Symbaloo for Homeschool

Symbaloo for Homeschool

The apps and extensions I most appreciate in my homeschool are those which help keep me organized. And one of the most incredibly useful programs I’ve discovered in the past few years is the free tool Symbaloo.

The idea behind Symbaloo is to help organize and easily access the sites and programs we use most frequently. AND, as an even bigger bonus, we can then share our Symbaloo “webmixes” with others – – which comes in amazingly handy when homeschooling 1 or more students.

Get started with Symbaloo

If Symbaloo is brand new to you, I recommend watching their introduction video.

Then, it’s as easy as setting up your account and starting your very first webmix. For more tutorials on Symbaloo specifics, explore their YouTube Channel.

Top three ways I find myself using Symbaloo for homeschooling

  1. To Get Answers Quickly

screenshot-www.symbaloo.com 2015-08-25 13-41-37No matter what we’re studying, and no matter what curriculum we’re using to study it, my kids are always going to
have questions that aren’t answered in the text. So to prepare for that, I’ve created some Symbaloo webmixes to make it easy to follow our curiosities about everything from when Legos were invented to where Beatrix Potter was born. For example, my “reference tools” webmix is full of kid-friendly sites where we can get quick answers to questions that pop up as we’re going through a lesson. (By the way, Legos were invented in 1932 and Beatrix Potter was born in Kensington, London!)

2. For Unit Studies

One of my favorite parts of homeschooling is when we do unit studies. Instead of folloscreenshot-www.symbaloo.com 2015-08-25 13-51-17wing a defined curriculum, we are able to take a given subject or theme and explore it until every one of our curiosities about it is exhausted. We do several of these each year to “spice up” our homeschool experience, and usually my children will vote for the subjects they want to cover. I’ve created Symbaloo webmixes for each of these units, including ones for nocturnal animals, computer coding, World War 2, and the rainforest. Spending just a little time getting those webmixes set up saved me hours of frustration as we studied each unit in detail. Plus, because Symbaloo makes it so easy to share webmixes, my kids can explore all the resources I’ve collected on their own time as well! 

3. For Safe Surfing

screenshot-www.symbaloo.com 2015-08-25 13-41-37Young kids are excited to learn on the web, but my youngsters aren’t allowed to just surf freely without boundaries. Symbaloo takes care of that. By creating webmixes of sites and games that I know are free of adware, commercial messaging, and phishing, they are able to access fun and educational internet content without accidentally landing on a site that is inappropriate for them.

Top Symbaloo Webmixes for Homeschool

One of the most exciting things about Symbaloo is that if you don’t have time to create your own webmixes, it’s unlikely you need to. You can let others do that work for you by searching through thousands of publicly shared webmixes by keyword in the Symbaloo Gallery. Some of my absolute favorite homeschool webmixes are:

 Symbaloo on Chrome

screenshot-www.time4writing.com 2015-08-25 14-54-28As if it weren’t easy enough to use Symbaloo, let’s take it one step further and talk about using Symbaloo on a Chromebook. The Symbaloo Bookmarker extension, available in the Chrome web store, allows you to add sites to your webmixes right from where you are.

Simply click on the extension icon in your toolbar, and you will receive a pop-up dialogue for choosing exactly how to label the tile and which webmix to add it to. Genius!

 

Top Sites and Apps for teaching Phonics on a Chromebook

We have spent a good deal of time discussing the use of Chromebooks to homeschool older students. But what about those who are just learning to read? Of course, we want these young learners to get a solid foundation on which to base a lifetime of learning. For this reason, one of my favorite phonics sites is Spelling City.

Not Just Fun and Games

At first glance, one might think that Spelling City is all game-based learning. However, with a few mouse-clicks you’ll soon discover articles meant to inform the educator and enable them to understand the way their students learn. There is also the ability to print handwriting worksheets based on the spelling lists you create. There are also plenty of fun games to facilitate the learning.

A Few Apps for You

We have a love affair with apps in our modern technology saturated world. So it’s not surprising that there are chromebook apps for even the youngest of tech users.

  • The Hungry Slug is a matching game that provides practice for early reading.
  • Kid Phonics is a game based app intended to teach kids beginning sounds on up to learning to read.
  • Max Phonics Games is listed under puzzle & brain. This app uses games to give kids phonics and reading practice.
  • The Montessori Method is used in  AbiTalk Phonics Vowels to teach phonics and spelling.
Learning Games for Kids

Included are a number of phonics games, songs, videos and even printables. This site alone could keep your child occupied and learning for hours.

Vocabulary.co.il a sister site to Learning Games for Kids also has a wonderful variety of educational games geared specifically to all that relates to learning to read and build vocabulary. There is an extensive list of articles for vocabulary building resources on the right side of the site. This can serve as a go-to resource for anyone teaching reading and vocabulary.

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that with Chromebook for kids even our youngest students can build a great foundation.

Chrome Extensions Every Homeschooler Needs

chrome extensions every homeschooler needs

I got my first Chromebook this past weekend. Since I am a homeschool mom who loves to write and loves tech, it made sense to start a blog about how homeschoolers can get the most out of their Chromebooks. This first post will center on  some Chrome Extensions that every homeschooler should have in their arsenal.

  • Grammarly is an excellent extension that analyzes your text as you type. It notifies you not only of contextual misspellings but also checks your grammar and offers an alternative. This is a great way for kids to learn grammar even as they write.
  • Evernote Web Clipper Most of us are familiar with Evernote and how it works. This extension clips articles and pages from the internet to save in Evernote. If your student does a lot of online research, this could be a very useful tool.Find Out Which Chromebook Is Right For Your Homeschool
  • HomeworkSimplified Many homeschool moms are busy wrangling toddlers, assisting younger children with school work and just trying to keep their sanity. This extension installed to your older student’s computers will allow them to have more independence in completing tough homework assignments.
  • Dictionary and Thesaurus It should be obvious how this extension would be helpful to anyone, not just students. You can highlight a word in any website and then right click to get a dropdown with the Dictionary Lookup option included.
  • Kindle Books What homeschool mom doesn’t love books? And what homeschool mom doesn’t love freebies? This extension allows you to search for Kindle books right from your browser. This can be a boon for those students catching up on their reading for language arts classes.
  • SpeakIt! For those reluctant readers, this extension allows the web page to be read to them.

I hope that you find these extensions helpful in your daily homeschooling life. Please feel free to comment and let me know of any extensions you have found helpful for use with your Chromebook and homeschooling.