Friday, April 6, 2012

Excuses Excuses

Yeah, its been that way around here.

I apologize for not being more faithful in my posting.  I do try to get in 3 posts per week.  This time around I am pointing my finger at the weather.  The early spring has messed with the normal order of my days as I have had to clear my flower beds of bushels of weeds and mow the lawn so we don't look like the deadbeats on the block.  I have more excuses, but I'll spare you.

Well...except for this - we got a new iPad!  WooHoo!

So, yes, much of my time the last few days has been eaten up by trying to learn how to use this new gadget and feeding it apps and websites that will be of use to us.  That, and my daughter has been sick.  I've been dosing her with cold medicine between browsing sessions.  I am finding it very useful for our homeschool, by the way (the iPad, not the sick kid).  For anyone interested, here are the apps that I've found that I really like for our homeschool so far:

For my preschooler:
Story Mouse :  This app reads a story to my daughter.  It included one free story.  Most of the others you have to pay for but I did find three more within the app for free to download.  Sure, I could read to her, but she gets a kick out of hearing from our electronic doodad.

Pocket Phonics:  This is a neat program that uses phonics to help children learn their letters and read.  Its interactive in that the child uses her finger to draw the letters or to drag them to the correct place in the word, then the word is sounded out.

Bob Books:  I like these anyway, so having them in an animated form was just a bonus.  Mine is listed as "BB Magic #1".  Again, it uses phonics to help a beginning reader to learn.

For my older kids:
Brain POP:  This is a neat little app, free, where you click on it and it shows you the free video of the day.  The regular website will allow you to view a free video, but you have to subscribe to see just about anything else.  These videos are just neat little snippets of information.  The kids like them, I think, because it feels like they get to watch TV for school.

Geo Master Plus:  This is a wonderful geography app.  This app is great for geography lessons as it has lots of information on continents and countries.  Also, we played a game where we tried to locate all the countries in a continent as quickly as we could.  It really does have a lot to offer.  And, its not so cartoonish that the older set would feel foolish using it.

Stack the States and Stack the Countries:  These two are geography games but the full versions also contain a good deal of geography information.  It looks great for reinforcing lessons or even just learning basics on each country or state.  These are light and fun - perfect for games where the kids won't know that they're really learning.

Free Books:  There are tons of these apps.  I'm sure that other homeschoolers can appreciate that I already have quite a library built up.  And, given how much I have to do in a day, it can take me quite a while to get through a book.  So, I thought e-books might be worth a try.  There are lots of apps to try with free e-books.  The one I have is simply called "Free Books" and contains lots of classics.

Other apps I'm investigating include Timeline Eons - an interactive timeline where you click on an event and it takes you to the associated Wikipedia page.  I've also got some math apps I'm trying out - there are tons of those too.

More than apps, I've also used it to log into CNN Student News and let the kids watch the daily news clip - which is very well done, by the way.

If you are brand new to this advanced technology (usually I'm the last to try anything electronic) then know that some of these apps cost $.  But, most apps have a "lite" version that you can try out to see if you like before purchasing the full version.  Beware, I'm also finding out that some apps are cash cows for their makers as they charge you for lots of little extras.  Try to avoid those.

So, if you are on the fence about joining up with the crowd and getting an iPad, feel free to justify your purchase with the "It's really for the children" excuse.  Because, really, there are tons of things you can do with it related to learning.

-A

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