Classical Conversations Cycle 3 Week 4: The Declaration of Independence

Here is a look at our week, NEW GRAMMAR style!

I still remember the first time we read Little Town on the Prairie and the boys realized that little Laura knew the Declaration of Independence by heart. They immediately wanted to read it aloud for themselves.

We’ve read it every 4th of July ever since. They don’t have it memorized, but its been wonderful pulling apart this extraordinary document the older they get. With every round of American History we get further into the causes of the Revolution and the the lines of the Declaration flesh out. You can get a closer look at the original document here.

This year the boys wanted to take a closer look at the building where everything transpired. Katherine Milhous’ book “Through these Arches: The story of Independence Hall” provided excellent history from a living book perspective. The book itself is 96 pages so we only narrated certain portions. We visited Independence Hall two years ago and we love looking through our pictures from that day.

We also enjoyed “The 4th of July Story” by Alice Dalgliesh. The boys chose 5 important lines from the Declaration as copy work for the week. They illustrated each sentence and fashioned a small book for themselves.

We had a patriotic tea party halfway through the week which featured a reading of Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. We used our favorite book for the reading.  My older boys continued reading through as many Gerrard biography book as possible: John Paul Jones, Francis Marion, Nathaneal Greene, George Clark, Lafayette. I have blocked off an hour of reading time for them every single afternoon and the benefit of this practice is immeasurable. Full disclosure: I did enroll them in the old Pizza Hut Book it! Program, which was one of my favorites as a kid, the thought of a greasy personal pan pizza is quite alluring for these boys.  As always, our book list is found at the end of the post.

We devoted a good deal of time towards learning Black History. This is difficult when materials are scarce and so many records were thrown out. One of our favorite books was “Black Heroes of the Revolution” by Burke Davis. The book is brimming with stories, photos of original documents, paintings, etc. It was wonderful to read a part of history that is so often buried.


The boys are using all sort of kinesthetic activity to teach their youngest little brother the skip counting songs. As a newly minted abecedarian, he is eager to learn the rhythm of the music even though he has not yet mastered the actual numbers. I purchased a copy of Tables, Squares and Cubes at practicum this year and after slipping each page into a page protector, I assembled everything in a notebook for the boys to use for multiplication drills. This takes about 5 minutes per chid, every other day. Once the drills are done we have our Right Start Math lesson. These lessons are short, focused, fun and rich. A pretty ideal combination for us. We have been saving most of the games for the weekends or nights when Dad is home. My kids have progressed beautifully in math since we started Right Start. They know the material so well, they can turn around and teach it to the middle brother who is absolutely blasting through these materials. He never wants to stop doing math, ever. EVER. I had to reconfigure our rhythm chart to allow for a greater block of time for math. Something I never expected to do, but taking advantage of their enthusiasm is an opportunity I don’t want to miss. Because of this we shelved Lyrical Life Science for a bit. We will be picking it up again later in the year.

I still cannot believe how much the Latin memory work with CC prepared these kids to study Latin with Memoria Press. They are having a ball. Every time a new ending or declension presents itself they cheerfully sing out the corresponding CC tune and blaze through their conjugations. I thought teaching Latin would be difficult and frankly, a bit miserable, but it has become one of our absolute favorite subjects. I love the way this language is organized!


5 minutes of tracing each morning is slowly adding up! The boys are quite solid on their US Geography and a few are now branching out onto blank paper to draw in the states as they learn them. Every other day we blob the continents and I see steady progress in this area too. Keep blobbing people! It works!

Per our CC/CM 1st quarter outline, we are narrating a portion of the timeline each week and adding it to our book of narrations. We chose to read about the Phoenicians and the Persians.  These narrations are brief, usually 4-5 sentences long.  I love watching our book increase in size.

The English portion of our memory work has never meant as much to me as it does this year, our first year in Essentials. Whenever we reach a new piece of memory work, I turn to my eldest and ask, “where do we find ____ in our Essentials charts/work?” He explains it to his wide-eyed little brothers, who nod supportively and ask more questions. We have started diagramming our daily sentence during morning time on a small whiteboard. The little ones have NO IDEA what we are doing or why, but they are listening. The eldest and my up and coming Essentials student are actively involved. I have been greatly encouraged by Essentials this year. I was so worried it would defeat us, but it has done the exact opposite. (More on this later)

The Boston Tea Party by Russell Freedman
America’s Paul Revere by Esther Forbes
George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer
Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? by Jean Fritz
The Scarlet Stockings Spy by Trina Hanks Noble
Sybil’s Night Ride by Karen Winnick
Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak: The Outbreak of the Boston Tea Party Told from Multiple Points-of-View! By Kay Winters
Benjamin Franklin by D’ulaires

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