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

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

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!

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

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!

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

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.

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

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 – 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!

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

The Best Fine Motor Skill Activities for Preschoolers

The skills that enable a child to move are known as motor skills. The two main types of motor skills are gross motor and fine motor. It is important that both of these are well developed in children in order to be ready for school and to function independently.

Gross motor refers to the development of the large muscles of the body which enable a child to walk, climb, balance, etc. Fine motor refers to small muscle development which enables a child to hold a pencil or button a shirt. It includes eye-hand coordination, eye-finger coordination, finger strength and control, as well as the development of muscles such as the toes, tongue, and eyes.

Gross motor skills develop before fine motor skills. This can be seen in preschool children who are skilled at climbing, running, and walking but are still learning to hold a pencil or control a pair of scissors. Let’s take a look at some activities that will keep your preschooler engaged and learning while strengthening these fine motor skills.

Puzzles and more puzzles! When my oldest was turning 3, we used a puzzle to learn her alphabet. Bright colors helped her remember letters, and the action of fitting the letters into their spots on the puzzle board kept her engaged longer than writing or reading them!

Coloring may seem like too easy a suggestion, but it really teaches invaluable motor skills for little ones. From holding the crayon/ marker/ pencil correctly to tracing and staying inside lines, this is a simple, mess-free activity that preschoolers can do daily!

Dry erase markers are super fun for littles as well. Mine really enjoyed the novelty of erasing what they had just drawn. You can print color pages and put them into page protectors so they can create different masterpieces each time. Or give them a plain whiteboard and let them go where their creativity takes them!
Tired of gunk on your whiteboard? Try this great whiteboard cleaning hack!

Activity books are fantastic quiet activities and are sold pretty much everywhere. I used to pick up a new one each week at the grocery store and my kids would pick and choose the activities they liked best!

Lace and trace is a simple activity that helps to develop children’s fine motor skills. Since there aren’t many pieces and they’re not messy, these are great for the car, church, or waiting rooms.

Threading beads is great for hand-eye coordination and finger control! Have them string a color pattern, or make words out of those cute letter beads! Also, check out how to make these adorable Cheerio caterpillars using breakfast cereal and pipe cleaners!

Scissor skills are another excellent example of fine motor skills for preschoolers to master! Check out these great printables over at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Check out this super fun Easter Egg Rescue Game! It uses everyday items and helps with focus and motor skills!

Once your littles have mastered their motor skills and you’re ready to start foundational education, check out our resources on Homeschooling Preschoolers for even more great ideas and activities!

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

Budgeting For Kids: Making It Easy

“Please, can I have it, Mommy?”

Haven’t we all been there? I know I have. Just a quick store run for milk and dog food, and bam! There, on an aisle we didn’t avoid fast enough is a shiny new rounder, filled to the brim with bug-eyed, neon-colored stuffed animals, just begging to be lovingly chosen by eager little hands and carried to the check-out line. My friend, from personal experience, I can confidently tell you that this is not the best moment to start a conversation with your 6-year-old about wants versus needs.

The fact is, we live in an instant gratification society. And to a 6-year-old, it may appear that you pick whatever items you want from the grocery store and swipe a magic card that allows you to take them all home. It may seem unfair that her request isn’t ranked the same as yours. I’m sure you’ve also dealt with questions like, “why can’t I spend all my Christmas and birthday money on this toy that I will play with 5 times and then forget all about?” Ok, maybe it wasn’t worded exactly that way, but you get my meaning.

Money and money management, are skills our kids need us to teach!

This is why we have to start this conversation early and have it often. There are many ways to teach money management skills, and you really can pick and choose what works best for your kiddos! From learning to recognize and identify different coin and bill values, all the way to learning the stock market, we’ve got you covered!

Some of our favorite books on the subject

Bunny Money (Max and Ruby) by Rosemary Wells for ages 3-5
Lily Learns about Wants and Needs by Lisa Bullard for ages 5-8
The Everything Kids’ Money Book: Earn it, save it, and watch it grow! by Jamie Kyle McGillian for ages 8-12
Finance 101 for Kids: Money Lessons Children Cannot Afford to Miss by Walter Andal fo ages 9-12

A fabulous resource for mom and dad is Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze

Games are a great way to reinforce newly acquired skills

Monopoly is a classic, and smart management of money and properties is a requirement for success! Another great option that’s not as well known is a game called Payday in which players are required to have a job and wait for payday at the end of the month. But to get there without going broke, they’ll have to be smart about their money. They can earn cash, find bargains, sell items for a profit, and be the player with the most cash in the end to win the game! Check out a huge list of our favorite educational board games here!

Extras from How to Homeschool for Free!

Learn how to teach kids the stock market by clicking right here!
If chores and allowance are part of your weekly activities, then definitely check out our resource for teaching life skills to help you with checking those to-do list boxes!

Additional Resources

123Homeschool4Me is offering this free, printable money booklet! Great for 1st and second graders, it helps them learn to identify coin values and includes fun money counting activities.
Check out this collection of 50 ideas to teach kids about money from Penny Pinchin Mom. These are effective and super easy to implement at home!
Money Confident Kids is a website with free lessons on everything from basic goal-setting to diversification. This is a fantastic resource, with comprehensive lessons that are easy to follow

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

Create Your Own High School Transcript From Home

This question comes up a lot in homeschool circles and groups: what do I do about a high-school transcript? It seems official and formal and scary! But it doesn’t have to be. It’s super helpful to know what requirements your state has for graduation/ college entry, so definitely check out the Homeschool Requirements in Your State to get started.

There are several ways to produce homeschool transcripts for your student, including availability from various organizations and online planner services, but creating your own isn’t as scary as it sounds.

A transcript really only needs the following information

  1. a list of the high school courses that your child has taken,
  2. the grade earned for each course
  3. the credits earned for each course
  4. GPA’s: one for each year and a final, overall GPA
  5. a graduation date/ projected graduation date (for seniors who haven’t yet finished)
  6. Student and school information (student name, birthdate, and/or social security number; school name & address)
  7. your signature

Any additional information is optional (unnecessary) so there’s no need to clutter up a spreadsheet with extra-curricular accomplishments or awards. And their SAT/ACT scores are entered on the actual college application, so there’s no need to include them on the transcript. This is just the academic record. You want it to be as clean and uncluttered as possible. A quick search will pull up hundreds, even thousands of examples to follow.

Check out this incredibly informative post over and Annie and Everything, where she lays it all out for you.

You can download this free transcript template here!

Giving Credit

There are several different ways students may acquire credits. Your state’s requirements will guide you through determining how many credits your student needs in each subject., but oftentimes homeschool moms have questions about what constitutes one high school credit.

To help you make those determinations, here are some examples of how students may acquire credits via subjects or electives:
  • The completion of a high school level textbook
  • Completing a semester-long course at a college
  • Taking a high school or college level online course
  • Completing a year-long unit study (or 2-semester long unit studies)
  • Participate in homeschool sports teams
  • Take private lessons and participate in competitions (Martial Arts, Dance, Swim, Theater, etc.)

General high school credit guidelines are that a 1-year course = one credit; and a semester course = one half credit

What if the course type isn’t so clearly defined? Chess and swim teams don’t exactly measure accomplishments this way, right? In that case, as a general rule, you can calculate credits this way: 120-180 hours of work = one credit. 60-90 hours = one-half credit

Missing Credits

In general, students in a well-planned homeschool won’t be missing credits because the homeschool sets the requirements. As home educators, we are aware of the workload facing our students in their college years and we work diligently to prepare them for success.  That said, it’s wise to contact colleges your student is considering attending and ask them what requirements they look for students to complete.  Don’t be surprised if they expect all state requirements to be met.

The Perfect Transcript

Don’t be afraid to take the time to make a great first impression, but don’t fear the transcript process! You can do this! Ask veteran homeschool parents who have graduated a homeschool student to share a sample with you.

And when you’re all done, congratulate your student on a job well done. Don’t be afraid to pat yourself on the back a little either.

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

The Best Online Writing Curriculum for Struggling Writers

I’ve found that writing is an “all or nothing” subject, at least with my kids. They either love it and look for opportunities to do more, or they completely despise it and act like it’s torture to write more than a sentence. There is no middle ground.

We have loved out-of-the-house writing classes, and many homeschoolers supplement with online options. And these days there are quite a few of those options! Below are a few of the most highly recommended for kiddos struggling with writing.

Write Shop has curriculum grouped for all age levels. Complete curriculum runs up to $130, but they offer bulk discounts and have sales and better rates on individual books. There’s also a placement test so you know where to start.

With Outschool you can sign up for free and classes start for as low as $10. These are live, online classes that meet at scheduled times, multiple days a week. They offer standard writing courses per grade level, as well as short classes based on fun interests, like the Percy Jackson and Wings of Fire series. There are so many classes to choose from here, you can really take your pick!

Essentials In Writing has a writing curriculum available for purchase, as well as online classes. The online classes include college prep and a special course for struggling writers! They also offer a literature curriculum made to go hand in hand with the writing portion. Each is available individually to stream or as a DVD package. You can also bundle them for a better price.

IEW or Institute for Excellence in Writing is a higher cost than the options above, but the comprehensive curriculum is rich and immersive. This is an excellent tool for your homeschool arsenal.

Copy work is another great option for struggling writers. You can read all about the benefits and uses of copy work here!

For even more great options, check out these other fabulous, free writing and grammar resources, as well as this collection of free writing printables, and creative writing ideas and prompts.




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