Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Sculpture Technique: Construct by ARTistic Pursuits: A TOS Crew Review

ARTistic Pursuits Review
ARTistic Pursuits Review
Sculpture Technique: Construct by ARTistic Pursuits
For ages 11-18 - Cost: $47.95
Are you the artsy type?  Or, maybe not?  Either way, you are going to love this curriculum!  ARTistic Pursuits is an award winning curriculum that will have your children learning, creating and having fun - all at the same time.  With 13 different books available - ages Prek-High School, you can find the perfect starting spot to get your children enthusiastic about art.  We are excited to introduce you to a brand new book in their lineup - Sculpture Technique: Construct.  This is a first of it's kind art curriculum, much more than just an "arts & crafts" series - these books focus on the processes of working with different types of materials to introduce the elements of sculpture in ways that your student can do independently. 

The Bentz Test Laboratory selected our 11 yr. old, creative tester to take a peek at Sculpture Technique: Construct.  This tester could not wait to dig into this.  This year long curriculum  is organized around 4 Units focusing on the elements in three-dimensional art:
  •  Creating Form in Papermaking 
  •  Creating Planes in Cardboard
  •  Creating Motion with Papier-Mache
  •  Creating Volume with Wire. 
 Each unit can be used independently and in any order. My tester picked Papier-Mache to begin exploring.  By teaching the process, your student will focus on the elements of this type of art with examples from contemporary artists.  The Papier-Mache unit's focus is on creating motion in their pieces. 
During Project inspiration phase, the student becomes familiar with the type of material being used, and and is inspired by their own creativity for the project they will undertake.
Project execution takes them step-by-step through the process with clear instructions and examples.  The student is creating their very own, one-of-a-kind masterpiece.  ARTistic Pursuits is giving them the guidance through the process - but, they are not creating a cookie-cutter replica.  This is real art instruction, designed to help them develop their own skills.

One of our favorite features of this book was the pictures of sculpture from contemporary artists.  In addition to learning the process, there is a good amount of art appreciation being taught as well.  I love how ARTistic Pursuits combines both to give a well-rounded approach to art instruction. 
My tester took off with this project - completely on her own!  The easy to understand instructions and readily available materials, made it so very easy for her (and painless for me...).   She was able to easily follow the instructions, which are written in a conversational tone, directly to the student. My tester appreciated the numerous diagrams and pictures that outline each step.  "Hands on" and "Hands off" symbols let her now when she needed to stop - for example - Papier-Mache needs drying time.  This is a very self-guided curriculum, but all the instruction she needed to succeed with her project was clearly included.  What a great way to encourage independent thinking and creativity!

At the end of each unit - there is an Evaluation to reflect on what they accomplished.  Advanced methods were also discussed, i.e. using fabic, adding texture, and even repairs.  

While her project turned out quite simple - she was extremely pleased with her efforts.  Her ability to pick this book up, and work independently really boosted her confidence!  

We have used ARTistic Pursuits for several years, and I can report that this curriculum truly delivers a high-quality art experience - for both you and your child.  It's easy to teach, well-written and very affordable. So, even if you don't feel qualified, or excited about teaching art... this curriculum can help deliver an outstanding art education for your students! 
Check out some of the other titles the TOS Review Crew worked with: Sculpture Technique: Model
The Way They See It (Preschool) Early Elementary K-3, Book 1: Introduction to the Visual Arts Early Elementary K-3, Book 2: Stories of Artists and Their ArtEarly Elementary K-3, Book 3: Modern Painting and Sculpture ,Elementary 4-5, Book 1: The Elements of Art and CompositionElementary 4-5, Book 2: Color and Composition
ARTistic Pursuits Review
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our "Gotcha Day"

I have a number of friends that have adopted.  So, I know what a "gotcha day" is... do you?  It's the day that the child that already is a part of your family in your heart - becomes "officially" yours.

Our first "official family photo"

We adopted Kris in our hearts last year,  this April 18th - we got our very own "gotcha day!"   Have I told you about my 9th child yet...

Well,  she's 26 years old, finishing up her college degree.  Just a tip for all you wanna be adoptive moms out there - there are HUGE blessing to adopting independent, potty trained, college students!  We met Kris as we embarked on our India trip last year - she was wanting a community/family, and I hadn't felt that "done" feeling everyone says you have when you are done having kids...


Kris, Sam and I all shared the amazing India experience together.  I knew she was mine right away, but especially our last day in India.  As we played and splashed together hand in hand in the Indian Ocean, and I knew our hearts would forever be knit together.

She is a perfect fit our our craziness.  She loves board games, and is highly competitive. (The seat of shame was her brainchild)  She loves the loud chaos of our home, and even brings her own to it.  She's a dog person... (ok, one strike against her) but, at least half of the family agrees with her. She is passionate and fiesty, but has the most compassionate true heart.  She loves Jesus and people, and everyone who meets her falls in love her.  My other eight children love her almost as much as I do!

So, Kris' grandma (the amazing woman who raised her) had brain surgery last week.  God has been busy miraculously healing her, and we are so very thankful!  As I was checking in on Kris (who has barely left her grandma's room) Grandma asked to speak to me.

She asked me to promise to take care of Kris, and be her "momma".  She gave Kris her blessing and encouraged her to come to San Antonio with us for the next phase of life.  When I visited her a couple days later, she grabbed my hands, looked me in the eyes - and made me promise to take care of Kris.  It was such a meaningful moment for both of us.  I feel like Grandma passed Kris into my keeping.  What an amazing privilege to be allowed to share.

Thank you God for giving us our very own "Gotcha Day" to add to our family celebrations. We love you Kris!

Philosophy Adventure by Home School Adventure Co.: A TOS Crew Review

Home School Adventure Co.
Philosophy Adventure
Philosophy Adventure

Philosophy Adventure by Home School Adventure Co.

Do you want to inspire your students to write, think and speak effectively?  Philosophy Adventure  will have them well on their way, by discovering the world of ideas!

Cost: $39.95 for the Digital Download (physical products also available)

It includes PDF files of the Reader, Student Workbook, & Teacher's Resource

Philosophy Adventure by Home School Adventure Co.  has become one of my all time favorite resources!

This 8 unit study dives deep into the world of ideas by studying some of the greatest philosophers and what they thought, taught and believed.

Vocabulary, memory cards, a "Write Think Speak" journal, notebooking pages, mapping assignments, timelines, quizzes and tests, writing checklists and freewriting exercises are all included in this very well-rounded curriculum. Additionally, other members of the TOS Crew were reviewing additional resources from Home School Adventure Co. designed to complement the Philosophy Adventure Mere Christianity Journal,  Philippians in 28 Weeks & The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions

The Bentz Test Laboratory volunteered our high school and middle school testers to give this a try.  Eight key philosophers are studied:  Thales, Pythagoras, Xenophanes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles, Protagoras,  & Democritus.  Don't let these names scare you!  The author - Stacey Farrel's goal is to take this subject matter - philosophy, and make it engaging, easy to use and empowering. 

Each lesson features several main components.  First, the Philosopher's story - quotes, history, ideas and impact they had.  The Write, Think, Speak sections are included to complement and give hands on assignments for the concepts presented.  Geographical information is included.  The School of Thought of the philosopher is discussed along with a Contrast section.  The contrast section was their favorite part - it contained source material - written by the philosopher, and how that information aligns with a biblical worldview.

My testers worked through this independently (good for moms who don't care to tackle this subject).  However, this material is very thought-provoking and you'll find yourself wanting to have those meaningful conversations with them as they encounter the world of ideas.  

The Reader is in full color (however, we printed it black and white to save some money).  The nice part of a digital download package - you can have read it on mobile devices too.   The Reader is very engaging, easy to read, and filled with information.  Do not rush through this - it's really great stuff, especially for our high school students! 

 Each student needs their own Student Workbook.  They create their very own notebook of philosophy.  Mapping and critical thinking exercises are included.  My favorite sections were the creative writing exercises.   Set the timer, and see where their own creativity goes, guided but not scripted. Journaling pages are included for each lesson - tackling key questions like "Where did I come from, and why am I here?" and "Can you identify a prize for which you would be willing to suffer?" These are the thought-provoking questions that will generate unbelievable discussions with your teens.  The seven reproducible writing checklists are a very valuable tool - covering every step from pre-writing to evaluation.  A self-created glossary of terms and definitions is an engaging way to work with the advanced vocabulary they are mastering in this program. 

We choose to add this program as a supplement to what we have been already working on in history.  Philosophy Adventure is easily adaptable to the way you want to use it - as an intensive 8 week study, a 16 week semester, or even just one lesson a month.  Credit and time calculations are included in the Teacher's Guide for how to allot high school credit. 

This is one of the best resources for your middle and high school level students that I have ever seen.  Don't miss this one!

Find Home School Adventure Co. on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instragram

SPECIAL DISCOUNT  - JUST FOR YOU!  Use Code: CREW-10  (Expires: May 15) for 10% off any download product!

Home School Adventure Co.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Have a Blessed Easter 2014


For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1Cor. 1:18

Friday, April 11, 2014

Our Welcoming Committee

The GBA (Great Bentz Adventure) is underway!  I told you in my last post about our miraculous - 4 days on the market, home sale, and I promised to tell you the story of our "welcome to Texas"...

A month ago we started this crazy, roller coaster ride...anyone else ever move?  You know what I'm talking about!

Matt and I flew to San Antonio, to "check it out"...   After a day of looking at real estate - our dear friends took us to the Tejas Rodeo.

My heart was still a bit uncertain if moving again, starting all over again, all that work... was really what I wanted to do.  I still hadn't felt that I had the "sign" from God that this was the direction that HE was sending us in.

All those thoughts and emotions swirling around in my head,  I decided to just forget about the decisions and enjoy some good old rodeo!  It was my first rodeo, after all :-)

I casually noticed a familiar looking lady a couple rows in front of us, then I noticed her husband.  HEY,  I know them!!  Isn't it amazing that you can be hundreds of miles from home, and recognize a friend?  But, this was not just another couple we knew...  this was our "welcoming committee"!

Turns out that God had place the one of the only people that I would recognize as a "welcome" right in front of me at the rodeo. This couple had been our "welcoming committee" way back in Minnesota.  They were pastors from our church!

 Yep, only God could strategically place someone from my past that would welcome me to my future. I just love how he speaks!!

So, after she gave me a big Texas-sized hug, and welcomed me to Texas...  I knew I had the sign I was looking for.

Texas, here we come!

e-Science Premium Membership by Supercharged Science: A TOS Crew Review

Supercharged eScience Review
e-Science Premium Membership by Supercharged Science
The program includes:
  • Cool science projects you can start doing right now with easy-to-find materials
  • Step-by-step videos that show your kids exactly what to do.
  • Perfect if you don't have time to teach science, or science isn't your thing!
  • A 17-page student guidebook PDF that includes explanations and questions for each lesson.
  • Science Newsletter with lots of great science activities
  • Instant online access to the videos and guidebook 
  • Recommended for all K-12 levels!
Cost: $57/month (full access)  or $37/month for (K-8 access only)

Want to see for yourself - Just for the TOS readers, you can Try Supercharged Science for a month for just $1  Check out FREE SAMPLE experiments here!

How would you like a REAL rocket scientist to come and teach science to your children, in your home?  I'm excited to introduce you to Aurora Lipper of Supercharged Science   (I love her red hair!! - you need to see a family picture to understand...she's one of us!).
Supercharged eScience Review

While I enjoy science, and experiments - let's just say they turn out like my cooking... sometimes they work, sometimes - not so much!  The Bentz Test Laboratory was excited to preview the  e-Science Premium Membership from Supercharged Science.

This 20 unit, online curriculum for K-12 features video instruction and step-by-step videos of each experiment.  (wish I could find something like this to help me with my cooking...).  Text readings, and printable worksheet activities and even "shopping lists" are included in each lesson.

Since all my children had access to the program - a GREAT value for larger families with multiple grade levels, I assigned them to work in "buddy pairs".  Two by two, they were able to explore the many topics, and choose what they wanted to investigate together further.  A handy grade level organizer can help you narrow down the topics for specific grades:

The online program is very easy to navigate.  My children, even the younger ages, had no problem. There is no mandatory starting spot, and you can skip around the units as you feel led. 

Every child loved this program!  That in itself, should tell you about the variety and depth.  From a 10th grader, deep into Chemistry  - to a Kindergartener - all of them were enthralled.  

Supercharged eScience Review

This is science taught the way it should be!  Aurora is a passionate teacher, and her passion for the subject lights a fire in your students. One mom-to-mom tip - when someone runs in and excitedly exclaims that they need eggs, vinegar, baking soda, etc.  Don't worry... it probably won't actually blow up anything.    Or, you may find that your swingset has acquired a whole new use - a testing laboratory for Newton's Laws.   Just smile, nod your head, and realize that they are well on the way to becoming rocket scientists themselves!

 We used Supercharged Science as an addition to our regular textbook style science curriculum.  It offered the zing and zap that was missing, and made science a delight driven subject again.  Thank you Aurora!  This program could easily stand alone as full curriculum - especially if you have hands-on learners. 

With summer right around the corner, Supercharged Science is a fun way to sneak some learning in too - check them out  on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google +, and their Blog.
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Victus Study Skills System: A TOS Crew Review

Victus Study Skills Review

Victus Study Skills System by Victus Study Skills System 
Victus Study Skills Review
Student Workbook - $20  - and Teacher Edition - $40

"The Latin word victus means a way of life. The Victus Study Skills System is based on the premise that effective study is best when it is a system of study and when it becomes a way of life."

The Bentz Test Laboratory has a goal that all our testers will love to learn, but love to study?  Hmmm... how are we doing on that one? We decided to take a look at our study habits while working on this program.

Check out a short intro video for the Victus Study Skills System:

The 3 cornerstone questions for personal success are each addressed:  "Where are you now?",  "Where do you want to be?", and "How do you get there?" Using a teacher led model:  purpose, preparation and procedure are covered in 10 sessions designed to be taught sequentially in 5 - 1 hour sessions. The actual amount of time spent on each lesson will vary from student to student, but it is important to maintain the sequence of the lessons in the order they are presented.  The Teacher Edition will help you understand the scheme of the course, the lessons to be taught, and offers supplemental materials to use throughout the course.  The Student Edition contains all the worksheets and forms to complete as they work through the concepts.

The Bentz Test Laboratory has several testers in high school, or about to enter it.  We decided to work through the Victus Study Skills System together for this review.

Lesson 1 focuses on "Where am I now?" - They do this by completing a study habits checklist, investigating learning strengths and determining your own learning strength.  We have spent some time reviewing our learning styles, and most of my testers felt pretty confident that they know "where they are now", definitely a good place to start! 
Lesson  2 & 3  dive into "Where do I want to be?" with mission statements, goals/priorities, and a very helpful chart for developing SMART -specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound goals for each season of the year.  This was extremely useful for my testers.  It forced them to evaulate their goals to come up with personal objectives plus an action plan in various areas - academics, extracurricular, physical fitness/health, and family/personal areas.  I realized that we talk about our "plans" frequently - but, have never actually put pen to paper with a written outline of specific goals.  This is such a great exercise - I recommend all parents participate as well!  Each of my testers completed this session with a summer reading plan, a community service project they would like to get involved in, a spiritual growth goal, and a plan for a physical fitness activity to participate in.  Best of all, we can go back and evaluate how we did!  We will definitely use this tool each season.
Sessions 4 - 10 concentrate on "How do I get there?" -   Time management, organization and study environment, PQRST (a new way to read material), listening skills, note taking, test taking, and a review of what they have learned are all covered with helpful teaching, tips and practice examples.  These are all effective, easy-to-use tips and tools that every student should learn how to use.  My testers were eager to learn new test taking procedures, as our standardized testing is right around the corner.  I realized that in our homeschool environment - my testers had rarely ever taken notes.  The note-taking instruction and practice was a valuable tool they will need in college.  They practiced these new skills by taking sermon notes at church too! 

The Appendix offers reproducible forms to help with goal setting, getting organized, schedules, and mnemonic devices and strategies to reinforce the skills they have been learning.

This is just the practical, logical, step-by-step how-to that my testers needed to help them succeed at study. It's not a long, complicated course.  It's a straightforward, easy to implement path to better study skills.

I think every student should take some time to work through the material in this program.  It is useful and motivating, not just for your students - but for homeschooling parents as well!

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