Monday, September 8, 2014

7th Grade Week 1: Creation and Celebrating the Sabbath


We eased into our first week, focusing on creation and celebrating the Sabbath as we begin our study of ancient history. Join our 7th grade homeschool adventure as we study Creation to the Greeks and Rome to the Reformation with Mystery of History added in. Here are the highlights from our first week -


We started where history begins, with creation. We studied the 7 days of creation and started a notebook journal with a page for creation.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. - Genesis 1:1

  • Day 1: Light & Darkness / Night & Day
  • Day 2: The Firmament / Heaven
  • Day 3: Seas and Dry Land; Grass, Seed-bearing Herbs, & Fruit Trees
  • Day 4: The Sun, Moon, & Stars
  • Day 5: Sea Creatures & Birds
  • Day 6: Cattle, Creeping Things, Beasts, & Man (male & female)
  • Day 7: God Rested
We discovered it is best to only use the front side of the notebook pages. If you journal on the back it shows through the page. 

Lindsey & I are both creating notebook journals. (It's fun!) We used colored pens to journal with. Lindsey's creation page is on top and mine is underneath.

We  talked about how God created us in his image. That means we are also made to create things. Lindsey drew a self portrait using colored pencils and wrote "made in God's image" on it. 

We also took time for school pictures. I brought an antique school desk up from my dad's basement and took it outside for some fun photos. We also walked down to my aunt and uncle's farm for some nice backgrounds. Here are some of Lindsey's 7th grade pictures -

God rested on the seventh day. We learned about the Sabbath and prepared for our own Sabbath celebration.

Celebrating The Sabbath

We planned decorations and a menu for our Sabbath celebration using the suggestions in Celebrating Biblical Feasts by Martha Zimmerman. Our projects included a Challah cover, oil float stars, and a spice jar. 
We bought a white bandana and fabric markers and Lindsey drew the symbols on the bandana for the Challah cover. We placed newspaper underneath to protect the table from the markers bleeding through. Once the markers are set, the cover is machine washable.

I created a star out of cardstock, and we traced it onto a foil pan and cut out the stars. We traced a small juice glass for our circles, but we substituted craft foam for the cork called for in the instructions. The craft foam worked fine. I bought a pack of tea light candles from the dollar store and removed the wicks to use as the wicks for our stars. 

We recycled an empty yeast jar for our spice jar. I cut a strip of paper to fit around the jar and a circle for the lid. Lindsey drew on them and then we glued them in place. We placed cinnamon, allspice, and cloves inside the jar.

Friday Night Sabbath Dinner

Our menu for Friday night's Sabbath dinner included Challah bread, tossed salad, and homemade chicken soup. 

Lindsey selected this recipe for Challah bread that we found on Pinterest and she followed the instructions and started the bread machine. When the dough was ready I helped her divide it into sections and we rolled them out. Then she braided them into two loaves. We covered them and let them rise, then she brushed them with egg and baked them in the oven. They turned out beautiful!

I cut up the chicken and the onion for the homemade chicken soup, and Lindsey did the rest. She cut up the celery and measured the
frozen vegetables, and added everything to the pot. Then she added the seasonings and stirred it all together.

We followed the instructions in our book for our dinner, including the Bible reading, prayers, candle lighting, father's blessing, hand washing, breaking of bread, and sharing grape juice from the cup that overflowed. There's quite a bit to it, and my family asked a couple times "Can we eat yet?"  Everyone especially enjoyed the bread, it was sooo good!

Sabbath Saturday

On Saturday we dined on pot roast that had been prepared on Friday, then cooked slowly in my crock pot on low. We also had blueberry pie for dessert. The blueberries were fresh from my aunt's garden.

Saturday was too overcast for us to find the first 3 stars in the sky at dusk. We followed the remaining instructions for saying farewell to the Sabbath. Lindsey liked extinguishing the candle in the spilled grape juice and the sweet aroma of the spice jar.

We had also planned to make candle stick salads for our dinner, but I forgot (oops), so Lindsey made them on Sunday for a snack instead. They were easy for her to make and looked great.

Art: Frustration

We read about Joni Eareckson Tada and watched this video about her -

She is so amazing. Lindsey was fascinated and asked "how does she do that?". Then we tried it for ourselves. Holding a colored pencil in our teeth, we tried to draw a butterfly. They turned out better than I expected, but it is very difficult trying to draw with your mouth. (Yes, I tried it too.) We had fun trying it, and it was a great lesson in frustration and not giving up.

Books We Read -

Creation by Gerald McDermott

Annie's Shabbat by Sarah Marwil Lamstein

The Illustrated Book of Myths by Neil Philip

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Homeschool Planning: My Weekly Planner


I found myself using a lot of sticky notes last year during our study of ECC. I didn't want to write in the teachers manual and I like to be able to rearrange things to fit our needs. I like the general grid in the teachers manual, but it doesn't include all our subjects (and has some we don't use). I had seen pages on Pinterest designed for a weekly menu that used sticky notes, and I liked the idea. I decided to create my own planning pages for the upcoming school year.

I designed a 2 page layout with a planning grid on the first page and weekly/daily boxes for sticky notes on the second page. I included a 2014-2015 one page school year calendar at the front. I kept it black & white to keep printing costs down. I can always write with colored pens and highlighters to add color, and use colored sticky notes of coarse :) I labeled the grid pages by week for 36 weeks. I like the flexibility of undated pages and I can add dates when we complete lessons. I can write my plans on sticky notes and rearrange them as needed. When completed, I can remove the sticky note and write what we did on the page for my records.

If you like my weekly planner and want one for yourself, I've made it available for purchase as a PDF download at Teachers Pay Teachers for only $1.75 - here's the link -

The 2014-2015 One Page School Calendar is also available separately as a free download - here's the link -

Happy Planning!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Weeks 31 & 32: Australia and Marsupials

G'day mates! Welcome to our study of Australia.

We enjoyed learning about the land down under. Our highlights include a trip to the Utica Zoo, a fun sewing project, and good food. We also enjoyed trying to hop like kangaroos :)

Fun Food -

We ate kiwis from New Zealand by themselves and in a fruit salad. For lunch one day I surprised Lindsey with a tuna sandwich made to look like a koala with raisins for eyes and sliced kiwi in his hands for eucalyptus leaves.

We had a surf and turf dinner of steak and coconut fried shrimp with steak fries. My Dad grilled the steak on the "barbie". We made Lamingtons for dessert - yummy sponge cake squares covered with chocolate and sprinkled with coconut. We used the Lamington recipe in our Usborne Children's World Cookbook.

Zoology -

We studied marsupials of coarse! We learned all about kangaroos, wallabies, bettongs, potoroos, koalas, wombats, possums, Virginia opossums, sugar gliders, bilbies, bandicoots, marsupial moles, and Tasmanian devils.

We visited the Utica Zoo to see a wallaby, but the wallaby wasn't very active when we were there and we could only see it sitting in it's shelter from a distance. We did see emus up close and they were very vocal, the noises they made surprised us. Watching them feed the sea lions was our favorite part of our visit. We had read about both emus and sea lions in Top To Bottom Down Under by Ted and Betsy Lewin. She got a stuffed wallaby from the zoo gift shop, complete with a joey in it's pouch.

Sewing -

Lindsey created a pouch by cutting the pocket off an old pair of pants and sewing an apron like tie-on waistband to it. Then she sewed and stuffed a fun dot patterned kangaroo to go in the pouch. She drew a face on with a permanent marker. As a bonus, she has plans to use her pouch for holding Nerf darts (arrows) for her bow during archery adventures.

Books We Read -

Top To Bottom Down Under by Ted and Betsy Lewin

Australia by Ann Weil

Australia by Sarah Tieck

Global Cities Sydney by Paul Mason

Marsupials by Nic Bishop

Tasmanian Devils by Ruth Bjorklund

Koala by Dee Phillips

Pocket Babies and Other Amazing Marsupials by Sneed B. Collard III

One Night In The Coral Sea by Sneed B. Collard III

Everything Dolphins by Elizabeth Carney

New Zealand by Ellen Frazel

The Maori Of New Zealand by Steve Theunissen

We also watched Finding Nemo and a few episodes of Wild Kratts.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Weeks 18, 19, & 20: Africa - Kenya, Morocco, Ethiopia, Egypt


We enjoyed a trip to the Binghamton Zoo between our studies of India and Africa. African animals we encountered at the zoo included Meerkats, Ringtailed Lemurs, Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs, Nigerian Dwarf Goats, Emperor Scorpion, Sulcata Tortoise, and African Penguins. In zoology we studied Ungulates and there were several ungulates at the zoo.

Zoology -

We studied Lesson 8: Ungulates & Lesson 9: Artiodactyls while learning about Africa. We learned so much about elephants, horses, zebras, rhinos, tapirs, hippos, giraffes, deer, pigs and more... The animal cut-outs with the slit in the back for facts in the notebook were fun and look great.

We especially enjoyed the giraffe blood pressure experiment. You can read Lindsey's post about it coming soon.

In her notebook, Lindsey created a quiz about Ungulates. There are 12 true/false questions (answers at the bottom of this post) -
1. Some rhinos don't have horns at birth.   True   False
2. All elephants have tusks.   True   False
3. No two zebras have the same stripes.   True   False
4. Mules are donkeys.   True   False
5. Elephants use their tusks to dig.   True   False
6. Ungulates are anything with toes.   True   False
7. A pony is a horse 14.2 feet tall or less.   True   False
8. The ungulates are sorted by odd or even toes.   True   False
9. Hippos are odd-toed ungulates.   True   False
10. Elephants use their proboscis to snorkel.   True   False
11. Deer are even toed ungulates.   True   False
12. My Little Ponies are ungulates.   True   False

Grasslands -

We learned about grassland ecosystems and explored old pasture land and the creek nearby. Lindsey dug up some grass, photographed it, and drew a sketch of it. At the creek we could see exposed tree and grass roots along the banks and we compared them. We learned how different animals eat different grassland plants. We thought it was neat that zebras (and some other animals) eat the top part of the grass and the grass grows back.

Our African Dinner -

We made meat on a stick (kabobs) and plantains from Cooking The East African Way by Bertha Vining Montgomery. We added tomatoes, onion, and peppers to our meat on a stick. The plantains actually taste a lot like potatoes, but were not a big hit. We split and grilled them skin side down and then pealed the skins off. I think they might be better sliced and fried...

We also made peanut bread found in our Usborne Children's World Cookbook. We shelled the peanuts and chopped them up to add to the bread. The bread was okay, but didn't have much flavor to it. I tried some the next day with some jam on it and liked it better that way.

Since most people in Africa don't eat dessert other than fresh fruit, Lindsey said she's glad she doesn't live in Africa.

Art -

Lindsey chose to tie dye a t-shirt and it turned out fabulous! She used turquoise dye and used the large laundry sink in the basement for her workspace. She has plans to create some more tie dye clothing in the near future.

Gardening -

We learned about farming and agriculture in Africa. The recommended activity was to plant sweet potatoes, but we decided to plant peas instead. Lindsey did a great job planting them and about a week later they began to sprout.

Books We Read -

Gorillas by Patricia Miller-Schroeder

Big Cats by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Madagascar by Ettagale Blauer

Elephants of Africa by Gail Gibbons

20 Fun Facts About Hippos by Therese Shea

Zarafa: The Giraffe Who Walked To The King by Judith St. George

Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales by Nelson Mandela (editor)

The Lion's Whiskers: An Ethiopian Folktale by Nancy Raines Day

Honey, Honey - - Lion!: A Story Of Africa by Jan Brett

We're From Egypt: Welcome To Egypt by Victoria Parker

Kenya by Michael Dahl

Uganda by Robert Barlas

Cooking The East African Way by Bertha Vining Montgomery

A Pride Of East African Tales by Donna L. Washington

Ungulate Quiz Answers -

1. False
2. False
3. True
4. False
5. True
6. False
7. True
8. True
9. False
10. True
11. True
12. True

Friday, May 2, 2014

Weeks 23 & 24: India


Welcome to our study of India! Since we were moving, we condensed India into one week. It helped that my daughter had already studied Amy Carmichael when she was attending Christian school. We reviewed by reading about her in Hero Tales, but skipped reading the book.

Zoology -

Between our studies of India and Africa, we visited The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park. The tigers were one of the highlights of our visit. There were two tigers, one was sleeping but the other kept walking around and came right up to the glass where we could see him up close.

We also saw Snow Leopards, an Amur Leopard, and a Cougar. This was great for reviewing what we learned earlier in the year about big cats.

During this week we studied Lesson 6: Primarily Primates in our zoology book. We were able to see several primates at the zoo including Golden Lion Tamarins, Ringtail Lemurs, Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs, and Black Howler Monkeys.

Volcano Experiment -

Lindsey created a model volcano using playdoh using a glass bottle underneath and some crumpled newspaper to help give it shape. After the model was complete, she but baking soda and red food coloring inside the glass bottle. We took it outside and then she added vinegar to make the volcano erupt with lava. What kid doesn't want to make a volcano erupt? This was a fun experiment!

Our Indian Dinner -

We found some Jalfrezi Indian cooking sauce at our grocery store & decided to give it a try. We cooked some chicken tenders in a skillet; added frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots;  stirred it all together with the sauce; then served it over rice. It was a little spicy, but not bad. Everyone liked it okay (even my Dad), but we probably wouldn't go out of our way to make it again. It was a good introduction to the tastes of India.

Books We Read -

A Taste Of India by Roz Denny

India by Erin Pembrey Swan

Once A Mouse... : A Fable Cut In Wood by Marcia Brown

Living In India by Anne Singh

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weeks 21 & 22: Saudi Arabia


Welcome to our study of Saudi Arabia! We were packing and getting ready to move, so I didn't take pictures as usual. The camel above is a photo from an earlier visit to Aloha Safari Zoo. We also condensed this study into a week (and a half) instead of two full weeks.

Science -

We learned about pollution, conservation, endangered species, and deserts. We learned about natural pollution vs. man-made pollution, acid rain, greenhouse effect, and ways to reduce pollution. We looked at why species become endangered and how they can be protected. We talked about why camels hooves are well suited for walking through desert sand. Then we experimented with pushing a pencil into sand vs. pushing a quarter into it. The larger flat foot doesn't sink into the sand.

In zoology we looked at Lesson 13: Arthropods of the Land. Scorpions and Spiders were not our favorite animals to study and with our crazy schedule we were happy to just focus on the highlights in the notebook review questions and crossword puzzles.

Books We Read -

The Arabian Horse by Gail B. Stewart

Camels by Cherie Winner

The Red Sea and Persian Gulf

Aladdin And The Magic Lamp by Deborah Hautzig

Take A Trip To Saudi Arabia by Keith Lye

Saudi Arabia by Ann Heinrichs

Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves by Ali Baba

Sindbad : from the tales of the thousand and one nights by Ludmila Zeman

The Book Of Wonders by Jasmine Richards

We also watched the Disney Aladdin movies for fun.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Weeks 27 & 28: Japan


Konnichiwa! Welcome to our study of Japan.

We packed a lunch & some library books, and visited a Japanese garden. We enjoyed seeing the cherry blossoms and the koi pond as we walked through the garden. We sat in the pagoda to read our books and were surprised to find a sculpture in Yoko's Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells, just like the one in front of us!

We decided to visit a Japanese restaurant for dinner. There were ceramic neko cats, red bamboo, and rice paper screens to greet us. We ordered teriyaki chicken with vegetables & rice and shrimp tempura. We even ate it using only chopsticks! Everything was delicious :)

Art -

Lindsey really liked creating origami. She went through all the paper that came with our book, so we bought more at the craft store and checked out more origami books from the library. She made everything from animals, to paper cups (yes, you can drink from them), and even an origami piano for her piano teacher.

We made Japanese bookmark dolls and Lindsey added toothpicks as chopsticks in her dolls hair. We followed instructions in this tutorial found at Ballpoint Bliss -
Lindsey also made the Kokeshi doll found at Activity Village -

We painted cherry blossoms, blowing through straws to paint the branches, using instructions found at A Faithful Attempt -

Then we created a zen garden using a candy box spray painted with black chalkboard paint for the container. We all took turns creating patterns in the sand and rearranging the stones. We found ideas for patterns to create online and fun creating our own.

Home-Ec -

Lindsey sewed a kimono for her American Girl doll, Felicity. She recycled a pair of pajama pants that had a panda pattern on them for the fabric. For the obi, she used wide satin ribbon. It turned out super cute!

Of coarse, Felicity needed chopsticks too. She followed this tutorial at Doll It Up to make chopsticks -

Instead of toothpicks, she used wooden skewers that she cut down to AG doll size. She wrapped panda print washi tape on the ends.

We read about Japanese tea ceremonies and watched a video about them. Then we had our own version of a Japanese tea ceremony with hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies. We created a kimono for Lindsey using my bathrobe with a silk scarf tied around the waist. Then she put her hair up with a flower clip to complete the look. We spread a square tablecloth on the floor and she served our "tea".

Science -

We studied ocean ecosystems and since I had a field trip to the beach and aquarium planned we also moved up the study of coral reefs (We'll study marsupials with Australia instead). After learning about different types of coral, Lindsey used modeling clay to create a diorama of a coral reef and added origami fish.

At the aquarium she got to see everything we studied close up! We visited Ripley's Aquarium at Myrtle Beach, SC and then spent some time on the beach building a sand castle and decorating it with shells we collected, relaxing, drawing and flying a kite.

Lindsey really liked the touch tanks at the aquarium. She was able to touch doctor fish, bamboo sharks, horseshoe crabs, and stingrays! We also loved the tunnel where sharks, sea turtles, saw fish, and other fish swam overhead as we walked through. It was awesome to get such an up close look at them. Here are some photos that highlight our field trip -

Writing -

We read several haiku poems and learned about their structure and history. Using our field trip as inspiration we wrote our own poems. Lindsey wrote a haiku about the doctor fish that she encountered in the touch tank at the aquarium. I wrote a tanka poem about Lindsey flying a kite at the beach. Hope you enjoy our poems:

Shiny, open-mouthed
doctor fish swarm and tickle
my wet submerged hand.

                          by Lindsey Tefft

Gentle waves roll in.
She runs on sand, string in hand.
Wind blows through her hair.
Colors sail on the warm breeze
while tails wave and dance behind.

                         by Wendy Tefft

Books We Read -

Origami, Plain and Simple by Robert E. Neale

Step-By-Step Origami by Paul Jackson

Black Swan/White Crow by J. Patrick Lewis

Cats Of Myth : Tales From Around The World by Gerald Hausman

More Cricket Songs. Japanese Haiku by Harry Behn

Cricket Never Does : A Collection Of Haiku And Tanka by Myra Cohn Livingston

Sam Samurai by Jon Scieszka

Dragon Of The Red Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne

Sadako And The Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

If I Lived In Japan-- by Rosanne Knorr

Men From The Village Deep In The Mountains by Garrett, Molly

A Taste Of Japan by Jenny Ridgwell

Sea Turtles : Ocean Nomads by Mary M. Cerullo

Coral Reef by Kate Scarborough

Awesome Ocean Science! : Investigating The Secrets Of The Underwater World by Cindy A. Littlefield

Japanese Celebrations : Cherry Blossoms, Lanterns And Stars! by Betty Reynolds

The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel

Yoko's Paper Cranes by Rosemary Wells

If Not For The Calico Cat by Mary Blount Christian

Tea with milk by Allen Say

Monday, March 17, 2014

Weeks 25 & 26: China

Welcome to our study on China!

We had fun playing Chinese Checkers while learning more about China. We also like Chinese food and ate it for lunch several days during our study. Aldi's had a good selection including sweet & sour chicken, mini egg rolls, different packages of rice and noodles, and even little cookies with pandas on them :) I also bought some frozen chinese vegetables and made stir fry for dinner one night. We got out the dragon Lindsey made for Chinese New Year, and our Chinese lanterns decorated the table.

Art -

Some of our library books had Chinese characters and their meanings, and we looked some up online. Lindsey practiced writing them and pronouncing them. Then we made Chinese lanterns from construction paper and used markers to decorate them with pictures and Chinese characters.

Science -

We had fun with the salt water experiments. After learning about the Dead Sea, we took 2 bowls and filled one with fresh water and one with salt water. We placed an egg in each bowl to see if it would sink or float. The egg sunk to the bottom completely submerged in the fresh water. The egg in the salt water floated with part of it rising above the surface of the water due to the salt water being denser.

We made salt crystals. We started by boiling water then adding salt until it wouldn't dissolve anymore. Then we poured it into a mason jar and hung a string weighted with a paper clip from a pencil across the top of the jar. We placed it in a sunny window and checked it each day. As the water evaporated cube shaped salt crystals formed.

Field Trip -

Since bicycles are a popular form of transportation in China, I took Lindsey to the park with a trail she could ride her bike on. There was a lot of bamboo growing along the trail. To our good fortune, there was a Chinese family with twin babies at the park and we talked to them a little while we were resting in the shade. We also heard them speaking Chinese to each other.

Books We Read -

We read Gladys Aylward every night before bed, and this has been our favorite missionary book so far. Her determination to reach the people of china was incredible! Parts of the book held us in suspense and others made us laugh - a very good read.

We also found several great books at the library including a childhood favorite of mine,
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack.

Panda Rescue : changing the future for endangered wildlife by Dan Bortolotti

Chinese Fables : The Dragon Slayer and other timeless tales of wisdom by Shiho S. Nunes

The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy

Eyewitness China by Poppy Sebag-Montefiore

Dream-of-Jade : The Emperor's Cat by Lloyd Alexander

The Art Of China by Shirley Glubok

Tibet : Through The Red Box by Peter Sis

The Emperor And The Kite by Jane Yolen

Hong Kong by Wendy B. Murphy

Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth

Lin Yi's Lantern : A Moon Festival Tale by Brenda Williams

A Taste Of China by Roz Denny

Lon Po Po : A Red-Riding Hood Story From China by Ed Young

Traditional Crafts From China by Florence Temko

Daisy Comes Home by Jan Brett

Cloud Tea Monkeys by Mal Peet

Inside China by Ian James

Other Media -

The Butterfly Lovers [compact disc] ; Three Chinese violin pieces. by Zhanhao He

5000 years of magnificent wonders. World wonders beyond time [DVD]

Wild China (watched on Netflix)

The Dragon Pearl

Kung Fu Panda

We also watched Disney's Mulan and Mulan 2.

We watched this Geography of China video on Youtube: