Infographic: Level Up Your Homeschool with YouTube Gaming

 

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?

 

Level Up Your Homeschool With YouTube Gaming

 

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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!

 

Three Reasons Every Roadschooler Should Own a Chromebook

Three Reasons Every Roadschooler Should Own a Chromebook

3 Reasons Every Roadschooler Should Own a Chromebook

Who wouldn’t want to be a roadschooler? Learning not by reading or hearing about the world, but by experiencing it for yourself. Having new adventures daily. Creating memories to last a lifetime. It’s hard to think of very many downsides to the roadschooling lifestyle, except perhaps that space is at a minimum. Whether traveling by car, van, or RV, a roadschooler has to carefully consider what items are necessary, and what items can be left behind. That’s exactly why a Chromebook makes an incredibly smart choice for any roadschooling family.

Here are three reasons why every roadschooler should own a Chromebook:

  1. Chromebooks take up less room than the average textbook. And yet they hold the ability to access the information of all the textbooks in the entire world! The average chromebook is approximately the length and width of a standard piece of paper and is less than an inch thick. And yet, it includes a full-size keyboard! That means it could fit easily in a backseat cargo holder, an underseat bin, or even in a large glovebox!
  2. Chromebooks will last the better part of a day’s drive. On a single charge, most Chromebooks will stay powered for 5-7 hours, which means that your homeschool student could complete a couple online courses, write a blog post, play several online games, and edit dozens of trip-related pictures without ever having to plug back in.
  3. Each student can have a separate account on a single Chromebook.  One of the greatest features of Chromebooks is the ability to create multiple user accounts and easily switch back and forth between those accounts. When you do that, the bookmarks and profile settings of each distinct user are remembered, so it’s like having a separate computer for each child – – no need to pack multiple computers!

If you are a roadschooler, and are considering a Chromebook, definitely explore our Online Store to find the Chromebook that best fits your needs. Also, bookmark each of these amazing roadschooling resources:

 

Chromebook in a Flipped Homeschool

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,

What is a Flipped Classroom?

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.

Flipped Homeschool
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!

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.

Unschooling with Chromebooks

Unschooling with Chromebooks

Child-led learning is taking the world by storm. Even in the world of public education, buzzwords like “maker spaces,” “individualized education,” and “self-directed learning” are everywhere. Thanks to non-traditional thinkers like John Holt, homeschoolers have long been aware that sometimes learning only “sticks” when students learn as a result of their innate curiosities.

Technology-based learning is a natural way for this student-directed trend to take hold. So,

How Unschoolers Can Use Chromebooks

Today’s students are digital natives. When students want to know something, they “google” it. Computers are basically curiosity fulfillment in bits and bytes.

Chromebooks, designed specifically as internet-focused laptops, are ideal for seeking answers to questions, researching topics thoroughly, and quenching that need-to-know! Built without the distractions and complexity of traditional computers, a Chromebook can be an unschooler’s ultimate tool in their toolbox.

Find Out Which Chromebook Is Right For Your HomeschoolRecordkeeping for Unschoolers on a Chromebook

Unschoolers usually aren’t tied to a formal curriculum, which means they need a more creative way of tracking what they are learning. The Google Drive Chromebook App can be an absolute lifesaver for recordkeeping because it requires no paper, is completely customizable, and 100% free to use.

You might decide to create a separate spreadsheet for each student with categories for math, science, language arts, and more. Then, whatever your child is currently learning about can be added into the appropriate category. Or maybe you prefer to simply keep a blog-style document for each student that you update daily or weekly with their ongoing activities. For high school homeschoolers, you can even create a transcript using Google Drive that is able to be shared with potential colleges.

Top Chrome Apps for Unschooling

If your self-directed learner hasn’t already discovered these awesome Chrome applications, now is the time to introduce him or her to them:

  • Spelling City makes learning spelling
  • Dinosearch is a child-friendly search engine based on Google, but which blocks out any sites unsafe for younger kids
  • Planetarium is like getting your very own interactive telescope that lets you know what you’re viewing as you view it
  • Pixton is a tool that lets students write their own graphic cartoons where the only limits are one’s imagination
  • Fraction Wall is a fun and interactive way to visualize fractions, decimals, and percents

 

Online Curriculum Using a Chromebook

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.

Chromebooks for Homeschooling High School

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.