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Arizona Field Trips – Montezuma Castle and Well

Article and photos by Megan Allison, Glendale

Growing up in rural Indiana where farm lots meet wooded, deciduous forests, the seasons greeted me
with endless beauty: trout lilies, purple grape hyacinths, redbud blooms, and spring peepers in the springtime. In the summer there were quiet light displays of fireflies and noisy cicadas. Fall brought displays of color as maple trees shed their summer green. Winter gifted our region with pure white, powdery snow with an occasional red cardinal or squirrel darting across the cold terrain. I’d describe myself as a nature lover, and I fondly remember watching Marty Stouffer’s Wild America episodes with my dad, dreaming of being right there filming the scene of clashing, battling rams.

My move to Arizona as a young adult, specifically, the giant metropolis of Phoenix, was quite a culture
shock to this Hoosier. However, springtime in the desert is like coming across a buried treasure that might be missed if you aren’t intentionally looking for it. It is a most wonderful time of the year to be raising and homeschooling children in Arizona. Now is the time to go outside and enjoy the pleasant weather and the state’s natural riches. One of my family’s favorite places to visit is Montezuma Castle in Camp Verde; it’s a quick 90-minute drive north of Phoenix. Well-preserved Sinagua ruins rise above the riparian area in Verde Valley. Montezuma Castle is Arizona history: a cliff dwelling that bears evidence of the remarkable past culture in our state. It’s a short, easy walk to the dwelling, and the surrounding area is beautiful.

Plan a field trip with your family, and you’ll quickly unearth the truth: the ruins are inaccurately named
for Montezuma. Make it a true nature study and observe the trees, birds, reptiles, and insects that call this area home. Beaver Creek supports thriving vegetation. Day trips with our children break up the monotony of the school day. It’s an opportunity to learn with your children by exploring the area together, inviting young minds to communicate from their perspective. Can you see the order, attention to detail, beauty and intelligence wrapped up in nature? There is significant value in discovering the world through a child’s eyes, and in homeschooling time is on our side. We instill a love of learning by experiencing it outside a textbook. When Dad gets to come along, we all benefit from making memories and participating in the learning process.

 

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Don’t pass up visiting Montezuma Well, a nearby natural limestone sinkhole. Its origin remains a
mystery, and it hosts some unique organisms that you’ll definitely want to learn about. There’s a nice picnic area between the castle and the well with Arizona sycamore, cottonwoods, and lush green grass: a perfect place for a packed lunch. Look for the original canals built by hand that have calcified over time and were used to irrigate the fields of the past. As you climb the hill to reach the well, imagine being the first Sinagua to see it.

On our first visit we picked up Jr. Ranger Programs for the kids from the Park Service, and they earned their
commemorative Jr. Ranger badges by taking part in age appropriate activities. I pray that as you take time to enjoy the great outdoors here in Arizona in the springtime and in all seasons, whether it’s observing nature in your neighborhood or driving to Montezuma castle and well, something resonates in your heart about the beautiful memories to be made with your children.

While attending the AFHE Convention a few years ago as I took those first steps toward homeschooling. I realized I have a legacy to pass to my children. I want to give mine my very best effort. I looked back at my own school years and decided to take the great parts mixed with what I was learning about being a good teacher from other seasoned homeschoolers. I remembered that my favorite days involved field trips. So, I’ll be packing many more into our school years, and you should too. This is the freedom of homeschool. May you have your best family adventures this season!

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AFHE Home Blog Field Trip Ideas Uncategorized

Arizona Field Trips – Mini Time Machine Museum, Tucson

Article and photos by Cindy Duell, Tucson

According to Smithsonianmag.com, only five museums in the US are devoted to the art of miniatures.
The Mini Time Machine Museum exists right here in Tucson,Arizona due to the generosity and vision of a passionate hobbyist whose private collection became the foundation for this marvelous museum, and it offers many delightful displays to discover.

You might primarily think of miniatures as dollhouses, and that is partially correct, but visitors here see
so much more than that! Guests of all ages find plenty to fascinate and spark the imagination. Beyond the welcome desk, seeing the enormous “tree” inviting you into the Enchanted Realm Gallery is irresistible! Here you may look down on a little wintry village through the glass floor beneath your feet, find cohorts of dragons and elves, and admire collections of vintage toys (perhaps some of your – or your grandparents’ – favorite childhood playthings). For scavenger hunt lovers, the quest to find Caitlin (the resident fairy) keeps you looking around every corner throughout your visit.

Moving on from the Enchanted Realm, you enter the History Gallery. Featuring historical recreations,
antiques, and scale models of actual buildings, these creations reflect a great variety of time periods and
settings. My favorite is the model of the Gamble House in Pasadena, a celebrated example of the
Craftsman style of architecture from the mid-20 th century. Your favorite might be the “Little House on
the Prairie” log cabin! Some of the models here are quite old, themselves, constructed as long ago as
the 1700s!

The MTM has a third permanent gallery, dedicated to Exploring the World. The models and items here
depict architectural styles and furnishings found in very different cultures, and they also demonstrate
how miniatures themselves are used in other countries. Throughout the museum, visitors will see
exquisite (and yes, amazingly small) examples of handicrafts such as pottery, needlepoint, jewelry,
carving, sculpture, and clothing.

Temporary exhibits have featured such marvels as miniatures carved on the tips of pencil leads, hand-
built figures of famous people throughout history, mechanized miniatures, and much more. There is a
gift shop with souvenirs, dollhouse furniture, and kits to construct on your own. Classes and seminars
are offered throughout the year for children and adults. You can even take a virtual tour at the
museum’s easily navigated website, theminitimemachine.org.

I hope you will enjoy the Mini Time Machine Museum as much as our family has!

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Arizona Field Trips – Sky Harbor Airport

Article and photos by Megan Allison, Glendale

Through the giant glass windows minute after minute we watched commercial jets of all colors take off and approach for landing. From our high view at the PHX Sky Train platform you could see the long length of the runways, the mountains in the distance, and the beautiful blue Arizona sky. It’s a perfect viewing spot for my boys who are fascinated with airplanes. Dubbed America’s friendliest airport, I understood why as the pleasant tour guides described their passion for air travel and passenger comfort at Sky Harbor Airport.

At the beginning of this school year, our family visited this major airport for a guided tour. Airport staff and volunteers were ready for us with a headset for each attendee. First we visited the different aviation levels starting in the baggage area. Then we learned about the airport’s history, operation, and amenities. Next we spent time at the art museum, and took a ride on the PHX Sky Train. In addition there is an outdoor eating area.

Unquestionably, my children’s favorite part was the sky high ride. We stepped into a large pod without seat belts and glass windows from the floor to ceiling surrounded us for the ultimate viewing experience. Traveling above the ground at a good speed is like something out of the movies for a young person. Who else gets to spend the middle of their school day standing on the platform at a busy airport watching massive jets haul packages and people from one destination to another?

Some of my family’s best elementary years are spent stepping into the real world and getting up close and personal with the people who work in areas that interest my children. Arizona has endless opportunities for us to meet the world. My children make connections between what they’ve learned and real life when we do field trips together. It’s fascinating to learn about airport work: the sights and sounds help sear the learning into my children’s memory. I love these special times with them.

The tour at Sky Harbor continues as volunteer navigators explain the current airport improvement projects including the modernization of terminal 3 and how the airport operates daily to ensure safe, timely flights. With 44 million passengers every year it takes great organization and efficiency to meet the needs of each traveler. Sky Harbor works hard to help put passengers at ease as they proceed through the airport. Free pre-scheduled airport tours are offered each month. Your family can do a self-guided tour or organize a trip. We enjoyed one with our support group. Overall, this family friendly tour satisfied every child’s desire to ride elevators, escalators and watch air traffic go in and out of one of the world’s busiest airports.

With a little bit of prep work you can easily tie this trip in with a study on aviation. Be intentional and use field trips to enrich your lesson plans. Sometimes I have my boys think up questions they can ask during a tour. How do the 1,200 planes a day keep from crashing into one another? Where does the baggage go once it leaves the check-in area? What skills are people using during a work day at the airport? What education do you need to become a pilot? Questions can be used to encourage learning and focus the attention to certain things we want our children to pay attention to during the trip. I follow up our trips with asking my children to retell the best part of the trip or what was something new they learned. Older children can write a summary. Sometimes we’re spurred on to do more research. Whatever direction the wind sock may be blowing today, one thing is sure: you cannot go
wrong with adding a little air-venture to your school day.

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54th Legislature Wraps Up

Sine Die

by Allison Gentala, AFHE Government Affairs

May 28, 2019

As the school year wraps up for many of us, so does the 1st regular session of the 54th Legislature at Arizona’s State Capitol. Much like school years, sessions are exciting and fun, but we’re always ready for a break at the end. This legislative session was largely uneventful for homeschool freedom—which is exactly the way we like it!

A bit of History: The session opened on January 14 and adjourned sine die at 12:58 am on May 28. This year’s legislative session was longer than average, but by no means the longest. In 2013, the 51st Legislature 1st Regular Session lasted 151 days as Governor Brewer pushed for Medicaid expansion. Previously, in 2009, the 49th Legislature 1st regular session ran 170 days due to budget disagreements. As if that wasn’t enough, summer of 2009 was full of special sessions where lawmakers were hard at work for an additional 71 days. But the record for the longest session was set back in 1988 by the 38th Legislature 2nd regular session, which ran 173 days, as the impeachment of Governor Evan Mecham was underway.  

AFHE’s Involvement

The 54th Legislature is closely divided. There are 31 Republicans and 29 Democrats in the House, 17 Republicans and 13 Democrats in the Senate. While AFHE is a non-profit and stays bipartisan, legislators do not. The close vote margin makes it difficult to both pass favorable legislation for homeschoolers and to oppose legislation that jeopardizes homeschool freedom. We are grateful there were no bills limiting or regulating homeschoolers this session and no special situations for homeschoolers requiring legislation to rectify or clarify.

AFHE’s legislative team spent the session watching bills, meeting new legislators, joining school choice coalition meetings, and getting homeschool information packets to all legislators. Additionally, throughout the session, our government affairs team responded to questions from lawmakers about how pending legislation might affect homeschooling.

In addition to legislative work, AFHE’s Government Affairs Team also works to build relationships with elected officials outside the Legislature. This year we have been gradually meeting with county school superintendents and mailed each one a homeschool information packet. It’s important to know that many bills pass or are killed by one or two votes. Although as a nonprofit organization which is bipartisan, AFHE does not support candidates. We do, however, support homeschool freedom and parental rights. If you want to be a part of protecting this freedom and rights, we encourage you to research the candidates and be certain to cast your vote every election cycle in accordance with your views in these areas.

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Together, we are making a difference to preserve homeschool freedom!

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Learning at Home and in Nature

Learning at Home and in Nature

Guest Post by Charlene Notgrass, Notgrass History

President Theodore Roosevelt received most of his childhood education at home. He learned from his father and mother. He also learned from his aunt and grandmother who lived with his family in New York City. Their lessons equipped him with knowledge, values, and habits that would guide his life.

Young Theodore’s parents gave him and his siblings opportunities to experience the outdoors. Their family took wonderful field trips and vacations. They spent summers in the country, roaming, exploring, riding horses, and climbing trees. The children went barefoot much of the time. They watched the haying and harvesting, picked apples, hunted frogs and woodchucks, and gathered nuts to sell to their parents.

In the country, the children had all kinds of pets—cats, dogs, rabbits, a raccoon, and a Shetland pony. Theodore loved these extended vacations so much that he felt eager to go when spring came and sad when the family moved back to town in the late fall.

While he was a student at Harvard, Theodore made two trips to Maine with friends and a local guide named Bill Sewall. Mr. Sewall told his family later that Theodore would take his Bible each day and go alone to a certain place in the woods. There he communed with God and admired the wonder and beauty of the natural world. (Now known as Bible Point, the location is a Maine State Historic Site.)

Touring America

Theodore Roosevelt spent many years in public service. Elected vice president in 1900, he became president after the death of William McKinley in 1901. In 1903, President Roosevelt left Washington, D.C., for a nine-week journey across the United States by train, automobile, and horse. He traveled 14,000 miles, visiting twenty-five states, and speaking more than 250 times.

Celebrating the beauty and majesty of God’s Creation was an important part of his trip. Roosevelt spent two weeks camping at Yellowstone with naturalist John Burroughs. He also asked conservationist John Muir to give him a personal tour of Yosemite.

 

President Theodore Roosevelt at the Grand Canyon, 1903
President Theodore Roosevelt at the Grand Canyon, 1903

Visiting Arizona

Roosevelt made his first visit to the Arizona Territory on this trip. He had served with soldiers from Arizona in the Spanish-American War, so he felt a connection to the area. His visit to the Grand Canyon made an impact on him, as he expressed in this speech while there:


In the Grand Canyon, Arizona has a natural wonder which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country–to keep this great
wonder of nature as it now is. I was delighted to learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope that you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel, or anything else, to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the great loneliness and beauty of the canyon. Leave it as it is. You can not improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American if he can travel at all should see.

We have gotten past the stage, my fellow-citizens, when we are to be pardoned if we treat any part of our country as something to be skinned for two or three years for the use of the present generation, whether it is the forest, the water, the scenery. Whatever it is, handle it so that your children’s children will get the benefit of it. If you deal with irrigation, apply it under circumstances that will make it of benefit, not to the speculator who hopes to get profit out of it for two or three years, but handle it so that it will be of use to the home-maker, to the man who comes to live here, and to have his children stay after him. Keep the forests in the same way. Preserve the forests by use; preserve them for the ranchman and the stockman, for the people of the Territory, for the people of the region round about. Preserve them for that use, but use them so that they will not be squandered, that they will not be wasted, so that they will be of benefit to the Arizona of 1953 as well as the Arizona of 1903.

Conservation and Compassion

President Roosevelt returned to Washington wanting even more to preserve America’s treasures. He made the Grand Canyon a national monument. While president, Roosevelt encouraged Congress to set aside land for five new national parks. He also set aside 150 national forests, fifty-one national bird reserves, four national wildlife preserves, and eighteen national monuments. Theodore Roosevelt was the conservationist president. In all, he helped to set aside 230 million acres for government protection.

According to Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (NASB). As homeschoolers today, we can follow the example of Theodore Roosevelt’s parents. We can teach our children and grandchildren to take care of the world God made and the people he put in it.


Special Links

Watch the Notgrass History video series to learn more about Theodore Roosevelt’s homeschool experience: notgrass.com/trvideo

Retrace President Roosevelt’s 1903 cross-country journey with photographs and summaries of his speeches: notgrass.com/tr1903

Charlene Notgrass, Notgrass History

Charlene Notgrass, Notgrass HistoryCharlene is a Christian and a veteran homeschooling mom. She is the wife of Ray, the most wonderful man in the world. Charlene has always loved being a mother and now relishes the role of mother-in-law and grandmother. She is proud of her grandma name, “Little.”

Charlene oversees curriculum development and is a lead curriculum author at Notgrass History. She loves to encourage homeschooling mothers through her Daily Encouragement for Homeschooling Mothers blog and free online community for moms. Charlene enjoys reading, quilting, drawing, sewing, and improving their old house.

Author portrait by Kevin Wimpy

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Homeschool Graduation: Is a Finance Class Required?

by Allison Gentala, AFHE Board Member, Director of Government Affairs

Over the years, Arizona lawmakers have sought ways to ensure that high school graduates are well prepared to face the world that awaits them. In order to accomplish this, bills have been passed adding tests or classes to the graduation requirements of Arizona high school students.

In 2015, HB 2064 was passed requiring all public school students to pass a civics test in order to graduate from high school starting in 2017.

In 2019, SB 1184 is before the legislature and would add the requirement of a finance class to ensure that students know how to balance a checkbook, make a budget, and understand the consequences of debt.

While both of these new graduation requirements are wonderful for preparing students to launch well into adult life—and we would encourage you to equip your students with this knowledge—neither are required of homeschoolers.

Homeschooling is not regulated by the Board of Education

Privately funded education is not subject to oversight by the Board of Education. Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) §15-203, in listing the powers and duties of the Board of Education, says that “the state board of education shall exercise general supervision over and regulate the conduct of the public school system and adopt any rules and policies it deems necessary to accomplish this purpose.” No power is given to the Board of Education to supervise or regulate homeschool.

Homeschooling has its own legal definition found in ARS  §15-802, which states homeschool is “a nonpublic school conducted primarily by the parent, guardian, or other person who has custody of the child, or nonpublic instruction provided in the child’s home.”

Graduation requirements for homeschoolers

The parent sets the graduation requirements for their homeschooled student, creates the high school transcript, and issues the diploma. If a student is college bound, it is helpful to research college entrance requirements for a school your child is likely to attend and plan their high school courses accordingly.

The AFHE Legislative Team is actively watching legislation that may impact Arizona homeschool freedom. We hope updates like this are beneficial to our community.

Learn more about Arizona homeschool law

Do you have questions about homeschooling in Arizona and the law? Check out AFHE’s AZ Law page.

We invite you to send in your questions to homeschool@afhe.org and we may use some of them for future blog posts.

You can support the legislative work AFHE does on behalf of Arizona homeschoolers through a one-time or recurring tax-deductible donation. DONATE HERE

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2019 Legislative Session

Happy new year from AFHE’s Government and Legislative Affairs Team. It’s amazing that we are almost to February!

As most of us are back into our homeschool routines after the holidays, ninety Arizona legislators have convened at the State Capitol, some of them for their first session. The new legislative session began January 14, but most legislators began preparing weeks in advance.

This will be the first regular session of Arizona’s 54th Legislature. Arizona lawmakers will be working countless hours this session, hopefully to further establish Arizona as one of the best states in which to live, work, and raise a family.

As we head into this new session, we remember the legislators who have devoted years to preserving homeschool freedom in our state. A special thank you to President Steve Yarbrough, who recently retired from the legislature. He has served in key leadership roles in both House and Senate, including as President of the Senate. Senator Yarbrough is an incredibly effective advocate of school choice and a dear friend to the homeschool community.

We are proud of the two bills AFHE supported the last two sessions. In 2017, we successfully urged the adoption of HB 2389, which requires government entities in the state of Arizona to recognize a homeschool diploma and transcript in the same manner as a public school diploma for employment. And, in 2018, we supported HB 2536, which extends the same college credits to homeschool students that public school students receive at our JTEDs (Joint Technical Education Districts such as West-MEC and EVIT). Both bills were sponsored by Representative Rusty Bowers, who was selected in November by the Members of the House of Representatives to lead their chamber as the Speaker. Speaker Bowers was the recipient of AFHE’s Friend of Homeschool Freedom Award in 2017, and we are glad to see him continue to lead with a commitment to excellence.

Arizona lawmakers have filed hundreds of proposed bills for the new session. The AFHE Legislative Team is already searching and reading through these bills to ensure the protection of your homeschool freedoms as well as those of the next generation.

We look forward to a wonderful session and want to invite you all to join us in prayer for continued success in our mission to preserve the freedom to homeschool in Arizona.

Allison Gentala
AFHE Board Member
Director of Government Affairs