Monday, March 28, 2011

Classical Conversations at Home

After posting about our Classical Conversations community, I thought some may still have a lingering question...

What does Classical Conversations look like at home?

Well, if you scan through our blog, it hopefully will answer that, as almost everything we use simply builds upon the framework offered by Classical Conversations.  So you know, I think of myself as a Classical Educator with a touch of Charlotte Mason and a whole bunch of eclectic-ness thrown in to boot.  (That narrows it down, eh?)  When I first started homeschooling, though, I defaulted to the only method I knew, which was the traditional method of using worksheets and seatwork.  It was not a good fit for the boys or me, although in our home math lends itself to traditional methods (model and repeat) fairly often. 

So, since Classical Conversations only meets once per week, what do we do the rest of the time?  Here is what our schedule looks like most days:

Our Schedule on a Utopian Day:

9:00 AM - 10:00 AM:  New memory work; Review previous memory work. Mostly we sing and dance our way through the 8 subjects (Bible, Timeline, History, Science, English Grammar, Geography, Math), but we sometimes play games (such as homemade Trivial Pursuit) and draw or label maps. We also complete handwriting and penmanship practice during this time.  I make worksheets of our Bible memory work and timeline using the Print Handwriting Worksheet Maker.  The focus is to practice penmanship (and learn letters for our pre-k children) and strengthen fine motor skills.  I also make handwriting worksheets of their names, our address, or any other information I want them to learn or practice.

Our weekly memory work.  We use page
protectors on a tri-fold board.
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM:  Math.  Though Classical Conversations contains math memory work that includes times tables through the 15s, squares, cubes, geometry, unit conversions and algebraic laws, a separate math curriculum is needed.  We use Saxon Math, along with Times Tables & Addition/Subtraction the Fun Way for the rote facts, and extra worksheets on geometry and statistics using MathKEY.  For additional details, see our previous post on Math Curriculum.

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM:  Language Arts.  Until students can join the Essentials program (Grade 3 or 4), a separate Language Arts program is needed to supplement Classical Conversations.  Because our 2nd grader has been a strong reader, we tackled a couple of the Total Language Plus workbooks, which you can learn more about on our blog post What Language Are You Speaking.  We like doing unit studies and lapbooks, so literature studies were a good fit for us this year, though now we are simply using Rod & Staff Grade 3 curriculum.  We have used a couple of different programs for spelling as well. A phonics or reading program is also needed to supplement Classical Conversations until your child advances to Essentials.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM:  Lunch.

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM:  Finish Language Arts.  Because Language Arts includes oral reading, spelling, grammar, and writing, we usually split it up into two hours.  Our pre-k student works in his Rod & Staff A-B-C Series books, and we practice our calendar, and he writes on his writing cards. He uses and to practice pre-school activities.  We also use a Hooked on Phonics program for reading and phonics. As a side note, reading is not something we do only during Language Arts.  We read A LOT.

2:00 - 3:00 PM:  We split up our other subjects as follows:

Presentation Prep
Puzzle books
Art & Music

Science Study & Experiments Lapbooking

After 3:00 PM:  Finish anything we didn't complete. 

Tuesdays are our Classical Conversations meeting days, so on Mondays we spend some time putting together presentations.  For our pre-schooler (in the Abecedarian class), this usually consists of me trying to figure out which toy he wants to "show-and-tell."  Most of the time he takes a book that he knows and reads it to his class, or he takes his Legos to explain how to count to 10, or he talks about a field trip we took using a toy as a prop.  Our 2nd grader's presentations are more formal - we put together note cards or other helps for him.  I give both of them quite a bit of freedom in this area, as it is simply a skill that we want to practice and gradually refine as they get older.

This schedule is general, as sometimes we start earlier or later, but we still allocate about an hour's time for each subject.  Because the boys usually finish each of our scheduled "hours" of tasks before the end of the hour, they have a break for the remainder of the time.  (This means that our two-year-old's breaks are longer than our 5-year-old's breaks, which in turn are longer than our 7-year-old's breaks.) And we also incorporate nature study into our school days.  Everything tends to go much better if we go outside every day to enjoy God's creation!   

How do we "build" upon the Classical Conversations curriculum?

Our 7-year-old loves lapbooking, building things, and making crafts.  I usually find a way to incorporate these to learn more details regarding our memory work.  For example, this year we studied six weeks of astronomy facts.  So, in addition to this, we completed a rather large Astronomy Lapbook (see our previous post).  We did the same thing for the Medieval and Renaissance Periods.  Because much of the material we studied during the spring has been about world wars, history was not a focal point in our extra work this semester (it's an emotional topic for young children).  However, we watched and discussed The Sound of Music, listened to the corresponding Story of the World audiobooks, and completed some unit studies on South Korea and Norway.  Our favorite sites to find additional free activities are:  homeschoolshare,,,, and  To be honest, there are so many free resources out there.  Select something your child likes to do and go for it!

If you have more questions, please feel free to contact me using the "Contact Me" button.


  1. Awesome post! Following you from the C3 community as a fellow CC mom!

  2. Thank-you for sharing this. A friend gave me the Memory Work CDROM #3. Problem is there is no group here in Manitoba, Canada. If there a way to run this program without the group classes? If so which products would your recommend?
    Thanks you so much!

  3. The most necessary resource is the Foundations Guide, followed by the Veritas Press History Timeline cards, as only the card numbers (not the events) are listed in the Foundations Guide due to Veritas Press copyright. Though not necessary, if you want to use the tutor resources for science experiments & fine arts, they are: Janice VanCleave's 201 Awesome Science Experiments, Drawing with Children by Mona Brookes, Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn F. Kohl & Kim Solga, and Classical Music for Dummies. There are several resources that make it even more enjoyable to learn the material - the Cycle 3 audio cd (much of the material is put to song) and History of the World audiobooks (vol 3 & 4 for cycle 3).

  4. Hi there, this is a great post! Do you mind if I link to it from our campus blog at I'm a director of a campus in a suburb east of Cleveland (Highland Heights). ~Brandi Wheeler

  5. Great post!!!! I am returning to homeschooling and this will be my first year doing CC and classical education. I have a 3rd grader and K. My question is I have been reading The Well Trained Mind and am wondering since CC is on cycle 3 does it matter meaning I know things are talked about as chronological so should I worry about not being at the beginning or just go with the cycle and know that they will do cycle 1 next year.

  6. Do you change out the things in your tri fold board every week?

  7. Your children are the same age as my two oldest! I started last year with Cycle 2, which was World History from 800AD to modern times. I've found that it doesn't matter too much going from the beginning of time, since we also memorize timeline, which puts the history sentences into context. Thanks!

  8. Yes. I change out the things on my tri -fold board every week. The boys actually like to help me with that!

  9. Your site is such a blessing to me! We are starting our first year of CC this year. Our little homechool is in the 40acre woods and had 3 boisterous blessings as well, all will be in foundations. So thankful for your willingness to share!

  10. We are new to CC. I have a question about your tri-fold board (which I think is a fabulous idea). Where did you get the handouts for the areas other than the timeline cards. I don't see anything like that in my Foundations Book?

  11. The handouts are from the Classical Conversations Memory Work Resources CD. These are also available on-line on the CC Connected File Sharing site, which is $6/month for parents who have enrolled their children in a Classical Conversations Community.

  12. I'm not sure where to find your "Contact Me" button; I'm probably looking right past it. I was wondering how you make your Math curriculum work for all ages of your children. I am doing it the same way you are with the different hours dedicated to different subjects, but how do you all do Math at the same time when you have different ages?

  13. Where do you find these on the Classical Conversations Community? Are they listed under your name? Who was the user? I can't find them like i did for cycle 2. I don't have the Mem. Resource CD...but am on the CC Connected. Thanks so much!! Dana :)

  14. When you're logged on to CC Connected, the following links should work for you. If not, the History, Science, and Geography slides are by user ClassicalConversations, Math is from Livpurple, and everything else was just uploaded by annettelam. (In case you don't know, you have to select Cycle 3 from drop-down menu before anything will show up for a user).

    Science Slides:

    Geography Slides:

    History Slides:

    Math Slides:

    English Grammar:

    Latin slides:

  15. Even though he likes doing wrap-ups for math fact practice, I'm finding that I sometimes have to give my oldest a chance to play with all the manipulatives while I'm going through the lesson with my Kindergartner. Again, you can refer to the section in our Foundations Guide titled, "The Classical Model at Home." That is the type of schedule we're aiming for.

  16. Hi! This is our 2nd year doing Classical & this year I decided to create some Canadian Content CD's based on the principals of CC & The Well Trained Mind. If you are interested in this, I would love to have you visit me at

  17. Starting CC with my three boys next Fall and am just beginning the search to find which curriculum best supplements the program. my boys are 4, 6, and 8 and are all excited about our new adventure. I'll be reading through your past posts and am eager to journey along with you.


  18. Hi Rose Ellen! I use a cardboard 35.5" x 46" tri-fold board. Let me know if you have any more questions!


  19. I am trying to set up my tri-fold board, but am having difficulty finding the everything for C1. Can you give me any tips of where to start? I love your website! You are quite an amazing mother and educator and how you got this all together in such a short time, you are my hero!

  20. They only have three subjects on CC Connected thus far:
    Cy1 Science Semester 1.ppt:

    Cy1 History Semester 1.ppt:

    C1 Geography Semester 1.ppt:

    I'm hoping that they will post the others soon! I'll keep an eye out and try to remember to respond again to this message!

  21. Hi Brandy, Thank you so much for posting all your CC ideas, resources and explanations. Two questions for you. (1) I'm wondering if you use the Classical Conversations documents for your Tri-Fold, like the ones from the Resource CD, or do you use another persons that's uploaded on CC Connected? (2) How do you do your Review Memory Work? (I looked for this on your site. If I missed it, could you direct me to the post) We're looking forward to starting CC this year!

  22. Yes, I use documents like those on the Memory Work Resources CD (which are also available on CC Connected), but sometimes I use those uploaded by someone else, as in the case of Fine Arts and English Grammar. For Cycle 1, I am still awaiting the big CC Connected overhaul so that they will continue to upload new documents. And I am still awaiting other users to upload their wonderful resources as well. Thus far, the only slides available are History, Science, Geography, and 1st semester Fine Arts (which can be taken from previous cycles for drawing and tin whistle).

    We review our memory work using an audio cd (which I make from our favorite songs off of CC Connected). We listen to it over and over and over again - mostly in the car. Almost every morning we listen to that week's memory work. Then I choose a day of the week to focus on each subject to review all of the material to date, sort of as follows:

    Monday: History, Timeline
    Tuesday: Math, Latin
    Wednesday: Timeline, English Grammar
    Thursday: Geography, Latin & Bible
    Friday: Timeline, Science

    We use a checklist method to stay organized (and not overwhelmed) as noted in this post:

    I'll be posting more about our fall semester plans later this summer. Thanks for your questions!

  23. Do they have have other subjects ready now? I find all your work and effort VERY HELPFUL.

  24. Other users have uploaded a couple:

    Cy1 Latin:
    Cycle 1 - Fall Semester, All Subjects:


    The CC Timeline motions are up:

    I will still be checking back to see if others have uploaded tri-fold board printouts. But this should be enough to get you started for the fall semester!

  25. All tri-fold board slides are now available. For a list of file names and users, go to

  26. All tri-fold board slides are now available. For a list of file names and users, go to

  27. Hello! I was trying to find a link to contact you directly. I do see that you read every comment so I hope you get this ok. I am a SAHM to two children, just turning 4 and 1. My oldest will begin CC this year. It seems from what I'm reading that you use CC as your foundational curriculum and elaborate and suppliment from it. This is what we were thinking of doing. If my understanding is correct, then what additional study materials would you suggest for my new little homeschooler to ensure she has a complete and balanced curriculum? Also, do you commit to staying home every day to this schedule during your homeschool year? I would imagine that, once she starts the older grades, we would need to commit the time at home as well. Lastly, what in the world do you do with your little one while you work with your older one? I hope to be able to balance well the time b/t them both and continue my household and home business obligations. Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this and thanks for a great blog too! Take care!

  28. You can reach me directly at brandyferrell at yahoo dot com (link is at the very bottom in the right sidebar). By no means am I an expert on such things, but I will offer some ideas for you (just keep in mind that it may work much differently for others!)

    I do use CC as a framework for our other curriculum selections, but I do not correlate everything directly for what I am doing. For history, we go straight through a history curriculum instead of jumping around to give a more cohesive study. When we come across the memory work we have studied, it's great because we can connect it to things that are already plugged into our brains! For science, we will do much the same thing - going through three units of biology, but not necessarily correlating each week's work with what we are studying in CC. We will also do one science project with a friend each week which will correlate with what we're memorizing.

    To balance out CC, you will need a phonics and a math curriculum. In 1st grade you can find a Language Arts program to go along with these until you reach Essentials. History is usually a little difficult for young children to comprehend, but you can use picture books to expose her to the events and people we study. For science, nature study fits in so well with this year. Take walks and observe nature and draw what you see. Simple discovery will instill a love of learning as you investigate God's creation... You can also just use some of the things listed on our Science Resources page.

    For a 4-year-old, I would not worry so much about a complete and balanced curriculum because she is still so young.! Having said that, some people really like My Father's World for this age. For our three year old, we are using a handwriting practice book (My First Book by Handwriting Without Tears), a pre-reading program (All About Reading), and simple math activities and games.

    As far as commitments, yes we have to limit how much we are out, but our plan changes every year. For this year it looks like this: We will have to adhere fairly strictly to this schedule because of our involvement with two tutorials this year.

    And finally, I usually have a special box for Levi. Levi loves his box of stuff that he gets out while his brothers are doing work. The box contains handwriting cards and sorting games and file folder games and other educational toys/games. He is finally at the stage that he is ready to have his own handwriting books and actually asks to do school like his brothers. But it is still a balancing act - and I have to not be too hard on myself or them when I feel pulled in all directions. For Stephen, he operates fairly independently once I have given him instructions. David needs a little more assistance, so I usually go back and forth between them, and Levi will usually play beside us when I am working with them. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  29. Thanks a bunch, Brandy! My little one is hungry for knowledge, constantly asking to do her, "school work." Right now we're just doing little workbooks (Pre-K math, writing letters) that I've picked up here and there and a daily devotion. After reviewing my CC materials, I am thinking that CC may be enough to keep her fed this year. From reading the blogs, I've found that so many folks mention so many different programs to, "balance out" CC - even at 4 years old! With this being our first year of homeschooling and knowing nothing about anything, we're hungry for education. I suppose the best thing that I have received from your reply is that I've got time to figure it out. CC starts in a week and I wanted to find whatever supplimentary materials were needed. However, now I'm thinking of kicking back, doing the fun workbooks we're doing, letting her play on the computer with her learning games as she likes, maybe picking up some fun learning software, and enjoying CC for the year. Thanks for helping me put my feet up a bit :) Take care and best wishes for your family! I'll enjoy reading your blog for sure!

  30. Hi-
    I've enjoyed your blog and appreciate all the work you have done that blesses so many of us! Thank you! I had a question about your CC day (which you said is Tuesdays, correct?). How do you alter your daily schedule on Tuesday? Do you just eliminate the morning and keep the afternoon schedule? My oldest is 3rd/4th grade so we've been doing this awhile but we've been pretty relaxed up until now. I am hoping to get more into a schedule now that we are hopefully settled and health issues are resolved (I hope). Thank you.

  31. We are in Essentials Tuesday afternoons, so we don't get home from CC until 3:30. (So we do not stick to our regular schedule on Tuesdays, though they read or do puzzle books or other activities sometimes when we get back home.)

  32. Hi Brandy!

    Thank you so much for writing...
    I have gleaned quite a bit from your pages...:)
    I was interested in making a tri-fold board. Do you know the size that you purchased and is it made of foam or cardboard?
    Rose Ellen

  33. Hey I was wondering is it possible to do just the memory part with the songs and facts at home? We use another curriculum but would love to incorporate part of cc in our home. If so what would we need to buy? We do another science and art but my children love to sing songs so I thought that may be benefical to their learning in a fun way!

  34. If you are just doing the memory work for Cycle 3 (and just want memory work songs), you will need to either subscribe to CC Connected for one month in August ($60/month for non-community members, $6/month for community members) or buy the Cycle 3 Audio CDs. I prefer CC Connected because it has songs for the subjects that have spoken audio on the CD, plus a ton of other resources other parents have created - for all three cycles! You can subscribe and download everything, and then sort through it afterwards. And that's also assuming that you know how to create playlists or CDs to listen to. You may also need The Foundations Guide 4th Edition for reference, or you might purchase the Cycle 3 iPad app when it comes out. The Cycle 3 Geography Trivium Tables are also very helpful if you do not have a subscription to CC Connected. The Acts & Facts History Cards are not necessary but are certainly helpful for easily looking up information that goes with the timeline and history sentences.
    The Audio CD: The Foundations Guide:
    Cycle 3 Geography Trivium Tables:
    Acts & Facts History Cards:
    Info about CC Connected is here:

    If you will not be in a community and will be following the Foundations Guide Fine Arts and Science Projects plan, you will also need: a tin whistle, the 101 Awesome Experiments book, The Body Book, Discovering Great Artists, and Classical Music for Dummies. If you are not well-grounded in drawing, you may also want to buy the book Drawing with Children for reference, or you can visit this webpage:
    All of these resources are available at and

    Let me know if you need any further assistance in finding or selecting which materials to use or if you have specific questions about any of them!

  35. Jennifer Wallace HesseAugust 23, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    I found a post that was an updated look at your day, but it wasn't the tapered start post. I clicked a link and lost the blog post, and now I can't find it! Do you have any ideas on what I'm talking about?! I've clicked on a bunch of planning posts and haven't found the one I'm looking for. I think it went through and described how you implement the schedule/plan. If that rings a bell for you, please let me know! Sorry to bug you and THANK YOU for all the tools you've prepared and shared!!! You are a blessing to me!

  36. Could it be our first two weeks post from last year? Please let me know if this isn't it!

  37. Jennifer Wallace HesseAugust 23, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    No, that wasn't it, but that's a great post, too! I think the one I'm looking for described your curriculum choices for the boys. It had great info that I was using for my belated planning for this year. Thanks for your help! BTW, our babies are close in age -- we have an Ezekiel, born 5/5/14!

  38. How about one of these:
    If that's not it, you might want to check our site map to see if you recognize the name of the post. Or let me know if you remember any other details about the post you're referring to, and I'll be glad to look more for you!

  39. What a blessing your post is for me. I am new to homeschooling and to CC and in week 3 I can tell you I am JUST finding a manageable schedule. My daughter is 7 and loves knowing what to expect (a schedule) and this has been the biggest challenge for me since I decided to homeschool her. Your schedule is so very doable and makes so much since for my ONE mind-of-Christ child, and I am looking forward to emulating you using your schedule. Much appreciate your wealth of CC knowledge and willingness to share. May the Lord continue to richly bless you Brandy. In Christ, Felecia