The Dragon and the Raven: Our Unit Study

We have completed our first study of 2016.  We’ve spent five weeks with The Dragon and the Raven – The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A Henty audio drama.  I bought the drama through Heirloom Audio Productions because, when you buy through them, they always include a downloadable study guide, and we’ve used it as the backbone of our study.

This isn’t a review of the drama.  I noticed that I’m finishing this unit study wrap-up up and publishing it about the same time that the Schoolhouse Review Crew is publishing their reviews of this drama, and that is completely incidental, so you can go check them out if you want to look at excellent reviews from different perspectives of this product.  I’m already convinced of the high quality of everything Heirloom Audio Production makes, so I’m not going to take the time to review this product 🙂

The Dragon and the Raven Our Unit Study

This is a great introduction to the world of Saxon England, and all the different kingdoms that are contained on the British Isles in that time period, but more importantly it’s a story of a fight for a Christian England against the onslaught of the Pagan Danes.  It’s the story of a king who would be called great and the virtues that shaped his life and his approach to war.  Yes, it’s the story of Alfred the Great, who did so much to unify England and to fight and negotiate peace with the Danish king Guthrum.

Most of our discussion and many of our activities over the time that we completed this study are contained in the study guide, so I’m not going to draw them out in detail, but I do want to share some of our favorite activities and You Tube videos that we used for learning.

Our first learning and exploration was the Alfred Jewel.  We read articles, pondered pictures of it, and watched YouTube videos.  This BBC story happens to be my favorite of the articles devoted to it.

We also studied shield walls.  It was then that I realized that there are some great television series that are far too old for my children that I could use clips from to illustrate our lessons.  We watched this clip from Vikings and this clip explaining how the shield wall worked.  This is also a great little clip illustrating a large shield wall.

Exploring Sanctus

We also explored some simple Latin translation and matching the phrases we translated up to phrases in the Bible.  This was also a great way to practice simple concordance skills.

We learned about human sacrifice using this video clip from Vikings and this piece of discovery channel documentary.  Rose was totally grossed out, but after using this clip, I’ve seen several references to “blood eagle” in our study, and I have the picture in my head!

This was also a great time to pause and do a little study of the Norse god Odin.  We studied mostly through video clips.  I liked this one of top ten facts on Odin.  This clip from the movie Thor was also nice because we were were able to fact-check Odin’s depiction in the movie.  I also loved the  way that this advertisement for Vikings tied together the whole story of Norse mythology for the children.  I wouldn’t mind reading them additional stories from the mythology and learning more, but the children weren’t interested beyond this.

Painting Saxon Dragons

By far, our biggest project was creating and painting our own Saxon dragon paintings.  This is a project that I’ll share how we created them and what we used on Thursday, but here’s a sneak peek of Rose’s finished painting today 🙂

We also did a little research on the Danish king Guthrum via You Tube.  We watched a couple of excellent clips from The Last Kingdom, including one where Guthrum orders Aethelwold to kill Alfred and another showing Guthrum’s Baptism and how it was filmed for the series.

Because the longboats play a prominent role in the drama, we also watched videos about the Viking Longship.

We researched Althelney Abbey and watched a very helpful Time Team episode that helped us to visualize Athelney and Alfred’s time there.

Alfred Cakes

And of course, no study of King Alfred is complete without attempting to make Alfred cakes.  Since we used the recipe in Heirloom’s study guide, I’m going to have decline to share at this time. 🙂

King's Table

We also bought and played many games of King’s Table after hearing it and the strategy used in it mentioned prominently in our audio drama.  I think it’s going to become a game night favorite, much in the manner of chess or other related games.

That about does it for our study. All that was left was to put Alfred on our timeline and move on.  We’re actually moving on to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as our next study, and there’s some excitement over that in our house 😉

As someone who is concerned with the dollars and cents of how much unit study schooling costs, I’m going to give you the cost breakdown of this unit study.

  • Dragon and the Raven Audiodrama CD (study guide included) = $36
  • King’s Table Game = $38
  • Heavy Whipping Cream and Orange Juice for Alfred Cakes = $4

All other items we used were mostly either YouTube or art supplies we had on hand.

That brings us to a total cost for this unit study of $78.  That is not at all our most frugal study, but it was a month well spent, and I knew that buying the King’s Table Game was going to make this a little more pricy than I planned on at the beginning of this study 🙂


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