Thursday, July 29, 2021

On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer

A Mom's Quest to Teach: On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer - Finding the Right Materials with vacation background

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

During the summer, what subjects do you still include in your daily homeschool lessons? Our family homeschools year-round, so during the summer, we complete the subjects we haven't finished during the 'normal' school year and also review and dig deeper into subjects that interest our children. Summertime affords the perfect opportunity to allow children to follow their own interests. We take several different approaches to our homeschool journey during the summer. We review materials, use unit studies, and begin our new courses early.

Review And Refresh 

To help prepare our younger son for third grade, we are taking a look at the Stretching Higher with Third Grade Math curriculum on I love the flexibility of the course. I can go through this extensive course (it has a forty-week lesson plan) and pick out all those lessons that fit our homeschool needs. For example, I printed pages on ordinal numbers, subtraction (so we can work on borrowing or regrouping), counting by different numbers (by 6s, 7s, etc.), and using parenthesis in mathematics. Since it is the summer, we are not completing an entire lesson each day but instead going over the teaching material and then completing the practice questions over the course of several days. This allows our son to keep his math skills fresh while still feeling like he has a break from studies. 

My favorite parts of Stretching Higher with Third Grade Math are the sections that are written for inclusion in the student's notebook. These could be copied by hand into a math notebook or cut and pasted in the notebook, depending on how you print pages. These parts make reviewing the material very easy for our son as he works through the problems. 

Math coursework for third grade from

Semester Courses and Unit Studies

Another great option for homeschooling during the summer is to include subjects that are only a semester long – especially for your high schooler! For example, one of the courses that is included in the 11th Grade School Box is Friendly Chemistry. Using the course during the summer, you can fulfill a science credit and see if your high schooler wishes to pursue chemistry further or if another science would be more beneficial for them during the 'normal' year.

We have a plan for our daughter's science for the upcoming school year, but I pulled a few lessons from for us to work through during the summer. Most of it just requires us to sit together and read – which she absolutely loves. And after we read about the Sun using the material from Everyday Astronomy on, we will take a look at several of the lapbooks to fill out the rest of our summer. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer - Are you new to homeschooling? - Finding the Right Materials

New Courses 

Sometimes you want to move forward onto the next step in your homeschool journey, even though it is the middle of the summer. For me, when new homeschool materials arrive, I want to start using them right away. In a lot of ways, our younger two children are like me. When our new materials arrived from My Father's World for our daughter's first grade curriculum, she wanted to look at all the books and start using the math manipulatives right away. The same went for our son when his language arts and spelling curriculum arrived from Timberdoodle. He took the books out of the box and hugged them to himself. These kids love learning! 

I was looking for something that had a bit more structure, so I picked Mosdos Press Literature – Opal, which is scheduled to use with third grade in the Timberdoodle Curriculum kit. As part of my relationship with Timberdoodle, I was able to purchase the literature bundle for 50% off in exchange for a review (which will be coming in September 2021). We just starting using this language arts program in our homeschool and I love the ease of it. I need three books – the Teacher's Edition, the Student Reader, and the Student Activity Workbook – to teach lessons to our son. We opened with a discussion on stories and their elements – and then jumped into examining the vocabulary that will be part of the first short story. The material is quite flexible, and I look forward to sharing more with you in a few months. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer - Finding the Right Materials Mosdos Literature Opal workbook and textbook

Finding Your Path on the Journey 

Whether you are looking toward starting with an all-in-one curriculum like or picking and choosing what will work for your family, the summer is the perfect time to do some exploring on your homeschool journey. We can each find what works for our families while we homeschool them. We can even change paths midway through the homeschool year more than once if we find something is not working. This is the beauty of homeschooling! 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: On the Homeschooling Journey During the Summer - Finding the Right Materials BOGO sale advertisement

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games

 A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with game board in background

I received a COMPLIMENTARY copy of Battle Sheep 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. This post contains tracking links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Building critical thinking skills is very important. As parents and homeschoolers, we want our children to be able to think through things critically, be able to access and understand a variety of reading materials, and be able to solve problems on their own. 

There are many ways we can help our children develop their ability to think critically. We want them to practice: 

  • Observation skills 
  • Analytical skills
  • Inference skills 
  • Problem-solving skills 
  • Communication skills or applying what they learn as they think critically 
One of our favorite ways to encourage critical thinking is through games like Battle Sheep. This fun, easy-to-learn (but difficult-to-master) game is part of the Third Grade Timberdoodle Curriculum Kit. We were blessed with the opportunity to review it in our homeschool and Battle Sheep has quickly become a hit with our younger son. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with inside of game box and game pieces

What is Battle Sheep? 

"Battle Sheep: Flock to Greener Pastures" is a Blue Orange game for two to four players of ages 7 to adult. Players are in charge of a sheep stack, and they attempt, through play, to gain control of all Farmer Pat's pastures. Before play starts, they create the board by placing each of their four pasture boards. Each hexagon on the pasture board represents one pasture, and each pasture board contains four hexagons (resulting in four pastures per pasture board piece).

Once all the pasture boards have been placed, players pick their starting point to place their stack of 16 sheep. From this point, each player moves their sheep to attempt to take over the pasture lands. When moving sheep, the stack is split into two stacks. Each stack must contain at least one sheep. The original stack stays in place, and the new stack moves as far as it can in a straight line. 

It is in the moving of the stacks of sheep where players need to use critical thinking skills. As you want to have the most sheep on each pasture board, it is important to spread your sheep throughout the game board. It is also important not to allow your sheep stack to be blocked by yourself or the other players. As you cannot jump over or combine stacks, you want to make sure you have many straight lines available for movement. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with game box

What is in the Box? 

Battle Sheep has everything you need to play packed into a sturdy box. The 64 sheep chips (16 of each color - blue, white, black, and red) and 16 heavy, cardboard pasture tiles. Everyone in our family was impressed by the quality of the materials. In fact, our 18-year-old said, "wow, these chips are high quality." When you are done playing, everything fits neatly back in the box. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with sheep tiles for Battle Sheep

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with pasture tiles for Battle Sheep

Building Critical Thinking Skills 

The first time we played, it was just my husband, our eight-year-old son, and myself. We worked through the instructions, looked at the back of the box to see what a game in progress looks like, and then dove in for our first play through. There were a few instances where we needed to consult the rules again, but, in general, I found Battle Sheep easy to figure out. Personally, I jumped right into our first game without putting too much thought into where I wanted to start my sheep stack. This was a mistake, I quickly discovered. Players really need to think in advance of their steps to ensure that they are able to move their sheep in multiple ways. 

After our first game, our son said, "I already know how I want to play the game differently next time." I love the fact that he was thinking through the current game and building a strategy for future games, too. To me, this means that Battle Sheep is not just a game that one plays, enjoys, and then puts back on the shelf. It is a game that builds critical thinking skills. Battle Sheep helps one think differently about gameplay and how to implement different strategies. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Building Critical Thinking Skills with Games: A Review of Battle Sheep with two photos of game play

In addition to building critical thinking skills, Battle Sheep can also help foster healthy competition. After all, one person is going to win. Teaching our children how to be gracious winners and accept losses is important to our family. Battle Sheep can help in this area, too. As the game only takes about 15 minutes (or as long as everyone takes planning out their moves), you can play it multiple times in one sitting. Playing it over and over in a short amount of time helps work through new ideas for gaining more pasture land.

I think we would all recommend Battle Sheep. The recommended starting age of seven seems to be right on target. I think it would be a welcome addition to many a homeschool's game shelves. Our son said it is his new favorite game, and he has asked to play it on a regular basis. This makes Battle Sheep a win for our homeschooling family! 

If you are looking for another game from Blue Orange, you might want to give Gobblet Gobblers a try! 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of Lead Like Christ

 A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Lead Like Christ: Reflecting the Qualities and Character of Christ in Your Ministry with floral background

I received a COMPLIMENTARY 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.

What does Christ-centered leadership look like? 

A.W. Tozer shares in Lead Like Christ: Reflecting the Qualities and Character of Christ in Your Ministry how leaders in the church can be different than the world around them by following the example of Jesus. Throughout the 183-page paperback book, Tozer provides quotes from the Book of Titus to introduce readers to how they can Lead Like Christ. As introduced by editor Dr. James L. Snyder, the book is based upon a series of sermons by Tozer on the book of Titus. Readers are challenged to apply the lessons learned to their own lives as leaders. 

Lead Like Christ is a well-developed book that is easy to navigate, with well-thought-out chapters that are also very deep. Snyder states, "You will not be able to read this one in one sitting," and I would agree. While it is not a difficult read, I found it full of ideas I wanted to think about and ponder before I moved onto Tozer's next chapter. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Lead Like Christ: Reflecting the Qualities and Character of Christ in Your Ministry with cover of the book

While one could argue that the book is geared towards those in ministry and those serving the church, I think there is valuable information for all Christians no matter where we serve. To quote Tozer, "I want to say right here that every born-again Christian is involved in ministry" (14). We can all apply the teachings of Paul as described to us by Tozer in our everyday lives to share the love of Jesus with those around us. 

Nineteen chapters look at how we can lead like Christ, from building a foundation and understanding Biblical order to taking a commitment to sound doctrine and how God sees us. We may not think we are ready to lead like Christ, but He will equip us because He has called us. Jesus provides the perfect model for us. 

I found Lead Like Christ to be full of wisdom that is very applicable to today. We really do need our church leaders to "showcase God's amazing grace in their lives" (73). They need to reflect Jesus – imitate Jesus – not the world around them. Churches should not mirror the culture. It should be "separated from the age in which it lives as Jesus Christ as separated from Rome" (78). I found these recommendations and those that said qualified leaders must hold fast to the Word and doctrine to be very important and meaningful. 

Lead Like Christ was a wonderful read and one I would recommend. It would be a welcome addition to church leaders' bookshelves, the homes of ministers, and indeed, any Christian who wants to spread the Word of God.  

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Lead Like Christ: Reflecting the Qualities and Character of Christ in Your Ministry book

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety

I received a COMPLIMENTARY 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.

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety with cover of the book

It seems like being worried or anxious is a lot easier than being confident, grateful, or at peace. If we seek to work through our problems, we can lay them at the throne of God. In the latest book from Bethany House Publishers, readers are reminded of key Bible verses that will help them overcome worry and anxiety. 

100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety is an easy-to-read paperback book of just over 200 pages. Each verse has about two pages devoted to it to better examine the verse and help readers apply the quote to their life. In the two pages, there is the Bible verse, its context, a meaning provided, how readers can apply the quote to our lives, and additional reading recommendations. Readers could read the book cover to cover as I did, or they could flip through and pick and choose which quotes to examine. You could even go through and read all the quotes from a particular book of the Bible or just the ones from the Old or New Testaments. 

Some of the Bible verses included are: 

"The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing." Psalm 23:1 

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10 

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13 

The quotes are all from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted in the book. 

Quote from Psalm 94:19; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo

What Did I Think? 

In general, I enjoyed reading 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety. I found myself underlining and making notes in the book as well as grabbing my Bible to mark off verses in it. I appreciated that the book did not just provide a quote but that it looked at the context and shared what the book was about. I also found this to be an easy book to read. I could pick it up, read a few pages, and then set it down to homeschool, make dinner, or complete a work assignment. When I had free time later in the day, I could easily continue reading 100 Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety

My only complaints could be considered minor. At times, there appeared to be some repetitiveness as I read about the context of the books of John and Isaiah. As there were multiple verses shared from those two books, the text discussing the books was very similar. My other complaint was in regards to an outside source referenced. These two small cons, however, did not make me want to set the book aside. I would still recommend it.

I firmly believe that reading the Word of God is helpful to overcome fears, worries, and anxieties. Sometimes, it is intimidating to know where to look in the Bible. Looking at a book like 100 Best Bible Verses to Overcome Worry & Anxiety provides such a great place to start in order to find peace and hope. I think even if you do not consider yourself a worrier, this book will be helpful for you to provide wisdom and guidance for others as well as help you find more gratefulness in your everyday life. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling?

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling? - whales, jellyfish, and waves

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

Are you new to homeschooling? Would you like to start homeschooling this coming year, but you don't know where to begin? There are so many wonderful options for families who wish to start their quest to educate their children at home. From boxed curriculum that contains everything you need to curriculum sites that allow you to pick and choose the courses that meet your family's needs, you can tailor your children's education to their needs. 

We began our homeschooling journey a few years ago with our youngest son. Since he was a preschooler, we didn't do a lot in the way of formal education. We spent a lot of the time playing, reading, and learning together. Then, his older brother decided to join us on our homeschool journey when he was in the 10th grade. He left public school, and we starting homeschooling officially.  

I was fortunate that even though we were new to homeschooling, I was part of a wonderful group that allowed me access to a wide variety of quality homeschooling resources. I became a member of the Homeschool Review Crew after writing several courses for So, I not only had access to a full curriculum through, but I also had access to the different products that the Crew reviewed during the course of the year. With these homeschooling resources, we were able to easily create a curriculum for our teenage son in addition to his younger brother and sister.

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling? with jellyfish background

Are You New to Homeschooling? 

If you are new to homeschooling, the waters are full of rich resources, but at times it can seem scary and overwhelming. Where do you even begin? There are several things I recommend you think about before you take the plunge into the deep waters of curriculum buying. 

What is your goal for homeschooling? Will your children return to public school? Are you homeschooling through high school? (I promise it is not as hard as you may think!) 

How do your children learn best? Do they thrive on hands-on activities? Do they love to read and write? What subjects do you need to teach them? 

Do you have a large family? Are you trying to find a homeschooling resource that will meet the needs of everyone in your family without breaking the bank?

Our Favorite Homeschooling Resources

I have been blessed to try out a wide variety of homeschooling resources in our family. From online math curriculum like CTCMath to supplemental, hands-on history resources from Home School in the Woods, we have tried a range of homeschool products from the time our homeschool was new. Some of them I would easily recommend to new homeschooling families, and others I think may be best suited for those who have been swimming in the waters of homeschooling for a while. 

One of the best ones for families who are new to homeschooling and for those who have been homeschooling for years is As I mentioned before, I am fortunate enough to work for The Old Schoolhouse®, and is a division of that company. Even though I work for The Old Schoolhouse®, I would not just recommend their curriculum if I didn't use it in our homeschool. We have used it as our core curriculum for our high schooler for the past three years and have used a variety of lessons, courses, and materials for our younger children. 

What Do I Like About 

One of my favorite aspects of is that, for one price, you gain access to all the content for grades PK-8th or PK-12th grade, depending upon which level you select. So, if you have a large family, you do not need to join for each child. Having access to the entire curriculum also means you can use 4th-grade math materials and 6th-grade language arts materials for one child without having to pay extra. You find exactly what courses you need to meet the needs of your child. And if you are new to homeschooling, this makes it very easy if you don't know what levels your children are at in their education.  

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling? - Second grade science curriculum course list and K-12 School Boxes Curriculum Cover

When using, you can select to use entire courses or even the School Boxes that lay out curriculum guides for each subject area, or you can pick and choose what you wish to teach in your homeschool. For example, we completed our science curriculum early, so I looked through the Second Grade School Box's Science Curriculum Guide for a few lessons and activities to include in our son's summer studies. As we will be studying mammals this year, I skipped over many of the lessons to focus upon Watersheds and the Water Cycle. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling?  Watersheds and the Water Cycle lesson plan with wave clipart

After you select a course, School Box, or lesson you want to teach, you can either use the lesson plans provided or you can use the materials in the way that works for your family. The Watersheds and the Water Cycle is part of the Science Unit Studies and can be a stand-alone unit study. I am choosing to loosely follow the suggested lesson plan from the Second Grade School Box's Science Curriculum Guide (this is found in Week 33) and read through the materials with our son. We read a few pages a day, I ask him to write the definitions, and then we discuss the diagrams that are included in the unit study. If you are a new homeschooler, a unit study like this is the perfect way to wet your feet in the homeschooling world. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling?  - Watersheds and the Water Cycle Lesson and rain map

Of course, there are lots more things I really like about It is a curriculum grounded in a Christian worldview. I do not need to preview every single page to ensure my children will not see something I fundamentally disagree with in terms of values. There are also over 400 courses, record keeping tools, a homeschool planner, a subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, streaming videos, and access to World Book Online. All of these wonderful resources are fantastic for those who are new to homeschooling! 

Take the plunge today and use code: EXPLORE to pay only $179 for a two-year Ultimate Membership to during their Explore the World BOGO event! (reg. $224.97/yr). This is an incredible saving! Pay now and receive a complimentary Explore the World tote while supplies last! (New members only. No refunds. US customers only.)

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Swimming Through New Waters: Are You New to Homeschooling?  BOGO ST Sale with underwater theme

Friday, July 16, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: N is for Names

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Blogging Through the Alphabet: N is for Names - Examine some famous and not-so-famous names connected with the Civil War. Civil War Cannons

The American Civil War has many famous names – people, places, battles, events, and more. Most people who have studied American history are familiar with people like Clara Barton, John Wilkes Booth, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Abraham Lincoln. They may even be familiar with the battle of Gettysburg and Sherman's March to the Sea. But what about the lesser-known names of the American Civil War?

Well-Known Names 

Clara Barton – nicknamed "The Angel of the Battlefield." She was an American nurse who founded the American Red Cross. 

John Wilkes Booth – An actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Ulysses S. Grant – The Union military commander who won the presidential election twice. 

Jefferson Davis – The President of the Confederacy

Robert E. Lee – One of the most admired Confederate generals.

Abraham Lincoln – Sixteenth President of the United States and the first Republican president 

Battle of Gettysburg – The turning point of the American Civil War; when the Union forces stopped the Confederate advancement North. 

Sherman's March to the Sea – This military campaign was intended to evoke fear in the citizens of Georgia and the South during the American Civil War. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Blogging Through the Alphabet: N is for Names - Examine some famous and not-so-famous names connected with the Civil War. Figures in Motion Grant and Lee

Do You Know These Names? 

John Brown and Harpers Ferry – John Brown, a controversial abolitionist, launched an attack on Harpers Ferry, VA (now in WV) on October 16, 1859, to rally the local slave population to his cause. 

Dred Scott – Enslaved man who sued for his freedom and the freedom of his wife. He claimed that since he lived in a free state and free territory for several years, they were free. Unfortunately, the court decided in Dred Scott v. Sandford that he was not an American citizen so he could not sue. 

Bleeding Kansas – Also known as Bloody Kansas or the Border Wars, Bleeding Kansas refers to the often violent confrontations between those supporting slavery and those in favor of abolition in the Kansas territory and the surrounding territories and states.

Fort Sumter – Located off the coast of the South Carolinian city of Charleston, Fort Sumter is where the Civil War officially started when the Confederates began a bombardment on the Union fort. 

Battle of Bull Run (or Manassas) – Two battles took place in Manassas, VA. The first battle fought on the fields received two names because the North tended to name the battles after physical features (like Bull Run Creek) while the South tended to name the battles after nearby towns. The first battle, fought on July 21, 1861, demonstrated that the Civil War would not be a short one. 

Pickett's Charge – On July 3, 1863, General George E. Pickett, along with other Confederate generals, led an attack as the high water mark of the Confederacy at the Battle of Gettysburg. This attack occurred in the afternoon and saw about 12,000 Confederate troops attacking about 6,000 Union troops at the center of the Union line.  Historians continue to debate whether this should be seen as the great charge it has been depicted as in movies. 

What About These People and Events of the Civil War? 

Irwin McDowell – Graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1838, McDowell would go on to teach tactics at the school, serve in the Mexican-American War, and would receive the rank of Brigadier General at the start of the American Civil War. He was defeated at the first Battle of Bull Run, would eventually be tasked to protect Washington D.C., and then be transferred to the Pacific theater. 

Battle of Ball's Bluff – This battle on October 21, 1861, has been called an accidental battle. General McClellan wanted to identify where the Confederate troops were after they had abandoned Leesburg, so he sent General Charles Stone with a scouting party. A mistake, a delay, and the death of a Union Colonel led to the Union being driven across the Potomac River and losing the battle. 

Braxton Bragg – The North Carolinian would attend the United States Military Academy, graduate in 1837, serve in the Second Seminole War, the Mexican-American War, and eventually become a Confederate general. Even though he was well-liked by Davis, his temper and personality led him to be disliked by others in the Confederate army.

Rose O'Neal Greenhow – This Southern Woman, born in Maryland, was a Confederate Spy during the American Civil War. Through her marriage to Dr. Robert Greenhow, she gained access to the elite of Washington D.C. She maintained a network of spies that spanned multiple states and consisted of fifty individuals. 

Book covers of Rebel Rose and A Southern Woman's Story

Studying the American Civil War opens so many opportunities to learn more. No matter what someone's interest, there is probably something to intrigue them. From studying military tactics (that teens can employ in their video games) to preparing traditional foods or playing popular music from the time period, we can make the 1860s come to life for our children. We can read biographies, research the weaponry used, examine the geography of the places where battles took place, or read the books published during the 1860s or about the time period. I love subjects that allow us to easily engage in them.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Focusing on Addition Skills Through a Fun Game

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Focusing on Addition Skills Through a Fun Game - A Review of Clumsy Thief Junior  - game cards

I received a COMPLIMENTARY 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 tracking links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Learning addition math facts will help our children in all their future mathematics courses. One of the areas where I would like our six-year-old daughter to get practice in is in addition. We recently had the opportunity to add the game Clumsy Thief Junior, which is part of the 2021 Kindergarten Curriculum Timberdoodle Kits, into our homeschooling lessons. What a fun game to help our daughter practice adding numbers that make ten!

About the Game - Clumsy Thief Junior 

The deck, consisting of 76 cards total, and instructions come in a cute box featuring a raccoon eating an apple on the cover of it. The seventy food cards are labeled with colorful fruit and vegetables and the numbers one through nine. The four thief cards feature a raccoon eating a pear, holding lettuce, and two holding an ear of corn. The two trap cards show the same picture of a basket over top of the raccoon. 

Game cards from Clumsy Thief Junior with A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo

The object of Clumsy Thief Junior is for the players to make ten to collect food cards. Each player starts with seven cards and then the game follows these steps: 

  1. Everyone makes stacks of ten with the cards in their hand. They will use two cards with the same food to add to exactly ten.
  2. After everyone has made all their stacks of ten, players will begin collecting stacks. This is done by looking at everyone's stacks in front of them and seeing if you can add any cards from your hand to the top card to add to ten. For example, someone's stack is showing a four lettuce card, and you have a six lettuce card. You can put the six lettuce card on their stack and take the stack for yourself. This can be done until everyone is done making stacks using the cards in their hands. 
  3. The next step is to replenish your stack up to five cards. 
  4. Repeat the steps until the entire card deck is gone. 
The game moves rather quickly – especially the second step when everyone is trying to make their own stacks of cards. Using the cards in your own hand and the stacks on the table in front of you really does help you learn how to add quickly to ten.

Clumsy Thief Junior box and Clumsy Thief card with A Mom's Quest to Teach logo

How Do You Win? 

Once the entire card deck is gone, you discard any cards that are not a part of stacks adding to ten. Then each person counts the number of fruit cards from their remaining stacks. The player with the most fruit cards wins the game.

Clumsy Thief Junior game cards and game in action with A Mom's Quest to Teach logo

Using the Game – Clumsy Thief Junior in our Homeschool 

When I requested to review the game Clumsy Thief Junior, I had our daughter in mind. She was just finishing kindergarten, and I thought it would be perfect to help her practice her addition skills. One problem – she does not like to play competitive games. She doesn't like losing or winning. She prefers cooperative games, but knowing that learning addition math facts is important, I pushed her to join us in our second game of Clumsy Thief Junior. And she was very glad she did. She had a lot of fun. She told me it was fun to win against her brothers and her dad.

We played the game several times with everyone in our family. From our six-year-old to our 18-year-old, we all had fun. Our eight-year-old son was really into the game. He enjoyed 'stealing' stacks from his siblings and his parents but he also loved cheering everyone else on as we played the game. I liked how fast the game was which makes it perfect to fit into our homeschool day or just to play when we have some free time after dinner. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Focusing on Addition Skills Through a Fun Game - A Review of Clumsy Thief Junior  - Game cards

Extending the Learning Beyond the Game 

We love homeschool materials – like games – which we can use in a variety of ways beyond the normal game mechanics or rules. There are several different ways in which we can use the cards that accompany Clumsy Thief Junior in our homeschool lessons. And with the box being such a convenient size, it is very easy to store with all our homeschooling supplies. 

After removing the four thief cards and the two trap cards, children can pick from the deck and do a number of things: 

  • They can write the word for the number card they have chosen. 
  • They can think of one or more ways in which you can add to get the number on the card. For example, if they choose the number nine, they could tell you that 1 +8 = 9 or 2 + 7 = 9. 
  • Ask your child to tell you what number gets added to that card to equal ten. 
  • If you are studying a foreign language, ask your child what that number is in Spanish, Latin, French, etc. 
How do you use games in your homeschool? From games that focus upon addition skills like Clumsy Thief Junior to those that allow our children to work on social skills, games bring lessons to life in many settings, including the homeschool. They can be a quick, fun addition to your homeschool day. Which one will you add to your homeschool lessons today? 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Focusing on Addition Skills Through a Fun Game - A Review of Clumsy Thief Junior   - Materials from Clumsy Thief Junior

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Homeschooling Plans for Our Third Grader

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo. Homeschooling Plans for Our Third Grader - What do we plan for our son's third grade year?

I received many of the products mentioned in this post courtesy of my association with the Homeschool Review Crew. Affiliate links are included in this post. 

As our son will be an official third grader this coming school year, I thought I would share our plans for his homeschooling studies. We will be finishing up some of our materials from his second grade year, introducing some new materials, and starting new levels from some of our favorite homeschool curriculum and companies. 


We will be using several resources to help us in our mathematical journey, including CTCMath, worksheets from My Teaching Library, and materials from Page A Day. When possible, I like our youngest son to complete at least one lesson a day on CTCMath. I will sometimes supplement his homeschool math lessons with worksheets or online lessons from Mathseeds

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Homeschooling Plans for Our Third Grader - What do we plan for our son's third grade year? Memoria Press curriculum - Mammals

Language Arts

While we are reading the books that accompany Our Star-Spangled Story Notgrass History curriculum, I have also been including grammar worksheets from Homeschool Easy and My Teaching Library. Our son also enjoys working online with Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress. He enjoys collecting eggs so he can decorate his house on Reading Eggs or purchase virtual trading cards on Eggspress. 

We will also be using New American Cursive Penmanship Workbook 1 from Memoria Press. I would like to improve our son's handwriting, so I looked into several cursive penmanship programs and workbooks. I really like how straight-forward and simple this workbook looks to implement, and I am looking forward to using it this upcoming homeschool year with our son. 


We have spent time using Exploring Creation with Astronomy and I wanted to make a change to something different. We do have Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day from Apologia on hand but when asking our son which he preferred, he wanted to study Mammals using the materials from Memoria Press. Perhaps we will save the other curriculum for a future year or his sister. 

I ordered the set, which includes:
  • Mammals Teacher Guide 
  • Mammals Student Workbook 
  • The World of Mammals Reader 
  • What is the Animal Kingdom? book 
  • What is a Mammal? book 
There are 30 lessons in Mammals that cover monotremes, marsupials, carnivores, primates, and more for the homeschool student. In addition to the lessons, there are also quizzes and tests to track the progress of our children. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Homeschooling Plans for Our Third Grader - What do we plan for our son's third grade year? Memoria Press Mammals Curriculum


We will be finishing up the Our Star-Spangled Story from Notgrass History this year and then diving into Our 50 States. As I am a history major and former history teacher, we have been taking our time studying history and adding in additional resources to spend more time on areas that our son finds interesting. So while our Star-Spangled Story sets up a very easy schedule to follow, we have moved more slowly through the lessons. 

Some of the other resources we included are: 


We will be continuing with the lessons from Memoria Press for our son's Latin this year. We have had to take a step back from the material over the past year but we are slowly reviewing the first lessons and then moving forward. I love the fact that the curriculum – Prima Latina – has notecards, a CD, and a DVD to accompany the student worktext and teacher's manual. It makes my job as a homeschool mom so much easier. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Homeschooling Plans for Our Third Grader - What do we plan for our son's third grade year? Prima Latina Techer guide and materials

In addition to the above specific resources, we also have a variety of books that our third grader will be reading, along with other materials made available through my relationship with the Homeschool Review Crew. I anticipate this being a very fun year! 

Friday, July 2, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: M is for Music

Blogging Through the Alphabet: M is for Music floral background with A Mom's Quest to Teach logo

Music plays an important role in history and how we study the past. We can learn much from listening to the music of different time periods, examining the music that was considered popular, and studying the instruments that were popular. The time period of the American Civil War is no different. There were songs that were primarily sung by Union soldiers and ones sung by Confederate soldiers. There were songs that helped inspire the population as well as those that provided comfort for those back home.

To meet the needs and desires of the soldiers and civilians during the American Civil War, songwriters and composers produced a variety of materials, including: 

  • Patriotic songs 
  • Comic songs
  • Satires
  • Protest songs
  • Marching songs
  • Parlor songs
  • Drinking songs 
  • Abolitionist songs
  • Spirituals
  • Minstrels 
  • Sentimental songs 
To help bring these songs to life, some famous singers toured, and important publishing houses made sure the music found its way to families and soldiers alike. The songs helped the nation during the American Civil War and bring history to life today.

Blogging Through the Alphabet: M is for Music; Civil War Cannon in background

Music in the United States before the American Civil War was still mostly from overseas. With the Civil War, America began to find its own voice. This musical voice produced around 10,000 songs. Of these thousands of songs, there are a few that are widely known as well as others that really set the mood of the Civil War. 

Some of the most popular songs were copied, plagiarized, or bootlegged. Others used the same music and merely changed the lyrics. One example is The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Words were written by Julia War Howe, which you may know: 

"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on"

These were set to the same tune also used by the following songs: John Brown's Body, The President's Proclamation by Edna Dean Proctor, and The Marching Song of the First Arkansas Regiment with words ascribed to Captain Lindley Miller. 

Another song – one from the Confederacy – Dixie's Land with words and music by Daniel D. Emmett, which is well known for the lyrics: 

"I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times dar am not forgotten" 

This song has also had different versions written both in the South and the North. There were several Northern parodies, but there is little evidence they were as popular as the Southern song. 

Sampling of Songs

In closing, I want to share several of my favorite songs of the American Civil War period: 
  • The Homespun Dress – words ascribed to Carrie Bell Sinclair – music "Bonnie Blue Flag" 
  • Weeping, Sad and Lonely (When This Cruel War is Over) – words by Charles C. Sawyer – music by Henry Tucker 
    • Charles Carroll Sawyer was one of the most successful Civil War song writers. This song was popular in both the North and the South.
  • Goober Peas 
    • This anonymous song was referencing peanuts. There is no evidence that the song was actually published during the American Civil War, but it shed light on the shortness of rations of the Confederate soldiers. 
  • Grafted into the Army – words and music by Henry C. Work
    • With the Conscription Act signed into law on March 3, 1863, all able-bodied males between the ages of twenty and forty-five would be subject to the draft. There was also a way to avoid the draft by finding a substitute draftee or paying $300 to the government. 

Lyrics to Just Before the Battle, Mother printed on a background of a Civil War Monument

Other good songs to listen to: 
  • Hard Times Come Again No More 
  • Annie Laurie
  • Just Before the Battle, Mother
  • Richmond is a Hard Road to Travel 
  • The Vacant Chair 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Blogging Through the Alphabet: L is for Lee

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo: Blogging Through the Alphabet: L is for Lee; background of fences and cannon

A man surrounded by controversy, Robert E. Lee can spark heated conversations from historians and citizens alike. James M. McPherson summarizes who Lee was prior to the American Civil War quite well in Battle Cry of Freedom

"Lee was fifty-four years old in 1861, the son of a Revolutionary War hero, scion of the First Families of Virginia, a gentleman in every sense of the word" (280). 

Like many others, Lee made his dislike of slavery clear, but his decision to stand by Virginia led to many then and today discounting him and adding his name to the list of traitors to the United States in history. But what is the truth? Truth is very complicated when it comes to history, as there is so much evidence to wade through to find it. Today, I would like to share with you several resources to help you learn more about Robert E. Lee

Touring the United States 

An interesting book for the American Civil War enthusiast is In the Footsteps of Robert E. Lee by Clint Johnson. In this 186-page book, readers will be taken on a journey to over 60 different locations in over 10 states to learn more about Lee. Johnson writes in the preface, "Not many people in American history have had such power of personality and have attracted the kind of attention devoted to Lee" (XIV). When we examine the men of the past, we should try to immerse ourselves in their time period and not judge them by today's ever-changing standards. With In the Footsteps of Robert E. Lee, you will do just that by visiting the physical locations – some of which have not changed that much since Lee walked there in the 1800s.

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Blogging Through the Alphabet: L is for Lee; statue of Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg

Shaping History 

The history of the American Civil War and the examination of the causes, people, and events started almost immediately after the surrender at Appomattox. In the 1870s and 1880s, former Confederates began collecting their memories and writing their views of events. A popular theory and interpretation grew out of these writings – The Lost Cause. Tied up in this theory is the idea that Lee outshone all the other Confederate generals and ended up having to surrender due to the overpowering Union resources. 

While Lee was not the legendary man The Lost Cause portrayed him to be, the revisionist historians have swung too far in the opposite direction. In Lee and His Generals in War and Memory, Gary W. Gallagher attempts to explore arguments regarding Lee and his famous subordinates in the American Civil War. If you wish to learn more, Gallagher provides many footnotes to help you dig deeper, as well as a useful index to find out which specific topic you wish to read about. 


Another book I picked up many years ago is The Lee Girls by Mary P. Colling. It tells readers about the lives of the four daughters of Lee. For those who wish to know less about the military events of the mid-1800s to the early 1900s, reading about the lives of Mary Custis Lee, Anne Carter Lee, Eleanor Agnes Lee, and Mildred Childe Lee will provide an insight into the lives of a Virginian family greatly impacted by the American Civil War. 


Even though the past is long gone, it still holds meaning and significance for us today. We should not sweep events or people that are distasteful to us or others from the pages of our books. We have the ability – with critical thinking – to learn from those who lived before us.