Veterans Day Thank You Project

Thank You Veterans

Homeschoolers, Friends, and Family

Monday, November 6 from 9 AM – 11 AM: Join us at Municipal (Langan) Park (4901 Zeigler Blvd) in Mobile as we work on a project to say “Thank You” to our local veterans. We will meet at covered tables 9 and 10 near the water to work on cards and goodie bags for the residents of the William F. Green Veterans Home in Bay Minette. The goodies will be delivered in time for Veterans Day, Nov. 11th.

Come and go as your schedule permits. All ages are welcome. Family and friends, too! We’ll have something for everyone to do. Painting, hand lettering, coloring, cutting, pasting, folding, assembling bags, etc. Wear old clothing to guard against stains from markers, Sharpies, or paint.

What to bring?

1. Writing utensils. Adults & older kids – Black sharpies or ball point pens. Younger kids – Crayons.

2. If you have school or crafting supplies such as glue, scissors, construction paper or stamps, and you can bring them, please do. The more of these we have to share, the more cards we can make.

3. Bags of candy or other small treats like raisins, crackers, or cookies. This is a GREAT opportunity to take advantage of post holiday sales. Please no peanuts, items that tend to melt (like chocolate), or treats with Halloween themed wrappers.

4. Picnic lunch to eat when we are done.

For a sneak peek at some of the card concepts we’ll be working on, see NGCHE’s Art Project Pinterest Board.

If you can’t join us but would like to donate to the project, email us at


NGCHE has been invited to attend the Veterans Day public celebration at the William F. Green Veterans Home in Bay Minette to pass out cards & goodies, and meet the veterans. See details in invitation below. Please email us if you plan to join the group!

Veterans Day Invite

© 2017 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Original photo courtesy of Kai Kalhh, Pixabay.

Growing a Medicinal Garden

With fall upon us and most of the summer crop harvesting complete, many gardeners look forward to a winter season of restful planning. Time to start thinking about next year’s vegetable patches, flower beds, and containers. Will we grow the same things again, or try something new?

Homeschool families can incorporate gardening into their studies. Gardens make for the best science classrooms! Not sure where to start? Don’t fancy yourself a vegetable grower? How about a small medicinal garden?

Home remedies are gaining in popularity as more people seek out natural ingredients in their food and medicine. Devon at The Nitty Gritty Life has a great article to help us get started: Creating a Medicinal Herb Garden. Devon farms in the Willamette Valley of western Oregon. The Willamette region shares the same Hardiness Zone as the Northern Gulf Coast. The herbs she lists in her article are all suitable for growing in the Deep South.

Would you like the opportunity to see a local medicinal garden up close and take notes? Northern Gulf Coast homeschoolers and their friends are invited to join us on our field trip to the Mobile Medical Museum on Friday, November 3rd. Middle and high school students will catalog the plants in the museum’s own medicinal garden. Participants will get an up-close look at plants and herbs native to the Northern Gulf Coast that may be grown for medicinal purposes, their traditional uses, and proper care.

Everyone’s welcome to join us. However, space is limited, so be sure to RSVP ahead of time. One person who does so will win his or her cost of admission back at the end of the trip. See our Contests & Promotions page for details!


Bee pollinating hyssop. Photo courtesy of lucianaeris, Pixabay.

© 2017 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Debugging Graphics Problems


Facebook can be downright twitchy when it comes to graphics.

Ever run across an article online with a photo so eye catching you can’t wait to share it? You search for the obligatory Facebook icon or “Share” button and click with great expectations.

Congratulations! You’ve shared a link consisting of a boring article summary surrounded by a white box inside a thin black frame. Boo! Or perhaps you got extra lucky and your link contains a picture that has nothing whatsoever to do with the article at all. Frustration! Your friends just wasted 10 important seconds of their lives and are feeling a bit misled.

What’s going on here? Where did that lovely picture go!?

The missing graphics issue plagues WordPress blogs quite frequently. There can be multiple causes for the disappointing result, most of them related to the size of the photos themselves. The solution is the Facebook Sharing Debugger, a tool used by developers to troubleshoot graphics problems.

I’m not a developer, and have no idea how to deal with graphics snafus. No worries! You don’t need special skills to work around your issue.

  1. Copy the URL of the article you want to share and head over to the debugger.
  2. Paste the URL into the debugger box and click Debug. Up pops a bunch of mumbo jumbo. What now?
  3. Return to your Facebook page and delete or cancel the previous share that wasn’t working out.
  4. Go through the share process again and you should get the link complete with the picture you want.
  5. Click Post and pat yourself on the back.

Will this work in every single case? Unfortunately, no.

How do I know when it is and isn’t going to work? Look at the results on the developer page after clicking Debug. If there is a graphic that Facebook can successfully use, it will appear on that page. If all you see is that boring white box, there is no workaround. The errors themselves must be fixed on the website containing the article.

If your share is falling short of your expectations, try the Facebook Sharing Debugger. It may just help you pull up exactly what you’re hoping for. You’ll avoid sharing white space, and your friends won’t want their 10 seconds back.

Original image courtesy Concord90, Pixabay

© 2017 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Nature Connect Alabama

Today’s parents understand how important being outdoors is to childhoodNature Connect girl development. Our own children are growing up in a world much different from the one in which we were raised. It can be a challenge to monitor the time our youth spend under the influence of electronic devices, social media, and television. We may catch ourselves thinking back fondly on our own childhoods and realize just how much we took for granted.

The importance of spending regular quality time in the natural environment cannot be underestimated. Yet many of us struggle to provide those vital experiences to our children, especially in a group setting. The desire is there, but our access and abilities may be limited.

Nature Connect collage02

Brinkley Hutchings is an entrepreneur from the Eastern Shore who seeks to equip today’s children to make meaningful connections with the natural world. She draws her inspiration from a childhood spent largely outdoors. Watching meteor showers and bird banding at Fort Morgan with her father are among her most cherished experiences.

Brinkley started Nature Connect with a group of twenty families in Wilmington, North Carolina, in April of 2016. Returning to her home in Montrose, Brinkley saw an opportunity to continue the work she’d begun in North Carolina. Nature Connect Alabama was launched in 2017.

What can participants expect from Nature Connect? Activities are carefully chosen based on age. A child might engage in

outdoor exploration, hiking, nature awareness exercises, identification of flora and fauna, animal tracking, storytelling, crafts, canoeing, fishing with seine nets, beach activities, and more.

Spontaneous learning is also an integral part of the experience.

Nature Connect collage03

Nature Connect offers drop-off programs for

  • preschool kids ages 3-5
  • home school students ages 5-10
  • school children ages 8-12 after school hours

(Age ranges are guidelines to suitability; some flexibility is possible.)

Forest Families is a program for children ages 3 and under accompanied by an adult caregiver.

Nature Connect collage01

Preschool, home school, and Forest Families meet at Village Point Park Preserve in Daphne. After-school programs meet at the Sibley Street Public Beach Access in Montrose. Summer Camps are planned for June 2018. Custom experiences, including birthday parties and field trips, may be arranged in advance.

Providing children and youth with experiences in the natural world is only one of Nature Connect’s goals. As kids learn to respect and love the outdoors, they also learn to do the same for each other. As they grow better equipped in safety, self awareness, and independent thinking, they also learn to develop compassion and kindness, build healthy relationships, and express their emotions positively. All of these skills fit together to develop children into stronger, more capable youth.

For contact information, registration instructions, pricing, and other details, see the Nature Connect Alabama website. You may also follow them on Instagram at natureconnectalabama.

All photos in this article are the property of Nature Connect and may not be used without prior permission. 

© 2017 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Week in Review

Week of Oct 16 in Review

This was a SUPER busy week for the folks at NGCHE! It began with visits to Victory Teaching Farm in Midtown on both Monday and Wednesday. Work has just begun to make the garden handicapped-accessible, and word has it that the farm is looking to add chickens as well.

Volunteers attended Victory’s Third Annual Farmraiser and were absolutely amazed at the delicious dishes prepared by talented chefs using locally grown and raised food. Some of the vegetables came straight out of the garden on site. Cammie’s Old Dutch Ice Cream Shoppe prepared satsuma ice cream that would knock your socks off!

Victory Teaching Farm is a wonderful community service opportunity for homeschool students. Volunteers are needed in the morning hours. Staff typically complete outdoor work by midday, though helpers are free to come and go as their schedule permits. All ages are welcome.

Our October graduation meeting was held at Skyline Bowling Lanes in Mobile. Moms talked details about ordering caps and gowns, diplomas, invitations, etc. The next graduation meeting will be held on Nov. 14 at Newk’s on Satchel Paige Drive in Mobile. Pastor Melissa Aaron of Robertsdale Church of the Nazarene, our host for graduation, will join us. If you are interested in taking part in the Mobile/Baldwin Community Graduation Ceremony for Class of 2018, make plans to attend a monthly meeting. Enrollment will close several months in advance of graduation.

We wrapped up the week with The Conclusion of Edgar Allan Poe at Playhouse in the Park. The show featured excerpts from The Telltale Heart, The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether, King Pest, and The Cask of Amontillado. The performance was excellent all the way around — acting, costumes, and props. We were amazed by the special effects as Fortunato was entombed brick by brick in The Cask.

In King Pest, we encountered Legs and Hugh Tarpaulin patronizing a London ale house.

“They were eyeing, from behind a huge flagon of unpaid-for ‘humming-stuff,’ the portentous words, ‘No Chalk,’ which to their indignation and astonishment were scored over the doorway by means of that very mineral whose presence they purported to deny.”

Some of our audience members, parents and students alike, were a bit puzzled as to the meaning of the phrase ‘No Chalk.’ Poe, being a master of the absurd, turned the figure of speech into a literal event that drove the story to its conclusion, and he gave his audience a bit of irony to boot. ‘No Chalk‘ which literally means ‘No Credit‘ was scrawled on a sign in… you guessed it… chalk.

Coming up next week on the blog:

Learn more about Nature Connect, a new program for area children and families.

Find useful tips for sharing information effectively on social media.

Get a sneak peak on more field trips and fun events we’re working on for fall and early winter, including announcements for upcoming Victory Teaching Farm workdays.

© 2017 Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

HSLDA Discount Code

Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators is now a Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) discount group. Families joining HSLDA or renewing their membership can use our code to save $20 off the annual membership price. Home educators from the Northern Gulf Coast region who don’t have a covering are welcome to use our code. Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators – 210734

HSLDA Discount Code.jpg

Ben White: Unsplash

What benefits can you expect from HSLDA membership? Here are just a few…

  • Knowledgeable legal help and protection in a crisis; attorney on call 24/7
  • Up-to-date information on homeschool issues and legislation in your state
  • Veteran homeschool parents happy to give advice about all aspects of homeschooling, including teaching special needs children
  • Magazines, Newsletters, e-lerts, and Webinars
  • Shopping discounts
  • ID cards for students and teachers/parents

The choice to join a group for the purpose of homeschool legal support is a personal one. Some coverings specifically require HSLDA membership. Others do not. Families homeschooling without a covering, and those whose covering makes no specific requirement, must decide for themselves what they think is best.

NGCHE volunteers have made use of their HSLDA memberships over the years. We have received official legal advice on topics such as the scope of a covering’s authority over its members (Alabama), and the legality of homeschooling children who are not your own. We have referred to HSLDA’s website and newsletters on many occasions for guidance on matters such as interactions with social workers and navigating daytime curfew laws.

We at NGCHE highly recommend membership in HSLDA as a wise investment that protects not only your own family, but homeschoolers across the country.

Readers with questions or who need further information are encouraged to email us at

© 2017 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Victory Teaching Farm

Victory Teaching FarmsVictory Teaching Farm is located at 261 Rickarby Street in Midtown Mobile near the Loop. Increasing health and wellness, reducing hunger, promoting community and economic development are just a few of their objectives.

Victory held its 3rd Annual Down-to-Earth Farmraiser on Thursday, October 19th. NGCHE volunteers first assisted farm staff on October the 16th and 18th to get ready for that event. Victory welcomes NGCHE families and students who would like to volunteer at the farm.

One Seed to Change a City - Victory Teaching Farm

What jobs do volunteers do at Victory Teaching Farms?

  • Pull weeds
  • Sort seeds
  • Fill beds
  • Prepare transplant trays
  • Water
  • Harvest
  • And much more

The facility has lots of raised beds, a large greenhouse, and plenty of hanging pots that need tending. There is a job for everyone. And the best part is that all ages are welcome! Bring your families and friends, and come ready to pitch in!

Upcoming workdaysVictory Teaching Farm workdays

Thursday, November 16 & Friday, November 17, 2017

Those who can are asked to arrive by 8:30 AM and RSVP with NGCHE at least 24 hours in advance. This will allow Victory staff to make the best use of volunteer manpower by organizing activities before our arrival.

To RSVP, email with the number in your party and their ages. All are welcome — parents, youth, and children of all ages, grandparents, friends, neighbors. Victory won’t turn down any helpers who come ready to work! Wear shoes that can get wet, clothes that can get dirty, and a smile!

© 2017 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

Halloween Healthcare Hauntings

Celebrate Halloween weekend in one of Mobile’s spookiest old homes and support a great cause! The Mobile Medical Museum will host Halloween Healthcare Hauntings, a themed fundraising event, on Saturday, October 28th, from 1 to 4 pm. Regular presale tickets are $11 for adults and $5.50 for children. A limited number of discounted family packages are available on Groupon.Halloween Hauntings poster

From The Mobile Medical Museum Website: “Halloween Healthcare Hauntings is a fun-filled, family-oriented and educational event to raise funds for the museum’s exhibits and programs.

Our special guests will be the ‘ghosts’ of George Washington, Henri de Tonti, Emily Bronte, Marie Curie, and other famous people from history who will tell us how they died of once common causes such as yellow fever, tuberculosis, and bloodletting.

Other activities will include museum tours, yard games, haunted train rides, and a Halloween costume contest. Halloween candy and light refreshments will be provided.”

Homeschool students grades 9-12 are invited to join Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators for our field trip to the museum on Friday, November 3rd. Anatomy & The Medicinal Garden.

The Mobile Medical Museum is located in the Vincent Doan Walsh House at 1664 Springhill Avenue.

© 2017 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators

AMF Pinsiders Loyalty Club

bowling-237905_1920Homeschool families need a break every now and then. Bowling is a popular pastime, and many frugal families take advantage of their favorite alley’s coupons and discounts. If you bowl at an AMF lanes location, check out their newest promotion — AMF Pinsiders Loyalty Club.

Just for signing up with Pinsiders, bowlers will receive exclusive invites, coupons, and promotions, including $20 off your next visit ($5 off per person, up to 4 people). That might come in handy for those joining us for our October Graduation Meeting at Skyline Lanes on October 19th! Visit the AMF website for full details and enjoy a discount on bowling regardless of where you live.

The “Fine Print”: You must select a specific bowling alley as your preferred location when joining Pinsiders. Your coupons and offers will be redeemable for that specified location only. See the AMF website for complete info.

More “Fine Print”: NGCHE is not compensated in any way for sharing this information. We do so because we love our readers!

© Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators – 2017

Seminar: Bully Blocker for Homeschoolers

ANNOUNCEMENT: Bully Blocker has been canceled due to a scheduling conflict. We will let everyone know when we are able to reschedule. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

Bullying… Not a topic normally associated with homeschoolers. The fact is, homeschool students can and sometimes do find themselves caught up in a vicious cycle of intimidation and low self esteem, just like everyone else. Bullying is not simply a “school” phenomenon. It is a “people” problem that affects youth and adults from all communities and all walks of life.


I am being bullied by a neighbor. What should I do?

How do I protect myself from bullies on social media?

My friend’s cousin constantly belittles her. Is there anything I can do to stand up for her?

My teammates call me a bully. I don’t think I am… am I?

Homeschoolers from the Gulf Coast and surrounding areas will learn the answers to these questions and more at a Bully Blocker seminar hosted by the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office, Youth and Family Services Department.

Bully Blocker for Homeschoolers

Date & Time: Will reschedule at a later date. Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 9:30 – 10:30 AM

Cost: Free

Instructions: The presentation will cover sensitive topics, including sexting. Parents must use their discretion when deciding if their child is mature enough to attend. Your hosts recommend high school and mature middle school students only, with a strongly suggested minimum age of 13.

This seminar is open to the entire Northern Gulf Coast homeschool community. To ensure that the meeting room’s seating capacity is not exceeded, RSVP’s are requested. Students who have a confirmed RSVP will be seated first. Parents are welcome to stay provided there is room. Sign-up instructions are here.

Participants in the Bully Blocker seminar may register for a drawing for a new Jammypack backpack valued at $80. Must be present to enter and win. See our Contests & Promotions page for details.

Feeling skeptical? Not convinced Bully Blocker applies to you? Don’t see how this could possibly help your teen? Consider the following:

“Where could a homeschool student possibly face a bully or have the opportunity to be one?”

A common setting for bullying is through mobile apps or online groups. Youth who use cell phones or computers to communicate are likely at some point to come into contact with a bully using social media to intimidate, manipulate, or ostracize. This bully may be someone new, a friend of a friend, or a well-known member of the group.

Opportunities to encounter a bully in person surround us every day. Hanging out with friends in the neighborhood, the mall, the movie theater. On sports teams. At community club meetings. At work. At church. At home. Yes, even bullies can go to church and have families. A child or youth bullied in the home often repeats the behavior elsewhere.

“I’m a homeschool parent and I watch my child like a hawk. This can’t possibly apply to my family. My kid doesn’t need a seminar!”

It only takes a moment for a bully to intimidate – to tease, belittle, or inflict harm with lasting effects. Most of the time, parents are completely unaware of what’s happening until the situation becomes dire.

  • A bully hits “Send” and a demeaning private message is broadcast to an entire network of friends
  • A strong-willed child manipulates her peer group to ostracize others and cast them out of the circle of friends
  • An opposing team member makes insensitive remarks about a player with a disability
  • A teen coerces younger relatives into breaking the rules or lying through the use of physical harm or intimidation

As diligently as we may monitor our youth, they need the skills to navigate challenging situations and deal with difficult people encountered in the real and virtual worlds. The Bully Blocker seminar will equip homeschool students to avoid becoming the victim of a bully or being one.

Unfortunately, bad behavior is not limited to childhood. Adult bullies are a reality of life as well. Most of us have someone in our sphere of influence who treats people poorly: a neighbor, employer, co-worker, acquaintance, relative. Learning ways to deal effectively with bullies early on will give our youth a great advantage in the workforce, in college, and throughout their adult lives.

© 2017 – Northern Gulf Coast Home Educators