Texas Bucket List – Q: Quanah Parker Trail ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet


The Quanah Parker Trail is a 52-county driving adventure that is designed to share with the traveler stops that highlight Quanah Parker, the Comanche, and other Plains Indians. It is found is the western part of the state of Texas, mainly the Panhandle and the Plains of west Texas. However, the story of Quanah Parker starts much closer to our current home.

Just a county over is the original Fort Parker, where Cynthia Ann Parker was kidnapped from in 1836 as a nine-year-old girl. The Comanche raised her as one of their own. She grew up and became the wife of Peta Nocona, a Comanche leader. She had children with him and one of their sons is known as Quanah Parker, the last great Comanche leader.

The Quanah Parker Trail commemorates this great Comanche leader and other Plains Indian tribes and peoples. Each stop of the trail is marked with a giant arrow stuck in the ground. The stops are places with a real or legendary connection to Quanah Parker and his people or other Plains Indians. This leader had the difficult job of helping the Comanche people realize that the white settlers were taking over and that the native peoples had to adapt or die off. Quanah Parker led his people into the new culture that was surrounding them and this trail commemorates that difficult leadership role he had.

I know that I have seen these giant arrows while driving through west Texas before but I had no idea what they were representing. Now, I know to stop when I see one next on my way to New Mexico. I will find something interesting there. Maybe we could make it a driving tour sometime and spend several days visiting these sites. I would truly enjoy that!

At Home.


This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

A Tree for Peter ~ Book Club

A Tree for Peter

Kate Seredy is a newly discovered writer that I have fallen in love with. Her writing is joyful and exciting. It draws you in and brings you into the deepest parts of the story. Her writing allows you to feel what the characters feels and to move through the story with them. It is rich and deep and engulfing.

A Tree for Peter is a book that I got for a review for The Old Schoolhouse website. (Check them out if you are looking for, well, anything related to educational resources. There are thousands of reviews there.) It came from the publisher Purple House Press. This company is resurrecting wholesome, solid, well-written stories that teach character, value, and understanding. A Tree for Peter was originally written in 1941. The language is engaging and thoughtful and rich. Even if I didn’t like the story, I would love the language and writing.

Shantytown is a dark, dingy, scary, shadowy place and Small Peter feels it. Lame and alone, since his mother is working hard to pay off debts and his father died, Small Peter is scared and lonely in this place where each person looks after their own self and no one else. One of his favorite things, though, is to watch the train that goes by Shantytown. During one of these times, he catches the eye of another young lad who shares a smile with him. That smile brightens his life and things begin to change when combined with the arrival of King Peter.

Not really a King, this other Peter teaches Small Peter how to face life and to face his fears and to dream. Small Peter takes a hold of these lessons with both hands and dives into his life, resurrecting life and hope among many.

This story of Small Peter and his changing life will bring hope and joy to your world as you watch it grow and bloom in his.


I have now read this book about four times. Once by myself and another time to write the original review for TOS, once to my youngest, and once as a read aloud. Each time, I find myself smiling in the hope that grows in the darkness of the world of Shantytown. Each time, I revel in the joy of the language and the way Kate Seredy has put words together to bring to life the world of the story.

I have shared about this book with a number of people and wanted you to know about it as well. I highly recommend this story and the hope that will come through it.

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

Book Club Update:

I would really enjoy it if you all would visit Wendy’s blog, Ladybug Dreams. She will likely not have a Book Club post as they have had some wonderful things happening in their family, lately. Perhaps she will have shared about it on her blog. Either way, I know she would appreciate some love on her blog. And hopefully, she will be back in a situation where we can begin working on the same book again before too many months go by.

At Home.

book club button 200

GrammarPlanet ~ a Crew review

GrammarPlanet online

A new website to assist with grammar is available – GrammarPlanet. This site is a complete grammar, punctuation, and usage curriculum. GrammarPlanet is truly a complete curriculum, including formal parsing and diagramming of sentences.

The folks behind this free program (free version supported by advertising) want everyone to learn how to correctly use the English language and so they have created this curriculum. This program is based upon the teaching methods of Analytical Grammar, which has been on the homeschool market for around 20 years.

Easy to use, it is aimed at students aged 10 and up. This is a fairly solid age to begin. We did try to have Miss J use it but at age nine, she was not ready for this program so I took over her account to see how the program worked. Miss L is using it and at age 12, she is able to benefit from the program. Challenging? YES! But she can do it.

student dashboard 2

So, how does this work? Let’s use me for an example, here. Each student has their own account with their own login. When I am ready to work, I login to my account and then click the bright green button in the upper left that says “continue progress.” That takes me right to where I left off last time and I can continue on. Each unit begins with a set of notes to print and a video to watch. This video is interactive and pauses periodically to have the student answer a question, ensuring attentiveness during the lecture. After the video is over, the student clicks the button to move them into the practice questions.

screen shot of video

Each practice is a sentence. The student reads the sentences, ensures they understand it, and then begin parsing, or marking, the sentence – nouns, adjectives, articles, pronouns, etc. This is done on the computer with a point and click setup – click the word you want to mark and a pop-up box appears with the choices in it, click your choice and the pop-up disappears but your choices is now marked above the work in the sentence. After you have marked everything you feel is needed, you click the continue button. You get immediate feedback on what is correct or incorrect.

sentence example with selections madeselections popup

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Continue on through the practice sentences until the program has determined you understand enough. Then it moves you on to the test. The test is the same set-up as the practices. If you have mastered enough of the unit test, then you will move on to the next unit. This program is a dynamic program, designed to give you more practice questions if you are struggling and fewer if you are answering correctly.

test image of question

It is recommended that the student be working on this program around 15 minutes at a time, every other day. This is to allow the brain to focus and really absorb the material.

At this time, there appear to be 13 units. The schedule on the website indicates that there are plans for 60 units when all is said and done. You can see this schedule by visiting the main website page and scrolling down to the bottom right. In the question “How does it work?” there is a link for the unit outline.

Now for the nitty gritty – do we like it? Yes and no.


  • this is a rich, challenging, growth-producing program. The units are rigorous. They do not allow for half-way and GrammarPlanet pushes the student hard. There is no easy way out with this program.
  • If you want to strengthen your English language skills so that you become a better writer and more confident in your usage, this program is going to be right for you.
  • If you are seeking a formal and classical usage program that will teach diagramming and all the skills that go along with that, this program is what you are looking for.
  • Resetting the unit is an option when the student is struggling and needs to repeat from the beginning to view the video again.
  • Notes are available for reprinting or viewing (opens in a PDF) while in the practices.


  • It is difficult to begin this program when you have not had already had a rigorous grammar program but understand a good bit about the subject. Even with the nouns, there are words used in a way that is different than I have ever been taught, or taught my girls. Add in things like the pronouns and it is a whole new world. I understand that there are not “different rules” that govern these things but it certainly feels that way when you get things wrong that you feel certain you understand.
  • It is frustrating to the student to be told over and over that they have gotten all of the questions, or even most of the questions, in a set wrong. When this happens, the student is locked out of the program until it is reset or unlocked by the parent or teacher managing the account. Requiring this gives additional teaching a chance to happen.
  • It is a difficult program to work through when you do not have an explanation of why you got something wrong. We referred back to the notes, over and over, but still end up guessing about why things are marked wrong a lot of the time. It is difficult for this program to be able to give individual feedback but at the same time, not having that kind of feedback means that there is no growth in understanding of the mistake so it will not be made again.

GP OK ku revision

Overall Thoughts –

  • You need to check this program out. GrammarPlanet is free and it might be just right for your family. If you love it, you might want to pay for the upgrade so that you don’t have to deal with the advertising that helps keep the program free and your students can focus on their learning.
  • View the welcome video on the page to experience an interactive video and learn more about the program.
  • There is a link on the main GrammarPlanet page at the top for Frequently Asked Questions. Definitely check that page out as there is some information there that is not covered in this review.
  • Miss L will probably continue using this, at least for a bit, if she still continues to make progress. We will discontinue it when the frustration overrides the progress made.

Visit their site and see what they have to offer. It just might be the program you are looking for.

At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew anchor post to read additional reviews of what some other families thought about this program. There are a wide range of families using GrammarPlanet so please visit some of them.


Workbooks from Reading Eggs ~ a Crew review

Reading Eggs review

Most everyone is familiar with, or has at least heard of, Reading Eggs. This online reading instruction program is well-known, especially in homeschooling circles. But did you know that they now offer printed workbooks?


We received a printed workbook titled 200 Essential Reading Skills for Fourth Grade, as well as a 3 month subscription to the Reading Eggs  website to accompany the book.

Reading Eggs workbook cover

This book is beautiful! Printed in full color, it is the size of a regular sheet of paper (8.5 x 11 inches). The book contains 36 weeks of daily language arts instruction. The instruction falls into three main categories – comprehension, spelling, and grammar. I would personally throw in a 4th – vocabulary – as we are seeing quite a few words that either are new or are needing a synonym definition, which is fantastic! The answers are printed in the back of the book.

Each week’s lessons are separated into five days – one page per day. The first two days deal with reading comprehension. There are excerpts to read (taken from a book that is available in the online program. If you have access to that, you can read the whole book.). The student is asked to read and then mark different things that indicate comprehension – mark what happened, highlight the word that shows an emotion, underline the result, etc. There are several questions to write or circle answers to at the bottom of the page, as well.

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Days three and four are spelling days. Day three introduces a spelling or phonics rule and a core list of 20 different words that incorporate that. The activities use the rule and set of words to work on things like word meaning, spelling, and word building. Day four takes that same rule and set of words and builds even more upon it. Proof-reading skills and challenge words are added in day four.

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Day five is a grammar lesson. During the workbook, the grammar portion will cover things such as nouns, capital letter, pronouns, tenses, verbs, commas, prepositions, and more. This is done through definitions, usage, and proof-reading style exercises.

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So, over the course of a week, the student spends about 15 minutes a day and receives instruction in comprehension, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, usage, punctuation, and more.

Are you looking for more planning help? The workbook has a table of contents that lists what is covered each day of each week. There is also a yearly plan printed in the front of the workbook listing it all out by week.

Miss J was asked what she thought about the workbook. Her response?

I like that it is colorful and each day is only one page. It feels a lot like my math book and is an easy add-on each day. It isn’t tons of fun but it isn’t hard. 

The workbook will stand alone. You do not need the website to use the workbooks and they have both math and reading skills workbooks:

  • 200 Essential Reading Skills  – for Kindergarten through fifth grade
  • 200 Essential Math Skills – for Kindergarten through second grade

If you do have access to the website, though, the workbook goes nicely alongside it. Miss J did both the workbook and the website daily for the past few weeks. The website is a nice complement to the workbook, acting as practical application and practice for the things worked on in the book.

The website has a bundle of great activities that work on the same phonics and spelling rules that are covered in the workbook. Now, Miss J is a sound-loving girl. She enjoys works, talking, making sounds, playing with sounds, and all that sort of things. This means that the Reading Eggspress program (the level of Reading Eggs that she is on) is a perfect fit for her. All the fun, crazy sounds that go along with answering questions and doing the activities? They are right up her alley. And I love that she gets practice while playing games and racing others.

Reading Eggs online

Even better though is how well the fun of the website is balanced by the workbook. Not that the workbook is boring but it is different. Students need to write, not just click. The workbook provides that in a fun, colorful, bright, engaging, varied way. The workbooks are a great addition to the Reading Eggs family. You should definitely check them out!

  • Just in time for Back to School: 4 Weeks Free and 9 BRAND NEW Reading Eggs and Mathseeds workbooks! Purchase from the collection today and add to your child’s learning curriculum.
  • 4 Free Weeks Access and NEW 200 Essential Skills Reading and Math Workbooks!
  • Claim Yours with this code for 10% off: WK10MMU85PY

The award-winning Reading Eggs and Mathseeds have released brand new 200 essential skills workbooks. Add the fun-filled activity books to your children’s learning experience!

At Home.

Reading Eggs workbooks were used by a number of different Homeschool Review Crew families and you can read what they thought about their different workbooks by visiting the Crew blog. Click on the banner below.


Texas Bucket List – P: Padre Island National Seashore ~ Blogging Through The Alphabet


It seems that many field trip ideas for Texas run you back down to the Gulf Coast and the seashore. This is another one but I have a pretty good interest in this one. It includes sea turtles! Well, sort of.

Padre Island National Seashore is part of the National Park Service. This part protects a large stretch of undeveloped shore line.

Within the borders of this park, you find a wide diversity of treasure to discover. Literally. There is are Spanish shipwrecks from the 1550s. These three shipwrecks are documents to have lost many lives, much treasure, and damaged the Spanish fleet extensively.

You will also find a nesting ground for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. Other sea turtles have historically nested here and are found here relatively often, it seems. This is probably the biggest reason I would like to visit this national park. I find the plight of sea turtles interesting and would love to visit their areas.

Another treasure you will find is the number of bird species here. There are over 380 different species of birds and this is a fabulous bird watching area. Located on the Central Flyway, many migratory birds stop over at Padre Island. The undeveloped habitat here also makes it a secure location for many non-migratory species.

These are just a few of the reasons that Padre Island has a pull for me. One day, we’ll make this the place we stay for our trip to the coast. Hopefully, we can schedule it during nesting season for the turtles or during one of the major migrations of a beautiful bird species.

At Home.



This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Texas Bucket List – O: Odessa College’s Globe Theater ~ Blogging Through the Alphabet


If you enjoy theater, plays, Shakespeare, and all things theatrical, this one is for you!

Odessa College has a reproduction, life-sized, of the Globe Theater. The original Globe Theater was the home of William Shakespeare’s acting company. It is a 450 seat venue used for classes, plays, and community events. It is considered the best replica of the original Globe Theater in Southwark, London. It contains an authentic Elizabethan stage and is octagonal in shape (as it should be to be a replica, right?).

This stage at Odessa College hosts both classical and modern plays, as well as a festival that pays tribute to William Shakespeare.

What a neat place this would be to visit! Maybe we can work it in sometime.

At Home.


This is a weekly series and will be linked weekly with the Blogging Through The Alphabet co-hosts:
Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool
Kirsten at Doodle Mom
Jennifer at Worth a Bowed Head
Kimberley at Vintage Blue Suitcase
Desiree at Our Homeschool Notebook
Markie at My Life As Mrs. Cooks
Hilary at Walking Fruitfully

Jesus Saves ~ hymn

I decided to just flip through an old hymnal and see what jumps out at me because you know, too often many good hymns are left out when hymnals are “updated.” I put that in quotes because updated doesn’t always mean better, just newer. And lots of older songs are lost in the process, which is kind of sad. So many newer songs are what have been called 7-11 songs: seven words you repeat eleven times. Not trying to bash newer songs because there are many excellent ones but too many of them have no substance to their lyrics. Jesus Saves

So, I stumbled across this one and it jumped out at me – Jesus Saves! I have enjoyed this once since a child!

This is what I have been intentionally praying with my girls recently – that Jesus saves and they should want to be a part of His church so they will be part of those saved by Jesus. Part of my job as a  Christian and a parent, is to help my girls understand God and His ways, as best I can and as best I understand them myself. So, I intentionally share, as this song says, the joyful sound that Jesus saves.

From here to “every land”, from the “steeps and cross the waves”
From “rolling tide” to the “islands of the sea”
Singing above the battle, singing it softly, sing in triumph

This hymn is a joyful reminder that Jesus saves all who hear and follow His ways. (This link is to a recording that I found of this song as I know it.)

At Home.

Jesus Saves

lyrics: Priscilla J. Owens
music: William J Kirkpatrick

1 We have heard the joyful sound:
Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around:
Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!
Bear the news to every land,
climb the steeps and cross the waves;
Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command:
Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!

2 Waft it on the rolling tide;
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Tell to sinners far and wide;
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Sing, ye islands of the sea;
Echo back, ye ocean caves:
Earth shall keep her jubilee;
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

3 Sing above the battle strife:
Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!
By His death and endless life,
Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!
Sing it softly through the gloom,
when the heart for mercy craves;
sing in triumph o’er the tomb:
Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!

4 Give the winds a mighty voice:
Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!
Let the nations now rejoice:
Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!
Shout salvation full and free;
highest hills and deepest caves;
this our song of victory:
Jesus saves!  Jesus saves!

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