There are a lot of reasons to love Pinterest and a few reasons not to, but if you can avoid the traps (I will tell you how in Part Three of this series), it can be a great homeschooling tool.
In this first part of the series, I will explain how I use Pinterest to plan and implement specific themes in our homeschool.
For those not familiar with Pinterest, it is a virtual pinboard that allows users to easily access ideas that they have come across on the web and want to remember. It also allows users to create pinboards that are as specific or general as they want. It also allows them to follow other users or pinboards that are of interest to them. Sign up is free.
To help me plan topics or themes for homeschooling, I use Pinterest. Here’s how:
1. I create a new pinboard for the theme that I have in mind. Sometimes I have already chosen a theme that I know we will do in the future, such as “Penguins” because one of our daughters loves penguins. Other times, I create a board when I periodically inventory my more general “Homeschool” board. When looking through the general board, if I see that I have pinned several activities specific to one subject, for example “Magnets”, then I will create a new board entitled “Magnets” and move all the relevant pins over.
In order to move pins from one board to another, you simply click on the board, in this case, the more general “Homeschool” board, choose the pin you want to move by clicking “edit” on the pin, and then scrolling down to the board you want to move it to and clicking “save”.
This is what my current “Penguins” pinboard looks like now:
It has everything from penguin related crafts to books to food ideas to printables. We probably won’t be studying penguins until sometime next winter, which gives me more time to find great ideas and keep them all in one convenient place!
2. Once I have a pinboard set up, I search Pinterest for awesome ideas to add. I do this by entering the topic in the search box. A tip for doing this is to add words such as “crafts”, “activities”, or “printables” after the main search word. As you can see from the example below (you may have to click on it to make it larger), I searched “rainbow crafts” to find ideas to add to my board for our Rainbow theme week and party that I am planning as an end-of-the-year celebration.
3. I try to set aside time every week to read other homeschool blogs, especially their weekly wrap up posts. There are 2 blog hops that I particularly like for this. Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers hosts Weekly Wrap-Up and iHomeschool Network now hosts The Homeschool Mother’s Journal. When I see an idea that makes me think, “I have to try that!” or “the kids would love that!”, I pin it onto the appropriate pinboard over at Pinterest.
The simple way to do this is to install the “Pin It” button to your toolbar. There are step-by-step instruction on how to do this on Pinterest under the “About” tab. Once it’s installed, you can be on a blog or website, see an idea you love and want to remember and just click the “Pin It” button on your toolbar and it will open a small pop-up screen asking what board you want to pin it to…easy as that!
4. I google search specific things related to upcoming units we will be studying in order to find ideas and add them to pinboards in much the same way as described above. The reason for using a google search in addition to searching on Pinterest or other blogs is that you can make the search parameters extremely specific. For example, “free penguin math printable”.
5. The week before I plan on introducing the new theme/unit, I go to the Pinterest board that I have created and weed through to choose which ideas I am going to use and which I won’t. Next, I make a plan, print off any printables, and make a supply list for any craft activities or science experiments that I may have to make purchases for. Then I make up a lesson plan for that week including any ideas that I will be using and I am ready to have a great week!
Here is an example of the board I made in anticipation of our frog unit to go along with our “F” week:
Another great thing about organizing your homeschool units this way is that it is so easy to go back and find where you found the worksheets or activities!
Please be sure to also read Using Pinterest in Homeschooling Part 2 (Home) and Using Pinterest in Homeschooling Part 3 (Avoiding the Pitfalls)