Resources for Homeschool Families

Social Media may be the most underutilized tool in the homeschool classroom. Yes they can be websites and apps where the homeschool parent ends up wasting a lot f time, but with a little bit of self discipline these can be turned into very useful resources for the homeschooled students. Here are a list of sites and apps that you can look into.

Google Earth: This is a great tool to supplement your homeschool Geography lessons. Allow your homeschool students to read a map, see the satellite image to identify local hot spots, and even get a street view of your own home. You can set them an assignment about creating a map of their own neighborhood and then compare how they did based on the Google map.

iBooks, Google Books, Kindle Store: Each of these ebook stores has tons of free books on promotion on any given day. While it’s not possible to get on each app and search for things everyday, consider joining a couple of newsletters that do the curating for you. BookBub is a good one to start with. A simple web search with throw up many more newsletters. Don’t join more than a couple or you’ll waste a lot more time.

Google Images or Image Searcher: Ever so often you want to use an image on your homeschool student’s worksheet. Or they need an image for a report or project. These tools allow you to find creative commons images that you can download and use legally. Just adjust the search settings and you are set to go.

Show Me: This app turns your iPad into a personal interactive whiteboard. You can record your voice with instructions as you add images and writing to the whiteboard base. A great tool to pre-record lessons for your homeschool students which can be reused time and again.

Toontastic: This free app from Google allows your homeschool students to get creative and record their own animated cartoon. They can pick characters, create a story line, draw their own character, record their voices, and animate their cartoon. Available on both Android and iTunes.


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Calligraphy for Homeschool Students

Printing may be something that young children do not always enjoy. Calligraphy writing is more like art, and those who enjoy drawing will enjoy the flourishes and loops that come with calligraphic writing. Here are some ideas to get the homeschool students started on calligraphy.

Faux Calligraphy

There is no need to buy the specialized nibs and dip ink for a beginner. Half the time a homeschool parent is strapped for cash, and investing in an activity that the homeschool student does not continue is simply foolish. Get them a gel pen which flows well. Get it in 0.5, 0.75, and 0.9 mm tips. This will give them the freedom to take on different sized lettering. Hand them the different sized nibs and dipping ink once they have stayed with the hobby for a while.

Decide the Script to Master

Most of us think of calligraphy as beautiful, handwritten lettering. The truth is, just as we have different fonts on the computer, there are different scripts for calligraphy as well. German gothic, roundhouse, copperplate, classic are some popular ones that have online tutorials available for free on YouTube. There are good worksheets available at the Post Man’s Knock, but they are not free. Let your homeschool students decide the style they want to work with and master.

Practice Makes Perfect

Remind your homeschool student that they will not be able to do calligraphy as fast as normal writing. If they go fast the appearance of the letters will be shaky and scraggly. Going slow will improve the quality of what they write. It will also allow them to enjoy the process of creating something unique and beautiful. If you are looking for calligraphy friendly to a left handed child, you may like to check out Logos Calligraphy. Yes it makes the process simpler for the lefty.

Once the homeschool students have mastered the basics of the loops and curves, have them come up with their own pieces of lettering. They can write their name on their books. Or create a sign for the homeschool classroom. Maybe a card or two for relatives. The possibilities are endless.

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Homeschool Fun with a Glass of Water

A single glass of water can be an excellent teaching tool. Add a couple of extra items and you can be actively demonstrating a number of different scientific principles with your homeschool students over a glass of water.

Surface Tension

To physically demonstrate the surface tension on the top of water, fill a glass almost completely to the top. Now add a few coins from the side. Make sure that you do not add them from the center as that will eliminate the surface tension. Now keep adding coins and count the number it takes to break through the bulging surface tension on top of the glass.


It is easy to show the process of two liquids mixing if they are of two different colors. Add water to a glass and create a mixture of colored water in a second glass. Now use a dropper to collect the colored water and before you add it to the glass of plain water give it a stir with a spoon. You will see how the drops of colored water travel through the glass before they diffuse completely with the plain water. The homeschool student may also try to add drops of colored water without disturbing the plain water in the glass. The process will be slower but easily observed.

Refraction and Reflection

Place a glass of water on a table’s edge and place a sheet of white paper at a lower level. This will allow the sun’s rays to shine through the water in the glass and split up into the colors of a rainbow on the plain white sheet below through the process of refraction and reflection. The process is similar to the actual rainbows created in the sky due to water droplets in clouds.

Change in Sound Frequency

Line up four glasses and fill them each with varying levels of water. Now use a metal spoon to strike the glass. Each glass will have a distinctly different sound due to the vibrations of the water molecules within the glass. This is a principle also used in a musical instrument known as the Jal Tarang.

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Homeschool Students and Fun Science Experiments

Experiencing new things is actually very much like a science experiment for a young child. To explain the relevance of science to a homeschool student, it may be a good idea to help them start at a young age with easy to perform experiments.

Plant a Sapling

While you may not be able to teach a child in kindergarten about how the leaf functions as the food factory for the plant, you can still give him a leaf to hold and talk about how a tree grows. Start with soaking a few seeds that are easy to sprout. Teach them how to plant a sprout and care for it.

Basic herbs are fast to grow and can be fun to use in cooking. Teach them how to wash and chop them before they consume them. Extra sprouts can also be eaten. This gives them a co-relation between the food being grown and being cooked. Also looking after plants gives them a more green attitude to life.

Drop That Egg

As they become more inquisitive about their surroundings, teach them about manipulating the things in their environment. The homeschool student will know about some things being tough and hardy, while others are more fragile. Give them an egg and ask them to find a way to drop the egg from a certain height without it being damaged.

It may be a good idea to take this experiment outdoors if you don’t want to clean up too many broken eggs. Also have at least a carton of eggs for them to experiment with. Let them make parachutes, protective covers, extra packaging and whatever else they think will get the job done.

Elephant Toothpaste

While the sedate growth of a plant may take a while to register, and the planning behind the egg drop may keep them mentally busy, sometimes it’s just fun to mix chemicals and get an instant reaction. This child friendly science experiment allows them to create elephant toothpaste.

Add 120 ml of 40-volume hydrogen peroxide to a 1-liter soda bottle. Add a bit of liquid dish wash and if you want any food color. Now place the bottle aside. In 4 tablespoons of warm water mix a small packet of dry yeast and stir it in to activate it. Pour the yeast mixture into the bottle and watch the elephant toothpaste form right out of the bottle.


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Social Responsibility for Homeschool Students

The home is the first school for any child. The parents are the first models they observe. The homeschool parent needs to incorporate more than just the lessons in the syllabus into the life of the homeschool student. There are a number of social responsibilities that the homeschool student needs to be sensitized about. Here are some common issues.

Developing Reciprocal Relationships with Peers

Homeschool students need to know how to deal with other children their age. Getting along with peers includes having a sense of empathy. To try and put themselves in the other guy’s shoes and get a feel of their emotions. Emotional sensitivity is required not just to understand their own feelings, but to develop a reciprocal relationship with their friends.

Being Respectful in Relations with Elders

The number of adults that a homeschool student is exposed to may vary depending on the family’s individual situation. It is important that the homeschool teacher ensures that they learn to interact with other adults in a respectful and dignified manner. This will be the blueprint of how they deal with authority figures in the future. Ensuring that they can hold their own while being respectful of the adult is an important skill.

A Sense of Justice in Their Words and Actions

Young children usually have a strong sense of right and wrong. They see things as black or white with no shades of gray. It is necessary for the homeschool students to be considerate of extenuating circumstances, motivations, and intentions of other people. The homeschooling parent needs to show them real life examples of situations where doing something not quite legally correct, might be morally the right thing to do.

Solving Conflicts Amicably

There is no getting away from conflict in life, and it would help homeschool students tremendously if they knew exactly how to handle disagreements with others. Being socially responsible includes being able to resolve differences with other individuals of the society in an amicable manner. A few tips can go a long way in shaping how they deal with problematic people they may encounter in the future.

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America’s Best Young Scientist

Science can be a passion for children who are to young to drive! Recently “America’s Best Young Scientist” was chosen by the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist in their annual challenge. The winner of the $25,000 prize this year, was an 11 year old child from Colorado called Gitanjali Rao.

Tethys, as Gitanjali’s project was called, is a sensor based gadget that tests water for lead faster than any device currently on the market. Gitanjali hopes to help deal with the water contamination crisis by using the device to decrease health effects caused by lead exposure.

As per their website students from the grades 5 to 8 in the United States, are invited to create a 1-2 minute video describing a new, innovating solution that could solve an everyday problem. Ten finalists are chosen each year for their passion for science, spirit of innovation and ingenuity, and effective communication skills.

Judging of the videos sent in is based on.

  • Creativity (ingenuity and innovative thinking) (30%)
  • Scientific knowledge (30%)
  • Persuasiveness and effective communication (20%)
  • Overall presentation (20%)

Those chosen are then guided to bring their solution to a prototype. These young individuals then work with 3M mentors to refine and improve their final project. The ten finalists are judged in a competition final which is held a few months after their initial selection.

At the finals they present the result of their summer mentor-ship as well as participate in a series of challenges based on their science knowledge. The judges come from a variety of fields and include teacher, scientists, researchers and school district representatives.

They are looking for science based ideas that are sustainable and practical. Ideas that help clear out pollution and environmental contamination issues are particularly welcome. Also gadgets and devices with moving parts which have a helpful purpose in daily life are appreciated.

The young children need to send in individual entries as teams are not allowed to participate in the challenge. Parental approval is also required for participation. To get a better idea of what kind of ideas are selected, past entries into the annual challenge can be referenced on the challenge website.


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Easy Halloween Costumes for Homeschool Students

Buying Halloween costumes for all your homeschool students can put a serious dent in your monthly budget. It’s much easier and more economical to fix up costumes for your kids at home. Here are some costumes that are very simple to put together and still look great.

Black Cat

A very popular Halloween symbol, the black cat is a costume that can be assembled in no time. Just put your kid in a plain black hoodie with black leggings for the base. Add a couple of cat ears made out of felt or black construction paper to the top of the hoodie. Create a long tail using black wool or rope. Stitch it to the back of the hoodie. Add a black basket and the costume is complete.


For this costume use white leggings and a plain white, round neck, t-shirt for the base. You can either use actual broad bandages to wrap up the child or simply cut out strips from an old white bed sheet. Make sure that you wrap the hands and legs separately. Ensure that the child is able to pull down the leggings along with the strips because there will be a trip to the bathroom and we don’t want to be stuck unwrapping the whole Mummy costume.


A simple pointy hat can be made out of felt or black construction paper. A wand can be fashioned out of a thick piece of wood. If it’s crooked, even better. Add a long, plain black tunic and black shoes. Add some white lace to simulate spider’s webs to the costume. Your witch may like some Gothic make up to make the look spookier. Black lipstick, eye shadow and nail paint will do the trick.

Raggedy Anne

Red and White candy striped leggings and a white top. You can do up the hair in curls. If possible pick up a red wig made out of chunky wool. This will give a much more authentic look. Add the red cheeks and your Raggedy Anne doll is ready. Give her a wicker basket and send her trick or treating.



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Halloween in the Homeschool Classroom

Celebrating a popular festival like Halloween can become a good opportunity for interest – led learning in the homeschool classroom. Teach them about what they are celebrating and why. Here are some tips on turning the week into a fun filled adventure for your homeschool students.

Make Some Halloween Decorations for the Classroom

Use ice cream sticks and some black thread to make fake spider webs. Craft them in different sizes and hang them up around the classroom with different length strings. Some glue may be required to keep the string in place on the ice cream sticks.

Have a Jack-o-Lantern carving class. Watch some video tutorials on how to do basic shapes and let the homeschool students decide the design they want on their pumpkin. Elder ones can be allowed to carve on their own. Emphasis on safety.

Make some fog with dry ice. You will have an impromptu science theory class on the chemistry of how this smoke is caused. Procuring the dry ice is easy from local restaurant freezers.

Make the homeschool classroom it’s own Mummy. Use bandages on a small doll or soft toy for younger children. The wrapping can be held in place with a bit of velcro stuck on to the ends of the bandage.

Study About Halloween 

Help them understand the beliefs behind the festival by teaching them about the history of Halloween. Explain about the pagan superstitions, and how people dressed up as ghosts and ghouls to blend in with the souls they thought were roaming the streets that night.

Teach them about Bats. The little furry mammal can make an interesting topic for learning on the eve of Halloween. Find out about it’s environmental impact and where it lives as well as what it eats. See if you can spot some bats in the local parks or zoo.

Give them a quick overview of the human anatomy. Basic organ systems can be spoken about as well as illustrated. Now have them make snacks that resemble the organs. There are a number of ideas available on making particularly ghoulish looking snacks which resemble the body organs.


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Encouraging Mentoring in the Homeschool Classroom

Yes, you will ask your elder homeschool students to help their younger siblings with some learning. No, it doesn’t mean that you want your elder kids to teach the younger kids, while you take the morning off. Mentoring can have benefits for all your homeschool students and not just for the one being mentored.

Sharing Knowledge Helps Both Grow

The younger homeschool student will learn something new. The elder homeschool student will get to revise something they already knew. It’s often when you revise something that doubts actually surface. By going over the entire material with a view to explain it to their younger sibling the homeschool student will be analyzing the best way to handle the topic. They will end up doing a very through revision.

Being Accountable for Another

A sense of responsibility grows as the homeschool student begins to mentor younger siblings. Not only does he feel accomplished at having finished his own school work quickly, he also feels a sense of pride at being able to help out the younger homeschool students. There is a sense of accountability for ensuring that the lesson they teach is well understood.

Building Stronger Bonds and Relationships

It adds an additional layer to the family bond. When an elder sibling mentors the younger one, there is a better building up of rapport between them. They are forced in a way to get along so that they can finish the lesson. This helps them both learn how to handle somewhat challenging relationships. After all dealing with your siblings is always a challenge.

Someone Always Available to Counsel and Advice

Even when the homeschool parent is unavailable, the homeschool students have an elder to turn to. They may have simple doubts in their math work, or issues that are bothering them. It helps to have an additional person to talk with. Sometimes it is even better that the person is not a parent or an authority figure in the life of the child. Being a child themselves the elder sibling can better understand the issues being described. It provides a stronger support system.

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Running Your Homeschool Classroom Productively

There are many aspects to homeschooling your children. From having the study material ready to the actual lesson plans you are going to follow, it’s all a matter of organization. However sometimes you can face issues with being productive all through the school day. Here are few things that you can do to deal with this.

Have a Plan

If the homeschool parent knows exactly what needs to be done on a particular day, it makes life much easier. Schedule a rough plan about what all each homeschool student needs to accomplish in the week. This can give you enough scope to flip through subjects and classes should the child finish something earlier, or take longer for a particular activity.

Share the Plan

The weekly plan should be accessible to the homeschool students as well. It’s a good idea to make a chart and have it visually available for the full homeschool classroom. The homeschool students will understand exactly what all they need to complete in the week. This way you will be able to tick off things that have been completed and give them a sense of achievement as well.

Substitute Activities For When You are Unavailable

No matter how well you try to organize yourself, there will be times when you are unavailable in the homeschool classroom. At such times you need to have substitute activities readily available for the homeschool students to follow. These could include reading up on a topic, doing a worksheet, or any other activity which does not need your direct supervision but which the homeschool student is aware of.

Household Chores Before School Work

Often household chores end up getting neglected because you want to focus first on the education of your homeschool students. A simple way to avoid the backing up of these chores is to do them early in the morning before the homeschool session for the day begins. It will be easier for you to relax and make you feel satisfied when all the household work is under control.

Time for Snacks and Breaks

A common mistake new homeschool teacher makes is to cater for everything but break time. You need to take short breaks through the school day in order to stay productive. Many scientific studies have supported the fact that a short break actually makes a person more productive. So break regularly with your homeschool students for snacks and naps.

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