My husband hooked up a nifty free software called Audacity that I can now use to easily record and manage my recordings onto my computer. I lock myself in our office for a few minutes here and there and read a chapter at a time and save it as such. This is a long term project, but every chapter recorded is time saved down the road. And, with five kids going through the same books, some of these will be used many times over. I don't want to read every book this way, as I do still want my kids to do quite a bit of their own reading, but this method enables them to keep their schedule fresh. Of course, for the younger kids I read all of their books to them, so this is a wonderful way to let them hear and rehear some of those stories independently.
This got me to thinking about other uses for recording in our homeschool context. I have just started reading First Language Lessons (an easy to use book that I highly recommend) with my younger ones. I know this is designed for first and second graders, but I find even at a much younger age they can memorize definitions and poems, and learn some of the steps of narration and observation. We will most likely do a couple lessons a week out of this book and so far they have enjoyed this simple addition to our preschool time.
Throughout these lessons they need to memorize. Yesterday we talked about the definition of a noun, today we read a poem. Memorization requires repetition. Again, I don't always have time to repeat this poem three times each at three different times throughout the day (although if I have it memorized already we can say it while cooking or cleaning or whatever). However, if I record it the first time, then they love to play it and replay it. I have really hit on something here! So, we recorded the noun definition together, the Caterpillar poem, a story, and the fruit of the Spirit song we are learning also. Mid afternoon and they already have almost of it memorized, and are having a blast doing so.
I picked up the tape player at a garage sale for a dollar a while back and we get tapes to record over for twenty-five to fifty cents at Goodwill or garage sales. A very frugal school supply, and a great enhancement to their learning.
I have wanted to use this for other projects for a long time, I think I finally got my start. Bed time stories, songs, Scripture memory, daily review, even little messages reminding them how much I love them! Obviously, this doesn't replace our time together, but merely enhances it and carries its influence and imprint even further.