Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Snapshot Summary: October 31-November 4, week 9, Narrations as Testing

Snapshot Summary: October 1-November 5

“I should have liked to be asked to say what I knew. They always tried to ask what I did not know. When I would have willingly displayed my knowledge, they sought to expose my ignorance. This sort of treatment had only one result: I did not do well in examinations.” - Winston Churchill

This week was the last week of our first quarter, which is a week I set aside for review, to complete any unfinished projects and for testing. Testing is such a different thing with a education that follows Charlotte Mason's advise, for my goal is not to find out what they don't know, but to find out what they do know. Those old enough, write down their narrations, and those who can't yet, narrate orally and I write it down for them. The basic idea is that I just ask them to tell me what they know about a particular subject. I do ask clarifying questions or little questions to encourage them to elaborate on a certain area. I must be careful to keep them to a minimum and to even keep the little questions as open-ended as possible because students will want to rely on your coming up with the "important" material and will volunteer less and less on their own. I like to use the phrase, "Can you tell me more about (a certain aspect of the topic)?" For instance, if we were studying Ancient Egypt, I would first ask the broad question, "Can you tell me about Ancient Egypt?" If he talked about all the basic topics except mummification, I would ask, "Can you tell me about how they treated their dead?" You see how I didn't even use the word mummy?
Narration can also be used for mathematics. I use word problems and puzzles to solve to help this kind of narration. I also ask them to describe whatever operation they are working on. "What does it mean to use multiplication?" I am thinking the idea of fast addition, but if they described it a different way, then that is the way they have related to the subject and that is more important in some ways than my own concepts.
I have heard it asked, "But what if they don't answer correctly, and it seems as if they do not understand the subject?" I just take this as an indication that they need more work on the subject. More living books. More living the subject. To be honest, though, I have never had this. I know pretty much what they do and don't know and rarely do I get a surprise on the exams, except occasionally I am surprised by the depth of their understanding.
These are the topics I tested them on...
Addition and Subtraction
Parts of Speech
Subjects and Predicates, Incomplete and Complete Sentences, Compound Sentences
Vowel Rules
Little House in the Big Woods
Columbus, Early Explorers, 13 Colonies, American Indians, Cook
The states of Minnesota, Massachusetts, Delaware, Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada.
Fish, Frogs and Toads
Density, Buoyancy and Surface Tension

Place Value, Greater Than/Less Than, Rounding, Multiplying by Powers of Ten, Multiplication with Regrouping
Punctuation, Prefixes and Suffixes, Antonyms, Synonyms, Homophone,
Parts of Speech, Types of Verbs (action, linking, helping), Irregular Verbs, Similies and Metaphors, Idioms and Personification
Little House in the Big Woods
Columbus, Early Settlers, French and Indian Wars, 13 Colonies, American Indians, Cook, English in India
The states of Minnesota, Massachusetts, Delaware, Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada.
Continents and Oceans,
The Ocean Floor, Fish,
Salt, Density, Buoyancy and Surface Tension
Reading fluency, writing a simple report
Addition and subtraction, commutative properties/fact families.
The states of Minnesota, Massachusetts, Delaware, Virginia, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada.
Desert, butte, mesa, canyon, river, cliff, gulch, dune, and oasis.
Early Settlers, French and Indian Wars, 13 colonies, Iroquois and Navajo Indians, Cook, English in India
Aquatic mobility, Fish, frogs and toads
Metric measurement, molecules and atoms, Concentration, humidity, the composition of air and about carbon dioxide, Air Pressure and the Weight of Air

See why I can't get any photos of him any more?
Relation symbols, equality and inequality, sets and functions. Flatland,
The Fellowship of the Ring, prologue-chapter 12, Tolkien, Etymology and Philology
House of Burgess, French and Indian Wars, George Washington, Daniel Boone, John Adams
Paddle to the Sea, Characteristics of a  Pond and a Marsh, Great Lakes area
Physical Science: review Atoms and Molecules, Metric Measurement, Concentration, Humidity, Composition of Air, Air Pressure and the Weight of Air,
Class Osteichthyes, fish anatomy Class Chodrichthyes
The history of logic, difference between formal and material logic, truth, validity and soundness of an argument, simple apprehension, proposition, syllogism.
Latin Being Verbs, Predicate Nominatives and Adjectives, Gender, Singular and Plural, Declensions, Adjectives, Nominative and Genitive Cases, Numbers, Indicative Mood, Accusative Case, Vocative, Case, Imperative & Indicative Moods, Ablative Case, Pronouns  and Question Words.
Greek alphabet, noun and verb inflections, translating Greek to English and English to Greek in simple sentences. He has had trouble with his Greek program and so we are seeking a new one.

In addition to this, our week was filled with these activities...
Alex's 13th birthday party, July 2008
On Monday, we had a funeral to attend of a dear friend. He was Alex's bus driver when Alex went to public school and our families became friends. He invited us to swim at their pool and we always had Alex's birthday party at their house. He was so kind and good. I learned so much from him. He is so missed.
Monday was also Halloween, and so we carved pumpkins and apples.

and trick or treating.
On Tuesday, Quentin made crockpot applesauce.

 We enjoyed opening a surprise package from Alabama...
and we added Virginia to our Postcard-Geography album.

Sam has frequent nosebleeds in the winter, once the heat is on and the air drys out. We keep a humidifier going usually, but we needed to get a new one and we hadn't yet. Sam woke up Wednesday morning with the worst nosebleed he had ever had. It just wouldn't stop. Steven ended up taking him to the doctor's, which is an hour away. It made for a long morning. Sam is going to a specialist next week.
On Thursday we had an All Soul's Day teatime.

Steven took Katie, Sam and James roller skating with friends...
and all the kids went swimming after dinner.
Swimming in a warm pool is so nice when it is cold outside.

Weekend Snapshots
Katie's cat, Louis, has this strange habit of grooming Katie's hair just after she shampoos it.
He seems to act like it is catnip to him.

Sunday's Sundae Bar


  1. I love that Winston Churchill quote!! I can see my son saying that! I love your way of assessing what your children have learned. We have done narration before, so I kind of get it. I am going to give it a try.

    I am sorry about the loss of your friend. He sounds like he was a good one (a precious gift).

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I am trying so hard to stick with the CM method of education, but I have to turn grades in for my Umbrela. I've struggled with trying to grade my children. You just turned the light bulb on in my head, thanks, thanks,thanks.

  3. I am sorry to hear you lost a friend - I hope it was a gentle parting.

  4. So many great activities this week. I really like the idea of a week to review and catch up. I also like your narration way of testing.

  5. I can't believe how much you do in a week! The boys are just learning so many cool things. I love your pumpkins! So cool. Hope Sam is feeling better and has a good report from the doctor.

  6. I can understand why you wouldn't photograph him regularly because it would be frustrating - but it is kinda cute.

    I am sorry about the death of your friend...people you learn from are the dearest.

    Love all three of the Halloween pictures.

  7. The details on your narrations are so helpful and encouraging. I love the Churchill quote! (I so often felt that way in school!) A week full, full, full of lovely things, good times, challenges and some sadness. I do hope you got some resting in over the weekend?

  8. Wow! Looks like you had a packed, but fun-filled week :)

  9. I just saw your blog at the Homeschool Blog Awards and decided to come check you out. I am your newest reader and would love for you to follow me back, if you want to =-)


  10. I love how you're doing the tests! I need to do more testing. Maybe that's what we'll be doing for science today...... A test to see how much they remember for water dinosaurs


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