Friday, May 25, 2007

Kalmar Nyckel Field Trip!

Avast all ye land lubbers!!!!
On this May 11th past, about 40 adventuresome homeschoolers braved the murky waters and set sail for a 90 minute tour of duty aboard the good ship Kalmar Nyckel. These fledgling sailors learned nautical terms and some vital sailor's superstitions. Hands on training included turning the winch and singing ye ole' traditional sailors' songs for keeping of the rhythm.

Starbucks is guardian of the starboard side, a seadog most beloved.

The original Kalmar Nyckel was one of America's pioneering colonial ships. Its historical significance rivals that of the Mayflower, yet her remarkable story has never been widely told. She sailed from Sweden to the New World in 1638 leaving her passengers to establish the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley, the Colony of New Sweden in present-day Wilmington, Delaware. She made a total of four roundtrip crossings of the Atlantic—more than any other ship of the era.The present day Kalmar Nyckel serves as Delaware’s seagoing goodwill ambassador. She was built by a group of committed citizens to be a continuing witness to the courage and spirit of those individuals who undertook the mid-winter North Atlantic crossing in 1637-1638. The ship is owned and operated by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers people of all ages a variety of sea and land based learning and recreational experiences. The Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard is located at the East Seventh Street Peninsula, norht of wilmington. Directions and other ports of call are listed on their website.

I think this is a great fieldtrip idea! Booking a student field trip is simple, there is a link on the home page of their web site. Volunteering opportunities and training are also available and public tours abound. The pirate sails look most compelling, arrrrgh!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Free Days at Hagley Museum!

To hearken back to the days when Hagley was open to the public free of charge, the museum will offer two days of free admission and extended hours. On Thursday May 24th and Friday May 25th the museum’s hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. After 5 p.m., some parts of the museum will be closed, but the property will be open for a springtime walk and for visiting the “Hagley at Fifty” exhibit. Visitors should use Hagley’s main entrance off Route 141 in Wilmington, Delaware.

The "Hagley at Fifty: Exploding with History" retrospective exhibit in the Visitor Center explores how Hagley Museum came to be and significant milestones in its first fifty years. This exhibit opens May 21st and will remain till December 31st, 2007.

Hagley Museum and Library collects, preserves, and interprets the unfolding history of American enterprise. Located on 235 acres along the banks of the Brandywine River in Wilmington, Delaware, Hagley is the site of the gunpowder works founded by E. I. du Pont in 1802. This example of early American industry includes restored mills, a workers' community, and the ancestral home and gardens of the du Pont family.

For more information about Hagley as well as their regular operating hours, admission prices and membership you can go to their website:

City Gates Academy

Citigates is currently accepting enrollment for the 2007-2008 school year. Please review the classes that are posted on the on-line catalog. There is a registration sheet that can be printed.
For further information you can go their website:

City Gates offers classes for home schoolers and is located in North Wilmington behind the Brandywine Y.

Weekly & bi-weekly classes in a variety of subjects for home educated students on Tuesdays and Fridays from September through June offering challenging academic experiences, outside accountability and evaluation, deadlines, group interaction, and qualified instructors who encourage a love of learning. Classes are taught with a Christian worldview however, gamilies of all beliefs are welcome.

City Gates Academy offers classes for home schooling students from 4th -9th grades. Most classes are offered once a week on either Tuesday or Friday. Math and English classes are offered as two day classes and must be attended both on Tuesday and Friday. English classes focus on literature, grammar, composition, and vocabulary building. Math classes use ABeka math texts for 5th-7th, McDougal-Littell texts for pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Algebra II/Trig, and Jacobs for Geometry. History classes include Ancient History; Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation; Early American; and Later American for middle schoolers. Government/Geography, World History and American History are offered for high schoolers. Science classes are hands on project-oriented classes. Middle school science classes cover all of the different types of science in varying degrees of difficulty; high school classes include Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Latin and Spanish classes are offered on various levels. Gym and Art classes are also offered.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Fire Safety Field Trip

A group of homeschoolers visited the Talleyville Fire House for a short course on fire safety. For some, this was their first trip, for others it was a refresher, having learned these lessons long in a trip years ago. As Fireman Farrel said, when a crisis, a fire happens, people will panic. The more review, the more prepared, the higher the likelihood that everyone will know just what to do in case of fire. I was worried at first that my kids were too young for this one. My reservations were unfounded. Yes, every pre-schooler has learned to not play with matches or lighters, to stop, drop and roll, not to hide if there is a fire and how to to recognize a fireman donning a full body uniform.

But how many of us have recently gone over what to do, what not to do and where to meet if those smoke alarms do go off in the middle of the night and the house is quickly filling with black and toxic smoke? What would you do if someone's clothes caught on fire? We all think we know. We do, when we are calm, when we have time to casually think about it. However, at my daughter's last birthday party, her dad was lighting the candles and suddenly flames started running up and down his sweater, in and out of the loosely woven fires. There was something highly flammable about that sweater. Fabric softener perhaps? So what did the two grandmothers standing there do? They panicked. They froze. They started shouting for water. I walked into the room to see what the commotion was about and grabbed a towel to smother the fire, on the sweater, still on my husband, who was not quite sure what was going on. But the flames I tried to smother would just disappear deeper into the sweater and travel to another spot. We did get that fire out, no burns on my husband, luckily. But not one of us remembered stop, drop and roll!

Did you know that you should not just stop, drop and roll but also cover your face? Fireman Farrel demonstrated with the help of Billie Rose (8), exactly how to do this. You drop to the floor, cover your face with your hands, then roll in one direction till you hit an obstacle then immediately roll in the opposite direction, continuing to roll numerous times to be sure that fire is out. Billie Rose plans to go over this drill with her dad, just in case, for the next time he is lighting her birthday cake!

This was not a field-trip about climbing on fire trucks or in the ambulance and looking at all the cool equipment. This was a serious and enlightening lesson for students and parents about fire safety and what to do and how not to panic if there is a fire in your home. Fireman Farrell was engaging, even the youngest did not lose interest. His message was delivered realistically, seriously but without creating any undo anxiety. In fact, just the opposite. If you and your family are prepared, if you know what to do, in all likely hood you will be fine.

A couple other notes to share: Most house fires these days are caused by unattended cooking fires and people smoking. With the increase of public awareness and more consistent use of smoke detectors, most calls to the fire house are security system false alarms. The majority of the real calls, because of the aging population in this area, are for ambulance service. And, interestingly, the woman's auxiliary to the fire department is disappearing, quickly becoming a thing of the past. Why? Because those woman, whom in previous generations joined the auxiliary to become involved with firefighting, are now become firefighters themselves. The gender barriers are gone. Fireman Farrell said that inch for inch his female colleagues are just as strong and able as he!

A field trip to the fire house is something Homeschoolers should really be sure to do, particularly in those very early years. Preschools through elementary schools schedule these trips or a visit from a fireman to the school, annually, ofthen through the 5th grade. You can contact Fireman Farrell if you are in New Castle County or just call your local fire station to schedule a group trip:

John H. Farrell IV
Public Information Officer
Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company
P.O. Box 148
Newark, Delaware 19715

His card reads: "SERVICE FOR OTHERS"

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Trish and her son, Junior, take fencing lessons together through the Salisbury Fencing Club in Maryland. Trish says their classes are nothing formal, just good exercise and something for mother and son to do together. However, some members of the club are at the competing level. Their instructor, Angela, was on the Olympic Team in the 1970's.

The club has a website:

Just an additional note for aspiring thespians, fencing is a skill that looks good on your theatrical resume'!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Brandywine Harps: A Spring Brown Bag Concert at Grace Episcopal Church

Floating on the spring breeze that gently blew through the church from the open doors, the Celtic music of The Brandywine Harps enchanted a lunchtime audience at the final performance of the Spring Brown Bag Concert Series at Grace Episcopal Church on Concord Pike, across from the Concord Mall in Wilmington. The ensemble rendered traditional Irish melodies, jigs and reels. Vocalist, Melissa Heieie, joined to sing “Danny Boy” and a drummer added authentic rhythm to "Brian Boru's March" while performing on the traditional Irish Bodram drum. The concert lasted under an hour and was just the right length for my youthful listeners. It was a truly spirit inspiring, stress free lunch hour diversion.

After the performance, harpers Pam Dimeler and Margret Love shared their harps with homeschoolers Billie Rose and Teddy.

Billie Rose was delighted to discover how much the string patterns on the harps mirrored the key patterns she has learned on the piano!

Margret Love demonstrated proper body position for Teddy.

To learn more about the Brandywine Harps you can go to their Website:

The director of the Brandywine Harps, Janet Witman, and harper, Margaret Love, both teach at Wilmington Music School.
To find more about lessons, classes, ensembles, concerts and all the wonderful programs offered at WMS you can go to their web site:

Grace Episcopal Church will offer a Holiday Brown Bag Concert series on Fridays December 7th, 14th, and 21st at 12:15. The series is free, you are welcome to bring your lunch, punch and coffee are provided. The concert lasted about 45 minutes. For more information about Grace Church and the events that they sponsor you can go to their website:

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Homeschooling Information Event!

Brandywine Valley Home Education Resource Organization
Annual Homeschooling Information Night

BVHERO would like to invite you to join them on Sunday, June 3rd from 6:00-9:00 p.m. for their 8th Annual Information Night & used curriculum sale. This event will be held at the Brandywine Town Center's Community Center located off Namaans Rd and Concord Pike. (The glass dome building in front of Target.)

Presenters this year will cover topics such as, Singapore Math, Brandywine Zoo programs, the U of D Extension office (4-H), past and present homeschoolers, local homeschooling schools, Grove High School Diploma Program, Pa rules and regulations, and different homeschooling approaches.

Admission is free. Hope to see you there!

For more information contact BVHERO at or from BVHERO's website at