The Homeschool Mom’s Guide: Using Online Images in Student Projects

Let’s face it, my friend. Our kids learn differently than we did at their age. They have access to all the information they need in their back pockets. They can run circles around us when it comes to navigating apps and computer programs. And they are bold about trying new learning webtools. [Related post: What Homeschoolers Don’t Know (& what they need]

And here we are, digital immigrants, with the duty to guide our digital natives toward healthy media habits and productive tech usage. We need to teach them how to use technology appropriately and responsibly. 

Now, you wouldn't want your child to walk into an art gallery and steal a picture off the wall, would  you? I'm pretty confident that you would want them to follow the law and be an upstanding citizen. But, have you taught them not to steal digital images? Do you know the rules and standards for using online images, video and music? 

Can you confidently direct your kiddos about the legal use of digital media in their learning projects so that they are not stealing someone else's property? Are you teaching them how to be an upstanding digital citizen? Read this guide to help your homeschoolers understand the rules about using online images in student projects.

One aspect of digital responsibility is knowing how to use technology and digital media in an ethical way. Your children need to understand that stealing another person’s work is a crime. And guess what, my homeschoolin’ momma friend….it’s up to you to make sure they know when it’s OK (and when it's not) to use online images for projects.

I’ve gathered some resources to help you guide your kiddos in digital responsibility. Gather your kids around and review this post together.

Understanding Copyright and Fair Use

It’s important that our kids understand the laws about copyright and fair use. Watch these videos and discuss whether you have been using digital media in an ethical way or if you need to make any changes.


Curtis, “The Visual Communication Guy”, developed a flowchart to help you determine “Can I Use That Picture?”. Zoom in on the chart with your kids and discuss the standards for using digital media for school projects. Is it OK? Have them show you the path on the flowchart that led them to their conclusion.  What if they wanted to use an image on a website for a business? Do the rules change?

Better safe than sorry

So, how do you make sure your homeschoolers can legally use an image, video or music you found online?

  1. Whenever possible, use public domain photos, video and music. Materials created by the federal government are all in the public domain. See the list below for more online sources for public domain images.
  2. If the media is not public domain, figure out the owner and ask permission to use the image.  Check out How To Track Down The Owner Or Source Of An Image To Get Permission To Use It On Your Own Website” to learn how.
  3. Give credit to the creator.  Cite the source within or at the end of your learning project. You can use this handy tool at to learn the correct format for citing a website. 
  4. When in doubt, don't use it!

Where to find public domain images for student projects

Note: Not all images at these sites are public domain images.

How to download the images to use in projects

Unsure how to even get a picture from the web to your project?  It's pretty easy.

  1. Search for an image
  2. Right click on the image you want and click ‘Save image as’.
  3. Choose the file location for saving and change the name if needed.

When you're ready to use the image in your project, retrieve it from the file location where you saved it.

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So, how about you? Have you been diligent about teaching your homeschoolers how to use digital media in an ethical way? Or is this all new to you? I'd love to hear about your experience with using digital images for student projects. Comment below.

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3 thoughts on “The Homeschool Mom’s Guide: Using Online Images in Student Projects”

  1. Isn’t it amazing that kids embrace technology the way they do? I never thought about teaching them about copyright on the imaging so thank you for sharing this! Glad to see you link up with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂

  2. This is great. I will have to spend time looking over it in more detail later. I know when I was teaching Social Studies, my students could not wrap their heads around copyright and plagiarism. I even did my Master’s Thesis on the subject of material on the Internet and after many lessons, it still didn’t stick.

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