I have a problem.
Our homeschool schedule is ruined for the day if we leave the house. We leave the house ALOT. Between Dr’s appointments, swim lessons, library days, art class, co-op, nature day and spontaneous play dates, some weeks it feels like nothing has gotten done.
I know that we will never get through everything planned for the week, but I also want to feel like we are making progress. I don’t want to keep the kids home more to do that. Instead, I started looking for a solution to the problem.
Do you have this problem too? I imagine that I am not alone. We are busy. We are taking our children out into the world everyday and letting them experience life. And that’s not all. It’s life itself that keeps happening no matter how solid our school schedule is.
Many of the articles on car schooling I read focused on stuff to buy like clipboards and lab desks and backseat organizers. I don’t need more THINGS. I needed a list of SUBJECT BY SUBJECT learning resources like audio cd’s and books, educational podcasts and learning materials that I could pull out or pop in at a moments notice. An ALL IN ONE list that I could refer too quickly when we needed to extend a subject or concept for the day, but didn’t have time to do it at home.
Please Mama, do not look at this MONSTER OF A LIST and feel like you have to do it all. I am a firm believer in boredom and downtime for our kids and this is not another guilt trip about you needing to do more to fill in their every moment. So, pick one or two subjects that your kids really enjoy or that you find hard to get done at home and then make that the focus of your car time for now. Then, come back when you are ready for more ideas!
These are some of the essentials that I use everyday to make school happen in the car. By far the most important is access to audiobooks and educational music MP3’s that I can stream right from my phone. I will download the material I want to iTunes or my Amazon Music app, then organize into relevent playlists, and then use a BLUETOOTH speaker in my car that is connected to the aux on my stereo.
1. Carschooling by Diane Flynn Keith. Keep this book in your car for when you need a quick idea for super creative games and activities. Includes learning games for every subject.
2. Amazon Audible Subscription. I don’t use Audible, instead I use Hoopla which is connected to my library account. If you don’t have audiobook access through your library then Audible is a great resource for childrens literature and non-fiction eBooks.
3. Check with your library to see if they use Overdrive or Hoopla for free audiobooks streamed on your device. With Hoopla, I get 6 borrows a month for free! Way more value then Audible. You are limited to the books your library offers though.
4. LibriVox is a source for finding public domain audiobooks that you can listen to for free. You can find non fiction, poetry, Shakespeare, classic literature and more.
3. Prime Music and Music Unlimited. We already have a Prime subscription but for an extra $9.99/month I get access to every song Amazon offers including educational music that I can organize into playlists and play whenever I want. From science songs, to guided meditation for kids, to classical music and ballet stories I find this resource super easy and useful when I need to find something quick. Plus, there is no clutter of CD’s to deal with.
4. Bluetooth Car Kit. This little bluetooth adapter makes all of this happen! My older car stereo does not have blue tooth and my newer iPhone cannot connect via AUX. So this little guy has been a lifesaver! It picks up the bluetooth signal and then connects to the car speakers via the AUX port. I can now stream all the stories and podcasts we want…hands free!
Science on the go
Science is actually really easy to extend in the car. No, you can’t do experiments BUT you can choose from a ton of science CD’s and amazing science podcast for kids that have episodes on almost any topic you can think of. Plus there are really fun card games for upper elementary and higher as well as fun activity books that can be saved just for car time.
Many of the CD’s are out of print but still AWESOME for early elementary! Find them used on Amazon, Amazon Music Unlimitied, eBay or at your library.
Here Comes Science (science songs) Audio CD, MP3, Music Unlimited
Lyrical Science Series (science songs)
Lyrical Life Science 1. Bacteria to Birds MP3, Audio CD
Lyrical Life Science 2. Mammals, Ecology and Biomes Audio CD
Lyrical Life Science 3. The Human Body Audio CD, MP3
Lyrical Earth Science. Geology Audio CD
Singing Science: Tickle Tune Typhoon. Audio CD
Schoolhouse Rock: Science Songs. Audio CD
Astronomy Rock! Music Unlimited, MP3, Audio CD
Body Systems Rock! Music Unlimited, MP3, Audio CD
Anything Tom Glazer!
Space Songs. Music Unlimited, MP3
Weather Songs. Music Unlimited, MP3
Nature Songs and More Nature Songs. Music Unlimited, MP3
Experiment Songs.Music Unlimited, MP3
Energy and Motion Songs. Music Unlimited, MP3
Ballads for the Age of Science Boxed Set Includes all of the above songs! Music Unlimited, MP3, Audio CD
Galileo and the Stargazers by Jim Weiss. Includes stories about Archimedes, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo and Newton. Audio CD
If you have yet to try podcasts you need to start today! Its easy to either search on the Podcast app (Apple iOS) or use Stitcher, where you can “stitch” together different playlist episodes for super organization! I’ve included the links for both services throughout this post.
The age range suggestions are based on podcast reviews. You will need to make the final decision about what is appropriate or not.
BBC World Service: Discovery (high school). Love BBC. Their presentation and in depth coverage on topics that don’t always make the front news. Discovery podcast explores the world of science with coverage all around the world. Apple | Stitcher
Fun and Games
Professor Noggin Card Games
Math on the go
Count, Add, Subtract Fun with math, music and movement (PreK – 3rd) CD, MP3, Music Unlimited
Here Come the 123’s (ages 3-8). Audio CD, MP3, Music Unlimited
Multiplication Mountain (1st grade and up) CD, MP3, Music Unlimited
Schoolhouse Rock! Multiplication Rock (1st grade and up). Audio CD
fun and games
Extreme Dot to Dots like this one
Math Workbooks (We generally don’t use notebooks for school but kids like them when we are in the car. I keep one in my purse for times they have to wait)
Harry Potter Coloring Math Book: Multiplication and Division
History on the go
History is another easy subject to do in the car! There are so many great historical fictions and podcasts to listen to for short and long rides. Older kids can enjoy trivia games in the backseat and younger kids can do historical coloring books. You can all enjoy the stories though, even Mom!
Audio Books and CD’s
Story of the World. (K and up) Even if you don’t use this text for school, your kids can still enjoy the stories. Skip chapters with a biblical focus if you are a secular homeschool. Your library might have these! Audio Book on CD
The Story of Mankind (5th grade and up) Audible Audiobook, Audio CD
A Childs History of the World (4th grade and up) We have the print book and love it but secular homeschoolers will need to vet chapters first. Audible Audiobook, Audio CD
A Little History of The World (K and up)(Not Secular). Audible Audiobook, Audio CD
American History for the Ears and The Living Books for the Ears MEGA Collection from Homeschool Radio Show (K and up). We have this resourse and LOVE IT. There are hundreds of old radio stories that touch upon every subject in american history and biographies as well. Little by little I make playlist on my iphone depending on what we are studying. These resourses will last for years but I believe the Erskine family only releases these once a year or so. So head over to their website and subscribe so you can snag the next release!
Anything narrated by Jim Weiss (all ages) (All Audio CD)
Heros of History Series. (5 and up) There are a ton to choose from, pick what you are studying. Audible Audiobook, Audio CD
D’Aularies Book of Greek Myths (4 and up). Audible Audiobook, Audio CD
Horrible Histories Series (age 9+) Some on Audible and some on CDS
A Treasury of Civil War Songs by Tom Glazer. Audio CD, Music Unlimited
Montessori Music: History Tunes Audio CD
How Stuff Works: Stuff You Missed in History Class. (middle school and up) Over 300 history stories you have never heard. Really cool stuff! Apple | Stitcher
Revisionist History (high school and up). This podcast is from one of my favoite authors Malcolm Gladwell. Every week he takes a topic and asks “did we get it wrong?” This one is for older kids though! Apple | Stitcher
Fun and games
Professor Noggin Card Games (lots of history topics to choose from) (ages 7+)
BrainBox Trivia World History Card Game (ages 8+)
Classical Historian Go Fish Games (ages 3+)
Language Arts on the go
Spelling . Grammer . Literature . Phonics
Audio Books and CD’s
Free Audiobooks from your library, Librivox, Hoopla, Overdrive.
Subscription to Audible
Grammar Songs Audio CD, MP3, Music Unlimited
Here Come the ABC’s. Audio CD, MP3, Music Unlimited
Spelling Town Audio CD
Phonogram Circus Audio CD
Phonogram Zoo. Audio CD
Schoolhouse Rock: Grammar Rock. Audio CD
Grammar Rock. Audio CD, MP3, Music Unlimited
Jim Weiss Literature Retellings (lots and lots to choose from. I find mine used on eBay)
A Tale of Two Cities. Audio CD, MP3
Romeo and Juliet Audio CD
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Audio CD
Treasure Island. Audio CD
Sherlock Holmes for Children Audio CD
American Tall Tales. Audio CD
The Guardian Childrens Book Podcast (middle school and up). Young readers get to ask their favorite authors questions about their favorite books. Fun way for kids who love books to explore the stories behind the story. Apple | Stitcher
Story Pirates (ages 4-10). Stories submitted by kids are turned into sketch comedies with songs. The dialogue is performed as written, even if the grammar is incorrect (as unedited stories from 1st graders will be!). Apple | Stitcher.
Geography on the go
States and Capitals Songs. Music Unlimited, MP3, Audio CD
Geography Songs. Book and Audio CD
Songs for Kindergarten, An Introduction to Math and Geography MP3, Amazon Unlimited
Not specifically geography but many episodes have “geographical issues”. You may have to preen for relevent information. These podcasts are mainly for high schoolers.
80 Days, an Exporation. (high school). Part history, part geography, Each weekly episode is about the culture, pastimes, music, religion and people of a little know country, territory or city. Apple | Stitcher
BBC World Service: The Documentary (high school). Can you tell I love BBC? This particular podcasts focuses on investigating global developments issues and affairs. Tons of topics from every country in the world. Want your high schooler to listen to less sensationalized, negative news? BBC is the way to go. Apple | Stitcher
Fun and Games
Maps! Your city, county, state, topograpical and recreational maps of your area. Keep them handy in the backseat for your kids to peruse. The more detailed the map the better! We like one like this that shows recreational sites, backroads and campgrounds. A spiral bound road atlas is easy to hold in a childs seat.
Cling on 11 x 17 Travel Map for the backseat window. This is an awesome idea for longer road trips. Kids can put vinyl peel on/off stickers for each new state they visit.
Dry Erase License Plate Game (fits in the glovebox!)
Professor Noggin Card Games
Music on the Go
Music is my favorite subject to do in the car! Its such a natural extension since so much of it is auditory. I actually find music one of those subjects that I just can’t get done at home. But in the car, my kids have learned all the music and stories from several favorite ballets and operas as well as biographies of that composers life.
Maestro Classics for Kids (12 CD Set). Each of these CD’s are wonderful narrated stories about a famous orchestra piece. Our favorite is by far Peter and the Wolf. You can buy the very expensive box set or each CD individually as you go. (Audio CD, Some MP3’s)
The Bernstein Favorites Children’s Classics. LOVE BERNSTEIN! (Music Unlimited, Audio CD, MP3)
The Story of the Orchestra Book + CD The book is beautiful, but the CD is fantastic for homeschooling on the go. Narrated stories with accompanying musical pieces. Short enough that we can do one story on the way to the grocery store. (Audio CD with book)
A Childs Introduction to Ballet + CD. Like The Story of the Orchestra in that you have to buy the book to get the CD. The CD narrates over 15 famous ballets with their music. (Audio CD with book)
Beethoven’s Wig (4 Volumes) Currently our FAVORITE! I found volume 2 at a thrift store and loved it so much I bought all the others. The are silly songs about the composer or famous piece set to that music. Our favorite is Shuberts Trout on volume 2. Can’t stop singing it! (Audio CD, Music Unlimited, MP3s)
The Classical Kids Collection: Tales of enchantment and classical music. Pricey, but if you can find them used then snatch them up. Wonderful stories about different composers with their music woven throughout. (Audio CD)
Meet the Great Composers Book and CD. Homeschoolers are giving this book rave reviews! What I love is that there is a CD we can listen to in the car.
Linnea in Monets Garden. Follow Linnea as she travels to Paris with her neighbor and then visits Giverny. Sweet story that can be read, watched or listened to on Audible
Masters of the Renaissance by Jim Weiss. True stories about da Vinci, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Donatello and more! Audio CD
The Great Composers: NPR Unique stories exploring the human side of some of the most famous composers in history. Longer episodes are more suitable for the upper middle school/high school crowd. (middle school and up) Apple | Stitcher
Fun and Games
Dover Coloring Books. There are so many so pick the topics you are studying. From Art Masterpieces, Women Artist, Italian Renaissance, Monet, Van Gogh, Great Composers, Musical Instruments, etc. I like to make copies of the pages to dole out instead of giving my kids the book to color.
Note Speed Card Game. A fun card game that reinforces the learning of musical notes.
Classroom Music Games and Activities. Basically a lesson book for teachers BUT with a ton of worksheets and puzzles that can be copied and handed out to little music learners to complete.
WHEW!! You made it to the end!
So what do you think? What are your favorite homeschool on the go resourses? Share them in the comments! I would love to know!