How the Make the Most of CC’s Challenge 1

Welcome to our Challenge 1 Page!

Our hope is that this series of pages becomes a great resource for CC families. We cover some of the more general info on other pages:

Table of Contents for This Page

  1. How to Grade Ch 1
  2. Logic (Math)
  3. Grammar (Latin)
  4. Research (Science)
  5. Reasoning (Formal Logic)
  6. Exposition
  7. Debate (Cartography)

I know there’s a lot of information here, but I’m going to try hard to use headings and bold lettering to make it easy to scan!


Help Contribute!

If you have some suggestions you’d like me to add here, please send them to me at: Julie (at) RidgeLightRanch.com


And now for some legal stuff

I try to use affiliate links whenever possible. So, if you use one of these links I may get a few pennies from it. However, the cost to you will be the same. I promise that I never choose what to suggest to you based on the benefit I might receive from it. You can learn more about our affiliate policy here.

Classical Conversations has asked me to tell you that “References to Classical Conversations do not constitute or imply endorsement by the company.” I’m guessing you knew that, but now we’re all on the same page.


I’m assuming you already read about how we do Classical Conversations and about how we do Challenge, where I cover:

I also want to remind you to also talk with your CC Director. This page is one mom’s advice and each CC group does things a little differently.

Now let’s move on to the Challenge 1-specific material!


Heads Up!

There are several projects all due on week 14 of 2nd semester: Individual Event (3-5 minute recitation), 10-15 page science research paper, Shakespeare project, Cost of Living project, and Stock Market presentation! Sit down with your student and develop some interim deadlines for each of them so they don’t sneak up on you!


How to Grade Challenge 1

I cover all the general information about Grading in Challenge on my general CC- Challenge page. I hope you’ll read that first!

For most students, Challenge 1 is their freshman year of high school. Since high school means transcripts, this might be the first year you’ve started formally grading. If so, please be sure to sit down with your student and explain what this spreadsheet is for and what it measures (it doesn’t exactly measure learning, as I mentioned in the Grading in Challenge segment)!

Within this Excel spreadsheet are two tabs- one for each semester. Each Subject below has some additional details on how I grade that subject.


1. Logic (Math) Strand

Whether you’re using Saxon Math or not, I think you’ll find some helpful stuff on my Math in Challenge page. I covered these ideas in more detail (jump over there to read about them):

  • Help your students understand the difference between “learning a new concept in math” and “math practice.” No one loves to practice…
  • Pick a math curriculum and stick with it!
  • Creating a Math Plan
  • When to use a calculator
  • Details on the use of Saxon Math

What to Purchase for Logic (Math)

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Just like other challenge levels- We include a few loose sheets of lined or graph paper.
  • If the director has asked students to come with sample problems, I photocopy a page from their textbook and the corresponding answer key page and have my son stick it in his binder for the days he forgets to bring a problem.

How to Grade Logic (Math)

Since most math curriculums include tests, it’s pretty simple to assign a grade. I like to also give points for completing daily work.


2. Grammar (Latin) Strand

What to Purchase for Latin (Grammar)

You don’t need anything new if you completed Challenge A or B. On the Challenge A page, I covered what to purchase and these ideas (jump over there to read about them):

  • Books you’ll need (you need the same purple and blue books)
  • Pronunciation (we downloaded Jone’s Audio files)
  • Answer Key (don’t use the White Henle book! We like Sheppard’s Answer Key)
  • Vocabulary Flashcards (we got ours from the FlashCard Lady)
  • Latin Grammar Cheat Sheet (I have a new one here for Ch 1- look below.)
  • Extra Latin Help (I love Magistra Jones’ Latin Companion. You’ll need Vol 1 and Vol 2 for Ch B.)

Pacing for Ch 1 Latin

The first semester of Latin covers the first 2/3rds (through Unit 8 or Lesson 29) of the purple First Year book. This is what you covered in Challenge B, just twice as fast. Then in the 2nd semester, you cover the last 1/3 of the book. So now you’re learning new material at twice the pace as last year, which was twice the pace as Challange A!

My older son and I rewrote the whole Latin schedule to work faster during the first semester and slower during 2nd semester. I appreciated the pace, but he did not like being so far ahead of the class! He’s very people-oriented (extraverted, competitive, all that…) so we ended up slowing down and falling back to the pace set in the CC Guide. Oh Well.

Latin Cheat Sheets for Ch 1

CC has a nice Latin Trivium Table, but I can’t wrap my mind around it. Somehow, it’s just not how I think. So, I made my own. I shared my Challenge A and my Challenge B Latin cheat sheets previously. Each year it gets bigger…

A few notes:

  • I include rule numbers and/or page numbers in Helne’s blue Grammar book and/or lesson numbers in the purple book First Year book, when applicable.
  • I struggle with the Subjunctive so I’ve included a segment on the subjective in the Noun/Pronoun file, since there was room there. This is the section of this chart that I’m least confident about! I’m not an expert and could easily have something wrong or missing in this section!
  • When you download this, you’ll notice it’s on several pages. I like to trim off the margins (so they are small enough to sandwich in between pages of my spiral notebook well) and tape them together so I can stand them up in front of me like the CC trivium tables. I alternate putting tape on the front and back so they accordion fold (they won’t want to fold in a way that tries to stretch the tape- I hope that all makes sense!).
  • The little symbols in the bottom left mean that you can share this with anyone as long as you are giving attribution, giving it freely, and not trying to make any money off it!

Coming Soon: Challenge 1 Latin VERBS Cheat Sheet for Henle First Year (CC Ch 1)

Coming Soon: Challenge 1 Latin NOUNS and PRONOUN Cheat Sheet for Henle First Year (CC Ch 1)

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Nothing at first. Throughout the year, the kids end up with some loose papers and we add them here.

How to Grade Grammar (Latin)

Henle Latin doesn’t have any tests, so I usually just assign points for completing the daily work. Since I work alongside my students I’m ensuring they understand it all as we go. As they get older, I would like to transition away from this time-intensive way of working… I know Memoria Press has quizzes for Henle Latin, so I’ll probably start using those soon.


3. Research (Science) Strand

Exploring Creation with Physical Science (Apologia)

We really enjoyed this strand! The students cover a primer on Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, and a few other topics, all from a Christian worldview. Every 2 weeks the students read a new chapter of the book, and complete a Study Guide quiz and a Chapter Test. In class, students discuss the concepts, complete experiments, and write in their lab journals. At home, students write the lab results into formal lab reports.

What to Purchase for Research (Science)

  • Exploring Creation with Physical Science Student Textbook: by Viki Dincher (Published by Apologia). You can purchase it as a traditional paper book (softback, full color) or the Kindle version. Be sure you’re using the same edition as the rest of the class!
  • Exploring Creation with Physical Science Solutions and Tests Manual- Unless you plan to skip all the tests, you need this!
  • Optional: Exploring Creation with Physical Science Student Notebook– We did not buy this, but others have told me that it has the weekly labs all typed up and will save your child tons of writing. It basically allows them to focus on doing the labs instead of copy work. it also guides students through HOW to take notes, which is a very helpful skill! We’ll probably get it when my younger son goes through Ch 1! Check out how Apologia describes it here.
  • Lab Journal: Your student can use just about anything for their lab journal. We used a graph paper composition book ($2-4 depending on sales) and it seemed to work great.
  • Optional: Audio version of the Apologia textbook – We really enjoyed having this to listen to as well. This allowed me to keep tabs on what my son was learning, even if he was completing most of the work on his own. Apologia had it on sale at Audible over the summer, so maybe watch for that.
  • Optional: The Students Lab Report Handbook by John D Mays. CC also recommends and we bought it but didn’t use it. My undergraduate degree is in science, so I could walk him through setting up a basic lab report without the book. Hopefully, we’ll use it in future years. Honestly, I didn’t put a lot of emphasis on lab journals and reports this year- I hope to next year, but I don’t want my son to hate science because of lab reports (a definite possibility for some).

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Notes from the book
  • Study Guide Quizzes and Chapter Tests
  • Typed lab reports
  • handouts
  • Research paper parent guide (available free from CC)

How to Grade Research (Science)

I graded the Apologia Tests and Formal Lab Reports. I gave completion points for completing:

  • Study Guides, (which my son completed on his own and then we graded them together)
  • Lab Journal Preparation
  • Lab Reports

4. Reasoning (Formal Logic) Strand

This strand shifts drastically between 1st and 2nd second semesters:

A. Traditional Logic I (Memoria Press)

After putting a lot of time into understanding Cannon Press’s Logic in Challenge B, I let my son do this entirely by himself. He said it was pretty easy and did great on the quizzes and tests.

  • We purchased 5 things: I gave my son the Text, Workbook, and Answer key (only includes answers to daily exercises from the text which he wrote out in the Workbook).
  • I held on to the Quizzes and Tests, and Teacher Key (answers to daily exercises, quizzes, and tests). So we didn’t really need the “Answer Key.”
  • This kit of the 4 things we needed would have been ideal.
  • We did not try the DVDs. (My son doesn’t like learning from a video, so I didn’t bother. Maybe I’ll try them with the next kid.)

B. The Taming of the Shew

I still don’t fully understand how this passes for “Reasoning,” but it was a very welcome reprieve during the more intense 2nd semester! Students read Taming of the Shrew several times and get a really solid feel for the story. Then they each pick a “Shakespeare Project” to complete. There’s a LOT of room for creativity in this project so the students seem to really enjoy themselves!

CC recommends a specific copy of The Taming of the Shrew, but on a recommendation from our director, we purchased the No Fear Shakespeare version of The Taming of the Shrew. My son liked it better and used it in class. he said it wasn’t a problem that most of the other students were using a different version. The CC version has line numbers, so just be sure to get a version with line numbers and your student should be able to stay with the rest of the class with no problem!

CC also recommends Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb. We never used it a single time, but I do see that it’s on the book list for Challenge 3, so maybe we’ll use it then?

What to Purchase for Reasoning

  • Traditional Logic 1 by Memoria Press Textbook, Workbook (consumable), and Answer Key
  • Taming of the Shrew. talk with your director and choose the version you like
  • Optional: Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb.

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Random handouts and notes

How to Grade Reasoning

  • For the 1st semester, we used the Memoria Press quizzes and tests.
  • For the 2nd semester, the only grades were for participation and the Shakespeare project.

5. Exposition Strand

Lost Tools of Writing (LTW)- American Literature

In Challenge 1, students are back to writing a paper every three weeks, like in Challenge A and the 1st semester of Challenge B. However, this year they are also reading additional books during the “off” weeks. They read 21 books in total- just for Exposition! Fortunately, many of them are available on audio on library apps, LibraVox, or Audible. If you’re so inclined, you could read or listen to the books that they do not write papers on over the summer.

Be sure you understand LTW and the fruit will start to show! I talked about this a lot more on the Challange A page and even gave you a free LTW printable!

As with Challenge B, students go back to Essay 2 when they begin Challenge 1. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this and I’m tempted to have my younger son begin Challenge 1 with Essay 6 or 7… I’ll let you know if I try it!

Later in the year, the students write a few comparison essays. I think it’s best explained by telling students that they are writing a persuasive essay with their ‘should’ statement being that the two things are similar or different.

Where to Find Each Challenge 1 Book

My older son loves paper and Kindle. My younger son loves audio. So I made a list of where to find each book in assorted formats.

Generally, the free places are LibriVox.com or the App, the Hoopla App, and the Libby App. Check with your library and see if they support both the Hoopla app and the Libby app. The selection of books will vary on each app and at each library! (Some of these are also on YouTube, but I’m not a fan of listening to books there.)

We also love our Audible subscription! and Kindle Unlimited. I’ve starred the places where the books are included in these memberships for free

Here’s where we found all the books:

  • The Sign of The Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • “The Pit and the Pendulum” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Stories by Herman Melville
  • Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott
  • Harvey by Mary Chase
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
    • eBook: Hoopla – Kindle
    • Audio: Hoopla – Libby – LibriVox – Audible
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    • eBook: Hoopla – Kindle
    • Audio: Hoopla – Libby – LibriVox – Audible
  • Born Again by Charles W Colson
    • eBook: Hoopla – Kindle
    • Audio: Hoopla – Libby – LibriVox – Audible
  • Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
    • eBook: Hoopla – Kindle
    • Audio: Hoopla – Libby – LibriVox – Audible
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick by Frederick Douglass
    • eBook: Hoopla – Kindle
    • Audio: Hoopla – Libby – LibriVox – Audible
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
    • eBook: Hoopla – Kindle
    • Audio: Hoopla – Libby – LibriVox – Audible
  • Self-Reliance and Essays on the Nature of Man by Ralph Waldo Emerson
    • eBook: Hoopla – Kindle
    • Audio: Hoopla – Libby – LibriVox – Audible
  • Walden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau
    • eBook: Hoopla – Kindle
    • Audio: Hoopla – Libby – LibriVox – Audible
  • Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlfin
    • eBook: Hoopla – Kindle
    • Audio: Hoopla – Libby – LibriVox – Audible

What to purchase for Exposition

  • All 21 literature books (see the CC catalog)- students will read them in the order they are listed in CC’s catalog. You do NOT need the same version CC sells. In fact, we mostly used a lot of thrift store finds and audiobooks from the library and LibraVox!
    • No, you don’t need CC’s Copper Lodge books, but some of their footnotes are handy!
  • The Lost Tools of Writing: Level 1 student and teacher books (hopefully you already have these from Exposition in Challange A or B)
  • Optional: CC recommends Words Aptly Spoken: American Literature. It looks helpful for Directors, but we never used it.

What Goes in the Binder?

  • A copy of my LTW charts (explained on the Challenge A page)
  • A set of page protectors, one per paper, with the corresponding rubric in it. My sons can then quickly slide papers in a pocket without having to 3-hole punch them (apparently an arduous task). When they are finished with the paper, they turn in the whole page protector with the rubric, paper, and worksheets/brainstorming sheets.

How to Grade Exposition

I grade each paper using my LTW checklist as a rubric but send them back for revisions until they are A-level work.


6. Debate Strand

First, let’s talk about the name, “debate.” There are a lot of theories on why CC named this strand (aka subject) Debate. However, rather than retell them all here, I like to just think of this strand as “Social Studies,” and then it all fits.

In Challenge 1, Debate is actually three separate things:

A. American Documents (1st Semester)

Students read from Words Aptly Spoken: American Documents, published by CC, which includes America’s most famous legal documents, speeches, essays, and poems. I usually ask my kids not to write in their books so we can reuse them and then sell them on ebay. However, for this one, I took CC’s recommendation and encouraged my son to mark it up and annotate it. I cringe when I look at his book now because that’s not how I would do it, but I’m so glad he is discovering his own way and I’m happy to buy his brother a new copy!

B. Economics (2nd Semester)

Students read Whatever Happened to Penny Candy, complete the questions in the Bluestocking Guide workbook, and discuss it in class. Then Students read The Money Mystery and discuss it in class. Students also participate in a stock market simulation where they invest fake money and try to pick stocks that will result in a net gain! Lastly, students complete a Cost of Living project. This can all be really low key or you can dive deep!

This has been my favorite part of Challenge 1. I took several economics classes when I was getting my MBA and then I taught Economics at the University of Phoenix for a while. I love the subject and I’m always fascinated when I read more on it.

However, these Maybury books kinda blew my mind! It turns out that all my economics education was strictly from the Keynesian school of economics, which is mainstream, (kinda like atheistic evolution is mainstream in the sciences). The Maybury books are all from the Monetarist / Austrian School of Economics. WOW! Google “Austrian vs Keynesian economics” and you’ll see what I mean. For some extra insight and laughs, check out these two Austrian vs Keynesian YouTube Videos:

My son and I went through all the Bluestocking Guide questions verbally and had many great discussions. I even purchased another book by Maybury to read! Even if you’ve never read anything about economics, I think you’ll enjoy these books!

C. Debate (both semesters)

Throughout both semesters the students learn the ins and outs of a Team Policy Debate and then conduct one debate each semester. My son is very motivated to do well at these types of events (public, competitive, and includes a teammate he doesn’t want to let down), so I stepped aside and let him work on his own. It feels like a lot of work for just two debates, but they get to do more debates in Challenge 2!

What to Purchase for Debate

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Summaries from American Documents
  • Lots of Debate notes!

How We Grade Debate

  • For the 1st semester, I gave completion points for the Annotations, Summaries, Recitations, Debate, and the 1930’s Presentation, which are assigned in the Guide.
  • For the 2nd semester, I gave completion points for the economics questions assigned, the Individual Events (recitations), the Debate, all the projects, and participation.

Other Helpful Resources


Help Contribute!

Now it’s your turn! Let me know how you make the most of Challenge 1!


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