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Getting Excited About Thematic Unit Studies  

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Getting Started Homeschool Guide

Learning How to Homeschool is something you can do!

We’re so excited you’ve chosen to homeschool. And we’re here to make sure you have everything you need to accomplish that goal. We’ve tried to summarize the homeschool journey into six simple steps. In each step, we’ll give you the information and tools that will help you accomplish that step and move on! Congratulations!

Start With 6 Steps to
Homeschool Success

How to Homeschool Step 1:

Homeschooling Requirements by State

One of the first things every new homeschooling parent needs to do is to understand and fulfill their state’s homeschooling requirements. These homeschool laws are often a few simple tasks that you complete at the outset of your homeschool experience. The team at has created a quick and handy reference of all 50 state Department of Education pages that discuss state homeschooling requirements. If a state did not have its own DOE website then we have linked to the National guidelines listing state homeschool regulations.

We would suggest, however, avoiding contacting your local school district beyond what is necessary. As to be expected, their job is to keep students in public schools, and they may not provide the information you need for homeschooling. Finally, your state may require homeschooling parents to have a high school diploma or college degree, so make sure to be familiar with all of your state homeschooling regulations.

Veteran Homeschooler Tip: Some local districts may request more information from homeschooling families than their state requires. Being aware of your rights and your state homeschooling laws can keep you from extra effort. 

State Homeschool Laws

How to Homeschool Step 2:

Discover Your “HOW”

First you need to know your “why!” One of the inital things that I do each year is to write out “why” I am planning to homeschool that year. I know, it sounds crazy, but hang on.

Veteran Tip: I write out my “WHY” with all the passion and determination that I have at the beginning, so that later in the year when the bad day(s) come I can pull that “golden nugget” out and let my own words refresh and restore my vision. 

Once I have my “why” nailed down I move on to “how” I will accomplish that. Your “how” is how you will teach your children in your homeschool. Homeschoolers often call this your “homeschool method” or a “homeschool style.” Although every homeschool is unique, certain homeschooling styles and approaches have become very popular. 

Every family is unique, so find the type of homeschooling that works best for you and your children. Not sure how to find out your unique homeschooling method? Take this easy homeschool-style quiz to get an idea of what homeschool method works for you. Remember, if you take the types of homeschooling quiz a few times and get different answers, you may be an eclectic homeschooler! 

Make Accommodations for Working While Homeschooling

If you are a single working parent, or both parents work full-time, your homeschool method may need to be custom-tailored to your family dynamic. However, it is possible, so don’t feel discouraged. Homeschooling while working takes creativity and juggling, but you can still homeschool with multiple grade levels. Remember, it’s always a good idea to outsource (let others help you teach) or find a curriculum that is easy on the parents.

Make Accommodations for Homeschooling
a Child With Special Needs

If you have a child with special needs, “how” you homeschool is going to look different for your family. However, homeschooling is an excellent option for children with special needs. Certain states extend special needs help to homeschooling families, so be sure to check with your state’s Department of Education parameters when looking into how to homeschool. Without state help, though, there are other great resources for special needs families. I encourage you to connect with local homeschool support groups, related Facebook groups, and your local library for resources. Read more about homeschooling a special needs child here.

Take the Methods Quiz or read more about Popular Homeschool Methods

How to Homeschool Step 3:

Know Your Child

Your child is absolutely unique and amazing. Finding out how your child learns and what motivates them is key to choosing a curriculum that your family will enjoy this year! Taking both your homeschool teaching method and your child’s learning preferences into account is an important part of creating a solid homeschool foundation.

Veteran Tip: When I choose my curriculum I keep in mind my child’s learning preferences. I don’t always cater to them completely, but I do try to incorporate the ways of learning that they enjoy!

You’ll also want to figure out what motivates your student. Discover everything you can about how they learn. Some children enjoy a more hands-on approach to learning.  While others really love to watch and listen. Take the learning preferences quiz to help you figure out where your child’s learning preferences lie!

Take the Preferences Quiz or discover more about  Learning Preferences

 How to Homeschool Step 4:

Finding Your Homeschool Curriculum

Finding a homeschool curriculum that fits your family and lifestyle is so important! One of the best ways to get insight on homeschooling and homeschool curriculum is to test drive or use free homeschool curriculum trials. Also attending a homeschool convention id useful so you can “handle” the curriculum you’re thinking about, and find homeschool curriculum “reviews” to hear how other homeschoolers found that product performs.

Veteran Tip: Get information from other homeschoolers, conventions, and aligning your curriculum to your teaching style and your student’s learning preferences. You’ll find curriculum that matches your personlity, your student’s needs, and your family life style is often the best curriculum for you!
Attending Homeschool Conventions

Try to participate in a homeschool convention! Take a look at our suggestions for preparing. A convention is a great place to get your hands on the curriculum before buying and they offer great discounts.

Settle on Your Curriculum!

Finding local support and attending a homeschool virtual convention are great first steps in finding your best-fit homeschool curriculum but at the end of the day… you have to make that decision.  This is one of the most difficult steps in getting started. But if you’ve come this far you can do it. Listen to how to select a homeschool curriculum and use our handy Curriculum Finder Tool!

Take the Curriculum Quiz or use our Curriculum Finder today!

How to Homeschool Step 5:

Planning and Keeping Records

Planning Your Homeschool Year

This is essential! I’ve gone from overplanning to under planning and can tell you that a simple solid homeschool plan is a necessity. But, a plan that includes goals is vital for creating an amazing homeschool year. In fact, I don’t plan an entire year at once. I go slow because I don’t have an eraser big enough to fix what would happen!  

how to homeschool


Veteran Tip: To plan my homeschool, I create a simple framework at the beginning of the year, and then build on it as the year progresses

I use our Free Homeschool Sanity Saver Planner to plan my year. I get it printed (because the colors are beautiful).  Then I put it in a three-ring binder so that I can easily change the order or add a bulk amount of certain pages. In fact, I often use several of the pages during the week, so I print numerous copies of those and the binder makes organization a breeze. Get the details of how I make my yearly plan as well as a video about homeschooling planning by clicking below. Also, find what you need to set up your school room with this one-click Amazon list.

Keeping Good Homeschool Records

Keeping comprehensive homeschool records is one of the areas that so many parents worry about. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you take small steps consistently you’ll build good homeschool records over time. Here are some of the things I suggest using in your homeschool record-keeping.

  • Keep a grade book.  This can be as simple as a notebook, a spreadsheet, or even a printable paper grade book. This may seem like it belongs in a school setting but you can easily do this at home. You’ll find a free one below!

  • Create report cards. These come in handy to help your children see their progress. They also can be used for discounts and rewards at restaurants and even theme parks. Learn how to make your own homeschool report card here.

  • Develop transcripts for your high schoolers. Definitely don’t wait till the last minute to create a transcript. Also, be sure to include course descriptions on your transcript since most colleges will want to know.

Grab Your Planner or get organized with Digital Record Keeping Kit today 

How to Homeschool Step 6:

Find Your Homeschool Community

Connecting with other homeschoolers in your area is important to help you and your family get started! There are many ways to find local homeschool groups. Some are simply support groups.  Some are co-ops that help you carry the teaching load by sharing classes.  And then there are even homeschool micro-schools.

Sometimes you’ll find support groups that are centered around the homeschool curriculum that you choose. While other support groups may be connected through their faith or even sports activities. Local homeschool support groups during the school year can provide invaluable homeschool help through suggestions, information, and resources. These homeschool families already know how to navigate the state requirements and homeschool curriculum and can easily share what works! But most importantly fellow homeschoolers can give you insight into the homeschool curriculum and programs with which they’ve had first-hand experience.

Find Local Homeschooling Groups or download our  Free How to Homeschool Book  just for you!

how to homeschool in 6 easy steps

Additional Articles and Downloads for Getting Started

Q&A About Homeschooling with Answers From Our Experienced Parents

Even More Q&A Addressing Questions

Chose a topic from or follow our assembled units for you theme calendar!

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The nice part of homeschooling is that you are in charge. You can use a variety of curriculums to supply your unit studies. You don't have to use just Montessori or Nature lesson plans. In fact, I think it's a good idea to mix it up. Expose them to several ways of learning or curriculum. 

A unit study is just that. Units can be assembled with several different sources. If you do not like to assemble the thematic units, there are a ton of pre-planned units available online. 


Unit studies are usually short topical modules that allow your students to take their time with interesting concepts or subjects, follow their passions, or explore deeper than textbooks allow.  They allow homeschool moms to group multiple ages together, combine multiple subjects, and take off the pressure of extensive prep or teacher manual integration.

Unit studies are great because they are not expected to last a whole year like, say 5th grade math or language arts.

You might study birds for 6 weeks.  Or the Gold Rush for 2 weeks. Maybe it’s the literature of Poe for the fall and classical composers for the spring. Or maybe you start and finish a shorter unit study all within the same week.  Do what works for you.

The flexibility inherent in these thematic units is a perfect fit for many homeschool styles and philosophies. When burnout creeps into your homeschool, unit studies are a valid way to keep learning without all the stress.

Your kids will benefit from unit studies because you can incorporate the many different learning styles into one study.  You can certainly read many interesting books about your topic, but include the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners into the unit by giving them tasks that allow them to blossom in their strengths.

Unit studies are a very effective way to teach almost every subject from K-8. You will probably want a core math and language arts curriculum for each child on their level. But other than that, you can usually group everyone together for everything else. This is the beauty of family-style learning! It really does take the pressure off of you as the homeschool mom. So, instead of juggling half-a-dozen subjects for each child, you can really enjoy the learning process instead. 

Early Childhood
Play &Learn 

Introduction to Early Childhood Educator Resources

Education is an essential foundation for a child's academic and personal growth. Educators who work with require various resources to ensure that they can provide a comprehensive learning experience.

Planning and Organizing Preschool Lessons
Circle Time and Calendar Time
Preschool Learning Centers
Assessments and Portfolios
Classroom Management
Preschool Student Recognition
Parent Communication
Storing and Organizing Thematic Materials

Planning and Organizing Preschool Lessons

Creating engaging and educational preschool lessons can be both exciting and challenging.  Lesson plans are an invaluable resource for preschool educators. Lesson plans provide a structured outline of the topics that will be covered and the activities that will be conducted. They also help educators to ensure that they are meeting the learning objectives and standards required by their institution. Lesson plans can be found online or created individually by the educator.  Check out our free lesson planning pages where you can find engaging preschool activity ideas sorted by learning domain. Learn more about the importance of planning your lessons, and how to set up your theme calendar for the year.  Use a Preschool Lesson Planning Template to organize your lessons.

A preschool lesson planning template is a tool that can help teachers create educational activities for their students. It contains a list of activities and materials that can be used to create an effective learning environment for children. The template can be used to plan the classroom layout, the order of activities, and the objectives for the lesson. By using a template, teachers can ensure that their lesson plans are organized, aligned with learning outcomes, and that they are providing the best possible learning experience for their students.

Preschool Circle Time and Calendar Time

Circle time and calendar time provide many opportunities for children to practice important social skills, such as sharing and listening. Circle time is an engaging way for preschoolers to learn, through stories, Finger plays, songs, rhymes , and other activities. It is also a great way to foster a sense of community in the classroom, as it gives children a chance to bond with their peers and talk about their day. During circle time, teachers might lead the class in singing songs, telling stories, or playing games. It also provides a chance for children to practice their listening skills, as they need to stay focused and attentive while the teacher is speaking.

Calendar time is another important part of the preschool classroom. During calendar time, teachers might have the children count the days of the week, or talk about different holidays or birthdays that are coming up. Through this activity, children learn to recognize numbers and shapes, practice counting and pattern recognition, begin to understand the passing of time, and practice the names of the days of the week, and months of the year. A preschool focus wall can also be used at circle time. It can be a bulletin board, or a physical wall in a preschool classroom that helps to focus the students on the learning objectives and activities that are taking place in the classroom. The wall is often decorated with visuals such as posters, artwork, and other items that relate to the theme of the lesson or activity. It is a great way to keep the students engaged and excited about learning. The focus wall can also include information about upcoming events or activities and can serve as a reference point for the students. It is an invaluable tool in a preschool classroom and helps to keep the learning environment focused and organized.

Learning Centers

Learning centers are areas of the classroom that are dedicated to exploring a variety of topics and activities. These areas can be organized around themes related to different aspects of early childhood development, such as literacy, math, science, art, music, and physical activity. Learning centers provide children with opportunities to interact with materials and practice skills in a fun and engaging way. They also allow teachers to observe and assess the progress of individual children, and to facilitate learning through small group activities. Learning centers are a great way to encourage children to explore, discover, and use their imaginations in a safe and supportive environment. 

Assessments & Portfolios

Preschool assessments and portfolios are invaluable tools for teachers, parents, and administrators to monitor a child’s academic and social development. Assessments measure a child’s growth and allow teachers to adjust instruction to meet the needs of each student. Portfolios are collections of student work that can be used to track progress and highlight achievements.

The first step in creating a preschool assessment is to determine the purpose and goals of the assessment. This will help teachers decide which skills to measure and how to measure them. Common areas of assessment include phonemic awareness, phonics, print awareness, oral language, mathematical skills, and social-emotional development.

Once the purpose and goals of the assessment have been established, teachers can create an appropriate assessment tool (

Download our assessment binder for free

). This could be a paper-and-pencil test, an observation checklist, or a rating scale. Teachers should ensure that the assessment tool is age-appropriate and that it measures the skills that are relevant to the child’s current level of development.

Portfolios are collections of student work that provide a snapshot of the student’s development over time. They can include artwork, writing samples, and other evidence of learning. Portfolios can be used to track progress and highlight achievements. They can also be used to create individualized learning plans that are tailored to each student’s specific needs.

Early Childhood assessments and portfolios are essential tools for teachers, parents, and administrators. Assessments provide data that can be used to inform instruction and monitor academic growth. Portfolios provide evidence of a student’s development and can be used to create individualized learning plans. When used together, assessments and portfolios can provide a comprehensive picture of a child’s academic and social development.

Classroom Management

Class management is important for creating a safe, nurturing environment for children to learn and grow. The first step to successful classroom management is to establish clear expectations, rules, and consequences. It is important to be consistent with expectations and consequences. An effective way to communicate expectations is to post rules in the classroom and discuss them with the children regularly. 

Classroom Routines are very important. Using a visual schedule can help your students anticipate what is coming up next, and make transitions much smoother.

Job charts are helpful for preschool classrooms. Job charts help young children understand the importance of responsibility. Posting job charts in the classroom can help children learn to help others, follow instructions, and have a sense of ownership in the classroom.

Calm down spaces, and calming activities are also beneficial in classrooms. These spaces are important for helping children de-escalate when they are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. Calm down spaces should be comfortable and provide the children with a variety of calming activities such as books, puzzles, and sensory items.

Student Recognition

Hosting parties, giving certificates, and sending home positive student notes are a great ways to recognize and reward the hard work of your preschoolers. Involve your students in the process by encouraging them to help you decorate your classroom for parties,  present certificates, and congratulate their classmates for their achievements.

Parent Communication & Engagement

Parent communication is an essential component of a successful preschool program. It helps build strong relationships between the preschool staff and the families they serve, and allows the staff to better understand the needs of the children and their families. By communicating regularly with parents, preschool staff can help ensure that their program is meeting the individual needs of each child and family. This kind of communication can also provide families with valuable resources and support in order to help their children succeed in the classroom and beyond. Parent communication is essential for creating a safe and supportive learning environment for children and their families.

One way your can improve parent communication in your program is by setting up a parent communication board.

A parent communication board is an effective way for parents and educators to communicate with each other. It is a board where parents can post announcements, reminders, and updates about school events, activities, and other important information. It also allows parents to ask questions and provide feedback to the school administration in order to help create a more collaborative learning environment. The board also provides an avenue for parents to stay informed of their students’ progress, events, and school-wide initiatives. When used properly, a parent communication board can serve as an invaluable resource for both parents and educators.

Another way you can improve communication is by sending out monthly Newsletters.

A preschool newsletter is a great way to keep parents informed about events and activities at the preschool. It should include information about upcoming events, learning activities, field trips, and any other news that parents need to know. It is also important to include information on any changes or updates to the preschool's policies or procedures. Additionally, the newsletter should provide ways for parents to get involved, such as volunteering opportunities or parent-teacher meetings. Finally, the newsletter should be designed in a way that is visually appealing and easy to read, so that parents can quickly and easily access the information they need.

Parent engagement activities are a great way to get parents involved in their child’s learning and development. Activities can range from simple tasks like playing games together, reading stories together, or  more complex activities like facilitating a special event in your program. There are endless possibilities for engaging parents in their child’s education.

You can provide many opportunities for parents to participate in your program by asking for volunteers! Parents can help with events, speak to the students about their jobs, or even donate simple materials to your projects, or learning spaces.

Organizing your Classroom and Storing your Thematic Materials

When planning your own thematic lessons it's important to keep track of all of your related materials.

Preschool thematic materials are materials that are used to facilitate learning and exploration in a preschool classroom. These materials often include books, games, manipulatives, art supplies, and any other item that can be used to create a fun and educational learning environment. Keep thematic materials organized and labeled so that you can find the materials you need quickly.  Create thematic binders or bins to store and organize your thematic materials.

How to Use Unit Studies

How to Start Homeschooling

Homeschooling 101: Basics for Parents Before You Start


Unit studies are an efficient and interesting way to homeschool multiple ages together without losing your mind as the homeschool mom.  Have you tried them yet? Here is a round-up list to pin for later with 25 unit studies that are fun for the kids and easy on you!

Here’s how to make it work.

Here's how you can use unit studies to simplify your homeschool and teach multiple ages together. Plus, grab a free unit study planner pack.

1 What is a Unit Study?

2 How to create your own Unit Study

3 How You Can Use Unit Studies to Simplify Your Homeschool

4 25 Ready-to-use Unit Studies

4.1 History & Geography Unit Studies

4.2 Literature Unit Studies

4.3 Science Unit Studies

4.4 Hands-On Studies


It’s actually quite simple to plan your own unit study.

Choose a general topic and start jotting down subtopics, activities, or books to include.

For example, you could plan to study Birds in the fall.

Depending on the age of your kids, your list might look like this:

  • birds in our region

  • migratory patterns

  • bird calls

  • drawing birds

  • types of beaks

  • make a bird feeder

  • observe birds and keep a notebook

  • watch a documentary

  • dissect owl pellets

  • visit a zoo or aviary

  • John Audubon

  • read living books about birds and birding

  • write a summary of your favorite bird

  • create a poem about birds

Once you decide on your main topics and resources (of course, Pinterest is a wealth of information!), then decide on the frequency of your study and get to it.

You could fit in your unit study daily, or use a looping schedule. You might choose to work on it daily until you feel like you’re finished, or you could deep dive once a week for a whole semester. It’s really up to you!


On episode 174 of the Homeschool with Moxie Podcast, we sat down with veteran homeschool mom Kerry Beck to give you a mini training in how to use unit studies in your homeschool.

Kerry Beck helps you get past the perfect Instagram image & move on to real life ways to homeschool and encourage your kids to love learning, think critically & influence those around them as adults. She also inspires moms with her personal & spiritual stories of moving from overwhelmed to peace & resting in God.

Are you pulling out your hair trying to homeschool multiple kids? Does it get more complicated as you keep homeschooling? Let’s take a step back. Let’s simplify your homeschool with one of the easiest and most educational methods available.

Let’s look at unit studies to truly simplify your homeschool. Kerry will share ways to use unit studies to give your children a better education, as you simplify your home and homeschool. If you don’t think you can do unit studies, Kerry will show you a way to modify unit studies that will help reduce your overwhelm.

Here's how to use unit studies to simplify your homeschool and even teach multiple ages together seamlessly.

You can find Kerry at How to Homeschool My Child.

Here are some of Kerry’s unit studies:


If you’d rather find free or very inexpensive already-done-for-you unit studies, then pin this post for later! Here are 25 Unit Studies that you can incorporate into your homeschool. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend doing all 25 this year. Choose one or two and enjoy! There are so many fun topics included, you’re sure to find a couple that your kids will love.

Have you heard of  They are a great resource for your themed unit needs.  Check out their weekly specials at 25% off.

25 Unit Studies for homeschoolers


Pirate Unit Study – Play games pirates may have played, play pirate-y puzzle and physics games, try a few word searches or crosswords, or play a pirate math game.

Ancient Egypt Unit Study – Study Ancient Egypt with your kids with the help of this huge list of activities, resources, free printables.

Christopher Columbus Unit Study – Use this unit study to celebrate Columbus Day in October or anytime of the year for an important history topic.

Titanic Unit Study Resources – Are any of your kids interested in the story of the Titanic? This unit study gives you printables, unit studies, resources videos, crafts and a stem challenge.

The Ultimate Viking Unit Study – Check out these history and STEM projects to learn more about the Vikings.

Geography Five Country Unit Study – Your kids will enjoy being immersed into the food, music, and crafts of five different countries including Australia, Brazil, Kenya, England, and Russia.

Elementary Middle Ages Unit Study – Here’s a six week unit study of the Middle Ages, which includes a great literature list plus an end of unit project.

70 Awesome Resources for a Horse Science Study and Lessons – Grab a FREE Animal Report Printable here and jump into some of the 70 total resources for a horse science unit study for K-12.

Geography Mini Lessons Round-Up – Here’s a few few quick open & go lessons for homeschool geography that you can use today with no prep!


Little House on the Prairie – This post includes dozens of resources and activities in order to extend the learning from your favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

Multicultural Fairy Tales – Here’s a great book list for creating a multicultural fairy tales unit study. Plus, check out dozens of other unit study resources including astronauts, dinosaurs, nutrition, presidents, holidays, and tons more!

Charlotte’s Web Unit Study – Check out these fun, hands-on activities to extend the learning from this childhood classic.

Civil War Unit Study – Do you have any American Girl fans in your homeschool? Then you’ll love this Civil War unit study based around the American Girl doll Addy.

Rabbit Trails Homeschool – You’ll find dozens of studies here all focused around beautiful picture books. Explore the National Parks, or history or science with your kids using Rabbit Trails Homeschool.


Skeleton Science Unit Study – Grab a free printable to use with this hands-on (literally!) unit study about the skeleton as you focus on the bones in the hand.

Flight Unit Study Resources – If you want to teach your kids about the history of aviation, here’s a great round-up of resources to use. Includes lesson plan ideas, lap books, printables, crafts, book lists, and video clips.

Weather Unit Study – Your kids will deep dive into learning about the clouds, tornadoes, sun, and rain and how they work together to produce the weather right outside your front door.

Solar System Unit Study – Grab this unit study to help your kids learn about space with printables, books, video links, and activities.

Ocean Unit Study – Combine science, art, language arts, and more as your kids explore the ocean!


Foraging & Feasting Unit Study – This unit study will help your kids learn basic survival skills plus a few tips about cooking.

Kindergarten APPLES Unit Study – Here’s a fun thematic unit study for the beginning of your homeschool year. Includes book lists and activities like cooking, experiments, field trips, historical figures, and more.

Learning with LEGO Unit Study & Lapbook – Here’s an independent study for your kids that includes copywork, word of the day, explore and learn, and a building challenge.

Vincent Van Gogh Unit Study Resources – Check out these book recommendations plus hands-on ideas for learning more about Van Gogh.

Antonio Vivaldi: A Composer Unit Study – Your kids will love notebooking about Vivaldi with this five-lesson unit study.

Thanksgiving Homeschool Activities + Unit Studies – When you’re looking for seasonal and holiday-themed ideas for your homeschool, then this is the round-up you want!

Sampler Music Appreciation Course – Dive into 25 different music appreciation lessons with your kids! Titles include George Frederic Handel, Jazz and Blues, Patriotic Music, and more.


Hi! I'm Abby - a former classroom teacher turned homeschooling mom of 5. You're in the right place if you want to be inspired, encouraged, and equipped to homeschool confidently. You can do it! Read More…

Learn how strewing can spark a child's curiosity, foster a love for lifelong learning, and nurture their individual interests and talents. 

Are you homeschooling living on one income? Here are my best tips for making it happen. You can live (and homeschool) on one income!


If you're looking for the best Apologia notebook options, then you'll love this inside peek into Knowledge Box Central journals.


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Alphabet Workbook cover

How To Use Printables To Create Montessori-Inspired Activities or Unit Studies

July 30, 2018 By Deb Chitwood

If you follow my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I love using printables to create Montessori-inspired activities. I even feature a Free Printable of the Day at the Living Montessori Facebook page.  So, does that mean that Montessori or I advocate the use of lots of worksheets for young children?

If you’re familiar with Montessori and with me, you know that the answer is no. If you’re new to Montessori, you’ll soon find that Montessori is about individualized, hands-on learning. Hands-on learning using concrete materials is emphasized before abstract learning. Although there may be handwritten activities, they come after children have a firm foundation with hands-on materials.

How to Use Printables to Create Montessori-Inspired Activities

There are so many wonderful printables available online – both free and for purchase. I truly appreciate the work of the printable designers, and I’m thankful that many give away their printables for free. When I was a Montessori teacher in the 1970s and 1980s, I had to make supplemental activities by hand. I loved making materials, but it was difficult for someone like me who isn’t talented at drawing.

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links (at no cost to you).

How I like to use printables is to make hands-on learning materials for activity trays. Printables used that way make life for Montessori-inspired teachers and homeschoolers so much easier!


You’ll find detailed ideas for preparing and presenting activities here: Montessori-Inspired Snowman Letter Activities Using Free Printables and Montessori-Inspired One-Fish, Two Fish Math Activities Using Free Printables.


Here are a few examples of Montessori-inspired activities created with free printables:

Eat the Rainbow Practical Life and Sorting Activity
Eat the Rainbow Practical Life and Sorting Activity

This eat-the-rainbow practical life and sorting activity is from my Free Eat-a-Rainbow Printables and Montessori-Inspired Activities post. (See the post for the links to the free printables and resources.)

Zoology Classification Activity Using Free Printables

This zoology classification activity using free printables is from my Free Zoo Printables and Montessori-Inspired Zoo Activities post.

Tray with Magnet Song and Magnet Task Cards

Tray with Magnet Song and Magnet Task Cards

This tray with magnet song and magnet task cards is from my Free Magnet Printables and Montessori-Inspired Magnet Activities post.

Water Cycle Bracelet Tray

Water Cycle Bracelet Tray

This water cycle bracelet tray is from my Free Water Cycle Printables and Montessori-Inspired Water Cycle Activities post.

Here are lots of ideas using free printables for home or classroom (Updated 2021):


More Than Ten Years’ Worth of Free Printables and Activities

You’ll find all my posts on the 15th of the month, using free printables to prepare Montessori-inspired themed activities here.


  • Printable. In addition to my Free Printable of the Day, you’ll find LOTS of free printables in my Free Montessori Materials Online and Free Preschool Printables for Activity TraysMy themed posts on the 15th of the month  also contain links to many free printables (along with ideas for using them to create activity trays). My Spielgaben posts and Montessori By Mom posts contain links to free printables, too. And don’t miss my free Safari Ltd. TOOB Keys post when preparing Montessori-inspired activities using Safari Ltd. TOOBS!

  • Materials for printing, cutting, and laminating printables. 2020 update: I rarely laminate materials any longer for home use. I used to laminate toddler materials, but I taught my toddler grandkids to treat printables gently in the same way they learn to treat books gently. To save time and money while helping protect the environment, I only laminate materials that we use with playdough or water. For those printables, I cut them out first and then laminate them, leaving a laminate edge when I cut them out again to prevent water from reaching the printable.

  • Activity tray. I show a number of different options in my photos. I sometimes use an inexpensive wooden tray from a hobby store or find inexpensive trays at thrift shops, dollar stores, or the Target dollar section. My favorite trays for most materials, though, are the nested set of wooden Multicraft trays and Montessori Services trays. They’re all attractive, durable, and stackable. In Montessori education, there’s only one of each activity, encouraging children to take turns or work together cooperatively. So you only need to prepare one activity tray of a specific activity if you’re creating a Montessori-inspired activity for a preschool classroom.

  • Small containers for an undivided tray. For most activity trays, I like to have small containers of some sort for small labels and objects needed for the activity. An orderly environment helps children develop an inner order. In the same way, an organized tray helps children develop an inner order (along with making the tray more attractive in general). I tend to keep my eyes open for small, attractive containers that will work well with activity trays. Montessori Services has small boxes and bowls that are perfect for many activity trays.

  • 3-dimensional objects to go with the printable wherever possible. When I create activity trays using printables, you’ll notice that I emphasize using 3-dimensional objects whenever I can find them to go with the activity. I often find small objects at hobby stores that work especially well.

  • Materials such as tweezers or tongs if you want to add a practical life skill to your activity tray. I have some examples of practical life activities and specific practical life transferring activities using materials that can often be added to a math, language, or cultural activity using a printable. I decide if I want to add a practical life skill when I’m creating an activity. I don’t always include a practical life skill, but it often adds interest to the activity. (Note: young preschoolers should spend most of their time with practical life activities and sensorial activities. You don’t need to use printables very often with them.)

  • A low shelf or shelves for the activity trays in your classroom or home where the children can easily reach them, allowing for freedom of choice in their activities. Activity trays on shelves are wonderful ways to have activities available when children have an urge to repeat an activity or are drawn to an activity because of the needs of a sensitive period.

  • Especially if you have more than one child, it’s helpful if you have a few rugs in the room so a child can lay out the materials for an activity on a rug on the floor. The rug is helpful for defining the child’s workspace. Rugs can be rolled up and stored in a container in a corner of the room. You’ll often see Montessori Services rugs in photos of activities I’ve prepared. I used Montessori Services rugs as a Montessori teacher, and I love them for school or homeschool use.

Tips for preparing an activity tray:

  • Decide if you need to laminate the activity and what type of laminating you’ll do. As of 2021, I rarely laminate materials for home use. I typically just laminate materials that will get wet or messy (as in a playdough activity or sensory bin with water). You’ll find suggestions and resources in this post: Montessori-Inspired Music Appreciation: Peter and the Wolf.

  • Think of how you can make the activity hands-on. As I said, I often add 3-dimensional objects, such as figures from Safari Ltd. TOOBS. Often, printables can be cut apart to make them into manipulatives. Rather than having a young child draw lines matching two objects on a worksheet, I might cut the pictures apart and let the child match the pictures, find matching pictures buried in a sensory tub, or play a concentration game with them.

  • When preparing the activity tray, make it as attractive and orderly as possible. Typically, you’ll want to arrange your materials in left-to-right order on the tray as an indirect preparation for writing and reading.

Presenting the activity:

You can use your creativity to think up lots of attractive, hands-on activities using printables.

Printable Lessons 


Social Studies

Health & Guidance

Language Arts


World History

Africa During the Middle Ages

What is Agriculture?

What is Archeology?

The Black Plague

What is Civilization?

The Cold War

Exploring Feudalism and Manorialism (Middle Ages)

What are Hieroglyphics?

India During the Middle Ages

The Industrial Revolution

The Medieval Social Class System of Europe

The Life of a Peasant in the Middle Ages

The Renaissance (An Introduction)

Renaissance Communication Methods

The Swahili Civilization During the Middle Ages

World War 2

World War I

The Early, High and Late Middle Ages

American History

The American Civil War

What is an Assembly Line?

The California Gold Rush

The Cold War

The Great Depression

The Industrial Revolution

The Underground Railroad

What is Suffrage?

World War I

World War 2


What is Communism?

What is a Confederal Government?

What is a Dictatorship?

What is a Parliamentary Government?

What is a Presidential Government?

What is a Unitary Government?

Earth and Space Science

Climate Change


Rocks and Minerals

Trash and the Environment

Fossils and Dinosaurs

All About Habitats

Ecosystems and Biomes

Our Solar System

Our Sun

Climates and Seasons

What is a Forest?

Planet Earth

What is a Comet?

Day and Night

What is an Earthquake?

Weather for Kids: It's Cold Outside

Weather for Kids: It's Raining Outside

Weather for Kids: It's Hot Outside

Weather for Kids: Storms, Hurricanes and Tornadoes

Weather for Kids: Air and Wind

All About Weather

Life Sciences

What Are Amphibians?

Biological Vectors

Animal Behaviors

Brain and Nervous Systems

What are Carnivores?

Consumers in the Food Chain

What are Decomposers?

Digestive and Excretory Systems

What are Endangered Species?

All About Extinct Animals

All About Fish

The Food Chain

What is Hibernation?

All About Insects

What are Invertebrates?

The Life Cycle

All About Living Things

All About Mammals

All About Non-Living Things

What is an Omnivore?

Producers in the Food Chain

Respiratory and Circulatory Systems

Seeds and Plants

What are the Most Dangerous Spiders in. the World?

Why are People Afraid of Spiders?

Why are Spiders Living in my House?

All Aout Vaccines

What are Vertebrates?

The Water Cycle

Physical Sciences



Solids, Liquids, Gases: All About Matter




Engineering and Technology Sciences

Simple Machines


If you’re looking for ideas for homeschooling in July, this post has you covered. While most families are taking a break from their regularly scheduled homeschool program, some are still on the search for keeping learning alive during the summer months. I for one have always said that learning never stops, even when we have […]


Arbor Day Homeschool Resources

Established in Nebraska in 1872, Arbor Day is observed on the last Friday in April each year. Nebraska newspaper editor-turned-senator J. Sterling Morton proposed the holiday when he noticed the territory’s lacking tree population. Using these Arbor Day homeschool resources, your family will spend some time appreciating the beauty, value, and science of trees. Arbor […]


Free! Unit Studies for All 50 States

Exciting news! For months (years!) I have been planning a series of states unit studies. Now your students grades 3-8 will be able to study each state in the union and create a notebook along the way.  And they are all FREE!  The unit studies are primarily be written as a list of resources you can […]





Learn about Squirrels Unit Study

Learn about squirrels with your students. Pick activities from our list to build your own squirrel theme week or squirrel unit study!


Thanksgiving Homeschool Resources

The Ultimate List of Free Resources for Homeschooling Middle and High School

There is a plethora of free homeschool resources available online for elementary students. But finding excellent quality free homeschool resources for middle and high school can be more challenging.  If you are homeschooling middle and/or high school and your budget says you need to supplement your curriculum with some free resources, I think you’ll find this list quite helpful.  

In addition to helping make homeschooling more affordable, this list can also be used to supplement public or private school curriculum, or provide afterschool and summer school learning for middle and high school.

If you know of other excellent resources I’ve missed, be sure to leave the information about those in the comments so I can add them! 

The Ultimate List of Free Resources for Homeschooling Middle School and High School

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If you are homeschooling middle and/or high school and your budget says you need to supplement your curriculum with some free resources, I think you’ll find this list quite helpful.   

FREE Math Resources for Middle and High School

Algebra – Understanding Algebra

Algebra and More Math Games – Cool Math Games

High School Mathematics Tutorials – Analyze Math

Lessons, Personalized Recommendations, Personalized Assessments – School Yourself

Middle School Math Games – Math Game Time

Middle School Math Sheets – Homeschool Math

Middle School Math Work Sheets – Teachnology

Middle School  Online Math Lessons, Worksheets, Quizzes, Tutoring – MasterMath

MitOpenCourseware Highlights for High School –

Online Courses, Lessons, and Practice – Kahn Academy

Online High School Math Courses –

Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, SAT, ACT – Math Planet

7 of the Best Math  Apps for Middle School

 – The Tech Edvocate

FREE  Writing Resources for Middle and High School

Free creative writing online courses by universities– Learning Path

Free grammar lessons to help improve writing – Daily Grammar

Free online writing courses for creative writing – Creative Writing Now

Free tools to help your students become better writers – Quill

Free writing resources to strengthen writing skills – Time 4 Learning 

10 universities offering free online writing courses–

25 free online writing courses to help high schoolers improve writing skills – Class Central

31 fun writing prompts for middle school

 – Journal Buddies

FREE Literature Resources for Middle and High School

High School American Literature – Easy Peasy All in One High School

High School British Literature – Easy Peasy All in One High School

High School Literature and Composition – Easy Peasy All in One High School

High School Advanced Literature and Composition – Easy Peasy All in One High School

Narnia Character Study with Notebooking Pages – Ben and Me

The Bible in the Wall

 – Grace and Truth Books

FREE Geography Resources for Middle and High School

Notebooking Across the USA – Ben and Me

Facts about the 50 states – 50 States

Geography Games – Shepherd Software

Geography Map Quiz Games – Seterra

High School Geography – Easy Peasy All in One High School

Middle School Geography – Kids Geo

Middle School Geography – Easy Peasy All in One

World Geography High School – Harmony Fine Arts at Home 

FREE History Resources for Middle and High School

Free Ancient to the Middle Ages middle school history – Easy Peasy All in One 

Free Early American History for  middle school – Easy Peasy All in One 

Free high school history

 – Easy Peasy All in One High School

FREE Science Resources for Middle and High School

A variety of resources to learn from and for research – Institute for Creation Research

Complete Middle School Chemistry Curriculum – ACS

Adventures in Chemistry– ACS

Creation science articles and more – Answers in Genesis

Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution 1– Youtube

Peer reviewed articles by scientists for research

 – Creation Ministries International

Energy Foundations for High School Chemistry

FREE Fine Arts Resources for Middle and High School

Art lessons for high school level (free videos) – Will Kemp Art School

Ancient Art for middle school – Easy Peasy

Drawing and Painting for High School – Easy Peasy All in One High School

Drawing and Painting for middle school – Easy Peasy

Drawing Professionally for High School – Easy Peasy All in One High  School

Early American Art for middle school – Easy Peasy

Free video art lessons for all – The Art Sherpa

Free middle school art lessons – Kinder Art

Free middle school and high school art lessons – Incredible Art Department

Free on-line art classes

 – Free On-line Art Classes 

FREE Unit Study Resources for Middle and High School

A large variety of unit studies – Funtastic Unit Studies

A plethora of unit studies – Home School Mom

Free unit studies – A to Z Homeschool

Free unit studies for all subjects  – Eclectic Homeschooling

FREE Bible/Apologetics Resources for Middle and High School

Apologetics Curriculum from Good Answers Ministries – 7 Sisters Homeschool

Apologetics Videos – Living Waters 

Middle School Bible Lessons – Real Life

Middle School Bible Lessons Old Testament – Easy Peasy

Middle School Bible Lessons New Testament – Easy Peasy

Middle School Bible Lessons Poetry – Easy Peasy

Middle School Bible Lessons Prophets – Easy Peasy

High School Bible Lessons – Real Life

High School Bible Lessons different levels – Easy Peasy

Bible Study Worksheets for Young Ladies – Daughters of Light Shining for Christ

Christian Apologetics for High School – Muses of a Mom

Free Online Books – Answers in Genesis