Sunday, December 8, 2019

Host a St. Juan Diego / Our Lady of Guadalupe Sensing the Saints Playdate (with FREE PRINTABLE Plans!)



Happy second Sunday of Advent!

As the feasts of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe near, I've been reminiscing about past celebrations and realized that I never shared here about a favorite one - a Sensing the Saints: St. Juan Diego & Our Lady of Guadalupe Learn-and-Play Date that we enjoyed with friends some years back.



 



Circle Time



Some of our group came straight from Mass and others came after Mass, so after everyone had gathered, I asked the children to come into a circle near an Our Lady of Guadalupe candle.

Then, I asked:
  • Can anyone name a saint and an aspiration of Mary that were celebrating this week?  (Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe)
  • Does anyone know which dates these celebrations fall on? (the 9th and the 12th)
  • Can anyone find the dates of these feast days on the calendar?  (The young children then paged through calendar to find the date, chanting months, days and dates as we went.)


I then suggested that before we learned and shared more about these saints, we open our gathering with a prayer.  So, we prayed the Sign of the Cross and, then, read the prayer printed on our candle.

After praying, I drew attention to the different images of various picture books that were already set up on a table and asked  the children to share some things they knew or could guess about St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Then, I asked children if anyone knew where Juan Diego was from and had them find Mexico on a globe.

We also chatted about what saints are and how we are part of the Communion of Saints. 

Storytime


After that, we segued into reading The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe, which I prefaced by asking children to listen for both miracles and virtues described. 

Throughout the reading, I paused periodically to discuss images, text and the children’s reactions, and, when the story concluded, I 
asked if anyone knew what a virtue is (a habit for good) and what virtues St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe demonstrated. (courage, faith, compassion, etc.)  I, then, asked the children how each might live such virtues themselves.


Choice Activities 


After storytime, it was onto choice activities, which included:




Make Our Ladies Roses, where children could make playdough roses, thereby getting tactile input, as well as exercising fine motor skills.




Enact the Story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe, where children used scarves, plastic roses, a stool and other props to take on the characters of Juan Diego, Our Lady, the bishop, etc. to dramatize the story, thereby getting tactile, proprioceptive and vestibular input.



Make a Tilma
, where children could craft a simple tilma.





Draw, Color and Notebook the Saints
, where children could draw Our Lady of Guadalupe, color images of Juan Diego and Our Lady, or collaged notebooking pages about these saints using images and copywork prayers, thereby exercising fine motor skills.







Plant Roses on Tepeyac Hill, where children could “plant” plastic roses in coffee-scented playdough hills, thereby getting olfactory and tactile input, along with practicing fine motor skills.






Transfer the Roses, where children transfered water bead “roses” in a small cloth “tilma”, practicing fine motor skills.




Free Printable Plans



I hope some of our activities inspire your own.  In case you'd like to use all of them, I am sharing the FREE Sensing the Saints: St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe lesson plan I created, which has materials lists, objectives, assessments, etc. included.  Please feel free to download and use it in your own homes, co-ops, or classrooms and to point others to this post to do the same.



Have a most wonderful second week of Advent!  I'd love to hear how you play and learn about the saints.  Do leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.




St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Happy New (Liturgical Year) Question Game {A Free Printable}

Would you like an activity to help you and yours reflect and connect this new liturgical year - or even on the new calendar year which will be coming up before we know it?




Then, please let the fruit that came of my family's crazy First Sunday of Advent schedule this year be something that blesses you and yours.

The Making of the Game

This year, a commitment that my boys had precluded our family from being together to celebrate the new liturgical year the way we typically do. So, I got to work thinking about how I might help us to reflect and connect when we were all together again.

What I came up with was a Happy New Year Question Game.

Inspired by a marriage help exercise that I recalled reading about in John M. Gottman's The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, I created a game that could help my family reflect and connect together as we conclude one year and start the next.

Basically, I typed up a list of 100 questions and some rules, then, printed them out and waited until we were all together to play.

The game worked well, so I thought I would share it here in case you and yours would like to try it.

Playing Is Easy

All you need to play are some time to sit together, the Happy New Year Question Game printable, and pieces of scrap paper and pencils for each player to write 25 numbers and keep a tally of their score upon.

Then as it says on the game printable:


  1. Each person, take a piece of paper and pencil, randomly decide 25 numbers between 1 and 100, and write these down in a column on the left side of your paper.


  1. ...Hand another player the list, and tell that player your first number. That player reads the question that corresponds to the number you stated. If answer the question, and, if you answer it right (the other player judges that!), you receive the amount of points listed after the question and the other player receives one point. If you answer incorrectly, the other player must state a correct answer, and no one receives points.


  1. Next, the player who you handed the questions to takes a turn. (If playing in a group, players may not hand the list to anyone who has participated in the last two turns.)


  1. Continue to take turns like this until someone reaches 25 points. That person wins the game… and, in reality, you all win for having spent time communicating and reflecting.


Reflect, Connect, and Seed Spiritual Growth


If our experience is anything to go by, in doing this, you and yours will share laughter and thought while reflecting on the past year and planting seeds for spiritual growth in the next. Find the Happy New Year Question Game printable here. You could also, of course, use the question list for personal journaling or journal prompts for your children. I'd love to hear about your experience if you choose to play (or journal)!
Happy New Liturgical Year!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Get Your FREE Printable St. Andrew Novena Copywork in Printing and Cursive!



Happy Feast of St. Andrew.

For years now, our St. Andrew Christmas Novena bookmarks have helped my children and I try to stay on track with praying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena from November 30 through Christmas. Thus, we will be breaking our bookmarks out again this year.


Also, because we have been neglecting copywork lately, we will be doing copywork of the St. Andrew Novena prayer.

To help my children keep their writing neat with a model and lines, I thought I might find a pre-made copywork printable online, but I had no luck doing so, Thus, I made my own and am sharing the FREE printable with you!

The set includes ones cursive model...



... one print model...





and several blank lined sheets...





That way, my children and yours can choose to practice printing, cursive, or both, plus have room for overflow copywork in case they write with especially large or spaced out words.

I pray our children benefit from this copywork and from the prayer they will be praying with it throughout Advent.

For your child's ease, be sure to fill in his or her special intentions on the blank portion of the model before copywork commences.

If you'd like more ideas for living the liturgical year this Advent, there are plenty more here to browse through. There are also several other resources for St. Andrew's feast day

May your Advent be filled with beauty and blessings!

St. Andrew, pray for us!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Happy Solemnity of Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe {with FREE Printable Liturgical Year Binder Page}

Get Your Free Printable

Happy  Solemnity of Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and last Sunday of the liturgical year. I pray it was a year of spiritual growth for you and that you are readying for a beautiful new liturgical year as we begin the Advent season next week.

As usual, I cannot believe how quickly the past 12 months have sped by and how much I had hoped to be, do, and grow as compared to what I actually was, did, and grew...

Thankfully, I know our Lord offers amazing grace and mercy and so, although I am very much a work in progress, there is hope!  

I pray that if you, like me, feel less than prepared for Advent, you can rest in hope and simply work to prepare yourself and your home for the coming of our Lord.

I also pray that even though this is a time when each of us, of course, looks interiorally to take stock of how we grew spiritually over the past year and how we might enter into the new liturgical year seeking further sanctification, that we each might also look outwardly to see how we might serve others, modeling ourselves after our Lord, the servant king.

There are so many ways to serve and gift others... May we each make a choice to do so in tiny and tremendous ways.

One tiny way I am choosing to do so is by sharing forward a recent babystep I took toward revamping my liturgical year binders - a Solemnity of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe Liturgical Year binder printable.





  • The first page of the printable is what I am actually putting in my binder.


  • The next is one with more blank lines for you to customize if you'd like to print the page for your own binder.


  • The final page is a prayer for the day.

My desire is to create free printable binder pages like this for the entire liturgical year eventually, and as I complete them, to share them as a help and inspiration for you to live the liturgical year in your own domestic church.

If doing so would be a blessing to you, please let me know. Also, let me know what you like and don't like about the design, so I might tweak them accordingly.

May your day be rich in hope and service!


Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ, King
A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously recite the Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King. A plenary indulgence is granted, if it is recited publicly on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ, King. 
Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before you. We are yours, and yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with you, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to your Most Sacred Heart. 
Many indeed have never known you; many, too, despising your precepts, have rejected you. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to your Sacred Heart. 
Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you; grant that they may quickly return to their Father's house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger. 
Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd. 
Grant, O Lord, to your Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give tranquility of order to all nations; make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.

Prayer Source: Enchiridion of Indulgences, June 29, 1968

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Big Fish, Small Fish, Be a Fisher of Men { A Liturgical Year Drama Game}

The Feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle is coming up, so it's time to get your St. Andrew Novena prayer aids ready.



It can also be time to connect with your kids by playing another drama game that can tie into Liturgical Year. Today let me share with you a twist on the competitive improv game.

How to Play Big Fish, Small Fish, Be Fishers of Men

The game Big, Fish, Small Fish, Be Fishers of Men requires no props or preparation. You simply need a group of people in a circle.

To play:

1. Sit or stand in a circle. 
2. Tell everyone you are going to teach three cues needed for the game.  For the first, hold your hands very close together with palms facing each other as if you are going to clap and say, "big fish". Ask everyone to repeat your action. Then, turn to the right and pass the phrase and action to the next person who will do the same to the next, until the phrase comes back to you. (Note how your words and action do not match. That is part of the fun of the game. The game requires you to wake your brain up because of the incongruency between saying"big fish" but having your hands close together as if demonstrating the size of a small fish.)
3. For the second cue hold your hands, palms in as if you are going to clap, about chest width apart, and say, "small fish". Have everyone repeat your action. Then, turn to your left and pass the phrase and action along until it circles back to you.
4. For the third cue, act as if you are throwing a net across the circle towards someone and say, "Be a fisher of men." Ask everyone to reply, "Amen." To practice this cue, have the person who you "threw" the net to throw it to someone else saying, "Be a fisher of men," and having everyone else respond, "Amen".
5. Explain that to play, you will pass the "big fish" phrase and action to the right, and the next player has three choices: (1) keep on passing to the right, (2) turn to the left to pass the "small fish" phrase and action, or (3) toss play to someone on the other side of the circle by looking straight at them and throwing a net while saying "Be a fisher of men." If the player chooses to keep passing right, play continues as such until someone says the opposite fish to change the direction of play or until someone casts the net across the circle.
6. At any point, if someone delays too long before passing a cue, gives the wrong action with a phrase, or passes to the wrong direction, that person is out.

To get a visual of the straight up Big Fish, Small Fish drama game that this simple liturgical year adaptation comes from, take a look at this video. 



Then, just remember, that, instead of casting play with the word, "tadpole", in the St. Andrew feast day version, you cast with "be a fisher of men" and everyone responds "Amen". (You may wish to explain that the word we use to end prayers - Amen - means "so be it" and that the word is derived from foreign words that mean to agree with, affirm, emphasize, or approve of what has been said. Thus, in our game, we are thinking about how Jesus called on St. Andrew to be a fisher of men, and how He calls us to follow him and work to save soul, and we are affirming that call.)

What Concepts and Skills Does This Liturgical Year  Drama Game Reinforce?


Because your hands and your words don't match up when you play Big Fish, Small Fish, Be a Fisher of Men, the game makes a fantastic wake-up-the-brain game.

Some skills this game develops are:

  • listening & reacting
  • concentration
  • timing
  • following the cues of others.

Of course, it also ties in with the whole concept of St. Andrew being a fisherman that God called to be a fisher of men, which, in turn, lends itself nicely to further discussion and study about how we might become fishers of men.

If you'd like food for thought before chatting with children about being fishers of men, look here:


Begin Your St. Andrew Christmas Novena


Also remember that November 30, the feast of St. Andrew, is the traditional day to begin praying the St. Andrew Christmas Novena. After playing Big Fish, Small Fish, Be a Fisher of Men, consider what your intention might be for this year's Christmas Novena and begin praying it.

The St. Andrew Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment inn which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires,[here mention your request] through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ and of His blessed Mother. Amen.


Find Other St. Andrew Ideas.


If you would like other ideas for the Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle feast day, click on through:


Get your free printable.

We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
~Prayer Source: Prayer of the Collect

St. Andrew, Pray for us.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Advance Math in 10 Minutes a Day { An Elephant Math Review}

When our family was offered a chance to review an 12-month  a subscription of Online Math program from Elephant Learning Math Academy, I was excited.




I know my children have "holes" in their math learning and at least one of my children is "behind" same-age peers with math skills, so the idea of an automated program for children ages 2-16 that guarantees that children will learn at least one year of math in 30 minutes a week over three months appealed to me.

That said, I knew from past experience that such speedy results may not happen in our home. For my kiddoes and our lifestyle rarely rectify with typical program use and outcomes. Still, I was hopeful that at least some forward movement would occur as we used Elephant Math (as we came to call the program in our home) - and it did.



Children Advance in Skills


Two of my children used Elephant Math during our review period - one with greater consistency than the other.

The one who was less consistent advanced .6 years in "Math Age" while the other advanced nearly a full year.




I was happily surprised by this, and, thus, can say that, by whatever rubrics Elephant Math uses to measure "Math Age", children can and do advance an entire year's worth in just three months when using the program. 


What I cannot say is how the "Math Age" is determined.  I may have missed where the "Math Age" rubrics are explained on the website or within the program, but I have yet to figure out how the "Math Age" is determined. That aside, I am happy that my children are practicing math and advancing in skills.


Helpful Features for Parents and Students

Elephant Math has a number of characteristics that I think make it helpful to parents and children. The program is:
  • Economic: The program is $35 a month for up to three children and scholarships are available.
  • Family-Friendly: There are family plans for families of up to seven children.
  • Guaranteed: Your children are guaranteed to learn up to one year of math in three months when using the program for 30 minutes a week.
  • Convenient: The program is an online one with an easy-to-sue interface. There is also an option to print simple worksheets for those who like some offscreen practice, too.
  • Quick: Students only need to spend 10 minutes a day, three times a week to reap results.
  • Easy to Check In On: There are a number of real-time reports related to time use, skills practiced, passing/failing of skills, etc.
A Hit or Miss?

Even with all it's proven claims and helpful features, in our family Elephant Math sadly did not prove a "hit" for both of my children that tested the online math app. Thus, now that we are finished reviewing the program, only one of my children will continue  with it.

The one who will not 
be continuing dutifully used the program when told to so, but truly did not care for it and, when I asked for commentary for this review, that child said succinctly:

It is easy to use. You log in, hit "continue coursework" and pick a game.

 

I usually pick "Baseballs". Then, the coursework tells you in a weird voice what to do. You do it. It's easy, but boring. It does not teach me much. It reviews things. I don't want to continue it.

Despite this child's relatively inconsistent use of the program and lack of enthusiasm for it, I would say the child still progressed.

My other child did as well, will continue with Elephant Math, and had a mixed bag of things to say about the program:

I wanted to do Elephant Math because it looked like it was mostly games and it promised to teach a year of math in three months.

When I first started using it, I was kind of disappointed, because it wasn't all games. As a matter of fact, I have not found a single game on it. What I thought would be all different games is just the same math questions with different characters or themes. This might appeal to children who don't use computers or computer games a lot, but it didn't appeal to me.


I do like that you only have to use the program 10 minutes each day, because with a lot of other programs, you have to do at least 15 minutes and sometimes a lot more. So, this one can fit in easily on days when I am busy. 



I find that the problems are different, too.
When I started, I was doing multiplication and division, but not like normal multiplication and division with a problem like 2 x 2 = 4.
Instead, it was presented in a different way, which I liked, using pictures, problem solving, etc. For example, "I have 24 watermelons. If I out them in groups of 4, how many groups will I get?" I like this because it is not boring number problems that aggravate me.
Also, the program does not have lessons that teach you how to do things. No one explains anything or does a video lesson. You learn by trial and error and doing the problems, which I kind of like. 


I also like how you can see your progress immediately when you sign in and how you can see when you are almost finishing stuff.


The program also has a selection of voices that read the problems so kids who cannot read well can still use the program.  What I really like about the program is that with all the voices, you can turn certain ones on and off, so you are not stuck with voices that sound like robots or have heavy accents. You can choose the ones you like. They have them from all around the world.


You can also test out of things, I hear, but I have not figured out how to it yet. When I just told me mom I want to, she said she would help me. 
I know my brother does not want to keep using the program, because it is a little bit dry and repetitive, but I want to use it sometimes, because you only have to use it for 10 minutes a day and I am making progress.

The program says it is good for ages 2-16. I think two would be a little bit young and 16 might be a tad bit too old. The program, I think, is good for preschool, elementary and middle school age children who have a tight schedule, don't mind themes instead of games, and like to learn by trial and error.

With both of my children's experience and comments in mind, I would say that Elephant Math is worth a look if you seek an online math program that works in short sessions, assessing, where children are at and bringing them to the next level.

The program, though not favored by both of my children, helped both of them to practice and improve their math skills and it also provided us all with easy reports to check in to see how they are doing.

Learn More

Read all the Reviews.

Twenty Homeschool Review Crew families have been testing out Elephant Math. Please click through to find all the reviews if you'd like to learn how the program suited children of different ages and styles.



Connect with Elephant Math on social media.





Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

History from a Horse's Perspective {A Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Review}

My two younger children were excited when we received the Horses in History Series by author Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books and wanted get started reading them at bedtimes right away.




Both of my younger children enjoy historical fiction and thought it was clever how the four stories - AppaloosyDusty’s TrailGolden Sunrise, and Day and Night - were told from the perspective of horses instead of humans. They also thought it was cool that the first of the books was written by Mattie Richardson when she was just 13 years old.

A Young Author Meets Success!



Appaloosy 


The Horses in History Series Is Growing


AppaloosyDusty’s TrailGolden Sunrise, and Day and Night














Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books  - and, although we have not had the time to focus on using it yet, I can say it looks good and will be a boon for those who wish to do more than simply read and chat about the story together as my kiddoes and I have been doing.
The guide is 100 pages long and divided into eight sections:



  • Reading Comprehension - daily comprehension questions that can make good review of prior reading or jumping off points for discussion
  • Vocabulary - words that apply to each chapter
  • History - in depth information about the events, places, and people in the time period of the book
  • Geography - info about geographical locations, features, and landscapes
  • Horses - equine information for horse lovers
  • Biography & Research - suggestions to research a historic figure from the era
  • Creating Writing - eight small sections to learn writing techniques in order craft short stories
  • Living History - crafts or games related to the story
  • Soldier's Life - info on daily life for Civil War soldiers



-old reports:

One problem is when Levi ends up having to travel several to several stations in a row and cannot change horses, so Dusty runs the whole way and becomes a well-known horse.
Everybody loves Dusty, until he is a coward and gets scared of indians and bucks, and Levi gets captured by the indians.

Then, Dusty runs back to the station and another horse ends up helping him break free to go rescue Levi. While they are on the mission, some men from a wagon try to catch them and flour falls all over Dusty. Then, Dusty runs into the indian camp to save Levi and the indians think he is a spirit horse.
When Dusty rescues Levi, everybody loves him again.
After that, the Pony Express starts to have trouble, because the telegraph is coming through. Riders are not getting paid, so Levi quits and goes home. On his way home, he buys Dusty a surprise.
 
I like this book. It is good. It teaches about the Pony Express. I could read it on my own, but I like it read to me.  I think it is good for ages 7-12. People who like the Pony Express, history, and horses will like it.

My 12-year-old daughter had this to say:


I think this series is engaging. I like how the author writes from the animal's perspective because most people write form a person's perspective. I also like how they are shorter novels and teach about American history. 


 
The only think I don't care for is some of the illustrations.  They don't seem professional. I know both the author and the illustrator were younger people though and I like that.


One of the stories I liked was Appaloosy.
It is about a horse that was originally an Indian horse, but got captured by white men, tired to escape, got captured, escaped again... The horse was high-spirited and did not like anything on his back - people, saddles, blankets.
Then, the horse got sold to a really, really mean owner who beat him trying to make him work because he is high-spirited and has not been broken in yet.
In this time, Appaloosy meets a girl names Faith who is able to ride him because he has trust in her. She is one of the only people who could ever ride him. Faith ends up buying Appaloosy after h'es injured and brings him home. 
After Appaloosy has lived with Faith for a while he's captured by horse thieves along with some other horses from his farm.
Appaloosy and the other horses escape from the thieves ad have to decide if they should go home or go free - and going free has always been Appaloosy's dream.
You'll have to read the book to find out what chose they make.
I would recommend this series to people who are trying to learn about American history and want an engaging, imaginative and want to learn. I also recommend it to people who like horses and people like me who just want to read a story that is not boring.
I have read parts of the books myself and read most of them with my mom and brother. They are not complicated. So, I recommend them to ages 6-13 to read together or alone.

As you can see, both of my children like the Horses in History series. I have enjoyed our read together times with these books, too. 

If you are curious about the books my children did not narrate about:




In Golden Sunrise, a Golden Palomino named Cheyenne lives during the famous defense of the Alamo. His owner Jared becomes a volunteer soldier during the emerging fight for independence and travels to San Antonio, TX, where Jared receives orders to defend Fort Alamo against Mexican forces.  People like Davy Crocket and James Bowie appear and, luckily, Cheyenne makes it through.




In Day and Night, mirroring the tearing apart of families that happened during the Civil War, two sibling horses - Tucker and Shiloh -find themselves on either side of the battle. After one fights with the US Army and one with a young Confederate soldier, they see each other again, having learned quite a bit.




All four books engage children in fiction while giving a window into different periods of US History.

We have enjoyed them and I'd recommend them to others who like history, horses, and being inspired by the writings of a young author.


Learn More


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