Now What To Do On Christmas Break?

 

Whew, only 364 days until Christmas time again next year! Need a little recovery time? My kids love this story that they turned into a cute short film. Sit your kiddos down and watch the Gruffalo. (Click here if you cannot see the video below.)

Turning Cassette Tapes into Digital Audio

Do you have this problem? Are you still holding on to loads of cassette tapes even though your cassette player may be broken or even MIA? I know I have quite a few stashed in boxes in my garage waiting for me to find a new tape player. That was until I was recently enlightened by a friend that there is an easy and practically free fix. Go digital! With the use of a really inexpensive cord that you might already have, a working tape player and a computer, you can now listen to all those tapes on your computer, ipod or anything else that can play audio, and get rid of those tapes!

This is part of my tape collection I was recently given… a set of Children’s Books on Tape with the accompanying read along books. It is the same set that I used when I was little. I remember going to bed listening to these tapes and their stories and wanted to share them with my kiddos, but then the tape player had an unfortunate accident. So I was excited to do this project. It is SUPER easy to do, it is a quiet project (you are not listening to every tape being transferred) and it is cheap. A perfect project for any budget!

And the end result is some fun reading time for the kids (cough) a perfect distraction for a few minutes, if needed!

Now I just need to borrow my favorite music tapes from my mom’s tape stash, so I can listen to those during the day… Hello, Wilson Phillips! Why buy when you already have it?=-)

What You Need:

Directions:

**Despite the long steps this is a REALLY easy process.

Step 1: Locate  your own or borrow from a friend a Male to Male Stereo Cable. You can purchase a cord for less than $2, if needed, but most likely you have one and just don’t know it. I borrowed mine from a friend and discovered later that I had one of my own the whole time. These cables have the exact same end like this picture below and aim for around 6 ft long for convenience, if you are going to purchase it.

Cables Unlimited AUD-1100-06 6-Feet 3.5MM Male to Male Stereo Cable

Step 2: Make sure your cassette player is still friendly (won’t eat your tapes and still plays well) or borrow a working one from a friend or neighbor. Gather your tapes you would like to transfer to your computer, too, so you are all ready to go. It is a quick process once it starts rolling. Test the volume of your player with a tape in it. Adjust it so you have the right “texture” to the sound…some tape players when they get too loud get scratchy or static sounding. Once you find the right volume setting, you will be good to go for recording at that volume.

Step 3: Locate your audio software. If you don’t have your own on your computer, you can download a free and user friendly software called audacity.

Step 4: Now that you have all your supplies together you are ready to go. Take your stereo cord…

…and insert the ends into the headset jack on your cassette player and on your computer.

Step 5: Insert cassette tape into tape player and open your audio software. If your computer has a built in microphone, you will need to adjust it from it’s external mic to an internal mic (it’s a drop down menu on the main page with a microphone next to it. Easy fix!).

Step 6: Now the action. Push play on the cassette player and the record button on the audio software. You should be able to see the line moving up and down once the sound starts. Note: you will not be able to hear anything since the sound from the player is going to the headset jack to the computer, but know it is working fine if the line is moving on the recording.

Step 7: Now walk away and do whatever else you need to get done. Make sure to set a timer (or not) and come back later to stop it recording. I rarely had a recording last longer than 23 minutes a side. Sometimes I got side tracked a left it for over an hour, but that is okay because I just cut off the dead sound at the end and a little at the beginning (an easy highlight and press of the delete key).

Step 8:Once the recording is finished, click the “File” tab and click on “Export”. Give it a name and be sure to check “MP3″ (or whatever else you would like)  for your file type before saving. It will probably ask you for detailed info (Edit Metadata) for categorizing it on a new pop up and then click “OK”. Now you are done and can click “New” to start a new recording. Note: I did not separate every track, but saved each side of the tape. If you want to, it is possible but takes more editing.

Step 9: Now ENJOY! I know we are loving all our new stories to listen to!

***All these audio transfers were for our own personal use…just in case anybody is wondering! ;-)***


I am linking to these parties!

What’s On Your Computer?

I have been a clomplete slacker this past week! I have been all wrapped up in trying to make my summer plans (and to be honest, a bit too antzy to sit at the computer with our weather highs and lows) that I lost track of my 2 posts a week goal. I have been collecting stuff to post, so I will have to catch up!

Today I thought I would share a few programs/sites that we have been enjoying lately.
The First is Tux Paint  and it is FREE! If your child knows how to use a mouse then they will love this! It is great for any age that likes to doodle. My son will stay busy on it for at least 10 minutes and if I’m lucky 20. It has lots of tools that your child can use to create anything they would like.  Most of the time my sons pictures are a bunch of scribbles, but right now he discovered the Rubber Stamp Tool and is having a blast with all of its shapes.

They can also create fun like this
Or even this…probably for the more advanced hands!
The Best Part about this is that your child can’t click out of it by hitting the wrong key on the key board. You have to go to the “Quit” button on the right side of the Tool Bar. No more worrying about whether they are changing your desktop while you are trying to get dinner ready!
Second, is Preschool Pioneer.  You probably already know about this site, but just in case I will mention it. We just discovered this within the last week and my son, since he has learned how to master the mouse, loves to click around and explore all the sites. What this site does is link up all the other educational sites by categories (letters, numbers, me, watch, me, etc), as well as it gives parents resources, like activity calendars (I’m going to have to check that out!). It links to PBS and other sites. It saves me the time of having to go through all the sites and figuring out which games/activities will work for my kids. My daughter is still learning to navigate the mouse, but still has fun helping her brother. Check it out and let me know what you think!
Last, is SharpKeys. One of the most frustrating things for me is when my kids start hitting the keyboard and start opening screens and programs that I have never seen. Sometimes they even turn the computer off when I am in the middle of typing something. Ugh! My brother-in-law uploaded this program to my computer and I love it! It even helps for those times when the kids are playing a computer game and they keep missing the keyboard and hitting the windows key and stopping their game.
What Sharpkeys does is that it allows you change the reaction a certain key has or even turn the key off, so it has no response. My kids always hit the Windows key to the left of the space bar so, I turned that key’s response off. Problem solved!
Once you download the software and open it. All you will do is click on the “ADD” button on the bottom. Another box will open. Choose the key you want to change from the left column and choose the response you want it to have on the right side. Then click okay. (hmm…this is starting to sound like it would be a pretty good joke to pull on someone!)
I know there are other programs out there that have been recommended, but since I have not seen a recommendation from someone I know or a site that I am comfortable with, I will not try those other ones.
Warning: I recommend the program, but not his blog…it uses foul language and such, so don’t waste your time!
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