MFW Adventures: President Washington & Frank Lloyd Wright


I awoke on Sunday, September 6th, still fighting to shake off the last vestiges of my cold. We were scrambling around the house in a mad dash to feed and dress ourselves and four children before church. It was the routine chaos of a Sunday morning—until it wasn’t. After a few terrified shouts from my children and then my husband, I ran into my laundry room to find our faithful Westhighland terrier, Frank Lloyd Wright, in the throes of massive seizures brought on by toad venom. He had death written all over him. We tried desperately to save him.

The children witnessed it all.

That night we made our way to the vet, half of our children asking “what does dead really mean?” We said goodbye to our companion, friend and head of ranch security.

We wept.

Labor Day was probably the saddest day I have ever experienced with my children. Watching my little boys pick flowers from our back hollow and make the long walk towards the corner of our property to place those mangled weeds on the dog’s grave—it was heartbreaking.

That is how we started off our week with President George Washington. Weeks ago I had planned so many fun things for the boys.

Like serving up these George Washington pancakes from Kitchen Fun with my 3 sons.

I wanted to have an Etiquette Tea Party using George Washington’s collection of manners. 

The boys were eager to throw an Inauguration Parade for their pal, George.

Instead, we cried. We cried a lot.

We relocated our class to my Mom’s house and worked through our Adventures Guide for the week. We swam in the pool. We went to the beach. We ate lots and lots of dessert. We had many difficult conversations.

I love My Father’s World gentle learning approach for many reasons. One of them is the following: I don’t have to hurry through difficult times or push dark days under the rug because we are too frantic to finish school. This is the first time my children deal with a “close to the heart” death.  They watched it happen. I am so thankful that we didn’t have to dive back into a hectic routine the next day. They were given the gift of grief. They had time to process their emotions and have all the conversations they needed to have. They were able to shed every tear that needed to be shed. They stayed up late at night, lost in thought. They got to sleep in the next morning and heal a bit.  I asked, “Do you still want to do school this week?” They said “yes.” Then they got to learn about George Washington in a gentle, lovely way.

Guess what? General George helped them along in their grief.

Son: “Mom, I know we need a new dog to be head of ranch security on the farm. But, well, I’m RELUCTANT to get another dog. I love Frankie so much and I am so sad he is gone.”
Me: “I know, sweetheart. I loved him too. Its hard to think about having another dog come into our family right now.”
Son: “George Washington was RELUCTANT to become President. He was! He wanted to just be a farmer and have everything go back to the way it was before the war and all the fighting and sadness.”
Me: “That is true.”
Son: “I feel that way. I want everything to go back the way it was before sadness. But it can’t and so now we have to be brave like George Washington when he stepped up to be President. We need to find a new pup and train it up.”

We said goodbye to Frankie. We said hello to our new sweet little gal, Trusty Banjo. We were brave. We finished Unit 11.


We are now chugging through Unit 12, learning all about the New Nation, while we try to grapple with our new Farmhouse/Schoolhouse life and the strange precarious balance between sadness and joy.

There is no rush to get through it all.


MFW Adventures: George Washington + Bribery

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

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

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


I am so grateful for that decision!


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

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

(disclaimer) My eldest son is OBSESSED with GW. For his 7th birthday, our entire family dressed up like different Revolutionary war heroes and we spent the morning reenacting different battle scenes. He wanted a GW tshirt and a documentary for his birthday.  I knew we needed to spend a few weeks on ol’ George so the booklist is hefty!

1) Land Survey
Mother Earth News provides a very detailed explanation on how to survey your own land. I was not really up for going all out on this one. I just wanted to give the kids a basic idea of what a teenaged George Washington did to earn his bread and butter.  Our homestead is 2.5 acres, flat as a pancake. We made the chaining pins and used a piece of yarn to get our level measurements. It was 92 degrees and we received approx 18 mosquito bites between 5 people in the span of twenty minutes.  The boys were thrilled!

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

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

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

Book List for George Washington Unit

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

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

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

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

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