So here is my 100th post! I would do some sort of giveaway, but I have nothing to give *aside from my love*. So instead here is a website with fun things to do for the 100th day of school and here is a list of 100 things to do before you die. See how many items you can mark off of the list and enjoy doing the things you haven't done yet!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

“The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.”~ Fred Astaire

In our home manners are very important. Do we always have the best manners? No, of course not we aren’t prefect. Dinner time at our home is a cross between gross-out hour at a back alley comedy club, and a meal with Ms. Manners. I would prefer to knock down some of the back alley talk and increase the influence of Ms. Manners. Of course increasing Ms. Manners influence means not only showing but teaching manners. Now I want T.B.M. to learn more than the general stuff we have already taught them *please, thank you, excuse me, etc.*, but also things that may seem outdated *place setting, thank you notes, table manners, etc.*. Overall, etiquette or “the rules of acceptable behavior”.

Once I established that etiquette was something I wanted to work into our curriculum beginning with this upcoming 2011-2012 school year I had to figure out a plan of action. Aside from the general stuff we have already taught the boys The Spouse and I are noobs to the etiquette game. So I went in search of a program to help teach not only the boys but myself at the same time. So far I have narrowed my choices down to The Etiquette Factory and Homemade Manners.

I’m leaning heavily towards The Etiquette Factory since they give a more detailed description of each program along with pictures. I also find the price reasonable considering all that comes in the program. The only problem, like with anything we order, is getting it here. That dreaded APO label always creates some hoops that need to be jumped through.

Despite that I think The Etiquette Factory is the way we are going to go. I’m sure it will be an interesting experience when we start implementing it into our schedule.

So much to plan! I’m really looking forward to our 2011-2012 school year. Tons of learning and fun in store.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

We are into our third week of break, and it has been extremely refreshing. Of course what I am learning about my “weird” homeschoolers, is that no matter if we are breaking or not you can’t stop their desire for knowledge. This afternoon while I was putting away laundry General Disarray was downstairs going through our school closet. By the time I had returned downstairs he was happily working on a Kumon Subtraction workbook. He worked up until it was time to get ready for karate, and then started back once he finished his dinner. We didn’t pull him away from it until bedtime at which point he says “don’t move my book because I’m going to work on it in the morning.”. It amazes me how you can create an educational rich environment and children will gravitate to whatever strikes their fancy.

It does a mother’s heart good.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Our family has been enjoying some time off from our formal school lessons the past couple of weeks, and we still have a couple more weeks to enjoy. On our first week of break we headed to a few nature parks/hiking trails. Even though we aren’t enjoying formal lessons at the moment, we have still done a lot of learning. On our hikes the boys got to experience nature in a way they hadn’t been able to yet. We talked about the importance of respecting nature, and how we must leave it the way we found it. As well as how doing these things will ensure that others get to enjoy it, and that it *the nature setting we are in* is able to continue to thrive.

Not only were T.B.M. able to learn about respecting nature, we also discussed camouflage when we came across some lizards on our hike. We talked about adaptations, evolution, and when General Disarray mentioned how lizards would turn blue or green if they were around something blue or green I asked him what color would the lizards need to be where we were. He then went on to determine that the lizards would have to be brown *which they were* since the ground was brown, and if they had been in the grassy hill area near us they would have been green. I pressed as to why he had determined this, and he went on to state that they would need to hide in order to protect themselves, they could only do that if they matched the area around them. Which is the whole point of camouflage and we didn’t need a book to learn that! Woohoo!

Aside from the unscripted learning there is the family bonding component that really makes homeschooling great for us. Due to work commitments The Spouse hasn’t had a solid block of time off of work since 2009. This was the best time for him to finally get the time that has been building up. Since we school at home there was no question that if he got the time off we were going to take it and enjoy it. We make our schedule and when we can add in quality family time we do it. It’s an advantage we wouldn’t have any other way. I can’t picture life without this advantage, T.B.M. get this amazing benefit of rare moments learning and growing with their father. Their time with him is so precious, and we are able to increase the time they have with him because they are schooled at home.

There is nothing more beautiful then hearing the laughs of your children while they run free with their hero. While homeschooling isn’t always easy, it has brought more to our lives then we ever anticipated. And for that I am truly grateful.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

BrainyFeet has a great post on why the Joneses can suck it! Amazing read. Go forth and confront your conformity head on.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

A few people have asked me about my shorthand on this blog so I figured I should dedicate a post to the section of our blog entitled roll call. This should help clear up any issues now or in the future. If you look just above the cute little apple with today’s date on it, you will see the word Pages and then *currently* two listings *these will eventually increase*. If you click the Roll Call page it will direct you to a list of all the players on this here blog.

This list will be updated as needed, to either include new friends or family members who are relevant to a post. If you are ever in doubt click there. I try to avoid any and all military lingo so if you see any acronyms or funny names they are aliases for people we know. At which point just click on the Roll Call button and learn a little bit about the person you are reading about, and most importantly what all those initials mean.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Today we enjoyed a great early afternoon bowling/lunch date with some of our M.O.M.s. Yes, we took the dysfunction outside of our home *gasp*! While bowling a friend and I started chatting about the issue of influence. It was nice to talk this out with someone who understands where I am coming from on this issue. To back track a bit, the F.O.D has been on me about enrolling General Disarray into public school this upcoming school year. Why?

Well socialization…of course! He can completely see homeschooling being valid on an academic front, but social time, that seems to trump the educational value that he can see in homeschooling. That *social time being more important than the educational component* annoys me in and of itself. This aside for me the issue of social time extends to more than just chatting with people their own age. For me it boils down to what kind of interactions are they having and the kind of influences these interactions are having on T.B.M.

There are plenty of post out there on the interwebs that discuss the insanity of the socialization issue, and how children aren’t encouraged to have social time in schools. All of us who attended school can list numerous times when we were punished for talking too much, or passing notes, etc. For me when I look at what I have personally seen in schools, not just in my own schooling but during my field experience as well, I don’t see the socializing that takes place as valuable. Then there is the behavior I’ve noticed when kids are let free from school, the built up energy that explodes on sidewalks, playgrounds, and backyards.

These situations create social interactions that I don’t deem healthy for T.B.M. I prefer their social interactions to encourage/uplift them as individuals, reaffirm our family’s values, and most importantly be fun. I feel we can provide these all important interactions far better than a school system can.

I also feel that The Spouse and I can have a far greater *more positive* influence on our children if they spend the bulk of these formative years with us. Of course they won’t spend every waking hour with us, but we don’t feel they should spend eight to ten hours a day five days a week under the influence of others at such an important junction in their young lives. While they would come home to us and interact with us, these interactions would pale in comparison to what they ingested during the school day.

It’s like my friend said this afternoon “It’s about feeling confident in knowing our children are ready…”. Ready to understand the weight of their choices and to realize that certain people aren’t meant to be followed. We want them to grow in an environment where they are free to be themselves and not feel forced into their peers ideas of what and how someone should be.

For us homeschooling is more than academically superior, but it is also emotionally and socially superior. We are not only able to provide T.B.M. with tailored educations to fit their learning styles and academic levels, but we are also able to provide them with quality interactions that enrich their lives. For us that is far more important than the superficial interactions of a classroom.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

This is a very late (or early depending on how you look at it) Secular Thursday post.

This really makes me giggle. Oh how amazing that would be! Taken from SMBC.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

I have an addiction. I can usually keep this addiction under control when life is running fairly “normal”, but then something happens and my addiction runs rampant. At the beginning of the year The Spouse was away and my addiction came out to play *hey that rhymes!*.

What is this addiction you ask? It’s organizing, especially organizing our classroom and school supplies. My life overall is chaotic, dysfunctional, and downright insane at best. So organizing the things I do have control over pleases that slightly functioning part of myself.

So what have I done you ask? Well head over and check out the first Organizational Junkie post so you can see what I’ve done previously. Ok all caught up? Now for the current organizational bender:

I added another bookcase and converted a TV stand to meet my book storage and Discovery Bin items need.

We also have our Knowledge Books and Centers Packets in these really neat magazine racks that I found at a 100 yen store, and the colors go with the color theme picked out by TBM. Also with the Seasonal/Wheel of the Year Knowledge Books are Knowledge Books for each subject! I figured it would make life alot easier if I just took the printouts for each week and placed them in the same types of folders. That way everything stays together and at the end of the week I can just remove the worksheets, place them in our filing cabinet *all still in order*, put the upcoming week's worksheets in the folder, and fill our wall organizer with the worksheets for the following week. That way I have the worksheets from where we have been, where we are, and where we are going all tucked away and in easy to grab locations if I need to grab them.

The tallest bookcase also keeps our hands on items organized. We have our large math bin at the bottom with a few other items, then various math "toys" and math games above that, followed by language arts items at the top.

To the side here we have a close up of the top of our largest bookcase. It has the bins for our Centers *which are not all finished due to me running out of various items needed to put them together*, as well as some science items that are best kept up high until Professor Chaos is a bit older.

The next item is the converted TV stand. The shelves are used for storing books that will be needed in the upcoming weeks, which allows them to be right at hand. The bulk of our reading books are stored on three bookcases which, have found their home in the area underneath our stairs. By pulling the needed items I save myself alot of back and forth. Although the running up and down the stairs does make for a semi-decent workout, it takes time away from our learning.

The top portion of the converted TV stand houses General Disarray's current phonics flip-book so it doesn't take up space on the computer desk when he isn't using it. It also holds our Discovery Bin(s) items, and the Discovery Bin that is currently being used this week. On the side are some ladles I bought from the same 100 yen store, they work great with our water Discovery Bin. The carpet came from the 100 yen store and gives the TBM somewhere soft to sit while they use the Discovery Bin(s). It also holds other bin items. I'm planning to get some squishy throw pillows to make that area my comfortable, and to encourage them to relax and read throughout the classroom.

This next photo gives you a close up of the shelves on our largest bookcase. I have binders for some of the subjects we cover that, are full of various information we need or have collected. I also have some blow-up dice that help with reading comprehension by asking questions about certain elements in a story *who wrote it, where did it take place, who is the main character, etc.*. I found the dice at a teacher supply store when we lived in the states.

There you have it folks. My latest organizational bender!

I think it is safe to say that our classroom is almost complete. The only things I have left on my to-do list are curtains and squishy throw pillows. And to think it only took me two years to get it all together! But hey I did it! Woohoo!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

The past few months I’ve been on the hunt for fun hands on learning ideas for TBM, especially for Professor Chaos. I few things have fallen into my lap since then, and now that I have them pretty much all squared away I’m going to share them.

First on the list are our Discovery Bins. A friend of mine put together a sensory bin for her son and I thought that was a great idea, so off I went hunting for information on sensory bins. I found various sites that listed ideas from people *mostly preschool teachers*, and I took many of those ideas and set off to make comprise our own bins. Are you wondering why we call them Discovery Bins instead of sensory bins? Well one of the idea comments I found mentioned that in their class they call them Discovery Bins, and I thought that was very clever and honestly I prefer it over the term sensory bins. Since sensory bin doesn’t completely state what we are using it for. Yes, they will use their senses, but they *mainly Professor Chaos* will also have to discovery items in order to match them with an item already outside the bin, or how much rice it takes to fill something, and some other random not really sensory ideas that I may come up with one morning when I’m somewhere between sleep and a half empty cup of orange juice.

Here is a quick run through of what I have gathered so far for our Discovery Bins:
Here we have our large water basin I found at a 100 yen store *think dollar store prices, but with cooler stuff*, and the largest of our two bins. The brown plastic is a plastic table cover I got for our Co-Op's Fall Festival. It helps keep everything contained when the kids are working. I just collect anything that has fallen out of the bin into the middle of the plastic, then gather up and dump back into the bin. When used with the water basin the plastic is placed on the floor first, followed by a layer of towels, and lastly the basin. The plastic acts as a buffer for the floor. So even if the towels get soaked, our floor stays nice and dry. Also here are some of the bags of goodies I have put together. There are various beans and peas, the colored paper you usually find in an Easter basket, various types of pasta, and some fake flowers/petals. These are just what I have for right now, I'm planning to add to this as I come across ideas that seem doable with the resources we have around us.
Here we have our other *smaller* bin, it is currently full of short grain rice. Also on this "table" *it's not really a table...more on it later*, are two wire baskets they were bought to be used when we fill the water basin with soapy water so the TBM can make bubbles with them. They will probably find their way into other bin related fun as well. The water bottles are for when we work with dirt, or the water basin, really anything honestly. It just depends on what we are doing. The blue bucket holds the bulk of our Discovery Bin tools. We have measuring cups of various sizes, some plastic containers with lids of different sizes and color, a couple of squirt bottles, some whisk, sifters, small wooden spoons, tongs, rice scooper, these plastic cutting things used for cutting some sort of Japanese product, and colorful shot glasses. Everything aside from the shot glasses and the bins were bought at a 100 yen store. The shot glasses *that were about 50 or so cent a piece* and the bins came from our base exchange. Taking in account the current yen rate I spent about 60$ for everything we have currently. I highly recommend reusing items you already have if you can, shopping at dollar stores, and your local flea market/thrift store.

A closer look into the blue basket of fun. I really went wild in the kitchen supply section of the 100 yen store. And I just couldn't pass up the colorful shot glasses. The Spouse and I aren't drinkers so they aren't something one would usually find in our home, but TBM have a blast using them for purposes other than what they were made for. And I must admit it is a bit funny watching them play with them and be completley unaware of what most people use them for. I have to go back and get another one though, because I thought I had grabbed six but I only grabbed five. I have a thing about odd's best to just not ask. The last Discovery Bin item I will show you are these little rake/tong combos I found at the 100 yen store. They are hung on our wall using Command(TM) strips *I love those things they make life so easy when you have to uproot frequently*.

Aside from the Discovery Bins I have also been working on Centers for us. My dear friend Karen over at St. Louis Homeschool Resources, Inc. sent me a goodie box full of various items. One of which was a book full of envelope centers. I had not heard of these until we got her box, but I had been wanting to create something similar. While I'm all for DIY projects sometimes being able to buy what you need in one place and put it together just a few things for it on your own is plenty of DIY for me. The Math Centers book she sent us was a hit, so I ordered a few more center books and I am currently in the middle of putting them all together. The above picture is one of the Math Centers, just to give everyone an idea of what they look like. They are so simple to put together, and my laminator ensures that the pieces will withstand any and everything that we *or movers* throw at them.

Here is a list of the Centers we have:

Envelope Centers Math (Pre-K)

Take It To Your Seat Phonics Centers (PreK-K)

Take It To Your Seat Science Centers (PreK-K)

Take It To Your Seat Math Centers (Grades 3-4)

Take It To Your Seat Literacy Centers (Grades 3-4)

Take It To Your Seat Science Centers (Grades 3-4)

Sensory Box/Bin Ideas:

Website One

Website Two

Website Three

Website Four

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes