Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art: a Few Tips

In July, I had the privilege of accompanying my son Nickolaus on a trip to NYC which included a stop at the highly acclaimed, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today I’m sharing some of the tips that I learned while I was there at The Homeschool Classroom. If  you’re planning a trip now or in the future, you won’t want to miss my post, A Couple Tips for Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

Before you go, here are a few pictures from our day.

                                                    Greek and Roman Art


           19th- and Early 20th- Century European Paintings and Sculptures 

                                                                   Van Gogh      


                                                                Egyptian Art


                                                              Arms and Armor


                                                    The American Wing

Have you been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art? What was your favorite gallery? If you haven’t been there, what gallery do you think you’d enjoy the most?

Monday, August 22, 2011

OMSI: A Hands-On Adventure

If you visit us in Portland, chances are we’ll take you to OMSI | Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  This place never gets old with rotating exhibits, several science labs, OMNIMax, Planetarium, USS Blueback Submarine and the very fun Turbine Science Hall. 

When going to OMSI it is best to plan 1-2 hours for the Turbine Hall, at least 1 hour for the theater, 1/2 hour for the submarine and 1/2 hour for the main exhibits.  You can also plan another 1/2 hour to 1 hour for the upper Life and Earth Science exhibits and labs.

If you are visiting during the summer, please be aware that many of the labs will be closed due to the summer camps.  However, most of the camps end between 2pm and 3pm and OMSI closes at 7:00, so you could go later in the day and still have time to enjoy the museum.

My children’s favorite place is the Turbine Hall.  Here is where hands-on fun happens.  Whether they are creating air rocket races, designing wind towers or creating a water system, they will learn about robotics, engineering, space and aerodynamics while having fun!  The Chemistry and Physics labs are located in the Turbine Hall also.  The Chemistry lab is especially fun for homeschoolers who may not want to have chemical experiments happening in their homes!

The upper level of the Museum holds the Life Sciences exhibits and labs. There is a display of human development in the womb from conception to week 32.  It is graphic.  These are actual fetuses donated after natural cause or accidental deaths.  The kids find it “gross” but fascinating at the same time. 

WARNING:  Before this display is an anatomically correct display of the human reproductive systems.  The other side of this display is the stages of labor.  I personally have no problems with my children being exposed to this side of our humanity, but I know some very conservative families may want to avoid this portion of life sciences all together.

For those who want to spend the extra money, the OMNIMAX theater is fun.  The only tip I can give you is to sit in the middle toward the upper level. If you get sea sickness…you may want to take Dramamine first.

The Kendall Planetarium is awesome if you like to learn about the stars.  Our favorite has been about the birth of stars.  In the evening they hold a Laser Light Show synchronized to Classic Rock.  I heard it’s pretty cool.

Our family has not personally toured the submarine yet, so I cannot comment on that part of the museum.

When you are done inside the museum you can head outside and walk along the waterfront.


About OMSI

OMSI is located south of downtown Portland along the east bank of the Willamette River; nestled near the Hawthorne Bridge in the heart of East side's industrial building district. The exact address is 1945 SE Water Ave., Portland, OR 97214-3354 or if you want to be really precise, 45° 30' 36" north latitude, 122° 39' 54" west longitude.

How much does it cost to visit OMSI?

Ticket prices are $12 adults, $9 Youth (3-13), $9 Senior (63+), FREE for members.  Our family would cost $51 for a single trip.  This does not include the cost of parking or any additional exhibit fees.

The additional fees currently are:

  • Parking – $3, Free for Members
  • Narnia Exhibit Fee – $2 per person, FREE for members.  Note:  If you use a ASTC pass from another science museum, you will still have to pay the $2.  The exhibit is free ONLY for OMSI members.
  • Kendall Planetarium – $5.75 for general admission, members receive $1 off
  • Omnimax Dome Theater – $5.75 (matinee), members receive $1 off.  Evening movies are $7.50, no discounts.
  • USS Blueback Submarine Tour – $5.75 admission
  • Motion Simulator  - $5.00, members receive $1 off

They do offer some discounted packages:

  • Adventure Combo Pack: $16 adults, $13 Youth and Senior.  This package includes museum admission and one OMNIMAX Move OR Kendall Planetarium Show.
  • Museum Combo Pack:  $21 adults, $17 Youth and Senior.  This package includes museum admission, one OMNIMAX movie, and your choice of planetarium show or submarine tour.

Another option for a low-cost OMSI visit is to watch for $2 Sundays.  These are held on the first Sunday of the month.  The next date is August 7, 2011.  I believe this is available for everyone, not just local citizens.

What are the benefits of Membership and what does it cost?

We have been members of OMSI for 3 years now.  There are several reasons we chose membership.  The number one reason was the cost of membership vs. the cost of paying for every visit.

  • Membership starts at $75 up to $500 per year.  We opted for the FRIENDS level which costs $140 per year.  This gives us 2 named adults, 8 children (so we can take the kid’s friends) AND 2 guests per visit.  Includes 8 FREE Omnimax or Submarine Tickets and UNLIMITED FREE Planetarium matinees.  I have used this at least 3 times this year and been able to take friends for free.  We love the planetarium matinees.  And it’s nice to be able to visit at least one OMNIMAX show a year.
  • OMSI participates in the ASTC Travel Passport Program.  This gives us access to over 290 museums around the country!  We cannot use it for the Evergreen Museum in McMinnville, but can use it for AC Gilbert House in Salem.  (They have a special agreement).
  • Savings on science camps and classes.  I personally used this when I attended a CPR class at OMSI.
  • 10% discount in the OMSI store and cafes.
  • They offer a discount club which features some local businesses.

To see the current costs of membership, visit OMSI’s website.

What about food?

They do have a cafeteria.  It has a variety of food options. However, it’s like every public attraction cafe, not cheap.

The alternative is to bring your own lunches. You can store them in lockers, or your car, and then eat lunch in the Turbine Hall Lunch room.  You cannot take your lunch into the cafeteria. 

You will WANT to bring your own water.  The bottle water is $2.25 for a 20 oz. bottle.

OMSI is a big recycler, so be sure you recycle whatever you can. There are signs above the bins to help you.

When is OMSI open?

OMSI is open year round with seasonal hours.  During the summer (6/18 to Labor day) the hours are 9:30 am to 7:00 pm.

Don’t want to drive your car there?  Take Trimet!

Taunya is a homeschooling mother of three who enjoys traveling, scrapbooking, taking pictures of random beauty. Located in gorgeous Northwest Oregon, she enjoys the wonder and beauty of God's creation everyday! She blogs at Taunya’s Place.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Spend the day driving along the beautiful Highway 101 along the coast of Oregon – and you will see many signs urging you to visit the many lighthouses from yesteryear along your route. One, in particular, stands out to our family – with a name that indicates that this is not your usual drive to a tall pillar with a flashlight on top . . . . The Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.

After purchasing your $7.00 pass, or using one of your travel passes, you’ll find yourself driving along the cliff that loops out to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. You’ll want a copy of the map given by the booth attendant to be able to know what is instore. This is no casual drive by. I suggest an all day outing, especially if you are camping at South Beach Campground or Beverly Beach State Park.

Whales, Birds, Sea life, Intertidal Pools, Trails, Interpretive Centers, and a tour of the lighthouse await! We have spent an entire afternoon at the Quarry Cove inspecting the tide pools, watching seals play, and following the birds along the trails and cliffs. Cobble Beach is another area to hike down to the water and play on a rocky shoreline – beachcombing treasures await!

There is a large interpretive center for learning – we have toured this facility but have not had time yet to fully enjoy it! As you travel along the road, the lighthouse comes into view. Stepping out of your car in the spring and summer, and you’ll be greeted with a curious sound. Birds. Literally tons of birds. 70-80 Thousand Common Murres nest at Colony Rock west of the Lighthouse in the Pacific Ocean. Joined by nesting Cormorants, Gulls, Brandts, pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, western gulls, and glaucous-winged gulls – it is quite a show. Add to that the Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons who like the all you can eat sea bird buffet – and you have quite the treat!

Speaking of treats – When your feet are aching, your camera card is full, and your skin is windblown – stop in at Izzy’s All you can eat buffet at the entrance to the area. We have enjoyed the quality of their steak house, pizza and salad bar. The bonus is that it sits atop the cliff overlooking Newport, Oregon all the way to South Beach.

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area                                                                      750 NW Lighthouse Dr
Newport, Oregon 97365
Phone: 541-574-3100

Hours of Operation
Park Grounds:
The park grounds are open every day of the year. The entrance gate opens at sunrise or 6:00 AM, whichever is later, and closes at sunset. Winter hours start November 1.
Interpretive Center:
Summer Hours 9:00 to 5:00
Fall Hours 10:00 to 5:00
Winter hours 10:00 to 4:30
Summer Hours 11:00 to 4:00
Fall Hours 10:00 to 4:00
Winter Hours 12:00 to 4:00
$7.00 BLM Fee per Vehicle for up to 9 passengers– Pass information.

Click here for driving directions to and from the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.

Angie Wright spends her days exploring the Central Oregon Coast. You may find her reading in her canoe in the morning, hiking the cool of the mountains in the afternoon or walking along the beach at sunset. An avid birder, reader and mother of two outgoing middle school boys - our her life is full of adventure! You can read all about her many adventures at Petra School

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Homeschool Days at the Creation Museum


After planning to visit for years, my family finally stopped at the Creation Museum for the first time this past December and we LOVED it! I was excited to see that the museum will once again be offering Homeschool Days during the months of September and October and now that we’ve moved back to nearby Ohio, I’m hoping my family can visit again!

From Sept. 1 - Oct. 27, the Creation Museum will offer special prices for Homeschool families. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, admission will be only $12 for adults (13 and up) and $8 for children (5-12).  The Stargazer's Planetarium is also specially priced at $5.

Plus, when you visit Noah’s Cafe or the Dragon Hall Bookstore, you will receive a 5% discount on all purchases when you present your admission ticket at the time of purchase.

If you’d like to take advantage of this special Homeschool offer, you will need to print and present this PDF coupon at the Creation Museum on the day of your visit. 

If you have any questions about the Fall Homeschool Days, you can contact Eddie Lutz at 859-240-6642 or email

The Creation Museum                                                                                                                      2800 Bullittsburg Church Rd.
Petersburg, KY 41080

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Visit Me at The Homeschool Village for Frugal Field Trip Ideas

Last month I shared ideas on how to turn a stroll through the cemetery into a full-blown field trip. This month it’s all about visiting a Farmer’s Markets. What are some of the ways you turn your shopping experience into a learning experience? Join me at The Homeschool Village as I share some ideas of my own.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Few Thoughts….

Did you see the guest post from Barb who blogs at The Handbook of Nature Study on Monday? She wrote a beautiful post about a trip she took to Oregon. If you aren’t familiar with Barb or her blog, I hope that you’ll hop over and take a look around. Her blog is an incredible resource for homeschooling or nature loving families and has been among my favorites for years.

I’m excited to announce two other guest bloggers that I adore coming up as well, Angie from Petra School and Taunya from Taunya’s Place.  I’m grateful to all three of these ladies for sharing some of their adventures and hope that you will consider submitting a guest post. I’ve tried to make it easy on you by creating this easy-peasy-handy-dandy form.   

I’m especially grateful for those guest post submissions because right now I’m struggling a bit to fit blogging into my regular routine since our crazy month of July.  I promise I didn’t make up a word of that story!

Well, as crazy and unsettled as July proved to be, August has proven to be every bit as hectic. I’ve been transporting my son to football practice over an hour away six days a week, trying to find a home to rent that meets my entire families ideal of perfection and fits in our budget, wrapping up the final details on a much needed family vacation, AND planning the 2011-2012 school year for my children all without internet. Until last month I’d never fully imagined how dependent I have become to the access of information at my fingertips. 

I hope you’ll stick with me and aren’t terribly disappointed by my lack of posting. I have a list of posts that I intend to write but in the meantime I need to take some time to regroup before diving back in. Don’t worry, I’ll be back, things may just be a bit quiet on my end for a little while. :)  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor - Oregon Coast

The Southern Oregon Coast offers some of the most diverse landscapes you could ever want to experience. Towering Sitka spruce, Coast redwoods, osprey, sea lions, otters, wildflowers, and whale-watching are just a few of the delights you could experience with very little effort spending time in this part of the world. Traveling the Southern Oregon Coast from the border of California to Gold Beach, you realize Oregon is a feast for the eyes and the soul. One way to explore this rugged coast is to take advantage of the many trails and viewpoints on the Samuel Boardman State Scenic Corridor, along a twelve mile section of Hwy 101 starting from Brookings, Oregon. You can download a brochure and detailed map from the Oregon State Parks and Recreation website. 

The Samuel Boardman Corridor hugs the coast, alternating with forests and coastline. There are a number of pull-off spots and parking areas clearly marked to stop and enjoy the sweeping vistas or to gain access to the Oregon Coast Trail. If you plan to make the most of this scenic drive, plan on spending the better part of a day exploring a few of the trails, beaches, and picnic areas.

Some of our favorite stops along the Samuel Boardman Corridor

  • Whaleshead Beach – Perfect stop to get your feet in the sand and have a picnic or snack.
  • Indian Sands-Very steep walk out to the dunes but a glorious view of the coast. This takes a little more effort and time but is well worth the stop. My teenage boys vote this the best hike on the S.B. Corridor.
  • Thomas Creek Bridge – Stop and walk over the tallest bridge in Oregon with a fantastic view.
  • China Beach-Want a beach all to yourself? Hike the short, steep trail and enjoy the wide sandy beach and off-shore rocks. We found this to be the perfect spot for watching osprey hunt in the surf.
  • Natural Bridge and Thunder Cove Rock- Short, easy hike to see the rock formations through a lovely forest with lots of summer wildflowers.
  • Arch Rock – Easy stop and a great place for a picnic. (Pick up picnic supplies in Brookings-Fred Meyer supermarket right on Hwy 101 has everything you need at a reasonable price.)

If you are traveling the Southern Coast of Oregon and come in through the California border, take time to stop at the Crissey Field State Park/Oregon Welcome Center. (No fee- 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM)  It is right off Hwy 101 and will give you a chance to collect information, brochures, maps, and a feel for all that Oregon has to offer. There is also beach access, hiking trails, and a small nature center and store. We found the Rangers there to be extremely helpful in planning a few days exploring this magnificent area of the world. You can also get information for near-by Redwoods National Park.

If you are looking for places to stay while on your trip, you can choose to stay in Brookings or Gold Beach, Oregon. We prefer to camp and Harris Beach State Park is our favorite spot on the whole Oregon Coast. If you are looking for lodging in Brookings, we like the Wild Rivers Motor Lodge.  In Gold Beach, try the Gold Beach Inn.

Barb McCoy- Harmony Art Mom writes about their family’s outdoor adventures on her blog, Handbook of Nature Study. She also is the author and host for the Outdoor Hour Challenge and a series of ebooks helping families get started with simple nature study. Her home base is Northern California but she also writes about their continuing adventures in Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona. Barb also founded Harmony Fine Arts which helps homeschoolers with their art and music appreciation.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Homeschool Days at WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, TN!

WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee  is pleased to announce Homeschool Week for 2011! September 11th - 18th a homeschool teacher and guest will receive complimentary admission. Four additional guests are welcome for a charge of $10 plus tax.  The discount is limited to one per family, and you must present proof that you homeschool which could include any ONE of the following:

  • a letter from your umbrella school
  • a letter from your local board of education
  • your HLDA card
  • a card with the local association that you are affiliated with

If you do not present this information upon arriving you will not receive the homeschool rate and instead will pay regular general admission minus a $2.50 discount.

If you plan to attend during Homeschool Week, you do not need to make advance reservations.

Homeschool families do receive a discount year round with advance reservations by contacting the Education Director, .  Regular homeschool rates are $19.03 for adults and $11.17 for children.

The teacher will be required to fill out a registration slip upon arrival listing a valid email and cell phone number.

WonderWorks & The Wonder of Magic

100 Music Way

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee  37863


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Planning Your Year for Success at On the Company Porch

I have to be honest. The past year I was not diligent in planning our school year and it was a flop. Not completely, my kids still managed to complete some tasks and learned quite a bit; but since I’d not taken the time to write down what I wanted to see accomplished, my ideas kept changing. It’s hard to complete a task if my idea of what should be completed keeps changing.

Since I didn’t take the time to update our schedule of what needed to be completed each day, it never really became habit and we aimlessly wandered through the day with the kids saying “What next?” I could give you a hundred and one excuses as to why I didn’t do the work that was required of me, but I dislike excuses so I’ll just fess up and admit I blew it. Even for the relaxed mama I am. Or like to think I am. Our school year was a pretty poor representation of what a homeschool should or could look like.

Won’t you join me at On the Company Porch on the Homeschool Blogger to read the rest of the post?  

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