Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wulf the Saxon ~ Audio Henty Review

Scene 51 from the Bayeux Tapestry ~ Battle of Hastings ~ Norman Knights and Archers

1066 - Battle of Hastings. If you study history at all, you know this was a pivotal moment in English history that changed the dynamic of England forever. As a homeschool teacher, I know this, but how do I convey the importance of this battle and this time period to my children? How do I make it come alive? Historical fiction is my favorite way to do this. The MP3 audio recording and PDF study guide for Wulf the Saxon: A Story of the Norman Conquest, by G.A. Henty, is an excellent way to bring to life, not only this battle, but the whole world of Saxon England. Jim Hodges Productions does an excellent job with this Henty story for children ages 10 and up.

Wulf the Saxon, is the main fictional character in a sea of non-fictional ones. He is a thane (the title of landed gentry in Anglo-Saxon England) and has pledged his service to Earl Harold. The story revolves around the choices Harold makes through various battles, and the choices Wulf must make in response. Will he retain his honor? Will they make it through all the battles? You'll have to listen to find out!

Who was G. A. Henty?

Born in 1832, George Alfred Henty was an indefatigable historical fiction author and war correspondent. During his time as a war correspondent, his letters home contained battle descriptions that so moved his father he submitted them for publication. His 122 historical fiction stories were born from his deep understanding of the hardships of war life he witnessed, an appreciation for the actual history behind a story or time period, and his love of storytelling to his own children. His stories display both honorable and dishonorable characters and the lines are clearly drawn. He obviously valued virtue, integrity, and upheld the idea of a character's duty. His are stories worth reading amid today's sea of questionable ethics and immoral choices on the shelves in the bookstore.

Wulf the Saxon Study Guide

This PDF guide is not your normal study guide. This is an astonishing wealth of information packed into 66 pages! With both questions (and answers for the teacher - thank you!), Jim Hodges has covered anything you'd probably want to discuss with your children. An extensive list of vocabulary words from each chapter are included that your student is asked to define. In Chapter 1 alone, there are 47 words. Some of these are: edifice, insolent, begrimed, indomitable, sojourn, and housecarls. I like that Hodges mixes in words we'd use today and words that are time-period specific, but are still important to understanding the story. There are discussion questions that often have a geography or character trait focus as well as hands-on activities or research opportunities. Some have external links to internet resources as well. Two examples of discussion questions your child might answer are:

1. Where is Rouen located and what makes it historic?
2. Osgod is more concerned with food than with withstanding the storm or being dashed on the rocks. What negative character trait does he display and what is the opposite character trait?

I like that you can use the discussion questions in a variety of ways. Use them for oral or written discussion, as writing prompts, or as comprehension exercises. $12.00 is a small price to pay for such a valuable resource.

Why MP3 audio from Jim Hodges Productions?

MP3 is such a flexible content delivery method! It plays on computers, portable MP3 players (like one's iPod), MP3 CD players, and in many vehicles. It is possible to rip the stories to one's computer from the disk and then to transfer it to a portable MP3 player. Wulf the Saxon is fully 12 hours and 35 minutes long. That would be a huge case of CDs! Instead, we can access the full story on one sturdy $25 CD. Jim Hodges Productions also offers a digital download for only $18.

Do they have other titles?

Do they ever! Jim Hodges Productions offers a large assortment of other Henty titles, but also a vast array of many great audio stories

My children listened to Wulf the Saxon while falling asleep. I can't say I recommend that you do that *IF* falling asleep is a priority for you. I'd hear the story going on until late into the night and hear them quietly chattering about it. I highly recommend you check these wonderful Henty stories out though--even if your children get a little less sleep!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

The Advantage of Studying History

The advantage of studying history is that you see things in their proper perspective. So much ravage and hate, crime and distress has happened in every age and every country. We cry out that our rights in our land have been violated (and sometimes they are), but there were times and places people had no rights at all. Whole countries--wiped off the map.

From the earliest days of Cain and Abel, we see it - the manifestation of our sinful nature. From the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Mayans, Philistines, Aztecs, to the Persians and then to Rome - it is a long slow march of destruction by man against man (and woman against woman). It is hard to comprehend the level of hate and venom we can fling at our fellow humans. It should take our breath away that one human can so despise another that they wish them dead. So very many act upon it.

But as a Christian, there is another way. We should not act as those in the world.

Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire."

I know how often I have thought, "You fool!" to those I love. How much more to those I don't agree with? I repent of it!

Jesus said, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." What is abundant in your heart? What is abundant in mine?

James (3:6) calls me on the carpet:

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

My tongue flows out of the abundance of my heart. What is deeply hidden inside pours forth in what I say, what I write, what I do, and how I feel. How deeply I need the grace of Christ. As a parent, as a wife, as a friend, as a child of God.

It is all of Christ. It is impossible for me.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We are HIS workmanship. We are created in Christ Jesus for GOOD WORKS that God prepared specifically for us so that we should walk in them. We are not here to replicate the death and destruction of hearts, minds, and souls as our ancient forefathers did.

We are His instruments. We are His beloved children. We were dead and now we are alive in Christ Jesus. In nothing else. Not in our works, not in our worship, not in our ability, not in our gifts. We are dead without our Savior.

We are alive in Christ! He is at work in those He saves. He redeems the lost and changes hearts. 

He is rich in His mercy. Rich in love. Rich in forgiveness of all our trespasses and sin.

Let me not be as the Assyrians, the Romans, or the evil in our midst today. Let me be the light of Christ to a dark dark world buried in their sin. Let Christ be the light to them through me. Let me be an instrument for your glory.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Are you a homeschool blogger?

Applications are now being accepted for all homeschool bloggers who want to join the Schoolhouse Review Crew! 

Come and check it out and see if it is something you'd be interested in doing!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Blood Moon Coming Up!

If you like astronomical events, you will not want to miss the blood moon (or lunar eclipse) on October 8!

The moon will pass through Earth's shadow early Wednesday morning (Oct. 8) and no enthusiastic skywatcher should ever miss a total eclipse of the moon. The spectacle is often more beautiful and interesting than one would think. During the time when the moon is entering, and later emerging from, Earth's shadow, some secondary phenomena may be overlooked.

Wednesday's total lunar eclipse will be visible, weather permitting, from much of North America, as well as to observers in Australia, western Asia and across the Pacific Ocean. As a veteran of 14 eclipses of the moon, I know that to get the best out of a lunar eclipse, you should know the major stages of the event. To help you prepare for the eclipse, here is a step-by-step chronology of some of the things you can expect to see, weather permitting.

You read more of the text and see a video explaining what will happen in the sky and what is going on at this website.

Do you stay up to see astronomical changes in the sky?
It is one of my favorite things to do with the kids!