MFW Adventures: The New Nation & The New Routine

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We are gearing up for growing season! All around the country people are getting their harvest on, but we are prepping for planting season. The avocados, bananas and pineapples are just about done and the kitchen garden is in the works!

We have lots of little hands eager to help around here. Hubby graciously agreed to build a potting table for our science lab. The boys are so excited to plant seeds and watch them sprout.

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But first: rocks, weeds and grubs! Turns out our new pup, Trusty Banjo, loves to pull weeds. We are well matched and well pleased.

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We wove in as much MFW to our farm routine as possible this week. As we pulled weeds and readied garden beds, we looked for bugs that birds might eat, saving grubs for our chickens while we turned over rocks and caught tiny green katydids. We walked the property, searching for abandoned birds nest, knocked down by squirrels. We found four lovely little nests and enjoyed studying them in all their intricate, thrifty glory. We read five or six books on Audubon and the boys drew a zillion pictures of the birds in our yard. We do have a bald eagle that makes the rounds here on the farm. We love catching sight of her in the early morning. What a powerful bird! She has been featured repeatedly in our sketches this week.  We searched for our local Audubon chapter and found tons of field trip opportunities and information on local birds. Last but not least, a rainy afternoon snack of “dirt in a cup” (chocolate pudding, crumbled Oreos on top with a gummy worm or two tucked inside) helped round out our first bird week.

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The boys are eager to start marking out our kitchen garden plot. They are not eager to take more pictures with the sun shining in their faces. Soon, we will have time in the garden each morning as part of our Fall-Spring schedule. There is talk of a Darth Vader scarecrow. I can not wait!

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The nature journals are ready to come back out now that the heat is finally becoming bearable again. The boys were quite taken with all the new mold patterns on our towering slash pines. In fact, all new growth immediately caught their attention. We drowned in our doggy grief for so many weeks, we failed to notice all the new life outside our windows. The changes took us all by surprise. I love that even in a place with only two seasons, we can see change in the nature around us.  The boys have their special trees that they visit regularly. We may not ever see them change color or drop leaves, but they are still living, growing wonders, with plenty of subtle changes for attentive eyes to discover.

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Along with a new farming season, we have now officially incorporated all the components of our year. We began Adventures in June and added in new things each month. This month was the final add in, our preschool curriculum, “A Year of Playing Skillfully” by The Homegrown Preschooler. Before the week was out, I noticed something strange…

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Team B, the two youngest in our crew, were behaving like angels in the schoolroom. Playing quietly with their resources. Listening well to directions.

It was weird.

It was a miracle.

It was a wee bit disconcerting.

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Why is this happening? Are they plotting something? Will there be an ambush later?
I’ve previously shared about our rhythm. I teach in block schedule format. If we begin arithmetic at 8AM, we do not begin our next subject until 9AM. If the boys only take 15 minutes to complete arithmetic, then they have 45 minutes of free play until they return for their 9AM subject. It they finish arithmetic in  58 minutes, then they have two minutes before the next subject starts.

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Well, the boys were certainly focused this week! Team A finished each subject with at least half an hour to spare for free play. Team B played quietly on the sidelines, waiting for the all clear signal.

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Why was everything suddenly working so well?  They were behaving with exceptional dedication and focus because they knew what was waiting for them on the other side of responsibility….

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Play. Play was waiting. Beautiful, glorious, child-led play. My 7 & 6 year old need time to play. Lots and lots of time. I am giving them the very intentional gift of time. The hours are not packed to the hilt with lists of things to do. They finish their work and then they are released to enjoy their play. What a gift free time is for them.  Time to be a child, time to pause and wonder how to employ new skills and test the world around them during that precious half hour of leisure.

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Wonderful things are happening on the farm. Confidence and happiness. Less stress and more mess. They are learning more than ever through these invitations to play and discover. The preschoolers rush outside and engage everything head on. Sorting, measuring, testing, creating, evaluating, gathering, thinking, wondering and learning how things work. They all come back to the schoolroom, refreshed and ready for more work. No complaints.

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I used to look over my planner at the end of each day, to judge how successful our day had been. I measured in check marks.

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The rubric has changed. I walk up to my boys and flip their precious hands over. I look for marks of happiness and wonder and discovery. I look for dirt under fingernails and paint stains on the soft pads of their fingertips.  These are the marks of a good day.

New Nation Resources!

This week, our reading list did not stray from the book basket recommendations made by MFW. We finished up another book in our Beautiful Feet books study, 1801: Year of the Horseless Carriage by Genevieve Foster.

STATE STUDY-
Coloring Sheets: My four year old is quite keen on joining in the state study. I’ve been printing out free state coloring sheets from crayola.com and he loves them! They also have smaller state shape cards that he is enjoying as well.
Legos: My older children love building state Legos after completing their state sheets. I flip their sheet over and begin reading about the state. They grab the Legos basket and begin building the state shape while I read. So far, I’ve made it through each sheet and at least one book from our state book basket. 

New Jersery
Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (DVD) A portion of the film takes place in Atlantic City
Adventure Aquarium: One of our favorite aquariums in the country. My boys love to go on here and read about the different animals in the exhibit. We will be returning for a visit this winter, so it was good to refresh our collective memory and take stock of which exhibits we want to spend the most time at. 
New Jersey History Kids: a fun website to explore!
New Jersey Historical Maps: This website contains historical maps of New Jersey that are interesting to look through.

Pennsylvania
Mr. Nussbaum’s Learning & Fun!: Another fun website with several resources.
Historical Maps of Pennsylvania:   site of historical maps.
Virtual Liberty Bell

Georgia
Georgia Peach Festival 
Colonial Georgia Images

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