Monday, May 22, 2017

Work Plans for the Week of May 22, 2017: Sparta, Prehistoric Fashion and a Three-Day School Week

Last week was GREAT! It was a fabulous, productive week full of work and play for both the kids and me. Check out Syd, who was supposed to be helping me make egg carton and beeswax fire starters, but discovered midway through that sun-warmed beeswax is even better than modeling beeswax:

Our weekend was just the same--obedience school and an open-house at the kids' sleep-away camp, as well as cookie baking and an astounding amount of time spent with books and movies. I read The Man Who Walked Between the Towers to the children late on Saturday night, and then Matt remembered that Man on Wire is actually on Netflix right now, so instead of sending the kids to their own beds we all camped out on our bed to watch it. THAT was so inspiring that I now have a beginner's slackline kit on my to-buy list!

This week will be either just as great, because we only have three days of school, or stressful and hectic, because we have a LOT of field trips and classes and meetings instead of school. As homeschoolers, I'm not sure if we can handle two whole days during which we have to be up and ready to go by 8 am. We'll see!

Books of the Day this week are science picture books, Native American folktales, a novel that I read last week and thought Will would like, and the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia for Syd. Other daily work includes cursive copywork for Will, time for creative writing for Syd (she's been working for weeks on a story entitled "Shopping Shipwreck"--it's pretty great), typing practice on for both, progress on their MENSA reading lists, keyboard through Hoffman Academy, Wordly Wise 7 for Will (she's almost finished!) and a word ladder for Syd, SAT prep through Khan Academy for Will, and Greek language review. Trying to include Matt in our Greek language lessons is turning out to be a huge roadblock to progress, as he's turning out to be quite adept at wiggling out of the lessons, so we may have to drop him. There is no space for weakness in our homeschool!

And here's the rest of our week!

MONDAY: After some extra hands-on lessons last week, Syd understands the concept of dividing fractions now, but still needs more reinforcement to cement the algorithm. She hates and I LOVE these worksheets from Math-Aids; whenever a kid needs more drill in a certain area, I always check Math-Aids first, and they almost always have worksheets that apply. When she's got dividing fractions down, her Math Mammoth curriculum is circling back to geometry, while Will's is circling back to percents this week. Their hands-on math this week, therefore, has to do with neither! In this short week, I just needed something that wouldn't take a lot of time or preparation, and ratios do apply to both fractions and percents. Monday is also mind bender day for Will. Some day, it would be nice to find a firmer logic curriculum, but until then, these puzzles will get your brain moving!

Syd is close to the end of Junior Analytical Grammar. When she's finished the book, both kids will spend some time on Latin and Greek root words before I make Syd start Analytical Grammar, which she is going to LOATHE. Will is still working through the first season's Review and Reinforcement workbook twice a week; when she's finished with that, she'll start the second season of Analytical Grammar--Will likes worksheets, fortunately, because she likes something concrete that she can zip through and be done with.

While Will has class after class and camp after camp and activity after activity this summer, Syd is going to be spending the summer working hard to earn her Girl Scout Bronze award. She and some sister Scouts are meeting later to share their brainstorming work and to debate and decide on their Take Action Project, and because Syd has a plan that she's very fond of, she's going to spend part of her day today working on a presentation of that plan. How about that for a school assignment that directly applies to the real world? Will, on the other hand, is going to work on helping me finish up our troop budget and helping me make an analog record-keeping system that will live inside of a notebook, the better to travel and trade off with, my Dear.

Our Story of the World volume 1 chapter this week is a comparison/contrast between Athens and Sparta. Sparta is further south than we'll be traveling on our Greece trip, but we'll be spending a LOT of time in Athens! On this day, the kids will read/listen to the chapter, verbally answer the quiz questions, then complete the mapwork directly onto the road map of Greece that we'll be taking with us on our trip.

For Syd's birthday, I gave her this book of fashion history. I didn't tell her at the time that it was going to be the spine for a fashion history unit study for the two of us, but she's game, and we're starting this week! On this day, we'll read about the clothing worn during prehistoric times, and then I'll hopefully interest Syd in exploring some more with her small wooden loom. She was really into it for a while before setting it aside, but I bet that when I show her the colorful yarn that I bought her, and what a Pinterest search will reveal, she'll be inspired once again. I just wish that she had two looms, so that I could play alongside her!

TUESDAY: On this evening, we have a Girl Scout meeting/cookout to practice outdoor cooking skills, in preparation for a future troop camping trip. My two are bringing fresh fruit that travels and stores well for camping, and will research each fruit's nutritional information, then create a display or label to share that information with the other girls. At the cookout there will also be burritos, fire-baked potatoes, foil packet green beans, and gourmet variations upon the s'more--I think they're going to eat well!

In the years that we've been homeschooling, I've gotten a lot better about not reinventing the wheel while also avoiding most packaged curricula. This has coincided, of course, with the development of so many more freeschooling options, from MOOCS to open courseware to podcasts to YouTube channels of significant educational value. And that's why instead of creating my own lesson on the democracy of Ancient Athens, I just have to point the children to this excellent TED-Ed lesson.

This Junior Archaeologist badge book is a doozy--38 pages, and several hands-on activities!--so the kids are taking an extra week to work on it. Fortunately, as with all the other Junior Ranger books that they've encountered, they're loving it.

In our weather unit, we're moving on from temperature to air pressure. On this day we have an activity planned to demonstrate how air pressure works; in upcoming lessons, the kids will build a working model of a barometer and use that to measure air pressure for a period of time.

WEDNESDAY: The kids and I will be volunteering at the Children's Museum, running tabletop activities related to cars and physics. This is one of the funnest and easiest of volunteer assignments, and perfect if you enjoy interacting with all kinds of children.

THURSDAY: Sparta is probably my favorite city-state, and I am going to take a LOT of pleasure in helping the children dress up in Spartan armor! They have to research what they need themselves, but of course I know what they'll come up with, and I already have gold duct tape winging its way to me from Amazon, and Matt on the lookout at work for cardboard sheets that MUST be at least three feet in diameter. Return with your shield or on it!

Most of the day, however, will be spent on our local university's campus, where we have an afternoon appointment with a librarian at the special collections library. She has promised to show us some lovely examples of medieval illuminated manuscripts, parchment, bindings, and even scribal errors. I am, as you can imagine, pretty darn excited about our visit.

FRIDAY/SATURDAY/SUNDAY/MONDAY: What a nice, long weekend we'll have! The kids have their all-day nature class on Friday, we'll do some traveling over the weekend, and if I can have as relaxing of a Memorial Day as I had last Saturday, I will be happy and ready and eager for another...

...hmm. Looks like we have another three-day school week next week, too!

What are YOUR plans for the week?

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