Sunday, October 2, 2011
Welcome to the Connected Mom Sunday School. No matter what the course of your child's education, be it unschooling, homeschooling, or conventional schooling, The Connected Mom Sunday School aims to provide you with fun and easy activities for children of all ages and stages. (Have an idea for a Connected Mom Sunday School activity or theme? Either comment below or send your idea to connectedmom (dot) julian (at) gmail (dot) com.)
I have read my share of studies about how media can be detrimental to children. Sometimes, my kids have more screen time than they should. Much is expected of moms, though, and sometimes it's helpful to have a favorite website or app to occupy your kids when you have a task that simply must be done. I am a firm believer in the idea that content is more important than format. With this in mind, I have picked a few of my favorite free multimedia resources to share. We'd love to know your favorite media resources. Feel free to comment and share!
Zoodles allows you to put just about any Internet-enabled device into Kid Mode™. It works through a free app that you download to your PC, Mac, tablet, or smart phone (iPhone or Android). The app presents your child with a set of online videos and Flash games which have been selected for his age. He can draw pictures with the Art Studio feature or read storybooks with a narration recorded by a loved one (the free version only offers a few books). One thing I really appreciate about Zoodles is that it limits your child to the Kid Mode™ interface, so he cannot accidentally access inappropriate sites or make phone calls. Any mom who has let her toddler play with her smart phone knows how frustrating this can be--for both mother and child. Weekly, you receive an e-mail report that tells how long your child has played and what percentage of time was spent on each subject area. I have not tried the paid version, but some of its features sound promising. Among these are options to block ads, set time limits, control the level of violence, and block specific sites or characters.
Starfall.com provides free, as a public service, a complete reading program that covers everything from beginning letter sounds, to intermediate phonics, to early readers. It is mostly phonics-based, and uses flash animations, videos, and interactive e-books. You can also print out free supplemental resources that accompany each activity. I listed Starfall under the "school-aged child" category, since that is their target audience, but we used it earlier than that with our kids. My 3.5- and 5-year-olds can easily navigate the site on their own now. There is also a paid section that covers math (counting through multiplication/division), colors, and more phonics. The free area is quite extensive, however, and contains no ads or high-pressure sales pitches for the paid portion.
Older Child (10+)
Khan Academy calls itself "a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere." The site provides literally thousands of videos, practice exercises and assessments on all sort of topics. Most of them center around math and science, but you can also find lessons about history, government, economics, and finance. Math topics begin with basic arithmetic and span through calculus. Science topics include biology, chemistry and physics. For the high school set, Khan provides test prep (SAT, etc.) as well. Sign up for a free account, and you will be able to track your child's progress to see where they need extra help--or where they excel! Any teachers out there? If you use Khan Academy with your students, you can see all of their progress in one place.
**These reviews simply reflect some of my favorite resources. I have not been compensated by any of the companies mentioned above.