If you’re new to homeschooling and live in a state with specific hour requirements for homeschooling (like Missouri), it can seem a bit stressful at first! When you just look at a number (for us it’s 1,000 hours per child), you might wonder how you’re going to do THAT many homeschool hours in a year.
For all the freedom that homeschooling affords, some state requirements do force some tedium to the mix.
Don’t worry – we’ve got your back! We’ve put together a list of ways to turn activities you do already into homeschool activities that you can count toward your state’s hour requirements.
Shall we dig in?
Want to check out the best homeschool education tracker? Save 3-5 hours a week with the Homeschool Hall Activity Journal!
What Counts as Homeschool Hours?
Every state is a bit different, but almost all states which require parents to log homeschool hours specify that there must be some kind of instruction for it to count.
But here’s the kicker: “instruction” doesn’t have to mean lecturing for hours on end, nor does it have to mean that you’re doing sit-down bookwork for hours every day.
You can instruct the student for a portion of each lesson, then have them work that concept out! That may look like filling out a worksheet, or it could be playing a game or going on a field trip! As long as there’s a clear purpose to your time, you’re on the right track.
Of course, sitting down with a textbook or workbook is one way to provide instruction that counts as homeschool hours, and there are pros and cons to that style of learning.
We personally do a fair amount of book work with our kiddos, and they tend to enjoy it, but it’s only a piece of the pie.
The rest of the time? We’re turning everyday moments into lessons, and fitting in experiential learning opportunities that make homeschooling an absolute blast! Think field trips, discussions, videos, nature walks, games, and tons more.
Below we’ve put a list together of a BUNCH of creative activities you can count as homeschool hours for your logging, and many of them are things you likely do all the time!
Creative Homeschool Activities by Subject
Put the textbooks down for a while and try these ideas for completing your homeschool hours during everyday, real-world moments.
Use sidewalk chalk to practice writing new letters, numbers, and words.
Write a note, which could be for your child’s latest birthday gift, a surprise letter to a grandparent, etc.
Play word games, like Hangman, Boggle, MadLibs, or Scrabble, to reinforce learning in the areas of vocabulary, grammar, parts of speech, and spelling.
Poetry tea time is a special time we set aside once a month to read a poem together, discuss it, and have our students write their own poem inspired by the theme. We usually include art and baking with this activity, as well.
Write your own story, about anything you want! You can easily find books or online resources to give story prompts. I also like to use Roll-A-Story dice, which help the kids come up with things like settings, weather, characters, activities, etc. Sometimes we even just tell a story out loud together and take turns adding events to the story.
Start a book reading competition to encourage kids to read more and track those reading hours. You can find printables online of reading charts to fill out, place stickers on, etc. Check your local businesses for these opportunities, too. Our library offers reading incentives every summer, Local food chains do this throughout the year, too. Kids really get into it when there’s a prize at the end!
Let your child read to a pet or favorite stuffy and track that time as instruction hours. Reading aloud is an important skill to work on. It doesn’t matter who the audience is!
Make a grocery list together, letting your child help write the list and/or read your list. Check for spelling errors and go over those together.
Ask your kiddo to help navigate by reading out street signs along your drive. Go totally “old school” and print out directions once in a while, that they have to read to you.
Read aloud together. This is an enjoyed, treasured time in our home. You can make this as structured or loose as you’d like. I have used resources, like Teachers Pay Teachers, to find book studies, which will include things like reading comprehension, vocabulary, character studies, quizzes, etc.
Cook or bake together and teach your child how to measure ingredients. Talk about conversions and simplify fractions.
Play a video game that turns math lessons into a fun experience. Our kids have tried and enjoyed Mathland. It’s a simple pirate-themed game that had them asking to do math!
Track allowance and help your kids learn how to do the math themselves. See if they can calculate how much they would make in a year, per day, etc.
Play a card game or board game, like Mastermind or Uno, to teach math and logic skills. We also use a plain deck of cards for games like multiplication or addition war. Think of traditional War, but the person with the greater number has to multiply it against their opponent’s card to earn the win. If they’re wrong, the other person gets a chance to “steal” back the cards.
Chess is another great game that teaches logic and strategy.
Play with toy figurines and act out a story from history (toy soldiers, etc.).
Bake historic snacks or a meal from a different time period and learn about the culture. We tried hard tack from the Civil War era. That was so interesting!
Take a virtual field trip by exploring a digital museum or your own Google dive into history.
Go on an actual field trip. Do you have any battlefield near you? National historical sites or museums? It seems no matter where you live in our country, there is something worth exploring. We try to do this while on road trips, even if it’s a short outing. It’s a great excuse to get out of the car, get some energy out, and learn something new. We were able to experience Lincoln’s log cabin in Illinois in this way. It was just a small detour off of our route home, so we took the time. Let me tell you, it was so worth it!
Build a historic building with LEGOs and tell the story about it.
Play with toy train tracks and talk about the history of railroads.
Plan to visit local service members, such as firemen, EMTs, or police officers. Let your kids hear about what they do and ask all the questions they can! Afterwards, you can go deeper by having them write a thank-you note, a report about the occupation, or research more about something they found interesting, like the parts to a firetruck.
The Game of Life is a good introduction to life choices for younger students. They can see how decisions they make about things like career and family can impact a person’s life. They can also get an idea of what kind of jobs are out there and what kind of earning potential they have. This is also a good exercise for budgeting, logic, and critical thinking.
Trekking Through History is another game you can play to supplement your history lessons. Enjoy time together as you strategize and discover unique historical events!
Garden in your yard and let the kids gain hands-on experience in the dirt.
Look up at the stars and moon and teach a lesson about constellations and the universe.
Take a walk and teach about different flowers, insects, clouds, or other elements of nature. You can make it a game, like Nature Bingo, or create a nature color wheel. (Gather leaves, flowers, twigs, moss, etc. and arrange them in a colorful, organized manner on a piece of paper.)
Train your pet a new trick and explain the psychology behind the training.
Go fishing and teach about fish, bait, the water habitat, and more.
Get CPR training together or take a similar type of class. Learning basic survival and health techniques is a great lifetime skill!
Head to a zoo or an aquarium and bring along an activity sheet. Sometimes we play animal bingo or complete a scavenger hunt (specific creatures, biomes, plants, continents, etc.).
Watch Science Max on YouTube. There are several videos that explore different properties of physics and chemistry, all at a child’s level. Find some that you can follow along with and recreate at home! We’ve enjoyed some fun science experiments using this resource! Ever seen a balloon-powered Hot Wheels car before? It’s a hoot!
Educate for Life is another great online resource. If you’re like me, you don’t know all the things about all things! This subscription-based program has different courses, covering subjects like creation, fossils, dinosaurs, and genetics. They also have awesome videos about religion and social issues, all of which come from a Christian worldview and use the Bible to support their claims. It’s awesome!
Wildcraft! An Herbal Adventure Game is a fun way to learn about plants and the ways they can be beneficial to us! You’ll also become aware of some of the hazards of different plants. Kids will learn some great life hacks while simply playing a board game! This game can be purchased at learningherbs.com.
Physical Education (PE)
Play catch and teach proper form for catching and throwing a ball.
Go for a swim and teach appropriate swimming techniques.
Join a local sports club and log those hours as PE time.
Exercise as a family! You can find family friendly workout videos on YouTube, print exercise plans or challenges from the web, or join a class at your local gym or community center.
Bring your kiddos to church and log the class time as “away” hours – every week!
Read about the history of fun holidays, like Jesus’ birth for Christmas.
Make your own graphic novel. You can cover a specific life narrative from the Bible, like Moses, Joseph, or Jesus, or you can create a summary of the Old or New Testament. My kids have enjoyed mini projects like these, where they can draw pictures, copy Scriptures, and insert dialogue. It’s always a plus to have a lifetime keepsake from your kiddos!
Sew/make your own clothes or crafts.
Picture Studies allow you to explore different artists and techniques. We usually examine and recreate 3-4 pieces from the same artist, then move on to someone new. This gives you time to learn about the artist, the country or era they were from, and their style of art (impressionist, watercolor, sculpting, etc.).
Art for Kids Hub is a great online resource for learning easy-to-follow drawing techniques for multiple levels. They even have some origami! You can find dozens of tutorials on YouTube.
Take music lessons for any instrument and also record your child’s practice time.
Head to an art museum and make observations about their exhibits. Do some sketches and make sure to ask questions about the artwork you’re seeing. (What impact does it have? What does it communicate about the artist or the culture? What feelings does it evoke?)
Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)
Use a behavior chart to track daily behavior and discuss areas for improvement.
Assign daily journaling to practice private reflection and mental well-being.
Study the Fruit of the Spirit to teach and encourage right attitudes and actions in your kids.
Get Hours of Your Week Back with the Best Homeschool Hours Log
Completing your homeschool hours is one thing, and logging them is another….
My wife used to spend 30-40 minutes every day sitting at our kitchen table recording homeschool hours and activities in a binder. Since our state requires that we keep a daily log for each child, this meant she was writing most activities multiple times for each of our kiddos.
We have two kids, who study 6-8 different subjects per year. That’s at least 12 entries per day, 240 or more hand-written notes a month! Often times the kids would do multiple activities per subject, I.E.-poetry study, vocabulary, and writing lessons, all just within the Language Arts category.
Her hand cramped, her countenance fell, her Christmas movie-watching hours dwindled! (Can you tell my wife wrote part of this?)
I tried and tried to find something for her that would make this easier, but I kept striking out. I kept thinking, “There’s got to be something out there that’s quicker for her to log homeschool hours, right?”
I built it!
The Homeschool Hall Activity Journal was specifically created to make the tedious task of logging homeschool hour super quick and easy, and most of our members are now saving 3-5 hours a week by using it!
You can enter your state’s homeschool tracking requirements right into your settings, and it will keep track of your progress for you and show you stats that (no joke) actually make it kinda fun to track! You can easily record hours, grades, and activities with just a few taps on your phone or clicks on the computer.
She went from 30-40 minutes a day logging homeschool hours to just 3-5 minutes! And she loves that it’s super convenient to track when you’re on the go. Ever have those great impromptu science or history talks when you’re driving around running errands or heading to an event?
You can quickly input that time spent in academic discussion when you get where you’re going! You’re less likely to forget those awesome nuggets of time you spent organically learning, when you can jot them down super quick right on your phone!
My wife loves that we upgraded from generic homeschool paper logs to the state-specific online Activity Journal. That’s something I never thought I’d say, because she’s not super techie and generally enjoys “old school” pen to paper writing, but she is loving the freedom she gets from having more time in her day for other important things! (Like Christmas movies and hair tutorials.)
We think you’ll love it too! Check it out here!
Thanks for reading, and we sincerely appreciate your support!