I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. An advocate of slow food and simple living. A keeper of memories, a collector of books, and a champion for second-generation homeschooling. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Homeschooling tip for Hopelessly Busy Families

Homeschool tip for Hopelessly Busy Families-The Unlikely Homeschool

"So, how's your school year going?"
Is my typical lead-in when meeting up with other fellow homeschool mommas.  

comes the reply...more often than not.  

I hear ya'.  Believe me, I hear ya'.

(This post contains affiliate links.  Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

Busyness these days comes in many forms.  For some families it is the natural outcome of the over zealous-fast paced-sign up for every possible lesson-lifestyle that American families seem to wear as a badge of honor.  For others, it is just the result of having a large family with many subjects and grade levels to cover.  My family falls into the latter.  (Sometimes I feel like the activities director of a cruise ship SANS the clipboard and khaki pants.)

Whichever camp you fall into, chances are, if you are a homeschool family, you are a BUSY homeschool family.  

So, let me tell ya' about one of my best homeschool tricks for saving time and sanity while still getting in lots of learning.  

Shhh...lean in really close...I don't want my Littles to know just how sneaky their momma can be.

I outsource with audio books.
Surprisingly simple and with the help of a library card, absolutely free!

Audio books have come a long way since the little Disney cassette tape/book combos I remember listening to as a tot.  

And while our family started with the simple fiction book-on-CD variety, we have since found many other delightfully educational CDs to enjoy.  

How we use them

Our audio book passion began at bedtime one night.  Realizing that my children were not always ready to drift off to dream land right at eight o'clock, I began requesting audio versions of favorite fiction books from the library to play at LIGHTS OUT.  They would listen for a chapter or two and then find themselves dreaming of Frog and his pal Toad, Almanzo and his calves Star and Bright, or a larger-than-life dog named Mudge.

Eventually, we began bringing these audio adventures along in the car for long trips or even just short jaunts across town.  (I actually bought a learn-your-states-and-capitals cassette tape at a garage sale one year.  We spent every Tuesday afternoon listening to the zippy-but-slightly-obnoxious songs on our way to piano lessons.  I NEVER had to drill states and capitals, but my kids can still prattle them off at a slightly-obnoxious cadence.

And then there was the time when we borrowed a multiplication facts-set-to-music CD from a friend...)

Then, as life gave way to busy.busy.busy and I found myself not being able to read as many lovely picture books to my little ones as I did when my older ones were that young, I began forging out time for my tots to listen to picture books on CD during the regular school day or at bedtime.  It was a great way to multiply the learning time without having to perform a five-loaves-and-two-fish miracle with my time and attention.

Our favorite audio books/series

While any great fiction title will do in a pinch, I also like to weave in some content-rich stories to sneak in history, science, geography, Bible, and world-view lessons.

These are fantastic audio/radio dramatizations of famous historical events and biographies of famous Americans.  There are also several Bible/character training sets that my children have enjoyed during family devotion time on overnights with grandma and grandpa.

Emphasizing science and science-based topics from a Christian perspective, these have always been a hit with my science-lovin' boys.

While I'm not a huge fan of their daily dramas as I think the topics and school-based-story-line do not usually apply to my homeschooled kids, I love the historical retellings and Bible dramatizations.  My favorites are the Eyewitness Collector's Set and Truth Chronicles. (Quick aside:  My middle son got the Truth Chronicles set for Christmas and has spent nearly every free moment since in his room building with Legos and listening to Whit and his friends.  We have had the lovely privilege of hearing him quote large sections of the series at the dinner table...and in the bathtub...and at the grocery store...and....)

These are the perfect audio dramas for my little ones.  While they are not academically content-rich, they are wonderful recordings of afternoon radio broadcasts that use fictional pond animals to teach Biblical character.


  1. You should check out Paws and Tails. A critter filled drama teaching Bible truths. Also Uncle Bob's Nature Corner from Moody Press. He interviews animals, nature, parts of the body, etc.

    1. Ooooh...new titles to look into!!! Thanks, friend. I have heard of the Uncle Bob's series but not the other. I doubt my local library carries these, but I might be able to get them through an interlibrary loan. Hope all is well in your spot on the map!

  2. Love audio books too, we use them all the time for road trips and bedtime!

  3. We also LOVE audio books! I have a daughter who constantly wants to be read to and while I enjoy reading to her, I have three others who also require my attention. I also like to get a couple copies of the book we are listening to so that the kids can follow along while they are listening.

    1. I have a friend that does that with read alouds. Her girls like to read along as she reads to them. What a great way to encourage reading skills.

  4. Our mantra on busy days: CAR-SCHOOLING!

  5. What a good idea to play them at bedtime. Jonny has the hardest time falling asleep at night. We let him get up sometimes, but even then he has a hard time. I think he'd like this. Thanks for the idea!

    1. It certainly helps to curb the "but, I'm not tired" around here.

  6. My kids used to listen to Paws and Tales and Life at the Pong, but they've outgrown them. With the littlest one, maybe they'll get a resurgence in our house in a couple of years :). What really got my attention in this post was the idea of a multiplication song. I've been struggling with my kiddos over those tables for months. I had no idea such a song existed. I looked it up on YouTube, and there are lots! We'll definitely be utilizing one of them starting tomorrow! Thanks for the tip!

    1. Would you be willing to put a link here for others to go and view them?

  7. We have loved audio books and incorporated them into our family life for years. We rarely travel without something to listen to and learn from. My 16 year old daughter started on the audio series Down Gilead Lane when she was about your daughters age, maybe a little younger. It is a story about a family with five children. I love how the parents always point the children back to Christ in whatever situation they may find themselves in. You should check it out. I think they are produced by the Children's Bible Hour company. Kim Crawford

  8. I have a first grader who is struggling to learn and retain his math facts. Do you know of any good math songs CD's that might help the information stick in his slippery little brain:)
    Kim Crawford

    1. Actually, the one we borrowed from a friend was not very impressive. I will post this as a reader question on Facebook. Perhaps others know of a good series. I actually knew of a great one when I was in teacher's college. But, I've since forgotten the name of it.

  9. We love almost anything narrated by Jim Weiss, he has an amazing voice. His stories are available at www.greathall.com, and some mp3 download from amazon. His retelling of Rascal remains one of our family favorites and we actually borrowed that one from the library.



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