Trail of History in McHenry County


Coming in October is the annual Trail of History. Said to be one of the largest gatherings of historical reenactors, this event brings you back to the era of fur traders and pioneers.

From the website:

The Trail of History is a living history interpretive event. Interpreters from across the country portray and demonstrate life as it was from 1670 – 1850 in the former Northwest Territory which encompasses present day Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and portions of eastern Minnesota. The event’s focus is to show the interrelationship between nature, man and cultural development.

The first event occurred in 1989 and was named the Kames Rendezvous. In 1990, the event was renamed Trail of History to reflect the increased focus toward living history interpretation. Today there are over 150 encampments. The Trail of History encampment is nestled at the foot of the glacial kames in the rolling terrain of Glacial Park. It occurs annually the third weekend in October just as the prairie grasses and trees display their vibrant colors.

The McHenry County Conservation District presents the Trail of History with the assistance of numerous volunteers and other areas and re-enactors from across the country.

What you can expect:

Marvel at the swordmanship skills!

View a re-enactment of military tactics during the French and Indian War.

Children will enjoy learning in the frontier schoolhouse, making cornhusk dolls or candles and playing pioneer games. Parents, bring a camera to photograph your children at the dress-up area!

Dr. Balthazar will awe visitors with his traveling medicine show.

Visit vendors selling authentic wares and culinary treats.

Musicians, dancers, and much more!

Admission: In Advance (before October 7) /At the Gate
Adults: $5/$7
Seniors (60+) & Children 6-12: $2/$3
Children 5 and under – FREE

See the website for more details and to order your tickets


We had the opportunity to spend the day as guests of LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Schaumburg. I wanted to give you all the inside scoop on what to expect when you take advantage of the Homeschool Days on Wednesdays. I did not attend the homeschool workshop, so I cannot give you information on that item, but I will share about the facility in general.

We arrived around 10:30 and after a quick stop at the register we entered an amazing recreation of the city of Chicago. Over a million bricks went into building this mini-city. If only one person worked on it, it would have taken 15 years to complete! It is impressive, to put it mildly. We probably spent at least 15 minutes just soaking it in. It gradually fades from night to day and back again. You could stand there all day and still not take it all in. On the wall behind you as you view the skyline are various facts about the city of Chicago, some of its landmarks, and all that went into recreating it in miniature (including the 1,000 Lego people that wander the streets!)

That is only just the beginning. You will also find these exhibits and rides in LEGOLAND (this is a long section, but I put many pictures in the album and wrote in detail to give you as much as possible a good picture of what to expect when you arrive):

Jungle Adventure — If you follow the natural layout you will find yourself in the jungle just past mini-Chicago. After a brief introduction from the guide, you head into the jungle to find tigers, hippos, monkeys, and snakes, and one really big spider, all Lego of course. Take your time and enjoy the sites. They even have some wildlife trivia that the kids can answer on their own scratch off sheet and learn something along the way. We found the lighting a little too dim at times in this area, but enjoyed marveling and learning along the way.

Factory Tour — (upstairs) A fun trip “through” the factory. This quick one room tour gives you an idea of what goes into creating a Lego brick. From granules to the finished product, volunteers get to “help” by pushing buttons along the route. The staff host is generally entertaining and plays their part well. Our kids especially liked the special Lego piece they each walk away with — LEGOLAND’S very own, stamped and all. You can even get these individually engraved for $2 each.

4D Cinema — (upstairs) Two films available in 4D (3D plus water, wind, lighting, and other miscellaneous effects). Some of these at other places have scared my kids, but these are pretty mild, although you will get splashed a bit. If your child is young and might get upset by that, you can warn them, and you can usually tell when it is about to happen (like when Bob shakes his Thermos to try to get the water out, you just know it’s coming). We enjoyed both of the films — Bob the builder makes a roller coaster and Spellbreaker (a Lego exclusive with good and evil battling it out). Very young or sensitive children might be scared by the evil wizard type character and the skeleton army, all Lego pieces, but still loud and surprising at times. My four year old sat in my lap and jumped a couple times, but he loved it.

Dragon Ride — (first floor) My older daughter was a little disappointed as from the picture on the website she kind of expected a little roller coaster. This is more of a relaxing story journey. The dragon shaped car takes you through the wizard’s tale of knights and kings and end’s in the dragon’s lair where you might get a puff of “steam.” Despite the disappointment, it was a cute ride and my kids generally enjoyed it. The older ones thought once was enough though. My younger daughter was scared at the start of the ride, but the attendant gave her a shield to ward off anything scary, and she went on again without the shield. 🙂

Build and Test — (upstairs) We spent the bulk of our day here. Free to come and go from this area, you will find bowls full of Legos, stools all around work tables, and a challenge. Each hour or so the employees post a new Creative Challenge for the builders. The winner received a cardstock LEGOLAND crown, that my kids were quite proud of. Sometimes an animal, sometimes “Cartoon vs. Video Games” (take your pick), anything that rhymes with “sat,” and various other themed builds. It was fun to see what the kids would come up with when pushed to build something outside of their typical “really cool car.” One important note: there are not wheels out for use in this area. However, you can get wheels. You just need to turn in some form of ID and they will give you a set of wheels from their stash. We didn’t know this at first and were surprised that there were no wheels in this build room. So, now you know. There are wheels, you just need to ask for them and leave something in exchange. After building a car you can test them on the large ramps and race track.

Technicycle — (upstairs) a carnival type ride that rises when you peddle. My kids all enjoyed this and rode it repeated times. If your kids are really into the simple carnival rides this alone could make your admission worthwhile, although the line can move slowly when crowded. On a weekday we did not have any lines at all to worry about.

Model Builders Workshop — (upstairs) Throughout the day they offer mini workshops to show you how to build a special Lego creation. We were a little disappointed that the day we went it was just how to make a large Lego block out of eight smaller Legos. Then these were all combined into one large candle for LEGOLAND’s first birthday. But, August is over now, so you should have something different. Previously they had the Sears’ tower, monkeys, and other items. You don’t take the items with you, just the skills you learned.

Hall of Fame — (first floor) a small assortment of various Lego creations of famous personalities (R2D2, Batman, etc.) Great for picure taking. For other amateur photographers, photographing Lego statues is a challenge, because the flash really glares off of them if not done just right.

Physical Play — (upstairs) small indoor playground, perfect for the little ones to run and slide

Girls Play — a small corner of the build area has girly type Lego pieces including castle pieces and lots of pink. Cute, and my girls enjoyed it, but kind of small. However, probably fitting since the large portion of their guests seem to be boys.

There is also an area designed with the younger set in mind — Duplos (LOTS of them!), and big soft Legos. Great for the younger siblings that are tagging along.

And, to make your visit more comfortable, you will find lockers, coat hooks, plenty of tables and chairs for resting or snacking at, bathrooms (boy, girl, and family) and a drinking fountain upstairs, and a little cafe (meals range from just over $4 to just over $7 a piece — hot dogs, pizza, or sandwiches).

Walking around the museum you can’t help but stand amazed at the huge Lego statues and structures throughout the building. Bob the Builder, giraffes, Star Wars and Harry Potter characters, recreations of famous paintings, and even some of the floor mats. Legos find themselves all over this building starting with the large giraffe that straddles the front door.

All in all we enjoyed our time at LEGOLAND. The kids had a great time interacting with each other and with us. The many opportunities to build stretched and rewarded their creative abilities. Our oldest, a twelve year old, is on the top end of the ages I would recommend this trip for. From Bob the Builder movies to the jungle display, they seem to target a younger set. I would say kids that enjoy Legos and fall in the 3-10 age range would have an entertaining time. My 12 year old did enjoy taking the littler ones on the rides, and helping them build, and in that way it was a great day for all of us.

The staff were cheery, polite and interactive. The facility is clean and easy to navigate, and the gift shop isn’t too overpriced! We took a break for lunch which we brought with us, but otherwise easily spent 5 1/2  hours enjoying the “sites.” Rush hour traffic on the way home was another story . . .

Works For Me Wednesday: Paper clips and post-it notes

A blog that I have gained quite a bit of useful information from pertaining to homeschooling, home organization, and other responsibilities of motherhood is We Are THAT Family. Each Wednesday she hosts a gathering of ideas that “work.”

The theme for this week’s Works for Me Wednesday is organization, probably an area in which even the most organized among us can benefit from some fresh ideas.

Another great pool of information is at Five J’s Thirsty Thursday posting. You can find a handful of great tips and inspiration to help in the enriching of our kids’ minds.  Today Joy starts out with some great ideas about how to handle a student who is feeling overwhelmed.

Two items my homeschool organization depends on regularly are paperclips and post-it notes. These simple objects have saved my sanity more than once.

Here are just a sampling of places you will find them in my homeschool room:

Marking pages in the text book. Rather than have to flip back and forth to find the current lesson, we mark it with a paper clip and we quickly jump to the right page. And, they stay put a lot better than most book marks.

Marking individual lessons in one multi-use book. When I have many kids at different places in one book (like Spelling Power), I use color coded paperclips to mark each child’s lesson. They each have their own color for these types of things (folders, paperclips, binders, etc.) Blake is red, Paige is pink, etc. We all just know these things since they have been in place for so long now.

Highlighting questions or topics that we don’t want to skip over. A strategically placed post-it note jogs my memory when we read through a lesson or book together.

Post it notes divide up their binders like file tabs. They are so much easier to move around, relabel and personalize than other purchased notebook tabs

Do you have any other simple organizational tools that you depend on in your homeschool? Please share!

CYT Schedule

Christian Youth Theater in Chicago

Well known for their high quality performances and drama classes, Christian Youth Theater has another wonderful season ahead.

School day performances are generally at 9:30 and 11:45 and run for 90 minutes. Tickets for these daytime shows are just $5, but may require a minimum booking of 15 seats. With 25 seats you get 2 free tickets.

Here is what you can expect in the year ahead:

Aurora CYT

November 12,13 — Willy Wonka (Performance in Oswego)

February 25, 26 — Wizard of Oz (Performance in Oswego)

May 13,14 — Annie (Performance in St. Charles)

Dupage CYT

October 22, 23 — Les Miserables (Performance in Elmhurst)

February 25,26 — Beauty and the Beast (Performance in Glen Ellyn — COD)

May 6 — A Little Princess (Performance in Elmhurst)

Kane CYT

November 5,6 — Oliver (Performance in St. Charles)

February 18,25 — The Little Mermaid (Performance in Huntley)

May 6,7 — School House Rocks (Performance in Huntley)

Lake CYT

November 19,24 — A Christmas Carol (Performance in Zion)

February 16,17 — The Jungle Book (Performance in Grayslake)

April 29, May 4 — The Sound of Music (Performance in Zion)

McHenry CYT

October 29, Novemeber 3 — High School Musical (Performance in Huntley)

February 18, 23 — Cinderella (Performance in Lake Zurich)

May 13, 14 — Les Miserables (Performance in Huntley)

Near West CYT

November 5 — Annie (Performance in Oak Park)

March 18,19 — Seussical (Performance in Oak Park)


October 29, November 3 — The Hobbit (Performance in Des Plaines)

February 17, 18 — The Music Man (Performance in DesPlaines)

May 13, 14 — Peter Pan (Performance in Lake Zurich)

Rockford CYT (all performances in Rockford at Rockford College)

October 22, 23 — Godspell

March 4,5 — Narnia

May 20, 21 — Aladdin

(Kenosha productions also available)

Be sure to check out their website for complete details on show times and tickets, or call 847-516-2298.

Field Trip!

Pull out your lesson plan books and the white out, because you might need to make some room for this.

Brand new this year to the Chicago area is a program sponsored by Macy’s, various library systems, the Sun-Times, and Lite FM. This program allows library card holders to “check out” a free museum pass each week starting September 1.

Because this hasn’t started yet, I can’t tell exactly how this will work, and even the librarians don’t have all the answers. But, you will definitely want to make visiting your local library a weekly event, and leave lots of room for FREE field trips.

Through the Museum Adventure Pass Program, library card holders can go to their library, choose from the available passes they would like to use that week and receive a print out that expires one week later. After the expiration date (whether they used it or not), they may return for a new pass. The program involves twelve various sites this year including Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

What to do:

– Check the list of libraries to make sure yours participates in the program

– Check the list of cooperating museums for the various passes available (you won’t know until you go to the library for sure what the availability is at that time, but this website will show you what the possibilities might include).

– Visit your participating library to check out a pass (one per library card, and these are not transferable)

– Take a field trip!

– Thank the museum and other program sponsors for making this available to us!

The passes do vary (and all this is spelled out on the website). Some include four admissions, some only two, some offer other specials and discounts (buy one, get one; gift store discounts, etc.) Read them carefully, and make sure you understand what you are getting.

This is brand new to our area, so you might get some funny looks the first time you use the passes. A great chance to practice patience. 🙂 And, you might want to call ahead to confirm their acceptance of the pass.

If you want to see how this has the potential to grow, check out the Detroit area website and the Minnesota websites which have already enjoyed this program and continue to expand the number of museums offering free tickets.

What an incredible opportunity, don’t forget to take advantage of this!

(If you want to make sure that you don’t miss out on all the great resources and tips to enhance your homeschool, please subscribe to the Chicagoland Homeschool Network using the buttons on the right sidebar. And, if you are on Facebook, you can become a fan and receive reminders and notifications there as well).

Homeschooling quote of the week

Let children alone-…the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions – a running fire of Do and Don’t ; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way and grow to fruitful purpose.

~Charlotte Mason

Painting - Helping with Chores Pictures, Images and Photos

With a strong resemblance to Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it,” this quote reminds me to stay the course, especially with the little ones.

Lax discipline comes much easier in the short term. Intentional training takes consistent effort, but reaps immeasurable dividends in the end. As I work with my four and five year olds, I cannot let up. Not with harshness, but working with kindness and compassion, I need to capitalize on the teaching moments that erupt throughout their days.

Humility, obedience, gentleness, self-control, attentiveness, diligence. The lessons they have to learn far outweigh the Algebra that will come soon enough. They will eventually learn about great personages of history, but for now, I cannot neglect their life lessons. Now I must model and instill in them the faith that will give them the backdrop for all of that.

Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg Giveaway

LegolandDon’t miss out on your chance to win a free family pass (for 2 adults and up to 4 children) to the Legoland Discovery Center. The contest will be open until September 15. Be sure to leave your name in the comments of the post and spread the word!

Whether you win or not, be sure to check out their homeschool days on Wednesdays. More info on their site

Info on a free book on homeschooling

Received this interesting tidbit thanks to

Laurel Springs School is giving away FREE copies of “Homeschooling and Loving It.” Normally, this popular book sells for $15.95.

Here’s the Coupon Code: LSS
Go To:
Limit 5 copies per person. While supplies last.

Be sure to watch the short video on the ordering page, telling all about the book. I used the “Homeschooling & Loving It” method with my own children and my son has just gone off to the college of his choice. It works. I don’t know how long the copies will last so be sure to get your copy right away.

Legoland Discovery Center discounts


A representative from Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg contacted me recently about letting you all in on a great deal. More than likely you have heard about this exciting facility, and maybe you have visited. However, maybe you haven’t. Maybe the admission prices made you reconsider, especially when you start adding up all of the members of your family. Maybe you didn’t know what to expect when you arrived.

If that sounds anything like you, or if you have any Lego lovers in your home, then you will want to check out this offer they have put together especially with the homeschool family in mind:

At the LEGOLAND Discovery Center we aim to make learning fun! Journey through an informative LEGO world of color, interaction and creativity for a visit your children are sure to remember!


Special rates will be available for Chicagoland Homeschool Network families on each of the following Wednesdays during the 2009/2010 school year:

  • August 26 through November 18, 2009 (each Wednesday)
  • January 5 through March 17, 2010 (each Wednesday)
  • $7.00 per Child plus a FREE workshop
  • 1 FREE adult for every 5 children booked
  • $7.00 per additional adult


Students get a chance to build towers and test them on an earthquake table.
Grades 1-3,Science/Math

Educational Objectives
This 30-minute workshop helps your children:

  • Learn about structures such as houses and towers.
  • Learn how to increase the stability of tall structures through hands-on experiments in a workshop.
  • Relate hands-on activities to the experience of the attractions in the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center.

Workshops must be booked at least 1 week in advance. To reserve your workshop, please call 847-592-9708 or email
Go  here to download your Chicagoland Homeschool discount coupon (if the link doesn’t work for you, you can cut and paste into your browser):

Download and print off your coupon and bring it with you when you visit.

If you end up loving it, you can become a member (just $32 a year per person if purchased online) and enjoy it even more frequently, but either way you will more than likely come away with some great memories. Please feel free to spread the word about this fun learning opportunity.

It gets even better . . .

To help spread the word about these specially designed homeschool days, Legoland Discovery Center is giving away a free pass for one family (2 adults and up to four children) to enjoy their facility.

If you would like to enter this drawing you must leave a comment on this post. Everyone gets one free entry just by leaving a comment below. You can earn additional entries by spreading the word. If you facebook, blog, or tweet about the homeschool days at Legoland Discovery Center and this contest you can earn another entry, just come back and comment again each time, telling where you spread the word.

Contest closes on September 15 at 10:00 pm and the winner will be announced at that time.

Homeschool classes at the Discovery Center Museum

Discovery Center Museum
711 North Main Street
Rockford, Illinois 61103
(815) 963-6769

The Discovery Center Museum is offering special homeschool classes on Wednesdays this fall. These are geared toward a variety of ages and have an extra fee in addition to the regular admission rate.

See How We See I

Grab a scalpel — we’re dissecting animal eyes to see how we see. Examine lenses, make a camera obscura, find your blind spot, and more! Not for the squeamish.

Wednesday, October 7
Session 1: ages 6-7; 11:00-12:30 p.m.
Session 2: ages 8-9; 11:00-12:30 p.m.
Session 3: ages 10 & up; 11:00-12:30 p.m.
Session 4: ages 6 & up 3:30-5:00;

See How We See II

Take your vision to task and find out what makes colorful colors. Explore persistence of vision, negative after images, and the inner workings of the human eye.

Wednesday, November 4
Session 1: ages 6-7; 11:00-12:30 p.m.
Session 2: ages 8-9; 11:00-12:30 p.m.
Session 3: ages 10 & up; 11:00-12:30 p.m.
Session 4: ages 6 & up 3:30-5:00;

See How We See III

“Scope” out reflection as you make a working periscope, design a kaleidoscope, and use mirrors to play laser tag.

Wednesday, December 9
Session 1: ages 6-7; 11:00-12:30 p.m.
Session 2: ages 8-9; 11:00-12:30 p.m.
Session 3: ages 10 & up; 11:00-12:30 p.m.
Session 4: ages 6 & up 3:30-5:00
Contact the museum for more information or for mail in registration forms. Registration is either by phone or mail.