Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of At Love's Command

Text: Book Club: Book Review of At Love's Command by Karen Witemeyer; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; horse picture background

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.

Karen Witemeyer's first in the Hanger's Horseman Series, At Love's Command, is a Christian Romance set in 1893 Texas. The book weaves together the story of Matthew Hanger and his band of mercenaries with the life of Dr. Josephine Burkett. When Dr. Jo (Josie) is brought one of Hanger's Horsemen, Mark Wallace, to operate on after a bullet finds its mark, she and Matthew start to fall in love. At Love's Command really could be a book about love at first sight. But this is not a sappy romance novel but one where both main characters are grounded in their faith and ask God into their lives to help them on their journey.

One of my favorite parts of At Love's Command are the Bible quotes provided by "Preach" Luke Davenport. Whenever the Horsemen are setting out to carry out a mission, Matthew asks Preach "got a verse for us?" These always seem really fitting as the story continued. 

Text: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 cloud background

"He's fought through ruthless outlaws and injury, but with her, he's tempted to surrender." 

Text: Book Club: A Mom's Quest to Teach; At Love's Command book coverThroughout the novel we also see Josie's struggle with leaving the mission and rescues in God's hands. I really appreciated reading the words that Karen Witemeyer provided for Josie. At the heart of Josie's thoughts and prayers: "Only you can save him, Lord. Please. Save him" (228). I was wary that Josie would be an overbearing female character since she was a doctor in a world and time when there were not many female doctors. But even though she took pride in her skills as a doctor, she was humble and understanding of knowing when she was not the strongest. 

My third favorite thing: The two occurrences where God seemed to intervene to help the Horsemen. They were left in the wilderness without their horses and a man with a wagon came along the road. And in the second occurrence, they found something that was missing and were able to return it to someone who gave them rest and assistance on the final leg of their most dangerous mission. 

If you enjoy historical fiction, Christian romance, and westerns, this might be the perfect novel for your summer reading. At Love's Command was a book that had me at the edge of my seat, turning the pages to see what would happen next. I look forward to reading what happens to the rest of Hanger's Horsemen. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

Things That Make You Smile: Homeschooling Edition

Text: Things That Make You Smile: Homeschooling Edition; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo; background of sunset

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

There are so many things that I can list that make me smile: my family, reading a good book, a bag of dice, or time spent playing board games or video games with my husband and children. But what homeschooling things make me smile? When a package arrives with a new curriculum – especially if it has lots of books to read – I smile! When one of our children finally make that educational leap, I smile. There are so many moments throughout our homeschooling day that make me smile.

Text: Things That Make You Smile: Homeschooling Edition; clipart of family; photography laptop photo; photo of Page A Day Math materials; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo

The Arrival of Curriculum Materials

Do you love getting packages and boxes in the mail? I love it when a new box or envelope arrives with material to use in our homeschool. Sometimes we are blessed with items for free to review here at A Mom's Quest to Teach and other times we save to supplement with materials on our own.

No matter if the curriculum is packaged in pretty paper, contains extras like stickers, or is made up of lots and lots of books, I love opening up boxes and exploring the new items that will possibly help our children learn and grow. I have attempted unboxing videos a couple of times but that is no easy task – especially with five people in our immediate family. Someone is always saying something silly or interrupting. But I always try to snap lots of pictures as we take out each new item.

Page A Day Math materials; Sonlight materials; My Father's World Boxed materials

Learning New Things

I love seeing our children learn new things! That is definitely one of the (many) reasons why we homeschool. Being able to be present when our children learn how to spell difficult words, acquire or refine skills, or solve difficult problems, is a great blessing. Through some of the great resources we have reviewed, I have seen our children grow. For example, I have seen both of our younger children improve their spelling through the use of Spelling Shed. Through some of the courses our teen has taken at SchoolhouseTeachers.com, I have seen his photography share his voice more completely.

I also have to smile at the many new things I have learned since becoming a homeschooling mom. I have read so many books (and reviewed quite a few here on my blog) that have taught me new things. Right now I am reading a book that came with God's Creation from A to Z Kindergarten Kit from My Father's World (I will be sharing a full review in August) – For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. How can I not smile when reading that "Education extends to all life" (8)? We, like our children, are always learning.

My Father's World God's Creation From A To Z book and For the Children's Sake bookcover

Making Homeschool Connections

Another thing that makes me smile is the abundance of connections I have been blessed to make through homeschooling. When we first started our journey, we were only homeschooling our two youngest who were not even in preschool yet. I then had the privilege of joining the Homeschool Review Crew where I met many wonderful homeschooling moms. As I tried to grow A Mom's Quest to Teach, I have met more and more homeschooling parents, bloggers, and individuals. As an introvert, I think finding a community online has been so great for me. I never would have gone out to meet-ups in person or the like but being able to connect online has truly made me smile.

Final Thoughts

Homeschooling can be stressful, time-consuming, and difficult, but it is all worth it. Through homeschooling our children, we are helping them see the value of being lifelong learners. I want our children to never lose the joy of opening up a box full of new books. I want them to smile when they learn something new or complete a challenging assignment or project. These are experiences I want them to take with them when they have families of their own. When it comes to homeschooling, what things make you smile?

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of Echoes Among the Stones

Text: Book Club: Book Review of Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright - Logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; background photo of a graveyard

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

"Do you believe grief can ruin lives?" So much grief in this story – from the distant past and the more recent past. Lost loved ones and lost jobs. The voices of our loved ones will always echo in our hearts after they have gone.

Text: Book Club: Book Review; cover of Echoes Among the StonesGrief and its impact are at the heart of Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright. Imogene Grayson takes the grief that enters her life in 1946 after the end of World War II with her to the present day. She discovered her younger sister Hazel's body in the attic bedroom and the scene was cemented in her mind. Imogene continues to press matters to try to find out who killed her sister. She even goes so far as to start working at the ammunition factory where Hazel had worked.

In the present day, Aggie Dunkirk has gone to live with her grandmother, Mumsie, in a small Wisconsin town as her life in the big city has fallen apart. Aggie was not ready for the series of problems – an eccentric grandmother, working at a cemetery, a break-in, roses left on a grave from the 1940s, and more. She never expected to find a dollhouse in her grandmother's house that recreates a murder scene. Among all this, Aggie is still suffering from the loss of her mother to cancer.

The characters that Jaime Jo Wright wrote about – Imogene, Sam, Ollie, Aggie, Collin – all came to life in the story. The story goes back and forth from 1946 to the present day as we see events unfold in the lives of Imogene and Aggie.

I chose to read Echoes Among the Stones as I was looking for books to read for the AtoZ Reading Challenge. I was looking through the authors I had Favorited in hoopla and came across this book by Jaime Jo Wright that I hadn't read yet. It was perfect for me to fulfill my letter E reading.

So far all of the books I have read by Wright, including The Curse of Misty Wayfair (which I have reviewed previously), have had a mystery woven into the tale. Readers travel from the present day to the past as they learn about events that impact all of the main characters. I really enjoyed finding out how Imogene and Aggie were connected. There was a slight romance (would Aggie and Collin end up together?) but it didn't overshadow the plotline. If you enjoy Christian fiction where the main characters struggle to find help and inspiration from God as they solve problems and mysteries in their lives, you may enjoy Echoes Among the Stones.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Book Review of Discipling Your Grandchildren

text: Book Club: Book Review of Discipling Your Grandchildren by Dr. Josh Mulvihill with Jen Mulvihill & Linda Weddle; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; clip art of grandparents

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.

Are you looking for an excellent resource for new grandparents as well as those who have been grandparenting for years? Discipling Your Grandchildren: Great Ideas to Help Them Know, Love, and Serve God by Dr. Josh Mulvihill with Jen Mulvihill and Linda Weddle is a wonderful paperback book that will help grandparents focus beyond the fun and spoiling to make the time spent with their grandchildren more meaningful. It is written from the perspective of two parents and a grandparent of six grandchildren. Discipling Your Grandchildren is the seventh book in the Grandparenting Matters series and is biblically-based. (I previously reviewed Grandparenting: Strengthening Your Family and Passing on Your Faith in the series. Find my review here: Book Review of Grandparenting.)

Book Review: Grandparent Test and Parent Approved; Discipling Your Grandchildren

What Does the Book Address? 

The book is written to "help grandparents align their grandparenting practices with stated spiritual priorities and biblical principles" (18). The authors start by examining briefly what the Bible says about grandparenting and then goes on to look at the various ways grandparents can connect with their grandchildren.

How to Connect? 

The book provides many ways in which grandparents can connect with their grandchildren and provides specific examples through the following topics:
text: Book Club: Book Review: A Mom's Quest to Teach; book cover of Discipling Your Grandchildren

  • Prayers
  • Gifts
  • Intentional meals
  • Teaching God's Word
  • Serving together 
  • Building relationships 
  • Preparing your home for your grandchildren 
  • Staring groups in your church
  • Celebrating the holidays together 
At the heart of all of the suggestions is the desire to be respectful to the wishes of the grandparents' adult children. While there are many awesome ideas and suggestions (like a Nerf gun war or a rubber band battle), grandparents should ask their children what is or is not appropriate to do with their grandchildren. The authors also remind grandparents to seek the advice and permission of their adult children before planning missionary trips or other overnight opportunities to do with their grandchildren.

I also highly appreciated the notations in the chapter regarding holidays such as "recognize that while you want to establish traditions with your grandchildren, your children also want to establish family traditions" (157). I think that many grandparents would benefit from being reminded of the fact their adult children might like to do things within their own immediate family or that there might be in-laws who have family traditions, too. 

What Do I Think? 

Even though I am not a grandparent, I can appreciate the variety of ideas – including recipes, book ideas, ways to memorize the Bible together, and more – that is presented in Discipling Your Grandchildren. Some of the ideas I can incorporate into our family as a parent and some I can even offer as suggestions when my in-laws ask to do something with our children. I also was happy to see that homeschooling families were not left out (as they so often are in books about parenting or grandparenting). There are a few suggestions as to how grandparents can support their grandchildren if they are being homeschooled. Finally, I also loved the numerous social media tips provided. Many grandparents might shy away from social media but their grandchildren do not. The book provides ideas as to how to get onto the various sites as well as a reminder to ask ones' grandchildren for help and assistance. 

I would recommend Discipling Your Grandchildren: Great Ideas to Help Them Know, Love, and Serve God to grandparents who are looking to build a closer relationship with their grandchildren and in turn connect their grandchildren to God. While you may not be able to employ all the ideas presented in the book, there are many practical recommendations that grandparents may be able to incorporate into their everyday lives with their grandchildren. 

Monday, June 22, 2020

Science Fun During the Summer

text: Science Fun During the Summer; background photo of tree; A Mom's Quest to Teach logo

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

There are so many great options to take science outside during the summertime - from studying insects and flowers to planting and growing vegetables. When the weather gets nice, children can take their science books outside and identify birds, reptiles, and trees to learn more about the world around them.

text: Nature study; Science Fun During the Summer; A Mom's Quest to Teach; background photo of flowers

What Will We Be Using This Summer? 

Useful curriculum and homeschooling resources abound if you want to make science fun during the summer. Your children might not even realize they are learning when you take nature walks and learn the names of the flora and fauna you see on your journey. Or maybe you will let them stay up late one night and search out constellations, planets, and the moon. And don't forget those activities that can also double as science experiments such as seeing what happens when you combine baking soda and vinegar. Two years ago we made frozen chalk with baking soda and then added vinegar!

Let's Do Science Outside logo from SchoolhouseTeachers.com

One of the homeschooling curricula we are utilizing in our homeschool this summer is from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. We are using Let's Do Science Outside to expand our science lessons to include more nature fun. There are twenty homeschool science activities that are ready to print and take outside. They are best suited for grades first through fourth so they are perfect for our two younger children. If your children enjoy searching for insects and creepy crawlers, they can make a home for worms or a bug hotel using the instructions and recording sheets provided. As I am not too fond of insects, we will stick to other topics like designing a flower, going on a sensory walk, and identifying trees.

Tree Tally Sheet from Twinkl; three tree clip arts

We are also using notebooking pages from Productive Homeschooling: Notebooking Pages & More to study our local trees. One of my favorite days when I was a summer camp counselor at a zoo was the day we spent talking about trees and plants. I loved walking around the zoological gardens with the children and identifying the different trees. Now, this was rather easy as the horticulture department of the zoo had labeled all the trees with tags. After a while, I began to have the different trees memorized not only by the location in the zoo but also by their bark and leaves. I still know some trees but not nearly as many as I used to when I was younger.

notebooking pages on trees; leaves

By completing the notebooking pages, our family can study the trees in our areas. Understanding what plants and trees are native to one's area is very important. One of the problems that many areas are facing is invasive species (plants, insects, and animals) moving in and pushing out native species. If our children can properly identify the different species of plants native to our area, then we can do our part to ensure that they are protected.

A Great Investment 

Did you know that SchoolhouseTeachers.com offers STEM courses and activities to inspire, challenge, and motivate your children this summer? Just like we will be using Let's Do Science Outside, you can use part of whatever science curriculum you think will be exciting and fun for your children. Use coupon code: LADYBUG to pay only $27.97 for a PreK-8 Quarterly Membership (regularly $37.97).

One of the courses that we used parts of previously in our homeschool was Small World Sensory Science (click here for my more information on A Mom's Quest to Teach). The 12 lessons help your children explore the farm, the pond, the ocean, wind, construction, and more! There is even a lesson on keeping things tidy since sensory activities can be messy. What a fun way to spend the summer!

Ladybug Special for SchoolhouseTeachers.com; PreK-8 3 mo./$27.97 code: LADYBUG

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Homeschooling Resources: Mathematics

Text: Homeschooling Resources: Math; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; background image of mathematics graphics

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

One of the subjects that many struggle with is mathematics. Whether you had trouble with the subject yourself or you came to it naturally you may wonder, "Just how will I teach math in my homeschool?" Fortunately, there are many resources from full curriculum products to products that help your children, whether you homeschool or not, practice key skills.

Full Mathematics Curriculum Choices 

text: Homeschooling Resources: Mathematics; Practice important math skills online & offline; background image of graph paperIf you prefer an online curriculum, CTCMath is an excellent choice. We received a free yearly membership to the online math curriculum for our three children as part of the Homeschool Review Crew. Our daughter has completed the kindergarten level while our younger son is finishing up the first-grade work by completing the semester reviews. Our 11th-grade son was using CTCMath for Algebra II. Each lesson is very similar in that there are short videos to teach a concept and then questions online (or offline for the older students) to be completed to show mastery of the concept. One of my favorite parts is that our children can move between courses and topics as they discover work is too easy or too difficult for them to complete. I love the flexibility of CTCMath.

Another place where homeschooling parents can turn to for full math curriculum is SchoolhouseTeachers.com. There are 29 math courses (at the time of the publication of this post) which range from full-year courses like Stretching Higher with Third Grade Math to short courses like Decimal Workshop that focus on specific skills your child will need in their homeschool career. The math courses at SchoolhouseTeachers.com range from courses with video lessons to ones with text-focused courses. So there is flexibility there, as well.

Decimal Workshop graphics for course

Help For Students 

There are numerous online math programs that can help children of all ages focus on specific math skills or just review basic mathematical concepts. Our family has been blessed with reviewing quite a few including (links to my reviews are through the name of the program):

  • Mathseeds - An online program offered through Reading Eggs with workbooks you can purchase if you prefer to work on math offline. 
  • Math Shed - An online resource that allows your children to focus upon number bonds, addition, subtraction, and more.
  • Matific Galaxy - An online resource where children work through different planets reviewing time, money, addition, subtraction, and more. Our children had access to the desktop and app version of Matific Galaxy during our review. 
  • Page A Day Math - A series of workbooks (or worksheets you print if you prefer to order the digital workbooks) that focus upon addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division depending upon which kit you purchase. The goal of Page A Day Math is to improve math fact fluency. 

Our children have enjoyed all four of the programs I mentioned above. I really like that with Mathseeds and Page A Day Math, our children can work on their math skills offline with workbooks. With both Math Shed and Matific Galaxy, our children feel like they are playing games rather than just working on building their math skills.

math worksheets and website practice

What Resources Do You Use in Your Homeschool to Teach Math? 

In addition to the resources I already highlighted, we have used material from IXL, I Know It, Channie's Neat Numbers, The Critical Thinking Co.™, and more to work on mathematics in our homeschool. There are so many options available for homeschooling families which is the beauty of homeschooling – multiple curriculum choices and quite a lot of flexibility in using them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Studying History Through Connecting Past Events to Today: A Review of The Mayflower at Cape Cod

Text: Studying History Through Connecting Past Events to Today: A Review of The Mayflower at Cape Cod; background image of seashore

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 family enjoys studying history so anytime we have the chance to review a new history resource we are happy to do so. For the past several weeks our teen has been helping me review The Mayflower at Cape Cod - Stories, activities, and research that connect 1620 with life today by Rebecca Locklear. It is a seven-unit resource aimed at grades 6-12 which looks at what happened during the five weeks that the Mayflower was anchored off Cape Cod in 1620.

cover of The Mayflower at Cape Code: Stories, activities, and research that connect 1620 with life today

What Is the Resource?

text: Studying History Through Connecting the Past Events to Today: A Review of The Mayflower at Cape Cod; Cross-Disciplinary Educational Resource for grades 6-12; book cover; ship clip art; logo of A Mom's Quest to TeachDepending upon how you would like to purchase The Mayflower at Cape Cod - Stories, activities, and research that connect 1620 with life today, you can order a print copy or a digital copy. We received the book digitally for the purpose of our review. The PDF is 74 pages long including the cover, table of contents, lessons, appendices, sources, index, and acknowledgments.

Each of the seven lessons opens with an objective and continues onto a reading, several activities, and research topics based upon the lesson. There are a number of photographs, maps, and sketches spread throughout each lesson.

There are 70 activities and 80 research topics which span a variety of topics and methods for learning the material.  So depending upon your children's interests and strengths you can pick different activities for each lesson. For example, you could cook with seafood and cranberries in Lesson 5 when reading about Native culture and discussing the different local and seasonal food if your children love to be in the kitchen. Or if your children are artistic, they could create leaf art as outlined in the activities for Lesson 3. One of the objectives for Lesson 3 is to analyze the survival situation and identify trees so this fits in perfectly.

Activity chart that lists lessons and which learning topics they met

leaf art
Leaf art by our son

The appendix offers a handy chronology of events on Cape Code, statistics about the Mayflower (like the ship being dismantled in 1624), answers to the questions, and game cards you will need for the lessons.

How Did We Use the History Homeschooling Resource?

Our teen had recently completed his World History course for the homeschool year so I asked him to complete activities and research projects from the lessons to jump-start our next homeschool year. I emailed him the PDF and asked him to read one to two lessons a week. As we are nearing our summer break, I required significantly fewer assignments than if this was in the middle of our homeschool year. For each lesson, I requested that he would pick one or two activities and research topics to complete. He then could email them to me or present them to me (as in the case of the artwork I asked him to complete).

The one objective of the first lesson was of interest to our son: "To recognize that history is told by the side of the victor and to be aware of both sides." He enjoys reading about the American Civil War and World War II, so he was able to apply the lesson of examining the first encounter between the Natives and the English to his prior knowledge of other events. And much like expected, he chose to complete the activity discussing who had more responsibility in winning World War II: Great Britain or the United States. In a short essay, he discussed the various Allied powers and their impact on defeating Hitler. In conclusion, he wrote: "All in all, I think the U.S. helped teeter the Allies' power over the Axis, causing the Nazis to be defeated."

I was pleasantly surprised that for another lesson he completed a poetry activity where he wrote an acrostic poem using the word Thanksgiving. It was nice to read his poem about God never failing after the lesson dealt so heavily with the negative impact of Europeans on the Natives (disease, war, slavery, etc.).

As I believe primary documents, like the Mayflower Compact, are very important to read and study, I requested our son complete the art activity to complete a stamp commemorating the signing of the Compact. We have a small collection of stamps, so it was nice to tie in these lessons with the stamp collection of my grandfather.

postage stamp drawing
Our son prefers to draw in just black & white – hence the lack of color.

What Did We Think?

The resource is very well organized. There are a great number of activities and research topics that the lessons could take weeks to complete if a homeschooling family completed everything. Some of the activities are better suited to small groups rather than one student (like our son) such as the corn game, cultural game, or greeting game.

There are very heavy topics in The Mayflower at Cape Cod including cultural appropriation, environmental ethics, stereotyping, immunization, epidemics, and slavery. I think parents should preview the entire resource before deciding if it is appropriate for their children in grades 6-8. I think once children reach 9th grade, they might have a maturity to be able to have healthy discussions about these topics. For example, one of the research topics asks students to reflect upon "Why did Europeans in the 1600s feel they had the right to settle America? Interpret their justification for taking Native lands, including the designation of being 'unpeopled' and 'devoid of all civil inhabitants.'" This is not an easy topic to discuss so I think parents should carefully go through the entire work.

Lesson 7 objectives
Beginning layout of the lesson showing objective and the lesson starting with the story

I think our son was able to really think about the events surrounding the Mayflower being at Cape Cod and how we need to be careful to view and interpret history. One thing as a family we try to stress is the importance of examining the past through the eyes of those who lived it by using primary sources and be thoughtful students of history. My hope is that by reading more about different events, like the English arriving at Cape Cod, our son will become a more astute student and adult.

Would You Like to Know More?

Rebecca Locklear offers many resources through her website including a newsletter to which you can subscribe for blog and book news (click here to sign up). You can read more about the connection she sees between history and drama and can order her books and materials for your homeschool.

Rebecca Locklear photograph
Rebecca Locklear

In addition to reviewing The Mayflower at Cape Cod - Stories, activities, and research that connect 1620 with life today, the Homeschool Review Crew also had the chance to review Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service 1878-1915: 17 Student Workshops with 120 Activities by Rebecca Locklear. Be sure to check out the reviews to see how they used these two resources in their homeschool.

Homeschool Review Crew Click Here logo

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

raven clipart; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; cover of The Ravenmaster book; text: Book Club: Book Review of the Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

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

The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London by Christopher Skaife is a perfect read for those interesting in history and animals (in particular ravens). It is an excellent book that brings readers behind-the-scenes to learn more about the people who care for and about the ravens who live in the Tower of London. The history, folklore, and tales surrounding the ravens and why they are important to England are presented by Christopher Skaife, the current Yeoman Warder.

The Ravenmaster introduces us to the life of Christopher Skaife and how he became the Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London. We get a brief glimpse into this private life learning about why he joined the military and some of his experiences as a Drum Major. Skaife also shares his theories and ideas regarding the history and care of the ravens.

Text: Book Club: Book Review; image of book cover of The Ravenmaster

History of the Ravens

During the reign of Charles II, John Flamsteed, a young astronomer, said that the nesting ravens were obstructing his view. Flamsteed wanted to get rid of them. The story continues that someone pointed out to King Charles II that ravens had always been living in the Tower of London. It would be a bad omen if the ravens were removed from the Tower. The legend then developed that ravens must be kept at the Tower or the kingdom would fall.

Skaife hasn't found any mention of this legend prior to the late 19th century. There is hardly any mention of ravens in the tower's history at all. It is a lovely story that is part of the history of the United Kingdom.

What do ravens eat? Ravens are omnivores – they eat both plants and meat. They are scavengers and will eat carrion and garbage and at the Tower, they will steal sandwiches from tourists and catch mice. And at the Tower of London, a special treat is dog biscuits soaked in blood.

My Thoughts 

The Ravenmaster is a very well-written book – easy to read with each chapter flowing into the next. Even though Skaife provided lots of information regarding his job as a Yeoman Warder and scientific facts about ravens, I did not find the book difficult to follow or understand. I would recommend The Ravenmaster: My Life with Ravens at the Tower of London to those who enjoy history and learning about animals – ravens in particular. If you enjoy memoirs and biographies, this book might also be of interest to you.

If you want to see photos of the ravens at the Tower of London, check out the Instagram page of Christopher Skaife. Or if you want to read more about the Tower of London, check out my Blogging Through the Alphabet post.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Ready-Made or Create Your Own Resources: A Review of HelpTeaching.com

Text: Ready-Made or Create Your Own Resources: A Review of HelpTeaching.com; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; background of notebook paper

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 family was provided a HelpTeaching Pro Subscription to review which has given our homeschool access to many online and offline resources. We can use worksheets, lessons, and tests that have already been made or I can create our own resources made specifically for our homeschool lessons. There are quite a number of options for how to use the subscription from HelpTeaching.com as you can search by worksheet, test, grade, or subject area making it easy to meet the needs of your individual children and homeschool.

What Is Part of Your Subscription?

While HelpTeaching.com does offer access to their site for free, there are many benefits to having a Pro Subscription. You will have an ad-free experience (which is what most parents wish when using online resources with their children) and be able to save worksheets and tests as PDFs to print offline. So if you are concerned about screen time, this will help you use an online resource offline. Another feature is being able to use either their images in questions or upload your own images. You can see in the comparison chart below from their site the different benefits afforded to you.

screenshot from HelpTeaching.com that shows the difference between free and pro membership

computer graphic with addition worksheet; multiple worksheets; text: Ready-Made or Create Your Own Resources: A Review of HelpTeaching.com

How Did We Use HelpTeaching.com in Our Homeschool?

When we first received access, I went through the site and picked out materials I could use with our teen in his final weeks of our homeschool year. I was able to find lessons for him to complete that would review things he learned in his Botany course, a lesson with quotes from Shakespeare (he was reading Hamlet), I created a test on World War I using questions already created, and SAT vocabulary worksheets. The lessons and test were online and I scheduled them so he could take them online with an access code provided to his email.

For our younger two children, I used a variety of online lessons (using the videos and practice sheets) and printing out worksheets. I also toyed around with creating a test for our son's Latin vocabulary.

showing how to create your own test questions on HelpTeaching.com

For our younger son, since we have been studying astronomy, I incorporated lessons on the planets into our homeschool days. I also printed out some of the seasonal and holiday worksheets for our kids to complete. They have a variety of summer worksheets from reading comprehension to word searches. There was even a summer math worksheet I asked our younger son to complete. The questions were money word problems so he had to work out the costs of products and admittance to events like fireworks.

Summer Money Word Problems worksheet from HelpTeaching.com

I also printed out the reading challenge from HelpTeaching.com as we do not know if our library will be having their annual summer reading challenge. This way our son can complete it this summer. He was very excited by some of the book options such as "read a book your parents read as a child."

It was easiest to do online lessons with our daughter as she is still learning how to write neatly. I went through the Online Lessons for Self-Directed Learning page and then clicked through to either the English Language Arts Lessons or the Math Lessons. From there, I scrolled through the lessons listed to see which fit her grade and would seem to be of the most help to her. For example, we used the Read Aloud: Five Little Ducks lesson which had a video and summary worksheet that she completed online.

Online Lessons for Self-Directing Learning on HelpTeaching.com

Lessons from English Language Arts of HelpTeaching.com

I did print out one worksheet for our daughter to complete as we had been studying punctuation marks together prior to starting to use HelpTeaching.com. The worksheet was a combination of multiple-choice questions and fill-in-the-blank questions. I liked the questions because it was just what we needed to review the information she had been studying.

Recognizing End Punctuation worksheet from HelpTeaching.com

What Do We Think?

When I was still a public school teacher, I used a number of worksheet and test generators. I did not find this to be easier or more difficult. It was pretty much as I expected it to be. The instructions are clear on the site as to how to input questions, select questions, and more when creating a test. I like that you can select from questions already created.

Our daughter enjoys watching the videos and answer the questions online. For her, we have just been going through and looking at the various options for lessons in English Language Arts Lessons. Her favorite thing so far has been completing the questions online.

screenshot of Five Little Ducks from HelpTeaching.com

Our younger son, who used both online and offline resources from HelpTeaching.com, said his favorite part has been the worksheets and questions that are connected to the lessons. So after he completes the practice questions and watches the video, he answers questions that relate to the video. We can print these out or do these online.

Our older son had no problems navigating the site. I like that I could assign the work online or print out the worksheets to give him hard copies to complete for his homeschool day.

I like that if I find something I would like our kids to work on, I do not have to save it to my laptop or print it out. I can schedule it for my kids and then they can complete it later. My only wish is that each child did not need to have an email address. It is easy to schedule things with our teenage son as he has his own email and computer to complete his homeschool assignments but our younger children do not have emails or their own computer so they need to use my email in order to receive scheduled lessons and tests. 

Note: If you are concerned about the material being Common Core-aligned then you can browse their library as a Pro Subscriber to see which questions are aligned. They have a selection of premium content that is aligned to Common Core standards in ELA and Math.

Do You Want to Know More? 

Other families used HelpTeaching.com in their homeschool from the Homeschool Review Crew. Be sure to check out their reviews to see how they incorporate the many different options into their homeschool.

HelpTeaching.com Logo

Homeschool Review Crew Click Here Logo

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Journaling through the Bible: Pride

text: Journaling through the Bible: Pride; background of plastic jewels; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

There are many avenues on which I could journey in the Bible when reflecting upon pride. On many occasions when individuals who have become famous through the Bible stories put their own will before God's. When they felt they knew better than God, the men and women of the Bible made choices that would bring misery, destruction, and loss to many. Even though our Keyword Study Bible only lists pride five times, there are many more times it is referenced. 

In Psalms, we read: 
"Therefore pride serves as their necklace;
Violence covers them like a garment." 
Psalms 73:6

quote of Psalms 73:6; "Therefore pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment."

Most people are familiar with another definition of pride: 
"a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements" or now "confidence and self-respect as expressed by members of a group, typically one that has been socially marginalized."

I don't think there is anything wrong with taking pride in one's accomplishments. After all, why wouldn't I praise my sons or daughter when they complete a difficult homeschool task or assist someone through community service? But one thing I have learned is that I do have my thanks to offer to God at all times. He has blessed our children with the ability to complete difficult assignments. Through the examples of Jesus, our children are giving back to the community.

text: Journaling through the Bible; A Mom's Quest to Teach; Pride; background of plastic jewels
No matter how foolish and ignorant we are – God is there for us. He loves us. He keeps our hearts and souls safe. God will direct us and provide us with all we need. God is my rock. He is my courage and strength. 

I started reflecting upon Psalm 73, pride, and strength when reviewing a children's book – Psalms for My Day. There was a lovely illustration and excerpt from Psalm 73 along with an explanation and prayer to say with our children. 

photo of Psalm 73:23-26 from Psalms for My Day

My Bible has verse 26 illustrated in the margin and I began thinking about what verse I would like to try to illustrate myself. 

quote from Bible: "My flesh and my heart fail..."

I am thinking about trying some watercolor paint on my verse but I am not sure yet. I think I just need to put my trust in God that it will turn out okay in the end. And if it doesn't? I can always start over. 

Psalm 73: 28 quote; heart drawn with God is the Strength around it

Let Me Add My Own Words of Prayer

Lord, it is so hard to put my trust in you. I wish I knew why so I seek your wisdom and help. I want to throw away pride and say goodbye to violence. I want to be ready to live without and leave behind abundance and security in the world. I pray that we put others first.  Lord, please accept my hand. I need you. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Crafts: Shark Paper Bag Puppet

Text: Crafts Shark Paper Bag Puppet; A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; background photo of shark

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If you have children, you have probably heard the Baby Shark song. There are many different versions online (some more annoying than others) but it is popular with kids as it is easy to sing and remember. Personally, I think there are way worse songs they could be sharing with me so I let them have their fun in moderation.

Our children have a Baby Shark book published by Scholastic which is based on the song. It is bright and colorful and even includes hand motions to do along with the reading or singing of the song.

Baby Shark Book and shark toy

An informal pop culture holiday week is held every year to honor sharks—Shark Week takes over the television programming, educators share books, crafts, and more that relate to sharks, and we see advertising with shark themes. I allowed myself to be inspired this year and created two shark crafts for our children.

Shark Paper Bag Puppet

Text: Crafts Shark Paper Bag Puppet; A Mom's Quest to Teach; shark paper bag puppet; shark toy; shark craft



1. Gather all your materials. I pre-cut the pieces for our children to make things go more quickly. If your children are old enough, you can have them sketch out the shapes they need to create the craft on their own.

gray construction paper; red construction paper; glue stick; brown lunch bag; scissors

2. Glue on top of the shark's mouth on the top part of the paper bag.

3. Glue on the bottom part of the shark's mouth. It should be glued partially underneath the paper bag flap.

4. Glue on the two red pieces of construction paper to create the inside of the shark's mouth.

brown paper bag; gray shark head glued on with red mouth glued on

5. Glue on the eye. (The other eye is hidden behind the shark's head as the shark is jumping out of the water at an angle.)

6. Glue on the nostrils.

7. Glue on the teeth.

two shark paper bag puppets; shark toy

shark teeth photo by 2211438 from pixabay
Photograph of teeth by 2211438 from Pixabay 

Shark Teeth Facts

When creating a puppet where the teeth are so prominent, we had to learn about shark teeth!

  • Sharks are born with teeth.
  • Sharks are continually growing new teeth in the back of their mouth. The new teeth push forward and then replace the old ones that get pushed out. 
  • Most sharks have 5 to 15 rows of teeth. 
  • They lose about one tooth per week. 
  • Lost teeth can be replaced as quickly as in one day. 
  • A shark may go through over 20,000 teeth in their lifetime. 
  • Great White Sharks may have as many as 3000 teeth at one time. 
  • Shark's teeth have a triangular shape. 

shark teeth in jaw photo by simone moreira from pixabay
Photograph by Simone Moreira from Pixabay

Bonus Craft: Shark Scene

If your children still want to craft after they make their Shark Paper Bag Puppets, then let their creativity go wild with this simple shark scene.



1. Gather all your materials.

blue tissue paper; blue construction paper; scissors; shark fins

2. Your child can decide where in the ocean to glue their shark fin.

shark fin glued onto blue construction paper

3. Your child can cut wavy pieces of blue tissue paper to glue onto the ocean. Glue as many layers as it takes to look like the ocean. 

finished shark fin craft

Do You Want to Learn More About Sharks? 

A great place to learn more about animals is SchoolhouseTeachers.com. From studying sea creatures like marine turtles and deep sea sharks with Marine Biology to reading about alligators, beagles, and hammerheads, there are many options for your children at SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

There are several courses and lessons about animals including: All About Animals, A World of Animals, Bedbug Bible Gang - Amazing Animals, Drawing in Pen and Ink: Animals, and more!

Every subject. Every grade. Every student.  

With hundreds of courses to choose from, you will have more than enough material to keep your little ones busy this summer!