Monday, August 17, 2015

Work Plans for the Week of August 17: Police!

Last week's school week went well. Big hits included the introduction of a bug collection, which it turned out Will still really, really, really wants to do--there are three butterflies in the freezer right now, waiting for her to take them out later today and set them to dry on the spreading board. The mapwork for World War 2 countries was also super fun, even though I made the process more troublesome by using a modern map instead of a World War 2-era map, meaning that we had to draw our own country borders for the USSR, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, etc. The process turned into a fabulous exercise in ready-reference, however, as Will constantly kept my fingers flying over the keyboard to look up her questions--"What did South America do in the war? What did Canada do in the war? Why is Norway's literacy rate 100%?" Syd loved making invisible ink from lemon juice, as I knew she would, and flipped through this secret formula recipe book to find instructions to make a pinata, which is now drying on our coffee table.

I have never seen a more convoluted recipe for papier mache paste than in that book (Sugar? Alum?!?), but she cooked up the entire thing herself, so whatever.

I woke up the kids at 3:30 on Thursday morning to hike over to the drive-in and watch the peak of the Perseids--beautiful! The kids claimed that they saw some meteors, as well, although every time I looked over at them they were rolled up in their blankets in a fetal position, dozing. They must have spent some time awake, however, because this one fell asleep in the aerial silks rig:

Will also liked the manipulative that I made her for multiplying and dividing by powers of ten ("Hey, it makes sense now!"), but HATED the manipulative that I made her for multiplying by decimals ("Do I have to do this? Why can't I just multiply it?!?"). For that one, I finally just let her model the answer, instead of using the model to work out the problem. Sigh...

Another project that didn't work out last week was the Bee Citizen Scientist Project. I didn't get many flowers into our summer garden this year, and so the children didn't find any bees to photograph. We'll be spending a day at a state park this week, however, and another afternoon at our local hands-on science museum, which has a beehive, so I'm hoping it'll happen this week. Regardless, Will LOVED the bees of the world book that she read as part of this assignment:
There are so many great species of bees in the world!

For memory work this week, I am going to have to require that Will finish memorizing her World War 1-era poem, "Anthem for Doomed Youth," as she has dragged it out long enough. The children will also have more daily practice on Mango Languages (where I also need to spend some time, to catch them up in Hawaiian!), a spelling list of "wh" and "w" words to memorize and define, and the list of World War 2 leaders and their countries.

The Book of the Day assignments for this week consist of living histories and books on bees, butterflies, cartooning, and Hawaii. We're eclectic readers!

And here is the rest of our week!

MONDAY: For Math Mammoth this week, Syd is working entirely with place value--she's mastered this concept, so I'm hoping for a week free from (math-related) tantrums! Will has a review on decimals, and is then moving on to graphing, which I think she'll also enjoy.

Will completed the requirements for her Girl Scout Cadette Comic Artist badge, but since both kids have written comics before, I didn't think that the badge requirements asked enough of her. I'll fix that! For today, I printed out tons of different comic panel formats, and I'll be asking the children to create comic strips from a variety of them. I think they'll discover for themselves in the process that bigger panels ask for bigger moments, and that the different formats ask for different pacing and storylines.

We've got our weekly volunteer gig at the local food pantry today, as well--if nothing else, I have to return the electric tiller that I borrowed from them last Monday. Mental note to go outside in an hour or so and clean the dirt off the tines!

TUESDAY: If Will is going to be freezing and mounting a selection of butterflies, the least that we can do is also feed them, so I'm going to show the children how to make butterfly nectar on this day. I'm hoping to impress upon them that science always goes with stewardship.

Our World War 2 study this week focuses on the leaders of the major countries involved in the war. For this assignment, the children will merely need to match each leader with his/her country, then research a photo of each leader to add to their page in their World War 2 notebook. Later in the week, however, likely on the weekend, Matt will give us a lecture on each leader, including the most important moves and decisions that each one made. In these ways, we're approaching the same main events of the war over and over through different lenses, which I hope will allow the children to see these events through a larger context, not just as straight facts to memorize (which I also ask them to do).

The construction of a decoder wheel is actually an activity for the Girl Scout Junior Detective badge, and so both kids have already done it last year, when Will was a Junior working on this badge. We lost those wheels in the move, however (or I tossed them... whichever), and they were really fun to have around, so I'm asking them to make new ones as part of Syd's badge work.

WEDNESDAY: I'll be asking each child to ask at least one question to our tour guide during our field trip to the police station on Thursday, so we'll take the time on this day for the children to research the law enforcement field, look through their Girl Scout handbooks to see what badges might ask for an interview with a police officer (off-hand, I know that at least Detective and First Aid do, and perhaps Animal Helper, as well?), and then write down their questions in the notebooks that they'll take on our field trip. I can't emphasize enough the benefits of having kids conduct interviews, and letting them ask their very own questions during these interviews--their interview of their great-grandfather about his experiences in World War 2 were WONDERFUL.

This fruit observation is yet another activity from a Girl Scout badge--Detective, again--but, as with many Girl Scout badge activities, it's wonderfully academic. Basically, we'll be putting a selection of fruit into jars (the badge book suggested peanut butter jars, but I don't have enough empties to spare, so we'll be using glass canisters), then the children will be observing them over the course of their decomposition, sketching them and taking notes. How cool is that?!? Now I just need to find a place in the house to display several glass jars of rotten fruit...

One of our family goals this summer is to "eat at every ice cream place in town." To that end, I'll be giving the children a giant map of our hometown and the phone book. They'll need to look up the ice cream shops, find those addresses on the map, and then mark each one. Finally, they'll of COURSE choose one for us to visit that evening. Yay for map skills!

THURSDAY: With our homeschool group's playgroup and our field trip to the police station on this day, the only other work that the children have is their math and an assignment to find and watch some examples of hula dancing on YouTube. There are hula competitions, so there are some really fine examples to find. There are also many instructional videos, so we're going to give it a whirl for ourselves, as well.

FRIDAY: Neither kid has ever actually worked ahead to have Friday free, but I still keep independent assignments on this day, just in case they do, and to give myself a bit of a break--the big messy projects that we do each day are rewarding, for sure, but they take a lot of mental and emotional energy out of this introvert! On this day, then, the kids have three more pages to do in their grammar books (we use library copies Exploring Grammar and Mastering Grammar, worked with a plastic sleeve over each page and a dry-erase marker), their Friday Math Mammoth assignment, more fossil prep (Will is also studying a college-level intro to paleontology text--it's dense, but she knows enough of the material already to make her way through, if we go slowly and discuss it often), and an educational ipad app--the children NEVER choose to play these apps in their free time, so at the least I'm asking them to play and review each one, then tell me if we should keep it for further use or delete it.

While the kids are doing all of this, I'll be spending my week researching hands-on activities for graphing, completing my writing assignments, and working on several projects in-progress--a dollhouse remodel with Syd, a building blocks remodel for a writing assignment, how to turn a static comic into an animated comic, our fall garden, and much, much more.

It's going to be a great week!

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