Friday, February 15, 2019

Blogging Through the Alphabet: Introduction to the Series

A Mom's Quest to Teach is once again joining in with other bloggers for a Blogging Through the Alphabet series. If you are interested in joining us, I am adding the rules at the end of this post.

Everyone who participates will write with a different theme or goal in mind – except for the common goal of focusing each post around that week's letter. For example, last series I wrote about history topics (and I will for this one, too). If you haven't figured it out yet, I love history. I was a history major and a high school history teacher. I also volunteered for the National Park Service. Other bloggers wrote posts about children's authors or vacation spots. So many interesting posts!

Looking Forward

This time through the alphabet, I hope to write about more American Civil War battles and individuals including Appomattox and General McClellan to accompany the posts I already wrote about Antietam and General Lee. And I am considering writing a second part to my posts about King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. There is so much more to share about them than was in my original posts i.e., more than just Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon or Elizabeth's own marriage problems. Are there any topics in history you are hoping to read about this time?

This new series will start the week of February 17, so be sure to keep an eye out for our new posts!

The Rules

  • Each post must be family friendly. If it is not, we have the right to remove it. 
  • When linking up to this post, you give us permission to share your post and/or a photo from your post in future posts and social media shares. 
  • Place the Blog Button from the site onto the post you are linking up. 
  • Use the hashtag #abcblogging when promoting your post. This will help us find you and help us promote you as well.
  • If you have time, check out a few of the other posts and share the love. 
  • The most important rule is to make sure you are having fun! This is not something we want you to be stressed out over. We want to see all the fun ideas that everyone comes up with for the letters!

    Wednesday, February 13, 2019

    Living the Adventure – A Review of For The Temple from Heirloom Audio

    Similar to the other two Heirloom Audio productions (Wulf the Saxon and St. Bartholomew's Eve) we have reviewed, For The Temple opens with a chance meeting between G. A. Henty and Peter, leading to the opportunity to share the story. We are then taken back to the days when Rome still controlled the land of Israel. Our main character in this tale is John of Gamala who becomes a hero to the Jews and an enemy to the Romans.


    G. A. Henty is a great storyteller. He wrote over 100 works of historical fiction including ones about the French Revolution, Ancient Egypt, India, events in England, and the destruction of Jerusalem – which is the central focus of the story, For The Temple. The book For The Temple: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem was first published in 1888 and is available through numerous sources today in print. Henty writes in the Preface of the novel:

    "I have endeavored to present you with as vivid a picture as possible of the events of the war, without encumbering the story with details and, except as regards the exploits of John of Gamala, of whom Josephus says nothing, have strictly followed, in every particular, the narrative of the historian." 

    This is partly what attracts me to the work of Heirloom Audio. They are providing their listeners with tales by an author who seeks out historical facts to tell his works of historical fiction. Henty novels bring the stories to life and Heirloom Audio brings the work to life even more through the use of actors, music, background noises, and special effects. 

    Cast of For The Temple
    Some of the great actors who are part of the audio production!

    What We Like

    The authenticity of the adventure. It is brought to life by the background noises included, making it more than just a story being read aloud by a narrator. There are sound effects that include the sound of feet walking on dirt, water slapping the sides of a boat, clashing of swords, and more.

    The acting of Brian Blessed as our narrator, G. A. Henty, Joseph Reed as John of Gamala, Julian Rhind-Tutt as Josephus, and others help bring each character to life taking us on a great adventure of the relationships between the Jews, Romans, and others—as well as the importance of defending one's nation.

    This time, we were able to use a study guide provided by Heirloom Audio. We received a PDF of the study guide. I really like that the study guide provides questions both for listening comprehension (to check whether or not your children have listened to each track) and for helping you take the story further with additional research, critical thinking, and even geography-related questions.

    The inclusion of vocabulary with each set of questions would also be helpful if you wish to use them for spelling lists. In addition to vocabulary, some of the sets of questions have drawings or maps accompanying the questions.  And the end of the study guide provides one with Scripture to further study in order to truly understand that there is only one savior.

    My only complaint about the study guide is the design of the pages. They mimic parchment paper and this makes printing them out in black and white appear gray and could be difficult to read for some.

    As I was listening to For The Temple again while writing this review, our three-year-old daughter was sitting with me. Each time there was a battle scene, she wanted to know what was going on and who was winning. The sound of the fighting and the screams of battle attracted her attention each time. (And later on so did the sounds of John and Mary's baby.) So even though she may not really understand the whole story, we are able to discuss some of what is going on as I listen to For The Temple.

    Two discs tell the tale of For The Temple

    How We Used For The Temple 

    I listened to For The Temple prior to giving the CD to our teen son. He then was assigned certain pages from the study guide to accompany his listening of the tale. We were then able to discuss the story in more depth.

    In the future, I would like to have our teen read the original book and my husband plans on listening to the story with our teen on their next road trip (like they did when we were reviewing St. Bartholomew's Eve).

    The review of this great Christian audio drama provided the perfect diversion in our Bible and History studies. I was happy to include it in our homeschooling lessons for the past two weeks.

    Cover of Study for the audio drama For The Temple

    Possibilities for Study

    Heirloom Audio presents itself with many opportunities to take it further than just listening to and discussing the work of Henty. In this specific case, we were also given the study guide to review and use with our family. And as typical with most things, I jotted down ideas to study and research more should our children be so inclined. Here are a few of the ideas that we may pursue further:

    • Research and study of vineyards and the process of growing grapes as this was a job of many living in the area
    • Research the geographical and topographical features of the area; create a 3D relief map of the area 
    • Read the stories in the Bible about Moses and King David 
    • News stories, mythology, tall tales, and fables 
    • Discussion of whether it is appropriate for a group to harass a government or ruling group even if the rulers are corrupt 
    • Discussion of what happens when there is a major change in leadership (like with the death of Nero in the story) 
    • Towards the middle part of disc two, we hear that people within the city are starving. Some of the questions from the study guide ask families to consider whether or not giving food away would be the best decision. These questions can help foster discussions and even further research into other time periods of history or even current events. 
    Questions from study guide for the audio drama For The Temple
    From the study guide – asking questions about people starving inside the city.

    Despite the destruction of the Temple, the tale is not over. The study guide reminds its reader that it is the end of the Old Covenant. Followers of Jesus started to be seen as a dangerous new force within the Roman Empire. Times would continue to change providing for more tales from G. A. Henty and Heirloom Audio.

    If you wish to see what our family thought of other Christian audio dramas from Heirloom Audio, please check out my reviews of Wulf the Saxon and St. Bartholomew's Eve.

    For more information about Heirloom Audio, please visit the following:

    Heirloom Audio Productions Logo

    Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew were also given the great opportunity to review For The Temple, be sure to check out their reviews, too! 

    Tuesday, February 12, 2019

    Book Club: Ballerina! by Peter Sis


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

    In this adorable little board book – Ballerina! – we meet Terry who loves ballet and learn about different colors as the story progresses. The book has simple illustrations of black and white with the colorful illustrations being those in the picture frame or mirror of the different ways in which Terry dances.

    Physical Education

    This book presents the opportunity to get up and move with your preschoolers and young children. Here are a few of the ways in which you and your children can get active after reading Ballerina:

    • Stretch
    • Twirl
    • Leap
    • Reach
    • Dip
    • Flutter
    • Float

    Music Education 

    In addition to practicing your dancing moves, you and your children can listen to and watch different ballets including those mentioned in the book: 

    • The Nutcracker
    • Swan Lake
    • Cinderella

    Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker 

    Swan Lake Act II

    Cinderella Overview 

    Learning the Colors 

    Whether your children know their colors or need some help, this book presents a great opportunity to review the different colors as Terry pretends to dance. If you have different colored scarves – green blue, violet, red, pink, yellow, white – you could imitate the moves of the book as you call out the colors. For example: "Leap for Red" or "White for Dip." 

    Painting a Ballerina 

    Bringing art into your day can be quite easy. I sketched a ballerina for our children to paint. We used Kwix Stix Tempura Paint and they turned out very colorful!

    Ballet paintings

    In addition to painting your own ballerina, one could study famous artists like Edgar Degas and view some of his paintings and sculptures.

    Degas painting from
    painting by Degas from


    Looking for more fun activities centering around children's books? Our children have read about flamingos and created masks, journeying into space with a Mousetronaut, and made dog puppets when reading about pugs. 

    Thursday, February 7, 2019

    A Fantastic Fit for Homeschooling Our High School Student: A Review of Logo is a wonderful resource for all your homeschooling needs. From planners to holiday-themed unit studies, an Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership to offers more than just its 425+ courses for grades Pre-K to 12. There are so many great resources that one review is not enough! Be sure to check out my other reviews (An All-in-One Curriculum, Preschool: Learning Through Art, High School Science for Homeschoolers, or Homeschooling and Creativity Go Hand-in-Hand) of and those of the rest of the Homeschool Review Crew, too.

    An Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership will provide you with access to over 425 courses for preschool to high school as well as parent and family courses, access to World Book tools, Applecourse (which offers course tracking, grade reporting, and more), and a Just for Parents section with courses about Charlotte Mason homeschooling, Everyday Organization, and also access to an eBook library for parents.

    While using over the course of the past school year for our teenage son's complete curriculum, we have discovered many great courses and features. For example, we are using the subscription to RightNow Media for our son to complete Foundations for Teens and our younger children have watched From Aardvark to Zucchini.

    Foundations for Teens logo

    How Our Family is Using

    Our teen decided to be homeschooled this year, so the first thing that we did was create a Bookmark Collection for him and saved all of the different courses that might fit his sophomore year. When done, we had saved about 18 classes including: bookmarks
    Just a few of the courses we bookmarked for our teenage son.

    We narrowed it down to the core classes he would need and then electives. I then used the Planner – which is an editable PDF file – to set out a course schedule, a 36-week plan, and then daily assignments. I love that I can edit the schedule as well as prepare it for one, two, or more children. It makes it so easy to be flexible when homeschooling. Planner cover
    Image cover for the great planner! I love being able to edit it on my laptop or desktop. Weekly Planner filled out
    Our schedule printed out. If things change, I can copy and paste the information to another week. Planning resources

    Our son completes his coursework each day using the papers necessary, which I print out monthly. Each day, I put what needs to be completed in a file folder for him. He completes tasks both on paper and on the computer. I can then print out his essays and other documents as needed to include in his binder. worksheets
    A few of our son's worksheets and notes printed out and stored in his binder.

    We have two homeschooling binders for his work – one which our son can reference whenever he needs to and one in which I keep quizzes, tests, and other future assignments. We have also created two shared folders on Google Drive with all of his downloaded files from and his own word documents and photos for his Image Editing course.

    One of the photos our son edited in his Image Editing course.

    A Typical Day Using for Homeschooling a Teen 

    Our teen may start his homeschool day watching a video from RightNow Media for his Foundations for Teens course. Each video has an accompanying worksheet – some have essay questions for him to complete, as well. Next, our son may read a biology assignment for General Biology by Core Academy Lessons. The course offers several reading suggestions using texts from different publishers as well as a free downloadable text. You could print the text, read it on a tablet, or on the computer.

    Another course our son is taking is French. Each lesson has an audio component to help with pronunciation. There are also exercises at the end of the unit. We are supplementing this French course with a workbook to add in extra grammar and vocabulary practice.

    He will then round off his day with the rest of his courses: math, history (for which he is using World Book Online for many assignments), American Literature, and more. Using allows us to be very flexible. Some days he may work on all his subjects, while other days he may only study a few.

    Other Homeschooling Perks of 

    One of the other benefits is a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. This beautiful, full color magazine contains multiple articles ranging from seasonal topics like "Beating the Winter Blues" to interviews, schooling ideas, and a directory of freebies and samples for homeschooling families. on tablet and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

    Another great feature is the forum exclusively for members. There are a number of fantastic boards, such as places to meet and greet each other online, ask for ideas for specific subject areas, swap recipes, and ask about specific courses. Everyone is so supportive!

    With new courses being added on a regular basis, is a valuable homeschooling resource for your family. We feel blessed to be able to use the membership on our homeschooling journey. Our teen is enjoying his courses, setting his own pace, and focusing on his interests. Our younger children are able to learn together as the courses are easy to adapt for use with a preschooler and kindergartner. This is one homeschooling product that will be a great use for years to come for our family.

    February 2019 Bringing Winter Blues? 

    Is your family caught in the Winter Blues? Have a fun family twist on the blues with! Play the blues with our guitar course, study “The Bluebird” and other great poems with one of our poetry courses, or dive into the deep blue ocean through our marine biology course. You can even make “blue” art projects, yummy blueberry recipes, and get encouragement for yourself to help beat those winter blues! Access 425+ PreK-12 courses, parent resources, tips for teaching special needs learners and high school, physical education activities, streaming videos, and much more for only $111/yr (code ONES), plus receive a free spiral-bound 2019-2020 Hey Mama! Schoolhouse Planner (shipped in May; US only). Monthly memberships are also on sale – $1 for the first month (code ONEDOLLAR); renews at $14.95/mo after. Sale ends 2/28/19! 

    To learn more about please visit:

    And don't forget, you can see how other homeschoolers use by visiting the Homeschool Review Crew's blog

    Monday, February 4, 2019

    Top Five Tips for Studying History

    Studying the past does not have to be difficult or challenging. No matter what your own personal learning style is or that of your children, you can study the events of the past in a way that will make it meaningful for you and your family.

    There are several questions you should ask yourself when you approach the study of history for your own knowledge or that of your homeschooling children.

    Five Questions to Ask  

    1. How do I want to study history? Do I want to study the history of countries, nations, or geographical locations? 
    2. What are the most important things to remember? Do I want to memorize dates, places, and people or big ideas? 
    3. Are the stories of individuals more important to me than the stories of nations and countries? 
    4. Where should I seek information? Do we want to use mostly primary sources like letters, diaries, telegrams, or newspapers? Or do we want to stick to secondary sources like textbooks or books written by historians and others? 
    5. How big a role will movies, television documentaries and specials, field trips, or reenactments play in our study of history? 

    Help for History

    Here are some great places to visit – just keep in mind that every source will have a point of view and their own perspective on topics. Read information you gather with a discerning eye. (Please note: I am NOT responsible for the content on the pages.)

    School History – History Teacher Resources & Lesson Plans 

    This British site offers many free lessons and worksheets to help you study or teach history. 

    An excellent collection of lessons, worksheets, PowerPoints, and links from a retired New York State teacher. The page was last revised in 2016 so there may be broken links.

    Teacher Resources at the Library of Congress 

    There are so many fantastic resources at the LOC – classroom materials, primary source documents (photographs, music, videos, etc), and information about classes and professional development.

    World War I Document Archive 

    This may be a bit specific but I just love the fact that one can read original documentation – telegrams, treaties, and more – as well as find links to photographs and more information for WWI all in one place. I have used this resource on many occasions when teaching and studying World War I.

    The National Archives

    This site offers resources for both teachers and students studying the medieval world to the present day from a British perspective. Personally, I like the organization of the site. It makes it easy to find what you might be looking for or you might start a journey on a new topic just by browsing.


    Having a basic understanding of some key vocabulary is a great beginning for any history course.

    If you want to download my list of Important History Vocabulary, you can do so here. A few of the words that I recommend you, your students, or your children become familiar with as you study history include:
    • Culture
    • Empire 
    • Historiography 
    • Interpretation
    • Methodology 
    • Nation 
    • Nullification 
    You will these and many others on my Important History Vocab sheet. 


    Being able to locate the places you are studying on a map is important and can help you remember more details. Whether you have a map of the world or your nation hanging in your home or you pull up a map on your phone or tablet, it is important to be able to place locations of events around the world.

    Here are a few resources to get you started: – Geography Worksheets & Free Printables offers some free worksheets to help you study the different aspects of geography from reading maps to labeling countries. – Free Geography Worksheets for Preschool-Sixth Grade offers puzzles, name that state worksheets, and maps to help you study geography.


    My final tip when studying history is one I briefly touched upon earlier: No matter what your resource – primary or secondary documents/sources, books, videos, photographs, online material – you must keep in mind point of view and perspective. Everyone involved has an agenda and wants to impart their point of view or opinion to the reader or viewer. So just like when you view social media from today, you should view historical information with a discerning eye.

    If you want to read more history-related posts, please check out the following: