Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Favorite Audio Learning Resources for Homeschooling

It's no secret we use a lot of audio resources for learning around here.  I can't even begin to convey how helpful this has been on our homeschooling journey.  Our entire family has learned an impressive amount of information since making the intentional decision to employ educational audio materials during lessons, during afternoon rest time, and in the car.  

Even though all children have individual learning styles, in my experience, they can all learn from repeated exposure to well-presented audio information.  Can your kids sing radio commercials word for word like my kids can?  Can they repeat passages from their favorite picture books?  Can they sing the lyrics to popular songs on the radio or to the hymns you sing in church each week?   See, it works!  

We've been able to make it work for us beyond the commercials and picture books and hymns.  

For us, audio lessons are sometimes about memorization, but not always.  Sometimes we listen to stuff over and over until we know it like the back of our hands, and sometimes our audio lessons are just about being exposed to ideas and taking away what we can from the lesson.  Some of the things on this list will have already been mentioned in other posts (sorry), but I wanted to get all of our favorite audio stuff for school together in one place.  

If you have any questions about these resources or how we use them, I'm be happy to answer them for you :)  (oh, and lean in and I'll tell you a little secret....you don't have to be a homeschooler to use these!!) 

for History and Geography...

by Susan Wise Bauer
read by Jim Weiss

OK.  I'm sorry.  I know.  You're totally sick of every homeschooler on the planet talking about how great Story of the World is.  But... it is.  And as much as love books and reading, listening to this series is the best fit for our family.  During the school year the boys are assigned various chapters to read each week, but in addition to that, this series is a favorite of everyone (except Clare... she prefers music...) to listen to in the car.  We've learned an awful from Ms. Bauer and Mr. Weiss listening to these, and I am very grateful!

This Country of Ours, Complete Set: Early Explorers to World War 1
by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall

This is anything but a text book!  The history of the United States is told as captivating tales.  We have enjoyed listening to it, and in fact, when my son saw this picture here, he said, "oh yeah!  We should start that up again."  I have read some reviews of the book that mention some anti-Catholic bias in the text, but we have yet to come across any.
(fyi - the link above is to the Audible version of this book.  It's only $9.95!)

A Child's History of the World

We have just bought the Audible version of this book because we've enjoyed reading it so much.  It such a different and quirky presentation of history, the kids are riveted when I read it and always ask for "just a few more pages."   Hillyer "teaches" history conversationally, and my kids seems to retain an awful lot of it, so that makes me happy :)  Keep in mind the book is from the 20's (so not always politically correct according to today's standards) and it has a Christian bent to it (he refers to the "one God as we believe in").  It is not a Creationist history though, either, so that may be something that some are keen to know.  Like with any book, you may run across topics that prompt conversations with your kids, but I don't think those topics are a reason to skip this book altogether.


I was astounded when my boys started singing all the countries of Southwest Asia last year.   They began working in these maps at the study center but I happened to  have the books and CD's so we've done some work on our own, into Southern Europe and the British Isles.  I highly recommend these CDs.  I can only believe that it will be very valuable some day to be able to hear the name of a lesser-known country in conversation, know that it exists, and where to locate it on a map.  Andora, anyone?  

for Grammar and Language Arts...

The songs on this disc are sill and fun.  I associate their style with School House Rock.  They're fun for listening to in the car, but we don't use these for serious memory work.  For lists and chants that are more practical for memorization instead of fun, I recommend the next two resources, the companion CD to First Language Lessons and the Shurley English chants...

First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Audio Companion for Levels 1 & 2

I love this disc.  It has all the chants, songs, and poems that your students are introduced to in Levels 1 and 2 of First Language Lessons.  However, it can be used independently of the book, teaching kids parts of speech and grammar rules as well as providing you with a wonderful collection of poems for memorization.

My son, Aaron, memorized several of these last year, and I found they were very helpful in identifying parts of speech in sentences.  He was even humming some of the jinlges to himself when taking the language and grammar portion of his first standardized test this past spring ;)
I was planning on buying a CD from Shurley English, but happily searched for the jingles on-line and came across this free resource. Thank you, Jeremy Pitts, whoever you are :) 

Other poetry resources we love...
(for appreciation or memorization)

for Math...

We had this CD for a couple years before I decided to actually use it.  It turned out to be a wonderful addition to our audio lessons.  Aaron used it this past year to memorize skip counting and Dominic used it to brush up on addition facts.  I highly recommend it, especially for the skip counting, which has made multiplication much easier for Aaron.

for Science...


These songs are ridiculous... in a good way.  I thought they'd be annoying, but I strangely enjoy them, as do my kiddos.  Most of the songs are set to common well-known tunes, like Darling Clementine and There's a Hole in the Bucket, etc...  And the science in them is like the science I remember from freshman biology in high school.  There are accompanying workbooks available to purchase for use with these resources (the above Amazon links are to MP3 downloads) but since we just use them for a fun supplement to whatever else we happen to be studying in science, we just listen to the songs and glean what we can instead of damping the fun with workbook pages...

for Songs and Music...

These CDs are collections of the works of great composers interwoven with a spoken story about their life and work.  They are not captivating stories that will hold the attention of really young kiddos.  They're more biographical.  I recommend them for elementary age kids and up.  (You can listen to a sample here from the CD about Bach - my favorite composer <3 )

It's important to me that my kids know the National Anthem and other standard patriotic tunes as well as the tunes from Americana that I grew up singing while my dad played the piano.  These two resources cover me - the Wee Sing America CS is GREAT for learning standard and not-so-standard patriotic songs (with a little bit of history thrown in).  The other book (piano music and beautiful artwork from the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and CD are great for more folk-ish, Americana type songs - Red River Valley, Simple Gifts, Shenandoah, I'v Been Working on the Railroad, etc...


YOUR turn!!  Are there any audio resources that you've used for educational purposes or just plain fun purposes in your homeschool?  I'd love to hear about them!  Let's chat in the comments :) 

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  1. Theresa, I just love you and your book/resources lists. Never stop.

    Lazy Homeschool Mom

    1. Aw, thanks Christy! I love to make (and read) lists of stuff but sometimes I wonder if it's a bit to lame-o to sustain a blog. Now that I know I have a fan, I shall carry on :)

    2. You've got a fan here, too! I know my kids will love all of these resources! Cecilia's been tagging along with John Paul's lessons and keeps BEGGING me for more history - hopefully audio books will be enough for her!

  2. I just love that I can forward your lists to my husband and say, "all, please!"

  3. I looooove the Wee-Sing series. I had the audio cassette tape of Wee-Sing America and wore it out from playing it so much when I was in elementary school. My mom later got the CDs of other Wee-Sing collections for when my sisters were growing up. Loved them all. :)

  4. We love the Geography Songs too:) Actually audio is a neglected area here, will have to check out your recs closely

  5. Thank you for this list! Exactly what I was looking for- a multi-subject list of useful homeschool audio. We've enjoyed the YWAM Biographies (history), Jonathan Park series (science) and of course Focus on the Family's Adventures in Odyssey (Bible/character/culture).


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