How to Make the Most of CC’s Challenge A

CC Challenge A curriculum

Welcome to our Challenge A 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 Challenge A
  2. Logic (Math)
  3. Grammar (Latin)
  4. Research (Science)
  5. Reasoning
  6. Exposition
  7. Debate (Cartography)
  8. Artsy Fun
  9. Other Resources

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! I also made a simple printable checklist of what you need as you prep for Challenge A.

Help Contribute!

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

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 A-specific material!

How to Grade Challenge A

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 A is their 7th-grade year. Since the student is not in high school, you may not need to grade at all. However, I think it’s a good idea to grade at least a few subjects, so your student isn’t shocked when high school rolls around. However you use this spreadsheet, I think it’s a good idea 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

Yes, I try to use both names, “Logic-Math,” so my sons get accustomed to the new term- especially in Challenge A, when it’s so new! In the second semester, when they start reading The Fallacy Detective, it’s going to be hard to remember that Logic=Math. In Challenge B, when they are learning formal logic, it’s even harder- so just call it “Logic-Math” from the beginning!

2024 Update: CC has introduced The Math Map. My kids are older and I know next to nothing about it! sorry!

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)

  • Your favorite Math curriculum- the Guide gives assignments for Saxon 8/7, but you really can use any curriculum you want!

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Just 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

Yes, again, call it “Grammar-Latin.” It’s the best way I know to get our students used to the new vocabulary.

I have a lot to tell you about Latin but please don’t let that scare you. I think once you take the time to understand how Henle Latin in organized, you’ll be comfortable using it and it won’t seem so scary.

Plan on spending 1 hour on Latin each of your 4 school days. By the time an hour is up, your student’s brain is probably ready for a rest, even if you all aren’t finished with the day’s assignments. You’ll cover about the first 1/3 of the book in Challenge A, the first 2/3 of the book in Challenge B, and the whole book in Challenge 1. So, you’ll see all this again (remember that mastery comes through repetition)! However, you’ll move slower in Challenge A, so do your best to make the most of the slower pace- it probably won’t feel slow.

What to Purchase for Latin (Grammar)

  • Henle First Year Latin Textbook (aka: the Purple Book)
  • Henle Latin Grammar book (aka: the Blue Book)
  • An Answer key- (There are several to choose from- More info below)


  • Optional: Latin flashcards and audio files (More info below)
  • Optional: Cassell’s Latin dictionary (we use ours every once in a while, but the back of the purple book has a decent one)
  • Optional: CC’s Latin Workspace A (we did NOT like it, but some people do!- More info below)
  • Optional: CC’s Latin Trivium Table (we found this too confusing and made our own- link to the free download below)
  • Optional: Extra Help (Henle can be hard and there are MANY ways of getting more help! – More info below)

Henle Latin Books

Henle Latin has been around for a long time. I’m a little surprised the publisher hasn’t reformatted it with bigger font, more white space, and clear organization… but such is life. Be prepared to customize your Henle books!

When we sit down together to work on Latin this is what my student needs: Purple Book, Blue Book, his blank spiral notebook, and his Latin cheat sheet (like a Trivium Table)

Henle Latin books

CC sells a Latin “Workspace” workbook for each challenge level. We used the Challenge A Workspace the first year and decided we didn’t need it. Now we do all our work in a spiral notebook. We like the spiral notebooks that have a pocket so we have a place to store our cheat sheet (see below)

Each student needs their own purple “First Year” book and blue “Grammar” book. I like to have my own copy as well. (I’m determined to get over my fear of languages by learning Latin with my children and it’s nearly impossible for two of us to look at the tiny font at the same time.) I recommend you take both books to Office Depot and have them cut off the binding and spiral-bind them. Otherwise, it’s really hard to try to get them to stay open. We had a clear cover added to the front and back as well!

The blue Grammar book is a list of all the Latin grammar rules, all in one place, you’ll use it in Challenge years A through 4! People sometimes will tell you to look at a certain page and sometimes at a particular rule number, so watch out for that!

The purple “First Year” book is your main curriculum. It’s divided into 14 units (You’ll only do units 1-3 in Challenge A). Each unit has several lessons. Each lesson has one or more numbered sub-lessons. The new grammar and vocabulary are sprinkled throughout each lesson. Here’s how we mark up our books with erasable colored pencils (since a highlighter would bleed through):

  • Purple: unit header, lesson header, or sub-lesson number
  • Green: new vocabulary
  • Blue: new grammar concepts or rules
Marking your Henle Latin Book

Latin Answer Key

Henle’s white Answer Key assumes the teacher already knows some Latin, so it only includes the answers to the “harder” questions. This was NOT enough for me. I wanted answers to absolutely everything! I found Kathy Shedphard’s Henle 1 Answer Key and I LOVE it! It covers the whole Henle 1 book, so it will be all you need through Challenge 1. You can download the PDF, or save the link to the file in Google Docs. (It’s 500 pages, so I don’t plan on printing it!) From GoogleDocs, you can view it on your phone so you have one less book. Plus, you can add comments or questions and she ANSWERS YOU!!! Pure gold I tell you, pure gold!

Flash Card lady Latin cards

Latin Vocabulary Flashcards

Students learn A LOT of new vocabulary words each year of Latin and you’ll need aa plan for how they’ll do this. What methods of memorization worked well for your student in year’s past? What do they enjoy?

Some people prefer using Quizlet. If you do this, be sure you’re looking at a Henle Latin list, so you’re learning the same words.

We enjoyed the printable vocabulary flashcard download from The Flashcard Lady on Etsy. Some people like to write their own and I think it’s a great learning activity, but no matter how much handwriting practice I give him, my older son’s writing still looks a bit like chicken scratch. Buying these color-coded printable cards was absolutely worth it to me! Full disclosure, it took time to print, laminate, and cut them out, but I was being very picky. You can also purchase them already made and she’ll ship them to you.

Whatever you use for flashcards, be sure they have the extra info printed on them:

  • When you’re memorizing nouns, you’ll want to also memorize the gender and declension. For example, when you memorize that Terra = Land, say “land: terra, terrae, 1st Feminine”
  • When you’re memorizing full verbs, starting in unit 3, you’ll want to also memorize if it’s transitive or intransitive and the conjugation. For example, when you memorize ‘praise’ say, “praise: laudo, 1st transitive.”
    • Mid 2nd semester, as you learn irregular verbs, you’ll need to say all 4 principal parts. For example, when you memorize ‘assemble’ say, “assemble: convenio, convenire, conveni. conventum, 4th intransitive.”

Latin Pronunciation

We do quite a bit of work verbally. In addition to reviewing the flashcards out loud, we do a lot of the Latin-to-English translations verbally. In order to help us learn to pronounce the words correctly (at least according to one system of pronunciation) we also often listen to the Word List audio files from Magistra Jones.

Latin Cheat Sheets

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 like making tables like this- it really helps me understand the material better! This cheat sheet shows the noun and adjective declensions, pronouns, and verb conjugations we learn in Challenge A. I hope it helps you out! (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!). I’ve expanded this chart each year, so I have more complicated ones on other challenge pages, but I think it’s really helpful to start with something simple like this!

Extra Latin Help

I have heard great things about Latin with Andy, Jam with Latin, and many others. However, I wanted a book I could read and not a video. I was given a copy of Magistra Jones’ Latin Companion. I loved it so much that I just bought the next 2 books aw the years went on! She explains each Henle lesson in a slightly different way than Henle, allowing me to really grasp the concept. I don’t make my kids read this (although I’d be thrilled if they did). Instead, I read it on my own before or after I sit down with them. However, it’s written in such a way that students could easily read it!

How to Scale Back Grammar (Latin)

If you find that you’re falling behind in Latin, I suggest you switch to completing 1/2 the work by translating every other sentence. Some exercises don’t number each sentence. In those cases, we numbered them ourselves and translated every odd-numbered sentence.

Translating English-to-Latin is a lot harder than translating Latin-to-English, but you learn so much more too. So don’t skip the English-to-Latin translation exercises, just do fewer sentences if you need to.

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

The Research/Science strand is broken into 3 sections: Natural Science, Science Fair, and Biology/Anatomy.

A. Natural Science

This should be a fun unit for the students! They get to pick a topic, research it a bit, and write a report on it. They can use books you have on hand, library books, or online resources. You can have your students write an IEW style paper, or just have a key word outline on an index card. Ask your director what they’ll be doing in class.

SAMPLE! Here’s a sample paper that my oldest wrote about the Arizona Tiger Salamander when he was in Ch. A. Even though we took out all the markers, you may notice he wrote an IEW-style paper. He’s a pretty natural writer and enjoys writing, so if your student isn’t like that, you’ll probably want to scale the papers down to a single paragraph.

Hopefully, your student will want to sketch whatever they researched! If your student is overwhelmed by the idea of drawing, have them trace an image instead! We can learn soooo much when we trace! As an artist myself, I have so much I want to tell you about tracing, but I’ve already said it all on the Tracing is Amazing page, so check it out!

B. Science Fair

Your guide lays this all out for you. Just remember, Science Fair is NOT about playing around doing science experiments. It’s about the scientific method, the report, and the presentation. If you’d like your student to be curious and try stuff, start that long before science fair time (like over the summer)! Once the Science Fair unit arrives, it’s time to buckle down and follow instructions.

One of the hardest parts of the Science Fair is finding a project where you truly can control ALL the variables but one, so keep that in mind as you plan!

C. Biology/Anatomy

Once again, your guide has all you need!

Students will take Biology in Challenge 2, but it doesn’t have hardly any anatomy, so this is a great little unit. Still, don’t worry if they miss some here. (Most traditional schools don’t do ANY anatomy, although they often have a health class, which has a bit of anatomy).

Trace and draw the body systems, label them, and watch a few YouTube videos about each body system each week.

In class, many communities will do some dissections of animal parts (my son was super fascinated by the eyeball!) toward the end of the semester! If your child is a bit squeamish, view some dissections on YouTube prior to the live dissections. This often helps students get accustomed to the sights before they are accompanied by smells!

What to Purchase for Research (Science)

  • Tri-fold poster board (I think everyone uses these for Science Fair)
  • Optional: CC’s Nature Sketch Journal (we just used a spiral notebook and loose paper instead)

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Each week they are adding their homework and such to the binder.

How to Grade Research (Science)

  • I used my IEW rubric (more about this on my Essentials page) to grade the science research papers at the beginning of the year.
  • For Science Fair, I split the work (and points) between Preparation, which is the work the guide suggests students do before Christmas, and Presentation, which is the work they do after Christmas.
  • For Anatomy, I had my son turn in his best labeled drawing and complete a quiz (matching terms and labeling a diagram) for each system.

4. Reasoning Strand

Each challenge year has an easier strand. In Challenge A, this is it! The Analogies for All of Us book is simple and straightforward. The Fallacy Detective (did you know there’s an audiobook of this?) is easy and fun!

Proverbs 25

In the Analogies for All of Us book, the students will look at Proverbs 25 (NKJ) during the first semester. If you choose to do this, we have some items to help:

What to Purchase for Reasoning

  • CC’s Analogies for All of Us Book
  • The Fallacy Detective (workbook edition)

What Goes in the Binder?

  • We just put the Proverbs 25 handwriting sheets in here

How to Grade Reasoning

  • During the first semester, I graded the Analogies for All of Us workbook.
  • During the second semester, I gave my son the test in the back of the Analogies book as his grade. It’s pretty easy and both kids scored very well.

5. Exposition Strand

Visual of 5 common topics

In Challenge A we start Lost Tools of Writing (LTW). For anyone who just finished Essentials, where we use the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), it’s an abrupt switch! I tutored Essentials for 4 years and I love the IEW curriculum, but it focuses on structure and style- not content. LTW focuses on content!

  • In the “Invention” segment of LTW, students learn how to use the Five Common Topics to brainstorm ideas
  • In the “Arrangement” segment, students learn about new elements they should include in their essays, like the thesis, enumeration, division, proof, and amplification.
  • In the “Elocution” segment, students practice adding style to their essay (similar to IEW’s “dress-ups” and “decorations.”)

In my own quest to wrap my head around LTW, I created some tables and forms. Everyone I’ve shared them with has found them helpful, so I’ll leave them here with you!

Free Download: Lost Tools of Writing Overview and Checklist/Outlines

(The little symbols in the bottom left mean that you can share this will anyone as long as you are giving attribution, giving it freely, and not trying to make any money off it!)

This file also has the Checklist-Outlines I created for my sons. I print one of these off for each essay they’re writing and put it in a high-capacity sheet protector (which supposedly holds up to 100 sheets of paper!). The outline helps them know how to write their paper. The checklist shows them what else I expect them to turn in with their paper. As they complete their Invention work, they slide their worksheets and papers into the page protector. When the essay is finished, they add their final paper to the page protector and turn the whole packet in to me.

I know there are some different opinions on this, so I’ll explain that I tell my kids that the purpose behind this assignment is to defend one position. It doesn’t have to be their own personal belief.

Where to Find Each Challenge A Book

My older son loves paper and Kindle. My younger son loves audio. Our library had each book in assorted formats. 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! We also love our Audible subscription! Some of these are also on YouTube, but I’m not a fan of listening to books there.

Here’s where we found all the books:

*Included free in a paid Audible membership or a Kindle Unlimited Subscription

What to Purchase for Ch. A Exposition

  • The 10 novels (see above)- 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 audiobooks from the library and Audible!
  • The Lost Tools of Writing, Level 1 set (we used this a lot at first and then rarely used it after we caught the gist of it)
  • Optional: CC’s Words Aptly Spoken: Children’s Literature (we rarely used ours)- It has comprehension questions and discussion questions, but no answer key. So, if you need an answer key, look elsewhere.

What Goes in the Binder?

  • A copy of the charts above
  • 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 the above checklist as a rubric but send them back for revisions until they are A-level work.

6. Debate/ Cartography Strand

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

Oh, I have sooooo much to tell you about Cartography! I love this strand and I’ve put countless hours into making it easier for you and your students! Here are the main things I have for you:

Cartography video course

What to Purchase for Debate (Cartography)

  • CC’s Exploring the World Through Cartography book (Students read out of it each week, but any atlas type book could substitute in a pinch)
  • Optional: Anyone Can Draw the World PDF or Video Course (my shameless plug!)

What Goes in the Binder?

  • I have my son keep the PDF instructions for the region he is currently learning behind this tab. The rest of the instructions are in a big binder on the bookcase.
  • I also have my son put all the maps he draws in or behind this pocket tab divider.

How We Grade Debate

I had my son turn in his best map for each region (all the points or none) and had him take cartography term quizzes for his grade.

7. Now Let’s Add Some Artsy Fun!

Beyond Cartography, which I told you all about above, Research (Science) will offer a bunch of great artsy opportunities! Here are some of my existing lesson plans that will coordinate great with the Natural Science unit:

8. Other Helpful Resources

I found these other resources very helpful!

  • Challenge Planners from Amanda Craig and Andrea Salzman (free with a suggested donation)- These break down the guide’s weekly work into daily work.

Help Contribute!

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

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