$5.01-$10

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

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

Houston Gem & Mineral Show

Each year in November, the Houston Gem and Mineral Society hosts a 3-day event showcasing stones, minerals, jewelry, fossils, as well as geological fields and artistry.

This year, our family had the pleasure of going twice.  On Friday as part of an organized field trip to their “School Daze” and again on Saturday with our Webelos Patrol so the boys could earn their “Geologist Activity Badge”.

I coordinated the event on Friday.  As I had never been to the show before, it was quite the learning experience for me.  There are a few things I would do differently, but overall ~ we had an excellent time.

The show is held at the Humble Civic Center, which is on Will Clayton Parkway just East of 59N outside Beltway 8.  Homeschool groups must register in advance for 1/2 hour time slots in the afternoon.  (Public & Private schools are assigned the morning slots.)  I contacted the Field Trip coordinator for HGMS in August and secured the 1pm time spot.  Two weeks in advance I provided her with the grade level of each student attending.  While homeschoolers are allowed to bring younger children, the event is designed for students age 5+.

The show put a great deal of work into designing “Scavenger Hunts” for various grade-levels.  K-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, & 8+ each have separate, age-appropriate pages with questions that can be answered at various booths & presentations throughout the show.  Each level is color-coded and has their own “course ” through the show.  Maps are provided.  Booths that are answering questions have colored balloons corresponding as well.

While this is perfect for a school group with ten 4th graders, we had 14 students spanning nearly every grade level.  At first, we tried to stay together as one single group.  We quickly found that it was often too many people to hear well and that everyone preferred to travel at their own pace.  So, we broke off and followed our own paths.  The show is open to families choosing whichever “level” they wish.  We chose to combine and work on a single-level together.

At the end, we turned in our sheets and were given a free gem or mineral.  Both our children chose quartz.

We returned on Saturday with the Webelos.  The Scouts were free, the only charge was for the adults attending.  Adults

were even allowed to utilize the $1 off coupon posted on the HGMS website.  I was incredibly impressed at how much effort volunteers had put in to the presentations.  As long as the Scout followed the sheet they were given they would leave earning their “Geologist Activity Badge”.   Unfortunately, some people who had volunteered did not show up.  However, the coordinators stepped in and managed beautifully.

The boys were treated to several interactive experiences discussing identification of minerals, rock cycle, water cycle, and volcanic activity.  We then traveled to various exhibitors to learn answers to questions about fossils and Geological careers.  Each boy went home with a bag full of at least 5 minerals to complete the requirements for a collection.

Recommended ages:  For Friday’s School day they ask that registered students be 5 years or older.  Younger siblings were allowed, but families will find that the layout and activities are not designed for pre-schoolers.  Families pushing strollers might find it difficult to navigate.  While aisles were wide, it was quite crowded on both days.  For Scouts ~ it’s obviously for those who are actually Scouts.  Other Packs/Troops brought siblings but the event was booked to capacity and it was quite difficult to squeeze everyone in with the unexpected attendees.

Anything we wish was different?  Both days were really well planned and organizers provided a significant amount of materials including maps.  The only change I’d make is to the HGMS website.  It utilizes panes and no matter what you click on ~ the web address stays the same.  This makes it impossible to share directly links to pertinent information and forces users to click around repeatedly every time they visit the site.  Which leads to difficulties with…

How do I set up a trip?  For reasons explained above, I can’t give you direct links.  Click on the “Annual Show” button, then scroll down and there’s a “Kids Day” link, the first link on that page will be “School Daze Earth Science Information”.  This page provides individual links for Public & Private Schools, Homeschools, or Scouts to register.  The coordinator for School Daze is different than for Scouts.  I found them both to be incredibly helpful.  I would recommend signing up for both at the beginning of September as spots fill up quickly in both programs.  School Daze Program is free.  On Saturday Scouts are free and Adult chaperones are $7 (a coupon for $1/off can be printed from the site).

A note about parking.  Parking is free at the Humble Civic Center.  On Friday,  the West lot is reserved for Bus loading/unloading.  It was requested we park in the East lot.  This worked well as check-in and the scavenger hunt begin at the West Entrance and end at the East Entrance.  On Saturday, everyone enters through the main doors on the South side of the building.  Again, activities began on the West side of the venue and ended on the East.

What else is there to do nearby?  This was quite enough adventure for our family for one day.  Other places in Humble to visit include KSBJ Studios and WaterWorks Education Center.  Both of these tours are free, but do require advanced registration.

Categories: $5.01-$10, Elementary, Free, High School, Humble, Middle School, November | 1 Comment

Cockrell Butterfly Center

We have visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science on many occasions, both for organized field trips and casual family visits.  Recently we visited the Cockrell Butterfly Center for the first time with our Homeschool Group.

The center is divided into two parts: The Brown Hall of Entomology and the Rain Forest Conservatory spread over three stories.  While not forced, there is a general flow to the exploration.  (Don’t worry, if you want to back track or need to make a quick trip to the restroom, there are several short cuts.)  Visitors enter on the main museum level.  Be sure to bring your cameras as there are numerous photographic opportunities.

We were immediately encouraged to go upstairs to the “Amazing World of Arthropods”.  Our group spent over an hour in this highly interactive area.  Not only does it showcase live creatures (hissing cockroaches anyone?), there are also video presentations, a quiz-like game for multiple players, lift-the-flap discovery boards, and a Chrysalis Corner where we watched new butterflies hatch.  One of my favorite parts were the giants casts made so that we could see what an ant’s tunnel system looks like.

After a bit, we entered the rain forest section.  We were absolutely blown away by the number of butterflies about.  We had to be incredibly conscious of the fact that they would land on the ground where we were walking.  Almost immediately they began to rest on any child who stood still for a few moments.  (Not every child thought this was fantastic and one became quite upset.)  The walkway winds around and downward through the habitat allowing plenty of opportunity for kids of all heights and interests to have a convenient view of a variety of plants and butterflies.

As we made our way to the main level, we were thrilled when an employee took the time to show the kids where butterflies had laid their eggs on various leaves.  She even gently pulled some higher leaves within view so that we could see the caterpillars on the back.

Again the walkway descended and we made our way past a fabulous waterfall.  (See featured image at very top)  After spending another hour, we passed through the main rain forest exit leading directly into “Entomologist’s Lab.”

We were greeted by microscopes, books, and trays of bugs to examine.  There were also several exhibits on how various cultures make meals from an array of insects.  Again, several video screens offer an in-depth look into topics such as bee keeping while interactive games allowed our children to help the spider hunt down their meal of flies.

Visitors are then directed back up to the main level for the “Land of Beeyond”.  Lined with several benches, this is a great spot for Dad & Mom to relax while kids continue to explore.  They can pretend they are in a giant bee hive, sort wooden shapes into various plant structures, or sit and read.

Recommended ages: Any.  Those who normally have toddlers in strollers might consider parking them for this adventure.  While there are elevators & ramps in most areas ~ you’ll find it cumbersome to explore in this fashion.  We were pleased with how the exhibits had something for all ages and heights.

Anything we wish was different? We’ve had friends who have gone in the past who had the opportunity for more interaction with the bugs and even a green iguana.  Perhaps we missed it or they weren’t doing it on this particular day, but it would have been nice to have posted times for special animal showings.  It would have been great if the reading nook had contained books about bugs.  Most of them were just “generic early readers”.  It was definitely a missed opportunity.

How do I set up a trip?  For an individual family visit, tickets can be purchased online or at the door.  On this visit we booked via Field Trips and received the school group rate of $2.50 per person.  We have found HMNS to be receptive to homeschoolers, incredibly flexible, and excellent at communicating regarding what to expect.

A note about parking.  There is a parking garage adjacent to the museum for $10.  Those on school field trips receive a discounted rate of $6 (payable inside at the box office).  There is a great deal of free parking around the museum.  These spots have a 3 hour maximum.  Within a very short walk, there is free parking at the Houston Garden Center.  This also has a 3 hour maximum.  However, when it’s not busy (like during the school year) they generally don’t enforce it.  You’ll know they’re tracking if they chalk your tire.  😉

What else is there to do nearby?  For additional admission costs, you can explore HMNS’s Permanent Exhibits, Wortham Giant Screen Theatre, Burke Planetarium, or Special Exhibits.  HMNS is directly across from Hermann Park.  There are numerous places to spread out & picnic as well as playgrounds and walking paths.  We have often “made a day of it” and visited Houston Garden Center, Japanese Gardens, or the Reflection Pool.  Each of these are free admission and within walking distance.

Categories: $5.00 or less, $5.01-$10, Elementary, Field Trips, High School, Houston, Middle School, Toddlers / Preschool | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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