Wednesday, May 31, 2017

She Made It!

I love our Co-op!

My sweet daughter loves to sew, but I am somewhat limited...I can only sew straight lines, like quilts.

She made this skirt completely on her own, including creating a custom pattern!

I'm so impressed...maybe she can teach me now.  A girl who can sew, can always find a job!

Heroes of History- Louis Zamperini from the Heroes of History and YWAM Publishing : A TOS Crew Review

YWAM Publishing
YWAM Publishing
Heroes of History- Louis Zamperini from the Heroes of History series   and YWAM Publishing 

The Heroes of History series   and YWAM Publishing is HANDS DOWN - my ALL TIME FAVORITE homeschooling resource! We have been inspired by Heroes of History- Louis Zamperini along with the valuable Downloadable curriculum guide not let your children read these books if you want them to lead a "normal" life. These best-selling biographies will open up a world of excitement, challenges, and will inspire your children to lead lives filled with extraordinary adventures for God and his Glory.

At our very first homeschool conference...15 years ago, someone gave us a free copy of Gladys Aylward: Life of Adventure. We took it home and we were hooked. The very next year, I went straight to YWAM Publishing and purchased their entire set of both Christian Heroes: Then & Now and Heroes of History. My dear husband is still recovering from the shock that I bought "one of everything on the table!"

Years later, both of us agree - these books have had LIFE CHANGING effect on our family. Our children have grown up reading (and listening to) stories of real life men and women that have been used by God to do amazing things. It has profoundly impacted them. All 8 of my children have expressed the desire to be missionaries. These books are great for ages 10+ to read independently - However, our entire family has enjoyed them as family read alouds and loves listening to audios as well. 

Heroes of History- Louis Zamperini is one of the family favorites in this series (and that is quite an honor!)  His story is a life changing, true story of endurance and redemption.  Louis is an Olympic athlete that survives World War II as a Japanese Prisoner of War.  A best selling movie was made about his life as well.

The entire story is one of how God helped Louis triumph at the Olympics (he even meets Hitler) after escaping a very troubled childhood.  His story goes on to detail his life as an American Air Force serviceman during WWII.  Here is where his story is truly inspiring...  he not only survives being stranded at sea for 46 record breaking days, but he endures years of torture in as a Japanese Prisoner of War.  The strength of his will is even more amazing as we discovered that he was not even a believer at this point in his life!  It shows how God is able to work in every circumstance!!

He meets God after surviving these horrific events, and his life becomes a powerful story of redemption and forgiveness.  He is able to actually FORGIVE his Japanese torturer!  He becomes a beloved American Hero and points all of it back to God.

This is truly an unforgettable story. In addition to being a great choice for teaching character - these books are also a great choice for using as a unit study or even as a full curriculum.

The Downloadable curriculum guide contains valuable tips for using the books in classroom, group or homeschool setting.   

The Guide, which is a printable 88 page PDF, is filled with activities, quotes, questions, explorations, community ideas and plenty of extra themes to explore.   The Guide offers suggestions of how to use this series as full curriculum in your homeschool or classroom as well as in a small group setting.  This would make a great coop class too!  Here's a quick peek...

The Study Guide is very professionally done and makes the perfect compliment to the book.

One thing I love about this series is that history, geography, character and Biblical Worldview lessons are woven seamlessly into each and every book.  I always say "It's the one resource I would NEVER homeschool without."

 Find YWAM Publishing on Social Media:

Twitter: Tag:@YWAMpublishing
Pinterest: Tag: @YWAMpublishing

#hsreviews, #YWAMPublishing, #ChristianHeroes, #ChristianBiographies, #Truebiographies, #HeroesofHistory, #HeroBiographies, #TrueStories, #ChristianHeroesThenandNow, #Homeschoolcurriculum, #Teachthemwell

Christian & History Heroes {YWAM Publishing Reviews}

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach: A TOS Crew Review

The Typing Coach
The Typing Coach

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach

Typing is an essential skill in today's world.  The Typing Coach Online Typing Course from The Typing Coach has been helping the Bentz Test Laboratory improve their typing skills.

Many of my children still use the "two-finger" typing method while looking at the keyboard.  This makes typing anything a dreaded task!  The Typing Coach is an online program that uses audio, video and written instruction in a self-paced course that lets students learn at their own pace and master the typing skills they need.  The lessons are designed for mastery, so your student should not move ahead until they have conquered the skill.  Additionally you can go back as often as you want or need to. The goal of 45+ words a minute can be reached by following the lessons.

Seven lessons cover everything needed to improve typing skill and accuracy.  From focusing on proper posture to systematically teaching each row of letters, this program is great for anyone who wants to improve their typing skills. Progress is monitored through timed and scored proficiency tests.

Students age 12 and up can work independently through the program. Younger students will need more help.

My testers range in age from age 8 to 17.  Everyone took a turn with the program. Some of them were surprised by how well they typed, and others...not as much! The Before/After Assessment is a three minute typing exercise that helps you see where you are at.

I printed the  PDF Student Packets that are included in the course, they contain the lessons the students will be typing and put them all in a binder for easy access.  Students can use any word processing software for their typing exercises.

This program is unique in that it focuses on typing from the printed material and not the information seen on the monitor. Covering up the monitor really made them focus on correct typing skills that will be useful in real-life typing!

 The Teacher Resource Center includes PDF printables to use with students to increase their success.  Reward tickets, progress charts and learning checks are all included.

For my younger students - The Slower Paced lessons were the perfect speed for them.  They were also able to watch the additional videos for more help.  I'm sure they are going to become excellent typists, since they are starting off correctly by NOT developing bad habits like poor posture and looking at their fingers!

Each lesson has a video to watch before starting practice.  Then, audio instructions are included that the student can listen to as they type.

I really like the simplicity of this program.  It's easy to use, and effective.  We've tried many other typing programs that were more "game" than type.  This program is different, the complete focus on teaching fundamental typing skills that actually translate to efficient and accurate typing.  It's extremely at just $17 per year.


Don't be satisfied with you or your children's two-finger, search-and-find typing method, The Typing Coach will help master true typing skills in no time!

Find Typing Coach on Social Media: 
#typing, #thetypingcoach #typinglessons #onlinetypinglessons

The Typing Coach Online Typing Course {The Typing Coach Reviews}

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.: A TOS Crew Review

The Pencil Grip, Inc
Thin Stix by KwikStix
Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.

I love when my children get creative... but I don't love the mess that they make in the process!  I have discovered a treat that makes all of us happy - Thin Stix 6pk of Classic Colors from The Pencil Grip, Inc.
These gems are solid, non-toxic, tempra paint sticks that don't need water or brushes!  They work on paper, posters, and much more. They dry fast, less than 90 seconds.   Best of all - they don't make a mess!!
Thin Stix by KwikStix
Thin Stix look and feel like a marker, but paint like a brush.  Just take off the cap, twist and you car ready to paint!  The set we tried came in 6 classic colors: Red, yellow, blue, green, brown and black.  They offer 12 pks of Thin Stix and many other colors as well. 

They are very easy to use.  We have been fans of Kwik Stix (read our review here) since we discovered them last year.  We use them in our art classes at Coop, they are virtually mess free, so it's the perfect art supply!  Thin Stix have a thinner tip than Kwik Stix and give you more control for detail while creating.  My testers like both, but found the Thin Stix a little easier to work with because of their size, they feel just like a marker.

Thin Stix are very smooth, the paint glides onto the paper. The colors are vivid.  It's actually quite fun to paint with them, I even got into it myself.  You can throw away your messy brushes!!

The finished work dries super fast and really looks like paint too.  We painted mainly on paper - but Thin Stix will work on many other surfaces as well.  Paper, poster, wood and even rocks!  These are great for big projects as well, they are great on posters and presentation boards.

 They are great for little hands, easy to hold and easy to use.

But, big kids can't resist them either!

 But,  here's something you won't believe unless I show you... WE PAINTED IN THE VAN!  Yes,  Thin Stix are so mess-free and fun, you can take them on road trips!  Anyone who knows what long car trips in the summer can be like will appreciate having something new and fun to take along. Did I mention 8 kiddos all packed in... ignore teenagers in the way back...

The Pencil Grip, Inc. offers many products to help your child get creative.  They have a full selection of therapeutic items like pencil grips (love those too!), textured beads and plenty of supplies for your school needs.  Make sure to stock up before the new school year.

Kwik Stix and Thin Stix are available in a large variety of colors including neons, metalix and creativity packs.  These make perfect gifts as well.  Check out this video:
We love these- We have creativity without the mess, and we can take them on the go.  These are one essential school supply you don't want to do without!

Thin Stix by KwikStix
Find on  The Pencil Grip, Inc. on Social Media:

Facebook: Tag: @thepencilgrip 
Twitter: Tag:@thepencilgrip 
Pinterest: Tag: @KwikStixPaint/boards 

#hsreviews, #MessFreeCreativity, #ThinStix

No Mess Art with Thin Stix Classic Colors {The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviews}
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First Friday Friends - April

Our April meeting was on Good Friday! What a beautiful way to celebrate Jesus' sacrifice, with dear ones.

Our craft was so easy!

All we needed to do was take some burlap wide ribbon,  cut it into 2 lengths for the cross.  Then we hot glued it together in the center, added a decoration and a hanging cord.  DONE!

How I adore these precious girls!!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity: A TOS Crew Review

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue
Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity

YEAH!  This is one for us...homeschool moms!  I've been enjoying the encouragement and inspiration in Homeschool Rescue from Only Passionate Curiosity.

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool RescueHomeschool Rescue is an online course that offers a treasure chest of homeschool how-to's for both new and seasoned homeschool parents.

 Author, Heather Aliano, has created a 5 lesson course that can be completed in 60 days,  just for us homeschooling moms.  By using videos, printable transcripts, audio downloads, and homework/workbooks (yes, moms do homework too!) many facets of the homeschool lifestyle are covered.  The course also offers lists of resources & useful links for further research.

I've been homeschooling for 15 years (yikes!) and I found many new gems in this program.  The video segments are broken down into 20 lessons, with a total of  over 5 hours of content!   I work online in the early mornings, and this was the perfect time for me to listen to these helpful lessons. The course is designed with assignments daily, and a helpful calendar is included to help you keep on schedule

The course is divided into 5 modules. Some of the topics covered include:

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

I found so many things to appreciate in this program.  First, do you need a dose of encouragement? This is the right place to come for it!  Heather, a fellow homeschooling mom, really gets our needs, and she has filled this course with encouragement- the way we need it most.  Sometimes it was the quote she starts sessions off with, other times it was the gentle reminders,or even the "tough love" challenges that were exactly what I needed in this season!

The course is self-paced, but a unique feature is that this course is sold in "classes",  Registrations for the next class open for a couple of weeks at a time, they are currently open from now until May 31, 2017.  Then when sign ups end, the course will begin and run from June through July.  While you are working through the course, you get the support from other "classmates" via a Facebook group created just for you!  Your registration gives you lifetime access to the course and any future updates.

We had a blast in Module 3 - Planning and Curriculum.  Of course, curriculum is my favorite!  But, the homework of determining learning styles was fun for all of my students, and an invaluable tool for me as well.  The homework and extra resources are worth buying this program for alone!

Module 4 - Setting Your Students up for Success was particularly useful for me on a personal level. The main idea I took away from this course was a renewed commitment to "master the follow through".  After homeschooling for so many years, several bad habits have evolved that really need to be readdressed.  The follow through with ALL my students, not just my younger ones, was an encouraging message I really needed to hear!

Also, Module 5 - Teaching Older Students was perfect for my season.  Teaching high school is a huge task, and not many programs prepare us homeschool moms for what we are facing. Homeschool Rescue offered plenty of practical tips for this age group.

Thank you Heather for putting together a truly useful course for us!  Don't miss this one, summer is the perfect time to invest your time in this.

Find Only Passionate Curiosity on Social Media:


Hashtags: #hsreviews #homeschoolrescue

Only Passionate Curiosity Homeschool Rescue

Homeschool Rescue {Only Passionate Curiosity Reviews}

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Teaching Art History has been so much fun this year!  Especially when the weather is beautiful and we can go outside and really get our hands into it...  Monet would be proud!

Here's our lesson on Impressionism:

First - paint part blue and part green with tempra paint. (the fun messy part!)

Then, we took tissue paper lilly pads and flowers and used Mod Podge to stick them down.

One of our favorite projects, they turned out beautiful!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Algebra for Breakfast: A TOS Crew Review

Algebra for Breakfast
Algebra for Breakfast

Algebra for Breakfast

Math is not our favorite subject. There, I've said it. Bentz Test Laboratory has been exploring an online program that is helping improve our attitude, it's called Algebra For Breakfast.
This is an online supplemental program features two levels, one for grades 3/4 and one for grades 5/6.  I have testers in EVERY single grade!  They have all been working through the lessons together.  We recieved a 6 month subscription
The author, Bob Hazen is also the teacher for the online videos.  The program uses online teaching (yeah - I don't have to) as well as printable worksheets for the lessons.  Manipulatives, like blocks and dice are a vital part of the methodology of this program.  We were able to easily use manipulatives we already owned, but sets are available.
The program is fairly easy to use.  Once logged in you can select the lessons your student wishes to work on.  I had testers in both levels, so it was nice that they could all log on under the same user name and password.  
Each level contains 50 lessons, some of the content is similar, but the levels are distinct.  Lessons are unlocked gradually over a period of time.
The lessons are short videos of Bob Hazen teaching to a class.  My testers did not really enjoy the videos, they found the other students distracting (one of the benefits of homeschooling).  In addition, there are videos directed to the parent as well.
My younger testers really preferred the games and manipulatives.  He offers suggestions for games to help improve skills that use blocks, dice and even number cards you can make to play various versions of "war".  Most of the information presented was completely new for them, so I'm sure it will pay off later as well.  One of the things they really enjoyed was the iTunes album of The Original Skip Count Kid’s Skip Count Songs (by James McGhee) recommended.  They listened to it over and over.

 I like that the program uses all our learning styles.

My older testers, the 5th and 6th graders had no problem jumping in and getting going.  They found the lessons short and worked quickly through the lessons. 
Overall, they enjoyed doing the worksheets, I was impressed by how much they knew!  They also liked the games best. Playing war with the number cards is a great way to cement negative and positive integers.  The dice had all of them improving math facts at the same time.
Overall, we thought this was a nice supplemental program that made Algebra not-so-scary.  It would be a perfect way to sneak in some math over the summer.

Find Algebra for Breakfast on Social Media:


Hashtags:  #hsreviews #mathsupplement #mathenrichment #algebrareinforcement
See what other member of the Crew thought here
Bob Hazen's Algebra Lessons {Algebra for Breakfast Reviews}

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