Thursday, September 26, 2013

See it and Say it Spanish by Flip Flop Learning: A TOS Crew Review

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From their website:
"See it and Say it Flip Flop Spanish teaches chunks of language that is immediately usable. For ages 3 to 93, every family member will enjoy moving the innovative photo flashcards around to construct their original sentences in Spanish."

A two-year curriculum complete with 3 sets of flash cards, a whiteboard paddle, and 4 audio CD's. Complete with games, charades, skits, audio, visual, and tactile learning, children and parents alike move quickly through the short CD tracks (about three per lesson) three times per week."

Cost: $99.95

The Bentz Test Laborartory is ever on the hunt for Spanish programs. I loved learning Spanish in school, and want my children to as well.

I'm pleased to introduce you to our new tool - See it and Say it Flip Flop Spanish! Finally, a Spanish program for ALL ages (including me - I'm under 93...)   

See it and Say it Flip Flop Spanish could not have been any easier to get started with. Just 3 easy steps - assemble a pre-printed, hole punched binder, open to lesson 1, and play the audio CD. 

Each lesson is just 3 days. You pick - 3 days in row, or spread out over the week. This program works well with younger and older children.

The Spanish vocabulary is introduced with the audio, and with the full color picture cards. You get 3 decks of cards - color-coded and number by deck (rojo, verde, and azul) to make them easy to find. On the front of the card is a full color picture, on the back - is the Spanish word, phonetic spelling and the English translation. The cards were a hit - so much more fun than memorizing long lists of vocab! As the vocabulary is being learned... my tester would touch the card, Flip it over and Flop it down as they said the word in Spanish. FUN! Starting in Lesson 2 - we were adding cards that we created ourselves. The key is getting your child to interact with the cards.

Once we began to master some of vocabulary, we could create sentences and even play games. This is a perfect program for your hands on learners.  We could use the cards in so many ways. We enjoyed making our own sentences. My testers would occasionally shuffle through the cards and leave me "notes" on our table. I have funny kids, huh... 

Donde esta el helado? &  No me gust el brecol feo!

Grammer Notes to parents are included throughout the manual. These are some helpful information to help you understand Spanish grammar, and to pass it along to your students. You do not need to know Spanish yourself to enjoy teaching this subject to your family. 

This program could easily be independent study for older children. We chose to do it together. The lessons are short, and easy to do. Older children can copy their sentence creations (from the cards) for practice writing Spanish. My testers loved the drawing sections as well.

The Dry Erase Paddle is another fun component included. Our favorite was a Pictionary-style game, where we would make teams and draw the vocab word from our deck, getting our team to guess it from our personal drawing. I think we may need a "flip flop art" program - drawing isn't our strong point, his word was "perro" - anybody tell what this is?


El perro....anyone??

I think that See it and Say it Flip Flop Spanish is an excellent program. It's very affordable (2 years of multi-child learning for under $100) and easy to learn.   If you are looking for a fun introduction to Spanish, that will make your children want to learn more - you will want to check it out!

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Presidential Game: A TOS Crew Review

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The Presidential Game

From their website:
"The Presidential Game is a fun exciting game of strategy where 2 teams battle for control of each state's electoral college votes. Play to win the most powerful office in the world!  Great family game for ages 11 and up."

 1 20" x 30" GAME Board 
 1 Score Pad, 3 Blue Dice, 3 Red Dice 
 80 Politics Cards
 40 "Write-Your-Own" Politics Cards
 150 Republican Votes (red chips)
 150 Democrat Votes (blue chips)
 1 Electoral WebMap™ Calculator Access Code -Use your computer, tablet or smartphone to keep track of your election results just like in the news!

Cost: $35.00

Bentz Test Laboratory went wild over The Presidential Game!  We are huge strategy game fans around here, and this game was a huge hit with all my testers.

The Presidential Game is an electoral race to win the Presidency.  At each turn - the player must decide either to campaign or fundraise in a state. The roll of the dice determines your votes. Of course, my testers all started out gunning for the large states - but quickly came to realize, how small states can have importance as well.  
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We can read and read and read about the electoral college and process, and not retain ANY of the information.  However, give us a game to play, challenge us, and make it intereactive - and we learn lessons that we NEVER forget.  I wish we could turn all our subjects into as successful of a learning adventure!

Some of the  highlighs my testers enjoyed the most
  •  The Politics cards which are used to earn votes, are humorous.  Even dad got in on the fun testing this game.  
  • The Electoral WebMap™ Calculator is a fun tool to make calculating your score effortless (for more math practice... don't let them use it, just don't say I said so...).

We love a game that is challenging, but not too difficult to learn.  The Presidential Game was exactly that - challenging, without taking huge amounts to learn how to play.  Each game took us around an hour to an hour and half to play - just right for our family.  Every game was a whole new race, so it never got dull.  Deciding who got to be Republican and who was Democrat could get a little testy with my testers... we'll have to work on that. :-)  

This would be a great supplement to your American Government/Election studies - wish we would have had it last election year.  You'll gain a better understanding how our country elects our leader and learn some useful geography along the way too!

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures : A TOS Crew Review

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Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures 
From their website:
"From the hot, steamy jungles of Indonesia to the highest mountain passes in the Andes of Peru, Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures  takes you on an unforgettable adventure around the world. 

Seed Sowers of people whose lives were anything but boring. Crazed wildcats, angry witch doctors, heart pounding jungle rides down white-water rapids, terrifying headhunters and cannibals, and frightening first contacts with unknown tribes--each story bears testimony to the brave missionaries that God calls to serve.

Each one of them is a seed sower--planting the seeds of God's Word in the lives of people around the world waiting for Scripture in the language of their heart."

Cost: $13.95 - currently  ON SALE $12.50 

Are you ready for an adventure?  A God-sized calling?  Do you want your children to catch God's vision for the world?
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If you answered yes - you will want to add Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures  to your family's reading list!

The Bentz Test Laboratory is filled with future missionaries.  In fact, my oldest tester and I are about to leave on a 2 week mission trip to India (he had a dream at age 5 that he would go to India as a missionary - and now at 16 is about to take his first steps there)  Other testers include:  a future missionary & rescuer of orphans in China, a preacher, an author, and even a passionate missionary to the terrorists in Iraq (that kind of calling could only have come from God!)

Did we do something to our water to put this passion into their hearts?...  NO - but, God did!  In fact, I think that God spoke to them through stories of ordinary, everyday people that stepped out in faith when they heard God calling. Reading missionary stories to your children will inspire them to see the bigger picture, and encourage them to step out when God calls.

Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures   is the type of book that our family has been reading since our testers were tiny.    This 165 page, paper back book tells the stories of 21 modern-day missionaries around the world.

Gwen Toliver, the author, has 8 children and has served with Wycliffe Associates since 2010.  I'd really like to meet her...I feel like we would have alot in common!

My testers and I thoroughly enjoyed this book, chapter by chapter each day at lunch (my favorite reading time...their mouths are full )  Each chapter met with "One more, please... " from my testers.

We found it hard to put down these captivating stories of ordinary people, doing extraordinary things while translating the Gospel into the "language of their hearts" for people around the globe. The language of your heart is the you heard most when you were a little child, and the language you can best understand what God is speaking to you.  I hope the language of my children's heart beats with the sound of God's passion and calling, don't you?

These stories introduced us to new locations on the map, new peoples we had never heard of before and unending adventures.  The missionaries displayed courage, tenacity, and perseverance against many odds.  These are the character qualities we want our children to emulate.  Real life role-models, and not the hollywood "heroes" that are so readily on display in today's media. We rejoiced and we cried as we read through example after example of God's faithfulness to call ALL peoples to him.  What a privilege to share in this work that HE is doing!

Do not miss the opportunity to introduce your children to these modern day heroes of the faith.  You could be sowing seeds in them to grow into a God-Sized calling for their own lives.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

American Girl - All the Kaya Posts

Several people have asked if I could put our American Girl posts all in one place...  So, here is a recap of our meetings.  I'll be adding a new post for each girl we've studied so far.

Kaya - the first American Girl we studied, was so much fun - we started this back in 2011.  It's amazing to look back and see how much we've all grown!

What an amazing journey this club has begun for us.  I can't even begin to tell you how much these families all mean to each other.  Life long friendships have been bonded together, all because of a simple doll.  What a gift!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Student Keys Binder by People Keys: A TOS Crew Review

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From their website:
"The Student Binder by PeopleKeys  is comprised of six short workbooks that each reveal a critical aspect of a student's self-concept.
The workbooks were designed to be a simple and practical way for students to become more familiar with their strengths and natural preferences in areas of personality, learning, thinking, motivation, career choice, and goal setting.
Their strongest preferences are then applied to real-life relating, thinking and learning experiences. This simple, yet profound program gives students a greater understanding of themselves so that they may be better prepared to make critical decisions and set realistic goals.
Each of these workbooks is a tool for personal development specifically geared to acclimate students to their social and learning environment, to increase retention and to raise GPA's by revealing students' unique learning and thinking styles."
StudentKeys Binder Includes:
  • The Personality Style Workbook
  • The Perceptual Learning Style Workbook
  • The Cognitive Thinking Style Workbook
  • The Values Style Workbook
  • The Career Choice Workbook
  • The Goal Setting Workbook
Cost - $49.00 (Individual workbooks are available for $13 each)

Bentz Test Laboratory was very excited to take a peek at the StudentKeys Binder!  Since I have a degree in psychology, with a minor in sociology, this was right up my alley. (be warned - my disclaimer on my degree - just enough to make me dangerous, not enough to make me helpful...)

My high school student was selected as my tester.  He was eager to jump in.  The StudentKeys Binder contains 6 workbooks that walk you through discovering your Personality Style, Perceptual Learning Style, Cognitive Thinking, Values and Career Choices and even Goal Setting.

We were both hooked with the first assessment - Personality Style.  Using the popular "DISC" inventory, he was surprised to see how accurate this quick test was.  He then proceeded to test everyone in the family.  We were all amazed to see ourselves so accurately reflected.  The workbook then helped him understand the characteristics of his personality and how his style helps him approach tasks, communication and more. 

A key to the workbook was taking the information gained, and applying it to building effective relationships.  Valuable life skills learning!

Each of the workbooks explored another aspect.  I think this was an eye-opener for him, and for me.  So much valuable information can be gained from one binder!  Every homeschool mom should investigate the Perceptual Learning Styles and Cognitive Thinking Styles workbooks.  I gained precious insight into ways to improve learning for each of my varied learning styles, and my tester worked on designing his own learning evironment with the resources included.  You do NOT want to miss this, it could be revolutionary - it was for Bentz Test Laboratory (and we still had 3 workbooks to discover!)
The Values Style, Career Choices and Goal Setting workbooks should all be mandatory high school reading, in my opinion.  Discovering what they value (and how that enters into relationships), what careers are suited to their unique make-up, and the how-to of setting goals are fundamental skills to master BEFORE leaving home.  Knowledge is power, and these easy-to-use workbooks will give your student plenty of power to succeed.

This is one of the most valuable tools we have ever reviewed.  It's arranged logically, the information is presented in easy-to-understand terms (don't need that pysch degree to understand this...) and it's infinitely practical. 

People Keys offers additional products to help you as well:  Be sure to check them out! Children's Profile, Student Strengths Report, The Personality Style Report, DISC Career Style Report, The Perceptual Learning Style Workbook, The Cognitive Thinking Style Workbook, The Personality Style Workbook, The Values Style Workbook.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Foundations A by Logic of English: A TOS Crew Review

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Foundations A by Logic of English

From their website:
"Learn and giggle alongside your students as you engage them in fun, multi-sensory activities which lay a complete foundation for reading, handwriting, and spelling.

This pick-up-and-teach manual provides everything you need to introduce students ages 4-7 to reading and handwriting! The manual is filled with fun games and activities that engage children’s natural energy and playfulness while teaching them the systematic structure of English.

Cheerful callouts provide Teacher tips, ideas for Multi-Sensory Fun, Speech Tips, Challenge Activities, Vocabulary Development Tips, and Book Suggestions. Instructions for teaching both the cursive and manuscript lowercase letters are included as well as eight lessons which aid teachers in assessing student progress and provide resources to create customized review lessons."

What is covered in Foundations Level A? - see the scope and sequence 

Ready for a peek - check out some sample pages too - Sample Lessons 1-3

Cost: Customize your Level - with either PDF or print editions and many fun tools too!
  • Foundations A Teachers Manual ($38)
  • Manuscript Workbook ($18)
  • The Rhythm of Handwriting Manuscript Chart ($9)
  • Basic Phonogram Flash Cards ($16.20)
  • Manuscript Tactile Cards ($25.20)
  • Red Manuscript Phonogram Game Cards ($9)
  • Blue Bookface Phonogram Game Cards ($9)
  • Student Whiteboard ($10.80)
  • Phonograms App ($2.99)
Here we go again...the Bentz Test Laboratory is on our final two.  Final two to teach to learn to read, that is...
My tester is our very eager - 4 year old.  She has been watching everyone get all the "attention" with school, and wants a piece of the action for herself.
When the  Logic of English - Foundations A box arrived, we were blown away!  It was a learning-to-read-treasure chest.  Games, cards, colorful and bright, and even a whiteboard.  This is a package worth getting any day.
The Teacher Guide is laid out in a very clear, easy to understand manner.  Plus, everything you need to succeed is included - supply lists, speech tips, and so much more. The speech tips have proven to be especially helpful - as my tester is in speech therapy.  I found many tips that are helping her progress (and that I plan to use with other children as well)
I really enjoyed that it was so colorful, I know it shouldn't matter - but, I really felt like it made this program seem more "new" and advanced than the same old black-and-white stuff we've been using forever.  Add in the App - and we're moving into a whole new generation!  
My tester was in love with this from day one!  The Tactile letter cards quickly became a favorite.  Being able to touch the letter was just plain fun (if you have a tactile learner - these are a MUST HAVE).  The Student Workbook is also a visual treat - the pictures are all full color - it captured her attention.  Several other testers happened by and mentioned,  "Why didn't we get to learn to read with all that fun stuff?". 
The Student Whiteboard - what genius idea!  What kid doesn't love writing on the whiteboard?  With the pre-printed lines - this was a perfect way to practice, and we've been using it all over the place. The handy Rhythm of Handwriting Manuscript Chart was a helpful tool to remind me of the proper way to form the strokes, the Phonogram Cards have the same info as well.  The Game cards are used in lessons throughout to reinforce and make the learning fun.
One of our favorite parts - was the Phonograms App.   We could take our learning on the go with us (and trust me - we are always on the go!)  My tester could practice her phonograms with a fun matching game, or use it like her own set of talking flashcards.  We had every little kid in the waiting room crowding around to see what she was "getting to play".  I loved being able to pull it out, and let her practice!

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I was completely impressed with Logic of English's Foundations A.  It is very complete, very professionally done and very easy to pick up and use.  
Now, if only the poor testers that didn't get to have this experience learning to read would quit whining about it... 
Logic of English offers many other products to fill your language arts needs. Foundations B is the next book in the Foundations series, Essentials is a program designed for students ages 7+, the Rhythm of Handwriting is an easy to teach handwriting program available in manuscript or cursive.
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The Countdown has begun...

I can't believe it... the countdown to our India trip has begun.  In less than a MONTH - my son and I will be standing on Indian soil.

What a journey it's been since we decided to go!   We have seen God move in miraculous ways already - and are eagerly anticipating having a front row seat for more displays of His mighty powers. If you want to read about some of our fundraising... click here.

Would you join us in praying for our team ?

This is just half of our team...there are 10 of us in all.


  • Our team will bond together with strong relationships.
  • Our preparations are completed in time. (especially my teaching portions!)

  • Our families will be safe and "okay" without us.  I've never been gone this long...

  •  Our Indian friends will be blessed!

I'll be sending updates, as I can.  For all you who have partnered with us - THANK YOU!  Watching God abundantly provide for each and every financial need has greatly influenced our faith. 

Thank you Prayer Warriors!!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Time4Learning: A TOS Crew Review



From their website:
"Time4Learning is student-paced online educational tool covering preschool through high school. It is popular as a homeschool curriculum, an afterschool alternative to tutoring, and for summer skill building.  It uses fun, multimedia activities to teach standards- based lessons that closely follow public school curricula. Does your child have different achievement levels in different subjects? No problem! Each subject can be set at any grade level. Alternative explanations are provided, so if a student answers a question incorrectly, the activity explains it in a different way. Tools such as the activity finder help students hone in on specific areas of study and find reinforcement activities." 

This page offers an overview of what's available from Time4Learning -  preschool to kindergarten curriculum, elementary to middle school curriculum, and high school courses.
Take a peek at their interactive lesson demos.
Cost: For PreK – 8th grade, Time4Learning offers one low price of $19.95/student per month.
 Additional students can be added for $14.95 each per month, and all students have 24/7 unlimited access. There are no contracts, no hidden costs, and members can quit at any time. Plus, if for any reason a customer is not satisfied,Time4Learning offers a 14-day money back guarantee.
It's been a tough summer at Bentz Test Laboratory,  a full-detail blog post will be coming soon.  But, suffice it to say,  one of my testers need some major help catching up in some basic skills.
Time4Learning showed up "just in time".  My fiesty, never-sits-still, 3rd grade tester needed someone with more energy than me to help her brush up on some core subjects - math, language arts, science, and more.
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As you can see - plenty of activities are included.  Additionally, your student can access one level above and one level below the level you select. 

We focused on brushing up on a Math skill and a "student's choice" skill each day.  I like letting her be rewarded with her choice, after she completes the subject that is giving her more struggles.  Learning seems more like a treat that way!

The math and language arts lessons are taught with animation in this level (grade 3).  Questions, reviews and quizzes are all included along the way.  Printable worksheets are a feature you can access as well. Science and Social Studies lessons are text to read to them, and include offline suggestions to try too.  The "Playground" is an option available to play games, etc. once lessons are completed, and you as the parent can set the timer.  My wiggly girl would rather be done and outside... maybe this reward feature works better when the weather isn't so nice. :-)

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What we liked most - this was independent work for her.  Both of us needed a break, and this was one way she could continue to work at her own pace, and develop some much-needed independence.  Plus, I got a bit of a reprieve from lesson planning.  It helped her review some core subjects, and get ready to move forward.

As each lesson is completed, you can easily track progress.  I like that we could immediately see where she left off, and what to work on next. The parent administration panel gives you access to their progress, as well as the ability to change their levels, print worksheets, spelling and reading lists and more.

Overall,  I think this is a very comprehensive, well-planned learning tool.  However, it truly functions best as additional practice and review for subjects and not as core curriculum.  My tester did not want to spend large amounts of time sitting in front of the computer, and frequently tired of this type of learning.  

I truly appreciated the extra help that Time4Learning gave us during a difficult season for our family.  However, I do find it a bit spendy for the larger-than-average homeschool family budget (8 kiddos would be $124.60 per month!)  But, for a short time, as needed - this could be a valuable sanity saver for you and your child!

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again by Greene Bark Press: a TOS Crew Review

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Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again by Greene Bark Press

From their website:
"When Wally Waddlewater wants to find a mailbox to mail a birthday card to his Grandmother, he has to learn how to cross the busy streets of his town as well as the rules for crossing streets safely."
Ages: 3 - 8

Cost: $8.50

I found a treasure to introduce - Greene Bark Press!    Just read their company philosophy, and I'm sure you'll be hooked too: "Our books and stories are selected for originality, imagery, and colorfulness. Our intention is to capture a child's attention, to fire-up young imaginations and spark the desire to read and explore the world through books."

Even with the advent of the Internet, text messaging, the IPOD, Ninetendo, Wii etc., we still feel that the key to reading and language comprehension is the printed book. It has been estimated that a child must acquire new words at the rate of 5,000 a year during the developmental reading stage of his or her life. This is far more than can be taught directly. Retention and understanding of new words and concepts are much more successful when presented in a related context or in a themed approach. What better way to accomplish both of these goals than through good imaginative books and stories?"

Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again is a colorful board book about crossing the street safely.  This is a lesson that I feel like I teach, teach, teach...  know what I mean?  With 8 children, there has always been someone needing the lesson on crossing the street safely.

My Best Test Laboratory tester is our spicy four year old.  She's the prime age for feeling like a "big girl" but, needing alot of guidance before she can do "big girl" things!

We snuggled up to read Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again.  She loved the bright pictures, and ryhming text.  I loved that the message -  "Look Left..Look Right,  remember then, Look Left again" was repeated over and over!

The very next time we were crossing the street, guess what came out of her mouth?  You got it - "Look Left..Look Right,  remember then, Look Left again"  BINGO - the power of stories and books with our children!

Since then, several other testers have read & enjoyed this quick book on safety.  It's a great way to reinforce this lesson until it sticks.

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