Sunday, September 29, 2013

5 Easy Steps to Enjoying Faith and Life at the Kitchen Table

Faith and Life is a religious studies series for children that many local friends of ours highly recommend.  So, a couple of years ago, I borrowed a copy of the Our Heavenly Father student book (which is the first book in the series), its Teachers Manual, and its Activity Book from someone and tried it out with the kids.  Although the materials were well laid out and the information in them solid, the curriculum just didn't work for us.  So, we did not continue to use it at that time.

This fall, however, we have picked the series back up and are finding it a great fit for our family!

Since Luke is preparing for First Holy Communion this year -- and Nina is but a year behind him -- I thought giving Faith and Life a second try would be a good idea.  So, at the beginning of the month, I decided to make Our Heavenly Father our family's Sunday breakfast reading.  No teacher's book.  No Activity Book.  Just our family, one copy of the student book and a five step routine for enjoying each chapter.

Our 5-Step Routine for Reading Faith and Life Together

  1. Do a quick picture study.  Each chapter begins with a full page reproduction of a beautiful piece of fine art.  We study these, Charlotte Mason style, discussing what we see in the images and sharing our thought about them.  To get the children really looking at the pictures, I often challenge them to look at  them for 15-30 seconds, trying to remember x number of details about it.  Then, I hide the picture and they narrate back what they saw.  From there, we chat a little about what the picture might mean, thoughts about its composition or whatever else strikes our fancy
  2. Read the text in a conversational way.  Since Our Heavenly Father is written for children in first grade, it is an easy read that lends itself to reading conversationally, which is exactly what we do, pausing to let the children answer its rhetorical questions and dialoguing with the presented information.
  3. Enjoy a playful quiz.  We use the Words to Know and Catechism Question sections as the basis for oral quizzes.  (Our children actually like these!  If they did not, I would make them into a hands-on game.)
  4. Pray!  Of course, we practice and pray the prayers at the end of each chapter.
  5. Play a game or do a movement activity. When we have time, or at any point when the children are getting to antsy, I make up movements or games related to topics in the chapters that we can play around the breakfast table pp or even one that get us up and about moving around.  For example, with Chapter One, we played God Made-Man Made, a game I will post about in coming weeks.
And that's that.  Our succinct, effective and enjoyable approach to using  the Faith and Life series as a family around the kitchen table.

How do you approach using Faith and Life or other religious education books as a family?  Are there any particular books or series you'd highly recommend, particularly for families with children of First Communion age and younger?

(If you receive this post via email and cannot see the linky, be sure to actually click over to the blog to read browse the rich catalog of ideas there.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

An Easy, Active Game for St. Michael's Day (with a Free Printable)

Luke as St. Michael Last Year in the Frugal Costume He Helped Make

Next Sunday is St. Michael and the Archangel's Feast Day, so today I thought I would share a quick and easy game we played last year during our homeschool Co-op's All Saints Day party, which could just as easily be played at home with your children.

The game is easy to set up and includes climbing and throwing, plus some running if you wish, thereby encouraging lots of motor skill coordination and proprioceptive input.

The set up of the game, as we played it, was super simple.   

We draped the top of a ladder with a "heavenly" blue fabric and placed both a stuffed snake and a stuffed dragon on it, as well as a game challenge card. Further away on the floor, we placed some dried stalks to represent brambles.

Get this here.

 With each group that rotated to the game station, we looked at the image on the game challenge card, used it to briefly discuss what we knew -- or could figure out -- about St. Micheal, read the Scripture verse on it, and, then, one by one, let the children climb to the top of the ladder to select either the snake or the dragon (as symbols of satan) to throw as far as they could into the brambles.

We selected children whose turn it was not to be our "runners" and "markers", either getting the stuffed toys for the next person in line or marking where previous throws were to see if the next person could out-distance them.

It was simple, but fun!  Children asked to play again and again. 

If you'd like to play the game, too, or to simply use the sign for it for a picture study, please feel free to download the sign here.

Nina Playing with Our St. Micheal's Symbol Cards Last Year

You may also want to check out our Resource Round-Up for Planning a St. Micheal's Tea, which is chock full of ideas and links for St. Michael's Day decorations, foods, prayers and activities, and, if you haven't grabbed them yet, print out a free copy of our St. Micheal's Symbols 3-Part Cards.  I made them for my children last year, and they loved them!

What are your favorite games and motor activities for celebrating with the saints?


(If you receive this post via email and cannot see the linky, be sure to actually click over to the blog to read browse the rich catalog of ideas there.)

This post is also being shared at Upsidedown Homeschooling Hearts for Home Blog Hop.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Make Way for Ducklings Duplo Challenge

In late summer, I found older copies of Five in a Row, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 at a library in a neighboring town.  Since we love reading and extending what we read here, I thought I'd give officially "rowing" a few books a try.  So much for a few though, we have yet to stop enjoying our first row -- Make Way for Ducklings -- a book we have read before, but never with as much depth, fun and extensions as we have been doing for the past few weeks.  For while, yes, suggested "rows" are but a week long, we seem to be meandering longer with this pick!

Lego Ducks! 

As a side trip in officially rowing Make Way for Ducklings, the children enjoyed building a variety of Lego Duplo ducks using patterns found online as well as their own imagined designs

The step-by-step design patterns we used all came from Building Examples, a site from which I printed out the three available duck pattern pdf’s, as well as one bird one.  I loved this selection since the designs ranged from super-easy ones, which I could make into easy "tray work" to get the kids started with their duck designs, to much more challenging ones, which could inspire more complex creativity.

In a Montessori-inspired way, I slipped print outs of the two easiest designs into a page protector and placed them on a tray with a small bin that contained only the blocks required to complete the designs, thereby ensuring control of error.  The two more complex step-by-step designs I tucked into larger bins of Duplos in the children's open-ended play shelf.  I also searched online for images of other Lego ducks, which the children used as inspiration for building their own designs. 

And what designs they built!   

Extending a Modeled Design with a Pong atop a Castle

Paying it forward, I wanted to include some printable images of my children's designs so that your little ones could use them as patterns.  However, now that I am sitting down to look at the pictures I took, I am having difficult time remembering which of the many Duplo ducks were copied from images that we found online and which were their own amazingly inventive creations.  I know there were more of the latter than the former, but I would hate to credit my kids with something they copied from another child's design.  So, instead of creating a printable, I am simply sharing a few snapshots here of some of the kids' designs.  I hope they inspire your own children to build an enjoy!

Jack's Minimalist Design -- Simply a Head/Beak and Body

Nina's Awesome Creations, One On Its Legs, One Swimming

Luke's Hungry Duck with Open Beak

Learning Connections

As we enjoyed this activity, we naturally wove in lots of "academic" learning.  For example:

  • Sorting and Classifying (Math):  Before beginning our build challenge, we sorted out Duplos by colors and shapes.
  • Science/Anatomy:  We talked about the parts of a duck and how we might represent these in our creations.  (Note tail feathers, wings, feet, open beaks, closed beaks, eyes, etc on the kids' different designs.)
  • Design/Engineering:  We followed models to understand design principles and then imagined and built our own designs, sometimes freely and sometimes with parameters, such as, "Design a swimming duck," or, "Design a duck with all the typical duck parts."
  • Language Arts:  In our home, few things come without some sort of dramatic play and storytelling, and, most certainly our Duplo Ducks were not just build-and-sit projects.  They swam and adventured all over our home. 

Play?  Lessons?  I'd call our Duck Duplo Challenge a hybrid.  The kids?  They'd call it just plain engaging fun!

What extension activities have you enjoyed while rowing Make Way for Ducklings?  Do you have favorite Lego Challenge design sites?  Do share!

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

An Easy Way to Teach Young Children about Baptism

Last month, Nina’s baptism anniversary arrived before I had made time to plan for it.  Determined not to let another year go by without honoring the occasion, I decided to make the anniversary the primary focus of our day.  So, we reminisced over photos, read about John the Baptist and Jesus, visited Jesus in the tabernacle, prayed special prayers, enjoyed a family meal together and even centered some of our learning time on exploring the signs and significance of Baptism.

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After consulting Moira Farrell's Home Catechesis Manual and Google for ideas, I was able to put together an easy Baptism tray with found materials from our home, which was a hit with my kiddoes.

Our Montessori-Inspired Baptism Tray
A Sacraments-Based Tray with Practical Life, Story Telling and, of course, Faith Formation Connections

  • a bowl with water
  • a small pitcher
  • a small container of scented oil
  • a basket
  • a doll (in the basket)
  • a white garment (for the doll)
  • a cloth
  • a white candle
  • a smaller candle (or several)
  • 3 white paper (or cloth) circles
  • matches

Main Goals 

Nina blessing "Baby Nina" with the Sign of the Cross on her Baptism Anniversary Day

  1. To explore the Sacrament of Baptism in a concrete way.
  2. To describe the signs and symbols of Baptism.
  3. To recall our own baptisms and discuss the meaning of it

Set Up

Place a bowl with water, a small pitcher, a small vial of oil, three white circle, matches, a small white candle, a larger white candle, a cloth and a basket with a baby doll and a white garment on a tray as pictured above.


Luke Taking a Turn with the Tray
  1. Invite children to gather around the tray you have put together.
  2. Briefly introduce the Sacrament of Baptism by recalling the children’s own baptisms, a recent or upcoming baptism you’ll attend, Baptism stories in the Bible or similar.
  3. Present the tray by tweaking scripts found in Moira Farrell's Home Catechesis Manual or through online sources to suit you and your children.  (A helpful online source is the Baptism pdf found when scrolling down this page or the youtube video found here.)
  4. Put all the materials back carefully on the tray, just as they were when you began your presentation.
  5. Invite children to explore with the tray, listening to them present as you did if they wish you to.
  6. Place the tray in a “home” and allow children to explore it further.
  7. Extend learning with other activities if you wish.

Skills, Learning and Concepts
  • Faith (role playing what happens during the Sacrament of Baptism; understanding symbols and significance of Baptism)
  • Early Literacy (storytelling, sequencing)
  • Practical Life (filling, pouring, dressing, undressing, etc.)
  • Focus (concentrating on pouring and on remembering sequence)

Nina Anointing Baby with Oil
  • Of course, open flame can be dangerous around young children.  Use matches and candles with caution.  Do not leave the matches out to be used without supervision.  Depending on the children you are working with, you may wish to use battery-operated “candles”.
  • The paper circles we used got wet and had to be recycled fairly quickly.  You may wish to use cloth ones or to have another tray nearby for tracing and cutting paper circles, which would be a great go-along for fine motor work.

Homeschool Method/Approaches Connections
  • Montessori:  Our tray was directly inspired by Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and Godly Play, which are both Montessori-influenced faith formation programs

  • Unschooling:  When/if children ask about Baptism – its significance, what actually happens at it, etc., you could easily put together a tray like this to help them discover answers.

  • Reggio:  Skip the demonstration, leave the tray out at as a provocation/invitation and see where the children take things.

  • Sensory Smart:  This tray inherently contains strong tactile and olfactory input.  Depending on how a particular child reacts to the sensation of getting wet, or to the scent you choose for the oil oil, this activity can be used as a calming and focusing one or as an alerting one.

Jack Concentrating on Pouring the Baptismal Waters Three Times.
  • Moira Farrell's Home Catechesis Manual
  • a wonderful Godly Play Baptism Script pdf that I found after scrolling though this page
  • various online images and blogs; some of which I pinned for my future reference and for yours, if you like.
  • a helpful pdf on Baptism from the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Hopedale, MA which I can no longer find online

How do you teach little ones about the Sacrament of Baptism?
I’d love to hear about it or to have you share links in the comments here.

Want to be inspired with others' Montessori ideas and work?  Click on over to Montessori Monday and enjoy.


(If you receive this post via email and cannot see the linky, be sure to actually click over to the blog to read browse the rich catalog of ideas there.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Baby Steps to Better Breakfasts: Produce Power! (with Free Printable 3-Part Fruit Cards!)

Three years ago, I began using “Fruit first!” as a motto with my children to encourage them to choose produce before anything else in the morning.  To help them with this choice, I sometimes even greeted them first thing in the morning with a variety of fruits to nibble on or to squeeze the juice out of.

Likewise, I started the 2013 calendar year off with an effort to instill a “Raw Foods First” habit for myself – reaching for raw nuts, seeds, fruit or veggies first thing in the morning.

Both of these initiatives worked for us for a time. 

However, somehow, towards the end of last month, I noticed that our healthy habits had slipped.  We were reaching less and less consistently for Produce Power first thing in the morning.

That’s not good.  I thought to myself.  Time to make it better!

So, just before September began, I shared my observation with the kids and asked them what they thought would help us all focus on Produce Power first thing each morning.

Luke’s suggestion was, “First we eat all the starch in the house, then all we’ll have left is the protein...then the produce... then we eat our whole house.  Every wire.  Every battery.  Every chair.  Every crumb.  Every ant.  Every mouse.  Every shelf.  Every book.  Every tile.  Every pot.  Every pan.  Each other...”  Yep.  That’s my Luke.  My carb-(and apparently non-food-item-) loving boy with a great imagination who gets more and more ridiculous with every giggle he is able to elicit from his younger siblings.

Jack of course burst forth with many giggles as Luke went on and on, and, then, dovetailed his own suggestion on Luke’s, saying, “Eat the ceiling and the couch... and the tree....and a mouse.... and a squirrel ... and a chipmunk...”  (Oh, if only the mimicking could be the opposite way around, with big brother modeling after little brother in eating habits.  Then, my entire Produce Power campaign would be a non-issue since Jack happily chooses more fruits and veggies than either of his siblings ever do!)

Lucky for me, Nina’s suggestion was far more practical and succinct than either of her brothers’ had been: “Buy fruits that we like.” 

That was a baby step this mama could handle.  Done and then some!

The children and I created a list of fruits that the kids like.  I went out an purchased a variety of them.  The kids enjoyed strawberries and Asian pears first thing the next morning and we’ve been going strong ever since, with at least a little bit of fruit each day before the rest of breakfast.

Then, because the turning of the calendar page to September has had me in a mode focused on consciously encouraging independence and learning for my kiddoes, I took things a step further:  I made some Produce Power (Fruit) cards for us, which I am sharing here in case anyone would like to use them for pocket chart menus, encouraging healthy eating or early language lessons with their children.

On the cards are fruits my children favor as well as some that I am working on getting them to accept.  If any of your children’s favorite fruits are not included and you would like me to make additional cards, just list the fruits in the comments and, when there are eight of them, I will make an additional page to share.


What baby steps towards better breakfasts are you taking this month?
This post is being shared at Living Montessori Now's Montessori Monday.  Check out other helpful Montessori ideas there.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Quick and-Easy Craft for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Plus Some Ideas for Mary's Birthday Today!)

As my children and I sculpted with packing peanuts, water and toothpicks the other day, exploring all the different ways we could use the materials, one of us spontaneously made a cross shape and others followed.

Later, as I looked at the calendar and realized September 14 is the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Triumph of the Cross or Feast of the Cross – whatever you want to call it), which is a feast we have not yet really celebrated in our home, I thought, What a perfect activity to reprise on that day! I also thought, I just have to share this simple, eco-friendly idea in case anyone wants an inexpensive, easy, open-ended activity to enjoy as a family on the Exaltation of the Cross Feast Day.

Truly, you cannot get much easier than this one.

How to Make Packing Peanut Crosses

 Simply set out a pile of some of modern packing peanuts (the kind made out of corn, not styrofoam) and place some toothpicks and some shallow dishes of water next to it. Then, let imagination take over.

Dip the peanuts into water and squish them gently together with other peanuts. Use toothpicks and peanuts together. Mold some peanuts into a ball shape to represent the world and sculpt a cross on top of it. Go as simple or elaborate as you wish!

A Caveat

Just don’t try to eat the peanuts as a tweezer-wielding kiddo of mine did. For although the peanutes are made from corn, and have a distinctive (and apparently appealing to young lads practicing fine motor skills) aroma when they are wet, they probably are not the most nutritious thing in the world!

What is fortifying, though, is our heritage and faith. So, once your children have sculpted crosses, you may wish to allow them to play and create freely with the remainder of the peanuts while you chat about the significance of the day, pausing at times to pray.

A Quick Nativity of Mary Round Up 

I wasn't thinking ahead last week, so I did not share ideas for the Nativity of Mary -- which is today!  So, I thought I'd close today with a quick round up of past ideas for those that would like some last-minute ones or those that want to continue the celebration throughout the week.

What crafts and traditions does your family enjoy for the Nativity or Mary and the Exultation of the Cross?


(If you receive this post via email and cannot see the linky, be sure to actually click over to the blog to read browse the rich catalog of ideas there.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Child’s Geography: Explore The Classical World ~ A Rich Resource Review and Giveaway!

When I was a kid, I never liked geography or history very much.  Such subjects were simply too dry for me – or so I thought they were, because of the way they were introduced and taught to me. 

As an adult, things have changed.  My husband, children and I love history and geography!  We read book after book about it and then find ourselves diving into hands-on projects that our readings inspire.  So, when I was offered a chance to receive an e-copy of Knowledge Quest's  A Child’s Geography: Explore the Classical World by Terri Johnson in exchange for an honest, I jumped at the chance. 

I am glad I did.  For just this morning at breakfast time, Luke asked, “Mom, can we read more of that history thing again?”  Yep, he’s hooked and, I am confident that Nina and Jack will get there, too. 

 A Child’s Geography: Explore the Classical World is definitely going to be an integral part of our homeschool endeavors this year.  I’d recommend that like-minded homeschoolers, after-schoolers and just folks who like history and geography check it out, too.  Keep on reading for a review and then two giveaway options!

* * * * and ¾’s


Imagine sailing away to the countries around the Mediterranean with little clue about the region’s culture, food, landmarks, history and terrain.  You might enjoy yourself some, but you’d likely feel a bit lost.

Now imagine that as soon as you set foot in the first country, a woman walks up and offers to show you around.  She knows the ins and outs of the place – both present and past – and happily chats with you about them as she accompanies you on your journey.  Wouldn’t that exponentially enrich your experience?

That is what A Child’s Geography, Vol. III, geared at grades 1 to 6, does for history and geography studies, in my opinion, when compared to the way I was taught history growing up.

Truly, Luke, Nina, Jack and I have been reading it, I have been thinking, “Wow!  I wish my textbooks back in the day were this conversational.”  I am glad I can bring my children on a virtual tour of the Classical World through the book’s conversational text and well-chosen images.  It is an easy, informative and engaging read, and, as I mentioned earlier, has become a requested-by-Luke one here.

Last spring, we started dabbling with The Story of the World and related picture books, and, even as my children dove into Egypt studies, Luke began asking when we might get to explore Greece and Rome.  So, I knew before I even read A Child’s Geography, Vol. III that it would be relevant reading for us this year. 

Before I received the e-book and its accompanying materials, I did not know quite how relevant it would be.  I love the way the book ties history together with modern times, taking us on a present-day voyage throughout 10 countries around the Mediterranean, while weaving in historical facts and myths.  (My children especially love the “stories” of the past!)


A Child’s Geography, Vol. III is more than just a book. It is a self-standing history-geography curriculum that comes in the form of a 224 full-color print or e-book, along with a CD-ROM3 or e-version of bonus materials.  Overall, it includes:

  • engaging, conversational text and vivid full-color photos, in a “living book” style
  • narration prompts to help with narration and to cement learning
  • notebooking, timeline and mapping activities for context
  • helpful pronunciations and full definitions in glossary
  • ideas for supplementary activities that focus on art, music, poetry and the mouth-watering food of each country (although, we cannot try most of that with our restricted diet!)
  • an optional prayer walk for each country
So, whether you’re a hands-on, experiential sort of family, or one that just wants and open-and-go book curriculum, this resource can work. 

I want to give  A Child’s Geography Volume III: Explore the Classical World a full star for longevity, because I know my family will use it this year with me reading it to the kids and that we will probably revisit it least one or two more times in years to come, with the kids reading it to one another, as we cycle through from ancient times to modern ones and back again.  However, I am also aware of many wonderful history programs and some families need for change, so – being honest – I would guess that some families might not get more than one year’s use out of the materials.  So, while I think that year would be a completely enriched one, in deference to the fact that the resource may only serve some families for a single year, I am subtracting a portion of a star.

Our family has been enjoying A Child’s Geography, Volume III:  Explore the Classical World and I honestly feel that even though we received it free in exchange for an honest review that it would make a great buy for others.  For while living books from the library, internet searches and, yes, even dry encyclopedias could provide similar information to the A Child’s Geography resource, time IS money and personality goes a long way. 

A Child’s Geography, Vol. III, in my opinion, is worth its price in that the work of collecting ideas and information is done for you, so you can dedicate your energy to the process of enjoyable learning (as opposed to vetting loads of library loans and Google search hits).  And, while you are dedicating your time to learning through the materials, you can enjoy the text’s conversational tone – which makes learning more engaging.

Want Your Own Copy?

If you think your family would enjoy A Child’s Geography, Volume III:  Explore the Classical World, enter either of the giveaways below for your chance to win a free copy of it (and more!)  If you don’t win, or if you just want to grab a copy of the book now, you can purchase it directly from Knowledge Quest.  (You can also download the first three chapters as a preview there!)

The e-book like we have is $24.95; a softcover book version $34.95.  There is also pull out map of the Classical world that you can purchase for $9.95, which can be bundled with the softcover book and map for $39.95.   Or, if you want to go whole-hog, you can get $23 off the price of buying A Child’s Geography Volume III, and its predecessors, A Child’s Geography: Explore His Earth and A Child’s Geography: Explore the Holy Land  for $79.95, which is $23 off buying them separately. (Of course, you can get the book at Amazon, too, but you’ll miss out on the fabulous bundle opportunities!)

Giveaway Options

One Training Happy Hearts reader will get a chance to win a digital copy Explore the Classical World! (Enter in the first Rafflecopter below.)

One other lucky person will win the Mega Prize Pack offered  at a number of reviewer's blogs.   (Enter in the second Rafflecopter below.)  The Mega Prize Pack includes:

A Child's Geography Volume 3 with Wonders of Old Timeline Book ($59.90) Treasury Membership ($99.95)
Philosophy Adventure Physical set ($89.95)Romans, Reformers, Revolutionaries Intro Pack from Diana Waring ($64.95)
Writeshop Primary Level (winners choice of A, B, or C) plus Activity Pack plus You Can Write A Story ($51.85)

Raising Real Men prize package ($100) Raising Real Men Book, My Beloved and My Friend Book, A Cry From Egypt Book, Boot Camp 9-12, Hero Tales Complete set
A Journey Through Learning $50 Gift Certificate3 Months A+ Tutorsoft ($49.95)Lilla Rose (2 Flexi Clips) ($32.00)
See The Light (2 DVDs) ($30)
King Alfred's English and Baktar (Laurie White) ($25)

Giveaways valid to US mailing addresses.  Winner will be selected 9/13/13 and winner will have 36 hours to claim the prize. Martianne at Training Happy Hearts is not responsible for prize fulfillment.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Disclaimer:  I  received A Child's Geography: Explore the Classical World in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to provide a positive review.  Also, this post contains affiliate links.  If you click through them to make a purchase, the purchase will not cost you anything extra, but we may receive a small percentage of the sale.  We thank you for supporting us this way!

September Life and Learning Menu

So long, Summer.  Hello, September.

I started pulling together monthly Plans and Possibilities menus three years ago, but let the initiative go as other things took priority.  Now, as the traditional school year begins in my town, so, too, does my desire pick back up on cataloging seasonal ideas to guide and enrich our daily life and learning activities at home.  Thus, I have dug through notebooks and piles to collate the many September-related ideas I have jotted down throughout the past few years.

As I did this, I realized that my former categories for listing Plans and Possibilities no longer work for me.  They were too academic-based, and, although we still focus on learning in a variety of “subject”-specific areas, the truth is that we have come to do so in a more “real life” sort of way.  Lines between what is “school” and what is “life” get blurred.  Activities that focus on specific academic subjects blend.

To better reflect the way we approach life and learning now, I have tweaked the category titles for my September Plans and Possibilities list.

The way the list is now organized, I think, will better help me to select ideas and activities from it to put into actual practice – following my children’s needs and interests while also guiding them to explore new topics and experiences.

My intent is to use the list as a springboard for mapping out our weekly schedules and preparing our home environment for learning.  Each week, I intend to select books to read, trays or baskets of activities to enjoy and meal plans to delight in centered around items selected from our September Plans and Possibilities menu.  Likewise, every day, I will look to the menu as I decide which daily living activities we might focus on and what outings, if any, we might head out to enjoy.

With our September Plans and Possibilities menu at the forefront of my mind, I hope to embrace life and learning with my children that is full, but not too full – purposeful and enriched without being overwhelming and overly-eclectic. 

I offer the list I have collated here in hopes that it may also inspire or supplement your own family’s September plans, both this year in the future.  As I do, I invite you to share forward your own favorite observances, activities, book basket picks, recipes, crafts, traditions, etc.  So, thanks in advance for leaving a comment about them.

Now, without further ado:

Our September 2013 Plans and Possibilities

Family Sabbath Days and Daddy-Kiddo Date Opps

Daily Living Activities and Household Tasks to Focus On (with and without the kids)

  • Re-focus on Five Before Breakfast (Life Skills / Practical Life)
  • Focus on Fruit First as a part of Better Breakfast Month (Health / Practical Life)
  • Re-focus Hair-Hands-and-Face Routine. (Health / Practical Life)
  • Rebuild Intentional Morning and Afternoon Rhythm of Experiences, with time focused on developing skills and knowledge, as well as exercising imagination (Blend of Topics / Subjects)
  • Re-focus on Lunch-and Rest Time, encouraging a time of quiet and resetting each afternoon (Health)
  • Re-focus on Times before Eating (Care of Environment)
  • Family Journaling (Writing and Art, Personal History)
  • 5 T’s for Bedtime (Practical Life/ Life Skills)
  • De-critter Attic (Care of Environment)
  • Start Attic Access Project (Care of Environment)
  • Put on New Screen Door (Health and Care of Environment)
  • Switch Out Seasonal Clothing and Purge Outsized Clothing (Care of Environment and Virtues)
  • Continue to Declutter and Organize (Care of Environment)
  • Knock Off Items on Monthly/Seasonal Task List (Care of Environment) to be shared another day)
  • Purchase and Plant Spring Bulbs (Science)
  • Clean Out and Wash Car (Practical Life / Care of Environment)

Books to Read

Work Tray, Basket and Project Ideas/Themes

  • Baptism Presentation Reprise (26, Jack’s Anniversary)
  • Make a Liturgical Display with the Kids -- Liturgical Season: Ordinary Time/ Color: Green, Dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, September Overview
  • Read Saint Stories – Begin map work. (Geography, Faith, History)
  • Birth of Mary Feast Day (8) Consider doing related Workbox and Montessori activities as we have done previously as an extension and enjoy playing with Life of Mary 3-Part Cards.  Perhaps invite friends over for a simple early or belated birthday tea for Mary like the one we had by ourselves before.
  • Virtues Notebooks – Responsibility, Order (Faith and Character)
  • History/Geography Notebook – Ancient History, Etc. (History, Geography, Art, etc.)
  • Phonics (for Jack and Nina)
  • Shiller Math and other Math
  • Ducks
  • Bees
  • More TBD based on children’s interests

Outings and Field Trips

  • Bank -- how to deposit money in personal accounts (Math / Life Skills)
  • Library Programs -- Scavenger Hunt for Themed Books (Library and Technology), Library Animal Art (ELA and Art), Lego Build (Science, Math, Engineering, Imagination), Game Day (Life / Social Skills), Embrace the Arts Story, Music and Movement (Music, P.E. and ELA)
  • Young Homeschoolers Playgroup (Life / Social Skills)
  • Eco Science Club (Science)
  • Young Cultivators Club (Social Skills, Practical Life / Life Skills)
  • PE Class (Physical Education, Social Skills)
  • Adoration (Faith)
  • Play Dates (Social Skills)
  • Friday Gatherings with OLQOS group (Social Skills, Faith, History, P.E)
  • Drama Kids (Speech, Language, Movement, the Arts)
  • Anniversary Walk on Beach (30) (Family History, P.E.)

Anytime Nature Observation(Science/ Art)

  • Dragonflies
  • Golden Rod
  • Seeds (bristles, burrs, helicopters, wildflowers bursting, etc.)
  • Apples
  • Crab Apples
  • Milkweed Pods
  • Bees gathering last of honey
  • Foliage beginnings
  • Squirrels gathering nuts
  • Leaves
  • Ant Tracking
  • Camouflage
  • Decomposition
  • New Moon (5), Quarter Mon (12), Full Moon (19)

Considerations for Menu Planning and Power Foods Labs Inspiration (Practical Life / Life Skills)
 Additional Inspirations – Local, National and International Observances
What are some of your favorite seasonal stories, themes, crafts, recipes, celebrations, household tasks, etc.?  Do share!


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