Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Second Grade Exams, Ambleside Online Term 2

OK, so I haven't been keeping up with the weekly updates. We are now (obviously!) far beyond week 15. Here are Caiden's term 2 exams. I have never been able to video them and get the editing and all my hard work to save and post properly, so I did it the easy way this time. I was the secretary, these are his answers. 

These are selections from the things we have been learning about for the last 12 weeks. I get my exams, like the rest of our curriculum, from Ambleside Online. I may or may not post videos of him doing recitations of poetry and verses later. :) 

Ambleside Online

Caiden Snyder
Second Grade, Term 2 Exam

Bible: Tell how Haman's evil plot was stopped
Mordecai, he was a good man and he was in one of the king's books about the best people that did good deeds, and he was in there. Mordecai was in there. But Haman wanted to kill him, hang him on a gallows about, what, fifteen feet tall or something! And then the king, he was like “What do you think I should make my favorite person?” And then, he (Haman) was like, (cause he thought it was him) and he said lots of really really cool things. And then when it was given to the other guy he was really mad about that and then he got hanged on his own gallows.

History: What do you know about Richard the Lion Hearted?
King Richard the Lionhearted traveled in lots of crusades. And one of the crusades to get some people back for taking the Holy Land, and then when they got there only... they went with 4,000 people but they didn't get there with very many cause it was such a long trip. And on the way back he got... he had to go through a town and he dressed up himself like he was poor and then one of them saw his gloves and he was like, “You stole gloves from the king?” And he was like no, I am King Richard. And then they went to the castle and they put him in a tall dungeon and he was not murdered there like most people were. And he was sent from castle to castle and he finally got let free. And then he finally went back. The end!

Science: Flitter the Bat
Flitter the Bat, he likes hiding in the... he likes hiding down in like, dark places to get away from the sun cause he does not like sun. And he will eat little bugs like wasps and bees or anything else he can get. His coat is black and you most likely will find him in caves. It doesn't fly like birds, it flies much faster and it does not glide.

Literature: Tell what you know about the Hill of Difficulty in Pilgrim's Progress
He was at the bottom and as he walked he fell asleep. Under a tree he fell asleep. And after that when he woke up he lost his scroll and then he walked on cause at first he didn't know that, and then, and he turned around after he figured out that he lost it and he went back and then he went back up and at the top of the hill there were two lions and he was afraid of them but a man told him not to be afraid of them but he didn't see their chains case they were chained up. And he asked to go in the house to spend the night and the other dude he said, (and this dude's name is Christian) then he yelled to a girl. The End. More to come.

Geaography: Tell about Greenland
It's very cold and even at summer time its a pain to grow anything cause its so cold and in the winter its even worse. There's vikings that discovered it and they decided to call it Greenland, I have no idea why. And their great-great- great-grandsons were like the Duke of Normandy and stuff. And the Blue-Tooth dude. Not much lives there cause they cant find much to eat. But there's like seabirds and stuff ….so the vikings they didn't stay there for long cause they didn't like it at all. The end about Greenland.

Science: Tell about a bird or a tree you have studied this winter.
American Coot
We were at Confluence park and we saw American Coots and they were not at all like ducks are, or geese, cause they didn't have webbed feet. They didn't have bills like ducks they have beaks. And so I think they got like, little tough stuff in the water like little minnows or something and they need a beak to like spear them like herons or something. They are black and their babies are red and white and black. And so I'm probably guessing that they were on land more then in water but hey still lived really close to the water and one time we saw a whole lot of them just going into the water.... and they really use a sort of, the only way they eat is by, they eat like ducks putting their heads underwater and pecking stuff under the water. Or else they eat grain and they have to use their sharp beaks to get up pebbles to help grind the food up. And they are a lot like birds that do not live near the water. The end.

Composer: Tell something you know about Tchaikovsky
He's a really good music player, cause he is a music player. Well his music is ballet music. He started by a piano, a piano class, and eventually he ordered a top secret music thing for a ballet called The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. And so he wanted to get that instrument by secret so no one would use it. (He is talking about an armonica, which that song was composed on. )

Literature: What was your favorite part of The Wind in the Willows?
The Mole and the Rat. Once they found the mole's house and they stayed in it. They were walking so they could try to find the rat's house. And then the mole remembered that he had left his house. So he told Rat all about that. And the rat remembered that and so he tried to look for it with him. And they found it, they found the mole's house! And then they went into it and some singer people came and they asked to eat with them. And they let them in. So they had a good day. And then they went to sleep. And then they woke up the next morning and they had a good day at the moles house. And they had a good breakfast. The End.

Artist study: Describe your favorite picture from Degas
It was a dance place and they were just learning, it was like a class, they were doing a class. There was a dude talking and telling them what to do, and there was people standing around and there was a door int eh back of the picture and they were just coming on or leaving. It was a bright day and they were near a window and it looks like their mothers and their fathers were there, well some of them, and it looked like they were just performing for their dad and mom. And the old man had a staff and was talking to them through the microphone.

Geography/science: Tell why the sun seems to move
Because we go around it. It stays in one place but we go around it. We orbit it, actually. Sometimes the moon and the sun, the moon arises too early and it gets over it. It's really rare and it's an eclipse.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up, Week Fourteen ~ Some About Math

Math is continuing to improve for both children. Caiden is getting faster and more focused with his daily lessons, which means school is much less frustrating for him. Hailey is working on memorizing the multiplication tables by filling out a table daily. They are both working on learning to count by 3s and 4s right now, and we will move on to 6, 7, and 8 later. They already know how to count by the easy ones, 2, 5 and 10. They don't know how much this will help their multiplication and division!

Daily Math

The children have both finished up their daily math books, which means it is time for me to make some more. These books have the same pages which they fill in every day, practicing important concepts with different numbers. I pick what they are needing to work on currently, and incorporate it into the book.

Caiden's had a place to write a daily number, and most of the work was done with that. He has been writing the number in words, in numerals, in expanded form, and separating it out into expanded form.  He also adds and subtracts 1, 10, and 100 from the number. There is a section for writing the date, the day of the week, his name, and also a place to record temperature and time. He did this all every day.

Hailey's book was a little different. She still had a daily number, but she wrote hers in Roman numerals, and did some different equations with it, including multiplying and dividing by 2, and multiplying by 10 and 100.  She also recorded the temperature and time, and had a place for creating a word problem and drawing a picture for it.


The second thing the children do for math every day is drills. Hailey is working on memorizing the times tables. Her favorite way to do this is to fill out a table as far as she knows every day. Silly girl! But she is getting better and better!

Caiden is working on memorizing addition facts. Although he is good with addition, and pretty fast, I still have him working on it. I am gradually introducing the 'tricks' for some of the numbers, and this week he has been learning to quickly add nines.

Life of Fred

Both of the children are working their way through the elementary books in the Life of Fred series. There are 10 books in the main set with 3 additional books available for more learning before middle school. I have divided the books up, so that they will read a chapter or two a week, and then have activities corresponding to it on the other days. In that way I am using the books as a sort of spine.... it is the guide, but it isn't the only thing that we do.

On the off days, I use pages or kits from one of the many activity and workbooks I have bought from Scholastic over the last few years. I frequent their "one dollar day" sales, and love the fact that e-books are so simple to use with a printer. Hailey especially enjoys just using workbooks, and I have 3 or 4 that I use regularly for practice. Abby seems to be following in her footsteps and often asks to 'do math!' in her workbook.

In this way we have at least 3 different math things that we do each day. This helps us keep our lessons short, while still getting in lots of practice. The children seem to really enjoy having shorter lessons with more variety, and I am reassured that they are learning a lot of different concepts.

I still haven't figured out how to post the children's videos on here yet. They won't transfer into a new file format.... I really wish I could get them uploaded so if anyone has any advice I would appreciate it!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up, Week Thirteen (a bit about geography)

Oops! I just realized this never posted! Better late then never, I suppose?  

 The children have finished up their first term of school this year, which means....

Exam time! 

The kiddos love their exams, and it is just a fun chance to show off what they have learned. Because I have been recording their exams on videos, I decided to just post them on here. I have to edit them, and put the clips together, because I am slightly fanatic about things like that. But It is so fun to have the finished product, with their hard work displayed!   And usually lots of silliness, too. I have gotten Hailey's video nearly done and will post it this week sometime.


Today I want to talk about geography. The children have various geography books they use, as well as learning about the world through teaching lessons, most of which happen outside. However, I really wanted to kiddos to have more factual knowledge of the world, specifically, where these places are that they keep hearing about in their books.

I was wondering how to make the map and locations more real to them. I started chatting about mapwork, a very Charlotte Mason idea which I wasn't really confident on how to implement, on the Ambleside Online forum. I decided to steal an idea from one of the helpful ladies there, and so far it has been working better then I ever imagined.

Basically, every so often the children draw a new map from scratch. This is a huge change from what I was doing before, when I had them add things to an outline map I printed for them. They weren't really remembering much about their mapwork using outline maps, so I switched to having them draw them for themselves. Hailey's first map was a little difficult, as she was certain she wasn't able to do it. Since then, they have just gotten better and better. She has drawn 3 or 4 maps, starting with Italy and the Mediterranean.

Drawing the area around the Mediterranean Sea, from her book of Marco Polo.

And more...

In other news, Hailey has finished up learning about the Tudor era. She was fascinated with all of the various characters, and really connected with this period.  The Tudor family is such a cast of conflicting, ambitious, tragic, and selfish characters. They all seem like something more out of a television show then real life! Her favorite of the Tudors was Queen Elizabeth, so I am glad that our biography of her will continue on through the rest of the term. She wasn't ready to be done with them!

Caiden has taken up a new hobby of his own accord. He is collecting, categorizing, and identifying rocks. He has several that he is searching for, among them sulfur, and any crystals he can find. He has happily found a few small geodes, and they are among his treasures. He spends a lot of time outside, with a small hammer and bucket, and his rock books, searching for different specimens. His new must-have item is a rock pick!

Friday, October 25, 2013

The "Gap" Myth

The gap myth is the idea that a complete, thorough education has no gaps.... that is, the child knows everything they need to know, everything they "should" know, to continue on and succeed in life. There is some kind of idea that children given a quality education will have attained a certain level of learning-  he is standing on a platform of knowledge that he has reached through his education. The result of a high-quality education, the foundation of the platform is a solid stack of concrete blocks, supporting the mystical achievement. 

As the example would hold, a low-quality education is full of gaps, thus, many of the required blocks are missing from that platform called '5th grade", "12 grade", "bachelor's degree", or whatever platform that particular person has reached. When released into the 'real world', the foundation of the platform will crumble, revealing to the world the 'gaps' in his education. This is an example of the gap myth. 

While in theory this may sound good, it is in fact nothing more then a myth. This idea that out there somewhere, the 'professionals' (in some high-ranking government agency, of course). have a closely guarded secret list, with all of those needed blocks on it, is a myth. Although our government is trying harder and harder to create a "national standardized" program for schools, the gap is still just as much a myth as ever. 


Answer # 1: Why is the gap theory a myth? The biggest reason that the theory is a myth, is that it is simply impossible to know everything that needs to be known. The whole vast knowledge of the world cannot be taught to any one person. Although when it's put that way, it seems pretty silly, that is basically what the 'gap' theory is all about. "But what if he has gaps in his education?" He does, he will, and we all do. That is the simple truth. 

Answer #2: The second, almost-as-good answer to the gap question, is the diversity of people (and tasks) in the world. How can you say your child will have no gaps in his education, if you do not know what he will need to know? That mystical, all-encompassing list of a successful education does not exist, nor will it ever. What I need to know is different from what you need. Street sense is no more or less valuable then calculus, and that is no more valuable then Greek history or the ability to shear a sheep.

Can you name, without looking it up, 10 indigenous evergreen trees of the United States, and give me their family groups, scientific names, and locations?  Can you tell me offhand which medicine should be given as a painkiller to a 10 month old child that weighs 25 lbs and has a broken leg? Do you know how to draft the blueprints for a 3-story, 4 acre warehouse designed for climate-controlled food storage? Most likely, you don't need to know how to do these things. But someone does.  

It is impossible to know what your child will need to know to succeed in life. Not only because you don't know what life will bring him, but also because we live in a vastly changing world. The fact is, the tools and technology your child may be using in 20 years probably hasn't even been invented yet! So the child is destined to have gaps, because life will constantly be bringing him new things to learn. 

Answer #3: Is there not learning after school? As we saw above, no one is 'ready for the real world' upon attaining some magical, mystical platform of education. So that raises the question, when is one ready? After high-school? After college? Or maybe, is the idea of the 'real world' the true fallacy. 

In fact, children are living in the real world upon the moment of their birth. All of life is the real world. What one needs in order to 'live in the real world' is, as well, a myth. If you are not a hermit, if you don't keep your children locked up in your basement, if you go to soccer practice, grocery shopping, and church, that IS the real world, and they are already in it. They are not any more or less PEOPLE then the adults around them, therefor they are already in the real world. They learn as they go, and they will continue to do so. 

So what is the real answer? 

I think there are two different things people are talking about when the bring of the gap fear. They are very different, and in their own way, very valid concerns. But neither is truly expressed realistically using the gap question. 

What do they NEED to know?


Are they ready for the next grade? 

Those are two very different questions. And when they are put that way, it is easy to come to much better, carefully-thought through, realistic answers. Like everything in life, we are much closer to a solution when we know what the question is. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Second Grade Narrations

I was typing up Caiden's narration last week, when I noticed I had a few I hadn't posted yet. They really try hard to do their best when they know some of them will be 'published' for grandparents and other people to read.

Here is Caiden's narration on the Battle of Hastings (one of the most important battles in Western history):

The Story of a Pirate's Great Grandson
The Vikings sailed to one part of France and they stayed there for awhile, until one person wanted to take over England. So he could have the good land. And also there was lots of cattle and stuff like that. Then they really liked that land so he told this one man (Harold) that was going to be king of England next, that he was going to swear that he was going to make him king once he was going to be put king.

Then Harold broke his swear. And then William the Conqueror gathered an army and he went to take over the land. He started taking over! They made it seem like they were running away like they were scared, and when the English chased after them, they quickly came around and killed them. And they shot Harold King of England through the eye and he fell dead.

A few days before, the battle of Stamford Bridge was fought with his brother.

The End.  

Here is the story of Gilbert and Rohesia, the parents of Thomas a Becket, the king's chancellor.

 The Story of Gilbert and Rohesia
First there was a boy who got trapped away in a horrible dungeon. Except for a girl, Rohesia, met him before he got trapped away in the dungeon. The little girl came to him every night cause she and he were in love. But then one night she was breathing very fast and she had the key to let him free and she said, "I came to set you free!”

And he could hardly believe it. But then it was true cause she unlocked him and he was free! The man went to London where he was born and except for he forgot his promise. He promised that he would go there and then come back after he was done doing some things. But then she went to England where he was and all she said was his name, cause all she knew was “London” and his name. But then she finally found him. Then they lived happily ever after, and they had a son which was named Thomas a Becket and he was the king's adviser. Some people thought that it was just a fairy tale. But I don't think its a fairy tale.

Caiden Snyder, second grade
From Our Island Story, 9/16/13

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Weekly Wrap Up, Week Eleven

Wow, where did the last few weeks go? I think I missed a few... there were so changed dates around their visitation with their dad, so we had to re-schedule some of their school. We got it all figured out, but I didn't get much blogging done. (Ok, lets be honest. I didn't get any blogging done. :) )

Week eleven already, next week is the last week of Term One! We are 1/3 of the way through this school year. And we are right on schedule. Thankfully, even through all the changes the last few months, we have stayed right on track.

Next week, the children will be finishing up a few books that are used only in the first term, and getting ready to start some new ones. Hailey will be finishing her biographies of Galileo and Michelangelo and starting new ones. She will also be finishing her literature book, The Princess and the Goblin. Caiden's literature book, Understood Betsy, will be finished up too. It is one of my absolute favorites, and I am glad I will get to read it aloud 2 more times in the next few years!

Hailey's narrations are getting exponentially better, and she is starting to narrate in a story-like form, instead of conversationally. Next year we will probably begin working toward written narrations, a huge, difficult step. Caiden has been doing better at his math. He has great math skills, he just doesn't enjoy the writing. Doing a daily math page everyday has helped him focus, stick to it, and push through.

The pictures are from our drive through the mountains. First, we waited in traffic for what ended up to be the filming of The Fast and the Furious number whatever-one-is-next. :) That was pretty cool for the kids to see. 

Later, we stopped and spent some time gathering "fairy hats" from the scrub oak and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. For the uninformed, fairy hats are the tops of the tiny acorns with grow on these bushes. The critters eat the nuts, and leave the tops hanging. The children gathered a bunch and hailey made a fairy trap with them when she got home. So far, no fairies have been caught. We think its because the trap wasn't secure enough and they escaped. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Narration on Bloody Queen Mary

Hailey did this narration about Bloody Mary, probably the most infamous queen in England's history. Mary was the oldest daughter of the also-infamous Henry VIII. During Mary's reign, she slaughtered more then 300 protestant Christians, imprisoned and executed many people for perceived treason, and kept her younger sister in the Tower of London, one of the most horrible prisons imagined.

Hailey has learned about the story of Queen Mary's life for several weeks, and in her narration she asked to do it all as one piece, and she told me to add the subtitles so that it is divided up pretty much as she read about them. Next week, we will be learning about the magnificent reign of Mary's little sister, who became queen after her death, and changed much about life in England during the Renaissance. This is the story of the family Tudor family. (There is on fact in here that Hailey has stated incorrectly, and that is that Lady Jane Grey was the 'rightful' heir of the throne. Opinions differ on that matter. :) )

Bloody Mary

Lady Jane Grey was the queen that was rightfully an heir. And then Mary started a rebellion to be queen. She got lots of people that wanted her to be queen, and they took over Lady Jane Grey, and she was very glad about that because she didn't really want to be queen. And so were the people.

At first.

And then Mary was so happy that she became queen that she was very nice to the people. And I say again, at first. But then suddenly she started being mean to the people once she felt that she was securely on the throne for good. And that nobody would take her away.
And then she started executing people, and then she executed Lady Jane Gray and her husband. As you can hear already, she was a very bad queen.

And then how she locked up the princess.
The princess was very ill. And Queen Mary decided to send men to the princess's house, I think it was three of them. And the men went to the house and the nurse came in a said, “people would like to speak to you.”

And she said, “tell them to come tomorrow, it is very late at night and I am very ill.”

And then her nurse said, “they said they are from the queen, you must come now.”

And she said, “tell them to come in.”

And they went in. And they said, “you must come with us now.”
She said, “wait till he morning.” So they did. And then they were off. To the Tower! And she had heard of many people who came to the Tower who had never come out alive.

And the princess was long in the Tower for many longtime. And every one was taken away but there was a little boy who always came and brought her flowers every morning. And then even he was taken away. Then she said, “I would rather be a peasant and be free then be a princess locked away in the horrible Tower.”

And then her wish came true. They let her go to a poor peasant's house and she was under house arrest.

How a candle was lit and never put out.
Bloody Mary got a husband and then when the husband came in everyone was not happy but they acted like they were happy. Now that Bloody Mary had her husband she decided to make the pope again the ruler of the church, and she thought it was a cruel thing of Henry VIII to fight with the pope. She tried to make very many people obey her and the pope. But they wouldn't give up their religion that easily, even though they had hated Henry VIII. Everyone that tried to go against her got put in prison and executed the very worst way- being burned alive. And life was horrible for the people.

As two people were being walked in to be executed they said, “there shall be a candle ever lit and it shall never be put out”, and even to this day it is still shining in a way.

And then her husband went away and she was very sad. And he only returned to get money to fight. And then part of the land that Mary rules was taken away and she was very sad. And she said, "when I die let the name of the land be on my heart." And that same year she (very happily) died, and the princess became queen.  

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