Homemade, Allergy-friendly Playdough with Baking Soda!

My kids have always loved playing with playdough! We had just about every mold, model, and extruder we could find, and they filled many love hours with imaginative and creative play in their early years!

I prefer homemade dough because of its low cost and ingredients I could pronounce, but many of the homemade varieties aren’t ideal for those with food allergies due to their use of gluten and wheat flour. So this homemade recipe uses baking soda and cornstarch, making it gentle on the skin and allergy-friendly!

Gluten-Free Baking Soda Pay Dough

*This recipe is an adaption of the Arm & Hammer Play Clay recipe

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. The baking soda makes it fizz for a while before it starts to thicken, which is fun for kids to see! Once it starts to thicken, be vigilant because it goes really fast.
Take it off the heat as soon as it’s thick enough to stick together. Leave partially covered, off the heat until it’s cool enough to be handled.
Separate into equal balls and color with food coloring of your choice. Gel and liquid types both work well!

Food coloring typically comes in red, green, blue, and yellow, so have fun experimenting with different mixtures to get the colors you want. Your kids will love mixing red and yellow to get orange, and red and blue to make purple!

Extra fun options

You could also add ingredients like glitter for sparkly playdough! My personal favorite extra ingredients are essential oils, as I find their medicinal properties to be another great perk to this type of creative, unstructured play!

Simply add 2-3 drops of your favorite oils to your finished batch. For a variety of therapeutic benefits, include 1 drop to each ball after you’ve mixed the food coloring.
The possibilities are really endless here but some of my favorites that come pre-diluted for kids are:

Sleepyize – carefully blended with a variety of claiming, quieting oils such as lavender and chamomile

Kidpower –  promotes feelings of positivity and confidence

Geneyus – for clarity, focus and, alertness, perfect for creative play

Find out where to get these great oil blends and learn everything you’ve ever wondered about essential oils by clicking right here!

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How To Keep Your Kids Learning All Summer Long

The end of the school year approaching usually means less structure, lighter schedules, and lots more free time. At my house, we start wistfully watching the calendar around April, yearning for the glorious freedom of summer. For the first few weeks, we need to decompress and take it easy. But after some rest, I like to incorporate some of the principles and skills we’ve learned during the year into our days off. Here are some of the ways we continue learning over summer break, and great resources for you to do the same!

Reading

I’m a stickler about this one all year! Over summer vacation, I encourage the kids to read but I let them follow their own interests, rather than whatever their curriculum calls for. Some of our favorite titles can be found in these summer reading ideas for teens and elementary-aged kids.

Science

I love documentaries and thinking through the questions they often provoke! My kids also really enjoy watching experiment videos on YouTube. Sometimes we try them ourselves and sometimes we just watch. More general science concepts are well represented on these YouTube channels as well, and we always discuss and dive deeper into subjects of particular interest.

History

Did I mention my love for documentaries? Well, it’s been successfully passed to my kids and historical documentaries are a fabulous way to learn important lessons from the past. The big streaming services have a variety to choose from, though I find many to be inappropriate for children, so I pick and choose carefully. But YouTube can be another good option here, with a healthy dose of parental monitoring. These are our favorite, kid-friendly history channels!

Math

Math is just a part of everyday life, so it’s actually really simple to incorporate discussion and learning if you put just a little thought into it. Here are my favorite ways to keep practicing math over a break!

Bible

Scripture memorization is a foundation of education for us, and I’ve used many methods over the years with varying levels of success. This Scripture memory system has been the most effective, and it’s not strictly regimented, making it a perfect summer-time supplement!

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10 Fun Ways To Prevent Summer Math Loss

I’m always on the lookout for learning opportunities, especially when we’re on a break from our regular learning routine. I find the spontaneous teachable moments to be just as effective, if not more effective at times! Sometimes this looks like workbooks and fact sheets, but sometimes it looks like card games and Legos! Math is tangibly evident in our everyday life and there are many fun ways to incorporate little math lessons into your kids’ day, other than sitting down with a pencil and paper!

1 Play with blocks

Fantastic for littles, simple toys like blocks and tanagram shapes help kids visualize geometric patterns and concepts. And these same benefits can be derived for older kids from Legos!

2 Card Games

Some of our family favorites are Uno and Skipbo

3 Board games

Classics like Yahtzee and Monopoly are hardwired with math fundamentals! (Check out more math game options here!)

4 Make up your own math problems to solve

This is a great activity for the car.  My kids love coming up with hypothetical situations, like how much water would fit in the Grand Canyon!

5 Teach younger siblings how to count and recognize numbers

We learn a lot when we teach and our older kids are no exception! Helping younger siblings is a fabulous math activity.

6 Flash Cards

The old faithful for learning math facts! You can get them in varying levels of difficulty, depending on skill level. They even make dry-erasable flash cards that you can customize!

7 Counting down the days

Whether you’re counting down to a trip, a visit from family or a special event like a birthday or holiday, counting and tracking the days on a calendar helps kids visualize counting concepts!

8 Digital Math Games

Digital learning is a fantastic tool, and the exercises are so fun, they won’t’ even realize they’re learning! Go check out our favorite math apps!

9 Worksheets

Hey, sometimes worksheets just work! And lots of kids actually prefer them. When it comes to free math printables, we’ve got you covered!

10 Helping in the kitchen

This is a favorite because it’s so versatile and easy to adapt for different ages. Older kids can double or triple recipes to flex those fraction muscles. And younger ones can help with prep work like counting places and setting the table (4 big forks and 2 small ones, etc.) Read even more fun ways to get kids involved in the kitchen, right here!

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Free Health Education Resources for Homeschoolers


I believe a thorough understanding of physical health, as with most things, begins at home. It’s so important for kids to be well-versed and educated in the ways their bodies function, and what is required for optimum health. My own kids found it really empowering to learn how much of their health is in their own hands! It’s pretty amazing when they realize the differences they can make with healthy choices in their activity and nutrition. Below is a shortlist of some of our favorite health-related, educational resources for your homeschoolers.

First Aid for Free (6th – 12th)

The courses available include Basic First Aid, Advanced Frist Aid, Pediatric First Aid, CPR, Asthma Awareness, and more. The website presents the material using text and videos. There is a multiple-choice quiz at the end of each module. Lessons are free. All it takes to get started is creating an account, which makes it a great platform to brush up on your first aid knowledge as well.

Easy Peasy All In One Homeschool (K – 8th)

A heavyweight in Christian-based, homeschool curriculum providers, Easy Peasy is a wonderful option in this area of study. Two courses are offered: PE/Health Odds and PE/Health Evens. The courses are designed to alternate, with the Odds course being repeated each odd year and the Evens course being repeated each even school year. The materials are presented using a variety of online, age-appropriate resources including links to articles, videos, and games.

Easy Peasy All In One High School (9th – 12th)

Easy Peasy offers their PE/Health course at four levels, one for each year of high school. Each of the courses is made up of 36 weekly lessons. The lessons include links to health-related articles, exercise videos, and other materials.

Spoons Across America (K – 6th)

Spoons Across America’s Food Explorers Club will email your family every other week with a new activity focusing on a healthy eating theme. A recipe is included that encourages your children to explore, prepare, and taste healthy foods. They also offer Farm to Book Storytime. These video read alouds of children’s books and printable activity sheets teach about food sources – how it is produced, grown, and transported from farm to table. Also available is a homeschool-styled curriculum for purchase at $30 for the first child, and $10 more dollars for each additional child.

Apologia (9th – 12th)

If textbooks are a better fit for your student, then Apologia has a fabulous, Christ-centered health and nutrition curriculum. Exploring Creation with Health and Nutrition is Biblically based, scientifically sound, easy-to-understand, well written, and self-guided for the older students. It can be easily modified and parent-guided for middle schoolers. If you are a Christian parent with a textbook learner, you will likely find this to be a must-have for your teen.

Looking for more information on physical education? Check out our P.E. Resources for Homeschoolers with activity ideas, fun videos, and tips for how to count typical, physical activities for school year credits!

And be sure to look into this free anatomy game for elementary and middle schoolers!

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AMF Bowling – FREE Bowling for Kids This Summer!

Need another fun summer activity for the kids? This summer, your kids can bowl for free every day at AMF Bowling Centers! Each child 15 and under can get 2 free games of bowling per day throughout the entire summer. Shoe rentals are not included.

Just head over here to register your kids: AMF Bowling FREE Summer Bowling for Kids

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What to do on Days You Don’t Want to Homeschool

Ever have one of those days? You know the ones where you wake up and just decide, ” you know what, not today.” I certainly do! Sometimes it’s for a good reason, like a kid is sick, or I’m sick, or everyone is still run down from the weekend. And sometimes it’s for no reason at all. Sometimes, I just want to throw my lesson plans in the air and enjoy the day with my kiddos. So we do! And it’s great! And, with some helpful ideas, I can keep them learning, even on our less structured days!

1. Reading Day

Read a book! It’s really that simple. Have everybody grab a favorite title and spend the morning reading. Or gather in the living room, curl up with some blankets and pillows, and pick a favorite book you can read aloud to everyone! Brew up coffee or tea, fix some hot cocoa, and enjoy a relaxing day with your children. And don’t feel guilty! Reading days encourage both the skill and a love of reading!

2. Home Economics Day

This one is just a fancy title for whatever-needs-done-around-the-house day! Home economics days are flexible and change according to your needs. Is family descending upon you tomorrow? Spend the day scrubbing the house. Other options are to spend the day knitting, sewing, fixing up the lawn, or painting a child’s room. These are also great days to spend in the kitchen baking your children. Check out these fun kitchen ideas for littles!

3. Nature Study Day

Get outside in the fresh air! Explore parks and nature trails in your area. Discover things in your own backyard! Look for animal tracks, observe the trees, and search for signs of the upcoming season. Pack a lunch so you don’t need to return home too soon, especially before you’ve had a chance to stretch your legs and wear out the kids. Nature scavenger hunts are a really fun way to keep little ones engaged on walks.

4. Art Day

So, confession time: art is not my thing. I constantly put art projects off for a more convenient time. A time when I’m not racing the clock to dash to the next activity, or get to the next lesson, or put dinner on the table? But art day comes to the rescue! You can paint. You can draw. Create clay pots. Design stain glass. Color pictures. Finger paint out in the fresh air. Spend the day completing all those fun, messy projects you never seem to get around to. You and your kids will have a blast.

5. Field Trip Day

Not all field trips need to be scheduled. Take the opportunity to sneak out of the house and check out the local museums. Drop by the zoo. Go swimming. Check out an area of town you rarely visit. Wander your neighborhood. If there’s a university nearby, take an afternoon to wander the campus. If nothing else, you can observe the various architectural styles of the local buildings. There are even virtual field trips when leaving the house isn’t ideal.

6. Library Day

The library is such an underutilized tool of modern society! Take a day and introduce the kids to the library. Explore the nooks and crannies. Look up books, subjects, and authors on the catalog. Explain the Dewey Decimal system to your kids. Being familiar with a library is a needed part of your children’s education, even in the internet age!

7. Documentary Day

This one is a personal favorite. I am a very visual learner, as are both of my kids, so documentaries have been a big part of our educational journey for years. We find them to be a fun alternative to textbooks, especially if everyone is under the weather. Instead of trying to focus on a white page and tiny text, spend a day watching documentaries about topics you’re studying. Look for documentaries on history, science, and geography topics. Documentaries allow you to get a new perspective on what you’re studying, giving you a view of a world it’s hard to visit. See the Great Wall of China. Check out the moons of Jupiter. Dive deep into the ocean. Watch a world appear to your children they never dreamed of!

8. Movie Day

Movies are stories brought to life, and there’s no reason not to include them in your learning journey. You can see historical figures and see what made them the people they are. People such as Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great are no longer names in a textbook. They become living, breathing people to your kids. Movies are an awesome way to visit other time periods and see different cultures. Documentaries can give a factual experience, but stories bring characters to life. This is one of our favorite ways to enjoy classic literature like Little Women and A Christmas Carol.

9. Science Day

Art isn’t the only subject that gets pushed aside in the rush of modern life. How many times have you postponed science because there’s no time for the experiments? How many times have you put an experiment on hold until later? Today’s the day! Haul out those science supplies, make a run by the store if needed, and spend the day doing science. Read what makes the experiments work. Do the experiments and see what happens yourself. Have a look at some crazy experiment videos for some inspiration. Have fun and learn science at the same time!

10. Game Day

Pretty simple! Just pull out all the games in the house and play like they’re going out of style. Pop some popcorn or bake cook something yummy to enjoy while playing. Get outside and play a game of soccer or basketball. Backyard games of baseball and kickball are popular around here. Game days are a great opportunity to work on good sportsmanship, discuss ethics, and chat about cheating. Teach your kids how to handle winning and losing like a pro. There are endless learning opportunities on days like these!

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National Take a Walk In The Park Day

March 30th is National Take a Walk in the Park Day, so get out and go for a walk! It’s good for your health!  Especially when you’ve had a rough day. And let’s face it, sometimes, homeschooling days are rough. Tempers can flare, hormones can rage, and there are times when everybody can use a breather. The flexibility and freedom that homeschooling affords make it much easier to take a break when you need to.

When my kids were small, we would often go on scavenger hunts. They loved this activity and it always started great conversations about the items we found. They would ask great questions and we would discuss. But my favorite moments were when I didn’t have a ready answer and we could make a list to look up the answers together. We found it to be another, fun way to learn about the world around us!

For more outdoor ideas, and how to count them for credit, click here!

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The 10 Best Science Channels for Kids on YouTube

I’ll admit I’ve had a love/hate relationship with YouTube, especially when my kids were in their elementary years. It just seemed to require more policing and filtering than I felt it was worth, so we limited it. Now that they are a bit older, and the platform has evolved some, I feel a bit better about allowing access to specific channels whose content is appropriate, especially in the realm of educational videos. There is an actual gold mine of incredible educational content! We really love supplementing our lessons with these videos, especially for things like history and science. I love it when we can immerse ourselves in a particular interest or topic and make it come to life!

Videos are an excellent way to learn more about science topics. There are times when I’d really rather not explode chemicals in my house, or dissect frogs in my kitchen, thank you very much. Check out this great list of science experiments for kids on YouTube! Many of the experiments here have step-by-step breakdowns so you can replicate them if you’d like to, or just watch and learn! But exposure to quality content like this doesn’t have to be limited to experiments! We’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of the top 10 science channels for kids on YouTube!

1. The Dr. Binocs Show

Dr. Binocs from Peekaboo Kidz offers a variety of educational content geared towards younger learners.  The videos are colorful and animated.  Each video is relatively short making them easy additions to your existing lessons.  There are many videos on illnesses and other health-related content

2. Homeschoool Pop

This channel is great! It has a large variety of videos, covering content from many subjects, not just science. Just use the search to help find what you need and enjoy!

3. David Newman Channel

David Newman has videos with easy-to-learn songs & lyrics to teach educational standards. I love using songs to teach concepts because the kids catch on and learn it before they even realize they do!

4. Happy Learning

The Happy Learning channel has Great educational videos all mostly five minutes or less! There is also a Happy Learning Espanol channel. The videos are geared towards little learners and are often slow-paced enough to really give students a chance to absorb the content while also quick enough to keep them engaged.

5. Best of Science

Best Of Science is a fun science channel with content that covers a wide variety of science topics: physics, space, nature, chemistry, and more.

6. SciShow Kids

SciSchow Kids explains many science topics for kids. Their original videos explore many of the topics the kids are interested in, like paper snowflakes and oobleck. Their partner channel, SciShow, also offers many different videos you might find useful for your learning time, though keep in mind that this channel is not geared towards kids, so preview videos for relevance and appropriateness before showing.

7. Free School

Free School is another fantastic collection of videos. They are not all science-related, but a quick search will find you a variety of science content. Definitely a great channel to supplement your homeschool lessons!

8. Fun Science Demos

Fun Science Demos offers videos with a focus on demonstrations to teach the content. Often, science experiments are confused with demonstrations, and these videos do a tremendous job showing demonstrations in action.  They have videos for physical science: matter, force and motion, energy, sound, and light. Earth and space science topics include weather, rocks, solar system, water cycles. And life science videos about things like habitats, life cycles, the human body.

9. asapScience

The asapScience channel uses drawings to explain various interesting topics from a scientific point of view. The topics they cover are questions people have always been asking or things you never thought about before, like: “How old are a person’s ears?” “Can video games make you smarter?” “Can you be scared to death?”
Most topics are kids safe but the channel is not specifically limited to child-friendly content so some parental oversight is necessary.

10. Minute Physics

Minute Physics videos explain science in a similar style as asapScience, but all topics are around physics. You will find topics like: “What is gravity?” “Is it better to walk or run in the rain?” “How is an airplane made?” This channel does a really good job explaining topics in a simple way, so it’s a great learning tool for kids of all ages.

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PE Resources for Homeschoolers

Create a physical activity log

Create your own list of physical education activities and create your own activity log. This is a wonderful mix and match way to teach homeschool PE and it’s really easy to tailor your activities to the ages of your kids. A PE activity list might include 20 minutes of calisthenics (jumping jacks, push-ups, toe touches, etc.), a one-mile walk or run, a 10-minute yoga routine, 10 minutes on the trampoline, or a game of tag with siblings in the backyard.

The activity log is a way for your children to track their physical activity every day. They pick an activity or two from the list above and, once complete, they log the date, time spent, and what they did.
Note: for high schoolers, 60 total hours of activity equals 1/2 credit for PE on a transcript.

Community sports or dance classes

If you have the time and money, and if your child has the desire, sign them up for Little League, softball, or soccer. Dance classes are also a great way to get physical activity into their days. Musical theater is a beloved activity in our house, and I count it as a music and PE credit for my kids!
Your child can add the time spent on these activities to their activity logs for PE credit

Homeschool PE classes in your community

Many homeschool co-ops and even churches with gyms offer homeschool PE programs and classes! Some of these classes are based on the President’s Physical Fitness test, while others may be more specialized, like “team sports”, or archery.
Dojos often have homeschool karate lessons for homeschoolers during the day. Ask other homeschoolers in your area for ideas.

Online resources

You can also use online resources to plan activities and nutritional lessons. There are numerous private and government websites to help you plan a PE curriculum.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute – nhlbi.nih.gov offers tools and resources for families. Fuel Up to Play 60 – offers lessons and directions for children.

You can also find fitness channels for kids on YouTube! Cosmic Kids Yoga and Little Sports are both great options for all ages!

Think outside the box

There really are so many options for physical fitness available: archery, trapeze lessons, even learning to juggle! And homeschooling allows you to schedule these activities during the day, during hours that a business or gym isn’t so busy.

And remember, PE doesn’t have to be organized team sports or traditional fitness tests. Any activity that gets kids moving and that helps them develop hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity can count towards PE credit. Brainstorm with them about activities they may want to pursue and start searching for Youtube videos that teach that skill.

Explore unique opportunities in your own communities such as parkour lessons or free group Tai Chi lessons in the park. Be creative!

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

 

Virtual Dissection Labs for Homeschoolers

If you’re like me, the thought of dissecting a dead animal in your home makes your palms sweat and mind race with a dozen excuses NOT to! Oh sure, a flayed frog was all well and good in the clinical setting of a classroom or lab back in 10th grade… but on my kitchen table? Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to the smell of formaldehyde, so, thanks, but no thanks! The only thing stopping me from skipping the entire process was the worry that my kids would miss out on an important biology lesson that has become a rite of scientific passage! Do any of my neuroses sound familiar? Well, my homeschooling mommy friends, allow me to introduce you to virtual dissections! All the educational richness, with none of the mess or smell! As it turns out, there are a ton of great online virtual options!

The Science Bank

The Science Bank is an amazing online learning dissection and virtual lab that offers a variety of knowledge and tools for all ages. From Pre-K on up, your student can watch videos or learn from models about the dissection process with ease. There are even options for detailed online options to give your child a realistic learning perspective of the dissection process.

The Science Bank offers over 650 different tools for purchase/use to be able to give your child an amazing learning experience in Science. No matter the age of your homeschooler, you can find something that they’ll enjoy and love learning here!

Froguts Virtual Lab

Froguts (from The Science Bank) is a downloadable learning lab that does a really good job tackling and teaching dissection processes to your middle or high school science student.  Audio narration, captioned text, and realistic 3-D interactive simulations of animal dissection and other science experiments come together to deliver key concepts within the theory and foundations of good Biology science education.

Froguts also presents each topic in a layered systems-based approach that integrates inquiry as well as National Science and Technology Standards, making it a great college-prep tool. Students are assessed after each level with randomized quizzes or tests and are given a printable certificate when they complete each module.

The Biology Corner

If a dissection is what you’re looking for, you’ll find it at Biology Corner. Students will have the option to view a dissection of a frog, fetal pig, and rat. There are also virtual dissection options for a cow’s eye and a sheep’s brain as well! Each detailed dissection of the animal will cover the internal and external anatomy, while also providing other information such as anatomy, ecology, and genetics.

It’s also completely free! Find out more information about the Biology Corner right here!

eMind Web

eMind Web is another great place to learn all about the dissection process. And it’s not just frogs! eMind Web also focuses on the anatomy and structure of fish, pigs, cats, and even insects. Your student will have a very well-rounded learning experience when it comes to the offerings of this online virtual lab.

Late Night Labs

The Late Night Labs program is part of the educational publishing group MacMillian Learning. There is a cost to students, but you can watch a demo lesson here.

Dissection videos on YouTube

Feeling like you may need some prep time? Check out these science channels on YouTube! HighSchool Science has an impressive library of science-related content, perfect for advanced middle and high schoolers. Their dissection videos are concise but chock full of information.

Ava Hearts Biology is another great option for high school science content. Most of her videos are dissections so there are plenty to choose from.

More from How To Homeschool For Free

Are you searching for more science lessons and activities? Check out our free AP Biology Resources, free anatomy learning games, and our huge selection of free science resources!

University studies confirm that simulated dissections significantly enhance comprehension of the curriculum objectives when used in conjunction with traditional dissection. Instead of finding reasons to not be a part of the dissection process, log in and join the online adventure. Rich education and learning experiences await you and your homeschooling classroom with the ease of virtual labs!

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