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AO Year 8

AmblesideOnline/House of Education Online - Year 8

History studied in Year 8: 1400's-1688 (Renaissance to Reformation)
Term 1: 1400-1605; Term 2: 1605-1649; Term 3: 1649-1688

Note: These booklists and curriculum suggestions are incomplete without a thorough understanding of Charlotte Mason's ideas and methods. We cannot emphasize enough that you take time to familiarize yourself with her philosophy by reading her books.

AmblesideOnline has provided detailed weekly schedules for these books in various formats: Html List; PDF; DOC, ODT

Click to view:

Book titles are linked to Project Gutenberg (which offers free etexts in a variety of formats) or other online text when no Project Gutenberg text is available.
β -, another free ebook site.
Δ - free etext at
K - free Kindle text from
($) - hard-copy book purchase from
(K) - Kindle purchase from
- free audiobook at Lit2Go
Ω - free audiobook at Librivox [Audio Note]
- other free audiobook source
[0] - Click the bracketed numeral to view a note about the book near the bottom of the page.
[0] - red footnotes indicate a heads-up for parents about the title. We are unable to foresee every incident that might potentially be an issue to every family, but we have red-flagged those that are commonly a concern.

Asterisks refer to which term the book is used:
      * Term 1
     ** Term 2
   *** Term 3

This is a collection of some of the best resources for this time period. Even Advisory members aren't able to cover all of these with every single one of their own students and have to be selective. Feel free to pick and choose from among these suggestions. The best choice may just be the book you already own, and the one from which your student can narrate. (If this looks overwhelming for your student, you might consider plan B - a lightened load for year 8. See it here).

Bible and Christian Theology

The Bible Online Bibles [1]

Suggested Devotional Reading
* A Ready Defense: The Best of Josh McDowell ($), OR The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel ($ K) OR Evidence That Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell ($)
** Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis ($earch K) OR More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell ($ K)
*** Desiring God, by John Piper ($ K) [4]
Optional: Saints and Heroes, Vol 2, by George Hodges Δ (Heritage History) ($ K) [2]

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Make a century chart and Century Book of the period studied. [tl]

The New World, by Winston Churchill ($ K) [5]

History Supplements/Speeches

* A slightly abridged version of Martin Luther's defense before the Diet of Worms
** Queen Elizabeth's speech to the Spanish Armada, July 29, 1588 (this is included in the text of Churchill's book)
*** John Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions - Meditation XVII


* A Man For All Seasons, by Robert Bolt ($) [6]
* Life of Sir Francis Bacon, by William Rawley (very short)
* ** The Voyage of the Armada The Spanish Story, by David Howarth ($)
** "A Relation Or Journal of the Beginnings and proceedings of the English Plantation settled at Plymouth" (pdf of journal entries of the original settlers) [7]
** The Life of Dr. [John] Donne, by Izaak Walton (fairly short) Δ Δ
** *** A Coffin for King Charles, by C. V. Wedgwood ($ [8]
Galileo's Daughter, by Dava Sobel ($ K) OR, as a last resort, Galileo chapter from Great Astronomers, by R.S. Ball
*** Chapter 23 (the epilogue) from "Oliver Cromwell and the Rule of the Puritans in England," by Sir Charles Firth [9]

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* Christopher Columbus, Mariner, by Samuel Eliot Morison ($) [10] OR The Life of Christopher Columbus, by Edward Everett Hale β Δ (K [11])
** *** Kon Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl ($) OR ** The Discovery of Muscovy etc., by Richard Hakluyt β Δ ($ K) and *** The Discovery of Guiana, by Sir Walter Raleigh β Δ K

Alternative suggestions are listed on page of geography options.

Map Drills
Ten minutes of map drills each week [geo]
Locate places from the day's reading on a map

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Government and Economics

Whatever Happened to Justice, by Richard Maybury ($) If you don't use this book, at least be sure to read I, Pencil, by Leonard Read; this short essay is included in ch 15.
Optional: The Story of the Constitution: Second Edition, by Sol Bloom (Christian Liberty Press; $) There is a teacher's edition/answer key available. ($purchase from CBD) [12a]


Ourselves, by Charlotte Mason ($) [12]
Plutarch's Lives - follow AO's Plutarch rotation. [13]
* ** Utopia, by Sir Thomas More β Δ ($) Ω (also listed by book/chapter) We suggest the modern translation by Paul Turner.
Francis Bacon essays (listed by title) β Δ ($), selected essays [14]

Current Events

Students should have a plan for keeping up with current events. [15]

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Shakespeare - Continue with AmblesideOnline Rotation.
The History of English Literature for Girls and Boys, by H.E. Marshall ch 32-59 β Δ (K) [16]
* Everyman, a Morality Play Δ ($ K) Ω (a slightly less archaic version is here)
* ** Westward Ho!, by Charles Kingsley β Δ ($) weeks 1-18 (study guide here)
*** excerpted copy of The Diary of Samuel Pepys (the part detailing The Plague and The Great Fire) and excerpts from his entries on the plague. [18]
** *** I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), by Alessandro Manzoni β Δ Ω [19]
*** The Holy War, by John Bunyan β Δ ($) Ω [20]


* Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves, by Roy Maynard; (read online) ($) [21]
* Shakespeare's Sonnets β, selected. [22]
** John Donne and George Herbert - 13 Donne poems here (K) (notes here) and 10 Herbert poems here
*** John Milton, selected poems, to include Paradise Lost Book I (14 poems here.)
The Roar on the Other Side: A Guide for Student Poets, by Suzanne Clark ($)

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Grammar and Composition

Our Mother Tongue: An Introductory Guide to English Grammar, by Nancy Wilson ($ Answer Key: $) [23]
OR, work through Jensen's Grammar ($) in Year 7 or 8.
Written narrations: 3 per week, varying among subjects. Include one written narration from a reading earlier in the week. [24]
Purchase a good English handbook. [25]
Optional: Paradigm Online Writing Assistant [26]


Scripture suggestions: * Romans 6; ** 1 Cor. 13; *** Psalms 139
Shakespeare - selected passages, all terms. [27]
Poetry - a poem by that term's poet, all terms.


Include selections from Shakespeare, the Bible, poetry and other sources. These selections may be the same ones used for recitation.

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Continue your math program; for some options, see this page.

Science [sci]

The Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock Δ ($) Continue to use as in previous years with the AmblesideOnline curriculum.
First Studies of Plant Life, by George Francis Atkinson, Parts 2, 3 Δ [Google Books] ($) [28a]
Signs and Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy, by Jay Ryan, ch 3-5 ($) and accompanying Field Journal ($) Both the book and journal are cheaper from CBD. [28b]
Napoleon's Buttons: 17 Molecules That Changed History, by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson ($ K) [28c] OR Marvels of the Molecule by Lionel Salem ($)
Adventures with a Microscope, by Richard Headstrom, chose 12 adventures if you are able to procure/borrow a microscope. ($ K)
Great Astronomers, by R.S. Ball β Δ (chapters on Galileo, Newton, Flamsteed)
* Chemical History of a Candle, by Michael Faraday β Δ ($earch K), with study guide by Kathy Wickward and Kahn Academy or Crash Course Chemistry
** Johannes Kepler: Giant of Faith and Science, by John Hudson Tiner ($)
** Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science, by John Fleischman ($ K)
*** A Briefer History of Time, by Stephen Hawking ($ K) [28d]
*** The Microbe Hunters by Paul DeKruif, Leeuwenhook ($ K)
*** William Harvey and the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood, by Thomas Henry Huxley β

Nature Study

Keep flower and bird lists of species seen, select a special study for outdoor work, and continue to maintain nature notebooks.

Rural Hours, by Susan Fenimore Cooper Δ ($) [29]


How To Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler and Chares Van Doren ($ K) [30]

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The Story of Painting, by H. W. Janson ($) [31]
Continue AO's artist rotation.
Work on drawing skills. Illustrate a scene from reading of your choice once a week, more as desired.


Continue AO's composer rotation.

Foreign language - 3 songs per term [32]
Three Folk Songs in English [33]
Continue AO's rotation of hymns.

Foreign Language

Begin Latin if you've not started already.
Continue with any previous foreign language studies. [34]


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, by Paul Brand ($ K) [35]

Learn and play a game (kick ball, tennis, croquet, ping-pong, softball, etc.) or folk-dance, or pursue other physical activity of your choice.

Life and Work Skills

Charlotte Mason had them do house or garden work, make Christmas presents, other crafts, sew, cook, learn first aid . . .

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Free Reading

Kenilworth, by Sir Walter Scott β Δ ($) Ω (or other Scott novel)
Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes ($), find an edited version (term 1) Unedited version here; a very edited but fun retelling for youths by James Baldwin is here ($ K)
Pickwick Papers, by Charles Dickens β Δ ($ K) Ω
The Innocence of Father Brown, by G. K. Chesterton β Δ ($) Ω
Emma, by Jane Austen β Δ ($ K) Ω
Freckles, by Gene Stratton Porter β Δ ($) Ω
** The House of Arden: A Story for Children, by E. Nesbit β ($) Ω
** Harding's Luck, by E. Nesbit β Δ ($) Ω
** Lorna Doone, by R. D. Blackmore β Δ ($) Ω
The Wonderful O ($) and/or The Thurber Carnival, by James Thurber ($)
The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength ($)
To Have and to Hold: A Story of Virginia in Colonial Days, by Mary Johnston β Δ ($) Ω
All for Love, or, The World Well Lost β Δ or Discourses on Satire and Epic Poetry β, by John Dryden
The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander: The Book of Three ($ K), The Black Cauldron ($ K), The Castle of Llyr ($ K), Taran Wanderer ($ K), The High King ($ K) ($et; read a fan's blog post about these books here.)
The Compleat Angler, by Izaak Walton β Δ ($) Ω (might be more appreciated for older folks who enjoy short contemplative readings, rather than Year 8 students)
The Memoirs of Gluckel of Hameln ($ K)
Pioneers of the Old South: A Chronicle of English Colonial Beginnings, by Mary Johnston β Δ
Unknown to History: Captivity of Mary of Scotland, by Charlotte Yonge β Δ ($) Κ
The History of King Charles II of England, by Jacob Abbott β Δ (edition/publisher under review)

The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus by astronomer Owen Gingerich ($ K)
Jean Henri Fabre: Choose another book on insect life

Useful for future reference: A Guide to the Best Historical Novels and Tales, by Jonathan Nield

Many thanks to David Hicks, author of Norms and Nobility, for his kind permission to draw from his work and ideas. For more information please see the link to the 1999 edition of his book.


Note on Audiobooks: While links to audio books are added as a courtesy, Miss Mason's approach to grammar and composition is heavily dependent upon the children receiving an immense amount of visual exposure to the written word over many years, so parents should exercise extreme caution in how many audiobooks they use each year. Our brains just work differently when we see the words. For children who have difficulty reading, one solution is to have them follow the audio version along in a written text. (Back)

1. Continue AO's plan (6 years through the Bible in Years 6-11, leaving Song of Solomon and Revelation for Year 12), or follow a plan of your own preference. AO's plan schedules the following for this year:
Term 1: Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel 1-14; Matthew 1-11; Psalms 106-118; Proverbs 1-6
Term 2: 1 Samuel 15-31, 2 Samuel 1-24; Matthew 12-21; Psalms 119-124; Proverbs 7-11
Term 3: 1 Kings, Ecclesiastes; Matthew 22-28; Psalms 125-150; Proverbs 12-16
Resources: Study questions with maps; Bible Maps; Bible timeline. Encyclopedia of Bible Truths, 4 Volumes, by Ruth C. Haycock (purchase from CBD)
Charlotte Mason had her students reading a commentary. We suggest you use what fits best with your family's belief system, keeping in mind that this year should be a bit meatier than previous years. (Back)

2. Saints and Heroes is an option for church history if you didn't use Trial and Triumph in Years 1-6
Term 1: (Vol 2) ch 1 Luther-ch 8 William the Silent
Term 2: ch 9 Brewster-ch 10 Laud
Term 3: ch 11 Cromwell-ch 12 Bunyan (Back)

4. Desiring God, 2003, is about making obedience a joy instead of an obligation.(Back)

Timeline: At this age, students should be keeping a Century Chart and Book of Centuries. Instructions for making your own timelines and charts are included in these Parents' Review articles: Book of the Centuries; Teaching Chronology; The Correlation of Lessons. For more details about the why, when, how of keeping CM timelines (and other notebooks), we recommend Laurie Bestvater's book, The Living Page ($). (Back)

5. The New World is Volume 2 of Winston Churchill's 4 volume set, "A History of the English Speaking Peoples." The next two volumes will be used in Years 9 and 10. Don't get the one edited by Henry Steele Commager, as it's abridged. If you can figure out how to use this, this book is online in audio For planning purposes, there is a Table of Contents with dates for all 4 volumes of A History of the English Speaking Peoples, and a schedule to break down the week's chapter into 4 short daily readings.
Term 1: Ch 1-10
Term 2: Ch 11-18
Term 3: Ch 19-26
An alternate option is A History of England, by Arnold-Forster, online at, Google Books; a schedule is here. (Back)

6. A Man for All Seasons is a play about Thomas More. Preferably, the student should read the book. Alternately, the student could watch the movie ($), or as a second option, read William Roper's biography of Thomas More. (Roper was Thomas More's son-in-law.) (Back)

7. Alternately, you may use A History of Plymouth Plantation, by William Bradford β Δ Ω Caleb Johnson had posted Ch 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 36 with modern spelling on his webpage, but it's gone; these have been re-posted at a Plymouth site: 1, 2, 4, 9. Suggested schedule (and these are linked to Project Gutenburg's full text; you may want to use Caleb Johnson's when possible) - Wk 18: ch. 1-2; Wk 19: ch 3-4; Wk 20: ch 7-8; Wk 21: ch 9 and 36. There is a modern language version available ( $) Weeks 18-21. (Back)

8. A Coffin for King Charles was also published under the title The Trial of Charles I in England. Weeks 21-36 (Back)

9. Oliver Cromwell and the Rule of the Puritans in England: we suggest just the epilogue/ch 23. If you want to read the entire book, it is available online. Δ ($) (Back)

10. Christopher Columbus, Mariner presents a fairly balanced account of Columbus. This book, especially ch 11 (pg 79, the paragraph beginning "The skirmish at Salt River . . ." tells of the first girl subdued in the Caribbean), will require parental screening. (Back)

11. The Life of Christopher Columbus: The Advisory hasn't reviewed the Kindle copy of this yet. This book should be scheduled at a chapter per week, except for ch 2 and 3, which can be doubled up in week 2. (Back)

Geography. Geosafari (available now on CD-rom) would be sufficient. ($ purchase basic geography card set) SeterraOnline offers Free Map Quiz Games. If you have an iPad or iPhone, TapQuiz is a free map quiz app. (Back)

12. Ourselves: approximately 22 pages per term. This book will continue through all the remaining years of AO/HEO curriculum. This is the 4th volume of Mason's 6 Volume Series. This year: pages 66-135 of Book 1.
Also available in a modern English paraphrase that can be read online or purchased. (K) The paraphrase of Book I, Self-Knowledge, the first half of Volume 4, can be purchased as a separate paperback book.
Term 1: Book 1 pg 66-86
Term 2: Book 1 pg 87-107
Term 3: Book 1 pg 108-130 (Back)

12a. The Story of the Constitution: AO suggests more advanced government courses in Years 9-12, but for parents anxious to have their child learn more about the American government, OR for those who have a state requirement, this is the preferred book to use for Year 8. The Story of the Constitution doesn't begin and end in the 18th century, but traces historic events such as the Magna Carta, and other events on the Bronze doors of the American Supreme Court, making it relevant for the historical era studied in Year 8. (Back)

13. Plutarch: Charlotte Mason recommended Thomas North's "inimitable translation." ($) (Back)

14. Francis Bacon selected essays: Of Truth, Of Revenge, Of Innovations, Of Friendship, Of Regiment of Health, Of Suspicion, Of Discourse, Of Riches, Of Youth and Age, Of Studies (paraphrase), Of Praise, Of Honor and Reputation, Of Anger. (Back)

15. Charlotte Mason had students at this level read the daily news and keep a calendar of events. We suggest students choose the most important 2 or 3 stories of the week and re-write them in their own words as a chronicle of the year, making the heading of each page something like "This Week in History, September 1st, 2003." Parents: pre-read and filter current events materials (on the web, or in print) as necessary, due to the potential for coverage and topics of an explicit nature, even from conservative sources. We've listed some possible options here.
Blogs as a media form have rapidly overtaken hard-copy publications. News is being reported there, in some cases, faster and more accurately than other, older media forms. Students should learn about them, find one they trust, and check it regularly. However, we recommend that parents first become familiar with blogs and visit the one(s) their children will frequent. We suggest several poliblogs here, but parents should know that not every message on these blogs will be 'child-friendly' and often have ads that include scantily clad women. Also, most blogs link to a multitude of other blogs and sites that may not be child-friendly.
Comments posted on blogs can be considered a new media equivalent of a letter to the editor, and students should learn how to communicate well on blogs. (Back)

16. The History of English Literature for Girls and Boys: $ from Kelly Kenar, who typed this e-text for the use of AO/HEO. Postage at is automatically set to UPS ground which is expensive, but you can choose media mail which is substantially cheaper. (If you purchase this book, we request that you purchase from the link provided, as other publishers' reprints of this book have used Kelly's hand-typed etext.)
Term 1: ch 32 (Beginning of Theater) - 43 (Spenser)
Term 2: 44 (First Theaters) - ch 54 (Some Lyric Poets)
Term 3: ch 55 (Herbert) - 59 (Bunyan)
AO schedules this book in conjunction with Invitation to the Classics; more material is covered in Marshall's History of English Literature from Year 7 to the middle of Year 10, and more is covered in Invitation to the Classics from the middle of Year 10, and through Year 11. If you prefer to use only Invitation to the Classics, by Louise Cowan and Os Guinness ($), Year 8 students would read pg 113-176 The Second Shepherds' Play and Everyman to John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress. A Table of Contents to help with planning is here.(Back)

18. Diary of Samuel Pepys: List member Sarah Bruce has kindly compiled an excerpted copy with his account of the Great Fire. Charlotte Mason used parts of this book. Pepys gives a great first-hand account of the Great Fire. However, this needs editing both for length but also because Pepys was wretchedly honest about his sordid behavior, details of which really aren't appropriate for young people to read. His entries for April 22 and 23 have to do with the coronation of Charles II and may be useful. If you wish to read the entire diary, it is available online: The Diary of Samuel Pepys β ($) (Back)

19. I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed): (There's a newer version called Promise of Fidelity, translated by Omero Sabatini ($). Penguin Classics has version translated by Bruce Penman and called The Betrothed ($ K) Weeks 19-36. (Back)

20. The Holy War, by John Bunyan: Mount Calvary Baptist has a helpful study guide, links to summaries, audio files and links to online texts. (Back)

21. Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves is Book I of Spenser's Fairie Queene, updated and annotated. We don't recommend the Kindle version, which is here (Back)

22. Shakespeare Sonnets: Selections: XVIII (18), XXIX (29), XXX (30), LIII (53), LIV (54), LVII (57), LXXIII (73), XCIV (94), CIV (104), CVI (106) CXVI (116), CXXIX (129) (read one per week) Download these 12 sonnets in one collection. SparkNotes has helps for some of the sonnets. Modern side-by-side translations are available from No Fear Shakespeare, CliffsNotes, and Shakespeare Online Check online sites such as Librivox for free audio readings of poems; this is a growing project and more poems are online every month. (Back)

23. Our Mother Tongue has 49 chapters. One suggestion is to spread the book over two years, doing about 9 chapters per term. (Back)

24. AO's Language Arts Scope and Sequence for this level is here. (Back)

25. A favorite Advisory English handbook is The Little, Brown Handbook, by H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron ($). Some may find Writer's Inc. more user friendly ($). (Back)

26. Paradigm Online Writing Assistant: Karen Glass: Paradigm Online Writing Assistant is a whole online free course about writing four kinds of essays. I haven't explored the whole thing, but I like what I've seen so far. This is the link to the section on writing a support essay. At the top of the page, you can see the progression of the whole course. (Back)

27. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations is a helpful tool for looking for quotable sections from various plays of Shakespeare, especially quotes from the various plays which appear in various other literature. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th edition, is online (in html and text here.) Note: To get the list of plays from the Bartlett's Familiar Quotations page, try selecting 1) the Author index, then select 2) the Shakespeare entry, which should provide a list of quotations from the first play in the list; and then try selecting 3) Shakespeare's name above the quotations. This last step should bring you to an index of the plays, not just the list of quotations. Or, you may go directly to the play needed from the Shakespeare play index. (Back)

35. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: preview this first (see notes here) (Back)

Science: If your child wants to pursue a scientific major and needs to prepare for special exams, you may want to contact your college of choice to find out what the requirements are. We have not undertaken to prepare our students for specialty exams, but to give them a foundation of knowledge about science which will make it a matter of interest to them for life. (Back)

28a. First Studies of Plant Life: continues from Year 7; parts 2 and 3 this year. Planting, growing and observing germinating seeds and plants is necessary to benefit from this book. If you prefer, you may substitute Exploring Creation with Botany, by Jeanne Fulbright ($) over Years 7 and 8, with selected activities from the book. (Back)

28b. Signs and Seasons - chapters 3-5 this year. ($ K) (Back)

28c. Napoleon's Buttons: chapter 11, scheduled in weeks 21 and 22, is about the pill; parents should preread to determine whether this particular chapter is appropriate for their student. (Back)

28d. A Briefer History of Time: A shorter version of A Brief History of Time containing less technical concepts. We encourage you not to skip this book; Hawking is one of the most respected scientists of our time and it is important for our students to be literate in this subject and know what other people believe. Hawking acknowledged the role of God in creation, and this book is respectful to the beliefs of others. (Back)

29. In place of Rural Hours, you may choose the nature writings of Edwin Way Teale Δ (search if you have them on your shelf. Unfortunately, few are online, and go in and out of print. A particular favorite is "The Circle of Seasons" but other titles are also commendable. (Back)

30. How to Read a Book may be saved for a later year. Be sure to get the revised edition, and read only Part 2 this year (this book continues into Year 10). This breaks down to five chapters for the year, seven weeks to get through each chapter. This is slow, but this material is weighty and should give much material for reflection and discussion. Note: The revised version was written by both Mortimer J. Adler And Chares Van Doren. If Van Doren is not a co-writer, it's the older book. It was revised in 1972, but later books may not be called "revised." The version to use has five chapters in part 1; 7 chapters in part 2; 7 chapters in part 3; and two chapters in part 4. The unrevised edition may have fewer parts. (Back)

31. Janson's Story of Painting: chapters 4-5 this year. (Some nudity; parents should preview first.) (Back)

32. Foreign Folk Songs: Charlotte Mason did 3 in French and 3 in German. (Back)

33. English Folk Songs: you may choose to continue the Folk Song rotation at AmblesideOnline; as well as the Ambleside rotation for Hymns each term. Carols would do for the Winter term. Work on each song about 4 weeks. Folksongs which are particularly appropriate selections for the Year 8 time frame include:
* Barbara Allen, Star of the County Down, Andrew Barton
** The Death of Queen Jane, The Miller of Dee, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
*** Three Mariners, The Oak and the Ash, My Lodging is on the Cold Ground [tune], English folksongs and other folksongs. (Back)

34. Charlotte Mason's students were learning three languages at this level. A good English/foreign language dictionary is also recommended.
You might find that your foreign language studies cover enough grammar to be counted as English Grammar as well. (Back)

35. Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: preview this first (see notes here) (Back)

Last update July 30, 2014