Thursday, April 30, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of The Lost Lieutenant

book cover of The Lost Lieutenant; clip art of bride and groom and A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this book 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.

Historical fiction can bring to life the days of the past by introducing imaginary – but totally believable – characters amidst a variety of events in the past. These stories can also encourage readers to go research the time period to learn more on their own. In The Lost Lieutenant readers are immersed in the Regency Era of Great Britain meeting a war hero and his future bride. Erica Vetsch weaves a tale of suspense while her characters demonstrate their faith in God. Reading and reviewing The Lost Lieutenant was a pleasure.

book cover of The Lost Lieutenant

About the Story

First in the Serendipity & Secrets series, The Lost Lieutenant begins in Berkshire, England on January 4, 1813, at the home of Diana Seaton. She is preparing, at her father's bidding, for her debut season in London while worrying about how she will be able to keep her promise to her sister. What was once a dream - escaping to the capital city of London and attending a myriad of social events - is now something she is dreading as she would rather stay at home on the Seaton Estate.

We are quickly transported to a hospital where we meet Evan Eldridge who was injured at the Battle of Salamanca in the South of Spain. Even though Evan was mostly healed physically, he was still suffering from nightmares, memory loss, and panic attacks. He was suffering from what the French called "Vent du boulet" – the wind of the bullet. Soldiers who suffered from the wind of the bullet thought the war was still going on around them even though they were nowhere near the battlefield. What would happen to the soldier who was the best sharpshooter of his regiment? What would happen to Evan Eldridge? Readers quickly learn his life will be turned upside by the Prince Regent in no time at all.

Book cover of The Lost Lieutenant; quote: "And yet there was one hard and fast rule he was learning. One did not say no to the Prince Regent." - Evan

The story of Diana and Evan in The Lost Lieutenant is set in the Regency Era. This was the time period when the Prince Regent (who would become King George IV) ruled in place of his father, King George III, who was ill. The Lost Lieutenant is set in 1814, which was in the early years of the Regency Era (1811 to 1820). The Prince Regent is very involved in the lives of both Diana and Evan as he confers the title of Earl of Whitelock upon Evan Eldridge for rescuing the godson of the Prince Regent. This godson just happens to be the half-brother of Diana who was being presented at court on the same day.

My Thoughts

book cover of The Lost Lieutenant; clip art of dragon; Enter to Win prize back dated April 21-May 12
I liked how, through a series of events and coincidences, the Prince Regent promoted the marriage of Evan and Diana which would end up being extremely beneficial to both of them. Diana would be free of her father's influence and be able to fulfill her promise to her deceased sister. Evan would have a strong helper in starting out as a member of the peerage in the way of his wife. (Evan was also receiving help from Marcus Haverly, himself a member of the aristocracy but a second son.) All the struggles that befell Evan were due to the fact that you do not say, "No," to the Prince Regent. I love the fact that the ruling class has such power over the aristocracy (who has such power over everyone else). Such an interesting difference from the way most of us are used to living today.

I felt very drawn to the characters. I was eager to find out what would happen to Evan and his new life as Earl of Whitelock. This title was accompanied by an estate that was crumbling and ill-kept even with a dutiful man remaining behind at the estate when the old Earl had died. When Evan and his Lady Diana arrived at White Haven, they discovered just how much work was ahead of them. They basically had to achieve a miracle in time for the visit of the Prince Regent.

I would recommend The Lost Lieutenant to those who enjoy historical fiction, Christian romance, and Christian fiction. Please note there are scenes in which Erica Vetsch tackles some difficult subjects like the physical and emotional abuse that Diana faces from her father and pre-marital relations that occur within the aristocracy. So even while The Lost Lieutenant examines weighty issues (including Evan's own stress from serving in the war), the book is enjoyable and uplifting as Evan and Diana find hope in each other and God.

Read my review of the second book in the series! 

About the Author – Erica Vetsch

photo of Erica Vetsch

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award-winning author. She loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. You can find her at the following social media pages:

Website – Twitter – Facebook – Instagram 

Would you like to read The Lost Lieutenant yourself? Do you want to learn more about the giveaway?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wordless Wednesday: Bowling

A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo; Bowling Ball & Pins clipart from

Before things drastically changed and entertainment venues were closed, our family joined our church family with an afternoon out bowling. For our youngest two children and I, this was our first trip bowling.

Bowling balls

Bowling fun

bowling alley keyboard

Bowling Alley Fun

Bowling balls

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of Stay by Anjuli Paschall

Disclaimer: 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.

For many, figuring out how to handle the difficult moments in life is not an easy task. Anjuli Paschall wrote Stay: Discovering Grace, Freedom, and Wholeness Where You Never Imagined Looking to help readers discover how to seek comfort in the painful moments and find peace with God. Stay is a memoir-like book in which the author invites us to stay in those very places we want to avoid or run from because they are what we actually need to become whole. When we stay in these moments, we can open our heart to Jesus to find His love. This 221-page hardcover book helps us address the pain in our past through staying with God.

"God, in love, always welcomes us to stay and dine at the table with him." (20) 

This story of Anjuli Paschall is divided into 21 chapters with a discussion guide for each chapter asking such questions as:

  • "Would you describe your relationship with Jesus as hard or easy"?"
  • "List a few ways God tangibly provided for you in the past." 
All the questions and statements are thought-provoking and one could easily journal their responses as they read the book. The only thing I would change is printing the Discussion Questions: Thoughts to Consider at the end of each individual chapter to make them easier to remember to reflect upon and answer. 

Scattered throughout the book are larger quotes printed which are pulled from the various chapters. These help readers focus upon key thoughts.

There is a lot of wisdom to be gleaned from the story of her life that Paschall shares. We see how she learns that "mistakes are not my enemy but my guide back to Jesus" (33) and that the secrets we hide – that we hate parts of ourselves – are actually carried by Jesus. He carried "an entire world of brokenness" when He breathed his last on the cross. Even when we fear being rejected or misunderstood, if we take the time to listen to God we can help those who need our help. 

Throughout Stay, Paschall discusses marriage, careers, raising children, friendship, anxiety, and more topics. I really found Stay to be an interesting and helpful book. At first, I admit to having my doubts because who really wants to stay in the dark moments of their life? But in the end I found the book to be uplifting and useful. I made many notes for myself so I could go back and reread sections a second time. I would recommend Stay to those individuals looking for a closer relationship with God.

I am including this book as part of the AtoZ Reading Challenge.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of The Hidden Message of the Great Seal

eagle clipart; bookcover of The Hidden Message of the Great Seal; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo

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

As someone with a degree in history and as a former high school history teacher, I was very interested to read The Hidden Message of the Great Seal: How Foundational Truth from The Dawn of Liberty May Rescue a Republic in Peril by Michael Kanis. This paperback book is published by The Hidden Message, LLC with full-color, glossy pictures to help detail the message and explanation of the Great Seal. There are charts, a timeline, and many direct quotes to help present a message that has been hidden for over 230 years as interpreted by the author.

"There is a mission for this book that goes beyond the message of the seal. The message is part of it, but it is only the beginning. What you will discover when you read The Hidden Message is that there is a mission and calling for each American. This calling is a trust that you have inherited as a keeper of the republic." (quote from The Hidden Message of the Great Seal's mission statement

photograph of author Michael Kanis
author Michael Kanis
Why did Michael Kanis start this journey? When Kanis started his journey and research, he did not know that he would "uncover things about our national symbol that have not been discovered since their genesis" (8). The author took his third son on an educational trip to Philadelphia and took a visit to Valley Forge. It was there, at the U.S. National Memorial Arch, that the Great Seal was really brought to his notice. Kanis' friend and their tour guide spoke of the symbolism including that "Novus Ordo Seclorum" does not mean "New World Order" like so many believe.

Before Kanis begins to examine the Great Seal of the United States in the book, he explains his motivation and approach. He pursued the clues to discover the meaning of allegory, studied the men who were involved in the creation of the Great Seal, employed heraldry, and applied the meaning of the allegory to the people that it was meant to serve - the people of the United States. Attention is also given to the misconceptions held about the seal such as that is associated with the occult, the Illuminati, or Freemasonry. In each chapter, Kanis attempts to help us follow along with his approach so we can better understand the symbols used (like the eye), the men who were involved (like Francis Hopkinson), and the links between the Great Seal and other coins, seals, and jetons of foreign nations (like the Netherlands).

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal is a large paperback book of 256 pages with endnotes. As it is a coffee table-sized book, I found it a bit difficult to sit down and read. I appreciate the idea of having a larger book so that full-color photos could be larger but I think I would have preferred it to be about half the size to make for easier holding in my hands. And as the pages are of a glossy type, I think it might be more difficult if someone wished to take notes within the book itself. (For the purpose of this review, I took notes on index cards and kept them in the book.)

book cover of The Hidden Message of the Great Seal with ruler

inside the book The Hidden Message of the Great Seal with a ruler

book cover of The Hidden Message of the Great Seal; clipart of the USI really wanted to enjoy reading The Hidden Message of the Great Seal. I was intrigued to see how the symbols used are not connected to things that people often point out. People are so quick to state that the eye is that of Horus and is therefore pagan and that the pyramid links back to the Egyptians (another pagan reference).

I don't know whether I am convinced as to the arguments put forth by Kanis. I think it will take more than one reading of this book to truly be able to discern all the information presented. If one is unfamiliar with English history, early American history, Biblical studies, or early religious history, then they might need to stop and research a bit before moving onto each following chapter. For example, Kanis spends time addressed Charles I, the English Civil War, and Oliver Cromwell to better explain one of the early mottos: "Rebellion to Tyrants Is Obedience to God." Now I just so happen to love British history so I was already familiar with these events but if you were not a student of this period of British history, you might be confused.

How Can You Use The Hidden Message of the Great Seal in Your Homeschool?

I can think of a number of ways in which you could use this book in your homeschool. As it is a lengthy book, I have been the only one in my family to read it but I do plan on passing it along to our teen son to read so we can discuss it. I think it will fit in nicely as he is studying the American Government this homeschool year.

The book can be read for a homeschool history course, government course, or social studies course at the high school level. Reading The Hidden Message of the Great Seal can also help children see how to and how not to present an opinion or argument in a written work. Reading this work of historical non-fiction will help them be able to better present their own historical cases. While reading the book, you can also focus upon the Latin as part of Latin courses or studies. To demonstrate an understanding of the work, your children can create their own timeline of events similar to what is presented in the book.

photo of the timeline inside the book The Hidden Message of the Great Seal

There is a list of things that we can do to defend freedom provided by the author that includes writing to someone in government, attending a town hall meeting, and other great ideas that anyone can incorporate into their lives. This list is part of an entire chapter on freedom that might be interesting to read and discuss with your children. The author discusses how the individuals involved in the American Revolution viewed freedom and how it is tied to virtues.

I think that The Hidden Message of the Great Seal is a book that requires each reader to make their own decision regarding whether or not the author proved his point. I believe individuals might come to the reading of this book with lots of preconceived notions and therefore each person will need a different level of explanation, examination, and presentation of research to determine whether or not they agree with Kanis' point of view.

At the very end of the book, Kanis presents an image of the Great Seal that he believes is an accurate and faithful representation of the congressional report. Throughout The Hidden Message of the Great Seal, we view the Great Seal in various stages and finally we see the culmination in what the author believes it was meant to look like.

Whether or not one agrees with all the points that Kanis makes in his work, I think readers can still walk away feeling a renewed desire to support virtue and justice in the United States. The founders of the United States of America wished to create a nation for future generations and citizens of today can continue to work for a better nation for our children.

Would You Like to Learn More?

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal discount code; 50 % off expires May 30 2020

Please be sure to see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew have to say about The Hidden Message of the Great Seal by visiting the reviews

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Friday, April 24, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of Before I Called You Mine

text: Book Club: Book Review of Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; clipart of family

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

I had the joy of reading Before I Called You Mine: A Novel by Nicole Deese from Bethany House Publishers. This paperback book is 368 pages and tells the story of Lauren Bailey and her journey to motherhood. While the story provides a look into the of a single woman seeking to adopt from China, we also see a relationship develop between Lauren and the new substitute in her school - Joshua Avery.

The Story of Lauren 

Lauren is a first-grade teacher who is eagerly awaiting a call from the adoption agency that her dream of becoming a mother is coming true. She is the typical fun, enthusiastic, and caring teacher often depicted in books, television shows, and movies. Lauren has studied how to teach reading. In fact, the new substitute teacher, Joshua, is the son of George Avery who wrote her favorite reading books including Create a Reader in 30 Days and Reading Express for Kids (fictional books).

Lauren and Joshua quickly become friends. Friendship is all that Lauren wants because she is going to be adopting as a single mother. She does not want to start a relationship with Joshua, even though she is falling in love with him. Joshua, along with some of her other friends, stood by her as she prepared a nursery for her potential new child (even giving her advice on the color). They even shared Christmas together with his family. While there were changes to her adoption process, everything seems to be going right to push the two of them together. Readers see how many factors influence Lauren's decision to be a mother.

book cover of Before I Called You Mine: A Novel

What Did I Think?

There were more than a few occasions when I was surprised with the turn of events in Before I Called You Mine. I thought I had worked out the next plot twist but was shocked with the next step. I enjoy books where things are not always what they seem.

I felt the characters were well developed and I really wish we had more time to spend with Lauren's family (even if they caused her trouble), the members of the adoption support group, and others. Even with the small amount of time spent with these individuals, I did feel like they came to life. In fact, the whole story came to life for me. The story was set in the fall and winter and including Thanksgiving and Christmas, and as a reader, it was effortless for me to imagine I standing alongside Lauren and Joshua as the Christmas tree was lit in the town square.

Text: Book Club: Book Review; A Mom's Quest to Teach; book cover of Before I Called You Mine

One of my favorite parts was when Joshua and Lauren went to Build-A-Bear to purchase bears for the little girls in their lives. Joshua, the man who wears a T-Rex shirt, picked out the dinosaur but Lauren was quick to ask if the dinosaur was the best choice. Wouldn't the sparkly pink unicorn one be better? We then followed them through the process of having the unicorns prepared for purchase. It was at this point that Lauren admitted that falling in love with Joshua was the easiest thing she had ever done.

My only problem came with an emphasis on public education. While I realize that Lauren is a first-grade teacher and this plays into why she connects so quickly with Joshua and his family, I did find it to be a bit too much as a homeschooling parent. (And I was a public school teacher before I became a homeschooling mom.) I was also a bit annoyed by a child at the beginning of the book characterizing The Boxcar Children as boring tales. (We see a scene where the children are taken for library time in the school. Apparently Lauren reads much more exciting tales than the librarian.) I feel like a real book series should not have been signaled out as boring.

Do I recommend Before I Called You Mine? Yes, I think it is a well-written story about the life of one woman seeking to adopt a child. Individuals who have adopted or are going through the adoption process may find the book interesting to read. The author, Nicole Deese, and her husband have themselves adopted. So even though this is not the story of their journey, it does allow insight into the adoption in the real world.

I am including this book in the AtoZ Reading Challenge for 2020.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of Psalms for My Day

cover of Psalms for My Day book; logo of Christian Focus Publications and A Mom's Quest to Teach

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

Quality books that are based in the Bible are so important to include in our homeschool. I loved having the opportunity to read and review Psalms for My Day: A Child's Prayer Devotional by Carine MacKenzie and Alec Motyer. We received a beautiful hardcover book to read to our children from Christian Focus Publications.

book cover of Psalms for My Day: A Child's Praise Devotional

About the Book

Psalms for My Day is recommended with a read-to-me age of 4-6 and a read-myself age of 7-11. I found this to be right on target. While our five-year-old daughter has been able to read part of it with me, she still needs help with some of the words as well as help understanding the Psalms. Our six-year-old son could read most of the Psalms to himself but I still think he needs help with the meaning by the Psalms quoted as well as the devotionals included.

The hardcover book is really easy to hold while our children sit on my lap or next to me on the couch. I have also spent some time reading the book to our children during their lunch. Again, the book is quite easy to hold and share the pictures with them while I am reading it.

There are 86 pages with an introduction, a glossary of new words, and thirty-one Psalms represented in the book. There is even a red ribbon to mark your place. Each Psalm is usually spread out over two pages. Some pages contain absolutely beautiful illustrations such as one with herons and another featuring an underwater scene. There are also some quotes from Alec Motyer scattered throughout such as:

"I cannot remember a time when I did not Love the Bible as the Word of God." 

Text from inside Psalms for My Day book

What Do We Think?

I really love the fact that Psalms for My Day: A Child's Prayer Devotional provides children with not only direct readings from the Psalms but also devotions and prayers. Each one can be read independently and turn into a wonderful lesson with our children.

Text: Book Club: Book Review of Psalms for My Day; Read through the Psalms with your Children; image of child reading book; logos for Christian Focus Publications & A Mom's Quest to TeachSo how did we use this wonderful resource in our homeschool? On some days, I read them one or two Psalms while they were eating lunch and, on other days, I chose to read them at bedtime. I also read through it myself to inspire my own Bible-journaling time. The Psalms themselves are always inspiring but with the gorgeous illustrations, explanations, and prayers of this book added in, I was able to be very creative with my journaling time.

Our six-year-old son liked being able to read the Psalms with me using this book and our five-year-old daughter liked reading the prayers aloud. Our six-year-old son told me his favorite one in the book was Psalm 23. He liked the picture of the shepherd and the image it created in his mind.

I would recommend Psalms for My Day to families who are seeking more Christian books for their children's bookshelves. It would make a beautiful present for a birthday, Christmas, or Easter. I feel like it opened a new part of the Bible up to our children. It is very easy to share the stories of Jesus and individuals from the Old Testament with our children but sometimes more difficult to share parts of the Bible that are not telling a narrative. Psalms for My Day is a great way to introduce beautiful poetry to younger children.

Do You Want to Learn More?

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The Homeschool Review Crew had the option to review several different works in addition to Psalms for My Day published by Christian Focus including 30 Prophecies: One Story and Not If, But When: Preparing Our Children for Worldly Images. Please visit the Crew's page to find more reviews.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Review of Focus on Fives from BJU Press Homeschool

Text: A Review of Focus on Fives from BJU Press Homeschool: Kindergarten at Home; product images; logo of BJU Press Homeschool & A Mom's Quest to Teach

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

Our daughter has been eager to join in with the homeschooling studies of her older brothers ever since we started homeschooling. She wants to do the same activities as her six-year-old brother yet she is only just mastering some of the skills he already has acquired. When the opportunity to review BJU Press Focus on Fives presented itself, I jumped at it. I knew our daughter would be so excited to have a homeschooling program that was designed for her age and skill level. Because BJU Press Homeschool is the publisher, I knew I did not need to worry about any questionable content and that the material would be of high quality. This is excellent Christian Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum for families.

What Did We Receive?

We received in two separate boxes the Focus on Fives Subject Kit (fourth edition) which contains the following materials:

  • Focus on Fives K5 Teacher's Edition: 6 separate spiral-bound books that outline the objectives, lessons, crafts, snack ideas, extended activities, and more. 
book cover of Teacher's Edition Unit 1

  • Focus on Fives K5 Worktext: A full-color paperback book with pages that are easy to tear out. Each lesson seems to reference at least one page. The book is designed so that the pages will tear out easily. There is also a supplement section in the back of the book with a kindergarten diploma, lesson cutouts, and checkups. 
cover of Worktext and two pages from the workbook; text: A bright colorful cover for the Worktext with Hopscotch, Hopper, Dottie, and Bonnie; Sometimes the lessons require children to write while other lessons require children to cut and match pictures (which are in the back of the book)

  • Reading Books for K5: There are 34 paper books total that are landscape-oriented. The books progress from simple picture books with no text to books with increasingly challenging reading required.
book from collection - inside The Bed

book from collection; Naps; Reading Reward certificate from back of book

  • Phonics Practice for K5: This full-color workbook has a variety of exercises that align with the different lessons. For example, Lesson 103 has worksheets that focus upon 'wh' and asks your child to circle the pictures that begin with that sound. It also contains the Phonics Stories that you will need for some lessons. 
  • K5 Phonics and Review Cards: You receive a stack of pre-cut cards. Some of these are meant to be taken home by children using this curriculum in a schooling setting to help them review.
Focus on Fives Phonics cards

  • K5 Write Now! Handwriting: This book is printed in black and white with a paper cover. On some days, our daughter likes to color in the picture that is on the page.  
Focus on Fives Write Now! cover and inside the workbook; Text: Write Now! Workbook has a paper cover and is in printed in black & white; Sometimes the lessons require only half a page to be completed

  • K5 Phonics Flip Charts 
  • Focus on Fives Teaching Visuals Flip Chart: This is a spiral-bound book. The pages can be removed or left in the book.
I have been able to keep everything in one of the two boxes in which everything was shipped by standing all the books upright within the box. I added a few envelopes to hold the materials as well as paperclips and rubber bands to hold all the cards together. 

How Are We Using Focus on Fives in our Homeschool? 

There are a total of 180 lessons spread across seven units in Focus on Fives and we are averaging about three-quarters to one-and-a-half lessons a day in our homeschool. On average, we have been completing a little bit more than one scheduled week's worth in one week.
number 5 graphic; cover of Phonics workbook; Bonnie Phonics card

The Teacher's Edition is written for use within a classroom but homeschool parents can easily adapt it in their own homes with one or two children. Everything is so very clear and detailed that—even if you are brand new to homeschooling and have never used a teacher's manual before—you should feel confident in using Focus on Five with your kindergartener. I started by reading through the six goals, the Biblical worldview themes, examining the lesson features, going over the instructional materials, the goals of the reading books and the reading book lesson features, and the lesson plan overview. This information is all presented in the introduction prior to the first lesson plan. (There is also additional information in the introduction that I skimmed over because they did not apply to me since I am using Focus on Fives in my homeschool and not in a classroom with learners of different abilities.)

To prepare, I went through and pulled the necessary pages from the Worktext, Phonics Practice, and Write Now! workbooks and paperclipped them with the lessons in the Teacher's Edition along with any Phonics Charts and Cards that were necessary. For those lessons where I wanted to incorporate materials from the back of the Teacher's Edition (instructional materials and creative writing sheets that you will need to copy for your child), I copied them and placed them with the lessons, too.

Materials needed for Dalmatian Sort
One of the activities that requires you to photocopy needed pages from the back of the Teacher's Guide.

Playing Dalmatian Sort
Our daughter had to match the objects to the letter that they start with on the dalmatian. 

There are so many options for you to make the lessons fit the needs of your children!

I think the easiest way to demonstrate how Focus on Fives works – especially in our homeschool – is to walk you through one lesson, Lesson 10: Surprise

At the start of the lesson, we reviewed previous information that we talked about, including the words "it" and "I" and the letters "i" and "t". We then used the Worktext worksheets which were Review for You pages.

page from Focus on Fives workbook

This lesson also included the reading of the second book: Surprise! Before reading the book, I asked our daughter the questions written in the Teacher's Edition (What do you see? What do you think the surprise will be?) and then we progressed into the book. There are seven pages in the Teacher's Edition with questions to ask during the reading of the book along with comprehension questions. (I love how the questions, answers, and pages from the book are directly printed in the Teacher's Edition.)

page from Teacher's Edition and children's book
The student's book here is laid on top of the Teacher's Edition.

The final activity for this lesson that we completed was the page from the Write Now! workbook where our daughter colored a picture of a bird and wrote the word "it". There are additional activities including a snack suggestion and an arts and crafts activity.

page from Write Now! workbook of a bird

So how long does each lesson take? Everything depends on how many of the various activities you include in each lesson. To maintain our daughter's attention I usually split each lesson into more than one part throughout the day. We may spend 20 to 30 minutes at a time. For example, we may complete one worksheet from the Worktext book and then go over different words that start with the letter 's'. If I have everything set up, we may finish up with a craft. Later in the day (even after dinner on a few occasions), we may complete the writing exercise from the Write Now! workbook. Sometimes, I even save those for the next day.

What Did We Think? 

We have the had the chance to really start a formal homeschool education with our daughter. Up till this point she has been using various materials as a preschooler but not set curriculum. I think that BJU Press Focus on Fives has been a fantastic resource to introduce her to more formal homeschooling. It allows us flexibility to meet her needs – she loves arts and crafts, to move around during her homeschooling, to work while sitting on the couch with me rather than at a table, and to be physically active while she learns.

Easter page; fire truck; tent; cloud with rainbow; 9-1-1 craft
We have been hanging up some of her artwork and lesson pages on the wall along with our social studies materials.
completing worksheet
The flexibility of using this curriculum allows our daughter to complete work while sitting in my lap.

Our daughter really couldn't decide on a favorite part of the lessons. She loves having the books that she could read and share with the rest of the family. Being able to write her name on them when she completed them was a great bonus. The extended activities that allowed her to be creative and get up and move were also important to her as she loves art projects and being physically active. I love that she gets a variety of activities in each lesson that helps build her writing and reading skills while teaching her about the world around her.

completing worksheet from write now!
Even with simple worksheets, she can be creative and color the spaces with the letter 'i' in whatever manner she chooses.

What Do We Have to Look Forward To? 

One of the things I am looking forward to is being able to take our family to visit some of the places we are learning about in Focus on Fives such as a fire station, post office, police station, and more. If this were a normal homeschooling season, we would have planned a trip to visit the places during each appropriate week but we will have to save those trips for the future.

I am really looking forward to using Focus on Fives for the rest of the homeschool year with our daughter. Just flipping through Teacher's Editions, I can see so many awesome lessons. In Unit 2, we will discuss the parts of the Bible, about libraries, nursery rhymes, and more about books and writing. In Unit 3, our daughter and I will talk about animals in the Bible (like sheep, donkeys, and lions), contrast the differences between a family farm and a commercial farm, and talk about how to take care of pets. In Units 4 and 5, we will study places, r-blends, how God answers prayers, the Pledge of Allegiance, and short and long i, o, and u words. A look at the Untied States White House is one of the many lessons in Unit 6. Finally, Unit 7 contains a review as well as lessons for various Holidays. I discovered the Easter lesson right before Easter so we were able to include one of the activities. (You can see the Angel in front of the empty tomb worksheet in the display of various projects from Focus on Fives in one of the above photographs.) I look forward to completing the Memorial Day lessons at the end of May.

In the near future, I will be greatly anticipating the next set of lessons we will be working on after finishing up the week about Postal Workers. It was fun to talk about the history of the postal service and teach our daughter about how to address envelopes. But I think the final week of Unit 1 will be very important, too. We will take a look at ways to keep healthy, ways to stay healthy, and talk about how to distinguish fantasy from realistic fiction along with many other language arts activities.

Do I recommend the BJU Press Five on Fives curriculum? YES! I have been really pleased with the entire package and love the flexibility it is affording us in our homeschool. I can see our daughter growing as a new homeschool student who is studying kindergarten at home.

all the products for BJU Press Focus on Fives kit

What else will be coming? If you want to incorporate videos into your lesson, you only have to wait till the summer for the opportunity. There will be the opportunity to choose Focus on Fives Online with Books on July 1, 2020. There are 160 videos (lessons are 60 minutes in length) taught by Mrs. Rebekah Rulapaugh. If you want to see a sample, you can view one on the BJU Press Homeschool site.

Would You Like to Know More?

BJU Press Homeschool Logo

Our daughter wasn't the only child reviewing Focus on Fives from the Homeschool Review Crew. Please be sure to check out the other reviews!

Homeschool Review Crew Click Here logo

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Journaling through the Bible: Listen to the Teaching of God

A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo; Bible background

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

Sometimes I feel that life has a way of encouraging me in the most unusual ways. I had previously marked off pages 824-825 in my NKJV Beautiful Word Bible from Zondervan with an index card for some reason. There were no notes on the pages. So, I am unsure what verse was speaking to me. Why did I put an index card at this point in my Bible?

When I was seeking wisdom and guidance because something was troubling me, I turned to these pages – finding the index card. Isaiah 28 was speaking to me. The one heading in particular – "Listen to the Teaching of God" – jumped out at me. Wow! This is what I needed and wanted. I wanted to listen to the teaching of God. I craved His advice and wisdom.

Just what was wrong? I have come to a point where I questioned what movies I want to watch at this point in my life. I have already begun veering away from horror movies (not that I was really interested in movies with lots of blood and gore) and other R-rated movies just by my own choice but now even movies I thought were okay were troubling me. So much inappropriate symbolism that I had previously not seen, had not understood, or had ignored until my eyes were opened. I have to stop and think what DVDs do I want to get rid of off my shelves? What does God want me to do? What does God want to direct me to do?
Text: Listen to the Teaching of God

"Give ear and hear my voice,
Listen and hear my speech.
Does the plowman keep plowing all day to sow?
Does he keep turning his soil and breaking the clods?
When he has leveled its surface,
Does he not sow the black cummin
And scatter the cummin,
Plant the wheat in rows,
The barley in the appointed place,
And the spelt in its place?
For He instructs him in right judgment,
His God teaches him."

Isaiah 28: 23-26

background photo of woman wearing headphones; Text: "Give ear and hear my voice, Listen and hear my speech." Isaiah 28:33

The verses are also about a plowman but God gives us all advice. I do not think this advice is meant just for a farmer. I need to prepare my own soul. God will instruct me in right judgment. So while it hurts that I am discovering the dark side of entertainment, I know that I will be better for letting go and moving away from works that focus upon evil.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Book Club: Dear Mr. Washington

A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo; Dear Mr. Washington book cover; clip art of Washington

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

If you are looking for a fun book to read to your children about George Washington, the painting of his most famous portrait by Gilbert Stuart, and manners, look no further than Dear Mr. Washington written by Lynn Cullen and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.

The story tells the fictional account of how George Washington smiled for his portrait sitting by Gilbert Stuart. Three of Stuart's children and the dog and cat act poorly while Washington visits for his painting causing great aggravation to Stuart and his wife. Washington sends a book of manners to the children. Dear Mr. Washington contains several of these rules (ten to be exact). The book that Dear Mr. Washington references is Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, which Washington copied out himself as a boy.

Rules According to George Washington

book cover of Dear Mr. Washington; drawing of Washington; text: How did one of Washington's most famous portraits get painted?

Reviewing the rules provides a great opportunity to review rules and good manners with your own children.

1. Not showing off
2. Not running
3. Do not stuff your mouth
4. Do not chew your nails
5. Do not try to know others' business
6. Do not laugh at another's misfortune

You can read the entire book by George Washington on or purchase a copy for your family. If you want to hand a few out in your house, please find three here.

Over the years, our family has studied George Washington a number of times, created a hat fit for the General, and visited Washington Crossing State Park. If you want to learn more about George Washington, I also wrote a Blogging Through the Alphabet post.

book cover of Dear Mr. Washington


A great way to learn more about someone is to create a timeline of important events in their life. Depending upon the age of your children, they may want to include more or less details. I created a very simple template to create a timeline of the life of George Washington or even the painter, Gilbert Stuart. Click Here!

Create a Portrait 

Have your children create a portrait of a member of the family, a pet, or their favorite plush just like Gilbert Stuart created of George Washington. Perhaps they won't have as many distractions as there were in the book!

painting of George Washington from