Year 1, Term 1 Exam Week

We wrapped up the first of our three terms in Year 1 with an Exam Week. Rather than reading new chapters in our books, we spent the week reviewing what we’d learned up to this point. I explained our exam week to James like this: “We’re going to take some time this week to think back on stories, poems, and pictures we’ve read and studied over the past couple months. This will help you see how much you’ve learned already, it will help you remember things for a long time, and it will help me know what things need to be adjusted in our home school.”

I was a little nervous that James might not remember many details, especially from stories read early in the term. And while there were some sighs of frustration over the difficulty of remembering things from long ago, overall the exam week went well.

Here are a few highlights.

Bible
We read stories from the Old Testament this past term: the creation of the world, the fall into sin, the story of Noah and the ark, Moses and the burning bush, the entry into Canaan, and a few stories from the book of Judges.

Tell your favourite Bible story so far.
James: Samson was a very strong man. And he had big muscles… just like Mr. N. (our weight-lifting neighbour). And then he went down to the Philistines. And he saw a lady there and he wanted her as his wife. He went back to his mom and dad and said, “Get me that girl.” And they said, “No, no, no. That’s one of the uncircumcised or unbaptized Philistine’s daughters.” They said, “Fine we’ll go.” And so they went. Though it was because the Lord had a plan. And then they said, “Here’s the girl that you wanted.” And then he married her. And he killed a lion and ripped it open with his bare hands. Then when he turned, it was full of bees and there was honey. And so then he went to the Philistines and said, “Here’s a riddle. Out of the eater comes something to eat. Out of the strong comes something sweet. I will give you three days to answer it, and if you cannot answer it in those three days, you shall give me thirty royal garments, though if you can answer it I will give you thirty royal garments.” Then they said to his wife, “Tell us the answer to the riddle, or we will burn you with fire!” Though she did not know it. And she said, “I don’t know it.” Then she implored her husband to tell her what the riddle was, and he said, “Fine, it’s a lion and some honey.” And she told the people, “Oh it’s some honey and a lion, but don’t tell Samson!” And then she said, “Alright, there, I’ve told you the answer to the riddle.” And then Samson went back to them and they said, “Out of the eater comes something to eat – that’s honey. Out of the strong comes something sweet – strong, that’s the lion.” And then he went back in hot anger and said, “If you had not plowed at my field, you would not have gotten the answer.” And what do you think that means? And that means, if you had not made some plan against my wife you wouldn’t have found out the answer. He went back to a place where he killed thirty men and took their garments. The end.

Literature
We read many of Aesop’s fables, some delightful fairy tales, and several of Kipling’s Just-So Stories about how animals came to look as they do. We also read a few stories from Parables of Nature (as the title suggests, these stories are parables from the animal world) and two retellings of Shakespeare plays.

What kind of stories did Aesop write? Tell me your favorite Aesop’s fable, including your understanding of the moral.
James: Fables. Once in a dry spot where the birds could find very little to eat, a crow found a pitcher of water. He tried and tried and tried and tried to get the water, but he could not. Then he had an idea. He got some stones and put them in one by one and then when the water got higher he was able to have a drink. I don’t remember what the moral was.

Tell me one of the fairy tales we read this term.
James: The one about the prince and how he turned into a beast, with a snake’s body, wolf’s legs, boar’s chest, and lion’s head. There was this prince, his dad had died, he wasn’t very good after the fairy told him to be, she gave him a ring that pricked his finger every time he was bad and sometimes his finger would bleed. And then he was really angry at this girl, and then he went to the chamber where she was locked but she wasn’t there, and then he turned in fury on his tutor. And then he ordered him to be brought before him in chains like a criminal. Though he wasn’t. And then he turned into a beast when he went into the forest, and he was caught, and his tutor was the king for a little bit, and then he said, “I’ve got the crown but it’s not to rule it’s only to give it back to the prince when he’s back.” The beast was furious. He turned into a dog, and then into a dove, and then he was his proper self again.

History
We have been learning about British history and have been reading through 50 Famous Stories Retold and Our Island Story.

Tell the story of William Tell, or tell me what you remember about Cornelia’s Jewels.
James: Once there was a man, and he was very good at archery. And one day the emperor thought of cruel plan. He hung up his cap and made everyone bow down before it. Though William would not bow down to it. Then the emperor thought of a cruel plan against his son. He ordered that the son should stand in the middle of the square with an apple on his hat, and that William Tell would have to shoot the apple off his head with one shot, or the emperor would kill him. And he shot, and the son stood perfectly still and the apple came flying right off his head. And there was one more arrow sticking out from under his coat and the emperor asked, “What was that second arrow for?” And William Tell said, “That one was for your heart, if I had hurt my son.” And he went home and lived a long and happy life.

Natural History
We’ve all been enjoying the delightful stories found in the Burgess Bird Book; apparently June has been paying close attention to these stories, too, as she jumped in with a forgotten detail when both James and I were trying to remember how a story had ended. We’ve also regularly read from Paddle to the Sea and we’ve read a few stories from James Herriot’s treasury.

What is your favourite bird we have read about so far from the Burgess Bird Book? Tell me all you can about it. Or, tell about the bully in the old orchard.
James: I’m definitely going to tell about the bully! He always, always fights! And then he was living in Jenny Wren’s house, he had stolen her house. Yeah! Is that right? And then Jenny Wren and Mr. Wren were going, “Tut tut tut tut!” They were scolding him with all their might. And then Mrs. Bully was sitting in Jenny’s front door encouraging her husband! And in the end they were both driven out.
Me: No, they weren’t driven out of Jenny’s home…
James: They weren’t? What happened again?
Me: Uh…
June: Remember, the cat came wandering by and broke up the fight!

Math
I chose a few addition questions from James’s worksheets, and a simple word problem. James answered the questions quite easily. We also played several math games together over the course of the week.

Copywork
I had James neatly copy his full name and the names of all his family members, as well as a line that read, “How the leopard got his spots.” His work was not as neat as it could have been, but he did get it done promptly and without complaining.

Picture Study
Choose one of Peter Paul Ruben’s paintings that we’ve studied this term and describe it as well as you can.
James: Well, I choose to describe St. George and the Dragon. It was my favourite painting, even better than The Fall of Phaeton. So, St. George is on a horse and there is a lady by his side, and he has just run the cross into the mouth of the dragon and then “Arrrrgh!” There is a lady by him standing with a lamb by her, and the knight has all sorts of royal garments that are red and gold and red. And he has got some white stuff streaming out from behind his helmet. And the horse is like, “ooooh!” and his front legs are up in the air and he’s standing on his hind legs and he looks like he’s fighting fiercely. And the knight has his sword way up in the air. And the lady standing there looks like she really wants her knight to win! And that’s the end, the end.
Alice: St. George wearing flip-flops! (Haha, he is wearing sandals!)

Poetry
Recite a poem you have memorized this term.
James learned several poems this term, and he chose to recite, “Bad King John” by Eleanor Farjeon. It’s from a lovely little book called Kings and Queens that is full of jaunty poems about the various kings and queens of England. James had randomly asked me to read one of those poems one day, and it immediately grabbed his attention. He memorized it on his own.

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BAD KING JOHN by Eleanor Farjeon
John, John, bad King John
Shamed the throne that he sat on;
Not a scruple, not a straw,
Cared this monarch for the law;
Promises he daily broke;
None could trust a word he spoke;
So the Barons brought a Deed
Down to rushy Runnymede.
Magna Carta was it hight,
Charter of the People’s Right,
Framed and fashioned to correct
Kings who act with disrespect –
And with stern and solemn air,
Pointing to the parchment there,
“Sign! Sign! Sign!” they said
“Sign, King John, or resign instead!”

John, John, turning pale,
Ground his teeth and bit his nail;
Chewed his long moustache; and then
Ground and bit and chewed again.
“Plague upon the People!” he
Muttered, “What are they to me?
Plague upon the Barons, too!”
(Here he had another chew,)
But the Barons, standing by,
Eyed him with a baleful eye;
Not a finger did they lift;
Not an eyelash did they shift;
But with one tremendous roar,
Even louder than before,
“Sign! Sign! Sign!” they said,
“SIGN, KING JOHN, OR RESIGN INSTEAD!”

(And King John signed.)

Closing Thoughts
There are some things that we need to work on: regular nature walks and nature journaling, listening to classical music, systematically working our way through the Baltimore Catechism, and getting into a good routine with our chores. I’m hoping the nature walks and chores will fall into place once we’re living closer to Jeremy’s work, and I have regular access to a vehicle and a dishwasher! 🙂

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June’s 4th Birthday

Four years ago, our little June Adelle was born! Her birth was fast, but oh-so-intense, and she’s got a lot of that same intensity in her personality! She’s also so fun, loves to laugh, and loves to be goofy. We love her so much!

June as a newborn:

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During her chunky, teething stage. She was born with a little sparkle in her eye, and I love seeing it in so many photos of her!

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Our little sunshine:

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June’s 2nd birthday, in Hamilton:

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June’s 3rd birthday, in Fruitvale:

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One of my favourite pictures of her:

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And her fourth birthday, in West Kelowna:

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June’s 4th Birthday Interview

Mom: How old are you today, sweetheart?
June: Three! I mean, four!

Mom: And what sorts of things can you do now that you’re four?
June: Well, I can probably climb, and jump, and play with Josefina (her new doll), and put on clothes. And, are my feet big, mom?
Mom: Haha, they’re getting bigger, but they’re not as big as mine yet!

Mom: What are some things you enjoy doing?
June: Colouring, eating, and playing outside, and climbing trees, and swinging on the swing, and eating stuff in our den for pretend, and I really like looking at books. And I really like making branches and doors, and looking at doors, and playing in the snow when it’s wintertime, and HAVING BIRTHDAYS!!!
Mom: Oh, fun! Anything else you enjoy?
June: No, just birthdays.

Mom: Tell me a little bit about your sister, Alice.
June: She likes coming outside and playing in the snow with us, and she really likes jumping, too. Mom, this is what Alice does, I’m going to do something that Alice does (climbs onto the piano bench and then carefully climbs down like Alice does). And she really likes warming up in the blanket, and she really likes looking at toys and playing with toys, and she really likes looking at pictures and colouring, and eating stuff in our den, too.

Mom: Tell me a little bit about James.
June: He really likes playing warriors, and reading books to me – like readers, and Owl and the Strange Bumps and How Owl Let The Snow In. And he reads Frog and Toad, and Frog and Toad and the Lost Button, and he really likes reading books. And he likes playing with Josefina, too.
James: No, I don’t!

Mom: What do you and I do together?
June: We read books. And we go to the Mom and Tots group. And we put on bathrobes – I put on a bathrobe, and you put on a bathrobe, after sleeping. And we go to bed late!

Mom: What are some things that you and dad do together?
June: Dad likes looking at [videos of] how pants are made, and how pillows are made, and this is a new one that I made up – how shirts are made! (Jeremy and June were watching some How It’s Made videos on YouTube the other day.)

Mom: What makes you happy?
June: Birthdays!
Mom: Ah, yes. What else?
June: Nothing, only you guys.

Mom: What is something scary?
June: That James is making monsters and showing them to me!!! (James had been drawing pictures of beasts and monsters around Halloween.)

Mom: What are you really good at?
June: Spying, like I said at the Mom and Tots group, “I spy with my little eye something that has glass and has windows! And it was a door!” My eyes are really keen!

Mom: And what do you want to do for a job when you grow up?
June: Flying airplanes, and making remote control stuff, and making airplanes. That’s what I like. I do. And I don’t know any other things.

Mom: What is your favourite song?
June, chanting: I love the Lord, the fount of life and grace / He heard my voice my cry and supplication / Inclined his ear, gave strength and consolation / In life and death, my heart will seek his face.

Mom: What stories do you enjoy hearing about?
June: Sleeping Beauty!
Mom: And why do you like that story?
June: Because I like it when she is cursed.
Mom: Oh, that’s a surprise! What other part of the story do you like?
June: Just that part.

Mom: And what is your favourite poem?
James: John, John, Bad King John. And I like it when he’s bad!

Mom: What is something new you’d like to try?
June: Josefina’s clothes on!

Mom: What do you think about before you fall asleep?
June: God. And when you’re at work, I think about you and pray for you that you wouldn’t have car smashes.

Mom: What do you love about God?
June: That He is great! That’s all I know

* * * *

Past birthday posts:
June’s 3rd Birthday Interview
June’s 2nd Birthday
June’s 1st Birthday

Nature Journaling

I’m starting a blog post mini-series on what homeschooling looks like in our home. I hope this gives you a bit of an idea of how our days are spent, and how delightful learning at home can be!

Today we spent  much of the afternoon working on our nature journals. We’ve been reading the Burgess Bird Book for Children for the Natural History component of Year 1 and it has been a great delight. What I’ve appreciated the most about this book is how it makes us pay attention to the habits of birds – do they fly smoothly, or do they fly in a way that makes them look like a rabbit hopping through the sky? Are they neat and tidy, or messy homemakers? Why do some woodpeckers spend so much time on the ground instead of in trees?

This afternoon James painted a picture of a red-headed woodpecker.

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And June coloured a picture of a red-headed woodpecker. (She goes for colourful rather than accurate in her pictures and it drives her brother crazy!!)

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And I painted a picture of a northern flicker. James pointed one out to me the other day – it landed on the Douglas fir tree right next to the patio and we admired it with wide eyes (it’s quite lovely with that startling red bit on the back of its head!) for a few seconds before it noticed us and flew off. I don’t have an original bone in my body when it comes to art, so I focus on copying paintings or photographs found online. It’s working well so far.

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Life Lately

We returned home this past Monday from a most enjoyable weekend in the Fraser Valley celebrating Thanksgiving Day with our families. I’d been down there with the kids the week before to attend a homeschooling conference, and James, June and Alice were so thrilled to be going back to Grandpa and Grandma’s again in such a short time frame. (Definite advantage of living in Kelowna vs. Fruitvale!) Alice spent the week leading up to Thanksgiving keeping her ears open for any mention of Grandpa and Grandma’s place. If she heard the words, she’d run over, ask, “Go with you?” and “Get my shoes?” with an urgent look in her eyes. She was not going to be left behind!

Speaking of Grandpa and Grandma’s, James has lately mentioned several times, most mournfully, how disappointed he is that we actually found a home in which to live; he would have preferred living at his grandparents’ place. “We could have stayed there for a whole month!” he’s been heard sighing. While I share his enthusiasm for the enjoyments of Grandpa and Grandma’s home, I’ve very much relieved we have this lovely home in which to live! 🙂

Anyways! Thanksgiving weekend! Jeremy spent hours and hour marking. Then we got drenched in a monsoon on Saturday afternoon while attempting to enjoy a corn maze. And then we spent a lovely afternoon and evening with my side of the family. The kids rode their bikes, played around in the basement and . . . well, I don’t really know what else they were up to. They were having such fun they just kept busy the whole time. 🙂 We enjoyed a delicious gourmetten feast, some rousing card games and some old, catchy Dutch music that transported us back to our teen years.

The next day we went to mass in Abbotsford, visited our hospitalized nephew, and enjoyed another round of Thanksgiving deliciousness with Jeremy’s side of the family. James tried a Wii for the first time and was quite thrilled with it; it was his favourite part of the evening. For the record, June’s fave: seeing her cousins again. And Alice’s: playing with Oma’s play kitchen.

And on Monday we returned home with the beginnings of colds for everyone. That’s made for a bit of a long week here. Alice has been coughing atrociously, and James and June are keeping me on my toes by shouting in alarm any time there’s a hint of a dribble from her nose. June’s just completed yet another round of antibiotics . . . and Jeremy had his first sick day at school (well, half day). Our neighbour had given us a free family admission to the local pool, so when Jeremy showed up at home after lunch, I bolted out the door with James and June. (Gotta use that van whenever it’s around!) It was lovely to get out of the house, and we thoroughly enjoyed our wet and splashy afternoon!

Jeremy also gave me a sabbath day from mothering today. Talk about speaking my love language! 🙂 After coffee time this morning, I headed out for the day; it was my goal to see something beautiful, to experience some quiet, and to go to confession. I started by visiting Kalamoir Regional Park, a lovely little area along Okanagan Lake. There’s a trail that runs along the water and through a bit of forest. It was so beautiful! There were two areas along the trail that were more heavily forested, and in the first area a group of black-capped chickadees (which I had just painted in my nature journal a week or two ago, and actually recognized on sight) was spiritedly chirping about, and in the second patch there were some cheerful robins bustling about. Our backyard is as dead as a doornail (too dry this summer), and our van is nearly always in use, so our nature study has been severely restricted since moving here. It was so refreshing to see a lovely, lively spot in the world again, and to spend some time observing the frolicking antics of those dear little birds!

After some time walking about outside, I found a quiet spot along the beach and prayed for a while. And then perused a used book store and found a lovely stash of books for a certain Redwall fan (shhhhh!), and then spent a couple hours reading in a comfy coffee shop. Then I went to confession, and headed home. It was a wondrously refreshing day! (Alas, the afternoon caffeinated beverage means I’m still awake at 1:30am! Mental note to self: do not drink caffeine after lunch!!!!)

I haven’t really pulled out my real camera since moving to West Kelowna, but the other day the light coming in the window was just perfect. I love these shots of my sweet and sparky little lass! (Going to have to take it out more often!) I’m also loving the fact that, despite my absolute incompetence in all things hair-related, June manages to walk away from a bath looking like we slaved over her hair for an hour. 😉 I can’t believe she’s going to be four next month!

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And here’s what we’ve been reading lately . . .

Me
The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater
Formation of Character by Charlotte Mason (for an online book club)

James
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

June
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The High Hills by Jill Barklem

Alice
Jamberry by Bruce Degan
Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field

I’d love to dive into another good work of fiction. After finishing The Lord of the Rings and marvelling over the exquisitely beautiful portrait of selflessness (Sam), friendship (Sam and Frodo), and a world in which things are as they should be (comfortable homes, noble kings, Gandalf responding to the destruction of the ring by talking less and laughing more), it’s been hard to muster enthusiasm for anything else. I’d love to hear your recommendations if you’ve read an excellent book lately!