9 Tips for Teaching Archaeology in Your Homeschool

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9 Tips for Teaching Archaeology in Your Homeschool

Archaeology {or archeology, if you prefer; they’re both acceptable} isn’t a common profession.  As such, it can be difficult to run into materials you can use to help you with teaching archaeology in your homeschool.

Babydoll wants to be an archaeologist {and has for as long as I can remember}, so it’s important to me to somehow foster that desire in her schoolwork somehow.

Here is a compilation of ways you can include this in your homeschool, whether you have a child working toward the profession or one that just thinks it’s cool!

  1. Books and magazines:  This is probably the most obvious choice.  On the surface it might seem difficult to find age-appropriate materials, but you might be surprised by what’s out there.  Babydoll is a fan of dig™, an archaeology magazine for kids.  And just take a look at all the results on Amazon when you search for archaeology books for kids.
  2. Put together your own archaeologist kit:  I’m not talking about cheap plastic junk you can buy as a kit.  I’m talking a what-the-pros-use kit.  All you really need is a trowel and you’re good to go, but you’d be surprised at how inexpensively you can put together a base kit.  We got Babydoll started with a couple of different types of trowels {Marshalltown are the best, supposedly}, measuring tape, a folding ruler, a pencil, and a blue glittery notepad, just for some color.  Store it all in a tackle box or those stacking organization bins they sell at Walmart.
  3. Games:  Babydoll loved Roman Town!  It’s a computer game that takes the user through an interactive dig.  She finished it that day, I believe, but continues to play it.  It looks like they have a new game coming out next month.
  4. Join archaeology organizations:  There are international, national, and regional archaeology societies.  You can find a great listing of them on this site.  Many offer low rates for students and send newsletters, invitations to special events, and even information about participating in local digs.
  5. Visit archaeology museums:  Many colleges and universities that have an archaeology program also have museums that the public can visit.  It might even be possible to contact the museum before a visit and arrange for a professor to give your family a tour.  Many also have special events happening throughout the year.
  6. Look for camps:  Several states have resident camps designed to allow older kids the opportunity to help out with a dig, but these are pricey and not located conveniently for many of us.  Search for camps in your area, or in neighboring states.  At one time there was an archaeology camp offered for younger kids here in AL.  I know GA and FL have also offered family-oriented camps.
  7. Find archaeology celebrations:  Believe it or not, there are special days and months set aside for archaeology.  National Archaeology Day is October 20th this year, and the National Park Service offers National Archaeology Month.  Many states also have statewide celebrations, complete with festive events and many learning opportunities.  Having trouble finding them? Start with your local college or university.
  8. Volunteer at field schools:  If you have an older student, they can always ask to volunteer at a local field school.  They just might get the chance to haul dirt all summer while observing the workings of a real dig.  ShovelBums always maintains a great list of worldwide field schools.
  9. Create a full-year curriculum:  This can be downright terrifying, especially if you’re not a history or science buff, but it’s one of the most amazing things you can ever do for your child.  This is what we’re embarking on this year:  an entire year devoted to a real archaeological dig.  I highly recommend picking up Hands-On Archaeology: Real-Life Activities for Kids by John White {affiliate link}.  Professor White was a big proponent of teaching proper archaeology to young children.  His guide is hands-down the best I have seen for teaching real archaeology.  I didn’t want a kit that we just hacked away at, finding the stuff hidden inside.  This book has actual forms, terminology, everything you need to really teach your child about actual archaeology.

Even if your child isn’t a die-hard archaeology fan, these activities can definitely liven up a history curriculum or many other aspects of school.

Have you found any great archaeology resources you use in your homeschool?

Photo credit: gordontour via photo pin cc

 

TOS Sweet Critique: Super Duper Publications – HearBuilder Following Directions

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WHAT:  HearBuilder Auditory Memory Software Program

COST:  $69.95

RECOMMENDED AGES:  Ages 4 – 9

CONTACT

WHAT IS HEARBUILDER?

HearBuilder is a CD-ROM software program designed to help children become better at memory and comprehension, thereby becoming better at following directions.

From their site:

HearBuilder Auditory Memory teaches key strategies for remembering numbers, words, sentences, and stories.  This research-based software includes five essential listening activities:

  • Memory for numbers {3 – 7 digits}
  • Memory for words {3 – 5 words organized by syllable}
  • Memory for details {1 – 4 details}
  • Auditory closure {sentence completion}
  • Memory for WH information {2 – 3 sentences/2 – 4 questions}

Each child is on a mission to become a successful toy maker and build a great toy factory.

Their missions take them through a variety of situations where they must stop the crazy plans of Dr. Forgetsit.

The Home Edition CD can be used with 1 – 4 children, allows you to monitor your child’s progress, print progress reports, and assign levels of play and background noise for distraction.

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OUR THOUGHTS

Babydoll is always down for playing video games.  I needed her to pick up some memory and comprehension skills to help her follow directions better.

Seemed like a win-win.

I was right.

While I mistakenly started her at a level too low for her, she enjoyed the toy factory and missions aspect of the game.

Speaking of levels, I love how you as the parent can set the level based on the child, so they don’t have to sit something agonizingly boring to them.

How do you know which level to set the game to?

The folks at Super Duper Publications have provided a handy chart in the booklet that comes with the CD.  It gives you examples of what a direction might be at each level so you can determine where your child best fits.

For a child {such as mine} who needs to see their progress, this game is great.  Your child has a “lobby” with doors to each part of the factory.

Above each door is a meter that monitors where they are in their progress to building their toy factory.

A certificate of completion hangs above the door if they’ve finished that part.

The progress reports let you see which levels your child has completed and how they did on each one.

I would definitely recommend this to any parent really.  I’ve never met one who told me that their child had great comprehension and memory techniques that helped them always follow directions.

And at least during one phase of their little lives they go through that “What? Squirrel!” phase…

Know what’s even better?  Super Duper Publications has given us a coupon code good for 30% off so you can snatch this thing up {use without the exclamation point}:  BLGAM30!

WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT

To find out what other members of the crew thought, just click the banner below!

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TOS Sweet Critique: IXL

IXL

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WHAT: IXL

COST: $9.95/month or $79/year

RECOMMENDED AGES: Pre-K through early high school

CONTACT

WHAT IS IXL?

IXL is an interactive site designed to help students practice math skills.

It covers Pre-K math through algebra.  Plans are in the works to also offer subjects such as geometry and trigonometry.

IXL Screen Samples

As children progress through each exercise, they earn awards that show up on a virtual game board.

IXL Awards and Games
Parents have access to a parent dashboard where they can view reports such as progress made over time, types of math completed, medals and awards earned, proficiency, and much more.

IXL Family Reports

IXL lists the follow benefits associated with membership in the program:

OUR THOUGHTS

Babydoll isn’t a math lover.  At all.  So reviewing anything math-related can be a tough task for her.

IXL isn’t designed to be a play-all-the-time math game, it’s designed to be practice.  With any practice in an area you aren’t too fond of, there’s a certain amount of tedium.

Babydoll thought the awards system could use an overhaul.  She prefers to be able to “use” her awards in a system like this: plant a tree, buy a skirt, outfit an avatar.

I guess maybe it feels more gratifying to her after having to sit through math practice!

It may just be an age thing {she’s almost 10}, or perhaps just her personality, but this was her biggest issue with the program.  Uncovering pictures on a game board just wasn’t enough to hook her.

There is definitely an element of surprise on the themed game boards for each level, so other children may absolutely love uncovering items for each theme.

As a parent, I appreciated the parent dashboard.

When you’re using something like IXL, you need to know it’s working.  I need to be able to see proficiency and mastery, among other metrics, and in this IXL delivers.

I also liked it’s bright colors and fun graphics.

Definitely check it out if you’re in need of a more fun way to “drill” your child in math.  This just might do the trick.

They offer the option to practice for free {up to 20 questions per day} so you can see if it’s something that would work for your family before committing to membership.

WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT

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True Confessions:  I was provided with a membership to this site in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

 

TOS Sweet Critique: Mobile Education Tools StoryBuilder

StoryBuilder app homescreen

PhotobucketWHAT:  StoryBuilder app for iPod Touch, iPad, & iPhone

COST:  $5.99

RECOMMENDED AGES:  Six and up

CONTACT

WHAT IS THE STORYBUILDER APP?

StoryBuilder app homescreen

StoryBuilder is an app by Mobile Education Tools that is designed to help children:

  • improve paragraph formation
  • improve idea integration
  • improve inference abilities

While it is dependent upon the settings you choose, your child is presented with a picture, and possibly a narrated question, that is supposed to encourage them to create a story.

StoryBuilder app for iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone

StoryBuilder app for iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone

Your child can record, repeat the question, skip the picture, and then when they’re finished {generally five or seven questions}, they can listen to their entire story or email it.

You have the option of customizing your child’s experience by allowing for narrated questions, number of questions, and more.

StoryBuilder app settings

You can even sign up for an account for the Parents’ Center.

StoryBuilder app Parents' Center

WHAT WE THOUGHT

At first, Babydoll was not at all a fan.  She’s nine, going on 10, and she thought the narration and pictures were a little too “immature” for her.

However, Daddy came to the rescue.

By answering seven questions about a particular image {a busted up giraffe}, he created a narrative that had all three of us laughing hysterically.

This got Babydoll excited about using the app.

She immediately ran off to come up with a silly story for us.

When she came back, she had put together a silly little story about a man who had been splashed by mud after his car broke down.

Then, something became apparent to her.

She had simply answered the questions that had been asked.  When these were put together into a story, it made no sense.  Information had been left out.

The app teaches children how to answer questions in a way that many of us learned to answer questions: by restating the question in the answer.

Once she realized this, Babydoll was able to better craft her story.

She did about three more stories and was done for the day.

I think this app can be very effective if you stick with it and help your child along at first.  It takes some inference skills to really be able to work this, but once it’s been established, it can be fun.

Also, I personally don’t think this is an app that can be used as a game that a child can play everyday.  Sure, it’s fun, but it’s not mindless entertainment.

I think after a while of continuous play Babydoll would start to view it more as work than fun.  Then again, she also isn’t a fan of grammar/language arts.

All-in-all, I would recommend this to you guys, just be sure you’re prepared to be silly to show your kids how it works.

WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT

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TRUE CONFESSIONS:  I was provided with a copy of this app in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.