Ideas and Extras for MFW's Exploration to 1850

We used the history portion pretty much the way it is written. The only exception was omitting a few notebook pages on random world events. But before I started, I scoured the MFW online community to find ideas of field trips, activities, etc.

As I found cool things to fit in different weeks of the program, I wrote it on a sticky note and placed it in my teacher's guide. If there was something I needed to order (like a dissection kit, or tadpoles) I placed a sticky note weeks before to remind myself to order it.

So here are the ideas I found according to subject: (A few are already listed in the teacher's manual)


  • James memory verses on Power Point
    I created a Power Point presentation to flash through reading the verses every day. I was ambitious about memorizing all of James, but honestly only got through the first 2 chapters.
  • The Book of James put to music:
    Rote Radio (I didn't use this. You have to sign up to use their streaming music player.) But it is an interesting idea to have the book of James set to music.


  • Video: Liberty's Kids
    I couldn't find these videos on Netflix and it was annoying to watch only sections of it on YouTube, so I found it on Amazon for a reasonable price for the whole set.
  • Story of the World Activity Book
    I bought this thinking I would use it all the time, but the truth is that MFW student sheets are enough. I only really copied coloring pages for the younger kids and picked a few projects to do. (For example I used the project for the 3 branches of government and put it on MFW's student sheet.)


Animal Study

  • Bulletin Board Animal Classification
    The first half of the year for science is the study of animals. I have a large bulletin board in our homeschool area and decided to document the animals we see with our own eyes, in person. So my goal was to catch a glimpse of as many animals as possible, take a picture, print it and stick it on our board. So I took them anywhere we could to see animals.

    One form of this idea came from Confessions of a Homeschooler. I printed her handy labels to put the animals in their species groups. (Check out her Animal Classification Unit and the labels in that PDF.)

    (This picture of me reading history, is the only one I could find with the bulletin board of animals. The top banner says Animal Kingdom, and under it there are white strips with the classification names and all the animals we've seen.)
  • Owl Pellet Dissection (Week 6)
    We got an owl pellet to disect from our local wildlife center. This can also be ordered from Amazon,, or other website.
  • VIRTUAL Owl Pellet Dissection
    This is for the faint at heart who can't bear to touch dead things. It uses flash, so you probably can't do it on a tablet. But it is fabulous.
  • Aquarium Field Trip (Week 7) or a if you live near the coast visit a Marine center.
  • Frog Hatchery (Week 8)
  • Tortoise Habitat (Week 9) We live in southern Georgia and tortoises are prevalent, so we borrowed one that we found crossing the road for a week. We had a plastic baby pool, we put a mound of dirt in the middle and filled water around the outside. We'd give him fresh leaves and veggies and watch him. The kids called him "Spike." Then we let him go where we found him.
  • Butterfly Kits (Week 11)
  • Earth Worms in a jar experiment from MFW 1st Grade (Week 13)
    Fill a jar with alternating layers of soil and sand, spraying each layer with water. Add 5-6 worms, cover top layer with dry leaves. Cover entire jar with dark cloth to simulate underground. After a few das look at the jar and see the tunnels. (From book "Things Outdoors" page 16-17) 

One thing we changed for Botany was when we started. I pushed it back about 4 weeks so that it would be over the spring instead of the entire winter. (We start school in July and on the schedule it would have started us in Dec.)

  • Homemade Journal
    Next, instead of using the same 3-ring binder for the animals, I decided to have them make homemade botany journals. I borrowed a roll of brown paper (my mother used it for shipping packages) and cut out a handful of pages for each kid. (I was going to just use paper bags from a grocery store until my mom came up with the roll.) We secured the pages together with yarn in case we need to add more pages later.

    I let them write right on the brown page, or cut out pieces of construction paper and write the title of the page on them. They staple their leaves right to the page. Or glue little apple seeds to it. I wanted it to look less like a workbook and more like a craft project.
  • Help plant the family garden
    We start our seeds in late February and put them into the ground in early April. They will be responsible throughout the summer to weed and water. Great hands on experience and exercise.

We have really enjoyed doing MFW Exploration to 1850. One thing we haven't done yet is Write a State Report. I will share how we did ours afterwards in a separate post.