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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Pin it! Maps—Geography lessons in action!

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We have been using Pin it! Maps for our geography lessons since the end of July. I thought I’d provide a little update on how we have been using our maps this past month.  I’ll share a bit about our favorite map, utilizing free material on the site, using the maps with differing learning styles, and finally, I’ll share some of the ways we have used these maps with the littlest Farmhouse Schoolhouse students.

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The farmhouse favorite is definitely the Land and Water Forms map. This 9×24 map is a manageable size for my kids to set up on their own. I often discover my second born in the classroom with the map and accompanying pins set out.  He practices sounding out the words on each flag and then finds its location on the control map that he sets up in front of his pinning map.  He often invites his eldest brother to come and play. Yes, play! They race each other to find the correct features on each map. They quiz each other. Last week they made up a silly song with all the vocabulary terms they deemed silly or strange. “Archipelago and Fjord bought roller skates.

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Three days ago, we were cuddled up in the boy’s bunk beds reading a chapter book. I turned the page and a little voice cried out, “LOOK! An Alpine Lake! Do you see that picture? Right there! That right there! That is an Alpine Lake.” He settled back into the covers with a little smile, “I knew that all by myself.”

I love that my boys can use these maps on their own, absorbing geographical placements and vocabulary terms in a hands on way and then relating it to other areas of study in a natural way.  Not to mention the way it has enhanced their play. I know my boys are learning well by how they are playing. When someone shouts, “Corral the troops west of the delta!” or “We’ll sail to the archipelago and search each individual island for signs of the treasure!” I know things are clicking.

Pin it! Maps has a wonderful tab on their site: FREE TEACHING MATERIALS.

Love me some free teaching materials—and these printables are flawless!

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Above you can see the Land and Water Form cards. I printed, laminated, hole-punched, alphabetized and then placed all the cards on a large ring. What is an inlet? Look it up! The cards provide a graphic of how the feature appears on the map along with a picture of the feature “in real life!” (My son loves saying, “This is how the fjord looks IN REAL LIFE!”)  I have made key rings for every available set of cards and they have taken the maps to the next level. I never ask the boys to use them. I simply place them by the maps and then walk away. The boys love being able to investigate the information for themselves. They learn how to manipulate the cards and they practice their ability to sort through alphabetized material quickly. They relate the material back to the maps and double check their work.

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Yesterday, my son pulled out the World Map. He set up his pins, pulled out the laminated key ring, took out a command sheet, set up his control map and began to work.
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The command sheets walk the boys through each pin command.  Right now my boys are on Level 1, simply familiarizing themselves with the pins and their placements. They are already asking when they can move on to Level 2 so they can begin recording their answers on the recording sheet. (All of these pages are available for free in the link above!) My son worked his way through the commands and then went to find the Biome cards.

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He worked through each Biome, placing the beautiful pictures into each appropriate category. He referred back to the map often, exclaiming with wonder, “I never knew there was a desert there! I can see it in my mind now!” These maps really are set apart from other maps, the beautiful hand-drawn shading adds such sharp distinction between biomes. The boys can now quickly identify grasslands from jungles and coniferous forests.

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Pin it! Maps has also proven to be a multi-functional resource in terms of its ability to meet my children’s different learning styles. My eldest used to be absolutely overwhelmed by detailed maps crowded with writing. He could not focus on the words he needed to find and often flipped his letters around in his panic. Earlier this week, our Classical Conversations community studied The Assyrian Empire in geography. I made up rhymes and a story to help my boys learn the placement of each sea, gulf and city.  My eldest seemed to be following along well enough, but it was tough to gauge precisely how much he was understanding. This morning we used our Pin it! Map and that is when I saw the light go on for him. Having those words standing up on individual pins helped him to understand placement, space, relation, etc.

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These maps also provide a welcome challenge to our second born. He is a voracious reader and can never sit idly by. His hands are always looking for something to do. He loves teaching himself how to take on new skills and challenges. To be honest, its exhausting for me at times! He knows how to make a mess and get in a jam! When our maps arrived, he was instantly drawn in by the challenge. He loved that it was an independent activity capable of providing deeper learning opportunity without a finish line.

My third son is a kinetic learner and is not reading yet. He is also using these maps along with his (almost) three year old brother.

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Here are a few of the ways we have employed our maps for littles (ages 3-5)

  1. Biome Card Game: These cards are available for free on the website. My 4 year old spent a few weeks familiarizing himself with these cards and organizing the pictures into appropriate biomes. Now we play a game called “Decorate the World.” Based off of the shading and drawing on our World Map, my son can easily find the biome each region belongs to. When I point to the Sahara Desert, he quickly grabs a picture card featuring a desert landscape and places it on the Sahara Desert and shouts, “DESERT!” We play through the deck and decorate all the features.
    2) BINGO BABY!: The 4 year old insists that I inform my readers—he alone invented this game. He is also the Captain of this game. Baby Bingo happens at least once a day. My 4 year old takes down the control map of the world which features brilliant, multi-colored continents and all the oceans. He then gives “the baby” (ahem, 3 year old) a stack of green bingo chips and a stack of blue bingo chips. He points to a spot on the map and asks “What is this? Water or Land?” His brother responds by placing either green (land) or blue (water) on the map. They will do this for twenty minutes at a time. TWENTY. MINUTES. Thats enough time for tea and a piece of  chocolate, folks!
    3) SAFARI TOOB: We also love to place animals from our Safari toobs around our maps. Grizzlies in Colorado, panthers in Florida, Elk in Montana, etc. We have also used landmarks with mixed results. Animals they get, a tiny replica of the Eiffel tower…not so much yet.
    4. YARN: A simple string of yarn goes a long way with these boys. We shape them around the continents very carefully and then whip them away very fast. They think its hilarious. I’m happy that they are focusing carefully and quietly on a task with their hands while familiarizing themselves with geography.
    5) Rice Game: Another game we made up. I give my four year old a cup of rice and a small piece of wood that has been sanded smooth, its about 4 inches long. I then dump the rice on the control map and tell him to put all the rice on Australia. All the rice has to be IN Australia. Then I switch to another continent. He loves feeling the rice, pushing it around gently with his hands or the wood stick and then making it fit within the borders. He laughs when I pull out the magnifying glass to inspect his work. After we are done I gently wipe down the control map and store it away again.
    6) Mr Thumbkin & The Family Band Travels: Yup. We draw little faces on our fingers and go for a tour of the world. We visit different cities, make up stories, learn about biomes. The possibilities are endless with this one. Sometimes the older brothers chime in with the things they are learning. “If you are going to India, you had better stop by the Ganges Delta near West Bengal, I think you might be able to find your missing purple scarf there.”  Lots and lots of playacting, voices, adventures and honest to goodness GEOGRAPHY! I always ask them to point out the “pin home” before we leave an area we have named.  The “pin home” is the spot where the pins are inserted (according to my eldest boys). My littles don’t use the pins yet, I am training them even now to only place the pins in their homes.

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We are in the process of finishing up our North America map and Africa map and the boys can’t wait to start using them as we gear up for our studies of the United States with Adventures and Africa with Classical Conversations.

I am really thankful to have found Pin it! Maps. I love being able to support a fellow homeschooling Mama in this courageous endeavor to provide beautiful, quality, affordable maps to families. I love seeing my boys engage in joyful learning together. It feels good to use resources that create a space for all learning styles to combine.

I can’t wait for the US Map series to be unveiled in December!

UPDATE!!!!!
Pin it! Maps has graciously extended our PROMO CODE until the end of OCTOBER.

Farmhouse Schoolhouse readers will get 10% off their orders with the code: FARM

Happy Pinning!

MFW Adventures: George Washington + Bribery

Last Spring I sat at my desk and pulled out my new planner. I wrote out all the things we would be doing in the fall and felt tired just writing it all down.

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A few weeks later I trotted off to the FPEA convention and had a rather eloquent kick in the butt from Sonya Schafer of Simply Charlotte Mason. I went home and stripped my schedule down to the bare bones—and it was still overwhelming.

So I made the decision to start Adventures months earlier than I had initially planned. Early enough to get in at least 10 weeks of school before Classical Conversations, A Year of Skillful Playing, therapy and sports all took off in late August/early September.

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I am so grateful for that decision!

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We spread our unit on George Washington out over two weeks. In that course of time, Classical Conversations began and our in home therapy sessions started for our youngest boy. Next week, our year with Homegrown Preschooler starts. (Check back for updates!) Its somehow easier to add extras into an already established routine. The boys were eager to add new things in while still adhering to our established rhythm with Adventures. Real life seems a bit more manageable this year! I may have to repeat this schedule for Exploring Countries & Cultures. I always have to remind myself to take advantage of the freedom that comes with homeschooling.

Here is the breakdown on Adventures Week 9: GEORGE WASHINGTON!

(disclaimer) My eldest son is OBSESSED with GW. For his 7th birthday, our entire family dressed up like different Revolutionary war heroes and we spent the morning reenacting different battle scenes. He wanted a GW tshirt and a documentary for his birthday.  I knew we needed to spend a few weeks on ol’ George so the booklist is hefty!
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Activities:
1) Land Survey
Mother Earth News provides a very detailed explanation on how to survey your own land. I was not really up for going all out on this one. I just wanted to give the kids a basic idea of what a teenaged George Washington did to earn his bread and butter.  Our homestead is 2.5 acres, flat as a pancake. We made the chaining pins and used a piece of yarn to get our level measurements. It was 92 degrees and we received approx 18 mosquito bites between 5 people in the span of twenty minutes.  The boys were thrilled!

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2. Indian Hoecakes
Based off one of our booklist treasures, “George Washington’s Breakfast” by Jean Fritz. The boys begged me to cook these little cakes outside in the fire pit on an actual hoe. I was pretty close to complying until I imagined my exhausted husband shaking his weary head and asking, “Sooo how exactly did the fire that ravaged our entire home start?” We stuck to our stove and a regular ol’ frying pan.

3. Fort Necessity
I am so sad I didn’t snap a picture of this activity. The boys built an enormous blanket and pillow fort and had a blast all day inside. We brought in a lantern and knocked 6 books off our list in one afternoon. There was a massive thunderstorm outside which made the fort an extra cozy haven for us.

4. Unsanctioned crossing of the Delaware
I managed to get my two youngest children down for a nap last week. After a night of little rest, I asked the older kids to build legos while I took a quick nap. Whenever my eldest children are left to their own devices, unexpected things happen. Thankfully, the firstborn develops ulcers at the mere whisper of anything unsafe, so I can rest easy. It may be unexpected, but it won’t be dangerous. I woke up 30 minutes later to find the boys floating toy boats filled with soldiers in a bathtub filled with water and ice. I never ever would have thought to do such an activity. They adored it.

Book List for George Washington Unit

  1. Benjamin West and his Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry. (Part of our Beautiful Feet book study)
  2. George Washington’s Breakfast by Jean Fritz
  3. Phoebe and the Spy by Judith Griffin
  4. George Washington by Ingri D’aulaire
  5. A Picture Book of George Washington by David A. Adler
  6. A Picture Book of Patrick Henry by David A. Adler
  7. Journey to Monticello by James E. Knight
  8. The Winter at Valley Forge by James E Knight
  9. When Washington Crossed the Delaware by James E Knight
  10. The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz
  11. George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster
    ***This book was given to us by another homeschool family. I don’t recommend it for younger children as a stand alone read. Its basically a text book about the world during the time of George Washington. My son is always asking  “what else was happening in the world?” whenever we study something (Thanks, Classical Conversations!) and so he loved flipping through this book.
  12. George vs George: The American Revolution as seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer
  13. Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  14. Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride by Marsha Amstel
  15. The Story of George Washington by Patricia A. Pingry (board book for littles)
  16. George Washington and the General’s dog by Frank Murphy
  17. George Washington: Our First Leader by Augusta Stevenson
  18. Pauk Revere: Boston Patriot by Augusta Stevenson
  19. Who was Paul Revere? by Roberta Edwards
  20. Sarah Witcher’s Story by Elizabeth Yates
  21. George Washington by Cheryl Harness
    IMG_5167Additional Resources1.  Jim Weiss
    We love Jim Weiss. We started collecting his stories last year and they are the most requested stories for the CD player each night. For this unit, we enjoyed George Washington: First in the Hearts of his Countrymen. 
    2. Drive Thru History
    3. For God and Country- Adventures in OdysseyI know—its a huge booklist.But like I said, my kid is a BIG FAN of all things George. The truth is, all these books were one big candy incentive to get my eldest boy motivated to do some ART! And boy did we ever have time to do artwork! Renderings of George as land surveyor, Farmer Washington, Major Washington, General Washington and President of the United States, are now littering the classroom along with a dozen or so gruesome battle scenes. (We are binding all the drawings into one large book for the two boys to enjoy) Before each reading session I would set out basic art supplies and we would spend ten minutes discussing our OiLS concepts from Classical Conversations. Then the boys would begin to draw. We’d stop every few chapters to look at work and discuss what they would be attempting next.

    It worked! It worked so well. No complaining whatsoever. Glory be!

    “Please Mom, read another story and we’ll do more art work.” Music to my ears. I won’t flood my post with pictures of artwork, but I will post one that I am very proud of; my eldest son’s drawing entitled, “Portrait of Reluctant George.” I asked him why he named it that and he responded, “Poor George just wanted to be a farmer after all that fighting. Then they went and made him President!”IMG_5623
    Woo-hoo! Something that is not a stick figure. SUCCESS.

    Whenever hands became cramped we would return to pattern play or working with our lovely Land and Water Forms Map. (10% off Promo code: farm now extended till 9/30/15)

  22. IMG_5642IMG_5664We saved all of our science to do on one day. On Friday we sketched out our trees and leaves. We read “The Reasons for the Seasons” by Gail Gibbons. I set out our Montessori months of the year cards and tried to explain the concept of seasons to these southern-raised one season boys.IMG_5647IMG_5650Unit 9 is done!Now we await a tropical storm and next week’s unit on THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION!

Pin it! Maps—Hands on Geography for Everyone!

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When we first started homeschooling, teaching geography was quite the achilles heel for me.

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Like all new challenges, I started slow. We began by building our vocabulary of maps and legends. We would pull a laminated map out each morning, the minute we sat down at the table, and the boys would begin tracing states, continents, etc.

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Soon we progressed to drawing maps with tracing paper, eventually adding in some blob mapping by the end of the year. I would ask the boys questions as they worked, “Show me Augusta, Maine?” or “Tell me what this body of water is?” It worked well for us but it was hard to gauge our progress at times.

Then during a playdate, a friend pulled out a gorgeous (and frightfully expensive) Montessori map. It came with pins for the different national flags so the children could mark the countries they knew. My boys loved playing with this map. I thought it was lovely…just not $150 lovely.

You can imagine my excitement when we discovered Pin it! Maps, which was founded by a wonderful, Montessori-loving Mama who decided to make affordable pin maps.

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And she did not stop with national flag pins! She included labels for land and water forms, country capitals, islands, lines, etc. These maps are extensive and a tremendous bang for the buck!

Our World Map set included:
(1) large pin map (18 x 24)
(2) control maps (12 x 18): continents & oceans, land & water forms.
69 color coded flag labels
Flag poles and bases
Scotch tape
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Our Central America map set had a similar layout but also included national flag pins for each country in Central America & the Caribbean.

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Our maps arrived in a sturdy package, no bent corners for us! We purchased the actual pins from our local JoAnn Fabrics. Assembling the completed pins took three half-hour sessions. The perfect scotch tape of corresponding width was included in the package. The assembly process was simple but definitely required some time. First take a pin, place it next to the flag and secure with the appropriate size tape. Fit the pin with a tiny plastic pole and base. Repeat many, many times and then, Voila! Finished! I corralled all the pins into a plastic box with a lid for storage. The labor was worth the final product.

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The seven and six year olds were the first to tackle these maps. We set our pin map on its styrofoam backing  and then propped a control map up behind it. The boys took turns reading out the labels and finding the locations on the map. They loved getting to see how much they already knew without referencing the control map. They also enjoyed racing to see who could find the answer on the control map first.

IMG_5310Their curiosity was stirred by the elements we had yet to study. The World Map Set includes a beautiful legend with pictures of various biomes. The legend itself promoted whole new discussions about biomes that stay consistent within their latitude across various continents.

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Here are some of the comments made while using their Pin it! Maps:

~”Hmm, I’ve traced that area lots of times and I had no idea there was a volcano there!”
~”I never knew the Tropic of Cancer ran through there!
~”Sometimes on a regular map, all the words get mish-mashed. Look here! I can tell what all the words are now and it doesn’t get mixed up in my brains.”
~”Look at all the deserts in Africa. This country is almost all desert. I didn’t know that.”
~”Look at all these flags, Mom! Can you believe that is how much I know? And look how much I have left to go!”

All around, a fantastic tactile experience for the boys that provided a great visual progress report.

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The four year old was up next. We used the control map of the continents as a play mat. He placed different animals on the 7 continents. We sang through our songs about oceans and continents. I had not planned on busting out the pins for him until he asked to use them. I pulled out pins for the seven continents and read each one aloud before surrendering the pin for placement. He did a wonderful job and best of all, he had a great time placing the flags and repeating everything back to me.  After a few sessions with this routine, I will add in water and landform pins, building his repertoire as time marches on.  Younger children will require careful explanation of these materials and the care they require. I plan to build the care and maintenance of this set into our habit training lessons.

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I am impressed with these maps, affordability did not mean compromising on quality. I love the clearly marked legends and lines. Sturdy bases and poles, unique pin points to help with identification, lovely colors, and thoughtful details throughout each set. It really felt less mass-produced and more thoughtfully crafted. These are maps my children can grow up with. I deeply appreciate investing in resources that are not one-season wonders.  These maps are a lifelong tool.
We will be using various map sets for our personal home study as follows:

Classical Conversations Cycle 1: Africa Map set, Asia Map set, Central America Set
Classical Conversations Cycle 2: Europe Map Set, South America Map Set
Classical Conversations Cycle 3: North American Map Set
MFW 1st: Asia Map Set
MFW Adventures: North America Map Set
MFW Exploring Countries & Cultures: World Map Set (No national flag pins in this set! National flags are in the continent specific sets!) and the Landforms Map Set.

(note: Pin it! Maps does sell map bundles with all continents included!)

If you like what you see, Pin it! Maps has graciously extended a promo code for all our Farmhouse/Schoolhouse readers.

10% off with the code: farm

This offer expires 10/31/2015.

Happy Pinning!

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I purchased one map set and received another in exchange for this review. All opinion expressed above are completely my own and were not influenced by any outside sources.