Thursday, March 29, 2012

I See Sam Little Books

The Reading for All Learners “Little Books” program is a sequence of 141 color coded books. There are 8 sets of books from Kindergarten to 3.6 reading level. Each set contains up to 27 books for $30.

You can see a Flash Demo here.  Download a Scope and Sequence here.

My tester at the Bentz Test Laboratory was at the perfect place to start Level One (he knows his letter and sounds and is beginning to blend them well).  You should have seen his face when I showed him an entire box of "real books" for him to read!

The books are illustrated well - and are engaging to the early reader. I liked the extra prompts in small letters at the bottom of the page - my tester loved the smiley faces.  I like that we have a whole new library as we are learning to read, and my tester likes seeing how much he can read!

This is from their description:

Little Books Set 1 Reading level: K - 1.0 Set includes 27 different books Decoding skills: 27 new sounds, new sound combination's, 73 new regular words, 9 new sight words, comprehension skills. Assessments located in books 6,11,16,21,26.

Academic Success for All Learners is all about helping your child have success, and they make it easy for you!

They will create a customized guide and lesson planner just for your child. Answer a few simple questions about your student's reading skills and and they will create a guide tailored to their needs. Download your guide today.

See what the others on the TOS Review Crew thought about it here.

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Action Alert

Do you monitor the internet usage in you house?  Of course you do!  But, how would you like to have a dedicated company helping you keep your family safe...even when you're not there looking over a shoulder?

Action Alert includes everything you need to create a safe environment on the family computer
  • Creates a kid-safe PC - with web site blocking and filtering
  • Control Computer Use - with comprehensive time controls
  • Get alerted - know if anything suspicious occurs and review activity

You can get a Totally  FREE Version to make your computer kid-safe in seconds.
A FULL Maximum Protection Version is just $29.99 and allows Multiple User Protection,  is Fully Customizable, & allows Full Social Network Monitoring.
How it works:
Action Alert has been pre-loaded and blocks hundreds of thousands websites known to host damaging spyware or other unwanted content. If at any time you have a website that you want blocked, you can enter the information into the key by going to your Action Alert settings under Web Site Blocking.

Parents can also choose to use the "allowed sites only mode" which can be created from your Favorites List.
Action Alert records up to 60 hours of all computer activity: web activity, chat sessions, games, and homework sessions, everything online and off.  Action Alert will stop recording when the computer is not being used.

Action Alert's patent pending capture process allows you to review activity in the same way you would watch a movie. You can quickly scan the video, or type in a key word or phrase to jump to any point in the video.
You can set Action Alert to notify you, in the Activity Notification Alerts setting. You will be notified via e-mail, or sent a text message to your cell phone when key words or phrases are used by your child. Action Alert will also update you with information on: weekly time used, and other data.
I have been using this program for over a year now.  It's one of our favorites!  I have not found it to slow down the computer, and I love knowing that I can review all the activity from that computer. With older students at the Bentz Test Laboratory using more and more internet based learning, I need a program to keep them safe and give me peace of mind.  You want to believe that no one in YOUR house would ever use the internet inappropriately.... With Action Alert - you can know what's being accessed.  It's like having a trusted friend to help look over their shoulders, when you can't.
I was sent a complimentary download in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.
See what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Progeny Press

Progeny Press

From their website:

Progeny Press has over 100 study guides for literature, covering kindergarten through high school. Progeny Press study guides concentrate on critical thinking, comprehension, literary analysis, and Christian application. Our goal is to teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!

Feel free to check out their full
Progeny Press Catalog, and take a look at an Interactive Sampling of their Study Guides.

We were priviledged to review 2 different levels:

Julius Caesar
Study Guide by Michael Gilleland,
for the play by William Shakespeare

Grade Level: 9-12
Setting: Rome

Take a peek inside - sample pages

Looking for more than activity sheets or a who-did-what series of questions?
Want to dig into the essence of the novel?

This study guide provides easy-to-use, reproducible lessons on literary terms, comprehension and analysis, critical thinking, related scriptural principles, vocabulary, and activities, plus a complete answer key.

This study guide is available in 4 formats.
  1. As a printed and bound booklet - $21.99
  2. On a CD in .pdf format - $18.99
  3. As the same .pdf file as an e-mail attachment - $18.99
  4. CD & Booklet combo - $27.99

My 8th grade tester at the Bentz Test Laboratory has completed Progeny Press Literature Guides in the past.  He was very excited to have the opportunity to do another, and was quite impressed that he could now do them on the computer!  The guides are interactive, allowing them to type directly into the PDF on your computer.  (you can still opt to print and have them write out the answers, but, why?)

These guides are very comprehensive - they introduct the literature's author, give a brief synopsis, provide helpful background information and even have ideas to do before reading!

The "meat" of Progeny Press Study Guides are the vocabulary and questions.  These are not your general - "what was the book about", "what did you like", who was... kind of questions!  The questions are designed to make your student interact with the literature, use critical thinking skills and increase their ability to communicate.

My favorite part - classical literature is taught and examined from a Christian Perspective!  Progeny Press Study Guides will be a vital part of our high school program.

Progeny Press is not just for High School...  With 100 titles to choose from, all grades - you can follow your children's interests as well.

The Bentz Test Laboratory was also reviewed

The Cay 
Take a peek inside sample pages.

Grade Level: 5-8
Setting: Caribbean, World War II

Study Guide by Lisa Tiffin
for the novel by Theodore Taylor

This Guide is available in 4 formats:

1. Paperbound booklet (reproducible) - $18.99
2. PDF file on CD (opens with Adobe Reader, interactive files can be completed on computer or printed) - $16.99
3. PDF file emailed directly to you (opens with Adobe Reader, interactive file can be completed on computer or printed)- $16.99
4. Booklet & CD Combo - $21.99

All formats include full student text and complete answer key.

Each guide is designed to take from 8-10 weeks to complete. 

I highly recommend checking into Progeny Press Study Guides for your literature program!

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

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

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Art of Argument by Classic Academic Press

The Art of Argument, An Introduction to Informal Fallacies

"My chief objection to a quarrel," Chesterton wrote, "is that it ends a good argument."

From their website:

"Junior high aged students will argue (and sometimes quarrel), but they won't argue well without good training. Young teens are also targeted by advertisers with a vengeance. From billboards to commercials to a walk down the mall, fallacious arguments are everywhere you look. The Art of Argument was designed to teach the argumentative adolescent how to reason with clarity, relevance and purpose at a time when he has a penchant for the "why" and "how". It is designed to equip and sharpen young minds as they live, play, and grow in this highly commercial culture. This course teaches students to recognize and identify twenty-eight informal fallacies, and the eye-catching text includes over sixty slick and clever, “phony advertisements” for items from blue jeans to pick-up trucks, which apply the fallacies to a myriad of real life situations.

This text comes in a workbook format with clear explanations and many updated illustrations and examples to insure understanding and mastery. The text aims at the practical application of the informal fallacies through an analysis of current social, commercial and political issues, which are discussed and evaluated. This practical application should insure that students continue to evaluate arguments, detect fallacies and reason well long after the course is completed."

Students master 28 fallacies (such as begging the question, the straw man, ad hominen, et al) by studying many pertinent examples. The text features a variety of:
  • Dialogues
  • Worksheets
  • Real-World Applications
  • Phony Advertisements
  • Dialectic Discussion Questions
  • Tests
  • Fun extras such as a humorous skit for students to perform, and the famous short story, Love is a Fallacy by Max Shulman
The Basic Bundle, including Student Workbook and Teacher's Edition is just $88.95

 The Art of Argument DVD Set ($54.95) is also available. The DVD Set features three experienced logic teachers and four capable, enthusiastic students discussing the 28 fallacies with contemplation and humor. Each discussion seeks to make a practical application of the fallacy to student life, advertisements, political speech, and various kinds of ethical and philosophical debates.

See a sample of Art of Argument here.

The Bentz Test Laboratory loved this program!  But, really - "argument" as a school subject?  They couldn't believe their good fortune! They would have done this "just for fun!"  (By the way, isn't that the way school is supposed to look?!)  The information is presented in a clear, engaging way.  It's easy for them to just jump right in.  If you don't feel comfortable with teaching logic, or have never had any background with it - the Teacher's Guide is an invaluable tool for you.  Beware, teaching them this subject could (and will) be used against you.  You better be prepared.

Teaching our children to think critically is such an important skill!  You can't afford not to.  Just open a newspaper, turn on a TV, or "I-anything"... and your children will be bombarded with messages using these very arguments! 

I think I'm learning as much, or more than they are... and, we're all having fun spotting what we have learned in real life! (Once again, isn't that how school is supposed to look?!)

We are huge fans of everything put out by Classical Academic Press (go check out their other products - Latin, Spanish, and more!)

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

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

Sunday, March 4, 2012

K5 Learning

K5 Learning -

Here's a description from their website:

K5 Reading helps kids become strong readers and develop a love of reading. This award-winning program covers phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary and reading comprehension.

K5 Spelling is an advanced vocabulary program which improves language skills one word at a time. We feature adaptive instruction, automatic word generation, an optimized visual interface, and a 150,000+ word database.

K5 Math is an award-winning program which builds self confidence and a deep understanding of math concepts. K5 Math covers numbers and operations, geometry, measurement (including time and money), algebraic thinking and data analysis.

K5 Math Facts uses adaptive technology to help kids develop instant recall of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts. Progress on each and every math fact is monitored until mastery is obtained.

Watch a video demonstration of the program.

Monthly Subscription:

First Child....................$25.00
Additional Children.....$15.00

Annual Subscription:

First Child....................$199.00
Additional Children.....$129.00

Do you want to check out some sample lessons?  A two week free trial is available as well. The trial includes free reading and math assessments, the two weeks of free lessons, with no future obligtations.  Go see what you think!

Ok, on to what the Bentz Test Laboratory thought.  My tester was interested in getting to do some lessons on the computer.  In fact, having a program like K5 available lets you have the flexibility to take a mini-mom-break from some lessons.  It also encourages them to work independently.  You can see progress reports to keep up with them.  K5 is not an all inclusive curriculum, but rather a supplemental learning tool you can add to your "toolbox"

We really enjoyed the K5 Spelling - one of the most challenging subjects to get accomplished each day. 

My tester enjoyed the lessons, but honestly - she didn't "beg" for more time.  I found the lessons to be good, if rather slow.  I recommend using this product for filling in those "gap" times when you can't manage everyone's schedule.  The prices are a bit steep for the average, "larger-than-average" family.  If you have one or two children, this may be a nice program to have in your "toolbox".

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

I was sent a complimentary 2 month subscription in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.