Monday, August 3, 2015

Work Plans for the Week of August 3, 2015: Back to Work Plans!!!

Although we school year-round, I haven't written these weekly work plans since March. First, Will was being extremely defiant about doing her work, so I made plans only for Syd for a while, and left Will to read and putter and mind her own business. After a few weeks of that, Will wanted to work again, so I began to make daily plans for the children on a dry erase board.

The daily plans worked really well, and I would still be doing them, except at our family meeting yesterday we discussed several school issues--what foreign language should we study, who wants to learn a musical instrument, how is the schedule working for everyone, etc.--and I learned that both children would prefer going back to weekly plans. In addition, Will would like a five-day school week with fewer assignments per day, and Syd would like the four-day school week that comes with having more assignments per day, so the weekly work plans allow me to set up a Friday school day that consists entirely of independent work; Will can complete that work on Friday, with minimal assistance from me (so that I get more of a break), and Syd can work ahead throughout the week and have Fridays free.

Will also promised to help me make my work plans every Sunday, so yesterday she collated math assignments and researched educational ipad apps while I fleshed out our week:

Add to this a few daily chores, consisting of whatever I especially need done that day, and a daily book for each kid, non-fiction or a living book, on whatever subject I think is interesting--this week it's a lot of horse books, a couple of art books that focus on mosaics, a picture book of the Trojan War, and an interesting how-to-write-stories book.

Memory work this week consists of the World War 1-era poems that the children are memorizing--"Anthem for Doomed Youth" for Will, and "In Flanders Fields" for Syd, and daily work on their foreign language of choice, beginning Tuesday. Next week, I'll likely add the state capital and main islands of Hawaii.

MONDAY: We'll be back at our weekly volunteer gig today after two weeks off for traveling and day camp. I consider that service learning, and count it as part of our school day.

In math this week, Will is still working on decimals, and Syd is finishing up a four operations review and then working a little more on graphs.

I don't know how really essential word ladders are, but the kids enjoy them, it's a puzzle, and it gets them thinking about vocabulary and spelling in a new way.

For our World War 2 unit study this week, the kids have timeline figures for 1939 to put into their World War 2 notebooks, and then one evening this week, Matt will give us a lecture on the events of 1939. It would never have occurred to me, but the children, especially Will, LOVE these history lectures by Matt. And since he minored in history, he enjoys them, too, and he's good at them.

One funny thing that both children wanted written into the schedule, as discussed at our family meeting, is play time with each other. I've never denied them play time, nor asked them to stop playing to do something else if it wasn't absolutely necessary, so I'm thinking that this is more of a recognition by them that their time together is important, important enough to be on the schedule. When I asked them, during the meeting, how long they thought that they'd play together each day, their estimates were both around 2.5-3 hours. Cute little kids.

TUESDAY: I don't really have a unit on mosaic art planned, but my Girl Scout troop made a large outdoor mosaic as a service project for our local food pantry a few weeks ago, and the kids enjoyed it so much that I thought I'd introduce them to a couple more mosaic-making activities, and a little of the history behind the art form. I'd wanted both kids to make mosaics using dyed beans inside clear CD cases, but I could only score one old case of just the kind that I wanted, so I think that I'll also set out my button stash and and let each kid choose a bean mosaic in a CD case or a button mosaic on canvas.

Our library has a Mango Languages account, so we can learn, like, a billion foreign languages for free online. Both kids expressed interest in continuing Mandarin (which was a shock to me, as I hadn't gotten the impression that they'd super enjoyed their classes last semester), but both also expressed interest in learning Hawaiian before our October trip, so after we set up their accounts, I'll let them play with both before I ask them to commit. This will then become not a school assignment, per se, but a part of their daily memory work study.

The volume measurement and conversion activity with Will went so well that I'm going to do it again, this time with grams. This time I'll also include Syd; she can help with measurement, and Will can do the conversions. I've got several large batches of dyed rice that I think they'll have fun working with, and unlike the volume measurements, we can keep these permanently in Ziplock bags. Yay for making our own math manipulatives!

WEDNESDAY: Syd has a few Girl Scout Junior badges that she's already been working on, but this will be a good time for Will to look through her Cadette book and choose something that she's interested in. I like to turn their badge work into mini unit studies, so I'm excited to see what she'll choose. Syd will likely continue working on the activities for the Jeweler and Detective badges that she's begun; we lost our decoder wheels in the move last year, so that activity might be a fun one to try next.

Both kids still enjoy Magic Tree House Club, and I can't say enough about the way that their teacher, Ms. Roni, keeps the kids engaged while adding geographical, historical, and scientific context to each Magic Tree House book. This month's book is A Good Night for Ghosts, so I imagine that the children will learn a lot about New Orleans and Louis Armstrong during their club meeting.

The children also enjoy the children's LEGO Club that meets monthly at our public library. It involves group work and problem solving... and LEGOs! Even though something like this would be an extracurricular activity for children in schools, for mine, I incorporate it into their school day, simply because any structured activity takes time away from unstructured activities, and I consciously limit the hours each day that the children spend following someone else's agenda.

THURSDAY: I count Park Day as part of our school day for the same reason. Yes, it's just a playgroup for homeschooled children, but it's not the same thing as free time. It also takes hours, and Will has horseback riding class after it, so if I had them buckled down on schoolwork for the entire morning, then when would they chase butterflies and pick peppers from the garden and play LEGOs and look at stuff under the microscope (this, by the way, is a list of the activities that the children have done so far this morning; we haven't yet started school, because who would interrupt THAT?)?

I LOVE these customizable maps from Megamaps, and I use them all. The. Time. I printed out a 3x3 map of the Hawaiian islands, and the plan is to have the children watercolor the ocean, then label the islands, the state capital, and some of the destinations that we know we'll be visiting in October--Pearl Harbor, Volcano National Park, perhaps Mauna Kea, the southernmost point in the US, etc. Later, the children will be adding other destinations, sites of historic note, and geological features.

FRIDAY: The kids never use the tons of educational apps on our ipad, and it rarely occurs to me anymore to ask them to, so for a while we'll be going on a little weekly tour of our apps, I suppose. We can delete the ones that the kids don't enjoy, and it'll hopefully help me remember to assign the others where they're relevant.

Syd requested that we study dinosaurs some more (I swear, is there ever a time when we're NOT studying paleontology?), and that reminded me that although we completed most of our fossil unit last year, we did not ever get around to actually cleaning and displaying our fossils! No better time to remedy that than now.

Correspondence isn't the truly substantive task that it used to be back when handwriting and sentence formation were major skills, but it's still useful to keep in practice, and when both children owe letters, anyway, then it's a fine time to review handwriting and sentence formation.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: Often we've got extracurriculars or special events on the weekends, but this weekend is totally unscheduled, which is also nice. We need to reinforce the chicken yard, and the kids have been wanting to make caramel apples for some random reason, and there's always something good playing at the drive-in next door.

And that's our week!


Tina said...

I'm excited to see your work plans are back! It usually helps motivate me to get my butt in gear.

Our library also has the Mango Languages thingy, and as it's the base library, I am pretty sure that we will have that anywhere we go. Might have to look into having Emma pick a language.

The hubby is home sick with strep throat today, so I am not sure how much school will get done here, but I think I might have her at least get started on some of the reading. The books all look interesting, so I don't think it should be too difficult to convince her to read a chapter or two per day.

I love that your girls want more time to play with each other. Homeschooling is awesome for so many reasons, but being able to give our kids what they want most -time with the people they care about- is one of my favorite reasons to homeschool.

julie said...

Strep throat is the worst! I had it a couple of years ago and thought that I had never been so sick in my entire life... then I got the flu a few weeks later.

I don't know how much Mango languages is necessarily sticking for them so far, but they are happily working on it every day and I keep telling them that as long as they're consistent, they WILL learn it.