Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ready for Essentials? Here's Some Help!

Guess what? Julie's back! I know y'all love her posts, because she shares in such a gracious, honest way.  Now you know just one of the reasons we're friends.  Anyhoo, today, Julie is back to share her experience with Essentials.  She's been an Essentials parent for three years and an Essentials tutor for one year.  So you're getting the scoop from both sides of the desk, if you will.  Enjoy and please feel free to ask any questions in the comments! Julie will check in periodically to answer them. 

I genuinely love the Essentials class! The Essentials class and presentations in Foundations were my very favorite things after our first year of CC. Presentations, because we were training up children with the hopes of them being able to eloquently, intelligently and passionately share the gospel with a lost and dying world and Essentials because I saw my then 4th grade daughter doing things I didn’t do until high school or college or never learned at all! I was an Essentials parent for three years and last year was my first year to tutor it. I’m still learning things!

First, be patient! It is meant to take three years to ‘master’ the information. The first three weeks are similar to putting your mouth around a fire hydrant with someone turning it on full blast! Leigh Bortins describes it as if we are starting by showing you a massive puzzle and talking about the entire picture on the puzzle. Then we take it apart and slowly put it together piece by piece. Many times I saw the deer in the headlights look from my first year moms. I would gently remind them it pays off. Jump in with both feet and the three year journey will be wonderful for the mom and the student!

Read pages 3-23 in the EEL guide (Essentials of the English Language). Leigh has written beautifully about this program and I would not begin to do it the same justice. This reading will give you a wonderful foundation to begin the year. I would even encourage second and third year moms to reread it. It’s a wonderful refresher and it’s the classical way to learn, right? 

Your tutor will go over specifics about what your day should look like and how to organize your time. There are many resources for that included in the EEL guide, as well as in the IEW guide. All of this is helpful and useful and a blessing, but I just want to offer a gentle reminder. As with everything in CC, you (and I) are the parent. Know your child. Know their strengths and weaknesses. If they loathe or struggle with writing, have them dictate their EEL charts or IEW (Institute of Excellence in Writing) paper to you at the beginning of the year or for as long as it takes. Use a timer and set it for 15 minutes and copy until the timer goes off and then stop. You can pick up right where you left off the day before and continue for another 15 minutes. Help them write their KWO (Key Word Outline). Walk alongside them and encourage them. They WILL get to a point of doing many of these things independently.

In the EEL guide on p. 23, it talks about scaling the work to accommodate your student’s abilities. Leigh gives a great example using the game of Monopoly. Take time to read this, especially if you will have more than one student in the class. Having said this, also know we begin the dialectic stage in Essentials. Stretching your student will be part of their learning and growing process. You will be amazed at what they accomplish. Where they will not master everything, don’t limit them in what they are capable of. Last year I had several moms of 4th grade boys who were on the fence of even putting them in the Essentials class for their 4th grade year. I can excitedly say those boys soared!! They blew me away each week and their confidence grew week to week. So exciting to watch!

Remember that class is primarily for the parents. I found it worked well for the mom to sit directly next to their student(s) each week and follow along. The tutor only has the students for about forty-five minutes for EEL and forty-five minutes for IEW. You have them all day every day the rest of the week. Where the tutor introduces the material, you go more in depth at home. Sometimes I even had the moms come to the board and do an exercise. No pressure!

It wouldn’t surprise me if you learned brand new information through EEL, but the IEW was a breath of fresh air! I so wish I had had a program like this in high school.  As Andrew Pudewa says it can work for everyone from the young boy who would rather stab himself in his eye with his pencil to the young girl who can creatively and effortlessly write five pages without every really saying anything. The skills they learn are invaluable. They learn how to write key word outlines from multiple sources and then fuse them together. Then write a five paragraph paper using all the dress ups and sentence openers that almost make it seem like a puzzle where you just put the pieces in. To me, it takes away the fear of a blank piece of paper sitting in front of them because it gives formulas.

Your tutor may host a “Popcorn and Pudewa” night during the school year. During this time you will watch the DVDs from the TWSS (Teaching Writing Structure and Style) which will be of great benefit! I encourage you to make every effort to attend whether you are a first, second or third year mom. I promise, you’ll learn something new. 

My encouragement is to trust the process and tell your student you will walk this journey with them. For me, this was definitely part of reclaiming my education and I’ve loved it! It has helped in my walk with Jesus as well. As I am reading passages I’ve read many times before, I’m noticing the structure and purpose and pattern of the sentence. I notice the imperative sentences Jesus gives. They are not suggestions, but commands and promises. Do not fear. Do not worry. Be patient in affliction. I notice the power of the short sentence of, “I am.” Yes!!! He is!! As you pray over your year and your student, ask the Lord to reveal Himself through the Living Word as you both study the grammar of the English language.

This post doesn’t begin to touch on many important details of this class, but I trust your tutor will meet with you prior to class beginning. Some of the things you will learn as you go and you will find what works best for your student. Be patient. Be committed. Be faithful.

Looking for more about information about Essentials? Check out this link to FAQ's on CC's website, including the list of recommended supplies for your Essentials year and this file from the Guest portion of CC Connected for using the EEL guide.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Help! I am a homeschool dad. What do I do?

Everyone, please welcome Seth to the blog today! Seth is a CC dad of 4 and also a self-proclaimed math and science geek.  He enjoys being outside hiking, playing disc golf, and generally enjoying God's creation.  He and his wife blog together at

"Homeschooling seems like a lot of work, but I will be off at my job all day while my wife teaches the kids, so it doesn't impact me really.  Right?" Wrong.

There is a lot we can and should do as homeschool dads, but many men don't know where to start. In this post, I will share some ideas of ways that you can get involved in your child's homeschooling.  If you are already involved, I hope to encourage you and maybe give you a few more ideas.  If you are not yet involved in the homeschooling process, start small (wives, let your men start small)! I certainly don't have all the answers, but through my wife's hard work and my efforts to plug into homeschooling, our kids have developed a love of learning.

Listen to audio books in the car.  This is an easy one, but it does mean that you have to be willing to pass on listening to your own music.  Becki wanted the kids to listen to Little House on the Prairie on one of our long car trips.  I had absolutely zero interest in hearing the story myself, but I agreed.  To my great amazement, I really enjoyed it.  Over the course of our next few trips, we listened to many of the other books in the series. We are able to get audio books from our local library.  Check yours out (or suggest it to your wife).

Play board games with your kids.  If you have young kids that need to practice simple math, board games can be a great, "real world" way for your kids to practice.  Games that are meant to teach, like Sum Swamp, are great, but practically every game gives kids a chance to practice simple addition or subtraction. Make sure you let your kids do the math, or help them do the math.  Do not figure out the math for them.

Read books to your kids.  I do not read books to the kids very often, but I have enjoyed reading to them on vacation.  We camped in Coopers Rock State Forest one summer, and I read The Lion,the Witch, and the Wardrobe to them.  Sometimes we would stop in the middle of a hike, sit on a rock or a log, and read a few chapters.  Mostly I read to them in the tent before bed.  The most memorable time was when there was a giant thunderstorm as we were in our tent at night.  The whole tent was shaking in the wind, and the rain and thunder were so loud that I was shouting as I read the book.  It took a possibly scary thunderstorm and turned it into a special memory.

Help your wife - this might be an indirect way to help with homeschooling.  A sane wife makes a better teacher. If you walk into a messy house, realize that your wife probably had a long, difficult day of homeschooling.  So instead of complaining, pitch in and clean up a little.

Take the kids and give your wife some alone time.  One winter, we had Garage Hour once a week.  I would take the 4 kids out to the garage and we would exercise, toss balloons around, or make up little games.  The biggest rule was that no one could go into the house.   It gave Becki some much needed time to plan, clean, or just relax. You could create your own garage hour, take the kids out to eat, go for a walk in the park, or whatever you like.  Don't torture yourself - pick something you actually enjoy!

Play to your strength.  I like science, so I do a lot of science experiments with the kids.  Sometimes we use things we have around the house (like a bicycle wheel to demonstrate gyroscopics).  Other times I order supplies for experiments that I want to do with the kids. You don't need to do science experiments.  Focus on what you like.  If you enjoy good literature, start reading some good books to your kids.  If you are skilled at construction, have your kids build something with you.   By working with your kids in an area that interests you, the kids will see your passion for learning and be encouraged to learn.

Use the internet.  There are a lot of great videos online that you can view with your children.  We love to watch science videos.  I get excited to learn new things and the kids get excited too.  Anytime the kids see me connecting the laptop to the TV, one of them says, with a voice of anticipation, "I think we are going to watch a science video."  Whether you look at science videos, or some other topic, watch with your children.  Do not turn it on and walk away.  Be there at their side learning with them.  Pause the video and ask them questions, or chime in with other facts that you know on the subject. 

Help with memory work.  Besides the obvious benefit of reinforcing the memory work, you may hear things that your wife didn't.  Last year, when the kids were memorizing the prepositions, one of my children thought that the word "been"  was "bean" and was saying it incorrectly.  My wife never noticed because the kids recited the list so quickly and she knew what they should have bean saying. I like to make memory work silly and fun.  I have set up an obstacle course and had the kids answer questions before they were allowed to run the course.  Other times they had to shoot a plastic cup with a Nerf gun and then answer the question for the subject that they shot.

Go to CC.  Take a day off of work and spend the day at your Classical Conversations community.  Watch your kids present, learn new grammar, play review games Sometimes I have a day off of work for a holiday, but our CC campus still meets.  These are great days for me to go, or take one vacation day once a year.  Your wife and kids will appreciate that you make time to be involved.

Most of all - Just do something!  Show an interest in your child's education.   Your wife will appreciate it and your child will understand that you value education.

Guys, I love Seth's totally doable ideas! My favorite suggestion -- "Don't torture yourself - pick something you actually enjoy!" Great stuff, Seth.  If you're interested in many more great ideas, be sure to follow Becki's & Seth's blog, Running with Team Hogan.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How We Do CC at Home

When I started this blog, I didn't realize how many families were considering and searching out information about doing Classical Conversations at home. And guess what? I didn't even think of the name of this blog.  A friend suggested I start a blog at a time when I had seriously been considering it and praying about it for a while.  She suggested the name and even checked if it was available for me.  What a great friend, right? It was just the nudge I needed!

Anyway, I've found the name has led to some confusion over how our family uses Classical Conversations.  Allow me to explain! Our family engages CC in two ways: 1) We are part of a local CC community and 2) we bring our CC memory work home throughout the week in a few ways and follow the classical model to do so.  I'll go into more specifics.

1. Our local community meets every week for 24 weeks on Mondays.  Our community started 3 years ago and we're grateful to have been there from the start.  My two oldest boys were 5 and 4 years old.  They're both approaching their 4th year in CC, therefore their second time approaching each cycle.  If I had known how each of them would respond, I still would've put my oldest in from age 5.  He's very social and thrives being in a classroom environment with his friends.  But, I would've kept my 4 year old out of the classroom for another year.  He does not love the classroom environment, despite doing well there.  He would've much rather spent his time at home or sitting on my lap.  Since we began, CC has updated their policy so that four year olds are able to stay out of the classroom, but on campus, as long as their birthday is after June 1st of the coming year.  This would've applied to him and I would've been wise to take advantage of it, although I'm not sure I would've without the experience of first having him in.  On the other hand, my third boy was watching his brothers and itching to be in a classroom from age 3. So, it really depends so much! 

We LOVE our community! We've been blessed to homeschool with friends we've had for years (since before we were married!) and we've made so many great new friends along the way.  We're walking this journey with like-minded families and also meeting families who stretch our thinking and teach us new things. I could not be more grateful for how God has provided this group for our family.

2. Throughout the week, we "bring CC home" through four main ways:

-- Practice the memory work through review games, simple recitation, or listening to the CC music.  

-- When time allows and interest peaks, we read more on any subject.  We mainly achieve this through two ways: having good, child-friendly reference books around and having a list of good books ready for additional reading to either borrow or buy.  

-- Map blob weekly (or more frequently) for geography.  Some of mine are in the tracing stage of map blobbing and some can do a decent free hand blobbing of the continents, lines, and oceans.  We're moving through the stages, because our ultimate goal is to freehand draw the world from memory.  We have many years ahead of us, so diligence and patience is key.

-- Complete copywork in our classical notebooks and prescripts books.  Using simple worksheets, lined pages or journal and art pages, my guys will practice copying our memory work.  Besides reviewing our memory work, this is a simple way to teach them to concentrate their attention and produce quality workmanship.

I say all this to explain how we do things, but I also welcome those families who choose to do CC exclusively at home.  I know joining a community is not an option for all families for a variety of reasons. I hope you can find community here and are able to find resources you can use at home.  Consistency is key. So once you start, stick with it to see results!

Any questions? Want more details? I'd love to continue the conversation.

Here are some other posts you might consider helpful:
Considering Classical Conversations? Start Here!
A Beginning Glossary of Terms for Classical Education
7 Ways A Classical Education Works With A Christian Worldview
and this series of posts, entitled At Home With the Classical Method

Monday, July 7, 2014

Create A Lifestyle of Learning With Books

Friends, please welcome my friend and fellow CC mom, Becki Hogan, back to the blog today.  Becki is an avid reader and enthusiastic learner.  In their home, Becki and her husband Seth have created a lifestyle of learning that I find infectious! Want to know more? Start here with how they use books in promotion of that lifestyle.

We love books in our family! More often than not, someone is curled up with a book in our home. This didn’t just happen by accident. When my husband and I decided to homeschool, we wanted to establish a lifestyle of learning to help our children become lifelong learners. Books are a very important part of this! These are steps we’ve taken to achieve this.

Keep books in our home. This might seem simple enough, but when you have a small home or a tiny budget, you have to make a conscious choice to use the space and money for books. We buy sets of quality books when we know we’ll use them for years to come. I scour used bookstores or curriculum sales for titles I know we want. We also have two crates full of library books in our living room at all times. How do I decide between buying a book or getting it at the library? This is usually decided by how many times I think the kids will read it and whether or not it is easily accessible through the library.

Read to our children. I love reading longer books aloud to my kids, but this tended to be the thing that would get cut from our school day when we got too busy. Since I love it, I moved it off of my “school day” list and onto my personal goals list. This year’s goal is to read the children 12 read aloud books in the year. Before January 1, I went through our bookshelves and made a physical pile of 12 books. I decided that I would let myself exchange a book from the pile for another I wanted to read, and this system has worked well for us. We’ve completed 8 read-alouds so far this year. What do I read out loud to the kids? Biographies, historical fiction, books from Sonlight’s reading lists, or books I find somewhere else. I do not read them ahead of time even though I’ll research to select them. If I have read the book recently, I find that I get bored reading it out loud or am not nearly as excited to finish the book.

Talk with my readers. I often ask my children questions about what they are reading. It might be as simple as “What’s that book about?” or “What do you think of the main character?” or “Where does that book take place?” I haven’t read every book that the kids read, but I try to make sure books don’t come into the house that I don’t want them to read. We don’t just randomly select fiction books at the library and read them. I read reviews, check other people’s booklists, and research to make sure a series is something we want our children to read. 

Seek the spark! I actively search for books that interest my children to help encourage them to learn. In my search, I found wonderful series of history and science books through our library and discovered that that my son enjoys non-fiction just as much or more than fiction. 

My kids know they can ask me to find them a book on a topic. For instance, my son wanted to learn more about Tesla. In less than 5 minutes, I had found a great picture book about him on Amazon, checked our library’s website, and put the book on hold. The excitement when we picked up that book on the library was well worth my 5 minutes of research. We use holds at our library so much that we have 4 cards to allow for up to 40 holds. On our blog, I share book lists, library finds, and other great books, if you want a place to start.

Pick non-fiction books that are at or below my children’s reading level. I have been doing this for years, but couldn’t have quantified what I was doing until I read Leigh Bortins’ recommendation for doing this in The Core. I realized that was just what I was doing. Yes, the non-fiction books might have vocabulary terms the kids have not heard, but in general I pick books that they don’t have to struggle to read. The point is that I want them reading to learn, not practicing learning to read.

Don’t be too busy! This is huge for us. When I pack the school day with extra projects, worksheets, or activities, my children don’t get time to read. The learning from books is far more valuable. So, I try to pare down everything else in place of reading. For their “official” school work, we study the Bible, memory work, math, reading, spelling, copywork, and (for my oldest) Essentials. We’ll illustrate the occasional history sentence or trace maps while listening to music, but I don’t have tons of activities and extras added to our life. Instead, we add in books. My kids are required to read at least 30 minutes of non-fiction learning each school day, but often they will continue to read after the time is up as well as read during free time, in the van, just before bed, or any time they can’t think of something else to do. We don’t turn on the tv or wii or have evenings packed with activities for this reason.

Read lots of books myself. I read to learn just as much as my children and model for them how to use books to learn. I will tell my children an interesting fact I read or share with them some educational technique I just learned. The kids know that I value books since they see it. When I have a spare minute, I pick up a book. My children have followed suit.

In my most recent reading of The Core, I was really struck by a quote in Chapter 3. Leigh Bortins says, “Even though the academics in this book emphasize grammatical skills, I am going to assume that your children of all ages will read (or be read) good books, have good discussions, and go to interesting places.”  In whatever else we are doing to pursue a classical education, good books should be a huge part of the equation.

Want to see more about how they create this lifestyle of learning at home? Check out where Becki and her husband Seth blog about running the race God has set before them.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Don't Work Too Hard at Intentional Integration

Book lists, lesson plans, and projects are all great to have on file ready for when you or your littles want to dive into a specific topic you've been learning about through the memory work.  But, one of the great things about classical education, is that you don't have to spend time intentionally creating or drafting plans around a subject.  Through the very approach and nature of the teaching, your children will integrate the information they're learning. Not sure you believe that yet? Here are some GREAT examples shared by other CC mamas of moments when they've witnessed their littles have a "lightbulb moment" without any intentional integration on their part. The first one I share is from my campus director, who was a bit skeptical at first and decided to test out the classical education method on her children before totally buying into the methodology.  

 - One day at lunch I told the kids that we were going to surprise daddy.  We were going to memorize all 44 presidents of the United States.  I quickly put it to the tune of Jingle Bells, and everyday for a week, we would practice.  The kids had fun with it, and by the end of the week, even Jackson (2) could recite them all.  Fast forward a few months….We were sitting in the living room, reading a read aloud biography on the life of Helen Keller.  Kaya was 6; Joe was 4.  I was convinced Joseph was not at all paying attention.  He was laying upside down on the sofa, feet in the air, and squirming all over.  Suddenly though, he sat straight up and looked at me with big eyes.  I asked him what he had heard.  It was the name Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He had recognized the name, and all of a sudden, my disinterested little boy was curious as to what was so special about Helen Keller that she would get to meet the president of the US.  The simple mention of his name began a dialogue that would have been otherwise missed. 

- Watching World Cup soccer together and my littles recognizing the countries the teams are representing and their place on a map.  Or they rush to find them on a map, because now they know how to read a map.

- As I told my children we were starting a new book on missionary Gladys Alward, they glanced at the shape of the country on the book cover and asked, "Was she a missionary to China?" She was! They recognized the shape of China from our earlier study of China in our CC geography memory work.

- When Newton's Third Law of Motion was mentioned on the National Geographic show, "Strip the City," my girls were able to recite it completely before the narrator. 

- While reading through Robin Hood, we realized that "Richard" who was away fighting the crusades was "Richard the Lion Hearted!" It made the whole book of Robin Hood make more sense and really come to life for us!

- We were riding bikes in a park and rode by a World War II memorial.  After looking at the names, the boys said, "So all these people died when they fought against the Axis countries?"  I smiled and asked them to remind me who the axis leaders were and instantly the boys broke out into our CC week 17 song.  

- At the zoo, I remember the kids seeing the Latin noun declensions on the animal name signs (that included the Latin).  Specifically when we were looking at the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), besides the noun ending, the kids loved that "Mississippi" was in the Latin name instead of America.  We talked about where Mississippi was on a map and why that might have been in the name (since there are alligators there?).

- At one of my children's well visit at the doctor, I remember us talking about the visit ahead of time to calm fears.  We talked about how the doctor wants to make sure all the "systems" were working.  I remember my young child running through all the systems memory work for Cycle 3 while we were in the exam room waiting for the doctor.

- We went to Fort Necessity last summer.  As we walked through the displays, words jumped out at the kids, "The Seven Years War", "the French and Indian War". The places on the maps meant something to them.  Names like George Washington jumped out at them (he was at For Necessity before the Revolutionary War).

- Reading books like any of the "You wouldn't want to be..." books or "Ten Wicked Rulers" often leads to connections in our home.  In one of those books, my son had already read about Wellington.  When we memorized a history sentence about him, my son talked for 10 minutes about Wellington and how he invented Wellington Boots.

Those of you experienced in the classical model surely have your own stories to tell.  In our home, we call them BOOM moments.  If you're just starting out, look for these boom moments. They are there and you will love them! So will your littles!

Want to share one of your boom moments? Feel free to comment below! I'm sure we'd all welcome the encouragement.  And remember, relax and allow the model to work.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Song School Latin Review & Giveaway

UPDATE: Congrats to winner, Melinda Walters! Thanks to everyone for entering! 

I had a hard time learning foreign languages as a young student. However, I'm excited to learn Latin alongside my littles!  Following the classical way, we're learning Latin, because it is a root language. This should make learning additional languages later, like Spanish or French, easier for all of us. Plus it will increase our understanding of the English language.  

Since I am not historically good at learning languages myself, I started looking for a curriculum that would teach my littles and teach me in two ways: 1) teach me Latin and 2) teach me to teach Latin. Maybe you're looking for the same thing? Let me tell you what I've found!

Once I started looking, Song School Latin drew my attention quickly. I had heard it praised among friends and CC is now recommending it in their catalogue.  Classical Academic Press sent me the full program with all four elements for Book One to use with my littles. We've been trying them out over the beginning of our summer and I'm excited to tell you more about them! 

Here's the list of materials we've been using:

1. Teacher's Edition: Contains copies of each page in the student guide, as well as 35 pages of bonus activities and answers for each activity.

2. Student Guide31 lessons divided into chapters with every 4th or 5th lesson being review of the previous lessons. Each chapter has 4-6 activities (like Practice Your Lesson, Grow Your English, Chapter Story, and Show What You Know) for the lesson, which could easily be divided into daily review activities. In the appendices, there's a chapter-by-chapter glossary, an alphabetical glossary, and an end of year crossword.  

3. DVD SetEach new lesson in the guide has an accompanying teacher led lesson on the DVD.  There is a female and a male teacher. The first teacher introduces the new words for the day in a conversational manner.  The second teacher instructs on derivatives.  There's also a fun animated story featuring Simeon the Monkey which uses the new vocabulary words and is continued from lesson to lesson.  A second animated feature, the derivative river, is also part of each DVD lesson.  It's a fun visual that demonstrates how the Latin word is the root of other words found in English, Spanish, and French.  

4. Latin Monkey Match flashcard game: There are four decks included - red (ch 1-7), green (ch 8-15), blue (ch16-22), and orange (ch 24-30), as well as directions for playing Memory, Go Fish!, and Banana Peel. You can add in more decks as you cover the chapters.  They can also be used as traditional flashcards to review the vocabulary.

5. Music CD (included in student guide): There are 60 tracks, divided into two portions; 30 for classical and 30 for ecclesiastical.  Those two pronunciations are offered, so you can choose which you'd like to learn.  The student guide explains the differences between the two.

Two days a week we've been watching a lesson on the DVD set. We've done the student guide activities mostly aloud as a group. In the future, I plan to have my two older guys (age 8 and 6) complete these independently with pencil and paper.  While my two younger littles, when interested, can complete these free coloring pages.  Classical Academia Press offers these free on their site with one page for each vocabulary word in book 1 (and book 2). Isn't that a great option for the younger student? I think my oldest guy, who loves to color and draw, might choose to color these some of the time too.

As we add Song School Latin into our normal school day routine in the fall, my plan is for us to watch the DVD lesson one day a week, use another day to review the vocabulary as a group by listening to the music CD,  and two days to complete the lesson activities.  Each day will only be about 15 minutes worth of study, so totally doable for my young ones' attention spans.  While I've already seen my oldest really enjoying the lessons and picking it all up so quickly, I know even my youngest will glean some new knowledge here and there. They love telling people the words as they learn them. They've added the vocabulary words into their regular conversations with each other and me, which really is the best practice for all of us! They're having fun with it and looking forward to each lesson.

Here are my favorite things about Song School Latin:

1. There is a DVD available to accompany the lesson. As I said, I need someone to teach me how to teach Latin, so I find this immensely helpful.  Also, as we're about to add a newborn into our family mix, I think the 15 minute break of someone else teaching and them sitting to listen will be very helpful to me in making our school day work.

It's worth mentioning the DVD offers more information then the teacher guide or student book alone.

2. It's attainable. While teaching Latin is intimidating to me, Song School Latin is not.  The lessons are fun and simple and executable.

3. I appreciate that both ecclesiastical and classical pronunciations are provided, so you can choose which track you want to follow. (See what CC's take is here.)

4. It's working! They're learning Latin and already making connections to English.  How exciting to see them learn so quickly! A quick story: We learned in the first lesson that in the Latin alphabet, there is no letter w.  When visiting a local craft store, we saw a line of chipboard letters.  Since our last name is Watson, I strolled down the line to look for the letter w.  It was the only empty spot and I said, "There's no w." to which my oldest said, "Just like in Latin." HA! It caught me off guard, but I thought it was so cool to see his mind making the connections already.

Are you planning to teach your littles Latin? When do you think you'll start and does this sound like a program you'd enjoy? After a friend's encouragement to start with a little more Latin before the Challenge years, we decided to go for it.  I think we've found just the right fit for our family.

If you're interested, there are a few things you can do.  

*You can order your own set for your family with this discount code, CCAH20, worth 20% off your order of all Classical Academic Press products except the live, online courses and Singapore Math.  Good through July 6th*

 *You can also enter below to win your own set of Book 1 materials, courtesy of Classical Academic Press. Giveaway ends July 5th.  Happy entering!*

Need more convincing to learn Latin? Check out 5 Great Reasons to Study Latin

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Simple Formula & Printable for Foundation Presentations

Admittedly presentation prep is the oft forgotten task of our homeschool week.  This past year it too frequently came down to Sunday afternoon, which worked okay, but I was often left thinking we could've done more or they would've been more prepared if we started earlier in the week prior.  (Our campus meets on Monday.)  There may have even been a week or two where I told them to pick a favorite book or toy for presentations on our way out the door Monday morning.  I'm not telling and my own campus won't rat me out, right?? :)

Well, at the end of this school year, I came up with a simple formula which worked well for my littles and for me.  My littles are 8, 6, 5, and 3 years old.  Obviously the 3 year old is not in a class, but she often likes to prepare a presentation anyway. (Do your littlest ones like to do that too?) This can work for all of them and I think it will be our solution for next year.  

My goal for their presentation each week is for them to have an opening, closing, and 3-4 points in between.  I helped them visualize this by folding a paper in fours or using four notecards.  But now I've created this simple printable I can include in their classical notebooks for even easier preparation. You can download or print it here.

Here's how we'll use it: 

My 5 year old will draw pictures in each box that remind him of his points.  I'll write a simple one or two word explanation of his points underneath, so he can start to link the word with the image.  

My 6 year old will also draw pictures and write his own one or two word explanations underneath as reminders while he is presenting.

My 8 year old can draw pictures, if he'd like (he usually does), and will write simple sentence points under each image.  This is not so that he can read his presentation, but so it's there for him if he needs to be reminded.

I expect this form will help them organize their thoughts and practice committing their presentations to memory throughout the week.  Eventually, I think it will even help them prepare for presentations entirely on their own.  I'm excited for how this will help our family simplify and I hope it will work for your family too!

Any tricks for presentation prep that worked especially well for your family? Do share!