Our Reasons for Home Education:

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Although he was achieving good results, he wasn't reaching his full potential because his love for learning had been destroyed & hence his grades were steadily declining.

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Completely failed by the system, he hated school, was always tired & homework time was a major frustration for both of us. He was severely frustrated & quickly heading to become yet another ADHD statistic.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Irene Weather Station

WoW, this has been quite a hectic month where field trips are concerned. We’ve done SAASTA Telescope Building & Science Outing; Steam Train Trip & Cullinan History Tour; eTV Tour; SAASTA Night Sky Viewing as well as the Weather Training Centre in Irene. That’s 5 Field trips in one month & more than I can remember doing in all of my schooling career. Obviously in the process I’m also re-learning a whole lot of stuff that I learnt for the test many years ago but remember none of…

This afternoon we visited the Irene Weather Station, one of the 23 weather stations in our country. We met Hendrik, a technician with an absolute passion for the job he’s doing. Very patiently, & with the simplest of terms, he explained how they measure air temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind speed & direction as well as direction are measured & sent to their Head Office where the information is processed to supply the public with climate & weather reports.

I was quite surprised at how simple it all is. Now here is one area where the digital collection is still verified daily by taking daily measurements the old primitive way & checking it with the automated readings. We also had the privilege of seeing a radiosonde that measures various atmospheric parameters and transmits them to a fixed receiver, being attached to a balloon & released for a daily reading taken for the aviation industry.

Although this may not have been a very WoW experience we still enjoyed this field trip & learnt a lot.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Star Gazing at SAASTA Johannesburg Observatory

Today we went star gazing at SAASTA Johannesburg observatory. Although it was very cold & the queue for the telescope was long, we still enjoyed the experience and got to see the moon, Saturn and Mars up close.


Another huge thank you to Lynda for arranging another great field trip.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reading Eggs





Hello Everyone,

I thought you and your little one might like to trial the ABC Reading Eggs and Eggspress programs for two weeks absolutely FREE.

Those of you who have followed our journey into home education will remember that we took up home educating our then 7-year old 2nd grader because he was struggling at private school and unable to read.

Reading time was always a huge challenge & whenever I brought out a book for reading he’d tense up completely because he absolutely hated it. I kept on trying during the course of last year & finally, in June just gave it up & left all reading. No more books, no more tension & no more frustration. Then in January this year I stumbled on the Reading Eggs site & decided to give learning to read another try.

This program caters for 7 – 13 year olds & addresses the way Misha learns best. I started him on Level 2 “Beginning to Read for emerging readers” on the 19th January & for the first week I just left him as he spent 6 to 8 hours a day working the programme. By the 26th January he had mastered 20 lessons & moved up to Level 3. Since then he’s completed a lesson a day & finished Level 3 reading on the 19th April.

Reading Eggs activities include a Skills Bank with 96 lessons to teach spelling the fun way. There’s a Story Factory to encourage writing stories as well as Driving tests to assess student knowledge in one of three essential reading skills. For the little ones it includes a Play Room & a Puzzle park.

When I checked his reports in at the end of April, he was still at 7 years reading age, but by last Friday when I checked again he had improved to 9 years reading age. I’m amazed at how much his confidence has grown & his hatred towards reading has reduced. Lately he’s insisted on reading the Clinker Castle stories to me before going ahead with the comprehension exercises.

Today I was quite surprised that he wanted to read eNews to the group on our Field Trip to eTV. Although some of the words were a bit difficult for his current reading level, he wasn’t deterred… This afternoon he finished the last lesson at Storylands, Clinker Castle & will be moving on to Reading Express with its 200 lesson Comprehension gym & Library with its 650 levelled books with reading ages from 6 – 12+ years, next week.

Finally learning to read is no longer a chore & completing his lessons is done in about 40 minutes each day. Finally, after 21 months of home education, we’re making a breakthrough with reading. Letting go & trusting God & Misha to pick it up when he’s ready, is finally paying off…

Reading Eggs is working really well for Misha and registering is quick and easy. Give it a go, it really works!

Patrizia (a.k.a. Trys/Trixi) Schwartz

Mom to Jesse (14) & Misha (9)







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Reading Eggs

ABC Reading Eggs is 100% Australian and is designed for 3 to 7 year olds who are learning to read. The program is successful because it makes learning phonics and basic reading skills a truly enjoyable experience, through a range of educationally sound, fun and interactive activities.

Over 200 000 parents and 4000 teachers across Australia are using ABC Reading Eggs with their children.

Be one of the 90% of parents who have reported seeing a noticeable improvement in their child’s reading skills and register for your 2 week FREE trial NOW!

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We are very proud to announce the launch of our NEW Storylands destination. The first 20 lessons of Clinker Castle are open to play! Storylands opens after lesson 60 with 4 exciting maps, 20 wonderful books and lots of new rewards. This area build…





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eTV Tour

2012_0524_130857WoW, what an experience we had today. We joined Misha’s technology group for a tour of the eTV premises in Randburg.
In the training room we learnt a how images are transported from the camera to the TV towers & then redistributed to our homes. We learnt that the signal is sent to  the towers, encoded & then sent to the decoders in our homes where it is decoded into the images we see. We also learnt about analogue & digital television, ENG & SNG, Standard Definition (SD) & High Definition (HD) as well as Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). Much of it is way beyond my understanding, but it seems the kids enjoyed it thoroughly.
Misha reading eNews…
Then we were taken on a tour to the Studio, Server Room & Control Room. We saw the very expensive, fancy equipment that is used for producing television. Whilst in the Control Room 3 students had an opportunity to go back to the studio & do some news reading. With Misha’s history of reading struggles, I was quite surprised when he said he also wanted to read. He has only just mastered Level 3 reading on Reading Eggs & I was quite amazed at his confidence reading to the group & although some of the were a bit difficult for his current reading level, he wasn’t deterred…
We also got a glimpse of the behind the scenes workings of the news channel with a live broadcast in the making.

A huge thank you Lynda, the coordinator of our technology group, for arranging another great learning experience…

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I’ve been receiving electronic version of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine as well as their free e-books for the past year. The articles are very informative & curriculum references have been great. My only problem is not having enough time to get through all the material…
FREE Gift Issue Read It Online Today!
Become a Member
at just $1 for the first month & thereafter $5.95 per month
See an extract from their Members Benefits page below:
“Member Benefits and Privileges
Daily, weekly, and monthly lesson plans and assignments are available 24/7/365 at the all new
1. Members-only access to lesson materials in these subject areas: Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Geography, History, Home Economics, Literature, Math, Music, Reading, Writing . . . and so much more!
2. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine delivered straight to your inbox, monthly.
3. All The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine digital back issues—easily searchable, a fantastic feature that enables you to go directly to articles of interest.
4. The Homeschool Minute™ weekly E-Newsletter.
5. Download all five Schoolhouse Planners—the Parent version (hundreds of pages), all Student planners (3 versions) and the Special Needs planner.
6. 12 E-books from the Schoolhouse Store—one per month during the first year of membership.
7. All available TOS Expo-To-Go recorded sessions—including all future recordings, for the duration of membership.
8. After 12 months of uninterrupted membership, you will receive a $25 gift certificate to the “Totally TOS” section of the Schoolhouse Store.
The 2011-2012 Schoolhouse Planners, filled with scores of articles, helps, tips, calendars, and more—literally hundreds of pages of homeschool helps—are now free and yours to download! Just go to the Schoolhouse Planner page.
Your monthly membership begins today with a $1 purchase! After the first month, your credit card or PayPal account on file will be billed at $5.95 each month. You can cancel anytime if not satisfied.
We think you’ll want to stay, though, because every day, week, and month lesson plans and homework are updated, and more Schoolhouse Teachers and activities are being added each month. (We’ve got the best of the best: Kim Kautzer, Terri Johnson, Adam Andrews, and many more.) Your children will never tire of it! For the price of one fancy coffee per month, your entire family will have unlimited access to everything on the site, including all of the learning materials and worksheets, unit studies like art and history, reading lists, video learning centers, Teacher assignments, the annual TOS Schoolhouse Planners, and the Schoolhouse Expo webinars!
Log in daily and see what’s new! We are happy to have you do your homework with us at! It’s as easy as: Point, Click, Teach.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Making Education History: Beyond the Status Quo

Gray, TN, May 14, 2012, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC — With more than 2 million K–12 students in the U.S. currently being educated at home, the popularity of homeschooling continues to rise. Since 1999, the number of homeschooled students has increased by a staggering 75%, mostly in response to increasing dissatisfaction and frustration with the public school system.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Education recently documented less than a 1% increase in enrollment of K–12 public school students nationwide, but the homeschool population increased by a whopping 7%. Almost 4% (and growing) of our nation’s school-age children are being educated at home.

Research has proven that parents are more than capable of successfully educating their children at home. Surveys of homeschoolers’ academic successes consistently reveal that they score, on average, at the 65th to 89th percentile on standardized academic achievement tests, compared to a national school average at the 50th percentile. Interestingly, according to a recent, nationwide survey of homeschoolers commissioned by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), achievement gaps that are “well-documented in public school between boys and girls, parents with lower incomes, and parents with lower levels of education are not found among homeschoolers.”

Recent studies laud homeschoolers’ academic success, noting their significantly higher ACT-Composite scores as high schoolers and higher grade point averages as college students. Yet surprisingly, the average expenditure for the education of a homeschooled child, per year, is $500 to $600, compared to an average expenditure of $10,000 per child, per year, for public school students.

More than ever, homeschool grads are scoring points with college recruiters. Compared to the overall population of college students, homeschool grads achieve a higher retention rate and a higher graduation rate as they pursue education beyond the training provided by their parents. Dori Staehle, in her February 2012 article, notes that schools such as Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, and Duke are actively recruiting homeschoolers—and offering them scholarships. She cites the characteristics of homeschoolers who have gotten their attention: “These students tend to be exceptionally bright, motivated, and mature. Far from being sheltered and shy (the typical stereotypes), homeschoolers’ applications reflect students who have traveled, taken risks, and studied some pretty intense topics.”

National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) survey results confirm that homeschoolers are “engaged, at least as much as are others, in activities that predict leadership in adulthood” and are “satisfied that they were home educated.” Homeschool graduates are more civically engaged than the general public and demonstrate “healthy social, psychological, and emotional development, and success into adulthood.” Apparently homeschoolers are getting excellent grades on their report cards—both academically and socially!

Based on recent data, researchers such as Dr. Brian Ray ( “expect to observe a notable surge in the number of children being homeschooled in the next 5 to 10 years. The rise would be in terms of both absolute numbers and percentage of the K to 12 student population. This increase would be in part because . . . [1] a large number of those individuals who were being home educated in the 1990s may begin to homeschool their own school-age children and [2] the continued successes of home-educated students.”

Dr. Gary Knowles, a professor at the University of Michigan, conducted a survey of homeschool grads who are now successful adults. He found that “an amazing 96% said if they could do it all over again they would want to be homeschooled. Not a single one was unemployed or on welfare. That is pretty impressive.”

Homeschooling parents have chosen to educate their own kids at home for a myriad of reasons, and many say they are in it for the long haul. It’s a matter of conviction and dedication. And, judging from the current state of the public school system, the answer for thousands of parents in this country is clear and simple: homeschool them.

Are homeschoolers “making education history”? For sure. As did the homeschooling parents of individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, Thomas Edison, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Andrew Wyeth, equipped with parental insight and motivation to see their children succeed academically and socially, today’s homeschooling parents are making education history.


The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine (TOS), the trade magazine for homeschoolers, is making education history in 2012 with the launch of its free apps for Apple, Android, and Kindle Fire. TOS offers a host of ever-expanding tools and ideas to educators—those who teach at home and those who teach in traditional classrooms—who are looking for lesson plans, art and music instruction, and activities for preschoolers through high schoolers—absolutely free. Apps (and everything inside them) can be accessed without cost at

Gena Suarez, Publisher
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Famous Last (Homeschool) Words

by Deborah Wuehler
Recently I was asked to help a family come up with some words for the headstone of their 3-year-old child, who had passed through death to eternal life. In a few words we described the character and nature of this precious little guy. We looked at his whole little life and came up with appropriate adjectives that put his unique persona into word form so others would come to know him too—a few words that summed up a whole life.
Can we sum up in a few words what our life looks like right now? How about what it looked like last year? Typically, when looking back, we see that we have not done all we wanted to do. And, when we look at the present, we see we do not live how we want to live. And yet the hopeful future allows us to look forward to a new year’s clean slate to write better words on.
If your life were required of you today, this moment, what would be the adjectives that describe you right now? What words would your husband, children, friends, and family say? Here is my honest-to-not-so-goodness list of things that could be written about me today:
Unfaithful in her relationship with her God (she could have been more faithful)
Impatient in her relationship with her spouse (she could have been more
Unkind in her relationship with her children (she could have been much kinder)
Judgmental in her relationship with friends and family (she could have shown more mercy and grace)
Scattered in all her doings (she could have been more organized and prepared)
Unfaithful, impatient, unkind, judgmental, scattered—not exactly the words that would make a good epilogue of my life. ­Tese are not the words of life, but rather they are the words of a woman who still has too much death residing in her. What kinds of words should describe my life at any given moment in time? More importantly, what words would God want to hear? How do I get from my earthly words to hearing these heavenly words: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23)?
I believe God wants to say those words to us even more than we want to hear them. Our lives seem to show that fact daily. Thus, He gives us what we need to live a life worthy of those words. His Words of life need to replace my words of death. I must know them to get from here to there. In other words, if I want to hear Him say “well done,” then I should work backwards and determine the meaning of these words: good and faithful servant. What does it mean to be good? What does it mean to be faithful? What does it mean to be a servant of God? These are the things that will cause God to say those famous last words: “Well done.”
Famous Last Word: GOOD
I want to be good: a good Christian, a good mother, a good wife, a good friend, a good teacher. But I am none of these things. Several times, the Bible states that “there is no one good; not one” (see Psalm 53:1–3, Luke 18:18–19, Romans 3:10–12), so then how do we reconcile this lack of goodness in us? How can we be called “good” if there is no one good? If we look at the context of that passage in Luke, you see that Jesus is telling the rulers that if they were calling Him good, they were calling him God, for the only place goodness is found is in Him. It looks to me like they didn’t even understand their own words, let alone what Christ was implying. Can we see the logic here that they couldn’t see: Jesus is good; therefore, Jesus is God, for there is none good but God.
However, a myriad of Scriptures pronounce God’s goodness, so if His Spirit dwells in these earthen vessels, then what they are filled with is His goodness. It’s not that the vessel is good; rather, what is in the vessel is good. Even though we have all sinned, the sin of our vessel is covered in order that we might have the words His righteousness declared over us:
He made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
. . . And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Philippians 3:9). Ah, and here is the crux of the matter: we have no goodness, but He is abundant in goodness (Exodus 34:6). His great goodness covers my great earthiness. His highly exalted righteousness covers my base and lowly nature. His divine nature gives me everything I need for life and goodness through the knowledge of His Son and His Word. So, we can rest in the fact that if Jesus Christ is in us, and His Word dwells in us, then God the Father will look at us and declare that famous last word—good—over us and our lives.
Famous Last Word: FAITHFUL
I am unfaithful, faithless, and faith-challenged. I often live in the opposite of faith: fear. I fear the outcome of the teaching of my students, I fear the lack of strength to do a good job, and I fear the words and judgment of others. I fear myself and the bad example that I am setting. I fear that I am not faithful or good enough. How can I get from this fearful place to the place of faithfulness so that I can hear God apply that description to me? Once again, that faithful word applies to our faithful God, and then through God to me. I can never reach the pinnacle of faithfulness, but He already has:
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations
(Deuteronomy 7:9).
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corinthians 1:9).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
(1 John 1:9).
But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
God’s faithfulness provides us mercy, calls us into fellowship with His Son, forgives us, establishes us, and keeps us from evil. When I understand His faithfulness, then I begin to understand how to be a faithful servant—a servant who is full of mercy, fellowship, forgiveness, stability, and free from evil— just like Him.
Famous Last Word: SERVANT
To really understand what kind of servant God is looking for, we must look at Jesus:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and
took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5–8).
Christ took on the form of a servant, as one commentary states, “. . . without rights, willing to be treated as the will of the Father and the malice of men might decree, if only He might thereby serve men and bring them back to God. And you and I are to be the bond-servants of Him . . . whose disposition is ever that of humility and whose activity is ever that of humbling Himself to serve His creatures. How utterly low, then, is our true position!
How this shows us what it means to be ruled by the Lord Jesus!”1 Here we
must say with the Psalmist: “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant,
and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds” (Psalm 116:16).
To be a servant like Jesus, we must serve by being poured out to serve others. A servant doesn’t grumble about what she is asked to do, because it is her job to do as her Master bids. We must serve others willingly, for it is the Lord Christ we serve. And in case we forget what servanthood looks like, we need only look at Jesus’ poured out life.
We must serve the Lord by teaching our children truth and by fighting against sin, mediocrity, worldly standards, and anti-God philosophies. His goodness and faithfulness will make us good and faithful as we serve Him and instruct our children to do the same. God calls us good, His Spirit makes us faithful, and Jesus shows us what servanthood looks like.
Jesus’ Last Words
When I have to leave the house on an errand, I go to each child and give last words to each one. I give clear direction, caution, and guidance for the time I will be gone. I need to know they heard me, that they understood my commands and are able to do what I asked. Most of all, I need to let them know I love them. In my book, these are important last words. They convey my heart and my commands. In the same manner, Jesus’ last words conveyed His love and His commands, which He wanted us to pay close attention to.
Jesus’ recorded last words were in the form of a prayer to His Father in John 17. These words are what he wanted to figuratively hold the faces and hold the attention of His disciples before He left this earth. The passage makes it clear that His main goal was to show them the Father. (Note to self: my main goal should be to show my kids the Father.) Jesus wanted to show His followers that God’s love for them was equal to the excessive and immeasurable love He has for His own Son. (Note to self: I want to show my children that immeasurable Father love by the ways that I serve and respond to them, by the way I love their father, and by the way I serve others in humility.) Jesus wanted God’s love to be in us
and “I in them”—His divinity taking up residence within our humanity, His very nature within our natural selves. When we finally get a vision of Who dwells within us, we will finally have a passion to allow Him to live out His life and His Word through His dwelling.
May God grant us the determination to stay on course, to keep the vision, to not stray from the path set before us, and to stop looking for rest from service on this side but to keep serving and fighting the good fight of faith until we reach the other side. Good . . . faithful .
. . servant. ­These are the things that are pleasing to God; Jesus is pleasing to God because He embodies those things. God said this about His Son: “­This is my beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). To please God is to be a good, faithful servant like His Son.
Famous Last (Homeschool) Words
Matthew 25 contains several passages about the kingdom of heaven. One of them includes these words: “­The kingdom of heaven . . . . will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. . . .” (Matthew 25:1, 14, ESV). These are the same servants He calls good and faithful. Let’s look at our lives and see what has been entrusted to us as the property of God. We won’t have to look far to see that we have been entrusted with the lives of His property: our children. How will we raise that which is the property of God? Will we raise them to bring forth fruit for their Master or for themselves? Will they multiply His kingdom or just be good at multiplication? I believe they are entrusted to us that they might learn to be good and faithful servants of God just as
we are called to be.
Why are we homeschooling? What’s the big deal? Here’s the deal: God wants the hearts of your children and their children, and He has a bigger purpose for the next generations than we do for their math test tomorrow. We must think in eternal terms as we live out these non-eternal days. We must think not only about what our own tombstones should say but also about what God wants to write on the hearts of His children and ours.
As good, faithful servants of God, we should no longer be caught up in the petty frustrations of the day; rather, we must be wrapped up in the grand design and purpose of God. After all, only God can take an unfaithful, impatient, unkind, judgmental, and scattered woman and write “good and faithful servant” on her heart and life.
What does that look like in your life? It looks like you being obedient to God’s commands to love Him and serve Him and to raise those children of His to know Him. It is to raise them to look higher than higher education—up into the heavenly realm of purpose and design. It’s about writing God’s Word on your heart as you reveal Him to them during science and history and art instruction. It’s about speaking words of life about their true purpose—not merely to be good but to be like Jesus because He was pleasing to God, so that they, too, can hear Him say those famous last words themselves: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into your joy.”
How can you best nurture your children to be faithful servants of their Master? By being a good and faithful servant yourself and following God’s commands as penned in His Word. What is the best environment for this kind of Godly nurturing to take place? The answer is captured in these famous last (homeschool) words: Home Where ­Theey Belong.
Deborah Wuehler is the Senior Editor for TOS, participating author in ­The Homeschool
Minute, wife to Richard, and mom to eight gifts from heaven. She loves digging for buried treasure in the Word, reading, writing, homeschooling, and dark chocolate! You may contact her at
accessed December 14, 2011.
Copyright, 2012. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, January 2012. Read this digital, interactive magazine free by visiting: or read on your Kindle Fire or Apple and Android devices by downloading the free TOS apps.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Steam Train Trip & Cullinan Historical Tour

Yesterday the Jedi Knights Homeschoolers boarded a steam train to Cullinan. This was a great family outing….

We met the Jedis at Hermanstad at 8h30 & after a 2 hour train trip our first stop was Harrie’s Pancakes for something to fill up the holes in the tummies until lunch time. Then we took a walk around town to check out the scenery.

We stopped at Cullinan Tourism & History office. During our one hour tour we learnt more about the town, it’s people, history & diamond mining. Of course all this viewing & learning, left just enough time to visit the Lemon Tea Garden Restaurant for some lunch before heading back to the train for our return trip to Hermansstad at 3pm.

Thank you Maria for arranging this awesome opportunity.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

SAASTA Telescope Building & Science Experiments

2012_0503_115946Today we joined a group of homeschoolers for a field trip at South African Agency for Science & Technology Advancement Johannesburg Observatory.

We left bright & early at 7am for a trip that should have taken half an hour. Google Maps on my Galaxy Note directed us to Innes Street without any hickups by 8am, but finding their premises was no easy task & took us over 30 minutes & made us late for our 8h30 start time.

The kids were split into their different age groups. Our group started with a 45 minute presentation in the planetarium on the stars, planets & galaxies. We were amazed at the wonders of our solar system.

After the planetarium they did an experiment to separate grain DNA. Unfortunately they had only set out 5 experiment stations for a group of over 40 kids so many of them only got to watch.  One of the moms shared a whole lot of info on DNA with the group.

After a short lunch break the kids headed back into the lecture room where they received their materials as well as instructions on how to build a telescope. Everyone was able to take their completed telescope back home with them.

2012_0503_125605One of the workers did a few chemistry experiments for the kids and the little ones where after all the kids had an opportunity to view through a real life telescope. The kids then were able to explore all the exhibits spread out on the 3 floors of the building until it was time for us to head home.

Although the some experienced it as a little disappointing due to improper preparation on their part, the kids still had loads of fun.