Thursday, September 20, 2012

The beauty of technology!

Let me preface this post with this: I am not advocating an abdication of time spent teaching your children in a "hands-on" fashion. I am not saying that you should use technology as a "babysitter" either.  That being said, technology can be a wonderful tool or servant in our schooling/parenting routine!

I am sure that many of you probably have figured out this cool little tool. But I have just discovered it, and in case I am not the only one who has been in the dark.... I want to pass on this invaluable information!

I was chatting with a fellow homeschooling mom at church last Sunday, sharing with her my current woes of being behind on a read-a-long book we're doing for school. I have been reading "Augustus Ceasar's World" as part of our history. This book takes quite a chunk of time each day. I did not realize that our curriculum (that we sort of follow in spite of adding many of our own things) recommended reading aloud "The Bronze Bow" too. By the time I realized this, we were like 100 pages behind the schedule. Each day's reading in this book was also taking up a huge chunk of time... especially when you are in "catch-up" mode.  As I was sharing this with my friend, I mentioned that it would be great to have as an audio book, but I didn't want to buy one. She (in her great wisdom) told me that there are virtual libraries where you could "check out" the audio books and play them on a smart phone (or computer, or mp3 player, or kindle)!

What a concept! Think of the possibilities! For free! So today, I went to our local city's virtual library website (where I already had a library card #) and signed up for a virtual account. I downloaded the app for my iphone (also available for android platforms, PC's, laptops, and Mac), I then browsed the titles in search of my book, and I downloaded the book.  I have 21 days to use it, at which time I can recheck it out, or just return it... (I'm assuming that it "returns itself" but since I'm a newbie at this, I don't know for sure... I can let you know in 21 days!)

Think about the possibilities of this handy little tool! Again, I do not plan on using this method to become my only source of reading aloud to my children. But in my current situation, I was able to play 2 chapters over lunch today while I got caught up on making butter and mozzarella cheese.  As I was talking to another homeschooling friend about this today, we thought about the opportunity to "read" during time in the car. Our family tends to be on the road a lot. I have tried using that time to read to the kids while Byron is driving, but it is quite laborious reading loud enough for everyone in the 3rd row to hear... especially over the diesel engine in our excursion or in our 4.5 door truck....

This truck has been great in transporting around our ever-increasing family! Check out

So having the option of using my iphone to play the read aloud and utilize the driving time as school time sounds like a great idea to me!  (In case you have a cassette player in your vehicle, you can get the cassette adapters for less than $5 at walmart. You connect one end to the headphone jack in your phone/kindle/ipad and the cassette end inserts into the cassette player. Then the audio is played through your car speakers.  Alternately, you can get an FM transmitter that will transmit via your FM radio to your car speakers.)

If you haven't figured it out, I'm quite excited about this! But on a similar note I'll just share another tidbit of info.... I have an app for my iphone called Bible.Is.  You can read the Bible on it in many versions, but what I love it for is the audio Bible.  When I have a Wifi or 3G connection I have access to a DRAMATIZED audio bible.... yes... you actually get to listen to the Egyptian plagues with locusts and frogs croaking in the background! The kids love it. Occasionally we take a break from our "normal" Bible reading and listen to the dramatized ESV Bible instead.  I'm sure there are more apps out there that do the same thing, but this is the one we are familiar with.  I am also able to use this app in the truck.

What are your favorite techno helps???? Please post and share!!!!

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