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!

 

Organizing Your Homeschool Day on a Chromebook

While Chromebooks are wonderful for students, they are awesome for parents, as well. Since everything is synced in the cloud, any organization you do on your Chromebook is accessible on your tablet and phone as well. That is a huge deal for on-the-go homeschool parents, because saving the time of your daughter’s recital to your computer-based calendar means you may or may not remember the correct time if you don’t have access to that specific computer at the moment. A Chromebook puts an end to scheduling snafus like that.

Organizing Your Schedule

For keeping track of appointments, co-op classes, and homeschool p.e., there is simply no better tool than Google Calendar. My favorite features are:

  • the ability to send multiple reminders to yourself by email, computer pop-up, and phone notificationsGoogle Agenda View
  • being able to invite others to your events (want to make sure your son doesn’t schedule something for the same time as his dentist appointment? invite him to the dental appointment event and it will automatically add itself to his calendar when he accepts)
  • being able to view your day in “agenda” mode so you can see everything you have planned for the day at a glance
Organizing Your Lessons

Google Drive absolutely transformed the way our family homeschools. For one thing, we’ve likely saved a full year of college tuition thanks to cloud storage vs all that printer ink. Paperless storage is a modern miracle, I tell you! Some of the main ways we use Google Drive for homeschooling are:Homeschool Lesson Planner Template

  • Keeping daily lesson plans for each child (there are even free homeschool lesson plan templates for this, so you don’t have to create your own from scratch!)
  • Having students complete their writing assignments in Drive, and sharing them with a parent’s Drive account so you can immediately view and/or grade them
  • Keeping high school homeschool transcripts updated
  • Organizing research (links, book titles, magazine articles) for upcoming learning units and activities

Pick your homeschool chromebook