The “Perfect” Writing Curriculum


writing amour quoteWhile writing this post on “writing,” I was painfully reminded of the number one reason students have trouble writing (or in some cases hate to write)!  It’s Writer’s Block!  Sometimes, it is extremely hard to get the writing process started.

Type A personalities like myself insist on perfection from the beginning of a project.  With that kind of pressure, it is hard to even begin because we are struggling to find the best way to start!  We want to “hook” the audience right away!  Additionally, Perfectionists stall along the way as they obsess over every misspelled word or incorrect punctuation in their first draft.

For older students, they may not know what to write about or how to organize their thoughts.  Younger students simply haven’t lived long enough to have much to write about.  Struggling students may have a limited vocabulary, writer’s fatigue with the act of physically writing, and/or dysgraphia (a form of dyslexia).  Let’s face it!  It is hard to find the perfect curriculum that fits your child’s learning style and meets your family’s learning needs.

1 peterFirst, let’s back up a bit and discuss WHY we want our children to be excellent (or at least proficient) writers and good communicators.  The most important reason to teach reading, writing, and language arts is to help our students share their faith, express their beliefs, and explain the Gospel. 

Especially in the age of texting and tweets, Facebook and Instagram,  blogs and vlogs, and news and fake news, this generation more than any other generation in the past, need the ability to express themselves and defend their faith in a powerful and effective manner.  Is our aim to raise the next C.S. Lewis or Charles Spurgeon?  Probably Not.  But do we want our children to be able to express themselves in spoken and written language to impact their friends, family, and strangers for the kingdom of God?  Oh Yes!  So if our primary goal is NOT to raise the next Mark Twain or to earn a perfect score on the SAT, then your writing instruction can be simple, stress-free and still very fruitful.

Is there a perfect writing curriculum?  I humbly say “No”!  Just like there is not one perfect math curriculum or reading curriculum, there is no such thing as the perfect writing curriculum.  It is easier to use the same curriculum for all students if you have a large family, however like math, your students will probably be at different writing levels and have different writing and spelling abilities.  Writing is one of those subjects that may need to be individualized.  So let’s talk about making your writing instruction easier so you don’t go crazy trying. You CAN teach writing, punctuation, and grammar without a boxed curriculum, and you can do it without breaking your budget!

writing voltaire quoteAfter teaching 25 plus years, writing books and devotionals for homeschooling moms, and homeschooling my own, I have found there are basically SIX essentials to teaching writing and instilling a love of writing in any student:  (1) Read and discuss great books, (2) copy great writers, (3) write something every day, (4) integrate writing, grammar and spelling, (5) practice editing, and (6) play with words!

Check out our PODCAST “Writing Lessons:  You Can Do It.”  CLICK HERE.

In this podcast, we unpack and explain the six basics of  teaching your child to write.  We also explain the method Ben Franklin used to teach himself how to write.

ben-franklin-quotes writingFrom the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin:

“About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator – I thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it.

With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try’d to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come hand. 

Then I compared my Spectator with the original.  By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I discovered many faults and amended them; but I sometimes had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method or the language.”

In a nutshell, Franklin did the following: (This is also what IEW uses in Key Word Outlines)

  1. Read an article or passage from a book.
  2. Wrote short hints about each sentence (or a keyword outline) and then set it aside for a while.
  3. Using these short hints, he recalled what the article was about and then rewrote the article in his own words.
  4. Compared his work with the original.
  5. Revised and improved his writing.



The most important thing to remember is if you can read, understand, and evaluate this article on the “perfect” writing curriculum, then you are capable and qualified to teach your child how to write and how to write well!


May God richly bless your teaching and writing for His glory,







Check out our PODCAST “Writing Lessons:  You Can Do It.”  CLICK HERE.

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NEW PODCAST: Get Your Feet Wet This Summer with Nature Studies

feet in the sand.jpg.600x315_q67_crop-smartAh, summertime sun and lazy days at the beach!  Some of my favorite times during the year.  Besides relaxing at the beach and sleeping in,  I love “testing out” new things during the summer.  I use the lazy days of summer to try out ideas or activities I might want to do the next school year.

If you are looking for a way to do science next year that is stress-free, text-book free, and guilt-free, then try Nature Studies!  If you are looking for a way to do science this year that doesn’t require an expensive curriculum or expensive outside science classes, then I strongly suggest you do Charlotte Mason style Nature Studies this year!

What are nature studies?  In our latest podcast, we explore how to use your time at the beach (or your free time this summer), dipping your feet into the cool refreshing idea of nature journaling.

nature god's broadcasting systemIn a nutshell, it is using God’s creation as your inspiration for scientific exploration.  No boring textbooks are needed.  No expensive science curriculums are needed.  No hectic outside science classes are needed.  It’s you, your kids, a backpack, a few journals, and the great outdoors!


  1. Explore nature (backyard, neighborhood walks, parks, gardens, zoos, hikes, etc).
  2. Stop, sit, and draw what you see.
  3. Learn about the plant/animals you saw when you get home.
  4. Add info to your drawing (facts, labels, quotes, verses, thoughts, etc)

Yep, it really is that simple!  If you are not sure how to get started or you have always wanted to do nature studies with your family but haven’t tried it yet, summertime is the BEST time to try it out!  If you plan on doing nature studies for the first time this coming school year, summertime is the BEST time to ease into this new and fun way to learn science.

CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcast, “Nature Studies:  Get Your Feet Wet This Summer.”  It is full of simple and easy things you can do this summer to try out nature studies with your family.  Then go watch and subscribe to Joy Cherrick’s Nature Study Hacking website and newsletter. She is a master!

As promised, we listed resources mentioned in the podcast below.  Happy Exploring!


FREE “Nature Studies for the Nature Deficit Family: How to Get Started” Handout

**The handout also lists places to visit in Southern California but you can use the list as an example of places to explore in your local area.***

ocena anatomy



Step by Step Drawing Instructions

Draw Write Now Series samples and  and links to purchase 

Ocean Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces Of the World Under the Sea by Julia Rothman

Lined composition notebooks,  Spiral art sketchbooks, and beautiful lined and unlined journals.  

Quality Colored Pencils



Smithsonian Sea Shell Handbook 

Acorn Naturalist: Laminated Field Guides 

Online classification guides

Shell Museum Identification App.  

Ocean Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces Of the World Under the Sea by Julia Rothman



Read Aloud Revival (RAR) Seaside Recommendation List


CLICK HERE to listen to our latest podcast, “Nature Studies:  Get Your Feet Wet This Summer.”

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SONY DSCGameology is the best way to get through the winter blues and break through the “February Wall.”  What is Gameology?

It is the art of learning through games.   It is an art I have spent many years perfecting!  Yes, I admit it.  I am a game-a-holic!  And I am proud to say through my example my daughter is a game-a-holic too!  When our family started a new unit, we played a game to introduce the topic.  When we needed help remembering information, we played a game.  When we were overwhelmed and overworked, we played games.  When I needed a break (or the kids needed a break), we played games.  While in the car, we played games. While on vacation, we played games.  While waiting at the doctor’s office,  we played games.  When math facts were killing us, we played games. When biology and chemistry terms baffled us, we played games.  During election season, we played games.  During the world series season, we played games.  Before and after historical field trips, we played games.  I think you get the picture.  Any time I could use game time as an excuse to put the books away, I did!

Did you know it takes 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain UNLESS it is done through play?  If a person is learning through play or games, then it only takes 10-20 repetitions!  So you see, science backs me up too!  Playing is our brain’s favorite way to learn.  Playing games is a great way to learn, review and reinforce concepts, skills, and facts.  It is scientifically proven!  There is so little time and so many games to play!

At our special weekend for homeschooling moms in March, we will be sharing how to  travel around the world through books, games, field trips, and family vacations.   In our morning session, “Passport to Learning,” we will focus on our all-time favorite games we used throughout the years to learn about geography, cultures, and countries around the world.  Since we have so many favorite games and so little time in our morning session, I wanted to share some of our favorite math, science, history, grammar, writing, and art games with you in this post!


Let’s get one thing straight before we start:  Not all students will memorize their math facts!  While this act comes easily to many, it is downright impossible for some.  So don’t beat yourself up (or your child) if he still can’t recall quickly and correctly the answer to 6 x 8 !  However, you can play card, dice, and board games to help teach, review and reinforce those pesky math facts and down-right mind-blowing algebraic concepts.

Addition & Multiplication Fact Card Games:  Check out our “12 Days of Christmas” article.  We explain 12 different card and dice games you can play.  Also, my Math FUNdamentals:  Using Games to Teach Math book is out of print, but we are working on a 2nd edition and hope to publish with Amazon in 2021.  All of the games listed below can be played with the whole family.  Each game can also be adapted for younger players or for advanced students.

  1. Quick Pix Multiplication– Fast-paced multiplication fact recall gameI
  2. Quick Pix Math– Same game but with addition facts
  3. Sequence Dice Game–  best addition and strategy game on the market!
  4. Over and Out Card Game– super fun game of adding, subtracting, mental math and doubling
  5. Farkle– hilarious game with lots of adding
  6. Shut the Box– adding, subtracting, and simple order of operations
  7. Uncle Wiggly Game:  game of counting and place value!  Don’t forget to read the tales of Uncle Wiggly!
  8. 24 Card Came– adding, subtracting, and multiplication fun
  9. Zeus on the Loose– Don’t let the name full you!  It is math game with a mythology twist!
  10. Totally Tut- Again, don’t let the name full you!  It is math operations game with an Egyptian pyramid theme.
  11. Sushi Go!  Super fun party game with lots of math addition in the scoring78877n-sequence-dice-game
  12. Absolute Zero Card Game– great for older kids
  13. Equate -math verison of Scrabble
  14. Pizza Fraction Fun Game– Don’t forget to have fun learning fractions too!
  15. ANY Board Game with dice!  Kids are adding every time they roll and move!  Our favorite is Parchessi!
  16. ANY -Opoly Game!  Kids are learning about all kinds of topics while practicing their money skills!  Our family favorite is Dog-opoly!

*** Don’t forget logic is a big part of mathematical thinking!  Add these “must have”
strategy and logic games to your math playtime:  Chess, Clue, Guess Who, Battleship, Mastermind, Logic Links, Set, & Ticket to Ride


Where to begin??  There are so many scientific fields to investigate!  See our “Textbook and Stress-Free Science” article for some of the best science games out there.  In the list below, I share a few new ones on the market and some old classics not mentioned in the science oplogy

  1. Treking the National Parks:  Great way to learn about our national parks and the animals that live in them.
  2. Amazing Animal Trivia Game:  mix between memory and trivia
  3. Guess in 10:  animal card version of 20 questions
  4. Qurious Space:  fast-paced space trivia game
  5. The Invention Game– hilarious guessing game about real patents that were never mass- produced
  6. Totally Gross:  Game of Science– be prepared for some silly science shenanigans!
  7. Rock On!  Geology Game of Rocks & Minerals:  bingo-type game to learn rock cycle



Since we will share our favorite geography games at our special weekend for homeschooling moms in March, this list will focus more on history games you can play.  Shhhh!  Don’t tell your kids they are doing school work!  These games are so fun and jam-packed with information, you may never want to use a history book again!

  1. The Constitution Quest Game:  learn about the 3 branches of governmentIMG_0902
  2. Hail to the Chief:  learn about the electoral college and presidential trivia
  3. Monopoly America Special Edition:  take a trip down American memory lane.  Even the pieces are patriotic
  4. Our America Board Game: tons of trivia facts
  5. Oregon Trail Game: They finally created a card game from the classic computer simulation!
  6. Made for Trade:  great for colonial history (and economics)
  7. Castle Keep:  Medieval strategy
  8. Medieval Alliance:  beautiful board and playing cards
  9. Medieval Memory Game:  learn about important persons and structures medieval-alliance-game.jpg
  10. Senet:  classic Egyptian game, a little bit of math and a lot of Egyptian fun
  11. Ancient History Go Fish Game:  learn about important persons and ancient structures
  12. Feilong:  The China Game– awesome way to learn about ancient China
  13. Any Professor Noggins Games!



In our article, “The Perfect Writing Curriculum,” we shared some of our favorite word games to help build vocabulary and a love of language.  Click here to read it.  There are also the classic spelling games like Scrabble, Boggle and Mad Libs that should be on every homeschooling shelf!  The list below is full of grammar and writing games.  These games are so addictive, I bet the whole family will want to spend all day playing them!tall-tales-game-giveaway.jpg

  1. Tall Tales Story Telling Board Game:  create and spin a tall tale while playing!
  2. Once Upon A Time:  cooperative family game of writing fairytales
  3. Create A Story Board Game:  Draw character, setting, and conflict cards to create the best (or craziest) story
  4. The Plays the Thing:  Super fun game to learn about Shakespeare and three of his balderdash_game-13596.jpg
    plays.  No prior knowledge of Shakespeare needed to play!
  5. Apples to Apples:  Did you know this family favorite is full of adjectives and nouns!
  6. Read My List:  quick thinking, fast-paced game to build vocabulary
  7. Balderdash!    Hilarious game of vocabulary and definitions!  (Did you know Dr. Seuss, Shakespeare, and Roald Dahl make up hundreds of words now used in the English language?


  1.  Lord of Chords: Wow!  Expensive but beautifully done.  Full of music puns and clever way to learn simple and complex music theory.
  2. Art History Games:  Go Fish for Art Renaissance Card Game, Impressionist Artists Go Fish,  Van Gogh and Friends Go Fish Card Game, & American Ditto Art Game


Coming in a future post, “Soul Food,” we will share some of our favorite Bible games too!

So that, my friend, is Gameology in a nut-shell!  We hope your family will love playing these games as much as we did!

God bless,


**If you would like to learn more about using games, literature, and fieldtrips to teach geography, history (and just about everything else), join us at our 3rd annual special weekend for homeschooling moms on March 27th and 28th.  In our morning session, “Passport to Learning,” we will share tons of ideas of how to incorporate traveling, games, and literature into your homeschooling!

For more information, click HERE.

To register, click HERE.

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Christmas Around the World

!Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! Buon Natale! Mele Kalikimaka! God Jul!  Shnorhavor Amanor yev Surb Tznund (Շնորհավոր Ամանոր և Սուրբ Ծնունդ)!  Merry Christmas!

buon-natale.jpgIt is officially the holiday season!  We have less than 25 days until Christmas.  This means our house will be teeming with excitement, the smells of gingerbread and tons of family activities.  The hustle and bustle of December also makes it harder to complete lessons and stay on task.  Math and writing lessons get pushed to the bottom of the “we will get to it tomorrow” pile.

Unfortunately, homeschooling moms like myself also carry a twinge of guilt in December as Christmas gets closer and closer and less and less schoolwork gets accomplished.  Being a Type A person, December always brings a different kind of stress for me.  Our family never seems to have enough time to get our school work completed.  There are so many fun fieldtrips to go on, so many friends and family in town to visit, so many cookies to bake and so many presents to make and wrap.   And this year, my eldest graduates college and turns 21 in December!  There will be lots of celebrating and little school work being done.

christmasbreakOne year, God reminded me of the main reason we homeschool:  the freedom and flexibility to learn about Jesus as a family! One year out of desperation, we decided to take off the entire month of December.  Yes, the entire month!  I know, traditional schools maybe get two weeks of vacation, but we decided our family would take some much needed time off and spend our time making memories and spreading some Christmas cheer.  However being Type A, I felt guilty about not doing “school” for a whole month.  So I turned our Christmas traditions and holiday errands into part of our “school day.”

christmas-in-mexicoSome of my favorite holiday “school work” were the years we learned about how other countries around the world celebrate Christmas.  Since “Coffee with Carrie” blog spent the first few months of the 2019-2020 school year sharing how to “travel” the world in 80 Books, we decided to extend the “travel” theme to Christmas time too!

king cake 2In our Christmas “travels,” some years we learned how other countries and cultures celebrate Christmas.  Some years we focused on the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the season of Advent and then learned about Kwanzaa and Epiphany after Christmas.  Since I am from New Orleans, we always incorporated Epiphany and Kings Day into our Christmas “lessons.”    After all, Mardi Gras season starts on Epiphany or King’s Day.  On Epiphany, we eat King Cakeread the story of the Wise Men, and talk about the cute plastic baby Jesus hidden inside the cake.  


christmas around worldThe first resource you will want to get if you are going to learn about how Christmas is celebrated around the world is  Christmas Around the World by Lankford.  It not only comes with short descriptions of how different countries celebrate Christmas and birth of Jesus, but it also gives cooking and craft ideas too.  We even used some of the ideas to make Christmas presents for family and friends.  Another great resource to use is Celebrate Christmas Around the World.  

Start the Christmas season off by celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6th. Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop who helped the needy. After his death, the legend of his gift-giving grew. Saint Nicholas was born in Patara, Lycia, an area that is part of present-day Turkey. He reportedly used his inheritance to help the poor and sick. A devout Christian, he later served as bishop of Myra.  There are many legends about Saint Nicholas.  One story tells how he helped three poor sisters. Their father did not have enough money to pay their dowries and thought of selling them into servitude. Three times, Saint Nicholas secretly went to their house at night and put a bag of money inside. The Dutch continue to celebrate the feast day of Saint Nicholas on December 6. It is a common practice for children to put out their shoes the night before. In the morning, they discover the gifts left by Saint Nicholas. Dutch immigrants brought the legend of Saint Nicholas, known to them as Sint Nikolaas or by his nickname, Sinterklaas, to America in the 1700s.  Our family loved putting out our shoes out on the eve of Dec. 6th.  The kids would wake up to chocolate gold coins in a brand new pair of shoes.  As the kids reached puberty, they grew out of their shoes faster than they could adequately use them, so in the spirit of St. Nicholas, we donated presents and some of our slightly used shoes  (and a few new pairs) to a local community center in our town.  The presents and shoes were then given to needy families in our area.

In Mexico, Christians celebrate Los Posadas.  With your family this holiday season, learn about Los Posadas and even attend one if you can.  We live in Southern California so visiting Olvera Street during the holiday season was always a treat!

In Egypt, Coptic Christians make up only a minority, around 10 percent of the population, but they have longstanding Christmas traditions, such as the Feast of the Nativity. The Coptic Christians also observe the month of “Kiahk,” starting from Nov. 25 through Jan. 6, where they fast and eat a vegan diet.  On January 6th, they celebrate Christmas with a liturgical service, which is then followed by a fellowship meal where they break their fast and continue to rejoice in the birth and incarnation of Jesus.  While our family never fasted during Advent, the season leading up to Christmas Day, we do host a feast on Christmas Eve for our family.

Live-NativityItaly is where the tradition of nativity scenes or creches originated.  The Nativity scene is said to have originated with Saint Francis of Assisi in 1223 when he constructed a nativity scene in a cave in the town of Greccio and held Christmas Eve mass and a nativity pageant there. Greccio reenacts this event each year.  We made our own clay and wooden figures nativity scene, which I still put on the mantlepiece every year.  

AJ5905, Vermont, VT, New England. Image shot 2000. Exact date unknown.Some Church historians state that the tradition of the Christmas Tree, also known as Tannenbaum, began in Germany. German and Dutch immigrants also brought their traditions of trees and presents to the New World in the early 1800s.  The evergreen Christmas tree is a symbol of everlasting life and in some cultures also represents the Tree of Life, which is why many ornaments are apples.  Germany is also known for the tradition of all things gingerbread.   One of our favorite traditions to this day is decorating our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving and then making a gingerbread house the first week of Advent.  Celebrate with your fellow Germans by making homemade ornaments for your Christmas tree and then bake and decorate a homemade gingerbread house.

yule-log-cake.jpgIn France, the land of good food and fabulous chefs, one Christmas celebration is to bake and eat 13 different desserts! All the desserts are made from different types of fruit, nuts, and pastries.  The Yule Log (the literal tree and the chocolate version) originated in France as well. In Provence, it is traditional that the whole family help cut the log down and that a little bit of it is burnt each night. If any of the log is left after the Twelfth Night, it is kept safe in the house until the next Christmas to protect against lightning!  A Chocolate Yule Log or ‘bûche de Noël’ is  a popular Christmas dessert or pudding. It’s traditionally eaten in France and Belgium.  The Yule Log is made of a chocolate sponge cake roll layered with cream. The outside is covered with chocolate or chocolate icing and decorated to look like the bark of a tree. Some people like to add extra decorations such as marzipan mushrooms!  While we did not bake 13 different desserts for Christmas Day, we do spend a lot of time baking tons of cookies!

Although in total secrecy, Christians find a way to mark the birth of Christ in countries where Christians are persecuted, such as North Korea, the country that has been ranked as the most oppressive place for believers in the world for 15 straight years by major watchdog groups, such as Open Doors USA.  While many Christians around the world are not free to publically celebrate Christmas, it doesn’t stop them from secretly celebrating the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.  While there are not many Asian or Middle Eastern Christmas traditions to try, our family did spend time praying for persecuted Christians around the world during the Christmas season.  

There are so many more Christmas traditions to explore and participate in.  Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Christmas Around the World by Lankford (biblically based) and Celebrate Christmas Around the World.  (secular).


In December, the one thing we did not skimp on was family read aloud time.  Since we didn’t have official lessons to do, we actually had more time to read great books while sitting around in our PJs.   One of my new favorite picture books is A World of Cookies for Santa:  Follow Santa’s Tasty Trip Around the World M. E. Furman. This super fun book takes readers across the globe to see all the treats that await Santa on Christmas Eve. The children head to the Philippines where puto seko cookies and ginger tea are left out for Santa; jet to Russia for a honey-spice cookie then set out for Malawi for a sweet potato cookie! When you finish the book, the journey’s still not over.  Recipes are provided in the book for your family so you can bake some of the cookies mentioned in the story.     

world of cookiesSome of our favorite Christmas chapter books were The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Robinson, A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder and A Christmas Carol by Dickens.  We also spent many hours reading classic picture books such as The Polar Express, The Night Before Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas Each year I always added a picture book that told the true meaning of Christmas.  Some of our favorites are Humphrey’s First Christmas and The Legend of the Poinsettia..


Boy Writing Letter to SantaDuring our December “break”, we had no problem finding writing “assignments” to do.  The kids helped me write and address our Christmas cards.  They wrote Christmas notes to send to friends and then wrote thank you cards for gifts they received.  They created our gift tags and place cards for Christmas Eve brunch.  They copied favorite recipes to include with homemade gifts and favorite Christmas verses to add to cards.  They created shopping lists, “to do” lists, grocery lists, and guestlists.  Today, brush writing and calligraphy are the new craze!  With your older kids, learn how to write your favorite bible verses using colorful markers and brush writing.  They make beautiful gifts and keepsakes.  Don’t feel guilty!  There were always plenty of writing opportunities to do in December.


cookiesDon’t feel guilty about spending time baking either!  After all, there is a fine art to baking which is only made possible by science!  From yeast rising to cookie batter ratios to spices in gingerbread,  science “experiments” with chemical reactions, compounds and mixtures are happening every time you bake another dozen cookies!  Still feeling guilty, don’t forget about all of the measurements, multiplication, and fractions that are being used every time you triple your famous pumpkin bread recipe!


and-the-angel-said-to-them-fear-not-for-behold-i-bring-you-good-news-of-gre-esvOf course, don’t forget to celebrate the reason for the season!  Even if you do not get to play any of these games, read any of these stories, or do any of these activities, make sure you take the time to go caroling, serve your neighbors, and spread the good news of Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection this holiday season.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,


Around the World in 80 Books (Part 3)

hello-diffretn-languages.jpgHola!  Bonjour!  Ciao! Nǐn hǎo! Guten Tag!  Good day, Matie!  Welcome back to our travels around the world in 80 books three-part series.  If you haven’t read the first and/or second blog, CLICK HERE (PART 1) and HERE (PART 2).

This month we will finish our travels by traveling to Asia, Africa, and Australia.  Besides eating delicious food and reading great books from around the world, we also spend a lot of time playing games!  Over the years, we have accumulated geography board games and card games as well as unique games that are played in other cultures.  Our “travel around the world” year-long studies can be summed up in four words:  pray, read, eat, and play!  We would learn about other countries and pray for missionaries around the world.  We would read books about people and places around the world and chapter books set in different places around the world.  We would eat new and exciting foods grown and cooked in countries around the world, and we would play games that helped us appreciate God’s amazing world and the people in it.

game ticket to rideI could do a whole blog just on the games our family has played and collected over the years!  Because we have so many favorites, my daughter and I will share many of them at our special weekend for homeschooling moms in March.  One of our Saturday sessions is “Passport to Learning.”  I promise we will bring tons of games from around the world to share with you!  Click here for more info on Saturday’s session:  Passport to Learning

Until then, let’s get our book backpack and finish our travels to Asia, Africa, and Australia!

BOOKS #61-70  ASIA

  1. Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin & Story of Ping by Majorie Flack (China)
  2. Grandfather Tang by Amy Tompert (China)
  3. The Origami Master by Nathaniel Lacheneyer  (Japan)
  4. Bee-Bim Bop  & A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (Korea)
  5. Mountains of Tibet by Mordicai Gerstein (**deals with incarnation beliefs**)
  6. Grandfather’s Dream by Holly Keller (Vietnam)
  7. The Secrets of the Terra Cotta Soldier by Ying Chang Compestine (China)
  8. White Crane:  Samurai Kids #1 by Sandi Fussel (Japan)
  9. Dolls of Hope by Shirley Parenteau (Japan)
  10. White Elephant by Sid Fleischman (Thailand)



  1. Possum Magic by Mem Fox  (Australia)
  2. The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall (Australia)
  3. Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox  & New Zealand’s ABC by Holly Schroeder
  4. Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw (Egypt)
  5. Emmanuel’s Dream:  A True Story by Laurie Ann Thompson (Ghana)
  6. Seeds of Change:  Wangari’s Gift to the World by Jen Cullerton Johnson (Kenya)
  7.  I Lost My Tooth in Africa by Baba Wague Diakite (Mali)
  8. The Storyteller by Evan Turk (Morocco)
  9. Nelson Mandela:  Long Walk to Freedom Picture Book edited by Chris van Wyk (South Africa)
  10. Boy Who Harnassed the Wind:  A True Story by William Kamkwamba (Malawi)



I hope you enjoyed our travel “Around the World in 80 Books” three-part series.  We suggested 80 books we have used over the years to learn about different cultures and places around the world.  However, don’t box yourself into these books.  There are so many picture books, devotionals, and chapter books to choose from.  The idea is to pick books that highlight a country or culture in an authentic way.  I tried to pick books that showed the beauty of God’s world and the diversity of God’s people.  I also tried to find stories of people whose lives are worth emulating and stories of people following God’s Word.  I tried to read books that helped our family see the world the way God sees it and help our children to love God’s people the way He loves them.  I even chose books that highlighted other religions so my children would hopefully grow up to be global-minded, mission-oriented, and kingdom-centered.

If you are overwhelmed, may I offer a word of advice given by Jesus himself?  “Seek first the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:22)” and But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).  Martha was frazzled and stressed about all she needed to do, but Jesus reminded her the most important place to be is at his feet in his presence.  When we choose to put God first, all the other things will be added in God’s perfect way and in God’s perfect timing.   My motto is “If all you did today with your family was read THE good book and a GOOD book, then you had a great day!”  It is enough and sufficient for that day.  The GOOD book is soul food and a good BOOK is brain food.  Without even trying, your kids will learn a few historical, scientific, and /or artistic concepts along the way.  There will be other days to catch up on math and writing.

May God richly bless your homeschooling adventures for His glory,

Carrie De Francisco

Mark your calendars for March 27-28th.  If you live in the southern California area, we would love for you to join us for our next homeschooling mom event:  Homeschooling Adventures:  A Weekend to Refresh, Rest and Rejuvenate.  It will be a weekend of encouragement, refreshment, and fellowship.  During our Saturday morning session, Passport to Learning, we will share more on the topic of how to travel the world (literally and figuratively) through books, field trips, games and family vacations. Check out our Upcoming Events Tab for details of each session and links to register.


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