beginners guide

If you are a new Classical Conversations family, you’re probably getting a little overwhelmed about now!  While it’s wonderful to have so many great resources and ideas available, it can sometimes be too much when you are just starting out!

I wanted to list the basic information and resources you need to have a great year. I hope that this post doesn’t become just one more thing that makes you overwhelmed, but rather helps to clear up any confusion!

Foundations Guide


The guide is your all-in-all source for everything we learn in Foundations (for all 3 cycles).  You only need to buy this one time!  The first thing you’ll want to do is read the beginning of the guide.  Most people never do this, but if you read it you’ll learn a lot about Foundations!

Some people find it helpful to bring their guide with them to CC.  I’ve seen many moms making notes in the margins of the weekly memory work as they see great ideas from their tutors or other moms.

The back of the guide has the science and fine arts information…don’t forget to read and use those sections! You’ll also find the Proofing Sheet.  You can make copies and use it to review and quiz your child throughout the year.  This form is used at the end of the year for Memory Master Proofing.

Tin Whistle

tin whistle


You’ll use a tin whistle every year during weeks 7-12.  Many moms find it helpful to have their own tin whistle to use and practice in class too!  You can get them through CC or at a music store.  Just make sure it’s in the key of D.  These whistles can bend and dent easily and many kids love to bang them around.  You might want to make or find a case for it.  I’ve seen homemade cases made out of PVC pipes that work great!

Audio CDs


Some people might say this isn’t mandatory, but I’d disagree!  The key to learning the memory work is the repetition and duration that we use each week.  We also put most of the memory work to music!  The audio cds have all the memory work for the cycle along with all the official CC songs (if there is one) for each week.  You’ll also find the Presidents song, Orchestra song, States and Capitals, and the Timeline song! I usually copy the CD to my iTunes on my computer so I can have the songs anytime at home and then keep the CDs in my car for on-the-go learning!

Memory Flash Cards


These are one of those optional resources, however, I can’t live without them!  Basically they are color-coded cards with all the memory work for each subject.  The front of the cards have the prompt or question and the back tells the answer or the actual memory work.  These cards are used daily at my house!  They are great for games, for kids to quiz eachother, for use in the car, etc…

Memory Work System Cards

Memory Work System Cards
Memory Work System Cards

These cards were made and are sold by me.  I created these cards as a way to systematically review all the CC memory work through the year.  At first it’s not hard.  It takes only a few minutes to review weeks 1-4.  But once you get past 6 weeks, you usually don’t review every week all the time, so you need a way to remind you what you already reviewed yesterday and the day before so you aren’t leaving weeks out!  You can read more about them here

Trivium Tables – Geography


I LOVE the Geography Trivium Tables.  They are quick and easy and offer a great way for the kids to review geography independently. At only $10 I believe they are a great basic resource.

Planners & Organizers

planner page header picture

Over the years I’ve tried many different ways to organize and plan our homeschool lessons.  We’ve done everything from “wing’n it” to using “workboxes” and everything in between!  Most of it depends on how you think, what your day is like, and the ages of your kids!  Lately I’ve found that I need to engage my kids in the organization of our days.  That has been done through the use of planners.  I specifically designed planners for the age/program that they are in.  My daughter is using the Grammar Stage Student Planner, my son uses the Level 1 Planner, and I keep myself organized and a week or two ahead of them in my Parent Planner.

There are TONS of planners out there!  You can get lost on Etsy looking through them…not to mention other blogs, stores, etc.  Basically just find something that immediately makes sense to you without a lot of confusion. Honestly even just blank paper or a white board works wonders! Nothing wrong with keeping it simple!!

TIP:  If you do decide on a pdf planner that you need to print out yourself, whether it’s free or purchased, DON’T print the whole the thing out right away.  Print out a few weeks worth and try it!  You don’t want to spend another $20+ printing out a planner that you end up not liking!!

If you’d like to check out the planners I made, take a look at the posts about them here:

Parent Planners

Challenge Planners

Student Planners (great for Foundations)

Okay….. so you have your basic supplies…now what?

Well, now you want to make sure you have some basic resources for history and science on your shelf.  There is a big debate about supplementing CC at home.  Many people say you don’t have to supplement anything because CC is a complete curriculum and just as many people will give you a long list of all the things you should supplement with.

I think part of the problem is the definition of supplement.  Here’s my opinion…

At the Foundations level, CC offers you a scope and sequence for your subjects.  You will have a basic bit of information for each subject for each week.  It’s up to you how you study that information.  If you call reading out of an encyclopedia as a supplement of history, then yes, you have to supplement.  However I just call that research!  To me saying you have to supplement CC would suggest you are adding another curriculum…like adding My Fathers World or Sonlight along side CC.  You do not have to do that at all.  You do, however, need to research and learn about each piece of memory work! You do that by digging deeper into interesting books, encyclopedias, and literature!  Books like Story of the World are great as a reference book…you don’t have to read it cover to cover and do all the activities listed in the Activity Guide (unless  you want to).

Same goes for science.  Find some great resources and reference books.  Each week simply look up the topic and learn about it.  You can do experiments if you want…even redoing the one that you did at your community is fun!

These are books that I pull off my shelves ahead of time
These are books that I pull off my shelves ahead of time

I put together a BOOK BIN of books that go along with the current week’s topics.  We pull from the book bin each day and read! As the kids are a little older, we learn to discuss more and even take notes about what we read.  Once in Essentials, they learn to Key Word Outline and rewrite from notes in their own words…this is AWESOME for History and Science work!!  Take some notes from a simple resource (timeline card, science card, encyclopedia, etc) and then have your child rewrite in their own words!  They can even illustrate their writing.  This is notebooking!


An example of Notebooking
An example of Notebooking

If you would rather have something already outlined for you, there are some great free resources out there in the blog world.  I have also put together a history lesson plan for Cycle 1 (semester 1) that gives daily guidance so you don’t have to even think about it!

ancient history graphic

Check it out here: The Ancient Story – Lesson Plans for Cycle 1


For other great ideas on how to use Foundations at home and keeping it simple, check out these previous blog posts:

Classical Model in a Nutshell

Why I love Copywork

Using CC at Home Part 1

Using CC at Home Part 2

Planning with Classical Conversations

Free Notebooking Pages

Why Memory Work?

Student and Parent Planners


I hope that you found this list simple and easy!  CC really is a wonderful program both academically as well as for the fellowship and community!


2 Thoughts on “Beginners Guide to Foundations”

  • Hi! Thank you! This has been so helpful! My son and I have already been listening to the Cycle 1 CD. We love it! He’s only 2 and knows a lot of the songs. Question for you, do we also need the Cycle 2 CD or is it very similar to the Cycle 1 CD?

    • So glad you’ve loved the CC audio! Isn’t it amazing how quickly they learn and memorize! That’s why the grammar stage is so important! Yes, each cycle has a different CD and everything is different except math and timeline!

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