Nationwide Homeschool Writing Contest

UPDATED Nov. 17, 2014 Message from Gwen:

Dear Fellow Homeschooler,

I’m thrilled to announce that for the third year in a row I will be hosting a Nationwide Homeschool Writing Contest on my blog, “Philadelphia Homeschool”.  The contest is for any child currently being homeschooled (either traditional or virtual charter school) in the U.S. in grades 3 through 8.
This week is the last week of the Contest!  Stories must be postmarked by this Saturday, November 22nd!
Students will use this story starter to create a story of their own:
__(Character Name)____  looked around, but realized with a sudden dread there was no way out.  He/She was trapped! 
God has graciously given us sponsors who are donating some fantastic prizes.  These include gift certificates to the Institute for Excellence in Writing, Subscriptions to, writing curriculum (courtesy of Peace Hill Press) and gift cards to, Toys R Us, & Barnes & Noble.
More details about the contest can be found by clicking on this link to my Philadelphia Homeschool blog:
Please feel free to let your friends and homeschool network(s) know about the contest.  Last year’s contest was a great success, and I look forward to an even greater response this year.
May God continue to bless your homeschool adventure!
Gwen Fredette
(Philadelphia Homeschool Blog)
P.S. If you’d like to check out past year’s winning stories, please click on one or more of the following links:

Gwen Fredette writes for the blogs “Philadelphia Homeschool” and ‘U Read Thru History”.  For the third year in a row she is hosting a nationwide homeschool writing contest.  It’s for grades 3 through 8, is free to enter, and the sponsors are donating wonderful prizes for the kids.

Here’s a link to the contest page: She also has a link on her “U Read Thru History” site:

Help get the word out to as manyhomeschoolers as possible. Please tell all your homeschool friends about the Homeschool Writing Contest.“PHB” Homeschool Writing Contest!!! 2014  phbwritinglogo

“PHB” Philadelphia Homeschool Blog

I’m thrilled to announce that I’m hosting my third annual Nationwide Homeschool Writing Contest!  Here’s the details:

For Who:  Any child currently being homeschooled (either traditional or virtual charter school) in the U.S. in grades 3 through 8.

How to Enter:  

1)  Read and abide by the Contest Rules.  Please click here to obtain the rules: Writing Contest Rules

2.) Write a story of 1000 words or less, beginning with this starter:

___(Character Name)____  looked around, but realized with a sudden dread there was no way out.  He/She was trapped! 

Where was your character trapped?  In a pit?  In a closet?  In a lie?  In Medieval Europe surrounded by fire-breathing dragons?  What or who is your character?  Yourself?  Another person?  A puppy?  A bug?  An alien from an alternate universe?  Tell us about it!

3.)  Fill out and mail in your entry form and story.  Please click here to obtain the entry form: 2014 Entry Form Writing Contest

Deadline:  All entries must be post-marked by Saturday, November 22nd.

Where to Send Story:  Please see “Writing Contest Rules” for details.

Categories:   Entries will be separated into 3 categories:

  • Grades 3 & 4
  • Grades 5 & 6
  • Grades 7 & 8

Prizes:  1st, 2nd, & 3rd prizes will be given for each category.

1) 1st prize:

2.) 2nd prize:

3.) 3rd prize:

All entrants: will receive a certificate for participating in the contest.

Winner Notification:  Winners will be notified by email in December, 2014

Judging:  See panel of judges listed here.

Special Thanks to the Sponsors who helped make this contest possible!





Pump House Art Workshops for Homeschoolers

The Pump House Regional Arts Center located in La Crosse has an exciting list of Fall Workshops, which were created especially to make art accessible to homeschool students, ages 6 to 18.

Students can enroll in just the sessions they like.

Classes offered include everything from printmaking, sculpture, and collage to drawing, watercolors, and pastels.

Pump House instructor Ben Alberti guiding Paint & Pour students through a painting of the Big Blue Bridge.

Fall Workshops are held on Wednesdays, October 15-November 19.

You may enroll in one, many, or all.

Cost: $10 – $12 for each student workshop.

For class descriptions, dates and times, and enrollment information, click here: Workshops

For more information or to enroll, please call the Pump House at 608.785.1434, or email

This is a great opportunity for homeschool youth to participate in the arts community.   The Pump House hopes to encourage participation in the arts among youth by providing creative outlets in a positive learning environment.

Classes will meet in the Pump House Front Gallery, where instructors will be waiting to guide students to the workshop area.

The Pump House is located in the heart of Historic Downtown La Crosse at 119 King Street.

The Pump House is a non-profit organization founded in 1977, with the mission to: Enhance the quality of life in the region by maintaining the Pump House as a cultural center; and by promoting a wide range of visual and performing arts activities including performance, participation and appreciation.

Weekly Update: Fri., Oct. 10th

Just a short note, before you unplug for this beautiful weekend…

This weekend has four (4!) terrific annual events in our area that we have posted about on this blog before.

Plus at the bottom there’s a documentary called The MYSTERIES OF THE DRIFTLESS, that’s being shown this weekend in Viroqua.

Did you miss these events?
SWisc Calendar Oct. 2014
SWisc Calendar Sept. 2014


Gathering of Rogues & Ruffians Renaissance Faire in New Glarus
Click the link for original article.

 Creation Conference


and Animal Kingdom Day at Living Waters in Westby.

Click the links for information.



Civil War Heritage Weekend Norskedalen in Coon Valley

Click the link for original article.

Plus a free screening of the film
“Mysteries of the Driftless” in Viroqua


More details on these (and other events) are included on our calendar page.
Go check it out!

We’re so grateful for you!  Have a wonderful weekend, enjoy the outdoors and spend time with your loved ones.

Webucator Announces New Homeschooling Training Program

The CEO of the company,Webucator, is beginning to homeschool his 7th grade daughter next year.  In searching for curriculum, he couldn’t find a lot of great free online software and web development courses.

AsWebucator specializes in this kind of training in the corporate world, they know how valuable these skills are. So, they’ve decided to make all of their self-paced courses available for free tohomeschoolers.This includes courses on web development (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc.), Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc), Photoshop, Dreamweaver and many others.

According to Bob Clary, community outreach for Webucator: “To date, we’ve had over 1,000 homeschooled students participate and looking for more.”

To register for a course, all you need to do is:
  1. Go to Webucator’s Self-paced Courses page.
  2. Browse through the courses.
  3. Click the Order Now button next to the course.
  4. Enter HOMESCHOOL for the Coupon Code and click Validate Coupon.
  5. Complete the registration.
  6. For any registration questions, simply email:
That’s all there is to it.The courses are self paced, so students will need to have some discipline to get through them, but one of the great things about homeschooling is that it helps kids develop this kind of discipline.It’s important for homeschool students to learn technical skills like programming and web development. Even parents can jump in and learn something new.

The courses are designed so that each activity builds on the previous activity, and each lesson builds on the previous lesson.Webucator’s courses willhelphomeschoolersdevelopmuch needed skills for their future.Plus, a lot of this stuff is just fun to learn!Go give it a look and see if this free online opportunity can help you and your homeschool this year.

Be sure to let me know how it goes, by dropping a comment here!

Conservation Poster and Photo Contests


NACD Close Up Conservation Photo Contest Winner 2013

National Conservation Poster, Speaking, and Photo Contests

The National Association of Conservation Districsts (NACD) and the NACD Auxiliary annually partner to host the National Poster Contest and the Photo Contest.

Contests provide an excellent opportunity for students to enjoy healthy competition while learning about conservation.

Each area has a local district that sponsors the area contests. Not all districts sponsor Poster, Photo, and Speaking Contests.  Please check over all the contests and details. You’ll need to contact your local conservation district for entry information on each of the contests. Depending on your local area conservation district, the deadlines and entry requiremnts may vary.

2015 Poster Contest

2015 NACD Conservation Poster Contest

The annual National Conservation Poster Contest provides K-12 grade students an opportunity to convey their thoughts about soil, water and related natural resource issues through art.

The contest is open to public, private or home school students. Each year, the poster contest starts at the district level. Individuals and teachers with questions regarding district contests should contact their local district. 

<– * Here’s the link for the Wisconsin  NACD County Offices. *

The top posters in each district for each age category will go on to the state competition, and could even go on to the national competition and win cash prizes!

The posters can use any 2-dimensional media and must be between 8.5″ x 11″ and 22″ x 28″ in size.  “Local Heroes – Your Hardworking Pollinators” must be somewhere on your poster.  Have fun creating!


2015 Poster Contest Theme: Local Heroes – Your Hardworking Pollinators
Poster Categories by grade:          K-1         2-3         4-6         7-9         10-12
The contest is open to public, private or home school students.
Local districts or states may have different categories or rules for their contest.
Rules and Resources for 2015 Conservation Poster Contest
List of rules. |PDF|
List of resources. |PDF|
What Makes a Good Poster? | PDF |
National Visual Arts Standards
Logo in jpeg or tif/gif - Local Heroes Your Hardworking Pollinators

Vernon County residents, please contact  Sarah McDowell at  by or before December 1, 2014 if you have any interest in this fun conservation Poster Contest opportunity.  The posters will be due to the Vernon County Land & Water Conservation Department office on Friday, January 23rd  and the state competition is the first week of March.  2015 Poster Contest Entry Form
* UPDATE 10/02/14 —  In addition to the Poster and Photo contests, in Vernon County, there is an option for 5th-12th grade students to participate in a Conservation Speaking Contest.
Vernon County Conservation Speaking Contest
2015 Vernon Speaking Contest Guildlines
Entry Form

2014 Conservation Photo Contest Winner Youth (Lake County SWCD)

2013 Conservation Photo Contest Winner Youth, Indiana


Photo Contest




A picture can be worth even more than a thousand words. Good photographs can lend a helping hand to numerous projects: they strengthen publicity for a fund-raiser, make a newsletter more appealing and reveal the beauty of wetlands to children. The Photo Contest recognizes effective use of photography.

This contest is open to any amateur photographer of any age. Enter up to 5 total photos per person in the following four categories: Conservation Practices, Close Up Conservation, Conservation in Action, and Ag/Conservation Across America.  All photos must be taken within your district.

The top three in each age category will receive a prize and will move onto the National Competition.

Vernon County Residents: Vernon County Land & Water Conservation is offering the Conservation Photo Contest this year.  This is a great way to get your students outside so they can catch a snapshot of the beauty of nature and farming that is all around us!  All photos are due by November 1, 2014. All photos must be taken in Vernon County, WI so we can showcase conservation in our area of the state. Contact Sarah McDowell <> for the forms and details for Vernon County.
2014 Vernon Co. Photo Contets Entry Form
2014 NACD Photo Contest Details

Conservation Photo Winner 2015 1st Place, Youth, Illinois

2013 Conservation Photo Winner, Youth, Illinois

LIVE Virtual Field Trip to Alcoa Aluminum Manufacturing Plant

Celebrate National Manufacturing Day with a fascinating interactive LIVE Virtual Field Trip to Alcoa Davenport, a high-tech aluminum manufacturing plant on the banks of the Mississippi River. See where the wings for Air Force One are built as well as the new technology being utilized to make cars lighter and more fuel-efficient.

Celebrate National Manufacturing Day with a fascinating interactive LIVE Virtual Field Trip to Alcoa Davenport, a high-tech aluminum manufacturing plant on the banks of the Mississippi River. See where the wings for Air Force One are built as well as the new technology being utilized to make cars lighter and more fuel-efficient.  
Alcoa Foundation and Discovery Education invite you to join the LIVE Virtual Field Trip on October 3rd at 1PM EST / 10AM PST when students will be given an exclusive tour of the plant and introduced to Alcoa employees who will showcase cutting-edge technology and share the STEM-related passions that led them to pursue advanced manufacturing careers. Alcoa Davenport Works Director of Manufacturing, Rob Woodall,will answer student’s questions live.
Submit your questions here to be answered during the LIVE event.
Prepare for the Virtual Field Trip and Career Fair with the Manufacture Your Future resources

Remembering Ben Logan…

“Once you have lived on the land, been a partner
with its moods, secrets, and seasons, you cannot leave.
The living land remembers,
touching you in unguarded moments, saying,
‘I am here. You are part of me.’”
~Ben Logan (1920-2014)
The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and Its People, 1975

Author Ben Logan relaxes in his old family farmstead near Steuben in Crawford County in 2006 Photo Credit-Gary Porter, Journal-Sentinel

GAYS MILLS – Ben Logan, the author of the memoir “The Land Remembers,” died very peacefully on Sept. 19, 2014, in Viroqua. He also wrote “Christmas Remembered,” “The Empty Meadow,” and other works.  “Ben was born in Seneca in 1920. He grew up on a ridge top farm his mother called “Seldom Seen.” He spent most of his life away from Wisconsin, but carried Seldom Seen and the people who were part of it with him wherever he was. In his writing, Ben brought the stories and feel of a place he loved to many thousands of readers. It was his hope that readers could carry this feeling beyond one small corner of Wisconsin, to build a broader appreciation and care for the land and its people.”

“Ben’s writing about the land had a touch of romance – but it was never sentimental. He had the hard, honest insight of someone who grew up knowing how a falling tree limb could kill a person, how the wind bit on a long winter day of working outside. There is a small valley – Ben called it Lost Valley – running southeast from the farm house at Seldom Seen. Ben often told the story of a time when he was wandering there as a boy, hearing the distant cry of a wolf, finally seeing it loping across the valley, paying him no attention – raw, solitary, majestic nature. And so the boy, who saw the last wolf through the blowing snow down in Lost Valley, is going home for the last time. ”   Read more

“Ben Logan leaves a legacy of both words and actions.  That legacy will live on in the land and farm he worked to protect. And it will live on in the stories he told of the family farm and stories told by the generations to come who will farm the land.  In his obituary, Logan’s family writes that his connection to the land and his community were two things that helped him survive his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II. When he was in college, Logan studied under the preeminent conservationist of the time, Aldo Leopold, who Logan said bristled against his emotional attachment to the land.”  Read more.

The family suggest memorials be made to Valley Stewardship Network .
Services will be held Oct. 26, 2014 at the Gays Mills Community Center. Visitation will be held from 2 to 3 p.m., when a celebration of life begins.

Seldom Seen Farm, the beloved ridgetop landscape in Wisconsin’s southwestern corner that was the setting of the “The Land Remembers,” will be forever protected as part of an agreement signed with the Mississippi Valley Conservancy.

‘The Land Remembers’ still resonates with readers

Caroline Beckett, publisher with Itchy Cat Press of Blue Mounds, said her organization became the eighth publisher of the book in 2006. “‘The Land Remembers’ continues to interest and affect readers from all over,” she said. “We get many orders from book clubs, bookstores and individuals curious about life on Seldom Seen hilltop farm in the Kickapoo River valley of southwestern Wisconsin. Logan’s connection to the land and nature’s rhythms are a welcome relief to today’s wired and jangling world.”  Read more.


Living Books for Education

“The Land Remembers” is what educator Charlotte Mason would call a “living book”.A living book is a “whole” book,  one rich in thoughts and nutrition – with ideas that reach out to you.   A living book feeds the spirit, without having to be highly spiced or  dumbed-down for the masses.

A few years ago, we used “The Land Remembers” in our homeschool studies in a unit on local Wisconsin history.  I have since heard that local high schools used it in their Literature classes.

Maybe it’s time for us to pull it back out and give it another reading.

Some friends of ours hiked down to Lost Valley four years ago when it was put in the Mississippi Conservancy, and met Ben Logan there, even took photos of him with their kids…
For those of you near Seldom Seen Farm, relish your part of the land and the memories.And please be gracious in directing strangers looking for it’s location.

It may be just a homeschool family on a field trip finding their way to Lost Valley to be immersed in the land.

The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and it's People: Ben Logan

The Land Remembers by Ben Logan Book Photo: Stock Image

“The Land Remembers: The Story of a Farm and its People” by Ben Logan is the heartwarming autobiographical story of Logan’s early life in the 1930s on Seldom Seen Farm, located on a hard-to-reach ridge near Gays Mills in Crawford County. The book, originally published in 1975, has an eighth edition released in 2006 with an afterword from Logan.

The New York Times Book Review:
“What drew me so irresistibly through The Land Remembers?… You feel nostalgia when the details of the world are so precisely concrete and right that by the time the author tells you his own reactions to that world you feel you already know it just about as well as he does. . . . It’s not nostalgia for my own past that The Land Remembers made me feel; it’s nostalgia for a world he makes me wish I’d known.”

Hoard’s Dairyman
Book Review: “This book creates an urge to go back to the time that author Ben Logan references. Logan grew up in the southwest Wisconsin hill country. After a strong career writing in New York City, he returned to his home and now resides in Viroqua at the age of 90. The Land Remembers explains what life was like in the “driftless area,” where the glaciers were unable to flatten the land to resemble neighboring Iowa and Illinois.”

Book reviews of The Land Remembers were originally posted in 2011.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve Fall and Winter Workshops for Homeschoolers

Here’s an outstanding opportunity for area homeschoolers.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve’s Fall and Winter Workshops!

These interactive hands-on programs are taught by experienced instructor/naturalists.

Workshop sessions are geared foe K – 3rd graders and 4th grade and up.

Two programs for each age level (K-3 and 4th and up) will run twice each afternoon.  Each child will participate imageget (2)in both afternoon sessions offered for their age level.  You may register your children for any or all Fridays.

You choose the workshops by date – based on what works for your schedule or the interest of your child. Each date can accommodate approximately 35 K-3rd grade children and 35 4th grade and up.  Programs will be filled on a first-come-first-served basis.

Most programs will have an inside and outside component so please make sure that children dress for being outside in winter weather.

Homeschool Fridays are a great way to experience hands-on science, nature and other cultural programs, receive help on projects and research, and network with other homeschooling families!

You may register your children for any or all Fridays. 12:15 pm – 3:45 pm.
Fee: $8/Child/Afternoon.

Please be sure to read this Parent Letter before your programs begin.

New this Year!  Natural Play Areas:  Parents and children under 5 years of age can also join KVR staff each Friday for guided exploration of natural play areas  which provide interest-led, inquiry-based play opportunities.  Children use their imaginations, creativity, hand-eye coordination, balance, and physical strength to build tiny elfin towns, bake in the mud kitchen, play nature music, climb over logs, swing on ropes and balance on stumps.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE:  September 26 (for October programs) and January 23 (for February programs).

Class descriptions and fee details are HERE.

Please click here to print a registration form.  Mail the completed form along with payment to Kickapoo Valley Reserve.

Scholarships available; contact the Reserve.

Homeschooling: A Growing Option For Many in Wisconsin – One Family’s Story

1.5 million students across the country are homeschooled



“After completing second grade at a traditional school, Bronwyn asked her parents if she could be homeschooled because she didn’t feel challenged in class and was bullied outside of class.”

Homeschooling isn’t on the fringe of education choices any longer. In fact, it seems to be growing in popularity across the country. The Department of Education estimates the number of homeschooled students has grown at about 7% a year for the past 10 years.

A few weeks ago, SW Wisconsin Community of Homeschools was contacted by Lisa Klein of WKBT-TV Channel 8 in La Crosse, to help her find a family to interview for a news story about homeschooling.  We surveyed local homeschool families and gave Lisa our nominees.  Here’s the story that ran on the La Crosse News last night…

Assignment: Education – Home Schooling
Author: Lisa Klein,


Stephanie Hicks had thought she wouldn’t have the patience to homeschool their children.  “We thought. okay we’ll give it a whirl and if we don’t like it we’ll stop. And here we are going into five years.”

The Hicks children are part of nearly 20,000 homeschool students in Wisconsin.

(UPDATED 09/22/14: The video implies that homeschooling is increasing, however the statistics show the percentage of home-based students has been dropping since a peak in 2002; with 2013/2014 figures at 19,104, or 1.89% of the total school population.)

After five years, homeschooling is still working out well for the Hicks family.

The homeschool option.

How’s it going for your family?


“Go Slow”: How Does Net Neutrality Affect Your Homeschool?

Would it make a difference to you if your homeschool day was interrupted by slow internet?

We’ve all been frustrated by trying to load something and instead getting the spinning wheel of death. But what if the reason for the delay wasn’t just a crummy Wi-Fi or DSL and was instead the issue of net neutrality!

Ever wonder what would happen if everyday websites, like this blog for instance, were forced by deep pocketed mega communication companies to run in the “slow lane” of the internet?

Now, I’m not saying this blog makes any great difference to your daily life, but it makes me positively cranky when I can’t get a simple recipe or check the weather forecast quickly.

“Net neutrality— the idea that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data that travels over their networks equally—got major attention this Spring when the FCC released proposed regulatory guidelines that left Internet users and companies alike deeply concerned. The proposal included new language giving ISPs leeway to create a “fast lane” for certain websites (i.e. websites with deep pockets that were willing to shell out more money for faster access to users).

But you can’t have a fast lane without also having a slower lane. And that means everyday websites—including journalistic websites and start-up companies that could compete with established web services—could be slow to load, even as our expectations for loading speed leap ahead in the coming years.” Source

What about all the online curriculum that you use for daily homeschool purposes?

Many of us use free online content for regular homeschooling, like Khan Academy, Homeschool Freebie of the Day for instance.


And I can’t help wonder how this idea could change the educational courses and curricula we purchase from homeschool companies that are delivered by the internet…

At best I think, it’s going to make a difference in the price we will all have to pay down the road.

Have you checked into any of this? What are your thoughts?