Monday, June 27, 2016

9 Resources for Sharing St. Peter, St. Paul and the Early Christians with Kids

Ever have one of those weekends when you conclude it more tired than you started it?

That's the kind of weekend I am wrapping up. As I do, I am not complaining. It has been a full and beautiful long weekend for our family with back-to-back celebrations and learning adventures. I am, however, slightly berating myself for not completing the coming week's meal planning and learning time preparations before heading into this past weekend. For, here we are, less than a half an hour until Monday is upon us, and I've yet to accomplish such weekly tasks.

I have, however, gotten one small part of those tasks done! I looked ahead at the week's calendar to see which saint days are coming up and, realized that this week we will remember St. Peter and St. Paul as well as the Early Christian Martyrs. With this in mind, I browsed our book collection and pulled out faith-centered reading for the children and I to enjoy together this week:

{Disclosure:  There are affiliate links to Amazon,
CCC of America, and Holy Heroes below for your convenience should you want to learn more about any of the titles we'll be enjoying this week.  Should you click on any of the links and make purchases, we may receive small compensation.  Thank you for supporting our efforts in Training Happy Hearts and sharing about it here.}


 The Very First Christians is a picture book we typically read together shortly after Easter.  This year, Luke read it on his own, but we never read it together in its entirety as a family.  So, we will be reading it this week.  


The Loyola Kids Book of Heroes (which sells used for as little as 74 cents!) has portions on St. Peter, St. Paul, and the Early Christians.  Score!  We had just begun reading this book together for St. John the Baptist's feast day and now we will skip forward a bit to read about this week's saints.


Luke's beloved Dragon Slayer has a portion on St. peter, so we will be reading that as a family.

Our My First Catholic Bible (which can be scored as a used hardcover for but a penny!) has perfect illustrated scripture about St. Peter and St. Paul, so it will be our Bible study resource this week.

Of course, the trusty Picture Book of Saints (which also sells used for only a penny!) has pages on St. Peter and St. Paul, too, which will come in handy this week.


I checked out old, weather-worn, hand-me-down copy of Jesus Loved Them and there is a beautiful illustration and page about St. Peter, so it's in our pile for the week, too.


We also just happen to be in the midst of a review period for Heirloom Audio  Production's  Beric the Briton, which we have loved listening to twice already - and so we will be listening to it again this week! The audiodrama includes mention of St. Paul and the Early Christian Martyrs.


Plus, if we can find it where we last tucked it away, I will pull out our Holy Heroes St. Cecilia CD, since it also discusses the plight of early Christians.


Further, since we enjoy chilling out with family video time sometimes, I have also pulled out our copy of CCC of America's Ben-Hur film to have on hand for this week.  This is one of my youngest's favorite CCC videos and a perfect one to tie into the early Christian's theme.  The day we watch it (or the day after), I may print out the free Ben-Hur coloring page from CCC of America, too, for the children to enjoy.

I'd love to hear what your favorite faith-based picks for this week are! Are there any books, audios, or videos you'd recommend for engaging children in learning more about St. Peter, St. Paul, and the early Christian martyrs?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Our New Recipes: No-Cook Wild Clover-Chia Seed Pudding and Strawberry-Chia Seed Pudding, Too

What's for dessert?

Wild edibles in self-created recipes if you come picnic with us.

At least that is what was for dessert on our lawn tonight.  And, yes, the wild clover one tasted much better than it looked!)

Earlier in the day, a friend had posted a link to some wonderfully healthy and delicious-looking white clover pudding.  We did not have the ingredients for that pudding at home, but we did have a desire to explore what we might create with the white and red clover growing in our yard.  So, we decided to make our own recipe.

{Disclosure:  Some links which follow are affiliate ones.  Should you click through the to make any purchase, we may receive income.  We thank you for supporting our efforts at Training Happy Hearts and sharing about here.}

The children gathered clover blooms, which I sorted and "de-petaled"
, pulling petals that had not dried and browned yet and placing them in a measuring cup.

By the time we  had but one-quarter of a cupful of petals, the children tired of picking them, so my daughter and I went inside see what we could make.

We have been on a chia-seed kick lately, so we decided to experiment chia seeds, honey, clover petals, and coconut milk to make our own pudding.

My daughter thought the texture of the pudding might be best if we ground the petals first in our Magic Bullet instead of using them whole, so we did just that.

Oops!  The pretty white and purple with a hint of green petals turned into green pulp.

Not to be chagrined, we added coconut milk and honey to the pulp and blended again.

Then, we added the chia seeds and, noticing our concoction was no longer green, but hardly pretty an appetizing, added a few petals o the top.  Then - oops, again - we forgot to shake the jar vigorously in order to mix the
chia seeds in properly.  So, we ended up having our pudding set with some quite thick parts and some more fluid ones. 

That did not deter us, though.  We simply stirred it all together before serving.  Then, five out of the six people in our home enjoyed our clover bloom
chia seed pudding despite its strange hue and less-than-perfect texture.

Five out of six people also enjoyed our other creation: strawberry-
chia seed pudding.

Because we had a cup of coconut milk left in a can after making our wild clover pudding, and because we have a fridge bursting with fresh strawberries, we decided to make a strawberry pudding, too.

To make it, we washed and sliced a cup of strawberries.

Then, we added coconut milk and honey,before we blended it all together.

We poured the mixture into a jar and topped it off
chia seeds.

We, then, capped the lid, shook it vigorously, and popped it in the fridge for a a few hours.

By dinner time, it was a delightful pudding that all of us (but our one odd-child-out who does not like strawberries) enjoyed it!

I would definitely recommend trying either our wild clover
chia seed pudding and out strawberry-chia seed one before clover and strawberry season has passed.  Not every concoction we experiment with turns out to be a recipe worth sharing, but we think today's wild edible exploration is worth passing on.

Both clover and strawberries have many health benefits, as do wild honey and
chia seeds.  So, the puddings are ones you can enjoy without guilt.  

For your ease, the ingredients and directions we used to make each pudding are listed below.

Wild Clover Chia Seed Pudding

  • 1/4 cup white and/or purple clover bloom petals  (simply pull/snip petals from the flower head, discarding brown or dry ones)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons raw, local honey
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (We prefer white ones for aesthetic purposes, but black taste just as good.)

Mix clover petals, coconut milk, and honey together.  Place in a jar, and add
chia seeds.  Cover jar and shake vigorously.  Refrigerate several hours to thicken.

Enjoy as is or with whipped coconut cream and fruit toppings.

Strawberry-Chia Seed Pudding

  • 1cup strawberries
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons raw, local honey
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds (We prefer white ones for aesthetic purposes, but black taste just as good.)

Wash, slice, and blend strawberries.  Add one cup of coconut milk and three tablespoons of honey. Blend again.  Then pour into a jar.  Add 1/2 cup
chia seeds, cover, and shake vigorously.  Refrigerate several hours to thicken.

Enjoy as is or with whipped coconut cream and fruit toppings.

We've love to hear how you like (and adapt!) our pudding recipes.  We'd also welcome your wild (and spring!) edible recipes.  We are novices with wild edibles, but enjoying learning and experimenting with them.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Get a FREE St. Anthony of Padua Nature Scavenger Hunt Printable!

What do you do when a feast day, a desire for some exercise, and warm, beautiful weather coincide?  Why, you go for a saint-inspired nature walk,of course!

Or, so that is what our family did for Saint Anthony of Padua's feast day.  Modeling after an idea from Shower of Roses, I created a St. Anthony's Nature Scavenger Hunt to be used at a local conservation area.  Then, as soon as my husband got home from work, our family headed out for a simple picnic dinner and nature walk.

We started out our saint celebration with prayer, reading about St. Anthony, and chatting.

Then, we took cameras, pencils, and scavenger hunt sheets in hand and set off to find "lost" nature items, creating quick sketches of each item we found.

I know it is late to share our simple St. Anthony's Nature Scavenger Hunt sheet for this year.  However, in case you'd like to download it and use in in years to come, I am sharing it anyway.

Get your copy here!

Enjoy our a free printable copy of it!

Plan Ahead for St. John the Baptist's feast day on June 24thThis week, I was hoping to make the St. John the Baptist outdoor feast day celebration we had with friends last year an annual event, but schedules just are not working out to do so.  Still, I may resurrect some of the food and fun we enjoyed last year on a smaller scale for just my family.  If you'd like to borrow ideas, too, be sure to check out all the details at
John the Baptist's Life in Food and Water Balloon Games? You Bet!

Which upcoming saint days will you be celebrating outdoors?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Living History with an E-Guide

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}
Living history books bring happy hours of read together time to my family, yet independent study options are something I seek for my children as well.  Thus, I was delighted to be offered a chance to review the Give Me Liberty E-Guide by Progeny Press.  I thought it would offer my children and I the best of both worlds, so to speak, by acting as a catalyst for us to gather together for another fabulous family read aloud, while also providing my oldest child with encouragement to stretch himself through independent study.

An E-Guide with a Mission

Before taking this review, I was not that familiar with Progeny Press.  However, upon browsing their website, I was thrilled to read their mission:

To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!

Add a few more topics after "literature" and add "and catechism" after "scripture", and I'd say they've summed up a good portion of my homeschool mission with their business mission.

Take a look at their 61-page
Give Me Liberty E-Guide for middle-schoolers, and you can clearly see the mission in action.  Along with typical vocabulary exercises, comprehension questions, and literature device studies, the guide focuses on connections between the living history book and scripture.  It also offers a host of optional activities to engage students in further study and exploration.

A Thorough Literature Study

Give Me Liberty E-Guide is quite complete.  It offers:

  • author information
  • story synposis
  • story background
  • pre-reading activities
  • vocabulary study
  • comprehension question
  • post-reading activities
  • writing prompts
  • resource listings 
  • literary device activities
  • an answer key

...and more. 

For those that like to write, it also provides suggestions for such exercises as writing:

  • biographical essays
  • literary analysis
  • persuasive essays
  • poetry
  • research competence
  • speech writing

Plus, it continually encourages students to discover spiritual meaning connected to the characters, plot, and themes within the book Give Me Liberty.

Also, the
Give Me Liberty E-Guide comes as an Interactive Study Guide, which means you download it as a .pdf which can be printed and used as a typical paper-and-pen product, or it can opened with Adobe Acrobat Reader onscreen in an interactive format where students can type answers directly into the form.  This option for typing and saving work as students progress is a boon for those who prefer typing to writing.

Does It Meet Its Mission?

Progeny Press encourages students to read the entire Give Me Liberty book before tackling questions in the Give Me Liberty E-Guide, so that is exactly what my children and I began to do.  We added a library copy of the book to our daily read aloud pile and found ourselves getting completely immersed in the plight of 13-year old Nathaniel Dunn as he navigates his personal hopes and dilemmas amidst the turbulent times of 1775 Virginia. 

Indeed, we quickly found ourselves sad upon learning how Nathaniel became an indentured servant,  angry at the way he was treated by a man who almost bought him, excited by his impudence with a horse as pertained to that man, relieved by his meeting  kindly schoolmaster named Basil, and, in turn, tense as he grappled with decisions as the American Revolution neared.

We wanted to keep reading and reading the book, but found we needed to put it aside for a bit to fulfill some other commitments. 

While our family reading was on pause, I assigned my oldest child, who, traditionally, would be in fourth grade, Part One of the
Give Me Liberty E-Guide.  I knew the guide would be a challenge for him since it is written for children in grades 6-8, and since my son has had little experience with independent literature study work.  However, I also thought it would be a worthwhile thing to try. 

I was not disappointed.

At first, my oldest son tried the guide on my computer in interactive form, which he liked.  However, since I needed my computer for other things and my son can always use more pen-to-paper practice, I, then, decided to switch him over to a printed copy of the guide.  He groaned at this at first, but, shortly,  acquiesced and, to my happy surprise, began plodding his way through the guide with due diligence.

Granted, my son did not progress through the guide with the utmost speed or depth of answers for open-answer questions, but he made progress both in the guide and in his ability to sustain focus with an independent study.  Better still, he did not complain much.  In fact, he said:

The study guide is okay, but I prefer the book more. I also prefer the computer version of the study guide, because I prefer typing to writing.  I will complete it either way.

Considering my son's typical distaste for anything "schooly", his seemingly "meh" comments are actually "yeah" ones for me.  I knew we'd all love reading the book aloud, but I would cotton to the study guide.  He may not love it, but he likes it "okay" and that is ore than okay by me. 

Learn More

Progeny Press gets a two thumbs up from this mama. I am excited that I can use the Give Me Liberty E-Guide with my oldest, and, then, due to its family-friendly permissions, use it again with my younger children when they are ready for it.

Progeny Press
earns similar ratings with other families, I hear,  for its wide variety of E-Guides geared toward elementary schoolers, middle schoolers, and high schoolers.  You can read about some of these among the 95 reviews at Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press  Review}

You can find Progeny Press on Facebook and Twitter.

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

8 Sensory Smart Ways to Celebrate St. Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony's Feast Day is but a day away on June 13, so, today, I thought I'd offer you eight sensory-smart ways to celebrate St. Anthony of Padua.  That way, whether you want to honor him on his feast day, or do a little bit each day, you'll have plenty of ideas to choose from!

{Disclosure:  This post includes affiliate links to Amazon and
Holy Heroes.  If you click through them to make any purchase, we may receive small income.  Thank you, as always, for supporting our endeavor at Training Happy Hearts in our children and ourselves and sharing about it here, whether you do so by purchasing items through our affiliate links, reading and sharing our posts, or simply joining us in prayer.}

Delight Your Senses with a Visit to Pray at a Church Named After St. Anthony

St. Anthony is a popular saint and many churches are named after him.  Why not try to find one local to you?

If you are anywhere near New Bedford, MA, I would highly recommend going to Mass or simply stopping in to pray at St. Anthony of Padua
church. It is one of the most beautiful churches I have seen.  You can take a virtual tour of it online.

Truly, the place provides a visual feast and, being there, stirs the soul.  Of course, participating in Mass at any church provides soul food and a sensory feast, though, so , if you can , on Saint Anthony's Feast Day, get to Mass.

Enjoy the Auditory Fun of a Saint Anthony of Padua Audio

Long car rides can get tedious for children who like to move and groove, so while bodies are still for our crew, we tend to keep minds and ears engaged.  One way we do this is by listening to Holy Heroes CD's in our minivan.

Holy Heroes CD's make the stories of the saints come alive.  So ride to take today.  So, today, I will be laying hands on our copy of Glory Stories CD Vol 6: Saint Joan of Arc & Saint Anthony from Holy Heroes so we can listen to it anew.

If you'd like to listen to the
Saint Joan of Arc & Saint Anthony CD, too, and do not own a copy, you're in luck.  It is the Holy Heroes Deal of the Day, so it is a prime time to order one at 13% off!

Enjoy the Visual Fun of Coloring Free Images of St. Anthony

Although we typically listen to Holy Heroes in our minivan, sometimes we like to listen to the saint stories while playing with LEGOS, doing chores, or coloring, too.  I have already bookmarked two lovely, FREE stained-glass style images of St. Anthony at St. Anne's Helper to print and color this year. A quick Google search can find you many more images to color or paint, too.

Get Tactile Painting a Peg Doll (or Coloring a Wooden Puppet)

Speaking of coloring, if you have Sharpies, paper scraps, and fabric scraps, plus a wooden ice cream spoon, large craft stick , or wooden kitchen spoon , you can easily engage your tactile senses making a St. Anthony of Padua puppet inspired by Mary Spoon Puppets we made for Mother's Day years back.
You could also "level up" by engaging your tactile and visual senses and your fine motor skills to paint a St. Anthony peg doll.  I hope to get my own children inspired to do so tomorrow with the Saint Anthony page in our Encyclopedia of Peg Saints (which we recently reviewed).  I just love the
Encyclopedia of Peg Saints and look forward to how the facts and images about St. Anthony in it may inspire a faith-filled time of crafting for our family.

 Get Moving with a Scavenger Hunt

A friend and I have recently recommitted to weekly nature walks for our families, so I am going to share a wonderful idea from Shower of Roses with her and suggest that we engage our children's proprioceptive and vestibular senses as they search high and low completing a St. Anthony's Outdoor Scavenger Hunt this week. 

Since the links to the Shower of Roses St. Anthony of Padua's Outdoor Scavenger Hunt seem to be broken, we will simply use the image of Jessica's hunt as a model for making our own version . 

One of my children enjoys photography, so I will likely simply give her a list of items to find and photograph.  Another of my children enjoys making quick drawings, so I will probably give him a page with words of items he needs to find and sketch.  I am not sure which of these my third child will want to use, but I am sure that he will enjoy the scavenger hunt, too.

Search for Lost Items with a Tactile Sensory Bin

Several years ago, I put together a St. Anthony Seek-and-Find Sensory Bin for an All Saints Day party.  In it were a variety of dry beans and ten "lost objects".  The children loved it and, since then, the bin has made a reappearance at subsequent All Saints Day parties where it remains a hit, as well as on St. Anthony's feast day. 

Children of all ages seem to enjoy the challenge of finding tiny objects among beans.  Try it and see it if yours do, too, but be prepared with a drop cloth underneath or do it on a hard floor to make clean up easier.  Those searching hands can create quite a mess.
Get Tactile and Visual, then Gustatory, with Painted Basil Pots


This past week, our monthly Children's Adoration and More meet-up focused on St. Anthony After Adoration and prayer (plus an unplanned break in the sunshine when a fire alarm sounded), we set to painting pots to plant basil in.  

Some of these we made into "Spiritual Bouquets" for the priests who are kind enough to lead our Adoration time
by inserting craft sticks with prayer promises written on them.

Others we
simply painted and planted with the intention o f decorating our porches with basil pots or giving them away as is customary on Saint Anthony's feast day (as per the Saint Anthony of Padua website.)  We learned about this idea on Catholic Cuisine, where it was suggested that children include images of lily, bread/the Eucharist, the Christ Child, a book, or fish on their pots, since all of these are symbolic of Saint Anthony and his stories.

Of course, not every child did this, but they all enjoyed painting and potting.

Cuddle in to Read Together

One of my children's favorite calming activities is simply snuggling together to read together.  This year, we'll be reading the sweet story about Saint Anthony in our out-of-print Story Library of Saints, a copy of A Rich Young Man. Saint Anthony, and the simple page with darling illustration of Saint Anthony in a library copy of My Friends the Saints (which sells on Amazon for as little as a penny! and which we already read once at an early St. Anthony feast day celebration.)

I know there are other great St. Anthony books to share with children out there.  We simply do not own them and cannot get them at our local library.  I'd love your recommendations, though, of which ones you've read that would be worth purchasing, so please do share in a comment.

Obviously, we love celebrating saint days here.  If you have fabulous ideas for learning about St. Anthony of Padua and living the liturgical year through celebrating his feast day, we'd welcome them.  Do share.


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