Graceful Envelope Contest

In this era of email, tweets and emojis, seeing a hand-addressed envelope in your mailbox can make any day special.
The Graceful Envelope Contest, celebrates the significance of writing, sending, and receiving letters.

Created originally in 1995 by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum, and now administered by the National Association of Letter Carriers and the Washington Calligraphers Guild, the Contest promotes the art of calligraphy, and celebrates the role of letters in binding people together.

Graceful Envelope Best in Show 2017 by Christy Robb

The “art” of correspondence…

This is a fantastic opportunity for all educators  and art enthusiasts. Some schools use the contest to introduce young people to the lettering arts.

The Graceful Envelope Contest is open to all skill levels and ages – around the world, with three divisions for students grades 1 through 12, and a division for adults. There is no entry fee.

One of Eight Student Winners 2010 Junior Division (Grades 7-12)




 images of 2017 winning entries by High school students for inspiration.


Every year, the call goes out in the Fall with a new theme to challenge entrants to create an envelope that promotes the exchange of letters. Deadline for entries is in March. Winners are chosen based on hand lettering, creative interpretation of the theme and effective use of color and design, including incorporation of postage stamp(s). All contestants are notified in June as to the final status of their entry.

Find new ways to use graphic design, hand lettering and postage stamps to enhance a single envelope. It may be a small canvas, but you are capable of big ideas.

Graceful Envelope 2015 Best in Show by Hannah C. Holder

Graceful Envelope 2015 Best in Show by Hannah C. Holder

Rules and How to Enter
Each entry is done on a stamped envelope, addressed on the front in calligraphy or hand-drawn artistic lettering so as to be delivered through the U.S. Postal Service.  The envelope, which can be handmade or manufactured, will not be opened. The size may not exceed 7 x 9 inches. The 
front of the envelope will be judged; the name and address of the entrant will be listed on the back where it will not be visible to the jurors. Students must indicate their GRADE and may use their teacher’s email and school address.

Entries are judged by interpretation of the contest theme to transform an ordinary envelope into a work of art using calligraphy or artistic lettering to address the envelope. Computer-generated/enhanced lettering, stickers or manufactured rubber stamps, are not permitted.

Although no prizes will be awarded, winners will receive certificates and possible media publicity.

Winners will be exhibited online at and Adult winning envelopes will be exhibited.

See Rules and How to Enter for details.

“The Graceful Envelope Contest expanded in 2005 to include student entries — at the same time that countless school systems were dropping art from the curriculum. Many elementary schools have also discontinued teaching cursive. And, in this era of electronic mail and text messages, rare is the young person who knows how to address an envelope. Perhaps art educators can use the contest to introduce students to addressing an envelope and considering suggested themes in different, creative ways.” – Lorraine Swerdloff Contest Coordinator for the Washington Calligraphers Guild


Laura Days – Pepin

Laura Days 2017 is September 9th and 10th 2017

Here’s a great family event coming up.  I have heard from families who have made the trip several times to attend the “Laura Festival” that it is always well worth the trip. 

“Lots of free activities, demonstrations, and crafts for kids to make.”

“The apple catapult is a hit with kids.”

“Some kids get dressed up in the prairie dresses and suspenders.”

“The fiddle contest is fun to watch. My kids love the Trick and Fancy division.”

Follow the Great River Road, which runs along both sides of the Mississippi for a great day trip that is inexpensive, educational, and fun!
Laura Ingalls Wilder Park & the Pepin Historical Museum are located on State Highway 35.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Days is held every year during the second full weekend in September in the village and surrounding areas of her birthplace, Pepin, Wisconsin.

Pepin, Wisconsin celebrates its distinction as the birthplace of pioneer author Laura Ingalls Wilder and the setting for Little House in the Big Woods every September during Laura Ingalls Wilder Days!  A festival of traditional music and crafts, sunbonnets, quilts, pioneer games, the Pepin Laura Contest, and an old-fashioned small town parade, Laura Ingalls Wilder Days is a destination for family-friendly fun on the banks of the Mississippi River in Pepin, Wisconsin.


See the Events page  for more information.
Download and print the schedule by clicking here.

Schoolhouse Teachers Summer Reading Program … Win Gift Cards …


Summer is an excellent time for diving deep into good books!’s Summer Reading Program is designed to encourage kids to read every day, plus they can enter to win one of two $25 Amazon gift cards.

The more weeks you participate, the more chances you have to win.

Come join the fun!
Contest ends July 31, 2017.

The reading contest begins on June 4, 2017, and ends on July 31, 2017. On July 1 and August 1, 2017, one winner will be drawn randomly from the completed reading logs. Each winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

See site for details.

Shakespeare in the Park. Wisconsin Style!

Shakespeare in the Park. Wisconsin Style!

America’s only traveling Shakespeare in the State Parks troupe, the Summit Players are on the road for the third season with their main man Will and “The Comedy of Errors.”

From mid-June through July, the Summit Players bring Shakespeare out in the open, with free performances as well as free theater workshops at state parks and forests throughout Wisconsin.

All the words in their shows belong to Shakespeare. There are just less of them.

Founded in 2014 by a group of Marquette University theater arts majors, the Summit Players is a seven-member, nonprofit organization whose goal is to eliminate the “Shakespeare is boring” mentality by bringing exciting, unique theatre to people all over Wisconsin.

Their short, “new cuttings” of Shakespeare’s scripts become 75 minutes of mayhem, character switches, and hilarity.

The productions are appropriate for all ages, and their 45 minute workshops, held prior to each show, are aimed at kids and “fun adults” to create a fun and educational “Shakesperience” for all!

Shakespeare out of a trunk”

The focus is on the actors and the words – just like in Shakespeare’s day. Summit Players use minimal costumes and props in their productions, which in the setting of a state park brings out the use of nature in Shakespeare’s plays.

The workshops explore the natural world through the lens of Shakespeare’s words and are designed to alleviate “iambic pentajitters” with games and working with some text. The goal is to use theatre as a learning medium and introduce children to a love of language, communicating, and constructive play, while providing adults with an enjoyable family experience.

No advance registration is needed for either the workshop or the performance.
Just show up at the designated times and enjoy!

COST: Both the performance and the workshop are free. A vehicle admission sticker is required for all vehicles entering the park and can be purchased on site.


New Moves for Girls: Summer Program – La Crosse

The Y Teen Center will be offering New Moves for Girls again this summer and is looking for participants. This free program is designed to increase activity level, improve self-image, and nutrition in 8th-12th grade girls. New Moves provides an environment in which girls can be comfortable being physically active, regardless of their size, shape or skill level. This fun, interactive program will run for 8 weeks with a graduation in the 9th week (totaling 72 hours), June 26th through August 23rd, 2017. Girls receive a free 6 month Y membership as a part of being in the program.

“We have found that a diverse range of girls have benefited from New Moves,” Sarah Johnson, YMCA Mental Health Director says of this program that she has overseen for 7 years. “Girls have reported feeling much healthier and we have seen their social and relationship skills improve dramatically. Typically there is not a dry eye at graduation!”

For more information or to refer, contact Sarah Johnson at 608-519-5497.

Sarah Johnson
Mental Health Director – LA CROSSE AREA FAMILY YMCA
Community Teen Center (La Crosse)
Dahl Family YMCA (La Crosse)
R.W. Houser Family YMCA (Onalaska)
1140 Main St, La Crosse, WI 54601
(P) 608-519-5497 (F) 608-782-9616
(E) (W)
The Y: We’re for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility

An “A” Gets You Free Admission at Noah’s Ark Waterpark During “A Days” 2017

Noah’s Ark Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells, WI, as the self-proclaimed “America’s largest water park” is a favorite summertime treat for families. Many deals and discounts will help you squeeze more fun into your visit. By far, one of the most popular is Noah’s Ark Waterpark’s “Report Card A Days” which is a reward for excellent behavior, preparation and achievement for students.

Noah's Ark DarkVoyage

Any “A” or equivalent grade in any subject on a recent 2017 report card will get a student – from Kindergarten through College – in for Free during A Days at Noah’s Ark Waterpark.

(More details below.)

For 2017 – Report Card Days at Noah’s Ark Waterpark in Wisconsin Dells will be June 11th through June 15th, 2017.
(Regular Park Hours:10 am to 6:30 pm)

Noah’s Ark Waterpark
1410 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin 53965
(608) 254-6351
Get Directions

The weather forecast
may have ups and downs, but don’t let that scare you away. Sometimes when the skies are cloudy and the temps are cooler, the lines for the rides are shorter!

There’s lots to do at Noah’s Ark Waterpark. More than 25 attractions await you, from the water coaster, Black Anaconda, to drifting down Adventure River or splashing around one of the Kiddie Areas, Noah’s Ark is pure family-fun.

What qualifies for a student’s free admission during A Days?

Any A will do!

Show up on the designated days with an official student report card or transcript.

The document must show at least one A grade or the equivalent of an A grade from the most recent 2017 version that they can obtain.

Homeschoolers need to have a “bona fide” report card or transcript showing a grade equivalent to an A. Many parents have used forms found on websites like Donna Young or forms that they use for their record-keeping. What is important is that the document is real and unaltered; it cannot be copied or transferred to another individual or hand-created by the student.

You are only permitted to attend once on the A Days promotion. The report card acts as the admission ticket, so it is valid for one use only. To prevent multiple uses or device transfer, they need to stamp the actual paper report card or printed screenshot with name. Students get in free when presenting their most recent report card featuring any A in any subject!

You must follow the dress code and other rules of the park. No outside food or beverages are allowed inside the park.

Noah’s Ark has over 250 trained and licensed Lifeguards stationed throughout the park to help you have a safe day. They even help you get on rides and provide “splashdown” assistance. Life jackets are available at the wave pools at no charge and are required in the wave pools for those under 48 inches tall.

Parents and relatives will have to pay regular admission in order to enter the park. Admission for the 2017 season is $38.99 Monday through Friday and $41.99 Saturdays and Sundays. admission applies for all guests 48 inches and taller. (There is no discount for those who will not be getting wet.)

Special admission days in 2017 include Grandparents Days (June 10th – 18th) and Fathers Day (June 18th).

Parking has gone up again, and this year will cost you $15 for the day. Or you can get Preferred parking closer to the gate for $20. There are handicap accessible spaces for those with a valid Disabled Person Placard.
Noah's Ark Waterpark

Get your report card and your swimwear, and head out to Noah’s Ark Waterpark for some fun!

Homeschool Days at Valley Fair

Looking for family fun?

Valleyfair near the Twin Cities is the Upper Midwest’s largest amusement park with more than 75 rides and attractions, coasters, rides and slides, the area’s premier waterpark to splash and chill, plus award-winning live entertainment and tasty treats. Your next family adventure is closer than you think!

What more could you want?

How about Valleyfair’s annual homeschool days each spring which offers steeply discounted admission to individual homeschool families?  Yes, please!

Homeschool Days June 2 – 11, 2017 **

Valleyfair is offering a special ticket price of $24+tax/person to all Homeschoolers and their families during their annual Homeschool Days.

Admission includes unlimited access to rides, shows, Planet Snoopy™ and Soak City Waterpark! (There is a per vehicle Parking Fee.)

Download and Print this FLYER  
You’ll need to bring this flyer with you to receive the special homeschool admission rate of $24 (+ tax) per person during Valleyfair Homeschool Days June 2 – 11, 2017.

**Valleyfair will be closed to the public for a private event on Sunday, June 4 *Price is subject to applicable taxes. *Regular Admission is $35 and up.

Present the flyer at any Valleyfair ticket booth on June 2 – 11, 2017 to receive the special rate!

1 Valley Fair Dr.
Shakopee, MN 55379

Aldo Leopold Writing Contest


Here is a writing contest opportunity for high school students to showcase their writing talents, explore the land ethic, and compete for cash prizes!

Wisconsin Aldo Leopold Writing Contest

All students enrolled in grades 9 to 12 in public, private, and home schools in the state of Wisconsin are eligible.
Students must submit original work.
One entry per person.
The essay should be 500 words or less in length.
Submissions must be sent by 11:59 pm on March 17, 2017.
Entries submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Aldo Leopold is best known for writing A Sand County Almanac (1949), in which he articulates his vision of a “land ethic” – that people come to “see land as a community to which we belong” and learn to “live on a piece of land without spoiling it.”

As a work of great literature, A Sand County Almanac powerfully reshapes our understanding of the relationship between people and land. The Wisconsin Aldo Leopold Writing Contest uses Leopold’s ideas to inspire students to participate in the evolution of the land ethic through the written word.

2017 Writing Contest Topic

The topic for the 2017 Wisconsin Aldo Leopold Writing Contest is based upon Aldo Leopold’s “Land Ethic” essay from A Sand County Almanac:

Tell us the story of a local leader who exemplifies Leopold’s land ethic

You may interpret “local” as someone who lives as nearby as your own neighborhood, or who resides and works elsewhere in Midwest region of the United States.

To be successful, you will need to read and understand the “The Land Ethic” essay in A Sand County Almanac and convey that understanding in your writing.

Download “The Land Ethic” essay in PDF format:

DOWNLOAD “The Land Ethic” essay Reprinted from A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC by Aldo Leopold (1968): “The Land Ethic” (pp. 201-226).

Participants are also encouraged to explore other 
writings by Aldo Leopold as part of your preparation and become involved with a local Leopold Weekend celebration, happening throughout Wisconsin from March 3 to 5, 2017.


All students enrolled in grades 9 to 12 in public, private, and home schools in the state of Wisconsin are eligible. Students must submit original work. One entry per person.


The essay should be 500 words or less in length.

All essays must be typed in 12 pt font, double spaced, and submitted electronically. If you run into trouble submitting your essay online, please contact .gro.dlopoelodla@tsetnocgnitirw

The writer’s name may not appear anywhere on the manuscript to allow for blind judging.


Submissions must be sent by 11:59 pm on March 17, 2017. Entries submitted after the deadline will not be considered.


Contest winners will be notified in May 2017, and will receive the following:

  • Three winners from 9th-10th grade: $300 each
  • Three winners from 11th-12th grade: $500 each

Writing contest winners will also receive copies of A Sand County Almanac, and memberships to the Aldo Leopold Nature CenterInternational Crane Foundation, and the Aldo Leopold Foundation.

An awards ceremony will take place at the Leopold Center in Baraboo, WI, on Saturday, May 20, 2017.

Winning essays will be featured on the Leopold Foundation website and may also be printed in The Leopold Outlook, the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s member magazine.

Student and Teacher Resources

Would you like to explore this year’s essay topic in depth with your students? We’ve compiled these resources and lessons for teachers as a guide.

Readings and lessons on the land ethic:

View the winning essays from the 2016 writing contest:

Download a flyer to print and share!

Contest Sponsors

The 2017 Wisconsin Aldo Leopold Writing Contest is presented by:


Aldo Leopold writing at the Shack. Photo: Aldo Leopold Foundation




Wisconsin Spring Primary 2017: DPI Superintendent Race

Wisconsin voters will go to the polls Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 to choose which two candidates will compete for the top post at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in the general election on April 4th.

Voter turnout is expected to be low, because it’s a “Primary” and this is the only race on the ballot in many townships – – so your vote has more weight.

Incumbent Tony Evers, seeking a third term, is being challenged by two longtime educators: Lowell Holtz, a former teacher, principal and superintendent; John Humphries, a former administrator turned consultant; and Rick Melcher, a Racine math teacher running as a write-in candidate.

The position of State Superintendent is a four-year term and will put one of them in charge of the all Wisconsin school districts including the potential to diminish local control of school boards in five of the largest school districts.

Here’s some information about the candidates for Wisconsin DPI State Superintendent and specifically regarding homeschooling…

From the Wisconsin Family Council: Race for Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction is Critical.

From the La Crosse Tribune: Public versus private: Evers faces Humphries, Holtz for state superintendent, Three challenge Tony Evers for the state’s top schools post.

From the Wisconsin State Journal: State superintendent candidates call each other liars,
State superintendent candidate: Challenger offered 6-figure job to drop out of race.

From Stop Common Core in Wisconsin: Recommendations for DPI Primary

In as much as every child learns differently, every child deserves an educational option that works best for them. Parents who wish to remain in control of their child’s education need a strong advocate for educational freedom. If you choose homeschooling as the best option, you should
look for the public instruction superintendent to be supportive of that choice.

Decisions made now effect everyone’s future.

More on the candidates:


Wonders of Physics: Battling the War on Science Illiteracy *Annual Presentation * AND Resource Links

pwtqodfq_400x400Studies 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 Wonders of Physics program.

The Wonders of Physics is a non-profit public outreach group operation out of the University of Wisconsin – Madison Physics Department. They present fun physics shows for schools, organizations, and community groups, covering the basics of motion, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, and light in a fast paced, entertaining show suitable for people of all ages and backgrounds.
WOP logo

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.


The 34th annual presentation of The Wonders of Physics will be held in 2103 Chamberlin Hall (1150 University Avenue) at the following dates and times:

Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm
Sunday,   February 12, 2017 at 1:00 pm,  4:00 pm
Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm
Sunday,   February 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm, 4:00 pm

Free tickets are now available for all shows and can be obtained by:
Web: (preferred)
Phone: 608-262-2927
Be sure to specify the show you prefer and the number of tickets.

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

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.
Use the On-Line Ticket Form, call (608) 262-2927 or e-mail.

UW-Madison Physics department is also hosting their 10th annual Physics Fair on Saturday, February 18th from 11 am to 4 pm. It’s free! No ticket required!
The Physics Fair will feature hands-on activities, demonstrations, and lab tours.

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.

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.