Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Printables for your Homeschool Classroom

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Printables for your Homeschool Classroom - Super Teacher Worksheets logo; pencil background


Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Resources that help us review, refresh, and expand upon our homeschooling subjects are wonderful additions to our homeschool classroom. We have been blessed with a one-year membership to Super Teacher Worksheets, which has a variety of printables for elementary students. Since it is the summertime, we are mostly using the printables to help review and expand right now, but I have plans to use several of their grade-level-specific resources during the entire year.


What are Super Teacher Worksheets? 


Super Teacher Worksheets is an online site that provides its members with over 20,000 printable PDF resources for children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. You can download as many worksheets as you need during your one-year membership. These 20,000+ printables are distributed among the following subject areas: 

  • Mathematics 
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Phonics
  • Spelling 
  • Social Studies 
  • Science 
  • Holidays/Seasonal Activities 

And if you can't find the worksheet you are looking for...check back or create your own! 

Super Teacher Worksheets adds new resources on a regular basis, so don't forget to check back often during your membership. While many of their worksheets are Common Core-aligned, I haven't found that to make much of a difference other than the information is available for those who want it. 

If you want to make your own worksheets based on your curriculum, you can use their worksheet generator. I decided to create a crossword puzzle for our Roman history lesson to help our son remember the facts to know and the vocabulary from his first lesson. 

And many of their printables are also available with Spanish translations. 


creating a crossword using Roman history themed words and definitions


Using Printables from Super Teacher Worksheets 


One of the first things I did when my membership to Super Teacher Worksheets was renewed was to check out the seasonal printables. I love finding mathematic sheets that will help reinforce our current studies that are themed. And Super Teacher Worksheets sometimes has coloring pages or crafts that we can do with our children. 

After I perused the Holiday printables, I began looking for worksheets that would help our children in areas where they were currently struggling. One of the topics in mathematics that our son needs help with is angles, so I found the various printables relating to identifying and measuring angles and printed those out for us to work on together. 

A Mom's Quest to Teach; two photographs of math worksheets (measuring angles and completing a multiplication color sheet)


I decided to focus on grammar and spelling with our first grader in addition to the coloring sheets I printed for her. I found the Fix the Sentences collection for grades 1 through 4, where children correct the mistakes on the printable PDF worksheets. While we are using them daily, you could also use them all together rather than over the course of the week. I really like that there are different levels, so we can progress through them if our daughter is successful at the first grade level. 


Two photographs of completing Fix It Sentences worksheet with pencil holder clipart



A Mom's Quest to Teach: Printables for your Homeschool Classroom - Super Teacher Worksheets logo; two worksheets



Our Thoughts on the Printables from Super Teacher Worksheets 


One of the great features of Super Teacher Worksheets is that you have access to all the levels of worksheets at one time. You do not need to sign up for a specific grade level. So if your third-grade child is a wiz at mathematics but needs more help spelling, you could pick fourth grade math worksheets but second grade spelling worksheets. 

The worksheet generator was quite easy to use. I only needed to put in the names and facts to create our crossword puzzle. I also discovered they have a generator for classroom newsletters. This would be a neat thing to use with your homeschooled children, so they can create a newsletter for family and friends. I also like that I create as many math worksheets as I need so our children can practice addition, subtraction, and multiplication. You can make division worksheets, too. We just haven't reached that point yet in our curriculum.


Custom Classroom newsletter generator


Another neat feature that I didn't really use was the filing cabinet. You can create folders to save your favorite worksheets, and the worksheets you generate and save will be housed in your filing cabinet. I think this is a great feature if you travel and need your favorite worksheets accessible on different computers. 


Super Teacher Worksheets filing cabinet


While we have only been using Super Teacher Worksheets to supplement our current studies, there are some subjects where you could easily put together a semester or full-year curriculum from the printables on their site. I feel the most intuitive ones to use for a full-year curriculum would be spelling, reading comprehension, and perhaps science if you worked your way through the available printables.

I would recommend Super Teacher Worksheets to homeschooling families who are looking to supplement their curriculum. The printables make it very easy to help your children succeed in areas where they may be struggling. Review, refresh, and reinforce important skills with Super Teacher Worksheets.  

Please be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to see how the other members of the Crew have used Super Teacher Worksheets in their homeschool classroom. 


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Monday, August 15, 2022

Book Club: Book Review of Carved in Ebony

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Carved in Ebony; photograph of church pews in the 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.

I am always looking to expand our daughter's library collection of books featuring Christian women. Having the opportunity to read and review the young reader's edition of Carved in Ebony: Lessons from the Black Women Who Shape Us by Jasmine L. Holmes was a true blessing! The short, paperback nonfiction book features the stories of ten Black women whose lives spanned the 1700s to the 1900s. 

About Carved in Ebony 

The 117-page paperback book is divided into an introduction, note for adults, 10 chapters on the women, notes, and pages for reflection. Each of the chapters on the Black women includes discussion questions and opportunities for further research. There is an emphasis in the early part of the book on distinguishing between primary and secondary resources (this history teacher loved this!).

The Black women featured in Carved in Ebony are: 

  • Elizabeth Freeman
  • Maria Stewart 
  • Sarah Mapps Douglass
  • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
  • Charlotte Forten Grimk√©
  • Sara Griffith Stanley 
  • Amanda Berry Smith 
  • Maria Fearing
  • Lucy Craft Laney
  • Nannie Helen Burroughs 
For a quick glimpse into the book, let's look at Sara Griffith Stanley. She was born in 1837 in the South. She grew up in New Bern, North Carolina, but she and her family would eventually move to Oberlin. She wrote and gave speeches on the evils of slavery, referencing the Bible and other contemporary works. The chapter also discusses her work as a teacher and how she was a servant of Jesus. Before the discussion questions, the chapter closes, "There are always faithful people doing the work of the Lord in obscurity. And it is better to be a servant of the Most High God in the hidden places than visibly doing anything else. Let Sara teach you this." (71). I love this message to young readers.


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Carved in Ebony; cover of Carved in Ebony book


My Thoughts 

As an adult, this is a very easy read. I was able to read several chapters at one time and completed the book in about a week. The text is clearly written but does not leave out 'big words.' Those words that might be difficult for young readers are bolded so they can go back to them and perhaps define them. 

I really love the fact that the author, Jasmine L. Holmes, brings all the women's hard work back to God. Even where they faced difficulties, they persevered because of their faithfulness. "They each have something to teach us about what it means to live fullheartedly as someone created in God's image. And whether that image is carved in ebony, alabaster, or some shade in between, his purpose is steadfast." (111) 

So many of the women featured taught in schools at one time or another. While I understand their reasons for being teachers, and I agree that they were needed in the field of education, as a homeschooling mother, I do wish that Holmes had included something that emphasized the learning that some of them received before they were able to go to public or private schools. Quite a few of the women were taught by their families how to read, many were taught the Bible, and I wish that home education had found a stronger foothold in Holmes' work. 

I think this book would be an excellent addition to your homeschool. I can easily see my daughter and me on the sofa, reading Carved in Ebony aloud and discussing the vocabulary and the questions. Even if you don't homeschool, I think this book would make a nice addition to your home so your children can learn more about Christian Black women and how they shaped America and the world around them. They are wonderful role models to share with your children. 

Interested in reading more book reviews? Please check out my reviews of 3-Minute Devotions to Laugh and ReflectWhen the Day Comes, or The Deadly Shallows

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Blogging Through the Alphabet: K is for Kentucky

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Blogging Through the Alphabet: K is for Kentucky - black and white photo of civil war cannons

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

"Kentucky! O Kentucky!" 

"John Morgan's foot is on thy shore, 
Kentucky! O Kentucky!
His hand is on thy stable door, 
Kentucky! O Kentucky! 
You'll see your good gray mare no more, 
He'll ride her till her back is sore,
And leave her at some stranger's door,
Kentucky! O Kentucky!" 

In the spring of 1862, General John Hunt Morgan led Confederate night raiders on a series of raids into Union territory in Tennessee and Kentucky. This would provide the material for a parody of the song "Maryland, My Maryland" in order to provide a warning to the citizens of Kentucky that they better not help Morgan. 

Tensions 

The tension in and around Kentucky had been brewing since before the beginning of the American Civil War. It was one of several border states where there wasn't a clear distinction of which way it would go when the Civil War broke out. There was a large secessionist population in Kentucky. If Kentucky joined the Confederacy, it would be a huge boon. Kentucky would bring with it a huge population boost and more military manpower. There were horses and mules for the cavalry and transportation, as well as manufacturing centers in Kentucky. It would also bring with it a natural defensive border with the Ohio River. And two rivers flow through Kentucky directly into Tennessee and Alabama. 

After the lines had been drawn, it was said that supporters in Kentucky were evenly distributed between the North and the South. After all, Kentucky was the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. But with three slave states and three free states on the border, Kentucky did not want to take sides. In fact, Henry Clay of Kentucky had written three compromises to try and prevent the necessity of taking sides in 1820, 1833, and 1850. And Governor Magoffin of Kentucky rejected both Lincoln and Davis' requests for troops. 

Of course, just because Kentucky wished to remain neutral did not mean that the American Civil War would pass them by. There were military activities along the border as there were northern regiments stationed in Illinois and southern regiments in Tennessee. Both sides eyed Columbus, Kentucky as it was a key city to the control of the Mississippi River. 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Blogging Through the Alphabet: K is for Kentucky - US Map showing Kentucky


Columbus 

On September 3, 1861, Confederate General Leonidas Polk moved to take Columbus, Kentucky while the Union General Grant occupied Paducah and Smithlands at the mouths of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers. As the Confederates invaded Kentucky first, they were seen by many of the citizens of Kentucky as the aggressors which led them to support the Union. But not all would support the Union as many of the citizens voted to set up a provisional government which was accepted as the 13th Confederate state. 

Raids 

John Hunt Morgan (June 1, 1825-September 4, 1864) was known as the "Thunderbolt of the Confederacy." He was born in Huntsville, Alabama but had strong ties to his mother's home state of Kentucky. Morgan would enlist in the 1st Kentucky Calvary at the start of the Mexican War. 

In the American Civil War, Morgan would be made a colonel in April 1862, participate in the battle of Shiloh, and start his raids into eastern Kentucky in the summer of 1862. On July 4, 1862, he would start a 1,000-mile raid to destroy railroads and telegraph lines and seize supplies. His raid would make national headlines and birth the song "Kentucky! O Kentucky!" He would lead more raids in October and December into Kentucky and would eventually become one of the South's most celebrated Calvary officers.

Even if a state or people wanted to remain neutral and not take sides in the American Civil War, it was near impossible. The Civil War touched upon every aspect of life during the 1860s, just as the problems leading up to the Civil War had for the decades preceding the first shots at Fort Sumter.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Online Math Curriculum for Your Homeschool

 A Mom's Quest to Teach: Online Math Curriculum for Your Homeschool - A Review of CTCMath 12 month family membership; math background

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Math was a struggle for our oldest son for many years so I was happy when we were able to review CTCMath several years ago. Since that first review, CTCMath has been a staple of our homeschool schedule. Having a 12-month family membership to CTCMath has meant that I do not need to worry about how I will be teaching math to our younger two children. The video lessons, summaries, and weekly revisions are so helpful in an online math curriculum.

About CTCMath 


CTCMath is an online math curriculum for grades K-12. It has several key features which help parents and children master key mathematics concepts from addition and subtraction to geometry and calculus. Lessons are short and to the point and students can view the video lessons again if they need help on a specific point. You can even email CTCMath if your children need additional help. The customer support is fantastic. They really want your children to succeed in math.

As a homeschool family, we have access to every grade level for the children in our home. So while our children are working through first and third grade, I could move them up or down depending upon if they found the work too difficult or too easy. There are diagnostic tests and placement tests your children can take to see where they fit you don't want to assign them to a grade level. You can also use the diagnostic tests to skip lessons if your children are proficient in those skills. For example, for some of his third grade work, I asked our son to take the diagnostic test at the beginning of the section to see if he needed to complete the lessons within that section.


A Mom's Quest to Teach logo: Online Math Curriculum for Your Homeschool - A Review of CTCMath 12 month family membership; photo of tally mark lesson with math background


 
How We Are Using the Program in Our Homeschool 


CTCMath is the primary curriculum for our third grader. He is assigned to complete a lesson about three to four times a week. I merely write in his agenda that he is to complete CTCMath, and he will log on and complete the next lesson. With the addition of Mastery, he has been completing additional questions to achieve Mastery on the specific lessons.

For our younger daughter, we aren't using CTCMath as frequently during the week. I will often ask her to complete a lesson when I believe she needs extra work on a math skill or she needs to learn about a different mathematical topic than is in her current math curriculum. It provides a nice break for her to be online completing her mathematics lessons. She has also taken to completing additional questions to achieve Mastery.

There are many features to CTCMath that help your children engage in this online math curriculum. One of the features we are not using in our homeschool is that of assigning tasks. I used that feature when homeschooling our oldest so he would know specifically which lessons I wanted him to complete and when, but for our younger two children, I merely have them do the next lesson on CTCMath. Since they are completing their work at the dining room table rather than in their bedrooms, it is easier to monitor their math assignments on CTCMath.

Another feature that I am not currently using is the Question Bank Wizard. I did use that for our high schooler when he was using CTCMath, but I have not used it for our younger children. This allows you to pick lessons from different course levels and topics to create your own question banks to assign to your children.

These features are available in the parent login. The parent login also allows you to view your children's profiles and examine their specific grades on different lessons, try lessons and questions yourself, assign tasks, create question banks, browse lessons, download checklists, and export the data for your children's grades. I can also see when my children have logged in, what they completed, and how long it took them to complete those CTCMath lessons. I can also download awards to print out and see weekly reports (which I can have emailed to me).


A Mom's Quest to Teach; Math lesson logon list with awards



Our Thoughts 


Your children will be able to learn about math at their own pace and watch video tutorials as many times as they need to ensure mastery of a topic. CTCMath also allows for your children to be independent while working on their math. While I do sit by our children on a regular basis, I can also just ask them to log in and complete their work without my needing to be there for them.

Our younger son really enjoys CTCMath. He shared with me the following: 
"My favorite part about CTCMath is its fun math with videos and games. It's not just some test. It's fun! I think the ages are through 4 and a million. I mean it's like kindergarten through 12th grade. The newest thing is Mastery, where if you get three questions right you get a star. If you get one wrong though, you lose a part of the bar. (You don't lose stars though. Whew!). There's four stars so you'll need to do the same one [lesson] again to get a final grade. And for people who already have CTCMath before this update, you won't lose grades."

I think – of all the online math programs he has tried – CTCMath is our younger son's favorite program. He enjoys the videos and the multiplication game. I think he also likes the fact that he has control over his work. He can move at his own pace and see exactly how well he understands something as the program grades each question immediately.

While our son completed a lesson on tally marks, our daughter has been working on geometry. One of her recent lessons was on the cube. She enjoyed watching the video and bringing out her dice to physically examine a cube. So even though the program is online, you can easily include manipulatives or (for the older grades) print out worksheets so that your children complete math assignments offline. 

CTCMath Logo; A Mom's Quest to Teach: tally math lesson and cube lesson


I would recommend CTCMath for homeschool families. I find that one of the greatest features is your ability to move around within the different grades to pick the lessons that are right for your child. You are not beholden to one grade level since you get access to kindergarten through twelfth grade. And with the parent login, you can try out the different lessons and questions without it counting towards your children's grades. I like that I can refresh my memory on topics if I need to or just look through them to see what is coming up for our children.


If you are interested in seeing how other homeschool families use CTCMath in their homeschool, please visit the Homeschool Review Crew. And be sure to check out the homeschool discount offered CTCMath! 

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Monday, August 8, 2022

Book Club: Book Review of Lies Girls Believe

A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Lies Girls Believe; background photograph of beige sofa

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Do you believe lies? Every day we are being lied to, and so are our daughters. The world around us spews lies left and right to everyone. How can we combat these lies? How can we help our daughters find the Truth? In Lies Girls Believe and the companion book for Mom, A Mom's Guide to Lies Girls Believe, Dannah Gresh helps moms and daughters with lies and find Truth. These two books make for the perfect mother-daughter Bible study.

Both books are from True Girl, which hopes to bring moms and daughters closer to each other and to Jesus. Moms can raise daughters who are confident in their faith and in themselves. True Girl offers a variety of resources, including these books to help moms and daughters. There are live and online events, Bible studies, helpful blogs, and fiction and non-fiction books.


About the Books 

For Your Daughter - Lies Girls Believe 

The 170-page paperback book is designed and written for your nine to twelve-year-old daughter. If they are thinking or talking about boys, frenemies, report cards, fashion, and other things that are "normal" in today's world, then this book will help them. There are twenty lies and twenty Truths to help our daughters navigate the world. 

The majority of the chapters begin with an introduction from the fictional character of Zoey (although her problems are based upon those revealed in a survey given to 1,531 girls). Readers are then introduced to several Truths and the lies associated with them. This is accompanied by Scripture verses, personal anecdotes, information from the surveys, and finally, a Truth Lab. In the Truth Lab, our daughters will provide advice for Zoey and work out just which lies they have been believing. There is room for our daughters to write in the book and make it their own.

Part Three focuses on how the Truth will set our daughters free. They will learn how to identify lies and dig them up, roots and all. After the lies are removed, Gresh shares how to find the Truth in the Bible and provides specific places in the Bible to look. 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Lies Girls Believe; books - A Mom's Guide to Lies Girls Believe and Lies Girls Believe


For the Mom - A Mom's Guide to Lies Girls Believe 

The guide follows the same basic setup as the book your daughter will be reading, with introductory sections and side notes for the mom. The guide also provides more details on the survey given to the girls and the moms who participated in focus groups that helped guide the books. There are personal stories and anecdotes shared in the margins and places for you to write your own note and ideas. Most chapters end with a spot for you to write out a prayer based on a particular Bible verse and a suggestion to talk with your girl.

How Did I Use the Books? 

Our daughter just turned seven this spring, so I didn't want to hand her Lies Girls Believe just yet. So, I read through the book for girls first and then the guide. I have found quite a few Truths I can share with her immediately. When our daughter gets a little older, I will share the book with her. 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of Lies Girls Believe; photograph of mother reading Guide and True Girl logo


What Did I Think? 

I found myself digging into both books deeply. I had my Bible next to me so I could read the Scripture quotes in context and take notes. While I am happy to think that our daughter doesn't believe a lot of the lies, I could remember times I believed the lies myself. Both books were very eye-opening.

I think these are valuable books for a Christian mother and daughter. there are even a few lies that I can discuss with our sons. The Truth nuggets are wonderful to share with everyone. I also appreciate the author's perspective on marriage, gender, and a woman's roles. These are all important to discuss with our daughter and having a starting point is great for moms today. 

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read more reviews of Lies Girls Believe and A Mom's Guide to Lies Girls Believe.

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Friday, August 5, 2022

Blogging Through the Alphabet: J is for Johnston (Part II)

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Blogging Through the Alphabet: J is for Johnston (Part II); background photo of civil war cannons

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

Considered one of the finest commanding officers leading on either side of the American Civil War, Albert Sidney Johnston is still not as well known as Ulysses Grant or Robert E. Lee. He fought in numerous wars before the American Civil War, including the Black Hawk War, the Texas Revolution, and the Mexican-American War. 


Albert Sidney Johnston (February 2, 1803 – April 6, 1862) graduated eighth in his class of forty-one from West Point in 1826. Twelve other men who graduated in 1826 would go on to serve in the American Civil War for both the Union and the Confederacy. After graduation, he was appointed to posts in New York and Missouri and then served in the Black Hawk War. This was a short-lived conflict in 1832 between the United States and the Sauk, Meskwaki, and Kickapoo Native Americans. He resigned in 1834 to take care of his first wife, Henrietta Preston, who was dying from tuberculosis. 

Texas Revolution 

In 1836, Johnston moved to Texas and soon became involved in the Texas Revolution. He quickly rose to the rank of senior brigadier general, replacing General Felix Huston. This promotion angered Huston and a duel occurred between them on February 5, 1837, at the Dueling Oak in Jackson County. Johnston was wounded in the hip as a result of the duel but served as the general. After the Texas Revolution, Johnston was appointed Secretary of War for Texas (while it remained independent) but resigned in 1840. 

Mexican-American War 

Johnston would join the US Army again to serve in the Mexican-American War where he was cited for bravery at the Battle of Monterrey. He would continue to serve after this war in Utah and then as the commander of the Department of the Pacific in California. When Texas seceded from the Union, he resigned from the position but stayed on duty until his successor arrived. Then he was free to make his way back to Texas.


A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Blogging Through the Alphabet: J is for Johnston (Part II); photograph of Johnston with signature


American Civil War 

As the top commander of the Western Theater for the Confederacy, Johnston needed to secure the defenses for the area beyond the Appalachians. His goal was to secure a line of defense from Kentucky's Cumberland Gap to the town of Columbus. It was successful for a while, but eventually, the Union progressed and began seizing more and more territory. Johnston had to move his men because it became impossible to hold the original defensive line. He moved his men to Corinth and then set his sights on stopping the Union supply train.

Shiloh 

In early April 1862, Johnston marched 44,000 recruits into Tennessee. He wanted to mount a surprise attack on Ulysses Grant at Shiloh (there was a meetinghouse where the Union was camping). Unfortunately, Johnston's force was not quite a disciplined army yet. They were a group of rowdy men who cheered or yelled at each passing officer much like it was a parade and not a march. The rain caused problems and slowed the men down. And the men also would fire their muskets to test if the powder was dry or if they saw a deer. There was a lot of noise coming from these green troops. Confusion seemed to reign supreme as they took wrong directions and became delayed getting into position. Johnston's officers told him a surprise attack would be out and cautioned against it. The Rebels had caused such a racket. But somehow, they led a surprise attack on April 5, 1862, on Sherman and his Union men. At dawn, the Union army was completely surprised. 

Both Southern and Northern troops were seeing the elephant for the first time (experiencing combat for the first time), which led to difficulties. Because of the difficulties, Johnston went to the front to rally the troops. He had even addressed his men prior to the assault, saying he would lead them to victory. During the afternoon, Johnston was struck in the back of his knee and the bullet hit an artery. Due to the dueling wound in 1837 that had caused nerve damage, Johnston probably didn't realize the depth of his injury. He quickly bled to death on the battlefield.

The battle of Shiloh would be won by the Union, and Johnston's death remain the highest ranking general killed during the entire American Civil War. As Albert Sidney Johnston was considered the best general in America during the Civil War, I can only imagine how things might have turned out differently if he had not died in 1862.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Book Club: Book Review of The Deadly Shallows

 A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of The Deadly Shallows ; background ocean photograph

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.


When selecting books to review, I tend to stay away from series books unless it is book one. I also like to stick to historical fiction as that is something I am interested in due to my love of history. I pushed aside these two limitations when I read the description of The Deadly Shallows by Dani Pettrey because it sounded really good. I am very glad I took a chance on Book Three of the Coastal Guardians series because I enjoyed the characters and plotline immensely. 

About The Deadly Shallows 

"CGIS Agent Noah Rowley is rocked to the core when he learns of a mass shooting raging on his Coast Guard base. He and his team stop the attack, but not before numerous innocent lives are lost. Furious and grief-stricken, he determines to do whatever is needed to bring the mastermind behind the attack to justice." 

- Book Cover


Wrapped up in the mass shooting on the Coast Guard base is Coast Guard flight medic Brooke Kesler, who is attending the graduation of a friend. She travels with the only surviving member of the attack to the hospital. This man imparts one word to Brooke which puts her in immediate danger when those behind the attack find out the surviving gunman spoke to Brooke.

Brooke and Noah work together to discover answers regarding the shooting and an old crime while falling for each other. The other members of Noah's team play an integral role in the plot of the story, the investigation into this mass shooting, and another local, environmental crime. 


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Book Club: Book Review of The Deadly Shallows ; cover of The Deadly Shallows book


My Thoughts

The Deadly Shallows is a fast-paced book that does not require the reader to have any former knowledge of the characters, the location, or the series. While I found myself wanting to know more about the characters – and curious as to whether or not they were present and had a greater role in the previous books – I wasn't left with too many questions. The characters were fully developed to fit into the plotline of The Deadly Shallows and Dani Pettrey left enough questions that made me want to seek the other two books.

I felt that the description of the scenes and locations was wonderful. I could definitely see the locations in my mind as Pettrey described them. Every event came to life off the pages of this 390-page paperback book. For example, the darkness under the ocean: "She followed the flashlight's circle as it landed on dead fish...all dotting the sandy bottom of the sound's floor" (150). Or this description from shortly after the mass shooting: "Gabby hadn't even put the car in park when Noah jumped out and rushed as fast as his stupid leg would carry him" (96).

The trust in God by the characters is also a winning factor of The Deadly Shallows. I appreciated that they prayed about those involved in the mass shooting and their colleagues throughout the book. It is nice to see Christians living their lives openly as they go about their work.

My only complaint has to do with the texture of the book cover. While I really wanted to read The Deadly Shallows, I did not necessarily want to pick it up and read it. The book cover has an odd feel to it and set my nerves on edge much like when someone runs their nails on a chalkboard. 

I would recommend The Deadly Shallows to those who enjoy fast-paced, Christian Romantic Suspense novels.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Blogging Through the Alphabet: H is for Howe

A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Blogging Through the Alphabet: H is for Howe with background photograph of civil war cannons

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

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


One of the most memorable songs to come from the American Civil War time period, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, still inspires us today as it is sung in churches and schools. What started off as a favorite marching song of the Union Army would transform into a staple amongst patriotic music when Julia Ward Howe changed the lyrics.


Julia Ward Howe (b. May 27, 1819 – d. October 17, 1910) was a descendant of Roger Williams (founder of the Rhode Island colony). Her mother died when she was only five years old, and the care of Julia and her siblings was left to her father, Samuel Ward, a successful banker. When Julia's father died when she was 20 years old, she and two of her sisters moved to her brother Sam's house. Between her aunt, her own thirst for knowledge, and her brother's household, she would become very well-educated and meet many famous men and women of the world, including Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


In 1843, while touring the New England Institute for the Blind, she met Dr. Samuel Howe (who was twenty years her senior). He was a physician of international repute for his work with the blind and the deaf. And Dr. Howe was one of the secret six who helped finance John Brown's insurrection at Harper's Ferry. They had a very tumultuous marriage. She enjoyed writing and socializing while he preferred quiet and solitude.



A Mom's Quest to Teach:  Blogging Through the Alphabet: H is for Howe; line drawing of Julia Ward Howe from wpcliart.com



New Lyrics 


While in Washington D.C., Julia was touring Union Army Camps with her husband and Reverend James Freeman Clarke and heard the men singing John's Brown's Body. This was a perfect song for the marching feet of the soldiers. The melody was from an old Methodist camp meeting song, but the words were added during the American Civil War. Oddly enough, the song's origins were not about the abolitionist John Brown, but about a sergeant in the 2nd Battalion of the Boston Light Infantry of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. However, it would gain popularity amongst all the Union camps and be connected to the John Brown and not the sergeant with the same name.


When hearing the song, Reverend Clarke suggested Julia write new lyrics to the tune to replace those of John Brown's Body. After the tours of the Union Army camps, she retired and went to bed as usual. She woke before dawn the next day with the words forming. By sunrise, she had finished six stanzas. The first draft is dated November 1861 and over the course of several weeks, she edited her lyrics. 


In February of 1862, Julia Ward Howe's work was published in The Atlantic Monthly. She was paid five dollars and The Battle Hymn of the Republic appeared on the first page. Her song would become an uplifting patriotic anthem during the American Civil War and continue with that fame to today. 


After the American Civil War, Julia Ward Howe would establish and lead several different women's organizations, champion for votes for women, and become a peace advocate. In 1908, Julia was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She would also be given an honorary degree from Smith College. 


From working with the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the American Civil War to her many writings, Julia Ward Howe has many accomplishments, but perhaps she is best known today as the author of The Battle Hymn of the Republic or even as being instrumental in the celebration of the first Mother's Day (even if it has changed dramatically from her proclamation for a day of peace). I think it will be interesting to see how history changes regarding Howe as – during my research of this article – I found contradictory information and reflections of today's standards being imposed upon her biography. 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Blogging Through the Alphabet: G is for Gunsmiths and the American Civil War

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo: Blogging Through the Alphabet: G is for Gunsmiths and the American Civil War; background photo of cannons

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It goes without saying that gunsmiths played an important role during the American Civil War. From names we know, like Samuel Colt and Eliphalet Remington to Christian Sharps, Christopher Spencer, and Benjamin Henry, there were several influential men in the gunsmith industry who helped modernize weapons and impacted the way the American Civil War was fought.


Revolver 


Samuel Colt (Jul 19, 1814- January 10, 1862) perfected the first pistol of its kind while in his 20s. Colt received his first patent in 1835 and started the Patent Arms Company in Patterson, New Jersey. He would later set up a factory in Hartford, Connecticut, where he introduced interchangeable parts and assembly lines to help with production. After additional improvements were made to the design, his sales increased during the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War. Improvements would continue to be made, and the Colt revolver would be a popular choice during the Civil War. In fact, the Union Army purchased 130,000 Colt Revolvers and individual soldiers purchased 70,000.


Rifles 


Christian Sharps (January 2, 1810-March 12, 1874) designed the Sharps .54-caliber rifle, which was a single-shot breech loader. He was issued a patent on September 12, 1848, for what would eventually become the first commercially successful breech-loading rifle. It could fire 8 to 10 rounds per minute. The Sharps carbine, shorter and lighter than the standard rifles, would be a favorite among the cavalry of the Union Army.

Another man from Connecticut, Christopher Spencer (June 20, 1833 – January 14, 1922), would also impact the American Civil War with his gunsmithing.  Spencer, who had 42 patents during his lifetime, would design a gun with a self-priming metallic cartridge in 1860. The Spencer repeating rifle was the first military breech-loading repeating rifle. The ammunition was loaded in a chamber at the rear of the gun barrel instead of the muzzle. The Spencer rifle became the standard arm of the Union Cavalry in the later stages of the American Civil War. This partly came about because Spencer personally demonstrated his rifle in a shooting match on the White House lawn to Abraham Lincoln.

Benjamin Henry (March 22, 1821-June 8, 1898), who worked for the Oliver Winchester Company in Connecticut, designed the .44-caliber Henry rifle. The Henry rifle's magazine held 15 bullets and was produced for army use starting in mid-1861. The Henry rifle was the first reliable lever-action repeating rifle.


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Blogging Through the Alphabet: G is for Gunsmiths and the American Civil War; photograph of Civil War Reenactors


Machine Guns 


In 1862, Dr. Richard Gatling (September 12, 1818 – February 26, 1903) patented the first hand-cranked weapon known as the Gatling gun. It had six barrels that would rotate around a central axis. The Gatling gun could fire 175 rounds per minute. It would be the first successful machine gun. Even though Gatling was born and raised in North Carolina, he would be a supporter of the Union, but that did not mean that his gun would only be used by the Union Army. Union General Benjamin Butler was the only Union general to purchase any Gatling guns, and they were only used once during the American Civil War.

The quote is different depending upon where you read it, but Gatling wrote regarding his thought in designing the Gatling gun, "It occurred to me if I could invent a machine – a gun – which would by its rapidity of fire enable one man to do as much battle as a hundred, then the number of men exposed to danger would be diminished." Personally, I understand the dream behind his thoughts, but the practicality is unfathomable. As we know having machine guns in war does not mean fewer men are put in the way of danger, but in reality, more men. We just have to look at the deaths in World War I as men went over the top (in trench warfare) to meet their death at the hands of one soldier operating a machine gun.

There were so many firsts in the world of gunsmithing prior to and during the American Civil War. Each gunsmith set forth to improve upon the design of guns for multiple reasons. Some even wanted to improve upon the design so that there would be less death and danger on the battlefield, like Gatling.  It's interesting to note most of the advancements took place in the North, but then again, it makes sense, considering the North was home to more of the factories than the South. 


Thursday, July 14, 2022

Homeschooling Plans for our First Grader

A Mom's Quest to Teach logo: Homeschooling Plans for our First Grader - photo of books in background

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We were blessed with reviewing My Father's World kindergarten curriculum, God's Creation from A to Z Package last year. I really appreciated having everything organized and laid out for me because it allowed me to focus on pulling materials together for our oldest son's final year of high school. With the great experience with My Father's World, we decided to purchase the first grade curriculum for our daughter.

There are so many wonderful components to the Learning God's Story first grade curriculum from My Father's World. Personally, one of my favorite aspects is the Learning God's Story Teacher's Manual. Each week is laid out on a grid for Monday through Friday and then additional information follows that week's grid. It makes it so easy to plan the individual days as we move through the curriculum. 

Our daughter was so excited when everything arrived and wanted to get started immediately – even though we were finishing up the kindergarten curriculum. As we unboxed everything, our daughter was quite enamored with the math manipulatives, but I was very excited to see My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotions. I love that it included devotions based upon animals. What a neat idea! 


What Did We Get? 


The package that we ordered last year included the following: 

  • Learning God's Story Teacher's Manual
  • Student Sheets for Learning God's Story
  • Student Workbook
  • Bible Notebook 
  • Bible Reader
  • Geared Student Clock
  • Horizontal Addition and Subtraction Flashcard Set
  • My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotions
  • Pattern Animals: Puzzles for Pattern Blocks
  • Science with Plants
  • Science with Water
  • Outdoor Things 
  • The Complete Book of Math Grades 1 - 2
  • Unifix Cubes - 100
  • Wooden Pattern Blocks

Bible reader from My Father's World; Proverbs quote


How Have We Used My Father's World? 


When we started using our first grade curriculum, we spent the first several weeks following the Teacher's Manual and completing the majority of the suggested activities. Everything went very smoothly as we read from My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotions, completed pages in our Math Workbook, and worked in the Student Workbook. I enjoyed working one-on-one with our daughter. 

When my mom's health began to deteriorate more quickly, we needed to take a break from the parent-led instruction of My Father's World and turn to other work that would allow our daughter to continue to learn while freeing me for other tasks. I went through some of the workbooks we have collected over the years, printed out worksheets, and found other activities for her to do. I utilized some of the subscriptions we received as members of the Homeschool Review Crew for our daughter, too. 

After the death of my mom, we were able to jump back into our first grade curriculum from My Father's World. So, while most are finished or finishing up their 36 weeks of first grade, we are right in the middle of it, and because we homeschool, it doesn't matter. We can move at our own pace. Because My Father's World is a complete curriculum that does not rely upon online subscriptions, we didn't have to worry about running out of time. I opened up the Teacher's Manual, collected the books and materials we needed, and we started again. 


My Father's World weekly schedule chart; timeline from My Father's World


Daily Schedule 


Each day when we get started on our homeschooling, I usually hand to our daughter the one or two things she can do on her own as I get her brother organized. Recently, this has been handing her the chart for her to write the numbers over 101 and the chart listing the 66 books of the Bible. 

As we started each day, I looked through the specific day on the grid to see what activities we have scheduled. After our daughter completes the few tasks she can do independently, we review the Proverb for the week together. During the week, she will write it out on her own. Then, each day contains a Bible/History activity or reading, a language arts/reading lesson, a math lesson (utilizing The Complete Book of Math book most days), and sometimes there are music, science, or art activities. 

One of the things I love about homeschooling first grade is that we can complete all the work in a short amount of time, which allows our daughter to have a lot of free time to pursue her own interests. She can play with her toys, read books, color, or complete STEM kit activities.


A Mom's Quest to Teach: Homeschooling Plans for our First Grader; book and paper clip clip art; photograph of Learning God's Story from My Father's World


Adding In 

I also included other activities and lessons from a variety of resources for our daughter this year. As the Social Media Manager of the Homeschool Review Crew, I receive a variety of homeschool products and resources over the course of the year. Some of them are above her age range or grade level, but there have been quite a few that are a good fit for her first grade homeschooling. 

We have been slowly working through Preschool: Exploring God's Love from Positive Action Bible Curriculum. Even though she is in first grade, this curriculum has been a nice addition, as it reviews the key lessons in the Bible. She enjoys the workbook, which includes coloring, cutting, and drawing, and I like the read-aloud sections with questions. 

To sharpen her math skills, we have been using Memoria Math Challenge Level A sporadically. The math curriculum in My Father's World is solid, but I would like her to be able to add more quickly. The Memoria Math Challenge workbook starts with the dictation of numbers, writing the numbers that come after, and then counting and number lines. Eventually, she will be working on her addition math facts. 

Finally, we are adding in more science from Science: Lessons and Investigations from Evan-Moor, courtesy of Timberdoodle (look for a full review in a few weeks). Our son is working on the fourth grade level, while our daughter has the second grade level. They both start with the topic of plants, so we have been completing the lessons and activities together.