Thursday, August 27, 2020

Homeschooling the Elementary Years

Text: Homeschooling the Elementary Years; background of leaves; logo for A Mom's Quest to Teach

What do you think is the easiest grade or years to homeschool? I think there may be a lot of disagreement as to which age or grade people consider to be the easiest. After all, when your children are young – preschool-aged – you are spending a lot of time building the foundation with them. Teaching them colors, the alphabet, numbers, how to button a coat, manners, and more which can be quite time consuming as they have short attention spans but want to learn everything.

When children have completed their kindergarten years, they may be reading independently and able to complete assignments with little to no supervision. You can start providing them with more difficult work which will help their minds grow. But just how long should you dedicate to homeschooling every day? How much information should you introduce to them at one time? Everyone will have different ideas and suggestions. I firmly believe that your child should lead the way (i.e., your child's progress will help you determine the answers).

How We Homeschool the Elementary Years 

To many outside observers, we probably have a very relaxed homeschool day. Our youngest children spend a lot of time exploring their own interests – drawing, playing with toys, reading, playing games, and more. But those periods of time when they are working or playing together are punctuated with time where we focus upon our homeschooling tasks.

Text: A Mom's Quest to Teach: Homeschooling the Elementary Years; photo of grammar worksheet; clipart of apple
I often work with our daughter while our younger son works independently on the computer completing a reading assignment with Reading Eggs, Reading Kingdom, or Spelling Shed. If he is not working on a language arts assignment online, he might be completing a math lesson with CTCMath or Teaching Textbooks. This gives him screen time and lets me help our daughter. When one completes their work, they often go over to see what their sibling is doing.

After completing one or two short lessons, we might need to take another break for me to complete my own tasks. While there are times when I let them go to what they wish, I might also ask our children to read or complete a written assignment. The work is short, age-appropriate, and can be done interdependently. I love that they are slowly growing to need me less and less for their work but we can still come together to learn as a team.

Depending on how the day goes, we may complete some additional lessons in the evening. We are that family who takes advantage of homeschooling by including our lessons throughout the entire week and the entire day. So while we are not sitting at a desk from 8 am to 3 pm, we are learning throughout the entire day. Whenever our kids have a question, I take that a chance to teach them and learn with them.

Homeschooling the elementary years will look different for many families. It may even look different for homeschooling families day to day or year to year depending upon their needs. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the flexibility it affords each family to do the best for their own family and children.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Dice, Decks, and Boards: Zig Zag Puzzler Review

Text: Dice, Decks, and Boards: Zig Zag Puzzler Review; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; Zig Zag Puzzler

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

Zig Zag Puzzler game from Smart Games

Travel-friendly games are fantastic – especially for homeschooling families. If you need to go from one co-op locale or appointment to another but still want to keep your children's minds active, Zig Zag Puzzler may be an excellent addition to your game shelves. This puzzle which encourages improvement in concentration, memory, fine motor skills, and more is part of the 9th grade Timberdoodle Curriculum kit

There are two modes you can play using the two full-color manuals which give you and your children 80 different challenges. Everything fits neatly into the package which means you can easily store and transport the Zig Zag Puzzler.

Text: Dice, Decks, and Boards: Zig Zag Puzzler: A one-person puzzle game with only one solution for each challenge; 2D & 3D puzzle

What Is Included? 

Along with a lidded container, you will receive nine colorful, geometric shapes to complete the puzzles, one manual with 40 2-D challenges, and one manual with 40 3-D challenges. The container itself doubles as the playing boards on which you place the geometric shapes.

How Did We Use the Zig Zag Puzzler in Our Homeschool? 

The two manuals present 40 challenges for stacking the geometric shapes in 2-D patterns and 3-D patterns depending upon which side of the playing board you use. The little booklets progress in difficulty providing the person puzzling out the solution with fewer and fewer pieces placed on the board. Your goal, after you follow the initial set up in the manual, is to place the remaining pieces.  

After we received the Zig Zag Puzzler, I set out to put together one of the puzzles so that I could easily put away the game. It did take me quite a bit to work through the puzzle but I am the first to admit that my mind does not work through logic puzzles like this as easily as other logic games and questions. 

A few nights after dinner, I asked our soon-to-be senior to take a look at the Zig Zag Puzzler. Once he got the hang of what was required, he skipped to the harder puzzles. He moved all the way to puzzle 40 in the 2-D manual. It did take him quite a while and I ended up having to provide some tips and suggestions but eventually, he placed all the geometric shapes correctly. 

four photos showing steps and solution booklet for Zig Zag Puzzler
Working on the late challenge for the 2D puzzles - at the Wizard level.

What Did We Think? 

While only our teen and myself have played with the game, both our younger children are eager to try their hand at it. I think that the recommendation on Timberdoodle of ages 12 and up is perfect. I do not think that those younger would be very successful unless they already are familiar with this type of puzzle or game. 

While our teen was getting frustrated, he was determined to finish the most difficult 2-D puzzle. I think that the Zig Zag Puzzler will be great for him to help him fine-tune his memory and concentration skills. He spends a lot of time playing video games and being on the computer, so I like the idea of him working on puzzles using his hands.

I really like the quality of the container, the pieces, and the manual. It should last for quite a while of traveling from one location to another. I also like that the Zig Zag Puzzler is a one-person game. This makes it perfect for those moments when you need to work with one or another of your homeschooled children and your older child finishes up early. They can still be engaged in something educational but have fun.

Showing Zig Zag Puzzler solution - ready to put away

I would recommend Zig Zag Puzzler for junior high and high school students, their parents, and even their grandparents. Completing the puzzles will help one keep their mind young. With everything self-contained, you won't have to worry about where you put the pieces at the end of each play session.

Timberdoodle Blog Team logo

Do You Want to Read More Timberdoodle Reviews? 

Are you looking for more educational games? Bugzzle is a game for younger children that will help them work on their logic skills and Gobblet Gobblers will help elementary-aged children work on strategy building skills. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of Shadows Over England Series

text: Book Club Book Review of Shadows Over England Series; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; background of London

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

After having read and reviewed The Number of Love by Roseanna M. White, I was happy to see other books by her on Hoopla for me to read this summer. I decided upon reading the Shadows Over England series which consists of three books that focus on the lives of a group of London thieves who have joined together to form their own family. With Barclay Pearce as the older brother, the family consists of a number of grown women, teens, and several children. They all take care of each other and live the idea that they will not steal from those who are less fortunate than themselves.

At the heart of each story is an ex-thief working to find something to help Britain before and during World War I. And don't forget the romance! 

Text: Book Club: Book Review; A Mom's Quest to Teach; book cover of A Name Unknown

A Name Unknown 

In the first book in the series, we are introduced to this family through Rosemary Gresham. She finds a new job for herself that takes her off the streets of London in A Name Unknown. She is employed by a representative of the British government, Mr. V, to spy upon Peter Holstein and discover whether or not he is loyal to Germany or England.

In order to get inside Peter's estate in the country, Rosemary poses as a librarian to help Peter gain control over his father's library. While cataloging and organizing the books, she seeks information to discover where her employer's loyalties lie for Mr. V. She looks for documentation for Peter as well. During this time, she finds herself uncovering secrets and trying to solve puzzles like just what does Peter keep locked in his desk drawer?

A Song Unheard 

Willa Forsythe is at the center of the second book in the series – A Song Unheard. Willa is 'sister' to Rosemary. With Rosemary's marriage to Peter, Willa takes on a job of Mr. V's to steal a cipher from a famous Belgian violinist, Lukas De Wile, who is seeking refuge in Wales after his country was invaded by the Germans.

During the time that Willa is attempting to get closer to Lukas to find out the whereabouts of the cipher, we see Willa growing as a musician and as a child of God. Lukas offers her musical lessons – something she has never had before in her life. She came naturally to playing the violin after she discovered a battered, used violin. Lukas helps her refine her skills while she attempts to discover his secrets.

book covers of A Song Unheard and An Hour Unspent

An Hour Unspent 

We finally get to learn more about Barclay Pearce, who is the eldest brother of the 'gang' of thieves. In An Hour Unspent, we find out that the family of thieves has gone clean and only works for Mr. V. In fact, Barclay reports regularly to the British military offices to meet with various members of the military and perform jobs only he can get done.

In the third book, Mr. V tasks Barclay with finding something that might help the British military get an edge over the Germans on the battlefield. Barclay has to become close to a clockmaker to seek this new technology. He ends up falling in love with the clockmaker's daughter – Evelina Manning. We also learn more about Barclay's biological family in this story.

All three books in the Shadows Over England series could be enjoyed independently of each other but I would recommend reading them in order. I was delighted in learning more about each character in succession. Woven into the fabric of each story is the power of Christianity in the lives of the characters. In A Name Unknown, we see how Peter's love and trust of God help influence Rosemary. Her new faith, in turn, influences the other members of her family little by little. If I had to pick one as my favorite, I think I would pick An Hour Unspent.

A Name Unknown is being included in my AtoZ Reading Challenge for 2020.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Celebrating the Season

Text: Celebrating the Season; sunflower photo in background; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

We are winding down the summer season. Even though summer does not end until mid-September once Labor Day arrives most people are already talking about fall, back to school, and pumpkin spice. And while our youngest two children homeschool year-round (with lots of breaks during the summer), our eldest will be entering his final season as a homeschool student the first week of September when he starts his senior year of high school. The season goes by SO quickly.

Closing Out the Summer 

Text: Celebrating the Season - saying goodbye to summer and hello to fall; background image of boardwalkBefore all the changes were brought about by the current world situation, the end of the summer would mean some final field trips – before summer hours ended. It would also signify the promise of getting excited to visit the shore in the Fall because I love going to the beach when the weather is just a tad cooler and when the boardwalks are less crowded. But we won't be doing any of these things for a while, sadly.

The end of Summer also means that I will need to go through the younger children's clothing to prepare for the colder weather. What clothes still fit? What clothes will our younger son hand down to his younger sister? Which ones will she refuse to wear because they are boy clothes?  (She refuses to wear Minecraft shirts because they are boy shirts but would play Minecraft all day long if we would let her.) And don't forget to go through the shoes! Boots will need to be tried on. New slippers might need to be purchased for the Fall and Winter.

It will also become time to put the kids' outdoor toy bin on the porch for safekeeping over the winter months. I am sad that we really didn't get to spend too much time outdoors this summer but – between the heat and the mosquitoes – it was sometimes unbearable. Maybe once the cooler weather arrives, we will be able to enjoy our backyard again.


Preparing For the Fall 

I used to change out decorations around the house – putting up pumpkins, leaves, and more to celebrate the arrival of Fall. Things have changed since having more children and homeschooling them. There were also changes made to my desire to decorate because of my anxiety and depression. And right now we don't really have space to make things fancy or decorated.

I hope that we will be able to plan our annual trip to a local farm to get pumpkins but alas I think that will be canceled like so many other events. It saddens me because it was one of my favorite ways to celebrate the season. Between the pumpkin picking and the games they had on the "Field of Fun," it was a great way to spend the day as a family. And we just discovered a new place where we can pick apples, too.

Homeschool Review Crew Social Media Challenge

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of Persian Betrayal

Text: Book Club: Book Review of Persian Betrayal by Terry Brennan; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

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

text: Book Club: Book Review A Mom's Quest to Teach; book cover of Persian Betrayal In February, I was fortunate enough to review the first book in the Empires of Armageddon series by Terry Brennan. Ishmael Covenant is a Christian fiction and suspense novel set in 2014. The majority of the story for both the first book in the series and the second book in the series, Persian Betrayal, takes place in the Middle East with a few scenes happening in Washington D.C. As Brennan's newest book takes place, after a short prologue, right where events ended in Ishmael Covenant, I would recommend reading the first book prior to this one.

In my previous book review, I reflected upon the fact that I usually don't read political fiction or historical fiction set in the present day. I am so glad that I reviewed both Ismael Covenant and Persian Betrayal. After the cliff hanger in the first book, I really wanted to know what happened to the cast of characters. Would the Rabbi survive the explosion? What was the second prophecy that was translated? Where was the box? What is going to happen in the personal life of Brian Mullaney? So many questions!

What to Expect from Persian Betrayal

Over the course of 289 pages, Terry Brennan answered many of the questions that I had after reading the first book as well as presented some more in Persian Betrayal to be answered in the third book in the series – Ottoman Dominion.  It is a fast-paced paperback novel with the action switching between scenes, sometimes multiple times in one chapter – but do not fret because whenever readers are transported to a new location there is a notation of place, date, and time. I was never at a loss for where the characters were – even if their actions were sometimes still shrouded in mystery.

The Bible will play an even bigger role in Persian Betrayal as the characters try to negotiate the covenant and whether or not it will be best for their governments as well as whether promoting it or signing it will result in disobeying the word of God. The U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Joseph Atticus Cleveland, has to walk a fine line between obeying orders from the President as well as obeying God.

There is a lot of action in Persian Betrayal as Diplomatic Security Service agents work with members of Israel's internal security agency (Shin Bet) to go after those responsible for the bombing of the Hurva Synagogue. There is also a military coup in Iraq, nuclear weapons destroyed off the coast of Pakistan, and evil trying to assert its control over the entire region. The entire goal of the underlying evil currents so undermines the prophecy concerning the end of times and changes the proscribed history of man as foretold in the Bible.

Text: Book Review Persian Betrayal; book cover of Persian Betrayal

What Did I Think? 

I was very happy to see the relationships grow between and strengthen the different characters. There were a few instances when the main characters listened to lies but eventually, they opened their heart to God and realized what was the truth and what were the lies. I liked getting an inside glimpse into those moments including learning about how Brian Mullaney, Diplomatic Security Service agent, approaches his prayer and Bible reading time.

And whether or not the intention was to cause readers to cry, there were several moments while reading Persian Betrayal where tears formed in my eyes. Reading of the elder Rabbi Herzog's realization after receiving a special visitor was a beautiful moment. Brian talking to his wife, Abby, and talking about the lie that he was believing was another moment that was wonderfully described. I love moments when characters come to life.

I think my only disappointment was that Palmyra Athena Parker, who played a large role in Ishmael Covenant, was not featured more in Persian Betrayal. I understand why new characters came to the forefront but I really appreciated her strength and admired her courage in the first book and missed her here.

I would recommend Persian Betrayal to those who enjoyed Ishmael Covenant (this is one sequel you don't want to miss), Christian fiction, historical fiction, political fiction, or books with prophecies. It is a fast read (you really want to know what happens next so it is hard to put the book down). Once again I look forward to the next book in the Empires of Armageddon series!

Do You Want to Learn More About Terry Brennan? 

photograph of Terry Brennan

"Terry Brennan is the award-winning author of The Sacred Cipher, The Brotherhood Conspiracy, and The Aleppo Code, the three books in The Jerusalem Prophecies series. His latest series is Empires of Armageddon, which includes Ishmael Covenant and Persian Betrayal."

text: Win a copy of Terry Brennan's Persian Betrayal during the I Read with Audra blog tour 8/6-8/20

Friday, August 14, 2020

Record Keeping in Our Homeschool

Text: Record Keeping in Our Homeschool; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; 100 and letter A clip art

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

Every homeschool is different. And depending on where you live, you may find the need to keep more records of homeschool work and grades than we do. I highly recommend you check out the laws and regulations of your home state or country to find out just exactly what you need to keep track of for your homeschool. A great place to start is with the Home School Legal Defense Association. They can give you the proper advice as to what you need to maintain the documentation you need.

Keeping Records for Our Younger Children 

Text: Record Keeping in Our Homeschool; How to keep track of grades, plans, and more; Applecore logo and A Mom's Quest to Teach logoWe have three children and we keep records differently for them. For our younger children, every day they are learning. If I kept every piece of paper they used on a daily basis to homeschool and learn, we would have a flood of paper. Now that our younger son is entering second grade, he has decided he wants me to grade his work - at least his math work - and supply him with a number and letter grade. So for the past several weeks, I have been grading his math worksheets, checking them for accuracy, and then writing down a grade. I even pulled out my stamps from when I was a teacher to add a 'good job' to his homeschool work.

Most of the work that our younger children complete is done with me sitting with them or near them so I know right away whether or not they are getting questions wrong. And when they are working online with programs like CTCMath, they are given immediate feedback as to whether or not they get the problems correct. I can even download reports from some online homeschooling programs so I can keep copies of their records from that program after the subscription ends.

CTCMath grade information

Keeping Records for Our High School Student 

Our high schooler has the intention to start his own business after graduation. So, our methods of record-keeping are a bit different than if he had the intention to go onto a two-year or four-year college. He attended one year of public high school, so I have his transcript from his freshman year. I can take those grades and incorporate those into our record-keeping program so that I can calculate out his entire high school career's grades. We are using Applecore through our membership to keep track of our high schooler's course grades as well as to calculate his transcript.

Applecore Recordkeeping tutorial screen shot

The first step I take in keeping records for our high schooler is to input his grades into an excel spreadsheet. I use one sheet for each course and I have been putting classwork/daily tasks in one column, quizzes in a second column, and tests and projects in a third column. When I calculate his grades, I have been counting his tests and projects as worth more than the daily work he completes. After I calculate the final grade for each course, I use a chart to find the letter grade and then record this information into Applecore. From there, the program will create a report card or transcript for me.

Final Thoughts

Many new-to-homeschooling families may be very concerned about grades and record keeping. I think it is important, as I mentioned earlier, that you follow any state requirements. But beyond those requirements, I think it is more important that our children actually understand the information than they have all As or Bs. Yes, if they understand the information, they are more likely to have 'good grades,' but I do not think they should be penalized too harshly for their mistakes. For example, we are keeping more grades for our teen as I will create a transcript for him in case he wishes to go onto higher education. However, I make sure that his regular work – what might be considered classwork and homework if he attended public school – is not weighted as much as work he completes as quizzes or tests. Those are the opportunities he has to demonstrate his knowledge—through these written documents as well as the conversations we have about the different topics he is studying.

Keeping records first depends upon your state requirements and then depends on what you feel is important for documentation. In the younger years, that may mean a lot of photographs of projects (that get too big to store forever) or boxes full of artwork. As your children get older, you might find that more and more of their work is saved digitally. I love that there are so many options for keeping records while we homeschool.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Top Five Homeschooling Curriculum Choices

Text: Top Five Homeschooling Curriculum Choices; pencils in background; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

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

There are so many awesome curriculum choices available! It is very easy to get overwhelmed with all the options available to homeschooling families. There are some companies where you can purchase an entire curriculum for the whole school year for one price. Others provide you with options to purchase individual products for specific subject areas. As we have been members of the Homeschool Review Crew for the past two years, we have used a variety of materials and have discovered quite a few favorites.

Top Five Homeschooling Curriculum Choices in Our Homeschool – Every Subject. Every Grade. Every Student.

I first came across several years ago when I saw that they had positions for lesson designers. I was so very excited to write courses for them because I LOVE writing curriculum. That was one of my favorite parts of being a teacher. A short while later, I joined the Homeschool Review Crew and then our high school student decided to join us on the homeschooling journey. We use almost exclusively for our high schooler. There are 475 courses for PK-12 grade. If you need math for first, second, or third grade, there are options for your homeschool. If you are looking for courses in British Literature or American Literature, there are courses you can use in your homeschool. So many great options!

This year, introduced School Boxes. No matter if you are a brand new homeschooler or a veteran homeschool mom, you can use the virtual Homeschool Curriculum Boxes to help plan your homeschool year. The new Curriculum Box provides all the content you need to provide an entire school year's worth of curriculum. You can just open and go! And if you already have a great social studies curriculum (for example), you do not need to use that curriculum guide. It is all up to you as a homeschool parent.

K-12 School Boxes; Open, Click, and Go! grade 1 and Grade 11 boxes

History Homeschool Curriculum Resources 

text: Top Five Homeschooling Curriculum Choices; From full curriculum packages to purchasing individual materials; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; Exploring Government book coverThere are many homeschooling history resources that I found over the past several years. Because I love history, I constantly seek out historical material. WriteBonnieRose shares a great number of history-related resources that allow students of various ages to learn about history as well as to practice their copywork. I also love using materials from Notgrass History and Home School in the Woods in our homeschool.

Notgrass History 

Last year, our teen used Exploring Government for his junior year. During his studies using the textbook and accompanying materials, he explored the government of the United States from the beginning to the present day. Everything was laid out in a clear, easy-to-understand manner that made Exploring Government not only a class that was simple to include in his homeschool day but also very valuable. He learned about how government operates at the federal, state, and local levels as well as the various issues that are important to the United States today. (I also really enjoyed reading the textbook and learned a lot myself!)

This year, we will be using Our Star-Spangled Story for our second grader. When I was looking at history options for our younger son, I fell in love with the samples that Notgrass History provides for Our Star-Spangled Story (well, for all their materials to be honest). The textbooks are beautiful with full-color photographs and illustrations. I bought the bundle that combines the curriculum and literature packages so that we have all the books to read along with Our Star-Spangled Story. I love that we will be including songs, dances, and hands-on activities with reading to learn history this year.

Home School in the Woods

Another fantastic company that I love for history resources is Home School in the Woods. We have been fortunate enough to review several of their products over the years with both of our sons – including resources to learn about the election, a Lap-Pak to learn about knights, and unit studies on the Renaissance and Reformation and the American Civil War. I love that their materials are digital. So, with a family license, I can use the material for all three of our children very easily.

Schooling with Games, Foreign Languages, and More! 


Timberdoodle is a great company that offers complete curriculum packages for purchase. They offer different levels such as elite, complete, and basic as well as religious and nonreligious kits. These options make them a good choice for families who are secular homeschoolers and for those who are religious homeschoolers, too. And if you do not need an entire curriculum package, they offer many of the items for individual sale. In the past, we have purchased science materials from them such as Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy, the Curious Chef 3-Piece Nylon Knife Set, and Channie's My First Letters tracing pad.

We have also been fortunate enough to review several games from Timberdoodle including:

I love that we can incorporate games into our homeschool day to help work on critical thinking skills, problem-solving, cooperation, and teamwork. Games provide a great brain break for the day, too. 

working on Memoria Press Latin workbook

Memoria Press – Studying Latin 

If you are looking for a curriculum that takes a classical approach to education, then I recommend Memoria Press. And just what is classical education? According to Memoria Press, "classical education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue through the study of the liberal arts and the Great Books."

Memoria Press also offers full curriculum packages or allows homeschoolers to purchase just the materials they need for their homeschool. We have used a number of their products, including the First Start Reading Program, their Simply Classical Writing, and Prima Latina.  I love their approach to teaching and the quality of the materials. We started reviewing Prima Latina with our younger son at the start of the summer and we will pick up the curriculum again this school year. I love that Prima Latina can be purchased with a DVD so that I don't have to worry about my own pronunciation of the Latin. Our son can learn along with the instructor in the videos. That makes it so much easier to teach a foreign language!

What are your Top Five Homeschooling Curriculum Choices? Where do you turn for great curriculum for your homeschool?

Yesterday we shared our must have resources...please see what everyone shared on their blogs!

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses shares My Must Have Homeschool Resources.
Kristen @ A Mom's Quest to Teach shares Homeschooling Must Have Resources and Supplies in Our Home.
Annette @ A Net in Time shares Nature Study Bring Alongs.
Jessica @ My Homeschool with a View shares My Top 5 Homeschool Supplies.
Dawn @ Schoolin' Swag shares Must Have Supplies ... For Mom.
Vicki B @ Tumbleweed News shares Homeschool Must Have Resources / Supplies.
Yvonne @ The Life We Build shares her Top 5 Favorite Homeschool Supplies and Resources.
Lori @ At Home: Where Life Happens shares Homeschool Supplies... Squirrel.

Not Back to School Blob Hop Logo

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Homeschooling Must Have Resources and Supplies in Our Home

text: Homeschooling Must Have Resources and Supplies in Our Home; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach

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

If you read ten homeschool blog posts about must-have resources and supplies, you might find ten different lists. There might be some similarities like a library card or access to the Internet but the lists will also be diverse because there are so many different homeschooling styles and materials available. And your own personal list of must-have resources might change as your children get older and grow. For example, arts and crafts supplies might change from crayons and markers to watercolor paints and acrylic paints.

Must Have Resources in Our Homeschool

Text: Homeschooling Must Have Resources and Supplies in Our Home; From favorite online resources to binders and a good 3 hole-punch; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; notebook clipart; teacher and blackboard clipartOne of the items that is of great importance in our homeschool is an editable digital planner. I love using a planner that allows me to type in the weekly homeschool work and then print it out so that I can share it with our teen son. I usually like to type in two to three weeks' worth of work and then print them out each week. If we have changes, I can easily copy and paste in future weeks. Using an editable PDF planner allows me to prepare the schedule for our son as well as creates a record of work completed.

Other must-haves in our homeschool are binders and a good three-hole punch. While we use a variety of materials for homeschooling from online programs like CTCMath (where I do not need to print papers) to printed books for studying languages like Latin, we also incorporate many courses from from which I print work for our children to complete. Having binders for each of them is a must for organization. I usually print our children's work two to three weeks in advance so – if we need to make a change – I will not have wasted a lot of printing or time.

So having a stack of binders of various sizes, a good hole punch, and divider pages are very helpful for our homeschool!

Another must-have resource in our homeschool is our subscription to Minno.  As parents, we want to ensure that our children are watching appropriate television shows and Minno helps us accomplish this goal. It is a perfect fit for our younger children. The service provides a fun way to approach our Bible study and character development. They can watch old favorites like Veggie Tales (and Minno has been adding more episodes) or new programs put together specifically for recent events like Church at Home.

Supplies in Our Homeschool 

There are quite a few items that make homeschooling easier. From pens and pencils to notebooks and folders, the back to school aisles provide many options of varying designs and styles. We are fortunate that our basic supplies – pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, etc. – last us from year to year. We do not have to pack them up into a book bag and send them to school. It always amazed me the state of our son's supplies when he cleaned out his desk at the end of the year when he attended public school.

There is one supply we have to restock on a regular basis for younger children – scrap paper. Our younger children LOVE to draw, so having extra paper available for them is very important. They can use it for drawing, mathematics work, spelling, etc. Previously, I had given them a lot of the papers and pages from when I was teaching but they have since depleted most of those pages. So, a few times a year, we pick up a ream of printer paper for them to use as their scrap paper.

What makes your list of must-have resources and supplies for your homeschool? Do we share any favorites?

Not Back to School Blog Hop logo for 2020; text: Not Back to School Blog Hop; 10-14 August 2020; Traditions, Must Have Resources, Curriculum, How do I teach...? Planning/Record Keeping

Check out yesterday's posts from our Not Back to School Blog Hop 

Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses shares Homeschool Traditions.
Yvie @ Homeschool on the Range shares 20 Best Educational Subscription Boxes (we let the kids choose a new one at the beginning of each school year)
Dawn @ Schoolin' Swag shares Back to School Traditions.
Vickie B @ Tumbleweed News shares Homeschool Traditions {NOT Back-to-School Blog Hop}
Adrienne B @ Practicalmindedness shares on Traditions that seal the heart.
Teresa B @ Teresa Brouillette shaes Homeschool Traditions.
Annette V @ A Net in Time shares Starting a New School Year.
Kristen @ A Mom's Quest to Teach shares Homeschooling Taditions for the New Year.
Lori @ At Home: Where Life Happens shares Traditions for Back to School.
Yvonne @ The Life We Build shares Our Homeschool Traditions.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Homeschooling Traditions for the New School Year

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

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

Our New School Year Homeschooling Traditions

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

New Traditions for 2020-2021

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

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

Sunday, August 9, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Dice, Decks, and Boards: Gobblet Gobblers

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

I received a FREE copy of this game from Timberdoodle in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

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

Gobblet Gobblers game box

What is Gobblet Gobblers? 

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

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

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

Gobblet Gobblers two orange large pieces

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

Why Is Gobblet Gobblers a Good Game? 

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

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

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

6 Gobblet Gobblers pieces

How Did We Use Gobblet Gobblers? 

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

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

Gobblet Gobblers game in progress

Gobblet Gobblers game in progress

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

Gobblet Gobblers packaging

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

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

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