MFW Adventures: More States & Birds + Evaluations

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It’s Fall inside ya’ll!!!

Confession: I love autumn when its actually autumn, but I’ve never been a big fan of decorating for fall when it looks like the the height of summer outside. Yet my boys love decorating, so this is the week when I show them love by hauling out the box of fall decorations from the boiling hot garage and then spend hours of my life tossing fabric leaves on every available surface of my home. Sigh.

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Now autumn themed food? I can get on board with that at any time of year. My pumpkin bread will never ever be as good as my Mom’s bread, but that doesn’t stop me from tossing a sub-par loaf in the oven now and then. It smells good enough to draw in one or two kids. Beggars can’t be choosers. Oh the joy of reading “Farmer Boy” around a plate of warm mediocre pumpkin bread! Tea time is 30% better these days.

Week 15 arrived and I realized that we were almost halfway done with Adventures. We are having fun and time is flying fast! Not as fast as the birds outside when they hear us coming, but close enough.  I wanted to spend some time evaluating our homeschool life now that we are nearing the halfway mark. Here’s what happened this week…
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On Monday morning my son quipped, “Guess we are in for another round of birds and states!” and so we were. You can read all about how we study the states and birds here.

We added a few great elements this week that my boys enjoyed. Beginning with inspiration from this lovely graphic….
bird-tracks-animals-infographics-600x600-1The boys and I started to look around for bird tracks and scat along with feathers and nests. We have found some pretty great stuff so far along with some not so legitimate made up stuff too. (My four year is the King of “Look at this oviraptor egg that I found!”)  We are gearing up for a deeper study of animal tracking next week with Daniel Boone, so this was a great introduction. Premeditated Leftovers has a handy dandy article on Bird Unit Study Resources and we used several of those ideas this week.

We are anxiously awaiting our new Birdscapes clear view bird feeder from Amazon. Hopefully feeding the birds straight from our window will provide us with plenty of bird watching opportunities. We decided to wait one more week before decorating our tree for the birds. A low key schedule next week will provide ample time for bird viewing so we can reap the rewards of our hard work! The boys are eagerly planning out bird treats, designing shelters and building additional feeders.  We’ve picked a tree close to the house but far from walkways. (No sunflower seed enhanced poo poo on my sidewalk, thank you!) The tree is situated near a large thicket of thorny flowering plants which already house many birds. We’ll be posting updates of our Bird Tree along with our upcoming Bird Watching post!

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I’ve been training Team A to take more initiative and responsibility with their school work. Teaching time management is a taxing but worthy effort. Some days the boys decide to forgo our block schedule rhythm and finish all their work quickly in order to spend the remainder of the day outside. My boys are starting to recognize how and when they work best. I don’t think I really learned that about myself until halfway through college!  I’m thankful they have the opportunity to evaluate those things now.

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This week they flew through their work in the early morning hours and then rushed outside to play the day away. They played with mud, sticks, puddles, grass, stringy moss, leaves and pine needles. I assumed they were just making an enormous mess and having fun.  After a few hours my son invited me over and explained what they were working on.

“We are watching the water flow from the top of the crest down into this lower area and figuring out all the ways to break up the stream and make it flow the way we want to. We built the things to stop the water from flowing and doing that created all these little lakes. Then we tested out what things would sink and what things would float. Then we played with the water hose to figure out how much water had to come out at which speed in order to knock down the dams we built. Like a flash flood? And we tried making little mud houses to see if they could stand even against certain levels of water flow. Water always flows downhill, don’t forget. If you stand down there you might think its flowing up towards you, but its not. Its flowing down. Think of the Nile river flowing North. You are North but your elevation is lower so that means our river flows down towards the North. Which reminds me, that puddle is the Sea of Galilee and that little rivulet is the Jordan river and guess where it flows, Mom? The DEAD Sea! We filled it with dead leaves so it wouldn’t get confused with the Sea of Galilee.”

This blew me away. As he spoke I could connect the dots between the years of My Fathers World. Bible stories, science projects, history work, books, and games. Its strange watching MFW K, MFW 1st and MFW Adventures come together in a single moment and then join hands and merrily skip away.  I tuck these moments away and reflect on them in the moments when the world tries to bring doubt into our classroom. When the devil whispers that what we are doing is not enough, that the kids don’t know enough, that I am not enough; I silence those whispers with the moments of affirmation God gives me. Those precious moments I can look back on, reach out to cup in my hands and then spill out like little pearls before God as I thank Him for His faithfulness. He called me to homeschool. He is equipping me daily. He is even encouraging me while I stand in the heat, swatting mosquitoes and listening to my eldest bubble up knowledge that feels outrageously beautiful to him.

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Here is the plain truth of my homeschool life at the close of week 15: My rough and tumble boys are thriving with their gentle education. Its not perfect. It doesn’t have to be perfect in order for them to thrive. In fact, I think they are thriving because our homeschool is not perfect.

Because the preschooler threw tantrums in the classroom this morning, we ran away to the park and had a beautiful morning.

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Because I forgot to print out our language arts cards, we stayed even longer since we didn’t have a reason to rush home.

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Because I lost my temper in a flood of sinful anger, I had the opportunity to apologize to my boys under the shade of this beautiful tree. We got to talk about grace again and it reminded us of this week’s Bible verse and before I knew it, we were talking about the Tabernacle and the Temple and the mighty curtain torn asunder and we were all breathing in gratitude together.

Because MFW is gentle with my children, it reminds me to be gentle with myself. Gentle with my expectations and the demands I put upon myself as a wife, mother and teacher. I recite Isaiah 40:11 to myself quite often, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

He is gentle with us!

I never expected that one of the defining words of their childhood would be “gentle.” And yet there it is, coexisting with other defining words/phrases like: “muddy, messy, adventure, accident-prone, projectile vomit, projectile everything else, stories, farming,therapy, insects, confidence, legos, bravery.”

“Gentle” is the umbrella that covers all the other words.

I am so thankful for that.

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