Monday, July 28, 2014

Resources on Landforms

Are You Looking for Resources on Landforms?

Our newly updated resources page on landforms consists of twelve carefully selected web sites, which include videos from WatchKnowLearn, interactive lessons, definitions, pictures, maps of world locations, quizzes, anagrams, a PowerPoint presentation, a slide show, songs about Landforms, and even a game called Landform Detective.  As you know, information about landforms is difficult to find in one place.  Hopefully, this will help with your class objectives on landforms.

Announcing Infotrek!

We are announcing the grand unveiling of our new web site/search engine designed for high school students.

Check out our animated video below!

Students can search the main categories, which include the following:
·      Science, Technology and Math
·      Biographies
·      Arts and Recreation
·      Literature and Language Arts
·      Social Studies, Geography, and History
·      Quotations
·      Health, Nutrition, Medicine and Disease
·      Images, Audio and Video Clips
·      Languages 
The power of Infotrek is the search engine:
1)    Students can type in their own keywords and high school level results will be displayed.
2)    Students can click on a topic such as “Earth Science” and an extensive list of earth science topics will be displayed.  Then, the student would click on a specific topic and it is entered automatically in the search box. 
As always, Infotrek and our other sites only access resources that have been recommended by teachers and librarians and reviewed by us.
Send us your feedback!

Powtoon-Easily Make Fantastic Animated Videos!

Have you or your students tried PowToon yet?  It is easy to use and the results are quite professional looking. You can easily animate a presentation (with audio) for free using Powtoon, and then upload it to YouTube or download to your computer. It is quite intuitive and doesn’t require professional skills to use.  There are one-minute online tutorials that teach you how to use it! (It’s that easy!)

Here's a video that I made in just a few minutes.

Free eBooks for Children

Looking for some FREE eBooks or online audiobooks for young children?   We have evaluated hundreds of web sites and made our recommendations here.  Many are downloadable to your Kindle, Nook, etc.  Others are available only online. It’s never too late to get children captivated by reading, which can turn into a lifelong habit.

Our Blog

Our blog can now be found at   
Recent Posts include: 
  • How to Find Free eBooks and Audiobooks 
  • How to Borrow Free eBooks and Audiobooks
  • Free Children’s eBooks, Online Books, and Audiobooks
  • Google Search Operators vs. Boolean Searching
  • Summer Reading Ideas

Presentations for Students:
  • How and Why to Cite Your Resources
  • It’s a Jungle Out There (How to Distinguish Good from Bad Web Sites)
Sign up and you will receive updates via email.
(Fill in “Subscribe/Connect” or click the “Contact Us Here” button at the top left.) (Or click the link here.)

We have also posted our presentations for students, teachers, and librarians on YouTube.  We will be creating more videos each week.  You can find us at:

Also, please suggest topics and presentation ideas by sending us an email (

Help! We Need Your Input!

Help! We are working on a number of new resource pages and we need to know if your schools/school districts allow students to access embedded videos from YouTube or Vimeo on a web site.  Could you complete this brief (one question) survey for us? Thanks in advance for your help!  Just click on the link below.

August 2014 Events

August Events

National Inventors’ Month

Get Ready for Kindergarten Month

All August Events

Monday, July 21, 2014

 Have you ever heard of the Wayback Machine?  It's "almost" like the time travel machine from H.G. Wells' book, The Time Machine.  

Sorry, but you can't really take yourself back (or forwards) to the days of the Morlocks.  However, you or your students can go back in time and look at thousands of web sites from their earliest days.  

Just type in any web site's URL in the Wayback Machine and then click "Browse History."  Next, you will get a series of calendars showing all the dates that are available.  At the top is a listing of the years, and below are calendars showing the dates (in blue) that you can visit.

How might you use the Wayback Machine?
1) Go back and visit your own web site or blog from several years ago and see how it has changed.  Or have your students try to find one of their favorite web sites from the past. 
(We went back in time and saw the early renditions of from 2009, and our first web site, the from 2000. How quickly time flies!) 
(You might even go back to your school/school district web site and see how much it has changed. I was able to go back ten years in the past and browse through my school district's web site!)

2)If you have a web site or blog and you have accidentally erased an important article, go back in time via the Wayback Machine and find your article.  (Cross your fingers that it is available.) 

3) Have your students read the top current events on a major news web site for today, such as  CNN, ABC, or NBC, etc.   Then go back to that same date for the past several years via the Wayback Machine. 
  • How has the design of the web site changed?
  • Compare the headlines from several dates in the past.
  • How has the focus of the news changed?
  • Compare the amount of text versus graphics in the web sites.
  • What countries are in the news?
  • What celebrities are in the news?
  • What is most startling about the old versus the new web sites?
  • Send us your ideas below under Comments and we'll include them in the list.
The Wayback Machine, which has archived over 417 billion web pages, is part of the Internet Archive, a non-profit endeavor that has the goal of building a digital library of Internet sites, audio files, digital books, television news programs and more. 

Stay Tuned......Next Article............Video and Live Music from the Internet Archive

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Part III--How to Find FREE Children's eBooks, Online Books and Audiobooks

If you have been following my recent posts about how to find free eBooks and how to borrow eBooks, now it's time to specifically address books for children.  

The Public Library
The first place to check is your local public library.  All of these resources are FREE because the library is subscribing to them for your children!  My local library has some wonderful resources that are free.  It's definitely worth a visit to the Children's Department of your public library.  You'll probably just need your library card number to access these resources.  Ask them about the following:   
1. online collection of animated talking picture books, and includes storybooks, chapter books, videos, puzzles and games, language learning, non-fiction, and more. (PreK-Grade 4) 
2. Biblioteca TumbleBooks (in Spanish) (PreK-Grade 4) These are same as the above, except in Spanish. 
3. Audio Book Cloud (Select the link for  Children)--Free online audiobooks that will play on your tablet or computer. (Grade levels vary) (Internet access is required; the audiobooks do not download to your device.)
4. Bookflix--A delightful offering from Scholastic, it pairs a video storybook with a non-fiction online book.  Your child can choose to have the book read aloud or not. The topics include the following: Animals and Nature, Earth and Sky, People and Places, ABC’s and 1,2,3’s, Family and Community, Music and Rhyme, Adventure, Celebrations, and Imagination. (PreK-Grade 3)
5. Overdrive--From my last post on how to borrow eBooks, it is still worth mentioning again that many school libraries and public libraries have FREE eBooks and audiobooks specifically for children, ranging from titles for the very young to Young Adult books and audiobooks.  These eBooks and audiobooks download to your device, so you can read/listen to them without Internet access later.  Be sure to check with your school or public librarian to find out how to access these.

Other Recommendations for Children
After checking out hundreds of web sites with free eBooks and audiobooks for children, these are my recommendations. Most of these are recommended for young children.  
With video, animation, and lots of fun, Starfall is a great web site for beginning readers. Its topics range from ABC's, Learn to Read, It's Fun to Read, and I'm Reading.
YouTube Audiobooks for Children
There are over 100,000 children's audiobooks on YouTube.  
Online Talking Stories
These interactive stories from the United Kingdom are resources for primary school children.
Internet Archive for Children 
The Internet Archive links to free Children's Books. Scroll down to browse by author, title, see the most popular downloads, and staff recommendations.  Once you select a title, on the left you will see “read online”, PDF, B/W PDF, ePub, Kindle, Daisy, Full Text or DjVu.  Select your preference and download the book to your eReader.
Barnes and Noble has 20 free video readings of books.  Just click on the title and scroll all the way to the bottom to find the free video. (Scroll past the pricing for buying the book.)
Librivox Children’s Audio Books for listening to online or downloading.  These are free audiobooks read by people, not computer voices.
BooksShouldBeFree links to more than 1,000 public domain audiobooks for children, although a few of the titles are more appropriate for young adults.  Browse through the titles and select a book.  It can be downloaded as a ePub (for Nook, iBooks for iPad or iPhone, or Sony reader), Kindle, as a Text file for a computer, or it can be read online.  You can also download many titles as MP3, iTunes podcasts, iPod/iPhone M4b audiobook, or as an RSS feed from your RSS reader.
Lit2Go Fairy Tales and Folktales
Lit2Go includes free audiobooks, stories, and poems in mp3 format and can be downloaded to iTunes or played directly on your computer or tablet.  All their books are read by humans.
Search Lit2Go by reading level here—1, 2, 3, etc. 
Online Audio Stories links to a number of free brief readings of stories for primary age children. It also includes the text of many other titles for reading to your child.
The International Children's Digital Library allows the reader to choose the type of book he/she wants to read. Books are available in dozens of languages.  If you prefer English, be sure to select it.  These are the actual pages of the books and the reader must flip the pages as he/she reads.
These are Wacky Web Tales that your child creates. Your child fills in the blanks that are requested and a story appears with his/her input. He/she may need assistance with filling in the blanks, as it asks for "adjectives" or "nouns," for example.
From the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, students have been illustrating Aesop's fables.  Many include animation and some include sound as well. 
These audio stories include historical figures as well as Bible characters.  The stories are read by people, not computers.
Bedtime Stories and Fairy Tales
These are simply bedtime stories and fairy tales in PDF format for downloading. They do not include audio.
Silly Books has nine stories, some with songs and animation. 
Sesame Street includes approximately six free online books.  No audio.
With Clifford as the main character, Scholastic provides approximately six free interactive online eBooks and includes audio.  
Robert Munsch Books
At the official Robert Munsch, the author himself reads more than 20 of his own books out loud. 
RIF's Reading Planet
Watch and listen to animated stories and song at this Reading is Fundamental web site.
Reading is Fundamental has links to online books for Babies, Toddlers, and PreSchoolers.
Read approximately ten books for young children or your child can have the books read to him/her.
These are public domain eBooks and range from early childhood to young adult, depending on the title.  They can be downloaded or read online.
PBS Kids has read-along stories and videos for young children.
The Oxford Owl, from Oxford University, has 250 free tablet-friendly eBooks for ages 3-11. To use this site, you must register for a free account.
Mother Goose Club has links to several dozen animated stories with audio and songs.
Many has links to children's eBooks that are in the public domain. Downloadable to your eReader, the main title page will indicate if there is an audiobook available as well.
Reading Bear
Reading Bear from WatchKnowLearn, includes 50 presentations on learning to read.  It includes phonics and sounding out words.
This site for young children, older children, and young adults, includes books to read or listen to online. 
There are over twenty animated storybooks on this site for young children.
There are many Little Critter storybooks, activities, sing-along stories, and more on this site.
These audio stories may be played online or may be downloaded as MP3s. The text of the story is available for each story.
The Library of Congress provides children's literature as PDFs and in a "Page Turner" format, which can be read directly from a computer or tablet.
The Land of Magic Talking Books provides classic stories in audio format that can be listened to online or downloaded as an MP3.
Kinder Site links to animated stories, games, and songs for ages 2-6.
This site includes games, stories, and video clips for young children.
What is your favorite site for Children's eBooks, online books or audiobooks?  Send us comments below. We'd love to hear from you!

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Part II--How to Borrow FREE eBooks and Audiobooks

Part II--How to Borrow FREE eBooks and Audiobooks

The best place to begin is at your local public library or school library.  Many libraries are offering free eBooks in a variety of formats for checking out on your own device for two to three weeks at a time.  Many libraries are using an interface called Overdrive to check out eBooks.  (You can go to and "Find Your Library.")
  1. Check with a librarian to make sure that you have your library card number and a PIN. 
  2. Go to your computer, smart phone, or tablet, open the Overdrive interface for your school or public library, and then log in. 
  3. Once you are logged in, you can search for eBooks by title, author, subject, publisher, reading level, format, and more. You can also search only by titles that are currently available.
  4. From the Overdrive interface at your library, you can select the type of eReader that you are using, including iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Mac, Windows Phone, Windows 8 Tablet, Blackberry, Blackberry Playbook, Android, Sony Reader Wifi, Kindle, Nook, Kobo or Chromebook.  Once you select your device, only the correct formats will appear when you search for an eBook.   
  5. When you are using the  eInk versions of the Kindle and Nook, check out the titles from a computer or tablet, and transfer them to the Kindle* (via wifi) or Nook (via USB).
  6. You can create hold lists, wish lists, and/or immediately check out eBooks that are available.  
  7. Once you have your eBook selected, watch the videos for your particular eReader device that are provided by Overdrive to learn to download eBooks for the first time.  Once you have done it a few times, you will be able to check out eBooks for free whenever you want!  You can always have a supply of free eBooks to read on your own eReader. 
*For a Kindle eInk reader, just check out the eBook from Overdrive.  Once it is checked out, Amazon will open.  Log in to Amazon with the account for your device. Click on  "Get Library Book" and select the device to which you want it delivered via wifi.  Note that if all the devices are registered under the same login and password, you can have the same books on up to 6 devices simultaneously.
  1. Install the free OverDrive Media Console app on most devices, including the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Android, Kindle Fire, Nook HD, Mac, Windows, and Windows Phone.  Depending on the device, you can read eBooks, listen to audiobooks, and watch videos from your library with OverDrive Media Console.  (Note that on Macs and Windows computers, OverDrive Media Console only plays audiobooks.)
  2. Check out and download the audiobook directly into Overdrive Media Console on your device.  For more help with your device, try this page

Open Library
Open Library, an initiative of Internet Archive has over 1 million free eBook titles available. You must open a free account and may borrow up to 5 titles for 2 weeks each from Open Library.  Titles are available in varying formats and may include html, ePub, Kindle, PDF, Daisy, DjVu, and MOBI. Open Library is searchable by author or title, or you can view other readers' recommended lists.

Kindle Lending Library
If you are a Prime member of Amazon, you can borrow an eBook once a month from Kindle Owner's Lending Library.  You cannot access this library via Amazon on a computer; you have to access it from the Amazon Store on your Kindle.  From a Kindle eInk device, select all categories and then Kindle Owner's Lending Library.  From a Kindle Fire, select Kindle Owner's Lending Library.  Over 500,000 titles are available in the lending library.

How to "Borrow" eBooks and Keep Them!
You can always go to the Kindle store, Nook store, or iBooks store and type in "classics" or "popular classics"  or "free classics" and sort from Low to High price.  You will find hundreds of titles available.  Most are the same books available from Project Gutenberg or  Probably you'll just want to use the portal ( or Kindle Store, etc.) that is easiest for you to manage. Once you "purchase" these titles for $0.00, they are yours to keep.

Other eBook Loan Services (Not necessarily recommended.....)

You can loan Kindle eBooks to others by logging in to your Kindle account (Manage Content and Devices).  Go to the Action button to the left of books that you own.  If it says, "Loan this book," then you can loan it to a friend by sending a notification to his/her email address.  However, I discovered that most books are NOT loanable, so I don't find this to be a very good service.

You can borrow Kindle eBooks from Lendle on your Kindle device or on your smartphone, tablet or computer.  However, I just logged into Lendle and checked for some of my favorite authors.  Very few were available.  In my opinion, the titles available are not worth signing up for the program.  I prefer checking out titles from the local or school library.  

Nook LendMe eBooks
Nook users can lend and borrow eBooks through the Barnes and Noble community via the LendMe option.  Only limited titles are available as well.

Coming Soon--Part III--Where to Find Free Children's eBooks!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Part I--Where to Find Free eBooks and Audiobooks to Download onto an eReader

Part I--Where to Find Free eBooks and Audiobooks 
to Download onto an eReader

I love to read books on my Kindle and I usually check them out from my public library via Overdrive.  However,  I sometimes run out of time to search for new (free) books, so I buy a few and keep them in reserve so that I will never run out of really great books to read.  

What?  What could cause a librarian NOT to want to read print fiction books any more?  Don't you love the feel and smell of the paper, especially from those old books that have been sitting on library shelves for years?  Yes, I still love the smell of books in an old library.  It takes me back to my college days when I worked at the EdPsych Library at Battle Hall at the University of Texas in Austin. And I will admit that I still read non-fiction in print form; it's easier to read charts, graphs and view photographs in a real book.

Why? My eyesight is not as good as it used to be, and I find that eReaders have an advantage over print books in that I can adjust the font to make it large enough to read easily.  Another advantage is that I can carry the equivalent of thousands of books on a simple device, especially when I am traveling.

This post is based on a request from a library coordinator--To provide access to free eBooks and free audiobooks all together in one place.  These are all reliable, reputable web sites with links to legally acquired titles, by the way.

Don't you think that every student, teacher, and librarian should be able to select a free eBook and download it to his/her eReader, whether it is a Kindle, Nook, Kobo eReader, iPad, or smart phone, etc.? Isn't this a 21st Century skill that is more important that being able to play videogames? (Please write comments below!)

Free eBooks

Project Gutenberg
Select from over 45,000 free ebooks in epub or kindle formats.  You can download them to your eReader or read them online. You can use the search box to search by title, subject language, or author.  Also, you can select from the top 100 downloaded books, the most recent downloads, and the newest titles added. I tried The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and was offered the ePub or Kindle format, or I could have read it online immediately. Once you download a book from Project Gutenberg, you own it, so you don't have to return it.  It's a great idea to locate and download a few eBooks from Project Gutenberg so that you always have a book to read! is probably my favorite online free eBook source because it is so easy to use.  At, you can browse the popular titles, recommendations and reviews.  With more than 29,000 eBooks available for Kindle, Nook, iPad and other eReaders, you can search by author, title, genre, language, and more. One of my favorite features of is that the main page for a title will give you the title, author, publication date, a brief summary, and reviews written by readers.  Also, if the title is available as an audio file from LibriVox (see below), it is hyperlinked. Select your preferred download format (from ePub to html to Kindle to RTF and PDF...over 19 different formats in many cases.)  On this site, you can download the titles without having to register with

The Online Books Page
The site, hosted by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, has links to over one million free books on the Web. 

Free Audio Books (Read by Actual Humans!)

With more than 7,000 audio book recordings in more than 90 different languages, LibriVox makes public domain books available online for free.  They are a non-commercial, non-profit and ad-free project and welcome volunteer readers from around the world in a variety of languages.


Lit2Go, funded by grants, is hosted by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida.  With more than 200 titles available, Lit2Go includes free books, stories, and poems in mp3 format and can be downloaded to iTunes or played directly on your computer or tablet.  Each title includes the date and place of publication, a brief abstract, the Flesch-Kincaid reading level, the word count, and the genre, as well as a citation in APA, MLA, or Chicago formats. Broken up into passages, the sections include the playing time, a PDF for downloading, and student activities.  Students can search by author, title, genres, collections (such as "Here Be Dragons" or "Science" or "Math," for example), or even by readability level.

Verkaro Audio
Originally called LiteralSystems, Verkaro Audio links to 39 audiobooks that are mostly for children, and includes fairy tales, poetry, and more. Verkaro states that it takes 20-30 hours to produce one hour of a finished product.  With support from iBiblio, Verkaro provides these audiobooks for free. 

Open Culture

Edited by Dan Colman, the Director and Associate Dean of Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program, Open Culture has links to 550 free audiobooks from the above resources and more, all in once place.  You can select from iTunes version, MP3 version, or if you are a member of, you can select a free version from there. 

Open Culture also has links to 600 free eBooks, 675 free movies,  language lessons, and more.

 Coming Soon--Part II--How to Borrow free eBooks and Audiobooks

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Natural Disasters

Do your students study natural disasters such as hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, fires, volcanoes, and earthquakes? Infotopia has a new resource pages on natural disasters and it can be found at:


Check our our new Infotopia resource on Animals.  It includes over 15 links to the best resources for upper elementary, middle school and high school research into animals, including a comprehensive list of resources exclusively on mammals.  From A to Z Animals, and Bagherra, a site about endangered species, to  Animal Diversity Web from the University of Michigan, your students should find plenty of information for reports and research on animals.