I love to write, but I really love to write about the topics that matter most to you. The top 10 most popular posts help me determine that. Did you miss any of these? If so, click the title to read them.
Here’s to a great new year of discovery and sanity-savers. Thank you so much for reading, commenting, and sharing. You are a blessing!
Classical Conversations has become extremely popular with homeschoolers and this huge list of resources organized by cycle and subject area seems to be helpful for those enrolled in the program and those who are curious about it.
This guest post by Francis Wade really resonated with readers and with me personally. In fact, it made me change how I manage my busy life. Don’t miss this one!
I was really blown away by the quality of the free piano instruction Joseph Hoffman supplies and I couldn’t wait to recommend it to readers. Apparently I’m not alone in my opinion! I enjoyed a great conversation with Joseph on my podcast that I link to as well.
I started this challenge at the beginning of 2014 and it has grown in popularity as we begin a new year. I am going to be removing the dated calendars, so you can choose to do the challenges in order or when it works for you. Get your homeschool organized in just an hour a week!
My experimentation with a daily, weekly, monthly to-do list was very popular in 2013, so I wasn’t surprised when my recommendation of another list of this type turned out to be very popular. Would it work for you?
I will say that I was a little surprised by the popularity of this challenge, but happily so. I shared my approach to personal, couple, and family devotions and how to make them habits. I was surprised that so many haven’t found the right approach to make devotions a part of their lives, but I am thrilled by the heartfelt desire to make it happen.
Anything to do with to-do lists is popular on Psychowith6 and this post where I give suggestions for how to manage one is no exception. What’s most important is not the type of list you use, but your commitment to using one consistently. Get the inspiration you need here.
I knew bucket lists were popular, but I didn’t know what a happening time fall is on Pinterest. I you love fall bucket lists, pin this post so you’re ready way ahead of time.
Tom Dixon wrote this post and since no longer has his Monday is Good blog, but I think you’ll be inspired by his excellent goal-setting advice.
Routines have changed my life. It’s hard for me to believe that I once had a willy-nilly-not-so-happy lifestyle, but I did. Complete this challenge for a routine that could change your life, too.
You’ll enjoy reading the other iHomeschool Network bloggers’ top ten posts of 2014.
The purpose of Classical Conversations Foundations is to help our kids memorize key material across subjects. I’ve written about how we use Classical Conversations at home and an ultimate guide to Classical Conversations resources. But I wanted something more.
My passion is for language arts. I especially love to teach writing to my own and friends’ children. I started thinking about how I could combine my passion for writing with Classical Conversations and stayed up late creating a list of 96 creative writing prompts to go with Cycle 3.
You can use these writing prompts even if you don’t use CC
If you don’t use Classical Conversations, I think you will enjoy these creative writing prompts that you can use with your studies of American history and geography and human anatomy.
These writing prompts are flexible
You could assign one a day during the week. You could choose one or two per week or let your child choose. You can also adapt these writing prompts to your child’s ability. If your student isn’t proficient in handwriting or typing yet, have him dictate his writing to you. Or, allow her to use the dictation feature on your phone. If you want to include older students in your Foundations memory work, you can ask them to do some background research for some writing prompts.
These writing prompts will help your children memorize
Kids who don’t like to write usually respond to fun assignments like these. Writing creatively about the material is very helpful in memorization. The added benefit, of course, is your children will continue to improve their writing skills.
All 96 writing prompts are available to subscribers
I’m sharing the first three weeks of writing prompts with you and all 24 weeks’ worth with my subscribers for free. I hope you enjoy them!
History: Write a letter to Columbus warning him not to make the mistakes he made.
English: Write a funny sentence beginning with an infinitive in this format: To __________ or not to ____________; that is the question.
Science: Write an argument from one type of tissue why it’s the most important.
Geography: Write which of the capitals this week is hardest to remember and why.
History: Write where you would like to have landed (instead of Plymouth) on the Mayflower and why.
English: Write a funny sentence that begins with a present participle.
Science: Write a story about waking up and realizing you have no axial skeleton.
Geography: Describe Trenton from New Jersey.
History: Write a story about a colonist who showed up in a different costume for the Boston Tea Party.
English: Write a two-word sentence that includes a past participle.
Science: Write what would happen to you if one of your muscle kinds became huge.
Geography: Pretend that you are Columbia, South Carolina. Write about how you hate being confused with the country of Colombia, South America and what makes you a great place to live.
Be sure to follow my Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Board on Pinterest for more great ideas!
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board CC Cycle 3 on Pinterest.
I shared my enthusiasm for using Classical Conversations Foundations materials independently in my post entitled, Why Classical Conversations Should Be a Part of Your Curriculum. My enthusiasm and my readership have grown since I wrote that review. I have discovered a vast array of fabulous ideas for enriching Classical Conversations learning whether you are studying at home like I am or you’re part of a community. Because I am easily overwhelmed, I wanted to simplify by compiling a list for myself of the best resources available. I thought it might help my readers, too.
I have grouped the resources into the following categories: general information, organization & memory helps, cycle-specific, and subject-specific (which includes Challenge and Essentials). I hope these resources will help make a great curriculum even more of a blessing for you.
Company Resources. The best place to go for general information about Classical Conversations (which I will refer to as CC throughout the post) is the primary website. There you will find a store where you can purchase materials, help locating a CC community in your area, CC Connected (a forum where CC users share ideas), and much more. This video shares more information about what a CC community is all about. Even more beneficial would be attending a local meeting in your area. CC has their own Pinterest account which you can follow to find new products and more. The founder of CC, Leigh Bortins, has also recorded many podcasts relating to CC that you can enjoy in the archives.
Reviews. You may be interested in reading reviews of CC after you’ve visited the website. I’ve already shared the link to my review, but I also recommend an interview on The Homeschool Sanity Show I did with a parent and tutor involved with CC. Mary Prather of Homegrown Learners, one of my guests, shares her own review here. Several users share mixed reviews on The Homeschool Mom. Nurturing Learning shares what she likes and what she doesn’t. The best place to get reviews is your local support group if you are thinking of joining a community.
Used Materials. I have had people ask where is the best place to buy used materials if they want to use them at home as I do. My favorite site for this is Homeschool Classifieds. You can also try Leigh’s List and check my post, The Best Places to Buy or Sell Used Homeschool Curriculum.
Books. You can find books by grade level at Exodus Books. Meagan DeLong’s Pinterest board has links to Bloggers’ book lists for Classical Conversations.
Tutor Materials. Lighthouse Educational Supply sells science and art kits for CC tutors.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board CC General Info on Pinterest.
Organization & Memory Helps
Weekly Ideas. Beth at Classical Conversations at Home gives weekly suggestions (that correspond with the CC community schedule) for supplements to your CC memory work that you can use at home. Teaching Boys and Half a Hundred Acre Wood share how they organize curriculum and schedules around what is taught in community.
Planning. Using the following posts as guides, you can organize all the great ideas you get for each week of CC. Melody at And Here We Go, Mama shares an organizing tutorial with CC newbies. Her approach is very comprehensive and includes putting relevant folders in a hanging file organizer on the wall. Not Consumed also recommends weekly files for teachers and parents alike and includes a weekly memory printable in this post. She shares how she organizes her review and timeline cards here. Nurturing Learning gives instructions for setting up a memory box. Half a Hundred Acre Wood shares free weekly planning pages for CC to use instead of (or in addition to) folders.
Organizing a Notebook. I haven’t been using a notebook or CC notebooking with my kids, but I want to. The following links will help you join me. Not Consumed offers suggestions for setting up CC notebooks, with the most important one being to print forms well ahead of time! Half a Hundred Acre Wood offers a plethora of free printables for your kids’ notebooks in every subject. (Make sure you have plenty of printer ink!)
Displaying Memory Work. The memorization of key information is what I love best about CC. There are memory work printables linked in the last section for student notebooks, but what is out of sight can be out of mind. These are some great ideas for keeping memory work on display. Not Consumed and Half a Hundred Acre Wood share how they use a tri-fold display board to showcase memory work. Monilynlu shares a smaller memory board perfect for small spaces. My Child I Love You shows off this gorgeous display of framed memory work. Half a Hundred Acre Wood shares the option of using a large dry erase board with the week’s timeline cards incorporated. Taylor West set up an impressive timeline wall with all her cards.
General Memory Helps. And Here We Go Mama created a mini book of memory work that can go mobile. Not Consumed uses this door hanger to help track the memory work that’s been done. J K Dewey shares this fun Jeopardy game idea for review. Try this Pictionary Review Game from A Nurse’s Wildflowers. (She has the kids draw the timeline cards as they go). Quizlet has flash cards for CC cycles.
Timeline Memory Helps. This video uses hand motions to go with the Veritas timeline cards if you are still using them as I am. A girl shares the new hand motions for weeks 1-12 of the timeline in this very professional video and for weeks 13-24 in a second video. Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board CC Organization & Memory Helps on Pinterest.
Cycle 1 Resources
Although CC has been studying Cycle 2 during the 2013-2014 school year, using CC independently means you may be interested in Cycle 1 resources any time. If you’re studying with a community, you can refer to this list during the appropriate year.
Planning and Ideas. Half a Hundred Acre Wood offers planning pages for Cycle 1 as well as link-ups where you can get ideas from lots of other bloggers. Also see her Cycle 1 Resource list here. Kim Sevier has a very large idea board on Pinterest.
Memory Helps. Wisdom and Righteousness sells memory work lap books for Cycle 1.
Book lists. A Growing Violet shares a read-aloud book list for Cycle 1.
Videos. This playlist includes many different videos specifically to enrich Cycle 1. April of Stories of Our Boys shares BrainPop videos that correspond with Cycle 1.
Bible. This video reviews the Exodus memory work.
Grammar. This video reviews helping verbs covered in Cycle 1. Jaki Glenn shares this cute idea for using hand cut-outs to remember the weekly helping verbs on Pinterest.
Geography. A girl points out each area for Cycle 1 memory work in this video. And Here We Go Mama shares her cute geography review book for Cycle 1. CCing it One Day at a Time shares her picture flash cards for geography.
Fine Arts. Nurturing Learning shares lesson plans for use with Drawing with Children for weeks 1-6.
Science. And Here We Go Mama recommends this science curriculum as it corresponds to the latter weeks’ science memory work of Cycle 1.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board CC Cycle 1 on Pinterest.
Cycle 2 CC Resources
Planning and Ideas. You can purchase Teaching Plans for Cycle 2 from Sola Gratia Mom and lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning. Life Your Way offers free printable Notebooking Pages that include history, science, geography, and Bible copywork. Don’t miss Becky Tanner’s Pinterest board and Home Grown Learners Pinterest board full of Cycle 2 ideas. Cross and Quill Media offers a list of resources by week as does Magistra Mommy.
Book lists. Life Your Way shares a Cycle 2 book list as does Half a Hundred Acre Wood.
Videos. This playlist contains videos appropriate for all of Cycle 2.
Bible. This video reviews Ephesians memory work. Our Homeschool Experiment offers Ephesians 6 resources for study.
Grammar. Grammar Memory Songs are available for Cycle 2. This grammar video play list was created for this cycle as well.
Science. This playlist features science videos for Cycle 2.
Fine Arts. Nurturing Learning shares many Great Artists resources appropriate for Cycle 2.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board CC Cycle 2 on Pinterest.
Cycle 3 CC Resources
Planning and Ideas. Paula Sloan shares Cycle 3 ideas on her Pinterest board. Half a Hundred Acre Wood shares a thorough list of Cycle 3 resources and a list of supplemental resources.
Videos. This Cycle 3 play list, this one, and this one cover all subjects. You can use these to create your own playlist of favorite videos.
Bible. This video provides John 1 memorization help. This video provides the same memory help in Latin.
Grammar. Classroom Freebies makes this verb tense printable available that works with Cycle 3. I created writing prompts for Cycle 3 that can really enrich kids’ learning.
History. The IEW U.S. History writing lessons go well with Cycle 3 history.
Geography. This 4D U.S. puzzle would be a great addition to Cycle 3 geography.
Latin. This Latin video goes with Cycle 3 Latin work.
Science. The My Body science book dovetails nicely with Cycle 3 science. This body puzzle would be an excellent adjunct to your lessons. This video covers the first few weeks of science.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board CC Cycle 3 on Pinterest.
CC Subject Resources
Latin. This is a list of Latin tutorial videos that can add to your Latin studies. This Latin declension song video and these conjugation aids are also a great help. Kayt D has a large Pinterest board dedicated to CC Latin resources.
Math. Nicole Lopez has a Pinterest Board for CC Math.
Geography. CC Happy Mom has produced geography song videos that will help the kids memorize their geography faster. Kid World Citizen has a thorough guide to map vocabulary that will enrich your geography studies. Triumphant Learning sells a geography field guide that also works well for Challenge A.
Essentials. This video gives an overview of the Essentials program. This video on irregular verbs is an Essentials resource. Allison2524 shares a video playlist for use with Essentials. Michelle B explains how to set up an Essentials notebook in this video.
Challenge A. This Pinterest board by Ann Sydnor has resources and ideas for Challenge A.
Challenge B. Jill Pettis has a Challenge B board with ideas of interest. Challenge 1. Kimberly Wallace has a Challenge 1 board on Pinterest.
Follow Dr. Melanie Wilson @psychowith6’s board CC Subject Areas on Pinterest.
I would love for you to subscribe or follow me on Pinterest for more Classical Conversations goodies and ultimate info.
Be sure to check out the other great Ultimate Guides at iHomeschool Network.
You homeschool because you feel called by God to teach your children. You homeschool because you want to build their godly character. But let’s be honest. You also homeschool because you want your kids to be smart!
At the very least, you want your children to have a good education. You don’t want them to end up on Jay Leno’s Jaywalking segment. (This is when he asks people questions like, “When was the War of 1812?” and they don’t know.)
Why I Wanted Nothing to Do With Classical Conversations
Friends’ experiences with Classical Conversations (CC), while positive, did not convince me that it was for me and my family.
Expense. I thought CC was outside classes that were much too expensive for a large family like mine.
Time. I thought CC would require me to be gone one day a week. That simply wasn’t possible with our family’s schedule.
Dry. When I began homeschooling, the prevailing thinking was to avoid traditional ways of doing school. I knew CC involved lots of memorization. I wanted my kids to read living books and learn actively instead of learning by rote.
Why I Changed My Mind About CC
When my CC-loving friend suggested that I buy the old materials that were on sale cheap, I decided to do some research. I found and read Leigh Bortins’s free ebook and something clicked. I had been homeschooling long enough to learn that memorization was not all bad. While not always fun, it laid the foundation for advanced learning and making connections. I had seen this at work in my teen who learned music as a child, quit the piano for a couple of years, and then returned to it with a passion.
I learned that my children did not have to attend outside classes. I could use CC materials to help my children memorize key information in the major areas at home. What’s more, the materials were quite inexpensive at the time of the sale and buying used. Even new, they’re a bargain for what you get.
I discovered that my kids love to memorize. I sold them on the idea that if they would memorize the information covered in CC, they would be smarter than 95% of other kids. I should note that I just made that figure up. Don’t tell them. The great thing is that they were so motivated that they begged to continue with the second semester’s material when we’d finished the first early.
How to Make CC Work for Your Family
The wonderful thing about doing CC at home is that it works alongside any other curriculum you choose. Using it at home as I do also means that you can use the Cycle that you want (which corresponds to periods of history) and can leave out any aspects you choose. We are using Cycle 3 this year as we are studying American history. We do not do the Latin, choosing instead to study Latin word roots with flashcards. We also don’t use the suggested art or science experiments as we have other curriculum for these subjects.
CC is great for any age, making it perfect for large families like mine. I use the CC CD with Power Point presentations. I connect my laptop to our large-screen TV and everyone can see and hear. My kids, ages 7-14 participate. I explain the purpose of the skip-counting and laugh along with them at the silliness of some of the songs (i.e., the singer laughing at the end of some history songs that seems out of place). We also freely discuss whether or not we like the various songs, which seems to make the process more agreeable.
CC is time-efficient. If we get nothing else done but Bible and CC, I know we’ve covered the most important material. You and your kids can quickly review history, geography, science, English, math, and Latin if you choose. In addition to the CD and guidebook (see a sample of the guidebook here), we also own the history timeline cards. Ours are in clear plastic sleeves in small binders that we got used. We learn these historical events in order as a family, covering just two new events a day. Can you imagine you and your children knowing all the major events of history IN ORDER in one school year? You will experience it if you use this curriculum. If you’re pressed for time, simply cover and review the week’s new material. If you have more time, review the facts you’ve already learned. A full review takes us about 30 minutes. New material takes us only 5-10. You can also purchase music CDs to listen to in the car. I don’t like them because the material isn’t presented by week, but rather by subject. The computer CDs are organized the same way, but are much easier to navigate than a CD player in a 9-passenger van.
You can make CC the basis for a full curriculum if you choose. There are websites like this one with suggestions for how to do it. You can get more information about Classical Conversations at the website and be sure to check out my podcast where we discuss Classical Conversations community programs and ideas for making it work with your curriculum.
What Do You Think?
I should say that I am not affiliated with CC in any way, nor have I received any freebies for this review (too bad, huh?). I’ve just become convinced that many homeschoolers could benefit from including this excellent curriculum in their day.
Have you tried CC classes or curriculum? Are there other reasons that you don’t think CC is for you?