Winter Survival Tip Four: Relax and Listen: audio stories for kids

I’ve been wanting to discuss audio resources on the blog for a while now. We listen to audio stories a lot in our house, especially over winter. I’ve been trying to reduce screen time lately, and I find audio stories a great alternative.

I was first motivated to look for audio stories for kids a few years ago, when my eldest son dropped his afternoon nap. Our second was still a young baby, and I really wanted that coveted “afternoon rest time” time in order for us ALL to have a rest! I know a lot of Mums reading this will be able to sympathise with me on that, right?!

Personally, I LOVED audio books as a child. We had those Disney audio books, where you read along and turn the page at the chime. Did anyone else love those?

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So I tried some CDs with books from the public library, but my son was just a bit too young to be able to turn the pages at the right time (he had only just turned two years old). And being totally honest, for me at the time the whole point of an audio story was so that I could have a break from sitting with him… I didn’t want to have to be there to turn the pages at the right time! I also hate to say this, but unfortunately I found it a bit hit or miss in regards to the quality of CDs from the public library. If they didn’t play properly, I just really could not deal with it. It would frustrate me to no end and I would just want to throw it out the window. Not a good look in front of the children. So, I obviously needed to find a different source for audio stories… one that would actually reliably work!

So my googling turned up Storynory.com, a website that has a plethora of audio stories loaded up onto it. WIN. I’ve been using it for the last few years, and have recommended it on many occasions to friends. It has many classic stories, including The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (our favourite). The great grey-green greasy Limpopo river (“The Elephant’s Child) has been read by Natasha from Storynory many a time in our house. The language used is these stories is very rich, and there’s many wonderful stories on Storynory. You can choose to use their app or their website. I play stories from their website through my phone.

However. Storynory are based in the U.K., therefore the stories are read with an English accent. I had always had it in the back of my mind to look up a New Zealand resource for audio stories, but somehow never managed to get around to it. So I was absolutely stoked when I found one on Instagram! Enter our new favourite audio stories:

Eardrops Audio CDs

These CDs have been developed by a NZ Mum (Liz) with a background in media. You can read more about her story and why she developed the CDs here. One of the things that I love about Liz is that she has created a product that is 100% truly helpful for parents of preschoolers. Her mission is to “keep finding ways to help preschool parents”. She’s a mum too, she has been there herself, and she wants to help us through those tough times. Cool huh!

On the CDs, “Eardrop” is a little rabbit who goes for journeys around the place – in the city, in the country, and around the home. Little Eardrop journeys along and listens to real sounds along the way. Here are some examples of how my boys have related to those real sounds since getting these CDs a few weeks ago:

  • Sounds of the City includes sounds of a tram, digger, jackhammer, playground and coffee making. These are all things we actually do in real life here in our city (Christchurch) on a trip into the CBD – watch the tram and the rebuild, go to the playground in town, and of course grab a coffee fluffy.
  • Sounds of the Country is a great CD for a road trip. When we played it in the car recently on a road trip, we were able to link what we were hearing with what we could spot out the window.
  • Sounds of the Home: in this CD, Eardrops is with his Nana in her home. Our boys took this CD to Nana’s on a sleepover and listened to it with her. How neat to be able to share that experience with their Nana! Eardrop is a helpful wee bunny and he helps his Nana with various household tasks, which I think is brilliant modelling for young children.

But wait, there’s more… these CDs aren’t just a listening experience. Clever Liz has included a little sheet with images that feature in the CDs, so that children can follow along. My boys have LOVED pointing out to me which sound they’re up to. I’m going to have to print and laminate a second set, so that they don’t end up fighting over them and ripping them!

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So, needless to say, Eardrops CDs were an absolute instant hit here. The boys request them when I ask what they want to listen to. I put them on when I need a bit of extra time to get things ready to head out the door, during afternoon tea, during cold rainy indoors days, and they’re especially helpful during that crazy 5pm dinner prep time.

Liz has had many testimonials from speech experts, early childhood teachers and parents about these CDs. I don’t have much more to add to all of the rave reviews. Mostly, I love them because they help keep ME sane. And we all know that happy Mum = happy kids, right?! I get to avoid any Mum-guilt that I might have for sitting the kids in front of the TV! They’re developing their imaginations, they’re developing the sustained attention skills that they will one day need to succeed in a formal learning environment, they’re developing visual scanning skills when they’re looking for the corresponding image in the booklet, and they’re developing their vocabulary.

I can think of many ways that these CDs could be gifted; perhaps for that “kid who’s got everything”, for a tired Mama who’s in need of a break, for a kid that travels a lot (there are downloads available rather than the CD), or for a child who’s just gotten a new younger sibling. Or just a handy thing to have in your parenting toolbox for a cold rainy day!

So there you have it, our favourite audio resources. Ones that are easily accessed at our fingertips. Do you listen to audio stories in your house? If you haven’t before, perhaps sit with your child and have a listen together for a few times to start off with. If they’re new to audio stories and only used to watching TV, they might find it a bit different to start off with. If you’re already an audio stories fan, which resource do you use? I’d love to know, please add your thoughts here on Facebook, or over on instagram.

 

*Liz sent me these CDs to review for the blog but the views I have are my own and I wouldn’t recommend them if I didn’t love them. Which I obviously do! 

 

 

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