Monday, December 12, 2016

Work Plans for the Week of December 12, 2016: Cooking and Christmas and Lots of Science!

After two weeks of a lighter schedule that helped get our little soldier through Nutcracker season, we are back for two more weeks of a full work load before we take another week off for the holidays. I kept the kids focused on the basics for the past couple of weeks--math, typing, keyboard, grammar, vocabulary, SAT prep for Will--and that turned out to be a good thing, in that the lighter schedule may have helped get Syd through the slacker phase that has made getting her to do her schoolwork just about impossible.

Let's see if it holds this week!

Interspersed with the lighter academics, I used our extra time last week to make the kids help me FINALLY put the garden to bed (newspaper covering the plant rows, an entire yard full of leaves raked and put on top of them), to go through their winter clothes (this year I finally remembered to have them do this BEFORE I take a look at their near-empty clothing bins and go panic shopping at Goodwill--they're full to bursting now!), and, of course, to do some Christmas crafting with them. Check out these beaded ornament hangers that we make every year because I'm too cheap to go buy any!



Super pretty, right? And all they're made of is stash jewelry wire and beads that I'm dying to get rid of, anyway.

Memory Work for the week will be a lot of review, as it wasn't a focus for the past two weeks. Books of the Day are mostly taken from the 2015-2016 Banned Books List (when this comes out every year, I immediately request them all from our public library, and suggest the purchase of the few that the library doesn't have), so Will is reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and This Book is Gay; I'm reading City of Thieves and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close; Will and I are both reading Looking for Alaska, and both kids are reading the picture books I am Jazz, My Princess Boy, This Day in June, and King and King (plus its sequel). I'm also pre-reading Just One Day to see if it would be a good fit for Will.

Daily work for both kids this week includes Analytical Grammar for Will and Junior Analytical Grammar for Syd, Wordly Wise (or a word ladder for Syd; she loathes her Wordly Wise, and I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do about that yet), ten minutes a day of journaling or imaginative writing, typing practice, keyboard practice or a Hoffman Academy lesson, SAT prep on Khan Academy for Will, and the last week of their current events journal.

And here's the rest of our week!


MONDAY: We're not ready to start a new poem this week, and I don't have another literature unit that I'm ready to implement, so the kids can work on their MENSA reading lists some more. I try to keep several books from this list--in both written and audio formats--on our library shelves, so choosing the next selection should be easy.

Both kids are actually in just about the same subject in their Math Mammoth units, with Will studying positive and negative integers and applying that to the coordinate plane, and Syd learning how to graph on the coordinate plane and then moving into other types of graphs. This will play well into our later hands-on math enrichment!

The Animal Behavior MOOC is much more dry than the Sharks one, so I've been having trouble keeping Syd's attention on it. Fortunately, this week they're covering inherited vs. learned behaviors, and there are lots of hands-on activities to help cement those concepts. On this day, after watching videos on how animals learn, the kids will be challenged to make a puzzle toy for one of their pets, and then encouraged to observe the pet as it uses it. I think that Syd will really enjoy this one!

There's a lot that can be done with Story of Science, but I don't want to still be doing it into 2018, so I'm having to be a little more selective with the hands-on activities that we do than I've often been--this is why we've actually been finishing units of study this year! This week, we'll be covering chapters 4 and five, and the Quest Book activities are simple question-and-answer worksheets that will make sure the kids have a solid grasp of the content before we move into the fun activities.

I assigned Hephaestus a couple of weeks ago, but Syd was so busy with The Nutcracker that she didn't get to it, so this assignment is mainly for her. Will never finished her Hades trading card, however, so she, too, can do some catch-up during this time.

Syd is finished with ballet for the semester, and Will with Chinese, but Will and I have one last week of fencing, and she has one last week of ice skating, so we'll still be out and about with extracurriculars this week.

TUESDAY: I plan to blow the kids' minds on this day, by showing them how to measure the height of something really tall (in this case, the drive-in movie screen next door) using ratios. If we're not freezing our booties off, I'll then show them how to do it with trigonometry, and we can compare results.

This day's Animal Behavior MOOC video on inherited vs. learned behavior also lends itself to a couple of fun activities to illustrate how these traits affect us. The kids were supposed to have done self-portraits in their art lesson with Matt this weekend, and were then going to label them with their own inherited and learned behaviors, but I don't know what happened to Sunday, but it wasn't art! We'll table that to the weekend, I suppose.

Playgroup and fencing will take us through much of the rest of the day.

WEDNESDAY: Some of the rest of this week in the Animal Behavior MOOC is too difficult for Syd, so Will has some extra work to complete on this day. With her critical reading skills, she should be able to handle reading abstracts of scientific papers to evaluate their rigor. Both kids, however, should be able to handle the reading comprehension activity from this Understanding by Design curriculum. The curriculum is written for the fourth grade, but I've had no problem adapting it for my fifth- and seventh-graders this week. 

I've got a bit of cooking for others to do this week, so in true homeschooler style, I'm turning it into a Home Ec assignment and making the kids help me! On this day, I've volunteered us to contribute a meal to a family in our homeschool circle who've just had a new baby. I've (gratefully!) received one too many casserole/pasta bake in my time, so my own rule of thumb for a meal train is a large cheese pizza from our favorite local pizza shop, plus a homemade fruit salad and a home-baked treat. For this family, I think we'll bake brownies!

I need to set aside some time to focus on Syd's Girl Scout goals, since she'll be bridging next year, but for now, I'll let her pick a new badge to get started on while Will and I focus on her Cadette Breath Journey and the Leader in Action Award that she's hoping to earn. For this award, she has to lead a meeting for Brownie Girl Scouts--what a happy coincidence that we happen to be part of a multi-level troop and have our very own Brownies! There are going to be LOTS of valuable skills to be learned from leading a meeting for younger girls.

THURSDAY: I can't let a week in December go by without some sort of holiday craft, so we're going to be sneakily practicing symmetry and regular polygons by making large-scale popsicle stick snowflakes to hang from our high ceilings.

One more activity and the Module Exam for Will, and that's Module 2 of the Animal Behavior MOOC done and done! 

Just between us, I'm hoping that Will's horseback riding gets cancelled for cold temps, because I am ready to have this semester's extracurriculars also done and done!

FRIDAY: We are out and about for much of the day on this day, especially poor Will, the most introverted among us. We're attending a school matinee of the local theater's holiday show in the morning, and then the afternoon brings Will's last ice skating class of the session and a holiday party for her Pony Club. You'll never guess what I'm bringing to the party...

Fruit salad and dessert! I SUPER want to make these horse-themed cupcakes, so that's what the kids and I will do during our brief interval of at-home time. Hmmm.... perhaps we should make the cupcakes the night before.

The other work for the day should be independent and efficient--there's a coordinate grid foldable to cement the vocabulary, and a research project, again from that Understanding Design unit, that asks the kids to figure out what inherited and learned behaviors allow different animals to thrive in different habitats.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: Gingerbread houses! The New Star Wars! Housecleaning! Yardwork!

And then one more week until Christmas break!

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