It is finally completed! Whew! It took much of the summer to pull all of the Bridge together, but it is DONE!
If you have been following along with the building process of the Bridge, you can celebrate along with me. If you haven’t yet heard about the Bridge, welcome. I am going to attempt to catch you up in this article and get you set for the next year.
This post may include affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase based on my recommendation, I get a small remuneration at no extra expense to you. I only recommend things I use and believe to be a blessing.
What is the Bridge?
The Bridge is a program of readings for upper elementary students. It is called Bridge because it is my attempt to bridge the widening gap between two curricula we have used (and loved!) in the early elementary years – Classical Conversations and Charlotte Mason-inspired Ambleside Online.
I built the Bridge out of my desire to have a fully-immersive educational experience in the upper elementary years, one in which my students would be studying the same things in CC and in their readings at home. Where AO’s Year 4 just happened to fit with what we were studying when we were in Cycle 3 of Classical Conversations for my oldest student, I knew it wouldn’t always line up so nicely. In fact, Year 5 of Ambleside Online continues on the American history track, while Classical Conversations cycles back to Ancient History in Cycle 1.
What Inspires the Bridge?
For a number of years on this blog, I have shared our homeschool experiences – the successes and the failures. I hope one of the things I have shared with you in every article about homeschooling is the JOY we have in our homeschool! We absolutely love it – not every day is roses and lollipops – but we wouldn’t even think of trading!
But another thing I hope to share with you is our refusal to become slaves of any curriculum. Yes, we are big fans of what works for us! But the key to that phrase is “what works for us.” The things which don’t fit our lives get tossed. Only the good stuff – the best stuff – remains.
We are not entirely in either Classical or Charlotte Mason camps. I see choices from homeschool bloggers in both camps all the time I would not make. And I don’t think we are that good of an example of homeschoolers for either approach.
Obviously, the Bridge is inspired by both Classical Conversations and Ambleside Online. I researched the AO book lists for years 3-7, as well as Year 3.5 to find books which will fit nicely with the CC studies of each cycle.
So, as I lay out the plan I have for the Bridge, I am not seeking followers. I am just letting you know the map for the next year. Do you want to come along? Great! You don’t like that item or this item? Drop it! Don’t want to pick up anything else? Fine by me, girl! You Do YOU! Your homeschool will be all the happier for it.
How Does the Bridge Work?
As I said, this Bridge is for the upper elementary years. Classical Conversations calls these years the Essentials years. Ambleside Online calls these Years 4 through 6. The idea is for my students to start the Bridge in their first year of upper elementary. No matter which Classical Conversations cycle we are going through, the books and resources will be the same. I have selected books from all three of the AO years (4-6) and some other books from years 3, 3.5, and 7.
Thus, some of the books for a fourth-grader entering the Bridge will be “stretching” books. What stretches the fourth-grader will be appropriate books for the fifth-graders and sixth-graders going through the Bridge that same year. Regardless of the age-grade level of the books, there will be fewer books per term and per year than Ambleside Online would have. Where AO would recommend upwards of 7 history textbooks for a year plus geography and biography, 5 science books plus biographies, and 4 novels plus other literature, I am only scheduling one or two books in each of those categories per term.
I will only refer to the cycle number of Classical Conversations in naming the elements of the Bridge. This program is intended for 4th-6th graders. The only thing that changes each year is the cycle.
What is the Structure of the Bridge?
There will be three terms per year, set up as 12-week terms. The first term of Cycle Two focuses on the Middle Ages and Crusades. Term 2 will focus on The Ages of Exploration and Absolute Monarchs. And Term 3 will focus on the Renaissance and Reformation.
If you look at the history memory work for CC’s Cycle 2, you might find it is surprisingly diverse in its scope in Cycle 2. You might also be surprised to see it stretch itself from the Middle Ages all the way into modern history. In general, when I hear people talk about CC Cycle 2, they say Cycle 2 is the middles ages year. Well, it is and it isn’t.
I am not looking for a picture-perfect match-up. Rather I am looking to immerse my students in a rich, multi-faceted tour through a period. Thus, 12 weeks dedicated to the Middle Ages and Crusades, 12 weeks dedicated to the exploration and dominion of the world, and 12 weeks dedicated to the revolutions of culture and religion are actually difficult to squeeze into one year. Yet, I feel confident this will strike the balance I am looking for between CC and CM.
What are the Books for the Bridge Cycle Two?
Here is the full list of books for the Bridge Cycle Two:
History & Geography
- Famous Men of the Middle Ages by John Haaren and A.B. Poland
- Famous Men of the Renaissance and Reformation by Rob Shearer (this book is sometimes published under the title Famous Men of the 16th and 17th Centuries)
- Famous Men of Modern Times by John Haaren & A.B. Poland
- The World of Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster
- The World of Captain John Smith by Genevieve Foster
- Heralds of the Reformation by Richard M. Hannula
- The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin
- The Magna Charta by James Daughtery – if we read this we will only read parts one through three (part four is about the Magna Carta’s influence on America and free societies)
- Longitude by Dava Sobel
- Draw Europe by Kristin Draeger (optional: a second area of the world to draw – South America)
- The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck (Bulfinch’s from Cycle One also has the Arthurian Legends)
- The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
- Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by Barbara Cohen
- Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz
- Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
- Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
- 1001 Arabian Nights (selected stories) or One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean
- The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell
- Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L. Taylor
- The Kite Rider by Geraldine McCaughrean
- Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
- A Walk in…. Books by Rebecca L. Johnson (she also has a series for aquatic biomes, the A Journey Into… books
- A Walk in the Tundra
- A Walk in the Prairie
- A Walk in the Boreal Forest
- A Walk in the Rainforest
- A Walk in the Desert
- The Great Astronomers by Robert Ball
- Secrets of the Universe series by Paul Fleisher
What does the Bridge Cost?
Nothing. I am putting together this plan for my students not knowing your students at all. The program I am creating for my kids is based on our experience with Ambleside Online and Classical Conversations. And I wouldn’t want to have “unhappy customers” if the plan doesn’t work for you. This is not a business venture for me.
However, I would ask one simple thing. If you get a recommendation for a book or a curriculum from this website, would you please use my affiliate links to make your purchases? The curricula will cost the same for you, but the recommendations I make and the remunerations offered by those companies make our homeschool possible. I try to make as many things as possible free on this site. Your purchases through my affiliate links help facilitate that goal.
How Do I Get the Bridge Schedule?
I don’t want to make you jump through a bunch of hoops to get this schedule. But I have SO much to share with you, so if you are scrolling for the “GIVE IT TO ME” moment, it’s here!
You can get updates and extras when you sign up to get my emails. I have a specific email list for you.
If you have already signed up for Bridge-specific emails, would you kindly fill out this form, so I know you got the schedule?
Looking for my week by week plan for navigating the paths between Charlotte Mason and Classical philosophies in the upper elementary years? Please sign up here. If you are already a subscriber, it will NOT double-subscribe you.
Will the Bridge Work for you?
Short answer? I don’t know. Are you a family who has already been combining CM and CC? Then it may! Are you a family who has just done memory work in the early years of Classical Conversations and looking to expand? Again, it may.
You see, that thing about not being slavish to any curriculum is so important to me. I put in on a shelf in my mind right next to the sign which reads, “Build Your Own Nest.” I can’t build your homeschool nest for you. However, I can offer you a look around mine. Hopefully you will find inspiration in your perusal. Perhaps you will find ideas.
I hope for one thing with my blog: to be a blessing to you. If I succeed in that pursuit, I am over-the-moon excited and encouraged to keep going. The Bridge is offered with the same target in mind – blessing.
Here’s to the upper elementary years – HOPE!
Do you have more questions I didn’t address here? There are some articles for each specific subject in the Bridge, which may give you more background:
- Combining Classical Conversations & Charlotte Mason in Upper Elementary
- Charlotte Mason in our Classical Homeschool
- The Bridge – Cycle One History
- The Bridge – Cycle One Literature
- Rough Schedules: Shakespeare 2021-2022 School Year
- The Bridge – Cycle One Science
- The Bridge – Cycle One – Bible
If you still have a question, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. Or you can email me. I absolutely love hearing back from you! .