!

    As for the royal wedding, it is on at 6 AM here in Florida so I won't be doing anything although I am kinda sad that I forgot about it until this week. Madison would have enjoyed doing something while watching it. Oh well.

  9. I am not sure if you are aware of it but there is a Yahoo group called CMandFriends-ANZ that used to have some great resources and lists on Australian history. I copied some lists from there years ago. I hate the thought of good resources disappearing so will quite often put the gems into a document.

    I will have to watch what you do. I am not covering Australian history as well as I would like to.

    Best wishes
    Jen in NSW

  10. Hi Jeanne,
    Thanks for your offer. Hopefully I won't need to borrow but it is good to know there is a back up position.

  11. Of course I don't have a need to Australianize Ambleside, but it's wonderful how you've done it!

  12. In my search to find a way to New zealandise AO 4 I have come across your wonderful blog. I have spent hours (literally, as we are way out in NZ country and have an extremely slow connection) Have you come across a book that would be an ideal spine for NZ? Would you have any suggestions for other literature for us? Thank you for taking the time to share with us all that you do. I am subscribing now so that I do not miss any future posts. Kind Regards


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