I’ve talked a lot here about my general state of panic ever since C stopped napping regularly. As you guys know, I do a lot of my blogging when the kids are sleeping. That means that if C is no longer going to nap in the afternoon, then he needs to be doing something else that’s independent of me (and if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time at all then you know that won’t be sitting in front of the TV).
My first attempt at tackling this conundrum came in the form of busy bags, which have been quite successful. But, as any experienced parent will tell you, when it comes to toddlers you can’t rest on your laurels. You must always be ready with another plan of attack when you initial offerings loose the shine that comes with being new.
Today I’m going to tell you all about my second idea: an audio library that I made for free using our own books. The thing I love most about this project is that I designed it so that, from start to finish, 3 year old C can operate everything completely on his own. The second best part is that I put it together using applications that are free and accessible to anyone: Blogger and YouTube. I know there are plenty of great audiobook apps available these days but what is so great about this idea (if I do say so myself) is that it allows kids to interact with books instead of a computer, which is my preference for little ones.
The only real requirements are that you have a camera and a way to attach audio to a photo. I used the free video software that came with my mac but you don’t need anything nearly that fancy. Although not required, a touch tablet like the iPad or even the iPhone is also helpful because it allows young children to operate everything without using a mouse.
Ready to learn how to build your own audio library? Click through for the step by step.
The first step is to gather up some of your child’s favorite stories. For the first batch I’d recommend mixing up some longer books (to get as much time out of the activity as possible) with some of his daily reads (to get him interested right away).
Pick your first book and take a picture of it. The next step is to figure out a way to attach the audio of you reading the book to the photo. I did this using iMovie on my mac. If anyone knows of other easy ways to do this please share in the comments!
Next go to YouTube and create an account. Once that’s done you’ll want to upload your videos.
UPDATE: SOME OF YOU HAVE WONDERED ABOUT COPYRIGHT LAWS. AT THIS STAGE, BE SURE TO MARK YOUR VIDEOS AS PRIVATE BY CLICKING ON THE “VIDEO MANAGER” BUTTON IN THE UPPER RIGHT CORNER.
YOU’LL THEN SEE A SCREEN LIKE THE ONE ABOVE, CLICK ON THE BLUE BOX TO THE RIGHT IN ORDER TO CHANGE THE SETTINGS FROM PUBLIC TO PRIVATE. YOU CAN SEE ABOVE THAT THE FIRST VIDEO NOW DISPLAYS A LOCK, THAT MEANS IT IS PRIVATE. THE ONE BELOW HAS NOT BEEN CHANGED YET AND SHOWS A GROUP OF HEADS, INDICATING IT IS STILL PUBLIC.
I AM NOT A LAWYER OR AN EXPERT IN COPYRIGHT BUT KEEPING BOTH YOUR VIDEOS AND BLOG PRIVATE IS AN ESSENTIAL FIRST STEP IN ENSURING THAT YOUR RECORDINGS ARE NOT DISTRIBUTED FOR USE BY OTHERS.
Keep uploading and eventually you’ll end up with an entire channel of audio books.
Next you’ll need to create a blog. I know this sounds like a big job if you’ve never done it before but I promise you, it’s simple. Go to Blogger and create an account. To set up your audio library blog follow these easy steps:
Click on the “New Blog” button in the upper left corner of the screen.
Choose a name and address for your new site and click on “Create Blog”.
Next, click on the drop down menu next to your newly setup blog and go to “Template”.
UPDATE: THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN ALSO MAKE YOUR NEW BLOG PRIVATE. IN THIS SAME DROP DOWN MENU, SELECT “SETTINGS”.
IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT CORNER OF THE NEXT SCREEN YOU CAN CHANGE “BLOG READERS” FROM “ANYBODY” TO “ONLY BLOG AUTHORS”.
In this screen go to the second to last option under “Dynamic Views” and click on “Apply To Blog”. Of course you can choose a different layout if you prefer but I like how this one puts a photo of each post side by side, making it easy for C to see his options and select whichever book he wants.
Once your template set, click on “New post”.
Return to your YouTube station, click on one of your recordings, and hit the “Share” button.
Once you see this screen, click on “Embed”. Next copy all of the code in blue.
Return to your new blog post and click on “HTML”. Paste the code here.
Enter a post title (I use the book title), then click on the orange “Publish” button.
Click on the “View Blog” button and you’ve got your first audio book in your collection all ready to go.
I know that seemed like a lot of steps but once you do it a few times you’ll totally have it down. The last step is to create a one-touch way for your child to access your audio library blog. This will differ based on the device you use.
For the iPad, simply got to the address of your new site, click on the last icon in the upper left corner and select “Add to Home Screen”.
An icon similar to the one above will then appear on your desktop.
All that’s left to do is to teach your kids how to use it. Once they have their books nearby, they simply have to press the desktop icon, press the book they want to read, and press once more.
It took C all of 3 minutes to get the hang of it. He loves it and so do I! It’s no sweat adding more books as we go and I’ve gotten quite a few blog posts written while he sits contently on the bed next to me reading along to his favorite books with a set of head phones. (It’s especially cool that it’s me reading to him.)
What do you guys think? Will you try this or does it look too complicated (it’s not, I swear!). I’m sure there are tons of other ways to do this, probably many that are even easier, using other application such as iTunes. If you have ideas let me know in the comments.
P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and connect with your family?
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