Hands-on - Are activities overwhelming?

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Hands-on - Are activities overwhelming?

Unread post by 4Truth »

Must you fit in every activity? (author reply)
LaMere Academy wrote:Must you do every activity in the Instructor Manual? It's probably just me being lazy. Does anyone else skip some things? Or are we supposed to make sure we do every single thing.

Do the Hazells recommend doing each project, or have they stated that it is fine to pick and choose if you wish? Thanks!
Sometimes we just read the assigned science readings, but don't actually do the projects. (Nothing "wrong" with them... I just really don't like science!) We do lots of nature study kind of stuff, though. And my girls think the magnet stuff is really cool.
Donna, with two MFW graduates and the "baby" in 11th grade! %| Using MFW since 2004.
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Unread post by mamaofredheads »

Here's something I did that really helped me this year. My boys LOVE the science projects, but if I don't plan ahead we just don't get them done. I went through the TM and made a list in Word by week that shows the supplies I need for the whole year - just the things I knew we wouldn't have around the house. This may sound very time consuming, but it really wasn't! I keep this in my planner. Then as I'm out shopping, I try to look ahead for the next couple of weeks and pick up anything I might need. For next year, I'm planning way ahead - I'm saving a little $ each month and planning to go to a local craft store when they have a 1 day teacher sale with great discounts to get everything we need for the year. (We live in the country, so I really have to plan ahead or the fun things just don't happen.)

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Unread post by caod »

There are a few of the hands on projects that we do on a Saturday when the timing hits us right. Sometimes projects seemed to be bigger than they really are.

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Unread post by SandKsmama »

My Father's World is so adaptable, IMO, to MANY different family situations, etc. Will it be a *richer* experience if you do every single experiment, project, etc.? Sure, probably. But if you are so frustrated and burnt out from doing all of them that you quit altogether, well, how is that helping anyone?

Last year in ECC, I really felt like I was "failing" by not doing every single project/experiment, etc. But let me tell ya, by the end of the year, it was obvious how much my dd and son had learned and grown, despite those things we had skipped.

This year, LIFE in general is easier, and I am finding it less daunting to do more of those things in CTG. (I still don't do ALL the experiments - but there are a LOT!)

The Hazells have created a wonderful, rich, multi-faceted curriculum - make it your tool, not your taskmaster.

Amanda, Wife to a great guy since '99, SAHM to 4 fabulous kids! DD(7/96), DS(1/01), DD(8/03), and baby DS (3/09)!
Used MFW K, 1st, ECC, CTG, RTR, Ex1850, and currently using 1850-Modern!

Unread post by cbollin »

There are some things in the Adventues manual in science that they say you *should* do. First Encyclopedia of Science: many of these pages have a hands on experiment. these are not optional.

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Unread post by Marie »

We (the Hazells) do all the activities in our manuals when we write/test them--as well as many more that we don't include because they don't work, take too much time, were confusing, or too expensive.

We encourage families to do all the science experiments. Even though Mom may not enjoy setting up the experiments, children really do learn from them and most children enjoy them greatly. (If you have an older child, they may be able to gather all the materials and set up the experiment under your watchful eye. That always worked well for us!)

In some of our programs, some science experiments or other hands-on projects may be labeled as optional. These are usually the more time-consuming activities, and perhaps best suited to families that enjoy this and have adequate time.

Note: Genesis for Kids in Creation to the Greeks has many, many experiments. We do suggest that it is o.k. to omit some of them as needed.

David and Marie Hazell
LaMere Academy
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Unread post by LaMere Academy »

Thank you Marie, for letting me know. I think I just need to be more organized about making a list of what I need in the coming week/s.
One reason I switched to MFW was because of my children wanting more hands on projects, but here I am resisting the projects! I guess Mom needs to change.
Mom to Zarek 16, Alexis 15,
Caitlyn 12 and Brett 9
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Unread post by 4Truth »

I wanted to just read and discuss and do the notebooking, but the other activities really do mean a lot to the kids, like icing on the cake. The reality is, there isn't that much to gather, and with the lists that Marie has provided at the beginning of each week's lessons, I don't even have to wonder what we'll need. The hard part's done for me! I just have to do it. :o)

One thing you might do is to go through and make one cumulative list of supplies for about 4-5 weeks (or more) at a time, and go purchase them all at once. Put them all on a shelf or in a rubbermaid tub together until you're ready to use them. Do the same thing with any photocopying. I feel well prepared when I do this!
Donna, with two MFW graduates and the "baby" in 11th grade! %| Using MFW since 2004.
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Unread post by kellybell »

I have found that the activities in MFW are NOT overkill in any way. They fit in the programs and are NOT fluff. Plus, they are not complicated (right away, I think of the water clock being just a styrofoam cup with a hole poked in it -- much simpler than the Make it Work book version of the same concept!!!).

It's fine to do things a bit out of order. Not terribly out of order; that would mess up the way things are all put together so nicely and would eliminate many "aha" moments. However, some families that don't care for science might want to set aside an entire day for science and do two weeks worth in a day.

Co-ops can help too. Either bite the bullet and offer to teach a group of kids science (then you'll be forced to prepare a lesson and since you are teaching you pick the lessons so pick the MFW ones!) or join a co-op where someone will teach your children science (or whatever subject is your bugaboo).

Or even just little partnerships. My neighbor down the street doesn't like science although she does a whiz-bang job with every other subject. So, I invite her two dd's over now and then for a morning or afternoon of pure science. We all benefit from this: her kids get a dose of science and my kids get some good buddies over to help them mess up the kitchen!

As a last resort, do science with the kids in the summer. Or over "spring break."

Why not discuss with dh what the biggest issues are and see how to cover them?
Kelly, wife to Jim since 1988, mom to Jamie (a girl, 1994), Mary (1996), Brian (1998) and Stephanie (2001).

Unread post by TurnOurHearts »

I am definitely one of those who doesn't love projects! :0) I know, selfish me...

HOWEVER, I do know my kids need this stuff. Moreover, I want them to have it. Our compromise is the once a week project idea. One day (usually Friday) we talk about all that we've learned & done - then we project! The kids enjoy, I can handle it - it works for us.

You'll find your groove - just pray!

Paige in NC

Are activities overwhelming?

Unread post by cbollin »

shera wrote:I am planning on taking a good look at this curriculum at my convention this weekend but I have a question for people that have actually used it.

I read through the catalog last night and some of the hands on activities sound rather overwhelming. For instance, the Bible times costumes and the Biblical feast these sound very time consuming and intense. Could someone please expand on the hands on activities?

I am looking at k and 1st. I figure the higher the level the more complicated the activity?
Most of the stuff I've done in MFW (over 4 years) has been simple, not too messy (well, some messy), and not time consuming. I have special needs kids who have to be in therapies and I don't really have time for time-consuming projects. And I am not into crafts.

Bible costumes -- bed sheet and a belt and lots of imagination. :)

I love the story that David tells about how they came up with a simple way to do a hands-on project to make a Roman arch that is scheduled and explained in RTR. They researched ideas for it and saw one that said to get an electric knife and firm foam rubber --- and they thought, no way, I don't have one and don't think I even know what firm foam rubber is, much less if Walmart has it. They ended up coming up with a way to make a very strong Roman arch from (drum roll please) pudding boxes and scissors. And they share that simple and fun project in the t.m.

I tell that story, because it is so representative of the projects in MFW. Simple, not too messy, quick and easy, and adaptable to stuff you probably have at home or a quick trip to grocery/wally worldish store.

You don't have to build a booth for the Feasts of Booths --- you can simply use bed sheets and chairs (and a coke bottle for the shofar..... Julie, do you still have that picture?)

However, there is an optional project in RTR to make a Medieval Castle from a book in the deluxe package. That was time intensive and we planned for that project to be done by dad over a couple of weekends. It was completely extra and can be skipped. So that is the one big project that sticks out in my mind after 4 years. And we didn't do it until the year after RTR. LOL

Hope that encourages you a bit. The hands-on things are meant to be fun, not such a chore that it takes over your day.

Julie in MN
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Unread post by Julie in MN »

shera wrote:Thank you so much.

The Biblical feasts is the one that I think I am most concerned about. I guess in my head I am picturing having to make something similar to Thanksgiving dinner multiple times in the year. Do they give suggestions as to how to pull this off? I know the Passover Seder is involved because I have the instructions for that one as well as recipes.

I remember being intimidated by the feasts, too! Here is something I wrote right after we finished CTG, in the Share Your Experiences thread:

Now I for one was very intimidated by the feasts at first. However, I have had a complete change of heart. I have learned that there is as much variety in celebrating the Jewish feasts as there is in Christian worship. Our Feast of Booths inside our family room during a cold MN fall was just as special & holy as a formal affair - and it was the photo ds chose to put on the cover of his history notebook. We were welcomed at Messianic Jewish churches [where they did all the work!] & talked with someone who had lived in Israel. The CTG instructions are an easy jump start, and then your family's possibilities are endless.

You do some great projects in CTG, like building your own model holy tabernacle - and the teacher's guide has detailed instructions & allows you a full week with no other history assigned, so you don't have to squeeze it in. Also I've always wanted to "dramatize" history with the kids but never had the energy or creative genius. Yet dramatizing just one or two events in CTG was something even I could accomplish (and was very effectual & appreciated by ds).
And yes, the Passover was one of the more food-specific feasts. But not to worry. There is a book provided, the specific page numbers are in your CTG guide, and needed supplies are listed in the teacher guide. And after all that, if you decide to do a smaller celebration or participate in a community event instead, you will still have learned a lot about the Old Testament feasts and their connection to specific events in the life of Jesus.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002+)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Unread post by cbollin »


In the first grade manual, it is scaled back to be very doable, with simple instructions. We did the Purim activities. Ended up not following the recipe in the manual b/c we got lazy and just bought crescent-shaped dough from the fridge section at the grocery and improvised a bit to make the cookies. :)

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Unread post by mom2woii »

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:45 am

I'm doing ADV with my 8yo this year and we are loving it!

The MFW science is low-key, which I like. It is twice a week and there are some hands-on experiments which my dd loves. She asks everyday to do science, but since I'm not a "science person", I'm glad it's only two days a week at this point! :-)

The book basket is enrichment reading. The teacher's manual gives a wonderful lists of books pertaining to what you're studying for a given week. I get every book we can from the library and even some books that aren't listed. Sometimes we read every book, sometimes we don't--depending on how much time we have. My dd can read some of the books, but we prefer to sit on the couch and I read to her. Then we discuss what she's learned in the history portion of the day and how it pertains to what we're reading.

I appreciate the biblical content threaded throughout MFW, which is really the reason I chose the curriculum.

Another thing that is an added plus is that the daily lessons plans are very well laid out.

For me, there is just enough hands-on activities to keep my dd motivated. I'm afraid if there was too much more, I'd end up skipping some of it. Of course, if you're creative you could add much more.

Hope this helps,
Julie in MN
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The hands-on stresses me

Unread post by Julie in MN »

mommysweird wrote:The hands-on stuff really freaks me out and completely stresses me.
Posted: Tue Jun 03, 2008 8:51 pm
Don't stress! MFW piloted each year with LOTS of different families -- including large families and non-crafty families. It is do-able. Here is an example: Instead of creating costumes for every character you study, there is usually ONE time that making a costume is encouraged. Plenty of time is given in the manual. And easy options like just wrapping a sheet are also given.

You can, of course, skip all activities. But I find that kids really retain the information better if they learn it in various ways. And the memories are precious :o)
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Unread post by Lucy »

Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:17 am

I too wanted to encourage you that I am not a crafty mom and I found that the hands-on activities have been easy for me and my kids to do. I have never had to sew anything. Most of what I need is around the house or at the grocery store. Marie gives you a list of things you need each week too. I tried to do most of the hands-on activities but I never felt guilty if we missed one. We just moved on. You can do it.

I agree with Julie that I felt that the activities that MFW has in the curriculum were always helpful for retention and not just some fun, messy project with little meaning.

I hope that encourage you that you can do it too!

Unread post by cbollin »

Posted: Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:48 am
Just more encouraging insights from a non-craft mom and long time MFW user here....

one of the things that I've loved about the hands on stuff in MFW is that it is easy and effective. For those of us who are more skilled in arts/crafts and all of that, those same easy and effective activities are a springboard to use those talents, and to be a time to allow our children to try to develop those talents.

for the rest of us who just get the easy and fun parts of it --- well, we get a lot out of it too. We're not overwhelmed with the simple stuff. I laugh at loud on some other forums where people say MFW is too easy on activities. I always want to ask, too easy on whom? A highly skilled craft teacher or on her children? What about poor lil me???? I need easy!!!!! LOL

I'd rather thrive on an easy on me activity that gets the job done and is easy to set up and clean up than to struggle with a hard and long project that overwhelms my day and my kitchen table and floor. Thank you Marie for giving us projects that are doable in my real world and yet expandable for others and their talents.

For those of us with more skill in making crafts, you'll still be able to run with the project and use those talents for teaching your children, and to give us great blogs to look at when we're trying to get an idea too :)
blessedbyHim wrote:Jjust how costly could is get? I guess this question has various answers but I'm just trying to decide if in the long run it would truly save us or eventually just equal out with our current curriculum. The extra supplies we need now are VERY simple things that you almost always have in the house.
Posted Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:01 am by cbollin
That's the kind of stuff you need in MFW. simple stuff, that you usually have. MFW gives you a list. So, you're getting ready to do your normal grocery/wally world trips, and you can just add missing items from the MFW list to your list. ECC has a lot of crafts from a book called Global Art. Some of those might mean you go to Michael's instead of walmart if you want to do something special. I've never kept total tabs on the expenses for those things. so, I can't help on that. It's not a bank breaker that's for certain. MFW is always mindful of expenses and wants their customers to be that way too. They are all about missions focus with Bible translation and try hard to keep our expenses down too.

In the 7 years of doing MFW, the one item that I know I had to order was modeling beeswax. It was almost like getting a treat for them at Christmas to do that. After the fact, I guessed I could have used candle making stuff from craft store. So in Germany, if you can't find beeswax and can't budget to buy it --- skip it, and get some Burt's Bees lip balm to smell and then play with regular playdough.

in high school, you'll have biology and might need a microscope to buy/borrow/share some day....
LA in Baltimore
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Just want to say THANKS....

Unread post by LA in Baltimore »

I already posted on the CtG board, but wanted to add a general Thank You comment...
I really appreciate all the notes and ideas written into the MFW Manuals!
I am NOT very artsy or crafty, so I will often shy away from projects that seem overwhelming.
MFW has such a great way of taking a project and giving suggestions for people just like me who need a simpler version.
Today was a perfect example... we used the information from Ancient Egypt pgs 32-33 to play a Senet Game, but followed the idea for making the game from the TM. We all had a fun time making it AND playing it.
Also, I appreciate the coloring sheets that are in the appendix. My children really enjoy the break in routine when they can just enjoy coloring something while I'm reading aloud.
Thanks, MFW! :-)
Only by His grace,
LA in Baltimore
Currently enjoying Rome to the Reformation
Graduated oldest May 2010, Three more to go!
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New Here and made Final Decision

Unread post by 4Truth »

prov31sandra wrote:I'm not a great hands-on homeschooler, so I probably won't be making period costumes, but I do hope to do some of the smaller projects like cooking, and a few things like that. We even have a Middle Eastern deli that we can visit to hopefully find some of the ingredients in the recipes. Even if I just did a few coloring pages and two Science experiments, that would be more hands-on then we do now. So my kids will like that. LOL

I am really going into this knowing that I LOVE the basic structure and Godliness of MFW and that it's ok if I don't do every single thing as written.
You know we can hold your hand through any difficulties you might have. Between the archive forums here, and calling the office to talk to knowledgeable, friendly, helpful staff, you can do it! There isn't a mom here that hasn't struggled with any difficulties you might run into.

And FTR, there are NO "high pressured schedules to conform to" in MFW. First of all, Marie has raised 6 kids and lived in a foreign country for several years while still having babies. The LAST thing she wants for us moms is to force us to conform to some high pressured schedule. Quite the contrary... MFW is very EFFICIENT. I haven't seen any other literature-rich or unit study program that's put together as well as this one... and I've looked at or tried a LOT of them. Plus I *know* that philosophy-wise, MFW fits your family in that way. If you can get past the fear of the hands-on options, I truly think you'll love it. ;)
Last edited by 4Truth on Mon Jan 24, 2011 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
Donna, with two MFW graduates and the "baby" in 11th grade! %| Using MFW since 2004.
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Re: New Here and made Final Decision for CTG...

Unread post by Metairie »

4Truth wrote:You know we can hold your hand through any difficulties you might have. Between the archive forums here, and calling the office to talk to knowledgeable, friendly, helpful staff, you can do it! There isn't a mom here that hasn't struggled with any difficulties you might run into.

And FTR, there are NO "high pressured schedules to conform to" in MFW. First of all, Marie has raised 6 kids and lived in a foreign country for several years while still having babies. The LAST thing she wants for us moms is to force us to conform to some high pressured scheduled. Quite the contrary... MFW is very EFFICIENT. I haven't seen any other literature-rich or unit study program that's put together as well as this one... and I've looked at or tried a LOT of them.
This is what I adore about these forums. Any problems, hiccups, questions of all sorts, are all right here in the archives. I've spent a lot of time searching to find answers.

I don't have a lot of extra time (who really does?) so the schedule is amazing! I go off on a three-day work trip, come home and open back up to where we left off, easy peasy. Forget the kids, I'm learning soooo much! :-)
Cindie, wife to Gary for 18 years, mom to girls,
Juliette MFW 1st grade Adv (01/04)
Jordan MFW K and Adv tag-a-long (07/06)
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Re: New Here and made Final Decision for CTG...

Unread post by momsflowergarden »

cbollin wrote:agreeing... on that schedule thingy there, 4truth.

Yes, the grid schedule is wonderful! and I have loved the lesson plans, and love love love the structure with freedom it brings. they don't control me or make me conform to something. I'm me. I'm not Marie or David. I"m not Donna or Julie. I'm just me. Many of us who use MFW have some shared interests, but we aren't cookie cutter robots. we're just normal moms (and dads, hi Mike) getting it done. enjoying fun stuff. loving the Bible integration -- without doctrine....

I'm nothing like the Hazells and their schedule. They are nothing like me. We have different lives and children and all of that. conform to what? loving our children, teaching them in the love of knowing a Savior who loves them? ok, I guess there's the pressure to "conform". It certainly doesn't come from a piece of paper with a grid on it though. It comes from Above with God pressing on our hearts and minds to keep in the race and to love Him with all our hearts, minds, soul and to love others.
I wish I would have had someone tell me this when I was trying to do Adv. I was so consumed with trying to keep a schedule that was impossible for me that I finally gave it up and went to another curr. only to find out that I wasn't that person either. My day starts early with getting my oldest son up and ready for work(He is a c6 quad and works full time in a Christian School). By the time I have him and his dad out the door it is many times 9:30 or 10. I..can..not..be..at..our..school..table..by..8. We generally spend more than 15 min. in Bible. It takes time when you are crying about the missionary stories like the one this morning about the Navajo. I also don't give them a break nor do we allow a certain amount of time for this or that. We work until we are finished in a subject. I normally rest for a time before we start the paper work for Hist. or Science or do an art project. I am not anyone else, my dc are like no others and non of you are like me and going to hold the exact same schedule.

It is so very freeing to succeed when you realize that this is an example that can work but you need to establish your own personal rhythm and song. :-)
(I am still just in awe that a blind man helped translate the Bible in Navajo. How many times have I disqualified myself because of this or that. WOW!)
Be Blessed
Mom of 5
Homeschooler of 2, ds 10 and dd 11
Using CLE Math, Calculadders, PLL/ILL, Rod and Staff spelling, AND MFW ECC for History, Science and Bible.
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Do you combine activities?

Unread post by gratitude »

Metairie wrote:MFW K is amazing, precious and just sweet. The arts and crafts are fun and both girls are enjoying them so much.

However, this non-crafty mom doesn't want to do both all Adventure crafts and the K crafts. Juliette actually likes the K crafts better. I don't want to be overwhelmed by them, but I also want to bless my girls. What do you all do?
Hi Cindie!

I pick and choose for the craft activities. I am not very crafty, and my children like to implement their own hands on ideas (sometimes they even relate to the topics that we are studying!). I agree with you that the arts and crafts in K are very precious. This school year we started with 1st & K, and are now doing ADV & K. I read through the crafts / activities for each week and then pick the ones I think they will either enjoy the most or learn the most from, and that I have the supplies on hand for or can substitute. Some of the ideas I really really like; interesting projects that bring a concept more to life. Like the one we did today with the dark/light for Jesus being the light of the world. Wonderful activity for my boys!

So I don't do all of them, but I will be interested to see if anyone else using ADV & K does. I try to focus on the priorities and work the rest in as I can, and still give them plenty of play-time (their top priority in life). Off-topic: my ds is LOVING the I Can Do Art book for ADV.
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Re: Do you combine activities?

Unread post by spaldingclan »

I would say pick and choose. We have not done all of the arts and crafts for K this year because,,(clearing throat) I am not so much the crafty type and that kind of stuff usually totally stresses me out! (I'm a little bit too type A for crafts sometimes. I'm working on it :~ )

Plus, I knew that my 4 1/2 year old would be repeating K right away and plan on doing the crafts we skipped this next time around with them along with some of the crafts from 1st. That being said, the 1st grade crafts look awesome! So, we'll see how it all looks in practice.
**Stars of Grace Academy**
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dd1 age 14: Freshman at PS
dd2 age 6 1/2: currently in MFW1, finished MFWK
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Re: Do you combine activities?

Unread post by Metairie »

Thanks, ladies. We do K first and both girls love those activities. After K, this non-crafty mom and girls are ready to snuggle and read. Unless we all really want to do a particular craft, we will probably focus on K. :-)
Cindie, wife to Gary for 18 years, mom to girls,
Juliette MFW 1st grade Adv (01/04)
Jordan MFW K and Adv tag-a-long (07/06)
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How to become a hands on teacher

Unread post by jhagberg »

Stephc wrote:I am an avid sewist, as long as I have some beautiful fabric to work with (ok, admitting here that the sewing is not what I like, it's the fabric. lol). Other than that, I HATE crafts. They just bore me to tears. I do love to cook.

BUT the three kids that I have that have difficulties of one kind or another in school are very hands on kids. I am willing to get over myself for them. Does anyone know how this is done? lol. Frankly, I hate teacher's manuals. I don't need a manual to tell me when to breathe or take a bathroom break. Not only do I find them confining, I find them overwhelming. ALLLLLLLLL the ideas! My brain can't handle it. I look at all those "you could do this! you could do that!" as opportunities to make a big mess, spend money on supplies and have more things to keep track of. I know, I sound like a total stick in the mud. But I don't like *stuff*. And we live with my parents in their antique filled house, so messes are just cause for more stress.

You guys are probably all really good and the crafty stuff and have no idea what my problem is, but I guess I am hoping there is someone out there that sees the extras like i do: extra. And not in a good way. But I really DO want to flesh this program out for my kids and I feel like they would be more willing to read if I promised them some really cool….something. :P

Any ideas for making schooling fun for my hands on kids while being something I can actually implement and not go nuts?

I am SO much like you! I look at the teacher's manual as an awesome tool box...with more tools than I actually need to get the job done. :) For example, this year we are doing ECC, and I have skipped Global Art almost entirely (we've only done two art activities). I absolutely agree with your comment about crafts being "opportunities to make a big mess, spend money on supplies and have more things to keep track of."

You asked, "Any ideas for making schooling fun for my hands-on kids while being something I can actually implement and not go nuts?"

Well, I usually look at the craft and think to myself, "Do I already have these supplies? Do I have the time and energy to make it happen?" I try not to say, "We never do art." Instead, I say, "We do art when it works for us." Also, as children get older, they can take responsibility for doing art on their own and cleaning up after themselves! :-)

Mother of 4 boys...
Expecting my first grandchild this summer -- another boy!
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