Planning & Organization for Classical Conversations Cycle 1

It feels so good to have all of the planning and organization COMPLETE for this year's CC Cycle 1.

For the past couple of years I've been creating videos and posts to share how our family approaches the Foundations memory work.

This year I've done the same. Please enjoy, and know that this is only ONE WAY to do CC -- I know of so many different approaches and resources.  

My philosophy with CC (as well as with homeschooling in general) is LESS IS MORE.  You will find that I keep it all contained to one bookshelf and really try to minimize excess STUFF! I have a few tried and true resources that we return to each year.

Classical Conversations is such a blessing to our family.

What an honor and joy it is to KNOW GOD and MAKE HIM KNOWN!  

Organizing & Planning for Classical Conversations Cycle One

This post contains affiliate links. 

Favorite "Tools" for Organizing Foundations

The key (for me) to success is ORGANIZATION. 

The materials from previous cycles all get stored in their own see-through bin.  (I also store Challenge materials in their own bin, but that will be another post!)

I label the bins clearly so that we can get to them easily the next time they are needed. It really isn't hard to just throw everything you used (CDs, maps, books, etc...) into a bin and slap a label on it. 

I use the DYMO Hand Held Label Maker (just $18) - it is the BEST investment I've made in a while! 

Favorite Tools for Organization Foundations

We also stock up on plenty of BINDERS - binders with see through covers are best, because I make pages for the fronts of each subject area binder.  

Finally, I love to always print the Memory Work Flip Chart from CC Connected.  (Thank you melodystroud for making these for each cycle.  They are a HUGE blessing.)

Morning Time & Memory Work

Each morning at breakfast time we do the following:

  • Devotion
  • CNN Student News  (this is a non partisan 10 minute news show that my kids LOVE)
  • Memory Work Review (using the flip book mentioned above)
  • Picture Study or Music Appreciation (using SQUILT, of course!) -- according to the Foundations Guide

Also, if there are mornings when I need to give Anna (my Challenge 1 student) direction before her day starts, Grant will take a few minutes and review with the Cycle 1 app or going through the timeline song with the timeline cards. 

History Resources & Notebooking Memory Work

This year we are keeping it simple.  I've already outlined how we will approach the history work in this post, but I'll repeat a bit here. 

The following are the resources we will use to reinforce the history memory work:

The history notebook, as shown in the video below, consists of notebooking pages I have printed from my Notebooking Pages subscription. There is a notebooking page for nearly EVERY HISTORY SENTENCE in Cycle 1. If there is not a page, I have just printed a generic notebooking page. 

(You can watch my son explain how he notebooks through CC memory work in this video.)

Using Notebooking Pages with the Foundations Memory Work

The nice thing about this notebook is that it gives my son a PROJECT, and then he can also use these pages for presentations on community days. 

The notebook also serves as a great keepsake and record of his learning. 

Notebooking Pages are such a simple, effective way to reinforce the history memory work! 

Notebooking Pages LIFETIME Memberships

Math Curriculum & Memory Work

We will review the math memory work each morning using the flip book and the Cycle 1 CDs.  

Sometimes I find worksheets on CC Connected to reinforce the math work, but generally verbally reviewing the math memory work is enough for my math guy. 

As far as math curriculum....

Grant has always used Saxon Math and it works well for him. We will continue on that course this year. 

An INVALUABLE resource are white boards.

Using white boards during Saxon Math time


I use a board, and Grant uses a board. We usually complete the Lesson Practice together - it's fun and it also gives me a good idea of his understanding. 

Latin Curriculum & Memory Work

This year we are starting a formal Latin curriculum, simply because I have seen the rigorous work required in Challenge A/Henle Latin, and I want my son to be prepared. (My daughter jumped in cold in Challenge A and struggled a bit.)

After researching and speaking to a lot of people about this, we have decided to use First Form Latin from Memoria Press. I feel this Latin curriculum will prepare him for Challenge A. This is going to be an addition for us this year - and probably a time consuming one, but I'm willing to invest that time because I KNOW it will pay off in spades. 

Using First Form Latin in Classical Conversations Foundations

We will review the daily Latin memory work - which will also be reinforced through First Form. 

I'm most excited about this area of our curriculum this year. It's taken me two years, but I FINALLY feel educated and equipped to teach Latin. 

Science Memory Work

We will review the science memory work each day using the flip book, CDs and Cycle 1 app. 

I have a few good science book on our shelves for Grant to dig a bit deeper in the science memory work (possibly for presentation?).  

We will also check the library and online for any sources to help us learn a bit more about the science for the week.

You could say I'm going to fly by the seat of my pants a bit -- but I would prefer to call it "Interest Led".  Cycle 1 science lends itself to some nature study, so I hope we can take part in A LOT of that this year! 

Hopefully I will also find some fun experiments and other activities via CC Connected if we have time for them. 

We will NOT notebook the science, simply because I don't want to notebook Grant to death! 

Science Resources for CC Cycle 1

Geography Memory Work and Map Tracing!

Admittedly, this is our FAVORITE area of the memory work. 

Grant LOVES to trace maps and it seems that the geography memory work just sticks with him through tracing.

Normally, after our morning time, this is the FIRST activity Grant likes to complete!

I've created a notebook for Cycle 1, with a map for each of the 24 weeks (thank you CC Connected user MomBrown for the maps!).

Cycle 1 Geography Notebook for map tracing

Here is a video I created so you can see EXACTLY what our geography notebook looks like:

English Grammar Memory Work

Basically, we just review the English Grammar memory work during our morning time. 

I trust that Grant is getting whatever else he needs in Essentials (he will be a second year Essentials student this year). 

I would like to make better use of some of the songs on CC Connected this year, because I think they will really help him. I have a friend who makes a CD of songs for her kids before the year starts, so that's my next project!


Timeline Review

The timeline is always practiced in our van! We keep this very simple and just make sure to listen to the timeline song at least once whenever we go somewhere.

Also, Grant goes through the timeline cards (I store them in small binders) while listening to the song when he has free time during the day.




This is our PLAN for the year. 

Sometimes things don't go according to plan, but I appreciate having a plan in place. It just helps our days run smoothly.

If there is one thing I want to convey to you -- it is that THE MEMORY WORK IS ENOUGH.  If you do nothing else but review the memory work (and include a good math and reading program), your child will be JUST FINE.  

If I can't fit everything for Foundations in ONE bookshelf, then I need to get rid of a few things!  

Classical Conversations/Foundations Resources:  All on ONE Bookshelf

How do YOU plan for Foundations?  

Do you have any tips/ideas to share with me about reviewing/reinforcing memory work?  

Planning & Organizing for Classical Conversations Cycle 1

Music Appreciation for Patriotic Days

Free Music Appreciation Lesson - The Stars & Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa: a 12 page SQUILT download

Do your children know about patriotic American music?

Are you teaching them about American history through music?

We can learn so much about history through great music, and through the lives and times of the composers who created the music. 

I've created a free download for you - to help you teach your children about the National March of the United States: The Stars & Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa. 

This 12 page SQUILT download includes listening links, notebooking pages, and a full SQUILT lesson.  Your children will learn about The March King, the specifics of the piece, and also a little about the Piccolo. 

If you've never done a SQUILT lesson before, you are in for a treat.   

(Grab your download at the end of this post!)



A Little Bit About SQUILT

SQUILT stands for Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time.

It is a method I used as an elementary music teacher many years ago. Your children listen to a piece of music QUIETLY -- and in this stillness and quiet they listen for certain elements of music - Rhythm & Tempo, Instrumentation, Dynamics, and Mood.

The SQUILT Curriculum teaches your children the grammar of music, and allows them to listen to and articulate their thoughts about beautiful music. 

Each SQUILT lesson contains everything you need - links, notebooking pages, and EVERY SINGLE THING ABOUT THE MUSIC the parent will need to know. 

SQUILT is for the non musical parent. It is for the musical parent.  It is for multiple ages. It is for the WHOLE FAMILY.

My goal is to make beautiful music accessible and understandable for children everywhere! 

Patriotic Fine Arts: Celebrate Freedom!

I'm so excited to be teaming up with my great friend, Tricia, at  Hodgepodge.

Tricia is providing the art lesson, and I'm providing the music. How fun is that? 

(Be sure to pin and share this so other homeschoolers can join in the fun!)

Patriotic Fine Arts - Celebrate Freedom with free music and art lessons

Click over to Tricia's site to receive your FREE art lesson!


Grab your  FREE SQUILT Lesson --> The Stars & Stripes Forever By John Philip Sousa! 

(And, when you download the lesson I have another surprise for you, too!)

Please enjoy a special time sharing patriotic art and music with your children!!  


25 Things For Homeschool Survival

Sometimes homeschool is all about survival! 

I remember well, especially in our first years of homeschooling, that many days I felt I was simply trying to keep my head above water. 

You name it, and as a homeschooling mom we probably have a mechanism (or favorite resource) in place to help us survive this thing called homeschool!

Here goes:  25 Things for Homeschool Survival 

25 Things for Homeschool Survival

25 Things for Homeschool Survival

1. A Sense of Humor

Sometimes you just have to laugh. 

Child A is having a meltdown at the kitchen table. Child B (not to be outdone) is have a meltdown regarding those pesky math drills that mom requires. The dog poops right in front of you. The doorbell rings and it's the pest control people and you've forgotten they were coming today. 

Then, Child A (who has been pulling on a loose tooth while waiting for you to cajole Child B to do their math drills), loses said tooth but throws it away -- the thought of the tooth fairy not coming is the undoing of Child A! 

Then... to top it all of... dad walks in the door from a long day at work. 

(These were actual events in my house.)

Having a sense of humor can help with homeschool survival. Have you read The Homeschool Experiment?  You should.  It will make you laugh, cry, and realize that life is short and time homeschooling our children is precious, despite the crazy days that often ensue. 

(And -- there is a solution for most things -- even teeth that have been thrown away!)

You must have a sense of humor for homeschool survival! 


2. Plan to Eat

Seriously, this IS Homeschool Survival. 

Somehow it's easy for me to homeschool all day long, but it  feels like such a chore to get dinner on the table every night. When I am prepared and organized, however, that totally changes. 

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

I have used Plan to Eat for several years. I can catalog my recipes, create a meal plan, and it automatically generates a shopping list. 

I never wonder about what we're going eat, and can easily look back at previous menus if I'm stuck about what to put on the week's menu.  

Last week's menu included:

I HIGHLY recommend this meal planning tool.  (If you join we can be friends and share recipes -- isn't that fun? Try Plan to Eat for free... I bet you'll like it.)

Effective meal planning ensures homeschool survival!

3. Coffee

So cliche, but my cup of coffee in the morning is something to look forward to and it gives me energy to start the day. 

I need this mug, though.

My chiropractor told me that just one cup of coffee each day contains a good amount of antioxidants - so drinking coffee is good for you, see? 

(I'm going with that.)

Coffee = Homeschool Survival



Seriously, I need quiet sometimes. 

There are times when a certain child in my house talks SO MUCH that I feel I could just explode. 

I've actually uttered the words, "Please stop talking until the clock gets to xyz.  Mommy's ears need a break." 

Is that horrible?

Putting systems in place, however, so I can get some quiet is very important to the survival of everyone in my house.  Whether it is taking a walk, afternoon quiet time for everyone in their rooms, or letting the kids watch a movie, quiet is important! 

Quiet is ESSENTIAL to Homeschool Survival!  Make it a daily habit for ALL ages and your life will be so much happier. 

5. Sharpies

OK -- Sharpies make EVERYTHING better. 

You can grade math with them and use fun colors. 

You can trace maps with them.

You can make tie dye Sharpie Bandanas.

They look great just sitting there in a Mason Jar -- almost begging you to use them! 

Sharpies help with Homeschool Survival! 


6. Time

If you're going to survive at homeschool you actually have to be at home. 

Don't spread yourself so thin that you don't have TIME to homeschool. 

Our best years have been the ones where we minimized outside commitments and classes, and just LEARNED at home. 

(That doesn't mean field trips don't count, but you know what I mean.)

More time = better Homeschool Survival!

7. A Professional Library

Homeschooling is a profession - a very important profession.

As with any other profession, it requires study and time for personal development.

There are a few books I keep on my shelves and re-read each year.  

I glean something different each year from the resources because my children are ever growing and changing. 

It's important that you KNOW ABOUT HOW TO HOMESCHOOL! 

8. A GOOD Pencil Sharpener

What is it about pencil sharpeners?  We have been through quite a few, and I finally broke down and purchased a GOOD one

Oh, and pencils seem to disappear like crazy, too  (I still don't have any answer for that one!).

Seriously, when it comes time to sit down and do work, why is it that people always say "I can't find a pencil!" or "My pencil isn't sharp!"


25 Things for Homeschool Survival

9. Dry-Erase Markers with Pom Poms  

I saw this awesome trick on Pinterest and we've been using it.  Total genius.

Super glue a craft pom pom on the end of your Expos -- instant eraser! 

No more searching for erasers or using paper towels.

Homeschool Survival Tip #9 is a winner!


10. Answer Buzzers

Answer Buzzers can create some serious fun in your homeschool.

Your kids will come up with all kinds of fun ways to use them.

They can make math facts more fun, Latin Declensions more palatable, and more.

When everyone is laughing, and learning becomes more of a game, your Homeschool Survival rate goes UP! 


11. Notebooking Pages

You KNEW I had to put this one in this list.

I cannot tell you how many times Notebooking Pages has saved my bacon.

There is a notebooking page for everything -- and my kids notebook just about everything, too.  

I love notebooking for so many reasons -- you can visit the how to notebooking section on the blog to see how to notebook and why we love it so much.

Being able to see learning documented in notebooks, and knowing my kids enjoy it so much is essential to my homeschool survival!

12. Dry Erase Boards

(This goes right along with the Dry Erase Marker Pom Poms)

We have individual dry erase boards - one for each child, and one for me - the teacher.

(I love these particular boards because they are just $4 each.)

I love them for math, diagramming sentences, games, and tons of other things. 

It's just so easy to have dry erase boards at the ready. 

(Oh, I've also drawn a bullseye on a dry erase board, sent a certain hyper child to the backyard, and instructed him to use his Nerf Guns to hit the bullseye.)

Homeschool Survival essential #12 = Dry Erase Boards!  --- and maybe a Nerf Gun or two

13.  Page Protectors

Page protectors are great for so many reasons. 

My daughter uses the same planning sheet for her schoolwork each week. She simply puts it in a page protector, and uses her Expos to write down assignments. 

We put notebooking pages in them to keep them from being destroyed. 

My kids (both avid musicians) print music from online and put them in sheet protectors in their music notebooks.

The uses are ENDLESS!  

Less paper and protected work means Homeschool Survival! 


14. Bribery

Yes, I did say BRIBERY. (Maybe incentive is a better word.)

Sometimes my kids need a little motivation to complete a very hard task. 

A little bowl of chocolate chips is our treat of choice, but hot chocolate and fancy hot tea and cider are also favorites. 

They know that while they are tackling something tough, there is a little something sweet to go with it.

Nothing wrong with that, is there? 

Sometimes we forget that kids are a lot like US -- they respond to the same motivators and need the same encouragement we do.  



25 Things for Homeschool Survival

15. Use Over the Door Organizers to Store Supplies

We school A LOT in our kitchen, but there's not much storage there. 

I took an over the door organizer, hung it on the inside of the door going to the basement, and filled it with school supplies.

Talk about survival!

Now, we can open the door and pull out anything we need. Close the door and you would never know all of those supplies are there! 

As you can see, mine's not very neat -- but it holds everything from stickers and tape to glue and pointers and pom poms.

When I bought this contraption and hung it on the basement door, I immediately felt better, know that I mean? 




16. ONE Bookshelf

You may disagree with me on this one.

We only use ONE BOOKSHELF to hold the resources for the current homeschool year. 

We rely a lot on the library and online resources, and the few resources I do keep out on the shelf are well loved and valuable. 

Deepen Your Homeschool Through Simplification.

Clutter really drives me bananas. When our homeschool supplies are orderly and visible, things tend to run more smoothly.

Less is more. That is key to MY Homeschool Survival! 

17.  Play GAMES! 

If you want to survive in homeschool, you need to make it fun.  Play GAMES with your kids, lots of them.

Our 5 favorite games for learning (and just for fun) include:

I've also found that homeschool MATH survival depends largely on GAMES.  The more you can make math a game, the better. 

Have you seen  Scholastic Mega Fun Card Game Math?  We LOVE the games in this book! 

18. Cut Notebooks in Half!

I love this idea and we'll be trying it this year.

I have a son who loves to write and doodle, and he's forever using notebooks -- but he rarely fills up a full page.

This idea is GENIUS and will definitely contribute to my homeschool survival!  

19. Plastic Tablecloths 

We have several plastic tablecloths, and my kids know that if they want to do something messy all they have to do is cover the kitchen table with one of the cloths.

If the cloth gets SUPER messy we can just throw it away. 

I used to be a huge stickler about messes, and I quickly learned that I would SINK as a homeschooling mom if messes bothered me.

This one little thing really helps me be more flexible! 

20. A Good Record Keeping System

Whatever system works for you, just make sure you stick with it . 

We happen to use Homeschool Minder and love it. 

Especially as your children approach high school, you need to be in the habit of keeping GOOD records!  

25 Things for Homeschool Survival


21. Baskets

We use a lot of baskets.

They can contain books, supplies, and whatever else doesn't have a home at the moment.  

A note, however:  you need to clean the baskets out periodically, or else they will just be junk collectors! 

No matter the amount of little homeschool clutter lying around, it can always be put in a basket and things look neat and tidy.

That's great for the homeschool survival of a Type A mom like me!


22. Sleep

This should go without saying, but homeschool moms (and moms everywhere) need to get enough sleep.

Many nights I feel like I NEED to stay up late to accomplish whatever the task.

But, a night of good sleep is worth so much more than anything I could have accomplished burning the midnight oil. 

A good night's sleep is essential for Homeschool Survival. 


It's very easy for homeschooling to overtake our lives.

Having an interest other than homeschooling is SO IMPORTANT - even if that interest is as simple as reading books for pleasure or getting together with the girls every now and then.  

When all we focus on is homeschool, it becomes an altar of sorts and sucks us DRY. 

(ask me how I know)

25 Things for Homeschool Survival

24. A Laundry System

The laundry system in our house isn't anything fancy.  

There is one basket outside of the kids' rooms for their dirty clothes, and a hamper in my bedroom for mom and dad's clothes. 

I DO NOT do all of the laundry by myself. My kids are old enough to help and take responsibility for their own clean clothes. 

Twice each week the kids help me gather the laundry and we do a load of lights and darks. We wash sheets once every two weeks and towels once a week.

When the laundry is done I give it to the kids and they put it away in their rooms.  

I'm fairly confident that in my absence everyone would carry on with laundry duties. 

When you are home all day and homeschooling your kids you can't be worrying about the laundry constantly -- come up with a system and STICK TO IT.


25. A Healthy Homeschool Parent

I saved this one for last because I truly feel it is the MOST IMPORTANT thing for Homeschool Survival. 

If mom (or dad - or both) isn't healthy, there is little room for your homeschool to be healthy, either. By HEALTHY I mean taking care of yourself - exercising, eating properly, etc... 

I recently got a FitBit (Happy 18th Anniversary from my husband) and I love how it keeps me accountable with my steps each day.  Plus, it has caller ID on the watch face (how cool is that?) so when we are schooling and I get a call, it just vibrates and I can see if I need to take it or not - without interrupting our school day. 


Between that and Shakeology, I'm doing pretty well. It's all about self discipline, self respect, and plain old hard work. 

I believe, however, that my family is worth it. 


Whew -- that's it!  25 Things for Homeschool Survival. 

I hope you found some good ideas and maybe laughed a little, too. 


Is there a particular thing that is necessary for the survival of your homeschool?  Tell me about it in the comments below! 

Feel free to pin the image below to bookmark this post for easy reference!

25 Things for Homeschool Survival

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