How your teens can build their own computer

How your teens can build their own computer

91: How your teens can build their own computer

August Smith, who is now studying to be a Mechanical Engineer is our guest and explains how your teens can build their own computer – because it is something he did as a high school student.

August has been a student at, and then a teaching assistant for show sponsor FundaFunda Academy. The classes he has assisted with are the Scratch and Python coding classes.

Resources August used

August explains why teens should build their own PC, the different parts they will need, how to select the right brand, model and size, how to put the parts together and how to decide on and install an operating system. Listen to the episode for all the info. He also talks about the cost.

And if you are listening to this episode before the end of July 2020, you will get a coupon for a BIG discount on August’s Stop Motion Animation class.

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How your teens can build their own computer

How to make virtual field trips engaging

How to Make Virtual Field Trips Engaging

90: How to make virtual field trips engaging

In this episode, our guest, Shannan Swindler, shares how to make virtual field trips engaging. Shannan’s home base is in Scotland, where she and her husband homeschool their two kids (ages 11 & 15) and they learn on location throughout Europe as much as possible. She is a classical style home educator living out her God-breathed dream of raising her family in Europe. She’s passionate about many things, especially helping others learn on location using the world as their classroom. You can join her at Captivating Compass for homeschool and family travel inspiration.

Shannan explains how her family stumbled upon virtual field trips & museum tours and you can read about some of their favorites in her Virtual Museum Tours for Doing School at Home post.

I have also covered the idea of Virtual Field Trips on this podcast before – so be sure to listen to that episode for ideas too.

Shannan goes on to explain how homeschoolers can get the most out of virtual field trips. Two resources you can find on her website are:

Another exciting resource from Shannan that is free and will be fun to use this summer is her Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt

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Mentioned in this episode are show sponsor FundaFunda Academy’s web-based unit studies which often include virtual field trips!

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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How to make virtual field trips engaging

Online resources to make science engaging

Online Resources to Make Science Engaging

88: Online Resources to make Science Engaging

In this episode, show sponsor, FundaFunda‘s science teachers share some of their favorite online resources to make science more engaging.

Heather Fulghum (Ecology and Earth Science teacher) mentions these resources

Dr. Dana Underwood (Biology 1 and Biology 2 teacher) has these suggestions

  • allow kids a choice for projects (they’ve done scratch/python, stop-motion animation, and more traditional things like powerpoint)
  • use animations for complicated molecular things
  • use online articles for current topics or more in-depth things
  • find Scientific American type articles and videos from PBS, etc.

Dr. Kristin Moon (Chemistry teacher) mentions these resources

Until 30 June 2020, you can get $10 off any of FundaFunda Academy‘s science classes with the coupon mentioned during this episode.

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Online Resources to Make Science Engaging

Online Resources to teach kids about racism

Resources to teach kids about racism

87: Online Resources to Teach Kids about Racism

In this episode, I share some online resources to teach kids about racism. All the websites I refer to are linked below.

Resources to help parents know how to talk about racism

Resources to teach about Black History in the USA

I teach the online US History class at show sponsor FundaFunda Academy. In this class, I don’t use a textbook and do try to integrate as much black, Native American, immigrant, and women’s history as I can. I use a lot of primary resources and let the students dig into the history and form their own opinions. Until the end of June 2020, you can get a $20 discount using code 20OFF.

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.

Online resources to teach kids about racism

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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