Teaching My Baby To Read

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Get a jumpstart on carschooling

Adding some history to our lives.

Adding some culture to our lives.

If you’ve ever wanted to get started with carschooling, the Homeschool Buyers Co-op has a good deal going right now to get you going:  5 Jim Weiss CDs from Greathall Productions for $62.35 (including tax and shipping). That comes out to about $12.50 a CD.

(Of course, check with your local library too because you might be able to borrow them for free.)

Here is a complete list of all of the Jim Weiss CDs I’ve reviewed so far.

The following are titles I just purchased. I don’t know if they will be winners or not:

  • Rip Van Winklel and Gulliver’s Travels
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and The Story of Rome
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
  • Thomas Jefferson’s America

Turn Car Trips into Mini-Lessons

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As an educator, I believe in giving children free time to play around in the backyard, goof off, and generally be a kid. But let’s face it; time spent in the car is usually wasted time. Some people use extended car trips as an opportunity for their children to break out the DS. In our household, car time is used strategically and purposefully.

That’s because carschooling is one of the easiest ways to expand on your child’s education. You have a captive audience on your hands, so you might as well use that to your advantage!

Of course, none of our carschooling curriculum is meant to take the place of meaningful conversation, and we don’t listen to educational CDs every day. If I sense that either one of my kids would like to talk or has something they would like to share, of course I turn the CDs off at once.

But if you think about it, every time you ride in the car you are probably listening to some sort of background noise already, usually the radio. So instead of listening to Radio Disney, why not immerse your children in history, language and meaningful ideas instead?

Some of our favorite CDs:

First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind

The Story of the World Volume 1

The Story of the World Volume 2

The Story of the World Volume 3

Beethoven Lives Upstairs

Mr. Bach Comes to Call

Mozart’s Magic Fantasy Greek Myths

Sherlock Holmes for Children

Abraham Lincoln and the Heart of America

Fairytale Favorites in Story and Song

Picasso, That’s Who!

Greek Myths


Speak Spanish with Dora & Diego! Vamonos! Let’s Go!

Kindermusik CDs

Yellow is the Sun

No written reviews yet but also great:

Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery

One of the easiest ways to promote learning at home is through Carschooling. In the car you’ve got a captive audience, you’ve got time, and if you have library card, then you have access to a whole curriculum of CDs to choose from.

Some of my favorite educational CDs for children are the Classical Kids series: Beethoven Lives Upstairs, Mr. Bach Comes to Call, Mozart’s Magic Fantasy, and Tchaikovsky Discovers America. Right now we are listening to the newest addition to our collection, Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery.

This CD is by far the weakest of the entire series because the writing is so abysmal. “What a bunch of spaghetti heads” is actually uttered at one point! On the plus side, my kids are becoming extremely familiar with Vivaldi’s music, are learning a lot about the city of Venice, and now know as much as I do (which isn’t much) about the life and times of Antonio Vivaldi.

Vivaldi was a priest with red hair who was unable to lead Holy Mass because he had asthma. Instead, he taught at an orphanage in Venice called The Pieta, that had one of the most famous all-girl orchestras in the world. Much of Vivaldi’s music was composed for these orphans to perform.

What’s interesting to me is that at the same time we started listening to Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery I was also reading Adoption Nation by Adam Pertman, which describes the history of adoption and foster care in America. It broke my heart to read about kids who exit the foster care system at 18 being dumped into society with little to no safety net. My mom volunteers with the Orphan Foundation of America’s Foster Care to Success program, which provides mentoring, care packages and advice to these college aged kids.

I’m sure that the authors of Vivaldi’s Ring of Mystery made The Pieta orphanage sound a lot better than it really was, but I was really impressed that people 300 years ago figured out how to house, educate and care for abandoned girls in such a way that many would leave the orphanage as teenagers equipped with desirable job skills and training. That really makes me think that our current foster care system should be better.  We owe kids better.

Story of the World III

We are now on disc 8 out of the 9 disc audio version of Story of the World Volume III by Susan Wise Bauer.  Bruce(6.5) and I continue to love this series.  Jenna(2) alternates between yelling “No Story of the World!  Music CD!” from the back seat, or paradoxically, sometimes asking for it.  I’m not deluding myself into thinking my two year old has learned anything from thirty plus hours of listening to SOTW volumes 1-3, but I think it hasn’t hurt her language development at all to listen to speaking, stories, and big vocabulary words.

For his part, Bruce told me recently:

“Mom, I’ll tell you what history is about.  It’s about Christians fighting Muslims, Muslims fighting Christians, Catholics fighting Protestants, and Protestants fighting Catholics.  Every once in a while a real powerful guy comes along and builds up a great empire.  But then after a while the empire gets all messed up.”

I found this reflection to be both wise and poignant, especially since it was coming from my six year old.  This is not to say that I found SOTW III very dark or depressing, because it was not.  There were a lot of wonderful stories of historical heroes, heroines, brave explorers, and noble defenders. 

SOTW III is also the only book for children that I have been able to find that discusses John Locke specifically.  There is a good, five minute section about Locke and his theory that in a natural state all men are equal and have the right to pursue life, liberty and possessions.  I mention this because Bruce and I are currently plugging through my SLE Inspired Reading List Part 2, which by design, needed to include a child’s introduction to John Locke.

The theories created by John Locke of course flow straight into the creation of America, and so SOTW III also includes some early American history.  In fact, it goes into more detail about certain parts of American history than the AP US History text I had in 11th grade.  The history of Manhattan for example, was all new to me and very intriguing. 

In fact, I was shocked at how much history I learned from Volume III myself.  I had never studied the liberation of South America, nor the Mongol empire in India.  These are the hardest parts for me to learn, because I don’t have any tracks laid down in my brain from childhood for the information to stick to.  This won’t be a problem for Bruce or Jenna!