MFW Adventures: Eli Whitney & Failure

We have taken full advantage of all the FREEDOM homeschooling has to offer these past few weeks.  During our study of Eli Whitney, we managed to travel south to visit my family for a celebration, we returned home to host my in-laws for a few days and we visited Legoland. We managed to stay on schedule, despite a birthday celebration and the stomach flu tossed into the already crazy mix.

Legoland offers wonderful deals for Homeschool families. We enjoyed an almost empty park and the boys returned, brimming with ideas for new builds. Perfect place to be for studying the great Eli Whitney.

IMG_8226We always love heading back to my hometown. The boys have four great grandparents living there and they soak up all the time they can with them.  After spending time discussing the process of harvesting and deseeding cotton, the boys had a chance to visit my grandparents and harvest coffee beans off their coffee plants.

IMG_8265It began to rain as we pulled the red beans off the plant. The large green leaves overhead kept us mostly dry. It was a moment to etch upon my soul, working alongside my little guys in my Abuelo’s backyard, the rain falling all around us and pitter pattering on the leaves. We chatted as we gathered, then we tried to come up with ideas to make the coffee harvest a bit easier.
IMG_8268I spent a few days cleaning up all sorts of coffee gin prototypes off the floor.  My favorite lego creation featured a giant claw hand that was manipulated with a long hollow stick. A button on the side opened and closed the hand. The beans fell through the stick into a sorting compartment that hulls the seeds with “tiny razors.” Later, the compartment detaches, the seeds then dry out in the sun within the confines of the compartment. Once the seeds dry, the compartment can be placed over a stove top for roasting. They spent a long time thinking through the design of their coffee gin. The five year old wants to market it. IMG_8539Sometimes I am tempted to make projects for the boys, especially models of things we are learning about. I have to remind myself that they learn nothing from sitting by while I fashion something. It is always, always better to let them build and discover for themselves. The boys made the cotton gin pictured above. They failed repeatedly before they got it just right.
IMG_8008Every week, they are getting better and better at failing. Its wonderful! They are learning how to make mistakes and how to recover from them. They are learning that success takes patience and hard work. Sheltering my kids from mistakes and failures is probably one of the cruelest things I could do to them. I want them to experience failure while they are in my home, while I am nearby to support them as they sort out what went wrong.

We are looking forward to learning more about other great American inventors. So many learning possibilities await! I am currently gathering all sorts of odds and ends, from broken appliances to random spare parts. We are making room in our home for an Invention Station. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!


We are more than halfway through Adventures. The boys have completed over half of their Saxon Math work for Grade 2. They completed the Wolf level of Wild Explorers Club and have moved on to the Bobcat level.  It all feels an awful lot like growing up…..
IMG_8504We celebrated all these good things with a day at the theater. I am thankful to live near a theater program that includes homeschool families in their arrangement with the local public school system. Its costs our family much less money to attend the live theater than to attend the movie theater.IMG_8202

Ohio Pioneers are on the horizon. Looking forward to building rafts and making maps with my boys!

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