Saturday, May 5, 2012

Celtic Legends and Literature (a simple unit plan)

I made a summer unit for my kids.  If you are interested in previewing or downloading, go here:

Legends and Literature (PDF)
Legends and Literature (docx)

Here is an embedded preview.  You will notice I tried hard to make it look pretty.  I really like making pretty things, though I haven't done much of it recently.   I used a newsletter template from Microsoft Word 2010, similar to the lesson plans I made once back a couple of years ago.   Definitely time consuming, but fun too.

Since we basically stopped doing any formal academics around Christmas time, I wanted to transition gently back into the next school year.  This unit gets us started using English Literature for Boys and Girls which I am intending as a core text for next year..

Front illustration for English Literature for Boys and Girls

I am planning to focus on Celtic history since it is part of our heritage and fortunately the English Literature book lends itself to that since the earliest literary efforts on the British Isles came firstly from Ireland and secondarily from Scotland.    How convenient!  I am looking forward to doing this at a relaxed pace with my kids this summer.

English Literature for Boys and Girls is an interesting book.  I found it through Ambleside Online where it is recommended for Year 7.    My kids are Year 4 and Year 11.  Nevertheless, I think this is a good time to work through it.    Though Kieron and Paddy are 7 years apart in age they are both very willing participants in discussion of a text.  Kieron's perspective helps Paddy stretch beyond his grade level and the interactive format encourages Kieron to look more deeply into his school reading than otherwise.  He is smart but not particularly inclined to spend any longer on formal academics than he has to, but a good philosophical discussion can always pull him in and he has a real gift for connecting our present reading with other things he has read or seen going back all the way to his preschool years.

So for our Morning Time, I look for readings that bridge the gap between them, and History of English Literature is perfect.  The style is targeted towards kids closer to Paddy's age (in my opinion) but the content is about things I didn't learn until high school or college.   There's a nice mix of actual storytelling, and some real information about literary forms and styles.

You notice I haven't mentioned Aidan in all this.  He actually is Year 7 but his interests and abilities are still firmly set in the primary stage of learning.   I really don't know how much he follows our read-alouds.  He is usually around and sometimes he makes some comment or repeats some phrase.  Sometimes he tries to distract Kieron.  But all in all, I think he gets something from having us consistently sit around and read and talk together.    And maybe the literary language sinks into his brain on some level -- he's amazingly auditory for someone with only one functioning ear.

Back to planning now,



  1. Your plans look great! (very pretty, too).
    I really like that text--English Lit for Boys and Girls. I recently discovered it myself and wished I had known about it at the beginning of this year. I would have used it for Sam rather than trying to piece it all together myself.
    Anyway, I'm sure you will have fun with it. I will have to content myself with using it 6 years or so down the road with Jenny.

    1. Thanks Theresa,

      Did you do a literature study for the middle ages? I will have to check out your blog and see. I went and looked up your Ancient History plans for inspiration.

      It is nice to have a younger child so resources you find now can still be used!

    2. We didn't, exactly. We did a year of British History and lit, but it was a pretty broad focus. Sam wasn't all that interested in the middle ages because we did a lot of it in middle school (he had already read Beowulf,Sir Gawain, Roland, St Francis,and a lot of Arthurian stuff). We did read some Canturbury Tales, but that is probably the only truly middle ages lit we did this year. We moved pretty rapidly into renaissance and modern, as per Sam's preference, but it was still pretty spotty, skipping around from Shakespeare to Kipling to Dickens and such.
      Again, I wish I had known about the Marshall book earlier. We probably would have enjoyed it a lot more than what we did.

    3. Well, that is a good thing about homeschooling, being able to adjust according to preference. It could be that Sam might have thought the English Literature book had too juvenile a tone, since he's Kieron's age or older I think.

      I knew about the book but never used it before because my older set were sensitive about being "talked down to". This is probably the first year it will work for our group dynamics -- another way homeschooling can be nice since you can adjust for things like that too : ). Wishing you a great homeschool year!

    4. Good point about the juvenile tone. Sam is 16, so it might have rubbed him wrong. But the lit selections and summaries are so good! sigh.
      Off topic, but while I have your "ear", do you know of anything similar for American lit? That's our focus next year and I am still looking for the right fit for that.

  2. Hi Willa! I'm going to explore your unit in a minute. The idea sounds lovely! But I just wanted to tell you that there is a very new yahoo group called pursuingclassicaled. It is a group that formed on the WTM after a bunch of the moms started talking about Andrew Kern and his approach to classical ed. They listen to all the Circe audios, read books recommended by Kern and others. It is a very active group and I can only pop in once in a while. But the conversation is really interesting. Lots of new or younger homeschoolers. I find that new homeschoolers invigorate and tired me at the same time! But anyway, I think you'd add so much to the conversation, if you are interested in joining yet another on line group. Cheerio!

    1. Thanks Faith! I will check it out : ).

  3. Willa
    Just about to write up plans for my 11th grader who has (at this stage) declared he wants to attend a Liberal Arts College. we have ALOT of ground to make up for. Off to see if this is a major answer to prayer. Hoping so:) Thank you!!

    1. Well, Erin, it is definitely very gentle and simple (since summer is vacation season here in California) but I have found that reading thoughtful books and discussing them lends itself quite well to Liberal Arts development. Anyway, I wish you all the best as you and your 11th grader discern -- what a busy season for a family, when kids are graduating, isn't it!

  4. Dear Willa,
    This is an amazing gift to give. I love this period of history (ancestry too) and am sure I am going to give it to our Saxon who loves this too.
    Thank you sooooo much for sharing this one

  5. Hi Willa,
    This is exactly what my heart has been wanting! I used English Lit for Boys and Girls back when we were young moms on CCE trying to figure it all out, and then I promptly forgot about it. I'm so excited to use it again with my youngest two. It's been a long year and your plans are just what we've been needing. The girls have been excitedly downloading books to their kindles so that we can get started in June.

    1. Hi Andrea,

      How wonderful to "see" you again! So glad the unit looks good to you and hope you have a fun summer with your girls.

      Also so glad you got the Avilian Homeschooling back online. I've linked to your old geocities site in the past and miss having it around, especially that part of it.

      Blessings, Willa


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