Monday, June 26, 2006

Cool Free Resources for On the Go Homeschoolers

This entry was originally posted at my other site, Twice Bloomed Wisteria.

We spend a great deal of time in the car or waiting for a lesson to be finished. I always take books, books on tape, math fact practice, or Latin pronunciation practice. But, sometimes we want more - a little something different. I have found a solution or a few solutions - Podcasts!

Podcasts have become popular because so many people have high speed internet and mp3 players and because many people find it difficult to tune in to a particular series because of so many other time commitments. NPR, National Geographic, NASA and others have made it easy to find the stories in your interest area. Once you subscribe to the podcast or sometimes before, you can pick and choose the episodes you would like to hear or fit into your current study. You may then download and listen to the podcasts at your convenience, as many times as you like. I hate it when there is a great story on the radio and we get to ballet and I have to get out of the car and miss 10 minutes or the end. You don't have that problem with podcasts - just click pause.

Here is a sampler of some of the educational podcasts available:
  • American Experience: a PBS production -- American Experience is a History Podcast with topics such as Riding the Rails, Behind the Scenes: The Man Behind Hitler, Annie Oakley, Jessie James, and Victory in the Pacific. The time on these range from 5 minutes to 26 minutes.
  • Nova --Short science stories from Nova are as diverse as can possibly be. There are stories about Mummies, Hurricanes, or Wetland Restoration.
  • NPR Expeditions from National Geographic -- Typical stories include A Journey to the Edge of the Amazon, Societies of Sound in the Forest (insect sounds), and Sacred protection for Medicinal Plants.
  • Science @ NASA -- Great stories from NASA like The Pull of Jupiter, Jupiter's New Red Spot, Planets around Dead Stars, and Suit Sat.
  • NPR - Story of the Day --These stories are not all suitable for child listeners but stories like Chocolate's countless varieties, Dada on Display at the National Gallery, and In Praise of Don Knotts are interesting family choices.
  • Nature Stories - Farming the Desert, Listening to the Private lives of Wolves, and Listening to the Northern Lights are a sampling of the stories in this environmental education podcast.
  • Nature - Audio highlights from the international journal nature. Podcast segments are longer and the content is a bit more advanced, but no less interesting. Articles like Undersea volcanoes, genetic causes of deafness, the balmy arctic, and poisonous frogs.
There are thousands of possibilities. Podcasts are being added daily and most are free! Something for everyone - even Latin readings - can be found in these emerging resources. Even though I linked to the individual sites, I use iTunes which is also free. You can search podcasts and subscribe in one place. Obviously, there are other options if you don't use iTunes. You may subscribe to NPR Podcasts at their website. You may google podcasts and your topic. I find all of that daunting because sometimes I don't know what I want. I like to browse.

What I do know is that our weekly travel time will be more interesting and more educational. Podcasts are not just for the car or iPod, I listen to the NPR Story of the Day and NPR Weekly Book Reviews while toiling away at my computer.

Are there fun, interesting, educational podcasts that I have missed?

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