Digital Games That Teach Problem-Solving

Digital Games that teach problem solving

86: Digital Games That Teach Problem Solving


Tara Walker is our guest and she shares with us some digital games that teach problem-solving.

Tara Walker is completing her Ph.D. in the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder in Media Research and Practice. Her research focuses on mental illness and health in mass communication. She has been the Instructor of Record for Media Ethics and Law, History of Advertising, Strategic Writing for Public Relations, and Creative Concepts. She has also taught writing and rhetoric classes for CU Boulder’s Program for Writing and Rhetoric.

Tara’s a poet and an artist with an MFA in writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her book of poetry and drawings, Exquisite Disgust, is available on Amazon. Be sure to visit Tara’s website.

Tara explains in this episode why she believes games like these are not a waste of time. All of the ones she mentions include problem-solving elements: puzzles, mysteries, and tasks that involve a lot of trial and error.

Digital Games mentioned in this episode


The Room (1-4) – Basically a digital escape room game
The House of Da Vinci – Similar to the room but with a Renaissance aesthetic. Also time travel.
The Silent Age – more time travel!
Meridian 157 – Point and click problem solver/adventure
Inside– A game for X-box, PlayStation, etc. It’s a platformer game where you are a kid escaping from a creepy bunch of people – lots of problems to solve.
Fake it to Make it – an online game she has her Media Ethics and Law class students play: /)

If you have a high schooler who loves digital games, check out the Visual LIteracy class from show sponsor FundaFunda Academy. This class can be taken as an English 1/2 credit or a 1/2 credit in Fine Arts. It covers not only digital games but other forms of visual media too like graphic novels and movies.

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology in your homeschool.

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Digital Games that teach Problem Solving

Virtual Travel

Virtual Travel

85: Virtual Travel

If your travel plans have been disrupted, then consider virtual travel.

Start by going to Google Earth and you can either search for a place, use the Voyager button on the left, or the one “I am feeling lucky” to get taken to a random place. Once there drag the pegman to some place on the map and you will be in Google Streetview and ready to explore.

Once you have don’t some exploration on foot, then it is time to do some research to find the main highlights of the area that would choose to visit if you went there in person. Find out if they have a virtual experience, or if you can “walk” around the area.

In episode 71, Jayda Justus gave us lots of ideas for Virtual Field Trips, and obviously these could be places you could explore during virtual travel.

Specific places you might want to visit virtually

  • Buckingham Palace
  • Yosemite – you can even hear the sounds of the place!
  • Houston Zoo has a number of webcams with live feeds.
  • Switzerland has a virtual tour through a number of towns
  • The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam lets you walk from room to room viewing the paintings, and has audio commentary on them
  • And Beyond safaris allows you to join them as they go on safari twice a day. You can access the live feed and interact with the rangers from Youtube or Facebook.

If you plan on visiting North America or South America virtually, and you have children in grades 4 – 8, be sure to grab an interactive web-based unit study on those 2 continents from show sponsor, Fundafunda Academy. If you listen to the episode before June 3rd, you will get a coupon for 75% off either or both of these.

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology in your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode.

Virtual Travel

Evernote Online Filing System

Evernote Online Filing System

84: Evernote online filing system with Rachel van der Merwe

The guest for this episode is Rachel van der Merwe, a Ph.D. candidate in media studies at the University of Colorado Boulder. Rachel has four years of teaching experience at the undergraduate level and currently teaches the upper-level course Media and Popular Culture for CU Boulder. She is also my daughter and the teacher of the Visual Literacy class for show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy.

What is Evernote?

The Evernote app describes itself as a digital notebook, but Rachel thinks it’s more helpful to think about Evernote as a digital extension of your memory—an external hard drive or archive for the central processing unit that is your brain.

Evernote for Homeschoolers

Evernote has many uses within the context of homeschooling, or really any educational setting,

Some useful features are:

1. You can take a photo of a page of notes, or business cards at a homeschool convention, and save it as a note

2. You can create notebooks for each course, inside the notebook

  • Drop any articles/PDFs/lesson plans
  • Drop in audio files and images too
  • Use Tags “to read” “read” or on the subject matter or content
  • Can add reminders to notes

3. You can take notes in notes
EN has its own annotation system built-in. You can open up a PDF and highlight, underline, jot down notes, draw arrows, etc in an assortment of colors OR you can open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat or Preview, annotate there, and when you save and close the PDF it automatically saves to the file in Evernote.

4. Organization

  • Notes are stored in notebooks, notebooks can be placed in stacks
  • Each notebook can be private or shared.
  • Each student could have a notebook for each class and maybe your kids would organize their notebooks in separate stacks for each semester.
  • You as a parent could have stacks for each of your kids

5. Relocating info
You can find items you have saved using

  • notebooks/stacks
  • tags and geo-tags
  • dates

With Evernote Premium, everything is OCRed and becomes searchable – even handwriting!

6. Evernote Web Clipper
Whenever one comes across something online, clip it and tag with specific keywords and choose which notebook to add it to.

If you want your teens to learn how to use it, this is one of the resources covered in FundaFunda Academy’s Computer Applications class.

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology in your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode.

Evernote online filing system

Free Quiz Creation Tools

Free Quiz Creation Tools

83: Free Quiz Creation Tools


Free quiz creation tools can be used to create quizzes for your children to take OR if your children are old enough, you can get them to create the quiz as a way of learning or revising material you are studying. These are the tools mentioned in this episode. Listen to the episode to hear how each of these is different and why I like each of these tools.

1. Google Forms – learn how to use it to create quizzes here

2. Educandy

3. The Pacman game at Classtools

4. Mentimeter – you can see a demonstration on how to use it here.

5. Quizizz

6. Kahoot

7. Quizlet

8. Sporcle

Most of these tools are used in show sponsor FundaFunda Academy‘s full semester classes and their web-based unit studies. If your children enjoy playing or creating quizzes take a look at their classes as these are the sorts of tools the FundaFunda teachers use to make classes engaging for the students.

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology in your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review! Subscribing will help you make sure you never miss an episode.

Free Quiz Creation Tools

Podcasts for Kids of all Ages

Podcasts for kids

82: Podcasts for Kids of All Ages

Sarah Miller-Snyder from Podcastliving.com is our guest to share with us her knowledge about podcasts for kids and teens. I met Sarah in my Facebook group, Homeschooling College-bound Teens. You are welcome to join us there too! And visit show sponsor FundaFunda Academy to see if any of their classes are good fits for your children. Many of them use podcasts occasionally in assignments!

Why should kids listen to podcasts?


Here are 5 reasons kids should listen to podcasts:

  • Fun and entertaining mode of obtaining educational content
  • Super convenient and accessible- any time, any place
  • A simple way to build optimal habits of using technology in a beneficial manner
  • Huge variety of topics- truly a podcast about anything and everything
  • Free- what do you have to lose?

How do you get your kids to listen to podcasts?


Here are 5 ways to get your kids to listen to podcasts:

  • Play them in the car (both for long car trips and just short trips to extracurricular activities)
  • Play them on your Alexa or Google Home device
  • Be creative about things to do while listening- coloring books, legos, unloading dishwasher, having a snack, doing a puzzle, taking dog for a walk, before bedtime, or even brushing teeth (more on that later)
  • Play them at bedtime- our favorite is Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and Bedtime History
  • Pay them (not joking)- have you heard of people paying their teens to read self development books? I actually started paying my teens to listen to podcasts related to personal development and I have a separate blog post with my recommendations (https://podcastliving.com/teenpersonaldevelopmentpodcasts/)

How do you find what to listen to when there are over 1,000,000 shows out there?


3 ways to find podcasts:

  • https://www.listennotes.com and do a keyword search
  • Check out Sarah’s weekly blog post with 7 educational podcast recommendations for elementary, and one for tweens and teens- try one a day and if you find a show you like, subscribe!
  • You can also become a member of Sarah’s private Facebook group where she provides a Podcast Pick of the Day for kids and one for adults.

Ideas for podcasts to try with your kids


Podcasts for Elementary-age kids

  • Family Road Trip Trivia Podcast
  • Kidnuz (5 minute daily news update for kids- I recommend playing each morning)
  • Chompers (twice a day stories while the littles brush their teeth)
  • Smash Boom Best (debate style fun topics like pizza vs tacos)
  • Tumble Science or Brains On Science
  • Best Day Yet – Positive Thinking for Kids
  • Eat More Spanish
  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls Podcast
  • Magic Seed

Podcasts for Tweens and Teens

  • Planet Money – fun topics like The Cost of Donuts, The Power of Billboards
  • How I Built This With Guy Raz- how did things like Otterbox, Panera, Stitch-Fix develop?
  • Teen Life Coach
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class or History vs.- so many great history podcasts out there; do a keyword search if you are studying a particular time or event
  • The Daily Poem
  • iPhone Life Podcast
  • Spartan Up, Life Hacks- Spoken Edition, Ted Talks Daily and so many other personal development podcasts
  • Various Sports Mental Health Podcasts- our fave is Train Your Mind for Athletic Success (athletes) and Raising Young Athletes (parents)

Join our Facebook Group especially for the listeners of this podcast! You can ask questions and get advice as you try integrating technology in your homeschool.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to the show and give a rating and maybe even a review!

podcasts for kids

Ways to integrate technology into your homeschool

Easy Ways to Integrate Technology into your Homeschool

81: 6 easy ways to integrate technology into your homeschool

Here are 6 easy ways to integrate technology into your homeschool. Don’t try to do them all at once – just try implementing one way first and then add as you go.

1. Daily Schedule

Ideas for ways to do that:

2. Record keeping

Keep track of community service hours and grades at the very least. Google Sheets is a free option, but you can also use a tool like Homeschool Tracker

3. Use tech in areas you struggle with

4. Pick one tool you have heard about to learn – and then use it with your children

Some suggestions for tools to use:

5. Assessment through online quizzes

Make it fun by using websites like Kahoot, Quizizz, and Quizlet – use readymade ones until you feel comfortable creating your own. You will plenty at all these websites on any topic you want to test your children on.

6. Online classes and unit studies

Web-based unit studies mentioned in the episode can be found at:

Online classes mentioned in this episode:

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Easy Ways to Integrate Technology in your Homeschool

Creative Ways to use Zoom

Creative Ways to Use Zoom

80: Creative Ways to use Zoom

If you have 8th – 12th graders, don’t miss the annual High School Challenge from show sponsor FundaFunda Academy. High schoolers can win gift cards and money while completing challenges that teach them about being prepared for college.

Tips on using Zoom

  • You can mute other people in the Zoom room
  • Disabling the whiteboard in your user settings will disable the ability for others to use annotations (and prevent them from drawing all over your screen)
  • You can select someone’s video to spotlight ie make their video the big one
  • You can split people up by putting them into breakout rooms (the host can move between those)

5 Creative Things to do over Zoom


1. Exercise with a friend

2. Babysit – obviously not with babies but 5 – 8-year-olds could be entertained over Zoom. Read books together, build legos, tell stories etc

3. Quiz night – Select a ready-made quiz from Kahoot or Quizizz. You can also do Quizlet Live if you use breakout rooms.

4. Game night. Here is an article that explains how to play board games over Zoom. You can also play an online version of Codenames.

5. Scavenger Hunt – this idea is from Scott Bowen, the husband of Heather Bowen from Mom for all Seasons. Give those on the call an item to find and see who gets back first with it. Then repeat!

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Creative Ways to Use Zoom

Online income opportunities for homeschool moms

Online Income Opportunities for Homeschool Moms

79: Online income opportunities for homeschool moms with Bekki Sayler, Abby Banks, and Lea Bosse

In this episode, my 3 guests each explain different online income opportunities they are currently using. All have low start-up costs and should be doable for most homeschool moms.

1. Printables with Bekki Sayler


You can find Bekki at A Better Way to Homeschool. Her Facebook Group, Make and Sell Printables is a good place for people to start with printables.

Bekki offers a class on how to do it – use code TOGETHER! for a special discount.

2. Etsy with Abby Banks

Etsy Quickstart Guide – this ebook will get your Etsy shop up and running FAST! Save 50% with the code HALFPRICE.

Selling on Etsy Masterclass for Teens – even moms can take this course! Take it together with your teens and start an Etsy shop while the demand is high! Etsy has requested that sellers start making and selling fabric face masks. There’s no better time to open your Etsy shop. Use the code FLASHSALE2020 for 50% off this comprehensive online course.

Be sure to also listen to my other 2 podcast episodes where I interview Abby:

3. Online Tutoring with Lea Bosse


Lea Bosse is the ACT online tutor at our show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy. She explains how she uses Zoom to tutor online. You can tutor children online using the skills you have.

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Ways homeschool moms can make money online

Virtual Community Service Opportunities

Virtual Community Service Opportunities

78: Virtual Community Service Opportunities


The coronavirus and social distancing have made it harder for our children to be involved in community service projects, but thankfully there are still many virtual community service opportunities.

Students should keep records of the community service they do as it will help them win scholarships and look impressive to colleges. In addition, they can achieve certificates and medals in the Congressional Award program.

Show Sponsor, FundaFunda Academy, is hosting its 3rd annual High School Challenge in April and May. 8th – 12th graders complete assignments related to preparing for college that earn them points. Students with the most points win gift cards or cash from $5 to $150. Lots of prizes, lots of fun, lots of learning!

Here are 9 ideas for virtual community service:

1. Virtual Babysitting

2. Virtual Greeting cards/emails

3. Fun and games eg create online jigsaw puzzles

4. Explainer videos/tutorials

5. Old weather: Use ship logs to transcribe historical weather data.

6. Zooniverse has a number of projects. Some are.

7. iNaturalist allows students to become citizen scientists and record observations about nature.

8. The Library of Congress has opportunities for students to transcribe, approve and edit historical documents.

9. All for Good is a website that lists many different volunteer opportunities and some of them can be done virtually.

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Virtual Labs

Virtual Labs for biology and chemistry

77: Virtual Labs with Dr Kristin Moon

Our guest is Dr Kristin Moon from Kristin Moon Science . You can find her on Facebook too.

Dr. Moon teaches Chemistry for show sponsor FundaFunda Academy and Biology at True North Homeschool Academy.

Be sure to listen to our other interview with her where she talks about PHET Simulations.

Virtual Biology Labs


Expandable Mind is the website Kristin refers to

3 virtual labs from their site that she mentions:

1. eMind Frog: virtual frog dissection lab (and 4 additional mini-labs).

You can use their demo page to get a feel for what it’s like to use the virtual lab.

It costs $5.99/family for a single license (giving you 12-month access)

2. eMind Animalcules and Other Cells: virtual microscopy lab

So many cool specimens to view using their virtual microscope.

Once again, you can use the demo and get some of the features:

3. eMind Fly: virtual genetics lab

This virtual lab makes genetics come alive as students virtually “breed” fruit flies. They predict the results using a Punnett Square, breed the flies, observe the progeny and note the outcome, and analyze their results.

Find the demo site here.

It costs $5.99/family for a single license (giving you 12-month access) but is a freebie that comes with any purchase.

Worth noting: You can buy access to ALL of the virtual labs eMind has to offer (including the frog, a cat, a fetal pig, invertebrates (including earthworm, squid, crayfish, and sea star), and fish ( including the lamprey, the dogfish, and the yellow perch) for $19.99 (for an individual license).

Additionally, if you are buying for a class or co-op, there are volume discounts.

Virtual Chemistry Labs


Chem Collective is the resource Kristin talks about.

There are many virtual labs your students can perform on this site, all related to chemistry. These are all free.

Examples of some of the labs:

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Virtual Labs for biology and chemistry