MFW ECC Kenya

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After three weeks in Africa, we wrapped up this afternoon by reading through our favorite selections from our study, which was fitting because of all the great books we found for this study! I was nearly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of excellent book choices available this time around. We had a great time drawing pictures, building model homes for the various regions in Africa out of clay and practicing our beadwork while I read aloud.

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One of our first books was “Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions” by Margaret Musgrove.
26 Traditions through the alphabet explored. This book sparked their curiosity in many different directions. We took a closer look at the Ikoma people of Tanzania and their use of small birds to lead them to honey for gathering. We read up on the Tuareg people and were fascinated by the veiled, largely silent males in the culture and the unveiled womens position of great respect as they told stories and recited poetry.

Next we read “Bringing the Ran to Kapiti Plain” by Verna Aardema and then we went full steam into our study of the African savannah.

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We were able to read 8 books while the boys drew out a landscape of the grasslands. Then the younger two went to work with modeling clay while the older two did some map work on their Pin it Maps. We made sure to pin all the regions we read about in the books we looked at this morning and it really helped solidify these places in their mind when they could trace borders and take note of local land water forms.

The boys also enjoyed looking through their Dad’s photo album of his months spent in Kenya. They loved seeing the great variety of animals and the sight of their Dad, young and free, exploring Kenya and making friends overseas.

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For the past four years we have raised money as a family to give to Heifer International each Christmas. With advent right around the corner, I was quite pleased to find the book “One Hen” which tells of the story of “how one small loan made a big difference.” This story had everyones wheels turning, not just about our coming donation to Heifer, but about other ways to help stimulate business opportunity and growth in poorer areas of the world. My eldest remarked that he wanted to find ways to help families become self sufficient and take pride and joy in their work. The boys each wrote out a small composition about small business loans and filed it away in their ECC notebooks.

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I recently posted about our Friday Exam, we split the three weeks of study between North and East Africa, West Africa and South Africa, holding a Friday exam each week to cap off. Things I never thought to see on my dining room table? Weaverbird nests, termite hill cross sections, secretary birds and long giraffe tongues.

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Our nature notebook has started to pick up steam now that the summer steam is lessening. We went for a lovely hike early one morning last week and had several new experiences even though it was a familiar trail. I love that about nature! We got very close to a blue heron and were able to hear its strange call. We found raccoon tracks, a few dragon fly specimens and photographed several specimens of wild orchid.

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We came home and journaled together, only to discover that on the same day last year we also saw a blue heron! An exciting moment for us! We are still using the nature journals from Classical Conversations and its wonderful to see how their work has progressed over time.

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“King if the Wind” by Marguerite Henry was our lunch time read aloud for this study alongside the Christian heroes Then and Now  edition of David Livingstone.  The days are slowly ripening into perfect outdoor reading weather and I have a feeling we’ll be doing the vast majority of our schoolwork outdoors this winter. We start Marco Polo’s account of his journey on Monday and I can’t wait!

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There are a few resources that we use for each study, without exception, that I do not mention every time I post. They are:

1) Planet Earth DVDs  and One Small Square series by Donald Silver for Biome Study. These two together have replaced Properties of Ecosystems for us. We journal and illustrate pages from the Square books and then watch Planet Earth. We still do all the experiments listed in the TM.

2) Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel*
3) Material World by Peter Menzel*
*These books have been much more interesting and engaging than the majority of the Geography pages assigned in our TM. Oftentimes we skip those entirely and just learn about the countries using these two books along with the book basket recommendations and…
4) Give Your Child the World by Jamie Martin. This is a book of book lists organized by area and country. Its fantastic and has enriched our year.

5)  Pin It Maps. We use the individual country maps, world map, land and water forms and country flag maps.

6) Around the World in 80 Pages by Antony Mason. This little book takes the children through the countries on the various continents. The last few weeks we read through its descriptions of North Africa, East Africa, West Africa, South Africa and portions of the middle east. It really made the continent of Africa so much more vivid for my children and helped them understand that Africa is not one giant plain covered in grass and full of elephants and lions and giraffes. It gave depth and perspective and contrast. Such a great little book!
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Africa Book List

Rain School by James Rumford
Ashanti to Zulu by Margaret Musgrave
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema (also a Reading Rainbow episode!)
Two Ways to Count to Ten: A Liberian Folktale by Ruby Dee
Seven Spool of Thread by Angela Mediars
Owen & Mzee by Isabella Hatkoff
We all Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs
Africa is Not a Country by Margy Burns Knight
Beatrice’s Goat by Page McBrier
Jaha and Jamil Went Down the Hill: African Mother Goose by Virginia Kroll
The Boy who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela by Cristina Kessler
My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me by Maya Angelou
One Hen by Katie Smith Milway
My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tolowa Mollel

I have dropped the ball on crafts, thanks to our focus on handiwork. We haven’t really opened Global Art much of late because of everything else we have going on, especially with crochet and knitting. But I do love some of the crafts in the book so I’m going to try and be a bit more diligent about setting time aside for the boys to make these things.

Next up–the Middle East!

MFW ECC: Mexico!

Hola! What a fantastic week we had in Mexico. This week’s boarding passes appeared on the boy’s breakfast plates as usual. I cut a long green chile shape out of construction paper to place on top of each ticket. The boys asked, “Why is there a long booger on my plate?” Yup. I am always successful when trying adorable pinterest things. (sigh)

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We got an ENORMOUS stack of books at the library. While I read aloud to the boys they did the following:

Yarn Art (Global Art p. 120), Bead Work, Desert Biome Box (pictured below), Sculpy Clay Sun faces (Global Art p. 122), chopped fruit for our paletas recipe (see recipe section), colored Mexico landmarks like Chichen Itza and used bright pastels to color in some famous Diego Rivera murals and a few Frida Kahlo paintings.

Also, never underestimate the power of tea and snacks. If I feed them, they will come and they will listen. If their mouths are full then they wont be making laser gun noises while I try to read about Teotihuacan.

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We continued using our two Peter Menzel books, which are really giving us an intimate and in depth look at daily life in the countries we study. Hungry Planet p. 218-225Material World p. 144-151

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While looking at our Peter Menzel books, the boys found a new word they had never encountered before—Bahidaj. The fruit that comes from the saguaro cactus. Hmm, what’s that? Out came the dictionary and from there we pulled out “Cactus Hotel” and “Desert Giant” the boys drew pictures of various animals living in the saguaro cactus and then they diverged. The eldest wanted to learn more about saguaro shoes, the hardened nests of woodpeckers left behind once the saguaro cactus falls and decays. This then led to a deeper look at the decaying process and the animals involved–mostly insects. My second born looked at the harvesting of the Bahidaj fruit by the O’odham people. My eldest chimed in, “sometimes they use the saguaro shoe to carry things in!” The younger one wondered, “what happens to the fruit left behind? ” Those hundreds of abandoned seeds spilling out from the red fruits exposed core. And so we studied how the cactus grows, oh so slowly, until they are 50 years old and can flower, which must then be pollinated in order for fruit to grow. Wait? Pollination? What are the most common desert pollinators? And off they go again! They were at this or nearly two hours. We ended with an effective Cacti Simulation Experiment I found online and then the boys made Gila woodpeckers out of Sculpy clay.

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The boys are starting to document their own pages for their ECC Geography notebooks and have decided to choose one animal, one plant, one tree, one custom and one historical story to research on their own each week (one for each day of the week). This will be a time of independent research for each boy. I agreed to the idea and I am interested to see what they discover on their own!

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We have also decided to undergo a year long project, based off of their main interest this year. We are calling it “World Village.” Its a miniature scale village filled with homes from around the world. I’m mildly surprised that we didn’t end up doing “Weapons of the World” since the boys are always so fixated on such things. But as we read our North America books and later our Peter Menzel books, the boys became increasingly intrigued by how different each culture lives, yet how many things we have in common. How people live off the land, what they eat, where they live, what they wear and how they approach life—questions about these things abound. And so we settled on “World Village” as a way for the boys to put their research into visual form. As an added bonus, they often work to construct these homes while I read aloud. Its nice to have busy hands while I read.

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We worked on our Adobe home this week. We used sculpy clay to form our adobe and then we baked the pieces in the oven. Once the adobe cooled down, we painted it a terra cotta color and painted the window frames and door turquoise.  The landscape for the adobe home will match the more arid regions of Mexico.

I found a fun site with 360 degree views or “tours” from different countries. On the Mexico page you can find Teotihuacan, Mayan temples and pyramids, Tenochtitlan, cities, deserts, villages, beaches, caves, mountains, etc. We had fun exploring these! (Disclaimer: I did not look at every single picture. So be present with your kiddos as they surf just in case!)

This is the best recording for Ballet Folklorico that I could find, from a gala honoring the work of Amalia Hernandez, founder and choreographer for Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. The dancing starts after the 12 minute mark and goes on for close to two hours! Singing, dancing, folk tales, etc. Check it out!

Gala del Ballet de Amalia Hernandez en La Paz

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Here are some links to music by Mexican Composers that we listened to while making our Global Art selections this week.
Silvestre Revueltas- La Noche de los Mayas
Carlos Chavez: Sinfonia India
Conlon Nancarrow: String Quartet No 3
Blas Galindo: Sones del Mariachi

Our Favorite Books from the Enormous Library Stack:

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto
P is for Pinata by Tony Johnston
Off We Go to Mexico by Laurie Krebs
What Can You do with a Palleta? by  Carmen Tafolla
Desert Giant by Barbara Bash
Cactus Hotel by Brenda Guiberson
Desert Scrapbook by  Virginia Wright Frierson

Here are a few delicious recipes to try:

Coconut and Pineapple Tamales
Pineapple Cucumber Lime Palletas
Homemade Tortillas
Mexican Drinking Chocolate
Churros

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We fell into a great rhythm this week. I think we have our groove back! We also squeezed in a fantastic field trip at an arts center with our Wild + Free group. The kids were able to help make sandcasts for some glass art. It was HOT, but so much fun.

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We also finished collecting for our Nature Pal Exchange group. This time we are trading with a family from Colorado and we are so excited to see what they discovered.

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We are off to Canada next. See you there! 🙂
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MFW Kindergarten: Apple

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Our first vowel week was a great deal of fun! My little guy has been quite taken with water color drawings lately.  I had selected a few crafts off of Pinterest a couple of weeks ago in a moment of weakness. The true motivating factor behind the choices? I just needed him to be busy for a couple of minutes so I could hammer out a few phone calls for the Classical Conversations practicum I am hosting next month. The crafts were cute and required zero mental effort on my part (or his). Then I stumbled across this article, and resolved once more to let my son go through his own art process. Letting him think and be messy and creative and free is a better use of his time and energy. So I let him go and he surprised me by focusing quite intently on reproducing several pictures from “The Life and Times of the Apple” by Charles Mecucci on the life cycle of an apple. He fashioned the pages into a book and by the end of the week was able to give a thoughtful, brief narration on the stages of apple growth.

He also had a marvelous time slicing apples this week. I purchased a large sack of juicing apples from the store and he practiced using our apple corer and slicer, the apple peeler, a crinkle cutter and a sharper knife for cross-section cutting. He loved finding the star points made out of seeds in each slice.  We dried a few sheets of these slices in the oven at its lowest temperature setting over the course of the day and once the slices were dried, the boys strung together beautiful apple garlands to hang in the classroom.
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One of the new responsibilities on my kiddo’s list is feeding the chickens and gathering their eggs each day. He is always incredibly eager to do his job. This week, however, he had a few missteps in the execution of his work. I am always reminded that I must be vigilant in correcting these missteps immediately to ensure that his habits are well formed as they are being cemented. It is tricky to do this without crossing into legalism. I don’t want him to feel like he cannot make a mistake, but at the same time, this responsibility requires his careful attention. We ended up scaling back for a few days. I accompanied him on his trips and kept an eye on him as he worked. By the end of the week, we were back on track. I am currently working on the next set of life skills that he will be working on over the next few months.

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Back in the classroom, our work with his letters marches on. He is reaching for this set quite often during his free play as well, so I know he enjoys the challenge. His sand books, tactile letters and white board cards are seeing a lot of use. All of his literay work is presented as a game. He is so proud of his play/work.

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Another great activity we set up this week (and I failed to snap pictures of) was our “How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World”  sensory tour. We laid out a spread of all the ingredients and he had the chance to try and figure out what each ingredient was using only his sense of smell, touch and taste. (Though he was not allowed to taste the raw egg yolk/whites). We giggled a lot and ended up making the most lopsided pie I have ever seen in my life.

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Are you taking advantage of the weekly scheduled nature walks? This is my favorite part of the week! While we try and get out in nature every single day, our Friday excursion is specifically geared for my K student. This week we were on the hunt for pond apples. We found zero pond apples. But we did spy roseate spoonbills, cranes, egrets, ibis, and our favorite, anhingas! We found nests, five-lined skins, apple snail eggs laid out in careful order on the stalk of some pickerlweed, and we were even chased across a wooden bridge by wasps. Oh, the thrill!

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We came home and had a feast of apple turnovers (baked earlier that morning) and vanilla chai tea. We read our favorite versions of the Johnny Appleseed story and closed out our afternoon making apple stamp prints. We halved our apples, dunked them in paint and stamped away! We’ll keep this paper to use as gift wrap later on in the year. My guy was proud to accomplish something that would be used by our family later on in the year.

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On to Nn-Nest!!

MFW Adventures: Morse & Human Body

The boys spent many long and cozy hours indoors this week. Our dry season has turned out to be nearly as wet as the rainy season. Large storms keep sweeping across our area and we find ourselves grateful to be snug indoors with few places to go during the week.

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We finished up our time studying the human body by filling in the last pages of our Dover coloring books and completing the last two experiments in the Magic School Bus Anatomy kit.

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Our Anatomy tray was out quite often and the boys really cemented their identification of the organs. We also brought out our magiscope and looked at hair, blood, cell and saliva samples.

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We brought out one of our very favorite board games, SOME BODY and played a dozen rounds throughout the coarse of the week. We highly recommend this one. Even if your children aren’t old enough to play with the questions cards, they can place the reusable stickers on their body board and become familiar with the layout of our organ systems.

 

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We read three books on Samuel Morse and the boys made these darling Morse code name necklaces out of leftover holiday paper straws and the remaining pony beads from our Native American study.

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They were intrigued by Morse’s designs and spent one rainy afternoon trying to get a piece of twine to absorb an electric charge from the carpet in their bedroom, in order to make the pencil on the other end of the twine write secret messages.  After hours of failed attempts we settled for some work on our Snap Circuits board.

In other news, we finaly, FINALLY, reached our state during state study! (How do people residing in the last two states deal with the wait?) We ventured out at the first sign of sunshine. Our local trails were inundated with water which made our adventure extra challenging for the boys. They adored it!

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We found a fern gully on this particular outing that really captured our imaginations. The boys wanted to crawl under the ferns and set up little homes. I’m half-tempted to move there once the rain stops.

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I am so grateful for our nature walks. They have turned out to be the most enriching part of our homeschool journey. Everything we learn seems to flourish when we step out onto the trail. I love watching the boys make connections between math and music and geography and latin and history and science as they walk along a mucky path listening to the sounds of the wetlands.

When we return home, out come the nature journals and colored pencils. We use prismacolors for our most important work. They are definitely pricey but worth it for the quality of the product. The boys know they must take special care of these art tools and have demonstrated great responsibility in caring for them.

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The insect cards pictured above are $4 laminated printables from the talented Alice Cantrell.

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We are officially 10 weeks away from completing our Adventures. There are many updates to record here. I’ll be posting a few updates in the near future about how we make the most of our nature walks. Week 25 here we come!

MFW Adventures: More States and a State of the Union

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We always start planning the upcoming school year in January. This is partially due to our involvement with Classical Conversations. I have yet to blog much about CC, I’m still trying to get a solid year of MFW and HGP blogging under my belt before I try and add in CC. It is a huge part of our lives and our school year revolves around those 24 week cycles. Next year I will be directing a new Foundations community group in our area, which is exciting and nerve wracking all at once. Its strange to start planning so far in advance when I am still in the midst of this wonderful year I worked so hard to plan last January. But the time has come for the yearly, “State of the Union” and so this is the week when I stepped back and observed all that takes place in our home and in our hearts. For us, education is not simply what we are learning but who we are becoming. The short of it is, we are loving Adventures so far. It has been a perfect fit for our family and I am so grateful for it and for the Charlotte Mason method it employs.

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I am currently in the midst of reading “Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition” by Karen Glass.  It is one of the best homeschooling books I have ever read and I am savoring every single chapter. This book echoes all that we do (and hope to do) in our own home. Its wonderful to pick up a well written book that engages the two methods of education closest to my heart.

Today, I sat on a park bench with my book and watched my 5 year old engage in a self-led physics experiment involving a steep slide and fistfuls of sand. He would walk over every once in awhile to discuss his findings. We talked about friction, inertia, motion and he would hypothesize the results of his next trial with barely contained glee. When it was time to leave, he tidied up the slide, pushed sand off the sidewalk and into the play area where it belonged, and went out of his way to pick up a piece of someone else’s trash and threw it in the garbage.  He did this without any prompting. Twenty minutes earlier I had circled the following passage in the Karen Glass book:

“…Charlotte Mason’s conception of synthetic thinking, or “the science of relations” concerned itself with placing the child in the way of forming relationships with every area of knowledge, so that the question we ask is not “how much does the youth know?” but rather “how much does he care?” When the affections are involved–when we care about a place, a person, or an idea–we are more motivated to act if action is required. When we love virtue itself, we are more likely to behave virtuously.”

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This is what I have loved about Adventures. Not the amount my children are learning, though they have grown by leaps and bounds this year, but the virtue they are cultivating and employing. How much does he care? It seems everything we are studying, all the habit training and scripture study and living books, everything is nourishing these little ones to care, to desire to act rightly.

Here is what the week looked like. We studied several states: Maine, Missouri, Arkansas and Michigan. The boys took great care in opening the tin of special colored pencils used for our States book. They were diligent in coloring each bird and flower to the right specifications. They copied down each state motto in their neatest penmanship. They closed their books and put away their pencils. They brought out the book basket and we went on adventures in four different states while the toddler shrieked in the background and the preschooler called for pretzels and juice. Everyone eventually settled down and we experienced beautiful illustrations and rich prose. The boys played with seashells while we read “Island Boy.” They acted out “Blueberries for Sal” and cooked pretend clam chowder after reading “One Morning in Maine.” We pulled out our Saxon books and halfway through our lesson, I noticed my six year old building cranes and seabirds out of pattern blocks. “Remember that story?” he asked,  “About Obadiah and the seagull?” Off he went to fetch the book. As soon as he completed his math lesson, he picked up Brinton Turkle’s tender and lovely book, “Thy friend, Obadiah” and read it aloud to his siblings, giving special attention and affection to his younger brothers. Thirty minutes later we were on a website looking at the anatomy of birds and constructing their skeletal systems over and over again. This brought us back to our study of Human Anatomy. The boys brought down the Human Organ tray and began reading each three part card and matching them with the corresponding organs from their safari toob, until the toddler stole the large intestine and chaos ensued. We resolved the quarrel and moved on to our Usbourne Encyclopedia and the boys began to question the latin names they kept hearing, so we picked up our latin work and labored over a few declensions. One particular song used to memorize the 3rd declension latin noun endings reminded them of a Rachmaninoff piece they had heard weeks before. We listened to it twice and then one of the boys asked if we could play outside. We dashed out of the house and opened the coop to let the chickens out. Once again we were talking about birds and anatomy while the 5 year old zoomed by on skates humming Rachmaninoff and the 3 year old stomped around saying “Kuplink, Kuplank, Kuplunk,” in his best imitation of little Sal dropping blueberries in a tin pail.

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I am not teaching my children for the sole purpose of ensuring successful performances on tests that cannot measure love, sense of wonder, compassion, joy, faithfulness, goodness, or creativity. As Karen Glass says, “If we answer the question ‘What is man?’ with ‘man is a living soul created in the image of God,’ our educational task will be much different, as we seek to discover all the potential in each child so that he can become everything that God meant him to be. All that we can give him will not be too much nor go to waste.”

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Week 23 was a slower week in terms of topics covered but it was a rich week nonetheless. On these slower weeks, I love to get out into nature with the boys. That prescheduled Friday nature walk is something I make sure to enforce. I make every effort to protect that part of their schedule. In many ways, it is the capstone to all we learn in the classroom.

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Our son’s godfather came to visit with his son and so our nature walk for Unit 23 took place at the beach. It was a nice tie in for all those “salty” books we read about Maine.  The boys tumbled about the tide pools and played in the surf. They collected seashells and felt the sand between their toes. They experienced life and their souls were nourished by the sea air and warm water.  Little scientific observations were sprinkled throughout the day. It happened naturally. “School” is not something they go to and then leave after a few hours. There are no compartmentalized subjects. It is not a chore.

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Learning is life and it brings them joy.

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Orderliness + Sensory Play: October

IMG_8177October has come and gone. It was an incredibly busy month for us. I am still trying to process all the things we learned together. I brought in lots of extra ideas from The Homegrown Preschooler this month. My newly minted 5 year old is quite over the moon whenever he gets to do “baking math,” my 3 year old is over the moon about the end product of “baking math.”

IMG_7180I love having my little Team B on this AYoPS curriculum together. It is fascinating to watch how they approach a new skill or activity. Add in sensory issues, speech & developmental delays and two very different personalities, and its a research field day of love and laughter!
IMG_7597I set out the invitation to play. Usually on a surface at his eye level and equipped with baby wipes or a small bowl with water and a dry towel, ready and waiting in case someone becomes overwhelmed by something. While the eldest children dive right in, my youngest always approaches new material with caution.  Sometimes it takes him awhile to acclimate to a new sensation or a formerly distasteful, but currently acceptable, sensation.

***Side note: Please never ever force your child to touch something that freaks them out. It will not “cure” their sensory issues. 

IMG_7624At times he will pause midway through an activity and stare at his hands this way. Wonder, watching, waiting? I’m not sure what he is doing, but he does it almost every time.  I leave out the invitation and walk away. He approaches and deals with it on his own terms. Its been working for us and his confidence is gaining momentum.

I love that his curriculum and therapy bring him JOY. That is a big, big deal.

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IMG_7927 I remember paging through “A Year of Playing Skillfully” while standing by the Homegrown Preschooler booth at the FPEA convention last May. The month of October listed the  character trait: Orderliness.  I wondered how it would manifest itself in our home.

Yes, the boys put clothes and shoes away. Yes, they helped tidy up dishes and even swept under the tables for me. But the real surprise with Orderliness was ordering their world to the extent they did. The boys loved reading “A House is a House for Me,” last month. It carried over to the month of October and into the trait of orderliness. Finding a birds nest on the ground means that my little guy will carry it in and fill it with his toob birds. Tucking socks inside shoes because, “Go home, sock!” Making the bed because, “Go home, bed!” Wanting to put bananas back inside their peels because, “Go home manamana!”  Last month he would count when putting toys away, this month he would say, “First, and then, and then, and then.”

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Meanwhile, the 5 year old ate up all art and music activities this month!
IMG_8399IMG_8406We currently have an orchard of family trees and more yards of apple stamped butcher paper than I know what to do with. “Don’t worry, Mom. We’ll tell every one its jingle bell paper and use it for Christmas,” he said with a sly smile. Ah, yes. Fall colored jingle bell paper. Perfect. 🙂

IMG_7655We went on many walks in October. After reading “Counting on the Woods” by George Ella Lyon and making ever so many Nature Counting books, the boys are now on a constant watch for math in nature. “5 Kestrels and 4 vultures, ahoy!” Being outside with them is my favorite. Nothing to make or prepare beforehand, nothing to clean up afterwards. Just the boys and I and all the time the day has to offer.

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They come home with dirty toes and a million ideas.
IMG_8064Nature calms and soothes my little guy. On days when I know the invitation to play will be asking a lot of him, I make sure he gets time outside in the wide open.

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We made our pile of leaves out of rubberwood tree offerings. The boys like to restock and form the pile anew almost every day for more jumping and leaf throwing. It was probably their favorite activity of the entire month and it required next to no preparation from me.

Though our little guy does take his time putting the pile together.

“First this, and then this, and then this, and then this, and then this…..”

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MFW Adventures: Wilderness Road & Wild Boys

Wilderness Road! Wilderness Road!
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This curriculum is just too much fun.

We started unit 17 with a long walk through our local grassland preserve to celebrate our “Wilderness Road Day” Celebration. Thanks to the damp sand, the boys managed to track a rabbit for some distance. They also managed to track each other for a good long while, which was very funny. They’d ask, “What on earth made these funny tracks?” I would respond, “Hmmm, looks like a North American Pre Pubescent Homo Sapien to me.” Their father played this trick on them weeks ago but they still fell for it when I did it. Yessssssss!

We spent the rest of our walk imitating bird calls. One boy would pretend to be Daniel Boone and the rest of us were Native Americans. We’d hide and call out like wild turkeys to try and draw him out. We went through our yard and ate lunch based off of what we could find outside. We ended up eating eggs and cocoplums, and drinking pine needle tea, just like our friend Daniel Boone.  It was terrible tea and we laughed over the tops of our cups and there were plenty of gagging noises and melodramatic “death by poison” scenes acted out at the table.

Then the Lincoln Logs were brought out and the boys built ever so many forts while bedecked in coonskin caps and fringed pioneer pants. We ended our Wilderness Road Day Celebration with “wagon wheel “cookies and milk. Don’t go looking on pinterest for an adorable recipe for wagon wheel cookies. You won’t find it what we made. Our wagon wheel cookies were made by my son. They are regular old sugar cookies with wagon wheel tracks on them. 😉

The boys happily settled in for their Saxon math lesson after all that exploration, building, gagging and feasting.
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We’ve been able to build some really cool models and replicas this year. For this unit, we built a Frontier fort with the help of a very patient homeschool principle.  I found this fort at the Rainbow Resource booth at the FPEA conference for $3. A quick search of the Rainbow Resource page did not yield an available link for purchasing this kit. Here is the more expensive Amazon link for the fort.  This fort kit if for ages 8+. The boys definitely needed help with using wood glue and clamps to get the pieces to hold together.

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This winter we will be harvesting from our first big garden here on the farm. We spent this month preparing the beds and starting our seeds. The boys are excited to eat like frontiersmen. I keep reminding them they will be working hard too.  This garden will be a full time job!

IMG_8185We spent that Saturday morning sorting through our seed archive. We talked about what plants would yield the most crop at this time of year. What would be most beneficial for our table to plant? How would we store these vegetables once they came in?  The boys had so many interesting answers based off of our readings in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  They are quite eager to harvest the crop and find ways to preserve our food! It is their dearest wish to pack something in sawdust and then walk in to the kitchen to find that I have cooked a mountain of food the way Almanzo’s mother does every five minutes. (Seriously, that woman cooks SO MUCH FOOD!!!)

Pioneer-Boy-Paper-Doll-PrintbalesLittle House on the Prairie blog has these great pioneer paper doll printables, (along with a dozen other cute things) that we used this week. The boys loved putting these together while I read from Pioneers & Patriots.  They ended up coloring and cutting out a bunch of accessories for their paper dolls to take on the long journey.

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All this Wilderness Road/Pioneer reading made for a pack of mighty wild boys. They spent the week running, playing in the house, jumping in leaf piles, chasing the dog and bouncing on the adventure rope.
IMG_7581IMG_8065I am so thankful that they get to run wild.

On days when our parenting is terrible, our boys walk in through the back door and I look at them and take comfort in knowing that in this we are doing what is right for them.  Sweaty hair, red faces streaked with dirt, grass stains on their clothes, windblown, smelling like sunshine and laughter and joy and childhood.