Two weekends ago we embarked on an archaeological dig! Since we started our history study with learning about archaeologist and what they do, I decided the boys should get some hands on learning by going on a dig. We unfortunately don’t live near any dig sites so we had to improvise, but considering their ages it was probably better this way.

In order to do the dig we bought a plastic tub, some sand *although here it is the coral beach sand so that was an interesting element but we made it work*, and some discarded pottery I was able to get from the craft store for free.

I filled the tub with the sand and hid the “artifacts” while the boys played in the living room. Then I equipped them with brushes to clean off their artifacts, plastic cups to help them dig, aluminum pie plates to hold their “discoveries”, and hats to protect them from the “sunlight”.

For the next 30 minutes or so the boys went about digging up artifacts and we talked about archaeology/archaeologist. It was good fun and a great way to kick off our history learning which will be very hands on at times *with us spending the day living in times long past, immersing ourselves in the cultures and times*.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

So I scored an AWESOME deal this week on some supplies I had been wanting. As I mentioned HERE, I had been debating on purchasing an item from Hooked on Phonics that would allow us to continue working with Child #1 on his reading/phonics. I’m on the ad/catalog list for Hooked on Phonics, so this past week I got a small summer ad/catalog in the mail mentioning their sale *25% off*, one of the items featured in this sale was the Master Reader Deluxe program, there was also a Pre-K reading program that I thought would be fun to use with Child #2. So after adding the items to my cart I went out on a limb and tried the same code I used the last time I made a HOP order *SLICK50* I figured if it didn’t work it’s ok I’m still getting 25% off, but if it did work, well that would be AWESOME. And guess what…it worked! I don’t know how long HOP will allow this code to work, but I walked away saving 75%!

So if you have been thinking about buying something from HOP *Hooked on Phonics* then head over and see if the code is still working *as of Monday night it was*.

If you have scored any super savings head over to Money Saving Mom, and let the world know where the deals are.

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Well this was our first “normal” week, and it was pretty much a success! We stuck to our schedule fairly well for the most part. There were a couple of late days due to Child #2 sleeping in or both boys enjoying an extended quiet time *I think Child #2 may have a growth spurt coming*. Other than that for our first “normal” week I can’t complain.

Here is the breakdown of what we did by subject:

Language Arts: Language Warm-Up in Harcourt Language Grade One, this included making a book about our school.

Handwriting: Week One lessons in Writing with Ease

Phonics: We had originally planned to use Saxon Phonics levels 1 and 2 for teaching phonics, then I came across the Hooked on Phonics deal I wrote about here. So that is what we have been using instead. Child #1 enjoys it more than he did his phonics lessons last year, and Child #2 enjoys listening to the CD player with his brother or having his brother read to him. They are half way through HOP First Grade, after that is finished *possibly next week*, we will move on to HOP Second Grade, and then maybe another HOP product I have been thinking about purchasing.

Math: We started Saxon 2, the first lessons are more of a review/refresher and honestly Child #1 breezes right through them, which I kind of figured he would. So starting next week I’m going to just give him the assessments and once we reach a skill he hasn’t mastered we will start our lessons from there. This will more than likely put us finishing Saxon 2 sooner than originally planned, so I will have to formulate a game plan on how to handle that. The current ideas are either starting Saxon 3 once we finish Saxon 2 or just giving him practice work, so he is starting fresh on the Grade 3 work at the start of our 3rd year instead of a half now and half after our summer break deal that may make retaining the information more difficult.

Science: We did Unit 12 in R.E.A.L Science Earth and Space. It dealt with outer space and some of the things that can be found in outer space. We did a constellation activity where we plotted a few constellations, we also talked about what makes up some of the items we can find out in space.

History: First on the docket in our history learning was to learn about the people who make our understanding of history possible: archeologists. We have an activity still planned for this weekend that will allow the boys to be archeologists for a day, which should be tons of fun. I’ll have more on that once we complete it.

Social Studies: We skipped our social studies and virtue learning this week, since the student book for our social studies text is a CD-Rom I wanted to teach Child #1 how to navigate the CD-Rom before I started actively teaching our social studies work.

Art: We covered Lesson One in Artistic Pursuits, I still need to head to our local arts and crafts store so I can purchase a sketch pad for both boys to use as well as some other items I either don't have on hand or I do and don't want them to get destoryed *because they are for my own personal artwork and yes mommy needs some things to herself*.

Japanese Studies: For Japanese studies we headed off base to grocery shop and run errands. While out and about both boys had an opportunity to use Japanese and we acquired some new foods to try as well.

Child #2: Enjoyed playing with his toys, coloring, and even did some letter tracing *because he wanted to “do school” too*. Next week we will start using his learning poster again, and I’ll probably purchase him some preschool workbooks this weekend so he has more to do since he is eager to do work like his brother.

Overall it was a really great week and we are all looking forward to the rest of this school year.

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

**Disclaimer: All information on homeschooling methods will be just a generalized and very brief *if I can help it* overview of the method. Every family who uses these methods will of course work them to fit their needs. After each overview I will discuss some of the things I do and don’t like about the method in relation to our family. **

Unschooling is a simple concept, it is completely non-school in any traditional sense. No classrooms, no dictating what will be learned and when, it is child-led 99.99% of the time. Unschoolers believe in learning in the moment, they follow the child’s desires with the aim of sparking a continuous love of learning. There is a lot of real world applications in unschooling. Instead of learning money from a textbook unschoolers may opt to go on a grocery shopping trip and allow the child to handle the money.

When an unschooling parent wants to teach a certain subject they may rely on unit studies. Unit studies offer unschoolers a way to bring structure into their day if they *and most importantly their children* desire *or need* it.

Unschooling will be different for every family taking part in it *some families are more “radical“ in their approach and others dance the line between traditional school at home and unschooling*. Just as homeschooling is different in every family, even those who use the same method. Unschooling especially is different in every family because each child is different. Being child led one child may be into robotics and another may be into nature. So even among the kids in the family one child may be learning the ins and outs of robotics while another is learning how nature works.

Now would this method work for us? No. I’m sure you all already had that answer figured out from my previous posts. While I’m all fine and dandy with letting my kids follow what sparks their interest *and will allow for time in our day where they can study whatever floats their boats*, there are still core things I expect to be learned. Due to the fact that I expect them to learn these things, I expect myself to ensure they are taught. This means using textbooks and most importantly a schedule. Our days are way more affective with a schedule. While we do have days where it gets thrown out the window, all in all if we are attempting to meet learning objectives we need our schedule.

I can see the unschooling concept being great for small children or even as a last year of schooling before the boys embark on college, as a way to unwind before the work of paving ones future career really starts.

But during the main schooling years, I don’t see it working for our family. Alas nothing seems like a perfect fit, but there is still one more method to go over! Until then enjoy your summer ladies and gentlemen!

Unschooling Disclaimer: Everyone has seen unschooling in the media at some point in time, all I have to say is this, television is television and should be taken with a grain of salt. Yes they will hunt out the ones who prove their point so they can fill their hour long show with their thoughts and opinions. The same can be said for homeschooling, if you look at the media 9 times out of 10 homeschooling families are religious fanatics who shelter their children from anything they deem filled with "evil". Is this the whole homeschooling community? No it's not, is that how we are shown though, yes. While unschooling isn't for our family, there are families who make it work. Just like with any other method out there.

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Are you looking for a great way to get the kids reading during the summer? Than head to your local library and checkout their summer reading program(s). We are taking part in two summer reading programs this year. One requires the boys to read at least five books a week, after reading our five books we take the booklist to the library, they sign it off, and give both of the boys a free coupon for ice cream! Of course ice cream is a big hit during the summer. There will also be a huge party at the end of the program.

The second program we are taking part gave the boys cards with pictures on them that they must color in after 30minutes of reading, each card equals five hours and they must complete five cards during the program. After they complete each card we take it into the library and receive a prize. At the end of the program there are other prizes to be won as well. Basically these treats and prizes give a great incentive for children to read, especially with the call of the outdoors/TV/video games/ect. constantly screaming their names during the summer. They are really great for us, because of where we live by around 10am it is far too hot to spend time out and about unless you are at a beach or pool. Thanks to these programs I can easily lure the boys to a stack of good books, instead of losing them to the TV and video games that are so flashy and welcoming on a hot summer‘s day.

So if you haven’t checked out the summer reading program(s) at your local library head over and see what they have to offer. You may even discover a homeschooling program as well!

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Ah…my poor blog it has been a while. So what have we been up to? Well we have started our first lapbook in honor of the 4th of July. Our first lapbook *while still a work in progress due to all the fun we have had this weekend* will feature 3 mini-books. The 3 books will be symbols of the 4th of July *which we have already completed*, a timeline of some of the events that lead up to the 4th of July, and lastly a book with information on the five writers of the Declaration of Independence.

We did learn that mini-books can take some time *the first one took us about 2 hours* so they should be planned for accordingly. Other than that they are a fun way to incorporate interactive learning into your homeschooling.

This week *today actually* we attempted to start our first day of schooling for the 2010-2011 school year, but due to The Spouse being off for a four day weekend things didn’t pan out as planned. Honestly though this isn’t a bad thing, given The Spouse’s job we are just happy to have him in the country and not having to work on a holiday *like almost every holiday for the past…well…its been a while*, so we will just start adding a subject here and there, and then Monday get right into our full day schedule. The goal is to be completely on our school schedule by the end of the month.

Here’s to all of our new learning!

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes