Tuesday, October 28, 2014

For the Temple - A TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

 In early September I learned that Jim Hodges Productions would be sending selected Crew members CDs from their collection of recorded books by G.A. Henty. There was a large selection to choose from, and it took me a while to decide to request For the Temple as our book of choice, because it was a good fit with the era of history we were studying.

The full title of the book and CD is For the Temple: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem. The setting for the story is Palestine and Jerusalem, and the time frame is AD 70. In addition to the physical CD, we also received a digital version of the For the Temple Study Guide.


I never cease to be amazed at the way our studies regularly intertwine, making it easier for us to grasp the material we are studying. Our church has been going through the book of Acts, and in Acts 26, Paul is being tried before King Agrippa, Herod and Bernice -- all of whom are mentioned in the story of For the Temple! So immediately this reinforces to me that someone who saw Jesus could have still been alive when the temple fell! Flavius Josephus is also mentioned -- he is not mentioned in the Bible, but he was a major player in the time and left a written record that is considered a major historical source for this time period.

I love this type of learning, where the era we are studying in history and in our Bible studies can be reinforced in our literature reading and in other ways. The study guide that was created to be used with the CD makes it possible to further intertwine the educational disciplines. The study guide's vocabulary lists can be used to:
  • increase vocabulary;
  • strengthen dictionary skills;
  • create spelling lists.
In addition, the discussion questions can count toward "reading comprehension", and also make it easier to make sure your student is listening well and making sure they are following the story and understanding what is said. Additional language arts skills covered in the study guide are character sketches, personification, idioms, alphabetization and creative writing (newspaper article). Study Guide activities also cover Geography, Art, and discussions of climate. There are quizzes at the end of each chapter, and an answer key at the end. The Study Guide enables to reader to make a complete unit study out of the reading of For the Temple!

For the Temple contains 11 hours of listening, broken up into 19 chapters. That means each chapter takes less than an hour to listen to. My son did quite well focusing on the story while just listening. I myself found that difficult, as my mind would stray and I would stop listening. For some of us the best method would be listening with our ears and reading with our eyes, so I checked books.Google.com and found there is a FREE pdf version of For the Temple available for download. Using this I can read and listen simultaneously and stay focused.
Our schedule was carrying a very heavy workload while we were listening to For the Temple, so what was comfortable for us (to balance the listening with the Study Guide) was to listen to the story chapter and then to cover part of the study guide orally. My son is in 9th grade and already knew part of the vocabulary, and could also understand part of it through the way it was used in a sentence. I did not cover every vocabulary word, but selected ones I thought he would not know. I quickly acquired definitions through an on-line website so that I could ask him, "Do you know what 'ubiquitous' means?" And if he did not know I would provide the definition. I did run across vocabulary not in the online definition database ("sestercest"), and it wasn't in my hard copy dictionary either. The answer key does not provide definitions for the vocabulary. I'm glad I did not assign that one to my son! It always frustrates kids when you assign them something they cannot do!

I also used the reading comprehension questions to make sure my son was really getting what he was listening to. He was. (Not being such an auditory learner myself, I desperately wanted to find that he needed to read along while he listened, but he just didn't!) So at the end of a chapter, I asked him about vocabulary words and we discussed some comprehension questions. The other items in the Study Guide looked real appealing to me, but we were very busy and opted not to do more. My son has previously done some of the crafts (making model war machines) and Geography,

I was not really able to get my son very interested in the story. Now I myself am a lover of history, and I love when literature makes historical facts easier to remember, but my son not so much. History does not interest him, and historical fiction does not interest him. He also has never had any particular interest in "war" stories. So while I myself enjoyed our time learning about the fall of the temple, my son was merely obediently doing his assignment, with no particular interest, and the ever-present question in his eye ("Are we done yet?). So this historical fiction got a yawn from my son. 

I myself always appreciate recorded literature, and I consider the Henty historical fiction line to be very worthwhile. I really enjoyed listening to For the Temple with my son, and working through the study guide with him. Since I did not listen/read the entire way, there are huge chunks of content that I feel I missed, so I am planning to read/listen again to get the full understanding. It amazes me how much I miss with just listening! It amazes me how different my son and I are in that respect!

For the Temple and G.A. Henty's other works are best for ages 10 and up. The CD is an MP3, which means that it will play on your computer's CD/DVD player. It will also play on most DVD players, and it will play on any CD player that is a CD/MP3 player (not all are).

For the Temple CD sells for $25, or you can get a digital download for only $10! You can listen to a Free MP3 Download of Chapter 9 to get a taste of listening to Jim Hodges reading aloud, and you can also listen to Jim's comments on this book.  G.A. Henty historical fiction falls into the category of books that takes some patience to get yourself interested and involved in, but then builds to a fever where you don't want to put the book down (or turn the recording off, or both)! The For the Temple Study Guide sells for $12 and really expands and deepens the learning experience for both teacher and student.

If you have never "tasted" G.A. Henty, the thought of reading one of his books to your children may be overwhelming. Previously you may have dismissed Henty literature as a goal you could never accomplish. Don't miss Henty just because the the novels are daunting! Their content is amazing, and their educational value is huge! Now you can acquire most Henty books for free on line, since the originals in the public domain. Select a topic, pick a book, order the CD and enjoy a taste of living history. If you are like me, read along while you listen. Integrate the Study Guide content, and your student will have a deep learning experience that he/she will long remember.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew received a variety of G.A. Henty CD titles to review. To see other reviews of this and other G.A. Henty titles carried by Jim Hodges Productions,  click the button below.

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