Sunday, April 25, 2021

Make a Mary Garden (& Enter a Contest, Too)

May is just around the corner.

So, I am already thinking about what we might do for our annual Mini Mary Gardens. I am also dreaming about finally putting together a full-size Mary Garden in our yard. 

Even if time, resources, and life do not line up for me to create a beautiful outdoor Mary Garden, though, I am excited at the possibility of inspiring my children in the creation of this years' Mini Mary Gardens by sharing with them news of  a contest the Museum of Family Prayer is running, which you might be interested in, too.

On the Feast of Mary, Mother of the Church (May 24), the Museum of Family Prayer will launch its 2nd Annual Mary Garden Contest!, which aims to  encourage gardeners and gardener wannabes to do something concrete to give witness to Christ our Life by creating beautiful spaces for personal meditation, family prayer, and observing the glorious natural wonder that God created.

Whereas traditional Mary Gardens have historically been enclosed gardens filled with flowers and herbs whose names connect to Our Lady which are planted around a statue of the Holy Virgin, the Museum of Family Prayer is opening the  proverbial field to include any space filled with plants and flowers where you and your family might go with Our Lady to focus on prayers, peace, and beauty.

A porch, a corner of an apartment, a spot in your yard...  Anywhere where you can grace your hearts and home with God's presence by creating your very own Mary Garden is fair game.

What a fun way to encourage some creative springtime planting fun and some summer-into-fall peaceful prayer.

Be sure to keep watch of the official contest page for forthcoming details. In the meantime, happy planning and planting.

Blessed Virgin, pray for us.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

AIM for Multiplication Mastery and a Bridge to Division {A Review}

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

When the subject "math" comes up among homeschoolers - especially homeschoolers with differently-wired or struggling students, the name Math-U-See typically comes up as well.

Lauded for providing effective, hands-on math curriculum materials, 
Math-U-See earns high regard. Thus, even though I am satisfied with my children's current full math curricula, when I was offered an opportunity to review Math-U-See's Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) for Multiplication with a Bridge to Division complete set I was interested.

This instructor/parent-guided student-centered intervention program is specifically designed for students 10 years of age and older who wish to increase retention of basic multiplication facts. It focuses on:

  • specific mathematical strategies for each set of facts based on a process, not tricks or skip counting
  • "key" facts and "companion" facts that help students learn more quickly (applying the Commutative Property)
  • hands-on work with manipulatives which is faded out to instant recall when faced with oral or written multiplication problems
  • a logical bridge to division

The program is also designed so parents/instructors can easily adapt to a student's pace, moving towards mastery in weeks to months, depending on the student.

Plus, the program can be used in conjunction with any math curriculum and includes everything you and a child need to move towards math mastery. That is:

  • an AIM Multiplication Resource guide with program overview, lesson instructions, and more.
  • Math-U-See Integer blocks which are integrated into each lesson and strategy
  • Paper-sized Math Fact Strategy Posters which act as a visual reminder of multiplication strategies
  • Fact Check Cards which are used as an instructional tool to help determine mastery (and, according to my daughter, are strangely "satisfying to tear apart" on their dotted lines - LOL)

  • an access code for the AIM Multiplication Digital Pack which, of course, requires internet connection to access and includes lesson videos, instructions, solutions, printable resources, etc.
So, essentially, you get quality materials in a handy slim box in the mail and digital access online that offer you all you need o help you take your child from multiplication struggle to mastery.

In our home, this handy package helped two children.

One child already knew his multiplication facts pretty well, but had a few that sometimes escaped him as far as instant recall goes. Thus, we moved fairly quickly through materials with him, using the cards to (re)check each set of facts, then moving through the strategies in the lessons which corresponded with the facts he was weaker with.

To be 100% honest, this child said that our use of AIM Multiplication was "a little boring, but helped me get better and faster" with some facts.

Mind you, we are talking about a kid who would rather dispense with hands-on manipulatives and just keep moving forward, so his comment did not surprise me, and, knowing his opinion and preferences, I began to fade him quickly from use of the integer blocks, focusing more on the strategies for target sets and practice with the word problems and such.

This worked well for us, keeping "boring" at bay and moving us toward success.

Our use of AIM Multiplication helped this child strengthen his speed and sureness with the few math facts that had him stumbling.

AIM Multiplication also seems to be helping another child of mine.

This child has long struggled with math facts and benefits from using a variety of tools to help her review strategies and work towards more instant recall. AIM Multiplication is our latest tool and is helping her work out more answers correctly even if not always super quickly while getting speedier at a few facts along the way.

Since this child tend to have a pattern where it seems like she has mastered math facts, but then later  "loses" them again, I won't be able to say for a while if the kit has truly given her final mastery, but I will say it has been helping her gain ground with both speed and accuracy - and that is a good thing.

It's also good that the product can be easily stored and brought back out if needed. Not babyish. Slim  to store. Concrete to revisit. It will be easy to take out again down the road if my daughter needs further revision of facts and strategies.

Bonus - it is already proving easy to help me with a tutoring student.

Indeed, the other day, I took out the posters and manipulatives to use with a tutoring student whose mom asked me to help with division.

Undoubtedly, solid multiplication facts help with sound division strategies and this kit is a superb tool for that.

I would recommend the kit to anyone whose older children need some help with multiplication facts as well as to teachers and tutors that work with children with a wide variety of skills and styles. The combination of online/digital printables and  videos, hands-on integer block activities, logical math strategies and corresponding posters, etc. all make AIM Multiplication adaptable and effective for learners.

If you'd like to see how other homeschoolers have been using AIM Multiplication, be sure to head on over to find links to other Homeschool Review Crew video, social media, and blog reviews.

You can also connect with Math-U-See:

Facebook | Twitter Instagram Pinterest YouTube

Sunday, April 11, 2021

A Prayer Too beautiful Not to Share

Sometimes, you read a little prayer and it touches you so much that you feel compelled to share it.

Such was the case when I read the prayer of a holy princess, Mme. Elizabeth, daughter of a king, and sister of Louis XVI in Counsels of Perfection for Christian Mothers, a fantastic and seemingly timeless read which is also available as a free audio on the JMJ site, as a pdf on SCRIBD, and as a free audio on YouTube:

The book said that Mme. Elizabeth made the prayer each morning of her life and suggested that readers repeat it daily if not v
erbatim, then, at least in its general sense.

I think that suggestion is a wonderful one, so am sharing it forward.

Please consider joining in praying regularly:

My God, what will happen to me today, I do not know; but I do know that nothing will happen to me which Thou hast not foreseen and ordained for my greater good. I accept, then, Thy thrice holy will; I submit myself to it, and desire to delight in it despite all the revolts of my reason, and the repugnances of my nature. Amen

To God be the Glory



Life is full.

So full.

But not too full to stop and savor Sunday moments.


Family time.

Time to pause.

Time to breathe.

Time to look around and give thanks to God for the glory of creation.

For brilliant blue birds spied through the trees...

For bright red feather patches - so beautifully created.

For spring blossoms.

For laughter...

For shared smiles...

To God be the glory for it all.

I pray you are able to make time this Lord's Day to savor some moments of simple beauty.

To God be the glory!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Alleluia! He Has Risen!

Pinterest perfect?

Not a chance!

Perfectly imperfect with simplicity and tradition?

You bet!

That's how we roll in our home...

For while I often dreamed of picture perfect holidays and even tried to create them now and again, our reality is often a lot more haphazard and chaotic.

So, simple traditions tend to be all that works here.

One that we tuck in just before Easter each year - as so many other families do - is dying Easter eggs.

And while I've wanted to try making natural dyes, test out Cool Whip Easter eggs, and introduce myriad other picture-perfect ways to make beautiful eggs for Easter morning, we tend to just go with ease.

Toss on "cruddy shirts" (old tee shirts that we do not care if they get ruined) and cover the table in recycled paper. Boil up some water, pour it into glass bowls, and add some vinegar drops of food coloring. Then, use oil pastels or wax crayons to decorate eggs if desired, or simply start dipping them.

Simple, traditional, low prep, and something we can manage every year despite whatever else is going on.

Low stress before the Easter Vigil, our simple tradition brings smiles on Easter morning.

Happy Easter morning!

Alleluia! He has risen!

He has risen, indeed!

Praise the Lord for all good things. May your Easter season be a joy-filled one!


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