Veritas Press Epistula




Feature Article Ten Secrets to Surviving Family Road Trips by Michele Zavatsky

Educational Helps by Laurie Detweiler and Ned Bustard

Free Offers




July 2007




Summer is upon us, and for many formal schooling has given way to vacations and summer activities. Over the years we’ve become familiar with the travel books of George and Michele Zavatsky. Michele was kind enough to share from their experience and wisdom in this month’s featured article. Enjoy.


Feature Article


Ten Secrets to Surviving Family Road Trips


Nothing bonds a family more than a road trip. However, traveling can be so frustrating. Most of the time parents or caregivers just aren’t prepared enough before the trip to know how to curb family travel stress. Keeping children happy shouldn’t be so hard. As the family that “vacations for a living,” we think family time should always be fun and easy, especially with proper planning.


Besides using the Kids Love guidebooks to get unique ideas for places to go, here are some suggestions we offer for amazing trips around the country:


  1. Plan two – four activities within a one hour drive time of each other. For example, you can keep everybody happy by starting your morning hiking or walking nature or garden paths, then over to the Children’s Museum, followed by a historical museum. Top off the evening going to an amusement center or taking in a dinner theater production. Or, base your choices on the season of year. In winter, stay in warm factories or go to a special holiday event. In spring, go to food festivals and outdoor hikes at state parks and nature parks. When the hot days of summer appear, do things like boat tours, water parks and shady historical villages. As the leaves change, try foliage train rides and apple or pumpkin festivals. Know directions and parking information before you leave (log onto the attraction’s website for maps).
  2. Make reservations for tours. Look for unique tours of candy and dairy factories, or fruit farms—yummy and fun. Know what to wear. When in doubt, dress down, dress in layers and wear closed-toe shoes (sneakers).
  3. Pack snacks and beverages for the road, (water bottles, clear juice boxes, apples, grapes, carrots and homemade trail mix are great). Instead of buying fatty French fries at each meal, pack some baked chips or pretzels to make your own combo meal. Be sure to keep a pack of baby wipes on board for cleanup and sticky fingers. Their powder scent freshens the stale vehicle air, too. Wear slip-on shoes for easy in/out of vehicle at stops. And, pack toys—games designed especially for travel like Auto Bingo, Invisible Ink books, travel mystery books, magnetic games, activity books and maybe a personal electronic device (MP3/ipod) for the older kids. When my kids were young, I used to wrap little games and books in comic strip paper and pass them out as a prize for good behavior.
  4. If your budget allows, have the vehicle equipped with a TV/DVD unit. Many portable units can fit in between front seats. Smaller children can learn time and distance by telling them “We’ll be there in one video.” You can certainly avoid all those cries of “Are we there yet?” when they know to wait until the video ends.
  5. Plan picnics along the way. Allow time for the rural/scenic route to take advantage of free, clean picnic facilities. Two places you might consider are state parks and outdoor historical parks.
  6. Choose family friendly lodging. Two things to look for are indoor pools (rain or shine, you have an activity to do) and possibly a free continental breakfast or room kitchenette (so everyone can eat when they want in the morning). Many such hotels also offer discounts to local attractions. ASK! Also, along with your toothbrush, pack baby powder. It works wonders to freshen sneakers overnight.
  7. History is easy, if you sneak it in! Living history sites and festivals are history lessons (mostly hands-on) on a vacation. Mix them into the trip, one every day or so. The kids won’t know they’re learning, but you will.
  8. Gravitate to hands-on museums. Parents, the boring museums we used to visit on field trips just don’t cut it today. Kids seem most engaged by multiple action stations, not just pushing buttons.
  9. Souvenirs are fun for kids to pick out and keep as a memory of your visit of favorite places. They can even be practical, too! For example: pens, pencils, cups, magnets or pencil sharpeners. Kids easily reminisce when they use these souvenirs in everyday life.
  10. After you create family memories, make a family treasure chest and scrapbook to preserve those memories. Use a beginner’s scrapbook like “Kids Love Travel Memories” for school-aged kids to create their own book. Save empty popcorn tins for safekeeping the larger, dimensional souvenirs. During the “blahs” of wintertime, take these items out, pop some popcorn, and reminisce!


For more information on the “Kids Love” book series and the latest travel updates, log on to


Michele Zavatsky


As the authors of best-selling “Kids Love” regional family travel guides, George & Michele Zavatsky have, over the last ten years, personally kid-tested thousands of sites with their children! The experience of traveling over 250,000 miles (in a mini-van!) across the United States has provided the opportunity to establish the authors/parents as “Family Travel Experts!” They know, hands-on, how to keep every member of the family cheerful on the road, at attractions, dining and even overnight lodging. 


Educational Helps


It is hard to believe that July is upon us. The older I get the more I appreciate those carefree summer days, without the routine of school days. It is a wonderful time to enjoy learning without the pressure of making sure you get everything done.


When we were at the Pennsylvania homeschool fair we ran into the Zavatsky’s, the authors of the Kid’s Love travel books. I was delighted because I have been using their books for years. In fact I bought my first one shortly after moving to Pennsylvania in 1996.


A few days ago we were on our way to Philadelphia to visit our eldest son and attend The Philadelphia Symphony. Itzhak Perlman, the renowned violinist, was the guest performer. For father’s day our boys had given Marlin tickets for all of us to attend. If you ever have the chance to see him perform, do whatever you can to make it happen. It is like magic. On the way there, at a rest stop along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, we stopped for coffee. As we were piling back in the car, we noticed a van next to us overflowing with coolers, children and luggage. One of those in our group (who will go unnamed) said, “Boy, I am glad that’s not me.” Well, I had just been having these nostalgic thoughts of when the boys were little and the fond memories I have of car trips. You see, now that our kids are older, trips are not quite the same.  Yet, there is something about hours in the car, picnics on the side of the road, and the serene scene of sleeping children in car seats. Being a few years removed has dulled the edge of the annoyances of “How long till we get there?” or “He’s touching me.”


For those of you with family vacation road trips coming up soon, we hope the games we’ve created will help to pass the time. Click here to access our download page. Then click on the Road Trip Games link under Free Helps.




Laurie Detweiler


Free Offers


Keeping with the travel theme, with an order of $100 or more you may have a free book—one of four of the Carole Marsh’s Mystery travel books.  There are more than sixteen travel mysteries, of which we have chosen four. Years ago, her children were the original characters in her books. Today her grandchildren have taken their place, traveling with her and her husband. Even if you are not traveling to the location of the book, they are a terrific way to learn about a certain area. Consider reading the book and then renting a travel log movie about the location from your library. Make an edible treat that is indigenous to the area and enjoy an evening together.


You may request one of the following titles:


Mystery in the Rocky Mountains (item #MYST1)

Mystery on the Underground Railroad (item #MYST2)

Mystery of the Ancient Pyramid (item #MYST3)

Mystery at the Roman Coliseum (item #MYST4)


When placing the order, simply ask for it. (If you place your order on our web site, send us an email with your request.)




Q. I have just finished reading the book, A Latin Centered Curriculum by A. Campbell, which asserts that grammar can be taught entirely through Latin. Does it work to omit grammar instruction in Grammar School and learn grammar solely through the study of Latin? (i.e., Can grammar be replaced by Latin?)
A. The simple answer is, it can be done but is probably not recommended, presently. No one we know does enough with Latin to make up the difference. Much of the problem lies in the fact that it is extremely teacher dependant. An expert Latin teacher could pull this off. But they wouldn't even need a text book to teach Latin. Furthermore, none of the Latin curriculum with which we are familiar cover enough Latin, let alone English grammar, to exceed the combination of Shurley Grammar and our favorite Latin curricula like Latin for Children and Latina Christiana. Can we ever envision a day when this might be possible? Yes, but we are not there yet. If you want to take this on with your child, we would suggest that you study Latin yourself, take some college classes and become well-versed enough to be an expert in Latin and English Grammar. 


Q. I have just taken my children out of the public school and want to homeschool.  Where do I begin?


A. The first step has already been taken: you made a decision to take charge of your children’s education. Next I would recommend reading the book Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, if you have not already done so. This will give you an explanation of what a classical Christian education is all about. You need to decide if this is the educational model for you. Obviously, it is what we are committed to at Veritas Press. Once you make this decision, you should assess where your children are at academically. Veritas Press actually offers curriculum consulting to help you make this placement assessment. Then choose a curriculum. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can tailor this to your children. If they are ahead in math but behind in grammar, you can meet them where they are. Make sure that you are covering all the disciplines and not just the ones you or your children enjoy. Then you should look to see what your state regulations are for homeschooling. The reason I did not suggest this first is that choosing a curriculum before seeing your state regulations will let you set in your mind what you think is optimum, not what the state thinks. If you need to make a few changes based on the regulations, you can do it now instead of possibly really compromising on the front end. Lastly, find some moms and dads in your area who have been doing this for a while. They will be a great encouragement and resource to you. And of course, it goes with out saying: spend time praying that God will bless your efforts as you bring your children home.


Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to




Veritas Press Scholars I - Lesson Plans


Over the last ten years the question that we have heard the most is, “How do you get it all done?”  That is understandable because it takes great orchestration and planning to pull it all off. One of the main ways to accomplish all that we do is integration of the disciplines.


After years of customers asking for daily scripted lesson plans, we are finally offering them. There are plans available for grades K through sixth this year. The response has been great.  One thing you may not realize is, these plans are customized for your family. You let us know all the disciplines your children are studying, and we provide you with a script for YOUR family. Imagine going to bed every night knowing that your entire next day has been planned for you and the day after that and the day after that. OK, you get the point. This will inspire great confidence, as you will never question if you are on the right track—the track is laid out for you. And you will know that you are doing something that has been used successfully for years.


Customers have also wanted to know if these plans are flexible. Absolutely! As with everything else at Veritas, we believe that you know what works best for your children. You can use the plans in their entirety or you can delete what ever you want to.


A customer recently pointed out to us that this is a great way for co-ops to have everyone on the same page. They will all be using the plans and coming together to do projects and memorization work.


Call to speak to one of our Customer Service Representatives at 800-922-5082 to see if this new program will be right for you.


Online Courses

This fall will be the second year we have held online courses. The offerings are far more extensive this year and the feedback continues to be a blessing. Below are a few parent comments on the courses:


Our daughter really learned how to filter things from the world through the lens of Scripture while at the same time she gained a greater understanding of the art and history of the world.


The material was outstanding and Mr. Etter had a great rapport with the students.  I think the discussions during class were invaluable.  I could not have offered that at home by myself.


 If you are thinking about registering students for some classes, don’t wait too long—some have filled and others are close. For information on the offerings, click here.


Opening at Veritas Academy

Veritas Academy is seeking a highly qualified person to serve as a Director of Institutional Development. The Director will be responsible for development of long term relationships with individuals and institutions which will lead to an increase in recognition of Veritas Academy, increase in funds for scholarships and endowments, and a general recognition of institutional excellence. The applicant should possess strengths in interpersonal relationships, marketing and fund raising. Demonstrated teamwork, project management, organizational skills, strong work ethic, problem solving, and professional demeanor are critical to the applicant's success in this position. The salary is commensurate with experience and vision for the task. Resumes and inquiries may be sent to Scott Forbes, Veritas Academy board member, at


Veritas Academy Teacher Training

Dr. Leland Ryken will be the featured speaker at the 2007 Teacher Training Conference July 18–20 in Lancaster, PA. To learn more about Dr. Ryken, click here.


Those who choose to take advantage of this foundational learning opportunity will leave invigorated, with clear tools, methods and plans to teach and administer a classical Christian education in their school or homeschool. We will also be offering Latin-in-a-Week July 16–20th. If you did not receive a brochure, send your name and address to


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Visit us on the web at or call us at 1-800-922-5082.