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Pros & Cons Rome to Reformation, My Father's World


We have been using My Father's World for six years, and just finishing Rome to Reformation. The beauty of this curriculum is the core teaching is done together, with additional activities are suggested for older students. You teach ONE science, history, and bible to everyone, and then split for only individual subjects of Math and English. Since the curriculum is designed for a multi-age classroom, some resources hit may resonate more with younger  kids, some middle elementary, and some for older. Don't get discouraged if a resources seems over their heads sometimes, they will retain more then you expect. 

The manual will become easier to navigate as you establish the rhythm  for your Together Time.  It took a week or so of actually teaching from the manual to be comfortable with the flow, and to learn how to leave items out that weren't meant for us.  Throughout the year, you will also need to assess if a book suggested works for ALL your kids. It is OK if your youngers don't retain all the details from every book, they are still learning at their own level. For those of you like to check all the boxes, you need be OK with sometimes not doing something listed because it is too old or too young for your kids.

Below are descriptions of why a book did , or did not, work for our kids.  Your kids are different, so your cons may be our pros!  Please leave a comment on what works for you!

Teacher's Manual
Pros
  • Schedule-This year more than any other year so far, the teacher's manual proves itself essential to this curriculum.  One criticism I have heard of My Father's World was that it bounces around a lot.  This criticism has a base in truth, because it DOES bounce around a lot, but there is method to the madness. If you try to read all the books this year from cover to cover, you will miss a lot, and also get bogged down with too many countries and facts. The way the manuals lays out the scheduled readings makes your history study much easier to understand, and retain, because you study one civilization at a time, from start to finish.  For example,  in week 8 you skip several chapters in Augustus Cesar's World about ancient China, but come back to them for an entire 2 week study of ancient china in week 22. That same week you are scheduled to learn "terra" means land in "English From the Roots Up", while learning about the terra cotta warriors that guard an ancient Chinese emperor's tomb.  that same week, you study that mercury is a "terrestrial" planet (another derivative of terra), meaning it has land and is not a gaseous planet.
The manual cleverly aligns our study of the moon in science, with the Latin root word for moon. 
  • Pace-  Some countries and time periods you seem to fly over.  At first this was jarring, but once I realized  it was age appropriate just to introduce my children to the overall history concept, I felt better knowing everything will be covered in deeper detail in high school. 
  • Activities- Like usual, there are several easy to implement activities in each unit.  We missed some, like the roman feast, but did enjoy dressing up as roman solders and making our own helmets.  I was glad many were so easy to implement this year, like we drank hot chocolate the day we learned about the Mayans. 
Mixed Feelings
  • Student Sheets-  While I am thankful for the student sheets, I was kind of disappointed again this year.  The sheets are necessary so that you can use the timeline pieces, notebook pages and maps, but there at 15 to 20 notebooks pages not included, that the manual would say we had to make ourselves.  I am awful at this, and tend to just not to it if it isn't included.  If you are like me, I would recommend looking ahead in your manual & making those extra pages before the school year begins
  • Make Roman Costumes, an activity listed in teacher's manual
History
Pros
  • Augustus' Caesar's World  ACW is a living book, full of accounts of the life of Augustus Caesar, the Caesar that was alive during Jesus' lifetime. I have heard good and bad reviews about this book. My kids really loved to be read to, so they LOVED this book.  As the teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed how it made this crazy time period come to life. It felt like reading a novel, yet it actually all happened! That said, these are longer readings, and I don't know how younger children will do with them (my children are in 5th grade). There are tips in your manual on how to make the long chapters more enjoyable for younger kids. Please read the notes in your manual when reading this book, and do not just hand it to your child to read. The most important notes in the manual are what to skip, and when you may need to prepare for a talk with your kids. This is not exactly a Christian book. For example, as you read about the Jewish faith, it gives fascinating context to King Herod, but does not always accurately describe Judaism. The manual warns you before you read these chapters,  to better prepare you on how you want to share the info with your kids.  We found these times as great opportunities for a discussion of our faith. 
  • Roman Empire This is an easy to read book, full of bright illustrations and visuals.  We all enjoyed it, but your younger students will really get a lot out of the many photographs and models. 
  • Medieval World This is another book where your teacher's manual will be essential.  You skip around a lot, see why in the 'Teacher's manual' schedule section above.  The illustrations are well done and information easy to read, great for elementary ages children.
  • Story of The World.  This is a winner for all of us.  The book reads as a novel, but the chapters are not too long and keep the children (and mom) engaged. 
Mixed Feelings
  • Streams of Civilizations  We have the first edition of Streams, and as my children have gotten older, we have enjoyed it more. We love history, so all the details in this book have really enhanced our study, but it does usually read like a textbook. If you have really young children, you can read before hand, and then sum up what you read. 
Read-Alouds
Disclaimer: We don't do Read-Alouds during our morning school time.  My husband does he read-alouds for a bedtime story every evening. 

Pros
  • Dangerous Journeys- My kids & LOVED this book, they read it twice.
  • The Bronze Bow
  • The Door in The Wall
  • Twice Freed
N/A
  • Trial and Triumph-  This is probably a GREAT book, and so important to the church's history, but HONEST MOM MOMENT, we just never seemed to get to it!  Real Honesty, I couldn't even FIND it the first 3/4 of the year, and finally found it once we got out of medieval times!  We'll have a few times to read it finally when we get to reformation. 
Science
Pros
  • First Encyclopedia for The Human Body- Usborne never disappoints. Bright colorful illustrations, great for all ages. 
  • The Body Book: Easy to Make Models That Teach   This was a huge favorite in our house, but prepared to make A LOT of copies! You can make most of the copies on regular paper, but I recommend making the skeleton on card stock if possible, because you will be adding pieces it all through the study. Younger kids may have issues if they are not great at cutting, but it provides a lot of practice for fine motor skills & spatial awareness.  It helped us to make ALL the copies BEFORE the school year began.
A model of the layers of skin, from The Body Book
By the time you finish The Body Book, you will have a full body model like this one!
  • Galen and The Gateway to Medicine  A good living book that we all enjoyed.  It added historical context, while also adding to our science study of anatomy & medicine. 
  • The Wonderful Way Babies are Made I can not recommend this book more. It was a gentle approach to a difficult subject. I would not recommend just giving it to your child, but really take the time to read it one on one with each child.  My favorite parts that it doesn't end with an awkward note of reproduction, but on the redeeming note of Adoption.  It really was a wonderful essential resource. 
  • Exploring Creation with Astronomy  This books looks like a textbook, but reads more like a informational picture book.  The activities and notebook activities at the end of each chapter are fun and easy to implement. 
Our Scale Solar System , an activity from Exploring Creation with Astronomy 
A sample Notebook activity, they had to make an advertisement for Earth, listing all the great qualities that make it a perfect place to live! 
Mixed Feelings
  • The Human Body for Every Kid This book took us a few tries to appreciate.  The beginning chapters on cells were so over all of our heads, that we just read the other anatomy books & did the models for the first few weeks.  Once we got into the other parts of our body, we came back and tried it again.  We enjoyed it on the second try.  Sometimes the words are very clinical, but it was a good challenge.  We only did the activity at the end of each chapter about half the time.

Bible
Pros
  • How the Bible Came to Us-  Easy to read book, with a lot of illustrations & fascinating facts.
N/A
  • Teacher's manual Memory Verses-  These are not actually a con, we just don't do them because my children are involved in Awana, which is a Bible memorization club. 

Art/Music

N/A
  • Music Appreciation CDs  We did not have these because we just do the basic kit, so I can't review them.
  • God and History of Art- We did not have this book because we just do the basic kit, so I can't review it.
Additions
  • Draw and Write Through History- We love these books because they tie in perfectly to the history study and are done pretty independently.  My children's drawing skills have really improved. We also love that they work perfectly with our workboxes. 
                                                 
A knight out of Draw and Write Through History, The Vikings, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance
Hands-On Activities

  • Make A Castle-  This was a fun little activity.  We ordered the castle that MFW recommends, and it was very easy to put together. My only criticism is that it is big, and we used it only one day.  I think it is a worthwhile activity, but it does take up a lot of space in my very tiny homeschool room, because of course my kids will never want me to throw it away.  

  • Starting Chess.  Since I do not know how to play chess, I needed something that they could open up and IT teaches my kids.  Starting Chess is OK, but we found a much easier to implement a NO STRESS CHESS Game for beginners. Within one day, my boys were playing without the cards, and using the traditional chess board side of the game.

Language Arts
Thankfully you can easily choose your own Language Arts programs, but MFW does recommend some options.  

Pros
  • English from the Roots Up- This was again one of our favorite studies, adding so much to our understanding of the English language. Etymology needs context, and the MFW manual provides this much needed context. For example, you study the wood " sol" for sun is when you begin you astronomy study.  You learn the word "lune" for moon when you study the moon, and the same day read about a medical battle that involved an eclipse. The world "magnus" for great is scheduled the day you read about Charles the Great/ Charlemagne. I used an easy printable from MFW Rome to Reformation Group, that went into our Workboxes. 
  • Language lessons for Today, Grade 5-  We again enjoyed LLFT, because it is a gentle Charlotte Mason approach to language arts.  Some years past have felt almost too light, but I think the 4th and 5th grade are beginning to pick up, at an age appropriate level. 
Mixed Feelings
  • Writing Strand- Level 4.  We had some mixed feelings about this book, but overall I would recommend.  At first the instructions were confusing to all of us, but once we learned the flow of the book, we got the hang of it.  We personally never did "Record of Progress" page at the end of each exercise.  My kids can sometimes be reluctant writers, so I wanted this to be a fun time of exploring the beginnings of writing. I do recommend following the manual's advice and doing every other week.
Cons
  • Spelling-  We have just never liked Spelling Power, it is very teacher driven and we wanted a more independent spelling curriculum that didn't require so much teacher presence.   We use Spelling By Sound and Structure for Christian Schools Grade 5.  This curriculum also works very well with our workbox system. 
Math

Thankfully you can easily choose your own Math programs, but MFW does recommend Singapore math.  





Practical Tips For Ordering Glasses Online, Zenni Optical


I have been using Zenni Optical to order my glasses for the past decade. My husband's company does offer eye insurance, but I have done the math, and it is MUCH cheaper for me to pay cash for my exams every two years and then order glasses online.

My son just recently started wearing glasses, and it is still cheaper for us to not use his glasses insurance.  Even if you have insurance, most plans only cover one pair of glasses.  Having a spare pair for these low prices is just smart. My son's glasses (with frames, lenses, and shipping) were only $32!! My last pair of glasses, WITH LENSES, was only $50 with shipping.  I helped a friend order no line progressive bi-focals, and they were only $75 total.

I am pretty blind, so when my glasses broke while I was at a fair 30 minutes from my house, I had to race the sun home because the only extra glasses I had in the car were Rx Sunglasses! Because of Zenni's low prices, I now have a back up pair in each of my vehicles.

Their prices have gone up ever so slightly in the past decade, but so has their selection and technology.

1.  Get your Glasses Prescription from your Doctor, INCLUDING Pupillary Distance (PD).
Remember you PAID them for your eye exam, which includes your prescription.  If you get snide comments or looks, just ignore. You have ZERO obligation to order glasses from them if you, or your insurance, paid them for your exam.

Your Pupillary distance is on your prescription.  If your doctor forgets to write it down, call and ask because they have to have it on file. Zenni says you can measure your own PD, but  I highly urge you to have this done by a professional, because a millimeter off can change your glasses a lot.  It will be on your eye glass prescription, and never changes.

If you don't have access to your doctor, and don't want to get another exam, you can even walk into any Walmart Optical or Sam's Optical (I did Sam's), and ask them to measure your PD, they have a quick tool to do so and it is very accurate.


2. Try on Glasses in Real Life to Gather Data
  The only downfall to Zenni is you can't physically try on the glasses.  The  TRY ON technology has advanced a lot in past few years, but it still doesn't completely substitute  for being able  to put on a pair of glasses, especially if you are newbie to eye-wear. I highly recommend you measure a pair of your existing glasses, or a pair that fits you in the store.  You also need to see in real life what each frame shape looks like on your face. Take a lot of pictures of the frames you like.

I have only had ONE Zenni fail, my very first order, and it was because I didn't look at the measurements of the frames as much as the  TRY ON option.  I ordered frames that were way too wide for my face.  These are now emergency glasses, and I don't mind the fail because I only paid $15 for them.

My son is an almost 11 year old boy who was too big for child's and too small for many of the men's frames.  He tried several shapes and sizes in the store.  Take a lot of pictures!!!!!! We found the shape we like on him, and took pictures for reference later. He also tried on MY glasses, and the fit was perfect.  We used these as our baseline for ordering his first frames.  When those arrived, we made sure they fit well, and then ordered a second pair using the same method & measurements.
3. Search
 Using the measurements, pictures from trying classes, in the store, and your PD, start searching for your glasses on www.zennioptical.com.   Be sure to make good use of the search filters, or you will be overwhelmed by the vast amount of options.  The filter will save you time by eliminating frames that won't work with your PD or prescription. For instance, when ordering bifocals, you have to have a certain lens height.  Make sure you check filters in your search, so you don't fall in love with pair that doesn't fit your Rx.

You can search for shape of glasses & materials.  This is where the trying on and taking photos in the store will REALLY help, you can narrow your search pretty easily if you already eliminated certain frames.  For example, I don't like any metal glasses, and I don't look good in cat eyes shape.

Again, remember to look at the measurements of your glasses as you search! Use the measurements as your filter for the search.


4. Selfie TRY ON option
This is where Zenni's new technology makes the process really fun.  Using your PD and the front facing option on your phone, take a straight on selfie.  Zenni will show you how to upload and try on your favorite frames.

5. Don't Waste Money with Extra Options
Zenni is just like every salesperson you've ever met, and will try to get you to pay more by adding the expensive add-ons.

Prescription:
Put your RX in very carefully, checking 2 to 3 times that you have everything exactly as the doctor wrote it.  If you can't read something, call your doctor.

Lens Index
The Lens Index is just the type of material your lenses are made out of.  They WILL RECOMMEND a more expensive lens, always. I have a VERY high Rx, and I am still perfectly fine ordering the FREE 1.57 Mid Index Polymer lens, they are VERY light weight and comfortable. I also drop them ALL THE TIME, and have stepped on them, and they haven't broken. Zenni doesn't even sell real glass lenses anymore, so all the option are lightweight & durable.
My sons has very low Rx, and they still recommended an upgrade from the free lens, so they are just trying to make money.  If your child plays rough sports, maybe consider the high impact lens for an extra $9.00.

Lens Tint
This is how you make Rx Sunglasses for only an extra $5.00!! Tint to 80% to make sunglasses! You can make your sunglasses Amber, Gray, or Mirrored.

Polarized Sunglasses
I have heard great things about polarized sunglasses for your overall eye health.  That said, I lose my sunglasses ALL THE TIME, so I don't spend a lot of money on them.  I just add 80% tint (above section) for  only $5.00

Photochromic
These are transitions lenses that go from light to dark in sunlight.   All of their options are pretty much the same, but you can pay twice as much for the transitions BRAND transition lenses.

Anti-Reflective coating
Spend the extra $5 and get this!  It is worth it if you ever look at any screen ever.

5.  After Arrival, take into Optical Store for adjustments
Every new pair of glasses I have ever ordered look crooked when I try them on, because I have one ear slightly higher than the other.  I have never once had a problem walking into ANY optical store and asking for them to be adjusted; I've been Sam's Club, Walmart, Stanton Optical, and America's Eye-Glass for adjustments, and all were kind and adjusted the frames for free.   I have never been asked if I bought the frames there or not.

Now remember not all optical technicians are equal. My son's pair of glasses came in, and they were sitting too far out on his face.  We went into Walmart, and the technician working literally did nothing.  We then went into Stanton Optical, (where he had his exam), and they changed out his nose pads with smaller pads for free.
These is just one pair of my many Zenni glasses!

To make it special, we bought my son a new case, other than the standard one that comes with Zenni.  We also bought him a special dust free glasses stand to place his glasses in every night, to prevent stepping on them in the morning. I liked it so much, I bought one for myself too!

Fun and practical Glasses Stand

I hope this helps on your search!






Easter and Grief



I can confidently say I've never fully grasped the power of Easter until this year.

I honestly still had doubts. In my innermost heart, I wondered if I ever lost someone dear that I might not find comfort in the thought that they were in Heaven.  Did I really believe in paradise that Jesus promised to the thief hanging next to him on the cross?


Sadly, I learned in the most painful way possible what I believe. Like so many lessons in life, I wish I had learned this particular belief without the accompanying experience.  I want patience without waiting.  I want love without vulnerability. I want wisdom without experience. I want appreciation without  loss.

My doubts are gone, and I know what I believe about that paradise. I know with all my heart where our beloved brother, Caleb, is today. He was only 36 , with a fiance and four young children, when we lost him five months ago. He loved with all his heart, including his love for his Savior. But I am still selfish. I want my brother back. I want him to be the one to raise his four kids. I want him to spend a lifetime with the love of his life.

I think it is OK to appreciate where he is, and still weep.  Jesus wept.  Jesus wept when Lazarus was in the grave, even with the full knowledge he could call him back. If Jesus wept over loss, I can too.

 But when I truly acknowledge where he is, I couldn't wish him back to this world of pain.
My brother was an artist when it came to wood and carpentry.  He was always up for learning something new, even starting sometimes before he fully learned it! He rushed into new fun projects with an excitement that was contagious.

How my heart aches with joy that Caleb is spending eternity with Jesus the Carpenter.

 He is waiting for us now, and I have never felt the joy of the Easter deeper than this year. Praise you Lord. Praise you for your defeat of death.  Thank you for this beautiful & painful salvation.


Inside Our Homeschool Workboxes


We love our 5th grade workboxes! Pardon the lower resolution video, but I thought I'd show a little day-in-the-life video of our homeschool workboxes.



Some of the supplements mentioned in the video:

 Art
Draw and Write Through History

 Music
Guitar Lessons for Kids

Free Piano Lessons for Kids


To see inside of the workboxes, with more specific of each subject, see below post! 
5th Grade Workboxes


How to Manage Library Books in Your Homeschool


The library is one of my favorite places in the world.  America's library system is a thing of beauty. We have so much wrong with our country, but our library system is a reason to feel to patriotic.  Free books.  To everyone.  It is truly awe inspiring.

As a homeschooler on a budget, the library saves us thousands of dollars a year, enabling us to us to study any subjects we want, without any added book expenses.

One of our favorite parts of My Father's World curriculum is the book basket!  Load of pretty pretty books, but at the price of a free library membership!

While I love the library, it can also be overwhelming. The giant book lists in our curriculum is a pro in my opinion, but it can also become a con if the sheer amount of books overwhelms you, or worse, you start adding up fines. Don't let this amazing tool become a burden in your family!

Online Library Holds
Almost all libraries now allow you to put books on hold ONLINE before visiting the library.  Our library has a limit of 10 books for a hold. I get around this sometimes by using my son's library cards to reserve books online, so we can get 30 books with 3 library cards.  This can be done on your phone from the convenience of your couch, after your kids go to bed.

I pick up the holds at the front of the library, instead of going all the way to the kid's section.  When we are busy with life, this can really help you get at least some books in that book basket!

 Online Renewals & Text/Email Alerts
I am the queens of library renewals.   Whenever I get an email that a book is coming due, I go online to renew those books.  No matter what. This way I can take back books on my own schedule, and not the library's. Check out your library policy and take advantage of it!  It will save you a small fortune in fines!

Signing up for email alerts & online renewals are the best things I have ever done at my library, it has almost eliminated my fines.

Library Basket 
This is where all library books live in our house.  They sleep here. Library Books DO NOT LEAVE the room of the library basket.  Period.   I wish I could let my kids read all over the house, but the fines are not worth it.  The library basket stays in the living room, where I can see it at all times.
There are a very few times where I allow my kids to take a book out of the living room, MAYBE in the car on a long trip.  But  all books must come back to sleep every night in this basket.


Bi-Weekly Trips
Never just get one week of books at a time, unless you want to live at the library (which honestly doesn't sound that bad to me).   Because of renewals, I have been known to get THREE weeks at a time.

If I haven't gotten around to reserving all the books I need online, I take my whole teacher's manual with me to the library, and stock up with as many books as my rolling cart can carry (below).

As we finish books, I put them in a bag by the door.  Our library as a drive through drop off box, and we drop off the books when we're out and about.  No need for a special trip, and because of renewals, I can do it on my own schedule.

Fines
Make your kids responsible  for the fines if they lose a book.  My boys have paid a lost book fine out of their own money because they lost a book at a park, and it never happened again. They had to split the fine because they couldn't agree on who took it to the park, and who left it there.

If you lose a book, of course you as the mom pays for it.  But I firmly believe as homeschoolers, they need to learn responsibility of keeping track of their school items, especially if they are older than 2nd grade.  A public school child must keep track of their backpack, books, coat, boots, etc.  Our kids need to learn to keep track of  book inside their own home.

Library Cart
With the amount of  books we get, it is easy to hurt your back, shoulder, or any part of you that is over 30 years old!  I have a lovely rolling cart that lives in the back of my back of my van!  I LOVE IT!  Every library as an elevator, and this cart gives me an excuse to use it! I keep a few small bags in the cart, so that I can carry the books into my house, but this saves my back from injury.


Rolling Library Cart saves my back!

I hope this helps someone who is feeling overwhelmed with library books!  Remember the library is your friend!




Pros & Cons MFW Exploring Countries & Cultures



Exploring Countries and Cultures (ECC) was our first year in the family cycle of My Father's World. It was by far one of our favorites!  I also think it is essential to begin with this study; the geographical and cultural context you gain will be essential to any historical study that follows.

The beauty of this curriculum is the core teaching is done together, with additional activities are suggested for older students.  While the Daily lesson plans are in an easy-to-use weekly chart format, it took a few weeks to get the hang of the family cycle.   Since the curriculum designed for a multi age classroom, some resources hit younger  kids, some middle elementary, and some for older. Don't get discouraged if a resources seems over your kids heads. You'll see below we had some books that we didn't use now for my 3rd graders, but will use when we repeat the cycle in 8th grade.

 Don't get overwhelmed if you are beginning, the manual will become easier to navigate as you establish the rhythm  for your Together Time.  It took a week or so of actually teaching from the manual to be comfortable with the flow, and to learn how to leave items out that weren't meant for us.  Throughout the year, you will also need to assess if a book suggested works for ALL your kids. It is OK if your youngers don't retain all the details from every book, they are still learning at their own level. For those of you like to check all the boxes,you need be OK with sometimes not doing something listed because it is too old or too young for your kids.

Below are descriptions of why a book did , or did not, work for our kids.  Your kids are different, so your cons may be our pros!  Please leave a comment on what works for you!

Bible
PROS
  • Hero Tales- We really enjoyed this kid friendly book of true stories of godly men and women and the character traits they portrayed as they served as missionaries. The manual lays out the schedule well, so you learn about a missionary from the continent you are studying. We printed copy work from Mama Jenn that helped cement then stories and lessons, and counted as handwriting practice.
  • Window on the World- This was an informative book, that was also a family friendly introduction to the religions around the world. I like that it gave us specific prayers for each country, to teach us how to pray for different cultures. It also gives you context on a bigger variety of countries that the student sheets.
  • God Speaks Numangagg-  This book is only used once, but it s a great read.  

CONS
  • Memory Verses & Bible Copy work- We did not do the Weekly memory verses and daily readings from Matthew because my kids are active in AWANA, a Bible Memorization Club.  They had enough copy work with Hero Tales printables (see above).
  • Missionary Chapter Books (Deluxe package)- These were way too old for my 3rd graders.  We may visit them again when they are older, but Hero Tales covered all the heroes already, so it felt redundant. 

Geography
PROS
  • Teacher's Manual Hands-on activities (cooking, flag sticker book, passport, etc) were easy to execute, without buying too many crazy extra items. I would usually make whatever food item was called for on Friday. If we didn't want to use the recipe in the manual for the country, I'd just google a simpler recipe for that country.
  • Student Sheets- You will definitely need the student sheets for this year!! 
  • Trip Around the World & Another Trip Around the World- These books have a few extra worksheets & activities for some of the countries you visit.  You will have to make copies for each child.  
  • Book basket- We used the book basket list  and the library heavily this year, more than any other year. These books will so much more context than you can provide to your together time. Remember this is a jumping off point for your library search! Every country allowed us to fill the library basket full of fiction and non fiction books for all ages. Online library searches at home were a weekly event, and allowed me to easily add many books that weren't on the book list to our basket. Studying one country or continent at a time made finding alternatives very easy.
  • Geography resource books of Children's Atlas of God's World, Classroom Atlas, & Maps and Globes were everyday resources that were essential to the study. We did enjoy the blow up Globe, and used it a lot each day. 
  • Geography From A to Z  was a wonderful book, age appropriate book. It might have been our favorite book of the year!  The illustrations are clear and even taught me many new vocabulary words.  The books is also scheduled strategically throughout the year, like learning about Fjords when you visit Norway.  We used the Printables from Mama Jenn, so that at the end of each child had their own hand drawn dictionary!
  • Currency Kit- We used the money kit, but never fully the way described in the manual. We were suppose to use it to "buy" items in your house each week. What we did was to have them visit the "Money exchange" office each time we got a stamp in the passport. Each new country, they would exchange  $10 American for the currency of that country. They just kept the money with their passport, until we went to the next country. 

CONS
  • Wall World Map-We did not use a world wall map due to a very small house & not enough wall space, instead used the map placement we had bought during Adventures in U.S.  History. The blow up Globe also took the place of the need for the wall map. If you have the room for this in your house, go ahead and put it up!!!
  • Geography Game. Even though it comes with the Student Sheets, we never actually used the Geography Game.  Instead we used Stack the Countries App.
  • Exploring World Geography. We did not use this, as I only had two 3rd graders.  I am sure we will use it for when we do the cycle again, but it is more for upper elementary or Junior High. Research skills are developed through the study of continents, many reports are done that are better for older kids.


Science 
Our favorite part of this year was the easily accessible science topics. All kids love animals, and the focus on different habitats (desert, rain forest, grassland, forest, polar region, etc.) was loved by all.

PROS
  • Living World Encyclopedia was a great kid friendly book, with lots of bright illustrations.
  • Book Basket-Plan to get many of the optional library books listed in book basket, especially for younger kids.  If the book listed isn't at your library, just type in Keyword for whatever ecosystem you're studying! The ecosystem always correlates to the country being studied (e.g., rain forest when studying Brazil), so searching your library catalog will be pretty easy. Even the least well stocked libraries should have some fiction and non-fiction  books on the major ecosystems (babies animals in the desert, animals of the savannah, etc.).
  • The Great Animal Search- This is a good book for younger kids.  Again, the animal study was very age appropriate for elementary aged children. 

CONS
  • Properties of Ecosystems was a good book that we tried to read with my science lovers.  It is more of a textbook, as opposed to a living book.  While we enjoyed it sometimes, it mostly just went over the head of my 3rd graders and they didn't retain any details. I'd recommend it for older elementary/junior high science lovers, but may be a bit much for most elementary aged kids.  We will probably like it much better when we repeat the cycle later in 8th grade. 
  • Weekly nature walk and nature journal.  I know this is so important to Charlotte Mason, but   we just spend a lot of time outside already, there was no need to formalize the walks.  We have never kept this up.
  • The Complete Books of Animals (for 2nd & 3rd graders).  We did not use this book, because we used  Draw Write Now which was a science and art curriculum combined.  I found our schedule for these books on the MFW ECC Group.  We also felt the abundance of library book options made this book redundant.  If you do not use Draw, Writw, Now  or your library is not well stocked, I would recommend getting this book for 2nd & 3rd graders. 

For 7th and 8th graders, add Apologia science (purchase separately). We were in 3rd grade, so this didn't apply to us.

Art & Music

PROS
  • Teacher's Manuals Art Projects- I am an artistic person, but can slack on art with my kids. Thankfully the projects were scheduled that didn't overwhelm the day, or require super weird materials. Example: When learning about Mexico, we made tissue paper flowers on Thursday that we then used for our fiesta on Friday (we made homemade tortillas on Friday, and it was almost the only thing scheduled for the day).
  • Fun with Easy Origami (Deluxe package)- My kids LOVED this book. That said, is only used during Japan, so you could easily get a simple Origami How-To Book from the library! Be prepared from a house full of paper animals! 

CONS
  • GLOBAL ART (Deluxe package) The teacher's manual provides so many hands on activities, that I didn't usually feel like we needed any projects from this book. It would make your day extraordinarily  long if you added all these. If you have crafty kids, you will like to be able to pull from this book throughout your year.
  • Wee Sing around the world (Deluxe package) At first, when we finished every country by eating food from that country, we would play a song from that region while eating.  But the CD only has one song from each region.  I would recommend just getting some CDs from that country from your library, or looking up some on your phone. 

Math
 We have never had great luck with MFW recommend Math. We use Math U See, you can see our review here.


Language Arts
PROS
  • Language lessons for Today, Grade 3-  We again enjoyed LLFT, because it is a gentle Charlotte Mason approach to language arts.  Some feel it is too light, but as we have stuck with it, I have seen it gets harder at an age appropriate level.  Some years past have felt almost too light, but I think the 4th and 5th grade are beginning to pick up, and challenge them more with grammar and writing. 
  • Cursive handwriting -  This was a great year to start cursive.   We enjoyed  Cursive Connections: Modern Style, but I think MFW has a different recommendation now. 

 CONS
  • Spelling-  Spelling Power is confusing, and just does not work with our work-boxes.  It is very teacher driven and we needed a more independent spelling curriculum that didn't require so much teacher presence.   We used Spelling By Sound and Structure for Christian Schools.

Add- Ons
Stack the Countries App   We use this instead of the Geography Game


LEGO LANDMARKS, free supplement using the Legos in your house- This past year we turned my boys' Lego obsession into another avenue of learning.


Friday Family Movie Night. Family movie night during ECC always included a movie from whatever country we were studying. Thankfully Disney has done several different countries.  You can find an extensive list in the MFW ECC Group.


Workboxes - The Workbox system has saved my sanity! I can't imagine homeschooling without it!


Draw Write Now  We used this as a science, art, and handwriting curriculum, and my kids LOVED IT.  Their drawing improved by leaps and bounds, and it as an independent activity that worked perfectly with our work boxes  We used a schedule for these books in MFW ECC Group.





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LEGO Landmarks: Free Supplement to ECC

3rd Grade Workboxes- ECC


Soft Pumpkin Cookies~Dairy & Egg Free


I love pumpkin all year long. These cookies are easy to make, and fun little mouth full of pumpkin.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies
Dairy & Egg Free
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 ½ cups sugar 
  • ½ cup margarine (1 stick), softened 
  • 1 cup Pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
Glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tsp unsweetened almond milk (add more if too thick to drizzle)

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets
  2. COMBINE flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl.
  3. Beat sugar and margarine in large bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, applesauce until smooth. 
  4. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by small spoon size onto prepared baking sheets.  Do not make too big or they will not cook through.  
  5. BAKE for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove to wire racks to cool. Drizzle Glaze over cookies. 
  6. MAKE GLAZE Combine powdered sugar & unsweetened almond milk in a small bowl until smooth. I use a spoon and drizzle over top in a side to side motion. It's not perfect looking, but tastes yummy!