The iPad is beautiful, and while it won’t replace your home computer anytime soon, it is a very cool tool for homeschool learning. So far, we have used it as a white board, video player, educational game console, spelling/vocabulary learning tool, interactive geography explorer, night sky discovery, researching chemistry facts, playing a virtual musical instrument, and as an e-book reader.
The iPad sips sparingly on the battery even with heavy usage. We literally used it all day without having to charge it once. We started our homeschool day by watching some PBS videos, used the National Geographic World Atlas to view countries mentioned in the videos, then transitioned into math using Adobe Ideas app. as a whiteboard. Next, we tackled a few puzzles in the free Tangram XL app. and then played a few rounds of Traffic Jam. The BrainPop featured video app. was cool, but we wished for an app. that worked for the entire site (it seems that the BrainPop website is currently using Flash to serve videos, so we couldn’t view the site via iPad’s Safari due to lack of Flash support — too bad!) The Wolfram|Alpha app. came in handy for checking facts about Carbon and data about cities mentioned in the PBS videos. Language Arts came to life with Apple’s Word Processing app., Pages. We used Pages for spelling/vocabulary lessons because Pages has a nice spell checking and definition tool built-in. However, it’s clean interface promises to be useful for writing poetry, reports, and other creative writing projects. We then synced our iPad with the computer via iTunes to download a copy of our Pages documents. Star Walk was another visually stunning app. we spent some time exploring. It’s location-aware feature provides your current night sky, automatically orienting to your spatial movements, and we had fun reading about some visible night sky objects. Although not a substitute for a real piano or even a keyboard, Virtuoso Piano is a fun, free app. that simulates a piano keyboard. The app. displays the notes on each virtual key and musicians can use this app. to practice or compose while on vacation or traveling. When it came time to read, we checked out Apples’ iBooks e-book reader, which is visually appealing and easy to use. However, the Kindle app. worked flawlessly and easily downloaded our Kindle books to the iPad. After dinner, we watched a few YouTube movies for fun and still had 50% battery remaining!
We love our iPad and find its multi touch screen, virtual keyboard, small footprint, wireless connectivity, and rich applications compelling reasons for using it as a keystone in the home learning environment. It is extremely intuitive, visually stunning, portable, powerful and fun!