Thursday, March 31, 2016

Aquarium Explorations

We just love the aquarium & zoo!  Isn't amazing how God shows off?!   The shapes, the colors, the designs of all his amazing creatures... Never fails to put me in a worship mode.

We decided to prolong our spring break and take our friends to our new favorite... the San Antonio Aquarium.  It's not the largest, but everything is interactive and you can feed the animals!

 The rays are like shameless puppies begging...

The birds are crazy - the swarm all over you!  Josh did not get to feed the snake...

Yes,  we even fed the Caiman!

Second Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press: A TOS Crew Review

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

Second Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press 

Nothing makes me happier than reading good books!  In fact, one of my main delights in homeschooling is studying great books with my children.   I love this quote from Memoria Press:

"Students who have been challenged by good literature will never be satisfied with the poor-quality books that are so readily available today"

The Bentz Test Laboratory has been enjoying the Second Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press.  This set comes with 5 Student Study Guides (books sold separately) & a Answer Key.

  • Prairie School
  • Animal Folk Tales of America
  • The Courage of Sarah Noble
  • Little House in the Big Woods
  • Tales from Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, Tom Kitten, Johnny Town-Mouse)
  • Student Guides and Teacher Key

My tester is in 2nd grade.  Memoria Press encourages you to challenge your children with books a bit above their reading level, a great way to help them engage in the process of becoming superior readers.  This Set is a wonderful collection of well-loved classics, with a range of reading that fit my tester perfectly.

I had most of required books, so I let her pick which one she wanted to start with.  She chose Prairie School by Avi.  You can take a peek at the  Prairie School Sample. The Student Study Guide introduces vocabulary, comprehension questions and enrichment activities such as copywork, dictation, research, mapping, drawing, poetry, literary terms and more.

The student is instructed to read the chapter (independently - or, aloud) and mark each vocabulary word as they come to it.  Then, complete the 4-6 comprehension questions.   

Since my tester is a struggling reader, we focused on the "pronounce & spell" words together, then defined the vocabulary words before she began her reading.  This was a great way to make sure she was understanding the words.

Following the comprehension questions, each chapter had discussion points.  This was a fun way to discuss the historical background, look at the map, and get her thinking about the story on a deeper level.

We both LOVED this approach to literature study! 

Another feature I really appreciated is that Memoria has done all the work for me.  The Student Guides are very well done and comprehensive, the Answer Key gives me everything I need (even if I haven't read the book...) and the Set pulls it altogether in a nicely planned year of Literature.  This is GREAT for a busy mom like me with multiple levels of literature to teach!

My tester has just started Little House in the Big Woods , the longest book she has ever tackled independently and I absolutely can NOT wait to share this treasure with her!

Be sure to check out the other levels the Crew has been reviewing:
StoryTime Treasures Student Guide and Answer Key
More StoryTime Treasures Student Guide and Answer Key
Second Grade Literature Guide Set
Third Grade Literature Guide Set
Fourth Grade Literature Guide Set
Fifth Grade Literature Guide Set
Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set
Seventh Grade Literature Guide Set
Eighth Grade Literature Guide Set
Ninth Grade Literature Guide Set 
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Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Foundations Level C from Logic of English: A TOS Crew Reveiw

Logic of English Review
Logic of English Review
Foundations Level C  from Logic of English 

The Bentz Test Laboratory has been using Foundations Level C  from Logic of English for my youngest tester, my 6 year old first grader.  We are HUGE fans of this multi-sensory  approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling.  (You can read about our experience with Level B here).

This program is designed for ages 4-7. Level C Set we have been using includes:
  • Teacher Manual
  • Student Workbook
  • Phonogram Game Tiles
  • Phonogram & Spelling Rule Quick Reference Guide

We already had the Basic Phonogram Flash Cards, Red and Blue Phonogram Game Cards and Student Whiteboard from Levels A & B.

 Level C focuses on mastering 27 multi-letter phonograms and 14 spelling rules. This level includes reading short paragraphs and multi-syllable words without sight words or guessing.  

There are 48 Lessons (40 instructional lessons and 8 Assessment and Review lessons) in Level C.  The lessons include:
  • Phonograms &  Phonogram Practice 
  • Spelling Rule & Spelling
  • Phonemic Awareness 
  • Vocabulary
  • Fluency Comprehension  
  • Writing

Since we have completed Levels A & B this was perfect for my tester to keep moving forward.  The Student Workbook is brightly colored and very engaging.  She likes to work independently, and this is a great fit for her.  It has large, easy to read print, and multiple size lines for writing practice. Our workbook included the eight nonfiction readers  (mine were tear-outs in the back of the workbook - but, new editions come as a separate bound set)  The Readers focus on finding the main idea, locating key words, and applying other comprehension strategies. The Readers are on of her favorite parts,  she "collects" them.  I guess she is her mama's daughter, collecting books already ;-)

The Teacher Manual is your must-have tool.  This is a very easy, user friendly program to teach.  Everything you need to know is clearly outlined for you in each lesson.  Highlights are included throughout with "Teacher Tips".  Each lesson includes many ways you can customize it to fit your child's needs.  Lots of games and multi-sensory fun activities make it a good fit for all learning styles!

The Phonogram Game Tiles are one of our favorites.  They are sturdy, colored coded tiles for all 74 phonograms taught in the program.  Tiles are color-coded for consonants, vowels, R-controlled phonograms, and silent E's.  We did almost all of our spelling lists with these and my tester loved them!

The Phonogram & Spelling Rule Quick Reference Guide is a handy reference tool for both you and your student. It is a heavy cardstock, six-sided reference card that folds to 8 1/2 x 11 inches,  On it you will find Phonograms, Spelling Rules, and more.  This is a great way to review what they are learning. 

My tester has completed Levels A & B and I can honestly tell you - this program has been the most effective phonics instruction we have used!  It's fun and easy to teach, and my tester loves it. It makes me wish I had a couple more children to use it with... 

Be sure to check this one out!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Convention Time!

I had the best spring break!

My entire family (all 10 of us) trekked to Ft. Worth, TX to attend the Great Homeschool Convention.  Homeschool conventions are definitely my HAPPY SPOT!  But, it gets even better than 3 nights in hotel rooms too small for us...

We got our friends to come with us!!  Texas and Arkansas - both of our worlds the same spot!

To make it even sweeter,  EVERY one of my children had a BFF there.

Road tripping with our Co-op friends!

Arkansas heart sisters!

Something for everyone at the convention.

Hotel fun too!

Adventures in dining... 5 Guys style.

Water Gardens were amazing...


The fun didn't end there... but, that's my NEXT post :-)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

College Mail!

Sam started saving all of the "college propaganda" - the flyers, cards, letters, catalogs... that he got from colleges.

Check this out!

2 HEAVY bags full - from just his Junior & Senior years.  University of Mary-Hardin Baylor won the contest :-)

Wonder how much less college could cost if they cut some of that advertising budget?!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens : A TOS Crew Review

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review
Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens

Rainforest Journey EdTechLens ReviewThe testers at Bentz Test Laboratory were fascinated with Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens! We were blessed with a one-year online subscription to 3 levels of this amazing learning adventure into the rainforest.  My testers are in Grades 1, 2 and 4.  The program is aligned with science standards for grades K-5.  They were all able to log-in and explore a level customized to them! 
Take a peek at video introduction here. 
There are 5 units to the Rainforest Journey program - including:
  • The Big Picture
  •  Adapt or Die 
  • Animals
  •  Plants & Fungi 
  •  Ecosystem
There are 34 lessons in the Rainforest Journey program.  Different levels are tailored to that specific grade level's ability.  For instance, my 1st grader's level was at a simplified reading level.  I LOVE that multiple grades can all be working in this program with different (but the same topic) content. It's a great feature for those of us with multiple children.
One thing my testers really liked was the "photorealistic media" - meaning that this program is not animated, it's real stunning photography, video, still clips and sound effects that capture their attention. 
It's a very easy to navigate, user-friendly program. Even for younger elementary students.  A teacher log-in allows me to manage my student accounts, and view their progress. I could determine if they needed to work sequentially, or allow them to skip around.  My students were also able to access their level from my Teacher account, and since I didn't care much about tracking their progress - it was easier for me to log-in and let them access their individual level from my parent account.    
Each lesson has text that can be read, and clickable portions to see more.  They can also choose to have the audio read to them.  My tester liked reading it herself.  You can print off PDFs of each lesson  transcript (we did not) and the Lesson Reviews are downloadable and printable as well.  I printed off their lesson reviews for each unit at one time, and put them in a binder that they kept near the computer as they read through each lesson. The Lesson reviews are quick reminders of what they learned in the lesson
Here are examples from each lesson:

Unit assessments are available if you want to see what your student is remembering.  For my 1st grade student - they were pictures to select from, facts in multiple choice and open ended answers.  My 2nd and 4th grader had similar - but more advanced for their level. When they do them on-line, the program corrects them automatically.  I didn't need to focus on assessments because my student was constantly telling me all kinds of interesting facts she was picking up!
Hands-on activities are included and more suggestions for additional exploration. The hands-on activities seem better suited for a classroom group setting - like Season's Charades and a "Are You My Mother" guessing games in the 1st grade level.  My 2nd grade tester loved creating her own rainforest levels poster!

All three of my testers enjoyed this program.  I thought it was well done, and a great way to dive into studying the rainforest together.

At $50 for one student (or just $75 for up to 5 students - in the same level) one year subscription - use the 50% off coupon here,  it's a great science program enrichment experience.
Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review
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See what other members of the Crew thought here
Rainforest Journey EdTechLens Review
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