Ocean Star

Ocean Star Offshore Oil Rig Museum

This week, we took a trip to Galveston to check out the Ocean Star Oil Rig Museum. The Ocean Star is a retired platform oil rig that’s been turned into a museum. It’s pretty nifty, and the closest most of us will ever get to being on a real oil rig! Our guide took us through all of the museum areas, including displays of life-sized drill bits, interactive models, and scale models to show exactly how small the platforms are when anchored out in the ocean. We learned about seismology, geology, also got to see how the oil rigs are built and transported to their final locations, and how oil is found, pumped and moved from the holding tanks on the rigs back to land. As expected, there was considerable time spent discussing the ecological impact of oil drilling and manufacture, and how the oil companies contribute to the ecological health of an area.

After the tour, the kids got to do an engineering project. They used everyday materials to try to put together a structure that could hold weight without collapsing – and found that it was harder than it sounded!

It was a great experience, and we look forward to going back! If you’re too far away to visit in person, check out their website under the ‘museum’ tab for a virtual tour.


Tyrell Park Stables

This week, we had the opportunity to join Mr. Kenny from the Tyrell Park Stables to learn about equestrian care and have a riding lesson. Mr. Kenny was great with the horses and the kids. He talked to them about guiding the horse, and about the connection that a horse and rider have that allows them to work effectively together.

Thanks, Mr. Kenny!





photo by: Louis Vest
USS Battleship Texas and the San Jacinto monument

San Jacinto Monument & Battleship TEXAS


monument 2014We try to go out to the San Jacinto Monument and Battleship TEXAS each year in the spring, coinciding with Texas Independence Day. We were a bit off this year, but we made it in March, at least!

If you’ve never been to the Monument, it’s definitely something you want to plan to visit. A great time in the near future would be the re-enactment planned for April 26, 2014. 

San Jacinto is the tallest war monument in the world, which is really not all that surprising considering that Texas is the epitome of ‘bigger’!

The view from the observation deck is amazing – windows in every direction give a birds’ eye view of the battleground – with the Texas army camped near the Battleship park and the swampland clearly visible around the base of the monument. If you’re not familiar with Texas independence history, that’s okay; there’s a theater inside the monument that you can watch to catch you up.

There are also two museum galleries inside the monument’s base, including uniforms, weaponry and books and other personal effects of soldiers, officers and others who helped shape our great state.

As we sometimes do, this field trip was a joint-venture between our group and one of the Houston-area homeschooling groups. We were joined by our friends from Houston, and had a nice-sized group!






After the monument, we had lunch in the park on the Battleship grounds, then were fortunate to have a volunteer-guided tour of the Battleship. The weather was not the best for touring the outside of the ship, but our walk-through below-decks was the best I’ve ever been on!

If you get the chance to go, plan ahead and ask for a volunteer guide!




If you’re a homeschool teacher, both websites, San Jacinto Monument, and Battleship TEXAS have educational resources and extensions that will help you guide your students through the wealth of information they’ll be exposed to on either of these tours.



Career Path – Marine Biology: NOAA Sea Turtle Tour

This week, we took off to Galveston for a tour of the NOAA Fisheries Sea Turtle facility. The facility is a research lab, with the goal of creating fishing nets that allow sea turtles to escape them without injury (TED nets), and to preserve (and increase) the number of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.

Before we were allowed into the turtle barn, we were treated to a presentation about the varieties of sea turtles, and the sea turtle that is native to our coasts, and how to report sea turtle sightings if you see one on the beach. The NOAA website has a great FAQ page with tons of info about their program, their turtles and marine life and science in general if you’d like to know more.

Thanks for having us out! We look forward to visiting again!




Post-Burn Hike – Big Thicket

Recently, we had the opportunity to hike the Sundew Trail at Big Thicket after a prescribed burn. If you;re not familiar with that term, a prescribed burn is the deliberate use of fire to help manage a forest. Our purpose in touring the trail at this time was to start a Burn Diary – a journal that tracks the growth of the forest over the course of the coming year. We’ll tour again in a few months when the forest starts to grow again.

In the mean time, it was really cool to see the scorch marks high up on the tree trunks, and to be able to see through the forest along the ground. Down here in the deep Piney Woods of SETX, the undergrowth in our forests prevents visibility – you can barely even walk through untamed forest,  much less see!

The kids also completed their Jr. Ranger certification, and got their badges – great job, Rangers!

Check back with us to see our progress as we track the growth!


Bluebell Creamery Tour

If you’ve heard of Bluebell ice cream, then you’ve probably heard their slogan, ‘We eat all we can, and sell the rest’. Well, if you’re wondering if that’s true, it totally is! Of all the interesting things we learned on our tour this week, that’s probably the most significant thing that our students came home with – the knowledge that if they choose to work for Bluebell, they can eat all the ice cream they possibly can while they’re at work.

We actually only got a couple of pictures from this trip (stupid technology konking out just when you need it most!). We weren’t allowed to take pictures on the inner secrets on the Bluebell manufacturing process, so you’ll just have to use your imagination to fill in the gaps. Though we didn’t shoot this video, it’s a pretty accurate representation of what we saw!

Foskey's Vet - 10-2-13 - pic by heather lewis

Career Path – Veterinarian

This week, we traveled to Orange, TX to visit with Dr. Jason Foskey and his wonderful staff at Foskey Veterinarian Clinic. We started out with a tour of the facility, and a really great discussion about veterinary care. Dr. Foskey spent a lot of time answering questions for the kids, and it was really east to see how much he loves his job. That enthusiasm carried over to the kids, and they were excited to have the opportunity to see this profession from the inside.

We wrapped up our tour by watching a couple of procedures on several animals. In one operating suite (that we weren’t allowed to enter), a dog was being spayed, while in the main room, a cat was being sedated and shaved in preparation for surgery and another dog was having his teeth cleaned.

Many thanks to the staff at Foskey’s for their hospitality!


Lake Charles Children’s Museum

Field 1

This week, we drove out to Lake Charles to visit The Children’s Museum. This was the first time that we’d been there, and it was really an adventure! When we first walked in, the museum appeared to be a single story, and while the area had several nifty things to see and explore (a water table, miniature ‘store’ and ‘restaurant’, shrimp boat, crabbing pier, climbing wall and fire station), we were a little disappointed that there wasn’t more to do.

And then, we realized that there was a staircase (and elevator) at the back… that went up three stories! The second floor was where the real fun was. Not only was there a main gallery with tons of cool things to play with (a giant mouth and toothbrush, a centrifugal force thingy, a ‘car wash’ of pool noodles to run through and more), but there was also a massive electric train set, complete with multiple tracks and a town scene, and several rooms off to the sides of the gallery. We played in the TV news room, had fun in the bubble room, and were rock stars in the karaoke studio.

Then we headed up to the third floor where the kids found a gigantic maze, a flash wall, and the best place of all – a quiet reading nook with a spectacular view.


Clifton Steamboat Museum

This week, we headed down highway 124 for some local flair – a look at the 1938 tugboat, ‘Hercules’! The ‘Hercules’ is a real, decommissioned tugboat that proudly served Southeast Texas during its reign on the water. Now, it stands as a reminder of days gone by (and occasionally a safe haven from hurricanes that pass over our area).

The Clifton Steamboat Museum is home to tons of artifacts from wars and battles that have been fought in the Gulf of Mexico and over Southeast Texas. With artwork, galleries of scale replicas of ships, boats and planes, as well as memorabilia from officers, sailors, soldiers, and business owners from decades past, this was a slice of history come to life.

If you have the opportunity, check them out!


Big Thicket: Kirby Trail ‘Armadillo Amble’ Night Hike

If you’ve never been  on a nighttime hike, then you’re definitely missing out. Something about being out in the woods after dark makes you feel like a kid again – and there are tons of things to see that you just can’t see during the day.

In Southeast Texas, both Village Creek State Park and the Big Thicket offer occasional nighttime hikes that are family friendly. They’re often themed; in this case, we were hunting armadillos, but past themes have included bats, black-light reactive critters (like scorpions), and insects.

If you’re a nighttime newbie, there are some great tips in this article from How Stuff Works, including tips (like bringing a red-light flashlight or headlamp to help see without destroying your night vision).

If you’re a fan of nighttime hiking, how’d you get started? What’s your favorite location? What do you like best? Feel free to comment and let us know!


Career Path – Tattoo Artist: Adam Newginz

On Wednesday, May 29th, we got the unique opportunity to visit an uncommon place for school field trips – a tattoo shop. Adam Newginz from Tattoos by Mundo in Beaumont offered to talk to the kids about the ins and outs of the tattoo business and show them around the shop.

The kids got a pretty great rounded-out tour. Not only did they get to learn about the process of tattooing, but also the overview of running a business, and being an artist in this profession.

When we got there, we got to meet Mundo and his lovely wife (with awesome shoes), Aubrey, who is featured in more than a few ink magazines for her beautiful artwork. We were also encouraged to look through the artist portfolios  on the counter to see the styles and previous work that the artists have completed for clients. Adam also explained some of the basic things you would want to look for in both an artist and a shop – namely examples of their work and the shop’s licensing. Mundo’s licences are displayed on one wall to the left of the counter, in full view and easy to check out.

From there, we moved on to the paperwork part of the tour. No ink goes on skin until the paperwork is done. Adam showed the kids one of the machines that they use to make the drawing into a template, and ran one of the pictures through and showed them the template that would be used on the skin to guide the tattoo machine.


From there, we moved to the sanitation station. It’s kept separate from the main shop and they got to check out the tubes being washed and prepped for sterilization in the autoclave. They also got a crash course in sterilizing the other surfaces of the shop with various bactericidal chemicals and the importance of both safety and cleanliness for the client and the artist. They learned about cross-contamination, and how important it is to take care of new tattoos properly, and how vital it is to your reputation as a business and artist to ensure clean work for your clients.


Next, we moved on to Adam’s station, where he explained how he goes about prepping his tray and materials by lining or wrapping with foil or plastic. He showed the kids a couple of tattoo machines (not tattoo GUNS, he stressed); an older one that is noisy, and a newer one that is very quiet. He passed around the needles, and explained how it’s a bit of a misnomer that they are called needles, when in reality they function more like brushes. The kids were very interested in seeing all the equipment!



After that, Adam surprised the two kids with the best questions with Sharpie tattoos, which the kids thought was awesome.






MANY THANKS to Adam Newginz and Mundo for hosting this field trip for us!

The kids thought it was ‘way cool’, and the parents who were there thoroughly enjoyed it as well!

If you’re looking for educational resources that tie into this field trip, you might find these links useful:

The History of Tattooing  By Cate Lineberry (Smithsonian)


The Signifigance of Maori Tattoos

Symbolism of Japanese Yakuza Tattoos (Prezi)

Marked Death of the Yakuza (documentary)

The Bar Code Tattoo by Suzanne Weyn on Amazon & Lesson Plans for the book ($17.00)

Auschwitz Tattooing: The Evolution of Tattooing in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp Complex by George Rosenthal, Auschwitz Survivor and accompanying curriculum modules (history)

You can also search for traditional meanings of tattoo symbols in certain sub-cultures (pirates, prison, gang, bikers, Yakuza, etc.)



Exotic Cat Refuge


This week,  we drove out to Kirbyville, TX to the Exotic Cat Refuge there, run by Monique Woodard & family.  We met some amazing cats, including: Shambola, Chezza, brothers Simba & Doctari, and Natasha the Siberian Tigers; Tony the Indonesian Tiger, Kantu the Rhesus Monkey and more than a few horses and donkeys. All of the animals at this refuge are rescues, some with medical issues (Shambola has only one lung and Chezza is cross-eyed and awaiting surgery), while others were rescued from some pretty horrific circumstances (like Simba & Doc). You can read about the individual animals and their stories here.



Miss Monique is a fantastic lady! She walked us through her facility not once, but twice! You can clearly see the devotion and joy in the relationship that she and her family have with these cats.

One of the things that Miss Monique talked about was the costs of running such a facility. As one of the only sanctuaries of this kind for cats in the US, demand is high while space and funding are limited. She mentioned that her electric bill during the summer can run as high as$2,300.00 and that each of the seven big cats eat 65lbs of meat per day. The Exotic Cat Refuge & Wildlife Orphanage is also state and federally certified, and complies with USDA and Texas Parks & Wildlife regulations (which means spot-checks and permits).

If you’re in a position to sponsor an animal, donate food or supplies, volunteer your time or services, there are many ways that you can help make a difference for these animals!



We had an amazing time visiting, and look forward to going again. Many thanks to Miss Monique and her lovely family for having us out!


If you’re looking for resources to go along with this trip, here are some that you might find helpful

  • Tiger Lapbook – http://www.homeschoolshare.com/tiger_lapbook.php
  • Life of Pi (book and movie) & The Jungle Book (book & movie)
  • Big Cats (Discovery Channel on YouTube) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JEO-ooGkRc
  • Big Cat Recue Video (bobcat – an example of what kinds of things these cats may be rescued from) WARNING for content – it’s mostly only one man speaking, but the situation may be a trigger for some – happy outcome though!http://www.youtube.com/bigcatrescue
  • Endangered Cats of North America – http://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Wildlife/catsreport.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20130321T2053551575
  • IUCN Red List of Endangered Species: Panthera Tigris – http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15955/0
  • SeeTheWild Cats – http://www.seethewild.org/88/big-cat-threats.html
  • Tiger – creative writing worksheet – http://busyteacher.org/14492-tiger-creative-writing-worksheet.html
Houston Museum of Natural Science

HMNS – Jan 10, 2013

The Houston Museum of Natural Science offers free admission on Thursday afternoons from 2PM to 5Pm. This time frame generall works very well for us; it allows everyone to do school work in the morning and meet up for lunch and be at the museum at 2PM.

We did just that; had lunch at the Garden Center and grabbed our free tickets. We got a nice surprise – the Butterfly Hall was discounted that day, too, so most of us got tickets for that as well.



If you’ve never had an opportunity to go to the HMNS, try going on a Thursday – the main/permanent exhibit halls are free, which is awesome, and makes the whole trip less spendy if you decide to get tickets to one of the other exhibits.

For lesson tie-ins, you can find complete outlines by grade for the permanent and current traveling exhibits here: http://www.hmns.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=142&Itemid=149


Tobias the Adequate

Texas Renaissance Festival School Days 2012

Something we look forward to all year long is the Texas Renaissance Festival School Days. This year was no exception, and merriment was had throughout the land when the morning of our trip finally dawned. Of course, some of us missed dawn, because we were sleeping… but late start notwithstanding, today’s excursion to Plantersville was, as expected, tons of fun.

Getting off to a late start meant that we ended up missing some of the shows that we wanted to see. No Tartanic, a ren faire staple, and sadly we missed seeing some of the Shakespearean performances we well. That was sad, but the things we did see definitely were nothing to cry about. It was such a lovely day – perfect for faire-going!

We got there at lunchtime, so before we went into the faire grounds, we ate lunch, then trekked down the aisle to the main gates. After getting our tickets and stopping by the ATM, we made for the Blacksmith. That’s always our first stop, as per the request of one of the young men in our band of merry men. He’s got his eye set on smithing in the future and loves to see them in action.


Then we stopped by the Cursed Well,

and made our way down to the shops in Sherwood Forest. The kids all had to have something from a rock shop (I looked for them on the TRF Vendors list and couldn’t find them – I’ll update this later if/when I find the shop name).

From there, we stopped to watch the Birds of Prey show,

then comedian Tobias the Adequate. Here are the boys when asked to ‘catch his head’ should it pop off with his final trick:




Three hours was about all this old mom could handle… plus the gates close at 4PM, so we were off for our drive home. Not bad for a days’ work, I’d say!




Card-Making for Veterans

To commemorate 9/11, we met up at one of our mom’s homes with a bunch of papers, scraps of fabric and glue to make some cards for the veterans at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in HoustonTX. The kids wrote words of thanks and appreciation, encouragement and praise for the sacrifices that our veterans have made.

In total, we sent over 30 cards, representing over 2 hours of time spent by 2 moms and 3 students.

“We will never forget.”


Welcome, Triangle Homeschoolers!

We are so glad to have you joining us! If you’re new to the area, or to homeschooling, or just looking for an active group, then you’ve come to the right place. Triangle Homeschoolers is a homeschooling support group for parents in the Golden Triangle area of Southeast Texas (Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange) and surrounding areas who are, or are interested in, homeschooling/unschooling their children. We try to update our blog frequently with our recent adventures. If you’d like to join us, or get more information about our groups, please contact us.

We’re also continually on the lookout for new places, events and field trip destinations for our group. If you have a suggestion, or are a business owner or facility administrator that you’d like to have us visit, please let us know.

Thanks for checking our group out!