Category Archives: Year 1

Wrapping Up Year 1 With Kid Cuatro

Average weekly time: Together (4), alone (5), total hours (9)


Rate each book (like, neutral, dislike).

Add a few comments (my comments are italicized).

Any changes for next child or next year?


Bible/Spiritual Reading


Like. It’s about the Bible and it’s fun.

Like. I read it 1x or 2x per week at lunchtime to all the kids. Then they answer a question or two each. I like the narrative approach to the Bible.

Little Pilgrim’s Progress

Like. Loved! It’s so fun.

Like. So much better than Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (at least for the 5-10 age bracket).



50 Famous Stories

Like. Loved! So fun. One of the best stories was “what kingdom do I belong to?”

Like. I ran out of time and skipped 2-3 of the weird ones like Mignon. She liked the stories, although there are only a couple with girls.

D’Aulaire Pocahontas, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington

Like. Pocahontas became friends, BF invented so many things, and GW did not want to become king.

Like. She looked forward to these and understood a lot. Ran out of time and skipped Buffalo Bill so she can free read it next year.


Neutral. You have to write so many things and I don’t know where and it always slants –and then it’s fun.

Neutral. I don’t know how much sticks, but we only do it every 3 weeks so it’s not much effort.



Paddle to the Sea

Like. Loved! He travels to so many places.

Like. It’s the best Holling book. She needs to watch the little video.


Nature Study/Science

Among the People

Like. Loved! There are so many funny stories and morals.

Like. We had fun laughing at the silly/naughty animals and morals.

Small Square: Woods, Coral Reef, Seashore

Neutral. Seashore was the best.

Neutral. I’m getting a little tired of reading them out loud and may switch to something else next year. They are starting to feel a bit Usborne-y.

Nature Journal

Neutral. It’s kind of hard to draw. I love to draw nature and stuff. I’m always trying to make it look just right.

Neutral. I’ve had a hard time getting any of the kids to put any effort into them. I may do more directed nature journals or do object lessons next year.




Like. Loved it so much! It’s the best thing in the world. It explains the sunset and all the food she eats and Grandmama and Clara.

Like. A great read aloud.


Like. Loved it. It was so funny.

Neutral. I’m not sure why this has been so popular over time; seems like the moral is “go to school and be obedient.” Ours had some very funny translations.

Milly Molly Mandy and More Milly Molly Mandy

Like. Amazing! Cuz of all the treasure hunting and parcel story.

Like. She and Kid Cinco loved ‘em. Kids Dos and Tres often listened in 😊

Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner

Like. Cuz of the silly donkey thingy.

Like. Lol—Eyeore?

Farmer Boy

Like. Love it so much.

Like. So much food! She got into Little House and is finishing the series on her own.


Like. It was awesome.

Like. I did drawings for about the first half of each play so we could keep everyone straight.



Shakespeare Sonnets and Love Poems

Dislike. It was kinda hard to read.

Dislike. Not a success.

Ogden Nash


Neutral. Funny, but totally over kids’ heads.

AA Milne

Neutral. Some were funny and silly and some I didn’t get.

Like. I think Kid Cinco enjoyed these more than she did.



Ray’s Primary (Addition and Subtraction)

Dislike. Hated. I didn’t get a single problem.

Like. 10 minutes about 4x/week  and it is good mental math. She finished early in the year so we just focused on Miquon the last few weeks because I didn’t feel she was ready to move on to multiplication and division yet.


Dislike. Hated. It’s so hard. Except for the clock ones.

Like. Good for her, but she needs to do it with me most of the time.

I Love Math

Neutral. I read almost all of them. I read all the fun stories in every single book.

Like. I’ll have her read them next year too. It’s only 1x/week.



Pentime Handwriting

Neutral. It was hard. And it was fun to color in the stuff.

Like. She begged for it and did so much extra.



Phonics Pathways

Dislike. It was hard.

Like. Her reading level is very high. Didn’t miss not doing 100 Easy Lessons with her.

McGuffey Primer and First Reader

Like. It was fun.

Like. Lol—boring but good practice reading aloud.


Foreign Language

Duolingo Spanish, Greek, Japanese

Like. Love! So fun.

Neutral. I think the kids spend a lot of time on the computer and I have no idea how much actual language learning is going on.



Drawing Handbook

Neutral. Hard and fun.

Like. She is very hard on herself.


Picture Study

Five In A Row (Children’s Books)

Like. I loved it so much! It was so funny—Make Way For Ducklings was the funniest.

Like. I really enjoyed doing FIAR this year.



Hoffman Academy Piano

Dislike. Hated. For the first part, he made us do Hot Cross Buns.

Neutral. It’s free and is self-teaching. Kids Tres and Cuatro especially learned from it since they started from zero musical knowledge.  I’d really like to get real music lessons next year.


Overall Evaluation:

Changes for future kids? I don’t advise you to change anything for Kid Cinco’s Year 1, but you should make him do poetry (like Jelly Belly), the drawing book I did with the circles for bodies and stuff, and the picture study I used to do.

I may do more FIAR for years 0-3 or 4. I’ll probably change the science read alouds for Year 1.


Changes for next year? I’d really love Trixie Belden. For one of the read-alouds, I’d love The Dollhouse. And Heidi Grows Up.

Definitely keeping group read alouds. Maybe include some non-fiction. I think a reading log would be good for her. Also a good art program. And music lessons.





Year 1 Wrap Up for Kid Tres

Average weekly time: Together (5), Kid Tres alone (5), Total hours (10ish)


Rate each book (like, neutral, dislike).

Add a few comments (my comments are italicized).

Any changes for next child?

Bible/Spiritual Reading

AO Selections

Neutral. Some was good and some was bad. I liked the part where Saul pooped in the cave where David was.

Dislike. It’s good to cover Bible highlights, but these are stories any churched kid will get at some point, so I would rather read other parts of the Bible.

James & Philippians

Dislike. Cuz it’s very boring.

Like. Kids Dos and Tres didn’t like this much, but I liked combining them (in the interest of time), and reading books of the Bible kids aren’t usually exposed to.

More Saints

Dislike. Because I’m always the one who has to tell you about it first and it’s very boring.

Neutral. I think the first book was more engaging. A lot of these saints were very recent, and I’d rather cover older saints and martyrs, but this was a decent multi-cultural assortment.

Psalms with Daddy and other kids

Neutral. Some of it’s very fun and some of its very bad.

Like. I really appreciate DH reading a Psalm with the kids in the evenings.


50 Famous Stories

Like. I love it! There’s lots and lots of fun stories.

Like. I schedule all of them. Short and well-done.

Viking Tales

Like. Very, very, very, very good. Cuz it’s all fun.

Like. I think Kid Tres got into this book much more than Kids Dos or Uno did. He learned the geography well, too.

D’Aulaire Bios: Pocahontas, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Buffalo Bill

Like. Buffalo Bill was very interesting, and BF was neutral, GW was fun, P was fun.

Neutral. I can never decide whether or not to schedule these. Kid Tres loved them; I think the childhood parts are more interesting and understandable than the adult parts. And I get tired of the inherent racism, but since I’m reading aloud I can edit on the fly.

Little Duke

Neutral. At first I didn’t like it, and then I loved it.

Neutral. It’s not worth reading for the history, but I think the character development is good. If I am stretched for time, this is droppable for future kids, at least in YR 1 when so much goes over their heads.


Tree in the Trail

Like. I loved it, cuz it was very, very interesting.

Like. We spent a little more time looking at the maps than I did with Kid Uno, and that makes it more worthwhile as a geography book.


Neutral. I liked when the boy dived in the water and saved Seabird. Did not like when the guy threw Seabird in the water.

Dislike. I still don’t understand why this is scheduled as geography. It’s hard to follow the 4 generations, and I may sub or drop this for future kids.


One Small Square: Backyard, Rainforest, Swamp

Like. I love it! Very, very, very much.

Like. These are always fun and interesting.

Among the People

Like. I loved it, all those nice fun stories, about tree frog and the frog thought herself sick.

Like. These are keepers.

Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding

Neutral. Some I didn’t like and some I loved.

Neutral. I spent a lot of time planning and using BFSU to organize science readings and demonstrations, and not nearly as much time implanting it. It’s just not easy to use. Now that I have the whole Let’s Read and Find Out Series and a lot of other good science books, I may just read through those in future years. And if I have time and motivated kids, BFSU can be a good resource for additional discussions and projects.

Nature Journal

Dislike. Cuz it’s very boring drawing.

Like. It’s fun to watch his observations develop. I liked making a list of options for the kids to pick from at the beginning of the year.



Dislike. Very boring.

Neutral. It’s worth reading. Several plays are quite confusing. I made drawings for Comedy of Errors, and that helped us keep people straight.

Understood Betsy

Like. I loved it! Very, very fun stories.

Like. Love this book.

Robin Hood

Like. Except for in the ending cuz he died.

Like. Very time consuming, so I scheduled it in winter.

Wind in the Willows

Like. Very much. Very fun stories…when Toad got captured, and the police station, and when Toad said, “I need a doctor”.

Like. Some of it went over his head, but he understood the main bits.


Dennis Lee

Like. I love it.

Like. I was surprised how much Kid Tres loves poetry! These were fun books to start YR 1 with; much better than Stevenson.

AA Milne

Like. I love all of my poetries.

Like. Milne is great.

Book of Poems

Neutral. Some are not very fun, and some are very fun.

Like. Good assortment of poetry, nice illustrations.


Rays Primary

Dislike. It’s so boring and stuff.

Like. Simple and effective.

I Love Math

Neutral. I don’t really like it and I like it at the same time.

Like. Worthwhile.

Miquon (Orange and Red)

Neutral. Some’s really fun like evens and odds. And the bad part is some are very hard.

Like. I spent time doing it with him, and I think that helps make it less frustrating.



Neutral. Some was very hard for me (I was like 5 that time), and some was very easy, like Bs.

Like. Quick and efficient.

Pentime 2

Dislike. It’s very boring and hard and stuff.

Like. Also quick and effiecient.


100 EZ Lessons

Like. It was very fun, and short stories, and stuff.

Like. This was so easy with Kid Tres! He flew through it.

McGuffey Primer

Dislike. They’re very short stories.

Like. I intended to start with Phonics Pathways after he finished 100 EZ lessons, but it was packed deep in the garage for our basement construction, so we started McGuffey instead and it has been good practice.

Foreign Language

Salsa Spanish

Neutral. I don’t know what they’re saying, but I also like it when they’re like crying and stuff.

Neutral. The kids pick up some Spanish vocab by watching them, and they are free and short.



Neutral. Some is very hard and I cry about ‘em.

Like. Kid Tres is a perfectionist and very hard on himself, so when he starts crying over a short drawing lesson, I have him take a break or do it the next day. His drawing is very nice.

Art Treasury

Neutral. Some I love, and some I hate.

Like. This is such a good book with plenty of variety.

Youtube Videos

Like. I only like the robots.

Like. Letting him pick some instructional drawing videos is a nice way to mix up art lessons.

Picture Study


Dislike. Hate. I have to tell you all about it.

Like. I think it’s funny that he dislikes picture study.


Dislike. I hate all picture study.

Like. I thought he would like this, but I guess not.

Van Gogh

Dislike. Not at all.

Neutral. Not my favorite artist.



Dislike. I don’t know.

Like. We have all learned some good worship music.

Classical Kids CDs

Like. I like all of them, they’re all very interesting and fun.

Like. I think the Magic Flute is the best. Kid Tres and the other kids listen to these for fun A LOT!



Dislike. Cuz I have to memorize it, and I never get it memorized.

Like. The Isaiah passage I picked was a bit too long and hard for everyone, but the rest have been manageable.


Like. Only snowy day and jelly belly ones.

Like. Short and easy and cute at this age.


Pudding, Grocery Shopping, Building Chicken Coop, Meal Prep, Paper Dolls, Pumpkin Carving, Tie Dye, Paper Snowflakes, Making Lunch, Legos, Glue Gun, Boat Building, Snap Circuits, Building Snow Fort, Painting Mugs, Weaving, Kiwicrates, Puzzles, Painting, Cooking, Move Concrete, Gardening, Replacing Batteries

Like. Like, like, like, like!

Like. He’s very motivated to do most of this on his own.

Outdoor Exploration

Hiking Cecret Lake, Peace Garden, Perseid Meteor Shower, Pineview Reservoir, Ensign Peak, Thanksgiving Point Farm, Millcreek Canyon, Uintas Lofty Lake, Cross E Ranch, DC Arboretum, DC Rock Creek Park, Jordan River—Rain, Muskrats, Beaver, Ducklings, Alantic Ocean, Indian River, Fishing, Florida Zoo, Tulip Festival, Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Like. Like all of them except Peace Gardens.

Like. Including the Peace Gardens. Gilgal was weird, as were parts of Thanksgiving Point.

Sport/Physical Activity

Running, Swimming, Playgrounds, Roller Blading, Biking, Hiking, Sledding, 5k, Boogie Boarding, Kayaking, Sledding, Jump Around, Ice Skating, Snowboarding, Basketball, Bowling, Tennis, Baseball

Like. All of them.

Like. What he said.

Horseback Riding at Luki Arabians

Neutral. I want to take bowling instead of horseback riding. And horseback riding is fun but hard.

Like. Not sure if he will continue or not.

Cultural Event

Parade, Bees Game, Summer Olympics, Bluegrass Concert, Tuacahn Plays, Memorial Service, Weddings, State Fair, DC trip, Museum of American History, Nutcracker, Discovery Gateway, Indian Restaurant, Polynesian Food, Ash Wednesday, Leonardo, Paquita Ballet, Coppelia Excerpts Ballet, Orthodox Church 

Like. Except for stuff I didn’t like. I hated the Orthodox church, the Ash Wednesday service, the DC trip, and Polynesian food.

Like. I don’t think he really disliked DC though.


Hosting Friends for Dinner, Babysitting, Hosting Housechurch, Taking Food and Flowers to Friends and Neighbors, Sunday Serve, VOA with Housechurch, Helping Mommy after surgery, Pioneer Park w/ Rescue Mission, Visiting Grammy

Like. All of those I like.

Like. I think we could do more, but we were more intentional than last year, so that was an improvement.

Overall evaluation: Kid Tres is a super-sweet kid to work with. I combined him with Kid Dos for several readings to reduce my workload. They are pretty close in abilities at this point. I was a bit concerned that it would be too hard/too much for him, and I think Little Duke, Seabird, Robin Hood, and Wind in the Willows were tougher for him than they would have been next year, but he really did well. The year began with single word or phrase narrations and he grew a lot over the year in his descriptions and comprehension. He loves stories, and I’m looking forward to doing the Year 1 readings like Aesop and James Herriot with him next year. He was so easy to teach for reading lessons; it was a relief! Kid Tres is also fairly self-motivated with projects, especially if they involve figuring out how things work. We started strong with all the readings this year, but it got hard in the middle with my unexpected surgery, and toward the end with basement construction. I pared down some reading in the middle of the year. We had so much travel and so many activities—it’s been a very full year! There’s not a lot I would change for future children; I feel like the books and all our activities are enjoyable and well-rounded…it’s just a matter of fitting in so much good stuff.


Kid Uno’s Year 1 Course of Study

This is how we did Year 1 with Kid Uno. I’ve noted where we have dropped, added, or substituted books. I’ve also noted changes planned for Kid Dos.



  • (Daily) She worked through the Grade Two and Grade Three penmanship workbooks from Rod & Staff, spending about 5-10 minutes a day completing a lesson or half a lesson.


  • (Daily) We worked through the addition and subtraction sections of Ray’s Primary Arithmetic. Twice! The first time through sequentially with beans and marbles; the second time through alternating addition with subtraction, mostly working out the problems in her head. Then we worked through the addition and subtraction exercises in the Eclectic Manual.
  • (Weekly) I read her one or two lessons from the Life of Fred series. She wrote answers on paper or a whiteboard.
  • (Weekly) She did several pages from the Miquon Orange and Red books. I assigned the pages, sometimes explained how to do things, and corrected them.
  • (Weekly) She picked a book from the I Love Math series and read whatever she wanted (for about 20-30 minutes)


  • (Weekly) Kid Uno read aloud the passages scheduled by AO, and then narrated. Sometimes we discussed the reading.
  • (Daily) We usually read to all the kids from Egermeier’s or The Jesus Storybook Bible.
  • (2-3x Weekly) At the beginning of the year, I had printed the free verse packs from Simply Charlotte Mason. Kid Uno picked one each week to memorize. They were short, but totally out of context, and she didn’t really remember them. So for the 3rd term, I picked Psalm 136, and we memorized it together. That was much more satisfying!


  • (Daily) We took turns reading the scheduled AO poets.
  • She memorized one poem (the shortest poem in each book) per term


  • We read the three scheduled American History bios and also added Pocahontas by the d’Aulaires.
  • Our Island Story: We read this as scheduled the first two terms, and then I dropped it. I am thinking of using it in Year 4, but it’s too much British history for us, and a slightly over the head of a 7 year old.
  • Fifty Famous Stories Retold and Viking Tales: Read as scheduled but not all the chapters were scheduled. I assigned the remainder to Kid Uno to read herself, and narrate. For Kid Dos, I plan to schedule all the chapters in these two books in lieu of Our Island Story.
  • Trial and Triumph: Read as scheduled.
  • I printed a free timeline from SCM and put it in a 3 ring binder. Every couple weeks, Kid Uno added some names and dates from our readings.


  • Paddle to the Sea: We read as scheduled.
  • We used a little globe and a big US map to find places we read about.

Natural History/Science

  • Handbook of Nature Study: We didn’t touch it, and I don’t plan to. It’s for the teacher, not the student. It’s not open-and-go, and I think there are better modern options. I’m considering using The Amateur Naturalist and/or The Nature Handbook: A Guide to Observing the Great Outdoors for the other kids and future years.
  • (Weekly) Instead, we used Nature Connection. We started with the weather section, since Kid Uno is into weather, and then finished with the naturalist section. We’ll do the monthly section in Year 2.
  • (Weekly) She also kept a nature journal through the year. I usually assigned her something specific outside to draw or paint.
  • (Weekly) We also read three of the One Small Square series. There are twelve books, and I plan to read them all in Years 1-3. They cover various habitats, with the various animals and plants that live there.
  • (Daily) All our kids spend at least an hour outside daily, regardless of the weather. They get lots of nature time!
  • James Herriot’s Treasury and The Burgess Bird Book for Children: We read these as scheduled. James Herriot was great; Burgess Bird not so much. Kid Uno picked up a little info about birds, but I can’t stand reading it aloud, so it will go in the Free Read pile for the next kids. For Kid Dos, I will probably keep the AO theme of birds, but use The First Book of Birds. And maybe something by Jim Arnosky or John James Audubon. 


  • We read all the AO selections except
  • Parables from Nature. I pre-read a couple of the stories, and couldn’t stand the moralizing. Also, most of the forum comments I read said that the Year 1 children couldn’t understand much of it at all, and it took one or two years to grow into. So I decided not to bother, and instead we read from
  • Among the….People. They are much more palatable. If we read 33 chapters per year, we will read all the books by Year 3.
  • For Shakespeare, we read Lamb’s. Then listened to it on Librivox. Then watched most of the plays on YouTube.


  • (Weekly) I picked one artist per term (Caravaggio, Van Gogh, and John Singer Sargent), and bought a coffee table art book by each artist. I picked one painting each week for Picture Study.
  • (Daily) Kid Uno did one lesson daily from Drawing Textbook (unless she had another art project scheduled).
  • At the beginning of the year, I bought all the art supplies for the Usborne Art Treasury, and set them aside for school. Kid Uno picked one project every other week, and did it herself.
  • On alternate weeks, she did free YouTube drawing lessons by Shoo Rayner, Mark Kistler, and Jan Brett.
  • Kid Uno and Kid Dos took four lessons at a little art studio.


  • (Weekly) We bought the Classical Kids set of CDs, and I split them up fairly evenly (and in chronological order) to be listened to through the year. I’m not sure they were worth the cost; we’ll see how Kid Dos likes them.
  • Both girls love watching ballet on YouTube, so they also listened to a lot of classical music.
  • Hymns: I asked DH to pick some favorites, and then printed and filed them. We sang them together a couple times a week (and went over the vocabulary). We sang four Christmas hymns during Advent, and about one per month the rest of the year. They aren’t memorized, but they are more familiar now.
  • Folksong: Does watching WeeSing DVDs count?

Foreign Language


  • Weaving potholders on a little loom
  • Helping build and paint a treehouse
  • Baking and chopping vegetables
  • Planting, weeding, and harvesting a garden
  • Sewing
  • Caring for bunnies
  • Chores: washing dishes, putting away laundry, emptying wastebaskets
  • Helping care for a new baby brother
  • Organizing toys and books
  • and so on

Free Reads

  • Kid Uno is a reader. She flew through the AO suggested free reads in the first couple weeks. So I pulled heavily from other booklists the rest of the year.


  • Swim lessons at the rec center
  • Soccer at the rec center
  • Playing tennis with grandparents
  • Hiking and bike riding


There’s so much we can count as “school”! Pretty much just life in general. But I tried to keep track of the extras we did like

  • Keeping a bird feeder and hummingbird feeder
  • Taking a trip to Washington, DC
  • Having a zoo membership
  • Camping and hiking
  • Writing letters
  • Selling lemonade
  • Visiting family and hosting friends


  • At the end of each term, DH spent about two days doing exams with Kid Uno. I used the AO exams for Year 1, tweaking to fit the books we used. He took notes for me to read later, and I listened in when I could.

And that was our first version of Ambleside’s Year 1!

Year 1 Wrap-up for Kid Dos

Year 1 Wrap Up for Kid Dos

Average weekly time: Together (4 hours), Kid Dos independently (4), total 8 hours

 Rate each book or activity (like, neutral, dislike).

Add a few comments.

Any changes for next child?

(My answers are italicized)



AO Bible Selections

Like. It’s about God.

Like.  Short readings covering standard Bible stories.


Liked it a ton. Loved it. I don’t know; it’s just fun to listen to, and it’s about God.

Like. Short, concise, informative. Lovely illustrations. Part way through the book, I realized a lot of the words and ideas were unfamiliar, so I started introducing vocabulary before reading the story, and that helped Kid Dos’s understanding.


50 Famous Stories

Neutral. They were short but they were interesting.

Like. It’s kind of a weird collection of stories. Mignon? My second time through this book, and I still don’t get why that is included. And the Pocohontas version is terrible. But most are fine. I schedule all of them, in chronological order.

Viking Tales

Like. Love it! It was cool. It told a lot about different lands. It helped me find some on the globe and memorize it.

Like. This was even better the second time around. We did a lot of mapping, and I introduced vocabulary before readings.

 D’aulaires’ Pocohontas

 Like. Loved it! It was cool. It was about one of my favorite Disney princesses. It was about showing love, how she rescued the man. How all the animals were bigger than the people at the end. It was very interesting.

Like. It’s the standard version of her life, but all the illustrations maximize the interesting cultural aspects and minimize the rah-rah-pilgrims stuff.

D’aulaires’ Benjamin Franklin

Neutral. It was about a boy, so that was the bad part.

Neutral. Not the most engaging storytelling after the childhood part.

D’aulaires’ George Washington

Like. He had a horse.

Like. Fairly interesting.

D’aulaires’ Buffalo Bill

Neutral. It was interesting.

Neutral. Had to do some on-the-fly editing with Indian references. Some good mapping.


Dislike. Hate it; terrible. Boring—it’s writing.

Neutral. Kind of a drag, but it’s only every three weeks, and it pays off later.


One Small Square Woods

Dislike. Boring.

Neutral. Very Eastern—we don’t have those kinds of woods around here, so when we tried doing a small square on the Jordan River, it didn’t work so well. And it was winter 😉

One Small Square Seashore

Neutral. It has birds.

Like. Read right after their trip to Florida, so some of it came alive.

One Small Square Savanna

Like. Loved it. It had everything about animals—elephants, lions, zebras, buffaloes.

Like. This one is easy to follow.

One Small Square Pond

Neutral. It was kinda boring and hard to understand.

Like. Fairly interesting. Some overlap with Among the People.

 Among the People

Neutral. Kinda interesting, kind boring, kinda weird.

Like. I thought the eels crawling through mud was totally out there, until I googled it and it is true! And the humor is great at times.

James Herriot

Love. It was about animals—sheep, ton of cats, cow, dogs. It was so fun and interesting, and there were veterinarians which tried to help the animals. I liked all the color and detail.

Like. Such great illustrations, and he is such a warm writer. I look forward to Kid Dos reading his adult works  when she’s older (if she’s still obsessed with animals).

Paddle to the Sea

Neutral. Kinda boring.

Neutral. The first half is nicely paced and lends itself to mapping, but the last half seems rushed, and it is totally anti-climactic. Kid Dos didn’t even realize he had made it to the sea. I like Holling C. Holling, but his use of dialogue to narrate doesn’t work very well, especially for read alouds.

Nature Journal

Dislike. It’s all about drawing pictures and it’s boring.

Like. Term 1 was the best, when I scheduled topics ahead of time. The other terms were haphazard, which were ok.

Nature Connection

Dislike. Hate. The worst besides handwriting. You had to write, you had to go outside in bad weather when sometimes you wanted to stay in the house.

Neutral. I think it is worthwhile, but it is redundant now that I have more experience and more resources for nature study. I am dropping it or minimizing it for Kid Tres (trying to streamline); I may have Kid Dos do the weather section next year.


Blue Fairy

Like. Interesting, and it had Beauty and the Beast in it.

Like. I picked some different stories from Kid Uno’s Year 1.

Lamb’s Shakespeare

Neutral. Kid Uno likes it and I didn’t really like it. She always picked it to be last and I wanted Saints to be last.

Like. Especially Hamlet, since I’ve never read it before. I get some of the others mixed up since they are formulaic, but they are all good.

 Aesop’s Fables

Neutral. Short but interesting, and there were animals it.

Neutral. These are classic, of course, but I don’t know why everyone says they are easy. They are so short, it’s almost ridiculous to narrate afterward, and I’ve given up on expecting the kids to understand the morals. I’m going to do the Provensen version with Kid Dos to change things up a bit.

Just So Stories

Like. Story about elephant and crocodile that pulled its trunk out.

Like. I liked this so much better the second time around! Considering getting a nicer edition than Yesterday’s Classics, since the illustrations are worthless in our copy.

A Child’s Garden of Verses

Dislike. Boring, and all about rhyming things.

Neutral. I get this and Book of Poems confused. The illustrations are the best part. I don’t care so much for Stevenson. I may swap The Llama Who Had No Pajamas or something similar for Kid Tres.

A.A. Milne

Like. Cuz bears in the squares.

Like. Actually, I love Milne. I think his cleverness totally goes over kids’ heads, but he makes childhood so poignant. Kid Dos latched on to a couple of the poems, and wanted to read them every time 🙂

Book of Poems

Dislike. I had to read some, and I don’t like reading out loud.

Neutral. A lot of sappy poems.


Ray’s Primary Arithmetic

Dislike. Hate. It was terrible, it was boring, and it was math.

Like. I know Kid Dos doesn’t like it, but it is so simple, effective, and short. We finished addition and subtraction, and began multiplication.

Life of Fred

Like. It was funny, cuz it was a five year old boy who had a math class, and a long pointy nose, and…

Dislike. Actually closer to hate. Just inane, and she learns absolutely no math. The only redeeming quality is that she associates something funny with math. We got through Apples and Butterflies, I am done reading them forever; considered selling since they were spendy, but will probably hang on to them and just let the kids read them when they want to.


Dislike. Math again.

Like. Such a good complement to Ray’s. She worked through parts of Red and Orange. Got stuck on the multiplication parts, so that’s where we’ll pick up next year.

I Love Math

Neutral. It was reading.

Like. This is really a great set. The kids all read these books just for fun sometimes.


Printing Workbook

Dislike. Boring.

Like. Cheap, quick, and effective. But I didn’t spend enough time instructing her letter formation; she does some letters wrong, and I need to correct her.

Rod & Staff Penmanship Grade 2

Neutral. It’s hard.

Like. Cheap, quick, effective, and pretty.


McGuffey’s Primers and First Reader

Like. It’s better than Phonics Pathways.

Like. Those hit-you-over-head morals from the 1800s are something else! They make me snicker every time. Kid Dos liked reading them because they were real stories, compared with Phonics Pathways nonsense sentences.

Phonics Pathways

Dislike. Terrible, nonsense.

Like. Kid Dos hated this (“it’s all nonsense”) but the phonics were SO important for her. And it is way better than OPGTR!



Neutral. I don’t like singing very much.

Like. I love when we have learned one, and then we sing it at church, and she is so excited because she knows this one!

Classical Kids CDs

Like. Love. SO fun and awesome because there were grown up people singing and it was fun to hear.

Like. Papageno and the magic flute will forever be associated with Kid Dos’s Year 1.

Music Lessons

Like. Love. It was fun and I’m twins with Daddy.

Like. Her piano lessons have been very worthwhile.

Memorization & Recitation


Dislike. It was hard.

Like. I like being able to choose something meaningful for her to memorize. And she has a flawless memory.


Neutral. It was fun to memorize Five Little Chickens.

Like. Her bears in the squares and little chicks recitations were adorable. Her whole life is animal themed.


Drawing Textbook

Dislike. Hard and boring.

Like. Simple and effective.

Usborne Treasury of Art

Dislike. Hate. I hate art.

Like. It’s interesting seeing Kid Dos do these projects, since she doesn’t love that type of art. This book is well done.

Drawing Videos

Like. It was Jan Brett and she drew animals.

Like. Jan Brett on YouTube.

Theatre at Children’s Theatre

Like. Love. It was so nice. I liked singing Be Our Guest. I liked my teacher. It was fun. One of the bad parts was one of the girls was hyper and she was so loud.

Like. It was rough getting Kids Uno and Dos here during the winter at naptime with a new baby. But they really enjoyed it, and I think they learned some voice and public speaking and memorization skills.


Picture Study


Dislike. Hate. Boring and it was all about telling pictures.

Like. I thought she would love this, but she didn’t really. She liked the color prints better than the black and white. Anyway, I love Escher!

 Van Gogh

Dislike. Hate. Boring, terrible, it was all about studying some old pictures.

Neutral. But I don’t think this book is the best representation of his work.


Dislike. It was not fun. It was a waste of time.

Like. She liked the ones with Biblical themes, but not the nudity. So we didn’t look at most of the naked ones. Most of the saints and Biblical characters tied in nicely with this year’s readings.


Emily’s Co-op

Like. Love. It was fun. Our teacher was someone who we know, one of the BEST teachers. We did a science project, we did some nice plays, I like how she designed it. It was  NOT a waste of time.

Like. Emily was amazing to do this. Three hours every Friday morning for several weeks. The three older kids all learned some finger-knitting and Spanish, played parts in a fairy tale play, and did some nature journaling, and loved being with friends. The kids loved it.

Knitting, Weaving, Beeswax Candles, Microscope, Pet Care, Decorating Church for Easter, Clay, Cutting Apples, Making Lunch, Opening Pomegranates, Grocery Shopping, Legos, Beading, Gingerbread House, Baking Cookies, Brownies, Cake, and Pies, Felting Soap, Paper Cutting, Play Doh, Hand Sewing, Fairy House, Eco Art, Paper Fans, Building Fort, Harvesting Pine Nuts

Like. Love, love, love. It’s fun.

Like. It’s all good!

Outdoor Exploration

Perseid Meteor Shower in West Desert, Big Cottonwood Canyon, Millcreek Canyon, Peace Garden, Sheepdog Festival, Week at Cabin in Grover, Tracey Aviary, Wheeler Farm, Neighborhood Seed Walk, Jordan River, Cattails, Aerospace Museum, Stockton, Treehouse, Tulip Festival, Thanksgiving Point, Discovery Gateway, Camping in Uintas, Week in Florida

Like. Love. It was fun. I love seeing the meteor shower cuz I was with cactus.

Like. One of the best parts of homeschooling.

Sports/Physical Activity

Ballet at Missio

Like. Love. I love my teachers. They’re very nice. They care for people, especially B– when he broke his arm. They teach us, and it’s not a waste of time.

Like. It’s free, the quality is equivalent to SLC Ballet which is not free, it’s close, DH usually takes them, and their performance was very sweet. It’s a keeper.


Like. It was hard but fun, and I’ve done two 5ks in my lifetime.

Like. DH times the kids running around the block, and tracks their records on a spreadsheet. And Kid Dos ran her first 5k this year—and won her age group!

 Hikes, Bike Rides, Tennis, Yard Golf, Bounce House, Snow Play, Sledding, Ice Skating, Swimming

Like. Love. It was fun

Like. All great activities.


Neutral. It’s a boy’s sport but I met a new friend.

Like. This was 4 weeks on a county rec team with Kid Tres. Low key, low commitment, her baseball skills improved, and they had fun being “baseball buddies”.


Like. Love. I liked doing handstands, cartwheels, front rolls.

Like. All four older kids took several weeks of classes at the rec center. It was a good cheap way to see if they were all really interested like they said they were. I think we’ll do it again this winter.


Overall evaluation: Our family is very strong in spending time reading, crafting, sporting, socializing, and spending time outside. We have acquired Legos and more board games this year; Kid Dos has enjoyed both. She spends a lot of time with the bunnies and chickens. She is currently obsessed with horses, and  A Horse Called Wonder was the first chapter book she finished. At the beginning of the year, it was a struggle to get through her reading lessons, but after many doses of Zita the Space Girl, Billy and Blaze, and some other books, it finally started clicking. She took the DORA/ADAM which were useful to me. She’s at or above grade level in everything except geometry. I need to look ahead and see if our maths eventually cover geometry [since Kid Uno also scored low in that], or if I should add something. Origami? 😉 I wanted to use more media this year but we really didn’t. Better to err on the side of too little, I guess. Next year I am putting some movies/documentaries/music right on the schedule so I remember to do them. Kid Dos does enjoy online math games, Starfall, Wild Kratts, and watching ballet and sports. I’m very happy with the changes I made to Year 1 the second time around; I’m making a couple minor tweaks to streamline it for Kid Tres next year since he will combine with Kid Dos for a few things. The distribution of work throughout the week is just right; it’s only take me three years to perfect our schedules. 🙂



Year 1 Wrap-up for Kid Uno (her version)

If you want to know what a Year 1 student really thinks of the Ambleside Online selections, you’re in the right place. Here are Kid Uno’s year-end summaries, in her own words (my Year 1 page has links for everything we used):

  • Rate each book (like, neutral, dislike).
  • Add a few comments.


A Child’s Garden of Verses

Dislike. It’s hard to read and not very interesting.

When We Were Young & Now We Are Six

Neutral. There are only a few poems that I like. One is the Sailor and there are a few others.

A Child’s Book of Poetry

Neutral. But I loved Christina Rossetti.  I kind of didn’t like the rest.

Classical Kids CDs

Like. Mostly Song of Unicorn, Hallelujah Handel, Vivaldi, Mozart’s Magical Fantasy.


Neutral. My favorite was Crown Him With Many Crowns.


Tales From Shakespeare

Like. It was fun and there were lots of exciting stories.

Blue Fairy Book

Like. It was fun–lots of magic fairies, beautiful girls, and stuff.

Just So Stories

Like. There were lots of animals, and my favorite was How the Elephant Got his Trunk, Leopard, Butterfly.

Aesop’s Fables

Like. I loved it because it has such fun stories.


One Small Square Cave

Like. Really fun. I liked how it told me about the caves.

One Small Square Swamp

Neutral. It wasn’t very interesting.

One Small Square Arctic Tundra

Like. It told me lots of things about the tundra.

James Herriot’s Treasury

Like. I loved it. You should know I loved it! It had lots of stories about animals and I like animal stories a lot.

Burgess Bird Book

Neutral. Told a lot about animals but just about birds. I like animals but not really birds. One bird I loved in that story was the Welcome Robin.

Among the …. People

Like. That was fun because it was about lots of animals.

Nature Connection

Neutral. It was just about nature not animals or stories.


Trial and Triumph

Neutral. It had not very fun stories; just about people and not what that said.

50 Famous Stories

Like. They’re really exciting. It tells a lot about people, and I get to read some [independently], and it tells about a few people I already know.

Our Island Story

Neutral. A few fun stories and a few not good stories.

Viking Tales

Like. I love them….King Harald the Great!


d’Aulaires Pocahontas

Neutral.  I liked it but it’s not very fun. It had just Indians and I don’t like just stories about Indians because they scare me [I think this response actually arises from Kid Uno’s immersion in the Little House books…I need to find some good books where the Indians aren’t constantly portrayed as “savages”].

d’Aulaires Benjamin Franklin

Like. I loved him and Washington. Wasn’t he [Franklin] a president?

d’Aulaires Buffalo Bill

Like. You already know that I like it! He’s really exciting. The only people I don’t like in it are the raiders that try to hurt him and the Indians even though they are his friends.

d’Aulaires George Washington

Like. That he was so brave.


Paddle to the Sea

Like. I loved it–it was so exciting.


Rod&Staff Penmanship 2

Dislike. They are so hard.

Rod&Staff Penmanship 3

Dislike. It’s hard to copy the words, and it’s long.


Life of Fred

Like. I loved LoF. It helps me do it and then it has fun stories.

I Love Math books

Like. I loved them when I first did them but they aren’t interesting anymore.

Ray’s Primary Arithmetic

Dislike. It was really hard.


Dislike. Because they are so hard and take a lot of time.


Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

Dislike. No way, Jose. I don’t like reading out loud.

McGuffey’s Second Reader

Like. I love it. I get to learn a few things…like about sharing…and about selfishness.


John Singer Sargent

Dislike. It’s so hard to remember.

Van Gogh

Like. I got to see a few interesting and beautiful pictures.


Neutral. It’s hard.


Art Treasury

Neutral. It’s kind of hard, and I did the first easy ones which were really nice but then I didn’t really like the others.

Drawing Textbook

Dislike. It’s too hard. At least the first easy ones were fun but I didn’t like the last ones which were hard.

Youtube Drawing Videos

Like. Because I got to draw a lot of things.

Nature Journal

Neutral. I have to draw things that I don’t want to do.

Mesa Art Classes

Like. Loved! Because I got to draw a whole lot of things that I liked to do. And I got to learn a few things about drawing. That you should draw it carefully and not hurry. That you can mix things together and make pretty colors. And you should draw a line like this–a horizon line.



Like. I loved it because I got to learn a whole lot of things like kicking it with the side of your foot. But with your toe if you are kicking in in the goal. And you should shove a little bit if the person has the ball. And that I should be happy if I lose or I win, and that everyone wins. A— told me that everyone wins. Does everyone win? I got to have the ball a few times, and got to kick it to the goal. And I had a few friends. And there were a few people cheering for us. The one thing I don’t like about soccer is that I don’t like that one team said we look easy, and we’re not easy, we’re hard. And I got to run a lot, and A— talked to me a lot and helped me. And soccer was the funnest sport of my life. And I get to be with my friends.

Year 1 Wrap-Up for Kid Uno (my version)

If you’re wondering what we really think of the Ambleside Online selections for Year 1, you’ve come to the right place. These are my thoughts and notes to myself from the end of the year (my Year 1 page has links to everything we used):


  • Average weekly time: Together (5 hours), Kid Uno alone (2.5), total 7.5
  • Rate each book (like, neutral, dislike).
  • Add a few comments.
  • Any changes for next child?

Poetry and Recitation

A Child’s Garden of Verses

Neutral. Sentimental and a few racist. Classic, and several fun poems. Nice illustrations.

When We Were Very Young & Now We Are Six

Like. Funny and child-like and fun to read.

A Child’s Book of Poetry

Like. Nice selection. Beautiful illustrations. Rosetti was Kid Uno’s favorite poet.



Classical Kids CDs

Like. Kid Uno liked stories. Not as much emphasis on music as I hoped.


Like. Need to re-type and correct the gender-neutral versions for future years.



Tales From Shakespeare

Like. Very long. Difficult to read aloud (vocabulary, names, dialogue, long sentences). Need to look up name pronunciations in advance. Read and narrate in very small segments. I usually narrated instead of Kid Uno. Review characters frequently. Listen to on Librivox after reading. Watch play after reading. Kid Uno especially liked the female characters.

Blue Fairy Book

Like. Very long. Change schedule so they don’t coincide with Shakespeare readings. Kid Uno’s best narrations were probably from this.

Just So Stories

Like. Very long. N-word and some other racism in Leopard. Hard to read aloud at first but got easier and will be more fun second time around. Kid Uno enjoyed.

Aesop’s Fables

Like. Very short. Almost verbatim narrations. Kid Uno enjoyed and finished rest of book.


One Small Square Cave

Like. Good illustrations and organization. Not easy to narrate but retained fair amount.

One Small Square Swamp

Like. Good illustrations and organization. Not easy to narrate but retained fair amount.

One Small Square Arctic Tundra

Like. Good illustrations and organization. Not easy to narrate but retained fair amount.

James Herriot’s Treasury

Like. Good stories, beautifully illustrated. Old, but not dated. One of Kid Uno’s favorites.

Burgess Bird Book

Dislike. Boring, repetative,  and conversation is dull to read aloud. Birds are difficult to keep straight with nicknames and without pictures. Kid Uno may have learned a bit about identifying birds based on plumage and nests, but I will look for something better (Arnosky?) and either ditch this or use as free read with next child.

Among the …. People

Like. Old and quaint. Nice combo of accurate animal descriptions and slight moral. It grew on us.

Nature Connection

Like. Practical and versatile. Weather section was good for Kid Uno’s current interests.



Trial and Triumph

Like. Difficult to read aloud, and mostly over Kid Uno’s head. Specialized and advanced vocabulary. Need to look up name pronunciations and define lots of words in advance. I learned a lot of church history. An older kid would get more out of it, but it’s ok as a read-aloud at this level. Slight Protestant slant so far but not anti-Catholic.

50 Famous Stories

Like. Short and interesting. Good narrations from Kid Uno. I learned a lot too. Schedule in entirety and in chronological order for next child.

Our Island Story

Neutral. Well-written, but more appropriate for older kid. I ditched after 2nd term; decided that much detailed British history was not what I want to focus on this year or next 2 years. Maybe for student to read alone in Year 4 or 5. Not much retention except for Boadicea 🙂

Viking Tales

Like. Need to define lots of vocabulary in advance. Good mapping. I learned a lot, and Kid Uno had good narrations. Nice combo of anthropology, mythology, battles, and history. Incorporate 2nd half of book with next child.


d’Aulaires Pocahontas

Like. Nice to have a female history character.

d’Aulaires Benjamin Franklin

Like. He came alive. Lots of mapping.

d’Aulaires Buffalo Bill

Neutral. Mostly like, but uncomfortable with “savage” Native American depictions. May ask DH for second opinion. Lots of mapping.

d’Aulaires George Washington

Neutral. Mostly like, but uncomfortable with “happy slave” depictions.



Paddle to the Sea

Like. Short. Lots to map. Fairly engaging story. Positive (if slightly stereotypical) depiction of Native American.



Rod&Staff Penmanship 2

Like. Mostly self-directed, takes about 10 minutes a day. Beautiful penmanship, and I like that the copywork is Bible and bird/animal themes.

Rod&Staff Penmanship 3

Like. Mostly self-directed, takes about 10 minutes a day. Beautiful penmanship, and I like that the copywork is Bible and bird/animal themes.



Life of Fred

Like. Kid Uno loves it. Fun, and concepts I’ve never heard of (commutative principle). Apples, Butterflies, most of Cats.

I Love Math books

Like. I actually haven’t looked at them much; Kid Uno likes to pore over them for about 20 min. as an assignment 1-2x week.

Ray’s Primary Arithmetic

Like. Methodical and easy to use (with Eclectic series teacher guide). Have thoroughly covered addition and subtraction with single digit carrying and borrowing up to 100. Boring for Kid Uno, but we do it daily and she spots patterns and likes the word problems.


Like. Have done most of orange and some of red. Takes a lot of preparation for me since it’s an unfamiliar method. Will be easier for me second time around. Love that it introduces concepts (like equations and negative numbers) far earlier than traditional math. Also measurements and geometry and time not covered (so far) by Rays. Kid Uno does several pages 1-2x per week. Usually enjoys it.

Bible and Memorization

Ambleside Online Bible Selections

Like. Good selection; maybe a bit short and sparse. Frequently need to provide context. Would like to discuss a little more than we did. Kid Uno reads aloud from NIV.

Simply Charlotte Mason Verse Packs

Dislike. Liked at first because free and self-directed, but dropped after 2nd term as the verses were so random and out-of-context. Memorized Ps. 136 together for 3rd term. Big improvement.



Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading

Dislike. SO BORING for us both. And at least 2 typos and weird formatting. Flew through the first .75 of book. Last .25 helpful for covering phonics, syllables, roots, etc. but there’s got to be something better for phonics follow-up of 100 EZ Lessons.

McGuffey’s Second Reader

Like. Great for student read-aloud skills. Great for vocabulary. Will be great for spelling and recitation if we need it in the future. I find the extreme moralistic tone highly entertaining, and Kid Uno loves the stories. Covers interesting topics.


Art Appreciation

John Singer Sargent

Like. Pictures are small.

Van Gogh

Like. Not as many familiar paintings as I anticipated.


Like. Good size pictures.

Art Instruction

Art Treasury

Like. Kid Uno complained about it but produced nice art. Great selection of artwork. I bought and consolidated all the supplies at the beginning of the year, and it was nearly all self-directed after that.

Drawing Textbook

Like. Kid Uno complains but does one lesson daily and seems to have incorporated some principles into her regular drawing. Usually self-directed, but pretty easy for me to demonstrate if she needs help.

Youtube Drawing Videos

Like. Free. Kid Uno loves them. Lots of variety.

Nature Journal

Like. Combo of observation and art. About 1x per week. Might help to make it a bit more methodical but I think it’s ok as-is.

Mesa Art Classes

Neutral. Kid Uno and Kid Dos loved them, but I don’t think they learned much art for the amount of my time and money invested. More of a social experience.



Soccer at Rec Center

Like. A fun family experience if not a lot of skill-building 🙂 Kid Uno loved it.