Thursday, June 25, 2015

Drama Kings!

Two of my sons have taken to the stage... :-0

Actually, I couldn't be more proud of them!  They both performed in  "SeussOdyssey"  in the Texas Non-Profit Theater competition recently. It was a colorful, rhyming tale of the Odyssey.  They have been rehearsing all semester.

Luke was cast as Odysseus and Noah played several parts - Poseidon, Cyclops and a Suitor.  They were awesome!

Here are few pictures from the show:

Odysseus can't resist the sirens & that first Suitor is kinda cute!

Both of them in the same scene - Poseidon sends them on their way... 



I think that Luke may have enjoyed poking out his brother's eye...

They made new friends, boosted their confidence and had an awesome Director!  Thanks Ms. Naomi for all you do to encourage them!!

Tales from the Circle C Ranch from Circle C Adventures : A TOS Crew Review

Tales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk ReviewTales of the Circle C Ranch Bookk Review
The Bentz Test Laboratory could not wait to get their hands on this one!  My 12 year old tester disappeared immediately with Tales from the Circle C Ranch by Susan K. Marlow. 

This collection of 11 short stories is a perfect companion book to Andi’s  (the main character) adventures from the Circle C Beginnings (ages 6-9) and Circle C Adventures (ages 9-14)  to an older Andi in the Circle C Milestones (ages 12+).  The stories actually came from questions that readers had submitted to the author.  My tester has been a HUGE fan of Andi's since the beginning, so this was a great read for her.  But, you could read this as a stand alone book, even if you haven't read the others (but, you'll want me!)

This is great, wholesome, Christian fiction for your daughters.  My daughter is wild about horses - so, Andi's life is her dream.  I love that these books are teaching character values and history as well.  A California ranch in the 1800's is the setting, and there are quite a few things she has learned about this time period by reading these books. You can read a chapter for free here.
We also received the PDF download of Andrea Carter's Tales from the Circle C Ranch Learning Lapbook. We LOVE lapbooks, and this was the perfect companion to this book. Each short story featured a printable mini-book for the lapbook. My tester was excited to build her very own Andi Carter theme lapbook.  Some of the topics included in the lapbook are:

girls dress styles during the 1800's
the general store
history of photography
state fairs
history of fireworks
how to write a limerick
Lapbooks are easy to make, just a couple of file folders (yippee...finally, a use for my obsession with "pretty" folders), some glue and colored pencils. This is a really well done, color lapbook.  All the hard work is done for you, all you need to do is cut and assemble.  Information about each topic is included in the PDF, so they are learning too. 

  This is why I'm a huge fan of lapbooking, you get a hands-on, memorable way to reinforce the learning that they are proud to show off! (ever do that with a book report before?...nope.)

I think this is a great summer project, my tester really enjoyed the book - and loved the lapbook. Lots of learning, no grumbling!

 You can purchase the lapbook here for $7.00 (It is also available in print for $12 plus shipping and handling or you can buy a combination of the book and lapbook for $19 plus shipping and handling) You can find all of them here. You can also have your book personalized!

There is also a series of books for boys ages 8-12 from Susan K. Marlow to check out - Goldtown Adventures
See what other members of the Crew thought here
Dynamic Literacy Review
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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers from SmartKidz Media : A TOS Crew Review

SmartKidz Media Review
This is an amazing online, streaming resource filled with "unlimited access to over 1,000 educational videos, flash animated e-books, fine arts music, interactive study guides.”  SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers is designed to be used by children over the age of 13 independently, and with the supervision of parents for younger children.  SmartKidz Media can be used on any device — TV, PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Tablet, mobile phone, and Roku. With its cloud storage, SmartKidz Media can be streamed any where, at any time.  
Several categories you can choose from include:
  •  Animals & Wildlife Collections
  • Documentaries & Culture Collections
  • Health & Fitness
  • History Titles
  • Lifestyles & Cuisine
  • Science
  • Travel & Adventure: World Wide Discovery Collections
  • Cooking Instruction
  • Classical Music Collections
  • Cultural Music Collections
  • Cultural Music: Vol 2
  • Jazz and Blues Classics Collections
  • Relaxation Music Collections
  • Mighty E-Book Collection
  • Sign Language Collection
  • Special Needs Learning
  • Living Skills
  • Singing
  • Fun Zone

With summer break in full swing... have you heard the all too familiar "There's NOTHING to do" phrase?  Yep, I have too.  Living in South Texas heat can limit our outdoor adventures, leaving a long afternoon - that's when I hear it. 

SmartKidz Media Library for Homeschoolers to the rescue.  This nifty online streaming site provides HOURS of safe, educational entertainment.  I don't even feel guilty telling them to pick something and watch it.  Guilt free summer entertainment... um, I meant education!

The site is massive, but organized by categories, so it's easy to navigate. With no fear of pop ups or advertising or links to other sites, you can be assured your children are only viewing safe, family friendly material.

For Monthly Membership $10.00 or 1 Year Membership $99.00 - it's an affordable media choice for many families.  You can even check out a Free 14 day Free Trial .

All of the testers at Bentz Test Laboratory were able to find many areas that interested them.  From videos, Ebooks, music and games - this site has so much to offer!  Here are a few of our favorites:

 Animals - My testers really loved all the explorations into animals and wildlife. And it's a perfect compliment to summer science studies too.

Puzzles and games - I have to confess, I really liked this section too :-)

Study Guides - these are interactive fact files loaded with information.  From Shakespeare's English guides , Newton's Math Guides, Einstein's Science Guides and  Ben Franklin's Social Studies Guides - these are a handy tool for students.  More subjects are being added as well.  


 Documentary style films from exotic locations around the world were definitely one of our favorites!  It's like getting to travel without leaving home. 

Music - Classical, Jazz, Cultural and Relaxation.  This is perfect for having on in the background, or using in your music study. 

Animated E-Books - these are super duper fun.   While most of the site will work great on any device, this only work on Flash supported devices.  Many titles to pick from, for all ages.  Machu Picchu was one that we really enjoyed all together. 
I really liked many of the Special Needs Learners resources, having some struggling readers.   My younger readers found many of these entertaining too.  For example - the "I See and Spell" book for was very engaging while teaching spelling with a rhyme.   

History - WW2 videos were a hit with my older testers.  This site is full of really good stuff.  I love to supplement our studies with videos and ebooks.  SmartKidz has done all the hard work of finding the good content, and making sure that you don't "accidentially" end up with questionable content.  That's major peace of mind for this mom!

I've only given you a glimpse at what you can choose from.  This is one resource that we will be able to use in so many different ways.  I strongly encourage you to check this one out! 


SmartKidz Media Review
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Graduation "Survival Tips" Gift Idea

As promised... here is what we put together for our Graduation "Survival Tips" gift.  Our Candy Card post is here, if you want to check it out as well...

We took a large reusable grocery bag - the nice type, and filled it with our mini lunch bag "Survival Tips" :

The "Dorm Room Sleep Survival Tip" - Earplugs, Sleep mask and Mountain Dew - Use as needed

"Life's Minor Emergencies Survival Tip" - Shoe shine kit, First Aid Kit, Sewing Kit, and Manicure Set - Do you know how to use these?

"College Study Survival Tip" - Graduation Mad Libs, #2 Pencils, Cash Mini notebook, Silly String - Always have a pencil and a sense of humor!

"Laundry Survival Tip #1, #2, #3"-
#1- Tide Pod, Bounce, and Quarters - Do it Yourself!
#2 Laundry Bag - Take it home to Mom
#3 - New Shirt - At least you'll have one clean shirt to wear...

"Dorm Food Survival Tip" - Mac n Cheese, Spaghettios, Ramen - Staples you'll learn to love!

 "Spiritual Survival Tip" - Salt, flashlight, and framed Be These verse -  Keep this on your desk to remind yourself

For Emergency Use Only - break class - $50 bill

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

CTC Math - 12 Month Family Plan: A TOS Crew Review

CTCMath Review
12 Month Family Plan from CTC Math

CTC Math is an online math tutor with over 1,300 video tutorials for students in Kindergarten through High School.  From colours to trigonometry!  The 12 Month Family Plan allows up to 10 students unlimited access to all levels for just $118.00 a year (that's a special 60 % discount off the normal pricing, just for homeschoolers). You can also choose to purchase a monthly plan of $11.97 for one student of $15.97 for 2 or more students. This is a HUGE value for large families!

CTC Math is very intuitive, and easy to use.  The Bentz Test Laboratory had ALL eight of my testers using this program - grades K-11th.  This is one of the biggest benefits for multiple child homes, you get access to all levels for the same price. 

Each tester started in their level by taking a diagnostic test.  Then, they could move on to the section they wanted to start with. Each section is divided into subsections as well, so that you can really pinpoint exactly what you want to work on.

Each section offers video instruction, with an Australian accent :-)  Your student can watch the video, which are typically under 10 minutes long, then move into answering questions. 

The younger levels can answer their questions directly online.  The older more advanced levels can print out the worksheet, work the answers and then enter their answers online to get scored.  The program automatically returns them to the place they left off.

Another nice feature, you can move between any level and any section - so you can work on exactly what they need to.

My testers occasionally had to ask me to clarify a word... for instance, they didn't understand "A choc frog is 11 cents dearer than a green frog..."  We got a laugh, and a world languages and geographical differences lesson as well as math that day

My testers enjoyed this program.  The younger testers loved getting the certificates - emailed to the parent account.  My older testers liked seeing their progress on screen.  All of them were able to easily find their way around, and begin working at the correct level immediately.  This would be an excellent tool for your math instruction, and for additional review.  Since the lessons were short, no one got frustrated. 

It's not a flashy, game type of program.  Rather, it's really solid math instruction in an easy to use format.  Exactly what we need around here. 

 This is a great program for busy moms (especially those like me that don't really love math!)   Zero prep needed for the teacher, and no grading either.  CTC automatically grades their answers.  The student can redo any section that doesn't meet the minimum passing standard that you set... i.e. we choose 80%. 

One of my favorite features is the Weekly email summaries that show me exactly who logged in, when, and what they accomplished.  We set up our laptop in the dining room, and everyone took their turn with CTC Math.  This is a wonderful way to keep math skills sharp during the summer as well.

Of course, you can also log into your parent account and see detailed summaries of what they have been working on, and what they may need more help with.
Overall, this is a solid math program that is super easy to use.  I would highly recommend it!
Find CTC Math on Facebook
See what other members of the Crew thought here
CTCmath Review
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