Monday, May 15, 2017

Work Plans for the Week of May 15, 2017: The Ancient Olympics, Medieval Manuscripts and the Temperature This Week

The kids had a lovely, short school week last week--or, at least, I suppose they did, as I was busy all week finishing up a giant etsy order. They completed all of their school work, both the book work and the projects--
Syd wrote her name using the futhorc.
--helped me outside when I asked (both my perennial sunflower and my thornless raspberry, both of which leafed out and grew when I first planted them exactly the way the instructions said to, are now wilting. I have no idea why, other than possibly that plants hate me?), and still had loads of time for their own play and projects. Syd's birthday brought her a bounty of new toys, so she, in particular, has been quite busy grooming her ponies and having tea parties with her dolls and dressing them for outings, etc.

Matt helped me finish packaging the last of my etsy order over the weekend, so that I was free to enjoy a happy Mother's Day with my family. We did all of my favorite things: an indulgent breakfast in bed (both the kids are now competent cooks, so a Mother's Day breakfast in bed is now quite the pleasant experience), nerdy presents (a wine bottle light, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, AND this DIY speaker kit which claims to require a full two hours of soldering--squee!!!); a long hike--

--a movie (Guardians of the Galaxy 2, FINALLY!), and then I lounged and read while the rest of them cleaned house. And THEN we ordered pizza and started to watch the latest Doctor Who as a family, but as soon as the first corpse appeared I covered Syd's eyes, and then when the pack of corpses appeared I sent her out of the room entirely because after last week's episode, she was too scared to take a shower in the bathroom by herself and we had to leave the door open and keep coming in to check on her--this season is DARK!

So it was a good week, a great weekend, and without a giant etsy order over my head this week is shaping up to be excellent, as well, as perhaps I can get many smaller things knocked off of my to-do list this week, and not just the one huge thing.

The kids' daily work for this week is the usual: typing practice on, progress on their MENSA reading lists (we do a LOT of independent reading in our homeschool, because Will loves reading more than anything else, and Syd loves listening to audiobooks more than anything else--might as well utilize those passions!), Wordly Wise 7 for Will (she ought to finish that book within the month, and then we'll take a bit of a break before beginning Wordly Wise 8) and a daily word ladder for Syd (she'll finish her book this month, too, but won't get much of a break before I make her get back to finishing up Wordly Wise 4), a Hoffman Academy lesson and then keyboard practice for both, SAT prep through Khan Academy for Will, and Greek language review, using a variety of sources.

Memory work is the same as last week, with the addition of measurement conversions, and Books of the Day this week include some classics that I thought the kids would enjoy (Will is going to be trying out both Little Britches and National Velvet--I'm sure she'll like National Velvet, but she'll probably end up skimming Little Britches), a couple of short non-fiction books on Ancient Greece, and this book on fairy houses for Syd.

And here's the rest of our week!

MONDAY: In Math Mammoth this week, Will is finishing up her chapter on graphing and data, and Syd is finishing her chapter on fractions, decimals, and ratios. While working with decimals, Syd had a little trouble with figuring out when and where to round. You remember how hard she worked learning to round the first two times around, so we're going to review rounding today, all of us, by playing this game. I like that it requires strategy as well as rounding skills, and I think we'll enjoy it.

For both math and grammar, the kids complete that day's lesson and give it to me. I mark their errors and on that day or the next school day, they have to correct those errors and give it to me again. If there are still errors, we go over them and work them together. Both kids HATE this, and I have no idea why. They act like I'm a condescending jerk just because I want to walk through multiplying fractions or identifying helping verbs with them. Will's strategy to attempt to avoid this scenario is to throw a giant fit and get a lecture from me and then have to do it anyway; Syd's strategy is to "forget" to show me her work and simply continue the next day with the next lesson until I realize that it's been days since I've seen her answers and go find them and mark them all at once. That's what she did last week for grammar, so for the first three days of Junior Analytical Grammar this week, I've told her exactly which lesson she needs to check and rework the incorrect answers to. You'd think she'd realize that she'd do better on subsequent lessons if she's just let me check her previous work, but both of my children are as stubborn as their father.

Will only has grammar review on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so on this day she and I work a mind bender. They're VERY fun, and in a couple of weeks, when Syd finishes Junior Analytical Grammar (if we stay on track this time...), I might have them both working mind benders three or so times a week during the break, they're so fun.

Even though both kids learned cursive years ago, neither every really uses it in their daily writing, so I have to enforce daily writing in cursive to keep their skills up. Will hates journaling and story prompts, so occasionally needs a break from them during which I just let her do cursive copywork. Currently, she's copying Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf for five or so minutes a day. Syd usually loves creative writing, and is in fact in the middle of writing a story entitled "Shopping Shipwreck," but is taking a break from that this week to write the thank-you notes for her birthday gifts. Two birds with one stone!

We're still pausing Story of Science so that we can catch up to it in the history of Greece; on this day, we're reading about the gradual settling in of the Dorians and Sea Peoples after they drove the Mycenaeans away from Greece; those pirates and barbarians are now the Greek people, and are starting new traditions in their new cities, one of the most interesting of which is the Olympics. We're actually going to see Olympia, Greece, next month, so you can bet that we're going to pay special attention to this lesson! On this day, the kids will listen/read the chapter in Story of the World volume 1, and then do the quiz orally with me, and the mapwork on the AAA map of Greece that we'll be taking with us. I got pissed at Will last week when after I'd told her twice to use a thin-nibbed pen and write small so that she didn't write over anything else, she used a too-large marker and obscured part of our planned route by scrawling "Mycenae" over their former city as well as the highway and 30 miles of surrounding countryside. Hopefully, even though she behaved like an obstinate jerk about it at the time, she'll take care to write smaller this week. I'm an obstinate jerk, too, so if she doesn't, I have no problem with begging a second map from AAA and then making Will do all her work over again.

We had our lesson on the physics of temperature last week, so this week the children are running an experiment to explore how various natural insulators affect temperature. We have three outdoor-friendly thermometers, which the children will install in various locations outside (one needs to go in the garden soil, and I have suggested that the inside of the chicken coop might be a good location for the second, but the third is dealer's choice) and then record their readings three times a day through Thursday. It would be a bit much to ask of just one of them, as we're a little too loosey-goosey in our schedule for two kids to both remember to check three thermometers three times a day, but I'm crossing my fingers that the kids can work out a system between themselves to get the work done.

Syd FINALLY finished all the work for her Girl Scout Junior Scribe badge this week, and attended a webinar on earning the Bronze award, so now she's all ready to go for it! She's meant to be observing her community to figure out its needs, but she knows that she wants to work in some capacity with animals, so she'll be "actively observing" by emailing local shelters and rescue groups and asking them what they need. Understanding the need to do this is a vital life skill--too many people take it upon themselves to do things for non-profits without that non-profit's go-ahead, and then that non-profit is left with, at best, a tertiary need met when a primary need could have been met instead, or at worse, a bunch of crap donations that they have to spend their own time and resources figuring out how to utilize. You should always ASK before you give.

TUESDAY: We were all set last week to make a working thermometer, so that the kids could observe the physics of temperature in action, when we discovered that Syd had used up the last of our clear straws making milkshakes for everyone as last week's cooking project. We stocked up on clear straws over the weekend (at the movie theater, obviously--we don't BUY straws!), and I hid them in my homeschool closet, so milkshakes or no milkshakes, we'll have straws aplenty for thermometers on this day.

Even though we're studying ancient history as part of our science unit (and for our upcoming Greece vacation!!!), the kids also wanted to study Medieval history this semester, and as a former Medieval scholar, myself, I am happy to comply. After spending three weeks on the Anglo-Saxon period (Celts! Beowulf! Runes!), we're finally going to allow Britain to be Christianized, The kids will read the chapter from Story of the World volume 2, then complete the mapwork from the activity book and do the quiz orally with me.

WEDNESDAY: As part of our study of the Ancient Olympics, the kids are going to organize and run a family Olympics on this day, to be held after Matt gets back from work. They'll need to research the Ancient Olympics and include the following components: 1) an opening ceremony; 2) at least five events, at least one of which must be adapted from the original Olympics, and at least one of which must be something creative and modern; and 3) something, traditional or contemporary, to award the winners. There will be some learning, sure, but mostly I think it will just be a fun family evening.

Will and I have a little bit more work to do on the last activity of her Girl Scout Cadette Budgeting badge (she's helping me create the budget for our Girl Scout troop for the coming year), but if we can finish that up before Wednesday, then she'll be free to start a new badge! She has several in hand that she wants to complete, including three retired badges that will be extra fun for her, and look extra interesting on her vest.

THURSDAY: Medieval monasteries are vastly important in the Middle Ages, and I actually have a couple of field trips that I'm planning this month to explore them further. Yes, medieval monastery-themed field trips in Indiana! There are two Catholic monasteries in Southern Indiana, both of which welcome visitors, and our local university's special collections library has a nice collection of medieval manuscripts. On this day, however, we'll be having a lesson on the illuminated manuscripts created in many Medieval monasteries, and then we'll be trying our hands at illuminating our initials. Syd loves to draw, and Will loves to color, so I think they'll both like this lesson and activity.

I encourage Syd to figure out her baking projects in advance, because I don't make last-minute trips to stores, but for the past couple of weeks, she's been choosing her projects based on what (little) we happen to have in the pantry, and I have to say that they've turned out amazing! Two weeks ago, she baked scones with frozen blueberries, and they were the most delicious scones that I've ever eaten, so delicious that she made me more scones, this time with chocolate chunks, for Mother's Day. Last week she tried to make milkshakes with the ice cream that we'd bought to use up the ice cream cones that we'd bought for Syd's castle cake. Instead of making milkshakes, she learned that our Vitamix quickly liquifies ice cream, but she turned it into a kind of milkshake/smoothie by adding frozen bananas and frozen strawberries. Thanks to the fruit, I felt quite justified in having milkshake/smoothie for lunch!

Who knows, then, what she'll come up with this week?

Do NOT let me forget to make the snack for Pony Club on this day! I'm supposed to be Snack Mom for the unmounted meetings, and usually I make something cute and sometimes even horse-themed, but last month, about a week and a half AFTER the unmounted meeting, it suddenly occurred to me, "CRAP! I didn't bring a snack to Pony Club!" Will says that her leader whipped out some cheese and crackers, since it was at her house, and nobody ever said anything to me. I feel like a monster. This week's snack will be extra delicious and even more horse-themed than usual... if I don't forget again.

FRIDAY: By Friday, we're ready to start winding down, and it's not unusual for one or both kids to still be working on something from earlier in the week, so even though I could have added a couple more assignments to this day, I decided to just let it rest with our daily work and the completion of this Junior Archaeologist badge book. If we do finish early and want some more learning, I've got plenty of craft projects and library documentaries that we can entertain ourselves with!

Hopefully, the kids will have been able to run their temperature experiment Monday-Thursday, so that on this day they'll be able to compile, organize, and present their data, and come up with a meaningful interpretation of the information.

SATURDAY/SUNDAY: For the first time in forever, the ONLY weekend activity that we have is Luna's obedience school on Saturday morning.  We could, therefore, take a day trip to one of those Southern Indiana monasteries, or we could stay home and work on the many outdoor projects that I've been nagging the family to help me with.

OR we could stay home and read in the hammock, watch movies in bed, and eat scones. That could be fun, too.

What are YOUR plans for the week?

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