Monday, April 23, 2012

Cyrpto Mind Benders: Famous Quotations

From their website:

Crypto Mind Benders® develop mathematical reasoning and critical thinking skills that are vital to achieving academic and lifelong success. They are great for introducing students to encryption, algebraic thinking, and basic computer programming operations.

Crypto Mind Benders® compel students to break a secret code so they can identify a hidden joke or quotation. To break the code, students must apply logic and mathematical reasoning to 3 sets of clues. The challenge is getting all the information out of each clue! Once students break the code, they can solve the cryptogram by substituting the numbers with their corresponding code letters. The Quotations book familiarizes students with classic quotations from famous thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Voltaire, Socrates, and more! The Jokes edition familiarizes students with classic, goodhumored, jokes that both kids and adults enjoy

Grades 3-12+

$10.99 for either a print workbook, or Download

Take a peek inside

The Bentz Test Laboratory is well aquainted with Critical Thinking Company's products.  We have been fans since the beginning of our homeschool journey!

Crypto Mind Benders: Famous Quotations lived up to our expectations!  My tester eagerly grabbed it off the counter and excitedly opened it up and began working the puzzles.  Come to think of it, I haven't been able to get it back from him!!  His father wants it, he loves to use these puzzles in his meetings as icebreakers and team builders!

These books are reproducible within your family, you'll want to use them over and over.  It's a great way to "wake up their brains" before jumping into their studies.  We have always used Mind Benders as our mental warm up time  (kinda like my coffee...). This book features 32 activities, each with a puzzle to solve using your critical thinking skills.  We love the "reward" of the quote when it's complete.

Be sure to check out the many great products carried by Critical Thinking Company!

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.

Amazing Science!

From their website:

"Learn fundamental principles of science through Amazing Science Experiments! You'll learn about electricity, magnetism, heat, temperature, pressure, surface tension, buoyancy, and much more.

For every demonstration, a complete materials list is given, and each experiment features multiple camera views so you can see exactly what happens. Most importantly, every concept is explained in a step-by-step fashion. You'll not only be amazed - you'll understand the science behind every experiment."

Two Disc DVD Set (23 experiments!) - $19.95 (or Download them for $17.99)

Take a peek for yourself:

The Bentz Test Laboratory LOVES science experiments! But, I have to confess, sometimes the "science teacher" doesn't love the clean up from science.

So, what to do? Well, you could get Amazing Science DVD's and you could have the "experience" without the mess! **One disclaimer, these DVD's made my children want to do MORE science experiments - but, they knew exactly what to do - "clean it up when you're done"!**

These DVD's are very well done.  The Teacher is easy to understand, the experiments are easy to follow along with, and the science is super!  Each experiment turned out perfectly (not our "usual" experience...anyone know what I mean?), and the science behind the experiment was clearly explained.  Subscribe online, and they'll send you a free video to your email inbox!

One Bentz Tester told me, "Don't let anyone else see this, I want to show them the experiment!"  It was that cool. 

I highly recommend these DVD's.  They will make your science teaching easier, and your kids are going to love doing the experiments.  They're Amazing!

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.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

God's Great Covenant

God's Great Covenant - By Classic Academic Press

From their website:

"Teaching the Bible to young children can be a large task, and is often divided up into many small stories. However, if you would like to teach your students the truly big picture of the Bible, and show them how God has been at work in his people since before creation, you will find God’s Great Covenant to be a unique, surprising, and excellent Bible curriculum. The Bible, taught chronologically, by means of simple and direct stories, chants, and meditation on God’s character define God’s Great Covenant. Even many adults find themselves learning new facts, making surprising connections, and being blessed by reminder of God’s faithfulness, and how he always keeps his promises. Taught from a covenantal and reformed theological perspective, and rooted in Scripture, you will find this series to be a blessing to your classroom or family."

God’s Great Covenant, New Testament 1 teaches the Gospels to students in fourth grade and up, using stories, worksheets, memory verses, devotional guides, quizzes, and a little boy named Simon. In the introductions to the text, students will also learn about the historical, cultural, and geographical setting of the New Testament. This book is a most comprehensive and heartfelt study of the Gospels, and many parents and teachers will find themselves learning along with their students. - $26.95

A detailed Teacher’s Edition is also available. - $29.95.  It is a full copy of the student text, and also provides answer keys and teacher’s notes with additional factual information to expand upon the historical, geographical, cultural, and theological concepts introduced in the text.

An Audio file is available for a download - $9.95.  Included in the more than three hours of recording are thirty-two stories from the four Gospels. The downloadable audio file is MP3 format and can be burned on a CD to take along anywhere you go. The perfect companion for your auditory learners (or "van school" time, like at Bentz Academy!)

See a sample of the Student Text.

Or the Teacher's Edition Sample.

The Bentz Test Laboratory is a big fan of Classic Academic Press - you will definitely want to check out all of their amazing products!  We use their Latin and Logic products - two of our favorite subjects.

True to form, their Bible Curriculum - God's Great Covenant, is a high-quality, Biblically accurate, and academic curriculum.

It is designed into 36 weekly lessons with 4 themes.

Each lesson includes:
  • A memory page that includes a weekly memory verse, key facts chart, fulfillment of prophecy section
  • A thought-provoking “Think About It” question that encourages children to consider how to relate to God in their own lives
  • A worksheet and quiz
  • Unit reviews that contain a memory verse worksheet, devotional guide, and a fun short story of life in Simon’s world.

Very comprehensive program, but also - very easy to jump right in and begin.  If you're looking for a solid Bible curriculum, search no farther!  My testers ranged in age from 1st grade - 8th grade.  It was a subject we did all together, but the Student Workbook would be easy to implement as an independent learning subject with your older elementary children. 

I was surprised by the impressive amount of information included in the Teacher's Guide (well worth purchasing!).  With plenty of space for your own notes, plan on doing this Bible study right along with your children.  I bet, you'll learn as much as they do!

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, April 17, 2012

Bright Ideas Press

Christian Kids Explore Biology

From their website:

"This user-friendly, unabashedly Christian, one-year science curriculum for elementary students includes teaching lessons, gorgeous coloring pages, hands-on time, memorization lists, review sheets, creative writing assignments, and an awesome supplemental book list!

Written for 3rd through 6th graders, it can easily be scaled down for younger students, making this an excellent choice for teaching all your elementary-aged kids together. The schedule of 35 weekly lessons calls for teaching twice weekly, allowing a family time for projects, exploration of resource books, field trips, etc.

The conversational style gives students the basic information they need, making this an ideal first course in life science; especially useful for those following a classical approach!"

$34.95 - print copy
$7.95 - Downloadable Student Activity pages

The Bentz Test Laboratory LOVES science!  (I know, you've heard that before... It's true!)  But, not all science is truth...  This topic is a sensitive one, especially in homeschool circles.  I need to state, Bentz Academy is an unabashedly, Christian education center, therefore - we really LOVE curriculum that teaches science with a Christian Worldview and a focus on our Creator!

Christian Kids Explore Series by Bright Ideas Press does just that!

Eight Units take you on an reading, exploring, and learning adventure throughthe world of biology.  It covers the Basics of Biology, Plants, Birds, Mammals, The Human Factor, Reptiles and Water Creatures.

Each Unit has several lessons with "Teaching Time", and "Hands-on Time" and ends with a "Wrap-up".  Scripture reminders are located throughout the sidebar pages, a great reminder of our amazing Creator God!

The Bentz Test Laboratory has been eager to get their hands on another science book.  Christian Kids Explore Biology did NOT disappoint them.  Best of all, this program was extemely easy for us to open and dig right in!  We all especially loved the Hands-on suggestions.  My opininon, science is something you should DO, not just READ!

The Appendix was a treasure waiting for us in the back of the book!  It's filled with reproducibles like forms, maps, memorization lists, Scripture Memory, an ABC animal book, coloring pages, recipes and even more supplemental activities!  (the appendix alone is worth the investment in this book!).

Bright Ideas Press carries additional titles in this series.  I know they're on my wish list!

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

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

AIMS Education - Earth Rocks

From their website:

Earth Rocks - Grades 4-5 - $29.95 (Paperback or PDF versions)

"50 activities —336 pages Students explore soil, rocks/minerals, the water cycle and properties of water. In the section on Earth Changes, students will look at weathering and erosion. The Resources section has them classifying resources as renewable and nonrenewable. The book ends with a section on pollution."

The Bentz Test Laboratory LOVES anything hands-on and everything Science!  Aims Education is a supplier of activity books, lab kits and supplies and much more. 

I am currently teaching Earth Science at our homeschool co-op, so I had the perfect "class" to test out activities on.  I like having additional resources, printables, activities to coordinate to our lesson.  Earth Rocks was a useful resource to have available.  The activities were easy to implement, using readily available materials. 

One word of caution - Earth Rocks is from a secular worldview.  I believe the point of science (and all learning for that matter) is to point back to our Creator. Earth Rocks was not "overt" in their presentation of evolution, but neither did they endorse Creation.  Due to the secular nature, I would not recommend this product as "curriculum", but rather as additional information that you can use to add some hands on activities - once you have evaluated it first. 

You can download Free Samples - check it out for yourself!

See what 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.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Write with WORLD

A description from their website:

Write with WORLD is the middle school writing curriculum developed by education and media professionals. Use it to inspire and train your students to become proficient communicators who can meet educational requirements and navigate today's growing new media and conflicting worldviews.
Write with WORLD exposes students to:
  • reading and critical thinking that develop discernment
  • contemporary subjects and professional guidance to pique interest
  • flexible exercises to build confidence and skill for using today's new media
  • a thoughtful and meaningful Christian worldview   

Check out a sample lesson.  The Full Year Curriculum includes online access in addition to the Teacher Textbook and Student book. This is a two year program. We were sent a pilot copy of Year One which retails for $95.00. You can see purchasing options including a Year One and Year Two combo here.

Now, for what the Bentz Test Laboratory thought...

Since Write with WORLD is from the makers of WORLD Magazine and God's World News (a long-time Bentz family favorite) - I had a "feeling" it would be good.  I was not mistaken!

My testers are all in the "learning-to-love-writing stage", but they are boys. Enough said - some of you know what I'm talking about.  They don't necessarily chose writing as their favorite subject.  One thing that stood out right away was the connection made in writing about real-life topics - a huge motivator!

This curriculum is very well organized (especially for your boy students)  It is broken into "capsules" of learning.  Each of these capsules are a managable daily lesson (take a peek at the Table of Contents).  The language is clear and easy to understand.  The first capsule begins with advertisements - which really can capture their interest and get them ready to dig in, not to mention the critical thinking skills that are sharpened.

I was not able to review the online access portion - but, it will be available in the fall. 

My favorite part - the writing and instruction is from a strong Christian worldview.  Teaching our children this worldview, along with the writing skills to make themselves heard and understood - is vital!

I agree with this from their website wholeheartedly: Christians in particular should try to be the best communicators. They possess the truth and need to articulate a biblical worldview. Just as important, today's students must be discriminating media consumers - able to read, hear, and watch what the world is saying and to recognize the truth. (the bold words are my emphasis)

Overall, I was very impressed with this writing curriculum. 

See what 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.

Friday, April 6, 2012

TruthQuest History

From their website:

TruthQuest History is a deep and rich literature-based history study…but with a difference. You will not learn the story of mankind; you will learn the lovestory of mankind. You will not focus on the rise and fall of human civilizations; you will focus on the arrow-straight line of God's unchanging existence, power, love, truth, and plan for civilization. You will not simply 'meet the culture' or 'get the facts;' you will probe the truths of history so deeply that your students will be equipped to change their world!
You can use this handy guide to find where to start.  They offer samples of each guide as well.

I was sent a complimentary copy of :

Renaissance/Reformation/Exploration (1400-1600)

Your children must understand the deep issues of this time period! It was such a crossroad! They will see two different responses develop to the spiritual emptiness of the late Middle Ages--an emptiness quite like that of our own age, so we can learn much.
  • It was good for the people to seek truth, but where did they turn? Themselves? God?
  • How did the 'searchings' of the great artists, scientists, mathematicians, architects, businessmen, writers, philosophers, rulers, and explorers affect their awesome achievements?
  • This truth quest, and the decisions made in response, determined the future of many nations--those that were on their way to cataclysm and those headed for greater freedom.
  • The issues are not Catholic vs. Protestant, as TruthQuest History explains, so people of both faiths can feel safe using this guide.
  • Ideally for Grades 5-12, but younger siblings can participate. Includes book recommendations for all ages, where available.
Available as printed book - $24.95 , or PDF eBook  $19.95 (immediate download)

Here's what the Bentz Test Laboratory thought...

I have been eager to get my hands on this program for quite awhile.  We LOVE history at our home (almost as much as we love history resources!)  If you are like us, this program will appeal to you.  It's chronological, and it's very large-family, multi-level friendly. Plus, it's affordable and reusuable!  If you love books - this guide will give you all the recommendations you need to build an amazing history library for your family. 

Read their educational philosophy for yourself...

It was an easy program to pick up and begin - if, you have a  well stocked library already.  If you don't, you're going to have to go shopping! (a bonus in my opinion...)

The tone of the author speaks directly to your student in the commentary sections (I'd recommend you read first, and then paraphrase the information they need).  And in my opinion, this is the only weak point in this program.  It comes across a little bit like trying really hard, but  "talking down" to their level (maybe it's just the editing!). 

I love the variety of literature choices recommended.  The ThinkWrite exercises are well thought out, and provide the meat of the learning.  If you like to be able to pick and choose a curriculum to fit your family, rather than trying to fit your family into a specific curriculum, this may be just what you are looking for!

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

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

Amazing Animals by Design

Product Description:

Why is a giraffe's neck so tall? Why do zebras have stripes? Did all of these things happen by accident? When John and Sarah visit the zoo, they ask these questions and many more. Their parents and the zookeepers keep using the word design, but what does that mean? With its relevant message and exciting presentation, this is the perfect book to help introduce children to intelligent design. Come find out in Amazing Animals by Design by Debra Haagen!

24 pages - $8.99 (paperback) or $7.99 (ebook download)

Visit them on Facebook too!

The Bentz Test Laboratory are ALL animal lovers!   We love to point out the amazing designs and creativity of God, and what better way to do this than with animals!

This book is specifically geared to younger childern (PreK to Grade 3).  The design is engaging and it's the perfect length to capture their attention.

I was sent the ebook (which works great on my Nook), but we will be purchasing the paperback as well.  This is the kind of book you want to read again and again!  Not to mention, it's message is an important one for even our youngest children to understand.

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.