MFW ECC: Introduction Part 1

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Our “first day of school” picture this year was a group shot. I usually like to do individual pictures, but the weeks leading up to our first day of school were so crazy, that I just did not have time to organize something fancy. So instead, we made the trek into the city and posed in front of our favorite piece of city art with one of our favorite brainiacs. Welcome to third grade boys!

The week leading up to third grade was spent at our local Classical Conversations practicum, hence the craziness leading up to the start of school.  The boys were enrolled in Geography Drawing camp and they had a wonderful time. I loved that it served so nicely as an “introduction before the introduction” to Exploring Countries and Cultures.  They came into this week already knowing the continents song, four oceans song, compass rose, latitude and longitude, basic map reading skills and measuring scale and distance.  The week flew by, and before we knew it, Monday morning dawned and it was time to get back to school!

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We begin each day with our Morning Basket Time or “Morning Meeting.” We gather for breakfast and spend about 30 minutes together. Here is what I do during that time:

Pray
4 minutes: Utilize our maps to practice current country study
6 minutes: Read from our family devotion (Right now its Clay Clarkson’s “Our 24 Family Ways“)
7 minutes: Read from one of our mornings reads (See the list here)
6 minutes: Fine Arts Study (See below)
4 minutes: Talk about the upcoming day. Discuss any departures from the home or any major chores that need to be done. Review the day before and have any necessary discussions regarding expectation or course correction.
3 minutes: Close in prayer, put breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, and proceed with the day!

Now our Morning Fine Arts time is kept very, very simple. We do something different every day. We have our hymn study for the year from Simply Charlotte Mason. The boys are learning “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” by Isaac Watts these next few weeks. The hymn study is ongoing for the whole year.

We will spend three months with Chopin using Music Study with the Masters and living books on Chopin by Opal Wheeler. We are also spending the next three months with Monet using this study pack from Simply Charlotte Mason.  As you can see from the time allotments, the study is quite brief. We don’t deconstruct every painting we look at, we appreciate and become very familiar with it. We become so accustomed to Chopin that when we are out and about and a previously unheard piece by Chopin reaches our ears, the boys perk up and say, “Hey! I bet thats Chopin! It sounds just like him!” The artist and composer are changed out every three months.

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Based on other reports of low pretest scores, I went into the day anticipating low scores on our country identification pretest. My children definitely did not get every country, but they performed much higher than I had anticipated in part because of their time in Classical Conversations and also their frequent use of Pin it! Maps. There is still much to be learned, however, and they are eager to take on the task. I was careful to keep my face completely neutral, even when they missed countries I KNEW they knew.

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We spent that first morning playing with globes and maps and talking about traveling. They filled out their “passports” and filled in a few dates from Maps and Globes into their individual book of centuries. (We use spiral bound timeline notebooks from Miller Pads and Paper). It was definitely a week of light mornings, which the boys greatly enjoyed. We completed a lesson from our Saxon 3 math each day and spent a couple of days in our Memoria Press Latin books.

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Our summers are so abysmally hot and often full of torrential rains that we are indoors much of the time. In the afternoons, during the worst rainstorms, we like to cozy up together and have tea and treats and poetry. “PoetTreats” is a great favorite of theirs. Its something small I can do to bless their hearts and show them my love and care and complete attention. I set the table and put out my fanciest tea cups. We pour oh so many cups of tea and we read our favorite poems over and over again. Its silly and special and lovely. Note the absence of our preschooler in this photo, he is typically asleep during teatime, which is why its teatime and not disaster relief time.  People sometimes remark that my boys are “weird” for liking teatime. Well, tea is enjoyed by most men around the world and no one bats an eye at that. Tea is not just lace and pearls and flowers, its warm drink, a bite to eat and good conversation. Its a restful pause in the middle of one’s day and can be appreciated by anyone because tea, like breakfast, lunch or dinner, is about as gender neutral as it gets, in my opinion.

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In the early afternoons, the boys like to work on handwriting, enjoy independent reading hour, work on their handicrafts (currently its simple basket weaving or knitting) or choose a fun hands on activity. My eldest has been enjoying Pin it! Maps Land and Water forms map lately, which I love.

We read “God Speaks Numanggang” at the dinner table and my husband and I both cried. Our eldest was so moved he is now asking how he can aide in bible translation and is dreaming of which countries he can travel to in order to take on this heavy work. We are surprising them next month with a trip to the Wycliffe headquarters in Orlando.

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My third born is currently in MFW Kindergarten and hit the unit Uu-Us this week. So on top of a study of the five senses, I threw in a little world culture to tie the week together. The cards on the wall are eeBoo Children of the World Artist Cards, they are no longer on Amazon, but do pop up occasionally on Zulily. The boys all had fun enjoying this little corner of the classroom this week.

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We had great fun with all of our read alouds this week. I always begin geography study with a lesson from Charlotte Mason’s Elementary Geography and then add in our read alouds afterward. Aside from the listed reading selections in the back of the ECC teacher’s manual, you can find more wonderful books about the world using Jamie Martin and Tsh Oxenreider’s new book, “Give Your Child the World,” which has excellent book lists inside for every region of the world.  I’ve included our read  alouds this week in our booklist at the end of this post.

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The boys have opted to make art books for their geography terms instead of flash cards. I may illustrate some flash cards just for review as the year ambles on.

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We continue to use Half a Hundred Acre Wood’s excellent blob maps throughout our year. The boys sometimes blob in other places too. I love how the blob map turned out on our plexiglass easel. He was able to position the easel so that the wall map was in his line of sight and then he transferred the continents by their correct position onto the easel. Spontaneous, fun, hands on exercises like this are always my favorite and turn out way better than anything I lay out in my plans because it is child-led and therefore they are determined to do it!

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My second born chose to work on the World Water and Landforms map during this time, which gives specific form names to pin in the proper place, (i.e. Nile River, Danube River, Mount Kilimanjaro, etc.) This is the next map we move onto after the generic Land and Water forms Map which names geographical features.

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At the end of the week we pulled out our synchronological map of history and had a look at how all the cultures and countries of the world tie together throughout history. The boys could look at this enormous timeline for hours. I love hearing them call out different events they are familiar with and then discover what else was happening at that time.

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Well, if you’re a long time reader, you probably noticed that we were hardly outside this week, which is unusual for us. It has been seriously hot and muggy and the rain has been nonstop. The weather has been so bad that we had to skip much of our science study this week with the exception of our niche project. Our specimen decided to poo right before my youngest’s turn to hold him. You can see from his face that his mind was changed very quickly!

Now here is the confession…..

I really dislike the Complete Book of Animals. My boys do not like busy work or meaningless hand outs and this is essentially a book of handouts. Even the pull-out “story books” are not actually stories but dry informational pamphlets. We will not be using this book for ECC. (No offense to any CBOA believers out there—if your child loves it, that is GREAT!)

We will stick with Properties of Ecosystems and I am currently on the hunt for a better animal study. Chances are I will end up pulling something together for the boys. If anyone has a recommendation, please let us know in the comments below.

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Lastly, a look at this years art enrichment—pottery! I have zero talent in this area, I am thankful to have found local talent with a patient nature and nurturing heart. Lani has been wonderful in teaching my boys and they have greatly enjoyed her class. I am thankful that they have access to this. A word of encouragement for anyone without the means or resources, take a careful look around you. Is there anyone in your sphere with a gift of some sort? Someone that can play an instrument, knit or crochet? Someone with the knowledge of a specific skill set that can be (and should be!) passed down to other generations? See if that person would be willing to teach your child. If its a fellow homeschool mother or father, see if they would be willing to barter. Perhaps you can teach their children something in exchange for your children’s lessons with those friends. Get creative! Not everything has to happen at a professional studio with a packaged price rate.  Most skills in the world are passed down through relationship within community. Maybe your pastor would be willing to teach Greek to a few children once a week? Perhaps the church worship pastor would be willing to teach a guitar lesson once a week. Maybe there are older generations in the church that would be blessed by the company of older children looking to learn from them? Perhaps there is a neighbor or a friend that would be willing to teach your children something. You’ll never know until you ask. Pray beforehand and see what God can do!

On to week 2!!!!

Week 1 Booklist:
As the Crow Flies: A First Book of Maps by Gail Hartman
Akebu to Zapotec by June Hathersmith
People by Peter Spier
Around the World in 80 pages by Antony Mason
One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss
Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacey Shuett
Maps and Scale Drawings by Marion Smoothey
From Here to There by Margery Cuyler
People and Places by Gerard Cheshire
Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney
Celebrations by Anabel Kindersley

12 thoughts on “MFW ECC: Introduction Part 1

  1. You never seize to inspire me! We’re still hobbling along with adventures, 1st and Kinder right now, and trying to enjoy our snail-slow pace. Thank you for taking the time to share your ways, and encourage us! Love, Love, Love the pottery craft they’re learning!

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  2. Thanks for the heads up on CBOA. My boys very much dislike “busy work” as well. Keep us posted as to what you find as a replacement. Have you looked into any of the Apologia Jr. Zoology books? I have not personally seen them to know what the Jr. Notebooks involve but I have friends who love them. My boys are animal lovers so I want to find something they would really enjoy this year. Looking forward to following your family through ECC this year. We will be starting in a month.

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  3. I just wanted to thank you for writing all these great detailed posts about your experiences with MFW and AYoPS. I found your blog because you liked one of my photos on Instagram. I have 7 boys (plus 2 girls) and the way you do things reminds me a lot of the way we used to do things when my older kids were younger, except that I have never been as organized! We have just come off a hard year of me being pregnant again and feeling like I am letting my youngest ones down and being really, really tired of doing nothing but “the basics” with my other kids. I have 6 official “students”, though, and some special needs to deal with, and I wanted something fun, I’m also kind of tired of cobbling my own stuff together because I also have a problem with consistency. After MUCH deliberation, in which I read every single one of your MFW posts, I finally pulled the trigger and ordered MFW K for my 6 yo (who’s a little “behind” in his reading, though I hesitate to say that a just turned 6 yo is “behind”) and Adventures for my 8 yo. My older kids will be doing a mixture of Ambleside Online and Beautiful Feet on the same themes. (Because they’ve already read or listened to a lot of Exploration to 1850 and I didn’t like the science books that came with that package.) The 3 and 6 yo are going to be using AYoPS. Like your boys, though, I imagine all my boys will join in, too. 🙂

    I was wondering how you balanced doing so much hands-on stuff with doing three different levels of curriculum? My curriculum hasn’t come yet so I haven’t gotten a chance to look at the guides, but I’m sure my biggest problem will be carving out the time to do the K and Pre-K stuff.

    Oh, and as far as your animal study goes… I noticed in a different post that you were thinking about using the Burgess Book of Animals? The AO Year 2 site has a few links to help with a taxonomic study of the animals in the Burgess Book, and if you do a Pinterest search on the Burgess Book of Animals, you can find coloring sheets and other activities to go along with it. We have a spotty track record with the Burgess books — when I tried to read the Burgess Book of Birds to my 6 yo who is now 17 and a serious birder, she told me she didn’t want any books about talking animals, she just wanted the facts. I felt a little bit like a Charlotte Mason failure at the time!

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  4. Hi! I love your blog! I am doing Adventures with my daughter this fall& the following year for third grade , ECC. I plan to use Memoria Press Mammals for the animal science portion that year . We have used The World of Animals this past year& my daughter is one of those children that loves it! It worked well with the Enrichment portion of MP which we love. I’m combining Adventures & ECC with MP. I’ve already gathered our ECC books we are very excited about that year!😃I look forward to viewing your choices ,your blog helped so much with my Adventures planning! Thank you!

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  5. Hi! I love your blog! It has been such an inspiration : ) Have you looked into The Story Book of Science by Jean-Henri Fabre? The kids love the stories and they don’t even realize they are “learning” lol. Something will come up and the light bulb goes off that they know the answer because of the stories we read! Oh and HUGE fan of the Kratt brothers here as well.

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