Thursday, November 12, 2015

Birth of Jesus: Multi-Level from Grapevine Studies: A TOS Crew Review

Grapevine Studies Review
Grapevine Studies Review

Birth of Jesus: Multi-Level from Grapevine Studies 

Grapevine Studies  are Bible study curriculum where your child draws stick figures, even your non-artistic types can do this, to document and interact with the Bible as they study God's Word.

I love how they describe their program:   "Grapevine Studies teaches the Bible as if it were a puzzle, doing the frame first. Once the framework is in place then individual pieces (Bible passages, characters, and events) are much easier to place and understand in the context of the "whole puzzle" (the whole counsel of the Word of God)."

Activities vary in each level.  Starting with tracing, they will progress to learning Biblical timelines, geography, and how to use different Bible study tools as they get older.  This is truly a unique Bible curriculum that you can use with the entire family.  My testers range in age from 6 to 18.

For our review, we got a PDF download of Birth of Jesus: Multi-Level - for ages 7+. This includes:

  • 65 page Teacher Manual 
  • 49 page Student Book
  • Special Bonus - Traceable Student Book , designed for ages 3-6.

To complete this study you will need a Bible, colored pencils, markers, access to a Bible dictionary, and atlas or map.

The study contains 4  lessons, and a Final Review which can either be completed 1- 2 lessons  a week or 24 daily lessons.  This study focuses on the Christmas story with chapters on:

  • The Announcement
  • The Birth of Jesus
  • The Proclamation
  • The Wise Men and Herod

The first lesson is drawing the Biblical timeline in stick figures,  My testers are about 50% creative, and 50% not-so-much.  That's one of the reasons we like this curriculum... it fits all of them!  

Each Lesson is clearly outlined in the must-have Teacher's Manual with the goal, key points, and memory verse.  You can use what ever version of the Bible you prefer.  I like that it gets my testers using their own Bible to look up the passages. 

Grapevine Studies ReviewThe Student Lesson begins with a Timeline Review.  The main section of the lesson is drawing stick figures to illustrate the Bible passage.  You can either print the Student pages (that have notebooking style sections for them to draw in)  or simply use blank paper to create your own.  You'll know which one works best for your family!

Each lesson includes review questions for you to discuss.  These questions made my testers really think about the passage and notice the details.  It's a great way to get them truly interacting with the Word. Each lesson wraps up with a "drawing review" where your child draws their favorite part of what they have just studied.

The Traceable pages have the stick figures drawn in (light grey) so your child can follow along, and simply trace the figures.  My younger testers liked this - it let them focus on what we were reading. 
I will admit, my younger testers loved this program (they are the 50% creative).  My teen age testers were not quite as enthusiastic (they are the 50% not-so-much).

It's a very easy to use, and affordable way to study God's Word together.  I think this would make an excellent study to do together during the Advent season as well.

Take a peek at some of the other levels the Crew reviewed:

Grapevine Studies ReviewBirth of Jesus: Beginner
Old Testament 1: Level 1 Creation to Jacob
Old Testament 1: Level 2 Creation to Jacob
Old Testament 1: Level 3 Creation to Jacob
Old Testament 1: Level 4 Creation to Jacob 

Find  Grapevine Studies  on Social Media:

Periscope: @Grapevine Studies

Practical Critical ThinkingThe Critical Thinking Co.: A TOS Crew Review

Practical Critical Thinking and Teacher Manual from 
The Critical Thinking Co.

For grades 9-12+, This is a combo of a 376 page color, Student book and the accompanying 240 page, black & white - Teacher’s Manual.

The Bentz Test Laboratory has been a long time fan of products from The Critical Thinking Co.  I was excited to get to try a new product for us - Practical Critical Thinking and Teacher Manual.  My tester is in 10th grade.

The Student Book is in color.  A very nice touch, it makes it instantly more appealing to today's teenagers.  This program really focuses in on developing Critical Thinking in our teens.  By focusing on emotion and meaning, we get them motivated, grab their attention and build their memory.

The book is organized with 4 Units, each unit includes 2 chapters, and each chapter features 7-9 lessons.  The lessons are short and concise.   My testers enjoyed the variety and the humor.

We love to start our school day with Critical Thinking as a way of "waking up our brain".  Take a peek at the contents:

Unit 1. Becoming a Critical Thinking -
  • Chapter 1: The 411 About Critical Thinking 
  • Chapter 2: Playing Games, Doing puzzles: Practice Critical Thinking Skills

Unit 2. Adding to My Critical Thinking Toolbox
  • Chapter 3: Some Basics Concepts for Critical Thinking
  • Chapter 4: Critical Thinking and Language

Unit 3. Critical Thinking and Arguments
  • Chapter 5: Analyzing Arguments
  • Chapter 6: Informal Fallacies

Unit 4. Applying My Critical Thinking
  • Chapter 7: Advertising
  • Chapter 8: Eyewitness Testimony, Direct & Circumstantial Evidence
This program is designed to be used either independently (the way we did) or can be used in a classroom setting.  I think it would make a great Co-op class!   Different activities are used to teach and practice essential Critical Thinking skills like; evaluating evidence, creative problem-solving, ambiguity, doublespeak, vagueness, arguments, fallacies, advertising, eyewitness testimony and more.

Activities include:
  • Thought Experiments 
  • Student Polls 
  • Practice Sessions 
  • Games and Puzzles 
  •  Predictions 
  •  Important Takeaways

Teacher's Manual is a valuable addition to this program!  It's divided into two sections:
  • Answers - I need this section to make sure they are on the right track.  Critical thinking is much more complex than simple math solutions.  This is where you get to stay one step ahead of your teens.
  • Reproducible Activities - Nice, especially if you are using this with multiple students.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Around the World in 8 Kids

This year's "Reverse Trick or Treat" theme.....  Around the World in 8 Kids!

Reverse Trick or Treat is when we dress up and take candy to all the people in my hubby's office.  

Our final year of all 8 kiddos participating...sniff...  Can you guess their countries?  Best of all, we didn't spend a penny!

Trick or treat!

Eat Your U.S. History Homework from Ann McCallum Books: A TOS Crew Review

Eat Your U.S. History Homework: Recipes for Revolutionary Minds from Ann McCallum Books

Check out this 48 page colorful,  hardcover book  that gives you a history lesson and a historically inspired recipe for 6 time periods in American History with tasty treats that are easy to make.
  • The Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1620 - Thanksgiving Succotash
  • The Thirteen Original Colonies, 1607-1776 - Colonial Cherry-Berry Grunt
  • The French and Indian War, 1754-1763 - Lost Bread
  • Slaves and the Southern Plantation, 1619-1863 - Southern Plantation Hoe Cakes
  • The American Revolution, 1775-1783 - Revolutionary Honey-Jumble Cookies
  • The Declaration of Independence, 1776 - Independence Ice Cream

The Bentz Test Labortory is studying American History this year, so Eat Your U.S. History Homework was the perfect compliment to our studies,  after all...who doesn't love to eat?  Ann McCallum believes that we are all connected by our "need for and love of food" - I believe she's right! This is a great resource for your 7-10 year olds, but all of my testers love to eat!

Each section begins with a short history lesson, perfect for introducing your children to this time period, and whetting their appetite to learn more.  Key words are in bold, and can be found in the glossary in the back, as well as a timeline.

My young testers loved the "rabbit"  in the cute, whimsical illustrations by Leeza Hernandez, the illustrator throughout this book.

The historically inspired recipe follows the history lesson.  We got a kick out of some of the "authentic" ingredients...i.e. Thanksgiving Succotash features not only bacon, but "2 hot dogs".  Wonder what the Pilgrims would think about that today :-)

The recipes are very easy to follow - and include illustrations of each step.  (I wish all my cookbooks did that!)  My testers could easily follow along.

There are "side dishes" through out the book as well.  These add another tidbit of history for your children to digest.  Most of these "side dishes" contained questions you can use to expand learning.  For example... "Take a look in your refrigerator, what food items would have been available to the Pilgrims of 1600? " This is where we laughed about the hot dogs!

On their website - I found a great 17 page Teacher's Guide to go along with this book that you can download.  It contains games, maps, graphs, activities and more.  This is a great way to add to the learning.

We all really enjoyed both reading and cooking from this book.  I think history is so much more memorable when you get to eat your way through it.  Sharing time in the kitchen together makes for some of your very best homeschooling memories!

Be sure to check out the other Ann McCallum titles:

Eat Your Math Homework

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Geography Fun!

What can be more fun than playing  geography twister-style with your friends?

We love our friends, we love our world...  and "Map Tangle" is the best way to make learning about your world fun!

I just checked for this game...I guess it's hard to find now, so grab it if you can...

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3: A TOS Crew Review

Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review
Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

Brinkman Adventures  exciting new audios
 The Brinkman Adventures: Season 3 
 12 new episodes with 5 hours of family friendly listening excitement  (available on 4 CDs or as an Mp3 download)

Episodes in Season 3 include… 
God’s Mule 
Mountain Mover 
The Silent Ambassador 
Translating Trouble 
Acorns & Oaks 
A Saint’s Story, Pt. 1 A 
Saint’s Story, Pt. 2 
Untouched Busy Bees 
 Bullhorn Missionary Tourist, Pt. 1
 Missionary Tourist Pt. 2

The Bentz Test Laboratory LOVED this one!!  We spend countless hours in our van on the way to various activities.  We enjoy passing this time listening to audio dramas, and this is most certainly a new family favorite.

The Brinkman Adventures Series tells real life missionary stories with big family adventures as they travel around the globe sharing the Gospel.  Their names have been changed for protection, but the actors/actresses play themselves.  What could be better...missionaries and BIG families, this is right up our alley.

Even though we had not listened to Seasons 1 & 2, we were able to jump right in and join the adventures of Season 3.    My testers range in age from 6 to 18 years old, and everyone loved them.

The sound quality is excellent, you can tell they have been professionally done.  Each episode was about 30 minutes long, which was the perfect length to listen to in one sitting (or riding...)  

The very first story had all of us on the edge of our seats..."God's Mule" was about a young man following God's call to leave Harvard and begin smuggling Bibles to a closed country (they changed the country name as well.. but, it's a true story).  WOW!  This hit so close to our hearts, my oldest tester and I just returned from a mission trip to India.  The miracles of taking thousands of Bibles through hostile customs without a hitch were inspiring stories full of action and adventure.

That's what I appreciate most about these audios.  They are designed to both entertain and inspire.  There is no better thing to fill  your children's ears, minds, and hearts with than stories of God's power and faithfulness in the lives of real people, just like them.

"The Silent Ambassador" was also very timely... It's a story about a young girl overcoming her own inscurities to start a "Shoebox Club".  My testers had just packed their shoeboxes for our church's version of Operation Christmas Child.  They listened to how God uses even young kids to do BIG things.  My testers want to form their own "club" next year.

I love this quote from Steve Saint - "Brinkman Adventures tell incredible stories that God writes about people who offer their will as HIS quill and their lives as HIS slate,"  What a testimonial!

Visit Brinkman Adventures to find out more about the actual missionaries and behind the scenes information. 

They sell these amazing audios for a suggested donation of $27.99 for the  4 CD set or $17.99 for MP3. The donations go to supporting missionaries around the world, as well as producing more faith filled adventures to share.   These would make excellent Christmas gifts...I know the Bentz Testers will be finding them in their stockings.

 Be sure to sign up for the Brinkman Adventures newsletter, and you can download three free episodes!


Find Brinkman Adventures on Social Media:

See what other members of the Crew thought here
Brinkman Adventures Season 3 Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, November 2, 2015

Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate : A TOS Crew Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review Arithmetic (grades 3+)
Fundamental Math (grades 4+)
Earth Science (grades 6+)
Nutrition (grades 6+)
Biology (grades 7+)
Algebra (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. Gov. & Politics (grades 11+)
AP Eng. Composition (grades 11+)

These are 13 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 in this online subscription program  Homeschool Courses  from Standard Deviants Accelerate, SDA

The testers from the Bentz Test Laboratory were several middle and high school age student.  SDA does offer courses in Arithmetic and Math for your younger crew too.  

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 testers visited a variety of the Homeschool Courses - mainly focusing on US History and Biology, since they are studying them this year. I don't think SDA can be used as full curriculum, it's not comprehensive enough, in my opinion.  However, it makes a nice supplement, or can be used to review.

Since it's online and self-paced, my testers could pick and choose what topics they wanted or needed to spend more time on. A general course outline makes it easy to see what topics are available. 
Each course offers 30-40 minutes of  short  instruction videos, as well as: review activities, vocab, diagrams, quizzes, and writing assignments Here's a peek from US History.

For a high school level course (grades 9+), We found it rather lightweight in the rigor area.  Another disappointment was that all the writing was the same 2 critieria with a different question, in every course we previewed.

My testers found the videos a bit goofy at times, and not that entertaining.  I have to agree, although, sometimes I did find them funny...maybe it's my age showing :-)  
I thought many of the Homeschool Courses were well thought out, and great tools for reviewing. One MAJOR note of caution - SDA 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 (Here's a couple of shots from Biology...I can't really recommend this course in the SDA line up...make sure you review it before turning your students loose on it!)

Interesting question for a high school biology course I thought, Match the butterflies to a city they are ill-suited to survive.  I prefer science that is more critical thinking focused....fortune tellers not included. 

You can choose to print off hard copies, or work online - or both. My testers really enjoyed the flexibility of this program. I was impressed by the depth and variety of information that is easily accessed all from one location. 
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 that something extra, Standard Deviants Accelerate makes it easy on you as the teacher.

This could be a useful and effective tool, especially for your visual or auditory learners. It's engaging and easy to use.

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

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