Don’t Work Too Hard at Intentional Integration


Book lists, lesson plans, and projects are all great to have on file ready for when you or your littles want to dive into a specific topic you’ve been learning about through the memory work.  But, one of the great things about classical education, is that you don’t have to spend time intentionally creating or drafting plans around a subject.  Through the very approach and nature of the teaching, your children will integrate the information they’re learning. Not sure you believe that yet? Here are some GREAT examples shared by other CC mamas of moments when they’ve witnessed their littles have a “lightbulb moment” without any intentional integration on their part. The first one I share is from my campus director, who was a bit skeptical at first and decided to test out the classical education method on her children before totally buying into the methodology.  

 – One day at lunch I told the kids that we were going to surprise daddy.  We were going to memorize all 44 presidents of the United States.  I quickly put it to the tune of Jingle Bells, and everyday for a week, we would practice.  The kids had fun with it, and by the end of the week, even Jackson (2) could recite them all.  Fast forward a few months….We were sitting in the living room, reading a read aloud biography on the life of Helen Keller.  Kaya was 6; Joe was 4.  I was convinced Joseph was not at all paying attention.  He was laying upside down on the sofa, feet in the air, and squirming all over.  Suddenly though, he sat straight up and looked at me with big eyes.  I asked him what he had heard.  It was the name Franklin D. Roosevelt.  He had recognized the name, and all of a sudden, my disinterested little boy was curious as to what was so special about Helen Keller that she would get to meet the president of the US.  The simple mention of his name began a dialogue that would have been otherwise missed. 

– Watching World Cup soccer together and my littles recognizing the countries the teams are representing and their place on a map.  Or they rush to find them on a map, because now they know how to read a map.

– As I told my children we were starting a new book on missionary Gladys Alward, they glanced at the shape of the country on the book cover and asked, “Was she a missionary to China?” She was! They recognized the shape of China from our earlier study of China in our CC geography memory work.

– When Newton’s Third Law of Motion was mentioned on the National Geographic show, “Strip the City,” my girls were able to recite it completely before the narrator. 

– While reading through Robin Hood, we realized that “Richard” who was away fighting the crusades was “Richard the Lion Hearted!” It made the whole book of Robin Hood make more sense and really come to life for us!

– We were riding bikes in a park and rode by a World War II memorial.  After looking at the names, the boys said, “So all these people died when they fought against the Axis countries?”  I smiled and asked them to remind me who the axis leaders were and instantly the boys broke out into our CC week 17 song.  

 – At the zoo, I remember the kids seeing the Latin noun declensions on the animal name signs (that included the Latin).  Specifically when we were looking at the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis), besides the noun ending, the kids loved that “Mississippi” was in the Latin name instead of America.  We talked about where Mississippi was on a map and why that might have been in the name (since there are alligators there?).

– At one of my children’s well visit at the doctor, I remember us talking about the visit ahead of time to calm fears.  We talked about how the doctor wants to make sure all the “systems” were working.  I remember my young child running through all the systems memory work for Cycle 3 while we were in the exam room waiting for the doctor.

 – We went to Fort Necessity last summer.  As we walked through the displays, words jumped out at the kids, “The Seven Years War”, “the French and Indian War”. The places on the maps meant something to them.  Names like George Washington jumped out at them (he was at For Necessity before the Revolutionary War).

– Reading books like any of the “You wouldn’t want to be…” books or “Ten Wicked Rulers” often leads to connections in our home.  In one of those books, my son had already read about Wellington.  When we memorized a history sentence about him, my son talked for 10 minutes about Wellington and how he invented Wellington Boots.

Those of you experienced in the classical model surely have your own stories to tell.  In our home, we call them BOOM moments.  If you’re just starting out, look for these boom moments. They are there and you will love them! So will your littles!

Want to share one of your boom moments? Feel free to comment below! I’m sure we’d all welcome the encouragement.  And remember, relax and allow the model to work.


  1. says

    Well…, there was that evening at Cracker Barrel while traveling this summer when our 3-year-old yelled out, “Hitler!” and pointed to a photograph of a soldier with a small mustache. To his credit, it did look a bit like Hitler, and I had to smile proudly while hiding under the table!

    • says

      Tammy, my sister had a similar experience with one of her little ones, but he pointed to a person in front of him saying he looked like hitler. haha!

  2. Katherine says

    I have 2 that come to mind. We passed a reproduction of an Olmec head outside a museum in DC and my kids broke into the timeline song when they guessed what it was.
    The other was last week as we watched (the entire) Drive Thru History series on ancient Rome/Greece/Asia Minor on Netflix. My son was overcome w/ excitement as he knew SO much of the “grammar” of this time period. Names of rulers/ancient gods/places/events…mostly from the timeline song!

  3. says

    I’m glad you were able to use my examples. We just had another one today. We were listening to an audio story of Theodore Roosevelt’s children’s book Hero Tales (the audio is by Hal Young). Anyway, in telling the story of the Battle of Trenton, the book quotes Fredrick the Great talking about Washington. We paused the CD in the van, and asked “who was Fredrick the Great?” After a couple seconds and discussion if he was the one from Russia or Prussia, the kids started singing the absolute monarchs song. When we figured out that he was from Prussia, I mentioned that George Muller was from Prussia too (our most recent read-aloud). Then my eldest chimes in with “and they have a really great military” – something we learned in the book on George Muller. The military was powerful because every man had to serve. Anyway, all of a sudden, Fredrick the Great’s quote describing Washington’s victory at Trenton as one of the greatest victories in in the century was that much more powerful. We just love these moments!

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