This Month's Featured Resources...

Ten Days of RoadschoolingWWII Activity PackLego Easter Mardi Gras

Sunday, April 23

STEAM Science & Robotics Camps - 50% off!!!


Summer Day Camps are where fun, thinking, and learning come to life!!  At the STEAM Science & Robotics Camps, campers will have a BLAST while learning and playing in a dynamic environment.  They will learn about Robotics and Science. 

Visit their website, www.steamandrobotics.com, to see dates and locations for this day camp.

Just the Facts


- There are Robot / Science / Engineering / Day Camp / Challenges

- Camps are for Girls and Boys - Aged 7 to 17

- Robot Camps are offered during June, July and August

- This is straight-up Hands on Learning for all levels, from First Time Beginners to Intermediate Learners


Camp Details

-  Each camp is 1 week (5 days) long

- Camp runs Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

- Campers bring own lunches and drinks

- There is a camper ratio of 1 Instructor to 11 participants

- Each camper Individually uses a ROBOTICS Kit and shares computers


Click on this link to get the exclusive price of 50% OFF on STEAM Science and Robotics Summer Camps!  Use code USFG1750

Friday, April 21

Five Days of Roadschooling : Day 5

Membership Programs

You've heard 'you have to spend money to make money,' but what about spending to save?  By joining these programs (two of which are free!), you'll be able to save some of your hard-earned cash without sacrificing the ability to experience new sights at your destination!

NASA PASSPORT
The NASA Passport Program is free to join, and provides savings on admission, tours, food, and retail purchases at each of their fourteen locations across the country.  You'll receive a stamp at each location, and when / if you get all fourteen, you will get a special surprise for completing the mission!  (We haven't finished, so I'm not sure what it is.)   

If you have an aviation / space fan, you'll want to sign up for this free program!  Also, if you have kids that are into space and aviation, you should check out this STEM program.

Here are the sites we've visited thus far....

NATIONAL PARKS PASS
  • If you have a student in the 4th grade, you should absolutely pick up a free National Parks Pass, which is good for one year.  Every fourth grade student is entitled to one family pass.  This gets you into many parks for free, and others (the ones that are partially privatized) at a discount.
  • The National Parks Pass is only $80 annually for a carload.  However many folks fit into your car is how many will get into that park!  This also gives you a discount on park amenities.
  • The Junior Ranger Program is a fantastic educational tool that is provided at each National Park.  There are curriculum ideas, literature, and hands-on activities.  They typically receive a pin, sticker, or some other small token after completing the program.
  • Finally, if you are a senior, make sure to get a Senior Pass, which is only $10 for a lifetime pass.
There are National Parks EVERYWHERE!  Pick up this handy guide to find out which ones you'll be driving near.

ASTC PASSPORT
    More than 300 science centers and museums have agreed to waive general admission fees for each other’s members.  (Local restrictions apply within 90 miles (150 km) based on science center/museum location and residence.)  With the purchase of one membership, you can hop all over the country - and internationally - at no or a very low cost!  

    Our home membership is at a museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan, simply because we happened to be there when we discovered the program.  Check out all the places we've got for free....   (Clicking on the links will take you to a more in-depth exploration.)  

    If you're going to be travelling, and incorporating learning experiences, this is one membership that you will definitely want to get!  Our's is only $65 annually, and worth ten times that.
    • This is just a sampling of what they offer...be sure to check out the main page for all of the museums!

    5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

    Thursday, April 20

    Five Days of Roadschooling : Day 4

    Sea to Shining Sea : the 50 States
    As many of our readers know, home base is in rural Oklahoma, so a visit to the ocean is a treat that our family relishes!  With one parent hailing from the East coast and one from the West coast, the ocean is a part of our lives that we also want for our children, so we aim for seaside contracts whenever possible...

    The first time he experienced the ocean was a magical moment in one of our sons' lives.  If you're fortunate enough to live by the sea, don't take it for granted!  And if, like ourselves, you find yourself longing for sand in your shoes and salt in your hair...we hope you're inspired to visit one of these seaside destinations!

    Seaside Stops
    Maybe the ocean isn't your thing?  Check out all 50 States and plan your next adventure!
    5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

    Wednesday, April 19

    Five Days of Roadschooling : Day 3

    Health & Safety

    Let's talk about the things that no one really wants to think about....the 'what-ifs,' or more specifically, preventative measures for avoiding those dark places....
    Safety First!
    It's easy to get lulled into the comfort of thinking that your hotel is as safe as home, but that would be very very wrong.

    Check out the simple rules on the hotel sign above.....let's break them down.
    1. Lock your car AND take your stuff inside, especially if it's valuable.
    2. Management is also not responsible for missing children.  If your children must explore the hotel without parental supervision, make sure that they use the buddy system.  It would be so easy for someone to snag your child, hop in their car, and be off to who-knows-where before you knew s/he was missing. 
    3. Not only do you have a hotel key, but there are probably some undesirables that have one as well.  See rule number 2.  Do you really want your kids running around alone?  Another safety precaution that we have is a password.  Should we need to leave the kids in the room alone, they must not open the door unless the password is provided.
    I know that, as a parent, you want to trust your children to go to the lobby / pool / front desk / whatever by themselves, but it's just not a good idea.  Even if it gives you five minutes of peace.  Most hotels are located right off highways....by the time you realize your child is missing, s/he could be twenty miles down the road!

    Another issue that we have discussed is how to handle an emergency when staying in a hotel.  Most children know to dial 911 at home, but that may not work at a hotel, where you usually have to dial another number to get an outside line.  Your best bet is to tell children to call the hotel operator in case of an emergency. 

    You can find more tips at our posts on Preparing for Road Trip Emergencies and Tips & Tricks for the Family Vacation.

    Health
    • Some people can sleep anywhere, but travelling often throws kids off-schedule. Here are some tips for Sleeping Well on the Go.
    • Driving all day can be the pits!  Take three minutes to stretch at each pit-stop. It will help!
    • Healthy eating on the road can be very tricky! It's so easy to fall into the trap of fast food and convenience foods, especially on long travel days, when your only stops are at the gas station or to pick up a quick bite.  Greens and fresh options are your best choice, whenever possible....and most gas stations sell fresh fruit now.
    • When you're out on the road, getting sick just isn't an option. Who wants to spend their vacation trapped in a hotel room, or worse - in the hospital?  See this post for tips to stay well.
    • Taking a few days off can be rejuvenation for your body, but it's important to remember to get some exercise.  Even walking for thirty minutes will do your body, mind, and mood a world of good.   Here are tips for Hotel P.E.
    • Ran out of your favorite spa products? Or forgot to pack them? Try these quick cheats from hotel freebies...
    5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

    Tuesday, April 18

    Five Days of Roadschooling : Day 2

    Living History
    When it comes to history, there's no substitute for being able to stand in the same spot where an event went down...
    • for running your hand down the same banister George Washington did while pacing the floor deciding whether to cross the Delaware River in the cold or not....
    • for throwing tea overboard in an act of rebellion against the British king....
    • for standing in the lookout tower and being able to see where the troops arrived from different directions at Gettysburg.....
    We have had the great fortune to take our children to some of the most historically significant sites in the United States.  While there are still many more we hope to get to in the future, here are some highlights.  The links go to more in-depth explorations of each.


    French & Indian War / Colonial Era


      Revolutionary War


        Civil War / 19th Century
        5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

        Monday, April 17

        Five Days of Roadschooling : Day 1

        Start Small
        You've probably heard of road-schooling, or families who travel while homeschooling their kids, but maybe you're daunted by the thought of hitting the road full-time.  No worries!  

        With high fuel costs, general unrest in the world, and little to no vacation time from work, many families are choosing to take staycations.  With a bit of imagination, you can have an enjoyable time close to home.....you just have to approach your town like a tourist.  

        Do some research - ask yourself "If I were just stumbling upon this area, what would I want to do?"  You can find something fun to do everywhere....even in the middle of nowhere.  Trust me.  😉 

        We've broken down all of our trips by region (United States), to help take some of the research out of your equation.  Try to plan at least one staycation this summer - once you've gotten your feet wet, you'll want more!
        • Pack the car with five days worth of clothes (well, at least five days worth of underwear)
        • Toss in some snacks, road tunes, and an audiobook
        • Find an initial destination from the list below....start driving in that direction
          • If you see something that looks like fun, take a detour!
          • Find a hotel - spend the night - start over again on day 2
        • Take detours and explore on day 2
          • Find a hotel - spend the night - start heading home on day 3
        • You might make it home on day 3, or it might be on day 4
        • Just DRIVE - EXPLORE - HAVE FUN!
        Admittedly, if you're Type-A, this might be difficult for you, but at least try.  Pack some extra undies and a first aid kit, if it makes you feel better!

        5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

        Sunday, April 16

        Traveling Song (Moonpools & Caterpillars)

        Trying to travel with a full load of curricula can be tricky at best....
        fitting all of the different books around clothes, shoes, food, toys, etc is sometimes impossible.  In the past, we've simplified by using one curriculum for everyone - with the exception of math - which drastically cut down on books required to pack.  (If you want to know more about that, check into Learning Adventures, here.)

        However, as the kids have grown, their needs have changed.  Also, their learning levels are growing further apart, which makes doing the same thing tough at times.  So we split them up -- which left us right back where we started with toting around all these books.



        I'd heard about SchoolhouseTeachers.com before, and played around on the site a little bit, but never gave it much consideration for being used as a 'real' curriculum.  It didn't seem in-depth enough.  It didn't seem to offer everything that we needed.  And still, supplemental books are always needed for whatever we find...so there's a lot of things left to remember to pack!

        But while going back in, looking specifically for some information I'd seen before, I found out that they had totally upgraded!  (And I don't mean a basic facelift - I mean they've changed the bones and everything!)



        Here are some of the highlights of these changes (and why we will be packing even less on future trips!) :

        • World Book Encyclopedia Set
          • Three full sets of encyclopedias are included :  Kids', Student, and Advanced (what you'll traditionally find at the library)
          • Includes 'extras' with the encyclopedia set that families usually cannot access - only schools and institutions
          • World Book costs $250 / year to access, if purchased alone - but it's a lot cheaper this way!
        • Over 300 Academic Courses
          • Offers a wide range of teaching styles, including Traditional, Classical, Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies, and more.
          • From preschool to adult-level courses, everything you'll need for your course of study is here.  There is a wide range of elective courses.  DVD-based courses, such as Drive Through History, are also included.  (And just purchasing all of the DTH sets costs over $200...)
        • Primary Source Documents & Recordings
          • You can listen to the actual Gettysburg Address or FDR's Day of Infamy speech....among many others.
          • There are tons of microfiched primary source documents available to peruse - so you can see and use the actual words from history.
        • E-book Library
          • There are about a bajillion different e-books available to read online - about pretty much every topic you can imagine.  Use the search engine to find supplemental books for the topic of the day.  Or for those random questions they come to you with at 9pm.
        • Games & Timelines
          • Games for all ages of kids are included on the site - they are educational.
          • The timeline option can be used classically, but you can also use it to make whatever sort of timeline you want.  Want to make a timeline of your family's history?  Your own personal history?  The history of space travel?  The history of rock 'n roll?  Whatever your pleasure - you can create a timeline for it.  And if they don't have the photo you need, you can upload it into your personal timeline.
            • Right now, the boys are working on the "History of Ninjago."  Because they're learning how to make timelines, and it's Lego...so it's not school; it's fun!
        There are also several additions for parents to use :
        • Lesson Plans & Record-Keeping
          • There are printable lesson plans, a search engine for finding what you need quickly and easily, and a record-keeping system (printable option) for keeping track of grades, completed coursework, etc.  This is especially helpful if you live in a state that requires these types of things.
        • Print Magazine Subscription
          • The Old Schoolhouse magazine print subscription comes with your membership.  If you haven't seen it, it's a fabulous enrichment magazine for homeschool families.
        • Scope & Sequence
          • You know those "What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know" books?  Everything covered in those books, from preschool to twelfth grade, is included for free with the site.  
        • Parenting Resources

          • There are focus centers for high school, special needs, and new homeschoolers (amid others).  
        • Samples & Trial
          • They have samples you can access, but even better, you can access the full site for one month for only $5.  You can check out everything available that way.
          • One more note - this site is available to both US and international users.

        To kick off their improved site, SchoolhouseTeachers is offering a one-year family membership (that's everyone..all two or all twenty-one of you!) for only $99.  I realize that seems like a lot - especially when money is tight.  But to put it into perspective...last year, it cost us $450 for our children's curriculum...and since most of that went to consumable workbooks, we can't get that money back from selling used textbooks.  That's nearly five times the cost of this site - and it covers everything.  You can download courses for future reference.  You can stream videos live. 

        Actually - yeah, we didn't even factor in the cost of videos and supplemental books and materials used to accompany said curriculum.  So go ahead and add another $250+ to that total.  Teaching can be expensive!!  But it's worth it to give the kids a good education.  You can bet that we won't be making the same mistake this year.  For only $99, all the kids' needs are covered....from core coursework to electives to supplemental materials.  And we can access materials from wherever we happen to be.  (Less to pack - YES!)  Should there be a chance we won't have internet, we also have the option to download materials to use...so everything's covered.  It's really win-win for the family.

        To sum....Reasons we will be switching :

        • No more being this guy.... (pic)
        • Accessible anywhere
        • Downloadable / printable option
        • Stream videos for supplementals
        • E-book library for supplementals
        • One price for the entire family
        • Coursework for every grade level (including mom!)
        • Trusted sites (everything housed within ST site, so no jumping around web...or questionable pop-ups)
        • Because of the above - less to pack (or house, if you're staying home)

        Now, I ask you - doesn't this sound like a much easier option?  It does to me.  True - there will be no textbooks to sell back for a little bit of money.  But then, I won't have to deal with selling and shipping them, so that's a plus.

        You have the option of trying out the site for only $5 - you'll have one month to access the entire site and try out all the different features (and if you want to try every.single.one., it's going to take you a month!) to see if it's a good fit for your family.


        What are you waiting for?
        Start your $5 Trial Today!

        Ready to commit?  Use code SPRINGSAVINGS to get a year for $99 instead of $179. (exp May 31st)