West Chicago Public Library Nature-Made program

Received via email (note, this is not a homeschool specific event, but they reached out knowing this is something many homeschoolers might enjoy):
Homeschooling families in the West Chicago area-
please save the date for the following programs at the West Chicago Library!
Save the date- Friday, September 9, 2016; 3:00-4:15 pm
Nature-Made at the West Chicago Public Library
Let’s connect to the great outdoors around us with some fun nature-inspired art! We will have various art stations set up for kids to make their own unique works of art. Our creations will be designed using small natural art materials like flowers, leaves, pinecones and more! During this program we will use a generous donation of 30 pansy flower plants from Ball Horticultural. No registration required, just drop-in. Kids ages 5-11 years old are welcome. Parents and other adult caregivers are encouraged to join their children and have fun making together!(Please note: children under 9 years old must be accompanied by an adult.)

Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center in Oregon, IL

Stronghold Camp & Retreat Center‘s new Executive Director, Dr. Danny Pierce would like to invite your home school group to Stronghold for outdoor education, team building courses and to tour our castle.  Dr. Pierce recently came to Stronghold after being a professor in Outdoor Education and Physical Recreation in Tennessee. For years, Stronghold has proudly offered a flexible curriculum to meet every class’ needs and desires.

More information, email chris@strongholdcenter.org

Here’s some info from their website:

Stronghold’s outdoor education curriculum, supported by challenge education and field experience, helps young people to discover their role in the ecosystem.

The outdoor education program is experience based, offering a balance of physical activities and academic exercises. Topics can include Nature and the Arts, Astronomy, Field Science, Birds of Prey, Water/Soil Conservation, Geology, and Orienteering with Maps and Compass, and many more. The curriculum is tailored to meet your class/objectives and meets Illinois State Learning Standards in all seven areas: language arts, math, science, fine arts, social studies, foreign language, and physical education.

Our professional staff will help you to create a multiple-day schedule specifically designed to meet your curricular needs. There are 20 classes from which you can choose. A few of our featured topics include astronomy, field science, bird and animal studies, water and soil conservation, and map and compass use, plus cooperative games and teambuilding. Day programs are also available.

Lodging options for your students and staff include wooded retreat lodges, campsites, or the Castle.

Food Service
Our dining room provides a variety of child-friendly entrees, including meatless options for lunch and dinner, along with soup and salad bar and dessert choices. Beverage bar with milk, juices, hot cocoa, coffee, and tea is available during all meals. Breakfast includes hot and cold cereals, fresh fruit, and egg and meat selections.
Dietary restrictions are easily accommodated with advance notice.
Prepared sack lunches containing a sandwich, fruit and dessert are available from the Stronghold kitchen. Beverage service can be arranged.

Stronghold offers an outdoor education experience designed specifically for you and your students! Located in Oregon, Illinois, the beauty of nature exists in a variety of environments, all along bluffs overlooking the Rock River.

Incorporating Science naturally into your home(school)

Guest post from Jamie Strand of Scicamps.org

Photo from Pixabay

3 Fun Lesson Plans for Kids Who Love Science

When parents foster a love of science in their children, they grow up observing, questioning, experimenting, thinking critically, and reasoning. These kids love to hypothesize, figure out why things work the way they do, and experiment while playing. Sometimes, it is more difficult to teach science to kids who already love it because they know so much about it. The basics won’t cut it with these kids because they already have a good understanding of fundamental science concepts. That’s why it is important to use fun, unexpected science lessons with kids who love science. Here are a few options:

1. Construct a Bird’s Nest

Most kids have peered up into the branches of a tree and seen a bird’s nest, but they may not realize just how much work the construction of one requires. Having them construct their own is a fun way to experiment, explore building materials, and gain insight into the amazing world of birds to appreciate some of nature’s most clever builders!

Start by going on a nature walk in a wooded area to get a real look at birds’ nests up close, being mindful not to touch or disturb them. Look closely and make a list of all the materials you observe: twigs, straw, leaves, grass, etc. Look out for any man-made materials — birds often use newspaper and stray pieces of cotton or cloth they’ve found to cozy up their homes.

Next, have the kids gather the kinds of materials they saw used in nests during the nature walk. Make sure there are enough supplies for everyone to build. Don’t forget a small bucket of mud to help hold the pieces together!

Head inside and give everyone workspace protected with newspaper. Have the kids use the materials to construct their own bird’s nest. Help them test to ensure they’re sturdy and hold together. Test them out by placing them outside in tree branches, a hidden corner of the fence, or anywhere else they think a bird may want to call home. Discuss what materials made the strongest nests, what extra substances they added for insulation or camouflage, and all the trials and error involved in the process.

2. Dancing Oobleck

Kids may understand the three states of matter: gas, liquid, and solid. But, they may not realize that there is a strange fluid, called Oobleck, which is a solid and a liquid. You’ll begin by making thick Oobleck with two cups of cornstarch and one cup of water. Allow kids to play with the Oobleck for a bit to realize that when it relaxes it is a liquid, but when they push on it or move it quickly it becomes a solid.

Now is a good time to talk about why the Oobleck changes its state; it is a pressure-dependent substance, like quicksand, that is a liquid when it moves slowly because the cornstarch particles have time to separate but a solid when it moves quickly because the particles are forced together.

To begin the Dancing Oobleck experiment, you’ll need a subwoofer, a thin metal cookie sheet with sides, an MP3 of an audio test tone, and food coloring. Place the cookie sheet onto the subwoofer’s speaker and pour in the Oobleck. Search online for Subwoofer test MP3s. Experiment with various tones to see which works best, and be prepared to turn the volume up fairly high. (The three frequencies that typically work the best are 40Hz, 50 Hz, and 63 Hz.) Kids should make observations of the Oobleck at each frequency.

If you don’t mind a bit of a mess, or stained kids’ fingers, allow kids to add a few dots of food coloring to the Oobleck and test the frequencies again. It is fun to see how the colors mix and it helps kids visualize the ways in which the Oobleck moves by watching the colors mix and form shapes.

3. A Day in the Life of…

There are all kinds of science careers that revolve around animals, but do your kids know about their options?

Have a discussion about different animal-related fields and careers, covering everything from veterinarians, zoologists, marine biologists, animal trainers, and animal behaviorists. Let each child pick their favorite career, then write a “Day in the life” story. They can research it online, in books, or even interview someone in the field. (If you can swing guest speakers for most or all of the careers, even better!)

After they’ve written their stories, ask them to present to them. Have them explain why they chose that career and then read their story aloud. Would they interact with animals directly? What kind of skills are required? Did the research live up to the initial idea they had of the career, or was it different?

Building a bird’s nest, dancing Oobleck, and picking animal-based careers are just a few lessons that will excite kids who love science. Challenging kids who love science with lessons and experiments like these, which take their assumptions and basic knowledge to the next level, is a great way to get them to love science even more.

Jamie Strand loved being homeschooled. Today, he teaches at a local community college. He created SciCamps.org with a friend in order to make it easier for kids throughout the U.S. to find science and math camps in their area. In addition to teaching, Jamie loves spending time with his wife and young daughters.

Nature programs in Joliet

Joliet Park district is offering home school Fridays at Pilcher Park Nature Center.

What: Ecology, biology, and geology topics
Cost: $50 / $55
When: Every Friday, September 4th – September 25th 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Another session will run October 9th to October 30th and November 6 to November 27th.
Who: Kids ages 6 to 12 years old.

For more information visit www.jolietpark.org or call 815 741-7275

Illumination Celebration at Wheaton College

Received a notice about this event via email:

Illumination Celebration!

Illumination Celebration!

Saturday, April 11, 2015, 1 – 4pm

Location Meyer Science Center Building

In celebration of the United Nations’ International Year of Light, Wheaton College hosts a free open house featuring science- and light-themed fun! The event takes place on campus at the Meyer Science Center from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 11.

This family-friendly event invites children and families to learn how light-based technologies work, enjoy interactive, hands-on labs, and (weather permitting) use our state-of-the-art equipment for solar observations.

The Meyer Science Center is located at 430 Howard Street in Wheaton; parking is available in the Howard Street parking lot, or on the east side of the Billy Graham Center. For more information, please call the Office of Media Relations at 630.752.5015.

Fox Valley Wildlife Center classes

Make crafts, play games, and hang out with our animal education ambassadors at the Fox Valley Wildlife Center. Each week will focus on a different topic:
Week 1: Classification for Kids
Week 2: Habitat Hodgepodge
Week 3: Skeletal Sleuths

Week 4: Endangered Illinois

Junior Journey Grades K-2:
August 2, 9, 16, 23     10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Elementary Exploration Grades 3-5:
Sept. 6, 13, 20, 27      10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

$15 per child per Saturday, or join us for the entire series for only $55!

To register or for more information email  fvwceducation@sbcglobal.net.

Fox Valley Wildlife Center

Here is some information from the website of a wildlife rescue and education center in the Fox Valley area:

Types of Education Programs

Camp On-Demand

NEW! This customizable 2-hour program is designed for groups of 5-15 children aged 6 and up. This is a great program for groups unable to attend our traditional summer camps. Camp On-Demand includes live animal encounters, a 30 minute presentation, a craft or activity, and a nature hike. Activities are conducted in an outdoor building so please dress accordingly. Programs may be rescheduled due to inclement weather. Camps On-Demand can be booked from June—October. Please book a month in advance to reserve your date.
$20 per child

Girl/Boy Scout Badge Program

This program is especially created for girl and boy scouts. Students will get to learn about waterfowl, songbirds, mammals, and reptiles, as well as meet three of our education ambassadors. Each scout will also get to make a cool craft and take home a Fox Valley Wildlife Center Badge!
$10 per student, adults free

Animal Friends

This program is 30-45 minutes in length and focuses on basic Illinois wildlife and rehabilitation. It is hands-on with two of our education ambassador animals and includes visual aids and fun facts. Perfect for young children or a small group!


Animal Adventures

This program is 45-60 minutes in length and will provide a more in-depth review of Illinois wildlife and rehabilitation. Included are visual aids, a PowerPoint presentation (if requested), and three education ambassadors.


Raptor (Birds of Prey) Program

This 30 minute presentation will include a PowerPoint on all the native raptors in Illinois. At the end of the presentation, you will be able to ask questions while meeting our very own education ambassador raptor(s). Skulls, talons, and preserved wings will be a part of this fascinating presentation. Perfect for adults and children alike who are interested in these captivating birds.


Thank you for supporting Fox Valley Wildlife Center! All proceeds go to helping wildlife in need.

Click here to open and save a copy of our 2014 Education Program brochure.

Free winter fun coming up

Come out & enjoy winter at Polar Adventure Days at Northerly Island.  Dec. 7, Jan. 25 & Feb. 22.


It’s winter in Chicago – come out and enjoy it!
Have fun while enjoying all the wonders of nature at the ninth annual

Saturday * January 25 * February 22

Noon – 4 p.m.


Location : Northerly Island

1400 S. Lynn White Dr.

Chicago, 60605


Free Admission

Fishing at Blackwell

So thankful to see more outdoor activities cropping up that don’t involve snow or sand-bagging!

Fishing Clinic for Beginners

Location: Blackwell
Friday, April 26, 2013
4 p.m. – 6 p.m.Learn fish ecology and identification as well as techniques and regulations. Ages 6 and up; under 18 with an adult. Free. Registration begins two weeks prior. Call (630) 933-7248.

Check out their website for more details on this and other events. http://www.dupageforest.org/Calendar.aspx?id=4682&startdate=2013-04-26T21:00:00

Primrose Farm event — FREE!

Historic Plaque

Our homeschool group enjoyed a field trip at this farm last year and I appreciated that it was different than other living history farms. It seems the common era for farms around Chicagoland falls somewhere around the 1840s. Primrose settles in around the 1930s and has a whole different feel to it. This would be a great multi-generational event as some in the earlier generation might even remember some of the artifacts and such around the farm and enjoy sharing some of their own personal history.

Received this info via email:

FREE to the public!
Saturday, March 23rd AND Sunday, March 24th!
9:00AM – 4:00PM each day

As winter winds down, farms begin to bustle with activity. Planting
begins and spring cleaning starts even before buds blossom! Primrose
Farm is a 1930s living history farm.

Participating in the following activities:
–planting potatoes or other vegetables in the garden
–broadcast oats in the field
–spring cleaning in the kitchen
–white washing in the barn
–wood-fired oven cooking demonstration

Where: Primrose Farm,  5N726 Crane Road, Saint Charles, IL

Check out their website: http://www.primrosefarmpark.com/