Plenty of field trips

Besides all the shows we’ve been going to it’s also been the season for field trips. Luckily we hang around with some highly motivated people that plan all kinds of cool things for us to do.

In the past 2 months we’ve…

gone ice skating during the lunch skate, it’s the best time to go if you can. Only $4 and the rink is practically empty.

A lock-picking class at The Columbus Idea Foundry, apparently Thomas is a natural. He often has his lock-picking kit with him, so if you’re ever locked out of something and he’s around, he can probably get you in.

Learn how to solve the puzzles provided by common pin tumbler locks and wafer locks, defeat security mechanisms, and generally enjoy the intrigue of popping a lock open without the key. Locks are just puzzles waiting to be solved.

OHAYOCON 2012 at the convention center. Ohayocon is a 3 day event that focuses on the art, culture and community surrounding Japanese Animation.

Hockey game with friends.

A tour of the The American Whistle Corporation and then a tour a the The Flag Lady Store in Clintonville. Two field trips back to back, way to pack it all in to one day!

American Whistle Corporation is the ONLY manufacturer of metal whistles in the United States! For approximately 45 minutes, we will show you a thriving, small, American manufacturing plant and entertain you with interesting information about whistles and fascinating machinery—some state of the art, some dating back to the beginning of the company. Best of all, everyone leaves with a shiny new “American Classic” whistle!

I am so glad I wasn’t driving that group of kids home, I hate whistling!

A visit to the Franklin Park Conservatory along with a class about the importance of environmental knowledge about personal energy consumption and conservation, the global carbon cycle, and the carbon sequestration power of trees and plants.


After the class the kids got to watch the butterflies being released.


Then we went to the playground for a picnic and some time to play in the waterfalls.


During that same week (man we’ve had amazing weather in March) we went on another picnic at The Topiary Park in downtown Columbus, then a visit to the Columbus Museum of Art.


The art museum now has a kids area complete with a space to climb on and in. I’m surprised by the lack of rules surrounding climbing on the structure. There are no signs saying not to climb up on the play house and it is even set up to make it look like they want  you to climb to the top.


And, of course, our trip to Niagara Falls. The grand-daddy of all field trips!


Just another Homeschool field trip…

To Niagara Falls! Thomas and some of his friends have been doing a environmental science class where they briefly discussed hydroelectric power, but that was enough for us moms to jump at the chance to take the kids to Niagara Falls for a fabulous field trip. It was a whirlwind 2 day, 1 night trip but even in that short amount of time the kids learned so much more than they ever could have from just reading about the falls and the power plant in a book.

Our first look at the falls. Both Thomas and Ros said it wasn’t as big as they thought it would be. I didn’t realize that the falls were split by Goat Island. 


This is Niagara Falls but the mist in the back is from the Horseshoe Falls.


After our 6 hour drive we took a little break at the falls to play some Frisbee and eat our lunches. It was a beautiful, warm day who would have thought it would be like that in March. When we made the reservations we were worried about snow.


We even got to see a rainbow at the falls.


When did Thomas get so much bigger than me?


Thomas and friends doing OHIO. After we left the observation area of Niagara Falls, we walked across the bridge to Goat Island.


We are lucky to have such a great group of friends! These kids are amazing, they are so not like the stereotypical teenager that everyone worries about. They are sweet, kind, polite and a joy to be around.


Thomas’ favorite part of the hike was the side trek to Three Sisters Islands. These rocky formations were originally all under water so the rocks have been worn smooth. It was a great place to just sit and listen to the river.


But it was an even better place to climb around and explore. Of course, I was always in the background yelling for Thomas to get away from the water, which he ignored. We were upstream from the falls for heavens sake, so if you slip in over the falls you go.


Ironically he got in trouble from a park ranger for climbing down to the water on the shallow, calm side of the rocks.

he's very contemplative

But it was perfectly ok for him to sit on the edge of the rocks by the deep rapids. What is wrong with these people?


After we exhausted ourselves exploring the state park we headed to our hotel to finally check in. We ate a quick snack and the kids were off to the pool. While they were swimming I took one of the other moms across the street to check out the casino. As part of our Groupon Deal each adult got a $25 voucher to use at the casino. Both Laura and I left the casino with a little bit of winnings from our free money.

Then we were back to the falls to see it lit up. It was very pretty but it was so cold outside once the sun went down and it took a ridiculously long time for the colors to change, at least 15 minutes for each color.

the falls at night, man those colors change SLOWLY! each color lasted about 15 minutes

We just stuck around for the pink, white, back to pink then orange. By this time it was 9:30 and the kids were hungry again, I guess the snack we had before just didn’t cut it for dinner. We also got vouchers for the TGI Fridays at the hotel so Laura took the kids to eat while I took Tracie and her mom to the Casino so they could use their free money. I seem to be the only person in our group that gambles so I was the tour guide for this part of our trip. Tracie was the big winner leaving with almost $60, which she generously used the next morning to buy everyone breakfast. After 2 trips to the casino I managed to stay $20 ahead which I planned to use the next morning at the casino while everyone else was asleep.


After all of our morning dalliances while most the kids were still asleep (Laura and Ros walked back to the falls, as did Tracie and I returned to the casino) we fed the kids, checked out our hotel and were off. First stop the Daredevil museum, which was closed. So we got a pic in front of the sign and headed to our next stop…


The Robert Moses Niagara Power Plant, this was a homeschool field trip after all.


We had a very entertaining and informative tour of the power plant, then we watched a 20 min movie that explained again how the water was diverted from the falls and showed how the plant was built (all in only 3 years.) Then we were left to explore the facility…


and the observation deck

observation deck over the gorge

The kids have a great story they can share about a fighter jet that was on fire that turned sideways and flew through this bridge while it was being constructedIMG_6709the American power plant on the right and the Canadian one on the left

This is the Canadian power plant right across the gorge.


After our time at the power plant we were ready to head home. It was a great trip with a great group of friends. And we decided that our next big homeschool field trip would be to Williamsburg in the fall!

Leeds Farm and Pumpkin Patch

A group of homeschooling friends, Thomas and myself all went to Leeds Farm last week for our annual pumpkin patch trip. This was a new-to-us farm and it had all kinds of fun areas that even especially the big kids enjoyed.

One of the favorites was the Tube Time! area.


Something about acting like a hamster and rolling around in the tubes really spoke to all the kids.


They rolled and raced and rolled some more.


Then there was more racing in the pedal tractors.


even some of the adults got in on the fun


Another fun spot was the bouncy mound, it was this huge ground level bubble that you could just bounce and bounce on (like a trampoline, but with no possibility of falling off.)


There were also tube slides (and also bigger slides that we didn’t discover before we left. Which gives us another reason to return next year.)


And of course farm animals. These goats were well trained to stay where the food was.


who doesn’t love baby pigs?


and baby goats…



The big favorite of the day was the zip line! Here’s Thomas climbing up to the platform.


And down he goes…


Lets zoom in on that  and see how he really feels:


No pumpkin patch is complete without a hayride. One different thing about this farm, normally the hayride takes you to the pumpkin patch where you go pick your pumpkin. But here the hayride is just a hayride (where you get to see some creepy stuffed animals out in the forest.) At Leeds you buy the pre-picked pumpkins separately, not what we’re used to but it’s such a cool farm otherwise we’ll let that slide.


Thomas and his group of friends having another fun day exploring places around Ohio.


Field trips galore

How many field trips can you squeeze into 1 day. Well certainly more that 2 but that’s what we did today. Thus no food blog this morning, there just wasn’t time.

Our first field trip was to the Wexner Center on the OSU campus for a free production of Farfalle (meaning Butterflies)by Compagnia T.P.O. (from Italy.)
While this was geared to 5-6 year olds my much older kids thought it was really cool and wished they had been chosen to go dance on the magic carpet.

Beautiful botanical images and captivating rainforest sounds emerge from every direction when a simple stage morphs into a magical playground that responds—in real time—to the graceful movements of two dancers. Even bigger thrills come when young ones from the audience are invited to touch and explore the glowing, interactive garden themselves. The evolution from caterpillar to butterfly has never been so brilliantly staged.

If you’re a homeschooler in Columbus you really should watch for the Wexner Centers school programs, they’re usually free and always awesome!

After that performance we headed downtown to the State House to see the repose ( I had to look that word up: a
: to lie at rest b: to lie dead <reposing in state>) of President Lincoln.

About the Repose of Lincoln:
The 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery A, a group of Civil War re-enactors, will provide an honor guard over a representation of Abraham Lincoln’s catafalque in the Ohio Statehouse Rotunda. A changing of the guard is scheduled to take place every half hour. Members of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery, Battery A will stand guard from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Statehouse Rotunda on the exact spot where 145 years before stood military sentinels of another generation guarding the coffin of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln died in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 15, 1865 after being shot a day earlier by assassin John Wilkes Booth. During the next 20 days, Lincoln’s body traveled 1,700 miles by train from Washington, D.C. to his burial in Springfield, IL on May 4, 1865. Along the way, state funerals were conducted in 12 major cities of the time. Columbus was the ninth city to host this solemn event.

The doors to the Ohio Statehouse opened on April 29, 1865 shortly after 9 a.m. A memorial service was held on the east plaza at 3 p.m. By 6 p.m. more than 50,000 people filed through the Statehouse Rotunda to see the President’s coffin. This was the highest attended event in Statehouse history until November 2, 2008 when Presidential candidate, Barack Obama drew 60,000 people to a rally on the Statehouse grounds.

The perimeter of where the coffin was positioned in the Rotunda will be cordoned off as a physical reminder that the president lay-in-state. A mourning wreath of mixed evergreens, magnolia leaves and white roses will be placed at the site.

The Repose of Lincoln is designed to portray the indelible, personal loss experienced on this historic day by the people of Columbus and in the Statehouse. The Repose of Lincoln has been conducted every year on April 29 since 2001.

After we left the State House we stopped at a little boutique in downtown Columbus to check out the funky looking clothes then we headed home for lunch and a rousing game of Blokus.