I am about to gush about a free app that has been a lifesaver for me this year. It is called Seesaw and I have a feeling you are going to love it.
But first, the backstory…
Last summer, when it was time for my homeschool portfolio evaluation, I wanted to cry.
The weather was fantastic and all I wanted to do was to spend every sunny minute outdoors.
The absolute last thing I wanted to do was to organize three homeschool portfolios.
Every year, I tell myself that I should maintain a digital portfolio. That way, everything is organized in real time. Nothing gets lost. There is less waste.
I even tried a digital homeschool portfolio one year, but I abandoned it after a few weeks. The process was not intuitive for me.
Well, my homeschool evaluator recommended an app called Seesaw. She promised me that it was intuitive and easy to use. In fact, she explained the the app is designed for students to showcase their work! It’s kid-friendly!
How to Make a Digital Homeschool Portfolio with the Seesaw App
First, before trying any of this, be sure to check requirements and homeschool law in your state.
I live in NH and we are required to complete a homeschool portfolio or a standardized test. In years past, I have tried both and I find that the portfolio option works best for our family right now.
I have been using the Seesaw app since August of 2017 and I love it.
But before we get to that, let’s back up a moment…
Check out My Little Poppies Course Offerings:
- The Lazy Homeschooler’s Guide to Unit Studies
- How to Rock THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of Your Homeschool Day
- Gameschooling 101: How to Add More Play to Your Homeschool Day
What to include in your homeschool portfolio
Here are some ideas for what to include in your homeschool portfolio:
- Legal and other important documents (letter of intent, test results, immunization records, etc.)
- Curriculum used
- Learning objectives
- Work samples for all academic subjects
- Book logs
- Read aloud book log
- Individual student book logs
- Gameschooling log (yes, games count!)
- Extracurricular activities
- Monthly schedule/activity log
- Field trips
- Films and documentaries watched
- Live music and theater performances
- Awards and certificates
- Community service hours
- Tickets, brochures, and other memorabilia from field trips, vacations, and other adventures
- Photos of large projects
- Video of students reading aloud (this is SO easy with Seesaw!)
- Videos of student presentations(this is SO easy with Seesaw!)
- Fitness logs
- Video clips of academic skills (such as oral reading), sports performance, music performances, etc. (Again, this is SO easy with Seesaw!)
- Photos, photos, and more photos– because so much of homeschooling cannot be captured on paper!
If you would like more information about how to create a homeschool portfolio, here is an article for you:
How to maintain a free digital homeschool portfolio using Seesaw
For many years, I kept traditional portfolios for my children, but I longed to make the process easier and simpler. I knew that a digital portfolio could be the answer, but I struggled with how to accomplish that.
Last year, I tried using Evernote but – while many love it – it just didn’t work for me.
During my year-end portfolio evaluation, I told my evaluator my struggle. She is a fantastic resource, especially when it comes to all things tech, and she suggested trying the free Seesaw app.
I value her opinion and so I tried it. And it was love at first sight.
To me, Seesaw was far more intuitive than other options I had tried. In fact, it was designed for children to use and so it’s super user-friendly.
If you can navigate Facebook, you can use Seesaw.
What is Seesaw?
Seesaw is a free app that helps you to create digital portfolios. It is super easy to use, so easy that kids can use it immediately.
When you sign up for Seesaw, you want to sign up as a teacher. Remember that Seesaw was designed for public school teachers. Think of your home as your school and your kids are your class. (The family option is for parents of public school students whose public school teacher is using Seesaw in the class.)
How to use the Seesaw app
Simply download the free app and set it up for your family (please read these instructions for downloading the app if you run into trouble).
You are downloading the CLASSROOM version, not the “family” version. Remember, this is an app made for classroom teachers. You are the teachers and your children are your class. If you run into any difficulties with Seesaw, contact their support here.
Then, set up your “classroom”. You can see how to do so here:
You can learn more about adding to student journals here:
Here’s how I use it daily:
In our home, I am the main operator of the Seesaw app. I spend time each evening adding photos, videos, and brief summaries to the app for each of my “students” (it’s easy to tag each kiddo).
When it comes to gameschooling, I will take a photo of my kids playing a certain game (or a video!), and then I will tag the photo by subjects covered. Easy-peasy!
If you have questions about setting up Seesaw, please contact Seesaw…
If you run into any difficulties with Seesaw, contact their support here. You don’t want to contact me, you guys. I stink at tech. Plus, I set it up in 2017 and it has been updated many times since that time. Seesaw has excellent customer support!
In fact, Seesaw encourages children to participate in the development of their digital portfolios. My kids love to add videos, artwork, experiments, piano performances, and more.
Moreover, Seesaw is completely private. You do not have to share it with anyone other than your evaluator. If you wish, you can choose to invite people via email (grandparents, for example), but you get to choose.
You know all that stuff you can’t put in a traditional portfolio?
The science experiments, the cardboard creations, the fantastic poetry teatime, the kitchen skills, the soccer performance?
With Seesaw, you can capture all of that day-to-day homeschool magic with the click of a button.
(This is an example of something that cannot be captured in a traditional portfolio!)
Add more joy to your homeschool routine…
Here are a few more reasons why I love Seesaw:
- It is free.
- It is designed for students to use, too.
- Seesaw is a wonderful way to keep your extended family involved in the homeschool process.
- Seesaw allows students to showcase their work, too.
- The app is simple to use. You can upload a day’s work in seconds.
- Customer support is awesome.
- Seesaw shares ideas for using the app all the time. I have more ideas than I have time!
- Students can “show what they know” in the way that best works for them, whether that is audio, video, drawing, a link to the web, or PDF.
- Seesaw is compatible with many popular apps including Google apps.
- It can be used with any device.
- Seesaw makes organization a breeze!
- By involving students, Seesaw leads to deeper student reflection.
- Students can create and maintain their own blogs through Seesaw.
How Instagram can help with your digital homeschool portfolio
This year, I am using Seesaw in conjunction with Instagram stories and I love it.
You can read more about that here:
We share highlights from our homeschool day on Instagram most days. If you’d like to see our daily homeschool highlights, be sure to follow us on Instagram.
How to upload an IG story to Seesaw:
- First, make an IG story (IG stories show up in profile photo).
- Add to the story throughout the day.
- When the homeschool day is over, simply click the three dots in the bottom right corner of your story.
- Select “download story” and this will save your IG story to the camera roll.
- Finally, open the Seesaw app and upload your story from the camera roll.
- This will add the whole story video to your Seesaw app and then you can “tag” the video with various subjects and add a brief description.
Digital portfolios can make homeschool record keeping easy!
I am a convert. I never thought I could love a digital homeschool portfolio, but this method has been fun for all of us. And, more than that, it’s super-simple.
When June rolls around, I’m going to spend every second outside in the sunshine and I’m not going to waste my time organizing papers and hole-punching… because my portfolio will already be complete!
Looking for other ways to maintain a homeschool portfolio for free?
Be sure to check out these resources:
- How to Make a Homeschool Portfolio… Without Losing Your Marbles!
- How to Create an Amazing FREE Homeschool Portfolio
Do you want to see what our homeschool looks like?
Check out these helpful resources:
- First, be sure to follow me on Instagram. I share daily stories chronicling our day!
- Homeschool Curriculum 2017-2018
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 5-, 7-, and 8-year-old)
- Homeschool Curriculum 2016-2017
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 4-, 6-, and 7-year-old)
- Homeschooling Curriculum 2015-2016
- Cait’s homeschool day in the life (with a 3-, 5-, and 6-year-old)