Making Homeschooling Fun
If workbooks are getting boring, and cabin fever is setting in, it might just be the right time for you to add some fun to your homeschool. Games, contests, and more can break up any monotony you are facing. You'll find ideas for field trips and extracurricular activities. And you may find that your kids think "doing school" is funner than anything else they can imagine!
Educational Games
Kids who thrive with hands-on learning love educational games. These are a great way to learn while having fun. Browse through our picks for the best educational games out there.
Extracurricular Activities
Extracurricular activities are a great addition to the educational experience you provide your children by homeschooling. Here you'll find resources for everything from Scouts to 4H to sports and more.
Holidays
Holidays offer a nice opportunity to enhance your child's learning experience. This listing of holidays offers ideas for celebrating in your home, along with interesting facts about these special days. You'll also find suggestions for incorporating holidays into your home education plan.
Field Trips
Who says homeschooling has to happen at home? Most homeschoolers will tell you that they spend almost as much time out of the house as in it. Field trips are learning opportunties that offer fun ways to make every life experience a learning experience. You'll also find tips and strategies for planning, managing, and attending field trips with your homeschool support group.
Camps
Is your child ready to go out, experience new opportunities, and make new friends? Are you looking for specialized instruction in a particular subject? A camp may be just the ticket. Here you'll find a listing of camps that are great for homeschoolers in Iowa and beyond.
Contests
Entering contests is a fun activity for kids. They can practice their writing skills, learn about new subjects, and may even end up winning a great prize. We've collected some of the most interesting, challenging, and fun contests available for kids to enter.
Car Games
Busy homeschooling families tend to spend a lot of time in the car. Learning doesn't have to stop just because you are on the go. These ideas and games will make the most of your vehicle time, giving your kids fun things to do while on the road.
Penpals
Is your homeschooled child looking for new friends? Are you learning about a different part of the country or world? A penpal may be just what you are looking for. These resources will help your child connect with other homeschoolers in far flung places.
What's Popular
Fun Brain
Fun Brain has educational online games for kids, along with resources for parents and teachers. Subjects covered include: art, geography, history, languages, math, music, science, technology, and more
Letters About Literature
The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, in partnership with Target Stores and in cooperation with affiliate state centers for the book, invites readers in grades 4 through 12 to enter Letters About Literature, a national reading-writing contest. To enter, readers write a personal letter to an author, living or dead, from any genre-- fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic, explaining how that author's work changed the student's way of thinking about the world or themselves. Th...
CiCi's Pizza Field Trips
CiCi's Pizza offers Lunch & Learn Field Trips for school groups. This is a hands-on workshop at CiCi's designed by teachers to help kids develop basic math skills. Students use pizza ingredients and other related items to solve problems, and in the process make and enjoy their very own pizza! They offer beginner, intermediate and advanced math level curricula.
National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium
The Mission of the Dubuque County Historical Society [and its National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium] is to explore life of Dubuque, the Mississippi River, and the Rivers of America and their global connections, and to research, interpret, educate and promote the conservation of their historical and natural environment. The National Mississippi River Museum is the nation's premier center to interpret and preserve the Mississippi River's natural environment and history, inspire a global aud...
Timberline Ranch Homeschool Camp
Timberline Ranch in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada, offers a series of six one-day camps on consecutive Mondays, designed specially for homelearners aged 8-16, to give some new experiences and opportunities. Meet other homeschoolers, learn new skills, take on new challenges, and more! Daily activities include riding lessons, horsemanship, riflery, archery, climbing lessons, and group activities.
Shankar's International Children's Competition (SICC)
K. Shankar Pillai (July 31, 1902–December 26, 1989) was a famous cartoonist. He brought out a political magazine called ‘Shankar’s Weekly’. Under the auspices of this magazine, a competition called the Shankar’s International Children’s Competition was organized in 1949. It invited paintings and writings from children in India. Children sent about 3,000 entries. The following year the competition was thrown open to children from all over the world. Today, the competition has grown and about ...
Planning Homeschool Field Trips: 10 Things To Do Before You Go
Children enjoy field trips because they’re able to explore new destinations. Parents enjoy field trips because they offer children hands-on learning and specialized information. Farms, museums, gardens, landmarks, industrial centers, battlegrounds, and businesses are great field trip destinations. Educational opportunities at these sites are plentiful, so homeschool parents will want to venture out so their children can glean valuable information. However, in order to experience a worthwhile fie...
Global Virtual Classroom Contest
The Global Virtual Classroom Contest is a global team cooperation and website-building activity for students from 7 to 18 years of age. Using Internet technologies to communicate, up to 100 teams of three schools each will build Websites on topics of their choosing. Each team will consist of three schools from three different countries. Team websites will be judged by a panel of VIP judges.
Blank Park Zoo
The Blank Park Zoo is located in Des Moines and features animal exhibits and educational programs. The mission of the Blank Park Zoo is to inspire an appreciation of the natural world through conservation, education and recreation. Blank Park Zoo has been a part of the Des Moines metro community since 1963.
Storybook Hill Children's Zoo
Storybook Hill Children’s Zoo was established in 1976, in partnership with the Optimists Clubs of Dubuque, as an effort to increase the knowledge and understanding of common animals among the people of Dubuque. The zoo is a replica of an American farm from the 1940’s, and contains a wide variety of animals that a person visiting this time period might see on an actual farm.
We the People Ideas of America Essay Contest
As part of its We the People initiative, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) invites high school juniors to participate in an essay contest that invites them to reflect on The Idea of America.
LeapPad Game - Mind Wars Jr. Interactive Game
Bring a friend and try this brand new way to play with your LeapPad! Race around the board in this fast-paced, wonderfully wacky game. Be the first to close all five windows and you will become the Mind Wars master and learn important 1st and 2nd grade skills in math, language arts, life science, physical science, and social studies!
Blank Park Zoo Home School Programs
The Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines offers a number of home school programs, including Home School Safari, Zookeeper for a Day, and Home School Day. You can also schedule your own home school class.
Virtual Manipulatives for Interactive Mathematics
This website features online games and interactive activities designed to help children learn and understand mathematical concepts. You can choose any grade level from pre-K to 12, and subjects including numbers and operations, algebra, geometry, measurements, data analysis, and probability. You'll find virtual peg boards, geoboards, fractals, charts, games, and much more.
Old MacDonald's Farm, Bever Park
Old MacDonald’s Farm, Bever Park’s Children’s Zoo, is operated by Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation. Located on the SE side of Cedar Rapids, it is a free public zoo and features farm animals and North American waterfowl. This city landmark is over 100 years old and is enjoyed by people of all ages. Open Daily from late April to early October.
Resources
Smart Mouth
Ages: 8 years and up; For 2 or more players

Smart Mouth is a quick-thinking shout-it-out hilarious word game that helps build vocabulary skills. It includes variations of the rules for category play and for younger players. Players slide the Letter Getter forward and back to get two letters. The first player to shout out a word of five or more letters using those letters wins the round. The game includes tips for teachers. This is a fun game to play with children and adults together.

Happy Phonics
Happy Phonics uses games to teach early reading skills. Simple yet entertaining and educational, these phonics games are printed on colorful, sturdy cardstock ready to cut out. Included is a mother-friendly guidebook which contains details on how to teach phonics and reading, how to pronounce and teach the phonics sounds, how to make your own simple beginning readers, and step-by-step teaching information for each phonics sound. Happy Phonics covers beginning to advanced phonics.
Visual Brainstorms
Children who love word games, logic puzzles, secret codes, mazes, and math mysteries will stretch their mental muscles with Visual Brain Storms. This set of 100 cards, each of which includes a humorous, full-color drawing, promises "the world's best brainteaser questions." The characters in the questions often have funny names (Professor Pith Bugby pops up often) or faces or dilemmas to solve. The answers and explanations are on the back of each card, along with a related bonus question. Many of the puzzles involve math concepts, spatial reasoning, logic, or sequential thinking, but some can be solved with plain common sense. Here's a sample: "Frank and Helen's annual singles elimination tennis tournament has drawn 18 players this year. How many matches must be played before there is a winner for the year?" Answer: "Every match will produce one loser, and every person other than the winner will lose once and only once. Eighteen players makes 17 losers; therefore it will take 17 matches to have a tournament winner." Visual Brain Storms is a humorous, painless way to improve those higher-order thinking skills. Visual Brain Storms: The Smart Thinking Game is for one or more players. --Marcie Bovetz
Great States Board Game
What is the capital of NJ? Where is the Football Hall of Fame? These are just a few of the hundreds of questions players are asked as they adventure around the USA discovering state attractions and landmarks, capitals, state abbreviations, state locations and more. In order to answer the questions on the cards, players must look closely at the colorful USA map game board, becoming familiar with the geography of the country. Players must hurry to find the answers as the mechanical timer ticks. Contents: Game board, 100 Figure cards, 100 Fact cards, 100 Find cards, 1 spinner, 1 mechanical timer, and game rules. Duration of Play: 20 minutes. 2-6 players.
LeapPad Game - Mind Wars Interactive Game
Bring a friend and try this brand new way to play with your LeapPad! Travel around the board in this fast-paced, head-to-head game as you hit your buzzer before your friend can steal your question! Be the first to close all five windows and you will become the Mind Wars master and learn important 3rd-5th grade skills in math, language and fine arts, science, history, and geography!
Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-watching, Shore Walking

With Jim Arnosky as your guide, an ordinary hike becomes an eye-opening experience. He'll help you spot a hawk soaring far overhead and note the details of a dragonfly up close. Study the black-and-white drawings -- based on his own field research -- and you'll discover if those tracks in the brush were made by a deer or a fox.

In his celebrated style, this author, artist, and naturalist enthusiastically shares a wealth of tips. Jim Arnosky wants you to enjoy watching wildlife. He carefully explains how field marks, shapes, and location give clues for identifying certain plants and animals wherever you are. He gives hints for sharpening observational skills. And he encourages you to draw and record birds, insects, shells, animal tracks, and other finds from a busy day's watch.

The Letter Factory Game
Teaches Phonics! The race is on! With two games in one, children play together and learn letter names and sounds with actions and music. Wacky Professor Quigley guides players every step of the way so no reading is required! Games automatically adjust to skill level, to keep children learning at just the right pace! 2 Games in 1: Counting Colors & Letters: Learn letter names and sounds by matching color cards to move around the board. Leaping Letters: Listen to the name or sound and then find the card that matches it! Includes: interactive card reader, game board, 26 letter cards and 4 playing pieces.
LeapPad Game - Mind Wars Jr. Interactive Game
Bring a friend and try this brand new way to play with your LeapPad! Race around the board in this fast-paced, wonderfully wacky game. Be the first to close all five windows and you will become the Mind Wars master and learn important 1st and 2nd grade skills in math, language arts, life science, physical science, and social studies!
Featured Resources

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Children at Play : Using Waldorf Principles to Foster Childhood Development
Children at Play is an insightful exploration into the world of children's play and its tremendous significance in the shaping of each child's humanity. A mother and proponent of Rudolf Steiner's Waldorf system of education, author Heidi Britz-Crecel...
Drawn Into the Heart of Reading
Drawn Into the Heart of Reading was developed for use with students of multiple ages at the same time, perfect for the homeschooling family. It is designed for use as an entire reading program or as a supplement to an existing program for students in...
Discover Your Children's Gifts
This comprehensive work on children's learning styles and creativity expression is a tremendous help to parents as they begin homeschooling. The authors discuss how God gifts children in different ways with different ways of learning and expression. ...
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
This classic homeschool resource is intended for teens who are ready to take charge of their own education. Written by Grace Llewellyn in the '90s, it is still relevant today. Teens will be empowered by claiming their natural ability to teach themsel...
Visual Brainstorms
Children who love word games, logic puzzles, secret codes, mazes, and math mysteries will stretch their mental muscles with Visual Brain Storms. This set of 100 cards, each of which includes a humorous, full-color drawing, promises "the world's best ...