Prep and Use of MFW Exploration to 1850

As you probably already know as a homeschool mom, each year changes and grows. It grows away from what doesn't work for your family and changes until you've found a system that really works for you. (Or until you get bored with it.)

Everyone is always looking for ideas for preparing and using their curriculum. I'd love to offer some ideas. These ideas can be used with any year of MFW. We use My Father's World family cycle and are in the 4th level: Exploration to 1850 for students in 2nd -8th grade. We are exploring the New World with Leif Ericsson, Christopher Columbus, and more. We are discovering the amazing story of the U.S. from colonial times to the California gold rush; and learning about the courage and faith of many who came to America.


First I sort out the contents of the box and check it against the list in the first few pages of the teacher’s manual to make sure all of the books are accounted for. I refresh my memory of how it all works in the “Preparation” pages. After I get the feel for it all, I start organizing. (I LOVE organizing!)


Teacher's Grid

This year I decided to do somthing different from what I did with RTR (covering the grid with a plastic sheet protector inside the teacher's manual--see that post here.) This year I decided to copy the grid (which I hadn't known was permitted) and put it in a separate planner/grade book.

What I wanted was to make those boxes that say "English, Spelling, Math" and some others to go away. It annoyed me that they would always be blank because I'm keeping track of 5 children's lessons and it's not enough room. (See the "Homemade Lesson Planner" post for more info.) So I made a lesson planner with separate areas for each of my children. Then I leave a space to cut out the copied teacher's grid and cut off the boxes I never use. (I've been using it for months now and it is STILL working!)

Organize the Mass of Books

Last year I used a hanging file drawer for all my books and materials. It totally worked for us (except we got rid of that desk with the handy file drawer. (Side note: I ended up spending nearly $100 on a file cabinet during the "office equipment off season." They totally went on sale in January and I could have spent half as much!) 

So I organize all of my books according to subject in my file drawer. I am in the "lovely" habit of putting them away as soon as I finish the subject. So our tables stay clean and neat. My mom taught me a way of keeping stuff picked up with the idea to "touch things only once." Don't read the book, set it on the table "near" the drawer, where I will forget about it and then have to touch it again and put it away, or even worse forget that it should be put away and it becomes part of a pile and is shuffled from one side of the desk to another.

But I should read the book, turn and put it away as soon as I am done. (i.e. Open the can of soup, pour in bowl and throw can away as soon as it is empty.)  Thanks mom for your wisdom.

Organize Student Sheets

Last year I just kept all the student sheets in one fat folder in the drawer. This year I needed it a little more organized so that I could include worksheets from other subjects for each of the children. (This has helped me not forget to pass out the spelling or grammar worksheets on the appropriate day because even though I have it written on the lesson plans, if it isn't right in front of my face... ummm, I forget it.)

I have to make my system automatic and absolutely "mom-brain" proof.

I took the organizational idea from MFW K using 36 file folders for the year and organized all the student sheets by the week. I even went as far as putting paper clips on each day's work so that they wouldn't get messy in the folder when I added spelling or grammar worksheets for all of them.

When I get to that week in the curriculum, I pull out the folder and stick it in the back of my lesson planner for instant access.

Portfolio "Keep it" File

I also am still using an extra hanging file for all of those completed projects that will go in their school portfolios. Check out our version of a school portfolio, since we don't live in a state that requires any records. I'm just a scrapbooker at heart and want the kids to have a keepsake when they are done.

The MFW Community

The last thing I did was read through the archives on a couple different sites and write down a list of ideas, supplements, field trips, videos, etc that other's have talked about. Whether about history, or science or even art, I made a list of the ones I was most likely to do. (There isn't much in the way of field trips around here for the colonial times.) But check out my next post on the ideas I found (and used) Ideas and Extras for MFW's Exploration to 1850.

If you are using My Father's World, or will be soon, here is a list of MFW links to others who use the curriculum and have FANTASTIC ideas and advice. So you know you're not alone. :)

MFW Message Boards:

Community led, not created by MFW itself:

MFW Families Yahoo Group:

MFW Families Facebook Page:

MFW Workboxes Facebook Page:!/groups/152901414846322/
MFW Exp to 1850 Facebook Page:!/groups/124871684276158/
*This facebook page isn't super active, but they do have cool stuff in the files.

My Father's World Blog Roll (To find other bloggers using MFW)

Using MFW Family Cycle

I love when a curriculum can be used on autopilot. I don't have to worry about stuff I needed to print, bookmark, highlight, etc. MFW has it all together and preparing it well, helps a lot. After 3 years into their Family Cycle I am still loving this curriculum. I have had my fair share of curriculum bombs and switched for sanity's sake. I know there have been many who have given up on MFW and gone to Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace or other similiar programs. But for us... MFW is working and working well.

I love that in the family cycle I am using one core curriculum for the majority of kids. (Except K & 1st grade and high school.) Currently I have a 7th, 6th, 4th , 2nd grader and kindergartener. The only one who isn't "technically" in the program is my Ker. (But truth be told, she sits with us during it, and by golly, she learns bits and pieces. It's so cute.)

Next year we will use the last level of the Family Cycle (1850 to Modern Times) and I'm looking forward to repeating the entire cycle after that. I already have a taste for the schedule, the activities, and everything. I will be a real pro!

Check out my next post on Ideas and Extras for MFW's Exploration to 1850.