Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Online programs and software we use

As you know from last week's post, we use online programs and software for all sorts of reasons, but how about a look inside this homeschooling room in South Africa - to find out what we use in the WILD!  (Excuse my rather tongue-in-cheek comment but for some reason - a lot of people still believe we have giraffes and lions roaming in our backyard.)  Online programs are part of our daily homeschool routine and it's lots of fun with lots of variety.

I always have a few of these running.  I love trying out new products and with such a range of young children aged 4 to 11, I have the perfect group of sample testers. They enjoy the variety and they are brutally honest.  I definitely do not write a positive review for anything that I don't think is great. If it's mediocre or less I don't.

The children use this for our Mandarin character writing.  There are currently more than 3000 characters to be learnt and the boys are on about 100 or so characters.  This is done online and there are more than 200 languages and courses available here.  I make this part of their learning routine on a daily basis, except when things don't go according to plan:)

 This is a software program which we bought and imported.  We use this as the basis for our Mandarin learning.  I have heard that there are very similiar programs out there which cost a lot less with the same type of format.
Learn Chinese Online
Though the children use Memrise for Chinese character recognition, there is no opportunity to practice writing the characters themselves and so I looked all over the place to find a site -which for the moment, is the one they use.  It shows them what order to write their strokes which is systematic and can include more than 16 different strokes for a really complex character.

They use this for social sciences and which helps them to know continents, countries and cities - it's a free map quiz game that can be download onto a computer. It's a race against time.  You should try it with your children.  Nothing is more motivating than competing against mom and dad.  My boys are also naturally competitive, especially the older two, and they compete for 1st and 2nd place all the time.  Chad struggles with the names of some of the places as they are difficult to pronounce and some are fairly foreign sounding.  I would recommend this for Grade 3 or older (including high school).

A recent discovery and very appealing in its presentation.  It's all about learning about using money, saving and working.  Of course there are adventures and rewards.  Even time travel which by the way, needs to be paid for by work.  Which is great because, as they get to know that nothing is for free.  All my children enjoy this, even I do - it's not very complicated.  Definitely for age 6 to 8.  Though Declan (11) enjoyed this, I don't think any sustained activity for him would hold much interest.  More for screen time days than learning days but one I know they enjoy.

There is a wizard, - but he is a rather harmless fellow and I just instructed the children not to pay too much attention to him.

Reading Eggs
I have written about this product a number of times and all I can say is - we love it!

This is a great place to get those typing skills that every child needs.  Yes even boys.  If there's a computer in the house then at least teach them how to type quickly.  These days, touch typing is a life skill.  Then they truly will have all the information they need at their fingertips:)

What my children love about this site is that they have the chance to compete against children from all over the world.  Whoever is online at the same time is the next competitor.  And if your children are new to Chess, there is even a brief video explaining how to play or if they already play but want to improve there are videos about that too.  And of course safety measures have been put into place, so that you as mom can ensure that your children don't meet any dodgy people online.  All games are matched according to age and ability too which means that a new learner is not thrashed online the first time they try.

There have been a number of programs and software learning systems which we have used in the past that were excellent resources too but I wanted to write about the ones we are using at the moment.  We are constantly changing the software we use and are always on the lookout for something that will work for our family. 

I would love to hear what software programs you are currently using in your homeschool?  Do you use a computer based program or an Internet based program?

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