Five Best Innovative iPad Accessories for Homeschooling

The iPad is currently one of the most popular platforms of entertainment favored by both kids and adults. However, apart from its function as a platform for amusement, Apple’s famed tablet is now also being used as a tool for education at home.

There are literally hundreds of apps today that specifically target homeschooled boys and girls. Learning site Te@chthought has listed 40 iPad apps for homeschooled students, which are perfect for kids aged 4 and up.

However, despite the number of amazing homeschooling apps that could very well replace traditional school lessons for growing children, the iPad is as only good as its accessories. Without the proper accessories to accompany it, a homeschool teacher wouldn’t be able to utilize Apple’s tablet to its full potential. So aside from tablet cases, here are 5 essential accessories that are needed for teaching kids at home:

Twelve South Compass Mobile Stand

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(courtesy of smokingapples.com)

The problem with most tablet stands is that they only allow the device to rest either in portrait or landscape mode. This is where the  Twelve South Compass Mobile Stand  comes in, allowing you to view the tablet in any orientation you want. Homeschooling shouldn’t reflect traditional schools where learning is mostly done on a desk. Rather, homeschooling should adjust depending on the situation and the Twelve South Compass Mobile Stand is perfect for that.

The beauty about this stand is that it is easy to set-up: all you need to do is fold out its legs and the two iPad supports. If you want to switch into typing mode, just fold out the secondary leg at the back.

Li9184319087_7431b04e9f_zfeProof Waterproof iPad Nuud Case

 (courtesy of Cristina Go)

When homeschooling demands a field trip to the ocean, it’s best to seal the iPad with a waterproof case to prevent it from wearing out. The LifeProof Waterproof iPad Nuud Case  is an amazing accessory because it seals the iPad completely. It comes with Nuud’s naked screen technology, which inhibits air gap to interfere with the touch navigation.

Apple TV
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The Apple TV is a great accessory for homeschool teachers who don’t want to tether their tablet like a traditional school projector or podium. It is a digital media receiver that delivers lectures and presentations wirelessly with the help of the AirPlay feature.  This medium comes in handy when you conduct film viewings, stream podcasts, and watch documentaries to more than two kids at home.

Don’t be fooled by Apple TV’s single core A5 chip. Even though it lacks in speed compared to the ultrafast processing power of newer smartgadgets such as Apple’s very own iPhone 6 or competitor Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4’s, Apple TV can still deliver a seamless and high-quality streaming.

Brydge Keyboard With Speakers
7138536257_6e405c67e8_o(courtesy of karmelka66)

Even the most tech-savvy teachers find it troublesome to type on a touchscreen for long periods of time. Hence, our list would not be complete without an external keyboard to go along with the iPad. Perhaps the best keyboard to use is the Brydge iPad Keyboard with Speakers, which makes iPads look like laptops. The keyboard is finished with a matte coating, wherein two rubber bumpers are mounted on the front to prevent the screen to interact with the keys. The rubber feet at the bottom are an essential feature, preventing the tablet from sliding off the keyboard while resting on a flat surface.

Magnetic MiStand
stand

 

 

 

 

(courtesy of Cult of Mac)

If you want to dedicate a certain part of the house as a “Virtual Learning Corner,” you can place your iPad on that space and snap it with the Magnetic MiStand. According to  Cult of Mac, the tablet stand employs a magnetic ball to hold the iPad in place. You can allow kids to go to the corner in groups of three or four as the stand rotates to any angle, thanks to the ball and socket joint held by magnets. As it uses a nano-suction mechanism, the MiStand becomes applicable to other devices such as the Kindle Fire and Wacom graphic tablets.

While you need to shell out some money to have these accessories, it can’t be denied the amount of assistance they offer in homeschool learning.

 

@WrittenbyJenni

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How to create an iBook on the iPad with Pages

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This last weekend I had to give a talk and unfortunately my printer refused to print! My next option was to use my iPad. I really did not want to use Pages on my iPad for my talk so I discovered that you can export a documents right from Pages into iBook! (With one small intermediate step) Once my document was in iBooks it was easy to increase the font size.  This made reading my notes was easy on the iPad.

Setting up the Document:

Before exporting to iBooks, I would recommend adding chapter headings to your document. I just used heading 1 and titled it Chapter 1. I added three chapters.

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Open Pages document in Another App:

Once you have the document finished you can export to another App.  Select the box with the arrow pointing up located in the upper right side of the screen as shown below.

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Choose ePub format for iBooks.

You are then offered several different format options.  You can either convert the document to PDF or ePub for iBooks.  I chose ePub since it allows you to increase or decrease the font size and it also allows for headings.

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You will then need to enter some information about your document. Important: Make sure that the option “Use the first page as the book cover image” is not selected! I accidentally selected this and found out that it makes the first page unreadable because you only see the first page when you look at the bookshelf.

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Your document will now be converted tot he ePub format which can be opened in iBooks.

Make sure you do not include important information in the header and footer since they are removed when Pages creates a ePub file.

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Select which App you want to use to view your document:

Select iBooks to open your Pages document in iBook.  Once opened the document is then saved to your iBooks bookshelf.

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Now you have a simple ePub book that can be read in iBooks.

 

 

Using Kenote as a remote

Apple Keynote can control Keynote. I gave a talk this weekend and I thought it might be nice to have a remote for my Keynote presentation.  A quick internet search revealed that the latest version of Keynote for iOS includes a remote control mode.

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When you open the Keynote app, there is a small icon up top that looks like a remote symbol.  If the icon is not available then you may need to update the Keynote iOS app.  Make sure both devices you want to use either have bluetooth enabled, or they are on the same wifi network.  I used Bluetooth since I didn’t know if wifi was available when I needed to give my presentation.  You must also link the two devices before you can use the iPhone as a remote for Keynote.

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Keynote will start looking for another apple device with Keynote open.  Once it connects, there are various remote layouts you can use on the iOS device.  If you are using an iPhone as the remote, then it can be difficult to read some of the layouts because of the screen size.  All the more reason to use large fonts and few words for your slides.

To advance to the next slide, you just swipe in the direction you want to go.  The swiping to advance is my main compliant for the remote feature.  I wish there was an option for a simple next button.  Maybe I just need more practice but I kept messing up causing the slide to go backwards when I wanted to go forward.

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Here is a picture of the “current and next slide” layout.  You can see that a marker symbol in the upper right hand side of the screen.  This allows you to write on you slide or use a virtual pointer.  Again a small screen may not be optimal for this function.

20140520-075139.jpgOverall it worked pretty well when using an iPhone.  You can also use an iOS device with a Mac.  On the Mac you must go to the preferences and turn on the Keynote remote feature.  You also must link the two devices together for the remote app to work.

 

 

Reading Raven 2 Phonics app review

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One of my favorite Phonics apps is the Reading Raven app.  Now that my son has progressed in his reading and phonics skills I was thrilled to find the Reading Raven Vol 2 HD app.  This extends the Reading Raven path to a higher level that is a little more advanced than the first Reading Raven app.

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Reading Raven Volume 2 HD continues the Reading Raven series of superbly engaging learn-to-read games. Your child is ready to move on to Volume 2, if he or she can read or sound out simple words that follow the consonant-vowel-consonant pattern.  If you are familiar with the first Reading Raven App then you will notice that the games and formats are similar but  harder then the original reading raven app.

If you are looking for an App that  is not just a games but also enforces Phonics then consider the Reading Raven apps.

10 Tablet-Friendly Educational Resources for Homeschooling

Photo courtesy of Honza Soukup via Flickr Creative Commons
Photo courtesy of Honza Soukup via Flickr Creative Commons

 

With the proliferation of technology, the traditional learning landscapes have been transformed into virtual experiences. Today, we’re experiencing the rise of the educational applications, web 2.0 tools, and cloud-based eLearning platforms. Even in the K-12 scene, there are various private vendors that are now offering the lower level MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), which used to be for higher education only. In fact, the total number of homeschooled students has reached over 1.5 million in 2013; thanks to the successful usage of iPad and other mobile devices.

Below, we’ll give you the 10 tablet-ready learning apps and educational online resources you can use while homeschooling your kids.

1. Conversation Builder Teen

Most homeschooled students have limited contact with their fellow students, as opposed to those who attends school regularly. With ConversatonBuilder. You can teach them how to engage and confidently converse with other people around. To make it more engaging, the app provides a virtual image and a speech balloon of the person whom they will practice speaking to. With its full audio and text support, tapping the speech balloon will let them hear the natural response to a situational conversation. Your kid can also participate in its preprogrammed, guided conversations that are designed to take place between two to three people. Discovery K-12 As mentioned above, there are private vendors that offer MOOC-type of classes to interested K-12 students; and one of which is Discovery K-12. It is an iPad platform that offers online curriculum in STEM for K-12. It contains over 16,000 lessons, classic literature eBooks, and a weekly spelling program. New assignments are sent daily for your kids to work on. Similar to the traditional school experience, they will be graded and evaluated for progress tracking.

3. Timeline

Featured as one of Verizon’s growing number of Thinkfinity resources, The Timeline App for Android and iOS helps you create a graphical representation of an event by displaying items (texts, images, and website links) sequentially along a line. Read Write Think said that the Timeline entries can be organized by date, time of the day, or an event. For story writing exercises, your kid can maximize the tool when creating plot sequences. It’s also very interactive. You can access it on other devices (using a common user account) to add text annotations when checking their work.

4. Theatre In The Homeschool

Who says that you can’t expose your kids to the performing arts? Theatre in the Homeschool is a web-based learning resource powered by Learnist. It is optimized to work for the mobile web and desktop browsers. Curated by Kimberly Charron of Homeschooling in Nova Scotia, its virtual books will help you mount a drama class in the comfort of your living room. One of its virtual curricula called “Bring Books To Life With Drama,” shows you how to teach them about improvising a role, basic playwriting, costuming and makeup, and puppetry. The instructions presented online require you to be a hands-on parent in this lesson.

5. Hands-On Equations 1 Lite

Elementary Algebra should also be a part of your home school tablet. Designed for kids aged 8 onwards, the application will help you mount a math class with lessons that are right for their age. Edudemic reiterated that it doesn’t even require the user to have a strong background in algebra to learn the concepts presented. Each lesson comes with an introductory three-to-four minute video followed by two examples, and ten exercises. The lite version only comes with three lessons. The succeeding modules are available through in-app purchases.

6. LanguageBuilder for iPad

Teaching your kids how to properly construct sentences is one of the major lessons that you should integrate into your homeschooling curriculum. LanguageBuilder for iPad is all about improving kids sentence ideation, improve their receptive and expressive language inputs, and improve their word formation. Each exercise is fill in the blanks, where they need to complete the thought of a sentence. It offers distinct images as hint. The app also allows students to record the sentences using their own vocals.

7. Free Geography Resources for Kids

This is another e-Learning resource powered by Learnist, which teaches your kids about basic World Geography. All its virtual textbooks are curated from websites such as National Geographic and Knowledge Quest Maps. In here they will learn about the different countries of the world, its inhabitants, ecology, and climate. It also comes with an impressive feature: a printable giant-sized blank map that you can use to administer tests and activities. You can ask them to color and highlight a particular spot on the map or identify geographical borders of a continent.

8. DK The Human Body App

Recommended by Apps For Homeschooling, the DK The Human Body App is an intuitive scientific tool that will enable you to teach your kids about the basics of anatomy. The digital render of the human body is presented in a child-friendly manner and with excellent 3D animations and vector graphics. All the facets of the Scientific Branch are covered by the app: muscular, skeletal, integrated body, endocrine, respiratory, cardiovascular, immune, digestive, urinary, and reproductive systems. All of them have separate chapters that contain detailed stories and close examinations of certain functions and structures.

9. The Common Core Standards App

This is a useful resource that collates all the teaching standards approved by the Department of Education. Most teachers in K-12 institutions are designing their lesson plans based on the Common Core Standards. We browsed the “Number and Operations-Fractions” standard for Grade 3. It states that each student at this level should only be limited to fractions with denominators 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8. So, if your child belongs to the said grade levels, you can you use this as a guide. This allows the parent to see how your kid’s lessons are aligned to what is prescribed by the Department of Education.

 

10. This Day in History for iPad

We recommend the This Day in History, with its a rich and interactive multimedia calendar that displays significant historical event/s for a given date. The data presented on its calendar interface are a combination of illustrations, photos, and audio speeches. All of its data are synced over the internet. Another interesting feature of the app is the ability to learn other nation’s National Anthem. But, to access them, you need to search for the day they became a nation and manually scroll through the app.

 

These are just some of the curated educational iPad learning resources that you can use when homeschooling your child. For more suggestions, subscribe to our blog.

 

About the Author

Jennifer Birch is proud to be of help with the homeschooling of her niece. She believes that today’s technology makes homeschooling a more viable option for learning, especially with devices’ abilities to pick up information and files. For more insights, message her on Google +.

 

Reading raven app review

As a firm believer in phonics for reading I am always looking for good phonics Apps.  The Reading Raven HD iPad app is one of the few apps that start with a phonics based approach to reading.  20140314-221822.jpg

Reading Raven Features

  • Step-by-step curriculum lets kids learn at their own pace.
  • Multi-sensory reading games that children find engaging.
  • Based on proven phonics-based approach.
  • Customizable for children ages 3 to 7.

Reasons why I recommend the Reading Raven App

What I appreciate most about the app is that in the beginning lessons, Reading Raven introduces very few sight words.   I also like  that Reading Raven has an emphasis on the letter sounds not the letter names.  In the early lessons most of the games are based on sounds.  Sounds are introduced a few at a time.

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You can configure different users and different levels for each user.

Ages 3 and Up
– Letter matching
– Letter tracing
– Letter recognition
– Word matching

Ages 4 and Up
– Vocabulary
– Word beginnings
– Word building (spelling)
– Word spotting

Ages 5 and Up
– Reading aloud using voice recording
– Word tracing
– Word groups (rhyming and beginning sounds)

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Be sure to check out Reading Raven.

Fix for iPad 2 iOS 7 wifi droping

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The iPad 2 has been a great tablet.  I have had little issues with the iPad including connecting to wifi networks.  Unfortunately that seems to have changed with the update to iOS 7.  I really didn’t want to update my iPad 2 to the latest OS but unfortunately my iPad broke. I had to send it the iPad away to be fixed. When th iPad came back from repair it was updated to ios7 and that seems to be when the problems started.  Ever since the repair I have had problems with my iPads wifi connection.  The iPad 2 would loose the wifi connection or it would the connection would be very slow.  I tried a number of changes to my router based on some Apple forums but none of them seemed to fix my problems.  If I restarted the iPad things would work for a little while but then the problems would came back.  Resseting the wifi setting seemed to work temporarily but  I was getting tired of always resetting the wifi.

Finally I decided it was time to update my wireless router.  I had read that a different router worked for some people.  I hate the idea of changing hardware just so my iPad 2 works but If I could find a good cheap router it would be worth it instead of sending my iPad back to Best buy and being without an iPad for 18 days!

I found a new western Digital router that allowed two USB hard drives to be connected to it.  This would also help my storage limitations on the iPad.  So I gave it a try.

Results:
It seems to work!  One of the reasons why a different router seems to make the difference is the 5 MHz band.  Apparently my old router only used the 2.4 GHz band.  With my new router I named the two networks with 2.4 and 5 in the names so I could tell what connection each device used.  I was surprised that the iPad preferred the 5 GHz band while my iPhone 4S preferred the 2.4 GHz band.  My guess is that the iPad 2 had some issue with 2.4 GHz and possibly has something to do with iOS 7 update.

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Not only did the new router seem to fix my iPad 2 wifi connection problems but it also has the potential to fix my iPad storage issue. The router has two USB ports which I hope to use as a cloud storage solution for the iPad. I hope to write more about it in the next few days.

iPad drawing app to create outline maps

The iPad is one of the easiest ways to create digital artwork.  One way I use the iPad for homeschooling is to customize maps or to create a map outline using a drawing app.   I use the SketchBook Pro for iPad app, but you can also use the free sketchbook express app.  The only requirement for creating an outline map is that the drawing app has the ability to create layers.

To create an outline map just search for any map picture.  Import that picture to your drawing app.  Create a blank layer over the picture.  Then you can trace the main map details on your outline map.20140210-234306.jpg

Once you have your outline then you simply delete the original map  layer and then save your outline map to your photo roll.  Now you can use the picture in a number of ways for school.  20140210-234320.jpg
Here are
more autodesk apps.

Skyfish Phonics app review

Sky Fish Phonics by Knowbility is an app that some would consider more of a fun review game than a teaching educational app.  It’s the closest app to a game that I have on the iPad. The goal of the game is to achieve different costumes for your fish. You get a new costume when you finish a level. You finish a level by shooting your fish through different obstacles.  Some of the obstacles require you to choose the right sound or match words with sounds.  The prize for finishing the level is a new costume for your fish.

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There are several settings you can change.20131224-201912.jpg

Overall my boys had fun playing this game however it seemed like there was more entertainment than learning.  I feel that the Phonics elements  to the game were better then some games that claim to be based on phonics.  Still I would recommend this game for reinforcing phonics but I would not use the app for a new learner.

Smartphone spelling list

If you have a smartphone then you probably carry it with you most if the time. Here is a tip for homeschool spelling word lists. I use my iphone to keep a spelling list for each of my kids. Any time my daughter asks how to spell a word, I pull out my iPhone and add the word to the list. This also helps me ensure I am spelling the word right. Below is a picture of the list for my son.

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If there is a word my children spell wrong when they write, I also add it to their list. I can add words from the list to thier spelling words for the week.
Hope this helps. If you have anything that helps I would love to here from you.