I wrote here about how our homeschool has evolved into “Family School” this year. We’ve moved more towards whole-group learning and discussion. We’ve also moved towards doing more and more of our schooling digitally. So, how do you use digital resources if you want to gather a group of kids and let everyone participate family-style? I’m so glad you asked. That’ what I was hoping to write about today!
It really isn’t as tricky as you might think. All you need is a way to display your computer output on your television screen. We use an HDMI cable. You might already use this kind of cable to connect, say, your DVD or Blu Ray player to your television. When we had a TV with only one HDMI port, we simply unplugged the HDMI cable from the back of the DVD player and plugged it into the computer. Our current television has two HDMI ports, so we have one dedicated to the DVD player and one for attaching to the computer.
We used to need a lot of materials for our morning time, like hymnals, copies of the verses we were memorizing and books we were reading aloud. Now, it’s all on the computer and everyone can see it from the television. Usually, I’m the one sitting in that rocking chair, but I grabbed a picture of my son manning the controls so I could give you an idea of how it works.
I’d also love to share with you some of our favorite resources. Before I start, however, I need to make two cautions or disclaimers:
- If these ideas meet needs your homeschool has or if they fix problems you’ve been trying to solve, I hope you will find them helpful BUT if you already have a system that is working for you, please don’t change it. This is a method. Not the method.
- This is a list of many various resources we have used at different times. We most definitely do not (or have not at any time) used all of these together in one morning time!
- I’ve had eSword on my computer for ages. Now that we use the computer for our morning time, I can display the text on the screen while we read aloud. The software itself is free. And many of the different Bible versions, commentaries and other resources are free as well.
- We’ve enjoyed using Remember Me for Bible memory. This is a free app. You choose or enter a verse you’d like to work on. Then you have the choice of a variety of activities to practice it, such as a mode where some of the words are visible and some are blurred so that you can test how much you can remember. There isn’t currently a desktop version, but there are a few ways to work around that.
- I’ve also just used a Word Document for Bible memory. I copy and paste the verse from eSword into a Word document in large type and then remove one or two words at a time to provide memory practice.
- We love to sing hymns and psalms together. Just as an example, (you could research whatever you need to fit your preferences) we found the entire Trinity Hymnal (words only) and a recording of the tunes (in midi format) on the Trinity Hymnal Resources page of the Orthodox Presbyterian church website. Another great site is Hymnary.org which has over 5,000 different hymnals indexed!
- We have loved learning and discussing the Westminster Catechism together. It isn’t too hard to find most catechisms or other creeds on line. But one of our favorite resources is the set of four CD’s from artist Holly Dutton to learn the Catechism (questions and answers) to music! Actually (at the time of this posting) the first three volumes are available to stream for free for Amazon Prime Music members!
- Of course, we love Khan Academy. Sometimes I log in through my account and show the children videos. We can pause and discuss or just watch through. Sometimes the kids do their own independent review attached to the TV so that others can watch, too. In the picture above, my son is participating in an animation lesson (actually designed by the folks at Pixar)! He has also learned a great deal about music and science topics. Khan Academy is a wealth of information!
- We have also loved Math Antics. We found them originally on YouTube. You can watch all of their videos for free. They also have a review sheets and tests to coordinate with their videos, but this is paid content. The videos are brilliant. They are engaging and dynamic and use a lot of very helpful visual cues to explain concepts. Here is one that was particularly helpful to some folks around here.
- Of course there are an almost endless list of things I could talk about when it comes to language resources on-line, such as audio books from Librivox and eBooks and audio books on Overdrive (through out library).
- We’ve used Word Build as a vocabulary activity. Instead of just learning words, Word Build focuses on learning the most common “word parts” like prefixes and suffixes and then exploring how those change the meaning of a base word. This is the digital version of a popular print resource.
- And have you tried the FREE Phonogram Sounds App from All About Reading/All About Spelling? It’s pretty cool. You can actually test it out on their website before downloading. And yes, there is a desktop version.
- My all-time-favorite digital find this year, hands-down, has been the On-Line Unit Studies by Beth Napoli over at Techie Homeschool Mom. I wrote about them here, but you have to experience it to really appreciate it! The amazing part is that Beth constantly has Unit Studies discounted or even FREE for her subscribers! It doesn’t cost anything to subscribe and she keeps you in the loop about what’s available each month.
- We also love the On-Line Self-Paced history program from Veritas Press that we’ve been using for several years. It covers so much more than “just” history – wrapping in map skills, period art, first-hand accounts and lots of great interactive questions and even review games!
- And finally, we’ve enjoyed this (AMAZING) Free Music Education course from Raising DaVinci. Amanda has put together a series of seven fun videos and simple activities to do with your children to introduce ideas like rhythm, note reading and rests!
- We have been using Classical Academic Press Latin for three years now and will begin our fourth in the fall. We started with Song School Latin and have also completed Latin for Children A and B, with C waiting in the wings for next year. But next year, I am considering purchasing only one copy of the textbook (for myself to guide instruction) and relying exclusively on Headventureland.com for their practice. Headventure Land includes tons of activities. Flash Dash reviews vocabulary, drag-and-drop formats help to practice memorization of chart and chants. And lots of different interactive activities review grammar topics and derivatives. They have also developed nifty little computer animated videos to review vocabulary! Many of these can be found YouTube by searching “Classical Academic Press vocabulary practice”
This is such a great idea! I love it! Love all the family learning and how involved everyone can be. I’m sure Beth is drooling over your Digital Morning time. LOL 😉 And I guess great minds think alike because I just posted some Free digital resources I plan to use over the summer. https://wherelifeisreal.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/avoid-the-summer-brain-drain-free-resources/
Thanks for sharing such a great idea. 🙂
Yes! I saw those! Loved that. Oh, and I meant to include Xtra math in mine, too! Oh well. Another time. 🙂 (So, anyone reading this, definitely follow Jenny’s link and check out her suggestions, too!)
It’s a little pricey compared to your other resources, and is more hardware than software, but Google’s Chromecast is a great wireless alternative to the HDMI cable. Very plug-and-play,a simple extension on your Chrome browser (you ARE using Chrome, right?) lets you cast anything in your browser tab to your tv. And with a recent software update, you can even choose to cast things outside the browser – any open window, or your entire desktop! So it provides all the same results as the cable (though perhaps with a bit of lag) so you just have to decide if going wireless is worth $35!
Love that idea! Yes, I definitely think Chromecast is worth looking into at some point. Right now I can look up YouTube videos on my phone and then play them on the Smart TV wirelessly. Also, yes, we are using Chrome. And (shhhh – don’t tell!) if the oldest two get Chromebooks for their birthday, that will take us to a whole new level because we’ll actually be able to display Android apps on the TV, right?
Family School is the way to go when you have a large family! We’ve had great success the Remember Me app. Most of my kids ( older than your kiddos) use YouVersion’s Bible app for personal devotions. There are lots of learning opportunities we stream through our Roku.. Netflix, specialized channels for exercise, hobbies, etc.
Yes, we have a Roku upstairs so I need to check into what resources we have available there. Never heard of YouVersion – I’ll have to check that out, too!
Love this Lynna! I have an apple tv and can stream anything from any device! I’m going to try some of these tips with my iPad! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!