Thursday, March 3, 2016

Heirloom Audio: The Dragon and The Raven {TOS Review}

My family was blessed to receive the audio drama, "The Dragon and The Raven" by Heirloom Audio to review. We received a physical CD set {2 CD's}, bonus features, and a bonus study guide {pdf}.

I had never heard of Heirloom Audio Productions before, but I was pleased to find out they are a Christian company. Heirloom Audio Productions is passionate about bringing real history to life. Their audio dramas take the listeners back in time, allowing them to relive the historical events through stories. These audio dramas are perfect for every age group, from young children, to teens, to grandparents! It's a wonderful entertainment alternative to television and video games.

"The Dragon and The Raven" tells the story of the Danes and the Saxons. The Danes {Vikings} are terrorizing every kingdom in England, destroying homes and villages and ripping apart families. Edmund and the young King Alfred of Wessex are the only two willing to stand against the invaders. The story follows Edmund and Alfred's journey, realizing the only hope England has is turn to back to God.

There are some very recognizable voice talents telling this story. John Rhys Davis {Lord of the Rings}, Brian Blessed {Star Wars}, and John Bell {The Hobbit}. The sound effects are amazing, and the soundtrack is beautiful to listen to. The actor do a great job of voice dramatization.

"The Dragon and The Raven" is over 2 hours long! This is perfect to listen to while traveling {which we do a lot of} or on rainy days. The CD's are divided into tracks, which makes it easy to pick up right where you left off, or to pace yourself!

{The kids enjoyed listening to the audio drama!}
There is also a 48 page study guide with discussion questions, extension activities and vocabulary words. The study guide is in pdf, so it needs to be printed out or viewed on a tablet or your computer. {Also, the study guide is on a patterned background, which would take a lot of ink if you printed the whole thing out. It is best viewed on a tablet.} We used the study guide some, but my kids just wanted to listen to the story! The study guide is very comprehensive, and has a page for each track on the CD. This would be great for someone who is using this as a history curriculum {which you could totally do!}.

Some of the questions were difficult to answer, while others paved the way for some great discussions! There are "Listening Well" questions, designed to see what your child remembers from the story. Some of these are difficult to answer, even for me - and I listened with my kids! I do wish an answer guide would be provided, as it would help the teacher know which direction some of the questions are going. There are also "Thinking Further" questions, which help to stir up your child's thinking and have them dig deeper into the history of the story .  There are "Defining Words" your child can look up in the dictionary to help the understanding of the story.

Also included are some enrichment activities listed after the questions and defining words. One of the activities we did was recreating the Alfred Jewel with different art mediums. My children used markers, watercolors, and colored pencils. We pulled up a picture of the jewel and some information using the provided website URL.

{The kids recreating the Alfred Jewel.}
{An example of the hands-on activities}
At the end of the study guide, there is a reading list if you want to learn more about Alfred the Great and some historical notes that will be helpful for parents. Also included are 3 Bible Studies entitled "God's Law and The Nations", "Love Your Enemies", and "Literacy".
The other bonus items include an MP3 set, MP3 soundtrack, The Dragon and the Raven e-book, printable cast poster, printable inspirational verse poster, a Live the Adventure Letter and a behind-the scenes video.
My kids enjoyed "The Dragon and The Raven" immensely. The study guide is top-notch - very informative and thorough. My kids did not enjoy having to answer questions and define words after listening, so we quickly dropped the study guide. However, if this was our core history curriculum, we would use the study guide daily. The audio dramas produced by Heirloom Audio would make wonderful history curriculum cores or supplements. I am anxious to check out the other titles available!