Monday, February 17, 2014

Work Plans for the Week of February 17, 2014: Birds, Biathlons, and a Biography

Right now, it's 47 minutes past the time that I intended to start school for the day, but the kids are wildly romping together so happily--I believe that one of them is a dog trainer and the other is a disobedient dog--that there's no way I'm going to disturb them. One of the main reasons why I started homeschooling, after all, is that I realized one day, years ago, that even though my kids' Montessori boasted three-year classrooms, so that my kindergartner and my youngest grouper could go to school together every day, the next year would mean that not only would my older kid move up to SEVEN hours of school a day, but also my kids would be in separate classrooms for the next two years.

My six-year-old didn't need seven hours of school every day.

My six-year-old and four-year-old didn't need to spend the majority of every day apart from each other.

I pulled the kids out of private school and into homeschooling for many academic and social and political reasons, but I never let myself forget that among those reasons is the opportunity for these sisters to be together, and so when they're playing together (and miraculously not screaming at or kicking each other!), I let them play.

So here's what we WILL do when they're tired out and their game is through, or when they start screaming at or kicking each other, which is as good a time as any to pause play:

MONDAY: The kids and their father participated in the Great Backyard Bird Count yesterday, and had a marvelous time, so for today they'll be filling out one of these journal pages for a more in-depth study of one of the birds that they spotted. We haven't studied birds (other than chickens, of course!) in a lot of detail yet, so I'm curious to see if the kids would like to learn more. Bird watching is such a rewarding hobby that I'd be happy to see the kids develop a love of it.

The kiddos are still progressing at a rate of one unit a day, three days a week, in Math Mammoth, but I noticed this weekend that Syd seemed to have trouble remembering how to subtract with borrowing, so we'll be playing Clear the Mat for our hands-on math enrichment activity this week. Syd loves to play games over and over and over again, so I foresee plenty of reinforcement in her future!

Will's reluctance to learn her current song prompted me to ask her if she'd lost interest in the recorder, but her replies that she LOOOOOVES the recorder were loud and fervent, so perhaps that will inspire her to finally get that darn song learned! Syd really loves her Youtube keyboard lessons, so much so that figuring out how to progress after they're finished is a constant worry. A piano plus piano lessons is too much of an investment for our budget this year (dinosaur digs and horseback riding lessons are pricey, alas...), so I'll need to figure out a way to soldier on without. Unfortunately, Matt, who is the only one of us who actually took piano lessons as a child, is claiming 100% ignorance and refusing to be of any help whatsoever (Thanks, Matt!), so you may find me teaching myself keyboard so that I can teach my kid. Don't worry, though--I do stuff like that a lot.

The kids are bringing their chicken skeleton into our weekly volunteer gig today, because they're pretty sure that everyone who stops by is really going to want to see it. Will plans to station herself next to the skeleton on display so that she can answer all those eager questions that are sure to come her way. We even did some role-playing, with me playing the curious person asking questions, and Will answering them in her best pedantic tone (She used to come with me sometimes to my classes when I taught freshman comp at the university, and I REALLY hope that she did not pick up that tone from me!). How I hope that someone is genuinely interested and wants to ask her questions!

TUESDAY: We're back to our volunteer gig on this day, since the girls have an actual "meeting" about their Girl Scout service project. I can't wait to see how this is going to go.

We've been casually enjoying the Olympics, mostly watching it streaming online as we go about our daily business, but the Olympic athlete profile and Olympic nation profile in this Olympics unit study will let the kids focus in on it academically one more time before it's over. There's so much curriculum material available that you really could study nothing but the Olympics for the entire two weeks, but I tried to zero in on the activities that required the kids to practice the concrete academic skills that I'm wanting them to practice right now (here, research methods!), and otherwise we're just spectators.

There are a few children's academic contests going on this time of year. Some, such as a local playwriting contest and a poster-making contest, I passed over for this year (although I did start researching and writing a History of the Theater unit study...), but others, such as a local contest asking for a biography of an African-American inventor, and the PBS Kids writer's contest, I'm definitely going to have them enter. Academic research and creative writing? You bet!

WEDNESDAY: I'm a little afraid, especially with that meeting in the morning, that there might be too much work scheduled for Tuesday, so I'm planning that we can finish any leftovers on Wednesday, along with horseback riding class and aerial silks. Otherwise, there's plenty of time for playing dog trainer and disobedient dog!

THURSDAY: I think the kids will be pleased to discover, on the other hand, that this day is light even for a light day! They're going to enjoy their endangered species art project (part of another contest), which will also segue nicely into the beginning of our study of Indiana, since the endangered animal must be local. I wish, now, though, that I'd put this project off for a couple of weeks--I deleted the kids' independent studies from the schedule to accommodate it, but Syd and I actually really need to keep working on her fashion show garment! This is the last week that we can keep goofing around with thrift stores, and then we have GOT to get sewing, whether Syd finds the perfect green sequined fabric or not.

FRIDAY: We've studied Indiana before, but we're going to refresh our memories about our home state, and add some more context (state history, probably, and definitely Native Americans) before we move on to Arkansas and then the west.

We mostly listen to podcasts just for fun, but since Syd often asks to listen to fairy tales or audiobooks while we work on projects, I finally got the idea to pull up a relevant podcast for us to listen to while we work on a  project. The particular podcast that we'll be listening to while the kids make Sumerian seals (we saw some of these at the Rosicrucian Museum, and I am excited to have the kids try their hands at making their own) is from What You Missed in History Class. It only mentions necrophilia obliquely.

I think the kids will enjoy this winter sports sudoku, and they're eager to write to their grandmother, if perhaps only because they want her to send them more film for the cameras that she gave them for Christmas.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: This weekend is going to be a busy one! There's a Girl Scout event each day, and Will has both chess club and rehearsal for her Spring Ice Show. But IF the weather warms up like it's supposed to, it should be a wonderful weekend for shuttling kids around and otherwise playing outside in the sun!


Tina said...

We love bird watching. We've started making our own suet from the coconut oil we have left after making chips or fries and some bird seed. The birds here love it!

So, I thought I had written a blog post about the bird feeders Emma has made 100% on her own out of 1/2 gallon milk cartons. Turns out I just imagined writing the post. I did post a picture on facebook...

julie said...

Emma has got to write a tutorial for those bird feeders, because they are awesome!

Tina said...

She actually took all the pictures. Tomorrow's school work perhaps?


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