Four Ways That Audio Adventures Can Make History Come Alive for Your Kids

Although as a homeschool teacher I have to teach every subject- whether I particularly enjoy it or not- I’ll readily admit that history is my favorite subject. In early elementary school, we only seemed to cover American history, and learning about Pilgrims and Indians and the Civil War over and over and over and over got a wee bit boring. But when I hit middle school, we began to study world history.

Heirloom Audio Adventures

World history fascinated me. I talked my mom into buying my world history textbook so that I didn’t have to turn it in at the end of the school year. I loved it that much.

As a homeschool mom, history is still my favorite subject. We’ve always followed the classical method of studying through history in a cyclical way. We’ve focused primarily on world history, with only a year of American history thrown in there. I love it. World powers coming and going, ancient cultures that still influence us today, the contributions of different societies to science and technology and industry- what’s not to love?

I learned early on however, that even though I love history enough to sit through dusty, dry textbooks if that’s what it takes, the kids just…don’t. And so I’ve always looked for ways to learn history beyond a textbook. We’ve found great living books that tell real stories. We’ve done hands-on projects relating to different people groups or time periods. And, recently, we’ve found audio adventures that make history come alive.

G.A. Henty and Heirloom Audio

G.A. Henty is an English novelist who lived in the 1800s. He wrote many, many historical adventure stories. Most of his stories feature a young boy who lives through some troubling event in a specific time period of history. Reading about the adventure gives the reader a glimpse at the time period through the eyes of the character. Many homeschool families love the G.A. Henty books.

We, however, just…don’t.

I’ve tried to read them aloud, and all of us found them rather dry. But I wanted to like them because they have some great story lines, and they’re a great way to learn about a time period through a fictional character who lived then.

And then we found Heirloom Audio’s Audio Adventures based on the stories of G.A. Henty.

And we learned that audio adventures can really make history come alive.

Audio adventures vs. audio books

Audio adventures are not just books read aloud. The Heirloom Audio Adventures are based on the books of G.A. Henty, but they are not read alouds of the books. The audio adventures involve a cast of actors who are acting out a play. Imagine going to the theater to see a great theatrical performance based on a book. That’s what the Heirloom Audio Adventures are. They are well done, theatrical performances of productions based on G.A. Henty books.

Audio adventure actors and actresses have an even more difficult job than actors who are in a play. When you watch a play, you have visual cues to help you know what’s happening. But in an audio adventure, you can only hear what’s happening. The performers in the Heirloom Audio Adventures do an excellent job in helping the listener to “see” the story.

Audio adventures can make history come alive

Audio Adventures can set the stage for learning about an event in history.

It’s one thing to read about a war or a large disaster or a great discovery. It’s another thing to listen to the adventure in a way that makes you feel as if you are witnessing the very events. The Heirloom Audio Adventures draw listeners in as the narrator describes the setting and the characters make the event come to life.

When we’ve listened to these audio adventures, it’s as if we can see what’s happening. In Freedom’s Cause is based on the story of William Wallace and his fight for Scotland’s independence from England. It’s one thing to read a few paragraphs about William Wallace in a history book. It’s quite another to hear a battle take place while listening to the audio adventure.

Audio Adventure can help listeners identify with historical figures.

Who was Robert E. Lee? You might be able to give an answer based on what you’ve read about Lee in a textbook. You may have even read a biography about him. But, if you listen to With Lee in Virginia, you’ll get an up close glimpse of Lee and his faith in Christ and his devotion to duty through the fictional character of fifteen-year-old Vincent Wingfield who ends up fighting alongside him.

Listening to different audio adventures has helped us to be able to relate to the characters in the story. It’s given us an interest in the characters that goes beyond merely reading about them. Because they come alive in the performer’s voices, we can better picture them as real people and not just words on a page.

Audio adventures can help us to see that history is the story of real things that happened to real people.

I’ve read quite a few times about Sir Francis Drake and his famous explorations and adventures. But when I learned about Drake from a textbook, what I learned seemed rather dry and flat. Sir Francis Drake was just a name on a page. But when we listened to Under Drake’s Flag and actually experienced adventures with the character of Ned Henshaw, Sir Francis Drake and his explorations, as well as the time period of the Spanish Inquisitions came alive for us.

Listening to these historical stories as audio adventures with performers who are portraying the characters and their actions has really helped us to view history as real events that happened to real people. Because we can identify with the characters- with the events surrounding them, with their relationships, with their emotions- we can understand that history involves real people and real events.

Audio adventures can pique the interest of the listener to learn more about the time period.

I think one of the greatest things about listening to an audio adventure and becoming engrossed in the story is that, after it’s all over, we have an interest in learning more about the people and times that are the setting for the story. Although we’re only getting a snippet of history in the story of a particular character or time, we come away wanting to know more.

Beric the Briton is set during the time of the Roman invasion of Britannia. Beric- the young boy in the story- and his friend are captured and trained as gladiators. Throughout the adventures and trials that Beric faces, he begins to learn about the teachings of a man named “Christus”. Now, I’m sure that I’ve skimmed through the history of the Roman empire’s conquer of the Britons, but it wasn’t until I listened to this audio adventure that I really started thinking about the spread of Christianity throughout what was then known as Britannia. Listening to the story has stirred my interest in learning more about the people of the time and the spread of Christianity during this time period.

Listening to an audio adventure with your kids can be an awesome way to supplement your history curriculum. It can really make history come alive.

More about the Heirloom Audio Adventures

There are currently five audio adventures available. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to all five, and a sixth adventure is coming up for review in the Crew soon, so I’ll be able to review that one as well. I’m very excited because it’s based on one of the Henty adventures that fits perfectly with the ancient history I’m studying with my younger girls this year.

The five audio adventures available now are:

  • Under Drake’s Flag– Sir Francis Drake and the Spanish Inquisition
Audio adventure about Sir Francis Drake
  • In Freedom’s Cause– William Wallace and Scotland’s fight for independence from England
G.A. Henty adventure In Freedom's Cause
  • With Lee in Virginia– Robert E. Lee and the Civil War
Audio adventure about Robert E. Lee and the Civil War
  • The Dragon and the Raven- King Alfred of Wessex and the battle of Danes against English in the time of the Vikings
The Dragon and the Raven audio adventure
  • Beric the Briton– Roman domination of England and the spread of Christianity
Beric the Briton audio adventure
The Heirloom Audio Adventures are written within the frame of a Christian worldview. Listening to the stories together with the kids provides good opportunities to talk about God’s work throughout history and how a relationship with God influenced the actions and decisions of some well-known historical figures.
If you’re incorporating the Heirloom Audio Adventures into your history curriculum, you can use the study and discussion guide. These guides have some good comprehension questions, discussion questions, vocabulary words, and Bible studies. I’ve enjoyed them because they give us an opportunity to listen to the adventures in segments and then discuss them together. It’s helped us to have a better understanding of what’s going on in the story and brought up some good talking points.
If you want to make history come alive for your family, you can learn more about Heirloom Audio here.

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