MFW Adventures: Michigan Pioneers & QUESTions

IMG_5330The avocados are almost ready for harvest and we have finished week 7 of MFW Adventures! I really had no idea how to prepare for our last true Colonial week. The boys were pretty saturated with information going into Monday. We’ve read tons of books, done handicrafts, and played “Colonial Town” dozens of times, where else could I take things? Well, I thought it would be a great “application” week. It was a bit of an experiment for us. Here’s how it went…

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We have a few of these books by Edward Tunis. Frontier living, Pioneer Living, Early Colonial Americans, etc. We found them at a curriculum rummage last year. They are very thick and definitely not something my boys could pick up and plow through on their own.  But we did enjoy looking through these together. We pressed on with our Beautiful Feet study. We read “The Matchlock Gun.” I surprised my eldest boys one night by rousing them after we tucked all the kids in for the night. I served them guava and cream cheese cupcakes, hot mint tea with honey and read extra chapters of “Matchlock Gun” by our “fireplace” (with the heat turned off). They loved having this extra attention with no little brothers around to interrupt the reading. We enjoyed this time together so much. I plan on doing this every couple of weeks with books they are particularly enjoying.

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One of my husband’s best buds from college came visiting this week. We planted another mango tree in the orchard and asked him hundreds of questions about Army life! The kids love getting to practice their hospitality skills with their wonderful uncles (they are blessed with many!)We are grateful for these wonderful visits with friends that stop by the farm.

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Science took an unexpected turn this week. We went on a field trip to our local grocery store/bakery with a group of families from our church. We took time to bake bread and break it together. But when I sat the boys down to make the napkin holder….well…they were not very interested.  Instead they begged to brave the heat and mosquitos for some colonial games outside.

I have no idea where they got the ideas for these games, but within twenty minutes I was laughing so hard, tears were streaming down my face. They had the best time coming up with these incredibly weird, silly games.

Once they grew tired, we started talking about Colonial life in Michigan and the boys wondered what sorts of things they would pick to eat from nature if they were to journey into the wilderness. “Lets go on a QUEST to answer our QUESTIONS,” the second born snickered. We decided to walk through our back hollow and look for things we would use/eat to survive.

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We took our items inside and tried to figure out wether or not any were edible. After a few minutes of research, we concluded that we had gathered exactly ZERO edible items.

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We ended up sketching our finds in our science journals and recording our observations for the day. Afterwards the boys were discussing together the incredible difficulties and uncertainties of early pioneer life. It struck me that somewhere along the way, these stories had made a deep impression on each boy. Pioneers had evolved from romantic idea to historic reality characterized by difficulty, ingenuity, tragedy and courage. We made a list of characteristics the characters in our books demonstrated that we, in turn, admire and would like to incorporate into our own lives.  The boys have each expressed a desire to explore colonial history further, which is very encouraging to this homeschool Mama.  I love the natural applications they came up with and the fact that this study left them hungry for more.

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Halfway through the week, we hightailed it out of the farm and down the coast to my parent’s home.

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We wrapped up arithmetic, spelling and reading in between swimming pool sessions and adventures on the beach.

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Today the boys and I stood before a small reef, holding statue still and waiting for the little tropical fish to accustom themselves to our presence. The shadow of the tall white lighthouse looming over us from the shore. Striped yellow fish, orange fish, needle fish and  two small barracudas, darted out and around our legs. We held our breath and whispered quietly back and forth as the fish circled our legs.

#1: “Mom, most pioneer days seem like they are over. But people can still have pioneer moments if they look for them, don’t you think? This right here is a pioneer moment because I’ve never had a barracuda next to my big toe before. But I’m exploring with courage and honor.”
#2: “Where is the courage and honor part?”
#1: “Well, I am not screaming scared about the barracuda and I have the honor not to splash and scare the little fish away.”
#2: “Hmmm. I guess it is a Pioneer moment! How about that!”

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