Grab Your Calendar ~ September 2013

You may have noticed that the “Grab Your Calendar” for August went missing.  Not only is August a slow month for events, but our family is in the middle of a move and we just didn’t have the time to devote to a post.   We have tried to forward events we come across via our Facebook page ~ so please feel free to join us there as well.

Looking for something interesting to do this September?  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.)IMG_1458

1st & 2nd ~ Last days to see  “Animals Assembled” at the Houston Zoo.  Constructed by LEGO Certified Master Builders, each animal in this special limited-time exhibit is life-size and made up of thousands of LEGO bricks.  There are more than two dozen LEGO brick animal sculptures, representing more than ten species. Once you’ve seen the LEGO brick animals, make sure to check out their real-life counterparts throughout the Zoo.

4th, 5th, or 6th ~ An American Treasure: The Constitution as a Guide for President Washington at the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum.  President George Washington (Dean Malissa) brings the content of the Constitution alive, noted by the First President of the United States as his “presidential guide book.” Learn about Washington’s life, leadership and crucial role in the implementation and interpretation of the Constitution and the establishment of the American government.  Presentation will be held twice daily and is free.  Register directly with the museum.  (admission to the museum is separate)

12th ~ “One Night in Frogtown” at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  11am.  Tad, a saxophone-playing frog, sets out to discover the sources of the faraway music that only he can hear. Along the way, Tad meets blues, classical, and rap frogs, all of whom enjoy playing music with him, but seem unable to appreciate any music that is different from their own.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Perfromances are FREE!

14th ~ Hummingbird Festival at Kleb Woods Nature Preserve.  9a-3p.  Everything you want to know about hummingbirds – identifying, attracting, & gardening for hummingbirds.  Admission is free.  Bring your own refreshments as nothing with be available for sale.

15th ~ Texas Children’s Arts Festival at Bayou Bend Collection & Gardens.  An afternoon celebrating art—created by and for children—that helps forge a connection to Texas and American heritage. Children and their families may take part in art-making workshops; participate in a collaborative group project; play interactive games; and see demonstrations that emphasize the way that art keeps everyone connected to the past, how it improves the present, and why preserving it is important for the future.  Free.

17th ~ “Totally Vocally” at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  11am.  Produced by Young Audiences of Houston and Ball In The House.  Through classic and contemporary cover songs and original works, Ball in the House teaches many aspects of music and performance. In this interactive presentation, audience members explore not only the definition of “a cappella”, but also the technology behind the group’s sound system, the various voice parts and how they fit together to make harmony and songs, beatboxing, and the history of a cappella singing from chant through doo wop.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Perfromances are FREE!

18th ~ “Imagination Movers” at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  11am.  Alternative rock for pre-schoolers?  Imagination Movers visits Miller to deliver exactly that.  Formed in New Orleans, LA, in 2003 by longtime friends Rich Collins, Scott Durbin, Dave Poche, and Scott “Smitty” Smith, Imagination Movers are a fun, vibrant band that concentrates on writing and releasing songs and albums for children.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Perfromances are FREE!

23rd ~ Children’s Museum of Houston Homeschool Day “Chemistry”.  10am-2pm.  For one day only we offer Home School students unlimited access to our fourteen galleries of non-stop, action-packed fun. Home School students will explore science, technology, history, culture, health, environment and engineering hands-on at the ultimate Playground for your Mind™!  Pre-registration is required.  Individuals $8/pp, Groups of 15+ are $6/pp.

25th ~ Swing, Jive and Pop! Into Dance” at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  11am.  Houston Metropolitan Dance Company’s “Swing, Jive and Pop into Dance” incorporates history, fashion, music and the arts into an interactive blast of excitement.  The company dances through the eras of the 1930’s Lindy Hop, bops into the 1950’s, grooves into the 1970’s and ends into the Hip Hop music of today.  Students, teachers and audience members have the opportunity to converse with the dancers and participate in an energy filled hour of dance while learning fun historical tidbits of information.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Perfromances are FREE!

28th ~ Museum Day Live! by Smithsonian Magazine.  In the spirit of the Smithsonian Museums, who offer free admission everyday, Museum Day Live! is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian Magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket ~ for FREE.  Limited number of free tickets available – Preregistration is required.

28th ~ “Mexicanisimo” at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  11am.  Delight your senses with beautiful traditional and contemporary folkloric dance from Mexico.  Produced by Ambassadors International Ballet Folklorico.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Perfromances are FREE!

28th & 29th ~ Garden Faire & Fall Festival at Mercer Arboretum.  This two-day event features a variety of entertainment and free activities for the kids including “Stan the Train Man” train rides around the picnic loop and a Kids’ Korner Activity Area sponsored by The Mercer Society.  Admission is free.  Concessions and wares for sale.

30th ~ “Strega Nona” at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  11am.  Strega Nona has a magical touch. With a song and three kisses, she can create a delicious pasta meal. Her new helper, Big Anthony, is an enthusiastic young man with a short attention span. Can he resist the temptation to try his own hand at magic when Strega Nona leaves town? Big Anthony learns a big lesson about respect for other people’s property and the importance of paying attention.  Produced by Houston Grand Opera.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Perfromances are FREE!

Beginning September 7th and running through November 1st, the Art Car Museum presents “in-DEPTH”.  Texas Sculpture Group Exhibition.  Admission is free.

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.

Through November 1st 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.

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

Categories: Announcements, Grab Your Calendar, September | Leave a 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.  


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.)

• 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

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

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