Free Museum Day September 28, 2013

For one day you can enter a museum for free! (I know we are a little spoiled around here with all the great museums and so many with free days for us Illinoisans)

The Smithsonian Magazine hosts this event, so you can check out their site for all the details and to register.

The ticket is good for two people, and is limited to one per household, so please keep that in mind.

However, there are some great places on the list – SciTech in Aurora, Graue Mill in Oak Brook, Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago,  and more!

Check it out and please pass it along.

Cookies with the Congressman

A unique field trip opportunity to kick off back-to-school season.
Cookies with the Congressman!
When: Tues. August 13th 10-11:30am

What: Meet Congressman Randy Hultgren (a homeschool dad), tour the legislative office in Geneva, hear what a Congressman does, and ask him a question or two! Open to all homeschool families, so spread the word. No cost. This event is an open house, so come and go as you please.

Where: 1797 W. State Street Suite A, Geneva, IL 60134

For further questions please call Susan Russell 847-508-7492 or email me at suzrussell1 @ gmail . com

Staycation 2013

Two years ago I posted my first Chicago staycation post and have really enjoyed revisiting this theme each May highlighting some of the limitless opportunities in the Chicago area for a family on a budget.

Since I could never attempt to represent all of the amazing outings available, each year I try to uncover something new.

If you have missed earlier posts:

– The first year I posted in fives (5 genres, 5 favorites, 5 free trips, etc.)

– The second year centered around activities geared to help you Get Active; Grow ‘n’ Learn; and Give Back.

While those posts easily gave you enough fuel for conversation around the family campfire and fun from June through August, I want to make sure you don’t overlook some of the attractions that you have to come to Chicago to enjoy. These places we “locals” too often miss (or forget to bring our kids to!) because we walk by them everyday and don’t realize the gems right under our noses. Some of these might exist elsewhere, but we have the good fortune of living just down the tracks from them, so don’t miss ’em!


You can take a tour of various food venues in Chicago, but you can also just pick a couple favorites to enjoy while you are there. Here are some don’t miss icons if you want to eat Chicago style.


Ed Debevic’s

Eli’s Cheesecake. Tour and taste delicious!

– For pizza, check out Giordano‘s, Pizzeria Uno, or Gino’s East

– Or, sample it all at the Taste of Chicago July 10-14 in Grant Park


Chicago’s Air and Water Show – Coming to the lakefront on August 17th and 18th. We love sneaking a peak the day before the official start. No crowds, and perfect viewing for an amazing show. You never know what you’ll get the day before, and most people prefer to go on a day off work. It’s definitely a show worth fighting the crowds for though.

Money Museum

Federal Reserve — a recent find of ours. We enjoyed a little field trip to this quiet Money Museum near the Board of Trade. Kids can take their picture in a two dollar bill, design their own, catch the counterfeits, and see a million bucks (in ones, twenties, and hundreds). And, don’t forget to grab your free bag of shredded money. As the tour guide said, it’s $364 dollars, some assembly required. Be sure all adults entering bring a state issued photo ID for entrance.

Millennium Park — In addition to the “bean” and water play, they have loads of free activities throughout the summer. The best way to get there is the Metra on the weekend. $7 round trip for each adult and a limited number of kids ride free with you. Cheaper than parking in the garage next door. Millennium is an easy one mile walk from the stations.

Fireworks — of course on the Fourth you will find them all over the place, but every Saturday and Wednesday they are free at Navy Pier as well.

Shops — While you might not manage to leave without spending any money, you just have to make it to the American Girl store and the Lego Store are just two of many unforgettable shopping experiences.


Chicago has some amazing places that will cost you a little more, but thanks to groupon, coupons, reading incentive programs, and various deal sites you can include these in an affordable family staycation as well

Brookfield Zoo — Lions and Tigers and Bears, and penguins, and okapi, and giraffes, and wombats. Brookfield has long been a favorite in our family. We even splurged on a family pass this year instead of sticking to the free days. We can easily enjoy a whole day watching the animals and laughing over their antics. The Hamil Family Play Zoo is great for both sunny and inclement weather, so the zoo fits our agenda no matter what. Of course, Lincoln Park Zoo is free, and also worthy of a visit, so take your pick with two great zoo choices.

Medieval Times — Another overpriced entertainment venue if you go in paying full price, so don’t! Summer time they have lots of deals for free dads, grads, half price for everyone, kids in free, etc. (not all at the same time) Sometimes my kids got passes from the library reading program and with the other discounts we got 5 people in for less than $60. Every summer is different, but keep your eyes open if you have not yet enjoyed this dinner theater that only has a few homes across the nation.

Six Flags Great America — yes, this is almost as bad as Disney in terms of affordability, but if your kids do the Read to Succeed program and you try to get in earlier in the season (before July 4th) you can usually strike a deal. As a child I used to camp out nearby with my family and make a weekend of it. That’s when twickets were only a couple bucks, but you can still find affordable ways to enjoy this legendary theme park.

– Tour some of our local attractions for behind the scenes perspectives at places like Wrigley, the Board of Trade, be a trainer for the day at the Shedd,  or other favorites

Further away:

Jelly Belly Factory – not in Chicago, but a fun trip and tour. If you haven’t done it before, enjoy it once.

Amish Country in Indiana – another relaxing day trip with a unique backdrop without driving to Ohio or Pennsylvania.

However you decide to spend your summer vacation find something local that you have not enjoyed as a family and set a date to build some memories together. As my oldest approaches college age I see more and more clearly the need to treasure these years that pass so quickly. Enjoy the times together running through the sprinkler in the backyard and roasting marshmallows, and check out local attractions that won’t break the bank or require days off work for travel. There is so much around us to enjoy.

What are your local family favorites?

Scholastic’s big sale

Scholastic Book Fairs BIG EVENT Warehouse Book Sale 25% to 80% OFF EVERYTHING! Most items discounted at least 50%
Register online to receive additional savings coupon. $10 OFF your $50 purchase OR $25 OFF your $100 purchase.
You’re invited to our exclusive Big Event Warehouse Book Sale. 25% to 80% OFF EVERYTHING!

Register now and receive a valuable coupon for an extra $10* or $25* off!

Visit our special book sale exclusively for school and district employees, homeschool directors and teachers, Book Fair chairpeople, and school volunteers. You’ll find deep discounts on selected hardcovers, paperbacks, and school supplies.

Take an extra 50% off permanently reduced red tag items!
Maximize Title I funding and purchase order dollars.
Hundreds of items $2.00 or less.
Great way to refresh school, home, and classroom libraries!
Save more with Build-a-BOX!** Fill a box with books from a specially selected collection. Pay only $24.95 plus tax for each box you build.
Find a Sale Near You &
Get Additional Savings!
* $10 off your $50 purchase or $25 off your $100 purchase.
**Participating locations only. While supplies last. Locations participating in Build-a-BOX are identified with a symbol. Preferred payment methods: credit cards, checks, purchase orders, and Scholastic Dollars. Note: Items purchased with Scholastic Dollars do not qualify for further discount pricing and will sell at the full cover price.

Homeschool Resource Fair in Elk Grove

Information for participating (and attending):
Each year we invite a wide variety of organizations to display their offerings for the homeschool community. From co-ops to museums, specialty classes to park district events, support groups to clubs.
We would love to have you join us for this event which will be held Tuesday evening, April 23 at the Elk Grove Village Public Library from 7-9pm.
Vendors: For a nominal $5 fee you will receive a reserved spot and table space at the fair and be part of our contact list which will be distributed to all participants of the event. To register, please click here. You will be contacted within a few days with a confirmation.
We hope that you will join us this year. Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. We look forward to another successful event!
Thank you.
Amy Burnha
Beacon Homeschool Support Group
**please note that curriculum will not be sold at this event. Our curriculum sale will be held in May.

For homeschoolers – check out what’s new!!

Learning Vine info for the year ahead

Passing along:

The Learning Vine has just published its 2013-2014 Enrichment Program catalog at the LV website:

We offer 48 different courses this year, including graded high school electives that can count for credit. These include Music Theory, Advanced Art, Photography, Pottery, and Creative Writing.

We offer courses in athletics, life skills, visual arts, music, literature study, creative writing, and science enrichment for all ages.

New this year: Cartooning, Children’s Choir, Do-Re-Mi Music, Cinematography,
E-Commerce, Supreme Court Simulation, LEGO Robotics, and Young Investors’ Simulation.

Registration opens to the public on April 5th. Please see details at the website.

Karine Bauch
LV Director

Teaching Homes for Christ curriculum sale


Annual Used Book/Curriculum Sale

First United Methodist Church of West Chicago
643 E. Washington St. (Geneva Rd.)
West Chicago, IL 60185
(1 block east of Walgreens on the corner of Washington & Rt. 59)

Saturday, April 27th
2-5 p.m.

The contact person for the sale is Terri Moore. Please contact her if you have questions or are interested in selling. All sellers will be assigned a seller number to put on the official tags. You may not drop off materials for the sale without a seller number.

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:

Homeschool and Gym group meeting in Beverly area

A homeschool friend shared this on facebook:
The Beverly/Morgan Park Home School & Gym Group, Inc. is hosting a Visitors’ Day on Tuesday, March 19, at 9am-noon. Our co-op gathers weekly in the Beverly area on Tuesdays. Our age range is Infant thru High School.
The Beverly/Morgan Park Home School & Gym Group, Inc. is a co-operative non-profit. We exist to provide Chicago area and nearby suburban home schooling families opportunities to participate in sports, academics, creative co-op classes and other activities in a God-centered learning environment.

Some of the Gym Activities and Co-op classes we are doing this year:
Soccer Literary Sessions
Basketball Choir
Floor Hockey Science Experiments/Dissection
Ultimate Frisbee Cooking

Please RSVP to our Membership Coordinator Laurie, to reserve your spot. Please include the following information.

Name of Parents Attending:
Names and Ages of Children as of Sept. 1, 2013:
Phone Number:

Once Laurie receives your RSVP, she will email you a confirmation with additional details about the day. Please note: We are limited in the number of visitors we can accommodate at one time.

ETA: Wanted to let you all know this is a Christian group so you have a better idea if it will suit your needs or not. ~Thank you!

Engineers Week!

This coming week has a number of interesting events around the Chicago area in celebration of Engineer’s Week.

Feb 2013 Engineers Week

Check out the links at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Their site has lots of educational links for kids, educators, and interested individuals. Most of their events are in downtown Chicago, and they target a variety of age groups.

We have enjoyed the DuPage Area Enginner’s Week events a couple times now. The week culminates in an event at IIT’s Wheaton Campus with Mr. Freeze and lots of hands on stations filling every room of the building. If you go, plan on a packed house with both events and people. We never have enough time to enjoy it all. One of the unique aspects of this particular event is that it brings in real life engineers from a variety of fields (civil, mechanical, industrial, electrical, chemical, and on, and on!) Kids and teens have an opportunity to walk around and find out about the fields and ask lots of questions. They can find out what they do and how they got where they are today.

On their site you can download lots of information to plan your time there in advance, but the basics on the event:  Saturday, February 23, 2013 from 10:30 AM – 3:30 PM at Illinois Institute of Technology: 201 East Loop Drive, Wheaton, IL
Free, and open to the public