Monday, October 28, 2013

Ideas for November Feast Days and Celebrations

Here is the round up of ideas for November Feast Days and Celebrations. Enjoy!

Other Ideas:
November 2nd: All Souls' Day

Other Ideas:
November 3rd: St. Martin de Porres
Other Ideas:
November 11th: St. Martin of Tours (Martinmas)

Other Ideas:
November 17th: St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Other Ideas: 
Last Sunday of Ordinary Time: Christ the King

Other Ideas:

Other Ideas:
Be saints, it's worth it!

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to Make an Inexpensive, Homemade Mass Kit for your Kids

Several weeks ago a reader asked if I knew of an inexpensive mass kit for children. Of course I did! You can buy them on Etsy! Wait, no you can't.

The two ladies who were selling (update: they are now available again!) them are currently not doing so. There is the plush set by Wee Believers for $70.00 (currently out of stock on their website) and the brass set by Our Father's House for $140.00, which are great options, but outside of the "inexpensive" realm. Even the ones on Etsy were going for a justifiable $35.00-$40.00 plus shipping. So this got me thinking... if no one is selling an inexpensive set then I'll just have to figure out a way to make one.

Introducing the as little as $20.00 homemade play Mass kit for kids!

The goal when putting together this kit was to make it as cheap and easy to make as possible. So yes, even you, my "not-so-crafty" friend, can do this. And if you make multiple sets, the cost of each set goes down, so start thinking now about who on your Christmas list would love a mass kit for their kids! (P.S. According to Fr. Z, it is not a sin for your children to play mass.)

Here are the supplies that you will need:

Dollar Tree
2 Electric Tea Lights - $1.00

Plastic Chalice - $2.99
Plastic Appetizer Plate - $1.99

Craft Store
Spray Paint - $2.99
Stiff Felt in 5 Liturgical Colors - $0.99-$4.96 (You really only need white.)
Regular Felt in Cream- $0.29
Ribbon in 4 Liturgical Colors - $3.99 - $15.96 (You could chose to only do green.)
2 White Bandanas - $1.99 each for a total of $3.98
Gold Puffy Pain - $1.29 (optional)
(I went to Michael's. If you are patient you can get these things on sale or with a 40% off coupon!)

Total: $18.22 - $35.45

And here is how to make it:

Chalice, Paten, and Hosts

For the chalice and paten we simply spray painted the plastic chalice and appetizer plate that I bought at Target. For the hosts, I cut out one large circle (3.5 inches) and six small circles (1.75 inches) from the regular cream felt and then added a gold puffy paint cross to the large circle. When using puffy paint make sure to tap the bottle down before each use to ensure that it doesn't leave a yucky air bubble splat.


For the Palls I just cut 5x5 inch squares out of stiff felt and added a gold puffy paint cross to the middle of them. Palls are only found in white at mass, but to help emphasize the liturgical colors you could opt to make a set in other colors as well. With the 5x5 inch square, you can get two palls out of one 8x12 sheet of stiff felt. If your chalice is smaller than mine, you could even get up to six out of one sheet!

Corporal and Purificator

The corporal is just a plain white bandana, folded into thirds twice to make nine squares. No sewing here! You could add a red puffy paint cross to the middle of the corporal if you want to be extra fancy.

For the purificator I cut a second bandana in half and sewed the cut edges to keep it from fraying. This gave me two purificators. As to the sewing, it's just one straight line, you can do it! I then folded it into thirds and then again in half. Again, a red puffy paint cross on the purificators would be a nice touch.


The stoles are made out of 1 1/2 inch ribbon in various liturgical colors. I cut them to be 1 1/3 yards long, making it possible for me to get three stoles out of each four yard spool. This is where making multiple kits really drops the cost of each kit! More puffy paint crosses were added at the bottom of each stole.

If you really want to hit a home run in the liturgical dress up area, you can also purchase or make a white alb. Options include a $7.50 white robe from Oriental Trading Company or an altar server alb from a Catholic distributor, such as Autom.

Candles and Crucifix

No altar is complete without candles and a crucifix!

Battery operated tea lights are a steal at two for $1.00 at the dollar tree and I used a crucifix that we already had. I believe we received it in an appeal letter from a Catholic organization.


There are a few more items you can consider adding to your basic mass kit...

Finger Bowl: Used by the priest to wash or dip their hands in water at the beginning of the liturgy of the Eucharist.
Finger Towel: The priest uses a finger towel to dry his hands after his washes or dips them. The towel is like a corporal, so you could even use the other half of the white bandana for a finger towel. (not pictured)
Altar Bells: I made my bells out of some store bought bells I had lying around, cut up and painted gold wooden bamboo skewers, gold ribbon, and lots of wood glue. It's Pal's favorite part of the kit.
Holy Water Bottle: Okay, what I really want it a cruet set (this one is sold for oil and vinegar, not water and wine, but it will totally work for a playset!) but those are expensive, so I settled for just a holy water bottle for now.

And of course there are still more things you could add, such as an incensor, candle snuffer, sanctuary light, lectionary, etc!

That's it friends, get crafty and raise some saints!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Journey Across America: Maryland

This post is part of a 50 state Journey Across America. For information on the basics of this project check out this post.

The Books:
We began by reading B is for Blue Crab and then Bean used the information she learned to make a notebook page for her United States scrapbook.

Also, Bean read Kat Finds a Friend, which is a sweet chapter book that tells a story about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Waterman's Child and By the Dawn's Early Light: The Story of the Star-spangled Banner were also on the list, but apparently I forgot to take a picture of our books for this week!

Finally, we taught the kids about Maryland using the Our United States of America: Catholic Social Studies textbook.

The Food: 
For the Blue Crab State we had Maryland crab cakes!

Yes, these were store bought. Sometimes we are just going for the effect.

The Craft:
Inspired by Family Crafts, we made egg carton blue crabs. Most people thought they were spiders, but that's okay.

Our next state is South Carolina!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Journey Across America: Massachusetts

This post is part of a 50 state Journey Across America. For information on the basics of this project check out this post.

Q: Which state needed a handkerchief?
A: Mass-a-choo-setts!
(Sorry, I couldn't help it. One time 4 year old Bean did state jokes for over 200 missionaries at the New Staff Training talent show. The amount of cuteness that oozed out of her performance was unbelievable.)

The Books:
We began by reading M is for Mayflower and then Bean used the information she learned to make a notebook page for her United States scrapbook.

I just loved all of our Massachusetts books this week, and so will you. First, there is Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg. John Chapman, aka "Johnny Appleseed", was born in Leominster, MA.  I remember reading this as a kid.

Next, Make Way for Ducklings is another great classic that you can find tons of ideas and resources for, partially because it is a Five in a Row book. Delightful Learning has a whole host of ideas that you can sift through and you can also check out this board on Pinterest. Additionally, we used this google map to track the actual path of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard.

And of course I had to have Bean read Little Women! I gave her the Classic Starts version, but I would have loved to read the unabridged version out loud.

Finally, not pictured is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Paul Reever's Ride, which is another Five in a Row book that has idea boards on Pinterest! And you can study the pilgrims by reading Who's that Stepping on Plymouth Rock and The Thanksgiving Story.

Wait, finally again,we also taught the kids about Massachusetts using the Our United States of America: Catholic Social Studies textbook.

The Food:
Yumm, Mini Boston Cream Pies. I love it when our state food is a dessert. This recipe from Just a Pinch was just right for us.

The Craft:
We made a Mayflower ship for our Massachusetts craft. Here it is landing on Plymouth Rock.

I had the kids paint some packing paper brown, then we wrapped it around a shoebox with a lid glued inside the middle to hold up the skewers for the sails.

For a history lesson we made Pilgrim finger puppets to board the Mayflower and I plan on pulling this replica out with the Thanksgiving decorations this year.

Next stop on our Journey is Maryland!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Not Scary Halloween Booklist

Each year in October we are that weird family. That weird family who doesn't decorate our home with witches, ghosts, and goblins (even the happy, friendly ones). That weird family who avoids the seasonal section of Wal-get and the grocery store. That weird family who is concerned about that fact that costumes seems to be either based on evil (even in the disguise of misunderstood monsters) or sex saturated (apparently even waitresses, nurses, and nuns can be sexy). That weird family who can't just throw on a store bought costume because their kids dress up as saints for Halloween AND All Saints'. That weird family who tries to finds ways to make the purpose of Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, to be the vigil of the Solemnity of All Saints'.

So, in an effort to find some Halloween/fall-ish books that I can actually read to my kids I've been working my local librarians extra hard these days by putting dozens of books on hold in search of a few that cover Halloween without an evil/scary tone. Here's my list so far, I'll keep adding to it as I find more!

I'm Bernadette By: Emily Ortega (This story is about a girl trying to decide which Saint to be for the All Saints' Day parade and is written by a former FOCUS missionary. I haven't read it, as it is currently on pre-sale, but I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!)
The Pumpkin Patch Parable By: Liz Curtis Higgs
Pumpkin Pumpkin By: Jeanne Titherington
It's Pumpkin Time! By: Zoe Hall*
Leaf Man By: Lois Ehlert
The Biggest Pumpkin Ever By: Steven Kroll*
Grandma's Smile By: Elaine Moore
The Very Best Pumpkin By: Mark Kimball Moulton (We loved this one!)
How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? By: Margaret McNamara
Too Many Pumpkins By: Linda White*
Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin By: Mary Serfozo
Pumpkin Moonshine By: Tasha Tudor

*Books with an asterisk have a mild reference to secular Halloween, such as a picture of a child dressed up as a ghost on their way to trick or treat.

Are there any books you've found that would fit on this list? If so, please add them to the comments so I can check them out!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ideas for Classically Catholic Memory: Gamma Year: Week 4

Classically Catholic Memory: Gamma Year: Week 4
I'm blogging my way through our four year curriculum program so I don't forget everything that worked for us! Please feel free to use what works for your family and share in the comments anything you would add. For more on Classically Catholic Memory go here.


Lesson 1
We explored an online lesson on infallibility from Family Catechism this week. The lesson is more on the infallibility of the pope than the Church, but I couldn't find much else on the topic. If you haven't introduced abortion to your kiddos, don't watch Sr. Jean Vianney's video.

Lesson 2 
For our second lesson we used the Baltimore Catechism #2 to read more about infallibility. You can find the lesson on page 79.

We are learning the Salve Regina by watching and listening to this version on youtube. I like this one because it has both Latin and English subtitles, as well as beautiful art.


Lesson 1: Cartier and Champlain
Kevin used Famous Explorers: Jacques Cartier and Kids Can Read: Samuel de Champlain to teach the kids about Cartier and Champlain.

Then they tried their hand at cartography and made their own maps, just like the early explorers did. Pal loved this activity, Bean... well, she didn't finish her map.

Lesson 2: Marquette and Jolliet
Marquette and Jolliet: Quest for the Mississippi was the book of choice for learning about these two explorers. You can also check out Jolliet and Marquette: Explorers of the Mississippi for additional information on Fr. Marquette, who was a Jesuit Priest, and his companion Jolliet.

Update: Have your kids read Father Marquette and the Great Rivers from the Catholic Vision Books series or Where Roams the River: A story of Father Marquette, S.J.

Lesson 3: LaSalle

To teach the kids about LaSalle, we all listened a 15 minutes episode of The Frontier Fighters titled Rene Robert Cavelier de La Salle. The Frontier Fighters was a popular radio program in the 1930s that told of the settlement of the American west. We had to pause it a few times to explain what was going on, but the kids really enjoyed listening to the dramatization.


Lesson 1: 
Here are the supplies needed for the first lesson on chemical reactions:

To start we distinguished the difference between a physical change and a chemical change. First, I let the kids crumble and cut up a piece of paper. We then talked about why the paper physically changed, but didn't chemically change.

Then we lit the paper on fire.

That is always fun... and helped demonstrate a chemical change, which is a change that creates a new substance, or ashes and gas in this case.

Next, we followed the instructions in the CCM teacher text and looked for signs of chemical reactions.

We mixed baking soda with lemon juice and saw bubbles...

We watched apples turn brown...

And we formed a precipitate from milk and vinegar...

Finally, the kids watched Bill Nye the Science Guy: Chemical Reactions on youtube. Whoever said science isn't fun hasn't spent some time learning about chemical reactions.

Lesson 2:
Here are the supplies needed for the second lesson on endothermic vs exothermic reactions:

Not pictured: Bigger cups and a pan.. you'll see why.
First we reviewed physical changes vs chemical changes by making this booklet for our chemistry lapbooks.

Then we observed an endothermic reaction using water and Epsom salts. When buying Epsom salts I felt the need to keep explaining to people that I needed them for a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT, not because this 36 weeks pregnant lady needed them for hemorrhoid issues. Yep, I can have insecurity issues.

So we mixed water and epsom salts and watched the temperature drop. Then we discussed how it took energy for the Epsom salts to react with the water. The absorption (ENtering - EN-do-thermic) of that energy from the water caused the temperature of the water to drop, causing an endothermic reaction.

Next we observed an exothermic reaction using water, baking soda, and DampRid. This time when we mixed the three we watched the temperature rise for an example of an exothermic reaction. This time energy was being released (EXiting - EX-o-thermic), causing the temperature to rise. The details are in you teachers text.

Wait, that's what should have happened, but it's not what actually happened.

This is why you need a bigger cup and a pan. The reaction bubbled over. I should have know this would happen since baking soda was in the mix, but that didn't register until after the explosion. And, sadly this fail became epic when the temperature didn't even rise like it should have. My only explanation is this:

The DampRid is over a year past its expiration date... and I just bought it last week! Apparently this stuff isn't flying off the shelves, so check the date on yours when you go to buy it and let me know if that makes a difference.

We finished off the lesson by reading The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake. The challenge after the book was to decide if baking a cake is endothermic or exothermic. (P.S. It's an endothermic process, not reaction, if you want to get technical. The cake is absorbing the heat from the oven to bake, the cake is not releasing it's own heat into the oven. P.S.S. I learned these things from Mr. Kent, not my own high school chemistry class where somehow somebody convinced our teacher to let us watch Billy Madison... because some scenes take place in a science class. Brick and mortar education at it's finest.)


Lesson 1
For math this week we started with a multiples memory game that I learn from our RightStart Math program. I mixed up cards with the multiples of 4 and 5 and then laid them facedown like you would for memory. Next, each player was assigned a set of multiples and we took turns flipping cards trying to find our set. If you found a card that belonged in your set you kept flipping until you found one that belonged in your opponents set. After a player found all of the cards in their set, they were declared the winner.

Lesson 2
Our next lesson was inspired by Chalk Talk. We took popsicles sticks with the multiples of five and pressed them in order into playdough. Then we played with playdough.


Lesson 1
Inspiration for this games comes from round two in Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. I covered the backs of each of the cards with 3x5 cards and then placed them all face down. We then took turns trying to flip over the cards in the correct sequence. If you got one card wrong, your turn was over. Once someone could complete the full sequence without missing a card, they won.

Lesson 2
As usual, we added eight new icons to our timeline book.


For geography we finished reading Wow Canada to learn about each of the new provinces and I downloaded the iLearn Canada app. This app is very simple. Basically it says the name of a province and you tap on it. There is a game mode that records high scores, so Bean, Kevin and I got a little competitive with this one.

Finally we played Ticket to Ride, which includes many Canadian cities. This activity comes straight from Blimey Cow's You Might be a Homeschooler If... 3 youtube. Watch the video, it's worth it. The Ticket to Ride shout out is at the 0:30 marker.

Great Words I
We started memorizing The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson this week and I was happy to find that there is a cute picture book of this poem by Tracey Campbell Pearson!

We are taking a few weeks off of CCM with baby #3 due in five days, I'll post week five after we get going again!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis is perhaps one of the most known and loved saints. Who can argue about someone who is mainly known for singing the praises of nature and being kind to furry friends? Many non-catholic churches hold pet blessings today and even PETA and the Humane Society highlight this feast day on their websites.

While I do like animals (I unsuccessfully tired to rescue a wounded bird last night, but that's another story.), it's not St. Francis' love of them that draws me to him. The man was bold and outspoken, fear had no grip over him, and his love of the poor was unmatched. I know he is quoted as saying "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words", but what most people don't know is that St. Francis found it necessary to use words all the time... like he would crash high society dinner parties, stand on a chair, and start preaching. Sound like someone else in our church today? I know Pope Francis is making more than a few Catholics nervous these days, but read this article by Kevin and you might feel a bit better.

So for the Feast of St. Francis we made donuts, which look like St. Francis' tonsure (his donut hair cut). Seriously where do people come up with this stuff?

Well they were delicious with the hot cocoa we drank in honor of the first snow of the season.

We also read an array of St. Francis books.

I struggle to find just one book from the library on any particular saint, but when it comes to St. Francis, there are about a dozen. I think it's the nature and animals thing.

Happy Feast Day!

Be saints, it's worth it!