21 Dec 2011

Moving right along

This mostly-peaceful-but-not-recently blog has been far too controversial of late. You all know how I crave your approval, and so I tend to stear clear of talking about things that upset you, honest I do. I want you all to like me!

Fortunately, alongside celebrating the 'C' word, I've also been beavering away at our homeschool preparations for AO5 beginning in only a few weeks at the beginning of January. Probably most of you re far too busy doing, well, other stuff, and are entirely disinterested in what I've planned, but I thought that I would post it here if only to put a little distance between things that upset people and...well, things that they're not interested enough to get upset about.

I'm excited about next year. The books have been arriving through the last few days, and we've had a lot of fun having a little bit of a preview of what we'll be studying. John Gibson Paton, Beatrix Potter, George Washington Carver and Lillias Trotter are amongst the wonderful personalities we'll be getting to know, along with my Grandfather, the WWI hero, Sloan Bolton. We'll be reading Oliver Twist, Little Women, Kim, Anne of Green Gables, Norah of Billabong, and other wonderful, wonderful works of literature. All years of Ambleside Online are splendid, but AO5 is shaping up to be truly exceptional!

Many think of AO as being only a booklist, but implemented well, it is so much more than that. I thought that in this post I would give you an idea of the other things that we'll be doing in our Australianised AO5 to transform this list of books into a curriculum that is as close as possible to that which Miss Mason used in her own schools, and which bore so much good fruit.

Sound good? Okay, let's begin with Language Arts, shall we?


Finally next year we get to make use of the Downunder Copywork that I purchased before Jemimah even commenced in AO1. Despite having purchased the complete set, we've never used it because I subsequently decided that I preferred the Victorian font to the NSW style foundation font used in the books. Finally in AO5, Jemimah's handwriting has developed to such an extent that she no longer needs to copy the font to form the letters neatly and correctly, and I think she will manage to utilise the excellent Australian copywork selections provided in the latter books without compromising on precision. At the age of ten, little girls, particularly, enjoy developing their own distinctive style of handwriting, and I can already imagine Jemimah adding in a few of the flourishes from the old fashioned manuscript style as well.

In past years Jemimah has written using an HB pencil. Commencing next year she will begin using a cartridge style fountain pen. I remember how incredibly thrilled I was when we graduated to using fountain pens in grade four, although ours were the old fashioned ink well type, and not a few terrible accidents happened as a result. I wonder if mine was the last year to use ink pens. Certainly my brother who is only two years younger was introduced straight into using ball point 'biros'.

Writing with a nib is a skill. No doubt Jemimah will use a conventional ball point in the future, but next year, at least, I want her to experience the old-fashioned pleasure of pen and ink copywork.

Studied Dictation

We'll continue on with Simply Charlotte Mason's Spelling Wisdom (British version) for this subject. We have noticed a significant improvement in Jemimah's spelling merely by our diligent application of Miss Mason's methods using this book. We may also utilise some of the Downunder Copywork selections next year. I'll see how we go. We usually do two dictation lessons each week.


Oral narration will continue on all selections. Occasionally we skip this as a surprise treat, and occasionally she does novelty narrations, but for the most part she simply tells back what's she's heard.

Written narration will commence next year, much to Jemimah's disgust. We'll begin with one written piece per week, and increase it once the rebellion dies down. Initially I'll allow her to read her piece aloud, and I won't even look at it. Later we might look at correcting punctuation and layout, but I can't imagine that being in the first two terms, to be honest.


After two terms of grammar this year we spent the last term reading Nuri Mass' excellent Little Grammar People. We both learned heaps from this book. Next year we plan on a nice easy-peasy beginning to the year by using Mad Libs, a game popular in North America (or so I'm lead to believe), but almost unheard of in Australia. I've ordered a few of these books from Amazon, and they've not arrived, so I've yet to see one in reality, but they appear to be a fun way to consolidate the parts of speech we learned this year. In term two we'll use Charlotte Mason's First Grammar Lessons again, and maybe read Nesbit's Grammarland in term three.


I meant to do this in 2011, but it just didn't happen. 2012 is the year. I'm going to use the programme my two nephews are using, but I can't remember what it's called. I'll ask my brother and let you know.


We loved our term of Simply Charlotte Mason's Pet Shop Maths at the end of this year, and feel refreshed and ready to head back into the rigours of MEP5 next year. We'll do a few of the introductory revision lessons at the beginning of MEP5 before taking up where we left off midway through the year.


We really enjoyed Minimus Latin this year. We finished Book One, but I don't think we're ready to commence Book Two quite yet. I've ordered the series of MiniBooks readers that accompany Book One, and we're going to use these to get a better grasp on our vocab before moving ahead to Book Two later in the year.


I'm really excited to be beginning Mission Monde French in AO5. The books arrived during the week, and they look wonderful! We're doing Mission Monde Level One, which is Grade Four standard. In addition to this we will continue to read and narrate little stories from G Gladstone Solomon's books, Je Sais Lire and Le Français pour Les Jeunes, both of which use short phrases of French that build on each other to form a short story, similar to M. François Gouin's method explained by Charlotte Mason in Home Education (p 303).

Our French Psalms are taken from two Psalters: Chantons au Seigneur by Eglise Réformée Evangélique and Psaumes 1-50 d'aprés la Version Poétique de Clément Marot et Théodore de Bèze. We sing and then memorise three per term (or, rather, Jemimah does. I am not nearly as good at this as she is), as many verses as we can master. Next term we will continue with Psaume 23.

We are also memorising this Psalm from the version d'Osterveld Bible that Jemimah's Great Granddad won as third prize from Moffat Road Sunday School back in 1916. We memorise as many verses as we can. When one is mastered we move onto the next.

French folksongs come from this Youtube channel. J'adore this resource! We learn three per term by heart. I haven't chosen these yet...watch this space.

Performing Arts

We've resubscribed to the Season of The Australian Ballet again next year. Highlights include traditional versions of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Onegin. It's the company's 50th Anniversary in 2012, and it looks to be an extraordinary year of dance.

We're a little disappointed by the Shakespeare offerings in Melbourne in 2012. Bell Shakespeare are performing only one full length play - Macbeth - in July, so we'll study that in second term and see it performed. Later in the year they're performing a concert of highlights from Romeo and Juliet along with the MSO. Perhaps we'll see this. Don't know yet.

We're excited to be attending Victorian Opera's traditional pantomime performance of Cinderella in the spectacular Her Majesty's Theatre in January. I haven't been to a panto since I was a little girl, so I hope it's what I remember, with lots of buffoonery, slapstick and audience participation. If it is, Jemimah will have a ball.

Opera Australia are performing Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville in April. This a great opera for kids. It's on our list. Pucini's Madama Butterfly is a maybe as well.


Plutarch's Marcus Brutus in Term One, using Anne White's indispensable study guide. These are fabulous. I would like to read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar to set the scene as it were and compliment our study. This may be a little bit optimistic, but I've put it on the timetable. We'll see. Perhaps we'll just watch it on DVD.

Art and Picture Study

We dropped art in 2011 after the floods, and I'm keen to pick it up again. I've ordered Artistic Pursuits Book 3 because Jemimah is desperate to study sculpture, the focus of this particular book. I haven't seen the books yet. Hope they arrive soon - I'm looking forward to checking them out!

Fragonard is our artist for picture study. This artist fits in with our history period for Term 1(almost!), and I think the paintings that the AO Advisory have selected are beautiful. We have our pieces printed professionally onto photographic paper, and mount them in our Book of Masterpieces. It is a much treasured book of old friends, this.

Music and Composer Study

Jemimah is super keen to study violin, but unless a teacher drops out of thin air between now and January 1 then this ain't gonna happen, kiddo. Sorry. In the mean time we'll continue on with recorder using Enjoy The Recorder by the Scottish Composer, Brian Bonsor. His arrangements for even the earliest levels of recorder playing are always interesting, and we have enjoyed the many traditional folksongs included in these books. I'm learning along with Jemimah, and we have great fun playing duets together!

Our first composer for 2012 will be Edvard Grieg. We'll read the Sybil Deucher Biography, Boy of the Northland, as well as listen to the Classics for Kids radio shows. Apart from that we'll just listen to the music. What a hardship - 12 weeks of this!


Three folksongs, three short French folksongs, three Psalms, three French Psalms. Yet to be decided, basically.


Embroidery using Doodle Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners. Looks fun don't you think?


We'll be using a vastly simplified and slowed down version of Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology by Jeannie Fullbright. We'll leave out the busy work, but we'll read, narrate, and experiment from this book. In addition we'll be using Anne White's study guide to cover the second half of Kingsley's Madam How and Lady Why, a book that we began last year. This book is difficult, and I think the study guides will help us get alot more out of each lesson. Isaac Newton as a science biography, reading from Isaac Newton - Inventor, Scientist, and Teacher, by John Hudson Tiner. We'll do a few experiments from Physics Lab in a Housewares Store if we have time, but only because we love these books.

Having used Nuri Mass' Wonderland of Nature as a field guide for many years, next year we are going to read through it and do some of the activities from Homeschooling Downunder's Nature Journal. I purchased this, along with the copywork books that I mentioned above, before Jemimah started school. I know - sometimes I'm slow. Some other plans for Nature Study as well, but I will need to tell you about this after...that C word... because it might spoil a little girl's surprise if I talk about that now.

Kitchen Garden

We continue to grow, harvest and cook each Wednesday afternoon. We'll be using Cookery the Australian Way next year. How many of you grew up cooking from this old standard. It's a keeper.


I've been keen for a while now to try transitioning Jemimah into her own personal Quiet Time each morning and night as her father and I do, instead of having Devotions together at the start of the school day. It concerns me that she tends to think of this as a school lesson, rather than as a skill of everyday life, and I want her to value this time alone with God and his Word.

I'll write about this more in a separate post, but with this as our aim, next year we will be using the Child's Story Bible Reader published by The Board of Christian Education. This little book lays out a series of Bible readings in the mornings, and then in the evenings a story read from Catherine Vos' Child's Story Bible becomes a commentary on the child's reading for that day. There are activities to 'think and do' and verses to learn. Better still, the whole process should only take five minutes of so. I do not want this to become a burden.

While Jemimah consolidates these skills we will commence an afternoon tea read aloud together on the topic of practical religion, beginning with Mabel Hale's Beautiful Girlhood. Later we will look at some of Edith Schaeffer's books. Both Jemimah and I are excited about teatime.

We will continue memorising the Westminster Shorter Catechism in 2012. We're up to Q87 of 107. Twenty to go. We also revise five earlier questions a day. We'll also continue memorising Psalms and Scripture (in French and English), but I've not decided these yet. Revision of the Books of the Bible is the plan as well.

And that, I think, is that. Except for that reading list. Therein is another whole post. There you will find history and geography and literature. There also is where the need to Australianise is greatest, and I'm still working on that. Getting there though. I'll post our revised and Australianised booklist soon.

Am I done? What have I forgotten? Ah yes, poetry. Our Aussie-ised poetry rotation is here. Kipling as per the AO recommendation in first term using the AO selections from the website.

Anything else? PE.

Jazz and Tap again next year. Jemimah won a medal for Most Consistent Dancer at her end of year concert, so she is inspired!! Swimming lessons in first term, basketball, badminton and tennis with her friends from town. Bike riding and skiing with Daddy. A bit of horse riding. Some bush walks. Sounds heaps when written out like that, but PE is pretty relaxed around here. Call it 'socialisation' if you want. We aim for three hours of physical exercise a week.

And now we're off as a family to a CPR course. Jemimah included. You can never be too young to know how to save a life.

I'll try and post pics. If I can. This computer is driving me spare. That's why there are no pictures to accompany this long and boring post. Please try to imagine pictures of piles of books and kitchen gardens and Jemimah cooking and other interesting stuff like that. That's what would be there if I could get them there. Sigh.

Has anybody actually read this far, or am I typing to myself? At least I'm not being too controversial anyhow. Bye. I'm gone now.


  1. Hi Jeanne,

    Yes, I made it to the very end. It was not difficult for me to imagine piles of books and kitchen gardens and cooking to go along with it either!

    Our books have been arriving in dribs and drabs over the past month as well - this could very well be my favourite part of homeschooling.

    Love your plans and I look forward to reading more in the coming year! Happy 'C' word - and Happy Homeschooling. xo

  2. oops - ps that last comment was from me ...... Amy of Marigold Cottage. xo

  3. I read all the way to the bottom! Lol. I am a bit envious of your homeschool. Good job, Mum!

  4. I have only a sec before the cookies bake ... enough time to say that's a very impressive plan!

    Kind thoughts, Vanessa

  5. Fascinating! and of course you know I am looking forward to hearing more Aussie book chat.
    btw have you found my friend Jen's blog?

    lots of CM education there, I really think you would enjoy Jen.

  6. Thanks for sharing your plans. Sounds you've got everything well covered. I'm looking forward to our new school year starting in January too. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  7. I hadn't found Jen's blog, Erin. Thanks for pointing me there. It is marvellous!

  8. I made it too and would have happily continued reading for another few pages. You inspire me to new heights. Our new school books won't be arriving for a few more weeks...I was slow in ordering...so I'll be living vicariously through all of your book treats.

    New years are wonderful. New plans, new books, new ideas...love it all.

    Controversy? What controversy. Did I miss something juicy.

    You don't mean Christmas do you? Embrace it. Share your passion for it. I don't celebrate it...at least not in our home but we do join our family on the day so as not to divide and break the hearts of the grandparents...but I wouldn't want others to hide their passion for it. Spread your Christmas cheer, love and joy all over the place...let me tell you the people down at the shopping centres need it...and don't fret the non-Christmas folk. If both parties work on their different varieties of peace, love and joy we should be able to reach all corners and variety of folk.

    We may do things differently but our goals can be the same.

    Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy "insert your own joyous salutation in here"! Hehehe.


  9. Oh well, I missed all the controvesy too. We are being super weird this year [so weird in fact no~one is speaking to me in bloggity~land] but it really only affects us & I know how you love to celebrate Christmas so go for it & don't mind the rest of us.

    Some great books there! You will love sharing them. After 25 years, more or less, we have less than 12 months to go. It hardly seems possible. Star can't wait but I have been informed I am a necessary adjunct to travelling the world with a supa~nova. Ummmm....ok.

    Who informs the cats?

  10. Hi Jeanne, you are simply INSPIRING! What a fab schedule - sounds like 2012 will be a wonderful year for you both.
    Our own schedule for next year is slowly taking shape...amidst Christmas baking, house renos, birthday shopping,and preparing for a multitude of rellies who are due to arrive early in January. Phew! Where's the egg nog already? (WITH the rum in it!) :0
    I am about to order my booklist from book depository, after having sourced several of the books we need from local second hand book shops, or from Abe Books. Trouble is I keep sitting down to 'flip' through them and end up becoming engrossed! :)
    I hope to post our schedule on my blog SOON....which in reality means anytime between now and late January!

  11. Wow, that is a pretty impressive list...

  12. Hi Jeannie

    You are an inspiration. I love reading your words. Where do you have the time for everything?

    Life is full for us here in Canberra with numerous activities to participate in each week. It's a very social home education life.

    Have a happy Christmas! I love reading anything you say about it. We will be celebrating well and truly here with my Dad arriving tonight to join in the festivities.


  13. Okay, I say this every time but posts like these are one of my favourite things, it's so delicious, I'm almost drooling...lol, you do have that writers effect. Anyway, your AO5 year looks tremendous and brings fresh inspiration to my spirit for when I put our AO2 & AO4 schedule together. No joke but I have been using 'Cookery the Australian way' over the last month since I found it in one of the many boxes my Mother in law gave me of classic books! I LOVE IT! Thanks Jeanne for sharing, it's wonderful. xxx
    p.s I love that pen...I do have a secret infacuation with pens...and stationary.

  14. Wow, it sounds like a very full on year. With such variety.

    I must have missed the controversy as well. Where you sent nasty messages, if so, that isn't very nice at all.

    Enjoy the rest of the week:)

  15. Wow--your plans sound excellent. I'm finding your ideas/inspiration extra appropriate for us this year since our Crayons is the only one left at home and she's also doing Year 5. (Works both ways!)

    We use those same French folksong videos--Crayons loves them. Her favourite is Il pleut, il pleut, bergère. Glad to hear you like Mission Monde so far.

    I like the idea of a cartridge pen--I have a reluctant copyworker here, but maybe a special pen would help.

    And Grieg is a favourite here too!

  16. I loved reading about your plans for AO5, Jeanne. We are about one-third of the way through it ourselves. It's fun for me to see how different a specific year can look in different households, despite having the same foundation. May I heartily recommend _Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature_, by Linda Lear? I adored this book.

    Marry Christmas!

  17. Sounds like a good year. My kids (15 and 17) STILL love Mad Libs.....I hate to suggest this to a fellow Charlotte Mason lover, but maybe, just maybe for Julius Caesar try something like the "Shakespeare Can be Fun" series to introduce the story? I happen to really like this play, but if you're not into political happenings it can be tough sledding as you know! Just a thought.....Some many great books in your coming year!

  18. I love the idea of an old-fashioned ink pen!

    I did not notice any controversy (?) I love seeing Christmas in Australia.

  19. Sounds like an inspiring year coming up.I'm keen to hear what you think of the new french programme.

  20. Hi Jeanne,
    I came to see your thoughts about Simply Grammar, I've seen an opportunity of getting it for just five dollars and I am getting it, and I wanted to let you know that I finished Grammar Land and it was wonderful. I don't know how this book will be for children, at times it was a bit hard for me to keep up with the concept of getting points at the end, when the judge would present the students with a brief text and ask them to give the different parts of speech points... anyway, the humor is brilliant!


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