Tuesday, June 19, 2012


from their website:

"Practice makes perfect, and IXL makes math practice fun! IXL allows teachers and parents to monitor the progress of their students and motivate them through interactive games and practice questions. With over 2,000 skills spanning pre-kindergarten to algebra, and an unlimited number of computer-generated problems, your children always have something new and exciting to practice on IXL!"

Cost - $9.95/month or $79/year - up to 3 children,  Additional children are $2/month or $20/year
(try out 20 questions a day for free to see if IXL is for you...)

The Bentz Test Laboratory was given a 6 month membership to IXL.  With summer break on the horizon - I jumped at the opportunity to introduce some daily math practice! 

IXL (for I excel) was exactly what we needed this summer - math skill practice!!  My two testers - in 1st grade and in 3rd grade were eager to get some computer time...even if it meant doing math.

IXL was extremely easy to navigate - I really liked that I could pick and choose the exact skills that I wanted them to work on.  This isn't really a "teaching" program, it's a review and drill program.  I could pinpoint what skill (regardless of the level) and set them off and learning.  For my 1st grade tester, the questions are available in audio as well .

My testers both appreciated the IXL game board that they earned rewards on.  It's basically a virtual sticker board that they get to complete as they master skills and complete time - best of all they like  compare with each other!  You can also print out colorful certificates to reward their efforts.

Weekly, I was sent a progress report.  I can also log on and see a very to easy graphic of what they have been working on.

I really liked this program, and my testers did as well.  The only drawback is the price...with multiple children involved - it could be a bit pricey. 

For summer practice and review it's a great addition to the math toolchest!

See what the other members of the TOS Reveiw Crew thought here.

I was sent a complimentary subscription in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.



Creation Illustrated

Creation Illustrated is a quarterly magazine who's mission is -
"Our purpose is to share the wonders of God's creation. By revealing fresh insights of His infinite wisdom, gentle touch, undeniable justice, redeeming love, and flawless design, pure truth shall bring renewed peace. Each part of this publication is offered as a reprieve from the daily rigors of life so that all can look to the future with unbridled gratitude and hope."

Here's a mini peek inside the Current Issue - Spring 2012 Vol. 19, No. 1 -
  • A Creatures Near and Dear to Us feature on hummingbirds called "Flying Jewels"
  • An Outdoor Adventure story on Yellowstone National Park
  • A Lens on Creation snapshot of birds on "Bonaventure Island"
  • A Creation Day 6, Part 3 story on the Creation of Humans
  • Creation Highlights in the news
  • A Creation Resource Guide
  • A Creation Stewardship page
  • My Walk with God story called "Bloom Where You're Planted"
  • A Genesis Cuisine recipe section featuring Smoothies for homemakers
  • A Wholesome Living Guide
  • An encouraging children’s story called "Bunny Surprise"
  • A Youth Photo Contest
  • An Instructional Guide to help homeschoolers and teachers glean key spiritual and character-building lessons from each article
  • An Educational Resource Guide
  • Uplifting poetry
  • And more!

The Bentz Test Laboratory was sent 4 issues of this beautiful magazine.  Each issue was a visual delight!  The pictures, the articles, even the recipes were all laced with Scripture to point our focus to our awesome Creator God.  This magazine is very well done - you'll be impressed with the quality.  It's printed on heavy weight glossy paper, with exceptional photography.  These issues were very hard to put down, in fact - I kept picking them up over and over, as did everyone in the house!

One of my favorite parts, each issue includes an "Instructional Guide" with ideas, devotionals, activities and guidelines for deeper study.  You could use these beautiful magazines as a complement to your science curriculum (I know we will)!  You will definitely want to keep these issues in the family library.

My testers loved the "Photo Contest for Youth" feature.  What a great way to get the kids off the couch and outside taking pictures in God's Creation!

I highly recommend subscribing to Creation Illustrated, it will encourage you and everyone who picks it up.

See what other members of the TOS Review Crew thought here.

I was sent complimentary issues in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

myWorld Social Studies

Let me introduce you to myWorld Social Studies by Pearson Homeschool. 

 1 - Student Worktext
The Student Worktext encourages greater interaction with the content and more active reading leading to long term retention of skills and concepts. Your child will love writing, drawing, circling and underlining content as they connect, experience and understand the world of Social Studies.
Each chapter incorporates a real life story that relates to the lesson providing the basis for discussion. Lessons feature a variety of activities providing your child an opportunity to interact with the material to apply their knowledge. Checkpoints are featured throughout to ensure that your child understands of the material.

2 - myStory Video DVD-ROM
The myStory Video DVD features engaging videos with actual students that explore the Big Question of each chapter. Video icons within the student book indicate that a corresponding video is available on this DVD. These videos allow your child to see children of his or her own age explore the Big Question and the key ideas in each chapter, to go on video field trips, and to watch a character from the chapter come to life. Through these video features, your child will make a personal connection to the lesson, building long-term understanding and knowledge.

3 - Teacher’s Resource Library DVD-ROM
The Teacher Resource Library is a one-stop resource for the myWorld Social Studies Teacher’s Guide, lesson plans, and instruction resources. Each chapter will provide:
  • A Teacher’s Guide for each chapter
  • Lesson plans
  • An audio podcast on chapter subjects
  • Hands-on activities to engage your child
  • Editable tests for each chapter and separate answer keys
These carefully planned resources will guide you with planning, supporting activities, and testing to ensure learning is personalized to fit your child.

Get the 5th Grade Homeschool bundle for $69.99

Check out the handy "Homeschool Resources"  tab on their website for links to many helpful articles.

The Bentz Test Laboratory was very curious...we don't have many textbook-like books around here.  (We do have many, many books around here!).

I was pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed myWorld Social Studies!  The Student worktext is very bright and engaging. It's very easy to navigate, key words are highlighted, there are many maps and charts along with pictures and diagrams.  The questions and activities are designed to get your student to interact with the material.  Not just the old "fill in the blank" type of questions at all!  They were drawing, comparing/contrasting, completing charts and creating reports.  (Our first report was for a group of 4 students to learn how to work in a team...good thing we have alot of "team members" around here!)

The Student Worktext begins with a very useful "Social Studies Handbook" section which covers all the basics:
  •  Reading & Writing
  •  Our Land and Regions
  • Our Market Economy
  •  Participating in Our Government. 
  The 9 Chapters (with 3-5 lessons each) take you from "The First Americans" through "Civil War and Reconstruction".

Our favorite component is the myStory Video on DVD-Rom.  Each chapter is introduced on this resource with a mini-tour.  My children really enjoyed watching the videos. This feature really adds to this program and adds the much needed auditory component!

The Teacher Resource Library is FILLED with additional information to help you.  Lesson Plans, extra activities, learning cards, tests/quizzes.  You could spend alot of time here!  You can pick and choose what extras you want.

The Pearson Homeschool:  myWorld Social Studies is a well-rounded program.  I think it's great for the busy homeschool mom who wants their children to work independently. 

Check out what the other members of the TOS Review Crew thought here.

I was sent a complimentary package in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

American Girl Club - Josefina & The MCA!

Alright, I know...I'm a bit behind with the American Girl Club - MCA (masculine club of awesomeness - for those who haven't met our "secret boys club") posts. Let me catch you up!  We moved from Felicity into Josefina in January.  Here's a recap of our projects:

Cardboard Weaving:

Our favorite: Rebozos!

They had so much fun with the Rebozos.  They wore them everywhere, for days!

Cornhusk Flowers and Painted Flowerpots:

So glad we did this one at Lani's house!

 Simple to make, and beautiful too! Dyed cornhusk flowers!

Glass bead necklaces and butterfly hair clips.  Josefina had to look nice, didn't she?

And, our Memory Books.  A great place to keep our favorite memory verses, autographs, and pictures.  We used melted wax and craft paper to make "oil paper" covers. 

But, this semester really belonged to the MCA - Fundraising Garage Sale!

 After reading the book "Do Hard Things" - our boys decided they wanted to DO HARD THINGS!  So, with a little guidance (and alot of donations) they organized a fundraising garage sale that raised over $2,000 to send one of our families to Haiti this summer on a mission trip.  They planned, promoted and worked very hard.  What a huge blessing to see what God can do with our "junk" - he turned it into an eternal blessing - and taught our MCA they can do someting HARD for God - no matter how old (or young) they are.

Here's a couple of highlights from the sale!

Advertising Specialists (not afraid to be silly to get the people to stop!)

 Here are the Survival Bracelet salespeople.  The MCA made and sold these bracelets all spring as well to raise money for the "Send Hope to Haiti" fundraiser!

 So many great learning lessons took place, even how to make and count change!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

StoryBuilder App by Mobile Education Store

StoryBuilder App

I know, you can't believe it's come to this...I finally got my iPhone - and shortly after - I'm reviewing educational apps...you had to know this was coming!!

The learning possibilities with apps are endless, you are going to want to get "on board" and get your own "iDevice" soon, trust me.  You can use this type of learning anywhere, what a great way to keep them occupied (and learning) while you're on the run this summer!

I'm excited to introduce you to StoryBuilder by Mobile Education Store.  You can download it from iTunes for just $5.99.  It works on your - iTouch (4th gen.),  iPhone or iPad (next on my technology wish list).

This is from their description:

"Story Builder is designed to help children accomplish the following educational goals:
 1) Improve paragraph formation 
 2) Improve integration of ideas
 3) Improve higher level abstractions by inference.
  Extensive use of audio clips promotes improved auditory processing for special needs children with autism spectrum disorders or sensory processing disorders.

Story Builder offers a rich and fun environment for improving the ability to create a narrative."

-Record feature allows students to record narrative in their own voice
-3 levels of play
-Simple and intuitive interface to record narrative
-Recorded answers are stitched together to create complete narrative
-50 distinct story lines to create narrative from
-500 audio clips of questions to guide narrative
-Optional question text and answer introduction reinforcement
-Email recorded stories

The Bentz Test Laboratory has not put this one down... I want my phone back!  But seriously, this app has had a huge appeal across the ages in our test laboratory (ages 6-14).  They are loving creating their stories and then playing them back for the others, seeing who can make the best story.

This app has accomplished what the pencil and paper couldn't - they are enjoying creating stories.  By taking the "hard" work of writing - the pencil and paper part, and letting them go wild with their imaginations!
There are 3 levels of play:

Level One - There are asked 4 questions about a picture on the screen.
Level Two - There are 7 questions that require them to make inferences about what happened before and after the picture on the screen.
Level Three - There are no questions, you get to make up your own story.

They can even email their recorded stories.  I'm not sure if the world is quite ready to hear them yet...they tend to get a little "silly", if you know what I mean.

But, they are having fun - and they are learning (even though they don't realize it...).  The app requires them to answer in complete sentences - otherwise, their story won't make sense.  WOW!  I've been trying to get "complete sentence answers" all year, and all I really needed was an app?!  That's effective learning, if you ask me!

See what other TOS Crew Members thought here

I was sent a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest opinion as part of the TOS Review Crew.