The new YouTube Gaming app and website kicks off today, August 26! It is likely to be a huge hit among teens and preteens, so why not take advantage of your homeschooler’s avid interest in video gaming by integrating the new platform into your educational goals for this homeschool year?
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
To Get Answers Quickly
No 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 following 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
Young 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:
As 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.
As I do research for this blog, I see the concept of the flipped classroom everywhere. Since many homeschoolers are out of touch with the public education scene, we have no idea what this means. So in this post I want to explore,
At its most basic, a flipped classroom is one where the instruction happens outside the classroom and students do their “homework” in the classroom. Since most homeschools utilize the world at large as their classroom, how is this supposed to work? Obviously, you will not be using an actual classroom. However, we can still take this concept and apply it to our homeschool. Chromebook is the perfect tool for making this happen.
What Would This Look Like?
Here is an example of how this might look in the homeschool setting. Using their Chromebook, you have your student do their assigned instructive activities from their online homeschooling programs, say Time4Learning.com. Once that is done, you sit down with your student and discuss what they learned. You might even have them complete a worksheet which is often included with the lesson activities. You have just employed the model of the flipped classroom.
What Ages Can This Benefit?
This pattern of teaching can be used with both younger students as well as teens. I would suggest that you sit with the younger student as they complete the instruction activities. Also, their instruction, discussion, and homework times will be shorter to accommodate their shorter attention span.
As their attention span lengthens and your students are able to be more independent, you would spend less time instructing them, allowing the Chromebook to do that job, and more time discussing with them what they learned.
What are the Advantages to This Teaching Model?
This teaching model allows you to be sure that your students have understood the concepts before you move on. They will be less frustrated with the homework they are assigned because you have made certain that they understand the instruction they received.
As your student completes the instruction, they can write down any questions they have. You can then answer those questions during your discussion time with them.
Many of us are already using this model in some form. Now you know what to call it!
You may be wondering, how to use Chromebook to teach science? Well, that’s an easy one to answer! Educational apps! You can use them to supplement your regular online homeschooling program and do labs separately. Science Journal is a great app that can help keep track of observations and data collection. If your kids, like mine, who are reluctant to write all that information on the traditional charts, this app will help make the process fun.
For the Older Students
Most high school students take biology at some point. Biodigital Human can make this a more interesting study. It is a 3D platform of the human body. It has 1000s of interactive models to enhance your student’s learning.
Working on that Chemistry credit? Struggling to learn the periodic table? Useful Periodic Table can come to the rescue! This app has an elements quiz built in to help learn all those confusing elements.
Level Up in Math & Science is useful for students who need to brush up on their science and math understanding, perhaps in preparation for ACT or SAT testing.
Does your student simply need some extra homework help? Amazing Science by Eduvee could become their go-to resource. This app covers topics in the sciences of chemistry, biology, and physics.
Elementary Age Scientists
Elementary Age Scientists will appreciate the Kids Measurement Science app which teaches them to measure length, weight, time, and money.
There are some wonderful apps to get your little ones excited about science as well. Sorting for Early Science helps younger students learn to classify objects by living or nonliving, plant or animal, fruit or vegetable and so on. Pairing for Early Science is a similar app where children learn to match items with the appropriate label. Both of these apps are intended to build early science skills.
Everyone Can Have Fun With Science
Planetarium is an app that allows you to explore the night sky. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? You might even find yourself wanting to take over your student’s Chromebook so you can enjoy some of these apps yourself!
Okay, so you’ve been convinced that Chromebooks are a magnificent tool for homeschooling. Now you are wondering just what curricula works best with a Chromebook. I’m so glad you asked! Online homeschooling programs are a particularly good fit for this tech. There are a few to choose from, but a couple of my favorites are Time4Learning and Spelling City.
Time4Learning Homeschool Curriculum for Chromebooks
The reasons I love Time4Learning are many. This program is quite adaptable to each student’s needs. Student’s can move at their own pace, or the pace their parents set for them. There are lots of fun videos and graphics for the younger ones and video lectures for the older students. One of the features I like best about this program is the automated reporting. This curriculum keeps track of how long my students spent on each lesson and the grade they made if it is a graded activity. I can then print these reports or save them in PDF format which could be stored in my Google Drive for easy future access.
Homeschool Spelling Curriculum for Chromebooks
Spelling City is more than just a spelling curriculum. This site is wonderful for vocabulary building as well. There are tons of games in the free version to help your student master their weekly spelling lists. However, you don’t want to miss out on the many features included only in the Premium version. These features include vocabulary practice, extra games, printable handwriting sheets, and automated tracking of your student’s data. Can you tell that I dislike record keeping?
Either one of these curricula will have you well on your way to maximizing the potential of your Chromebook for homeschool.
While every homeschooler can benefit from using a Chromebook, high school students can gain extra advantages from using them. The teen years can be a very busy time even for homeschooled teens. Often they are ensconced in extracurricular activities which pull them from home on a regular basis. With a Chromebook, they could easily continue schooling on the go.
Most teens can homeschool independently, and a Chromebook can add just another dimension to that, especially when you factor in the apps for education that are so widely available.
One of my favorite apps and one that every student should be using is, Quizlet. This app is completely free and lets you study anything using six different study modes. Your student could use this app on their phone as well as their Chromebook.
Another essential for high school learning is the Vocabulary Spelling City Android app. If your student is college bound, it is essential that they build and maintain an expansive vocabulary.
GeoGebra is an interactive math software for learning all kinds of math. It works with Google Drive which makes it another great app for Chromebook users.
Make history come alive for your teen with TimeMaps: World History Atlas. This app has hundreds of maps that can be zoomed to different levels of detail and narrative.
This is just a small sampling of what is available to a high school student equipped with a Chromebook computer. It’s simply mind boggling the number of education apps available.
As homeschoolers, we are trying to make every dollar count. Often, we’re a one-income family, or sometimes combining two part-time incomes, but either way, when we make a purchase, we want it to be the right one.
For that reason, if you are looking at a Chromebook for your homeschooler, we want to help provide you with information that will help you decide which computer is right for your family.
Chromebooks $200 or less
As one of the least expensive Chromebooks on the market, this is an 11.6 inch model weighing less than 2 pounds which makes it ultra portable for on-the-go homeschooling. The C201 comes with 100 GB of Google Drive storage space, which means all your files and pictures can easily be stored in the cloud. It has a full-size keyboard so typing is a breeze. It comes with an integrated webcam for online courses or just chatting. This computer receives a 4.6 out of 5 star rating at Amazon.
This is also an 11.6 inch entry level Chromebook with built-in virus protection. With super-fast load time, this will get your favorite homeschool websites up and running in no time. It connects to wifi seamlessly, so it can become part of your home wireless network or can allow you to school anywhere there is an open connection. The CB3 features anti-glare coating allowing you to use the unit without distractions in well-lit areas. It weighs just 2.7 pounds and is less than 1 inch thick to make it perfectly portable. This computer receives a 4.6 out of 5 star rating at Amazon.
Chromebooks between $200 and $300
Featuring a dual-core processor, the CB35-B3330 is ready to tackle multiple internet tasks at once, but still maintains up to 7 hours of battery life per charge. This Chromebook is great for educational games with an oversized touchpad and full sized keyboard. The screen on this model is 13.3 inches which makes it ideal for watching educational video, and contains 2GB of memory which provides room enough to store files for a whole family. This computer receives a 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
LENOVO IDEAPAD N20P
One of the newest trends in Chromebooks is to offer them in a touchscreen version. That is what makes the Lenovo N20P unique in this category. It can serve as either a laptop or can convert into “stand mode”, depending on which way you fold the screen. Although only 11.6 inches screen width, the standalone option makes this model perfect for viewing movies or YouTube videos. But if you use a lot of touch-based applications, this is another reason to consider the Lenovo N20P. This computer receives a 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
Chromebooks over $300
ACER 15 CB5-571-C09S
The obvious next upgrade is to increase the screen size. At 15 inches, the Acer 15 will feel much more like a traditional laptop. This is the biggest screen available for a Chromebook. This model also offers 2 upward facing speakers, giving audio quality high priority. It also features the largest touchpad of any available Chromebook, which may appeal to users with larger hands or who just need more wiggle room when they tap, pinch, swipe, and scroll. This computer receives a 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon.