Homeschool Programs in Central Iowa

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Updated: July 2, 2018

Central Iowa has so many different programs for homeschoolers! There are options for every interest, from zoo classes to performances to gym time.  Check out this list to find something your kids will enjoy.

Applause Series at the Civic Center

The Des Moines Civic Center Applause Series has shows for ages Pre-K through 12th Grade.  The Applause Series runs from January through May.  Each show listing gives the age range the show is geared for.  Adults need to accompany children and all children need to be at least 3 years old to attend.  When you sign up for a show, remember to check your email for the guide with helpful tips to help incorporate the show into your homeschooling lesson.

Cost $1

Must be at least 3 years old to attend

Blank Park Zoo Homeschool Safari

Homeschool Safari

Blank Park Zoo has super fun Homeschool Safari classes for homeschoolers.  The classes are divided by age with the break up being 5-6-year-old 7-9 years old and 10-12 year old.

The classes are from 1:30-3:45 on the second Friday of the month.  The Spring semester dates will be January 12, February 9, March 9, and April 13.

Cost per class is $12.80 for members/ $16.00 for non-members

Zoo Keeper 

For 13-17-year-old, the zoo offers a Zoo Keeper for a Day program.  This is a program for those who are interested in zoo keeping or working with animals in the future.  For more information on dates and cost, contact Angela Tague at

Also, keep an eye out for more information on their Homeschool Day celebrating Earth Day in April.  The theme this year will be “Party for the Planet”.

The Brenton Arboretum

Nature Club

While this is not specifically for homeschoolers, due to the timing of this, many homeschoolers enjoy Nature Club.  The Brenton Arboretum is a fun place to explore and hike.  Nature Club has a different nature theme each month that the children will explore.  During warmer weather, it is nice to bring your lunch to picnic near the playscape after Nature Club has ended.  Don’t forget to wear weather appropriate play clothes.

10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on the 2nd Friday of each month

Cost is free to members/ $5 for non-members

Center Grove Orchard

Home School Day

Learn about Iowa agriculture, crops and orchards. Some learning points will be: new vocabulary, using the five senses, observing weather conditions and discussing the production of the apple crop.

Each fall Center Grove Orchard offers a special day for homeschool families to visit and explore the farm. September 10 – October 5, 2018.

$7.95 per person ages 3 years and older.

Central IA Homeschool Band/Instrumental Music Classes

Differing from a Pre-k & younger elementary vocal-based music course, this is overall instrumental and music theory education; a combination of individual instruction and ensemble participation/interaction. To learn more and register visit their Facebook page here or join the private group here.

Des Moines Community Playhouse

Friday Funday

Interactive Theater Shows for Children Ages 4-6! Great for preschools, child care centers, kindergarten classes, and families. Join the Clubhouse at the Playhouse Gang each month as they dramatize a favorite story using their imaginations and the costume pieces and props they find in their Magic Trunk. A new story is presented each month, October through April. Children learn the Clubhouse pledge and secret handshake and listen for the word of the day.

9:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. on Fridays October through May.

Tickets are $6 for all ages.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden 

The 2018 Homeschool Day will be Friday, Sept. 21, 2018, from 10 a.m. to noon and will include guided tours, story time, discovery stations and other self-led activities.

Living History Farms

Homeschool Day

Living History Farms has 2 days each year (June and September) that they devote to homeschooling.  Come and explore hands on all that Living History Farms has to offer.

June 5 and September 7, 2018.

This program is for all ages.

Online registration opens a month before the date and ends at noon the day before.  If you register early, you receive $1 off admission.  The cost for members is free.

Local Libraries

Your local library offers tons of events and activities throughout the day including STEM programs, story times, hands-on learning, crafts and much more. Make sure to reach out to your library to get a calendar of their events. Some you may need to register for and some are drop-in.

Science Center of Iowa 

  • March 21, 9:45-10:45 am– Characteristics of Conductivity

Get an inside look into the work of an electrician. Learn about the flow of electrons and the components needed to complete a circuit. Investigate a variety of materials to discover characteristics of conductivity. Use what you have learned to create a paper circuit that you can take home. Follow up with a visit to Founders Hall to investigate circuit blocks.

  • April 4, 9:45-10:45 am – Mechanical Motion
    Get an inside look into the work of an engineer. Experiment with the four forms of mechanical motion; rotary, linear, reciprocating and oscillating. Build structures that will create a force to cause an object to move in one of these motions. Follow up with a visit to the Ball Wall to see mechanical motion in action.
  • April 18, 9:45-10:45 am – Fabrication Foundations
    Get an inside look in to the work of a construction manager. Bridges, roads, buildings and homes are created by combining or arranging parts. Fabrication involves making something by art or skill and labor. Build different types of structures using various materials and test them for efficiency. Follow up with using our Imagination Playground.
  • May 2, 9:45-10:45 am –  Robo Code
    Get an inside look in to the work of a computer programmer. Coding and programming are 21st century skills that are important to our society. Learn how to use computational thinking to program robots. Follow up with a showing of Dream Big in our Blank IMAX Dome Theater. (Member ticket price is $5.00. Non-member ticket price is $5.50.)

Register here.

Valley Community Center

Homeschool PE

Valley Community Center offers 8 week PE sessions for homeschoolers aged K through 12th grade.  During each 8 week session, children will be able to participate in different games such as basketball, volleyball, soccer and other sports.

11 a.m. to Noon on Tuesdays

Cost is $50 per child for an 8-week session.  There is a $5 family discount for each additional child.


Homeschool Tumbling

A popular homeschool tumbling program is held on Tuesday afternoons at the Walnut Creek Family Y. Classes last for a 10-week session. For more information about the homeschool tumbling program or to register, please contact Joanna Gilmore, Youth Development Coordinator, at 515-224-9901, ext. 223.

Member: $25, Non-member: $50

About the Author

Lori Joy is a homeschooling mom to two wonderful children. When she has some free time, she enjoys sewing, baking, and planning Disney vacations she sometimes gets to go on.



Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

4 thoughts on “Homeschool Programs in Central Iowa

  1. I am wondering if there is a secular/inclusive homeschool group in the Des Moines area?

  2. Thank you for posting this! We are new to homeschooling and looking for a group to join and meet other homeschoolers. Do you have any recommendations on how we find a group of other homeschool families? We live in the Urbandale/Waukee area.
    Thank you for your help!

  3. Thank you for posting this!
    Iowa State Extension and Outreach offers many youth programs and is trying to get a group stated in Altoona to meet once a week for 7 weeks to learn about food and nutrition and build self efficacy in kitchen skills. The program is called Kids in the Kitchen. Please reach out to if you are interested!

  4. Hello! Also looking for a secular homeschooling community in the Des Moines area. Tried PreK at Bergman and are considering options for kindergarten. Thanks!

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