Thursday, April 30, 2015

Preschool Curriculum from La La Logic: A TOS Crew Review

La La Logic Review
Preschool Curriculum by La La Logic

This is an online program for children ages 3-6.  It includes 100 weekly schedules of activities.  Each weekly schedule contains both online activities to "train the brain"as well as,  printable worksheets containing coloring, cutting, and gluing, PLUS two extension activities for parents and children to do together. 

This program is more than just another way to keep your "littles" occupied while you are doing "school".  Preschool Curriculum by La La Logic is based on the latest "brain plasticity research" - scientific research based on IQ tests.  This program is actually helping to develop the important skills that your young child is going to need as they move forward in learning.

Online Activities:  As your child works through the weekly lessons - the activities are building blocks that gradually get more difficult. The activities vary - matching, counting, patterns, puzzles, visual perception and many more.  All of the them are bright and visually engaging.  The program is very well produced, and works on your computer or mobile device.
La La Logic Review

You can let your child complete one activity at a time - they are designed to take about 5-10 minutes each.  One week contains 5 different activities (both on and offline).  Or, you can choose "Continuous Brain Challenge Mode", which will allow them to play for as long as you let them (they have 500 challenges)  This may be a great choice for taking on the go with you, and for those long summer car trips!  This is what my testers spent the most time with, and what they liked most about the program.  They were able to work independently through the challenges.

La La Logic Review

Printable Worksheets - not your ordinary kind either!  These are designed to reinforce the online skills, and keep your little hands busy coloring, cutting & pasting.

 Each of the online brain challenges and printable worksheets focus on a different area of intelligence and include three multisensory components:
  • The Brain Challenge - online
  • The Worksheet - download and complte offline
  •  Enrichment Set  - offline with parents
The Enrichment activities are fun family type activities. You can do them with things you already have around your house. They are things like scavenger hunts, dramatic play, puzzles, nature study's, word games. These activities are designed to take about 10-30 minutes.  These are great suggestions to use as part of your schoolwork as well.

The testers at Bentz Academy loved this program!  They are on the "older" side of the suggested age range, ages 5 & 7.  However, they begged to get to do this daily.  I think adding worksheets and enrichment activities expands the age range for this into the early elementary grades.

We frequently use "computer time" as a reward, and La La Logic was the perfect way to allow them both computer time AND learning time. 

At just $29 for a Lifetime Membership (for up to 5 children) it is a bargain!  You can get a free trial and they offer a 30 day money back guarantee.

Find La La Logic  on Facebook
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La La Logic Review
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

No Fear Biology!

Have you ever heard you "can't" teach high school sciences at home?  Well, don't listen to them... it's more fun at home!

Dissections for example...  with a couple of specimens and tools - you're ready to go.  Plus, you don't have to share with lab partners, you get them all to yourself!  No scalpel happy friends dicing it up before you're ready.

YouTube has plenty of excellent videos to guide you step by step through the process.  And, you can pause when you want to.
Of course, my favorite part of HS science class was goofing off... and you can do that better at home too!  However, hiding crayfish parts in siblings beds is "off limits" :-)

Home Science Tools sells great, affordable kits - you can dissect just about anything - we did a worm, fish, frog and crayfish.  We got to see all the amazing internal structures, took our time exploring and cleaned it up fast. 

I haven't had this much fun...ever!  No more fear!!

Modern Milestones from Spelling You See : A TOS Crew Review

Spelling You See Review
Spelling You See Review
Spelling You See ReviewSpelling You See Review
Spel...Sepll...Speling...SPELLING!  How many attempts does a homeschool teacher have to take at getting this correct?  I'm at the end of my rope...

If you can relate, Bentz Test Laboratory has a lifeline for you - Spelling You See from Demme Learning (makers of Math U See) -  will blow a brand new breath-of-fresh air on spelling instruction!

Many popular programs approach spelling with long lists of rules, or longer lists of words to memorize followed by a dreaded weekly spelling test.  Not Spelling You See - This program is a one-of-a-kind, innovative and effective way to teach spelling IN CONTEXT.  Plus - it's fun for your student, really.

By placing your child in a level that matches their language development (no grade levels here) your child will start learning spelling in a natural way, that appeals to many learning styles.  The Bentz Test Laboratory tester was placed in the Modern Milestones (Level G).  This is one of 2 newly designed levels.  Levels are available for all stages in language development - you can check out a more detailed description of their Five Developmental Stages of Spelling as well as download some Readiness Guides to find the proper place for your student.

Modern Milestones is designed for students in the Word Extension stage of spelling.  My tester was working with base words, suffixes & prefixes, nouns & plurals, Past tense, doubling final consonants , and the one-on-one rule during this review period.  It goes on to work with word endings like -ous, -ation, -ion, science words and more with base words. 

The Modern Milestones set includes: Instructor Guide, two Student Workbooks plus erasable colored pencils for marking.  36 Lessons feature passages used for copywork, dictation, and exercises that focus on interesting people like artists (Jan van Eyck, Botticelli) inventors (Gutenberg, Da Vinci), composers (Amati, Bach) , scientists (Bacon, Kepler), authors (Shakespeare, Crevantes) and many other fascinating characters who have influenced the world in modern time periods.  It's a great companion to history studies too!


Designed to be completed in 5 short daily lessons, it is a full year of instruction.

My student, who is in 6th grade, was able to work completely independently, except for the weekly dictation from me.  I must admit that teacher-intensive spelling programs are the death of spelling around here...who has time for that? Not me!

By using repetition and exposure to the written passage - this program makes spelling make sense. Spelling is developed in context, and much more naturally than memorizing rules and lists. The student carefully reads and marks the passage -called "chunking", copies the passage (great for your handwriting practice as well) and uses it in other activities (like fill-in-the-blank).  Finally, they complete a dictation exercise to show what has been learned.

 No weekly tests!  My tester loved that instead of  "# of errors", she was marked " # of words spelled correctly" -  I love that this new level included a word count for me in the Instructor Guide as well. 

This particular tester is truly a terrible speller.  After many attempts with rules based programs, I had just about given up...determined she may just be "one of those people who can't spell".  Spelling You See has really changed my mind!  I am seeing HUGE leaps of improvement in her spelling AND in her writing skills.  Spelling is a dreaded subject anymore.  One of the easiest to use and most effective programs ever, it get two thumbs up!!

If you have had it with spelling, Please give Spelling You See a try...

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Some other Crew Members reviewed - Ancient Achievements (level F).

See what other members of the Crew thought here
Spelling You See Review
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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Early Elementary K-3, Book 3: Modern Painting and Sculpture from ARTistic Pursuits : A TOS Crew Review

ARTistic Pursuits Review
Art.  Can you hear the hyperventilating of homeschool moms everywhere?  This subject strikes fear and trembling into some of us... the idea of brushes, paper, and **gasping** PAINT can make the most devoted homeschool teacher cower in the corner!

Okay,  maybe I'm being a tad overdramatic...but, ART is a subject that frequently makes me sweat.  How am I going to teach something that I am so "personally challenged" in?

Thankfully, ARTistic Pursuits is here to rescue us.  They produce full art curriculum for grades K-12 (start breathing again...)  I am a LONG time fan of this company and have used many of their books over the years with the testers at Bentz Test Laboratory.  They make it so easy to teach quality art, that even those of us in corner can come out and play :-)

Our newest art adventure is from Early Elementary K-3, Book 3: Modern Painting and Sculpture.  This book covers 36 projects which will introduce the artists, styles and mediums from Impressionist to Modern Eras.  Different mediums are practiced, including painting and sculpture .  These books are thoughtfully designed to teach your child to observe, think critically, and create. 

The lessons are clearly outlined with necessary materials & pictures to guide you through the process.  One of my favorite parts of this curriculum is the information about the artist's time and perspective.  Questions to help you guide your student into observing critically are included as well. My testers are much more likely to look at art in a deeper way after working in these books. 

This books covers greats like Monet, Renoir, Cassat, Seurat, Van Gogh.  After spending time with the Impressionists - they move on to more modern art movements like Cubism, Assemblage, Abstract, Realism and even Computer Art.

They recommend scheduling one lesson a week, and completing the full book over the course of one year. Throughout the book you will find children's book and video suggestions to add to your art studies.

I have found that just leaving this book in an available location can result in children getting interested in creating art on their own!

Here's a couple of projects we worked on... rather than opening and beginning with Lesson 1, I decided to let them pick a few projects that caught their fancy to start with.

First - we read some information and history on the artist.  Then,  I took a deep breath - and gave them paints...

It wasn't even that scary, and the book inspired me to "go off plan" and have them create a color wheel in the "points" style too!  Hey,  maybe this art thing's not that bad after all... plus, we're having fun!

Watch out Seraut, there's some new kids in town!

 That went so well, we decided to try a new technique - Assemblage.   With step-by-step instructions and some creativity - we were creating our own 3-D art.  I love that many of the materials are common household "odds and ends" and not only expensive art supplies.  You can buy supplies directly from Artistic Pursuits as well. 



Giraffes, dinosaurs and A TEXAS Long-horn... of course!

 Remember, I said if you left this book out...  My middle schooler found it and decided to create on her own project, completely independently. 


You don't need to be afraid of teaching art any longer.  If we can do it (with the help of ARTistic Pursuits) you can too! We're all proud of what we created, and I even had fun :-)
Other great books from ARTistic Pursuits you may want to check out:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Orphs of the Woodlands by Star Toaster: A TOS Crew Review

Star Toaster Review
 Orphs of the Woodlands from Star Toaster is an online book, designed for kids in Grade 4 and above, which offers you much more than reading and phonics. It is “an educational journey that combines a reading adventure, an academic treasure, and a rewarding game”.

In this extremely well done program - you student gets to enter into an adventure to save the "Orphs of the Woodlands" - aka - orphaned creatures.  While on this reading adventure, they also complete activities in a variety of subjects like: math, science, vocabulary, Latin, Arts, famous quotes, music, and even cooking & recipe ideas.  This program is completely filled with learning activities, and character lessons - but, they make it all look like pure fun!

The Bentz Test Laboratory was a bit skeptical when I told them I had another "online reading program" for them to test.  But, one peek at Orphs of the Woodlands - and they were hooked.  They keep begging for more time!   The graphics are amazing, the storyline keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the activities woven seamlessly throughout don't even feel like "learning"!

In this story- The Treasure of Hightower , each of my testers completed their own "application" to become a spy and defender to the Orphs (helpless woodland orphan creatures - that will not survive without YOU!).  Each of my testers designed and named their main character - including character traits they posses..  My testers LOVED that while each of them were doing this program (up to three children) and they each had individual characters!

Over the course of 15 chapters, which your child reads independently (ideal for grades 4-7), they are taken on an adventure. Once the story has drawn them in, they get to complete activities which earn them "gold stars".  These are the currency of the Woodlands, and can be used to purchase the supplies the Orphs need to survive and thrive. 

The reader is instantly drawn into the story as a vital, providing character. My testers loved that the program remembers where you left off, and returns you to the exact spot next time you get some computer privileges from mom. (Take if from me, Mom - you will want to grant these with this program!)

Star Toaster Review
My testers appreciated that this program was teaching higher level concepts...not just the beginner level.  The vocabulary alone makes it worth getting!  Being the rescuer of the Orphs was a HUGE incentive to them as well.  Great character lessons are woven throughout the adventure.

Easy-to-create parent accounts allow you to keep track of your students progress.  Progress emails are also used to update you on what your child is working on.  This is a beautifully done program - the graphics, the design, and the story are some of the best I've encountered!

With summer break right around the corner, this is the perfect way to keep them learning - but, shhh - don't tell them... They will think this is for fun ;-) 

Go ahead and check out their FREE Trial of the first 100 pages of the book, plus more than 50 lessons.

One of our favorites by far - my testers keep begging for more!  Good news - the next edition is already in development, my testers are not-so-patiently waiting!!
Don't miss out on this one, it's a real keeper!
Star Toaster Review
See what other members of the Crew thought here
Star Toaster Review
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