TOS Crew: Bonnie Terry Learning!

TOS Crew

When it was announced that the TOS Crew would be getting “Bonnie Terry” products, there was a burst of excitement from Crew members.

Sometimes I think I must have been living under a rock! I hadn’t heard of Bonnie Terry Learning before.

We received a learning game called The Sentence Zone, and a quick reference, the Writer’s Easy Reference Guide.

The Sentence Zone

The Sentence Zone game reminds me of a game I made up for our eldest when I first started homeschooling, only much, much more.

She was having trouble grasping parts of speech, so I used colored index cards and began putting words on them, using one color for nouns and another for verbs, two more colors for adjectives and adverbs, and plain white cards cut in half for articles (a, an, the). We wrote down all the words we could think of, to start, and added more as we went along.

The Sentence Zone is built along the same idea, except that with this set you have twelve parts of speech plus punctuation and capital letters! An instruction sheet offers game rules and suggestions plus a list of scores.

Color-coded manipulatives

Youngest and I sorted out all the cards into the various color stacks, talking about the parts of speech as we encountered them. Thus we learned about coordinating conjunctions and subordinating conjunctions, along with the basic nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, articles, and more.

Then we began to play, building simple sentences and talking about subjects and predicates. I was building simple sentences, while Youngest was inspired, creating long, intricate, and grammatically elegant sentences, all the while discussing what kinds of words she was using. (“I need a coordinating conjunction now…”)

Middlest, a rising wordsmith, heard what we were doing and joined in. The competitive sort, she looked at the score sheet and her eyes lit up. She set out to build the longest, most complex sentence she could imagine. I think she’d have used every one of the more than 700 word cards if she could have! When she was finished, she had 139 points and something like this (gaps are intentional, showing how she added suffixes and punctuation):

When both pretty , black dragon s cut the barrier bridge, John ran fast and call ed quickly , “Ah-h-h! Stop! Help! Wait ! Don’t hold the dinosaur so conceal ing ly ! ” as the terrific basket jolt ed down near the cold river .

I think we’ll be playing more games with The Sentence Zone, as this word-wise student is great at picking words but hasn’t much of a clue about parts of speech. After her little sister and I had played only a few rounds, Little Sister was advising on what piles to search through for words. “Dragon, that’s a noun, look in the dark blue pile. Call is a verb…”

Youngest, too, is enjoying the game, along with the novelty of knowing more than her older sister about something!

Suited to learners young and old

You can use The Sentence Zone with very young children, using the most basic building blocks (articles, nouns, verbs) to come up with the simplest of sentences and adding more categories (adjectives, adverbs) as they grow more confident.

With so many cards there’s sure to be something to interest everyone, but if you want to add new words (such as a pet’s name) you can write more words on the backs of the colored cards, or cut out cards from construction paper or cardstock of the right category color.

I had to warn our girls to have clean hands while playing. Someone (name witheld for obvious reasons) was eating potato chips and touched a card or two before I sent her to wash her hands, so we have a couple of cards with grease spots. Aargh.

The Sentence Zone is available from Bonnie Terry Learning for $59.00.

If the price is a little spendy for your family, you might think about buying a set with a friend or two, and pass it around or use the game when you get together for a little educational fun. It would make a fun co-op game, trying to see who can come up with the longest or wackiest sentence.

Reference Packs

Bonnie Terry Learning also offers Reference Packs to help you teach your children the basics in math and writing. These also serve as convenient tools that your student can refer back to whenever needed.

Writer’s Easy Reference Guide

We received the Writer’s Easy Reference Guide. Suited to use from elementary through college (yes, really!), this guide goes from the simplest writing facts (types of sentences, from simple to compound-complex) through the “hamburger” paragraph and essay. There’s a quick reference list that details the steps in the writing process, word banks to enrich your use of vocabulary, prefixes, suffixes, root words, prepositions, and more. You’ll find capitalization and punctuation rules (rather abbreviated, but enough for a reminder for someone who understands usage), glossaries of literary and grammatical terms. Advanced writing tips are presented along with brief descriptions of the four basic essays, and there’s a page devoted to MLA-style citations.

It’s amazing how much information is summarized in eight pages. The guide is printed on sturdy heavyweight paper and three-hole punched to fit neatly into a binder.

The second component of the Reference Guides set is a math reference, containing information on all the basics covered in elementary school, that a student needs to know before tackling algebra and higher math. I haven’t seen this guide, but if it’s anything like the Writer’s Easy Reference Guide it’s a lot of useful information presented in a brief, quick-to-reference format.

One set of Reference Packs is currently selling at the Bonnie Terry Learning website for $30.65.

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