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?



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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: November 2015

I’m thankful that we are moving into November.  I love the increased focus on thankfulness this time of year brings.  We are successfully moved into our new house with only a garage of boxes left.  If I can just find my printer cable, we’ll be all set.

If you are moving in the near future (or thinking about it), you might enjoy what I wrote about homeschooling while moving.  I also updated and added more ideas to our most-read post of all time:  When Homeschooling Gets Tough.  I’d love to hear what you like to do on those tough days as well.

I have some submissions from new and familiar bloggers for this month’s Classical Conversations Blog Carnival.  I am continuing to group the blog posts by Foundations, Essentials, or Challenge.  Each link will open a new tab for you (if I did them all right!).

 CC-Blog-Carnival November 2015


Beth from Pockets Full of rocks gives a good reminder about what we are doing with her post entitled “Today I’m Choosing More Home and Less School”.  Maybe it’s a reminder you need today as well.

Since teaching the tin whistle can be so challenging for many of us (myself included), Mary’s Tin Whistle Teaching Tips come in handy.

Brandy from Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood also has tin whistle notebooking pages you might want to check out.

If you have been wondering what Latin declensions are or looking for a way to practice, both are available on this post with a Latin Noun Declension File Folder game.

Tracy continues to include her weekly Classical Conversations planner on her blog.  Here’s a link to week 9, but there are many other weeks available as well.  Even if you are just looking for one brief activity, you may find just what you are looking for on her plans.

Beth also shared her favorite finds for homeschool decor.  I appreciate her desire to have her home look lovely while having educational decorations.  In fact, I’m hoping to find some good current maps in all neutral colors.  We miss our maps next to our dining room table, but I really want them to look nice while being functional.  (If you have any suggestions, please let me know.)

(If you have a soon-to-be Challenge student, you might want to look at the European countries and capitals flash cards – also listed under the Challenge heading.)


Board Slam (or Number Knockout) is played in Essentials classes.  I love this at-home (or in-class) twist of combining Board Slam with Battleship.  Our family will have to play this on a day when we need some fun math practice.



Life Together shares about looking ahead to the Challenge Program.  This is a nice overview of Challenge if you are wondering what is coming in future years.

Marc writes for the CC Writers Circle about studying philosophy in Challenge III.  I can’t read anything Marc shares about the upper Challenge levels without getting excited for our future learning.  R.C. Sproul’s book may need to make it onto my own book list soon.

Brandy made some great European country and capital flashcards.  Since I memorized all of Eastern Europe states and capitals right before the Berlin Wall came down, I think I need a refresher course.

For Challenge B (current events), Betsy gives a review of World Magazine and World Teen.  If you are looking for Christian sources for news while studying current events, you might want to check this out.  (The review includes a give-away that has already ended.)

All three levels of Classical Conversations:

Mary from Homegrown Learners shares Ten Reasons We Love Classical Conversations.  (Since she has children in Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge, this post really fits all the categories of CC.)  Our family shared why we love CC last winter.  I love how our lists don’t include all the same ideas!

If you are pondering the role of questions in classical education,  Betsy includes a nice overview of classical education as well as how questions fit into grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages of learning.

Betsy also has lots of resources for the classical educator (mom).  This includes information for lots of levels of learning.


I hope you enjoyed November’s CC blog carnival.  If you want to submit a post or find past CC blog carnival’s, check out the Blog Carnival page.  May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Oh give thanks to the LORD,

for he is good;

for his steadfast love endures forever!

1 Chronicles 16:34

CC Blog Carnival: October 2015

October is here, and it’s time for the latest Classical Conversations Blog Carnival.  I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that it is already October, but it really is.  For our family, October is going to include moving into our new home.

There are a number of resources from bloggers I will be sharing below – arranged into the categories of Foundations, Essentials, Challenge, and General Homeschooling.  There are many great posts in the General Homeschooling category this month – including a giveaway we are running, so make sure you scroll down to that category.  If you are a blogger and want to contribute to a future blog carnival, please email me entries by the 28th of the month.  (More information can be found on the CC Blog Carnival page.)

CC-Blog-Carnival October 2015


Anne from 101 Days of Homeschooling writes about Foundations’ abstract art including a tip for moms being in the CC program that I wish I had followed these last few years.

At the Essential Homestead, Traci shares what her weekly at-home plans look like.  Here is her plan for Week 5.  (By the way, Traci blogs about all more than homeschooling – homesteading and recipes are just a few of her topics.)

Here are some Bible verses on classroom management that I use with my Foundations class (and my own children).

Mary from Homegrown Learners talks about how her family processes the grammar of any subject including referencing the 4R’s in the CC Foundations Guide.  She gave a very simple example of how our children can learn any new information.

This paper bag book craft idea from Aurie at Our Good Family seems like it could have a ton of applications beyond the history book she made.  I may have to show my daughter because it seems like a craft she would enjoy making (maybe after we move).

Brandy From Half-a-hundred Acre Wood offers some great tutor helps (as well as at home) for science and fine arts this month.  The crayfish anatomy drawing will definitely be a resource for me.  She also put together a number of posters and printables about the scientific method.  Brandy’s giantic music staff  is much better than the one I made when I tutored the abcedarians and has instructions.

I put together a video list for Cycle 1 history of what we hope to watch.  This list includes DVDs and selections from Amazon Prime.


This Essentials Review Scavenger Hunt from 101 Days of Homeschooling looks like a ton of fun.  It would be fun in class but also could be modified to do at home.


Marc relates a story from his Challenge III class about Chemistry and Descartes.  I really enjoy reading about the Challenge classes at CC.  Every time I do, I wish I was a part of the class!  I get so excited for what’s coming in my children’s education.  Anyone else relate?

General Homeschooling:

I reviewed a classical Bible curriculum and am running a giveaway right now.

Allie from 17th Street Blessings gave encouragement about asking for homeschooling discounts at a store local to her, but it is a valuable reminder for all of us to remember to ask.

Jessica from Homeschooling 4 Real talked about how her family has simplified their morning devotions.

Aurie from Our Good Family made a list of some of her favorite homeschool resources.

Beth from Pockets Full of Rocks shared her essential gear for family sporting events.  I think some CC moms might find this helpful for community days as well (even Beth said she uses some of this gear for her community day).

I hope you have found some great ideas and encouragement through this CC blog carnival.


Cycle 1 History Videos We Hope To Watch (Including Amazon Prime)

Here is a list of cycle 1 history videos we hope to watch this year (including Amazon Prime selections).  Last year, I made a list of videos we hoped to watch for Cycle 3 (found here).  We honestly didn’t get to all of them, but it was a good reference for me when we had a chance to watch.  (Our family loves to listen to audio so you might like our Cycle 1 audio list as well.)

Cycle 1 History Videos

DVDs we have so far:

(These actually can be bought as a set, Ancient History Series.  We also want to get Drive Thru History Holy Land Series soon.  We love our U.S. history ones we bought last year.)

For family movie nights:

The Ten Commandments (cartoon)
Ben-Hur (We’ll probably watch this at some point since we listed to the audio Ben Hur (from our Cycle 1 audio list).

From Amazon Prime:

(If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can always try the Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial.)

Timelines Of Ancient Civilizations: Season 1 – this show includes many of the civilizations we’ll study this year.  I’m excited to check this one out as a family.

Early civilizations (not particular week, but definitely timeline):

Minoans: Public Peace & Ritual Violence (includes talk of secret human sacrifice)

Phoenicians: The Alphabet & Carthage’S Hannibal

The Pyramids & Ancient Egypt

Ancient Israel (weeks 1-2):

Ancient Israel & Jerusalem

Ancient Greece (week 3)

Ancient Athens

Ancient Greece

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (week 4)

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus & The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

The Colossus of Rhodes & The Pharos of Alexandria

Introduction to the 14 Wonders of the World & The Great Pyramid at Giza

Ancient Rome (week 3, 5, 6)

Rome: The Rise Of Christianity

Rome: Decadence & Decline

Roman Feats Of Engineering


Rome: The Empire

Ancient Rome

Rome: Village To Republic

Rome: Military Conquests

Gandhi (week 8)

Gandhi – I don’t remember this movie about Gandhi so I’ll probably preview it before we watch it.

week 11, 12

Jordan – This video includes ruins from the Byzantine Empire and Islamic/Arabic influences as well as Roman ruins.  (It helps me see where so many of these civilizations existed in the same location.)

Mesoamerican civilizations:  week 16

Mexico – While titled “Mexico”, this talks about a number of Mesoamerican civilizations including the Aztecs (week 17) – it also has a section on the day of the dead that we fast-forwarded.

Mayans: Deception By Temple Rituals

Mexican Indian Civilizations: The Maya

Aztecs (week 17)

Mexican Indian Civilizations: Olmecs To Aztecs

Napoleon (week 24)

Napoleon At Waterloo: The Battle For Europe


My children have been enjoying a few of these videos, but we did run across some ancient civilizations talking about human sacrifices.  Reminder:  false gods, human sacrifice, and other sensitive issues might be in these videos.

I didn’t find videos for every week of Cycle 1, but we also won’t have time to watch every week.  Are there any videos you would had to this list (DVD, Amazon Prime, or even from other sources)?  If so, let me know!  


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