Thursday, May 29, 2014

What on Earth Can I Do? from Apologia Educational Ministries : A TOS Crew Review

Apologia Review
What on Earth Can I Do? by Apologia Educational Ministries

Apologia ReviewApologia Review

What on Earth Can I Do? (hardback book) - $39
What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal - $24
What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal - $24
What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book - $8

Apologia ReviewApologia Review

What's your worldview? How you see the world, and what you believe determines the way you act. I believe the single most important "subject" to teach in our homes is this - a Christian Worldview. You cannot miss teaching this, everything else falls into line when you put developing your children's Christian worldview first. If we fail to do this, the world will eagerly fill in the blanks for them, you do not want to miss this opportunity to shape the next generation!

What on Earth Can I Do? by Apologia Educational Ministries is the perfect partner to help you with this journey.  This fourth book in a Christian Worldview Curriculum called the What We Believe Series helps children understand what it means to be a “good and faithful servant” of God (Matthew 25:23).

Book 1 ~ Who Is God? And Can I Really Know Him?
Book 2 ~ Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here?
Book 3 ~ Who Is My Neighbor? And Why Does He Need Me?

The text is designed for the elementary student ages 6-14,  ideal for grades 1-6.  

At the Bentz Test Laboratory, we do this all together, with mom reading and numerous pauses for discussion (this will definitely spark discussion!)  Younger students will need help reading it alone, however,  older students could easily pick this up and work through it independently.

This volume discusses questions like:
  • Your Story of God's Story?
  • Who Put You in Charge?
  • Will you Be Found Faithful?
  • Where is Your Treasure?
  • Where Does Your Time Go?
  • Whose Life is it Anyway?
  • Why Isn't Easy Being Green?
  • What Will Happen When the Master Returns?

Each of the 8 lessons, designed to be covered over 2-3 weeks, begin with The Big Idea and What Will You Do introductory sections.   Historical Figures, Inventions, Music, and other interdisciplinary topics related to the main idea are included throughout. This volume focuses on approx. the WWII era, and has many great history connections.  I love the integrated learning approach they use!  (want to see a sample for yourself?)

The Think About It questions, Words You Need to Know vocabulary,  Hide it in Your Heart Scripture verses to copy and memorize, What Should I Do? character traits, and Parables of Jesus take the topic and create a fully integrated presentation. A Prayer section concludes each lesson, and makes a great family devotional tool.   Throughout this book you continue to build the House of Truth - a visual model of a Christian Worldview.

My favorite part of this course are the What On Earth Can I Do Notebooking Journal - for grades 3-6, (or those writing independently) & What on Earth Can I Do? Junior Notebooking Journal for younger grades, with lots of coloring pages and less writing

These are full-color, spiral bound journals for our students to create their very own personal learning journey with. They get the chance to be the author, editor and illustrator of their own book. You can choose the level your child is most comfortable with. Filled with note taking pages, vocabulary words, scripture memory, word puzzles, and places to record what they have seen God doing, and what they are doing too! Do You Remember sections offer a review of the lesson for them to record. Full color mini books are included, as well as their very own "About the Author" section for them to complete. Their completed journals have become treasures of all they have been learning about God.

The beginning of the Journals offer suggestions for scheduling the 48 lessons, coordinating the text and notebook work.  However, this curriculum is completely customizable to your family.You will want to start at the beginning, the lessons do build on each other.  One thing I really appreciate is how Apologia makes this easy to open and jump right in.

 For the younger children - What on Earth Can I Do? Coloring Book  was a big hit for my "littles".   It's a 64 page, high-quality coloring book that helps them to stay engaged (and their hands busy!), while learning alongside the older children.

When we finish this volume, we will have taken the journey through all four volumes of the What We Believe series.  I feel like this is truly a one-of-a-kind, not to be missed worldview curriculum!  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Best Surprise Ever!

What a wonderful way to wakeup!  Kris and Kelsey drove 10 + hours (with horrific traffic)  to surprise the kiddos for a weekend!

  I "knew" about the surprise about a week before, and could barely contain it... okay, I did "mention" it to my 2 oldest... but, I was able to keep it under wraps from the others (not bad, I do have lots of others!)

I love that after the happy smiles, the first thing everyone wanted was to crawl into their laps and read books together.  (sorry for the "just woke up" pictures... we get up mighty early around here)

We had the best.weekend.ever.  I love that we explored some family "firsts" - and the WHOLE family was here...

The Alamo 

My sweet 'lil - "TexES!"   The Alamo was inspiring, crowded and will need another visit to really appreciate it, I sense some homeschool field trips coming soon.

The Riverwalk

We took the boat tour.  I think the Riverwalk is one of my favorite places ever!  It is a place you have to experience to truly appreciate.  After the boat, it was off to lunch, right on the Riverwalk (don't let the hostess tell you they don't have an outside table)  Marachi band music and all!

My beautiful girls - Kris & Kelsey

Tejas Rodeo

 Dancing and bull riding,  doesn't get much better!

My favorite picture...

What a bunch of good looking "cowboys!"

Chasing the calves to try to get the ribbon from their tail.  So fun to watch my city kiddos get out there in the dirt. Josh's strategy - "I try to stay away from all the cows..."  I'm not sure he quite got the point!

Even torrential, Texas rain couldn't dampen our fun.

The next day we had plenty of hammock time, board games, grilling and plain old hanging out time together.  Having my "girls" here made San Antonio feel just like home.  

Saying goodbye again (even for just a short time) nearly broke my heart into pieces...

Hurry back!!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Trident Case: A TOS Crew Review

Trident Case Review
Trident Case Review

For Devices: iPad 2, iPad 3, or iPad 4  from Trident Case

Cost: $69.95

Great for all ages!

Trident Case Review Do you have mobile devices - phones, tablets, eReaders?  Do you have kids?  If you answered yes to either question, but especially if you answered yes to both - you need to check out Trident Case!  

Trident Case a USA based company that began in 2010.  They specialize  in manufacturing "military grade" protective cases for your mobile devices.  

Trident Case supports a broad range of devices from manufacturers including, but not limited to Apple®, Research in Motion®, Samsung®, HTC®, Motorola®, LG®, Nokia®, Sony®, Vizio®, Asus®, and Amazon®. With 6 different series of designs - featuring 1 to 3 layers of protection - you will find the perfect solution for you!

The Bentz Test Laboratory was sent the KRAKEN A.M.S. CASE for IPad 2.

 My 16 year old SON was the tester for this product. He saved quite a long time to be able to buy his very own IPad, and he is very protective of it.  Needless to say, he is a teenage BOY so it goes without explanation, he thoroughly tested this case!   This case boasts a pretty impressive list of features:

All Trident Cases meet Military Standard MIL-STD-810F for vibration, dust, sand, rain, and drop. Thankfully, my tester did NOT test his new case by leaving his IPad in the rain, but it makes a mother's heart rest easy to know that "just in case" - his investment would be safe!  

The KRAKEN A.M.S. CASE features an absorbent, shock absorbing, silicone,  inner layer, covered by a hardened polycarbonate outer casing, with a built in screen protector (yeah, not sticky films to apply!).  It has silicone plugs and dust filters to cover and protect power ports, audio jacks, and speakers.  Very easy to use, it was able to quickly insert his device without complicated instructions or procedures.  

I love it, 3 layers of protection - kid tested, mom approved!  Plus - it looks cool too. :-)

Trident Case Review

I love their "Build your own Case" system.  You can choose from 81 different color combinations to make your device have a custom look for you.

Some of what he liked best about this superior case:

  • Easy to use
  • The screen cover and protective edges do NOT block any of the screen, he does not need to take it out of the case to use certain features or ports
  • Sound is great
  • Looks and feels "cool" - fun design
  • Keeps his IPad safe - even when he lets younger siblings use it!

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Micro Business for Teens : A TOS Crew Review

Micro Business for Teens Review

Micro Business for Teens

Micro Business for Teens ReviewMicro Business for Teens Review
Micro Business for Teens Review

Starting a Micro Business - $4.95 (ebook) $9.95 (print) 
Running a Micro Business - $4.95 (ebook) $9.95 (print) &
Micro Business for Teens Workbook - $9.95 (ebook), $14.95 (print)

 Ever tell your teen to "go get a job!"....?   I have.  But, that's not as simple as it may sound. Micro Business for Teens written by Carol Topp, CPA, will show your teen how to start their own job step-by-step.

Three books: Starting a Micro Business , Running a Micro Business & Micro Business for Teens Workbook make up an excellent teaching series ideal for ages 10-18, however - anyone with a small business would benefit from this information.

The Bentz Test Laboratory has a budding business man, my oldest son.  At 16 years old, he's hungry for money - but, has limited resources (aka - no transportation!)  I advised him to take stock of what talents, abilities and interests he has - and use it to his monetary advantage.  So began his very own "violin studio".  When Carol Topp's  Micro Business for Teens became available to us - I knew it was just what he needed!

Starting a Micro Business - 7 chapters covering the basics from the bottom up:
  • What is a Micro Business
  • Getting an Idea: Micro Business Ideas Best for Teenagers
  • Problems and Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
  • Plan It First: Writing a Business Plan
  • Financing Your Business Without Breaking the Bank
  • Taking Care of Business: Extra Information to Get Started
  • Encouragement: Final Words to Motivate You
Running a Micro Business 9 chapters covering the nuts and bolts of running a business 
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Record Keeping
  • Bookkeeping Basics
  • Using Software
  • Legal Names and Numbers
  • Reducing Risk
  • Time Management
Micro Business for Teens Workbook - The 14 chapter workbook that ties everything together and offers a chance to put into practice what they are learning.  Designed to be covered one chapter a week for a 14 weeks, could easily be used individually or in a group setting (a free teacher guide is available as well as group prices for the resources.). The goal is to learn and earn!

This is a very practical, straightforward look at starting and running a micro business.  What is a "micro business"? It's a small business - usually just one person, often home based, low risk, low or no start up costs,  perfect for a motivated teenager.

My tester found these books informative and useful, but not overwhelming.  Since he had already jumped into his own business - the guidance in Starting a Micro Business on how to write a business plan, create a marketing strategy and making it manageable were invaluable.

In Running a Micro Business, he learned the ins and outs of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service.  Record keeping, bookeeping, and time managment skills are all covered in the same easy to understand manner.  We both enjoyed the motivational quotes throughout this book.  

This series is specifically to the teenager, with realistic ideas and suggestions, it's a real-life approach with examples that many teens can succeed at. It's like getting CPA guidance for under $20 - a great value! Plenty of free resources, articles and more are on Carol's blog as well, you'll want to check them out.

The Micro Business for Teens Workbook is where you can take what you have learned and begin application.  Plenty of useful organizers, charts, and worksheets are included to walk you through the process step-by-step. 

I feel like this would be an excellent study course for teens, and anyone wanting to start their own business. It's practical, and very affordable.  I highly recommend it!

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum by Golden Prairie Press: A TOS Crew Review

Golden Prairie Press Review
Golden Prairie Press Review

Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum  by Golden Prairie Press

This 30 week American History curriculum is ideal for grades 1-6, but can be used with older ages.  Two levels are included - one for the younger ages with larger font, and one with more advanced information for the older children.  The Digital Version, which we previewed, includes the following downloadable files: 
  • Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1: 1000-1837
  • Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 2: 1837-Present
  • Historical Skits
  • Sing Some History
  • Listen to US History
Cost:  $98.99  (print version available too)

Bentz Test Academy loves hands-on history - according to Amy Puetz from Golden Prairie Press - "To really understand what life was like years ago, history must go beyond words on a page. Recipes must be cooked, games must be played, historical art must be examined, and crafts must be done."  We couldn't agree more!

Heroes & Heroines of the Past brings American History to life!  Part 1 is 15 Sections covering Columbus to Andrew Jackson.  Part 2 is also 15 Sections beginning with the Van Buren, Harrison & Tyler Presidents and continues to our current President's term.  These are HUGE PDF files. I was very impressed with it, so I went ahead and had it printed and spiral bound, I like being able to page through a book, rather than scroll :-).  You could also use this on your eReader as well.

 This is a very rich curriculum, but easy to open and jump in.  Teacher daily lesson plans, coordinating which pages and files are to be used together on what days, as well as highlighting items that the teacher needs to prepare before class time. 

 Five Lessons are are included with each Section.  History Reading, questions, timelines, writing topics, geography, historical art, skits, songs, history listening, memory verses and  plenty of hands on activities are included in the daily lessons.  Literature suggestions for 5-6th graders included as well (but sold seperately).   You can easily adapt this curriculum to fit your child, include multiple ages and grades too.  I think it would be a perfect curriculum for Co-op classes,  we may have to start our own this year.

This is exactly how we like to do history - by experiencing it.  Recipes, games and crafts create a permanent impression on my children.  We never forget what we eat, play or create!

One of our favorite parts of this program was that it focused on the men and women that influenced America.  But, not just the "commonly" recognized characters - Amy Puetz has introduced us to new characters too.  All from a Christian perspective.

The 19 Historical Skits need only 2-3 performers.  My testers loved acting out a skit, rather than just memorizing dates.  They will remember the interactions between the historical characters so much better when they get to "become" the character!  Check out a list of all the skits and a sample of the Christopher Columbus skit.  

The Sing Some History - 
recordings of twenty songs mentioned in the book (Listen to a sample.), and Listen to US History- 20 original speeches, poems, sermons, and documents that are mentioned in the book (Listen to a sample.).  These are a great way to take some learning on the go, let the voices from history bring it to life as you listen in the car!

Additional Materials file -This file has supplemental materials. There are printable timelines, instructions and entertaining videos, color artwork, coloring pages, and much more.

Literature Books (optional and sold separately)
There are also literature books that will be read by 5th and 6th graders, they may also be used as read alouds for younger students. Instructions are included in the text about when the books need to be read.
  • Ten Great Adventurers by Kate Dickinson Sweetser, edited by Amy Puetz
  • Ten Girls from History by Kate Dickinson Sweetser, edited by Amy Puetz
  • Heroines of the Past: Bible Study by Amy Puetz
  • Two Little Americans in Spanish California by Frances Margaret Fox
  • Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott
Optional Book
This book has a coloring page that goes along with each daily lesson. Great for younger children or those who like to have something to do while listening to the lesson. There are also lines on each page to be used for notebooking. View a sample.

Golden Prairie Press Review

If you're ready to experience American History, not just read about it and fill-in-the-blanks, you'll be very impressed with this curriculum.  I was!

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