MFW ECC: North America/United States Part 2

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Our second week of United States study happened to fall over the 4th of July! Love when things work out that way.

The boys used their Pin it! Maps every day this week! It woke up one morning and found them hard at work on their maps. I drank my tea (while it was still hot) and just stared at them.  Getting to this place felt like the longest, messiest road trip ever and yet it felt like only minutes had transpired. They can start their day without me. They can start their lessons without me. An idea sparks and they know how to chase it and explore it. It took a lot of intentional repetition to get them here. We still have a long way to go, but we see the light! woo-hoo!

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Let me establish something before I get into the hard stuff. I love My Father’s World. I love the company, I love their dedication to spreading God’s word and their work in Bible translation. I love that my boys first years in education have been spent with this company. Ok, now that I have said the above….

I have mentioned in other posts that Exploring Countries and Cultures has already been a bit of a let down. I was bummed with the science but as time marched on I realized that the “Exploring World Geography” book would also be a “no go” for us.  We tried to do several of the worksheets and the kids never remembered what they were about the next day. I may take a few ideas from the book and use a few pages for group activities, but I definitely will not hand each child an enormous stack of handouts and ask them to mow through it all. (UPDATE: Just fond out the EWG is meant for slightly older students, which makes sense. It was scheduled in the regular learning cycle schedule so it looked as though they were recommending it for lower level students. So skipping EWG is not a big deal at all!)

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So the boys will be exploring the world this year on their own terms. We will still follow the ECC schedule, use POE as a guideline, complete the student sheets and recommended reading and of course, use MFW for Bible.

Last night I let them stay up late with all of their library books and they took notes and drew pictures and dug for treasure in those pages. I came back in and they were so excited to tell me all that they had discovered!

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We are midway through our Morning Time materials. Our Simply Charlotte Mason studies of Chopin and Monet are going so well. The boys have learned two hymns by heart, “I Sing the Mighty Power of God” and “To God be the Glory.” They are working on their sculpting together and my seven year old is making strides with his knitting. We are about to move on to hats and hand towels because we only need so many scarves here in South Florida.

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We had so much fun learning about trees this week! The boys really enjoyed taking a close look at different species of trees in the various forests and learning about the ecosystems they are a part of.

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Of course there is nothing like experiencing the real thing. This guy is about 30 feet in the air. He has always been a climber. Once he started crawling, he started climbing and he has never stopped.

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My husband and the boys traveled up to Philadelphia, PA for the 4th of July weekend. It was so wonderful to celebrate the birth of our nation where it all started. They even snuck in a Phillies game with their grandparents!

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So with all that I shared in this post I’ll end with saying that its hard when expectations are not met. But homeschooling requires constant evaluation and reevaluation. We know our children best and I am so glad that I can make changes as needed for my children. I love that they can really dig into their learning and make it their own. I’ll be sharing more in the weeks to come about how we “chase the spark.”

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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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MFW: Exploring Countries & Cultures–Getting Ready!

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Hello friends! We are gearing up for the start of Exploring Countries & Cultures. We are due to kick off our new school year on June 6 and my explorers are chomping at the bit!

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Homeschooling has become such a part of our daily lives that we ended up studying something every week this summer. I never asked the boys to do anything, it was entirely child led–which was wonderful! We ended up taking many, many nature hikes and explored several learning centers in our area. Both boys expressed sadness at the end of Adventures that we did not cover WW1, the Great Depression, WW2, the Civil Rights Movement, etc. So we spent some time covering those topics over the summer. We  predominately used living books. Our favorite by far was, “Only a Dog: A Story of the Great War,” which you can find here.

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Simply Charlotte Mason

We also pulled a few lessons from Ann Voskamp’s “A Child’s Geography” just to whet our appetites for the coming school year. We are in the midst of making paper mache globes to hang in the classroom. The boys have maintained their interest in learning, explored topics of interest and kindled curiosity for the coming school year. I will be honest and say that if my boys arent building, exploring, discovering, playing, learning, SOMETHING!!!! ANYTHING!!!! then they are most definitely fighting and I am most definitely pulling heart out. Even though I needed a break this “summer,” I am more than willing to keep providing learning material just to avoid the hideous sound of four children arguing.

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What have I been up to other than the promotion of world peace? Getting things organized for the school year. Our 3rd son has already begun his K year and things are progressing nicely. Our 4th son is in the last weeks of his curriculum, A Year of Playing Skillfuly by The Homegrown Preschooler. I am in the midst of planning our area practicum for Classical Conversations and gathering materials for my new group that begins class in August. I am so excited to be Directing this new group but I also know that my first callings are: Child of God, Wife to my husband, Mother to my children and Teacher to my children. With this in mind I began my planning by stripping back and trimming away all unnecessary fat. It is often hard to say no because there are many, many wonderful groups and tools and organizations out there. We are blessed to have so many options. As a family, we have prayed and we know where God is calling us and what kind of education He has set before us. Knowing that, we are staying the course and saying “No” where it needs to be said. I do this every year before I lay a finger on any piece of new curriculum. Trim the fat.

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Here are the resources we will be using this year!

1) History, Geography, Bible
My Father’s World: Exploring Countries and Cultures
Pin it! Maps
Classical Conversations Cycle 2

2) Math
Saxon Math 3
Making Math Meaningful
Classical Conversations Cycle 2

3) Phonics & Language Arts
All About Reading Level 3 (8 yo with possible dyslexia)
Explode the Code 6 (7 yo)
Spelling Wisdom
Classical Conversations Cycle 2
Simply Charlotte Mason Language Arts Handbook
Beautiful Feet Books Horse Study

4) Foreign Language
Latin Cristiana 1
Classical Conversations Cycle 2

5) Fine Arts
Simply Charlotte Mason art packs
Piano
2nd semester- Guitar (8yo)
Saxophone (7yo)
Classical Conversations (tin whistle, orchestra study, composer study, artist study)

6) Handwriting
Classical Conversations Prescripts

7)Science
Classical Conversations
MFW Exploring Countries and Culture
Nature Study (TBD)
Beautiful Feet Books Famous Scientists Study

8) Handicrafts
leather work
crochet
knitting
candle making
card making

Morning Basket:
Mathematicians Are People, Too! by Luetta Reimer (Volumes 1 & 2)
Burgess Book of Animals
CC Geography
Brave Companions: Portraits in History by David McCoullough
Stories of the Nations by Lorene Lambert (Volume 1 & 2)
Hymn Study
Scripture Memorization: Ephesians 6

I know that looks like an enormous amount of work! But keep in mind that I have two boys in the same “grade” but not in the same place with learning. For example, we practice our CC memory work each day before math. We will skip count or recite equivalents, etc. Then we pull out our Saxon books and work through a problem set or we bring out our Waldorf notebooks and play with Math, depending on the day! If my eldest is struggling to grasp something in Saxon, we stop and use a more Waldorf approach to connect him to the concept. For language arts, my eldest struggles greatly with reading and has seen tremendous benefit from AAR program. My second born found Explode the Code at a friend’s house, begged me to buy it for him and has flown through the series by himself. He likes to do this when I work with his eldest brother. We approach our spelling and language arts using Simply Charlotte Mason. We need those short, focused lessons with a focus on mastery. Music and Art switch off every other day. Handicrafts are done during leisure time.

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We begin our day with Morning Time. This is usually conducted over a relaxed breakfast with many cups of our favorite tea. First we go over the plan for the day in order to limit surprises. Is there a doctor’s appointment? Will we be visiting anyone? What are the expetations for that visit, etc? The boys then review their current geography work for CC, we read one poem or look at one piece of art and we sing one hymn. Those three things are done in a five minute window of time. Brief. Consistent. Next, we spend 10-15 minutes reading from one of the books listed above. We may finish them all this year, we may not. We just want an enriching story to begin the morning with a variety of subject that connects to things we are learning in the classroom that year. After reading, we spend a few minutes reviewing and learning our scripture passage for the year or we might write out a few cards of thanks or enouragement to friends. We close by singing the Doxology and moving over to the classroom. Again, real life is happening in between the sentences. Spilled tea, burnt toast, hurt feelings, etc. But we never ever ever skip morning time. I am so excited to read the books in our basket this year. I’ve heard great things about the McCollough book and Stories of the Nations in particular. We have a seperate book basket for the lunch hour but I havent quite readied our reading list for the year yet so I will post that once it is ready.

We work on a block schedule,which I have detailed here.

While the older kids are working on their assignments, the younger childer are hard at PLAY!

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I have set up several small spaces throughout the room that I can change throughout the year for the younger two to play and work.  We change toys out of the play stand every few weeks. We’ve also prepared a few other work boxes based on the various continents for the kids to play with (the older boys also work at these spaces too since they also love to play and explore).  All school materials are left accessible to them. Hubby had this ginormous world map with the United States on the right hand side, which left the other continents intact, and features all longitude and latitude lines marked. Hooray for using things you already own! We are planning to display work from each continent around the map as the year progresses.

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To the right of our book cart we have set up several small book cases with tons of books for them to handle as the need arises. Their school books are also tucked in these cases. On top of the bookcases are all the writing and art tools they use on a daily basis. We notebook nearly everything and I will be posting how we do this as the year progresses. I purchased all of their notebooks ready made here along with paint jars, watercolors, brushes and modeling clay. (Yes, long time readers that spy the rainbow boxes in the corner, I caved and got a chicken war cart of doom!)

I’ll pause here to mention two books on our gutter shelf that I am especially excited about this year.
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We plan to incorporate these books with ECC!

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Above is our Pin it! Maps Geography station. All the pin maps, reference maps,control maps, pins, prompts, etc. are stored on these shelves for easy access. Have you visited pinitmaps.com yet? The free resources section is a dream! Free biome cards, land form cards and much more. Check it out! The boys can grab their preferred map along with the corresponding pins and cards and set to work! Read more about these fantastic maps here and here.

Thats the whole kit and caboodle my friends. I’ll post our weekly schedule a week or so before we begin the school year so you can take a peak at how we balance things. See you soon!

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MFW Adventures: The Trails!

 

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We are limping back to life at last! We’ve been sick for the last two weeks and I am ready to get back in the saddle again.  A few days before we fell ill, I happened upon a local listing for a huge solid wood hutch. I’ve been searching a long, long time for one of these bad boys. I was thrilled to find one so close for so cheap ($50). Within the hour it stood in our classroom. It was quite the beast to move! The boys helped me get everything settled before I sat down to finish organizing everything for the week. I had an unfamiliar moment of feeling like we were on top of our game. I was grateful for the way God had provided the hutch, I was grateful for our classroom and for our curriculum. I was finally allowing myself to feel ecstatic over the fact that we had not fallen behind all year long and that the kids seemed to be thriving with the rhythm I had set down for them this year. Really, the week had gone like clockwork. I realized that we had reached an all time high in our homeschool life and it felt really, really good.

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And then a day later, we all fell very, very ill.

We were a miserable, hacking, snotting, petri dish of ultimate yuck.

So now that we are once again, at the bottom of the barrel, allow me to share with you what we did for Unit/Week 26 of Adventures in US History.

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The American Pioneer and Patriots stories this week were fantastic. The kids loved them! The boys wanted to investigate a little further so we pulled out our Geography guide from Beautiful Feet Books and started a study of “Tree in the Trail” by Holling C Holling.
I purchased a bunch of blank books at the beginning of the year and the boys each pulled one out and started their own Tree in the Trail notebook. They drew cottonwood trees and diagrammed their features. We studied their life cycles and habitats. We studied various indian tribes and had a bit of zoology fun with buffalos, pronged deer and wolves. We charted out the trail and studied the arrival of the Spaniards and the westward movement of the pioneers. I am so glad we took on the extra work!

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Here are a few other resources we used and enjoyed:

Santa Fe Trail site has photos, an interactive map, timeline and historical info
Oregon Trail Museum 
Oregon Trail Journal of Francis Parkman

You can find the 1990 version of Oregon Trail HERE and play it on your browser. All the 4th grade feels. Totally played while my kids were asleep! I am so glad to be hauling 2000 lbs of Buffalo meat and be suffering from dysentery once more.

Another game we’ve been playing often is Ticket to Ride. My kids pull this one out all the time and they can play it by themselves which is fantastic!

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We’ve been using Walter Wick’s book “A Drop of Water” for our Liquid, Solid, Gas unit. Check and see if this title is available at your local library. This book really brought a lot of the concepts from the Usborne experiments to life!

We’ve continued with our nature journaling, even in the midst of sickness, thanks to the small collection of little odds and ends that we can study whenever our health or the weather prohibits our usual nature walk. This week the boys took a closer look at the seashore.

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I love their drawings. Its so much fun to watch them grow more and more specific with time and experience. I’ve mentioned before that we had a rough start with art. Its great to see them naturally progressing after such an uphill battle. If the above resonates with you, I encourage you—don’t give up on art!

We started Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War this week. I mentioned to the boys that we only have 6 weeks left after this unit. They were so sad! The rest of the afternoon was spent revisiting some of our old work and looking at our favorite read alouds from the year and reminiscing. My eldest flipped through a book on Native Americans and I found my second born tucked away in the book nook, battle helmet on, reading about his favorite viking. We love you, Adventures!

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MFW Adventures: Gold Rush & Geography Study

While most of the eastern seaboard was buried in snow, we were entirely inundated with rain this week. Nearly 6 inches fell in a 48 hours timespan. The zucchini patch has drowned, roots rotted through and through. Thankfully, the lettuce rows and kale patch do not seem to mind the rain. The turkey eggs continue to incubate, we are roughly one week away from hatch day(s)! Hubby spent all day today in the back hollow, digging holes for our fence posts. Its the first in a series of bays we are setting up for various animals. We are excited to see our little dream unfold.

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Studying the California Gold Rush, spurred the collaborative creation of the “Sunday Times Donut Gang” (pictured above). I briefly entertained the idea of panning for gold with the kids at the local fair but the constant downpour was a great deterrent. Instead, we chose to spend the week reading Sid Fleischman’s “The Great Horn Spoon.” We fell in love with Praiseworthy and wish we could go on an adventure with him. Jack and Good Luck and Mountain Jim were so endearing, we could not bear to put the book down. We are two thirds of the way done and will finish it up next week during our study of California. This book was a huge home run for the kids! If your littles are always begging for more books, this is a lovely one, especially on a rainy afternoon!

By Wednesday I realized that we were nearly out of groceries. I did not relish the thought of walking through a monsoon with the kids so we foraged and made the most of it. A meal of freshly baked bread, milk, jam, cheese and fruit made the cut. We brought out our favorite books and ate while we listened to the rain fall on the rooftop. A Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail picnic of sorts, but the boys had another take: “Mom, this reminds me of Plum Creek and the Ingalls family. Sometimes a simple meal made up of all you have tastes so much better because you worked really hard to put it together.” DSCN0926.JPG

We fell into a great rhythm this week with our school work. If you follow our blog, you know the boys like to play outside between subjects. This week they had to stay indoors and I loved watching what they gravitated towards for play. Our Pin it! Maps were reached for the most often.

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Six months of near daily use and these beauties are holding up wonderfully well! The Land and Water forms set is by far the most popular with the current age span.

This week, we also reached the end of our Beautiful Feet Geography study using “Minn of the Mississippi” by Holling C Holling.

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We followed the journey of a three legged snapping turtle named “Minn”  from the headwaters in Minnesota down to the Gulf of Mexico.

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We found extra study materials, maps and clip art on Little Schoolhouse in the Suburbs.

While this is a geography study, the boys ended up engaging in math, cartography, botany, biology, anthropology, archeology, paleontology, language arts, composition, drawing, water color, and spelling. I loved watching them engage with dictionaries, encyclopedias and various nature books as they conducted their research. We read two chapters per lesson and really enjoyed the questions and exercises provided in the Beautiful Feet Geography guide. The boys are eager to start “Tree in the Trail” next week when we begin our study of the Sante Fe Trail.

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If you are already feeling overwhelmed by the Adventures workload then I do not recommend the above study guide. If you are looking for something extra and have 30-45 minutes a day to spare, then I highly recommend looking into Beautiful Feet Books Geography through Literature Pack. We love Holling C Holling’s living books and look forward to finishing the series. It is recommended for 4th grade and up so we scaled back a few of the exercises. I will likely revisit this pack again when we return to US History.

 

Pin it! Maps: GIVEAWAY!

IMG_5959Its our first giveaway here on FarmhouseSchoolhouse! I am thrilled to announce that we are giving away a Complete Student Set map bundle from Pin it! Maps.

This set includes:
8 — 18 x 24″ Pin Maps (World, North America, South America, Central America/ Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia/ Oceania)
2 — Foam Sheets (18 x 24 x .5″) with plastic corners
30 — 12 x 18″ Control Maps
1 — set of 1147 flag labels and national flags
Flag poles and flag bases
1/2″ Transparent Scotch tape for colored flag labels
3/4″ Transparent Scotch tape for national flags

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Yes, that is 38 maps in total! (30 control maps and 8 pin maps) Your kiddos will learn 196 country names, capitols, and flags. Science abounds here too! My boys are learning about biomes and plate tectonics. We have not built all of our flags yet. I am purchasing my quilting pins from craft stores with coupons whenever I get the chance to leave the house alone! 🙂 This means we are building as we go, but the 4 pinning maps we currently have in rotation are phenomenal. My kinetic learner, my struggling reader, and my overachiever have all benefited greatly from this set.

IMG_5849You can read our reviews here and here. They will give you more insight on how we use this set in our classroom.
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Pin it! Maps also has a large selection of FREE Teaching Materials which we have taken full advantage of. I am so thankful for these extra resources. The homeschooling Mama behind Pin it! Maps has a heart for education and it shows. From the exquisite shading in map detail and inclusion of biomes, to the thoughtful coordination and execution of the various pin labels, to the generous catalogue of beautiful free resources included— is it any wonder that we are now full on Geography nerds? I am a fan! Read more on the website about using these maps with Senior Citizens and those with Learning Differences.

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How to Enter:

Step 1: subscribe to our blog! You’ll find the subscribe button on the sidebar.

Step 2: hop on over to our Facebook page and hit “like” for a second entry.

Step 3: If you click on Pin it! Maps Facebook page and hit “like” that is entry number three!

Step 4: Sharing our giveaway on social media is entry number 4!

Lastly, remember to leave a comment below and let us know how many entries you have. Entries close at 3pm EST on October 10, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and announced later that day. (UPDATE: I was going to announce on the 11th but had just enough time this afternoon. Congratulations to our WINNER!)

Ready. Set? Go!

Our Pin it! Maps 10% off discount code: FARM is effective until October 31, 2015.

MFW Adventures: States & Birds

We are loving our tour through the United States.
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The boys memorized all fifty states and capitols last year during Cycle 3 of Classical Conversations. They also tackled all the geographical features and memorized many different important pieces of American History in their weekly History sentences. I’ve loved watching all this information burst out of them at different points this year.

I was initially worried that the State Study would not be enough on its own for them. But once again, turns out what MFW has prepared is more than sufficient!

I comb-bound all our state sheets into one notebook for each boy and purchased a special set of Prismacolor colored pencils. The boys know these pencils are very special (aka mucho dinero) and are only to be used with our state sheets. I love seeing the special care they have taken with these new tools. Its made them work carefully and their trademark little boy sloppiness has diminished greatly as the days pass. They are eager to shade their state birds just so and capture the exact color of each state flower.

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While the boys work on their State Sheets and Lego State creations, I read from various books. We have been using the suggested book list from MFW, but I have also incorporated a book of collected poems by Lee Bennet Hopkins entitled, “My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States.” I also try and include readings from a few poets or authors hailing from the states we are studying. We usually glean these authors from the list of state poet laureates.  (PS There are FIVE states with Official State Poems).  Lastly, I read the next book off of our Beautiful Feet Books list. I will be posting our list and references soon so be on the lookout! We’ve read so many wonderful new books in the last two weeks. Its fun watching the boys play “raise the barn” or make knick knacks around the house to sell at Portsmouth Market like the Ox-Cart man.

Some days the reading outlasts the work at hand. On those days the boys rush to pull out their much adored US History Geo puzzle.  Some days the work outlasts the reading. On those days I rush to find a bottle of my much adored Essie nail polish. IMG_7143

The littles stay engaged by coloring their own states sheets and then making states out of play doh.  Other times they prefer to stick with their own motor skill/sensory play activities.
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I have honestly spent more time in the last two weeks preparing activities for the younger boys to engage with so that our older boys can focus well on their work. Of course, this means that when the older boys finish their work they rush over to see what their younger siblings are up to and the join in the play!

Our study of birds is progressing beautifully. I am in love with this portion of Adventures! Having the Everglades nearby blesses us with a large variety of birds year round. This gentle introduction of state birds has blossomed into a new hobby for my children.We’ve started collecting feathers and nests. The eldest has asked for several new books on Audubon’s life. We are eager to learn about the birds in our area and are planning a field trip to our local Audubon base.  Pretty much everyone was happy… until they realized we would not be making a delicious chocolate nest treat every single time we studied a new bird.  Oh, the drama!
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Training the boys to observe nature quietly is not easy. I’ve armed them to the teeth with binoculars, notebooks, cameras and colored pencils, hoping that occupied hands would silence voices that lack volume control. This plan met with mixed success. I finally realized that merging the toddler’s snack time with our nature walks was the way to go!

BEHOLD!!!

A recipe on my blog. This may not ever happen again, so enjoy it….


Audubonbons

Ingredients:
Granola bars
Chocolate Bar
Wax Paper

Step 1: Cut granola bar into bite sized squares.
Step 2: Place granola squares onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper
Step 3: Melt the chocolate bar and drizzle it onto the granola squares
Step 4: Place in fridge until hardened. Or place in freezer as an extra treat for teething toddler or as a tooth loss motivator for your 7 year old and his loose tooth thats been hanging in there for two months without falling out. Sigh.
Step 5: Place in baggie and take along on your nature hike.
Step 6: Hand it to your toddler and say “stick some Audubonbons in your pie hole and let your brother draw the mockingbird!”


Next week, we will be writing up a more thorough look at our bird watching activities. It will most certainly not be a “how to” guide, more like a “don’t you feel better about your nature walk/life in general now?” kinda thing.  Tears and laughter abound.

Speaking of life in general. The humidity is starting to dissipate! Its still warm, but its bearable. As in, I no longer feel like I am walking in a can of soup when I walk outside. From this point on, any schooling that can be done outside—will be done outside! Hooray! Time to bust that picnic basket out of storage.

IMG_6924Anyone else adoring “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder? Its inspiring the boys to get even more involved on the farm. Training the new pup to guard the chickens, pulling weeds and helping mark out garden plans. Its going to be a lovely, all hands on deck, kinda Fall!
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