Hands-on - MFW methods really work!

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Julie in MN
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Hands-on - MFW methods really work!

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sun Oct 15, 2006 7:44 pm

I just want to share (& hear your stories, too!) about how the bit of hands-on in MFW really makes a difference in retention.

We have had a difficult start this year due to illness in the home, so I have been tempted to skip a few things. And it's been going fine. But this week I realized an error in my ways LOL! Here's one example of the change when we restarted the projects this week.

I had taught ds about the different categories of books in the Bible several times, including last year with CTG, and again this year with How the Bible Came to Us in RTR. (Law, history, poetry, etc.) But every time I brought it up -- total blank look from ds. No memory whatsoever. I guess he had nothing to connect the concept to, or no obvious "reason" to use the info. But still I felt this concept would help him wrap his brain around the whole Bible as he begins to absorb it more deeply in 5th grade.

So finally I got the matchboxes at the grocery store & we made the mini bookshelf according to the suggested hands-on activity in RTR. I even remembered the post from "my 2 sons" about putting the books inside ( http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 211#p53211 ).

Total difference -- ds knows exactly what I mean & can rattle them off just like that!

Just a reminder (for me!) that a little hands-on isn't just more fun, but really can be used simply for better learning.

Last edited by Julie in MN on Sun Oct 15, 2006 9:06 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 » Sun Oct 15, 2006 8:31 pm

We had a fun one this week in EX1850. We were learning about the archerfish in science lessons. The archerfish aims a stream of water to hit an insect in the air and then the insect falls in the water and is fish food. No, don't worry, my children were not spitting at anything..... hee hee.

Instead the activity was to observe how light bends in the water to show how it is difficult to aim when you are under the water's surface.

I thought --- this will be lame. it took all of 30 seconds to set up the experiment. But the girls loved it. They tried to aim and hit their paper insect target while looking through a glass of water. It was hard to hit that thing. And yes, I tried several times. 4th try I got it.

I didn't think something so simple would be so much fun and we learned quite a few lessons. My 5th grader learned biology and physics. She was able to go more in depth with the lesson. The 2nd grader learned it too at her level.


Jill S
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Unread post by Jill S » Mon Oct 16, 2006 9:10 am

Our big 'ah ha' moment was studying the brain in RtR and interlocking your fingers so that your right hand is on your left side and vice versa, then trying to lift the finger that someone points to, but doesn't touch. That was so cute as they all tried so hard to get it right. I couldn't do it any better than they could! It certainly brought home the fact that your body is mostly controlled by the opposite side of the brain.

Julie,you're right, though, going ahead and doing the activities adds so much...they still remember the sun dial from ECC, and that was our very first MFW activity!
Mom to Alex, 12, Russia--RtR
Luke, 12--RtR
Song, 9, China--RtR
Vera, 8, Russia, Down Syndrome
Anna, 7--MFW1
Emma, 6, Down Syndrome
Ella, 3, Colombia, Down Syndrome

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Unread post by txquiltmommy » Mon Oct 16, 2006 5:18 pm

My two sons definitely live for the hands on projects in Adventures. They love to cook, but aren't always fond of eating their creations. We made hasty pudding this year, which was definately NOT delicious by their standards. The other day I was standing in the kitchen making a dessert to take to my in laws. I was wisking vanilla pudding in a clear bowl. My two boys walked in, took one look, did an about face, and ran out yelling, "NOOOO....no more hasty pudding! And dont' make that into Johnny cakes! We don't like it!!!"

Ha! They learn even from the "bust" projects! :)
dd (14)
ds(9) - ECC
ds(8) - ECC
and one on the way in December!

Julie in MN
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Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed Oct 25, 2006 9:03 pm

You all are too funny! I hadn't even thought of science projects & cooking as "hands-on learning" but you are totally right!

I usually do the science projects, but this year the first experiment was making a "cell" out of jello. We were to put it in a baggie & put a grape inside for the nucleus. Not rocket science. I was tempted to skip it.

But after reading about the parts of a cell plus drawing the parts of a cell, neither made it stick in ds's mind like the good ol' baggie with jello in it LOL!

I love hearing these stories!
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)
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Don't skip the special celebrations and activities!

Unread post by Poohbee » Fri May 02, 2008 1:18 am

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 9:46 pm
For anyone who might be tempted to skip some of the special celebrations or activities in the MFW TMs, I just want to encourage you not to skip them.

We are doing MFW 1st in our family this year. We are on Day 88. Well, on Day 57, a special activity in the TM is "Celebrate the Sabbath". Marie gave instructions on how to celebrate the Sabbath in a simplified way. It didn't work out for us to celebrate the Sabbath around Day 57, but I wrote a note and stuck it in my lesson plan book so that I would remember to do it sometime before the end of the year.

It happened to work out well for us to do it this evening. So, I set the table with a white tablecloth, my good dishes, crystal candle holders, and gold candles. You should have seen the looks on my girls' faces when they saw the table. We never get that fancy! They oohed and aahed over the table and wondered what the special occasion was. I prepared a special meal, and then we sat down and I explained about the Sabbath. My husband and I did the blessings as Marie wrote that they should be done in the TM, and we enjoyed a very nice, very special family meal!

It was such a very special time! I'm so glad that we did it and that we didn't just end up skipping it! We made a wonderful memory tonight!

A couple of other things we didn't do at the times they were listed in the manual are making a Bible times costume and making the Bible lands map with salt dough. I have a note to myself in my lesson planner, though, reminding me to be sure to do them sometime before the end of the year.

So, I just want to encourage you to be sure to do the special activities listed in the TM. Sometimes the timing doesn't work out and it may be easier to skip them and think that your kids won't even miss them. But after my daughters' reactions tonight, I realize how special those celebrations and activities are!

Cyndi (AZ)
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Unread post by Cyndi (AZ) » Fri May 02, 2008 1:19 am

Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:50 pm

Thanks, ladies. It's so true, isn't it? The stuff that I have to reschedule and drag my feet and force myself to do is always the stuff that causes the lightbulbs to flip on and the bells to ring. Sooner or later, I'm going to learn to trust the curriculum and just do it . . . .

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My style versus children's style

Unread post by ChristyH » Sat May 24, 2008 10:46 am

Posted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 8:21 am
The longer I homeschool the more I learn about myself and my children. One of the main things that I have learned is because it works for me doesn't mean that it will work for them.

When we used an online literature program, I loved it because I love to read and could do it all day long. The children on the other hand really struggled with it. In fact, I can not recall any great moments with the program. I ended up having to read the whole things pretty much to them which put a big damper on it for myself.

One of the great things about was that it was free or at least very inexpensive. I had to sell a large amount of book to afford ECC and I didn't have enough money to switch math but hey, I thought I could make do. The children are doing okay with it but as usual I know it could be better. It takes a lot of time for me because it is textbook-like and I end up writing out their problems. I need something a bit easier for me to use.

Just because I like something doesn't mean the children will. I only have one intellectual child, like me, see my head swell. The others are like their father, artistic. You would think I would have learned this by now but sometimes I can be slow. I also need to fork over money for things that work and not be so cheap. Not being extravagant of course but put more dedicated money toward schooling and not always making do unless I really have to.

(hubby is deer hunting so I have no adults to talk to you guys get to listen to me) ;0)


Re: My style versus children's style

Unread post by TurnOurHearts » Sat May 24, 2008 10:46 am

Posted: Sun Nov 18, 2007 2:55 pm
I know what you mean! When we did MFW1 with my son, we breezed right through. Where he was, the way he learned - it just clicked. With my daughter, it's been a very different experience. Still a good one, but very different from my journey with my son. They are SO different from one another and SO different from ME! :D I try to remember that God is so amazing and creative in his making of people that we'll never fully comprehend each other. ;) Still, there's joy to be found in looking into the souls of my kiddos & asking the Lord to help me give them each what they need - regardless of temperament, personality or learning style. Funny how He gives me what I need in the process.

Happy to listen to a sister talk about her babies ~ P

Julie in MN
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Re: My style versus children's style

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sat May 24, 2008 10:47 am

ChristyH wrote:One of the main things that I have learned is because it works for me doesn't mean that it will work for them.
Posted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 11:43 pm
Hi Christy,
Ah, yes, nothing like seeing the difference between eyes glazing over & eyes sparkling with understanding - to teach mom the difference, eh?!

But I still have to remind myself -- more often than I like to admit -- that just *saying* it may seem like "teaching," but rarely will it be remembered. I've explained to my kids how your brain has to decide whether something is going to be used just for the short-term and discarded (where my car is parked, what the room number is, etc.), or whether something is being used several times, in several ways, and long-term networks must be built around this piece of information. I learned this in a convention seminar. Still working on practicing it myself, tho :o)

Hope you had a nice break!

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Hands on Activities

Unread post by RBS in OH » Wed Sep 22, 2010 9:15 pm

gratitude wrote:As many of you know we have really enjoyed MFW. With Grade 1 MFW I was able to teach my ds, now 7, to read; what a relief it was! :-)

I still love MFW, but I do have one question about hands on activities. Last spring the activities went well, for the most part. I did them first last spring though instead of last, and it may be part of the reason. Science always goes well, so I am talking about activities that are not science related. My two moments last week were the bible & K hands-on activities. They love bible reading, so it isn't due to the topic. This week so far I have cut out the hands activities for smooth running. School is running smoothly this year, at last!

So my bottom line question is: What kind of benefit have you had from hands on activities? How important are they? How much should I push or not push for them? What educational value do you see them having? Can MFW be used through the History years without doing the hands on activities, or are they essential?
Hands-on activities are good for developing motor skills. And I even think its o.k. to do a portion of the activity for them, like you did, especially when they are young like yours. They can be next to you and watch and then try some themselves. This can be encouraging and help avoid frustration...and speed up the process. (Cutting out hands can be hard!)

Activities like this also reinforce a learning concept sometimes. It adds "flesh" to the "bones". They remember whats being taught because they spent extra time on that concept in another facet of learning. It sorta makes a mark in their minds--a "peg"--to "hang" later aquired knowledge or experiences to.

They also add a fun element to school (for the child; not always the parent). It's a reason to get up and move. It's a break from the usual.

Then, if it's an activity that can be displayed, put it on the side or back door entrance or the fridge. The kids love that and it gives them a chance to talk about it more.

We haven't done MFW K, so I don't know exactly what hands-on activities you're doing, but here's encouragement to do at least a few of them. I wouldn't push to do all of them , but you could choose a few that are the simplest or will add a positive aspect to their education experiences.

And remember, they don't have to be perfect (I often need that reminder) to turn out well. :)

ds(14) 8) and dd(14) ;)
We've enjoyed ADV, ECC (2 times), CTG, RTR, EX-1850, 1850-MOD--and now AHL this year!

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Re: Hands on Activities

Unread post by dhudson » Thu Sep 23, 2010 8:22 am

The hands-on activities are what the kids remember the most and because they are connected to what they have learned they remember more. One of our goals as parents is to teach our children to love learning and those hands-on activities help us do that. They also provide what I like to call, learn it, live it, touch it learning. Many kids need this kind of stimuli to remember and "get" what they are learning, kinetic learners especially.

You don't have to do all of them but pick at least one hands-on activity a day. In the long run it really will work. I have an 8th grader and twin 5th graders and they still remember many of their early elementary lessons because of the hands-on activities.
God Bless,
blessed Mom of three - 16, 13 & 13
happy user of MFW since 2002

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Hands on through elementary school??

Unread post by Buttercup78 » Fri May 25, 2012 11:38 pm

ruppster02 wrote:Hi, Im looking to use the K program next year with my daughter and it seems like it is very hands on with activities and projects. Im wondering for those of you who have been using this for awhile, if that (the hands on approach) continues through out the program or if it is just in the early years?? Thanks :)
Yes, it continues. Here's a blurb from the MFW website about hands-on activities:

  • Have you ever experienced life in arctic temperatures? Do you wonder how animals such as the penguin can withstand such chilling conditions? Students using My Father's World not only read about important concepts and places, like Antarctica, but also discover them. The Penguin Activity is one of the many fun, impacting, and simple hands-on activities scheduled into My Father's World daily lesson plans. Using just four items found in the average kitchen, and approximately 10 minutes of time, a student experiences first hand what it feels like in the bitter cold water, and discovers why a penguin can withstand these cold conditions when a human cannot. What a joyful opportunity for a parent to watch a student light up with excitement as learning jumps out of a book and becomes reality!

    We recognize school days are busy, so most projects are completed in 15-20 minutes. Expect one or two activities a week with additional suggestions marked as "optional." You will already have many of the needed materials in your home. My Father's World hands-on activities - easy and time - efficient for Mom and Dad - are designed to create learning that will last.

The activity mentioned is from ECC.
Nikki, Mom to:
R (1991) 2012 Graduate
J (2003)

S (2005)
E (2006)
J (2009)

S (2013)
E (2014)

We have used K, 1st, Adventures, ECC and CTG - Starting K with my little guys in 2019!

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Don't Skip the Fun Stuff :-) (RTR Sistine Chapel project)

Unread post by Poohbee » Fri May 03, 2013 12:29 pm

It's often tempting to skip those activities that seem like they will be a lot of work or might be messy or will take a lot of time. Well, don't skip those activities! They are the ones that add so much richness and depth to the learning.

We are in Week 30 of RTR. We read about Michelangelo today, and the suggested activity was to let the kids experience what it might have been like for Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I asked my girls to each sketch a Bible story or character. (I didn't tell them ahead of time that they would be painting them lying on their backs). :-) My oldest did a sketch of Esther and my youngest sketched the house built on the rock. I put down an old sheet and put our coffee table on top of it. I taped the pictures to the bottom of the coffee table, and my girls had to lie down on their backs to paint their pictures. They both grumbled about having to do it, but they did it, and their pictures turned out really neat! My youngest dd, who does not enjoy art, grumbled the most at the beginning, but she stuck with it, and she is really proud of how her picture turned out. They each had only primary colors, black, and white to work with, and they each mixed some colors while lying on their backs, as well.

I think they both have a better appreciation of what Michelangelo experienced. I think it will be a memorable experience for them.

I was tempted to skip it because it was going to take a bit to set up, it was going to take quite a bit of time to do, and I thought it might end up being a bit messy. But, I am so glad that I didn't skip it and that I took the extra time for this activity. If you're like me and are often tempted to skip some of those hands-on activities, I just wanted to encourage you to take the time to do them. It is well worth the time and effort in the learning and memories that result.
happily married to Vince (19 yrs)
blessed by MFW since 2006
have used every year K-1850MOD
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Re: Don't Skip the Fun Stuff :-) (RTR Sistine Chapel proje

Unread post by romans8x28 » Fri May 03, 2013 5:14 pm

Sounds like fun! (Coming from a mom who dreads getting out the paints! :-) )
Rhonda is teaching:
Girl - 9, Boy - 7, Girl - 2, Baby in September!

2011-2012 - K-1st Ed.
2012-2013 - First-1st Ed.
2013-2014 - Adventures-2nd Ed., K-2nd Ed.
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Re: Don't Skip the Fun Stuff :-) (RTR Sistine Chapel proje

Unread post by MorningSong » Sat May 04, 2013 10:02 am

Thanks for the encouragement. I probably would have skipped it since it is getting close to the end of the year and we are playing catch up, but I love these activities that get the children involved with history.

Julie in MN
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Re: Don't Skip the Fun Stuff :-) (RTR Sistine Chapel proje

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed May 08, 2013 11:49 am

Hi Jen,
When I first read your post, I remembered very well learning that lesson about not skipping the hands-on. I posted back here:
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 364#p12364

Then when I saw the photos on the other posts this morning, I remembered I have photos of Reid doing the Sistine Chapel, because I've been going thru some of my online photos recently. Here's my 11th grader over 5 years ago. Glad we took the time to have fun then, 'cause things go fast now. LOL Looks like I was being very cautious by making him lie down on the tile floor with a plastic drop cloth -- didn't remember that :)
126_4263 Reid Michelangelo smaller.jpg
126_4263 Reid Michelangelo smaller.jpg (92.53 KiB) Viewed 7853 times
126_4260 Reid michelangelo.jpg
126_4260 Reid michelangelo.jpg (96.74 KiB) Viewed 7853 times
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

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Re: Don't Skip the Fun Stuff :-) (RTR Sistine Chapel proje

Unread post by Poohbee » Wed May 08, 2013 3:40 pm

Thanks for sharing, Julie! It is fun to see those pictures of Reid and his Sistine Chapel experience. :-)
happily married to Vince (19 yrs)
blessed by MFW since 2006
have used every year K-1850MOD
2018-2019: Adventures with 9yo boy

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Re-fresher Course Needed :)

Unread post by gratitude » Wed Jul 17, 2013 10:00 pm

MelissaB wrote:When our youngest was in Kindergarten, I read the book in the curriculum called For the Sake of the Children by Susan Maccaulay. Coming from a public school background, it was very enlightening. I determined that I would do the hands-on learning, not just worksheets and reading which are necessary, too.

But that was three years ago. Since then, I've forgotten why it is so important to do hands-on. And, right now, we're not doing them. &) The reading, notebooking, timelines, etc. are getting done, but not the fun parts.

Would you remind me of the reasons how doing the hands-on projects help our children, and why they're important? I'll re-read a Charlotte Mason book, too. :) Thanks for your help!
I don't remember what Susan's book & CM exactly says for hands on; so I will share my thoughts.

I think what they give is connections that we easily remember. For some children I even think it is how they learn.

I took this past school year off from MFW for my oldest two (my third was doing MFWK). There were many elements missing without MFW, and one of those was good well thought out hands on learning. I wasn't sure I saw the point of hands on completely prior to our year without them, but after this past school year I can see how much was missing without them. We really did lack the fun memories and tangible connections without the hands on activities.

When I was in a gifted program in Junior High & High School one of the very surprising elements was large hands on projects thru 9th grade. You know to this day I remember those activities, lines to poems, and the thrilling connection I felt to Florence Nightingale through a quilt I made with her on it. I am not a hands on learner; yet it brought me connections in a meaningful way that I remember. I don't remember the long paper I had to write on Florence Nightingale, but I remember perfectly what the quilt looks like and some specifics from the books I read on her life. I think to me that is so much of what CM is really about: learning & making connections.

The hands on I have resisted teaching are actually a very meaningful way to go about making those connections. They create family memories as well. Two of my favorite family memories from ADV were the butter making & making the canoes and wigwams. My boys still talk about the home made butter they made that created sore arms and huge smiles. The fleet of canoes and wigwams took on a life of their own as the boys played for days with them acting out stories. I resisted doing both; but I wouldn't resist again now that I am realizing how well the hands on activities work and tie things together.

Julie in MN
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Re: Re-fresher Course Needed :)

Unread post by Julie in MN » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:52 pm

MelissaB wrote:Would you remind me of the reasons how doing the hands-on projects help our children, and why they're important?
Like Carin, I think it takes most of us a bit of trial & error to really get this. I remember this post http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2280 when I really "got it" that my son just learned "better" with some hands on.

I can even say that now, with my youngest heading into 12th grade, he doesn't remember all that much of what we read about over the years -- some stories, some historical events, but sadly not nearly as much as I do. However, he almost always remembers what we "did" -- specific science experiments, an art project gone bad, making Enfield bullets, etc.

I think the first-most important thing is to make contact with the information more than once, or the brain will discard it as unimportant information (by not making any strong connections to it, as I understand it). So even in high school, I tell my son that he must "do something" with what he is learning or it will just float out his other ear.

But somehow, "contact" via hands-on seems to gain further ground than just hearing another story. Maybe it's the added time spent on a hands-on project, but I also suspect younger brains are just wired by God to absorb information by *doing* for a good 10-12 years.

I'm not totally sure that Charlotte Mason spends a lot of time talking about hands-on, except in terms of outdoor exploration. She does, though, believe in short, effective lessons followed by much time for independent exploration of those lessons which often tend towards hands-on exploration at that point.

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

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Re: Re-fresher Course Needed :)

Unread post by MelissaB » Sat Aug 10, 2013 2:32 pm

Thank you both very much. Julie, thank you for the link. It's full of great reminders. !! :)

With your encouragement, we're doing our hands-on activities more regularly. Gratitude is right ... The worksheets are important, but they aren't what the children remember. The hands-on activities are what they remember, and they help them retain what we're learning better than anything else we do.

Plus, they enjoy them. And I really need to remember to laugh with our girls... The To-Do list is too long; the time is too short.

Thank you, again!

In Christ's Love & Joy & Strength & Peace,
Melissa B.
Melissa B. (Arkansas)
Girls ages 16 & 13
Completed K, 1st, and Investigate {ECC; CTG; RTR; Expl.-1850; and 1850-Mod. Times}
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,.." Titus 2:4

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