Homeschooling Resources

This is a work in progress.  At this point I am not attempting to list places to take classes (which would be an enormous list indeed).  Page down for these categories:  National Resources and Local Resources.  On this post I listed a bunch of things in random order that I wish I'd known when I first began homeschooling. I have a page of Portland area locations that offer field trips, and a page of places where kids are allowed to wade and explore ponds and creeks. And I have a page of blank report cards for grades 1-8, which people occasionally find useful.

National Resources

Are you facing financial strain, and having trouble buying the homeschool curriculum you need?  Or do you have homeschool curriculum you no longer need and would like to pass on to another family?  Or are you looking for a charity that would benefit needy homeschooling families and would like to contribute?  Check out The Book Samaritanhttp://www.thebooksamaritan.com/.  They are a Christian organization but do accept and distribute secular materials if available. 

Yahoo groups:  http://groups.yahoo.com/  Here are some places to look for an online community devoted to your location, faith, educational style, or an educational subject of particular interest.  Also if you are looking to learn more about a specific curriculum, want to share tips for teaching with it, or want to buy/sell gently used curriculum, there is often a Yahoo group devoted to users of that particular curriculum.  Here are some groups I particularly recommend:
An all inclusive, secular homeschooling list, for English speakers regardless of location or educational style:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/secular_homeschoolers/
A place to share secular science tips and resources, beyond textbooks:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LivingScience/?yguid=397895047
A place to share math tips and resources, beyond textbooks:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LivingMathForum/?yguid=397895047
A  homeschool list for sharing ideas and insights on helping kids to learn reading, including helping kids with learning differences:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HeartofReading/?yguid=397895047 

World Book's Survey of a "Typical Course of Study"http://www.worldbook.com/typical-course-of-study  World Book Encyclopedia has compiled a list of what nationally is covered in preschool through grade 12 classrooms across the nation.  

Homeschool Buyer's Co-op:  http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/ Their focus is to provide group discounts on all sorts of curriculum and educational materials.  They also have a template to make yourself and your children official teacher and student ID cards, which you can have laminated.  Even if they remind you of fake IDs college kids try to use to buy beer, these cards can genuinely help to get all sorts of student and educator discounts.  And they have a wonderful member-compiled list of group field trips available in the US and Canada.

SciStarter:  http://scistarter.com/ A huge database of citizen science projects, so kids can do real science and provide data for important studies. 

Young Audiences:  http://www.youngaudiences.org/ Check this list to see if there is one near you.  Young Audiences brings the visual and performing arts to schools, and will work with homeschoolers as well.  You can have an artist come do a workshop with your homeschool group for very reasonable rates.  (Here's the Oregon branch: http://www.ya-or.org/)

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has an extensive list of authors and illustrators that make classroom and homeschool group visits. Their database is searchable by location.  http://www.scbwi.org/

Clickschooling:  http://clickschooling.com/ Six days a week, a link to a different free internet learning resource, from homeschooling maven Diane Flynn Keith. You can get them emailed to you, or read them on her archives.  Each of the six days are devoted to a particular subject, and she lists the suggested age range for each one.  She makes a point of finding many learning opportunities that tie in with seasons and holidays. Some of them are for online learning, and some are resources for learning without screen time.  I've found quite a few useful and free resources this way that I never would have thought to search for.  She's also the author of  the book Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games and Activities to Turn Travel Time into Learning Time - For Kids Ages 4 to 17, a long list of mobile learning tips that range from the ridiculous to the absolutely brilliant.

Free craft instructions:  Artists Helping Children, with a huge searchable database   http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/

High-quality Videos and still photographs of thousands of animals, with a focus on endangered species:  http://www.arkive.org/

Awesome science videos:  The Happy Scientist http://thehappyscientist.com/.  He has a huge sampling of free videos on his site, and offers tons more with a small annual subscription. They are short, clear,  usually demonstrate a simple experiment you can do yourself.  He is very, very good at describing very complex ideas in really straightforward terms, to appeal to a wide age range.

Postcrossing:  http://www.postcrossing.com/ An interesting way to help learn geography.  This is a free, English language site to facilitate the exchange of postcards from around the world.

You may have noticed that there's a whole genre of children's fiction about school.  If you'd like to find some fiction for your child about homeschooling instead, check out this blog: http://homeschooladventurers.blogspot.com/ which has lists and links to many more lists. There's another long list here: http://www.homeschoolliterature.com/.

Miscellaneous Supplies

Art Supplies:  Discount School Supply (student craft supplies);  Dick Blick (fine art supplies);  Nasco (more fine art supplies);  Dharma Trading (fiber arts); Mosaic Art Supply;  Marble Art (paper marbling supplies).

A mind boggling array of musical instruments:  http://www.grothmusic.com/

Nature study items:  http://www.boneroom.com/ Their creatures in lucite are virtually indestructible and wonderful for little kids.

Butterfly eggs and caterpillars:  Butterflies Etc.  http://www.butterfliesetc.com/

Best Microscope Ever:  Brock Magiscope  http://www.magiscope.com/

Science Kits (amazing selection!):  http://shop.pitsco.com/

Carnivorous Plants:  Sarracenia Northwest  http://cobraplant.com/

Lotus Seeds:  (very fun to sprout!) The Lotus: Know It and Grow It http://www.aboutthelotus.com/index.html

Biological Supply:  Berkshire Biological  http://www.berkshirebiological.com/  Carolina Biological:  http://www.carolina.com/

Mushroom growing kits   https://www.mushroomadventures.com/

Wood products for crafting:   Casey's Wood Products http://www.caseyswood.com/

Brass charms for crafting:  Fancifuls, Inc. http://www.fancifulsinc.com/

Lots of places offer educator discounts that are available to homeschoolers;  they include office supply stores, book stores, art supply stores,  stores that sell organizational supplies such as The Container Store; and sometimes museum memberships.  Don't forget to ask about discounts before you go there to shop, so you will know what proof of homeschooling status to bring.  Here in Portland, OMSI has begun offering teacher discounts on memberships to homeschoolers. Powell's Books famously does not offer special discounts specifically to homeschoolers; instead they offer discounts on bulk purchases which are available to anyone purchasing large quantities of the same item.

Local Resources

Oregon Home Education Network http://www.ohen.org/index.php   They offer a really great summary of how to comply with Oregon homeschooling law on their website. In even numbered years, they have an Oregon homeschooling convention, which can definitely be worthwhile to attend.  They host two annual events for teens; a fall costume dance and a spring prom.  They regularly offer panel discussions at Oregon libraries on the nuts and bolts of getting started in homeschooling.    A vital resource!

Local Yahoo Groups and Facebook Groups:

GPH (Greater Portland Homeschoolers): http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GPH/  With around 1300 families, this list is one of the best places to read and post announcements of interest to the homeschool community.  Also it's one of the few places anyone has undertaken to compile a list of such local resources as park days, classes, etc.  (see their "Files" section).  If you are looking for a class, this is also a great place to post a request for a recommendation.

Homeschoolers of Portlandhttps://www.facebook.com/groups/162552263797664/

HIP List (Homeschooling In Portland): On Yahoo- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HIP_list/  and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hiplist/  The Yahoo group has a great "links" section.

Oregon Homeschool Support: https://www.facebook.com/groups/196211110550216/  Oregon-wide Facebook group.

Portland Westside Homeschoolers/Unschoolers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/196211110550216/

ECHO East County Homeschool Org Events: https://www.facebook.com/groups/117528705121441/


Oregon Public Schools "Standards"; in other words, a general description of the minimal scope and sequence of study required in Oregon classrooms (for reference and comparison):  http://www.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/real/standards/sbd.aspx   Every state should have a similar list available through their Department of Education. 

A document listing all Oregon Charter Schools, some brick and mortar schools, some distance learning programs, and some districts which offer both, can be found on http://www.ode.state.or.us/home/ by searching "oregon public charter schools" with the current school year.   Some provide curriculum free of charge,  and some allow you to create your own learning plan.  What they offer varies, but may include face to face teacher support, field trips and social activities.  Estacada Web AcademyFossil DLP and Paisley DLP offer a stipend to be used for educational expenses.

One of Portland's best-kept secrets:  Oregon Homeschool Science Club.  OMSI offers a lot of single session science classes, and one homeschooling mom and OMSI volunteer dynamo has been setting them up as a series of classes so your child can take a different one every Tuesday during the school year with a consistent group of homeschoolers.  Her program is currently the only way to take OMSI's semester-long Lego Robotics course, which has a beginning and advanced level.

Saturday Academy http://www.saturdayacademy.org/ offers Saturday, break, and summer camp enrichment classes in Portland. Among their cool offerings are Lego Robotics and Technics classes.    Engineering for Kids http://www.engineeringforkids.net/location/portlandmetro/homeschool currently has five different areas that they can teach by special arrangement:  Lego Robotics, Electronic Game Design, Civil Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Little Engineers http://www.little-engineers.com/index.html offers classes in all things LegoPlay-Well http://play-well.org/schedule/class/state/state/Oregon?type=class teaches Lego Technics.  If you have a suitable location and enough participants, I've been told they are available to teach homeschool classes.  The umbrella organization for competitive Lego Robotics teams in Oregon is ORTOP:  http://www.ortop.org/

Rose City Astronomers:  http://www.rosecityastronomers.org/ Partnering with OMSI, they offer monthly free star gazing opportunities throughout the summer at two local state parks, Stub Steward on the west side and Rooster Rock on the east side.  For a shockingly low annual membership, you can be invited to star parties on private property, borrow books and even telescopes, and can be entitled to discounts on telescope purchases.

George Fox University:  They have lots and lots of science equipment that can be borrowed for free, on a first-come-first-served basis:  http://www.georgefox.edu/science_outreach/equipment.html   They also have two cadavers available for anatomy study (onsite only) and from time to time offer live study animals which can be borrowed (tarantulas, snakes, etc.)

Oregon Coast Aquarium:  In addition to some amazing classes available at the Aquarium itself, they have some cool Marine Science Kits which are available for borrowing to both teachers and homeschoolers at no charge through select ESDs.  Northwest ESD (of Clatsop, Tillamook, Columbia, and Washington counties), is probably the most local to Portland.   These kits are suggested for grades K-5.

The Hatfield Marine Science Center also has educational kits available to be borrowed- but you must pick them up at their offices in Newport.  They care called C-More kits and there's lots more info here: http://hmsc.oregonstate.edu/visitor/education-programs/teachers#Courses%20and%20Workshops

Baby chicks for 7 day rentals (spring and summer, pick up and drop off in Battle Ground, WA from a lovely family farm):  Brenda's Rent-A-Chick http://www.localharvest.org/brendas-heirloom-hens-M33938

Gem and Mineral Clubs are a great way to learn about geology.  Most offer special youth activities, guest speakers, field trips to collect rocks or fossils or pan for gold, the opportunity to participate in rock shows, and the chance to meet other rockhounds. Field trips not available to the general public on both public and private land where clubs have obtained special permission to collect  are a huge benefit. Three local ones are the Clackamette Mineral and Gem Club of Oregon City;  Tualatin Valley Gem Club of Forest Grove; and Mt. Hood Rock Club of Gresham.   If you especially love collecting agates and fossils on the coast, the Oregon Coast Agate Club is worth checking out!

If you are interested in collecting fossils, the North American Research Group is for you!  Like the gem and mineral clubs, they work collectively to find great places to hunt for fossils with permission from landowners, and often have great guest speakers at their monthly meetings.

Mushrooms are a popular passion in the Pacific Northwest, and the Oregon Mycological Society can help you learn more about mushrooms than you ever thought there was to know! In addition to mushroom foraging field trips, they offer help with mushroom identification, culinary skills, cultivation and dying fabric and yarn with mushrooms.

The Bug Chicks are local entomologists who can do their amazing bug show for homeschool groups, and are occasionally found around town doing their show at nature centers and libraries.  They also offer some wonderful educational videos online.

There are quite a few amazing reptile experts who put on shows locally and are available to homeschool groups.  I recommend Mr. Lizard,   The Reptile Man  and  Steve's Creature Feature.

A few  lesser known museums you just gotta check out:  Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals (one of the best of its kind in the country);  Kidd's Toy Museum;  Portland Police Museum; Antique Powerland; The Venomous Reptile Museumand The Albany Carousel.  Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve probably has the best visitor's center of any natural area around, with wonderful exhibits, most of which are hands-on.  Ed's House of Gems is a store, not a museum, but there are many wonders of natural history to see, good prices on rocks, seashells, and fossils, and a friendly staff.  Paxton Gate is another store with some eye-popping natural history items, and as a bonus they sell professional butterfly nets!

If you need any kind of ceramic supply, check out Georgie's in North Portland: http://www.georgies.com/

If you are in North Portland, stop by SCRAP http://scrappdx.org/ and see what wonders await you inside!  Started by art teachers who wanted to pool resources, SCRAP has lots and lots of trash that can quickly become treasure, all neatly organized and priced at ridiculously low prices.  They even have an art gallery and gift shop full of arts and crafts made from recycled materials, and I have to say, the quality of the art is quite good.  Your homeschool group might be interested in their field trips!

Want to take your family camping?  Don't own a tent?  For $20 you can borrow a tent, sleeping bags and pads, and have two nights to enjoy them!  Someone will even show you how to set them up! Check out Oregon's fabulous "Let's Go Camping" program:  http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/PARKS/Pages/lgc_intro.aspx Tents, sleeping bags and other camping equipment, snowshoes, and more can also be rented from REI storeshttp://www.rei.com/stores/rentals.html


Places to find local service learning opportunities:  SOLVE (environmental projects such as litter pickup, weed pulling, and tree planting;  most are kid friendly but it's a good idea to bring your own kid sized gardening gloves);  Hands On Greater Portland (a database which is searchable by age and location); and Depave (helping to remove asphalt for creating community gardens; bring kid sized gardening gloves).

A post listing my favorite local nature guides:  http://stagbeetlepower.blogspot.com/2011/03/favorite-nature-guides.html  To this list I would just add the brand new updated edition of Wild in the City: Exploring the Intertwine: The Portland-Vancouver Region's Network of Parks, Trails, and Natural Areas.

I mention Kim Railey on my Field Trips page,  because she runs a business setting up field trips for homeschoolers.  On her website she also lists a wide range of resources for local homeschoolers, which are of particular interest if you live in Clark Countyhttp://www.homeschoolingeventsandmore.com/other_events.html

If you live in Clackamas, Multnomah, or Washington Counties, your library card entitles you to library cards from the other two counties.  This can really come in handy.  Washington and Clackamas Counties offer free cultural passes to local museums and cultural institutions that are simple to reserve and use:   http://www.wccls.org/lending_library/cultural_pass and http://www.lincc.org/ (click on "cultural passes" on the bottom right).


Multnomah County allows you to double your limit of reserved items with an educator's card, and keep materials for up to 6 weeks.  They require a letter of acknowledgement from the ESD as proof of homeschooling, so it is therefore not available either to homeschoolers with children under the age of 7, or the many families who choose not to register. (One word of caution- use of an educator's card is limited to checking out "educational materials", and I have heard that occasionally a librarian will question use of this card.)  The Central Library has an Eco-roof, and offers brief tours by reservation only.  Multnomah County also has a Homeschool Liason on their staff, and has an extensive list of homeschooling resources on their website.  If your kids are interested in learning to knit, Multnomah County Libraries have many knitting groups, most of which welcome knitters of all ages and abilities.  You  bring your own supplies, and benefit from community and expert advice.   Learn more here:  http://www.multcolib.org/events/knitting.html


Clackamas County will allow you to double the number of reserved items and check out 30 more items if you apply for "high volume user status".  Teachers and homeschooling parents qualify, and I have been told that they do not require proof of homeschooling status.  They also offer Mango Languages,  online language tutoring in 44 languages, free through their website.


Washington County does not offer homeschooling parents specific benefits, because all library patrons are all allowed to have up to 50 reserved items and up to 100 items checked out.  Washington County also offers a very detailed guide to how to search their online catalog for optimum results, and a page of resources for homeschoolers.


Most libraries are happy to offer tours for homeschool groups to acquaint children with how to use the library. All libraries have storytimes for preschoolers, and many offer storytimes in second languages., the variety of which may surprise you. Other things you may find free at our local library include chess and Lego clubs for kids, simple craft workshops, monthly book discussion clubs for kids (often with free copies available to the kids given out the month before), and "read to the dogs" programs for beginning and struggling readers.  Be sure to familiarize yourself with everything your library card can do for you. 

Curious how many homeschoolers there are in Oregon?   Turns out the state does compile yearly statistics by Educational Service District here:  http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2081 Only problem is, this list is definitely incomplete.  It's an open secret that not registering is a very popular option, especially for those who wish to avoid any and all compulsory standardized tests.  Also it doesn't include families that use Oregon distance-learning programs, and these families are still teaching their own kids!