Tag Archives: Texas

Texas Bucket List – A & B ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet

I have tackled another round of Blogging Through The Alphabet. This time around, I have decided to create a Texas Bucket List. Some of these are things that my family and I have done and loved. Other things are ones that sound interesting and fun to do. Either way, I think I’d love to be able to check all these off my list once again!

Texas Bucket List - A & B

Since I missed the first week, I am doing A and B together.

A – Abilene’s Storybook Sculpture Project

I lived in Abilene when I was attending undergrad and loved the town. Quiet and peaceful yet still full of things to do, I would have been content to stay in Abilene after graduation. Other roads were followed but I still enjoy stopping in Abilene when we travel to New Mexico. I recently read about something that Abilene has done that sounds really cool – Storybook Sculpture Project.

Throughout the downtown area, you will find sculptures of storybook characters. You can see all of them online and find out what book they are from. You can also learn the location of the sculpture and go see it. The Lorax, The Three Little Kittens, Charlotte & Wilbur, Duck on a Bike, and more have been created in sculpture.

We are going to have to stop sometime soon when going through Abilene. There is also a museum called the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. In addition to these, they host an annual event – the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival. What a neat thing to do!

B – Big Bend

Big Bend is a National Park and a State Park. There is quite a bit to Big Bend and I would love to visit there. The photos I see from Big Bend are gorgeous and really show off the beauty of that area. Big Bend is in the far south west corner of Texas. Big Bend has a wildlife and birding, dark skies at night, and bright sun during the day. Lots of hiking and biking trails are found in Big Bend. From mountains to deserts, the terrain can really change in that area and being on the border of Mexico, it has a culture that is quite different from the city culture I currently live in. There is quite a bit that appeals with visiting Big Bend.

Check out the Big Bend site for the National Parks.

Texas Highways also provides some good tips that I will take to heart when I have a chance to visit.

Where would you like to visit in Texas?

At Home.


This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully




Antique Rose Emporium, Independence, TX – field trip

The Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, TX, is a fantastic garden center to visit. There are tons of unique and interesting plants for sale but also the arrangement of the area is just beautiful.

waterfall and butterflies

We enjoyed walking around the butterfly garden and asking about the various plants that were drawing the butterflies this time of year. We saw some lovely blossoms and enjoyed many fragrances.

butterflies and blossoms

The shade gardens were beautiful and we enjoyed the various greens we saw.

The gravesite for the broken pottery is a fun little side plot that Miss E absolutely adored. She had been wanting to visit since she saw the pictures from this summer.

broken pot graveyard

The maze! What can I say? This was just fun. We chased each other around and around on the little brick paths and laughed and giggled and just enjoyed it. I would love one of these strange shade “trees”.

fun and mazes

The ladies who work here are more than happy to answer questions and to point out interesting plants. They enjoyed talking to the girls and even called them over to show them a plant that eats bugs. What a joy to meet people who truly love what they do.

The blossoms during our visit in October were definitely different than those that we saw back in June. What an interesting comparison to make. And what a fun place to visit.

At Home.

Independence, Texas – field trip

Independence, Texas, is a place all its own. It has a pretty good claim to fame here in Texas – Sam Houston lived here. But also, two universities got their starts here – Baylor University and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (originally the Baylor Women’s College). Independence was once an important educational and religious site.

Baylor University beginnings

There are several historic structures in the town and the cemetery is really quite interesting. There is a neat visitor’s center with very helpful, friendly staff. The walking/driving tour is well marked and interesting. At Home Dad and I visited this summer while the girls were at camp. It was so interesting for us that we went again not long ago and took the girls.

Baylor Hill

We visited the historic sites by driving. Even though it was October, it was a very hot day, so we drove. (And got some ice cream at the lone spot in town where you can buy anything!) We visited the Baylor sites and the rose garden. I’ll share that in another post just because we took so many pictures there.

historic buildings

During our summertime visit, At Home Dad and I also went out to the cemetery. Fascinating place!!! There are plenty of historic headstones, many of which have fallen into disrepair. While we were visiting, a man was working on restoring these important stones. Many are from founding families of the state, including Sam Houston’s family and some soldiers from various battles. It was a really neat cemetery to visit and talking with this historian made is even more interesting.

Independence, Texas, is a neat little place to visit. You can see it all easily in just an hour or two. We definitely recommend a visit here if you have the time.

At Home.

Texas State Fair – field trip

We had a wonderful time with family at the Texas State Fair last week when it opened. Since we were there on the first day, it was clean and neat and we really enjoyed it. It was also a bit rainy so it was a tad less crowded than it might otherwise have been.

We visited the greenhouse with the trains that wind through Texas sites. We saw the giant pumpkins.

giant pumpkins

The girls rode the beautiful carousel.


We visited Big Tex.

We saw all the arts and crafts, from lovely quilts to amazing cross-stitching to fun collections of antiques and uniques. We got to see the 500 pound butter sculpture and visited the marketplace where we admired all of the Texas products.butter sculpture

We ate corny dogs (a State Fair tradition) and visited the textiles building. The girls rode the super slide. We visited the Texas Discovery Gardens to see the butterflies.

Texas Discovery Gardens

And, of course, we all rode the Texas Star, the highest ferris wheel in the western hemisphere. All in all, a day of joy and fun.

Texas Star

At Home.

Hands-On History from Home School In The Woods ~ a Crew review


When learning something that is full of ideas and images, such as history, hands-on learning brings a concrete element to it. Home School in the Woods (HSITW) is a hands-on history company that brings some understanding to ideas, elements, and cultures that we cannot get without a tactile activity. We have had fun this summer with some relaxed learning about our home state of Texas through HSITW’s new product, Make-a-State Activity.

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a part of the Activity-Paks series. Other titles in the series include:

*The Old Testament
*The New Testament

HSITW is a company focused on bringing history to life through hands-on activities and informative readings. Each of the products in the HSITW lines are well-researched and well-written. The information is written at a level that upper elementary students and older are generally able to read and understand it on their own. However, with just a little bit of help, even younger elementary students are very capable of using and learning with all of the HSITW products that we have used over the years.
(Project Passport: Ancient Greece, Project Passport: Ancient Egypt, U.S. Elections)

Hands-On History Activity-Paks: Make-A-StateMake-A-State is a Activity-Pak that can be used to study any state in the U.S or Washington D.C. The activities all work together to create a lapbook that includes more than 20 mini projects. All together these projects will give an overview of the chosen state. Most of the topics are generic in theme, allowing it be created specifically for your state. These topics include things like the agriculture of the state, the industry, the climate and the government. Also included are projects about the wildlife, the state song, and sports teams. From the history of the name of the state to the native peoples that live there, many topics are similar from state to state. Creating a tourist brochure and a mini newspaper are a couple of the projects that take a tad bit longer but are well worth the increased efforts.

There are also some projects that are designed to be specific to your state. These include a recipe, the motto, and the state bird and flower. There is also a map to create for your chosen state that you can personalize or mark in a way that fits what you are emphasizing for your state. Not to be forgotten, each state also has a state quarter that is designed to well-represent the state and there is a project to show that off, too.

Lastly, there is a folder game included to help learn about all of the United States. There are three versions of the game included and a set of double sided cards to cut out. Depending on what you are wanting to focus on, you use a different game board but the cards stay the same. Here’s a video of me attempting to explain the variations and how I put them together in a single file folder.

How We Used  Make-A-State:

We chose to use this Activity-Pak as a family. Since we are planning some field trips after the weather cools down to some places related to the history of Texas, we decided to use this as a fun summer projects. And it was well enjoyed. There were several days when the first thing that the girls wanted to do was to work on a mini book or two from Make-A-State (even before breakfast).

We divided up the projects and each of the girls chose something that she was interested in to work on. We used the included information sheet about Texas to get some of the information from (such as for the timeline). We also used the internet to do some research, mostly accessing a known Texas history and information site. For many of the images we needed, we used a Google search for black line coloring pages and printed them at a reduced size of about 30%.

Over the course of several days, working an hour or two a day, we completed the project. We finished it by placing each of the mini books onto blank paper and putting it into a three-prong folder. This way it can sit on our bookshelf easily and as we add to out states collection, they will all be similar. Here is a quick video showing you how it looks put into the folder.

A Couple of Notes:

We have not found a good double sided tape to use for these projects. We have also found that glue sticks don’t work for most of them. White glue really would not work due to the required drying time. So, our solution is to use tape. If you know my girls, you know that we have a deep love of tape. 🙂 Tape works really well and can hold up to the strain that some of the folds put on the projects.

We have become pretty familiar with Home School in the Woods and the ways in which their projects work. There is a bit of a learning curve with this company but it is well worth taking the time to beat that learning curve. Each project in a pack is put together a bit differently to create variety. This means that each project needs a little bit of thinking to put it together right. There are detailed instructions included but, honestly, it still takes some thinking to put some of them together. There are always images included of the completed project and those are terribly helpful.

Printing can also be tricky. You do have to know your own printer. Due to the differences in printer, each page of a project is presented to you separately with printing instructions (print 1-b on the back of 1-a, or something like that). You do need to read through those and print them as instructed to make the projects easier to put together. If you are like me, each time, I have to experiment a bit to remember which way to take the first page out and put it back in the printing drawer to get it printed in the right direction on the back. But, again, it is well worth taking the time and effort (and sometimes paper) to figure it out. My youngest still remembers working on Project Passport: Ancient Egypt from, what, 3 years ago?

A-La-Carte Options:

Home School in the Woods has recently introduced an a-la-carte option for some of their projects. This is a way for you to grab and use one or two of the projects, without having to commit to a longer study of the topic. Perhaps you are reading on a subject and your student shows an interest, you could head over to HSITW and see if there is a single hands-on project to do related to that topic. Or it could be a jumping off point. For example, here is a post about the mini unit study we did last week on the Erie Canal based off of the a-la-carte projects HSITW is offering (free at the time of this writing).



This is a company that we enjoy a lot. Their products are well-researched, well-put-together, and lots of fun. Add to that the retention of information, and this hands-on history company is one worth looking into for your history needs.

At Home.

There were 100 families using products from Home School in the Woods. Click the banner below to read about what they thought from the product lines that were reviewed:

Time Traveler American
*New World Explorers
*Colonial Life
*The American Revolution
*The Early 19th Century
*The Civil War
*Industrial Revolution through Great Depression
*World War II

*U.S. Elections
*20th Century in America
*Wonders of the World
*Benjamin Franklin

*The Old Testament
*The New Testament

Timeline Trio


Hands-on History {Home School in the Woods Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Visiting Texas Rangers – Blogging Through The Alphabet

V Visiting the Texas Rangers

I really like to visit museums. I really enjoy it. If I could visit museums and historical sites every single day, I’d be thrilled. So, when my mom was visiting and mentioned that she wanted to visit the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, I was excited.

V Texas Ranger Museum

We headed over to the museum and enjoyed reading the historical markers that are out front. We would have appreciated less heat but the markers were interesting.

V Visiting the Ranger Museum

Then we went inside. The girls really surprised me, which was a nice thing! They were given scavenger hunts at the desk and they were excited to find the answers. They hunted down every answer, reading an awful lot of information in order to find the answers. I loved that they did it with energy and enthusiasm.

V Ranger scavenger hunt

We also watched a fairly lengthy documentary on the history of the Texas Rangers and how they have been viewed throughout their history. From the wild west through wars, government and society changes, their place in law enforcement has changed and evolved with the world around them.

We learned about cattle rustlers, Bonnie and Clyde, wire cutters, and border skirmishes. We learned about the Rangers’ places in Texas history and how they helped, and sometimes hindered, progress. It was interesting.

V Ranger artifacts

One of the biggest surprises for me – how much the girls enjoyed looking at all the weaponry and reading about it. Weapons are a big part of the museum displays and that was really interesting. There are even a couple of pistols that you can lift to feel just how heavy they are (almost 5 lbs!). Another big part were displays related to different Rangers of specific importance. One of the girls commented on how interesting those displays were.

This was a fun learning experience that taught me to look forward to these expeditions because I never know when I will be surprised. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum is definitely a place worth visiting if you have the chance.

At Home.

Please visit A Net In Time and Hopkins Homeschool and link up your ABC posts.

Also linking up with the Homeschool Review Crew Round-up.

Field Trip Inspiration {Round UP}

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