Friday, October 31, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Jim Hodges Productions #hsreviews

Jim Hodges Productions Review

If you've visited with us very often, you know that we are big fans of both Audio Books and Audio Dramas. I grew up reading books along with my little red record player -- you know the one?  It played those 45 single vinyl records and there was usually a little bell tone that reminded me to turn the page.  I think that began my love for all things audio and I shared it with my children when they were little as we listened to books on tape together when we travelled back and forth across town or out of town on our visits to grandparents.

The technology has definitely changed.  We have continued our "audio school" enjoyment and listened to some literary classics last year for Book Club.  This year we've become fans of G.A. Henty's high adventure tales (I know, I know . . . what took us so long?).   We have all enjoyed getting to know his heroic characters through audio productions and want to make sure that you have been introduced to them as well.  Jim Hodges Productions is a great way to introduce your family to the Henty novels. Jim Hodges records these historical novels in an attempt to encourage boys in their walk with CHRIST and inspire them to become Men of Valor.  Hodges knows that children need heroes and he offers them through the stories of action and adventure.

I allowed the Eagle Scout to choose which Henty adventure we'd journey onto next, and he chose a story that fits right in with our current history studies.  He surprised me with his first choice pick of Beric the Briton:  The Story of the Roman Invasion ($25 for the MP3 CD or $18 for the Digital Download) because I just knew he'd want to start with a Civil War tale.  There are Henty stories that cover most historical events and time periods.  His choice for us was perfect and we have enjoyed listening to it daily. Isn't it cool when you can add extras that complement school studies so well?

Jim Hodges Productions offers high quality audiobooks on mp3 CDs that present crisp, clear sound and soothing narration. The cd sounds great in our xBox, on our computer, and in my husband's truck (But don't try to play it in your 15-year-old van that's way behind the technology times.  This is a computer CD so will play in any computer compatible player). The Henty stories are most appropriate for students ages 10 and up and my 8th and 10th graders are enjoying the added element that they bring to school studies.

Beric the Briton tells the exciting story of the Roman Invasion in AD61 through the eyes of man who would become leader of the Britons.  Sent to the Romans as a young boy, Beric infiltrates the Roman way while refusing to become "romanized."  Beric the Briton takes the reader/listener on numerous adventures as Beric fights against the Roman.  Students follow along as Beric exploits his knowledge to remain true to himself and bring honor to his home as a hero to his people.  This unabridged reading of the original Henty story provides students the opportunity to listen and/or read along word for word.  I was even able to download the original book to our Kindles so that we could both see AND hear the words come to life.  The 21 Chapters have a total runtime of 13 hours, 19 minutes with chapters playing between 35 and 55 minutes each.  For us, this means listening to one chapter at a time and discussing it before moving on to the next chapter.

In addition to the Beric the Briton CD, we also received the accompanying Study Guide in PDF format ($12).  This 62-page guide is simply superb.  Broken down by chapter, students define vocabulary words (anywhere from 5 -35 words, depending on the chapter), answer discussion questions designed to insure comprehension (5 or 6 questions per chapter), and complete hands-on activities where they sketch clothing designs, construct architectural models, watch related videos, and even cook authentic meals.  Each chapter has 2 - 3 activity choices that help bring the audio book to life.  My children enjoy the hands-on aspect -- especially taste testing and model building.  I like the vocabulary and short answer sections because they help make sure that my children are actively listening as Mr. Hodges reads aloud.  The Study Guide includes 4 Quizzes (one every 5 or 6 chapters) and Answer Keys for all the Chapter Guides and Quizzes.  As an added benefit, you are welcome to make copies of the Study Guide for each immediate family member so each student has their own.

We have used the Study Guide in conjunction with Beric the Briton as a literary unit at Long Leaf Academy.  As they listened to each chapter, the Princess and the Eagle Scout were able to make notes about the vocabulary words.  At the conclusion of the chapter, they answered the discussion questions separately and then chose an activity to complete based on their individual preferences.  For example, in Chapter 11 the Eagle Scout enjoys studying weaponry while the Princess prefers creating mosaics. There is something here to appeal to the learning style of all students.  I like that I can offer fun reinforcements for history.

You can connect with Jim Hodges Productions and find out more information on Facebook
and YouTube.  And don't forget to sign up for the email list (found under the @ sign on the lefthand side of the website) to find out the latest information about sales, new titles, and special promotions. Join with me in making sure that our children have heroes worth emulating.

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Beric the Briton:  The Story of the Roman Invasion as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other audiobooks as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Clued In Kids #hsreviews

Clued In KidsReview

I love a puzzle.  I've always enjoyed word searches and finding hidden pictures.  I like to search through clues and figure stuff out.  I especially love a good treasure hunt.  And I don't think it's ever too early to celebrate the holidays.  How about you?  Our Children's Worship theme for the next few weeks is all about Christmas.  Yes, I know it's only October, and Thanksgiving is yet to arrive, but we're jumping heartfirst into Christmas as we prepare for the arrival of JESUS and what better way to introduce a new theme than a treasure hunt?  Clued in Kids Treasure Hunts offer fun for all ages. We had such fun using both the Thanksgiving Printable Treasure Hunt ($5.99) and the Christmas Treasure Hunt Gift in a Greeting Card ($9.95) with children and middle schoolers at church that they are all asking when we get to do the next one.

I could tell from the moment this cute treasure box arrived in my mailbox that the kids were going to enjoy this activity.  How could they not enjoy it?  Presentation is everything and the treasure chest envelope was super-fun.  Can't you just imagine getting one of these addressed to you?  How fun is this?  Suitable for children ages 4 and up and written so that it is easily enjoyed by up to 10 children, I was excited to get started with the Christmas Treasure Hunt Gift in a Greeting Card.  Since I knew I'd be using it with a small group of energetic children, I laminated each clue card for extra durability. 

This is absolutely the easiest activity to set up.  The bottom of each of the 12 clue cards tells you exactly where to place them so that your hunters can find them.  It's really super-simple as all of the work is done for you.  It took less than 10 minutes to set up this special hunt for the children, and the Middle Schoolers were thrilled to get in on the action by setting up the clues for me.  Because we were doing the hunt in a group setting at church and not at home, there was a little bit of improvisation to make, but it worked.  My 6th, 7th, and 8th graders were quick to read the clue and figure out the best place inside the church to hide each one so that the children could figure out where to look.  
The first clue
They LOVED it -- and I loved watching children of all ages work together as a team.  It was tons of fun watching the older children read clues to the younger children and help them discover answers for themselves.  I was so very proud of them all for making sure that everyone was included and got a turn "leading" the group to a clue.  

older and younger working together -- warms my heart
On the hunt together
It was easy to tweak the clues from a home setting to a church setting.  The children knew that toothpaste should be in the bathroom (they just had to figure out which bathroom we'd hidden the next clue in) and they knew that babies wear pajamas a lot (which sent them to the toddler room to look  in the baby doll's bed for that clue).  They sang Christmas carols to the ladies in the nursery and gave a big belly laugh right outside the back door.  We placed clues from one end of the church to the other so the children were constantly going from side to side.  It was an exercise in being quiet while roaming through the halls remembering that the adults were in the Sanctuary.  

Caroling for our "neighbors"

Truly a great time was had by all -- and no one complained about our giggles in the hallway.  The final clue led the children to a "tree" by the door and their prize awaited them there.  Miniature nativity puzzles to color and take home brought our lesson full-circle as we remembered that JESUS is our true TREASURE.  This is definitely a night that won't soon be forgotten.  

Coloring the Prize

When the Middle Schoolers helped me place all of the Christmas Treasure Hunt clues for the children, they asked when they would get to do a treasure hunt of their own.  Lucky for them, I received the Thanksgiving Printable Treasure Hunt -- a downloadable PDF for ages 4 and up. The set up for it was just as easy for the Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt as had been for the Christmas Treasure Hunt.  I simply printed the files, cut the clues apart, and hid away.  Used in conjunction with our annual Pumpkin Smash, we talked about being thankful in ALL things at ALL times.

Filled with historical facts, math problems that direct you to your next clue, and jokes to help you decipher clues, the Thanksgiving Treasure Hunt was a hit.  Who says middle schoolers are too cool for fun and games?  They even enjoyed gobbling like the turkeys they are as they were reminded that the key to a great Thanksgiving isn't just the turkey and the trimmings, but that it all comes back to JESUS.

We had a great time sharing laughs and running like crazy to the next clues.  All of the kids and students are still talking about our big treasure hunts and can't wait until we do another one.  I'd call that SUCCESS.

For further information, you can view this quick video that explains how Clued In Kids works and check out the Social Media links below:


Join the fun and get "Clued In" today.  There are hunts for all occasions, sports, holidays, and memory-building.  Children learn as they play and exercise their brains as they laugh.  A 10-minute set up for an hour or more of  focused treasure?  This is a definite YES.  What could be better than that?  Your children will thank you.

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Clued in Kids Treasure Hunts as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other treasure hunts as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Field Trip Fun #beayesmom

It was a fun day of fine arts and great food.  Our very first production of the year was the play All the Way at New Stage Theatre.  After viewing the political thriller, we headed over to southern landmark Brent's Drugs for lunch and had a great time.  Brent's Drugs is an old timey drug store that's been converted into a 50's diner.  What a neat atmosphere following a trip to the theatre.  The food was delicious, the company superb.  I highly recommend both New StageTheatre  and Brent's Drugs to you on your next trip to Jackson, MS.

Our traditional picture

Tradition plus friends

Lunch at Bren'ts Drugs

Sweet treats after our meal

Mean Ole Aunt Jane

All in the Family


Another great day of fun (with a little learning thrown in for free).  This day has GREAT potential.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Anthem for a Nation (New Liberty Videos) #hsreviews

If MY people, which are called by MY name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek MY face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.                                                          2 Chronicles 7:14

New Liberty Videos Review

We finished up our studies of American history last year.  It was a beautiful reminder to me of what our forefathers were thinking when they were working and putting our nation together.  I love sharing the stories of how God ordained our nation with my children and look for resources that allow us to continue learning and discussing who we as a nation have been and who we should strive to be.   The Anthem for a Nation DVD is such a resource.

We recently were given the opportunity to watch and review Anthem for a Nation ($19.95) by New Liberty Videos.  Beginning with the majestic rendition of This Is My Country and the opening pictures of scenery from across America, we were spellbound for the entire 42 minute run-time. 

New Liberty Videos Review

I love America.  I love our flag and standing at attention as it passes by.  I love placing my hand over my heart when we rise to sing our national anthem.  I'm proud of our heritage as a nation and pray that we will again turn and bow before GOD and put HIM first in all that we do.  It is important to me that my children understand patriotism and appreciate the sacrifices that so many have made for America.  Anthem for a Nation  helps explain this history and offers a glimpse of hope in dark days.  Before our review copy arrived, my Princess (the 8th grader) and I watched the 2-minute trailer shared below together.   We agreed then that we NEEDED to see the full movie.  (You can also  view a 15-minute preview of this video to see for yourself what an impact this film will make on your family.)


Anthem for a Nation is suitable for a general audience, but I suggest previewing it first so that you will be prepared to discuss it with your family.    I shared it with my 8th and 10th graders during school and with the middle schoolers (6th, 7th, and 8th graders) at church.  For our family, there was absolutely nothing about it that I felt my children couldn't see.  At church, I used it as the background for a Bible study series.  The students were spellbound as we watched history unfold from a Christian perspective.  (I even had adult volunteers call me the next day to ask more about the film and where they could get a copy to share with others.)  The discussion of our nation's founding on Christian principles and the proof of that found in the physical layout of Washinton, D.C. was powerful.    The illustration of the war on life through abortion left us in stunned silence with tears streaming down our faces.  I firmly believe that we need to see and hear truth -- and I prefer that my children see and hear truth with me so that we can discuss it together.

A few years ago I was privileged to visit New York City.  I sailed around the Statue of Liberty with a lump in my throat.  I walked the great, vast halls of Ellis Island in silence as I listened to the stories of immigrant families arriving in America.  I wept openly as I touched the deep scars left on hard wooden pews from firefighter's equipment as they slept on pews in St. Paul's Chapel of Trinity Church just a few blocks away from where the Twin Towers had once stood.  All of those raw emotions come rushing back to me as I watch Anthem for a Nation.  What a legacy we have.  Let us be the people that pray and humble ourselves and seek GOD's face.

As much as we have enjoyed viewing and discussing Anthem for a Nation and sharing it with others, I would be remiss if I didn't mention one issue that I had with the sound in a portion of the video. During some video segments, the audio is artifacted and compressed, producing a very uneven tone. I have no idea what was going on as I played two separate videos on three different machines with the same results.   The bottom line is that the video is beautiful and in the narration segments the audio is perfect.

I have been deeply touched as I watch Anthem for a Nation and have learned remarkable things about America's founding.  Filled with scripture and patriotism, this documentary-style video tugs at your heartstrings and reminds you to pray without ceasing that we will indeed be found faithful.  New Liberty Videos offer Christian videos that change lives now and eternally and we look forward to viewing more in our home.

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Anthem for a Nation as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other videos as well (or just click on the banner below.)

Click to read Crew Reviews
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Scripture & a Snapshot: Gathering Together

Knowing HE is with us as we gather together,

I'm joining with my friend Jennifer over at a glimpse of our life as we give glory to GOD through our photos.  
Scripture and Snapshot
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Apple Saucing Fun

Thursday was Apple Saucing Day -- and we had a lot of fun together.  For the first time, the Eagle Scout and the Princess got in on the action and we enjoyed our time together.  They took turns with the main jobs, but she preferred turning the crank and he preferred making sure everything was sauced.  The kitchen and dining room smelled delicious and the laughter we shared was priceless.  It was a good day.  A very good day.

a beautiful mess

all lined up

ready to share

This day was a winner.  Thanks for stopping by to share in our fun.

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Virtual Refrigerator: Paper Cut Beauty

Neat Stuff
I love the cool factor of this black and white art piece created by the Princess.  It's a neat addition to her art portfolio, don't you think?

Up Close Beauty

I'm joining with the Virtual Refrigerator Blog Hop to showcase my daughter's art.  
Be sure to visit and check out some of the other neat projects by some pretty great kids.

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