Events

We’re Moving!

moving box

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

Grab Your Calendar ~ July 2013

IMG_0871Looking for something interesting to do this July?  Here are a few 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.)

2nd ~ Hear Ye! Hear Ye! at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  11am.  Experience the artists of tomorrow as musical prodigies ages 4 – 18 perform.  Produced by Houston Young Artist’s Concert.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Children’s Performances are free.

3rd & 4th ~ Waller Freedom Fest 2013 is sure to be a fun celebration for the whole family! Co-sponsored by the City of Waller and the Waller Ministerial Alliance, our purpose is to celebrate the freedom we enjoy as citizens of the U.S.A., as well as the freedom that is made possible for all through Christ Jesus. Freedom Fest is a completely family friendly event, and we hope you’ll choose to celebrate the 4th of July with us this year.  Festival is Free, but there are paid activities.

4th ~ The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is proud to host the College Station Noon Lions Club’s Fourth of July “I Love America” Celebration.  9:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. with FREE admission for everyone all day; building closes at 8:30 p.m.  Concessions and games for children begin at 5 p.m., and live music entertainment at 6 p.m. including The Docs and Clayton Gardner.  The evening will culminate with a performance by the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, presented by HEB and Wells Fargo.

23rd-26th ~ Express Children’s Theatre and Miller Outdoor Theatre present the Children’s Hilltop Festival.  All performances begin at 11am and are free.

23rd ~ Dream of Doors ~ This new production focuses on the struggle of several iconic figures from the Civil Rights era who are engaged in the movement to open doors of human opportunity for everyone.   Four doors on stage symbolize equality, justice, education, and jobs.  The story is the journey to open each door, which will test the endurance and self-determination of those involved.   A musical odyssey written by Thomas Meloncon.

24th ~ Three Billy Goats Gruff ~ All the three billy goats want to do is get across the bridge so they can eat the grass on the other side, but there’s a grumbly, grouchy, bully of a Troll under the bridge who is determined not to let them pass.  They do finally get across, and even make a new friend in the process.   A rollicking musical production by Kevin M. Reese.

25th ~ Legends of Wind & Fire ~ The Quest for Fire, How Winter Was Born, Tring-Tring & Kai-Kai and Why Penguins Can’t Fly are the myths and legends of the native American people from Argentina to Brazil.  Told by a Mapuche Indian and her cousin and brought to life by a cast of animal characters, these tales are rich with music, culture and lore.  A bi-lingual English/Spanish production written by Edith Pross.

26th ~ The Ransom of Red Chief ~ O’Henry’s literary classic comes to life with this hilarious musical adaptation.  This is the story of two crooks who plan a get-rich quick scheme to kidnap the very energetic son of a local banker. But, the kidnappers get much more than they bargained for with the rambunctious Red Chief.  Written by Patricia Barry Rumble.

Through Labor Day, 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.

Enter the world of CHOMP! where you can stand eye to eye with some of nature’s creepiest, most dangerous creatures. All Summer, Space Center Houston will be hosting live animal shows every day, free with admission! Learn how NASA scientists are mimicking the traits of alligators, poison dart frogs, and other animals on display to help astronauts live in space. Kids can test their survival skills by weaving through spider webs and balancing on platforms as they navigate their way through an obstacle course.  You’ll find Texas Snakes & More out there every weekend doing shows.

Speaking of Texas Snakes & More ~ check out their calendar of public events to find something happening near you.

Want to get out of the heat?  Don’t forget that many movie theaters are offering free and reduced admission all Summer long.

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

Categories: Day Trips, Events, July | 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.  

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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

Grab Your Calendar ~ June 2013

IMG_1899Looking for something interesting to do this June?  Here are a few 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 & 2nd ~  The Art Car Museum hosts “full circle ~ a collage and assemblage exhibition of five artists whose works involve the appropriation and repurposing of materials. Logos, religious imagery, newspaper clippings, or found objects are employed in these intricately designed works. The exhibition considers purpose and intent and examines social responsibility.  Not all exhibits are appropriate for younger children.  Admission is free, donations are appreciated.  See HFT’s review of our visit.

5th ~ 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 Children’s Performances are free.

12th-14th ~ Disney’s High School Musical Jr. at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  11am.  It’s the first day after winter break at East High. The Jocks, Brainiacs, Thespians and Skater Dudes find their cliques, recount their vacations, and look forward to the new year. Basketball team captain and resident jock Troy discovers that the girl he met on his ski trip, Gabriella, has just enrolled at East High. They cause an upheaval when they decide to audition for the high school musical. Produced by TUTS Humphreys School.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Children’s Performances are free.

14th ~ Texas Music Festival Orchestra’s Legendary Masterpiece at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion.  8pm (gates open at 7).  More than 100 gifted musicians from around the world are showcased in a free concert titled Legendary Masterpieces. In conjunction with the Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival, an intensive four-week study program at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, the Texas Music Festival Orchestra takes the stage June 14. Under the direction of Horst Förster, these young artists perform Richard Strauss’s “Don Juan,” Op. 20 and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. The finalists and winner of the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Young Artist Competition will be announced. Join us in supporting and celebrating these talented young artists. Pre-concert activities in the North Plaza begin at 7 p.m.  FREE.

17th ~ Sounds Like Fun! at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  11am.  The Sounds Like Fun! series returns to Miller with a relaxed and dynamic music experience designed for the whole family.  Produced by the Houston Symphony.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Children’s Performances are free.

24th ~ Hear Ye! Hear Ye! at Miller Outdoor Theatre.  Experience the artists of tomorrow as musical prodigies ages 4 – 18 perform.  Produced by Houston Young Artist’s Concert.  All Miller Outdoor Theatre Children’s Performances are free.

IMG_1879Through Labor Day, 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.

Enter the world of CHOMP! where you can stand eye to eye with some of nature’s creepiest, most dangerous creatures. All Summer, Space Center Houston will be hosting live animal shows every day, free with admission! Learn how NASA scientists are mimicking the traits of alligators, poison dart frogs, and other animals on display to help astronauts live in space. Kids can test their survival skills by weaving through spider webs and balancing on platforms as they navigate their way through an obstacle course.  You’ll find Texas Snakes & More out there every weekend doing shows.

Speaking of Texas Snakes & More ~ check out their calendar of public events to find something happening near you.

Texas Music Festival runs May 31st-June 29th.  The Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival ® was founded in 1990 to provide young professional musicians with a challenging musical environment in which to develop skills in orchestral, chamber music, and solo performance. The intensive four-week orchestral fellowship program on the University of Houston campus is guided by renowned guest conductors, members of Houston’s orchestras, faculty from the Moores and Shepherd schools of music, and other distinguished artists.  Most performances are free.

Want to get out of the heat?  Don’t forget that many movie theaters are offering free and reduced admission all Summer long.

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

Categories: Announcements, Events, Grab Your Calendar, June | Leave a comment

Arbor Day

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Image courtesy Donna Bonilla Photography

I’ve been working on a list by month of events that regularly happen in Houston, Harris County, and surrounding.  As I was trying to think of things that normally occur or are celebrated in April, I thought of Arbor Day.  Imagine my surprise, while perusing the websites of some of our favorite parks and arboretums, to find that most of the Greater Houston Area actually commemorates Arbor Day in January!

So, I did a little research.  According to Texas A&M Forest Service:

The official Arbor Day is held the last Friday in April. Due to the diversity of this state, Arbor Day is celebrated in Texas communities anytime from November through April. Houston and many of its neighboring communities continue to observe Arbor Day on the third Friday in January. In south Texas, many cities celebrate Arbor Day during Arbor Week, the second week in February. Dallas recently decided to break with tradition altogether and celebrate Arbor Day in mid-November.

Leave it to Texas to be truly independent!  Here are a few events this month to help you celebrate and serve.  Please check the links for contact information, how to register, and age-restrictions.

  • Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 19 and 20, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center ~ Celebrate Texas
    Image courtesy Donna Bonilla Photography

    Image courtesy Donna Bonilla Photography

    Arbor Day by adopting a tree! Take home a free sapling, and get information on tree planting and care. Exhibits and activities highlight local forest plants. Webelos can fulfill all requirements for the Forester badge by completing a self-guided activity.

  • Saturday, January 26th, Houston Bar Association Arbor Day Tree Planting at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center ~ Join us to celebrate Arbor Day 2013 by planting 1000 trees at the Arboretum, which lost about 50% of its tree canopy due to the recent drought.
  • Saturday, January 26th at 8am, Houston Parks & Recreation ~ When I contacted them, I was told that this year’s planting would be at Memorial Park.  Young children are welcome as long as they are with parents.  Bring gloves & shovels.  To pre-register, please contact Shelby Oneika: Oneika.shelby@houstontx.gov
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Image courtesy Donna Bonilla Photography

If you would rather venture out during the week, consider a nature hike.  A local city park would be a great start.  City of Houston Parks list can be found here.  Residents of Harris County can find a list of parks by precinct:

We really enjoyed spending a day at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.  A visit to a Texas State Park or Sam Houston National Forest will offer a wider variety of botanical viewing and an all day experience.  If you aren’t able to get out of the house, here’s a video produced by Texas A&M Forestry Service on planting seedlings.

Want to explore even more this month?  See what else there is to do in January.

Categories: Events, Free, January | Leave a comment

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