Sunday, May 1, 2016

Celebrate (and Learn!) with St. Mark

This past week began with Saint Mark's Feast day, which meant more faith through food, fun, and a bit of themed "study" for us.


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None of my sleepyheads woke up in time to join me for Mass in the morning nor to help me prepare our simple feast day breakfast table.  However, they did wake to a winged lion vegetable plate for breakfast.


Since St. Mark's symbol is a winged lion, I decided to make a veggie-and-dip lion with romaine lettuce wings for breakfast.  I also put our red, yellow, and white candles, and
opened our Picture Book of Catholic Saints to the Saint Mark page.


Then, over breakfast and beyond, the children and I enjoyed the following faith, fun, and learning activities:

Prayer


As well as grace, we prayed this prayer:



O Glorious St. Mark, through the grace of God our Father, you became a great Evangelist, preaching the Good News of Christ. May you help us to know Him well so that we may faithfully live our lives as followers of Christ. Amen.

We also read the Bible readings for the day from the USCCB site and chatted about what stood out to each of us.

English Language Arts


We listened to a short biography about Saint Mark on American Catholic.org and chatted about it and read about him in the
Picture Book of Catholic Saints.
 
Using notes from Saint Mark Parish's page, our winged lion veggie-and-dip platter, and images I had printed out and put on our candles, we also talked about the about the symbolism of the winged lion symbol for St. Mark.



I also read the children quotes related to St. Mark All Great Quotes

quotes along with the following two quotes, so they could choose one to copy. I, then, wrote the quote each chose on paper neatly, for them to do their copywork from. 

Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. ~ Mark 16:15

For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? ~ Mark 8:36
 


For spelling, I challenged the children to come up with as many words as they could within five minutes from the words Saint Mark the Evangelist.  In doing so, they had to pay attention to which letters were capitals and which were not, using capital letters properly.



Since we had recently been learning about nouns and adjective, for grammar, we brainstormed common and proper nouns that had to do with Saint Mark and then came up with different adjectives that could be used to describe them.


Arts and Crafts


We gently studied a few icons and images f St. Mark that I brought up on our laptop or printed out in miniature and put on our candles. I plan to follow up with a deeper study of art in future years using notes from this page I found as well as other resources I might find.  (Your suggestions are welcome!)


The children also chose to color some images I had printed out from online and to draw their own winged lions using instructions on how to draw a lion from Draw Write Now as a guide.  These, along with their copywork, and some printed images, were glued onto cardstock to make pages for their faith binders.


Geography

We located places on a map that were mentioned in the Saint Mark biographies that we read and listened to.


Math


Some of my kiddoes are still working on days and dates, so we all wrote April 25, 2016 in three different ways on white boards.

We also used story math to figure out about how long ago St. Mark lived.


For fun, we used Cuisenaire Rods to make 25 equations with the number 25 in them, since St. Mark's Day is April 25 and this activity could be scaffolded to each child's math level.

What a faith-centered, fun, and fruit-filled morning our St. Mark feast day study proved to be!

Which saints will you be celebrating soon?  How do you integrate celebration into learning, meal time, or the rest of life?  Do share.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Check Out My Motivated Boy's Blog Posts

Sometimes, you just have to say, "yes". 

This morning, my son woke before his siblings and wanted to write a blog post for his long-neglected blog, Art, Imagination, and the NFL.  I said, "yes", and look what he did:


Check out his post
Geo Club!

My son also pointed out to me that he had written two drafts that have been waiting for my approval to post.  Oops!  Momma-fail.  But, Momma-fixed-the-fail, too.  Those back-dated posts are now up on my son's blog and he is beaming with pride.


You can see some great photos and read about the cool space ships that my son, his siblings, and their friends designed at a museum program.

You can also learn what my son's favorite video games are.

My boy does NOT like to write, so the fact that he's ASKING to write blog posts thrills me.  Sometimes, a homeschool mama just has to say, "yes" to ignite a skill in her son.  It appears that saying "yes" to my son having his own blog and taking some time to allow him to post on it this morning has proven fruitful. Knowing that he can share on his blog motivates my son to write and, to me, that is a huge win.  Writing, after all, is a form of communication, and, if my son's motivation to write is to communicate through a blog, I am all for it.

I pray you have had a winning moment today, too.

What's been working to help you and your children get and stay motivated?



Thursday, April 28, 2016

"You're Having a Good Hair Day" {A GREEMU Oil Review}


When I was offered an opportunity to review GREEMU by Devonian, which is distributed by Koru Naturals, I did not hesitate to say yes.  Previously, I had reviewed Koru Natural Emu Oil and some other products and had been happy with them, so I was curious how the all-natural, plant-based
GREEMU would compare.

What Is GREEMU?

Greemu Devonian Review

GREEMU
is a beauty oil developed by scientists to mimic the composition and properties of emu oil, which originated in Australia and has been used for hundreds of years to:

  • help eliminate fine lines
  • improve skin elasticity
  • encourage cell turnover
  • relieve dry skin
  • repair damaged hair
  • heal split ends
  • seal moisture into hair
  • detangle hair

and more. 

Because use of animal products like emu oil has fallen out of favor in recent years, but the need and desire for quality beauty oils has not, the folks at
Devonian  worked hard to create a product like emu oil, but made completely with plant oils and butters.  It seems they succeeded.  GREEMU contains only five ingredients:
  • macadamia oil, which is high in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, omega 3's, omega 6's, and more and works to help heal scars and sunburns as well as to promote soft, young-looking skin
  • organic palm oil, which is a natural antioxiant rich in vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, and more
  • shea butter, which is a time-proven emollient rich in vitamin E and is known for leaving a smooth, satinyy finish on hands and face
  • sunflower seed oil, which hydrates and is effective against acne, eczema, scarring, and skin irritation
  •  rice bran oil, which is rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential pis and is believed to slow UV ray absorption and to help with anti-aging

In short,
GREEMU oil is designed to be do all that emu oil does for skin and hair, but uses only plant-based ingredients to do so.

GREEMU for Hair

I am an extraordinarily low-maintenance mama.  I do not wear make up; I don't own a blow dryer; and my (non-existent) beauty routine consists of brushing my teeth daily and taking a shower when I can.  My skin rarely sees consistent use of oils or creams, and, when it does, products have to be easy to put on and contain no offensive-to-me-scents.  My hair, likewise, rarely gets attention beyond washing, conditioning, and natural hair drying.  

Sometimes, I do give myself a little extra attention and when products like Koru Naturals come in, I am pleased since they are low maintenance and effective.  But, alas, when a bottle of product runs out, I am horrible about replacing it, so whatever improvements things like Emu Oil once began to make for me get lost...

Such was the case when our review of
GREEMU began.  When our 4 oz. bottle of GREEMU arrived, my thick, naturally curly hair was in less than stellar condition and, even though vanity is not something I often succumb to, I had been finding myself taming my curly mess and frizz frequently by tossing it into a quick pony tail, bun, twist, or braids.

Enter
GREEMU.

On the days when I washed my hair, I put some drops of
GREEMU oil on my hands, ran them through my hair, and carried on with my day with my hair down and looking better than normal.  Then, lo and and behold, just yesterday, after showering quickly, throwing some GREEMU oil in, and heading out for the day, something was said to me that I have not heard in such a long time.

I was in a parking lot after Mass, gathering supplies from my trunk for a co-op I was headed off to when a friend passed by, corralling her four young ones who were also headed to co-op.  Despite having her hands full and her head focused on getting over to co-op, my friend paused, smiled, and commented, "You're having a good hair day!" 

Oh my goodness!  I cannot recall the last time I have heard those words from anyone.

Years ago, when I cared more about my appearance and had more time to spend on myself, I often got positive comments about my curly locks, but, since motherhood, the integrity of folks I know disallows such comments.  For, as I fully admit, my hair rarely looks kind comment-worthy.  Thus, the fact that a fellow busy mom noticed my hair and commented on it is pretty telling. 
GREEMU works!

GREEMU for Skin

I have also been using
GREEMU on my face and hands sometimes.  When I do so, as long as I am not heavy handed in dropping the oil onto my palms to rub into my face, neck, and hands, I find the result is not too greasy and leaves my skin feeling smoother.  Even without daily skin use, I am finding GREEMU helps with my incredibly dry skin.  Better still, it does so without extra scents.  (I truly do not like scented oils and creams!)

I have heard from others that
GREEMU works well to abate symptoms of eczema and other skin conditions, and I cannot wait to see results of this myself, too.  I was hoping by now, to be able to do so, but I have not, through no fault of GREEMU.

You see, my oldest son has had weird skin bumps since birth which are getting worse as he enters into his preteen years.  So, I intended to try GREEMU on him for this review. However, as life would have it, just around the time when our GREEMU bottle came in, my son ended up getting scratched on his face while rough playing with his siblings.  Despite me telling him not to, my son then picked at his scratch, and, before we knew it, it became infected to the point where a full course of medication was required. 

Of course, I could not test a new skin product on my son while using prescription ointments on him, and, since his infection took quite a while to clear, we have not started using
GREEMU on him yet.  Thus, I am unable to say, firsthand, how GREEMU does with skin conditions beyond dry skin.  Some of the 85 Schoolhouse Review Crew families that reviewed GREEMU likely can, though, so do pop over to read their reviews.

Greemu Devonian Review

I am well-pleased so far with
GREEMU for my hair and skin and excited to start using it on my son's skin.  I'd recommend it to others who want a low-maintenance, plant-based beauty oil for hair and skin.

Greemu Devonian Review

You can find out more about Devonian and Koru Naturals on Facebook and Pinterest.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What a Living History Book!





 "Mommy, I hope we can get all the books in their series..." my son said when he saw me working on this review of Heroes of History- George Washington by YWAM Publishing and the Digital Unit Study that goes along with the book  "They are really good.  The authors write so well.  I like those stories so much."

And that, my friends, pretty much says it all.  Our family, especially my oldest, just loves the YWAM Publishing Heroes of History books we have read so far and we all are eager to read more!

Why We Chose Heroes of History: George Washington


When I told my oldest son that we would be able to review another book and study guide from YWAM Publishing, he was thrilled.  He just loved the John Adams we previously reviewed and has been eagerly awaiting a chance to read another book in the same series.When my son reviewed the long list of titles that were available to us for review, he saw many that he wanted us to read together, but, after being told he could pick only two possible choices he quickly narrowed his wish list down to include the then-current presidential candidate Ben Carson and our first American president George Washington.

Swept Up in Living History




What a pick the YWAM Publishing George Washington book was!

We happened to be outside enjoying a bit of early spring fever the day our 224-page soft cover copy of the book came in, and, although the book is geared for children 10 and up, we knew it would be find to read together with my younger children, too, just as we had with the John Adams one we had previously reviewed. In fact, when my younger two saw the book in my oldest's hands, they would have nothing other than us reading it together. 

So, we grabbed blankets and sat in the early spring sunshine to begin journeying with George even if there were still bits of melting snow here and there about us.



After that, no day was complete until we’d read another portion of the book. At breakfast, lunch, or bedtime (and sometimes at all three!), my children eagerly listened to the life and times of George Washington unfold. (My oldest sometimes read ahead, too, I discovered!) 


Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

Between times, the children also sometimes commented on the front cover of the book, which provides gentle review of key historical events by the small illustrations included on on it.  Between these, discussion, and the story itself, each of us became well-versed in the life and times of George Washington.

Indeed, we all enjoyed learning about George Washington and the time period in which he lived through this living history book! And, I do mean “we”. For, even I learned some new facts as we read together as a family.

I had not realized before that George Washington had been a key figure in beginning the French and Indian War. Nor did I realize that our first president had no biological children. Further, I found it interesting that, after serving as president, George Washington returned to a military post for a short period.

Indeed, each person in our family discovered new things as the story of George Washington's life and times unfolded for us and, often, even if we were busy and I only intended to read one chapter, we read more than one at a time, because I wanted to know what happened next as much as my children did.

Of course, not all of the history of George Washington's lice and era was new to my children and I, but the way
Heroes in History authors Janet and Geoff Benge put it all together, just made everything come alive for us in fresh ways.  Truly, their writing style was accessible and interesting,taking the book from being "just another non-fiction book" about our first president to being an engaging living history book that all three of my children and I would recommend.

A
Digital Study Guide with Many Options



YWAM Publishing does not only publish fantastic living history books. They also offer comprehensive study guides to go along with them.  We received one for the George Washington book that included two pdf downloads.

One of the pdfs is four pages long and includes:

  • a fact sheet with illustration
  • a time line
  • and several maps

The maps, especially, came in handy for us as we referenced places George lived and traveled during his lifetime.

The other pdf is 64 pages long and includes: 


  • key quotes, which we have put in a copywork binder for next year
  • suggestions for a display area, which are meant for a classroom, but could be just as useful for a co-op or family to use
  • questions for each chapter, based on vocabulary, facts, and basic comprehension, as well as ones that were open-ended, asking for an opinion or interpretation answers for all questions, except the open-ended one
  • ideas and instructions for essays, creative writing projects, hands-on projects, and audio/visual projects
  •  ideas for community links 
  • mapping suggestions and challenges 
  • timeline activities 
  • related theme information
  • ideas for a culminating event 
  • a complete list of books and resources 

Truly, the digital study guide offers enough suggestions, information, and questions to make this book the center of any full-scale home, co-op, or classroom studyOr, as it did for my family, it can simply supplement the organic enjoyment of reading a well-written living history book together.


Truly, my children and I became
so quickly swept up into the story of George Washington from the first day that we began reading it, that I ended up not wanting to slow us down with the formalities of unit-study like projects and tie-ins. Rather, I chose to let our experience be one of gentle time spent together reading and chatting.

Still, since I had the study guide - and since like the book it goes along with, it is well-written, I wanted to use at least a portion of it with my children now.  So, in between our mini-marathons of simply reading the book aloud together, completely engaged by it, I chose to just look
the study guide questions to see if any of the vocabulary, comprehension, or further thinking type questions were ones that I might weave into later discussions with my children. 

Because my children are eager listeners with strong comprehension skills and a habit of asking questions often, they had naturally covered some of the
vocabulary, comprehension, and interpretation that the study guide questions keyed into.  However, I also found some points neither they nor I had brought up on our own when discussing the books.  So, as we chatted about the book outside our reading times, for example in our minivan and elsewhere, I sometimes slipped in study guide questions.   That way the questions were not "schooly", but a part of our natural discussions (even if prompted by my previous reading of the study guide!)


In The Children's Words 

My five-year-old is my historical battle lover and also a child who likes to know what happened next, so his comments about the book came as little surprise to me.  He said:

I liked it.  The chapters ended with cliff hangers.  There were a lot of battles.  I like battles.  I did not know George died from a cold.

My daughter, with two brothers to influence her, also likes battles to some degree, but typically cottons to relationships between characters and to the hows and whys of how those relationships develop.  She particularly appreciated the opportunity we had to snuggle or sit close in our mom-child relationship while reading this book, as well the chance to learn more about George Washington, the person.  She said:
I would recommend this book to others.  It tells the details about George Washington more than some other books would.  I was happy that we could read it very single night at bedtime, and I asked for it sometimes at other times. 
I never knew that George Washington did not have kids of his own.  He had step kids, and I thought it was kind of cool that he was asked to adopt other children that got so attached to him and his wife. 

Before I read the story, I knew there was a legend about George Washington cutting down a cherry tree, that he fought in the Revolutionary War, that Lafayette was his friend, and that he was our first president.  Now I know he was a surveyor, he almost died of frostbite, he was a good man, and he helped free our country.  I can picture his life.


My oldest, who was the one who was so excited to read another book in the YWAM Publishing Heroes in History series and is the one who selected our review title loved this book as much as the John Adams one we read before.  He sad:
It is a great book.  It had lots of cliff hangers which I liked.  They made me want to read the next chapters. 

I learned that George Washington's brother gave him a lead gun when he was young.  I also learned that George never had his own children.  He had some children which were from his wife's past husband, and he had some he adopted from his family when their parents died.  One of his adopted sons watched a battle in a coach and, then, died afterward of illness.

I particularly like this book series.  I cannot explain why.  I just like how they write.   I like how they start at one point and then go back to tell the rest of the story.  I like how they have extra details about the people they write about.  I also like how their chapters are.  They are not too long and not too short.

I think other people should read this book and the whole series.

I whole-heartedly agree with my son.  If the George Washington book we've just read, and the John Adams one we read before, are strong measures to go by, the entire Heroes in History series is one that I would recommend reading.  The books are not dry historical accounts nor exaggerated tales or simple recycling of canned information about historical figures.  Rather, they present known facts and new ones in a living books format that engages readers, making history come alive.  I cannot wait to read more in the series.


Learn More


Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review} 

YWAM Publishing can be found at Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
YWAM Publishing Review



One hundred families read and reviewed different YWAM Publishing titles.  See what each Schoolhouse Review Crew had to say.



Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

YWAM Publishing Review

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Celebrate St. George's Feast Day - GFCF Style

This year, we celebrated St. George a day early, because we were over at a friend's home for another event and know she likes to celebrate feast days with food, too.


Since we slid our celebration in between a morning Doors of Mercy pilgrimage, and afternoon Duct Tape Battle and Girls Club and an evening Mercy in the Family film event, we decided to keep things simple,with a make-ahead or quick-prep tea-less tea and menu of possible activities to follow, depending on how we were all feeling. 

My friend and I who planned this celebration were also blessed to have one other family decide to join in last-minute.  Sharing faith, food, and friendship with more people is always a bonus, so we were delighted to include them!


Our Feast Day Table


Our Feast Day table was set with a white tablecloth, red runner, white candle, red candle, knight figurine, and dragon figurine, because St. George's shield and standard have a red cross on a white background and St. George was a knight who, legend says, slayed a dragon. (Of course, the dragon is symbolic of evil.)

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The food included:




 


  • a large St. George's shield: a juice wiggler, made with Knox Gelatine, raw local honey Wholesome Goodness Pomegranate-Blueberriy-Acai juice (which was bought inexpensively locally) and topped with So Delicious Cocowhip, so it looked like a red and white St. George flag.  (Honestly, it tasted a lot better than it looked!  It was actually a favorite and was the first thing devoured.)
 



  • small St. George flagsGratify Gluten-Free Cracker Thins topped (or not, depending on the plate since some children lake things plain) with Go Veggie non-dairy plain cream cheese spread, raspberries, and/or strawberry slices.
     



  • extra fruit in bowls

Also on the table were our selection of read-alouds:







Our Activities


We began our feast day celebration with grace and a prayer from the
Picture Book of Saints



Then, I asked the children what they knew about St. George already and read the factual account of St. George from Picture Book of Saints.  After that, we perused our feast day and chatted about how and why it might have been set the way it was



The children quickly picked up on all of the symbolism:

  • red-and-white for St. George's standard and shield
  • dragon to represent evil
  • swords to help slay sin

We, then, chatted a bit about what is fact about St. George, what is fiction or legend, and why the legends may have sprung up


After all the the faith-through-food chatter, of course, the children were more than ready to dig in, so they each picked a plastic sword and set to enjoying our tea-less teatime, while I read to the from the Story Library of Saints.  As I read, I paused to ask and answer questions about vocabulary, legend vs. fact, the importance of prayer when faced with decisions or up against evil, and more.


Once all the children were done eating, we asked them to clear their plates and had them go play outside, where they could play St. George with their newly made swords from Duct Tape Battle Club.  We grown-ups intended to clear the rest of the table and then, to set out more St. George activities, but it was such a nice day and the children were having so much fun, we just went with it, skipping the "lessons" part of our plan.



Simple Saint George Feast Day Lessons for Another Time

Had we not opted to skip lessons, our multi-age group would have hit on what I call the Core Four Plus (Reading/ELA, Writing, Arithmetic, Faith, plus Extras) with the following activities, which are now saved for another year:

Simple Reading/English Language Arts:

  • Read Saint George and the Dragon, gently discussing vocabulary words, vigorous verbs, and elements of literature, such as characterization, plot, conflict, setting, etc.
  • Solo or in pairs, see how many words you can list using the letters from Happy Saint George's Feast Day.
  • Read and write poems about St. George, perhaps using a pdf from Scholastic.

Easy Math:


  • Reiterate which day St. George's Feast Day is on.
  • Name all of the months of the year and write April 23, 2016 in several different ways(23 April 2016, April 23, 2016, 4/23/2016, etc.)
  • Figure out about how many years ago St. George lived using a simple story math problem.
  • Solo or in pairs see if, within five minutes, you can come up with 23 equations that include the number 23 in them.

More Faith:

  • Review what it means to be a saint and how one becomes a "named saint".
  • Discuss the virtues St. George models for us.


Plus:

I, for one, am looking forward to using some of the "academic" ideas we did not use this year for next year.  I pray that all of the ideas I have shared might help you and yours enjoy future St. George's Day celebrations, too!



I'd love to hear about your favorite St. George's feast day traditions, menu ideas, activities, prayers, and lessons.  Please do take a moment to share them here in a comment.  Links to your ideas are welcome.

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