Tuesday, February 15, 2011


AD, our college student son, needed some important items brought to his apartment at the University of Minnesota last week.  AH, our homeschooler, needed to memorize the books of the new testament for confirmation, review some math facts, and do some independent reading.  What's a mom to do?  Take school on the road, of course!

We are about 35 - 45 minutes away from the University of Minnesota, so I packed up our iPod Touch, the flashcards I made up for AH to learn the new testament books, his bible, and the book he has been reading independently. As we backed out of the driveway, AH went right to work on memorizing the New Testament Books.  He took the flashcards and worked on placing the books in order and memorizing them.  He really wanted to learn all of them by confirmation on Wednesday evening.  I believe there was a reward or prize at stake here.  After we dropped off the forgotten items to big brother, AH worked on his math review by playing a game on the iPod, and then finished his independent reading.  We were able to get most of our "schooling" done by the time we pulled into the parking lot for swimming lessons.

All too often these days, we find ourselves in our car traveling to museums, classes, clubs, gym, and field trips.  Instead of writing off those times as wasted, we try to use them so  that we have more time to play, learn and read together outside of the car!  Our history spine, The Story of the World, is available as an audiobook - MP3 downloadable version and that is what we order.  We get it immediately and we have it loaded on each of our laptops and our iPod Touch.

One of the most popular homeschool helps, Netflix, is now offering streaming video to computers, iPads, iPods, and game consoles.  We have often used this feature to watch documentaries about subjects we are studying.  This way there is no waiting for a disc to arrive.  When AH expresses an interest to explore a topic more, we jump on our Netflix site and find a movie or documentary!  While he's watching, sometimes I'm on another device finding supporting sites and reserving books from our local library.

There are many wonderful iPod apps available (a lot for free).  One of our favorites is WW Capitals by Mulishani which is available in the iTunes app store for free! It is a clever app that has flash cards with a country name, flag and capital.  The flash cards can either be scrolled or looked at individually.  Our favorite feature of this app is the quiz.  It is NOT easy!  But AH loves this app and often plays it while waiting for performances or classes to start.  He has become so good at knowing the flags and capitals of many countries that he can beat his 25 year old sister at it (and remember, she is a geography major!) The same company also has similar apps that cover state capitals and the US Presidents.

Besides the apps stores available on your mobile devices how does one find these apps?  One of the best resources for finding cool educational apps is the Apps-School website.  They also have a facebook page and that is where I found a fun fractions review game for AH.  Motion Math ($ .99) is fairly basic, but it makes a fun review of fractions, decimals and percentages.  Beats a worksheet any day! Since it is a visual representation of fractions, decimals and percentages it made everything click with my right-brained learner.

Some of my most memorable and interesting conversations with AH have occurred in the car.  I don't want to lose that, so we don't always pack our gadgets when we are out on the road.  But I am very thankful for the wonderful technology available and will take advantage of it if it enhances our learning.  Gotta go now, AH is waiting to read an old-fashioned paper book on the couch this afternoon!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Out and About

Wow.  What a whirlwind month January was!  February is beginning to look like it'll be a busy month, too.  Generally, AH and I love our time at home together, but there have been so many opportunities lately, that we couldn't say no.  Here are just a few pictures of our exploits this January:

Science Museum of Minnesota: Geometry Playground

We visited the U of M Chemistry Dept. for a Chemistry Demo and Hands on experiments!
We love watching things go up in flames!

Hard to see, but there is a flying pop bottle launched with a chemical reaction

My scientist
An afternoon of free rides at Nick Universe at the Mall of America
Nickelodeon Universe  

Homeschool Gym
Tour of KSTP TV station
Celebrated our friend Michael's birthday!
Add to this swimming lessons, art club, a comedy show for homeschoolers, and a trip to the Omni Theater and that adds up to a busy month!