Category Archives: field trips

Rocks, Gems and Minerals Show – Middle School Monday field trip

Rock Gem and Mineral show field trip

Every year we look forward with excitement to the rock and gem show. It comes to town sometime in the spring and we always go spent time wandering through the exhibits/vendors.

What we love about this is that we can touch all sorts of minerals, rocks, gems, fossils, and fossilized wood that we don’t have access to otherwise. We take advantage of the show coming to town as an educational opportunity. And we are seldom disappointed!

fossils touch table and more

We always find vendors who love to talk to children. They enjoy spending time educating the girls on the various items they have displayed. They will tell them where items come from, the qualities of the objects, what they are and how they were created (in the case of fossils and such). This year, one of the vendor was a science teacher. Talk about a man in his element! He had such fun talking with the girls. His excitement was contagious and the girls enjoyed it, too. We probably spent 20-30 minutes with this manwheel to spin, walking all around his display, seeing items under the black light, learning how to identify minerals, and getting lessons in geography.

Another of the girls favorites is the wheel of fortune – you pay a quarter and get whatever is sitting on the number the wheel lands on. Sometimes it is just a few rocks. Sometimes it is a large, lovely shell. Sometimes it is a gorgeous gem or mineral. The man who runs this always tells the girls about what it is they have won if he knows. He enjoys it as much as they do.

Between studying all the rocks, gems, and minerals, not to mention the fossils, and the jewelry and trying to figure out how some of it is made, we spend several hours at the show. Our town is known for its mammoth site (recently it has become part of the National Park Service) and there is always a booth there. They often have worksheets or activity sheets for the kids to pick up.

cracking geode

This year, there was a man there advertising the fossil pit up in Mineral Wells. He and Miss J got to talking and boy, did they discuss things for a long time. From the fossils he was displaying to her favorite type of fossil (shells), they had a good ‘ol time and Miss J walked away with several new additions for her collection. We also have found another field trip we would like to make.

If you have a chance, a rock and gem or mineral show is a wonderful learning opportunity. We have found that vendors enjoy talking to children and educating them when possible. They love the curiosity and the kids love to learn. So, take the chance if you get on. You might just come home with a treasure haul like ours.

At Home.Rock and Gem Show

WASP WWII Museum – Middle School Monday

WASP field trip

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were a group of women who did great service for the United States and its Allies during WWII. After the men had left for war, there was a great hole left and these women trained to fill that hole. Over the course of the years, over 1800 were accepted into the training program and about 1100 graduated, going on to serve on various bases around the US.

The WASPs ferried aircraft around the country, served a tow-target gunnery pilots, some as test pilots, and in various other capacities. They flew military planes though they were only recognized as civilian pilots. Over all, they flew over 60 million miles in 78 types of aircraft. These aircraft went from the smallest trainers to the fastest fighters and the heaviest bombers of the time. 38 WASPs gave their lives during this time.

In 1977, the women pilots were finally recognizes as WWII veterans. In 2010, their contribution to the war was recognized with a Congressional God Medal.

Sweetwater, TX, and Avenger Field is home to the WASP WWII Museum. In a 1929 hanger set on a hill, there is a small collection of interesting displays highlighting and honoring these women and all that they did for the war. The museum admission is free but they won’t say no to your donation. We also purchased a book titled “We Were WASPS” by Winifred Wood with drawings by Dorothy Swain, both WASPs.

We found the example of the barracks very interesting – one of the girls kept commenting on the cots they slept on. We saw examples of the types of transmitters and other communication boxes. We viewed a memorial to the women who lost their lives during the WASP program. We read about Jacqueline Cochran, who began the WASP program (interesting story and background!). We were able to view a film about the program with footage from Avenger Field. The girls sat in one of the trainers, or simulators, that were used and there were handprints from some of the WASPS along with their biographies. We were able to see pictures of many, if not all, of the graduating classes and textbooks that they used.

It did not take more than an hour to dawdle our way through the museum but we did enjoy it quite a bit. I had been wanting to stop since we pass it every time we make a trek to New Mexico. I am glad we were able to make the stop this time and enjoy this bit of history.

At Home.

Degas – Middle School Monday

Middle Schoolers benefit greatly, as do all students, from putting real life together with book learning. When this happens with art, it is a surprising and fun experience.

After Christmas, we were able to take a trip to Houston to see a wonderful exhibit – Degas! Approximately 200 of Degas’ works were on display at The Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibit was titled Degas: A New Vision and included examples of all of the media he worked with throughout his career. The following video is their promotional video for the exhibit.

(warning: this video does have one image from Degas’ bathers series)

Degas: A New Vision from Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Vimeo.

Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834–1917) had a long a varied career. His work spanned the mid-1800s into the early 1900s. He is often known for his ballet dancers (which we definitely some of my favorites that we saw). However, he focused on many other themes throughout his career – horses, jockeys, portraits, bathers, milliners, and more. From drawing to sculpture to photography (I had no idea!), the depth of Degas’ work was extraordinary to view.

Degas also had a strong influence on other artists. From the way he used various media to working with new ways of printing, Degas was a leader.

It was really quite interesting to see all of the sketches and early work Degas did on some of these works of art. There were some where a number of sketches to work out the plan for the piece we displayed next to the final work. Also, there were many works that Degas did multiple variations of and seeing those next to each other with the changes that were made was interesting. It was almost as if we were looking at a Find The Differences game page.

We were allowed to take a few photographs and so I did take just a few for the purpose of sharing some of the amazement we felt walking among these works of art.

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This was a unique and unparalleled experience. We were very blessed to be able to take the girls to see these marvelous works of art. This was a joy and we hope to be able to find other wonderful art exhibits to take the girls to see over the years.

At Home.

Tomorrow, I will share a couple of books about Degas that were very good. So tune in for the D post in Blogging Through The Alphabet.

River of Lights


We were treated to a visit to Albuquerque’s River of Lights this year. It was absolutely breath-taking in so many ways. The sheer number of lights was amazing but the delicate lines and shapes they were able to create with the lights was unbelievable.

Millions of lights lit up the night and smiles were seen on every face. With family surrounding us, we explored and enjoyed. From life-sized dinos to delicate butterflies that flew out of flowers, it was a night filled with wonder. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the lights were so very special.

My phone camera is not very good so these pictures do not do justice to the beauty of the light filled night. Just the same, here are just a few of the many, many wonderful scenes we were able to view.

What a wonderful night it was for all of us.

At Home.

Special Times for One



When your two older sisters are away at camp, for the third time this summer, and you are bored, what do you get? Special times!

Monday was our first day to do something. And since we had car business to deal with first, it was mid-afternoon before we got to do anything. But, she chose it and it was the zoo! While it was hot, it was still lots of fun (and boy did we really enjoy the aquarium buildings with their air-conditioning!).

Checking out the gibbons, the birds, the fish, the tortoises, the bats, the porcupines, the alligators, and oh, so much more! Sure, we sweated and walked and walked and sweated but it was full of exclamations of joy and lots of fun. Here are a couple of pics from the day.




At Home.


Stumbling Upon History

Not long ago, we were driving through Grapevine, TX. With no particular plans in mind, we ended up taking a detour that was fantastic! As we approached a stop light, we saw a sign that said Nash Farm and had an arrow. We decided to follow it and see what happened.

This is what we saw!

Nash Farm house

After checking out the posted public use policy, we ventured onto the grounds and explored a little bit. We took some time to read the posted signs about the Nash Family.Nash Family information

After looking at the outside of the home and the chickens, we entered a small building with two people inside. They invited the girls to enter and we found out that they were guides for the farm. The lady was about to leave but took the time to talk with Miss E about spinning wool and the loom that she had. She even let her try her hand out with a bit of weaving.

The gentleman took us on a tour of the farm. He showed us the animals and talking about their uses on the farm. He explained the cribs – corn crib and tool crib – and their uses. He explained about how they got from ears of corn to corn meal and let the girls use the tools a bit. He showed us what wooden tools likely looked like and how you would train oxen.

Nash - corn and tool cribs

He then gave us a guided tour of the house. It was magnificent. If you are in the Grapevine area, I definitely recommend the Nash Farm. It was interesting and we learned so much!

At Home.

Crazy Days

I am writing this little post to just encourage you the next time you have a series of crazy days.

This week, we decided to make it Spring Break. At Home Dad has vacation this week and we had a couple of projects around the house we wanted to get done. So, we took time off from school. Sort of.

Now, that is kind of said with a bit of sarcasm since we live a life of learning. And this week, the girls have been learning about cleaning and prepping a room for painting, how to do the painting, and how long it actually takes to paint. (Can I just say I still get annoyed at Trading Spaces whenever I think about painting? They always said it only took $40 worth of paint and a few hours to completely change the look of a room. I have NEVER been able to paint a room in a few hours, let alone only spend $40 to do it!)

We had the awesome privilege of having Mr. Mike show us how they get paint tinted. He showed the girls the machine that matches color and then how the computer system works to get the dye correctly into the can. He opened up the machine to show them the dye and then talked them through the whole process. It was a fun learning experience for the girls. (See? We find field trips everywhere!)

paint field trip

With our state being a part of Super Tuesday, they also went with us to vote. That was an interesting process and even though we have been discussing the elections for a while (remember our Home School In The Woods review on elections?), there was still a continuing discussion about why we vote. The girls got to see most of the process – they wouldn’t let them go with us to the actual voting booth. They did an amazing job, especially considering we had a wait. It helped emphasize the importance of voting, though.

Between trying to keep up with a couple of reviews we are working on (Rainforest Journey, Memoria Press literature, Times Tales, and Writers In Residence), painting, regular stuff like dance classes and church – it has been a bit crazy around here.

Welcome to life! Right? How is your crazy life going?

At Home.

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