Free summer subscriptions for homeschoolers!

I love things that are FREE, lol…so, I had to pass on this info! All of the links below are for free stuff you can sign up for through the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. There is no cost to join the Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. That’s free too!

If you were wondering what your kids will do over the summer, some of the subscriptions below are free through August! There’s plenty to keep your kiddos busy:

Discovery Education Streaming Plus – Try it FREE through August 31st

We’ve used Discovery Streaming before and it’s a great resource for TONS of videos. Not only does it have many Discovery Channel videos for free, it also has PBS shows, BBC videos, and lots more. – Try it FREE for the Summer has video tutorials, practice exercises, tests and lots more. There are a lot of good reviews for this site.

myON Literacy Program – Try it FREE for the Summer

Get access to 9,200 e-books for your kids to read tailored to their reading level, age, and interests! There is a large assortment of books, including graphic novels of Shakespeare stories, etc.

Mark Kistler’s Virtual Classroom – Try it FREE for the Summer

My kids LOVED Mark’s drawing lessons in book form. Now he has online lessons in a virtual classroom.

Uzinggo Math & Science Supplement – Try it FREE for the Summer

Uzinggo has interactive lessons and accompanying worksheets on a variety of math and science topics through high school levels.

eMedia Music Academy – Try it FREE through July 31st

This is for access to several software downloads to learn piano and other instruments.

Always Icecream and Clever Dragons – Try it FREE through August 15th

Practice a variety of subjects like math, language arts, geography, Latin, Greek, keyboarding skills, science, foreign language and more!

Don’t forget to also check out your local library. Many libraries have free summer reading programs with prizes you can win!

Free 20 page 8×8 Shutterfly Book

I just got a coupon via email that says I can refer 5 friends to Shutterfly. Each friend will get a FREE 20 page 8×8 book. Our family LOVES Shutterfly scrapbooks. They are super easy to make, right in your browser.

If you love Guest Hollow and have never opened a Shutterfly account before (existing customers don’t get the freebie), send an email to before June 30th and I’ll refer you. 🙂 I can only refer 5 people, so the first 5 to email me get the free book.

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.


Otter recently finished his First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind, Level 4 workbook and…they don’t make any more levels for it yet. GASP. That means I had to find something else to use. I thought I was going to use Shurley English, as we’ve done in the past. But, ugh…we’re both tired of Shurley English. It works great, but I think we both want something a bit different. I finally made my choices. We are now using:

  • KISS Grammar – I love KISS Grammar. You learn to analyze sentences using classic literature. Here’s a great review that goes over the basics. Otter likes it too (we’re working through the 1st workbook). The lessons are short, enjoyable and FREE. Don’t be scared off by the website. There is a LOT of info there, but you can pretty much pick up and go if you download one of the workbooks.
  • Intermediate Language Lessons – This book was published in 1914 and was designed for 4th through 6th graders. I downloaded a free PDF from Google and am printing off the lessons as we go through them. It has picture studies, narration, poetry, dictation, outlining, composition, memorization, grammar and more presented in a gentle, engaging format. I am VERY pleased with it.

I feels great to find things that work for us that don’t cost anything! Oh! Oh! I also found this today (for FREEEEEE):

A Child’s History of Art by V.M. Hillyer

I’m looking forward to doing some art studies using it. Happy downloading!