Monday, December 7, 2015

Work Plans for the Week of December 07, 2015: A Kid-Made Newspaper

We've had quite a bit of a break from formal school around here! We took the entirety of Thanksgiving week off, spending our time not pushing through Math Mammoth or practicing cursive, but instead doing things like this:
We always have an epic puzzle project going on during vacations. This periodic table of the elements puzzle was a doozie!
The kids have long done loads of laundry independently, but as part of an activity for Syd's Girl Scout Junior Independence badge, I taught them about it for real, temperatures and color sorting and everything. And then I made them do all this laundry all by themselves, mwa-ha-ha!
The children both want curtains around their bunk beds. We did Syd's during this week, and I've started Will's today, actually.
How much time can you spend lying on the bed, watching episodes of How the Earth was Made and coloring? ALL THE TIME!!!
After we finished the puzzle, we somehow got on another huge Perler bead kick, so much so that our family read-aloud activity actually changed from hair braiding to Perler beads for a time.
This kid loves herself a good board game.
Yes, I DO like to put our Christmas tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving! It gives you the most time to enjoy it!
And, of course, it wouldn't be our homeschool if there wasn't ample time to sit around and read and pet kitties.
 Last week, Will was back in the groove somewhat, at least doing math every day, but really, our entire family revolved around Syd's Nutcracker schedule. Hours of time spent at ballet rehearsals and performances every single day for a solid week meant that it was important to me that the rest of her time be as unscheduled and calming as possible. Therefore, we did a lot of these things:

Perler beads remained big, but the Geomags also got rediscovered, and the kids have again been playing with them for hours, doing all kinds of creative things with them.
Willow and I are very into BOINC, which utilizes your computer's unoccupied time to work on huge projects. I tend to stay with SETI@Home, because I am SUCH a big dork, but Will is very fond of a project that has her computer attempting to model proteins that can help treat disease. Here she's modeling proteins by hand, just for fun. That kid.
On another day, the kids did a virtual field trip to the great forests of China through the Nature Conservancy. They didn't love it--in fact, Will declared that the host's sincere yet very heavy-handed plea for environmental conservation sounded like propaganda (leading to a discussion of the use of propaganda for good)--but I finally understand the Greenhouse Effect, so there you go.
The young chickens had grown so wild that I told the children that if they couldn't tame them, they'd never be prepared for a dog. Um, now at least two of them are SO tame that when you open a door, they try to run past you into the house.
This hair. I have now become able to spend less than 20 minutes creating the required Angel Performance Bun, so of course next year I'll probably have to instead learn the Soldier French Braid.
We only attended one of Syd's FIVE performances, but our university livestreams all of their productions, and so I was able to watch Syd every single time she was onstage! It was beyond wonderful. Here she is in a photo taken of the television, in her role of the third angel from the left. 
Here she is at center left, sharing her light with the world.
And again, here she is third from the left. Isn't it magical? She also really wants some dry ice of her own now.
After such a long break, I'm pretty stoked to get back to business as usual this week. I can't say that the kids are exactly as excited, especially since Will is sitting next to me having a quiet tantrum about the math lesson that I spent the entirety of Sunday morning creating for her. Nevertheless, back to business as usual we are!

One particularly exciting event has colored our studies for the week--a reporter and photographer are coming to interview us about homeschooling! Will we acquit ourselves well? Will we give homeschooling and all homeschoolers a bad name? Will everyone discover how deeply weird I am? Will I be unable to quell my urge to blurt out wildly inappropriate things when under pressure? Stay tuned and see!

Anyway, this upcoming interview has gotten the children interested in newspapers and journalism, and when I suggested that they might like to create their own newspaper this week, they enthusiastically agreed. So you'll notice that much of our time this week will be spent in that project.

Mandarin is over for the semester, so memory work includes only spelling, cursive practice, and World War 2 review questions; Books of the Day include some lovely picture books designed to help children understand just a little bit about the consequences of the Holocaust, some books on newspapers, and, just for fun, a couple of novels about paperboys. I think that Syd is really going to like Henry Huggins!

And here's the rest of our week!

MONDAY: The children both struggled with their most recent Math Mammoth lesson--Will's on simplifying and multiplying fractions, and Syd's on solving multi-step word problems using multiplication, division, and charts. I spend part of Sunday breaking down each lesson into its step-by-step components and including manipulatives that make it clear how each math problem is working. Syd adored her lesson and is now happily reading Henry Huggins, while Will is currently throwing a giant hormonal fit about her lesson, so much so that I may deny her the pleasure of going to the library later for the coding workshop that I've scheduled the children for. The lesson couldn't be clearer, so I can't fathom what the kid is so appalled by, and when I attempted to ask her calmly, she did the thing where she answers me by moving her lips soundlessly, and inside my head I fantasized about slapping her, so I'd say that could have gone better.

Ah, she just threw a pencil across the room. I hope that you're having a lovely afternoon, as well!

Yesterday at the library, Matt, the kids, and I camped out at a long table with several different newspapers and compared them in order to agree upon a general anatomy of the newspaper. Today, the children and I will do the same with several newspaper articles in order to reach the same type of consensus. I'll then discuss with them the inverted pyramid of newspaper writing, and we'll dissect some articles to find it. We're also big fans of Brainpop, so we actually began the day with a Brainpop movie on newspapers. I require that the kids watch the movie and pass the quiz, but then I generally let them tool around and watch more movies and play more games on the site. Will is a major fan, in particular of Do I Have a Right, Supreme Decision, and Court Quest.

Our work at the food pantry today was all about eggs! The kids repackaged giant crates full of eggs into smaller cartons until they were totally over it, and then continued to repackage them for another hour. I discovered that the Beatles station on Pandora is the perfect mix of the perfect kind of classic rock n' roll that I want to share with the children, and so I happily sang all the words to every single Beatles, Elton John, and Billy Joel song that came on, until another volunteer came in who wanted to listen to the station with music from Disney movies, and then I sang all the words to all of those songs, instead.

Random tidbit: Will was fascinated by "American Pie" and asked about the lyrics, so I told her that my college roommate, John, used to talk about his high school project in which he'd annotated "American Pie," and that he could tell you the meaning behind every verse. As I was telling that story, though, it occurred to me--the internet exists now! I can do that, too! And that is what leads me to tell you that this seems to be one of the older and most extensive interpretations of "American Pie" on the internet. You're welcome!

TUESDAY: I've got another math lesson for each kid to break down the concepts that they were struggling with before we move on in Math Mammoth. I'm sure Will is going to be just thrilled! Hopefully, however, she'll cheer up when we discuss the children's newspaper, in particular. They've already been talking about the kinds of stories that they want to write, so I'm hoping that they both have plenty of ideas for this brainstorming and story assignment session.

We've got our homeschool group's playgroup on this day, and I always enjoy the chance to talk to other friendly, supportive adults. I just cannot overstate the importance of a good homeschool group filled with welcoming people!

We are almost finished with our World War 2 study! Can you believe it--it's been over half a year of steady study on this! This week we're reviewing the war as a whole, and although I do have a couple more enrichment activities that I'd like to cover--a field trip to the Terre Haute CANDLES museum, the biography of Sadako Sasaki and folding paper cranes to remember the innocent victims of World War 2--these aren't activities that have to be completed in any particular time period.

Soon we'll be on to our 2016 study of the American Revolution!

WEDNESDAY: We're back to Math Mammoth on this day, hopefully with a better grounding that will make each of their next lessons easier to understand. The kids will work more on their newspaper, and for our culminating mapwork of our World War 2 study, I have the wild idea that we will draw a giant chalk map of the world on our giant driveway and replay the war. I can't decide yet if I want to use chalk or chalk paint, but either way, I think it will turn out to be a very interesting, if very bizarre use of our time.

After the intensity of The Nutcracker, Syd and I are both a little relieved that this is her last week of ballet class for the semester. We'll have a nice, long break before she dances again in January.

THURSDAY: This is the day of our newspaper interview! I want to make cookies for it but Matt says that this is over the top. Is it? Would you like me more if you came to interview me and I had cookies for you?

The reporter who's interviewing us also agreed to be interviewed, herself, by the children. I think it'll be a feature story in their newspaper!

FRIDAY: Happy Fossil Prep Friday! Prepping fossils is slow work, so we still have plenty of edmontosaurus fossils to clean and display. Mental note: buy superglue!

Syd is almost done with another Girl Scout badge, but Will seems to be lacking inspiration for any badge in particular, so I'm hoping that I can help her find one that she wants to pursue. The kids also have a Girl Scout meeting on this night, centered around another kid's Brownie badge, so they'll have a happy time reviewing pinch pots while I sit on my couch and read for two hours. Yay!

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: Mandarin is over for the semester, but we still have ice skating, ballet, and chess club.  I actually appreciate these weekend extracurriculars, as they represent some time that I get to take to work at home while Matt plays kid chauffeur.

As for me, this week I'll be cleaning house (nothing like an upcoming interview to make you realize that your house is a mess and your kitchen floor is sticky!), sewing curtains for Will's bed, prepping for Girl Scout cookie season, doing a ton of writing, and figuring out what I'm going to make people for Christmas.

It's going to be a great week!


Tina said...

I know it's probably wrong, but I had to laugh about your fantasy of slapping Will. Sometimes Emma pushes so far, that I flat out tell her, " I'd like to slap your mouth right now." I doubt I ever would, but I think it helps her realize when she's gone to far.

So, do the hormone things start kicking in at 10, or is my kid just an over achiever? I had hoped I had another year before I had to deal with it.

I pretty much stopped listening to any kind of adult music once Emma was 4. She started asking what the songs were about. Just in the last year I have started listening to music I like, and every. single. song. Emma asks me what it's about. I just want to listen to the music without psychoanalyzing it.

As it is, she is constinetly asking me questions about relationships, the human body, sex, and all kinds of other heavy topics. I love the kid, but I am really ready to take a mom vacation.

Not only do cookies make everyone happy, they also make your house smell warm and inviting. And even if they don't eat the cookies, at least you'll have cookies to settle everyone down after they leave :0)

I made the kid do some math today. While she mumbled and groaned a little, she seemed happy enough to get back to it. I'd also like to start back up with our BookShark program, but at the same time, we move in less than two months and we have a giant house that needs to be cleaned, organized and packed up. So... Not sure how much schooling will get finished.

I LOVE all the photos. It's so much fun to see how other people spend their days :0)

julie said...

The hormones start to kick in at 10! Seriously, 10 onwards is a whole new ballgame. Eleven, though... wow. Eleven makes 10 seem like a walk in the park.

I am always so surprised when the kids ask what a song is about! I'm like, "Stop analyzing the dang lyrics and just sing along, Child!" I think they're still too used to kid songs, where every song is about, like, a funny talking cat or the horror of having to clean your room.

Right, BookShark! You said that you're liking it a lot, right? Honestly, though, if you're moving in less than two months... Do you have any consumable workbooks that she can use and you can then toss? Art/craft/science kits that she can use up so you don't have to move them? Even if not, I would find learning how to completely organize, pack, and move a household to be a fabulously educational experience!

Tina said...

Ugh. Looks like it's time to ship her off to Gramma's!

We did great following it for 4 weeks, but then we sort of got distracted by life. That is turning out to be our pattern- we can stick with just about any program for 4 weeks before we get bored with it. I think I might just have her read through the books that came with the curriculum, but with the novel writing last month, and the revision coming up in January and February, I'm not super concerned about her following any LA program right now.

I love the idea of using up our workbooks! And, since I have been thinking about dabbling with work boxes again (I did really love them), it might work out to mix the workbooks and work boxes together to keep things interesting.