Free Math 7 Worksheets

The name is straightforward, and so is the website. Free Math 7 Worksheets has a good assortment math worksheets. For homeschoolers who use Singapore Math, various worksheets fit with level 4, 5 and 6 books.

The website includes worksheets, including keys, for the following areas:

  • Operations on Real Numbers
  • Order of Operations
  • Integers
  • Exponents
  • Percents, Fractions & Decimals
  • Angles
  • Area and Perimeter
  • Volume and Surface Area
  • Rates, Ratios & Proportions
  • Solving Equations
  • Graphing

An additional section includes tests for much of the above. Worksheets (and tests) are available in both PDF and DOC (MS Word) formats, giving teachers  flexibility to alter the worksheets as needed.

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Westcott iPoint Manual Pencil Sharpener

Wescott iPoint #15088 comes in grey (shown) and green

I am not a fan of electric pencil sharpeners. I don’t like the idea of having to spend the money replacing batteries. Over the years, we’ve tried a number of manual pencil sharpeners with disappointing results. They “ate” the pencils, broke the lead before getting it anywhere near a point, sharpened unevenly, dulled quickly, and/or generally caused frustration.

My search is finally over with the discovery of the Westcott iPoint Model #15088. The Westcott 15088 boasts titanium blades, a vacuum mount (as well as a screw mount option), see-through shavings holder, and a multi-pencil dial. At just under $40 at (as of this writing), it’s reasonably priced, too.

In our house wall space is a premium (covered, of course, by book shelves, timelines, and an assortment of school projects), so the vacuum mount was very appealing. But, I was skeptical; I’ve had mostly bad experiences with vacuum-mounted appliances. So, the vacuum mount was the first thing I tested. First, I attached it to a window. It worked great. I sharpened a dozen pencils with absolutely no slippage. Next, I decided to try the wood tabletop. It worked there as well.

So far, so good. The next test was how well it sharpened pencils. Some of the reviews reported that it sharpens off-center; this definitely would be a show-stopper. The first pencil I sharpened was off-center. I tried a second. Off-center. By now, I was contemplating sending it back, but decided to troubleshoot it before going through the hassle of boxing it up. I’m very glad I did.

The key seems to be the direction of pressure put on the pencil while holding it. I discovered that when I sharpen a pencil, I put a slight side-to-side pressure on the pencil, pulling it toward me. This misaligned the pencil in the sharpener. Pencils are sharpened “on-center” if there is no side-to-side pressure (i.e. the only pressure on the pencil is straight in) or any side-to-side pressure on the pencil is toward the vacuum mount. Side-to-side pressure in any other direction causes it to sharpen off-center. This will take a little getting used to, but it is definitely do-able.

Removal of the shavings holder is straightforward if not easy. Reattachment is a bit more challenging. Getting the slots and tabs realigned required some work, but with a bit of practice, I think it’ll become easier.

Lastly, the quality of the pencil point is outstanding. I’d forgotten what it was like to have a properly sharpened pencil. I went around the house collecting pencils just so I could sharpen them. I’m so excited about finally finding our last pencil sharpener, I may mention it in our Christmas letter! (OK, maybe not.)

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Mesopotamia @ The British Museum on-line

Finding good material on Mesopotamia proved to be a real challenge. There’s a fair amount of the usual dry history resources out there, but history in general, and the history of the Fertile Crescent is particular, is much too interesting to present as a dry list of names, dates, facts and figures. Mesopotamia at The British Museum on-line provides a good resource to make the history of the cradle of civilization come alive.

The website is organized first into sections covering information common to different Mesopotamian civilizations: geography; god, goddesses, demons and monsters; timeline; and writing. The site is then broken into more specific items relating to the dominant political force: for Sumer, the Royal Tombs of Ur and Ziggurats; for Babylonia, Astronomers and Trade and Transport;  for Assyria, Palaces and Warfare.

The site does a great job of using actual artifacts to present history in an interesting way. In the section about warfare, students learn to locate relevant information on a wall relief from an Assyrian palace by clicking on various parts to learn about the pointed helmets, or the composite bows, or the types of shields. Another link presents photos of warfare artifacts that could be found on a battle site and asks the students to think about what’s missing and what might not be easily preserved (think wooden handles). Another area uses the image of a game board artifact to present an on-line version of the ancient game. Interactive stories and games present choices and the resulting consequences made by merchants involved in trade. A simulation puts the student in the role of a farmer deciding how and when to flood his fields to produce the most crop. The website even gives a tip of the hat to the Bible, mentioning the connection between Mesopotamia, the Garden of Even, Tower of Babel, and the patriarch Abraham.

It’s a fantastic resource. My kids find it interesting, and afterward it’s apparent they’ve learned and retained important concepts. It’s hard to ask for much more than that.

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The Checklist

Image of The Checklist by Cindy Downes

The Checklist: A K-12 Scope and Sequence/Recordkeeper for Christian Home Education

Written specifically for Christian homeschoolers by Cindy  Downes, The Checklist is a comprehensive list of topics typically covered in K-12, organized by subject. It’s a useful tool for both planning and documenting topics covered, especially for homeschoolers  not using a prepackaged all-in-one curriculum.  I can’t imagine homeschooling without it.

The author is the creator of the Oklahoma Homeschool website, a valuable resource all on its own. Mrs. Downes is a veteran homeschool educator, seminar speaker, author, support group leader and consultant.

The Checklist divides each area of study (ex. Written Communication and Grammar) into subjects (ex. Sentence Construction). Each subject contains multiple topics (ex. Subject, Predicate, Simple, Exclamatory, Interrogative, etc.). Next to each topic are two columns: elementary & junior/senior high. The childs initials written in either column signifies when the material was covered.  The breakdown into topics is very well-organized, making it easy to find specific topics, including topics that tie-in to another area. In the event that a topic covered is not included, there are blank lines under the various subjects to add any topics not listed. More than 100 sample pages are available on the website.

The Checklist is available either in book form, or as a PDF. The author grants permission for reproduction for personal use  allowing a separate copy for each child if desired. As of this writing the PDF is available for $9.99, the book for $45.99, and both for $55.98.

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Bubble Test Form Generator by Catpin Productions

Like most homeschoolers, we do our best to reuse materials when possible. Multiple choice tests are a perfect resource for reuse. A FREE on-line Bubble Test Form Generator from Catpin Productions makes it even easier.

The form generator is very flexible, allowing various customizations including the number and style of bubbles, font, spacing, and grouping. The options available for the bubbles are too numerous to list; in place of bubbles, music staffs, pain charts, approve/disapprove sets and feelings charts are selectable. Different types of bubbles can be included on one sheet by organizing the different types needed into columns.

Options are available for information to be printed at the top of the page including test title, teacher’s name, room, date, student name, box for score and grade, instructions, etc. Test headings can be in either English or Spanish.

Even with all the available customization, the form generator is easy to use with very straightforward instructions and choices. After selecting the customizations wanted, the generated form is displayed in a new tab. From there the browser’s print function is used to make a hard copy.

Beyond the flexibility of the bubble test generator, it exposes homeschool kids to the standardized testing form and gives them practice using it.

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History Through the Ages: Creation to Christ

Being able to see historical events in relation to other historical events gives valuable perspective. History Through the Ages from Homeschool in the Woods takes this one step further with a well-done black-and-white line illustration to go with each timeline entry.

Each timeline pack contains wall-sized figures (2-3.5 inches) printed on good-quality cardstock, a colored timeline, and permission to reproduce for homeschool use. We use them both on the wall, and in student created lapbooks, folders and other projects. The line drawings can be colored with colored pencils for added interest.

History is a fascinating topic that rarely gets the emphasis or attention it deserves. It’s so much more than names, dates and places. It tells the story of why we are who, what and where we are. It’s a story of relationships, discoveries, wars, travels — of life itself. Giving a picture to all those names dates and places helps to tell the fascinating story of history.

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@ the Office Expanding File

Keeping samples of the kids’ work was an organizational pain until I stumbled upon these useful expanding files at WalMart. I was looking for an expanding file for one of my sons to keep his drawings organized when it hit me that I could do the same with the kids’ school papers.

These aren’t the typical paper expanding files with tabs that dog-ear and sides that fray. Nor are they the stiff, brittle plastic that cracks after several dozen folds. The shell of these expanding files reminds me of Cordura. It holds it shape well, but isn’t so stiff as to be difficult to use. The plastic dividers on the inside are appropriately flexible. The tabs are large enough to hold labels that are easy to hand letter, and easily readable. Simply put, these are expandable folders that are useful, durable, and affordable. Did I mention that they come in 3 colors for at least a bit of ability to color-code them?

Costing a modest $7.88 at my local WalMart, it’s hard to beat.

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