Friday, July 31, 2015

Powerful Christian Audio Drama: With Lee in Virginia from Heirloom Audio {A TOS Review}

We have become huge fans of Heirloom Audio Productions and their Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty Audio Theater Programs. All of these dramas are based on books by George Alfred Henty,  and they do a wonderful job of "bringing real history to life." When the opportunity presented itself to review the newest release called With Lee in Virginia, we were thrilled. To top it off, we are going to be learning about American History this year in our Core Curriculum. It seemed like a great time to listen to a drama about the Civil War.

I admit, my husband and I were the ones who were wringing our hands in anticipation while we waited to find out whether I had been chosen for this review. I have always enjoyed American History. With the current state of our nation, where it appears the federal government is getting way too powerful, it seemed like a wonderful time to take a look at a story that focused on a time of struggle with state's rights and what was going on in the lives of those who were considered the rebels. 

We received the physical 2-CD set of With Lee in Virginia, in addition to the downloadable Study Guide and Discussion Starter. We also received the bonus resources that come with the Family Four-Pack Package. This includes:
  • The With Lee in Virginia Soundtrack MP3 download
  • A printable copy of an inspirational Robert E. Lee quote
  • With Lee in Virginia e-book
  • A printable promotional poster
  • Unlimited access to Live the Adventure Letter E-Newsletter
As an additional bonus, I received an MP3 download of the With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama

Before I tell you a little about the drama itself, I wanted to focus a bit on the CD set. Both CD's are securely held in a tri-fold CD case. The CD's are situated on the right and left side of the case, and there is a small, 4-page informational pamphlet in the center. The cover of the pamphlet is identical to the cover of the CD case. Inside, you will find details on how to access the study guide, along with information about Heirloom Audio Productions. Finally, on the back, you will find information about 6 of the main characters. Brian Blessed again plays G.A. Henty (or Mr. George), plus the audio drama features Sean Astin, Kirk Cameron, Chris Anthony, Kelsey Lansdowne, and Jim Weiss, among many other talented voice actors. I found it interesting that Kirk Cameron's son also plays a role in the story.

The CD's themselves keep with the theme of the story as they are gray and blue, the colors of the Confederate and Union soldier uniforms. Under the CD's and informational pamphlet, you will find pictures of soldiers from the Civil War, along with the quote from Robert E. Lee that is included in the bonus features as a full-color poster. The pictures are a sepia color, except for the Confederate flag, which is shown in color. I also discovered that these pictures are actual images from the war and are included by courtesy of The Library of Congress. Such wonderful detail in just the packaging sure did whet my appetite for what was to come in the drama itself.

So, what exactly is this audio drama about? I would like to share a bit about that right now.

As the story opens, we are introduced to two teenage boys who meet up with Mr. George as they are running from the conductor on a train. Mr. George is meant to be G.A. Henty, and he is the one who is telling the story to the boys. The names of the boys are the same as the names of the main characters in the story being told. This is the same as it was in the previous dramas, though they are new boys, as Ned and Gerald must not have joined Mr. George on his trip from England to America. Instead, we are introduced to Vincent and Dan, who have found themselves on their own adventure.

The story the boys and the listener of the drama are being told, begins at a time of unrest in our country. States are seceding from the union and the south is rallying for war. Vincent is a teenage young man who is the heir to the Orangery plantation. He has befriended one of the slaves, Dan, who is being whipped as the story opens. We discover Vincent's sympathies for the slaves, and find that he has a kind heart. Though they own slaves, he can't stand to see them mistreated, going so far as stopping a neighbor from using excessive force on his slave, which of course is illegal. This event causes him some confusion, as he is called a hypocrite for having slaves himself.

Vincent's sympathies toward the slaves does play an important part in this story. His actions lead to circumstances that help to shape the way events unfold through the story. He enthusiastically joins the Confederate army to fight for states rights, along with his friends and neighbors. They spend grueling hours training for battle and are finally ready to fight against the Union forces. Battles are fought, God's will is sought, our hero finds himself injured, recovering and returning to battle only to wind up captured, then freed and on the run back home via a circuitous route. Through the non-stop action, we see a steadfast commitment to his duty and cause.  Nor does he sway from his personal commitment to Christ. In fact, reading the Bible daily helps him come to a life-altering decision at the end of the war.

As I mentioned, we have absolutely loved Heirloom Audio's previous releases. We have reviewed both Under Drake's Flag and In Freedom's Cause. However, With Lee in Virginia seemed to have more of an emotional pull on me. This is a story that is much more recent, and much closer to home. With the previous dramas, I didn't know the story behind the drama. Though the stories were brought to life in those CDs, something about knowing more about the Civil War (and the result of said war) made it even more real. To be able to look into the lives of important figures who fought for the south, a whole new level of understanding of the war has been opened for me. I loved learning how much Robert E. Lee struggled with his decision to resign from the United States army in order to take up arms and protect his "beloved Virginia"  It's details like this that truly aid in bringing this audio drama to life.

No audio drama can cover all of the events of the Civil war and this is no exception.  Only a couple of battles are covered in great detail and others are only mentioned in passing, or not at all. Instead of spending time talking about minute details of battles, this CD focuses on the "human" story and the cost of war.  Parents should be warned that there is an intense few minutes where Vincent loses 2 of his friends.  The voice acting is done so well that it really tugs at your heart strings.  Please be aware of how your young ones will react to such an emotional scene.

The children loved listening to "With Lee in Virginia" while on road trips or on a restful Sunday afternoon.  They were able to answer the study guide questions and it did occasionally spur further, age appropriate conversation. 

As you can see from the image above, the Study Guide provides simple, fact-finding questions in the Listening Well section, and then strives to dig deeper with the Thinking Further section. As the children are young, we focus on the Listening Well questions. We only spend a short amount of time going over the questions in one sitting, as the children get frustrated with having me stop the story. At this point, I am more concerned with making sure they are understanding what is going on in the story, and these discussion times help with that. We also discuss the Defining Words, or choose some of our own words to talk about. As the children get older, I can see the Defining Words being used for vocabulary exercises and sentence composition. Additionally, the Thinking Further Questions would make wonderful writing assignments.

In addition to the questions that focus on each track, you will find biographical information about G.A. Henty, General Robert E. Lee, and General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. There is also map work, 2 Bible studies, and a section with information about sectionalism and slavery in the Bible.

I asked the children what they liked about With Lee in Virginia, and this is what they had to say. Tabitha said her favorite part was "When Vincent is teaching Dan (one of the slaves at the orangery) how to read because he is reading the Bible and that is my favorite book."  Amelia, however likes "When Vincent tells Dan  that Lucy "likes to talk, and talk, and talk. And talk..."  shortly after she had a shotgun pointed at his head.  You'll have to listen to the audio drama yourself to hear how what happened with that one.  Trust me.  It's worth it.

As with Heirloom Audio's previous audio theater dramas, I highly recommend With Lee in Virginia. There is a lot of knowledge to be found amid this wonderful adventure.

You can find Heirloom Audio on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
With Lee in Virginia also has a Facebook page.

Don't forget to check out what my fellow Crew Mates have to say about With Lee in Virginia. Just click on the banner below.

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review
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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Throwback Thursday Blog-Style #58: July 30, 2015

Welcome back to... 

I know, I know, Throwback Thursday seems to be all about sharing pictures from the past, great memories that mean something to you, that you would like to share with others. At least that is how it appears to me. Throwback Thursday wasn't something I was participating in, and then I came up with an idea.

I thought it would be great fun and a help to my blog to share old content, but not just any old content. Each week I will share an old blog post from a previous year, any year, BUT it has to be from the current week (for example, something I've posted around July 30th, from any previous year)  I will go in, edit the post if needed, add a pinnable image if I don't already have one, and share it on Facebook.

Can you believe Throwback Thursday Blog-Style is a year old already? It doesn't seem possible. I have enjoyed reading everyone's posts from the past this year. It has also been great taking a stroll down memory lane on my blog. Would you join me for another year of great memories?

I have reviewed some great products in the past (and continue to do so). I thought it would be a neat idea to choose review posts this year and highlight some of these great products again.

Would you like to join in? You do not need to edit your past post in any way, you don't need to create a pinnable image, though it couldn't hurt, in fact it will help your blog traffic to add quality pinnable images to your posts.

Just go into your archives, choose a favorite post from this current week from any previous year, and link it up below. 

I will be pinning posts to my appropriate Pinterest boards and will be randomly selecting a Featured Throwback Thursday post to share next week. Just a note, I will be sharing a picture from your post if you are selected as the featured post, but I will link back to your post. I will ALWAYS give credit and link back. By linking up you are giving me permission to use your picture in the post. 

Here is my Throwback Thursday post:

Here is this week's randomly selected
Featured Throwback Thursday:

Leah from As We Walk Along The Road shared:

To participate, link up below. It would be great if you could visit several of the other posts that have linked up. Stop by, comment, and pin images so we can help each other.

If you would like to help spread the news:

Tots and Me
Happy Throwback Thursday!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday:July 29th, 2015 (w/linky)- Summer Reading Program Fun

I can't believe Summer Reading Program is coming to an end.
Here is a little look at the fun we have been having.
Playing with the Puppet Theatre at one program.

Learning about the Hellbender Salamander at the other before our picnic today.

Looking forward to seeing your Wordless (or not so wordless) Wednesday posts this week.

Tots and Me

Littles Learnng Link Up: Parts of a Flower Sunflower Craft (with instructions)

Welcome to Littles Learning Link Up. I apologize for the delay in posting this week. We got a new computer and I am still struggling to figure it out.

 Each month you will find:
  • A seasonal round-up (at the beginning of the month)
  • A guest post featuring crafts, activities, tips, snack ideas or other early childhood topics. (toward the end of the month)
  • Posts where I share what I have been up to with my preschoolers and/or early elementary children.
Each week, I will host a link up, where you can share either what you have been up to recently, or old posts that may go with the theme.  Feel free to link up more than one post.

Each week I will continue to feature a couple of posts from those that have been linked up. 

I hope you will continue to share your wonderful posts, and I hope you will find something new to try with your child.

It would be great for everyone to stop by and visit the other linked up posts as well. Check them out, leave some comments, pin those that interest you. Let's make this a real party and socialize with each other.

Parts of a Flower Sunflower Craft
We have spent the last several weeks learning about plants with the book, "Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers" by Susan Kilbride. This is one of our current review products from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, and I will be posting my review next week. For a culminating project, the children made a "Parts of a Flower Sunflower Craft."
Here are the materials you will need:

2 sheets of card stock
printout of a sunflower template (I found this one on Google images)
piece of brown felt cut lengthwise
brown construction paper circle, a little larger than circle in middle of flower template
green construction paper rectangle for stem
several green construction paper leaves (forgot to put them in the picture)
white glue
glue stick
white yarn
brown crayon
yellow marker
sunflower seeds


I started by taping the cardstock together (long side to long side) to make one tall piece of cardstock. Then I traced a faint line the height of the felt so the children could see where to color.
They colored the bottom section brown to represent the soil.

Then I taped the felt "top soil" over where they colored.

They "planted" one sunflower seed in the soil.

Then they cut up pieces of yarn to glue to the seed.

When it was dry, the flower started to grow. First a stem.

Then the leaves.

Then they added the flower. They colored it yellow and glued on the brown circle. Then the older children cut their flowers out, while I cut out the younger children's flowers.

They were glued to the top of the stem.

Finally, sunflower seeds were glued in the center of the flower.

Our finished project:

Now onto:
Littles Learning Link Up Features

On my last Littles Learning Link Up post, there were 11 wonderful posts linked up. I will be picking one randomly selected post to share, plus the top clicked-on post.  

This week's randomly selected post is: shared Stay Cool This Summer by Celebrating Christmas in July, written by Betsy McLeod. You will find some fun sensory activities for bringing the wonder of the Christmas season alive in July. 

The following posts tied for the most clicks:

Miss Steph from Signing With Miss Steph shared Life-Saving Bubbles (Part 1). You'll find 2 recipes for homemade bubbles here.

Kimberly from Natural Beach Living shared Montessori Inspired Music for Preschoolers. She even included free printables.

I would love to have you join in this week! What sort of activities do you do with your young children? Do you have some favorite activities you would like to share? I invite you to link up below. I will be pinning posts on my Toddler Ideas or other relevant board, and I would love to feature some of the activities each week from what is linked up.

Please know I may share a picture from your post and link back to it, along with sharing how we used your idea in our school time. By linking up you are giving me permission to use a picture from your post. I will ALWAYS give credit and link back. Additionally, if you choose to try out any of the ideas with your child, please make sure you give credit where credit is due.

Linky will be open through Sunday night, to give me time to check out all the posts and get the Features organized. Please take the time to visit some of the other wonderful posts linked up.


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