Friday, August 22, 2014

Happy Kids Songs: A TOS Crew Review

Happy Kids Songs Review

Happy Kids Songs - Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-On Activities to Build Character, Social, and Emotional Skills.

Emotional Skills
Friends & Sharing (Set 1) - $4.95

Happy Kids Songs Review

The Friends & Sharing album contains 5 original songs:

- Sailing on the Seven Cs (about the “Ingredients” of friendship)
- Everybody Wants to Find a Friend
- Sharing Friends (Including others in play)
- Happy as Happy Can Be
- Together (Sharing time/saying goodbye)
Happiness & Attitude (Set 5) $4.95
Happy Kids Songs Review
Volume 5, Happiness & Attitude starts out with -
Shake It Out and Dance, a modern pop tune about turning “I can’t” to “I can.” This album also includes: - Who Knows What’s a Kudo? (About Giving compliments)
 - I Don’t Understand (Handling limitations & asking for help)
 - Be Good to Yourself 
- Better Together 

Manners & Character (Set 6)- $4.95
Happy Kids Songs Review
Volume 6 topics included honesty, manners, quirks, the golden rule & how there is more than one way to view a situation.

Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-On Activities to Build Character, Social, and Emotional Skills.  - $12.56

Happy Kids Songs Review

Geared for ages 3-8, but children ages 0-9 are likely to enjoy this too!

By signing up for their email newsletter, you can get access to all their PDF’s and get a free song each month.

Bentz Test Laboratory has a bunch of music loving littles around! Happy Kids Songs has created 8 albums of catchy tunes to help reinforce character lessons for your younger crowd.  We took a listen to 3:  Friends and Sharing (Set 1), Happiness and Attitude (Set 5), Manners and Character (Set 6). 
We also got a peek at the Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-On Activities to Build Character, Social, and Emotional SkillsCheck out Dr. Mac's introduction on this short video:

We received downloads of these songs, and were easily able to enjoy them on my mobile device, or - you can burn a CD to take on the go with you.  We are logging a lot of hours in the van lately (anyone feel my pain...) so, it's a perfect time to share some music that has a message! 
The songs are professionally produced, and very catchy.  These little tunes tend to stick in your head - by design.  They focus on character issues common to many children this age.  Not specifically Christian, but strong moral messages. 
One of my tester's favorites was "Sailing on the Seven C's"  from Friends and Sharing - Consideration, commitment, communication, concern, curiosity, and cooperation.  It's a great message - and reinforces the message that we have been teaching our children at our Co-op! (we call it the 3 C's...)

Another song that was VERY meaningful for several of my daughters was "Together".  Since we just moved, we've been dealing with a lot of sadness about leaving friends behind.  Here's an excerpt:
It's time to go, to say good-bye.
  But we know the reason why
 We can never end
Time that we spend together,
Because you're my friend.
Happiness and Attitude has another family favorite - "Shake it Out and Dance" - about moving away from the "I can't".  Do you have a kiddo that struggles with this?  Feeling like they can't do something?  Well, you can just "Shake it Out and Dance!"  Works every time around here!  The discouragement turns into a dance party, and everyone feels better!  Even mom :-)

Happy Kids Songs Workbook: Hands-On Activities to Build Character, Social, and Emotional Skills is a handy 122 page workbook that contains all the lyrics to the songs, as well as hands-on activities and crafts that you can use to teach the character traits.  This would be the perfect companion to use the music in a Co-op or classroom setting. 

Find Happy Kids Songs on FacebookTwitter, & YouTube
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

One Last Hurrah!

Summer's almost over...  can you hear them?  The school bell's are ringing!  We got one precious last drop of summer fun with our dear Arkansas friends.  Rather than bore you with the details, I'll leave you with some pictures of what last week looked like...

A weekend getaway with my sweetheart - Fredericksburg, German Food, and SHOPPING!!

Not one, but TWO Birthday celebrations!

Our best buddies from Arkansas here to visit, and of course we went to SeaWorld!

Riding rides, enjoying the shows, and unlimited food bracelets...

Pool time too!

Riverwalk shopping, and the Rainforest Cafe

Now, that's a week to end the summer with!!

Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament from Wizzy Gizmo: A TOS Crew Review

Wizzy Gizmo Review

Wizzy Gizmo Review

Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament from Wizzy Gizmo

Great for ALL ages!   Cost - $14.99

I love new tools for Bible study, don't you?  Fast Track Bible Pack: New Testament from Wizzy Gizmo is just the fun tool to add to your Bible studies this year.   Wizzy Gizmo is a brilliant inventor, who creates products to help make the Bible come alive!   This "gizmo" contains 27 - 5x9 , sturdy cardstock cards,  one for each book in the New Testament.  These cards are the perfect way to introduce the New Testament books to your children.  They would also be a handy resource to keep around for your Sunday school and Co-op classes.

The Front of each card contains a simple summary, with interesting facts, about each New Testment book.  The Author, number of chapters, and a timeline of the date of writing is included.  The main theme of the book is also listed on the front of the card.  I really appreciated that every card followed the same format, so you could easily find the same information for different books. 

On the back of the card, you will find a wealth of information to help you dive into deeper study.  An outline, key chapters, key passages and doctrines plus the key people are all listed to give you an "at a glance" snapshot of that particular book of the Bible.

Wizzy Gizmo's website offers suggestions of how to use these tools with different ages- check them out here.  These are truly something that ALL my ages can use, even myself!

What we liked best at Bentz Test Laboratory was the design.  These colorful cards are just the right size for taking with you, putting into your Bible, or even hanging on the fridge (where everyone is sure to see it!)

We also thought of all the ways we could use these cards to help us learn more about our Bible.
  • My youngest testers took a sticker, and covered the number of the book on the front of the card, and shuffled them up.  Then, they practiced putting the books of the New Testament into the proper order.

  • My older testers liked to take the cards and arrange them into a chronological order from the date of writing information, creating a visual Bible timeline.

  • We also enjoyed putting them into piles by the author who wrote that particular book. Do you know who wrote most of the New Testament?  You can SEE it when you stack them up!

  • We decided that we'll also use these cards for our family Scripture memory time. We began with posting the card on the fridge, and memorizing the Key scripture on the front.  Week by week, we'll be memorizing a key verse from each book in the New Testament.

  • With 27 books, it works out nicely for our school year plan as well.  We'll be doing a more in depth study from the information on the back of the cards.  One card per week, gets us a Bible study curriculum for our homeschool!   Best of all, we can customize the information for all the levels we have - Kindergarten through High School. 

I love the way you can use these cards in so many ways.  It's a very affordable "gizmo" that will give you plenty of ways to study your Bibles!   For your visual learners, you won't find a better way to make Bible study come alive.

Other Crew members got to check out these great products : Audio Drama One: Who Created Everything?Book One: Who Created Everything?Book Two: In His Image - you should too!

Find Wizzy Gizmo on   Facebook, TwitterPinterest, Google+:   & Vimeo

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Girl Time

I finally got the opportunity to sneak away with just my swee daughter, Selah. We planned our first Mother/Daughter Getaway to Fredericksburg, TX.

Only about a hour and half away... it was a perfect destination for us.

First stop... lunch at a German restaurant (what Fredricksbug is famous for) and then off to the quilt shop!! One Quilt Place is a wonderful shop, we both walked in and took a huge breath of delight!  Fabric is a shared love of ours.  

But, our getaway wasn't just about eating and shopping (although, we did a lot of both of those activities...)  I took Selah away on my first ever - Passport to Purity weekend,  a time for us to discuss the important changes and challenges she'll be facing as she heads into her teenage years.

This is an amazing curriculum to guide you through this conversation.  It is audio cd's with Dennis Rainey and his wife, Barbara teaching.  VERY WELL DONE!  In addition to the 5 lessons, they have 5 demonstration projects you prepare to reinforce the teaching points, a journal to take notes in, and plenty of parental support to guide you through, even a what to pack list.  (this isn't a review by the way, I just loved this program and wanted to share.)

This was just the program we needed.  It gave me a structure to work with, and the teaching was very straightforward and offered us plenty of discussion points.  I had been very nervous about doing "the talk", but it turned out to be a very special and bonding time for us.  I wouldn't have done it any other way!

My beautiful young woman, how blessed am I?

Told you we ate all the time!!


We stayed at a sweet Bed & Breakfast,  and had our cream with or without coffee on the gazebo every morning.  Our last night, we completed the study with Selah signing a contract to maintain her purity, and wait to date.  Matt and I gave her a grown-up, beautiful pink and brown study Bible to remind her of this special time. 

After a special dinner out at a nice spot - we went back to our plush bedroom and watched HGTV together...girl style ;-)

Best weekend getaway ever!

Dave Raymond's American History from Roman Roads Media : A TOS Crew Review

Roman Roads Media Review
Dave Raymond's American History 1  From  Roman Roads Media

Suitable for 6th grade and up

A 2 Part series, each part is sold separately in a 4 disc DVD set.  Includes: Video Presentations, Teacher's Guide and Student Reader (in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats).  Cost: $100 (each part).  ON SALE for $75 each right now!

Roman Roads Media Review

Check out a sample of the Teacher's Guide  and  Student's Reader

I'm am super excited about this one... just a little warning!  Dave Raymond's American History 1  
From Roman Roads Media is my latest discovery in the search for our American History curriculum for this coming year.  

I spotted this gem months ago, and bought both parts on DVD as quick as I could - it looked that good!  I was even more excited to see it as a review as part of the TOS Crew.  I was given a downloadable Dave Raymond's American History 1  to preview.

The Bentz Test Laboratory loves history.  But, we do not love history lessons from dusty textbooks, dry, boring and filled with endless dates... We love history that engages us, introduces us to important figures, and engages us in the story of what God has been doing throughout history.  

Dave Raymond's American History 1  does just that!  I have found it hard to find a history program for my upper middle school and high school students that meets our history study requirements.  Many of the programs suitable for this age seem to be primarily textbooks.  I wanted something more for my students, being a lover of history,  I want them to love it too.  This program met and exceeded my expectations!

Here's a little taste....
The lessons in Part 1 include 13 weeks of study covering these topics:

  1. Orientation
  2. The Banner of the Sun: Meso-America
  3. Brave New World: The Early Explorers
  4. The Colossus of Empire: The Colonies
  5. Stability and Change: The Reformational Colonies
  6. A City Upon a Hill: The Puritans
  7. A Foreign War at Home: Wars of Control
  8. Grace, the Founder of Liberty: The Great Awakening
  9. Fathers of Independence: Adams, Franklin, Witherspoon, and Henry
  10. Liberty or Death: The Declaration of Independence
  11. Awesome Providence I: The War of Independence
  12. Awesome Providence II: The War of Independence
  13. A More Perfect Union: The Constitution
Part 2 topics (we didn't review this section, but - you may want to see all the topics covered)

  1. Federal Headship: George Washington
  2. How Good and Pleasant It Is: Adams and Jefferson
  3. Manifest Destiny: Settlers, Explorers, and War
  4. Word and Deed: John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson
  5. The Original United Nations: The Expansion of the Early US
  6. Idols of Mercy: Revival, Counterfeits, and Art
  7. A House Divided I: The Age of Compromise and Divided Cultures
  8. A House Divided II: Abraham Lincoln and Secession
  9. The Second War of Independence: The War Between the States
  10. Brother Against Brother: The War Between the States II
  11. The Lost Cause: Reconstruction
  12. A New Normal: The West, Immigration, and Robber Barons
  13. Theology as Biography: Theodore Roosevelt and Booker T. Washington 
Each lesson contains 5 video presentations, taught by Dave Raymond.   Dave Raymond is an experienced, Christian teacher.  The videos are very professionally done, and only about 10 minutes each.  You could do one per day, or several in one sitting, which is how we choose to view them.  Notetaking is encouraged during the videos, and my testers really needed this skill.  Not often in our homeschool studies do they get the opportunity to hone this valuable skill...  In addition to the video presentations, there are reading assignments, writing assignments, weekly exams, ongoing portfolio work and projects.  This is truly a balanced curriculum - suitable for all learning styles.  

Some of the projects include; a colonial mapping project, a costumed character speech, a research paper, and one of our favorite ideas - the "hour project".  This project involves the student crafting a single project in a medium of their choice about any topic covered during the course of the study.  Suggestions like creating a working cotton gin, re-enacting an early American baseball game, and cooking a traditional Irish-American meal instantly caught and held the attention and imaginations of my testers!

The Portfolio is a "visual textbook" that the student creates by themself.  They can use visual entries like photographs, famous paintings, and artwork. Additionally, they are encouraged to write entries as well. Your student in encouraged to create this with their best craftsmanship, and is graded on completion. 

The Teacher's Guide has plenty of guidance, and rubrics to help you objectively grade your student's work. I love that this is not a standard fill-in-the-blank type of curriculum.  You will be evaluating their research, craftsmanship, appropriateness, ingenuity, ownership and even work ethic!  

Answers for all the lesson questions and exams are included in the Teacher's Guide for your convenience,  nice to be able to stay a step ahead of these high schoolers!  Speaking of the lesson questions and exams, they are challenging and are designed to make your student think and process what they are learning. For example, exam #1 is to write an essay from a collection of history quotes.  

Throughout the Student Reader, my testers were reading selections from source documents, which are included in the reader, that accompanied the video presentations.  A nice feature of this curriculum is that you can read it on most mobile devices (they include PDF, MOBI, and EPUB versions for you).  I printed out the Student Reader & Teacher Guide and had them spiral bound.  I prefer a hard copy, but my tester's like to take their reading with them on the go.

This 2 part course has a total of 26 lessons (Part 1 has 13 lessons, Part 2 has 13 lessons), and a total of 4 projects.  When covered over the course of a year, this is a high school credit for American history.  My testers were able to work independently through this program, although - I was enjoying it alongside them.

The apologetically, Christian worldview is the very best part of this high school course!  With so many changes being made to American history standards in the public arena, you'll be reassured that your students can have a high quality, high level American history course that will strengthen their Christian worldview at the same time.

Two thumbs up for Dave Raymond's American History!

Other members of the TOS Crew took a peek at some other amazing programs from Roman Roads Media   Including: Old Western Culture: The Greeks,  Old Western Culture: The Romans - The AeneidThe Grammar of PoetryDave Raymond's American History 1 or 2Economics for Everybody Curriculum and Visual Latin I and II - Make sure to check them out!
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