Oh how I love to prep my curriculum for the school year! Call me nerdy, but I do actually enjoy it!
There are so many fun ways to organize ECC, and what I’ve found to be true is that everyone does their own setup a little bit differently. The internet is chock full of wonderful ideas, and I gleaned my organization from multiple sources.
I’m going to break this down into my top five tips for organizing ECC.
1. Bind the student sheets in advance.
This tip is not going to be for everyone. If you can’t.even. with thinking things through in advance, then this won’t be for you. I followed a fellow MFW mom’s tips, which she shared in the Facebook group for ECC. Y’all. That resource is a WELLSPRING of information! I found so many things that I loved from the Facebook group, but the whole binding books for my kids was absolutely my favorite thing I did. My kids loved having a “science” book, and a “geography” book. And the best part? I didn’t have paper everywhere!
My first investment for this was purchasing a coil binder. This has been the best investment! I used it so much in my prep for the school year this past year, and look forward to using it for years to come. I researched coil binding vs. comb binding, and ultimately I think it is a personal preference thing… I liked the idea of the coil binder the best.
Here’s how I divided the student sheets…
Geography: I purchased these plastic dividers to divide their geography books by continent. It grew into a fairly large book, so I am glad that I was able to keep it streamlined this way. I split all of the student sheets up based on what they were. I also went through the teacher’s manual and followed their “preparation” page for each country/continent and made copies out of the other books that come with the curriculum for each country we were studying. I kept everything in the same order for each continent to make sure everything stayed nice and uniform for them. Again, I will say how glad I am that I did this!
Note, for each country introduced, the first page I put for each country was the John 3:16 page in that country’s language.
Science: The student sheets that were for science, I put in order by the week numbers on each sheet. I also went through and added a blank notebooking page where it would be needed in order, for any time the Living World Encyclopedia book was assigned and there wasn’t already a sheet for it. Another resource outside of MFW’s student sheets that I found for this book, was from the website Exploring Nature. They have a lot of awesome resources, particularly some work sheets and coloring pages for each ecosystem and its food web. My kids love filling sheets like this out so it was a wonderful addition to our studies, as well as the coloring pages!
For this book, I also incorporated MamaJenn’s notebooking pages for the vocabulary words in the Geography from A to Z book. I went ahead and put everything in the order we’d be studying it, without any dividers. I sort of wish I would have gotten another set of the tabbed dividers to separate this science book out differently, but I still like the book as it is.
Bible: This was a separate book entirely, comprised completely of the MamaJenn printables. She has a set of copy work pages for the memory verses, which have been wonderful! We had nice pages for the memory verses when we did Adventures in U.S. History last year, so it was nice to be able to incorporate a pre-made memory verse copy work page in this year’s curriculum as well.
The other great resource that MamaJenn has are pages for the Hero Tales book that you use throughout the year. Each “hero” has different character traits, and in the ECC teacher’s manual they encourage you to write the character trait down and illustrate each portion of the hero’s story that embodies that character trait. The printables have each character trait and its definition across the top, a blank space for illustration and lines at the bottom for your student to copy the character trait info. These have been a wonderful part of our Bible time!
2. Destination board.
So this was something I picked up from another ECC mom on Instagram… I of course made it my own, but the idea came from her! So thank you to @pure_hearts_academy for your inspiration!
I made my destination board with a cork board, some dollar store letters, colored computer paper, velcro dots, and my laminator. I decided on four “features” for my board to highlight in each country: the flag, a landmark, the food, and the people. I spent time Google image searching to find the right images for each country. Once I did that, I printed everything out and laminated it. Each of the four “features” has a velcro dot, as well as each picture for each “feature” for all of the countries. For example… here is my USA board:
I bought my ECC used, and with it came a set of all of the flags already laminated. For USA, my landmark was the Statue of Liberty, for food I had a picture of a burger and French fries, and for the “people” I tried to find pictures of kids from each country. Here’s another example, this one was for France:
3. The geography game.
Not much to share here, just that I found it helpful to laminate the game boards in advance so they’d hold up… the geography game has become a favorite activity for my kids this school year. I can totally see this game being one we break out and do outside of just ECC! Another suggestion I have is to get yourself some transparent counting chips like these. I had them already, but they’ve been perfect for this activity.
Another idea from the ECC Facebook group, this has been another favorite for my kids (and me!). Whenever we begin our studies in a new country, we “fly” to that country. I found a website where you can even print your own fake boarding passes which was really fun in the beginning but this is not something that I have kept up on as we’ve gone through the school year (I kept forgetting to do it in advance and it felt silly to make them wait to start the day for the boarding passes to print!). On a day where we are beginning a new country, we turn our school room into our pretend airplane. I do a little bit of work in advance and make a playlist on YouTube of videos for that country. I start with an airline safety video for whichever airline would be appropriate (i.e., when we “flew” from France to Germany I found one from Air France). The kids really enjoy this… the next video on the playlist is a window view of an airplane taking off from whichever airport we are departing, followed by their “in-flight movie”… a.k.a., information on whichever country we are flying to next!
Some of our favorite videos have come from Geography Now (a little over their heads at times but the guy who does these is pretty funny) and National Geographic Kids’ Are We There Yet? series. I also have found a virtual tour of some of the bigger landmarks for some countries (Eiffel Tower, Great Wall of China, etc.). I do have some stuff saved on my YouTube channel, and will do my best to update it with the videos we actually enjoyed.
Out of all of the things that I have done that I have added in to our studies (that has not necessarily been prescribed in the teacher’s manual), this has been the crowd favorite week after week. My kids LOVE this, so much so that my three- and five-year olds have to sit in with us when we “fly” and have learned quite a bit from doing so! While we are “in the air”, I have tried to facilitate a special “in-flight snack”, which leads me to my last point…
5. Try to eat food/snacks from every country that you study!
My kids have thoroughly enjoyed trying foods from all of these countries! We had plantain chips from Mexico, maple candies from Canada, Brazi cheese bites (thank you Costco) for Brazil, orange marmalade on French bread while in France, German chocolate, animal crackers when we studied Kenya (because there are no places within a 200 mile radius from here that sold Kenyan snacks!), and beyond.
The teacher’s manual gives some ideas for recipes/treats from each of these countries as you go, but I found more enjoyment out of finding recipes and meal ideas on Pinterest for some of these countries. We did not do all of them… everything from Kenya looked less than appetizing, lol… but we have made a concerted effort to make a meal from every country. I will share our meals from each one as I blog through our school year, but I would encourage you to look further than the teacher’s manual for recipe ideas. I have some pinned on my ECC board, organized by country, if you’re interested!
More info on each country, and what we did, will be shared as I blog the year!