Friday, May 30, 2014


Last month at this time, my husband and I had the privilege of getting to visit one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Hawaii is gorgeous. I wish that each of you reading could spend some time there. I've heard that the most beautiful places on earth are just glimpses of what heaven will be like. If that is accurate, which seems logical, Heaven will be incredible, because Hawaii is amazing. I could take you through what we did each day, but I don't want to bore you. I will just say that even though we stayed at a gorgeous resort for the majority of the trip (it was an incentive trip that my husband qualified for--woo-hoo!) and spent a lot of time wearing these

and seeing many, many of these

and enjoying all the amenities like you can see here

with sunsets like this

and spent hours with my feet in the sand and a book in my hand

my absolute favorite part of our trip was spending time with this guy 

After over 12 years of marriage, I still really, really like this guy. 

And as much as I enjoyed visiting and learning more about Pearl Harbor

and driving around seeing views like the following

My absolute favorite part was just being with this guy

Summer, Summer, Summertime

We finished up our school year last week with shouts of joy! I was just getting over a nasty sinus infection, so I was just as glad as the kids to be done with the normal routines and tasks. Here's a glimpse at what we're planning  to spend our summer days doing:

~Splashing at our neighborhood pool, both for fun and swim lessons for all three boys

~Going on a Faith Expedition with our church's Vacation Bible School

~Enjoying thrills and fun at Kings Island

~Participating in our local library's summer reading program

~Cheering on our favorite swimmer and his team, the Windwood Warriors

~Church Camp will be a first for our oldest, and his dad is going along to be a counselor

~Learning about US History with Veritas Press' self-paced online class (this wasn't my initial plan, but the kids love it and wanted to get started. Now they are eager to do each days lesson right after breakfast. Who am I to argue?)

~Watching Pete's cousin and his beautiful fiance get hitched in Indiana (Sam will be the ring bearer)

~Switching rooms around. Jon switched with Will. The school room is moving from the basement to the formal living room.

~Cheering on two baseball players on a Y league team for June and July

Somewhere in there, we'll be doing read alouds, playing board games, having water balloon fights, some math workbooks, and finish building a tree house, etc. We're going to enjoy all of those things listed above and soak up some less structured time together.

Our Plan for Implementing CC Review at Home

This fall, we will be starting our fifth year of homeschooling. My oldest is going to be starting fourth grade, my second will be in second grade, and my little ones will be turning 4 and 2 in November. We've had some rocky times along the way, but all in all, homeschooling has been such a joyful experience for our family. Last year, my oldest wanted to be a memory master (you can read more about what that is here) which meant being intentional about how we would review our CC information each week. This coming year, I know he wants to achieve that goal again. Here's a bit of how we will be going about doing Classical Conversations review here at home. Please note, this is just our plan...every family has it's own dynamics that come into play and it's own rhythm to take into account.

Our Classical Conversations community meets on Tuesdays, therefore our reviewing starts on Wednesday and goes through Monday.

Wednesday is a day that we do the most "work" in our review. My kids seem to retain information better if they have had to write it out, so I LOVE the Classical Conversations Connected (C3) at home sharing center. I print off copywork in History, Science, English Grammar, and sometimes Latin, and put the copy work in a notebook for each child. (I will share the names of what I have chosen to print below, should you want to look them up on C3) On Wednesdays, the kids do this copywork in the place of their handwriting, and to make it more fun, I let them use colored pencils or pens just on this day. After they complete their copywork, we go through the memory work together orally at least 3 times, usually 7. We usually spend at least 45 minutes reviewing on the first day.
Thursdays are a busy day for us, so we typically make Thursday a lighter review day. Sometimes I pick one of the boys and he gets to "teach" the information to his brother. Other times, I have the information on our dry erase board and I erase words and see if they can say it to me without words, erasing each word until they're all gone. We usually spend about 20 minutes reviewing on Thursdays.
Fridays we usually play a review game-one that they've done in their class at CC. But I often have them tell me each of the facts before I will let them play, just to see how they are retaining, or finish up any of the notebook pages they didn't complete on Wednesday. If they are weak in a subject, we might all write it out together or sing it together before we play the review game. We usually spend about 30 minutes reviewing on Friday.
Mondays I often give them a blank sheet of paper and have them fold it in half and then in half again. They I ask them to write the key words for each subject. If they are struggling at all with figuring that out, I write them on the board while discussing what makes them key words. After that, we quickly review orally each subject and see if there are any areas of weakness. And depending on the day, we might play another review game. Mondays, we typically spend about 15-25 minutes reviewing.

Mixed into our week, we listen to the CD in the car often and listen to the timeline song every night while they load the dishwasher. Often the kids will tell their dad each of the new facts during dinner. We read lots of books from the library that go a long with what we are learning through CC, and we do fun games, puzzles, and DVDs that help reinforce things as well.

Listed below are the resources that I have printed that I downloaded from C3. You have to have a subscription to download them, but this should help anyone searching for copywork.
Subject/person who submitted the file/title of the file
Geography/Wenderbell/Geography Copywork with Maps all weeks pdf
English Grammar/Wenderbell/English Grammar Copywork all weeks pdf
Science/Wenderbell/Science Copywork All weeks pdf
             Tara504/Cut, Paste and Label all weeks
Latin/suzannemosley/Shares Latin.cycle.3 copywork pdf
          Knox Family/C3 wk01-24 bookmarks
          brandyfarrell/John 1 copywork print Latin pdf
History/kamoore1/C3Week1History.pdf, etc
Bible/brandyfarrell/John 1 copywork print pdf
Math: I couldn't find the sheets that we really like using, but I had saved them to my computer, so I uploaded them and you can find them under Math/heatherg/skip counting daily practice
 Another helpful C3 resource that won't be for copywork, but for reviewing possibly: knox family/Math mini office pdf
If you found this helpful, you might enjoy reading Getting Started with Classical ConversationsWhy We Choose to Homeschool or a post about our schedule, What This Homeschooling Thing Looks Like for our Family. Also, I created match-ups for Apologia Anatomy and CC Cycle 3 Science weeks 1-12 and posted them here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Getting Started with Classical Conversations

Currently, I know at least five families who are starting with Classical Conversations in the fall. I am so excited for them since, as I have mentioned before, our family has been so blessed by our involvement with CC. Each of those moms I mentioned before have asked me for advice about starting out with CC. I definitely don't have all the answers, but we have been in CC for four years, so I can give my opinions on what has been helpful for our family, and what I would recommend for a first year CC family.

What do you need to buy:

1. The Foundations Guide: We use this weekly, and sometimes daily. You will use it each week when your community meets. I bring a pencil along and jot down notes next to each subject. For example, if the tutor shares a clever tip, trick, or song to help my kids remember a certain subject, I scribble a little something to help remind me when I'm home and reviewing with them later. Besides the weekly facts that (you and) your kids will be learning, there is also fabulous information from Leah Bortins, the founder of CC throughout the book. This is a must for every CC family.
Sam and his buddy, Luke, playing the tin whistle in their class

2. A tin whistle: Each child will use one for six weeks each year, so this is another must. I am tutoring this coming year, so we now have three tin whistles in our home. Since we've been at this for a few years now, the practicing isn't so painful anymore...except when the little ones get their teeny hands and mouths on the whistles! 

If you are working with a tight budget, this is absolutely all that you will NEED to do Classical Conversations as a part of your homeschool journey. If you intend to follow the model set forth by CC, they recommend you supplement what you are learning each week with your community with a math curriculum, a language arts program (this usually includes: spelling, phonics, grammar, and handwriting), and lots of reading. The first year it is vitally important that you take a deep breath and try to just soak up the information with your kiddo(s). Don't give in to the pressure to do everything out there. Start simply and if you feel led to add in some way, maybe dive deeper into some of the memory work. I have found going deeper to be more rewarding than trying to go "wider" and cover more things in a more shallow way. 
Reading the best book, his Bible
That said, our family has used the following curriculum at one point or another:
Math: Saxon Math
Phonics: Explode the Code, Phonics Museum (Veritas Press)
English Grammar: Shurley English
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears, and more recently CC's Prescripts

We've supplemented with many books from the library that correlate with our science and history and the time period that we're studying. 

If you can invest a little more, and it is important to realize that it is an investment, here are a few more of my favorites for doing CC at home. Each year that we have been involved, I have taken the plunge a little more and bought a few more CC products to help us here at home. I have listed them below in the order of their value to me. In my opinion, if you start at the top of this list and add on towards the bottom, as your budget allows, you will be better off for it.

~The Audio CD's: these are SO helpful. We listen in the van all the time. Also, the timeline song is played each night while the kids load the dishwasher. :) They are worth every penny in my opinion!

~CC Connected (or C3): this is a subscription to the online file sharing part of the CC website. So many talented and creative CC parents have shared worksheets, songs, lapbooks, review games and more. For $6 a month, you have access to all of it. We use the worksheets and songs weekly! A word of warning, it can be overwhelming...somewhat like pinterest, more ideas than you could possibly use in one household. However, it is very helpful if you take the time to sort through and find what will work for you. I am considering posting what I am planning on having my kiddos do this coming year in another blog post, and I will list the specific files that we hope to use there. (so subscribe or come back later for that!)
Reviewing CC by playing Trivial Pursuit Family Edition and substituting CC facts for the questions
~Geography Trivium Tables: These were invaluable for us last year in reviewing the geography facts. I bought one for each of my boys that were doing CC. (If you're joining me here and don't actually know me, welcome! I have four kiddos: three boys ages 8, 6, and 3, and one little girl who is 18 months old.) These maps are laminated and very durable. We use these several times a week in various ways-label things with dry erase markers, tape a piece of tracing paper on top and trace things, ask a child to point to a place, etc. I have bought other maps, but these are made specifically to coincide with the geography for Classical Conversations and are such a great addition to our review time. 

~Memory Flashcards: When we first started with CC, I thought to myself, "Why would I pay $30 for those when I could make them myself?" Then I started writing the information on index cards and laminating them...I didn't get very far before I decided to buy the CC cards. They are smaller, neater and to me, worth the money if you can spare it. I stick them in my purse or bag and we can review on the go. Now that both of my older boys can read, they can quiz each other, too. We love these, and use them several times a week.
Jon and Sam organizing the History Cards (aka Timeline cards)
~Classical Acts and Facts History Cards: These cards will be used every year. We use them to review the timeline information at home and to go a step further with learning the information. If you are starting with CC and have only younger students, you might wait on these if money is tight. I highly recommend them, but my younger ones have little interest in them. As my boys have repeated the timeline, different facts have caught their attention and peaked their interest, and by just flipping the card, we can dig a little deeper and extend our learning. We've used these cards in many different ways in the past: hung them in the school room; sorted them and put them in order; kept them in a binder to flip through; and kept them in a basket for easy use.  We use these almost daily.

~Prescripts: Copy work is encouraged in the classical model for many reasons. I love that CC has come out with their Prescripts series that combines handwriting practice, copy work and CC memory work review all in one! Both of my boys have used Prescripts and enjoy it more than I expected--they are boys and it is writing! ;)

Additionally, I do own and use the Classical Acts and Facts Science Cards, and they are used weekly for review. And I will probably purchase the new Classical Acts and Facts Artists and Composers Cards to help me with tutoring and reviewing at home. While not necessary, these can be great to assist you in reviewing at home if you want something that your kids can actually hold onto and use on their own or with your assistance. 

Honestly, I have yet to buy a product from CC that has not helped me here at home. Any product that you can find in their store will be worthwhile, in my opinion. I hope that my compilation here will help someone out there to understand better what might be helpful when you are just starting out. I'd love to hear feedback from you and welcome any questions either in the comments section or on Facebook. 

If you found this helpful, you might enjoy reading Why We Choose to Homeschool or a post about our schedule, What This Homeschooling Thing Looks Like for our Family. Also, I have a post about copywork and how we review for CC here.
There are some great CC blogs: A Stick and Sand, And Here We Go, Classical Conversations at Home, Half-a-hundred Acre Wood, Homegrown LearnersMt. Hope Chronicles, and Running with Team Hogan are the ones that I have bookmarked at home, but there are many more. In fact, if you blog about CC, please let me know! I'd love to glean wisdom from others on this journey!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Margaret Anne is One and a Half!

"The days go slow, but the years go fast" is one of the most true things anyone told me that stuck with me since those days of baby showers before having my first little one. It seems like the days can be stuck on slow-mo, but then I blink and another month has passed by me! I was laughing with a neighbor the other day about almost forgetting to schedule Maggie's 18 month check up, and then upon my arrival at the pediatrician's office I was informed that we hadn't ever had a 15 month appointment! Oops! Thankfully, my silly girl is healthy and growing well. Here's a couple pics from today's check up:
 giving me a cheesy smile 
She was ready to go see Grammy (who was graciously watching the boys)
Maggie weighed in today at 25 pounds, 12 ounces, putting her in the 90th percentile and is 33 1/2 inches tall, which put her in the 95th percentile. No signs of that preemie from 18 months ago, that's for sure! She is right on track with all the milestones for an 18 month old, jabbering and actually saying about 20 words, walking, running, climbing, squatting, and just generally getting into everything. A few of the words that I think are pretty distinct currently are: Dada, Mama, doggy (well, it sounds a lot like dada, but she always says it when there are dogs around), shoes, cookie, peees (please), ok, no, bye, hi...I'm sure there are more that I am forgetting, but those are some of the usual suspects. :)

doing a little biking together
 getting a little love from her brother, Will
She loves sliding
Although she wouldn't smile for any pictures, Maggie really did enjoy her ice cream cone
playing in the water with Will on a hot day
Currently, this chica enjoys puzzles, being read to, getting tickled by her brothers, playing with chalk, decorating the carpet and walls with marker and crayon (she's an artist already), music, playing the piano with her brothers, being outside. While outside, she loves to swing, ride bikes, blow bubbles/pop bubbles, chase after her big brothers and the kids in the neighborhood. She is silly and fun, and even though she's not a great napper, she adds so much joy to our days and we're so thankful to have her!