Friday, April 4, 2014

Supplementing CC on a Shoestring

The following post was written in June of 2011.  Links have been updated as of April 2014.

We use Classical Conversations as a spine around which we build our entire school year.  For those who are going through their first year, it can be overwhelming, so my word of advice is this:
If you don't get around to supplementing CC with anything (aside from math and phonics/language arts), you and your child will STILL walk away knowing a whole bunch of wonderful stuff this year. 
Now having said that, if you want to supplement Cycle 3 but are lacking funds to go hog-wild with buying boatloads of books, then here is a list of supplemental resources that you might want to check out.  Most of them are in the form of pdf documents for those who have an e-reader or can read off of a computer. 

American History Readings

American History Stories Vol 1-4 by Mara Louise Pratt-Chadwick provides a narrative account of various people and events throughout American History.  Audio recordings only exist for Volumes 1 & 2 of this series.  We plan to use these to supplement our study of Columbus, Pilgrims/Colonial Life and the American Revolution.  The history contained in each volume is as follows:

Volume 1:  Norsemen to the end of the French & Indian War  pdf    audio
Volume 2:  American Revolution & Patriotic Songs  pdf    audio
Volume 3:  The First President through the Fugitive Slave Law  pdf
Volume 4:  Abraham Lincoln through The War Between the States  pdf 

A Short History of the United States by Edward Channing is a fairly complete American history book from 1000 to 1900 .  Download a free e-book or the audio recordings from Librivox.  (NOTE:  Though the audio recordings are listed as "Chapters" on Librivox, there are actually several chapters on each recording, so you will have recordings for the entire book if you download the 26 "Chapters" from Librivox. The recordings range from 7 minutes to 38 minutes in length.)  As a family, if we listen to one "chapter" recording per week, we will have listened to a complete history of the United States up to 1900, filling in the gaps left in our Cycle 3 memory work.  As a side note, Channing's A History of the United States, is regarded as one of the most complete and accurate accounts of American history and received the 1926 Pulitzer Prize for History. 

The above listed books were the history books we used during our first trip through American history, chosen primarily because they were appropriate for the elementary school level.  In selecting these, we considered readability, vocabulary, and whether or not audio recordings were available (because we listen to or read-along with our history lessons), but many others are also available.  Below are additional titles that are available for free:

(There are many more free e-books that can be used for supplementing Cycle 3 American History.  If you need to beef up the reading part of your curriculum, be sure to search for additional readings at The Baldwin On-Line Children's Literature Project.  If you need them in pdf or e-reader format, you can conduct a search on google e-books for those you find on The Baldwin Project.)

Note:  We now use Story of the World (SOTW) by Susan Wise-Bauer, which can be purchased through Amazon.  SOTW is a world history book, so the American History is dispersed throughout Volumes 3 and 4.  Because it is a world history book, it does not contain some of the history that we will be studying in Cycle 3.  Correlation to SOTW is available on our Cycle 3 Reading Plans post.

An illustrated book encompassing several stories from American History:
  • Purchase a used copy of William J. Bennett's The Children's Treasury of Virtues (I found mine on ebay for less than $10).  The Treasury of Virtues contains The Children's Book of Virtues, The Children's Book of Heroes, and The Children's Book of America.  This book can also be used in conjunction with Bible lessons to reinforce character development (Book of Virtues).  [UPDATE:  The price of the Treasury of Virtues has gone up significantly! As of September 2014, the Book of America is a good alternative for a fraction of the cost!!]  Visit Tina at Chasin Raisins for a suggested reading list, or refer to our Cycle 3 Just-the-Reading-Plans Planner.  This is would provide several readings that correlate with Cycle 3.


This is just a small sample of what you can find for free on-line!  For a listing of free resources for all subjects, visit our Cycle 3 Resources page.  

Just wanted to get this out there while I'm still compiling our lesson plans.  There really is NO NEED to purchase tons of supplemental books and materials for Cycle 3 if you have a way to view or listen to on-line documents.  And regardless of whether or not you use anything listed here, you will be amazed at how much you and your children have learned at the close of the school year!

Please click here for updated reading lists, schedules, plans and planners for the 2014-2015 school year!

List of updated Cycle 3 posts for 2014-2015:
Cycle 3 Weekly Planners
Cycle 3 Reading Plans
Cycle 3 Just-the-Reading Plans
Unofficial CC Cycle 3 Booklist

Please notify me of broken or outdated links.
Affiliate links are included in this post.
Clipart courtesy of ClipArt ETC


  1. This is a fantastic list. Thanks!

  2. Wow! Your post is timely. I'm trying to get a plan together for Cycle 3 and just sent my director a request for the suggested history readings from CC for this Cycle. Last year I tried to use an additional curriculum with CC and it was just too much. So it looks like I'll be planning my own lessons for this coming year. This will only be my second year homeschooling, so I feel a little overwhelmed. I'm sure your info will come in very handy. BTW, the literture list from a previous post that includes Native Americans, will you read all of those books before you start CC, or do some of those overlap with CC? Thanks!

  3. We will be studying Native Americans before we start CC, so those readings will take place first. (That's why they're at the top of our list - I tried to put them in order of when we'll be reading them.) In some cases we may read some of the Native American books during the year - during Week 2 when we study the Pilgrims and around Thanksgiving. I'm so glad this is helpful to you. We have much more in store for those who need help organizing and supplementing CC - I'm currently working on a family project and after that will be starting my posts regarding our Cycle 3 plans. :)

  4. I love all of these free resources you listed!! We don't use Classical Conversations, but the resources you've been posting are great for anyone! (btw, please consider linking up any time :)

    I've been putting off getting an e-reader...we do have iPhones, so we can read books on those--very small screens, though...these pdfs you've been linking to make me more inclined to get an actual e-reader. Still considering...

    Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this!! Do you care if I link it on our city's CC website?

  6. Please feel free to link back to any of my blog posts! :)

  7. Brandy, thanks for linking up with FRTW!
    I also want to let you know that I linked this post of ours to your great nature study post:

  8. Im looking for a history supplemental reading list that matches up cycle 3 with the kingfisher history encyclopedia. I thought it was posted here, now i cant find it. do you know where I can get one?

  9. Thank you for the post. I will have a look at   native Americans culture with these resources!

  10. I would love a copy of your CC game. I do own a foundations guide! Thanks

  11. Will you be compiling this list for Cycle 1 soon?

  12. I have had computer system errors and will have to reinstall Windows now, which has offset my plans a bit. But I have about 5 or 6 posts sitting in blogger scheduled to publish from now until the end of June. These will publish by subject and will contain links for all 8 subjects of Classical Conversations. (Latin, Bible, and Timeline are already available as some of my most recent posts.) I will not have a literature list ready until much later - there are some ebooks (with librivox audio recordings) available that tie in to ancient world history. Not sure when I will be able to post those because of my computer issues. But a plethora of links are coming your way - you can DEFINITELY still supplement CC on a shoestring (as long as you have an Internet connection!).

  13. I won't be searching through the free literature, but I have listed how you can do this here:

    And I also have links to all the freebie links for Cycle 1 here:

  14. My son and I will be beginning our homeschool adventure next year - he'll be in 6th grade, his sisters will continue at the local elementary school for another year. I'm so excited, but extremely nervous about making sure he gets all the knowledge he needs :-) Thank you for this awesome website - you are a blessing!

  15. Congratulations, Julia! Welcome to homeschooling! Please let me know if you ever need assistance with anything or just need to vent (or need some encouragement!). Helping others along their journey is a passion of mine, and I would be delighted to be a part of your life!

  16. Oh, my goodness! Thank you, thank you, thank you, Brandy, for your hard work and efforts on not only this list, but the entire "half a hundred acre wood" site. What a tremendous blessing this is!