MFW Adventures: Ohio Pioneers


This past week, I opened American Pioneers & Patriots and began reading the story of the O’Neill family heading down the Ohio River.

The boys were decidedly not interested.


I knew attention and participation would be an all day, uphill battle.

I was not in the mood for that.


So I took some cardboard and the hot glue gun and built a flatboat. Then, I asked the boys to bring out the aluminum foil. We walked to the driveway with a bucket of chalk. I sketched out the states surrounding the Ohio River.

We set the foil out along the line of the river and curved the side up high. The eldest grabbed plastic teepees, warriors and canoes. The six year old held the raft and began gathering “supplies.” Little leaves, tiny berries, small stick to use as rifles.


We poured water into the Ohio river and the cardboard raft achieved lift off.

The boys were thrilled. As I read aloud from our book, they acted out each page. They asked thoughtful questions that sent me running to the computer for more information. They played with this set up for hours. Long after I had finished our assigned reading and the extra books in our basket, they played on.

I sat in a green lawn chair and hummed through Over the Rhine’s Ohio album.

By the end of the day, the water had leaked out and washed away the chalk. The next day, the boys ran out of the house with a laminated map in hand. Together they determined where the boundaries of each states should be. They carefully reshaped the Ohio river and even thought to elevate one end with flat rocks to help the stream flow in the right direction.


Its good to change the scenery sometimes. Its good to give their small hands something to do while they absorb information.

Before starting “On the Banks of Plum Creek,” I handed each boy a bowl, tweezers and an ear of Indian corn. They pried kernels loose while I read. We are collecting all these colorful kernels for our upcoming Thanksgiving unit.  I love the concentration they exhibit during this exercise. The silence is also pretty fantastic.
We read five or six books on Johnny Appleseed this week. Our whole week was infused with apples! I made apple dumplings for the boys to eat while I read aloud from Margaret Hodges book. We sliced apples in half and used them to stamp butcher paper. We carefully folded up our project and stored it away  for next month, we’ll be using the long rolls of apple stamped paper to wrap up presents for family. My five year old collected dozens of apple seeds and we used them as counters for our math lessons. The boys learned a great deal about John Chapman’s character this week.  I believe it is the first time they have ever truly considered the idea of legacy. They are starting to wonder if they could change the world around them, even in a small, yet still significant, way. I pulled out Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. After reading about the transformation Miss Rumphius ignites in her neighborhood, I charged the boys to begin thinking of ways they could impact our neighborhood for Christ. I am looking forward to hearing what they come up with!

We have been studying kingdoms and classifications in Classical Conversations this year. We used a few of our science worksheets and lab sheets to reinforce our MFW Science. The boys really enjoyed this exercise in particular.  

Animal Kingdom Notebook Printables helped flesh out our Animal Kingdom Classification Books. Divider pages for each different kingdom are provided. The boys filled in facts about each one and went through a pile of magazines and cut out animals for each category as an “end divider” for each kingdom. Now as we study various animals we encounter in stories, on nature walks, or in our curriculum, we can draw their picture, record facts and file them behind the appropriate kingdom.


Team B enjoyed many fun projects and games throughout the week with their Year of Playing Skillfully curriculum. Team A joined in the fun! They still need heavy doses of play throughout their day. Pumpkin volcanoes and a Van Gogh study kept hands and minds engaged during breaks this week.

We also had the opportunity to watch a free performance of “Peter and the Wolf” at our local library. I was amazed at how much the boys remembered from their study last year during My Father’s World 1st grade. They called out the names of different instruments and characters and remembered the majority of the plot line.


We are getting ready to study “The Nutcracker” in a few weeks. I have finished compiling all the assignments and we will complete the entire unit before attending the show! We can’t wait!


MFW Adventures: Daniel Boone & Weather

Its time for Daniel Boone! Its time for Daniel Boone!!

IMG_7645We ended up doing a much more in-depth study of Daniel Boone than I had anticipated. My eldest spent the majority of the week sporting a coonskin cap and hauling around his trusty rifle, “tick-licker.” So named after Boone’s own gun which earned its moniker through Boone’s storied ability to shoot a tick off a bear from one hundred yards away.

IMG_7920We read through dozens of books on Daniel Boone. My boys were wide eyed and filled with great questions. Learning about Boone and the Wilderness Road compelled us to study the art of tracking and identification!  Check out our MFW Adventures board on our pinterest page for links to various studies and printables. Can I also add that this is one of my favorite things about homeschooling? Find something interesting? Go ahead and deviate from the lesson plan and take time to explore. Fantastic!


We read books. We tracked the chickens in our backyard. We discovered the nests of the feuding squirrel families that live on the farm. We even made tracks in cookie dough for a fun snack! However, once baking started the cookies ended up rising a bit too much and filled in the tracks. But we still had fun making track cookies and eating them. Later in the day, the Littles made tracks in their playdoh using their Schleich animals while the eldest sorted track cards and read through books on tracking animals and identifying various plants.

Speaking of plant identification, we had the best time playing Wildcraft, a lovely cooperative board game that helps children learn about various herbs and their uses.


The kids and I recently signed up for Wild Explorers Club which has been a great fit for us! We ventured out to complete our second assignment for the highly anticipated Wolf Badge and to put our Boone study into practice.


As you can see, not many autumnal colors for us, but plenty of beauty nonetheless.

IMG_7636Our explorers were eager to find tracks and scat. They were not disappointed.
IMG_7652Poop, ahoy!

We found deer tracks and scat, rabbit tracks, grey fox tracks, horse tracks, and snake tracks. Best of all, we got to play nature detectives when we discovered the exoskeleton of a crayfish discarded on a muddy patch of trail covered in raccoon tracks, which led us to raccoon scat 50 yards away. We had read Millicent Selsam’s excellent book “Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints,” the day before, which had detailed this exact scenario. What a blessing to have it unfold before our very eyes. We were pumped! Its good to spend the morning slowly uncovering nature’s stories.


We’ll spend the next week focusing more on our native plants and animals, along with celebrating our own “Wilderness Road Day” which we’ll be sure to share with you!

IMG_7641The first portion of our weather study was a big hit! The boys loved all their Science with Air experiments. We added in plenty of fun weather related reads to our Literary Lunch hour.

IMG_7919I made sure to include a few books related to the weather in our area. Hurricanes are a part of life down here.

It never ever snows here. So we threw in a few snow related books as well.

One of my favorite science resources is this gorgeous book:
IMG_7922My boys love looking through this book and I often find them copying pictures from its pages. This week we took a closer at Julia Rothman’s snowflake renderings.

IMG_7923The boys were fascinated by these pages. It eventually led us to this snowflake generator. Small clicks leave small ice prisms, long drags and clicks make larger shafts of ice. The 2D and 3D views of our snowflake creations were quite the thrilling experience for these southern kiddos!

Unit 17 is up next. We are eager to continue our journey deeper into the frontier.