I could say that I’m shocked, flabbergasted, or completely floored by the fact that very few US students are proficient in science. I would of course be lying if I said those things, and everyone who reads this blog would know that I was. Nor am I shocked that the worst results come from the south…all of my education was received in the south…in my Marine Science class we had a fish fry…that should just about sum up the situation down there.

One thing did really bug me about the article and it was the following quote:
“Yes, we have to be intentional about science education, and we have to ensure that all schools have working science labs, but you can't introduce a kid to a science lab and expect them to do well if they can't read the text”.~ Amy Wilkins

While I do agree that we can’t thrust children into a science lab without them being equipped to read the text *or more importantly equipped with the knowledge of the rules when inside a lab*, I don’t see why we think we can’t intentionally introduce scientific understanding until a lab is needed though.

Children are hungry for scientific information at an early age, and we can easily mesh science with reading. In fact using science themed reading material is a great way to teach reading comprehension, while also meeting a science objective. We do it all the time in our home, it is actually really easy, and requires very little effort to make happen.

You can’t even interpret scientific data if you don’t possess the skills to comprehend text, period. By exposing children to reading comprehension thorough scientific material, we are setting the ground work for reading comprehension in a lab based setting later on. So why then are we treating science and reading like two issues that can’t be solved together, when they so clearly can be?

Yes reading is important, reading is the gateway to all knowledge. Once you possess the ability to read you can learn anything and everything you want. Science and Technology as well are important, they are what allows us to move forward and thrive on this planet. Without them we would still be in the Dark Ages. Ignoring their importance sets the future generation and ultimately ourselves on a path that isn’t as promising. Reading and Math are just half of the educational battle. Full mastery means mastering all “core” subjects. Not just the two “big” ones.

So what does that have to do with homeschooling? Well it is the biggest reason we continue each day on this homeschooling journey…mastery! We don’t just want our children spouting off a few “need-to-know” facts in order to pass a test. We want them to know the material to the point that a test is almost pointless. If we spent half the time we use testing children, on actually instructing them to the point where they really KNOW the material, these test wouldn’t be needed.

A lot of our “tests” are oral, I prefer knowing TBM can articulate back to me what they know. Instead of just being able to color in the right bubble on some sheet. Why? Because life isn’t a sit down test. We have to be able to voice our knowledge in a way that the world can understand us. We don’t walk around filling out bubble sheets when asked about our knowledge, we have to express it through papers, speeches, or in everyday conversations.

I think the current state of education in America is shameful, I won’t even pretend that I think otherwise. It doesn’t promote acquisition and retention of knowledge. Which is why we have made the decision that we have. As mentioned before we want our children to master the things that are getting pushed to the side or cut all together *history, science, technology, physical education, sexual education, and the arts*, not just reading and math. We feel well-rounded individuals emerge when they have a well-rounded education.

This idea of mastery over test taking seems foreign to people who question us, but all I need to do is take a look at the data to see that we are truly headed in the right direction. Hopefully one day the American school system will hop on board, drop the “standardized” testing, and work to achieve across the board subject mastery.

Until that day *oh who am I kidding…until TBM reach college age* we are educating at home. Don’t like our educational choice? Well you can go Google national stats for math, reading, writing, science, and history, and then come question me about our choices. Or not. The choice is yours, just like the choice in how our children are educated is ours.

To the homeschooling skeptics I present to you our nation’s report card. Enjoy.

"A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink of it deeply, or taste it not, for shallow thoughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking deeply sobers us again."~Alexander Pope

Copyright(c) 2011 Rayven Holmes

For our science work the past couple of weeks we have been talking about flowers, plants, and photosynthesis. In order to help us we did some flower dying! Now we didn’t get the idea from this lesson plan, but it pretty much explains what we did. The only difference is that the one we used said to use one glass of colored water, and one glass of regular water. This seems to make it take longer for the whole flower to become colored *we’ll have to test that hypothesis at a later date to be sure*. The one big thing I would strongly recommend is that you hunt down carnations!

Every mention of this experiment calls for white carnations, but we couldn’t get our hands on any. So instead we had to use white roses, and while they are pretty, they aren’t cheap, they lack the fullest of carnations, and their stems are a bit thinner than carnation stems so splitting them is a little more difficult. All and all it worked out really well and the boys loved seeing their favorite colors appear on their flowers.

This week we are starting dinosaurs! Oh the fun we will have learning about those amazing creatures.

Here we have the two glasses and the split flower. I had to cut the flower shorter, and getting the right size for the glass was a pain. They still turned out great though. I used tape to keep the stem from splitting more.

The other flower required me to use tape to keep it from leaning out of the glass, along with a knife to weigh it down.

What they looked like before they changed colors!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

“You like me you really like me!” LOL. We won a blog award from Sparklee at karmamatopoeia, thank you Sparklee!! Now here is the low down on the Versatile Blog Award:

1. Answer the questions.

2. Tag some other wonderful blogs. They should be ones I just discovered, but most of the ones I will tag will be ones I have been following for a while. And of course a few new ones too.

Why did you create this blog?

Well we already had *still have* a family blog, but I wanted to take that private so I could post more pictures on it and keep an update log of the things we do as a family. I still wanted to share and discuss homeschooling though, just in its own separate area since it encompasses so much of our life. I wanted to share the things we do, express frustrations, and have a working log of the things that go on in my head in relation to homeschooling.

What kinds of blogs do you follow?

I follow a mixture of homeschooling and Atheist blogs. There are a few random cooking blogs, crafty, creative blogs, and some that are just about science, and teaching it.

Favorite makeup brand?

I don’t do makeup. I have some chapstick, that is the extent of it. In fact that last time I had makeup on was back in 2009 and it was for some photos I had done for The Spouse. I didn’t even do the makeup myself, they had someone on site to do makeup and hair. If they hadn’t I wouldn’t of wore any.

Favorite clothing brand?

Affordable. I’m not into name brand clothing, which is why I have such a hard time shopping at the base exchange. The majority of their clothing options are overpriced name brand clothing. I just want my clothing to fit, give a little bit, and withstand two very active messy boys. Now if it was favorite clothing store…I would have to say Hot Topic. Their clothing is more in line with my taste, but not always kid chasing friendly.

Indispensable makeup product?

Call me a nerd, but I would rather spend my money on books instead of makeup.

Favorite color?

Black. Yes it is a color in this case *when referring to pigment it is, when referring to light it‘s not*.

Favorite perfume?

*Scans medicine cabinet….* Ah here it is: Forever by Mariah Carey. The Spouse got it for me two Christmases ago, it smells nice, but I hardly ever wear it. I’m making it last. ;)

Favorite film?

Oh goodness…I would say Harry Potter, but if we are talking about the books then the books trump the movies…and then there is The Shawshank Redemption, I LOVE that movie!

What country would you like to visit and why?

Do I have to pick just one?! Europe is on the list of places we want to be stationed at. Why? Because Europe is full of history! There would be endless lessons that we could create right out our backdoor if we lived there. Then there would be the backpacking, bicycling, and well the list goes on of things we could do in order to explore and embrace that part of the world.

Would you rather forget to put mascara on one eye or forget to put blush on one side of your face?

If I ever take the time to really learn how to put on my own makeup I’ll let you know. But don’t hold your breath cause I’m just not that type of woman. Jeans, t-shirt, hair pulled back, and I’m out the door. That’s just how this homeschooler rolls. ;)

Now the blog tags *in no particular order*:

Art Projects For Kids

Homeschooling Atheist

The Meming Of Life

The Scientific Homeschool

Secular Nature Homeschool

Humanist Holidays

Thank you again Sparklee!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

This popped up on my list of articles and well…I just have to share this because it’s just so completely…well I’m speechless. I think I find it particularly disturbing due to the children involved being in the same grade as General Disarray. The thought that actions like these would be in the mind of children so young is very upsetting. It’s not that it took place in a public school classroom *although it does highlight the issue of too many children and not enough teachers in classrooms*, because this could have easily taken place in someone’s home, and possibly has.

It’s the fact that children this young are doing these things, and that they even know about these actions. If we are going to allow our children to be exposed to the over-sexed environment in television and movies *even Nickelodeon is guilty of this and has caused us to turn the channel in the middle of a “kid-friendly” episode*, then we must be willing to address what we feel is appropriate and what isn’t, and WHY we feel this way. If we don’t discuss these issues with our children, then who will? It is our job as parents to be PARENTS. Our children will not raise themselves, nor will any school system raise them.

We have to do our jobs, no matter how uncomfortable it may be at times.

“Parents have become so convinced that educators know what is best for their children that they forget that they themselves are really the experts.”~Marian Wright Edelman

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

This makes me giggle so much. Maybe, because I can see it actually happening in our home...just minus the sleeping dog....and clean countertops....and I would still have on my night-time scarf....even if it is two in the afternoon. :)

I love homeschooling.
Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically... Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up so I’ve put together a mini lesson for us. We won’t just be focusing on MLK Jr., but on equality as a whole. On our learning board we have the word equality for our weekly vocabulary word, that will extend into next week as well. We also have a picture of MLK Jr. next to our vocabulary word, and the dates of his birth and death.

I found a printable activity book on Enchanted Learning that General Disarray will use, as well as some coloring sheets from various websites that both of TBM will use. For an art activity we will cut into my insanely large stack of magazines and create “Unity Collages”. I'll post pictures of them when we finish them.

Our reading books will encompass the bulk of our learning, since I’m looking to these as a way of prompting discussions and maybe a few journal entries.

Our book list is as follows *we own all of these, but you may be able to locate them at your local library, and if they don’t have them you can always request them*:

My First Biography: Martin Luther King, Jr. by Marion Dane Bauer

Our People by Angela Shelf Medearis

Hip Hop Speaks to Children: A Celebration of Poetry With a Beat (includes audio CD) edited by Nikki Giovanni

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters by Barack Obama

In My Heart by Molly Bang

America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle by David A. Adler

Free To Be You and Me (includes audio CD) by Marlo Thomas and Friends

At My House What Makes A Family Is Love by Dee Dee Walter-Goodspeed

Is There Really A Human Race by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

I found the Hip Hop Speaks book a while back and even though I’m personally not a huge fan of hip hop it seemed intriguing so I scooped it up. I’m really glad I did because it will fit in perfectly with our equality lesson. I won’t be using the whole book now, although when we study poetry I will come back to it. For now I’ll be using the following pieces *with accompanying audio tracks* from the book:

from Ladies First by Queen Latifah
People Equal by James Berry
from Umi Says by Mos Def
Dream Variations by Langston Hughes
Me by Elizabeth Swados
Love Poem For My People by Pedro Pietri
From Love Is by Common
The Rosa Parks by Nikki Giovanni
We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar
The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes
If We Forget by Ja Jahannes
and lastly but surely not least from I Have A Dream by Martin Luther King Jr.

I think I’ll track down some other poems, and possibly some video clips as well, we will just see how the rest of this week as well as next week plays out.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscious stupidity.”~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Welcome all to our redesigned blog! Since I can’t completely redo my house I might as well redo the blog right? So how do you like it? Fresh, bright, and colorful? I sure think so. I was finding the other template to be rather dull. While I’m not Mrs. Mary Sunshine, I do love that we homeschool and I really wanted the blog to reflect that.

So what changes can you find with this fresh new look? Well most of the sidebar links are the same. I got rid of one that was to a blog-roll that wasn’t showing updates and took up too much space on the side.

At the top of the blog page we have the twitter bird. Clicking on it will take you to our twitter page. Our recent twitter updates are still listed in the sidebar as well.

We now have a search bar to make finding topics easier and our categories are still listed on the side bar as well.

We also finally(!) have a pages section that works. So far we have a Home page and a Roll Call page. The Roll Call page mentions a little bit about each member of our homeschooling family and eventually it will be filled with info on other players in our homeschooling life *grandparents, parents, siblings, other relatives, and friends*. Each member will have a nickname, so Roll Call will help keep everyone aware of who is who.

Speaking of nicknames that is also something that has changed. The boys will no longer be referred to as numbers. I really wasn’t enjoying it, it felt too much like I was playing favorites and honestly lacked creativity. Yes, I know I wasn’t playing favorites, #1 was born years before #2, but still…I didn’t like it.

So now Child #1 will from this moment on be referred to as General Disarray and Child #2 from this moment on will be referred to as Professor Chaos, and when I am referring to them collectively they are The Bringers of Mayhem *or TBM for short*.

Now my fellow South Park fans will know where the names come from, but why those nicknames? Well while The Spouse *whose nickname will remain the same* and I were brainstorming possible choices an insurance commercial came on. You know the one…with the guy from Rescue Me….it was the one with him as the teenage girl *which is really funny!*. I shouted out “Chaos and Mayhem”, and from there the snowball grew into the snowball of insanity. Which happily landed on the names General Disarray and Professor Chaos.

For those wondering why our oldest is named after the sidekick instead of Butters’ character, well…you clearly don’t know our youngest son. If something is happening your money should be on him being the cause of it. Yes, he can even get his older brother to go along with a scheme or plan he has hatched. Their teamwork is astounding and they truly are The Bringers of Mayhem.

Over the course of the year I’m going to add more pages to the top. Some of the pages I’m contemplating are ones for recipes for fun easy things to do with the kids, science experiments, and easy crock-pot dishes we’ve come across just to name a few.

Big things are coming to this blog. Homeschooling is very much a lifestyle and for us it requires flexibility, patience, and creativity. All of which I want to paint this blog with.

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Now I love watching Colbert, even more so when he is picking on Bill O’Reilly. Then add in some Neil deGrasse Tyson and you have me rolling on the floor laughing. Plus we actually learn something from this clip, how the tides work!! Win,Win!! To my fellow heathens ENJOY!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bill O'Reilly Proves God's Existence - Neil deGrasse Tyson
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

Today was a rather lazy school day since I had a long list of items I needed to accomplish. After I got through my list, we tackled some Greek mythology, and I whipped up a batch of sidewalk paint so we could enjoy some outdoor time while the weather was semi-decent.

The boys had a blast with it and it cost me nothing since I already had the supplies in my pantry. I love some free fun, don’t you?!

All you need to make the paint is cornstarch, water, liquid food coloring, and a container to put it in.

Mix equal parts cornstarch and water *it took 2cups of each to make the amounts I have here*, then add in the food coloring. I used about 10 drops for all the colors except the red paint. I started with ten, but it looked like Pepto-Bismol so I put in about another five to six squirts. It still looked a little pinkish to me, but I was out of liquid red food coloring by that point. Plus it didn’t look like Pepto-Bismol anymore so I was content with it. Mix well, and Voila! Easy, Non-Toxic, Earth friendly sidewalk paint.

Our walls are concerte and all the doors are metal so we can use the paint anywhere outside!

Once done with your outdoor fun, you can store it in an airtight container *just add water if it begins to dry out*.

Plan this activity to coincide with an upcoming rainy day, and Mother Nature will clean off your sidewalk/patio for you!

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes

*Typed this up earlier today…just now having time to post it, just in time for Secular Thursday!…Well a very early Secular Thursday post anyways.*

While the boys enjoy some quiet time I have a moment to reflect/blog on our morning.-as well as rant- Our morning went well, despite the fact that I wasn’t able to drag myself out of bed as early as I had planned too, *I’ll just blame the educational centers I’ve been working on for the late night I had*.

Anyways, The Spouse *who is wonderful beyond words and always up before the sun on the weekdays* got Child #1 feed and started on his morning routine. Which allowed me time to wipe sleep from my eyes, collect Child #2 from his comfortable position in the middle of our bed, and helped put our morning on the path to productive! *Thank you honey!*

After getting through our morning lessons the boys got to enjoy a nice long break. For their break activities Child #2 opted for our Pencil Pal Preschool game and some both of which involve our classroom computer. While Child #1 relaxed with my DS and a couple of educational games. It was in that weird silence of clicks and “You did it”-s that I realized just how fortune we are to be able to make the most of these items.

Yes, I know many people have these items now-a-days. In fact it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t at least own a personal computer, but many schools go without modern update technology *I‘m not including the few “test“ classrooms or private schools that offer each child a laptop*. Even those that have a computer lab or the funds for computers in some (or all) of their classrooms have to deal with outdated technology.

Nor do they have the time in schools with the most recent technology to allow each child the opportunity to take full advantage of all the programs. In fact when I shadowed an elementary class *1st grade* I don’t recall a computer even being in the classroom, aside from the laptop sitting snuggly on the teacher’s desk. Now while that would fill the “computer in every classroom” statistic, and it was “accessible” to the children, they didn’t have ACCESS to it. It was strictly for the teachers use only, even though every one of those kids could probably work the thing just fine *we are talking about a generation born and breed in the technological age*, they weren’t allowed to.

I only recall one time in my public school education where we were taught about the wonderful gadget known as the computer. It was in 8th grade I believe, possibly 7th and it was strictly so each of us would pass some state mandated technology test. By this point though all of us *for the most part* were aware of how to work and type on a computer even if we didn’t have one at home. So we sat there for roughly 30minutes once *possibly twice* a week listening to some lady yammer on, while we typed silliness on the computer for those sitting next to us to see. Our school offered a technology class, but it was a mesh of shop/technology/and who knows what else. All I remember from when I took it was using CAD, making a CO2 car, and learning Parliamentary Procedure.

Now I realize with the average school size, being well…ridiculous, it takes a lot of money to get these things to students. I also know a lot of schools blow their money on frivols items like redoing the gym floor every other year or so *when it is clearly not needed*, while their teachers teach in busted trailers or lug around carts with all their supplies from one classroom to another on them, because they don’t have a room of their own to teach in.

Just because it cost money and may mean you don’t have the shiniest ball court, doesn’t mean an effort shouldn’t be made to embrace the beauty that is technology *or heck just give your teachers a room to teach in*. In the nearly two hours the boys were on break Child #1 reviewed math problems and played spelling games featuring his weekly spelling list *and enjoyed it!*, while Child #2 worked on his letters, numbers, and “painted”-(working with colors). They were both having fun and learning. All I had to do was not only make the item accessible to them but allow them to actually use it.

That is the thing I keep coming back to when I view the few stats available on the subject, there are plenty of “accessible computers and handheld devices”, but nothing on how many are actually being USED by the students and for how long.

Allowing a teacher to bring his/her personal laptop to school and have it in the classroom would mean the class had an “accessible” computer device (read as the students can see it and could easily reach it), but that doesn’t mean that they can actually USE it. In most cases just getting too close to it would land them in hot water. Which is upsetting considering the amount of potential these devices hold.

While I generally don’t want to rag on public schools *although the district I attended could use a rag, steam mop, and some heavy duty cleanser*, the issues of technology and science are big ones for me. Science and Technology will shape our world, they already have shaped it, honestly! They are allowing our world to constantly change, but if we don’t take advantage of what they have to offer how can we possibly move forward and change as well?

So I ask homeschool and public school parents alike are you embracing the technology around you? It may be another decade before educational institutions completely come into the 21st Century, even though the students are already here and wanting what it has to offer. So I implore parents take advantage of it, embrace it. Yes I know we all live on budgets but think about what is already sitting in your home…that game system *or two* that you have to fight them off of every night, the laptop you are reading this on, the old desktop you tucked away when you upgraded…are you getting the most out of these items?

Now I know someone is going to pipe up and say “But we are suppose to limit screen time!”…yeah I know. I get the little sheets of paper from our pediatrician too about the recommended hours of screen time every age group should get tops. And I’m not telling you to increase screen time, just make the MOST of what you give. Have a trade off, instead of just an hour of COD, WOW, The Sims, various Lego video games, and well…the list goes on, split it up. For every 30minutes they want to play a pointless game they have to play something with some educational value. Which will either result in them playing something that either reinforces what they know or teaches them something new, or has them choosing to do something else *playing outside or reading a book*. So either way they are getting something of value.

If you are going to spend your hard earned money on these items they might as well be used in a useful manner, right? Other than showing you creative ways to use duct tape, a drill, and a bucket *Dead Rising 2 reference*.

Ok the nerd is getting down off her soapbox now. LOL. ;)

For those wandering what we have and use:

DS: Art Academy
My Virtual Reading Tutor
Scripps Spelling Bee
Personal Trainer: Math
Sesame Street: Cookie’s Counting Carnival
My Japanese Coach

PC: School Zone Software

PS2: DDR *physical fitness! ;)*

Wii: Wii Fit
Wii Sports *seriously good workout on a rainy day.*

Copyright(c)2011 Rayven Holmes