Sunday, January 22, 2012

We Choose Virtues

We Choose Virtues -

I am excited to tell you about this product! 

Here's a decription from their website -

"We Choose Virtues is not unit study that you use once and then move on from. It is actually a character development tool that you use every day, every year. You introduce the Virtues, then demonstrate them, memorize the catchphrases, then learn the antonyms, then capture teachable moments when they are being used…or aren’t. You will be amazed how fast you will all learn to obey (not just learn what obedience is, but actually learn to obey!)…and 11 other Virtues too! There are 13 Parenting Cards, one card is the Butterfly and Caterpillar Card. It teaches that everyone was born able to change."

I was sent the


The Bentz Test Laboratory really liked these cards!  Designed for elementary children, they are bright and colorful with memorable characters to reinforce the virtue, and a "challenge" on the back to practice.

I added these cards to our chore packs.  Each of our younger children get a "chore pack" with pictures of their daily chores...I just added a new We Choose Virtues card each day.  They were excited to see which they had each morning.  Score one for mom - a focus on chores and virtues at the same time!

The Coloring book has been a huge  hit as well.  I love that it's a downloadable product, so we can print out as many as need.

Check out the other amazing resources by We Choose Virtues.  There are so many ways to use these tools in your family! You can get started with the FREE Family Character Assement tool to help you pinpoint problem areas.  They offer many supplemental resources, posters and even full kits.  Check them out!

Check out 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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Maestro Classics - The Story of Swan Lake

Maestro Classics -  The Story of Swan Lake

I LOVE classical music!  (Maybe that surprises some of you that know me's kinda not like my personality, but - I do LOVE it!)  And further, I want my children to LOVE it as well.  Just bragging a bit, but one of my children (an almost teenager no less) has nothing but classical music on his iPod! (one down - just a couple more to go!)

How did I accomplish this feat you ask?  Well, I exposed them to classical music often and early.  I taught them about the lives of the composers and the stories within the music.  We also took them to orchestra performances suited especially for children.  But, if you don't have those opportunities available, and you don't know where to start - why not pick up some CD's from Maestro Classics!

We were excited to listen to The Story Swan Lake (from one of our favorite composers...Tchaikovsky).  Here's a little description straight from them:

"The Story of Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky’s greatest ballet score, is the tale of a prince who falls in love with a beautiful princess. The princess, however, has been turned into a swan by an evil magician, and only the prince’s love can break the spell. This narrated version of the classic tale for children is sure to delight all who love ballet and enchanting storytelling.

A 24-page activity book included with the CD contains a biography of Tchaikovsky, information on acoustic and electric guitars, sheet music and words for a sing-along song, explanation of major and minor keys, puzzles and more. MP3 download from Maestro Classics website includes a PDF of the activity booklet. "

For just $16.98 (CD version) or $9.98 (download) you get:
  • The Story of Swan Lake - Narrated
  • Tchaikovsky's Life
  • Speed Metal Swan (for those not-so-classical-types...)
  • About the Music
  • "Tchaikovsky Wrote a Great Ballet" (a catchy little teaching song)
  • What to have some Fun? Prepare to Perform
  • "Tchaikovsky Wrote a Great Ballet" Sing along
  • And, a 24 page Activity booklet
The Bentz Test Laboratory enjoyed the entire CD, and several of them have become enamored with all things "Swan Lake" - you would not believe some of the amazing performances you can find on Youtube.  That's what great music does - it makes you want more!

I HIGHLY recommend Maestro Classics - their CD's are well done, and follow all the steps for introducing your child to an appreciation of Classic Music without all the cost!  They have many classic stories as well.  Their website even has an Educational Material  section with curriculum and lesson plans - go check it out!

Check out what the other members of the TOS Review Crew had to say about it here.

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Z-Guide to the Movies - Kit Kitteridge

Zeezok's Z-Guide to the Movies:

I love using movies as school!  With this resource, you won't even have to "stretch" to make your case! 

Here's a brief description from their website:

"Each guide starts out with a topic overview. This overview provides the student with more information regarding the specific time period in which the movie is based. Next is a movie synopsis. The synopsis will assist the student in understanding what is going on in the movie and how relationships, situations, and events all relate together.

The first activity is always review questions. We recommend the student answer these as they watch the movie. We want to be sure they are paying attention and being an active learner versus a passive viewer.

The next several activities all build around the historical time of the movie. The questions in these activities may be more about the people or events that happened in the movie. These questions cannot be answered from watching the movie. (We all know you don’t get accurate facts from a Hollywood movie.) The student will learn research skills because he will need to use either the library or the internet to properly answer these questions. Some of the activities involve writing an essay. So the student is learning research and writing skills during the process.

Each guide also contains at least one hands-on activity, a worldview activity, and The Filmmaker’s Art activity. The hands-on activities for the active learner vary depending on the guide and include activities such as creating a treasure hunt, completing an art project, or planning and making a meal for the family.

The worldview activity helps the child to understand the movie’s worldview. This activity is not to impress on the student our personal worldview, but to get the student to think critically through what he believes and what is being presented in the movie. Family discussion questions also develop this critical thinking from the worldview promoted within your family.

The Filmmaker’s Art activity helps the student recognize the tools being used to influence the viewer. The various guides discuss how filming techniques, music, lighting, humor, character development, irony, foreshadowing, and even character names are used by the director and producer to influence the viewer to get their agenda across. We want the student to be able to discern not only the agenda of the movie, but also how they are being influenced by it.

We recommend the student completes two activities per day, taking a week to complete. Z-Guides are meant to supplement your current history curriculum. They are not intended to replace your core curriculum for history.

And yes, answers are provided for all of the questions. We tried to make it as easy as possible on you."

You can view a sample guide here.

Each Z-Guide is just $12.99 for an Ebook or CD.  Dozen of titles to choose from (and 25 more coming this spring!)

The testers at Bentz Learning Laboratory loved this movie!  Of course, the girls were all over anything to do with an "American Girl".  But, I even got the boys in on it... You do have to get your own copy of the movie, the Z-Guide does NOT include the actual movie. 

These guides are a great way to incorporate movies into your curriculum.  But, I caution you - don't make it seem too much like "school" - they'll be onto you in a minute (and you'll forever taint "family movie night"!)  Take the time ahead of the movie to "arm yourself" with the information in the Z-Guide, then you can spill it out during and after the movie on your "unspecting" students.  Then after the movie, you'll have ideas to keep their interest and learning going.

These are a great tool to use! (just don't make them write out answers during the movie, if you want to keep movie nights as family fun!).

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.

Real Homeschool Spanish

I love it!  Relax, Enjoy, Aspire, Learn Spanish.  In fact, this is going to be my new motto for Bentz Academy this year -


Here's some introductory information for you:

  • Available online at - REAL Homeschool Spanish
  • Age range - whole family! (love this...especially in a family our size!)
  • Book Bundle Includes:  Book, Activity Book, Answer Guide and Audio Files
  • $49.95 download, $59.95 download with daily curriculum guide, $89.95 hard copy, $99.95 hard copy with daily curriculum guide

The Bentz Test Laboratory has had alot of "trials" (know what I mean...) with learning Spanish.  We have become a bit wary of Spanish curriculum in general.  We've tried almost everything...our results - nada.  But, since I am committed to search until I find - I was eager to try something I haven't heard of yet.

I was NOT disappointed!  REAL Homeschool Spanish is designed for the homeschool family (not the NASA and government officials hoping to learn a new language).  It isn't only  "paper and pencil" learning either.  To really learn a new language - you need to hear, speak it and interact with it (not just read and write it...). 

REAL Homeschool Spanish has 10 units.  Each unit is made up of vocabulary clusters.  There are 33 vocabulary clusters and 15 Idea Sections each with 3-4 activity sections along with audio files of native speakers from Mexico using the vocabulary.

 I love the focus is on learning words that you will actually use, if you speak to a Spanish speaking person. See a sample about learning colors here.  We LOVE the audio files included.  Let's just say, we tend to pronounce our Spanish with a strongly Northern MN accent - it truly is a blessing to have an auditory sample to follow! 

The author Dr. Karyn Williamson-Coria is a homeschool mother of three boys (can we give her a round of applause, please!)  She truly understands what a homeschool mom needs - Curriculum with a detailed plan!  She has done the prep work for you - the program comes with a  "Planning Guide" and "Daily Planning Chart".  Additionally, you will find hundreds of ways to make Spanish study come alive for your family.  "Home Educator Tips" and "Ideas Sections" are included throughout with easy to implement ideas (like games, songs, and more!).  The "Activity Book" will help develop the reading/writing skills for your Spanish study (see a sample here.)

The website is a valuable tool as well!  Check out the Culture Links for free (History, learning games, recipes, and lots more).

I'm very excited about continuing with REAL Homeschool Spanish!  I found it both usable and affordable - you should check out what other members of the TOS Crew had to say about it here.

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