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We’re Moving!

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We’ve Moved! 

Our family has moved on to a new season in life and away from regularly taking field trips. We’re no longer regularly monitoring this blog or updating/adding information.

I’m excited to announce that Texas Unschoolers will now be home to all these resources. Not only does this allow me to preserve all the information I’ve gathered over the years, but I will be periodically blogging for them in the future on a variety of topics of interest to our family.

Thank you for all of your support and I hope you’ll join us over there!

Please note: Someone else purchased the .com domain that we used to own.  We are not affiliated with that site.

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Categories: Announcements, By Age, By City, By Cost, By Month, City Parks, Day Trips, Events, Factory, Field Trips, Grab Your Calendar, Museums, State Parks, Theater, Tours, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Free Family Summer Movies 2014

Did you know that many local movie theaters offer Free or discounted movie admission over the Summer?  This is a great opportunity to get out of the Texas heat and enjoy some air conditioned fun time.Free Movies 2014 ~ HoustonFieldTrips.com

Check theater links for exact dates, times, and restrictions.  Be sure to show up early!  These are popular with families, day cares, camps, & pre-schools.

Free Admission

Alamo Kids Camp at Alamo Drafthouse Houston ~ various weekdays at 11am.  Historically they have shown movies every week, but only post which movie a few weeks in advance, so check their website often.

Santikos Theatres is offering free admission on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am.  Add a kids pack for $3.

Discounted Admission

Summer Movie Clubhouse at Cinemark.  Purchase a 10 film pass for $5 or individual admission is $1.  Coupons are available to print for discount on concessions.

Regal Summer Movie Express ~ Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am for nine weeks. Admission is $1 and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Will Rogers Institute.

Studio Movie Grill’s Children’s Summer Series for $2.  Monday through Thursday at 11am. (the link will take you to the main movie page ~ select “Children’s Summer Series” from left hand menu to see show times)
Edited: Originally the post said Monday – Friday.  SMG let us know that there was an error on the website and it’s only through Thursdays.

Package Deals

Carmike Cinemas  ~ Thursdays at 10am.  Package for $4 that includes admission and a kid’s tray with popcorn, drink, & snack.

If you know of any other Summer movie offers, we’d love to add them.  Feel free to submit a comment below or via our Contact Page.

Categories: Free | Leave a comment

Children’s Express Theater Homeschool Performance

Children's Express Theater Homeschool DiscountExpress Children’s Theatre has been entertaining, educating and inspiring young audiences throughout Texas since 1991.  They offer multicultural theatre performances created specifically for children and their families.

Houston Field Trips has been chatting with their Marketing Team Leader, Charita, the past few weeks.  I inquired about how they handle registrations for homeschool families.  Up until this point, to receive a group discount ~ home educators had to gather a fairly large group together and prepay for the entire performance OR pay the list prices at open performances.

I’m excited to announce that they have opened a performance date specifically for home educators, extending the discounted group rate, while allowing individual family registrations!

Three Little Pigs
Tuesday May 6, 2014
10:00am
Express Theatre

For reservations All homeschool families should contact Cherita at the box-office.  Weekdays. 713-682-5044.  Payments may be made by phone with a credit/debit card or in-person at Express Theatre.  The tickets will be $6.00/person for any pre-paid tickets.  This is a discount of $2/per ticket.

Three Little Pigs Synopsis: A bilingual (English/Spanish) show about three brothers…one a prankster, one a dreamer, and the last an intellectual. They are Pig Scouts. There Scout Master is none other than The Big Bad Wolf himself. With his guidance, the Pig Scouts will set out to earn their merit badges. Can Scout Master Wolf lead this squad without losing his temper? This musical adaptation is a lesson on achieving goals through cooperation. It also teaches responsibility and the importance of following instructions.

This event is not posted to their website.  Please share this blog post with your home educating friends, post to Facebook, & within homeschooling groups.  If this event is well attended, home educators will likely see more opportunities provided!

Categories: $5.01-$10, Announcements, Houston, May, Theater | 1 Comment

InterActive Theater

We attended our first performance by InterActive Theater Company this morning.  We decided to take advantage of Homeschool Happenings ~ discounted performances for Homeschool families.  Tickets were $6/per person.

We registered online and within 24 hours received an e-mail confirmation.  This morning we were greeted at the entrance by the box office manager (who also happened to be in the cast) and paid for our tickets.  We headed upstairs and found a seat.  One of the cast members gave an informative talk about how the performances run.  The cast encourages audience participation during the entire performance.  Sometimes via all responding, pointing to a certain audience member and asking for their response, or inviting various audience members onstage to take part in the show.  Today’s performance was “Fantastic Four Founding Fathers”.  In sixty minutes they covered the birth of our nation and gave a quick introduction to “key players” in the colonization, American Revolution, and early government.  A mixture of slapstick, puns, literary & historical reference, and general zaniness ~ we spent the entire time laughing.  After, the cast took questions from the audience.

We are definitely looking forward to their next performance and would recommend InterActive Theater to our friends.

Our trip to Interactive Theater Company's Homeschool Happenings. Learn more at HoustonFieldTrips.com

Recommended ages:  All ages.  Family friendly.  Many families had infants/toddlers.  Stage is on the second floor and there is an elevator available for wheelchair & stroller access.

Anything we wish was different?  One of the actors had a heavy accent that could sometimes be difficult to understand if he wasn’t directly facing the audience or he was speaking quickly.  Also, perhaps we’re a little spoiled by A.D. Players, but we missed having the opportunity to take pictures with the cast after the performance.  It’s also nice to have a Playbill &/or cast photo for our scrapbook.  However, none of these recommendations would keep us from attending in the future.  Updated: We contacted the Theater and were told that taking pictures during the performance is OK. 

How do I set up a trip?  Homeschool Happening rates are already discounted from standard admission, so no need to organize a group (but you’re more than welcome to).  Reserve your tickets via the website and pay at the door.  They accept cash & credit cards.

A note about parking.  Homeschool performances are held at the Church of Christ at 1548 Heights Boulevard.  I highly suggest you use the directions posted to the website as we heard from others and experienced ourselves that smartphone mapping programs do not give accurate directions.  The parking spaces are very close together ~ aim for the middle!  Parking is free.

What else is there to do nearby?  You’re only 2 miles North of the Art Car Museum, which is also on Heights Boulevard (just South of I-10).

Categories: $5.01-$10, Field Trips, Houston, Theater | 1 Comment

Planning Awesome Family Day Trips

This post appears in the Natural Family Today e-book “Natural Family Guide to Summer” which you can download for FREE when you subscribe to their newsletter.  

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Day trips are a great option during the Summer months. They are an economical way for your family to explore an area outside of your everyday perimeter without a huge financial or time investment. From a day on the beach to an all day adventure at a nearby amusement park there are a variety of options to meet the needs of families no matter what your ages and stages. 

Where to Go?

A variety of factors come in to play here. The ages of your children, how far you are willing to travel, your budget, and what interests your family. Be sure you are taking your children’s “car tolerance” into consideration. Some families can handle a day trip that is 3 hours each way, while others may need to limit themselves to an hour round trip. You are  probably already familiar with the closest amusement park, so I wanted to share some ideas that may bring your family closer to nature.  (As this post was written for a broad audience, links provided are for national organizations and are not specific to the Houston area.)

Aquarium
• ArboretumIMG_1305
Audubon Preserve
• Beach
• Boat Tour
• Botanical Garden
Bureau of Land Management
• City/County Park
• Environmental Learning Center
• Japanese Gardens
• Lake
National Park Service
• Nature Preserve
• State Park
US Forest Service
Zoo

Our family has been traveling, camping, and enjoying field trips with our children for 10 years. We’ve found two things significantly contribute to the “success” of a trip:

1. Being Prepared
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff & just enjoy the adventure.

Be Prepared

Know all you can about the location. Where is it located? This may seem simple, but many families rely on their GPS only to end up milesfrom their desired destination or stuck on a street that hasn’t been completed yet. Venues with websites usually offer directions & maps ~ use them. Where is the parking? Are there bathrooms? (Yes, we went to a park once to find they had locked all the bathrooms on weekdays.) What is the appropriate age for visitors? Do they have any special events/programs that day? Is there a place inside or nearby to picnic? Are they busier on certain days of the week or certain weeks of the Summer? Can they accommodate any special needs you have? Can you bring outside food? Is it appropriate for strollers or wheelchairs? Is there an area for diaper changing or nursing?

Invite your children to help prepare. Have conversations with children about the plans for the day. Discuss any family rules about distance from the parent (holding hands, arms reach, line of sight, etc.) Plan where they should go or who they should talk to if you’re separated.  Until they memorized our cell numbers, we used a Sharpie to write it on the inside of our children’s shoes. If applicable, let them know of any specific times for presentations, snacks/lunch, exploring or at least the order of events. Ask them which ones are important to them and make those a priority. If there will be “extra costs” once inside that you’ve decided to skip (like the midway games at the fair), be clear with your children that it isn’t in the budget this time around. Oh, and our kids’ favorite, “How long is the drive?” We like to print an
extra copy of our directions from Google maps so they can help navigate.

Stock the car. Nothing dampens a trip (and everyone’s mood) like having to leave because you ran out of diapers or the 4-year-old spilled his drink & doesn’t have another shirt. If you’re tight on trunk space, prioritize on what is most important (or most likely to be needed) and be sure to bring it along. We regularly bring: prescription medication, first aid kit, sunscreen, change of clothes (even an extra shirt for Dad & Mom), extra snacks, water, picnic blanket, rain ponchos, camping chairs, Kleenex, a roll of paper towels, beach towels, and a collapsible wagon. Also be sure to include activities to keep all the passengers busy. While iPads and DVD players can be nice ~ we’ve been pleasantly surprised how much our children enjoy games like Car Bingo, mazes, connect-the-dots, tic-tac-toe, and other printable car games. Audio Books make a great selection for the car. Borrow from your local library or you can make your own CD’s for
only the cost of the disk. 

Set a budget. Planning for all the expenses helps avoid any fretting or family strife in the middle of the trip. Consider things like: fuel, tolls, admission, and parking fees. Do they accept cash, checks, &/or credit cards? Are there any additional costs for extra activities/experiences once there? Will you be bringing or buying snacks & meals? How
much do you have to spend on souvenirs? Are the kids allowed to spend their own money?

Enjoy the Adventure

At some point, decide that you are as prepared as possible and you are just going to enjoy yourselves. Don’t stress over small hiccups, be flexible, and keep the attitude that everything is a learning experience ~ even if it doesn’t go as planned.

Categories: Announcements, Day Trips, Events, Field Trips, Free, September | Leave a comment

Free Family Movies Summer of 2013

Interior of a Movie Theater

Did you know that many local movie theaters offer Free or discounted movie admission over the Summer?  This is a great opportunity to get out of the Texas heat and enjoy some air conditioned fun time.

While we find learning happens all the time, those families looking for a little more “education” to their films will be pleased to learn that documentaries like Chimpanzee and African Cats are playing.  There are also film versions of the popular books Mr. Popper’s Penguins and The Lorax and the based-on-a-true-story Big Miracle.

Check theater links for exact dates, times, and restrictions.

Free Admission

Alamo Kids Camp at Alamo Drafthouse Houston ~ various weekdays at 11am.  Historically they have shown movies every week, but only post which movie a few weeks in advance, so check their website often.

Santikos Theatres is offering free admission on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10am.

Discounted Admission

Summer Movie Clubhouse at Cinemark.  Purchase a 10 film pass for $5 or individual admission is $1.  Coupons are available to print for discount on concessions.

Regal Summer Movie Express ~ Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am for nine weeks. Admission is $1 and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Will Rogers Institute.

Studio Movie Grill’s Children’s Summer Series is $1 for children and $2 for adults.  Monday through Friday at 11am.

Package Deals

Carmike Cinemas  ~ Thursdays at 10am.  Package for $4 that includes admission and a kid’s tray with popcorn, drink, & snack.

If you know of any other Summer movie offers, we’d love to add them.  Feel free to submit a comment below or via our Contact Page.

Categories: $5.00 or less, Announcements, August, By Age, Elementary, Free, High School, July, June, May, Middle School, Toddlers / Preschool | 2 Comments

A.D. Players ~ Children’s Theater

We’ve been attending the Children’s Theater performances at A.D. Players for a little over a year now.  Our family has enjoyed plays based on books like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Velveteen Rabbit, and Bunnicula as well as adaptations of fairy tales like Cinderella and Thumbelina.  Lasting approximately an hour, these are the perfect introduction to theater for kids of all ages.

After the show, the cast remains on stage to answer questions from the audience about everything from acting and props to decisions about differences from the books.  While videography and photography are prohibited during the performance, the actors will line up after the performance and pose for pictures with your children/family.  The cast also gladly autographs a cast photo (purchased for $1) or your program.  We have found all cast members to be kind, engaging, and deeply interested in the children’s questions and comments.

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Recommended ages:  All ages.  We’ve attended with infants through high school with all having a wonderful time.  On occasion the length of a show may prove to be too much for some toddlers.

Anything we wish was different?  Because they do not sell concessions during the day time shows, it would be nice if they would allow snacks in the theater.  This would be especially helpful to families with small children.  Their current policy is bottled water only.

How do I set up a trip?  The shows are open to the public.  Individual tickets are $12/each and can be purchased online or by phone.  Group rates are available for $6/each with a minimum of 15 attendees.  A 25% deposit is required and final payment is due 2 weeks before the show.

A note about parking.  The “Three Maps to Bethlehem” production was held this year at the St. Luke’s Rotunda.   However, unlike years past, most shows are now at the Mainstage Theater.  There isn’t a lot of parking, so carpooling is highly recommended if feasible.  Parking is free.

What else is there to do nearby?  The Mainstage theater is located less than 5 miles (approx 10min drive) from Hermann Park and the Museum District.  If you want spend the whole day out, consider an afternoon at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Zoo, or any of the sights Hermann Park offers.

“The Jungle Book” will be on stage from April 16th – May 4th.  Mowgli has been raised and protected by the Seeonee wolf pack his entire life, but his mortal enemy, the vicious tiger Shere Khan, has a plan to scatter the pack. It will take all the wisdom Mowgli has learned from his friends Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther to survive the tiger’s vengeful scheme. This thrilling adventure is about growing up and the strength of true friendship.

For those on a strict budget, or to just enjoy the performance again: “The Jungle Book” will also be at Miller Outdoor Theatre on May 30th at 11am.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre performances are free.

Categories: $10.01-$15, $5.01-$10, Elementary, Field Trips, High School, Houston, Middle School, Toddlers / Preschool | 4 Comments

Bear Creek Park Zoo

IMG_1043For families living on the West Side of Houston (areas like Spring Branch, Memorial, Copperfield, Cypress, Katy, & Jersey Village) ~ this is quite the treasure.  In the middle of Bear Creek Pioneers Park is a small wildlife habitat and aviary containing rescued and rehabilitating animals.  Many have been injured and are not capable of surviving in the wild.   Locals just call it “Bear Creek Park Zoo”.

While not as expansive as the Houston Zoo located in Hermann Park, we thoroughly enjoy a closer view, slower pace, and the fact that it’s FREE.   The zoo is situated along War Memorial Drive on the end closest to Eldgridge.  Visitors find a walking, stroller, and wheelchair friendly path leading to an aviary and a string of fenced areas.

The aviary contains various birds like owls, macaws, peafowl, doves, pigeons, and parrots.  If you are fortunate (or perhaps unfortunate!) you’ll be able to witness the aviary keepers feeding the birds of prey.  It’s an interesting opportunity to witness how these birds dismember rodents to eat.  Our children enjoy talking to the macaw that often mimics their words.  It’s a terrific opportunity to listen to the various calls each bird makes.

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For about 1/3 of a mile, you’ll find a row of fenced enclosures.  We enjoy watching bison, pot-bellied pigs, goats, emus, donkeys, sheep, and deer.  Over several of the enclosures are signs giving details of the history of the animal, feeding preferences, and scientific facts.  Built into the fences are “camera ports” where you can take up-close pictures of the animals.  Like the larger zoos ~ the animals are more likely to be active on days where the temperature is moderate.

Recommended ages:  All.  This is the perfect visit for all ages.  Those with small children will enjoy the fact that they can get a closer view than at larger zoos.

How do I set up a trip?  The zoo is FREE and open to the public 7 days a week from 7am to 10pm.  Our Cub Scout Den enjoyed a specific program regarding the aviary.  E-mail the park to coordinate staff directed events.

A note about parking.  There is plenty of parking all along the zoo.  Feel free to start at any point and meander around.

What else is there to do nearby?  Explore Bear Creek Pioneers Park!  Really, the park offers so much that it’s easy to make an entire day of it.  Playgrounds, War Memorial, Tennis Courts, Walking Trails, and more.

IMG_1046

Categories: City Parks, Day Trips, Elementary, Free, High School, Houston, Middle School, Toddlers / Preschool | Leave a comment

WaterWorks Education Center

IMG_1202Yesterday we had the pleasure of visiting the WaterWorks Education Center in Humble with our local homeschool group.  I cannot speak highly enough of our experience ~ both from the ease of coordinating the Field Trip and our experiences on the tour.The tour began with a 15 minute slide-show presentation explaining water, the water cycle, ground water, and how the City of Houston captures, cleans, and distributes water.  Our presenter did an excellent job engaging the children (and adults) with questions throughout the presentation.  She was also open to students asking questions during the presentation instead of requiring they wait until the end.

We were then led to an interactive exhibit winding around behind the theater.  Children were given a clipboard and asked to “find” answers to questions. Younger children/pre-readers were given a list of pictures to participate in a “scavenger hunt” on their own level.  I loved that the employees were available to help the children if they were interested in finding everything in their sheet ~ but weren’t overly concerned if the children just wanted to explore the exhibits on their own terms.IMG_1213

We ended in a “classroom” setting with tables and chairs.  Another presenter spoke in further detail about the water cycle.  We then played a game where various “parts” of the cycle were scattered around the room.  Each station had a box of pony beads & a large “die” or “cube” to be rolled.  The children were each given a lanyard.  They picked a starting point, grabbed a bead & then rolled.  The die for that “station” would have each “next step” in the water cycle on each side.  Depending on what they rolled, the students would proceed to the appropriate station and collect another bead.  This was a great way to reinforce the various ways that water *moves* throughout our world.

Each child was given a bag of “goodies” to take home including: crayons, coloring/activity books, stickers, bracelets, and cups.  There were also resource materials for parents & teachers to take home.  

IMG_1204Recommended ages:  The center is completely prepared to meet the needs of any age group.  Even as a homeschool group bringing toddlers to high school age students ~ they were able to adapt & split the presentation to meet each student on their level.  I made the mistake of failing to inform them ahead of time that the majority of our registrants were young elementary age ~ they still quickly and without any fuss adapted the program.  For that, I am incredibly grateful.

They offer programs for public, private, and home school groups.  They also offer tours for adults.  They are willing to adapt the program to meet the needs of your group.  I think that this would be a perfect trip for our Cub Scout Pack to earn their Weather Belt Loop and Pin.

Anything we wish was different?  At this time, visitors cannot tour the actual treatment facility.  It was quite cold the day we visited.  We were told when the weather is nice, they will go out and look at the various parts from the Education Center parking lot ~ but it’s not possible to actually walk through the plant.IMG_1208

How do I set up a trip?  Call or e-mail WaterWorks Houston.  There is a form available to download that can be e-mailed along with your request.  I would suggest inquiring as to which tours are most appropriate for the age group you plan to bring.

A note about parking.  DO NOT USE YOUR GPS ~ it’s not going to be correct.  WaterWorks provides directions & a map on their website.  Use them!  The directions can seem a little counter-intuitive (as you are asked to make a right turn in order to u-turn), but once you are there it makes complete sense.  There’s also several, albeit small, blue signs to help keep you going to right direction.  You must check in at the security gate and all adults must present a valid picture ID.  Parking is ample and directly in front of the entrance.

What else is there to do nearby?  We’re still exploring the area ~ but here are some places we’ve visited in Humble.

Categories: Elementary, Field Trips, Free, High School, Humble, Middle School, Toddlers / Preschool | 1 Comment

Read to Succeed ~ Six Flags

img_1353Houston natives have fond memories of Six Flags AstroWorld as the local “theme park” until it’s closure in 2005.  Now, our best options for roller coasters are Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington or Fiesta Texas in San Antonio.  Six Flags offers a wonderful program called, “Read to Succeed” which allows Kindergarten through 6th grade students (public, private, & home schools) to earn free admission on select dates.

Students must be registered, complete 6 hours of reading (in a variety of formats) and submit reading logs.  Teachers (one parent in homeschool families) earn a ticket too!

Unlike years past, homeschool families need not be under the umbrella of a coordinating group to earn tickets.  Families register directly with Six Flags, submit times online, mail forms, and receive their tickets directly in the mail.

To register, click here and see the FAQ for Homeschool Families.

If you will be traveling this Summer, you can opt for tickets to other parks around the country.  Just keep in mind that once you select a park, the ticket can not be used at a different one.

How is a trip to a theme park educational?  Roller Coasters offer “applied learning” in gravity, centrifugal force, and engineering.

For more on the “Science of Coasters”, check out the series on coasters by Discovery’s  Build it Bigger.

Categories: Announcements, Free | Leave a comment

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