Two years ago, I was reading a homeschool message board when I came across what I thought was a brilliant product: We Choose Virtues Character Training Curriculum. It looked simple. It looked fun. It looked easy to teach. I bought a couple of the products and fell in love.
Fast forward to now, and as part of the Mosaic Review Team, I was given the opportunity to do an official review of We Choose Virtues. Of course I was excited, because I already knew I loved the product and could give it a good review! To my surprise (and delight), We Choose Virtues has added a few things since I purchased my products two years ago.
I’ll warn you in advance, this is going to be a positive review. Did I mention yet that I love this curriculum?
About We Choose Virtues
I had the privilege of sitting in on a conference call between We Choose Virtues founder Heather McMillan and the Mosaic Reviews team. Heather is a mom of four kids and runs a Christian school (in Oregon!). We Choose Virtues Character training curriculum was born out of a desire to teach children about good character.
The program consists of several components. I was given the following to review:
- Virtue Flash Cards
- Parenting Cards (I was given one, but they are sold in a set)
- Family Character Assessment (PDF – Free Download)
- Coloring Pages (PDF)
- Butterfly Award (for consistently using a virtue) (PDF)
- Youth List of Virtues, Memory Verses, and Bible Heroes (PDF – Free Download)
- Teacher’s Handbook (PDF)
I also had on hand from my previous purchase the Youth Virtue Poster and an extra set of Virtue Flash Cards.
We Choose Virtues is designed to be used by preschoolers through elementary school students. The Virtue Flash Cards are central to the program. Each card has a cartoon character on the front with the words, “I am *insert name of virtue.*”
On the back of the card is a catch phrase, the antonym of the virtue, and a verse to help kids see why the virtue is important, according to the Bible.
For instance, the front of the Obedient card says, “I am Obedient.” The back contains the following:
- OK, what ever you say, I will obey, right away.
- I am NOT…argumentative, unwilling or slow, and I don’t refuse to do what I’m told.
- Psalm 119:34 – Help me understand your law. Then I will follow it and obey it with all my heart.
The parenting cards contain all of the above on the front of the card plus further questions and activities to help children completely understand and go deeper with the virtues. The Teacher’s Handbook contains additional suggestions for using the program, and the coloring pages and butterfly award reinforce the learning that is taking place.
Our Experience with We Choose Virtues
As I mentioned above, we are not new to We Choose Virtues, though I’ll admit I hadn’t pulled out my Virtue Cards in a while. My Youth Virtue Poster hangs in our dining room/school room for all too see every day.
I decided to use the program with my 4th grader and my two year old. Boo, at 2, is a little young for the program, but I felt she could benefit from learning along with her brother.
We began by taking the Family Character Assessment (free download). We rated ourselves on each virtue. Bug suggested that I rate myself, too, so I did.
Since Bug is in 4th grade, I wanted to give him a little ownership in the program. I let him decide which virtue to work on, and he chose Helpfulness. I was impressed with how honest he was in assessing his weaknesses, and I was also impressed that he chose something that doesn’t come naturally to him.
I decided Boo needed to start at the beginning by working on obedience. Then Bug suggested perhaps I work on patience. I agreed that might be a good idea.
We pulled the Obedience, Helpfulness, and Patience flash cards from the stack and spent some time memorizing the virtue, the opposite of the virtue, the catch phrase, and the verse. We put the cards into our family devotional, so we could go over them every night.
At night, after family devotions, we discussed how we have been improving in our chosen virtues each day. Bug would share how he practiced being helpful, I would share examples of when I used patience, and we reminded Boo of the times she was obedient.
In addition, Boo colored the coloring pages, while we discussed the virtues. She really loves to color, so we hung her masterpieces on the refrigerator as a good reminder to be obedient. She was so proud of herself!
We moved slowly with the program, but over the last few weeks, each of us have improved dramatically in the area of our chosen virtue. Since I had an extra set of virtue cards, I stashed a set in the car, so we could practice when we’re out and about.
We Choose Virtues at a Glance
- Easy to use
- Flexible – can be used many ways
- Can buy individual components, if you can’t afford the whole package
- Can be used for a variety of ages
- The entire package might be a bit expensive for some
- Older elementary kids might find the cards a bit young
My Overall Opinion: As I mentioned at the beginning, I love We Choose Virtues! Even though my oldest is now a teenager, I still point her to the Virtues Poster hanging on the wall, when I feel she needs reminding to use a character quality.
The inclusion of the antonym of the character quality on the cards is genius! Seeing what helpfulness was NOT really helped Bug remember how to be helpful. I really think starting the We Choose Virtues program with young kids is beneficial to helping kids internalize important character qualities. And did I mention using the program is fun?
We Choose Virtues – What You Need to Know
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through Elementary
Price: Homeschool Kit – $98.99
Other Products – There are many components. Check the website for prices.
During the conference call, Heather was asked what aspects of the program were most important, if someone couldn’t afford the entire Homeschool Kit. She mentioned the following products.
- Virtue Flash Cards – $14.99
- Virtue Clues (Business sized cards) – $5.50
- Virtue Poster – $15.00
- The Three Rules Poster (Contains the First Three Virtues – Obedience, Kindness, & Helpfulness) – $6.00 (on sale right now)
My experience is that you can do a lot with just the Virtue Flash Cards and the Virtue Poster. For younger kids, the coloring pages are fun, too.
If you’re looking to save some money, I have some good news! Heather graciously provided me with a couple of codes that will save you some money!
- HOME20 – Good for 20% off the Homeschool Kit (good through April 2013).
- VIRTUE15 – Good for 15% off your order (no expiration).
The codes cannot be used together. 20% off the Homeschool Kit is the best deal you’ll find until Black Friday! So if you want the entire kit, now is a good time to buy!
Update: Shortly after I posted this review, a leader from our local American Heritage Girls troop mentioned that the troop was going through the Virtue Cards as their devotionals this year. There truly are many ways to use this product!