FREE Resources for Outdoor Survival Skills

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I grew up in the small towns of Western Montana. Our family went camping often, and my dad was always good about showing us some basic skills for camping out. I don’t think it ever crossed our minds that we would be lost and need to survive. We were pretty good at staying found by staying near the camp. We were lucky not to have been forced to survive on our own.

If you’ve been looking for some resources for teaching your children basic survival skills, or even more than basics skills, here are some resources to help you along. You might notice that many of the links are by Boy Scout troops or Scoutmasters. You can learn what they learn, even if you aren’t a scout! It’s good to be prepared!

Disclaimer: Use the advice and lesson plans on each website at your own risk. This blog post is simply a collection of websites and resources that appeared to be useful for teaching survival skills.

Literature as a Resource

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen

Brian is a 13-year-old boy (with a troubled family life) who finds himself surviving a plane crash and having to fend for himself until he is found.   The Art of Manliness has found 10 survival skills from the fictional story about wilderness survival that are truly useful in a real-life situation.   SparkNotes has a plot summary for you here.

Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell

Karana is a girl, who by unusual circumstances, ends up alone to survive on a tropical island.  Here is a plot synopsis on Sparknotes.  My girls and I really enjoyed this book as a read-aloud.

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George

Sam runs away from home and chooses to live on his own in the Catskills. He lives off the land and learns to survive through the winter.

Use this lesson plan from Scholastic to do a study of the book.

Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George

When her life in her small, Eskimo village becomes dangerous, Julie runs away only to find herself lost in the Alaskan wilderness without food or even a compass to guide her. To survive, she copies the ways of a pack of wolves. The first in the Julie of the Wolves trilogy, this makes for fantastic adventure reading.

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Dafoe

This classic tale of shipwreck and survival on an uninhabited island is a thrilling read and a marvel in resourcefulness.

The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss

This classic adventure is full of resourceful characters. It’s “an irresistible tale of ingenuity” that young readers will enjoy.

Websites aimed at Kids and Survival

Exciting Scout Craft

A boy scout Scoutmaster gives advice and skill techniques, including the explanation of S.T.O.P., for being prepared if you get lost.

Gaelic Wolf Pack Survival Basics

Here is a suggested starting point for planning and organizing a survival camping trip. It is not intended as a syllabus, but rather a starting point.

Equipped to Survive

A Kid’s Wilderness Survival Primer contains basic info on how to pack a Wilderness Survival Pack for when kids will be out in the wild for hiking, camping, etc. It includes information on how to obtain a free special whistle to pack in the survival pack. A whistle is a very useful tool for letting searchers know where to find a lost child or adult.

Wilderness.net

Wilderness.net is a free resource for teachers and educators to broaden their knowledge base about the wilderness and land preservation.

Urban Survival Site

This post from Urbansurvivalsite.com is a condensed version of basic skills to teach your kids, including how to use a map and compass and how to find water. Along with some great tips, there are also handy YouTube tutorials for things like starting a fire and building a shelter.

The Survival Mom

This detailed collection from thesurvivalmom.com is an in-depth list of 32 different skills to teach kids how to do things like how to read the sky for directions and forage for food and medicinal plants. She includes some great book recommendations and lots of great information, broken down into categories that are easy to teach. This entire blog is a great resource for teaching survival skills.

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

FREE Math Printables for Elementary

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Free printables are just awesome! It’s so nice to just click print and hand them to my kids. They are excellent for reinforcing what we are learning, and for speed and competency training. I use them most often in math, where skills and concepts at each level must be mastered before moving on to the next. Here are some great places to find math printables and worksheets for your little learners!

Pre-school

There is really a wealth of resources for preschool worksheets out there! Slapdashmom.com is a great place to start because they have printables that cover all the basics: pencil control, math, and literacy skills, all in one place!

First Grade

Education.com has a huge library of free printables for lots of subjects, but their math content is excellent. You will definitely find worksheets to supplement whatever you’re covering with your student!

Second Grade

Bacamajalah.com has second-grade math covered. This is a one-stop-shop for printable worksheets to cover every concept!

Third Grade

It’s education.com again for third-grade math worksheets! You name it, they’ve got it, all for free!

Fourth Grade

123Homeschool4Me.com has your fourth grader covered! Lots of worksheets to help reinforce those concepts!

Fifth Grade

MashupMath.com has a neat table of contents that allows you to pick and choose exactly which worksheets you want for your fifth grader. And they include answer keys!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Sentence Diagramming FREE Printables

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I don’t know about you. But diagramming sentences was not a particularly favorite memory from my school days. So when it came time to teach it to my homeschoolers, this teacher had to do a bit of review herself! Luckily, there are some pretty great resources available to us these days for those areas where we need a bit of help! Here are some free printables that will make teaching sentence diagramming a breeze!

English Worksheets Land makes it easy to find what you’re looking for with 5 different worksheets for teaching each part of diagramming.

Along with a number of worksheets and templates, K12 Reader offers this handy sentence diagramming guide for quick reference.

Lastly, Print N Practice has an extensive post detailing the breakdown of the parts of speech for sentence diagramming. With a category for each concept and examples for each diagram, this is a fantastic resource to keep in your back pocket!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

FREE Handwriting Printables

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Can you remember your first writing book? Those dotted lines and large margins? Oh, happy nostalgia. I chose the dry erase versions for my kids when they were learning and they loved erasing best of all! Thanks to the internet, homeschool resources are vast and accessible, and handwriting printables are plenty! And, you can easily make a printed piece of paper reusable, by putting it inside a sheet protector and using dry erase markers!

Pre-writing Practice

Little learners are still mastering hand-eye coordination, so fun activities like tracing lines and shapes are a great place to start! These Pre-Writing Practice Worksheets are perfect for getting those lines just right!

Once they know the fundamentals, they can move on to forming letters and numbers! You can find over 200 Free Handwriting Worksheets here to keep them learning.

Copywork

A great way to reinforce handwriting skills is to copy common words for recognition. These Handwriting Worksheets are a great start!

Cursive

For learning letter formation, check out these Free Cursive Handwriting Worksheets!
And once they have mastered their letters, they can move on to writing words and sentences with these Cursive Handwriting Printables!

Sloppy writing? Try this Sloppy Handwriting Quick Fix!

Happy handwriting!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Summer Reading List for Tweens and Teens

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We know that fostering a love for reading is so important while our kids are young. But let’s be honest, there’s a lot of junk out there with a shiny “for kids” label on it, and it can be overwhelming to wade through reviews to see whether a popular title is actually appropriate. For this list, we specifically selected titles that are popular and family-friendly. Check out these exciting, positive fiction stories that are sure to grab your child’s attention and make for excellent summer reading.

Looking for great reading lists for younger readers? Check out our Reading Lists For Every Age{K-5}

The Circle series by Ted Dekker. The Circle is an epic story of evil and rescue, betrayal and love, and a terrorist threat, unlike anything the human race has ever known. Each of the four individual novels, Black, Red, White, and Green have been best sellers on their own. And now they are combined into one epic tale that’s a fan favorite for millions.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. This dystopian future tale captured the world’s attention with its blockbuster movies. An excellent series to lose yourself in, this is a great read for adults, too!

Dragons In Our Midst series by Bryan Davis. With quite a collection of contemporary/fantasy books for young adults and adults, Bryan Davis tells the epic tale of kids with a rare heritage, and the slayer who seeks to destroy them!

                     

Oracles Of Fire by Bryan Davis. Fans of Dragons In Our Midst will absolutely love this dive back in time, from the era just before Noah’s Ark, to the time of King Arthur, when battles raged between dragons and men.

Tales of Goldstone Wood series by Anne Elizabeth Stengl. Young suitors, jilted hearts, whispers of war, and a coming evil that threatens to sweep the land await readers in this fantasy tale that has enthralled millions of fans worldwide.

The Songkeeper Chronicles by Gillian Bronte Adams. This epic tale of an orphan turned hero takes readers on a fantastic journey through the land of Leira, where an ancient melody finds a new Songkeeper in each generation. Now it’s Birdie’s turn.

                     

Chronicles Of Narnia by CS Lewis. No list would be complete without this incredible series that has captured the hearts of readers for more than 60 years! Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a fantasy world of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world.

Twisted Tales series by various authors. These Disney stories take your favorite, well-known princess stories and explore the “What Ifs”, like what if Mulan traveled to the underworld. Or what if Cinderella never tried on the glass slipper…

The Piper’s Pursuit by Melanie Dickerson. Melanie Dickerson has several beautiful novels of brave heroines and this is a great place to start! A young woman is determined to save her people against all odds in this fantasy tale of plagues, beasts, and missing children.

                     

Sierra Jensen Collection by Robin Jones Gunn. You’ll enjoy the bold, free-spirited Sierra Jensen as she takes on her junior year of high-school and does her best to seek God’s will for her life!

Wars Of The Realm series by Chuck Black. An accident leaves Drew blind, but when his sight miraculously returns, he discovers he has a new ability: he can observe fierce invaders that no one else can see. Is he insane? Or do these dark invaders actually exist? Drew searches for the light in this fantasy tale of faith.

Stranded series by Jeff Probst. Shipwrecked and stranded on a rocky jungle isle with no adults, four distant siblings must learn to depend on each other to survive.

                     

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Math Games for All Ages!

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We are always on the lookout for everyday activities that can reinforce what we are teaching. And these math games are some really fun options! Skills honed in these games range from basic math facts and logical reasoning to probability and chance and visual perception. Plus, the incentive to win goes a long way, at least in our house!

For even more fun math games and activities, check out this Free Ice Cream Place Value Match Game and 10 Ways To Learn With LEGO! And if you’re looking for math games for your device, there are a bunch of really good options here.

Here are our favorites!

Chess. It’s a classic. Need I say more? This fun travel version makes it easy to play on the go!

Sum Swamp. Race through the swamp while facing math challenges and meeting funny swamp creatures along the way!

Tri-Facta.  It’s more of a fun way to practice math than it is a family game night resource. But if your kids enjoy practicing math facts in a new and interesting way, or if you just need a new way to help them master math, this is a good option. There is also a multiplication and division version!

Payday. Most any money exchanging board game is reinforcing math and there is plenty of money math going on in this one, so it definitely counts as school. (yep, I just said that)

Head Full Of Numbers. Roll the different sets of dice and set the timer, then record the different combinations of equations you can make using those numbers. This game incorporates addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to accommodate varying levels of skill.

Skyjo. This one has enough chance involved that younger kids can feel capable of winning and there is enough fun to keep older ones engaged.

Even Steven’s Odd. Test your addition and subtraction speed while trying to beat your opponents to complete the required roll. There are two levels of challenge to this one so you are sure to keep your kids engaged.

Prime Climb. This game is a great way to reinforce basic math facts for all four operations. The twist that comes when you land on a prime number and get to draw a prime card keeps the game interesting for everyone.

Absolute Zero Card Game. This one was created by a middle school math teacher to reinforce math facts with integers. The score at the end of a round is calculated using absolute value, another important concept to reinforce with teens

Colorku. This color-based version of Soduko game is played by all ages because various levels of challenge are included.

Blokus. This classic game can be understood by younger children but the skilled play really takes shape in the tween and teen years. You can play with up to four players, which is definitely the most challenging way to play.

Set. This is a classic game of Visual Perception that you can play solo or with others. Playing by yourself gives you time to improve your skills without the time pressure. Adding competitors is more challenging but it can be tough if everyone’s skill level isn’t somewhat equivalent.

Blink. You can begin playing this one when your kids are younger, though their skills and speed will really kick in when they get older.

Yahtzee. Another classic you can’t really go wrong with!

Quixx. You can play a full game in around twenty minutes, which makes it perfect for evenings when the family is lounging around.

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Reading Lists for Each Age {Pre-K – 5th grade}

We have always tried to foster a love of reading in our kids. Good readers make good students and life-long learners. But sometimes it can be tricky to judge which books are best for each age group, so this list is a great place to start. Please note that while these books are suggested for certain grade levels, the reading levels of kids can vary greatly so choose books at your kid’s pace and don’t get held up by grade levels. As long as they’re reading, they’re learning!

If you’re looking for options for older readers, check out our Summer Reading List For Teens!

Here are our top picks for the best books for each age!

This post contains affiliate links.

For babies and toddlers

For this age, books should foster interaction. Maybe they have a refrain that repeats throughout. Kids might have to make noises or look for certain things on each page. Whatever it takes to get them involved. You may quickly find that your little one has a favorite book memorized and can “read” it to you!

          

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle

I Went Walking by Sue Williams

Freight Train by Donald Crew

What Do You Say by Mandy Stanley

Preschool and Kindergarten

The world of picture books has such amazing resources for our young readers. I’m sure you have a long list of favorites! Here are just a few of ours.

          

Duck On A Bike by David Shannon

The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle

The Pigeon Finds A Hotdog by Mo Willems

Naughty Little Monkeys by Jim Aylesworth

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Picture books for Kindergarten – 2nd grade

I really don’t think it’s possible to have TOO many picture books around, especially with youngsters in the house! These are our top pics!

             

How Big is Your Brave by Ruth Soukup

Mighty, Mighty Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Who Wants A Cheap Rhinoceros by Shel Silverstein

The Empty Pot by Demi

Doctor De Soto by William Steig

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

You Are Special by Max Lucado

Chapter books for 2nd – 3rd graders

Around second grade, kids typically are ready to start reading chapter books. It’s an exciting milestone for their scholastic career! Here are some excellent choices.

          

Frog And Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

The Cam Jansen series by David A. Adler

The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne

Junie B Jones series by Barbara Park

Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew by Carolyn Keene

The Dream Traveler’s Quest series by Ted Dekker

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol

Chapter books for 4th – 5th graders

Finding chapter books for kids to read that they have a high interest in is key. Listed here are some of our favorite chapter book series for kids in 4th and 5th grades.

        

The Dangerous Christmas Ornament by Bob Seigel

The I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Prince Warriors Series by Priscilla Shirer

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

The Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen

IMAGINE… series by Matt Koceich

Non-fiction books for K – 5th graders

Nonfiction makes up the majority of what adults read. But too often kids don’t get enough nonfiction reading. Here are 7 favorites for getting that non-fiction reading in.

          

A Picture Book of… Biographies by David Adler

Let’s Read and Find Out series by Franklin M Branley

Case for… Series by Lee Strobel

True Books series by Mel Freidman

Scholastic True or False series by Gilda and Melvin Berger

If You… series by Elizabeth Levy

Who Was series by Roberta Edwards and Janet Pascal

The I Can Read series by various authors

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

10 Ways to Learn with LEGO

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Who doesn’t love legos? These popular building bricks have become a staple childhood plaything in most homes. If you have young children, chances are your house is right in the middle of the lego-mania years, with entire spaces dedicated to various colored brick construction sites! If your house is anything like ours, you have bins of unloved legos, stacked in the dark recesses of your playroom. They were expensive, so I just can’t justify getting rid of them, but the kids don’t really play them much these days. Luckily, some super-smart folks have provided an educational use for all those lonely legos!

Check out these super fun ways to learn with legos!

LEGO Magnet Maze

This LEGO magnet maze is a fun and easy way to learn about magnet strength and it’s customizable with so many different variations to try! Don’t have any magnets lying around? You can get some here!

LEGO Engineering Sensory Bin

For this LEGO engineering sensory bin, put legos in a sensory bin for kids to find and then sort before building the item. This is another super customizable activity that can be made simple for younger learners and more challenging for older ones.

Surface Tension Experiment

Explore surface tension with LEGOs. We’ve all seen the experiment that explains germs using pepper in a bowl of water and a finger dipped in soap. Well, this is a variation of that same concept, using lego pieces!

Lego Bridge Challenge

Make physics fun with these neat bridge-building ideas that help kids realize weight distribution, balance, and structural integrity.

Balloon Powered LEGO Car

I love this balloon powered LEGO car! Measure how fast it can go. See if it will go up an incline. What adjustments can be made to make it go farther and faster? The possibilities here and endless!

LEGO Zipline

This LEGO zip line looks like so much fun, especially if you have stairs!

LEGO Marble Maze

This fun marble maze is great for younger kids and allows for endless creativity.

LEGO Wind Racers Challenge

These LEGO challenge wind racers look like so much fun! You could even have a tournament with different courses to make it more challenging!

LEGO Monsters

This feed the LEGO monsters sorting game is perfect for preschoolers to hone their color and shape sorting skills!

Lava Slime for LEGOs

Make your own molten lava slime for your brave LEGO characters to battle over! This would also be great for any dinosaur or dragon playsets your kids have!

These are just a few of the ideas you can find to use legos for learning. Happy building! Now excuse me while I go and dig out that box of legos for my bridges and wind racers!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Top FREE Apps for Learning Challenges & Learning Disabilities

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Each child is unique. A simple statement, perhaps even cliche, but every parent knows this fundamental truth. Each kid is different, and each kid learns differently. This understanding is one of the reasons many of us choose to homeschool. It’s because the standardization of learning in traditional school settings doesn’t seem sustainable or even particularly suited to success. This is especially true when a child struggles with a learning disability. They can feel as if they “just don’t fit”. But a beautiful truth of parenting is that no one understands our kids better than we do. We know what kind of learners they are and what they struggle with. We understand their specific needs better than anyone. Luckily, these days with all the amazing improvements in technology, there are so many great resources, intervention programs and learning tools to help these kids excel and reach their potential.

We’ve collected some apps on the two most prominent platforms, designed to help kids with specific needs. Sometimes learning challenges tend to overlap so there is not any right or wrong answer. What you really want is several apps that help your child in different areas so they get a holistic learning opportunity. You will see how beneficial many of these apps are no matter what learning challenges your child is struggling with.

A word about screen time and sleep

Before listing resources, it’s important to note that too much screen time can be counterproductive for your child. Physical literacy and movement have been shown to help regulate children’s emotions, reduce anxiety, and help them focus better during instruction time. The combination of the two will help your child improve in all areas of learning.

You will also want your child to turn off their screens at least one hour before bedtime. Some phycologists have said the blue light from devices can actually prevent children from getting a good night’s sleep so they aren’t at their top performance the next day. Adequate sleep is vital for growing brains!

Apps for Dyslexic Learners

Omaguru, dyslexic friendly reader, free on Google Play

DD’s Dictionary free in the App Store

Dyslexia,ai, tools and games for dyslexic students, free on Google Play

Happy Math Multiplication Rhymes free in the App Store

Read 2 Me Free on Google Play

Learning Ally Audiobooks, free on Google Play

Soundsliteracy 3.99 in the App Store

Dyslexia Quest 9.99 in the App Store

Read2Go 19.99 in the App Store

Phonics with a phonogram 2.99 in the App Store

           

Apps for Autistic Learners

Autism iHelp-Play, free in the App Store

Jab Talk, free on Google Play

Sequence It free in the App Store

Sesame Street and Autism, free on Google Play

See. Touch. Learn. Free in the App Store

Autism Speech Sequencing ZApps 1.0 free on Google Play

Sight Words Adventure App, 2.99 in the App Store

Alexicom AAC, free on Google Play

Verbal Me, 6.99 in the App Store

Quick Talk AAC, 24.99 on Google Play

          

Apps for the Visually Impaired

Dragon Dictation, free in the App Store

Free Talking Calculator, free on Google Play

Light Detector, free in the App Store

Color ID, free on Google Play

Tap Tap See, free in the App Store and on Google Play

Be My Eyes, free in the App Store and on Google Play

Braille, free on Google Play

Text to Speech, free in the App Store

Google Text to Speech, free on Google Play

Talking Calculator, 1.99 in the App Store

          

Apps for Learners with Writing Disabilities

Writing Wizard, free on Google Play

Letter School, free in the App Store

Easy Dyslexia and Dysgraphia Aid, free on Google Play

The Writing Machine .99 in the App Store

iWriteWords, 2.99 in the App Store

Word Magic .99 in the App Store

          

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***

Free Art Lessons on YouTube

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I don’t know about you but I struggle with teaching art. Even art history is a tough one for me! I can barely draw stick figures and have next to no interest in techniques or movements. I know Da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh, and Kahlo. But even then, I could only provide a vague description of their absolute MOST famous works. Art is not my forte and teaching it has proven difficult over the years until I found some great co-ops in my area. But when those aren’t available, we get stuck in the same old art rut! Luckily for me, there are some phenomenally talented art lovers and teachers who have provided a wealth of incredible art lessons for free on YouTube! Here are just a few of our favorites.

Online Painting Lessons

Bob Ross the Joy of Painting gets the honorary first place on this list because I am writing the list and I am shamelessly biased. The stress-relieving art teacher who started it all is ideal instruction for middle schoolers on up. His painting series is also available on Netflix and I may or may not use it to fall asleep sometimes.

Createful Kids is a mom and child-friendly account with tons of tutorials on painting and some drawing. The follow-along instruction style is little kid-friendly and there are even videos to highlight some famous artists.

The Art Sherpa is an acrylic painting channel for intermediate level artists. Probably best for middle school and high school this channel features a detailed and well explained follow-along style.

Wecreate Lessons is a channel for younger kids such as preschool and lower elementary ages. It contains simple artwork in an easy-paced, follow-along style that’s ideal for little artists.

Online Drawing Lessons

DrawingWiffWaffles is a creative account full of fun, follow-along videos of drawing with pens, markers, and sketching. It’s geared toward upper middle school to high school level and ability.

Sinix Design is a digital artist who shares technical drawings in how-to videos with quick-moving follow-along instructions. With detailed videos for drawing tricky things like body parts, this channel is great for high school-aged kids who want to get serious and improve their drawing skills.

Art for Kids Hub is the perfect family-friendly art account for elementary and middle school. You can follow right along to draw your favorite characters and animals.

Disney Parks Animation Academy has step-by-step, how-to tutorials on all your favorite characters. These lessons are great for middle schoolers and up.

Online Art History

Free School has many interesting videos on almost all subjects. You can check out their history videos here!  They feature a series of videos about major artists giving short biographies.

Online Craft Videos

Crafts are amazing for the creatively challenged, like myself because crafts count as art! And it just feels so good to create things!
5-Minute Crafts Kids channel contains hundreds of super cute craft ideas for your family. These are not follow-along videos, but they are designed for you to explain the craft and do it together as a project.

Easy Kids Craft is a fun follow-along channel that uses only construction paper and glue for all their crafts. Perfect for elementary-aged kids or when you need a craft idea for a science or history project.

Craft Factory is a fun channel with projects that are a bit more advanced than just construction paper but are perfect for families who love hands-on learning.

Art plays a pivotal role in the development of the young brain. The more art we expose our little learners to, the richer their learning environment will be! Happy learning!

***Make sure to join our How to Homeschool for Free Facebook Support Group for daily encouragement and more great resources for your homeschooling journey!***