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

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

Learning from the Pilgrims & Puritans

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.

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.

Techie Ways to Organize your Homeschool

Top 5 Reasons to include Literature Study in your Homeschool

After teaching literature and writing in many settings for many years, I have concluded there are five important reasons to include literature study in your homeschool for your middle and high school students. #homeschool #curriculumAfter teaching literature and writing in many settings for many years, I have concluded there are five important reasons to include literature study in your homeschool for your middle and high school students. Some benefits are academic while others are more in the personal and character development realm. But, I feel that all of them contribute to a student’s understanding of themselves, their world, and their individual viewpoints. I have them listed here in no particular order because everyone will have their own priorities as to which is most important.

Practice Analyzing World Views

Literature is usually written in the worldview of the author. Occasionally, an author writes a literary piece in a different worldview from his own based on the narrator of the story or to present a different worldview for the reader’s examination and analysis.

You can usually divide worldviews into two categories, Christian and Secular/Humanist. The middle and high school years are the optimum time to have discussions about worldview and your family’s own views. From there, you can have valuable discussions centered around topics that your children encounter when reading different pieces of literature.

For example, dystopian book series have become popular recently and are an excellent opportunity to discuss the events and characters that are included in these stories. As a Christian family you will want to take advantage of the natural discussions about good vs. evil, absolute vs. relative morals, and your family’s beliefs that will arise as you read some of these books.

Older novels are also prime material for practice for your children to apply their worldview filters when reading and deciding where they stand on the issues presented in the story. Examples of these kinds of novels would be Frankenstein, 1984, Brave New World, or Fahrenheit 451. Parents will want to make sure to read these books beforehand to decide if the book is a good fit for your family and prepare themselves for a discussion.

Develop and Practice Higher Order Thinking Skills

Literature study is also a great opportunity to help your children develop and practice using higher order thinking skills. Analyzing the worldview of a novel or story is just one level or kind of thinking skill. There is a list of others from comprehension and knowledge when recalling facts and details about a story to comprehending what an author is trying to say to the reader.

Moving up the hierarchy of skills, your children can practice applying what they know from their own experiences to what they are reading in a story and compare and contrast what they are reading to their own experiences or to events in the story. From here, as they get older and have more practice in analyzing literature, they can begin to have those worldview discussions about specific moral issues in the story and debate the side of their worldview against the author’s point of view or debate both sides of an issue.

The development and the practice of these higher order thinking skills are necessary to children’s development of their own beliefs and the ability to articulate and argue those beliefs. It assists them in “knowing who they are and what they believe”, an important characteristic in self-identity and confidence. This was an important foundation in our homeschool pursuit and mission in my family. It’s paid off very well.

Practicing Empathy and Understanding Motivation of Others

There have been scientific studies that have shown that when children read and discuss the characters and events of a fictional story, they develop empathetic skills and understanding of the actions and motivations of others.

Reading a fictional story presents the reader with an opportunity to follow a character through different kinds of circumstances and watch how those circumstances affect the character and his feelings and subsequent actions. Readers develop empathy for that character as they get to know the character and are then also affected by what happens to that character. Having discussions about the characters and their feelings about certain events helps children to sort through their thoughts and own feelings.

Analyzing characters in stories and what is motivating them to act certain ways or have specific personality characteristics assists children in examining the motives of others through the practice they receive from this kind of literary analysis. This understanding can be transferred when trying to understand other people in their own daily interactions.

Literature is a Reflection of History and Society

Throughout history the spoken and written word has kept record of historical events and views held by a society during different time periods. When reading literary pieces, readers can learn about the time period in which the author lived or is writing about, as well as common viewpoints and practices of society at that time. Even a piece of fiction is a reflection of history and society of that literary time period and is of valuable consideration to understand where a society has been and where they are in the present and how they got there.

Literature from all over the world reflects societal, religious, and philosophical beliefs to shed light and an understanding on that part of the world. Sometimes, a pendulum movement can be seen from one literary time period to another in what a society believes is important at the time.

For example, literary time periods from the Puritan to the Modern times reflect a swing from a Christian worldview to a Humanist viewpoint and back again several times when looking at the topics and expressions of the authors in their written pieces. These viewpoints were affected a lot of times by what was happening in history and society around them as the authors were writing these stories.

Literature can be an Influence on History and Society

As literature can be a reflection of history and society, the opposite is true as well. Authors have used the spoken and written word to influence the events of history and the beliefs of a society.

Studying speeches and novels written by people of varying time periods will demonstrate the power of the spoken and written word when expressed effectively and the importance of those words and their connection to key historical events and societal views of the time.

Supposedly, when Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he commented, “So you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” This shows the influence a book such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin can have on the course of history and society and belief systems of a time period.

Even a pamphlet with the title “Common Sense” influenced history and the outcome of where we are today.

Studying literature does not have to be a mysterious and muddled discussion of symbols and hidden meanings that an author buried in a novel for us to decipher or a long list of comprehension questions.

Studying literature can be an interactive exercise and discussion in discovering ourselves, who we are and what we believe in, using the literary piece as a spring and jumping off point and vehicle for the discussion.


Literary Cafe PodcastKatie Glennon has a monthly podcast, Literary Cafe Podcast, where she discusses all things Language Arts for all ages with practical ideas, tips, and suggested resources to help you in teaching Language Arts in your homeschool. You can also find her at Katie’s Homeschool Cottage and a Facebook Group, Homeschool Language Arts Corner, where she expands on what she shares in her podcasts. With 30+ years in education and having graduated two sons, she hopes to share ideas with you that allow you to better enjoy your homeschool journey!

 

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

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

Homeschooling with Google Docs

How Our Co-op Began

Finish Well Radio, Podcast #075, How Our Co-op Began with Meredith Curtis and Laura NoletteIn “How Our Co-op Began,” Episode #075, Meredith Curtis and Laura Nolette reminisce together about history days in the early 2000s where they combined families to spend one day a week studying history with hands-on fun, reading aloud, and listening to audios. As they began to include other friends, a homeschool co-op was born. Learn how they used food to involve the entire family in their studies, especially the hungry dads. Glean ideas for your own co-oping adventure.

 

 

 

 


Powerline Productions, Inc. Families Learning Together American History Books

 

Powerline Productions, Inc.

Being World Changers, Raising World Changers!

We offer books and ebooks to help you homeschool to the Glory of God!

 


Show Notes

Meet Laura & Meredith and their kids

History Days

Reading aloud

Listening to Diana Waring audios

Crafts, Sewing, Art Appreciation, Drama, Creating Radio Shows, Models

Timelines, Maps

Cooking & Baking

What we studied over the years: American History, British History, Geography, World History

Adding Friends

The homeschool friend whose mom started working and wanted some time with other people

The homeschool friend whose mom couldn’t teach physics

The mom who was struggling

A Co-op Is Birthed

Adding more families

What didn’t work anymore: Listening to Audios, laid back schedule

What continued: reading aloud, hands-on fun, timelines, maps

Memories

Which was Better?

Not really sure; both were perfect for us in the season we were in.

Happy Homeschooling!

Resources

Joyful and Successful Homeschooling by Meredith CurtisQuick & EZ Unit Study Fun by Meredith CurtisSeven R's of Homeschooling by Meredith CurtisUnlocking the Mystery of Homeschooling High School by Meredith Curtis and Laura Nolette

 

 

 

 

 


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

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