Well it’s that time of year, the lights are hung and the tree is up *all earlier than we usually do these things since I wanted to take advantage of a Shutterfly sale*. The kids are getting anxious, and I’m ready for our winter break that starts in about two weeks.

Even though we will be on break, we will still be getting plenty of use out of our Knowledge Books, and I will be knee deep in 2011-2012 school year prep. I’ve also been putting some finishing touches on the classroom, organizational wise which I will share more of once I have it all completed.

Slowly, but surely we are getting a grasp on homeschooling in terms of our family and what works best *not too bad for only our second official year of homeschooling as far as I‘m concerned*. It is very much a lifestyle, even the holidays can’t escape it’s educational opportunity reach.

But it fits us so well and I can’t picture having it any other way.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of good food and fabulous family and friends. We had wonderful friends over *and thought often of our family and friends back home*, because yes homeschoolers do socialize with people. *Gasp*!

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

*Yes, I know it’s only Wednesday night in my part of the world, but I will be VERY busy tomorrow. *

This is usually a Secular Thursday post, but since this Thursday is Thanksgiving I figured I would make a thankful post that is secular homeschooling focused.

Number One on this list is obviously that I am thankful that we have the means and ability (freedom) to homeschool our children. It is a personal choice that not everyone gets the pleasure, fear, and frustration to make.

I’m thankful that we homeschool for secular reasons (most importantly for the pursuit of facts, knowledge, and evidence that we can use to form our own opinions and grow as people). There is freedom in being able to question everything, even if the questions require mommy to stay up late into the evening hunting for the answers.

I’m also thankful for access to two libraries *one of which employs a very dear friend of ours*. Having these buildings of knowledge at our disposal has been a treat. We often find items that we have longed for *one of those items being the Life series I picked up yesterday that I have wanted to purchase but have held off on it due to the price tag*, and also items that are extremely useful and occasionally show themselves on one of our many visits. The find this week happens to be Thanksgiving themed!

The book is called Thanksgiving: The True Story and it has a wealth of information! It also lead me to track down America’s Real First Thanksgiving: St. Augustine, Florida, September 8, 1565.

I had never heard of this book until I picked up Thanksgiving: The True Story, and I’m so glad I now know about it! I tracked it down on Amazon and it also has a teaching guide/manual to go with it! It was written by a fifth grade teacher in 2007, and thankfully she was kind enough to make a teaching guide/manual to go along with it. Since I *like most Americans* had never even heard about the 1565 Thanksgiving (until now), and was only taught the Plymouth story a teaching guide/manual will come in real handy. I’m planning to purchase the set, and some other items to go along with it, and work them into our studies this time next year.

This homeschooling journey of ours has been and will continue to be a ride, but I am truly thankful for the moments we are able to create because of it. As well as for the wonderful friends we have meet on this adventure, who continue to be a source of inspiration and support.

Happy Thanksgiving All!
Now Go Eat and Be Merry!

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

It’s been a week since I posted! Yikes! We’ve had a lot going on, and very little of it is school related. We’ve taken days off to spend with The Spouse, then there is the holiday prep which always seems to send the whole world into a tailspin, as well as birthday prep for Child #1. So needless to say we are rather busy. What I have been debating on the school front is how to tackle the teaching of Thanksgiving. I don’t like the glossed over teaching that you often get, with the fairy tale of everything being just peachy keen. So I went looking for resources. I’ve found two so far.

One being the History Channel’s piece on Thanksgiving, naturally, and the second being Nat Geo for Kids. The Nat Geo site actually does mention some common myths surrounding Thanksgiving as well as how Wampanoag people feel about the day now, and what they do instead.

I’m currently *along with everything else on my overflowing plate* trying to figure out how to make this information into an informative but interesting lesson. Right now I’m leaning towards printing out some clip art, and playing some Truth or Fiction. I’ll have more of what I actually put into action after the insanity of this upcoming week passes.

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

I’ve mentioned before about my issues with so called “neutral” homeschooling science materials. While I was configuring the changes for our science learning I really tried to tell myself that I could handle the term “neutral” when it comes to Physical Science, Chemistry, and Physics. But I can’t. So what am I going to do? Well let me backtrack a bit about my plans and then I’ll tell you my solutions.

We currently do a Space/Earth/Biology combo when it comes to science. I’ve decided starting next year we will add in Chemistry and Physics/Physical Science. I also want to add in more structure *for myself as far as planning* to ensure that they get some core information. I really wanted something to use as a guide to ensure I hit important topics, and to also use as a fall back when I just can’t come up with some sort of activity for the topic at hand.

At first I considered using Real Science 4 Kids *Chemistry and Physics*, but the more I learned about the author the more disinterested in the product I became. So then I found myself in a tough situation, where would I turn to solve this problem in front of me? I decided to look at public school textbook sellers again, even though I wasn’t happy with the bundle I purchased at the start of the year, I figured looking again wouldn’t hurt.

So I searched around and came across THIS. It is Prentice Hall Science Explorer, one of the top middle school science programs in America. Yes I said middle school. I searched through the elementary programs and found them mediocre at best. I guess for students who have never been exposed to very much in the way of science the elementary programs are great, but in our home they would serve as mere paperweights.

So I will be using middle school textbooks as our guide in science. I personally feel we dumb down scientific education in America to start with, and we underestimate the abilities of children. Just take a look at the table of contents for the Prentice Hall Science Explorer books, a lot of it is very simple basic stuff. Especially, since we will be using it as a guide and adding in reading books to further teach the topics *so we can go in depth as needed for their level of maturity and attention span*.

I’ll be purchasing the Physical Science one to meet our Physics/Chemistry learning for next school year. I’m going to alternate years, starting next year will be the Physics/Chemistry year, then after that will be our Space/Earth/Life combo. Once we end our Elementary years I’ll purchase some high school level science books and we will spend a year on each topic *Space/Earth, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics*, from there they will be entering their high school years and should be ready for intro college level science.

Am I crazy for tackling our science this way? Possibly. But then again I’m probably crazy for home educating so this really isn’t a big departure from my overall craziness. I also have flipped through enough textbooks in my day to know that what a middle school science book has to offer is something an elementary student with time, support, and a library card can figure out and actually understand. Which I’m sure says something about the current state of Science in America.

But I’m sure I don’t really need to spell that something out for anyone reading here.

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

I mentioned a few times here that we do SpiralScouts at home, I’ve even discussed starting a Circle *we currently have a Hearth due to it just being our family taking part*. We have various badges we are working towards, but the main ones are part of the Wheel Of The Year series, which requires learning about the Pagan Sabbats.

I wasn’t 100% sure as to how to tackle teaching the boys the Sabbats, and so I went searching online for things to help teach them. I came across a few books online through Amazon, but they were clearly for parents who were Pagan/Wiccan and raising their children as such. Which doesn’t work for us, so I formulated a plan. I knew what I wanted, I knew what I wanted to get out of it, so I just went ahead and made it myself.

The Waldorf Homeschooling Method mentions “Main Lesson or Good Books”, but these are something to be made by the child as a way to keep track of their work. The “books” I made could be seen as similar since they will hold work the kids will do *or have done*, but they already hold the knowledge I want them to learn *hence the name Knowledge Books*, and they were made by me, not the boys. If we update them *which depends on them being affective first off* then I’ll probably let the boys take over in the creating department.

I set off making the first Wheel of the Year book, and as I was doing it, it hit me that I could do the same thing with our winter holidays as well. This would allow for all the information to be in one spot, and the boys will have something lightweight, full of info, and readily available as we work through the December holidays. So after I got through the knowledge books for the Wheel of the Year, I tackled the winter holidays.

I’m really considering making other ones for the other holidays that take place throughout the year, possibly one that focuses on patriotic holidays *The 4th, Flag Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day*, then one for the other holidays that are scattered throughout the year. Put I’ll see how this work for us. So you want to see what they look like? Ok here you go!

Each “book” is made out of a 3-pronged folder in the boys’ favorite colors. All images were acquired though a simple search of online images. I would just plug in what I was looking for “Wheel of the Year”, “Santa Claus”, etc., and then scan through the results until I found images that I liked.

Wheel Of The Year Knowledge Books

Winter Holidays Knowledge Books

On the inside of each book are markers so we can easily find the holiday we are covering.

They will most likely be temporary since they are just post-it markers and aren’t built for a lot of pulling, over even general wear and tear. Not sure just yet what I will use on the ends as tabs, any ideas are welcomed though!

For each holiday there is an image that ties into the holiday glued onto cardstock, and then on the back of the cardstock I glued a little write-up of the history for each holiday. I found the histories doing a basic search, the Pagan Sabbats info came from Proud To Be Pagan, and the Christmas info in particular came from the History Channel website *LOVE that channel and their website*.

The images for the Sabbats books were found online, they were images from a calendar dating back to around 2007. They were perfect for the book and I’m so glad I found them.

On the inside of the Sabbats books I placed another Wheel of the Year image since it mentions the various names that the Sabbats go by.

I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out, the next goal for these "books" is to fill them with activities the boys can do to further their knowledge. The “books” took a couple of weeks to finish, due to running out of some supplies *the sheet protectors, card stock, and glue sticks*, as well as having a mile long list of other things I needed to accomplish at the same time. But, all in all the project was fairly easy.

Curious as to where I’ll be getting some of the things I will be filling these “books” with?

Well there is Pooka Pages, which I used to discuss Mabon back in September. There is tons of stuff there that is all kid based and makes learning about the Sabbats fun. Proud To Be Pagan KIDS has some fun useful stuff like recipes, which we will probably do and then add pictures of our creations to our “books” along with the recipes for future reference.

As for the winter holidays, I’ll probably use Enchanted Learning printouts, the library, and various things (printouts, activities, recipes, crafts, books, etc.) I’ve collected over the past few years since discussing winter holidays is a yearly thing in our home. The only holiday that has me stumped is HumanLight. It is fairly new, but it is a Humanist holiday and more inline with our family’s beliefs and practices. So I wanted to teach the boys about it, and potentially have it be a holiday we actively take part in. But finding things to go with it is proving difficult. I guess I’ll just have to be a bit creative on that one.

So for more information you can checkout the following sites:

Pooka Pages

Proud To Be Pagan, and for the KIDS

History Of Christmas

History of Hanukkah

Kwanzaa Official Website

Humanlight Official Website

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

Well our little ol’ blog received an awesome award from Life’s Adventures! Thank you Life’s Adventures! It is the Stylish Blog Award…someone thinks this blog is stylish! How awesome is that?! *WAY Awesome!…Look I’m talking to myself I’m so excited*…

...Anyways, here are the rules and what not:

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this on to 15 other great bloggers you recently discovered.

4. Contact the selected bloggers and tell them about their awards.

*Ok I’m tweaking the rules a bit because like with the last award I got I just didn’t get around to telling the folks I selected that I had selected them, and I don’t foresee me being able to do that this time around either. But I’ll still pass it on to 15 bloggers…this will just be my way of contacting you all*.

Now for 7 facts about myself…oh geez…this could get interesting….

1. I’ve been to many places in my life *and I still have many more places to see and experience*, but I haven’t found anywhere I really call home. Obviously, my current location is “home”, it has my children and my husband. We grow, learn, laugh, and fight in this home. But I don’t feel like I have roots anywhere. Just scattered branches here and there. I’m not sure I ever will have roots anywhere *and I‘m comfortable with that*…which brings me to #2...

2. I’m a nomad, and the thought of staying somewhere too long makes me feel restless. I love the idea of living where we do for as long as we plan to simply because, there is so much to see and do and SO many travel opportunities that I don’t feel like we are stuck. I felt that way in the town we left before The Spouse joined the military. Now I feel like the world is our playground, and there is a strange comfort in that, probably because of what I mentioned in #1.

3. I never planned to homeschool, and truly never even considered it an option for us. As Child #1 moved from a bouncing baby, to a clever toddler, and then a precocious preschooler addressing his educational needs became a reality far sooner than we ever thought they would be. The plan for both boys to attend public school *preferably one near where I would be working or in the same school I would be working in* quickly changed to me seeing no better option than for them to be educated at home. Of course it took some convincing to get The Spouse on board, but it has been a decision I’m very pleased with *even on the rough days*.

4. I get random ideas in my head and try my best to write them down so I don’t forget them. This habit has resulted in various stacks of papers and notebooks. The Spouse refers to them as clutter, I refer to them as moments of beautiful *creative* insanity.

5. I would much rather pop in a documentary to learn something than drop over 500$ on college textbooks that I may only open once or twice. But I’ve been a college student off and on since 2005.

6. My family really is dysfunctionally functional. And yes that probably makes no sense to anyone, but us.

7. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now to name the lucky 15:

bore me to tears

Finding the Fantastic…

Lost Persons Homeschool

I Capture the Rowhouse

Zachary’s Classroom

You’re Not Lost…

Athena Academy

Enlightened Life

Life With Monsters

St. Louis Homeschool…

Raising Three Thinkers


Grab Your #2’s

Elle’s Beads Blog

Bill Maher's Blog
*He won’t ever get this…but I love me some Bill Maher! Oh yes I do indeed. LOL.*

Enjoy the award folks! Sorry I can’t swing by each blog and leave a special comment, but I have a to-do list that needed to be done yesterday. I’m sure you all can understand. And once again thanks Life’s Adventures!

Copyright(c)2010 Rayven Holmes

Well Child #2 isn’t much a tot anymore, he is a preschooler and this preschool status has had me mulling over for a while the best way to tackle his education. What shall I do with this bouncing sponge that is my child. He already knows some of the basics *colors, body parts, how to say the alphabet, and count to about 12 without mistakes*. We are currently working our way through letter and number recognition.

Number recognition is proving challenging not because he doesn’t get it, but because he insist on saying everything is the number of his age. Even if he knows it isn’t, and you can ask him to count the objects and he will count them and give you the correct answer. He just prefers everything to be the same number he is…which is actually kind of cute, but still slightly frustrating because I want to know that he really knows this.

I’ve tossed around for the last few months the idea of getting a box curriculum *nothing expensive* just something to get our feet wet on the kindergarten end with Child #2, since he is ready in some respects, but not ready in others. That way when the 2012-2013 school year rolls around we could either start formal kindergarten or our K/1st combo, since we’ve never really had solid grade levels it’s always just a combo of things.

For instance Child #1 is on a 1st/2nd combo *1st in Language Arts and History, 2nd in Reading and Math (their science topics are beyond what is usually taught in 1st/2nd grade so I don’t count it)*. It works and ensures each need is being meet, and while I’m finally at a point where I feel I have a good grasp on Child #1’s plans I am just now looking at the full picture with Child #2.

Should I go box to expose him to formal lessons since he is so vastly different from Child #1 or should I piece together something from what we already have and see how that pans out? I was so close to going box, just to help me figure out what exactly I should do with him. But then I realized I already know this child. When I really sat down and thought about it, I already know exactly how he learns.

He is a mover, a shaker, and a creator. He is a lover of bodily functions and knows how songs in their honor either freaks grown-ups out or sends them into hysterics. He is our little entertainer and constant source of laughter and frustration. He is definitely not a child meant to fit into any sort of box, and for to even consider it seems blasphemous to the very essences of who he is.

So now what? I realized getting a box was out of the question even though there was one I really wanted to try *mostly just because I wanted to try it…I’m an educational material junkie…don’t ever leave me alone at a homeschool convention please!* So what am I going to do with him for the 2011-2012 school year…well a lot of what we do now, with a little more emphasis put on it.

I currently have the PreK Learn To Read program through HOP, and we have used that a little. My current plan is to increase our usage of it throughout the rest of this school year, since it is fairly easy and can be completed before the end of our school year. After that we will move to the Kindergarten program that HOP has which we already own. I’ve started using it a bit just to see how Child #2 would react to it, and he enjoyed it. We just spent a few minutes playing the audio disk and flipping through the alphabet cards, but it appealed to him.

I know whatever I use with him, it will have to allow him to do something on his own *like flipping the cards*, as well as not confine him to a single area *an audio disk means he can move about the living room going through the cards while listening…which makes him very happy and even more eager to do a quick lesson*.

While I have phonics down, I still have to tackle the issue of math. It is such an easy subject for Child #1 and a lot of what he knows he taught himself . I have yet to actually teach him a math lesson this year, I just handed him the Saxon Math 2 workbook 1 and he has been going through it, reading the questions, asking for help when needed, and getting the work done.

He even takes it upon himself to write the days of the week on our class board so he doesn’t have to ask me to spell them when prompted to give a day of the week in a math problem. He has always been like this…Child #2 on the other hand is his polar opposite. And has to be taught accordingly, this I know.

Which means I have to be creative, yet still tackle my own personal feelings of guilt about potentially leaving something out in his education. I’m not 100% sure of how I will handle this in the higher grades, but for his PreK/K work I’m leaning towards various workbooks and hands on activities.

I can get workbooks from the base bookstore for very little money and we own a box full of math manipulatives, which will at least give us a base to spring from. Hopefully, it sparks his interest and then I can see about working in Saxon Math sometime during the 2012-2013 school year. And then just go from there.

As far as his science and history go, well I’m finding that just letting him be present has proven good enough. He enjoys doing our hands on stuff with us, and he is actually absorbing what he hears, even if it seems like he could care less. He just chooses to blurt out random facts *like that we live in the milky way* while holding a glass of milk at dinnertime.

Of course this earns mommy another point as The Spouse looks on in shock that his preschooler knows our galaxy, but it also helps ease my fears a bit. Maybe, just maybe if I’m consistent enough he will absorb it all and there is truly nothing to fear. Not like there isn’t any pressure not to screw him up or anything….

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Well it’s that time again in the states. If you don’t know where your nearest polling place is head over to, they have tons of election information *including a polling place finder/search*.

And here is a little Schoolhouse Rock *who doesn’t love Schoolhouse Rock?* to get you through the day.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes