Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jim Hodges Audio Books - The Dragon and The Raven {TOS Review}

Jim Hodges Productions Review

We love audio books and Jim Hodges Productions are definitely one of our favorites. So to pair them with one of our favorite authors and it's a win-win! We were given the opportunity to review an excellent G.A. Henty book on MP3 CD called The Dragon and The Raven.  ($25 for CD or $18 for digital download).

If you are not aware of G.A.Henty then Jim Hodges audio books are an excellent way to be introduced to them.We drive an hour each way to piano lessons and I am always looking for audio learning opportunities. We have searched high and low for quality audio books and have never been disappointed with anything from Jim Hodges Productions. This audio book is 7 hours 40 minutes in length and the kids loved every minute of it.

The Dragon and the Raven is set in AD 870-901 and is about the Viking Invasion of England and France. My kids had already heard of the 23 year old Alfred during our other history readings (We love history here, and read a TON.) They especially love the story of King Alfred and the cakes - they were more than pleased to hear that it was included in this story. This story is about the many fierce battles and adventures set in this time period. The hero is a young Saxon thane named Edmund (I think he won Boo's heart quite early on in the story). He joins King Alfred and although young he becomes a mighty warrior. Especially when he builds his ship (The Dragon). He is a great warrior but also a Christian and doesn't not kill for pleasure. One of his decisions during a sea adventure will change the course of his future, save his life and eventually reunite him with the Danish maiden he marries. This is definitely a book for anyone. There is fighting and battles mixed along side with courage and Christianity. With of course a love story thrown in for good measure.

Dad wasn't with use during our piano trip excursions, our field trip to the State Capital, or our Zoo trip when we listened to this story. So, the kids have already decided that we will listen to this again during our LONG drive to Florida next year, so Dad and can listen to it as well.

If you are looking for an author to make history come alive, look no further than G.A. Henty. If you want a good quality audio book then you have found it with Jim Hodges Productions.

We were also sent an excellent PDF study guide ($12) to go along with this CD. It is broken down into chapters so it was very easy to use. At the beginning of each chapter there is a page of new vocabulary. This is very useful because we are dealing with AD 870-901 and there are some very unusual expressions etc. After the list of related spelling words there are some questions related to the chapter and then some activities. We used the vocabulary words and the questions as we could do this in the car while we traveled (thanks to my cell phone internet plan). The kids would look up any words that they didn't know and we would discuss the questions verbally. However we didn't complete many of the activities. I think we will do some of them when we listen to it again. I think we will definitely make a time-line when we are driving to Florida. We will be listening to it in one go (I told you it will be a long ride) so it will be a good way to stay focused. I will get them a notebook to write the events in so they can keep it together. They could also use this notebook to make a note of any vocabulary they want to review again.

I loved that the study guide contains Internet links to interesting sites to study more about relevant topics. For example chapter one contains a link to learn more about Viking burial customs. The links in Chapter 5 took us to a virtual village of Wichamstow and this one tells you how to make a Saxon Geteld (tent). 

The study guide is 55 pages long and makes a great addition to the CD.

We loved this story, even Captain America listened intently and asked questions. The vocabulary list from the study guide was especially useful for him. Sometimes, we would have to stop the story and discuss some vocabulary. Jam was able to explain a lot of the vocabulary without having to look it up as he has read about this time period before. I love how these books really help expand vocabulary. You would want to check the age suitable for each story. Most are recommended for 8+ although Captain America has just turned 6 and loved this one.  

Check out Jim Hodges Facebook.

There are so many G.A. Henty books available from Jim Hodges you really need to check out the other reviews. I am sure you will find one that perfectly fits into the time period you are studying.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Clued in Kids {TOS Review}

Do you like treasure hunts? I know we do, what I don't like is the preparation. This year Boo wanted to give Captain America a treasure hunt for his birthday. It seemed like a fun idea. So when we were offered a review from Clued in Kids. We were lucky enough to be sent two different treasure hunts to try. We received Pirate Treasure Hunt Clue Book in the mail and a PDF copy of Multiplication Dragons Treasure Hunts 2x - 6x.

Captain America had a birthday coming up so I planned to use that treasure hunt at his birthday party. So I kept that one safe for a while. However we used the multiplication one straight away.

These treasure hunts are so easy to use. I loved the printed pirate one, but honestly the PDF file was SO easy. So let me tell you how we used these.

Multiplication Dragons Treasure Hunts ($19.99 1-10 kids recommended ages 7-9)

I printed the PDF file for the 2X tables first. Since Captain America is the only child that really needs to practice his 2X tables as Jam and Boo have them down :) So I enlisted Boo's help with this treasure hunt. In fact enlisting her help is probably underestimating what she did. In fact I handed her the printed treasure hunt and BOOM! Within 10 minutes she was running around the house helping Captain America solve the clues (after taking all of 5 minutes to set it up!)

Captain America LOVED the treasure hunt, at first he was a little concerned with the concept of multiplication but by the time he had finished the hunt he completely understood the concept.

It literally takes just a few minutes to separate the clues and hide them. Boo liked the fact that you don't have to think up the clues or hiding places. All of that is done for you and so it really is as simple as print, cut, hide, and find.

I used the 3x, 4x, 5x, and 6x table treasure hunts as a fun review with the big kids. Captain America thought is was fun too. These will be a great spur of the moment activity next time I have some of our home-school friends over - bonus 10 minute set up!

Clued In KidsReview

Pirate Treasure Hunt ($8.99 for 1-10 kids ages 4 and up)

Now for my FAVORITE treasure hunt. I guess comparing a multiplication treasure hunt with a pirate one is not really fair. Plus we used this for Captain America's 6th birthday party, which was awesome. Of course I have some great pictures. Again I can't really claim that I did much of this one either. It is awesome having older kids - Boo loved helping with the party and was so excited that I let her have free reign over this hunt. She set it up, again in about 10 minutes. When it was time to do the treasure hunt I let her have the fun of running around with the kids.

This treasure hunt had the kids running around the house, completing dot to dot puzzles and checking the mailbox. The fact that their party goody bags were our treasure was an added bonus!

Of course I couldn't resist taking a ton of pictures, Boo even dressed up for the occasion. We decorated pirate style, including the cup-cakes.

You can check out the Clued in Kids  blog. They have some giveaways and a huge selection of PDF and printed treasure hunts available. If you sign up for their newsletter you can get a free homework treasure hunt.

There are some other really cool treasure hunts that were reviewed by the crew. Click the link below to check them out!

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Monday, October 27, 2014

New Liberty Videos - Warriors of Honor {TOS Review}

New Liberty Videos Review

We love documentaries.  When I was offered a choice of a DVD from New Liberty Videos. We were very pleased to be sent our first choice from the list offered which was a DVD called Warriors of Honor. This DVD retails at $19.95.

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling a little sick, and so I thought it was a perfect time to pull out this DVD and have a comfy history afternoon.  The kids were very excited to have a change of pace for the afternoon, and were more than willing to sit and watch 'TV'.

Sometimes when I watch TV I fall asleep. I don't sit down during the day very often, so it was a rare treat. However, this documentary kept my attention. In fact I had to watch it twice just to make sure I didn't miss any of my favorite quotes.

This DVD is a documentary that talks about the causes and battles of the Civil War from a southern point of view. It focuses on the lives and Christian beliefs of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I can honestly say I didn't know much about these two generals. I was born and raised in England. My Civil War history coverage was scanty to say the least and obviously written from the viewpoint of the North. The only thing I knew about these two men was basically what battles they were in etc.. We all know that there are two sides to every story and to the victor the spoils - and the pages of the history books.

The video is 80 minutes long. We found it engaging and very informative. As I have mentioned before I was not born in America. I found it interesting to learn about the differences in the cultures of the North and South before the Civil War.  The South were very independent and didn't want the government controlling every detail of their lives. The North were happy to have the government have more influence. I was amazed at the facts included in the video, some of which I had heard before, some that were completely new to me.

My children were astounded of how bloody the conflict was, how many men died, how many families were torn apart. We had read this information before, but somehow listening to it while watching pictures of actual people, and video of battle re-enactments it sunk in a little deeper.

This film is aimed at general audiences. I watched it with all of my children including my six year old. We have watched a lot of documentaries and so I knew that Captain America would be able to handle it. However there are pictures and descriptions  of actual carnage of the war, so if you are concerned about it, I would preview it before watching it with young children.

I will definitely be watching this again. In fact I know I will because my husband hasn't seen it yet and my kids have been talking about it so much that he really wants too. My kids have also discussed this DVD with their Grandparents and my Dad really wants to watch it too. (Guess what we will be doing next time they come to visit!)

I love it when something catches their interest and makes us discuss something as a family. We discussed how difficult it must have been to be a good Christian during these times. Of course there are many things we don't really understand still about this war. However, this movie reminds us that it was about more than slavery. It seems hard to understand that there were Christian, God fearing men on both sides of this battle. I had always been taught that the Civil War was about slavery but this video explained that is was about so much more. That there was good and bad leaders on each side.

I wish I could sit down with these great leaders (from both sides) and really know the truth about they 'whys' and 'whats' of this battle. Unfortunately this is I am left wondering.

I loved that there are so many personal accounts throughout the video. Pictures, quotes from letters, eyewitness accounts.

We live in an area with lots of Civil War history. We have re-enactments and monuments and a lot of interesting things around where we live. In fact just last weekend we were going to the zoo and drove past a huge re-enactment. Captain America was looking out of the window and saw the two uniforms. He said "look Mom, that's a re-enactment of the Civil War, their uniforms are the same as in the documentary we watched."

This DVD is just one that we were offered to review. Click on the link below to read more reviews.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Random Five Friday October 24th 2014

1. Captain America had his very first birthday party today! He was SO excited. It was a pirate party.

2. Jam will finish his camping badge this weekend. I think that makes 4 more badges till Eagle - plus his project. We need to start thinking about that.

3. Captain America is really getting into Legos. It makes birthday shopping easy.

4. I am on a binge of Househunters International. Boo has been watching with me. Did you know when you rent in Germany you have to take your kitchen with you.

5. I have been walking four days a week. It feels great!