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Enjoy it!

October 6th, 2011

Finding ways to enjoy this weather? You know it will be a L-O-N-G time before we see a stretch like this again so I hope you are taking every possible advantage of it. It’s supposed to stay gorgeous through Tuesday, so there is still time to take those lessons outside, grab a good book (or science class . . .) and picnic at the park, plan a spontaneous field trip, bike ride, or let your kids decide. Of course, lots of schools are off for an extra long weekend, so you won’t have the place to yourself like usual, but you can’t complain when it’s 75 in October in Chicago.

What are you planning or already done to enjoy these days?


If you need a few ideas . . .

- Grab your library card! Not to actually check out books, although that would be fine, too — rather to use the Museum Adventure Pass. These can get you into some great outdoor spots:

Chicago Botanic Garden

With its world-renowned plant collections and displays, it is one of the country’s most visited public gardens and preeminent center for learning and scientific research.
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe IL, 60022
Hours: 8 am – sunset, everyday. Extended hours early June – Labor Day 7 am to 9 pm. Christmas Eve – close at 3pm.
Website: http://www.chicago-botanic.org/
Admits 1 Vehicle – Limited to one car per use. No commercial vans or buses

Brookfield Zoo (Chicago Zoological Society)

A world leader in animal care, conservation, and education, Brookfield Zoo is celebrating 75 years of fun this year!
First Ave. and 31st St.
Brookfield IL, 60503
Hours: Jan. 1: Daily 10 to 5; April 4: Weekdays 10 to 5, Weekends 10 to 6; Memorial Day thru Labor Day: Daily 9:30 to 6 (7:30 pm on Sundays); After Labor Day: Weekdays 10 to 6, Weekends 10 to 6; October 25: Daily 10 to 5.
Website: http://www.czs.org/czs/Brookfield/Zoo-Home
Admits 2 (Passes are valid for Brookfield Zoo only and does not include parking or admission to any internal exhibits or attractions, such as Dolphin Show, Butterfiles Children’s Zoo, Temporary exhibits, Motor Safari, etc.)

Cantigny Park

In addition to vast formal gardens and picnic and camping grounds, Cantigny offers two history-rich museums: the Robert R. McCormick Museum and the Cantigny First Division Museum, fascinating for children and researchers alike.
1S151 Winfield Road
Wheaton IL, 60189
Hours: 10am – 5pm (Memorial Day – Labor Day); 10am – 4pm (Labor Day – Memorial Day): Closed December 24, 25 and 31 and all of January.
Website: http://www.cantigny.org
Admits 1 vehicle – Limited to one car per use.

Two others that are only partially outdoors, but both are situated on land with walking trails as well:

Graue Mill and Museum

An operating water wheel gristmill and homestead dedicated to maintaining a bridge between past and present.
3800 York Road
Oak Brook IL, 60523
Hours: Open in 2010 through November 14. Tuesday though Sunday 10am to 4:30pm. Mill closed for the winter season. Reopening on April 12, 2011 through end of program.
Website: http://www.grauemill.org
Admits 4 (2 adults and 2 children)

Lake County Discovery Museum

Offers the fun of a big city museum, close to home with its permanent and temporary exhibits including an 11-foot Mastodon and the world’s largest collection of picture postcards.
27277 N. Forest Preserve Road
Wauconda IL, 60084
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Website: http://www.lcfpd.org/discovery_museum
Admits 2 (passes are valid for general admission only. Not valid for use during public programs and special events where special admission rates apply)

- Morton Arboretum — We just spent a memorable day here with my parents. Unfortunately it is no longer a part of the museum adventure pass program, but I would recommend it as a field trip, although not a cheap one. We were able to enjoy the day with their annual membership which also got us a free tram ride. I could fill a whole blog post with this great trip. This location used to be for gardeners and tree lovers. Not so anymore. My kids love the children’s garden and could spend all day climbing around the tree fort, the rope “spider-web,” splashing in the streams, getting lost and found in the maze, and chasing bugs. If you go — bring a change of clothes and a maybe even a towel for each of the kids if they are the adventurous sort. Also, this was my first time on the tram ride and really enjoyed it. It is an hour long (don’t know cost . . .) and gives some great tips about what you should be sure to see and do while there. If you take the ride grab a map and take notes during the tour so you will remember all the info the guide shares and where he tells you to come back and when. Great info, but no way I could retain it all.


- Klein Creek Farm: Corn Harvest, Oct. 8-10, 2011 | 10:30 am – 3:30 pm

Help to pick, shock, shuck, shell and store the corn that will feed the farm’s cows and sheep over winter. Activities ongoing. All ages. Free. Registration not required. Call (630) 876-5900.

- Lake County Forest Preserve is having a free Fall Festival: with guided walks, games and wagon rides surrounded by some of Lake County’s loveliest fall color.

Meet at Ryerson Welcome Center.

When: October 9, 2011
1:00pm – 4:00pm
Where: Ryerson Conservation Area (Riverwoods)
Ryerson Woods Welcome Center
(Riverwoods)
Who: All ages
Cost: Free

No registration required.


Hopefully that gives you some inspiration in addition to orchards and pumpkin patches that are always fun (and mobbed) this time of year as well. Whatever you choose, enjoy making the most of these next few days!

TOS Crew Review — Read for the Heart

May 27th, 2011

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Reading is an integral part of learning, and more so it is an irremovable part of our family life. Because of this, I am constantly on the lookout for good books. You know the ones. The ones that have withstood the test of time. The ones that both boys and girls can’t wait to hear more of. The ones during which you would never fall asleep. The ones that spark meaningful conversation even after you have closed the cover for the last time.

Sarah Clarkson wrote Read for the Heart to do more than just recommend some good books. She wrote it to help cast a vision for giving reading a place of prominence in your home. By the time you get to the book list you can’t help but be fingering your library card debating which book to put on hold or check out first. I know reading is important, but this book helped reignite my desire to pass my love of reading on to my kids.

Product: Read for the Heart

Details: A 384 page book with encouragement to make family reading and individual reading time a priority. Over 300 of the pages are lists of books that include summaries and background information to help you choose the best reads for your family and your kids.

Price: $17

What I loved . . .

  • Inspiring. I can find oodles of book lists all over the internet. While I appreciate getting a good book recommendation now and then, I really appreciated Sarah’s casting of a vision for reading. I love to read, and yet it is one of the first things I drop from my schedule when time gets tight. She reminded me with a passion how important time spent reading is in our home and school.
  • Personally and statistically supported. Creating beautiful word pictures, the author shares what crafted this love for reading in her heart. And, she shares statistics, quotes, and other encouragement as to the importance of reading. We owe it to the development of our kids’ minds to read early and read often, and this book can be a great catalyst to encourage you in the endeavor and give you the tools (great books!) to enjoy doing so.
  • Lists and more lists. Not just an alphabetical listing of books (although the index does provide that), this book breaks down the lists by popular genres (historical literature, fairy tales, picture books, etc.) Beyond that, each entry includes the author, other books by the author, illustrator, copyright date, and a brief summary of the book. A few quick lists also reference Caldecott winners, Newberry winners, and books especially for boys, girls, and families reading together.
  • Reading tips. Aside from rich motivation and abundant lists, she also gives some tips to making reading time special. From locations to treats she will stir your own imagination in this area.
  • A must have book. This book offers an incredible resource when doing your book shopping. I am always looking at books at a used book sale and trying to figure out by reading a sentence here and there if I or my kids will like the particular book. I will definitely bring this guide along with me now to see what it has to say when purchasing unfamiliar books. Obviously it won’t have all the good books listed either, but it does have many, and many that I am not familiar with as well. I look forward to bringing Sarah with me to all the book sales now and ask her advice before  I buy. :)

Some considerations . . .

  • One person’s opinion. You might feel differently. Her glowing opinion will not guarantee that you will like it. For example, she loved Across Five Aprils (which I have also heard many other people rave about), and I had to force myself to trudge through this book with my kids a few years ago. I was not impressed. But, we are all entitled to our own opinions and will love what others didn’t and vice versa.  You will still need to determine what books are a good fit for your family’s interests, values, attention span, academic subject, and personalities.

This book stirred up an incredible amount of enthusiasm within me. I cannot wait to finalize plans for the coming school year and include some of the great books recommended in this resource. I would strongly recommend this book to any homeschooling mom needing encouragement and ideas for making reading come to life in your home. You can check out the table of contents as well as a sample chapter if you would like to see a bit of the book for yourself and accept Sarah Clarkson’s invitation to more than just a “reading list, but to a reading life.”

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Apologia as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.



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