We're just back from a weekend away in Victoria's Spa Country at Hepburn Springs. Daddy was there for work, but Jemimah and I found plenty of things to keep us occupied during the day. and it was nice catching up with the families of his fellow conference-goers in the evenings. The children were treated to a fine buffet of 'yellow food' - our disparaging but amused name for chips, nuggets, battered fish and even yellow pasta carbonara and yellow coleslaw, before heading off to an evening of balloon animals and face painting amongst other delights, whilst the adults spent a pleasant evening sans kids. Nice.
It is hard to believe that tomorrow Jemimah and I begin our last week of AO6 Term 1. Where has the time gone? I am well aware that those of you who choose to follow our Australianisation of the AO curriculum are going to hate me when you read this term and discover what a poor effort we have made of documenting the term's work, and so I thought I would try to write a little of what we've used this term in order for you to be able to follow on a little bit anyhow. Sorry.
Part of the problem is that this year is the end of AO's first cycle through world history. Term 1 covers the period from WWII to the present day. Next term we start at the start again with ancient Greece and Rome. As a consequence, this term is totally unrelated to our plans for the rest of the year. I've been finalising my plans for that this past week, but it is the subject of an entirely separate post, so we won't talk too much about that now. This post, therefore, covers only Term 1.
So without further to do, let's leap into it, shall we? We'll begin with Language Arts.
We have been delighted with the Downunder Copywork that we commenced last year, and have continued with that this term, finishing off Book Two and beginning Book Three using the Manuscript Cursive style. Book Three introduces speed loops, and Jemimah really enjoys the elegant writing style. I love the literature selections in Book Three, including selections from Amy Mack, Eve Pownall, Ion Idriess and Ethel Turner as well as poetry by C J Dennis, Lawson and the Banjo. She continues to enjoy using a cartridge fountain pen for copywork, and I am pleased with her handwriting...when she tries!
We do narration after all readings. Twice a week, or sometimes only once when time runs away on us, she writes a narration. Jemimah enjoys doing creative narrations, and I have enjoyed reading what she comes up with. Probably her biggest problem with written narration is deciding what to write. She struggles with adequately summarising the information, and this is something we will work on in coming weeks.
Spelling continues to be Jemimah's weakest subject, although she is improving. We have taken a short break from Studied Dictation to re-learn some simple spelling rules using a cheap Australian book that I purchased from the newsagent. It's nice to have a break from dictation because Jemimah was really beginning to dread it, but we will pick it up again next term, since the value of this practice is far broader than just spelling practice. We've been doing a short lesson of spelling every day this term.
This term we've been working through Barron's Painless Junior Grammar, covering the parts of speech in an enjoyable way. Most of this grammar we do orally, with an occasional written exercise. Jemimah is not the only one who is learning from this book. My grammar knowledge is basically intuitive. Grammar was practically wiped from the Aussie curriculum in the 70s, and as a consequence I never studied it formally at school, and I am enjoying this study.
We continue to use MEP with great success. Jemimah finished MEP6a in Friday, so we move into 6b next term. You Go Girl!!
After looking at some of the timetables used by the PNEU schools I was interested to notice that in higher forms the different branches of mathematics were divided into separate lessons during the week. Class III, for example studied arithmetic, Euclid, mental arithmetic and Euclid repetition. I loved the way this allowed maths to be studied in depth without flaunting Mason's philosophy of short lessons. This led to me introducing a subject separate from MEP that we called Fractal Geometry. I was keen to be able to introduce Jemimah to this new and exciting area of mathematics, beginning with fractal art, but also covering some basic mathematical concepts as well. I'll save the details of this subject for a later post, save to say that our lessons creating pop-up fractals have been the highlight of this term.
After taking some time to work through the Minimus Latin Mini Books, we're back into Minimus Secondus this term. One of the biggest bonuses of learning Latin for us has been the extra grammar study, but we really enjoy this subject. We've interspersed the lessons with reading and Latin narration practice using the Mini Books for the Secondus course.
We're continuing to use Mission Monde this term with some success, but the highlight of French this term has been a twice weekly reading of The Avion my Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher. This unique book was a Newbery Honor recipient in 1947, so it's a pretty good story all about planes, spies, Nazis and France, but the amazing this about the book is that it starts out in English, but ends up by the last chapter entirely in French.
The French is taught as Johnny, the protagonist, learns it - word by word on a holiday in France. By the end Johnny, or Jean as he is called by then, writes a letter home entirely in French - and the reader can understand it. Jemimah has found this idea particularly cool, and she has learned not only significant vocabulary, but also many useful phrases and a lot about sentence construction. I thoroughly recommend this book if you can get hold of it at a reasonable price...which isn't the $80 asking price at Abe.
We continue to memorise Scripture in French from the d'Osterveld version as well as to learn and sing French Psalms. Currently we're learning Psaume 132 from Chantons au Seigneur by Eglise Réformée Evangélique Presbytérienne de Nantes, a member of our denomination, The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Brittany. We love learning to sing the metrical Psalms in French to familiar tunes.
Most terms we learn three folksongs in French, but this term we chose to learn Le Temps des Cerises in a version sung by Yves Montand. The original song was written in 1866 by Jean-Baptiste Clément, and is associated in some way with the Paris Commune. We follow along with the song using this book. We've really enjoyed learning a more adult classic song after many children's chansons, and will do a similar thing next term.
We also read and narrate French classic picture books as in previous terms.
We are excited to attend our first 2013 performance of the ballet next weekend with Rudolf Nureyev's version Don Quixote. We subscribe as a family to The Australian Ballet, and absolutely adore it. Highlights of this 2013 season include La Sylphide and Paquita, Graeme Murphy's Swan Lake and a new version of Prokofiev's Cinderella amongst others. So beautiful.
We continued our love affair with the bard with Shakespeare's Twelfth Night performed by Ozact in the Geelong Botanic Gardens in January. It was hilarious. We're also subscribing to Bell Shakespeare this year and will be seeing Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 over Easter. I'll be interested to see how Jemimah goes with a historic play. We've been reading aloud some of the famous scenes, and I think we're ready. Hope Falstaff is fun!!
This term we've also been watching Shakespeare Uncovered on iView. The first three episodes have raised a number of issues, and the discussion afterwards has been excellent. A BBC production, these docos have been really good, and we have enjoyed our weekly telly date as something a bit different. Previewing the episodes would be good to ensure that you're okay with your kids watching these films. So far Jemimah has been fine.
We also saw Cirque de Soleil's Ovo a couple of weeks ago. What an amazing production! Does this count as school? Why ever not!
Plutarch's Life of Fabius using Anne White's study guide in line with the AO rotation. Fabius is quite a likeable fella, and we felt a bit sad when he was sort of usurped by Scipio near the end of the story. Nicias next term.
Art and Picture Study
We're following the AO Picture Study rotation with Jacob van Ruisdael and Pieter de Hooch this term. Jemimah far prefers the latter artist. She is quite sure that van Ruisdael was depressed, and says his art leaves her feeling miserable. We have our art pieces professionally printed onto photographic paper and store them in our Book of Masterpieces. We love looking through its pages and reminiscing.
I've posted a couple of times about our success with ARTistic Pursuits. This term we've been using the Elementary Grades 4-6 Books, alternating one week of drawing and one week of the colour book. Jemimah found the all black and white book to constraining, and she much prefers the two books together. WE do art once a week and I read to her while she creates. Most satisfactory!
Music and Composer Study
We've dropped the ball with recorder this term. We might pick it up again next term. I hope so, because she was doing quite well, and I love the sound! A friend gifted us an old electronic keyboard when they purchased a piano for Christmas, so we might try piano lessons at some stage. We'll see how we go here.
Our composers were Elgar and Vaughan Williams using the selections recommended by AO for another year. Mostly we just listen to the works, and watch them performed on YouTube. Jemimah listens to the Classics for Kids radio programmes as well.
Phew. Is anyone still reading? Is this boring?
Three folksongs from England this term. One French folksong, three French Psalms, three Psalms. WE sing and aim to memorise.
We started cross-stitching, but that was put aside when Jemimah fell in love with Sculpy clay and started making pieces for dolls houses - mainly food and small articles. I'll show you some of her pieces in a separate post, but they are quite clever. I can't believe how incredibly detailed they are!
I guess we'll get back to cross-stitching eventually!
We're loving our science line-up this term. Secrets of the Universe is an extraordinary book for primary students teaching the Universal Laws of science. We have learned so much! Generally we take the opportunity to watch some YouTube videos about the topic each week, as well as doing some of the experiments. We've also added in The Mystery of the Periodic Table as a free read this term, and between the two books we've had a pretty good overview of the history of both physics and chemistry. We dropped School of the Woods in favour or the Australian Natural History book, Spotty the Bower-Bird and Other Stories. There are twelve chapters in the book - conveniently one per week!
We also left out It Couldn't Just Happen although I think it is an excellent apologetics text, because Jemimah did it in AO4 before the science changes. If you haven't done this book, please do. In its place we added in Australian Backyard Naturalist and did the activities. It was great. I love seeing books of this quality still being published.
We still have a few chapters left of Apologia's Exploring Creating with Anatomy by Jeannie Fulbright from last year. We've been reading slowly through this when we've has a bit of extra time, and watching the appropriate episodes of Once Upon a Time...Life on YouTube. I don't really think that these Apologia books qualify as 'Living', but read occasionally they are quite interesting. The videos are just fun, but they do help cement the facts.
Some people are critical of AO's science curriculum saying that it is light on, but I can't agree. This wonderful line-up of books combined with a casual nature walk at least once a week and some concentrated nature study once a week on a planned topic and the keeping of a nature notebook round the AO curriculum into a very comprehensive science curriculum. As a scientist, I am more than happy with what Jemimah is learning here. This term we've looked particularly at the cucurbits - the pumpkin, cucumber and zucchini plants growing in our kitchen garden. They are amazing when you look at them closely, and manually pollinating has given us extra produce as a bonus!
We continue to grow, harvest and cook on Wednesday afternoons. This term we've not surprisingly cooked the vegies mentioned above in lots of different dishes, as well as the wonderful figs, tomatoes and basil that have been so satisfyingly prolific. Scones, pikelets and patty cakes have also been on the menu.
Classical Ballet followed by Jazz and Tap on Mondays, Basketball on Tuesdays, Swimming on Saturdays. Yes, She's socialised. She also won her basketball grand final. She was very delighted, with good reason.
Jemimah continues to read from The Child's Story Bible Reader published by The Board of Christian Education in her private devotions each morning before school. The program uses Vos' Child's Story Bible as a commentary for the story read first from the Bible. We use the NIV. She writes a journal as well. I'm really happy with the way Jemimah has transitioned to doing her devotions by herself and removing them from 'school' as such.
This year we've also been reading together Starr Meade's Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, a devotional based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism with Scripture proofs. We've been memorising the Catechism since Jemimah was two and she's almost finished. This book helps her to understand the meaning behind the words. Memorising words you don't understand is pretty pointless really! The study only takes a few minutes each morning, and we take the opportunity to cycle through some catechism Q&As at the same time.
Once every couple of weeks we have afternoon tea and read something on Practical Religion. This term we've been finishing off Beautiful Girlhood by Mabel Hale. It is a lovely time together.
What else? We did an advanced CPR update as a family - highly recommended. We read Robert Frost's poetry. We read lots of books. Jemimah did some horse riding and went on evening bike rides with Daddy two or three times a week. She did a Lego robotics course, and did two weeks of intensive daily swimming. We ate out lots. We had fun with friends. We spent some weekends away.
Term 1 has been a wonderful term, but then again, most AO terms are very fine. Right now I'm excited about next term - Ben Hur, The Iliad, some Tolkien. I can't wait until Easter is over and we can get started. Jemimah would prefer a break though. :)
I'm sorry this has been a long and boring post. For those of you who have suffered to the end I thank you. I do hope it is helpful to some of you. I'll try and review the Aussie books we've read even though we're onto a new time period. Some years it's easy to find time to blog regularly; this year not so much. Who knows what a new term will bring!!
Okay. I'm finished now. I'm going to press Publish. Here goes...