Monday, August 10, 2020

Homeschooling Traditions for the New School Year

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Every new year, there are expectations as to what will happen on that very first day of school. Many kids (and teachers) can't sleep the night before the first day of school. What about for homeschooling families? Perhaps the first day of a new homeschool year is not as stressful as the first day of a child attending a public or private school but it can still bring joy and fun.

The new school year always brought on the nerves for me. As a child, I was very shy. I still tend to be shy around new people or in new situations. Meeting new people or seeing classmates after an entire summer apart was often very scary for me. When I became a public school teacher, I still was nervous regarding the first day of school. I taught many freshman classes so these students were new to our school and the whole high school experience. How would they react to new systems and new teachers? Would I be able to reach them and help them learn to enjoy studying history?

Our New School Year Homeschooling Traditions

While our children do not have the same worries as I did as a child and we technically homeschool year-round, I do like to start each new year off with special recognition. We started a new tradition of taking a "first day of school" photograph with our three children. I create an individualized poster for each child to hold with their grade, school year, and image to color with the name of our homeschool to hold in the photo. These 8.5-by-11-inch posters are then used as the front cover of their current school year binder.

New Traditions for 2020-2021

This year we are instituting a new tradition for our first not-back-to-school dinner. We will be having dessert for dinner! What a fun way to make the day special ending with a special meal! We have only done dessert for dinner once so far and our kids loved it. We served ice cream, candy, cake, and cookies. I wonder what else we will serve this time.

We also picked up brand new binders for our two youngest so that I can better organize their papers from the various online resources we have access to in our homeschool. I am thinking of using new binders each year for our children will be a great way to create portfolios of their school work.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of The Pursuit of God: The Definitive Classic by A.W. Tozer

Text: Book Club: Book Review of The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

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.

This is a beautiful hardcover edition of A.W. Tozer's The Pursuit of God. The Definitive Edition is edited by James L. Snyder and has an insightful introduction by Snyder and includes a short biography of Tozer. It would make a wonderful gift as it is a high-quality hardcover book.

text: book club: book review A Mom's Quest to Teach; book cover of The Pursuit of God One of the key points I took from reading The Pursuit of God was that – even if we have accepted Jesus – we still should seek God. The loving personality of God is evident in the Bible – we only have to look for it. The voice of God is free and all around us – even though we can seek him in the Bible, he is not limited to the Bible. Tozer states that part of the problem is that "we insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image" (103). We need to accept God as He is. God needs to be at the center of it all.

"He spoke in a Book and lives in His spoken words, constantly speaking His words and causing the power of them to persist across the years" (81). 

As you read each of the ten chapters, you will find a prayer at the end of them. There are great reminders in the prayers, such as to seek forgiveness for thinking of ourselves and seek to trust God completely. We should not want to compete with others. We should be like children in seeking God.

Even though The Pursuit of God was originally published more than seventy years ago, Tozer's words are still inspirational and helpful to Christians today. We should seek God because He is seeking us. "Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not" (68). Tozer asks us to think about our faith in this short book.

text: "You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey him" (98.) A Mom's Quest to Teach

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dice, Decks, and Boards: Gobblet Gobblers

Text: Dice, Decks, and Boards: Gobblet Gobblers; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; background of tic-tac-toe board

I received a FREE copy of this game 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. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Games are a fantastic way to take a break from the homeschooling day while still keeping the kids' brains active. We have found quite a few fun and educational games from Timberdoodle to add to our game closet. The curriculum kits at Timberdoodle often include a number of games to help children practice their critical thinking skills. One such game is Gobblet Gobblers which is part of the 2020 Kindergarten Grade Curriculum Kit.  

Gobblet Gobblers game box

What is Gobblet Gobblers? 

Gobbler Gobblers is a game produced by Blue Orange Games for ages 5 and up. As it is a spin on the popular Tic-Tac-Toe game, it is meant for only two players. The box contains everything you need to play the game including: 

  • 1 grid (four plastic pieces that you snap together) 
  • 12 Gobblers of three different sizes and two colors 
  • Illustrated game rules 
Gobblet Gobblers game rules

The Gobblers have a felt tip sticking off their head and fun, silly faces. You and your opponent can start playing your first game using typical Tic-Tac-Toe strategies but you will quickly incorporate new strategies. In order to win the game, you will want to be the first to line up three Gobblers in a row but your opponent can stop you in a number of ways.

Gobblet Gobblers two orange large pieces

When you are trying to block your opponent from getting three in a row, you can simply place your Gobbler in a space OR you can put your Gobbler over a smaller one. You can even move your Gobbler that is already on the board to cover up a smaller Gobbler or into a new, empty space. 

Why Is Gobblet Gobblers a Good Game? 

Text: Dice, Decks, and Boards: Gobblet Gobblers; A fun game that requires critical thinking and can be played in 5 minutes. photos of Gobblet Gobblers game box and pieces from game; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; Timberdoodle Blog Team logo

When playing Tic-Tac-Toe, children will quickly learn how to beat the game or at least force a tie very early on. When playing Gobblet Gobblers, children will need to think about their moves more carefully as there are many more choices available to help them win. The illustrated game rules provide some very useful tips: 

  • Don't hesitate to gobble up your own pieces. 
  • Before you move a piece, try to remember what is under it. (Once you touch a piece you need to move it and you may be revealing your opponent's winning move.) 
  • Think ahead 
As Gobblet Gobblers is a fast game, it is the perfect one to bring out in the middle of your homeschooling day to help build critical thinking skills with your children. It is also a great game to introduce strategy to your children in gaming.

6 Gobblet Gobblers pieces

How Did We Use Gobblet Gobblers? 

When the game first arrived to review, our younger children and I took turns playing it one afternoon before dinner. Our younger son and I played quite a few games (usually with me winning). It didn't take him long before he started to incorporate some new strategies into his game play. He was more likely to cover up game pieces with his Gobblers than I was when we were playing – leading to some close calls. My husband also played the game with our younger son. He enjoyed drawing out strategies from our son and encouraging him to counter my husband's moves (which paid off when our two boys played). Finally, our two sons played many games after dinner one evening. Both our younger son (aged 7) and our teen had a great time and enjoyed Gobblet Gobblers. Our teen agreed that it is a fun game and does require a lot forethought and planning in order to win a game. He enjoyed it when his few mistakes were quickly exploited by his younger brother, leading to the younger's victory.

I found Gobblet Gobblers the perfect game to take out for a quick break from homeschooling with books and online resources. We could play one or two games and easily pack it away or we could play a tournament and play a great number of rounds.

Gobblet Gobblers game in progress

Gobblet Gobblers game in progress

You can keep the game in the original packaging – putting back the pieces into the green plastic tray or you can put everything into a plastic bag so you can take the game on-the-go. As it requires very little set-up, you could easily bring it with you to a restaurant, grandma's house, or the doctor's office.

Gobblet Gobblers packaging

I think Gobblet Gobblers would be a great addition to your gameschooling shelves! It will help your kindergartener work on memory, visual perception, problem-solving, and help them focus on the task at hand. While it is included in the kindergarten kit, you can very easily play it with children who are older, too. And with each game only taking a few minutes, everyone in your family can enjoy Gobblet Gobblers on game night.

Interested in other Timberdoodle reviews? We've reviewed Tenzi Dice, Bugzzle, and more! 

Timbderdoodle Blog Team logo

Friday, August 7, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of The Gentleman Spy

Text: Book Club: Book Review of The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch; lace background; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

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.

An unexpected death leads to a mother pushing her son to marry quickly to secure the title with another heir. But The Gentleman Spy is not eager to let someone into his life who might compromise his important position with the royal government. So, just what is the Duke of Haverly to do? Will he find a bride that will fit into one of the neat little compartments that organize his life? Or will love truly cause problems for his occupation?

book cover over The Gentleman Spy

In the second book of the Serendipity & Secrets series, Erica Vetsch shares the story of Marcus Haverly, the Duke of Haverly as The Gentleman Spy. In the first book, The Lost Lieutenant, readers meet Marcus as he quickly becomes the friend of Evan Elridge, the new Earl of Whitelock. (Please read my review of The Lost Lieutenant here: Book Review) We now see that Marcus has continued to help the government even though he is no longer serving as a soldier in the war against Napoleon. He is actually spying for the government and his boss in the operation thinks that his stepping in as Duke (after the death of Marcus' father and elder brother in a tragic accident) will be beneficial for espionage. In fact, Sir Noel St. Clair thinks along the same lines as Marcus' own mother: Marcus should get married and quickly.

book cover of The Gentleman Spy; quote "If Marcus was now forced to become the Duke of Haverly, could he still continue his work for the Crown?"

book cover of The Gentleman Spy; text: Book Review of The Gentleman Spy; Will the duke keep everything his life separate? A Mom's Quest to Teach logoAt the other end of this Regency Romance is Lady Charlotte, daughter of the Earl of Tiptree. Lady Charlotte's life is not easy because her father controls her life—and her mother's—very tightly. Both her parents are ready to send her off to a maiden aunt as a companion because Lady Charlotte has not gotten married yet. They see her becoming a spinster. Lady Charlotte does not wish to attend to her mean-spirited aunt but yet does not see how anyone will want to marry her. She dresses like a frump and too often speaks her mind even when she should not. Her vocal ways often cause her problems with those who are deemed important in society and by her parents.

Through a matter of interesting circumstances, Marcus and Charlotte meet and their lives seem to intertwine together whether they want them to or not. During one of the very first chance meetings, Charlotte begins falling in love with Marcus (even though she doesn't know it is him at the time). At this meeting, Marcus also begins to see how beautiful Charlotte is and—if he would admit it—begins to fall in love with her himself.

Much like in The Lost Lieutenant, marriage is quickly thrown upon the main characters through unusual circumstances. From one unexpected marriage proposal to another surprise proposal, Charlotte finds herself engaged to Marcus. The people surrounding the two newly betrothed are shocked, angered, and calculating. Marcus' mother is described as looking "as if she'd swallowed a goose egg and it had gotten stuck halfway down" (106). Luckily, Marcus did not allow Charlotte to release him from the engagement and they married. It seems like a perfect marriage if only Marcus was able to keep every part of his life in separate boxes.

book cover of The Gentleman Spy; text: You can't put God in a box, and you can't put a wife there either. Both...deserve more from you. Aunt Dolly;

My Thoughts 

I really enjoyed reading The Gentleman Spy. I found it to contain a bit less historical details than The Lost Lieutenant but was nevertheless still enjoyable as a work of historical fiction/romance. I love the descriptions of the characters and events in the book. For example, after the wedding announcement is printed in the newspaper, Marcus arrives at Charlotte's home and Vetsch writes this wonderful sentence: "Mortification heated Charlotte from her core to her fingertips, a prickle raced across her skin, and a hollow feeling opened in the pit of her stomach" (119). Before Charlotte (or Marcus) could call off the engagement, her parents had the betrothal publicly announced. What a potential scandal!

I would recommend The Gentleman Spy for those who enjoy historical fiction, Christian romance, or Regency romances. While I do not think you need to read the first book in order to enjoy The Gentleman Spy, you might want to do so before meeting Evan and Diana in this novel. And I am looking to see what adventures will be shared in the third installment in this series.

My one note is this: This book does involve prostitution and the evils that befall the women who participate in it at the hands of their callers. Both Marcus and Charlotte make it their mission to try and help these women find their way out of the awful profession. We read how both are personally connected to several women including Aunt Dolly who becomes instrumental in guiding both Marcus and Charlotte towards marriage as partners and friends.

About the Author - Erica Vetsch 

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, whom she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.

What does Erica Vetsch have to say about the role of faith in the lives of Marcus and Charlotte? 

"Marcus tries to keep his faith in his “faith box.” Church on Sunday, theological discussion Sunday afternoon, but God doesn’t bleed over into his work and responsibilities . . . until Charlotte lands in his life.

Charlotte was taught at a private girls’ school where she developed her love of books, and one teacher in particular had a significant influence on Charlotte’s spiritual life. This teacher taught her that there was more to faith than church attendance and trying to be a good person. She needed to have a personal relationship with her Creator and His Son. Charlotte struggles with wondering why a God who says he gives good gifts to his children would extend that goodness to her. And she struggles with her father’s duplicity. He is pious when he’s with others, but he’s mean-spirited and a philanderer behind the scenes."

Would you like to follow Erica Vetsch on Social Media?

Text: Coming March 2021;; cover of The Indebted Earl

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Crafts: K is for Kiwi

text: Crafts: K is for Kiwi; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; background photo of hills

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

kiwi plushOn a trip to the craft store in the late fall, we picked up the cutest kiwi plush. It is bright and colorful, not at all like the actual flightless bird, but our daughter fell in love with it. I must admit to falling in love with the soft plush, too.

When I was thinking about what craft to do for the letter K, I was trying to come up with something that I had not seen done. Kites and kangaroos are popular letter K crafts but why not a kiwi? It's the perfect opportunity for our children to make an adorable craft and learn more about this interesting bird from New Zealand.

clip art of a kiwi from

Facts About Kiwis 

  • Flightless 
  • Loose, hair-like feathers 
  • Strong, powerful legs
  • No tail 
  • Tiny, almost non-existent wings of one inch 
  • Native to New Zealand 
  • Can live 30 to 50 years 
  • Lays one (maybe two) eggs in each clutch – they may have three clutches a year 
  • The heaviest kiwi – the brown kiwi – can weigh 3 to 11 pounds 
  • Even though kiwis are about the size of a chicken, their eggs are as big as an emu egg 
  • Classified in the same family – ratite – as its cousins the cassowary, emu, ostrich, and rhea 
  • Has a highly developed sense of smell 
  • Eats grubs, worms, bugs, berries, and seeds 
text: Crafts: K is for Kiwi: A Mom's Quest to Teach; photo of letter K with a construction paper kiwi; plush kiwi



1. Gather all the materials. If your children are old enough, they can draw the shapes or cut out the shapes you draw for the craft.

construction paper; letter k cut out of construction paper; glue stick; scissors

2. Glue on the letter K.

construction paper craft; glue stick; plush kiwi

3. Glue on the body of the kiwi.

4. Glue on the feet - they should stretch to the bottom two parts of the letter K.

gluing legs of construction paper kiwi onto letter K with glue stick

5. Glue on the head and beak. The beak should stretch to one of the top parts of the letter K.

gluing construction paper head of kiwi on letter k

6. Glue on the eye. Only one - the kiwi is in profile!

Construction paper kiwi glued onto letter K


Text: Summer Fun: Learn About Australian animals on a summer safari for preschoolers; A Mom's Quest to Teach; photo of koala  text: Summer Fun: Talking to Safari trip to the land down under - perfect summer learning opportunities - A Mom's Quest to Teach; photo of kangaroo