Interested in Local History?

If you would like more information on local history including events, museums, background information and resources, you may like to subscribe to a FREE quarterly magazine put out by the Illinois State Museum.

This colorful publication, entitled The Living Museum, packs information on the many historical monuments, museums, and sites available to you around our state. It also includes information on current exhibits at various museums so you can plan them into your schedule.

Living Museum Cover

For more information about this publication, or to subscribe, check out the Illinois State Museum website, or email them at:

Taking full advantage of your library

Formerly, I thought I had a pretty good handle on all my library had to offer:

Reading programs — great incentives in summer for individual reading and in the winter for family reading and we earn free stuff in the process of doing something we would spend our time doing anyway. And, the kids got even more excited about time spent reading.

Books — Obviously, books hold the main draw of the library. Thousands of books on any topic you could want to read on. I’m still not quite sure how I would homeschool if I did not have weekly access to the library and daily access to the Internet. I would spend a lot more money, I am sure.

Non-book items — we also enjoy magazines, CD’s, movies, puzzles, and other items the library makes available for home use through borrowing.

Online account access — We can easily keep tabs on all these items that constantly flow in and out of our house online with our account information readily available and renewable with the click of the mouse.

All those things are great. However, I recently found out I had just scratched the surface of information available to me through the library.

This summer I discovered the World Catalog (claims to have 1.4 billion items on record right now!) which I had access to from home with my library card. I can reserve a book from just about anywhere in the world and they will send it to my library for me to pick up. Now, living near a large city like Chicago, I rarely have a book sent from outside of my state, but I did recently get a book from Arkansas. If you have not learned to navigate the “World Cat” get in touch with your librarian and find out about the billions of items that you have access to through this data base.

We love audiobooks and devour a few of them each month during our errand running. Well, they come in a new format we can check out from the library as well. Playaways are preloaded auidobooks in an MP3 type device that you check out and take with you.

But, there’s more. My librarian also showed me the depths of internet options and subscriptions available through my library website. This will vary widely from library to library, but here is just some of what I can access with my library card, from the comfort of my own home (Clicking to these sites through my library site automatically enters me as a subscriber. On some I need to set up a free account to use them):

  • Online language course through Byki.
  • Book review sites
  • Online picture books, through Tumblebooks.
  • Local newspaper websites
  • Premium research databases
  • NetLibrary‘s 16,000 electronic version of printed books.
  • Naxos music library’s recordings of 85,000 pieces. (We love this one for our composer studies, no more scouring the internet for a suitable recording or trying to remember to get a recording while at the library. Immediate access from home!)

And the list goes on and on, figured I would just share a few favorites we have already used. When she started showing us this I could not believe the information that I had in front of me. All these memberships and subscriptions that I have a part of through my library card. Now, of course, as I said this will vary widely by library, but if you want your library to offer something that they do not already offer, just ask. If they can find a way to fit it in the budget, they might just do it.

Photograph of Homeschool Resource Center

Tiny, but powerful! The Homeschool Resource Center. Four walls packed with resources.

I could not talk about libraries and homeschooling without mentioning the Johnsburg Public Library. Tucked away in this small, unassuming town library is a Homeschool Resource Center that has helped homeschoolers across the country. If you live in Illinois you can drive to the library and check out items with your valid Illinois library card. They have microscopes, models, a vacuum pump, and lots of other larger items to help teach some of those tougher topics. Those items you must physically pick up and drop off at their library.

However, they have also used this $55,000 grant to stock its shelves with books, curriculum samples, and other resources that homeschoolers will benefit from. And, they are open to suggestions for new purchases as well. It would most likely be worth your time to peruse the 2000 plus items they have specifically for the homeschooler.

One last library advantage . . . If you live in the Chicago, Detroit or Minneapolis area (click city names for various local program sites), you have the opportunity to “check out” museum passes each week. These can provide for some great, inexpensive field trips for your family or homeschool group. They are first come, first served, but make sure to look into this great program if you live in any of those areas.

Enjoy more Works for Me Wednesday and Thirsty Thursday

Subscribe to The Old Schoolhouse magazine and enjoy some amazing freebies!

About six months ago I got a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse magazine when they had some outrageous deal going on, and I have not regretted it since.

Along with the magazine I receive a fresh dose of homeschool inspiration covering a variety of topics, both practical and theoretical to give my homeschool day the makeover it needs now and then. I appreciate the wisdom from veteran, and “retired”, homeschoolers. I soak up the tips and ideas for unit studies or handling a problem that I find myself wrestling with.

Each publication reminds me that I am normal. 🙂 And, it encourages me to know I don’t struggle alone through Algebra, spelling woes, and trying to somehow get all the housework done on top of it. It’s always good to know that many others walk this same path.

Well, if you could use some of that encouragement delivered to your mailbox, they have another pretty incredible deal going on right now.

They already had a sweet deal with 19 free gifts (scroll and click through that link to find out about all the goodies — from gifts cards to DVD classes) coming your way for the first 5,000 people to sign up for a two year subscription (fyi, at last count 1,000 people had already taken advantage of this deal). Now, you can get an extra $5 off using this code: ELSGL5OFF

It says their gifts can’t be combined with any other offers, but this offer was made specially to work with the subscription and gifts, just plug it in during check out for the extra $5 off. For $34 you can enjoy all the free gifts plus a two-year subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Just make sure you enter that code when you check out to get your extra $5 off. And, share that code around with anyone you want to. That code can be used by anyone (in the US) and everyone to enjoy this deal and all these great free gifts (until they run out, of course).

I know you won’t be disappointed in the quality of their magazine, and the meaty content it brings with it. It has been a great encouragement to me, and I wanted to share my enthusiasm with you.

The Old Schoolhouse Summer Reading Program

The following is a message from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine:

It’s hard to believe that so many months have passed and it’s time to kick off our SECOND ANNUAL SUMMER READING SPLASH! We had so much fun last year and hope that you and your children did as well. We’re looking forward to another summer filled with lots of reading and great books! (This reading program is open to ANY homeschooled student – you do not have to be a TOS magazine or E-newsletter subscriber in order for your children to participate.) As a matter of fact, we are so passionate about getting children to read, we’d love for you to share this information with EVERYONE you know! Please forward this e-mail to all your homeschooling friends and share the news about the Summer Reading Splash!

Over the next 3 months, we’ll provide lots of great information and creative ideas for encouraging your children to read. Below, you will see (in more detail) what all we have available to you NOW. As the summer progresses, we will add more resources to Splish’s blog. You’ll want to check back often! In the coming weeks and months, we will be offering several freebies and downloads to enrich your family’s reading fun!
Summer is a fantastic time to promote reading to your child(ren). Take a break from your regular studies and just spend some time reading to and with them. We are looking forward to another fun summer and hope that you will encourage your children to participate. Please continue reading below to learn more about some of the awesome things we have planned for the summer. Then, go pick up a book and READ!

Set Reading Goals

We will be providing you with downloadable record-keeping sheets; these are available in two formats- for younger students and older students.

We encourage you to help your children set attainable reading goals this summer. Let your children take an active role in helping to set their own goals; they will be more eager to read if they are doing it for themselves! At the end of our 10-week program, you’ll have opportunity to share your child’s reading logs and he/she will automatically be entered in a drawing for free books!

Kick-Off Contest

This year, we have decided to kick things off with a fun coloring contest! We have two coloring pages – both featuring our mascot, Splish the frog – one for older kids and one for younger kids.

To enter the contest, click here. Download the appropriate coloring page(s) and print. Then, follow the rules for submitting your entries. (Be sure to read the entire page.)

The winning entries will be “popping up” throughout the summer on Splish’s blog. And, the best part … we’ve got a great prize package of summer reading material for the winners as well! So, get those crayons, markers, and colored pencils out and get to work!

All submissions due by June 16th.

We hope that you will encourage your children to participate in the SECOND ANNUAL SUMMER READING SPLASH, not only by reading books this summer, but by playing along in our weekly scavenger hunts. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Splish and the rest of your friends at The Old Schoolhouse(r) Magazine