Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

Tech Tuesday: Finding Great Educational Apps February 21, 2012

Filed under: Technology — kirstenjoyhill @ 10:09 pm
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When we got our iPad last fall, it didn’t take me long to realize that finding good educational apps in the app store can be a frustrating experience.  I felt like I was wasting a lot of precious time sorting through page after page of apps, while finding few that would meet our needs.

I feel very fortunate to have discovered a great site — Apps for Homeschooling.  Site owner Jennifer has reviewed dozens of apps, maintains a page of free and sale price apps that is updated regularly, and regularly does give-aways or “tosses” for promo codes that can be used to get free apps.   This is really not just a site for homeschoolers — anyone looking for educational apps for their kids will find this site useful.

If you like Apps for Homeschooling on Facebook, you’ll see almost-daily alerts to these free and on-sale apps, as well as having the opportunity to jump in on promo-code “tosses”.  Even when you do find apps you like for your iPad, iPhone or iPod, it’s easy to be tempted to spend way too much money buying them all.  🙂   By checking the Apps for Homeschooling site or reading Jennifer’s posts on Facebook, I have gotten many, many apps for free or for a very low price.

Another site I recommend is Digital Kindergarten, a blog written by a Kindergarten teacher who uses iPads in her classroom.  Check out the two pages she mentions in this post for a long list of apps she finds useful.

I also take note when bloggers I already enjoy share about their favorite apps Carisa at 1+1+1=1 and Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler both share lists of apps they like.

As I mentioned in my first Tech Tuesday post, I have a Pinterest board dedicated to homeschool tech, including several links to posts or sites with lists of educational apps.  I’ll keep adding more as I find them!

What sites have you found to help you discover great apps?

I’m linking up with Tech Tuesday @ Sunflower Schoolhouse!


Resources for Learning the US States February 16, 2012

Filed under: Books,Technology — kirstenjoyhill @ 8:18 am
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Miss M is in the middle of her first big memory work project right now — learning the names and locations of all 50 states in the USA.  Our homeschool co-op does a geography challenge each year in May, and this is the challenge for students in second grade.  Miss M wanted plenty of time to prepare, so we started this in January.

The starting point for Miss M’s memorization efforts has been “The Little Man in the Map” by E. Andrew Martonyi.  Little Man in the Map gives readers memory clues in rhyme to remember the shape of each state.  It’s really quite clever.  The “little man” is made from the line of states from Minnesota down to Louisiana (Minnesota is the hat, Louisiana is the boot…can you see what the states in between might be?).   The “little man” comes to life and provides other clues — such as Tennessee and North Carolina being a table, with the four states beneath as legs.  So far this has been a really helpful method for Miss M to remember each state, and she has memorized more than half so far!

We’re reinforcing this learning with lots of fun games on the iPad and computer:

On the iPad, Miss M’s favorite app for state practice is Wood Puzzle.  Wood Puzzle has a practice mode and a quiz mode and involves dragging states to the right spot on the map.  It also has a mode for state Capitals.

We also have iTeachStates and TopoUSA.   Iteachstates has a few different modes, including dragging the states to the correct position and a multiple choice quiz.  TopoUSA involves helping a little plane fly to the correct state.

There are many other state geography games and learning apps available in the App Store.  One I’ve heard several friends say they like is “Stack the States”.  To be honest, I’ve been waiting to see if the full version would ever be available for free (I got the other state apps for free by downloading them on a day when they happened to be available with no charge).  Perhaps some day soon if it doesn’t go on sale I’ll drop the 99 cents for it so Miss M can try it.  🙂

Our site of choice for practicing states on the computer is the USA Geography section of Shepherd Software, a site with many free educational games for kids.  This site has practice games for learning states, capitals, and other geographical features such as lakes.  Games are available at several levels of difficulty.

If you are looking to practice with traditional paper maps, check out the free printable maps for the USA (and the rest of the world) at Education Place.

We may also consider purchasing a board game or two for additional practice.  I have 10 Days in the USA and Scrambled States on my Amazon wish list.

Do you have any favorite resources for learning the US States?

I’m linking up with this week’s Tech Tuesday @ Sunflower Schoolhouse!


Tech Tuesday – A New Meme! February 7, 2012

Filed under: Technology — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:02 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve been thinking about writing a series of posts on “techie” stuff we use in our homeschool.  I love reading about great iPad apps and educational websites on other blogs, so I am excited to share some of the discoveries we’ve made.  I was also thinking that “Tech Tuesday” or something similar would have quite a ring to it as far as blog memes go.  Well Honey at Sunflower Schoolhouse was kind enough to start just such a meme after I suggested it in the comments on her blog!

I’m linking up with her Tech Tuesday meme and plan to do so on a regular basis.

We got an iPad late last September.  It is such a wonderful tool for learning (and for fun!).  I asked each of my kids what his or her most favorite app is:

Miss M (age 7.5) said:”My Horse” — An app that simulates having a horse that you can feed, take care of and even take to horse riding competitions. It’s perfect for my horse-loving daughter. This is an app the potential for in-app purchases, but of course those need the parent’s password (and I am not sure that Miss M even realized until recently that it was possible to buy things). It hasn’t been a big deal for us. She is able to enjoy it without spending any real money.

Mr E (turns 5 next month) said: “Red Birds” (aka Angry Birds) 🙂  This one is a classic, and needs no explanation!  My boys love to run around the house pretending to be “red birds”.  The only problem with this is that they want Miss M to play the role of the pigs in the Angry Birds game.  That usually does not go over well!

Mr K (just turned 3) said: “Robots!” (aka Toca Robot Lab).  Toca Boca makes many innovative apps for kids, and Mr K enjoys all of Toca’s apps that we have purchased so far.  The Robot Lab involves constructing a robot from a selection of parts, then maneuvering this robot through a maze of sorts.

I’m not surprised that each of them picked an app that is mostly “for fun” — but they do all have more educational apps they enjoy too, and I’ll be featuring some of those in future Tech Tuesday posts.

I started a new Pinterest board for techie stuff today too.  I *think* you can see this even if you aren’t a member of Pinterest.

Do your kids have favorite apps or websites we should check out?