Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A TOS Review: Great Expectations Study Guide

One of the earliest classics I read was David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Of course, it whet my whistle for more Dickens. I’ve tried to expose Josiah to some of Dickens’ favorites. Recently, I got a chance to review the Great Expectations E-Guide from Progeny Press.



Personally, I don’t think that students our exposed to enough of the great works. And even if they do read a classic it’s in just bits and pieces. Great Expectations is full of all the wonderful components that make it a great classic.

A young boy, Pip, lives with his sister and her husband, Joe. Now Joe is a kind soul…whereas his sister is a piece of work. One night, while visiting his mother’s grave, Pip is accosted by a criminal on the lam. Pip helps this criminal, but later he is captured and put on a prison ship.

So it begins. We are introduced to memorable characters. Miss Havishim is one of those tragic Dicken’s characters who frankly gives me the willies. I won’t give the whole plot away because I want to talk to you about Progeny Press’s E-Guide.



This E-Guide is intended for High School students. It is 72 pages and comes in an interactive PDF file. The interactive features allows students to type their answers into the document itself. The whole study is supposed to take around 8-10 weeks. We are told that going through one of these guides constitutes ¼ High School Credit. It wouldn’t be too difficult to complete 4 in a school year (Progeny Press has a variety of choices) to earn a full High School credit.  I also received an Answer Key (PDF file) which is pretty handy to have around.

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy these interactive guides for Josiah because it lessens the stress of handwriting. He is dyslexic and has dysgraphia.  Generally, for novels like Great Expectations I will read it aloud or (my favorite) find a good audio version.

This guide starts with an overview, as well as a brief synopsis of the book. It has some great information about Charles Dickens, who is a fascinating character in my opinion. Also included is background information about the time period this book was written or set. For example, the Industrial Revolution gave the rise to the Middle Class in Great Britain and around the world. The Upper Class in the story come across as foolish and irrelevant in changing society.

There are also suggested pre-reading activities. They will appeal to a variety of interests. Josiah has expressed interest in the activity that involves researching blacksmithing.

The E-Guide then follows the story and helps the student navigate the book by breaking it down through a variety of activities.

Each section covers:
·         vocabulary
·         general comprehension questions
·         discussion and critical thinking questions
·         literary terms and analysis
·         "digging deeper" 

·         optional activities - writing, creating, and research ideas.

One of my favorite sections is the Digging Deeper portion. Progeny Press is a Christian company and I love that Scripture is used to put things into context. I love that! This isn't just an answer a few questions about the story...it really challenges the student! 


Another part of the guide I appreciate is one you will find with no other novel. After all, this book is called Great Expectations. The guide helps the student think about those expectations in every lesson. 


There are plenty of other activities that will help keep your student challenged and always engaged. 

Your actors, artists, writers, researchers and history enthusiasts will enjoy the projects listed in the Final Projects and Essays portion. There is also an overview that can count as the student's final. 

The Great Expectations E-Guide is a thorough and thoughtful study. I wouldn't expect anything less from Progeny Press. This link will take you to a sample of the guide. I know you will be impressed! 

You can read more reviews by clicking the banner below. 



Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cousin Camp: Giants!

Today I'm going to post Day 2 of our Cousin Camp pictures. 

This the deal, folks. We are leaving in vacation in just a little over 2 hours and I have at least 4 hours of stuff I need to get done. 

So what is a girl to do? She procrastinates by piddling around on her blog. 

That's the way I roll. 

Again. I am about to lay down a ridiculous amount of pictures. You must remember that most of these children have parents, grandparents and the odd relative who enjoy seeing their progeny live it up in the wilds of the Missouri countryside. 

Day 2 was Giants Games. Our Dragon Quest took us to Giant land. We enjoyed a cooking school class in the morning (it was raining and Ama had to take an ailing camper to the doctor). The kids made an old family recipe. Hot Fudge Pudding Cake. Yummo. 

We worked on our shields after lunch and left the Giant Games for after supper when it was cooler, dryer and Cousin #1 wasn't at work. 

Earlier in the the Cousins received this little riddle. 



Later they were given these instructions. 


Yes. Mom wrote the little riddles. I think she must have a jingle going on in her head 24/7. This game came to me in one of my crazy creative modes. Basically, the knight rolls the dice. They must chose a card from the bucket that corresponded with the number they rolled. For example, rolling a one would take to the blue bucket. They chose a card. Either the card will give them a task to perform or it will tell them that they have recovered the remains of one of the knights that have disappeared. Quite grisly, don't you think? We aim to please.  Another little thing. Each task also has to be performed a corresponding flag. You will see how it all works in a minute. We played this game forever. Cousin #8 asked to play it EVERY SINGLE DAY. 


This group is looking as confused as you are. What did you just say? 


The buckets. Found at The Dollar Tree for 2/$1. The dice we ordered from Amazon.


The flags.

I'm not sure what Cousin #8 got here. Yawn? Do your best fish impersonation?


I do know that Cousin #3 got this one his first go around.


This was a big step for Cousin #3. He would rather you believe he's not even there. I'm not convinced he sang the song "loudly"...


Cousin #7 had to wink her left eye 10 times. That takes talent, my friends.


Cousin #4 (my progeny) performed this task with finesse. Even the cat thought so.



Woowie! Cousin #1 "found" the remains of one of the lost knights.


And another find for Cousin #3! Plus a nice "Vanna" like display by Cousin #5.


This task involved rolling. Obviously.


This could have been sing the first verse of your favorite song loudly, but if I remember correctly Cousin #6 had to say something in a foreign language. Which she did with style.


This one involves a little explanation. Cousin #4 actually drew "Be Scissors." Yes. This is his interpretation of scissors. Which are of Egyptian design. This was quite the joke the rest of cousin camp.


Can you pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time? Cousin #5 can.


Now, I can't remember what Cousin #7 was asked to do here (we played this game FOREVER). There was the much-loved "Cry like a pirate" card in play. What do you think? Does she look like a sad pirate?


Or does Cousin #2 look like a sad pirate? Hard to tell.


I think Cousin #6 drew the "Wiggle your nose card."


Now there is a little story with this picture. Cousin #3 (who is very cool) drew the "Do the Chicken Dance" card. The Cousins had to encourage him from afar. This, my friends, is a Chicken Dance flash mob.


Cousin #3 was appreciative.


Another wiggling nose?


Whatever is being done here by Cousin #4 is being done with enthusiasm.


The "Wiggle your nose" card was in play quite often.

Cousin #2 drew the "Hug the nearest tree" card. He did so with gusto.


The little one had to act like a monkey. I think she had it down!


Uh-oh! The "Remove one article of clothing" card!



 Not sure what is going on here. Whatever it was it was funny.


I promise we take this boy to the dentist every 6 months!


Sometimes you just have to hug yourself.


Or hug a tree.

At the end of the evening, the cousins gave a repeat "Chicken Dance" performance for Papa.


Then took their teeth back home.


More pictures soon! I need to get my toothbrush packed! 


A TOS Review: Beric the Briton

My love for audio books is no secret. Another audio product that we adore is the audio drama. In an audio drama, the listener is treated to performances by a variety of actors. There are fantastic music and sound-effects. Some of our favorite audio dramas come from Heirloom Audio Productions. Recently, we had the opportunity (and privilege) to review Beric the Briton.




G.A. Henty is a British historical adventure novelist (among other things). He lived in the 1880’s and is famous for providing fabulous stories for young readers. Heirloom Audio has taken some of Henty’s most exciting works and adapted them into riveting audio dramas.

In Beric the Briton, we are taken back into the time of the Roman Empire. Beric is a young chief of his tribe. He is taken prisoner and eventually finds himself as a Roman gladiator.  This story takes place during the time of Nero (who you might remember ‘fiddled while Rome burned’) so there is plenty of intrigue. 

More than the historical elements of the story, we also learn about forgiveness and loving your enemy. Beric comes to know Christ as his savior and, while he is not asked to lay down his life, there are others who die for the cause of Christ.

This product is recommended for ages 6 to adult. I received a set of two CD’s. The story runs well over two hours and provides lots of listening time for the car!

I also received a few bonuses, as well. They include:


  • Beric the Briton MP3 download
  • Beric the Briton E-Book by G.A. Henty
  • The official MP3 soundtrack
  • A printable cast poster
  • A 50 page study guide and discussion starter
  • An inspirational verse poster with the quote, “I will gladly die for Him who died for me”
  • Live the Adventure Letter e-newsletter
  • Behind-the-scenes videos of the cast creating Beric the Briton

We primarily listened to the CD and watched the fun behind-the-scenes videos, but the study guide is a terrific way to make the whole listening experience into an educational event. Included in the study guide is a biography of G.A. Henty. Some of my favorite reading were the biographies of Nero and Queen Boadicea.  The study guide also provides vocabulary guides and opportunity for deeper conversations. I have always found the study guides accompanying Heirloom Audio products to be top-notch and this one was no exception.

My Thoughts

If you have read any of my Heirloom Audio reviews before you have to know that we are super fans. These are productions that Josiah will ask to listen to again and again. Beric the Briton lived up to our expectations. The actors are superb. The music is inspiring.

Can you tell we liked it just a little bit?

I do have a funny story to tell concerning the actors. One of Josiah’s favorite actors is John Rhys Davies. After all, he was the sidekick to Indiana Jones and part of the Fellowship of the Ring. You can’t get any more awesome than that.

This time around, Mr. Davies, was part of the crew. But….so was Tom Baker. If you are a Doctor Who fan you will recognize that name instantly. Tom Baker is the voice of my childhood. He was Doctor Who when I was introduced to the Doctor Who universe. He is marvelous in this production.

When I was telling my husband (also known as The Muffin) about Beric the Briton, I excitedly proclaimed “Doctor Who is in it!” He gave me a strange look, but said nothing as I pushed the CD into the player. After listening for a while, he said “why would Doctor Who be in a story about the persecution of Christians and when does he show up?”

Poor guy. I should have been more specific.

I do need to tell you that there are several scenes that are really intense. This was real life for many and the experiences of war and persecution are not light and fluffy.

The story is brilliant at bringing home the necessity of forgiveness and living a full life for Christ. We are all called to proclaim the name of Jesus. Beric the Briton reminds us that if often comes with a cost.


You can connect with Heirloom Audio via the following social media outlets. 

Beric The Briton FB Page

https://www.facebook.com/BericTheBriton


The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty series FB page

https://www.facebook.com/TheExtraordinaryAdventuresOfGAHenty


Heirloom Audio Productions social pages

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeirloomAudio

Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeirloomStories 

Google+: https://plus.google.com/b/114534826166314080647/114534826166314080647  

Instagram: @HeirloomAudioOfficial 

Don't  forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews! 




Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cousin Camp: Knight Boot Camp


I know you've been waiting for this. So here it is.

And since I'm about to bombard you with loads of reviews, I thought I would make it simple and post my favorite pics (at least from Day 1 of Cousin Camp) with limited commentary.

At least, we can only hope.

I need to warn you that there are a ridiculous number of pictures in this post.

You are welcome.

Because this day was devoted to Knight Boot Camp (not to be confused with Knight Booty Camp), we gathered several training tasks for our knights to complete.

Before I get started, I want to let you know that any strange structure you might see on the farm is probably a chicken house. They are portable so you never know where they might wind up. The chickens are moved every couple of days to enjoy a new patch of grass.

Moving on.

This activity is The Javelin Throw through a fiery hole. Don't judge my fiery hole, folks. That fire was the best I could do. It was hot!


Yes. The Javelins resemble pool noodles. You don't think we would give this crew actual javelins, do you? 


If you look closely you will see that Cousin #3 was just millimeters from slicing Cousin #8's ear off.  Ouch.


Our knights didn't have a whole lot of success with this activity...only two of them actually got the javelin through the fiery hole. It also must be said that one of those cousins (Cousin #6) enjoys the hobby of archery.


This Cousin (Cousin #5) used to be a gymnast and attempts some kind of Double Layout with her javelin.


Sooo Cute! I have to watch myself with Cousin #8. According to her, I (Aunt Beke) never say no. She could be right.


This was the blind horse race. Actually, the horses weren't blind (or really even horses, for that matter). The object was to ride your horse (wearing a blindfold) to the finish line.



Poor horse.



It's harder than it looks. Especially when Cousins #3 and #4 are holding the finish line and instructed (by their grandmother) to move about the yard while Cousins #1 and #2 ride off in to the sunset. You really had to be there.


This game required the Knights to toss rings over the horns of unicorns, which were basically foam cones glued to bike helmets from The Thrift Store.


This little one (Cousin #8) found it much easier just to make friends with the unicorn.


Sweet little unicorns.


Cousin #8's cheating ways were not unobserved.

Cousins #3 and #4 took notice.


I need to tell you a little bit about other activities on that first day. The Knights were given the opportunity to adopt a dragon. 


They also received their tunics and swords.


They also were challenged with the Knight Boot Camp Taste Test. I had a huge silver goblet with all of these wonderful items listed. They had to chose one and accept the challenge. Let's just say there were a few surprises.


Lastly, they created their helmets. I do need to say that Cousin #1 helped several cousins create their helmets and then went on to spend at least 2 days fashioning her own. It is quite epic and I'll be sure to point it out when I show you the final pictures.



Supper was sliders made out on the grill and then we headed outside for fireworks.

Cousin #6 is obviously dressed for a summer evening.


What I did notice when going through the pictures was that Mom took a lot of the pond and smoke.


There were some of the children.




And a few of my son walking through the smoke...I did take some video, but my windows movie maker is cussing at me right now. There is some good stuff there.


We did have some nice fireworks toward the end of the night. We finished off the night with smores and a few showers. Probably not enough showers. But that's the way it goes.


 I'll try and post Day 2 pics in the next few days. We are leaving tomorrow evening for Indiana !




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