I’ve got a great product review for you today–We Choose Virtues (WCV). I had actually seen some of these colorful cards at another homeschool mom’s house one day, but could never remember to ask her about it when I saw her. How thrilled I was when one of the products chosen for our Homeschool Mosaic Review team was a product from this company! With a 4 and 6 year old in the house, we can use the help in teaching virtues and instilling godly character. In fact, we were at a bit of a loss in how to proceed, and then this product review turned up. Perfect timing, I’d say!
WCV uses colorful kid characters, memorable catchphrases and Bible verses to exemplify each of 12 character traits. Heather McMillan, the creator of WCV and a children’s teacher herself, saw a need to enable parents and teachers to inspire lasting character in their children and students. Three years ago, We Choose Virtues was born out of that felt need.
Heather sent reviewers a set of Virtue Flashcards, as well as a sample of the Parenting cards, and a few pdfs (a family character assessment, coloring pages, butterfly award and a couple other items). We decided to start out with “The Three Rules” in our home, which are the virtues of obedience, kindness and helpfulness. Heather said they were so named because all of the other virtues flow out of those three. We pulled out the flashcard for Oboe Joe, “I am obedient,” and within minutes, the kids had already memorized the sing-song catchphrase: “O.K. Whatever you say, I will obey right away.” We went over the accompanying Bible verse and talked about obedience. Just a few minutes at night, and re-emphisizing throughout the day has made a difference. We’re still working through these three, so I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of what this program offers. But I’m excited to keep moving through all of the virtues over the coming months.
When the kids are slow or reluctant to obey something we’ve asked of them, we immediately start reciting Oboe Joe’s catchphrase. They’ll join with us in saying it, and usually that leads into them into obedience. It’s a much better atmosphere instead of a stalemate of disobedience. Like I said, we’re still working through the cards, but we can see an improvement. And the cards aren’t just for kids, either. I find myself thinking about how I conduct myself and whether or not I’m using virtues, too. For example, “Am I using a gentle voice in correction? How can I exhibit more patience?”
What I love:
- WCV gives my husband and I a great vocabulary to draw from in encouraging proper behavior and good character in our children. We would often say things like “Don’t be mean” or “Stop disobeying,” but, in the heat of the parenting moment, sometimes found it hard to follow up with concrete examples of what we expected. WCV provides us with a well of positive statements to draw from, enabling us to ask “Were you being kind to your sister?” and follow it up with how to change the action–and the attitude behind the action.
- The boys and girls on the colorful cards are engaging and my kids love to leaf through the cards and ask questions about them. I’ve placed our current virtue flashcard on the fridge as a reminder, and more often than not, I find it removed and being studied. Pairing a visually appealing, named character with a virtue helps it stick better in their minds, I think.
- The ideas on the parenting cards are invaluable. (Note: I purchased the full set of these after seeing what the sample offered.) I appreciate the games and activities to present the concepts of the virtues in different ways, and I liked the stories behind each of the Virtueville kids. I plan on expanding the brief story ideas on the cards to offer my kids more ways to internalize the virtues and put a bigger story to the characters.
- Most of these materials are made for younger children, around age 3 to fifth grade, which makes it perfect for our family! But good news for those who have older children: there’s a version in the works aimed for those older kids to help them see how living these virtues can help them become the people they want to be. Additionally, a Spanish-language WCV is also in development. Keep checking the WCV blog or Facebook page for information on these new products if they interest you–Heather said they may be ready sometime this fall.
- Some of the pricing might provoke a double take, especially if you think (like I initially did) that this is something for which you don’t necessarily need a big program or curriculum. If the various kits are out of your price range, I encourage you to look at some of the individual products. In particular, Heather recommended the virtue flashcards, the kids virtue poster and the 3 Rules poster as some of the top products for families on a tighter budget. I also recommend the parenting cards. They’re a bit more than the flash cards, but the extra information on the back has been so helpful. If you’ve got room in the budget for it, the homeschool kit or family kit provide a bunch of great products in one bundle. (Keep reading for a way to get a discount on WCV products!)
I also bought the Kids of Virtueville coloring book, because I was hoping the stories were expanded in it, but as it turns out, they’re the same paragraphs as on the parenting cards. The pictures are the same as the coloring pages, except smaller. Heather had a great idea for the coloring pages: laminate the finished product and create placemats. I love that! Once the kids have colored a few more pages, I plan on using her idea. Also, with the coloring book came an “Official Virtue Kid” pin. One pin, two kids. That’s a dilemma! My husband and I came up with the idea to use the pin to help reinforce virtuous behavior. When we see our kids being obedient, kind, helpful or otherwise virtuous, they get to wear the pin. It’s been a fun little way to let them shine and promote character.
Now, for the good news! We Choose Virtues has provided reviewers with a special promo code to offer readers!
If the homeschool kit interests you, be sure to use the code HOME20 to get 20 percent off the kit. This code is good through April 30, 2013.
If that’s still a bit out of your budget, feel free to use VIRTUE15 to receive 15 percent off your total order. There is no expiration on this code.
(Note: These two codes will not stack.)
Edited 4/3/13: Check out more of the Mosaic team’s reviews about We Choose Virtues on the Mosaic Reviews blog.