Grab Your Calendar ~ November 2013

HoustonFieldTrips.comLooking for something interesting to do in the Houston area this November?  Here are events, field trips, and concerts in the greater Houston area that would be of interest to homeschool/unschool families.  (In date order.  Events that run for the entirety or majority of the month are listed at the bottom.)

1st ~ Last day to see “Cat in the Hat” at Main Street Theater.  “The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.” So begins the wildly popular Dr. Seuss classic that generations of children have read growing up. But never fear, the Cat in the Hat appears, with Thing One and Thing Two (bringing mayhem and fun!), to take Sally, her brother and the fish on a madcap adventure!  Homeschooling families can sign up for day time performances without having to be part of a group.  $6 per person.  No children under 3.  Contact the theater to register.

5th & 6th ~ Texas Renaissance Festival “School Days”.  Students step back in time as they enter the sights and sounds of New Market Village, an authentic recreation of a 16th century English Village.  Students will interact with King Henry VIII and his queen, as well as William Shakespeare and hundreds of other costumed characters representing the culture, art, science and literature of the Renaissance Period.  Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the gate.

7th-10th ~ Children’s Festival at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion.  7th & 8th are School Days and require pre-registration.  Pricing varies based on number of shows registered for.  Weekend tickets are $8/pp in advance or $10 at the door.  The focus of Children’s Festival is on the performing and visual arts for children, including award-winning children’s performers that are a must-see with their unique ability to inspire children with programs that not only amuse, but also communicate positive messages. Children’s Festival is an exciting way to help young children broaden their horizons, tap into their talents, ignite their creativity, appreciate other cultures and develop a love and appreciation for the performing arts. Children’s Festival is designed for children ranging from pre-K to intermediate, but kids of all ages are encouraged to join the fun. Bring the whole family!

8th-10th ~ Houston Gem & Mineral Society has a wonderful show at the Humble Civic Center and Arena Complex.  Homeschool groups can register for “School Daze”, participate in a scavenger hunt, and explore the exhibits ~ for FREE!  Registrations are due by this Friday, November 1st.  If Friday doesn’t work for you, visit their website to print discount coupons for General Admission on Saturday or Sunday.  Here’s what we enjoyed last year.

9th ~ Pioneer Day at Jesse H Jones Park & Nature Center.  Volunteers and re-enactors demonstrate settler life in Stephen F. Austin’s colony during the 1820s and early 1830s. Old-fashioned crafts, demonstrations, and period re-enactments bring the homestead to life.  Free

Art Car Museum
(click picture to link to our review)

9th ~ World Art Car Day.  Bring the kids to the Art Car Museum from 12-3pm for the annual Children’s Mini-Art Car Workshop. Museum will provide a toy car and all of the paint, glue and decorating essentials for your child to create their very own miniature art car.  Also, you can check out the Texas Sculpture Group exhibition “in-DEPTH” and some cool art cars while there.

16th & 17th ~ Republic of Texas Militia Muster – A Living History Encampment at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site.  The local militia offered not only protection for the colonists, but also an excuse for a social gathering. Join reenactors and interpreters as they recreate a typical militia muster as would have been seen in the Republic.  The encampment  is open on Saturday from 10:00 AM thru 5:00 PM and on Sunday from 10:00 AM thru 1:00 PM. This program is open to all ages but children must be accompanied by an adult.  Admission is Free.

17th ~ Building Community is the theme of this month’s Bayou Bend Family Day.  Celebrate citizenship by learning about early U.S. settlers as well as station-guided house tours of the first floor (children under 10 are welcome!), access to Bayou Bend’s remarkable historic gardens, Craft activities suited for young children, and more.  Presented with Rienzi (both houses open for programs; complimentary shuttle between the two locations).  FREE.

22nd-24th ~ Civil War Weekend at Liendo Plantation.  The Living History Day at the Historic Liendo Plantation is a unique way to experience the grandeur and passion of the Victorian era versus the harsh reality of the war fought between States and Brothers.  Friday is “School Days” and admission is $5/per person.  Weekend admission is $10/adults & $5/Senior Citizens & Children.  Cash Only.

Through November 15th see “in-DEPTH” at the Art Car Museum.  Texas Sculpture Group Exhibition.  Admission is free.

Opening to members on November 18th and to the general public on the 22nd ~ see Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo.  For this special night-time spectacular, the Houston Zoo will be transformed into a winter wonderland, filled with brilliant displays of colorful lights and festive holiday music.

Through December 15th see “Edgar Degas: Private Impressionist Works on Paper by the Artist & His Circle” at the Stark Gallery on the Texas A&M University Campus.  Discover a deeper appreciation of the art of Edgar Degas and his circle of friends–Mary Cassatt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Paul Cézanne–among other noteworthy artists. The exhibition was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA in association with Denenberg Fine Arts, West Hollywood, CA. Generously supported by the Division of Student Affairs.  Free.

The Pass-it-On Christmas, performed by A.D. Players, begins on November 22nd and runs through December 21st.  A zany troupe of actors enacts the adventures of a shepherd boy and his lamb as they cross the countryside telling anyone they can about the birth of Jesus.  Tickets are $10 each or $6/pp for groups of 10 or more.  Our experiences with AD Players are here.

“Uprooted” at Holocaust Museum Houston is on display through February 2, 2014.  The exhibition includes numerous artifacts and documents on view for the first time. The Abramowicz-Mescherowsky-Teixidor and Levenback-Bielitz collections permit the examination of the difficult choices faced by these particular Jewish families – choices like placing a child alone on a Kindertransport or whether to remain in hiding and, in some cases, join the resistance or having to flee to foreign countries. The exhibition exemplifies the hope that safety could be found and lives re-established elsewhere, despite the annihilation policies of the Nazi government.  Admission is free.

If you have any events you’d like to recommend, please contact us.

Categories: Announcements, Grab Your Calendar, November | Leave a comment

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

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