How to keep files handy across all your gadgets #homeschool

There’s one question I’m often asked most often by fellow homeschool moms….how are you able to use your stuff on all your different gadgets?

First off, instead of saving all my documents, videos, etc to my hard drive, I save it to DropBox. DropBox is a great place on the web which you can access from all your devices, including your computer, your smartphone, and your tablet. You can choose to keep your files private or you can create shared folders so you can share docs and other things with whomever you want. You can sign-up for free and receive 2Gb of storage space. If you refer friends you’ll receive 250Mb more for each friend. I’ve also found my DropBox stored files to be super handy when I’m using a shared computer – I can access my files through a web browser.

For music if you have an Android smart phone I’d use MusicWithMe for storing and sharing my music.  With this app you can sync wirelessly with your iTunes account. You can create playlists and even share them with your friends. You can share your music on Facebook, Twitter or email. See and share music your friends or fellow homeschools like. This would be great for a curriculum that studies particular musical pieces – like AmblesideOnline.

For my bookmarks on my browser I use Google Bookmark on my Google Toolbar. Again I can access my bookmarks from a web browser anywhere, on any device. If you’re using Firefox you can install the Google Toolbar and have your bookmarks fully integrated. While I wish it was the same for Chrome, it is not integrated.

That’s just a couple ways to keep your important stuff handy and useable. Thankfully the more fun devices there are on the market, there will always be more ways to keep connected.

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Is it worth an Audible subscription? #homeschool

Audible – Is it worth it?

As a frugal homeschooler I’m always asking myself if something is truly worth the money. One question that was recently raised was is it worth the expense of having an Audible subscription?

Personally, I did subscribe to Audible when they offered a sign-up promotion…I believe it was 2 free ‘credits’ and then the regular monthly fee.  I chose the subscription option of receiving 1 credit a month. At the time Audible was exactly what I needed. We were taking some very long road trips back and forth to family and I needed ‘non-schoolish’ audio books to occupy both myself and my children. I was motivated since they had a number of books not available on Librivox, including the Ted Bell childrens book series, Nick Of Time and also books of interest just for me. In most cases, especially factoring in the 2 free credits it was very worthwhile.

I’ve since cancelled my membership now that we’re not making the long trips as often. I also found that a number of the audio books I desired were cheaper than the monthly subscription fee. So it made more sense for me to purchase these without the credits. As an aside, when I went to unsubscribe they asked why…I selected it was the financial aspect. Audible then offered to add $20 to my account if I would remain a member, to which I did. I have since unsubscribed but I feel I did get great value for the money and I would subscribe again if and when my needs change.

That being said there are other places to get free audio books beyond Librivox.
The main source is the library.

Check out your library’s website. They may have an arrangement with Overdrive Media Console for their audiobooks and NetLibrary also offers similar. You can download these directly to your computer or your mp3 player depending on the site without ever having to step foot in the library. And of course, libraries also usually have cd audiobooks you can add to your computer and then transfer to your mp3 players.

Hope that helps and happy listening!

My dirty little secret… #homeschool #charlottemason

Okay, it’s out. I have a dirty little secret. I love technology AND I’m a Charlotte Mason homeschooler.

I know, I know. Some people may think that you can’t pitch your tent in both camps. How can you be a follower of an educational philosophy from the turn of the last century that embodies the essence of delicious living books while advocating the use of, dare I say it…screens…??!?!

Well, any modern day follower of Miss Mason knows that it’s the perfect philosophy for technophiles for a number of reasons. The most obvious being the proliferation of ebooks.

If there’s one thing that stands out amongst Charlotte Mason types, it’s our love of quality books. Good, well-written, ‘living’ books where the author embraces the passion of their chosen subject and passes it along to the reader. Thankfully, an extraordinary number of quality books are now available as ebooks for free or fairly inexpensively. Check out my previous post where I list reputable free ebook sites. You can’t beat the ability to store and read thousands of books on devices as small as an iPod Touch or a Kindle or an iPad and have them accessible when you need them instead of sitting, hidden behind another book, somewhere on a shelf.

Charlotte Mason also advocated short, focused lessons. And nothing draws a child’s attention like a ‘gadget’. Technology can help a distracted child focus those precious minutes on learning while still satisfying their curiosity. I’ve found that it takes twice as long to drill math facts by ‘hand’ (flashcards) than if I had my child drill with a website. And well-designed sites and apps also chart progress and other interesting stats. Check out Math-u-See’s drill page for distraction-free practice.

Foremost, Miss Mason’s philosophy encompasses education as being an ‘environment’, a ‘discipline’, a ‘life’. I think that by providing your children with an environment that incorporates technology instead of fearing it, the precedent is set for your child’s success in the future.

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