• Graduation Party Part Three: Having Fun and Cleanup Tips

    By Vicki Tillman on 22 April 2014 / High School, News / 0 Comment

    Today is part three of graduation party advice from our sage sister, Allison. If you get the details down, you can relax and have a good time at your homeschooler's graduation party!

    I'm looking forward to applying her advice at my youngest's get-together this June!

    Here it is:Graduation Party How-to's: Have Fun and Cleanup Tips

    Have a good time: Remember, this is a celebration.  The point is for you and your guests to feel comfortable and enjoy yourselves. 

    If any plans make you feel too stressed, find an easier way:

    -Buy deli trays

    -Have the whole event catered

    -Just have beverages, chips, and dessert

    There are no rules to follow, just suggestions to help you plan your own personalized event.

    Graduation Party How-to's Part Three: Have Fun and Cleanup TipsTrash: Make sure you have large trash cans located in several obvious spots.  Make it easy for your guests to clean up after themselves.

    If you are going the canned drink route for your beverages, also have recycle cans next to the trash cans.  Be sure to clearly label these so you don’t have to sort through the trash later.

     Cleanup: Don't turn down any offers of help! Have a prepared list of cleanup duties on hand and you can quickly delegate when the offers come. Also include a list of borrowed items and where they are to be stored until returning them.

    Now it is time to pray, pray, pray for the graduate and what happens next! Our prayer journals can help keep you on task ($2.49 for a 30-day 7 Sisters Prayer Journals: 30-day interactive, guided prayer experiencesinteractive, guided prayer experience).

  • Graduation Party Part Two: Drinks, Delegating, and Set-up

    By Vicki Tillman on 21 April 2014 / News / 0 Comment

    Day Two of How to Throw a Graduation Party!

    I am getting ready for my son's graduation party! Good thing for me that our sister, Allison, is an expert in the party-prep details that drive me bonkers. Here are her thoughts for today:   Graduation Party Part Two: How to Handle Drinks, Delegating,and Set-up

    Beverages: If you are looking mainly for convenience, cans of soda and tea and water bottles are the way to go.

    You will need to line up extra coolers or plastic bins in which to put ice and the cans.  Again, you can keep extras cooling in the fridge (if you have room) and refill your cooler/bin as it empties.  The main drawback to this choice is the cost.  You will spend more buying individual servings of beverages and some may be wasted as guests pick up a can and only drink half.
    Another option is making large batches of iced tea and lemonade and serving them in large beverage servers. You can use the old standard “cooler” style servers which hold several gallons and keep the contents cold.  A prettier option is the newer 3 gallon beverage servers with pour spout.  You might not want to invest in these for one event, but if you host Graduation Party Part Two: How to Handle Drinks, Delegating, and Set-upa lot of parties at your house they are definitely worth it.  You might also ask friends if they own one.  Most people are happy to share an item like this that they only used periodically.

    Delegating: Drinks are something that can easily be delegated. You can ask a helpful family member or friend to purchase the beverages and bring them.  No prep is needed so it is a relatively easy way for someone to pitch in and help.

    Set Up: The best plan for setting up your food tables will depend primarily on your setting.  Pick the area which works best with the size and configuration of your home and property.

    Whenever possible it’s best to keep the food indoors, or at least in a screened area. Otherwise you will have to contend with bugs helping themselves to your dishes.  Also, keeping the food indoors on a hot day decreases concerns about spoilage.

    It’s helpful to have the drinks located away from the food tables.  Many guests will be getting drinks throughout the party and they need to have access without getting in the way of those who are getting their food.

    Allison getting ready for the party

    Think like a guest: Try to arrange food, plates, plastic ware, and drinks to make it easy for guests to get what they want, carry it, and find a spot to eat it.

    One trick I have found very helpful goes against the standard buffet arrangement.  Place the napkins and plastic/silverware AFTER the food dishes. This way guests don’t have to juggle all of these items while serving themselves.  This also avoids wasting plastic/silverware.  (Guests will only take what they need if they come to these items after they have their food.  If they must pick up their silverware first, they have to assume that they will need everything - fork, spoon, knife - even if they do not.)Career Exploration: Looking for God's leading and God-given talents and experiences

    Of course, the most important part of your homeschooler graduating is that he/she's...GRADUATING! What comes next?! Need a refresher in Career Exploration (especially seeking God's leading, noticing God-given gifts and experiences)? This is the guide we use with our kids (I created it out of my experiences as homeschool advisor and professional counselor.)


  • Graduation Party Part One: How to Plan Ahead

    By Vicki Tillman on 21 April 2014 / High School, News / 0 Comment

    Our sister, Allison, is the queen of pulling off big events: like graduation parties.

    This year my youngest graduates high school, so I've already  been reviewing her classic post on how to throw a graduation party. I'll be sharing her helpful classic posts for the next few days:Graduation Party How-to's Part One

    Tis the season to go to grad parties.  As I prepare to host my third and final high school graduation party, I was asked by a friend (who is on her first) for some ideas.  There are many ways of doing a big celebratory event like a graduation party, but the task can be daunting, especially if you have never done anything like this before.  I’ve compiled some of the ideas and tips that I’ve discovered by trial and error.  I hope they help you.

    Plan ahead: Make what you can ahead of time - Cook pork for pulled pork, ham, or  turkey days or even weeks ahead and freeze.  Do the same if you are having Italian dishes like baked ziti or lasagna.

    Prepare for bad weather: Have room inside, in the garage, or under a tent in case of rain.

    Graduation Party How-to's Part One: Practical Tips for planning that big event!Equipment:

    -Use large electric roasters or steam pans for hot foods (meatballs for sandwiches, ziti or lasagna, pulled pork for sandwiches, turkey or ham).

    -Keep cold foods on ice by filling larger containers with ice and placing the bowls of food inside them.  Lids to catering trays work well for this as well as baskets with plastic liners.

    -Borrow large coolers to keep foods in if you cannot fit them all in your fridge, or ask a neighbor if you can stash extras in their fridge.

    Serving: If you are having an open house and people will be arriving over a long period of time and eating as they come, put smaller bowls of food out and refill periodically.Graduation Party How-to's: Practical tips for planning that big event!

    Dessert: A cake is a beautiful and expected centerpiece for a party, but if people are not arriving and eating all at the same time, guests will either miss the chance to eat any or miss the chance to see the decorated cake uncut.  Consider cookies, brownies, or other single serve treats alone or in addition to the decorated cake.

    Stay tuned tomorrow for LOTS of details on beverages and cleanup.

    Career Exploration: Looking for God's leading and God-given talents and experiencesIs your senior suffering from jitters about college major or career choices? It is a COMMON thing. Help assure them about next steps with a quick review of their skills and God's callings with our inspirational Career Exploration Workbook.

    Is your senior worried about academics for college? Here are tips on how to succeed, garnered from years  of collecting advice from homeschool graduates.

    Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

  • Homeschool Fun for High School pt. 6 - Business Writing with a Twist

    By Sabrina Justison on 19 April 2014 / High School, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing, News / 0 Comment

    This series has been all about finding ways to keep the fun in our high school homeschools. Today we look at business and technical writing.

    I've been teaching a Business and Technical Writing class at our homeschool day-school this year (look for the curriculum to be available in our Ebookstore by July 2014!), and we discovered that these types of writing exercises can be laugh-out-loud-'til-your-sides-hurt fun if you do 'em up right.

    Business letters, resumes, meeting minutes, proposals and the like are all about the format. So why not get a little creative with the content?

    busltr graphicIn the last year I have seen:

    * meeting minutes from an imaginary meeting of super-villains making plans to take over the Justice League

    * cover letters from job applicants hoping to be hired to test mattresses ("significant experience sleeping")

    * a business letter to Santa explaining that the small horse he left on Christmas was not actually the PONY the writer had specified wanting.

    Are you including Business and Technical Writing in your high school Language Arts plan?

    If not, you should! This type of writing is used by people in all walks of life to accomplish tasks that must be handled. I'm excited to see my one-quarter curriculum published here at 7Sisters this summer in time for you to use it for the coming school year!

    If you're already using a curriculum and finding it a bit dry, why not spice things up with some imagination?

    We can all use a little more laughter!


  • Homeschool Fun for High School pt. 5 - APA Research Papers (I'm not kidding!)

    By Sabrina Justison on 18 April 2014 / High School, Humor, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing, News / 0 Comment

    Do any of you have high school homeschool students who say, "I want to do something FUN this weekend; may I write a research paper, please??"

    If you do, this post probably isn't for you.

    If, instead, the idea of an APA-style research paper writing assignment bringing a smile to your teen's face seems like a Twilight Zone episode, read on!

    APA style papers are divided into topics with headingsVicki Tillman has written an introductory guide to research paper writing following APA style guidelines. You can find it here in our ebookstore. A few years ago, my son wrote a 10-page paper using her guide, and the topic for his paper was an imaginary country! Granted, there is no real research to be done when one writes a paper on an imaginary country, but if what your teen needs most is practice writing according to very particular style rules and formats, this can be a great way to get the job done and have fun at the same time.

    I talked with some homeschool friends recently who took on a similar writing project and imagined a country where the people groups were named for various muscles in the human body. One of the teen boys who is really into body-building told me that there were two primary classes of people in their country - the Triceps and the Biceps. The Triceps were the workers, the backbone of society, the responsible and diligent citizens. The Biceps were the "pretty boys" who looked good but didn't really get much actual work done.

    Adorable! I laughed so hard!

    People groups decided, the kids were working on the topography of their land (I imagine it's not a flat terrain...probably has lots of bulk and definition), the languages (lots of grunting, perhaps?), the weather (warm enough to break a sweat, no doubt), the history, the government, the economy, the arts, and so forth. Since an APA style paper is divided into sections with headings instead of the transitions required in an MLA paper, it lends itself neatly to this exercise. Inventing your sources so that you can correctly cite them is another fun activity in itself!

    Certainly using Vicki's guide to write a true research paper about a topic that can actually BE researched is ideal. But if your student's needs would best be met by forgoing the research this time around and focusing on the style and format, following the directions to a T, why not get a little goofy and invent a topic instead?

    Practice APA style even on an imaginary topic!Have you looked at the excerpts from Vicki's guide in our ebookstore?

    Take a moment and see how friendly and fun it is!


  • Homeschool Fun for High School pt. 4 - Busting Myths and Learning Trivia

    By Sabrina Justison on 17 April 2014 / Foreign Language, High School, Humor, News, Social Studies & More / 0 Comment

    Is the Caesar Salad named for Julius Caesar? Or did he invent it? Did the Ancient Romans even EAT salads?

    And so begins a fun learning experience for a Latin class that's tiring of chanting amo - amas - amat - amamus - amatis - amant!

    Ancient Roman cakes make homeschool Latin funI recently hosted a Latin Feast for my Latin I and II students in our homeschool day-school where they study the language together in small classes once a week. We use a traditional text (I like Glencoe's Latin for Americans), but we also try to supplement with fun stuff that will keep them interested when the conjugating gets old. While we ate foods that would traditionally be served at a dinner table in ancient Rome, we also dug into some trivia and busted a couple of myths.

    In case you're wondering, the Caesar Salad has nothing whatsoever to do with Julius Caesar, or any ancient Roman for that matter. It was named for a restauranteur and originated in Mexico in the 1920s. The ancient Romans DID however, eat salad regularly.

    We explored the idea of the ancient Roman vomitorium.

    C'mon, don't look horrified. You've all heard about how the Romans would stuff themselves at a feast, then go into a special room to...ahem...MAKE ROOM for second or third helpings.

    And that room is called a vomitorium, right? Let's decline it. 2nd declension, neuter. Vomitorium, vomitorii, vomitorio, vomitorium, vomitorio.

    Except that's kinda-sorta a myth.

    Is my grandson Jackson wishing he could find a quick exit via the vomitorium? (He actually loves carrots once they get IN his mouth.)

    Is my grandson Jackson wishing he could find a quick exit via the vomitorium?

    Vomitorium is indeed a Latin word (2nd declension, neuter). But it refers to the tunnels or alleyways that were built to allow for the rapid exit of huge numbers of people from a stadium or other large public place. The poor unwashed would "spew out" of these exits so that the fancy, wealthy folk could make a grand exits in style without waiting behind the little people.

    So did the Romans slip quietly out of the dining hall for a few moments to "MAKE ROOM" for seconds and thirds? Probably. They went to the bathroom, which had no special name related to spewing of any kind. (And so, apparently, did citizens of many ancient cultures. A feast meant a feast, and you ate for hours and hours in order to avoid insulting the host, and sometimes you got full.)

    I hope you're laughing and not turning green! I know that my high school Latin students were delighted to go on this trivia quest and myth-busting adventure with me!

    What trivia and myth-busting adventures can you go on to keep your homeschool fun?


    kym at conventionComing Summer 2014 to our Ebookstore: Fun and Games with Foreign Language from 7Sister Kym Smythe! Keep an eye out for it. Kym has years of experience creating wonderful games to help students master foreign languages.

  • Homeschool Fun for High School pt. 3 - Consumer Math Games

    By Sabrina Justison on 16 April 2014 / Electives, High School, Math & Economics, News / 1 Comment

    Paying bills in real life is not a lot of fun. But practicing the skills you will need to pay real bills later can be a lot of fun for high school students.

    Our homeschool co-op has been tackling Consumer Math and Economics this year, and we used Alpha-Omega LifePacs and PaceMaker Economics (Globe Fearon) for the foundation of our curriculum, but some of the best learning has actually happened during the supplemental game playing we added to keep the class fun.

    There are lots of online resources to help teens learn about money management, and these are some sites you might want to check out for supplementing your curriculum:

    Practical Money Skills for Life - Financial Literacy for Everyone has articles, games, different types of calculators and videos among their free resources.

    TeenDollars.org is the online business of Reading High School in Ohio. The "For Students" tab there has lots of simulation games to try. The "For Teachers" tab has free lesson plans, plus links to more games and resources.

    Old fashioned board games and online simulators make Consumer Math FUN for teensIn addition to online resources, we played old-school board games like Life and Monopoly immediately after learning about the financial literacy concepts that show up in those games. We also laughed really, really hard!

    When my son Jonah offered to "help out" another player by "adopting" his kid (he bought him!) in a game of Life, it became one of the greatest running gags of our co-op year. Whenever Connor does something wonderful at co-op and one of the moms applauds him for it, the other kids say, "Yeah, sure, Connor's great...but don't forget he SOLD his kid to Jonah!" 

    There's lots of silliness involved, but there's also real learning. The idea that raising kids is expensive looks one way when you are the kid who's being told, "Sorry, we can't afford it right now." It looks very different when you are playing Life and find you have no money to put toward college for your plastic-peg children!

    The concept of wisely spending money in order to make money becomes very concrete when you are playing Monopoly, carefully saving your dough, only to see your friend sweep a win by recklessly building hotels on every property.

    What are some games you can add to your homeschool to learn financial literacy and maintain the FUN?

    Career ExplorationAnother piece of preparing for responsible adulthood is Career Exploration. Vicki's etext is a guided, practical workbook that takes teens through an exploration of their gifts and interests, their struggles and personality quirks, and helps them find careers that might be a good fit. Click here to check out Career Exploration in our ebookstore. There's also a FREE questionnaire you can download to get you started thinking about the years to come in the work force!

  • Homeschool Fun for High School pt. 2 - Essay Topics (really!)

    By Sabrina Justison on 15 April 2014 / High School, Lang. Arts - Lit. & Writing, News / 0 Comment

    Essay writing is so important. High school students do well to write lots of essays. But very few teens I know think of essay writing as one of the FUN things they do in high school. Here are some ideas to put the fun in that will keep them writing diligently.

    Fun topics for high school essay writingGoofy topics still require sound reasoning and good writing. Let your teen compare and contrast 2 silly things like Batman and Superman or salty vs. sweet snacks.

    Time to write a literary analysis essay? Let your teen pick a little kid's book like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish or Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom.

    Persuasive essays really lend themselves to fun topics. If your teen was given permission to try to persuade you of ANYthing without getting in trouble, what might he or she pick? Even if you have said, "No more about it! You may NOT have a pet alligator!!" allow your child to write a persuasive essay on the topic and see how much effort goes into the assignment.

    When you are preparing your student to take the SAT or to write essays under time pressure, try cooperating with friends and plan a practice-essay day. Yes, they will have to sit around the table and write two timed essays, but in between they can have lunch together, play a game, or do some other fun project. If you couple the hard stuff with some fun, they will be more likely to put their hearts into the tough part.

    Has your teen read any good essays? Sometimes I find that high school students believe the essay to be merely a tool for torturing young people during their academic careers, and don't realize that essay-writing is truly an honorable form of written expression. Read some famous essays (satirical ones are particularly fun, in my opinion) and discuss what qualities about them are inspiring or challenging or irritating. Just search online for famous essays...there are oodles of 'em!

    Essay Writing is fun when you choose topics wiselyFor a great series of Essay Writing Guides from Marilyn Groop, click here to visit the ebookstore.

    Middle School Essay, Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced Essay Writing Guides, comfortably priced at $6.99 each, break the essay-writing process into manageable steps, and don't lose sight of the fun factor.

  • Homeschool Fun for High School pt. 1 - Using Prezi for Geography

    By Sabrina Justison on 14 April 2014 / High School, News, Social Studies & More / 0 Comment

    Use Prezi free online software to make Geography homeschool fun in high schoolHomeschool fun isn't just for the little guys. High School learning should still be a blast!

    This year our co-op added fun to our study of World Geography by dedicating our Spring semester to student-researched topics from around the world, presented to the group using free Prezi presentation software online. The students evaluated each other's work on rubrics each meeting.

    5 Things That Made This Fun For Us:

    1. High school students are often a bit...weary of listening to their moms teach them stuff. They liked taking the reins. Here's a link to the sample Prezi I made to show them all the program and how our work would be planned for the Spring semester.

    2. Using technology feels necessary to most teens. They have grown up in a digital world. Learning via tech is natural for them.

    3. Rotating responsibilities meant that each kid had "easy weeks" and "hard weeks," and they all really respected their classmates' presentations when they knew it had been a "hard week" for that kid.

    4. They taught each other tech tricks while they taught each other Geography. When one discovered how to do cool animations in his presentation, the others all went, "Ooo! How did you make it do that?" and an impromptu tech training session happened then and there. So much better than seeing, "Learn to use animations in Prezi" on the syllabus.

    5. Peer pressure is sometimes a really good thing. One week my son put forth sub-par effort. Okay, that's an understatement. He totally threw something together last-minute and it looked like it. Instead of mom giving him the evil eye, sighing, and launching into a lecture, he had to face the evaluation of his friends on their rubrics. When his lame Prezi ended, they lovingly said, "Dude, really? You can do better." And next week his presentation was a zillion times improved!

    coop-1314We blogged a bit in our co-op last fall (not as often as I intended to, of course...) and you can find us here if you like:

    High School Geography and Economics - Homeschool Co-Op Learning at Its Best!

    How have you used technology to add some fun to high school homeschooling?

    World History and PhilosophyHere's an absolutely UNIQUE curriculum resource for studying World History. Why not study it from the perspective of the IDEAS that shaped cultures? Vicki Tillman and Dr. Micah Tillman's World History and Philosophy does just that. My son used this etext last year and really loved it. It inspired him to want to dig deeper into Philosophy (he's taking a follow-up course this year) even as he learned about the history of the world. Check it out here!

  • Simple as Straws! Fun Way to Teach Place Value for Homeschool Kids

    By Vicki Tillman on 11 April 2014 / Elementary, Math & Economics, News / 0 Comment

    Simple as straws! When you want to work on place value with your elementary homeschooler, try Wayne Thorp's excellent hands-on project! Wayne is a math specialist (and Sister Allison's husband).

    Simple as Straws: Hands-on Place Value Project for Homeschool Elementary kids

    Helping a child get a grasp on place value is as important as understanding that specific arrangements of specific letters make words. Having just ten symbols (0 – 9) with infinite (literally) possible arrangements, a firm grasp on the concept of value being dependent on placement is imperative. How to teach such a vital concept? Simple as straws!

    This activity can be done by an individual child or a group of children.

    1. Gather several hundred (yes, 1000+) of any common household object. Drinking straws, craft sticks, and coffee stirrers work best. And a handful of rubber bands in various sizes.

    2. Dump all the objects into the center of the workspace. Have the student(s) estimate how many are there.

    3. Bundle groups of ten objects and band them together. Chat during this (long) section of the activity about what comes in groups of tens (fingers, toes) and how, when writing numbers, whenever we get to a new group of ten, something happens.

    Simple as straws! Fun hands-on place value project for homeschool elementary kids4. Once all bundles have been made (make sure there are some NOT bundled) talk about how many groups of tens there are. Show how those groups are named and recorded: 1 group is called ten and written 10; 2 groups are called twenty and written 20; and so on and so on.

    5. Ask what happens once we get to ten groups of ten. Bundle ten groups together and give its name (if your child has not figured out that it is one hundred).

    6. Put this hundred group together with some of the individual groups of ten and name and write these group (1 group of one hundred and three groups of ten are named one hundred thirty and written 130; and so on and so on). Make a group which includes the hundred bundle, some tens and some unbundled objects for naming and writing as well.

    Wayne and Allison at their daughter's homeschool graduation (long after learning place value) :)

    Wayne and Allison at their daughter's homeschool graduation (long after learning place value) :)

     7.Bundle another group of ten tens for a second hundred. Repeat the activities in the previous paragraph. Proceed to bundle more groups of tens into hundreds until ten groups of hundred are made. Then bundle, give the name one thousand, and repeat the above paragraph’s activities making sure you name and record the numbers for each grouping.

    Social Skills for ChildrenThis activity can certainly be broken up into a multi-day event. Keep all the bundles, they come in handy when one is counting into the hundreds and are a vital visual for adding and subtracting numbers which require regrouping!

    One of our most popular books for parents homeschooling elementary children is our Social Skills for Children. This $3.99 downloadable ebook includes 10 activities for learning important social skills that build confidence and grace in children.


    Speaking of place value, here's Sabrina's vlog on Place Value:

    AND Don't forget Dr. Gerald R. Culley's FREE apologetics curriculum! Download it today!

Back to top