Thursday 22 January 2015

An Educational Manifesto - Ambleside Online Year 4

Every scholar of six years old and upwards should study with 'delight' his own, living, books on every subject in a pretty wide curriculum. 
Children between six and eight must for the most part have their books read to them.

School Education by Charlotte Mason  

This year is the 7th and the last year I'll be teaching 4th Grade in our home but it's the first time I've used Ambleside Online for this particular year. Being the year that covers the mid-sixteen to late seventeen-hundreds, Australian History comes alive for us, so I've had to give some thought as to what substitutions we could make - preferably using what books we already have on hand.

Last year I read through Volume 3, School Education by Charlotte Mason and then read Leslie Laurio's modern paraphrase of 'An Educational Manifesto,' which I quote with permission below. 

Children learn best from real, tangible things, and books. Tangible things include:

     a. Natural structures for physical activity like climbing, swimming, walking, etc.
     b. Resources for working and building with, such as wood, leather or clay.
     c. Natural objects in their native habitat, like birds, plants, creeks, and stones.
     d. Works of art.
     e. Scientific instruments.

It was very helpful to spend some time thinking through this Manifesto - Charlotte Mason's 'philosophy of education in a nutshell' - as I planned out my little girl's year:

What real, tangible things have I included?

Swimming, highland dancing, cello
Nature walks, gardening
Needlework, cooking, woodburning
Caring for the cat
Picture Study
Stamp Collecting

Have I left enough time to actually do them?
Have I scheduled them so that they will actually get done?
Do we have the resources we need? Are they where I can easily find them?

Most people acknowledge the need for tangible things in learning, as in hands-on education, but fewer people recognize that intellectual education has to come from books.

I wrote a post on substituting books after planning an Australian version of AO Year 9 for one of the boys about two years ago after spending some time reading what Charlotte Mason had to say on the subject. 

Education is the Science of Relations; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we must train him upon physical exercises, nature, handicrafts, science and art, and upon many living books; for we know that our business is, not to teach him all about anything, but to help him make valid, as many as may be of
     'Those first born affinities,
     'That fit our new existence to existing things.'
A Philosophy of Education, pg xxx

With all the above in mind here is our Year 4 Ambleside Online modified for Australia. Books in this colour are scheduled or optional Ambleside Online books for Year 4. At the time of writing we are going into Week 9:

History studied in Year 4: 1640-1700's (French and American Revolutions)

All the History options, except A Child's History of the World, plus two biographies were picked up years ago in op shops, library sales and Lifeline Book Fares (I use the free online version of Our Empire Story) and cost under $10 all up. I come across these titles from time to time so they are still available.

History & Geography

** ***George Washington's World by Genevieve Foster

* ** *** History of Australia Ch 1 to 8 (read aloud)
* ** *** Our Sunburnt Country Ch 1 to 5
* *** Our Empire Story - 3 Chapters (Pg 125-142)
* ** A Child's History of the World Ch 67-72 1st Edition
** An Island Story Ch 95 & 96

* Term 1 (1640-1720)

Our Sunburnt Country Ch 1 'The Land of the Dreamtime'
A Child's History of the World Ch 67 'The King Who Lost his Head' (Charles I)

History of Australia Ch 1 'The Beginnings' (selected sections)
History of Australia Ch 2 'South of the Spice Islands'

A Child's History of the World Ch 68 'Red Cap & Red Heels' (Louis XIV)

History of Australia Ch 3 'Piecing Together a Continent' (Tasman & Dampier) 1642-1700

Our Empire Story by H.E. Marshall - 'There Is Nothing New under the Sun' - up to 'Dampier feared to stay longer, lest his men should fall ill in that desert land. So he steered away to the East Indies and from thence sailed homeward.' (1699)

Our Sunburnt Country Ch 2  'New Visitors to an Old Land' (Pg 21-30)

** Term 2 (1720 - 1773)

Our Sunburnt Country Ch 2  'New Visitors to an Old Land' (Pg 30-37)
Our Empire Story - 'Nothing New Under the Sun' from 'Many years passed' to end of chapter (1768)
History of Australia Ch 4 Captain James Cook & The Endeavour 1770

A Child's History of the World Ch 69 ' A Self-Made Man' (Peter the Great)
A Child's History of the World Ch 70 'A Prince who Ran Away' (Frederick the Great)
Our Island Story Ch 95  & 96 (George III)
A Child's History of the World Ch 71 'America Gets Rid of Her King' (George III)

*** Term 3 (1773 - 1780)

Our Sunburnt Country Ch 3 'They Came and Stayed'
History of Australia Ch 5 'Bound for Botany Bay' (The First Fleet, 1787)
Our Empire Story - The Founding of Sydney (1788)

History of Australia Ch 6 'Settlement'
History of Australia Ch 7 'Convicts'
History of Australia Ch 8 'Completing the Coastline' (Matthew Flinders)

Our Sunburnt Country Ch 4 'Rum and Rebellion'
Our Empire Story - 'The Adventures of George Bass and Matthew Flinders' (1796)
Our Sunburnt Country Ch 5 'Bass and Flinders Map the Coastline'

History Tales and/or Biography

Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula (with some omissions)

**James Ruse: Pioneer Wheat Farmer (1760 - 1808) by Jean Chapman
** ***James Cook: Royal Navy by George Finkel
*** Matthew Flinders by George Finkel


* ** Long's Home Geography - free online 
*** The Old Man River of Australia by Leila Pirani (thanks to Jeanne for this suggestion)
Map work

Natural History/Science

All the Ambleside Online selections with the exception of the optional title plus:

* How Did We Find Out About Numbers? by Isaac Asimov (short review here)
** How Did We Find Out About Vitamins? by Isaac Asimov ( Ch 1-3)

** Karrawingi the Emu by Leslie Rees
*** Monarch of the Western Skies: The Story of a Wedge-tailed Eagle by C.K. Thompson


All the Ambleside Online selections plus:

*** Trim by Matthew Flinders


Getting Started with Latin by William Linney


No set programme but I use this book as a guide for me.

French - selections we use are in a blog post I did last year.

Group Work

Devotions, Shakespeare, Plutarch, Hymns, Folksongs, Composer & Picture Study, Read aloud.
Free reads - as scheduled at Ambleside Online.

Other Options for Australians & New Zealanders:

Young Nick's Head by Karen Hesse

(Also published under the title Stowaway) Fictional but based on fact. Written in the form of a diary by a young boy, Nicholas Young, on board The Endeavour who was the first European to sight New Zealand.
At this age, I'd suggest reading it aloud. It was a while ago that I read it but do remember doing a little editing as I went.

All About Captain Cook by Armstrong Sperry - an easier book than Finkel's but still good.

The Cannibal Islands by R.M. Ballantyne - preview first. The author's style is similar to G.A. Henty but his descriptions can be a bit gory!

John of the Sirius & John of Sydney Cove by Doris Chadwick were books Ruth (have a look around her website for other Australian options) introduced us to over 13 years ago. We managed to find our own copies about 10 years ago ($2 each) but they're hard to find now. They're a fun read aloud if you have younger children also and fit the time period studied in Year 4.

I considered adding A Dutchman Bold: The Story of Abel Tasman by George Finkel (152pg) in Term 1 but between the three main texts of Our Empire Story, History of Australia & Our Sunburnt Country, I thought I'd covered Tasman well. It might be a good addition anyhow if you're looking for a biography choice.

This chronological list of books for Australian History at Aussie Homechool was put together years ago by the CM&Friends-ANZ email group.


I keep this very simple and it's basically the same format I've used for everyone. Before the beginning of a new week I look at the AO schedule for the coming week and put in the next chapters etc for that week. I don't have everything written on the page - eg. in week 8 we did History of Australia whereas the week before we did a chapter from Our Sunburnt Country so I do some cutting & pasting & add or subtract the boxes where necessary. There are certain things I like them to get done first (Maths & music practise for example) but that's not reflected on the page. They just know that certain subjects need to get done earlier.

'Education, to be successful, must not only inform but inspire.'
T. Sharper Knowlson


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Thanks so much for this insightful blog. I love seeing samples of your kids work and your approach to life since I recently found your blog. I have 2 daughters in year 1 and 2 boys in year 5 and have done AO since starting. However I find myself really struggling now with scheduling and free Afternoons are gone and still not getting to French, Plutarch or Shakespeare. How did you make time to read aloud to youngers and listen to them read, hear narrations/ recitations of olders, help 4 with maths? I would love to know how your timetable looked. I do most things Charlotte except maths as we can't seem to get it done in less than 45 minutes and boys haven't finished last years yet. Any guidance would be so appreciated. Shona

Carol said...

Hi Shona, just wondering if you are in Australia?? Do you gave an email address or some other way I can contact you?

Carol said...

Oops, have an email address us what I meant.

Anonymous said...

Love reading your lesson plans.
Latin is so much fun to learn with the use of great photo's about Rome, romans and art. It is a great base for learning a vocabulary.
I learned so much when i cooked some meals from a French cookbook ( Little Paris Kitchen Book by Rachel Khoo). In this land where there are more bikes than people....I had to learn how to repair a puncture on a bicycle tire!
But don't forget the greatest Dutch meal a child can cook...."Snert" = Dutch Pea Soup with sausage....Abel Tasman's favorite dinner!

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing your plans for this next year. It helps me to see what other people are doing, as I consider what I'd like to cover with my own children. Your checklist is wonderful!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Yes we are. My address is shonaarcher99 at Thanks so much. Shona

Carol said...

I found a recipe for snert so I'll have to give it a try when the colder weather arrives!

Carol said...

You're welcome, Sara.

Unknown said...

Amazing post seems to be very useful and interesting
For some more educational books online and even a wide range of other books just visit Educational Books Online

Lisa Cho said...

I have just found your blog through the AO forums, and my, is it a treasure trove! I am dabbling in switching from Sonlight to AO, so am busy researching and praying. But I have wondered how to make Australian studies fit. How wonderful that you have so many hard copy books you have found at sales!

Carol said...

Hi Lisa, welcome! We did Sonlight for a couple of years. There was much I liked about it and I was initially attracted because of its literature approach. We had one really good year - World History - which I did with 4 of our school-aged children but I also had a preschooler & a baby and I felt the younger ones were just getting the crumbs so I decided not to continue. If there's anything I could help you with, feel free to email me - there's a link at the top right on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm not so electronically inclined and this is my first time responding to someone's blog...i justfound your blog in doing a search about the storybook of science (my son is doing yr 4 this year with AO) i don't have a lot of time,and mostly i'm just wiped out and feel like i'm barely sqeaking by. some days i'm encouraged and feel like things are going to work out better, and then another time, i'm right back down in the was one of those days. you have 7 children...graduated 5, wow...i was wondering if i could glean from you. i have 4 children...a baby, a toddler a special needs 7 yr old we adopted from korea, and a 10 yr old boy. i just want peace in my home and moreand morei feel like the woman who tears her home down. i have been trying to make the perfect schedule that doesn't exist, but i need order so i attempt to get better at how to juggle it all. i sort of do at times, but then with narrations, lessons with my 7 yr old get interrupted b/c my son is ready to share his narration. i am working on having him make smooth transitions between subjects, but it isn't going so well and we loose so much time. i don't know how to get him to be more independent, and i've tried juggling time with him and then time with the others, but attimes it's like the younger ones get ignored and my son and i are trying to do a lesson quickly and full of arguement. it's not always so bad, but when it's not, its that 5 minutes of an incredible poem like the village blacksmith from longfellow or a line of a hymn or an amazing connection that my son has made from some reading. i want to instill good habits in my younger children, but my 2 yr old is screaming at times and i can't keep up with all the bad habits and what to do (diverging only goes so far). i am overwhelmed and exhausted and screaming out to God for help. i don't want to loose this beautiful way of learning...could you give some tangible ways of keeping peace and order throughout the day with how to keep my son on task as well as being available to helping the younger children? if you are able to respond, my email is
i think that you are a very blessed lady and a testimony of God's greatness.

Carol said...

Hi Jody. I'm about to head out the door but will email you soon, hopefully later this evening. X

mamazee said...

Love this! Just found it through pinterest, and i loved hearing how you adapted AO for Australia - i'm in Canada, and making similar adjustments to the curricula this year to reflect a little of our country's history, as well... :)

Carol said...

Hi Stephanie! Thanks for taking the time to comment. There are a number of AO users in Canada. If you don't already know, the AO forum has a section where you may post queries & get ideas for substitute books. All the best with your adjustments!