Do you struggle with the available options for teaching elementary science? Over and over, I hear from overwhelmed parents who are stuck trying to figure out how to fit science in to an already-full homeschool schedule.
Maybe that’s you.
Maybe science is the one subject which keeps getting pushed down the priority list, and tends to eventually get left out altogether. Maybe you have the idea that science needs to be heavily hands-on, with dramatically impressive experiments all the time. Realistically, you can’t be the mad scientist too, on top of all the other hats you wear. And maybe you even feel a little guilty about that.
But here’s the thing:
Let go of the guilt. Elementary science doesn’t have to be teacher-intensive.
It doesn’t have to mean fizzing volcanoes and plastic-bag lungs every week. (Although, it can. But you’re not obligated. Really.)
If you’re a weary mama with a science-minded kiddo begging to learn more, take heart.
You can still deliver solid, in-depth science education without having to dedicate loads of time to teaching each science lesson.
In our homeschool, I am a big fan of audio resources. (Did you catch my post on how I use audio to create a completely independent morning time?) And when it comes to making time for science during especially busy seasons, I rely on audio resources there, too.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a half-price discount on the Apologia Zoology 2 MP3 Audiobook from Timberdoodle in exchange for writing and publishing this post. I chose this product because I’ve used other Apologia audiobooks before in our homeschool, and I love them!
A Timberdoodle Review of the Apologia Zoology 2 / Swimming Creatures MP3 Audio CD
This school year marks our third time using Apologia science, and it’s also the third time we’ll be using the MP3 Audio component, too. These audiobooks are AMAZING. But when I mentioned to some friends that I’d be taking advantage of the optional MP3 CD, I was surprised by how many responded with the question —
“Why use an audio book instead of reading to your kids yourself?”
My immediate reaction is, why not? Audio resources are a tremendous boon to a homeschool routine, and have so many positive benefits to supercharge your day. It’s common to find novels, biographies, historical fiction, classics, and even picture books in audiobook form, but oft-overlooked audio textbooks are an incredible tool as well.
5 reasons you should consider using Apologia MP3 Audio CDs
1. …to encourage independent learning.
Having access to the entire textbook on MP3 means my daughter can just tap the play button and dive into the accompanying notebooking journal, without having to wait for me. The freedom to learn independently has always been valuable and encouraged in our homeschool, but in the last month, it’s become even more crucial.
In the middle of writing this post, I took a slight detour — to the hospital to welcome our eager little preemie. In the ensuing NICU days, any schoolwork my daughter could do independently to maintain a little routine (and sanity!) was such a lifesaver. And now, in the newborn blur, the audiobook means we don’t have to skip science or shuffle it away to the back burner. (My science-obsessed daughter is thrilled about this!)
2. …to streamline your day so you can multitask.
The audio component frees up my time to focus on tasks I’d be unable to accomplish if I were facilitating the science lesson. Though I remain nearby so I can offer input and answer questions as needed, I’m usually actively working on something else while my daughter is doing her science lesson. With the audiobook’s help, I can write a blog post, work on a freelance project, or fold a load of laundry while she’s immersed in a science lesson. (Or, you know, change a diaper.) Multiply that throughout the school year, and wow! What a great return on the purchase price.
3. …to allow for repetition and review.
When you’re a science-obsessed kiddo, sometimes science is so exciting you simply must to listen to a certain topic again — or even again and again. Audiobooks are great for repetitive listening. (Word to the wise? Headphones are a good call, too.)
And if your student is working in the notebooking journal as she listens, she may need to double-check details before completing an activity. The MP3s make review super easy: just replay the track.
4. ..to homeschool on the go (in the car, in waiting rooms, etc)
Headphones and an MP3 player mean school gets done even in a quiet waiting room. Time spent at appointments can really add up, and the ability to still mark off subjects while away from home is a huge advantage.
5. …to lessen the workload on you, mama!
There’s no shame in my audio game. I’ve heard (a lot of) chatter in the homeschool world about audiobooks not being an equivalent substitute for cuddles and read-alouds. While that’s true, there’s also a time and a place for using audio as a learning tool. (Using an audio resource for a subject or two or three doesn’t mean you don’t snuggle your kids!) If you click or tap the audio play button for science this year, instead of reading the textbook yourself, it is absolutely okay.
Audiobooks are not cheating.
Homeschool mama, you’ve already given up thousands upon hours of alone time to homeschool (and likely a full income and a career as well.) You’re with your children 24/7. You can incorporate audio into a subject or two with absolutely no guilt.
You really can.
You have my permission.
Let’s dive in (marine pun intended) to some more specific details. (Shoutout to my closed Facebook group, The Oaxacaborn Homeschool Community, for asking these great questions about the audiobooks.)
How long is each average lesson?
Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day contains 13 lessons, which means you definitely won’t be listening to an entire lesson each day. Instead, think of each lesson as a chapter. Within each chapter, the tracks range from about twelve seconds for a simple narration prompt (reminding the student to pause the audio and narrate back what they’ve learned thus far) to four minutes for longer topics. Most, tracks, though, run about a minute and half in length.
The notebook journal — I’ll have a review on that coming later in the school year — offers a pacing guide to help you schedule the 13 lessons across 26 weeks. This averages out to roughly 11 tracks per week, or 18 minutes of audio weekly. Of course, when you add in pausing for narration, time needed to complete the work in the notebooking journal, and additional hands-on activity time (optional) your total time investment will be higher. But, since kids can do some of the journal activities while they listen, the audio component ends up being a terrific tool for time management!
How long is the entire Zoology 2 audio CD?
The Zoology 2 CD has a total run time of 7 hours, 53 minutes.
Can I skip to specific sections to listen to just the part I want to hear?
Yes! The CD has 283 tracks, each labeled clearly with the lesson number and a short topic description, such as Lesson 12: Non-nettle Jellies or Lesson 7: Sting Rays. This is also fabulous for review, or for replaying especially fascinating sections. (Did you know a blue whale’s heart is the size of a Volkswagen beetle? That’s in Lesson 2: Whales!)
What marine biology topics does Zoology 2 cover?
Aquatic animals, whales, seals and sea cows, aquatics herps, primeval reptiles, fish, sharks and rays, crustaceans, mollusks, cephalopods, echinoderms, cindarians — and more.
Does the audio recording exactly follow the book text?
For the most part, it does. The main exception is sections which tell you how to conduct the activities and experiments. The narrator doesn’t read these instructions aloud, but instead indicates where to pause and refer to the book in order to complete the hands-on activities. (We generally don’t pause, though, and instead do any desired projects on a different day. You can do this, too, without guilt. You can even — yes, I said it — skip the experiments altogether.)
A few words in the main text have been adjusted here and there, in order for the spoken audio to flow smoothly — the intro track to the CD explains this, too. So, if you’re following along closely the textbook, you may notice slight differences from time to time. We haven’t found this to be troublesome, though, and my daughter has a very precise sort of personality.
What’s the narrator like? Is the audio engaging?
Each of the MP3 Audio CDs in the Young Explorers series is read aloud by the author, Jeannie Fullbright. We love her! She wrote the books in a very narrative style, speaking directly to the reader, so the audio flows incredibly well. It’s not at all like you’d imagine a traditional textbook to sound. You can listen to an audio sample of Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day to see what I mean..
Is the audio available as a download, streaming, or as a physical CD?
Timberdoodle sells a physical CD, which I actually prefer to streaming (it works without the internet AKA distractions!) Note that these are MP3 CDs, so if you want to play the content in a car, you’ll have to first upload the files to a device like an iPad or iPhone, then plug in or connect to the vehicle’s speakers.
Where can I purchase Apologia MP3 Audio CDs?
Timberdoodle! You can browse Timberdoodle’s entire selection of Apologia Science online, or request a Timberdoodle print catalog to see all their super fun homeschool offerings.
Want to grab the same science curriculum we’re using this year?
You’ll need —
- Apologia Young Explorers Series Zoology 2 MP3 Audiobook
- Apologia Young Explorers Series Zoology 2 Junior Notebooking Journal
- Apologia Young Explorers Series Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day Textbook
Have more questions?
What does science look like in your homeschool this year?