Creative Communities Art Canvas Project

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than [one] seeks.”
Canvases are still available for your artistic interpretation…

La Crosse Compassion Project

The Creative Communities Art Canvas Project is an art project involving 350 artists of all ages and talents from area communities.

Participants receive a 6-inch-by-6-inch art canvas to artistically interpret the following nature quote.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than [one] seeks.”

John Muir

Canvases have been distributed to area schools.
The general public can be picked up canvases at the following locations:

Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center
Cashton Memorial Library
Gays Mills Public Library
Hillsboro Public Library
La Farge Lawton Memorial Library
Norwalk Public Library
Ontario Public Library
Readstown Public Library
Soldiers Grove Pubic Library
Viola Public Library
Viroqua Chamber Main Street
Westby Bekkum Memorial Library
Wilton Public Library

Canvases must be registered online and returned to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve (KVR) Visitor Center by March 3rd. The canvases will be exhibited at the KVR Visitor Center March 7-28.

The grand opening be will in conjunction with the Creative Communities Art Demo & Sale at the KVR Visitor Center on Saturday, March 7th from 10 am – 4 pm. The exhibit is a fundraiser for the KVR Education & Events Program. The canvas will be ultimately sold through an online silent auction.

Creative Communities Art Event
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Creative Communities Art Event
Saturday, March 7th

10:00 am – 4:00 pm

The public is invited to attend a day of viewing and discussing art with a wide range of talented area artists. Ask questions, see work in progress and purchase a gift of artwork for a friend or something special and unique for yourself. The following artists will be in attendance. More artists will be added to the list.

Buzz Balzer, Cashton – Oil Paint
Christine Bengston, De Soto – Mosaics

Gary Bengtson, De Soto – Stained Glass
Daniel Gilbertson, Viroqua – Leather Work
Hans Gill, Seneca – Metal Sculpture
Jack Hill, La Farge – Photography
Barbara Kettner, Viola – Watercolor Paint
Daryl Skrupky, Viroqua – Colored Pencil
Jennifer Terpstra
, La Crosse – Watercolor Paint


Graceful Envelope Contest

There’s No Place Like Home

More than just a dwelling place, home is something special and personal. What means “home” to you?  The smell of your favorite meal being prepared… the laughter of children playing outside… the way your mom decorated the house for the holidays… The Graceful Envelope Contest is your chance to convey that feeling artistically by addressing an envelope to illustrate what home means to you. GracefulEnv-title Educators and Art enthusiasts:
Washington (DC) Calligraphers Guild and the National Association of Letter Carriers, hold the annual Graceful Envelope Contest, open to all ages, with three separate categories for children.

There is no entry fee.
Entries will be accepted in the following categories: Adult, Grades 9-12, Grades 5-8, Grades 1-4.
Entries must be postmarked no later than Monday, March 30, 2015, and addressed artistically by hand to:
The Graceful Envelope 100 Indiana Ave. NW Washington, DC 20001
See for complete rules.
This year’s theme: There’s No Place Like Home

GracefulEnvelope 2011 winning envelope by Julie Gray

Graceful Envelope 2011 winning envelope by Julie Gray

This year’s challenge is to create an envelope to illustrate what HOME means to you and address it artistically. Deadline is March 30. There is no entry fee. You can view winning student envelopes from past contests. Now in its 21st year, 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


The Graceful Envelope Contest – click the image to enlarge it.

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HTML 101 for Kids: Basics of Web Programming Free 14 Lesson Course

 “Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer…because it teaches you how to think.”
~ Steve Jobs, Founder, Apple

Imagine the power of taking a blank computer page and being able to create whatever you want out of it.

or Awesome?

In this online class, Frazier O’Leary, a former Northern Virginia High School teacher, computer consultant, and homeschooling father to two children in Alexandria, VA  will introduce your children to the basics of the HTML, using HTML “tags” to create and design Basic Web Pages.

The course is open to any students 9 years old and up.

Parents can sign up to take the classes too!

(Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?)

Students will learn:

  • Basic HTML Tags
  • Understanding of fundamentals of Web Design and Internet Pages

All you need to do is to pre-register here.

The class will go live on Monday, March 2nd, 2015.

A new lesson will be available each day after that for the next 3 weeks; students can catch up and review missed lessons on their own schedule.


Here’s the link for more information or to pre-register.

Not Ready For This Class? Want Info about Future Classes?

(Click Here)

(This article originally posted in August. 2014.)

Homeschool Teen Dances Scheduled for Gays Mills

More of those fabulous dances that have been happening in Gays Mills have been scheduled for the coming months!

dancer1 dancer2Here’s the general rundown of the anticipated dates and themes — the rules (dress and conduct) are shown below as well. The schedule shown here is subject to change if need be.

We’ll try to keep you updated, but your best bet is to check with Melanie (the best teen dance organizer in the area) if you have any questions about the dances.

-Formal dress will be required for this dance. Couples are allowed.

-Semi-formal attire is encouraged for this karaoke / dance event.

MAY 23RD “Rock Around the Clock” – 50’S DANCE
-The last 50’s dance was such a hit that we’ve decided to have another. Attire from the 50’s era is encouraged.

-Sing and dance the night away while dressed as your favorite Disney character. A prize will be awarded for the best costume.

OCTOBER 17TH “Down on the Farm” HOEDOWN
-Everybody loves the western theme, so we’re doing it again. Come dressed in your best cowboy/cowgirl attire.

-Come dressed in your best to this formal ball.

General for all the scheduled dances:
Ages 13-20
6 pm to 10 pm.
In the Main St. Community Building
Gays Mills, WI
$5 pre-pay or $8 at the door

General Rules of Conduct and Dress Code:
Appropriate and modest dress is expected of all who attend.
Couples are allowed, but must refrain from any intimate behavior.
Kissing & embracing one another is prohibited.

LADIES… dresses are to be no higher than knee-length. Strapless dresses will require a shrug or shawl. Spaghetti straps will be acceptable. No cleavage is to be exposed.

GENTLEMEN… Jeans and street clothes are discouraged. A suit and tie is not required, but a nice button shirt and dress pants are expected.

Respectable behavior and language is required by all who attend.

Failure to comply to the above rules will be dealt with accordingly.

Parents, please be sure that your teens understand and follow these requirements so as to avoid any embarrassment in the event that they should have to be removed from the dance.

Please email any questions or concerns to iopener -at-wildblue -dot- net.

Wonders of Physics 2015: Battling the War on Science Illiteracy

Plasma Globe Wonders of Physics Instagram

32nd Annual Wonders of Physics

The Wonders of Physics presentation dates for 2015 have just been announced: Saturday, February 7, 2015 1, 4, and 7 pm Sunday, February 8, 2015   1 and 4 pm Saturday. February 14, 2015 1, 4, and 7 pm Sunday, February 15, 2015 1 and 4 pm

Free tickets are now available for all shows and can be obtained by:
Web: (preferred)
Phone: 608-262-2927  Email:

Scoop these up while you can! The shows usually fill up right away!!

UPDATE  JAN. 23,  2015:  All the tickets for The Wonders of Physics 2015 have been issued. There are usually some empty seats if you would like to come and take a chance. They will have a monitor where you can view the show on video. Otherwise, you can leave your name and email address, and they will notify you when tickets are available for next year’s shows. You might also check back a few days before the show since some tickets are usually returned.

Physics Fair 2015

The Physics Fair is free and open to the public. Click the image for details.

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. *Scroll down for a ton of resource links, experiments to try, and videos with Prof. Sprott. The theme of the program changes from year to year. If you’ve attended the show, you can give them feedback so that they can continually improve the shows every year. More resources courtesy of the Wonders of Physics program are listed below. Check them out!

Wonders of Physics, Prof. Clint Sprott

Professor Clint Sprott

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 Wonders of Physics presentations are held each February in 2103 Chamberlin Hall, 1150 University Avenue, Madison, WI.  DIRECTIONS   Free tickets are available (beginning January 1st) using the On-Line Ticket Form. Be sure to specify the show you prefer and the number of tickets.  Electronic tickets will be used — you may print your own tickets or pick them up at the show. wonders of physics Univ Wisc MadisonCheck out the video from the 2013 Show.

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

You can also catch the free Physics Fair held in same building on Feb. 14th, which features hands-on demonstrations, activities for kids and families, laboratory tours, and a chance to talk with real-live scientists.  There are exhibits representing the research groups of the Physics Dept. as well as displays on physics topics.  Additionally, the Ingersoll Physics Museum will be open. The Wonders of Physics team also has developed a traveling showpresented by physics graduate students and staff over a thousand times to audiences of all ages throughout Wisconsin and the nation.  They also have available educational materials including videos, software, a demo book, and a lecture kit.

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

Shows fill up fast, order your free tickets click here.

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.   Videos are available for purchase or free online streaming here.

Prof. Sprott currently has 30 shows available for viewing on YouTube here.


Just For Kids — Here are some Experiments you can try at home 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.  You can even do at home! 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 Department How Stuff Works Science Links for other UW Science Outreach Programs The Wonders of Physics program inspires interest in physics among people of all ages and backgrounds. 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 subscribe 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.

Department of Energy logoNational Science Foundation logo

 Originally posted 2012.


Kickapoo Valley Reserve Winter Workshops for Homeschoolers

Here’s an outstanding opportunity for area homeschoolers.

Kickapoo Valley Reserve’s Winter Workshops!

Winter Workshops for Homeschoolers February 2015
(DATES: February 6, 13, 20, 27)

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

Workshop sessions are geared for 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 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.$4/child/afternoon.  12:30-2 pm.  Available each Friday listed above.

REGISTRATION DEADLINE:  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.

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train Shining Light on Feeding Communities

North America’s longest rolling food bank will make stops in 10 Wisconsin communities and feature holiday light shows with live music by Kira Isabella and Home Free.



Canadian Pacific’s annual Holiday Train program is a rolling fundraising event that travels across Canada and the United States raising money, food, and awareness for food banks and hunger issues, hosting free holiday concerts along the way.

The concerts are free, but you’re encouraged to make a donation to the local food bank—either a non-perishable food item or a cash donation. All contributions will stay within your local community.

The Holiday Train is about 1,000 feet in length with 14 brightly decorated rail cars. They are each decorated with hundreds of thousands of technology-leading LED lights and holiday designs on a modified boxcar that has been turned into a traveling stage for performers.

The U.S. Holiday Train makes stops in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota before its final show on December 17. The Canadian Holiday Train is also on the move and will wrap up its cross-country journey December 18 in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia.

The aim is to generate healthy donations as it makes stops in 150 communities.
For 16 years, from Thanksgiving through the Christmas holiday period, the Holiday Train has been a bright light on the importance of supporting food banks and how local residents can join the Holiday Train’s spirit in feeding communities across the country.

The program is an important community initiative for CP employees (more than 15,000 live and work in more than 1,100 North American communities).

Hunger is an issue that can, and does, impact all of our neighbors.  The Holiday Train is all about raising money, food and awareness for local food banks to help those less fortunate.

Decorate and donate activity ​​​pages

Print off eight pages of CP Holiday Train themed coloring and activity pages. Once the sheets have been colored, have kids use them to decorate boxes to be filled with donations to your food bank. It’s a great activity to teach kids about the importance of giving before they attend our event.

Click the image for coloring and activity sheets.

Click image to download all 8


CP Holiday Train Schedule:
Stops in Wisconsin

Sunday, December 7th
Sturtevant – 5:20 PM : 9900 East Exploration Ct., Amtrak Depot
Milwaukee – 6:50 PM (Show at 7:15) : 433 West St. Paul Avenue, Amtrak Depot
Hartland – 8:45 PM : Parking lot adjacent to Cottonwood Ave. & Pawling Ave.
Columbus – 10:30 PM (15 min Stop N’ Go) : 359 N. Ludington St., Amtrack Depot

Monday, December 8th
Portage – 1:15 PM : 400 West Oneida Street, Amtrak Station
Wisconsin Dells – 2:45 PM : 100 La Crosse Street, Amtrak Depot
Mauston – 4:15 PM : Division Street railway crossing
Tomah – 5:30 PM : 205 North Superior Avenue, Amtrak Depot
Sparta – 6:40 PM : Corner of South Water Street and Milwaukee Street
LaCrosse – 9:00 PM : 601 Saint Andrew Street

When it gets to one of the scheduled stops, the Holiday Train will pull in, the stage door will lower and the band will open with its first song.  Local Food Bank officials and others from the community will say a few words and present and the donation of food and non-perishables.  Then, the band resumes its show.

After about a half hour that usually includes a mix of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs, the band plays its farewell number, the boxcar door closes, and the train slips off into the night on its way to the next stop.  Please make sure that you keep a safe distance away from the train so it can safely continue our journey.

Attending the event is free!  They only ask that you bring a food or monetary donation to your local food bank/pantry, which will be on site taking collections.

Before you ask… Sorry! Rides are not open to the public.  Some employees, their families and some charitable activities officers are provided seats on the Holiday Train as a thank you for the tireless work they do each year moving goods across North America. They do not sell tickets for rides on the Holiday Train.

Since 1999, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train has raised nearly $9.5 million and over 3.3 million pounds of nonperishable food donations for North American food banks. Everything raised in each community stays in that community. Canadian Pacific makes additional donations at each stop.

This holiday tradition is a great way to bring the community together to help a neighbor in need.

The online #HealthyDonations Challenge encourages patrons attending Holiday Train events to take a second glance when pulling food out of their cupboards to ensure their non-perishable donations are nutritious and heart-healthy. CP’s goal is to have 20,000 people take an online pledge to underscore how important it is that everyone has access to nutritious food.

You can show your commitment at​6u4r8.

The full CP Holiday Train schedule is available on

Supporters can also join the Holiday Train on Facebook and follow the two trains on Twitter, andInstagram @CPHolidaytrain #CPHolidayTrain. Track the challenge at #HealthyDonationsChallenge.

Home Free Featured on Fox News  -> Post by Fox News.  Watch this breathtaking performance of “Angels We Have Heard on High” performed by a cappella group Home Free this morning on Fox & Friends.

Masquerade Ball Set for Dec. 20th

Masquerade image

Costume Masquerade Ball
Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Come join us for a thrilling night of entertainment!

The Masquerade Ball for Homeschoolers and Friends ages 13-20 will be held on Sat., Dec. 20 from 6 pm to 10 pm in the Old Gays Mills Community Building at 212 Main St.

The per person cost is $5 pre-pay (by Dec. 12) or $8 at the door.

Participants are encouraged to wear a mask, and arrive in formal dress or costume of choice.

Masquerade Flyer 1 address blocked


There is an established Code of Conduct regarding behavior, etiquette, and dress. Failure to comply may result in expulsion from the dance.

Please keep apparel modest and fun.

Frightful and grotesque wardrobes will not be permitted.

Proper language, appropriate dancing, and respectable behavior is expected of all who attend.

Pre-pay registration by December 12th or pay at the door.

*Click Here To Download Ticket: Masquerade Flyer 1

Thank you for your cooperation!

Parents: If you would be willing to help chaperone or bring a finger food, please let us know.

Please contact Melanie Brewster iopener at wildblue dot net with questions or comments.

** Important Note: The pre-pay deadline for the Masquerade Ball has been moved up to December 12th so as to avoid anyone’s tickets being lost / delayed in the mail.  Please allow at least 2 to 3 days for your tickets to arrive to be sure that they are received by the deadline. 

Six Flags Read to Succeed Program Registrations for the 2014-2015 school year

Final Reminder to Register
The Six Flags Read to Succeed Program is still accepting registrations for the 2014-2015 school year!


Read to Succeed is a FREE educational program that encourages kids to read for fun. Students in grades K-6 at participating schools and homeschools can earn free admission tickets to a Six Flags theme park.
Students who complete six hours of recreational, nonschool-related reading are eligible to earn a free admission ticket to a participating Six Flags theme park.

Parent / Teachers whose homeschool students participate and complete the program are also eligible to earn a free ticket.

Registration takes 5 minutes.

It takes less than five minutes to reserve your spot, and you have until March 2nd, 2015 to enter all of your student names and reading hours.

If you participated last year your online account is still active, and it takes just a few minutes to sign up your class and download your new reading logs.

You can login and confirm your information is still correct and make any updates, if needed.

Registration Deadline is March 2, 2015

Once you login to your account, you can download everything you need to get started from your Teacher Toolbox in your online account. Your Teacher Toolbox will have the Student Reading Log, Parent Letter and instructional guides. Your students can begin logging their hours as soon as you hand out the Student Reading Logs.

Register for Read To Succeed


A few quick facts about registration:

  • Time Requirement: 5 minutes for initial registration
  • Browser Compatibility: Updated to work with all browsers!
  • Deadline: Deadline to enter students is March 2, 2015
  • Cost to Participate: Free

Let Six Flags help you encourage your students to read!

We did mention that it’s free, right6F ?!


Creation Education Days at Living Waters

Brand New!
fall at lwbc Creation-5Living Waters, the premier creation resource in the area, has just introduced an outstanding opportunity – perfect for area homeschoolers.

Living Waters Bible Camp Creation Education Days!

Learn and enjoy creation based nature programs in the beautiful camp setting.

Discover Winter, Spring, and Fall.

fall at lwbc Creation-27

Experience hands-on learning about God’s design.

Geared for students kindergarten through high school.

climbing wall at lwbc20110621_4076





Three special days are scheduled in 2015 for you to choose from:

February 5th, April 9th, October 1st

Each Creation Education Day has three sessions; students rotate through nature class programs, followed by an activity (winter activities, adventure activities etc.).

Separate programs are designed for K – 4th Graders and 5th-12th Graders.

Basic Schedule:
10:00am Registration
10:30 Program Rotation #1
12:00pm Bring your own sack lunch
1:00-2:30 Program Rotation #2
2:30-4:00 Large Group Activity

Winter Program Feb. 5th:

K – 4th Graders
    Animal Tracking – learn basic tracking skills and how to identify animals from the signs and tracks they leave behind.
    Incredible Insects – In the Nature Center enjoy learning about some of the most incredible insects that God has created from around the world.

5th-12th Graders
    Outdoor Survival Skills – Learn skills to survive in wilderness conditions, and discover how to find complete rest and security in God through any life situation.
    Winter Tree ID – learn how God sustains trees through the cold Wisconsin winters, and how to identify different trees.

After the class program, students will participate in recreational activities…snowtubing at lwbc


broomball at lwbc

zipline at lwbc 20110621_3866









K – 4th Graders
    Sensory Hike – Learn how each of the five senses has been designed by God and how they work together to allow us to enjoy His creation.
    Bread of Life - Learn the basics of bread making and learn that Jesus is our Bread of Life.

5th – 12th Graders
    Pathfinders - Learn how to use a compass to navigate through our compass course and understand that God has given us His word and spirit to guide us through life.
    Sugar Shack Tour - Learn the biology of the maple tree and about the maple syrup making process.sugar shack at lwbc _MG_8723 1

Fall PROGRAM October 1st:

Check back for program details on the fall Creation Education Day.

111Cost: Early Registration (prior to event) $8 per student (K-12), Day of event Registration- $12 (K-12), No cost for adults or children not yet in school. There is no program for adults however parents need to chaperone students. Please bring your own sack lunch.  Space in the lodge will be available for families to eat.

Registration the day of the event is $12 (please register early!)

Besides these Creation Education Days (described above) other events available:
Sugar Bush Day (March 22),
Homeschool Family Camp (April 27 – May 1),
Animal Kingdom Day (October 11) and the
Creation Conferences (May 1-2, October 9-10);
are all excellent options for homeschool groups to be involved at Living Waters Bible Camp. (There’s usually a need for volunteers, too!)


The purpose at Living Waters Bible Camp is to use God’s Word and His Creation, as well as adventure and relationships to draw people closer to Jesus Christ. Programs are designed with a purpose to point to God, the Creator.

LWBC UC Draft3