All posts by gonzalesonthego

Helping Children Develop Team Work Skills

Teamwork skills are an incredibly valuable thing to possess. They allow us to collaborate with others and accomplish great things. The make a person more employable, but are also one of the many necessary tools for starting and maintaining a well-run business.

In short, teamwork skills are one of the many skill sets you’ll want to make sure you instill in your children before they become adults.

Fortunately, it generally isn’t too hard to do this. After all, kids naturally gravitate toward one another, and with playtime comes both group effort and life lessons on the importance of working together.

Still, it’s nice to know you’re doing everything you can to facilitate these experiences. If you feel your children need help in this area, this is what we suggest you do.

Value Communication

Communication is a key component in working as a team. Therefore, it’s highly important that you teach your kids to voice their thoughts, but also listen to the ideas and opinions of others. With everyone’s ideas out in the open, a group of people can begin to establish a solution or plan that meets the needs of everyone, even if some compromises must be made.

Encourage Empathy

Of course, if you expect a child to make compromises with others, he or she will need to feel empathy for others. For the most part, humans are empathetic creatures. However, it never hurts to encourage empathy by actively displaying your empathy for others and by discussing the feelings of others in various situations.

By helping your child fine-tune their sense of empathy, you are giving them the tools they need to put themselves in another person’s shoes. This comes in handy when the child is expected to give up part of what they want for the benefit of the group.

Allow Time for Group Free-Play

Organized activities are great on occasion, but kids should be allowed plenty of time to play freely and without parent referees. This works especially well when children of various ages are allowed to play together, but any group of children will likely engage in a group game or project, working out kinks and compromising as needed if given enough time and freedom.

Present a Project

If a particular group of kids doesn’t seem to be clicking well together, you might consider presenting them with a project idea and allowing them to take it from there. For instance, pulling out a puzzle and letting the kids piece it together as a team is a great activity that encourages good teamwork skills.

LEGO is another awesome tool for encouraging children to work together to make something of their own, and board games that require the players to split into teams can be a good option for older kids.

Join a Team

As mentioned before, free-play is one of the most effective ways to encourage teamwork in children. That said, there is something to be said for organized teamwork as well. For this type of experience you might consider signing your child up for a sports team, band, choir, dance team, or theater group. Any of these will give your child a unique teamwork experience that will help them grow as team members and improve upon this particular skill set.

Looking for a team for your child to join, or a group of kids for them to engage in free-play with? We have both things right here at The Loop. Our Pretend Drama Club is perfect for young children who’d like to work in a group, and group guitar lessons are ideal for older children who are interested in exploring music with a group. Of course, The Loop is also happy to host casual get-togethers, meaning our location might just be the perfect place for your next free-play session.

For more information on all of our offerings, please feel free to contact us today!

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3 Quick and Easy DIY Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and that means it’s time to start rounding up Valentine’s cards for those you love. Of course, you could just run to the store and buy some premade cards and call it good. However, homeschooling parents who have the time should really consider crafting up some DIY cards.

Not only will making Valentines give you and your kiddos some good quality time together, this activity also gives young students a chance to practice handwriting, spelling, and fine motor skills.

Wondering what kinds of cards you might be able to create with minimal effort and frustration? Try these simple yet adorable options.

Lollipop Superheroes

These super cute superheroes are a hit with people of all ages. They are easy to make, sweet to eat, and the perfect gift for the heroes in your life.

Start with a Tootsie Pop or Blow-Pop. Glue a paper “mask” to the wrapper of the sucker “head”. Using a second piece of construction paper, cut out a small rounded triangle shape for the “cape” and add a short message to it. Finally, poke the lollipop stick through the top of the cape and deliver to all your family and friends.

Homemade Heart Crayons

Everyone loves to color! Feed their passion with these super cool crayons. Not only are they cute, they’re inexpensive to make.

Begin by finding all of the old broken crayons in your house. Make sure all crayons are wraperless and broken into small pieces not more than half and inch long. Add an assortment of crayons to each section of a heart-shaped silicone candy mold. Bake the crayons for 15–20 minutes at 250°F.

After removing the crayons from the oven—but before they are allowed to cool—add one drop of lemon oil to each heart. Allow the crayons to cool, then remove from the mold. Add each crayon to a special note before handing out to those you love.

Paint Sample Bookmarks

These bookmarks are an incredibly cute way to use paint sample cards you are no longer using. This craft is an especially good idea for those who work in a hardware store and see old samples thrown away regularly.

Gather several multi-color paint sample cards in reds and pinks. Use a heart-shaped hole punch to put some decorative holes in the cards. Punch one circle hole in the center of the top of each cards and tie a red, pink, or white ribbon through the hole. Finish by tucking the bookmark into a cute card or even slipping it into a favorite book to gift to a friend.

Of course, these aren’t the only great DIY Valentine’s card ideas out there. Why not think outside the box and come up with few ideas of your own to add to your arsenal?

Are you finding yourself in a creative rut? Not to worry! We have tons of amazing creative classes here at The Loop, and we’d love to have you and your students join us. Check out our calendar for more information of our offerings.

Finding Your Post-Holiday Groove

With the holidays over, it’s time to get things in order and find your post-holiday groove. Unfortunately for many homeschooling families, this can be pretty tough. Worn-out parents and kids who are still wound up from the season don’t generally get back into the swing of things together very easily, and with no set schedule to answer to, this is made even more difficult.

So how does a homeschooling parent help their family find a routine and jump back into normal life? Try these tips and tricks.

Get Up and Ready

One of the best parts about being a homeschool family is the ability to stay in your PJs all day. However, it is a practice that can quickly become a habit. This is especially true in the winter when the weather leaves you wanting to do nothing except snuggle all day.

Now, we don’t have anything against snuggling. In fact, we wrote an entire post on the subject, but we do know that too much PJ time can quickly lead to a lack of productivity. Therefore, slipping into some clean clothes and brushing your hair and teeth will likely work wonders for getting back into the swing of things.

Create a Schedule

Sometimes, when the world doesn’t provide you with a set schedule, it’s best to create one of your own. This doesn’t have to mean living by a rigid, military-style daily schedule, but a loose idea of how your day will go can be helpful when you’re trying to find your groove after several weeks of pure craziness.

Go ahead and give it a try. You might like the results, and you’ve got nothing to lose in the process.

Get Moving

If your family has trouble getting themselves off the couch on the chilliest winter mornings, try putting on some music and having a dance party. If dancing isn’t your thing, consider a quick stroll around the block (after bundling up, of course).

A bit of exercise to get your heart pumping is sure to bring up the energy of the household, making the place a productive learning zone once again.

Try Stimulating Scents

Another trick to try on those days when nobody wants to get up and around is diffusing some oils. Peppermint and lemon are both excellent choices for waking up your brain and getting it ready to work.

Get Out of the House

After several weeks of winter weather, cabin fever is likely to set in. This makes it incredibly difficult to focus and either leaves kids feeling lethargic or overly energetic. Try combating this issue by getting out of the house when nobody seems to be able to focus. Head to the library to get some stuff done (and bring home some cool books while you’re at it), or try doing schoolwork at a local coffee shop.

Join Group Activities

A great way to combine a few of these tricks is to join a group activity or two. This gets you out of the house, helps you build a schedule, and can even get you moving.

Looking for some great group activities to join? Check out the class schedule here at The Loop! We have tons of amazing classes to choose from, and each and every one is sure to help pull you out of your post-holiday funk and get you back into the groove of everyday living.

Learning Through Christmas and the New Year

Most anyone who celebrates Christmas is going to be pretty busy this week. Parties, family gatherings, and other events are sure to keep you and your kiddos running from place to place all week long. Switching your attention to these things means you will almost certainly be skimping on the formal schoolwork.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to ensure education continues to occur throughout this busy time. In fact, you might be surprised to find that your kids can learn just as much from your day-to-day experiences during the winter holidays as they do with their noses buried in textbooks.

Wondering how you can incorporate learning into your hectic holiday schedule? Try the methods below.

Read Together

There are literally hundreds of amazing holiday-themed books out there. Pick one or two to read with the kids before the holidays have ended. This is a great way to teach appreciation of literature and will get little ones excited about reading. If you have older children who can already read fluently, try having them read aloud. Discuss the story as a family and point out lessons you think are worth noting.

By doing this, you will be creating wonderful memories, getting into the holiday spirit, learning valuable life lessons, and sneaking in some “schooling” while you’re at it.

Bake Cookies

Math skills are essential in our everyday lives. For instance, we use mathematics every single time we follow a recipe. You can use this to your advantage by baking holiday cookies with the kids and incorporating fun lessons on fractions for older kids, and addition and subtraction for young children.

If you’re feeling really bold, why not make it a science experiment as well by switching the ingredients slightly to see what the results are?

Listen Up

If your family is constantly on the run or doing any traveling during or after the holiday week, stock up on good podcasts to listen to during long car rides and/or flights. There are tons of amazing options for kids, and many of them are highly educational. Some of our favorites include Brains On!, Tumble, and The Past and Curious.

Hand Out Cards

Giving out cards is a wonderful holiday tradition that family and friends are sure to appreciate. Sure, it may be too late to send cards in the mail, but taking a few to hand out at family gatherings can be just as fun. Best of all, writing cards is an amazing way to get your kids to practice their writing skills.

Whether you’re working on handwriting, spelling, or grammar, writing short notes to loved ones inside of cards will help you squeeze in some practice while also spreading some holiday joy.

Go Shopping

It’s likely that older kiddos will end up with some sort of gift card or cash by the time all the gift-giving is over. Take them shopping! By allowing them to handle the cash, you can give them to opportunity to work on their money management skills and get a solid understanding of coin and bill values, as well as percentages.

These are just a few of the many ways you can squeeze some education into your holiday fun. Looking for more fun and educational things to do this season? Check out our calendar for upcoming events here at The Loop!

Keeping the Kids Active Through the Winter

Winter has settled in for a long stay and it’s likely your kids are getting restless. While snuggling on the couch is fun for a few days, after a week or so of being stuck indoors, kids need to run and jump. Unfortunately, doing this inside the house is not always an option, and sending the kids outside may not be either.

If you find yourself stuck in the house and slowly drifting into a funk this winter season, it might be time to find some ways to get out and let the kids run around. Need some suggestions on how to go about this? Here are some of our favorite ideas.

Find an Indoor Playground — The first and most obvious option is to find an indoor playground. Not sure where one can be found? Check out Chick-Fil-A or McDonald’s. If fast food isn’t your thing, you might prefer Dynamo Gym in northwest Oklahoma City, where you can pay $5 to play on a gigantic play structure. For those with young kids, the small play area at Quail Springs Mall is great, and Unpluggits in Edmond is an amazing place to both play and do some crafts.

Invest in a Membership — A membership at the Oklahoma Science Museum is a wonderful investment. Add on the Oklahoma Museum Network option and gain access to a variety of area museums—some with playgrounds—where your kids can run, jump, and learn.

Head to the Gym — No, we don’t mean you need to take your kids to the nearest Gold’s Gym. However, finding a local church or school that is willing to open their gymnasium to visitors could be an option. Call around and see if you can find a place where the kids can let loose and run off their energy. If you do find a place, you might even help some other parents out by setting up a homeschool meetup.

Sign Up For a Class — There are tons of choices when it comes to classes that help kids expend some of their pent-up energy. Gymnastics and dance lessons are easy to find, as are sports teams. We even have the option of yoga with Emily right here at The Loop, and boy is it a great option!

We hope these tips help keep your kids active and happy, and also help save your sanity this cold season. After all, homeschooling is no fun at all if everyone is crabby. So what are you waiting for? Get out and start moving!

Great Gifts for Homeschoolers

It’s that magical time of year. The time when holiday decorations light up the night and wonderful smells fill the air. That means it’s time to start creating Christmas lists and getting the shopping done.

While holiday shopping can be an absolute blast, it can also be a bit difficult. This is especially true if you feel like your kids already have every toy and game under the sun. If this is the case for you, why not take a different approach this year and limit incoming gifts to educational toys, games, and experiences? This will ensure your kids get all the same holiday fun they are accustomed to, but will also help enrich their lives and round out their homeschooling experience.

Wondering what kinds of educational gifts you could purchase for your young students? Well, there are hundreds of options. However, we are going to use this post to highlight just 10 of our all-time favorites:

  • Ticket To Ride — This fun and engaging board game is perfect for helping children ages 8 and up understand a variety of math concepts. It requires tons of planning and counting and demonstrates the use of mathematics in daily life. Have a younger kid? Consider looking for the junior version of the game.
  • Set — A fun game that helps players recognize patterns and improves mathematical thinking. Set is fast-paced fun with short-lived rounds that even the wiggliest little ones can enjoy. That said, this game is best for the 6 and older crowd.
  • Bananagrams — A fun game of quick thinking and word play, Bananagrams is a great way for intermediate readers and writers to hone their skills. It requires tons of reading and spelling and can even help extend a child’s vocabulary. Best of all, there is a junior version so even the littlest players can get in on the action.
  • LEGO Bricks — LEGO blocks are the ideal educational toy. They’re not only fun, but also work to encourage mathematical thinking, problem solving, and even engineering. Buy the bricks on their own or invest in a few sets. Either way, you can rest assured you are making a good purchase.
  • Snap Circuits — Anyone who has ever played with Snap Circuits knows just how amazing they are. This is the ideal toy for helping kids understand electricity and give them an introduction to the world of engineering. Be sure to look for a junior version for young children.
  • National Geographic Kids Books — From books about space to encyclopedias of animals, National Geographic Kids has something for everyone. We adore these books, and recommend that every homeschool parent invest in a few.
  • Explorer Kit — Everyone knows just how important it is for kids to explore the world. Why not give them the perfect tools for doing so? An explorer kit that includes binoculars, a magnifying glass, a flashlight, and anything a child might need for a backyard adventure is the perfect gift for curious kids.
  • Activity Kits — Whether you choose to pick up a craft kit or a science experiment set, activity kits are always a good bet. These kits are perfect for giving kids the tools they need to carry out projects on their own without investing a fortune.
  • Subscription Boxes — Subscription boxes such as Kiwi Crate and Little Passports ensure your gifts last the whole year. They are something the kids can get excited about each month, and they provide fun learning opportunities that may never come about otherwise.
  • Classes and Experiences — Kids learn best through experiences. For this reason, paying for your young student to attend a special class, workshop, or other event might just be the perfect gift idea. Choose an event at a local museum, take a short trip to another city, or pick a new class from the lineup here at The Loop. All of these are wonderful options that your child is sure to love.

We hope this list helps you find the right gifts for your children this holiday season. Happy holidays from all of us here at The Loop!

Snuggle Up and Learn

Cold weather is here, and that means it’s time for warm PJs, cups of cocoa, and cuddling around the fire. One of the benefits of homeschooling is the ability to wear those pajamas later into the morning, drink cocoa at noon, and stay around the fire a bit later even though it’s a school night.

Even better than that, all of this snuggling can be done while sneaking in a bit of learning, meaning your fall family time can count as school. Try these six simple snuggle-schooling ideas the next time you’re too cozy to move off the couch and change into real clothes.

Read a Book

This is the most obvious idea on the list, but it is a solid one, and simply had to be included. There is nothing quite like curling up with a good book on a chilly day, and whether you choose to read individually or as a group, you can bet your kids will be learning all kinds of new things. Best of all, this activity can be done with a mug of cocoa or hot tea in hand.

Play a Game

Board games are one of the most fun ways to squeeze a bit of extra education into your day. Scrabble, Boggle, and Bananagrams all help with reading, spelling, and vocabulary skills. Meanwhile, games like Ticket to Ride and Pay Day make math fun.

Turn on the TV

Yes, you heard right. Why not use your TV for school? There are plenty of incredibly educational shows, movies, and documentaries out there. By viewing the TV as tool rather than a distraction, you will be enriching your child’s educational experience tremendously while also grabbing a bit of extra snuggle time.

Craft Together

Some crafts are not couch worthy. However, that doesn’t mean no crafts can happen while you relax under a blanket. Try teaching your little ones to knit, crochet, or cross stitch. They will be learning valuable skills and practicing math and problem solving skills while also getting quality time with you on a comfy couch.

Hand out the Tablets

Another device that is often looked down on by parents is the tablet. However, we find that these personal screens can be quite handy when used for schooling purposes. Apps such as Teach Your Monster to Read, DragonBox, and even an updated version of Oregon Trail make learning fun, and all can be played in the living room.

Pull Out the Legos

Almost every kid loves Legos.They are a very versatile toy, meaning they encourage creative thinking and problem solving. Additionally, they are perfect for teaching kids about counting, fractions, patterns, simple machines, and more. Best of all, Legos can be played with anywhere in the house.

Of course, these are just some of the ways to learn on chilly fall days. Writing and painting are also great cold day activities. Both can be learned at The Loop and even in PJs if you like. Be sure to check out our class schedule page for more info.

 

3 Fall Art Activities Your Kids Will Love

Fall is here, and that means it’s time to snuggle up, get cozy, and enjoy everything this amazing season has to offer. One of the best ways to help kids truly appreciate the offerings of fall is to help them use those offerings to create fun and beauty. After all, what kid doesn’t appreciate something that brings them joy?

Below we have compiled a short list of three great craft projects you can do using the materials brought to us by the fall season. This means some quality nature walks are in your future as you and your student gather supplies for your latest project.

Pinecone Birdfeeder

Most adults have made a pinecone birdfeeder at some point in their lives. However, the next generation is not seeing nearly as much of this classic craft. Help keep this tradition alive by creating pinecone birdfeeders with your little ones.

First, gather up several pinecones. These can be any shape or size, but should be whole. Spread a layer of peanut butter over each of the pinecones, making sure some of the peanut butter goes in the spaces between the spines. Roll the entire thing in a shallow dish of birdseed, making sure to cover the peanut butter completely.

To finish, hang the birdfeeder from a tree using a piece of yarn or string. Be sure to keep an eye on the feeder and see what kinds of birds it attracts.

Leaf Rubbing Collage

Leaf rubbings are great fun for people of all ages. They are simple enough for even the youngest kiddos to do, and almost always turn out looking pretty enough to hang. Best of all, collecting leaves for this project is a great opportunity to discuss various kinds of leaves and the trees they fall from.

To begin, gather leaves of various shapes and sizes. Place one leaf under a sheet of plain white paper, and use an unwrapped crayon to rub back and forth over the place where the leaf sits. This should leave you with a leaf-shaped impression on the page. Using another leaf and another color of crayon, repeat this process elsewhere on the page. Continue repeating the process until the entire page has been filled with overlapping colors and multiple leaf impressions.

The finished product is quite pretty, and something you may even want to frame to hang in your child’s room or playroom.

Autumn Wreath

Everyone loves a nice wreath hanging on the front door. Unfortunately, most professionally made wreaths are pretty pricey. Why not skip the expensive option and opt to make your own fall wreath this year?

The first step to making a beautiful autumn wreath is a nice, long walk in the woods. Spend your walk gathering any pretty things you might see. This should include colorful—but not crispy—fallen leaves, acorns, pinecones, and even small berries if you happen to see some.

After you’ve gathered a nice collection, head home and bring out a paper plate, scissors, and a hot glue gun. Cut the middle of the paper plate out, leaving behind a ring of plate. This will be the base of your wreath. Place the base on a flat surface and arrange your found leaves on top of it, making sure to cover the entire base. Once satisfied with the arrangement, glue the leaves into place. Use the pinecones, acorns, and berries as ornaments by gluing them into place wherever you see fit.

Once your wreath dries, be sure to hang it on the front door so you can spread autumn cheer to all your neighbors and friends.

If your child enjoys doing these art projects and would like more opportunities to get creative, it might be time to check into art classes. Lucky for you, The Loop has plenty to offer when it comes to art classes! Be sure to check out our schedule for more information!

Screen Time Tips for Homeschooling Families

For many parents, screen time is a touchy subject. After all, we’ve all seen the terrible effects too much tablet time can have on our kids. However, it is important to recognize that these devices can also prove very useful as educational tools. The trick is using the tool properly, a practice that is difficult to master and even more difficult to maintain. That said, if you can find a tablet groove that works for you family, you will find yourself with an amazing window to the world that can seriously enhance your child’s education.

So how can you use a tablet to your advantage? Well, here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks.

Skip the Browsing

The internet, Netflix, and app stores all have one thing in common; endless possibilities. For kids, this often means hours of mindless browsing. It also means your young students could potentially come across some things they may not be ready to see.

The best way to avoid this is to do the searching yourself. Ask other homeschooling parents, run Google searches, and keep your child’s interests in mind. Find the kinds of apps you’d like your kids to use and download them. Find cool Youtube channels and sit and watch with your child. Seek out Netflix movies and documentaries that tie into your curriculum and offer that option specifically. The key here is to be involved in your child’s online world and provide resources you know they will enjoy and benefit from.

Offer Choices

Sometimes kids want to have some say in what they use their devices for. This is perfectly understandable, and there is no reason why they can’t have some choices. In these cases, you may want to provide a list of acceptable apps, websites, and videos. This give your child the freedom of choice, but still gives you some control over what they are seeing and doing during their screen time.

Find Connections

Some of the best moments for homeschooling parents come when a lightbulb goes off in their child’s head. The best way to get those moments is to present connections for your student.

For instance, if you recently watched a documentary about Ireland, you might also read a book or two about Ireland, go to an Irish dance or music class or event, and make Irish soda bread. You could use screen time to enhance this experience by listening to Irish music, learning to say some things in Gaelic, or looking at photos of Ireland.

These kinds of connections will help your student understand how their newfound knowledge fits into the bigger picture. It will also help make their experiences memorable and instill in them a love of learning. You can definitely use the tablet to your advantage when trying to introduce these kinds of connections, making it a fabulous educational tool in this respect.

Offer Alternatives

If you find that the tablet seems to be taking over your home, if might be time to offer your children some alternative ways of entertaining themselves, observing the world, and gathering information. The goal is to remove the tablet from your child’s hands and replace it with other types of tools.

However, instead of physically removing the tablet, try simply making it known that other learning opportunities are available. This might mean offering a trip to the library, setting up a craft at the table, inviting the child to work in the garden, or suggesting a tea party in the dining room. You might be surprised just how easy it is to pull your child away from the screen and engage them in other things, leaving the tablet for another learning experience on another day.

Need an amazing alternative to screentime to offer your child on a regular basis? Why not sign up for one of the amazing classes at The Loop? With so many creative activities to choose from, you are sure to find one that your child will love. Who knows? You may even be able to tie their tablet time experiences to what they learn in class, making the whole situation a perfect fit.

 

 

5 Inexpensive Oklahoma Field Trip Ideas

School is back in session, and now is the perfect time to head out on some field trips without the crowds. Unfortunately, many homeschooling parents find themselves in a rut when it comes to field trips. Limited funds, a lack of time to research, and a host of other factors can quickly lead families to stick to their usual territory.

This is all fine and dandy, but it can also become incredibly dull. After all, not many people enjoy doing the same old thing day in and day out. If you are already finding yourself in a rut this school year, why not break out of it with one of these inexpensive, yet interesting field trip options? All are less than an hour away from Norman, making them easy day trips that don’t require too much car time.

Braum’s Tour

All Oklahomans know the Braum’s brand and most of us love the delicious dairy products they provide. If you are one of the many Braum’s ice cream fanatics out there, you will love the Braum’s farm tour. This tour is absolutely free, but must be scheduled in advance, so be sure to call a few weeks ahead of time to reserve a spot for your family and friends.

Sam Noble Museum

The Sam Noble Museum is a wonderful place full of all kinds of information and artifacts. Anyone who has any interest at all in natural history will adore this place, and even little ones can find something to do in the special room that is set aside just for them.

Unfortunately, this museum is also a little bit pricey. However, by waiting until the first Monday of the month, your kids will get in free, meaning you only have to pay for the adults in your group.

Edmond Historical Society Children’s Learning Center

While it is a bit of a trek, the Children’s Learning Center which is run by the Edmond Historical Society is a worthwhile day trip for those with elementary age children. The center focuses on the history of Oklahoma with a focus on role play. Admission is free and the museum often holds special craft days, making the visit even more special.

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

Slightly older children will appreciate the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman on the OU campus. The museum has several permanent collections on display, but also hosts temporary exhibitions on a regular basis. Admission is free, making this the perfect opportunity to introduce the young people in your life to the power of art.

Oklahoma State Capitol

Learn about the history of our state government as well as what goes on in the capitol building. The capitol building is open throughout the week for self guided tours, but we highly recommend planning to take a guided tour. These are available Monday through Friday at various points throughout the day. All tours are free, and well worth your time.

These are just a few of the wonderful things our state has to offer. Do a bit more research and we’re sure you’ll find even more fantastic field trip options.

Looking for a way to get out of the house on a regular basis in addition to your occasional field trips? Why not sign up for one of the many great classes here at The Loop?