Monday, July 25, 2016

Beric The Briton by Heirloom Audio Productions {a TOS crew review}

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  ReviewWho doesn’t love a good audio drama! WE DO!  WE DO!!  Audio drama’s are not your average “audio book”.  They are stories coming to life like the old radio show days of yore and we love them!!!  So we were totes excited to find out that we would get to review Beric The Briton by Heirloom Audio Productions as part of the TOS Review Crew.                                                  Beric the Briton is based on the book Beric the Briton by G.A. Henty.  We love Henty books and have always enjoyed hearing them put to audio theatrics!  Beric the Briton is the story of the Roman Invasion of Great Britain. You will quickly be drawn into Beric’s life as he and his best friend Bodouc, are kidnapped, retrained as gladiators, and finally out into the employment of Emperor Nero himself!!  Along the way you see the work of The Holy Spirit in their lives as they come to new realizations about themselves, their past and how that weighs into their future.
Beric the Briton is recommended for kids ages 6 to adult.  You will get 2 ½ hours of listening adventure between the 2 cd’s. I received the physical CD set as well as a few special bonuses that come with the purchase of the family four pack package. Included in the bonuses is:
Beric the Briton MP3 download
Beric the Briton E-Book by G.A. Henty
official MP3 soundtrack
printable cast poster
50 page study guide and discussion starter
inspirational verse poster with the quote, “I will gladly die for Him who died for me”
unlimited access to the Live the Adventure Letter e-newsletter
fun behind-the-scenes videos of the cast creating Beric the Briton
     These bonus’ were super cool to have.  I am not really much of a “print it” person and we don’t do books on devices (I know I know but we are old school like that).  I did look at all the bonus material and ooh and aww.  I also did do some of the study questions with my kids but mostly we listened and colored.  If you were to work this into your history program though, the study guide would be a great resource! 

     It took us about 3 weeks to listen to the whole story.  We were listening in about 20 min blocks of time as, well, time would allow.  The kids were told that they could either sit and listen quietly or draw/color as they listened.  No problems there! 
     The story was an instant hit!  It was adventurous and engaging!  After the first “airing” there were cries of injustice when I turned it off!  They could not wait until the next time we would gather to listen. 

The production was very realistic, captivating and top quality. This was A+ rate for sure!  No “B rating” at all!  Everything from the music to the actors was just….. wonderful!  We wanted to listen!
Beric the Briton was a wonderful story for the whole family.  Along with the topnotch production, it’s simply a good book!  The character quality of “dying to self and living for Christ” resounded throughout. You all really should pick this one up!

Social Media Links:

Beric The Briton FB Page

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

Heirloom Audio Productions social pages




Instagram: @HeirloomAudioOfficial 

ENJOY more review from the TOS Crew!

Beric The Briton Heirloom Audio Productions  Review


Writing with Sharon Watson: A TOS CREW REVIEW


     Writing is something I LOVE!  In highschool I was not only in the AP honors English classes, but I also wrote for the school paper and was an avid poet.  My skills are somewhat less sharp these days but my love for written work remains.  
     My 2nd oldest daughter H15 is very much like me in these areas.  I was super excited when I found out that we/she would get to use and review The Power in Your Hands: Writing NonFiction in High School 2nd Edition from Writing with Sharon Watson.        
     H15 studies writing on her own and I find it hard to keep up with her in the area of finding her good curriculum/resources.  I had already heard a lot about Sharon Watson and knew H15g would be up for it!

The Power in Your Hands: Writing NonFiction in High School 2nd Edition

The Student Workbook and Teachers manual are both high-quality, glossy covered paperback books. The teachers manual is 223 pages and includes not only the weekly teaching instruction, but also how to grade and tips for you to help your student.  The student book has 396 application pages and 9 extra pages of toolbox help at the back.

There is a total of 7 parts that this writing book covers:
  1. Before You Write
  2. Persuasion
  3. Proofreading
  4. Exposition
  5. Description
  6. Narration
  7. Reference (toolbox)

     Within each Section are multiple chapters that teach the material.  The chapters are detailed and self-guided.  The chapters are full of not only writing styles, but also great “what-to-do/what-not-to-do” worked in so that the student is constantly learning practical things alongside the technical stuff.  Sprinkled throughout the book are personal little tips and famous quotes.  Those give a nice, friendly touch and breaks up the text in order to have things not “run together”.

     The student both writes in the book and has assignments outside of the book that can be done with paper and pencil or on a word processor.  H15g chose to do her assignments mainly through paper and pencil and then do final drafts on the computer.  This was her choice and her reasoning (I thought) was suberb!

     “The reason I do my assignments on paper and pencil is 3 fold.  1)There is a different connection between what you write and your brain when you are using paper and pencil.  I want that stimulation and connection.  2)I do not want the computer correcting everything for me.  I want to train my brain to find those mistakes and correct them.  3)I want good penmenship.  It might seem weird, but as a writer, I want to actual be able to “write” well.

     The Teacher’s Guide is a simple in format, clear in its directions and structured enough to give clear direction but open enough for one to teach without feeling like you are strictly reading a script.  I will be honest though, I didn’t “teach” this course to my girl.  I actually hate teachers manuals and any curriculum that comes with them I usually run from at a mad pace!  HOWEVER, with capable teens in the house that can teach themselves, I will get said curric and let them have at it.  This is what I did with H15g.  She read both books for the first few chapters and then used mainly just the Student Book but referred to the Teachers Guide as needed.  I spent time at length looking over both and then as we checked in every week, I revisited both books as well.

How We Actually Used it:

     H15g has finished up her freshman year as far as her social grade but is actually doing “Junior Year” work.  One thing we both loved about this curriculum was that it didn’t matter where you were at grade wise, it’s just good and easy to do!
     The way that we used this Writing NonFiction was easy for me- I gave it to her and she did it.  H15g is studious and self-propelled.  We would check in each week and have an open discussion over tea where she would share her thoughts, what she was learning, and her writings.  Win-Win!

H15g’s Thoughts:

     “I liked this writing course a lot! It was composed really well, easy to follow, and full of great information!  My main reason for wanting to do this course was to grow in my skills as a writer and to be challenged.  This course is definitely doing that!  I feel like the more I do, the more I improved in my skills as a writer.   I have noticed that my creative expressions are more rich and my style of writing is becoming more clear.  I feel like I am composing my works better and understanding how the mechanics of writing works in an applicable way. 
     My only negative with the program is that many of the chapters presented too much information at one time.  The first time this happened, I was sort of shocked.  The first 2 or 3 chapters (I can’t remember which off-hand) were perfect in the amount of information given and then I hit either the 3rd or 4th chapter and was just lost! I was having trouble comprehending all that they were giving me at one time.  I would read a ton of stuff and then do an assignment on what was presented at the very beginning of the reading material.  I would then have to go and re-read that section because I had forgotten what it was about.  This “information-heavy” lesson thing became more of a norm than not.   If each lesson was split in half, I think I would have liked it better.  To make it workable for me, that is exactly what I did.  It was easy enough to do, but would have been nice if it was already broken up that way.
     My favorite thing about this program is the way it was set up in general.  The chapters containing a lot of information did not take away from the clear-cut layout, easy to follow flow and clear directions.  I would recommend this program to both developing writers and those who would like to improve their skills.  There is something for everyone in there!   ~H15g ”


Also check out the other reviews by the Crew members of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

ArtAchieve - Level III (TOS Review Crew)

ArtAchieve - Level III (TOS Review Crew)

We love art in our home and are always excited when we get to review art curriculum.  This post is about our experience using the Entire Level III online art program from ArtAchieve.  
     Now, I will say that I was not exactly sure what I was getting.  We were offered 3 levels for the review (Although they offer 5 levels) and I couldn't find a clear description of the different levels from their website.  I volunteered for Level 3 because it was the highest level offered for the review.

     The Entire Level III package consists of 12 lessons.  They have a good variety (everything from basic drawing to foil work, and painting).  Your online membership is good for a full calendar year after purchase which allows you plenty of time to move through your art projects.  
The Chinese Horse project!
     Each lesson features an art project from a different country, includes some real visuals, links to online videos, drawing rules/warm ups/and clear instruction.   

       To access your lessons you simply login and click on "view your lessons".  This takes you to your lesson que.  The lessons can be in any format (usually at least 3) of wither download, online video, power point, etc.  Click on what you want, gather supplies and go!

Example of the lesson viewing options


Because all their lessons include animals from different areas, history on them, videos and encouragement to listen to music, it is VERY EASY to build a unit study around these lessons =)

For most of our lessons, we just did the power point option.  Most of the Level III lessons said "3rd grade on up" but some were higher.  I used this program on ALL 10 of my kids ranging from 6 years old to 16.  The older kids quickly figured out this was not their Level but my 6yr old-12yr old kids found it fun and on target!
     The two collage pictures here show some snippets of the "African Crowned Crane" lesson from their power point lesson option.  We also liked the video option (especially the younger kids) but the power point was easier to navigate with teaching so many at one time.  If I was to use this in a co-op setting, I would definitely use the power point!

     We did one lesson a week and with it being summer, we made an afternoon of it!  If I was to use this throughout the school year, I would prolly split it between 2 days with the lesson and warm up on one and the application on the other.

A10.11 and K12 adding finishing touches to two of their projects.
     I loved that the program was easy to use and had good, clear instruction.  The lessons were varied, did not require a lot of skill, were concise, and had great end results!

      The over-all consensus from the kids was "This is fun!" They approached each lesson with a good attitude.  I asked them what they liked the most about it and all of them said about the same things:
Kandinsky Color Mixing lesson
  1. easy to understand
  2. interesting subjects
  3. easy to follow
  4. liked the end results 

     I had my oldest daughter look over the program at length since she is the art expert in our home as well as doing the lessons.  Here is what she had to say:
F16 working on the Crane project.
     "ArtAchieve was a very interesting program. I liked the layout, and the idea's used for the tutorials. I felt like it was relatively simple and easy to follow, at the same time being intriguing. I felt like it captured the attention of the audiences to which it was directed. 
     I did think the "rubbing your hands together and placing them over your eyes" warm up was indeed unnecessary and weird.
      I did enjoy the wealth of information that was included in every lesson, talking about the history or interesting components related with the art lesson. Overall, I think that this program is very good for artist who wish to explore different mediums of art and gain some art experience."  

E and D creating and 2 finished projects from 2 of the older kids
     I thought she summed it up very well!  Overall, it was a solid art curriculum that gives good, clear instruction.  The online lessons made it easy to use and the website was easy to use.  The lesson's themselves gave us a wonderful art experience lesson!  

     Anyway, I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the things they created.  It was definitely a fun curriculum to review for all of us!  I also hope that you go and check out the ArtAchieve website and social media, and the TOS Crew reviews!

Art Lessons for Children ArtAchieve Review
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