Friday, January 30, 2015

One Read to Inspire Your Parenting and Your Children's Self-Motivation {A Review}


We've all had them as parents, haven't we?  Those moments when frustration, hopelessness and sundry other less-than-appealing emotions infiltrate our homes.

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 It was just such a series of moments that I had been experiencing when I was offered the the opportunity to review Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told.  Needless to say the subtitle of the book caught my attention.

Children doing what they need to do without being told to do so.  That would be awesome, I thought.  But is it even possible?  

 (Yes, I was in quite a sour place!)  

We sure could use some help with motivation around here...

Shortly thereafter, I began reading Motivate Your Child with a a highlighter in hand and prayer in my heart:   

Lord, please help me hear what you want me to hear and act upon what I most need to act upon right now in order to change my heart and that of my children's.

And, so it is that I sit here several weeks later paging through a book now decorated with copious yellow lines and margin notes while my heart brims with gratitude:

Lord, thank you for this day. Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. Challenges abound.  But, hope does, too.  Today was so ideal.  It nourished me, much like the wisdom of your Word and the words of Motivate Your Child have been doing. 

What Makes Motivate Your Child Different

Go to the parenting section of any library or book store and you'll find armloads of books that pretty much say the same thing in different ways, almost seeming to treat the "symptoms" of challenges with children instead of the "prevention" and "cure" .  

Open Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told and discover a different angle.  Recognize a truth:  You're a parent for the long haul and true change can take time.  That said, if you change the way you parent now, you can change the way your children live.

Through applying the Bible to current issues in your parenting journey which involve your children's moral and spiritual development, you can see profound short- and long-term effects.  Motivate Your Child offers you both theology and practical strategies and solutions for doing so.
Written by Dr. Scott Turanksy and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN, Motivate Your Child aims to get to the heart of parenting:  the heart of your child.  In doing so, it discusses how just because something comes from the heart that something is not necessarily good.  Rather, a strong conscience and the working of the Holy Spirit can keep the heart going in the right direction.

The tips, ideas and strategies in Motivate Your Child can help you discover:

  • strategies to build strong conscience to strengthen internal motivation
  • practical, down-to-earth ways to change kids' hearts, habits and behaviors 
  • ways to get self-focused kids to think about others
  • tips for using consequences to change hearts (as well as behaviors)
  • heart-based approaches for developing responsibility and initiative
  • ways to energize spiritual training, making it a regular family event
  • suggestions for helping children respond to mistakes instead of defending, blaming and justifying

Moreover, Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told offers hope!

Hope AND practicality. Now, that's what I am talking about...

Strategies in Action:  Happy Endings and New Beginnings

Let me offer an example.

When I was reading in Motivate Your Child the other day, words about obedience and honor struck me:  

"As children learn obedience, they're learning to do what's right.  As children learn honor, they're learning to think about others." ~ p. 87

"We define honor in simple terms for children... honor is treating people as special, doing more than what's expected, and having a good attitude." ~ p. 88

"Honor builds the conscience because it increases the internal sense of obligation to treat others kindly." ~ p. 90

I realized that I've been focusing so much energy on obedience and responsibility lately, that I have been neglecting to weave in honor.  I decided I needed to begin consciously honoring my children, my husband and others a bit more and, also, helping my children to honor others, too.  I also recognized that the actual word "honor" needs to come into play more in my home.

Well, lo, tonight, it did!   

My heart was warmed when my daughter approached me, beaming, with a toy computer in hand.  She said she had a message for me:

Her brother had sent me "mail" saying he loves me and she was delighted to deliver his message.  I was equally delighted (and surprised!) to receive it.

"Thank you,"  I commented.  "What an honor.  You were so kind to be a messenger of such sweet words, Nina.  And, wow, Luke, it means a lot to Mom to read this message.  You've honored me by taking time to write me like that.  Thank you."

And so began a deluge of similar notes written on white boards and paper.  

In fact, my children bubbled with excitement as they shared their love and gratitude through simple "gifts" that honored me.  Whereupon, I took advantage of verbalizing how honored I felt and, subsequently, my son asked what I meant.  That opened up an informal chat during which I explained that he and his siblings were treating me so special, with such great attitudes and in a way I did not expect.  They were honoring me just as the Bible tells them to do.

Yep.  It was one of those awesome moments when the Spirit was moving us all in the right direction!  It was also one that evidenced for me how growth continues in my children's hearts and my own.

I pray the same happens for you and your children and encourage you to read Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told as a catalyst for such growth.  If you're anything like me, you'll find yourself picking up a highlighter as you nod with affirmation at some times and "ah has" at other times.

Pre-Order and Get a Helpful Bonus Package!

If you order a copy of  Motivate Your Child today (January 30), you an still take advantage of the awesome offer to receive $150 in Biblical parenting resources FREE from The National Center for Biblical Parenting.

To get this helpful FREE package, with video, audio and print items, pre-Order Motivate Your Child from any retailer and then email the receipt to  If you do so through January 31, 2015, the NCBP will send you a link and a special code to access these downloadable products.  


So, pre-order now at Amazon or from the National Center of Biblical Parenting!

A Note for Fellow Catholics

As might be expected from a Christian book, Motivate Your Child contains strong Scriptural references, passionate promptings to listen to the Spirit and an unabashed emphasis on leading children to Christ.  It also discusses confession and communion.  However, it does so without touching upon the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. 

Although I would feel remiss not mentioning that some details within
Motivate Your Child are not fully in union with Catholic understanding, I can also attest that there is much that is true and right within the book.  In fact, I was astounded with how many times what I was reading in the pages of the book dovetailed with Daily Mass Readings and Sunday homilies offered by local pastors.  

The nexus of the book, readings and homilies emphasized for me how Catholics and other Christians are all one faith family and how it is vital that we look to the Word and the Spirit to strengthen ourselves and our children.  Motivate Your Child aims to do just that.  It seeks to focus parents and children on what is excellent and praiseworthy and, in my opinion, does so well.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

4 Tasty Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Recipes for Our Lady of Altagracia Day (or Anytime!)

Which tasty delight on this table went the most quickly?

The Juice Wigglers (way over on the right).
That was no surprise.  

Juice Wigglers have been a long-time favorite treat for my children, and, as of last Wednesday, it appears that Juice Wigglers are a favorite for my children's friends, too!

Want to make some?

It is super easy!  Just download our Our Lady of Altagracia Menu packet and get started.

The packet includes four of the recipes we enjoyed this past Wednesday as we celebrated Our Lady of Altagracia with friends:

  • Orange Juice Wigglers
  • Gluten-Free, Casein-Free, Nut-Free Orange Cake
  • 5-Ingredient Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Orange-Banana Bites
  • Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Orange-Almond Butter Cookies

In preparation for our annual Lady of Altagracia Tea and Playdate, I typed some recipes up for my children that included easy check off boxes for the Ingredients and Method stepsWe put these in page protectors and, then, as the children helped prepare the treats, they were able to easily check off the recipe steps as they went using dry erase markers.

The result was a successful practical life food preparation session one night, followed by fun and feasting the next day!

Good food.  Prayer.  Friendship.  

(Please Note:  Affiliate links follow for your convenience.  Should you choose to click one to make a purchase, we may receive compensation.  Thank you.)


Arts-n-crafts.  Free play inside and out.  Chatting.

It was truly a wonderful time!

We hope you create some wonderful memories while nibbling on treats made using our simple recipe sheets, too.

There's no need to wait until next year's Our Lady of Altagracia Day on January 21 to do so, either.  Each of the recipes includes something orange or clementine and, since those fruits tend to be on sale right now, it's a perfect time to test them out.

Enjoy! We'd love to hear some of your favorite GFCF treat recipes, too.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Want a Perfect Picture Book Study for Martin Luther King, Jr. and Valentine's Day?

Between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Valentine's Day, our family has come to enjoy a book I found a the library a few years ago.

This post contains links for your convenience.  Some are affiliate ones, which means, if you click through them to make any purchase, we may receive income at no extra cost to you.

My children and I have snuggled up twice in the past week to re-read this favorite seasonal tale and, undoubtedly, we will enjoy it for years to come.  We all love the authenticity with which The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love and Reconciliation weaves together the story of Saint Valentine, a story about a boy who is being bullied while his father sits in jail with Martin Luther King and the timeless Bible messages about love.

Today, I thought I would share a huge list of ideas that might help
The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love and Reconciliation become a read together treasure in your home, too.  If you appreciate the story as much as we do, you might want to scoop a copy up for as low as $0.01 since, unfortunately, it has gone out of print.  (Why is it that good books go out of print?!?)

The Story

In The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love and Reconciliation, Katherine Grace Bond tells the the story of a nine-year-old boy named Marcus who is being bullied at school while his father and Martin Luther King, Jr. sit in a jail cell.

Marcus, of course, has every right to be upset, and even to retaliate.  However, he chooses not to.  While making Valentines, his grandmother tells him the story of the third century Christian that Valentine's Day gets it name from.  Marcus also receives an encouraging Valentine from his father.  He realizes the power of loving one's enemies and returns to school to make a peaceful difference!

The Illustrations

Don Tate, who also illustrated Eve Bunting's The Cart That Carried Martin, created engaging illustrations filled with emotion.  Expressive faces and postures in each full-page illustration bring the text to life life and help children further empathize with the characters in the book.    

Faith and Virtues Connections

As The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love and Reconciliation unfolds, a variety of Biblical, Saint and Character connections become evident:

  • In the opening page of the story, the main character Marcus says quietly, "There's no wrong color for skin," after being bullied about using brown as a sin-color in his drawing.  Isn't everyone created differently -- and beautifully?

  • On the second page of the story, as well as later within in, a band of angels is mentioned.  When else have you read about bands of angels?  (Perhaps the ones that came to the shepherds to announce Jesus' birth?)  Shall we pause to pray to our guardian angels?

  • The grandmother in the story returns from going out -- again -- to register to vote despite the fact that she is always told that the registrar's office is closed.  What character trait does this exemplify?  Shouldn't we all be persistent in fighting, peacefully, for what is right?

  • While Granny is comforting Marcus about the bullying he has been facing at school she says, "No need to be hating.  Jesus says to love our enemies."  She also reminds Marcus' angry mother that just like Marcus is a child, so are the boys who are bullying him,  "They're all children.  God's children."  In doing so, she provides examples of gentle Christian correction and alludes to Bible truths.  How might we correct others?  What Bible truths might we remember when dealing with challenging situations in our own lives?

  • Granny tells the story of Saint Valentine, who was wrongly jailed, yet was courageous enough to testify to his jailer about Jesus and, as legend tells, prayed to restore the sight of the jailer's daughter -- a miracle that helped convert the jailer.  What virtues does Saint Valentine exemplify?  How might we live those virtues ourselves?

  •  Marcus' daddy sends Marcus a Valentine that talks about how he and his fellow inmates began singing and their jailers followed suit, sounding like "a band of angels".  He also wrote, Have courage.  God shall overcome."  How might our words encourage others?  Have we ever witnessed examples of God overcoming anything in our own lives or in the lives around us?  What is courage and how can we demonstrate it?

  •  Marcus "knew what he had to do" and created a beautiful Valentine for Travis, the boy who bullied him the worst.  Then, even when Travis rejected Marcus overture of friendship, Marcus remembered to "Love.  Even when some folks didn't deserve it."  He felt it was what "Jesus wanted him to do".  His lead encouraged his classmates to show support and friendship.  Have you ever had your heart turned toward love?  How might you help others become more loving, too? 

  • At the end of the story, Marcus holds out his hand to Travis and says, "No need to e hating anymore.  Come on, Travis."  In doing so, he is passing on a message of love and reconciliation.  How might our words and actions testify to truths of God's love and forgiveness?
Curriculum and Activity Prompts

The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love and Reconciliation is rich in inspiration for Academic and Enrichment pursuits, such as:


  • Throughout the book, illustrations depict emotion well.  How might you create emotional evocative illustrations?

  • Eyebrows in the book's illustrations impact expressed emotion.  Explore how just changing the shape and position of eyebrows in simply drawn faces can change the emotion the faces depict.

  • The opening page of the story brings to the fore that "skin color" is not one single color.  Draw pictures using a variety of colors for skin.

  •  Marcus and his granny make valentines.  try your own hand at making some.

Cooking (Multi-Disciplinary)

  • Do a Power Foods Lab in conjunction with reading the book, exploring ginger as a power food in order to make a number of items.

  • Whip up a batch of gingersnaps to drink alongside a glass of milk (or milk alternative), just as Marcus enjoyed after school.

English Language Arts:

  • The text uses a lot of dialogue, but avoids overusing speech tags.  How might you write without peppering your writing with too many "he said"s.  How can telling actions work instead of speech tags, such as in "Best get started on those cards."  She plunked down scissors and paste and a box of saved wrapping paper from Christmas.  "There's enough here to make real nice ones for everyone."

  • What is a simile.  How might words come out "lie a steel gate swinging open" or feel "like fire"?  Might you use similes to make your writing more powerful?

  • When Marcus thinks, I'd fight back, he words are italicized.  Why?  What other conventions are used to show thought, spoken word, etc.?

  • The story ends openly, without the reader being told how Travis responds to Marcus' outstretched hand and suggestion to stop hating.  What do you think happens next?

History / Culture / Geography:  

  • "It used to be against the law in Alabama for Marcus to go to a white school."  Why?  What changed this?  Where is Alabama on a map?  When in history did such a law exist?  When did the law change?  What other stories of children who were the first in integrated schools do you know of?

  • "Did you try to register again?" Mama asked Granny.  Who could vote when our country first began?  All men or only ones with land?  Who later won the right to vote?  All white men?  Women?  Others?  In what order?  What did they do to win their rightful rights?

  • Valentine is not called a saint in this story, but a Christian.  Which Christian denominations name saints and which do not?  

  • Granny says we are all "God's children"?  Besides Christians, what other people of faith believe this?  What is the culture of these faiths?

  •  Valentine was jailed because he was a Christian and, in the third century, worshiping as a Christian was against the law in the Roman Empire.  How and why were Christians persecuted then?  How and when did that persecution change?  Are there Christians, or other faith-based groups, that are still persecuted today?  How and where?  What can be done to stop the persecution?

  • Valentine and Martin Luther King, Jr. promoted change through peaceful measures.  What are some examples of peaceful protest as opposed to violent protest?  What other historical figures used peaceful protest?

  • Marcus' classmates pin his valentines to their shirts.  Have you ever heard of this practice?  What traditions are you familiar with about valentines and Valentine's Day?

  • This book was set when the Civil Rights movement in America was in full swing.  Who were key players in that movement?  Does fighting for civil rights carry on today?  How?


  • What is symmetry and asymmetry?  Might you use asymmetric and symmetric shapes when creating Valentines?


  • How did the author immediately engage us in the story?  What makes a strong start for a story?

  • How did the author and illustrator make us think at the end of the story?  How might you write the next page if you were the author?

    Practical Life:

    • Cut and paste while making valentines.

    • Exercise fine motor skills while drawing pictures with "skin color" crayons.

    • Practice baing skills making gingersnaps.

    • Practice pouring skills pouring milk.

    Sensory Ideas

    As a mom who knows sensory challenges in children well, no book study ever seems complete without sensory savvy connections.  Some ideas and opportunities for sensory input connected to
    The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love and Reconciliation are:


    • Dialogue lines and illustrations in the book are punctuated with emotion.  Practice voice modulation and expression in imitation of these portions of the book or play a game where you say a word with a specific emotion in mind and others guess the word.

    • The valentine Marcus receives from his father is made from a paper torn into a heart shape.  Listen to how different types of paper sound when you rip them.


    • Mama served Marcus gingersnaps and milk as an afterschool snack.  Enjoy the crunch of ginger snaps and the cool creaminess of milk (or a milk alternative) while reading the story.

    • Do a food study with ginger, exploring how fresh, powdered and candied ginger smell, look and taste.  Try cooking or baking with ginger.


    • Do a blind activity where children try to match containers of powdered ginger and other spices solely by sniffing them.


    • Re-enact parts of Marcus' or Saint Valentine's stories, or scenes inspired by them.  Incorporate changes of position and level, lifting or carrying, etc.

    • Marcus draws with crayons at the beginning of the story.  Create pictures with crayons, and, then with other media, such as oil pastels, markers, paints and colored pencils.  How does each media feel in your hand, on the paper, etc.?

    • Marcus and his granny make valentines.  Using materials with a wide variety of textures, do the same.

    • The story depicts a boy who is figuratively knocked down, but gets back up.  Play a game where you relate scenarios or actions and words that might "knock a person down" or "build them up".  Have players fall downward or stand upright accordingly.


    • Making valentines can provide a feast of visual input.

    Other Times the Story Could Be Shared

    The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love and Reconciliation is ideally shared between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Valentine's Day.  However, there are plenty of other times that it would make a fabulous read.  For example, when:

    • studying about Civil Rights.

    • learning about the Saints.

    • discussing bullying.

    • focusing on forgiveness and reconciliation.

    • studying examples of how to love one's enemies.


    I would love to hear about how your family uses The Legend of the Valentine: An Inspirational Story of Love and Reconciliation and what other favorite Martin Luther King, Jr Day and Valentine's Day books your enjoy. 

    I would also like to know:  Do you find books study posts like this helpful, and, if so:
    • What books, themes, feast days or holidays would you like me to share about next?

    • Would you prefer future book studies be shared in long-post form like this or as a brief post with a printable that you could click on to get the full book study?  

    Please don't be shy in letting me know how sharing what we do here can best bless your family!

    Tuesday, January 13, 2015

    Win a Go Pro Camera and More with the Motivate Your Chid Giveaway!

    A Go Pro Camera and lots of other goodies sound sweet, don't they?

    Even sweeter to me is the idea of children who are internally motivated to take responsibility and do what is right and good.  Oh, the amount of time, energy and breath I save each time my children are motivated like this, and how delighted I am when my children's outwards words and actions demonstrate internal motivation

    To help my children and I experience more happy moments of intrinsic motivation, I have been tucking away tips and skills as I read a new book by Scott and Joanne Turansky that I am blessed to be on the Launch Team for and which, because I am finding so many helpful nuggets as I read, have become an affiliate for:  Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told.  

    Truly, when reading Motivate Your Child, I find myself nodding with affirmation and learning much as I down ideas and principles that Scott and Joanne brought to life in their own parenting journey.  I have also been taking notes so that I can offer your a full review at the end of the month.  Please come back to read that.

    Join the Facebook Party to Win More!

    Until then, I would LOVE to see a Training Happy Hearts reader win BIG with this amazing giveaway.  I'd also encourage everyone to join the Facebook Party on January 29, where the winner will be announced, and where you can win $15000 worth of housecleaning services!  (Oh, wouldn't that be a dream for me!)

    Pre-Order and Get a Helpful Bonus Package!

    You can also pre-order a copy of the book before January 31, 2015 to receive $150 in Biblical parenting resources FREE from The National Center for Biblical Parenting.

    To get this helpful FREE package, with video, audio and print items, pre-Order Motivate Your Child from any retailer and then email the receipt to  If you do so through January 31, 2015, the NCBP will send you a link and a special code to access these downloadable products.  


    So, pre-order now at Amazon or from the National Center of Biblical Parenting

    Enter the Giveaway to Win Big!

    To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told,  members of the Launch Team are sharing a wonderful giveaway filled with a Go Pro Camera, $50 Mardel Gift Card, $25 Amazon Gift Card, and book bundles from both the National Center for Biblical Parenting and Thomas Nelson Publishing! Three winners will win prizes with a total value of nearly $800! 

    motivate your child giveaway

    Here’s what you could win: 

    GRAND PRIZE  ($500+ value)

    Go Pro HERO3+ Silver Camera ($300 value)

    HERO3+ Silver captures gorgeous, professional-quality 1080p60 video and 10MP photos at speeds of up to 10 frames per second. Built-in Wi-Fi enables you to use the GoPro App to control the camera remotely, preview shots and share your favorites on Facebook, Twitter and more. Compatible with all GoPro mounts, you can wear it or attach it to your gear for immersive POV footage of your favorite activities. It’s waterproof to 131’ (40m) and built tough for all of life’s adventures. Combined with stunning low-light performance, high-performance audio and an ultra wide-angle glass lens, HERO3+ Silver makes capturing and sharing your life easier than ever.   

    NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

    The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum


    Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

    The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson   Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine  All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill  The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill 


    FIRST PRIZE ($165 value)

    $50 Mardel Gift Card


    NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

    The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum


    SECOND PRIZE ($115 value)

    $25 Amazon Gift Card


    Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

    The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson   Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine  All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill  The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill 

    To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. 

    Giveaway dates: January 12, 2015 @12:00am ET through January 28, 2015 @ 11:59pm ET 

    Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Amazon. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn. 

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    Sunday, January 11, 2015

    Enjoy 5 Festive Models of Faith for January!

    The other day, someone I was speaking with called me a "Cathoholic".  The label was not meant to be complimentary, but I chose to take it that way.  

    I would rather be addicted to belief in God and celebration of faith than to many other things.  For, while I, like many people, am a "work in progress", my greatest desire is for that progress to bring me to perfection in Heaven one day.  

    Through His grace, may that happen!  

    And, as it happens, may I intentionally direct my attention and that of my children toward great historical models of faith and trust that we might emulate. 

    January brings a number of these models...

    On the first of the year, we celebrated Mary, Mother of God with Mass, read alouds and discussion.   

    May her "yes" always remind us of the power of obedience.  May her love be a model to us of how to love.  And, may we continue to learn, study and play with Mary in mind.

    The Wisemen
    Just Before Our Epiphany Breakfast
    Last Sunday, again on the sixth of the month, and, throughout the past week, we have been celebrating the Ephiphany with Mass, crown making, tea, chats, dramatic play and read alouds.   

    May we all know the steadfast desire of the wisemen as they sought to find -- and honor -- the newborn king.  May we follow the light of His love and let it shine in and through us.

    St. Nina

     Nina as St. Nina for an All Saints Day Party
    Nina as St. Nina for an All Saints Day Party

    Next week, we will celebrate Nina's name day with a family tea 

    Like St. Nina, may we ever be afraid to speak of Him, sharing our faith, and, if it be His will, may our willingness to go forth with faith transform us and, perhaps, even be a catalyst for the conversion of others.

    Our Lady of Altagracia

    Flashback to 2011 Our Lady of Altagracia Celebration

    The following week, we will celebrate Our Lady of Altagracia, a devotion from the Dominican Republic that we were introduced to through the lovely picture book and have enjoyed celebrating since 2010 

    May we always trust in our Lord, have hope for the future, and, with grateful hearts, accept all that comes our way.

    St. Thomas Aquinas

    Friends balance books on their heads at our All Saints Day Party St. Thomas Aquinas Game Challenge.

    In the final week, we may celebrate St. Thomas Aquinas.  

    May we all be moved to increase our desire for prayer and study, maintaining humility. 

    Which models of faith, love and virtue will you be celebrating with your children this month?  I'd love to hear about your favorite traditions, books and resources!

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

    Get Your Free Epiphany-Themed Printable Phonics Game!

    Sometimes, you forget to hit "publish".

    That's exactly what happened to me a year ago when I wrote the following, but failed to publish it. 

    So, better one year and most of the day late than never.  We're just sitting down to play this again, and, maybe, you can enjoy it this afternoon, too.
    Despite Luke and Nina being on their third day with a belly bug yesterday, we did not take a "sick day" from play and learning.  In fact, while the children were immersed in various activities from our Skill and Study shelves, I decided to whip up a game that would encourage both learning and play at the same time.

    What inspired the game?

    Jack is still learning letter sounds. Nina is moving her way slowly but surely through reading and writing basic phonics. And, Luke needs extra practice reading specific blends and digraphs.  Plus, we were celebrating the Epiphany.  

    With all this in mind, as well as inspiration from the wonderful Everyday Games that the children have enjoyed from (which are generously offered by Teresa from Fun Games 4 Learning, who makes fabulous games!), I created a phonics game based on the Epiphany-themed words "king" and "star". 

    Once created and printed, we found this game easy, effective and entertaining.

    All three children were able to play the game with no problem (although Jack, of course, needed a little help from me or one of his siblings.)  Rounds went quickly and lots of practice with single consonant sounds, blends, digraphs, onsets and rimes was had.  We also took the game up a learning notch by practicing sentence-building with the words that we created on our turns.   Thus, this easy game was a win-win-win for us!

    Perhaps your young learners would like to play it, too.  Feel free to download your own free copy of Three in a Row: Complete the -ar and -ing WordsAnd, as always, if you have a request for something you'd like me to put together or write about, please leave it in the comments on this post or over at our Facebook page anytime. 



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