Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 2: Pilgrims (j/k Explorers)


You know what I love about Foundations? The freedom.


Goodness gracious it feels great to go at our own pace! We spent the first couple of days learning about the Jamestown settlement and other early settlements in North America. We read a fantastic book called “Forts in America” by Harold Peterson that tied together our study of Castles last year to Forts. It was fascinating! Our Week 2 History sentence is about the Mayflower Compact. Here’s the thing, we’ve studied Pilgrims every year at Thanksgiving. Every. Single. Year.  We also did an incredibly thorough Pilgrim study during our MFW Adventures and Beautiful Feet Book Early American History study. I’m feeling like we are pretty solid on Pilgrims. I mean, we will still study Pilgrims again this upcoming Thanksgiving because its become a tradition and my boys LOVE it, but I didn’t really feel the need to do a ton with Pilgrims this week.


We read a few chapters from Lorene Lambert’s excellent book “Stories of America Volume 1” and we read the appropriate sections from our main spine “A Child’s First Book of American History” by Earl Miers.  Two books we enjoyed from our local living library where: “Shaw’s Fortune” by Edwin tunis and “Stranded at Plimoth Plantation 1626” by Gary Bowen. We spent extra time learning about Roger Williams and his passion for defending Native Americans and religious liberty for all. We did our narrations, charted the Mayflower’s journey and then we turned our attention back to explorers! The boys also read portions from our past US History studies that they enjoyed. We used our Pin it! Maps US History bundle throughout the week as we read.


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In recent weeks we had studied Polo, Vespucci, Magellan, Columbus, Cortez, Hudson, Pizarro, Coronado, Ericsson, Soto, Cortez, Cabot, Drake, Balboa, de Gama, Carties, de Leon, Champlain and a few more. Some of these stories were thrilling and exciting, others were appalling and sickening. This is a difficult topic for tender-hearted children, but I really feel that it is important to show them a balanced view of history. I read the writings of Bartolomeo de las Casas when I was in my early 20s. I had nightmares for months afterwards. I did not feel the need to outline the full extent of the atrocities committed by the Spaniards towards the native americans, but I did make sure that my children understood the level of horror and destruction those ships brought to the new world.  My boys read about a few of these explorers using the Gerrard Discovery Biographies for early readers during their quiet reading hour.


In place of our usual Friday Exam, I rolled out a large sheet of kraft paper and we began to map out the globe. This is where the fruits of our daily geography map tracing and blobbing really show.  I helped with a few initial placements but they did the vast majority of the work. We used this nifty little site to help us chart the individual courses.  It was incredible to see all the voyages on a map we made together.


Many of these explorers were also cartographers and we recalled some of those stories together while we worked on adding all the special details, like the compass rose.  It was a beautiful way to close our explores study and left us ready for our study of settlements in the New World.


We pressed on with Latin, Math and Science as usual. We have settled into a really nice flow in the mornings with the boys getting their instruction from me and then setting out to do their independent work while I help their little brothers. (If you have not read Leigh Bortin’s intro to the Foundations Guide READ IT NOW!) Essentials is rolling along nicely. I love that we are learning everything together. We are charting every single day and I am amazed at how much he is writing with each IEW paper. (Use our IEW button on the sidebar!) Our decision to use IEW Phonetic Zoo spelling is also working tremendously well for us. I’ll be sharing soon about how we tackle Essentials each day, I just want to get a couple more weeks under my belt before I do so.

Also, teeth are falling out all over the place. I need to step up my soup game and get more ones from the bank.


Meanwhile, my six year old is loving his slow and steady study with Playful Pioneers. Every day after lunch my littlest guy snuggles in bed and listens to audio books while my older children have their independent reading hour. That’s when my third born and I have “wonderfulest us time” as he calls it. 😊 He sits on my lap and works on his edging while I read aloud, followed by whatever activity is assigned that day. We look forward to this special time all day long and I’m always amazed by how hungry he is for it. No matter what we are doing he wants to be pressed up against my side. He’ll ask me to scratch his back or his head while I read. Sometimes he wants to sit in my lap and sing with me. It’s amazing how old six isn’t. For some reason the age of six makes most parents panic. Who is reading, who is writing, who can sit still, who can comply and conform, who is malleable to whatever the agenda of the day is? How sad. I have repeated to myself over and over the words of Andrew Kern, “children are souls to be nurtured, not products to be measured.” This perfectly sums up this tender time with my son each day. How we love our nurturing hour, our little liturgy of love and wonder. On the hard days it’s even more important to follow through with it.


This was our last week of school before our third year with The Homegrown Preschooler begins. I had to laugh at the number of times my kids asked for HGP this month (yes, even the 8 and 9 year old). I must have said “It starts in September” at least 20 times. We are so ready to start again!



His boxes are all prepped and ready to go. This year we are adding in some activities he was not developmentally ready for last year. Recently someone recommended the Leap Frog Letter Factory (DVD) to us. I’ll admit I kind of rolled my eyes at the recommendation but I really respect this person and my son does respond really well to music so I bought a copy. Now, he is turning 5 soon but I am in ZERO hurry for him to learn his letters. Guys, he watched this video three times and is suddenly writing out 10-12 letters, sounding them out and having so much fun with them. He keeps pulling out our letter board FROM JENNIFER and he sings the song as he traces the letters. Oh, my heart! Its killing me. So we are starting another year of playing skillfully and he has shown me that he is interested in letters so we will be adding all of those print rich activities this year.

On to Week 3!


3 thoughts on “Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 2: Pilgrims (j/k Explorers)

  1. Your posts inspire me (and also make me feel like a slacker). . . . Love the heritage you’re giving your boys! Thanks for taking the time to put it all down. I can only imagine how long it takes to put together a post like this, and the rest of us just get to benefit by pulling ideas from it to use with our own littles. Thanks.


  2. It says reply so I hope this shows up in the right place! I just love how your pictures show a “lived in” house, a house where life and learning are happening, very beautiful. I loved your podcast with Cindy Rollins, I listened twice!


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