Monday, August 10, 2015

Work Plans for the Week of August 10, 2015: Math, Maps, and Many Animals

We had a great week last week! Mind you, a day in our house is never what you'd call tantrum-free, but the majority of each day contained content children who worked hard on their responsibilities, played together, played outside, and didn't give me too much of a hard time.

This chalkboard helps, I think:

I've been compiling it on Sundays, as I'm finishing up the next week's lesson plans, and then during the week, I really only have to update the daily chore list and erase the special events as they pass and the memory work as it's successfully memorized.

For memory work, daily practice on Mango Languages is a constant, as daily guitar practice for Syd will be when I can sort out her lessons. Mango Languages can be a little frustrating, as it's designed for adults and therefore moves quickly, but I continue to explain to the children that I do not expect perfection, or speedy progress, just the consistency that will allow their brains to master the material. And they do seem to have settled into their daily practice:

I'm studying Hawaiian, too, as I've never learned an Austronesian language before. Will does some Hawaiian, but also likes to explore the other languages, but after trying Mandarin Chinese, Syd seems happy to stay with Hawaiian for now. Here's she is comparing her pronunciation to the native Hawaiian speaker's:

Written work also went well last week, and has tended to go much better since I made the commitment to myself that when the children were working at our school table, I would be working there, as well, generally on my computer, which allows me to answer the random ready-reference questions that always come my way, but also with a white board and dry-erase marker at hand, tools that are essential for easily demonstrating math calculations. By these ages the children ought to be able to do their written work independently, but if working in companionable silence with me helps them focus, then I'm not going to protest--especially as I always have plenty of my own work to do!

Having a chick at the table to assist is also essential, apparently:

Anyway, this week's memory work includes Mango Languages, Will's World War 1 poem (Syd has mastered hers, but Will's is more challenging), the countries involved in World War 2, spelling words, and Hawaii state symbols. Spelling words and the poem can be knocked off the list by proving to me that they've been mastered, and we'll move on from World War 2 countries to World War 2 leaders next week, whether or not the kids have the countries down--this won't be the last time that we study World War 2, so I really just want the children to be familiar with these facts, not necessarily have them memorized cold.

The children also have an assigned book to read each day, and this week's books include picture books of butterfly and frog metamorphosis, living books on Hawaii and World War 2, a biography of Marie Curie, and some titles for STEM enrichment or that are related to the kids' current Girl Scout badges in progress.

Here's our week!

MONDAY: We're starting the week with some hands-on math enrichment. Syd loves fractions, so on this day she'll be exploring a set of fraction blocks and activity cards that I checked out for her from our local university's education library. For Will, I put together this model for multiplying and dividing by powers of ten, and printed out a multiplication by powers of ten worksheet for her to complete using the model. I laminated the strips that you pull through the model, so with a dry-erase marker, she can write each problem down on the strip, physically manipulate it to show the process, then erase it and begin again with the new problem. I think this will make the process very clear very quickly, as Will is excellent with patterns.

We don't follow a formal spelling curriculum; I prefer to keep an ear out for any words that a child needs help spelling, then create a list that contains that word and words that are spelled following similar rules or that have similar sounds. This week, for instance, the spelling list contains "oo, ue, ueue, ew" words. Next week's list, I already know, will contain "wh, w" words. Some weeks I use the spelling word list as cursive copywork, but this week I've created a word search; when finished, the children will keep the page in their binders as a study sheet.

I wanted the children to be able to recognize a few specialized terms in our brief mosaics unit, mostly to help them remember that there is a science even to artworks. I won't have them memorize these terms, but I do want them to practice their infographic-making skills to create a reference sheet that we can display.

We have our weekly volunteer gig at our local food pantry today; while I stock the pantry and assist customers, the kids can be found weeding and harvesting in the garden, repackaging bulk food, rinsing storage bins, snacking, helping themselves to seed packages to plant in our home gardens, or reading or playing quietly. They keep themselves entertained!

TUESDAY: Math is back to Math Mammoth today; Syd has a lesson on estimation, and then some review, and Will has word problems. She will be SO excited to move away from decimals next week!

Time spent outside on lovely summer days has allowed the children to become interested, again, in insects, so I have a few activities that we can build on if they seem to enjoy them. One is this BumbleBee Citizen Scientist Program, which will involve the children hunting down a bumblebee to photograph, and will give them the opportunity to research an identification for it, and to have that identification confirmed by an expert in the field. We'll see how it goes.

For our World War 2 study this week, the children will be labeling a world map with the countries that participated in World War 2, using these World War 2 notebooking pages. This lesson won't have a lecture component, but will simply be a useful reference for the rest of the unit.

Syd has a playdate planned for this day, and you might remember that I count even playdates as part of our scheduled day, since playdates aren't exactly the same thing as free time, and preserving the children's free time is very important to me.

WEDNESDAY: Syd has Math Mammoth again on this day, but for Will I created worksheets to teach her how to use this model to multiply decimals. Her worksheets simply consist of decimal multiplication problems, each followed by enough clip art hundred flats (you can also use a blank hundred grid) to model the problem, and space below to write the answer.

Syd is currently working on her Girl Scout Detective badge, so she and I will be making invisible ink using lemon juice, and playing with invisible ink pens that require a black light to reveal their writing--lots of good science there! Will is working on the Comic Artist badge, so she'll be studying comic strips and creating her own, for lots of good visual arts and creative writing practice. See why I love the Girl Scouts so much?

I've been sitting on this book that I need to review, and since Mango Languages has recently gotten the children interested in the variety of world languages that exist, I thought we'd give reading a chapter out loud a go. We'll read it together, looking up the pronunciation of the French words that we encounter using an online dictionary. We'll continue that next week if the kids seem to enjoy it, and if they don't seem to, I'll just pass it to them to finish reading on their own. Regardless, it's a nice little intro to the French language.

Will has often expressed interest in creating a butterfly collection, and I finally feel confident that I've done enough research to choose the most humane way to go about it. I've found some Youtube videos that provide a good overview of the process of collecting, euthanizing, preparing, and displaying insects, and I've purchased all the relevant supplies, so I'll have the kids watch these videos on this day, and if they're still enthusiastic about it, we can begin!

THURSDAY: Syd has her Math Mammoth, but Will has a review of multiplying and dividing by powers of ten and multiplying by decimals. If she doesn't have the process down cold by this day, then we're just going to move on anyway and revisit it in several months.

Our geography assignment for this week is simply a coloring page of Hawaii state symbols and facts, which the children can color while listening to traditional Hawaiian music streaming on Spotify. These facts will then be added to their memory work to review until they've mastered them.

Our homeschool group's playgroup is on this day, and that tends to take up most of the afternoon. Will has her horseback riding lesson following it (we've switched stables recently, and I think it was a good decision), and while she's in her lesson, Syd and I do a project together. Last week, we started a blog for her, and this week, I think we're going to work on some decorations for her bedroom.

FRIDAY: I purposefully stock Friday with work that the children can do independently; throughout the week I encourage them to work ahead on Friday's work so that they can have that day off, and even if they don't do it, assigning work that doesn't require my input still gives me a bit of a break on this day. Their grammar comes from library copies of Exploring Grammar (Syd) and Mastering Grammar (Will), with laminating pages over the workbook pages so that the children can complete them using dry-erase markers.

Froguts is a frog dissection ipad app that's realistic and humane--yay!

We now have a decent approximation of many of the basic fossil cleaning tools used in a paleontology lab--x-acto knife, dental pick, test tube brush, paintbrush--although I still need to buy some super glue, and as I recently also bought several specimen boxes, we've been able to get some good work done on cleaning and preparing our fossil finds from our 2014 dinosaur dig. Fossil prep is a LOT of work, however, and I anticipate that it'll be a long time before our specimen boxes are complete. In addition to this work, Will is studying a college-level intro to paleontology textbook, and then discussing each chapter with me.

We've got some other fun plans this week, of course--the Perseid meteor shower, an afternoon at the splash park, perhaps weekend swimming at the YMCA, and definitely the drive-in movie--but that encompasses our work week!


Tina said...

Chicks on the table would seem helpful in getting school work done!

I think in October we might look at adding a language to the school list. We have a few resources through the base library, so we will research our options then. No point starting it now as we will be gone most of September, and I just don't have the energy to get it started anyway.

We may be headed to D.C. at the end of September, so I am having Emma read up on it whenever she tells me she is bored (which honestly isn't very often). The other option is to work in her Horse Lovers Math workbook that I got for her. So far she really enjoys it!

julie said...

I'm so excited for your trip to DC! What all do you think you'll see?

Tina said...

LOL, I have no idea! I am the worst at planning stuff like this. Once we know for sure that we will be going, I'll get a little more serious about planning. It also depends if Gramma is able to go with us, as she has been there and will have a better idea what's worth seeing and what isn't. I would imagine the Smithsonian will be a must see, but that's as far as I have gotten.