Here I am doing what I do best. CHANGING things.
I had a poignant conversation with my soon-to-be 5th grader about Ambleside and the readings, etc. It went something like this:
“Hey Evie, what were your favorite stories from last year?”
Do you remember any of the stories?
Thinking quietly…”Not really.”
Did you like Little Duke? No – except for the part where he saved the bird. Did you like Wind in the Willows? No – the animals are cool but it was pretty boring. Did you like the history readings about kings of England? Some of it when something interesting happened. Did you like the Burgess Animal Book? Yea, that was okay but kinda for little kids.
She liked Understood Betsy and Pilgrim’s Progress. That’s about it.
So, I started to worry. A few friends of mine have altered the AO selections, but I really, really like it all laid out. I like how rigorous it is! But when I honestly prayed and questioned myself, I think I only like it because I want to pridefully produce smart kids. “Well, you know they have done 10 years of Ambleside Online” I could envision myself saying with a smirk. I want well-cultured, educated, polite kids who can discuss Plutarch. Is that so much to ask?
I asked my FB group for advice. And everyone told me that if it isn’t working, change it until it is. Ugh. This is why I don’t send them to school – so that they can have individualized plans, right? Sigh. Yes.
So, I’m starting with Evie’s history. She’s at the last part of Y2 still because we’ve not managed to do much this summer. That’s okay though. We’ll just change grades over Christmas break. We’re in the heart of the Middle Ages. I want to stick with the AO history rotation schedule but just use different selections.
An Island Story (AO selection) is interesting to me, but it is “battle heavy.” This has been confusing to both of us, and yes we could timeline all the different wars, but for what? Also, I have an animal-loving sweet girl, and she’s more interested in the culture, lifestyles, animals, and stories than she is in the battles. I started to look at different history spines that could be used for the middle ages period that covered battles but also people, stories, etc. Thankfully, I had already purchased the All Through the Ages Ebook by Christine Miller, which gives hundreds of recommendations broken down by time period OR geography and even further by grade and type of book (fiction, bio, culture, literature, etc.). If you don’t have it, get it!
After looking around (a lot), I settled on using Story of the Middle Ages by Christine Miller.
Here is a description from the site:
Christine Miller has taken those portions of The Story of Old France and The Story of the English by H. A. Guerber which do tell the story of the Middle Ages, and has woven them together into a single, seamless narrative, carefully preserving Guerber’s own style. Several chapters were also taken from Charlotte Yonge’s A Young Folk’s History of Germany, and The Story of the Christians and Moors of Spain. Where necessary, the chapters authored by C. M. Yonge were re-written in Guerber’s unique style to preserve the continuity and consistency of the narrative throughout.
This will be what we read from twice a week. If we pick up where we left off, we’re about half way done with this book. I’ll have to decide if I want to cover anything else we missed while reading AIS.
From this spine, I plan on branching out into other readalouds and assigned (but fun) reads. Here are the selections I’ve chosen:
Famous Men of the Middle Ages by Greenleaf Press will be great for further exploration of important people.
This is an AO recommendation for historical biographies.
What could be cooler than a queen who doesn’t want to sit and be pretty but would rather get out there and do something?
This is a short bio on Saint Francis of Assisi.
This is a recommended geography book for AO Y3, but I think we’ll cover it during this time frame and do some map work with it while we read it.
Short book on this famous castle and what went on inside.
This is in newspaper format. That makes it more fun I think. 🙂
We will probably do the Magna Charta as a read-aloud.
Historical Fiction: We will see how many of these she gets to and which ones she’s interested in. I tried to select the ones I think she’ll like but not necessarily choose for herself to read.
Likely, The Door in the Wall will be a read-aloud. Because I want to read it too. 🙂 This is an AO Free Read.
There are some great dramatized audio versions of this that I will likely explore. Blackstone Audio is one that my library has. This is an AO selection for Y2.
This is an AO Y2 Free Read.
We’ve already read this as an AO Free Read, but I listed it here because you should read it. It’s a TRUE story…documented. Check it out! It gave me the creeps.
Culture: Lastly, we have the culture section, which is going to be longer. These are fun, coffee table type books for kids. There’s nothing too serious. I just plan on getting out a few at a time from the library and having her look at them and tell me what she learns. They are all short, picture-rich books.
Pictures to study from the era.
The story of Jesus told with Giotto frescoes.
This is a book, but there is an audio version as well. It is a play where each voice tells something about the character they are portraying. It looks really neat! I thought maybe she could pick one and get really good at the delivery and present it to family or at a homeschool display fair. 🙂
I haven’t worked it all out yet on a schedule. I still need to factor in literature selections (of which Robin Hood is one of them for instance). Basically most of these are for fun to explore more about the time we’re studying. Hope this helps someone else planning for the Middle Ages!