Meetings suspended for now

Meetings for SLHE have been suspended until further notice - Check this space to find out when they are reinstated.

Monday, November 19, 2012

SLHE Geography Bee!

Come participate in the Geography Bee on Friday, December 14th at the Draper Library at 1 pm!  Homeschooled students in grades four through eight are eligible to participate.  They must also be a resident of Salt Lake County and not already participating in the Geography Bee through another school or group.  If you have a student who is interested in participating, it is important that they get registered to be in the Bee.  Contact stwhitney (at) for details.  You can also just watch the Geography Bee, but it's not the right environment for small children and babies, so please find other arrangements for them.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Summer Schooling

First - UHEA is hosting a Graduate Recognition Night for students who have completed their high school journey.  A $30 registration fee covers admission for the graduate, parents, and a few close family members and/or friends.  The fee also includes one Graduate Recognition Book (with bios and pictures of the graduates), a certificate, flower, and light refreshments.  There will be table space for grads to display talents and accomplishments.  You can find details here, and don't delay - the deadline for registration is May 25th!

For this month's meeting we talked about how our schooling does or doesn't change during the summer.  Some families don't change much at all, instead choosing to take longer breaks during other periods of the year.  Others take advantage of the weather and move some of their studies outside or begin nature journals. 

For those families who do "take a break" from their regular schedule, there are lots of opportunities to avoid summer "brain drain."  Continuing with your favorite "extracurricular" activities can be fun!  Book clubs and park days don't stop just because "school is out for summer."  There are tons of activities in the community all summer long - the libraries plan lots of great events and have summer reading programs.  Volunteer opportunities that are more kid-friendly often pop up when school is out.  Star gazing and astronomy projects can be wonderful on warm summer nights.  Planting gardens is fun, educational, and you might get to eat the results! 

Finally, there is a lot going on in Utah right now!  The Leonardo is a fabulous new science center (or so I've heard!  It's time to go!), and homeschoolers can get an educational discount on a family membership (call for details - I believe you get $45 off of your membership, you may need to bring your homeschooling affidavit letter).  The new Utah Natural History Museum is another wonderful place to spend the day.  And the Hogle Zoo is opening Rocky Shores, a new exhibit featuring polar bears, otters, seals, and sea lions.  There's so much to do in the summer - who has time for "school" anyway?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


It was a great meeting tonight discussing the FIRST LEGO programs!  Below is a summary of info and some websites that you can check out to learn more...

Jr. FLL is for kids 6-8. They work in teams to research an open ended  problem (so they get to focus  on something they choose) and build a model related to the research topic. I've coached Jr. FLL teams for the past two years, and I'll be demonstrating the LEGO WeDo robot that you can get for  your team (designed for K-1st graders) It's very easy to use and program; my 5 year old had no problem changing the program to change the behavior of the robotic model. I'll talk about what it's like to coach a team, how much time and money are required, and what  your kids can learn by participating in the program. I'll also have some pictures with me of the projects that teams showed at the JrFLL Expo held in conjunction with the FLL State Championships this year, so you'll have an idea of what the kids actually end up producing.

FLL is the program for kids from 9-14. FLL teams do a much more involved research project and design and program an autonomous LEGO Mindstorm robot to perform tasks and interact with LEGO models on a 4'x8' playing surface.  The University of Utah runs a coaches training session in August for this program - I believe you can sign up even if you don't have a team registered yet, so check it out and ask all of your questions!
For more information, go here:

Also, if you search for FIRST LEGO League on YouTube, you'll find videos of
the robot game in action and get a better idea of what that part of the
program is about.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pi Day is Coming!

At our February meeting, we talked about Pi Day - March 14th. It's a great day to play around with math and learn a little bit about Pi. Here are some of our favorite suggestions for what to do on Pi Day!

The Exploratorium's website has lots of great math and science suggestions, and Pi day is no exception! Here are a couple of easy activities and lots of great links:

Vihart has so many great math videos - here's a fun one called "Pi is (still) wrong:"

And another Vihart video about Pi:

Maybe you should just subscribe to her channel while you're there. :)

Or maybe you want to plan a Pi Day Party with suggestions from Education World:

However you decide to mark Pi Day, be sure to have some fun! Make a pie. It's a classic pun that your kids will definitely enjoy.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mid-year burnout!

Well, the general consensus at the meeting was that avoiding burnout is far easier than dealing with it once it has set in. Here are some ideas that were discussed:

*It's important to keep expectations reasonable, and to remember that kids can learn things very quickly when they're both ready and interested.

*Keeping a housework routine with the kids helping with age-appropriate tasks can help keep you sane. Breakthrough Parenting was mentioned as a book with lists of age-appropriate tasks for children to help you get started. I bet Google has some good ideas on that, too. Consider approaching chores as a learning activity - "Here's what you get to learn to do this year, because you're old enough now!" Your children may enjoy checking things off as they learn them, and gain some confidence on the way.

*If you have pre-school aged children, perhaps giving them their own coloring books or other "workbooks" will help keep them occupied when you're working with an older child. Special toys that are only for playing with while Mom is working with a sibling can be helpful, too.

If things haven't been working as you'd like and you're actually getting burned out, a nice quote to consider was shared: "How long would you walk with a pebble in your shoe?" One of the greatest strengths of homeschooling is that you don't have to just continue on with a process that isn't working. There are more resources than you could possibly evaluate and try, so if what you're doing isn't working, try something else! Take a "library vacation" and spend days in the library looking for inspiration. Get outside and clear your minds. Reevaluate why you want your child to acquire a particular skill at this particular time. Talk to other moms (shameless plug - come to a SLHE meeting!). It's always reassuring to find that you're not alone (and you never are!).

Friday, November 18, 2011

Great Family Games

The meeting this month was a quiet one, but I wanted to share a few ideas for games that you and your family might enjoy.

First up is ThinkFun's Chocolate Fix. It's a logic game of trying to arrange the chocolates on the tray when given some visual hints as to where the pieces go. Think simplified Sudoku with chocolate candies instead of numbers. My boys love playing with the candy game pieces, and there's no reading required. The puzzles start out very simple but by the end get easily complex enough for logic-puzzle loving adults.

Another great strategy game is Blokus. Up to four players try to arrange their geometric shapes on the board, blocking other players while trying to keep space open for their own pieces. The rules are simple, but the strategy is complex! There's no reading required, so this one can be played by the children amongst themselves, but the strategy is engaging enough for adults to love.

Just recently, I introduced Quarto to my boys. It has some similarities with tic-tac-toe, but you are trying to get four game pieces in a row that share a characteristic, like height (tall or short), color (dark or light), shape (round or square). The kids love that you choose the piece that your opponent will play next. Another non-reading game that has enough strategy to it for adults to play!

Finally, don't forget old classics like Mastermind or Battleship. And there's always something great about getting outside and playing bocce, croquet, or just tag!

Have a great Holiday season. There's no meeting in December, but do join us in January for a discussion of mid-year burnout!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall and Winter Activities

As the weather starts to cool down, Utah has many great activities for families! At the meeting we tossed around lots of ideas, ranging from outdoor winter fun to great indoor places to play to seasonal events to marking the season at home. I've tried to include info about as many as possible below. I'm sure I've missed lots of your favorites - please make this post even better by adding them in the comments below!

Seasonal Events

Cornbelly's corn maze and pumpkin fest
in Lehi is a great Fall tradition. They have tons of activities, and field trips are easy to arrange. They specifically allow homeschoolers, and you can get a field trip rate of $4 with only 10 students in your group.

During the month of October, Gardner Village decorates with lots of fun full-size witches around the grounds. This year they seem to have added to the festivities with Witchfest, and it's been drawing big crowds! Even when no organized events are going on, it's great fun to walk around and look at the witches, so check the calendar and decide when you want to go.

November 11-13, there's a model train show at the Utah State Fair grounds. Put on by Wasatch Rails, the event features lots of awesome model trains for you to watch, including LEGO trains.

Starting in mid November, Gardner Village decorates with Elves for the holidays. You can print an elf scavenger hunt on their website to help you find all the elves when you visit.

November 30th - December 3rd is the Festival of Trees. It's a benefit for Primary Children's Medical Center, and it's a great way to kick-off your holiday season. Volunteers decorate and donate trees, from small and simple to huge and elaborate. The displays are auctioned and other items are for sale as a part of the benefit.

The Discovery Gateway Children's Museum has special events for both Halloween and Christmas! The "scare free" Halloween party (Oct 29) sounds fun, and breakfast with Santa (Dec 3, 10, 17) is a great way to see St. Nick in a relaxed setting with time for little ones to get used to him.

Thanksgiving point has a number of holiday events, including "Barnyard Boo," "Eat Like a Pilgrim," a breakfast with Santa, and their amazing drive-through light display. In the past they've hosted a Gingerbread House festival but I can't find any info about it online this year.

The Olympic Oval is having a Holiday Festival, but I can't find info about it online. I got a flier in the mail, so I'll just put all the important info here. Saturday, December 3rd, 5:30-10pm at the Oval (5662 S. Cougar Lane in Kearns). Cost: $2 per person or $1 per person with a canned food donation. $2 skate rental. They'll be having ice sculpting, Mr. & Mrs. Claus, a figure skating show, hockey game, horse carriage rides, funny face photo booth, pizza & drink for $1. Sounds like good family fun to me, and a great way to kick-off the December festivities.

Family Traditions
Some traditions we talked about were...

Light candles and sing Christmas carols.

Read special books that you only bring out in winter.
(suggestions: Snowflake Bentley and Ken Libbrecht's books on snowflakes)

Make a "Family Fun" box where you stash mementos of fun things you've done through the year, and read them together over Thanksgiving.

When the snow falls, use it to make cool stuff in your yard. Pack snow into a slide, create a "snow house" complete with an oven to "bake snow cookies" and chairs to sit in, whatever you can dream up!

Great Indoor Places to Play
My family always like to have a membership to somewhere indoors for winter (and when it's super hot in summer!). Here are some of the places we talked about at the meeting:

Thanksgiving Point Dinosaur Museum The a huge sand-and-water table and a dry sand pit for uncovering fossils would be enough, but this place also has a museum full of dinosaur exhibits, too!

Thanks to Zoo Arts & Parks funding, there are free days at lots of interesting Utah venues. You can find out about all of them here. The Utah Museum of Natural History and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts are indoor and have regular free days. The Living Planet Aquarium will be having a free day November 28th. (that page also has info about free days at outdoor locations like the aviary, zoo, botanical gardens)

The exhibits at the Clark Planetarium are always free, you only pay for movies and laser shows. They've got a great ball-run kinetic sculpture that kids can watch for hours!

If you've got a train enthusiast, check out the Utah State Railroad Museum in Ogden.

The Leonardo is a new Science/Tech/Art museum in Salt Lake City . From their "about" page: " Our mission: to inspire creativity and innovation. Our tools: a transdisciplinary fusion of art, science and technology." I can't wait to go!

There are lots of great indoor playgrounds, like Classic Fun Center (be sure to check their website for coupons before you go!), Jungle Jim's Playground, and Fat Cats Bowling.

Outdoor Winter Fun
Don't forget to get outside and have some winter fun!

Sledding - there are lots of great little sledding hills around. Please leave your favorite locations in the comments!

When it comes to skiing, Brighton offers great classes for beginners and children ski for free (under 7) and reduced rates (8-12).

If you're looking for an incredible tubing experience, check out Soldier Hollow. They have a lift so you ride up the hill in your tube, enjoying amazing views, and then get to come sliding back down the hill. Tickets aren't cheap ($10 for ages 3-7, $20 for 8 and up), but it makes a great special event. Soldier Hollow also has cross-country skiing.

Snow-shoeing is a sport that can be enjoyed by very young children. If you snow-shoe with your kids, post your favorite locations in the comments!

Writing this post has been a great way to jump-start my plans for the next few months - I often miss several of these events because once the holidays start rolling, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle! I hope it helps you find and keep track of your own must-do events for the next few months. And please put events in the comments that I've missed!