CC Blog Carnival: May 2016

Welcome to the May addition of the CC blog carnival.  If you are new to Classical Conversations or to this page, the CC Blog Carnival includes submissions from CC bloggers in all stages of CC.

I group articles by Foundations (age 4-grade 6), Essentials (grades 4-6), and Challenge (age 14 and up).  Also this month, I am including some general articles about Classical Conversations and homeschooling from bloggers in case you are new to CC and/or homeschooling.

If you are unfamiliar with Classical Conversations:  Beth from Pockets Full of Rock put together a great resource called What is CC?  This might be a great place for you to start.



My son wrote (with my typing skills) about Doing Hard Things after he completed Memory Master this year.  I would not have thought that teaching my kids to do hard things was on my “reasons to homeschool” list, but after watching how much he learned through this process, it is quickly becoming a top reason.

I shared about how our family uses Mystery of History to further our history learning.  History is definitely a favorite subject here.

In the upcoming Cycle 2, the Bible passage is Ephesians 6.  Mary from Homegrown Learners put together free copywork for this last time her family went through Cycle 2.  If your family is looking for copywork to go along with the Bible passage, you might enjoy this resource.

This is such a simple idea for having a map sketchbook and yet brilliant.  I’m glad Annie shared this with me.

Here is a Cycle 2 weekly planner from Brandy at HHAW.

If you are looking for books for teaching biblical truth to your Foundations-age kids, Beth at Pockets Full of Rocks shared her family’s favorites.

If you read lots of blogs or talk to lots of CC moms, you’ll find lots of people implement CC in different ways at home.  Here is Betsy’s encouragement to moms of young ones to keep things simple.

I enjoyed what Annie of 101 Days of Homeschooling shared about learning to love Shakespeare and teach it to her children.  I think I’m going to add the book she recommended to my summer reading list (which is probably long enough to last 2 years!  Anyone else make really long summer reading lists?).

If you enjoy seeing others’ book lists, here is Betsy’s Cycle 2 resource list.

Another book list is available at Half a Hundred Acre Wood by Brandy.  She calls this her unofficial CC Cycle 2 booklist.

Seeing patterns in math works well with multiplication circles.  Here is an idea to add in “extra” skip counting practice where (at least my) kids might not even realize they are practicing their skip counting.


Mary from Homegrown Learners shared about this year’s Faces of History on her campus.  Not all (but many) Essentials programs include FOH as part of their class.  My kids always look forward to this end-of-the-year project.



I appreciate this mom sharing her story of how she left CC at the Challenge years in search of “something else” only to realize that Challenge was exactly what her daughter needed.  They started into Challenge mid-year after changing back.

Here are some ideas for preparing for Challenge A.  We aren’t that far away from Challenge A so I want to read over this again.

Christy from Recipes for Family Life shares about how she made Henle Latin work for her Challenge A student.  It’s such an important part of CC to remember that the parent is still the teacher.

Betsy at Family Style Schooling shared a great way to memorize the Periodic Table.  She thought this would be great for Challenge B students.  (Since I have a son who asked for a periodic table poster for his bedroom, I am guessing he would like this too.)

I enjoyed reading Betsy’s article on using a topic wheel to discuss music.  Isn’t it exciting to see how subjects are interconnected?

General Classical Conversations and Homeschooling Links:

If you are like me and aren’t able to get to a homeschool convention this year, you might enjoy reading the list of book recommendations that Betsy put together from the convention she attended.

Brandy shared (in a video) about why her family chooses Classical Conversations.

In this article, there is an example of how the trivium relates to learning to play the guitar.  I love how learning classically applies to all of our learning.

Even though this family wouldn’t describe themselves as “classical” in their educational philosophy, they share why they still love CC.  It speaks to the CC program that it appeals to and works for various types of families.  (Our family shared why we love CC last year.)

Here is one daily lesson planner that you can download if you are interested.


I hope this CC blog carnival is an encouragement to you as you look forward to the end of this school year or the beginning of the next year!


Note:  If you are a CC blogger, check out the information here on how to submit to future CC blog carnivals.  If you go ahead and contact me, I can add you to my email list.

Using Mystery of History

We enjoy using Mystery of History in our family, but we don’t use the curriculum in its entirety.  Mystery of History has a textbook that a mom could read aloud.   There are activities, quizzes, and many other aspects of it.  I’m sure all of these are great, but we don’t use any of that.

Instead, we listen to the audio CDs as we drive around running errands.  When lessons are only 5-10 minutes long, it is easy to get at least one in when we drive to the grocery store, library, or any other local errand stop.  We often will just sit the van in a parking lot or our driveway to finish a lesson if we arrive before the tract ends.

My kids love history.  We memorize a timeline, history sentences, and geographical locations through Classical Conversations.  My kids read endless history books from the library.  Mystery of History audio CDs are a great addition to everything else we already do.


What do we love about Mystery of History?

It is Christ-centered.  Between including Bible history as part of the history lessons, pointing out problems in a false religion or philosophy, and learning about Christians throughout our study of history, there is no mistaking that this is a Christian curriculum.  Even with all that, MOH still doesn’t shy away from teaching about the founding of Hinduism or what Plato or Socrates believed.

We recognize names and dates from our CC memory work.  While listening to the introduction to the first quarter of Volume 2 yesterday, we heard references to at least 5 points on our CC timeline or in history sentences we recently learned.  Mystery of History gives us more information about our memory pegs, but those pegs help the information to stick with us.  I don’t particularly try to “match up” our Mystery of History listening with our CC memory work.  When we run across something we have memorized, it gives us a chance to review (even if it was something we memorized two years ago).

We learn history that we haven’t studied before.  Just from listening to Volume 1 and the beginning of Volume 2, we have learned about people and places that we didn’t know before.  We’ve connected history in various parts of the world with each other.  The stories of various people are fun to hear and have led to my kids wanting to read more about that person.  (In fact, Ruthie’s Faces of History presentation was about someone we first heard about on Mystery of History.)

Great conversations happen when we listen together in the van.  We enjoy learning together as a family.  Listening together allows our conversations as we walk through the store to be about the current lesson.  We can have tough conversations about what martyrs faced in the early church and what persecution people face today.

Listening in the van is an easy way for me to add in more learning to our days.  Let’s face it.  Sometimes, we just need to run errands.  As a homeschool mom, I love when those van trips (and store conversations) are part of our educational experience instead of “wasted time.”


The kids and I were so excited when MOH volume 2 arrived at our house yesterday.  We listened to 7 lessons in the van just yesterday afternoon.

We finished volume 1 around Christmas time.  I’m not sure why I took so long to order volume 2, but I’m not going to wait that long again once we finish this one.

Obviously, I can’t speak to the content of volume 3 or volume 4 since we haven’t listened to them yet, but we intend to as soon as we finish the CDs we have.  Volume 4’s audio is currently available only throuhg mp3 files but will probably be out on CD soon.

TO LISTEN TO A SAMPLE:  Mystery of History’s site has sample audio lessons.  We have the ones with some music in the background.  When we got to the sample lesson as we listened through volume 1 as a family, my children remembered the lesson.  It’s amazing to me how much these kids learn.  Go here to hear a sample of Volume 1.


How does your family like to study history?



This post contains affiliate links.


Doing Hard Things

Doing hard things can be fun.  Yes, fun.

(This post is written by Elijah with the help of his mom.)


Recently, I achieved Memory Master.

Since I am ten this year, I had to say my times tables instead of skip counting. At first, I was scared of saying my times tables because they were very hard and took much more thought than skip counting. Finally, my mom printed me the Tables, Square, and Cubes [from CC Connected] to help me learn my times tables. I tried saying them and realized that some of them were easier than others to master. I started with the 3’s. Even with these [charts], I still felt that I could not master most of them.

One day, Mommy said I really needed to work on them. I sat with the tables and said them over and over and over again. This went on for many days. The first hard ones I mastered were the 6’s. I kept going up and up. Finally, the only ones that were hard were the 11’s, 12’s, 13’s, 14’s, 15’s. During this time, Mom got the video Multiplication Rap from the library which I thought was for “little kids”, but I watched it anyway. After I watched that video, I was able to do my 11’s and 12’s easily. While I was still working on my 13’s, 14’s, and 15’s, we went for a walk around our neighborhood.  There my mom and I, as we were walking around, started reciting our 13’s. Mom was better than I was. We said them over and over, and eventually, I knew about the first half.

During all of this time, the times tables felt like hard work.  They were exhausting and no fun.

But guess what?  Now, my 13’s and 11’s are my favorites. The hard work was not at all fun, but the result (achieving memory master) was.

I learned quite a few lessons about doing hard things along this journey.

  • Things are hard until you decide to make them not hard through practicing (putting in hard work).
  • Practicing every day gradually develops your skill.
  • When you can do the hard thing, it feels like the work has paid off.
  • The results of hard work are fun and exhilarating.
  • When a task gets easy enough, then it is very fun.  (When you are still struggling, it’s not as fun.)
  • It feels good to say, “Look what I’ve learned” and be able to rattle off the information.

Doing hard things can be fun in other areas of life too.

In complicated board games, it is hard to figure out strategies, but when the hard work pays off, it may lead you to victory.

In cleaning (like when Mom tells me to clean my room), I’m not thrilled, but I know what it feels like when it’s clean. It’s just pure fun when it is clean.

Hard work pays off in sports too like when I learn new skills in basketball and disc golf.


Doing hard things brings about a satisfactory feeling of accomplishment.

If you’ve got a hard thing you haven’t done yet, go do it and remember that hard work pays off.

(Note from Becki:  This picture was originally shared on our facebook page with the quote:  “The elevens are fun.” Elijah dictated this blog post to me – even down to telling me to add the affiliate link for the Multiplication Rap.)

CC Blog Carnival: January/February 2016

Since many bloggers seem to take off time for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I decided to combine the January and February CC blog carnivals into one.

This is that time of year can sometimes be challenging.  Less sunlight.  The struggle to get back to routine.

CC-Blog-Carnival-January-February 2016

If you are in need of encouragement today, here are a few articles that might help.

Also, if you haven’t made a list about why you choose to homeschool or why you choose Classical Conversations, you might find that to be encouraging as well.  It’s always good for me to remember why I am doing all of this.  (Here is Why We Choose Homeschooling and Why We Love CC if you are interested.)


Onto articles specifically about Classical Conversations:


Marc challenged me in an article called A Christian Curriculum: God’s Word and God’s World.  Before you begin curriculum selection for next year, you might want to reflect on some of what he said.

Brandy wrote art projects ideas for weeks 13-18 Great Artist studies.  Here is one of them, but she shared a project for each of the artists.

Allie created a helping and linking verb printable.  This might be a help to your family or CC class.

Brandy offered an incredible printable atlas and map tracing plan.  We have printed and laminated this already.  I look forward to many years of use.

Anne shared how to master geography with color.  If the Cycle 1 geography is giving you (or your children) trouble, you might find some great tips in this article.

Mary put together a great list of books for music appreciation.  From picture books to biographies to music that tells stories, there are books for many age levels.  As we get to the orchestra portion of CC (starting in week 19), this list may even come more in handy.

Betsy offered wonderful math multiplication flash cards.  For students 10 and older, these might be a great asset.  (10 and older have to do math facts instead of skipping counting for memory master.)

For Cycle 1’s science experiments, Brandy wrote Science Scripture Connections.  Along with her connections, I appreciated her encouragement to ask our children questions about what they see (as far as God’s truth, beauty, and goodness) instead of just using a predetermined script.

Here’s a simple way to review CC memory work.  Sometimes simple can be a great way to review.

If you are interested in notebooking pages for the great artists and composers, check out the notebooking pages here.

Brandy created her own great artist coloring pages.  These are wonderful if you have a child who likes to color.

Feeling the frustration of hectic memory work practice, Beth devised a way to take the chaos out of review time.  Even if you sometimes can handle chaos, her idea would be great on a day when you just wanted something a little calmer.

Brandy revisited Timeline Thumbnails (that I remember reading when she first wrote it).  This time around, she shared the drawings she made for each part of the timeline.

Betsy gave excellent tips for being a lead learner with great artists (which also apply to being a lead learner on any subject).

Betsy demonstrated a topic wheel through cleaning.  What a good discussion to have with kids!


Heidi shared a very real (and chaotic) CC community day at Mt. Hope Chronicles.  Since she is an Essentials tutor, I included it under this category, but I think it’s a day most of us could relate to (at least in parts).  I also like her description of her Esssentials class for anyone who hasn’t sat in on a class yet.



Marc Hays shared about Plato joining Classical Conversations.  I appreciate his 3 reasons, and it makes me want to read Plato myself.

Betsy wrote about the power of comparison.  I appreciated how she demonstrated how comparison brought about wisdom.  In what she called “The Lost Tools of Thinking,” Challenge students learn how to compare.  Conveying the class discussion to us gives us yet another glimpse into Challenge.

Heidi demonstrated how to use the 5 Common Topics and Parallelism.  This another glimpse into Challenge – whether you are there with your children yet or not.

Through discussing the question “How do we study science classically?” Marc gave an excellent demonstration of how to organize thoughts with the 5 Common Topics.  Both the discussion and the demonstration are valuable in this article.

Brandy made another great set of geography flashcards as well as the amazing atlas resource (I already mentioned above).

Betsy created a Latin Noun Gender Infographic to help with this topic.

Heidi started Socratic Dialogue on Rhetoric including a videon from Ashton Kutcher.  I haven’t had time to work through all of her questions yet, but plan to come back to this.

My prayer for each of you reading this month’s CC blog Carnival (and for myself):

“And let us not grow weary of doing good,

for in due season we will reap,

if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9 ESV

Homeschooling with Toddlers and Preschoolers

We don’t have any toddlers or preschoolers in our home anymore, but there was a time not that long ago that I tried to teach my kindergartner and first grader while having two and three year old boys running around.

Homeschooling with Toddlers and Preschoolers

With little ones in the house, teaching older children can be a challenge.  I wanted to share a few different strategies we used back then.

1.  We kept it simple.  We used the CC memory work CDs, a math program, and a phonics reading book.  We just played, read books, and learned through life.  I grabbed learning opportunities where I could (educational shows, while running errands, doing chores, answering the questions kids always ask).

2.  I assigned one of the school-age kids to do an activity with the little ones while I worked with the other school-aged child.  The main goal of this was to keep kids occupied so I could focus on one child, but the side benefit was that the little ones learned too.  (I used this almost every day for a few years.)

Some ideas we used with success:

  • flashcards to teach colors, shapes, numbers, letters, months of the year
  • having all the kids collect items around the house that began with a certain letter or were all the same “type” – shape, color, etc
  • doing a floor puzzle (This was one of our favorites.)
  • playing with play dough (now we use modeling clay since our home is gluten-free)
  • using paint with water books (q-tips are great for these instead of paint brushes)
  • reading easy books to the little ones
  • assigning a particular type of toy to play with (not saying “go play with your brother” but saying, “Why don’t you boys set up the car mat and play cars?”

Ruthie teaching her brothers

3.  We did school work in little chunks.  My little guys would sometimes play fine by themselves for 15 minutes.  If that was the case, we’d quick get some schooling in while they were having fun.

4.  I used the high chair when needed.  I would put a little one in the high chair and give them one simple puzzle (like this) at a time.  It got to the point that I could get 20 minutes of learning in with the big two while Isaiah did puzzles (and Gideon was napping).  I had a large collection of puzzles to keep passing to him.

5.  We read a lot.  I read books to the kids as much as I could.  Everyone wanted to get in on the reading and curl up on my lap.  I do have to say though that I couldn’t do this activity in the afternoon.  Inevitably, I would fall asleep in the middle of reading out loud.

6. We didn’t leave the house very often.  I definitely found that the more errands we ran and the more play dates we had, the less learning time we had.  Being home just helped us get more done.

Do you have toddlers or preschoolers now? What tips or advice would you share with others in this stage of life?