Challenge | Classical Conversations | Printables

Strategic Tic-Tac-Toe Board Slam

By on September 9, 2019

My son discovered Strategic Tic-Tac-Toe on Cool Math Games when he was younger. It is such a interesting twist on an old favorite. When trying to come up with a new math game for their Challenge IV class, my son and husband collaborated with their class to take the traditional Board Slam (or National Number Knockout) and mash it up with Strategic Tic-Tac-Toe. The end result? A strategic twist on a fast moving number game.

Strategic Tic-tac-toe board slam

For a free printable game board, read to the end!

Board Slam Basics

Board Slam is a math game where you roll three dice and use math operations to calculate all the numbers on the board 1-36. You must use every number once and only once. This gives students great practice in manipulating numbers.

Not every combination of numbers will clear the board, but you can look up possibilities and solutions on this Board Slam Calculator. There are twenty-five combinations that do clear the board however, so there is a lot of variety with which to work.

For example, if you roll a 2, 3, and 4, you can combine them to form these equations:

  • 2 + 3 + 4 = 11
  • 2 + 3 + 40 = 6 (numbers to the zero power are equivalent to "1")
  • 2 + 3 - 40 = 4
  • 2 x 3 - 40 = 5
  • 42 + 3 + 2 = 21
  • 42 + 32 + 22 = 29
  • 42 + 32 + 23 = 33
  • 40 + 33 + 23 = 36

Now Add Strategic Tic-Tac-Toe

In the game Strategic Tic-Tac-Toe (or Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe), the first player starts in the center square. The position in the inner square that the first player plays sends the second player to that section of the larger tic-tac-toe board. To make a play, players have to formulate the number in the box to place their mark.

As play continues, the strategy starts to build. Traditional tic-tac-toe strategies don't work the same when you're playing on a larger board. As the board fills up, you can't just play where you want because you might send your opponent to a square where they can get three in a row.

Once a square is claimed, it becomes a wild square. If one player is sent to a square that is captured, they can choose any square to play in next. This would allow the other player to head to a square that they can gain three in a row.

Once they get three in a row, the square is claimed. The goal is to get three of the big squares in a row to make a super tic-tac-toe.

If you're still wanting a bit more explanation, check out this video:

Playing with a group

If you're playing with more than two players, this is also a great game to collaborate as a team. My husband had five students in his Challenge IV class, and the first few rounds of the game they played class vs. tutor. Eventually they shifted to three on three. This is a great way to cultivate team work as they work through different strategies and volume control! They can't give away secrets to the other team!

While it may take a few rounds of play to get the hang of it, the depth of the strategy becomes really addicting! You will want to play this all the time!

Download Your Free Game Board

Strategic tic-tac-toe board slam

Download your FREE STRATEGIC TIC-TAC-TOE BOARD SLAM GAME BOARD and enjoy a new twist to an old favorite math game!

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Challenge | Classical Conversations | Faith

How to Use Comparison to Enhance Bible Study

By on August 19, 2019

Of Aristotle's Five Common Topics, Comparison has always been the easiest for me. Perhaps it is because I grew up comparing things, whether good or bad, all of my life. This summer I led a seminar in using the topic of Comparison to generate ideas for an entire paper.

The topic of Comparison generates a wealth of ideas. Sometimes it is hard to get a conversation going about the Bible because as we get older we forget to wonder about the Bible. We've heard all of the stories before and so when we get to familiar subjects, we glance at them to see if they're still the same thing we know them to be, and then we move on. But what if you could slow down and wonder? Is there anything new to find in those old familiar stories?

Comparing Rahab and Zacchaeus

Our first character for comparison is Rahab, from Joshua 2. She is living in the ancient city of Jericho and works as a prostitute. When two spies arrive from Israel, she takes them in, hides them, and helps them escape. Her life is forever changed by this encounter.

Zacchaeus, a New Testament character who we meet in Luke 19, is a tax collector living in Jericho 2.0 about a mile south of the old ruins. I know him from the song we used to sing in Sunday school about him being a "wee little man", how he "climbed up in a sycamore tree" to see Jesus as he passed by, and how Jesus said, "Zacchaeus, you come down. For I'm going to your house today." His life is forever changed by this encounter.

How are they similar and different?

At face value, these two characters seem to have little more in common than a city name and a life change. When you work to find their similarities however, it really makes you consider how well you really know the characters, and it brings about a new sense of wonder.

In comparison there are three helpful categories to investigate as you look for similarities:

  • What do they both have?
  • What are they both?
  • What do they both do?

As you identify similarities you can also note how they are different in those areas. You can look for differences in two categories as well:

  • kind - is it a totally different type of thing
  • degree - is one better/worse than the other

So let's see what we can discover about these familiar Bible characters.

What do they both have?

I love the brainstorming process. This is a time when all ideas are considered and none are thrown out. One thing at a time. Once you have all of your ideas, you can start to weed out the weak from the strong. Right now, don't judge, just consider:

- High Vantage Points

Rahab's home was situated in the wall where she could see everyone who was coming and going. This gave her a place to watch for newcomers to the town, and it seems that she gleaned a lot of great information from her high perch. It makes me wonder how often did she sit and watch? What else did she know about the people coming and going from her city?

Zacchaeus, on the other hand, was just a short guy in the right place. He was curious about Jesus, but he couldn't see over the crowd. Thankfully, he was resourceful and spry because he found a nearby tree to scale. How old do you think he was? What was he wearing? Did he do this often?

- Wealth

Rahab's wealth is shown in a more subtle fashion through the fact that she has a house and stalks of flax laid out on the roof. This means that she had the basics provided for and seemed to be living a pretty comfortable life. Compared to the Israelites who had been wandering in the desert, she was doing pretty well. It makes me wonder, did the king pay for her place or if she was self sufficient?

Zacchaeus's wealth is evident to all. It is expressed in his short bio in Luke 19:2 - He was the chief tax collector and he was wealthy. It makes me wonder why was he looking for anything else? Didn't he have everything he needed?

- Homes in Jericho

We've already briefly noted this, but it is fascinating to me that Jericho, which is leveled in Rahab's story - actually the event that even gives Rahab a place in the Bible - is mentioned again in the New Testament. Why did someone rebuild this city? Who would name it Jericho even if the land was reused?

After a little bit of research, I found that God told Joshua to tell the people that whoever tried to rebuild the city would be cursed (Joshua 6:26). This came true when Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho in King Ahab's time (1 Kings 16:34). When we encounter Jericho in the New Testament, it is a buzzing Roman city where King Herod had built a winter home and eventually died (Encyclopedia Britannica).

So maybe this Realestate wasn't as much of an advantage for either Rahab or Zacchaeus as it seemed.

What are they both?

Our next category looks a little deeper into what kinds of people they are, but we're still just identifying the obvious. The deep epiphanies come when you least expect it.

- Workers of Odd Jobs

Let's face it: Rahab's job was not a career with a 401k retirement plan. She was a contract worker with a job that didn't generate respect from the Israelite religion. Yet, the spies trusted her. I wonder why.

Zacchaeus worked for the enemy. In the New Testament, the Israelites were now living under the thumb of the Romans, so a Tax Collector, while it was a lucrative and stable job, was not popular with the Israelites. Yet, Jesus sought Zacchaeus out and went to his house to eat with him. I wonder why.

- Robbers of Their Community

Even though Rahab's clients were willing participants, the act of prostitution robs the actors from the blessings of sex within the protection of a marriage relationship. It is no wonder Rahab was looking for help from the God of the Israelites.

Zacchaeus took money from people who did not wish to give it up. They were forced to give their precious resources to a regime they did not support. I wonder what sparked Zacchaeus' interest which led him to that tree on that day.

- Looked Down Upon

Both held occupations that did not generate esteem among their peers. One could make an argument that the city of Jericho was so corrupt that they esteemed Rahab as a prostitute, but the fact that the word "prostitute" is always attached to her name doesn't seem like a blessing.

When Jesus says he's going to Zacchaeus' house, the people all grumble around about how great of a sinner Zacchaeus is. Nobody likes him very much. I wonder what he thought about Jesus coming over to his house.

What do they both do?

Our final category for exploration is what do they both do.

- Pursue Truth

When Rahab talks to the spies, it is clear that she's been watching the God of the Israelites for some time. She's collected stories, watched for stagers, and seized the opportunity to seek out the truth. It's taken a long time, but then again her resources for accessing the truth were very limited. I wonder how long she'd been contemplating this idea.

Zacchaeus is actually fairly impulsive in his pursuit. It is more of a curiosity than a determined investigation like Rahab's. As a collector, it seems he's stumbled upon a richer pot than he imagined. I wonder if he realized the wealth he'd found.

- Take Risks

By hiding the spies, Rahab risks everything: her career, her life, and her family's lives. She was "all in" on the bet that God would win the battle against Jericho and she was willing to risk it all. I wonder how many times she's worked out the odds on this bet.

When Zacchaeus climbed that tree, he was really just improvising. He wanted a good look at Jesus, but from a safe place at a distance. Surely he didn't bet on Jesus walking up to him in that tree, calling him by name, and going home with him. I wonder if he realized the risk he was taking.

- Repent

In the end, Rahab leaves her life of prostitution to live with the people who serve the living God. She changes her ways, and ends up being known not for her sin but for being in the line of Christ (Matthew 1:5). She's commended for her faith (Hebrews 11:31) and righteousness (James 2:25). I'd say that she's changed. I wonder what her family thought of the change.

Although he's only mentioned in Luke, Zachhaeus has clearly repented since Jesus himself clearly vouches for him. Not only does Zacchaeus trust in Jesus, he also vows to give back more than he took from the people. He will no longer become wealthy at the expense of others. He's found the true source of wealth that will never perish. I wonder what his family thought about the change.

Lasting Impacts of Extravagant Faith

In my seminar with high school kids, they picked three similarities to attend to in their paper: both Rahab and Zacchaeus pursued truth, repented sins, and took risks. In the end they decided that Rahab had the greater faith and impact because of her place in the lineage of Christ.

What did we glean from this comparison? Extravagant faith impacts not just the person who is trusting God. Both Rahab and Zacchaeus impact the future of their immediate family, but additionally, their stories of faith are still being read today and impacting lives beyond their imaginations.

We don't make choices in isolation. Rahab and Zacchaeus are great examples of extravagant faith that we can follow.

Curiosity in Bible Study

We cannot let our familiarity or unfamiliarity with a Bible story shut down our wonder. Slow down. Consider the fact that these aren't just made up stores, but they are real people with real circumstances encountering a real God. It's powerful.

Each of these ideas sparked a new idea for wonder which could take your understanding of either one of these people to a richer and deeper level.

What do you wonder about?

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Bookish Life | Challenge | Classical Conversations

Challenge IV Resources & Ideas for Making A Memorable Senior Year

By on May 27, 2019

Not many make it to the final year of the Challenge program. Our son was old enough to graduate at Challenge III (just barely), but we opted to finish out the program, and we are so thankful that we did. Challenge IV is such an incredible year focusing on cultivating leadership.

The students really take charge this year leading three out of the six seminars: reasoning, literature, and debate. This gives them so many opportunities to practice those leadership skills.

Reasoning: Theology

Students read through most of the Old Testament and New Testament in the Reasoning seminar of Challenge IV. In addition, they're reading through some great books as they go including:

One of my all time favorite resources for reading through the Bible (and understanding what's going on) is the outline videos from the Bible Project.

Exposition - Ancient Literature

The exposition strand walks students through five ancient texts including:

Peter Leithart's book, Heroes of the City of Man, walks students through these texts while pointing always to the Christian truths and themes that flow through these pagan tales.

I also appreciate the worldview guides from Canon Classics. It's always great to have an additional source to lean on in difficult texts.

One of the first tasks to do in Challenge IV is to make a family tree or chart of the gods. Here are some resources that helped us understand that:

Students who had read the Percy Jackson series knew all of this information already and didn't have any troubles!

Debate - World History

In this seminar, students use Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers: A History of Man's Search to Know His World and Himself as their World History text.

They also have six speeches (some impromptu) in this seminar over the year. One helpful hint is to keep a timeline or reference list of the "discoverers" that are discussed and where you can find them in the book.

I found this two volume boxed set of The Discoverers at Half Price Books. It has beautiful full color pictures throughout that just enhance the text.

Tutor Led Seminars

The three seminars that are led by the tutor are math, Latin, and Physics. Although they are tutor led, there is still so much student discussion and participation that the richness comes from what the students bring to class.

Making the Senior Year Memorable

There are some major events that are included in the senior year that parents and tutors have to keep an eye out for. It's so helpful when parents partner with the tutor to help make them happen.

Senior Thesis Retreat

One of the options for students in the Spring Semester is to write a Senior Thesis. This is a persuasive paper that ranges from 12-20 pages in length. They get to choose their topic, research it, and then present it before a panel of judges to defend their stance.

In February, to encourage students to get a strong start on this project, and as a way to motivate them to keep pressing on in their Senior year, my husband and I took the class on a Senior Thesis Retreat.

I found an inexpensive Airbnb (which was easy because it was the off season for travel) and we took the class to Austin for three nights. It was really the highlight of our year.

The first night, to warm us up to discussing thesis ideas, we played Bring Your Own Book with the books they brought to research their thesis. This was such a fun way to play with the ideas they were thinking through in a lighthearted way.

We ate five meals at the lake house and so I assigned each of them as the star of the meal. During that meal their thesis topic was the focus of the group's discussion. This was a great opportunity to get to know their thoughts and heart behind the topic they chose and to help them think through challenging aspects of their idea.

We also spent one night out in Austin, TX just exploring the town and enjoying one another's company. This trip really solidified their friendships and made the final weeks of class really special.

Senior Thesis Night

The Senior Thesis replaces the Blue Book in the Spring Semester of Challenge IV. We had our Senior Thesis night the night before graduation. This allowed family members who had come into town for the graduation to attend both events.

Each student had thirty minutes of focused time on their thesis. Two judges stayed the same for all of the students and each student invited one judge to join them on their turn to present.

If you ever get an opportunity to attend one of these events, go to it! It was simply amazing to watch them stand and share their heart on a topic that was important to them.


Not every community hosts a formal graduation ceremony, but our group wanted one so we worked together to put one together.

Each student put together a table to represent their achievements over the years. This was a fun way for friends and family to get to know all of the students better. Some things we included on our table were:

  • Favorite books read throughout the years
  • Awards from academic and athletic achievements
  • Pictures through the years
  • Future plans (like college paraphernalia)
  • Objects that reflected interests (travel, gardening, wood working, music, etc.)

The students decided that they only wanted to wear the cap and not the gown. They also decided to keep the ceremony simple by allowing each student to have a slide show and then their parents to say one or two sentences as they presented the diploma.

This was a good thing, because nearly every parent that attempted to speak was quickly in tears. We were all so proud of our graduates!

Instead of having a speaker come talk to the graduates, our graduates gave the commencement speech themselves. They worked together to write a speech that talked about the importance of leadership. Each student wrote and delivered a piece of the speech. It was incredible to see the students expressing the joy of the education they had received.

I'm so thankful that we encouraged our son to finish out the Challenge program. His class was such a blessing to him. I know for certain that he's ready to be launched and that he'll be a confident leader wherever he goes - leading others towards truth, goodness, and beauty.

Looking for resources from another level?

Challenge A

Challenge B

Challenge I

Challenge II

Challenge III

Challenge IV

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Bookish Life | Challenge | Classical Conversations

What’s on my bookshelf: Challenge III Resources

By on May 20, 2019

The Classical Conversations Challenge III program is where the incredible fruits of the entire program just start to explode all around. With Shakespeare, poetry, and philosophy, this is one of my husband's favorite levels to tutor. This year looks into consequences of choices made in literature, American history, and so much more.

As with all of my resource book lists, these items are all optional. I'm also including some of my favorite extra adventures that we did with the class that really made this year special.



Challenge III shifts the literature reading from 18 books in Challenge II down to 5 Shakespeare plays. This allows students to really dig into the plays. They read together, discuss the stories, and memorize lines to present to the class.

My absolute favorite resource is Peter Leithart's book, Brightest Heaven of Invention. He walks readers through the plays and explains the structure of the work as well as spiritual themes that run through each one. This is a required reading for students, but for parents, it would be a great way to stay connected to the reading with your students and offer great conversation starters for discussing these big ideas further.

Shakespeare Movie Nights

One of our favorite things to do included hosting Shakespeare movie nights. I got the idea from The Pioneer Woman and we found it a fun way to build community while getting a better idea of what was happening in the plays!

Much Ado About Nothing is a really fun play to start with watching together. Watch out for about the first ten minutes though...the group is cleaning up to welcome the soldiers and there is a lot of joyful showering that is completely unnecessary! We used a science fair board to cover the screen until the scene passed.

Julius Caesar was a little difficult to follow, but what really helped was reading a summary before we watched it. This helped us track with the story line.

All of the boys loved Henry V and the battle scenes. Kenneth Branagh happens to be very involved in bringing Shakespeare to life, so it's funny to see him again as a different character.

We did not watch Macbeth together. There aren't any versions of that movie that aren't rated R. We did watch an animated version that was pretty creepy. This animated cliffs notes will give you an idea of why that might be the case.

Fun with Hamlet

At the end of the year, students are given the option to stage a mock trial for Hamlet. They get to put him on trial to argue whether he was crazy or a murderer.

We also didn't watch Hamlet for a couple of reasons. The first was that the Kenneth Branagh version of the movie, which is excellent for the most part, has a flashback of Hamlet and Ophelia's romantic relationship that would not be presented in a stage play. Without that visual imagery, this movie is incredible. Maybe if you had a clear play DVD player...but we opted out.

The other reason that we didn't watch the movie was that my son's class decided that instead of doing the mock trial, they'd create a dramatic presentation of Hamlet for our community. By not watching the movie, this gave them dramatic license to creatively express the story in their own way.

This was the highlight for the class this year, and such a great way for them to work together on a project.

Other Shakespeare Books on My Shelf

Ken Ludwig's How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare has been one of my favorites even though I've never read it all the way through. It brings out the beauty of the language in an approachable way.

I also love any any of the DK reference books. They do a great job of summarizing information and giving students a great resource for researching more.

These little Shakespeare children's story books are a fun way to get a basic idea of what will be happening in the play. We always start here.

Then we read the Charles and Mary Lamb version of the play to get another layer of familiarity with the characters before we dive into the full Shakespearean language.


The other element of exposition in Challenge III that really enhances their writing is the poetry emphasis. Students work through Roar on the Other Side: A Guide for Student Poets and write poetry throughout the year.

At the end of the year they can put together a poetry anthology, or a formal physical presentation of their poetry. My son used Blurb to put his together and it was a beautiful keepsake for his work.


While the reading volume goes down in the literature department, it increases in the history department, but this is a great shift.

American History

To give you a little bit of perspective on the depth of A Patriot's History of the United States, the Audible form of the book has a running time of 55 hours and 43 minutes. Pause for a minute and take that in. While it is a lot of reading, it is a really great read.

We enjoyed listening to The Intellectual Devotional: American History during morning time with the family when my oldest was working through this study.

One of my favorite American History resources is The Landmark History of the American People by Daniel Boorstin. He writes in a very interesting way and helps add perspective to the topic that can be great for enhancing conversations.

Throughout the semester, students write papers and present speeches on the topics they're reading. I loved having Joy Hakim's series on my shelf for researching purposes. I've found this whole set used over the years, so I didn't pay the full price of a new set.

Study Tips

One thing that my son did that really helped him keep the stories straight was to create an "important events" journal. For each chapter in the book he picked two or three major events to summarize. This worked well for preparing for speeches that he had to give as well as just helping him process the material he was reading.

Lincoln-Douglass and Team Policy Debate

The skills of formal debate are continued to be practiced and cultivated in Challenge III through a Lincoln-Douglass debate in the Fall like Civil disobedience in a democracy is morally justified, and a Team Policy debate in the Spring like The United States federal government should substantially curtail its domestic surveillance.

My absolute favorite resource for debate is the Debate Trivium Table. This gives students the order of each of the debates, tips on the importance of each section of the debate, and explains the stock issues that will help them win their arguments.

I also love the Rhetoric Trivium Table as they move into more presentations. This helps them work through the five canons of Rhetoric to make their presentations memorable.


The Chemistry study in Challenge III looks at consequences from a scientific perspective. Every week students are working through labs in class and discussing their results.

Although some of the labs were extremely short, if students had read the module and come with their lab books ready for the experiment, the conversations were greatly enhanced. Looking at the cause and effect patterns in the labs will only be understood when the at home assignments were completed.

Periodic Table Helps

One really helpful tool is knowing and understanding how the periodic table flows. Some great books on my shelf include:

Math in Chemistry

Stoichiometry is the math that will make or break your Chemistry study this year. Students must attend to the language of this math in order to find success in Chemistry. Kahn Academy has a great Stoichiometry series that students can watch to help them through their studies.

Here are some other online resources that you might seek out for help in this department:

Chem4Kids - Reactions: Stoichiometry

Stoichiometry and Balancing Reactions

How do you solve a stoichiometry problem?


This is always one of the students' favorite seminars.


The first semester centers around The Consequences of Ideas by R.C Sproul. There is a whole video series that corresponds with this book that is fantastic. You can access it here, on RightNow Media, or you can get the DVD free here!

Students walk through the beliefs of different philosophers over the years.

As always, I like to have additional resources at home to have another point of reference if a certain philosopher is confusing.

One of the books that used to be in the Challenge I curriculum is Sophie's World. This is a fun introduction to philosophy as it is told in story form. This would be a great summer read in preparation for the semester's studies.

I've also collected a few dictionaries of philosophy from used book sales to keep on the shelf. There isn't a specific one that I just love, but I really like having multiple resources especially in something like philosophy.

Logic & Socratic Dialogues

In the second semester, students take on Advanced Formal Logic and begin to apply the skills they've been learning to actual writings. One of the challenges they face is finding good articles that express the types of syllogisms they're studying. Here are some great options:

They'll also be digging into Plato's Meno which asks the question: what is virtue and can it be taught. The students write a paper on this topic, which ended up being my husband's favorite all time paper from any of his challenge tutoring days. He also put their papers together into an anthology with Blurb to give to them as a gift.


In Challenge III, students finish up Henle's Second Year Latin book in the first semester and move on to Henle's Third Year Latin book in the Spring. They finish up translating Caesar and then move on to translating Cicero.

The vocabulary can be a little more challenging because it moves away from the war terminology. The footnotes are very helpful for keeping up with the new vocabulary.

Also, don't forget how helpful the answer key can be. Since this is a speech, it is good to read how the answer key translates the arguments.


If you're using Saxon, I think the biggest help is knowing how the pace you choose can relate to your student's high school transcript. First of all, it is good to note where you get that Geometry credit.

Since it's incorporated in with Algebra, you get ½ of the Geometry credit when you complete Algebra II, and the other half when you finish the first 60 lessons of Advanced Math. This also leads to a question about pace.

If you're wanting your student to take Calculus, you'll want to work to complete the Advanced Math book in their Challenge III year. If you're not that ambitious, you can slow down your math pace and take two years to complete the Advanced Math text book. This is what we chose.

Here are some more thoughts on Saxon Advanced Math on the Transcript that I found very helpful.

Challenge III

By the time most students reach Challenge III, they will be driving and have jobs. This will be the most challenging aspect of their year: how do they fit it all in. While the workload seems to decline a bit, their rhetorical assignments (think presentations) ramp up. It can be difficult to juggle it all.

Always keep in mind that as the parent, you have a vision in mind for your student. Work together with your student and their tutor to make sure that the choices that you guys make together fall in line with that vision. Trust the process and enjoy the fruits of your laboring together.

Looking for resources from another level?

Challenge A

Challenge B

Challenge I

Challenge II

Challenge III

Challenge IV

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Bookish Life | Challenge | Classical Conversations

What’s On My Bookshelf: Challenge II Resources

By on May 13, 2019

The Classical Conversations Challenge II program is one of my favorites. With British literature, artists and composers, and Socratic dialogues, I feel a bit indulgent as a tutor to walk through these studies with students. I love that many of the things I collected from my Foundations years are revisited in Challenge II. It is a year of contemplating choices, and it is rich with great content.

As with all of my resource book lists, these items are all optional. Sometimes, in order to wrap your head around something, you need a little more help. So here are my helps for Challenge II, strand by strand.


We're finally promoting to Henle's Second Year Latin book. This is exciting and scary. Not all students make it through the first year book, but that's okay. If they've mastered the concepts through Lesson 26, they can move on to the second year book.

However, they shouldn't fully retire that purple book. There isn't a whole lot of explanation of concepts in the second year book, so you'll want to refer back to the first year book to fill in the gaps.

In the second semester, you start translating some of Caesar's conquest of Gaul. We struggled some in this work because the story was so unfamiliar to us. I found this English translation of the work super helpful for tracking with the ideas!

Latin with Andy also has resources for all of the lessons in Henle 2, along with vocabulary sheets, flashcards, and other great resources!


Western Cultural History

Walking through Francis Schaeffer's book How Should We Then Live, students gain an understanding of how the philosophies of the day are expressed in the arts.

"Art is a reflection of God’s creativity, an evidence that we are made in the image of God."

Francis Schaeffer

The video series that goes along with the text is available on Amazon Prime. I have the DVD set to watch in class, but this is great for families to watch together at home and discuss.

Another great resource I've gathered over the years are the Picture Portfolios by Simply Charlotte Mason. I love having these large, full color versions of the paintings to enjoy observing together for all of those comparison papers they'll be writing!

Along with these pictures, I've collected a variety of books that give additional background information on the artists. These books are great resources for cultivating great discussions in the classroom.

Policy Debate/Lincoln Douglass Debate

Another aspect of the Debate strand in Challenge II is actual policy debate and Lincoln Douglass debate. My very favorite resource is the Debate Trivium Table.

It includes such great information about the flow of a debate, the purposes of each part, and what to watch for (stock issues).

In the second semester, students are introduced to Lincoln Douglass debates which focus on debating morals. One of the topics they can debate is whether one should risk their life for art. This is a great topic as they've been immersed in the study of the arts all year. Some excellent movies that help walk students through this idea are The Monuments Men and The Rape of Europa.


Oh my favorite subject! First of all, if you haven't seen my Challenge reading trackers, you need to find those and print them off. There are so many amazing books to read in Challenge II that parents will want to dive in with their students!

Socratic Circles

I introduced my Challenge I students to Socratic Circles at the end of the year. This is an amazing way for students to discuss a book together.

Basically, we had two circles of students: an inner circle (the discussers), and an outer circle (the observers). I set a timer for ten minutes and allow the inner circle to discuss the assigned reading using open-ended questions like the ones on my conversation placemat.

The outer group has one person in the inner circle that they focus on to assess their participation in the discussion. I printed the first sheet of this resource for them to use as a scale for assessment.

What ends up happening is that the inner group focuses harder on having an excellent conversation because they know that they're being watched. The outer group focuses on listening well because they know that they'll have to assess the inner group.

Once the timer is done, the inner group is quiet, and the outer group tells their partner what they did well and what the most interesting addition to the conversation that they heard. They also get an opportunity to share what they would have added to the conversation.

Then everyone switches places, the timer is set for another ten minutes, and another conversation starts. This has been such a great way to deepen conversations and whet the appetite for more. I've found they don't want to stop discussing once they've tasted good discussion,

Here are some other options for socratic discussions:

British Literature

There are so many great books in the line up for Challenge II. Some of them can be daunting though, so I love having some of these fun abridged versions that help students get the idea of the story before tackling it.

Movies are also a fun way to enjoy the books, however, I believe that this is only a good option after you've read the book! As these stories get more "adult" you should always check out the movie's reviews before watching it with the whole family!

Worldview Literature Guides

I love the Worldview Guides from Canon Press. I have a couple that walk through the books we read this year:

Another one of my favorite thinkers is Peter Leithart. He has some excellent resources for Jane Austin novels including a glimpse into the morals written into the stories, and a biography of the author herself. Leithart's writing challenges me to think at a deeper level. I love that.


As a Challenge director, this seminar requires the most expensive supplies. Thankfully, our community has had a few years of Challenge II classes to build up a good stash of the basics to build off of. The labs are all done in community, so if you're not a director, you don't need any of this.

We opted for one microscope that connects to a computer for logging our work.

The other microscope is basic without the extra features, but it does the job well.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, getting the perfect specimen on a slide is nearly impossible. I love having these prepared slides for backup.

I like to use Carolina Biological Supply company for my specimens and tools for dissection.



In Challenge II, students take on Advanced Formal Logic and begin to apply the skills they've been learning to actual writings. One of the challenges they face is finding good articles that express the types of syllogisms they're studying. Here are some great options:

Plato's Dialogues

In the second semester, students read through and discuss Plato's dialogue: Crito. Basically, Socrates has been convicted of polluting the minds of youth in the previous dialogue, Apology. While he's in prison awaiting his execution, Crito, his good friend, shows up to try to convince him to escape and save his life. It's a really fascinating discussion.

As far as this goes, I've found that the more of Socrates dialogues I've read, the more they build on one another. They're short and pretty easy to understand (surprisingly). This is a fun seminar which yields great discussion.

There are so many great branches of study in Challenge II. I look forward to digging into them again with my next round of students.

Looking for resources from another level?

Challenge A

Challenge B

Challenge I

Challenge II

Challenge III

Challenge IV

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