By Kathryn Brunner, Founder of Musik at Home, LLC
Please note this post contains referral links.
In my family, we love to keep music and audio stories playing whenever we can!
Right now, my girls are absolutely loving the soundtrack from the 2014 movie, Annie.
Their favorite way to listen to music is on our Echo Show. They know how to make it work!
One of them will say, "Alexa, play "It's a Hard Knock Life" from Annie." Out pops the deep bass, the stomping beat, and the captivating story behind the lyrics. It's super exciting for them because once they ask Alexa to play the song..."Voila!" It's dance party time! The music lights up our home with joy, laughter, dancing, and fun together time.
In addition to movie soundtracks, on any given day you'll find us asking Alexa to play all sorts of genres including classical, celtic, folk, gospel, kids songs, and so much more.
Our Echo Show was a gift from my parents last Christmas.
My mom found an incredible Black Friday deal on it at an Amazon store (they really do exist at Christmas time in the mall -- usually a kiosk!). She got one for my family, my brother's family, my sister's family and for her house.
Music is just one of the benefits of the Echo Show. There is a huge selection of music available to listen to with the basic Amazon Prime membership.
Another great feature of the Echo Show is video calling! Because everyone in my extended family now has an Echo show, my kids can do video calls with their cousins anytime. I also love doing video calls with my mom while I'm making dinner. It's a great time to ask her all my cooking questions while she's also making dinner in her own kitchen.
It's been an absolute joy to see something like the Echo Show bring our family together.
Every morning my girls get to do a video call with their daddy while he's at work.
Here they are on a call with Dad!
We have a little green light clock set to let them know when it's time to call daddy in the mornings. (We also use one of these green light clocks in the girls' room to give them the signal that it's ok to get up in the morning!).
It's the highlight of every morning for my girls to see their daddy at work and to experience part of his day with him. It's funny too because if we ever miss a day, it's my husband who seems to feel the loss more so than the girls. He loves his morning video calls as much if not more than they do. :-)
I heard about Prime day on accident this year.
I got an email from someone who mentioned it was coming. I've never taken advantage of it before because I don't do a lot of shopping in the summer, and don't really pay attention to deals on Amazon. However, when I heard about some of the things they are offering, I realized it was too good to miss this year!
To kick it off, Amazon has already knocked $100 off the price of an Echo Show for Prime Members.
There are a few downsides of the Echo Show.
The downside of the Alexa Show is that if you talk about "Alexa" without intending to give her a command, you might hear her say "I can't find that." She is activated the moment she hears her name. So, we have nicknamed her "Alex." When we talk about her offline we say something like, "Why don't you ask Alex?" This prevents Alexa from activating until the time we are ready to ask her the question.
We also have to teach our girls what they are allowed to do with Alexa and what they are not allowed to do. There are specific times of the day when we use it together. There are specific times of the day when it is off limits. They have learned that in order to keep their privilege of using Alexa, they must obey these rules. :-)
Another downside is that not all songs are available with basic Prime Music. In order to have access to any song that you want, Amazon offers Amazon Music Unlimited. We haven't tried it yet because we've felt we have enough choices with Prime Music. However, occasionally, we'll ask to hear a song that is not available, and we will wish we had it! I'm seriously considering jumping in on this Prime Day deal of 4 months of Amazon Unlimited Music for $0.99.
So, while there are downsides of the Echo Show, most of them can be easily remedied with some creativity or a membership to unlock more content.
We are big lovers of audio stories!
We are currently listening to "The Magician's Nephew" from the Chronicles of Narnia. We also recently finished "Pippi Longstocking."
Our favorite way to listen to audio stories is to check them out on CD from our local library. We listen to them in the car and the kids always ask to hear more.
We don't have a CD player in our kitchen where we spend most of our time, so we can't use our library audio stories there. There are many times I wish I had a way to play audio stories at the drop of a hat for the kids while I'm making breakfast or dinner.
Amazon Music Unlimited does not come with audio stories, which is another downside. Audio books are an entirely separate entity on Amazon.
With every downside, there is solution!
I recently found out about Amazon Freetime Unlimited. This is Amazon's space for putting all books, shows, educational apps, games and everything kid related into one curated place. It includes hundreds of ad-free radio stations and playlists. It comes with parental controls that they claim will give parents "peace of mind."
With parental controls in place, kids can safely ask Alexa to play a story, and she will be able to access it! The best part is that it's only $2.99/month after the free trial. I am seriously thinking about signing up for this during Prime Day as well!
Reading, vocabulary and listening skills are developed when children spend time with audio stories. In addition, the imagination can take flight! I would love to be able to use this feature on our Alexa Show!
What else does the Echo Show do?
Another reason I love the Echo Show is that it has helped me in homeschooling!
We ask Alexa all sorts of questions and get immediate answers.
"Alexa, what's the capital of Michigan?"
She replies immediately, "The capital of Michigan is Lansing."
We can also ask her to say all the capitals of the United States. She can list them all. The same is true for all of the Presidents in order. She can translate anything from English into Spanish, Chinese, or French! This has been helpful for teaching my girls Spanish vocab words all throughout the day!
Alexa also plays trivia games, including a game to name the capitals of world cities or just United States Capitals. She beats us most of the time. LOL!
Overall, we love listening to music and exploring all that the Echo Show can do. I highly recommend it!
I hope music and listening will make its way into your family time this summer.
Keeping our children's imaginative minds active makes all the difference in the world!
I'd love to hear from you! Comment below!
What is your favorite way to listen to music and stories with your kids?