Challenge B ‘Must Have’ Supplies and Curriculum

Challenge B Must HavesClassical Conversations Challenge B is an awesome year for your Jr High student. Best suited for 8th and 9th graders, it’s a year of growth, especially in dialectic skills. With a huge focus on argument, Challenge B will stretch your kid’s ability to create their own thoughts and opinions, and parents will love that emphasis is placed on respectful debate with classmates and tutors.

In many ways, Challenge B will seem like less work than A. There will be no giant maps to draw, less memory work, and obviously, less of a work load shock, since students have become accustomed to the fast paced nature of the Challenge Program. But a number of larger projects will require focused energy, careful time management, and perseverance when the going gets tough!

The bookstore is full of great resources, some of which are necessary, and some of which are supplemental. Hopefully this will help you understand the outline of each strand, and the resources that go with them.


Logic (Math)
Don’t be fooled… the word ‘Logic’ appears twice in Challenge B. Once as the Logic strand –  consistent throughout all the Challenge Levels, and representative of Mathematics. It also appears this year as the curriculum learned in the Rhetoric strand as Formal Logic. 

Saxon Algebra 1/2This year’s math curriculum is Saxon Algebra 1/2.  Pre-Algebra is typical 8th grade curriculum across the country, and is covered in seminar each week through discussion of math concepts, review games and student directed questions. Since many students are at different places in their math journey, don’t worry if you student is above or behind the level of Pre-Algebra. Purchase math curriculum that aligns with their current skill level. Your child’s tutor should approach community day math discussion as just that – a discussion. No matter what level your student is at, they should be able to participate in that discussion. For the recommended Saxon curriculum, you will need the student workbook, answer key, and test packet should you choose to test at home. Please note that Saxon makes 2 types of answer keys. The basic answer key (included in the homeschool kit) lists the final answers to the problems. The solutions manual (sold separately) contains a detailed answer of the steps of the problems. If you struggle with math, or intend for your student to be more independent with corrections, the solutions manual may be a good purchase for your family.

What You’ll Need
The text book, student workbook and answer key 
(homeschool kit does not include the solutions manual)
Notebook or binder with lined paper
Calculator – this might be a good year to invest in a scientific calculator. While the many functions won’t be used this year, it’s a great year to become familiarized with them, and putting a calculator in the hands of your busy B’er will be time-saving for long division and multiplication.
Math Trivium Tables – optional, but helpful as a quick reference tool while working on the full curriculum

What You Can Do This Summer:
Continue to review facts
Finish last year’s curriculum!
Get a head start on this year’s curriculum. There will be many busy seasons of Challenge B, namely, the ends of each semester, when students are working on bigger projects, like science fair and mock trial. Having a few lessons in the bank will take the pressure off if you want to lighten the math load during these busy times.


Lost Tools of Writing
This year’s study of Literature is sure to be one that ignites a love of writing in your student. Semester 1 will dig deeper into Lost Tools of Writing and continue the journey of persuasive essay crafting. LTW has been completely overhauled this year. Since it will be used again in Challenge 1, it might be a good time to re-invest in the newest edition of the materials, which are promised to be clearer, full of more examples, and include online supplemental videos. If an investment in the entire 5th edition seems a bit steep, a student workbook can be purchased for $39. If you plan to use an old edition, talk to your child’s tutor about how he/she plans to address the differences in seminar. The necessary reading materials can be viewed on the CC website, and can probably be purchased cheaper than the list price in their bookstore. They are also most likely available at your local library!

Words Aptly Spoken - Short StoriesIn second semester, you will put away novels and LTW, and will focus instead on short stories. Words Aptly Spoken: Short Stories is availabe in its 3rd addition, and will be necessary to purchase new, as the stories vary from earlier additions. It is it’s own curriculum, and your student will work through the entire book as they write their own short story! This is sure to be a highlight of their year, and will culminate in a student anthology of stories – a memorable and beautiful way to top off a year of community together.

What You’ll Need
The Lost Tools of Writing 5th Edition

Notebook with paper
ANI Charts
Words Aptly Spoken: Children’s Literature (optional resource – great for students who struggle with reading comprehension, or those using Challenge B as their 9th grade year, and need some extra supplements to increase the workload)
Words Aptly Spoken: Short Stories 3rd Edition

What You Can Do This Summer:
Get a jump on the novels, especially if your student is a slower reader
Review the pieces of a persuasive essay covered in Challenge A if your student lacked a clear understanding. Challenge B won’t review much – it will just continue to add on!


Challenge B’s Debate Strand, in the first semester, is an introduction to formal debate through the use of current events. While formal debate is explored in Challenge 1, Challenge B opens the door to creating thoughtful and educated opinions on important topics of the day. A word of caution: your student requires your help in finding articles for the topics. They also require your help in learning to be open-minded. There are 2 sides to each issue, and your student will need to explore both (and possibly defend a position with which you do not agree!). The greatest gift your student can take away from this strand is a realization that they aren’t always right, and that it’s okay that we don’t always agree. Respectful back-and-forth and the ability to share a viewpoint without needing to be ‘right’ will be massive takeaways from first semester. The concepts and ideas learned in Literature will be recycled in this strand, so LTW will again be utilized.

Mock Trial Cycle 1Second semester ushers in Mock Trail – a BIG undertaking. For years, CC has used the same case – Barbara Barrett and the murder of her husband, John Walker Barrett – but this year, CC is moving to a new case, and presumably, will have 3 cases circulating with the F/E cycle. Cycle 1’s case is entitled: Case #1 State v. Peake.  This resource can only be purchased in the CC Bookstore.

What You’ll Need
News Articles – lots of them! When you receive your guide, talk to your tutor about what topics the current events strand will cover. Begin gathering unbiased articles (mainstream news sources, etc…), 2-3 that ‘agree’ with each side of an issue. You should have 4-6 articles total for each issue.
Index Cards
Lost Tools of Writing
Mock Trial Notebook (Make a copy and keep it “clean and mark free”)
Blank Paper
Manila Folders
Post-it Notes

What You Can Do This Summer
Start gathering articles and current events sources
Begin discussions that require your child to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes.’ Talk about current events – GMO’s, Vaccinations, Education Reform – find out what your student believes and why, and then play devil’s advocate. Create a habit of looking at the other side of the issue, and your student will be well ahead of the game heading into September.

Research (Science)
There are 4 specific elements to research this year: History of Scientists, Science Fair, Defeating Darwinism, and Intro to Chemistry.

Continuing a study of research, this strand begins with History of Scientists, and allows students to ‘write their own textbook’ about the great minds in science who shaped our understanding of the world. Students will research and write papers each week, while sometimes creating a poster, demonstrating a concept or explaining a scientific theory. Fused outlines and other techniques for organizing research will be discussed. A library card is a must!

ScienceBuddies.orgScience Fair begins in the late fall and ends in the first few weeks after the Christmas holiday. While your tutor will assign deadlines and specific assignments for this, understand that your student will be conducting ‘good science.’ Every step of the scientific method will be explored. This will be no small task! If you allow your student to get behind, science fair will be a chore. If you stay on task, and keep up with the set deadlines, science fair will be a blessing to your student. Asking a Jr High student to manage a science fair project on their own is like asking for the sun to stop shining. They will need your help (read: nagging). But it is an investment that is well worth the time and effort.

Defeating DarwinismDefeating Darwinism is an Origins study, and will be a big undertaking for your kids. Starting in January, they will be outlining each chapter, and discussing the key topics in seminar. See my post and guide for Defeating Darwinism, here!

Introduction to Chemistry will be an easy way to finish off the year – a 5 week peek into the grammar of chemistry, the periodic table, and the basics of elements, and what they are made of. The CC resource, Discovering Atomos, is a complete resource, and you won’t need to supplement with anything else.

What You’ll Need
Classical Acts & Facts: Science Cards are an optional resource, and can be used as a research source
Binder with Paper
Library Card
Poster board, shoe box, and other project supplies, as assigned by your tutor account (don’t worry, it’s free and they don’t spam you!)
Science Fair materials – set a budget early and plan to spend $50-$100 depending on your student’s project
Science Fair tri-fold display board
Defeating Darwinism
The Soul of Science
(optional resource, but a great read for parents who want to understand how science has transformed our understanding of the world, and how the study of science itself has changed)
Discovering Atomos

What You Can Do This Summer
Choose a Science Fair Project. Keep in mind, it must be an experiment – it can’t just be building something. You need to be able to collect data. Make a preliminary list of materials and be sure it is within your budget. Use the project idea generator on for help! But wait until your tutor assigns the project before you begin. Remember – you are learning a method and that means you will attack the project in sequential steps.
Parents – read Defeating Darwinism. You must be reading this along with your student, and you’ll probably need to read it more than once. It’s not a long read, so getting through it in the summer will be helpful.

Grammar (Latin)
Latin will review everything learned in Challenge A, and move to lesson 25 in Henle Latin: First Year. It will move quickly, especially early in the year! English grammar concepts will be studied in class through translation and this year will look at nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs, as well as some prepositions and pronouns.

What You’ll Need
Henle Latin: First Year Text
Henle Latin: First Year Grammar
Henle Latin: First Year Answer Key
Notebook or Binder with lots of paper
Latin Trivium Tables
English Grammar Trivium Tables 
– optional, but great if your student struggles with parts of speech

What You Can Do This Summer
Review vocab and declensions learned in Challenge A
If you can find the time, look ahead and begin learning new vocab
Review declensions and endings


Rhetoric (Formal Logic)
Introductory Logic - curriculumFormal Logic will be the strand that your students will require the most help with this year. In my experience tutoring last year, the students whose parents studied Logic with them far out-performed the majority of those who studied on their own. Most students will struggle with the new grammar and concepts introduced. The ground floor is laid quickly, and new concepts are built on top of it. If students do not have a solid foundation from the get-go, catching up feels almost impossible.

Logic is looking at arguments and deciphering their truth values. Is an argument valid? The sheer amount of new vocabulary can be overwhelming. Logic needs to be understood, not memorized. So your student will need your help to explain things in a way that makes these concepts ‘click’ to them. Memorizing definitions will not be enough!

The Logic resources are expensive. This will make buying as little as possible seem attractive, but that is not my recommendation. Here is an explanation of each piece of the curriculum:

Screenshot of James Nance explaining a logic problem on the DVD

Screenshot of James Nance explaining a logic problem on the DVD

First semester will cover Introductory Logic, and the second, Intermediate Logic. There are 2 sets of curriculum, one for each semester, but they are essentially the same. The curriculum has a student workbook which contains written lessons and blank workbook pages. There are no answers in this book. Without an answer key to refer to, I have NO idea how you master Logic. The teacher guide contains everything in the student workbook, plus a well laid out lesson plan for teaching the material. It also contains the answers to the workbook pages (a must in my opinion). There are also additional exercises and review pages should you wish to dig deeper, although, in my experience, the given work is more than enough for a first look at Formal Logic. There are DVDs which have the author teaching each lesson, working through examples, and explaining the workbook pages. I think with the help of a parent, a student could survive Introductory Logic without the DVDs, but while CC lists the DVDs as optional, in my opinion, they should be mandatory for Intermediate Logic.

Here are my recommendations for What You Need
Introductory Logic Teacher Book

Introductory Logic Student Book
Intermediate Logic Teacher Book
Intermediate Logic Student Book
Intermediate Logic DVDs
Graph Paper (small amount) – makes Truth Tables easier to write!

Introductory Logic DVDs
Introductory Logic Test Packet
Intermediate Logic Test Packet

**Please note that the Classical Conversations bookstore may not be the most cost effective place to purchase Logic resources. Many families purchase from other vendors, such as Rainbow Resources, which offer a significant savings on these products.

What You Can Do This Summer
Begin looking at the new vocabulary, and making flashcards if you have time. Remember to seek understanding, not memorization of these terms! My family did no summer prep for Logic, and we didn’t struggle as a result. If you commit to helping your student through this strand and staying with them as they move through the material, you shouldn’t need to prep them in the summer months.

Challenge B is an exciting year – you will be amazed at the growth of your children this year. Relax and enjoy the summer. How many summers do you have left with them? Challenge B was a ninth grade year for our family – that means we only have 4 more summers before college and I plan to make the most of mine! Travel. Go to the park. Watch fireworks and scream together on roller coasters more than you worry about Logic and Science Fair. You make memories today, and let tomorrow worry about itself.

All my love as you approach Challenge B with confidence! I know your kiddos will be great!

21 comments on Challenge B ‘Must Have’ Supplies and Curriculum

  1. Jill
    June 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm (4 months ago)

    We are looking forward to the fall and doing Challenge B. We learned a lot from Challenge A, but adding Mock trial and Logic is very scary to mom! For science, the Science fair was moved to Challenge A which is great I think and yes, for mock trial, there are now 3 different trials that rotate. Thanks for all the tips about supplies!

  2. Gina Sims
    January 1, 2017 at 11:39 pm (2 years ago)

    Enjoyed this post! I am preparing to direct B next year and would love to see anything you’ve written directed to tutoring or any resources you have or recommend. Blessings, Gina

  3. Tirzah
    September 3, 2015 at 12:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Question for you… we have been coming to our local library to find books on the scientists but are not having much success. Unfortunately our library is pretty small. Any recommendations for additional resources?

    • amygarwood
      February 22, 2016 at 10:57 am (3 years ago)

      I’m sorry this is a bit late in response… but I love I used it a ton when I was tutoring. They even have a lot of great videos to supplement.

    • Mary
      January 11, 2017 at 10:43 am (2 years ago)

      This response is also too late to help you but hopefully will help others in the future. I also had difficulty locating short biographies that would allow us to take in a good amount of information in a short amount of time; however, if one’s library shelves by Dewey Decimal, there are sometimes books at 509.2 in both the juvenile and adult collections in which each book will have a few pages of information about several key scientists. These were very helpful to us because we could get through a few pages that held a large quantity of key information. Frequently these had quite a few interesting and helpful illustrations as well. Additionally, our library has a set of encyclopedias from the past year or two that are checkable; we checked out various ones of these as well.

  4. Eileen
    August 1, 2015 at 3:04 pm (3 years ago)

    This is great info! I’m wondering what resource you would recommend for the Current Events topics? I am looking at WorldTeen, but I don’t know if we will need an additional resource. My daughter is dyslexic, so I am looking for a resource that may be easier for her to understand.

    • amygarwood
      August 4, 2015 at 4:23 pm (3 years ago)

      I didn’t use any specific resource. I used CNN, and other reputable news sources, as well as World Mag, and some Christian news sources as well. I wouldn’t specifically subscribe to anything, because not every topic will be found on one site. Plus, I think seeing lots of types of writing, and starting to see different biases is important as well.

  5. Vivien
    July 16, 2015 at 1:21 am (3 years ago)

    Did you follow the CC literature highlighting system for Intro/Intermediate Logic? if so, what colors did you use for rules, definitions, examples, etc.? If not, please feel free to make suggestions. Thank you very much!

    • amygarwood
      August 4, 2015 at 4:24 pm (3 years ago)

      I’ve seen SO much about highlighting – but we didn’t use it. I do color code a lot of things, because I really see how it helps us retain better. But I didn’t use any recommended system.

  6. Debbie
    June 7, 2015 at 7:37 pm (3 years ago)

    We’ve been in Foundations for 3 years and Essentials for 1. In looking ahead toward Challenge, I have one main concern. My husband and I do not subscribe to the creationist theory but instead the theory of evolution. Is putting our kids in the CC Challenge program an unrealistic option?

    • Wendy
      August 11, 2015 at 3:54 pm (3 years ago)

      Part of the beauty of challenge and the dialectic stage is looking at viewpoints from both sides. We completed Ch A, moving on to B this year. Yes, all the books read for class will support creationism. But, if you go into the year with a willingness to read and understand and discuss it through with your student, it will be great for all if you.

  7. Jamie Schmidt
    May 29, 2015 at 9:15 am (3 years ago)

    So, just clarifying. You would make a copy of the mock trial materials that is left unmarked, no notes in that copy, etc? Thanks!

    • amygarwood
      May 29, 2015 at 9:25 am (3 years ago)

      YES! From my understanding, CC allows 1 copy to be made when you purchase it. Your kids will mark it all up, but at the end of the year when they are preparing evidence, they will need clean copies. Also, on the actual mock trial day, they may want to spontaneously pull a piece of evidence… so they will need copies they haven’t written all over.

  8. Carey
    May 28, 2015 at 12:23 pm (3 years ago)

    I love your posts, particularly because I am getting ready to tutor Challenge A for my son and community this fall. I hate to be a pill, but do you have a similar post like this for Challenge A? You are so helpful, just so you know!

    • amygarwood
      May 28, 2015 at 4:49 pm (3 years ago)

      Thanks! I’m so glad you find what I write helpful 🙂 If you search for ‘Challenge A’ on my blog, or just scroll through the posts in the Classical Conversations tab at the top, you’ll find lots of similar things. If you are looking for something really specific, please let me know!

  9. E
    May 28, 2015 at 9:49 am (3 years ago)

    Do you have any pointers for 1st year Challenge B tutors?

    • amygarwood
      May 28, 2015 at 4:50 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi! I actually want to write this post – so ‘like’ me on facebook, or subscribe to my feed and it will come to your inbox 🙂

  10. Melanie
    May 27, 2015 at 3:50 pm (3 years ago)

    Thanks for the article and its perfect timing! I have some extra time these next few days so this is a great time to start organizing for next year.

    • amygarwood
      May 27, 2015 at 4:07 pm (3 years ago)

      I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂 I have a few articles like this for Challenge A as well, if you know anyone who needs a bit of encouragement!

  11. A. Harrison
    May 27, 2015 at 3:28 pm (3 years ago)

    Thank you so much for this article. I will pass it on to other Challnge B parents. Do you know of good resources for parents wanting to give high school credit in Challenge B?

    • amygarwood
      May 27, 2015 at 4:08 pm (3 years ago)

      I’ve seen a few but I don’t specifically know where. I was going to write my own as well, so keep an eye on the blog or subscribe and it will come right to your email box 🙂 You can also ‘like’ me on facebook – then you will see it there as well.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment *