If you’ve never been introduced to Adventures in Odyssey, my, what you’ve missed!
Focus on the Family’s audio drama/comedy began in 1987, so a generation has come up listening to and closely following the antics and adventures of the crew at a special ice cream shop called Whit’s End; Mr. Whittaker, Connie, and Eugene Meltsner, plus the slew of other characters, both children and adults, who have filtered in and out over the years. The show continues today and with play on more than 6000 radio stations nationwide, plus online streaming and podcasts, that generation is now raising its own children to love Adventures in Odyssey as well.
I was a married woman before I began listening to AIO. I’d heard the show a handful of times as a teenager, but no radio stations in our area played it daily and the weekend show times were never convenient for me to listen.
Then I got married, moved 800 miles from home and family, and lived far out in the sticks of east Texas. I had been a very independent and active young adult and then suddenly, with only one vehicle between us, I found myself often stranded at home in the country without my own transportation, and with precious little knowledge of the area and people even if I’d had it! I was lonely and homesick and struggling with all those crazy adjustments you make in those first months of marriage.
Adventures in Odyssey was a literal God-send.
A local radio station played it daily and my in-laws had scores of tapes. (Yes, tapes. And of a poor quality even, as they were episodes recorded off the radio!) But those tapes were noise and company when I was in need of both, so I accepted them and began to listen.
And I fell in love with it! The characters of Odyssey became my constant companions. Whit, Connie, Eugene, Bernard, Lucy, Tom Riley, Jack Allen–they were like friends–and I can’t tell you the times some random episode off a fuzzy tape recording would minister to my needy heart until I was bleary-eyed over the laundry I was folding or weeping over the dishes in the sink. Still happens all the time.
But it really wasn’t my intention to tell you what a fan I am of Adventures in Odyssey. I actually wanted to let you know, in case you’re unaware of it, how useful AIO can be in your homeschool.
We use AIO often in our Bible time in the mornings, which is something I should have mentioned in a recent post, Why I Don’t Skip Bible in Our Homeschool. Ever. Our Bible Curriculum 2012-2013. In fact, around our house we have what we call “Odyssey Fridays”, where our primary Bible story for the day is listening to an episode of Adventures in Odyssey over breakfast. Often it’s an episode retelling a Bible story we’ve read recently, but sometimes I’ll simply pick an episode teaching a certain Biblical theme or character quality.
The Bible story episodes are incredibly useful, I think, in helping children visualize stories from the Bible that, let’s be honest, we don’t always do the best job of telling in an exciting, memorable way! And what’s wonderful about radio, it still requires a child to use their imagination to visualize the story! Granted, AIO sometimes takes a good deal of “poetic license” with their storytelling, often adding humor and sometimes fictionalizing the facts a little where the Bible doesn’t include many details, but the productions still remain remarkably true to Biblical accounts.
The Bible stories are usually retold via Imagination Station adventures, Kid’s Radio, or B-TV episodes. There’s an episode for nearly every major, and a lot of minor, Bible stories. If you’re looking for a specific story, www.aiowiki.com, is a great place to search. Simply type David and Goliath, for example, in the search bar and you’ll find links to the episode(s) that deals with that specific Bible story. If you have piles of Adventures in Odyssey CDs like I do, (or even if you’re still digging through prehistoric tapes,) you can start your search there or find and purchase the episode online for download from a site like whitsend.org or christianbook.com. (The first actually directs you to the latter for the actual purchase.) Individual episodes cost $1.99, or purchase the MP3 file for the entire 12-episode album for $17.49. (Personally, I’m still collecting CDs, simply because, if I’m patient, I can find used album sets for $10 or less on Amazon or eBay.)
Many of the Bible stories are compiled into a single album called the “Bible Eyewitness Collector’s Set.” This album contains 36 episodes and the CD set is $25.99 + shipping and the MP3 album is $27.49. Purchase either of those here.
Follow the same search process if you want to highlight a certain Biblical theme or character quality with your kids. Check out www.aiowiki.com/wiki/Category:Episodes_by_theme or www.whitsend.org/Home/metadata/Short%20Theme.aspx where you can find episodes dealing with character issues like honesty, integrity, selfishness, or disobedience, or particular Biblical themes like heaven, faith, or salvation. These lists make it easy to find an episode dealing with exactly the topic you wish to address with your children.
Paul Revere’s Ride– #197: The Midnight Ride
The American Revolution– #508-509: The American Revelation Part 1 & 2
The Declaration of Independence– #033: The Day Independence Came
The War of 1812, The Star-Spangled Banner– #149: By Dawn’s Early Light
The Underground Railroad– #314-316: The Underground Railroad Part 1, 2, & 3
Abraham Lincoln– #104-105: Lincoln Part 1 & 2
The Attack on Pearl Harbor– #175: East Winds, Raining
Incidentally, all of these episodes can be purchased on a single album called “For God and Country.” At Christianbook.com, the CD album is $16.49 + shipping and the MP3 album is $17.49. You can purchase it here.
Adventures is Odyssey is a wonderful tool for homeschooling. Actually, it’s a wonderful tool for parenting, providing reinforcement for the values I’m working to instill in my children. And if I can use it to help educate them about a holiday or a historical event as well, then it’s a double benefit!
My son once told me if he could take a trip anywhere in the world, it would be to Odyssey and, if it were possible, there’s nowhere I’d rather take my children. But though we can’t visit Whit’s End, we can still invite Mr. Whittaker and all the beloved characters of AIO into our home everyday, not just for homeschool, but for all the in-between times as well!
What a fun way to learn! For moms, as well as kids!