Knowledge Quest Blog

Terri Johnson is the creator of Knowledge Quest maps and timelines. Her mission for the company is to help make the teaching and learning of history and geography enjoyable for both teacher and students. Terri and Knowledge Quest recently won the “Excellence in Education” award granted by The Old Schoolhouse magazine for best geography company of 2003 and 2004. Terri resides in Gresham, Oregon with her husband Todd and their four children whom she teaches at home.

Name:Terri Johnson

Saturday, May 27, 2006

My book "Jumpstart Your Successful eBusiness" is now ready!

I am excited. I have written an ebook on how to start an online business at home. Is this something that you are interested in? Well, I want to share with you all about it. The other night, Cindy Rushton interviewed me for her Mom-to-Mom Radio Show and it was so fun! We talk about juggling home-business, home-schooling and life in general in the first quarter of the interview. And then the rest of the show, we talk about what I have written about in my new book. I think this is a super helpful show to listen to if you are interested in started an online business. Here's the link so that you can listen in:

And here is the webpage where the ebook is listed for sale. Come on over and check it out!

By the way, this is a great affiliate opportunity for you. What do you think?


Friday, September 09, 2005

Knowledge Quest, Inc. Holds Drawing to Promote Book

Georgia Work-at-Home Artist Releases Original Artwork for Book Promotion

Gresham, OR, September 7, 2005 – Darla Dixon, graphite pencil artist who specializes in portraiture, recently contracted with Knowledge Quest, Inc. to illustrate their new book release entitled What Really Happened During the Middle Ages (available late October, 2005). She has drawn eight historical figures from the medieval time period, including Empress Theodora, Good King Wenceslas and Johann Gutenberg.

Upon completing the project, Dixon announced that she would offer her original artwork as a giveaway to promote the book.

Dixon says, “These books need to get into the hands of middle grade students. It tells the true stories of amazing individuals who changed our world. Most people, including my own children, have not been privileged to learn this information in school. This is a great way to learn history.”

Randy Alcorn, author of Safely Home and Heaven, writes, “This is an engaging and spiritually rewarding compilation of biographies of fascinating people in the Middle Ages. I learned a lot from this enriching book, and enjoyed not only the stories, but the beautiful maps and illustrations.”

Entries into the drawing are being accepted from September 2, 2005 through October 31, 2005 until midnight. There is no purchase necessary to enter the drawing.

To take a look at these illustrations and to find out more information about the book or the drawing, visit the website:

Biographies Available on Britney, None on Eleanor

Oregon homeschooling mom sees a gaping hole in the book industry and fills it

Gresham, Oregon, September 13, 2005 – Terri Johnson, mother and home educator to her four children, recognized a gaping hole in the book industry while searching for books for her children to read for history. Biographies for middle grade children abound on such individuals as Britney Spears, but none exist on historical figures such as Eleanor of Aquitaine or the Empress Theodora. While she could find historical biographies in the form of picture books and a large assortment available for adults, she could not locate historically accurate, age-appropriate biographies for her middle grade students to read about the medieval time period.

“Although history textbooks contain facts and information and historical fiction provides entertainment, well-told biographies bridge the gap for children by combining historical accuracy along with engaging stories. It is time to bridge that gap for the middle grade student,” Johnson insists.

Johnson, Vice President of Knowledge Quest, Inc., which produces map and timeline products for the education community, set out to publish a four-part historical biography series. Recognizing her lack of time and resources to accomplish this task on her own in a timely fashion, she contracted with six other authors to complete the first volume.

This book, available late October in bookstores, is titled What Really Happened During the Middle Ages. It covers such fascinating individuals as St. Patrick, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc and many more.

Randy Alcorn, author of Deadline and Dominion, writes, “This is an engaging and spiritually rewarding compilation of biographies of fascinating people in the Middle Ages. I learned a lot from this enriching book, and enjoyed not only the stories, but the beautiful maps and illustrations.”

Johnson has put out a call for Writers Wanted for the next book to be published in the series covering historical figures from the Ancient time period (5000BC- 400AD). More information can be found at the website:

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

How To Avoid Overbuying Curriculum

Have you ever been so wooed by a product description that you have purchased it right on the spot? Or so convinced by friends or cyber-buddies that your children’s education will not be complete unless you use a certain curriculum? Perhaps you have felt so intimidated about teaching a certain subject that you have purchased everything available on the topic to be sure that you cover it adequately and not leave holes in your children’s education.

Whatever the reason, many well-meaning homeschooling parents over-buy when it comes to curriculum. This is certainly not an unforgivable sin – in fact, I am the first one to say that we should not skimp when it comes to providing the atmosphere and resources for our kids’ learning. But let us discuss some ways we can control the financial outflow during this season of buying.

Here are five ways that you can avoid over-buying and successfully plan for a bountiful year of learning:

1. Make Your Plan – Take some time to map out your upcoming school year. What subjects would you like to cover? How does each of your children learn best? How much time will you have to devote to schooling each day? What subjects will your children need you by their side and which ones can they study independently? These are big questions. Take one child at a time and map out some goals. Take into consideration his/her age and preferred learning style. Take stock of his progress in each subject area. Will you need to emphasize a particular subject more now because of overlooking it in past years? Are there subjects that he is truly motivated in and can pursue more independently, thereby freeing up your time as teacher? Make for yourself a rough plan and schedule for your family and then move onto step #2.

2. Take Inventory – Scan your bookshelves and dig through those cabinets to find your educational resources. Pull out those unused math books, grammar and spelling workbooks, literature guides, etc. Make three stacks – 1. Will Never Use, 2. Might Use Someday, and 3. Will Use This Year. Take a look at stack number 2 again and ask yourself, “When will I use this?”, “Who would I use this with?”, and “What am I waiting for?” If you truly feel like you have a good sense that you will actually use the resource sometime in the near future (year or two) then put it away until next year. If you just cannot nail yourself down on when you would use it or what the circumstances would be for you to use it, put this book or curriculum with stack number 1.

3. Clear It Out – Take your books and curricula in stack number 1 and get rid of them. The best thing you can do with used educational resources is put them up for sale. Someone out there is looking for what you already have and are not using. There are many online places that you can sell your school books – eBay, VegSource, Well-Trained Mind Sale and Swap board, and many, many more. Place a reasonable price to it, then add another couple bucks to the price and sell it “postage paid”. This means that you as the seller will take care of the shipping costs (this just seems simpler to me and the buyer feels like she is getting a good deal). Media mail is the cheapest way to send books and other media products – CDs, video’s, curriculum in binders, etc.

4. Buy The Basics First – Now take stock again of what you have and what you now need. Buy your basic subjects first – math, grammar, spelling, history, science. You may even find some of what you are looking for on those used swap boards while you are listing your items to sell. If you have time, wait until these arrive before purchasing anything more at this point.

5. Fill in the Gaps - Once you receive your basic materials, read through them. Take notes of what else you are going to need to fill out the program. Does the math program that you chose require that you purchase manipulatives? Does the grammar book contain writing exercises and does it meet your requirements for a good writing program, or will you need something more? Does the history curriculum contain geography lessons? Will you need notebooks, composition books or planners for each child? Finally, decide how much time and energy you will have to devote to the extras, such as hands-on projects, foreign language study, logic, music, art and look for materials that will fit the bill.

Follow these five steps and you will bring spending under control. Educating our children is not cheap these days and does require some financial outlay, but we do not have to buy everything out there to ensure that our children receive the best education possible. Your commitment to raising your children well, training them to be contributors to the family, and spending time with them – over the books or playing in the backyard – is what will bring about educational success. There is no perfect curriculum just waiting to be discovered – it is you that will make the difference in your children’s lives.

Blessings to you on your educational journey,

Terri Johnson
Knowledge Quest, Inc.

P.S. By the way, a commonly asked question that we get around here is, “If I have the Story of the World Activity Book, do I need your maps?” Now, since I do not want you to over-buy, I will give you the straight answer: That depends. The Story of the World Activity Books are geared for students in 1-4 grades primarily. If your students are in this age bracket, then no, you do not need to purchase any additional maps. If you have older students, say 6th grade and up, then yes, you may very well want to purchase our map sets. They are more age-level appropriate for your children and will allow them to learn geography alongside history – thereby eliminating a separate curriculum you would need to purchase. If you are mostly interested in reading the Story of the World books and by-passing the activity guides, then you may want to take a closer look at our maps in this situation as well. They coordinate well with the narrative books and are simple yet satisfying to use. Colored maps make nice notebook entries and compliment historical reports. I hope this helps answer this plaguing question.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Homeschooling, Curriculum Choices and Everyday Life!

I wanted to take a moment to describe to you a little bit about our family and what everyday homeschooling life is like at our house. This was published in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine in their Summer 2005 issue:

Greetings from the Johnson family! We feel privileged to share with you a small taste of our life and learning process here in rainy but beautiful Oregon. Todd and I have four children with one on the way – Nicole (11), Brady (9), Rachel (5) and Lydia (3). We have been schooling at home officially for 7 years, but in actuality, it began long before that.

In fact, it was our learn-at-home mentality that complicated the “normal” course of events where you are supposed to send your kids off to kindergarten at the tender age of five. One bright summer day, my 3 year old daughter asked me if I would teach her to read. I had no idea what I was doing, but I figured I could give it a try. I used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. By the time she was four, she was reading chapter books and when she was five, she was reading on a fifth grade level. Well, I quickly found out that she was going to be bored to tears in a kindergarten class where the focus was on learning to read. I decided that we would homeschool until her peers caught up. Now I am not saying that my daughter is exceptionally bright (okay, she is!) – she is ahead in some subjects and a little behind in others – but I certainly did not want to place her in a situation where she would be quickly bored and easily distracted.

Two years later, when my son turned five, he begged me not to “send him off to school” and I was happy to oblige. I think it was at this time that I knew that this learning at home we were engaged in was not just a temporary thing – we were committed at least until high school and probably through graduation.

We have enjoyed using lots of different curricula and exploring different learning methods. We have settled on an eclectic literature-rich, Charlotte Masonish, classical homeschool approach. I think the book that helped me most in setting a course for the children’s learning is The Well-Trained Mind, by Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. I re-read this volume every summer and get a road map laid out for where we are going in the upcoming school year.

Here is what an ideal day looks like at the Johnson house (I use the word ideal instead of typical because typical is so hard to define, where as ideal is laid out in my lesson plan book!). We begin our day with preschool. During this time, we sit in a circle on the living room floor and sing songs, count, rhyme, stretch, and do exercises. When preschool is over, the two little ones grab an activity from their school box and work at this project at the kitchen table. The activities are organized into zip-loc bags and contain anything from bead sorting to simple phonics activities, puzzles to cutting out shapes. There are lots of great art projects for them to work on as well. At this time, the two older kids grab their math books – we use Singapore Math – and we all sit at the table together, working through lessons and helping each other with the problems that arise.

Next comes language arts – we use Rod and Staff grammar on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Spelling Workout on Tuesdays and Thursdays (we are going to try switching over to Spelling Power this next year). While the older kids work independently, I grab my five-year-old and we do a reading lesson. We are using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading, by Jessie Wise.

When they are finished with grammar, the kids read a chapter in Story of the World and my son narrates from it, while my daughter outlines a section in the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. We love history, but we are rather hit and miss when it comes to history projects. Sometimes we create salt-dough maps, or make weapons from the time period (out of wood, not metal!). One thing we nearly always do when we finish a unit is have a themed meal. We have had a roman feast, a great explorer’s meal at sea, a pilgrim supper and 49er food eaten out of a tin. We are thrilled to have found out about Hands and Hearts History Discovery Kits this year as I think it will help me to do more hands-on history projects with the kids this next year.

We connect our geography lessons to history. Several years ago, I was weekly searching the internet for maps that would show the landscape of the time period we were studying. I found this extremely difficult as nearly all maps contained current political boundary divisions. So I decided to draw some myself for the kids to color while I was reading their history chapters to them. As it has turned out, this has become our family business. We create and produce Knowledge Quest maps and use these with our own children as well. They also now help with the business by doing data entry, packing orders and sending out catalogs.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we do science. This spring we are studying astronomy and it has been cloudy since our unit has begun and therefore we have not been able to chart anything in our nighttime skies. While we wait for the skies to clear, we have been enjoying the Moody Science Classics DVDs from Vision Forum. We have decided to use Apologia science curriculum for our oldest this next year and we'll study some chemistry with the younger ones - mostly fun experiments!

To round out our school day, the children spend at least three-quarters of an hour practicing the piano and another half hour in independent Spanish instruction. We use Rosetta Stone computer software and they are allowed to take the laptop up to their rooms and have some afternoon quiet time. Once these subjects are finished, they are free for the rest of the afternoon. This gives them incentive (ideally!) to finish up their school work quickly.

After dinner, Todd leads us in a family devotional time and then he reads to the kids – picture books for the younger ones and historical novels for the older ones. Then all are tucked in and the house is quiet for just a little while before we start all over again.

I feel privileged to teach my own children. I feel like we are closer as a family as a result and that God has blessed us with this opportunity. This is truly an educational and relational journey we are on and although we strive to see the big picture, we realize that we can only take one day at a time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

How to Make a Timeline Easily!

I receive many questions from new and veteran home educators over the course of a year. In the past two months, however, there has been one question that has surfaced more than any other and that is… “How do we make a timeline?” This is a great question and armed with knowledge and the right tools, it is not as hard as it might seem.

Once you have decided that your students would gain tremendous benefit from seeing the progression of history in the form of a timeline, the first obstacle that crops up is, “How do we start?” Some of the questions that arise when constructing a timeline are from not knowing what the date increments should be, how far apart they should be spaced, what format should be used and what exactly should go on it.


We will tackle each one of these questions, but let’s start with the third one about format. A timeline can be constructed in a variety of formats, but there are three major categories – wall timeline, book timeline and computer timeline. Each one is fairly self-explanatory, but for the sake of clarity, let’s define each one. A wall timeline would be attached to or hung upon the wall. When no longer in use, it may be taken down and stored by folding like an accordion or rolling it up. A wall timeline can either be a finished product for reference purposes only, a pre-printed banner with date increments only, or entirely homemade. As interesting as a reference timeline can be for adults, it is not the educational tool that the latter two options provide.

A book timeline as well can be a finished product, such as the Wall Chart of World History. This is a fabulous book and a great reference for adults or teens. Again, it is not the ideal educational tool for students in 4th through 12th grade, because students in this age bracket need a tangible activity to cement their learning. (As an aside, timelines do not have significant meaning for students 3rd grade and under. At this age, they are still grasping the concept of time.) The other options for book timelines would be a pre-printed hardcover book with date increments only, a binder with printed timeline sheets, or a homemade timeline book assembled in a notebook, scrapbook or sketch book.

A computer timeline requires software, which can be anything from the most basic of applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel (or similar word processing and spreadsheet applications) to a program that has been developed specifically for the purpose of creating historical timelines on the computer. Two such programs are the Easy Timeline Creator and TimeLiner 5.0. Both of these programs have been developed for students to make timeline creation at the computer desktop a snap.


Once a format has been decided upon, the time period and date increments need to be mapped out. Decide if your timeline will cover the span of recorded history (generally from early civilizations around 5000BC to the present) or just a segment of history (for example: World War II – 1939-1945). This next part is subjective, but you will need to decide how much space you would like to allot to your timeline. You may be limited by wall space and this factor might play into your decision about which format to use as well. If you are working with a book format or on the computer, space is not particularly an issue. One rule of thumb, however, is to give yourself more space the more recent the history being studied. For example, a page per one or two hundred years is sufficient for Ancient history, (in fact using this amount will result in many blank pages towards the beginning) but you will need at least a page per decade for the 20th century. Perhaps even more.

Below are some guidelines to get started. As much as possible, determine to keep date increment spacing consistent on your planned timeline project. If you are using a wall timeline, consider choosing a time period rather than the whole span of recorded history. You can change out timelines when you have filled up the first one. This is not a bad idea for your book or computer timeline either, as it breaks the project down into a manageable sized chunk. This can be a very helpful plan for children, especially those that are easily overwhelmed by large projects.

For the wall:

Note: Before you begin to mark the date increments on your homemade wall timeline, draw a straight line horizontally along its length. Use butcher paper, computer printout paper or the unprinted ends of a newspaper roll (ask for this at your local paper – it is either free or cheap). Also note that Knowledge Quest sells wall timelines with the date increments pre-marked. Click here for details.

For a book:

Note: Before you begin to mark the date increments in your homemade timeline book, draw a straight line horizontally along the mid to upper portion of each page. Use notebook paper, scrapbook papers or an artist’s sketchpad Also note that Knowledge Quest sells a blank timeline book entitled Wonders of Old which has the date increments pre-marked. Hardcover book or CD-ROM available. Click here for details.

One final idea for your book timeline is to insert blank half pages between the full pages that you have created above to allow for expansion if your student runs out of room on the pages provided. The concept of the half pages is that the page would sit below the running line on the full pages giving the page its date increments.

For the computer:

The beauty of a computer generated timeline is that it only uses the space that it needs. It can expand to include as many details as your student would like to include on it and there are no empty holes where information has been left out. This writer is greatly impressed with the software program Easy Timeline Creator. It is flexible and user-friendly and great for the student who would prefer to build his timeline from the computer. Click here for more details.


The final and perhaps most important question is… What should go on our timeline? The short answer… anything that your student is currently studying that falls within the time period that she is charting. This can be historical events, political figures, artists and musicians, discoveries, inventions, scientists, religious figures and events, literature, great writers, etc. Anything that is worthy of studying is worth recording on the timeline as the timeline gives the snapshot perspective of when things happened and in what order. A related question that pops up is where on the timeline should people be recorded – at their birth, or date of significant achievement? There is no right answer. And a good argument can be made for either alternative or for recording both.

Information can be recorded on timelines by writing events down by hand, drawing pictures, sticking stickers, or gluing on pictures or pre-drawn timeline figures. Again there is no right answer, only personal preference. The greater learning experience would come from drawing pictures and writing captions down by hand. Of course, if this causes frustration and resistance to the project by your students then we have defeated the point. Furthermore, if we as the parents cannot bear the scribble displayed on our walls and will only consent to a wall timeline if it is meticulously done, then prepared timeline figures may be the way to go.

Pictures for your timeline can come from magazine clippings, Google images, clip-art books and CDs. There are companies that have produced historical timeline figures so that you can have everything you need stored in one place for easy retrieval. I am very impressed with the timeline figures drawn by Amy Pak entitled History Through the Ages. She has hand-drawn over 1,620 figures that include captions, ready to cut and paste onto your timeline. Sets are provided for ancient, medieval/renaissance and modern history. They are available as hardcopy sets or on CD-ROM. For more information on timeline figures from History through the Ages, click here for details.

A note on applying pictures or figures onto your timeline: a glue stick is a much better applicator than regular Elmer’s glue. Glue dots work as well, but the edges do not get sealed down very well, leaving the possibility that the figures might get knocked off inadvertently.

Hopefully, the information provided here will arm you with the knowledge and motivation that you need to get started on that timeline project that you have been meaning to get to. Making a timeline with children can be a fun and rewarding experience. A great learning opportunity as well. If you still have questions about how to tackle this task, or feel as though I missed an important aspect of timeline construction, send me an email. I would love to hear from you.

Blessings to you on your educational journey!

Terri Johnson
Knowledge Quest, Inc.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Knowledge Quest and Tapestry of Grace Team Up!

Media Release - July 19, 2005

Knowledge Quest and Tapestry of Grace have teamed up to create a customized map CD that is a big hit with Tapestry of Grace curriculum users.

Here is what Carla in VA has to say...

"I just bought the MapAids CD for Tapestry of Grace Year 2. I LOVE it! This will definitely make my life so much easier since each map is made to fit the weekly geography assignment perfectly. Thank you, Knowledge Quest!"

What makes this CD so special? The information on the maps come straight out of the Tapestry of Grace Teacher's Manual. Where ordinary maps fall short because of not enough information, too much information, or the wrong information, these maps hit the target right on. Tapestry of Grace users will no longer experience the frustration of not finding what they are looking for on their maps.

Map links on the CD are set up by week plans and there is a map for grammar stage students, dialetic and rhetoric stage students, as well as additional overlay maps for those students preparing a transparency atlas for the year.

This project began as a spontaneous idea last fall. Marcia Somerville, the author and creator of Tapestry of Grace, a multi-age history and writing curriculum, approached Terri Johnson, creator of Knowledge Quest maps, to consider a joint venture. Terri would study the Tapestry of Grace teacher's manual, create customized maps and make them available for Tapestry of Grace to sell on their website to their customers. Terri thought it was a great idea, a real win-win situation, and she and Marcia agreed to undertake the project. Nine months later, both companies are excited about the product and thrilled to aid each other in their business/ministry endeavors.

MapAids Year 2, covering medieval history, was published this past April, 2005. MapAids Year 1, the ancient time period, should be ready sometime in September, 2005. Years 3 and 4 will roll out during 2006 according to the plan.

Visit these webpages for more information about Tapestry of Grace MapAids by Knowledge Quest: (click on supplementary products)