Saturday, October 20, 2018

W is for Washington (Blogging through the Alphabet)

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

Studying the history of the United States would not be complete without learning about the Founding Fathers of the nation including George Washington. The first American president was also commander of the Continental Army and president of the Constitutional Convention thus having a great impact on the historic foundation of the United States government.

How Can We Learn about George Washington?

There are so many great resources available to learn about George Washington. From primary sources of writing by Washington and about the first president to historical sites and even crafts and costumes! Learning about history does not have to be dull.

A fantastic way to learn about Washington is through read-alouds with your children. There are some great choices from different well-known publishers such as Landmark Books or National Geographic.

Learning about George Washington does not need to be relegated to older children and adults, as he is a good role model for all children. Some of the myths and stories told about Washington help us teach valuable lessons. For example, who hasn't heard the story of the cherry tree and the young Washington stating, "I cannot tell a lie" story? 

Reading through his Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation (which he wrote as a school exercise before he was 16) is a great way to study Washington and apply it to character education. Washington was a leader among his school friends – friends had even said he was not a fighter but a peacemaker on the playground. 

image from pixabay of Mount Rushmore

One of the themes that displays itself again and again in Rules of Civility is that of modesty and self-restraint. These are two great virtues to instill in children today. An interesting point made in the introduction of my copy of Rules of Civility by Letitia Baldrige is that in the time of Washington "the family was the center of the universe" and people attended church regularly where they would discuss good and bad behavior. Baldrige continues: Washington "would find our society today extremely foreign and probably unkind" (14). 

"let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave." 

To assist you in teaching the Rules of Civility, I have prepared some materials for you to use in your home or classroom. You will get three rules you can hang up in your house! 

Another great place to study George Washington is Our family has been enjoying several history courses already including Drive Thru History: American History. 

There are also interesting courses like American History for Beginners which utilizes interactive content to teach children of grades K-2 over the course of 34 weeks. Students will learn about events from 1492 to the creation of the Bill of Rights in 1791 through crafts, maps, studying vocabulary, and even recipes. 

Where can you choose from 43 history courses for your kids, with no per-course or per-student fees? During the Fall Harvest Special at, your entire family can access 400+ preK-12 courses across all subject areas for only $139/year! Use coupon code FALLGIFTS at checkout by 11/30/18 and also gain access to ten full libraries of World Book Online for research and timelines, a glimpse into nearly 600 historical events through This Day in History, and a huge streaming video library that includes Drive Thru History and Torchlighters titles! PLUS receive a FREE tote bag and THREE print fall back issues of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine (U.S. addresses only; tote colors vary). Make family history this year with all the great resources available at!

You might also enjoy:


Friday, October 19, 2018

Homeschooling and Creativity Go Hand-in-Hand

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

Art has always been one subject our teenage son has been interested in but – after an overview and history of art course in public school – we were afraid he had lost interest in the art world. It turns out that he would rather work with a camera and photographs at this time in his creative life. So I was very excited to discover Image Editing and Creation from This 36-week online course is geared for grades 6-12 and teaches the basics of editing and manipulating an image. The course uses a free software program – GIMP – at the core to teach the students about image editing and creation.

Photo unedited 

Our son has been working through the 36-week lessons, learning about the basics of GIMP, color alteration, and the sharpening and blurring of images. In order to take the course, we had to download GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) onto our desktop. This process was very easy, especially considering a recent computer crash resulted in our "new" computer being one put together from many others. Once our son familiarized himself with the program through the early lessons, he has enjoyed the different assignments. He edited a photo that he took of his younger brother to create a series of color altered photos as well as edited some at my request for this post.

Color Enhanced 

What We Added 

So far, the only thing I have added was quizzes that I created based upon the vocabulary in the lessons. I haven't felt the need to add any other other assignments at this time.

Our teen has used both images from the Internet and photographs he has taken himself in the course. I find this provides a perfect opportunity to discuss copyright and plagiarism with him as well as to introduce him to sites that offer free images for commercial use. – A Great Resource to Foster Creativity 

Image Editing and Creation is just one of the many great elective courses available at They offer 26 unique elective courses, and that doesn’t even count the courses available in other subjects that are often used as electives: art, computer and technology, drama and speech, health & fitness, and music!

There are over 200 lesson designers from 8 countries and 5 continents at! With all those personalities and experiences contributing to content, there really are courses to appeal to everyone’s interests and learning styles! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Book Club: Book Review: Shelter of the Most High

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy. Thank you.

From the crash of the ocean to a welcoming inn in Kedesh, Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette is a fabulous book that truly brings to life individuals living during the interim period between the Conquest and the Judges of the Old Testament. This book is the second in the Cities of Refuge Series but I did not feel at a loss for not having read the first book – A Light on the Hill.

Shelter of the Most High opens in 1388 BC on the Island of Sicily with Sofea and her cousin Prezi enjoying the water and caves along the coastline before returning to their pagan village to help with the fish. The lives of the two young girls quickly changes when pirates attack their village and take Sofea and Prezi across the sea to the shores of Canaan. Both girls have to overcome physical, social, and psychological challenges as they spend their time in Kedesh – a city of refuge. Under Hebraic Law, cities of refuge were appointed by God – and told to Joshua – to protect those who accidentally kill another. The killer would cry for refuge from the city elders and would be judged accordingly. (See Joshua 20 for more on the topic.)

In addition to telling the story from the viewpoint of Sofea, we also see events as they unfold through the eyes of Eitan, an Israelite living in Kedesh with his adopted mother, father, and siblings. After Sofea and Prezi are brought to his mother's inn, we see his growing interest in Sofea as well as learn more about the past he has guarded from friends.

The changing back and forth between the viewpoints of Eitan and Sofea was smooth and – from my viewpoint as a reader – was not confusing. I enjoyed being able to see a bit more into the reasons behind their feelings and actions. For example, we see the blossoming love between them from Sofea's viewpoint: "His accent curved around my name, lending it fresh beauty and a sense of intimacy that I knew I should not desire" (127). And with Eitan we learn of his growing love as he "kept my eyes roving over the teeming crowd, hoping to catch a glimpse of Sofea" (149).

There were moments, while reading the book, that I laughed aloud, felt sorrow and cried with the characters, and felt happiness for them as events worked themselves out for the main characters. It was a very quick read because it was so enjoyable.

Shelter of the Most High also contains a map of the area, a note from the author, and questions for conversation. These added details make the book all the more enjoyable to me as a reader. I happily recommend Shelter of the Most High by Connilyn Cossette to those interested in Christian fiction.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Exploring History Through Audio Theater – A Review of St. Bartholomew's Eve

There is something about history that has always intrigued me but I know many do not share my passion for the tomes of old. But we are fortunate that there are so many great ways to learn about the past including fantastic audio theater from Heirloom Audio. Our family was blessed with the chance to review their newest edition of the The Extraordinary Adventures of G. A. Henty – St. Bartholomew's Eve. My husband and our teenage son listened to the CD while traveling to Connecticut and thoroughly enjoyed it.

"Huddled together in a small chateau, mothers and children cling to each other. Weeping. Men stand guard. Waiting." 


To understand the tale of St. Bartholomew's Eve better, let me provide you with a little background history. The people that are central to the tale are the Huguenots – French Protestants who were in the middle of political and religious turmoil in France in the 1500s and 1600s.

During the reigns of King Francis I (1515-1547) and King Henry II (1547-1559), the power of the Huguenots as a group grew which led to government persecution. It was after the death of King Francis II, in 1560, that things moved violently against the Huguenots. King Charles IX and the French government were influenced by the queen mother – Catherine de Medicis – and she encouraged the Huguenots only to balance the power of the Guise family.

Eventually, a civil war broke out but with the Huguenots possessing some of the best military leaders in France, Catherine allied herself with the Duke of Guise. On Saint Bartholomew's Day, August 24, 1572, pro-Catholic forces murdered thousands of Huguenots. The massacre began in Paris (where Huguenots were gathered to celebrate the marriage of their leader – Henry of Navarre (later King Henry IV of France) to the king's sister – Margaret of Valois). Many well-known Huguenots were killed in Paris and the mobs and massacre spread throughout France. Henry of Navarre only saved his life by becoming Catholic (but he later converted back to Protestantism).

St. Bartholomew's Eve CD

The two-disc set provides 2-1/2 hours of adventure for your family as you listen to the events of early Renaissance France. Actors who help bring the story alive include Brian Blessed, Elizabeth Counsell, Brian Deacon, David Shaw-Parker, Andy Harrison, and Hugh Docking. The story will take you from your living room or car to 16th-century France where you will fight alongside the Huguenots and French Catholics.

"I have not considered it necessary to devote any large portion of my story to details of the terrible massacres of the period, nor to the atrocious persecutions to which the Huguenots were subjected; but have, as usual, gone to the military events of the struggle for its chief interest." 
Preface to St. Bartholomew's Eve by G. A. Henty

Possible Talking Points

While listening to St. Bartholomew's Eve, I quickly thought of many different topics and talking points you could further research and discuss with your children. These include:
  • Armor of God 
  • Fighting techniques of the time period 
  • Trained soldiers versus citizen soldiers 
  • Changes in weaponry 
  • Standing by your word 
  • Royal marriages and their influence on the citizens of the kingdoms 
  • Compromise and diplomacy 
  • Discrimination (the doors of the Huguenots were marked) 
  • Hiding in plain sight 
2 CD set with liner notes

What We Like

The narration of the events and actions by Brian Blessed as he portrays G. A. Henty is fantastic. For example, during one of the battle scenes, he narrates the action and we hear the clash of swords and men fighting in the background. This really brings the whole story to life. My husband also agreed that Blessed's narration was one of his favorite parts. 

From the beginning of the tale when Henty finds the two boys who are going to skip church to the end when the boys change their minds, the entire process of narration is well done. I really like the ending of the tale...the final track with Henty speaking about being able to worship freely based upon the actions of those in the story...this was a great conclusion! It brought everything together for me and also presented another great teaching moment.

Our teenage son thought it was told well considering it was "told virtually, not visually" and that overall the production was good. (Although he thought some of the sound effects were "a bit cheesy" but I contribute that to his being a teen.) His favorite part was "when the little kid with the peg leg wanted to fight."

When talking with my husband, he said the most jarring memory of the tale was when the actual slaughter began. The most stirring to him was when the Huguenots stood up to the Catholics. The climax of the audio drama was the most memorable to him.

Notes about the Audio Theater

As this production does portray battles, fighting, and some of the more violent aspects of religious intolerance, I recommend previewing St. Bartholomew's Eve before listening to it with your entire family. It is recommended for listeners of age 6 and up, but I don't know if I would let our children listen to it at that young an age. In fact, I would say that the audio drama is not for the faint of heart. For example, in one instance it describes the execution (not really in gruesome detail) of a young man who was thought to be a Huguenot and not a Catholic. They also discuss the deaths of families (being dragged into the street and meeting death). So while nothing is graphically detailed, it could be upsetting for younger children.

We enjoyed St. Bartholomew's Eve and are glad to add it to our collection of productions from Heirloom Audio. It is a great addition on our CD shelves next to Wulf the Saxon which we reviewed in February 2018.

To learn more about Heirloom Audio, please visit:

And don't forget you can read the reviews of other members of the Homeschool Review Crew!

Friday, October 12, 2018

V is for Viking (Blogging through the Alphabet)

Crashing through the waves on a longboat, men seeking adventure, or warriors charging into battle with axes raised – these are some of the images that might come to mind when hearing the term, "Viking." We often think of the various gods and goddesses of Norse mythology, too, as movies and television shows depict them in pop culture.

Vikings voyaged along the coasts of Western Europe and traveled as far as North America and to the Black Sea. They were great maritime warriors who were also great fighters on land. Historians aren't positive about why they started raiding other kingdoms and villages but it might have to do with their family structure and inheritance system. Only the eldest son would inherit from their father so younger sons needed to make their own way in the world. Going on adventures and conquests would be an excellent way for younger sons to gain treasure to set up their own household.

One of the earliest known raids occurred in 793 at the monastery in Lindisfarne. This monastery was a center of Christian learning off the Northumbrian coast and chroniclers write of the monks being either killed or taken away and of the looting of treasure by the Vikings.

During the 830s, the Viking raids increased and they visited numerous places and cities including: Antwerp, Paris, the coast of Spain, the coasts of the Black Sea, and Constantinople.

Keys to Viking Success 

Why were the Vikings so successful on their raids? Why didn't people just prepare for their arrival and fight back? The Vikings were able to concentrate all of their raiding forces at an unexpected point to launch their attack. For example, they could land wherever they wanted by merely grounding their vessels on the beach. 

The voyage from Denmark to England in a longboat would only take about two days. 

And even if they were repulsed, they could quickly relaunch because their longboats had a prow at each end. They did not need to turn their boats around for a rapid escape. 

The skills of their everyday life prepared the men for their raids. They didn't need any specialized training because sailing, warfare, hunting, and sports provided the means to learn how to be a good Viking warrior. Even the fact that they were living in dangerous times aided them in preparation. 

Establishment of Kingdoms 

Over time, the wintering camps of Vikings became permanent bases and they expanded their control and rule in other lands. For example, the Danes took control over Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia. By 911, they controlled Normandy. Eventually, they even held territory near Novgorod and Kiev. As they intermarried and became more settled, the Vikings raided less. Their armies still terrified other kingdoms (the Vikings were physically stronger and could wield larger weapons) but they did not embark on as many conquering raids. 

Odin's Warriors 

There was a special group of warriors who were wild and were said to owe allegiance to the one-eyed Norse god, Odin. These 'berserkers' were said to truly believe in the idea that a warrior should die heroically in battle. Even though historians debate their existence, we can find details about them in Norse literature. They fought wearing bear or wolf skin – no armor. Before battle they would enter a trance-like fury which would enable them to fight ferociously. Supposedly, they would growl and roar before charging into battle and were said to be immune to pain. 

Homeschooling and Learning about Vikings 

We have been using this year for our teen and his homeschooling needs. One of the courses he has been taking is American Literature in Historical Context, which looks at literature from pre-colonization to post-modernism. One of the first works that he read was the Viking Tales by Jennie Hall. After reading several tales, our son completed a journal entry in which he examined the character traits of the Vikings.

American Literature in Historical Context is a 36-week text-based course for grades 9-12 designed by Melissa Williamson who has a degree in education in middle grades English and Social Studies. In order to truly understand American literature, students will study the works in conjunction with the cultural and historical events of the time. Personally, I think this is a great idea and this is why we choose this as one of the courses our teenage son is taking this homeschool year.

Wonderful Opportunity to Join 

The Fall Harvest Special at “leaves” you ready for learning! From 10/1/18 through 11/30/18, you can receive a FULL YEAR of Ultimate Membership for only $139 (reg. $179)! With access to 400+ courses across all ages, 10 libraries of World Book Online, household and academic organizational tools, and a supportive community of fellow homeschoolers, there is something for everyone at! Lock in this discounted annual rate for your entire family, plus receive a FREE tote bag and THREE print fall back issues of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine (shipped to U.S. addresses only; tote colors vary). Use coupon code FALLGIFTS today to "rake" in a content-rich, parent-friendly, educational experience. Don’t let this deal blow away!

Resources and References 

Viking Tales by Jennie Hall

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Homeschooling a High School Student: Biology with

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

Even though I used to be a high school history teacher, I was apprehensive about homeschooling our teen. This year we are homeschooling our high school-aged son for the first time. While I felt confident in my ability to share knowledge of history, literature, and some areas of science, I was concerned about meeting the needs of an entire rigorous high school curriculum.

Fortunately, our family has access to over 400 courses through our membership to So I am relying mostly upon to help me teach our teen. I was able to find more than enough courses for our teen to take during his first year of homeschooling, including General Biology by Core Academy.

About the Course 

General Biology by Core Academy is a general high school biology course designed for tenth grade. Divided into two semesters, it covers an introduction to science, human biology, ecology, zoology, botany, microbiology, cell biology, genetics, and origins. The course is taught from a Christian worldview.

The course is designed for four days a week over 32 weeks which is a perfect fit for our homeschool. While we aren't strictly following a four-day-a-week schedule, I like the ability to vary our teen's assignments so he is not working on all his subjects each and every day.

In general, each lesson or session has a video lesson with an outline to fill out and supplementary vocabulary for the lessons and units. Most sections contain a quiz and some reading assignments. Parents can choose from a variety of Christian textbooks as well as a free biology textbook that can be downloaded that is not from a Christian creationist worldview. I have also chosen to supplement the free textbook with a copy of a traditional public school textbook to provide an offline way for our teen to study biology.

The video sessions available for part of Unit 2.

So far our teen has worked through Unit 1 (An Introduction to Science) and several lessons in Unit 2 about the skeleton, muscles, and skin. He has taken several quizzes and one test. The course is very easy to organize because it comes with plans that organize the lessons by topic and session for the two semesters. I use this when creating our weekly lesson plan and assigning him work and scheduling the quizzes and tests.

What I Added to the Course

To supplement the unit on human biology and anatomy, I am also including diagrams for our teen to study and label. These were not included with the course since it is a general biology course and not solely on anatomy. By incorporating these different exercises I hope to provide our teen with additional ways to be successful with the subject matter.

We will also be adding additional activities that he can do with our two younger children that would be considered just fun things for him to do. This could be activities such as cutting out and correctly arranging a skeleton or labeling the parts of the body using a puzzle.

What Our Teen Likes About General Biology

One of our teen's favorite parts of the course is Dr. Todd C. Wood, the lesson designer. Dr. Wood is the president of Core Academy and professor of biochemistry. He is "funny at times and he makes things easy to understand," according to our 16-year-old.

Our teen spends about 20 to 30 minutes each day working on biology independently. Depending on whether or not he is taking one of the quizzes, tests, or completing a reading assignment he may spend an additional 20 to 30 minutes as needed.

So far the only thing our teen has found difficult is the formatting of the some of the outlines. He finds that the actual video presentation sometimes skips around and he had to "flip back to answer something else." However, when I asked him if he had any recommendations, he only commented that a better microphone would make it easier to understand.

I print out the fill-in outlines for our son to use during the videos.

Need some parent-friendly, yet challenging science courses? How about experiments that don’t require fancy lab equipment? has over 45 science courses for preschool through grade 12. Your teen can study not only chemistry and biology for credit, but also courses like botany, animal science, and marine biology! A membership gives you access to 400+ courses, as well as hundreds of other resources, including ten full libraries of World Book Online (more great science activities!). No per-child fees or textbooks! Lock in your Fall Harvest Special annual membership rate of $139, using coupon code FALLGIFTS and also receive a tote bag and three print fall back issues of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine for FREE. Hurry, this sale ends 11/30/18!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Book Club: Book Review: Daniel: Man of God

Disclaimer: I received a PDF copy for free from the publisher in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own.This post contains affiliate links. For more information please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy. Thank you.

Image of Daniel in the Lion's DenDaniel: Man of God by Dwight L. Moody is an Aneko Press Christian Classic published in 2018. Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) traveled an estimated 1 million miles, preached to more than 1 million people, and had a number of works published. Daniel: Man of God, a short book of only 7 chapters, is a personal invitation into the lives of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Nebuchadnezzar. While many people know the story of Daniel and the lions' den or of the fiery furnace, this book provides a deeper look into the entire time period in a very easy-to-read manner. It will also help modern Christians reflect upon certain circumstances – such as when Daniel and his friends refuse to eat food from the king.

Even though this book was first published in 1884, people today might still react the same way – "when in Rome, do as the Roman does" – how can Daniel expect to live according to his religion in a foreign land? Too many people would take the easy way out and this book provides a great reminder that devotion and love of the Lord is really important.

We are reminded again and again that God was with the Jews while they were in Babylon by Moody in Daniel: Man of God. An example is provided in Daniel – his faith was very strong. God is "able to deliver" the men from the extreme heat of the furnace but Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not claim that God would deliver them. In the furnace there were four men. Wonderful advice is provided by Moody – "dare to do right; dare to be true; dare to be honest" (30).

"God can take care of us when we pass through the fires." – D.L. Moody 

In addition to the more recognizable stories from the book of Daniel, Moody also looks at the time when Nebuchadnezzar goes mad but then regains his sanity and attains a new spirit. Just like men today, he was thinking and doing things as if his success was a result of his own power – not that of God's. We also read about Belshazzar and Darius.

Through the story of the lions' den, Moody reminds us that "the world will persecute a man if he attempts to live the life of a true Christian" (58) but Daniel was courageous and did not let vanity or warnings of persecution compromise his sense of love and duty to God.

"Character is worth more than money." – D.L. Moody

I really enjoyed reading Daniel: Man of God by Moody. In the past, I have found reading Dwight L. Moody a little laborious but this book was very difficult to put down – I enjoyed it that much. I would recommend it to those who enjoy reading Christian classics, to those individuals who wish to know more about the book of Daniel, or those interested in reading more from Dwight L. Moody.

The 2018 Aneko Press edition of Daniel: Man of God is available from Amazon, Aneko Press, and other booksellers. There are other updated classics available from Aneko Press including:
The Way to God, How to Study the Bible, and others.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Book Club: Mousetronaut

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

Mousetronaut is a very enjoyable book written by Astronaut Mark Kelly and illustrated by C.F. Payne. The book tells a fictionalized account of a real mouse who traveled on a mission in space in 2001. The afterword of the book contains facts and details about the real mission in which 18 mice (who all stayed in their cage) journeyed into space.

There are so many great activities one could do with your children when reading Mousetronaut. From learning new vocabulary to creating a timeline, I will share some ideas with you.


Usually when we read a book for the first time we do not stop and discuss every new word unless there is a question. I prefer to leave the vocabulary work to a second or third reading. Perhaps you like to introduce the words before you read the story. Whatever your method, check out this vocabulary worksheet I created to accompany any book about space including Mousetronaut.


A fantastic way to teach and organize information is using timelines. There are a number of approaches you can take when using timelines with your children.

One of the ways our younger children use timelines is with index cards. I write out the facts on index cards with the dates and then we put them in order on the floor as we read them. You could even tape them onto a wall if you wish to leave the timeline up for several days or weeks to study and reference.

Check out my timeline resource which contains some of the information you might want to discuss regarding space travel.

Art Project

With our children being younger, they really enjoy creating crafts with the different books we read. For this one I decided to incorporate a painting project.



1. Gather all your materials. I pre-cut the space shuttle for our children. Our children decorated their shuttles looking at photographs of some real-life ones like the Endeavor or Discovery.

Materials needed for space shuttle craft

2. Choose your background paper. We decided upon darker colors for the night sky.

3. Place the paper inside the cardboard box (a small piece or two of tape on the back of the paper will help keep it in place).

4. Choose two or three colors of paint. Drip some paint onto the paper in the box.

5. Place the marbles or balls into the box and then tip the box back and forth so that they roll through the paint and onto the paper.

6. After the paint is dry, assemble your space shuttle and glue or tape onto your painted night sky.


There were over 300 men and women who traveled into space through the space shuttle program of NASA. Research one of those individuals to learn more about their lives and their journey to becoming an astronaut.

Here are just a few of their names:

  • Neil Armstrong
  • Buzz Aldrin 
  • Mae C. Jemison
  • John Glenn
  • Sally Ride
  • Christa McAuliffe
  • Scott Kelly 
  • Ronald McNair
Image from the book Mousetronaut

If you complete or create any of these ideas, please share them with me! Be sure to tag #momsquesttoteach on Instagram so I can see your children's artwork.


NASA STEM Engagement (education site of NASA)

NASA Space Place