Category Archives: history

Wulf the Saxon (Heirloom Audio Productions) ~ a Crew review

Wulf the Saxon review

Experiencing history is a memorable way to understand it and Heirloom Audio Productions treats their listeners to an experience of history each time you turn on one of their audio theater productions. Wulf the Saxon follows the tradition of great productions that Heirloom Audio has created. This 2 CD set brings your family almost 2 1/2 hours of entertainment focused on history, values, and adventure.

Heirloom Audio Productions has created a series on The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty, based on the novels written by G.A. Henty. Henty was an adventurer who traveled around the globe to find out as much as he could about the truth of the past and then he wrote novels based on those happenings. Heirloom Audio has taken those wonderful novels and with the help of fantastic script writers, great researchers, and amazing voice talents, they have created a series of audio theater productions.

These are much more than audiobooks; these are audio adventures. The voice talents that participate create an atmosphere that brings the listener right into the story, complete with sound effects and a soundtrack of music that adds to the story. The listener is transported into the story.

Wulf the Saxon

In this case, we are transported into the events and battles leading up to the battle in which the Normans beat the King of England, and then William the Conqueror is named king. At the beginning of the story, Wulf the Saxon is a young man and Edward the Confessor is on the throne of England. Wulf is a thane. He is well liked by the people who work his land and he is considered a fair-handed ruler who keeps his promises.

Wulf is a thane under Earl Harold and spends much time with him. Harold and his men went sailing and were blown off course when a storm came. They ended up in Normandy and were imprisoned. Wulf and another young man escape and are able to make it to the home of a nobleman who is friendly to Earl Harold. He secured the release of the Earl and treats them all well until they are able to return to England. During their time there, there is a battle in which Wulf shows how good his instincts are. Wulf is a significant contributor in the battle win. Harold and his men return to England.

Before too much time passes, the Welsh invade England. Wulf the Saxon once again shows his knowledge and instincts by securing the castle of Prince Lewellyn without any bloodshed.

After about a year passes, the northern areas are in a rebellion against the crown. The king becomes very sick and must pass the power of the crown to Harold. When the king dies shortly thereafter, Harold is named king. Wulf is right there in support of this man who had always treated him and others fairly. As king, Harold almost immediately has to fight off the Norsemen invading the north and finds out that the rulers betray the crown. A slaughter occurs and while this is going on, William of Normandy sails to invade.

King Harold assembled his men to fight when he realized that the Normans were going to take advantage of their weakness. They fought bravely but lost and the king lost his life. While protecting the body of the king, Wulf and others were saved from certain death by the Baron who rescued them years before by providing ransom in Normandy. He took them as captives and returned to his home. This was quite advantageous for Wulf as he had fallen in love with the Baron’s daughter. The end of the story is lovely in that Wulf and Agnes are able to marry for love.

inside CD case of Wulf the Saxon

This is a story that rises and falls with the crown and its power. It takes you on a ride, for sure. There are a lot of people in this story and it isn’t easy to understand who they all are. It is still a captivating story and you can’t help but learn more about the history of England. There were themes thrown into this story that are great life lessons. Some of these:

  • Sacrifice is not in vain – good things can come out of your sacrifice and your sacrifice doesn’t make your life worth less.
  • Love vs. Patriotism – which is more important and how do you make the decision; was it right for Edith to sacrifice her own love and happiness for England when it hurt others?
  • Loyalty – how do you show loyalty? why is loyalty important? when you look at others, how do you determine their loyalty?
  • Betrayal – what is your word worth? what do you do when someone betrays you?
  • Friendship – the ways in which friendship is shown is strong, courageous, and bold in many places in the story.

As always, the minute the CDs arrived, they disappeared into the bedroom of Miss E and were not seen again until I asked for them, knowing I needed to listen to the story for this review. She adores all of the Heirloom Audio Productions and knows so much history because of them. She was able to help me place where this one falls in the timeline of the Heirloom Audio stories.

As a parent, I like knowing that there will be no questionable material on the discs when they come from Heirloom. I can trust that the girls will be exposed to solid history and when appropriate, the Christian values of the characters are brought out. This particular production does not have as many obvious Christian elements as others they have done in the past but it is still full of quality values. As a parent, you will want to note that there are several battle scenes in this, and while they are not gory and blatant, Heirloom does a solid job of sound effects that add to the reality of the scene and experience.

Miss E’s take on this story –
My favorite parts were the beginning and ending scenes where the two young brothers were talking with Mr. George before and after the story. During the story, it was kind of confusing to try to keep track of who was who and what they did. I did like this story but it is not my favorite of the Heirloom stories.

Heirloom Audio Adventure Club

Heirloom Audio Productions has an online community: Live the Adventure Club. As a member of the Live the Adventure Club you will have access to digital files of the stories, listen and learn script read alongs, quizzes that go along with the adventures, and materials to further the learning related to the adventures such as Thinking Further and Defining Words.  There is also access to old-time radio programs, encouragement and devotional thoughts, and other parenting materials. The community forum is also a place where members can chat about the adventures, education, and other topics of interest to them.

other adventures

Heirloom Audio Productions does not disappoint with their latest audio adventure, Wulf the Saxon.

Blessings,
At Home.

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Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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The Tunnels ~ Blogging for Books review

When I was in high school, one of our teachers took his family (which included a girl my age) to Germany so he could teach English. Shortly after they arrived, the Wall “came down.” They were there for that historic moment and they were able to send back a piece of the wall to our high school, along with some written memoirs about what they had seen, heard, and experienced. Talk about history coming alive!

When I saw this book, The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill, written by Greg Mitchell, I was pretty intrigued. Perhaps because of that connection my old English teacher created for me. Whatever it was, this book sounded fascinating. It was.

Screenshot 2018-02-07 at 9.55.48 AM

This book covered many of the secret tunnel attempts from West Germany into East Germany in order to help family, friends, and others trapped in the East escape into freedom. Many of these tunnels were compromised and lives were lost. Many were successful and many, many lives were freed. The bravery, courage, and perseverance of those who built the tunnels is chronicled here very well.

What is also clearly in evidence here is the courage and dedication to freedom of those who escaped. They endangered themselves and others trying to get to freedom but they kept at the attempts until they were free. This is also documented well in this book and it is easy to see why they risked it all.

What was covered in this book that I didn’t really expect is the Cold War, the nuclear threat, and Cuba. One of my shortcomings in history is an understanding of the nuclear threats and the Cold War and Russia. I had no idea just how closely tied Cuba and Germany were. The book taught me a lot about the seriousness of the nuclear threat and how close we truly came to WWIII during this time frame. I have an even greater admiration for JFK than I did before. President Kennedy had to make many decisions related to Berlin and the threats of the Wall with Russia and nuclear missles clearly in his mind. He had to go against what many thought because he had a bigger picture in mind – keeping the world intact and stopping nuclear war. I did not realize just how much was resting on his shoulders.

The TV stations play into this story and how it is related to the White House in that they were trying to cover some of the sensational stories of escape from East Berlin. Some of the stations wanted to film it. The White House saw this as a potential national security threat. So it brings up the question of freedom of the press – how far should they be allowed with freedom and when should they monitor their own and make decisions for humanity, not just a dollar? All of this is deeply ingrained in the story of The Tunnels.

There is so much in this book. I learned a ton and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was not a fast read but it was a good one. Highly researched and documented, this book is one that taught me a lot and I will recommend.

Blessings,
At Home.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Unit Study on India

India unit study

We recently studied India as our family’s country of choice for the International Feast Night we had with some other homeschool families. We had a blast and learned so much about India. We kicked it off by reading The Hidden Village by Bonnie Rose Hudson. Read my review to learn more about that book.

book cover

After learning about Manju and the world he lived in, we watched some videos. These videos taught us a lot about West Bengal, the part of India that the book was set in. We learned about Bengal Tigers, jute harvesting, the uses of jute, mangroves, markets in West Bengal, foods, mongoose, and more. There are a lot of things to learn about.

We also learned that West Bengal is just one of the part of India, which is extremely diverse. To learn about other parts of India, we used several resources from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This is a site that we use often through the year and it provided us lots of good information on India. From the video titled India Unveiled in a series titled Trek to the Holy Land to a history study titled A Splash of Geography with a section on India, we had access to lots of good information and images. We looked at, but did not use, lapbooking sets on the rhino and the Bengal Tiger, both available at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. By far, the best resource on this site was Asia: Trade Route Safari (also by Bonnie Rose Hudson, who wrote The Hidden Village that we kicked the study off with). We learned a ton from the India sections of this study.

our display on India

We used an art project that is available as a lesson from ArtAchieve. In level 1, there is a study of wood block printing in India. This is how they print fabric for the saris. Miss J created this print using the techniques of this art lesson and some videos from their cross-curricular materials.

Miss L studied the sari and decided to duplicate it with material on two of our 18 inch dolls. They were adorable.

dolls in saris

We also used a set of notebooking pages from Hip Homeschool Moms titled Around The World Notebook Pages. These were neatly put together. The girls were able to research information for them easily and it was easy to for them to complete the pages.

As this was a feast, we took food from India that we had cooked, as well. Our menu consisted of:

  • Butter Chicken
  • Picnic Rice (rice with curd/yogurt)
  • Apple and Raisin Chutney
  • Naan
  • Gajar Halwa Ladoo (Carrot and coconut truffles)
  • Bhapa Doi

foods from India

The recipes came from these two food blogs from India – Chef de Home and Fun FOOD and Frolic. There are tons more recipes on these two blogs and I would definitely like to try a few more.

the girls' display on India

At the feast, the girls set up a display table with their information and projects. Each family also took a few minutes to talk about what they learned, giving each child a few moments. (Great public speaking practice!) The students also had to introduce their menu and describe each of the foods so that everyone could know what they were eating. This was a fun night.

Hopefully, this will give you some resources for your own study of India. This is a very large, diverse country and we have barely touched on it. Perhaps we will cover some more during the springtime when we need a diversion one day. So much more to learn!

Blessings,
At Home.

Bandelier National Monument ~ field trip

Bandelier giant pottery

When the girls and I went on our New Mexico trip a couple of months ago, one of the places we really wanted to visit was Bandelier National Monument. At Home Dad and I went a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Since Miss E has been interested in the National Park and National Monuments for a while, this was a good one to put on the “must visit” list. Miss L had asked to study ancient civilizations this year so we were able to add this to her hands-on experiences in learning about them. (It also gave us a chance to visit my brother in Santa Fe!)

Bandelier is where an ancient puebloan civilization lived about 1150. While living here, they built homes that they carved out of the volcanic tuff walls, creating caves or cliff dwellings. They did not plant within the steep walls of the canyons, instead planting on the flat top of the mesa. They cultivated corn, beans, and squash, supplemented with plants that grew naturally here. They hunted for meat, eating deer, rabbit, and even squirrel. There was a fresh water stream that flowed through the canyon.

circular village

After about 400 years, the land was beginning to fail and was no longer able to fully support this civilization. Once a drought appeared, the people could no longer stay. By about 1500, they had abandoned this canyon almost completely and were living along the Rio Grande River.

Bandelier is a unique place. The people who lived here built their homes along the canyon walls and in the canyon walls to take advantage of the heat and protection they offered. Using the volcanic tuff, they also built a large circular village on the canyon floor. It is estimated that the village held around 400 rooms, all stacked and layered, made from volcanic tuff blocks. They used mud to mortar the blocks.

But what makes this place really unique is that the visitors are able to walk among the ruins, the homes, the kivas, even going into some of them. The hiking path takes you along the canyon floor and then to the canyon walls, highlighting many of the important places. Some of the caves have ladders placed so you can climb up and enter. Some of the caves are so small you can barely move around and probably served as storage. Others are multi-roomed caverns that you can stand up in and walk around. We climbed into several and got a neat view of the canyon.

Alcove House

The hardest climb, though, comes at the end of the canyon. It is up to Alcove House. Alcove House is carved out of the canyon walls approximately 140 feet up. It is reached by several ladders and sets of stone steps. It is believed that people did indeed live here but it was probably ceremonial. There is a large kiva, many viga holes in the walls (the supporting beams for roofs or second stories), and remains of walls and caves in the walls. It is a hard climb but if you are in shape for it, definitely worth it!

Bandelier is a wonderful place to visit and one that our family really enjoyed. Even if you choose not to visit Alcove House, getting to set foot inside caves that once house ancestral peoples is pretty neat. If you are planning a trip to NM, add this one to your list.

At Home.

Independence, Texas – field trip

Independence, Texas, is a place all its own. It has a pretty good claim to fame here in Texas – Sam Houston lived here. But also, two universities got their starts here – Baylor University and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (originally the Baylor Women’s College). Independence was once an important educational and religious site.

Baylor University beginnings

There are several historic structures in the town and the cemetery is really quite interesting. There is a neat visitor’s center with very helpful, friendly staff. The walking/driving tour is well marked and interesting. At Home Dad and I visited this summer while the girls were at camp. It was so interesting for us that we went again not long ago and took the girls.

Baylor Hill

We visited the historic sites by driving. Even though it was October, it was a very hot day, so we drove. (And got some ice cream at the lone spot in town where you can buy anything!) We visited the Baylor sites and the rose garden. I’ll share that in another post just because we took so many pictures there.

historic buildings

During our summertime visit, At Home Dad and I also went out to the cemetery. Fascinating place!!! There are plenty of historic headstones, many of which have fallen into disrepair. While we were visiting, a man was working on restoring these important stones. Many are from founding families of the state, including Sam Houston’s family and some soldiers from various battles. It was a really neat cemetery to visit and talking with this historian made is even more interesting.

Independence, Texas, is a neat little place to visit. You can see it all easily in just an hour or two. We definitely recommend a visit here if you have the time.

At Home.

Captain Bayley’s Heir (Heirloom Audio) ~ a Crew review

Captain Bayley's Heir cover

If you have been around for any length of time, you will know that our family absolutely, without a doubt, thoroughly enjoys Heirloom Audio Productions and the historical audio dramas they create based on G. A. Henty books. Their most recent production is set in the time of the California Gold Rush and as we enter the story, we get to listen in at a campfire as the story is told of Captain Bayley’s Heir.

SUMMARY (spoiler alert):

Mr. George is heading to the American West to do some research for his next story. As he and his guide settle down for the night, Mr. George launches into one of his tales. This tale begins in London with a well-off family, the family of Captain Bayley.

Frank, Fred, and Alice are three cousins (well, Alice is not really a cousin but lives with the Captain who is her guardian) who get along well. Amidst their daily lives, they meet Harry when his dog falls into the river and Frank rescues it. This shows us the quick and compassionate spirit that lives in Frank and gives us a glimpse of the spirit that ends him up in the center of  a problem – a theft at his school. Frank is accused of the theft and, though innocent, finds he must flee England. So he heads for America.

Once Frank arrives in America, much adventure and trial awaits him. As Frank makes his way up the Mississippi and westward to the goldfields, he meets some men whose experiences and faith offer Frank much encouragement. From storm to shipwreck to Indian attack, Frank holds to his integrity and acts with courage and bravery. Hailed more than once as a hero, Frank makes his way to the goldfields of California. While there, he continues to act with love and grace towards his neighbors and friends. This allows him to be a part of partnership that brought much wealth to Frank.

It also opened up a discussion which was alluded to often in the story – grace. Specifically, the grace of God. We cannot earn God’s grace and nothing we can do will bestow it upon us. This is brought to Frank’s attention several times and became a strong theme that we all ought to pay attention to.

In the end, Frank is able to be reunited with his family from London, his name is cleared of the theft, and his family is expanded with new-found members (the dog rescue early on early on? turns out the dog belonged to a long-lost cousin).

As Mr. George’s story concludes, his guide has been given a lot to think about, including the grace of God and how it might change his own life.

study guide and CDs

STUDY GUIDE:

The study guide has been created to add a study element to Heirloom Audio Productions, to take the listener deeper into the ideas, thoughts, and Christian elements explored in the story. The study guide can serve as a discussion starter or as written assignments for students. It is extremely adaptable and contains so much that it is one that can be revisited over and over without exhausting the possibilities.

The study guide follows the story with chapters which allign to the CD tracks. This is extremely helpful and each page of the study guide identifies which track it goes with. The chapter title is also at the top of the page, along with the timing for the CD (example CD 1, track 1 is on the top left and 00:00 – 05:06 is on the top right).  Each chapter/track has three parts: listening well, thinking further, and defining words.

Listening well is a series of lower level thinking questions. Many of these are simple recall, prediction, or inference questions. These are pretty easy to get the answers to simply by listening to the production.

Thinking further questions are designed to really push the students. These are higher level questions that may require additional knowledge. There are application questions where the student might be required to take a theme or idea from the story and discuss how that affects their life. An example of this type of question from CD 2, track 3: “Harry says he has never been ashamed of being a cripple until now. Why does he feel ashamed now? Should he feel ashamed? Why or why not?” There were also many Bible verse application questions in this section throughout the tracks. An example of one of these comes from CD 2, track 6: “Abe says that we can’t earn God’s acceptance or love. Is he right? Where does the Bible say this? Read Ephesians 2:4-9, Galatians 2:15-21, and Titus 3:4-7.

Defining words is just that – vocabulary words to define. There are not specific uses suggested making it easily adapted to what works best for your family.

Along the way are little sidebars of information that add interest and ideas to the study. One of the sidebars talks about the gold rush mining camps. Another gives some brief information on important people during the gold rush. Yet another educates us on Victorian money. There are several more scattered throughout the study guide. There is also a short bibliography of additional resources if a student wants to do additional reading on Victorian England or the American West.

Included in the study guide are three Bible studies. Bible Study I is on God’s Grace. Bible Study II is on Becoming a Christian. (This study does not go deep enough in the study of what must be done to be saved.) Bible Study III is titled Honoring Your Parents. The Bible studies each are written with a summary at the top, followed by an outline format of the study with ideas and their corresponding Bible citations. These can be used in a number of different ways and can be adapted to suit your family’s needs.

online quiz

LIVE THE ADVENTURE CLUB:

Purchasers of Captain Bayley’s Heir can also purchase access to the Live The Adventure Club. In doing so, you gain access to a number of interesting features. These include the Study Guide, online listening access, a read-along script, online comprehension questions and thinking further questions, vocabulary words, and more. There is access to a copy of the original Henty book, in e-book format, and the official soundtrack to download or read online. There is also a cast poster, an inspirational hymn poster (Amazing Grace), and desktop wallpaper to download. This bonus content is only available to those who have purchased access to the Live The Adventure Club.

The Club also gives you a significant amount of other content, unrelated to the Heirloom Audio Productions. There is a library of old-time radio broadcasts that has all sorts of history topics with multiple broadcasts each. There is a civics course on the Constitution and history textbooks from the 1700s and 1800s. In the parent resources area, there are podcasts, interviews, movie reviews, recipes and more that will add a depth to history studies or just help mom or dad to know more about interesting topics.

There is another place that was kind of fun to poke around in – Kids Activities. In this part of the site, there are links to the online access of the productions. There are coloring pages that are tied to different scenes in each of the productions that have been made. There are also word searches on this page that can be printed or completed online. Lastly, there are some hands-on activities related to the different productions.

online word search

FINAL THOUGHTS:

As always, we thoroughly enjoy this production. We have listened to it more than once and Miss E has listened several times. It is a fun story that brings all the adventure of the American West and the gold rush to life. With the high quality we have come to expect, Heirloom Audio Productions does not disappoint with Captain Bayley’s Heir.

Captain Bayley's Heir inside CDs

If you are interested in other productions they have created, you may visit these reviews:

The Cat of Bubastes ~ a TOS review

Beric the Briton ~ a TOS review

The Dragon and the Raven ~ a TOS review

With Lee In Virginia – a TOS review

A TOS Review: In Freedom’s Cause

A Review: Under Drake’s Flag

We also own, but did not review, In The Reign of Terror. I do believe that while all of them are fantastic, The Dragon and The Raven is Miss E’s favorite.

At Home.

Visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what other families thought about Captain Bayley’s Heir.

 

Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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The Greatest Inventors ~ a Crew review

The Greatest Inventors

Looking for a simple way to start our new school year, we decided that a week-long unit study would be great. Enter A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks and their stand-alone lapbook product, The Greatest Inventors .

Greatest Inventors Lapbook with Study Guide

A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks has been around for a while and got its start when a couple of homeschooling moms realized that what they wanted was not to be found. So, they created it! How’s that for ingenuity? That was the start of A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks (AJTL).

AJTL has many products to fit many needs. Whether you are looking for a stand alone study or something to accompany a curriculum you have purchased, AJTL may have just what you need. And if you don’t know exactly what a lapbook is, well, they have a page for that, too. Head over to their site to watch their video about lapbooks. But quickly – lapbooking is a way to simply document learning by completing mini-booklets in different shapes and sizes, keeping the documentation varied and interesting for the student.

We were able to use The Greatest Inventors, a stand-alone lapbooking unit. What that means is that the downloadable product (you can also get a printed version) contains all of the mini-booklets to create the lapbook as well as all the information in a study guide to be able to fill out and complete the lapbook. Each mini-booklet has its own page of information to read. It was a simple unit to complete and we were easily able to use it with our girls, ages 8, 11, and 13.

working on the book report form

How We Used The Greatest Inventors

I printed out all of the mini-booklets from the PDF file. I did not print the study guide pages; we accessed those on the computer when we needed them. I also checked out a book on each inventor from the library, since the study guide was not as high a reading level as I wanted for the two older girls. They needed more of a challenge. (The reading level was perfect for our 8 year old, though.) I placed the books and pages together on the table and the girls took turns picking the inventors they were interested in.

Some of the inventors –

  • Jonas Salk
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Guglielmo Marconi
  • George Eastman
  • Louis Braille
  • The Wright Brothers
  • and many more.

Each day that week, the girls worked on one or more of their inventors. They read the study guide and the books. In some cases, we looked up more information or pictures on the internet with a simple Google search. Then, the girls completed their mini-booklets, as well as the book report form that is included in the PDF.

working on da Vinci

The book report form is a simple form, asking for the name of the book and its author. It asks about the birth and death, the time period, and information about what was understood from the book. It also gives them a chance to be creative, designing a stamp for that inventor. It was fun to talk about stamps being a way to honor someone and their achievements.

Miss J presenting her researchMiss L presenting her research

At the end of the week, we had a presentation. The girls took turns presenting their inventors, the book report, and showing the mini-booklet that was created. We also used this time to open up a discussion about how each invention helped or changed the world. It was a fun day, full of unexpected learning.

Miss E presenting her research

Now, we went pretty far above and beyond the lapbook product itself. But this is a great example of how easy it is to extend these products to include the entire family in learning. Our oldest students got some good research experience, as well as having to present, while it fit perfectly the reading ability and interest level of our youngest. We could easily have just used the mini-booklets and the study guide and we still would have learned a lot.

everyone can change the world

AJTL has simple to use products, though you do need access to a computer and printer if you are purchasing their downloadable products. If that doesn’t work for you, they have printed versions available, as well.A Journey Through Learning

The Homeschool Review Crew had several products that the families were using. These included

These are just a few of the hundreds of titles that A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks has available. There is something for just about every study you can imagine. Visit their page to see what else they have.

At Home.

 

Lapbooks for Classical Conversations, Apologia, Inventors & 20th Century {A Journey Through Learning Lapbooks Reviews}

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