MFW Adventures: Native Americans & Adventure

IMG_5127When our curriculum box arrived last spring, my eldest closed his eyes tight and whispered over and over, “Please let there be Indian stuff, please let there be Indian stuff.”

Needless to day, before I even cracked open the planner, I knew the Native American unit would be our first “extra big” study! My goal for the two weeks was a lofty one. Scrawled under unit 4 it reads: “Draw closer to Jesus and let the boys have a BLAST!”

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I had a hug list of fun crafts and potential projects. I sat the boys down and said, “What would YOU like to do?” Well, they pretty much wanted to do everything.  The first four days of our unit consisted of read alouds and handicrafts.IMG_4965

We read the “Native Americans” book, included in the MFW package, a tremendous hit. The boys adored it! We finished Squanto and reread the D’aulaire’s “Pocahontas.” We read through a few of the books from our “If you lived” series. The boys got a nice stack of books from the library—igloos, pueblos, pottery making, bead work, etc. They watched Reading Rainbow’s “Legend of the Indian Paintbrush.”

While I read from this enormous stack of books, the boys keep their hands busy with the following….

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Matching Native Americans to their appropriate homes. These Montessori cards are free printables. Click here for the main page which lists tons of other free printables. The dwelling cards are listed under “Native American Homes.”

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Plains Native American cards

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We made a few dwellings. Search pinterest, you will find a zillion links for printable homes that your kids can color, build and then fight over. (#Teepeegate2015 was REAL folks). We tried to make an igloo with tiny marshmallows but…well, have YOU ever tried to make an igloo out of marshmallows? Its hard! And marshmallows are delicious. So instead we ended up eating our building materials and imagining what an igloo made of marshmallows would have been like. The answer was, “beautiful and delicious.”

I made a busy box for my sensory needs Tot that everyone ended up loving and enjoying. Its pretty complicated so I’ve included detailed directions for precise execution.

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Step 1: Container capable of containing
Step 2: Dried corn kernels.
Step 3: Toob of Indians

I wondered if it would be a Tot*astrophe in the making, but alas, my two year old understood the concept of “you dump it out = you lose it forever” and we never had any problems going forward.

I needed Tot’s hands busy so his brothers and I could tackle this:
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Indian beadwork belts.

This lady’s website is pretty stellar so I won’t bother explaining what we did.  Just click and go.  DISCLAIMER: These are totally addicting. We made nine belts and guys, I am seriously contemplating making something I can wear in public. Apparently, the fashion sense I had as a nine year old never completely died. (GAH! Pony beads!)

I over guestimated how many beads we would need for those belts and we ended up with a hefty bowl of leftovers. No problem, Indian necklaces for all! Even the tot joined in. (Hello unintentional fine motor skill therapy sesh!)
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This was life for DAYS, people. I read lovely books out loud and my kids made things they were excited about. I didn’t throw in any worksheets or maps for fear of breaking this incredible learning trance they were in. I am amazed at how much information they retained! We had a few moments of “so what did you learn today?” in which the children spit out more information than even I remembered. (My poor old brain).

Then we had a two day explosion of art work. I mean, the kids just would. not. stop. drawing. pictures.  Galleries started to sprout up everywhere.

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They are currently making a mural for my bathroom wall. My son sweetly offered, “we’ll put lots of interesting things in the picture so you have stuff to look at when you are in there forever.” Anyone else hide out in the bathroom sometimes when hubby gets home? I totally do! I hide in the shower and eat chocolate or cry or read a book. Apparently  my kids think I have an intestinal disorder and are now, God bless their little hearts, offering artwork as a way to help me cope.

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Buffalo skin paintings were lots of fun. The boys adored Draw Write Now book No. 3’s tutorial on Indian Pictographs and they made up hilarious stories. I spit out my tea when my son translated his drawing “Indian leaves teepee. Gone for three days. Squaw gets mad and hunts down Indian. Indian does dishes alone. Release the chickens! Run across the river. Don’t step on Buffalo poop.”

Sign language day was another classic. And by classic I mean that I spoke the words: “Son, please never do that in public. Thank you very much.”

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Yesterday they built a totem pole.

Child #1:“Mom, you are the green one!”
Child#2 “Great job! Looks just like Mom!”

Thanks for keeping me humble, kids.

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We tried to grind corn for about three minutes until we realized that it was pretty much the worst thing ever. Everyone conceded that we are spoiled rotten humans and we moved on to boxed corn bread.

We ended our unit with Teepee building. One of our neighbors hauled out a ton of brush and branches to their curb a few days ago. I made Hubby and #2 ride over in the truck and haul some back. The boys had a great time building up teepees together. It was miserably hot, but they loved it and are planning to spend all day Saturday building. I will be inside doing absolutely nothing Indian related.

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I am loving our MFW Adventures year. Really, I just love being with my boys. I am so thankful that I get the best hours of their day. Not just early morning mumbles and late afternoon grouchiness. I get the WHOLE DAY! I get all the fun and all the memories (and all the fights and all the tantrums). I was miserably sick this week, but I stayed grateful and in the moment because Jesus kept showing me each day the incredible blessing and honor of homeschooling.

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We made these little beeswax candles a few days ago for our John 8:12 projects. I filled a pan with water and placed a glass pyrex measuring cup in the pan. I filled the pyrex cup with beeswax pellets. Once they melted, the boys poured the beeswax into these tiny jam jars. After the wax set, we trimmed the wick and walked around the dark farmhouse, candles lit, while reciting our verse and reflecting on the overwhelming greatness of Jesus.

If the boys learned a lot about Native Americans this week, great. If they had fun, super. But did they grow closer to the Lord? That is how I am measuring each week. Not by facts memorized or books read. Did they grow closer? Is their light shining bright? Lord, may they remain in you and never walk in darkness.

8 thoughts on “MFW Adventures: Native Americans & Adventure

    1. This is amazing! I am starting Adventures with my 3 boys in a couple weeks and love what you are doing here. I look forward to following you this year… we are switching from a traditional textbook/workbook heavy curriculum to this because I am tired of them hating school and complaining all the time. I am hoping this will breathe new life into us all! Thanks for sharing!

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  1. Love your blog! We are doing adventures this year as well and I love all your boy friendly ideas! Where did you find the white board notebook paper board and stand! That would be so helpful for my boys!

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    1. Thanks! I found the whiteboard notebook paper and the stand at Target in the dollar section. It might be the best homeschool tool I have ever purchased! We use it nonstop. 🙂 Have a wonderful Adventures year with your kiddos!

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  2. What did you match the Native American homes to? What did you do with the Plain Native American cards? Thank you for sharing everything you did, we are currently in week 4.

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