Review: With Lee in Virginia from Heirloom Audio Productions 

LeeAs a family we enjoy learning in so many different ways. We read a tremendous amount out loud and alone quietly.  We watch great documentaries.  We listen to audio books and audio dramas.  Audio dramas are often put together with the voices of several actors, complete with dramatic sound effects and music. Heirloom Audio Productions is a source of incredibly high quality historic audio adventures.  When the opportunity to review their latest production, With Lee in Virginia we leaped at the chance.  The day it arrived in the mail my children cheered, ripped it from the box, and popped it into the nearest audio player instantly. They knew they were in for a treat.

With Lee in Virginia comes as 2 CD’s.  As you open the case you’ll notice on CD is colored red and the other gray which is fitting as this is a story from the Civil war.  We also received a digital study guide and other fun things to download such as a printable poster and the Mp3 soundtrack. When you place your own order you’ll see a variety of packages offered if you too would like these extra goodies.

The Study Guide

This is a fantastic study guide.  It is a full 52 pages that you can print in full color.  It comes as a PDF download that is separated into three sections.

  1. The Listening Well section is full of great listening comprehension sections.
  2. The Thinking Further section has open ended questions and website links to help you bring your study further.
  3. The Defining Words section is where you’ll find vocabulary to study.

We particularly enjoyed the Bible and the biographical information about Lee and Jackson.  This lead us to the library to find even more biographies about these men of history.  My children of course enjoyed the pictures.  My 7 year old is a geography buff so he really went after the geography study.  This Study Guide is rich with content and adds a great depth to the audio experience.

How We Used This Product

I mentioned earlier how my children dove into this audio the moment it arrived at our home.  It had to somewhat insist that we listen to it together first as a family before I let them take off with it on their own.  Since our first listen I think they boys have listened to it again 2 or 3 times.  They like to take it up to their room and play it while building with their Legos or drawing.  I think they might have much of the dialog memorized word for word.

We devoured the audio in just a couple of days.  Then we set out to dig into the Study Guide.  I supplemented with materials from the library.  Alright let me re-phase that… during our next library trip my children emptied the shelf on the civil war and dragged me to the library computer to see if I could find more books for them via inter-library loan.  We were also blessed to have the opportunity to witness a Civil War reenactment at Mystic Seaport, which is something like a living a history museum that we happen to have a membership to.

Since the audio arrived and we dove into our Civil War studies my boys (ages 7 and 9) have spent countless hour reenacting scenes, dreaming up elaborate ways to create Civil War uniforms from clothing and other items around our home, and endlessly reading about the topic.

What Did We Think

I had no doubt any audio from Heirloom Audio Productions would inspire great learning in my children.  This one in particular took us to great new heights I hadn’t quite expected.  The story itself is about a young southerner named Vincent. He is a slave owner but a man with more character and dignity than most.  He is blessed to have the influence of men of God.  Though he fights for the Confederacy he risks his life to save the lives of some of the black slaves he knows.

 

Interwoven through the story are lessons about Godly character, duty, and honor.  Not hidden from the listener are the horrors, heartache, and sadness that war brings.  The conversations that all of this has sparked with my boys.  I am often given the opportunity to guide their hearts.  For example, Vincent and his friends believed, as many young men did, that going off to war would be a great adventure.  He was unprepared for the carnage, heartache, and suffering that he witnessed.  After Vincent is injured he returns home to recover.  It is there that he feels he has lost his passion for the war and the Southern cause.  Robert E. Lee visits him and he suggests to Vincent that perhaps, if he has lost his passion than perhaps his passion was misdirected in the first place.  Lee reminds Vincent that it is God that determines the outcome and that he is responsible, duty bound, for the job God gave him.

The audio drama is spectacular in every way.  Such high quality acting, music and sound effects!  Such a compelling story.  It is certainly worthy for entertainment value but by digging a bit, and utilizing the extra resources you’ll find an fantastic opportunity for in depth learning.  I really can’t recommend With Lee in Virginia

With Lee in Virginia Audio Drama Review

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Review: Warriors of Honor DVD by New Liberty Videos

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One of the the beauties of homeschooling is that I get to take history a step further than you’ll typically find in a traditional school classroom. Not only do we explore the who/what/when/where and why of important dates in the history of our world and this country, but where possible we also explore the role Christianity had played in those events. Faith is often erased from traditional history books so sometimes exploring this topic can be a bit difficult. When we were given the opportunity to review something New Liberty Videos I was excited. New Liberty Videos creates historyDVDs with a focus on Chiristianity. We chose Warriors of Honor which is a documentary the the faith of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. It reviews the major causes of the civil war, major battles, and some of the historical and cultural context of the time.

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What is it Like?

Visually this documentary is quite well done. They offer the viewer lots of actual photos of both Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. There is footage of reenactments of various battles that help set the scene of the times. The viewer is immersed in the sites, sounds, and historical context of the times.

The first half of the documentary focuses on Stonewall Jackson. There is a great deal of depth into his faith, how it impacted his decisions, and his efforts to stay true to it throughout the war. There is some background information about his personal life provided as well.

The video then shifts focus to Robert E. Lee and continues in much of the same vein. There is a great deal of discussion of his faith and some information on his personal life.

I have to say that I thought the video would be a bit more about the Civil war itself with the stories of these two men interwoven. Some of the battles discussed in the video are Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. Really the focus of the video was entirely on these two men and their faiths. The story of the war itself is a bit secondary.

Our Take On It

I watched this documentary a couple of times on my own and once with my two boys ages 7 and 8. They adore history and are hungry to know everything can about the great wars of our country’s history. Anything American history is very hot in our house right now. They appreciated this documentary and retained quite a bit of information from it during our chat afterwards. They appreciated the visual aspects, particularly the battle reenactments. They did note that the narration was a bit boring to them but I feel that is truly a reflection of their age. While I’m glad they watched this documentary it really is geared toward someone older. Teenage and adult history buffs would probably gobble this up.

This documentary can be purchased for $19.95. It is approximately 80 minutes long plus some bonus features.

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Review: Under Drake’s Flag by Heirloom Audio Productions

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If there is one thing we’ve added to our homeschool in the last year or say that adds a spark, fun, and even adventure right from our mini-van or our living room it would be ebooks or even better and more robust are audio adventures like Under Drake’s Flag by Heirloom Audio Productions which my family recently had the opportunity to review.


Under Drake’s Flag is based on the novel by the same name by G.A. Henty and is ideal for ages 6-adult though even my four year old daughter was completely intrigued.  This is a two-hour, super fast-paced, high energy, extremely high quality audio reenactment of the story that comes complete on two CDs that comes complete with a study guide and prayer inside.  

Talented British actors, wonderful music, breath taking sound effects… this has it all and then some. Truly wonderful family entertainment!  My boys would sit on the edge of their seats and literally cheer along as they took in the awesome audio sensory experience.

If you are not familiar with novels by G.A. Henty then you’ll certainly be delighted to know that all of his stories, and most certainly Under Drake’s Flag, have a strong Christian element with a great emphasis on moral teachings and developments.

The Story

Under Drake’s Flag is the coming of age story of Ned Hawkshaw and his friend Gerald, two young boys who are the adventure of a lifetime sailing the high seas with the great pirate Sir Francis Drake who is involved with the Spanish Inquisition!  These boys face struggles, uncertain circumstances, danger and grand adventure all while growing into true determined men of faith.  This is a wonderful way to breath life and excitement into your history lessons.

How We Used It

Listening to audio adventures has become a vital piece to our homeschooling and a beloved family pastime.   As is true for many homeschoolers we are often on the go and I love to take advantage of the time spent in our mini-van.  My children often beg to listen stories like Under Drake’s Flag the moment we set wheels to the road.  So our expectations for this story were high.  We were not disappointed.  The story moves very quickly and you do have to pay close attention to keep up with the variety of characters that come and go.  To ensure everyone was keeping up I’d often pause the CD and ask a couple of quick questions and add any clarification that might have been needed.  Sometimes my children got a little impatient with me when I did that! They liked the action. But I was usually glad I did because I was often able to help someone’s understanding of the story.

Under Drake’s Flag would be a wonderful resource to use after you’ve spent some time studying the Spanish Inquisition and perhaps reading a little history about Sir Francis Drake as well.  Some background information is always a good boost to help with understanding.

The Study GuideAnalytical Grammar Review

Inside of the CD within a pocket you’ll find a little study-guide.  A more indepth study guide can be downloaded after you have purchased the CD.  These study guides are similar and contain three sections: Listening Well, Thinking Further, and Defining Words. Also included is the heartfelt Prayer of Sir Francis Drake, 1577.  The downloadable study guide goes further with more questions in every section.  Think of it as the expanded version.

The Listening Well Section goes over some comprehensive questions. The Thinking Further Section does just what it says, it asks the listener go further and use some critical thinking skills to take more away from their listening.  I think some additional background research could be handy when trying to answer some of these questions.  Defining Words includes vocabulary words.

In our family I pre read the questions and kept them in mind as we traveled and listened.  At home we looked up and of the Defining Words we weren’t sure of.  Overall I think the study guide adds a nice addition to the audio adventure.

Also included is a Bible Studies section that you can do with your children that’ll encourage study of Godly Character, True Manhood, and Confessing Christ.  I thought this was an excellent touch.

Cost

You actually have several options to choose from when you are looking to purchase Under Drake’s Flag .

  • $20 download gives you instant access with bonuses like the Study Guide and Drakes Prayer
  • $29.95 plus $6.95 shipping gets you the two CD set.  You’ll get the two bonuses above and a download of the soundtrack
  • $99.97 plus $9.95 shipping gets you the Family Four Pack this gets you 4 CD sets, all of the bonuses I mentioned above except the downloaded version of the story, plus 5 more bonuses: An E-Book copy of Bill Heid’s  book “Echoes Of The Dragon’s Drums”, G.A. Henty’s original Under Drake’s Flag E-Book, 2-lecture MP3 set titled “The Real Sir Francis Drake.”,  A 30-minute video documentary download titled “Behind The Scenes of Under Drake’s Flag“, Free unlimited access to the Under Drake’s Flag Membership Website.
  • $199.97 gets you The Group 10-Pack which is a 10 CD set plus all of the bonuses.

Overall

If you are into audio dramas like my family this is a must have!  We absolutely adored it and are half way through our second listen.

You can connect with Heirloom Audio Productions on Facebook.

Under Drake's Flag Reviews
 

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Review: Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring

Music!  Oh sweet music!  Who doesn’t love music!  And who doesn’t really enjoy LEARNING through and with and about music?  Music can tell a story.  Music preserves memories, history, and even the feeling of an era.  History and culture just cannot be fully studied without immersing yourself in the music of the time.  History Through Music

That is why I was totally intrigued by this series called Experience History Through Music by Diana Waring.  It instantly sounded like so much fun!  I knew in my heart my children and I would adore learning like this.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these books and audio CD’s.  There was no disappointment once we did.  We have loved this… but don’t let me get ahead of myself.

How refreshing it is to leave behind the traditional textbook, skill and drill, memorization style of history learning.  I love to make learning an adventure and these books are just the ticket.  Each book in the series is filled with stories explaining some bit of history or other information about the time period or the song itself. There are great historical pictures as well to help you and your family visualize the history. You’ll even find the sheet music so that you or your child can play along on some instrument too… if you know how. But no worries because that totally isn’t necessary. The CD’s are professionally recorded and very high quality.  Let me tell you about each of the books.

Experience History Through Music contains 3 book/CD sets:

America 1750-1890:The Heart of a New Nation

Westward Ho!: The Heart of the Old West

Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

10418224_718746634854208_7458322481846232310_nAmerica: Heart of a New Nation sets us in American history around the beginning of the French & Indian War and takes us through to the building of the transcontinental railroad.  The CD contains 16 songs some of which you’ll likely recognize including Yankee Doodle, Oh Susanna, and She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain. 

I love that this one includes the Star Spangled Banner as well.  There is just so much richness to the history in here.  Songs that I sang throughout childhood that I never knew much about but do now.  I had often wondered how I might share some of this with my own children. Well here was my opportunity.

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Westward Ho! – Heart of the Old West
America’s westward expansion is amazingly rich in stories and songs. In Westward Ho!, you will find the pioneer spirit that stirred the hearts of thousands of Americans to leave the safety and comfort of home expressed in folk songs of or about that time. Now you can experience the pioneers’ adventures, dangers, joys, sorrows and hopes as you join in and sing along.

My little Cowboy Noah… he’s 8 and he really does fantasize often that he is a true cowboy, riding his horse and living out on the Western Frontier driving cattle from atop his trust horse.  He laid his eyes on this one and about flipped.  We had to start it immediately!

The songs are a blast.  Just the twangy old west style you’d expect.  My children loved to dance and pretend to play the air fiddle right along with the music.  When it came time to read the history that went with the songs they were enthralled.  We’ve listened to this one so many times they are now singing the tunes aloud with the CD going, just for fun.

10300957_718746858187519_4257315073409300744_n Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder
The well-loved stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder will come to life all over again as you listen to the songs that were a part of life for the Ingalls and thousands of other pioneering families. Written by William Anderson, noted Laura Ingalls Wilder biographer, the book also includes beautiful photos by internationally known Little House photographer, Leslie A. Kelly.

What a sentimental favorite this has become.  We’ve had a little ongoing side study of all things Laura Ingalls Wilder for sometime.  We’ve read the The Little House Books and biographies all about her.  This book was just the icing on the cake.  I’m not sure about my children, but listening to the very songs that were a part of her life, and the stories that relate to them, made her become real to my heart even that much more.  What a treasure this book and CD are.

Overall!

Overall you just have to have these!  The just bring American History alive in a new way. A new fresh layer to our studies.  A deeper understanding of what life and culture were once like.  These books and the music are just so well done.  I know, I’m gushing!  I don’t usually go this far with a product, there is usually SOME not so perfect thing because what is perfect?  Well, this just might be.  My family is going to enjoy these books and musical CDs for quite some time.  I think I might have to stash these away for my someday grandchildren.  Except I’ll save them for visits so I can relive them again.

Right now (through the months of July) you can purchase the whole set for $50. Each book retails for $18.99 separately.  You can purchase your set at Diana Waring Presents.

Do it now!  They are worth it!

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Review: Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation

Veritas Press Review
Our family was recently given the opportunity to review Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation plus the Middle Ages, Ren & Ref Flashcards all by Veritas Press

Veritas Press Review
This program is absolutely amazing.  I know I am going to struggle in this review to find adequate words to really give you the depth of this program. This program is geared toward 2nd-6th graders.  I set this up for my 8 year old Noah work through and it fit him just fine. It holds 160 lessons which should make it suitable for an entire school year.  The lessons are based on the Classical Christian Model for learning.  It is self-paced so children start at any time and move ahead as the family sees fit.

Noah worked through the program each and every day, and sometimes twice a day, and I think he occasionally dug into on the weekends as well.  That is just how much he enjoys it. For a busy mother there was absolutely nothing for me to do beyond log-in myself once in a while and check out his progress and view the results on some of his quizzes.  Once I set him up with his log-in, which was simple to do, he was off and running.  There was nothing required of me which is such a weight lifted.  Yet all along he has learned more than I could have dreamed.

Each lesson is presented to the student through a series of “slides.”  I put slides in quotes there because I think of slides as being still photos.  This is not.  I’d really prefer to call them a series of short video clips.  The lessons are presented to you through the conversations of two people dressed as monks.  It is rather relaxed and conversational in nature.  Storylike would be a good word to describe it.  The two can be a bit silly and there were certainly some laugh-out-loud moments for my son.  This definitely kept his attention.  In fact, it often drew the attention of my 6 year old and my 4 year old.  They loved to crowd around the computer and check out what was going on as well.  And yes, the learned too, how could they not?

In between the slides, or video clips, there were interactive elements as well such as  spelling quizzes, matching games, identifying locations on maps, word searches etc.  The other night at dinner we were discussing the World Cup.  My husband mentioned Algeria was a country that participated.  My son was able to tell us exactly where in the world Algeria is as it was discussed in his Veritas press lessons.  

Every lesson concludes with a review game.  These are video game in style with things like a soccer type game that reminds this old school Mommy of “pong.”  There was a viking dragon boat game, a quest game where you are looking for a key in a monastery etc…. These and the final quizzes are fun, creative, and engaging.

My son’s absolutely favorite part of this program is the song.  Music helps us remember and Veritas Press uses a very catchy tune to solidify names, dates, and details into your brain.  Personally, it drives me a bit batty.  But it works! Trust me! I’ve memorized all of the info with this song too!

Veritas Press Review Veritas Press Review

 

 The Middle Ages, Ren & Ref Flashcards are a fantastic tool.  They come as large cards printed on sturdy and shiny cardstock.  One side features colorful artwork and a name and/or date.  The other side has all of the details about the subject.  I let my son use them as he saw fit.  He usually had them on hand throughout the lessons.  He’d line them up according to time.  He would look them over as he took quizzes.  They were very handy.

Final Thoughts

We like this!  We like this a lot!  I love how much church history is presented.  It is just so relevant to the time period that I don’t understand how it can be taught without the religious history.  It is refreshing to have a program that does not try to gloss over that or wash it away some how.  I like how thorough it is.  I like how engaging it is.  I like how much fun my son has doing it.  I like how I don’t have to do a darn thing yet he is truly and deeply learning (as am I).

Price:

This program will set you back $199.  I don’t normally say too much in my reviews about price.  What might be way over priced to one family might be just the answer to prayer for another.  We all have different budgets.  Normally I wouldn’t consider a program at this price meant for just one child that I couldn’t reuse with a younger child later on.  However, I want to say that this program is so rich in learning, content, and fun… it really just might be the thing even at this price point.  Yes, we like it that much. I am seriously considering other self-paced courses for other years.

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An Author Interview with Diana Waring

1907636_718746788187526_5285536751379246134_nThis summer my family is having an absolute BALL keeping the learning going with these new books and musical CD’s called Experience History Through Music.

Experience History Through Music series contains 3 book/CD sets:

  • America 1750-1890:The Heart of a New Nation
  • Westward Ho!: The Heart of the Old West
  • Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder

Each title is made up of one book and one audio CD.  The books are beautiful, filled with historical photos, historical information that relates to each song presented on the CD, and the sheet music as well.  The songs on the CD were professionally recorded and add such spice to a history study.  My children just love literally dancing away the afternoons as we listen.

My complete review is coming soon but I wanted to take the time to share with you a little bit about Diana Waring, a name that might be familiar to you if you’ve spent much time in the homeschooling circles. She has been kind enough to share a bit about herself and her new Experience History Through Music series with those of us blessed to be on the launch team for this exciting new product.

So without further adieu as they say, let me introduce you to Diana! 


About Diana Waring

Author of Beyond SurvivalReaping the Harvest and Diana Waring’s History Revealed world history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the early ’80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn.  Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style.


1. What was your life like musically as you were growing up? Did you take lessons, sing with your family, in a church choir, etc.?

I ALWAYS loved music. . . I was always singing, started playing clarinet in 4th grade, oboe in 7th grade (!!!), taught myself to play guitar in 10th grade.

I was an only child, my parents were not musical, and we did not attend church. . .

But music WAS in my grandparents’ lives. My father’s father played guitar and sang before he had a stroke in 1953 (there is a FASCINATING story there — tell you later), and my mother’s father played various string instruments and sang, as well. I have met folks who knew him, and they tell me he was a fabulous story-teller and a fun musician.

Once I learned to play guitar (in 1969), I started doing folk music whenever I had the chance. If you can believe this, I even tried to get permission to play in bars when I was 15. After I became a Christian, I started playing worship music for prayer meetings. . .

Which led to me becoming the worship leader at our Christian fellowship in college and at the church I attended.

Since music was one of my greatest motivators, I expected to continue in that realm. . . particularly within church settings. It was unexpected to have the door suddenly open up in 1989 to create these American folk music recordings–but I loved the songs and the genre of music!!

Now, here we are, 25 years later, and I am absolutely THRILLED to have this musical part of my life come back!! I pulled out my 12-string, donned my historic costume, and sang folk songs in Greenville, Cincinnati and Harrisburg this spring — and it was a JOY!!

2. How did you start writing history books?

The very first book I wrote WAS a history book—an earlier version of “America.”  As I have shared in the back story, when a friend suggested that it would be beneficial to attend a homeschool convention—and the only way I could afford to get in was to become a workshop presenter—the idea of marrying American folk music to American history seemed like such fun that I had to write a book!  (And help create the folk music recording!!)

One thing often leads to another.  Doing workshops on making history come alive using music exposed me to the notion that there are many other wonderful ways to make history come alive, like literature, geography, the Bible, science, art, architecture, cooking and more.

All of this melded together when I started teaching my own children world history in 1992.  There were so many things I wanted to know about how events recorded in the Bible impacted the ancient cultures of the time. . . seeing the “secular” civilizations through Scripture and better understanding Scripture in light of those civilizations.

I was SO excited about what we were learning that I started telling others at homeschool conventions. . . which led to the History Revealed curriculum (20 years in the making).  Nine books in that series (plus nine sets of audio CDs), plus two of the three American folk music/history books (and CDs) make a grand total of 11 books on history that I have had the opportunity to research and write!

Goodness!  I had no idea when I started homeschooling that I would learn so much.  🙂

3. What is your favorite period of history?

My standard answer is that my favorite period of history is the one I am currently studying!!

I think the deeper answer, though, is that I have always been fascinated by the incredible drama of WWII and its aftermath.  I was born in Germany ten years after the end of WWII, and when it dawned on me as a fifth grader that my birthplace was at the epicenter, the reality that history HAPPENED engaged my heart and mind.

Add to that the fact that my grandfather was the chairman of the National Resources Council, appointed by President Harry Truman in 1951.  He was the man responsible for putting the resources of America to work if we went into another world warwhich was not a far-fetched idea in 1951 as we engaged in the Korean War and the early Cold War.  I still remember listening to my grandfather say, “Diana, we must always know what the Russians are doing. . .”  The Cold War was not a newspaper headline to him, it was VERY real.

So, with all of the personal family history, I think it is safe to say that WWII and the Cold War are, by far, the most fascinating to me.

4. Have your kids followed in your music-loving/performing footsteps (on any level)?

Yes!  All three of my kids play instruments, all three love various types of music, and all three still enjoy singing with me whenever we get together!

My oldest, Isaac, is actually an amazing musician.  He plays numerous instruments, often more than one at a time—which wows audiences!  He has a huge baritone voice, which can fill a room faster than most.  One of the most incredible things about Isaac is that, in performance, he can ask for words or phrases from the audience, then compose a song on the spot with those words—and it is so catchy that people will walk out the door singing the song!!

Mike is more of an athlete than a musician, but he plays bass guitar, Australian didgeridoo, and he sings both melody and harmony with a fabulous tenor voice!  He wrote one of the most delightful songs I’ve ever heard:  “Round Trip Ticket to Samoa”. . . which we always thought would be a stunning song for travel agents.  🙂

Melody was my classically-trained musician.  She studied classical piano very seriously, as she prepared to go to a conservatory and then into the world of concert pianists.  Dr. Jay Wile, who attended her senior recital, told me that he was blown away with her musical talent. Tragically, when she entered the conservatory, she developed severe pain (which continues to baffle doctors) that prevented her from continuing in music.  I absolutely melt, though, when she comes to visit and plays once again on my grandmother’s piano.  She loves, loves, loves music.  (The tragedy turned to beauty when she began serving refugees, those in poverty, and youth-at-risk.  She is amazing.)

5. Of all the songs in the three new books, which songs are your favorites?

I LOVE “Ho for California” in Westward Ho!  Somehow, this one became my favorite. . . I remember the day we drove across the Sacramento River as a family, on our way to a homeschooling event in California, singing at the top of our lungs, “Then, ho, brothers, ho, to California go.  There’s plenty of gold in the world we’re told on the banks of the Sacramento. . .”

“Gooey Duck”  was, by far, the most popular song that we performed in our concerts.  There is something so catchy about this song!  Also, as I was writing the original Westward Ho! book, I chatted with my grandfather about gooey ducks (giant clams).  He chuckled and told me that though they were plentiful in Puget Sound waters when he was a lad, they were SO ugly that people avoided eating them unless they were desperate.  That has tickled me ever since. . .

“Sweet Betsy From Pike” is another favorite, included in America. It is such a singable ballad, and full of humorous possibilities.  It was a delight to sing it on the recording!!

6. Do you play a musical instrument. If so what? and how old were you when you started playing?

In chronological order, here are the instruments I play (don’t you know a historian would tell it chronologically???):

I learned to play clarinet in 4th grade.

Switched to oboe in 7th grade.

Switched to guitar (which I taught myself to play) in 10th grade, as braces made playing oboe impossible!!

Bought a mountain dulcimer and learned to play it when I was 17.

Learned to play recorder when I was 19. . . played it in the musical, “Godspell.”

Took some lessons on piano when I was 20, and kept working at it on my own.

Learned to play banjo when I was 23.

But my real instrument is voice!!!  I was a vocal major for a time in college, and have sung in concert choirs, as a worship leader, doing folk song concerts with my kids, and, last year I had the opportunity to sing Beethoven’s 9th symphony in Indianapolis!

7. Which of the songs in this series of books resonant the most with your life and why?

As a musician and storyteller, I love the possibilities of telling stories in music—ballads are an incredible art form.  “Old Settler” and “San Juan Pig War” are the two that I most enjoy singing for others, as they tell such memorable stories. . .

And, I love “Sweet By and By.”  We used to end our “Yankee Doodle Tells A Tale” concert with this song, and it never failed to bring me to tears. . . singing of our “bountiful Father above.

8. What value do you see in students learning America’s folk songs?

How many opportunities do we ever have to actually DO what our ancestors did?  As a real and normal part of our lives?  You and I live in a world that is vastly different than the time period represented in America, Westward Ho! and Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  And, yet, we can still sing and enjoy the very same songs they did, we can taste a tiny bite of history through the medium of folk songs, and we can experience America through it’s music!

Plus, it’s part of our American heritage.  It’s part of our history.  And what could be more fun than learning history through songs you can clap to, stomp to, and sink your teeth into??  🙂

9. Are these Experience History Through Music products to be used as curriculum?  Is there a schedule to follow?

Though students can experience American history through these three books and CDs (and have a lot of fun in the process), it is not an actual curriculum. They are supplementary materials that can be enjoyed by anyone.  There is no specific schedule to follow, no tests to take. You might describe it as a sort of “stealth academics,” meaning that your kids will be having so much fun singing the songs, they won’t even realize they are learning.  But YOU will.

10. Do you have other books/products in the works?

Always!!

Next on my list of books to write is one entitled, “Daughters of God.”  I am hoping to have it finished by this fall.

Then, the plan is to create an American history curriculum for elementary age students, one that allows for the same sort of creativity and freedom as my world history curriculum, the History Revealed series.

Once these are both done, I have lots of things I have always wanted to write, but never had the time. . . including fiction—historical, of course!!

One last thing! 

DianaGiveaway

As part of this launch we are giving away over $700 worth of homeschooling goodies, including Experience History Through Music!  Don’t miss out!  Click here for more details.

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