Saturday, August 16, 2014

Cycle 3 Week 3 Weekly Link-Up

The Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Weekly Link-up is a place for bloggers to share their ideas and activities with other CC parents and tutors for each week during Cycle 3 (2014-2015 school year). Unlike most weekly link-ups, this link-up will not be organized according to date but will be organized according to the week of CC. As such, these weekly link-ups will remain open for several months to accommodate for all the different schedules implemented by various CC Communities.  

This Link-Up is for Cycle 3:  Week 3

If you are looking for a different week, click here.

If you are looking for the Cycle 2 Weekly Link-Up, click here.
If you are looking for the Cycle 1 Weekly Link-Up, click here.

For bloggers who'd like a button, just copy and
paste the following html code into your webpage.

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

<a href="" target="_self"><img src="" alt="Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood" width="225" height="225" /></a>

Would you like to participate? 
For bloggers:  Feel free to share either 1) your plans for the week listed above or 2) what you did for this particular week of CC. When submitting your entry, please include the name of your blog or blog post and link directly to your post for the week noted in the post heading (so we can find it!) rather than to your entire blog. Also please link back to this page in your blog post so that your readers can check others' websites who are participating as well.  My hope is that this link-up encourages a feeling of community and friendship in the CC blogging world.

For non-bloggers:  Bookmark or pin this page and remember to visit the fabulous Cycle 3 blog entries that will be posted in the near future - all kinds of ideas for supplementing Classical Conversations. Check back often to see if others have submitted their ideas!

Bloggers:  By participating in this link-up, you agree that you will not post the words (in text, audio, or video format) of the history, science, timeline, or other specific wording found within the Foundations Guide in your blog post. You also agree to not post links to youtube videos, on-line Quizlet flashcards, or other material containing memory work sentences from the Foundations Guide.  Please do not post any material you have downloaded from CC Connected if it is not your own creation. You may include a reference to a specific file you have found useful by stating the name of the file so that it may be searched on CC Connected. This website strives to maintain the highest degree of integrity in honoring copyrights owned by Classical Conversations (or any other person or company, for that matter). Thank you for being honorable and trustworthy in your participation in this link-up!

This link-up is intended to be used with the Foundations Guide 4th Edition.  

For those receiving this in your email inbox, just click on the heading of this post to access the "Add Your Link" button or to access links that have been submitted. (But be patient, as it will take some time for bloggers to get their posts written and their links up!)

This will help all of us to easily find the ideas others have shared for each week of Classical Conversations! Thank you for participating!

Friday, August 15, 2014

God's Design for Life: The Human Body {Correlated Activities}

Earlier this month, I virtually met another CC Mama, Laurie Fry, who simply wanted to share a resource she had created with others:  A reading correlation and activity list that matches up the Classical Conversations Cycle 3 science memory work with the book The Human Body (God's Design for Life).

>>>Click here to download this resource.<<<

Laurie has been a part of a science club that has successfully used the God's Design for Life books over the past few years. This series of books is designed to be used with students ranging from first through eighth grades - all at the same time! The activities referenced in the above document can be found on her science club Pinterest board at  If you have any questions, you can contact her via email at

Thank you for sharing your work with us, Laurie!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Human Anatomy + Biblical Connections {Free ebook}

As we prepare for our studies of human anatomy this fall, I am excited to announce the release of the Human Anatomy unit by the Homeschool Curriculum Company. Here I just want to quote from a post from last year:
After searching through many books earlier this summer, I realized that it's not always easy to find textbooks and resources that align fact with faith. For those of us who are currently restoring two generations of education, it can take a good deal of forethought and prayer to recognize and point out how God is revealed through all subjects. So.. how do we piece together all the diversity into a unified message about our Creator?
Of all the things we do in our home, I most often wish I had done a better job of showing my children how God is revealed through every subject we've studied. When I come across something that helps us make sense of these topics (much like the Apologia Science series), I consider it a blessing! 
We have used The Homeschool Curriculum Company's resources for four semesters now and enjoy the simplicity of implementation and the beauty of the connections made between science and scripture. When we don't get around to anything else, we still have completed our science-scripture study each week because it is just so simple to work into our school days. Although we will have another resource we use for science extension activities, this Human Anatomy study will be our consistent weekly resource for science.  (At the time of my reading plan selections, this book was not yet available, but I was hoping that it would eventually be released!)

Human Anatomy is a simple science ebook containing a Biblical approach to studying science.  It beautifully connects the human body to the scriptures and provides Bible study questions and activities that correlate with each topic.  

[Also available are a few other free downloads on the Free Resources page, as well as a collection of videos for studying composers.]

But here's the best news!  Mia of The Homeschool Curriculum Company is giving this ebook away to everyone who signs up on her email list!! 
Mia has always had such a generous heart, and I am thrilled to announce this, her gift to you!

To download your free copy, visit and sign up for the Homeschool Collection mailing list!

Many, many thanks to Mia for offering your hard work to benefit other families! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

John 1 Latin & English Songs

If you're looking to memorize a passage of scripture from the Latin Vulgate this year, and you'd like to also know what the English translation for that passage of scripture is, and that passage of scripture happens to be John 1:1-7, there's a fabulous resource for you!

One of my absolute favorite memory-work songwriters, Mary Bryant, has written songs to help classical educators with the challenging task of memorizing John 1:1-7 in Latin and in English!

Preview the song here:

Who is Mary Bryant?
Mary Bryant is a classically trained and professional clarinetist who has also served as a church worship leader, music director and songwriter for many years. Motherhood has also inspired songs for her children - songs to help them make the learning process enjoyable - be it for character growth, scripture memory or general learning. Over the last few years, she has found her niche in writing and recording memory work songs to cover the Classical Conversations Foundation material that CC does not already have a song for. For the challenging task of memorizing John 1:1-7 in Latin for Cycle 3, she has a very catchy song that enabled her CC community in St. Louis and beyond to learn the passage in a very short period of time when they did Cycle 3 in 2011. For a copy of these songs, contact Mary at or click on the following links to purchase and download a copy of each:
Click here for English song
Click here for Latin song

Mary, can you tell us a bit about the songs you've written for John 1:1-7?

The English and Latin versions of John 1:1-7 are completely different tunes because, especially where memorization is involved, I try to write for the specific rhythm of the words.  Because the passages are in two different languages, the rhythm of the words is different. Plus I wanted two different characters for the songs:

For Latin, I wanted it to be especially peppy and fun to take out the intimidation factor and stuffiness of memorizing and reciting the passage in Latin (with all respect to God's Word).  Without focusing too much on the "edutainment" factor, I think learning classically does not need to be dry, dull and boring, but it can and should be enjoyable and full of life! I try to reflect that in my songs.

For English, I wanted the song to be honoring of God's Word and be something the singer/listener could use to hide God's word in the heart. I wanted it to be more than just something with a good beat and a catchy tune. I couldn't capture that by putting the English translation to the Latin song, so I created a separate and distinct song.

If you are a CC Connected subscriber, you may recognize Mary's username marykbry. For anyone who has downloaded and used Mary's songs from CC Connected, have you not been completely blessed by her?!?  She has helped our family learn about infinitives, participles, elements (with Elvis the Element Presley), and so much more! If you've been blessed by the work she has freely shared on CC Connected, here are three ways you can bless her back! 
  1. Visit her website to learn more about Mary’s trio of violin, clarinet and piano.
  2. Like Blanchette Trio on Facebook.  Here is where you can access her very informative videos on Tin Whistle Instruction. THESE ARE SO FANTASTIC! If you view these videos, please like the Blanchette Trio in return! And if you share them, please share via their Facebook page instead of posting to other social media sites.
  3. Contact her at or visit this site to purchase and download a copy of both the English and Latin songs.  If you are a CC Connected subscriber, you can find her other songs under the user name marykbry.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

New to Homeschooling (or NOT)? Plan to Be Flexible!

Raise your hand if your homeschool days always go as planned.

{My hand is not raised. And crickets are chirping.}

If it's not already absolutely apparent, I want you to know that I love to plan. I've written plans and checklists down on post-it notes since... before I was born?  (Okay, okay, okay. I'm exaggerating.  But I think I have written plans and checklists from about the time I could hold a pencil.)

But the reality of our lives is not what is written down in my plans. My plans are just plans, and my plans get derailed from time to time (and sometimes more often than that). Over time, I've equipped myself to handle the harsh reality of life by planning to be flexible.

What does that mean, anyway?

How I plan to be flexible
I only schedule out our reading selections for 24 weeks of the school year because I like to have a reading goal. It is the one goal I really like to have structured in our home. But we are flexible in that we provide ourselves 12 extra weeks for "catching up" when life interrupts... or when we've gone on one too many rabbit trails, which we are apt to do from time to time (and sometimes more often than that).

General Planner Pages with 12-week planner page (shown bottom right) 
For subjects like math or spelling/phonics, I use a 12-week planner page to get an overall goal for each "third" of the school year, and I usually leave a day or two open every other week in case we end up with illness, or a spontaneous field trip, or...?  I don't write my daily plans into my weekly planner pages until we have finished the week. (If you only knew how I used to practically choke myself to death with eraser dust!) Yet still, believe it or not, we finish our overall goals for the year and move on to the next grade at the close of the school year. Please listen to me, my friends:  It's okay to plan flexibility into your schedule.

About the book Plan to Be Flexible
This brings me to a book I read earlier this summer, Plan to be Flexible: Designing a Homeschool Rhythm and Curriculum Plan that Works for your Family by Alicia Kazsuk, which provides new homeschoolers - and veteran homeschoolers - ideas for organizing your school days while balancing those ideas with the flexibility that homeschooling offers.

Plan to be Flexible provides help with:
  • analyzing what's working (or not) in your homeschool
  • developing a flexible, goal-oriented curriculum plan for each student
  • discovering how to find a rhythm for your homeschool within a framework of those goal-oriented curriculum plans
  • learning how to homeschool with joy and freedom
Although I have homeschooled for several years now, I found this book to be full of practical advice gleaned from real-life experiences. This advice is broken down into three parts:

"Establish and Refine Goals" provides ideas for using the finish line as a daily guide for adjusting your homeschool year. It gives guidelines for determining what's working (and what's not) and how to use that to establish your family's goals for the coming year.

"Develop a Curriculum Plan" gives instructions for creating a master school year calendar, building a custom-built curriculum core for each student, and using living curriculum for real, live kids. The idea is to build an organized yet flexible subject plan. [This is what I love of about planning structure for 24 weeks of our school year.  We have another 12 weeks to finish any extras (or not).  The Classical Conversations program provides structure but flexibility at the Foundations (grammar school) stage, which is a huge blessing!]

"Find Your Family's Rhythm" discusses the difference between rhythms and schedules and how to consider your family's unique circumstances in homeschooling with joy and freedom.

The appendix includes assessment questions and resources. What's more, each chapter concludes with an action plan. It really is a study guide for learning to plan and organize your school days!

A few thoughts

Don't overeat at the buffet! I've used this exact analogy in explaining our resources lists, booklists, and reading plans. (In fact, the following quote could have been my exact words! Seriously!)
"You don't have to do everything on your list. Like the items at an 'all-you-can-eat' buffet, you don't need to fill your days with absolutely every item from your Subject Plan. Really." (p. 73)
Impromptu learning is valuable and wonderful and necessary to foster a curiosity and inquisitiveness about God and His creation. Allow your plans to derail a bit if there's a specific interest that needs to be researched!

What about unfinished projects?  It's okay to not finish a project. Sometimes, you find that what you were planning to do was not the best activity for your family to explore a particular concept. Sometimes, you end up with unexpected circumstances that force you to set projects on the backburner.
"Do we look at half-created projects and consider the assignment a failure?" (p. 132)
Maybe we should look at the half-created project and see it as half-completed instead of half-undone.

...but as is with most books, I disagreed with one thought within this book:
"Real learning is radically different from fact recitation. Real learning means that a person has fallen in love with knowledge, and has given themselves to a life of exploration and discovery. Fact recitation is just the opposite:  a lifeless, temporary gathering of meaningless information." (p. 132)
My own personal experience with fact recitation is that it's not only a natural tendency for most children to quote and recite all sorts of information (if only my children would stop reciting all the words from The LEGO Movie!), it also gives them a love of knowledge because they can connect other activities, readings, and field trips to that which they already know. The memory work we have learned has caused our family to fall in love with knowledge - but not just for the sake of loving knowledge! It's a constant wonder and discovery about our Creator. I would argue that fact recitation has given us a life of exploration and discovery because we really know something that's not just temporary or meaningless, but something that we come across in our everyday lives.

I've mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating. Flexibility in homeschooling is a requirement because life happens. Every year we go through interruptions. For us, it was homeschooling through chainsaw chaos in Fall 2011. One year later, it was an eye surgery. The next year? It was homeschooling through the first trimester of pregnancy. And throughout these homeschooling years, we've faced deaths in the family and other unforeseen circumstances. And we work through it. We persevere. Our family does not homeschool only when it's easy. Our children get to see what living life is really like because they are a constant part of that life. And life is not perfect.

The truth is, our days are not hunky-dory, by-the-plan, and picture-perfect around here.  But they wouldn't be hunky-dory, by-the-plan, and picture-perfect even if we didn't homeschool.  I'd rather have my children with me through it all.

Wouldn't you?

Free Resources for Homeschoolers!
Great news! Alicia Kazsuk, the author of Plan to Be Flexible, is also the founder of the website Vibrant Homeschooling, a community of everyday moms from all over the world sharing the quiet triumphs (and everyday challenges) of our glorious homeschooling adventure. Through online classes, blog posts and other resources, this website helps moms discover (and love) their imperfectly perfect homeschooling journey.  If you sign up to receive Vibrant Homeschooling posts to your inbox, you will also receive a great 6-part course called The 5 Best Kept Secrets of Successful Homeschoolers- FREE! While you're there, check out the sample of her "Bloom" video course, "A Journey to Joy (and Sanity) for Homeschool Moms," and the sample of her "Rhythm" video course, "Guiding your Family to their Ideal Learning Flow."

More great news! Alicia Kazsuk is offering two paperback copies of the book Plan to Be Flexible for us to give away here at Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood! Enter via the rafflecopter form below!

Click here to enter this Rafflecopter giveaway.

We received a copy of the book Plan to Be Flexible in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.