Thursday, July 29, 2021

On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer

A Mom's Quest to Teach: On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer - Finding the Right Materials with vacation background

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

During the summer, what subjects do you still include in your daily homeschool lessons? Our family homeschools year-round, so during the summer, we complete the subjects we haven't finished during the 'normal' school year and also review and dig deeper into subjects that interest our children. Summertime affords the perfect opportunity to allow children to follow their own interests. We take several different approaches to our homeschool journey during the summer. We review materials, use unit studies, and begin our new courses early.


Review And Refresh 

To help prepare our younger son for third grade, we are taking a look at the Stretching Higher with Third Grade Math curriculum on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. I love the flexibility of the course. I can go through this extensive course (it has a forty-week lesson plan) and pick out all those lessons that fit our homeschool needs. For example, I printed pages on ordinal numbers, subtraction (so we can work on borrowing or regrouping), counting by different numbers (by 6s, 7s, etc.), and using parenthesis in mathematics. Since it is the summer, we are not completing an entire lesson each day but instead going over the teaching material and then completing the practice questions over the course of several days. This allows our son to keep his math skills fresh while still feeling like he has a break from studies. 

My favorite parts of Stretching Higher with Third Grade Math are the sections that are written for inclusion in the student's notebook. These could be copied by hand into a math notebook or cut and pasted in the notebook, depending on how you print pages. These parts make reviewing the material very easy for our son as he works through the problems. 


Math coursework for third grade from SchoolhouseTeachers.com


Semester Courses and Unit Studies

Another great option for homeschooling during the summer is to include subjects that are only a semester long – especially for your high schooler! For example, one of the courses that is included in the SchoolhouseTeachers.com 11th Grade School Box is Friendly Chemistry. Using the course during the summer, you can fulfill a science credit and see if your high schooler wishes to pursue chemistry further or if another science would be more beneficial for them during the 'normal' year.

We have a plan for our daughter's science for the upcoming school year, but I pulled a few lessons from SchoolhouseTeachers.com for us to work through during the summer. Most of it just requires us to sit together and read – which she absolutely loves. And after we read about the Sun using the material from Everyday Astronomy on SchoolhouseTeachers.com, we will take a look at several of the lapbooks to fill out the rest of our summer. 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer - Are you new to homeschooling? - Finding the Right Materials



New Courses 

Sometimes you want to move forward onto the next step in your homeschool journey, even though it is the middle of the summer. For me, when new homeschool materials arrive, I want to start using them right away. In a lot of ways, our younger two children are like me. When our new materials arrived from My Father's World for our daughter's first grade curriculum, she wanted to look at all the books and start using the math manipulatives right away. The same went for our son when his language arts and spelling curriculum arrived from Timberdoodle. He took the books out of the box and hugged them to himself. These kids love learning! 

I was looking for something that had a bit more structure, so I picked Mosdos Press Literature – Opal, which is scheduled to use with third grade in the Timberdoodle Curriculum kit. As part of my relationship with Timberdoodle, I was able to purchase the literature bundle for 50% off in exchange for a review (which will be coming in September 2021). We just starting using this language arts program in our homeschool and I love the ease of it. I need three books – the Teacher's Edition, the Student Reader, and the Student Activity Workbook – to teach lessons to our son. We opened with a discussion on stories and their elements – and then jumped into examining the vocabulary that will be part of the first short story. The material is quite flexible, and I look forward to sharing more with you in a few months. 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer - Finding the Right Materials Mosdos Literature Opal workbook and textbook


Finding Your Path on the Journey 

Whether you are looking toward starting with an all-in-one curriculum like SchoolhouseTeachers.com or picking and choosing what will work for your family, the summer is the perfect time to do some exploring on your homeschool journey. We can each find what works for our families while we homeschool them. We can even change paths midway through the homeschool year more than once if we find something is not working. This is the beauty of homeschooling! 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer - Finding the Right Materials SchoolhouseTeachers.com BOGO sale advertisement



Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games

 A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with game board in background

I received a COMPLIMENTARY copy of Battle Sheep 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 tracking links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Building critical thinking skills is very important. As parents and homeschoolers, we want our children to be able to think through things critically, be able to access and understand a variety of reading materials, and be able to solve problems on their own. 

There are many ways we can help our children develop their ability to think critically. We want them to practice: 

  • Observation skills 
  • Analytical skills
  • Inference skills 
  • Problem-solving skills 
  • Communication skills or applying what they learn as they think critically 
One of our favorite ways to encourage critical thinking is through games like Battle Sheep. This fun, easy-to-learn (but difficult-to-master) game is part of the Third Grade Timberdoodle Curriculum Kit. We were blessed with the opportunity to review it in our homeschool and Battle Sheep has quickly become a hit with our younger son. 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with inside of game box and game pieces



What is Battle Sheep? 


"Battle Sheep: Flock to Greener Pastures" is a Blue Orange game for two to four players of ages 7 to adult. Players are in charge of a sheep stack, and they attempt, through play, to gain control of all Farmer Pat's pastures. Before play starts, they create the board by placing each of their four pasture boards. Each hexagon on the pasture board represents one pasture, and each pasture board contains four hexagons (resulting in four pastures per pasture board piece).

Once all the pasture boards have been placed, players pick their starting point to place their stack of 16 sheep. From this point, each player moves their sheep to attempt to take over the pasture lands. When moving sheep, the stack is split into two stacks. Each stack must contain at least one sheep. The original stack stays in place, and the new stack moves as far as it can in a straight line. 

It is in the moving of the stacks of sheep where players need to use critical thinking skills. As you want to have the most sheep on each pasture board, it is important to spread your sheep throughout the game board. It is also important not to allow your sheep stack to be blocked by yourself or the other players. As you cannot jump over or combine stacks, you want to make sure you have many straight lines available for movement. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with game box



What is in the Box? 


Battle Sheep has everything you need to play packed into a sturdy box. The 64 sheep chips (16 of each color - blue, white, black, and red) and 16 heavy, cardboard pasture tiles. Everyone in our family was impressed by the quality of the materials. In fact, our 18-year-old said, "wow, these chips are high quality." When you are done playing, everything fits neatly back in the box. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with sheep tiles for Battle Sheep


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with pasture tiles for Battle Sheep



Building Critical Thinking Skills 

The first time we played, it was just my husband, our eight-year-old son, and myself. We worked through the instructions, looked at the back of the box to see what a game in progress looks like, and then dove in for our first play through. There were a few instances where we needed to consult the rules again, but, in general, I found Battle Sheep easy to figure out. Personally, I jumped right into our first game without putting too much thought into where I wanted to start my sheep stack. This was a mistake, I quickly discovered. Players really need to think in advance of their steps to ensure that they are able to move their sheep in multiple ways. 

After our first game, our son said, "I already know how I want to play the game differently next time." I love the fact that he was thinking through the current game and building a strategy for future games, too. To me, this means that Battle Sheep is not just a game that one plays, enjoys, and then puts back on the shelf. It is a game that builds critical thinking skills. Battle Sheep helps one think differently about gameplay and how to implement different strategies. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with two photos of game play



In addition to building critical thinking skills, Battle Sheep can also help foster healthy competition. After all, one person is going to win. Teaching our children how to be gracious winners and accept losses is important to our family. Battle Sheep can help in this area, too. As the game only takes about 15 minutes (or as long as everyone takes planning out their moves), you can play it multiple times in one sitting. Playing it over and over in a short amount of time helps work through new ideas for gaining more pasture land.

I think we would all recommend Battle Sheep. The recommended starting age of seven seems to be right on target. I think it would be a welcome addition to many a homeschool's game shelves. Our son said it is his new favorite game, and he has asked to play it on a regular basis. This makes Battle Sheep a win for our homeschooling family! 

If you are looking for another game from Blue Orange, you might want to give Gobblet Gobblers a try! 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of Lead Like Christ

 A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Lead Like Christ: Reflecting the Qualities and Character of Christ in Your Ministry with floral background

I received a COMPLIMENTARY 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.


What does Christ-centered leadership look like? 


A.W. Tozer shares in Lead Like Christ: Reflecting the Qualities and Character of Christ in Your Ministry how leaders in the church can be different than the world around them by following the example of Jesus. Throughout the 183-page paperback book, Tozer provides quotes from the Book of Titus to introduce readers to how they can Lead Like Christ. As introduced by editor Dr. James L. Snyder, the book is based upon a series of sermons by Tozer on the book of Titus. Readers are challenged to apply the lessons learned to their own lives as leaders. 

Lead Like Christ is a well-developed book that is easy to navigate, with well-thought-out chapters that are also very deep. Snyder states, "You will not be able to read this one in one sitting," and I would agree. While it is not a difficult read, I found it full of ideas I wanted to think about and ponder before I moved onto Tozer's next chapter. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Lead Like Christ: Reflecting the Qualities and Character of Christ in Your Ministry with cover of the book

While one could argue that the book is geared towards those in ministry and those serving the church, I think there is valuable information for all Christians no matter where we serve. To quote Tozer, "I want to say right here that every born-again Christian is involved in ministry" (14). We can all apply the teachings of Paul as described to us by Tozer in our everyday lives to share the love of Jesus with those around us. 

Nineteen chapters look at how we can lead like Christ, from building a foundation and understanding Biblical order to taking a commitment to sound doctrine and how God sees us. We may not think we are ready to lead like Christ, but He will equip us because He has called us. Jesus provides the perfect model for us. 

I found Lead Like Christ to be full of wisdom that is very applicable to today. We really do need our church leaders to "showcase God's amazing grace in their lives" (73). They need to reflect Jesus – imitate Jesus – not the world around them. Churches should not mirror the culture. It should be "separated from the age in which it lives as Jesus Christ as separated from Rome" (78). I found these recommendations and those that said qualified leaders must hold fast to the Word and doctrine to be very important and meaningful. 

Lead Like Christ was a wonderful read and one I would recommend. It would be a welcome addition to church leaders' bookshelves, the homes of ministers, and indeed, any Christian who wants to spread the Word of God.  

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Lead Like Christ: Reflecting the Qualities and Character of Christ in Your Ministry book


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety

I received a COMPLIMENTARY 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.

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety with cover of the book


It seems like being worried or anxious is a lot easier than being confident, grateful, or at peace. If we seek to work through our problems, we can lay them at the throne of God. In the latest book from Bethany House Publishers, readers are reminded of key Bible verses that will help them overcome worry and anxiety. 

100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety is an easy-to-read paperback book of just over 200 pages. Each verse has about two pages devoted to it to better examine the verse and help readers apply the quote to their life. In the two pages, there is the Bible verse, its context, a meaning provided, how readers can apply the quote to our lives, and additional reading recommendations. Readers could read the book cover to cover as I did, or they could flip through and pick and choose which quotes to examine. You could even go through and read all the quotes from a particular book of the Bible or just the ones from the Old or New Testaments. 

Some of the Bible verses included are: 

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing." Psalm 23:1 

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10 

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13 

The quotes are all from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted in the book. 


Quote from Psalm 94:19; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo


What Did I Think? 

In general, I enjoyed reading 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety. I found myself underlining and making notes in the book as well as grabbing my Bible to mark off verses in it. I appreciated that the book did not just provide a quote but that it looked at the context and shared what the book was about. I also found this to be an easy book to read. I could pick it up, read a few pages, and then set it down to homeschool, make dinner, or complete a work assignment. When I had free time later in the day, I could easily continue reading 100 Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety

My only complaints could be considered minor. At times, there appeared to be some repetitiveness as I read about the context of the books of John and Isaiah. As there were multiple verses shared from those two books, the text discussing the books was very similar. My other complaint was in regards to an outside source referenced. These two small cons, however, did not make me want to set the book aside. I would still recommend it.

I firmly believe that reading the Word of God is helpful to overcome fears, worries, and anxieties. Sometimes, it is intimidating to know where to look in the Bible. Looking at a book like 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety provides such a great place to start in order to find peace and hope. I think even if you do not consider yourself a worrier, this book will be helpful for you to provide wisdom and guidance for others as well as help you find more gratefulness in your everyday life. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling?

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling? - whales, jellyfish, and waves

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

Are you new to homeschooling? Would you like to start homeschooling this coming year, but you don't know where to begin? There are so many wonderful options for families who wish to start their quest to educate their children at home. From boxed curriculum that contains everything you need to curriculum sites that allow you to pick and choose the courses that meet your family's needs, you can tailor your children's education to their needs. 

We began our homeschooling journey a few years ago with our youngest son. Since he was a preschooler, we didn't do a lot in the way of formal education. We spent a lot of the time playing, reading, and learning together. Then, his older brother decided to join us on our homeschool journey when he was in the 10th grade. He left public school, and we starting homeschooling officially.  

I was fortunate that even though we were new to homeschooling, I was part of a wonderful group that allowed me access to a wide variety of quality homeschooling resources. I became a member of the Homeschool Review Crew after writing several courses for SchoolhouseTeachers.com. So, I not only had access to a full curriculum through SchoolhouseTeachers.com, but I also had access to the different products that the Crew reviewed during the course of the year. With these homeschooling resources, we were able to easily create a curriculum for our teenage son in addition to his younger brother and sister.
 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling? with jellyfish background


Are You New to Homeschooling? 


If you are new to homeschooling, the waters are full of rich resources, but at times it can seem scary and overwhelming. Where do you even begin? There are several things I recommend you think about before you take the plunge into the deep waters of curriculum buying. 

What is your goal for homeschooling? Will your children return to public school? Are you homeschooling through high school? (I promise it is not as hard as you may think!) 

How do your children learn best? Do they thrive on hands-on activities? Do they love to read and write? What subjects do you need to teach them? 

Do you have a large family? Are you trying to find a homeschooling resource that will meet the needs of everyone in your family without breaking the bank?

Our Favorite Homeschooling Resources


I have been blessed to try out a wide variety of homeschooling resources in our family. From online math curriculum like CTCMath to supplemental, hands-on history resources from Home School in the Woods, we have tried a range of homeschool products from the time our homeschool was new. Some of them I would easily recommend to new homeschooling families, and others I think may be best suited for those who have been swimming in the waters of homeschooling for a while. 

One of the best ones for families who are new to homeschooling and for those who have been homeschooling for years is SchoolhouseTeachers.com. As I mentioned before, I am fortunate enough to work for The Old Schoolhouse®, and SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a division of that company. Even though I work for The Old Schoolhouse®, I would not just recommend their curriculum if I didn't use it in our homeschool. We have used it as our core curriculum for our high schooler for the past three years and have used a variety of lessons, courses, and materials for our younger children. 

What Do I Like About SchoolhouseTeachers.com? 


One of my favorite aspects of SchoolhouseTeachers.com is that, for one price, you gain access to all the content for grades PK-8th or PK-12th grade, depending upon which level you select. So, if you have a large family, you do not need to join for each child. Having access to the entire curriculum also means you can use 4th-grade math materials and 6th-grade language arts materials for one child without having to pay extra. You find exactly what courses you need to meet the needs of your child. And if you are new to homeschooling, this makes it very easy if you don't know what levels your children are at in their education.  

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling? - Second grade science curriculum course list and K-12 School Boxes Curriculum Cover



When using SchoolhouseTeachers.com, you can select to use entire courses or even the School Boxes that lay out curriculum guides for each subject area, or you can pick and choose what you wish to teach in your homeschool. For example, we completed our science curriculum early, so I looked through the Second Grade School Box's Science Curriculum Guide for a few lessons and activities to include in our son's summer studies. As we will be studying mammals this year, I skipped over many of the lessons to focus upon Watersheds and the Water Cycle. 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling?  Watersheds and the Water Cycle lesson plan with wave clipart


After you select a course, School Box, or lesson you want to teach, you can either use the lesson plans provided or you can use the materials in the way that works for your family. The Watersheds and the Water Cycle is part of the Science Unit Studies and can be a stand-alone unit study. I am choosing to loosely follow the suggested lesson plan from the Second Grade School Box's Science Curriculum Guide (this is found in Week 33) and read through the materials with our son. We read a few pages a day, I ask him to write the definitions, and then we discuss the diagrams that are included in the unit study. If you are a new homeschooler, a unit study like this is the perfect way to wet your feet in the homeschooling world. 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling?  - Watersheds and the Water Cycle Lesson and rain map



Of course, there are lots more things I really like about SchoolhouseTeachers.com. It is a curriculum grounded in a Christian worldview. I do not need to preview every single page to ensure my children will not see something I fundamentally disagree with in terms of values. There are also over 400 courses, record keeping tools, a homeschool planner, a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, streaming videos, and access to World Book Online. All of these wonderful resources are fantastic for those who are new to homeschooling! 

Take the plunge today and use code: EXPLORE to pay only $179 for a two-year Ultimate Membership to SchoolhouseTeachers.com during their Explore the World BOGO event! (reg. $224.97/yr). This is an incredible saving! Pay now and receive a complimentary Explore the World tote while supplies last! (New members only. No refunds. US customers only.)

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling?  BOGO ST Sale with underwater theme