MFW Adventures: West by Wagon and the Human Body


Its our favorite time of year! “Winter.” The weather is gorgeous, though very rainy this year, and we spend more time than ever out of doors.

The garden has gone absolutely berserk this year. I love walking outside and cutting a head of lettuce before dinner. We planted more veggies this week and I am looking forward to harvesting them in March.


West by wagon train! The boys were eager to jump right in. I gave them each a small bag and asked them to pack things they would need for one week of travel through an unsettled, wild area.

We had to pack and repack for over an hour. It was fun watching them try to figure out what really needed to go in the bag and what they could do without.  We read “Daily Life in a Covered Wagon” by Paul Erickson and the boys made their own “travel journals” as an exercise in creative writing. They wrote and illustrated stories about their make believe travels on the Oregon Trail. These entries read like the old Oregon Trail computer game I loved as a kid. Day 1: shot a buffalo. Day 2: dysentery.  The illustrations were hilarious. I love when they ask to do their own projects. Its fun to watch their creativity bloom as they take complete control over their work.

After reading “The Josefina Story Quilt” and our reading selection from American Pioneers and Patriots, the boys asked if they could make their own quilts. After showing them squares from the quilt I’ve been working on for the last nine years (no joke) they opted for glueing fabric scraps onto paper and making “Quilt Art.”


See that little model wagon? Looks nice in the picture doesn’t it? Its garbage. We could have burned three dollar bills in front of our children and they would have learned a greater lesson than the experience of putting this thing together. While we’ve had fun with other wood building kits, this one received poor marks. The quality is terrible and there is no building involved. You glue pieces together and watch the wheels fall off because the accompanying nails don’t fit correctly in the predrilled holes. a big thank you to my patient hubby for seeing that project through to the bitter end.

After that disaster, we opted to use our play stand as a covered wagon. We threw a white sheet overtop and our eldest sang “Old Dan Tucker” as the kids pretended to bump along the trail. They ate lunch in their wagon and pretended to cook a few meals while I read aloud from their book basket. Then our youngest began crying for his play stand. “My birds! My blocks! My sky!” We put things to rights once more and he has not left it since. Territory claimed!


We used the booklet, “My Body” last year during Cycle 3 of Classical Conversations.


The boys each made a life size cut out of their body which they then filled in with various organ systems from the pages of this book. One book can be used for an entire family or classroom.


It was a great learning experience. I was tempted to repeat it once more for this unit but instead chose the following add ins:



This dover coloring book was an excellent choice for the boys. They have loved working in it and describing the various organs and systems to me as they complete each section.


We picked up a Magic School Bus Human Anatomy science kit. The boys completed the majority of these experiments on their own and learned an incredible amount of information. This kit has inspired me to allow the boys to lead more of their own science projects. They are more than capable of gathering their own materials from around the house, following procedural steps, forming hypothesis and recording their results. I picked this kit up several months ago during a Zulily science sale. The school bus kits show up on Zulily frequently at a hefty discount.

Other hands on activities we introduced and enjoyed included: puzzles, three part letter cards and a safari toob of human organs.


This digestive system puzzle shows up in the Target dollar section every August.


Our cross section Human Body Model from Learning Resources.


I put together a human anatomy tray with three part cards for sorting and classifying. We used the Human Organs Safari Toob. The boys reached for this tray often throughout the week.

Our little guys spent the majority of their time playing with Hape’s Layered Body Puzzle (male version).


All our boys, ages 3-8 have used and enjoyed the Hape layer puzzle. It is currently the family favorite.

Lastly, to reinforce right and left, our kids have been working with this Hands Counting puzzle from Melissa and Doug.


We’ll be sharing more Anatomy projects in the days to come!

3 thoughts on “MFW Adventures: West by Wagon and the Human Body

  1. We have used many of those resources too! SO fun to watch independence grow through the years!! Great job, mama, providing all the tools and asking good questions. 🙂


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