I suppose that’s a little strong. I mean we could live without these items in our homeschool. But, for sure, it would be missing some exceptional opportunities. This post is all about the 5 Pieces of Technology Our Homeschool Couldn’t Do Without. I hope it encourages you to consider how you might make better use of some of the everyday technology in your home.
Kindles & Tablets
We use our Kindles every day! These have probably been the single best addition to our techy homeschool in the last two years. All the kids have them and use them in a variety of ways. Of course, other tablets such as iPads and Android tablets work well with Kindle apps, but if you are looking for an economical way to enter the world of tablets, you can’t beat the Kindle Fire. The Paperwhite is a great tool as well if you just want the reader. I’ve written a lot about how we use Kindle tablets, but here are a few ideas:
- Read Books– Nothing like a good old fashioned read from a tablet! There are a lot of ways to highlight and take notes while you read. Get to know your tool and it won’t let you down.
- Listen to Audio Books– This is especially dreamy with an Audible account which allows you to download the files wirelessly.
- Do Research– Having a portable portal to the internet means being able to keep working and look something up at the same time and a small device works well in small work spaces.
- Watch Video Content– Either from a YouTube playlist, embedded text links, or other sources. You can watch anywhere at any time. Dare I admit that we can even access our satellite dish remotely on the go?
- Follow Tutorials– This is great for art projects and hands on moments. My artist daughter uses it for her Craftsy classes. It’s so easy to have the tablet right there and to work as she watches.
Whether it’s Skype or a Google + Hangout, we can meet long distance for a variety of reasons. For example:
- Playing Chess Virtually– with a relative or a friend. Our kids have played regularly with their grandfather over Skype.
- Conducting G+ Hangouts– I appear regularly with Bright Ideas Press
- Project Collaborations– with homeschoolers far away. There are so many things you could work on together even while far apart.
- Book Clubs– A fun way to get like minded kids and teens together to discuss books
- Writer’s Workshops– Long distance sharing of writing is a great option for a video conference format.
The nice thing about using video conferences that it brings people together if they are far apart and it’s an easier way to convene if you live local to one another as well. Sometimes it’s easier to set aside time if you don’t include drive time.
LEGO Mindstorms have been a mainstay of our homeschool for many years. We got our first kit ages ago and we’ve been exploring the world of robotics ever since:
- Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool– This is a great list of why we use Mindstorms and it tells some of the cool things we’ve done with the kits.
- FIRST LEGO League– Dan has been an FLL World Congress judge and a coach for 8 years. He had the opportunity to judge the World Congress in 2005 when the challenge was a Nanotechnology theme. Since then, he’s been coaching teams and running a JrFLL event. Our teams meet 7 hours a week in preparation for competition days. That’s a lot of Mindstorm time for our kids!
- Assigned Challenges– For example, when our 16yo was 10 he was challenged to make a speed trap for a marble on a marble roller coaster.
- Programming Challenge– Our 10yo is a new EV3 owner and he’s been working to program the brick with Java instead of the Mindstorms software. He’s always looking to push the edge!
Do you have a microscope in your homeschool? You can use digital microscopes to:
- Allow all of your kids to see the image under the scope at once- huddling around one expensive microscope it highly overrated.
- Let’s younger kids use a microscope successfully without damaging the slide.
- Fantastic tool for taking a quick look at a specimen- whether it is living or not.
- Record live video of a pond critter on your slide.
- Take still photos of magnified specimens.
Visit Tips for Using a Digital Microscope to read more about how we use this technology.
We have three desktop computers and three laptops. Two of them belong to Dan and I and the others are shared by the kids. Several of them are hand-me-down machines that aren’t the top of the line, but they are hard workers and allow our kids to work simultaneously when it’s necessary. It’s a lot of work to support and maintain a computer network, but it’s worth the effort.
Computers are used at some point daily to:
- Participate in Online Classes– both long term and short term
- Attend Conferences
- Listen to Podcasts & Other Audio
- Play Music– We have a Rhapsody account and we listen to music with an online interface or app
- Access Video Content– whether it’s YouTube or hyperlinks within text
- Word Processing– writing and editing papers, stories, etc
- Computer Programming– Our 10yo is an avid programmer and is always into creating new code for an idea he has.
- Interfacing with LEGO Mindstorms–
- Arduino Work– Joshua works with his Arduino board and programs it using the software.
More Technology Posts from Blog, She Wrote
Managing the Internet in Your Home– This is a three part series written by my husband, Dan on how to use your router and Open DNS to filter content and to implement access control. You’ll be given the tools and instructions for limiting time on devices and turning internet on and off at various times- down to the machine or device you want off or to have access.
How to Homeschool with a Kindle– Kindle eReaders and tablets are essential to our homeschool these days. How do we use them? What’s the big deal? Read on to find all the ways we enjoy them.
How to Make a YouTube Playlist– Did you know you can make a preset playlist of YouTube videos for your children to view? You can! And you can make as many categories as you’d like to sort them.
Best Educational YouTube Channels for Homeschoolers– Now that you know how to make a playlist in YouTube, it’s time to visit the best educational channels around and add to them!
How to Use Google Earth– What’s not to love about this virtual globe? Learn how to use this tool to its fullest potential and see all the resources out there to help you use it in your homeschool.
While technology doesn’t make up our whole homeschool experience, it certainly does enhance it in extraordinary ways.
How do you use technology in your homeschool? What’s your family’s favorite?
Other iHN bloggers are sharing their lists of things their homeschool can’t do without. Visit and enjoy!