Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls from WorthyKids/Ideals: A TOS Crew Review

The Secret of the Hidden ScrollsThe Secret of the Hidden Scrolls

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls from WorthyKids/Ideals

It's so much fun to discover new series for your young readers!  My testers have been enjoying The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls from WorthyKids/IdealsWe got the first 2 books in this new series:

  • The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Beginning (Book #1)
  • The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: Race to the Ark (Book #2)

These are designed for your independent readers - ages 6-9.  They make a fun read aloud too!  The author, MJ Thomas wrote this time-traveling series to give his young son an introduction to the Bible that was fun, and biblically sound. 

The stories take your child back-to-the-Bible.  Each adventure begins with young Peter and Mary enter the library of their Great-Uncle-Solomon, an archaeologist.  They discover a secret room, and magic scrolls that transport them through time.

In the first book - The Beginning, they arrive at creation.  What a fun way to really picture what it was like to be there when God was speaking creation into being!  In order to return, the children must solve the puzzle of the scroll.  Angel Michael is helping protect them, and reminds them that God is always with them.  The story ends when the children solve the puzzle, but they learn that the adventures will continue as "chosen ones".

In the second book - Race to the Ark, Peter and Mary find themselves on the Ark with Noah and his family as they help prepare for the flood, and avoid the evil "Dark Ruler" (a villain they met before - the snake!)  My testers loved imagining getting to be on the ark, to help with the animals, and try to contain those naughty monkeys!  These stories are filled with solid truth, and fun adventure.

I actually picked the first book  up to look at it, and ended up reading both of them myself!  They are very well written, with fun illustrations throughout.  I think these are the perfect reading assignment for your  younger readers.

Find WorthyKids/Ideals on Social Media:

Hashtags: #hsreviews , #SecretoftheHiddenScrolls

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. {WorthyKids/Ideals Reviews}

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

REACH 2017-18

Here we go - our third year at REACH.  We love getting to learn with friends!  I'm teaching Geography and Forensics this year, and also managing membership and serving on the Board of Directors  (note... my cute new leadership shirt!)

Captain Bayley's Heir from Heirloom Audio Productions: A TOS Crew Review

Heirloom Audio Productions
Captain Bayley's Heir
 Captain Bayley's Heir from Heirloom Audio Productions

I love it when history comes to life!  We have been transported back in time with Captain Bayley's Heir from Heirloom Audio ProductionsThis 2 CD set is the lastest release of The Extraordinary Adventures of G.A. Henty.  With more than 2 hours of fast-paced adventure - my testers wouldn't let us out of the van.  These are designed for ages 6-16 - but, we ALL love them!
We are long-time fans of GA Henty - a prolific 1800's author with a huge appeal to my boys.  His tales are woven with strong, Godly characters that make us feel like we are right there.  Heirloom Audio has brought his books to life with fully dramatized productions.

These are so professionally done, audio theater at it's finest!  They boast Brian Blessed as the voice of G.A. Henty and a star studded cast including John Rhys-Davies, Jade Williams, Ian Porter, Finty Williams, David Shaw-Parker, and many more.  
This story follows young Frank from England to America as he learns about the power of Amazing Grace, and the gift of forgiveness.    The story is filled with colorful characters and hold-onto-your-horses adventures.  Frank encounters the grit of the American west as the gold rush is underway.  He learns valuable lessons, and finds God's grace as he seeks to prove himself.   

We really liked the double story-line, Frank's American adventure and Captain Bayley's adventure to find Frank and clear his name. 
We cheered, and we cried...and we fell in love.  That's the power of these well-crafted stories.
In addition, we were blessed to get some amazing bonus content to go with our story. 

A playlist to listen to online, or download  

A full Ebook (perfect for a Kindle!) and the Official Soundtrack

A Cast poster and full Study Guide

Even a inspirational Poster and wallpaper for your screen!

Our favorite is the Study Guide.  This 38 page, downloadable PDF is filled with extra learning adventures you can incorporate into your listening.  Sections correspond to each listening track and include activities like:

  • "Defining Words" - vocabulary to know
  • "Listening Well" - questions to use to help them remember what they heard
  • "Thinking Further" - questions to challenge them to think on what they listened to, and even to dig a little deeper and research more
In addition, throughout the Study Guide are sidebars filled with interesting historical facts like a "who's who" of the Gold Rush, what is Manifest Destiny,  and a peek into a mining camp.

There are also three topical Bible studies included: 
  1. God’s Grace
  2. Becoming a Christian
  3. Honor Your Parents

Finally, additional resources are recommended to learn more.  You can use this Study Guide to build an entire unit study around their listening!

But that's not all - online content is available as well.  Be sure to check out the Live The Adventure Club at  It's filled with resources to help you make history come alive!

Links to many useful articles, projects, recipes, and more are in the Parent Resource section.

Study Guides for all the Adventures and lots of fun activities to explore!

My testers loved the section with a Read Along Script (I liked the Chapter Quizzes more than they did - they are an awesome tool!)

We give these productions our HIGHEST recommendations!  In fact, we are keeping our fingers crossed that the "hint" we heard about the Battle of Hastings at the end our our audio comes true...

Other Heirloom Audios include:
  • Under Drake’s Flag - the story of Sir Francis Drake 
  • In Freedom’s Cause - William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in their fight for Scottish independence 
  • With Lee in Virginia - the American Civil War 
  • The Dragon and the Raven - the Viking invasions of England 
  • Beric the Briton - the Roman invasion of Britannica 
  • The Cat of Bubastes - Ancient Egypt
  • In the Reign of Terror - the French Revolution
Find Heirloom Audio Productions on Social Media:

Hashtags: #hsreviews, #HeirloomAudio, #CaptainBayleysHeir, #LiveTheAdventure, 
#BringingHentyBack, #AudioAdventures, #AudioDrama

See what other members of the Crew thought here
Captain Bayley's Heir {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}
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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Let’s Go Geography: A TOS Crew Review

Let's Go Geography
Let's Go Geography

Let’s Go Geography

Ready for a trip around the world?  Let's Go Geography is an online subscription for  K-4th graders that will introduce your student to the tastes, sounds, and sights of different countries around our globe each week. Geography is one of the most important, but undertaught subjects. Let’s Go Geography is an easy-to-use program that makes teaching geography fun.  The Bentz Test Laboratory is having a blast!

Author, Carol Henderson, has been teaching geography to elementary students in a large homeschool co-op for years. Let’s Go Geography comes from her experience and lessons - now available in a digital format. This subscription style curriculum will send you an email each week with a hands-on study for a new location to explore, or you can download the entire year and pick and choose countries you want to visit.  Each year will cover 26 countries, and 2 regions of the the USA.

Each week's lesson is designed to take about an hour.  The downloadable PDF lessons include 5 chapters with with a variety of activities.  Check out a sample lesson:

  • Chapter 1: Map it! - locate the country on the map and learn some basic facts.
  • Chapter 2: The Flag - color, cut and paste the flag into your Travel Journal -  three-ring binder to keep all your geography mementos organized.  Free printable covers come with your subscription.

  • Chapter 3: The Music - listen and watch the music of the country with online videos - all videos are in a safe viewing mode - no YouTube adds or comments.
  • Chapter 4: Let's Explore - go sightseeing!  Learn about fascinating facts about the country. From what the people do, and what they eat, to special locations to visit.  Simple writing assignments give your child a chance to remember what they learned.  Pictures are included for your Travel Journal. 

  • Chapter 5: Create! - a hands-on activity with step-by-step instructions (any supplies you need are detailed for you) Some times it's a coloring page, sometimes a craft.  Each step is clearly outlined and easy to follow.

  • Chapter 6: Printables - A "passport", notebooking pages, flags for the classroom, coloring pages and more.

Like the author, I LOVE teaching Geography in our local Co-op!  This site is jam packed with resources for all ages.  The videos and information on each location are interesting no matter what grade you are :-)
I really appreciate being able to use the program in the order I want to.  I like to look for a country that has some tie in to our history or literature, and then include the activities from Let's Go Geography into our week to make it come alive.
Every one of my testers likes a different section best.  When I asked them, I heard - "I love coloring the flags" (one of my children, now older knows every countries flag in the entire world...this is how it started!).  Another answered - "The crafts!", and "The videos!"  Really, every component is engaging and full of fun!
Let's Go Geography

Let’s Go Geography offers 3 years of completely new content each week.  They permit 1 teacher and his/her entire homeschool and co-op class access with your membership.

Find Let’s Go Geography on Social Media:

Hashtags: #hsreviews, #geography, #homeschoolgeography, #geographyforkids

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing: A TOS Crew Review

Barbour Publishing

IMAGINE... The Great Flood
Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing

It can be difficult to find an exciting book for ages 8-12, especially boys!  The Bentz Test Laboratory has been enjoying Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing.

This 110 page softcover is the first in a series by Matt Koceich, who wants to bring Bible to life for young people with exciting action stories.    The next book -  Imagine... The Ten Plagues comes out in 2018. 

This story follows a young, 10 year-old  boy named Corey as he gets a close up experience with the days leading up to the flood.  It's a time travel story,  Corey is a modern day child thrust back into Mespotamia around 2400 BC after taking a fall while chasing the family dog.  Corey is about to move from Texas to Florida, a very stressful event for him.

He meets Noah and his sons, the violent Nephilim, and even an evil sorcerer.  This is a page-turning adventure that makes you really imagine what it must have been like during the Bible times! I love reading fiction that makes the Bible come alive for my children. In fact, I picked up the book to give a quick look over, and ended up reading the entire thing!  It truly grabs your attention right away.

Through out his adventure, Corey is able to see how God is working in his real life adventure of moving.  This was particularly meaningful to my tester, as we have made several BIG family moves in the past 10 years.

This is an exciting read - and full of great truths, without being preachy.  The important lesson of knowing that God is with them no matter the circumstances is woven into the story and makes it memorable.  

My tester really enjoyed the adventure, and is eagerly looking forward to the next book!   My daughter has fallen in love with another series, be sure to check out the Barbour Publishing -  Diary of a Real Payne series  too!

Find Barbour Publishing on Social Media:
IMAGINE... The Great Flood

Hashtags: #hsreviews, #biblestories, #bibleadventure

See what other members of the Crew thought here

Imagine. . .The Great Flood by Matt Koceich {Barbour Publishing}

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I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.   On one hand, I get a chance to keep up with friends all over the world.

On the other, it daily reminds me that my kiddos are growing too fast!  The timehop is killing me.

This came up recently... our first day of Co-op (it said 7 years ago, but I know it was YESTERDAY!)

This is our "last" picture of the summer, before college kid left...  I bet it makes me cry when Facebook reminds me again...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Unauthorized from Chara Games: A TOS Crew Review

Chara Games

There is nothing better than a game we can ALL play!  We have been enjoying learning a new game called Unauthorized from Chara Games.  This fun game is designed for 6-12 players.  The age on the box is 12+, but we played with ages 8 to 17, and everyone enjoyed it.

The game is designed to take 30 minutes.  It consists of 4 rounds.  I love that this game is easy to learn, and easy to play.  Having some serious board/card gamers around here... not all games are this family friendly!

The game is very high quality - with a sturdy box to hold everything.  The game contains the following items:
  • Rule Book
  • Role Cards
  • Dealer Reference Card
  • Player Reference Card
  • Experience Cards
It's a role play game in which your goal is to grow the underground church, or to try to stop the underground church.  I love the focus from Chara Games on producing well-designed, high quality games that encourage Christian values and discussions in respectful ways.  We've reviewed another game from them - Commissioned, you can read about it here.

The game begins with each player getting a Role Card.  Each Role Card has a special "power" printed on the card that allows the player to make a unique move during their turn.  This is the role play portion of the game, and makes the play lively!

We played with 7 players our first game - so we had one Pastor and one Police while the rest of us were "undecideds".

The Rule Book is very easy to understand, and all the rules and process of play is very clearly explained.   In addition, the game includes cards to leave on the table that have the card actions and player choices outlined.  This was so valuable playing with a variety of ages and abilities.  Everyone could easily refer back to them when it was their turn.

The Experience Cards determine a player's loyalty - Red for the State, Green for the Church.  The winner is decided by which card color is the majority at the end of the game.  The cards have different "experiences" like persecution, intolerance, indoctrination or curious about the faith, disillusioned with the state, and encounter spiritual truth.  There are also "wild cards" that the player gets to use as they wish for their loyalty.


Each of the 4 rounds has players passing cards to each other.  This changes everyone's hand, and potential loyalties.  You must begin play being loyal to the color with the greatest number of cards in your hand, and you can't change - unless instructed to (we did have a minor meltdown from a young player that didn't want to be part of the State :-)  Guess we're teaching them well!)   The game is both individual and cooperative. The end goal is for a majority to be loyal to the church, and have at least one player not in prison (the special power of the police)

Each round allows a player to also choose an action to complete - use their power, speak to a neighbor, seek parole (if they have been imprisoned) or a Public Execution (only the police can do this, and only once in the game).   

Poor girl was executed....  But-the Church prevailed!

We really enjoyed the game, and it has quickly become a family go-to.  It's nice that you can play with more players, especially in a family our size.  But this would also be great for your small group to play together.  It really encourages great discussions about the "experiences" of being a Christian in a very non-threatening way.  You definitely want to check it out!

 You can check out a brief video to see how to play:

Find Chara Games on Social Media:

Hashtags: #hsreviews , #ChristianBoardGames, #StrategyGames

See what other members of the Crew thought here
Unauthorized {Chara Games Reviews}
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