Saturday, January 7, 2012

Classical Conversations Planning

Realizing that my children are still so young, and that we'll be back through Cycle 3 at least three more times before we've moved our youngest on to Challenge, we are making some changes.  It's a good thing, too, because my stack of didn't-get-around-to-it papers from last semester is quite enormous.  (Seriously - it is about one entire ream of paper.)  We are simplifying quite a bit now - making a few changes to math and language arts and providing more free time for the things my children are passionate about:  history and science.  I mention all that to say this:  if you have to drop a program or a certain curriculum that you REALLY BELIEVE in, it's okay.  With CC, you'll be back through it again. ( I love that!)  And I'm glad that I can set things aside for a while.  Someone told me this week:  your curriculum is a tool.  You be master over the curriculum, do not let it become master over you.  So, for our 3rd grader, we are shifting from Saxon Math temporarily (even though I totally love it) and Essentials to a certain degree (even though it is an incredible program). For a list of curriculum that we plan to use this semester, go to Cycle 3 Spring Semester Plans, though as I've mentioned, our plans have changed over the past week...

Reigniting the Passion for Living and Learning:
As I prepare to RE-START this semester (because the start to our semester completely flopped on a deep, emotional level), I have started re-reading some books that originally provided me with so much vision and excitement -  not only about the classical model of education, but also about living, learning, and homeschooling in general.  I re-read these books to reignite my passion for living, learning, and teaching, as these books are BEAUTIFULLY RICH.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold timid souls who have… known neither victory nor defeat.”
—Theodore Roosevelt, Sorbonne lecture, 1910

I deeply desire the passion for learning that I operated under over the course of last semester.  Through all the construction, chaos, and compressed living space in our home, our family passionately pursued learning.  We enjoyed doing projects well into the night, just to have a few moments of discovery together after all the construction crews had left and the chainsaws had quieted.  Somehow that passion had fallen away as we started back up this spring, so now I pursue the instilling of that passion for life in myself once again.

Our planner
Our planner was created to show memory work at-a-glance plus the subjects in a daily format.   My inspiration came from Money Saving Mom's Homeschool planner, which is great in itself, including attendance forms, 6-week subject plans, goal sheets, and 1-week daily plans. You can even input information into it! But here's my personal creation after seeing the Money-Saving Mom Planner.

My question is:  Will I ever actually use a planner to plan? I keep using it to log what we did instead of what we're going to do.  Anyone else have this problem, or am I alone?  (At night, I tend to jot things down on a scratch piece of paper - sometimes a post-it note.  That's really the only "planning" I'm doing right now.  Thank goodness I'm using a file system that at least helps me to know which weeks I should be doing what...

My faithful file system.
...and workboxes that help us to keep our activities at least organized by subject.)

We now have a schoolroom (aka, The Learnin' Loft), where
we have pretty wooden workboxes.  (Yes, you might be a home-
school mom if you asked for a schoolroom for Christmas.)

Tri-Fold Board
My two favorite tools for Classical Conversations are our tri-fold board and our memory work song cds (which we make from the songs available on CC Connected).  For our tri-fold board, we use files from CC Connected.

Cycle 3 Tri-Fold Board Slides (NOTE:  File names will be included here at a later date!):

Science Slides
Geography Slides
History Slides
Math Slides
English Grammar
Latin slides
Fine Arts Slides
Memory Work At-a-Glance Pages (We attach these to the back of the board so that I can see them when we are reviewing.)

What it looks like:

As I mentioned, we are scaling back in Essentials for various reasons (one of which is that our son wants to participate in a square dancing class with other CC classmates who are not in Essentials), but I'm still not sure to what degree we're scaling back, as he also does not want to give up his Essentials class.  Either way, we have Abeka and Total Language Plus as a back-up.  (We have some flexibility in this, since he will be back through Cycle 3 once more before taking off into Challenge.)  For those in Essentials, our Essentials Planning looked a lot like this last semester.

And lastly, we have a list of Cycle 3 Resources that I keep updated so that we can find the resources and ideas I've come across for our CC studies. 

Other Planning Posts:
Classical Conversations at Home
Classical Conversations at Home, Re-visited
Classical Conversations Essentials Plan
Memory Work Review Games
Organized Chaos
On-line File Organization
Classical Conversations for Beginners
Classical Conversations Tri-Fold Board


  1. Thanks for all this planning help and the permission to let some of it go! Have you heard any information about the changes to the curriculum and foundation program with the new edition coming out? I'm so tempted to purchase materials for the next cycle since they are so discounted and we are on a tight budget, but wonder if they will all be completely irrelevant next year? I'm not a tutor so small changes won't matter too much. Thanks!

  2. I'm not sure what the changes will be with 4th edition - definitely timeline and possibly some of the maps (??). There shouldn't be anything that would be completely irrelevant (as they are even allowing a transition period for Timeline for the next three years), but there may be some things you will have to fix. Also if you consider that some have been using the 2nd edition materials all this time with the corrections written in and that we are all in the same boat with trying to budget for this, I'm just trusting that the changes are minor (aside from timeline)! I've been thinking about getting the Cycle 1 flashcards but am hesitant as well. But Classical Conversations will also issue a list of what the changes are; unfortunately, that list probably will not come out until May (??).

  3. Thank you for the planning pages!! I have been overwhelmed this year and really enjoy all the things you share. This is what I will be working on this afternoon!

  4. You are a great encouragement. Thank you!

  5. Thank you so much! I was feeling lost, overwhelmed and in need of some better organization. I had just prayed on Friday for direction - this puts in all into perspective for me. Answered prayer right on time. Thanks Brandy.

  6. Thank you for sharing that planner page; it is GREAT for a CC family. I am going to try it right away! I have been looking for something simple to plan with. We have a similar planner but it doesn't have enough space for all of the CC subjects.

    What do you keep in your file system? I am very curious...

  7. I'm glad you can use it! Our files contain all of our tri-fold board slides, any activities I have printed out for the week from our Cycle 3 Resources list ( and activities I have found on CC Connected. I'm keeping it a bit slimmed down for this semester, but some of the things I have (aside from the Tri-fold board slides is: Periodic Table of the Elements activity (from, our Elementary Chemistry printed by unit in booklet format, and Fine Arts artists and composers information.

  8. Wow!! Thank you so much for taking the time to share with all of us! I am very encouraged and directed by your posts. I have had a system for all the Charlotte Mason sites I glean from, but that is all about to change. We are starting CC in the Fall with Cycle 1 and we are very excited (well, I am more so than my kids. They will once they figure out that is is like our old co-op in some sense and a support group for what they are learning in another sense).
    Happy Spring!

  9. These are really creative ideas. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. I am tutoring next year and will be using a lot of what is posted here. Such a valuable resource. Thank you, thank you!

  10. Hello,
    I was just wondering what type items are in the "faithful weekly file". Thank you.

  11. For Cycle 3, I placed the slides for the tri-fold board in there, along with history highlights & science snippets, (all downloaded from CC Connected (or C3)), and resources I had printed out and correlated from sites across the web (from our Cycle 3 Resources page: ). Next year I will print out the slides and resources that correlate to our Cycle 1 memory work for each week. I've only collected a small assortment of activities for next year thus far: but hope to create a Cycle 1 Resource Link page like I did for Cycle 3 this year.

  12. Great. The resources for C3 were helpful. I am looking forward to C1. I appreciate all your work.

  13. Brandy, I found you this morning when I Googled 'Classical Conversations booklists", so I'm just starting to work my way through your blog. Love it! I, too, am an Aggie engineer ('87) turned homeschooling mom of three boys. Just graduated my oldest who is headed to, where else? A&M. I can tell you right now that I look forward to any photos you post of the farm as I used to live in Tennessee - I graduated from high school there. I knew that beautiful backdrop couldn't be Houston which is where we are now. Hey, maybe some acreage in east Tennessee is in my future as well. If only!

    We're starting CC this fall in Foundations and Challenge A. I think the trifold board will be a good focus tool for us. I already have you bookmarked for future reading and reference. Now, off to read that First Year Survival Method!

  14. As always, I am thrilled to hear of other Aggie families via my little bitty blog! We moved to Middle Tennessee from good ole Houston. Don't miss it a bit. LOL! ;)

    Blessings to you for a great year!

  15. If you have a CC Connected membership, download the Cycle 1 memory master notebook file from user foundations, use large-paper labels (like the entire paper is a label) and print it. Then you can cut each piece of memory work to size to put in your 3rd edition guide so that it has all the updates. (In some cases it will not be the same size, but at least it will help!) There is also a 3rd to 4th edition guide changes pdf with which you can do virtually the same thing:

  16. OMGosh!!! I can't believe how awesome you are to share all of the hard work you have done!!! I am doing CC3 at home with my 3 middle and high school age sons, in addition to their grade level work and I bored them to death last week, you are a life saver!!! Thanks a million!