Sunday, January 29, 2017

Enjoy a St. Brigid and St. Verdiana S.K.I.L.L. T.I.M.E. + and a Luncheon "Tea" Plan

Just a few days away, on February 1, is the feast day of St. Brigid and St. Verdiana, so today, I have been planning our saint-inspired S.K.I.L.L. T.I.M.E. + in connection to these saints as well as planning details for hosting a small saint luncheon tea with friends.  In case you, too, enjoy weaving saint-based learning, food, and fun into your days, too, I thought I'd share my plans.

Saints Brigid and Verdiana S.K.I.L.L. T.I.M.E. +

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  S - Spell and Learn Words  

My children always enjoy find-a-word challenges on saint days, so we will first, talk about how "St." is the abbreviation for the word "Saint" and, likewise, how "Sts." if the one for "Saints".  Then, using our movable printed alphabet, we will "write" "Sts. Brigid and Verdiana" with our printed alphabet letters on the floor, upon which, I will challenge my children (and myself) to create as many words as they can from the letters within the saints' names withing an agreed upon amount of time.  Then, starting with my youngest, we will read the words we created and see if we can each meet the goal of having written as least as many words.

I may slide a gentle grammar lesson in as well, chatting about why we capitalize the word "saint" sometimes and not others, what a common noun is and what a proper noun is.

I will also, of course, highlight phonograms my children have been working on and ones that come up as they create words and may discuss strategies we each used in creating our word lists, such as thinking of rhyming words, finding as many words as we can from the letters in just one word (Sts., Brigid, or Verdiana) before moving on to the next, or thinking about 1-letter words, then 2-letter ones, then 3-letter ones, and so forth.

K - Keep Reading to Yourself

The children, as always, will be able to choose their own reading for "Read to Self" time, including the following saint day selections and, maybe books about Ireland, Italy, snakes, foxes, as well as other creatures and things related to the lives and legends that have been recorded about St. Brigid and St. Verdiana.

Some of the books they might dip into are:

St. Brigid of Ireland (The Story Library of the Saints), which we own 
Saint Bridget and the Fox and Saint Verdiana and the Snakes (Amazing Saints & their Awesome Animals), which we own
St. Brigid's Cloak, which we have borrowed from our library system
Saint Brigid (Saints Lives and Illuminations), which we have borrowed from our library system and which is on my "buy" list
Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story, which is in at our local library for us and which I have now put on my buy list after so many years of borrowing it


I - Illustrate and Write

I was hoping to make a free printable copywork/studied dictation sheet today to share using the quote:

"I would like an abundance of peace. I would like full vessels of charity. I would like rich treasures of mercy. I would like cheerfulness to preside over all."
- St. Brigid of Kildare (451 - 523)

Time ran out on me as I attended to other needs, but we may still use the quote without a printable.  (Or, if I find the time within the next couple days, I may make a simple sheet and share it here later.)

The children may also be encouraged to color the Saint Bridget and the Fox and Saint Verdiana and the Snakes  images in our Amazing Saints & their Awesome Animals Coloring Book and, then, to write their own version of the tales, if they wish.

Or, perhaps I will have them write letters to people we know which include this blessing:

May Brigid bless the house wherein you dwell. Bless every fireside, every wall and door. Bless every heart that beats beneath its roof. Bless every hand that toils to bring it joy. Bless every foot that walks its portals through. May Brigid bless the house that shelters you.

St. Brigid of Ireland, Pray for us!

L - Listen to Reading
Along with reading some of the books listed above, we will likely read or listen to one or more of the following together:

I would love to own Life of Saint Brigid: Abbess of Kildare, but copies of it seem to be found only at crazy-high price right now.  Luckily, the book is offered free as an audio online at Ancient Faith Minisitries along with other St. Brigid day audios, so we may listen to it while we do chores, color, or craft.

We also have these stories on hold at our library, which I hope come in in time:

Saint Brigid and the Cows (Brother Wolf, Sister Sparrow)

Plus, of course, I have plenty of online excerpts bookmarked on my laptop should we have time to read more, including some from this goldmine of St. Brigid tales and this archived reading on St. Verdiana or this more modern one from the Catholic Herald.

L -Learn and Play with One Another Using Language Arts

Although I sometimes comes up with fun games for saint days, this week, I want to stick with the children and my typical 1:1 routine, which includes them reading to me and then us playing a 3-in-a-row game on whiteboards with challenge words.  We'll likely do this with St. Brigid or St. Verdiana readings.

T - Think, Read and Write About Math

The children  and I will create story problems related to the saints as we read about them.  I may also have the children
draw what 13 portions of something might look like, with the 13th portion extra big, for it is said the Brigid used to apportion the butter she churned into 13 portions to remember Jesus and his 12 apostles, and that she would always set the larger "Jesus" portion aside to offer to those in need.
I - Investigate and Problem Solve with Math

St. Brigid and St. Verdiana are associated through stories with all manner of  animals and objects.  Thus, we might use our Tangram Race Game pieces to challenge ourselves to make swords, dogs snakes, cows, and foxes.  Perhaps, I will read the children the different tales as they make the shapes.

M - Master Math Skills Together

We may measure out a space that is 10 ft. x 4 ft., the size the St. Verdiana's cell is purported to be, and then figure out its perimeter and area.  I might even have each child spend part of the day in the measured space and imagine what it would be like to live there for 3 years, alongside two huge snakes, to boot!

Also, 34 years in a cell for St. Verdiana. Thirteen portions of churned butter from St. Brigid.  The numbers in tales of St. Verdiana and St. Brigid are plenty.  With them, we can create addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems with ease.  We can also figure how long each saint was said to have lived, how many years apart they lived, etc.

Plus, playing on the idea of the two snakes that tested St. Verdiana's patience (by her own request), we can work with counting by two's.

E - Exercise Math Skills on My Own

I may have each of my children pick a number from the saint stories and write that number in as many forms as they can think of - as a Roman numeral, as coins, as an addition/subtraction/multiplication/division problem, as a date or month (of possible), in word-form, in tally marks, etc.

+ Extra Learning and  Fun

  • Virtues:  We will likely discuss piety, generosity, patience, and mortification in reference to St. Verdiana and piety, generosity, perseverance, joy, hospitality, and morein relation to St. Brigid.
  • Practical Life:  We will likely have Irish-oatmeal for breakfast, which the kids can help make.  For dinner, if we are feeling ambitious, I may enlist the children to help make slow cooker GFCF Irish Stew or One Hour Vegan Shepherd's Pie for dinner in celebration of St. Brigid's Irish heritage.  If we are not up for that, I will have the children help me make Irish and Italian "flags" out of produce and whatnot to celebrate both St. Brigid's and St. Verdiana's countries of origin.

  • Culture/Geography:  Of course, we will find Ireland and Italy on maps and globes, and we may also chat about Irish and Italian culture, as well as traditions connected directly to the saints, such as hanging out a piece of cloth or ribbon to become a piece of St. Brigid's mantle.

  • Survival Skills:  It is said, among other things, that St. Brigid kept a fire perpetually burning.  Depending on how the day goes, perhaps we will make an outdoor fire and try to cook some potatoes in it.
  • Music Appreciation and Song:  Youtube has a wide variety of songs about St. Brigid as well as plenty of Irish music, so music should be no problem.
  • Art:  Obviously, with so many possibilities for learning and fun on this day, there will be more plans than putting into practice (which is okay by me, since the plans we don't get to can be used in future years!)  Among those plans are painting peg dolls, creating mixed media art, and otherwise diving into arts and crafts in regards to these saints.
Faith through Food and Fun

This year, we'll be hosting a luncheon "tea" for some friends we've been trying to get together with for some time.  We had actually planned to have them over to share in our annual Our Lady of Altagracia celebration but Nana's passing canceled that.  So, this week, we'll be celebrating a triple-saint "tea", honoring Our Lady of Altagracia, Saint Brigid, and Saint Verdiana.


With so many saints to celebrate at once, our decorations will be simple.

  • the table will be covered a white table cloth layered with a blue fabric with golden "stars" on it since Our Lady of Altagracia's veil and St. Brigid's mantle are both sometimes depicted as blue with stars.
  • a green candle will remind us we are in Ordinary Time again (though some, traditionally consider the seasons Christmastide straight through Candlemas on February 2) and a white candle will remind us of the purity of the saints' love for God.

  • several of the aforementioned picture books and/or printed images of the saints will adorn the head of the table.
  • my Our Lady of Altagracia peg doll (from the lovely collection I have form a local Marian peg doll swap), a St. Brigid cross (if I have time to fashion one), and some dry beans to remind us of St. Verdiana's charitable heart will also adorn the table.
  • a globe, so we can locate Ireland (for St. Brigid), Italy (for St. Verdiana), and the Dominican Republic (for Our Lady of Altagracia)

Tea Time Fare

Our menu will be eclectic, since we are celebrating three saints and accommodating multiple food allergies, intolerance, and preferences between our two families which preclude things like Irish bread, Irish stew, and popular St. Brigid Day fare.  However, somehow we have managed to plan a gluten-free, casein-free, menu without rice, soy, corn, grains, legumes, and added sugar, while still including some meat for our meat lovers.

  • The children will be able to choose from Irish Tea (for Saint Brigid's homeland), water (for St. Brigid's Holy Well), orange juice (for Our Lady of Altagracia), or chocolate almond milk (because two of my three children love that!)

  • A small bowl of oranges and clementines will remind us of the story A Gift of Gracias about Our Lady of Altagracia.
  •  To add some vegetables and some meat to our table, I will make our now-traditional "orange grove" in honor of Our Lady of Altagracia using nitrite and nitrate-free cold cuts, baby greens, and carrot slices. 
  • My friend said she is going to bring a delicious gluten-free, casein, free, paleo orange cake she experimented with (also in honor of Our Lady of Altagracia).
  • She is also bring GFCF biscuits and jam, as we have read that eating blueberry jam on St. Brigid's day is becoming customary in Ireland.  (I will add Earth Balance spread and peach jelly "marmalade" since those are one of my child's preferred spread)
  • Homemade crockpot applesauce (which my children love!) with optional So Delicious Cocowhip, will remind us of St. Brigid's generosity and the purity of her love and kindness as it  is said that St. Brigid gave away gifts of apples to lepers.  (See Bethu Brigte for more details.)
  •  Although part of my friend's family does not do legumes, since it is an intolerance, not an allergy, I will put out some chickpeas and cannellini beans to remind us of St. Verdiana and to get some protein into my one vegetarian.

  • We will, of course, pray Grace and spontaneous prayers.
  • Then, we'll add a Hail Mary in honor of Our Lady of Altagracia.

  • We also will add a spontaneous prayer related to St. Verdiana


  • We will likely read one or more selection from the books I mentioned under S.K.I.L.L. T.I.M.E. + and, possibly, A Gift of Gracias, which I have previously shared a book study for.

  • The Great Giveaway:  Although the Year of Mercy has ended, every year is a year to focus on mercy and virtue as far as I am concerned.  Thus, I thought we might read The Giveaway poem (as shared in my 2012 St. Brigid Day post) and, then, read a bit about St. Verdiana's generosity before making My Great Giveaway charts.  What I am envisioning is that each child can make a 12-month chart decorated with images of, and, perhaps, notes about, Sts. Brigid and Verdiana.  Then, they can use it to remind themselves to give something away by the first of each month (the monthly anniversary of both St. Brigid and Verdiana.
Revisit Past Celebrations and Ideas

Our family has celebrated St. Brigid's Day in one way or another almost every year since 2010, and I've written up descriptions with photographs and links for several of those years.  Enjoy clicking through to find more ideas and inspiration if you wish.

 As always, I pray that the sharing I offer here blesses your family's life and learning.  

I would also love to hear about your favorite resources, recipes, prayers, and ideas related to Sts. Brigid and Verdiana (and Our Lady of Altagracia, too!). Links and comments about descriptions of your devotions, studies, and celebrations are always most welcome.

  St. Brigid, St. Verdiana, and Our Lady of Altagracia and pray for us!


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