2016 Fall Semester

th-2016-fall-eventsIt’s been a busy school year so far!  Rather than post several individual posts, we decided to do a re-cap of this year so far. We’ve had quite a few new things added to our schedule this year, including the formation of our two new co-op groups, THINK High School Cooperative and THINK Elementary Cooperative. We’ve also had our usual weekly field trips and clubs. Here’s a look back at what we’ve been up to this school year. Enjoy!

The first official event for each Triangle Homeschoolers’ school year is our annual ‘Not back to School’ party. This year, we also held a mini-conference to help those new to homeschooling find support and community. We also started a dedicated Aquatic Science Class for upper elementary, middle and high school students. We also decided to start hosting ‘mom’s night out’ type events and kicked off the year with a murder-mystery dinner!







In September, we had an Art Guild class focusing on the art of Georgia O’Keefe, and our first co-op classes began. We also had a Teen Social at a local coffee shop, and visited Seawolf Park in Galveston. Our Public Speaking group met, and we also hosted a Mom’s Night In Painting Nite with the Art Sherpa on YouTube.









October started off with NASA’s Johnson Space Center Homeschool Day and our Teen Social. We planned a haunted house theme for our Halloween Party, so several times during the month of October, we got together to work on crafts and decorations for the party. It was a huge success, with multiple themed rooms and our students practicing their acting skills as they set the tone in each room. We’re missing the big group picture (but will edit this and post it later) – it was a fantastic turnout though! Our THINK Elementary Co-op ended in October, but will begin again in January, while our THINK High School Co-op continued throughout the month.








just a few of the littles in our photo-booth!

In November, er started the month by attending the Texas Renaissance Festival School Days, a low-key Teen Social with cartoons and card games, and our first visit to the Houston Gem & Mineral Society Education Day. Our THINK High School Co-op continued with the beginning of Home Ec classes, and the students learned to crochet and to knit. We also hosted our third annual Thanksgiving Food Drive, benefiting the South East Texas Food Bank.










December hasn’t been quite so busy as the rest of the month, but we’ve still been pretty active! Our Teen Social for December saw the kids roasting hot dogs and s’mores over a fire before the rain chased us all indoors. We spent some time practicing for our Christmas Concert and a day creating Christmas Cards to send to veterans who won’t be able to visit their families this holiday season. Our Christmas Concert went off without a hitch! We had a fantastic and enthusiastic group of carolers to sing for us, and it was a great opportunity for our THINK High School Cooperative orchestra students to show off their hard work.



Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year!














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!



Symphony of SETX Side-by-Side Concert 2012

For the last couple of years, the Symphony of Southeast Texas has hosted a ‘side by side’ concert, during which, students from local high schools are invited to perform on stage with the Symphony.

This year’s Side by Side Concert theme was ‘Musical Stories’. It was all about storytelling – how the music tells a story, how the story is enhanced by the music and how we associate the stories we know with music.

After the Star Spangled Banner, Maestro Tipton led the musicians in Entrance of the Gladiators, a piece by Czech composer Julius Fučík. Then Overture from the Pirates of Penzance by Arthur Sullivan. After those two pieces, Maestro Tipton talked to the students about opera and how the story relies on music to set the tone. Then he changed the topic to ballet and talked about how the music leads the dancers to tell the story. We were led in ‘waltz 101’ with a group clapping session to learn the beat of the waltz, and then heard Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers.

Next up, we discussed how music plays a role in our lives without us even realizing it. Without being told what music was up next, the sympnony started playing. It was amazing to see the twittering among the students; how many of them recognized it immediately. To preserve the mystery, I am just going to link to it rather than tell you what it was. When asked for a show of hands after the song was finished, nearly the entire audience had their hands in the air.

After that, students from Westbrook high school came on stage. We recognized Karen Ji from previous performances, and Maestro Tipton introduced us to senior Dan Jacob Ellis, who plays the cello.

The first piece that the students joined in on was An American Symphony, composed by Micheal Kamen for the 1996 movie, Mr Holland’s Opus. The link is to the full song; the part that was played during the SBS concert begins at 5:13 if you want to skip ahead. The final piece was final from Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky, The Great Gate of Kiev.

In all, it was a fantastic performance by professionals and students alike! It is always such a joy and pleasure to attend these performances; we’re so very grateful to the SOST and their sponsors for hosting them.



If you’re interested in making a lesson based on these selections, here are some resources that might help:


The Man Who Planted Trees – Lutcher Theater

We took a field trip to Lutcher Theater in Orange to see ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’, a story about a man who lived in a barren area of France and spent his time herding sheep and planting acorns. Eventually, the acorns grew, and turned the desolate plain into a lush forest.

This particular performance was by the Edinburgh-based Puppet State Theatre Company, which is known for  its clever combination of puppetry, storytelling, choreography as a multi-sensory experience.

I have to say that this is one of my favorite performances we’ve been to in a while. Since it was a small play; just the two gentlemen pictured and a small set with a handful of puppets and props, the theater opted to hold the performance backstage – so the kids got to see how ‘behind the scenes’ works. It was such a nice, intimate feeling.

The artists, themselves, were amazing. Very calm and they just made it such a great experience! They sprinkled lavender essential oil on a huge fan and wafted the scent through the theater, spritzed the kids with water-guns, waved birds on strings right over our heads and wrapped up with the scent of fresh mint. It was really a wonderful performance!

If you’re interested in seeing the story, there’s an animated version of the book on Vimeo here. A slight content warning from 7:00 to 7:40; and from 14:00 to 14:15,  if you have sensitive littles, but other than that, it’s very similar to the performance. There’s a study guide for the performance at Lutcher Theater’s website here, if you’re interested in using this as a unit study.


From a secular viewpoint, there are a couple of mentions of God and creation, but depending on your viewpoint, this could be simply a figure of speech shaped by culture, especially in light of a comment made about ‘man being as effective at God in something other than destruction’, and about Elzéard Bouffier’s accomplishments ‘being worthy of God’. There are references to Lazarus emerging from the tomb, and to the land of Canaan – again, this could be a literary reference rather than a religious one.


Snow White at Beaumont Civic Ballet

We started this week off with a bang as we joined the Beaumont Civic Ballet for the school performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. We had a total of 10 members of our group at the performance, though we didn’t all get to sit together this time. I think it’s funny how the kids react to being in a group vs. being with ‘just mom’. My boys, generally pretty attentive at live performances, were quite riveted by the dancers on stage without their friends to distract them.

As always, the auditorium full of noisy school children leaves something to be desired, particularly the annoying habit of large groups of children to scream when the house lights go down. But, aside from that, the performance was enjoyable. We were expecting to see Peter and the Wolf as well, but since this was a school performance, the time constraints only allowed for Snow White.

My particular favorite were the two dancers who portrayed the Queen. The Queen was regal and horribly beautiful, while the old hag was scary and funny in her struggles with the bird to get the apple back to Snow White. A lesson in stage acting was easily touched on – how the dancers use exaggerated movements and simple gestures to convey conversations. It was interesting how each movement needs to be coordinated and used most effectively – too fast or slow and the ‘words’ are lost. The Queen was particularly adept at making exaggerated conversational movements look smooth and graceful and watching her really helped the kids understand that.  We’ve been attending performances like this for some time; it’s really neat to see them growing up and appreciating them more as they get older.

Some pictures (admittedly not that great – we were in the balcony!!) from the ballet:

If you’re interested in resources to go along with this outing, you might like these:

Until next time…


SoST Youth Concert 2012: Hybrid Music

At the beginning of each new year, the Symphony of Southeast Texas hosts a Youth Concert. This year’s theme is ‘Hybrid Music’. Maestro Chelsea Tipton greeted the audience in his usual enthusiastic style, in ‘hybrid fashion’ – a formal tuxedo shirt, bowtie and coat with tails, and a casual bottom: cargo shorts and tennis shoes, so he could move around and not get too warm on stage.

We started this morning’s performance with Leonard Bernstein’s On The Town: Three Dance Episodes [Times Squere 1944]. We were introduced to the saxophone, and its relatively young history as an instrument compared to the other instruments. Maestro Tipton talked about jazz being a uniquely American style of music and how much the composers of the day wanted to convey the action or feelings or images that they saw around them in their music.

Then he talked about summer – what we see and do, how it feels – which led into Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: Summer featuring guest violinist, and 9th grade student, Karen Ji. We first saw Miss. Ji perform a few months ago at the Side-By-Side concert, and it was lovely to hear her perform again.

After Vivaldi, Maestro Tipton invited Lamar professor Lou Arrington to the stage to talk about movement; specifically, how music and dance work together. She demonstrated a tango step for us, and then Maestro Tipton led the orchestra in a tango number (complete with surprise dancers). In line with today’s concert theme, we then heard SUMMER – The 4 Seasons of Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzolla, which features samples from Vivaldi’s ‘Summer’ remixed with a tango rhythm.

The final performance was a fusion that many of the adults in the audience remember from years ago – the theme song from The Flintsones Meet The Jestsons movie. It’s always fun to hear music that brings back memories!

If you’re looking for resources to coordinate with this music, here are some that you might find useful:


Lutcher Theater

The Lutcher Theater has once again commenced the children’s series of plays! Beginning with a wonderfully charming performance of Giggle, Giggle, Quack by the Dallas Children’s Theater troupe, Triangle Homeschoolers had a great time watching the misadventures of Cow, Pig, Hen and mischievous Duck.

We’ll be attending many of the upcoming performances in the children’s series this year. Some of our group members have attended these shows in the past and have yet to be disappointed. If you’re interested in attending a show with us, we’d love to hear from you!