What is it?The Dragon and the Raven is a retelling of the book by G.A. Henty. I would call it a dramatized retelling, and you probably know a few of the actors who provided voice talent for this story! Heirloom Audio Productions calls it an audio theater. There are options to purchase a CD set, to download MP3s, or to order a Family Four-Pack with some friends or as gifts. We received a 2 disc set with a link to download the bonus materials that go with the Family Four-Pack.
The bonus materials include a bunch of helpful files to download (not all purchase options include all of these files):
MP3s of the CDs - My kids like these, they listen on their MP3 players
MP3 soundtrack - Some nice instrumental music to listen to while we work
Behind the Scenes movie - My kids enjoyed seeing the actors as they worked, and we learned a bit about how this was made.
Story poster - Like a movie poster you'd see outside a theater
G.A. Henty's book - A PDF of the book, would be great to read on a tablet
Live Adventure Newsletter access - There are some fun things here like craft ideas, crossword puzzles, helpful articles, and something we were excited about... a recipe for cakes that are similar to the ones Alfred burned!
The Dragon and the Raven Study Guide- This is a helpful file that creates a curriculum out of the story. There is a page for each CD track full of questions to encourage the development of good listening skills and in-depth thinking. A vocabulary section is included as well. For older children you can use the questions as writing assignments. Bible Studies at the end of the Study Guide encourage children to study the scriptures and learn some character building traits.
How did we use this?We listened to the CDs as we colored, as we worked, and while driving around. The actors do a great job at making it exciting to listen to and the soundtrack and sound effects in the background bring the story to life. The kids have often asked to listen to it again.
When we were sitting still to listen I would ask questions from the Study Guide to see how much the children understood. I like that there are questions that ensure comprehension, but also questions that encourage us to seek out more historical information. Finding places on a map adds a little bit of geography. A list of books about Alfred the Great is a helpful addition for kids who want to learn more.
I have a hard time concentrating and consistently using ebooks when reading from a screen. I would really like to have a spiral bound paper copy of the Study Guide to use it more thoroughly. But the Study Guide is beautifully designed and full of textured backgrounds... it would use A LOT of ink if I printed it at home. It would have the same issue if printed with a laser printer, and it would not be nearly as nice looking. It looks lovely on my tablet screen! Fortunately, when I contacted them they said it would be just fine to have a local shop print it for us. I would love if Heirloom Audio Productions created a simpler form of the Study Guide to print at home.
|A page from the Study Guide|
Our only disappointment (though short lived) was when we found out that it was a retelling and we couldn't read along with G.A. Henty's novel. Though I also see that as a good thing, because sometimes G.A. Henty is a little hard to read. My youngest has been quoting from The Dragon and the Raven, so I know even she is getting something from the story!
Will we continue to use this?Of course! This has become a popular story around our home. I am especially grateful for the MP3s, considering how many times my children have listened to/carried around other audio book CDs we own. My two oldest have been inspired to read G.A. Henty's novel on their own time to see how it compares with the retelling of The Dragon and the Raven.
As I mentioned above, I would like to get the Study Guide printed so we can make more use of it in the future. I'd really like to make use of it as a curriculum guide, and the Bible Studies are a great outline to help children dive deeper into the scriptures. I was happy to learn that this would not violate any copyrights and I will get this done soon! We used the Study Guide lightly, I would like to use it more in depth in the future when we study Alfred the Great again. I can see that it would be a good addition to our history curriculum and would provide a greater understanding of the time period and the contentions between the Saxons and the Danes.
We would like to get some of Heirloom Audio Productions other audio plays. We learned about Sir Francis Drake today and I wished I had already purchased that story. They are working on more, follow them on social media to stay updated!