Thursday, April 7, 2016

{EXAMS} :: Year 4, Term 1

A couple of weeks ago was Term 1 exam week in our home. We tend to begin our Year-to-Year transition with Ambleside Online's schedule in late fall, initially due to Alice having turned 6 in September, consequently allowing a few weeks before beginning her in Year 1. Thus with a start date of October/November, I am able to keep her and Royal on the same weeks of lessons around the year. So far, so good!

I always use AO's exam questions as a basis for our exams, but end up adjusting here and there for various reasons.

As we have just begun Year 4, exam responses were mainly oral so as Royal narrates, I type directly into the computer.

Following are the questions and prompts. I have included a sampling of his responses (in green). Some of my thoughts and comments are in red.

1. Tell how the people of Israel took Jericho.
2. Tell about John the Baptist and about how he baptized Jesus.
3. Tell how Christ fed the hungry crowds. How does he feed us today? He gives us jobs. He provides animals for us to kill. He helps farmers’ plants grow.

Royal chose to memorize Alfred, Lord Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" this term. I was a bit surprised he was okay with such a lengthy poem, but he did great! And, BONUS, a mini-history and geography lesson was involved.

Dictation (unprepared)
I was a bit unsure of how this was supposed to work. I couldn't find any how-tos on UN-prepared dictation, but did see a small number of posts over at the forum about the plausible reasons why it was included on student exams in Miss Mason's day. One that sticks out to me is that it could be a good indicator of the child's progress in spelling and focus on the details of sentences/phrases, etc.
That said, I decided to take AO's Tennyson selection (from "In Memoriam") and cut it down to just three lines, then allow Royal about 2-3 minutes to look it over for spelling, punctuation, etc.
Then I dictated:

If anyone has suggestions as to how they do unprepared dictation, please share!

1. Describe your favorite scene or character from the Shakespeare play: The Taming of the Shrew
Petrucchio is my favorite. He is funny. He can be funny whenever he’s talking to Katherine. He’s real stubborn with Katherine because he’s taming her. It’s a good thing that he’s stubborn because if he wasn’t, she would be a bully all the time. Whenever she wants something, he fights with her and says no, that he will not have it. And anything that she doesn’t want, he’ll give it to her.
2. Narrate one of these stories: Apollo & Daphne, Pyramus & Thisbe, Cephalic & Procris, or Diana & Actaeon.

English Grammar

U.S. History
1. What do you know about King Philip's War?
2. From reading Poor Richard, talk about the relationship America had with the French in trying to gain their independence from Britain. What role did Benjamin Franklin play in this relationship? The French and Americans liked each other. The French would give them supplies and the French really loved Benjamin Franklin and they were sad when he had to leave France. He (BF) started writing letters to the French to give them supplies.
3. Tell about the witches of Salem or how New Amsterdam became New York.
4. What do you know about Lord Baltimore or William Penn?

1. What do you know about Lake Itasca? Or what do you know about the Falls of St. Anthony's? (Locate it on a map and tell what's around it)
2. "The river is a museum." Explain.
3. Describe the earth's surface. (water and land forms)

Natural History & General Science
1. What are earthquakes? What causes them?
2. Talk about silk and about Epeira's Bridge.
3. Talk about the Afghan Pine or about a bird we learned about at the Nature Center. Red-tailed hawk: Their wing-span is 4 feet. They have big talons, about 2 inches long. It has spots on its chest. It has a curved yellow beak. It has a red tail. It has 3 eyelids, one on the side of its eye that is used to protect its eyes and is also see-through and one on the top of its eye and one on the bottom.

Citizenship/Government (Plutarch): Publicola
On AO's exam page, there were no questions for Publicola, so I took this quote from Anne White's study guide compilation of Publicola from Lesson Three's Narration and Discussion section. (As we are taking Plutarch at about half-pace right now ... and REALLY soaking it all in, I might add! ... this was a great question for us as we ended the term on Lesson Six (of Twelve total)

Talk about Brutus. Who was he? He was a commander in the army
"But that ancient Brutus was of a severe and inflexible nature, like steel of too hard a temper, and having never had his character softened by study and thought, he let himself be so far transported with his rage and hatred against tyrants, that, for conspiring with them, he proceeded to the execution even of his own sons." -Tell the story. He found out that his sons had turned to King Tarquin’s side and he took them before him with a bunch of other Tarquins and put them to trial and then cut their heads off.
Later we read of this same rage on the battlefield. Talk about this.
He was so mad at the tyrants that he let his anger control him, which was not good because he got killed in the battle. It is good not to let your hatred control you. Then the Romans made camp in the woods and all the sudden while they were in their tents, they heard a whispering voice that said, “You have won by one person.” And then they all yelled and it scared the Tuscans and most of them ran away and hid in the woods, but then the Romans came and captured the rest.


Picture Study
Describe your favorite Dürer work from this term.

Free Reading/Read-Aloud
Choose one to illustrate and talk about:
     By the Shores of Silver Lake
     The Sign of the Beaver
By the Shores of Silver Lake


1. Sing Juan 3:16 or Zaqueo
2. La caminata: Say what we do on a nature walk

1. The Charge of the Light Brigade, Alfred, Lord Tennyson
2. Colossians 1:15-17
3. Recite one of your Sunday School verses

Sing your favorite folksong and hymn from this term.


  1. I've wondered about unprepared dictation as well. My y4 student is not a strong speller in the least and tends to panic when confronted with words he hasn't studied already, and I don't want to put him on the spot too much with the exams, nor do I want him to be forced to muddle through words that he just doesn't know. What I've done so far is give him sentences he has already had in his studied dictation, so that he knows he has had the opportunity to come to know the words and isn't being put on the spot. It has stretched him, but it hasn't made him feel like I'm asking the impossible. With my y8 student, I can give her whatever I want... she's experienced and confident enough that she'll handle just about anything. But there's no way my y4 student is ready for that, even with a very simple sentence. But I would be very curious to read more about the subject.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Amber. Sounds like what you are doing with your Y4 son is just right for him, stretching him without overwhelming him :-) That's great! I love the way homeschool, and particularly a CM one, allows for this sort of individualized education. I hope to dig a little deeper into the how-tos of unprepared dictation. Let me know if you find anything as well!

  2. These are wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I just love his drawing style--he is definitely gifted in that area! And I recognize those sentences from Getting Started with Latin. :)