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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We Choose Virtues - Review

This is the second time we have gotten to review a We Choose Virtues product.  The first time we got to try the We Choose Virtues Clue Cards.

This time around, we got to try out the NIrV  Parenting Cards plus a download bundle. (Teacher Manual, Family Character Assessment, Sing Along, Butterfly Award,  Kids of Virtueville coloring book)  You can also get these in the King James Version which uses only Old Testament verses for inspiration.

I loved the clue cards we got to use last time around....but we were sort of hard of them.  They are small and easy to bend and lose.....which we did.

The Parenting Cards are much bigger.  A smidgen over 5 x 8.

The whole premise of the We Choose Virtues product is building "character" for ages 3 to 18. This product was designed for kids in the early elementary years. ....3 to 11 or so.  (I will tell you that we had some success in our kids and maybe a grown up too.... that were well beyond the early elementary years...more on that later!)

The Teacher Handbook that came as a download with the physical cards, starts out with this...

Are you ready to make moral courage as important as physical courage?

Think about that one question for a bit and let it sink in.

Moral courage is hard.

Physical courage is hard too, but usually when you are trying to have physical courage, there are people there cheering you on and telling you that you can do it.  Like, ride that scary roller coaster or to jump into the pool without floaties for the first time.  There are encouragers and when you succeed, there is much celebration  and woo-hooing!

Now, think about having moral courage.

Where are the cheerleaders?

Where are the encouragers?

Where is the celebration when you do the right thing?


That is why I think moral courage and doing the right thing....just because it is the right harder than physical courage/bravery.

We Choose Virtues helps parents (and teachers) start encouraging moral courage while we are young.  They make it really easy to get started through the Teacher's Manual with 4 easy steps.

1.  Expect Excellence
2.  Explain with Enthusiasm
3.  Emphasize Everyday
4.  Examine Everyday

The author, Heather McMillian, goes quickly and easily through the concept behind the cards, how to introduce them to your children, and how to reinforce the lessons you are trying to teach them.  The Teacher's Manual is definitely written more for a typical classroom type setting, but as a homeschooler, or just a parent, I could easily adapt the concepts and activities to work for us as a family.

Before we began, I printed out the Family Character Assessment sheet, where you basically assess yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 for each character trait.  For example, for Self Control, you would grade yourself on the scale between "I am wild, rowdy, disorderly, I expect others to control me, I am bossy towards others" and "I make myself do the right thing."

My original intent was to fill one out for each child....but after reading through them, I decided I had a pretty good idea, as their mom, which traits my little people needed to work on.  I was also a little afraid that they would be overwhelmed by the assessment and come away feeling like they were horrible people.

So, I just used it as a scale to remind me of what kinds of behaviors were my goal for them....which, in turn, would become their personal goals.

I went a little off book from the Teacher's Manual.  (Yes, I am sure you are shocked!)

The manual recommended focusing on one word a day, as a team...or class.  I decided to take a more individualized approach....but together as a team.

So, I picked a word for each of my 3 littles and we read through the card and talked about it and I gave examples of what the word meant to them....but the other 2 were also sitting there listening to the word I had chosen for the others.

Make sense?

I was a little nervous about this way, because I didn't want it to end up being a way they could bully each other about what words I picked for them.  But, I didn't need to worry.  They actually helped me with examples of each word and even if they helped point out that their brother or sister wasn't using their "word", it was always done in a nice way.  (At least in front of me....)

The Teacher's Manual gave a lot of ideas for activities you could do to really reinforce the concepts of We Choose Virtues.  I found that our everyday life and activities gave us plenty of ways to reinforce the concepts.  But, the ideas were good ones, if you don't happen to have a houseful of kids!

Some of the downloaded material, I didn't use right away.  We used the coloring book and I used the Family Character Assessment.  I would have used the sing alongs if it wasn't Vacation Bible School time around here....I didn't want too many songs bouncing around in my head.  But, it is a cute idea....they have words that you sing to the music of other songs to help solidify the concepts in your head.  The Butterfly Award is just that a certificate you could give when you child really masters the character trait.

Okay, so how about these cards, huh?

The front of the card is intended for your student and the back is intended for the teacher.

Here is an example:

I would just read this aloud to whichever child I felt needed to work on this particular virtue, then hand it over to them to review.  (In this case, it was A-girl and her desire for more clothes, shoes, jewelry...  Emoji)

The back of the card shows this:

I liked the "What to say after I'm sorry"  and the teachable moments sections the most.

The Virtue User Challenge can get a little competitive.  Like the example on this one, is to challenge your entire family to try to go a whole day without saying "I want" or  "I am bored".

Honestly, the whole family got into trouble with this one recently when our little baby cousin came for a visit.

(How can you resist that little smoochable face?!?!?)

I started our downward spiral into being greedy and whiny.....with my declaration.....  "I want a baby!"  The kids all quickly agreed with me and Rainman, well.....he just smiled his secret little smile.  I took them all down with me!

Actually, it was an interesting moment for me, when I realized that my declaration about wanting a baby was an example of not being content.  Although the inspiration verse wasn't super me....

Psalms 131:2  I have made myself calm and content like a young child in it's mother's arms.  Deep down inside me, I am as content as a young child.

See why that particular word picture wasn't the most helpful?

.....content like a young child in it's mother's content as a a young child.....  Emoji

But, it did make for a good conversation between the kids and I.  Yes, I still want a baby....or, to be honest, more babies.....plural....but I am working on not being whiny with God.

Pictures like this don't help my cause....

...or like this....

But, it was a good reminder for me as I try to get the kids to work on their "words" that I too have virtues and character traits that I can improve on.

V-girl's word was Obedient.

She wants to be such an independent person that she struggles to do what I say....when I say it.  This was the perfect little reminder for her.  If I asked her to do something and she responded with "Just a minute", or "Wait, mom..."  I just had to say, "What is your word?"

She would say, "obedient" and happily run off to do whatever I had asked her.  When we first started this reinforcement, I would say, "What is your word?"  She would say, "Obedient".  Then, she would stand there and think a minute before saying, "What does that mean again?"  We would laugh a bit...I would tell her what it meant and she would trot off to do what I had asked.

The little catchphrase things were the most helpful thing to me on these cards.  The one for Obedient is ..."Okay, whatever you say, I will obey, right away."  She had that one memorized really quickly.

Since S-girl and A-man are older, I had them concentrate on 2 words.

For those of you that know S-girl, I know you will be surprised by these 2 words.  She is naturally a very gentle and kind person....unless you are a sibling that she feels has pushed her too far.  Then she is a raging, punching, bag of pretty little blue-eyed girl.  She really is like a completely different person.

These words gave us a way to discuss this and give her gentle reminders that even though her brothers and sisters are annoying and make her angry, she really does need to treat others how she wants to be treated and not resort to punching when she gets frustrated with them.

A-man's 2 words were....

A-man is a truth spinner. We all know it.  Sometimes we think it is funny.  The problem is it has become a bad habit for him, so that he sometimes can't make himself actually tell the truth.  He doesn't know why.  He wants to tell the truth....he just can't seem to make himself do it the first time.  I loved his Bible verses....because underneath all his bluster and bravado, he has a tender heart that wants to do the right thing....always.

Psalms 34: 12-13  Do you love life and want to see many good days?  Then keep your tongue from speaking evil.  Keep your lips from telling lies.

Romans 8:9  But your sinful nature does not control you.  The Holy Spirit controls you.  The Spirit of God lives in you.  

As with S-girl....these cards and their words were just a gentle reminder for them to pay attention and try harder.

Like I mentioned above, these cards are designed for the early elementary years, but our whole family used them.

J-girl was over the other night and heard me remind one of the littles about their word and she turned to D-man and asked if he had a word too.  We all jokingly threw ideas around for him...Self-Controlled (I am NOT wild, rowdy or disorderly  Emoji ).  Gentle....because....he had just punched/tackled A-man....moments earlier.  But, we settled on Helpful....

(He refused to pose with his card.....Emoji)

We settled on this one because although he is a hard worker and is usually willing to help .... you have to ask.  We settled on this one for him because of the catchphrase and the reminder.

I find things that need to be done and I do them.

I am NOT....selfish, lazy or unwilling to serve, and I don't have to be asked!

L-girl had a combo of:

I Am Kind (like S-girl) and I am Forgiving....which says, "I choose to love when others hurt me"...she has a tendency to retaliate and sometimes even plot a retaliation....or two....or three.

We took the We Choose Virtues cards both lightly and seriously in our family.

We joked and teased about words, but not in a mean or bullying kind of way.  Internally, we all took them very seriously.....even down to V-girl who just needed a gentle reminder about her word every now and then.  Towards the end of the review period, she was reminding me when she was being obedient.....just in case I didn't notice!  I did.

You can get your own set of Parenting Cards for $38.49.  We Choose Virtues is even having a few specials over the next few months....just enter the coupon codes in your order:

MAY-JUNE: *Promo Code BIG50 for 50% off our amazing set of 12 11x17 Kids of VirtueVille Posters! This is the first time we have ever offered these posters at this price. They are great for school classrooms, Kids Church, or your homeschool room. Kids love them for their bedrooms, bathrooms and kids’ hallways.

JUNE-AUGUST: *Promo Code BTS20 for 20% off anything in our WCV Store. This includes any kit. Let’s start School with Virtues this year!  

*Only one promo code per order

Take a look at what other TOS reviewers did with their We Choose Virtues Parenting Cards and download bundle.