Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Work Plans for the Week of September 8: Air Raids and Volcanoes

Last week was one of those "If you're homeschoolers, why are you never home?" weeks. We had a fine day in Louisville, Kentucky, another fine day at the Indianapolis Zoo (visiting the cheetah exhibit less than 48 hours before one of the cheetahs escaped!), and a VERY fine afternoon at the lake with friends:

In between, we spent our rare schooldays at home with World War 2, Hawaiian, coordinate grids--

--and tadpole identification (Will says that we've got either of these two similar species). Here's a picture of the froglet, taken with our USB microscope:

This week, we're spending a little more time at home, or at least, that's the plan--funny how easily plans can change when Adventure awaits!

Memory work for the week includes finishing up Lesson 1 of Mango Hawaiian, which is as far as we'll go with the language (we can greet each other and we've experienced how it feels to hear and speak Hawaiian, which is good enough for me!), reviewing the tones of spoken Mandarin (the kids are starting their Chinese language class again in a couple of weeks), memorizing the eight major Hawaiian islands, and spelling/vocab. Books of the Day include more books on caves, one more book on butterflies, a random living book on New York City for Syd, and a book on Big Questions in science for Will.

And here's our week!

TUESDAY: Will is contentedly flying through her Math Mammoth unit on graphing, but Syd stalled out last week on her big numbers unit, when she was asked to apply what she knows about rounding to them. She muddled herself up so much that it's clear that she hasn't really mastered the concept, so I'm using two math lessons this week to so thoroughly review the concept that it just can't be made any clearer. I'll be modeling my lessons on these wonderfully thorough plans, although incorporating a hundred chart a little more into our work, and adding a game, because games are fun.

The foreign language classes for children at our local university are starting again in a couple of weeks, and I plan to have the kids repeat Beginning Mandarin--I took a peek at the lesson plans for Intermediate Mandarin, and I think my two need another go-round of the beginner's class before advancing. But this time in Beginning Mandarin, I understand much more of what I need to do to support the kids' learning, starting with this online lesson and game on recognizing the tones.

I still haven't found a grammar curriculum that I love, and the kids' lack of it shows (yesterday, Will couldn't remember what a comma is called, although I assure you that she does know how to use it). I have, however, found a spelling/vocabulary curriculum that I could love. I interlibrary loaned it, photocopied the first two chapters of each kid's level, and if they seem to absorb the information from it, I'll purchase it. There are five lessons in each chapter, so the children will be required to finish the first chapter on their own this week as part of their memory work, with the proviso that they can ask me for a spelling test at any time, a perfect score on which will allow them to be done with the chapter early.

The kids are longing to go back to the lake this week, and we should probably do it today, since this is supposed to be our last 90-degree day of the year, but we also enjoy our homeschool group's Tuesday Park Day--ah, well! Perhaps we'll squeeze the beach in afterwards, or perhaps we'll just shiver on Friday.

WEDNESDAY: Our enrichment activity for the 1940 events of World War 2 is a live-action air raid! During the day, the kids will explore this BBC Schools' online unit on air raids, and this online map of the London Blitz, and on this evening, after Syd gets home from ballet, we'll take a picnic dinner, a deck of cards, and flashlights and candles down to the root cellar, where we'll spend an hour or so passing the time while having to listen to an air raid siren. I'm guessing it won't be as fun as live-action trench warfare, but hopefully it'll still be memorable.

The kids loved making stained glass designs with translucent pattern blocks on a light table at the Children's Museum so much that I made a mental note to repeat the activity at home. I *think* it'll work to have them trace their pattern block patterns onto black cardstock, and then I'll cut the pattern out with an x-acto knife so that they can use the template on our light table. It's been a while since we've played with pattern blocks at home, so hopefully the kids will enjoy this hands-on math and art activity!

THURSDAY: Every time I return how-to-draw books to the library and then check them out again a few weeks later, the kids are always completely re-immersed in them. They're great especially for Will, who has little confidence in her artistic abilities and will refer to Syd as "the artist." Thanks to our last session with how-to-draw books, however, she now happily draws lovely, creative dragons and dinosaurs all over everything. This particular activity, then, not only fills a requirement of the Junior Drawing badge and the Cadette Comic Artist badge, but will perhaps open up her drawing into new avenues.

Our study of Hawaii is focusing on volcanoes now, in preparation for the time that I want to spend in Hawaii at Volcanoes National Park and hopefully hiking out to see the lava flow. This BrainPop video and accompanying worksheets provide a good overview, so that we can delve more deeply into the subject next week.

FRIDAY: Today, Syd and I will work on rounding to tens; on Friday, I want to repeat the same activities with her, but this time with hundreds and thousands. If she's still confused about rounding, then, in her unit review in Math Mammoth next week, we'll move on, anyway, and revisit it the next time the subject comes up. But I hope she's not still confused!

I've clearly abandoned the idea of "Independent Work Friday;" my hopes that the children would use that opportunity to work ahead and have Friday free didn't ever pan out, so it's too much trouble to specially plan independent work just in hopes of that. Nevertheless, they've both enjoyed the chance to test out or revisit an educational app on the ipad on this day, and since it encourages them to try new things that aren't necessarily in our curriculum right now, I'm continuing it, as well as continuing having Will choose which ipad apps each child uses--that's one of the ways that she promised to help me with lesson plans, after I agreed to switch to a five-day work week as she desired. This Friday's app is a quite sophisticated music composition tool, and I'm eager to see what each kid does with it. I think this is one app that they won't decide to delete at the end of their play!

I don't remember how we originally got onto the subject, but I showed the kids a few online pics of the fake animal head plaques--dragon heads, unicorn heads, etc.--that people make for their walls, and they were super into it, so I put it on our to-do list. This day is as good a day as any to begin!

At the zoo on Friday, I was delighted that when Will spied a bee, she got excited and insisted that we photograph it for the bee citizen scientist program that we did last month. This time, I'll be combining their submission work with a bee anatomy worksheet, and some comparative bee anatomy using this bees of the world book.

As I write my round-up, I'm just now noticing that our week is heavy on hands-on arts and craft-type activities. Will can get very impatient with these if she sees a shortcut or doesn't see the relevance, but I feel like these particular ones are interest-led, so hopefully she'll be able to immerse herself in each one the way that Syd so easily can.

As for me, I'll be spending my week planning out our Hawaii itinerary in more detail, researching a geology study to connect to our volcanoes unit, planning a couple of Girl Scout meetings and activities, working on patterns for mermaid tail and shark blankets, writing several writing assignments, and completing a couple of outstanding etsy orders.

Oh, and sewing Syd a full Fluttershy costume. From scratch. By next week.

Stay tuned!

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