Sunday, August 13, 2017

Get a FREE St. Maximilian Kolbe Nature Scavenger Hunt Printable!

Last year, I shared 4+ Sensory-Smart Ways to Learn about St. Maximilian Kolbe and mentioned an idea for a scavenger hunt that I had after reading about the symbolism of the reliquary used for the St. Maximilian Kolbe relics my children and I were able to venerate

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This year, I thought I would create a new FREE St. Maximilian Kolbe Nature Scavenger Hunt printable based mostly on St. Maximilian Kolbe's life as told in the Loyola Kids Book of Saints, which I plan to reread to my children before going on our nature walk.  

In case you do not have time to get the book, however, I included a page of discussion points with the scavenger hunt so that you can easily retell parts of St. Maximilian's story on your own:

  • Japanese knotweed: Father Maximilian started a Catholic magazine and newspaper that reached hundreds of thousands of people in just a few years. He, then, traveled to Japan to start another even though he spoke no Japanese.   (If you do not have Japanese knotweed in your area, just cross this one out and put something else that might remind children of Japan or the far east in this box.  Something hair-like: Fr. Maximilian grew a long beard before traveling as a missionary to Japan as a long beard was respected there at the time. Later, he has his beard shaved off and some of hi whiskers are now included in reliquaries.
  • Something with thorns: In 1939, Nazi invaded Poland and began a thorny occupation. Because Fr. Maximilian was an outspoken priest, the Nazis wanted to shut down his popular magazines. So, they arrested and imprisoned him briefly in 1939. Then, in 1941, they arrested him again and sent him to Auschwitz in Poland, where he became prisoner # 16670 and later died. 
  • Something blue or white: In prison, Fr. Maximilian wore a blue and white uniform and lived in a large, cold building where he slept on a board.
  • A boulder: Fr. Maximilian was forced to do hard – and sometimes horrifying - work, like carrying boulders, moving large trees, and carrying dead bodies to ovens where they would be burned. 
  • A fallen tree: Fr. Maximilian was starved and beaten in prison. Once, a guard strapped a plank to Maximilian’s back and made to run. When he collapsed, he was kicked and whipped. 
  • Something lovely: Despite hardships, Fr. Maximilian never stopped loving God or others. He persisted in prayer through sad, desperate situations and tried to help other prisoners.
  • Ten of something: When a prisoner escaped, Nazi prison guards decided other prisoners would be punished to discourage other escape, so they selected 10 prisoners who would be starved to death. 
  • Something red or white: One of the prisoners cried out, “My poor wife and children! I will never see them again,” whereupon Fr. Maximilian said, “I would like to take the place of Sergeant Gajowniczek.” So, Fr. Maximilian and nine others were taken to a cell to starve to death. After several weeks, only four men – including Fr. Maximilian – remained alive. At this point, the Nazis gave them injections to kill them. Fr. Maximilian died on August 14, 1941 at age 47, a martyr pure in his love for God. This fulfilled a promise he had made Our Lady when he had a dream as a child in which she held out a red crown and a white one to him, asking him if he was willing to accept either of the crowns – the white one meaning he should persevere in purity and the red that he should become a martyr. He said he’d accept both. 
  • Saint Maximilian (free space): When Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was canonized a saint in 1982, an elderly Sergeant Goajowniczek, his wife, and his children were present in St. Peter’s Square. God’s love – as shown through St. Maximilian Kolbe – had saved his life. St. Maximilian put love before even his own life.

Also, as you can see in the discussion points, I have included an alternative for Japanese knotweed in case you don't have any in your area.  In the FREE printable pdf, there is a second scavenger hunt sheet with this alternative on it.

In the boxes on the scavenger hunt, children can make a sketch or write a verbal description of what they found.  You can see my Saint Anthony Nature Scavenger Hunt post to get a visual of how they might work.

More Liturgical Celebration Ideas for This Week

Click through any of the images or text below for my ideas and inspiration about St. Maximilian Kolbe and the Assumption of Our Lady (which is August 15.)

I'd love to see snapshots of your nature walk if you go on one.  I also welcome your ideas for living the liturgical year with children.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It Really Is Non-Nonsense Algebra {a Review}

My oldest son likes to learn math independently in short stints of 15-20 minutes, preferably online.  I like to check in on his learning, preferably offscreen.  Thus, when I saw No-Nonsense Algebra from Math Essentials, I thought, Perfect!  (Or almost perfect.)  The online portion of the program could appeal to my son and an offline paper portion appeals to me(He might not be 100% ready for full-on Algebra, but he definitely could stretch with pre-Algebra, and may even roll right into the rest without problems.  So it was that I opted to review this high-school level Math course with my just-entering middle school son.

What Makes the Program Helpful?

No-Nonsense Algebra consists of a 275-page softcover book and a corresponding series of video lessons taught by Richard W. Fisher (which can be accessed using a code in the book.) 

Each lesson is:

  • concise (so math lessons need not drag on on any given day)
  • self-contained (so students who struggle with particular concepts can bone up on those specific topics without having to do every lesson in the book)
  • inclusive of helpful hints, clear examples, exercises for practice, and exercises for review (so mastery happens)
  • explained both in writing and through video lessons (which helps reach students with different learning styles, or, in the case of my family, helps reach paper-loving Mom and screen-loving son)

Chapter Reviews and a Final Review are also included in the book, as are helpful extras, which include:

  • solutions for all problems  (so student can self-check their work)
  • a glossary (which is handy for students who have not internalized "math speak")
  • a list of important formulas (which helps Moms like me who have not done Algebra in ages, and, of course, helps students, too)
  • a list of important symbols (which is, again, handy for those who confuse or have forgotten math-related symbols)
  • tables for multiplication, commonly used prime number, squares and square roots, and fraction/decimal equivalents (which are super handy for children who struggle to recall facts and figures)

Truly, I am impressed with how complete and concise
No-Nonsense Algebra is.  The program lives up to its name by offering a way for students to achieve math mastery without having to wade through fluff and distractions - and without Mom or Dad having to do much 1:1 teaching.

How Did We Use It?

Of course, when using No-Nonsense Algebra with students below high school level, sitting down 1:1 can be helpful, so that is what my son and I did when we first cracked open No-Nonsense Algebra.  Or rather, we sat down 3:1, for, when I sat down with my oldest to complete Lesson 1-1 together, my two younger children decided to join us.  They were curious about the video lesson.  So, I capitalized on the moment,  had all three children grab paper, and completed that first No-Nonsense Algebra lesson together. 

To my surprise, even my seven year old met with success when adding integers during Lesson 1-1.  Honestly, I did not think he would be able to do it, but, he was interested, and, as the lesson progressed, he quickly caught on to the rules of how to add positive and negative numbers,  So did my 10-year-old daughter.  Lessons are that clear!

Thus, the following day, out of curiosity, I suggested that we all sit down together again to study Algebra.  As we completed Lesson 1-2 on Subtracting Integers, my seven year old lost interest, which I was completely okay with, for this program is a high school program and my 7-year-old is just a typical child - not a math savant. 

I thought my daughter might also lose interest in joining her big brother and me for Algebra lessons, but, surprisingly, she did not.  Instead, she persisted and happily completed Lesson 1-2 alongside her big brother, even asking me to grade her.  Since we don't typically do grades here, and, since she has been doing math at a much lower grade level than her big brother, I was both amused and impressed by her desire to work through
No-Nonsense Algebra lessons.

Oh, how my daughter beamed knowing she'd just learned some math alongside her big brother- and had done well at it, too! It was such an awesome moment.  My daughter had been suffering from lack of confidence in her skills, and the fact that she liked the No-Nonsense Algebra lesson format and succeeded with it thrilled me!

Going with this success, I kept our family's approach to
No-Nonsense Algebra the same for the next two lessons: Mom and the kids on the couch with a laptop, the book, some notebooks, and a few pencils.  However, as we got into multiplying and dividing integers, something became obvious: whereas my oldest son could handle the work, holes in my daughter's mastery of multiplication and division facts prevented her from continuing her streak of Algebra success. 

My daughter clearly understood concepts presented in the lessons, but struggled with quick and correct math fact recall and, thus, did not do all of her figuring right.  Thus, before she could get down about her progress with
No-Nonsense Algebra, I gave her a big hug and said, "Wow!  You have been doing HIGH SCHOOL math and you GET IT!  The only reason you've had some trouble here is because the paths in your brain that help you quickly recall facts are not 100% yet.  When you get those down, you are going to be a whiz at this!"

At this, my daughter smiled, got thoughtful, and asked if we could go back to work on her facts and, then, return to Algebra. "Why, absolutely!" was my response, and, so, the next day, she was back to math fact drills and practice while my oldest continued with
No-Nonsense Algebra.

At this point, I asked my oldest if he was ready to try doing his
No-Nonsense Algebra on his own, which he was.  So, I explained that he could even check his answers on his own after he completed either all the odds or all the evens on any given page, and, then, if he had succeeded with the problems he attempted, he could be done for the day.

Since then, 3-5 days a week, my son has used No-Nonsense Algebra as he main math curriculum.  At first, he did well with this - succeeding with lessons and seldom complaining.  However, when work got harder, the complaints began:  "This is too hard."  "I don't like this."  "No, I don't need your help. I can figure this out, but it's stupid."

"No, it's not son.  It's challenging, but useful and well explained.  I am happy to help you if you need me to do so. Daddy is, too.  Then, if you still don't get it, we can pause for a while," was, more or less, my response.

As is typical for my son, he did not want the help nor did he want to push through the tough spots.  For, my son does not like when he does not "get" math concepts right away, nor does he like it when he cannot easily solve problems in his head.  He likes copying problems out of a book onto notebook paper even less. Still - I am happy to say - he pushed through all these "don't likes", persisted with learning, and made it to Lesson 1-12 by Monday of this week, which impressed me (and proved to both him and me that he can succeed with higher level math when he puts his mind to it and has a quality resource to help him!)

What Are Our Thoughts on the Program and Would We Recommend It?

When I asked my son about his experience with No-Nonsense Algebra thus far, he said:

 "No-Nonsense Algebra is an algebra program that teaches using online videos and a workbook.  In each video, a teacher explains what the video is about (a math point) and asks you to write along with what he is saying.  He takes you through examples.  Then, the workbook has more problems that you have to do alone.  It has the answers in the back so you can check your work.

I think there are too many problems on most pages, so Mom has me do half of them - which I still think is crazy.  If I get most of them right, I can keep going with the next lesson.  If I don't,  I have to do more problems.

The lessons are set up to do a ton at one time - the short videos and all the problems, but my mom said, when we are busy, I can just do 15 minutes of work at a time. That usually means the video and some of the problems.  When we are not busy, I do a video and all of one half of the problems.

I really don't like this (doing 1/2 the problems in a lesson), because it takes up time, is frustrating, I get things wrong, and I have to do more problems.

The man teaches well.  I will give him that, but the workbook is hard and my mom does not let me write in it.  I don't like copying problems and doing the work out.

I think I might like it later, but right now, it is above my grade level. I want to do some more 6th grade math and, then, may try this again."

So, as you can see, my son is progressing, does not like to practice math with a lot of exercises, and has come to a point where we need to pause our work on
No-Nonsense Algebra, not because the program is not a good one - for it is excellent - but because my son could benefit from a bit more lower math before progressing further.  (This is not surprising since he is only 11 years old and has, to date, used a hodge podge of math resources in a sometimes super relaxed way.)

With this in mind, I believe that once my oldest completes a bit more "on grade level" math, he will be in a prime spot to excel with the rest of
No-Nonsense Algebra.  I think my daughter will, too.  In fact, she asked if she could add a quick comment to this review, and, said:

I did the first few lessons of No-Nonsense Algebra, but then it got a little too hard. 

I discovered Algebra is fun, but I need to learn more of my other skills before I can continue.  I want to go back to this book when I finish my other skills.

Did you hear that?  My 10 year old said written Algebra is fun!  She wants to learn more using this resource.  And she will! 

So, even if my daughter is on pause with the program, and I am giving her big brother a break from it, too, I am keeping our
No-Nonsense Algebra book at the front of our math cubby as incentive for my daughter to get through the work of solidifying her basic math facts, so she can get back to applying algebra concepts using No-Nonsense Algebra.  I am also considering getting her the 4th and 5th grade or middle school books that  Math Essentials offers, since it appears that the format of the lessons  - with video explanations and examples, and uncluttered pages of written examples, exercises, and review  - work well for her.

Likewise, I will encourage my oldest to return to
No-Nonsense Algebra as soon as he is ready to do so.

I would say
Math Essentials would work well for other children who prefer concise, straight-forward, math learning or review, too!  I am truly pleased to have been introduced to No-Nonsense Algebra for my own homeschool purposes as well as to have this resource now to recommend to high school students that I mentor who are preparing for college entrance exams or just struggling with high school math.  No-Nonsense Algebra, I believe, can help students reach math mastery fairly quickly and painlessly, not to mention inexpensively.  (Where some math curricula cost big bucks, this full algebra program currently costs just $28.95)

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No-Nonsense Algebra.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Beginning to Learn Greek {A Greek 'n' Stuff Review}

Anyone who knows how lacking in language giftedness I am and how inconsistent I have been in teaching my children anything beyond beginning lessons in any foreign language might wonder why I would opt to try out the 
Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 Set by Greek 'n' Stuff.  I mean, seriously, why would I want to tackle a language that has a different script than English and how on earth would I plan to successfully attempt to teach one - especially at "Level 3"?

Why Did I Choose Level 3 Greek?


Hey, Andrew!Teach Me Some Greek!

Let me explain why I chose Level 3 Greek - which is a two-part answer.

Part One: Years ago, I worked on a cruise ship staffed, in part, by Greek officers.  The family of one of those officers came to spend time on the ship and his then-teenage daughter Betty asked if she could be my pen friend upon returning to Greece.  I told her, sure, as long as she wrote in English, since I knew no Greek.  And there began a decades long friendship, not only with Betty, but also with her mom, who speaks minimal English, and, yet, has become my Facebook friend and who often says hello to my children and me via Facebook comments.

My daughter enjoys my friend's mom's quick hellos to us and thinks it would be neat to learn some Greek in order to write to her in her native language. I do, too.  Thus, our seed of interest in trying out
 Greek 'n' Stuff was planted.

Now, a planted seed is all well and good, but why would I start us off Level 3?  Remember?  I speak no Greek and am anything but language gifted.  Plus, my children have studied a bit of this foreign language and a bit of that, but never Greek.  So, why Level 3?

Simple. I had heard that 
Greek 'n' Stuff's Level 3 Greek curriculum begins with a review of materials taught in Levels 1 and 2 and is a good fit curriculum for beginners in upper elementary grades, which is the age my daughter is at.

How Can a Mom with No Greek Language Skills Teach Greek?

So, now you know why I chose 
Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3. However, you may still be wondering how I - a mom of no Greek language skills - was expecting to teach the curriculum.

To be honest, I wasn't.  Yes, you read that correctly: I did not expect to teach 
Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 and have not really done so.  Instead, I have sat alongside my child as co-learner - not a teacher - with our helpful triple resource of:

  • the Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 student worktext  - a 178+ page softcover, spiral-bound workbook that can lay flat for each of use, has generous spaces for writing in answers, and includes a full appendix and flashcards
  • a full answer key - a 178+ page softcover, spiral-bound workbook that mirrors the worktext, but includes complete answer keys as well as pages with a lessons schedule, teaching tips, and more.
  • and a pronunciation CD - a recording of the Greek Alphabet song, pronunciation of new vocabulary, and pronunciation of paradigms, which is indexed to the worktext level and page numbers.

With these curriculum aids, my lack of prior knowledge has not hurt my daughter's learning.  We simply opened the books, used the CD as needed to check pronunciation, and began learning together.

How Did We Progress with Lessons?

The first several lessons are about the Greek alphabet, which, for children who have used Levels 1 and 2 of the curriculum, is a review.  Because we were beginning with Level 3, however, the names and sounds of the Greek alphabet were new to us.  Thus, instead of spending just the suggested two lessons on the first ten pages of the worktext, we spent about eight - taking thing slow but steady, with practice and review on whiteboards.  Likewise, we also did not do all of the suggested lesson three - which included six worktext pages as on lesson.  Instead, we practiced one vocabulary word at a time, extending the lesson.

Because of this slower pace, we have not progressed as far as might be expected in the program so far, but we have progressed far enough to know that my daughter has a better memory for the Greek alphabet than I do and finds the Greek words fun.  She even made up a little dance to help her remember the relatively long Greek word "an-thro-pos" for our English word "man".  It was so cute seeing her dance about the house and yard singing, "AN-thro-pos...AN-thro-pos."  It is equally delightful to know that even though my daughter is still developing with decoding and encoding English, she enjoys foreign languages like Greek and wants to pursue more foreign language learning.

What Did My Daughter Think?

When I asked my daughter what she thought of t
he Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 Set so far, she said:

"I liked learning the Greek. 

Learning the letters was nice and fun.  I like how they show the hands moving on the letters, so you know how to make them.  The Greek letters were fun to write.  The letters were not really that hard to learn, because we went slow and repeated them a lot using white boards.
My favorite word so far was anthropos, which is man.  I made up a little dance movement. 

(I would like to keep learning Greek), because it is fun and I want to be able to have a whole conversation in Greek.  I would like to use this once a week or so."

We will likely do just that, for, although the program is meant to be used more often - and, of course, learning Greek would happen with greater speed and retention if we used the program as written for multiple lessons a week, we tend to flex things around here.  My daughter needs more time with English decoding and encoding, so we'll keep her foreign language learning moving along now, just more slowly than others might.
Straight-Forward Learning

Greek 'n' Stuff

Whether you want to use Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! - Level 3 as an everyday sort of learning tool, a several times a week one (as we've been doing) or as a once-a-week one (which we will likely do henceforth), doing so can be easy.  Lessons are quite straightforward and are taught using the translation method, so Greek words are written in a large font at the beginning of each lesson and, beneath them, are phonetic transcription and meanings.  Then, there are a few activities using target vocabulary (write the word in Greek, draw a picture of the word, match learned words and their English translations, circle correct words, etc.)

Greek 'n' Stuff

 Pages of the book are uncluttered and in black-and-white (which is always a boon for children who struggle with dyslexia, attention, etc.).  The CD offers pronunciation without glitz.  There are no gimmicks (cartoons, catchy tunes, etc.)

Greek 'n' Stuff
Learn More You can find more information about the Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! curriculum on the  Greek 'n' Stuff website, where you'll also find a placement test and free downloadable activities.

Greek 'n' Stuff
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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Celebrate the Assumption of Mary with Food, Fun, and Fellowship

This week, I am in the midst of painting pegs for another swap, which reminded me of the Marian Peg Doll Swap I participated in last year on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.  That, in turn, reminded me that I never shared about the actual feast day activities we enjoyed at a friend's home.  So, I am doing so now in case they might inspire your Assumption Day plans for this year.

Our feast day table was set with Assumption-day inspired eats and a Marian peg doll for each month of the year (minus some that were late to the party).  We also had more food in the kitchen.  It included:

  • gluten-free, casein-free "prayer arm" pretzels to remind us to pray for the intercession of Our Lady.
  • fruits and herbs, since both are traditional on this day.

  • blueberry pie and blueberry-and-cream topped pastries (since Mary's colors are blue and white).
  • herb tea (again, herbs are traditional on this day.)

Of course, as enticing as all the goodies were, we did not dig in until we'd shared time for prayer, learning, activities, and chatting about the feast day.

For this, we gathered all the children together, lit candles, and prayed the rosary.

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Then, while the children colored some free Assumption of Mary coloring pages, my friend read and talked about portions of Mary, My Mother, of course, including the parts about the Assumption. 

After this, all the children stood in a line, and we processed into my friend's garden...

...where we prayed a Blessing of the Fruits and Herbs.

Prayers completed, the children enjoyed playing for a bit, the mamas exchanged pegs, then, we all prayed grace, dug into the goodies, and continued to enjoy one another's company.

We had Life of Mary cards available inside to play with and also supplies for making fresh lavender satchels, with the Legend of Lavender in mind.

It was a truly lovely Assumption Day celebration with friends.

As a bonus, my family also enjoyed our own traditional "waffle sundae" picnic later in the day.

We always start this easy meal with prayer and a chat about the symbolism of our foods - such as the blue and white for Mary's colors, "heavenly white" topping over "earth brown" waffles, etc.

Then, we build our sundaes and enjoy digging in!

We also typically select one or more readings about Mary and the Assumption. 

This past year, our selection was taken from Leading The Little Ones to Mary (of which we have an older copy - pictured above next to my son - than the one currently sold - pictured below.)

It certainly was a blessed and full feast day for us last year.  No doubt, it will be again this year. Whether we end up enjoying an at-home celebration as a family after Mass or a full-on Assumption Day celebration with friend's (as we did last year and in 2015), I have no doubt
that the day will be meaningful as we remember Mary's Assumption and the hope that we, too, have to join Jesus in Heaven one day.

Almighty ever-living God, who assumed the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the Mother of your Son, body and soul into heavenly glory, grant we pray, that, always attentive to the things that are above, we may merit to be sharers of her glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect Prayer)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Learn About the French Revolution with This Exciting Audiodrama! {An Heirloom Audio Productions Review}

Among all the reviews my children and I have done through the years, Heirloom Audio Productions CD's have been a favorite!  So, my children were thrilled to receive In the Reign of Terror, an exciting G.A. Henty story adapted into an audio drama.

The Story

In the Reign of Terror

I asked my oldest child, whose 11, to tell you about this exciting - and emotional - story.   He dictated:

In the Reign of Terror is an action-packed story about an English boy who goes to France during the time of the French Revolution to study for a military career, learn French, and teach French boys and his family about the ways - and the language - of the English.

When the boy arrives, he is treated well, but almost like he's the French family's pet.  He is cared for, but their attitude towards him is not one of true human love and acceptance.  This changes after a few dramatic experiences that I cannot tell you about or I'll ruin the story for you.

During the boy's stay in France, the Revolution starts going crazy -- mobs begin to kill people and burn houses... Pro-revolutionary laws are enforced, and chaos breaks out. 

The boy and the French Marqui's family try to live through the terror, and, then, to escape it. That's when the story gets super exciting... and sad.

As you listen, you'll feel anger at certain people, sorrow for hundreds of people, and respect for the main character and some others.  You will also learn about the French Revolution and the American War for Independence.

I would recommend this audiodrama to those who don't mind death and want to learn a lot about history with an exciting story!

You can learn more about the storyline and get a taste of the quality of the production by watching this trailer:

The Production

As you can guess from watching the video above, In the Reign of Terror has all of the trademarks of an Heirloom Audio Productions radio drama that my family has come to love:

  • a top-notch cast
  • a moving original score
  • an exciting tale laced with humor and strong emotion
  • likable characters portrayed with depth
  • a faith-centered message

In the Reign of Terror, like other Heirloom Audio Productions, immediately draws you in and, sweeps you away for 2 1/2 hours of historical drama.  Unfortunately, the time period it carries you away to is a volatile one with much darkness.

Fortunately, light shines in the darkness: a ray of faithful hope!

The Audience

Heirloom Audio Productions creates fantastic audiodramas for family entertainment and learning, however, each of the G.A. Henty adaptations contain intense moments, so audios should only be listened to by younger or more sensitive children after parents have previewed the CD's.   This is particularly true of the In the Reign of Terror story.

Without question, the French Revolution was a grim time in history, and In the Reign of Terror reflects that.  Violence, fires, even brutal executions all occur in the story.  In fact, many of the characters that you come to know and like at the start of the tale end up dying brutal yet, thankfully, "of-screen") deaths further along.  Plus, hundreds of less familiar characters also die.  Thus, young children - and sensitive ones - may not be the best audience for this particular audiodrama. 

My middle child - a sensitive 10-yeara-old - referred to this when I asked for her opinions for this review by saying:
This story is not good for little kids.  It is better for children 12 and over, because it has a lot of death. 

I liked the beginning with the funny parts, but I did not like all the death.

Obviously, although my daughter has listened to this audiodrama, she did not relish it as much as she has past productions.  She found the horrors of the French Revolution - even if dealt with tastefully in this production - just a bit too upsetting to allow her to enjoy this CD as much as she has past Heirloom Audio Productions.

My oldest child - a typically less sensitive 11-year-old - was also affected by the darkness of the storyline.  He said:

I love Heirloom Audio Productions and this one is good, but it is not my favorite.  I prefer the ones with a main character and a secondary character such as the Dragon and the Raven and In Freedom's Cause.  This one is more intense, because kids are dying instead of adults and many people die in horrible ways. 

I still learned a lot and liked the CD's though.

Oddly, my youngest - at seven - was not as bothered by the deaths described in this audiodrama, although he commented on them, too.  This, admittedly, concerned me at first as I wondered if my youngest is becoming sadly desensitized to violence.  My concern was short-lived, though, as I realized that my youngest simply keys into the humor, excitement, and drama of
In the Reign of Terror
more than the heartbreaking realities of lost lives during the French Revolution.

He had this to say:

When this audiodrama first started, I thought it was going to be about the American Revolution, with some of it in France and some in America.  I'd really like to hear one about the American Revolution... and I like the ones with swords, axes, helmets, shields, and chest plates.  I liked this one, too, but not as much as In Freedom's Cause, Under Drake's Flag, and With Lee in Virginia.

What I liked about this one was the humor.  The boy thought the French would have frogs and stuff to eat, but they had bread.  Also, when the guy said, "You are a great stupid," it was funny.  He meant, "You are a great student."  It was funny when the one who was bad at French and the one who was not so good at English were speaking.

Also, I liked the exciting parts like when the mob seized a guy, when there was a wolf hunt, and when a ship went out to deep water...

I especially liked that there was only a tiny bit of romance.

I would not recommend this to people who are sensitive to death.

 More than Just an Audiodrama

Heirloom Audio Productions
has  always offered bonuses to go along with their audio CD's.  Such bonuses typically include printable quotes, study guides, official soundtracks, and - my children's favorite - behind-the-scenes peaks at the making of the CD's.

Heirloom Audio Productions has packaged such bonuses with even more content to create the online Live the Adventure Club.

As a member of the club, you can gain access to:

  • a streaming version of In the Reign of Terror
  • an In The Reign Of Terror Original E-Book
  • an Official Soundtrack
  • a Printable Cast Poster
  • a Study Guide & Discussion Starter (downloadable and accessible online)
  • an Inspirational Verse Poster
  • a Desktop Wallpaper Download
  • an Official Script Download

You can also find parent helps, online quizzes for kids, an
“Old Time Radio Vault” (full of old radio plays), and more.

These features are fabulous and my children enjoyed browsing some and getting 100% into others - like the online quizzes which mirror to a degree portions of the printable Study Guide.  They each, however, echoed the same sentiment after clicking around on the
Live the Adventure Club pages for a while:

Please make behind-the-scenes videos we can see again!

Being able to hear and see interviews with the producers and actors involved with the production is definitely something my children missed.

One thing they did not miss was casual use of the Study Guide.  Once again,
Heirloom Audio Productions has made a complete Study Guide available for online viewing or download.  The 43-page guide includes:

  • short biographies of key historical figures
  • Expand Your Learning sections
  • illustrations
  • a char comparing the American War for Independence and the French Revolution
  • Listening Well Questions 
  • Thinking Further Questions 
  • Defining Words Sections
  • a list for further reading 
  • 3 Bible studies 

These can all be used for formal studies or can simply be used - as my family uses them - as an informal guide for conversation.  Used formally or informally, the study guide can help children can find opportunities to see how well they are listening and learning and to think and go deeper, too.  It is a truly helpful resource (which I feel would be even better if offered in a simple black-and-white format as well as in the eye-catching one it is already offered in.  That way, those that wish to print out the guide could do so without using so much ink.)

Some Final Thoughts

Between the
In the Reign of Terror CD-set, which comes nicely packaged with two CD's, and the Live the Adventure Club, which is chock full of helpful bonus material, Heirloom Audio Productions has done it again.  They have created an on-the-edge-of-your-seat audiodrama that keeps you engaged and extras to keep your education expanding.  I know I came to a better understanding of what the French Revolution was like when I was listening to the CD's, and I am confident that my children did, too.  I also witnessed them enjoying the online club.  In the Reign of Terror, although not in our top three of Heirloom Audio Productions produced so far is still a CD-set we are glad to own.  We have each learned new things and enjoyed parts - if no all - of the tale.

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One-hundred families reviewed
In the Reign of Terror.  Read each families thoughts:

In the Reign of Terror {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

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