Friday’s Hardwired Homeschool Hints: Best iPhone Apps For Homeschoolers

fridays hardwired homeschool hints pic Once Uber received his netbook for Christmas – – ahem, should I say his second netbook – – he had no need to share the iPod Touch with me anymore, so it finally became mine – – all mine!!

Oh boy, it’s been like Christmas for me every day because every day I discover some cool and exciting new application that I hadn’t dreamed of before.

Now granted, the majority of them are about as useful as a raincoat in the Sahara, but there are a few that are incredibly handy – – even for homeschoolers!!

  • Amazon Kindle for iPhone – the absolute first application you need to download – – period – – is the Kindle app.  Instant access to books, magazines, periodicals, etc. is an absolute MUST for a homeschooling mom.  Every homeschooling book you can think of is probably available via Kindle, but don’t shell out 300 smackeroos for a Kindle device, just add it FREE to your iPhone and voila!
  • Evernote – The ultimate online organizer is also a terrific iPhone app!  You can create text, photo, or even audio notes of everything you want to track in your homeschool – – lessons, projects, field trips, grades.  You name it – you can organize it in Evernote and then sync it with any computer.
  • Poptiq – If you are a car schooler – – even every once in a while – – you will want Poptiq.  Download educational videos from anywhere on the net, and then take with you on the go.  Why shouldn’t your kids be able to watch Discovery Channel on the way to gymnastics??
  • Classics – for your bibliophiles, be sure they have access to a fun and easy way to read the best of classic literature!
  • Google Earth – you love it on the web and you’ll love it on the iPhone!
  • Today in History – what an incredibly fun way to open up each school day!  Take turns with your iPod touch and let each family member have a day sharing what important events happened on this day.
  • Wikipanion – Free app that provides easy navigation, search, and use of Wikipedia.  Awesome tool!!
  • WorldCat – locate any book in any library, worldwide!
  • Oregon Trail – there is a free and a paid version of this great program which has come to iPhone in all its glory!
  • Brain Quest for iPhone – those cards that every homeschooler had somewhere in the back of their minivan have gone hi-tech! You can download Brain Quest apps by grade and subject.  Still great for car rides or waiting in the doctor’s office.
  • Mathomatic – solve even the most complicated math problems in step by step fashion so you can finally understand WHY you get the correct answer.
  • Narrator – multimedia storytelling platform for the iPhone and iPod touch.  Great for students with learning differences!
  • iVocabulary – perfect foreign language tool for beginning learners.  Learn vocabulary for multiple languages.

If you have a favorite iPhone app for homeschooling that I haven’t listed, be sure to mention it in the comments!

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Where the Wired Things Are

So I thought I would give you an update on our unschooling adventure and how that’s going.  As you can guess, even our unschooling tends toward the techie. 

Uber is busily learning Java and studying artificial intelligence.  He’s also considering joining a local group that meets regularly to discuss how Linux can take over the world. 

H-T is writing a book.  I KNOW!! I WAS SO EXCITED TOO!! Until I realized the book is based on the life of a video game character.  But hey, he’s WRITING A BOOK.  Beggars will NOT be choosers in this house.  And anyway, the book is actually pretty darn good so far.  I’m actually invested enough to care about this video game persona! 

Other, slightly non-techie pursuits include their music lessons Canterbury Tales, Woodcut 1484(Uber’s taking piano and H-T’s taking guitar), we’re reading through the Canterbury Tales (thanks to Holly!) and studying a bit of Medieval History, and they are also getting ready to take part in Drama Club, where the spring play happens to be Robin Hood – – how serendipitous!  They also are both doing well with their math studies, which Uber takes on YourTeacher.com, and H-T uses Time4Learning

Overall, this has been an amazingly successful experiment, so far.  I don’t think I could have done it when the boys were in their elementary years…but interest-led learning is SO VERY PERFECT for the middle and high school years!!

Just Exactly How Wired Am I??

wired So the first thing in my inbox today was a surprising email from Obi-Mom letting me know that we had both made a list for “Top Ten Wired Mom Blogs!”  I got that feeling akin to what Tom Hanks must feel when his agent calls him on the day of the Golden Globe Nominations.

Well, if Tom Hanks were a geeky homeschooling mom, of course. (hey, he DID wear that dress back in the 80’s!!)

Anyway, I had to think for a moment (not exactly pleasant before breakfast) what it means to be a “wired mom.” 

Does it mean I have all the latest gadgetry?  Not even close.

Does it mean I keep up with the latest techie news?  Ok, maybe a little in between the de-cluttering and the waterfalling.

Does it mean I am 100% obsessed with the world wide web?  You bet your cotton-pickin’-mobile-wifi-enabled-laptop it does! 

I’m a wired mom.  And if you need me…I’ll be here. 

On the web. 

Forever. 

Or until my charge runs out. 

Whichever comes first.

Who Is This Linux Guy…And What Does He Want With My Son??

Computer rigeneriamoci

Image by rigeneriamoci via Flickr

I’m not sure how your family actively studies vocabulary, but we have our own unique strategy around here: give birth to a geekling. 

Our 15-year-old has a new passion, and I can always tell, because a whole new crop of words begin cropping up in his daily conversations. Now I like to think of myself as somewhat of a word nerd, but I quickly realize I am out of my league when the following arcana starts to infiltrate our life:

Ubuntu

Root (and I don’t mean like the plant!)

open-source

Debian

partition

desktop environment

I kind of get the whole “desperate parent” thing Jon Voight has going on.  It is not exactly easy to be completely bypassed by the person who was asking you to help them tie their shoes not long ago! 

So to stay in step with my son it means I have to embrace the idea of Linux. 

Lordy, do I feel old today.

Take THAT New Years Resolution!!!

031 - The War On Clutter

Image by Keenahn via Flickr

So I guess I made my New Years Resolution back in September sometime.  That was when I scheduled a two-week vacation for after the holidays from work and homeschool in order to get my *%#@ in order.

In other words, de-clutter my house from top to bottom.

It was a tall order in that I can be a smidge of a pack-rat and tend to frequent a few too many garage sales.

But STUFF was starting to own ME, instead of the other way around.  Any table that had the nerve to sit there, minding its own business, was piled with whosits and whatnots.  Closets (of which in a 95 year old house are few and far between) were straining at their hinges trying to hold in all the necessities “I might need” in the next three to five years.  The upstairs homeschool room was haunted by the “ghost of homeschool years past” who taunted me with all the items that I had so lovingly chosen for my boys throughout their early learning.

It became incredibly stressful, and the weight of THINGS began overshadowing everything I did on a daily basis.  So in early fall, I knew I wanted to do something about the clutter.  I was busy teaching the blog writing course, but knew that right after Christmas, I was scheduled for a two-week work/school holiday, and that was my opportunity.

And oh baby – – did I ever cash in!!!

For over a week now, I have pilfered, plumaged, and painstakingly eradicated the clutter out of my house.  Starting from the attic homeschool room and working my way down through every room, closet, bookshelf, and under-bed stash I have single-mindedly and determinedly collected over seven lawn-and-garden style trash bags, four large cardboard boxes, and a large rubbermaid container worth of non-essentials that hopefully can find a good home SOMEWHERE ELSE!

And, of course, in the process, I unearthed a few treasures that had been missing for a few years – – which is always nice, especially when you have accused friends and family of having borrowed them and never returned them (mental note: pick up apology cards at Hallmark)

Anyway, it is January 7th and I have effectively completed my New Year’s Resolution already. 

How are yours coming????

Would you look who the cat dragged in???

That’s right. I’m back. Back from my longest bloggy break ever. 

So let’s catch up for a minute.  Our holidays were lovely. Quiet.  Peaceful.  And even SNOWY…woot!!

Christmas came and went with only a few hitches.  The biggest of which was that Uber’s desktop went “kaput” about a week before Christmas. Which meant that it was necessary to give Uber his Christmas gift – – a new netbook – – a week early.  Which was all fine and good until said netbook fell.  And broke. A few days before Christmas.  This accident, was, of course, not covered by warranty, so we had to order yet ANOTHER netbook. 

And yes, Uber will be working off his Christmas misfortune until Halloween or so.

We volunteered at the Rescue Mission where my hubby is the director on Christmas Eve, as usual.  No surprise to anyone, thanks to the current economy, it was the biggest turnout I think they’ve ever had.  But the meal was delicious and it was lovely to get to be Santa’s helpers for one night handing out presents to those who might go present-less otherwise.

One of my personal holiday highlights was getting to visit the Biltmore House (the largest private residence in the US) with one of my dear friends.  It was decked from hall to hall in lights and trees, and even more beautiful outside.  Scrumptious!!

Like I said, it was an overall wonderful holiday.  Even the dogs thought so!

Now it is onto my New Years resolution….stay tuned….