Oct 28, 2013

Does Technology Have a Place in Your Homsechool? {Our Favorite Techie Teaching Tools}

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a friend who I hadn’t talked to in a while. The topic of conversation quickly rolled around to our little ones (surprising, I know).  A few moments into the conversation, she inquired, “So, do your kids play on your iPhone a lot?”

*heart pounding… crickets chirping*

“Uh, yeah, sometimes they do. I set boundaries with it, but honestly, they probably know how to work it better than I do!” I responded hesitantly, not knowing if I would be crucified for my kid even knowing what an iPhone was, much less knowing how to work the thing (I’m well aware that Mama’s can be vicious when they’re passionate about something!)

“Yeah, my little one is the same,” she replied.

*sigh of relief from both of us as we handed our little ones our iPhones so we could continue our chat* <-- Kidding! Not that I haven't been tempted!

Let’s just get it out there: I love technology, especially in the form of pocket-sized computers that help to organize my life (<—I need to update that list!). And my children fancy technology as well. I realize that technology can be harmful if it is not used or monitored properly, but I’m also convinced that it can also be used for good—and I would dare say, even for the glory of God (read my thoughts on Facebook here). So as important as I believe it is to evaluate my own use of technology (whether it be TV, internet, iPhone use, etc.), I believe that it a hundred times more important to evaluate my children’s use of technology.

Using Technology in Your Preschool Homeschool

That being said, I’m not at all opposed to using technology in our homeschool. And while eighty percent of our learning is done the old fashioned way, I frequently explore websites, educational DVD's/CD's, and iPhone apps that may help to add a little extra excitement to the learning process. Here are some of our favorite resources:

{1} Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (app)
Both of my boys LOVE this app, Liam a little more than Silas now. For a mere $1.99 I have been able to reinforce colors, shapes, letter recognition, and number recognition using this app. There is also a pretty cool sticker reward system for completing a certain number of activities. It’s no wonder this is the #1 preschool app in the app store!

{2} Starfall.com (website)
I’m still pretty new to this website, but Silas and I have used the interactive calendar almost daily. Silas has explored the alphabet a little, and I can already tell it’s going to come in handy when he starts reading.

{3}The Magic School Bus (DVD)
Although I remember the Magic School Bus from my younger days, I had forgotten what a great learning tool it is. Some of the moms at our Classical Conversation campus encouraged me to make it a part of our homeschool, and I’m so glad we did. Just last week we watched episodes on the solar system, space rocks, and stars. All three episodes corresponded to what we are learning in science.

{4} ABC Letter Tracing (app)
This app is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. It’s a very basic app for helping kids to practice uppercase and lowercase letter formation. There are many other tracing apps, but I like that there are no other distracting features on this app. When it’s time to trace, it’s time to trace.

{5} YouTube.com (website)
Ever wondered Why Isn’t Pluto a Planet Anymore? My 4 1/2 year old did! I had to weed through the selections, but I was pretty pleased with the explanation I got from Dr. Hurt via YouTube. Since we’ve started Classical Conversations, I’ve found lots of good videos to help Silas to visualize science or history facts. FYI, I NEVER allow my children to just play on YouTube (for obvious reasons). I always do my research first and then we watch together!

{6} Leapfrog (DVD, CD)
If you subscribe to Netflix, there’s no need to go out and buy Leapfrog DVD’s, and if you don’t subscribe to Netflix, chances are your local library has copies. Our most recent Leapfrog favorite has been the Leapfrog Learning Songs CD that we can play in the car. It’s great for learning the days of the week, months of the year, and counting/skip counting. Liam has memorized so much by listening to this CD.

{7} Storynory (App)
This is my most recent discovery, and I'm excited to explore it a little more. I’ve really been into audiobooks lately, and so has Silas. He loves listening to his Jesus Storybook Bible CD and his Cubbie’s CD. He also listens to stories from Childhood’s Favorite and Fairy Stories on booksshouldbefree.com while painting or playing with playdough. I think it’s a great way for him to sharpen his listening skills without the visual aids. So I was excited to discover tons of classic stories on the FREE storynory app. I’m not familiar with all of the stories, so I plan on proceeding with caution, but I think the classic Pinocchio would be a pretty safe place to start. We shall see!

What are your favorite techie teaching tools (apps, DVD's, websites, CD's, etc.)? 


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