Squirrels, Biomes, Clauses and Consumers

One of the most common questions I get regarding Classical Conversations is “You are just filling their head with rote memorization. They don’t  understand half of it. What good is that? All that stuff doesn’t even mean anything to them.”. While it is quite true that many of the facts we memorize mean virtually nothing to my children (what 5-year-old cares about Newton’s Laws of Motion?), there is a purpose and a path in our style of schooling that begins at the beginning. With young children who, like sponges, absorb every ounce of data around them. We all learn from infancy by rote memorization. How to speak by repeating the basic words our parents babble to us. The alphabet, the Pledge of Allegiance, The Lord’s Prayer. Kids can sing every song in their favorite movie. Recite entire books that are frequent bedtime stories. All these things are retained and recalled because of rote memorization. I’d like to share a little from Leigh Bortins book “The Core“, and then a story of my own to demonstrate these principles in action. Continue reading

SNAKE Math Game

Last week, I had the opportunity to observe an Essentials class at my CC Community. Even if the next level of classical education is a few years away for your family, I’d highly encourage anyone with a Foundations child to take a looksie at an Essentials class. It broadened my view of this whole classical journey, and renewed my excitement for the process. Seeing English and Math memory work come to life in real application was a great motivator to keep plugging along with all those songs about gerunds and verb conjugations. Bonus, I saw math games in action that I immediately stole, and have been using at home ever since. Including this fun game, called SNAKE.


You can play this as a multiplication or addition game. We learn skip counting in our Classical Conversations memory work, so my 6-year-old can rattle off multiplication as fast (maybe even faster) than his addition facts. We play both multiplication and addition to reinforce both as a good math foundation. Continue reading

Bending A Straw With Light

One of our very first experiments was exploring one of the characteristics of light. Our Classical Conversations science memory work this week was “What are three characteristics of light?”. One of the terms we covered was refraction. Which is exactly what this super easy experiment demonstrates — you probably have all the necessary items in your house already.

You only need:
A straw (or pencil)
A clear glass
Full printable instructions and simple refraction explanation: Bending a Straw With Light
or here: Pencil Refraction Continue reading

Water Filtration Experiment

Ahh The Water Cycle. Always a fun time to do a little hands on science. We decided to talk about filtration and how dirty water ends up clean. Another easy experiment that you probably have all the supplies for. At least, if you drink coffee. Which, I do now. I know. I’m really maturing nicely.

First we needed some dirty water. So we dumped some dirt from the yard into a flower vase filled 2/3 with water. Red solo cup! We’re ready to party!Water Pollution Experiment02

Continue reading

Monet Style Garden Paintings

During our six weeks of great artists this year, we studied impressionism and specifically talked about Monet. I found a fantastic tutorial on Mr. Picasso’s Art Room and used it to create masterpieces and memories.

Monet Style Garden Paintings

First let me tell you that I am NOT an artsy person. I’ve told the story before of how I went into Michael’s and purchased $100s of dollars of canvases, paints, and paintbrushes thinking I would be the next Michelangelo with all those supplies. Ha! Let’s just say all that crap my art supplies have never been used. Until now. Mr. Picasso must be some kind of genius in the way “he” structures things, because even I figured out how to create art using his tutorial. Here are our finished products. We had a jolly good time and really experienced impressionism. Continue reading

Geo Puzzles -The Greatest Puzzles Ever

I don’t know about you, but I have a mixed bag of emotions when I think about puzzles. My Grandpa was a stickler about them. You had to look at the piece and just know whether it fit or not. There was no “trying to see if it fit”. He was like the Yoda of puzzles.

But I also have some beautiful memories of puzzles. I’ve searched for years for a duplicate of a puzzle we put together as a family at Christmastime each year. It had pieces shaped like snowmen and ice skaters with hidden shapes. It was awesome. No luck on finding it though. Woe to me.

I wanted to share a set of puzzles that’s even more amazing (at least to a geography nerd like me) than my favorite hidden shape puzzle from childhood. I discovered these recently and they are just fantastic. Geo Puzzles.

They are made by a company called Geo Toys. The puzzles are just one example of their great learning toys. I ordered the 6 Puzzle Set
which includes The World, Europe, Asia, Africa, USA/Canada, and Latin America (South America and Central America). The pieces are shaped like countries, lakes, states etc. and fit together as a map would. You can see here the size of the pieces. The United States pieces are smaller than these because they’re scaled with Canada and Alaska. Which, really is huge by-the-way. The completed puzzles are around 19×16 inches.

Geo Puzzles - The Most Amazing Puzzles EVER!

They came in individual bags and had empty ziploc style bags to put them in after opening the shipping bags. Sweet! My daughter immediately began assembling the Europe puzzle, which was the main focus of our geography for Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations this year. It was amazing how many countries she was able to accurately place without the help of the printed map that comes with the puzzles. You can see below everything my set came with — the printed maps are two-sided, the packing bag is on the far right and the bags that come with to store them in are on the far left.

Geo Puzzles - The Most Amazing Puzzles EVER!

My kids moved right on to the United States and Canada once they’d completed the Europe puzzle. And then asked if we could do a couple more tomorrow. Success! If you are a puzzle family, studying geography, or would just like to learn while you play, I highly recommend these! You can purchase them individually too. I just know that our Classical Conversations curriculum is going to cover the whole world, so I figured it made sense to just get them all in one box. The individual puzzles are about $16 each.

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