Saturday, December 10, 2011

iPad - How it's changing our homeschool

We love our iPad, it goes almost everywhere with us and comes in very handy when waiting at swimming lessons or medical appointments.  Most of all i love the way we integrate our iPad into our homeschool.  I can see that we will do more and more on the iPad in the coming years as developers release more apps to suits the homeschool community.

So, how do we use it for school?

For handwriting we use Whiteboard Pro.  We have a stylus that we can use to write on the iPad like a pen and paper.  Whiteboard Pro enables us to select different colours and nib size so that we can focus on formation.  Flossy is learning cursive this way and Bugsy is learning to print.  They still use a regular program, Flossy is using New American Cursive and Bugsy Handwriting Without Tears but the iPad enables them to practice, practice, practice without wasting a mountain of paper.  We can hone in on letters they are struggling with and really nail them on the iPad and because we don't have the obvious output of a covered sheet of paper in front of us we are more likely to keep going and not complain :)  Just this afternoon Flossy sat for half an hour focusing on the joining of a, b & c in cursive.  She didn't want to stop until is was just right.  If you need to it is easy enough to add a few guidelines or even use a larger nib and then have the child trace over with a smaller nib in a different colour.  I also love this app when you want to demo a math problem or just jot something down to demonstrate a concept.  When you'd normally reach for your big whiteboard or a piece of scrap paper Whiteboard Pro fills the spot.  Love this app!

In the last couple of days i have downloaded SoundLiteracy.  This app is VERY pricey but i am hoping that it will mesh well with All About Spelling and negate some of the time we spend at the whiteboard moving around the tiles, which seem to go missing regularly.  I can't tell you how many i have had to fish out of the vacuum cleaner!  From what i have heard the developer is open to feedback and is already looking at several suggestions to improve the program.  So far we have done two lessons (AAS level 1 & 4) using the app and it has been a great success.  So glad i found this!

There are a bunch of maths apps that i love.  It is wonderful to be able to offer SO MUCH variety to make drilling those math facts fun.  Ooops, don't let my kids read that, they think they are playing games!  Here are our top maths pics in no particular order, Rocket Math, S-Kruis Tafels, Splash Math grade 3 (other grades are available) and Math Ninja.  I also find these maths apps handy for teaching 100 Board, Counting Bear and AL Abacus but they are not games.

Recently i have come across Notability and i am LOVING it and can see that this is part of the future of my homeschool.  Notability allows you to import PDF files using Dropbox or syncing, although Dropbox is easier when you are always on the go, and then annotate right onto the PDF.  So you can import a maths or language arts worksheet or complete workbook and have your child complete it right onto the iPad and save the work for you to check.  This makes the whole printing, binding storing of paperwork obsolete!  LOVE it!  Prior to finding Notability i had tried a number of annotation apps for this purpose but found they were cumbersome and clunky.  Notability is much better.  The developer is very pro feedback and continuing to work on and improve his app.  Yay!  Love proactive developers!  I can see that i will be purchasing more curricula in PDF format.  I had previously avoided this, so it's a big change.

For narration i am playing around with Dragon Dictation.  In theory i'd love to be able to have the kids independently narrate straight into the iPad and have it all typed out as they speak, but i'm not too sure if this is going to be a seamless as i hope.  I really need to spend more time on this app to make sure it will do exactly what i want but thought because it has lots of potential i would let you all know about it :)

I asked the kids to share their current favourite apps and they said -

Flossy's - Splash Math Grade 3
Bugsy's - Rocket Math
Chicky's - Whiteboard Pro (she loves to draw with this app)

Care to share your families favourite apps?  We'd love to read them in the comments.

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