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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Classical Conversations | Essentials | Foundations | Home School Resources | Latin Helps | Printables

Latin with Andy Code Breakers

By on July 29, 2019

When we started making Latin videos for Latin with Andy in 2017, we had no idea what we were in for! We have learned so much on our journey, and we're excited to share a new branch of the Latin with Andy resources: Code Breakers.

Andy had the opportunity to work with some younger students and loved seeing how quickly they picked up on the concepts when they imagined they were breaking a code. In truth, they were, because that's what translating is: code breaking.

So we've come up with a way to share the basics of the Latin language in a fun and manageable way for our younger friends to get their feet wet without drowning in the abyss of Latin grammar.

Code Breakers Videos

The best part of this resource is that all of the videos are FREE to watch on YouTube, or you can find them all organized here!

LWA Code Breakers consists of five longer lesson videos, each followed by six shorter videos that break up the main ideas into small bites to practice. At the end of each video, students are rewarded with a little outtake clip that we had way too much fun making.

Along with these videos we've created Video Companion Guides (a free download) and Daily Practice Worksheets to purchase for $10, which will transform these videos into a more formal curriculum.

LWA Code Breakers Supplemental Materials

This 88 page resource includes worksheets that take students step-by-step through the concepts presented in the Lesson overview video. They break the work down into quick, easy steps to start building those Latin muscles without wearing them out.


In addition, extra helps are included which give teachers an overview of what is introduced in each lesson, as well as a lesson plan for completing the material in a year, a semester, or even a week, depending on the age of your student.


The final aspect of this resource includes a full color answer key for teachers who aren't familiar with Latin to help walk their students through the basics with success. It can be intimidating to lead someone else down a road you haven't walked before. Answer keys are a great tool to help you get where you want to go!


Who Could Benefit from Code Breakers?

4th - 6th Graders

We recommend that a student has had some formal English grammar study. So if you're in Classical Conversations, they could start Latin with Andy Code Breakers along with Essentials, or even better, after their first complete year of Essentials.

7th and Up

Anyone preparing for a more intense Latin course like Henle Latin could benefit from working through these videos. Think of it as an on-ramp where they can get up to speed without going from zero to sixty in a blink.


Parents who would like to know how the Latin memory work transfers to their student's future studies could get a grasp of the importance and value of really learning that well.

So what are you waiting for? Check out the videos and get excited about Code Breaking with Andy!

Purchase your Latin with Andy Code Breakers Supplemental Materials here:



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Crafts | Faith | Printables

4 FREE Inspirational Coloring Sheets

By on June 24, 2019

I love the pace of summer. Even though we generally have a variety of different events that mess up the routine, the overall pace of summer is restful. The sun slows me down, invites me to soak in its goodness, and reminds me of God's faithfulness.

Sometimes we need reminding of these truths that seemed so obvious to us at one time. I've shared some coloring sheets before because I love the way that they help one meditate on ideas. When you're creating something lovely that speaks of something beautiful, your soul responds to the harmony it hears. Here are four coloring sheets to encourage your soul!

I Am Worthy

Often we don't feel worthy of much, and that is true because we can't bring anything good to the table without God working through us. We often miss God's goodness, however because we decide that he can't use us because we know how lacking we are. It's that law of protection that rejects someone first before you get rejected. It doesn't work in God's economy though.


Oh How He Loves Me

The reason that we can trust Him is because of His great love. His love isn't dependent upon our performance, because he loved us before we were lovely. His love is relentless, reckless, and reliable. We can learn to trust Him more as we ponder His great love.


Bloom With Grace

Learning to trust is a bumpy road. There will be many missteps along the way that can tempt us to turn away. However, if we allow God's love to grow in our hearts, we can show ourselves grace as he works the impurities out of our lives. It is a process that requires much grace.


God is Love

Our relationship will continue to grow as we learn that our mistakes are not bothersome to our God. He's not impatient or harsh. He's not waiting for us to learn our lesson, but he's calling us to a relationship. It's his nature because God is love. Isn't that a glorious thing?


Enjoy these free coloring sheets and remember the beautiful truths as you make lovely art!

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Challenge | Faith | Family Life | Printables

Creative Graduation Gifts that Come with a Blessing

By on May 6, 2019

My husband is tutoring my son's Challenge IV class in Classical Conversations this year, so we're full on in graduation season. I tutored this class for a couple of years and my husband has had them for the last three, so these kids seem like family to us. As I thought about what I'd like to give them as graduation gifts, I thought it would be fun to bless them with some wisdom for their journey.

You could pick and choose from any of these ideas and throw in a gift card (or cash) to bless your graduate. Make sure to read to the end where you can find a printable version of these words of wisdom to add to your gift.

1. Reusable Bag

When life gets heavy, remember you don’t have to carry it alone. 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

As they walk out into the "real world" they can feel invincible until life comes and knocks the wind out of them. It's good to remember that Christ didn't ask us to follow Him alone. He gave us His Spirit and the church. Community is such a blessing for bearing burdens.

I found these cute reusable shopping bags at World Market for the girls, but I got the boys drawstring backpacks.

2. Hot Drink

When the heat turns up, remember that God never wastes suffering. 

"Taste and see that the Lord is good."

Psalm 34:8

When you think about the transformation that happens when you dip a tea bag into hot water, you can see how God can turn a difficult situation into something unexpected.

Hot drinks are the favorites of our coffee-shop loving kids. We opted for hot chocolate with a fun twist and hot tea. World Market has some really unique options!

3. Coffee Mug

Coffee is never just coffee...every pursuit can be to the glory of God or man. 

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

1 Corinthians 10:31

It's easy to get distracted by plans and goals and miss the people that God places in your life. Having coffee with friends can be an opportunity to "unearth holiness" as Eugene Peterson calls it in Godspeed.

There are always cute coffee mugs everywhere. We picked the earthy glazed option from World Market.

4. Highlighters

You’ll focus on what you highlight. 

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

Philippians 4:8

This is true for everyone. If you practice highlighting the lovely things God brings your way, you'll be surprised at how God will bring those stories back to mind in conversations.

5. Extra Gum

Always go the extra mile.

"If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."

Matthew 5:41-42

Servant leadership is rare these days. This can apply to any of their pursuits as they launch out on their own. Professors and employers will notice this and reward the effort.

6. 100 Grand Candybar

No matter how much money you have, the real prize is not found in your bank account. 

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Matthew 6:19-21

Our world often tells this tale very differently. When people ask what my kids want to do when they grow up, it is generally assessed by how finically lucrative the career will be. Money isn't the only measure of success.

7. Nerds

Nerdy is in the eye of the beholder. 

"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'”

1 Samuel 16:7

Trying to be what others think you ought to be is generally what gets people in trouble. I love that God looks beyond the outward appearance and sees the beautiful creation that He designed.

8. Index Cards

Notice godly character in others and pursue relationships with them

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry..."

James 1:19

This goes with the idea behind the highlighters. If you seek out people with godly character, you'll find a group that will help you run the race of faith with integrity.

9. Sour Patch Kids

When you hit a sour patch in life, consider it joy. 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

James 1:2-4

My son's class was especially fond of Sour Patch kids, so this one had to make it into their basket! This can be the hardest challenge they'll face in the next couple of years. Often, things do not work out as expected. The difference is how you respond to those hard times.

10. Ramen

Desperate times do not call for desperate measures. Trust in the Lord. 

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.'"

Luke 12:22-24, 31

I'm not as much of a fan of classic college ramen as my teens are, so they might not think it's a desperate time to have this as a staple in their diet. Worry, however, is something that we all seem to hold onto without any problem. So if they can think of trusting in the Lord every time they eat ramen, that would be a great reminder.

11. Thinking Putty

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. - Albert Einstein 

"On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me."

Psalm 63:6-8

My kids love thinking putty. I love how playing with it reminds me of meditating on scripture. Thinking through God's word transforms your mind which transforms your life.

12. A Good Book

Harry S. Truman said, “not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” 

"Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up."

James 4:10

I always love a new book to read. This is a great way to remind them that education never ends. It will be something that they will pursue for the rest of their lives. Here are some great options:

Graduation Gift Basket

I found a fun little storage basket at Target that fit all of the treasures.

It looks really fun when you use some of those clear basket bags with a cute tag. I picked these globe luggage tags as a fun way to encourage them as they go explore the world.

Grab the printable here to add these wisdom messages to your graduation gifts.

I cut some of my brown paper roll down to 8.5x11 size to put in my printer. It worked really well!

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Bookish Life | Challenge | Classical Conversations | Printables

Free Summer Reading Tracker for CC Students

By on April 15, 2019

As we're wrapping up the school year, I generally start looking at what's coming next and looking at how to keep the learning going. We've participated in many summer reading programs over the years with our local library, and that got me thinking about new fun ways to track our reading. Combining my love of coloring and bullet journals, I came up with these fun printables for you to use as a summer reading tracker for your CC students (moms too)!!

summer reading tracker

Why Summer Reading?

I always dream of keeping the learning going over the summer. I dream of getting school accomplished in the mornings and playing in the afternoons. As good as that sounds to me, the uncertainty of the summer nearly always cancels my plans. Truthfully, I'm thankful for this. It is important to live a full life with friends and family.

So summer reading is really one of the best ways to continue pursuing learning while loving those around us. Getting a head start on the CC book list also helps to take some of the burden off the reading load in the school year as a Classical Conversations Challenge student. (Pro tip...the books are listed in the CC catalog in the order in which they're read throughout the year).

summer reading tracker

Summer Reading Tracker

Really, these could serve as an anytime reading tracker, but I'm hoping that they will motivate me and my kids to pursue some of the books that we'll discuss in the next school year over the summer.

Last summer, I read some of the books with my kids and took notes as we read so that we could remember what we read. It was so helpful for my youngest who was entering Challenge A. I like to prepare my new to Challenge students to ease the transition. She listened to the books again during the school year on Audible. It worked really well!

summer reading tracker

So this summer I wanted to continue our reading progress with a fun summer reading tracker. I've gone through the Challenge program reading list and created a coloring sheet of sorts to color along as you make progress in the book.

I printed them on full sheet sticker labels and then cut out each book. This way we can add the sticker to our bullet journal and track our progress as we go.

summer reading tracker

Free Summer Reading Tracker Printable Download

Okay friends...let's get serious here for a second. This download includes 70 images:

  • 6 Challenge big picture stickers to track how many of the books you've completed

64 book covers :

  • 10 books in Challenge A
  • 5 books in Challenge B
  • 19 books in Challenge I (with two optional reads - The Witch of Blackbird Pond and Old Fashioned Girl - check with your tutor on those)
  • 18 books in Challenge II
  • 5 books in Challenge III
  • 5 books in Challenge IV

The stickers are about 2 ½" X 3" and each one is numbered based on the number of chapters in the book. If a particular book happens to not have chapters, like The Old Man and the Sea, I've numbered it based on the number of pages in the book.

The only restriction on this download is that you don't make some kind of legalistic activity out of these! If you find you want to color the designs in a different order than numbered, DO IT! Enjoy it! There is no right way to use this!

reading tracker for bujo

End of Year Gifts

I'm so excited about these fun little treasures that they're going to be my end of year gifts for my Challenge I class! I found some cute journals at Costco and some washi tape on sale at Hobby Lobby.

I'll print off the pages that feature the Challenge II book covers (um....there are 18 books to read in Challenge II), and gift them some inspiration for getting a head start on next year's reading.

end of year gift

These would also be fun to gift your kids with a set of new markers or colored pencils to encourage them on finishing the year strong.

So what are you waiting for?! Download your fun summer reading trackers for your CC students and get busy reading!

summer reading tracker free download

Happy reading, coloring, and bullet journaling!

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