For The Birds.

As a dad, I want my home to be full of LIFE– learning and discovery, excitement and joy, good music and delicious food.

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One way that we infuse our home with life is by keeping a variety of animals.  We are starting small and slow on our little hobby farm (For some larger-scale farm beauty check out our friends at Marmilu Farms), but we did develop a master plan for the property that incrementally includes chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, rabbits, bees, quail, pigs, goats, sheep, cows, horses, llamas, alpacas, ostriches, capybaras, lesser kudu, and velociraptors.  OK, well maybe not quite that much, but we’re learning as we go, and this is the story of how we stumbled wing-deep into turkeys.

Two months after moving on to this property, we picked up a handful of chickens.  Soon after, Elsie went to our local farm store for chicken feed and came back with chicken feed and two turkey poults. (Which, incidentally, helped create a new family rule: NO IMPULSE BUYS OF LIVESTOCK.)  Only one survived, but I built a small coop for it and after seven months we had a fantastic backyard-raised turkey dinner.  Our first foray with turkeys was a success!

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So when year two rolled around we upped the ante and brought home 3 poults from the farm store.  I expanded the first coop for them, they had plenty of fresh air, sunshine, and room to roam, and everything was fine and dandy.  Then one day when they were about four months old I heard a huge commotion coming from the coop, and as I walked over to investigate, what I saw was basically an avian version of a vintage WWF fight.  Two of the birds were duking it out, kicking, scratching, pecking, beating each other with their wings.  It took me a second, but then I realized “Ooooooh… I have two males and one female, and the males are fighting with each other because of her.” So the next day I sold a male to a coworker and revised our turkey strategy: initially we planned to fatten them up and eat them, but now that I knew I had one of each sex, I was just going to let them go and see what happened.  Sure enough, two months later they started mating, and one month after that she started laying eggs.  At some point in the process they picked up the names Tommy and Shelley, the former because male turkeys are called toms, the latter because her production of nearly one egg per day over the course of six months was simply amazing, not unworthy of a namesake like Mrs. Duggar.

Turkeys really are amazing animals, and the boys and I were endlessly fascinated with them.

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The assortment of feathers, the way they walk and eat, the way that Tommy would puff himself up and snort, and his inclination to dance.  We found ourselves regularly walking out to the coop to check on them for sheer entertainment, often several times a day, and they became an instant point of discussion with friends and family that visited.  We had many a deep conversation standing around that coop watching them.  And they continued their daily cycle of mating and laying.  My 6-year old once witnessed the act and later told us “I saw the turkeys play this kind of wrestling game.  Shelley sat on the ground and Tommy crawled up on her back and was waving his feathers and doing a weird dance on her back.  He looked like he was having a lot of fun, but she didn’t seem to like it very much.”

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With such a prolific production of fertilized eggs I excitedly bought an incubator with the dream of having a mini turkey farm, keeping some of the poults for ourselves (for more delicious backyard-to-table dinners down the road) and selling the rest for some extra cash on the side.  Little did I know how much the odds are stacked against the production of good, healthy poults!  If the egg is fertilized in the first place, the embryo has to grow successfully.  And even if an embryo develops properly, carefully maintaining the incubator at a certain temperature and humidity, it has to hatch itself.  Sadly, I had several poults die while hatching, as they were not strong enough to sufficiently crack through the shell and push themselves out.  And of those that did manage to hatch, some had defects or were ill and others wouldn’t eat or drink, and they ended up dying within the first few days.  The harsh reality of life and death shattered my turkey breeding idealism- I’d guess that for every dozen eggs I put in the incubator, only 2-3 would make it through to be healthy birds.  But boy did I try!  I borrowed a friend’s incubator and had them running in tandem for nearly five months, so that as one batch of eggs was hatching, the eggs in the other incubator would be halfway through, and so on.

The boys enjoyed the whole process as much as I did and were exposed to important life lessons in the meantime.  They liked watching me give the birds their food and water, and would accompany me on the daily trek to retrieve the egg.  Once the incubators were running, I would catch them sneaking into the room to check on the eggs through the incubator window, even if they were still weeks away from hatching.  And as the hatch day approached, I taught them how to candle the eggs with a flashlight to check on the development.  And if you ever want your normally rambunctious kids to sit still and channel their energy into excited shrieks and yells, let them watch something hatch out of an egg!  Some poults started and finished the whole process in about two hours, others took nearly two days, and others died halfway through.  And, of course, watching a new hatchling is fascinating, so they all took shifts on Turkey Patrol.

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They loved helping me feed and water the poults and watching them grow and change over the first few days and weeks, and experienced the sadness when I told them a sick newborn had died.  One day they came home and asked where the newly-hatched turkeys were, and I explained that I had sold them and that we would use that money to help take care of the other animals.  The boys gathered a whole range of valuable experiences with these turkeys, hands-on experiences that balanced nicely with their classroom studies.

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And what about Tom and Shelley now, you ask?  They were delicious!!

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But they gave us one last parting educational gift- Can you guess what those two things are in the picture below?  Incredibly… those are still-forming eggs!  When we butchered Shelley, we found those inside. It takes more than a day for a turkey hen to form an egg internally, so there is a pipeline of several forming eggs inside her at any one point.  AMAZING!

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The Very First Morning Time

When we first began morning time I didn’t have a name for it.  What I had was three kids in diapers, sleep deprivation and a raging case of PTSD.

I knew that I wanted to homeschool. I knew that I wanted it to look completely different than my classroom experiences thus far. I knew that I had a tiny house, next to no money, a husband in grad school, a three year old that refused to potty train, a two year old that I was convinced would grow up to be a serial killer and a nursing baby.

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We dove in.

My first problem was figuring out how to get all these active children gathered up and settled into one spot for any given length of time.  It was hard not to notice that the boys were constantly eating. The only time it was relatively quiet and peaceful was when little mouths were stuffed with apples or cheese or yogurt.  I decided to lure them in with food.

Our very first morning time lasted five minutes. It consisted of myself, two small boys strapped into high chairs and one baby in a sling.  I had set out a small vase of flowers from the garden and lit a candle. I placed chopped fruit on table trays and started nursing the baby. I cracked open a random book selected three minutes prior and began to read aloud.

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They pretty much ignored me as they wolfed down their snack and mere minutes later they were all chanting “down! down! down! down!”

That was it.

Our very first morning time.

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What we have now is quite different of course. Starting with the fact that we now have a name for it after discovering other families had been doing the same thing all along. Morning Time. On most days its beautiful and wonderful and so engrained in our family culture that if we skip the boys get upset.  It is honestly my favorite thing we do as a homeschool family. The road from that very first morning time till now is quite a bumpy one, paved with the stubborn determination of a mom too thick headed to throw in the towel.

Building up our morning time was the work of thousands of days. Stretched in the most minuscule daily increments that have started to pool together into something truly life-giving and refreshing.

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I have posted a series of short videos on Instagram with tips for Morning Time and at the request of followers have decided to begin a series on Morning Time here on our blog. I am not a Morning Time expert. I don’t have all the answers. I can only testify from what we have walked through the last six years.

If you want true expertise, read Cindy Rollins book “Mere Motherhood” without delay. She has a smaller accompanying book called “Morning Time” packed with wonderful suggestions. Cindy Rollins, of course, is the woman behind Morning Time. While many of us may have started our own version of it in our homes, Cindy was the gal who ordered the philosophy of it all. You can visit her blog at Morning Time Moms.

Join us on our series, “Road to Morning Time.” You can subscribe over on the left somewhere and have each post delivered to your inbox.  If you have any specific questions you would like answered over the course of the series, leave them in the comments below!

 

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 ECC Brazil

On the night before we began our study of Brazil and South America, the Olympics began. Totally unplanned. It was so much fun to see the opening ceremony and watch a presentation of Brazil’s history unfold before our eyes.

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We loved hearing the music too! The boys asked me to find some more Brazilian music and we began by listening to Putumayo Kid’s Present Brazilian Playground and the Bossa Nova tunes of Sergio Mendez.

Of course another highlight was the world parade. We tried to find each country on the map as they were announced. I was greatly encouraged to hear how much the boys have already retained.  It also peaked the boys interest in the world flags.

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In an effort to avoid an enormous post covering three weeks worth of school work, I will share how we did our Geography & Culture work for this unit and then a few tidbits and other resources for a few other subjects.

Geography work for South America consisted of several things. First, I made extra copies of a map of South American with clear black line borders and little else. Every day the boys would sit down, and fill in all the countries they could remember onto their maps. Then I would hand them a correctly filled out map and they would check their work. Then they would add two new countries and we would recite the countries again and I would switch back and forth between asking, “Show me ____” and “Tell me what this is?”  I would only quiz them on countries they had filled in so far. The next day, they would receive a brand new map to fill in from memory, check their work and add a few more in. By the middle of the second week of Brazil study, they could fill in the entire map correctly. I learned of this method from Sonya Schafer at the last homeschool conference I attended and its really worked for us.

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We would reinforce our work by building  geography puzzles (note: We purchased ours on Zulily for $19) and using the Geography game that comes with ECC. I love this simple game. The boys have learned so much using it and I like that I can walk away and they are confident enough to play and learn on their own while I work with the other two kids. We often close out Geography time by reading “Around the World in 80 Pages“which gives us a closer look at all the other countries in the continent we are currently visiting.

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Cultural study has taken many forms this year. Again, we have to acknowledge that they cannot walk away from this year experts on every single world culture, so I am not stressing out about reading  every single “Welcome to >Insert Country’s Name<” book the library has to offer. I am looking for my kids to make heart connections with the people in these far away lands. So in the first few days of encountering a new country/continent, I spread out the “delectable feast.” A variety of books about the country. Culture study, a cookbook, travel books, biome information, indigenous peoples book, and a books about crafts or fine arts. I play some culturally appropriate music and they sit down and dig in. Its really important to me that they get to follow their interests and seek out treasure to dig out and claim for themselves. Its so much more meaningful than randomly reading out statistics. They get to notebook whatever they have discovered and then they get to present the information to us.  They often go in completely different directions. This week my eldest went from tapirs to butterflies to brazilwood to the Yanomami tribes to homemade dye. He had to make his own a few days later and paint a rainforest picture with it afterwards.

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As the days progress I incorporate living books about the country. We had several favorites this study that really drew us in and made us feel like we were there! Check out our book list at the end of this post.

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The boys have been keeping science notebooks this year with illustrations and narrations from our work with the Usborne Living Science Encyclopedia. We continue to use Biome cards and animal ecology study work from Pin it! Maps. (Check out the free teaching materials tab!)

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Based off of their interest, they spent several days learning about the variety of bird beaks in the world, while I avoided all of the laundry in the house. They were fascinated by all the new information garnered and when we went for a visit to our local zoo’s Amazon section, they were calling out all the different kinds of beaks they saw.  Some of their new artwork for their ornithology albums came out so lovely. Its especially encouraging to this art challenged mother to see our diligent work paying off little by little. We are still using Drawing with Children since we had to hold off for a long time on it until we were ready. I am so glad we waited! Its been much more fruitful now.

We also got a bit of sensory fun added in with a prepared “Smells of the Rainforest” Tray featuring things like cinnamon, cacao, coffee, hibiscus, etc. (Check out Mirus Toys for sensory activities and bird beaks study)

Last bit of information for science, we found these beautiful insect and butterfly cards for FREE here. (Thanks Eltern Vom Mars!) which we used during our brief look at entomology. We also spent time with our CC Science work, learning all about biomes and consumers.

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During our second week we decided to catalogue all the edible natives in our farm along with all other fruit bearing plants on the property. It was so grand to realize how many dietary options we have should political anarchy ever shut down all grocery stores. Our nature walks have been so brief lately due to the tremendous heat index down here. We are doing our best to get outside in some way, but the time is always short. Unless…

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We hit the beach.

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Now that is my kind of nature walk in the dead of August!!! I know once the tropical weather calms the heck down we will have plenty of time to do more nature walks. Until then, nature walk = farm and beach and books. And that is ok! Next month we will resume our walks and we will be starting “Blaze New Trails” an adventure guide by Holly Giles of The Giles Frontier as part of our nature study experience. We’ll let you know how it goes! (PS If you are studying Little House in the Big Woods this year at all, check out Holly’s “County Fair” study. Its darling and I can’t wait to use it over summer break next year!)

Brazil was a three week behemoth. It was fun, but we were so excited to move onto Norway. A few other things that happened outside of Brazil during our three week study?

LOTS of practical life work. How to change a lightbulb, how to sew a button, how to load the dishwasher, how to get a cookbook and finish a recipe from start to finish (Check out Mollie Kazan’s Honest Pretzels) to name a few.  I am reminded that there are many, many things I do doing the day that could really be taken on by someone else now. Someone much shorter than me and way eager to help and learn. It takes time to teach new skills, but this intentional investment of time is so very worth it!

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The boys are still working on their pottery skills with their teacher and I love the glow they get when working at something difficult and worthy.

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Our knitting projects have all but wrapped up and we are starting to venture out into the world of knitting socks. Four needles!? Yowza! And my second born has started embroidering, which is fun but a bit maddening when he gets stuck and I have to jump in and figure out where he is. My eldest still shows very little interest in this sort of handiwork so he has picked up more Paper Sloyd and is enjoying completing some beautiful work on his free time.

I am grateful once more that my children get to fully experience that wonderful, fleeting bit of magic known as childhood. Not everyone gets to and I am so thankful they have one.  I continually remind myself to make time for them to just be children–to have joy and wonder and space to ponder.

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I am also thankful God brought us to homeschooling. There will be many dropped balls and missed academic goals and fumbled parenting moments, but I am so secure in walking this path God has called us to because of His merciful reaffirmations and bountiful grace in leading us. I have complete faith that Christ has a plan for my children and their lives. They belong to Him. Our calling is not conditional upon how many lesson plans are completed or how many baskets of laundry are completed each week.  I get to beat back the devil’s lies and whispers with the TRUTH of victory already won. Thank God for that! See you all in Norway!

Brazil Book List:
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
The Rain Forest Grew All Around by Susan Mitchell
Up and Down the Andes by Laurie Krebs
Biblioburro by  Jeanette Winter
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown
The Tapir Scientist by Sy Montgomery
A Mango in the Hand: A Story told through Proverbs by Antonio Sacre
Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl (4th grade +)
Welcome to the Green House by Jane Yolen
The Umbrella by Jan Brett (Costa Rica, but we were late in reading it. Rain Forest Biome fit though)
Nature’s Green Umbrella by Gail Gibbons
Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth by Eric Carle

Rain Forest by Ben Morgan (SUCH gorgeous photography!)

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 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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MFW Kindergarten: Moon!

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Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’ll get there very soon
5,4,3,2,1
BLAST OFF!

Our favorite librarian taught us the above poem/song last year. For the moon unit, my boy made a rocketship out of an old toilet paper roll and we would chant this poem while marching around the house. Whenever the countdown came he would crouch down low and then leap up high to launch his rocket at the cry of “BLAST OFF!” I am not attaching a picture of the rocketship because when it comes to a craft like that, there shouldnt be an example picture. Hand your kid a TP roll, construction paper, scissors and glue. Ask them to make a rocket and allow them to be creative! I love what my guy came up with. Its nothing you would ever see on pinterest, but its 100%, undeniably, HIM!

We had such fun reading MFW’s excellent book basket suggestions this week. We drank a lot of tea and had many, many afternoon snuggle sessions on the couch with our books. As a third child, this special time of undivided attention means the world to him!

We were very excited to study the lunar cycle this week. After making our oreo wheel to represent the phases of the moon, we pulled out our lunar  cycle cards from Alice Cantrell (pictured above). He really enjoyed putting them in the correct order and then messing them all up to organize once more.
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Halfway through the week we awoke to a misty morning that in his words, “Just felt like the moon.” So he pretended to be Moon Bear, recently roused from his winter hibernation and roaming the snow laden forest, and he wandered the yard with his arms outstretched, walking in zero gravity mode. I loved watching him get lost in his imagination that way.  He continued the game inside, tying a play silk around his shoulders and parachuting off the moon down to the earth and then off the grand canyon.

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These first few weeks of Kindergarten have been filled with multi sensory approaches to learning letters. His current favorite is his little sand box. We’ve also used sandpaper letters, textured letters, shaving cream, paint inside ziploc bags and construction lines, curves and slants on the light tablet. He is always so proud of his work in this area. I have given him three or four elements of work that he is responsible for initiating and completing every day, and tactile letter practice is one of them. Its part of long term training towards more independent school work.

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Our favorite activity this week was our “Book to Cook” activity, “The Moon Might Be Milk.” He adored this story and really enjoyed gathering all the baking supplies, measuring everything out and mixing it all together and then forming each moon cookie. We surprised his big brothers with this snack. He was so excited to walk back to the classroom and present his brothers with cookies he made and glasses of cold milk. He loves to be the hero!

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Its beautiful to see this boy loving his K year. How wonderful it is to keep things simple and meaningful.