How to keep files handy across all your gadgets #homeschool

There’s one question I’m often asked most often by fellow homeschool moms….how are you able to use your stuff on all your different gadgets?

First off, instead of saving all my documents, videos, etc to my hard drive, I save it to DropBox. DropBox is a great place on the web which you can access from all your devices, including your computer, your smartphone, and your tablet. You can choose to keep your files private or you can create shared folders so you can share docs and other things with whomever you want. You can sign-up for free and receive 2Gb of storage space. If you refer friends you’ll receive 250Mb more for each friend. I’ve also found my DropBox stored files to be super handy when I’m using a shared computer – I can access my files through a web browser.

For music if you have an Android smart phone I’d use MusicWithMe for storing and sharing my music.  With this app you can sync wirelessly with your iTunes account. You can create playlists and even share them with your friends. You can share your music on Facebook, Twitter or email. See and share music your friends or fellow homeschools like. This would be great for a curriculum that studies particular musical pieces – like AmblesideOnline.

For my bookmarks on my browser I use Google Bookmark on my Google Toolbar. Again I can access my bookmarks from a web browser anywhere, on any device. If you’re using Firefox you can install the Google Toolbar and have your bookmarks fully integrated. While I wish it was the same for Chrome, it is not integrated.

That’s just a couple ways to keep your important stuff handy and useable. Thankfully the more fun devices there are on the market, there will always be more ways to keep connected.

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Is it worth an Audible subscription? #homeschool

Audible – Is it worth it?

As a frugal homeschooler I’m always asking myself if something is truly worth the money. One question that was recently raised was is it worth the expense of having an Audible subscription?

Personally, I did subscribe to Audible when they offered a sign-up promotion…I believe it was 2 free ‘credits’ and then the regular monthly fee.  I chose the subscription option of receiving 1 credit a month. At the time Audible was exactly what I needed. We were taking some very long road trips back and forth to family and I needed ‘non-schoolish’ audio books to occupy both myself and my children. I was motivated since they had a number of books not available on Librivox, including the Ted Bell childrens book series, Nick Of Time and also books of interest just for me. In most cases, especially factoring in the 2 free credits it was very worthwhile.

I’ve since cancelled my membership now that we’re not making the long trips as often. I also found that a number of the audio books I desired were cheaper than the monthly subscription fee. So it made more sense for me to purchase these without the credits. As an aside, when I went to unsubscribe they asked why…I selected it was the financial aspect. Audible then offered to add $20 to my account if I would remain a member, to which I did. I have since unsubscribed but I feel I did get great value for the money and I would subscribe again if and when my needs change.

That being said there are other places to get free audio books beyond Librivox.
The main source is the library.

Check out your library’s website. They may have an arrangement with Overdrive Media Console for their audiobooks and NetLibrary also offers similar. You can download these directly to your computer or your mp3 player depending on the site without ever having to step foot in the library. And of course, libraries also usually have cd audiobooks you can add to your computer and then transfer to your mp3 players.

Hope that helps and happy listening!

Long car rides ahead? Need audio books? #homeschool

Long car rides ahead? Need audio books?

Today we’re welcoming a guest post from Greta Kvinnsland!

For those long rides in the car this summer or for those who need to listen
instead of use print media, try Librivox Recordings at www.Librivox.org.

Librivox is the result of something called The Gutenberg Project where there are currently over 4000 books available in digital print or audio, for free download.

Kids today might think that older titles aren’t interesting but there are so
many classics here that really are great stories and they have titles for all ages.

You can download a zip file of the entire audio book to your computer and then to
any MP3 player, or burn to CD. The files are available in several formats (I use MP3)
or they’ve also done something quite high tech – you can subscribe to books
as daily podcasts via iTunes and they come to you a few chapters at a time
and they download via iTunes every day on podcast. Search for Librivox inside the iTunes store.

In addition, if you have an Apple product you can download a free audio
reader from the iTunes Store and then get the books – search on Librivox.
On the iPad you can go through a catalog and it downloads the books directly
to your iPad and the reader reads the audio book to you – probably the same for
other Apple products.

The readers are a mix of synthetic voices, and real people reading and I’ve
found some voices I like better than others. With 4000 titles to choose from if I don’t like it I move on. Sometimes I get a British person reading who pronounces words differently and my child doesn’t understand. Some books like Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens novels, Anne of Green Gables, the Bible, have multiple versions and readers to choose from.

There are language courses and books available in, I think, 17 languages
from Latvian to Latin and Hebrew.

If you have a regular computer, then you can download to your computer and use the speakers to listen, or for about $65 you can get a bluetooth headset on Amazon to be wireless or for the same $65 or less you can get any number of MP3 players. Sorry if I’m talking down to anyone but I find that a lot of us parents haven’t had the time to figure out all these options.

Thanks Greta for sharing info on Librivox. It’s a very valuable resource for us homeschooling moms.

Freebie of the Day » The Cinnamon Bear! radio show

Freebie of the Day » The Cinnamon Bear! radio show

Originally played on-air in 1937 this old radio series has been a favourite Christmas tradition in our household since the kids were wee tiny folk. Be sure and download the whole series – pop them into iTunes and put them on your iPod, iPad, iPhone for listening while driving around looking at the Christmas lights. Or burn them onto CDs for playing in the car.

Another homeschool idea is to download and print off the accompanying colouring book and colour while listening to the stories. Maybe make it part of your advent tradition.

Take care!

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