Tuesday, January 7, 2020

MFW ECC: What's different this time around?

I am so excited to go through Exploring Countries and Cultures again. The last time my kids were so little -- 3rd grade and Kindergarten. And now they are in 5th and 8th grades! They have grown so much over the past five years.

As I began to think about our plan for this year, I realized two things: 1) my gifted eldest child remembers just about everything we covered in ECC the first time, and 2) my younger one hasn't had many of the basics that ECC covers. So I was faced with a dilemma -- how do I adjust ECC to suit the very different needs of both children? How do I shift the focus for my 8th grader to aspects of ECC that she hadn't spent time on before (such as types of governments, imports and exports, etc.) while also taking my younger child through the more foundational information that he missed when he was just a kindergartener?  ECC is designed to be parent-led, family learning, with a supplement for 7th and 8th grade. But I came to the conclusion that I need to deconstruct it even further and divide up which lessons and assignments are suitable for each child. We will end up doing less together and more independently, but I think it will work out well in the end.

Imagine for a moment, sitting down with the ECC teacher's manual, a pair of scissors, and a glue stick. Cut apart each week and paste the assignments onto three separate sheets -- one for work we do together, one for independent work for my 8th grader, and one for my 5th grader (who will still require my involvement). That's essentially what I did, only I did it digitally instead of literally cutting up  my manual. I designed a lesson planner for the year that divided up every day's assignments into these three categories. I pruned, paired back, and simplified. I appointed certain tasks to one child alone, other tasks to both of them separately, and still others to be done together as a group. It was a lot of work! But now I feel confident that the needs of both children will be met and, Lord willing, our year should run smoothly.

In considering the interests and personalities of my children, I did some ruthless culling of the scheduled assignments in ECC. Some things I cut out entirely as depicted in the image above. Here's a brief summary.

Bible: I bought the newly released edition of Window on the World to replace the one we used last time through ECC. It was already dated then and with five more years of changes taking place in the world, I decided the upgrade was well deserved. The only changes to scheduling I did here was to update page numbers to match the new book, and revise some of the people group names (for example what was previously listed as Gypsies is now listed as Romani).

This time around we will be skipping Hero Tales and the accompanying character traits. They were wonderful for my eldest when we did ECC before, but she still remembers the stories well, and my youngest has heard many of them through other years of MFW by now as well.

The only other change we're doing for Bible is a more in depth study of the book of Matthew. I have been preparing study notes for the whole book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse to take the place of the scheduled readings. We will most likely progress at a slightly different pace as we dig deep into this gospel, but I am very excited about the prospect!

Supplemental Math: ECC is now sold with a Currency Kit, but when we bought it six years ago, that was not offered. If I already had it on hand, I might incorporate it somehow, but since I don't have it I didn't feel it was important to buy it. We do have the Fast Facts and have used them for quite a number of years. I don't think further math drill will be necessary for my 8th grader; and my 5th grader gets bogged down with the handwriting aspect of the Fast Facts, so he will be drilling facts using an app or flashcards or some other method(s).

Science: It was just the year before last that we went through a study of zoology in Exploration to 1850, so we will be minimizing that side of things this year and focusing more on the ecology side. Both kids will do the Properties of Ecosystems lessons, but only the 5th grader will do lessons from Living World Encyclopedia. My 8th grader will also be working on a high school level anatomy & physiology course from Master Books.

World Geography: Our first time through ECC we did not use the worksheets from Exploring World Geography since they were a bit advanced for my kiddos. This time, however, I have a copy for each child. But here's where I start to wander away from MFW a bit: I have added pages from several other geography workbooks in addition to the ones MFW sells. These are all available at Carson-Dellosa, but don't pay full price! They have several amazing sales throughout the year where you can get them for half price or less.

The Complete Book of Maps & Geography
Map Reading Skills
Discovering the World of Geography Grade 5-6
Discovering the World of Geography Grade 7-8
World Governments

Hands-On Activities and Crafts: When we did ECC before we went all in on the activities, crafts, and art projects. Border crossings, costumes, dances, songs, traditional drinks, whole meals, desserts, handicrafts, and more. It was so much fun! But my kids are older now and have no interest in all that. They're not so much into imaginative play and prefer to get their school work done so they can go do other things that interest them. And I'm okay with that! I'm so thankful that we did as much as we could our first time through.  So this time we'll skip the sticker flag book and the "border crossings" with passports to be stamped. We will use some pages from the two Trip Around the World books, but will likely skip most of the activities, projects, and recipes. (I consider Maps & Globes and Geography From A to Z to be a key part of our geography study, so those stay).

Art & Music: Dabbling in art and music is pretty much a way of life around here. Last time we took some of the chintzy projects and improved them with quality materials and techniques (an example being the Rosemaling project which directs you to paint a cardboard paper box, but we opted to use nice wooden boxes from the craft store). But this time those activities don't appeal to my kids as much, so we will be skipping both the Wee Sing songs and Global Art. We'll keep the origami book though...because who doesn't love a little origami now and then?

So that's the basic breakdown of what we're doing differently than our first time through ECC. In my next post, I'll share more about what else we're using this year and how I'm implementing the popular "morning basket" method.


  1. I always love and when you share your goings-on. This has very literally been on my mind lately, among other things, and so I'm so glad to have noticed your best post!

    I also look forward to hearing about your morning basket. I've been praying about out own daily routine so, as always, the lropect of hearing another person's take on it is exciting.

    1. Oh my goodness. Please forgive my many typos.

      Should read: "your newest post" and "the prospect of hearing"

  2. Thank you so much for sharing! This will be the second time around for my son and I as well, and as usual, I love your ideas. We implemented a morning time this year (1850 to Modern) and intend to continue do so with ECC. I think ECC lends itself well to a morning time with Windows on the World; Character training and Bible Study. I’ll just have to figure out what to use for character training as my son has been through Hero Tales a couple of times. I’m thinking an attributes of God Study. We don’t start until Fall so I have time. Thank you again for being so willing to share your hard work.