Friday, 27 February 2015

Ambleside Online Year 4 - Exam for Term 1

'...knowledge is acquired only by what we may call "the act of knowing," which is both encouraged and tested by narration, and which further requires the later test and record afforded by examinations.'

 A Philosophy of Education by Charlotte Mason, Pg. 292

It took a while for me to be convinced that exams at the end of each term of AO were beneficial. I thought it was a waste of time and I might as well use the week profitably and get on with the next term's work. Part of the problem was that when we first started AO I didn't start everyone at the same time. I had four children in various weeks of the term's work and this made scheduling exams really awkward. 
This year, however, it was much easier as both Moozle & Bengy's weeks line up. We've just finished an exam week - Term 1 of Year 4 & Year 8.

The general outline of the Year 4 exam questions below is taken from the Ambleside Online suggestions but I've changed some and adapted others to suit our Australian content and our personal situation.

Write 2-4 lines of a poem that you memorized this term.

She chose The Owl by Alfred Lord Tennyson.


A dragon-fly is caught in the meshes of the web. With one wing free it struggles to escape. It shakes the web, but the cables hold in spite of the shaking.

The Story Book of Science Pg 131

I started doing regular studied dictation with Moozle a few months ago and can see an improvement in her spelling over that time.


1. Describe your favourite scene or character from Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale

2. Narrate a story from Age of Fable

This narration was done after we finished The Winter's Tale late last year and I've included it here as an early exam piece. We haven't read Shakespeare this year but we are going to see a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream on the weekend and next week when we start Term 2, we'll begin a new play.

'There is probably no better test of a liberal education than the number of names a person is able to use accurately and familiarly as occasion requires' 
 Pg. 294

English Grammar
1. Pick out Subjects (nouns) and Predicates (verbs) in the following:

     a. The Spanish, too, were interested in finding new colonies and claiming rich cargoes.  

      b. The Cygnet stayed in Western Australian waters for nine weeks.
      c. Precious spices grew on the islands in the seas above Australia. 
      d. Tasman sailed on east, discovering the edge of New Zealand.

 2. Correct  the punctuation and capitalization in the following sentence: 

soon after sailing away dampier deserted and returned to england where he wrote a journal about his adventures

Australian History

1. Tell about the first Europeans who came to Australia  

 2. Why were people in no hurry to settle in ‘New Holland’?


1.    Fill in the places you know on a map of Australia, include the places the early explorers visited.

2.    Tell about how rain is formed (the water cycle)

3.    What is a Peninsula, an Isthmus, a Bay?

Natural History and General Science

1. What are earthquakes? What causes them?

2. Talk about silk, and about Epeira's Bridge.

3. Tell what  you know about insects – draw a picture to illustrate.

Citizenship/Government (Plutarch)

Tell about Timoleon's expedition against the Carthaginians. 

Reading Skill

Read aloud Matthew 5: 19-21 with proper expression & enunciation


1. 63 divided by __ = 7

2. Dan bought 8 cases of lemonade for a party with 24 cans in each case, how many cans of lemonade is that altogether?

3. Fred mows lawns for five dollars per lawn. If he mows eight lawns, how much does he earn?

Foreign Language

1. Write a proper sentence in French
2. Write five Latin words and their translation

3. Sing your favourite French folksong                  

Picture Study

1. Describe or sketch a picture from this term's picture study. (Degas)


Psalm 100

Hebrews 4: 12-16
The Destruction of Sennacherib by George Gordon Byron
The Owl by Alfred Lord Tennyson


Play your favourite piece of music for the cello

Music Appreciation

1. Tell about your favourite piece of music from this term.

2. What have you learned about the work of the conductor of the Orchestra? How does she communicate what she wants you to do?


Sing your favourite folksong and hymn from this term.


Take a photo of your work and send it to great Grandma.

A machine sewn skirt - this was the same sort of procedure as the plastic bag holder - a much smaller version so more fiddly, especially the waist elastic.
The top was crotcheted - make enough chain stitch to fit around the doll's chest and then continue in double crotchet until the desired length. Sew together up the back. Using chain stitch attach the front to the back over both shoulders. The top can be pulled over the doll's head.



Draw a picture using the techniques you've learnt with pastels.

I included this in Moozle's exams as she's been learning to use pastels & watercolour pencils. She decided to do a sunset:

This exam was an opportunity for Moozle to show what she knows. It wasn't a list of question to try and catch her out but it did point out some areas that I could be more intentional about. She really enjoyed her week and to top it off she has a Highland Dancing Competition tomorrow where she will have another opportunity of displaying what she has learnt.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Poetry as a Means of Intellectual Culture - Furnishing the Mind

'Poetry takes first rank as a means of intellectual culture. Goethe tells us that we ought to see a good picture, hear good music, and read some good poetry every day.

...fine poetry need not be understood to be enjoyed.
...the youth who carries about with him such melodious cadences will not readily be taken in with tinsel.'

Formation of Character by Charlotte Mason

I've been thinking about the inherent power of poetry. It isn't something that is immediately obvious, but over a period of time, a regular diet of good poetry furnishes our minds with beauty and is a means of acquiring intellectual culture.
Good poetry (even if isn't understood), stored up in our minds, also provides a safeguard.
When we appreciate true beauty, when the rooms in our minds are well-furnished, we won't be taken in by counterfeits. If we have a storehouse full of good things we're not going to be tempted by junk.

The first couple of verses of Proverbs 24 speak to me about filling or furnishing our minds with this beauty.

By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled (furnished)
with rare and beautiful treasures.

Poetry has been called heightened speech; thoughts so charged with emotion that they spontaneously seek a rhythmic expression.
There have been seasons in my own life where I could only express my thoughts by writing poetry. I was looking through a book I kept during one of these times and I was surprised at the intensity of some of what I wrote. This is one of my poems that isn't as emotionally charged as some of my others, so I'm more comfortable sharing it!

I've read poetry and it has tugged on my heart for some reason that was inexpressible to me.
Poetry has lifted my eyes above everyday concerns and given me encouragement and hope. It has caused me to seek virtue and not settle for just following the crowd.
Was it Socrates that said that wisdom begins with wonder?

C.S. Lewis in Reflections on the Psalms said:

It seems to me appropriate, almost inevitable, that when that great Imagination which in the beginning, for Its own delight and for the delight of men and angels...had invented and formed the whole world of Nature, submitted to express Itself in human speech, that speech should sometimes be poetry. For poetry too is a little incarnation, giving body to what had been before invisible and inaudible.

Poetry...a little makes me wonder.

Friday, 20 February 2015

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

The Storming of the Bastille by Jean-Pierre-Louis-Laurent Houel

*   Charles Dickens wrote fifteen novels, the final book remained unfinished at the time of his death. Two out of the fifteen were historical fiction - Barnaby Rudge, written in 1841 and A Tale of Two Cities in 1859.

*  A Tale of Two Cities begins and ends with famous lines that are familiar even to people who haven't read the book.

*  The 'Two Cities' refer to London and Paris where the story takes place.

I'm a long-term admirer of Charles Dickens' writing, but some of his books have more developed plots than others and flow with an intensity that sweeps the reader along, regardless of the fact that they are often convoluted sagas.  A Tale of Two Cities is certainly in that category, although it is shorter in length (about 450 pages) than some of his others.
Dickens paints a large canvas in which the atmosphere of London's Old Bailey and the unrest and terror of the French Revolution form the background. Against this background he places such memorable characters as Mr Cruncher, the grave robber, and Mr Lorry, the old faithful friend and 'man of business.' Miss Pross, the devoted servant; Madame Defarge, formidable and implacable, and Sydney Carton, the dissolute young man - not to mention the three main characters - Doctor Manette, his daughter Lucie and Charles Darnay - plus a host of seemingly unconnected individuals. 
One of the most pleasurable aspects of reading Dickens is the way he handles both tragedy and humour, often in quick succession, without losing the sense of either. He is an expert wordsmith.

...Mr Lorry looked at Jerry in considerable doubt and distrust. That honest tradesman's manner of receiving the look, did not inspire confidence; he changed the leg on which he rested, as often as if he had fifty of those limbs, and we're trying them all; he examined his finger-nails with a very questionable closeness of attention; and whenever Mr. Lorry's eye caught his, he was taken with that peculiar kind of short cough requiring the hollow of a hand before it, which is seldom, if ever, known to be an infirmity attendant on perfect openness of character.

"I should have hoped, gentlemen both," said the spy, always striving to hook Mr. Lorry into the discussion, "that your respect for my sister—"
"I could not better testify my respect for your sister than by finally relieving her of her brother," said Sydney Carton.

It was in vain for Madame Defarge to struggle and to strike; Miss Pross, with the vigorous tenacity of love, always so much stronger than hate, clasped her tight, and even lifted her from the floor in the struggle that they had. 

So far I've read eleven of Dickens' novels and have re-read some of those. A Tale of Two Cities is high on the list as one of my favourites. Besides being a great story, Dickens' use of the historical context recreates the time period in a way not easily forgotten.
My favourite books by Dickens are:

A Tale of Two Cities
Bleak House
David Copperfield
Our Mutual Friend
Hard Times

A Tale of Two Cities is scheduled as a free read in Year 9 of the Ambleside Online Curriculum but it would also be a worthwhile read aloud.
Madame Defarge's culminating vengeance grew from the injustice her family suffered, but in the end she became a perpetrator of injustice herself. 

There were many women at that time, upon whom the time laid a dreadfully disfiguring hand; but, there was not one among them more to be dreaded than this ruthless woman, now taking her way along the streets. Of a strong and fearless character, of shrewd sense and readiness, of great determination, of that kind of beauty which not only seems to impart to its possessor firmness and animosity, but to strike into others an instinctive recognition of those qualities; the troubled time would have heaved her up, under any circumstances. But, imbued from her childhood with a brooding sense of wrong, and an inveterate hatred of a class, opportunity had developed her into a tigress. She was absolutely without pity. If she had ever had the virtue in her, it had quite gone out of her.

Unforgiveness, injustice and revenge; loyalty and self-sacrifice; faithfulness, courage and love - there is so much in this book that lends itself to some great discussion.

 Women's March on Versailles 1789's_March_on_Versailles#/media/File:Women%27s_March_on_Versailles01.jpg

...the day came coldly, looking like a dead face out of the sky. Then, the night, with the moon and the stars, turned pale and died, and for a little while it seemed as if creation were delivered over to Death's dominion.
But, the glorious sun, rising, seemed to strike those words, that burden of the night, straight and warm to his heart in its long bright rays...
A trading-boat, with a sail of the softened colour of a dead leaf, then glided into his view, floated by him, and died away. As its silent track in the water disappeared, the prayer that had broken up out of his heart for a merciful consideration of all his poor blindness and errors, ended in the words, 'I am the resurrection and the life.'

This book is my 19th Century entry in the Back to the Classics Challenge