Free 5th Grade Ski Pass Colorado

Colorado Ski Country USA offers a neat program for 5th graders in Colorado. Basically, you can get a free ski pass for 5th graders in Colorado to several different ski resorts. It’s a bit different since my last kiddo was in 5th grade, so I suppose it’s time to dig back into the details. It should be easy. I just got the 2019-2020 5th Grade Passport Kids Ski Free brochure from the school. (Actually, I dug it out of his backpack while looking for something else.)

5th Graders Ski Free Pass

If I remember correctly, the older versions of the free 5th grade ski pass allowed actual free skiing as much as you wanted at the participating ski resorts. It doesn’t quite worth that way anymore, but it’s still a really great deal for skiing in Colorado.

free 5th grade colorado ski pass

Where Does the 5th Grade Fee Ski Pass Work?

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The 2019-2020 5th Grade Ski Pass lets you ski for 3 days each at 22 different ski areas throughout Colorado. As a Colorado parent, that has locals knowledge of the ski resorts, you are basically looking at the NOT VAIL owned ski resorts. In other words, the free 5th grader ski pass does is not accepted at:

  • Vail
  • Breckenridge
  • Keystone
  • Beaver Creek

The free ski pass for 5th graders also is not accepted at Crested Butte, although, I can’t blame that on Vail.

It does work at plenty of other popular and quality ski resorts including

  • Loveland
  • A-Basin
  • Copper
  • Winter Park
  • Steamboat
  • Aspen
  • Snowmass
  • Telluride
  • Eldora

If you’re the type that hits some of the lesser known / farther flung ski areas in Colorado, the 5th grade pass also is accepted at:

  • Powderhorn
  • Sunlight
  • Howelsen Hill
  • Grandby Ranch
  • Echo Mountain
  • Cooper
  • Monarch
  • Kendall Mountain
  • Wolf Creek
  • Purgatory
  • Hesperus

Other 5th Grade Passport Benefits

Obviously, the main reason you should get the 5th Grade Ski Passport if for the free skiing, but it does come with a couple of other benefits that you might be able to take advantage of depending upon your family ski situation

You can get ONE free junior rental from Christy Sports. Obviously, if you are going up enough to claim a few of these resorts, you should get a season ski rental, or have your own gear. Otherwise, free is still free, even if it’s only once.

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You can also get a Level One Beginner lesson, “for those who qualify.” That won’t be us, so I’ll let you go hit up the website to dig into details for that.

Colorado Gems 5th Grade Free Ski Passport

Potentially useful for some families is a parent benefit that you can buy along with getting the free 5th grade ski pass.

It costs $30 to add on a 2019-2020 Colorado Gems Card. The Colorado Gems card gets you EITHER 2-1 adult lift tickets (full-price adult lift tickets that is), or 30% off of adult tickets. You’ll need to do some math to determine which is the better deal.

This benefit is only good at some of the 22 ski resorts your 5th graders free ski pass works at. Also, you can only use your benefit TWICE per resort, unlike the 5th grade pass that works three times per resort. The Colorado Gems resorts are:

  • Arapahoe Basin
  • Loveland
  • Cooper (not Copper)
  • Monarch
  • Eldora
  • Echo Mountain
  • Grandby Ranch
  • Hesperus
  • Kendall Mountain
  • Powderhorn
  • Sunlight

How To Get a 5th Grade Ski Free Pass

The easiest way to get your free 2019-2020 5th Grade Passport is to get the brochure from your kids’ school. On the back of that brochure is a unique registration code that lets you skip all the different verification hoops to sign up for the free 5th graders ski pass. (If you have non-skiing friends and you get the brochures, and you have a kid that’s in 4th or 6th grade, I’m not saying you should cheat, I’m just saying you could cheat.)

To sign up for the 5th Grade Ski Free pass, you need to go online at You need a “digital image of your child” (a picture) and the unique registration code. This isn’t a passport, any relatively decent face picture will do.

Be sure to ask your kiddo to keep an eye out for the ski pass brochure, because if your child’s elementary school is anything like my child’s they bring home more than a few things that seem irrelevant to them that they forget all about while they get shoved further and further down into their backpack.

Also, remember they don’t mail you a fifth grade ski pass or anything. You get it picked up at the first resort you go to, so either plan ahead and arrive a bit early on your first ski day of the season, or drop by a lift ticket window ahead of time if you’re the type that is in the area.

When To Get the Free 5th Grade Colorado Ski Pass

According to the brochure it takes 5-7 business days for a child to get approved to get their pass, so you’ll need to plan ahead a bit. My kiddo’s brochure came home today, and right after I finish writing this up, I’m headed over to the website to sign up. While some people plan out their whole ski season, we don’t roll that way so I have no idea when our first ski day will be. Might as well have this whole 5th graders ski free thing sorted before it becomes any sort of issue.

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Halloween Candy

Halloween is one of those holidays where parenting styles really differ. Some parents worry about safety and maybe morality issues. Other parents are fine with the holiday itself, but aren’t so keen on things like costumes and candy. For us, our holiday is colored by the knowledge that, unlike some other holidays, this one comes with a pretty short life span.

From birth to around Age 4, you pick your kid’s costume, and any trick or treating is pretty limited. A little bag or bucket and just a few stops is the whole thing. We did our early trick or treating at a day time event at the Denver Zoo called Boo at the Zoo. They have little trick or treat stations as you walk around the zoo. It’s safe, easy, and it comes with a visit to the zoo.


Marry Poppins, a football, the Deathly Hallows, and an owl.

Fast forward, and realize that many kids stop trick or treating with their parents in their early teens. Add it all up, and that means that, as a parent, you will get 10 total Halloweens with your children. After that, they’ll want to trick or treat with their friends, or go to a costume party at someone’s house, or whatever. Either way, it won’t necessarily include you.

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I don’t know about you, but with that limitation, I’m going to go ahead and do it up a bit. We get costumes, go to a few trick or treating places, and carve up pumpkins with our kids. You can worry about them getting a costume they will never wear again, but if you look at it from the perspective of, you get to buy them 10 costumes their whole life, that changes the math a bit.

Halloween Costumes for Kids

Asking your kid what they want to be for Halloween is a good start, but many of them don’t know what the options are. Obviously, if your kiddo loves Curious George and wants to go as Curious George, then done and done.

But, if your child seems to be having trouble deciding what they want, they may not be able to conjure up a full vision of choices. Looking online is one option, but that can lead to unrealistic, or very expensive, choices. I prefer a quick stop into either a Party City, or one of those temporary Halloween shops that pop up each year. We do pretty well at Halloween City, and there always seems to be a 20% off coupon you can get on your phone, or print off. With that discount, the costumes there cost just about what they cost online, and your kiddo gets the joy of walking out of the store with the costume in hand.

This year, our kids went in different directions. 7 decided to go as a football player. He chose that costume only half because he really wanted to be a football player, but he most definitely, 100% wanted a football helmet. Fun is fun, No matter how you get there.

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Our older one with with a cool costume from the video game Assassins Creed. Although none of us have ever played, or really seen, the game, a cool costume of belts and cloaks and hoods, is a cool costume of belts and cloaks and hoods. Through in a cool, plastic, assassin weapon, and you’ve got a sweet Halloween costume.

Halloween Candy

In our neighborhood, we don’t get too many trick or treaters. In part, it’s because we go out trick or treating during prime hours ourselves, but our street is also a side street off of a long, well lit, street with limited participation from neighbors. Whatever the case, we end up with plenty of left over candy.


If you’re the same, consider buying everyone’s favorites for your own candy bowl. That way, your leftovers can be your Halloween treat, and you won’t have to resort to stealing, or “taxing”, you little one’s hard earned candy.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

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Disneyland Halloween

We went to Disneyland during the end of October to see the park in its Halloween glory. Unfortunately for us, we didn’t know about the separate Halloween night time park tickets, which were sold out on our dates by the time we learned. It was still tons of fun, after all, it IS Disneyland, and the October days were much less crowded and hot than the usual summer visits. All in all a huge win.

We were getting ready to go to Disneyland for Christmas this year, but with the new Star Wars Land opening next year, I think we’ll wait and go after it is up and running. I’ll fill in some more details soon, but for now, enjoy this pictures of some of the Halloween decorations around Disneyland Halloween last year.

Disneyland Halloween Nighttime Gate decoration Disneyland old town decorations halloween Disneyland halloween decorations giant mickey pumpkin head disneyland halloween time pole decoration Disneyland Halloween Arcade decoration

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How To Volunteer at Your Kid’s School

I volunteered at my child’s school a lot, and I spent two years on the PTO as well, but nothing gave me more insight into how school classes work than being a classroom assistant these last two years. Believe it or not, most teachers LOVE to have parents volunteering in the classroom, however, not all parents are willing to provide the KIND of help teachers really need. So, to make sure your visit to volunteer in your kid’s classroom is as valuable as can be, follow these tips.

Respond to Teacher Requests

Not all schools are the same, and neither are all classrooms. Some teachers would laugh hysterically at the idea of having “too many” volunteers, being lucky to get even one parent every so often. Others have to set up a schedule to avoid having too many parents in the room at once.

kids school learning classroom

For this reason, it is important to note, and comply with, and teacher requests on how to volunteer. In a school with heavy parent involvement, that might include signing up on an online form. In a school without such parental support, you may need to email the teacher so they know to expect help rather than plan everything out to not need anyone else.

The other reason to check with teacher requests is that volunteer needs can be pretty specific. Believe it or not, your child’s teacher can already do everything necessary in the classroom. That’s the job after all. But, there can be areas where a little help can go a long way.

Reading and math are two areas where help is useful in elementary school. Children at this age can vary widely in ability and speed. An extra adult who can take a small breakout group (advanced or slower) can be a huge asset. Same thing for hands on activities like experiments or building projects. On the other hand, a volunteer might not be as useful during a history video or discussion with the whole class.

Don’t Be Afraid

A lot of parents end up waiting to volunteer out of fear. Some worry about getting in the way, others worry that maybe they won’t be able to provide help.

Remember, a teacher is more than just a source of knowledge. They are also experts in managing a classroom and getting students what they need. They’ll know exactly how to use you. If they can’t, they’ll let you know how you can stay without disturbing things, if possible.

As for ability, if you have a child, then you already know how to talk with and act around kids. As far as knowledge goes, trust me, it comes back pretty fast, and the teacher won’t drop you into the middle of a history lesson on Jamestown (English colony…first permanent British settlement… sound familiar?).

Most help occurs during reading and math, and you totally know how to read, and you remember more math than you think. Remember third graders are still doing basic multiplication and division to start the year. Even fifth grade math come back quick with a little review. (You divide fractions by inverting one of them and then multiplying the tops and bottoms…)

Beware the Schedule

A school schedule is a complex system of moving parts. There’s nothing quite and disheartening as seeing an excited parent drop by class to find out that this is the time the kids are at specials, and then they go to snack recess, and then… Be sure you know that your volunteer time coincides with usable class time.

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The exception to this rule is if you are providing “paper help” like grading, filing, or copying. In that case, just make sure the teacher won’t be scarfing down their lunch during a precious few minutes, or in a planning session with other teachers. Don’t dismiss providing paper help. It’s these paperwork tasks that often bog down good teachers whose first priority is being in the classroom with your child, not making sure that Will gets his art project into his take home folder.

Not Just Your Kid

The biggest thing to remember is that volunteering in the classroom is a way to help the CLASS, not a way to hang out with your own child. Your own kiddo may, or may not, end up being directly with you, although some teachers will try and make that happen if they can.

Nothing makes a volunteer a detriment rather than an asset than a parent who just wants to sit by their own kid for fun. Volunteering is a great way to help your child’s class, and very rewarding, it shouldn’t be selfish.

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Books for Second, Third and Fourth Graders

Finding books for your kiddos to read is a tricky game between books that are too easy, and books they don’t want to read. Especially for those children who have hit that point where they can read pretty much whatever they want to, but not necessarily as fast as they want to. Forcing them into books they don’t want to read, or making them read books that are longer than their attention span is a recipe for making a kid who says he doesn’t like reading.

To that end, I’m going to start writing up some books and series that my kids have enjoyed during the transition between just learning to read, and full readers.

Tom Gates Books

First up is a series of books by L. Pichon. The Tom Gates books have plenty of pictures in the form of drawings, but they aren’t young readers type picture books. There are also plenty of words, lots of text, and a fun, kid based story.

The good news is that there are several of these books, so if your kiddo likes one of them, then you have “the next book” ready to go.


My third grader’s favorite of the series that he read so far is Tom Gates Excellent Excuses, but he has devoured every one of them that I have managed to get in front of him. There is an eight-book Tom Gates set on Amazon, if you just want to get them all in one go.

Other Elementary Series Books with Drawings Like This

These kinds of books with fun drawings that go along with the text are a great way to encourage reading. The read is fast, and the stories are fun. Children get used to having a “regular sized” book in their hands without feeling like it takes forever to finish. It’s a great way to start transitioning to other books, all without bogging them down, or resorting to books beneath tier reading level.

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Here are some other books like this that my own kids liked:

  • Stick Dog (and Stick Cat)
  • Dogman
  • 13-Story Treehouse (and the 26-Story Treehouse, and the 39-Story Treehouse…. you get the idea. – All the way to 91-Story Treehouse for Summer 2018).
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