MFW ECC: Introduction Part 2

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Latitude, longitude, elevation-depth, physical maps, political maps, historical maps and more!

This whole week felt like one big adventure. Every time we read about a new kind of map the boys would insist on making their own version of that map. My favorite was the historical map of the city three of them were born in. They drew out the streets they knew and placed symbols for all the major things that happened in our family history. We live at sea level so the elevation-depth map was a challenge until my son decided he would make a pretend one out of legos for Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  We read “Nate the Great and the Missing Key” and basically went outside and recreated the book. It was so much FUN. I find that when kids are laughing, they are learning things they will remember for long years to come.

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We continue on in our geography study using Pin it! Maps. My eldest is “visually disorganized” (ie possible dyslexia) and it is very, very hard for him to make sense of maps. So these maps are a valuable tool for him, it makes the map a 3D experience and he can organize locations and features in his mind and process them in a kinetic way that connects it all together for him.

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We labeled maps and memorized our address again. Global Art was a hit this week but sneak peek: they weren’t so thrilled with it in weeks to come. I’ll share more about that next week.

This brings me to my classic week 2 reality check. Every year I sally forth into new curriculum with stars in my eyes and by week 2, I am having to really readjust a few things.  This year it has hit hardest with science, art and the crazy amount of busy work involved with the MFW Geography book. Sometimes it takes a while to find your groove. Its ok to not use every singe item mapped out for you in the manual. We are in the midst of that process now.

This week I took a hard look at our science. Guys, I officially loathe Book of Animals. Its out of our lives for good. Pin it! Maps has a HUGE section of free resources. We printed out their Biome sorting cards and had a blast sorting cards while reading about the various biomes. We also read a few living books that helped us build relationship with these biomes.

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After an hour of sorting biome cards and telling stories, I cut a large sheet of kraft paper from our butcher roll and placed it on their school table. They began to draw biomes with pastels. I brought out several safari toobs and placed them on the table. I said, “Boys, tell me what you know about biomes.” And they poured out what they knew in words and stories and pictures. The map eventually became a story book and a living creative nonfiction writing exercise. Soon, they were narrating in a visual, kinetic way,  the Kipling stories we had read that morning at breakfast. They ended up taking several exams within that frame of time and they didn’t even know it.

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Side note: I never knew how much my kids were absorbing from Chris and Martin Kratt until we hit the biome unit. Those two and the Frizz have my back.

I am totally ok with that.

Also, we skipped the world cake. I know, I know, I am horrible.

Our preschooler was losing his mind that day. I mean, end times preacher during election season, losing his mind. The thought of pumping him with food dye (which makes him manic) made me want to throw the cake at the kids and flee for the hills. I looked at the older two and asked for mercy. They said what they really wanted was chocolate pie. So we bought instant pudding and ready made crust and called it a day.

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I’ll end with this. My second born has really blossomed lately with his handicraft work. This is the child that is always looking to invent something. If I do not give him something purposeful, meaningful, USEFUL, to do, then he will get up to no good. And he can tell the difference between a big job and distraction, so I have to give him good things to do. This is what makes him tic. Art and handicrafts give him joy and daily purpose during the down times in our schedule.  It took time to teach him these skills and I had to be intentional in following through with his lessons. He has started using his skills to minister to others. Helping me crochet a blanket for a new baby, knitting a scarf for my father in law, sewing my eldest son’s favorite stuffed animal back together. He was such a terror when he was two and I was in despair when he was three. But time is passing and that intentional repetition and consistent habit training have paid off. He still has a long way to go, heck, I have a long way to go too! But I see God’s hand working in his life and that blesses this weary Mama’s heart so deeply. There is no quick fix when it comes to “tough” kids. Sticker charts, programs, gimmicks, etc, they don’t stick around. Heart transformation and intentional habit training through repetition and lots and lots of prayer is what really “sticks.” When it comes down to it, I don’t care about correcting behavior as much as I care about building character.

So if you are in the thick of it this week with a difficult child, train your heart to see beyond the behavior and take a good hard look at the character. Pick one habit and do everything you can to hammer out that good habit in your child over a long period of time. This mothering business does not fit the mold of our fast paced “answers NOW” world. Take your time, friend and give your little one time too.

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