July 8, 2014

Tech Tuesday featuring iPod Listening Centers

What do you use for a listening center in your classroom? 

Do you still use cassettes?

Do you use CDs? Or do you use an iPod?
We have talked about changing our listening center over from CDs to iPods for quite awhile. As much as we wanted the iPods, we realized what an investment it would be to buy them and then do you trust 5 year olds with a brand new iPod? However, one thing we realized when using cassettes (even CDs) is that the children just didn't know how to use the listening center independently. We had very explicit directions in the center with pictures and everything, but it never failed, the children always needed help. So it was time to join the modern world and jump into the iPods. Surprisingly, the children know how to use them very well!

We asked for donations of old iPods or iPhones from parents of our students, both current and previous. We didn't get too many, but enough to get started with our new "cool" listening center. 

Then we started asking all of our fellow teachers if they had any books on CD that we could borrow. We were actually overwhelmed by how many CDs people had. We now have a very impressive play list of picture books on our iPods, but not all the books to go with them!

Now that we had the CDs, it was time to get them all uploaded into iTunes. Do you know how to import CDs into your iTunes library? It is actually very easy! First, insert the CD into your computer's CD or DVD drive.

A window will pop up asking if you want to import the contents of the CD into your iTunes library.
Click "yes" if you want to import all of the tracks.
Click "no" if you want to see the tracks available and only select one of them from the list that appears. (Just right click to import that track from the list.)

(Tip: Many children's books on CD come with TPS tracks or "Turn Page Signals" and these are the tracks we like best because the beep or chime to turn the page keeps them on track with the reader.)

As they are imported into your iTunes library, you can right-click the track and select "Get Info."

You can then add the title, author, album name, a grouping to sort them in a specific way, and so on.

You can even import album artwork to make it easier for primary-age students to know if they have found the right book on their device! 

If you want to organize your titles in a specific way, you can head to the bottom left corner of the program and click the "+" sign, shown below.

Select "New Playlist."

We decided to group our playlist by month to switch out the books in the center each month. It would also be convenient to group them by learning theme to keep the books on topic. There are tons of ways you could organize your titles! 

 Finally, drag each playlist you want your children to access over the top of the device you have plugged in so it can sync!

Voila! You are finished!
You can charge up your devices at the end of the week or leave them plugged in at the center when the children clean up.

When they turn on the iPod, our students know that the books are found in the single "music" folder at the bottom. All of the other apps or utilities we moved to the second screen to make navigation easy for the children!

Below, you can see a child selecting a classroom favorite, Pete the Cat!
It is an "October" book since we have a colors learning theme in October. We added the month number before it to correspond with the date they're used to writing on their papers.

Then, she is able to read along with the book without any problem!

A huge bonus to these iPod listening centers is that they are mobile! The children don't have to carry a huge tape player with them or stay in one place. They can cozy up in a quiet corner or use it at the desk or table.

A learning curve? Of course! But there are always those "techie kids" who have used an iPod at home (or who learn very quickly) and the others will catch on! Some may even be able to help YOU if there is a question!

We hope you're inspired to upgrade your listening center sometime soon!
The children are extremely motivated by these devices and love to listen to stories in this new and "cool" way!


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I received two ipods through a donors choose grant! Can't wait to set up this area!

  2. Donors Choose is a great way to acquire iPods for your listening center! Glad this tutorial will be helpful to you, Cindy! We hope your children love your new technology!

  3. This is such an awesome, informative post! Listening centers on the iPods are definitely more exciting for little ones than a tape cassette! Thanks so much for linking up with us!!
    Aylin :)
    Learning to the Core

    1. Thank you so much for checking out our blog post. The children LOVE the listening center now more than ever. We wish we had more iPods in our classrooms!

  4. Great idea! I am moving down from 4th to 2nd and was just thinking about how I'll be doing my listening centers. Thanks for linking up.:)

    iTeach 1:1

    1. We really think you will like it so much better! It takes up less space and the children pretty much know how to use them already! :)

  5. Wow! You know, I'm not "that old" but haven't thought of using Ipods as a listening center! I will definitely be asking for donations for this! Thanks for sharing this idea :)

    1. You will not be sorry if you change over. We have been talking about doing for a couple of years now and just finally jumped in feet first this year and we love it!!

  6. Thanks so much for this motivating and informative post I've been grappling for a few years with the logistics and now may be ready to just do it!

  7. Thanks for explaining how to get the CDs onto the iPods. Great idea!

  8. Great post! I wrote a grant asking for iPods for a listening center this year. I find out in August if it's been approved- fingers crossed!!! I love how you organized your books monthly- that's a great idea!

    Short and Sassy Teacher

  9. Love that students are still using books and listening to the tech side at the same time. I know I had so many students who preferred digital books as opposed to traditional, but I am still a fan of paper books. Mobility and being comfortable is huge!

    Teaching In Stride

  10. Great ideas! I've always wanted to use iPods in my classroom as a listening center, but I need the funding! :) Thanks for the tips!

  11. Would these directions work the same for an ipad?? I have soooo much to learn!!! LOL

    1. Hey there! We are pretty sure it would work exactly the same way as they are both apple products that pretty much work the same way. If we find out any differently we will let you know!

  12. How do you organize your books? Do you just have the books for that month in a basket? Thanks!


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