Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Sugar Creek Gang by Beloved Books

From the website:
"These Sugar Creek Gang "Audio Adventures"  offered by Beloved Books are dramatically read straight from the original books. Christian families LOVE this series because the gospel message is presented in such a simple, easy-to-understand style. The whole series is, in fact, a discipleship journey... even parents who listen along witness the Holy Spirit working changes in their own hearts!

Families also enjoy the delightfully interspersed segments of nature study, poetry, hymns, and even science lessons... all skillfully woven into the fabric of the stories."

The complete audio series contains over 36 books with over 100 hours on 72 CDs.

This First Volume of CDs contains the following stories:
The Swamp Robber
The Killer Bear
The Winter Rescue
The Lost Campers
Chicago Adventure
The Secret Hideout

Cost -  $54.95 per set

You may purchase the first COMPLETE story, "Swamp Robber", for only $4.95 and FREE First Class postage!

Use this code - MomOfMany-20 - and you get 20% off your entire purchase!
The Bentz Test Laboratory LOVED this resource!!  We are huge audio book fans, since it seems like we spend a large amount of time in our van...anyone with me?  Why not capitalize on that time (plus a captive audience) and build family memories together!
The Sugar Creek Gang was already a family favorite book series, and these audio CDs secured that favorite spot forever.  Each of the 6 stories on this volume were about 2 hours long. The stories do build upon each other, so you want to listen to them in order. There are 6 volumes available.  You will not find family friendly entertainment that is better done than these stories!  My children - ages 3-15 - boys and girls, were all begging for more of the story each time we got into the van.
The narrator - Paul Ramseyer,  is one of the best we've listened to!  We were all caught into his story telling right away.  But, without a doubt - my favorite part of the Sugar Creek Gang stories is the Christian character messages woven throughout. This is the kind of wholesome products that Beloved Books specializes in - do NOT miss what this company has to offer! 
Listen to a FREE story - and see for yourself!

See what the 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.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sampson's Classroom

From the website:
"Designed for grades K-5, Samson's Classroom is an online series that helps students become better readers. Students can play engaging games that focus on 3 core building blocks; sight words, spelling, and reading comprehension."

Watch a 3 minute Demo Video - Here.

Better yet - try a demo for yourself (without having to create an account!) Here.

Cost - Home - 1 user - $30/year
           Family - 4 users - $50/year
           Classroom - 5-30 users - $80/year

Sampson's Classroom is really an "umbrella" program that includes access to all three areas - Sight Words, Spelling, and Reading.  Upgrades are automatically included so you have an up-to-date access at all times.

Sight Words with Samson "Sight Words with Samson is an absolute must for all beginning readers. This software product is the complete package for teachers and administrators looking to give their students the necessary foundation they need to become successful readers. This engaging product is proven to help early readers master the 224 most commonly used words in the English language."

My tester loved this section!  She was able to get started quickly, and found Sampson's Classroom fun.  In Sight Words, there are 5 activities for each list of words.  This gave my tester plenty of lists to master in the 4 levels.  The instructions were easy to follow, and she worked independently practicing.

Spelling with Samson "With more than 5,000 words and counting, Spelling with Samson is the most comprehensive spelling product on the market. This amazing software package captivates students and provides educators with all the tools they need to improve the spelling ability of their students. Join the thousands of teachers from across the country that have already made Spelling with Samson a part of their classroom."

My tester is not strong in spelling (to say it kindly...she's really, really bad at it!)  So, this was my favorite part of the program.  Spelling practice - disguised as fun!  We used the provided lists, but - you can also make your own.  Karate chopping letters, outrunning spiders, and jumping on ice bergs - but, really - practicing spelling skills!  We both loved it!!

Reading with Samson "Reading with Samson combines everything you have come to expect from the Samson product line with a new patented user feedback system. The end result is a cutting edge software product that helps students analyze reading material and learn how to draw conclusions and answer questions based on that material."

My tester also enjoyed this section.  The reading comprehension passages were interesting (fiction and non-fiction), and she was able to read them well - yeah!  Success is such a confidence builder, especially after spelling... Great practice for this important skill!

Overall,  Sampson's Classroom makes a great addition to your language arts curriculum.  It's affordable, and very easy to use.  Another tool to practice important language arts  skills, while having fun.

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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Abingdon Press - Deep Blue Kids Bible

From the website:

"Kids will dive deep into God’s word with the CEB Deep Blue Kids Bible  by Abingdon Press. This engaging, interactive Bible offers four-color icons and illustrations throughout with a wealth of notes, devotionals, Bible trivia, and other interactive elements to capture inquisitive young minds. Plus the CEB Deep Blue Kids Bible will encourage a thirst for God’s timeless message as young readers join three life-like kids in discovering the Bible and what it means to their lives. Ages 7–12."

Product Features:
  • 5 3/8” x 8 3/8’
  • 8 point type
  • 1536 pages
  • 4-color throughout
  • Presentation page
  • In-text subject headings
  • Translation footnotes
  • 8 full-color maps exclusively from National Geographic Dictionary

Cost - $24.99 for the Flex Cover Edition
**See additional cover selections and purchase locations on the pricing page**

See a Sample here, watch a video trailer too!

Cost -$26.99 - for the Flex-Cover Edition
(Various cover options and purchase locations can be found on the purchase page)
The Bentz Test Laboratory LOVED this Bible!  My 6 year old tester had a major disaster with his hard-cover kids Bible (the cover completely fell off!) when the Deep Blue Kids Bible arrived... just in time!
He was happy to take his very-own (not a handed down...you understand if you have a couple of kiddos...) Bible!  And, it is his favorite color - blue!
Here's what we liked about it:

  • The Flex cover!  I know it's not as important as the content, but the cover really makes a difference to my tester.  Our previous hard cover Bible was not able to stand up to the wear and tear of constant use.  The Flex Cover Deep Blue Kids Bible is durable, but easy to carry - and the flexible binding is strong!  I know, he gave those features a thorough testing!

  • The Common English Bible (CEB) translation.  We were not familiar with this translation before.  122 biblical scholars from 22 faith traditions and 77 readers from many congregations worked together to complete this very easy to read, but very accurate translation!

  • The chaper/book introductions.  Each book of the Bible has an introduction with with "Things you'll Discover","People You'll Meet", "Places You'll Go" and "Words You'll Remember".  My younger tester really enjoyed an introduction to what we were reading about.

  • "Bet You Can" Reading Challenges.  We loved doing these!!  There is a scripture reference, a title and a time to beat (page numbers included).  This was a fun way to work on our reading skills, and my older children loved to jump in on the challenges as well.

The "Shout Outs" - In-text notes about things like positive character traits, how to deal with difficult times, basics of following god, answers to tough questions, interesting trivia, customs and practices, devotions to apply to our life today, memory verses, passages, and of course - the reading challenges!

I think this is a wonderful Bible for your kids , highly recommended!  It's user friendly, and has alot of kid appeal without being childish.

Check out 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, October 20, 2012

National Tax Training School - Federal Income Tax Course

From their website:

"One Complete Tax Course!  National Tax Training School's  Federal Income Tax Course is designed for persons with no previous experience in the tax field or those with some experience who wish to get a more thorough training in all pertinent phases of federal income tax preparation for individuals. Completing this course will train you to prepare tax returns for individuals and small businesses.

Written in an easy, accessible style, this nationally-accredited course guides you through Federal Taxation by way of 20 easy-to-master lesson units, each requiring approximately eight hours of study. A serious student can finish the course and receive his or her certificate in as few as 8 weeks. And you'll be studying in the comfort and privacy of your own home or office. (If you need more time, the School allows you up to one year.)

In addition to providing you with a solid foundational training in taxation, this course includes the essential material you must know to pass the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) exam.  "

Cost -  

*there are payment options for each of these; check the website for current options.  

Yippee!  Finally, I get to be the Bentz Test Laboratory tester!!  I have always done our family taxes (with the help of tax software...) and have long thought - "I wonder if I'm getting every deduction available?"  "How do I know this is correct and complet?" "Couldn't I do this myself?"
Well, I jumped at the chance to take a peek at National Tax Training School's Federal Income Tax Course.  And, I have finally answered my questions - I CAN do this myself! 
Being a homeschool mom and teacher, I am always teaching my children the lessons of learning something for yourself.  What we discover for ourselves, we own!  Well - working on this course modeled that for them.   

I was the one working through the manual - they send you a HUGE binder with the first 20 lessons -  see a Course Outline, each lesson is recommended to take about 8 hours to complete.  After lesson 17 - they send you the next binder of lessons as well as several other resources - a Federal Tax Handbook and Building and Operating a Successful Tax Practice Book.  (I got mine early, in order to review it).
I was also taking tests. Self-check quizzes at the end of each lesson and Examinations.  Included are postage paid envelopes to submit your examinationsfor hand grading. They are returned to you with full answer explanations.
Most of all , my children saw me learning something on my own.  That in an of itself is a good reason to enroll in this course - you get to practice what you preach!
I'm so glad that I already had a basic knowledge of how to prepare taxes, but this course helped me learn so much more.  I can even get a Registered Tax Preparer certificate and use my "learning" to become "earning" for our family budget.  (only problem...I'd have to find the time :-)
I highly recommend tackling the Federal Income Tax Course. National Tax Training School has made it very easy for you to start - and complete.  They are there to answer questions and help you along the way.  They are currently working on the beta version of an Online course which will streamline the process even more. 


See what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought here.
I was sent a complimentary course in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WealthQuest for Teens

From their website:

"Innovative, engaging, practical tools for teaching your teen effective money management. The interactive video and the eBook will teach your teen to think about and organize money so it works for them now and for the rest of their life!"  Designed for teens age 14-19.

Cost - $39.95

With 2 teenagers in the house now...the Bentz Test Laboratory has begun to venture into the wonderful world of teaching teens!   Money management skills are one of those very important new subjects on our horizon. 

WealthQuest for Teens is a comprehensive tool to teach these skills.  The short, easy to understand, and engaging videos are a huge hit!  My teenage boys both found them enjoyable, and they are really absorbing the concepts and shaping their attitudes about money.

WealthQuest for Teens is organized into 4 main components -  An online seminar - with 7 video segements including  printable workbook,  a 60 page Parent Guide, a 30 Day - Quick Start Guide for your teen, and a Free online money tracking tool called MoneyTrail.net.

The entire seminar can be completed in about 2 hours, but the discussion points you will have with your teens about money will last for a long time!  I wish I had been fortunate enough to have had this type of education regarding money management, it would have saved so many painful (and costly) mistakes.

Both my teens have expressed their desire to avoid debt, and I'm so glad.  WealthQuest for Teens will give them the tools they will need to achieve their goals.  The definition that WealthQuest uses for wealth or rich is “the amount of money you need to have the life you want and to make a difference in ways that matter to you.”  It's not a "get-rich" program, it's grounded in Biblical principles and practical tools.

WealthQuest implements  the "silo" system  to teach the "how-to" in tangible, visible ways.  Your teen is instructed to actually deposit his money into seperate containers (jars, envelopes, etc) called silos.  If you don't have it in the silo, you can't spend it...simple!

  • Necessities - 50%
  • Saving For Big Ticket Items - 10%
  • Future Financial Freedom (Investments) - 10%
  • Learning (Education) - 10%
  • Fun Money - 10%
  • Heal the World (Tithe) - 10%
I was impressed with this program, and so were my boys. The Parent Guide was filled with wonderful suggestions - I'm following their advice - I'm reading WealthQuest to learn new money management skills as part of life long learning!   The Teen book has 30 questions to keep your teen thinking and planning for their future goals. And, MoneyTrail.net let's your teen try out his new skills online.

Best of all, the price of this program is affordable, in fact - you can't afford not to teach them these valuable skills early on!

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

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


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Dayspring Christian Academy - The Pilgrim Story

From their website:

"The Pilgrim Story teaches children about one of the most important times in our nation’s history. It is America’s foundation. This self-guided, interactive history course from Dayspring Christian Academy teaches students the true history of the Pilgrims from original sources. The Principle Approach method of education is used, which holds a providential view of history. Students are taught the importance of Christian character and other biblical principles, such as self governance, hard work, and perseverance. Students also learn the biblical principles of Christian liberty.


Lessons include: King Henry, Geneva Bible, Liberty of Conscience, Leaving Leiden, Conditions on the Mayflower, Building Christian Character, the Mayflower Compact, and much more. Students witness the providence of God in the lives of the Pilgrims and the founding of America. This interactive, self-paced course consists of five units totaling 17 lessons complete with assessments and ideas for further study. Appropriate for grades 3-6.

Activities in the course include crafts, application, live action, map-making, and much more—all designed to get students involved in the learning process. Principle Approach students are taught to think and reason from biblical principles and apply them to every area of life, so reasoning questions are also included.

Each lesson takes between 30 and 45 minutes to complete. Enrichment activities will take additional time. Students learn to manage the notebook, an important element of a Principle Approach education. Each lesson also comes with student note sheets and a vocabulary list.

This engaging online course culminates with a virtual field study to Plymouth, MA. 
Instructor: Mary Stauffer"

Cost - $99.00

Access to the course begins within 48 hours from purchase. You will have access to the program for six months from the date of registration. The course does not meet at a specific time. You may access it at any time that is convenient to your schedule.

Bentz Academy was impressed, and the timing couldn't have been better - Thanksgiving is on the way!  The Pilgrim Story is an inteactive journey that all my testers enjoyed (K-9).  The course was easy to work with.  Even my younger students could manage to follow along.  My 4-9th graders could manage this independently, but - we choose to enjoy it all together.

Notebook pages (quotes, vocabulary, fill-in-the-blank notes) are printable for each lesson.  Completing the lesson, including notebooking,  averages around 30-45 minutes (it took us a little longer...)  There are also hands-on activities you can choose to include - one of our favorites - a Mayflower Meal.  Writing assignments and quizzes (either multiple choice or essay) complete the learning journey.  The 5 units end with a Virtual Field Trip to Plymouth Plantation (a favorite of my testers -  we would love to see it in person!) 

My testers loved being able to interact with the material. The graphics are well done and interesting.  It isn't just a "lecture" for them to listen to, there are plenty of opportunities to move around on the pages. Some activities must be completed before you can advance.    

My favorite part of this program was that God's hand of providence was taught throughout.  I really want my children to see the big picture of history being - "His-Story".   The Pilgrim Story told the true story!  I enjoyed it as much as my testers did.  The only drawback may be the $99 price tag.  Although - you do get access for 6 months, with the ability to tailor it to your schedule.

Check out 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, October 6, 2012



From their website:

" At Beeyoutiful.com, we believe that each individual is responsible for their own health. It is not a doctor's responsibility to keep you in good health. Instead they are a tremendous resource, especially for those times when urgent care is required. But, they are only one of many resources. And the tools they use, while powerful, are not the only tools available. But a tool is worthless unless one knows how to use it.

We have found a lot a tools that have worked very well for our families, and made Beeyoutiful a repository for those tools, as well as the information to effectively use them. As we learn more, we share more. Our goal is to eventually carry every natural product that we use. We're not there yet. We may never be as we are constantly being exposed to new and great products. As much as is in our power, we want to aid others in obtaining and maintaining good health."

Introducing - The set of Beeyoutiful Products that I was delighted to try!   I have used several of these products before, and I'm a big fan! 

  • Berry Well,  - 8 fl. oz. -$19.75 Each ingredient in this pleasantly fruity syrup holds its own against flu, colds, and a swarm of bacterial and viral infections. This organic Elderberry Syrup contains Propolis, Raw Honey, and Echinacea.
I have used this product with myself and my kiddos for several years.  They love the taste, and we haven't been to the doctor for anything other than well-child visits since I don't remember when.  It really works! (and because it tastes so good, you will not have to fight them to take it - they'll ask for it, promise!) 

Ow!-Ease,  - Arnica Trauma Salve - 1 oz. - $15.00

Using a proprietary blend of herbs, Ow!-Ease relieves pain associated with sprains, strains and pulled ligaments and muscles, bruises, and contusions. It works quickly and effectively to help reduce swelling and muscle pain, and is excellent as a rub for body builders, construction workers, and gardeners alike. The amazing qualities of these herbs work synergistically to soothe, restore, and actually speed tissue healing.

This is a new product to my medicine cabinet.  But, I can tell you - it's here to stay!  I have a child affectionately nick-named "Crash".  He is one of the most accident prone, bruise covered boys around - the perfect tester for this product!  He reports that it really helps ease the pain, and was back on his bruise & scrape inducing ripstick in no time.  Better stock up on this one if you have a kiddo like mine!

  • Miracle Skin Salve  - 2 oz. - $15.00  OR 4 oz.- $25.00
    Miracle Skin Salve promotes deep healing and restoration using a soothing blend of organic herbs and oils. From sunburn, chapped lips, and diaper rash to painful wounds and burns, apply salve as often as needed and watch your skin smile!
This is my FAVORITE, MUST-HAVE product!!  We tested it last year (you can read that here).  Since that time, this is our go-to item in the first aid kit.  We have used it for sunburns, eczema, cuts, chapped lips, and even acne!  This product works so well!  It's light, not greasy and smells good too.

  • Lip BALM, Available in Orange or Pepperment - $3.00
Beeyoutiful’s all natural Lip Balms offer you a choice of a soothing, healing lip balm that you can be confident in the ingredients.  The convenient size fits in your purse, pocket, diaper bag or gym bag for easy access wherever you may be.

I tested this previously as well.  Once again, this is my MUST HAVE favorite lip balm of all time.  My only issue is - that everyone else in my house loves it too.  I want my VERY OWN, no-sharing tube!   You will too!!

 In this DVD she shares how she uses some of the most popular Beeyoutiful products in her home with her husband Steve and daughter Noelle. Steph has carefully researched, tested and "proofed" each and every product Beeyoutiful carries, in the trenches of real life. Join her as she shares those experiences with you.

I'm not your typical, all-natural type.  (no laughing out loud...especially if you know me!)  But, this video really inspires and encourages.  It's nice to get the perspective from someone who is actually using these products.  When you order the MUST-HAVES, get the DVD too - you'll be glad you did.

Other members of the TOS Crew tested other Beeyoutiful products - read about what they thought  here.

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


From their website:

The flexible, curriculum-linked, learning system that motivates kids to learn through fun

  • It’s FREE for you to use with your kids at home. Just create a FREE Keeper Account and they’re away!
  • For even more motivation and learning power upgrade to the very affordable PREMIUM Zoologist Subscription - COST - $14.95 for 1 year.
  • The educational content is drawn from a bank of over 17,000 carefully-crafted, finely-incremented learning activities
  • Comprehensive coverage of maths, punctuation, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, word skills, phonics, phonemics and reading
  • Designed for kids aged 5 to 15

I love to have a variety of educational tools to use to motivate my students.  ZooWhiz is one of our new "tools" at the Bentz Test Laboratory. 

My testers are both animal lovers - so this program caught their eye right away.  They both had their own Premium Zoologist subscriptions. 

There are several activities to choose from:

Learn & Earn -

Here's where they choose an educational activity - Math, reading, spelling, and more to complete and earn the coins to spend at the Arcade or in the Biodome to purchase animals (the favorite activity of my testers!).  They earn 100 coins each time they sign in.  The activities are leveled and determined by the age level you determine.  One note - several times my testers had a difficult time understanding the Austrailan accent in the phonic/reading activities.  But, usually we enjoyed the accent - and the positive reinforcement with correct answers - "Cracker Jack!"

Arcade -

Full of games to play.  My testers liked playing the games, but they prefer to use their coins elsewhere.  Maybe they are learning some money-management skills as well...  Several of the games were a bit tricky for my younger tester to do on her own - but, plenty of siblings were there to jump in and help!

Biodome -
My testers favorite place!  They can purchase animals with their hard-earned coins for their own personal zoo. There are hundreds of animals to choose from.  They can also click on the animal to learn more about it.


This is a feature for mom.  You can track what skills are being mastered and your child's progress.  I didn't spend alot of time with this, since playing Zoowhiz was a reward activity for my kiddos.  I didn't want to give them the impression that this was "school" and kill their enjoyment :-).  But, it's a great tool for moms who want to use this feature.

Overall, this is a fun way to reinforce and practice the learning concepts, and enjoy some computer time.  Plus, the price is affordable!

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

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


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Box of I.D.E.A.S

From the website:

Box of I.D.E.A.S are ideal for teaching multi level students, focusing on age 9 to 16. Designed to get kids off the computer and around the table, Box of I.D.E.A.S. are great to supplement your current curriculum but can also be used for homeschool group activity, summertime learning and as a break from the normal routineThe Salt Box of I.D.E.A.S is a comprehensive look at salt and how it has helped to shape history, nourish our bodies and even build and destroy empires. This Box delves into history, geography, science, language, political systems and much more. Salt—something that your children see and probably use every single day—can be a wonderful stepping stone to opening their minds to so very much."

COST - PDF versions - $49.00   Physical box - $79.00. Extra modules - $4.00

I know I've mentioned this...unit study learning is a HUGE hit at the Bentz Test Laboratory. I jumped at the chance to take a peak at the Salt Box of I.D.E.A.S.

This company has some very interesting topics - Laundry, Eleven, World War II just to name a few... (More are on the way...Pine, Cemeteries and Olives - oh my!)

I thought to myself - "This ought to be interesting, how does someone make a cross-curricular study of "salt" that will appeal to the 9- 16 age crowd?" Let's just say, I was pleased with the flavor of this product!

We were blessed to recieve the Physical Salt Box of I.D.E.A.S.  Inside, each of the 10 units were completely printed, included all supplies, and were conveniently packaged in easy grab-and-go zip top bags. I love that all the modules are stand-alone - you can use them in any order. As a busy Mom of Many, I need little, to no-prep studies.  Box of I.D.E.A.S has done all the work for me! Games, experiments, fact cards and activities keep even my most hands-on learners busy with PLENTY of variety and interest.

One of our favorites was the "Need for Salt" - we investigated the need for salt in our diet. We made a menu plan containing the amount of salt we ate during the day. A handy laminated menu planner, a table of common food's salt content, and even the dry-erase marker were all included in the activity bag! In addition, we were given a brief overview of the lesson, web links for more learning, and a portfolio page to complete. Extension activities to go deeper were included as well. Each bag includes a quote on the front that you can use for copywork or just for discussion. "Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all" - Nelson Mandela. (emphasis is my own addition, it's now a new family dinner-time saying) 

My older boys jumped at the chance to get to play games.   Geography, history, science -it was all right there in the Box of I.D.E.A.S. waiting to be discovered.  A quote from one of my testers - "You know, The World War II Box would make a great birthday present...hint, hint".  I'd say, Box of I.D.E.A.S are worth their salt!

In my opinion, get the Physical Box. The convenience and quality are well worth the extra investment. It will save you so much time. Your children will be able to grab it and get down to the fun of learning, without waiting for you to prep it!

I can't wait to order the Quilting  Box of I.D.E.A.S. for our American Girl Club. Did I mention this product is a great fit with homeschool groups?  

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

I was sent a complimentary Box of I.D.E.A.S in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.