Winter Fest at Kickapoo Valley Reserve

We are in the land of ice and snow, so let’s celebrate WINTER!

KVR Winter Festival

The KVR Winter Festival is a wonderful family community event that highlights fun winter activities.  Snow much fun for the whole family — and most of it is Free!

Enjoy outside fun skating, sledding, skiing, and snow-shoeing!

Play winter games, crawl through the snow tube, hunt for hidden treasure.

Watch the chain saw carving demonstration and the Tri-state Malamute Club Sled Dog Race.

Listen to great Storyteller, get your face painted, get warm by a cozy fire.

Learn about winter ecology and animals and take a planet walk.


Ice Cave Hikes,
Horse-drawn bobsled rides,
Mutt Race (you bring the child and dog – they provide the sled and harness!)
La Farge Lions Club chili and bread contest,
Kickapoo Quick Auction.

KVR Winter Festival 2016

Click to enlarge.

Free and open to the public.

Activities are subject to change due to weather conditions.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center
S3661 State Hwy 131
La Farge, WI

KVR Winter Festival 2016

New Leadership for Wisconsin Parents Association


Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA) is a statewide, inclusive, grassroots organization to work with homeschoolers to maintain educational freedom.  Since 1984 WPA has worked to help homeschool families.

News from WPA — new leadership will begin January 1, 2016.

Larry and Susan Kaseman are retiring from their WPA staff positions

Larry and Susan Kaseman have had a long and rewarding experience serving WPA for the past 32 years; Susan as Senior Program Specialist and Larry as Executive Director.

Over the past two years, Larry and Susan have worked with the WPA Board to ensure a successful transfer of the work they have been doing, and are pleased that this effort has been fruitful.

Beginning January 1, 2016, Pamela Roland will be WPA’s President. In
addition to her overall leadership and oversight of WPA, she will have
primary responsibility in the areas of WPA’s public policy, work with
Regional Contacts, legislative work, and conference workshop coordination.
Pamela has been deeply involved with WPA for many years, working closely
with Susan in planning and conducting WPA conferences; doing workshops;
speaking before homeschool support groups; working with WPA’s Regional
Contacts; serving on WPA’s Board; and working with Larry on legislative issues.
Also beginning on January 1, Jen Lynch will be WPA’s Executive Director.
Jen will have primary responsibility for the day-to-day managerial,
administrative, and fiscal operations of WPA. In addition, she will be
taking responsibility for the WPA newsletter, Facebook page, and
fundraising. Jen has been a homeschool support group leader for many years,
presented workshops at WPA conferences, and attended recent WPA Board
meetings. She also brings a wealth of experience in founding and running
small businesses; working with non-profit organizations; and using
sophisticated software programs for databases, accounting, emails,
websites, and page layouts to carry out this work.

2016 finds WPA on solid ground 

Membership has grown, the annual conference has increased to over 800 attendees, donations are up, and more homeschoolers are sharing their time and talents with WPA. WPA will continue to work with a level of moral and ethical commitment to the principles established over the years.
Wisconsin homeschoolers are committed to their families and to homeschooling, which gives a grassroots organization like WPA strength, energy and joy.


Support WPA — they support all of us in so many ways!

Most popular posts of 2015

Our Southwest Wisconsin Homeschool Community is having an impact.

This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2015. Thank you!

There are posts on this blog, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and on our member group that show we are filling a need and helping support our homeschool community.

Our  most popular post has a seasonal flavor and consistently brings viewers from all across the Internet:

The Polar Express – Free Online Read Aloud AND Study Links.

Here are three other examples that have gained a wider influence:

Surf’s Up at Noah’s Ark Waterpark : Report Card Days This Weekend!

5 Ways Homeschoolers Can Learn from Star Wars 
Local Homeschool Groups & Resources

Thank you for being a part of SW Wisconsin Homeschool Community!

Winter edit

Wonders of Physics: Battling the War on Science Illiteracy

Studies have shown time and time again a general lack of interest in science and an overall decline in science literacy in the United States.

Since 1984, the University of Wisconsin – Madison has been active in combating this problem of science illiteracy with their annual Wonders of Physics program. WOP logo

Wonders of Physics covers motion, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, and light in a fast paced, entertaining  show  suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds.

The show has been presented by Professor Clint Sprott, Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Wisconsin, on the Madison campus over 200 times to a total audience of about 70,000.

Physics can be fun…

The Wonders of Physics presentations are held each February in Madison, Wisconsin.  DIRECTIONS

Free tickets are be available after the first of the year.

Better hurry — shows fill up fast and tickets are gone right away!

Nurture your inner Einstein!

Scroll down for a ton of resource links, experiments to try, and videos with Prof. Sprott!!



To check on availability and order your free WOP tickets, click here.

The theme of the program changes from year to year – so even if you’ve been there before, you’ll still find something amazing!

The Wonders of Physics program inspires interest in physics among people of all ages and backgrounds.

Shows fill up fast, order your free tickets now!

If you have attended the show, you can give them feedback so that they can continually improve the shows.

UW-Madison Physics department is also hosting their annual Physics Fair on February 20th from 11 am to 4 pm. It’s free! No ticket required!

More resources courtesy of the Wonders of Physics program are listed below.  Check them out!

Videos are available for purchase or free online streaming here.

Wonders of Physics, Prof. Sprott, UW-Madison - video streaming

You can stream the videos directly to your computer for free by clicking on the links on

Here’s Professor Sprott in action at the 2011 Cairo Science Festival as he talks about sound waves and explains how electricity works by using a Tesla coil to generate very high voltage to create electromagnetic waves in the air.

Resource Links

Just For Kids — Here are some Experiments you can try at home.

Motion Build your own Roller CoasterSpin like an Ice SkaterReaction TimeRandom Walk
Heat Home MeteorologyVortex in a BottleSmoke RingsCollapse a Can
Sound The Doppler EffectBuild a String Telephone
Light Make a Pinhole CameraScience of BubblesMeasure the Speed of Light
Electricity Plasma Ball ExperimentsStatic Electricity
Magnetism Build an ElectromagnetFusion Cookies

Experiments You Can Do At Home from Professor Clint Sprott and the Wonders of Physics
Download a PDF with many different experiments that you can do at home exploring motion, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism and light. You may have heard of Newton’s Cradle, but have you ever heard of Newton’s Beads?
Check out this video of Mike uncovering the science behind this demo.  

More Science Links and Physics Resources from the Wonders of Physics Program:

Home Experiments (pdf)
Download printable version 
UW Space Place: Education and public outreach center of the UW-Madison Astronomy Department
Science is Fun: Educational website for Chemistry from the mind of UW-Madison Chemistry professor Bassam Z. Shakhashiri
Geology Museum: Explore the Geology Museum and take a peek into Wisconsin’s deep history
Institute for Biology Education: Raising the next generation of Biology Scientists
Science Alliance: UW-Madison Science Outreach on Campus
Synchrotron Radiation Center: UW-Madison SRC aiding researchers in their discoveries
Science Friday (SciFri): Weekly science radio show hosted by NPR, Fridays 1-3pm
Wonders of Physics Demonstrations – more information on the physics behind the show
Teacher’s Guide (pdf)- printable information on the physics behind the show
Physics Demonstrations book by Clint Sprott
Database of Physics Demonstrations – from the UW Physics Department
Books of Science Experiments from the University of Maryland Physics Departmenpwtqodfq_400x400t
How Stuff Works
Science Links for other UW Science Outreach Programs

Videos are available for free online streaming here. 

For more information, performance schedule, and tickets visit: Wonders of Physics Home Page

You can also access more information on their Facebook page or subsc
ribe to their 
YouTube page. 

The Wonders of Physics program is made possible by grants from the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences of the United States Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.



5 Ways Homeschoolers Can Learn from Star Wars

star wars episode 7 the force awakensUnless you’re living in a black hole, you‘ve heard about the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens.

With brand new characters, a larger storyline, and ginormous space things, the sense of surprise and adventure in the brand new movie will be pulling people into theaters for some outrageous fun entertainment this month.

{Bonus: Scroll down for a few fun links and free Star Wars themed resources for your homeschool.}


I’m Luke Skywalker. I’m here to rescue you.”

Star Wars
is a classic coming of age story of an idealistic young adventurer, a reluctant hero, a plucky damsel in distress, and the fight between the forces of good and evil. It has achieved the familiarity of the timeless stories of King Arthur, Beowulf, and The Odyssey.

Star Wars was groundbreaking for it’s

The world before Star War was so different than it is now — no cell phones, the space program was over, there were no personal computers and the internet was years away. Even home video had not caught on. We had economic inflation, rising oil prices, political cynicism. Movies themselves were dark and violent.

So, besides light sabers, droids, Jedi knights, the Millennium Falcon, and Yoda …

What can homeschoolers learn from the Star Wars saga?  

obi wanYou’ve taken your first step into a larger world.” ~ Obi Wan Kenobi

Learning is all around you. Let the world be your classroom. You never know when teaching moments may come. Preparing a meal together or running errands are still valid times for learning.

“Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, farm boy.” ~ Han Solo

The rules are yours. Feel free to break out of the box of the traditional education model to make the environment that works best for your family.
You don’t have to restrict schooling to sitting at a desk between certain daytime hours.oct410

“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” ~ Princess Leia

Learn from others who have gone before you in this learning adventure.  Here are few you can trust:  The Old SchoolhouseLee Binz / The HomeScholarJanice Campbell / Everyday Education, Diane Lockman / The Classical Scholar, Felice Gerwitz / Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network


“Laugh it up, Fuzz ball.” ~ Han Solo

Your school day may not go according to your school plan. You can’t schedule sick days, but you can work around them. There will be good days and bad days. Homeschooling is a bit like a roller coaster: Enjoy the ride.

Remember…the force will be with you always.” ~ Obi Wan Kenobi

There is no single right way to homeschool. In the same way that each child (even in your own family) learns differently, your homeschool will look different than others. Have the courage to let go of a curriculum or a schedule when it’s not working. Love is the powerful force that brought you to homeschooling and will follow you through if you just stay the course.

In the end, homeschooling may seem like a series of complicated maneuvers, but in time it’ll come easier than bullseyeing womprats in your T-16.light sabrs


And because I always like to give you a little bit more….

Free Star Wars Homeschool Resources Page


Star Wars Empire of Dreams The documentary of the original Star Wars Movie Trilogy
Get ready for the biggest movie of the decade with this outstanding documentary made back in 2004. This 2 Hrs. 30 Min. documentary covers in chronological order the making of the original Star Wars trilogy: Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and Return of the Jedi (1983). Starting with George Lucas’s promising beginnings as a film student and following through his creative journey to make his vision a reality, this inspiring documentary features interviews with Lucas and his many collaborators who helped make Star Wars a blockbuster movie franchise and a cultural phenomenon. Feel the force and gear up for a journey to a galaxy far, far away with this documentary available on YouTube.


How to Make Your Own Lightsaber –Science Friday looked into one DIY approach, and got some best practice tips from its designer. The project is a quick lesson in building electronics, and provides the opportunity to be creative with your end product.

Might as well make the most of it — Fortuigence give your family’s Star Wars fans the opportunity to play the movie critic by using the film to develop critical thinking and practice writing!

Just for fun — Star Wars Snowflakes templates and video tutorials can be found here.

Cello Wars (Star Wars Parody) Lightsaber Duel – ThePianoGuys

May the Force of Homeschooling Be with You!

50 Years Later, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is Everybody’s Tradition

The story goes that Charles Schultz himself argued with TV network executives to include jazzy theme music, no laugh track, actual children’s voices reading the dialogue, and a simple scripture message to make “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (first broadcast Dec. 9, 1965) become a touchstone for the past 50 years.

Besides the soundtrack, especially the famous theme music known officially as “Linus and Lucy,” which provides some of the best dance moves ever to be seen on TV, the network hated the idea of a religious message in a Christmas TV special.

“If we don’t do it, who will? We can do it.”

Evidently, Charles Schulz insisted on the iconic segment where Linus recites the true meaning of Christmas from the Gospel of Luke – which features no music, no action, and no comedy, just a child quoting from the Bible.

Lights, please?

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night, and lo the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid, and the angel said unto them,

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a savior, tis Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.”


And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts, praising God and saying,”Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

What are some of your family holiday traditions?

Is “A Charlie Brown Christmas” a welcome part of your Christmas?

Register for Six Flags Read to Succeed Incentive Program & get Free Admission

It’s time to register for the 30th anniversary season of the 2015-2016 Read To Succeed Reading program.

The Six Flags Read to Succeed Program is now accepting registrations for the 2015-2016 school year. If you participated last year your online account is still active. You can login and confirm your information is still correct and make any updates, if needed!

If you are new to the program, registration is now open so you can sign up today.

The deadline for logging your student’s reading hours is: March 1, 2016 at 5pm CST.

It takes less than five minutes to reserve your spot, and you have until March 1st, 2016 to enter all of your student names and reading hours.

All you need to do is sign up your students and download your new reading logs.

This is a free program sponsored by Six Flags and it is very homeschool friendly.  Not only are your children (K-6th grade) rewarded for extra reading but you as the homeschool teacher get a free ticket, too!

Can you say affordable family outing next summer? I thought you could.

Register now!

The Hour of Code

In a galaxy far, far away programming droids is something everyone can do.

In 2015, we have the tools to master the digital domain.

Learn about algorithms, how to make an app, or how the internet works with The Hour of Code

Computer programming can be learned early on and is considered by many as fundamental as reading and writing.

Teaching kids to code opens up logic and reasoning, and can give them the experience of creating fun and helpful applications.

“Your child doesn’t have to be computer science engineer. Maybe they want to do something else. But in our world today this is going to be basis for everything we do.”  ~ Math & Science Teacher


Khan Academy has 3 areas of tutorials for the Hour of Code. Hour of Drawing with Code uses JavaScript, one of the world’s most popular programming languages via keyboard-based coding for ages 10+ or drag-and-drop,block-based coding for students ages 8+ with less typing experience or on iPads/tablets. Hour of Webpages: Students will learn to make their own webpages using the basics of HTML and CSS (ages 10+). Hour of Databases: Students will learn the fundamentals of databases using SQL to create tables, insert data into them, and do basic querying (ages 12+)

Algorithms? Loops? Conditionals?

Think computer programming is too hard?

Giving commands to a computer, which is what programming is all about, is just like giving commands to a dog. CodeHS lets you learn how to code with Karel the Dog — a fun, accessible, and visual introduction to text-based programming that teaches fundamental concepts like commands and functions to absolute beginners.

Codecademy is an interactive, student-guided introduction to the basics of CS through JavaScript that’s used by tens of millions of students around the world. We’ve prepared a no-hassle Hour of Code experience with accompanying quizzes, slides, and a completed project for students at the end.

Code Combat lets you defeat ogres to learn Python or JavaScript in Code Combat, an epic programming game!

There’s a whole lot more listed at Computer Science Education Week


No device or internet? Try ‘unplugged’ computer science

Thinkersmith has lessons that use paper and pen, decks of cards, and simple materials to teach children the connection between symbols and actions, as well as the invaluable skill of debugging.

Got PCs with slow (or non-existent) internet access? Download the Blockly tutorials that were the precursor of the tutorials – a single 3MB ZIP file can be loaded onto any computer or used off a memory stick

Kodable designed the fuzzFamily Frenzy to use plain paper as an introduction to programming logic for kids 5 and up.

Project Guts has this “unplugged” activity that helps students learn how modeling and simulation works by having a group of students play different versions of the Rock / Paper / Scissors game, and see the results as different modeling experiments.

So, there you have it.

Now get out there and code!

The ‘Hour of Code’ is a nationwide initiative by Computer Science Education Week to introduce millions of students to one hour of computer science and computer programming.


Meet & Listen to Gloria Home School Choir Recorded Live on WRCO

By now, many of you have heard the Gloria Home School Choir, which is an organization of home-schooled singers ranging in age from 12 years and up.

Since beginning in 2012, the Choir presents concerts in the winter and the spring, singing traditional and classic pieces representative of the Christmas and Easter season.

They connect as one voice to create a joyful noise to glorify God.

It’s a local tradition to feature the Gloria Home School Choir on the WRCO Morning Show. The most recent show was live on Dec. 4th, 2015.

If you are not in the Richland Center listening area, or missed the show, you have a chance to get a taste of the Choir  through the recorded presentation for a limited time.

The recording will be up for one week so you can listen to it now or download the 42 minute interview for later…

Here’s a sample from the show:

gloria christmas concerts

Enjoy a little Christmas spirit and embrace the talents of local community homeschoolers during one of their scheduled Christmas performances:

  • December 11, 2015 7pm Faith Independence Baptist Church, Ontario, WI
  • December 12, 2015 7pm First Baptist Church, Richland Center, WI
  • December 15, 2015 2:30pm, VA Hospital, Tomah, WI
  • December 15, 2015 7pm, United Methodist church, Tomah, WI
  • December 17, 2015 6:30 pm, Hillsboro Library

The concerts are free; however free will offerings will help the choir purchase sheet music.  The director is Dennis Baldridge; accompanist, Jane Baldridge.

Embrace beautiful music, extra joy for the season, and talents of young people.

The Gloria Home School Choir is out to make a powerful sound for Christ.

Call for judges — NCFCA speech & debate tournament National Open, Jan. 7-9, 2016, Oshkosh

Greetings potential community judges representing Southwest Wisconsin Community of Homeschools!

Here’s an opportunity for homeschool parents to serve as judges, and for middle school and high school students to observe.

Over the past several years, the Fox Valley T.A.L.K. Speech and Debate Club has been honored to have individuals from the community come to judge our local and Regional speech and debate tournaments. This year we are so excited to announce that we are hosting a National event for our league.  This tournament will be much bigger and will be host to students from all over the country.    We need your support more than ever!

On January 7-9, 2016, the Fox Valley T.A.L.K. Speech and Debate Club will be hosting a National Open tournament on behalf of the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA) at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  We would be honored to have you judge to help our students learn to communicate effectively through Speech and Debate.

You can pick a single time slot judge, or multiple slots as your schedule allows.  Each round will take about 3 hours of your time. This will include a brief orientation about the events, the round itself, and time to complete your evaluations.  Snacks and/or a light meal will be provided.  No experience is necessary!   Judges must be 18 years or older and out of high school to judge. Community service hours certificates are available.

Our national organization has a website to make registering to judge easy:
To register to judge, go to:
Once you are there, select WI National Open, and follow directions to register.

With 11 separate speech events, and 2 different types of debate, we need around 400 judges for our tournament.  We expect over 300 homeschool students from across the country, along with their families, to attend this national event.

Feel free to forward this information to your friends and colleagues who might be interested in helping us.

If you have any questions, please contact judge coordinator Maria SteenePoorte at

Thank you for your support as we strive to raise the next generation of communicators as leaders in our country!

Maria SteenePoorte