Homeschooling

Why Use Science Audiobooks? (An Apologia Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures MP3 CD Review)

Pin image for Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

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.

Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

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!

Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

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.

Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

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.

Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

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.)

Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

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!

Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

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.

.Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

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.

Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

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.

Why Use Science Audiobooks? An Apologia Science Review of Zoology 2 Audio MP3 CD, by the Oaxacaborn blog

Want to grab the same science curriculum we’re using this year?

You’ll need —

Have more questions?

Comment below, or join The Oaxacaborn Homeschool Community and jump in to this discussion thread, where we’re chatting about Zoology 2.

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What does science look like in your homeschool this year?

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Homeschooling

Why I Don’t Use THAT Popular Homeschool Booklist

That super-popular homeschool booklist? I don't use it. This is why.

You know that free homeschool book list? The one making the rounds across the homeschool world — along with the various free and low-cost curriculum offerings by the same author — the one which also includes a not recommended list dozens of titles long?

I don’t use that list.

I know, I know. It’s trending in popularity. It’s everywhere. It promises “wholesome” and “appropriate” titles, and ranks each one according to its “moral merit”. (It also provides a separate, but very lengthy, list of books which the author believes should be avoided.)

Don’t get me wrong. I do agree we should avoid certain books. Some books — like ones about the occult — aren’t even worth the paper they’re printed on. Libraries, too, are full of quizzically-named books like “Help! Haunted Werewolves ate the Cafeteria Lady*” — these always make me scratch my head. Literary merit? Moral value? Highly debatable! (*not an actual book.)

But the author of this particular recommended/not recommended reading list isn’t referring to books about werewolves and lunch ladies. When this book list decries books of questionable merit, it cuts out books like Clara and the Bookwagon (due to unkind parents who don’t value education), as well as Tirzah and The Year of Miss Agnes (because the main characters decide to pursue a path other than childbearing.) There are dozens more books similarly not recommended; this is just a sampling.

I’m taking a deep breath here.

Maybe you have parents who were less than kind to you.

Maybe you struggle with infertility.

This does not make you less than.

This does not make you “of questionable merit.”

Continue reading “Why I Don’t Use THAT Popular Homeschool Booklist”

Homeschooling

Teach Art Appreciation with a 365-Day Calendar

Teaching Homeschool Art Appreciation with a Daily Calendar

Homeschoolers make art appreciation too complicated — too fussy, too drawn out, too obscure.  I see so many questions in forums and Facebook groups, posted by moms wholly intimidated by the idea of teaching art to their children.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to tackle all the art at once.

You don’t have to learn how to draw like Leonardo da Vinci.

You don’t have to be an art historian.

Continue reading “Teach Art Appreciation with a 365-Day Calendar”

Homeschooling

Using an American History Timeline to Teach History Analytically

Teaching History Analytically with an American History TimelineI’m on a perpetual quest to find accurate US history curriculums for kids — but you already knew this about me, right? Compared to objective subjects like math and science, I find history to be particularly challenging to teach properly. While it’s easy for me to seek out the right curriculum — or YouTube video — to help me explain a mathematical concept, it’s much more difficult to offer an accurate commentary on historical events and indeed, people’s own lives.

History is a complex tapestry. There are threads of war, famine, discovery, and conquest, all woven together with the threads of individual people. But people’s lives are complicated. Too many history curriculums offer snap judgments  — telling students exactly what to think — but there’s always more to understand. Biographies are an important key in unraveling historical mystery, because they reveal context, cultural backdrop, and personal motivations. Yet no matter how many rich, enlightening biographies we read, history remains a sequential course of study. Years are chronological. To tie all these separate events and people together and deepen our understanding of what really happened — and how all these different parts are connected — we need to lay out these puzzle pieces in a logical, sequential, pattern.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received free digital and print copies of The Giant American History Timeline from Sunflower Education, and was compensated for my time in exchange for writing and publishing this post. All opinions are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. 

Continue reading “Using an American History Timeline to Teach History Analytically”

Homeschooling, How To

How to Use Middle-Grade Fiction Books to Teach US History & More (FREE Printables!)

Using Middle-Grade Fiction Books to Teach US History, Geography, Music, Vocabulary and More (FREE Printables!): Aunt Claire Presents, Published by Laboratory BooksWhen I was a girl, I read countless old books. These brittle volumes usually smelled of crumbling book glue and dust; some left a sprinkling of yellowed page edges on my lap as I turned each leaf. I read and re-read my old books until they, quite literally, fell apart. But in all my reading, I never cared much for the stories about perfect, quiet girls, who had little more to offer than exquisite conversation skills and needlework. I wanted to — and did! — read about the spunky outliers; I loved the books about fearless girls who dove, often, into the unexpected.

[Disclosure of Material Connection: I received two titles from the Aunt Claire Presents series in exchange for reviewing this product and publishing this post, and I was also compensated for my time.]

Continue reading “How to Use Middle-Grade Fiction Books to Teach US History & More (FREE Printables!)”