Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hanover Dutch Festival

The last Saturday of July is always the Hanover Dutch Festival. There are lots of food vendors, craft vendors, etc. This particular festival had a German flair to it. The area was originally settled by German immigrants. During the festival you can listen to a German band and see german dancers. Of course we enjoy doing all of this and again, I count it as school in my mind, but don't tell the children. They just think they are having fun.

We are able to count the music and dancing as music appreciation and social studies (world cultures). Any time I go to one of these festivals, my husband teases me because I like to get italian sausage and funnel cakes. He tells me the festival is an excuse to indulge in these treats. So now, I'm trying to figure out a way to include the funnel cakes and italian sausages in our portfolio. ;-)

This year, as part of the festival, I learned that there were many facilities in the area giving free tours. Yesterday we went to the firehouse that houses a museum and we went to the post office. While we were at the fire house, the newspaper arrived and today we are in the paper. I'm not sure how long this link will be any good, but I'll post it anyway because the paper quoted me. I tried to choose my words very carefully and I feel they didn't misrepresent anything I said.

We truly did enjoy the tour. My husband is a professional firefighter and it was neat to see some of the antique stuff and how it worked.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I don't know about you, but our summers are filled with activity. This year, we started homeschooling July 1 and it's been great. I did this for a couple of reasons.
1. It's hot and it's nice to stay in the AC
2. There are lots of free summer activities in our area (see below)
3. We started last year in Sept and had to go all the way to the middle of May. We don't want to repeat that.
4. We want a long Christmas break
5. I want to be finished by May 1 so I can completely focus on evaluations.

So , back to the topic of summer...
We started July 1. There are many activities going on this summer that I am incorporating into our homeschool.
1. My kids are taking a class at the local state park on Thursdays in July. The class is free and all about birds that you can find locally. The kids are loving it and seem to be getting a great deal from it.
2. VBS!!! They do get a lot out of VBS. For our homeschool, this covers music and art and sometimes Bible history.
3. Harp lessons - Our local state park is offering free autoharp lessons on Wednesday afternoons.
4. Free movies - We have been reading and doing activities with Charlotte's Web by E.B.White and the movie is free this week at a local theater.
5. Library Summer Reading Program - The library system in the neighboring county is offering an awesome summer reading program. They have all sorts of special programs from health and nutrition to sign language to astronomy classes and so on.
6. Fourth of July in Gettysburg - see previous post on this one.

Life is learning. These are the things my kids will remember much better than anything I can "teach" them from a textbook. Even after the summer is over, I will continue to search for opportunities such as these.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A word about the law and what to turn in to the school district

Call me a paranoid, right-wing, nut job, but when the law doesn't require something from me, I don't typically volunteer it. When I buy gasoline, the law doesn't require that I produce a driver's license to prove I can drive, so I wouldn't dream of volunteering to show it. Nor would I show it if the gas station attendant came out and asked for it, because it's not required by the law. I am within legal parameters to buy gas without proving that I can drive.

I have private tutored my children for the last several years without incident.
This year, I am taking two students from different families that I will private tutor in my home. Despite the fact that I have submitted all that the law requires (copy of teaching certificate, background check, etc), their school districts of residence have both asked me for a yearly letter in the spring stating that I will continue private tutoring them.

Today I called the one school district and asked about this "requirement" . She told me that the reason I need to send the letter is so that she can be sure the children are being educated. I asked if they require the same from students who attend private schools. I was told that they do not. I asked, "then how do you know those kids are bieng educated?" Her reply was - "We don't". She asked why it was such a big deal to write a letter when all the other private tutors in her district send in the annual letter. I explained that when school district requries something of everyone that is not the law, and everyone complies, then the school district will start asking for a little more and a little more, and it doesn't stop.

Home School Legal Defense sent a letter to my home district (since this is one of the districts asking for this letter) that states:"...there is no provision that the private tutor submit the required documentation or any related notice to the local public school superintendent on an annual basis."

If you are homeschooling under the Private Tutoring Provision of the Pa School Code, I beg you to please not hand in anything that is not required by the law. It raises the bar on what the schools will ask for.

Even if you are not homeschooling under the Private Tutoring Provision, be sure you know the homeschool law inside and out. As an evaluator, I am aware that most of the school districts in the area "require" you to submit more than what the law requires and it's maddening. If you don't submit what the law doesn't require, there is nothing they can do to you. Period.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July - Gettysburg style

The 4th of July in Gettysburg is an event that lasts 3 or 4 days (at least). Typically, we stay home away from all the crowds and tourists. In the evening, we usually trek over to Hanover, Pa (about 7 miles away from our house) to see fireworks. This year, the weather forecast is calling for rain, so I figured fireworks were not a possiblity this year.

Instead, we decided to go to Gettysburg to see what we would find.

Here is what we found:

A surgeon's tent where he showed us the bone saw and a metatarsal knife. I actually started getting light headed so I had to quit listening. I felt I couldn't leave because the kids were fascinated. There was also a bowl of (fake) hands and feet sitting on the ground next to this table.

A woman making lace by hand that dd9 had to get her picture with. Notice that dd had to dress according to this occasion, but I would be shocked if she didn't.

The Lincoln Train Museum where we took a virtual train ride with Abraham Lincoln.

The Rupp House where we learned about how a woman hid with her six children in the basement during the battle. Then she decided to cross town with her children and her valuable possessions through enemy territory to a safer place. (I have a great respect for this woman considering I have a hard enough time going to the grocery store with 3 children.)

This gentleman at the Rupp House is showing us a gun used during the time.

At one point, ds4 spotted what we call a "real-life army guy". This was an active serviceman in his fatigues. Ds kept staring and the soldier waved to him. I turned and shook his hand and thanked him for his service to our country. I explained that our family appreciates the freedoms we have and realize that it's because of his service that we have them. He actually started to tear up. He took the American flag off his uniform and gave it to my son. (Note: I thank those guys every chance I get. Toby Keith's song Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue runs through my head when I see them. Especially the part where he says "...There's a lot of men dead so we can sleep in peace at night when we lay down our heads")

I didn't tell my children that any of this was school.

I purchased paper doll books for all three kids and it's neat to see them so interested. Dd9, my reluctant reader, keeps reading and "teaching" me all about 19th century clothing.

On the way home, we stopped by a homeschool family owned fruit stand/pottery store and purchased corn on the cob for our 4th of July "feast".

Now we are home and it's raining. The girls are cutting out paper dolls and ds4 is playing with his plastic Civil War soldiers that he got today. He has informed me many times that his soldiers have "saved the day".

It's been a good homeschool day.