Monday, May 1, 2017

Work Plans for the Week of May 1, 2017: Ballet, a Birthday, and Britain

I rearranged our priorities last week. The kids are fondest of doing their schoolwork off and on all day--there's no push to complete their work by a specific time each day, except that I don't allow them their hour of screen time until their schoolwork is finished. They're content with this system and it works well for them, but it doesn't really always work well for ME. There's often a kid asking me for a lesson or to help with a project long after I'm longing to turn my brain off for the day--sometimes as late as 9 pm, or later, when I'm already hanging out on my bed with a glass of wine and a Captain America graphic novel.

Last week, then, to start to get a handle on the problem, I asked the kids to meet me at the school table at 10:00 (yes, they're late starters--they like to veg out until 9:00, then do animal chores and have breakfast, then Will has to make herself a cup of tea and veg out some more while she drinks it), and then to work with their best effort for three full hours, with no slacking and no breaks, and we would finish school for the day promptly at 1:00, no matter if we'd completed work plans or not. There was still some slacking and some breaks, which means that Syd didn't always finish, and realistically, I want Will to work for more like 4 hours, not 3, so she didn't always finish, either, but since my goals were to get them accustomed to working for an extended period of time and to remind them of how lovely it is to finish school and have a whole afternoon and evening of freedom, the schedule suited my purposes.

I've also had some difficulty with the kids protesting at our lessons, and inconsistently, as well. First they love food-related projects, and then they don't. First they want to study such-and-such, and then they fuss at the actual assignment. So over the weekend, as I made our lesson plans for this week, I called each kid in individually, showed her every single thing that she didn't complete last week, and asked her if she wanted to complete it this week. If she didn't, I dropped it from the schedule, because it's not worth the fight. Then I went through every single assignment that I had planned for this week, and got their buy-in on every single thing. Will, most particularly, had to be made to understand that for every lesson, I have to see some sort of output from her; she cannot simply read a text and move on with her life. This got her buy-in for some of this week's hands-on projects, when I asked her what she'd rather provide me for output and she drew a blank. It's for sure time, though, to start thinking of more self-directed studies to give her for eighth grade.

After all that, then, it was more fun than I had anticipated to drop all of our responsibilities and head out to an overnight trip that our Girl Scout council put on as a Girl Scout Leader/Daughter Appreciation Event. Staff hosted us at one of the Girl Scout camps and provided fun activities--

--and a catered dinner--

--and prizes--

--and then let us enjoy having the camp all to ourselves for the rest of the day and night:

Camp Dellwood has an amazing wildflower hike, interspersed with exercise equipment. The kids LOVED it!

It was the perfect relaxing weekend before we start a week that will end in maybe a little more relaxing, but will also contain a birthday party and a ballet recital.


Daily work is the same this week, with both kids' buy-in: ten minutes of journaling or writing to a prompt; practice on; reading from their MENSA reading lists; Wordly Wise 7 for Will and a word ladder for Syd; a Hoffman Academy lesson or keyboard practice; and SAT prep through Khan Academy for Will. Syd will also be expected to help me with party prep every day this week, whether it's putting together the games and crafts or preparing the food or cleaning the house, AND she has hours of ballet rehearsal every night for her upcoming recital. She's going to be a busy girl!

Books of the Day consist of a couple of selections from the MENSA reading list that I have to be a little more encouraging about, a couple of non-fiction books on Ancient Greece, and a couple of things that I just thought they'd enjoy--a much more in-depth book on backyard chickens for Will, and the complete collection of Madeleine stories for Syd.

I'm not adding anything new to Memory Work this week, so it's still reviews of Platonic Solids, helping verbs, and Sonnet 116; and common prepositions, Pythagorean triples, the first eleven lines of Beowulf in Anglo-Saxon, and the apostles of Jesus.

And here's the rest of our week!

MONDAY: Syd is getting close to the end of Junior Analytical Grammar, which she's pretty thrilled about, as it's not a curriculum that she's loving. Too bad for her, as it's also a curriculum that is for sure teaching her the grammar concepts that I want her to have. When she's finished Junior Analytical Grammar, I'll likely give her a month or two off, and then it's on to Analytical Grammar! Will had a mind bender on this day--she's making such short work of them that I might skip to the middle of the book for her next one.

For now, we're moving very slowly through the Middle Ages, partly because there's so much more to explore than is there in Story of the World volume 2, which I'm using as a spine mostly for the chronology, and partly because we have so much more to do than Medieval history. There's no rush, though, and the kids are loving the study, so crawling away we go! This week, we're still in chapter two of Story of the World, because the kids remain interested in the Anglo-Saxon period and there's a lot more that we can cover. On this day, we're going to learn more about the Sutton Hoo ship burial. You can request free high-resolution images of artifacts held in the British Museum, but for efficiency's sake, they've also prepared a Powerpoint slide of Sutton Hoo artifacts, and that's what I'll be showing the children. Sutton Hoo isn't the first ship burial that we've encountered (there's also one in Beowulf), so we'll be discussing ship burial and burning in a little more depth, as well, using this dissertation as my resource. The kids then have the opportunity to make their own Viking longship, if they'd like, using either this tutorial or this printable, and we can either bury it or fill a Rubbermaid bin with water and burn it--gee, I wonder which they'll choose?

The kids really like completing Junior Ranger badges by mail, so even though it's a bit of work on the weekends, finding a badge program that 1) accepts badge books by mail and 2) has badge books that can be downloaded and can be well completed using internet research, it's worth it. For this week, I found that the Juan Batista de Anza National Trail has a badge program that can be completed online--score!

After loads of research, I finally bought the Level One curriculum in modern Greek from Greek123. If you're interested, I can tell you another time how I figured out which curriculum would be best, but for now I'll just tell you that the philosophy is to learn to read and write the language the way that a native child would; you can move more quickly, of course, using the same texts and workbooks,  and once you have around a third-grade reading knowledge, you can begin to read children's books written in the language, which will improve your skills even more. To make it more fun, and because you can't take a vacation unless you've studied for it, we're doing our Greek lessons nightly as a family, all four of us squeezed around the textbook, all four of us coloring the picture of μαμὰ in our workbooks. The curriculum includes access to an online tutor, so that's what the children will be practicing with every day as part of their work plans. and as it's also very important to expose ourselves to Greek daily (remember how many words a young child needs to hear before kindergarten? That's us!), right now we're listening to a lot of Greek pop hits on Spotify, although I'm hoping to also find some good Greek programming on Youtube.

I'm hoping that Will can finish up her Budgeting badge this week--starting a badge is always the most fun, but if Girl Scouts had their way, they'd do the funnest three activities from each badge, then drop it and start the fun activities for another badge. You've always got to encourage them to finish a badge by giving them more attention for the last couple of activities and making them more fun. For Step 4 of the Budgeting badge, then, I'm encouraging Will to complete the first activity, which is to make a list of her interests, then look for non-profits that are related to that interest. This will also open her up to more possibilities for a Take Action Project for the Breathe Journey that she's working through.

Will didn't do the temperature project last week, but says that she does want to do it this week. Since she's doing that, I won't move forward with our weather unit this week.

TUESDAY: Using the decanomial square to explore binomial squares was an activity that we didn't get to last week, but both children said that they did want to do it this week... we'll see. Syd also didn't interview her friends at playgroup last week, because most of them weren't there--the end of spring semester is a busy time for everyone, even homeschoolers! Rather than try a different activity to meet the badge's requirements, Syd said that she really wanted to try again this week... we'll see. Will could possibly finish her Budgeting badge on this day, by creating a workable budget and savings plan for our upcoming vacation to Greece. At first, I thought that I'd just have her plan for her own spending money, but now I'm thinking that it would be a more valuable experience to ask her to plan a family-wide budget and savings plan. We saved a lot to be able to pay for the vacation before we booked it (we don't carry credit card balances, which is a whole other discussion for a whole other day), but we could certainly do with more money for the trip itself!

Since Will is between seasons of Analytical Grammar, she has a worksheet in her Review and Reinforcement book on Tuesday and Thursday.

WEDNESDAY: Since I want to emphasize Greece even more in our applicable studies, I've decided to pause our Story of Science unit just before our chapter on Ptolemy and use Story of the World volume 1 to cover Greek history to that point. This week, we're covering Ancient Crete, Minos, and the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, and Daedalus and Icarus. On this day, the kids will read/listen to the chapter, answer the quiz questions, and we'll do the mapwork directly on our travel map of Greece--when we take this map with us to Greece, the kids will have an easy reference for what happened where! I also have some Youtube videos to show them of bull jumping, the Palace at Knossos, and Crete, etc.

The kids have been oddly reluctant to complete their current Your Kids: Cooking lesson, but they both insist that they don't want to skip it. Maybe this week we'll have quiche for dinner? Normally, Syd also has a separate baking assignment just for her, and she LOVES it, but this week her baking assignment is wrapped into party prep--she's going to bake all of the components for her castle cake herself.

THURSDAY: The National Mythology Exam didn't cover Theseus, although I'm sure the kids read that chapter for fun. Nevertheless, they'll read it again on this day, and make a trading card for Theseus.

Will didn't do her Beowulf translation yesterday, but I got out some of my Old English and Middle Welsh texts this weekend to show her, and she was enthusiastic about looking at them, and claims that she does want to try the translation this week. I hope she does, as I'm really looking forward to what she comes up with!

FRIDAY: We'll probably spend a majority of the day in party prep for the next day's fairy tale-themed birthday party, but we'll set aside some time for a lesson on the futhorc, the runic language of Anglo-Saxon Britain. We'll have a lesson and look at some examples, and then the children can create a moveable alphabet of runes, if they wish. When I showed this activity to Will, she claimed that she'd be willing to do it (despite grousing about every single activity that we did last week), but Syd is more likely my sure thing.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: Birthday presents. Ballet recital dress rehearsal. Birthday lunch. Party prep. Fairy tale birthday party. Sleep. Wake up. Ballet recital. Frozen yogurt afterwards, perhaps, if we're not already too sugared out from the birthday party.

What are YOUR plans for the week?

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