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 . . .

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).

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

TOS Crew Review — Web design for Kids


A quiet weekday afternoon in the summer — too cold to swim, too wet to play in the yard, light school work and chores already done.

Now what? The DVD cover caught my 12 year old’s eye and he popped it in. As I finished dinner prep in the kitchen I looked over and saw him absorbed. Then he was gone. Back again, gone again, back again. It would be helpful if we had a laptop I suppose. 🙂

What had he discovered? A wonderfully straight-forward, simple enough for a child to understand, intro to web design and HTML.

He didn’t need any encouragement from me to watch the video completely through, and he didn’t need any help from me to accomplish the tasks that the instructor, Brian Richardson (creator of Web Design for Kids), so thoroughly explained for his audience.

We loved:

  • Easy to follow. Clear screen shots to follow along with, basic instructions, and step-by-step teaching
  • Can be started with or without internet access
  • Opens up a door to learning and creativity. With the foundational information that this video presents you can take some solid steps toward basic web page creation, or just have a lot of fun trying out different codes, graphics, and color combinations.
  • A 12 year old could easily follow this independently.
  • Now I know how to spot faulty codes, change text color, make words move, and a few other useful html skills.

We tweaked:

  • Don’t know if it qualifies for tweaking, but we found it much easier to watch right on our computer since we don’t have a laptop. This worked well with half the screen showing the video, and the other half showing the notepad that we typed on.


  • For slow typers it can be difficult to keep up, but the pause button is just a click away. We found it helpful to work in pairs on this project so we could enjoy each other’s progress and help pause and type as needed.

On the website you can watch a quick one minute clip of the video and view samples of web pages other students have created using this class. The DVD runs approximately 1 1/2 hours broken into 7 sections plus bonus material.

He is currently offering this basic HTML introduction for $19.99 plus shipping with a money back guarantee. If you are interested in getting a grip on the basics of HTML, need something to keep a technologically enraptured child productively engaged, or maybe you are looking for material for a little computer unit in your homeschooling, this video can satisfy any of those needs.

For more reviews check out the TOS Crew’s blog

Parental Rights Amendment

Dear Illinois Supporter,
It’s time to get more cosponsors for the Parental Rights Amendment! In order to pass the Parental Rights Amendment we need bipartisan support from those in Congress, and we are planning a Cosponsor Drive for Tuesday, July 21, through Thursday, July 23. In this nationwide effort to get support for the Parental Rights Amendment we will be calling all members of the U.S. House and Senate who are not already cosponsors. If your U.S. Representative and Senators are not cosponsors, we need you to call them during our three-day Cosponsor Drive.
U.S. Representatives who are not cosponsors of the Parental Rights Amendment:
Representative Bobby L. Rush (IL-1) – 202-225-4372
Representative Jesse L. Jackson (IL-2) – 202-225-0773
Representative Dan Lipinski (IL-3) – 202-225-5701
Representative Luis V. Gutierrez (IL-4) – 202-225-8203
Representative Mike Quigley (IL-5) – 202-225-4061
Representative Peter Roskam (IL-6) – 202-225-4561
Representative Danny Davis (IL-7) – 202-225-5006
Representative Melissa Bean (IL-8) Blue Dog Coalition – 202-225-3711
Representative Janice Schakowsky (IL-9) – 202-225-2111
Representative Mark S. Kirk (IL-10) – 202-225-4835
Representative Deborah Halvorson (IL-11) – 202-225-3635
Representative Jerry F. Costello (IL-12) – 202-225-5661
Representative Judy Biggert (IL-13) – 202-225-3515
Representative Bill Foster (IL-14) Blue Dog Coalition – 202-225-2976
Representative Timothy V. Johnson (IL-15) – 202-225-2371
Representative Phil Harep (IL-17) – 202-225-5905
Representative Aaron Schock (IL-18) – 202-225-6201
If any of these is your Representative, we need you to call their office sometime during our three-day Cosponsor Drive and urge them to cosponsor H.J.Res. 42, the Parental Rights Amendment, in the House (find your Representative by typing your zip code into the box here.) We are especially targeting Congressmen in the Congressional Blue Dog Coalition. Securing this group of Democrats will make the Parental Rights Amendment a truly bi-partisan issue in the House, as it already is among the voters.
If your Representative is not listed above, please send an email thanking them for cosponsoring the Parental Rights Amendment. Thanking those who cosponsor lets them know we appreciate their support. To view the list of current cosponsors, click here.
The Parental Rights Amendment was also introduced in the U.S. Senate this past May by Senator DeMint, and it’s time to get Senate cosponsors! Call your Senators and urge them to cosponsor S.J.Res.16, the Parental Rights Amendment, in the Senate.
Senator Richard J. Durbin – 202-224-2152
Senator Roland Burris- 202-224-2854
Thank you for your participation in this important Congressional Phone Campaign right before Congress adjourns for the summer. Senators and Representatives will soon return to their home districts for the August summer work period. ParentalRights.Org is organizing visits to local Congressional offices by 20 constituents with 1,000 activist signatures, to be scheduled during that time. A face-to-face group meeting with your Congressman is an extremely powerful and effective way to communicate clearly the message of the Parental Rights Amendment. If you would like to participate in these local meetings please contact Region 3 Grassroots Coordinator Jason Heki (jason@parentalrights.org).

For more information about the Parental Rights Amendment, visit ParentalRights.org

Great America Read to Succeed

If you and your kids earned tickets to Six Flags through their Read to Succeed Program, now is the time to redeem them!

Six Flags

They expire August 9th, just a few weeks away, and the closer we get to that date, the more crowded the park becomes. I just took my girls yesterday and we had a perfect day for it! The crowds did swell a bit in the afternoon, but most of the day we enjoyed short to non-existent lines.

The employees said it was a typical Monday.

Tips for enjoying your day:

  • Don’t forget the sunscreen so you don’t regret your trip the following day(s)
  • Stay hydrated. We actually were there from the time they opened until they closed and my girls still weren’t done! Keeping plenty of water on hand helps them enjoy the day.
  • Bring healthy snacks (but, of course, they need to stay in the car). Rather than filling up on fried food, pop, and sweets, we enjoyed dinner in the parking lot. Whole wheat sandwiches, carrots, fruit, and lots of water. Nothing holding us back from having a lot of fun the whole day at Great America
  • Go soon, and preferably earlier in the week. It will never be completely empty, but you have a better chance of fighting fewer crowds this way. We whipped through countless lines before 11:30.
  • Take the express lane up 294! If you are taking 94/294 up to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee get in the middle/express lane if at all possible. We crawled through the construction induced congestion that whole stretch while watching cars whiz past us. There is an exit from the express lanes at Grand (where you need to get off for Great America), so you don’t need to worry about missing it. If you stay in the local lanes you could easily count on an hour drive from 90 to the park.

If you do have the free tickets, try not to let them go to waste. We enjoyed a full day of fun for around $20 (including parking). Not bad at all, and the kids deserved it for the great job they did reading this past year.

More flags! More fun! 🙂

. . . More Works for Me Wednesday!


Location: Moser Performing Arts Center Auditorium 500 Wilcox Street, Joliet, IL 60435
come together to perform an evening extravaganza

`Beauty IS a Beast’
(A comedy play with a twist of Faith)

(Enjoy watching the talented ballet, pointe, jazz & tap dancers)
Choreographer: Kelly Ryan

‘A Tribute to America’
(Listen or sing along)

University of St. Francis
Moser Performing Arts Center Auditorium
500 Wilcox Street, Joliet, IL 60435

Friday, June 5, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, June 6, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.

$5.00 per ticket

To purchase tickets, contact Margaret Ryan at
ryan-margaret@ att.net or call 708-301-6267
Limited number of tickets will be sold at the door!
Start Time: 7:00
Date: 2009-06-05