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Cycle One Mommy Reads

This will be my fourth year {officially} homeschooling and with Classical Conversations. And now that I'm past the initial concern that I'll screw up this whole thing, I'm committed to totally enjoy this journey we're so blessed to navigate together. This will be my second time through Cycle One and I'm HERE. FOR. IT. I'm committed to exploring and adventuring through the amazing content in all of the best ways. I am particularly excited to dive in and experience Ancient History with my kids!

Of course, there are a ton of great books geared toward kids out there, and we homeschool moms are rockstars at collecting them. Check out my Usborne Books and More Cycle 1 Matchup here for an awesome list of fantastic books, and message me for how to get your homeschool momma discounts

To enhance the experience EVEN MORE, this year I've decided to compile a collection of MOMMY reads, too! I asked my awesome fellow homeschool moms for their recommendations, and have dropped them into an excel sheet here. These books have NOT been vetted in any way by me. It's purely a list of IDEAS to pick through as we wade through Cycle 1. My goal is to supplement my teaching experience with personal reads (both fiction and non) that give me new insights and appreciation for the time periods we are studying. 

Do you have ideas to add to the list? I'd also love to hear your recommendations for podcasts and documentaries! Drop them in the comments or send me a message! 


Get the Best Deal on Books

I know I am biased and all, but Usborne Books & More really does have some FAN.TAS.TIC opportunities to stock up on books! Today I'm here to take a minute to break down the options for grabbing the best deal on books!

Join Group: Are you in Buck & Chuck’s awesome literacy group yet? It’s basically where I drop the fun activities we’re doing in homeschool and peeking inside aaalll the Usborne Books. It’s also where you’ll get exclusive access to special deals and giveaways. You can hop in here

Host a Party: Fun get together with friends + free books. What’s not to love? At our online parties, your job is to invite your friends and spread your book-lovin' enthusiasm. I do the rest! My average hostess earns over $200 in free and half-priced books! Contact me via Facebook or Text (847-595-1858) to ask about hosting! 

Bulk Stock Up: This is my favorite deal for moms who want to really bulk up their library quickly! I use this deal myself every year when I’m ready to buy my books for the next Cycle in Classical Conversations.

When you spend $375, I get to give you 33% off and FREE shipping (another 8% off).  It sounds too good to be true, but I assure you IT’S THE REAL DEAL. The order must be placed through me (not on  the site) so shoot me a text or message me here to get started on your order! 

Host a Virtual Book Fair: Are you a part of a homeschool co-op, private preschool, or other group that would LOVE to have a book fair for their organization? Virtual book fairs are all online,  catered to your group, and so fun! Host has the choice of offering a stack of FREE books to the organization (preschool classroom, for example) or offering a steep discount to all attendees (great for homeschool moms!). Message me for more information! 

Become a Book Lady In my three years as a book lady, I’ve earned over $5000 in free books and have bought many many more with my awesome discounts! Our library is BEAUTIFUL and I am SO grateful for how it’s molded the reading culture in our home! To learn more about Book Lady Life, visit the website here, or text me so we can chat! 


Five Fantastic Homework Helpers You'll Love!

Back to School is my total, absolute jam. As a teacher, I loved getting all ready for Back to School. As a homeschool mom, I'm even more swoony over the time of year. And having complete access to Usborne Books amplifies the giddy-factor by about a million. 

I get asked ALL OF THE TIME for my top recommendations for Back to School and homework helpers. This question is nearly impossible to answer, but I've compromised and am bringing you my TOP FIVE SERIES you should definitely consider for your home!

Each of these has a fantastic variety of subjects to fit your families' specific needs, and they're all listed & linked below for your convenience! :) 

For access to sales and discounts, tips and encouragement for raising readers, to follow along on Buck & Chuck's homeschool journey, and to get regular peeks inside all UBAM has to offer, make sure you Join our Literacy Group by clicking here!

And now, five homework helpers you'll love!

1. Lift-The-Flap Everything!

Lift-the-Flap are MA.GI.CAL and Usborne Books has perfected the art of combing a fun, engaging activity with the opportunity to reinforce aaalll of the necessary skills for success. Lift-the-Flap allow your kids to practice their important new concepts without feeling like homework or drills. The colors and flaps are inviting instead of overwhelming and intimidating like so many boring and dry worksheets; and the motion of the lifting flaps actually helps the brain reinforce learning! My kids can sit and lift these flaps for an impressively long time, and they're actually interested in the questions and answers! Click on the photo to see inside!

Here are just SOME of the subjects you can get in this awesome format. Some subjects are available in multiple styles for a variety and age levels, and some are available in Spanish! Click to see these:

2. Encyclopedias

In an era of the internet, I am a firm believer that every home should have quality encyclopedias. Unlike just anybody posting on the internet, encyclopedias provide quality, reviewed content by authors and publishers held accountable for the information they put out there. Usborne encyclopedias are incredibly well-designed, contain magnificent photography as well as information presented in bite-sized chunks! This makes the content accessible to young readers instead of intimidating or overwhelming. Our encyclopedias are also internet-linked! This means there are links or QR codes provided throughout the book. When followed, they will take your student to safe, reviewed websites with even more fantastic information on whatever subject they desire! Click on the photo to see inside!

Check out the variety of encyclopedias at your disposal. Geography, Science, and History are available in paperback as well:

Animals | Children's | First Human Body | First Science | First Seas & Oceans | Geography | Science | World History | World Religions | Or Get our Popular Collection of three hardback encyclopedias!

3. Dictionaries

These aren't just your old Websters Dictionaries. These are the most beautiful, helpful, necessary to all families everywhere MATH AND SCIENCE dictionaries. Believe me when I say: these things come in handy. FOR REAL. They are so well written, with verbiage and explanations that will help either your CHILD navigate their homework on their own, or help YOU as the parent be able to explain tricky ideas or remember concepts you've long forgotten! They're full color and beautifully illustrated for inviting, appealing adventures through the worlds of math and science.

4. Activity Books

Usborne Activity Books are TOP NOTCH. They are creative and engaging to keep your kiddos interest, but also rigorous and thorough, to be sure they're getting impressive practice! The workbooks are consumable (one-time use), but have LOTS of great pages for practice. The wipe-clean are great to use over and over again! 

5. Writing Tools

Writing is a difficult skill to master. Good writing requires creativity, structure, and an extensive vocabulary - all endeavors that can be intimidating to overcome. Our Write Your Own series is fantastic for developing these necessary skills in a FUN, low-stress environment. They give your kids the freedom to create and explore writing while simultaneously gaining incredible skills in organization, vocabulary, and imagination! I HIGHLY recommend also adding a thesaurus to your wish list. My personal favorite is the Not-Your-Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus! 

Bonus: Wrap-Ups & Palettes

More like toys than homework helpers, the Learning Wrap-Ups and Palettes have become a STAPLE in our homeschool. We use them DAILY! My kids think they're fun, they are a great way to get a little movement in, avoid the fine motor skills my son despises while still getting in INCREDIBLE practice. They are simple to use, self-check, and cover a wide variety of skills (including reading, math, Spanish and music theory! 


Classical Conversations Cycle 2: Usborne Books

Are you ready to stock up on Classical Conversations Cycle 2 books from Usborne Books & More? Below you'll find handy dandy lists of my absolute favorites, my top picks for each subjects, and VIDEOS to peek inside EVERY TITLE LISTED!! (Don't forget to PIN IT!)

I can get your books DISCOUNTED or FREE! MESSAGE ME and ask how!

Join our Literacy Group to follow along on our CC Homeschool Journey, keep up with all things Usborne Books, and be a part of a community of people RAISING READERS!


If you don't pick up ANY OTHER books for the year, or you want to keep it as simple and streamlined as possible, I recommend our ENCYCLOPEDIAS! Click here to peek inside this stack. 

These encyclopedias have fantastic photography, are well laid-out, full of great info without being overwhelming, and are internet-linked!! They are absolute must-haves for every home.

The top three encyclopedias here are sold as a set in HARDBACK, or you can buy them individually in hardback or paperback. 

The Medieval World Encyclopedia is included IN the World History Encyclopedia!


All of these math books are fantastic. In our home, we use the Lift-the-Flap REGULARLY as part of our math practice. The activity books are engaging, bright, creative, and perfectly challenging! Peek inside this entire stack here

(Activity books also available in Fractions & Decimals, Adding & Subtracting, and Telling the Time)


If I had to pick just one of these, it would totally be the Lift-the-Flap (an obviously favorite in our home!) It's fun to explore, full of info, and still a great map reference! Peek inside of them here


Each of these Bible Story Books are fantastic in their own right. I love the Illustrated Bible Stories because of the fantastic, bright illustrations. I love the Book of Bible Stories because it's a dual reader. Dual readers have TWO levels of text, one for beginners and one for more advanced -- an absolutely perfect pick for shared reading! Click here to peek inside!


We are particularly excited about history this year! What a fantastic line-up of studies! From this stack, I recommend definitely grabbing the Timelines of World History book. It will be a great reference for ALL THREE Cycles! I also highly recommend the World Wars book. It is sooooo well done, perfectly written for a variety of ages, and loaded with beautiful photography!


If we're talking the Renaissance, we can't skip Shakespeare! My favorite book in this stack is Complete Shakespeare! EVERY PERSON needs this book! It is an abridged version of ALL of Shakespeare's plays, written in modern English. These are great for introducing his works before moving on to complete and original versions. Peek inside here!


Definitely, absolutely, without question. GRAB THE Not-Your-Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus!! Thank me later. Look inside the enter stack here!

(Note: The photo here needs to be updated, but the list corresponds with the full video!)


I am so surprised at how much use we've gotten out of this stack of books! They're great for all three cycles and all incredibly well done. The First Book about the Orchestra was a fantastic intro for my five year old this year. We also spend a lot of time with the Lift the Flap Art book.

Art Treasury is my personal favorite, because it teaches about artists and then teaches the reader to create art using the same techniques! Informative and fun!

(Listed are the Cycle 2 artists/musicians you can find in each book)
First Book about the Orchestra
Famous Composers: Dvorak, Brahms, Beethoven, Classical, and Romantic
Art Treasury: Degas, Monet, Van Gogh
Famous Artists: Rembrandt, Degas, Monet, Van Gogh
Famous Paintings: Rembrandt, Gainsborough, Degas, Monet, Morisot, Van Gogh
Lift-the-Flap Questions and Answers about Art


Narrowing down my favorite in this stack is near impossible. They ALL get a lot of use in our home! The pocket books are probably pulled out most often. Otters, Snails and Tadpole Tails is an EXCELLENT book of poetry that I cannot recommend highly enough!!

If you're only grabbing one thing from this stack, I would pick one of the science dictionaries. The Illustrated Elementary Science is thorough, beautiful, and written in a very accessible but informative manner. The Illustrated Dictionary of Biology is a staple for any home. Consider grabbing the Illustrated Dictionary of Science (not shown here), which is a combined volume including Biology book as well as the Physics and Chemistry versions!


We have SO MANY great space books that they needed a category of their own for sure! Again, I could make a case for every book in this stack, but if I were forced to pick just a couple, I would say our two personal favorites are Look Inside Space and Big Book of Stars and Planets

Decide for yourself by peeking inside here!


Cousin Camp: Greek & Roman Gods

This year, we started our official Homeschool adventure. It's a place I thought (and swore) I'd never be, but here I am. Homeschooling my two kiddos. What's better is that my sister-in-law has decided to embark on the same journey. Just another incredible way these four cousins get to do life together!

One of the benefits of raising our kids together, and being on a similar homeschool journey, is that we get to support each other in really fun ways like Cousin Camp! What is Cousin Camp, you ask? Well, it's basically an opportunity to dump our kids on the other aunt so we can have a day to ourselves. (Let's pretend I'm kidding).

I got to take on the first Cousin Camp of the year, and we chose to dive into Greek gods and culture, to support our current history topic in Classical Conversations. I divided the day into half an hour chunks, alternating lesson/activity time with play time (aka "you run out your energy while I transition" time). This day turned out to be SO MUCH FUN! Here's what the day looked like:


We started out the day gearing up in our togas. The girls weren't interested at first, but the boys were... liberated (need I say more?). Ha! We sat around for a bit, flipping through our Ancient History Encyclopedia and soaking in the awesome photography & illustrations. We talked about what looked familiar or interesting, and then discussed the role and importance of the gods in ancient cultures.

We charted the Greek & Roman gods that we are memorizing in CC, discussed each of their divine realms, and then made up motions to represent them while we sang our memory song!

Craft Time

I originally had no intention of including a craft in our day, but I saw this brilliant & simple idea on Pinterest and couldn't pass it up. It was an excellent way to learn a little bit about ancient Greek & Roman cultures, and an even better way to keep their hands busy while I read aloud to them!

The kids love this craft! All four sat for a good 30 minutes working diligently on their wreath crowns. While they worked, I read aloud The Odyssey (obviously an awesome abridged version for kids). I was impressed at how well this story was retold to be appropriate (and engaging) for young children. See inside that book here

Lunch & Rest Time

During lunch, I continued our read aloud. Then we followed up lunch with Disney's Hercules (thank you, Netflix). I'm pretty sure this was a first for all of them, and they loved it! Beckett was so entertained and kept coming upstairs to fill me in on what was going on. Hercules for the win!

Greek Architecture

After the movie, we busted our encyclopedia back out and flipped open to the page about architecture. We used the images to evaluate what we noticed about the architecture and discussed the impact the Greeks had on architecture. We followed it up with another awesome Pinterest find!

First, I let the kids stand on paper cups to see how easy they crumpled beneath them. Then we build towers based on the Greeks' strategy. The kids predicted that our structures would not hold, and were initially intimidated to even stand on them, but they were VERY pleasantly surprised to find those paper cups could hold quite a bit when used correctly! They spent quite a bit of time, and ALL of the cups, seeing how high they could stack their structures, and were THRILLED to learn that even TWO of them could stand together!

It was a great end to a fantastic day!

Classical Conversations Cycle One Usborne Book List

African Patterns to Color
The Maya
Mexican Patterns to Color
Native American Patterns to Color
See Inside Exploration & Discovery
Who Were the First Native Americans?

10 Days to Multiplication Mastery
99 Math Puzzles
100 Logic Puzzles
First Illustrated Math Dictionary
Illustrated Dictionary of Math
Illustrated Elementary Math Dictionary
Learning Wrap-Ups Multiplication
Lift-The-Flap Measuring Things
Lift-The-Flap Sizes & Measuring
Lift-The-Flap Times Tables
Math Puzzle Pads
Measuring Things Activity Book
This is NOT a Math Book
This is NOT Another Math Book
Times Tables Activity Book
Times Tables Practice Pad

100 Things to Know About Science
365 Science Activities
First Encyclopedia of Science
Illustrated Dictionary of Science
Illustrated Elementary Dictionary of Science
Lift-The-Flap Questions & Answers About Science
Science Activities Volume 1
Science Activities Volume 2
Science Activities Volume 3
Scientist Academy
The Story of Science
Usborne Science Encyclopedia
Usborne Children's Encyclopedia

1,000 Things In Nature
1001 Animals to Spot
Above & Below
Animal Detective Activity Book
Animal Sticker Book
Animal Trivia Questions
Color & Pop Up Animals
Bear Grylls Extreme Planet
Big Book of Big Animals
Big Book of Big Sea Creatures
Dangerous Animals Activity Book
Deadly Animals
First Sticker Book Nature
Illustrated Dictionary of Biology
In the Jungle Coloring Book
Lift-The-Flap Questions & Answers About Nature
Look Inside the Jungle
My First Reference Book About Nature
My Very First Animals Book
Mysteries and Marvels of Nature
Night Animals
Outdoor Book
Poisonous Animals
Polar Worlds Acitivity Book
Rain Forest Masks
Rainforests to Color
Reptiles & Amphibians Coloring Book
Secrets of Animal Camouflage (Shine-A-Light)
Secrets of the Apple Tree (Shine-A-Light)
Secrets of the Rain Forest (Shine-A-Light)
Secrets of the Seashore (Shine-A-Light)
The Great Animal Search
The Great Wildlife Search
The River
Undersea Life to Color
Usborne World of Animals
Vet Academy
What's Above?
What's Below?
Wild Survival Activity Book
1001 Bugs to Spot
Bees & Wasps
 Big Book of Big Bugs
Butterflies & Bugs
Butterflies Coloring Books
Caterpillars & Butterflies
First Sticker Book: Bugs
Pocket Book: Insects
Young Beginners Bugs
Baby Animals
Dangerous Animals
Farm Animals
Horses & Ponies
Night Animals
Pocket Book: Birds
Pocket Book: Mammals
Pocket Book: Ocean Animals
Pocket Book: Predators
Pocket Book: Reptiles
Tadpoles & Frogs
Woodland Creatures

 Eggs and Chicks
Baby Animals

100 Things to Know About Food
Book of Growing Food
Gardening for Beginners
How Flowers Grow
My Very First Question & Answer Lift-The-Flap: How Do Flowers Grow?
It All Starts With A Seed: How Food Grows
 My First Book About How Things Grow
 My First Reference Book About Food
My First Reference Book About How Things Grow
Science With Plants
Secrets of the Vegetable Garden (Shine-A-Light)
See Inside Where Food Comes From
The Wild Garden
My Very First Question & Answer Lift-The-Flap: Why Do We Need Bees?
Wildflowers to Color
Wipe-Clean Garden Activities

Bear Grylls Extreme Planet
Lift-The-Flap Questions & Answers About Our World
Look Inside Our World
My First Reference Book About Our World
My Very First Our World Book
Pocket Book: Natural Wonders
Scientist Academy
Secrets of Our Earth (Shine-A-Light)
Usborne Science Encyclopedia

First Encyclopedia of Seas & Oceans
Planet Earth
Look Inside Our World
Under the Sea
Usborne Geography Encyclopedia
Usborne Spotters Guide: Rocks & Minerals

Around the World Mazes
Atlas & Jigsaw Puzzle
Bear Grylls Survival Camp
Big Picture Atlas
Children's Picture Atlas
Flags of the World to Color
Flags Sticker Book
Here & There
Lift-The-Flap Picture Atlas
Look Inside Our World
Map Mazes
Planet Earth
Sticker Picture Atlas of the World
Survival Skills Handbook (Maps & Navigation)
Usborne Geography Encyclopedia

Big Picture Thesaurus
First Illustrated Grammar & Punctuation
First Illustrated Thesaurus
First Thousand Words in Latin
Grammar & Punctuation
Illustrated Grammar & Punctuation
Not-Your-Everyday Illustrated Thesaurus
Tell Me A Story
Wipe-Clean Starting Grammar & Punctuation

1000 Doodles
A Year in My Life
Awesome Doodle Pad
Big Doodling Book
Big Drawing Book
Book of Drawing, Doodling, & Coloring
Book of Drawing, Doodling, & Coloring: Blue
Book of Drawing, Doodling, & Coloring: Red
Delightful Doodle Pad
Drawing Animals
Drawing Cartoons
Drawing Faces
How to Draw Fairies & Mermaids
I Can Draw Animals
I Can Draw People
 Make Your Own Comics
My Beautiful Room
My First Big Book of Doodling, Drawing, and Coloring
Step-By-Step Drawing Book
Step-By-Step Drawing Animals 
Step-By-Step Drawing People
Wipe-Clean First Drawing
Write & Draw Your Own Comics
 Recorder for Beginners
Art Activity Book
Art Treasury
Book of Famous Artists
Book of Famous Paintings
Children's Book of Art 
Complete Book of Art Ideas
Lift-The-Flap Art
Lift-The-Flap Questions & Answers About Art
Famous Artists Sticker Book
Famous Paintings Cards