Thursday, July 23, 2009

Time to Take Off!

I want to let everyone know that I have greatly enjoyed leading everyone around NE Ohio's best field tripping sites for the past 6 years, but it is time for me to "hang up my hat" as far as field trips go.

Due to changes in my life and new opportunities, I will not be leading Take Off! any longer. I wish all of you the best in your home schooling adventures. I hope to be able to publish a guide to field tripping in NE Ohio or some kind of resource for those of you who continue to pursue educational opportunities in the area, but I don't have any idea of when that would become a reality.

Take care, and you are welcome to email me if you have any questions about field tripping opportunities in the area. I'm still here; I'm just even crazier busy than before.

Happy Field Tripping!

Jen Lake

Monday, September 15, 2008

Take Off! is offline due to recent storms

Hello all!
Since I am at the library for my internet usage due to a severe power outage at home, I am unable to respond personally to any emails, registrations, etc.
It couldn't have happened at a much more inconvenient time, what with trying to get fall field trips planned, etc. However, I hope to be back online in the next few days.

I hope that you are all safe and sound and taking care.
Remember to pray for those who were more than just inconvenienced by the recent storms.

We will be back to a full field trip schedule very soon, and I look forward to taking off with you all this year!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Cleveland Orchestra & Museum of Art

Well, we finally made it to a Cleveland Orchestra concert, and it was as great as expected. The concert was called "Music from Planet X" and since it was an educational concert for young students, it was very fun and relaxed.

Somehow, we were seated in the front row, which is incredibly close to the stage. You know how most stages have an orchestra "pit" or at least an area in front where the orchestra is often placed, so that they are out of the way of the show? Not the case at Severance Hall, where the orchestra is the main attraction. This means that if you have long legs or unusually large feet, you might want to find seating in any other row than the front. I could actually put my feet up on the side of the stage. I didn't realize until I actually did it, that the stage moves! I'm assuming that they allow for the wooden stage to expand with changing temperature and pressure from the performers on the stage. Still, it was pretty cool.

A mime troupe (total of 2) provided the fun story to go along with the interesting music. They were dressed as aliens, and had a grand time of trying to take over the orchestra with their lights and "lasers." The aliens were incredibly funny, and all of the children (except my 4 year old, who cowered in my shoulder whenever the aliens were onstage) laughed hysterically at them.

The Cleveland Orchestra provided educational information and teacher guides to use to help with teaching the children about the music.
As for the music, it was sublime.

After the concert, we walked a block or so back to our parked car, and decided to take advantage of the free Modern Masters show at the Cleveland Museum of Art, which was across the street. You might think it's a bad idea to take a 4 year old to an art museum, but she really enjoyed herself, and behaved very well. I just hated to miss out on such a great opportunity. Many of the greatest impressionist painters and other amazing art legends were represented, and for free! I just couldn't pass it up.
So, we strolled around the art museum, looking at the original works of Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Berthe Morisot, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Rene Magritte, Vincent Van Gogh and more. I had no idea that my 10 year old was such a fan of Van Gogh. As she walked into a room behind me, she said, "These are Van Gogh, aren't they?" And she was correct. How many 10 year olds could tell one artist from another? I know I couldn't at that age. It was an awe-inspiring show. I'm so used to looking at prints of famous paintings, that I just couldn't believe I was standing in front of the the actual paintings.

We completely enjoyed ourselves, but then had to hurry to get home in time.
Even with the cold wind and the hurrying around, it was totally worth it.
What a wonderful day!

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

Noah's Lost Ark

Had a great time visiting Noah's Lost Ark near Alliance today. A really great place for people to visit, but an even better place for the endangered, abused animals who come here to live. Noah's Lost Ark is a sanctuary for exotic animals who are abused, neglected or whose owners can't take care of them anymore. We were able to see lions, tigers, even a liger (for those Napoleon Dynamite fans) and many more exotic animals. The personal stories of some of these animals were heart-breaking, but their recoveries at Noah's Lost Ark are truly amazing.

The kids had fun feeding some of the animals through a feeding tube. Much safer than feeding them directly, of course. We had a large group, but were able to make it around to see and learn about all of the animals. We found that everyone there was very knowledgeable about the animals, and they were able to answer the many questions that the children had.

They have a small gift shop, and there is even a covered pavilion if you would like to bring a lunch and picnic, which some of us chose to do.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Buehler's - Dover

Had a very fun time at a field trip/cooking class/tour at the Buehler's grocery store in Dover in Tuscarawas County.
We had a very small group of only 5 children, but the staff there did not treat us any differently than if there were many. The cooking class teacher, Cheryl, first showed the children how to make "turtle bread" and then, they were each allowed to make their own. My 3 year old really enjoyed being able to do it herself. After our breads were ready for the oven, we all walked to the bakery together. We were able to see our bread as it spun on racks in the huge convection oven, which was really neat, and we learned that Buehler's makes all the items sold in their bakery, many of them from scratch. We watched the bread slicer machine with all its interesting gadgets, and asked questions about many different machines we saw in the bakery.

The children and parents were enthralled by the cake decorator, who saved an ordered cake to decorate as we watched. She took a plain white cake and made it a beautiful gift for someone's birthday in spring pastels. She was very patient, answering questions and lifting the cake to show the children each step she made.

We also toured the store rooms, the cooler, the freezer, the produce section and met a lobster in the meat department. A few of the children decided to touch him.

It was a very nice time, and I would love to go back for one of their regularly scheduled cooking classes.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Wilderness Center, Stark County

In early February, we spent a day at The Wilderness Center in Wilmot. We enjoyed 2 programs about animals.
The staff were wonderful to deal with and had no problem switching our program choice when the weather decided to get so cold that even I didn't want to walk around outside.

Our first program taught us about the animals who are native to Ohio. We learned about their living habits, habitats, food choices, etc. This was a hands-on program with numerous real animal examples to pass around to the students. Most of the exhibits were birds who had come to some unfortunate end (one had a tag that said it flew into a window), but there were also a handful of animal pelts and skeletons and a couple of turtle shells. I've never felt a skunk before, but it was much softer than you might think.
Even my 3 year old held quite a few of the objects, studying them a little, but mostly just enjoying being a part of the group.

After this program, we had a nice lunch and spent a few free minutes in their observation room. We watched a large group of deer taking advantage of the bird feeders outside the observation window. Skittish, they were, but definitely bold as well, spending much time near the building.
The building is really nice, by the way.

Our second program was called "For Goodness, Snakes!" and was, obviously, all about snakes, but especially those who reside in Ohio. We learned how to spot a poisonous snake, why you should respect and avoid all snakes, and many more fun facts. We also learned that a child can "keep" a live wild animal specimen as a pet for a certain period of time, but an adult must release any animal captured within 30 days. This allows for personal study but also gives the animal the best chances for surviving again after release.
This program came with more hands-on experiences as we all felt a snakeskin, but this time, it was on a living specimen - a real, live brown snake who resides at the Wilderness Center. The kids just loved it (as did I. I'm a snake-lover from way back). There was also an easy experiment to do with the children about learning how snakes hear by using a tuning fork.

I loved our program guide. She obviously loves kids and animals and is a wonderful teacher. She was very patient with our children, especially with their eager questions.

For info on your own program, check out their site at The Wilderness Center. They do have a minimum group size, but it's easy to reach. They will do age-specific classes as needed, and are willing to work with your group. I have been consistently pleased with their staff.

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WFMJ-TV in Youngstown

A fun tour led by a friendly lady in Youngstown! We have had a few groups tour the studios at WFMJ-TV in Youngstown during January and February. The guide is a fun, vibrant personality, who loves giving tours, especially to kids.
Here are some of the comments I received from families who attended:

"Hey the field trip (WFMJ) was great! My kids said it was Ken and Barbie
doing the news. And then, we were able to watch their 11:00 news
on a small set that for some reason gets weird stations. It came in
clearer than our Cleveland stations." (a Cleveland parent)

"We had a great time. Madonna was a riot and a great guide."

"We had a great time on the WFMJ tour. Madonna Pinkard was a wonderful
hostess, I truly enjoyed her enthusiasm. We were both surprised to
learn that our family was the only local family attending
today, and that some made the trip from Cleveland and Akron for this
trip." (a Youngstown-area parent)

The tour is free, which is great, and is recommended for children age 7 and up. A live studio broadcast was included, along with the behind the scenes tour.
You can contact Madonna Pinkard, public relations director, at (330) 747-7982 to schedule a tour for your group.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Schwebel Baking Company, Cuyahoga Falls

Our group was treated to 2 wonderful tours at the Schwebel Baking Company in Cuyahoga Falls, Summit County, in January.
Again, another parent sent me her comments about the tour, and I'd like to share them with you.
Thanks, Laura!

"Oh those smells!!! Today we toured the Schwebels bread factory in Cuyahoga Falls. You could smell the fresh bread from the parking lot. The tour started with a short film on the great family history of the Schwebel family.
The tour guide then took us through the factory from dry ingredients to bagged bread. It was loud and aromatic. I really wanted to put my hands in the huge vats of dough. The tour ended with everyone receiving a fresh loaf of wonderful bread."

The tour is only recommended for children of school age and older, so under 6 years is not allowed. They also have strict rules about jewelry and items not allowed on the tour.
Be sure to get this information when scheduling your tour.
You can schedule your tour by calling (330) 929-9507. The tour is free, including the loaf of bread at the end.

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Football Hall of Fame, Canton

In January, we had a group of students and parents spend a day learning about professional football, and specifically, the many ties to our NE Ohio area at the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Stark County.
One parent was kind enough to share her experience with me, so I'm sharing it here with you.
Thanks, Ileen!


"The field trip was great! The tour started with a speaker taking the group
to a meeting room & discussing the history of the football helmet. We
watched a short football "bloopers" video, that had everyone laughing. The
speaker also gave us several details about the Pro Football Hall of Fame,
historical facts & interesting statistics. He also had interactive
questions to get the students involved. This took up at least the 30 to 45
minutes, which was great. Then the students were given "The Investigative
Reporter", field trip questionnaires, to fill out. We had a great time
searching for the fun facts in the museum. The questionnaire included a map of the museum
to help us find our facts.
The boys had a blast & so did I! We would enjoy
going there anytime. We left the museum around 3:30 pm & probably could
have stayed longer, but we had other places to go."

If you are interested in scheduling your own fun field trip at the Hall of Fame, you can find
info on their website at Pro Football HOF.


Giant Eagle - Amherst

A small group of field trippers had a treat at their local Giant Eagle store last December, and one of the moms was gracious enough to share her thoughts about the field trip. Thanks, Lynda!

"Just thought I'd let you know about our tour. Our "guide" Pat, Mrs. B. was
excellent. We had a small group, however, we had 3 younger (5-7yo) and 4 older kids (11-14).
The woman did a great job including all the kids in the information. Even the
moms thought it was a great field trip.

The children got "treats" that went
along with the different departments and food groups. We sampled celery,
apples, and a star fruit; a multi grain European bread that was yummy, fresh
from the bakery and was warm :) and a sample of shaved turkey lunchmeat and
American cheese. And at the end, we got a cookie and each child received a
goody bag. Oh yeah, they even were able to touch a live lobster! The
children enjoyed going behind the scenes in the Bakery, Meat department, and
the back room where the deliveries are unloaded and we even got to walk in
the various large freezers.
We were pleased with the amount of information and "freebies". I would
strongly suggest this fieldtrip."

For more information about scheduling a field trip at a Giant Eagle near you, check out Field Trip Factory.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Equine Specialty Hospital

Had a wonderful tour, or rather, two tours at the Equine Specialty Hospital in Burton in Geauga County. I was able to join both of our tour groups for successive tours this time, which made it even more interesting for me.
The Equine Specialty Hospital is generally a referral facility, which means that most of their patients were referred by veterinarians who weren't able to treat the animal or felt that the hospital was the best place for treatment. This means that they have some of the most cutting edge technology in equine medicine today. Each tour I took was slightly different because the guides were different, so we were able to experience almost every aspect of the hospital.

The first thing you might notice when you arrive may be the underlying aroma of horse and the bodily fluids associated with an ill or injured horse. The facility is not grand, but practical. From outside, it seems small and has a quaint tudor style. Inside, every inch of space is used for the animals, treatment, etc. We were taught in the hallway about radiation diagnosis and other technologies with photos to view of some former patients and their treatments. I've never seen a horse completely upside-down before. We visited the ICU stalls, the CT scan room, the radiation room, where we saw the overhead track and pulley which lifts the patients onto x-ray tables, the CT scan, operating tables, etc. We also went through the pre-op room and the lab, where the children found out why they don't put any food in that particular refrigerator.
We all had many questions and the staff was very gracious about answering every one. I learned more than I ever thought I would about equine medicine.

What an interesting place to visit! We saw some amazing animals, and I am so glad that there is a facility like this to save the lives of these horses. If you're interested in scheduling your own tour, you can find contact info on their website at Younger children will be bored with all the talk and medical mumbo jumbo. This is a "hands-off" tour for the most part because of all the medical equipment around. Especially great for your upper elementary or older student who is interested in horses or medicine.

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