Thursday, October 30, 2014

By Right of Conquest from Jim Hodges Productions: A TOS Crew Review

Jim Hodges Productions Review

By Right of Conquest from Jim Hodges Productions 

MP3 CD - $25  (audio download $18) -   13 hours, 13 minutes

Free MP3 Download of Chapter 19
Listen to Jim's comments on this book! 

Recommended for ages 10 and up.

The following selections were reviewed by the Crew:
The Bentz Test Laboratory has long been fans of GA Henty. These classic historical novels have been produced on an MP3 file format CD by master story teller Jim Hodges. They come either in a MP3 CD or as a digital download. These are computer CD's. The audio files will play on your computer CD drive, a DVD player (even the portable ones you take in the car with you), a laptop computer CD drive, or on an MP3 compatible CD player,  They will not play on a standard CD player.

Funny story... we actually have a Veggie Tales CD stuck in our van's CD player, so in order to listen to our By Right of Conquest from Jim Hodges Productions I picked up an inexpensive CD player that would play our new CD.  We excitedly gathered around to settle in to listen, when all of a sudden - the CD player started smoking!  Yikes!!  We knew this would be an andventure filled tale... just not this way :-)

After a quick exchange, we were back in action. Like I mentioned, we have been fans of GA Henty for quite a long time.  His stories are action packed, filled with adventure and able to ignite the imagination of everyone in our home.  In addition, these stories are faith filled, framed in a solid Christian worldview, and encourage one to think deeply.  Sharing  The Cat of Bubastes together many years ago, we knew we would LOVE this story too!

By Right of Conquest, set in early-sixteenth century England and Mexico,  tells the swashbuckling tale of Roger Hackshaw, a ship-wrecked Englishman who accompanies Hernando Cortes on his conquest of the Aztecs in Central America.   Recommended for ages 10 and up, however - my entire family listened to and enjoyed it.   Ages 5 and up... Younger students can follow along in the book as they listen. They are a great way to learn pronunciation, inflection, vocabulary, and a love for reading.

These stories will forever change your family... listening to them together builds a bond of shared experience that really lasts.  Not only will history come alive, you and your children will be inspired. The hero must show the strength of his character to survive the obstacles he encounters in this wild, new world.  After being worshipped, and hated - how will he choose to live?    When Cortes arrives, how will he prove his loyalty, and to whom?  Great thought provoking questions!  

We were also blessed to receive the PDF Study Guide - $12 for this book as well.  The 63 page Study Guide was an absolute gem.  Filled with vocabulary, comprehension questions, activities, and plenty of valuable internet links - this guide is a treasure.  Using the Guide, we were able to take the adventure on a new learning path as well.  Don't miss out on adding these Guides to your listening adventures - just the vocabulary exercises will pay off!  Answers are included, so you could use this Guide effectively, even if you didn't get to listen to it.  Perfect for High school students that are working independently. 

I was excited to find a Scope and Sequence on the website -   You can use this to add these amazing stories into your current history studies!

“My sincerest prayer is that all young men who read or listen to Henty historical novels will desire to become Mighty Men of Valor.” ~ Jim Hodges

Find Jim Hodges Productions on Facebook too. 

See what other members of the Crew thought here
Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Clued in Kids: A TOS Crew Review

Clued In KidsReview

Clued in Kids 

Do you wish you could be one of "those fun moms"?  You know, the kind that makes learning more fun and memorable?  The kind of mom that makes learning seem like playtime?  

I know that's how I "want" to be...but, that type of mom needs more time on her hands than I have!  I have discovered a gem to share with you... Clued in Kids. Their motto is  - “Treasure The Journey.”   They have designed a series of treasure hunts that will get your kids moving, learning and having fun!  The author's have an amazing testimony of their own journey - you will want to check it out here. 

The Bentz Test Laboratory was sent 2 of their PDF Treasure Hunts:

Clued In KidsReviewThe perfect treasure hunt for any budding David Beckhams or Mia Hams, this 12 clue hunt contains soccer themed puzzles and activities, and can be played by one child or as many as 10. Great for ages 4 and up.

Clued In KidsReview
Five printable, 12 clue teaching treasure hunts that will motivate your 7-9 year old to learn their times-tables!  Hunts contain puzzles, riddles and fun activities that teach multiplication while leading your child on an adventure around your home.  Each takes only 8 minutes to set up and provides an hour of fun for 1-10 kids.

My testers were a variety of ages - starting as young as 5.  But, my teenagers got in on the fun too, being in charge of hiding the clues.  It's the perfect way to involve everyone - either in the hiding or in the hunting...

The first step is to print the PDF file containing your clues....  they print full color, and 2 to a page, you cut them yourself.  A nice bonus - you can print these as many times as you want.  Putting multiple hunts together is a breeze - just put the name of the kid on each clue, and you can even have a race!  

Next, use the handy 8 minute setup instructions to hide your clues.  The final page is the secret to mom's success... the ANSWER KEY.  It lists where each clue has been hid, and where to hide the final treasure.  The suggested hiding places are common to most homes,  if you don't have this particular place, either take out that clue, or create a new spot of your own.  (just don't forget to amend your answer key.)  You decide  what the treasure should be - it could be money, stickers, treats, a new car  (just kidding! I'd love to be on that treasure hunt..) 

 The point is in the "hunt" not as much about the treasure.  Wow - just thought of what a great life lesson that could be!  The hunts take about 20 minutes to complete - but, leaving a lasting memory.  

My super star soccer player loved this Soccer Treasure Hunt. His clues practiced many of the concepts he's been learning - like time and money.  But, it was also filled with activities like dribbling the soccer ball... and I even let him do it in the HOUSE!  Whoo, hoo - I'm becoming one of "those fun moms" :-) 

Multiplication Dragons  was even more fun.  For this treasure hunt, you get 5 PDF files, one for each of the multiplication fact families 2x-6x.  I was able to print out a different hunt for each child and have several children all on the same hunt!   

My testers would much rather review math on a hunt any day, how about yours?  I really liked the variety of activities - search and finds, word puzzles, math puzzles.  designing a shield, reading a poem.  So much more that plain old math...

These are a super affordable way to bring some fun into your day.  Best of all, the hard work of planning has all been done for you.  You can just print and go play with your kids as you "Treasure the Journey"!

They offer many different themes:  Holiday/Seasonal, Nutrition-Themed (for Allergies, ADHD, etc.), Educational Related, Sports and Clue Pad Products - with different themes as well. 

These would be great for birthday parties and sleepovers too - be sure to check this one out!
Clued In Kids on Social Media

Twitter: @cluedinkids

See what other members of the Crew thought here
Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pilgrim Lunch

We continue our "eating through history" - with a pilgrim style lunch.  An no- we did not have Thanksgiving...just a daily pilgrim meal. 

Hardtack, anyone?  We actually liked it... simple - water, flour and salt

Honey and apples - very yummy

Our recipes are coming from this awesome series of books...  up next, the Colonies!

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Nation Adrift from New Liberty Videos

New Liberty Videos Review

New Liberty Videos Review
A Nation Adrift from New Liberty Videos

93 minutes - DVD

The Bentz Test Laboratory is diving deep into American History together this year.  When the opportunity for A Nation Adrift from New Liberty Videos became available, we were excited to be included.  After all, who doesn't love a good history documentary!  It is described: "From Christopher Columbus to the founding of America, God has guided the founders of our country. This DVD explores where we began and where we are today as a nation."

This 93 min. DVD is a timeline of America's history.  In fact, it goes all the way back to Jerusalem.  As the narrator highlights important people and events, visual clips of videos, paintings and illustrations are shown on screen. The narrator uses voices, inflections, and light music as a background.  Overall, it is not fast paced, or action packed.  But, you will get the opportunity to see glimpses of America's finest moments.   

It's not the type of documentary that jumps up and grabs your attention... at first.  I hate to admit it - but several of my testers and I nodded off a couple of times in the early portions.  It could be that much of the early information was part of what we had been studying and was a repetition for us.   I need to warn you - this is NOT a documentary that you should gather ALL your children around to watch with you!

As we got into the Revolutionary War - terms like "sodomy" started being introduced.  In fact, when one of my younger testers woke me up to ask what that word meant, and why that soldier was "drummed out of camp",  I decided I better watch the rest of this with only my older children only.

I don't want to leave the impression that we did not enjoy this DVD.  Far from that, for the appropriate age audiences, this is a very well-done look at where America started from and how far we have drifted away from the founder's original design.  In fact,  I think that this should be included in most HIGH SCHOOL American History courses.

By the end of the overview, you can't help but mourn how far from God's plan our society has drifted.  You will be disturbed by this DVD - late term abortion is explained in detail, homosexual affection (men kissing each other) is displayed on screen,  Supreme court justices with anti-christian beliefs are quoted,  ACLU beliefs are outlined - including support of satanists,  prostitution, and 12 year old consensual sex age reductions.  The sorry picture of American society today is painted in detail. 

Thankfully, the producer doesn't leave us there... Encouraging words are spoken to the audience. We are encouraged to stand up and accept the personal responsibility to exercise the voice our Founding Fathers granted us. America is not without hope! God is still sovereign, and America can find her way back to her beginnings. Our next generation still has a voice and the power to be heard.

My 6th grade tester was completely disturbed,  my high school testers were discouraged, and all of us were left speechless (momentarily...if you know us, it must have been a moving message!)  After a great discussion, we agreed that this DVD left us with a challenge. 

Overall,  I found the DVD a bit slow at times, but was inspired by it's message.  Make sure you preview this one first to make sure it's right for your family.

Other titles reviewed: Anthem for a NationThe Forbidden BookMysteries of the Dead Sea ScrollsTeaching Origins ObjectivelyWarriors of Honor.

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Is this your life?

This screen shot stopped me dead in my tracks...  this could be a description of our life.  We don't need more crowded, we don't need more crazy.   Thank you God for constant reminders :-)

Don't let it be...  clean out the crazy God!

Middlebury Interactive Languages - Chinese Courses: A TOS Crew Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Ni Hao from Middlebury Interactive Languages - Chinese Courses - $119 per semester (w/out teacher) - $175 (w/teacher)

This immersive approach will captivate your children, and have them excited to learn a new language, in the most user friendly, and effective manner.  Designed by linguistic experts, Middlebury has been training the mastery and fluency of world languages with a proven approach, helping educators, diplomats and many more to make deep connections with other cultures through languages from around the world.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review
This program offers full semester courses for grades K-12.

All levels are self-paced, so the student can speed ahead or slow down as needed.

The Bentz Test Laboratory was excited to get a chance to check out the middle  school Chinese Courses by Middlebury Interactive Languages.  My tester is my 6th grade daughter, who wants to one day be a missionary to China.   She's been begging to learn Chinese - so this was a golden opportunity!  

Middlebury Interactive Languages ReviewMiddle School Chinese 1 is an interactive online program for grades 6-8 that targets four key language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Students are introduced to vocabulary themes, grammar concepts, sentence structure plus culture through detailed online instruction, guided learning and progress at their own pace.  This program has a total of 90 lessons per semester, with the recommendation that students complete a lesson per day for 18 weeks.  Introduction to Chinese-speaking countries, as well as history, food, and literature, heightens cultural awareness and appreciation of the Chinese-speaking world. Both Chinese characters and pinyin are presented together throughout the course.

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

It's easy to get started, and best of all -  mom doesn't need to know Chinese!

It's easy to log-on to the online program where my tester could see a calendar of lessons and begin learning.  This is an immersive approach, much like how you learned to speak your native language.  Words are introduced with colorful pictures and real-life scenarios to make it very engaging.  A variety of activities accompany each lesson.  She was able to complete a lesson in under 15 minutes, so - you could do more than one lesson a day if you wanted to.

My tester was able to print vocabulary sheets that contained the Chinese characters, pronunciation and English translation.  These were helpful to have handy as she worked through the online lesson.

Many times, I joined her - just to watch how she was doing.  I must say, I was impressed by how much Chinese I was beginning to recognize!

Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

The program automatically scores activities and  keeps track of your progress, so - you can return right where you left off. Chinese is a very difficult language to learn, so even just the exposure to it and the Chinese culture was well worth the investment in the program.  My tester found that she needed to listen, and relisten to certain phrases or words - this was easy to do in the self-paced format.

Middlebury offers 4 language courses :Spanish CoursesFrench Courses,  German Courses & Chinese Courses.  They're a great way to expose your children to the world - without leaving home!

Find Middlebury Interactive Languages on Social Media:

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, October 20, 2014

Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from Standard Deviants Accelerate: A TOS Crew Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate Review
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from  Standard Deviants Accelerate

Standard Deviants Accelerate ReviewOnline courses available in:
Arithmetic - Grades 3+
Fundamental Math - Grades 4+
Earth Science - Grades 6+
Nutrition - Grades 6+
Algebra - Grades 7+
Biology - Grades 7+
Chemistry - Grades 9+
English Comp. - Grades 9+
U.S. History - Grades 9+
AP Biology - Grades 11+
AP Chemistry - Grades 11+
AP U.S. Government & Politics - Grades 11+
AP U.S. History - Grades 11+
AP Eng. Composition - Grades 11+

Ages 8 through adult 

$99 for a year, or $24.95 per month (one student).  
AP test prep courses are available for one student for $14.95 per month

I've got two questions for you - 
1. Do you have any middle or high school students? 
2. Do you have plenty of extra time lying around to search out great supplements and high interest learning tools to keep them motivated and eager to learn? 

 If you answered "yes" to my first question, and "no" to my second - you may want to check out Standard Deviants Accelerate Homeschool Courses from  Standard Deviants Accelerate

These are 14 unique, online, supplemental courses in math, science, history, composition and even AP test prep.   designed to capture their interest and keep them excited to learn! 

 I just love this quote about their approach: "It’s simple:  Teach, Test, Re-teach, Laugh, Rinse and Repeat. It’s a teaching system that emphasizes both breadth and depth of knowledge, instructing students on a thorough range of topics while continuing to engage them in higher levels of thinking."

The tester from the Bentz Test Laboratory is a 9th grade high school genius (just a bit of bragging...sorry!)  It's relatively easy to set up an online learning classroom.  Once you have done this, your child needs their own  email to complete this step, you can easily add the courses they are interested in.

For our review, my tester used the Algebra and Biology courses, since he is already studying these subjects.  Standard Deviants is not intended to be full curriculum, but it makes a great supplement!  Since it's online and self-paced, my tester could pick and choose what topics he wanted or needed to spend more time on. A general course outline makes it easy to see what topics are available.  

In addition to short 3-15 minute instruction videos, the program offers review activities, quizzes, writing assignments, and tests.  

My tester is a tad too serious (keepin' it real) and he found the videos a bit goofy.  I'm sure many kids this age would LOVE them - I thought they were hilarious and CLEVER!  

One of the best features of the program, in my opinion, is the use of humor and plenty of silly characters to help teach the concepts and make them stick.  I wish someone had taught me RAINBOW math during algebra ;-)   I love adding some zany humor now and then, just to keep us laughing! 

My tester enjoyed the humor, in spite of himself, and really liked getting to pick and choose what suited his needs.  This is a fun program, but - there is plenty of serious learning going on as well.  

We took a peek at almost all of the 14 available courses.  I thought each was well done, and plan to go back and integrate Standard Deviants into more of my student's assignments.  One note of caution - Standard Deviants is not produced or taught from a Christian worldview - your students will hear evolution and big bang theory... but, you can also choose to skip those parts easily.

You can choose to print off hard copies, or work online - or both.  My tester really liked the flexibility of this program.  I was impressed by the depth of information.  

The grading for most of the student's work is done online.  ALL of the prep work is done for you - you don't have to spend hours looking for high interest teaching tools!  Standard Deviants makes it easy on you as the teacher.  Check out this video to learn more about how the Teacher Account works: 

This is an effective tool, especially for your visual or auditory learners.  It's engaging and easy to use.  I would recommend taking a peek at it yourself!

Find   Standard Deviants Accelerate on Social Media:
Sign up for a free 6-month trial!
Standard Deviants Accelerate Review

See what other members of the TOS Crew thought here

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Serve with Them!

Serve with your children!  Give them a vision for something bigger than themselves,  I promise - it will change them and you... and the WORLD!

We took our 8 kiddos to a mobile pack event for Feed my Starving Children.  We were privileged to be part of the teams that packed over 4 million meals in just a few days.  GO TEXAS!

 Our family personally packed around 500 meals, while rocking some cool hairnets. Bonus, you get to keep the hairnet :-)

Just a few hours of our time... and we made a difference.  You can too!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Apologia Educational Ministries : A TOS Crew Review

Apologia Review

iWitness Biblical Archaeology - $14 ,  New Testament iWitness- $14 & Old Testament iWitness - $14   from Apologia Educational Ministries

Apologia ReviewApologia Review

The iWitness series 
from Apologia Educational Ministries, recommended for ages 11 up a series that presents Biblical information in a fun, fresh way.   Each book is designed to look like a stack of documents.   Your student gets to investigate them and explore for answers on their own.

Instead of being a dusty textbook approach, your student gets challenged to look for answers on their own.  These books tackle many of the most common questions they may get challenged on as Christians, or even have themselves.  By getting them involved in looking for the answers, you get them to really own the information.  These books just beg to be explored!

The interview with the author - Doug Powell,  is an excellent place to find out more about his unique perspective and approach.

The Bentz Test Laboratory tester is my newly turned 15 (gulp) high school son.  My tester is fascinated with archaeology, so iWitness Biblical Archaeology immediately captured his attention.

The book is jam packed with information! Investigations of artifacts from the Flood to Jesus' Burial Shroud entralled him. Each section has a number of tidbits of information, plenty of pictures, and lots of evidence to explore. We both love how examining the evidence leads us closer to God. History is his story revealed to us, and this book does a great job of creating a desire to know even more.

New Testament iWitness takes you on a exploration of the Early church leaders, like Athansius and Eusebius, what criteria was used to create the canon of Scripture, the Church Fathers, the copying of Scripture, texual criticisms, information about recovered texts. 

This was a fascinating look at the Bible and how we got it. Since we had just studied this time period last year in history, it was even more appealing to my tester. I highly recommend this for all history students!

Old Testament iWitness tackles some important questions like - Who wrote the books of the Bible and where did they come from? How can we know the Old Testament is historically accurate?

The Tanakh, Canon, Septuagint, Torah, Nevim, Ketuvim, Apocrypha, & Vulgate are all explained and investigated.

Information about the prophets, Dead Sea Scrolls and Intertestimental Periods are introduced as well. Ever wonder why some books were included, and some not?  This books does a great job showing how carefully Scripture has traveled down time to us.  My tester and I,  enjoyed learning about this rich history of the Old Testament.

The books in the series are very nicely done with solid information and lots of visual interest. The combination of photographs, sidebars, and artwork create an invitation to study them.  My tester's only criticism was that the fonts used sometimes made the text hard to read (he's kinda picky that way...) many of the fonts are designed to look "handwritten".  In my opinion - it just added charm to the book.   These are great additions to your Bible study, and to your history studies.  In fact, these are they type of books you don't want to miss!

I personally love how Apologia keeps bringing us great tools to teach our children with - thank you for another homerun.  Our Bible study time has come alive with this new series.  We can't wait two new volumes in the series to be released in 2015. (Resurrection and Jesus iWitness books)

Find  Apologia Educational Ministries on Social Media:

Facebook –
Twitter –
Google+ -
Pinterest –

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer