Apps to Help the Homeschool Parent

We have previously discussed how the smartphone is now a part of our lifestyles and how much the apps there on can help us in our day to day activities. Here are some apps that simplify life and make it easier for the homeschool parent to function.

Clear 

Have you ever felt that thoughts are literally jammed so tight in your brain that you can not even retrieve one without pulling the string of a dozen others? Does this make you scatterbrained and unable to concentrate on the work that you actually should be doing in that instant? Clear is an app that can help you immensely. It is essentially a list app on the iTunes store.

The advantage it gives you as a multi tasking homeschool parent is it’s feature that allows you to create multiple lists in one place. This means you can have a list for your grocery store and a list for all the birthdays in the month of May in the same app. Much more convenient that multiple paper lists that are unwieldy and difficult to trace at the right moment.

MealBoard

If you want your children to eat healthy, but never seem to get the menu fixed, or get the right supplies when you shop, this is a life saver. MealBoard combines recipe management, meal planning, groceries and pantry management. You can manage your recipes, ingredients, food categories, meal types, stores, store aisles, and grocery items to cut time spent planning your meals.

Homeschool Helper 

This literally does what it’s name says as it is a feature rich app designed to assist with the many aspects of homeschooling. You can use this app to plan lessons, track student progress, calculate grades,  manage book lists, plan field trips, and keep track of tasks. 

BrainWave

Are you fed up of your children making a noise and unable to get any writing or reading work done? Try this app which plays soothing white noise combined with sounds designed to induce calm, creativity, energy or one of twenty-seven other moods. It allows you to relax as you focus on the work at hand and subconsciously on the BrainWave tune and just about drown out the noise your kids are making.

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Homeschooling the App Way

The smartphone is not just a part of your life, it can actually be a very helpful gadget in the homeschooling classroom. There are a number of apps on both iPhone and Android which can be used effectively as aids to teach your children in the homeschool way of life. While not all parents are fond of giving their children more time on the smartphone than they absolutely need to, perhaps it would be easier to let them use educational apps than simply the games that they like to play.

Primary School Apps

There are a number of educational apps geared towards primary school children. These help in attributes such as reading, practising number work, allowing them to learn the basic tenants of computer programming languages, using flash cards to help them pick up new vocabulary, teaching them association by allowing them to match up similar items, and a whole lot more. Most of these apps are usually available free, or at least have a good enough trial version that you can use.

Secondary School Apps

These apps are usually not free as they tend to be more in depth and subject oriented. You will find comprehensive Maths practice program apps, series of educational scientific videos, quizzes per grade on multiple subjects, apps that help the homeschool student knowledge about a specific topic of interest such as outer space, the way the human body works, and a whole lot more.

How to Find the Apps

A simple store search will garner a huge list of apps for you. It is a good idea to take a look at actual user reviews to get an approximation of what the app can do for your homeschool student. Using blog reviews of apps that other parents are using is also another good way to find not so obvious gems. These blog posts are usually easy to find under the search engine key word phrases in common usage. Basically head over to Google, or Bing or whatever else you use and type in the subject plus app and see what comes up. Then use your own judgement to get what suits your kids best.

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How to Schedule For Multi Grade Levels with Homeschool Students

If your state legally  requires you to give your homeschool students four to five hours of education per day, you may be going just a little crazy trying to fit that much time in to a multi grade homeschool classroom. Here is a simple secret. You don’t need to actually make them sit at their desks and study for all those hours each day. There are easier ways to handle this.

Limited Minutes a Day

Spend between three to five minutes a day with each of your preschool child on different subjects and skills. For First, Second and Thrird Grad ethe attention span and timing can be incleased to  ten to twnety minutes. Fourth, Fifth and Sixth graders can use a dose of twenty to forty minutes on a topic at a time. Seventh to Twelfth grades can handle forty five minutes to an hour with ease. You can rotate the one on one time for the smaller children between the elder ones.

Optimise the Time Used

Instead of making them sit at the desk for hours, you play to your strength of knowing their exact attention span. Now you fit in work such as improving small motor skills with hand writing pages, or making calculations faster with mathematics practice. The activity you pick will be in accordance to the grade and the subject. However you will encourage your child to work with you in the limited one on one time instead of making them all sit together for a fixed time period as a regular classroom.

Figure Out a Per Subject Plan 

You know the syllabus you need to cover, you know the time slots that you are going to use. Now if you have specific activities and topics cut out into sections as per the time you can just refer to this master plan and tell your homeschool student what they need to do next. Make it and stick it in a prominent visible place in the classroom. Explain how it works to your kids. Yes, it will be a comprehensive task and a time consuming one, but once it’s done you are set for the rest of the school year.

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Scheduling Multi Grade School Days for Your Homeschool Classroom

The primary goal when you are scheduling multi grade school days in your homeschool classroom is to keep it as simple as possible. Naturally the better you organize your plan and study materials the day before, the easier it will be for you to handle every thing that will come your way during the actual school hours. Here are some points to consider as you set your schedule.

Have a Fixed Starting Time

When you mentally know that everyone has to start at a specific time in the homeschool classroom, you can organize their work day better. You can have the naturally early risers work with you during the early morning half with you and the slow, later starters during the later half of the day. This will allow you enough time with each child individually when studying challenging and demanding study material.

One on One Time

Once you have asked them to finish the basic material you have set aside to cover for the day, you can take them individually for one on one time to solve doubts while the others work on more leisurely and creative projects. These projects could be related to a specific subject and outlined in advance. Some may need ongoing data readings like a scientific experiment that lasts a week and others may just be a single day’s craft work. Having the others all involved on one project allows you to spend independent time with a single child.

Give Them Breaks

When you find that a certain child is done with their work planned for the day, give them time off to do what they want to do. It could be extra reading, watching educational videos or anything else that you deem fit. In case they are lagging behind on what they need to finish for the day and enthusiasm levels have dropped considerably, you may like to give them a short unscheduled break. This will help end the monotony of the task and give them time to recharge before they come back to the given task with fresh eyes. Make sure that you give yourself adequate breaks through out the school day as well.

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Make Geology Exciting for Your Homeschool Students

Geology is an earth science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which they change. In essence this is the easiest science project that you can pick up as a homeschooling family. Basically you are studying, collecting and experimenting on rocks of different types that you can find on your outings to the park, in the backyard, or even a hike you take the homeschool students on. You can find new rocks and stones literally everywhere!

Find and Categorize Rocks in to the Basic Three Types

Encourage your children to look for different looking rocks on your outdoor escapades. Give each of them a strong bag which they can collect unusually shaped rocks in. These can be brought back home and split into the three basic types. Get them to understand what minerals can be found in different coloured rocks. It would be a good idea to show them some photographs of different mineral rocks on the internet before you take them out so that they have a better idea of what they are looking for. As an extra arts and craft activity, they can select the smooth stones and paint them to make different animal shapes.

Geodes Make Rock Study More Interesting

Geodes are essentially rocks with a hollow cavity inside a seemingly solid stone. These can be formed by by a gas bubble in a lava flow; by limestone being dissolved by an acidic substance; or by a shell not being filled completely with sediment when it is fossilized. So when you find a geode it is a good idea to put on some protective eye gear and use a rock pick to see what surprise you can find in the hollow cavity. Some crystal formations are really pretty. Naturally not all stones have geodes but there are speciality stores where you can get geodes for scientific study. Teach your homeschool students about the different things they can find inside a geode and encourage them to do rock surgery. They can record what they find with images to make up a larger study.

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Two Hands on Science Experiments For Homeschoolers

There is nothing like conducting experiments on your own to understand how certain scientific principles work. Here are two easy to conduct experiments that will be fun for your homeschool students to perform.

The Concept of Evaporation

Take two kitchen sponges of the exact same size. Place them on a plate and pour equal amounts of measured water onto them. Place one sponge under the glare of a lamp. Place the other under the draft of an electric table fan. Take a guess on which one will dry the sponge first.

Now measure the amount of time taken by both sponges to become absolutely dry again. Which of the two – heat or wind – worked faster for evaporation to occur. Was your guess correct? To add a variant to the experiment you can use both heat and wind to see how the time taken for evaporation in the sponges will be under both influences. Is the time shorter now? Or did it take longer. Keep playing with the variables and see how evaporation occurs under different circumstances.

Rising Heat Currents

This here is a simple experiment but will need adult supervision. Take a transparent, large glass beaker. Fill it with cold tap water with about one fourth of the top still empty. Now heat some water and add it to a smaller glass jar which is less than half the size of the other one. Now add some food colour to the hot water and seal it with a plastic cover. Now put the small jar inside the large beaker gently.

Remove the plastic cover as gently as you can without disturbing the water inside the small jar. As the convection current carries the hot water to the surface of the larger beaker you will be able to get a visual confirmation of the hot currents rising up over the cold tap water. The swirls are not only pretty to look at but also prove the scientific principle of hot air rising above cold water. Make sure that your homeschool students have the camera ready to take some special pictures and videos.

 

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Homeschool Science Games

Playing a game is much more fun than reading a lesson. With these homeschool science games you will make it so much more interesting for your homeschool students to pick up new facts and memorize old ones.

Elements Bingo

Memorizing the element table can be quite a tough task, and one that is not looked forward to. However if you develop a game of Bingo with the elements in the boxes rather than the usual numbers, it can become interesting. There are two ways to play this. You can use the regular Bingo tickets and call out the name of the element so that the corresponding element number may be crossed out. Or you can print out the elements in a customized bingo sheet and have the regular numbers called out. Both systems work well to match up corresponding elements with their numbers. Very little set up is required and if you have many kids playing together, you can see the competitive spirit rise.

Stacking Cups Food Chain

Learning about the different eating habits of living animals is always interesting. However you can make it even more fun and interactive when you play this game. Take the plant, herbivore, carnivore, scavenger and add the images as well as names to a simple set of cups. Now have your homeschool student stack the cups correctly to make up the food chain. Different animals can be set up on the cups and then you can allow your homeschool students to make up different food chains. Show them how some animals can fit in two of them. The biodiversity can also be explained. You can also use this method to teach the water cycle or other interdependent chains.

Cootie Catchers With Scientific Facts

Its easy to make Cootie catchers and that little bit of origami will be something your homeschool students enjoy doing in arts and craft. Now add science facts to each layer which should be interrelated in a certain manner and you can come up with a great many combinations that make scientific sense while playing a game that children really enjoy. You can get directions to make cootie catcher online and there are even some printed facts available on pinterest. 

 

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Simple Games to Keep Your Homeschool Kids Busy

If there is one thing that all children have in plenty it is energy. They can talk and jump and run circles around their parents till the parents feel dizzy. A good way to expend all this extra physical energy is to make your homeschool students play games in short break intervals all through the school day. This makes it easier for them to sit and pay attention in the next class as well. Here are some simple games that can be a whole lot of fun for the children, and maybe even the parent who decides to join them.

Ten Minutes of Bossy Ball

To prepare you need to get a bouncy ball and a list of actions such as hop on one foot, run around the room once, touch the front door and come back, do the chicken dance, etc. Now each slip of paper gets taped to the ball in layers. The ball is then bounced and the children get to chase after it and catch it. The child who catches the ball first gets to read and perform the action on the slip he unfolds. The action completed he then has the privilege of throwing the ball for the rest of the gang to catch. The process is continued till the timer that marks off ten minutes rings, signalling the end of the play break.

Indoor Basket Ball with a Trash Can

You can set up a half court game using a single trash can (please make sure that its actually empty and clean before letting the kids play with it) and a basket ball. Divide up the players into two teams and set the timer for ten minutes. The maximum number of baskets shot correctly made from a yard line wins. It can be adapted for play with a single child by simply marking off a distance from where the shot has to be made and counting the total number of shots he makes in two minute periods. That way the best phase can be identified during the ten minute break. It also allows records to be set which may be broken on a subsequent play break.

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FIRST FRC World Championships!

My son Ben is participating in the FIRST FRC Robotics competition in St. Louis Missouri in Team 973.

They had 10 matches today, and were the only team that was undefeated, with the highest number of ranking points! They were ranked 1st in our division. Woohoo!

I must take a moment to express my admiration for how hard all of the students are working. These are long tense days and the students are staying focused and hard working. The data collection, data entry, and interpretation is on going. Robot maintenance and practice is continuing. This team never stops!!!

Looking forward to the matches tomorrow!

Here’s a sample of the matches:

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Playing Ball with Special Needs Homeschool Students

The simple ball can be used as an imaginative tool when helping special needs children learn. Here are some ideas which you can use with your special needs homeschool students.

1. Roll the ball over the limbs of the child – This allows your special needs student to understand the texture of the material and the way the ball feels against their bare skin. Once you have showed them how to roll the ball give it to them to do it for themselves. Use a number of balls made of different material and different sizes to get the child familiar with them all.

2. Hide and seek – Get them to hunt for a ball in a specified area. You could use one of those balls with blinking lights so that they get a good visual sensory clue about where to begin hunting for the ball.

3. Dodge Ball – use soft fabric covered balls for this game. Make sure that they are told that the head and shoulders is off limits. Mark out a circle on the floor to ensure that they know where they have to stand. You can invite friends over to play as well. The activity and socialization process will both do wonders for the child.

4. Play nine pins – stack up empty bottles, or if you have pins use them and allow the homeschool student to knock them down. They will learn to control the ball with increasing skill as they practice rolling it to knock down the pins.

5. Slide down the slope – Mark out three distinct sections on a cardboard in different colour. Now lean it against a piece of furniture and form the slope. The children get to slide the ball from the top of the slope one at a time and the others have to guess which section of the slope it will come down from.

6. Hot potato – the ball is called a hot potato and must not stay in the hands of a single person for too long. As soon as the person catches it they must shout out the words hot potato and launch it in the air for the next person to catch.

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