Homeschooling

My Top Online Resources for Homeschooling for 2021

It’s that time of the year again! Most homeschooling families who follow the same academic calendar with regular school prepare their lesson plans at this time of the year. It’s our third year in homeschooling and for this time around, I am making a few changes with our routines because of the challenges brought on by this pandemic. Unlike the previous years when we were able to travel a lot and visit places kids only learned about in books such as Batanes, Bicol, and National Museum and Intramuros, this year our travels will still be limited. I won’t be conducting Geology Tours also, sadly.

It definitely is more fun to homeschool outside the confines of our home, I believe most homeschooling families would agree! The vaccination program of the Philippine government has rolled out but as of now no vaccines are available for the kids yet. However, based on current guidelines kids are now allowed to go out to playground and open spaces. It’s good news for all of us who have been itching to leave the city for nature trips!

I consider 2021 as transition time that will span for at least two years. People are slowly getting vaccinated and being allowed to go outside but with social distancing and wearing of masks still imposed. So for this year, our homeschooling will still be done mostly indoors but we would probably visit nearby places with plenty of trees and open spaces as well as libraries and museums.

With the aforementioned thoughts in mind, I have added a few online resources in my previous list, that I hope would also help other homeschooling families supplement their journey:

Google Classroom

This year, I’m going to organize our lessons via Google Classroom. Since my eldest is enrolled in a regular high school now, I will only be teaching my youngest son. I have created a Google account for him so that he will be able to access his lessons – organized using this very nifty app.

How I use Google Classroom:

First, I made a classroom for Ian that’s connected to Google Calendar. I have, as of the moment, started creating/populating this classroom with lessons under “Topics”. Under each lesson, I make a description, instruction, as well as links to video, game/s, experiment/s, and live worksheets, whichever applies. The most enjoyable part of planning the lessons is testing out the games before linking it to a lesson. Beta testing, if you will. As for YouTube videos, I watch the first 2-3 minutes first, before I link to a lesson, to check for quality.

By creating my lesson plan on Google Classroom, I am able to map out my student’s journey that basically goes from: 1.) learning the concept; to 2.) immersing in the concept (games, performance tasks, tours) to 3.) knowledge-tests. I wasn’t so organized like this on our first two years in homeschooling. I can say that being stuck at home for more than a year has given me enough time to explore ways to make homeschooling easier and more organized for me.

Just an example, below is a series of screenshots of Ian’s classroom that shows some of the lessons he will be studying for English:

Using Google Classroom makes organizing his lessons easy for busy moms like me. In addition, Ian and I will be able to access his lessons and keep track of his progress anywhere we go so long as there’s internet connection. If you’re a parent with a full time job, you can populate Google Classroom during breaks and weekends so that your kids will have lessons to work on during the week. And yes, even our field trips will be included in Google Classroom to make it easier for me to also choose the highlights for when I’m building Ian’s digital portfolio.

Interactive Games for Learning

Last year at the early onset of the pandemic, my sons used handmade toys and indoor experiments for STEAM because of the strict community quarantines imposed. We made Mars rover and helicopters using cardboards, played indoor and interactive online games that teach lessons on data gathering, grammar, geography, etc. It was during this time that we learned to be resourceful and discover online gaming as part of lessons.

For this year, I am recommending these websites for online games that has made learning so much fun for my kids (despite not being able to go outside for a year):

PBS Kids

This game site features interactive games that teaches lessons in Math, Science, Healthy Habits, Vocabulary, Nature, Space, Arts, Music, and 21 other topics. Do visit the site and explore. In Ian’s Google Classroom, I catalogued the games under main topic, well, “Games”. I then identified which game will be included in each lesson under each subject. For example, if Ian’s science lesson will be about nature, I can choose to link one of the games from PBS Kids under Nature Games, within his lesson for the week. The game will become part of his performance tasks.

These are just some of the games from PBS that I have added in Ian’s Google Classroom so that I know which link to click for certain topics. I have also added some of the games’ links inside his lesson plans.

NatGeoKids

Need I say more? National Geographic is a global brand that almost everybody around the world knows about hence, I’m including it in this list. The website features games, videos, quizzes, experiments, and animals, just to name a few. Our favorite sections include planets, videos of animals in their natural habitat, science experiments, as well as weird facts.

Funbrain

We have used this gaming site last year not just for homeschooling but during their gadget time (2-5 PM). Ian’s favorite games include Tiny Bop Homes, Poptropica, MathCar Racing but there are other games on the website that teaches kids how to read, do mathematical calculations, a little bit of programming, adventures, and more.

Arcademics

I haven’t personally tried this one but I am including this in my list because my kids recommended it. The website boasts of games that challenges kids to analyze and solve problems presented through games and they also give teachers’ feedback supposedly. What I like about the website is its simplicity to navigate around. The games are also categorized according to grade level. I’m gonna explore this site soon.

Since gaming can be addictive for the kids (and sometimes for the parents, haha), I limit gaming during class hours, and the kids are only allowed maximum 3 hours per day of gadget use. I also take away the gadgets from them if they have not done their piano practice and simple household chores. I do this to ensure they stick to the schedule as well as minimize distraction from academics. I also plan to bring them outdoors more often now since the government has reduced restrictions for their age group.

This is a video of Ian playing a game inside NatGeoKids.

LiveWorksheets

Now this one is a gift from heavens! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. My biggest mistake in our first year of homeschooling was spending resources printing tons of worksheets that my youngest son hated answering. So when I discovered this website, I knew I’d be saving stacks of papers and printer ink. The website is neat because you can just search for ready-made worksheets per topic and you have options to let your child answer right on the page with few clicks of the mouse. Then, you can just screenshot his/her answer or save a copy in your drive. You can also create a worksheet right on the website too! With live worksheets from this website, it becomes easy to build your child’s digital portfolio – no need to take photos of printed worksheets and transfer to your drive. Win!

For our Google Classroom, I just copy the link to worksheet I like from the website and put it under a lesson. This way I can just click the link when it’s time to take up the lesson and it will bring Ian straight to the live worksheet. Again, no printing needed!

Here’s a screenshot of LiveWorksheets home page.
And this is the screenshot of one of Ian’s lessons in Filipino – English – Social Studies about map directions where I added one of the worksheets from LiveWorksheets as link.

So that’s it, that’s all the online resources I can share for now. I will surely update this blog as I discover new resources for the parents and students to try. If you know of an online resource or two that you think I would like, please share them in the Comments section. I thank you in advance.

If you read this far, thank you so much. You might also be interested in these articles:

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