Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Secret Weapon: Podcasts

When I need to keep the kids happy and quiet and I don't want them staring at a screen, I turn on a podcast (or an audiobook). Once we turn on a podcast, especially one where the story spans multiple episodes, my kids can listen and play relatively quietly for up to four hours! (Though the average is more like two hours.)

 Podcasts are especially helpful for Orion, who craves audio stimulation and can go crazy if he doesn't get enough music or stories in his ears.

Listening to podcasts is a great way to slip in some fun education or literacy. The best podcasts appeal to both parents and kids. Here are some of our family's favorite podcasts (and why we like them).

How do you listen to podcasts?

Sometimes you can listen right on the podcast's website. But you can also use a dedicated podcast app or software.

I like Castbox.fm (app and web) and Spotify. Google Podcast has a super simple user interface. Stitcher is popular. Lost Boy uses iHeart Radio. And Apple users can use iTunes.

Our Favorite Five for Kids

Brains On!  We love Molly, Mark, and Sanden (and now Bob and Gungador, too!) Each episode features a child co-host (or two) who have sent in a question that Molly explores. The questions are usually science related, and we hear from answers from experts all over the nation. There are funny skits, and Mystery Sounds, and curious kids in every show. This show is one that parents can enjoy as much as kids. And! it counts as science if you're homeschooling (or isolationschooling). If you sign up for their Fan Club, the team sends you questions to consider and activities to try at home that are related to new episodes. Also, once in a while they send you swag. We just got some cool stickers last week. This is probably our top favorite show.

Smash Boom Best is a debate show done by the same team as Brains On! They set up a debate with guest debaters, then follow a prescribed format to argue it out. Lest you think this might be boring for elementary age kids, their topics range from Pizza vs. Tacos to Robots vs. Aliens to Unicorns vs. Dragons to Piranhas vs. Venus Flytrap. And lest you think it's too silly, they have resource materials that such as a score card so your child can decide which side was more persuasive, and a bingo sheet so your child can listen for logical fallacies (or animal sound effects). They also have a half-time segment "designed to show you how to build strong arguments and how to spot weak ones." This one is potentially educational, if you play it right. ; )

The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian is about a kid named Finn Caspian. He lives on a space station with his parents and his friends, and his robot. Finn and his friends go on exploration missions and meet all kinds of aliens, friendly and not. They get into trouble and rescue each other. This podcast is done by a dad. His young son is his editor and he interviews his editor at the end of most episodes. This one isn't my favorite podcast, but Lilli and Orion LOVE it! I do enjoy the fiesty robot co-host.

The Radio Adventures of Dr. Floyd Darren and the kids like to listen to old time radio shows and this podcast is like a modern old time radio show. It's a perfect fit! And it's a bit difficult to describe... there's time travel and hilarious miscommunications. Here's a quote from the podcast's description "Join Dr. Floyd as he tries to thwart the plans of his evil arch nemesis, Dr. Steve, all the while learning about the people and events that shaped the history of the Earth. If satirist Stan Freberg and Jay Ward, creator of Rocky & Bullwinkle, had created Mystery Science Theater 3000 mixed in a little Time Bandits and gave it an educational spin, the result would have been...The Radio Adventures Of Dr. Floyd!" This is one that I like to listen to with the kids!

The Cinnamon Bear is a Christmas tradition at our house. It is an honest-to-goodness old time radio show that first aired in 1937. It is a Christmas adventure story in which a brother and a sister go on an adventure to Maybeland to find their lost silver Christmas star. Their travelling companions include the Cinnamon Bear and the Crazy Quilt Dragon (sometimes we're not sure if he's a friend or a foe!). The show was originally designed to be aired starting on November 26th, with six episodes a week until Christmas. We usually start it the day after Thanksgiving. You can find it in lots of places all over the web. We burned it to cds several years ago, but we have also found it on Spotify, Castbox.fm, and archive.org.

There's More!

If you do a quick search for "kids" in the search box of your podcast app you'll find lots of other options. I found about twenty new titles to try, including:

Do your kids already listen to podcasts? 

What are their favorites?

Monday, March 09, 2020

Illustrations by Paul Goble

We've been finding amazing books at the library! I hardly have to look and great books keep jumping into my hands!

Here are two books that I particularly enjoyed. They are Native American stories. I loved the art, by Paul Goble. And I love how Mr. Goble gives background information about the stories and where he found inspiration for the motifs in the illustrations.

* * * All book covers are Amazon Affiliate links. If you can't see them, you may have an ad blocker on. Please consider pausing it - the covers are beautiful! * * *

In Star Boy, a young woman who says she will marry the Morning Star. He comes to marry her and she is taken to the sky to live with him. But when her curiosity gets her in trouble she is sent back to earth with her son. Her son faces sadness and adversity in his life, but makes an important journey to secure his heart's desire.

In Her Seven Brothers, a young woman learn traditional beading from her mother and becomes a skillful weaver. She is an only child, but learns of seven brothers who need someone to take care of them, and she journeys to become their sister. (The seven brothers living alone reminded Orion and me of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which we watched a few weeks ago. But the stories are not the same.)

I'm not familiar with many Native American tales. I suspect there are symbols and imagery in these stories and illustrations that I missed. The images are so beautiful. I want to frame a spread and look at it every day, and maybe change it once in a while. I want to read more of Paul Goble's books, and learn more about the Native American traditions (he specifies what tribe or tribes are represented in the books). 

Here are a few more books done by Paul Goble. Orion and I want to read ALL of them!

There are so many more books by Paul Goble. Check your library and put some on hold. You won't regret it!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Six needs More Mom

Washing rocks to use for math practice.
The more I learn about homeschool, the more I love it. Orion and I started homeschooling on January 6th and it is such a relief.

My main reasons for switching him to homeschool were so that he could have:

1) more sleep
2) more playtime (preferably outside)
3) more food (though food is not my forte)
4) more Mom

The "more Mom" reason has surfaced as the most important. He has heard me summarize my reason for homeschooling him as "because he needs more Mom-time" and it seems as though it gave him permission to want me to be with him all the time. Which, as an introvert, isn't exactly what I had in mind. But which, as I learn more about motherhood and my power to nurture, I am at peace with. Maybe he needed me more than I realized. I finally gave him permission to be six and to need me.

When he wakes up he comes to find me (usually on the couch) and we snuggle and read some poems and stories. (Literature. Check!) I love Charlotte Mason's education philosophy, so we pause frequently and I ask Orion to narrate, or to "tell me what we just read." He's pretty good, when he feels like it. One day he "narrated" in gobledegook, faux Chinese, and alien before translating it to English. He did this every time we stopped to narrate...  which is every two paragraphs!

Before we started homeschooling, Orion asked if we had to do so much history, like Lilli had. Of course we don't. But the next day he told me he wanted to learn about cavemen. Which coincides fairly well with the beginning of The Story of the World Volume 1. He built a country with train tracks and geometric blocks while I read about archaeology to him. Then with hardly any encouragement, he drew a map of his country in his sketch book. (Geography! Yay!)

We followed a few rabbit holes. One day I picked up a Magic School Bus book on bones that we started weeks ago (and have to turn in to the library soon). We only read a few chapters, but then we pulled out our How the Body Works book and looked up the chapter on bones. We read a bit there, then pulled out the playdough and some straws to make a model of the microscopic structure inside of bones. This was a good activity for Davey! I have been wanting to do preschool activities with him for months. But now, with Orion home, Davey is getting more stories and more activities.

We're also working in Copywork (handwriting), Chores, Devotional, Physical Activity, and Math. Though my math plan needs some work! I encourage him to draw pictures of the things we're learning and talking about in his sketchbook. But it hasn't caught on yet. I have tons of plans for art, but my execution needs some improvement.

Despite having more to do than can physically be done in a day, I feel exhilarated by how calm and peaceful I feel. I'm enjoying Orion more than I have in a long time. And while I don't get to pay quite as much attention to Davey during the morning like I used to, I have delightful interactions with him and am so grateful for him. I'm working on connecting with Lilli better, too (I visited with her in her CLEAN room one night last week and she brushed my hair! It was heaven!).  

Now. If only the dishes would wash themselves!