MFW Kindergarten: Apple


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.

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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


On to Nn-Nest!!

MFW Kindergarten: Leaf


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….


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.”


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.


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.


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


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.


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.”


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.


MFW Kindergarten: Moon!


Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’ll get there very soon

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.

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.

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.


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!


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

MFW Kindergarten: Sun


He was so excited to start the “Ss-Sun” unit. He practically bounced into the classroom and was so eager to learn, he could not sit still! I think it was the perfect image to sear into my heart as a reminder that this year is all about cultivating a deeper love of learning. We had a quick meeting about the week. I let him know what we would be learning about and what activities were coming up and then told him to please let me know if he wanted to know more or explore any other topics related to the sun. “This is an adventure and we get to be explorers together!” We started off by spending lots of time OUTSIDE, soaking up some Vitamin D and enjoying the warmth. He built a beautiful teepee with his brothers and a few friends.


And they spent nearly an hour whipping up a “salad” out of all the treasures they had foraged.

His first exploration question was a funny one. “Why do Cowboys ride off into the sunset in stories?” This required a bit of research, so after completing his handwriting sheet, he went outside with his brother and rode on his horse swing while his big brother read a “Billy and Blaze” story aloud. These are the two siblings that quarrel the most often, so even if no “scientific” questions were explored, they shared a sweet moment together and I have photographic evidence. Total win.

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Target sells cheap little lacing toys in their dollar section. We bought one, and I will confess, I bought the cards for the box they came in. Perfect tracing tool set! A compartment to hold a letter card and a bigger section to fill with a handful of play sand.  He had a lot of fun tracing out the letter “S” and showing it off to his big brothers. I also let him try and trace the letters he knew while working on our “A-a-Apple” song.


We brought out the light tablet and built letters and made suns out of translucent geo shapes. His little brother joined in on the fun.


I surprised him with a “sunset” bath. Filling the tub with water, I dropped in two color tablets to make orange water. Then I gave him a muffin tin filled with shaving cream I had colored beforehand. He had various sunset colors in the palette and he loved getting to paint a sunset on the wall.


Whenever his brothers were working on their independent art projects or handicrafts, our favorite kindergartner would make a run for the crayon stash and draw this same picture over and over and over again. A sun with the word “JESUS” scrawled in the middle. He was proud of each and every one. Aside from his own name, this is the first word he has learned to write and spell correctly on his own.

We purchased some kite paper and made these lovely Waldorf stars to catch the morning light. Folding this lovely paper is a bit addicting!


When Day 4 rolled around he was ready with a few new questions, specifically the role the sun plays in the process of photosynthesis. We watched the photosynthesis episode of “Magic School Bus” which led to questions about plant cells. We pulled out our Brock Magiscope and checked out a cross section of a pine needle. Our property is packed with pine trees and we loved getting a closer look at one tiny cell and then walking outside and marveling at our lovely giants. His closing observation, “God’s creation is amazing and he cares about every single little thing. Even me!”  No handouts, no complicated worksheets, just great conversation and a taste of good things to come.


On our walk we also looked at a compass and I explained how it worked. I taught him to orient himself with N,S,E and W on our property so that he can begin to relate his stories with directions when relating his nature adventures. We are striving to closely model Charlotte Mason methods in a few specific areas and nature study/play is one of them!

We loved the book basket recommendations given by MFW on our first time through the curriculum. We are sticking with it this time too! And its safe to say, that he loved each and every one. We have also added long term reads to his Morning Meeting time, with a majority of the selections based off of ambleside online‘s list. We are starting to read through “Now We are Six” by AA Milne along with the entire collection of Beatrix Potter’s works. I am hoping to get through them all this year during our Morning Meeting!


We decided to do a different variation on the sun dial. We picked our favorite young tree in the yard and tied pieces of yarn to its trunk and stretched out the yarn in the direction of its shadow every two hours. It made such a pretty, colorful wheel on the grass.

We started our grapes on the dashboard of our car and after the toddler ate them (twice) while I was loading the car for various events, I gave up on them. We made fun prints with black construction paper and tiny dinosaur toys. We ate a yummy sun snack—a clementine with pretzel rods rays and we made three batches of Sun Tea.

Our Sun badge is finished and tacked to the wall of the schoolroom. I know a few people have made beautiful quilts with patches made throughout their K year, but I think that lovely quilt would be the death of me. We have opted for a white Tshirt from Michaels and a set of Tshirt markers. He gets to draw something for each week and on the 6th day of study, he wears the shirt. Good times. Simple times.


MFW Kindergarten: Creation

And we’re off!


Our main piece of “work” this unit was the Creation book and Creation numbers found in the student sheets. We combined both using a blank book from the Target dollar section. Numbers went on one page and the artist’s rendering went on the other. It got the job done and he is pretty proud to have his own Creation storybook to show off to cornered visitors and unwilling brothers.

Our favorite creation books are:
The 7 Days of Creation by Mindy MacDonald ( A board book that is perfect if your K student has younger siblings always wanting to join in!)
The Creation Story for Children by Helen and David Haidle (pictured above. We love this book. It walks you through creation using scripture and then includes great facts about several unique animals before ushering in a special section directed at your child with tons of scripture verses about their relationship with God and creation)
The Story of Creation: God Made it for You! by Charles Lehman (a storybook version of creation)

This year, I decided to do “Creation Stations” for each day of creation.

Day 1: Dark and Light. We took a flashlight and a candle into the darkest room in our house. We talked about the ordering of light and dark and read our favorite bible verses about Jesus as the Light of the world. We also took time to play shadow puppets because its an awesome thing to do in a dark room with a flashlight. No educational correlation or deep meaning, just FUN.

Day 2: Water and Air. We dragged out the kiddie pools for some water play and brought along a few straws to blow things across the water. We filled various containers with water and sealed them and talked about the air trapped in the parts that looked empty. We opened up the hose and let the water flow downhill and placed different objects in its path to divert the flow of the stream. This led to more conversations about gravity and water flow and water quality. We looked through the book “A Drop of Water” by Walter Wick, mostly because my older children just used this book for a water study and my younger kiddos LOVED the pictures, but also because its an awesome book. We talked about the complexities of water and the different states it can be found in. Note: when I say *we talked* I mean that we just glazed over the topic. At this point I am just exposing them to different ideas and answering questions if they have any. No long lectures! Sometimes my older kiddos jump in the conversation and it grows a bit more complex, but for now, simple and straightforward is best.

Also, we didn’t have any on hand this time around but blowing bubbles, flying a kite or playing with pinwheels would be fun to do as well!

Day 3: Dry Land and Plants. This was a fun day! Climb a tree, plant some flowers, roll down a hill, etc. We harvested some kale and read one of our favorite garden books, “Planting a Rainbow” by Louis Elhert.


We went on a nature walk in our backyard. I put some masking tape on the boys wrists (sticky side out) and they stuck small leaves and flowers and feathers and sticks to the tape. Then when we went inside everyone got to share what they had found.  We made a few mandalas out of flowers and leaves that we had found.  They were such fun to make and a pleasure to look at.


Day 4: Sun, Moon and Stars.  We had to watch our favorite episode of Magic School Bus about the solar system. I’m a big fan of the Frizz. We looked through some of the older boy’s favorite books about constellations. Our go to is “A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky” by Michael Driscoll.


We also played with constellation lacing cards and these free Montessori cards . I cut out a few squares of black construction paper and handed over a pack of silver star stickers and the boy went to town making constellations.


We had all these things on hand after the older boys studied Astronomy in their MFW Adventures year. I’m not sure I’d go through all the trouble just for MFWK, but since we had it, out it came! A pack of glow in the dark star stickers for a kid’s bedroom would be just as fun and much less work.

Day 5: Creatures in the Sea and Air. Obviously, that day called for an extended bath time with safari toobs of animal creatures. We dropped in a few blue color bath tablets for ocean effect and kiddo strapped on his goggles and went in for a little sea exploration. I read “The Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister while my  other son proceeded to dump 1/4 of the tub’s water content onto the bathroom floor. Incidentally, I managed to do a thorough mop of the children’s bathroom that day.

We spent a bit of time looking at our nature collection of sea life. Again, this is something I had on hand thanks to older children.


Then it was time for kiddo to don his halloween costume and learn about creatures of the air.


We read through all of our birds books and ran around the house screeching and pretending to upchuck owl pellets. You know, the usual stuff.

Day 6: Land Creatures & Man. This was a great day to march out all the plastic animals from our collection and let him have at it! I had planned to make animal print cookies but we ran out of time. Want the recipe? Its pretty complicated, but I’ll share it with you. Ready? A package of tear and bake sugar cookies (the kind with gluten and preservatives works best) and plastic toy animals. Tear the cookies apart, place them on a baking sheet and start baking. When they are *just about done, pull them out and press the animals feet into the dough to make the prints before the dough cools. Crazy complicated, I know. Hand junior a magnifying glass for added pizzazz and ask him to guess which animals left which footprints.  You can also skip the cookie doh and do this with play doh. We also had fun playing animal charades and guessing which animal each person was pretending to be.

Later in the day, I cleared all the siblings from the kitchen and called my favorite kindergartner in. I lit a nice smelling candle, played his favorite piece of classical music and set out a tasty snack just for him. We looked at his favorite piece of art (Starry Night) while we cuddled on our favorite soft blanket. We talked about the five senses and the special, unique way God made us with so many different ways to engage his creation and appreciate beauty.  We discussed how we are made in God’s image and the importance of our bodies as temples. I told him all the unique things I see in him that I appreciate and how God is already using him in this world.  It was a sweet time.

Day 7: Rest. Yeah, I made everyone take a nap. We are still under the weather and I sure needed one!


And that wraps up our Creation Unit! My goal for the week was to get this kiddo excited to learn about God’s World. My first year, I handed my two kiddos a Kindergarten readiness test to see where they stood. Ever wish you could travel back in time and kick yourself in the pants? Sigh. This year, I set out to instill a love of learning in my child. We had a great week. We talked about so many different topics, we made memories, we sang songs and played games and at the end of the week he proclaimed “Kinder’s Garden is my most favorite garden in the whole wold.”

Looking forward to starting Ss-Sun tomorrow!

MFW Kindergarten: Looking Back & Getting Ready


We started our first day of Kindergarten this morning. Its our second time with MFWK and I can’t help but smile as I think of the sweet year ahead and remember the sweet year long since passed.

I spent months preparing for my first year with MFWK. I was still in traditional school mode and I basically made an exact replica of my old classroom here at home. I had file folders bursting with notes and crafts and handouts. It took many months of hard headed trial and tribulation before I realized that old dog just would not hunt anymore.

I remember feeling two very distinct emotions as I began that first week. The first was the predictable, “how are my babies old enough to be in kindergarten?” The second, “how do I make sure they learn everything they need and also prove to everyone around me that this was a good idea?”  I felt like I was under a microscope lens. As if everything my kids did in public and their answers to every question hurled at them by relatives, would be the rubric by which to evaluate our school’s success or failure.

God was gracious in destroying my pride that year. Throw in a midyear move to our current farmhouse (which included a month long indoor renovation) and two younger siblings aged 1 and 3, and you’ll understand why all those misplaced scholastic ideals were quickly (and mercifully) obliterated. I was a woman undone. That was the year that I learned not to see my younger children as distractions but as my reality, worthy of careful and thoughtful treatment as I navigated our days. I cried a lot. It was a great year.


The first big change came with how I viewed our school area and materials. We have a designated classroom now. Its lovely and I am so very thankful for it. But when we started out, we gathered around the dining room table and I kept all our supplies on the bookcase behind it. I loved it. There are times when I miss it!


I had a small quote written out on my planner that year.

“A mother’s heart is the child’s classroom.” Henry Ward Beecher

It reminded me every day to take care of my own heart. This was far more important than the state of our actual physical classroom. Did I spend more time researching curriculum or surfing pinterest for activities that correspond with “Jj-jewels” that day than I did with JESUS?

The classroom that matters to your little one is the classroom in your heart. Fill it with God’s word. Cultivate things that are true and good and beautiful in your own heart so that you can share it with your child. This is far more important than having the “latest, greatest” in your home. There is no piece of curriculum that will hold more influence over your child than the words from your mouth which flow out of your heart.


I am blessed to have very patient children. They put up with a lot that year.

While I quickly learned that traditional school would not fit within the walls of our home, it took a long time to figure out just what kind of school we were. Take heart, you don’t have to have it all figured out before you start. Take time to uncover this treasure and make thoughtful decisions about what you bring into your home to meet your children!


By the end of MFWK I realized a few things:

What we are learning matters far less than who we are becoming. This helped me meet my children right where they were and helped me refrain from dragging them to where I thought they should be.

I fell in love with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education and did everything I could to embrace that style of learning. MFWK was the perfect starting point for us.

I spent a lot of time making sure our home was their home too. I made sure our home was a safe and loving place to learn about truth, goodness and beauty. I gave them more responsibility. I lowered the expectation down from ” perfect child robot” and taught the boys to not hide their sin away from their Mama and Daddy. To tell the devil they wouldn’t be keeping sin a secret, to parade it out in front of us so we could help them confess and move closer towards holiness and healing. We emphasized the redemption and joy to be had from making the most of our mistakes.

Reading brought us together. We read a lot of books. I mean A LOT of books.  There were stacks all over the house and some week we went to the library every other day for various story times and to get new books.

The great outdoors are not to be missed! We spent a great deal of time out of doors. Long walks at the park or simply playing in the mud outside for hours. We took advantage of all the free activities and learning opportunities our community had to offer.

Free time matters. We didn’t schedule the kids to death. They had tons and tons and TONS of free time. This gave them the opportunity to build, play, create, savor and discover.


There are zillions of extra materials and crafts and songs and stories out there that can be added to MFWK to “beef up” the experience. The truth is, keeping it straight out of the manual is more than enough for your kids to have a beautiful year. This year I will be following the manual as closely as possible. We may add a few things we have done before that proved to be great fun, but if I add anything it will be activities or experiences. I won’t be adding extra busywork or handouts just for the sake of adding a check mark to a list that only exists to make me feel better. No two homeschool walks are the same and you may eventually come to a place were handouts and tons of busywork make sense for your family, but I do everything I can to encourage those with littles to keep it as simple as they can in those early years when hands on activity and PLAY are so very valuable to little ones.



So here is the plan for MFWK this year:

1. Spend time with God prepping the classroom in my heart so that I will have plenty of truth, goodness and beauty to impart to my children.
2.  I have organized our year into 27 manilla folders. This is a very, very high tech system so try to keep up as I explain. You put student sheets inside the folders and you write ideas, supply lists, book basket picks, etc. on the outside of the folder. Stick it all in a basket and then pull it out as you need them. Mind blowing, right? Hasn’t failed me yet!
3. Keep up with our regularly scheduled nature walk.
4. Keep up with our morning basket! One piece of art work or music, a few poems and a book so we can start out day appreciating something lovely. Wonderful suggestion for books can be found over on
5. Let my littles be little! There will be plenty of time for writing and advanced math and homework in later years. The clock is ticking and they deserve to enjoy every second of early childhood without all these hideous expectations from a standardized scopes and sequence world or the demands of an anti-homeschool relative.
6. Eat dinner together as a family every night.
7. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. We work hard on Saturdays and we rest hard on Sundays. We cuddle up and read books and we spend time together.  French toast matters to these little hearts. Our attention as they talk and talk and talk, matters too. Having a day set aside for God and family helps us make these vital life connections, breathe life into our tired souls and help propel us forward into the next week.
8. Set up a special time for K schoolwork while the 2nd/3rd graders do their independent work. Even though its the second time through, #3 deserves a special year too! We’ll be adding a decoration to a shirt each week along with coloring in our badges because little man loves to wear fun shirts!
9. Expect fun, not perfection.
10. Take lots and lots of pictures. I just realized that I only have a handful of pictures from our first time through MFWK. I was too uptight back then!  Sad. I am resolved to take more PICTURES!



And that is the plan. Lets see how MFWK goes this year now that I have learned to relax and my philosophy of education has become more focused.  I am embracing this year with #3 as a sweet time of fellowship of fun. Blessings to you on your MFWK journey, friend. I hope it draws you and your children closer to God and to each other.