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Monday, September 25, 2017

Pros & Cons- MFW Creation to The Greeks


We are definitely a My Father's World Family, but that doesn't mean we don't tweak the curriculum every year to fit our family.  Everyone has their own pros and cons, so my pros may be your cons.  Please comment below how you tweaked CttG to work for your family!



Bible/History
Bible and History are VERY linked  this year. You will have a thorough look into the Old Testament, and what was happening in the Ancient World during our most well known Bible Stories.  This was extremely helpful, even to me as an adult.  If you have done MFW 1st grade, there will feel like a lot of repeats, but it is more in depth, with world history added.

PROS
  • Journey through the Bible  adds ESSENTIAL historical context to all the Bible Stories you read this. As you read about their every day lives, it makes the people in the stores real people, instead of a character in a book.  This is a book that I honestly feel like all Christian families should have. My kids still remember SO much from this book.
  • Ancient World was very kid friendly, with easy to read info and colorful illustrations.  No matter the age, it works great. Usborne never disappoints. 
  • The Jewish feasts added a depth to the OT study, using the book Celebrating Biblical Feasts. We did end up staggering these throughout the year.  Many of the feasts are right the beginning of the year, and felt overwhelming.  My suggestion is  1.) look ahead and be OK with spreading out your feasts; you can do the Sabbath feast anytime throughout your year (not just the week it is scheduled)  2.)Read through the whole feast before buying supplies.  We did only some parts of each feast, like challah bread and ceremony during Sabbath, but not traditional Sabbath meal. 
  • TEACHER'S MANUAL- Egyptian and Greek Studies were really fun, and added historical context again to the Bible Stories we all know.  The activities were usually low key, without tons of extra items to be bought, but memorable enough to help the children really experience the concept.  For example, we played the Egyptian game of Senet, and it was included in the student sheets.  I will mention that Egypt felt like it lasted a very long time (almost the entire first half of the school year), and like the Jews wondering int he Wilderness, I was ready to leave  Egypt when it as time. That said, my kids never got sick of Egypt.  And since Egypt was so deeply influential to the Ancient World, I am thankful we have a solid foundation of their place in history.
  • Student Sheets-Complete a timeline and create a history notebook, which includes a page for each major event or person, map work, and illustrations to color.  The maps alone make understanding the ancient world so much easier.  The timeline is also extremely similar to if you did MFW 1st grade, but with added historical events that were happening in the Ancient World.  I highly recommend doing the timeline, so you can see when historical events happen in the biblical timeline.
MIXED FEELINGS
  • Streams of Civilization, while a very interesting read for me as an adult, sometimes went over the kids' head.   It would be great if you have a history fanatic, or older elementary/middle schooler. Take the advice in the manual, and read before hand so that you may summarize if you have anyone in 3rd grade or younger tagging along.  Also it is very important to be OK with not much retention of details in SoC.  If my kids could recall what happened in Ancient World, then I felt that was appropriate for their age level (they are in 4th grade).  SoC add great details and context, but it is OK if they don't memorize all that. You must remember they will be learning all of this in more depth in High School, and these years are to introduce to the bigger context of History. 
  • Student Sheets- The Maps and Timeline are well worth buying the students sheets,  but I was frustrated with the amount of notebook pages you have to create on your own. Look ahead and be prepared each week. There were several weeks when I was caught off guard, and would quickly have to make and print a notebook page, or we would skip it all together because I am just that Mom.
  • Book Basket- Book Basket is usually our absolute favorite part of the MFW, but this was one of the first time I can say we barely used the book basket lists.  I think this is due to the year long heavy focus on Old testament stories.  There were multiple weeks where I didn't use any of the books.  When we would focus more on Egypt and Greeks, I was able to get more books, but even then the list was not the most helpful.  I would recommend all moms doing this study to join the Facebook Group for CttG for several free booklists!


Science
PROS
  •  Pyramids- We REALLY enjoyed learning the science related to the pyramids using the book Pyramids. The book itself included simple to execute hands-on activities, like making a pyramid from play dough and straws. My kids still talk about how the pyramid is the strongest shape.
CONS
  •  We were just not fans of the Creation based science  this year, and almost skipped it entirely.  I say this not because don't believe in Creation based science, but because  many of the experiments were redundant from either years past, or information my children already knew because we are a very outdoorsy family that has visited every nature Center in a 200 miles radius of our home.  We are a science loving family,  and met that need naturally through other avenues. 
7th and 8th graders, use Apologia science instead of the above (purchase separately). We are in 5th grade, so not applicable to us.

Art and Music

PROS
  • There were several hands on art projects through the year schedule in the teacher's manual.  We did most of these, with success and fun had by all.
CONS
  • We again skipped the Music appreciation lessons focus on Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel with easy-to-use CD's (in the Deluxe Package). I am sure they were good, we just never seem to fit them in. 

Read-Alouds

PROS
  • We enjoyed The Children's Homer, as well as fables from Aesop's Fables for Children. That said, many became bedtime stories or audio books during lunch, because they were sometimes hard to fit in during school day. Each book added great context to the Greek Study.
  • We all LOVED Books by Patricia St. John (The Tanglewoods' Secret, Treasures of the Snow, and Star of Light) inspire children to live the Christian life (in the Deluxe Package). I highly recommend getting these, either in paper book or audio form. 

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

Language Arts 
These are based upon MFW recommendations. Foreign language is optional but highly recommended. We have not had time to really fit one in yet.

PROS
  • Roots Words-  This might have been one of my favorite parts of this year's study.  Root word were simple to learn, but so important to future vocabulary skills.  My kids and I love learning entomology of words we use everyday. 
  • Language lessons for Today, Grade 4-  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. 
  • Writing Strand- Level 3.  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


Our Add-Ons and Supplements 

  • Free Online Piano Lessons- The curriculum provides music appreciation, but no actual music lessons.  We remedy that with Free Piano lessons through Hoffman Academy



Thursday, September 14, 2017

Pros & Cons MFW Adventures IN U.S. History


As many of you know, we have been using My Father's World since Kindergarten.  We really love them, and can't imagine using other curriculum.  That said, there are always some parts of each year that work for our family, and some that don't.  Please take these as just our experience. Your family may seem of our pros as cons, or vice versa.  


Pros

History We always love the History sections of MFW, and it is usually my favorite part of the teacher's manual. 
  •  Story of the U.S. and American Pioneers and Patriots  were great living books, each week my kids asking to read more than assigned for that day.  The books were very age appropriate and kept them engaged. 
  • The many other History books, such as North American Indians, were all very kid friendly and informative. 
  • The student sheets and sticker books were also fun, and very easy to use.  
  •  We still use the map placement in school, almost every day. 
Bible  Learning the names of Jesus was informative, and always tied easily with s science lesson.  For example, when we learned that Jesus was the Bread of Life, we also learned about yeast. The Bible Memory wasn't too daunting this year, like we have seen in later years of the family cycle. 
Science-
  • The Book First Encyclopedia of Science was very fun, and kid friendly.  We also printed a list of Magic School bus episodes, found on MFW facebook page. 
  • We also enjoy the student sheets and the Bird Nature Study using Birds, Nests, and Eggs because it actually tied to the study of the states.  Each time you study a state bird, you study that bird.  We went on several nature walks, but were never that great about note booking. 
  • The Fun with Magnets set was also used a lot, but mostly in just free exploration. 
Language Arts- 
  • We like Language Lessons for TodayWe really enjoy the gentle introduction to English and grammar.  We tried a traditional approach on recommendation from a friend, and it was way too much repetition for us. 
  • Spelling by Sound and Structure has also been a wonderful curriculum that goes perfectly with our second grade workboxes.
Music appreciation lessons that focused on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker were fun, and went along with our field trip to see the Nutcracker (in the Deluxe Package). We listed to the CDs while we colored the History Student Sheets. In the student sheets & on a CD, you get to learn some simple patriotic songs that were very fun.
Read-Alouds These were almost a Con. The books themselves (The Courage of Sarah, Noble On the Banks of Plum Creek, Sarah Whitcher's Story, In Grandma's Attic, Mountain Born, Farmer Boy) were all great, but we never seemed to get to them during the day, so I started a chapter at bedtime. When that didn't work on a consistent schedule, we got them them in audio book from the library and it turned them into a Pro! Farmer Boy was our favorite, especially if you have young boys.  This was great for along car ride to our in-laws, or for playing while my kids ate their lunch.

Book Basket This year's book basket list was well done and we used at least a few of the books every week. I do not read these books to the kids, they read themselves from the library basket.  The books from each state always helped them go into more depth than I could manage to fit in during our Together Time. Like always, I use it as my jumping off point for my library search. I reserve all my books online, and pick them up once every 2 weeks. 

Cons
 Art I Can Do All Things (in the Deluxe Package) wasn't for us.We did about half of the beginning lessons, and they were interesting, but we just never got that into these lessons.  Granted,m we didn't have the DVDs. We stopped, and switched to Draw Write Now , which my kids LOVED; so much that we ended up using all through third grade Exploring Countries and Cultures.  
Math We have never had great luck with MFW recommend Math. We use Math U See, you can see our review here.
Science  Science in the Kitchen and Science with Air. We also didn't use the Soda Bottle Bird Feeder, and just used Toilet Paper Rolls, with peanut butter and bird seed. These books never connected to the curriclum, and just didn't' seem like they had much meaning or depth.

Add-ons/Supplements
Stack the States App  -Inexpensive app that we used ALL THE TIME.  My husband and I even play on it a lot!
Scrambled StatesSimple board game about America, so easy that 2nd graders can play easily without much assistance after first time. 
Liberty's Kids - The Complete Series- Great for sick days, and on those long winter days stuck inside!


Draw Write Now with MFW Adventures

Second Grade Workboxes MFW





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