Tech Toys and Games

Tech Toys and Games


Episode 12: Tech Toys and Games

—> Check out our sponsor, FundaFunda Academy’s Scratch Christmas Coding Contest. This contest is for those who can’t program in Scratch yet, as well as for those who can. There are 2 different divisions, and new programmers can learn along with video tutorials as part of their entrance fee of $5. The winners will earn themselves gift cards. Registration closes 23 December 2018.

Here are some ideas of STEM toys and games that are likely to be played with for a long time after they are opened.

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Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

Tech Toys and Game

How to introduce your kids to programming

How to Introduce your Children to Programming


Episode 11: How to introduce your kids to programming

Why is it necessary for children to learn to code?

1. This is where the future lies. “Career track” jobs which need coding skills pay $22,000 per year more than jobs that don’t. Half of the jobs in the top income quartile (>$57,000 per year) are in occupations that need coding skills. And, programming jobs are growing 50% faster than the market overall.
Source: Burning Glass Technologies. http://www.burning-glass.com. 2018.

2. Programming teaches logic, problem-solving, learning how to think – and it stimulates creativity. All skills students need.

How can you introduce your children to coding?

1. Hour of Code – one-hour coding activities for all ages levels of experience

2. Offline / unplugged games – Code.org has a number of lesson plans. And here is an offline game where you choreograph a robot dance.

3. Board games – Thinkfun has a number for all ages – RobotTurtles young children, Codemaster and Robot Repair for older)

4. Robotics – WonderWorkshop Dash and Dot, Lego Mindstorms, First Lego League

5. Apps – Daisy the Dinosaur, Lightbot (2.99), Kodable

6. Scratch Jr (iPad) and Scratch are easy drag-and-drop languages.

7. FundaFunda Academy (the sponsor of this podcast) has classes for all levels – Intro to Game Programming, Scratch and Python

Until 23rd December 2018 students from grades 4 through 12 can compete in a Scratch Christmas Coding Contest offered by FundaFunda Academy. There are 2 divisions – one for those who have never coded in Scratch before (instruction will be provided) and one for those who have.

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Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

How to Introduce your Children to Programming

Christmas Shopping the Techie Way

Christmas Shopping the Techie Way


Episode 10: Christmas Shopping the Techie Way

1. Throughout the year collect ideas in Evernote

2. Get your family to create wishlists (Pinterest, Amazon, Google docs/sheets)

3. If you need more ideas

4. Use Google sheets to keep track of what you want to buy, where you have bought it, how much you have spent and if it has arrived.

5. Read reviews before you buy – Amazon is a good place to start)

6. Be sure to compare prices at various online stores

7. Read email newsletters for free shipping and specials

8. Shop through portals to save money

9. Buy gifts that can be delivered electronically as last-minute gifts

  • e-gift cards
  • video games from Steam
  • App games from iTunes
  • ebooks
  • subscriptions – magazines, Spotify, software (eg Adobe), Kiwi crate, snack boxes, Birchbox etc

10. Use tech to “take” oversized gifts with you if you are traveling – either print out a picture or create a QR code from the picture (first save the picture on a Google doc and then use the url to create the QR code.)

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Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

Christmas Shopping the Techie Way

10 Techie Tools I Am Grateful For

10 Techie Tools I am Grateful For


Episode 9: 10 Techie Tools I Am Grateful For

1. Offline maps

I usually use Google maps, select the area and download.

2. Portable Charger

Here’s the one I use: EasyAcc Slim 10000 mAh Power Bank

3. Podcasts

One of my favorites is Planet Money.
If you are listening to this online and don’t know how to get podcasts on your phone, scroll to the bottom of this article to show you what to do.

4. Automatic Pet Feeder

This is the one we have: Petsafe 5 meal Pet Feeder

5. Google Drive

Google Drive is an online filing system. Listen to episodes 2, 3 and 4 for more detail on how to use it to organize your homeschool

Our sponsor, FundaFunda Academy offers 2 classes that teach about Google Drive and the associated apps.

They have a 4 module Intro to Google Drive web-based unit study on all the Google drive apps as well as a full year (1 credit) Computer Applications class.

6. Scannable App

Scannable is only available for the iPhone but it integrates with Evernote and allows you to easily scan and send documents. You can save them as pdfs or pngs. Adobe Scan is similar but for Android and iOS.

7. Padlet

Padlet is like a virtual version of a corkboard you would find in a classroom to pin children’s work.

8. Zamzar

If you have a file in a format you can no longer read, Zamzar will rescue you. It does conversions from and to most file types in seconds.

9. On-demand video streaming

If you have Netflix, don’t miss Churchill’s Secret Agents: The New Recruits

10. Online Shopping

Our next episode will be “Christmas shopping the techie way” so be sure to tune in for that.

And to say thanks for being a listener, you can go online shopping now in FundaFunda Academy’s store. You can get all their teaching resources (printable games and interactive activities) free until the end of November, with the coupon code I give on the show. Yes! You have to actually listen to get it. You can find the audio below the show notes if you aren’t already listening via a podcast player.

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

Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

10 Techie Tools I am Grateful For

5 Techie Ways to Organize Your Homeschool

Techie Ways to Organize your Homeschool


Episode 8: 5 Techie Ways to Organize your Homeschool

1. Google Drive

Google Drive is an online filing system. Listen to episodes 2, 3 and 4 for more detail on how to use it to organize your homeschool

Our sponsor, FundaFunda Academy offers 2 classes that teach about Google Drive and the associated apps.

They have a 4 module Intro to Google Drive web-based unit study on all the Google drive apps as well as a full year (1 credit) Computer Applications class.

2. Toby – organize your tabs

Toby allows you to save your tabs to collections so you can close them – but still access them later.
Toby has extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera browsers to make the process even easier.

3. Evernote – Bookmark links and more

Once you go through links on Toby and find ones you want to keep, you need Evernote

It is basically a big filing system. You create notebooks related to specific topics (eg curriculum ideas, interesting websites, books to read). Then every time you find something related you save it as a note in the relevant notebook.

The Evernote web Clipper (available for Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer (IE) 7+, Firefox, Opera, and Microsoft Edge) makes it even easier to use.

4. Trello – Organize your children’s assignments / chores

Trello is a project management system that works really well as a way to organize your own to do list and to organize what your children have to do (assignments and chores).

You create a Trello board and then within the board you create lists. For my personal board, I have lists titled: Month, week, day, doing, done. Under each list are cards containing tasks and as I complete a task I drag that card to the ‘Done’ list. Each Monday I can see what I achieved the previous week – and then I archive the cards in the Done list, create new ones for the “Day” and “Week” and drag over anything from the “Month” I plan to do.

Amy from HSP Mom.com uses Trello in a different way. She has a board with different lists for each month and plans about two weeks out at a time. She has one card that has easily “checklistable” items, such as math, and any workbooks. (Trello lets you add checkboxes to cards).

Trello for homeschoolers

Then each subject has its own card where she jots down what they do and she snaps occasional pictures of things to keep as a record of what they have done.

Trello for homeschoolers

Trello is ideal to list all a child’s assignments and/or chores and that way they can easily see what they still have to do, and if they check them off as they go, you can see what they have done.

5. Doodle – organize your social life

Trying to plan an event and find a time that works? Stop emailing back and forth to the people involved. Instead use Doodle.

I just use the free version, enter all the options I want to offer the recipients and then send it to them. It is easy to find the time that will work for everyone.

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Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

Techie Ways to Organize your Homeschool

Homeschooling with Google Slides

Homeschooling with Google Slides


Episode 7: Homeschooling with Google Slides

Google Slides offers all benefits of Google Drive apps like easy collaboration and access anywhere you have wifi. Listen to episode 2 on Google Drive for more info on all the Google Drive apps.

Some features of Google Slides

Google Drive does have fewer features than many of the slideshow programs available, but it should be able to do everything you and your children need it to do. Here are some features I often use:

  • Import from other slideshow programs like Powerpoint and Keynote
  • Download in powerpoint format or as a pdf
  • Create animations
  • Insert videos
  • Instert shapes and lines
  • Create transitions from one slide to the next

    Start teaching your children to use it in a simple way when they are in elementary school.

    It is easy to figure out how to use Google Slides, but if you would rather your children learn it as part of a course, FundaFunda Academy (the sponsors of this podcast) offers 2 classes that include a module on Google Slides.

    They have a 4 module unit study web-based unit study on all the Google drive apps as well as a full year (1 credit) Computer Applications class, both which include a module on Google Slides.

    When your children are ready to go further with Google Slides, here are some more ideas.

    1. Turn the slides into a video

    To do this add the voiceover extension and when you are done choose to “publish on the web”. Now you will have a video to share with others

    2. Create graphic-heavy documents

    Google Slides is ideal to make simple flyers and posters. First, change the document size (Go to “File” – “Page Setup” – “Custom” and then enter 8.5 X 11 or whatever size you need). When you are done, download the slide as a png, jpg, or vector file.

    3. Produce Timelines

    Select “Insert diagram” and then “Timeline”

    4. Create comic strips

    Make a table with the number of rows and columns you want. Then use callout shapes to make your comic strip.

    5. Make Infographics

    Find icons from places like the Noun Project

    6. Write “Choose your own adventure stories”

    You can do this really easily by creating links that go from one slide to another. And of course, it is easy to add graphics and videos so all students will enjoy a creative writing project like this. You can also use it instead of a more typical written project in any subject.

     
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    Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

    Homeschooling with Google Slides

Homeschooling with Google Forms

Homeschooling with Google Forms


Episode 6: Homeschooling with Google Forms

Google Forms is great for moms (and dads) to use it to create self-graded quizzes and for surveys. You could use it to collect responses to questions like “what field trip your homeschool group might most want to go on”, and “which date works best”.

But it is even more useful for your children to use.

It is easy to figure out how to use Google Forms, but if you would rather your children learn it as part of a course, FundaFunda Academy (the sponsors of this podcast) offers 2 classes that include a module on Google Forms.

They have a 4 module unit study web-based unit study on all the Google drive apps as well as a full year (1 credit) Computer Applications class, both which include a module on Google Forms.

How your children can use Google Forms


Google Forms are great for students to use for research projects. They allow students to learn how to

  • design good questions without bias
  • do data collection and analysis
  • validate the data people enter
  • decide on the population sample they will send it to

Although you want your high school students to be able to do all these things, you can start introducing your younger children to Google Forms and just use some of the features. Sit with your elementary age children and together create a simple survey to send to family and friends. This will help them learn what to do and as a result, they will be ready to do it on their own by high school.

Some of the features of Google Forms they should learn to use

  • Design the form – There are some basic selections of colors, fonts etc
  • Question type – What type of question will be most appropriate (multiple choice, checkbox, sliding scales, choose from a list, text or grid)
  • Validation – Must the field be required? Is there a range that respondents should be limited to? A specific format of the answer should take?
  • Branching dependent on previous answers – Google Forms allows one to specify different paths dependent on what has already been entered
  • Summary of response – this provides all the answers to each question including graphs where appropriate
  • Export to Google Sheets (click on green button on the response page) – In Google Sheets they can now manipulate the data to obtain statistics, more graphs and charts etc.

Be sure to incorporate Google Forms into your homeschool so that your children learn how to conduct online surveys. Help them send it out to an appropriate sample of people. And teach them how to interpret and manipulate the data they collect.

 
If you found this useful, please subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

Homeschooling with Google Forms

A Techie History Contest

A techie history contest


Episode 5: A Techie History Contest

 

National History Day is one of my favorite contests because it combines 2 things I love – history and technology.

Our show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy also combines these two in their web-based unit studies on World War 2. These are delivered online, use online resources and incorporate techie projects. Until Friday 26th October, you can enter a giveaway to win two web-based unit studies.

An overview of National History Day

National History Day begins at the school level, but usually, homeschoolers can bypass this and go straight to the regional contest. The winners of that move on to the state competition and those winners attend the National History Day Contest in Washington DC during the summer.

National History Day is for students in 6th through 12th grade, but the information in this episode will also be useful for parents with younger students.

The contest always has a theme – this year it is Triumph & Tragedy in History. Within that theme, students can select any topic that fits. It can cover American or World History.

There are 2 parts to the contest: research and presentation. Both of these contain techie elements.

Research

Students need to gather a variety of source material, both primary and secondary sources. At the regional level, I suggest they have at least 15 – 20 different sources.

Some places they can find sources are:

  • the library: students need to learn to find books in their local library and also how to request books from interlibrary loans
  • the library website: you will be amazed at the resources you get free online with a library membership. You are likely to get Kanopy (a video streaming website with thousands of documentaries), newspaper archives, databases and digital collections.
  • online search: this is a good opportunity to make sure your children know how to search effectively and how to identify credible sources. Also show them Google Scholar, a search tool, which filters only academic sources
  • Library of Congress website
  • Experts in the field: teach your children to craft a professional email to ask experts about the topic

Once students have a number of sources, they need to learn how to use online tools like Easybib to create a bibliography and citations.

Presentation

After students have done their research, they must choose one of 5 different presentation categories. They can work alone or in a group.

1. Paper

While presenting the research as a paper isn’t very high tech, students will need to use a word processor, know how to do a word count, correctly lay out the paper etc.

2. Performance

Once again word processing skills will be needed to produce the script and bibliography.

3. Exhibit

In this category, the visual appearance of the text is important. Students will also need to use fonts and colors well. Exhibits are created on trifold boards.

4. Website

Students use Weebly to create websites for the National History Day contest. They will need to know how to use hyperlinks, insert interactive elements, upload files, and include videos.

5. Documentary

Students can use any video editing software (including whatever comes free on their computer) to create a documentary on the topic. This category will stretch a student’s techie skills as they need to know how to edit video and audio, insert photos and provide their own narration.

You will find a LOT of help on the National History Day website, and you are also welcome to reach out to me. All my own children participated in this contest and 3 of them reached the National level. A number of my students have achieved this as well.

 
If you found this useful, please subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

A Techie History Contest


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Change is in the Air Movie

This story embraces the imperfections that make us human, offers a way to set ourselves free and asks us all to take a good, long look at the wild birds in the sky.

Watch the trailer here!


Homeschooling with Google Docs

Homeschooling with Google Docs


Episode 4: Homeschooling with Google Docs

 
If you are new to Google Drive be sure to listen to episodes 2 (Homeschooling with Google Drive) and 3 (Homeschooling with Google Sheets) which will give some context to what is covered in this episode – Homeschooling with Google Docs.

Google Docs is a spreadsheet program and I love using it.

One reason I love it, is that it is good to use when I am collaborating with others on something. You might be wanting to collaborate with other homeschool moms, or you might be working on something with your children. I have planned trips together with my kids using Google Docs.

If you work together on a Google Doc you know that everyone is accessing the same version. Once you share the document with others, you don’t have to email the latest file to each other. You automatically have the latest one!

My favorite way to use Google Docs in our homeschool was to get my children to use it for their essays and other assignments.

There are a number of benefits to getting your children to use Google Docs:

  • Children need to learn how to use a word processor as this is what they will use in college and the workplace
  • Google Docs is easy to learn to use
  • All work is saved automatically
  • It is easy to go back to previous versions
  • If your children don’t have great handwriting, this is much easier to read than a handwritten paper!
  • You can make comments right in the document which your children can read and then make changes

How to learn to use Google Docs


Google Docs is easy enough to learn just by clicking around the menu options.

However, if you would like your children to have more formal training, our show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy, offers a 2-semester Computer Applications online class (worth a full high school credit) and also a 4 module Google Drive Unit Study. The latter includes a module on Google Docs.

Some favorite features of Google Docs


Under ‘File’

  • You can choose to save the document in a variety of formats including docx (WordPress) and pdf

Under ‘Edit’

  • find and replace makes it easy to change a word or phrase used repeatedly in a document

Under ‘Insert’

  • you can insert images / tables / charts (but graphic heavy presentations are easy to do in Google Slides)
  • headers / footers for each page

Under ‘Format’

  • you can create columns

Under ‘Tools’

  • Voice to Text
  • spelling checker
  • word count

Under ‘Add-ons’

  • Easy Bib – creates citations automatically once you input info about your source
  • You can also add many others including a thesaurus, a rhyme finder and one that provides the text of Bible verses

 
If you found this useful, please subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

Contact Meryl via email on meryl@mediaangels.com or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

Homeschooling with Google Docs

Homeschooling with Google Sheets

Homeschooling with google sheets


Episode 3: Homeschooling with Google Sheets

Google Sheets is one of the Google Drive apps and if you aren’t familiar with all the benefits of those apps, listen to my previous episode. In this episode, you will learn some of the applications for Google sheets in your homeschool.

Google Sheets is more limited than many spreadsheet programs – which is actually a good thing if you or your children are just starting to use them. Google Sheets is nice and easy to learn to use.

Learning to use Google Sheets

This podcast is sponsored by FundaFunda Academy and they have a web-based unit study on all the Google drive apps which includes a module on Google Sheets. It is aimed at 6th – 12th grade, but parents can learn alongside their children!

You can also use the “Help” in Google Sheets or find videos on Youtube to show you what to do.

So, I will leave you to learn the basics on your own, and in this episode, I am just going to give you ideas on how you can use Google Sheets in your homeschool.

A fun way to start out: Battleships

To start with, you can practice using Google sheets by playing a game of Battleships against your child (or get 2 of your children to play against each other). Each will need a computer. You can follow the instructions here:

Spreadsheets are essentially rows and columns and are really great to use for

  1. Lists: spelling lists, sign up sheets etc
  2. Tables: create weekly schedules with daily activities / chores
  3. Calculating totals: as you add / change value, totals are magically adjusted. Use it for
    • Tracking community service hours for your children
    • Budgeting for you and your children
    • Trip planning
    • Homeschool curriculum purchasing planning / Christmas shopping planning
    • Rewards system/payment for chores etc

Other things to know about Google Sheets

 

  • In Google sheets, one can use formulas and functions. This can be helpful for students to be familiar with before they learn to program
  • Click on Explore at the bottom right corner of a page in Google Sheets, highlight some cells containing data, and you will be provided with statistics and also graphs!
  • All the information collected from Google Forms is stored in Google Sheets making it easy to manipulate

If you found this useful, please subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

 


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Change is in the Air Movie

This story embraces the imperfections that make us human, offers a way to set ourselves free and asks us all to take a good, long look at the wild birds in the sky.

Watch the trailer here!


Homeschooling with Google Sheets