Friday, August 31, 2012

Reading Kingdom

From the website -

The Reading Kingdom is a fun, easy-to-use online program that teaches children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level.

 Our commitment to online reading for kids is based on our patented six skills method for reading success. These skills include sequencing, motor skills, phonics (phonemic awareness), meaning, grammar and reading comprehension. Our online reading for kids program is ideal for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, special education, homeschool, and English as a second language. The Reading Kingdom online reading for kids program is an ideal supplement to existing curricula, as well an excellent independent curriculum. Our online reading for kids program is also a great educational alternative to other entertainment options. In fact, most children refer to the Reading Kingdom as a reading game, since it is so fun to play. We're proud that our reading programs for kids are thought of as reading games (especially by kids!).                

The reading kingdom review

Here is a guide to further explain how the program works in each of these areas. The Reading Kingdom is recommended for:
Struggling Readers, Early Readers and Accelerated Readers.


Cost -
The Reading Kingdom subscription is $19.99/month, or $199.99 per year

Finally, one of the younger testers at Bentz Test Laboratory gets his turn at the computer!  The Reading Kingdom was just at his level, early reading!  (I've reviewed this program before with different testers - read that review here).

My tester loved getting to do reading lessons on the computer.  He needed a change of pace and Reading Kingdom was just the ticket to renew his interest in learning to read.

I love that the program is simple enough for them to learn and work independently - that alone makes it a worthwhile investment of time. Plus, he was learning keyboarding skills to boot.  He actually spent almost all of his time in this initial part - mastering the keyboard and mouse skills.  But - that's where he is right now...

The lessons were fun for him, and kept his interest.   Although, I thought it was very slow going when I peeked in on his progress...  But, he was pleased and it was creating confidence in him.

One feature I discovered was Reading Kingdom's Resources tab - don't miss this! They offer weekly learning tips, recommended children's books, activities, and games for kids. They also provide interactive reading comprehension practice & games, super sight words, and holiday-themed worksheets. Plus, videos, tutorials and answers to your questions.  Lots and lots of resources to help your reader off to a great start!

I'm not sure that I could see spending the hefty yearly subscription fee for this program -  You can sign up for a FREE 30 Day Trial  and see for yourself.

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

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


Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Everyday Family Chore System


From the website:

Household management training! Practical ideas for how to make a family chore plan work – from a busy mom of eight and foster mom of over fifty! 

Includes the tried-and-true how-to-do-it cards now used successfully in many households, ideas for using the cards as a stand-alone system or to enhance virtually any other system you may currently use, plus tips on how to organize your household to maximize success.  88 pages; coil-bound glossy cover.

 .   Also available in download format (e-book style) for your printing convenience.
Practical advice from a mom of over fifty!  That caught my attention right away!! Everyday Homemaking is a website that offers products not only for homemaking but homeschooling as well. Viki Bently along with her husband have fostered over 50 children since 1986.  That's what I'm talking about - REAL LIFE, tried and true advice!

Part 1: Laying the foundation - This is the philosophy part.  If you need motivation as to the "why" of kids and chores - don't skip this part.  You will be inspired to start seeing your kids as you want them to be in the future.  It all comes down to simple principles like -
Have realistic and age-appropriate expectations. Establish rules or standards. Have a working knowledge of family discipline. Tie strings to their hearts.

Part 2: Implementing the Plan - Here's where the experience of the author shows through.  I really enjoyed the Life Skill checklists - organized by age.  She offers numerous variations of the basic plan - you customize to what will work best in your family.  I loved her ideas about using the wooden clothespins with chores attached - "Kid on a mission!"  

Part 3: The Actual Chore System - The nuts and bolts so to speak.  Printable chore cards, and my favorite - the "How-to-do-it Cards".  With these printable cards you can make sure they understand what needs to be completed in order to complete the chore.  No more "misunderstandings" of their mission!  The entire system is very simple and uncluttered. 
All in all, I enjoyed reading this book, and I learned a few new tricks!  I felt the Viki and I were sitting down together for a cup of coffee and talking about our families.  It left me feeling inspired that I could tackle the task of a chore system - successfully.  Take a peek at some sample pages here
See what the other members of the Molly Crew thought here.
 I was sent a complimentary copy in exhchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Molly Review Crew.

Uncover Exciting History by Golden Prairie Press

From the website:

Revealing America's Christian Heritage in Short, Easy-to-Read Nuggets
By Amy Puetz  184 Pages Paperback book, size 6 inches by 9 inches

Cost - Sale: $11.96  (ON SALE - Reg. $14.95)

 Also available as an printed book and an audio book

The hands-down favorite subject at Bentz Academy is history!   Not "boring-textbook-heard-it-before history" - we want EXCITING HISTORY!  REAL HISTORY! THE STUFF WE'VE NEVER HEARD BEFORE!

As you can imagine - we were delighted to take a look at Uncover Exciting History by Amy Puetz of  Golden Prairie Press.

This handy ebook was immediately loaded onto our Nook (Kindle version is available as well), and devoured!  The 25 chapters were filled with exciting tidbits and facts straight out of our country's history!  Christopher Columbus, Lewis & Clark, Generals Lee and Grant, and the World Wars.   I love her focus on God's providential hand throughout this book. You can see the panorama of American history in short, easy to read chapters!  Each chapter ends with a "Digging Deeper" section that suggests even more ways to bring history to life and keep everyone excited about learning more.

Four Bonus chapters are included as well -
  • The Hand That Rocks the Cradle: Mothers Who Changed the World Through Their Children
  • Medieval Explorer: Marco Polo
  • Evangelistic Explorer: David Livingstone
  • Daring Explorer of Antarctica: Robert Falcon Scott

I can't say enough good things about this book, we all loved it!  This is history the way you wish you would have learned it the first time.  Don't let your children miss this one.   You will want to see for yourself with Sample Pages

Be sure to check out her other books,  she's a homeschool graduate as well! 

PS - She has a great sale going on now...don't miss it.

Check out what the other members of the TOS Review Crew thought here.

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


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Grammar Rocks by Time4Writing

From their website:

"This course has been created for the youngest eager writers, starting at 2nd grade. During the eight week pre-sentence course, students will be introduced to parts of speech and how to recognize and use them in a sentence. Students will understand how to recognize and form a complete sentence with a subject and predicate. Students will also learn to recognize basic capitalization rules and proofreading strategies."

Check out how Time4Writing works here.

In addition to 8-week online writing courses, Time4Writing provides free writing resources to help parents and educators teach writing more effectively.
True confession time....I have some children that are, let's say - "less than adequate" with their grammar skills.  We've tried every workbook style approach there is, and to no avail!  So, when the opportunity arose to take a peek at Time4Writing's "Grammar Rocks", I jumped at it.  My tester was unsupectedly drawn into trying it out with the the lure "it's computer time!"
Guess what?  She loved it!  Each lesson starts with explanations of the topic.  You can read it, listen to it, or watch it.  Short games that practice each topic follow.  Finally, she submitted an assignment and a REAL person evaluated it and sent her feedback!  She loved that each section was short, it wasn't "painful" at all. Plus, once she submittted her assignment, she could not move ahead until her teacher evaulated it.  I didn't have to be "bad cop" anymore!
She was able to work mostly independently, however - it was sometimes difficult for her to master the typing/word processing to submit her assignments.
Time4Writing worked well for giving us a change of pace in our grammar instruction.  It was enough to get the fear of grammar out, and see that it can be a little bit fun.  Her mastery really encouraged her and gave her more confidence.  However, if you are on a tight budget - this may prove to be rather expensive for 8 weeks of instruction.
See what the other members of the TOS Review Crew thought here.
I was sent a complimentary subscription in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Christian Liberty Press: Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers

From their website:

"Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers by Christian Liberty Press. This first book in the series by Douglas Bond tells the story of two teens who, while on vacation in England, are befriended by an elderly English gentlemen called Mr. Pipes. Through this relationship they learn about famous British hymn writers. They also learn about the value of traditional worship and praise."   222 pages.  Suggested Age - 7th-10th grade."  Take a peek inside!

Cost - $8.79  Downloadable Ebook 
$9.89  Printed Copy

Other books in this series are also available:

 Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers
  Mr. Pipes and Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation
 Mr. Pipes Comes to America are $9.89
 and The Accidental Voyage is $9.99.
The complete set of four books may be purchased for $38.99.

The Bentz Test Laboratory really enjoys music and history.  So, Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers combined our favorites together in one very readable book!

We joined two young American young people as they met historical figures such as: Charles Wesley, John Newton and John Bunyan, and more.  The stories of the British Hymns are told in an engaging dialogue between Mr. Pipes and the teenagers.

I enjoy reading historical fiction to make our history studies come to life.  My testers enjoyed hearing my attempted "British accent" to bring life to Mr. Pipes.  We all are using our newfound "British-isms" around town  (we picked up quite a bit of British culture during our stay...)_. Each chapter included a page or two of sheet music with a hymn - so, several of my testers could try their hands on the piano.  It's been fun to introduce some of the great hymns I grew up with to my children - who have not heard them before.  Since we go to a church with contemporary worship - just seeing an actual "hymn page" was a history lesson!

With the ebook format - we were able to easily download this book to our "devices" and take it with us on the go. 

Check out what the other members of the TOS Review Crew thought here.

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


I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

 From their website:

"With conviction and clear thinking, Geisler and Turek guide readers through some of the traditional, tested arguments for the existence of a creator God. They move into an examination of the source of morality and the reliability of the New Testament accounts concerning Jesus. The final section of the book deals with a detailed investigation of the claims of Christ. This volume will be an interesting read for those skeptical about Christianity, as well as a helpful resource for Christians seeking to articulate a more sophisticated defense of their faith."  Take a peek inside here.   Cost - $16.00

I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist Workbook - Cost - $33.00

"Apologia’s first apologetics curriculum for high school students! Based on Norman Geisler and Frank Turek’s best-selling book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, this study will prepare teens and young adults to defend their Christian faith with boldness and effectiveness. During this course, your student will tackle the question of absolute truth, demolish the follies of postmodernism, debunk moral relativism, and march logically and surely toward the inescapable truths of the Christian faith. This is a companion study, so your student will need a copy of the original book, which is available through Apologia."  Take a peek inside here.

I jumped at the chance to take a look at Apologia's - I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist & Companion Student Workbook!

We need to take every opportunity to teach our children a Christian Worldview, and Apologia is here to help us!

This brand new high school apologetics curriculum will teach your children the why of what they believe.  The book is a necessary component to work hand-in-hand with the Student Workbook.  This book should be on your MUST READ list - no matter what age you are!

Can you clearly communicate what you believe?  If you are like most, probably not quite.  Well,  what are we waiting for!  This is an excellent resource to use to prepare yourself and your family for the opportunity to share your faith.  It's not a matter of "if" you will get that chance, but "when" it will happen.  Be prepared!

I Don't Have Enought Faith to Be an Atheist has 15 chapters which systematically and logically address the crucial points and evidences of Christianity.

The Student Workbook contains supplemental material, study questions and activities to encourage discussion as you follow the "Road Map of the "Twelve Points that Prove Christianity is True". 

Each Student Workbook section begins with an overview of the reading from the book, followed by a comprehension section, key terms, research assignments and other activities.  Each section summarizes the material and helps with application steps.  Throughout the Student Workbook, you will find profiles of important people or topics to help better understand the material.

An optional DVD is also available at - it is optional - not necessary to complete the course.

Downloadable chapter tests are included online for you as well.

The Bentz Test Laboratory is working through this both the book and workbook together with our high school student.  This has provided opportunities for us to intentionally discuss some of the questions and points of Christianity - and why we believe what we do.

Everyone is going to have a worldview.  Make sure that you don't miss the opportunity to share your Christian Worldview with your children!  Take the time to study the why of what you believe and the solid evidence behind it.  Then, you will be prepared to "give an answer for what you believe".

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.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

VocabularySpelling City

From their website:
42,000 spelling words with customizable sentences and definitions

  • A REAL person who says each word and sentence
  • Free home pages for teachers and parents to save lists
  • Teacher training videos
  • Free printable handwriting worksheets
  • Free teaching resources with lists and lesson plans
  • Twenty-five games to play online or to print such as:Alphabetical Order, Unscramble, Parts of Speech, HangMouse, Crossword Puzzle, WordSearch, and Vocabulary Test.
  • A free forum and newsletters

  • There are three basic ways to use VocabularySpellingCity:

    1. No registration necessary. This is the most basic way to use the site. Just go to our homepage, enter your words and then take a test or play a game. You have access to great Teacher Resources such as math vocabulary, compound words, and Dolch-sight word lists. This gives you a taste of what you can do on the site, but you need to enter your words every time.
    2. Basic Membership. Register for an account and you can save your lists! There is no charge for this membership and there is no limit on how long you can use it. Your saved and imported lists appear on your homepage for easy access. Students can search for your lists using our Find A List feature.
    3. Premium Membership. You also have the option of upgrading to a Premium Membership - $29.99 per year (up to 5 students!) Premium Membership includes the following additional benefits:
    • Individual student logins
    • Premium games and activities
    • Access to vocabulary content
    • Assignments
    • Student and list grouping
    • No commercial ads
    Check out this video for more info:

    The Bentz Test Laboratory LOVES this program - you will want the Premium Membership!  Spelling and vocabulary usually get a groans and moans around here... but, all that changed when I introduced them to VocabularySpelling City!  Now, I hear cheers for these subjects...

    Here's what we liked most, it's so easy to use and full of resources!  We log on, set up word lists,or choose from lists already created and we off and learning (while having fun!) 

    In addition - you can print many of the resources, including games.  No more spelling or vocabulary workbooks for us!  Several of our favorites - HangMouse is an online version of hangman to review your spelling word, and Hig Pig - a word game that asks you to solve a riddle. The answers are two rhyming one-syllable words.

    I appreciated this program is for K-12 students, it's great to have a program that ALL of my children can use and benefit from.  Best of all - it's VERY AFFORDABLE!

    I was able to have my kindgergarten tester working on phonics, my elementary testers completing Language Arts lessons, followed by my high school tester working on algebra terms and SAT vocab. It's a great value to the busy homeschool mom! Did I mention the printable handwriting sheets, sentence & paragraph writing practice, a full sequential spelling program, many useful teaching resouces and even a Free App?!

    This is a MUST HAVE resource for your homeschool - actually a treasure chest of resources! Not to mention - your children will beg you for computer time (and you can say "yes" without hesitation because they will be learning!)

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

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


    Monday, August 13, 2012

    Economics for Everybody: Applying Biblical Principles to Work, Wealth & the World

    From their website:

    "Economics: it’s everywhere, influencing everything — and so rarely understood.
    Economics for Everybody seeks to remedy that through an insightful and entertaining exploration of the principles, practices, and consequences of economics. Thoroughly unconventional, it links entrepreneurship with lemonade, cartoons with markets, and Charlie Chaplin with supply and demand. It’s funny, clever, profound and instructive all in one place. "

    Save 35% when you buy the presale for only $29 (retail is $45)

    Algebra, Government, Economics - Oh MY!  Ready or not...High School here we come!  The Bentz Test Laboratory is on the brink of a whole new homeschooling adventure...where do we start to tackle these important (and some times daunting) subjects?

    I always look to someone more talented than myself... thus - we have lined up the "experts" to teach these subjects.  Here's where Economics for Everybody enters in!

    Meet Dr. RC Sproul, Jr. (a.k.a. -  Bentz Academy Economics Instructor) -  has focused much of his lengthy teaching and writing ministry on worldview issues, apologetics, family matters and economics. He is a Teaching Fellow at Ligonier Ministries, professor and lecturer at Ligonier Academy in both the Bible college and D.Min. programs, and is the founder of Highlands Ministries. 

    Plus, he's very engaging, interesting, and fun to watch! (much better than mom attempting to explain this subject...)

    This series is designed specifically for families, small groups, homeschool students middle and high school level.

    Economics for Everybody is available as DVD (or downloadable) series of 12 lessons covering everything from "Why Study Economics" and "Economics Philosophies and Systems" to "Kingdom Economics".  Each 15-30 minute video combines Dr. Sproul Jr. clearing explaining the topic presented along with video clips, history, old movies and more.  I guarantee this is not a dry, boring re-telling of an economics textbook!  This is the type of lessons that will stick with your student.  Best of all, it is completely grounded in a Christian Worldview!

    In addition, you get the 250 page Study Guide which includes an expanded outline of each lesson with additional material not included in the lessons; it also includes related Bible readings, discussion questions, short answer questions, and multiple-choice questions. Finally, it includes a listing of all the sources used in the series.

    Check out the Overview of Lessons and Watch the First Lesson for yourself!  Do you want to hear what others are saying, check out the reviews here.

    We were so excited about Economics for Everybody that we are having our Co-op use this resource.  High school economics doesn't have to be intimidating - in fact, it can be down right fun! 

    Don't miss out on a the great Presale Price!

    I was sent a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012

    Vocab Videos

    From their website -

    "The Vocab Videos program is based on watching humorous, memorable videos to teach vocabulary in a contextual format. Using both auditory and visual cues, each video includes a real-world representation of the meaning of a word in a way that you can easily relate to and understand. In addition to the videos, the program includes quizzes, worksheets, a multimedia flashcard maker and many other tools. Take a look around the site and you will see a host of great vocabulary learning resources for the SAT including a free SAT word list and much more. Take advantage of our free trial to get started today!"

    Quizzes, worksheets, and crossword puzzles are readily accessible after viewing an episode, so that students can immediately start using their new vocabulary words. We encourage all students to make use of our awesome digital flashcard maker to create flashcards with their own images and videos for new words they encounter in any academic subject matter or reading material. 

    An account includes:
    • Access to the entire video library of 500 Vocab Videos
    • Total access to an extensive suite of study resources and tools: digital quizzes, digital worksheets, multimedia flashcard maker, downloadable crossword puzzles
    Small Educator discount - allows you to manage up to 20 students - $74.99

    I hate to say this...I really wanted to like Vocab Videos, but - I didn't.

    Their teaching philosophy is sound, their approach is engaging, and the core content of the vocabulary is excellent.  BUT - after watching several of the videos - I found them to be completely inappropriate for my teenagers!  The videos are based on spoofs of popular TV shows (which we have never seen - so the humor is completely lost on us...fine by me).  Taking the Lord's name in vain is enough to add this resource to a "no play" list around here.  Add in sarcastic, disrepectful speech and attitudes, a dating culture and more - made me decide fairly quickly this wasn't for us.

    I don't want to get into a debate about allowing our children access to "pop culture" or not - that will be each family's decision.   Please make sure you preview this resource carefully before tuning in your children... you may not like what you see and hear.

     I'd be a huge fan of Vocab Videos if they would raise the level of character qualities displayed in their videos, as it is now - I can't recommend this resource.

    Please check out what the other members of the TOS Review Crew thought about this resource before making any decisions - you may find another opinion expressed.

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


    This Week in History by Thomas Jefferson Education

    From their website:

    "This Week in History is a daily resource that brings your home school or classroom to life! Whatever you want to learn, whatever there is to teach, it starts with history!

    With a subscription to This Week in History, each day’s resources are an adventure in math, science, language skills, geography, current events, the arts and so on – all tied to events in history.
    For just $9.99 per month, you have the world of learning available to help you lead and inspire your students to explore, learn and and excel!
    This Week in History is provided as a weekly online bundle of resources that you can access in either of two ways:
    • On the dedicated TWIH blog feed at
    • Via an email sent directly to your inbox using our secure email service
    The content is searchable by date, topic and key word, and the whole year’s archive can be accessed by subscribers at any time."

    I had read the book A Thomas Jefferson Education several years ago, and found it very interesting and inspiring to my homeschool journey.  Read the Seven Keys of Great Teaching and Phases of Learning articles to learn more about this method.  

    This Week in History is one of my favorite resources!

    I loved getting a weekly email full of so much inspiration. If you love to follow wherever your intrests lead you, you will appreciate this jam-packed resource.  History tidbits, state studies, hands-on activities, famous birthdays, on and on!

    Rather than trying to explain the depth of this resource, take a peek at this small section from a sample week (and you'll know why I was impressed - we're big frog fans around here!)- Remember, this is just a portion of what you get every week!  Check out the entire sample week to see for yourself!

    "2011: Festival of the “Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County”

    20frog600 Sample Week: May 17   23
    The world-renowned Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee has a rich heritage dating back to the 1800′s. In the early Gold Mining Days, the Mother Lode Country was very prosperous. It attracted many industrious individuals looking for adventure. One such individual was Samuel Clemens who regularly made the trip from San Francisco to a small mountain cabin near Angels Camp.
    It was during one of Mr. Clemens’ trips that he heard a tale that inspired his first published work, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”. The story records the antics of a character named Jim Smiley and his frog Dan’l Webster. Mr. Clemens first published this story in 1865 and used his pen name, “Mark Twain”, and so the legend began. [Source]
    frog2 Sample Week: May 17   23
    Froggy Research:
    • What is the difference between a frog and a toad?
    • What and how do frogs eat?
    • How big can a Goliath frog grow?
    • What is the smallest frog?
    • How do frogs protect themselvs against their enemies?
    • How do frogs make their sounds?
    • What is the life cycle of a frog?
    • Where do frogs live?
    • What is an amphibian?
    • Why are frogs important?
    Fun Froggy Activities:
    • Draw a picture of a frog (easy instructions for beginners)
    • Write a froggy song.
    • Read The Frog King by the Brothers Grimm
    • Play leap frog
    • Hunt for & raise tadpoles (Advice from the experts)
    • Slow motion frog jump
    • How far can you leap? Try a standing long jump. Here’s how >>
    • Play around with this to see what factors change your measurements (jump from one foot, the other foot, up a slope, from a pedestal, arms out front, arms swinging loose, etc.). Make it a real experiment by guessing (a hypothesis) what will happen, and then keep score (data) and then analyze to discover why you were right or wrong in your guesses!
    P Frog Prince Sample Week: May 17   23

    This Week in History helps you make connections between the subject areas–from music to math, from geography to world religions, from hobbies to science projects, and more."

    For just $9.99 a month - you get 4 weeks of these resources delivered to your inbox!  Subscribers can reference past issues anytime they want. You'll never have to wonder what to teach again - you can make learning a fun adventure that they'll never forget!

    Be sure to subscribe to the Free monthly "Inspire" newsletter and they'll send you 5 free gifts.  Want daily inspiration?  Sign up here for the "Daily Inspire".

    Don't miss This Week in History- I guarantee you'll find so many ways to use these resources to make your homeschool learning come alive!

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

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

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    Math Made Easy - Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy

    How would you like to master the addition facts in just 6 weeks, with no finger counting?  Well, that's what Addition Teaching and Learning Made Easy by Glenda Brown James promises!

    Cost: $24.95 for a 65 page - comb-bound book.

    One of the key points of their philosophy is to eliminate certain facts that are easily learned - the +0 and +1 facts.  Commutative property (it doesn't matter what order the numerals are, they always have the same sum) is taught first to reduce the actual number of facts down to a managable 36 facts.

    Take those 36 facts and divide them by six weeks (you can also purchase  a Multiplication Package) means you are focusing on 6 facts per week.  They are presented in a radom order, not just the addition table to force your child to rely on their memory.

    The Bentz Test Laboratory has several testers in need of "math fact mastery".  We were eager to give Math Made Easy a try.

    My testers enjoyed this!  In fact, they didn't believe me it was really "math school" because it seemed more like fun.  No long, repetitve worksheets with problem after problem to work on.  Each day has a short, simple sheet focusing on just 6 facts - activities including coloring, cutting, and matching.  It grabbed their attention and kept them engaged.  My younger testers love coloring and cutting (and we're developing very important fine motor control along the way.)

    All the pages are reproducible within your family, or do like we did - and use a clear sheet protector and wipe off markers to resuse.

    Several games are include for you to cut/assemble as well.  Clothes-pinning (another great fine motor control activity..) "addition fact bows" onto the "braids" was a big hit with my girly testers.  My young boy tester refused to play "girl games" but - was fine with the ice cream spinner.

    Overall, I liked the program - although, I feel it's a bit pricey for a single book.  It's not a math curriculum to teach the the concepts, but rather a collection of practice sheets to keep math mastery practice more interesting. 

    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.


    Saturday, August 4, 2012

    King Alfred’s English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do

    From their website:

    "Do you remember the first time you looked under the hood of a car or popped off the back of an electric toy to see the inner workings? Well, most of us go through our entire life speaking a highly complex and organized set of sounds we call language without ever getting a glimpse under its hood. So come have a look at some of the hidden springs and gears that have steered and energized English over the centuries. King Alfred’s English provides a guided tour of forces and events, conquerors and writers that have shaped, simplified, matured and expanded English into what it is today—the first truly global language in history."

    170 pages, softcover
    $16.95 retail but available at lower prices (see here)

    Available on Kindle for $5.95

    The capstone of the book is the story of how we got the Bible in English and it’s influence upon our language.
    • What were the driving ideas behind the Reformation?
    • Are the New Testament documents really reliable and how do they compare to other ancient manuscripts?
    • Why was translating the Bible into English punishable by death?
    • …and what does all THAT have to do with the history of English?

    The Bentz Test Laboratory  LOVED this book.  I was sent the digital version to review - a few sentences in...I knew I wanted this softcover book on my bookshelf! (a common reaction around here.. )  I could not put it down!

    This is a great read, not just about our English language - it's like a stroll through history!  In fact, I'm adding it to my co-op's history class required reading.  The book is filled with interesting facts and history of our language.  Did you know - There’s a law for the way languages change that backs up Intelligent Design? I love the Christian Worldview presented throughout the pages!
    The author writes in a very engaging tone, you feel like you're having a pleasant chat with her accross the table.  My older testers enjoyed this book as much as I did.  You can read the First Chapter and see for yourself!

    You will want to visit her webiste -  "STUDENTS–*Hwæt! (Listen!) Here cometh thy big chance  for…Further Illumination" - Extra supplemental resources for each chapter of the book.  Using her suggested minimum requirements, the book and free supplemental material she provides can be used as a 1/2 credit high school history course, or a combined 1/4 credit history and 1/4 credit English course. Resources include suggested readings and links, worksheets, tests and writing activities.

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

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

    Create Better Writers

    From their website:
    "We offer materials that will help your K-12 students become outstanding writers. Our books and eBooks show you how to teach writing and grammar - so it makes sense to you and your students. "

    The Home School Teacher’s Writing Plan  Cost - $15.95 (ebook) or $19.95 (softcover edition)

    "Your complete writing plan from grades 3 through 12. If you are not confident as a writing teacher, this is all you will need. You have your step-by-step plan for your students entire academic lives. If you are a confident writing teacher, this program will provide the framework for exceptional writing. By using this program, you will know where all your other great writing lessons fit into writing’s big picture. The best part is that you can use this program with all your students!"

    Watch our 53 minute video "From the Paragraph to the Essay" to see a demonstration for teaching the program.

    How To Teach the Paragraph - Cost: $7.99 eBook Only
    Free with the purchase of How To Teach the Five Paragraph Essay or The Complete Writing Program)

    "Writing instruction does NOT need to be difficult. If your student can write a paragraph, your student can write anything from an essay, to a research report, to an in-depth story.  It all starts with one simple trick. Teach this trick in minutes, have your students practice it several times, and your students will have a solid grasp for writing paragraphs. Use this trick to write stories, summarize stories, write reports, and more. No assignment is too difficult."

    Watch this short video to see more -

    How To Teach The Five-Paragraph Essay - Cost:$17.95 (ebook) $19.95 (softcover)

    "A step-by-step plan for teaching the five-paragraph essay. Teachers will be able to show their students how a simple outline will help students master one of the most important skills a student can acquire. The format of this book leaves nothing to chance. The teacher is given everything needed to help students master essay writing. Students will be able to organize their ideas, then format and write a five-paragraph essay in about an hour. Every student will be prepared for any class, district, or state writing test."
    See a sample here.

    Bentz Test Laboratory was excited for the opportunity to take a peek at Creating Better Writers!  This is a very complete writing program.  Best of all - you can not beat the price!!  It is recommended for students beginning in grades 3/4 through high school.  That means you can use it for all your students.

    Creating Better Writers begins with How to Write a Paragraph.  It is taught in 11 easy to follow, simple steps.  Your student will learn and memorize the five parts of a good paragraph, learn to set-up their paper, pre-writing, topic sentences, and closing sentences.  Practice, and rubrics for assessment are also included.

    This is where Bentz Test Laboratory spent our review time, mastering this vital, first step in writing!  We found this program very easy to follow along.  It broke the writing process into managable (and best of all - teachable) steps.  We've used many writing programs over our homeschooling years, and this was the easiest to follow along with!

     David Dye, the author, has the gift of encouragment - he breaks teaching writing down in simple, memorable, managable steps.  If you lack confidence in your ability to teach writing - read The Homeschool Writing Action Plan - and you'll be ready to tackle this subject, and succeed!

    My older students began How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay.  What a great tool in your writing tool box!  Begin with the List of Steps - this will help you as you teach the Five-Paragraph Essay.  A Sample Pacing Chart - Day 1 to Day 20 - see what your lessons will be.  A Detailed Lesson plan gives a detailed explanation of each step.  The Plan for Total Mastery shows you what to do next.  Bells and Whistles introduce exciting introductions, classy conclusions, smooth transitions and more...  Finally, The Next Level shows your student how to use this basic Five-Paragraph essay in any domain of writing.

    Create Better Writers is written very clearly and is so easy to follow.  You don't have to be nervous about teaching writing to your children with an effective program like this one! 

    Check out what other members of the TOS Crew thought here.

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