Free admission to the Museum of Science and Industry!

U-505 Submarine

I came across some amazing information at the blog of a Sonlight Rep turned bloggy friend of mine.

This information is taken straight from the Museum of Science and Industry’s website:

Home School Group Reservations

Individual families with fewer than 20 students receive free general admission on Monday through Friday except during holiday periods. Parents receive free general admission as well. No advance reservations are required; you will be asked to fill out a Free Admission slip at the ticket counter. No documentation is needed. Omnimax movies, Learning Labs and special exhibits like Smart Home: Green + Wired have additional fees and are not offered at a discounted rate for individuals. Check out our free day schedule.

Illinois home school groups of 20 or more students receive free general admission and regular school group discounts for Omnimax movies and special exhibits. Click here for school group pricing. Advance reservations and payment are required. One chaperone is needed for every 10 students. Reserve your visit online or by calling (773) 684-1414.

Learning Labs

Individual home school students can sign up for special Learning Labs. Advance payment of $10 per student is required. Call (773) 684-1414 to reserve a spot. Labs are limited to 20 students on a first-come, first-served basis. The next sessions are:

May 10, 2010 at 2 pm
Museum Crime Lab (ages 8 – 12)
ER/OR Lab (ages 12 – 16)

Home school groups may register for one of our regular Learning Labs offered during the school year from September to June. Labs have a minimum of 15 and a maximum of 30 students, and each lab is $100 for the entire group (or $120 for special labs). Reserve a group lab by making a field trip reservation online or by calling (773) 684-1414.

Lab Etiquette:
Meet at the Information Desk on Main Level 2 15 minutes before the start of the lab. Parents and siblings are encouraged to walk around the Museum during the program.

Arrival and Parking

Plan to arrive at the Museum at least 30 minutes before any scheduled program such as Learning Labs, Omnimax movies or ticketed exhibits. An individual or group who is registered for a Learning Lab must meet at the Information Desk on Main Level 2 15 minutes before the start of the lab. Convienient indoor parking is available in the Museum’s underground parking garage.

Home School Policies

Download a PDF of our Home School Policies.

Tips for Your Visit

Make a pre-visit: If possible, visit the Museum before bringing your group to familiarize yourself with the building and the exhibits.

Take part in our live science experiences: From dissecting an eyeball to taking part in a discussion about climate change, our daily live science experiences make students part of the action. These programs are offered at no additional cost.

Make lunch plans: Pre-registered home school groups (of 20 or more) may reserve a lunch time in the student cafeteria. Other groups are invited to eat in the Brain Food Court.

Set expectations: The Museum offers 14 acres of exhibit space to explore. Set realistic expectations for how much your group can accomplish and what you want your group to learn. Our exhibits are designed to spark interest and engage the visitor. Rushing to see the entire Museum in one trip can be a frustrating experience. Use our map or visit planning tool to decide what to see and do, and check out our field trip worksheets and exhibit guides to focus your visit.

Contact Us

For field trips, call (773) 684-1414.  For other education inquiries, email edinfo(at)

Piano Lessons available in Wheaton

KC Congdon is offering piano lessons in Wheaton.

Feel free to contact her for more information including specific times and rates.
Who: KC Congdon

What: Piano lessons for all ages.
When: Times available are Sunday afternoon or evenings and Monday during the day.

KC’s Studio

St Matthew UCC

1420 S Gables

Wheaton, IL 60187

Contact via

Contact via Phone: 309-365-2910

Get outside!

The weather these next few days looks to be absolutely gorgeous, so I shouldn’t have to encourage you twice to get out with your kids! Wherever you live around the Chicago area, find a new forest preserve, a nature trail, or even just a playground and enjoy. This time of year it can still be hit or miss, so grab it while you can.

Beaver eaten tree

Today we enjoyed some time with my parents, sister, and nephew at Spring Valley in Schaumburg. Unfortunately the historical farm and log cabin will not be open until next week, but we still soaked in the sunshine on the beautiful walking trails and spent some time in the nature center there. We checked out the bat boxes, the observation deck, the calves, turtles, ducks, trees chopped down by a beaver, wasp nests, and so much more. It is amazing what kids will find and what will fascinate them when you just get out and walk.

Need ideas? Be sure to check out the field trip listings for other local ideas. Maybe you have already seen all the stuff really close to your house, so try somewhere a little further away. One of the great advantages to living in this great metropolis is all that we have within an hour’s drive. Busse Woods in Elk Grove Village, Independence Grove in Libertyville (check before going, sometimes they charge an admission per vehicle), Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook, Millenium Park in Chicago, Bartlett Nature Center at the James “Pate” Philip State Park in Bartlett, Crabtree Nature Center in Barrington,  and on and on. I would guess there is somewhere that you have not explored with your kids.

Lots of nature centers have activity backpacks that you can check out, and the volunteers that often staff the desks are happy to help make the most of your experience. At Spring Valley you can also rent binoculars, so you never know what might be available if you just ask.

Not a big nature enthusiast?

New to the whole idea of nature study? Make a game of it . . .

– See who can find the most birds, maybe even check out a bird field guide from the library and try to identify a bird that is new to you.

– Make a bingo board with nature items and see who can get bingo first.

– Maybe you have a budding artist, bring sketch pads and find a spot to sit and draw. Some homeschoolers love to do this each week (check out Harmony Art Mom’s Sketch Tuesday for inspiration here)

– Even just bring a book and do your silent or oral reading outside. I love the flexibility of homeschooling. We often take our afternoon classes outdoors to mix a little business with pleasure.

If you want some web based help and ideas to make the most of your outing you might enjoy these sites:

– Charlotte Mason was really big on nature study, and this page has a great summary of her thoughts on nature study.

– More thoughts based on Charlotte Mason‘s philosophies of nature study including how to start in your backyard, putting together a notebook, and getting the most of a hike.

Connecting with Nature also offers lots of great ideas starting right in your own backyard and building your nature studies from there.

– Put together an outdoor treasure hunt. This would be a great activity for just your family or even to invite a few friends along with.

Wherever you go, however you plan to enjoy it, don’t put it off. Just do it! Get out there and soak up this spring weather.

Any other ideas for getting started on nature walks or making the most of your time out of doors?

Astronaut to speak at Waubonsee

From the Waubonsee Community College site:

Former Astronaut to Speak March 27

Sugar Grove – Former astronaut Captain Jon McBride will present “To Outer Space and Back” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, in the Auditorium at Waubonsee Community College’s Sugar Grove Campus, Route 47 at Waubonsee Drive. The event is free but reservations are requested. To reserve your spot, please call the college’s Community Education department at (630) 466-7900, ext. 2360.

McBride will discuss his life as an astronaut and experience as the pilot for Shuttle Mission STS-41G in October 1984. STS-41G marked the 13th flight of a space shuttle and the sixth flight of Challenger. It was the first shuttle mission to carry seven crewmembers and to have an IMAX camera on board. Film from the mission appeared in the movie “The Dream is Alive.”

Science activities in Rockford next week

Mike Riddle, an Answers in Genesis speaker, will be in Rockford, IL at Maywood Free Church on March 27-29.

On March 28th and 29th he will be speaking for an Answers in Genesis conference.  Here is the schedule for this event:

Sunday, March 28, 2010
8 a.m. Mike Riddle Do You Have a Biblical Worldview?
10:30 a.m. Mike Riddle Do You Have a Biblical Worldview?
6 p.m. Mike Riddle Apologetics 101: Answering the Challenges
7:30 p.m. Mike Riddle 4 Power Questions to Ask an Evolutionist
Monday, March 29, 2010
6:30 p.m. Mike Riddle Apologetics 201: Answering More Challenges
8 p.m. Mike Riddle Cloning, Stem Cells and the Value of Life

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And Jay Wile will be speaking in Rockford on Friday the 26th and then participating in the Northern Illinois Regional Science Fair on Saturday the 27th.  Check out the Illinois Regional Science Fair site for more information.   He will be speaking at 7:00 about homeschooling high school science.

Field Trip Opportunities at the Old Town School of Folk Music

Thanks to Kate for sending information about this upcoming field trip opportunity:

Thursday April 22, 2010 | 10:30am

Gary and Laura Maurer Concert Hall :: 4544 N Lincoln Ave.

Ricky Recycle — a 45 minute show about all things recycling.

Tickets: Call 773-728-6000

Admission: $5 (Free chaperon ticket with every 10 kids, and additional discount for groups of 100)

Ages: Grades K-5 | For Reservations: 773.728.6000

Earth day is upon us. Expert recycler and 20 year veteran children’s performer Ricky Recycle encourages kids to laugh, scream and sing along with his simple yet infectious round, “I like to recycle… I like to recycle… I like to recycle.” This interactive, high energy program teaches how to reduce waste, the dos and don’ts or recycling, all about garbage dumps and landfills, preserving natural resources and how to be respectful and responsible towards our mother earth

Check Old Town’s website for more information and a number of other field trip opportunities. Check out their Field Trip series of shows that take place at 10:30 on different days each week. They offer various topics and appeal to various age ranges. Definitely something for everyone!

Homeschool skate in Aurora

Another reader, Kristen, sent this information along about a homeschool skate in Aurora:

Homeschool Skate

When: Thursdays, 10am – 2pm
Description: Exercise, fun & games, and fellowship during our weekly roller skating session for homeschooled children and parents (parents skate free).
Admission: $5 (includes rental skates, if needed). Snackbar will be open.
Music: Christian based and Disney radio approved.
This takes place at Aurora Skate Center. Looks like a great way to get out of the house and get some exercise each week. Check their calendar or give a call to confirm this event, but it is posted as a weekly event from 10-2 each Thursday.

Live Feed of Owl’s Nest

Barn Owl

Reader Helen passed along this great comment and link to share:

I’ve been enjoying this live feed of a barn owl who is incubating five eggs; an owlet is due to hatch any day now!

The website there has this information:
This is a live feed of a wild female barn owl named Molly. The owl box is located 15 feet off the ground. Expecting owlets mid March. The male(McGee) has a white chest and face. He usually shows up after dark but has spent an entire day with the female.  For more Information about Barn Owls, Click Here We hope you enjoy the cams.  One egg broke.
Egg 1 2/13/10 12:15 PM Est. Hatch 3/14-17th
Egg 2 2/16/10 07:23 AM Est. Hatch 3/16-20th
Egg 3 2/18/10 09:13 AM Est. Hatch 3/18-22nd
Egg 4 2/20/10 11:07 AM Est. Hatch 3/20-24th

Egg 5 2/22/10 02:00 PM Est. Hatch 3/22-26th
Egg 6 2/25/10 09:35 AM Est. Hatch 3/25-29th
Enjoy this simple nature study from the comfort of your own home!
~Thank you, Helen!

History resources

The History Channel is giving away a free DVD to all schools, and they have some other web based resources that you might find useful:

History in the Classroom

HISTORY™ provides free curriculum resources for middle school and high school classrooms. Explore our This Day in History teacher’s guide

Idea Book for Educators

The Idea Book for Educators is our free biannual teacher’s magazine. Sign up to receive the Idea Book today!


Learn about History Channel interactive lesson plans. Visit History Education to learn more.


Explore significant personalities from throughout history at

TEC Open House

Spring is in the air and excitement is building around TEC plans for next year!   On Monday, March 22, there will be a “TEC Open House.” You and anyone that you know that might be interested in joining TEC are welcome to come and observe the classes in action.  Also, a “Teacher Expo” will take place from 12-1 to give you the opportunity to preview what the TEC teachers are planning for next year.

Tri-Cities Enrichment Co-op

Open House

Tri-Cities Enrichment Co-op is a Christian homeschool co-op designed to foster academic excellence through once-a-week selected classes taught by some member-parents and other qualified instructors. Course content is developed and taught by these respective course instructors. Classes are held once a week on Tuesdays for 24 weeks (30 weeks for high school courses). We offer classes for grades kindergarten through high school.

Information on the Open House:

Date:   March 22, 2010

Time:  9am-3pm

Place: Lord of Life Church

(Rte 38 and LaFox Rd)

To RSVP or with further questions, please email: