Year 4: Ancient History Term 1 wk 3-4

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And we are back!

April was a crazy month. Easter, the end of our CC Year, science fair, closing program, music recital, family vacation, wild + free book club, practicum training and licensing training all took place within a three week timespan. All of it was wonderful but utterly exhausting. I am beat.

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Morning Time
Rich + Rooted Passover by Jennifer Naraki
Genesis 21-50
Herodotus and the Road to History by Jeanne Benedict
Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lamber
Ancient Egypt by James Baikie
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Hymn: “Fairest Lord Jesus”
Simply Charlotte Mason Picture Study Portfolio: Giotto
Speaking Spanish with Miss Mason and Francois
Poem: “To Be a Pilgrim” by John Bunyan
The Apostles Creed
Biography: Mathematicians are People Too by Luella Reimer
Geography: Visits to Africa by Simply Charlotte Mason
Composer: Vivaldi
Latin: Memoria Press

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Ancient History
My boys have been begging to study Ancient Egyptian History for quite some time now. They were so thrilled the day we hit lesson 5 in the Beautiful Feet Book’s guide and I asked them to decorate an Ancient Egypt Page for their notebooks.
We broke up the readings for “Pharaoh’s of Ancient Egypt” since they are too lengthy for the stage of narration that they are at. Splitting each chapter into three sections has been helpful. They illustrate and include a small written narration for one section and give oral narrations for the other two sections. “Tales of Ancient Egypt” by Roger Lancelyn Green has been a great hit. Its interesting to see the kids dissect the creation story, flood story etc and compare and contrast it to Biblical history.

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We found several wonderful books to add depth to areas of interest within our studies. We broadened lesson 8 with “Pharaoh’s Boat by Weitzman, David L. [HMH Books for Young Readers, 2009] Hardcover [Hardcover]“>Pharaoh’s Boat” by David Weitzman, which tied in perfectly with our study of Pharaoh Cheops and the construction of his pyramid. The book outlines how the Egyptians built boats for the Pharaohs to use in their journey to the afterlife and how they were disassembled, then buried at the base of the pyramids. The latter half of the book walks us through the archeological discovery of one boat and how it was reconstructed and preserved.  Its a bit pricey to track down so check your local libraries first for this wonderful gem!  I’ll list additional books in our book list at the end of the post. I’ll also include a new tab in our Shop tab with links to some of our favorite Ancient History resources.

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The Student Bible Atlas has been hit or miss with the boys. Last week for lesson 6 we decided to do some more advanced map work using our homemade plexiglass easel from The Homegrown Preschooler.  The boys painted the map on the plexiglass using a mixture of tempura and dish soap (with a tiny bit of acrylic added in!) I printed out labels and the kids were able to label their map together. We gathered around the map as we read and they pointed out cities and features as read along. Diving into the map and bringing it to life really solidified everything for them.

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Math
My long time readers know that I like to spend time with a curriculum before writing about it. I am almost to the end of my “observation period” with Right Start Math and I am so excited to share more in-depth about our experience with the curriculum. For now I will simply report that we are loving it! We used Saxon for our entire homeschool experience until the day I realized that my children knew how to answer questions correctly without understanding why they were right. I knew we needed a new program and when I looked at Right Start, I had a feeling it would be a great fit for us. We had to humble ourselves and pick up a lower year package because I knew my children had missed a number of foundational things and had even learned a few things out of order.
I am so glad we did this. The kids flew through the first 40 lessons in the book but now they are really starting to grapple with some of these concepts. Its beautiful to see them understanding math to such a degree that they are PLAYING with their math. They are loving the logic and structure of numbers. They are begging for math everyday—that says a lot to me.
My eldest son really struggled with place value. I’m not sure if it was a dyslexia thing or if the Saxon script never explained it in a way he could understand, but the simple exercises in RSM along with the use of the abacus, finally clicked place value understanding in his mind. What a joy to witness!

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We have really gotten into a beautiful groove with our Friday exam. The last two weeks the boys have launched right into sharing their favorite stories with each other and teaching their younger brother some of the best things they learned that week. A lovely peek at some rhetoric level sharing. In fact, all the classical education stages are usually present at the table. My youngest proudly rattling off terms and the older two bursting with dialectic questions and once in a while that beautiful burst of rhetoric reasoning as they teach their younger brother something valuable that they learned. I have really come to value these afternoons. Its encouraging to see what sorts of things they are taking away from their lessons, what they are internalizing and what is shaping their character.

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Extra Curricular
Speaking of character, the amount of habit training and character training that occurs within the realm of handwork never ceases to amaze me. Slow, methodical, meaningful work does wonders for our habit training. Then there is the added bonus of handwork as processing space. I shared about my children’s various thinking styles on instagram a few weeks ago. They each have a different way of processing their lessons, but something they all need is TIME to ponder what they have learned. One child needs to verbalize as he thinks, another needs constant outdoor motion (usually time on a skateboard or bike will do) and another needs to work with his hands. I call him my “build it out” thinker. On the day I snapped this photo we had just wrapped a morning of studies containing Shakespeare, Giotto, and the Rosetta Stone. He was sawing wood and working quietly at his work bench for a while and suddenly piped out, “I like how everything we learn is connected and I am a part of it all.” It was a great reminder that after feasting on great ideas, children need that protected time, gifted time, to think and ponder what they have taken in.

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We did not do any formal science during this study period. GASP! We had formal science for a solid 10 months and once our busy end of the year season hit, I felt comfortable letting it go because of all the NATURE STUDY we are constantly immersed in. The children have plenty of time outdoors to observe nature, ample opportunity to interact with insects and animals and other creatures and a never ending desire to read books about all kinds of nature. To be honest, they’ve got this covered. We will probably start up again in June once I am home from convention.

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Ancient History Booklist (lessons 5-9)
Pharaoh’s Boat by David Weitzman
Egyptian Boats by Geoffrey Scott
Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors by Lorene Lambert 
The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt“>The 5,000 Year Old Puzzle by Claudia Logan
The Boy of the Pyramids by Ruth Fosdick Jones
Mummies, Pyramids and pharaohs by Gail Gibbons
Egyptian Mummies by Henrietta McCall
Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki
Cat Mummies by Kelly Trumble
Building History Egyptian Pyramid by Gillian Clements
Bill and Pete Go Down the Nile by Tomie dePaola

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Stay tuned for our next installment of The Road to Morning Time!

MFW ECC Norway

Norway! Quite possibly, our favorite unit so far. Surprising because on the eve of this study’s inauguration, my husband had to call an ambulance to come get me after I began to experience sudden and horrific pain. Two days in the hospital, lots of prescription meds and a slow recovery had me forecasting a pretty dreadful, overwhelming and miserable few weeks of school, but the exact opposite happened. Our village lovingly reached out and made meals, came to visit, took over some of my responsibilities and encouraged us. My husband even went in my place to our Classical Conversations community day and wore the Director’s hat on my behalf.  It blessed me deeply to have such thoughtful love and care poured over us. Even the boys were extra helpful and diligent in their work. While we did not have as many outdoor adventures as usual, we still had a lovely time with our study!

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We spent many, many hours reading this time around. The D’Aulaires have a wealth of books for Norway study and we read them all. Many cups of tea and several knit dishcloths later, we went through the pile and chose our favorites and read them again. We also enjoyed Joanna Spyri’s “Heidi” as one of our overall European books.

Norway/Scandinavian Booklist: 

Welcome Back Sun by Michael Emberly
D is for Dala Horse: A Nordic Country Alphabet by Kathy Jo Wargin
Once Upon a Northern Light by Jean Pendziwol
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
Norwegian Tales by Ingri D’aulaire
Ola by Ingri D’aulaire
Children of the Northern Lights by Ingri D’aulaire
Leif the Lucky by Ingri D’aulaire
Book of Trolls by Ingri D’aulaire
Katie the Windmill Cat by Gretchen Woelfe
Boxes for Katje by Candace Flemming
Hans Brinker, the Silver Skates
Hannah’s Cold Winter by Trish Marx
My Tour of Europe by Teddy Roosevelt Age 10 by Ellen Marx
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan

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Science with ECC continues to be a bit shaky at times. The kids love the science experiments (don’t skip them!) but POE is still hard to get through. So we do what we can and then we take off on our own. The BBC Planet Earth series is phenomenal and we loved the episode on forests. We used tree cards from Tanglewood Hollow and a beautiful crochet tree ring I received from a Montessori Materials swap. My son and I have been knitting tiny crochet bowls like mad lately and we have been using them to hold some of our favorite nature finds.

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While the older boys finished cataloging tree rubbings and leaf samples in their nature journals, my youngest children went with me to the kitchen to make The Homegrown Preschooler’s Herbal doh recipe. We had a lovely time practicing math and practical life skills. The older children went outside and collected pine needles and pine cones to decorate the table. I set out some natural materials like acorns caps, sweet gums, petals and walnut shells. The boys sat and played with doh while I read through books and eventually we switched over to enjoying various Scandinavian composers and musicians.

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Its encouraging to witness the engagement that takes place through living books. Dry textbooks just do not impart the same connection and inspiration. The boys were utterly captivated by the life of the Lapp children and spent many hours learning more about reindeers and the midnight sun and of course, the northern lights.

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Even during their quiet time, I caught them reading in little corners all over the house. I think we all needed to be still for a few days. Don’t get me wrong, by the time my husband returned home they were always bouncing off the walls with pent up energy, but overall, they were content to snuggle on my recovery bed, drink tea, knit and listen to stories. Or at times, day dream while I read and make incredibly accurate laser gun noises under their breath while they battle evil forces in a galaxy far, far away. Ah, boys.

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Towards the end of the week we experienced an actual beautiful weather day! Granted, a massive tropical storm was providing cloud cover for the entire state, but hey! it was nice and cool! So we jumped on our chance and headed outdoors for a picnic. But first, the boys had to get incredibly dirty. They caked on the mud, made leaf crowns, painted each other’s faces, adventured in other realms and had a marvelous morning. They settled onto their blanket as I read aloud from a stack of books I brought outside with us. They watched the clouds for a bit as I read and eventually, they each closed their eyes and just listened to the story. They looked so peaceful all cuddled up together. This only lasted a few minutes before someone threw a punch or tooted or threw grass in someone’s face and the equilibrium was lost. But still, those fleeting moments of silence and peace were magnificent.

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Lastly, we marked the anniversary of our faithful friend’s passing on September 6th. Our beloved pup, Frankie, who was with us for 8 years. It was a hard day for everyone. I am thankful that the boys have had time to grieve his death and I recognize that they are still sad and grieving. Its the biggest loss they have encountered so far and it was a heavy day in the midst of our study. I am glad that we could honor that day the way these boys needed to. Reindeers, Dutch cookies, Norwegian myths, poetry tea time and a walk to our friend’s grave with a fistful of purple flowers.

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Norway was beautiful and its one of those studies I will treasure in my heart because of all we experienced as lived out our week.

We’ll meet again in Paris!

 

MFW Kindergarten: Us!

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I was thrilled that MFWK’s U-Us unit coincided with our first week of MFW ECC. My little guy vividly remembers when his older brothers did this unit because our whole family joined in on the fun. We played all kinds of sensory games and laughed so much that week. Their favorite was an old youth group game called, “What is Your Foot Touching?”  <—pretty self explanatory/traumatizing. The minute I said, its time to learn about “U-Us” he said, “Can my foot get to touch the tuna, Mom?”

We played many of the games again. Blindfolds, mittens, taste tests, listening games.
I pretty much recreated every single game from this page. We loved using our sensory doh from The HomeGrown Preschooler and we used the book “Can You Hear It?” for many of our touch, sight and listening activities as well. Who doesn’t love running around to “Flight of the Bumblebee” wearing only your underwear and a set of fabric wings from Magic Cabin?

But our favorite add-in this week was a celebration of my guy and what a special kiddo he is.

Before he was born I was advised to abort him.

I look at him now and I cannot fathom life without him. What a joy and a gift he is!

So we decided to turn the U unit into a party. I started by telling him the story of his life, which he already hears from time to time. He loves the part when I say NO to the abortion and YES to life with him. He asks all kinds of questions about his birth and what he was like as a baby.

As part of the celebration he got to pick an activity every day on top of what we already had planned. These activities would be led by him.

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First up, he wanted his own cursive book just like his brothers. I had an empty Classical Conversations Timeline Prescripts on hand and he has taken to it like a duck to water. He likes to teach me how to form the letters after his brother teach him. The next day he asked to bake his own bread.

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A day later, he asked to play in the mud. “Its for sensory reasons, Mom. Don’t forget I am supposed to study the five senses and mud is something you can use all five with.”

Let your child pick an element and then show you how they can investigate that one item with all five senses, though we don’t recommend mud. He says its a bit too crunchy.

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Our favorite kid’s microscope ever on the face of the planet is the Brock Magiscope. Definitely pricey, so we asked for one last Christmas. We use it several times a week and it was out quite often for this unit. So many things to look at up close! A strand of hair, a nail clipping, a drop of saliva, a drop of blood and since injuries abound amongst my children- cells from an almost healed scab (yuck).

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On Thursday, he asked to go to pottery class for a visit with his teacher and friends. I love watching him work in this class. He is gaining confidence every time we go and its amazing to hear him relay what he has learned.

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Nature walks and poetry tea time with his brothers rounded out the week. The regularly scheduled nature walks are one of my favorite things about MFW. Don’t skip them!! pretty  please?

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Since the week coincided with his older brothers lessons, I set his table up with eeBoo Children of the World cards along with a few other books and toys of interest. This was a nice spot for his older brothers to come and visit between subjects. I love how well everything fused together.

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Heres the whole crew working on different things for school all at once. Lest you think I have it all together, when I snapped this picture I had a three year old on the floor by my feet screaming his head off and a load of clothes in the wash that needed to be rewashed after sitting in the machine for three days. Cheers.

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A Year of Playing Skillfully

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We just wrapped up our first year with The HomeGrown Preschooler.  I’ve been trying to post through our experience by writing a post a month and I must admit, this spring got away from me. But I do plan on posting about our last few months in the coming weeks! For now, I could not hold back my thoughts on our first year with this curriculum and decided to do our yearly wrap up first.

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Friends, its amazing to me now that once upon a time, I felt I needed permission to have the year we just had. I didn’t realize just how deep the tentacles of modern education had penetrated my perspective as a parent and teacher. When I bought this curriculum at last year’s FPEA convention, I was a weepy, frightened mess. We were struggling to find options for our youngest. His evaluations at our local early intervention center were mightily discouraging. We also needed something for our third born son who was nearly five at the time. After hearing both Lesli Richards and Kathy Lee speak at FPEA (and crying all over them!) I came home with a bag full of curriculum and a boatload of hope.

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I am moved to tears even now as I look back at how much cracking open those books meant to me.  We dove in and life started changing for my boys. Their childhood began its metamorphosis. I said, “yes!” and they said “YESSSSSS!!!!”

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See that dirty face and that big smile and those arms creeping out to the side as his “airplane ride” progresses, that moment when he finally, finally, FINALLY, starts letting go? Thats my little guy. He is so brave. I always wonder how intense the daily battles are for him. I wish I could get inside his head and know for myself. But for as hard as those battles are, my brave boy is having a beautiful childhood. Not because of the material things around him, but because he is loved and given the freedom every single day to be a little boy.

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See those dirty hands? Those hands have been hard at play this year. Even the hands belonging to the older brothers—those hands still needed play, were starved for play, and I almost missed it! I’m so glad that I made the concentrated effort to give them as much time to play and discover as I could. They are growing into themselves and that is hard work, playing is one of the greatest tools they have to daily sculpt who they will one day become.

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See that basket of ribbon and tiny toob birds? That was our go to manipulative this year. He didn’t want to do every single thing listed each month. I had to be ok with that. He fell in love with these little birds and I am so glad that he did. They taught him empathy. They taught him storytelling. They taught him about life.

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Speaking of story telling, see that book? #3’s favorite read this year by far. I think I will always have this image in my mind. Sitting in his Great Grandmother’s chair, wrapped in the blanket I made him, waiting for the cookies to finish baking, reading aloud the words he memorized while they were lovingly read aloud to him the night before. There is so much in this picture that is tactile to me. I can feel the warmth and security and love and simplicity and joy. It belongs to him. How great is that? This did not take a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education to accomplish. It just took one word, “yes.” It took intention and love. Speaking of intention…

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See those hands busily chopping and preparing dinner? Say “yes” to letting kids do things they are more than able to do for themselves. We moved everything around this year to help them become even more independent. Wind in the sails! They are capable of so much.

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Here is a look at one example of Math time. No worksheets to be found. Just one happy boy in his favorite apron, looking through the recipe on the last page of “The Moon Might be Milk.” Measuring, counting, pouring, mixing. We made the most delicious moon cookies that day.

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Sometimes we played inside, and they surprised me with what they were absorbing and creating and testing. We took our time with those activities. It was funny watching their approach. Looking back, I see an organic Classical approach that was child initiated and the geek in me thrills over it.
Grammar: What are the parts to this and what makes it what it is? Give me the vocabulary for this activity, please!
Dialectic: Now I have a zillion questions, please answer them all. Mm Hmm, okay. Now here are a zillion other questions I have come up with based on those answers and I will now test everything using a ketchup, the dog, a piece of string and a balloon.
Rhetoric: I am the boss at this. I shall now teach my younger brother.

All the feels.

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We spent a large amount of time outdoors and I realized that all those outdoor activities listed each month were slow enablers of courage and creativity and determination. Like tiny little training camps of fun that when set in the great outdoors unleashed a great big whirlwind of “I CAN DO THIS!!!”

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See my precious boy cradling this still warm, fresh out of the nest, chicken egg? He is marveling at this egg. He is beholding the glorious, miraculous bit of nature that is the egg. I am on the other side of the lens, marveling at this little boy who is so confident in his newfound responsibilities. Do we lose a few eggs from time to time? You bet. But I would clean a hundred yolky messes off my kitchen floor with a glad heart to see that look of pride on his face. “I did this for you, Mama!”

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Some people are show offs about it by now. 🙂

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Toes in the mud.

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Books and babes, cradled and savored.

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Confidence and independence.

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Imagination and friendship.

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The depth of the sensory gymnastics of our year and how they shaped us are difficult to put into words.

My children have had their hands on the world around them. They know the names of the trees in our yard and the birds that pass through our back wood. They know the names of the wild fruit and the trails near our home. They know where the owl lives and where the squirrel keeps it nest. They know where the cardinals like to look for material and they know just where to leave gifts of colorful bits of strings for Mr. Cardinal and his wife to find. They know the sounds of their backyard. They know the weight of the soil and the texture of the rocks. They know the trails the rainfall will take each time it rains. They can make forts and climb trees and make mud pies. They can name the pieces of world around them and put them in their order and know security and surprise.

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They know the twinkle of the stars and the sound of laughter. They know that when we sit down to dinner every night, we will sing “The Doxology” together. They know that every day at lunch I will crack open a book and a door to another world will open wide. They know the joy of an unexpected ice cream sundae breakfast and the giddiness of breakfast for dinner and the fun of waking up to a crazy ninja training course in the hallway.  They know how fun it is to throw water beads and how long it takes to clean up water beads. They know that childhood is not just a word, its a mosaic of a hundred memories.

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I can go on and on about how the program is structured and how I appreciate the freedom of the outline and the organization of the topics and the obvious love that went into every detail, but the truth is that above all, I valued the encouragement that sizzled out of this curriculum every time I opened the planner. I have opened up certain curriculums that have left me feeling like I had no chance at succeeding. When I opened AYOPS, I didn’t think, “Dang. There is no way I can do this.” I thought, “We can all do this together. Me and every other Mama I know. We could jump in and say yes and let our families and homes take their shape. Forget what its “supposed to look like” and relish what we have and who we have, RIGHT NOW. We can say yes to giving our kids a beautiful childhood and the freedom to be little because they are little.” Really, I think the above almost every day. If I am in the so called “trenches of motherhood,”  I’m in good company and the play doh smells like vanilla chai.

In a world where its the norm to be frightened into taking action, its life giving JOY to be lovingly encouraged into action. I’ve got this. You’ve got this. We’ve got this.

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To answer the question that has been coming in from our readers, YES! We are using A Year of Playing Skillfully again next year.

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Yes, I think they will still be challenged by it.

And no, I highly, highly doubt they will be bored by a second round. In fact, when I told them we would be doing it again, all four of my children (8-3 years of age) let out a resounding, “YESSSSSSSS!!!!!”

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MFW Kindergarten: Leaf

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We experienced the most gorgeous weather during our Leaf unit! We had compiled a long list of activities for the week and the majority required nice weather, so you can imagine our thankfulness! Here are a few things we did in addition to our scheduled MFWK work….

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We started the week out by reading “Counting on the Woods” by George Ella Lyon. This is a nature based counting book with lovely photographs and a memorable meter. He carried this book in his mind on all our nature walks that week, repeating some of the rhymes and looking for similar finds.  When we got home he made his own “Counting on Woods” book filled with the things he saw, numbered and recorded.

Later that day we read Louis Ehlert’s wonderful book, “Leaf Man.”

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We bought a pack of double sided punch out leaves from the craft store and made our own leaf men.  He loved this project! We ended up with an army of leaf men, all with their own backstory and role to play. We ended up teaching our leaf men all of our bible lessons this week.

We continue to use our little sand box for tactile letter practice along with our sand paper letters.  His letters are slowly improving as we practice each week.  He works on these small whiteboards first and then we work on our handwriting student sheet which we have a higher standard for. Of all the worksheets in each unit, this one always takes us the longest. We take our time to do our work carefully with great diligence and attention to detail. As one of my Classical Conversations students recently reminded me, “Ms. Elsie, practice makes permanent.” First we learn, which takes time and is often sloppy as shapes and ideas are sorted out; and then we practice, which takes time and requires great effort and excellence.

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As I mentioned, we went for several nature walks during the course of this unit. Our local cypress dome was a must see! We found such a large variety of leaves on this particular walk.

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He loved the cypress trees, but his favorite was the sawgrass. Ah, the river of grass. How beautiful it is.

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By his request, we studied leaves later on in the week. He left the house early in the morning with one of his older brothers in order to collect specimens. We laminated them against white paper and took a half hour to identify them all. He made several water color paintings of different leaves to add to his notebook. We sorted leaves by shape and size and color and texture. We skip counted smaller leaves in various groupings with our songs from Classical Conversations.

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The rest of the day was spent playing. He made several leaf crowns for different family members and spent a few hours playing outside in his “Fern Palace.”

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This evolved into muddy, muddy play with all of his siblings as the afternoon wore on.
We also use The Homegrown Preschooler curriculum in our home and I love how easily everything blends together. It has really kept me on track!  Gentle learning in the morning and non stop play in the afternoon.

There is pressure everywhere to make things much more rigorous at a much earlier age, but the research stands strong that children need play and a later start date with rigorous academics. I am reminded everyday that I do not teach to standardize my children, I teach to bless them with the opportunity to learn in their own unique way in their own time.

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Confidence

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We had a lovely January with AYOPS.  This is one of the first months that our littlest guy was willing to tackle the large majority of projects and activities listed. These past months, I have increasingly felt his need for a little boost towards independence. We planned with his special needs in mind and picked out a number of things that we felt he could now handle on his own and we set about adjusting his atmosphere to ensure that he could tackle his new goals.

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We started with a small waldorf style baby doll.  This new friend engaged in all the activities with me before my son did. After watching for a minute or two, my son would jump in, eager to play and help his baby in case it ran into trouble. These two played in their bear den on bear day for hours! He taught baby how to clean up the toys and how to make the bed. I think this was an important piece in helping motivate our son to join in. It also took some of his focus off of his own experience and helped him learn to care for someone else and work on his empathy skills. If you have a little one that is reluctant to join in certain activities, I encourage you to think outside the box and try different ways of engaging them in play. We tried many, many different ways and experienced a multitude of failures before finally finding success this month!

I bought a wooden closet doubler rod so that the younger children could find and choose their own clothing each day. Everyday shirts are now hanging on the lowest bar. Shorts are in the baskets on the floor. Pajamas and underwear are in the dresser. The drawers are much less crowded now so its a snap for them to find what they need.

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I set out a small stool by a mirror near the doorway. The boys can now sit and brush their hair each morning and have a place to sit while they practice getting their little legs into their shorts the correct way.

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All this new responsibility gave our youngest the burst of confidence he needed to finally potty train. I’m still a little shocked at how quickly he managed to train. To be honest, I have been dreading this since we left our first evaluation at the special needs center. By the grace of God, potty training took all of two weeks and its stuck ever since!

Suddenly, our guy was on a maturity spree! Clearing dishes, picking up toys and even wanting to help in the kitchen. I’ve always encouraged him to help with chopping, measuring, sorting, etc. in the kitchen. But now there is no invitation needed. When I walk into the kitchen to make dinner, he is usually waiting for me, apron in place and hands washed and ready to work.

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I cleared out the lowest shelf in our kitchen and put all of the children’s dishes and cups there. I included several small pitchers for them to fill and set on the table and use for mealtimes. The boys have a designated drawer in the kitchen containing tools they have been trained to use. Crinkle cutters, apple corer slicers, egg slicers, potato peelers, etc.
They can reach everything they need to make their own snacks and to help with meal prep.

I love watching him work with his hands. Zero hesitation these days!

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There are still several sensations that he cannot bear to endure or process. But look at the boy in the photo below!

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A happy, messy, shaving-cream-out-the-nostril, joy soaked little guy. He radiates confidence now and that encourages me to keep pressing forward.

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The whole house continues to demand “preschool time.” I have now placed the eldest children in charge of the AYOPS activities. They love setting up for the activities and then “helping” their little brothers.

Our favorite activity this month was block painting. Everyone was eager to jump in and lend a hand. We were a multicolored mess for a few days (if you use Sargent Art Watercolor Paint, beware of STAINING!) but the boys were thrilled with the end product.

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We love our brilliant collection of colorful wood blocks. Every time I pass by that pile I recall the beautiful breezy afternoon we spent together, laughing and painting and telling jokes.

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This was the 5th month of our curriculum and it still doesn’t feel like I have spent the last five months marching my children through a curriculum. We’ve been making memories and learning together and having the most glorious time playing at just about anything you can think of.

We finished January with newfound confidence, enhanced skills, hearts bent on helping and a tremendous sense of peace with our special needs homeschool journey.

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MFW Adventures: Fulton & Stain Glass

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Greetings & Salutations!

The garden is in, my friends. No sooner had we turned our backs on those lovely beds than the heavens began to pour out rain. All our seedlings seem to have doubled in size the past week thanks to the ceaseless rains.
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Unit #21 brought our merry group of adventurers to Robert Fulton and his Steamship.

Day 1: I read out of the recommended book basket list and set the boys loose in the yard with 4 kiddie tubs and an assortment of plastic trash. Empty bottles, milk jugs, egg cartons, straws and robber bands. They had a marvelous time constructing their own “steamships.”  This eventually led to us hauling out one of our Usbourne science books and executing another round of “sink or float” with other backyard items. unnamed-3.jpg

Day 2: We hauled out tons of books and encyclopedias that catalogued various ships throughout the ages. The boys looked at “Into the Unknown” by Stewart Ross and copied his diagram of the steam engine along with a few other pictures of steamships detailed within.

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“Into the Unknown” by Stewart Ross

This was intense work for the boys. They took notes and later spent two hours drawing highly weaponized steamships.
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Day 3:
Origami style steamboats! Thanks to Chaos Meets Creativity for the link!

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Kreativ inredning

While we folded ships my youngest two tackled their own projects. Give the three year old an entire sheet of tissue paper and a glue stick–it will buy you at least 20 minutes!

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The 5 year old was content to light up his Christmas trees with the correct number of red and white pony beads.

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Day 4:
After finishing our state sheets, the boys did a little more work on their nature journals. On this day they transferred one of the public speaking presentations from our last week of the semester at our Classical Conversations Community. I love when they work so carefully and meticulously.
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Meanwhile….

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Day 5:
Thanks to the delightful “A Year of Playing Skillfully,” the boys and I discovered the lovely idea of window painting. My Adventurers join in almost every AYoPS activity and this was not to be missed.

We wiped down our sliding glass door, mixed the paint, layed out our painting blanket to catch any wayward drops of color and set to work!

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We recently looked through our London Gallery Nativity book which featured several diptychs of the nativity. With two large glass panels at our disposal, we all agreed to make our own “Stain Glass” diptych featuring the nativity. The 5 year old was our creative director. He loves “Starry Night” and it quite obviously influenced his work.

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We ended the day with a little sensory therapy in the form of homemade peppermint playdoh. It was worth the 20 minute make time. Peace on earth for over an hour!

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We are on track to finish Adventures by the end of March. We’ll spend the rest of the month enjoying advent, studying The Nutcracker and prepping for our “Adventures in US History” Road Trip!