Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Beyond Calendar and Notes -- Apps for Homeschooling

In my last post I talked about my iPhone helping me plan and record-keep in my homeschool and Mystie asked me about that. I have only had my phone for about a month and am still trying to figure out how I work with it best. Rather than write an endlessly long post that is daunting even to think about I thought I'd mention some apps I like to use to make my life and homeschooling run more smoothly.

First of all, I think what helps me most is that everything is in one place, and virtual rather than paper.  I don't think that is useful for everyone, but for me, it is.  I spend way too much time scrambling for this or that paper or material, so having records in one place is extremely valuable.   I used to use the computer a lot but IPhones are more portable and easier to turn on, and I don't get lost in internet space quite as easily when I use the IPhone. 

Now on to a few specific apps I have been using:

One I really like is called IReadItNow.

It's meant to be a way to record your reading, like an offline version of Goodreads, but I am using it to keep track of books I am using for Morning Time, and also books I assign to the kids to read.

What I like about it.

  • It's free
  • You can search for books by title or author on Google Books, and if it is to be found (it usually is) it auto-enters the book information.
  • It lets you record progress on the book, and also write notes as you progress. I use this to keep track of discussions we have, of supplementary resources to bring in, how the readings are going, things like that.
  • You can share the entries by emailing (I haven't done this yet on this app, but with other apps I sometimes email things to myself)
  • You can tag the books. So I have tags like Morning Time, Fall 2011, etc. Then I can filter a search through these tags.
  • Since one of my big problems with my literature based homeschooling and having several kids of diverse ages is keeping track of books -- what we're reading, what I want to get to, what form the book is in -- this has been quite a help so far.

There are a couple of other booklog type apps available, but this one seemed best suited for what I was looking for.  I wish it had editable categories like Goodreads, but you can't have everything, and the price is right. 

I did also start a new Goodreads account, separate from mine, where I have been tracking what the boys read in their free time, since they read a lot.

There is a free Goodreads app, in case you didn't know. It even has a barcode scanner so if you ate reading s more modern book with a barcode you can enter the book without even typing.   (I just realized though  that ITouches don't have cameras so the barcode scanner might not work for them).

One more app that I have been really using a lot is Evernote.

Funny, I had heard about Evernote from Jen and had it on my computer but I never really used it.  But when I got my IPhone, I started doing most of my blog reading on my IPhone using Mobile RSS

Mobile RSS It is free and it interfaces with my Google Reader.    It works with Evernote.  So when I find a blog post or link I want to remember, I can easily clip it to the suitable Notebook in Evernote. 

Evernote also lets you write notes to yourself, and take photos, if you have a camera on your device.   I have been putting things in there under categories like:  Homeschool, Journal, Planning, Book Notes, Housekeeping, Faith, and so on.   Then I go back and look on there for ideas and inspiration and things I want to remember.   It helps me keep track of the ideas that are always floating around at the back of my mind, and I'm hoping it will be especially helpful in the dark winter when I always seem to have trouble figuring out what to do next. 

I have more apps I want to mention but this post is getting long.  

There is a thread on 4RealLearning about apps that might be helpful.    I haven't read it yet. 

Anyone else found anything they really like for the IPhone, IPad, or ITouch?  I would like to hear!


  1. Thanks, Willa! The new Touch iPods have cameras, but I got an older one off craigslist, so it doesn't. Instead of Evernote, I'm using SimpleNote -- Same people, I think, but text only and very -- simple. :) I have a desktop offline version on my Mac, too, though. I like that my notes are backed up and in both places.

    I will look into the iReadItNow. That sounds very useful, especially in a year or two as I add more readers and more readings.

    Instead of RSS on my Touch, I use Instapaper. I can bookmark pages on my main computer and the app will download them for viewing offline. That's really handy with my wifi-only Touch. I also have TargetWeight for charting, and the free app for Remember The Milk, the task manager I use. Our library also uses Overdrive, an app that lets you check out digital audio books from your computer or device.

    Keeping paper in the right place and not stained or spilled on has always been an issue for me, so I am enjoying the transition into digital forms. It has its own set of perils, though.

  2. Hi Willa, I bought an iPad, about a month ago, and I'm surprised at how attached I've become to it!

    I use Universalis for daily readings and morning prayers and iBooks for all my reading. I like Pixiromatic and PS Express for photo editing, and Blogpress for blog posts.

    The children have downloaded a lot of games and educational apps - some favorites were Talking Ben, Virtuoso and BrainPop.

    I'm really new to this sort of technology so I haven't worked out all it can do, yet - thank you for the link to the thread on apps. There's a lot of good suggestions there:)


I would love to hear your thoughts on this!