Category Archives: Classical Conversations

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 17 and 18

Classical Conversations Week 17 Week 18

We’re still in the taxes-filled zone around here (see Week 15 and 16 for more dull details, if you want them), so once again, I’m combining my Week 17 and 18 into a single post.


I don’t know about you guys, but I think some of the hardest memory sentences are the ones which are really just a list of names. We acted out the ones from the Renaissance (Week 6) based on their occupation. We used the dress-up game for WWI leaders (Week 14). And now for WW II leaders, we did some goofy acting out. I did print out Melody Stroud’s history cards (we’re using ALL her cards at home for review, see below) from CC Connected (listed under melodystroud) to use as additional visuals in class (I think it’s nice to try to introduce the grammar in a way that works for at least two learning styles if you can). We held our arms in a big “X” for Axis and shook our hands in front of us (like the “England” sign for “Alfred the Great of England” in the Timeline motions). Here are the GOOFY motions we used for the leaders:

  • Hitler: hit our palm with our other fist (we also used this in Week 16, so at least we’re consistent in our goofiness)
  • Tojo: lifted our foot and pointed to our toe
  • Mussolini: hands on our heads with fingers spread apart like the antlers of a moose (we also use that this week for our _bimus Latin ending. Again, we are nothing if not consistent in our insanity.)
  • Churchill: form fingers into church and steeple . . . you know the little children’s rhyme “Here is the church, here is the steeple . . . “
  • Roosevelt: pretend to smell a rose
  • Eisenhower: point to our eye
  • MacArthur: salute
  • Stalin: finger over our upper lip like a mustache

I know that you are now SO impressed that you will insist that CC adopt these as their standard hand motions and next time we do this cycle, I’ll be featured in my own video on the website, right there with the woman doing ACTUAL sign-language in the Timeline video.  Right? Sure.

We used those same basic hand motions for Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin during Week 18.

There’s a nice little overview of the United Nations in the following video. It probably goes without saying that the United Nations is a hot topic, which raises wildly differing views. This is a simple, positive video overview or the formation, intent, and structure of the UN that I would say is very appropriate (if a bit dry) for Foundations-level students. Skip reading the comments on the video (visible if you access it directly at YouTube), many of which are NOT kid-friendly.

And, if you’re a fan of Kid President, here’s a video of his visit to the UN for World Humanitarian Day (not so much educational, but he’s a cute kid):

The following video about the UN gave me flashbacks of high school, but it is a pretty straight forward overview of the history, purpose, and structure of the UN.


This book looks great! I have it on hold at the library and will update you in a week or so after we’ve had a chance to read and use it!

Awesome looking book for learning about Newton and his discoveries of the Laws of Physics! CC Cycle 2 Weeks 16-18

Got a child who loves graphic novels and comic books? I have two! If you do, check this one out, it gets excellent reviews and sounds perfect for early elementary!

Cool Looking Graphic Novel for learning about Isaac Newton and his laws of Physics. CC Cycle 2 Weeks 16-18

And while we’re on a graphic novel roll, this looks interesting, too (and there’s one on States of Matter in the same series . . . why am I just discovering this now???):

Cool looking graphic novel about the laws of physics. CC Cycle 2 Weeks 16-18.

And of course, this is usually a reliably good series, too:

This is a great series of books for learning about history! CC Cycle 2 Weeks 16-18

If you enjoy Peabody and Sherman videos, don’t overlook the one on Isaac Newton.

There’s a series of short videos available at on Isaac Newton. I’ve watched the “Mini Biography” and it’s great. I have not yet watched the others, so I would recommend that you preview them before you show your children.

There’s also a section on Isaac Newton on Jim Weiss’ CD “Galileo and the Stargazers” Audio CD, which I also recommended for learning about Copernicus back on Week 6 of this cycle.

Awesome CD for learning about Copernicus (Week 6) and Isaac Newton (Weeks 16-18) during CC Cycle 2!

If you didn’t see it in my last post, here’s a way to illustrate all three of Newton’s laws of motion using matchbox cars:

Science Project

I felt like this week’s science experiment needed some explanation beyond the projects/experiments. I’m going to outline what I chose to do here, just in case it’s helpful to another tutor or two as a jumping off point for doing something (probably something much more impressive!) for your own class. With a little help from my husband (who managed to round up things that were basically trash from around the house to help me out!), I did a little bit of an illustration before we dug into the outlined projects from the Foundations guide. I took an old lampshade to class (Yep, that’s right, a lampshade. We homeschoolers are resourceful folk.) and we pretended that it was a mountain. I showed the kiddos a matchbox car and explained that there were basically 3 ways to get the car to the top of the mountain:

  1. Lift it straight up, which would take a LOT of force/strength/energy,
  2. Build a long ramp that leads from the top of the mountain down to a point in the distance away from the mountain (I illustrated this with a piece of yarn stretched from the top of the mountain to a point down on the table. We pretended to drive the car up it and introduced the term “inclined plane.”). This would take longer, but would require less effort,
  3. Or (and largely because we can’t just build HUGE ramps everywhere) we can twist the inclined plane around the mountain, so the car can drive up it without having to start VERY far away from the base of the mountain.

Then we did the pencil/paper science project illustrating the same thing, so that they could all do it themselves. Using the yarn made it easy to illustrate why it would also take LONGER to get up the mountain on the inclined plane wrapped around it (the angle becomes more shallow and the road gets longer than the ramp would be) than it would to drive up a ramp built up its side.

Then, I took a rubber doorstop and explained that sometimes an inclined plane is used as a wedge to lift something heavy. After demonstrating that, it was easy to tie in the road illustration and the wedge illustration to explain that a screw is a type of “winding wedge” and we did the second experiment.

There are also some great videos available on the subject! A fellow tutor showed the following two to her class to help explain the experiments and they were captivated.

There’s also this one:

And, finally, here’s nice, simple experiment (performed by a kid) to illustrate the benefit of an inclined plane and how it works as a tool. She doesn’t actually do all the measuring, but I think you’ll all understand what she’s saying – if you lift the heavy object straight up, the rubber band will stretch more than it will when you pull it up the inclined plane because it takes less effort when you use the inclined plane, which is a simple, but very helpful, tool. The effort will be even less (and the rubber band will stretch less) when you make the angle of the inclined plane less steep. So, just like in our pencil and paper experiment for CC this week, it might take longer to get up the incline, but it also takes less work.


Man, I’ve been waiting for us to get caught up with this Geography review game for weeks 13-18!  My son will be thrilled that there’s a new geography game to play!

Fine Art

I purchased the following video series, called Understanding Art: Impressionism. We have not yet watched it, so I’ll have to report back later! The Full Season instant video can be purchased from Amazon for $9.99 (the DVD retails for $52), or individual episodes are available for $2.99.  I think Monet is discussed in nearly every episode (no surprise), Degas and Morisot are discussed in at least one (Episode 3 – Painting to the People).

Edit: I’ve started watching the series, and while I think it is very interesting and informative, some of the information is more sensational than I think appropriate for my children. My husband and I will probably finish watching it together (it IS interesting!) and gauge what age it might be appropriate for our children, but 7 and 5 are not the right age, in my opinion.

Videos series for learning about Impressionist Artists. Gets EXCELLENT reviews and looks wonderful!

Week 17, Degas:

Once again, I’m recommending a book (and video if you can find it!) from Mike Venezia’s “Getting to Know” series. I’ll spare you the accolades about the series. Just check all the other posts where I’ve recommended them.

EXCELLENT book from a FANTASTIC series! This one would be great for CC Cycle 2 Week 17, for learning about Degas!


These Anholt Artists books are also very sweet storybook-style books about artists. Not as many facts, but excellent as an introduction.

Great picture-book introduction to Degas. CC Cycle 2 Week 17.

Week 18 Morisot:

I needed help with pronunciation of her name! Do you? If so, this is very helpful!

There is a short video about a Morisot painting available here at Christies (related to the sale of the painting being described) that discusses her technique and how it relates to other Impressionist artists.


If you’re looking for a good resource for images of Morisot’s work, these two sites seems to have a good selection:

Review Games

I printed off all of Melody Stroud’s History sentence cards from CC Connected, cut them up, shuffled all the weeks that we’ve been through so far and handed them to my kiddos to sort into complete sentences. This was even more challenging for them than I thought it might be, so I go involved in “helping” them figure it out (in the sense that “helping” means handing my daughter a card every once in a while when she knew what was next but couldn’t actually seem to see the card, or the sense that “helping” means handing stacks of cards my daughter had put in order to my son with instructions to “double check and make sure we got it right”). It probably took nearly an hour, but they got a GREAT review of the history sentences in the process! We’ll be doing this exercise again soon!

This post is linked to:

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood Solagratiamom™

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 15 and 16

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 15 Week 16

This is the time of year in our family when a couple of things typically happen:  1) We’re just really getting back into the school “groove” and I start to feel good about what we’re accomplishing and 2) tax season hits.

In some past life that I occasionally have flashbacks of, I was a CPA who had VERY, VERY little to do with taxes. I spent most of my time (and by that, I mean 50-80 hours/week) auditing fairly large, often publicly-traded companies. I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll just skip to the end of the story . . . I don’t do that any more.

Okay, if you want more details (skip on down if you don’t), I resigned because by husband operates his own business (now businesses) and needed more accounting and office management than I could provide him after exerting all my energy on someone else’s business. I resigned, got pregnant, felt yucky, had a baby, and now I exert all my energy on children and homeschool and my husband still needs more accounting and office management than I’m able to provide. See how well that worked out for him? One less income, more mouths to feed, same pitiful amount of attention. Have I mentioned that my husband is wonderful? Consequently, I really am always trying to balance it out, and at this time of year, the balance tips in his favor. I also help out another CPA doing business taxes at this time of year. So, more time on taxes and business = less time on cool CC stuff and blogging.

It only lasts for a few weeks, and then the scales will tip back the other direction.

Review Games

Awesome and Simple Memory Master Sticker Sheets! Great way for kids to see how they're doing!

I don’t think we’re actually going to Memory Master this year, but I like to act like we’re still shooting for it so we still push ourselves in review. I made the kids some sheets to keep up with what they’ve mastered and what they haven’t, based on what this CC mom had done.  When they can answer the review question with absolutely no assistance, they get a sticker. And, because I am not above bribery (although I’m not usually prone to it, either), I offered them a chocolate chip for every 5 in a row they can get. Again, we got in a LOT of review in exchange for some stickers and a couple (really, just a couple . . . we need to do a lot more review!) of chocolate chips. You can download a copy for yourself by clicking on the image to the right, or by visiting the printables page.

This week, I decided that we needed a new review game at home to spice things up! I’ve seen Jenga versions of CC review games in abundance, so I decided to go with one of those. Like the CC mom at this blog, I did this the “quick and dirty” way . . . I just used a sharpie and wrote on my Jenga pieces. It’s fast, it doesn’t throw the balance of the blocks off, and you can just ignore it if you want to play Jenga and NOT review CC. The only difference I made, was that I did not write the weeks on my blocks, just the subjects. I didn’t want to be locked in to which weeks we were reviewing. I’d rather create piles of my CC memory review card by subject and then just draw from them based on what’s written on the block that you pull. There are 54 pieces in a complete Jenga set, so I just dealt them evenly into 7 stacks, and then any extras went into the stacks that I think we struggle more with (History sentences, Geography, etc. I avoided extra blocks for Timeline and Math, since we repeat those each cycle already.) After that, it was easy and fun and I ended up taking it to class with us and using it there, as well.

Jenga aside, do you know what my kids’ favorite way of reviewing this past week was? Using a card game that came in a Chic-Fil-A kids meal. My son got it as a prize for bringing his Bible and looking up his memory verse in his Wednesday night class at church (I love his teachers – encouraging Bible literacy in your Kindergarten class rocks!). It’s called “Cattle Drive,” but basically it’s just “War” with a smaller cow-themed deck of cards. My kids don’t play war all that fast (it’s just never occurred to them) and they’re totally used to using a game to review CC, so when I was asking them how they wanted to review last week, my son suggested this game and said they’d just answer a CC question on each turn. The loser (lowest number card) of the turn got to read the question for the winner (highest number of card). They reviewed a good chunk of CC that morning over breakfast this way . . . and the only effort it required on my part was pulling out our CC memory cards. Winner!


COOL book! Reader can "choose their path" through the book and get an overview of World War I. Available in hardcopy or an interactive Kindle version.I recommended this WWI book in my last post before we’d really had a chance to use it. Now that we’ve had it and used it on our Kindle, I’m going to give this book a second shout out. I’m also going to recommend the WWII book. I think this book would work well in hard copy, as well, but we REALLY enjoyed it on our Kindle. It’s nice that we can walk through just a “path” or two and then put the book down and come back to it later.  I’ve found it particularly amusing to hear my children advocate for choosing paths of totally different risk-levels (My son:  “Skip the additional training, go straight to the front!!” vs My daughter: “Let’s stay in the U.S. and see if/when they decide to join the war.”). I will warn you that, as would often happen in war, a great deal of the paths don’t end well – you die, your lungs are damaged for the rest of your life, etc., but they aren’t gruesome. 

Super COOL book! Reader can "choose their path" through the book and get an overview of World War II. In hardcopy or an interactive Kindle version. The first time we chose a path that resulted in our character dying, my children stopped and looked at me. They don’t often (ever!) read books that don’t have happy endings, so this was a new experience. Not a bad one, though. Wars are NOT warm and fuzzy experiences, and while my natural tendency is to focus on heart-warming or heroic stories like these:

  • the Christmas Truce of WWI,
  • Nicholas Winton (who was responsible for the Czech Kindertransport of WWII that saved 669 children from concentration camps),
  • or the Little Ships of Dunkirk where 700 privately owned boats (we’re talking fishing boats, ferries, and yachts) sailed across the English channel and assisted in rescuing 338,000 French and English troops who had been cut off from the rest of the forces and trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk

. . . those stories aren’t representative of the whole experience. These interactive books have done a good job of helping me to really explain to my children how horrible war can be without it being a traumatizing experience.

If you enjoy the Horrible Histories videos, here’s a link to a playlist of WWII related videos. While we did find these interesting, I didn’t find them to be as educational as they have been on other subjects.

I find these Crash Course History videos very interesting and educational. I almost always learn something I didn’t know or hear a perspective that I haven’t thought of. For the WWII video, I’m going to say that it’s generally not appropriate for elementary-aged kiddos. Preview it and make your own call. There’s just too much about WWII that is gruesome (and captured in photo and film) for young kids, plus there’s some language and imagery here that I would prefer my kiddos not to see (and there’s so much information covered so quickly, I think they’d struggle with digesting it, anyway).  For adults, and high-school students, this is just what it says – a crash course in WWII . . .

There is, of course, also a crash course in WWI. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you think it’s appropriate for younger kiddos. It’s less gruesome, but still may not be something your younger children will be able to follow (or that you want them to watch).


Here’s a way to illustrate all three of Newton’s laws of motion using matchbox cars:

This video is a nice little overview of Newton’s First Law of motion:

The following video elaborates on Newton’s first law of motion and defines and illustrates different kinds of forces.


This awesome CC mom uses a different tune than we use in our community, but I love how she integrates hand motions into her geography songs. The hand motions often help me remember which countries are where!

Week 16 Balkans:

Week 15 Middle East:

Fine Art

I wasn’t able to find many resources for Gainsborough (week 15), but of course the resources for Monet are nearly unending! Here are my absolute favorites!

I keep recommending the books and videos in this “Getting to Know . . . ” series by Mike Venezia because I think they are so good! Again, the video is just cost prohibitive to purchase (check your library!), but the book is reasonable, and Monet is an artist that you and your children will enjoy revisiting year-after-year.

Love this whole "Getting to Know . . . " series! This one is AWESOME for Cycle 2 Week 16 about Monet!

This is both an excellent book and video. It’s sweet with lots of great information about Monet, as told by a little girl who visits his art and his historic home.

Lovely book for learning about Monet! CC Cycle 2 Week 16Sweet DVD for learning about Monet! CC Cycle 2 Week 16


These two books were new to us, this year. They’re great for pre-school and early elementary students. They contain easily understood information about Monet on well-illustrated pages. There are more in-depth biographies at the end of both books (but if you’re family is like ours, you children start to lose interest at that point). The first book, “Monet Paints a Day” has boxes on each page that are separate from the story-line but contain great information about the artist. I liked having the option to add in more elaborate information as I read.

Great book for learning about Monet for preschool or early elementary! CC Cycle 2 Week 16 Great book for learning about Monet for preschool or early elementary! CC Cycle 2 Week 16

This book was also a new discovery this year. It is EXCELLENT! Lots of good information about Monet and the Impressionist movement are woven through the story, and I loved that this book focused on paintings that we aren’t as familiar with.

Great book for learning about Monet for elementary kids! CC Cycle 2 Week 16


Biography has a nice biography and a nice brief biographical video about Monet.

This is an interesting video about Monet, that focuses on his garden at Giverny.

One last note for those of you that live in the Middle Tennessee area. The Frist Center for the Arts in Nashville (free for children under 18, $10 for adults + parking) will be hosting an exhibit entitled “Looking East” through May 11, 2014. The pieces are on loan from the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. The purpose of the exhibit is to illustrate how Japanese art influenced other artists across the globe . . . after the U.S. restored trade with Japan (see Timeline Week #18). During Japan’s Isolation (see Timeline Week #15), Western artists weren’t able to see what was going on there, so after Japan re-opened its borders to the world (thanks to the work of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry, see CC History Sentence from Cycle 1, Week 10), there was a shift in modern art around 1872. How cool to see our Timeline and Fine Art illustrated for us in one place! Japanese art will be on display beside paintings and prints of Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch and the furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Two of those artists – Claude Monet and Edgar Degas are covered in our current (Cycle 2) fine arts! It’s rare to get to see our history grammar and art illustrated this way, so take advantage of it, if you can!

This post is linked to:

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood Solagratiamom™

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 14

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 14 teaching World War I history. CUTE dress up kit!

While there were some tough grammar areas, in my opinion, this week (English, History and Math were all just really long meaty!), I still really enjoyed it and we came up with some fun stuff to do with all of them!

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 14 teach World War I historical figures with a printable "Dress-up" kit. SO CUTE!History

Who else noticed this week that crazy, over-the-top mustaches must have been ALL the rage in Europe during WWI? I mean, SERIOUSLY the facial hair on these world leaders was crazy! There’s actually quite a bit of discussion on the internet about it, and I even read that David Lloyd George kept his specifically trimmed to a length that would not interfere with the seal on his gas mask. Crazy!

So, to have a little fun with what was otherwise just a long list of names and countries, we played a little dress-up! If you’d like to download some “glasses and ‘staches” of your own, you can do so here ( WW-I-Historical-Character-Dress-up.pdf (3529 downloads) ) or by clicking the image to the right. Have some fun and learn a little history! (I added a card for Austria-Hungary in case anyone would like to use these cards next week when we discuss Axis vs. Allies).

By the way, I asked my children to smile when I was taking their pictures wearing their “glasses and ‘staches” and my daughter (without changing the expression on her face or the tilt of her head) pointed to the photo of Wilson on the card in front of her and said “I can’t.” Apparently, if you’re going to wear the glasses (or ‘staches) you gotta’ wear the expression, too.

Horrible Histories has done several fun videos about World War I. I haven’t watched them all. This one is an overview of what caused WWI and how Britain came to get involved:

This is just an interesting one about the British forces in WWI and where they were from:

This book looks great! It does a nice little summary of the causes of WWI, and then focuses on the Christmas Day truce, a topic that always fascinates me !

Book for expanding on Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 4 WWI History Sentence.

We checked this book out at Christmas and I loved it (totally made me cry . . . not that that is too hard to do). It’s definitely more about the Christmas Day truce than it is about all of the details of WWI, but it’s still a wonderful little book!

Great book about the Christmas Truce of WWI. Excellent for expanding on CC Cycle 2 Week 14, or for adding to a collection of Christmas books.

This is SUCH a neat concept for a book!  Here’s a history of WWI where “you choose” your role as you explore the events that transpired.  The excerpt from Amazon: “World War I has just exploded in Europe. The peace of the entire world is in danger. How will you help? Will you: Join the Belgian resistance movement? Fight as a British Army soldier? Serve as a volunteer with the American Field Service?”  There are hardcopy versions of the book, as well as a Kindle version. Very cool! My daughter JUST finished earning the money she needed to buy her own Kindle. She’s going to love trying this book out on it!

COOL book! Reader can "choose their path" through the book and get an overview of World War I. Available in hardcopy or an interactive Kindle version.


I didn’t find any great resources for reinforcing at, an elementary level, the difference between an acid and a base, this week. If you did, please leave me a note in the comments! I’d love to have something.

One thing that might be fun this week is just to explain to the kids what happens when you combine an acid and a base. They work to neutralize each other, and as a result, sometimes the reactions are really interesting! The classic example of this in your home is Baking Soda and Vinegar.  There’s a fun example of a way to show this here.

Here’s some trivia that I didn’t know: Cabbage juice can be used as an indicator of whether something is an acid or a base.  Apparently, this is interesting enough trivia that even Martha Stewart was willing to include it on her show (instructions at the link . . . or you can just watch the video from her show).

Fine Art

There’s also not a lot to say about this week’s “Artist” since he’s known better as a scientist than an artist! However, I want to take a moment and recommend this book. I was only able to find it used, but it’s a neat perspective on art appreciation and contains all of the artists we’re covering this semester except for Linnaeus. I was able to pick up a “Very Good” used copy from Amazon for about $5.  The only real downside – my children have been fighting over it since it arrived.

Neat book for broadening art appreciation! Contains paintings by 5 of the 6 artists from Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations.


Review Games

I made up a Jeopardy game board this week like the one found at this blog. Brilliant! The kids enjoyed it in class and my children loved playing today at home. Sometimes you just need to freshen things up and throw in something new and this worked perfectly! I’m so appreciative to all the other CC parents who share their ideas and creativity!

This post is linked to:

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 13

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 13 Liquid Equivalents

Welcome Back! I hope that you all had a wonderful break. We’re back in action in our Classical Conversations community this week, and although I feel a little like I’m swimming through jello trying to get myself and my family back into the routine of things, we ARE slowly getting our cylinders all fired up and in sync!


Usually, for this week’s Math, I use a Gallon Man or Gallon Bot to reinforce the idea of liquid equivalents. There is a nice Gallon Man that someone has posted on CC Connected (C3) and there is a Gallon Bot available at Super Teacher Worksheets.

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 13 Liquid Equivalents Homeschool Math

What I’ve noticed about myself, however, is that it actually helps me more to SEE the liquid equivalents in action. I understand it much better when I think about it as I’m working around the kitchen. So, this time I decided to actually do a demonstration. In class, we took a gallon of water and broke it down backwards. Because of the time constraints, we were only able to do it once (I took an extra gallon pitcher to house excess water), but then were still able to use the empty containers to go over the grammar multiple times in class.

At home, we’re continuing to use the same containers as we review the memory work. My children just pretend to pour the liquid the appropriate number of times. They’ve been able to remember the grammar, as well as think about the math a little more (if there are 2 cups in a pint and 2 pints in a quart, how many cups are in a quart? etc.). I think it’s been very helpful! Seeing the relative size of the containers has made the abstract concept much more concrete in their minds.


I may have mentioned this before, but I like to do impromptu presentations a couple of times each year. This year, I did more planning than usual and arranged things so that we did impromptu presentations the week after coming back from each of our breaks in the Fall and Winter. I realize that sometimes the kids have GREAT things to report on from their breaks, and I would never mind a bit if someone preferred to do a prepared presentation those days, but as a parent, trying to get presentations ready those weeks always causes me a ridiculous amount of stress! It’s just like I’m not ready to start getting snacks packed, lunches packed, backpacks packed, and all the other things that go with preparing for CC Community day, and trying to get the presentations rounded up and ready on top of that is just too much for me that first week back! It always spoils my break a little. All the rest of you are probably much more pulled together than me and don’t mind it a bit, BUT I think it’s the PERFECT time to just do impromptu presentations!

In the Fall, I brought in a box of random objects. This children each drew an object out of the box and did a presentation on it. Some of them were VERY creative! Kids are so awesome! Some examples of things I put in the box were:

  • Plain paper
  • Paper plates
  • Egg carton
  • Plastic cups
  • Cotton balls
  • Yarn/String
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Dried pasta
  • Small pieces of PVC pipe (they were actually part of a marshmallow shooter)
  • Paper clips
  • Buttons
  • Paint stirrers

Impromptu-Speech-PromptsI tried to come up with things for which I could think of at least two uses quickly and things that I thought the kids would generally be familiar with. I did this last year during second semester with abecedarians and was absolutely AMAZED at how well they did! My whole crew of 4 and 5 year olds walked up to the box, picked something out without debate or distress, walked straight to the front of the class and just talked. It just reminded me again about what a wonderful blessing CC and this presentation time each week is!

This week, we used some speech prompts. The kids drew a slip of paper from a bag (I allowed them to draw 2 and choose between them) and then made their presentation. Again, I was so impressed with how well they all did! If you’d like to download the Speech Prompts we used, you’ll find them here ( Impromptu-Topics.pdf (603 downloads) ) or on the Printables page.


Here’s a pretty decent video with information about Prince Henry the Navigator. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s difficult to read some of the text aloud quickly enough. On the upside, my effort to do so totally cracked my kiddos up and they cheered for me on the shorter slides where I was able to actually read the content to them completely before they changed. You know . . . it’s good to stay humble.

There are also some good videos and linked on the Age of Exploration and Prince Henry at this website:

One of the copies of the Gutenberg Bible is on display in the Library of Congress. We were able to see it when we went to DC last spring. It really is an amazing thing to behold! Especially since it’s displayed across from the Giant Bible of Mainz, which looks very similar and was handwritten in the same town of Mainz, Germany around the same time that Gutenberg was printing his Bibles. It took over a year for the handwritten Mainz Bible to be completed. Our tour guide told us 150 copies of Gutenberg’s Bible were probably completed in about the same time period. Fascinating! It’s definitely a must see (in my book) on your next trip to Washington DC. The Library of Congress, as a whole, was my favorite part of our last trip there!

This book on Gutenberg is great, but it looks like only used copies are available via Amazon (check your local library!).

Product Details


I have 2 books to recommend this week relating to our history grammar. The first, in particular, is great! It contains a section on Gutenberg (this week’s timeline) as well as one on James Watt. It’s written comic book style, and the histories are brief, but well done and interesting.

Product DetailsProduct Details

I thought this video was an interesting overview of the Industrial Revolution. My 5 and 7 year old were not as enamored. To quote my very tactful 7 year-old: “He blabbed on too much.” It is a little longer, and moves a bit quickly for younger children. Probably best for middle school and up.


I found several videos this week. This first one is the very best one that I found for discussing all 4 states of matter. At 2:50, there is a vague reference to the Big Bang (a large amount of energy converts to matter). Near the end, there is a tie in to the definition of inertia, which will be coming up in our Science grammar.

Cute video excerpt from the Zula Patrol cartoon. Does a nice (quick) overview of 3 of the states of matter. Great for preschoolers and early elementary age children:

This is an excellent video on 3 of the states of matter, filmed in a glass studio. Excellent for early elementary and up. There is some non-narrated text that will need to be read aloud for non-readers (or slower readers):

Since the two videos above only discuss solids, liquids, and gases, we need to give plasma some attention! This video offers a good overview of what plasma is and where it can be found:

Fine Art

I’ve created some artist bios with examples of their artwork and have uploaded them to C3. Link is here for those of you with access to C3.

I adore the”Getting to Know” series written by Mike Venezia. There are books on SO many artists and other famous historical figures and they are written in an extremely approachable way. There are also videos on many, but not all, of the individuals. Rembrandt is one for whom there is a book and a video and I would HIGHLY recommend them both. The book is very reasonably priced on Amazon. The videos are cost prohibitive (I can only assume that they expect well-funded school and library systems to shell out big bucks), so if you’re able to find it at your local library snag it! They are SO good!

Product Details


Here are two websites with good links to Rembrand bios and artwork:

A very brief video studying one of Rembrandt’s self portraits. This is a particularly good video choice if your community chose to sketch self-portraits for art for this week. Good for all ages:

My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE thing to recommend this week is this video. I love a good flash mob video! This is a flash mob sponsored by the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to publicize a Rembrandt exhibition that included his most famous work – The Night Watch. It really is very cool! Be sure and pause it after the frame falls down and see if your children can see the characters from the original painting. It’s a fun way to really take some time to examine the artwork.



This post is linked to: Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 12

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 12

Our Classical Conversations group took a field trip this week to the Dyer Observatory. If you live in or around Nashville, I would HIGHLY recommend it. It was an exceptionally good field trip and dovetailed BEAUTIFULLY with our recent CC Cycle 2 Science Grammar and Science Projects. The astronomer in charge re-visited the relative size of the planets and stars, took us on a planet walk to show us the relative position of the planets, educated us about the different planets as we walked, then did an activity to illustrate the phases of the moon and showed us the telescope they use at the observatory and how the roof moves to allow it access. It was very cool!

Our field trip yesterday is one of the reasons I’m a day later than usual getting this post up! We were gone half the day for that and then we also had to deal with a neighborhood dog attacking one of our chickens! We thought she was a goner when we left for our field trip, but my husband (now known as the “Chicken Whisperer”) did not give up on her and, while she is terribly beaten up, she’s definitely hanging in there. We’re now referring to her as “Timex” since she can “take a licking and keep on ticking!”  What a crazy day!

Classical Conversations Week 9 Skip Counting 15Math

For this week’s math, I love to do hand motions. The hand motions have helped ME to remember the conversion of teaspoons, tablespoons, and fluid ounces, so hopefully they’re helpful to the kids, as well! I’ve done these same hand motions for a couple of years, so I don’t know if I saw someone else suggest these, or if I stumbled upon doing them myself!


For 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon, we make a teacup with our hands using our thumb and first three fingers. We stick out our pinky to drink our tea “fancy-schmancy-style” and as a result when you tilt up your 3-fingered TEA cup, you end up with 1 pinky sticking up in the air to remind you that 3 teaspoons=1 tablespoon.

Then, we pretend to be holding a glass using our thumb and first two fingers and we set it down on the table to remember that 2 tablespoons=1 fluid (the liquid we pretend is in the cup) ounce.

Classical Conversations Week 10 Skip Counting 15

I got some feedback that the Skip Counting 14’s booklet was helpful for some children to review, and I think some of you who tutor used it in class. I’m OVER THE MOON (seriously, you have no idea!) to hear that something I created was actually HELPFUL! So, I went ahead and made booklets for the 15’s, the Squares and the Cubes. You can click on the images to the right, or you can find them on the printables page.


I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the person that put together these geography review games out at Purpose Driven Games! My children love them, and I plan to use them OFTEN over the break to review! You can click on the image below to go to all three of their Cycle 2 review games, or you can click on the individual links below the image.

Classical Conversations Geography Review Games

Cycle 2, Weeks 2-6 review game.

Cycle 2, Weeks 7-13 review game.


Classical Conversations Waterloo Napoleon Bonaparte

Lion’s Mound Waterloo Memorial
Photo Source: fatboyke


The video at the link below does not specifically talk about the Battle of Waterloo, but it’s well done and a good biography of Napoleon. You’ll need to be around to read the captioning for any non-readers. There are a handful of other videos on this website about Napoleon and the French Revolution, so it’s just an all around handy place to visit to expand on Week 11 and Week 12’s history sentences!

Once you’ve watched the little overview, above, this 5 minute video concentrates on the Battle of Waterloo itself.

I’m not in love with the game at the following link because I think it’s probably not the right combination of education and fun for my two kiddos, but hey, just finding a video game about Waterloo is pretty cool, so I wanted to pass it along!

Again this week, some of the best books are no longer in print. Bummer! So, check your library, or pick them up used from Amazon. For example, we have this great Usborne book on our bookshelf to read this week:

This one is still in print, and the Kindle version is only $0.99:

For the tweens and up (this one is actually still in print!):


One thing that I would LOVE to do with my kids during this break period is put together a paper mache solar system model like this CC mom is working on! I think the kids would love for us to do a project like that and I’ll bet we’d learn a lot!

The Right Stuff is a full-length movie and rated PG, so I wouldn’t normally recommend it here (Common Sense Media recommends is for 10 and up). BUT, I really enjoyed this movie several years ago, and this week’s science just makes me want to watch it again! It’s about the 7 astronauts of the Mercury space program, the early days of NASA and the Space Race and it’s a very well made movie! So, for you parents, or children for whom you think it appropriate, settle back and enjoy a great movie about a really cool period in our country’s history! It reminds you of how incredibly brave and adventurous astronauts really are!

Product DetailsSigh . . . and now that I’ve started recommending regular movies (this makes me feel very guilty for some reason!), I’ll go ahead and throw in a plug for Apollo 13 (recommended for 12 and up by Common Sense Media). Another great movie about the Space program that really makes you think about all that goes into successfully getting into space . . . and getting back home again.

I’m going to try not to feel too guilty about recommending those movies! It’s time to take a break, after all, so so take a break and curl up with something that will make you appreciate that CC Science sentence even more!

Product DetailsThere is also a documentary series by BBC Earth available on Amazon (free streaming for Amazon Prime Members! We love our Amazon Prime, and I think you can try it free for 30 days if you want to stream this video for free.) called “The Planets.” I’ve just discovered it, so I can’t say whether it’s a winner or not, but the fourth episode is about the Moon and the process of getting there.  Some of the other episodes also look like they’d be good fits for the last few weeks of CC Science Grammar.

And here’s another video series, this one is on the history of NASA, that looks great for this week and is also has free streaming for Amazon Prime Members!

One last (REALLY!) video recommendation . . . and it’s one I mentioned in an earlier post, but it fits even better with this week’s Science grammar:  A Tour of the International Space Station on YouTube. If you read the CC Science Snippets (available on CC Connected), this week’s talks about how the Shuttle program was responsible for building the International Space Station, so it’s a good time to take a tour and see what living in space is all about!

There are SO many great books on Space and the Space program available, that I won’t recommend a ton. You can hit your local library and walk out with a stack, I feel sure. Here are just a couple to whet your appetite:

This one is available on Kindle for only $2.99:

We read this one a few years ago, and will read it again in the next week. It’s really neat to read a children’s book written by Buzz Aldrin himself.

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And with that, we head off into the sunset for a break for a few weeks! On one hand, I’m ready for a break and on the other hand I’ve got lots and lots of ideas related to this upcoming 12 weeks that I’m ready to get going on! I’ll be back on the blog during the break with some thoughts and plans that just can’t stay in a holding pattern until January! See you then!

This post is linked to:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood


Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 11

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 11 Math Cubes

We shot off rockets this week in our Classical Conversations group this week.  It was GREAT fun, and the expressions on the kids’ faces were priceless, but I have no pictures. It’s really hard to tutor and take pictures at the same time, I’ve decided. And yesterday, I was too busy getting a second shower of the day from the water bottle rocket that prematurely went off right beside me, anyway. Sure, it was 30 degrees outside, but it was 100 degrees in my classroom, so really the kids did me a favor. And I think they thought that was as fun and funny as actually launching the rocket itself.  Makes for good CC memories.

Review Games

The kiddos in my class love to play Firecracker (see Printables page to print your own cards), and beg for it every week. They don’t seem to think it’s getting old at all (which goes to show you that you don’t have to have a million review games in your arsenal, just a few good ones), but this week I wanted to shake things up a little. So, we did two other simple things to review:

  1. Timeline Freeze Dance: Easy, easy easy! Just play the full version of the Timeline song starting wherever you like and for as long as you like. The kids free-form dance until you hit pause and then have to sing the next item on the Timeline. It’s simple, it’s energetic, and it gives them a chance to break the song up in ways other than weekly. It’s a really fun way to review!
  2. Nerf Gun Target: I’ve used a nerf gun a few different ways in class. If you’ve got rowdy boys who love nerf guns, they’ll love you for bringing one . . . but you’ll want a good gameplan for making it work well for review. Yesterday, we just took turn as teams answering questions, and then one person from each team got to stand up at the front of the classroom (we tweaked our shooting spot as we went) and shoot at a big target I’d drawn on the board to earn the points for their team. We didn’t have a lot of time, so we asked enough review questions to allow everyone a chance to shoot. Again, easy prep, easy set up, and fun for the class. My children at home love this game, too. We draw the target on a storm door, and then have some fun! You can also use this as a way to choose your question topic, by assigning each circle of the target with a different topic. Everything outside of the target can be “Timeline” which means that a missed shot isn’t a wasted shot and things can move along pretty quickly.

Learn Math Cubes Classical Conversations


I am SO excited about sharing with you the the little tool I made for learning the cubes! Don’t tell the kiddos, but I think learning the cubes is BORING!! It might be my least favorite week of math. And, I think they’re hard to remember, since the numbers get big so fast and have no discernable pattern. So . . . I made a little cube of cubes. Smaller kiddos (abecedarians) will need assistance from their parents, but my five year-old has been able to handle it at home beautifully, and he LOVES it! He has been going over and over his cubes while folding and refolding his “Cubes Cube.” I created two files. One is in color (for printing on white card stock or plain paper) and one is black and white (for printing on colored card stock). You can find them both on the “Free Printables” page.

A couple of quick tips:

1) Since it’s a square, it’s easy to cut the outside of the figure out with a paper cutter. If you want to make them for multiple children, that’s the easiest route to go (and you can cut multiple at a time). Cutting out the small center rectangle with scissors doesn’t take very long.

2) Pre-folding is the key to making this easy and do-able for children. Crisp, nice folds make for a better cube.


This is one of my favorite things that I stumbled upon this week. My children are crazy for jokes and will love this! It really is just a joke book that uses indefinite pronouns. It’s a short book (for Kindle, cost is $0.99), and after finding it, I realized that someone has made it into a little video of it on YouTube (no audio, just slides of the pages of the book):

Indefinite Pronouns

And since I thought the indefinite pronoun jokes were such a good idea, I went looking for more and found this great printable. The jokes are perfect for the youngest of kids and the grammar lesson would be good for older kids (of all ages).

Here’s another little video on indefinite pronouns. It’s a little slow, but the information is good.–Lo


I’m giving my husband ALL the credit for finding this FABULOUS website! You will definitely want to check it out!

It’s all about the Palace of Versailles, and has amazing fly through videos, and a really well-done video game about building the palace. Kids can get familiar with the architecture style, statistics about what it took to build the palace, the architects, etc. It is extremely impressive. While Versailles fits most appropriately with our history grammar about Louis XIV (Week 9), it did play a role in the French Revolution  discussed in this week’s history sentence (and you can certainly understand why starving people might get a little upset that the people taxing them were living this opulent lifestyle once you’ve seen Versailles!). There’s good history recap of Versaille at this website.

In other history news, this probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Ummm  . . this week’s history sentence is about the guillotine. The guillotine was invented during the French revolution (ironically, because it was considered a humane form of execution) and became the symbol of the revolution. During this period of history, up to 40,000 people were killed. And 16,594 of those deaths were by guillotine. It’s crazy. It’s fascinating. And, it’s gory. Really, really gory. So, while I’m not into gore and nastiness, and there is no blood in any of the videos I’m about to post, it’s hard to avoid things like cartoon heads rolling with this topic. If you’ve got sensitive children (or are sensitive yourself) you’ll want to preview these.

Lots of cartoon heads rolling in this one, but no blood.  Depends on how sensitive you and your children are. Humor is a little subtle for some younger children, but they’ll probably pick up the gist of the story.

Pretty simple video with a good overview of the French Revolution:

This is an EXCELLENT video, longer than the others, and targeted at middle school or high school students:

There are some good books for Foundations age kiddos for this period. Yay! Unfortunately most of them are out of print. Boo! I’m going to go ahead and show them here, in case you can find them used or at your local library.

  Product DetailsMarie Antoinette

The following books are historical fiction.

The two covers below are for the same book.  Goes to show you what a change in cover art can do for (or to) a book. The first cover is no longer in print. Regardless, the book gets EXCELLENT reviews for giving tween readers (9-12) a sense of Marie Antoinette’s younger years.

Marie Antoinette Royal Diaries

Here’s one more book aimed at tweens that looks great. This is by G.A. Henty, so it’s an older book (100+ years) with an updated cover. It probably contains some older language, but like most Henty books, is very well thought of. It’s also available on Kindle.

French Revolution


They might be GiantsA Shooting Star  video:

Here are some great books on this week’s science grammar:

Meteor Showers Book  


I can’t help it. This is one of the catchiest song by They Might Be Giants and I could NOT get it our of my head during class! So, I leave you with the official Istanbul (not Constantinople) video . . . which I will not claim is overly educational. Just likely to get stuck in your head! (Note: This video channel is on auto play and will play another They Might Be Giants video went this one is over.)

This post linked up at:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

Classical Conversations Week 10

Classical Conversations Week 10

This week our “Science Project” was Facility Clean-up! I loved the opportunity to do a little something for our hosting church. They are wonderful and we SO appreciate their willingness to host our Classical Conversations (CC) group each week. Just to keep it real here, when I asked my son after the day was over what his favorite and least favorite parts of his CC day had been, “cleaning up his classroom” fell into the “least favorite” category. We need to do some work on the idea of serving others joyfully, obviously. All the children in my class were wonderfully helpful, though, and more than willing to pitch in and get some things done. Maybe they still went home and told their mothers it was their least favorite part of the day, too . . . or maybe it was just my ornery rascal. Sometimes he likes to say things just to see what my reaction is going to be. Anyone else got one of those?

Skip Counting SquaresMath

My kiddos enjoyed last week’s Skip Counting Maze, so I went ahead and created one for this week as well. You can download it by clicking on the image to the right.

Math Squares unifix cubesMy favorite way to introduce the squares in class (and I’ll probably go over this again at home, where we have more time) is visually. I realize that the objective of our class time during CC is not to teach (this is SUCH a difficult thing to retrain your brain about), but to introduce the material and drill it. However, when it comes to the squares, I just think it helps children to see it, even if the younger ones don’t really understand exactly what  they’re seeing.  So, I like the worksheets that show the grid and how the square that has 2 sides that are each 1 space is one square in total, the square that has 2 sides that are each 2 spaces each is made up of 4 squares in total, etc. (there’s one example of this out on CC Connected called “wk 10- squares cut-n-paste.pdf“). Or, another thing that I like to do is use unifix cubes to illustrate how they work. In a CC class, you only have time to really illustrate about the the first 5 like this, but I do think that it helps introduce the mathematical concept to the children in a way that also holds their attention while you teach them the skip counting song. You can also take the unifix cubes back in when we’re learning the “Area of a Square” on Week 17 to reinforce the idea and link the two pieces of grammar together.

While doing a little research to see if there were any newer or better ways under the sun to teach this concept (none that I could find), I did find this interesting webpage showing the pattern in the “ones” place of squares, which is something I’d never realized before (but you all probably have known this for years!).  I love it when trying to teach my children teaches me something new, too. One of the great things about homeschooling.


CC3 Image


If you’re looking for a good way to review the History sentences thus far this year, and you have access to CC Connected (C3), I can tell you one thing we’re going to do this week at our house.  Melody Stroud has created cards for each of the history sentences for the first 12 weeks of the year. There are images that accompany them. We’ll be taking all of these cards, cutting them apart and then shuffling them and my children will work on finding the ones that go together and getting the sentences in the right order.  Just in case you are on C3, but have trouble finding things (you’re not alone!), the image to the right shows you how to set your search to pull up just the 12 applicable files.

In my hunt for reading related to this week’s grammar, I just couldn’t find a whole lot.  Here are two that I haven’t read personally, but look potentially good:

This one is a novel, but gets good reviews for historical information, and looks best for a “tween.” You can peruse the reviews yourself by clicking on the image:

These Eyewitness books are usually good for a broad overview.  This particular one is not available at our local library, so I haven’t had a chance to take a look at it to see what kind of information it provides and how well it fits with our history grammar.

Eyewitness Russia

NOW, this book looks GREAT, and I’ve ordered it, because it’s also not available at our library. I’ll come back and give you a review here after we’ve actually received it!

Daily Life in Ancient and Modern Moscow


This is unrelated to this week’s history grammar, but there are two things that we’ve enjoyed very much the week around here that I don’t think I’ve recommended before and thought you might want to check out.

Hooray for Inventors! by Marcia WilliamsThe first is a book called “Hooray for Inventors!” by Marcia Williams.  I like Marcia Williams’ books very much and my daughter ADORES them, since they’re typically written in a comic strip-style, and she is currently obsessed with comic books! I didn’t realize that this particular book would fit well with our CC history grammar, but it has. The book is dedicated to Leonardo Da Vinci (Cycle 2 Week 6), so the first couple of pages show some of his more forward-thinking inventions, the ones that didn’t come to pass until hundreds of years after he drew them – the helicopter, the parachute, the hang glider, etc. In addition to Leonardo Da Vinci, the book also has a section on Gutenberg (Week 13 of Timeline) and Watt’s Steam Engine (Week 13 of History in Cycle 2). And of course, it has information on a lot of other inventors, as well. It’s a great little book!

Poster for Your Friend the RatAnd the second thing is this little short film from Pixar called “Your Friend the Rat.” I pinned this on Pinterest quite some time ago because I saw it elsewhere, but I wasn’t overly confident that it would be worth it. What I’ve since discovered is that it’s about 10 minutes long, terribly entertaining, and really contains a decent amount of information – both historical and scientific. Of course, it’s well done since it’s from Pixar and I was pleasantly surprised by the information. It contained a good (and not overly scary or gory . . . my little boy has a very low tolerance for both, even the animated kind) description of the Plague and the role of rats and fleas. It gives the scientific names (great reinforcement of Cycle 1 Week 1 Science) of the rats it discusses, and even explains that human anatomy and rat anatomy are very similar (hello, Cycle 3 Science). I just wanted to give it a little shout out, since you may have been like me and been skeptical. It’s only $2.99 from Amazon to download, so not a bad deal at all. There’s a description of the overall plot at Wikipedia, if you’d like to read a little more about it.

Science Grammar

Our public library recently started creating Curriculum Kits. They’re designed for teachers in the public school system doing unit studies in their classroom, but anyone can check them out. I just happened to stumble onto a couple while looking for books relating to our CC topics a month or more ago. There aren’t many curriculum kits and there was a waiting list, so I made the request and have been patiently waiting. When I stopped by the library early this week, two of the librarians stopped me to tell me that I had a HUGE box of books and they didn’t know how I was going to get them to my car! It’s such a new thing that the librarians at our branch had never seen one of these kits before either! And they were right – it’s a HUGE box of books and it was HEAVY carrying it to my car. But look at all the great stuff inside of this one:

Science Space Curriculum



Books, books, and more books! All about Space and the Solar System. I’m excited, I’m thrilled, I’m overwhelmed, I’m inundated, and I’m very, very concerned that we’re going to get some of these books mixed up with all the rest of the library books we have around here. The kids have been forbidden to remove a single item without requesting to do so first! Really, though, it has saved me a LOT of time searching for books on topics that tie in with our Science grammar.




Our favorites from this treasure chest so far have been:

Our Sun BookOur Solar System Book

Both books are full of GREAT photos or illustrations and TRUCKLOADS of good information. The “Our Sun” book not only talks about the parts of the sun, but mentions Copernicus (from Cycle 2, Week 6’s history grammar), the tilt of the earth’s axis and how it affects seasons (this was discussed in the Science Experiment in Cycle 1, Week 13) , and the role of the Sun in the Water Cycle (Cycle 2, Week 4). There are no reviews on Amazon (yet! I need to write one!), so I’m not sure I would have gone looking for it if it hadn’t been included in this curriculum kit. It’s a real winner, especially for a CC family, in my opinion. Look for it!

Here are a few more books that look like they’d also dovetail nicely with our CC grammar this week. These weren’t included in our kit, but they’re either by authors or part of a series that I usually think does a great job.

Phases of the Moon The Moon Book  The Moon Seems to ChangeMagic School Bus Takes a Moonwalk

And finally, there were three videos included in our Space Curriculum kit. We haven’t had a chance to watch them, so I can’t say whether or not they’re worth tracking down, but I know it’s nice sometimes to have a different kind of media to use, so I’ll list them here in case you want to check them out for your family:

  • Wonders of the Solar System
  • The Solar System!
  • NASA ISS: A Tour of the International Space Station (I can’t find this DVD anywhere online, but I’m wondering if it’s the same video that’s out on YouTube here. We watched it a year or so ago and it was great! I highly recommend if if you have children interested in space. As an adult, I found it very interesting, as well.)

Sun, Solar System, Space Videos

The NASA website itself has tons of information out there. If you have children for whom space is very interesting, it’s well worth checking out!

See you next week!

This post is linked to:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood


Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 9

CC Week 9

We got to go to our local children’s science center this week. To be honest, I wasn’t actually thinking in advance about how well their “Space” section fit in with what we were covering in CC, but it sure worked out perfectly! It was very cool to see the relative size of the planets on a larger scale and see lots of facts about them, the sun and the stars. It was just an excellent tie-in to the science grammar we’re covering in CC . . . reinforcing and adding to those memory pegs!

Science Grammar

Our cup overrunneth with ways to expand on this week’s Science Grammar! I’ll keep my suggestions to a minimum since there really is SO much stuff out there on the planets.

We were lucky enough a year or so ago to stumble upon a solar system mobile kit at a thrift store for about $3. It’s a lot like the one below (and yet, old enough that it included Pluto as a planet). My husband and son had SO much fun painting it and putting it together. It hung in his room until it got knocked down, but it’s still on display hanging down in the kids’ basement “play area” (or the dungeon, as I sometimes like to refer to it). The glow-in-the-dark paint in our thrift store kit had pretty much dried up. It was the only thing in the kit not in brand new condition. But the “glow” is a MUST with one of these, so whether you buy one, or just create one yourself (I doubt that it would be that hard to do . . . I just am much more likely to put it together from a kit!), be sure and get one with glow-in-the-dark paint, or plan to pick up a bottle separately!

Product Details

About that same time, we checked this book out from the library and my son LOVED it. We renewed it as many times as we were allowed (meaning we had it for over 2 months!) and have checked it out once or twice since then.

This video is a good overview of the Solar System, probably best for younger children (8 and under):

This video is very simple and just shows the rotation of the planets around the Sun, but it’s very interesting to see the different speed at which each moves:

Most of us are probably using a song in our CC communities to help our kids remember the names of the planets, but there are several versions out there on youtube:

And then here is one more book:

A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky   -             By: Michael Driscoll

I realized that there are a lot of Solar System puzzles out there, and I was thinking we would add one to our collection around here. The one below looks like exactly what I’d like – planet names, relative size, and in the proper

order, but I don’t love this price. If you happen to see one that’s a better price, let me know!

Product Details



This week, I created a Skip Counting Maze for the 15s. You can download it by clicking on the image to the right.

Also, posting the skip counting numbers on the stairs was a GREAT success and I’ve been trying to figure out somewhere else that I can post the 15’s this week, just to shake things up a bit. We’ll go back to the stairs for either the Squares or the Cubes in a future week, but for this week I’m actually going to tape down the 15s in my kitchen in a hopscotch pattern. My kids LOVE hopscotch.  I’ve tried using hopscotch in my CC class in the past, but it usually either 1) takes to long to let everyone have a turn or 2) the kids get a little too crazy with it. I think here at home we might be able to control it a little better (and if we don’t, it won’t make our “class” run too long!).


There is a wonderful video that shows Versailles at the following link. There’s also a good biography to read. If you let the video play on through, there are actually 6 videos about Louis XIV (each separated from the next by and ad). Or, you can click the link on the right under the video that says “watch more videos” and pick and choose which of the 6 you’d like to watch.  WARNING: The second video, “Louis XIV-Marriage” contains some discussion that may not be appropriate for children. You’ll definitely want to preview it first.

There are also good videos at that same website about Peter the Great and Henry VIII, but since the Age of Absolute Monarchs is largely known for how the monarchs abused their power, were promiscuous and used violence as a means to an end, you will definitely want to preview these first! If you have young children, they probably work better as a 2 minute history refresher for you as a parent, rather than as something you’ll want to watch with them. Your call. I’m thinking in my house we’ll wait until we get to the Challenge level to get into some of these details.

It’s HARD to find books and videos to expand on this particular history sentence for younger kids! Here are a couple that do actually look good for Elementary age kiddos:

Product Details   

Tin Whistle (Music Theory)

Last week, I gave you a few Apps for reviewing the notes.  This week, I’d like to give you a cute online game for doing that. I think I got better at note recognition by playing this one!


Music Theory GamesAlso, I LOVED the idea of the relay game from this pin on my Tin Whistle Pinterest Board so much, that I made up my own (you can download it by clicking the image on the right).  We haven’t played it in class yet, but hopefully we will sometime this next week, and in the meantime, we’ll be playing it at home. It’s a wonderful reinforcement of both the Tin Whistle section of CC and of what my children have been learning in their piano class, as well.  Actually, that reminds me of a game my children’s piano teacher has been playing with them that dovetails with Tin Whistle beautifully: “Beethoven, May I?”  She has the children line up on one side of the room. Either she plays Beethoven and one of them does. Beethoven stands across the room from the players. Each player mush ask Beethoven if they may move a quarter note (1 step), a half note (2 steps), a whole note (4 steps), an eighth note (1/2 a step), or some combination of those. The goal is to be the first to reach Beethoven. We’ve played this at home in our kitchen where we have square tiles and it works wonderfully! Each square is a quarter note, so we all know exactly how far to step. My children have LOVED it! The especially love when I play as a contestant and one of them gets to be Beethoven and rig the game so that only the kids win. It gives me a chance to try and beat them with more complicated combinations of notes, which just gives them more opportunities to think about the note value (and what an excellent math lesson, too!). Kudos to their piano teacher for a great game. I highly recommend it!

And now, I’ll leave you with one last picture from our trip to the science center. I have absolutely NO idea what these poses have to do with the arch they built, but I am pretty sure it will end up someday in an internet photo collection that causes people to laugh and wonder what kind of family these poor children were from.

Crazy Kids

This post is linked to:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood


Creating Classical Conversations Playlists in iTunes

classical conversations music itunes

As more and more of us switch to some sort of smart phone or tablet, there are more of us who would like to have our CC music on these gadgets.  I’ve talked to several moms this year who would like some guidance on how to organize their CC music on iTunes, or who would like to create weekly playlists of the songs that apply to that week so they can concentrate their review.

The following is how I keep my music organized. There may be better ways to do it, and I am ALWAYS open to suggestions. So, if you’ve got any thoughts or suggestions, please leave them in the comments, because I would value the input!

In creating this tutorial, I’m going to assume that the music that you want to use is already imported into iTunes and just needs to be organized and used! (If you need help with the importing piece, let me know in the comments and I’ll add that info)


Step One:

If you haven’t already, it’s helpful to put all of your CC information into an Album. This isn’t as big of a deal if you are importing the songs from the CC CD, because it automatically groups them into an album. If you’re importing from CC Connected (C3) or elsewhere, you’ll have to create your albums manually. I prefer to have the albums you’re going to see below, but how you organize yours into albums is entirely up to you. It’s not necessary to put the music into albums in order to organize it into playlists, I just think it makes it easier.

To help me organize my songs into playlists, I find it helpful to operate in the “SONGS” view of iTunes and to include the “Date Added” field. You can do that by right-clicking on the bar that contains all of the field names and making sure there is a check box by “Date Added.” That allows me to sort my music by the Date Added, so I can easily find and edit all the songs I import from CC Connected at one time, and any songs I import individually later are also easily located.

iTunes Date Added

Step Two:

Once I’ve sorted my songs so that I can easily see them, to group them into an album, I select the songs I want on the album and then right-click. Select the “Get Info” option on the menu. You’ll probably get a warning about editing multiple items at once. Just click “OK.”

iTunes Get Info

Populate the “Artist,” “Album Artist”  and “Album” field with the information that you like.  My preference is to have 3 albums that I work from during a single cycle. It’s just my preference. You can sort them any way that works for you.  My albums are as follows:

  • CC Cycle 2 Subject CD 2013-2014: Official CC songs for this particular Cycle.  I like to include the year since there will probably be some changes to some of these songs with the next edition of the Foundations Guide. It just helps me keep it all straight and make sure I have the correct songs for us to listen to.
  • CC Timeline: Since these songs should be the same for all 3 Cycles covered under this edition of the Foundations Guide, I group them together. That’s easier for me, since I download my songs from CC3 instead of a CD. It reminds me that I don’t have to download the Timeline song every year.
  • CC Cycle 2 Homemade CD: This should probably have a better name, but basically these are the unofficial songs I use for CC. In our Community, we are blessed to have a very talented artist who uses her gifts to create songs for all of the grammar that CC does not. Our Community creates a single CD of her songs each year and we all get a copy.  However, the concept for organization is the same if you want to download individual music from CC Connected (C3) performed by many of the other talented and creative CC moms out there. Just select them, right click and change the info so that they’re all grouped in iTunes in a single album (you can always call the artist “Various” if you don’t want to individually denote each artist).
Create album iTunesStep 3:

Once all the songs are organized into albums, it’s VERY easy to create a playlist to contain just the songs you want it to for the week. From the menu, select “File”, “New”, and “Playlist.”

New Playlist iTunes

Assuming you’re using an updated version of iTunes, your new playlist will appear on the right-hand side of the screen and you’ll be able to name it as you choose by clicking on “Playlist” at the top. At this point, I prefer to switch over to the “ALBUMS” view of iTunes. Click on the Album of your choice and start dragging and dropping the songs you want to include onto the playlist.

Add to iTunes PlaylistOnce the songs that you want are on the playlist, you can reorder them just by dragging and dropping.

Here are a few Playlist Tips:
  • I think shorter titles seem to work better, because they’re easier to see.
  • If you’re using the iCloud to store and sync your songs (if you aren’t or you don’t know what this is, just ignore this part), iCloud doesn’t seem to like Playlist folders, so avoid them altogether (I haven’t include anything in the steps above about folders for this very reason).
  • If iTunes cannot locate the original file for some reason (you’ve moved it, or you aren’t connected to the drive that it’s on, etc.), it will not let you put it on a Playlist. You’ll need to resolve that issue before you can create/use your playlists.

Organize itunesPART TWO

While we’re talking about iTunes and organizing for CC, I’m going to include two other tips, which may be more relevant for people in my CC Community than for others out there. Our “unofficial” CC CD, which I mentioned above, contains all of the songs for a given week on a single track. This is not a problem, but it can sometimes be helpful to either 1) know where a particular portion of a song starts or 2) know how to shorten a song so that it will play just a portion that you want to hit really hard in your review (this can also be helpful if you want to cut off the narrative piece at the beginning of some of the Official CC Songs, just to make your playlists flow more smoothly from song to song).  So, we’ll call this the “totally optional and possibly useless unless this has been on your mind” portion of the CC iTunes tutorial.

Renaming a Song

Each week when I’m preparing for class, I listen to my “unofficial” CC song. While I’m listening, I click on the song title to edit it and pay attention to where each grammar subject starts. Then, while I’m listening, I change the name of the song to show me the name of the week and where each subject begins (keep it short or it’s hard to see on an iPhone/iPod/etc.). It’s very helpful in class and at home to be able to fast forward or rewind to approximately the right spot. And, this means that it’s 1) possible to teach subjects in a different order than they are presented on the track and 2) repeat the portion of the song that you want more easily when you want to do so.

Edit Song Title iTunes

Changing a song to play only a portion

There are times when it’s handy to be able to play only a portion of a song from the unofficial CC CD. For example in an instance when you want to focus on reviewing a particular subject, like Science or … (argh!!!) … English Pronouns. This is more complicated than the above steps, but absolutely do-able.

First, IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THE ORIGINAL TO PLAY AS IT IS, you need to create a duplicate of the song itself. And that duplicate needs to go somewhere besides it’s original folder. So, you want to select the song in iTunes and right-click it to pull up the menu. Choose “Show in Windows Explorer,” which will then open the file on your computer where the song is stored.

Show in Windows Explorer


Once it opens up in Explorer, you’ll want to copy the file and paste it somewhere else. For example, I created a separate file folder for “English Cy2” just to hold those challenging Pronoun songs (Not that the songs are challenging, but keeping the pronouns straight in my head sure has been!).

After you’ve pasted the song to the new spot, go back into iTunes. Choose “File” and “Add File to Library” and go find the song where you pasted it. Click on the song and then hit “Open.” This will import the song into iTunes again. (If you have any trouble with it not importing at this point, go back to the copied file in Explorer. Right-click and choose “Properties.” Edit the name of the file on the first tab and the name of the album of the second tab. The go back to iTunes and import again.).

This is where it’s handy to 1) Switch back to the “SONGS” view and 2) Use that “Date Added” field to sort by, so you can easily locate this song. Once you’ve found the song, you’ll want to right-click and choose “Info.” From there, I like to change three things:

  1. On the “Info” tab: the name of the song, so that it reflects just the part of the song that will be playing.
  2. On the “Info” tab: the album, if you want to change it. I like to keep these English songs together in a separate album, for example, but that’s up to you.
  3. On the “Options” tab: tell the song where to start and stop so that it will only play the portion of the song you want to hear.

itunes Start/Stop

After that, you can drill and review just those pieces of the songs to your hearts content!

New Album iTunes

Whew! This post is some sort of record for me, both in text and pictures! I do honestly hope you found it to contain at least some tiny portions of useful information! If you did, please share it with other CC folks that might also find it useful. If you didn’t find it useful, and you run into me on the street, I give you permission to lie to me and tell me that it was the best thing you’ve read in recent memory. My ego needs the boost.  Thanks in advance.

This post is linked to:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Week 8

Skip Counting

We’re back from our Fall Break and going strong. Or rather, we’re working our way up to “going strong.” It takes a week or so to get back in the swing of things. But the cycle of CC waits for no man, so we’d better get our act together. The break for the winter holidays will be quickly upon us.


Skip Counting 14'sI created a little skip counting “booklet” that we used in class. You are welcome to download it by clicking on the image to the right. The idea is that the child works their way from the “1” block, which has the most information to the “7” block, which they must complete from memory. After completing 1-4 on the back side of the sheet, fold the sheet to make a booklet.


This also means that the child has been able to see plenty of “hints” as they go, but by the time they flip the booklet over to complete the “7” block, they’re really just going entirely from memory. 7 is also the number of times that CC recommends you repeat information in order to store it in your child’s short-term memory, so this works out well in that regard, too!

We’ve also added the 14s to our stairs. The kids were singing them this morning together (and even trying them backwards) as they went up and down.


Untitled-1Man! Getting all these pronoun lists straight in our heads has been a BEAR! Here’s a reminder that you are welcome to download the Pronoun Platypus file folder game I posted a couple of weeks ago. In addition, we’re going to try something a little bit different and come up with a “trigger” or reminder for each one.  Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • Nominative Pronouns: “I nominate you . . . “
  • Objective Pronouns: “Bring me the object” or “You bring me the object” (if the later doesn’t cause confusion about the pronoun order.)
  • Possessive Pronouns: “Slow down, clown! The S’s on those possessive pronouns are ALL mine!” (note: all the possessive pronouns end with an “s” except for “mine”)
  • Possessive Adjectives: “Do you want my bandage to go on that possessive adjective to cover up where it’s missing its S?” (note: none of the possessive adjectives have an “s” except for “its”)
  • Reflexive Pronouns: “I love to look at this reflection of myself in the mirror!”

I don’t know. Maybe that helps. Maybe it doesn’t. If you’ve got better (or just different) suggestions, PLEASE leave them in the comments. I would love to hear them!!

Science Grammar

There is a printable at this website, which is sponsored in part by NASA, that shows the parts of the sun.


Several of the people in our history sentences are included in the Animated Hero Classics series, some of which can be found on YouTube:


There are a TON of books out there on most of these explorers, but here are a couple of good ones:

We’re adding this one to our book collection. It covers a handful of the explorers discussed in our History sentences and Timeline. It’s target audience is older than my 5 and 7 year-old, but I figure we’ll be pulling it out in years to come, as well.

Explorers who got lost


If you’re looking for something a little lighter, these are not about the explorers in this week’s history sentence, but they are easier (and often amusing) reads:

 You wouldn't want to sail with Christopher Columbus! Marco Polo

And then there’s this one that is actually on topic with this week’s history sentence:



And on YouTube, there are a couple of good videos to supplement our History sentence.

This one does a nice overview of the Age European Exploration and shows the Treaty of Tordesillas (although it doesn’t name it). At the end, it talks about current exploration in Antarctica and Mars (you can stop it when it gets to 3:00 if you don’t want to hear about the possibility of Life on Mars).

This video is about Magellan’s voyage (through the Straight of Magellan) and is a nice overview:


Tin Whistle (Music Theory)

Here is an adorable video that is an ode to the treble clef:

The group that did the video above has put out a whole series of videos that are wonderful tie-ins with our Tin Whistle study.  If you want to see more of them, they’re pinned on my Pinterest Board for Tin Whistle.

There are also a couple of apps that are handy to reinforce the names of the notes:

One is called Note Brainer. It’s free. Free is good.

This is a cute game called “Note Squish.” Think “Whackamole” for music theory.

Another one is called Piano Monkey. We’ve had it for a year or so because our piano teacher recommended it. It’s a pretty basic app, but it is great for teaching note recognition on the staff and on the piano.


A little background: This is our family’s fourth year to participate in a Classical Conversations (CC) community. We participate in the Foundations portion of the program, which is designed for children ages 4 to about 11. The Foundations program lasts for 24 weeks each year. Each week the children cover 7 different grammar subjects (Timeline, History, Math, Science, English, Latin, and Geography), do a short (2-3 minutes) presentation, participate in one or more Science experiments and cover some area of Fine Arts.  It’s a VERY busy morning!

This post is linked to:
Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

Hey, I am actually enjoying this blogging thing, but sometimes it feels like I’m talking to myself. If there’s anybody out there, would you mind hitting one of these buttons so I’ll know? And if you’ve got some ideas of your own you think would be helpful in our CC review, please share them in the comments below!


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