MFW ECC: Germany



Its been several weeks since we wrapped up Germany, but I have not had the time to post our study until now. We prepared for a hurricane, went on a very long road trip to my 10 year college reunion and attended a wonderful Charlotte Mason conference, all back to back to back! Tomorrow we begin our study of the continent of Africa and I could not start that without posting about Germany!


We get a lot of questions regarding our non MFW studies and how we fit those in. I do not post about everything we cover just to avoid tedious long posts. Each week I’ll try to throw in a “non MFW” pursuit to give you a peak at the other stuff. This week we’ll look at math. During our study of Germany, my boys worked through a few sets in their Saxon math books, went for a Geometry nature walk (finding shapes in nature), and spent a good deal of time playing with their math manipulatives. Check out Richelle Baburina’s Charlotte Mason math approach!  The boys need lots of hands on time with their math work. They love working on their hundreds board and with their arthmasticks, which they often use to teach their 6 year old brother. We usually end our math block with our math memory work from CC. The boys skip count all the way up to 15X15 before reciting squares and cubes and working through their geometry memory work. All of these are sung out loud. On Friday’s we usually play store or pet shop or some other game where math skills are employed.


Now, on to the books! In Germany, what else could we read but fairytales! We had a marvelous time reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Well, most of us had a marvelous time reading. My four year old had a marvelous time destroying EVERYTHING IN THE LIVING ROOM while we were reading the first few tales. Then he threw himself on the floor and screamed bloody murder for seven solid minutes. Good times.

But back to the fairy tales! A small warning–many of these fairy tales do not have happy endings. If your child has a very sensitive heart I recommend screening the book before you read aloud. There are also excellent picture book variations available (i.e. Handel and Gretel). We had a little picnic tea party outside for one of our fairy tale readings. The weather went from sweltering to slightly windy for a 30 minute time frame and we jumped on it! And yes, my youngest is holding a duckling in the picture above. Our friend found him after his whole family had been killed by a car. She texted and asked if we could take him in. I learned a few things about myself in the minutes that followed. 1) I will spontaneously adopt all motherless creatures I come across without a moments hesitation. 2) Instead of asking for permission or mutual accord, I just decide. And the way I break the news to my husband is, “Don’t be mad, m’kay?” and 3) I really like ducks. I like them enough to not ask myself practical questions like “what is the long term plan for this duck?” Sigh. The duck is still here and it has stolen our hearts. Oh, that waddle! Squee!!!



In our readings about Germany we could not help but notice the many castles featured. We enjoyed David Macaulay’s book “Cathedral” when we studied France so we decided to look at “Castle” this time. My boys were quite enthusiastic about this project. They made notebooks filled with drawings and notes. We will be practicing our book binding skills later this week when we bind them into books with our awl and waxed thread. (FYI I had no idea how to bind books before my second born asked, “Hey, can we figure out how to bind books?” It something we figured out together). “Castle” is packed with great information and we loved watching the medieval building process from the ground up. Check your local library for Macaulay’s book. You can also find a PBS special on this book here in all its vintage glory.

I love looking at different periods of history as we study each country. We have been reading “Story of the Nations” from Simply Charlotte Mason this year in our morning basket and the story of Otto Von Bismarck serrendipitously popped up during our study. What a fascinating time in German history! The boys were able to narrate the story well and afterwards asked if we could read more about that particular time period in German history.  We read a few books about Luther and the Reformation and Gutenberg’s printing press as well.


If you read about our study of France, you will recall our afternoon painting in the style of various artists of the Montmartre. How could we learn about Germany and not study musicians? We listened to Bach, Strauss, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Handel and Wagner. The boys wanted to paint while we listened so we mixed our tempura paints with dish soap and made fall window murals  after we listened to our daily Chopin mazurka (and YES, we have to make it look like fall around here!)  Afterwards we had our weekly assessment time. LOTS of discussion on medieval architecture which I was not expecting but I am glad they enjoyed it and absorbed everything so well.


Lastly, I have to share about a great blessing we received during our study. My sister married into a beautiful German/Polish family two years ago. I texted her mother in law a week or two before our study began to ask if she had a family recipe to share. Well, she ended up coming to our house wearing a beautiful dirndl, armed with beautiful books, family pictures, a poster with German words and their meanings, a large cowbell and a bag full of ingredients for apple strudel. She was so generous with her time and knowledge. The boys soaked it up! What a gift!



They made dessert, learned about mad King Ludwig and his castle obsession. They learned about festivals and costumes and family members. We learned about the cows yearly parade down from the hills. The lead cow(s) decorated in floral headdress leading the procession of other cows wearing enormous bells around their collars. I don’t know how we would have discovered this on our own.  Thank you so much for the beautiful visit Omi!

Truly, this is a wonderful year for “guest speakers.” Do you have friends in your neighborhood, homeschool group, church, workplace that have roots or beginnings in the countries studied? Reach out to them and let your children interview them or prepare a dish from that country and invite your friend over to enjoy some and share stories of their experiences. Its a refreshing and wonderful way to bring these countries to life!

We are off to Africa next. We’ll check in again soon.

MFW ECC: France



We had a spectacular sunset on the last day of our France study. It was just after dinner when my son noticed the brilliant orange and red shadows on our living room curtains. We ran outside together, jumped the back fence and raced out to the water’s edge. Whenever we have dry lightning storms at sunset, the sky becomes incredibly rich in its contrasting colors. We saw intense red, gold, orange and yellow against brooding black and charcoal gray. It looked ominous and glorious all at once. We saw a flock of ibis flying east and a flock of roseate spoonbills heading west. A kingfisher made his dinner dive and we were nearly ecstatic over the sight of a rare snail kite soaring over our heads. But that sunset, of that sunset made us giddy. We had looked through some of Van Gogh’s work as we were discussing the Montmartre earlier that day. The minute my son saw the full scope of this sunset he let out a joyous little whoop and called to me, “Mom! Its a Van Gogh! Look! We just read about him and now the sky is a Van Gogh!”

Homeschooling is hard and sometimes I wonder/worry what the effect will be on my relationship with each of my children. Moments like the above are a gift from God. Granted, they are not always so flashy and obvious, but He still gives them to me. I tuck them in my heart to remember on days when feelings are hurt, tears run and personalities are at war. I love that we were able to share such a glorious moment together. A few days after this sunset we were reading another book that briefly mentioned Van Gogh. Immediately I raised my eyes and looked at my son, he grinned and gave me a little wink. We are now permanently bonded over Van Gogh. We’ll never be able to look at his work again without remembering that moment.


In our effort to learn French culture, I told the kids we would be slowing down even more than we already have. We would learn to linger well over truth, goodness and beauty. This resulted in some epically long morning time breakfast gatherings. We read so many books together (booklist at the end of the post!), enjoyed at least three pots of tea at each sitting and ate way more treats than we should have.

After reading a lovely little story about life in the french countryside, we decided to have a countryside day. We baked fresh bread and chopped veggies for soup, made a batch of lotion and some chapstick, diffused lots of lavender and read about the production of essential oil, and hand rolled beeswax tapers for our table this autumn and winter (while learning about bees!). The boys loved this particular activity. The smell is so warm and comforting and they loved getting to work on something meaningful for our home. Its good to feel useful, isn’t it?


A few readers have asked about our “unstandardized testing” method, so I thought I would share a bit on this recap about how its done at our house.

First, I cover our table in butcher paper (I purchased a very large roll on Amazon nearly 3 years ago and have yet to run out). Next I give the boys several pastels and beeswax crayons. I choose 7 topics for them to illustrate and work on. This week they illustrated: Heidi on the Alps, a coniferous forest, acid rain effects, the cathedral in Rouen, a cave and its lifeforms, trabecular bone structure grid, and the Eiffel tower. While drawing, they recited their poetry work, scripture memory work, Classical Conversations memory work and they narrated portions of our reading from Spyri’s “Heidi.” I also gave a verbal spelling test to each child. Once the illustrations were completed, the boys went through each one and explained what they were, what they learned and the significance of each one.

My second born (age 7) explained the white stone structure of the cathedral in Rouen. We studied Monet’s painting of this building earlier in the week and then read through David Macaulay’s “Cathedral.” My son pointed out a few architectural elements, their purpose and significance and then talked about Monet’s painting, use of light and its effects on the white stone. He then talked a bit about Monet and the impressionist movement. We studied Monet for close to three months so he is now able to talk about him comfortably. There is great benefit to a slower learning that promotes savoring.


My eldest discussed the Eiffel tower. Happily, our morning time history book, “Stories of the Nations” by Lorene Lambert, gave us a fascinating account of Gustave Eiffel’s life and his construction of the tower. This story captivated my son to such a degree that we spent an entire afternoon learning all about the construction of the tower and its similarities to the human trabecular bone structure. (Aside: I know I have mentioned “Stories of the Nations” before, but I must once again express just how meaningful and enriching this book has been in our ECC study this year. Each chapter is only 2-3 pages long and takes just a few minutes to read at the table each morning. It has captured even my 5 year old and the children have had this beautiful experience listening to the history of the world spread out in an engaging way.)

Our entire “test” took a little over an hour and the boys were so proud and eager to show off what they knew and what they had absorbed throughout the week. The idea of testing to find out what someone does not know is a bit foreign to them and so they look forward to these afternoons of sharing. Once the paper is unrolled I have an opportunity to listen and evaluate what they have retained, what peaked their interest, what was valuable to them and exactly why certain pieces of information were deemed important by them. This helps me in my future planning and gives me a great gauge for where we have been and what we have moved forward with.


For this country study, we decided to really focus in on Art and Food. Big surprise, I know! I tried to tempt them to look at fashion (how cute are these Chanel paper dolls?) but no one took me up on it. One of my favorite Instagram accounts belongs to Terri Woods of @Woodsermom. A few weeks ago she recommended a beautiful book called, “Painting Pepette,” about a little French girl that wants a portrait done of her stuffed bunny. She ventures out to the Montmarte and encounters an assortment of artists that each paint a portrait of the little bunny and very different styles. The book is quite charming. Woodsermom had asked her children to paint on subject in the style of four different painters, so we followed suite. We chose my son’s stuffed hummingbird “Hummy” as our subject and once again the butcher paper and all the art supplies came out.  We listened to beautiful music and spent several hours (I was bit shocked at how long they lingered over this) painting, drawing, watercoloring, sketching and sculpting. We took a virtual tour of the Louvre afterwards.


The internet is incredible (and horrible). How neat to be able to find 360 degree tours of buildings in France or a view of the city from the top of the Eiffel tower? Check out Napoleon Bonaparte’s house!

Lastly, we just had to watch “Ratatouille” and make our own recipe for lunch one day. They wanted to eat their meal with crusty bread and hot chocolate. This would be a fun activity to pair alongside the marshmallow Eiffel Tower, or an apple chunks Eiffel Tower is you want healthy disgruntled children.

Confession: I am a bit behind in posting, we have already finished Germany! I’ll be sure to post our recap of that study soon. Thanks for following along!

France Study Booklist:
Adele and Simon by Barbara McClintock
Anatole by Eve Titus
Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust by Karen Grey Ruelle
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Monet by Mike Venezia
Paul Cezanne by Mike Venezia
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit  by Judith Kerr
Twenty and Ten by Claire Bishop
Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson
Kate Meets the Impressionists by James Mayhew
Joan of Arc by Demi



One day last spring I had a weekday off from work, so I took the kids for the morning and told Elsie she could sleep in. As the boys and I finished breakfast, I looked out the window, looked back at them, and instantly knew how we should spend our morning.


So I helped them clean their breakfast off their shirts and said “Everybody get your Crocs on!” which in our household induces a Pavlovian response of racing first to the mudroom for footwear, then out the door with joyful shrieks and as many elbow-jabs to the nearest brother as possible. I was the last one outside and as the door shut behind me I saw the dog and the kids tearing around the corner to our orchard in the front yard, felt the warming rays of a glorious sunrise, and knew that I’d get to spend all morning outside on our property with the boys. I couldn’t help but think, Dude, our life is so idyllic. Little did I know that within a few minutes the two-year old would quickly be snapping me back to reality.

You see, after moving in, the first thing we did on the property outside of the house was plant the orchard. All hands were on deck, it was a glorious day of digging and sweat, preparation and anticipation.

This lemon tree is now over six feet tall.

I puffed out my chest with philosophical sentimentality- I would be able to watch my kids and these trees grow together, see them both change over time and produce all kinds of symbolic and literal fruit. Some of the trees I had started from seed myself, others were given to me by family members, and some we got from local nurseries. Of the 20 or so trees we have, only two or three were ready to fruit in the first year- the rest were still several years away from producing anything, which is exactly why I wanted to get them in the ground as soon as possible.


Fresh growth on a mango tree comes out bright red.

On that particular morning the trees had only been planted for about 10 months. To my great surprise one of the small plum cultivars had spent the previous weeks flowering and was actually fruiting. The neighborhood birds had picked off most of the young buds early on, but I excitedly showed the boys the three remaining, still-ripening, cherry-sized fruit hanging about a foot off the ground. At this point in their lives their reaction to my excitement about trees varies. But my hope is that they’ll one day gain an understanding and fascination with planting and trees, that these experiences of their childhood will sink in and grow roots to bear fruit later in their lives.


I walked off to check on some of the other trees, and then I suddenly had one of those sixth-sense parenting moments- too much silence in the background, a gut instinct that something was wrong, and the acknowledgement  “I just turned my back on all four kids at the same time. What was I thinking?” I turned around and immediately scanned for my youngest son, who I found still standing next to the plum tree, and…


“Don’t touch my trees!!” I screamed it so loud my voice actually cracked on “trees”. I ran across the orchard as fast as I could… But it was too late. My baby had already ripped the last three plums off the tree, and with it had destroyed the remnants of my first idyllic harvest in the farmhouse.
The two-year old, of course, was having a blast. He held up his hand. “Wook Dah-Dee!! You see dat??” As he jumped up and down with excitement, little slices of his chubby belly peeked out under his t-shirt, his diaper sagged out the back of his shorts. As I took in the dirt, snot, and sweat smudged across his face, his huge smile and bright eyes helped dissipate my frustration. As a token acknowledgement, I muttered “Yeah, great job buddy” under my breath, then put the three fruits in my pocket and aimlessly sulked off, deflated and defeated.


As a Christian father, Deuteronomy 6 and 11 are always rolling around in the back of my head. As a homeschooling father, I get more opportunities with my children to actually try and make it happen. So I spent the rest of the morning thinking it through and by lunchtime had a plan. We sat down to eat and I read them John 15:1-8. To be honest, these little home Devos are totally hit-and-miss, I never know what direction they’ll go or if they’ll be even moderately successful. So I threw out a couple softballs to help get the discussion started:
“Alright boys, who do you think the Gardener is?”

“God!” they shouted.

“And who is the vine?”


“It says we are like branches- what happens if we stay connected to the vine?”

They thought for a second. “We stay alive and bear fruit.”

“What happens if we get disconnected from the vine?”

“We will die.”

“And can we produce fruit if we’re not connected to the vine?”

A pause. “No.”

By this point the mood had sombered a bit. For full effect I pulled the three fruits out of my pocket and held them up.

“See these fruits? Now that they have been pulled off the tree, will they keep growing?”

They shook their heads. “No.”

“By themselves, do they have the ability to stay alive and grow, or do they need to stay connected to the vine?”

“They need to stay connected to the vine.”

“That’s right, now they’re just going to shrivel and die.”

Their eyes were wide like saucers.

“You see, this is what it means to abide. We are not literally branches, but symbolically we need to stay connected to Jesus, who is the vine. We can’t do it by ourselves- once we are disconnected, we die. We need to live in him, dwell in him, abide in him.”


A brief moment of silence followed, but I could tell the analogy had sunk in. They got it.

And I got it too.  Even now, when I think back to that morning, there are two main lessons I learned.  The first, of course, is to abide in Christ.  The second, is that even the most frustrating and disappointing moments can be turned into meaningful character-shaping moments, for me as much as for the boys.



Pin it! Maps USA and US History Bundle



FINALLY!!! I have been waiting a long time to get my hands on this beauty of a bundle. If you have followed us for the last year, you know how much we love Pin it! Maps. If you are new around here check out: this, this and this. Also, check out the Pin it! Maps site and check their FREE TEACHING MATERIALS tab for lots of free goodness.

How I wish we had these for our study of Adventures last year! We assembled these as fast as we could and started pinning away. My eldest is always amazed by how much better he understands Geography when he can get a 3D look and hands-on approach. If you have a kiddo struggling with Dyslexia, visual disorganization, etc., I highly recommend giving these a shot. My son is obsessed with the Revolutionary War and when we pulled out the map and started pinning he could not stop shrieking in excitement. “I can see it! I can see it now! I understand! This is awesome!”


These maps are just as beautiful as the previous bundle. Its very clear that a lot of love and time and effort went into these maps. They are hand drawn and shaded, incredibly accurate and so thoughtfully laid out. I love the biomes presented on each map legend. We are focusing on biomes in MFW ECC this year, so you can imagine the excitement.

The boys were eager to point out the carefully drawn landscape around certain battlefields to put them in context with nature and history and geography all at once. If I am going to introduce a resource into our home, I need it to be functional and rich in its learning texture and potential versatility, the USA and US History bundle meets this goal and its gorgeous to boot.


Pinning the tribes onto our 1800s map was also a great experience. One of my children noted: “People always make it sound like America was empty and waiting to be discovered. But it was already full, wasn’t it?” The visual connection hit home.



I kind of want to do Adventures and Beautiful Feet Book’s Early American History study all over again!!! These maps can go with any study. When we return to our Classical Conversations Cycle 3 study of US History next year, I will definitely be using these maps. My mind was racing with potential unit studies so I laid out a few possibilities!

The bundle comes with: US Land and Water Forms, US States and Capitols, US Flags, American Indians, The Thirteen Colonies, American Indians & Early Settlements, The Revolutionary War, The French and Indian War, The Civil War, and Westward Expansion.


Guess what? The brilliant cartographer behind Pin it! Maps has generously donated a USA and US History bundle for us to GIVEAWAY!!! EEEEEP!!!!

This set includes:
3 Pin Maps — (USA, US History 1800s and Early America)
11 Control Maps (listed above)
557 flag labels! (state & historical)
Plastic flag poles, bases
Scotch tape

All you need to get are the quilting pins🙂

We assembled ours while listening to audio books and are currently storing all our flags in several $0.97 pencil cases from Walmart.


How to Enter:
This GIVEAWAY is happening over on Instagram! So head on over and follow @farmhouse_schoolhouse and tag three friends! If you “like” Pin it! Map’s Facebook page, then add the phrase “Pin it bonus!” when you tag your three friends and you’ll get an extra entry for reading our blog!

We’ll announce a winner on Friday September 30, 2016.

Thank you Pin it! Maps for the giveaway!

MFW ECC Norway


Norway! Quite possibly, our favorite unit so far. Surprising because on the eve of this study’s inauguration, my husband had to call an ambulance to come get me after I began to experience sudden and horrific pain. Two days in the hospital, lots of prescription meds and a slow recovery had me forecasting a pretty dreadful, overwhelming and miserable few weeks of school, but the exact opposite happened. Our village lovingly reached out and made meals, came to visit, took over some of my responsibilities and encouraged us. My husband even went in my place to our Classical Conversations community day and wore the Director’s hat on my behalf.  It blessed me deeply to have such thoughtful love and care poured over us. Even the boys were extra helpful and diligent in their work. While we did not have as many outdoor adventures as usual, we still had a lovely time with our study!


We spent many, many hours reading this time around. The D’Aulaires have a wealth of books for Norway study and we read them all. Many cups of tea and several knit dishcloths later, we went through the pile and chose our favorites and read them again. We also enjoyed Joanna Spyri’s “Heidi” as one of our overall European books.

Norway/Scandinavian Booklist: 

Welcome Back Sun by Michael Emberly
D is for Dala Horse: A Nordic Country Alphabet by Kathy Jo Wargin
Once Upon a Northern Light by Jean Pendziwol
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
Norwegian Tales by Ingri D’aulaire
Ola by Ingri D’aulaire
Children of the Northern Lights by Ingri D’aulaire
Leif the Lucky by Ingri D’aulaire
Book of Trolls by Ingri D’aulaire
Katie the Windmill Cat by Gretchen Woelfe
Boxes for Katje by Candace Flemming
Hans Brinker, the Silver Skates
Hannah’s Cold Winter by Trish Marx
My Tour of Europe by Teddy Roosevelt Age 10 by Ellen Marx
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan


Science with ECC continues to be a bit shaky at times. The kids love the science experiments (don’t skip them!) but POE is still hard to get through. So we do what we can and then we take off on our own. The BBC Planet Earth series is phenomenal and we loved the episode on forests. We used tree cards from Tanglewood Hollow and a beautiful crochet tree ring I received from a Montessori Materials swap. My son and I have been knitting tiny crochet bowls like mad lately and we have been using them to hold some of our favorite nature finds.


While the older boys finished cataloging tree rubbings and leaf samples in their nature journals, my youngest children went with me to the kitchen to make The Homegrown Preschooler’s Herbal doh recipe. We had a lovely time practicing math and practical life skills. The older children went outside and collected pine needles and pine cones to decorate the table. I set out some natural materials like acorns caps, sweet gums, petals and walnut shells. The boys sat and played with doh while I read through books and eventually we switched over to enjoying various Scandinavian composers and musicians.


Its encouraging to witness the engagement that takes place through living books. Dry textbooks just do not impart the same connection and inspiration. The boys were utterly captivated by the life of the Lapp children and spent many hours learning more about reindeers and the midnight sun and of course, the northern lights.


Even during their quiet time, I caught them reading in little corners all over the house. I think we all needed to be still for a few days. Don’t get me wrong, by the time my husband returned home they were always bouncing off the walls with pent up energy, but overall, they were content to snuggle on my recovery bed, drink tea, knit and listen to stories. Or at times, day dream while I read and make incredibly accurate laser gun noises under their breath while they battle evil forces in a galaxy far, far away. Ah, boys.


Towards the end of the week we experienced an actual beautiful weather day! Granted, a massive tropical storm was providing cloud cover for the entire state, but hey! it was nice and cool! So we jumped on our chance and headed outdoors for a picnic. But first, the boys had to get incredibly dirty. They caked on the mud, made leaf crowns, painted each other’s faces, adventured in other realms and had a marvelous morning. They settled onto their blanket as I read aloud from a stack of books I brought outside with us. They watched the clouds for a bit as I read and eventually, they each closed their eyes and just listened to the story. They looked so peaceful all cuddled up together. This only lasted a few minutes before someone threw a punch or tooted or threw grass in someone’s face and the equilibrium was lost. But still, those fleeting moments of silence and peace were magnificent.


Lastly, we marked the anniversary of our faithful friend’s passing on September 6th. Our beloved pup, Frankie, who was with us for 8 years. It was a hard day for everyone. I am thankful that the boys have had time to grieve his death and I recognize that they are still sad and grieving. Its the biggest loss they have encountered so far and it was a heavy day in the midst of our study. I am glad that we could honor that day the way these boys needed to. Reindeers, Dutch cookies, Norwegian myths, poetry tea time and a walk to our friend’s grave with a fistful of purple flowers.


Norway was beautiful and its one of those studies I will treasure in my heart because of all we experienced as lived out our week.

We’ll meet again in Paris!






My name is J and I am the other half of Farmhouse Schoolhouse.  I am a homeschooling father of 4 young boys, which means that about once a month I retreat to a quiet room of the house, hold my head in my hands, and wonder “Why on earth are we doing this?  Public school is still free, and 8 hours a day, right?”  Well, this section of Farmhouse Schoolhouse will be where I share the experiences that drive me into those moments of quiet retreat in the first place, and the many factors that coax me back out and encourage me to continue walking down this homeschooling path with my family.

“Live and learn” is a common mantra around here, and we are willing to share what we have learned as we progress.


Given that Elsie is a bookworm and I am an engineer, our perspectives should be diverse enough to present a broad view of the daily academics and experiential learning that make up our homeschooling life, and what works and what doesn’t.  My intention in writing is twofold: to share my experiences as a homeschooling dad with other homeschooling dads out there, and to provide homeschooling mommas with a perspective on another father’s role and duty in the whole homeschooling process.


Finally, Elsie and I are adamant about the purpose of the Farmhouse Schoolhouse blog, that through sharing ideas and experiences, other families in the homeschooling community can be encouraged and strengthened.  Hopefully this can be a place where you find unique and interesting ways to strengthen your family through educating and nurturing your children.


So welcome to Dr J’s Corner. Stay tuned!

MFW Kindergarten: Water




The sad news is my computer crashed and I lost all my pictures. The good news is that super smart computer people are working hard on recovering the pictures. I don’t even have the words to describe what they are doing, where they are getting pictures from or what they are transferring the pictures to–that is how bad I am with technology. And so dear friends, forgive me for using some pictures that were not taken at the time we finished this unit.


Our water study began as a carry over from our Octopus study. My little guy had memories of his brothers studying Water in Kindergarten and he came ready with opinions and ideas of what he wanted to do.

First up? Playing with water and studying its flow and learning about gravity. Once upon his Dad (and I on occasion) worked in rural Honduras installing gravity fed water systems. We pulled out the old scrapbook and looked at pictures of the water tank and discussed how the pipes were laid and how the system worked to bring water all the way down the mountain to the village homes. We headed outside and turned on the hose and aimed the water down the drive. We took note of where the rivulets and streams formed and then we put things in the water’s path and watched the streams diverge and move around our obstacles. This used to be one of our favorites things to do at the creek near our home when we lived in Pennsylvania.

I also had to promise him a game of “Pooh sticks” for our upcoming visit to North Carolina. It was the first thing we did when we got to our favorite bridge. If you are unfamiliar with “pooh sticks” please run to your local library and grab a copy of AA Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” and investigate. It is such fun and a great way to study stream flow and currents!


Next we looked at  A Drop of Water by Walter Wick. I love the photos in this book. We went on to study the three states of matter in our kitchen. We let an ice cube melt into a pan and then we set the pan on the stove and watched the water evaporate. I held a piece of aluminum over it to gather some of the moisture and then we froze the collected water into a wee little cube.


Of course this unit calls for field trips! We stopped by a local river to observe the water and its ecosystem. We managed to find a pond and made similar observation. Last but not least, we went to the seaside to enjoy the water. It was a great day.

I made a few trays for him that week using river stones from the dollar store. I included a pitcher of blue tinted water and he had fun making different land form inside his tray. I would introduce various safari toobs and he would play with the corresponding animals. I also used a pack of instant snow and we played with some arctic animals.




He spent the last two days of his study reading lots and lots of fun library books from our book basket and trying out some experiments with one of his brother’s science books. They did half a dozen water experiments that day and made an enormous mess. But they learned so much together, through trail and error and teamwork. It was worth the mess!