Sunday, June 21, 2009

What do We Do with our School Computers?

A question about what older kids do on your computer was posted at the Five in a Row Forums the other day and well I thought I'd share with my readers how we use the school computers at our house. We have an older computer that runs the older games, but it doesn't run some of the even older games I desperately want to run! Dan says he might be able to work that out, but no success yet. We have some fun DK geography games that we can't play yet.

  • Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
  • Oregon Trail
  • Liberty Kids
  • Arthur (K and 2nd grade)
  • LEGO Fever
  • Adventure Africa
  • Jumpstart Toddler
  • Reader Rabbit Toddler- both of these toddler games are great at teaching mouse skills. All of our kids learned on these.

My kids also do programming using the drag and drop method using: (the last two are upgrades we have not tried yet, but E10 will be moving up to Alice this summer)
  • Scratch- free and a great tool to teach programming skills. My kids have made games. See a screen shot of one of E10's games here.
  • Alice- teaches programming
  • Phrogram- this one is downloadable for a fee

We also use God's World News and other news outlets and sites for kids. My husband and I read the Washington Post and CNN each morning and we will forward things we want the kids to read to our school computer email. the kids have their own email that we don't give out but they use on occasion.

Here are a few:
We have them type in their stories and use Open Office for graphing and other school work as well. Here's an example from a popcorn experiment. Here's another from an experiment the kids made up one today.

I also just started the touch typing program from the BBC called Dance Mat Typing. There is a great debate at our house over the value of learning touch typing. Since I'm in the daily teacher's seat, the kids will learn proper technique. Dan never learned it and I admit that he is fast, but I think the kids will have an easier time learning the keyboard if they just start with home keys. We'll see how it goes. Dan predicts E10 will not learn it. I contend it is one of the best things my mom insisted on when I was young. I hope to get them ample time on this program this summer.

We also use the computer for teleconferencing with their grandparents. My oldest plays chess with his grandfather while "seeing" him at the same time.

I think that's about it. Oh and as for computer time...they have computer days on M, Tu, Th. The other days are playstation days. However, they can choose to do computer instead of playstation on a PS2 day. That is generally free time only. What I assign them doesn't count toward their free screen time.

How do you use your computer in your homeschool?


Lynn said...

Heather, thank you so much for sharing. There's so much that I feel I'm doing wrong in this area. Not enough good stuff and too much disney dot com. KWIM? :)

I am on the computer a lot because of my job, so I feel my direction is not clear when it comes to the children. Thanks for the great ideas!


My Own Terms said...

Great ideas!! You also might want to check out Google Earth. It is absolutely fabulous!!
I love including the computer in our homeschooling.

Heather said...

Thank you!!! We love Google Earth. I'll amend the post to add because I found some really cool activities that use it.