Roadschooling Savannah, Georgia

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Those who follow our adventures in homeschooling know that we utilize travel as part of our education plan.  I often refer to our adventures as roadschooling or world schooling depending on where we went and what we did.  Roadschooling is simply the act of learning on the road. Learning occurs in more than just the four walls of a school or a house. Some of our previous world schooling adventures can be seen here and our last roadschooling adventure can be read here.  This time our adventures were to the Savannah, Georgia area due to the family moving there just this past April.

Here is what we did with our extended family in the Savannah, Georgia area:

  • Telfair Museums (Jepson Center for the Arts, Telfair Academy, and the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters–for those going, Owens-Thomas House cannot accommodate large groups unscheduled and you will need to call ahead to make arrangements)
  • Colonial Park Cemetery (many historic graves are marked and historical markers throughout)
  • Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (worth listening to the architecture tour)
  • Lafayette Square
  • Telfair Square
  • Wright Square
  • Oglethorpe Square
  • Savannah River Street
    Ways Station Train Stop
  • J.F. Gregory Park
  • Fort Pulaski National Monument (can earn a junior ranger badge, we happened to be there during their Veteran’s Day special events)
  • Tybee Island Beach
  • Cay Creek Wetlands Interpretive Center
  • Tivoli River Kayak launch
  • Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church

I considered this trip to Georgia more of a roadschooling trip than a world schooling trip due to the shortness of the trip and the fact that we have family living there now.  I also have to give thanks to my BIL for being a great tour guide and a great planner. We both came up with lists of things to see and do and divided them up nicely across the days.  It was a great mix of history and outdoor adventures. In addition, we had the grandparents visiting from WI at the same as we were there so we could do an early Thanksgiving. The cousins had a blast together.  There is way more to explore with them, so, we will be back!

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Photography for High School Credit, Homeschool Style

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Our son is partaking in a semester-long introduction photography class for teens at the Houston Center for Photography.  To build upon these lessons and increase understanding of the art of photography we have supplemented the class to make it worth high school credit.

Here are the resources we used to go above and beyond the in-person class:

Videos:

  • Fundamentals of Photography (Great Courses) – 24 college level lectures
  • Masters of Photography (Great Courses) – 24 college level lectures

Books:

  • Photography by Annie Buckley
  • Introduction to Photography: A Visual Guide to the Essential Skills of Photography by Mark Galer
  • Make it Work: Photography by Andrew Haslam & Kathryn Senior
  • Click Click Click! Photography for Children by George Sullivan
  • Digital Camera School: The Step-by-Step Guide to Taking Great Pictures by Ben Hawkins

Museums Visited:

  • Houston Center for Photography
  • The Museum of Fine Arts Houston
  • Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
  • Lawndale Art Center
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science
  • Moody Center for the Arts
  • Station Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Diverse Works

Covering High School Health Homeschool Style

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Most high schools have a health course requirement for graduation.  Thus, we created our own Health class.  I also have a separate Human Anatomy class planned for high school credit too.  I must add that there are several book titles geared specifically to boys that we have read and discussed.  These authors have similar book titles geared specifically to girls.  We felt it was imperative to cover all possible topics within health.  The following is our Health course class description and documentation.

Books Used:

  • Simply Science: Body & Health by Gerry Bailey & Steve Way
  • What’s In There? All About Before You Were Born by Robie H. Harris
  • What’s the Big Secret? Talking About Sex with Girls and Boys by Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown
  • On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow! by Lynda Madaras
  • Changing You: A Guide to Body Changes and Sexuality by Dr Gail Saltz
  • Asking About Sex & Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  • What’s Happening to My Body Book for Boys by Lynda Madaras & Area Madaras
  • It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris & Michael Emberley
  • American Medical Association Boys Guide to Becoming a Teen: Getting Used to Life in Your Changing Body by Amy B. Middleman & Kate Gruenwald Pfeifer
  • Horrible Science: Disgusting Digestion by Nick Arnold
  • Horrible Science: Deadly Diseases by Nick Arnold
  • Horrible Science: Bulging Brains by Nick Arnold
  • Know Your Blood Type by Eldon Home Kit HKA 2511 (book & lab experiment kit)
  • Nutrients for Life by Nutrients for Life Foundation
  • Horrible Science: The Body Owner’s Handbook by Nick Arnold & Tony De Saulles
  • Horrible Science: Blood, Bones, and Body Bits by Nick Arnold
  • What Would You Do? Moral Dilemmas by Michael Baker

 

Videos Used:

  • Brain Games by National Geographic
  • How Microbes Rule the World by STEM: Teach Outside the Book & Cerebellum
  • Vaccines: Calling the Shots by NOVA
  • Blood Detectives by Joseph Lovett
  • Nutrition Detectives by David & Catherine Katz
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy: Heart by Disney
  • Greatest Discoveries with Bill Nye: Medicine by Discovery School
  • Bill Nye the Science Guy: Respiration by Disney
  • Gun Safety: Guns Are Not Toys by Good Bodies
  • The Dangers of Smoking by Schlessinger Media

 

Museums Visited:

  • John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science
  • Houston Museum of Natural Science

Intro to Engineering homeschool style

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Intro to Engineering with Lab is the name of one of our homeschool high school classes.  Our son has always been interested in electronics and engineering so this kind of class should be no surprise.  The following is our course description and documentation.  Ironically, it does not list everything we’ve used and covered nor every place we have toured!

Books Used:

  • The Way Things Work by David Macaulay
  • How It Works: Gadgets by Steve Parker
  • Marshall Brain’s More How Stuff Works by Marshall Brain
  • The Lego Technic Idea Book: Fantastic Contraptions by Yoshihito Isogawa
  • 101 Questions & Answers How Things Work by Reed International Books
  • The Lego Technic Idea Book: Simple Machines by Yoshihito Isogawa
  • The Way Things Work by Simon & Schuster
  • The Big Book of Hacks: 264 Amazing DIY Tech Projects by Popular Science
  • Structures: Discover Science Through Facts and Fun by Gerry Bailey & Steve Way
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamaba & Bryan Mealer
  • Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of History by Eric Chaline

 

Videos Used (DVD sets or video courses):

  • How It’s Made: Auto by  Science Channel
  • Making Stuff 2: Wilder, Colder, Safer, and Faster by NOVA & PBS
  • How It’s Made by Science Channel
  • Everyday Engineering: Understanding the Marvels of Daily Life by The Great Courses
  • Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World by The Great Courses
  • How We Got To Now: The History and Power of Great Ideas by PBS
  • Ultimate Factories by National Geographic
  • The Impossible Flight: Solar Impulse by NOVA
  • Super Structures by Madacy Home Videos

 

Science/Lab Kits Used:

  • Hydrodynamic Deluxe Building Set
  • LEGO Pneumatics Set
  • STEM Challenge Cards
  • Zometool Kits
  • Power House
  • Q the Robot
  • Lego Education Renewable Energy
  • 3Doodler Create
  • Makeblock Starter Robot Kit
  • Flexo
  • Legos
  • Lego Mindstorms NXT
  • Tinker Crate Kits
  • Rumble Lab Kits
  • Monoprice Maker Select Plus 3D printer
  • Drones
  • Civil Air Patrol Units
  • 4 in 1 Hydraulic Machines
  • Ford STEAM Experience: A Lesson in Automotive Engineering
  • Smart Car Robotics
  • Pico Sky-Z Steam Turbine
  • Solar H2O Heater Kit
  • Taking apart major appliances and electronics

 

Museums Visited:

  • Houston Museum of Natural Science
  • Space Center Houston
  • NASA Johnson Space Center Lab Tours
  • Houston Children’s Museum & Maker Lab
  • Houston Community College Manufacturing Lab
  • Boston Museum of Science
  • MIT Museum
  • The Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments – Harvard University
  • Discovery World Science and Technology Museum
  • Telus Spark
  • Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science
  • Oshman Design Engineering Kitchen Tour at Rice University
  • Opus College of Engineering Tour at Marquette University
  • Physics Festival at Texas A&M University
  • Harley-Davidson Museum
  • Mercedes-Benz Museum
  • Porsche Museum
  • International Antarctic Centre

 

Profoundly Gifted, Just The Facts

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I have a page called “What is Gifted?” that I wrote years ago with information on what giftedness is due to the many myths out there.  Sadly, the myths and misinformation continue to be pushed about giftedness and research ignored. James Webb, the founder of Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG), died earlier this year.  He was considered one of the pioneers in gifted research.  His research, as well as the research of others in the field of gifted education, should not be ignored.  Instead, we need more gifted advocates and education advocates collaborating together to raise awareness and to implement best practices for students with gifted differences.  The best practices for gifted students can benefit all students. Thus, in order to provide just the facts, I’m reposting the article What Does “Profoundly Gifted” Mean? FAQ for Parents and Educators from TPPG  that was written by EmilyVR . She currently serves as the SAGE Chair for RISD Council of PTAs and as Vice Chair for the TAGT Parent Division.  Sources are found at the end of the article.

What Does “Profoundly Gifted” Mean?  FAQ for Parents and Educators

What does the “profoundly gifted” label mean, and why is it significant?  Please see below for frequently asked questions and answers from TPPG leaders, drawn from the work of psychologists and educators who study and work with profoundly gifted students.

How do you define “Profoundly Gifted?”

Experts define PG using evidence of an extreme level of ability and/or achievement.  The Davidson Institute defines profoundly gifted students as “those who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests” (Davidson Institute).  In the past, using IQ tests yielding scores above 160, including the WISC-IV extended norms, experts described scores above 130 as “moderately gifted,” above 145 as “Highly Gifted” (HG), above 160 as “Exceptionally Gifted” (EG), and above 180 as “Profoundly Gifted” (PG) (Gross, 2000).  Using the most recent versions of intelligence tests, scores ≥ 145 qualify for services through the Davidson Institute and for membership in TPPG (Davidson Institute; current January 2018). TPPG accepts either ability or achievement scores ≥ 99th percentile.

As a child’s ability and achievement scores increase, according to experts who work with the profoundly gifted, the level of academic work the child can perform (and will need in order to stay challenged and motivated) is likely to increase.  Disabilities, low socioeconomic status, and other factors at school and at home can contribute to gaps between ability and achievement. Professionals who work with profoundly gifted children find that they differ from other gifted children in additional ways, such as greater sensitivity, more extreme concerns about adult worries, and greater challenges in finding like-minded peers (“Serving highly & profoundly gifted learners,” 2009).

Why are different categories needed when describing gifted abilities?

While all gifted children share certain common challenges, some face added challenges which require different educational services and interventions. In the field of gifted education, groups facing extra challenges are called “special populations.”  Special populations include culturally, linguistically, or economically diverse students (CLED), twice-exceptional (2e) students, highly to profoundly gifted students, students impacted by gender and sexuality, urban gifted students, and rural gifted students.

Just as medical diagnoses help doctors prescribe the right course of treatment, parents and educators find that gifted categories can help educators “prescribe” services and interventions which have been shown through research to result in student success and positive outcomes.

Why are there services for just PG families?

Profoundly gifted children need inclusion and advocacy from organizations dedicated to all gifted children, but because of the extreme nature of their needs and characteristics, these students and families often need additional, dedicated support.  Many PG students need radical acceleration (3+ years beyond age-grade), and parenting these children comes with unique challenges. The goals of PG parents are the same as the goals of all parents: to support the social and emotional wellness of their children, and to allow their children to reach their potential.  The parenting journey often looks different for PG families, and parents need information, support, and guidance from other parents and professionals who understand these differences. It is important for PG children to have access to other children who share their characteristics and needs.

Some researchers express concerns about the limitations of IQ and achievement data, particularly when assessing children from diverse populations.  When seeking an evaluation for suspected PG level needs, parents concerned about these limitations may wish to inquire about options to submit alternative evidence of ability, such as portfolios, student interviews, or information from adults familiar with the child’s development.  Just like other gifted students, PG children exist in all cultures, racial and ethnic groups, and income levels. Advocates for the profoundly gifted hope that identification practices will continue to improve.

What is acceleration?

As defined by the Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students, acceleration is the “strategy of mastering knowledge and skills at rates faster or ages younger than the norm” (Texas Education Agency, 2009).   Publications by the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa summarize research on several forms of acceleration, including full grade acceleration (grade skipping), subject acceleration, curriculum compacting, early kindergarten entry, early college entry, and concurrent enrollment (Assouline et al., 2015).  According to researchers, when a gifted student is a good candidate for acceleration, “evidence on the effectiveness of acceleration is very positive. For example, contrary to many people’s expectation, the evidence shows that acceleration does not damage students socially or emotionally. In fact, grade skipping has been found to aid social relations (as well as academic achievement), while concurrent enrolment has been found to enhance psychological adjustment” (Bailey et al., 2004).  A careful evaluation of a student’s ability needs, achievement levels, and other characteristics can help parents and educators work together to make appropriate educational placements. The Iowa Acceleration Scale can offer assistance in making full-grade acceleration decisions (Assouline et al., 2009). Parents who choose to homeschool profoundly gifted children often use a combination of online courses and traditional curriculum materials.

Can students with disabilities have PG level abilities?  

Yes!  Children with both disability needs and gifted needs are called “twice-exceptional,” or 2e.  Disabilities can impact academic achievement and ability testing, however, which can make PG abilities more difficult to identify.  When parents of a child with a disability seek testing to identify gifted needs, they may wish to ask how the disability could impact the child’s assessment.  Subject acceleration may be recommended to provide challenge in areas of strength for 2e profoundly gifted children with extremely asynchronous development.

In students with identified gifted needs, the child’s abilities can also mask symptoms of a disability and delay diagnosis (Webb et al., 2016).  A number of psychologists, diagnosticians, and other professionals are familiar with the diagnosis of disabilities in the gifted population.

Should the PG label be used in Gifted Education?

In education, any use of labels may involve pros and cons.  TPPG leaders are aware that many students with extreme ability needs remain unidentified, and we are concerned about the needs of all gifted children.  However, just as the “gifted” label allows educators to study and identify certain educational interventions for above-level ability differences, the “profoundly gifted” label is needed for the same reasons.  Without a way to research, discuss, and teach to the extreme differences of the profoundly gifted – academic, behavioral, and emotional – parents and educators cannot advocate for research-based interventions shown to prevent misdiagnosis and underachievement.  Different levels of ability and achievement require different interventions, and in our current educational system, labels can successfully connect student needs with educationally appropriate solutions. From the perspective of families living with PG children, declining to identify and name these abilities and differences would be the equivalent of refusing to identify other significant learning differences.

I am an educator or professional who works with gifted children, and I would like to learn more about the needs of profoundly gifted children.  Where can I learn more?

Educators can join the Educators’ Guild of the Davidson Institute (https://www.davidsongifted.org/Educators-Guild), may wish to consider some of the resources below, and can contact their district’s GT department or state GT organization to request professional development on special populations in gifted education, including the highly to profoundly gifted.  Your interest and support is critical in helping these children to reach their potential. We thank you for seeking to learn more – these students and their parents will be grateful!

Sources and Further Reading

Assouline, S., Colangelo, N., Lupkowski-Shoplik, A., Lipscomb, J., & Forstadt, L. (2009).  Iowa Acceleration Scale Manual, 3rd Edition.  Scottsdale, AZ: Great Potential Press.

Assouline, S. G., Colangelo, N., VanTassel-Baska, J., and Lupkowski-Shoplik, A. (Eds.) (2015).  A nation empowered: evidence trumps the excuses holding back America’s brightest students.  University of Iowa.

Bailey, S., Chaffey, G., Gross, M., MacLeod, B., Merrick, C. and Targett, R. (2004).  Types of acceleration and their effectiveness. Canberra, Australia: Department of Education, Science and Training.  Retrieved from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, Web. https://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10487

Davidson Institute.  IQ and educational needs.  Retrieved from the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, Web.  http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10877

Foley Nicpon, M. (2009).  Tips for parents: advocating for the 2E child and the profoundly gifted in a traditional school setting.  Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Web. http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10571

Gifted Development Center.  Educational planning for highly to profoundly gifted children.  Web. www.gifteddevelopment.com/about-our-center/our-services/k-12-educational-planning/highly–profoundly-gifted

Gross, M. U. M. (2000).  Exceptionally and profoundly gifted students:  an underserved population. Understanding Our Gifted, Winter 2000.  http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/underserved.htm

Gross, M. U. M. (2010).  Exceptionally Gifted Children.  Second Edition.  New York: Routledge.

Gross, M. U. M. (2006).  Exceptionally gifted children: long-term outcomes of academic acceleration and nonacceleration.  Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 29(4), 404-429.  Abstract available on web.  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.4219/jeg-2006-247

Gross, M. & Van Vliet, H. (2005).  Radical acceleration and early entry to college: A review of the research.  Gifted Child Quarterly, 49 (2).  Retrieved from web.  https://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10349

Henshon, S. E. (2009).  Serving the needs of highly and profoundly gifted children: an interview with Linda Silverman.  Systems, 19(1), 1-5.  Center for Gifted Education, The College of William and Mary.  Retrieved from web. http://education.wm.edu/centers/cfge/_documents/resources/newsletter/fall09systems.pdf

Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page.  Highly, exceptionally, and profoundly gifted (resource list).  Web. http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_gifted.htm

Jackson, P. (2011).  Highly gifted learners.  In J. A. Castellano and A. D. Frazier (Eds.), Special populations in gifted education: understanding our most able students from diverse backgrounds.  Waco: Prufrock Press.

Jackson, P. (2006).  Tips for parents: an integral approach to the social and emotional development of the profoundly gifted.  Davidson Institute for Talent Development.  Web. http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10392

K., Carolyn (2012).  What is highly gifted?  Exceptionally gifted? Profoundly gifted?  And what does it mean? Web. http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/highly_profoundly.htm

Manning, S. and Besnoy, K. D. (2008). Special Populations. In F. A. Karnes and K. R. Stephens (Eds.), Achieving excellence: Educating the gifted and talented. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

National Association for Gifted Children.  Acceleration. Web. https://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/gifted-education-practices/acceleration

National Association for Gifted Children (2010).  Use of the WISC-IV for gifted identification: position statement.

Ruf, D. L. (2009).  Five levels of gifted.  Scottsdale: Great Potential Press.

Schultz, R. (2006).  Tips for parents: the social/emotional needs of the highly/profoundly gifted individual.  Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Web.  http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10407

Serving highly & profoundly gifted learners (2009).  Gifted Education Communicator, 40 (4), 1-48.  Web.  www.giftededucationcommunicator.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/200904GECWinter-1.pdf

Texas Education Agency (2009).  Texas State Plan for the Education of Gifted/Talented Students.  https://tea.texas.gov/Academics/Special_Student_Populations/Gifted_and_Talented_Education/Gifted_Talented_Education/

Wasserman, J. (2006).  Tips for parents: intellectual assessment of exceptionally and profoundly gifted children.  Davidson Institute for Talent Development. Web. http://www.davidsongifted.org/Search-Database/entry/A10405

Webb, J. T., Amend, E. R., Beljan, P., Webb, N. E., Kuzujanakis, M., Olenchak, F. R., Goerss, J. (2016).  Misdiagnosis and dual diagnosis of gifted children and adults. Tucson: Great Potential Press.

Organizations for Profoundly Gifted Children

Davidson Institute for Talent Development: https://www.davidsongifted.org/About-Us

Daimon Institute for the Highly Gifted:  http://www.daimoninstitute.com/

PG Retreat:  https://pgretreat.org/

Texas Parents of the Profoundly Gifted: http://www.tppg.org/

Support for Gifted Families in Texas

Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (join as a parent member!) – http://www.txgifted.org/

List of TAGT-affiliated Parent Support Groups (PSGs) in Texas: http://www.txgifted.org/psg-members

© 2018 Texas Parents of the Profoundly Gifted (TPPG) Board and TPPG Advocacy Liaison (Emily VR).  Although reasonable effort has been made to present accurate information, TPPG makes no guarantees of any kind about the information above, including accuracy or completeness. Use of such information is at the sole risk of the reader.  This article may not be reproduced or transmitted without permission. For questions or comments, please contact tppgliaison@gmail.com.

This blog article is part of the Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page Blog Hop on “Just the Facts.”  I thank my friends at Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page and elsewhere for their inspiration, support, and suggestions.

Please click on the graphic below (created by Pamela S Ryan–thanks!) to see the other Hoagies’ Blog Hop participants, or cut and paste this URL into your browser:

http://hoagiesgifted.org/blog_hop_just_the_facts.htm

bloghopJustTheFacts

Roadschooling to Huntsville, TX

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I know I just wrote about our summer roadschooling trip to Austin, TX.  So, I’m a little late on writing about our one day roadschooling trip to Huntsville, TX for a day of history. Roadschooling is the act of taking learning on the road.  Afterall, learning occurs in more than just the four walls of a school.  Roadschooling is just one part of our homeschooling adventures.  And, this past spring break for our friends we planned a day trip to Huntsville, which is about 90 minutes north of us.

Here is what we did in order:

Sam Houston Statue (9-5, there is a visitor center too, free)
1327 11th St, Huntsville, TX 77340-3811

Samuel Walker Houston Memorial Museum & Cultural Center (9:30-4:30, free, and was extra special as we got to talk with ladies that went to the school prior to desegregation and they had stories about Samuel Walker Houston’s family)
1604 10th St.  Huntsville, Texas  77340

Sam Houston Memorial Museum (9-4:30; adults $5, children $3
1402 19th St Huntsville, TX 77340

Texas Prisons Museum (10-5, adults $5, children $3, even has information on the old prisoner lease system and the old prisons in Sugar Land)
491 State Highway 75 N, Huntsville, TX 77320

HEARTS Veterans Museum of Texas (10-5; adults $8, children $3, next door to the TX Prison Museum)
463 State Highway 75 N.  Huntsville TX 77320

And back-up or alternatives we had on our list:

Gibbs-Powell House Museum/Walker County Historical Museum (only open on Fri & Sat. 12-4, adults $4, kids $3)
1228 11 St. at Avenue M.   Huntsville, TX

Huntsville State Park (kids are free non-peak rate is $5 per adult)
565 Park Road 40 West, Huntsville, TX 77340

Our children and we as adults learned more on this trip than what was ever talked about in school! Get inspired!  Go out and explore because the best way to learn history is by experiencing it and seeing it in these museums.

Roadschooling Austin

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Roadschooling is the act of taking learning on the road.  Afterall, learning occurs in more than just the four walls of school.  Roadschooling is just one part of our homeschooling adventures. Sometimes roadschooling means worldschooling, travelling beyond our state and sometimes beyond our country.  See here for some of our worldschooling adventures.  Every summer we take a mini-vacation or roadschooling adventure with one of our friends.  It is just us two moms and our 5 kids combined. We pick a city and then I put my research skills to the test to create both fun and educational itinerary.  This year was Austin! And, due to how successful our trips have been I decided to share what we did for others planning a trip with children to Austin.

Here is what we did in order:

Leaving Houston:

Blue Bell Ice Cream (pit stop that is about halfway between Houston & Inner Space Caverns, 1 scoop costs $1, has a tiny museum that is free)  1101 S Blue Bell Rd, Brenham, TX 77833

Inner Space Caverns (15 minutes from hotel) 4200 S. I-35 FRONTAGE RD. GEORGETOWN, TX 78626  (Print out $1 off each ticket coupon)

First full day:

Austin Nature & Science Center in Zilker Park (9-5, free, limited parking)  2389 Stratford Dr, Austin, TX 78746

Barton Springs in Zilker Park (5am-10pm, closed Thursday, adult $8, under 11 is $3, over 11 is $4)  2201 Barton Springs Rd.  Austin, TX 78704 (2206 William Barton Dr. address to the parking lot)

Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center (10-5, free, closed Mondays, next door to Barton Springs & same parking lot)  2206 William Barton Dr.  Austin, 78746

Capital Cruise Bat Boat Tour (tours are at 8:00pm, must be at the dock by 7:30pm and must make a reservation in advance, very limited walk-ins if any allowed) Capital Cruises Dock (Lakeside of the Hyatt Hotel with a paid parking garage, closest)
208 Barton Springs Road  Austin, TX 78704

Second full day:

Bullock State History Museum ($13 adults, $9 kids, additional costs if doing the special movie or the IMAX movies, has its own parking garage located on 18th Street, on the south side of the Museum.  If parked here, only 4 blocks from Capitol.1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

State Capitol Visitor Center (free, perfect bathroom stop before governor’s mansion) 112 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78701

2:00 Tour of the Governor’s Mansion (free, south of the capitol, closer to visitor center, would be almost 1 mile from Bullock State History Museum, must make reservation in advanced due to background check, and not allowed to bring any bags, food, or drinks as well as no public bathrooms while there)  1010 Colorado St, Austin, TX 78701 (street parking or park at visitors center parking garage)

State Capitol (free tours, long hours to enter, metered street parking or use paid Visitor Center Parking lot at 1201 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701)  1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

Oasis Restaurant on Lake Travis (30 minutes from the hotel, no reservations are taken) 6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732

Final day and departing back to Houston:

Street Art in Austin (free):

  • North of the river, direct path from the hotel to chocolate place:
  • I Heart Austin by Gerardo Arellano: 5134 Burnet Rd (closest to the hotel)
  • Austin Eye Chart: 5209 N Lamar Blvd
  • Rainbow Birds: 120 W N Loop Blvd
  • Austin, Texas: 3700 Guadalupe St
  • Austintatious: 23rd St Artisan Market, 23rd & Guadalupe
  • HOPE Outdoor Gallery: W 11th St & Baylor St
  • Austin Howdy at 601 W 6th St
  • Austin at E 6th St & SB I-35 Access Rd (6th St Historic District by Sanctuary Printshop) & Cat is opposite corner of the Austin one (closest to chocolate place)

Maggie Louise Chocolate Atelier & Boutique (Tuesday-Sat 10am-6pm)
1017 East 6th Street  Austin, Texas 78702

Blue Cat Cafe ($5 cover per person to play with cats, the menu is fully vegan for food) 95 Navasota St, Austin, TX 78702

Here are some additional options that were on our back-up or alternatives list:

Austin Street Art South of the river (free):

  • Smile: S Congress Ave & Elizabeth St
  • Give: 1401 S Congress Ave
  • Home Slice: 1415 S Congress Ave
  • Horse: 1700 S Congress Ave
  • Your Essential Magnificence 2204 S. Congress Ave.
  • Vintage RCA Dog: S Congress Ave & W Johanna St
  • Greetings from Austin Postcard: S 1st St & Annie St
  • Austin City Panorama: S 1st St & W Stassney Ln

Texas Military Forces Museum & Camp Mabry (Free, 10-4, closed Mon., West of Austin on way to Lake Travis)  The Texas Military Forces Museum is located in Building 6 on Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas. The street address of Camp Mabry is 2200 West 35th Street. The mailing address is P.O. Box 5218, Austin, TX 78763. The GPS address is 3038  W 35th St. Austin, Tx 78703. The former entrance to the post was blocked in 2001, the current entrance is on Maintenance Drive. Adults must show valid ID at security gates to enter the base.

The George Washington Carver Museum And Cultural Center (free, 10-5, metered street parking, near TX State Cemetery and chocolate place)  1165 Angelina Street Austin, TX 78702

McKinney Falls State Park (free with state park pass, otherwise daily entrance fee, can swim in Onion Creek and see waterfalls as long as no flooding has occurred)  5808 McKinney Falls Parkway Austin, TX 78744

Circuit of the Americas (would not be open but could drive to it to see it, this is where grand prix races are held and other car & motorcycle races are held) 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd, Austin, TX 78617

And, here are backup pit stops or places to break the drive up between Houston and Austin via 290:

Texas Cotton Gin Museum (free)  307 N Main St, Burton, TX 77835

Texas Tin Haus (just a park, look, picture stop as it is down the street from the Texas Cotton Gin Museum)  12400 E Texas St, Burton, TX 77835

Toubin Park (free, tiny historic & preserved park with old water cistern working) 208 S Park St, Brenham, TX 77833-3646

Brenham Murals (There are also 18 murals in the downtown Brenham but need to have the Brenham app to get the directions once in Brenham)

Obviously, there is way more to see and do in Austin.  My son and I have been there numerous times and have visited many other spots.  Maybe some of these mentioned here are new to you.  Hopefully, this will inspire you to get out and go explore!

Big History Project for High School Credit

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Big History Project is a type of world history course available online with a year-long plan to cover a big picture look at the world from the origin of the universe to now and thinking about the future.  It is available online for access to lesson plans and video clips.  It has a curriculum guide for making it a one-year history course.   And, it could be used as a multi-year course for middle or high school depending on which curriculum guide you follow and if you choose to only do portions.  Supplemental material and an additional online program were also used. We will be doing another more traditional world history course via the Great Courses in the future.

Online Programs Used:

  • Big History Project (official program)
  • Big Picture History (12 classes from History at Our House)

Books Used:

  • Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present by Cynthia Stokes Brown
  • Horrible Histories boxed set (20 books)
  • National Geographic Explorer Collection Series (20 books)
  • National Geographic’s The Global Issues Series (12 books)

Videos Used:

  • How We Got To Now: The History and Power of Great Ideas by PBS (2 disc series)
  • Big History by the History Channel (3 disc series)
  • History of the World in Two Hours by the History Channel

Theater & Performing Arts Appreciation for High School Credit

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We are privileged to live in Houston, TX which is the 4th largest city in the US.  Its theatre district is 2nd to New York City within the US and is known internationally.  And, I have written about its theaters and how to get student matinee tickets or group discounts a few years ago in my blog “Houston Has More to Offer Than You Know.”   Thus, attending performances is a huge part of our homeschooling adventures.  We have attended plays, musicals, Broadway, opera, ballet, pantomimes, and symphonies.  Houston has a very active theatre district and there are even smaller community theaters in the suburbs making it easy for our son to learn about performing arts and appreciating it.

Here is how our son got his 1 year of high school credit:

Theaters visited for performances:

  • Alley Theatre (plays and musicals)
  • Theatre Under the Stars (plays and musicals)
  • Wortham Center (Houston Ballet and Houston Grand Opera performances)
  • Jones Hall (Houston Symphony)
  • Miller Outdoor Theatre (plays, musicals, and dance troupes)
  • Stages Repertory Theatre (pantomimes, musicals, and plays)
  • Company on Stage (plays)
  • Hobby Center (Broadway performances)
  • Houston Ballet Academy (studio dance performances)
  • AD Players (plays and musicals)
  • Main Street Theater (plays and musicals)
  • Fort Bend Theater (plays)
  • Interactive Theater Company (audience interactive plays)
  • Iao Historic Theater (a play)

Books Used:

  • Backstage Handbook: An Illustrated Almanac of Technical Information by Paul Carter
  • Student Performance Study Guides for all Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, and Alley Theatre performances
  • Playbills for all Theatre Under the Stars, Hobby Center, and Alley Theatre performances

Classes & Tours Taken:

  • Stage Lighting, a class at Techland
  • Talk-back sessions with the staff and crew at Alley Theatre after performances
  • Talk-back sessions with the crew at Main Street Theatre after performances
  • Houston Theater District Open House
  • Backstage tour at Company on Stage
  • Tour of Houston PBS studio and stage

World Schooling Round 9

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Homeschooling allows us to be more flexible with travel.  We use the terms “world schooling” and “road schooling” frequently with the description of our homeschooling adventures. In my previous blogs, I have explained world schooling and road schooling and I have links to all previous adventures.  Traveling is a huge part of our learning path. This time our adventures were to the areas around Miami, Florida.  Although the adventure was a domestic trip, going to Miami was important for seeing the national parks in South Florida before they are damaged further (sea levels rising, repeated hurricanes and tropical storms, increased high tide floodings, coral bleaching, etc.). Thus, when our friend saw Miami on her list of timeshares available, we jumped at the opportunity.  We were so excited to see these national parks, visit the Keys, and see Little Havana with our boys. Thus the trip was an adventure of national parks, Cuban-American history, and a time to play with friends.

Here is a list of where my friend and I took our boys:

  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Miami
  • Doral
  • Everglades National Park Sharkey Visitor Center (2 junior ranger badges earned)
  • Everglades Safari Park
  • Big Cypress National Preserve (1 junior ranger badge earned)
  • Bay of Pigs Museum (talked with a veteran of the Bay of Pigs Invasion)
  • Little Havana
  • Calle Ocho
  • The Futurama Building
  • Domino Park
  • Tower Theater
  • Azucar Ice Cream Company
  • Key Largo
  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
  • Islamorada
  • Feed the Tarpon at Robbie’s
  • Tavernier
  • Key Lime Pie Factory
  • Anne Kolb Nature Center
  • Hollywood North Beach
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
  • Crandon Beach Park
  • Biscayne National Park Dante Fascell Visitor Center (4 junior ranger badges earned)
  • Frost Art Museum
  • Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science

On this trip we learned several common themes from all of the national and state parks that we went to: invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, don’t dump your pets in the wild (not your pet fish or snakes or mammals), eat lionfish (must remove poisonous spines first) and use reef safe sunblock.  South Florida is filled with invasive species such as iguanas, lionfish, boa constrictors, and pythons that are all from people releasing their pets in the wild. Other than the iguanas, all of them eat native species and have no natural predators in the area. Although we never got to try lionfish, apparently that is what the parks are encouraging.  Seriously, they have lessons on how to catch them and instructions on how to cook them! They even have special competitions periodically for catching the most lionfish. It was stressed that in the national and state protected waters you can only take away trash and lionfish from the reefs.

If you want to learn more about the junior ranger program, this mother compiled a complete list of junior ranger programs you can do via mail or in person. In addition, the National Park Service has educator resources available for free.  The National Park Service also has links and lists out specific junior ranger programs you can do from home.  And if you want to read about other families roadschooling through the National Parks and using the junior ranger program, check out this article from the NPCA.  The National Parks are a great educational tool and travel destination.  Please, be inspired, and go explore!