Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Homeschooling Resources: Language Arts

text: Homeschooling Resources: Language Arts; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; background photo of books

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Reading comes naturally to some individuals. Some parents struggle with getting their kids to go to sleep because their children are too busy reading books late into the night. Other children might struggle with learning but eventually grow to enjoy it. And don't forget those children who don't seem to like reading no matter what the subject material.

Our three children represent the spectrum of readers. Our younger son loves to read and was reading the letters and words printed on our clothing at early age while our (even younger) daughter took a while to learn to read but now quite happily sits down with a book. Our oldest was a fan of books when he was much younger but really does not enjoy to read as much as my husband and I do.

So how can you help your children become better readers? How do you help them master different language arts skills? There are so many options from online sites that provide fun games like Reading Eggs to offline unit studies that focus on one specific author like William Shakespeare. And don't forget to provide your children with good literature like the Boxcar Children series, Britfield & The Lost Crown, The Chronicles of Narnia, and J.R.R. Tolkien's works.

Reading Curriculum and Language Arts Courses 

One of the resources we were able to review was StoryTime Treasures and More StoryTime Treasures from Memoria Press. Memoria Press follows a classical approach to education. The children's books used with StoryTime Treasures are children's classics. While reading the stories, children will use workbooks that provide vocabulary exercises and an introduction to grammar and punctuation and will also practice critically thinking about stories. We were able to read a number of fun and interesting children's storybooks while teaching key concepts in the language arts.

Another fantastic source that we have used with our teen son is the wide selection of language arts courses at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. He has taken American Literature in Historical Context and Christian Values in J.R.R. Tolkien. In the first course, he read a variety of work written by Americans and studied it in relation to events in American history. For example, he read:

Text: Homeschooling Resources: Language Arts - Read Excellent Books & Improve Writing Skills; background image of typewriter keys

  • Poems by Anne Bradstreet 
  • Writings from George Whitefield 
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • Little Women
  • And more! 
While studying J.R.R. Tolkien, he read through The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings series, and The Silmarillion. In addition to answering questions that required him to reflect upon the stories, he also wrote several papers for the course. 

Unit Studies and More

If you prefer to use unit studies in your homeschool, there are also many great options. You can find several unit studies at SchoolhouseTeachers.com that allow you to read entire works, read selections that include poetry, or focus upon reading comprehension and writing skills.

Text: Unit Studies; SchoolhouseTeachers.com; background image of map and binoculars

Another great resource for language arts unit studies is Progeny Press. They offer unit studies on a numerous selection of books that could suit the needs of kindergarten through twelfth grade. In the past, we have reviewed several of the study guides including:

All of the study guides from Progeny Press incorporate vocabulary activities, critical thinking, and additional activities where children can be creative. For example, one could bake a cake, create a bookmark, or draw a scene from the book. One other aspect of these language arts studies guides that I like is that they ask children to reflect upon various Bible quotes and relate them to the book they are reading. 

Reading Good Books 

As someone who loves to read, I can't finish this post without mentioning some of the books that our children have enjoyed reading while homeschooling. If you have been reading A Mom's Quest to Teach for any length of time, you have probably seen at least a few book reviews that I have shared so you might know what types of books I enjoy. But what about our children?

Even our teen, who is not a huge reader, really enjoyed Britfield & The Lost Crown. In fact, just a few weeks ago he picked up the book so he could see when the next one in the series is supposed to be released. This is a tremendous compliment from him.

Both our younger children enjoy the Who Was Series of books which we were first introduced to on a trip to the library. They also have a huge collection of Minecraft themed books and Joke books that they seem to read on a daily basis. This is in addition to the large collection of children's picture books that we often read together. Personally, I love books by Leo Lionni and Jan Brett.

What are your favorite books for children or teens?

Friday, July 10, 2020

Dice, Decks, and Boards: Tenzi Game and Tenzi Card Deck

text: Dice, Decks, and Boards: Tenzi Game and Tenzi Card Deck; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo; Tenzi card deck spread out

I received a FREE copy of this game and game deck from Timberdoodle in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.


Our family loves dice! One of the items I have had on my wishlist at Timberdoodle is the Tenzi Game (which is part of the second-grade curriculum kit). So, I was very excited when the opportunity to review the game and the card deck became available. It actually arrived just in time for our younger son's birthday so it was like a present for the whole family.

Tenzi game rules; Tenzi dice

What Exactly is Tenzi?

Tenzi is an award-winning game that is fast-paced and easy to learn. Each game contains forty dice (10 each of four different colors). One set can be used by four people to play the original Tenzi game. How do you play? Players roll all ten of their dice in order to display ten identical numbers. They keep rerolling until all ten of their dice are the same number. Add in the Tenzi Card Deck and you will find 77 Ways to Play Tenzi (including a couple more ideas that are including on the rules that come with the original set of dice).

With so many different ways to play Tenzi, you can easily fill a game night with just two simple purchases: the Tenzi game and the card deck. On the evenings where we played Tenzi, we played at least six or more games and used the cards to shake up the rules. I think one of our kids' favorites was where you had to make a sound like a farmyard animal after each roll (Farmzi). It was very loud in our dining room during that game!

Tenzi Dice; Tenzi card with rules for Fivezi
The cards are 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches in size. 

Farmzi Tenzi card game rule

We started with playing the regular Tenzi game and then moved on, trying our hand at different versions based upon the card deck. For example, we played Oddzi & Endzi where we had to roll any combination of only 1's, 3's, and 5's. This is a great way to teach or refresh children's memories of odd and even numbers. We also played Clapzi (one claps after every roll), Sixty-Fourzi (you need to roll six 4's and four 6's), and Fivezi (using only five dice), among others. The first night we even ended our gaming session with one where the last one to get Tenzi cleans up the dice.

Tenzi Dice

The Dice 

The Tenzi dice have pips – not numbers on them – which encourages your child to count. If you have other six-siders you might have dice that have numbers printed on them rather than the pips. This can give an unfair advantage (or at least that is what my family said when I was using extra dice so I could play as the fifth person).

I think the dice are well-made and I didn't feel as if any were loaded – or at least I couldn't tell as I was rolling the dice so many times. The pips were all drawn/painted on clearly so they were easy to read.

Text: Dice, Decks, and Boards: Tenzi Game and Tenzi Card Deck; Bring a new fun game to your Gameschooling!; Tenzi dice; Timberdoodle Blog Team logo; Passzi Tenzi Game rule card

What Did We Think?

There is nothing quite like forty (or more) dice rolling at the same time as everyone tries to get their match. For a few moments – at the start of each game – there was silence (which is quite amazing considering there were five of us playing ranging in age from five years to adult).

We loved Tenzi so much that we bought an additional set so all five of us could play at the same time (without raiding our other dice bags). I could easily see this as a game that we take with us to friends' houses for game night. It is easy to transport and simple to explain while still being really fun.

While I love the package for display, I think we will probably buy a dice bag to hold all the dice in so that they don't get lost. Depending on the size of the dice bag, we might even be able to keep the card deck in the bag, too.

I would highly recommend Tenzi and the Tenzi Card Deck! It was easy enough for our five-year-old to understand and play but exciting enough that our teen loved it. There a few cards within the Tenzi Card Deck that we won't be able to use with our youngest (due to dexterity needed or ability to calculate numbers) but – in general – everyone can play this game and have great fun!

Other Timberdoodle Reviews

We have also reviewed other fun and educational products from Timberdoodle including:

Timberdoodle Blog Team logo

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Crafts: J is for Jump Rope

Text: Crafts: J is for Jump Rope; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Do your children enjoy jumping rope? Or perhaps you call it skipping rope? For the sake of this craft, we are going to call it, "jump rope," because J is for Jump Rope!


Rope has been used for skipping for a long time. There have been examples of rope-jumping for fun and exercise in Ancient Phoenicia, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Greece. Even though jumping rope today is often done mostly by girls, it was an activity in history that was primarily done by boys and men.

The activity of jumping rope spread through the ancient world to Medieval Europe and eventually to America, possibly by the Dutch. In fact, the version of Double Dutch has been attributed to the theory that it might have originated among immigrants from the Netherlands in Colonial America. In Double Dutch, two long jump ropes are used which are turned in opposite directions and more than one player may jump at the same time.

Jump rope can be done by oneself or with friends. Those friends can either turn the rope or jump in depending upon the length of the rope or the style of jump rope being done.


text: Crafts: J is for Jump Rope; A Mom's Quest to Teach; photo of letter J made of construction paper with yarn glued on itIn addition to the traditional ways to jump rope, you can incorporate a variety of other games using the jump rope and skipping or jumping.

PLEASE NOTE: Exercise caution when playing any games with jump ropes. Do not leave children unattended.

  • Snake in the Grass: Two children move the jump rope back and forth along the ground or floor while one child tries to jump over the snake without touching the rope
  • Math Facts: Skip while reciting math facts such as counting by twos, threes, or other numbers 
  • Skip to a Song: Jump rope to the rhythm of a popular nursery rhyme or song
  • Helicopter: One child slowly spins the jump rope in a circle along the ground or floor while the others form a circle around that child and try to jump over the rope as it comes their way 

J Is for Jump Rope Craft 



1. Gather all materials.

materials for craft: yarn, scissors, glue, glue stick, construction paper

2. Draw and cut out letter J on construction paper.

3. Glue the letter J onto a second sheet of construction paper.

letter J upside (made of construction paper); glue stick; purple construction paper

letter J made of construction paper glued onto purple construction paper

4. Cut pieces of the yarn to attach to the letter J.

letter J made of construction paper glued onto purple construction paper; gluing yarn onto letter J

5. Glue the yarn (or rope) to the letter J.

Letter J made of construction paper glued onto purple construction paper with yarn glued on it

Looking for more crafting posts? Please check out my posts: E is for Enderman and A is for Alligator.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Teaching Language Arts: A Review of a Progeny Press Study Guide

text: Teaching Language Arts: A Review of Progeny Press Study Guide; background image of snow; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

text: Teaching Language Arts: A Review of a Progeny Press Study Guide: A New Coat for Anna Study Guide; image of A New Coat for Anna Study Guide; lamb clipart logo of A Mom's Quest to TeachWhen reading good literature with our children, it is often nice to have a study guide to accompany that book. Progeny Press makes it very easy to find study guides to go along with a great variety of books for young elementary students to high school students. In the past, we have reviewed a study guide with our younger son (The Long Way to a New Land) and our older son (Perelandra). For this review, Progeny Press offered members of the Homeschool Review Crew (read the rest of the reviews here) five different study guides:

  • A New Coat for Anna Study Guide (recommended for grades K-3): This is the one our younger son and I used the past several weeks. 
  • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Study Guide (recommended for grades 4-6) 
  • My Side of the Mountain Study Guide (recommended for grades 5-8)
  • Animal Farm Study Guide (recommended for grades 9-12)
  • Little Women Study Guide (recommended for grades 8-12) 
photo of PDF on computer of A New Coat for Anna Study Guide

What Is Progeny Press? What Are the Study Guides?

The mission of Progeny Press is: "To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!"

The study guides provide students with the ability to better understand and enjoy literature while examining themes and ideas presented in the stories.  The study guides include background to the novel, activities, vocabulary exercises, content questions, literary analysis questions, and critical analysis questions. Among these activities, there are multiple questions that ask children to reflect upon Bible verses or how the work might connect to their life. And don't worry, parents – there is an answer key! 

How Did We Use the Study Guide in Our Homeschool? 

VHS of The Sound of MusicI used this study guide with our upcoming second grader. When the book arrived, I handed A New Coat for Anna to our son and told him we would be completing a study guide for it like we did last year for The Long Way to a New Land. He read through the book by himself at least once before we started the study guide.

A New Coat for Anna Study Guide CoverOnce I downloaded the study guide (30 page PDF file), I looked over the Before-you-read Activities and saw that watching the Sound of Music was one of the activities listed. Neither of our young children had watched the musical, so for a few days during lunch, we enjoyed watching the Julie Andrews musical. We discussed why the Captain wouldn't leave Austria, facts about the real von Trapp family, as well as information about music.

This time, I decided to use the study guide primarily on our laptop and allow our son to type his answers into the PDF. I really liked that I didn't have to print out lots of pages. However, it did mean that he could not work on the questions unless I was giving him access to a computer.

We went through and completed the chart that examined what Anna would need for her coat and where she would get the materials from and when that would happen. Then we matched up careers with descriptions and worked on vocabulary. When answering questions about patience and quotes from Proverbs, we discussed the topics and questions rather than typing the answers in the PDF.

The one activity I did print out was the word search pages. I gave them to our two sons to work on together. I love that our older son was able to share some homeschooling time with his brother and help him out.

using the Children's book A New Coat for Anna to complete a word search puzzle

A New Coat for Anna book and word search activity

What Did We Think? 

I appreciate the fact that I can use the study guides with more than one child in my family. So, we can use the study guide this year with our son and in a few years with our daughter. (Although our daughter did enjoy hearing the story as we read it several times over the course of completing the study guide.) I also like the fact that I do not have to print out all the pages. Being able to keep the work online is a great bonus as we have so many papers everywhere. Our son also greatly enjoyed being able to type the answers into the PDF.

There are a number of activities you can complete when you are finished reading both the book and the study guide. I really wish I had remembered to get all of the ingredients to make the Silver Cake before the end of the review period. Oh, well – something to look forward to in the coming weeks! Our son and daughter enjoyed making bookmarks as the study guide suggested. We had two colors of yarn to pick from, so our son chose a light purple color for the paper part to match the dark purple yarn. They both decided to write fruits of the Spirit onto their bookmarks.

bookmark in A New Coat for Anna

2 bookmarks made by children

I would recommend the study guides from Progeny Press to homeschool families. They have a great variety of titles available for elementary to high school students. If you want to see how other families from the Homeschool Review Crew used the study guides in their homeschools, be sure to read their reviews.

Do You Want to Learn More about Progeny Press?

Progeny Press logo

Homeschool Review Crew click here logo

Friday, July 3, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of Healing Family Relationships

Text: Book Club: Book Review of Healing Family Relationships: a Guide to Peace & Reconciliation by Rob Rienow; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; background photo of sunset

I received a FREE copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

I truly feel blessed with being able to read and review books. Like most families, my own has struggles. So, I was looking forward to reviewing Healing Family Relationships: A Guide to Peace & Reconciliation by Rob Rienow. This 190-page paperback book did not disappoint. I found myself making many notations in the book as well as taking notes.

Rob Rienow presents steps that we can take to find peace and heal problems in our family by sharing many personal experiences as well as Bible references through thirteen chapters. And even though there are no "pat answers or quick fixes...you will find encouragement, hope, and principles from the Bible that will give you practical steps toward healing broken relationships in your family (13-14).

text: "Many family relationships are broken and struggling because of a lack of loving, direct conversations." Healing Family Relationships

What Will You Find in the Book? 

The thirteen chapters are each set up in a similar manner. There are quotes from the Bible referenced and presented, subsections in each chapter to further help you find just what you need to read, important quotes from the author presented in bigger font and text, and finally questions for reflection and discussion.
text: Book Club: Book Review; A Mom's Quest to Teach; book cover of Healing Family Relationships

The topics reviewed include:

    • The power of forgiveness
    • Healing through prayer, repentance, listening, acceptance, spiritual warfare, boundaries, compassion, patience, mediators, mercy, and the generations 
    • A family miracle – in which the author shares his own personal story with his father
There are great reminders of the love of God and that Jesus will always call us His brother or sister. When we feel we need help in our family relationships, we can ask God over and over for help. "He welcomes the needy, repetitive, constant prayers of His children" (36). What a wonderful reminder!

Rienow also reminds us that our families are under constant spiritual warfare. It has become more obvious to me that so much conflict is also impacted by the unseen world. We often see the problems we have just in relation to our immediate family members but in Healing Family Relationships we read: "Because God so loves and has a divine plan for your family, Satan and the demons hate it" (79). We need to pray, put on the armor of God, and read and read the Bible. 

I recommend Healing Family Relationships: A Guide to Peace & Reconciliation to anyone who is looking to improve relations with their family members. You don't need to have a drastic problem or falling out in order to find words of wisdom in this enlightening book. I think the book would be valuable to large and small families, pastors, ministers, or other church leaders. Since reading the book, I have picked it up more than once to review points made by Rienow and intend to continue to reflect upon the way to heal relationships within my family.