How to do a Classical Conversations Book Haul, Cycle 2, weeks 11-14

I enjoy sharing my book hauls so you can gather some ideas for your next library visit. We are well embedded in the grammar stage of classical learning, which means we are focused on the who, the what, the when. Sometimes we learn the how and why, but I don’t necessarily embellish for topics for things that are complex like things of historical nature. Rather, we make indulgences in science to learn the why or how of things, listen to more music or look at more art. More often we are just out exploring nature and the things around us.

Let’s get into the book haul now.

We happen to have the timeline cards for classical conversations, and the science cards. We also have a science encyclopedia. But when I approach a new section of learning for CC, I look up about three weeks of information at a time. This happens one of two ways:

Method one. Online in my library’s online catalogue… in this case I ask the library to reserve the books for me and set them aside. This allows me the flexibility of picking them up from the check out area at anytime, kids in tow or not

Method two. At the library either by myself or with the kid’s librarian’s help… in this case I need my husband’s help focusing on my kids while I search

Before I go searching and compiling. Before I use either pick up method, I just make a list of the upcoming topics covered by CC. In this case, it was weeks 11-14. I just literally handwrite a list starting with the timeline, history, science, math, English and geography topics. And in that list, I look for overlapping subjects, so I can consolidate the books I need if possible.

I also look up the book list from Half A Hundred Acre Wood’s blog online. And the kindergarten, preschool, and picture books lists from my local library, including early readers. And note any upcoming holidays.

Back to compiling my books. If I’m using method one, then while I’m logged in to the library’s catalogue I write down call numbers and sections where I will find the topics I want to cover. Then I literally go hunting, comparing a few books from each section to make sure I have one appropriate for my young Kinder-aged son. I have a heavy preference for cartoon books, comic books, picture books, story books or rhyming books if I can find related ones. Next, a heavy preference for simple explanatory books. We may not read every one word for word. Sometimes I summarize. Sometimes we soak in the pictures if the book is very advanced but that’s all that was available.

I may have to ask the librarian for help if certain books are missing. See how not everything is crossed off my lists? That’s okay!

Here’s how my lists end up looking before I go hunting.

If I’m using method 2, I look at user ratings to help me decide which ones to pull.

My kids also get to pick books at random that they’d enjoy.

This is what we ended up with for weeks 11-14 for Cycle 2 of classical conversations.

In my last book haul, you’ll see we covered Week 11 already. I don’t mind doing weeks over again, whatsoever. We have a break week due to Thanksgiving, so we can take advantage of that buffer.

This is where the type A in me halts to a grand stop. We read twice a day, before rest time and bed time. We read four or five books… or if the books are long, a chapter… or if the books are really long, a page. We “dog ear” where we left off and pick it up again whenever we feel like it.

As our three weeks comes to an end we either return the books we’ve had enough of, or renew the books we want more time with.

We are discovering so much this way! My son’s favorite book from the last haul was called “Plagues, Pox, and Pestilence”. I never would have guessed that he’d be so into that! And on our drive today he proclaimed “I really love Buzz Aldrin” and asked me if I knew about Vostok missions.

Here’s one more view of the book haul for weeks 11-14 for Cycle 2 for you.

There’s no way around the fact that this is time-consuming. Method one takes a solid hour and a half for me to cover three CC weeks. Method two takes me a good two hours. But we are finding the benefits are innumerable.

I didn’t include the silly books my sons picked this week or the early readers, since I am focusing on how you can do a CC haul.

We are in the grammar stage, but my young Kindergartener wants to know what he’s memorizing, so off we go every three weeks to fill in some of those learning pegs with a little meat.

While some moms have impressive book collections, we don’t have the space or money to purchase all these books every week, and I’d feel gridlocked if I did it that way anyhow. I do, however, prioritize making the time.

I hope this helps some of you enjoy CC more!

Cycle 2 Weeks 8-11 Book Haul

Here’s my book haul for K-3rd for Classical Conversations weeks 8-11 for Cycle 2. I take account upcoming holidays too.

We like very hands-on math activities. Here’s a little space puzzle for skip counting 14’s. I found the image by searching space images in google. I glued the popsicle sticks with elmer’s glue on the back of the image. Then I used a kitchen paring knife to carefully slice through and divide the popsicle sticks on a cutting board. My son didn’t want to do it until I walked away and acted like it didn’t matter if he did it or not. 5 minutes later he “surprised” me, and asked me for help with the last few pieces which weren’t numbered.

Reading for littles under 5

We have enjoyed learning how to read, and my son is doing really well, even though it’s the hardest thing we do all week. Once we mastered phonics, which we started after my son learned his letters, we started “Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons” (“100”) by Siegfried Engelmann, Phyllis Haddox and Elaine Bruner.

This year, he’s old enough to participate in the “Book It” program from Pizza Hut, which give his extra incentive to do twenty reading lessons a month.

We started this “100” book when my son was 3.5 years old. We just did one lesson a week then. This year, at 4.5, we decided to do one lesson a day. We just finished lesson 75, so I another five weeks we can close another chapter of this story, and move on to first readers. My son can read first readers, so sometimes we do that anyhow, but I really like the systematic introduction of reading in the “100” book.

I thought I’d give you some reading pointers that have helped my son a lot. 

Reading readiness for babblers:

  • Sing your ABC’s everyday – we do this whenever we swing along with a series of other songs
  • Sing a tune that teaches phonics. Leapfrog sells phonics toys that say “a says a, and a says a, every letter has a sound and a says a”. 

Reading readiness for children becoming verbal (they mimic your sounds).

  • Continue singing everyday. It uses a different part of the brain than talking.
  • Use alphabet flashcards and just go through them once a day. As your child is becoming verbal, ask them to repeat the letter name after you.
  • Make letter crafts. You can google letter crafts for every letter and find the cutest letter crafts! They only require construction paper, scissors and glue. Embellish these however you wish (or don’t, haha).
  • Start asking your child to pick out the right letter when you place two or three cards in front of them. I use this technique for everything I’m teaching kids at this stage, because they know far more than they can speak!
  • Use ASL sign language as you sing if you know it. Or learn it. It’s easy.
  • For my 2 year old, we color in a composition book every week, and I write a new letter on the page for him and tell him what letters they are. Then he just scribbles. He’s been asking me to write his name, so I write his name, spelling it out loud as I write. And I write the alphabet for him in upper case letters as I say the name. He watches me write. (Note: This is only at my 2 year old’s request. My firstborn was very different and wouldn’t have sat through this, though he was ready to start reading at 3.5 years old anyway.)

Reading readiness for verbal children (kids who can say simple sentences) who know their phonics.

  • Start reviewing the sounds of each letter. “What sound does A make?” “Do you know what other sounds A makes?”
  • Start putting two letters together for your child and making up nonsense words, like “ba, ma, ta, da”. 
  • Work on rhyming words together like “bat, mat, at, sat, cat”.
  • We played with letter tiles that we moved around to make words. Scrabble letters, bananagrams, and the logic of English tile letters have been useful for this activity. We also have letter die cutters he likes to use, which are useful for developing hand strength.
  • We finger tap syllables out loud at this stage too. That’s a tool I learned from a veteran homeschooled who had a lot of experience working with her boys with special needs. Look her up. I greatly admire her: Randi St. Denis. She’s responsible for starting and running the Southeastern Homeschool Expo – this is still my favorite expo by far. I’ve been to expos in the South, North, and Western parts of the United States now.

Reading readiness for children ready to go with “real” reading (you’ll know your child is ready when they start reading road signs to you, or trying to anyway!):

  • Do reading lessons daily. My son will be 5 this week. We’ve been doing daily reading lessons since he was 4.5 years old, but your child’s age is not the determining factor for reading readiness. I’m just pointing out, that daily practice is appropriate at some point. You’ll find some inertia in your child’s reading ability with daily lessons, which will encourage you both. 
  • Do your lessons at your child’s most alert time. But if math is harder for your child, then reserve this energy for math instead – that’s just my advice to you.
  • Pick books your child wants to read.
  • Get your child excited about reading through your own enthusiasm and encouragement. Your praise is honey to their hearts! This is true at all ages.
  • Acknowledge when things are hard.
  • If your child is out of brain power, put it down immediately and come back later. Keep reading fun, not punishing.
  • Make the crossover brain connection for your child with “finger tracking”. This is where your child tracks the words he is reading as he is reading. This method is also used for adults who are recovering from strokes when they are relearning how to read.
  • When my child reads letters out of order (which he tends to do), I ask him which letter he sees first. This is usually enough to get his mind to pronounce the letters in the correct order, left to right.
  • When he mispronounces the words, I tell him which letter he added or took out. “You said torn, but I don’t see an r there. Pronounce t-o-n.” 
  • When he is reading, I also tell him the English rules that are modifying the sounds of the letters. “There’s an e after a consenant, so the letter o says its own name”. 
  • Teach your child the vowels and consenants.
  • When my child is stuck on words, we build them with letter tiles. This gets him right back on track.
  • We made a “reading guide” that covers up all but one line of text. You can purchase these from educational supply stores, but ours was cheaper and just as effective. I used tacky laminating paper, and card stock.
  • When you’re done with the “100” book, move on to easy readers from the library, and when your child has exhausted these, move up to level 2, and so on.

I hope this has helped you!

​Here is a picture of our reading guide. Just card stock and self-adhering lamination paper. I’m sure you could use a regular laminating machine too.

Here is my son using the guide. We are “car-schooling”, because we are on a weekend adventure, but are getting 20 reading lessons in this month, which means we need to do this today. 

Here’s a little video of my almost-five year old reading lesson 75. How well is he doing?!

Here’s a bonus idea, which you homeschool veterans have done over and over already. We practice skip counting many ways, but one of them is through manipulatives. I printed a space image I found online, and just glued it onto popsicle sticks. I wrote the numbers for the 14’s on the ends, and trimmed the image down to fit. I used a sharp kitchen knife to separate the popsicle sticks after all was dry. At first my son didn’t want to do this puzzle, so I told him he didn’t have to and walked away. (Wink, wink). I came back 5 minutes later and he was almost done. He only wanted help with the sticks that weren’t numbered.

We also hop on numbers on the floor, and flip numbers over so we can’t see them as we learn them. We practiced a lot of our memory work by hanging upside down this week, inside play tunnels, spinning in chairs, spinning on our feet with arms out ‘all willy-nilly,’ in forts, doing flips and summersaults too. This is perfect for my sensory-seeker. Got to keep it moving, right? And my 2 year old hangs and hops and spins right alongside him, which makes this mama’s heart happy!

Kindergarten book haul, CC Cycle 2 weeks 5-8

Hi, my name is Robyn and I have a problem. The first step is admittance, right?

The first two pictures correspond to cycle 2 in CC, weeks 5-8. The rest of these are wonderful kindergarten reads. With a few mixed in for my toddler and some stragglers from the CC weeks 5-8 library haul.