Review: In the Reign of Terror by Heirloom Audio Productions

Review_Reign_of_TerrorThere’s nothing quite like a solid audio book for a long drive. During a recent road trip we had the privilege of reviewing G.A. Henty’s  In the Reign of Terror produced by Heirloom Audio Productions. Now, we’re hooked and can’t wait to share this enjoyable resource with you readers.

Heirloom Audio Productions is “passionate about bringing real history to life”. This is obvious by the great lengths they put into each production. Their vast audio collection includes such titles as Under Drake’s Flag, In Freedom’s Cause, With Lee in Virginia, and more. Our story, In The Reign of Terror, tells the story of sixteen-year-old Harry and his terrifying experience during the French Revolution. Harry is sent to France by his father to improve his education. While living with a Marquis and his family, Harry’s attachment to them increases even as he becomes more fearful of a growing threat towards them. Before long, citizen arrests begin and the household must flee for safety. What follows is a story of danger and adventure as the family attempts to save the king, free friends, and rescue family. Unfortunately, not everyone will make it out alive.

Having planned a long day-trip, this seemed the perfect opportunity listen to our audio book. We fueled up the SUV, popped in our disc, and prepared to enjoy. We were able to finish disc one of two on the drive down – approximately one and a half hours on the road – and the second on the drive home. Everyone in the family was present, making listening more fun. We discussed both story and overall impressions as we progressed through In The Reign of Terror.

Having listened to only a few audio books over the course of our learning, we looked forward to this new adventure. We were not to be disappointed. In The Reign of Terror is voice by an incredible cast including Brian Blessed, John Rhys-Davies, Jack Farthing, Cathy Sara, Christian Greater, and Jill Freud. The story itself is intriguing from beginning to end. We enjoyed it tremendously. Audio quality was superb. We can’t imagine this story being retold any better.

Our favorite part of the audio drama was both the opening and close of the tale. Here we were given a comparison of the French Revolution with our own American Revolution. Henty does an excellent job explaining how one was fought for independence, the other to usurp authority. One just; the other chaos.

In addition to the physical audio book, we were given access to “Live the Adventure Club“! Live_the_Adventure_ClubAs a member, we would have access to the Adventure Library which contains bonus content for all purchased audio books. We could view Educational Treasures such as Adventure Study Guides, The Crash Course on the Constitution Lecture Series, and much more. We may view parent resources, kid activities, and the community forum. Our favorite features were the Rare Early American & World Curriculum, the Old Time Radio Vault, and The Day in Henty History.

By choosing the “My Library Feature”, we were able to not only listen to our audio drama via this alternative medium, but view bonus materials. Bonuses included an original In The Reign of Terror e-book, the official soundtrack, a printable cast poster, inspirational verse Bonus_Materialsposters, and much, much more. One feature we were anxious to view was the Study Guide & Discussion Starter. The Study Guide gives a brief biography on G.A. Henty then proceeds to tell us of historical figures mentioned in the book. The Study Guide was broken down by tracks from the audio book discs. For each track, we were given “Listening Well” questions, “Thinking Further” queries, and “Defining Words” (vocabulary from our story). Throughout the Study Guide, we found “Expand Your Learning” panels which gave more background and depth to our tale. At the back of the Study Guide, we were given a list of resources for additional information on the French Revolution. The best pages, in our opinion, were the “Bible Study” at the end of the guide. Using the “Bible Study” we can search God’s Word for truths discussed in the audio book and share these Biblical concepts with our children. For those who wish to break down the Study Guide & Discussion Starter into chapter portions, viewers could select “Start the Adventure” from the “My Library” feature and begin! Start the Adventure breaks down the Study Guide by chapter, including Read-Along Script, Chapter Quiz, Thinking Further Questions, and Defining Words sections.Old_Time_Radio_Vault

We could continue listing the multitude of incredible resources to be found at Live the Adventure, as well as expound on the amazing audio dramas available at Heirloom Audio Production. There just isn’t enough room on this post or time in our day to do it justice. Suffice it to say we wish we had found this resource ages ago.

For now, we’re making up for lost time and enjoying In the Reign of Terror along with Live the Adventure Club. The next time we’re on a love drive, I know what we’re taking along to make the trip more enjoyable… Another G.A. Henty audio book from Heirloom Audio Productions!

If you’d like to learn more about In the Reign of Terror, Live the Adventure Club, or Heirloom Audio Productions please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Instagram! To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what Heirloom Audio Productions has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: Which is your favorite G.A. Henry novel?

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Review: Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit by ACTÍVA Products

Review_ACTIVAIf your family is anything like ours, you go through a multitude of crafting supplies throughout the course of your learning year. It can be hard to know which products will meet your family’s need and work for small hands. An opportunity to review Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit by ACTÍVA Products has helped us explore creative possibilities and learn a few new skills.

Established in 1959, ACTÍVA is a worldwide producer of instant paper mache, Rigid Wrap. They also produce other crafting products such as CelluClay Quik-Scultping Kits, Fast Mache, and more. For the purpose of this review, ACTÍVA graciously gifted our family with a Quik-Sculpting kit which included two packages of Rigid Wrap and a package of CelluClay. Rigid Wrap is a cloth gauze covered in plaster, used for sculpting with an even-textured finish. CelluClay Quik-Scultping Kits take the mess out of paper mache; just add water and you’re ready to go.

Our family used Rigid Wrap to create three projects. Our first project was a Painted Pumpkin; the second Bold Beads; and the third was a cast of a bud vase. The first two projects were found in the pamphlet included in our Quik-Sculpting Kit. A full-color version of the free ACTÍVA Products’ Favorite Sculpture KIDS CRAFTS may be downloaded online at the website, where it can be found along with many other helps. The third project was one of our own making. We also used CelluClay to create a topographical map of our home state of California. This was another self-guided project.

Working with Rigid Wrap was a breeze. The gauze material merely needed to be dipped in warm water and it was ready for use. While constructing our pumpkin and bud vase, we found the Rigid Wrap simple to use and most effective. This was much faster and cleaner that traditional paper mache. We had greater difficulty when using Rigid Wrap to make our beads. The material was bulky and rough to work with. However, we were able to ACTIVA_Kit_Contentsaccomplish our task after several tries.

Using CelluClay was a tad more challenging. Instructions were not included in our kit, thus we needed to find them online on the ACTÍVA website. There basic steps were given, but it took several tries to get the mixture right. We were finally able to create our topographical map, although the material was still more wet than was probably best. We will need to work on this in the future.

Our projects were quickly created, no one activity taking longer than thirty minutes to be constructed. Our beads dried very quickly, which was not surprising given their size. Our bud vase took approximately eight hours to dry. The pumpkin twelve hours. The topographical map around twenty-four hours. Instructions were given for a quick dry method, using our home microwave, but we did not choose this option; we chose to air dry.

After our projects were dry, we were ready to decorate and paint. But, we ran into a few challenges. Our beads were good to go, but next time we will need to smooth them out more for a sleeker look. Our pumpkin was excellent, simple from beginning to end. Our topographical map was quite lumpy; something to smooth out in the future, but it did the job nicely. Our bud vase was a complete failure. Instructions advised us to wrap our original object with syran wrap to assist with easy removal and protect the piece; then use Rigid Wrap to cast the object, being careful not to cover lips of the opening which would prevent the cast from being removed. We had chosen a straight vase and followed the Painted_Pumpkin_ACTIVAsteps carefully, but found the cast absolutely impossible to remove from the original vase. We finally had to call it a loss, tossing the entire project – glass vase and all – in the trash. Thankfully the vase was inexpensive and easy to replace.

Altogether, we found working with Rigid Wrap to be not only fun but simple to use. While we are a little disappointed our bud vase didn’t come out, we are not discouraged. I’m sure the error was on our part, somewhere, and we will revisit this again to perfect our methods. We found the packages included in the kit allowed us more than enough material to complete our projects, and left additional material for future creative endeavors. CelluClay proved less enjoyable, but to be fair this is not a preferred crafting medium for us. The materials provided were sufficient for the task, but more experience is needed to make the best use of this product. It is our opinion the Quik-Sculpting Kit may be enjoyed by children ages 5+, being simple to use and manageable for small hands.

Being able to review these creative products by ACTÍVA has been fun. We’ve had the opportunity to explore unfamiliar mediums and learn new skills. If you’d like to learn more about Rigid Wrap and CelluClay Quik-Sculpting Kit or ACTÍVA Products please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

To read helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into what ACTÍVA Products has to offer, please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: How often is paper mache used in your homeschool craft room?

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Review: Fascinating Chemistry

Review_Fascinating_Chemistry

A new school year equals a new study in the field of science. This year we’re focusing our attention on chemistry and we can’t think of a better time to review Fascinating Chemistry by Fascinating Education.

Fascinating Education is an audio-visual approach to teaching science. Fascinating Education offers courses in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Medicine, and Atoms & Molecules. Fascinating Education is presented by Dr. Sheldon Margulies, The Fascinator, a retired neurologist who uses his life experience and expertise to help students learn. Fascinating_Chemistry_1

Fascinating Chemistry is a series of nineteen lessons which include a video, a script of the lesson and a lesson test. Each video is approximately 45 minutes in length. Videos are complete with menu and glossary, allowing the student to better follow the outline of each lesson. Students are also able to use the helpful menu feature to revisit areas which need strengthening without the hassle of scrubbing through an entire session. Lesson Scripts are an exact wording of the video lessons, including images. Several lessons contain links to lab activities for students to enjoy. Tests are given as multiple choice slide-presentations, with question helps for those who need them. After taking tests, students are able to review their test, print their test, and/or retake their test if needed. PDF versions of tests Fascinating_Chemistry_2are available. Test scores are not kept online, thus should be printed if so desired. Lesson topics include The Structure of the Atom, The Ionic Bond, The Covalent Bond, and more.

Fascinating Chemistry includes nineteen lessons total. Our family found it beneficial to break down these lessons into smaller sections, working through each lesson at a slower pace for greater understanding, rather than viewing an entire lesson in one sitting. We found the videos simple to follow and our narrator, The Fascinator, easy to understand. The lessons were clear and well laid out. The occasional labs are fun and appealing to kids.

It is our opinion Fascinating Chemistry may be used in a homeschooling setting with highFascinating_Chemistry_4 school, junior high, and/or upper level elementary students. The lessons are easy to follow and understand. Labs are equally simple. As the entire curriculum consists of only nineteen lessons, we would highly recommend breaking down the given lessons into smaller, half lessons to stretch the curriculum to fill an entire school year.

Chemistry is the name of the game for the year. We’ve just begun our adventure and are enjoying the hands-on application of all we’re learning. With the help of Fascinating Chemistry this will be a lovely journey. Now if I could only explain to my children chemistry experiments do not all need to consist of blowing things up or overflowing crucibles of foaming chemicals.

If you’d like to learn more about Fascinating Chemistry, as well as Fascinating Education, please visit them at their website. To read additional helpful reviews like this one, and gain more insight into the Fascinating Chemistry please visit The Homeschool Review Crew!

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Your Turn!: Which area of science are you studying this year?

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