Other Products: Classroom Kits, Homeschool Kits, Family Kits, Kids' Church Kits, and the individual pieces from the kits
Ages/grades suggested for: Early Childhood through elementary
Who can use it? This product is very versatile. It works great for homeschoolers (secular or religious). It also works great for Children's Church and would make a great addition to any Sunday School class from toddler through late elementary school. It even works great for public school classrooms. They have a secular version with quotes instead of Bible verses to allow it to work in any setting!
What problem does this product solve (quoted from the publisher's site):
Let's be honest, instilling virtues is hard work! But can it be fun too? We think so. In fact, there's no better way to learn. So We Choose Virtues brings memorable catchphrases, endearing characters, and just plain fun to Simply Inspire Character that Lasts.
How will this product help solve that problem (quoted from the publisher's site):
We Choose Virtues is: Simple. It is based on clear and positive language that everyone can learn together
We Choose Virtues is Inspiring. It is teaching by demonstration and learning through practice
We Choose Virtues is about Character...more than attitudes or actions, it is who you are when no one is watching
We Choose Virtues Lasts. It creates an internal standard in each person and transformers the culture of your home or classroom
I've said before, it's not just the math, science, and grammar that I want to teach my kids. I want to provide them a moral foundation and help them to become thoughtful and kind children of God. Looking for tools to train their hearts, I came across Heather & Elton McMillan's company, We Choose Virtues about a year ago. Their kits and products exactly matched one aspect for which I was looking. Outlining the good qualities or "virtues" I wanted my children to internalize. The We Choose Virtues Virtue Flash Cards gave name to the ethereal qualities I was struggling to give name to: kindness, obedience, diligence, honesty, helpfulness, and all the others.
I will admit, I found the program right after I had spent my entire curriculum budget last year. Ever since, I have been squirreling away my pennies to afford the big homeschool kit which is $98.99. When we had a conference call with Heather at the beginning of our review period, she brought up some great points. You do not need the $100 kit to get started. Although the kit is wonderful and in my opinion well worth the money, I should never have let that hurdle hold me back. Our family has gotten a great start with the We Choose Virtues program with the materials I listed above (around $23.00). Don't get me wrong, I'm buying the rest of it as soon as my budget resets for next school year, but with $25-$30 your family can make a positive change in behavior, attitude, and thoughtfulness towards each other.
We started the program with the Family Character Assessment. Each of us sat down with a copy (even the adults) and rated our virtues on a scale of 1 to 10. Then we went around the table discussing whether the rest of us agreed with the numbers we each had chosen. Some of us had very HIGH opinions of our virtuous characteristics...VERY HIGH. So high that I pulled out the "Honesty" card and read it very slowly, just for fun to the table at large. An honest discussion began at that point, and the page of mostly 10's began to look more like a mixture of 4's, 5's, 8's and 9's.
Using those Character Assessments, we began to talk first about The Three Rules: Obey, Be Kind, Be a Helper. Once we focused on those for a week or two, we began to study a virtue each week. We have only made it to the second virtue at this point, but in theory after about 12-14 weeks, we will have studied each virtue. We have had to review those first two already more than once or twice. The system allows for that very well. Whenever we see someone who needs work on a virtue, we pull them aside and reinforce the message on the card. Within 100 days, hopefully we can affect a great change in our children. The kids by the end of the week can usually repeat the catch phrases on the cards verbatim. When it is time to discuss a problem, we discuss the phrase or the character or the bible verse instead of just telling the kid exactly what they were doing wrong, hopefully they can begin to gain self mastery their behavior.
Here are the kids coloring the Kids of Virtueville Coloring Pages:
The cards have such memorable characters, along with a rhyming little saying on the back. It also includes a bible verse, however for people who are looking for a secular program, they offer them in multiple versions (KJV, NIV, Secular/Public School). Oboe Joe is Obedient, Cake Jake is Content. The rhymes and catchy phrases lend themselves to memorization and memorization lends itself to internalization. Cake Jake is content. I have my "wanter" under control. When the kids begin listing the things they think their lives are missing, I just have to ask them about their "wanter" and they examine their behavior.
The Teacher's Handbook lays out the system in exquisite detail. It has ideas for classroom setting but most ideas easily adapt to the home. It explains how you can use the system for any age from toddlers up through late elementary. There are hints and tips and step-by-step directions. It explains how the system can work in simply 10 minutes a day plus gentle reminders throughout the day. Mrs. McMillan, during our conference call, even told us the company is working on a program for Middle School and High School age kids as well. Although my almost 12-year-old was a good sport about it, he was hoping for something more challenging than coloring pages.
The Teacher's Handbook PDF
I printed mine 2-up on a page.
What did Mom think of the program?
It's probably not a surprise, but I love it. I'm definitely ordering the Teacher Cards or the Parenting Cards (they come with the background stories for the characters) and the Three Rules poster. I'd like to get the 100 Days of Virtue Achievement Chart as well or the mini posters.
I would love to see books written about the characters that you could read to the kids during the week as you teach the virtue. I very excited for the eventual release of the program for the older kids.
What would I change?
As I said, I would love a little more depth. Books, more in depth activities, more stories with the characters, even cartoons would be awesome!
A homeschool specific handbook would help. The teacher book is amazing, it has so many ideas for the classroom but sometimes those dynamics are very difficult to apply to siblings who have been at war all week over a broken Lego castle or a headless Monster High Doll.
What did Emma (8) think about the program?
I like it a lot, it's really fun. The little sayings make it easy to remember what you should do. The characters are funny and I'd like to know more of their story.
What did Matthew (11) think about the program?
We're not very far into it, but I had a pretty good time. I like how you can pick a virtue and start working on it. It gives names to the things I need work on. Sometimes Mom saying "You need to do better" is very confusing, but when Mom says "You can do it, even when it's tough!" I know I need to work on being Perseverant.
And best of all, they gave me a discount code to share with my readers!!! Two discount codes actually:
#1: If you homeschool and are interested in buying the Homeschool Kit, you can use the code:
through the end of April 2013 and get a 20% discount on the Homeschool Kit.
#2: For any of their other great products, We Choose Virtues has given me the code:
to share with my readers. It will take 15% off your total purchase of any of their great products.
The kids reading the backs of the virtue cards deciding
which virtue we'll work on next week.
Homeschool teacher, public school teacher, daycare teacher, Sunday School teacher or even just parent of kids, this system is simple to implement and has the potential to help you raise more virtuous kids. Check it out at the links above and go to Mosaic Reviews after April 2nd to get a medley of perspectives from my other blogging review team members. They all have some wonderful thoughts on these products!