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!

Pin it! Maps—Hands on Geography for Everyone!

When we first started homeschooling, teaching geography was quite the achilles heel for me.

Like all new challenges, I started slow. We began by building our vocabulary of maps and legends. We would pull a laminated map out each morning, the minute we sat down at the table, and the boys would begin tracing states, continents, etc.


Soon we progressed to drawing maps with tracing paper, eventually adding in some blob mapping by the end of the year. I would ask the boys questions as they worked, “Show me Augusta, Maine?” or “Tell me what this body of water is?” It worked well for us but it was hard to gauge our progress at times.

Then during a playdate, a friend pulled out a gorgeous (and frightfully expensive) Montessori map. It came with pins for the different national flags so the children could mark the countries they knew. My boys loved playing with this map. I thought it was lovely…just not $150 lovely.

You can imagine my excitement when we discovered Pin it! Maps, which was founded by a wonderful, Montessori-loving Mama who decided to make affordable pin maps.

And she did not stop with national flag pins! She included labels for land and water forms, country capitals, islands, lines, etc. These maps are extensive and a tremendous bang for the buck!

Our World Map set included:
(1) large pin map (18 x 24)
(2) control maps (12 x 18): continents & oceans, land & water forms.
69 color coded flag labels
Flag poles and bases
Scotch tape
Our Central America map set had a similar layout but also included national flag pins for each country in Central America & the Caribbean.

Our maps arrived in a sturdy package, no bent corners for us! We purchased the actual pins from our local JoAnn Fabrics. Assembling the completed pins took three half-hour sessions. The perfect scotch tape of corresponding width was included in the package. The assembly process was simple but definitely required some time. First take a pin, place it next to the flag and secure with the appropriate size tape. Fit the pin with a tiny plastic pole and base. Repeat many, many times and then, Voila! Finished! I corralled all the pins into a plastic box with a lid for storage. The labor was worth the final product.


The seven and six year olds were the first to tackle these maps. We set our pin map on its styrofoam backing  and then propped a control map up behind it. The boys took turns reading out the labels and finding the locations on the map. They loved getting to see how much they already knew without referencing the control map. They also enjoyed racing to see who could find the answer on the control map first.

IMG_5310Their curiosity was stirred by the elements we had yet to study. The World Map Set includes a beautiful legend with pictures of various biomes. The legend itself promoted whole new discussions about biomes that stay consistent within their latitude across various continents.

Here are some of the comments made while using their Pin it! Maps:

~”Hmm, I’ve traced that area lots of times and I had no idea there was a volcano there!”
~”I never knew the Tropic of Cancer ran through there!
~”Sometimes on a regular map, all the words get mish-mashed. Look here! I can tell what all the words are now and it doesn’t get mixed up in my brains.”
~”Look at all the deserts in Africa. This country is almost all desert. I didn’t know that.”
~”Look at all these flags, Mom! Can you believe that is how much I know? And look how much I have left to go!”

All around, a fantastic tactile experience for the boys that provided a great visual progress report.

The four year old was up next. We used the control map of the continents as a play mat. He placed different animals on the 7 continents. We sang through our songs about oceans and continents. I had not planned on busting out the pins for him until he asked to use them. I pulled out pins for the seven continents and read each one aloud before surrendering the pin for placement. He did a wonderful job and best of all, he had a great time placing the flags and repeating everything back to me.  After a few sessions with this routine, I will add in water and landform pins, building his repertoire as time marches on.  Younger children will require careful explanation of these materials and the care they require. I plan to build the care and maintenance of this set into our habit training lessons.

I am impressed with these maps, affordability did not mean compromising on quality. I love the clearly marked legends and lines. Sturdy bases and poles, unique pin points to help with identification, lovely colors, and thoughtful details throughout each set. It really felt less mass-produced and more thoughtfully crafted. These are maps my children can grow up with. I deeply appreciate investing in resources that are not one-season wonders.  These maps are a lifelong tool.
We will be using various map sets for our personal home study as follows:

Classical Conversations Cycle 1: Africa Map set, Asia Map set, Central America Set
Classical Conversations Cycle 2: Europe Map Set, South America Map Set
Classical Conversations Cycle 3: North American Map Set
MFW 1st: Asia Map Set
MFW Adventures: North America Map Set
MFW Exploring Countries & Cultures: World Map Set (No national flag pins in this set! National flags are in the continent specific sets!) and the Landforms Map Set.

(note: Pin it! Maps does sell map bundles with all continents included!)

If you like what you see, Pin it! Maps has graciously extended a promo code for all our Farmhouse/Schoolhouse readers.

10% off with the code: farm

This offer expires 10/31/2015.

Happy Pinning!

I purchased one map set and received another in exchange for this review. All opinion expressed above are completely my own and were not influenced by any outside sources.