Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls

September 19th, 2014

nehemiah-rebuilds-the-walls

People made fun of Nehemiah for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. It seems like when we’re doing God’s work, we’re under constant attack.

After reading the book of Nehemiah, my children made drawings entitled “Nehemiah Rebuilds the Walls.” They drew a wall being built, and people laughing at the Jews for rebuilding Jerusalem. The walls had been torn down and set on fire when King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem in 586 BC. King Nebuchadnezzar also burned the Temple at that time and stole all the Temple treasures.

Seventy years had passed, and according to the book of Jeremiah, God would move the heart of King Cyrus to allow the Jews to go back to Jerusalem to rebuild it. Ezra had taken thousands of Jews back to Jerusalem, but for some reason the walls had still not been rebuilt. Nehemiah heard about the broken-down walls of Jerusalem, and he wanted to do something about it. He wept and felt a burden for God’s people.

nehemiah-drawingEven though Nehemiah was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, the king allowed him to take a group of people back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. Scripture makes it clear that prayer is what caused the king’s heart to be won over.

When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, he rode on a donkey at night, surveying the walls to see what sort of damage there was, and seeing what would be required to build the walls back up. He later met with the officials of the city to draw up a plan for the reconstruction of Jerusalem.

When they started rebuilding, they made a lot of progress. Sanballat and Tobiah were the enemies of Israel, and they taunted and made fun of the Israelites for rebuilding the walls. They said that if a fox stood on the walls, the walls would topple down.

sanbalat-and-tobiahMy son who drew this picture of Sanballat and Tobiah has another guy hiding in a bucket. I’m not sure why the short guy is hiding in the bucket, but I just wanted you to know that it’s not a disembodied head. There are plenty of disembodied heads in Scripture (John the Baptist, Goliath, Saul, etc.), but this is not one of them.

nehemiah-rebuilds-walls-of-jerusalemThe people of Israel worked really hard and finished building the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days! That’s just crazy incredible! It showed that the power of God and His blessing was on this project.

nehemiah-unit-study

Ezra Unit Study

September 17th, 2014

Ezra-unit-studyFor our Ezra unit study, we dramatized the events of the book, rebuilt the Temple with blocks, and made a craft to represent leaving Babylon and going to Jerusalem. We are creating unit studies for every book of the Bible, which you can enjoy in the Unit Study Treasure Vault.

First we acted out the different scenes from the book. King Cyrus issued a decree that the Jews could return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. He even gave Ezra money for the supplies he would need, as well as returning the precious Temple goblets and utensils to be used in the service of God.

Here is a drawing of Ezra leading the Jews back to Jerusalem:

ezra-leads-israelites

We made a model of Babylon (the gorgeous blue gate of Babylon), and we placed it on one end of a long table. (For instructions on how to make the Babylon model, watch the Daniel Unit Study inside the Vault.) On the other end of the table was a model of Jerusalem that we made. (Watch the Lamentations Unit Study to see how we made that model.) We grabbed some toy soldiers, and from one end of the table to the other, we moved a big group of people. Those were the Jewish people, thousands of them in real life were returning with Ezra to Jerusalem.

My son snapped pictures of the soldiers moving little by little from Babylon to Jerusalem, and when I edited the video, I had less than 2 seconds for each slide, fading into each other. It was really cool!

ezra-unit-studyAnother great activity that we did was to build the Temple with blocks. The block Temple should be a long rectangle made of 3 squares. The first square is the Holy of Holies blocked off from the other two thirds of the building. My sons wanted me to film and then speed up the video to make it look like they were building it fast. It was great! I thought I was going to have to strip off the sound and add a sound effect, but the sound of the blocks clunking in fast motion sounded like construction work! I praised God because I have felt His presence and blessing on each of these Bible unit studies!

After the Temple was constructed, the people rejoiced. Some of the older people who had seen Solomon’s Temple before the Babylonian captivity were wailing with sorrow while the younger people were shouting for joy. Here is a drawing of people rejoicing over the construction of the Temple:

ezra-unit-study-2

Ezra then read the entire Word of God to the people while they stood with their wives and children in the rain. They cried when they heard the Word of God because they hadn’t heard it in so long, and they had been walking in disobedience. They were convicted of their sin.

ezra-reads-in-the-rainThe book of Ezra ends with him listing all the offenders who had married outside the faith. The disobedient people decided to obey God and only marry people who loved the Lord.

If you enjoyed this Ezra Unit Study, why not join the Unit Study Treasure Vault!

#7 Building Molecular Models

September 15th, 2014

building-molecular-modelsThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

My kids enjoyed building molecular models to understand the structure of molecules in chemistry. We have been using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press to study elementary-level chemistry, and this is one of the hands-on activities in the book.

First you will want to purchase some styrofoam balls. These are available at craft supply stores. You will also need toothpicks and acrylic paint in various colors. If you want to label the atoms in the molecule, you can use a black marker, but we preferred to use alphabet stickers. Because of the texture of the styrofoam, it’s difficult to write on the styrofoam. If you’re using stickers, choose a contrasting color for the letters. I had some red stickers, but they would not have been visible on the red Hydrogen atoms.

Now go ahead and stab each of two small red styrofoam balls into a larger blue styrofoam ball using a toothpick. It’s easier to label the atoms with stickers after you have stabbed them with the toothpicks, because you will know where the front of the molecule is. The larger blue ball is an Oxygen atom, and the smaller two balls are Hydrogen atoms. This is a water molecule, in case you didn’t know.

building-molecular-models-2Another molecular model you can make is an Oxygen molecule. This molecule is composed of two Oxygen atoms with a double covalent bond. This means the two atoms are sharing a total of 4 electrons, because each covalent bond shares an electron with the Oxygen atom next to it. My daughter is holding up this Oxygen molecule. You can see that the two toothpicks are stabbed into the balls parallel to each other.

You can continue building molecular models. If you have bazillions of painted styrofoam balls, you can look up different common molecules and try to produce a model of them. In the following video, we show you how to make these simple molecular models. We also show you how our sugar molecule turned out!

Mount Up with Wings

September 12th, 2014

mount-up-with-wingsOne of my favorite verses in the whole Bible is Isaiah 40:31 because it gives me hope when I am weary. Recently my children illustrated the “Mount Up with Wings” passage:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 KJV

mount-up-with-wings-2My children drew an eagle soaring through the sky with complete freedom and strength. They illustrated mountains in the background to show that the eagle was living in beautiful surroundings. They wrote out the verse, and I sang it to them as they colored their pictures.

mount-up-with-wings-3What does it mean to wait on the Lord?

It is a resting under his leading, asking the Lord what we should be doing each moment, and walking by the Spirit. We are suffused with new strength when we are at the end of ourselves, and we lean into God for our strength. Then  we wait for our circumstances to eventually unfold, waiting for our trial to come to an end, and yet resting in the presence of the Lord to not fret until God brings about the resolution. I’m in such a situation right now: unresolved issues that I must wait for God to work in the other person’s life before the situation can be made right. I must rest, even while the issue is unresolved, knowing that God has all things in His hand.

mount-up-with-wings-4And as I wait, I gain new strength…

 

waiting

Aquarium at Cannon Beach

September 10th, 2014

aquarium-at-cannon-beachWe visited an aquarium at Cannon Beach called Seaside Aquarium. You can feed otters and see several octopuses, lots of anemones and other fish, and a petting zoo. It’s a small aquarium that has been open for over 70 years. It’s not really at Cannon Beach, but at a nearby town called Seaside. If you’re taking a vacation at Cannon Beach, it’s only about 15 minutes away. Two of my children loved feeling the sea stars and sea cucumbers with their fingers.

anemonesThe aquarium has one large room surrounded by glass aquariums. It has another room with the otters. In the main room you also have an area with a red octopus swimming around. What I’m saying is that if you expect a large elaborate aquarium, you will be disappointed, but if you expect something small, you will be delighted.

aquarium-at-cannon-beach-2The aquarium around the edges of the room is all salt water, with colorful eels, anemones, and shellfish. Rocks are covered with living creatures.

cannon-beach-aquariumMy son Stephen is my biologist, and he has always loved living creatures. He was glued like a magnet to the petting zoo area of the aquarium. He would watch how creatures responded to his touch.

aquariumHe also loved having a hermit crab tickle his fingers as it walked across his hand. He spent nearly an hour touching the beautiful and intriguing sea creatures. My daughter enjoyed touching the sea creatures as well.

hermit-crabMy other two sons preferred not to touch the sea creatures, but to look at them from a safe distance. They looked at the calm swaying of the tentacles of the sea anemones. They watched the fish swim around in the water.

cannon-beach-aquarium-2One tank had a lot of sea stars. The stars are sort of prickly to the touch, and their mouth is underneath. A sea urchin was also in the same aquarium, but it was so prickly that it felt like a pin cushion.

sea-starsHere is the fabulous octopus, the terrible monster of the deep. It reminds me of when we studied 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, where the octopus attacked a submarine!

octopusHere are some squid eggs. The long white sacks are filled with eggs, and the parent squid dies shortly after laying the eggs.

squid-eggsWe had a great time at the aquarium at Cannon Beach. The next day my daughter asked if we could go back because she loved it so much!

 

#6 Atomic Cookies

September 8th, 2014

atomic-cookiesThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Let’s bake some atomic cookies to learn about the parts of an atom! We are using Christian Kids Explore Chemistry by Bright Ideas Press. The book recommends making the cookies 4 inches across so that the electrons fit on your cookie. You can bake the M&M’s into the cookie, or you can do what we did, which is to frost the cookie and then decorate it with the M&M’s to represent the protons, neutrons, and electrons.

baking-with-childrenBegin by mixing together your favorite cookie dough recipe. You can buy pre-made sugar cookie dough if you want to skip this step. Then place wax paper on the counter, and plop the cookie dough down onto the wax paper. Place another piece of wax paper on top.

Grab the rolling pin and roll out the cookie dough until it is flat. Now remove the wax paper. My daughter shows you how to do this in the video at the bottom of this blog post.

cookie-doughUse a lid or small bowl as a cookie cutter. Make sure the diameter is at least 4 inches, but also keep in mind that the cookies expand a little bit in the oven. Bake the cookies and let them cool.

sorting-m&msWhile you are waiting for the cookies to cool, sort the M&M’s into three bowls:

  • red for protons
  • blue for neutrons
  • brown for electrons

Go ahead and eat the other colors, since you won’t need them anyway.

Now frost the atomic cookies with white icing, smoothing it down with a table knife.

frosting-cookiesIt’s time to decorate the atomic cookies. For the carbon atom, you will want 6 protons, 6 neutrons, and 6 electrons. Place the red protons and blue neutrons in the center of the atomic cookie. Grab some black icing gel and draw 2 rings around the nucleus. These are electron shells. Place 2 brown electrons on the inner shell, and 4 brown electrons on the outer shell. Your atomic cookie is now complete.

atomic-cookieTake a look at how we made these atomic cookies:

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