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Interest Led Learning Within a Classical Framework


I cannot commit 100% to a specific homeschool model. There are good points in each, and to limit our homeschool to one approach seems short sighted. 

The Classical model, however, works for the MAJORITY of our learning. It provides a framework and structure to our days. Being in Classical Conversations gives us direction and stability.

There are times, however, when we just have to take off on an interest led tangent.

This year I am figuring out how to incorporate interest led learning within a Classical framework. Today's Collage Friday post is a peek into this part of our homeschool.

*This post contains affiliate links

Classical History/With an Interest Led Twist

For my youngest, the spine of our days revolves around the memory work in Classical Conversations. Memorizing history sentences, science facts, grammar concepts, math facts - and so much more - has been effective and challenging.

As we were memorizing the history sentence about World War I this week (and looking ahead to WWII next week), we were watching YouTube videos and researching the war in general. My son started being interested in the planes of WWI and the innovative battle methods during the war. 

I also wanted to incorporate more silent reading into his days, as well as spend time reading aloud to BOTH children.

I read aloud When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (what a beautiful, sweet, funny, and tragic book this is - it's one of my all time favorites!). While listening Grant colored planes out of a WWI airplanes coloring book. He also built LEGO airplanes. 

While at the library he picked out a Childhood of Famous Americans: Harry Houdini - who was living during WWI and performed for the troops overseas.

Perfect. We memorized our history sentence and worked on the CC timeline. I let Grant take the lead on further study into the war and it turned out beautifully.

This is why I love homeschool. This is how I wish I could have learned and the way I feel all children should be allowed to learn. 

  Classical Geography & Science in Middle Grades

I began writing this week about homeschooling "big kids". This will be a series  on the blog, so please check back next Wednesday for another post.

While Anna's curriculum doesn't leave a lot of time for "wiggle room" or "extras", I do like that she can explore some things more deeply at her discretion.

Currently she is learning how to draw Asia freehand and from memory. Each day she draws the continent and labels all countries. She uses Quizlet (oh we LOVE Quizlet!) to study the capitals and other geography terms. 

Our two large whiteboards and Expo markers get a workout daily... you can see in the first picture below that she's getting good at drawing most of Asia. I challenge you to do this yourself - then imagine doing the ENTIRE WORLD this way.  {That is the geography final exam in Challenge A - draw and label the entire world from memory.}

For science her Challenge A group is learning about several different body systems (using this book of reproducible lab sheets - a great resource!) Last week was the respiratory system and this week is the mouth and teeth. Again - she draws the diagram freehand and from memory and defines terms. Each week she has two particular terms  she researches in detail and then reports to the class on these. 

We've found videos and lapbooks to go along with this study of biology, and Anna is personalizing her learning in this way. 

Somehow - and it's hard to describe to you unless you are going through Classical Conversations - all of this knowledge snaps into place with what my younger child is learning. It's amazing to watch, really. I'm seeing my children receiving a deep, rich, and thorough education and I am so excited by that! 

Composer Study - Paganini

Of course we use SQUILT as our primary study of classical music, but I love to incorporate living books and lapbooks into our composer studies, too.

Enter Opal Wheeler's biographies of famous musicians. Last year we studied Wagner and this year we are learning all about Paganini. And -- I am SO EXCITED - we will be going to see a Paganini Violin Concerto at the Atlanta Symphony tonight. This concerto is described as "FIENDISHLY DIFFICULT" and will be played on a Stradivarius violin. It's an early Valentine outing for all four of us. 


We've been reading the book, completing the lapbook pieces, and listening to the music. 

I read a chapter to Grant while Anna was working on some of her school work and she was disappointed that she had missed it, so from now on we will be reading this all together.  


Our week was busy and full - here's a final glimpse:


  1. Anna invited a couple friends over to watch the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate on Tuesday. It was good to have a lively discussion with them. We are thankful for friends, a great CC tutor, and a rhetoric seminar that is teaching Anna to defend her faith.
  2. "Mom, come see! There is an X in the sky!" I'm happy we have slow days and can just take time to look at the sky and appreciate it. 
  3. Trying to do home improvements when you are homeschooling isn't always easy. I am in the process of collecting estimates for new floors in our downstairs. This week I had a laundry list of little items knocked out by a handy man and I feel better - a freshly painted front door can make you feel so much better!
  4. A certain little boy got ahold of my phone when I wasn't aware - when checking pictures for Collage Friday I found some of him... I liked the one he took of his eye. 

No Spend January is over, and now we're into February. I haven't made my personal challenge public, but I will share it with you at the END of this month. It's very personal and I don't want to report until I see how the month has gone. How's that for VAGUE?

Tell me about your homeschool style - what method do you prefer? Are you eclectic or a mixture?  

I'm thankful for the chance to come to this place each Friday and read so many encouraging words from all of you, and then visit your blogs and read about your weeks, too. It's my favorite time of the week. 

I do hope you'll join me!  

If you'd like to link, you can do so in a couple of ways:

  • Enter your link below. Be sure to link to your post with photo collages and link back to this post (or include the Collage Friday button on your blog).
  • Share your photo collage(s) on Instagram, FB, G+, or Twitter - use the hashtag #collagefriday so I can find you!



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    Response: Stacey
    homeschool site for printables, LEGO ideas, and music in your homeschool

Reader Comments (18)

We are a mixture. Unschooling, traditional and more...hard to pin it down. Each child learns differently and has different needs also. Cant wait to see what your February challenge was!

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermelissa newell

I still have romantic visions of all of us sitting around in the evening each quietly reading our own books. We have just a big problem with the "quiet" part! For some reason God decided to surround me with a bunch of kids who prefer to be outside running around or just making noise in general. Our quiet time during the day usually involves semi quiet play time, but we have started making one night a week "reading time". I'm not giving up hope that my children will come to enjoy books as much as I do. I have to admit when I see pics of your kids absorbed in a book it makes me a bit envious - in a nice way of course!! You are doing a fabulous job with your kids! When we were at Legoland this week and and watching Jonah trade his minifigs, I was thinking he and Grant would have had a great time together. Maybe next time??! Keep up the good work and I'm looking forward to your Big Kid series! Have a great weekend.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJen @ Forever, For Always

Oh, we're definitely eclectic, mainly mixing the styles of Charlotte Mason and some classical (and Montessori for the littles)! So far, it's working. :) We're enjoying our Zeezok music curriculum too….happy Friday!

Love, love this look at your happy, busy week of learning! The freehand drawing of the body are amazing. We are a true hodgepodge of learning. Incorporating many styles but with a classical backbone :)

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTricia

Hi Mary! I just love your posts so much. Thank you for taking time to share. I have three boys ages 8, 5, and 3. Two are in Classical Conversations so we use the classical model, mixed with traditional. I try so hard to incorporate interest-led and 'fun' things but it's hard for me. I know this is the age to just enjoy learning but I'm a structured person and feel I have 'boxes to check off' daily with school. I'm working on this! That's why your post today was so helpful. I'm also still trying to grasp that CC really is enough (with math). I still have other curricula (spelling, cursive, etc) that I use too and it feels like a lot to do, yet still not enough. MANY of your posts help me and apply to my life, so thank you! FYI, I actually found your blog because of a Lego post, not CC. Blessings to you!

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

We've recently transitioned from eclectic to unschooling, though we do still use a math curriculum.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterShelly

Thank you for telling about your weeks. I learn so much from them.

your posts always make me miss Classical Conversations - I wish it had worked out better for my son. (zero auditory learner). I would have loved to be homeschooled with CC curriculum!!

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStef Layton

I will have to get my hands on that book, When Hitler stole Pink Rabbit. We are concentrating on World War II for the rest of the year. I was describe our homeschool as a literature approach with lots of hands on activities. We do use work books for review and teaching of much of the basics. I could not imagine being limited to just one learning style.
Blessings, Dawn

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Mary, I appreciate being able to peek inside your homeschool to see how you are incorporating interest led with CC. We are a mixture of Classical/Charlotte Mason/interest-led. Just trying to make our way and find the best fit for us.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmy M

We are mostly classical too, but there are times we have to do something else, especially on sick days. It's true that one model doesn't always work every day. That's why homeschooling is so perfect for us. We can change our method based on the day.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterChristy

We're classical homeschoolers here and I would say we're fairly relaxed. I try to condense as much as possible so that we have lots of free time for other interest-led exploration, play time, handwork projects, and books.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTonia

I really enjoyed reading your post this week, Mary. I love seeing all that Anna is learning - what a thorough education she is getting. I would love to be able to draw the world or even one continent from memory! We love "aeroplane kisses" too. :-) And thank you for giving me the idea of getting a colouring book for my 8 year old to use while we read about the World Wars.
Enjoy the concert!

We are a mix too. I like to say we unschool because we don't do anything traditionally at all. Right now we are using the allinonehomeschool dot com website as our guide. Sometimes we add things, sometimes we skip others. We really like it. WE do a lot of reading, watching documentaries, the kids love art in general so we are busy all day long. We are also studying WWII and I watched a movie with my 11 y.o. daughter that was really good but grim: The Boy in striped pajamas. Check it out!

I do have a question and would love for you to do a post highlighting the BAD points of your homeschooling. There are days that my kids whine and school take forever and I have to use all sort of resources to get things done. Your posts always sound like everything is perfect and rosy. :) I know, it's not so! Would you mind sharing how it goes when your kids don't cooperate??

I didn't get my learning log for January done in time for this collage post, so I will wait to share until next week. In the meantime, my learning log for December is still up.

I love reading this Mary! Like you, we are not really just one style of homeschooler. My heart is mostly Charlotte Mason but there are spaces inside that are still unit study and a tiny but growing corner that contemplates unschooling to some degree, more tidal homeschooling than unschooling really.

The drawing things is so fun for some children! I have a few who enjoy drawing/diagramming/mapping/copying what they see and one who is absolutely paralyzed by the idea because theirs won't come out perfect. :)

I finally looked into CC Connected and it's way more expensive because we're not part of CC. (A month for a subscription to Foundations is $60, to Essentials is another $60, and to Challenge is $100; that is just ONE month). Here is what I'm wondering, how do YOU use CC Connected? What do you find on there? I tried to get a look at it but couldn't figure out where to go to really see any samples/examples. They just had a 1 page ad for each level.

February 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTristan

You have piqued my interest about your personal challenge! Can't wait to read about it at the end of the month!

February 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWonder Mom

I loved the drawings. And, I love that Anna is drawing free-hand from memory. The drawings are actually quite good. I don't know if you mentioned it, but this is a great way to incorporate art work into your curriculum. The more she draws the more confident her hand, eye and drawing will become - not just for studies, but for artwork. Bravo! And...just a P.S. on your "Big Kids" post: I, too, reviewed the curriculum of the Christian School and I also found it lacking in depth.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate Lyon

Thanks for this post! This is our first year using the classical approach and we've had a similar experience. Some weeks we do a lot relating to the memory work and other weeks we just memorize the facts. I really enjoy hearing how CC works with your kids.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBecky Marie

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