Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Work Plans for the Week of December 19, 2016: Food Crafting, Lots of Science, and CHRISTMAS!!!

Yes, these work plans are late. We had a day trip on Monday to the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, and day trips always throws off my blogging schedule, as I can only find the time to write on my personal blog on the days that I'm not doing my paid writing for CAGW.

These work plans are also a bit of a repeat. School last week went okay, but I seriously underestimated how much a business trip of Matt's would affect us. It was quite an eye-opener to realize how much I depend on my partner to get that second load of dishes done and that second load of laundry and haul the kids around to their evening activities and supervise the completion of their last bits of school so I can veg out and even turn off the TV after I fall asleep. Nothing like waking up at 3:30 am because YouTube randomly switched from my livestream of the ISS to a video on the hollow Earth conspiracy theory, not being able to get back to sleep, and then spending the entire day either chauffeuring kids or madly scrambling to make party food that we need THAT DAY and etsy orders that have to be shipped THAT DAY and checking my email to confirm the address of Will's Pony Club party and discovering that not only does it start half an hour before I thought it did, but that there's a GIFT EXCHANGE!!!

I donated a publicist's review copy of a cookie decorating book and kit to the cause. Not only can the publicist apparently just hold her breath and wait for that review that now isn't coming, but dang it, it was also going to be a Santa gift for Syd!

AND I get there to drop Will off and a co-hostess expresses (maybe slightly passive-aggressive) surprise that I'm not staying, because apparently all the other parents are staying, even though there was nothing said in any of the emails about parents being expected to or even welcome to stay. And she's the first kid there, because maybe it really does start half an hour later but there was a mistake on the email? Or I'm just really prompt? I never figured that out. And then Syd and I get home so I can make a play dough etsy order real quick and find that the dog has pooped on the rug by the door, maybe because she wasn't feeling well or maybe because we'd been in and out of the damn house all damn day and hadn't had time to play with her. And then Syd and I spend all of Will's party time making and packaging my play dough order--
I couldn't have gotten it done without my play dough chef!
--then haul the dog into the car with us (because I'm sure as hell not leaving her alone again!) to run back to get Will 15 minutes early from her party so I can go in and pretend like I'm a good, attentive mom, only to find her alone with the hostess AGAIN because all the other guests and their good, attentive moms randomly left fifteen minutes before THAT.

We drive back, get the dog in the door, and are greeted by Matt, who FINALLY got home, after a delayed flight, from his trip. I am just a teeny bit ashamed to say that I walked straight into his arms and burst into tears.

And that, Friends, is why that Friday's schoolwork became Tuesday's schoolwork, completed on Tuesday without manic energy or fuss of any kind.

Memory Work this week is mostly spelling words, because I can't make Syd do her Wordly Wise at home so we're doing it in the car, where she can't get away, instead. Books of the Day are more books from the Banned Books list and some pre-reading for the Black History Month essay contests that the kids usually enter. Other daily work includes typing practice through, keyboard with Hoffman Academy lessons, journaling or story prompts with me, Wordly Wise for Will and Word Ladders for Syd, their current events journal (it wasn't meant to be a long-term project, but I keep extending it because I'm so pleased with how it's going), and for Will, SAT prep through Khan Academy.

Tangent: If anyone is interested in our prep plans to get Will ready to take the SAT in the spring, as a seventh grader, just ask!

And here's the rest of our week!

MONDAY: We spent the day at the Children's Museum!

TUESDAY: Both kids are almost done with their respective semesters of Math Mammoth, with Syd finishing her final review next Monday (because yes, I am making the kids do math next week so that they can finish their respective semesters by year's end) and Will doubling up math lessons next week and finishing on Friday. They're both doing coordinate planes still, although Will's math adds in integer calculations and Syd's math adds in graphing with different types of graphs.

That's one reason why the coordinate grid foldable, although it's not as hands-on as I usually like my hands-on math to be, is so useful; the kids retain their calculating ability but often lose the terminology, so after they labeled this coordinate plane I had them put it in their school folders to keep as a reference tool.

The kids do one lesson a day in their Analytical Grammar (for Will)/Junior Analytical Grammar (for Syd); Will is currently studying adverbs, and Syd is studying prepositions. In February, after essay contest season and the National Mythology Exam, I'd like to start a packaged writing/literature unit with both kids (I'm a little embarrassed that I don't want to create my own curriculum, as that's exactly what I used to do for years as a freshman comp instructor at our local university... but I don't!), so hopefully we'll have reached a good pause point for Analytical Grammar by then.

There are so many fun activities to explore the difference between inherited and learned behavior, but we did just one more to cement the concept before moving on: the Animal Survival Scenario worksheets from this unit. I required the children to answer in complete sentences and to provide a video example to flesh out one of their claims. Will used this gorgeous video from Planet Earth to flesh out her claim that swimming is a learned behavior in polar bears.

Aphrodite and Ares are our subjects in Greek mythology this week; interestingly, D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths does not tell us the story of Aphrodite's origins, so Will helpfully read it to us from The Myths of Greece and Rome. We prefer Guerber's edition to the Bullfinch, just so you know. The trading cards are also coming along well, with the kids drawing thoughtful images on the front and writing relevant facts on the back of each.

I had thought that I would change our our literature activities by the week, but the kids are really enjoying reading and checking books off of their MENSA reading lists, so we're just going to keep running with it. I'm looking forward to graduating Will up to the next list, because she's been complaining lately that she's read everything in the children's department and most everything on the young adult shelves--and she has! I walk the adult fiction shelves with her and help her choose books sometimes, but of course mom recommendations are always suspect, so more reading lists with more books that she hasn't read are ALWAYS welcome!

WEDNESDAY: The current module in our Animal Behavior MOOC is animal communication, and after watching the introduction to the module, this day's assignment asks the kids to interact for ten minutes with a pet, then write an essay describing the animal's communication during that interaction.

Will has always been a reluctant writer, so I'm thrilled that Syd loves it so much. She's taken to the Junior Scribe badge activities with gusto, completing them all independently, although I do have vague plans to perhaps encourage her to illustrate her work and then get it printed and bound into a book... we'll see. Fortunately, Will seems surprisingly enthusiastic about earning her Leader in Action award, which requires leading an entire Girl Scout troop meeting--and if there was ever proof that Girl Scouts encourages kids to stretch themselves out of their comfort zones, this is it! She has several possibilities for activities related to the Brownie World of Water Journey, including making polymer clay raindrops, edible aquifers, seashell crabs, and terrariums, We'll be making everything except the terrariums (I forgot to buy activated charcoal) today, so that Will can evaluate each in regards to how difficult it is to make, how difficult it might be to teach, how consistent the results might be, and if it seems fun!

I continually wish that I was doing more with Story of Science, as one reading comprehension activity and one hands-on activity don't seem like enough to distill all of the interesting content from the chapters, but I also bought those Quest Books so that I could save myself the lesson prep time... Perhaps I'll sit down over our Christmas break and research more activities, or perhaps I'll learn to let it go. Regardless, we're sticking to the Quest Book for this week, so this day's activity is answering reading comprehension questions for chapters 6-7.

THURSDAY: This day's Animal Behavior MOOC videos are on signals and information and modes of communication. After watching the videos, the kids will explore the Animal Communication Project to learn more about various animals, and also research video examples that provide evidence of the claims made in the Animal Communication Project readings.

Our Story of Science demonstration on this day is changing the acidity of water, using bromothymol blue as an indicator. In order to do this demonstration, however, my good friend has to dig through all of her stuff to find her bromothymol blue that she's going to let me borrow (because doesn't everyone have lab chemicals in their pantry that they're willing to lend out like a cup of sugar?), so if it doesn't turn up, we'll put off the demonstration until it does.

My kids don't exactly realize that not everyone receives random craft kits in the mail like magic, so they're never quite as excited to review them as I am, but even they're pretty revved up about this Star Wars felt kit that we're going to test out and write about. I'm thinking we'll turn them into ornaments!

FRIDAY: As with all other instructors on the last day of school before Christmas, I don't expect to get much done today. If they can get their daily assignments and a trading card for Ares completed, then we're going to spend the rest of the day making gingerbread houses while drinking hot chocolate (mine with bourbon) and listening to Christmas music.

And then it will be Christmas!

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