by Kayla Stewart from The Animation Course 


Do you ever ask yourself what is available to me? What options do I have to breathe life into this thing we call school in our home? Is your child doodling while you engage in your read-alouds for English, or for history in your living room on your comfy couch? Is one of your children exclaiming, “I’m bored!”, while you are trying to teach him or her math around your big kitchen table? Is nature, while you are on an adventure creating journals to study science, just not the thing for your middle school or highschool student?


There are so many new and creative things out there for you in this amazing world of homeschooling! What lights up your child? Is it crafts, art, digital drawing, the sky, the stars? You have the ability to really study your child; see what makes them tick! I read a book once called, How Your Child is Smart by Dawn Markova. What a great read and the beginning of my journey to meet each of my 8 kids where they were at in their learning and growth, even in our day to day homeschool.


Can you imagine a homeschool day where you ‌look at your children individually as you unwrap the best journey for them? What might happen if you look at just your middle daughter, and ponder, What makes her come alive?


Of course, our children need to learn math. That was some of the more fun daily moments I had with my now adult children as small people with a hunger to learn. The way one of my children really grabbed the concept of manipulatives, another would need a coloring page. This was thinking outside the box, engaging in becoming a student of my children as they were my students that I had the privilege to teach and nurture in my home on our comfy couch, or around our kitchen table!


Just like we can teach math in different ways, we can also allow our children to color while we read for history or English. We can help our small son, who has a problem sitting still during reading, listen for keywords that he tells me to write, where then he can write a story of his own that mimics the story just read to him. What is one quality that you can see in each of your individual children that would allow them to learn with more engagement to foster real learning? What can you learn about yourself and then change how you are teaching them? How does this work in your homeschool day? Can you do it yourself or do you need to look for resources that help you “be innovative?”


If you are feeling a bit stuck in your homeschooling journey and your child has interests beyond math, reading, or science, find what works for him or her and what lights them up! It can still happen on your comfy couch, or around your inviting kitchen table, or even in nature. You just have to take some time out and observe what would be best for each of your extra special kiddos who you know the best of anyone in the world!! How can you bring their world alive to learning with what you have at your fingertips inside and outside your home?



I am a mom of 8 adult children, all of which we homeschooled in many different ways, each year looking a little different with adopted children joining our home, to moving across states, to a house fire that brought some unique challenges. My very supportive and involved husband was an animator working in film for most of our homeschooling journey, so he was very busy with work. We had an unexpected privilege to begin working together in 2015 on our own venture, once our children were nearing the end of homeschooling. That birthed The Animation Course, which we built to intersect with other families’ homeschooling journeys.




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By the SPED Homeschool Team


Teaching Social Skills and Character Training While Out-N-About

“With four boys born in under six years, it was easiest to do school at home, so I didn’t have to corral them during lessons. We did stuff outdoors, were part of a co-op, took classes through a local homeschool group where I taught and went on a lot of field trips. When out of the house, we were always learning, but rarely “did school” during those times. When we were out, my time was better spent on things like teaching my boys that it is not appropriate for the first person in line to decide he is the engine of a runaway freight train and take the entire line careening through a building. Once I had my special needs child, a lot of our outside activities were replaced with appointments and therapy for a time. Then it became obvious that having struggling learners and children with special needs meant participating in co-ops and such were a no go. We focused on the “home” in homeschool and turned to pursuing individual passions.”

Stephanie Buckwalter


Using Carschooling, Games, and Therapy While Out-N-About

“For a couple of years, we carschooled and schooled on the go while waiting for multiple doctors appointments. We used some physical curriculum, but also educational games and videos. School now includes therapy (OT, PT and Speech), field trips to the library, grocery store, park, and the homes of other family members. On Wednesdays, we do music (I drive multiple trips), so my kids do school with cousins, joining in with whatever they are working on along with music lessons. Different days bring different approaches, but the bottom line is they are still learning and growing, sometimes when we think we aren’t doing enough.” 

Amy Vickrey


Other Ideas for Where You Can Homeschool Out-N-About

List provided by Dawn Spence:

  • At the pool
  • At friends’ homes
  • Library 
  • Coffee house 
  • Zoo 
  • Museums 
  • Church 
  • On vacation
  • At the Great Wolf Lodge
  • Doctor offices
  • Hospitals 
  • Backyard 
  • Park
  • Pool 
  • At hotels
  • Restaurants 
  • Grandma’s house 
  • At the movies 


List provided by Peggy Ployhar:

  • Campgrounds
  • Historical sites
  • Grocery store
  • Garden
  • Beach
  • On a cruise
  • While living in our RV
  • On a farm
  • While hiking
  • Martial arts studio
  • Pottery studio
  • Dance studio
  • On our sailboat
  • In a tree
  • Hardware store
  • Antique store
  • Bookstores


We hope these quotes and ideas from our team have inspired your family to learn and homeschool out-n-about this summer and into your next homeschooling year.




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By Teresa Jones from BiblioPlan


“Would you like to learn to write with a feather?” The park guide asked, while handing my daughter a quill and a little jar of ink. She curiously accepted the feather and scratched out her name on a weathered-looking piece of parchment. This was one of the first beautiful spring days and we were fortunate enough to be attending a homeschool program at a historical fort. But I kept glancing at the time and asking myself a crucial question: Could we race home soon enough to get a full day of school work done so we wouldn’t fall behind?


I was making a critical mistake when it comes to homeschooling and I don’t want you to do the same.


How to make the most of your field trip:

  1.  Plan ahead. If you’re going to an art museum to see the newest exhibit, take a few minutes to learn about the artist. Heading to a Civil War battlefield? Learn why this battle was important in the war. Your children don’t need to memorize every detail. They don’t need to be studying the topic as part of their normal schoolwork. They will learn while on the field trip, but it would be helpful for them to have a framework of the significance of the location.
  2. What can we ask? When planning field trips when my children were younger, I’d ask this simple question on the drive there. “What questions can we ask while we are on our field trip?” This challenged my kids to think about what they knew and what they wanted to know. In addition, it also prepared them up for some interaction while on the field trip. We’d decide what were good questions and then make sure we learned the answers while on the field trip.  
  3. Ask for accommodations if necessary. If you have any special concerns, don’t worry about contacting the place of your field trip ahead of time. Remember, they want you to have a great experience and will be glad to help you with any arrangements to make that happen. For years, I had wanted to take my children to a Civil War encampment and battle reenactment, but I knew my daughters would hate the loud blasts and burnt smell that come from the paper cartridges during the battle reenactment. So year after year, I’d pass on the event. Finally, one year, I asked the organizers if there was a way for us to experience the civil war encampment, but not the loud and smelly blasts. Their solution was simple: come the day before when everyone is setting up their camps. It was perfect! We walked through the encampment and talked to the men and women as they set up. They were happy to explain what they were doing and answer all of our questions. It’s always great to learn from people who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a subject. Their lively interest is contagious!
  4. For all the special accommodations and prep work, make sure you find a balance. Don’t become that pushy parent who insists their child “demonstrate” their knowledge on the field trip. Don’t force your child to shoot their arm up at every question asked. Don’t expect them to thoughtfully consider every piece of artwork. Don’t use the field trip as a chance for them to show off their knowledge to others.
  5. And finally my last tip, the advice I wished I had followed at that historical fort when my daughter was writing with a quill: relax and enjoy it! I was so worried about “getting our school work done” that I forgot the reason we were at that fort in the first place, to learn and to have a great time doing it! Everyone will have fun and learn even more if you’re not stressed about hurrying home to get some schoolwork done! The field trip IS your school work for the day! Enjoy the break from the usual routine.


As I send my oldest off to college this fall, I realize the number of field trips in my future are dwindling. The days spent wandering through art museums or riding a wagon through an apple orchard are coming to a close. Those field trip memories are some of the highlights of our homeschool days. 


Teresa Jones has been homeschooling for nearly 10 years. Her oldest daughter will be a college freshman in the fall and her younger daughter will be a high school sophomore. She represents BiblioPlan at homeschool conventions and online. She also teaches one of BiblioPlan’s online history classes. Her family’s favorite field trip was the Homeschool Day at Fort Ticonderoga.




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by Steven Policastro from the International Association for Creation


There are many great ways to engage in interactive learning. One that is readily accessible is using the world-class museums, zoos, and aquariums in most major cities around the world. Taking time to engage and learn through interactive and immersive contexts is critical in helping today’s youth experience the world. 


When engaging in interactive learning opportunities through, what the author calls the Immersive Learning Method, there are numerous considerations to take into account. You will want to ensure that you have the proper checklist to prepare for going to the museum. With all the things happening day-to-day, it can be easy to forget about packing a lunch, checking to see accessibility options at the museum, or bringing a notebook and pencil, etc. Below, you will find the Museum Accessibility Checklist to help you plan and prepare.


Often, a checklist is simply a last-minute tool to ensure you have prepared adequately for the adventure ahead. Before making those last-minute checks, you must plan accordingly, whether thinking forward about parking, tours, or other special considerations. The Museum Accessibility Guide is a bonus to help make museums accessible for children with special educational and accessibility needs.


Now that you know the tools you need to engage effectively with your children at the museum through interactive learning, please continue reading to learn about the Immersive Learning Method and how to use it most effectively.


To employ the Immersive Learning Method for your family or group, you will want to take your time going through each exhibit you visit. To take full advantage of this learning method, you will want to ensure that you take adequate time to observe each display. For example, we often find ourselves going through museums quickly due to the excitement of seeing which exhibits are up ahead. However, it is best to refrain from doing so and take time to look at each detail of the exhibition.


The reason for practicing the Immersive Learning Method is that it allows us to appreciate the details and intricacies of each exhibit display. It also allows our children to practice observation and critical thinking skills. By observing an art piece at a museum for one minute, you might have a general overview of the artifact. Still, by observing it for ten minutes or twenty minutes, you will gain a greater appreciation for the piece and a deeper understanding of what the exhibit is depicting, thus providing for a deeper conversation with your family or group.


As you prepare for your tour, use the checklist and guide below while also integrating the Immersive Learning Method to help make your day of adventure complete.


In today’s world of social media and screen-based learning, it is vital to ensure that you and your children are engaging in interactive learning. We know the One who created the world, God Almighty. He has fashioned every image-bearer with the innate ability to have awe and wonder as we participate in His world.


In partnership with IAC, SPED Homeschool welcomes you to download the Museum Accessibility Checklist and the Museum Accessibility Guide to help you get the most out of your museum experience.


Steven Policastro is the Founder and Director at the International Association for Creation.




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by Zack Edwards from Historical Conquest


Kids these days are bombarded with flashy pictures, jaw-dropping special effects, and other influences that help excite their minds and keep their attention; then, they are asked to sit in a boring classroom or look at a book and read something that they are not that interested in. It is truly a struggle to keep youths interested in doing schoolwork, with so many other opportunities around them. Why not help them with the best of both worlds?!


Hello, my name is Zack Edwards, and when I left high school, I hated many of my classes because of how they were taught. Educational materials could not hold my interest, this was besides my internal struggles. When I went to college, my professor asked me to write a one-page essay on a product that would change my world. Well, I loved to play games, and I didn’t like school, at least back in K-12. I thought, why not put the two together, to create educational games that excite the mind and eyes. That one assignment has become a successful business. Assisting students around the world in learning history, one of the hardest subjects to keep kids interested in, and we do it through games. 


A History Lessons in Educational Gaming

In the past the problem with games, in some people’s minds, was that they were just for recreation. However, if you talk to students 95% of them love playing games.  If they had a choice between games or school, the K-9th grade students would most likely choose playing games. Some would say school is “boring”, some would say, “it’s not relevant”, and others would say they are just “not interested in it.” How can we make education more enjoyable? By adding a little more gaming into their education. 

Now there are many different ideas when it comes to educational gaming. You have the Game Schoolers, who promote that most or all of their education comes from playing games. On the other side you have parents that keep their kids away from games, because they are unproductive. I’d like to share with you the great middle ground where everyone wins, and I will also show you how to pick the best games for your children.

In a study back in the 1960s, the National Training Laboratory tested retention rates when it comes to activities in the classroom, and in daily lives. They found that, for the average learner, if the student reads information from a book they will retain 10-20% of what is read. If they watch videos, they will retain 30%. If they do activities or play games using the learning outcomes of Analyze, Define, Create, and Evaluate, they will keep up to 90% of the information they are learning. Those are astonishing numbers. Let’s investigate these four outcomes.


Analyze is the method of examining or learning about the topic, in detail. So, besides games, you need time to learn what you will do in the game; this is an effective precursor to trying to learn from any game.

Define is the method in which you use what you have learned in a way that allows you to show you actually understood the information. This allows us, as the teachers, to learn if the student has retained the information given to them. If they don’t understand it correctly, it will do no good to allow them to move forward.

Create is a state of using what you have learned in a relevant manner, to use motor skills to produce a type of motor memory in what you are learning. So, they need to use that information right away, in a topic such as history. How can they use this information? By teaching it to others, writing a story about it, or even playing a game that uses that information to build that type of motor memory. 


Benefits of Educational Gaming

The greatest benefit of Educational Gaming is that the more times they play the game, the higher the likelihood is that they will remember the lessons learned. In learning history, we believe in the Law of Witnesses, meaning the more time you hear someone’s name, the more likely you are to remember it. Take history, for instance. If the player hears a name once, the information will go in one ear and out the other. There is very little retention created. However, if you play a game once, and then read about the person later, they will remember that person. The information learned about them becomes easier to retain after the second, third, or fourth time they hear it. They are creating a motor memory within their mind. Play a game 100 times, and hear that information in small bites and your brain is more willing to see the importance of that information, and will then store it where it is easily accessible. In addition, when a student can attach emotion to the information, they are more likely to retain it. Whether it’s the frustration or enjoyment of playing a game, that emotion will allow the student to retain that information easier, especially the enjoyment of playing a game they like.

Evaluation and reflecting on what you learned and or created is also essential. You must help the student reflect on what they learned or could accomplish. In traditional education, they can fill out a survey or journal entry on what they learned, while in games, you can talk about how they liked it and what they learned afterwards. In video games, they can reflect on what is called “leaderboards,” in the gaming industry. These are boards showing how you rank among others, but can also reflect some of the things they could have learned while playing the game. These are highly effective in evaluating what you learned and enticing you to try again, which continues building more motor memory.


How to Find Games that are Right for Your Student

Educational Gaming needs to be based on relevance, your child’s interests, and abilities. Try looking at games that meet these criteria, based on your experience with your student.

  1. Interests – Are your students interested in games? Would they be in the 95% of students that like games, any type of game? If they are, what games would they like? Are they more likely to play a physical game, or a video game? Do they like more physical challenges, 3rd person interaction with the program, or more strategic interactions, using boards or cards?

Look for games that appeal to them on a personal level. Using a game they aren’t interested in would only backfire, because they could feel resentment to use a program they have no interest in.

  1. Relevance–Just picking up any game and using it is not an effective way to succeed in education. There are games for recreation and there are those that are made for learning, and you can use both. One shouldn’t expect all games to fill in educational gaps, or help with creating motor memory in a specific topic. When evaluating a game, investigate how they will learn from the information they are gleaning from the game. Some are more effective than others.Look for games that are educational, but not too educational. Remember that when youth play games, they normally play for entertainment. Use games that give them small bites, especially for those in SPED. Learning in small chunks, through gaming, will make a world of difference for your student.
  2. Eye Catching–While your student may like games, there are those that are not the best when catching their interest and attention. Do your students like the flashy or the simple? Don’t buy a 6th grader a game that looks like it’s perfect for a kindergartener. The best way to find something they would like is to search out games that catch your eyes, as their parents or teacher. Remember that special effects these days are not very different for adults or kids. The things that catch your eye will also catch their eye. They may even need a little more – if you don’t like how a game looks, they will probably not as well. 
  3. Needs–Especially in SPED, this is sometimes the most important factor. What do your students need for learning? For example, those that are dyslexic have a hard time reading, so giving them a rules manual or a book is not a good way to keep their attention, and doesn’t give them the tools to succeed. The best way to promote learning for someone with dyslexia, and other special needs, is to focus on small amounts of information and catching their interest. When someone with dyslexia is truly interested, that is when they will act on their own, and begin doing the work on their own. Addressing the needs of your students’ is the most important, especially with Educational Gaming. There are games out there that would be harder for some students, and there are games designed to appeal to everyone.


In closing, using games in learning, in this day and age, is a very effective way to grab your students’ interest, help them grow their excitement for learning, and increase their retention in what they are learning. While some games look like they are educational, there are other games that disguise education in the gameplay, allowing the student to be excited about what they are doing, while actually learning the entire time.


What to Look forward to in the Future 

Historical Conquest is teaming up with other curriculum developers and game designers to create a video game system that will help students have a large range of games that are relevant to specific subjects,  teach students different subjects without being too educational, and allow students to enjoy what they are learning. To begin this system, we are performing our analysis using the subject of history, (our strength), to test its effectiveness. This first portion of our system can be found at, which allows students to learn using a plethora of methodologies that they enjoy, including reading, videos, activities, audio, and now video games. While these games are currently digital, and some parents want their kids to get off their screens, all these games will be made available in physical form, as well. So stay tuned, keep watching, and please sign up to support this effort, by using the systems that we have so far, as we create a structure that will help students with all needs and interests on their learning adventure.




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