How Your Apple Devices Can Make Your Homeschooling More Effective
If you’re slightly addicted to Apple devices like I am, you likely have everything you need already to get rid of the bulky whiteboard and move to digital homeschool instruction.
We’re still new-ish on our homeschool journey at halfway through our second year. In another life, I was a middle and upper elementary school teacher so direct instruction (aka “teaching”!) is not new to me. But I knew it needed to look and feel different in a homeschool classroom.
For one, my son wasn’t going to be fooled. He knows this isn’t school- he’s been there, done that- so I couldn’t make my instruction too “school-like”. It wouldn’t ring true.
Secondly, while I’ve loved homeschooling, I don’t want it to take over my house. In other words, I don’t want a giant whiteboard hanging in my dining room, and I don’t have a room dedicated to homeschooling other than that common area.
Finally, we really like to be comfy. We have the blessing of large windows with pretty outside views and a gas fireplace that makes the living room a desirable spot for schooling. But again, I don’t want to hang a chalkboard or whiteboard up to show that off!
Recently, I discovered that I have an amazing tool right at my fingertips that I can use to make our schooling effective and comfortable: my iPad! I have an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil that I use for my worship team ministry, and we love our AppleTV for all the many apps it contains.
Meet our new chalkboard.
Let me tell you, this has been a GAME-CHANGER!! Even subjects that used to draw resistance from my kids have become more fun. Using two built-in apps, I can project anything I need onto our TV while my kids sit on the couch (or floor or chair or whatever makes them comfy!) and follow along.
Not only does this make our homeschool instruction time more comfortable and enjoyable, but it reduces the amount of paper waste and clutter we have. Now THAT is a mom win!
Using the Apple Notes App to Model Homeschool Instruction
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Ok, the Notes app is amazing for homeschooling! It allows you to either type or write using an Apple Pencil.
First, I mirror my screen to the AppleTV.
- For newer devices, swipe down from the top right corner. On an older device, swipe up from the bottom center of your screen.
- Click on “Screen Mirroring”
- Select your device.
- Sit back in comfort and get ready to teach!
Then I begin my instruction. I use my iPad to write or type out the notes I want my children to copy. I prefer to write with my Apple Pencil rather than type, especially because we often use this for our math class. I can write down whatever problem I’d like to model for my kids or have them work out. They can copy it down and get to work!
This is where clipboards or lap desks become great tools. If you aren’t using at least one, I’d definitely consider purchasing one for the quite minimal expense! Here are two that I like.
Michaels has some great lap desks for cheap, too, if you have one near you!
Using Your Apple Device’s Camera to Model Homeschool Instruction
This hack is even better than using the Notes app! The camera on your device (iPad or iPhone) is an AMAZING homeschooling tool. I use it to take pictures of my children’s books/worksheets/etc. Then I project the image onto our tv.
While in the image, follow these steps to unlock a fantastic way of modeling your homeschool instruction:
- Click on Edit.
- Click on the three dots.
- Click Markup
- Select a color that will pop on your tv screen. I find that all the colors work well, but it seems to depend on the time of day. When the room is brighter, the green and yellow pens look very vibrant on my tv. Later in the day, the blue or red is great.
Now, using your fingers to pinch and expand the picture, zoom in on the section you need. We use this a ton with both math and grammar (diagramming sentences).
Using this tool, I can model for my kids how to solve a problem or analyze a sentence while s/he follows along in her/his book.
Other Homeschooling Uses for your AppleTV
The AppleTV is great for homeschooling. As mentioned, mirroring my device screen is a huge win. There are also a ton of great video streaming apps available for the AppleTV.
You can use the AppleTV to project various video instruction and music videos. We like to use ours to project worship music that my children can sing and sometimes dance along to (why hello there, PE!!). YouTube is great for this. We recently discovered Orange Kids Worship (check out this playlist), and my younger kids have been really enjoying it!
Another reason why I prefer the AppleTV to some other streaming devices is because I can get the RightNow Media app on it. RightNow Media has been awesome for homeschooling as well as my own personal spiritual growth. If you’re not familiar with it, RightNow Media is a Christian streaming platform that many churches offer. If your church doesn’t offer it, it’s likely that a larger church in your area does and will give you an account for free. Also, because of the pandemic going on right now, RightNow Media has made some of their content available for free. So if you can’t get a full subscription for free, this might be a good option for you!
RightNow Media has a lot of kids programming that is great for Bible class. They have worship videos for your littles as well as Bible cartoons that even your bigs will enjoy. There are also a ton of different Bible studies by many great teachers covering a variety of topics. For instance, because Black History Month is right around the corner, my son and I will go through Matt Chandler’s “Race and the Gospel” teaching series. There are also one-minute apologetics videos that could be great conversation-starters or writing prompt generators. And really, I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s available with this quick blurb about it. The best thing for you to do is get an account and start exploring!
Other Homeschooling Uses for Your iPad
Of course, there are a million different apps that can be used on your iPad. Right now I’m only going to focus on one use that I discovered this year and really like.
CrossWired Science is a new science program that is AWESOME.
First of all, it is completely and unapologetically Christ-centered. Each day’s lesson has a devotional incorporated with the theme or topic. The author also emails out great devotionals regularly that connect science to our awesome Creator.
Second, it is designed to be used across multiple ages. In other words, one video, all your kids learn something. Though the videos are mostly the same, there is leveled “book” work for different ages. I say “book” work, but really they’re a printable ebook. This is another place where my apple devices come into play. I uploaded the ebook into iBook (free with an iPad or iPhone), and my son uses the Apple Pencil to complete the exercises. Another win with less paper waste and clutter.
Third, it incorporates really well-made videos, many from the curriculum creator himself. These videos teach really well, are high-quality, and elevate God to his rightful place. Well-made video instruction is a huge mom win because with kids of multiple different ages, it’s not practical to provide all instruction myself.
If his program sounds like a good fit for you, definitely check it out!
Other Homeschooling Uses for Your Apple Pencil: Music and Art
There are two other things that I really like to use the Apple Pencil for- music and art.
For music, I prefer the Forescore app. I can easily add music charts and digital sheet music to Forescore. Within the app, the music can be rearranged to eliminate the need to go back and forth at repeat signs, and you can use the Apple Pencil to mark up the music with reminders. This is great because it eliminates a lot of paper waste and clutter. I love that this is a greener option for my family, and I REALLY love that it can eliminate some of the papers that would otherwise pile up around the piano.
The Apple Pencil is also really cool for art class. Though it takes some getting used to, it’s really fun to doodle with. Again, you can just use the free Notes app that comes with your device. You can select any color of the rainbow and rotate between drawing with a pen (of varied widths), pencil, or highlighter. This is great because you can draw with the marker then color in your object with the highlighter. Repeated strokes of the highlighter make the line less opaque, so you can have fun with variation. The best part is the undo feature. You can just hit the back arrow and immediately eliminate a stray mark or error. The lasso tool is also really great. You can use it to select only part of your drawing and move it to another area. I’ve round this to be helpful with drawing faces. Eyes too close together? Too far apart? BAM! Easy fix. Very cool.
We could go into a lot more depth about using these devices for art and music, but that’s a bit outside the scope of this post. Hopefully this has given you some ideas and gotten your wheels turning, though!
Your Apple Devices Can Make Your Homeschooling More Effective!
As you can see, there are a lot more uses for your iPad, iPhone, Apple Pencil, and AppleTV than you may have realized. These devices can be amazing tools for homeschooling that help minimize paper waste and clutter and maximize comfort.