Thursday, September 22, 2016

Annual Subscription from A Homeschool Crew Review Annual Subscription

Annual Subscription from

Email is a fact of life, but how do you introduce this to your younger students safely?  Bentz Test Laboratory has found a wonderful way to explore the online world with a Annual Subscription from

This online subscription offers you and your children a safe email environment.  Our subscription allowed up to 6 children accounts.  Accounts are all setup by the parent.  Each one of the accounts includes safety features such as:
  • Mail Monitoring
  • Time Restrictions
  • Contact Manager
  • Offensive Word Filter
  • GPS
  • No Ads
  • SPAM Filters

Several of my older testers already have and use email, so we used this with 3 of our younger testers - grades 6th,5th and 3rd.  They LOVED it!

Setting up a parent account was easy, and I had access to many options to customize the security for my testers.  For instance, I opted to get a blind cc of every email that is sent or received, and I get to approve the message (or not).  I really like having this control. I can also control the contact list for who can send them email, and who they can send to.  It prevents any unwanted contacts and/or spam or advertising going directly to my child. blocks all advertising and offensive language from your child's account.

My 6th grade daughter was excited to have the option for a more "sophisticated" look with her own account.  I can set up time limits, and even use GPS monitoring (although...none of my children get a phone until they are proud owners of a driver's license...).  My daughter was so excited, she flooded every family member's email box with sweet little emails directly from her! Annual Subscription Annual Subscription
My younger testers enjoyed the process of customizing their login pages almost as much as having an actual email.  They have a large variety of backgrounds that your child can choose from.  They can also organize their mail in folders.  (a helpful skill my older children haven't mastered yet...)

They haven't gone quite as crazy with emailing everyone - but, they have enjoyed having their very own way to send their college-age brother messages.  He's been happy to see all this love from home too!

For really young students...they offer a "read it" feature that will actually read the email to your child.  My testers were able to read their own, so we didn't use this one. 

Kidsemail offers a "drawing board" for your artistic ones.  They can draw their own pictures, and send them.  My 3rd grader loved this part - her messages are mostly pictures. Annual Subscription Annual Subscription Annual Subscription

Parents can also control the attachments allowed - pictures, files, etc.  I could also see a handy activity log to keep track of how much they are using it.  Once the novelty wore off, their emailing tapered off to a manageable amount.

It's very handy to be able to send them notes as well.  It's our own form of  homeschool "lunch box notes" where I write a quick note of encouragement.

This is a very easy-to-use,affordable way to begin introducing the online world while guarding their hearts.  

Highly recommend!

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Hashtags: #hsreviews #kidsemail #emailforkids Annual Subscription Annual Subscription
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles: A Homeschool Crew Reveiw

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles
The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles from CTM Publishing Atlanta by Mark S. Mirza

The Pray-ers / Book 1 TroublesPrayer.  Our most powerful weapon.  Author Mark S. Mirza has written a powerful, ficion story to teach us the power of prayer in his book The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles from CTM Publishing Atlanta.

The Bentz test laboratory got a chance to take a peek at this 363 page softcover book.  The book tells the story of the power of prayer in three distinct, but interconnected storylines.  The stories take place in three different time periods.  A 1st century Christian - Epaphras, a contemporary of Paul.  A 18th century circuit preacher named Alexander Rich. And the current era through a college professor - Dr. Dale.  The common thread are the angels and demons we meet that have been "assigned" to these men.

I decided to read this one before letting any of my testers.  The creativity and descriptive language of this talented author paint vivid pictures of the unseen spiritual world.  I do plan to let my teenage testers read this one.  It's very well done.

This book really opens your eyes to spiritual warfare.  The war that is being waged all around us.  I love how this author uses the power of fiction to tell us about the power of our prayers.  The stories are teaching us principles of prayer, but not preaching.  

The angels and demons are portrayed realistically, and Bibilically.  I really liked that Biblical references are footnoted on pages throughout.

My high school students are currently reading C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, this reminds me of that book - it would be a great followup for them. 

I found the book to be an easy read.  But, I would recommend that you preview if you have sensitive children.  
Find The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubleson Social Media:

Twitter: @ThePrayersNovel

Hashtags: #hsreviews #prayersnovel #christianfiction

See what other members of the Crew thought here

The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles

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He's home...

After all our summer road trips, a weekend at the beach... it came.  Move-in day!

He's attending the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in Belton, TX.  2 1/2 hours away.  It's happening...

What a bittersweet day!!  I'm so excited for his new adventure, he's soooo ready, and I'm just not sure I'm ready...

It was pouring rain.  His roommate seems nice.  Did I remember to tell him all the important things? Did I pack what he really needs?  Is he ready?  Are we?

We moved his pile into the room pretty fast (helps to have lots of us!) and had him unpacked and arranged pretty quick.  His sisters :-)  I kept reorganizing everything, I'm not sure he'll even know what is there until mid-semester when he happens to discover it.

He is ready.

I will be....after I dry a few tears...

 He was interviewed on TV!  Just minutes after we unpacked.  He's going to be a rock-star.

I barely made it through the "Parent talk" at Welcome Week - telling us they are ready, they will be okay, we will be okay.  Now - go home and leave them!

Our final family pic of the summer...  the last one of "us" like we have always been...together!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Help Teaching Pro Subscription from A TOS Crew Review

Help Teaching Pro Subscription {}
Help Teaching Pro Subscription   from

I just love it when I can find everything I'm looking for in one place, especially online!   My Help Teaching Pro Subscription   from is just that place! does offer a "member" level - you can give a try for free. 

This easy-to-use site offers customizable tests, printable worksheets, on-line lessons, games and more for students in grades K-12.  I've been using it for awhile now, and you can read my previous post (which focuses on resources for high school students) here. This time - I can't wait to show you some of the treasures I found for my younger students!

This very affordable subscription offers a VAST selection of printable worksheets, tests, lessons, and  more all organized by subject, grade level, or even topic. If you don't find one, you can make your own too.  

Here's a quick glimpse at what you can explore - Arts, English, Science, Math, Social Studies, Seasons & Holidays, and Art & Music.  I spent most of my time in the 2nd and 3rd grade level for my testers. 

I'm going to show you some of the goodies I uncovered.  First, On-line Lessons.  Many of the lessons include a video with the lesson. My testers are visual learners, and they love getting to watch the lesson and then do the practice questions online. You can schedule lessons and quizzes online for your child, and send them via email.  My testers are a bit young for this option right now, but it's very convenient if you have older students as well.

The Game Generator.  Here you can create your own bingo cards and word searches.  I love making these with their weekly spelling words and literature vocabulary.  We are also working on those pesky multiplication facts and had a great time making it more fun with bingo!

If you don't see a quiz, test or worksheet you want, you can make your own.  It's easy to do, or just search by subject for ones that are ready to go. You can choose T/F, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and open ended formats. The Pro Plan allows you to create tests with up to 100 questions (the free version only allows 10 question tests) They can be printed, scheduled or taken online.

 I found this gem...Fitness Bingo!  We are doing this as a family,  I printed it, laminated it (a birthday present..a laminator - can you say HOMESCHOOL NERD?) and we are playing "blackout" where you need to complete the entire board.  

 Worksheets and Tests - they have them available for every subject, on every topic you can imagine.  Really...check it out, Football Rules, Scavenger Hunts, and Alphabetical Order.  Did I mention...all in one place, no hunting the internet for hours!   

Help Teaching Pro Subscription {}Help Teaching Pro Subscription {}

One of my favorite sections was the Literature Quizzes.  These correspond to many of the books my testers are reading, and the work (with answer key) is all done for me!

Help Teaching Pro Subscription {}

This is one program I use over and over.  Plus the program is an affordable $24.95 per year, you can't afford not to have it!

Find on Social Media:

Twitter: @helpteaching

#hsreviews #printables #printableworksheets #Math #Science #elementaryworksheets

See what other members of the Crew thought here

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Getting Started with French from Armfield Academic Press: A TOS Crew Review

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}
Getting Started with French from Armfield Academic Press

Learning another language is a big part of our homeschool.  But, what about when your child wants to learn one that you don't know?  We've been using Getting Started with French from Armfield Academic Press, and are excited to share it!

This is a 281 page soft-cover book with additional resources  - pronunciation mp3s and Author Commentary files available online.  It is designed for beginners, and students of all ages to work independently. The author also has two other books in the "Getting Started with..." series - Latin and Spanish, Russian is coming soon.  You can Take a peek for yourself too and see a sample. 

The book contains 172 lessons.  Lessons are intended to be self-taught with the help of pronunciation mp3s.  The lessons are also short, just a few minutes a day. They recommend doing short, daily sessions for the maximum learning.

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}My tester is in high school, has dutifully done his 2 years of Spanish, but - wanted to learn French instead.  I do not know the first thing about French!

He has been using Getting Started with French, and he is really enjoying it.  It's particularly great for visual learners.  .

The early lessons focus on pronunciation with the vocabulary word printed in bold - French can be tricky, words don't sound like the look!  The vocabulary is presented to help you learn the words for everyday activities like being, going, eating, and more.  This way, you can put what you learn into use right away.

The Author Commentaries (online or downloadable) are short, but very useful.  They give more grammar teaching, and some tips about how words are used.  My tester would start with this, and then move onto the lesson in the book.  That way, he had already heard the words pronounced correctly.

Grammar, translation exercises, conversational skills, and composition skills are covered.  The lessons are sequential and build on each other.  The best part is that you go at your own pace, and can repeat lessons as needed.

I think this is a great way to give your student an exposure to another language.  It's easy, not teacher intensive, very affordable and my student is picking up quite a bit of French already!

Hashtags: #hsreviews #homeschoolforeignlanguage #foreignlanguage #frenchcurriculum

See what other members of the Crew thought here

Introducing Getting Started with French {Armfield Academic Press}
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Thursday, September 8, 2016

CHSH Download Club from A TOS Crew Review

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}
CHSH Download Club (Christian HomeSchool Hub)

The beginning of the school year is always possibilities are everywhere!  I have been enjoying exploring them with a new favorite resource the CHSH Download Club (Christian HomeSchool Hub) from 

I truly have no idea how anyone homeschooled before the internet, do you?  However, searching for that perfect complement, or freebie can be extremely time consuming.  Time is a commodity I don't have much of lately...

Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

CHSH Download Club is a subscription site that offers over 50,000 downloadable educational resources - take a peek at theire Download Catalog   for grades Prek-12.  You can homeschool your entire crowd with this site!  Best of all, it's all organized and available right in one place - no more searching! (except through their massive collection of amazing resources)  The download library contains full curriculum and supplemental resources as well.  

Not only can you find that perfect "something" but you can become a contributor by adding  your own, self-made curriculum or printable that you have created.

CHSH founder Lynda Ackert is a regular contributor and actually sells many downloads on popular Teacher resource pages.  As a Download Club subscriber, you'll have access to all of them! You can check out the freebies page to see a glimpse of what you get as a subscriber.

I can spend hours on sites like this. This one is very easy to navigate. You can search by topics like:

  • Bible
  • Language Arts
  • Science
  • Foreign Language
  • Arts, Crafts, Music
  • Electives
  • Math
  • Social Studies
  • Health
Or - they are also organized by Grade level.  Here's a few treasures I discovered:

I jumped right into Bible resources (my favorite)  I was so excited to find the "Bold Believers" downloads.  These are a great way to teach your child about geography - and the persecuted believers around the world at the same time.  

We are studying Ancient history this year, the Download Club had everything I needed to create a great unit study.  Like these awesome Egyptian craft ideas.

I have elementary through high schoolers.  It can be quite a challenge to find great resources for the high school level.  But, the Download Club is packed with them, did I searching - all in one place?

The Literature section alone is worth the affordable $25 annual subscription! (they promise to never raise your subscription fee)  Lifetime subscriptions are available as well.

CHSH also offers many other treats like a blog and forum that are excellent ways to connect with other homeschooling families to get advice and share tips.

New downloads are being added all the time.  This is one of those sites that is a "must have" - Be sure to check it out for yourself! 

Find  on Social Media:

Facebook Group:
Facebook Page:
Google+ Group:
Google Business Page:

Hashtags: #hsreviews #CHSH #homeschool #homeschoolresources

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Christian HomeSchool Hub {Download Club}

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Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition from Apologia Educational Ministries: A TOS Crew Review

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Review
Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Review

Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition  from Apologia Educational Ministries   
WOW!  Get ready for an adventure around the galaxy! We have been delighted with the NEWLY updated Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition  from Apologia Educational Ministries This elementary science course is designed for grades K-6, 
We were fortunate to get the following:
They also just released Astronomy 2nd Edition Science Kit - which contains all the supplies you need to complete the 42 activities found in the textbook and 21 bonus activities noted in the textbook and found only in the Apologia Astronomy Science Kit.

We have been long time fans of  Apologia Educational Ministries at the Bentz Test Laboratory.  We have even done this course in the past.  Let me tell you, this new edition is BEAUTIFUL! 

The Student Text is written directly to your student and is filled with full color photography that will inspire your young students to take a trip around the universe to see what God designed.  By spending 2 weeks on each of the 14 lessons, you have a full year of learning.

The 14 lessons cover:
  • What is Astronomy?
  • The Sun
  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • The Moon
  • Mars
  • Space Rocks
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
  • Kuiper Belt & Dwarf Planets
  • Stars, Galaxies, and Space Travel

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy ReviewThe Text includes hands-on activities that are easy to do, and require minimal supplies.  This is our favorite way to do science, by experiencing it - not just reading about it.  It's a very easy curriculum to just open and go.  My testers were able to work quite independently, although everyone wanted to help them!

My young testers enjoyed making their own solar system models.  The text inspired them, and they took their models beyond the balloons and made their model with perler beads!

They also were using the solar power to melt chocolate chips (I forgot to grab a picture of this) But, they learned that South Texas sun is HOT! :-)

The Notebooking Journals are my favorite part of this curriculum.  They offer 2 levels, one for your older elementary students, and one designed especially for your younger ones.  My testers were in grades 6 and 2.  They each had their own Notebooking journal.

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy ReviewApologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Review

The contain handy "Suggested Daily Schedules"  I let my students use those and check their work as they finish - simple planning for mom!  The Journals contain places for them to record their observations, Scripture copywork, activity/experiment pages, crosswords, vocabulary, "What do you Remember" reviews and mini books (perfect for lapbook fans!).

The Notebooking Jr. contains coloring pages instead of the "What do you Remember" reviews, nice for students who aren't big fans of writing too.

The Journals make an excellent way to keep everything they are learning well organized, and we love looking back at them at the end of the year.  Apologia also offers a Field Trip Journal (read my review here) - another great tool you can use to record your learning adventures together. 

The Audio CD is a great companion for the busy mom too.  It is a very well done audio recording of the Student Text.  We like to listen to this while we're on-the-go.  It's especially nice for younger students who may not be at the right reading level yet.  Sometimes, it's just nice to give mom's voice a break! 

Apologia: Exploring Creation with Astronomy Review

This is a wonderful, rich, and fun-filled way to study God's creation!  
Find Apologia Educational Ministries  on Social Media:

Twitter: @apologiaworld

Hashtags: #hsreviews #apologia #astronomy #homeschoolscience

Exploring Creation with Astronomy, 2nd Edition Review
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