Do you use textbooks as “spines” for particular subjects? You may want to check out the textbook correlations feature at Hippocampus. It allows you to match lessons in a textbook you’re using to corresponding Web resources, such as videos or animations.
This can be useful for homeschoolers who may be using the local school system’s curriculum for some subjects. Here in NC, for example, one credit of high school social studies is granted for Civics and Economics. The textbook that is used is Civics Today; Citizenship, Economics and You, by Glencoe. This is one of the books listed at Hippocampus. When you click into it, you’re provided with a list of topics covered on specific pages and a link to a corresponding video. Textbook correlations are listed for American history and government, maths, and sciences.
Another site that provides a multimedia element to math and science textbooks is ExploreLearning. This site has a large number of online activities called “gizmos,” virtual labs that require students to manipulate conditions, run simulations, compare data, and answer questions. These activities are also correlated with particular textbooks. Here in NC, for example, one of the high school sciences is earth/environmental science, and the textbook used is Glencoe/McGraw-Hill’s Earth Science Geology, the Environment, and the Universe. Some gizmos we’ve used that correspond to this textbook covered such topics as plate tectonics, topographic maps, covalent and ionic bonds, and the water cycle. It’s good stuff, but the problem is, you can only access the gizmos for five-minute intervals, unless you sign up for a free 30-day trial, or have a “class code.” As to the latter, I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Let’s just say, there’s more than one way to obtain a class code than to be enrolled in school.
If you are using textbooks, something else you can try is to find an online version, although, alas, they are more than likely “locked” unless you have the proper access code. (Again, not impossible to obtain). What’s nice about the e-versions, is that they have links to associated web content built into the text, so you can watch the animations or whatever as you’re reading. Great if you’re using an iPad or other tablet. In addition, today’s textbooks, whether online or traditional, have companion websites that have links to corresponding content, such as projects, and study aids, like flashcards. One feature that’s kind of cool with these sites is that they have chapter tests and quizzes that your student can take online, and the site will deliver the graded tests to your e-mail.
Yet another textbook option is to access the “open textbooks” that are increasingly becoming available online, and not just for college students. CK-12 offers “flexbooks” for middle and high school maths and sciences. The “flex” part comes from the ability to create your own customized textbook by downloading whatever content you want to include – and it’s free.
There’s also K-12 Handhelds Ebooks, a site that offers free, open-licensed books you can read online, or download to your Kindle or ePUB format. They have fiction and non-fiction early reading books, and elementary and middle school books for language arts, math, social studies and science.