CC Cycle 1 – Week 6: So Many Videos! – Homer, Socrates, Archimedes, & Vertebrates



If you are only going to do one read-aloud as a family this semester, make it the Odyssey. There is perhaps no other book, with the exception of the Bible, that is more referenced by and has had more influence on literature through the ages as Homer’s Odyssey. I came across a gorgeous translation/illustrated book at a used bookstore near our home and I was able to find the same version on Amazon. The story is simplified enough for kids of all ages to enjoy it, but not so much that you lose the flavor of the original. The illustrations are artistic and beautiful. I highly recommend this version.

CLICK HERE to Add The Odyssey Illustrated Book to Your Amazon Wish List

I love being able to let my kids enjoy a movie night after they’ve worked hard studying all week. This week, they were able to watch this great cartoon on YouTube that summarizes Homer’s Odyssey. The video quality isn’t great, but it was good enough to watch on my laptop and enjoy:

For older students, this was a fun little talk that I came across that addresses the science behind Homer’s Odyssey. Really it just discusses one specific place in the story where Homer references certain herbs and their “magical” properties. These herbs were thought to be fictional but scientists have recently discovered that they are real and that they have unique medicinal qualities. It’s a short but fun and interesting little tidbit to enhance your learning this week.

Beyond jumping at the opportunity to introduce my kids to the wonder of Homer’s poetry, this week’s history sentences lent themselves to some great biographies that we used as independent readers.

Perhaps your kids don’t view math as fun? Or perhaps, even better, they do? Math lovers and math haters alike can’t help but be absorbed by this cute tale of a young Pythagoras who uses geometry to solve construction problems during his apprenticeship as a builder in ancient Greece. Another reason to love this book is because it answers the question, “when am I ever going to need math in real life?” Turns out…quite a lot.

Add “What’s Your Angle Pythagoras?” to Your Amazon Wish List

Looking for a Language Arts Curriculum that is true to both the Charlotte Mason method of learning through wonder and the Classical Conversations focus on rhetoric? Look no further. This excellent book from the 2015 Teacher of the Year works very well as the Language Arts component that CC recommends you add to your students’ Foundations studies. It is best for grades 4-12.

CLICK HERE to Add “Think Like Socrates: Using Questions to Invite Wonder and Empathy” to Your Amazon Wish List

Could there be a more “classical” way to learn about Socrates than to read Plato’s account? I think not. Perfect for parents and older students:

CLICK HERE to Add “The Last Days of Socrates” to Your Amazon Wish List

I found a short, informative presentation on YouTube that covers Socrates’ contributions to philosophy and what we know of his life. I have watched the entire program and there were no objections.

There are two books that cover the life of Archimedes. I found both of them charming. First, I defy you to find a kid who would not be interested in reading a book that talks about inventing a death ray…

CLICK HERE to Add “Archimedes: The Man Who Invented the Death Ray” to Your Amazon Wish List

For a slightly more serious and more comprehensive look at the life of Archimedes, you can try this living book classic:

CLICK HERE to Add “Archimedes and the Door of Science” to Your Amazon Wish List

One of the most important discoveries of Archimedes was that in order for an object to float, it must displace a volume of water equal to its weight. This sounds complicated, but it can be made very accessible to children using some simple experiments done at home. Here is a link to a summary of the Archimedes Principle and step-by-step instructions for an easy experiment:

CLICK HERE for some fun experiments exploring Archimedes Principle


This short video almost seems specifically tailored to introduce this week’s CC science. The video, in just 3 minutes, defines the difference between vertebrates and invertebrates and then gives examples of each type of vertebrate. There are two minor issues: first, the video leaves out fish…otherwise it specifically addresses each item in this week’s memorization; second, there is a brief mention of evolution at the end of the video.

I have really been enjoying these books on animal classification. They are easy enough to be used as independent readers which makes them great for when I need a little more time with my older child and I need the younger one to be doing something productive. She loves them because they are full of great photos and I love that even though she is an advanced reader for her grade (4th), it takes her a while to finish them. For this week’s coverage of vertebrates, you could go with the following book that gives an overview of all vertebrates:

CLICK HERE to Add “What Is A Vertebrate?” to Your Amazon Wish List

Or you can purchase one or more in this series that gives more detail for each category of vertebrate:

CLICK HERE to Add “Animal Classifications: Mammals” to Your Amazon Wish List

CLICK HERE to Add “Animal Classifications: Reptiles” to Your Amazon Wish List

For the sake of space, I am just including the links to Mammals and Reptiles, but there are also Birds, Amphibians, and Fish in this series. You can follow either of the above links and Amazon will “suggest” the rest of the books in the series as well.


One of these days, I am going to do a blog post on using the spiral education method with Classical Conversations. Basically, spiral learning holds to the idea that if you continually circle back and review skills, they will become cemented into your brain. I use this concept with all of our memorization work, but none more so than with math. If you want kids to truly memorize their multiplication tables, they must drill them over and over and over again. I find that using lots of different approaches keeps my kids interested and willing to complete the repetitions necessary to master the task. This week, we found another multiplication site for free online games. I have no connection to these websites that I recommend, I just think they are cool.

CLICK HERE to Visit Math Play for FREE Multiplication Games

And, of course, we are continuing to write our multiplication facts each day using fact worksheets that I slip into plastic sheet protectors to save money and trees. We are loving the super fine-line dry erase markers that I recommended earlier for this task.

This link will get you 50 sheet protectors for under 5 bucks including free Prime shipping:

CLICK HERE to Add Sheet Protectors to Your Amazon Wish List

And here are those amazing dry erase markers I was telling you about:

CLICK HERE to Add Staedtler Fine Line Dry Erase Markers to Your Amazon Wish List


Another great place to use those dry erase markers is with my geography fill-in-the-blank worksheets. I created a map to match each week of Cycle 1. They are free to download by clicking HERE.

Thanks for joining me for another weekly review of supplemental materials for your Classical Conversations Foundations journey. A reminder that by adding any of the recommended products to your Amazon cart using one of my links you enable me to earn a small referral fee at no extra cost to you. I make far less in referral fees than I spend reviewing products. But it does help. So thanks to everyone who clicks through on my links! Have a great week and until next time HAPPY LEARNING!


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