Favorites {Classical Conversation Materials/Organization}

The final post in my Favorites series is all about our favorite Classical Conversations Materials and how I organize it all.

Let’s start with materials.
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The Foundation Guide is the only thing that is required for Classical Conversations. It includes all the Memory Work. We also have the Cycle CDs which are very nice to have for Memory Work review, especially in the car! Each student also needs a tin whistle.

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Trivium at the Table Placemats are perfect for Geography Memory Work review. The maps are big and in color which make it easier for my little ones to find locations on the map. We are also big fans of reading Usborne books that correspond with our Memory Work.

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The Timeline Cards are an excellent resource to have on hand for learning the Timeline and History. We also love reading the If You Were… series.

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The Magic School Bus series and Let’s Read and Find Out science books are fun ways to read more about our Science Memory Work.

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Here is how I have organized our CC materials!

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This is what you could call the “CC corner” of our dining/homeschool room! Most of the resources we have for CC are stored here on this 8-cube bookshelf. Our Usborne books are organized by subject.

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There are 3 baskets along the top of the bookcase and each serves a purpose!

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The biggest basket is where I gather all of the books and activities we will be using over the next six weeks of CC. Since I plan for CC every 6 weeks, this keeps everything in one place and I can easily find books and activities when it is time for learning!

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The two smaller baskets hold our Timeline Cards and the Memory Flashcards. I find the Memory Flashcards very useful when we are reviewing more than one week’s worth of Memory Work (like now during Christmas break).

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This is our Morning Basket and I put materials for daily Memory Work review in this basket. You can see our Geography placemats, games for review and supplies for Blob Mapping.

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I like to display the Memory Work each week. I have the Memory Work typed up and stored in this folder so I can pull out the week’s Memory Work to put on display. In our old homeschool room, I had it displayed on the wall. I am not sure I am going to do that in our new dining/homeschool room. I will probably have a 3-ring binder that I will use as a flip chart as we review the Memory Work daily. That way the girls can still see the Memory Work as we review. It just won’t be on display all the time. We will see if this works for us.

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I have a file folder for each week. In the file folders I keep activities and printables that we will do that week.
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This is the bookshelf (that my dad made!) which is in our living room. I keep books that correspond to our current Memory Work on the shelves for the children to read at any time! The lowest shelf has books specifically for Sarge and the top shelf is for Read Alouds.

Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources, Homeschooling

Homeschool Highlights {November}

Bible

Through the end of November, we continued to read God’s Names and recite our Monthly Memory Verses.

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Copywork

Every morning while I am reading to Sarge before he has his Independent Playtime in his bedroom, the girls do their Copywork. Right now, this basically looks like handwriting. They work on one letter per week from A Reason for Handwriting K. I put the page in a reusable dry erase pocket so they can practice writing the letter every morning. Then on Friday they take the lesson out of the dry erase pocket and write their very best on the paper. Little Bug also writes 1 Bible verse per day. She is tracing over my writing by writing on a dry erase pocket. If they are finished with their Copywork before I am finished reading with Sarge, they are to get a book and read while they wait for me. (No pictures but I will try and write a post about this including pictures because it is working very well for us!)

Language Arts

We are enjoying All About Spelling Level 1! Sweet Pea likes to join in on the lessons and since the words are basically CVC words, it is perfect for where she is right now in learning to read. Little Bug is also continuing to work through AAR. We do 2 days of AAR and 2 days of AAS weekly. It won’t be long before Little Bug completes AAR Level 2. Sweet Pea continues to work through Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Kinder curriculum and Little Bug continues to have her nose in a book very often most days!

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Math

Little Bug is already over halfway finished with the first book of Horizons 1. We just continue to plug along with lots of review and practice of the basic math facts so she has a solid foundation of basic math concepts. We do the Saxon 1 Timed Tests over and over again. Sweet Pea finished BJU K5 and we are now working in Hands On Thinking Skills! Confessions of a Homeschooler curriculum includes fun math games and activities too. We’ve been working on counting to 100 and skip counting.

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Classical Conversations

Mid-November we completed Week 12 of Cycle 2! We are now on Christmas break and will go back to CC in January. I love this break. It is nice to have time to review the first 12 weeks before moving on to the next 12 weeks. The last 6 weeks of science we learned about the Solar System! I couldn’t wait to teach the phases of the moon with Oreos! That was lots of fun! The girls also kept a “Moon Journal” where they recorded what phase the moon was in each night. Sarge still asks to go outside and see the moon nearly every night!

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Thanksgiving

I have mentioned before that I love the flexibility year round schooling affords us. We hit a lull right before Thanksgiving and I knew we all needed a break so…we took a week long break at Thanksgiving! It was so refreshing and just what we all needed. That week we did fun, effortless-on-my-part Thanksgiving activities and read lots of our favorite Thanksgiving books while talking about the first Thanksgiving long ago.

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Another reason I decided to take a week off at Thanksgiving was because I needed time to organize the dining/homeschool room! The last week of November we put this new set up to the test and it was absolutely marvelous!

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Field Trips and Special Outings

We enjoyed a couple field trips during the month of November: the zoo with our CC community and a family bowling night!

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We also went to a Gingerbread House Workshop with our CC community!

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The Saturday after Thanksgiving we went to pick out our Christmas Tree!

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Now it is December and Christmas is fast approaching! We will continue on with school and I will evaluate closer to Christmas whether we will need some more time off or if we can keep going through December!

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This was a VERY fast 1st semester to the 2016-2017 school year!

Posted in Homeschool Highlights, Homeschooling

Homeschool Room {2016-2017 Update}

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Our Homeschool Room has moved yet again!

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This room is suppose to be the formal dining room of our home and it now functions as a dining/homeschool room!

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My goal was to move away from the “school room” look and make a space that is both functional for eating and schooling. Bright colors and school posters were removed and two new pieces of furniture were purchased to give this room more of a dining room feel but yet still be able to function as a place where I can organize and store curriculum and schooling materials.

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I love the way this all came together!!

Our school materials are organized in baskets by the time of day that they are used.

The bottom shelf has our Morning Basket which includes everything we need for Bible and CC Review. (Beside the Morning Basket are the trays for turning in completed work. This makes keeping up with yearly portfolios a breeze.) Moving on up to the middle shelf, you will see two more baskets. The basket on the left has our Morning Work (Language Arts) and the basket on the right has our Afternoon Work (Math). The top shelf has Bibles and small manipulatives used frequently.

It is so simple and so organized!

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The cabinets store all of our Language Arts and handwriting materials! Language Arts materials are on the top shelf and handwriting materials are on the bottom shelf. I was even able to keep the alphabet poster without hanging it on the wall in the dining room by putting it on the inside of the cabinet door.

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I did keep our workbox system because I find that the workbox system is extremely useful for the preschool and kindergarten years. Most of Sweet Pea’s work is put into these boxes weekly. Each color box represents one day of the week. The work she does with me goes in the top box and the work she does independently – while I am teaching Little Bug – goes in the bottom box. The small white board for All About Reading and All About Spelling is beside the workboxes.

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This is the second piece of furniture we purchased. I had the chalkboard hanging and had not put it up anywhere in the house yet. It is the perfect place for me to write our Monthly Memory Verse. The basket on the top of this cabinet is for educational activities for Sarge.

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Inside the cabinet is all of our math materials and the numbers chart that I really didn’t want to hang on the dining room wall either.

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I finally found an accurate world globe that didn’t cost a fortune at Target.

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This is a silverware organizer for entertaining, but it works great to house all of our school supplies and it blends in well with the dining room decor.

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This corner has the 8-cube shelf with all of our Usborne books organized by subject.

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The baskets on top have the Timeline Cards, Memory Flashcards and Usborne books that we will be using over the next six weeks as well as the file folders with any activities we will be doing with CC Memory Work.

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I guess this corner looks a little school room-ish with the white board, but it passes in my book because it is functional and it serves a purpose. The three baskets of books are our Magic School Bus books, If You Lived books and Let’s Read and Find Out science books, which we read all the time in our history and science studies.

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 I did have to move some of our homeschool materials to other places in the house. Curriculum not in use went to a bookshelf in the master closet. Preschool materials went to a closet in the hallway and all games went to the kitchen island cabinets. 

I love the serene, clean, organized feel this room now has!

Posted in Homeschool Organization, Homeschool Room, Homeschooling

Favorite {Geography}

One of my favorite things about Classical Conversations is the Geography! Between the 3 cycles we will cover the whole world!

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Rand McNally Signature Map of the World is a self adhesive map that you can stick on your wall and it will not harm the paint! You can peel it off and relocate it.

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Trivium at the Table Placemats are extremely helpful in reviewing our Geography Memory Work. There are several great Usborne books for Geography too!

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Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorite {Science}

We approach Science in the same way that we approach History so the backbone of our science is Classical Conversations Memory Work!

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My girls enjoy science as it is natural for little ones to be curious about their world! We read Let’s Read and Find Out science books, Magic School Bus books and, of course, Usborne books to dig deeper each week about our science topic. We also have the complete series of Magic School Bus DVDs which has been an excellent resource as just about every CC science topic is covered in the Magic School Bus series! We also enjoy reading The Berenstain Bear’s Big Book of Science and Nature.

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This was also a first year Homeschool Convention purchase that became one of our favorite resources! The World God Made and Our Father’s World are fun to read with the preschooler-1st grader as an introduction to fun science topics.

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Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorites {History}

The core of our History studies are the Classical Conversations History Memory Work sentences! The CDs for each cycle have a catchy song for each sentence and we enjoy listening to the songs in the car.

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If we want to learn more about the people, places and events in our Memory Work, we read books about the topics! Usborne books are our favorites but we also enjoy the If You Were history series. CC’s Timeline cards are fun too and provide more information to read.

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I bought History for Little Pilgrims at my first ever Homeschool Convention. It is for Preschool to K-1st grade and is a excellent overview of the main history events from a Biblical perspective. We read through this last summer and both girls really enjoyed it. There is a coloring book as well.
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This is something I added in for our history studies just this year. Little Bug LOVES history. She loves stories so she naturally loves history. While Story of the World is not biblically based, the storyteller is Jim Weiss who we absolutely adore. We have many of his story CDs and he is an incredible story teller. When I saw that he narrates Story of the World I had to buy Volume 2 of SOTW to see if Little Bug would enjoy listening to the stories.

Just about every day at lunch, I turn on SOTW and the girls listen to 1-2 stories while they each their lunch. I love that the stories are just about 5-7ish minutes long, which is perfect for the ages of my children.

I LOVE watching them eat their lunch and enjoying their story and lighting up when they hear familiar words from their History Memory Work! Almost every single day they will say, “Mommy! That was in our history sentence!” and then they will sing the sentence!

At the ages of my girls’ now (7 & 5) I am doing nothing more than History Sentences and SOTW, but when they get a little older and we really start to study and learn history, I feel like it will be easier for them because they will have already heard these stories through their Memory Work and these CDs…and then hopefully the history timeline and how all the events relate to each other will just come together for them.

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Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorites {Math}

These are our favorite math games and we play them beginning in the preschool years:

Sum Swamp – What a fun way to learn addition and subtraction and even and odd numbers.

Hi, Ho, Cherry-O – This is a game that is fun for learning to count, add and subtract.

Zingo 1-2-3 – This game helps with number recognition and also basic addition.

POP for Addition & Subtraction – We played this game a lot when Little Bug was learning her basic math facts.

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Learning Resources Calendar and Weather Pocket Chart – We use this for so much learning! Calendar, number recognition, counting, skip counting, weather, seasons, days of the week & months of the year.

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When my children are ready for a formal math curriculum (closer to age 6 than age 5), we begin with Horizons Math K. It’s a spiral approach (lots of repetition and reviewing) and very thorough on teaching basic math concepts.

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We move right in to Horizons 1 after Horizons K.

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These are the math manipulatives that we used most in the early years: linking cubes, base 10 blocks, teddy bear counters, 2 huge dice, dominoes, 100 chart.

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Time is a hard concept for this age but this clock is a great help in teaching time. We also love Usborne’s Wipe Clean Telling the Time book.

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Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorites {Handwriting}

These are my favorite resources to use when my children are ready to learn how to write their letters:

A Reason for Handwriting – This book is an excellent resource to teach children how to write lowercase and uppercase letters.

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Each lesson focuses on 1 letter and it first moves through the lowercase letters and then the uppercase letters (not in order). There are review lessons throughout as well. It is just enough practice to have my children writing 5-10 minutes each day.

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Dry Erase Alphabet writing books are perfect for repeated practice in forming letters. We recently got Usborne’s Wipe Clean Alphabet book.

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Drawing helps form the fine motor skills needed for letter formation and Draw Write Now books provide both drawing and handwriting practice.

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As early letter writing practice we love The Measured Mom’s handwriting pages for preschoolers.

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Another favorite way for my preschoolers to practice letter formation is by “writing” their letters in salt and shaving cream,

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with magnetic pieces,

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and with Play-doh mats!

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Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorites {Learning to Read}

These are my favorite resources to use to prepare my children to learn to read and to teach them to learn to read:

My First Steps to Reading books – There is a book for each letter of the alphabet and most of the words in the book start with that letter. They are adorable books that both of my girls have loved.

Leap Frog Letter Factory Phonics – The link is for the fridge magnetic letters because this price for the toy we have is $90+! We used this toy extensively when learning letter names and letter sounds.

BOB Books – When my children are ready to start reading some 3-4 letter words, we first read BOB Books!

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At age 2, I start letting my children watch about 20-30 minutes of TV and Leap Frog shows are a favorite! Every household should own Letter Factory! At $8 this DVD was worth every penny as it significantly helped both of my girls learn their letter sounds.

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These are favorite games to help with learning the alphabet and letter sounds:

SuperWhy ABC Letter Game

Sequence Letters

POP for Letters

ABC Go Fish

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Ready-Made Preschool Level 2 is what I used with Little Bug for her pre-Kindergarten year. This was a fabulous fit for Little Bug as we read a book and did crafts and activities! A bonus was that all of the materials and activities arrived on my doorstep, ready to go! I used Ready-Made Preschool Level 1 with Sweet Pea during her PK3 year.

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Confession: I have a degree in elementary education but I was scared of the task set before me to teach my own child to read! I taught 4th grade in public school and phonics was not part of the curriculum!

All About Reading took my fears completely away!!! I absolutely love this company and curriculum. I very successfully taught my daughter to read using All About Reading Level 1! AAR provides step-by-step instructions on what to say and do, which I really appreciated. The activities are multisensory, which kept Little Bug engaged in the lessons. Excellent program.

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For Sweet Pea’s pre-Kindergarten year, I decided to use All About Reading’s Pre-Reading program and it did not disappoint! This gave Sweet Pea a solid foundation of the alphabet and letter sounds and Ziggy (the puppet) was a huge hit!

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 Once my children can write decently, I start them in the Explode the Code primer books. This is an excellent reinforcement of the alphabet and letter sounds as they are getting ready to learn to read. (There is also some good handwriting practice found within these pages.) Once my children complete the Primer books, they move right in to Books 1-8, working through them all for extra phonics practice, even when they are fluent readers.

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Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources

Favorites {Bible}

From our earliest days of homeschooling to present day, we have always started our day with a Bible story. These are our favorite Bibles and Bible resources.

The Beginner’s Bible – I love the way this Bible introduces the stories to little children. We have read through this Bible numerous times.

The Jesus Storybook Bible – I love the perspective of this Bible and how every story ties back to God’s love for His people.

God’s Names – I received this as a gift and it has quickly become a favorite on my list. It isn’t a Bible, but it teaches the meaning of God’s names. 
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100 Bible Heroes 100 Bible Songs and 100 Ways to Know God Loves Me! were used for preschool Bible time. We would read the story and then listen to the song!

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Arch books tell the Bible stories through rhyming, which is a foundational skill of learning to read!

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Posted in Favorite Homeschool Resources, Uncategorized