10 Tech Tools For Teachers and Homeschool Parents

I love technology. I love bringing technology into our homeschool classroom, especially when it will expand our knowledge, entertain and teach the kids, or keep me more organized. Today I want to share 10 different tech tools I have come across that are great for teachers and homeschool parents. These are all either tools that I currently use or will use as the year progresses.

1. Pinterest... I know, duh! 

2. Youtube is full of knowledge. My kids to get to watch a science video once a week during school. I like being able to find things posted by teachers, scientists, and educational cartoons in one place. 

3. Newsela is an amazing resource, especially for young readers. Newsela takes stories from popular news outlets and "levels" them for different reading levels, allowing kids to understand what is going on in the world and improve in literacy. It is also helping to teach students very important critical thinking skills, that are lacked by so many. The CEO founded the company after his son was given a Dr. Seuss book to read while other students were reading chapter books - not only disempowering his son but also helping him realize that teachers don’t have the tools to deal with students reading at different levels. 

4. StartWrite is a great handwriting worksheet software that is really easy to use. I like to use it to make copywork sheets.

5. Wonderopolis "where the wonders of learning never cease," is a great place to get information and fun facts to accompany a lesson. I like to use it during our "question of the day," when Tbomb can't think of a question.

6. Teach With Movies provides free lesson plans to accompany movies for just about any subject.

7. Space Place, brought to you by NASA, provides fun and educational lessons for kids on space.

8. PBS online gives access to online programming for almost any subject matter.

9. Kid Courses. Is there something you want your students to learn, but do not feel comfortable teaching or want to learn with them?  KidCourses may be the answer, I am especially fond of the sign language courses.

10. Typing Club is a free way to teach kids to type. Great concept!

Keeping Kids Healthy With #Glovies + Test Results

My kids have been spending more time in doctor's offices than usual lately and this will not be slowing down anytime soon. Not only am I having dental work done, but my poor Snapper is still not talking. She was tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is not on the spectrum and is a very social child. Besides talking, she was right where she is supposed to be as far as developmentally speaking. The doctors did say that she has some anxiety, though, that they want to watch- most likely because she cannot talk. They did say that she obviously wants to, so that is more testing for us. I just want answers so that I can help my precious little girl reach her full potential and be happy. So, there is more testing for us.

Disclaimer: I did receive samples to facilitate my review. However, all opinions are my own.

With all these doctor visits, my kids have been battling colds like crazy, one time taking the whole family out of commission. I give them a zinc, echinecia, vitamin c blend, but this just isn't enough. I've been searching for a way to keep them from picking up germs in waiting rooms. When it is a three hour visit, it is hard for little ones to sit still. Glovies came to my rescue!
Glovies are disposible, mulitpurpose gloves for kids. They are perfect for art projects, cleaning, staying germ-free, sensory issues, and so much more. We have used them for craft projects, but mostly for visiting doctors, where they are needed the most.

I keep several pair, along with a few antibacterial wipes, in each kids' backpack. This way, they are always with them. If they have sat too long, tablets have died, schoolwork is finished, and they get bored, they can play with the toys. However, they have to leave the gloves on and clean their hands after they are done (we've had too many colds!)

I think these would be perfect for all families to keep on hand. They fit up to age 9, and have a ton of puposes. You can even use them for baking, crafts, public restrooms, potty training, chores, dog cleanup, and so much more. They are a great price too! Just $12.99 for a box of 100. Definitely worth it to me!

For more tips on keeping your family germ free, visit the My Mom Knows Best Blog!

Health Items to Store at Home

Whether you have a household full of kids or live as a single person, keeping certain health items around the house is a critical choice. Disasters can occur at nearly any time, and professional help may not be at your disposal. On your next shopping trip, stock up on these common items that will help you stay safe in times of emergency.

The Basic First-Aid Kit

Begin with the basics in your emergency kit, including the first-aid container. This kit should have an ample supply of bandages, gauze, tape and antiseptics. Take a close look at the size of the kit before you buy it. Some kits are designed for a certain household size. Ideally, pick a kit that's slightly larger than your current household size so that you can serve everyone with ease.

Drug Screening Tools

A big part of staying healthy is understanding the drugs that are possibly within a person's system. Although you may not have professional drug hardware, such as an HIV ELISA kit, there are household testing tools that you can buy. Test a loved one for drugs so that they don't have any issues with other medications taken at the same time. You can save a life with this one kit.

Water Supplies Galore

Humans cannot live for very long without water in their system. Before you work on another section of your health supplies, purchase many bottles of water. In fact, buy more water than you think you'll drink or use in a given week. If an emergency sets in where municipal water supplies aren't available, those bottled products will save a life.

Blankets, Canned Items and More

Your health also depends on the sheltering items that you keep on hand. Being exposed to cold conditions can hurt a person as much as a disease. Stock several thick blankets, hats and gloves at your home. Add to your water supply by purchasing canned foods that will provide energy and nourishment too.

Extra batteries, a radio and stocked prescriptions are just a few of the other items that should be on hand as part of your emergency stock. Take a close look at what items you might use on a daily basis that are absolute necessities. If you cannot live a day without that item, add some of them to your emergency stock pile. You'll be as prepared as possible when an emergency strikes.

Easily Track Chores and Limit Screen Time with #OrientalTrading

Disclaimer: I received products to complete this project. I have not been compensated in any other way.

Tbomb has a tablet that he uses for school, Minecraft, a few games, and watching movies. Snapper has a LeapPad and will soon be upgraded to an Android Tablet. Screen time is a constant battle in our house and I never can seem to remember to check off chores on their chore chart. I came up with a simple solution to solve both of those problems. All you need is a few items found in Oriental Trading's teaching supplies.

All you need is library pockets, large craft sticks, markers, heavy duty magnets, and magnet tape. The hardest part of this project figuring out which chores to choose. I chose some things they do every day anyway and mixed in some things I want the kids working on doing every day, like making their own beds. I also added in a once a week chore. Theirs is cleaning the yard, which includes picking up sticks, toys, and trash. I wrote the name of the chore on one side and any details on the other side.

Then, you have to pick an amount of time for each chore. I made this simple. The everyday chores are worth 5 minutes of tablet time. The weekend chore is 30 minutes. I added in another stick because my children enjoy whining. It simply says "whining.... -2 minutes." That one gets them every time.

I added heavy duty magnets to the back of the library magnets and Xyron magnet tape to the back of the popsicle sticks. Stick the craft sticks inside the pockets and stick on the fridge. I added them to the kids' "launch station." The launch station has their character traits they should be working on- Tbomb's is helping without expecting a reward, and Snapper's is getting someone's attention without yelling. It works pretty well. This station also has magnets for great work, a timer, our quiet stick, and Tbomb's target.

We have actually been using this chore system for about a week and I could not possibly be happier with the results.

DIY Morning board and Portable Classroom #OrientalTrading

Disclaimer: I received products to complete this project. I have not been compensated in any other way.

As I mention a lot, we homeschool. Our school, Owl Creek Academy, does not have a classroom. We do school usually at the kitchen table, but move to the living room floor or even outside at times. I like it being versatile, but not having a classroom space has been difficult in the past- no whiteboard, no morning area, just notebooks. This year, I was determined to change that and thanks to Oriental Trading's amazing teaching resources, I was able to accomplish it. This has made a huge difference in our homeschool and it might do the same for yours.

This simple table top pocket chart juiced up for our classroom has solved so many problems. We have a whiteboard and chalkboard, no matter where we do our class. We have a wall to put relevant learning aids, we have a pocket chart, and we have a morning board. All of this folds up into an amazing portable classroom! I could not be happier with our new set up.

What you will need: 

Table top pocket chart
Chalkboard Sticker
Dry erase sticker
Wipe-off pockets
Tape Roller
Weather Spinner
Season Spinner
Binder Calendar
Dry Erase Clock
Library Pockets
Index Cards
Relevant printables for your students
Duct Tape

All these supplies, and more, can be found for a reasonable price on OrientalTrading.com's teacher resources. (it has become my one-stop teaching shop).

This is a project you can complete in one afternoon, but that will last you years. Depending on the tape you decide to use, you will even be able to change it up as needed.

What To Do: 

  1. Using the whiteboard included in the pocket chart, cut out two pieces of light-weight cardboard the same size. You could use foam board as well. It should be light, yet stand up to use. I actually used a box a poster had been shipped in and only had to tape once. 
  2. Duct tape the two pieces of cardboard and the whiteboard piece together so that they will fold accordion style. 
  3. Cover one side of your 3-panel board with chalkboard sticker. You can use the dry-erase sticker, but I liked the look of the black better. 
  4. On the other side, I left one the included whiteboard, chalkboard sticker one one panel, and dry erase on the other panel. On the dry erase panel, I drew writing lines for teaching handwriting. I will go back and use tape instead because dry erase markers erase sharpie. 
  5. Your morning board panel is complete. Now it is time to decorate and customize it for your class. 
  • On the middle panel, I used a wipe-off pocket with the binder calendar pages inside. This gives us a calendar that we can write on, decorate, log special events and more. We can mark off days without actually writing on the calendar. The pocket also protects it from everyday use. when the month is done, I can use the calendar as dividers in his portfolio. Win-win
  • On the right panel, is our clock - a few times a week we do a time activity. It also has our Sign language/ Spanish vocabulary in a pocket. The other pockets are reviews, song lists, and yoga choices. I have created a dry erase panel here too so we can log our days in school. Later on, we will use this to work on place value. I used bulletin board letters for our Joy reminder. We try to start each day talking about JOY (Jesus first, Yourself Last, and Others in between.)
  • On the left side, we have our weather spinner. Our season spinner is clipped under that. I used a flag printable so we have a permanent one to say our pledge to each morning. The thermometer is a printable that I cut out and slipped into a plastic pocket a special Bible marker magnifier came in. Tools for homeschool come in from everywhere. 

Portable Classroom

While I was at it, I created a portable classroom. Why not, I was already creating like mad. It took me back to my student teaching days. This was a very simple part of the project but has made a huge difference. Instead of searching for posters or reference, it is all together. 

I got a second dry erase board with the table top pocket chart that comes in handy, along with the back side of the morning board. I can demonstrate just about aything with these tools. 

I ued a wipe off pocket and added a strip of velcro, so that it would hang. Inside this pocket, I have added our reference pages (scientific method, beginning sounds, and others), along with our magnetic board for certain lessons, especially counting with Snapper. Now, I can use anchor charts without searching through papers or trying to teach and juggle it. 

The pocket chart itself is brilliant. I can use Snapper's letter card, Tbomb's vocabulary (we use McGuffey's Primer), and their bible vers and keep it all visible. It has also come in handy for Tbomb's copy work. I have recently added in a library pocket to this with behavior cards for when the two of them get crazy and they need quiet or still. 

In Use:

We have been using this morning board and portable classroom for a little over two weeks and while I have made minor tweaks, it is working brilliantly. If you have a spall teaching space, or no dedicated classroom, this may be the project for you. I'm looking forward to using it for years to come. 

Another thing I have noticed is seeing it on the table or in that day's school area triggers the kids' heads for school and they are less likely to act up or want to go do something else. Tbomb has been more excited about school and even doing better with his writing and reading (although he was already doing great) now that we have this. This set up is the best thing that I have done for our school 

I'll be sure to share our entire portable classroom soon. 

Easy-Peasy DIY I'm Lost Bracelets #OrientalTrading

Disclaimer: I received products to complete projects with. I have not been compensated in any other way.

My Tbomb has never been one to wander off. He wants to stay right with mom. Snapper (previously known as Kodabug), is a different story. She likes to wander off because something gets her attention. Earlier in the summer, she tried to follow a goose off while we were at a park. To make matters worse, she doesn't talk, so she cannot tell someone that she is lost and get them to understand. I have been trying to find a way to help her in case she ever does manage to get lost, and of course, I included Tbomb as well.

To make these bracelets, you only need two items from oriental trading: Paracord Bracelet Kit (I used the father's day kit), and shoe lace charms. Masking tape that you can write on will be handy as well.

Follow the directions included in the kit to make the bracelet, replacing the included charms with the shoelace charm. These are very simple to make- just like macrame. The significant part comes in labeling the bracelet. Tbomb's says "I'm Lost" in sharpie. Snappers says "I can't talk, call mom" in sharpie. Under that, I put masking tape with the phone number. I did it this way because it will not rub off and I can change the number depending on who the kid is with- me, dad, grandparents, etc. I really like that the charms are neon colors too. I made these for their anklets because they will take bracelets off or fidget with them. You know your child, so you know what iwill work best.

I've told Tbomb that if he can't find mom, dad, or his grandparents, to find someone who works where we are or another adult if he can't find an employee and tell them he is lost, then show his anklet. Snapper was a bit different- I've had to teach her to find a grown up and just point to her bracelet. She's good at grunting very loud when she wants attention, so I think the point would be made.

You can customize these for any special needs or dietary needs. You may not think that your child would benefit from a bracelet like this, but thesy are inexpensive to make and take less than 5 minutes. I definitely think that is worth it!


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