Our “new” desktop computer centre

Our desktop computer is a bit of a dinosaur … it’s quite old and we very nearly replaced it last year when the computer powered off every few minutes without warning.

We had to eventually reformat the hard drives – Yikes!  I decided to do this and spend a few hundred rand to upgrade it, as opposed to spending thousands for a new computer.  I essentially have a ‘new‘ old computer.  We set up the poor thing again.

Image result for dropboxI reloaded my original programs and the documents I managed to back up.

I found a fantastic file-sharing program called Dropbox.  In a jiffy I had all my laptop documents backed up online and transferred to my desktop.  This is great technology! Once you’ve installed Dropbox on both computers (and on iPhone, if you have one), anytime you work on a document and save it, it is automatically updated online and on the other computer.  It constantly synchronizes the files, so documents on both my laptop and desktop are  updated.  Of course, there is the added benefit that your friends also install Dropbox and you can share files instantly and easily. Other cloud services have a free trial period and then require you to purchase access. Dropbox gives you 2GB of storage for free, forever.

I had to upgrade to MS Word 2010 from my 2003 version.  I love all the new features!  I added an Afrikaans spell check for our Word documents. (our South African 2nd language)

I replaced the old, defunct keyboard and bought a wireless mouse!  I have a left-hander who constantly re-arranges the old mouse and its cable and then her poor sisters work across their bodies with their right hands.  Not good.  This new gizmo is fantastic!

Then I bought a computer desk.  It came as a flat-pack and I took an evening assembling it.  All by myself!  Good hey?  Now my desk is free.  The kids can sit together and work without disturbing me, but it is right next to me, so I can help and supervise them.

After setting up the computer and all the wires and cables, I tidied all the ‘spaghetti’ and cable-tied the speakers to the desk.  There is a headphone for quiet music appreciation or online games when needed.

I moved the printer to the top shelf.

A new fold-up chair completes our upgrade.

Costs:  All new hardware, software and furniture – about R1600 (About $228)

All done!

Well for now …

(I oohed and aahed over the small swivel office chairs … but my budget was tight!  Maybe I’ll afford one in a few months time …?  And a new screen – one of those lovely flat screens …?  And maybe some more memory …? A NEW computer …?!)

No!!  This works!  It’s fully functional.

I realise that technology is constantly upgraded and we will eventually have to trade this old dinosaur in.

How do you organize your computer centre?

What online educational games do you recommend?


My Favourite Homeschool Gadgets!

I could not imagine homeschooling without these amazing gizmos ~

  • My laptop ~ I do all my research, planning, creating, corresponding and blogging here!  I love downloading information, photos and ideas.  I enjoy creating newsletters, designing worksheets, creating collages and making my own cards.  I get a thrill finding information I need.  I love to find free homeschool resources and online activities for the children.

My laptop

  • Printer/ scanner ~ I try to save paper, but I just love to print out our copywork and handwriting pages with the correct lines and fonts, and all the minibooks for our next lapbook,  I spend the evening cutting and folding the minibooks.  I love having everything ready for class time and my children have everything they need at hand.  I am so grateful for the ink refill company who refills my cartridges at half the cost of new ink cartridges.

Printer & scanner

  • Guillotine ~ I’ve had this since I was a public school teacher and I think we use it at least 3x a week!

Heavy-duty guillotine

  • Laminater ~ This is my absolute luxury!  It makes everything last longer and is excellent for things that the children handle daily.

I laminate charts, cards and manipulatives

  • Camera ~ I take photos as often as I can.  It keeps our memories alive!

Photos on our Footprints Map captured an 18 month journey around South Africa using our Footprints On Our Land Curriculum

  • Stationary ~ I love some scrapbook hardware to make lapbooks and journals really spiffy! We have collected a few odds and ends over the years, and these are our favourites – shaped punches, “corner round edge” (sorry, I’m NOT a scrapbooker and don’t know the proper names!), eyelet punch, scissors with different edge blades.

Eyelet punch

I know that this list looks excessively expensive, but I have saved a whole year for some of these gadgets, and received the others as birthday gifts over the years. (Don’t all homeschool moms ask for printer/scanners for their birthdays?)

Also, I need to say that we don’t NEED these gadgets … I just love using them.  I can homeschool in simplicity, without electricity, with the least cost … we just need some living books

So, what’s on my homeschool gadget wish list?

  • Labeller ~ I love to label things … especially books where spines have no titles. I would love the professional finish of a labeller … oh, and I’d also label all the things in my pantry …
  • Heavy-duty stapler ~ I would be able to compile books and pamphlets …
  • Spiral binder ~ to make gorgeous notebooks of my children’s work at the end of each theme/ term/ school year …

What do you all love to use for homeschool?