Monday, October 27, 2014

A Nation Adrift from New Liberty Videos

New Liberty Videos Review

New Liberty Videos Review
A Nation Adrift from New Liberty Videos

93 minutes - DVD

The Bentz Test Laboratory is diving deep into American History together this year.  When the opportunity for A Nation Adrift from New Liberty Videos became available, we were excited to be included.  After all, who doesn't love a good history documentary!  It is described: "From Christopher Columbus to the founding of America, God has guided the founders of our country. This DVD explores where we began and where we are today as a nation."

This 93 min. DVD is a timeline of America's history.  In fact, it goes all the way back to Jerusalem.  As the narrator highlights important people and events, visual clips of videos, paintings and illustrations are shown on screen. The narrator uses voices, inflections, and light music as a background.  Overall, it is not fast paced, or action packed.  But, you will get the opportunity to see glimpses of America's finest moments.   

It's not the type of documentary that jumps up and grabs your attention... at first.  I hate to admit it - but several of my testers and I nodded off a couple of times in the early portions.  It could be that much of the early information was part of what we had been studying and was a repetition for us.   I need to warn you - this is NOT a documentary that you should gather ALL your children around to watch with you!

As we got into the Revolutionary War - terms like "sodomy" started being introduced.  In fact, when one of my younger testers woke me up to ask what that word meant, and why that soldier was "drummed out of camp",  I decided I better watch the rest of this with only my older children only.

I don't want to leave the impression that we did not enjoy this DVD.  Far from that, for the appropriate age audiences, this is a very well-done look at where America started from and how far we have drifted away from the founder's original design.  In fact,  I think that this should be included in most HIGH SCHOOL American History courses.

By the end of the overview, you can't help but mourn how far from God's plan our society has drifted.  You will be disturbed by this DVD - late term abortion is explained in detail, homosexual affection (men kissing each other) is displayed on screen,  Supreme court justices with anti-christian beliefs are quoted,  ACLU beliefs are outlined - including support of satanists,  prostitution, and 12 year old consensual sex age reductions.  The sorry picture of American society today is painted in detail. 

Thankfully, the producer doesn't leave us there... Encouraging words are spoken to the audience. We are encouraged to stand up and accept the personal responsibility to exercise the voice our Founding Fathers granted us. America is not without hope! God is still sovereign, and America can find her way back to her beginnings. Our next generation still has a voice and the power to be heard.

My 6th grade tester was completely disturbed,  my high school testers were discouraged, and all of us were left speechless (momentarily...if you know us, it must have been a moving message!)  After a great discussion, we agreed that this DVD left us with a challenge. 

Overall,  I found the DVD a bit slow at times, but was inspired by it's message.  Make sure you preview this one first to make sure it's right for your family.

Other titles reviewed: Anthem for a NationThe Forbidden BookMysteries of the Dead Sea ScrollsTeaching Origins ObjectivelyWarriors of Honor.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Is this your life?

This screen shot stopped me dead in my tracks...  this could be a description of our life.  We don't need more crowded, we don't need more crazy.   Thank you God for constant reminders :-)

Don't let it be...  clean out the crazy God!

Middlebury Interactive Languages - Chinese Courses: A TOS Crew Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Ni Hao from Middlebury Interactive Languages - Chinese Courses - $119 per semester (w/out teacher) - $175 (w/teacher)

This immersive approach will captivate your children, and have them excited to learn a new language, in the most user friendly, and effective manner.  Designed by linguistic experts, Middlebury has been training the mastery and fluency of world languages with a proven approach, helping educators, diplomats and many more to make deep connections with other cultures through languages from around the world.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
This program offers full semester courses for grades K-12.

All levels are self-paced, so the student can speed ahead or slow down as needed.

The Bentz Test Laboratory was excited to get a chance to check out the middle  school Chinese Courses by Middlebury Interactive Languages.  My tester is my 6th grade daughter, who wants to one day be a missionary to China.   She's been begging to learn Chinese - so this was a golden opportunity!  

Middlebury Interactive Languages ReviewMiddle School Chinese 1 is an interactive online program for grades 6-8 that targets four key language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students are introduced to vocabulary themes, grammar concepts, sentence structure plus culture through detailed online instruction, guided learning and progress at their own pace.  This program has a total of 90 lessons per semester, with the recommendation that students complete a lesson per day for 18 weeks.  Introduction to Chinese-speaking countries, as well as history, food, and literature, heightens cultural awareness and appreciation of the Chinese-speaking world. Both Chinese characters and pinyin are presented together throughout the course.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

It's easy to get started, and best of all -  mom doesn't need to know Chinese!

It's easy to log-on to the online program where my tester could see a calendar of lessons and begin learning.  This is an immersive approach, much like how you learned to speak your native language.  Words are introduced with colorful pictures and real-life scenarios to make it very engaging.  A variety of activities accompany each lesson.  She was able to complete a lesson in under 15 minutes, so - you could do more than one lesson a day if you wanted to.

My tester was able to print vocabulary sheets that contained the Chinese characters, pronunciation and English translation.  These were helpful to have handy as she worked through the online lesson.

Many times, I joined her - just to watch how she was doing.  I must say, I was impressed by how much Chinese I was beginning to recognize!

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

The program automatically scores activities and  keeps track of your progress, so - you can return right where you left off. Chinese is a very difficult language to learn, so even just the exposure to it and the Chinese culture was well worth the investment in the program.  My tester found that she needed to listen, and relisten to certain phrases or words - this was easy to do in the self-paced format.

Middlebury offers 4 language courses :Spanish CoursesFrench Courses,  German Courses & Chinese Courses.  They're a great way to expose your children to the world - without leaving home!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate: A TOS Crew Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from  Standard Deviants Accelerate

Standard Deviants Accelerate ReviewOnline courses available in:
Arithmetic - Grades 3+
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
Earth Science - Grades 6+
Nutrition - Grades 6+
Algebra - Grades 7+
Biology - Grades 7+
Chemistry - Grades 9+
English Comp. - Grades 9+
U.S. History - Grades 9+
AP Biology - Grades 11+
AP Chemistry - Grades 11+
AP U.S. Government & Politics - Grades 11+
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+

Ages 8 through adult 

$99 for a year, or $24.95 per month (one student).  
AP test prep courses are available for one student for $14.95 per month

I've got two questions for you - 
1. Do you have any middle or high school students? 
2. Do you have plenty of extra time lying around to search out great supplements and high interest learning tools to keep them motivated and eager to learn? 

 If you answered "yes" to my first question, and "no" to my second - you may want to check out Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from  Standard Deviants Accelerate

These are 14 unique, online, supplemental courses in math, science, history, composition and even AP test prep.   designed to capture their interest and keep them excited to learn! 

 I just love this quote about their approach: "It’s simple:  Teach, Test, Re-teach, Laugh, Rinse and Repeat. It’s a teaching system that emphasizes both breadth and depth of knowledge, instructing students on a thorough range of topics while continuing to engage them in higher levels of thinking."

The tester from the Bentz Test Laboratory is a 9th grade high school genius (just a bit of bragging...sorry!)  It's relatively easy to set up an online learning classroom.  Once you have done this, your child needs their own  email to complete this step, you can easily add the courses they are interested in.

For our review, my tester used the Algebra and Biology courses, since he is already studying these subjects.  Standard Deviants is not intended to be full curriculum, but it makes a great supplement!  Since it's online and self-paced, my tester could pick and choose what topics he wanted or needed to spend more time on. A general course outline makes it easy to see what topics are available.  

In addition to short 3-15 minute instruction videos, the program offers review activities, quizzes, writing assignments, and tests.  

My tester is a tad too serious (keepin' it real) and he found the videos a bit goofy.  I'm sure many kids this age would LOVE them - I thought they were hilarious and CLEVER!  

One of the best features of the program, in my opinion, is the use of humor and plenty of silly characters to help teach the concepts and make them stick.  I wish someone had taught me RAINBOW math during algebra ;-)   I love adding some zany humor now and then, just to keep us laughing! 

My tester enjoyed the humor, in spite of himself, and really liked getting to pick and choose what suited his needs.  This is a fun program, but - there is plenty of serious learning going on as well.  

We took a peek at almost all of the 14 available courses.  I thought each was well done, and plan to go back and integrate Standard Deviants into more of my student's assignments.  One note of caution - Standard Deviants is not produced or taught from a Christian worldview - your students will hear evolution and big bang theory... but, you can also choose to skip those parts easily.

You can choose to print off hard copies, or work online - or both.  My tester really liked the flexibility of this program.  I was impressed by the depth of information.  

The grading for most of the student's work is done online.  ALL of the prep work is done for you - you don't have to spend hours looking for high interest teaching tools!  Standard Deviants makes it easy on you as the teacher.  Check out this video to learn more about how the Teacher Account works: 

This is an effective tool, especially for your visual or auditory learners.  It's engaging and easy to use.  I would recommend taking a peek at it yourself!

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Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Serve with Them!

Serve with your children!  Give them a vision for something bigger than themselves,  I promise - it will change them and you... and the WORLD!

We took our 8 kiddos to a mobile pack event for Feed my Starving Children.  We were privileged to be part of the teams that packed over 4 million meals in just a few days.  GO TEXAS!

 Our family personally packed around 500 meals, while rocking some cool hairnets. Bonus, you get to keep the hairnet :-)

Just a few hours of our time... and we made a difference.  You can too!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Apologia Educational Ministries : A TOS Crew Review

Apologia Review

iWitness Biblical Archaeology - $14 ,  New Testament iWitness- $14 & Old Testament iWitness - $14   from Apologia Educational Ministries

Apologia ReviewApologia Review

The iWitness series 
from Apologia Educational Ministries, recommended for ages 11 up a series that presents Biblical information in a fun, fresh way.   Each book is designed to look like a stack of documents.   Your student gets to investigate them and explore for answers on their own.

Instead of being a dusty textbook approach, your student gets challenged to look for answers on their own.  These books tackle many of the most common questions they may get challenged on as Christians, or even have themselves.  By getting them involved in looking for the answers, you get them to really own the information.  These books just beg to be explored!

The interview with the author - Doug Powell,  is an excellent place to find out more about his unique perspective and approach.

The Bentz Test Laboratory tester is my newly turned 15 (gulp) high school son.  My tester is fascinated with archaeology, so iWitness Biblical Archaeology immediately captured his attention.

The book is jam packed with information! Investigations of artifacts from the Flood to Jesus' Burial Shroud entralled him. Each section has a number of tidbits of information, plenty of pictures, and lots of evidence to explore. We both love how examining the evidence leads us closer to God. History is his story revealed to us, and this book does a great job of creating a desire to know even more.

New Testament iWitness takes you on a exploration of the Early church leaders, like Athansius and Eusebius, what criteria was used to create the canon of Scripture, the Church Fathers, the copying of Scripture, texual criticisms, information about recovered texts. 

This was a fascinating look at the Bible and how we got it. Since we had just studied this time period last year in history, it was even more appealing to my tester. I highly recommend this for all history students!

Old Testament iWitness tackles some important questions like - Who wrote the books of the Bible and where did they come from? How can we know the Old Testament is historically accurate?

The Tanakh, Canon, Septuagint, Torah, Nevim, Ketuvim, Apocrypha, & Vulgate are all explained and investigated.

Information about the prophets, Dead Sea Scrolls and Intertestimental Periods are introduced as well. Ever wonder why some books were included, and some not?  This books does a great job showing how carefully Scripture has traveled down time to us.  My tester and I,  enjoyed learning about this rich history of the Old Testament.

The books in the series are very nicely done with solid information and lots of visual interest. The combination of photographs, sidebars, and artwork create an invitation to study them.  My tester's only criticism was that the fonts used sometimes made the text hard to read (he's kinda picky that way...) many of the fonts are designed to look "handwritten".  In my opinion - it just added charm to the book.   These are great additions to your Bible study, and to your history studies.  In fact, these are they type of books you don't want to miss!

I personally love how Apologia keeps bringing us great tools to teach our children with - thank you for another homerun.  Our Bible study time has come alive with this new series.  We can't wait two new volumes in the series to be released in 2015. (Resurrection and Jesus iWitness books)

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Take the Time to Shoot!

I have to tell you,  sometimes you just got to take the time to shoot!

My awesome son just turned 15,  he's way into archery.  So, for his birthday - I took him to the Archery Academy and signed him up for the membership.  Yep, card carrying Texan Archers!  His membership includes me... and some siblings too.

I was thinking, I'll just sit and watch....  But, not this day!  The attendant asked if I wanted to shoot too?  What?  I haven't done that since I was a kid.  But, since I didn't want to grade papers anyway...  I gave it a try.

Guess what?  I GOT A BULLSEYE!!  Yes, I did! (yes, I made this picture extra large so you couldn't miss it!)

I hate to admit this, but my next shot almost took out the air conditioner at the shooting range...

But, you get my point - you just got to shoot - or you'll never get a bullseye.  Not to mention, you can make unforgettable memories with your teenage son :-)