Monday, February 29, 2016

Faith Builders Bible from Zonderkidz : A TOS Crew Review

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

Faith Builders Bible from Zonderkidz
Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}
Yeah -  A Bible for your brick-building enthusiasts!   The Faith Builders Bible from Zonderkidz is written in NIrV (New International Readers’ Version) translation with an approximatel third grade reading level.  This is a very reader friendly version, based on the NIV, for your elementary age students.

I had planned that my 9 year old son would get to be our tester for this one.  However, when the package arrived... a 8 year old sister claimed it!  

It is a bright, quality Bible. What makes it truly special are the 24 full color brick built scenes for the Bible stories with a “building block verse” highlighted.  

My tester was immediately sucked into looking through the entire Bible to see the pictures.  She was also thrilled to finally have a "big kids Bible" that was the actual, real, full Bible and not just a collection of stories.  

I like that there are the pictures that capture her interest, but that they are relatively few.  It captures interest, but lets the Bible text be the main focus.  

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}
Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

This Bible has been constantly with her (maybe she's afraid her brother will get his hands on it, and she'll lose it).  She took it to Sunday school class this week - where it was also a BIG hit.  Everyone wanted to see it.

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

The Bible is a sturdy hardcover edition.  The pictures are very well done and printed on thicker paper.  The rest of the pages are the usual "Bible page"on thinner paper.  Our Pastor always says "I just love the sound of "Bible Flutter"  (the sound of those thin pages being turned)  me too!   

In the front, there is a great illustration of all the books of the Bible on building bricks, color coded by the type of book - law, history, poetry, major prophets, minor prophets, gospels, church history, letters & prophecy- a great way to visualize this.  The Bible also contains a dictionary and a list of "Great Bible Stories" in the back.  

The brick scenes have been inspiring her to create some of her own...if only her brother will share his bricks!  They're working on a mutually beneficial deal to share the Bible and the bricks :-)

I'm so glad she is spending time with this new treasure.  This is a great first Bible!

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Hashtags: #HSReview #FaithBuilding #Bible #NIrV

Faith Builders Bible {Zonderkidz Review}

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Archery Dice from SimplyFun: A TOS Crew Review

SimplyFun Review

Archery Dice from SimplyFun

SimplyFun Review

The Bentz Test Laboratory LOVES games!  We are excited to introduce a new one - Archery Dice from SimplyFun

 SimplyFun's mission states they want the  "... experience of laughing together, connecting together and the joy of being with each other. It is more than just playing a game, it is a lifestyle that you choose as a family that builds strong bonds and creates memories that last a lifetime" - what a perfect way to sum up playing games together as a family!

Archery Dice - $26 - is an easy to play game, designed for ages 7 and up.  2-4 players can play, and it takes only 15 minutes!  It is made of quality materials, and comes packaged in a sturdy box.  

The game includes 16 targets, 12 dice (3 of each color), 4 wood disks, and a colorful instruction booklet.  

I got my testers right on this one - 4 sons ages 9-18...and ALL BOY :-)  I figured they were the perfect competitors to give it a try.  Right away,  I noticed this is a game that appeals to multiple ages well.  Many games are either way to complex with complicated rules and strategy, or far too simplistic to keep all my boys engaged.  Archery Dice was different.  There is strategy and skill required (keeps my older testers in it) and it's simple enough to play that even my youngest can compete. Score one for Archery Dice!

It took just a few minutes to read the clear and colorful instructions.  The set up is equally quick and easy, and they were off and playing.

The goal of the game is simple - everyone flicks their 3 dice at a target (each player has their own color).  Whoever lands on the target, closest to the bulls eye with the highest number on the dice - wins the target. You play in rounds with the goal to win four targets.
 To keep it even more interesting, after the first round, players can move your dice with theirs, or knock over your dice stack to lose a turn, or even steal your target.   The twists make you keep your eyes open!  The more you play, the better you get at flicking the dice as well.

The basic skills of this game include strategy, and eye-hand coordination.  Within a few flicks - they were mastering both skills. 

My sons loved this!  They were actually "allowed"  to send the dice flying (which is usually discouraged...) and they were engaged in friendly brotherly battle.  

I highly recommend checking out SimplyFun - other members of the Crew played  one of their new games - The Climbing Knights (Looks like a fun one!)

Find SimplyFun on Social Media:

Instagram: @SimplyFun

See what other members of the Crew thought here

SimplyFun Review
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pro Plan from A TOS Crew Review

HelpTeaching Review
Pro Plan from

Pro Plan from is an homeschooling parent's dream online resource!  This easy to use site offers customizable tests, printable worksheets, on-line lessons, games and more for students in grades K-12.    

With 8 students in grade 1st - 12th,  I was delighted to get a chance to explore the Pro Plan for myself! does offer a "member" level  - you can give a try for free.  I'm pretty sure that you will want to upgrade the very affordable $24.95 per year for all the amazing benefits that are included in Pro Plan, including unlimited on-line tests!

I find it more of a challenge to find appropriate add-ons, tests and supplemental learning activities for my middle and high school students.  The internet seems to offer many resources for elementary students, but not as many reliable options for my upper level students.  Pro Plan to my rescue! 

HelpTeaching ReviewThe site is very easy to use, and everything is arranged by subject and grade level.  I found On-line Lessons in many science topics (biology and chemistry this year...yikes!) , mathematics, and English Language Arts for my older students to do "self-directed online learning". Many included video instruction components that are from well known sites such as Khan Academy, Bozeman, and - with links for additional research as well as worksheets & tests.  In addition to the basics - I found wonderful resources to use with art, music, life skills, history, geography and more!  

HelpTeaching ReviewA fun option for me was to "assign" the lesson  to one of my students - they are invited via email to complete the lesson.  This site allows you to created a PDF which you can save and print lessons/tests as well.   My homeschooled students thought it was "cool" to get emails from mom with their lesson.   :-) 

The Printable Worksheets are organized conveniently by topic and grade.  In the English-Language Arts section - I discovered a treasure of literature-based tests for many of the books we are reading this year!  Bonanza - no having to read the book before them and create a test.  Pro Plan had it all done for me.  And,  my students can even take the test online!  Study Skills, graphic organizers, art, music and even PE!  You can truly find a test or worksheet for any topic you choose.   

HelpTeaching ReviewHelpTeaching Review

HelpTeaching ReviewHelpTeaching Review

The Test Creator section is worth your investment alone!  You can custom create tests for you students on any topic.  You can choose T/F, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank and open ended formats. Pro Plan allows you to create tests with up to 100 questions (the free version only allows 10 question tests)  They can be printed, scheduled or taken online. They even offer helpful tips for making good tests in this section!

 If you don't feel ready to create your own - you can browse by subject many that have been created, and simply customize them. What a TIME SAVER for the busy homeschool mom!  

The Game Maker section allows you to make customized bingo cards and word searches.  I created some bingo games for my daughter's middle school science class with vocabulary - it was a huge hit at Co-op day!
HelpTeaching Review

This is one of those resources that you will go to over and over again.   You need to check this one out!

Find on Social Media:




Twitter:  @helpteaching   #HSReviews #printableworksheets #onlinelessons #readinglessons

See what other members of the Crew thought here

HelpTeaching Review

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Have a Fiesta of Fun!

I absolutely LOVE La Clase Divertida - the Fun Class Spanish!

We have been using this program over and over, since the beginning.  This is not a sponsored product review - I actually purchased this one way back in the early years of homeschooling... and we're still big fans! I just can't not tell you about it!

One of the best parts of this video based program, is the crafts and cooking.  Since, this wasn't our first rodeo with Level one,  we decided to save the crafts for a "Fiesta of Fun" and have a craft day...instead of messes all semester long (here's where you can see I've been homeschooling awhile...messes can make me crazy!)

My sweet little hijas had a blast creating - and I only had to clean up once :-)  Senior Gamache, the teacher - makes it all very easy for you.  Everything you need to complete the crafts comes in each student kit.

There are 3 levels available.  My children have learned a ton of spanish, and had fun too!

 When you get yours...tell Senior Gamache I sent you!  (I'm his top selling, volunteer salesperson at homeschool conventions :-)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections from Home School in the Woods: A TOS Crew Review

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review
U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections from Home School in the Woods

Yeah!!  It's time for my first TOS Crew Review of my 6th year!! did those years fly by??

I'm super excited about this one!!  HISTORY Through the Ages Hands-on History Lap-Pak: U.S. Elections from Home School in the Woods is perfectly timed to help you and your students understand the crucial times we are living in... it's a PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR! (did I mention my oldest is actually voting this time?)

This downloadable Lap-Pak - $18.95 (or available on CD -$19.95)  will guide you through 21 projects to create your very own Lapbook covering the presidential election process.  It's designed with students in grades 3-8 in mind.  However,  I have been using this with my students in grades 1 - 12! From the definition of "election", learning the the history of our representative government and every step along the campaign trail, this lap book is the BEST comprehensive study on our US election process I have ever found!  

The Downloadable kit includes everything you need to print to complete the activities, as well as, full audio recordings (great for independent  or auditory students), detailed instructions, a comprehensive 24 page study guide, and suggestions for books and websites you can add to your study.  Additional supplies are minimal...just a couple of file folders, glue and some colored pencils.  You can check out a detailed scope and sequence to see the topics covered.

Having been a HUGE fan of Home School in the Woods, I knew that I would need to spend some time getting organized before starting.  They make it very easy!!  You do need to spend time printing the pages you'll need for the activities.  I decided the best way was to print everything we needed up front, but you could easily print it as you go. Other than the printing, they have done all the work for you - all the information you need to teach is right there, included in the study guide.  All you have to do is dive right in.

Since I wanted to do this with all my children (8 of them!!  Grades 1-12...) We created a SINGLE lapbook  (instead of 8) and used it as a visual as we worked through each of the activities in our study.

This worked very well for us!   I enlisted help with coloring the mini-books and gluing, cutting, and assembly so that everyone got to play a part.

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

Once everything was printed, and the lapbook was assembled, we used this study in our "all together" time each day.  We jumped in and explored each of the sections together at the start of each day. Each section is short, we easily covered a couple of sections each morning.  

I will say... I am beyond impressed with the depth of the information.  This isn't just a "crafty" or "busy work" type study for your creative kiddos.  This is a study that has enough meaty learning in it for even your highschoolers!  (I have to admit - my high school boys had zero interest in helping create the lapbook, but they were very excited about the study)  For the first time in my life...I actually know the difference between a caucus and a primary!

Creating the lapbook was not only fun - it gave us a wonderful reminder of our study as well.  It is much more memorable than a dusty textbook any day. 

This would make an excellent project for Co-op learning too. Many of the activities sparked an interesting discussions that lead to my older children completing additional outside research as well.  

I definitely recommend this study for the whole family. Take advantage of all the election media frenzy this year and get your kids involved!

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Twitter:  @HSintheWoods #HSReviews #HistoryUnitStudies #HomeschoolHistory

U.S. Elections History Lap-Pak  Review

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Making the World More Beautiful

This week's literature book - Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

We made our very own oil pastel (more fun than plain old crayons) masterpieces!  Our motto for the day "Make the World more Beautiful!"

Friday, February 12, 2016

My Love/Hate Update

Many years of the dreaded "love/hate" with the Valentine's Day boxes! But,  sniff..sniff..  I't almost over!  cheers..

Finally, after years of agony the week of Valentine's,  the paper mache, the paint, the glitter, the mess... the stress of coming up with EIGHT, original, award-winning Valentine's boxes....

This year is the year of  JUBILIEE!   My oldest daughter completely created the ONLY TWO Valentine's boxes needed for!!

Presenting -

The Rocket  and the Gnome  :-)

Monday, February 8, 2016

IF:Gathering 2016

Friends - please find some time and watch some of IF:Gathering today - it's free through midnight. 

Look in "Archives" - session 4 - David Platt is a life changing message! "When will unreached people become intolerable in our churches?"  

Session 3 (look for the beautiful sari) will impact your heart in a whole new way!  IJM is an amazing organization that you will want to get involved with.  

 Trust me, it's worth the investment of some time - better yet, share it with your family too!! LIVE.IFGATHERING.COM

We exist to gather, equip and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose.

Southern Snowmen

I realized that my poor southern children do NOT get to make snowmen!  So,  I discovered this adorable idea and we made our own "Southern Snowmen".

All you need:

  • A jar (we used canning jars - pint size)
  • Fiber filling
  • Buttons for eyes and "buttons"
  • orange nose (ours was felt, but you could use craft foam or even paper...)
  • Sticks for the arms

Simply stuff your jar, slide in your buttons, nose and arms, and close!  No mess - no melting.

We read this fun book - "Snowmen at Night" about what snowmen do at night that leaves them looking worn down come morning.