Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Work Plans for the Week of August 30, 2016: Neurobiology, Prime Numbers, and the Declaration of Independence

We had a fine, fun week last week! We made time for playdates and movies and swimming dates (possibly our last swimming date at the public pool for the season, sigh...), and still got a lot of really interesting, creative, hands-on work done:

Trying to mimic a shark's liver and give these empty juice bottles neutral buoyancy--it took a LOT of problem-solving and experimentation!
I had been worried that this hands-on math activity wasn't "hands-on" enough, but it actually turned out to be really useful for both kids.
Diffusion of liquid watercolors into clear gelatin and the osmosis of various solutions through an egg membrane--we're actually still playing with those eggs!
Our weekend turned out to be just as busy, as not only did the kids and Matt have their "cookie concert" (one of the rewards for selling a ton of cookies was free admission for our entire troop to a Rachel Platten concert!), but we did finally manage to get to Holiday World (another cookie-selling reward), and it was so freaking awesome that we're totally going to go back again next year--so fun to no longer have one kid who won't ride anything scary, but to have two kids who are even more into thrill rides than I am, AND who can go on them independently after The Legend wiped out Dad and The Voyage wiped out Mom.

Nevertheless, after that non-stop weekend, I declared Monday a homeschool holiday... a holiday in which the kids had to help me clean for an hour and Syd had to finish up the last of Friday's schoolwork and go to ballet while Will and I went to fencing, of course, but a holiday nonetheless. But we were back to work on Tuesday, and back to our full fall schedule.

Books of the Week for Will are almost entirely novels that I've seen recommended in one place or another, while Syd begins the Princess Tales series, and has a book of reversible poems to try out, and a couple of other random non-fiction books that I'll give to Will in turn next week. Daily work consists of more journaling in cursive (Syd has really taken to this, but I'll need to consider giving Will writing prompts next semester), consistent work in Wordly Wise (Syd is in Book 4, and Will is in Book 6), and more progress through Coding Games in Scratch (Will has been enjoying working through the book, but Syd prefers to use her time to make some dang awesome cartoons, if I don't say so myself).

And here's the rest of our week!

TUESDAY: In Math Mammoth, Will is still working through fraction calculation and Syd is still reviewing multi-stage multiplication and division, so their hands-on math enrichment is something that I think will help with both--prime numbers! I asked them to figure out which numbers from 1-100 were prime, which involved a lot of interesting problem-solving and logical thinking, but I'm also asking them to memorize those primes. This knowledge will make division, multiplication, and factoring and finding least common denominators much easier.

For our shark unit, the kids (and I!) reviewed the MOOC's unit on the shark brain, and then the kids constructed this human brain model and compared the anatomies. Playgroup and Girl Scout stuff with friends and the library and fencing made us run out of time for more learning about the human brain, but I plan to sneakily sneak it in later this week.

We had to double up on Song School Spanish this week, but fortunately the two chapters are related. I was worried that this book would be too baby-ish, but at the rate that we're moving, it's actually perfect. The kids are getting some good vocabulary that they can use as cognates for other Romance languages, and a little bit of conversation practice with me.

WEDNESDAY: In our American Revolution unit, this is the week for the Declaration of Independence! On this day, the kids will be adding pages in their notebooks for Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Hancock, using the mini books from this lapbook. So far this notebook IS working better than last year's World War 2 notebook, and I am tentatively hoping that my plans for the kids to add to their notebooks during our vacation will work out, as well.

The kids seemed to have fun doing a straight-up craft project with me last week, so I thought I'd try it again as a little mid-week break in our rigorous semester. I've had this comped copy of Pattern Play for a while, and it looks to be a quick, easy, and satisfying experience. Will needs more scissors practice, anyway--she refuses to use her left-handed scissors in her left hand, even though her right-handed cutting is a tragedy, so I've given up and given her back the right-handed scissors. Her cutting is still a tragedy, but at least she can see where she's cutting now!

Today's comparative shark/human anatomy focus is the eye. The shark's eye has some interesting differences, most of which I'll expect the kids to be able to explain after reviewing the shark eye information in our MOOC and doing the research required to be able to complete this diagram of the human eye (I removed the answer key, so they'll really have to work for it!).

Fortunately, we don't have evening extracurriculars on this day, since the kids and I will be attending the training required to enable us to run a voter registration table at our local food pantry. I'm excited about this opportunity, and it will satisfy some crucial components of a couple of Girl Scout badges and our election unit study.

THURSDAY: Speaking of the elections... Will is fascinated by independent and third-party candidates. The kids will be reading the section on these types of candidates in Election 2016, and then researching online to find some of them and see what their stances are. I'm not ashamed to tell you that we'll likely be doing a lot of laughing and poking fun at these brave folks!

We'll review the chapters in From Colonies to Country once again (Will generally reads them, but Syd and I enjoy listening to them while coloring), and then the kids will see what they can accomplish ahead of time in their Independence Hall Junior Ranger books. I'm about to start planning our specific agenda for our road trip, and I hope that I can score us tickets to tour Independence Hall!

Our rocks and minerals unit isn't going as well as I'd like, and I have to say that I'm looking forward to leaving it behind at the end of this semester and reapproaching it in a different way another time. The text is too difficult for Syd, and I'm having trouble distilling it for her and providing interesting hands-on activities that illustrate the important concepts. Will is getting a little more out of it, but in the end, I'm just going to have to think of it as an overview of the topic, and try to do a better job with geology next time. For the time being, however, we're going to see it through, which means reading the rest of the chapter, having Will complete the assessment, and then taking the time to look deeply at our igneous rock samples. Hopefully, they will then be able to recognize an igneous rock when they see one!

FRIDAY: After one last review of this week's content from From Colonies to Country, the kids will get to play a little, practicing writing with a quill pen--don't let me forget to buy some ink before Friday! We'll also use this time to do a close reading of a reproduction of the Declaration of Independence that we own, and perhaps copy it out a little. Little do the children know that the first several lines of the Declaration of Independence will also become part of their memory work--mwa-ha-ha!

The kids both have some interesting work to do on their Girl Scout badges on this day: Will has to come up with creative decision-making strategies for her Finding Common Ground badge (hopefully they will not include trial by fire or dancing with snakes, etc.), and Syd has decided that the ultimate expression of her Social Butterfly badge would be to plan a party for her friends, in collaboration with another girl. I'm happy to leave them to it!

Using Ocearch, we have a favorite shark whose movements we track. On this day, the kids will be thinking more about Finley's movements, especially compared to other tiger sharks, and trying to come up with hypotheses to explain them. We probably won't actually get to test them, but you never know!

SATURDAY/SUNDAY/MONDAY: After the running around--fun running around, but running around, nevertheless--that we did last weekend, I am hoping for a quiet long weekend this week. The kids are dying to actually get the ground broken on their long-planned treehouse. There's an indoor trampoline park that just opened and that we tragically have not yet visited. The drive-in's movie line-up is absolutely terrific.

And napping. I feel like we should do a lot of napping this weekend.

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