Thursday, February 25, 2021

Finding the Perfect Indoor Game for your Homeschool

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo: Dice, Decks, and Boards; Finding the Perfect Indoor Game for your Homeschool; dice

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

There are so many great game choices for your homeschool that can be both fun and educational for your children and your entire family. Our family has quite a few that rank high among our favorites, including ones that require very little setup, ones that are cooperative, and ones that let us roll dice. With board games and tabletop games in general gaining in popularity over the years, you can find them sold at a variety of stores – both offline and online – like chain stores or your friendly local gaming store. I would always recommend you go to your local gaming store first when looking to purchase a new game. They might even be able to find the one you have been searching for through their buying power. 

Games for Toddlers 

It seems like there are a lot better games available for younger children now than when I was a child. I seem to recall games based upon Snow White, Care Bears, or E.T., but I cannot remember how they were played at all. The games we have purchased for our younger children or those they were gifted seem to be a huge step above those of my youth. 

We have many cooperative games (which our daughter loves because everyone wins or everyone loses), such as Mermaid Island, Noah's Animal Rescue, The Fairy Game, and others. These are wonderful for teaching children how to work together as a team and prevent tears when someone loses. Of course, our five-year-old daughter has been known to cry when she wins a cooperative game. 

Several card games that are educational and fun for toddlers include Raccoon Rumpus and Koala Capers. I love how these two games are random-based upon dice, so you don't really have to have a lot of skill to win or lose. I also like that they focus on colors and patterns – perfect learning opportunities for little ones.

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo; blue pieces from Catan Junior; Dragon breath dragon and gems; Finding the Perfect Indoor Game for your Homeschool

Educational Board Games 

As our children get older, there are a variety of educational board games that we can incorporate into our homeschool day, such as those from Byron's Games that we have received for free to review. Our children really like Continent Race, which focuses upon learning the continents, countries, and flags. Math Sprint is also great fun because it not only includes reviewing math facts but also allows the children to do physical activities, like jumping jacks and jogging in place.

Costa Rica, Peru, and other flag cards from Continent Race game

Games with Lots of Components 

I must admit that I love games with lots of stuff! Even though the extra items might also bring more difficulty to learn the game, I love opening the box and finding cards, dice, and other game pieces. Our son received a fun game for Christmas called Dragon's Breath. There are lots of little 'jewels' that your dragon wants to collect. For young children, they are so pretty! 

We picked up Dungeon Drop for our family game night because we enjoy role playing games with Dungeons, so why not create our own with this game? There are all these tiny little cubes that you drop to create the dungeon that represent pillars, monsters, and treasure. Because you drop them onto the table, each game is different from the next. It is a very neat concept that keeps the game fresh and new. 

Another game that my husband picked up is the Quarriors Dice Building Game. It has 130 custom dice and over 50 cards for gameplay. We have only tried playing it once because it is still a bit too advanced for our entire family to be able to enjoy it together, but I just love all the dice! 

Quarriors game box

Role-Playing Games 

My husband and my stepson have been gamers for longer than I have known either of them. My husband's journey with Dungeons and Dragons began when he was in elementary school. He has since gone on to play a variety of editions, versions, "retroclones" (which hearken back to the first three or four versions of Dungeons and Dragons games from the 1970s and early 1980s), and games of several genres. It took a few years for my husband to convince me to play, and now I have lots of pretty dice.

The wonderful thing about role-playing games is that you don't have to play ones that involve dragons or wizards. There are ones that are set in generic outer space or even the Star Wars or Star Trek universes. My husband bought me one set in the 1920s knowing I enjoy that era of history. There are versions geared towards children, too. 

Another benefit to playing role-playing games is the community of players. There are so many different groups out there – some of which may or may not be for you. You can play online through Zoom calls or other apps, watch others play online as they get together via long distance, or roll up a character gathered around the dining room table. And because the entire game requires your imagination and critical thinking skills, there really is no wrong way to play.  Yes, there are rules, but RPGs will help you think outside the box and make great stories with your friends. 

The Perfect Indoor Game 

Just what is the perfect indoor game for your homeschool? I think any game that brings you together with your family and friends – whether via technology or together in one room – is the perfect indoor game. That game may take 15 to 20 minutes, or it may take hours, days, or a lifetime if you are role-playing. There are so many great options available for families, and playing games can teach so many important skills.  

Friday, February 19, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of Make Their Day


Book Club: Review of Make Their Day; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo; roses

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.

Who doesn't want to make someone's day? Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with ideas to brighten the days of our family, friends, and strangers, so why not seek help from a best-selling author? In Make Their Day: 101 Simple, Powerful Ways to Love Others Well, Karen Ehman shares ideas across eight parts to help make someone's day a little better. From writing simple notes that you can include in your children's lunchboxes to become the church snack lady, there are 101 ways shared in this small paperback book to help you get started.

"We need to be lighting candles." 

Instead of letting the weariness of the news and social media get us down, we can be spreading the light – lighting candles – and sharing the goodness and glory of God in simple acts one by one. Karen Ehman shares her 101 ideas in eight parts: 

  • In Your Circle of Friends 
  • Within Your Own Family 
  • Throughout Your Day and around Town 
  • Across the Miles or Through the Screen 
  • For Those Who Hurt or Need Help 
  • Among the Household of Faith 
  • On Holidays, Holy Days, or Just Because 
  • By Opening Your Home 
The 142-page paperback book from Bethany House is designed in such a way that you can easily flip to which part you need at that moment and find one or more ideas you can enact to make someone's day in your immediate family, in your town, or in your church. There are some printables at the back that you can photocopy to help you get started making Scripture tags or sharing recipes of the authors with others. 

The ideas shared to Make Their Day are often accompanied by personal reminisces of the author in when she used the principle in her own life. For example, she shared how they made the day of their postal worker by having a day to honor him. Simple ideas to notice the necessary people at non-traditional times will help us show and share our appreciation of their hard work. 

Book Club Book Review of Make Their Day; cover of Make Their Day

Thoughtful Habits Abound 

I truly think as one reads through the book, they will find numerous ways that they can develop daily habits of being thoughtful and showing gratitude to those in one's life. On the back of the book, it also says that it will help you "reconnect with friends and family," "make the encouragement of others a priority," and "sprinkle kindness in a culture of cruel." What wonderful things to develop and foster! 

As I was reading Make Their Day, I found myself jotting down many page numbers for ideas of things that our family could do to encourage others, even in these uncertain times when families and churches are not able to get together in the same way they were previously. I particularly liked the idea of "time-travel to shop for a nostalgic pick-me-up." I know many people who would appreciate a trinket or reminder of something from their childhood – including me! I also loved the idea of creating handmade gifts for individuals and praying over that individual while creating the gift. What a wonderful way to brighten their day and lift their spirit to the Lord!

I would recommend Make Their Day to those who are seeking to find ways to give back to those around them and spiritually lift them up. Lighting a candle in the darkness does not have to be expensive or difficult. Among the 101 ways shared, there are many simple tasks that someone can do to make someone else's day.

cover of Make Their Day

Monday, February 15, 2021

Book Club: Review of Shadows of the White City

Book Club: Review of Shadows of the White City; travel clipart

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.

When I saw the first book in The Windy City Saga, Veiled in Smoke, released, I put it on my to-read list and then lost track of reading it. When the opportunity became available to read and review the second book in the series, Shadows of the White City, I jumped at it because I love historical fiction. This book begins with a prologue set in 1880 but then transports readers to the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893. This is approximately 20 years after the Great Chicago Fire, which features in the first book and still holds sway over the Midwest city.

book cover of Shadows of the White City; travel clipart

What Is Shadows of the White City About? 

The focus of Jocelyn Green's newest book is the story of Sylvie Townsend and her adopted daughter, Rose. Through the story of Sylvie, we grow to learn more about her family that was first introduced in Veiled in Smoke, and we meet others who are involved in the Fair, such as the Bartok brothers. In the prologue, Sylvie promises to care for Rose Dabrowski when Rose's father falls upon hard times. We learn that in the time between the prologue and the start of Chapter One that Rose's father dies (joining her mother in death) leaving Sylvie to be both her mother and father. With the Fair in town, Rose sees the opportunity to continue to learn more about her Polish ancestors and possibly her family in Poland as well. 

"The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared would never have–a family of her own." 

In addition to running a bookstore, Sylvie works as a tour guide at the Fair. Both she and Rose are often on the grounds of the Fair as Rose takes violin lessons from Kristof Bartok, who plays violin in the Exposition Orchestra. Kristof becomes invaluable to Sylvie after Rose disappears as he speaks several languages, including Polish. Kristof is further connected to Sylvie as he and his brother, Gregor, are tenants of Sylvie's. 

The majority of the story revolves around the disappearance of Rose. Did she run away because she no longer accepted Sylvie as a replacement mother (or Mimi, as she calls her)? Was she kidnapped at the Fair and sold into slavery? Just where did she go? Little by little, pieces begin to come together as Rose's personal belongings and clothing are removed from the shared apartment. A note is hand-delivered to Sylvie from Rose, asking her not to seek her out. Even the cat that lived with Sylvie and Rose is taken – but then later mysteriously he returns. There are so many odd pieces to the puzzle that just don't fit.

Book Club: Review of Shadows of the White City; A Mom's Quest to Teach; book cover of Shadows of the White City

What Did I Think? 

I must admit to taking a while to get into Shadows of the White City. I cannot pinpoint why I struggled with the opening chapters, but eventually, things progressed to where I did not want to put the book down. I am very glad that I gave the book the chance to grow on me as I really enjoyed how Green pieced everything together to bring closure to Rose's disappearance and the problems between Kristof and his brother, Gregor. 

During the reading of Shadows of the White City, I also found some advice that I needed to hear. For example, Kristof tells Sylvie: "The people closest to us shouldn't want to [hurt us]. They should be the first ones to lift us up, cheer us on, forgive our faults, and believe we can do better" (203). What a true statement and a wonderful reminder that our family and friends should support us and lift us up – not put us down. In another chapter, Kristof shares "Where we are weak, God is strong. He can take our smallest offerings and make of them a feast" (237).

I would recommend Shadows of the White City for those who enjoy Christian romance, mysteries, or historical fiction. I look forward to reading the first in the series – and reading the next one – to see if Jocelyn Green continues to share the story of these characters in the Windy City.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Journaling through the Bible: Gentleness

Journaling through the Bible: Gentleness; logo of A Mom's Quest to Teach; gold background

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

In reviewing How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk, I reflected upon many aspects of my own parenting and our relationship with our children and God. There were many Bible quotes shared for me to reflect upon, notably those in a chapter entitled "Contain in Conflict." I have found that—especially after moments of having been too angry—looking at the advice offered in the book and journaling several referenced Bible quotes has helped me reevaluate my parenting methods.

I love the recommendation of author Becky Harling to give our children the ability to handle their anger appropriately. To do this, it is necessary to handle my own anger in the same way. I have found the more I read the Bible, the calmer I am when problems occur. I have grown so much since marrying my husband, coming to the Lord, and becoming first a stepmom and then a mom.

Journaling through the Bible, Gentleness, A Mom's Quest to Teach; background of gold

"Put a pause in before you react, and you'll have far fewer regrets at the end of the day" (128). - Becky Harling 

There are so many wise words in the Bible that can help us as parents. Reflecting upon Scripture can be so very helpful. I leave you with several quotes to help you on your quest to be a more gentle parent. 

"Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil." Ephesians 4:26-27

"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32. 

Pens, Bible opening to Colossians, Proverbs bible journaling page

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Book Club: Book Review of How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk

Book Club: Book Review of How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk; Family clip art; 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.

Parenting can be difficult at times, so having access to good resources is important. Many parents struggle with talking with their children and having their children talk to them. In Becky Harling's newest book, How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk, parents will find many tips on how to improve communicating with their children. While reading Harling's book, I have found many points to underline and discuss with my husband. 

book cover of How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk

What is the book about? 

In this 160-page paperback book, parents will read ten chapters that will help them "deepen your connection and strengthen their confidence" so that kids will talk to them. Each chapter is broken down into segments that make it very easy to navigate and read exactly what you want on any given day. Each chapter is set up in a similar manner, with useful information to become good listeners and then wisdom tools for parents. The wisdom tools contains three parts: 

  • Wisdom from God
  • Wisdom for self-care
  • Wisdom for the ages where Harling provides advice for parents of preschoolers, grade-schoolers, tweens, and teens 
The chapters also contain a sample prayer that you can pray so that you can work on becoming a better listener. In some cases, the prayers have blank spots so you can insert the name of your child or children. 

Many of the topics, such as "Help Them Find their Feelings", offer personal stories of the author, questions to ask, and Scripture verses to find where God experiences the full range of emotions so we can expect our children to do so, too. Harling also states: "Remind yourself that even when life is complicated, you are the parent and God will equip you to handle whatever situation He allows in your life" (63). I can think of many instances where we, as parents, can apply this reminder. 

Book Club: Book Review of How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk; A Mom's Quest to Teach; cover of How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk

What do I think about How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk

I have found Harling's book to be very useful. There were many occasions where I made notations or underlined sentences so that I could reflect upon the author's points and thoughts. Not only did How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk provide tips for parenting my own children, but I also reflected upon my own childhood while reading through such chapters as "Listen to Empower Good Decision-Making Skills." 

I liked the fact that Harling is advising us to raise children who will be strong and confident. We want our children to "know who they are and what they believe" (97). This can apply to their clothing choices (as long as the clothing is appropriate), as well as their faith. We want our children to make wise choices, and thus we have to offer them many choices and allow them to doubt. We can provide them with the opportunities to question and learn more and thus listen to them talk. 

"One of the greatest gifts you will ever give your child is praying for him and teaching him how to pray" (139). 

One of my favorite takeaways from How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk is that God is the Father who will cross the distance to reach us and our children. As I read through the early books of the Bible in my Bible Study, it is evident that everything Harling states about God is true. "He hears the faintest whisper of your child's heart. He sees the tears he cries in the night" (139). 

I would recommend How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk to parents who are interested in strengthening their relationships with their children. Good communication is key in good parenting, and this book provides many thoughtful questions and good tips on how to open the lines of communication with our children. It doesn't matter if your children are in preschool, grade school, or high school; you will find practical advice to help you as a parent.

"The wise parent brings calm into conflict zones." How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk by Becky Harling A Mom's Quest to Teach