First posted March 2009. Lydia was almost eight, in the second grade, and using AmblesideOnline Year Two. (Edited post)
Book: Pilgrim's Progress. Tell about the meeting with the shepherds.
Christian and Hopeful go along and they meet some shepherds.
And the shepherds tell him, “You’re not very far, you know. Some other people have gone way, way farther than you have, but then they’ve just fallen into darkness. Let us show you.”
So Christian and Hopeful go along with the shepherds and the shepherds show them Hell’s Door. It was a shortcut for Hell. And then they showed Christian and Hopeful a big cliff, and they almost fell off because it was so frightening. There were dead men’s bodies down there. And Christian asked, “Is there any hotel or anything where we could stay?” And the shepherds said, “We are your entertainment. You can stay in our huts. You can sleep in our beds.” So that night Christian and Hopeful slept in the shepherds’ house.
Book of Matthew: Tell the story of the Resurrection.
Jesus was put in a grave, and there was a rock in front of the grave, and there were guards in front of the rock that was in front of the grave. But one day there was a bright light, and the rock moved out of the way, and the guards ran away. And pretty soon the guards came back, only to find Jesus’ body stolen. But then the guards ran away again. And then some women came. It was Mary and Mary Magnolia [Magdalene]. And then they saw two angels, one at the foot where Jesus’ body should be, and the other at the top of where Jesus’ body should be. And then Mary saw somebody who looked as if he was gardening. And she said, “have you stolen my master’s body?” And then he says no. And Mary recognizes Jesus’ voice, and she cries out, “Master!” And he cries, “Mary.” And she and Mary Magnolia ran out, saying “Jesus is alive! Jesus is alive!” The end.
History (100 Years War): Tell what you know of the Hundred Years War.
There was the battle of Sluys, the battle of Crecy, there was the battle of Calais, and the battle of…something else that starts with P. [Poitiers]
I’ll tell you about the battle of Calais. It was a starving war. And there were these enemies that surrounded Calais, and the people of Calais couldn’t even go out to gather food from their crops. And finally they got so starved that they ate their cats and dogs. And finally they waved their white flag. And soldiers came and said, “You are really ready to surrender?” They said, “Please try and coax your king, and you will have a reward.” So the knights went and tried to coax the king into letting all of the people go free.
So the king said, “Tell them this.” So the knights went, and they said, “The king said that the only deal he’ll make is that six men come out in their nightclothes, nightcaps and all, with ropes around their necks, bearing the keys of the city.” And the governor of Calais said, “Aw, but we can’t do that!” So he went and told the people about what the king had said. And they said, “But, but, we can’t do that! There’s nobody brave enough to do that, and nobody strong enough to do that.” But finally a rich person said, “I will be the first of the six people to go.” And soon five more joined, and they had six people. And at dawn they all came out in their nightclothes and nightcaps and all, with ropes around their necks, bearing the keys of the city with them. And quickly the knights took them with them, to the king. And the king said, “I shall kill you.” But then all the knights began to beg and beg, but he said “No, no, no, no…no.”
But finally the queen fell down on her knees and begged, “I’ve never asked you a favour, but now I want to have these people.” And he said, “All right.” So she took them to her own rooms, and she dressed them, and then she had a banquet for them. And the next morning she let them go to Calais, and that was the end.
Literature: The Wind in the Willows
Toad Hall was being taken over by people from the Wild Woods. And so Rat and Mole and Toad and Badger armed themselves to go and take over Toad Hall themselves. So Mole, who hadn’t been there all day, all of a sudden came back, and he told them that he had gone and told the Wild Woods animals that they were coming, and they were like, “Oh Mole, did you have to? That wasn’t a very good idea.” But all of a sudden Badger rose and said, yes it was a good idea. Because Mole just said, “I told them that we were coming in the back, on our way from the Wild Woods.” And the Badger said that was a good idea. So now all the Wild Woods animals were going to be watching from the windows on the way to the Wild Woods.
And Badger said, “I know of a tunnel that Toad’s Father told me about, and he said to me, don’t tell my son about it unless it’s great danger.” So Toad said, “Oh, I remember! Do you mean…the entrance…there was a squeaky board in the butler’s pantry.” And Badger said yes, that was it. “But we are going to use that. And we’re going to spring up. “And the Weasels are going to be having a party, I heard,” said the Mole. “So let’s go spring up on them.”
So Badger led them the way through the tunnel. There were many bumpings and scratchings, so that Rat thought they were being attacked, just because Toad was putting on airs of pride, not watching out where he was going, because he was so proud of himself. And Badger scolded Toad because he was putting on airs of pride. Finally they got there, and they lifted up the squeaky board in the butler’s pantry, and they realized that they were right next to the place where the Weasels were having a party. And Badger said, “One…”
Then they heard a Weasel’s voice from the next room saying, “I would like to make a small song about Toad…of course you all know TOAD…” All the Weasels were roaring with laughter. “Good Toad! Honest Toad! Modest Toad!” Now all the Weasels were roaring even more with laughter. “Now let me sing you the little song of TOAD!”
And he went "Mi-mi-mi-mi-mi…" And then the Chief Weasel began…”Toad he went a pleasuring down the walk so green…”
“Two…” said the Badger.
“And Toad was so green that he didn’t notice the walk…”
“Three!” said the Badger. “Go get ‘em!”
With that, they all ran into the room, sticks thrashing! Wap, wap, wap! And the Weasels were so frightened and because of Mole’s little visit (Mole had told them that there were going to be thousands of Toads, thousands of Moles, thousands of Badgers and thousands of Water Rats), and they had been so frightened by that remark that they almost saw thousands of Toads, thousands of Badgers, thousands of Moles, thousands of Water Rats. And they felt so dizzy and drunk that it looked so much, so much like all those thousands…and the Weasels weren’t even armed! And Toad began to jump around and yelled, “Toad he went a pleasuring? I’ll pleasure ‘em!” So they chased all the Weasels away, and then Mole and the Water Rat went and got the stoats and everything that was keeping watch. So when all the Wild Woods creatures had gone, they woke up some of the ones that they had knocked down with their sticks on the floor, and they made them clean, so they would have fresh bedspreads that night. The End!
A Wonder Book, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Story: "The Chimaera." Question: Tell how Bellerophon caught Pegasus.
Bellerophon and the little boy watched always for Pegasus. Finally one day, the little boy said, “Look, Bellerophon, up in the sky!” And Bellerophon looked in the reflection of the water, and he saw a beautiful bird. “What a beautiful bird!” he said. “Don’t you understand, dear Bellerophon? That is no beautiful bird. That is Pegasus!” And Bellerophon saw that it was a beautiful Pegasus, with silvery wings. Quickly they went into some shrubbery and hid. The beautiful Pegasus came down, and it drank the water refreshingly, because no kind of water did he like more than the beautiful waters of Pirene. And then it just nibbled a little teeny bit on the daisies. Because it didn’t like to make a big meal because he thought that the daisies up on this mountain place where he lived were better.
Then he saw that the beautiful Pegasus was dancing the most beautiful dance he had ever seen. Quickly, as the Pegasus slowed down his dance, he ran out of the shrubbery, holding the beautiful halter in his hand. And he put it on Pegasus. And quickly jumped on Pegasus’ back. Pegasus, never feeling human weight before, leapt up in the air! Up, up, up and away. And all of a sudden Bellerophon came down!!! And the Pegasus began to fly once more again. But as soon as it calmed down…not really too calmed down…he looked at it and saw that such a beautiful creature should be free. He remembered the dance that it danced, he remembered the water it had drunk with refreshment, he remembered the daisies he had nibbled delicately.
So he slipped off the halter, and he said, “Go free, Pegasus.” Quickly Pegasus soared up in the air as Bellerophon watched it sadly. But all of a sudden Pegasus came down, and again Bellerophon said, “Go, Pegasus. Go to your world of wonders.” But Pegasus would not move. He said, “Good Pegasus.” And he put the halter on it and rode it. The End.
History: Tell about your group's trip to a historic site.
[My note: I noticed that in this narration, Lydia used a much more limited second-grader's reporting style, typical of what schoolchildren would put in a report for the teacher. It's interesting that although she had a good time on the field trip, it didn't seem to offer her much material for storytelling.]
I went to [the house] and I put on a 1891 dress. And then we played school, learning capitals and writing with ink.
And then we had a tour of the house. And we talked about oatmeal, we got to pump water with a water pump. We would play croquet and cricket, and we were back in 1891.