Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Work Plans for the Week of January 23, 2017: Math, Math, and More Math (and Some Science!)

I meant to post these work plans yesterday, and even got started writing them, and then I derailed into telling you every single thought that I had about Trump's inauguration address.


Other than bearing witness to that travesty, the kids and I had a great week of school. Will, especially, zipped through her requirements in record time, with, alas, as little effort as possible. I do like that the kids can work independently, but they're still more passionate and engaged when Mom is right there learning with them.

It's fortunate that this week, then, we just happen to have loads more hands-on assignments. There's a lot of interesting math, in particular, that we have time to get to this week, and I'm looking forward to the map coloring (it's mathematical, I promise!), decanomial square modeling, and Base 60 calculating that we've got going on.

Books of the Week are more David Wiesner for Syd, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for Will, biographies of other famous black Americans, and books about Greece.

Have I told you that we're possibly going to Greece this summer? We're still running the numbers and looking for flights that would be in our budget, so I can't tell yet if we can afford it this year or not. Darn our tendency to make a budget and only do what we can afford!

Speaking of Greece... Memory Work this week is Greek and Roman deities, reviewing Sonnet 116, and the names of regular polygons. Other daily work consists of typing for both kids, a word ladder for Syd, and for Will, progress in Wordly Wise 7, Khan Academy's SAT Prep, and an online Red Cross First Aid class. Syd completes the daily story starter or journal entry, but Will just flat-out won't do creative writing or journaling, so I've been giving her a long passage from our Memory Work to copy in cursive every day.

We're trying something a little different for music. As I've mentioned each Monday for the past couple of weeks, our keyboard is mysteriously broken, and I haven't even tried to fix it or replace it yet--Girl Scout cookie season is upon us, and I'm busy! It so happens, though, that this weekend I was meandering through a Charlotte Mason homeschool site... you know, as you do... and saw their recommendation for memorizing and singing folk songs.

Why, folk songs are music! We've got memory work, we've got singing, we've got the geo-historical context of each song, and for many songs, I'm sure we can find the sheet music so that we can practice reading it. And best of all, the children actually seem enthusiastic about this plan! Will requested "something British" for our first song, I remembered how much I love "Froggy Went a-Courtin'" and looked it up, and wouldn't you know? It's British! The kids and I listened to loads of versions (my personal favorite: Bob Dylan's), but decided that Elizabeth Mitchell's would be the easiest to learn. So that's what we're doing.

And here's what we're doing for the rest of our week!

MONDAY: Neither kid seems to be much troubled by her Math Mammoth for this week--more fractions for Syd and more integers for Will--which is awesome, but Syd may never forgive me for subjecting her to the Base 60 system of the math of Ancient Babylon. It was mentioned in last week's Story of Science, so excuse me for thinking that it would be appropriate fare for a child. And it IS sooo interesting! They only had 59 gliphs, because they hadn't figured out 0 yet, and to record numbers with positional notation you have to use powers of 60. So, you know how with the number 324, say, the digit 4 is 4x1, and the digit 2 is 2x10, and the digit 3 is 3x100, or 3x10x10, or 3x10 squared? Well, if you had written that number in Ancient Babylon, you'd still have 4x1, but the 2 would be 2x60, and the 3 would be 3x60x60, or 3x3,600 or 3x60 squared. How cool is that?!?

Syd, sobbing angrily, assures me that it is not cool at all. Also, I am mean.

Art is back on our weekly work plans for a while. Matt had been giving the children art lessons during the weekends, but that's also our relaxation time, family time, grown-up time, chore time, errand time, and Girl Scout cookie-selling time, and for the past couple of months, art lesson time had just been seeming like one more thing to get stressed out about on the schedule, to not get to and then feel guilty about. Well, nobody needs that! I may not be qualified to teach drawing or painting to my children, but there are plenty of process-oriented, experiential and creative art activities that we can do together during our school week, such as this book, Once Upon a Piece of Paper, which I most conveniently received for free from a publicist and which teaches the art of collage. On this day, the kids and I did the background painting on small panels, and when that's dry we can complete the first exercise on small, combined compositions.

Bacchus isn't actually going to be on the National Mythology Exam (perhaps because he's the god of wine, hmm?), but we're including him, of course, in our comprehensive study of all of the Greek and Roman deities, which we'll actually finish up this week. Then it's on to Hercules and then some specific myths from other cultures. And then it will be time for the exam!

Syd and Matt thankfully remade all of the paper polygons that somehow must have gotten recycled after the last time we made them, sigh:

I highly recommend this book. Making the polygons was a great exercise in following directions, as well as a comprehensive review of terms associated with lines and angles, and unfolding each piece at the end and finding a perfect regular polygon?


On this day, the kids took those regular polygons, ordered them, mounted them onto poster board, and labeled them. We'll keep the posters on display in our hallway into they start looking ragged and I can recycle them, and we'll add the names to our daily Memory Work until the kids have got them down.

TUESDAY: We've proved the Pythagorean theorem using our decanomial square materials before, but on this day I want to show the kids how you can use the theorem to calculate one of the sides of a right triangle. Matt helped me mount our printable decanomial square to foam core, so I'm pretty excited that we'll have a lovely set of manipulatives to work with.

We're beginning Hercules today; he's an entire separate exam on the National Mythology Exam. Most of the study will consist simply of close reading, but I'll also put the 12 labors into our Memory Work.

I have suspicions that the children still didn't do great work on the first part of their unit-long assignment in our Animal Behavior MOOC, but it's almost impossible to look over their shoulders to check work done independently, on their own time. They may be sad kids, then, when they have to show me their work today, mwa-ha-ha! The second part of the assignment will consist of more regular observation and more note-taking.

Girl Scout cookie season is about to ramp up even further, with our cookie pick-up this weekend, delivery of pre-orders next week, and then cookie booths beginning next weekend and running all through February. It's worth the expenditure in time, both to witness the kids' visible progression of skills in talking to people, managing money, budgeting and planning and marketing, and, frankly, to have those profits at the end. The kids plan marvelous things to do with that money! On this day, however, they have just one cookie business job (although Syd will surely get Matt to take her out to do more door-to-door selling while Will and I are at fencing tonight...): decorating donation cans for Operation Cookie Drop and our troop. Last year, one of our troop's Girl Scouts discovered that when someone pays for their cookies in cash, if she asks them if they'd like to donate some change to Operation Cookie Drop or our troop, they often do! Just between us, donations to our troop are even better than cookie sales, because the council and the bakery don't get a cut of troop donations--that money is all for the kids! This year, I asked that our donation boxes be changed from shoeboxes to oatmeal canisters, because table space is just that important, and between all of the families, I do believe that we've scrounged up enough oatmeal canisters for there to be three complete sets, allowing us to run two simultaneous booths and to have one in another parent's car ready for a third.

And yes, I really can go on just that long about the art and science of selling Girl Scout cookies. Sorry!

WEDNESDAY: Mapping Hercules' journey is an activity suggested by Greek Mythology Activities, and one that I think the kids will enjoy. It involves close reading and research to determine where each of Hercules' labors was said to have taken place, then more research and map skills to place each one on an actual map.

Will is working through the cookie business badges in her Cadette book this month (she's currently working on the Budgeting badge--it's already led to some VERY interesting conversations!), but I want Syd to finish the Power of One award in her Agent of Change Journey before she starts the cookie business badges, mainly so that she can complete this day's assignment, which piggybacks so well on the Black History Month essay that she just finished a couple of weeks ago. Since she wrote a research-based essay on Mary McLeod Bethune for that, I'm hoping that she chooses a more creative response for this assignment.

Math Lab for Kids is another book that I received for free from a publicist, and I'm super excited to get into it, especially this map coloring lab. Did YOU know that there's an entire mathematical theorem about map coloring? There is, and it's utterly fascinating. 

THURSDAY: You may have noticed, but I purposely make our Thursdays and Fridays lighter. We're a little more tired at the end of the week, a little less enthusiastic, and sometimes we still have the odd project or two from earlier in the week to finish up. So on this day, the special work consists only of having the kids review, refine, and edit their Greek mythology family trees (I'm hoping that they'll be interested in decorating or otherwise embellishing them, as well), and beginning a short unit on meteorology by modeling cloud formation. The demonstration involves hair spray. We'll see how it goes.

You may also have noticed that we do a lot of science in our homeschool. We've got, what, three simultaneous science units going on right now? We have to have an animal unit at all times, because that's both children's main area of interest, our Story of Science unit is also this semester's history spine, and then I tend to throw in a unit on whatever else I think the kids need to know. Sometime before summer, that will be astronomy, because the total solar eclipse won't be fun unless we study for it!

FRIDAY: With the way the weather has been all year so far, it's wildly optimistic to think that it won't be pouring freezing rain on Friday for our cloud walk, but where there's life, there's hope! Matt designed some super-cool cloud identification windows that I can't wait to get the kids outside to use.

Now that Will is twelve (and a half!), she's on the verge of aging out of some Junior Ranger programs, which sucks, because she loves them SO deeply. In my "free" time, I've been browsing National Park sites that we're unlikely to visit before she's thirteen or fourteen, to see if she'll have aged out of the Junior Ranger program by then and, if so, if they offer Junior Ranger badges by mail. Our results have been pretty spotty when we mail in Junior Ranger books; we often haven't received responses even from sites that claim to offer Junior Ranger badges by mail, but it means a lot to the kid, it makes her happy, and it's educational, so why not give it a shot.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: The big event of the week is Girl Scout cookie delivery! Our entire troop will meet up on Saturday to help pick up, unload, sort, inventory, and distribute the cookies to all of our girls, and then I imagine that much of the rest of the weekend will consist of delivering pre-orders. I promise you, the kids are crazy into it. It sounds insane, but I think it's one of those things that you simply don't understand unless you're in the thick of it. 

And then cookie season will begin for freaking real.

What are YOU doing this week, other than getting ready for cookie season?

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