Tag Archives: Classical Conversations

Olympics, World War II, and Classical Conversations

7 Feb

I just finished watching the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics. For my CC readers, I realized how much I learned our first 16 weeks. As Olympians from countries like Estonia and Latvia entered the arena, I smiled knowing that two months ago I would not have been able to locate these countries on a map. Also, I almost embarrassed myself as I screamed at our television when they showed the map of Greece, which was the first country to enter the Olympic Arena. “It’s the Balkan Peninsula! Look, boys! It’s the Balkan Peninsula. See it?!?!” (Yeah, I kinda love and freak out about maps and all-things-geography.)

As we gear up to look at World War II in Classical Conversations over the next couple of weeks, I wanted to highlight a couple of  Olympic/WWII tie ins since the Winter Games will be running parallel with our WWII studies.

I am a HUGE fan of missionary/Christian hero biographies (particularly this series, Christian Heroes: Then and Now), and I love reading them with my boys. We read about Eric Liddell two  years ago when we were gearing up for the Summer Olympics. Eric Liddell is well-known and remembered for refusing to run on Sunday for the 100m race in the 1924 Olympics. I knew that tidbit of information about him prior to reading the book. However, I learned that he became a missionary to China after his Olympic running shoes were retired. His life was directly impacted by the events of World War II while in China due to Japan’s actions on the Eastern front. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I am going to omit the details. Please, go read it.) :)

One of my favorite books in high school was The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. If you don’t know the story, STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING RIGHT NOW and read this book! It’s a memorable, captivating story of courage and God’s protection. The first time I read it–I literally read it in 3 days; I could not put it down. It’s the story of Corrie’s family who lived in Holland and helped Jewish families escaping from Hitler’s Nazi Germany.  There is a Corrie Ten Boom version in the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series that I mentioned above. Again, I am not going to go into elaborate detail of the events of Corrie Ten Boom’s life because I want you to read it!

Also, if you’ve not heard of the Imagination Station series, which is by the Focus on the Family and similar in concept to the Magic Tree House series, there is a book focused on Corrie Ten Boom, called Escape to the Hiding Place. Can you tell I love the story of Corrie Ten Boom?!?! So many different books that you can read about her! Any of them would be an excellent way to gently introduce World War II and the Holocaust to children.


This movie is another Olympic-themed resource. It has NOTHING to do with World War II but rather the Cold War. (You could tie this in with the respective Timeline Card, CC readers.) I watched this movie several years and did not previously know the story of the 1980 Winter Olympic gold medal hockey game which pitted the USSR against the United States. It gave me insight into the Cold War and the intense animosity between the two countries during that period of history. I’m sure the Hollywood glitz on the film is generous, yet the events actually happened. I was awestruck at how one game–USSR vs. USA–personified the political climate and events simultaneously transpiring between the two countries. A nail bitter this one was!

Do you have any great Olympic-themed and/or World War II reads? If so, please share them with us!

CC Tutor Tidbit: The grammar of Physics

19 Jan

If you are a Tutor for Classical Conversations, you are very much aware that these next 6 weeks of science experiments focus on Physics. I took Physics in high school–circa mid-1990s–and I have only a few recollections of the class. I wanted a “refresher” course in order to review and understand the grammar of Physics particularly relating to the science experiments for Weeks 13-18. I stumbled upon these two gems from my library and wanted to pass them along.

The Science of Music (by Melvin Berger)-This book was geared for middle/high school, so I don’t recommend this for class reading. :) However, it was a helpful refresher on sound, sound waves, pitch, frequency, how our ears hear and detect sound (fascinating!!) for this Tutor! :) This book is an excellent book in preparation for our 6 weeks of Orchestra! It goes through the Orchestra sections–percussion, woodwinds, strings, brass–and details the mechanics of how sound is produced by each type of instrument. I will most definitely reference information from the instruments section of this book for Weeks 18-24 of the Orchestra! I loved the unifying of subjects in this book–science and instruments!

Rubber-Band Banjos and a Java Jive Bass (Alex Sabbeth)-The subtitle to this book is aptly named, “Projects & Activities on the Science of Music & Sound.” This most definitely is geared towards elementary learners. There are wonderful, most simplistic definitions and introductions to sound, sound waves, frequency and how sound is taken in by our ears. There is also a section dedicated to instruments–strings, woodwinds, percussion–and how their sounds are made. This book is almost identical to the content covered. Both books are excellent, yet being geared for younger children this one is the simpler of the two to digest and understand (at least it was for this grown up!). It includes multiple activities to make and do with the concepts/ideas covered, and even has “instrument making” as several of the projects!

I know my Physics teacher, Mr. Wilson, would be so proud to know that I’m brushing up on my Physics. :) Happy Physics learning in Weeks 13-18 of CC!

Cycle 2 Math Resources Second Semester

18 Jan

These are some various Math resources that can be used with Classical Conversations or by any family wanting to reinforce some Math concepts at home.

Liquid Equivalent Activity

Liquid Measurement Equivalencies: This activity helps with how many cups are in a pint, pints in a gallon, etc. :) I always have to remind myself of these when I’m cooking! You can download the activity here: Liquid Equivalents Activity . Also, visit this post for a couple of different “Mr. Gallon Man” options. My sons loved making their own “Mr. Gallon” man. We have them hanging in our school room, and it is another great visual to reinforce these liquid equivalents.

Linear Equivalents.blog

Linear Measurement Equivalencies: I made this to use with my Abecedarians in my CC Class. Last year, my sweet little kiddos kept saying, “2.54 = 1 INCHWORM” instead of “1 inch.” Hilarious! You can download the file here: Linear Equivalents

Metric Measurements

Metric Measurement Equivalencies: Don’t you remember converting the metric system when you were in school?!?! I remember that our teacher taught us “Kids Hate Doing Meters, Don’t Confuse Me” as a mnemonic device for remembering the various metric prefixes. See, teachers, keep passing those mnemonic onto your kiddos, they work! I learned that approximately 25 years ago! (Whew, I’m old! HA!) You can download the file here: Metric Measurements

Math Laws

Math Laws: Here’s a quick printable with the 4 Math Laws for Addition and Multiplication. I laminated these for my students. As we recited the laws, they traced over the letters and numbers using a dry erase marker. One of the perks of laminating documents is that they can be used again and again with a dry erase marker. (I have this laminator and love it immensely.) Download the file here: Math Laws

How Tall, How Short, How Far Away? (David A. Adler)–While you’re studying measurements and equivalencies, check out this gem of a book! It is a vibrantly illustrated book that will be a fun way to see these few weeks of Math Grammar come to life. Go here to read a post I wrote about the book last year.

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

This post is a part of a CC Link up over at Half A Hundred Acre Wood. See more posts here.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Demonstrative & Interrogative Pronouns–FREE printable

20 Oct

Several weeks ago, I posted my Pronoun Packet free download, which covered 6 weeks of pronouns (Weeks 3-8). I primarily made only those 6 weeks of pronouns because I wanted to visualize them in relation to the Pronoun Order.

Demonstrative Pronouns Picture.

I had a reader email today to inquire if I was planning to make worksheets for the remaining weeks of pronouns for Cycle 2. Since I’m a visual learner, I had already thought about the “?” picture for the Interrogative Pronouns. Then, one quick look at the Demonstrative Pronouns, and I immediately visualized a “T” in my mind. However, I think I’m all done with Pronouns for Cycle 2. I haven’t had a visual epiphany for what to do with all of those indefinite pronouns! Whew!  If I do have that visual epiphany, don’t worry, you’ll be the first to find out!

Interrogative Pronoun Picture

You can download the file here: Interrogative & Demonstrative Pronouns. The file includes the worksheets for both the Interrogative and Demonstrative Pronouns (weeks 9-10). Enjoy!

Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

This is a part of the Cycle 2 Weekly Link Up at Half a Hundred Acre Wood. Go there now for other great resources. :)

Magic School Bus DVD and Cycle 2 science–match ups!

19 Oct

I know that many of you bought the The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series when I posted about it in the past. As I was on CC Connected this afternoon prepping for my sweet little Abecedarians, I was excited to stumble upon this “match up” of  Cycle 2 science with The Magic School Bus episodes. YAY!

If you are on CC Connected, you can search by “farrelldawn” and the document title is “Magic Schoolbus episodes correlated with Cycle 2 Science Content.” It is a WORD file that you can easily download. There aren’t match ups for each week, but it does cover several.

Isn’t that fabulous?!?!? Thank you Dawn Ferrell if you are reading!

Also, if you don’t have the Magic School Bus DVD set and want to order it from Amazon, I would encourage you to sign up for Amazon Prime, and it will arrive at your door in 2 days. Amazon currently has a promotion where you can join Amazon Prime – for a 30 day FREE trial! We LOVE Amazon Prime…particularly for the FREE 2-day shipping and movie/TV shows that we can watch via online streaming. We’ve found some great documentaries to go along with our CC material.

If you have children, I highly recommend this App…

13 Oct

For my CC readers, in case you haven’t heard, the CC Cycle 2 app for use with iPhone, iPad or iPod is available for $14.99 at the iTunes App store. My kids love it and can’t wait to review their Memory Work with it!

—>>>If you are a Suzanne Shares reader, and NOT a Classical Conversations family, PLEASE KEEP READING! The rest of this post is for YOU!<<<—

If you have preschool and/or school age children in your family, I would encourage you to purchase this app! Yes, even if you don’t participate in Classical Conversations.

Here’s why:

1) Skip counting songs–I can not say enough about the “Skip Counting Songs” (for use with skip counting numbers by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and all the way up to the 15s!) to aid in memorizing and mastering multiplication facts. My oldest son participated in Classical Conversations for the first time last year. This was also the year that he learned his multiplication facts. I LOVE  Math but was freaked out at the idea of teaching him multiplication.

That Fall, we learned all of the “Skip Counting Songs” through Classical Conversations. That Spring, his math curriculum introduced multiplication. The “Skip Counting Songs” were already cemented into his brain, so that knowledge easily transferred over to multiplication facts. He learned his multiplication facts easily and painlessly. (WHEW!) No, I am not a teacher-extraordinaire–the “Skip Counting Songs” are!

If your child is struggling with multiplication facts, or you would like to ease into introducing them, buy this app; it will be worth every penny! Yes, $14.99 might seem a little “pricy” for an App, but if you think of the cost of a Multiplication Songs cd, they average between $10-$15. With this App, you will get the Skip Counting Songs…and so much more!

You will find these skip counting songs  on the MATH section of the App.

2) Presidents Song–My 3 sons (including my 3 year old!) all learned the Presidents of the United States last year. How? Again, I am not a teacher-extraordinaire–the “Presidents Song” is! This catchy song is on the Classical Conversations Cycle 2 App! After listening to this a few times, your kiddos will be able to sing the United States Presidents to you–in order. It is awe-inspiriting  to observe! Their 30-something-year-old Mom has finally learned all of the Presidents, too, thanks to this Presidents Song.

You will find the President’s Song on the TIMELINE section of the App (week 24).

3) Geography, History and Timeline facts–This App also has 24 weeks of Geography locations (the first week will teach your children all of the continents’ names and locations as well as the world’s oceans!), the 24 History Statements are set to music (and cover history ranging from 800-1990s), and a Timeline (covering 161 major historical events from Creation to the 2000s)

Brains=Sponges
It’s no secret that children can memorize, memorize, memorize while they are young! (Seriously, my 3 year old could sing the President’s Song perfectly after hearing the song less than 10 times!) God made their little minds to soak up information like a sponge! Why not take advantage of their God-given ability and cram their little minds with facts from Math, History, Timeline, English Grammar, Latin, and Science while it’s easy for them? This will only propel them further in their future learning endeavors.

If you are looking for a way to do so, I whole-heartedly recommend the Classical Conversations Cycle 2 App.  If your child enjoys music, there is also a wonderful Timeline Song from Classical Conversations that can be purchased separately. It covers all of the Timeline Cards (excluding the Presidents) shown in the TIMELINE section of the App in a catchy, memorable, I-find-myself-singing-it-all-the-time song. (As a side note, the Timeline events have helped me tremendously in my understanding of the Bible. The historical context of the Old Testament was always “foggy” to me. As I have memorized the Timeline events thanks to the Timeline Song, my depth of understanding of the Old Testament has soared! I’m so, so thankful!)

I am excited to SHARE this wonderful resource with you! I would love to hear how your kiddos enjoy it!

Solar System Song (& my FAVORITE Geography Songs cd)

7 Oct

I’ve written extensively about my favorite geography cd–Geography Songs. I love it for so many reasons! One other fun song that is coming in handy these days is the Solar System Song. Buy it solo for $0.99 or buy the whole album for $8.99 (come on, just buy the whole album! You’ll thank me, I promise!) We are knee-deep in astronomy these days with Classical Conversations, so this is a helpful way for me to review the solar system order with my sons.

One note about the Solar System song–it lists 9 planets revolving around the sun. (I don’t think they got the memo about Pluto.) When I used it today in my Abecedarians class, I sang Neptuuuuuuuuuuuuune very loudly to cover up their singing of “Pluto.” I also sang “EIGHT PLANETS” very loudly to camouflage their joyful serenading of “NINE PLANETS revolve around the sun.” My little Abecedarians loved the song and didn’t seem to notice that I did a quick “re-write” off-the-cuff of the song. ha! :)

Enjoy the song, and don’t mind me, I’ll be over on the couch reading this book…

and loudly singing Neptuuuuuuuuuuuuuuune and “EIGHT PLANETS.”

I’m still a little bitter that my favorite planet as a child…is no longer a planet. Does anyone else share my sentiments?

Egg Carton Multiplication and Skip Counting Game–FREE PRINTABLE

5 Oct


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If you missed my post earlier in the week highlighting the Egg Carton Multiplication and Skip Counting Game that we use ’round our house, you can read more about it here.

GREAT NEWS for those of you wanting to make this for your kiddos, Brandy from Half a Hundred Acre Wood made a printable with ALL of the numbers needed for skip counting/multiplying the 1s, 2s, 3s,…all the way to the 15s AND including the squares and cubes! :) One of the fun things about creating this blog a year ago is that I’ve gotten to make fun friends out in the blogosphere. I even got to meet Brandy this summer @ our CC Practicum; she was our tutor trainer (how awesome is that?!?!) She’s just as wonderful, humble, enthusiastic, and caring in person as evidenced and exuded by her blog. She graciously emailed me the file to share with all of YOU! Download the file, print it (I would probably laminate it…because I laminate everything! ha!), number your egg carton, and you’re set! SO EASY! 

—>>Here’s the file! Click to download: skip-count-cards <<—

Also, two other quick suggestions:
1) 1 and 1/2 dozen egg carton–Brandy wisely used an 18-egg carton when she made hers at home. This allows for skip counting/multiplying the 13s, 14s, and 15s. GREAT idea, Brandy! You’ll see this picture in the file download.

2) Sytrofoam vs. Cardboard Egg Cartons–salmonella can “live” in the cardboard egg cartons, so go with a styrofoam one if you can. We normally use a styrofoam one, but it got left @ CC on Monday after we skip counted the 12s with my Abecedarians. This cardboard one was improvised for the picture. :)

Tin Whistles need sleeping bags (oh, yes, they do!)

4 Oct

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Dear Wise, Experienced, Seasoned Tutor,

You may not have known it, wise, experienced, seasoned Tutor, but I was a first year Tutor attending Tutor Training last year. I had only signed up for Classical Conversations two weeks prior, and found myself in the role of Tutor as well. Most of my memories from year #1 Tutor Training consisted of feelings of panic, asking myself, “What am I doing?”, and resisting the urge to breathe into a brown paper sack due to hyperventilation. However, wise, experienced, seasoned Tutor, you made one suggestion that stuck in my over-stimulated, drinking-from-a-fire-hydrant-information-overloaded brain—sleeping bags for Tin Whistles.

You suggested that we make these for the children in our class to help prevent random, impulsive, impromptu Tin Whistle concerts. I yielded to your wisdom and made 8 sleeping bags for my Abecedarians last year, and the words that you spoke were truth. These handmade, vintage, biodegradable, construction paper-based sleeping bags did exactly as you said. They aided my Abecedarians in resisting the urge to perform symphonic sonatas and harmonious melodic tunes until the appropriate time in class.

I do not know your name wise, experienced, seasoned Tutor. If I did I would search for you on Facebook to the ends of the earth to find you and give you my most sincerest thanks. (My ears would oblige, as well.)

With deepest gratitude,
Suzanne Shares

P.S. I don’t remember your mentioning, Wise, Seasoned, Experienced Tutor, that parents should label their children’s Tin Whistles with a Sharpie. I am sure that was an oversight on your part. I know that preventing the spread of germs, strep throat and various and sundry fall and winter illnesses would be of utmost concern for you. Again, my utmost thanks for your inspiration.

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DIY Tin Whistle sleeping bag–Fold one sheet of construction paper “hot dog” style. Apply glue on the long side (opposite the fold) and on one of the short sides. Press together. Leave the other short side unglued in order to insert the Tin Whistle for his nap time. Add your child’s name and reuse for 6 weeks.image

What do Constellations & Curious George have in common?

4 Oct

What do constellations and Curious George have in common?!?!? The author, H.A. Rey! Did you know that H.A. Rey, creator of Curious George (aka “George Monkey” in our home), was an avid, amateur astronomer?


A friend sent me to the beach last year with his book, The Stars. Our kiddos were too young to stay up and view stars (SAD!), so we will have to do that on a future trip. However, all wasn’t lost. By sending me to the beach with the book, my friend introduced me to the astronomer H.A. Rey, and I am so glad that she did!

I got Find the Constellations at the library this week and read it tonight. I am in love with it! Rey, in child-like narrative, makes searching for constellations accessible, desirous, exciting. I was ready to pull an all nighter outside under the stars to find all of these amazing constellations Rey introduced. Since I know zero, zilch, nada about astronomy and constellations, I was grateful for his simplistic yet engaging description and explanation about stars, constellations, and how to locate them. One of the my treasured sections of the book are the two-page spread pictures showing the constellations to be viewed in the Winter and the Spring. Rey even includes the date and time to view the sky as shown in the picture. He makes it so simplistic that even I, astronomer novice, can figure it out.

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly (or new-to-astronomy-adult-friendly) book to use with your child to view stars and constellations, I highly recommend these books by H.A. Rey. Your child will probably be even more excited to dive into this book knowing that Curious George H.A. Rey wrote it.

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