I am SO excited to get back to our weekly work plans! For all of February and the first half of March, I did daily plans, written on a dry erase board each morning for each kid. Daily plans are great for zipping through our math curriculum and progressing on projects like our big World Thinking Day presentation on China, but for the more thoughtful, project-based learning that I prefer for the kids, it's really best to plan a week at a time ahead of time, with my unit study lesson plans at hand.
I've dialed back on the assigned chores a little bit this week, just to see if I can get a little less pushback, that way, when I ask the kids to help me with something on the fly, rather than their typical response of "Help you clean the living room? That's not on my work plan!" I also don't have a Project of the Week assigned--Syd, especially, LOVES the Project of the Week, but it adds significant chaos to the schedule, so I thought that I'd just give us a week to get settled back into our routine, maybe get some extra work done on STEM Fair projects first. It's also our school district's Spring Break, so we'll enjoy a little vacation from most of our extracurriculars--I appreciate the break!
I don't have to temptingly strew a sensory material this week, either, as Syd got extremely invested in Kapla block play late last week, and has done a good job strewing those around our big family room, herself, and of drawing everyone else into her play. I anticipate gingerly picking my way around her Kapla block village for the entirety of this week.
This week's memory work consists of the vocabulary words from Wordly Wise and Mandarin vocabulary from the kids' Mandarin class. Books of the Day are pretty widespread in topic this week, with selections including a couple about puberty, a couple about China, one on global water issues, a couple about random animals, and a couple on the American Revolution. I assign them as randomly as I select them, as they're just books that I think that the children should read and/or might like, with no other overarching reason for reading them.
And here's the rest of our week!
MONDAY: Thanks to Daylight Savings Time, the kids are still asleep. They also may be sleeping in because of last night's "incident:" Will was displeased that Matt took her tablet away from her at the end of screen-time yesterday, so to get revenge she programmed it to go off with an alarm at 1 am, knowing that we generally keep all confiscated electronics on the table next to our bed, the better to thwart children who try to sneak them back. When the alarm went off, I bolted awake with my heart in my mouth, as did Matt. Unfortunately, he could not figure out how to turn off the damned thing, so he marched it into the kids' bedroom, woke up Will, and demanded that she turn it off. Extra unfortunately, Will had not only set some sort of password to access the alarm, which she groggily had to try to remember while it blared and Matt shouted at her, but apparently she'd also set the alarm so that you could only turn it off by completing a math problem, which she then had to try to do while it continued blaring and Matt continued shouting. She couldn't solve the problem, so she tried to Google it, still with blaring, still with shouting. The entire incident took so long that across the house, I kept drowsing off, then waking up again to the blaring and shouting, then drowsing off again, etc.
It was not our family's finest moment.
Anyway, when the kids do finally wake up, I'll make them egg sandwiches, then we'll settle in for Wordly Wise, cursive, and hopefully History of Us before our volunteer shift at the local food pantry today. History of Us is the spine that I'm using for our American Revolution unit study, although we're zooming through the book on the founding of the colonies first, for context. I've told you that I'm very project-focused, so you won't be surprised that even zooming comes with projects. I plan to visit Salem on our American Revolution road trip, and although I doubt that I'll take the children to any witch-related tourist traps there, I would like to take them to the real Gallows Hill, Old Burying Point, and the memorial to the victims of the witch trials, and I'd like them to understand the context.
And, fine, we might find a gift shop and buy a little bit of witch-themed crap.
Each kid has a composition book that I'm hoping she'll use as a combination notebook for our unit study and travel journal during our trip. I also had the kids make notebooks for our World War 2 unit, but I was disappointed at how they came out, as I think they're far too messy for the kids to be able to meaningfully refer to them or add to them the next time we study World War 2. I'm planning to provide more guidance this time, so we'll see! I printed out this Salem Witch Trials lapbook, and the kids will complete it and put it in their notebooks. The plan is that they'll leave space to also journal about our trip to Salem when we're on the road, and afterwards can add in any souvenirs and pamphlets, and the photos that we take while we're there.
The kids are still completing a page a day of cursive, Syd from the secular version of New American Cursive II and Will from Teach Yourself Cursive. I see improvement from them both every day, but it's still VERY slow going, so I plan to buy them both this cursive copybook with literary quotes to do after these books. The kids also have some correspondence to catch up on this month, mostly thank-you notes to cookie customers and relatives who sent Christmas gifts (yikes!), but Syd also has a couple of pen pals to whom she writes.
Our family "parties" are generally just excuses to eat stuff, and today's Pi Day party is no different. There will be homemade pizza and homemade apple pie, the viewing of a math documentary (probably the first episode of The Story of Maths), and the singing of the first 25 digits of Pi:
It's a cover of "The Pi Song," by Bryant Oden, for those of you playing the home game.
TUESDAY: In Math Mammoth, Syd is slogging unhappily through long division, and Will was supposed to be briefly reviewing geometry before moving on to ratios, but she somehow managed to confuse herself so greatly with angle measurement (she's making it harder than it is) that I'm making her spend an extra day measuring angles before she moves on. If two long pages of angle measuring does not clear up, once and for all, the difference between acute and obtuse, then I don't know what I'm going to do with her!
This documentary about Gracie and Spots, our two cats, is meant to be part of a larger Girl Scout project that Syd proposed, but speaking of making things harder than they are... I just can't seem to get it off the ground! I'm telling you, though: March is the month! These kids are going to get this damned documentary filmed, present it to the rest of the troop, and make some toys to donate to the local animal shelter if it is the last thing that I do!
Lesson 3 in the Your Kids: Cooking curriculum is tamale pie, but it just doesn't sound appetizing, so I'm putting it off for another week and instead having the kids review their first lesson, French toast. Any excuse to have breakfast for dinner!
Our homeschool playgroup is the highlight of my school week. Last week, we went to a park that has a creek, and the parents chatted all afternoon while the kids ran back and forth between playground and water. At one point, Syd complained about being thirsty, because the city hasn't turned the water fountains on for the season yet. I jokingly suggested that she find the park's water cut-off valve, break into it, and turn it on for herself, which led to a discussion among several kids and parents about where such a thing might be located and how it might work, which led to me giving Syd my Swiss Army knife to unscrew the panel underneath the water fountain. I immediately forgot all about it until another mom looked over a VERY long time later to find an entire crowd of children around the water fountain, all attempting to investigate its plumbing and how it might be sabotaged. They did manage to unscrew a couple of panels, although they put them back, but they never did figure out how to turn the water fountain on.
WEDNESDAY: The lack of extracurriculars this week allows me to assign more schoolwork, which means that we can delve in more depth into the documentary project (which WILL be done!!!) and our history curriculum. We'll slow down a lot once we get into the next History of Us book, but for now... zoom!
We can also delve more deeply into our science unit. The spine is an eighth-grade digital textbook on earth sciences; I expect Syd to understand less than I expect Will to, and I add in projects to enhance understanding. This day's lesson is on acidity, so the kids can use Ph strips to test various substances--always a good time! Thursday's lesson is on states of matter, and since Syd has been curious about clouds lately, as well, it's a good time to ask them to make a working model of the water cycle that shows evaporation and condensation and rain--more on that later!
THURSDAY: We're still working through the NaNoWriMo Young Writer's Program workbook, although I'm still waiting for it to click with the kids and get them inspired. At least both kids are excited about our upcoming homeschool group's STEM Fair! Will is making an augmented reality sandbox, and Syd wants to design a website--I'm thinking that I'll have her use Wordpress. We'll get started with that, and with installing Linux to an old desktop computer so that it can run the sandbox programming, on this day.
FRIDAY: Both kids are really enjoying this election campaign. Can you see our Candidates Wall behind Will in this photo?
The kids especially enjoy marking out each failed candidate with a big, red Sharpie.
I let Syd watch this John Oliver segment on Donald Trump with me, and now she enjoys correcting us when we speak his name--"It's DRUMPF!!!" I like the way that this Election 2016 curriculum explains the entire process of the campaign and defines its components, so that applying it to the current election is easy. This particular lesson covers all the media components of a campaign, so we'll be searching YouTube for examples of each one.
The kids are kind of over learning about puberty, so I probably won't do all of the activities that I'd planned for with them during this unit, but I insist that they memorize their own anatomy, so we'll go over it again by making and labeling salt dough models. I also for sure want them to experiment with the absorbency of various pads and tampons, but after that I may show mercy and let us all move on to the skeletal system or something.
The kids had so much fun with our Spirograph last week that I thought that they might also enjoy pendulum painting. Syd also wants me to re-rig our aerial silks rig back from the hammock set-up that it's in now, and if this is the last time that we'll have an aerial hammock for a while, then we might as well do some whole-body pendulum painting!
SATURDAY/SUNDAY: I both want to go on a day trip to one of our local national parks AND want to spend the entire weekend planting and landscaping in the yard. I could say that I'll do one on one day and one on the other day, but the reality is that I may well just end up laying in the backyard hammock all of BOTH days, reading and eating cookies. Tough life, I know.