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!

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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.

A Day in the Life of a Homeschool Mom

My kids are 5 and 2 years old. Both boys. I thought it would be fun to post a day in the life of our home. Our schedule is more of a routine than it is a schedule, meaning we follow patterns over being gridlocked by timing. That said though, there are regular things we do each week and month.

This morning both boys were up at 6:30am. I got up and put on praise music, and made a quiche for a ladies’ gathering which was meeting at 9:30am this morning, and heated up two pieces of quiche that I had made from two days ago for the little one and myself. My older son doesn’t like quiche, regardless of what I call it: egg pie, egg cake, egg pizza… he will have none of it. Thus, we all enjoyed hot cocoa and peaches for breakfast, and either muffins or quiche.

Then we got on to our morning symposium. This is our Bible story, and as of right now, a Young Peacemaker’s “sliver” of a lesson. We are reading from the Bible I had growing up, because my oldest son is finally ready for this one. It’s Paul Hamlyn’s Children’s Bible in Color. I say we do a sliver of a lesson in Young Peacemakers, because that’s our attention span right now. My son is fully grasping the concepts, however, so I am grateful that I’m meeting the purpose instead of feeling some false external insane time-bound pressure.

Right after our Bible time, we go on to our reading lesson in “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”.  I wrote about how we do this reading lesson here, but I will add that I started numbering the lines of the long stories. It puts my son in control of his ‘reading guide’ and enables him to have the book right in front of him instead of closer to me. As I become more pregnant, I am having trouble scooting up close enough to the table anyway.

After reading, we do math. We are using Singapore Math Kindergarten Book A. At the time I didn’t realize I ordered the Common Core Edition. I don’t think there’s any difference between regular Kindergarten math and common core kindergarten math, though, so I don’t mind. My son does well in math, so lessons are quick. I do the book more so he can practice writing. We don’t do formal writing yet, for many reasons.

After that, I consider it break time. During that time, the little one who is 2, is either running through the house, or sitting down with his own drawing notebook (a composition book) to draw, scribble, paste and do dot art. Every time he sits down to draw, I write a ‘the next’ capital and lowercase letter on the page, so when we go back through his notebook to admire his drawings we can practice the alphabet.

Today we headed out to a Bible study. The kids play and the moms get some much-needed reflection time. Some moms bring a treat to share. Like I said, I brought quiche. Our whole morning lesson took an hour. Sometimes if my son is really focused, it could be faster, but we’ve literally covered the core pieces that I care about already, all before 9am.

It took me 15 minutes to rally them into the car and do a double check that I had all the items I needed to lead the study, bring the quiche and plates/cups etc, and diapers/wipes, etc. I should pack the diaper bag the night before every night, but sometimes I’m tired.

We got there on time, and I find these women revitalizing and enjoy their company. What a blessing they are to me!

We left at 10 after noon after helping clean up toys a little and picking some fresh lemons from the hostess’ tree. What a fine treat!!

On our 11 minute drive home I caught up with a friend, and lagged in the street talking because my tot fell asleep in that short time.

We had to try nap time twice today. But in-between nap time, I fed this crew some Annie’s mac and cheese mixed with last night’s fresh lemon cilantro parsley zucchini and carrots – mac and cheese day is an indulgent treat. During our lunch, we reviewed our new material for Classical Conversations (CC). It took only 10 or 15 minutes to do that.

Feeling big and pregnant, I let us watch a show. It was a lovely show about house cats that we found on Netflix. Then we read stories, and tried nap time again. Nap time didn’t work. So we got up, my tot decided to go #2 in the potty for the 2nd time (yay!!!).

Then we played stacking cups which is just making towers out of solo cups. We also played the old game that magicians play sometimes, where you hide something under a cup, and rotate three cups around to try and guess where it is in the end. <— these two games make great CC review games by the way. We tried balancing cups on our head and walking while reciting our math squares song for CC. This is how I fit CC into our day in a fun way. I’ve found that every single game under the sun can be a CC game. A few times doing this, and my son will have the whole week down. He already knows the science for this week, and I didn’t feel like I really taught it to him. Part of his knowledge comes from the books we choose. I’ll post another reading haul again in a few days, for Cycle 2 Weeks 9 to 12. I also put on CC music during my older son’s rest time, but it’s mixed in with about 2 hours of other music too. Much of that music is Bible verses sung outloud to beautiful music, and then your standard Kindergarten music. Also in that mix, is relevant Story of the World chapters.

After that, I put the tot on my back for a piggy back ride and played chase older brother through the house. And then older brother decided he’d delight me with brushing my hair. How wonderful! We also rehearsed our notes rhymes that tell us how to memorize the notes on a staff line while we played.

This is our homeschool day! It’s as simple as that, and it’s fun! If you’re thinking of homeschooling, don’t let anyone intimidate you away from it. Homeschooling is awesome. It gets more complicated as children get older, but that’s why we start young. Just remember to keep it fresh.

That’s our day today! On other days, we’ve followed similar routines, but portions of the day may be pushed later in the day because we’ve gotten an earlier start. And often on those long days, I’ve plunked my kids in a loooong bath to decompress… to the tune of an hour long pruney-fingered dunk.

I hope this encouraged some of you to keep it simple, and take it slow! Do what your children need, and put God first.

 

 

Sun observations for Cycle 2 Week 8

Since we are studying parts of the sun for week 8 of classical conversations in cycle 2, we found a sun program, and a star program to go enjoy at Fremont Peak.

Amateur astonomers volunteer to set up their scopes, or the observatory’s scopes, and happily share their knowledge with you.
Firstly, look at the spectacular view we are enjoying! For you CCers, this is definitely a scrubland. The clouds are not our friends when observing the heavens, but they sure are pretty!

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.” 

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:14-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Who can understand the spreading of the clouds and the thunder that rolls forth from heaven?”

‭‭Job‬ ‭36:29‬ ‭NLT‬

We also found some creepy crawlers that were entertaining. I will load these up to an app so bug-officianados can tell us what we saw.

This little obervation station was modest, but holds a much more powerful refractor than we have at home. Of course, the roof opens and then you can see out. Otherwise, the astronomers set their own scopes out on gravel pads outside.

I love these weekend adventures because it gets Dad involved and able to participate in what we are learning. 

We were able to meet Sal (in the white shirt) who told us how sun spots form, and that they usually occur in tandem with solar flares. From that, and some searching online, learned that there’s what is called a sun spot cycle, because there’s a rhythm that God gave their existence too. How amazing is our Lord!

“If he commands it, the sun won’t rise and the stars won’t shine. He alone has spread out the heavens and marches on the waves of the sea. He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky. He does great things too marvelous to understand. He performs countless miracles.”

‭‭Job‬ ‭9:7-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Even my 2 year old understood he was looking at the sun. How cute!

There is a special filter on these telescopes that allow us to safely see the sun. Otherwise, you’d burn your eye and go blind. We got some safety lessons too, and I appreciate when my children hear safety tips from other adults. You know – because children “tune you out” sometimes – because they hear you all day, especially when you homeschool!

This red image is a picture of what we saw in the lens of the scope with a filter that allowed us to look for solar flares. We didn’t see any solar flares, but we did see some texture on the sun’s corona (outer layer) that was interesting, however, barely observable.

This yellow image was what you see when you’re looking at a lens with a filter that allows you to look for sun spots. No sun spots were visible today.

We drew a sun diagram in the gravel and named the parts of the sun we are learning. We threw rocks into our sun, trying to hit the various spots of interest too. Here you see the sun’s core, radiative zone, convective zone, sun spots (in the photosphere), and corona.

We made up some hand motions to help us learn the sun’s parts too:

  1. We start by making a small ball with our fists. 
  2. Then we blow “helium and hydrogen” in our hands to make our ball “900 times bigger than the Earth”. 
  3. And we then touch each part of the sun, and pretend it burns us, starting with the core (we poke the center of our imaginary sun and shout “Core! Ouch!”
  4. For the radiative zone we move our fingers in and out like we are patting glue or paint into a ball – our imaginary radiative zone is larger than our imaginary core so our hands are about a soccer ball apart from each other. 
  5. For the convective zone we “wave our hands around a ball”, and our hands are about two soccer balls apart from each other.
  6. For the sun spots we “poke the sun in spots further from the center than the convective zone (in the air) in the photosphere to make sun spots”
  7. For a solar flare, we pretend like a “fire cracker is shooting off the side of our imaginary sun in the photosphere”. 
  8. And we move our hands around the “giant circumference of the sun’s corona” in a huge circle mid-air. You get the picture.

Though you can find many more online, here are some cool pages to show you some more about the sun:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and got some ideas you could try with your kids this year!

In closing, I leave you with this:

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun. It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race. The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭19:1-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Tin whistle tips from an old flutist

I refuse to let my son’s tin whistle become disgusting. Enter old flute tricks. Note: I also played bass clarinet and piano. But flutist tips are most relevant here.

  1. Spit cloth & cleaning rod – I highly doubt you want to purchase an actual cleaning rod and fancy spit cloth. Cut an old rag into a thin strip, about an inch thick. Tape 3 wooden skewers together and cut off their pointy ends with some fine kitchen shears – you know, the ones you use to cut through meat and bones. Wrap the end of the taped skewers with about an inch of fabric, like the amount you see here in the picture (below) and jam it all the way into the tin whistle from the base to the tip. Give it a good Harvard swish or two. Let the cloth air dry inbetween playing. Throw the cloth into the washer when it’s funky. If you’re really special you might sew the edge of your cloth. But “I ain’t got no time fo’ that.” Plus, the thicker the edges, the harder it is to jam. And “I ain’t about no struggle”.
  2. Don’t play after eating sugar. Nor with dirty fingers. Duh. Brush your teeth if you must have sugar first. That rule goes for your kids too.
  3. Unless your kid is becoming a woodwind player tape over the bottom half of the holes so it’s easier to get a “real note” out of these little instruments (for younger children).
  4. Slightly curved fingers play better notes than stiff fingers.
  5. Don’t push your lips over the fipple. Back off. You’re smothering her. *that sounds wrong. I’m feeling fiesty tonight.*
  6. Just a little wind is plenty. Less is more. Tell your kids that “less air is more”. This is true in so many other situations too. Ha!
  7. To separate notes, barely tap the mouthpiece with your tongue. There, that’ll do.
  8. Breathe through your diaphragm. Vibrato happens from your diaphragm too. Vibrato will make the notes sound less threatening and more in tune. Start slow and stay slow until you develop control over your diaphragm. *Intonation is probably way too much to ask of a tin whistle. But if you progress your kids through each of these steps above you’ll all thank each other later.*
  9. For the love of all musicians, please say the correct names for the notes. When they have this sharp (#) next to them, say (note name) sharp. Because in B scale, F# and C# are sharp. And this really means something to musicians and musicians-in-training. Otherwise your child will excel in creating dissonance when he or she tries to transfer his or her note-reading skills elsewhere, or play with other musicians. Translation: a sharp (#) is an entire half step above a regular note. On a piano, it’s the “black key” right above the “white key”.
  10. Control and accuracy are far better than speed. Build muscle memory first, then work on speeding up the tempo to a normal pace. 
  11. Work on memorizing music a phrase at a time (ex: try playing “hot cross buns”. Master this phrase once before playing it twice in a row. Get the phrasing correct, holding the third note for two beats. Then work on playing it twice in a row: “Hot cross buns. Hot cross buns.” Get the phrasing right. Then work on “one a penny, two a penny”. Get the phrasing right. Put those together: “Hot cross buns. Hot cross buns. One a penny, two a penny.” Lastly, add the ending to the song: “Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.” 
  12. It takes a long time to build breath control. Teach your child to take short efficient breaths between phrases where they naturally fall. They will not get dizzy and faint if they are light in their air flow and taking shorter efficient breaths into their diaphragms instead of deep belly-filling breaths. I hope that description made sense.

Okay, that’ll do. Happy playing! I hope these tips keep you and your little musicians a little happier!

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.

Tracking Daily Achievements in Homeschool Life

It’s one thing to plan. It’s a very different animal to execute. I use this simple form to keep track of what we actually accomplish each day. Feel free to use it in your home too!

Here it is: cc-homeschool-docket-for-binding-generic