Monday, March 28, 2016

Work Plans for the Week of March 28, 2016: STEM Fairs, Cat Documentaries, and an Opinion Poll

Although I felt like wringing the children's necks for much of it, last week was actually a good school week. Syd mastered the long division algorithm, both children kept up their schoolwork with minimal nagging, and my Friday meltdown really only occurred because in all the good schoolwork we'd been accomplishing, the house had managed to become a pit.

It's still a pit, but I had a weekend to refresh myself. Back into the fray!

Books of the Week this week include Treasure Island for Will and a Colonial America-era book from the Dear America series (I LOVE the Dear America series!); several living picture books and a non-fiction one for Will on rocks, as we're FINALLY moving into the rocks and minerals portion of our rocks and minerals unit; and a couple more non-fiction books about the Colonial and Revolutionary periods. Last week was fairly manipulative-heavy, what with Syd's long division lessons--

--and the pattern blocks that were our open-ended material of the week--

--so this week I'm going to try something a little different for our Open-Ended Material of the Week: the children's cameras. They each have one, Syd's a little newer and therefore better than Will's, and the kids are occasionally quite invested in them, but since they have to be recharged, eventually the batteries will die, the kids will forget about them, and there they'll languish for months. I've decided that what I really want from this weekly invitation is not necessarily to expose Will to more sensory stimulation, although I do think she benefits from that, but to expose her to more play opportunities in general--that kid is laser-focused on reading, and there's not much that will sway her from it. However, the novelty of bringing something out that she hasn't explored in a while is generally enough to get her involved, and as Syd always loves the chance for more play and exploration, it suits them both well.

Memory Work this week is really just Mandarin vocabulary and spelling words, although one of my goals is to put together a better list of review facts from our schoolwork that I can just grab on my way out the door; when we're in the habit of it, spending the first ten minutes of the first car ride of the day on Memory Work is one of the best homeschool routines that I've found. Even if there's one day a week that we generally don't go anywhere, that's still one full hour a week JUST on Memory Work!

And here's the rest of our week!

MONDAY: Both kids should now be on track in their Math Mammoth units, with neither struggling on any particular concept (fingers crossed!), so I'm able to devote a lesson this week to enrichment. Normally, I like to have the enrichment related to a concept that the kids are currently studying, but I couldn't think of anything super-riveting about either long division or percentages (although I was tempted to do giant long division on the driveway on this day, I remembered that we actually need the driveway to be a practice fashion show runway), so instead I'm pretty excited to try out this activity that I discovered just this weekend: you have the kids measure and mark the angles that a door makes in the doorway. Doesn't that sound AWESOME! And Will did struggle some in her angle measurement unit in Math Mammoth, so the practice will do her good.

I have washi tape, masking tape, a protractor, and Sharpies at the ready, and yes, we WILL be keeping this on the floor forever.

I have the sinking feeling that Syd may have weaseled out of completely memorizing the spelling words from last week's Wordly Wise chapter, so don't let me forget to review that before we move on this week. Will is currently in Wordly Wise 6, while Syd is in Wordly Wise 4, and I cannot say enough about these books. I. LOVE. Them. Syd is neutral, but Will loves them, too--although the kids technically have the entire school week to complete the several comprehension activities in each chapter, Will usually does them all on Monday. This from a kid who balks at writing the lowercase "q" ten times in her cursive workbook!

Cursive also continues, of course, with Syd still in the secular version of New American Cursive 2 and Will in Teach Yourself Cursive. I really, really, REALLY want them to start doing copywork/memorization of famous quotes from our Revolutionary War unit study, but I'm not yet sure how to work it in, since I do want them to continue regular work in these books. Will, in particular, needs a LOT of handwriting practice; I eventually gave in with printing, and her print handwriting is terribly unattractive as a result--legible, but unattractive. Therefore, I cannot give up with cursive until she has lovely cursive handwriting, sigh. I may still be giving her handwriting drills well into her thirties, but I will not give up!

The kids are bringing the opinion poll that they created last Friday for our Election 2016 unit everywhere they go this week, with the goal of gathering 100 responses. I won't let them query the patrons at the food pantry today, but the staff and the other volunteers are fair game. We also need to return the pasta maker that we borrowed from the Tool Share and check out a grow light instead. It's seed starting time!

We've got a little less assigned work again this week, since we have so many long-term projects going. Both children are working every day on their STEM Fair projects, and on the "documentary" that they're filming about Gracie and Spots. I'm hopeful that they have enough footage now that I can set them to putting their movie together this week. Syd, of course, also needs to be practicing every day for her appearance in the 2016 Trashion/Refashion Show in a couple of weeks. April is going to be a big month!

TUESDAY: Although I'm pretty confident that Syd has mastered the long division algorithm, I'm giving her one more worksheet page of drill problems before I set her back into her Math Mammoth unit on the topic. Will is spending a couple of weeks reviewing percents in her Math Mammoth, but again, I don't anticipate any struggles there.

Matt and I are both giving some major side-eye to the "tamale pie" that's the next recipe in Your Kids: Cooking, but the recipe's lesson has some important skills that I don't want the kids to skip, and so yes, we will be eating tamale pie for dinner on this day. Shudder.

You might notice that I've removed two of the kids' regular chores--load of dishes and load of laundry--from their daily work plans, and instead I have just one big chore listed. Even with the kids and I doing dishes and laundry every day, we still have unwashed dishes and laundry ALL THE TIME, usually a ridiculous amount of it, so last week I developed an incentive system in which I pay the children to keep us caught up on both, and to complete their schoolwork with a good attitude, with a bonus payment if they do all three. We're off to a pretty nonchalant start, with the only money earned so far that of Will for her schoolwork, but if the kids do catch on, I will consider the money output 100% worth having all of the dishes and laundry done daily, and schoolwork always done with a good attitude. Here's hoping!

WEDNESDAY: Making Thirteen Colonies covers the Bloodless Revolution in this week's chapters, and so I want the children to learn a little more about Parliament, particularly its differences from both a monarchy and our own Congress. Fortunately, the UK Parliament has a Youtube channel, and so we'll spend some time watching videos from that.

FYI: If you want to study Parliament in more depth, there are loads of resources to do it, as, of course, British teachers want their British children to learn about their own government!

THURSDAY: Now that the kids have the basics of atoms and elements and molecules down, we're ready to move on to minerals. The first part of that unit is learning about crystal formation, and what better way to learn about that than to grow your own? I scored this Smithsonian kit from Goodwill a few months ago and the kids will use that on this day, but next week I'm thinking that we'll spend more time growing crystals from various other substances--this should be a BIG hit.

The Young Writer's Workbook still garners zero enthusiasm, and I'm fairly sure that the children are half-assing all of their assignments in it, but last week they were able to tell their father all about their main and supporting character with a decent amount of enthusiasm, so maybe they're more interested in it than they let on. Either way, I'm certain that they'll better enjoy creating a villain, which is this week's assignment.

FRIDAY: Hopefully by this time, the kids have enough responses for their poll. I'm hoping for 100 because it'll make the math make more sense to Syd, who hasn't done percents, but they've both done graphs, so together they ought to be able to figure it out. They'll re-read the pages of Election 2016 that have to do with public opinion polls, and I'm curious what they'll be able to take from their personal experience creating, administering, and evaluating their own poll and apply to the public opinion polls that they see happening in the presidential race.

Since we have fewer schoolwork slots this week, in deference to the STEM Fair and the documentary-in-progress, I'm deleting Health this week; we finished up the reproductive system last week, with a science experiment done on pads and tampons--

--and I need more time to research how to present the immune and lymphatic systems. We ARE doing the Geography that I realized last week we needed to start, however; our Revolutionary War unit just isn't going to make as much sense without a good understanding of the geography of the colonies. I've got the kids making their master map on this day, and next week they can start adding relevant places to it. I bought the mapwork download from Montessori Print Shop, and even though I don't know if I'll use the three-part cards, it's worth it for the quality of the maps alone.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: Always ballet and Mandarin and more ballet. Maybe a road trip to Indianapolis to buy a giant piece of sheet metal for a project. Definitely a fashion show rehearsal. Hopefully the roller derby!

It's going to be a wonderful week!


Tina said...

I have a TON of 4'x12' pieces of sheet metal in my shed that was left here from the previous owner. You should drive up here and take as much as you want :0) We are only five hours away...

How do the Wordly Wise books work. Emma actually enjoys spelling (totally not my kid), and has asked that we keep working on that once she gets back from Gramma's. Again.

I tried my first tamale when I came out to MI to house hunt. They are AMAZING! Not sure how the tamale pie is made, but I'd be willing to try it.

The door angle project sounds cool, but that swing one you posted on facebook would be way cooler ;0)


julie said...

GASP! I covet your sheet metal! Also, here's what I'm making with mine--

--and now you CLEARLY need to make one, too!

Wordly Wise is a little on the dry side, but it's really rich in what it does. Each lesson has a word list, where the words are laid out like the would be in a dictionary--pronunciation, part of speech, definitions, and sample sentences. Then there are five vocabulary/comprehension activities. In Book 6, which is the one that I happen to have in front of me, they consist of an activity to write the definition of the word from a selection of choices, one where there's a sentence and you have to rephrase the bolded selection with a word from the chapter, a multiple choice activity, one that covers either synonyms/antonyms or prefix/suffix, and a reading passage that uses the words, with reading comprehension questions afterwards. Since there are five activities, I split it into two weeks, with one week for the vocab activities and another just to memorize the spelling words.

Yeah... this tamale pie calls for a cornmeal batter instead of tortillas, and the recipe instructs the children to place olives decoratively on the top. I'm gonna give it my best shot, but it looks like ground beef adhered to cornbread with olives stuck in. Shudder.

Tina said...

We had big plans for the sheet metal for the coop I wanted to build, but a blade to cut it cost around $50 and I have no idea how long it would stay sharp. Although... I am sitting here looking at my dinning room wall and I think a giant magnetic board would look lovely up there!

Thanks for the run down on the Wordly Wise. Barnes and Noble Educator week is coming up, so if we decide to give it a try, that would be the time to buy it!

Ha! The visual does sound unappealing for that tamale pie.