In my ongoing series of articles about great podcasts, I’d like to take a moment and write about Ungeniused. This twice-monthly podcast is pretty short in length, about 12-15 minutes per episode and is all about the weirdest articles found on Wikipedia. It is hosted by Stephen Hackett and Myke Hurley, the co-founders of Relay FM, which is one of my favorite podcast networks with numerous great shows.
Ungeniused is a great show for those that like odd and strange bits of information and the hosts work wonderfully together. They are clearly good friends off-air and this shows through in their easy banter. Each episode focuses on one article that they choose beforehand and then they simply talk about the things that they find interesting about it. It is very easy to listen to, is quite family friendly in my experience and I think kids 10 and up would find it quite engaging. It would be a great fit for driving in the car or even to break up a homeschooling day with the kids.
One of my favorite episodes that they’ve done is Episode #30 Bat-Bombs, Pigeon-Guided Missiles & More. This episode was about various military projects during World War 2 and how they turned out. It was quite interesting but also very strange that these projects almost took flight (pun intended). I heartily recommend the show and feel it would add something new and delightful to your day.
Let’s jump in the DeLorean and go back in time. Back to the days of those great old-timey radio shows like the Shadow, Suspense and Superman. I can imagine my parents and grandparents huddling around the family radio, enjoying the weekly broadcasts. These shows used voice actors, great sound effects and music to create movies for the ears. They were immensely popular and were a great, creative way that the technology of the time was used to entertain audiences around the country.
When television began to replace radio as the preferred way of getting entertainment in the home, these radio shows and dramas went the way of the dodo. Now, I am happy to report, audio dramas are making a huge comeback in the form of podcasts and full cast audiobook recordings. I have introduced my kids to some of the more “family-friendly” offerings and they are hooked. One such show is the one I am going to talk about today. It is a podcast called The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel and all of us, from mom and dad to the four year old, love it.
There are currently two full seasons of shows, each consisting of about ten main episodes and some additional extra episodes that help flesh out the story. Title character Mars Patel and a group of friends are middle-school aged kids working to solve a mystery. I won’t say more than that because I don’t want to spoil anything. The story is a bit science fiction and a bit suspense thriller and it all comes together in a crazy, haywire mashup that causes begging for more after each episode. Along with a full cast of voice actors, the show features amazing sound effects and music that hit all the right notes for the listener.
One of the coolest things about the show is that all the characters that are kids are cast by voice actors that are also kids. This adds authenticity to the show and made it all that more appealing. One other thing that I heard just this past week is that the show has been optioned for a TV show so we may get to see these characters that came to life in our ears, on a TV one day soon. That has to be an unusual occurrence in the world of podcast entertainment. We cannot wait for Season 3 to come along but the good thing is, I have found other great audio dramas to listen to while we wait. Give it a listen as you can find it on iTunes or on your podcast listening app of choice.
I work alone most of the time. You see, we are the only employees of our small business and the type of work that we do is pretty solitary in nature . As a result, I listen to a lot of audio content to keep my brain active and to keep from feeling quite so alone. Whether it be audiobooks or podcasts, there is almost always something playing in my ears. Today I would like to highlight another of my favorite podcasts that also happens to be great for homeschool moms and dads.
It is called the Read Aloud Revival podcast and it is hosted by the wonderfully talented Sarah Mackenzie. She is a homeschooling mother of six kids who has a genuine passion for reading books aloud to her kids and making books a huge part of your family’s culture. She is also an author herself of the book Teaching From Rest and blogs regularly at Amongst Lovely Things. I have no idea how I stumbled across her podcast but I am so glad that I did. I have always loved to read and I strongly desire to help our kids develop a love of their own for books. This podcast, along with her blog, has inspired me to be much more intentional about reading out loud and to fill more of the “empty” time in the day with beautifully written books.
On the podcast, Sarah often interviews great guests with strong ties to books and literature. Some are authors of children’s books while others are experts in various aspects of education or homeschooling. Each episode is full of great books to read out loud along with ideas for how to make reading and the culture of reading a reality in your homes. Some of her great guests include Andrew Pudewa from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, S.D. Smith who is the author of the fantastic book The Green Ember and Julie Bogart from Brave Writer.
In addition to the podcast, Sarah and her team have developed a membership site that adds a ton more content. This includes video Master Classes on a variety of subjects like creating book clubs and homeschooling the early years along with Author Events with prominent children’s book authors. All in all, the Read Aloud Revival has really grown into a major force in this area and it definitely fills a need for this homeschooling family. I couldn’t recommend it enough and it is always on my short list of podcasts that I recommend to others.
I love learning new stuff. Not just in a “man, learning is neat” kind of way but in a “gimme, gimme, gimme all the things to learn” kind of way. But this is not just a selfish kind of desire for knowledge, it also has to do with how we school our kids. We want our kids to always be learning and the best way to do this, is to show them that you are always learning yourself. One of the ways I do this, is by listening to great podcasts like Stuff You Should Know. The title kind of says it all although if it were completely accurate, the title maybe could be “Stuff That is Cool to Know But is Not Entirely Useful to Know.”
Stuff You Should Know or SYSK is a podcast from the folks behind the excellent HowStuffWorks.com and generally chooses one subject and digs deeply into it. Besides the content, my favorite thing about the podcast are the hosts, Chuck and Josh. They come into each show very well prepared with a wide variety of information about the given subject and they play off of each other very well. They are entertaining, humorous and seem genuinely interested in the material that they are presenting. This makes it easier for us as listeners to come along for the ride.
Some of my favorite recent episodes include “Polar Bears” (did you know that their fur is translucent?), “How Food Tasters Work” (not a fun sounding job at all) and “Jellyfish, Cooler than Octopi?” (jellyfish can kill an adult human, what the…????). If those don’t sound interesting, they have more than 100 other episodes to choose from and new ones are released regularly.
So, if you want to keep recharging that brain of yours, the Stuff You Should Know podcast is a great place to start. It will make you a better teacher for your kids and you just might learn something that will save your life. WATCH OUT FOR THAT KILLER JELLYFISH!
As grown-ups and especially as grown-up parents, it is easy to get caught up in the business of being the adults. You know, working the job, maintaining the house, feeding the various little humans in your life, the paying of the bills, and so on and so forth. As a side point, sometimes being adults is zero fun. Anyways, in all of this doing of things and handling of stuff, we often neglect growing our own brains. We, as homeschool families are so focused on teaching our kids and creating an environment conducive to learning and yet we don’t do the same for ourselves.
Here is where podcasts come in for me. I listen to at least 10 different podcasts on a regular basis. These podcasts are generally educational to me in some way and help to recharge my brain I then can pass that on to my kids as one of their teachers. I also annoy my wife with various bits of trivia and minutiae about hypnosis, polar bears, drones or Spanx (that’s all just from this past week of listening). I tend to listen to podcasts while working at my desk, while doing chores around the house or while on a walk or at the gym. Most are short enough to be able to finish episodes in 20 minutes or less and can even be easily consumed while driving from place to place in the car. I use my phone as my primary device for listening to podcasts using a great app called PocketCasts and a pair of earbuds.
I am going to write a series of posts recommending some podcasts that I find interesting, entertaining and useful for growing our brains. I’m looking forward to sharing the love that I have for podcasts and hope that these posts serve to be useful to others.