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:
- Homeschool websites
- Educational websites
- Online children’s books
- Word games
- Elementary science
Symbaloo on Chrome
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.
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!