Monday, August 22, 2016

Work Plans for the Week of August 22, 2016: Sharks, Osmosis, and the Boston Tea Party

We had a great first week back in our new school schedule, both productive and fun. The two-nights-in-a-row fencing schedule wore out both me and Will, but I know that my skills, at least, really improved on that second night with the first night's corrections fresh in my mind (I now have a much better en garde position, with my sabre better protecting my 3, and although my balestra is still pretty miserable, I can at least leave the ground with it now). The kids were just as furious as I'd hoped they'd be about our Skittles Intolerable Acts game, they dove into their Coding Games in Scratch assignments, they both got all of their work completed every day, although this one is now giving me trouble over schoolwork, sigh--

That's her personal sketchbook, NOT her math...
--and we still had loads of time for playdates at the local public pool, hiking and creek stomping, celebratory doughnuts, shark film festivals, goofing around, and game playing:
This is Munchkin, a game that Will and I really enjoy, although we haven't quite gotten the rest of the family into the fun, yet.
This week's Memory Work will consist of reinforcing the Thirteen Colonies and the Gettysburg Address, beginning "Paul Revere's Ride" (little do the poor little lambs know that I will be forcing them to recite the Gettysburg Address and "Paul Revere's Ride" in front of suitable locations on our trip, mwa-ha-ha!), reviewing fraction terminology, and working on facts from our sharks and rocks/minerals units. Books of the Day are again a hodge-podge of picture books, short non-fiction books, and novels that I simply think the children would like. Daily work includes one journal entry in cursive (Syd loves writing in her journal, but Will still does the bare minimum), progress through Coding Games in Scratch (they both love this one, and seem to enjoy creating their own games as well as playing the ones that others have created), and work in their Wordly Wise (it's Will who loves this one, and Syd who trudges through it as slowly as possible).

And here's the rest of our week!

MONDAY: Will's week in Math Mammoth is all calculating with fractions, while Syd is reviewing the four operations and the Order of Operations. Our math enrichment this week is an exercise in finding equivalent fractions using Cuisenaire rods and fraction strips--Will already knows how to find equivalent fractions, but she calculates that by dividing by the Greatest Common Factor or Multiplying by the Lowest Common Multiple, and I want to make sure that she can SEE these fractions, as well. Syd knows the definitions from our Memory Work, so even though she won't encounter fractions again in her Math Mammoth for a while, this might help her have the concept better cemented when they roll around again.

A lot of what the kids learn about the Battle of Lexington and Concord will be done on-site, when we visit there in a couple of months, and through conversation and lecture, so this week's history is actually a little less intense, even though this is one of my favorite chapters in the American Revolution. We'll be reading/listening to the relevant chapters in From Colonies to Country several times, and on this day, we'll also be going over the events as we look at these animated maps of pre-Revolution America and the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

The kids are doing great with Song School Spanish, working through it independently and memorizing its vocabulary like champs. I'm still trying to figure out if we'll be doing Latin and/or Mandarin in our next school semester, so I'm happy that I have some independent language work for them to do while I contemplate and wait for further information.

Our sharks unit will be really interesting this week, as we're focusing on shark anatomy. The kids weren't into human anatomy last semester and so I dropped it, but this week I'll be sneaking some human anatomy back in as we study it comparatively with shark anatomy. Not on this day, though--on this day, the kids are going to study and memorize the caudal fin types, which are crucial to the positive identification of different shark species.

TUESDAY: There are several interesting reasons why sharks can attain neutral buoyancy, among them its oily liver, which is what we'll be looking at in detail on this day, as the kids revisit our previous liquid density lessons with this experiment in which they're going to attempt to obtain neutral buoyancy using oil, water, and a small plastic bottle.

For a lesson on osmoregulation later this week, the kids will need to understand osmosis and diffusion, so I've set that up as a series of separate lessons. We'll watch the Khan Academy videos, which explain them pretty well, although the set-up to the osmosis lesson is misleading, in my opinion, and then set up two different demonstrations to revisit later this week, one on diffusion that requires us to make several petri dishes of clear gelatin, and one on osmosis that requires us to put several eggs in a vinegar bath in order to strip away their shells.

Playgroup was cancelled last week due to bad weather, so everyone will be extra excited to get back to it this week! We came out of that weeks-long rainstorm into gorgeous temperatures, so I won't be surprised if it turns into an all-afternoon event--I'll bring along our fencing gear for our evening class, just in case.

WEDNESDAY: We'll review and discuss our From Colonies to Country chapters, then the kids will complete this lapbook page on John Adams as a placeholder for our further work on him. It's on my to-do list to preview that John Adams mini-series that was on HBO several years ago--I remember that I liked it, but I don't remember if it's suitable for children. I'm hoping that at least the Boston Massacre episode will be watchable.

We'll review the Khan Academy video on diffusion, then the children will measure the diffusion of several different liquids and solutions into the gelatin that we set up earlier. It's a simple demonstration, but should cement the concept into their minds.

This day's shark lesson is more a lesson on the human heart than it is sharks, but don't tell the kids! In order to understand how the shark's heart differs from the human heart, you have to understand how the human heart works, so that's what we'll be studying with videos and this coloring diagram. After you know that, then it's simple to see how the shark's two-chambered heart is different, since all it has to do is run the blood by its gills to oxygenate it. Simple and efficient!

THURSDAY: I made the kids watch part of the Democratic National Convention with me, but we were traveling during the Republican National Convention, so we're only now doing the relevant lesson in Election 2016. To help them understand the text, we'll look up clips and commentary on the two conventions, and then discuss them.

The kids have an art lesson with Matt, or sometimes me, every weekend, but I'm going to sneak in an extra art lesson on this day, since I've been wanting to do it for a while. There's a lesson in Three-Dimensional Art Adventures (which I received free from a publicist, which is why I have it before its publication date) that covers making reliefs out of air-dry clay and painting them, but the kids love Sculpey so much that I think we're going to try this lesson in miniature, using that and skipping the painting.

The text on igneous rock that we're reading on this day is very dry, but Will should be able to handle it, and Syd only needs to distill from it how igneous rock is formed. I'm still feeling out how to handle the rock collection and identification portion of this unit, as I'm finding it hard to organize, so I'm hoping that it will work to have the kids select igneous rocks from their personal collection, to be further analyzed and identified later.

FRIDAY: There's actually very little that the kids can do in advance in their Minute Man National Park Junior Ranger books, but every little bit counts when you're sitting in a national park, cooling your heels on a park bench and waiting for your kid to finish their work. Every word search that they do at home is a word search that they're not doing on that park bench!

The kids did read-alongs in Spanish using TumbleBooks last week, and it went okay, but for this week I've requested several juvenile Spanish language books from the library. It's tricky, because the text needs to be simple enough that the kids can pick up what's being said using contextual cues, but many books that simple also have the English language side-by-side, which is useless for this purpose as the kids will simply read the English. I've chosen some Sandra Boynton, Eric Carle, and Dr. Seuss that I hope will work well.

The kids didn't take as much footage of last week's creek stomping adventure as I'd hoped they would, so I don't know if they'll have enough to enable them to finish the last projects for their Girl Scout badges, but that's for them to figure out, not me!

Finally, we get to our osmosis demonstration and our explanation of osmoregulation! Fortunately, we have a perfect cell model right there in our chicken coop--the egg! After setting this project up on Tuesday, the eggs should be nice and shell-less by now, so the kids will be able to play with the process of osmosis and thereby understand how sharks don't a) shrivel up or b) expand to bursting in the ocean.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: We didn't get all of the adventures done that we wanted to do last weekend, except for the shark move marathon (somehow we can always make time for lying in bed and watching sharks eat people!), and we're not going to have time for them this weekend, either, what with Pony Club and a concert that the kids earned by selling a butt-load of Girl Scout cookies over the winter. I'm a little bummed about that, because there are other summer adventures that I really want to do, as well, but when you actually take a vacation in the summer, not the fall as we usually do, then summer goes by FAST!

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