Techie Alternatives to Written Reports

Techie Alternatives to Written Reports

Episode 22: Techie Alternatives to Written Reports

Benefits to using techie alternatives to written reports

Although students definitely need to know how to do a written book report or research paper, there are other ways to see what your child has learned. And there are benefits to mixing it up. 3 major benefits:

  • techie assignments are fun
  • they are easy to share with family/friends
  • students learn tech skills in the process

9 Techie Alternatives to Written Reports

  1. Slideshows – Google slides / Prezi
  2. Videos – talk to the screen, screencast, illustrated with photos/clips, animated (See Free Video Creation Tools episode for free tools)
  3. Comic strip – Google slides / Google drawings or
  4. Social media profiles / posts: Classtools has nice templates
  5. Posters / Book covers (See Free Graphic Creation Tools episode for free tools)
  6. Choose your own adventure – use Google slides or Text Adventures (select ‘Gamebooks’) or Twine for a more complex option
  7. Create a quiz / game – use Classtools, Sporcle, Quizlet or Google forms. Students could also code a game using Scratch or create a Digital Breakout
  8. Websites / Blogs – Strikingly, Wix, Weebly, WordPress
  9. E-book – Storyjumper

Show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy often uses ideas like these in their online classes and web-based unit studies. Check them out!

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

Contact Meryl via email on or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

Techie Alternatives to Written Reports

Free Graphic Creation Tools

Free Graphic Creation Tools

Episode 21: Free Graphic Creation Tools

The free tools mentioned in this episode are:

Find free icons to use in your graphics projects at The Noun Project.

Show sponsor, FundaFunda Academy, teaches students to use many of these tools in their online Computer Applications class.

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

Contact Meryl via email on or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

Free Graphic Creation Tools

Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor -Bright Ideas Press

Homeschool moms are busy! Bright Ideas Press gets that. And that’s why, for over 25 years, we have promised to publish Christian-oriented homeschool curriculum that will fit your family—curriculum that is both affordable and easy-to-use with children of different ages and learning styles at the same time. Curriculum that busy Moms love!

Offering history, science, geography, and humanities curriculum and over 100 options of online classes and clubs for homeschool families, the team at Bright Ideas Press creates products and resources that will not only help simplify your life, but also inspire, encourage, and equip you to educate your children.

Find out more here!

Special Edition of HIRL: Devotions For The Real Family

Free homeschool podcast discussing real family devotions.This week on Special Edition – Homeschooling IRL – Enjoy this episode replay sponsored by Christian Standard Bible!  We are talking about Family Devotions for the Real Family on this podcast. You know REAL family devotions. The families with the toddler hijacking the deep discussion, and the teens are daydreaming, and mom is falling asleep because it’s been a long, long homeschooling day. Can you relate to family worship that looks like this?

Family worship can be trying for most families, and on this episode of Homeschooling in Real Life, we talk with a dozen dads about what it looks like in their homes. But we won’t leave you feeling like a failure! We want to encourage you to discover God’s glory with your family in a way that suits you best.

Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Christian Standard Bible

The Christian Standard Bible captures the Bible’s original meaning without compromising clarity. An optimal blend of accuracy and readability, this translation helps readers make a deeper connection with God’s Word and inspires lifelong discipleship. The CSB is for everyone—for readers young and old, new and seasoned. It’s a Bible pastors can preach from and a Bible you can share with your neighbor hearing God’s Word for the very first time.

Find out more here!

Classtools – Online Educational Fun

Classtools online educational fun

Episode 17: Classtools – Online Educational Fun

In today’s episode we will explore some of the fun resources on the website Classtools.

Our sponsor, FundaFunda Academy enjoys using the free Classtools resources in many of their online classes and web-based unit studies.

Resources for creative assignments

Fakebook – create a “fake” book page complete with cover image, profile pic and posts for a literary or historical character.

SMS generator – imagine a text conversation between 2 literary or historical characters.

Badgemaker – design a badge to celebrate a historical character.

Breaking News and Headline Generator – supply headlines and descriptions for news events in the past.

Turbo Timeline – produce a timeline that you can drive through.

Online Educational Games

Play your Dates Right – put historical events into chronological order.

Dustbin – create up to 4 categories with items that must be dragged to the correct one.

Arcade Games – There are 70 ready-made games and you can add your own. Use the questions in one of 5 games: PacMan, Manic Miner Asteroids, Pong or Wordshoot.

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

Contact Meryl via email on or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

Classtools Online Educational Fun

Digital Breakouts

Digital Breakouts

Episode 14: Digital Breakouts

—> Check out our sponsor, FundaFunda Academy‘s classes and web-based unit studies for Spring 2019.

What are Digital Breakouts?

They are similar to Escape Rooms – just all online!

  • Instead of physical locks, the locks are virtual and you enter the solutions via Google forms.
  • The puzzles are online: videos, jigsaw puzzles, google maps etc might all be utilized
  • There are minimal directions – click around and think what can fit
  • The solutions can be – dates, words/phrases, numbers

Some hints to get you started

  • Dates might not be an exact date given – other info given might be needed to calculate a date.
  • Numbers – what can be counted? Are there items you could add together?
  • Look for words that are underlined / different color
  • Click around looking for hotspots that link to another web page

Why they are great

They teach critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork. And they add an element of fun to the material you are studying.

Where can you find them

* Breakout Edu
* Teachers Pay Teachers and search for them
* Google “digital breakout” + topic
* FundaFunda Academy has their own one – Mosby’s Treasure. Listen to the podcast for a coupon that will allow you to get it free until the end of January.

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

Contact Meryl via email on or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

Digital Breakouts

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. 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 – 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.

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

Contact Meryl via email on or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook

How to Introduce your Children to Programming

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.

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

    Contact Meryl via email on 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 or connect with her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.

Homeschooling with Google Forms

Best of HIRL: When Your Homeschool Owns You

Free Homeschooling Podcast about homeschool bondage and competition.When Cindy West reached out to us and asked to talk about something she’s seeing in the homeschool community at large, we jumped at the opportunity. And it’s this: Some homeschoolers feel they must adhere so closely to a particular homeschool philosophy that they have lost all their homeschool joy. Essentially, their homeschools are owning them.

So what’s the remedy? Tune in to “When Your Homeschool Owns You” to find out!


Recommended Resources:

Cindy West can be found here: Our Journey Westward.

Get Social With Us:

Follow Fletch/Kendra:
Fletch Twitter
Kendra Twitter

Follow the Studio Dogs:
Betty the Surf Dog – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Website
Rasta The Chocolate Lab – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Website



Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Unseen Film

After finding his grandson Owen preparing to end his own life, Alexander takes him along on an errand. As the day unfolds, Owen learns new information about his grandfather’s past and unlocks the secret to facing his own future.

Click Here to Download the Film for Free and get Resources for Your Family

Top 20 Homeschool Podcasts

top 20 homeschool podcasts | The Top 20 Homeschool Podcasts by speakers, authors, bloggers and moms and dads just like you! #homeschool #podcast #homeschoolpodcast #top20homeschoolpodcast

Meet my friends! The top 20 Podcasts on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network

I’ve seen many lists of top homeschool podcasts, but this list is important and special to me. This is the list of the top 20 homeschool podcasts on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network! People measure success in different ways and I feel the network has been successful first because it has been an answer to prayer and second because it has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of homeschool families. Many of these shows have thousands and thousands of downloads. But to me, there are things more than numbers — although we have over TWO MILLION downloads; more importantly, you are about to meet the people who work hard to create amazing podcasts – the best in homeschooling, as well as the wonderful support team of those who help run this network!

While we are saying Happy 5th Birthday to the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network, we have many gifts for you! PRIZES! Currently, we have amazing giveaways from our sponsors – to enter all the contests please visit our giveaways page on this website here.

How does our network work?

  1. Join our eZine for up all the upcoming shows and freebies such as our weekly printables.
  2. Listen to the shows on this website. You can play any show you want for free.
  3. Download the shows on your computer. Listen on your time.
  4. Stream the shows on any podcast app on your phone or computer. Instructions here.

Our Sponsors Bring You This Podcast Network for Free:

When I began in 2013 I handled everything. Any small techie issues, updating the website information, sending out the newsletter (and often breaking the code), and all of the social media. Now, thanks to our listeners and amazing sponsors like Notgrass, WriteShop, True North, Luma Learn, Bright Ideas Press as well as all of our participating podcasters we can bring you contests as well as our network!

Our Team. A Big Thank-you to the following people:

Joy Rhodes: This website could not run without our behind the scenes techie, Joy! She is the one we all turn to for website issues and sends out our weekly eZine with free printables for you each month.

Gina Glenn: Any social media you see is orchestrated and scheduled by Gina. She is an amazing asset and our go-to person for anything social!

Thanks to our special brand ambassadors: Longtime podcast listener Orilla Crider and virtual assistant, Nakisha Blain. These ladies are so helpful in sharing our podcasts with all of you!

To the original Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network podcasters who began alongside me, I want to say thank-you!

I am blessed to be joined by so many of my friends, many who began five years ago alongside me. Some original podcasters now have shows in archives but they are still available! These friends have current shows and took a chance. I had no experience (other than the three years I spent podcasting, elsewhere), I had no idea what number was good for downloads, about feeds, tags or graphics. My goal was not to make money but to serve the homeschool community and allow you to access the podcasts for free.

Thanks to:

So, who funded the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network the first few years? Media Angels, Inc. my publishing company. The majority of the investment came from the sale of books, audios, and downloadable products. As the owner of this website, my goal is always to bring you the best of homeschool focused podcasts!

Success equals helping one homeschool family at a time!

I’m grateful the Lord gave me this idea years ago to create a homeschool podcast network with some of my friends, fellow homeschoolers, authors, conference speakers, and bloggers. All of us love to encourage you –  while our curriculum, our family size and even where we worship may look different — we are united in our belief that the Lord called us to homeschool and it is our job to encourage you!

top 20 homeschool podcasts | The Top 20 Homeschool Podcasts by speakers, authors, bloggers and moms and dads just like you! #homeschool #podcast #homeschoolpodcast #top20homeschoolpodcastSo, let me introduce you to our top 20 podcasters and their shows…

Vintage Homeschool Moms – flagship show with Felice Gerwitz — Over 300+ podcasts! 

I began this show the last week of September of 2013 even though our launch was in October. In that way, if anything went wrong we could catch it! On my show, I share the experience of over 30 years of homeschooling! I’m a graduated homeschool mom (my last of five homeschooled children graduated in 2018).  Many months I have themes, this month is “Stress-free” and these podcasts contain the ideas that worked, shortcuts and a heartfelt message that you can do it! I also share on the Creation Science Podcast some of the best from my creation expos. I am blessed to rank as NUMBER THREE on our network! (And that is fine with me! I’m a proud “mama” and love to see my podcasters do well even if they “beat” my numbers!)

Hal and Melanie Young – Making Biblical Family Life Practical Over 200+ Podcasts!

With their North Carolina accent, homeschool parents, husband and wife Melanie and Hal share not only their humor but their extensive parenting advice, marriage, raising sons and real-world issues! Listen in and it will soon YOUR favorite. They talk about large families, homeschooling, and heart issues as well. You may meet them in real life since they are keynote speakers and travel extensively on the homeschool conference circuit. Congratulations on ranking NUMBER TWO on our podcast network!

Carol Topp – Homeschool CPA Podcast & Dollars and Sense Over 145 Shows

Carol is a graduated homeschool mom who studied for her CPA exam while homeschooling! Hence, Homeschool CPA! On this network we are flexible and Carol came to me asking if she could rebrand her show from Dollars and Sense with a focus more about saving money, careers and more to her show now that deals with running homeschool programs and money management. Carol podcasts twice a month!

Meredith Curtis – Finish Well Radio

Meredith is a graduated homeschool mom and her husband Mike is Pastor at Powerline Church. Meredith along with many teens and young adults from their church help the listener to grow in Christ. With many timely shows that help teens prepare for life after graduation, Meredith podcasts the first Monday of every month. If you have teens this show will be such a blessing especially in the world where we find ourselves today.

Melanie Wilson – Homeschool Sanity – Hundreds of Podcasts

Melanie is a homeschool mom, a Christian clinical psychologist with six kids! So there is no mystery why she titled her show, Homeschool Sanity! Melanie has amazing insight and currently ranks as our NUMBER ONE podcaster for the second year in a row! Go, Melanie! Her show airs every Tuesday and she shares much of her insights and fun tips with you.

Israel and Brook Wayne – Family Renewal

Our second husband and wife team, Israel and Brook Wayne! The Waynes share big family living and cultural issues from a Biblical worldview. Israel travels extensively. He is an author and conference speaker so look for him at homeschool conferences. The Wayne’s podcast one time per month.

Gina Glenn – Mommy Jammies Night

Gina took over the monthly show, Mommy Jammies Night some years ago and has rebranded and shares some interviews with amazing moms who will bless you! Gina is a graduated homeschool mom with four children and has volunteered for a wide variety of ministries over the years. She has a heart for helping you the homeschool mom. She is one of the sweetest people I know and you will enjoy her show!

Sue Meyers – Homeopathy For Mommies

Sue is a homeschool mom who used homeopathy to reclaim her health and those of her children. Sue wrote a book for her children and grandchildren about homeopathy and I love her book and refer to it often! Her show is well on it’s way to one of the top shows with over thousands of downloads each week! Congratulations Sue, your show ranks NUMBER FOUR.

Jean Burk – College Prep Genius

Jean joined our network soon after we launched and I co-host this much-needed podcast with her twice a month. Jean writes and updates her College Prep Genius curriculum often to keep current with the SAT and ACT changes. She is the authority on all things college prep testing. Join us to listen to her advice which has helped earned both of my younger children college scholarships!

The Homeschool Highschool Podcast

Everything high school happens here with Vicki, Sabrina, and Kim our ladies from the 7 Sisters! These ladies know their stuff and have over twenty years of homeschooling advice, tips and more. Need transcript advice, information about classes or just encouragement? This is the show for you! You will enjoy their heartfelt advice and humor!

New Shows!

Felice Gerwitz – Creation Science Podcast

I share podcasts from my Creation Science Expos much of the information comes from my experience as co-author of the Creation Science Series with Jill Whitlock. These books were mentioned in the 100 and 101 Top Homeschool Picks by Cathy Duffy. You can find more information at the Media Angels website.

Peaceful Mom Talk – Marianna Chambers

Marianna has a wonderful voice and when I listen to her podcast it makes me feel calmer! As a brand new podcaster, Marianna is helping moms who feel overwhelmed by their blessings! If you want to hear sage advice about parenting, talking to children calmly and ways to deal with stress when we are overwhelmed be sure to tune into her show. She podcasts one time per month.

Literary Cafe Podcast – Katie Glennon

Katie homeschooled for fifteen years and shares some of her insights into the world of literature, language arts and writing. She has wonderful tips and ideas to make your homeschool easier. That is what our podcasters do, they come alongside you and Katie shares her vast knowledge and experience with you! She podcasts one time per month.

Life as a Lifeschooler – Danielle Papageorgiou

Danielle use to podcast elsewhere and has moved over her shows to our network! We are so excited to have a podcast with not only a focus on interviews, but also on sharing a wealth of information with you from various people. People you’d love to sit down and chat with about homeschooling and parenting if you had the chance! You will enjoy this wonderful show and visiting two times a month with Danielle and her special guests.

Homeschooling with Technology – Meryl van der Merwe

Meryl not only has a wonderful British accent but a love and expertise in the world of technology. Having homeschooled, taught coding and runs a website for those who want to learn more, she shares the best advice about apps, ways to improve productivity and her techie skills with all of us! She is the newest on our list of podcasters! Please join me in a warm welcome for Meryl!

More shows on the network! 

And there is more! We have a sister network you might not know about. The Ultimate Christian Podcast Network hosts podcast that will bless you with Christian focused shows. But, I could not do this without all of you our listeners.

Is there a show or topic you want to hear more about? Please share it with all of us!