Tuesday, December 20, 2011

World's Greatest Stories

World's Greatest Stories

I am a huge fan of "van schooling" - you know it- you have a captive, buckled up audience!  We discovered the power of listening to stories during all those endless trips to violin, piano, ballet, speech therapy....etc.  Why not use all that time in the van to your advantage?

So, "what to listen to" you may ask?  Let me recommend our newest discovery - World's Greatest Stories!

George W. Sarris tells the "world's greatest stories" straight from the actual Bible text.  But, you would think you were listening to a full color production of it.  He is amazing in his ability to bring the Bible text to life in his dramatic telling.

This is from their website:

"Using simply his voice, his memory, and the audience's imagination, he takes us back in time to view Biblical scenes such as the unbridled rage of King Nebuchadnezzar as he commands Shadrach, Meshech, and Abendnego to be cast into the blazing furnace, the sudden fear that overcomes his drunken descendant, Belshazzar, as he literally sees the handwriting on the wall, the repentant hearts of the citizens of Ninevah as they respond in humility to the preaching of Jonah, the angelic announcement of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, Herod's desperate attempt to kill Him as a young child, His ministry of healing and teaching among the people, the sorrow of His death, and the triumph of His resurrection."

I wholeheartedly agree!  By far, the BEST Bible stories we've listened to.  You can choose either NIV or KJV version.  And, it is ONLY the words written in the Bible (no adding, no subtracting).  What brings it to life is the masterful storyteller.  All 8 of the testers in Bentz Laboratory were captivated (and not just because they were seatbelted in...).  They begged for another, even after we had arrived home...so, we sat in the van to hear "just one more".  We listened to "The Prophets".

 I love that it is the actual Bible text.  I think it can become confusing to present Bible stories to young children that captivate their interest and entertain - but, give an inaccurate protrayal of the facts (Ninevites did not really "slap people with fishes"...).  World's Greatest Stories use the words of God to tell the story, and they are powerful indeed!

Each CD is only $7.95 - you can listen to an audio clip for yourself here.  6 Volumes are currently available - I know what to put in their stockings!

See what the other members of the TOS Review Crew thought here.

I was sent a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Vintage Remedies for Kids

Vintage Remedies for Kids - $25.00

Okay, so those who know me best... know that this is a product that is not normally found lying around the house (he he).  But, that is why this was so fun to review!  We definitely NEED more books like this at the Bentz Test Laboratory.

This book is designed for kids ages 2-6 to introduce them to "natural living and healthy lifestyles".  The book has 18 Chapters, with 3 sections: Food & Dring, Health & Wellness, and Healthy Lifestyles.  Each section begins with a "Parent's Section" - very useful information for people like me!  Next, comes the "Read to Me" section (my older kids could read it independently), Leading by Example, and finally projects and recipes.

Here's a description from the publisher:

This curriculum helps you teach little ones how to choose healthy foods, how to prepare some fun and delicious snacks, how to establish prevention based habits, and how they can participate in your family's natural lifestyle. The workbook is flexible and can be used for playgroups or as a fun family project. Children at this age learn best with active lessons, so this isn't a sit and read style picture book! It's a guide for parents that is packed with hands on activities that are perfect for little hands, but fun for all ages. Each of the 18 chapters includes a brief age appropriate lesson on the topic that parents can use to discuss with little ones while they are preparing for the projects, a featured project to teaches the lesson, additional instructions for parents to include these lessons in the family's lifestyle, and a selection of additional projects on the topic for additional fun. The book also contains sample schedules for preschoolers and convenient shopping lists for each project, complete with a resource guide and tips for parents and leaders.

spiral bound • 6x9 inches • 202 b+w pages

I think Vintage Remedies would make an excellent unit study for your homeschool health credit.  It's very easy to read and implement, even if you don't usually have time for "natural living" (if your a over-scheduled, busy, and guilt-ridden mom like me...).  I appreciate their balanced approach to this subject, teaching the why's and how's of wellness, and not becoming rigid with unrealistic expectations (I know there are moms out there like me, that "occasionally" eat-french-fries-in-the-van-with-the-kids.)  I know I will be looking into more of their books- check out the special combo deal right now. You can read more about their mission and philosphy here.  I'm ready to give it a try, this is a great "baby steps" program for parents as well as children (Vintage Remedies has more information for those of you futher on your "wellness" paths too!) 

Vintage Remedies offers a wealth of online information and even online learning programs.  Go check them out.

See what other members of the TOS Crew thought here.

I was sent a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fractazmic by I See Cards

Fractazmic by I See Cards

We love doing math with games, in fact - we love doing all school with games.  Maybe, we should just shelve the books and pull out the games...

Well, that's exactly what happened when the Bentz Test Laboratory got their hands on another great game from I See Cards (read about our last test here).

Here's a description from them:

"When children play Fractazmic, they know they're having fun, and you know that they're learning!

When children play Fractazmic, they know they're having fun, and you know that they're learning! Fractazmic is a comprehensive interactive fun lesson in fractions that gives your child unlimited practice at their individual level.

Each brightly colored card displays fractions, along with eye catching graphics, to ensure reinforcement. Players will quickly identify the fractions on their cards and calculate their way to fun and learning! Fractazmic teaches fractions, numbers and measurement."

You can get them online for just $6.95 - a perfect stocking stuffer!

My testers quickly picked up how to play very quickly.  Here's a quick summary of how to play from the website:

"Fractazmic is a 2-4 player game that uses math and language skills. The object of Fractazmic trap is to gather as many hands as possible before the first player runs out of cards. Hands are captured by either (1) playing a card that brings the sum of all cards thrown to 1 or (2) forcing the next player to throw a card that brings the sum to greater than 1. If any of these events occur – the player captures the round and is the first to start the next round."

What I liked best - all of my testers enjoyed playing.  Some of them are math-challenged (like their mom) and some are math super-stars - but, Fractazmic was fun for all of them!

If you want to play it online - check this out and win!

See what the other members of the Review Crew thought here.

I was sent a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pitsco Education - WOW!

Pitsco Education -

This is a WOW product for the Bentz Test Laboratory!  I knew this looked like it would capture the interests of my testers - but, I did not realize how much learning we could "sneak" in along with it!

We were sent the Medieval Machines Pack - $21.95

Here's a description, straight from Pitsco Education:

"From The Lord of the Rings to Night at the Museum, we are fascinated by these medieval devices. Now, use that interest to teach basic math, science, and problem-solving skills. With this pack, your child learns about catapults and trebuchets through hands-on activities that cover three areas:

•Science: Tension versus torsion, elasticity, gravity and levers, and force and motion
•Math: Metric conversion, calculating averages, and prediction
•Experiments: Mass versus distance, testing rubber bands, targeting, and more

They will discover the history of medieval siege machines as well as the concepts required to build and use them."

Includes a Trebuchet Kit, Catapult Kit, Mass Plates, and the Siege Machines book.

Note: Most guide activities require additional items such as measurement and hand tools – see the Specs tab for more information.

Okay - now onto what the Bentz Test Laboratory thought - we LOVED it!  Our interest in these machines had just been brought to a fever pitch when we were introduced to "Pumkin Chunkin" by Grandpa over the Thanksgiving Break.   In this popular contest (I must admit, I'd never heard of it before - but, I'm a fan now!), grown up children compete with Medieval machines (but, they use their engineering degrees and modern machinery) to see who can design catapults, trebuchets, etc. that can hurl pumpkins.  The winner is who sends it the farthest.  

As you can imagine - that is all it takes to get homeschool children ready to try this on their own.  Here's where Pitsco Education helps you "channel" all that excitement into real learning!  They create a large variety of hands-on, educational kits and products to help you.  Topics like: Aeorspace, Robotics, and Engineering are just a few.  The Medieval Machines pack was exactly what I needed to get us back into learning after a restful, but-too-short, Thanksgiving break.

The kit contained high quality, easy to work with wood pieces.  Most impressive was the step-by-step, detailed instructions (including diagrams!) that even this non-pumkin-chunkin mom could understand!

My tester assembled the catapult completely in around an hour - including time out to deal with superglue messes...  I was impressed!  My favorite part was the Seige Machines book that came included.  It was filled with the History, Safety, and Learning Activities to turn this "fun toy", into a learning adventure (isn't that what science should look like?)  This would make an excellent unit study project, and it was written so that your student could work independently (if you didn't mind missing out on all the fun...  I wasn't about to let that opportunity pass me by!)

We tested it out in our long hallway and it worked perfectly!  My testers are eagerly asking for a set of their own to create their own "Marble Chunkin"contest....  I think I better move this activity outdoors!!

Seriously, I can't wait to see what else Pitsco Education has to offer.  Get your own Big Book  (catalog) here, and start the Christmas Shopping!  The Pitsco Education website is full of hands on activities - check some of them out!

See what the other members of the TOS Review Crew thought here.

I was sent a complimentary kit in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.

Friday, December 2, 2011

American Girl Club - Felicity - Week 4

The Felicity time period continues!

The girls are still working away on the cross-stitch projects (but, my dear daughter has been taught to knit by Grandma...so cross stitch is on the shelf right now!).

This week - the focus was on all things smelly.  I mean, good smelly! 

The girls made Pomander Balls - oranges with cloves and cinnamon.  Just the smell of the house was a good memory.  Didn't you make those when you were young?

They also made Sachets - 2 types.  They filled small bags with scented potpourri.  Once again - the house was filled with Rose and Vanilla smells.

All this girlie stuff was too much for the MCA - they met out on the deck before heading off to play football!

The "Littles" were entertained upstairs...playing with legos and hiding in their beds!

We are excited about our upcoming - Colonial Christmas!  We plan on doing it up big - china plates, candles the whole ball of wax!

Stay tuned...