The Perfect Listening Center {with iPads}


Do you have iPads in your classroom?  Even just one?  Let me show you how I'm using my 5 iPad minis as listening centers in my classroom.  I've discovered an organization system that works!

It all started with these Belkin Rockstars.  We only have 5 iPad minis in our classrooms and I wanted all of my students to be able to listen to stories or podcasts at the same time from time to time.  By plugging one of these into one of our iPads, it lets five students listen at the same time.  5 iPads with 5 listeners each....BINGO!  I found them on Amazon for $7.99 each.  I thought that was a steal!

They came with an alternate cord which is a bit longer.  I didn't think I would need that for our centers, so I stuffed them all in a ziploc baggie...just in case I need them in the future. 

Now, I know myself pretty well.  And, as much as I THINK I'll remember what those little blue cords are, I won't.  My bottom desk drawer is proof of this.  There are so many spare cords and adapters there that go with SOMETHING, but if my life depending on it I wouldn't be able to tell you what. ;)  So, I've become a little smarter.  I cut the cover off of one box and stuck it in the bag with the cords.  Now, I'll be able to find those extensions easily if they're needed.

Next up?  Earbuds.  Now, most of my students have headphones at school.  We use them for our laptops.  Students can order them from our school at the beginning of the year.  However, they're a pain to pass out and collect.  They're always a hot mess.  Some students brought they're own *different* headphones from home instead of purchasing them, and then some students don't have any at all.

Not a happy teacher.  I like things to be the same.  And neat.  And organized.  And easy.  I thought if I could just find earbuds for all, it would solve a lot of our problems.  I searched Amazon, but the cheaper ones had bad reviews.  Then, I remembered someone raving about the ones from The Dollar Tree once.

I visited their website and was pleased to find that they had them and the reviews were great!  I was even happier to discover Dollar Tree Direct.  Y'all!!  Have you heard of this??  Life changing.  I mean, back to school shopping next year is going to be AMAZING!!  With Dollar Tree Direct, you can order items in bulk on their site and they'll be shipped FREE of charge to your local store for pick up!

Oh! My! Word!  How many times have I visited three Dollar Trees in one day in search of enough of a particular item only to be disappointed???  I bought the case of headphones (36) and picked them up from my local store.  LOVE!

With these two items, I now had iPad listening centers for all of my students.  But, how was I going to store and organize these new gems?

I knew from the beginning that I was going to use these little storage containers {Hobby Lobby}.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find one with 24 slots, so I picked up two with 16 slots.  That would be perfect for adding in a few extra earbuds for backups.

I have heard from teachers who have used earbuds in the past that they can become a nightmare.  As in, such a tangled web that they end up throwing them out.  How would I store these in the containers so that students wouldn't just throw them in as a wadded mess?  I knew I wanted something that they could be wound around, keeping them from tangling.  I found these little wooden spools in the craft section {wooden aisle} at Hobby Lobby.  They came in a bag of 20 for $3.99.  I just stuck the plug into one of the holes on the end and then wound the earbuds around.  Perfection!  

It did take a few minutes for me to teach the kids how to do this initially, but they caught on pretty quickly.  A few practice rounds and they were pros!

I also knew that I wanted each student to use the same earbuds each time, so I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut vinyl numbers to go at the bottom of each slot.  

I also printed off labels for the lids and voila!  Instant earbud organization.  #teacherheaven

Along with our dishrack {Target} iPad holder, we now have everything we need at our fingertips.


So, what are some ways I'm using the iPads for listening centers?  Here are just a couple of my favorites.

The first is an app called Epic!  It's FREE if you sign in and register as an educator.

See that little "educators" underneath the white "NEXT" button?  Click it and sign in!

Once signed in, you'll have access to a ton of great books.  I mean, just take a look at the fairytale and poetry resources available here!  For FREE!  Can't you just imagine having students work in groups to read and compare some of these fairytales??

Many of the books students will read on their own, but some of the books have an option to be "read aloud" to them.

Above is an example of a non-fiction book about bears available as a read-aloud.  This will be SO helpful to some of my lower level readers during our informational study.

Another fabulous free resource we use is Act!vated Stories podcasts.

To get to the podcasts, simply click the podcast icon that comes installed on your device.  See the purple icon in the bottom right-hand corner?  That's it!  Then, go to the search function to find Act!vated Stories.


It's filled with podcasts of professional actors bringing many fairytales, tall tales, legends, and more to life!  We have used these for many years on our computer and I'm super excited about using these quality resources on our iPads now!  There are currently 147 podcast stories available - all FREE!

I hope some of these tips and resources will be helpful to you.  Do you have more tips for me?  I'd love for you to share them in the comments!  Let me know what has worked for you.  <3



10 comments

  1. WOW!!! Feel like I just spied a pot of gold. Smiles and stop by anytime!

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  2. Love my Belkin Rockstar and Epic! Great post, Amanda!

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  3. Wow, I love these tips! I am so doing this. We have cheap headphones that the cords are always a hot mess and are constantly breaking. Just genius! Thanks for sharing.

    ~Laura
    Luv My Kinders

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  4. Amanda you are a teacher's treasure! I love this! I'll be getting 4 iPads soon and this is just management heaven! Thank you!!!
    ~Linda

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  5. Oh my goodness, I almost didn't read on because I only have one ipad. I'm SO glad I did, thank you!! Jen

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  6. I can use every little tip you listed in this blog! I'm headed over to Amazon from here to get started. Thanks for sharing these jewels!

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  7. Thank for sharing! This will come in handy for sure!

    Teaching Tidbits and More with Jamie

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  8. How did the earbuds hold up? Did they fit ok in students ears?
    Love the ideas- thanks!!

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