Sunday, January 11, 2009

Choosing Our Literature Selections For Year One

This post pertains to the third term of Shug's Year One

I'm settling in to plan out the last twelve weeks of our school year (we began in June 2008). We've been on an unforeseen "break" since just after Thanksgiving, owing to our rather sudden (but exciting!) move, and it's really time to get back in gear. The move is not completely finished, though. There are still plenty of things to unpack and organize and clean. So, we're starting this term just like I've started pretty much every other school term up to this point: gradually.

Some of you have expressed interest in how I go about planning out our work for the term. Now seems like the perfect time to answer that question, since I'm actually doing it. So, I'm going to have two little windows open on my computer this afternoon - one to plan and one to post about planning :) Won't this be fun?

Now, this little series of posts is just for our booklists. Math, copywork, composer study, and similar subjects will have to wait :) This particular post is just about our literature choices. Also, please, PLEASE remember that you do not have to make up your own booklists to teach your children using CM methods!!! Ambleside Online is there for a very good reason! :) I'm just a big nutcase who insists on nurturing this love/hate relationship with planning my own curriculum.

First things first - I need to remind myself of what an average term looked like in Miss Mason's PNEU schools for this age group (Form I - ages 6 to about 8). So, I visit the PNEU programmes pages at Ambleside Online and find a representative schedule, like Programme 43 for Form I. For clarity's sake, I should point out that Form IB is for the youngest students (6 years old, like Shug) and Form IA is for the older children in the same group (7 & 8 year olds, like SweetP). This link is for a programme for 6 year olds.

Okay, Programme 43, what do you have to offer? Let's see...

The programme refers to literature as "tales", and it includes only two books. Just two! Pilgrim's Progress and Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We've been reading Pilgrim's Progress since June, using AO's Year 2 schedule for it, so we will just continue on with that. Tanglewood Tales will be a new book for us this term. Interestingly, though, there are only 39 pages of Tanglewood Tales scheduled in Programme 43. Just 39 pages for an entire term! This, I think, is very important. If I may pick on my dear Ambleside Online just a little bit, I'd do so only to say that they tend to schedule too many pages in Years 1-3. In Miss Mason's schools, two books totaling about 75 pages were all that was needed for literature in a single term of Year One.

To personalize this for our family: we are currently combining SweetP and Shug for literature (and a few other subjects). We will continue reading Pilgrim's Progress according to the AO Year 2 schedule, and we will begin reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales as our other literature selection. Here's where it gets difficult, though - only 39 pages of Hawthorne? The book is 147 pages long. What do I do? Well, I have to choose what we will read for lessons and what we will leave out. How nice for me that Tanglewood Tales is a compilation of six separate stories! "The Golden Fleece" is 26 pages long and fits in with our history readings (more on that later), so I'll definitely choose that. "The Minotaur" is 22 pages, so I'll take that, too, for a total of 48 pages. Close enough. Of course the other chapters are excellent :) I could choose any and they would do just as nicely. But, I can't pick all of the chapters if I'm trying to stick closely to Miss Mason's programmes. Too many pages. We may read the others as free reading, without narrations. One nice thing about developing the habit of liking quality books is that the girls will think it's a real treat to finish Hawthorne during break! :)

So, now I have my total page numbers for Hawthorne decided and I have my chapters picked out to match up (roughly) with the PNEU recommendations. Now, all that's left to do is divide the chapters up among the 12 weeks in the term. I like to have the 6th week light (Lindafay calls her mid-term "Grace Week") and I also like to leave the 12th week light in case we need to do some make-up readings for general life busyness. So, I divided "The Golden Fleece" up among 5 weeks and I divided "The Minotaur" up among 5 weeks. During Weeks 1-5 of the term, we will read The Golden Fleece, Week 6 we will have a little break, Weeks 7-11 of the term we will read The Minotaur and Week 12 will be free for a make-up week. This way we have about 4-5 pages of Hawthorne to read each week.

Lovely :)

If the girls narrate well from Tanglewood Tales without much trouble, I'll do all of the week's pages in one sitting (with several narrations). If the book is difficult for them, we may do 2-2.5 pages in one sitting and read the book twice a week. We always do our Pilgrim's Progress readings in one day, so this term we will be reading from our literature books 2-3 days per week, and each reading will take about 20 minutes.

One more thing :) You may have noticed that I included The Red Fairy Book in my sidebar for Shug's Year One. We've tossed in a RFB story here and there throughout the year as we have had time. SweetP and I read The Blue Fairy Book stories for her Year One last year, and I just didn't want Shug to miss out on early exposure to Lang. Some of the stories are a bit intense, though, so I didn't want to give them to her as independent free reading. Since SweetP will likely be listening in when I read the fairy stories to Shug, we're going with Red instead of Blue. The Red Fairy Book stories are new to both girls :)We may or may not narrate these Lang readings. It depends :) Pilgrim's Progress and Tanglewood Tales are our "official" literature books, though, and will always require narrations.