Free notebooking pages

I like to use notebooking pages with Otter. We often use them for history or science to summarize the things he’s learning. At the end of the year we have a beautiful portfolio that’s fun to look back on!
Here is a free package of notebooking pages for Ancient Egypt and Africa that are available this week from Currclick. Click on the image to go to the download. This download is available for a limited time only so grab yours while you can!

Ancient Egypt Notebooking Pages

Free 30-Day Trial for “Gizmos”


courtesy of ExploreLearning Gizmos™ has a free 30-day trial where you can have full access to their entire library of 450 Gizmos. The Gizmos are interactive math and science simulations that really help make learning concepts clear and easier to understand. ExploreLearning has a variety of Gizmos for grades 3-12 that cover topics like:

  • Number and Operations
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Probability
  • Precalculus
  • Earth and Space Science
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Physical Science
  • Life Science

Once you choose a grade range and category, you get to choose specific Gizmos to play with like some of these:


courtesy of ExploreLearning Gizmos™

When you choose the Gizmo you want you then have the option of choosing some of the available printables to use with it like a student exploration sheet, teacher’s guide, vocabulary sheet, assessment questions, etc. (each Gizmo will not necessarily have every option available). In the screenshot below you can see that this Gizmo on pollination has a printable student exploration sheet as well as a vocabulary sheet available. Available printables are highlighted in blue.


courtesy of ExploreLearning Gizmos™

The student exploration sheets are a terrific help. This particular one is 5 pages long with various questions, activities and specific directions to help your student get the most out of the Gizmo. They are totally optional though. Sometimes your student may just want to plunge into the Gizmo and “play”. Other times he may need more assistance or you may want him to get a bit extra out of the lesson. The student exploration sheets offer both. They also look good in a notebook and/or give mom some tangible evidence of the kiddo having done some actual work and gained some understanding. wink


courtesy of ExploreLearning Gizmos™

The Gizmos themselves are interactive. In this demonstration of cross pollination I’m moving some pollen grains from one flower to another. The activity continues with animation and more opportunities for interaction.


courtesy of ExploreLearning Gizmos™

I’ve used Gizmos in the past with Otter and found that they are excellent in making various concepts clear and easy to understand. Some of my favorite Gizmos are in the math section. Gizmos take abstract concepts and help make them concrete – something your student can “touch” and manipulate. I’ve found them to be a big help in supplementing Otter’s middle school math lessons.

Look at this Gizmo where you get to learn about square roots:

Gizmo on square roots

courtesy of ExploreLearning Gizmos™

Suddenly square roots aren’t just some abstract concept! You can SEE what a square root is instead of having it be scary, weird looking math term.

Anyway, I thought I’d pass on that ExploreLearning has a free trial. I know a lot of you are still ironing out curriculum choices for next fall and perhaps this might help a few looking for a boost in science and math. It also would make a great resource for some “summer learning fun”.

Click here to visit ExploreLearning’s website ( You can also contact them toll-free at 1-866-882-4141. If you decide to order a subscription, be sure to ask them about a home account.

Free Summer Reading Programs

Every summer, Otter participates in several free reading programs. It’s a nice opportunity to win some free books (or prizes), and I’m using it this year as a motivator to get him to read chapter books. Here are some we are looking into this year:

Don’t forget to also check out Pizza Hut’s Book-It program that starts up this fall! Registration is now open with a deadline of June 30th.

Hot Potatoes Quiz Maker

I recently came across a freeware program you can use to create custom quizzes and tests in a variety of formats: Hot Potatoes.

Here’s an example quiz I whipped up for Otter in order to test the program out: Otter’s chemistry quiz. (BTW, I noticed I made a few mistakes, but I’m too lazy to go back and fix them since this was just a “test”). He was impressed, lol. “You made that for me??” It worked out great because I totally customized it to fit the different books and materials we’ve been using in chemistry.
You have all sorts of options (which I haven’t fully explored) and can even add in pictures, flash and videos. The quiz type options are:

  • Create a fill-in-the-blank exercise
  • Create a matching exercise
  • Create a jumbled sentence exercise
  • Create a multiple-choice or short answer quiz
  • Create a crossword puzzle

I think it would be a great program to spread in the homeschool community. Think of all the goodies you all can come up with and share!

Free Linear Algebra Textbook

Linear AlgebraI hardly ever blog about Bear. He’s such a big kid that there aren’t a lot of projects to take pictures of. However, I thought I’d share a gem that I found recently, in case it helps anyone else.

Bear “ran out” of homeschool math courses last year when he completed Calculus. While I waited for Life of Fred’s Linear Algebra book to become available, he messed around with various Art of Problem Solving books.

I was finally about to order Life of Fred, when I came across a textbook written by Dr. Jim Hefferon, a Professor of Mathematics at Saint Michael’s College. Not only can you download the entire text for FREE, but it comes with answers to the exercises. I also found some linear algebra video lectures from MIT. I’m really thankful that people share their hard work with others online. It’s such a blessing to our family.


Evan Moor has some more freebies to download!

Literature Pocket: The Elves and the Shoemaker from Literature Pockets, Folktales & Fairy Tales

Literature Pocket: Owl Moon from Literature Pockets, Caldecott Winners

If you like freebies, you should check out some of the treasures over at the Google book search. Here are a few I’ve discovered:

History Pocket Freebies

Here are some History Pocket freebies you can download from Evan-Moor!

History Pockets, Grades 1-3 Ancient Civilizations: “China

History Pockets, Grades 1-3 “Building a Village” from Life in Plymouth Colony

I like downloading freebies and then saving them in organized files on my hard drive. Even if we aren’t studying something now, there are often things we get to in the future. Having them downloaded and ready-to go is especially helpful when things disappear from online (as they often seem to do).