Sunday, July 24, 2011

Musical carschooling-the primary grades

As a homeschool music mom who has a child who seems to thrive on activities, sometimes it seems like we're never home to have school! One way I supplement this is via using audio recordings in the car. For this list, I'm focusing on curriculum supplements, although a few could be used as your primary curriculum source for a young child.

Here are some of my favorite places to find  these.

Discovery Education-If you have a subscription, make sure you check there first. There's a big library of audio/songs available, including most of Twin Sisters, Music for Mar, Lodge McCannon, Teacher and the Rockbots, Audio books, speeches, and more. It's a little annoying in that you can only download one song/track at a time, not whole albums, but if you're already paying for the subscription, why not use it?, there are lots of audio download sites out there. The reason I like Napster is, to be blunt, I usually get to download from there for free. If you have coke addicts in your life who are willing to save you the rewards codes, these can be traded for audio downloads. Just put in what you're studying, listen to samples, and decide what you want to get. 

Big Lots-Twin Sisters CD sets often appear here, for far less than in teaching stores.

Scholastic $1 sales. While most of these are .pdf files, a few have audio files available as well, and it's hard to beat a $1 audio album, even if only one or two songs are immediately useful to you.

Now, here are some favorites-please note, these are picked for educational value and ones that my daughter enjoyed. In most cases, they're not the best singing models for children. Most children's artists sing in a lower pitch than is ideal for children, and many use a folk music type style, which isn't the more pure tones used in teaching vocal music. If you don't like the sound of a CD, by all means, sing the songs yourself-acapella singing with children is wonderful to do, and most of these are very simple.

There are lots of math facts CDs out there. They're nice for reinforcing already learned concepts. Here are some that I've used/own.

Schoolhouse Rock Multiplication Rock-Nostalgia anyone? This is probably my favorite math CD :).

Twin Sisters-addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Not my favorite, but my daughter enjoys the songs with breaks in them to yell out the answers.

Teacher and the Rockbots-a little "harder", more contemporary than I like, but it's fun to watch my daughter and her friends trying to hip-hop dance to multiplication tables or measurement concepts.

Rock and Learn-Have a musical style your child likes? Chances are good they have a CD with the same set of words, but a different musical style for each, whether it's rap, pop, rock, country, or so on Again, these aren't my favorites, but some people love them.

Google Power Crazy 4 Math-Nice "history of Math" focus with a combination of stories and songs. I used this in combination with history.

Language Arts-

Twin Sisters-see above-mostly for Phonics and early learning

Handwriting Without Tears-Rock, Rap, Tap and Learn. Where do you start your letters? AT THE TOP! My daughter LOVED this CD, and at one point I had three little girls in the playroom, happily bouncing along with pom-poms.

Shurley English Jingle Time-I don't use Shurley as my primary LA curriculum, but the Jingles/songs are a nice addition to any grammar curriculum. My daughter also liked the coloring/activity book that is available to go with the Jingles.

Audio Memory-Grammar Songs. These haven't caught on as well as the Shurley ones, maybe because they're a little longer.

Schoolhouse Rock-Grammar Rock-Conjunction Junction...what's not to love?

Lyrical Science-We've only done Lyrical Life Science here so far, but it's been a real hit. I'm looking forward to enjoying the other CDs.

AIMS Singing Songs of Science-Very cute and fun-although I wonder how much you really need a song about mealworms?

Twin Sisters-at least one CD for most science disciplines, plus a bunch about specific topics.

Sing and Learn with The Weather Dude-a meterologist/musician has fun singing songs about his favorite subject-weather!

Science on the Wild Side-A little "harder" than Twin sisters, with a lot of fun topics, but not necessarily ones that fit in well with a specific curriculum study in the way the Lyrical Life Science does. The Slug Slide was a favorite around here.

Schoolhouse Rock Science Rock-some of these haven't aged as well as grammar and multiplication, but they're still fun.

Teacher and the Rockbots-again, a little "harder" than some, but worth checking out if you have discovery education or slightly older kiddos who like that style of music.


 Tunes that Teach History-songs about single topics, tend to be a little on the humorous side and possibly a little less serious-but also often have sparked discussions.

Audio Memory History Songs-Nice for US history timeline memorization

History Rocks-Kind of the "Teacher and the Rockbots" version of history, although it's by "Professor Presley".

Schoolhouse Rock-History Rock-US history 

Veritas Press-I'm not terribly fond of their timeline CDs-I like the Audio Memory ones better, but they are better aligned with the cards.

Audio Memory Geography Songs- These were very enjoyable, however some parts of them do not match current maps.

Twin sisters-lots of things for US states/capitals/geography/facts

Classroom Pop vol 1-Lamar Holley-This one has a mix of geography, world history and a little bit of science. I kind of wish he'd make another album, because this has been great for finding very quick little memory pieces to match curriculum areas.

Animaniacs-I LOVE the US states/capitals and the Yakko's World one, both on video and audio.

Song School Spanish and Song School Greek-My daughter enjoyed both of these, and it gave her the confidence to tackle the languages more seriously. They're not everyone's cup of tea as far as the recordings go-these were mostly "listen once, then sing ourselves" CDs around here.

Hop, Jump and Sing Spanish-Ana Lomba. I love this album. It's little, short activities, mostly from Latin American countries, that are children's games/songs. Directions are on a separate track from the audio, so I put just the audio in Spanish on our car-schooling playlists, and left the instructions for when we could actually do the activities. Play and Learn Spanish is by the same author, and has a book to match with the CD, but is less movement-oriented.

Bilingual Songs English/Spanish-This is the closest to Song School Latin for Spanish that I've found, moving more into rules and grammar as you get into higher levels. Sara Jordan has a lot of other educational recordings as well-but I haven't used them all yet.

Twin Sisters-there is a CD for most modern languages available, with the same basic vocabulary (animals, body parts, members of the family and the like). My language-loving kid was thrilled when she found these on Discovery Education, because then she could learn the same words in Spanish, French, Italian, and German.

Whew! I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot, so please add your favorites, too!



  1. Dear Nancy,
    Thank you for mentioning our Bilingual English-Spanish CDs in your blog. It's nice to see reviews done by a truly musical person. I totally understand your comments re: some commercial albums not having a vocal range appropriate for children. Over the last few years we have tried to have the melodies of all of our songs within the "Middle C to third space C" range.

    Nancy.... I was wondering if you would mind mentioning the free "7 Day Trial Subscription" to our onLine learning site: ?

    We offer hundreds of songs streaming, with each word highlighted, making it easy for kids to read and sing along. Online interactive games, will soon be introduced, reviewing the curriculum taught in each song. Thanks again. Your blog is really informative and an interesting read.

  2. An Update-apparently, while I prefer auditory memory, my DD latched on to Veritas Press :)-extremely successful around here!