Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: We Choose Virtues

A couple of years ago, we had the opportunity to review a product from We Choose Virtues. We also used We Choose Virtues products for circle time last year. One of the products that I REALLY wanted to order to use last year, but didn't, was their Parenting Cards. So when we had the chance to review the parenting cards this spring, I jumped at the chance!

I'd been planning to revisit the virtues this fall anyway, so we just bumped that forward a few months to be able to use, and review, the Parenting Cards.

We chose the NIrV version of the parenting cards (there is also a KJV version, which uses all OT texts). In addition to the parenting cards, We Choose Virtues also generously gave us the WCV Download Bundle.

We Choose Virtues was developed by Heather McMillan, a preschool teacher, children's pastor, and mom. This system presents 3 "rules", with 3 additional virtues that fall into each of these 3 rules, for a total of 12 virtues. Awhile back I created a simple "poster" to help my older girls (who can read) remember these rules, and what they include. It hangs on the slanted ceiling of our school room. I love that these 3 simple rules (Be Kind, Obey, Be a Helper) pretty much cover any "behavioral issue" we might encounter. 

The Parenting Cards ($38.49) are, perhaps, the "key" product for using We Choose Virtues in a home/homeschool. There is a card for each of the 12 virtues. The front includes a bright picture of the "mascot" (of sorts) for that virtues. It includes the easy-to-memorize saying that goes with that virtue, and a memory verse.

The back of the card includes pretty much everything else you need to teach that virtue. It includes suggested "teachable moments", the "Kids of VirtueVille" story for that virtue, a "challenge" for that virtue, etc.

The Download Bundle ($7.99) includes downloadable versions of the Teacher's Handbook, Family Character Assessment, Coloring Pages, Butterfly Awards and Sing-along-Song sheets.

The Teacher's Handbook is very complete, giving lots of ideas for teaching the virtues, the theory behind it, etc. It is written for teachers in a classroom setting, but is pretty easy to translate to a home environment. The website suggests, not printing this because it's rather HUGE :)

The Family Character Assessment is a free downloadable checklist to determine how well each of us is doing at practicing the virtues we've learned, and/or to determine which virtue(s) we need to work on the most.

The Kids of VirtueVille Coloring Pages is a coloring page, of the kid that goes with each virtue. This is Little Bit's favorite part and I have to admit, I find these coloring pages rather addictive myself :)

The Butterfly Awards are printable award certificates that praise the children for "turning from caterpillars into butterflies" by using their virtues.

And finally, the Sing-Along Virtue Songs uses well known tunes like "B-I-N-G-O" and provides words that help the child remember the saying for that virtue.

I would add one more product that we weren't specifically given for this review, but it's a free download on the WCV site.  The Memory Verses, Bible Heroes and Truths download provides the Bible verse listed on the parent cards, but also includes a Bible story that illustrates the virtue.

So how did we use all of this? Well, this time around we used things a little bit differently because we had just gone through the virtues recently, so we mostly focused on review, and the challenges, so I'm going to share how I think I would use all of the above the first time through. (this is basically what we did last fall, adapted and improved to use the products that I didn't have at that time, primarily the Parent Cards).

Focus on one virtue per week. I like to focus on the 3 "main" ones first (Be Kind, Obey, Be Helpful), and then we "flesh out" those main rules by learning about the other virtues. Another option would be to use the Family Character Assessment to determine which virtues your family needs to work on the most, and focus on those first, or perhaps set your children up for success by focusing on the "easiest" ones first. Once you've decided which virtue to focus on:

Day 1: Introduce the parent card, say the saying for that virtue, and the memory verse. Hang the Parent Card where the children will see it. Sing the song for that virtue together (I was able to find "karaoke" type you tube videos for all of the tunes, just make sure if your child can read, that you don't show them the screen since the words won't match).  Read the "Kids of Virtueville" story from the back of the parent card.  You may decide to present the week's challenge (also on the back of the parent card) at the beginning of the week and remind/work on the challenge all week, or wait until you've spent a week learning about the virtue, and then present the challenge for this virtue, to be completed the next week).

Day 2: Review the saying, memory verse and song.  Read the Bible story from the "Bible Heroes" download, either directly from the Bible, using the texts listed, or from a Story Bible, depending on the age of your child(ren) and the story. Discuss how this story relates to the week's virtue.

Day 3 - 5: Review the saying, memory verse and song each day. Choose a short activity, or story for each day. There are some suggestions in the teachable moments section on the back of the Parent Card. You can also find lots of great ideas on the WCV Pinterest boards. I also just went through the books that we have, and, when I was running short on ideas, usually doing an internet search for "stories about kindness" (or whatever virtue you're studying) would bring up additional ideas. We also colored the picture each week, if there was one story that was longer, I'd give the children the picture to color while I read the longer story, otherwise I'd generally give it to them on day 2, while I read the Bible story and they would continue to color parts of it each day while I read the day's story, until they completed it.

I used the Butterfly Awards as a "reward" for completing the challenge. It could also be given to a child who you notice doing particularly well at demonstrating a virtue, either the current week's or one you've previously learned about. My older girls kind of rolled their eyes, but Little Bit liked hanging her's on the white board :)

One of the main things we did with this product during the review period was to focus on the challenges. My personal favorite was the "I am Helpful" challenge that encouraged the children to find 5 things to do without being asked. The big girls rolled their eyes abit ("Right, mom, you just want us to do more chores!" After I showed them that the card really did say that, they couldn't say much LOL), but Little Bit really got into it, and it was adorable to see her figuring out ways to help without being asked :)

The recommended age range for these products is age 3-11. I first used these products with Little Bit when she was 4, and she enjoyed them, the twins are now 11 and think they are "too old" for such things, so at least for my children, I would put a top age more in the range of age 9, however since we've used the products when they were younger, I can still refer back to the rules/virtues as being how we do things in our family and continue to use the products in that way with them.

Connect with We Choose Virtues on Facebook, Pinterest, and their Blog.

We Choose Virtues has the following promotion for the months of June to August:
Promo Code BTS20 for 20% off anything in our WCV Store. Welcome Back To School! Only one promo code per order
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