Ninth-grade Home Ec and the Homemaker Master Pathfinder Award

You may or may not be ready to think about curricula for next school year, but if you’re stressing over your child’s first year of high school coming up in the fall, perhaps this will ease your stress.

Combining home economics and Pathfinder honors turned out to be a time- and energy-saving trick we pulled for my son’s ninth-grade year. I had my hands full with the younger kids on a daily basis, and just didn’t have the time to put into creating a curriculum for this basic elective overall. By using the time-tested Pathfinder honors, my workload was greatly reduced, leaving only teaching/supervision of the actual projects and looking over his completed paperwork on my plate in terms of implementation and evaluation. The planning process boiled down to calculating hours, choosing the honors to complete, and scheduling the content.

In this blog post, I’ll run you through the process we used to incorporate Pathfinder honors into a curriculum to receive high school credit. This could be accomplished for many different electives.

Assigning Credit Hours
(As always, you will want to check with your state’s education department to verify the following information, as each state may have different requirements. The following information is provided as a general guideline, and you may need to adapt accordingly.)

Calculating high school hours seems daunting, but it’s actually fairly simple. One HS credit hour = 120-180 hours of work. This translates as 50 minutes/day for five days/week for 36 weeks. (Just a note: “core” classes like math, science, and language arts should receive 180 hours/year; electives such as art, music and photography fall at the 120 hour end.) If you finish 75% or more of a high school level text in a year, this is generally considered the equivalent of a high school credit. You also may complete a three-hour course at a community college and count it as one (1) high school credit.

A 1/2-credit course in high school will require exactly half of the full credit hours: 60-90 hours/year, with electives falling on the 60 hours of work end. The class may be taught over a year or a semester since homeschooling by nature allows for flexibility. Over the course of a year, the student should spend approximately 30 min/day for five days/week on the subject matter, or 50 minutes/day for two to three days/week. If the elective is completed over a semester, you would want to adjust the days per week or number of hours to meet the requirements.

Choosing the Content
The next step was to choose the content to match the number of hours required, and also meet the general requirements of a home economics course taught elsewhere. When I compared the Pathfinder honors available to pre-packaged curricula, they basically covered the same material.

A list of the Pathfinder honors under “Household Arts” is available at:

If you click on the “Homemaking Master” honor, you will find a complete list of the honors available in one place. Take note that completion of seven of the honors earns the master honor patch in this category. As I wanted to cover Home Economics broadly, we chose honors from several areas, rather than choosing all of the food preparation honors, for example.

The honors my son and I decided upon were Baking, Basic Sewing, Cooking, Advanced Cooking, Household Budgeting, Housekeeping, Laundering, and Nutrition.

Worksheets for each honor are at this website:, and the answers may be found at the first link given, under “Homemaking Master Honor,” at the bottom of the page.

I enlisted Grandma’s help for the sewing portion!

Writing a Course Description
After we decided which honors to pursue, and printed off the corresponding worksheets, I helped my son organize a binder for the subject’s paperwork. Then it made sense to go ahead and write a course description (below), as I would eventually need this detail for a transcript anyway. (You would want to alter this description to meet your specific needs, or write your own.)

Course: Home Economics
Course Credit: 0.5
Grade Percentage: 60% project(s) effort and completion, 40% written assignments
Course Overview: This Home Economics course teaches the fundamentals of Family and Consumer Sciences. Topics include baking, basic sewing, cooking, housekeeping, laundering, household budgeting and nutrition. Each topic includes written assignments meant to cover basic and some advanced theory/concepts and skills. Multiple projects are assigned with each topic to provide practical, hands-on experience and real-time instruction. The SDA Pathfinder honor requirements for no less than seven (7) honors are covered in this course to earn the Homemaking Master honor.
Textbooks: (none)

We decided to run home economics over the course of the entire school year. Our reasoning for this was that his other elective was music and it would also run for the entire year, thus making daily scheduling consistent for the year.

  • Some tips:
    1. Make a list of all the projects your child will need to complete the chosen honors.
    2. Divide these projects out on monthly calendars. List the honor AND NUMBER these correspond to, as well — it is hard to figure out whether the Edamame Salad went under “salad” or “vegetable” or as part of the “complete meal” after the fact!
    Estimate the time it will take to complete the written work and fill those assignments in on the calendar, too.
    3. In general, for a semester-long course, you will need two to three projects/week plus two to three days of paperwork. For a year-long course, plan on one to two projects/week and one to two days of paperwork. (Take each project’s estimated length into consideration when scheduling.) We front-loaded the practical work into fall semester, so that March and April were clear for make-up work and longer written assignments such as compiling a recipe file, completing a meal chart, creating menus, etc.
    4. Have your child check off and date each project completed on the calendar itself. Circle any project not completed in the week assigned so you can attend to it later.
    5. Do not attempt to schedule complicated projects (such as the Strawberry Cream Cake on the cover of your favorite magazine…) on days when you already have a full schedule. Teaching for a practical course doesn’t lend itself to rushed or tense explanations. Learning is best achieved in a relaxed environment, so choose days that are more wide open.
    6. Planning time on Thursday or Friday for cooking or baking projects is sometimes nice because you can take the completed work to potluck! Don’t forget freezing items for use at a later event, i.e. garlic rolls or cookies for a church event you will have to contribute to, anyway!

Our scheduling system has worked fairly well. I probably underestimated the time it would take to complete so many Pathfinder honors; if I were to do it again, I’d at least double — maybe quadruple, OIY! — the time it takes me to make a recipe or do the laundry when initially counting the hours for the class. But as they say, it all comes out in the wash…and hopefully he learned something!

A cooking project: breakfast of fresh pears, boiled eggs, and potatoes and onions.

Homeschool Student Interviews – Part 7

This month’s interview is with one of our regular bloggers!

Austin is a former homeschooler who never truly got the idea that graduation meant a stop from learning. Self-induced learning activities include traveling the nation filming short videos of historical locations, reading through 500-page books on the Apollo space program, and just about any other fun learning thing he can think up. This spring he will be graduating from Southern Adventist University in Tennessee with a degree in biology, but is already looking forward to the fall when he will begin graduate school at Andrews University in Michigan and keep learning!

1) What is your name and what country/state/province do you live in?

My name is Austin Menzmer, and I currently live in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

2) How long were you homeschooled?

I was homeschooled all the way from K through 12! Loved it!

3) What did you like most about being homeschooled?

Most of all, I really liked the flexibility that homeschooling gave me and my Mom — both with regards to what subjects were studied and our daily schedule.

For example, I really liked science in high school. While I took the required biology, chemistry, and physics, I really wanted to take an additional biology class, human anatomy, and physiology. I doubt that would have happened in regular high school, but it sure did my senior year in our homeschool! I thoroughly enjoyed that course, which was a major factor in my deciding to became a biology major when I got to college.

Secondly, is our daily schedule. For those of you who don’t know, I have a physical disability and at times have gone to therapy six days a week. Homeschooling gave more flexibility, in the fact that I could attend therapy appointments during the day rather than just in the afternoon/evening when “school got out.” We were able to fit (and accomplish!) my schoolwork around these therapy appointments, so I could still be a “regular kid” and have some free time later on in the day.

4) Was there anything you dislike about being homeschooled?

Honestly, nothing. (And my mother didn’t even pay me to say that!) Even now in college I still have a passion for learning, period. It is such an incredible privilege that so many take for granted.

5) Since learning never really ends, what is your favorite thing to study and learn more about?

Ha, ha! Exactly! I love learning about history in my spare time (could you tell from my virtual field trip articles??). It is so interesting to learn about how people used to live “way back when,” why they made the decisions they did, etc. I love seeing history come alive as I visit various historical sites and museums, particularly air and space museums!

I also really like studying biology (my major) and religion (my minor). In my mind, biology can be defined as “God is AWESOME!” My jaw seriously keeps dropping every day as I’m in class learning about some new aspect of how God created our universe. Truly, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom,” Isa. 40:28. And, what can get better than studying God’s Word? I love studying the Bible, regardless if I’m getting college credit for it.

6) What are your favorite hobbies or activities?

Reading 500-page history books, playing with my sister, and making videos for my history-themed YouTube channel. I really like both the creative aspect of capturing video clips onsite and then editing them all together. I feel very fulfilled when I can help people virtually “visit” a place that they might not have the chance to go to in real life. I help educate them along the way when they just think they’re having fun watching one of my videos! Reading history books increases my knowledge and appreciation of different aspects of history that I would definitely not have otherwise. And spending quality time with those you love is never a waste. 🙂

If you haven’t seen my weekly videos yet and want to, be sure to check them out at And, here is a link to a 60-second sampler of what you’ll find on my channel:

7 ) How did homeschooling prepare you for college and/or the workforce?

I feel that being homeschooled really gave me the upper edge on practicing proactivity and other real life skills. For example, I had a bread business starting when I was around the age of 10 or 12. We lived near SWAU [Southwestern Adventist University] at the time, so that was my customer base. However, while my Mom would let me use her kitchen, she made me approach SWAU faculty and staff about buying my bread, she made me make the bread, and she made me pay her rent for use of her kitchen. Not only did I learn how to work and interact with others, but also some on personal finance and budgeting. Sure, I had a small percentage to spend how I chose, but we also had considerably larger sections for tithe, offering, and college/big savings. A year and a half ago, my parents and I jointly bought my first car, and a lot of the money I contributed was from all those years of saving my bread business money!

And, none of this would have occurred if I was not being homeschooled. It gave me a great opportunity to get some real life skills in ways I definitely wouldn’t just sitting in a classroom all day! Looking back at my college career, I am very happy for this early training in proactivity, because being proactive has helped me greatly in college, too.

8 ) What is the most annoying thing that people say to you when they learn that you were homeschooled?

Honestly, I have never had to face that problem. Wherever I have lived there has actually been plenty of other homeschoolers. So, nobody has really called me “weird” for being a homeschooler. I made a lot of friends with other homeschoolers at church, and many of my initial college friends were homeschoolers. Even with my college friends who were not homeschooled, they have never teased me at all. I feel very blessed!

Can I just momentarily give a plug for my school, Southern Adventist University?? It is awesome, you should definitely send your children to college here! I really like the spiritual nature on campus and the opportunities to grow your relationship with God. We have very strong academics, and the students here are definitely the dedicated, God-honoring people that you would want your kids to be lifelong friends with. Come “be a part” of Southern and learn more at!

Five Ways to Tell a Better Story

Jesus was an amazing story teller. And, although it doesn’t say specifically in scripture that he was homeschooled, I’m willing to bet that he learned a lot from listening to his parents tell stories. After all, for centuries wisdom and historical information have been passed down orally from generation to generation through the telling of stories. One doesn’t have to look far into science to see the benefits of story to the human’s ability to learn and retain information.

So, how can we harness this narrative power in our homeschools? Here are some ways to help you learn and teach as Jesus did — through story-telling.

  1. Use themes or subjects that are familiar to explain the unfamiliar. Jesus did this often in scripture. When speaking to a group of fishermen, he used fishing analogies. When talking to shepherds, he used sheep and shepherding stories to make his point. If you’re trying to explain a new concept to your child, try to use topics or situations that are familiar to them, and the unfamiliar concepts will seem less intimidating and become more interesting and useful.
  2. Tell stories using your own experiences. These are likely stories that you know best, and therefore you can tell them with greatest enthusiasm and detail. The stories my children always ask for are the ones about when mama and daddy were young.
  3. Use details, but use them carefully. Details are wonderful for transporting your listener to another time or place. Details can ignite someone’s imagination by describing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings. So, by all means add some great details to your story, but be judicious not to get bogged down by unimportant details that distract from your message.
  4. Have a clear message. One can err on either side of this point. It’s easy to get so caught up in the action or details of a story that the plot is either lost in the language, or forgotten altogether. It is also possible to have too many messages going on at the same time. A clear and concise message within a story will be remembered and hopefully put to good use.
  5. Repetition is your friend. Have you ever wondered why your children can sing every lyric in the theme song from their favorite movie, but struggle to remember the names of the twelve disciples? The answer is often times repetition. I can repeat a fact 20 times, but that gets boring, and it’s still tough to remember! I’m much more likely to reread my favorite book, or watch a favorite movie for the tenth time. Why? Because I love the story! A good story elicits the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain. So, repetition becomes something desirable with a good story attached to it.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you utilize the power of story-telling to enhance learning in your homeschool.

Homeschool Fruit: Sharing…& More

One of the best things — a true fruit — of homeschooling, to me, is being able to glean information from other homeschoolers about how they are doing things, how they have overcome problems, and how they have gotten their kids excited about learning. We have a community that seems to be inherently supportive, and generally homeschoolers are eager to share what has worked well for them.

The “& More” in the title is about something I’d like to share with you, so we’ll veer from general sharing to a specific topic. I have several homeschooling friends who have talked to me about how their kids have problems writing essays, how they seem to freeze and their minds go blank. This really resounds with me. I’ve been a writer and editor for more than 30 years, but I am NOT a creative writer. It just doesn’t flow naturally. And, probably not surprisingly, neither is my son. I have a nifty little formula and writing style, though, for those of us who are a little more at ease with reporting straightforward facts, and I’d like to share it with you.

If you have a hesitant writer, introduce them to newswriting and the “Inverted Pyramid.” This is probably the most basic, building-blocks part of journalism taught in college, and yet it is also very graspable for a young writer — particularly middle-school age and up. The inverted pyramid is merely writing/reporting your story with the most important facts at the top, narrowing to the least important at the bottom. And, it is easy to start off with five basic questions.

Let’s create a scenario that you could work through with your child. Say you ask them to write a report on the church service this coming Sabbath. But wait…

SIDENOTE: Does it seem odd to have an assignment that incorporates the Sabbath? Think about the last time you read your local Union Conference magazine. Did you notice interesting articles about a special children’s service at one church? Or maybe a Sabbath outreach mission? Or possibly a Sabbath concert offered to the community? Somebody who attended wrote those. I see multiple benefits to a Sabbath report for our kids, including better listening and observation skills in church, and maybe even the planting of tiny seeds of interest for future communication work within the Adventist Church. Back to the report…

Besides making sure they take their notepad and pen to church, have them write down the 5Ws the day before:
Who … was involved?
What … happened?
Where … did it happen?
Why … did it happen?
When … did it happen?

Now they have a ready-made list of things to look for. They will probably want to take a church bulletin for themselves to help glean information, including the name of your church, address, time of service, and participants. You could also have them listen carefully to the sermon, and make notes about the main point and primary Bible text used.

They might also look around to see if there are things they think might be interesting. Is the sanctuary decorated especially for Easter? Are there any kids in attendance? Was there a special part of the program aimed at kids? Were there guests present? Any special music? How about a potluck after church?

Young writers will not necessarily think of all those things, but you can help them come up with a list during the preceding week, and have them jot down things they will look for to incorporate in their story.

Another useful thing is to add a quote from someone who was there. Maybe they’d like to interview their best friend to find out what their favorite part of the service was. Remind your child to write it down word for word, and include their name and age. Or, maybe after the service they could tell the pastor what they are doing (the pastor will probably think this is fantastic, by the way), and ask how the pastor picked the sermon subject. There again, they can carefully write down the response, as well as the pastor’s name and title.

Your pastor would probably be delighted to answer a question or two for your child. Kids showing active engagement in church is good news!

Now you can take your sheet of facts home to work on later. It’s easier to write when the event is fresh in your memory, so consider having your child  start in on Saturday night or Sunday, and take some time off during the regular school week.

First, have them organize the facts into three groups:

  • those that they will definitely include in the article (i.e., 5Ws, sermon title or theme, etc.),
  • those that are interesting but not terribly important (i.e., the special music performer was visiting from another church),
  • and those that are related but not necessary (i.e., there were four casseroles at potluck).

Create an article outline. Your outline (and, next, your article) will follow the inverted pyramid. Put the most important information is at the top. Since you’ve already organized the facts, this will be easy.

Time to write!

  • Start with a strong leading sentence.
  • Give all the important details. These are the from the first group of facts in their “organize the facts” list.
  • Follow up main facts with additional information. These draw from the second group of facts.
  • Finish your article. Leave the reader with an interesting point, or maybe an invitation to attend an upcoming event at the church.

Here’s a very short sample article, but one that a middle-school age student could easily put together. It might give you ideas for an easy writing assignment for your child.

Sample Article:

“Reaching Up, Reaching Out” was the theme for a special community outreach planning day at Mount Bountiful Adventist Church, 123 Happiness Lane, in Somewhere, Alaska, Saturday, March 12, 2017. Members gathered to discuss ways to share God with the surrounding community. (See the 5Ws in the first paragraph?)

The special Sabbath program included music, praise, worship, and a chance for members to share ideas for reaching out to their neighbors. Joe Schmoe, pastor, said that he was excited to see nearly every member present, and appreciated how important outreach is to the small church.

The Juniors and Earliteen Sabbath School classes joined to present a skit about helping children in the neighborhood. “It was pretty neat to think of ways to help,” said Janey Doe, age 12. “I hope that we can help some other kids.”

After church the members enjoyed a potluck, and discussed how they might use food and nutrition to reach the community.

Everyone is invited to attend a follow-up planning session for outreach, Sunday, March 20, at 2 p.m. in the fellowship hall.

Newswriting is factual and tends to be chronological. It also helps young writers start to decipher what is fact versus what is opinion, and what is important versus what is “fluff.” And, it helps them develop organized thought. It is a skill which you can help your child develop, which might ease the fear of “coming up with something to write about.”

There are many other types of writing — creative, essay, research, etc. — which may be developed in the future, but newswriting could be a good place to start.

Thanks for letting me share!


“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered,” Proverbs 11:25 ESV.

“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this,” Galatians 5:22,23 VOICE.

Fun with Archimedes

Today I realized something: experiments can be more than just lessons learned. My son is almost a teenager (yikes), and yet we had so much fun today with just a few simple experiments. We laughed together and shared a sense of amazement. It made me wonder why I don’t take the time and make the effort more often. Let me encourage you today; it doesn’t have to be about the learning. Your reason for experiments can be about the fun and the time spent together. Any knowledge gained can be the bonus!

Our experiments were very basic, simple ones. The first was seeing if an orange floated before being peeled, and then without its peel. I chose this one because of a wonderful series of books we have been reading called Stem Waterworks. The most recent one that we read is entitled “How Do Aqueducts Work?”

The last page was, for me, the most interesting. It featured the Falkirk Aqueduct in Scotland. As all good homeschoolers would do, after reading about it I turned to the Internet. There we watched a video of how this amazing and unique aqueduct works. It employs the Archimedes Principle in its design. The orange experiment demonstrated that, and next we tried the marshmallow experiment. Floating a marshmallow and then squishing it to make it sinkable is about the simplest (and tastiest) experiment one could attempt.

We had now seen Archimedes Principle in action, but we weren’t ready for the fun to end. So, we used our jar of water, added some cooking oil, and dripped some food coloring into it. Anything is better when you add food coloring to the mix!

These simple kitchen experiments held my son’s attention. They demonstrated facts we had learned about in books and videos. Most of all, they drew us together with a sense of wonder and fun. That, to me, is the best part of homeschooling.