Little Lake County Homeschool Guide presented by Brainstorm

lake county homeschool guideHoliday pageants are over, decorations are packed away, and chilly weather lends itself to cozy pajama days in the homeschool classroom.  But parents and students alike may find themselves eventually looking for an excuse to get out of the house.  Lake County (and it’s surrounding communities) offer an abundance of opportunities for education outside the classroom.

Brainstorm, Inc. - Lindenhurst
Brainstorm, Inc. – Lindenhurst

Thanks to Brainstorm in Lindenhurst, we’ve rounded up some of the best resources for homeschoolers in Lake County.  Check them out, and be sure to visit Brainstorm for its vast selection of educational materials, perfect for the homeschooling family. 

Lake County Homeschool Resources

art and music for homeschoolersArt and Music for Homeschoolers

Home School Expo
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Zion-Benton Public Library 
2400 Gabriel Ave, Zion | (847) 872-4680 
The Library hosts this a few times a year to give homeschool students
an opportunity to present a project–display an craft or art, play an instrument, give a speech, show off a science experiment, give a book talk, demonstrate a special skill, or share a hobby. Registration Required.

Spotlight Youth Theater
Spotlight Youth Theater is a non-profit theater art education program for kids ages 5-18. The group offers three sessions of classes each year in 12 different areas across Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin.  View their calendar of classes and register online.

We introduced you to the mother-daughter team at AJustLove in our 12 shops of Christmas Series. Hyacynth (one of our editors and half of the duo) teaches kids painting classes out of her home. Classes range from beginner (age 5) and up to more advanced and are very affordable. Check the Just Love Creatives Facebook group for upcoming events.

Music Lessons with Mike Pollitt
640 N. Lake Street, Grayslake | 847-445-4021
Mike has 12 years of teaching experience with most stringed instruments. Guitar (all styles), 5 string Banjo (Scruggs and clawhammer styles), Mandolin, Ukulele, and Harmonica are his specialty. He also teaches basic instrument maintenance as well as Music theory.

Artist @Heart
344 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville | 847-816-4865
We have featured Artist @Heart for its tot classes but it also offers drop-in art at any time – pick a project and get to work! They also have a full schedule of classes in different mediums from felting to painting.

Knight Music Academy
579 N. Rand Rd., Lake Zurich | 847- 726-8742
Knight Music Academy offers private music lessons, group classes, ensembles, early childhood music classes, children’s Orff classes, and performance opportunities. Learn more about owner Laura in this month’s Locally Grown.

Free Educator Admission
The Art Institute of Chicago 
111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago | (312) 443-3600
Free admission to the Art Institute of Chicago is available to current Illinois educators, including homeschool parents. Educators can register online to receive a voucher for a complimentary ticket to the museum. This voucher must be presented—as a printed document or on a smartphone—with a valid educator ID at one of the museum’s admission counters.  For more information, and to request complimentary educator admission, visit the Museum’s Education Admission Request page.

foreign language for homeschoolersForeign Language for Homeschoolers

Fun Fluency (held at Lakeland Church)
440 Hunt Club Rd, Gurnee | (847) 856-1240
Fun Fluency offers the following classes for Homeschool families at Lakeland Church in Gurnee:

  • High School/Junior high level 1 Conversational Spanish
  • High School Level 2 Conversational Spanish (open to Junior high age)
  • High school level 3 Conversational/College prep Spanish
  • Elementary Immersion Spanish level 1
  • Pre-K/Kindergarten immersion Spanish
  • Elementary Immersion Spanish level 2 advanced.

Fun Fluency’s owner, Anne Dunn, was previously featured as a Little Lake County Mompreneur.

Lil Language Scholars
In addition to location-based language classes, Lil Language Scholars offers online Spanish classes for homeschoolers. The Spanish @Home program includes weekly lessons with homework your child can email back to us for corrections and a monthly conversation phone call to practice what they are learning. See Link above for how to receive a sample beginner lesson.

Lil Language Scholars owner, Paula Fortini, was previously featured Lake County Mompreneur.

Language Stars
Language Stars is a play-driven foreign language class for kids between the ages of 1 and 10 years old.  They call their method, FunImmersion®, and teach language through the use of games, art projects, music and more.  Spanish, Mandarin, French, German and Italian language instruction is offered. There are 12 locations in Chicagoland, including Barrington and Deerfield/Lake Forest.

Loralie shares her previous experience with Language Stars.

hisotry and geographiy trips for homescchoolersHistory and Geography Trips for Homeschoolers

Lake County Discovery Museum
27277 N Forest Preserve Rd, Wauconda | (847) 968-3400
The Lake County Discovery Museum is a public educational institution devoted to preserving history through its collections and the presentation of inspiring exhibitions. Hands-on interactive exhibitions introduce the history and culture of Lake County in a fun learning environment. The museum is FREE on Tuesdays for youth up to age 17.

Raupp Museum (operated by the Buffalo Grove Park District) 
901 Dunham Ln, Buffalo Grove, IL | (847) 459-2318
The Raupp Museum offers educational programs for homeschool associations and community groups. Programs are available Monday through Friday during school hours for students in preschool through 8th grade. Please call Debbie Fandrei at 847.850.2135 to schedule a program.

Civil War Museum
5400 1st Ave., Kenosha, WI | (262) 653-4141 
The museum focuses on the Civil War from the perspective of the people of the six states of the upper Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. These six states sent over 750,000 men to serve in the Union army while providing much of the food and raw materials necessary for the northern states to carry on the war. Through personal stories and narratives, the Museum explores how people on the Western home front were impacted before, during, and after the war.  Admission is FREE for youth ages 15 and under.

Kenosha Public Museum
5500 1st Ave, Kenosha, WI | (262) 653-4140
This FREE Museum includes 1,200 works in the fine arts collection and over 80,000 other pieces. Visitors can learn about mammoths, world cultures, Native Americans, zoology, geology, fossils, and fine and decorative arts.

Homeschool Days 
Old World Wisconsin

W372 S9727 Wisconsin 67, Eagle, WI | (262) 594-6301
Homeschool Days are specially designed field trip days for small educational groups.  Your visit is self-guided and more flexible than other structured field trip options.  Because there are no other field trips scheduled during Homeschool Days, students enjoy the same activities of field trips with interpreters but move at their own pace.   Students can visit their choice of areas including:

  • The 1880’s Village
  • The Norwegian Area
  • The German Area
  • Caldwell Farmer’s Club Hall and Sanford Farm

Old World Wisconsin was previously featured as a Little Lake County Worth the Trip experience.

Science and Math for HomeschoolersScience and Math for Homeschoolers

Homeschool Companion by the Lake County Forest Preserves
(check event calendar for dates and locations)
Homeschool companion is a monthly enrichment class hosted by the LCFPD. Subjects and locations vary and advanced registration is required.  There are many other programs that are offered during school hours such as Wildlife Tracking, Hikin’ Tikes, and Maple Syrup Hikes are just a few examples of how LCFPD programs are like outdoor science classes.

Homeschool Field Trips
Chicago Botanic Garden

1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe | (847) 835-5440
Guided programs are led by trained facilitators who engage students with hands-on activities aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and that focus on the plants and habitats found at the Garden. Field trips include outdoor exploration activities.  Workshops are 60 minutes long unless otherwise noted.

Prairie Grass Nature Museum (operated by the Round Lake Area Park District)
860 Hart Rd., Round Lake | (847) 740-9823
Inside this FREE museum, are animal habitats, live animals, and hands-on activities, along with a variety of nature-related programs for families and adults year-round. See their current class schedule and register at their website.

STEM Day for Girls
College of Lake County

19351 West Washington Street, Grayslake | (847) 543-2000
This day is designed to motivate girls interested in STEM careers to become innovative and creative thinkers.  Students will be introduced to a variety of topics through hands-on activities and inspiring presentations.  This FREE event is for girls in grade 7 – 12 on Saturday, February 27, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

STEM Speaker Series
College of Lake County

19351 West Washington Street, Grayslake | (847) 543-2000
Learn from knowledgeable content experts, who will provide a fresh perspective on an important STEM-related subject. This is an opportunity for college and high school students to learn more about potential careers in STEM fields. Local educators can also gain insight into the role of science in society.  Check online for dates each semester to explore a wide range of topics including engineering, materials chemistry, robotics, epidemiology, nanotechnology and an overall understanding of STEM opportunities.

Wildlife Discovery Center (operated by the City of Lake Forest Parks, Forestry, and Recreation)
1401 Middlefork Dr, Lake Forest | (847) 810-3663
The WDC offers a variety of programs for homeschool groups.  Programs include tours, hikes, wildlife identification, classes and even outreach.  The WDC is a nature center, zoo, museum, and biological preserve all wrapped into one. For more information, contact Rob Carmichael, Curator, [email protected].

Homeschool Learning LabsMuseum of Science and Industry
5700 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago | (773) 684-1414
Individual homeschool students are invited to register for specially scheduled learning labs. Call (773) 684-1414 to reserve a spot. Labs are limited to 20 students on a first-come, first served basis.  Please check the grades targeted by Illinois Learning Standards to help determine the appropriate lab experience for each student. Read about my family’s homeschool trip to MSI.

Homeschool WednesdaysLegoland Discovery Center
601 N. Martingale Rd, Schaumburg | (847) 592-9700
In the workshop for 1st graders, students build LEGO spinning tops, collect data on whose design spins the longest, and learn about the forces that affect their top’s performance.  Reservations must be made 2 weeks in advance.  There is a minimum of 10 people needed to run a class.  If the minimum is not met, classes may be rescheduled.  Price is $10 per person and includes admission and choice of 1 workshop (adults and children.)  Visit the website for details.

Learning Labs and Educator DiscountsShedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago | (312) 939-2438
Learning Lab Guides introduce concepts to students in grades 6-12 before their visit in preparation for this hands-on learning experience.  And, on 52 days throughout the year, Illinois residents with a valid ID receive FREE general admission or discounted upgraded admission to the aquarium. On all other days, educators from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin can register to receive a voucher for a complimentary Shedd Pass ticket.

Learning Collection
Field Museum
1400 S. Lake Shore Drive., Chicago | (312) 922-9410
From a skunk specimen to SUE’s tooth to a ceremonial mask from Cameroon, the N. W. Harris Learning Collection at The Field Museum gives educators and parents a chance to take the Museum’s collection to their classroom or home.  Borrow these specimens,  artifacts, and related curricular materials for up to one month, and when you return your borrowed treasures, peruse the over 100-year-old Learning Collection to take something new.

Literature activities for homeschoolersWriting, Language Arts, and Literature for Homeschoolers

Homeschool Companion
Lake County Discovery Museum
27277 N Forest Preserve Rd, Wauconda | (847) 968-3400
Located in Lakewood Forest Preserve, the Lake County Discovery Museum has been selected as the host site in the state of Illinois for “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare”, a national traveling exhibition on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library. The exhibit will feature one of the world’s most famous books, the” First Folio’, without which we would not have most of Shakespeare’s works. The exhibition will be available and FREE to the public February 3–28, 2016.   Homeschool students ages 5-12 can learn about this rare book’s importance through hands-on activities on February 17. Cost is $5.00 per student and includes museum admission.  Advanced registration is required.

Homeschool Resource Center
Johnsburg Public Library (McHenry County)
3000 N Johnsburg Rd, McHenry | (815) 344-0077
In 2001 the Johnsburg Public Library received a $55,000 grant to establish a Homeschool Resource Center.  With the HRC’s materials you can ‘”try before you buy” a wide variety of curriculum materials including Sonlight, Alpha Omega, Rosetta Stone, Singapore Math or Five in a Row and see if they are right for your family’s unique needs before you start spending a lot of money on things that may or may not work.  Items available in the HRC include:

  • books and magazines about homeschooling
  • curriculum materials for all grade levels and in many formats including book, video, and computer-based materials
  • science equipment such as glassware, microscopes and telescopes and kits for learning about everything from DNA to optics
  • math manipulatives
  • educational board games, software, and music
  • catalogs from homeschool suppliers

An educational consultant is also available for free one-on-one meetings in the Homeschool Resource Center on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. To schedule an appointment please call the library at 815-344-0077.  The educational consultant is a volunteer and not a Library District employee.

Homeschool Support
Round Lake Area Public Library
906 Hart Rd, Round Lake | (847) 546-7060
Join the library staff for some tips on how to use different websites for researching your New Year homeschool projects on January 15.   This program is for students ages 9-14.  Registration is limited. Register by phone at 847-546-7060 or online.

Homeschool Support
Grayslake Area Public Library

100 Library Ln., Grayslake | (847) 223-5313
The Library hosts many programs to assist homeschooling families, including a Homeschool Informational Meeting to heighten awareness about library resources, conduct tours of the library and share information about the services offered to homeschoolers.  With seven days advance notice, the youth services department will also develop “Books Bags” for homeschool families which include, easy readers, DVDs, and other resources that will enhance any area of study.  Items may be checked out with a valid library card and by completing a Teacher’s/Homeschooler’s Loan Request form online.  The library’s website also provides resources to various homeschool organizations.

Read to Succeed
Six Flags Great America
Read to Succeed is an exciting program that encourages students in grades K through 6 to read for fun. Students who complete six hours of recreational reading earn a free ticket to Six Flags! The program is available to home educators at no cost to participate.  Register online.

Homeschool WednesdaysLegoland Discovery Center
601 N. Martingale Rd., Schaumburg | (847) 592-9700
Second, thru 6th-grade students will take inspiration from MINILAND and recount and experience they have had in their city.  They will build their characters, setting and plot using LEGO elements.  They will also write about their experience using their model as a visual referencing tool and share their story with others.  Reservations must be made 2 weeks in advance.  There is a minimum of 10 people needed to run a class.  Price is $10 per person and includes admission and choice of 1 workshop (adults and children.)

Physical Education for HomeschoolersHealth, Fitness and Physical Education for Homeschoolers

Community Workshops
Bass Pro Shops
(at Gurnee Mills)
6112 W. Grand Ave, Gurnee | (847) 856-1229
Every Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Bass Pro offers FREE fishing workshops for children, adults, and anyone who wishes to attend. No reservations needed! Every week is a different topic.  In addition, the shop offers archery lessons in their upstairs range for a fee.  The range is open to the public and reservations are recommended.  Call the store for details at (847) 856-1229.

Family Archery Classes
Kenosha Bowmen

15211 75th St., Bristol, WI | (262) 857-9908
Family Archery classes meet 1 day a week for 3 weeks.  Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult who also participates in the class.  Youngest participants must be mature enough to focus on the hour-and-a-half of class activity and strong enough to independently pull and hold our mini bows.  Recommended age minimum 8 years old.

Gym & Swim
Wheeling Park District

333 W. Dundee Road, Wheeling | 465-3333
The Arctic Splash indoor pool and gymnasium are available to enrich homeschooler’s physical education curriculum during open swim and open gym times.  To schedule a swim time, call 847-465-3333.

HRK Eagles (Home Run Kids, Inc.)  Gurnee & Libertyville
Gurnee: Gurnee Community Church,  4555 Old Grand Ave., Gurnee
Libertyville: Libertyville Sports Complex, 1950 N. Highway 45, Libertyville
Sports offered include Boys Flag Football, Girls Volleyball, Boys and Girls Basketball, Boys and Girls Track, and Boys Volleyball.  Participants must be homeschooled in at least one academic class.  HRK competes against other homeschool programs, small private schools, and Christian schools. Many of the grade school teams compete against schools in the Lake County Catholic/Christian conference.

Homeschool Martial Arts Program
Northshore Academy of Martial Arts
281 Peterson Rd., Libertyville | (847) 573-1672
Two Lake County Homeschool program options are offered for children ages 3-17 years old.  Students can attend at the Libertyville facility or instructors can teach on-site.  Martial Arts Home School Classes can be custom tailored to meet the needs of any Home Schooling Network. Some Lake County Home School Organizations may lean toward a more “Self-Defense” oriented program. Other groups tend to focus on the “physical fitness” approach to the Martial Arts. Many Home Schoolers choose to move forward with our Core Lake County Martial Arts Little Dragons, Youth and Teen Martial Arts Programs.

Horseback Riding Lessons
Heavenly Horses
19203 W Grass Lake Rd., Lake Villa | (847) 867-6656
Group lessons are 90 minutes in length. 60 minutes of instruction and 30 minutes of groundwork (15 minutes before and after the scheduled lesson time for grooming, tacking, bathing, and grazing). A variety of lesson levels are offered Monday through Friday starting at 3:45 p.m. and Saturday starting at 8:45 a.m. Several daytime options to homeschooled students to meet their physical education requirements are also available.

Upward Sports
Locations vary by program.
Established in 1995, Upward Sports is the world’s largest Christian youth sports provider. Upward Sports is the only organization that offers the 360 Progression™, a sports experience that adapts and expands as players grow in their personal athletic journeys. The 360 Progression develops athletes mentally, athletically, spiritually, and socially.  Sports teams available in Lake County include basketball and soccer for boys and girls in kindergarten – 8th grade.

Foss Swim School
Foss offers private and group lessons at locations in Libertyville, Highland Park, and South Barrington. Read about Melissa’s experience there.

lake county homeschool co-ops and support groupsHomeschool Co-ops and Support Groups

Most homeschool co-ops will begin the registration process this spring for the 2016-17 school year.  If you are considering participating in a co-op next year, now is the time to schedule a visit and familiarize yourself with the registration process.

Apple Tree Christian Homeschoolers, Inc., Lake Villa
Apple Tree is an enrichment-based co-op for 1st – 12th grades.  Students participate in art, music, PE, and alternating unit studies in either science, literature, or history.  Apple Tree meets in Lake Villa on Wednesdays from 8:45 a.m. -2:00 p.m. during the months of September – April.  Fees are based on the number of enrolling families and can change annually.

Classical Consortium Academy (held at The Village Church of Barrington)
The Village Church of Barrington, 1600 East Main Street, Barrington
The Classical Consortium is a one-day-a-week, comprehensive, academic program that follows a classical method in both the subjects taught and how those subjects are taught. Students are in Classical Consortium classes on Mondays and are responsible to accomplish homework from those classes during the week under their parents’ supervision. Classical Consortium serves students in 3rd – 12th grades and meets from late August until late May at Village Church of Barrington. Students are in class from 8:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

H.E.A.R.T. (Homeschool Enrichment Achieved Respectfully Together – held at The Village Church of Barrington)
The Village Church of Barrington, 1600 East Main Street, Barrington
H.E.A.R.T. is a nine-month, weekly program for homeschooled children in kindergarten through 8th grade that supplements the teaching they receive at home. Students in K-4th grade receive qualified instruction in the areas of art, science, Spanish, and physical education.  Students are also able to take a class in music, drama, performance, or Bible study. In addition, K-3rd-grade students are exposed to a wide variety of other subjects during month-long unit studies taught by parent volunteers.  Fourth through eighth-grade students receive teaching in the areas of physical education, Spanish, apologetics/speech, and performance or Biblical study. They may choose to take classes in fine art, sewing, wood-sculpting, home economics, 3D art, or strategic games.

Lake County H.O.U.S.E. (Home-Oriented Unique Schooling Experience)
Lake County H.O.U.S.E. provides many clubs and field trip experiences organized by and for its members and others in the homeschool community, as well as a dialogue concerning homeschool interests and educational opportunities in the Lake County and Chicagoland areas.  Membership is $7 per family per year. No one is obligated to attend any functions or take on any position. Contact the group organizer for information.

Indian Hill Homeschool Group
Classes are available on Monday, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.  Tuesday classes are available for grades Pre-K through High School. Monday and Thursday classes are for junior high and high school. Families do not need to commit to a full day of classes and may register for one or multiple classes based on each family’s needs.   To be notified of class offerings and registration for 2016-2017, please send an email to I[email protected].  Include name, email address, and age(s) of children. Registration begins early in the spring semester.

**Editor’s Note added 2/20/2016: 
1st Annual Unschooler’s Platform Conference
Monday, February 22, 2016 – Thursday, February 25, 2016


Key Lime Cove Water Resort Editor’s Note- Closed as of 2017.
Join the Unschooler’s Platform on February 22-25 at the KeyLime Cove Water Resort.  This conference will bring people together who support the choice to homeschool, unschool and/or life learning — enabling empowerment and celebration. With their guest speakers, family dance, family craft fair, water park, and vendor hall make this event fun and educational for the whole homeschooled family.  Key Lime Cove has special group rates for this event. Call 224-656-8685 to register and book your hotel room.

Do you know of a resource for Lake County homeschoolers not included in our guide?  Please share with our readers in the comments! 

We are grateful to Brainstorm in Lindenhurst for making this Homeschool Guide possible.  With over 9,000 square feet of educational materials including workbooks, content-based games, science materials, math manipulatives, lesson plan books, and organizational products, they have all the items you need to enhance your homeschool curriculum.  Their wide assortment of educational games and specialty toys along with free gift wrap should make them your first choice when seeking a special gift item. 

Photo Source Brainstorm, Inc. on Facebook
Photo Source Brainstorm, Inc. on Facebook

625 N. Bridgeport Terrace, Lindenhurst
(847) 265-0610 | Facebook

Disclosure: Brainstorm is the paid sponsor of the Little Lake County Homeschool Guide


About Genevieve 43 Articles
Genevieve is mom to 3 future world leaders and wife to one really funny guy. A public health worker turned stay-at-home mom, she spends her days navigating life in a busy household. She loves mornings, exercise, God, America and chocolate. She hates scary movies, spiders, airplane rides and writing bios.

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