Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Good Shepherd's Garden Party: Week 1

Inspired by Jessica and Charlotte we have an Easter tradition in our home of celebrating the entire Easter season with the Garden of the Good Shepherd. The program consists of a daily prayer time in which you add a scripture inspired sticker to your garden. By the end of Easter season your scene is filled with reminders of Jesus, the good shepherd, and heaven.

This is our 3rd year having a weekly garden party at the end of each themed week. For dinner on Saturday we incorporate each sticker into our meal and talk about what we've learned from our nightly prayer time. It's a favorite tradition in our home and one that keeps the season of Easter alive.

Week 1: The Good Shepherd's Pasture

Day 1: The Good Shepherd: Mini Shepherd's Pie

For the past few years we've been using this recipe, but my kids didn't like the ketchup flavor. This year I took out the ketchup, doubled the worchstershire sauce, and threw in a 1/2 c diced onion. And for the potatoes... they are instant.

Day 2: The Shepherd's Crook: Crookneck Squash

I sauteed these bad boys in a little bit of olive oil, period.

Day 3 and 4: The Sheepfold and the Gate of the Sheepfold: Gates

Pretzel sticks, graham crackers, and peanut butter. Call it an appetizer.

I combined the symbolic food for days 3 and 4 because they are both about the fence that protects the sheep. If you want to have 7 separate symbols, give the kids a glass of milk and tell them the white color of the milk represents the sheep who sleep within the sheepfold at night.

Day 5: The Ewe and Ram: Ram Horn Apple Curls

Using my apple peeler, corer, slicer gadget, I made ram's horns.

Day 6: The Lamb: Chocolate Lambs

I bought these. I know you are impressed.

Day 7: The Wolf: Wolf Paw Cookies

Shortbread cookies, almond bark, and white chocolate chips. I think you can figure it out.

Next week's theme is the Lord's table, which is the easiest of all the weeks because it's focus on how heaven is described as a banquet!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ideas for Classically Catholic Memory: Gamma Year: Week 15

Classically Catholic Memory: Gamma Year: Week 15
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.

For the next two weeks the kiddos are memorizing the 10 Commandments. For an exhaustive list of ideas for learning about them check out The Catholic Toolbox.

Lesson 1
We made a simple 10 Commandments tablet out of brown constructions paper and then the kids wrote down the first 5 commandments on the left side of the booklet and next week they will write down the second 5 commandments on the right side.

While doing the craft they listened to Keep the Rules from Angel Food. P.S. I love this one!

Lesson 2 
You can also check out what Family Catechism has to say on this topic as well.

We are learning the Anima Christi by listening to a few different versions on youtube.


Lesson 1:
It was all things Industrial Revolution and inventors this week. We read Kids During the Industrial Revolution and then perused Hooray or Inventors (review this one before you pass it to your kids) and The Industrial Revolution.

Kevin also did his dad-teaching-history-thing and explained how technology is good, but we don't want to sacrifice humans for efficiency talk.

Lesson 2
Then mom did her mom-doing-crafts-thing and had the kids come up with their own invention and draw out a prototype. Pal would like to invent a flying car (and asked if he could put some wings on our new van to test it out) and Bean will be making a Wild Kratts inspired Creature Power Suit.

For the next three weeks will be memorizing one of Newton's laws of motion each week. There are three fun videos you can watch on various aspects of the laws. Here's what I suggest, but you can watch them in any order you'd like :).

Week 15: The Magic School Bus Plays Ball
Week 16: Bill Nye Momentum
Week 17: Bill Nye Motion

I compacted this week's science demonstrations into one lesson because it's a pretty straightforward concept. Here are the supplies we used:

First we used the balls for the opening discussion on motion and force by rolling one ball on a blanket and another ball on our "hardwood" floors (it's pergo).

Then we did activity 1 in the Teacher Text. This involved abruptly stopping a moving object and allowing the other objects to go flying off of it. (You can't see it but there are books on the highchair, not a baby... yes my son is wearing his PJs... don't your kids homeschool in PJs sometimes?)

Finally instead of doing activity 3, which is a simple version of the tablecloth trick, we watched this video of the real deal. I wasn't brave enough to let me kids try it.

Then we watched this quick demonstration on Newton's First Law of Motion.


Lesson 1
To demonstrate the formula for the area of a triangle we did a worksheet from Math Worksheets 4 Kids.

Lesson 2
And we played an area of a triangle online game at Fact Monster. I gave Bean a calculator to use for the problems with bigger numbers.


Lesson 1
Missing Timeline Card was the name of the game this week. It's pretty simple. The cards are laid out in order on a table. One child closes their eyes while another child or adult removes one card from the sequence and squeezes the rest of the cards together so the missing card is not apparent. The child opens their eyes and determines where the missing card belongs and identifies the name of the card. In this case "The Alamo, the Republic of Texas, and the Mexican War" is missing.

Lesson 2
And our timeline book gained 8 new events this week.

Now that we have memorized all of the countries in North America, we are focusing on memorizing our continent's major geographical features. I'm letting our Journey Across America continue to be the supplemental fun on this one, as I point out these features as we study the states they reside in.

Great Words I
We continued memorizing "Pocahontas" by Rosemary Carr Benet this week.

I don't know of any picture books of the actual poem, but as you memorize it you could do several things to learn about Pocahontas. Check out the books Pocahontas a Life in Two Worlds or Pocahontas, watch the Disney movie (maybe, I don't know if it's any good, I've never seen it), or check out this Pinterest board for snack and craft ideas.

Be saints, it's worth it!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014: In Pictures

He is Risen Indeed!

Easter 2014: In Pictures - Because I'm too tired to write something intelligent about today, but I still want to remember this lovely, blessed Easter.

Insert your favorite what-is-the-baby-saying line here. "Umm, I have a question, when will we be done?"

Peanut liked her baby leggings... well at least she liked the packaging.

Hiking with cousins.
Just for the record, we did go to church and hunt for Easter eggs, but I didn't really get any pictures of those events.

I hope you had a blessed Easter Sunday!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday 2014

"Behold, behold, the wood of the cross, on which is hung our salvation. Come let us adore."

On this Good Friday the big kids and I were able to pray the Stations of the Cross while hiking to the top of a mountain at a local shrine dedicated to St. Francis Xavier Cabrini. It was moving to see hundreds of the faithful making the way along side us. The young couple climbing the nearly 400 steps on their knees, the teenaged boy weeping manly tears at the 12th station, the family praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet at the foot of the crucifix, this are the images I want my children to have of living the Triduum as a child.

The inspiring view at the top of the mountain.

When we arrived home shortly after 3:00 I had the kids shroud all of the images of Christ throughout our home, just like they do at our churches. This is a tradition we've held since our first, and only, Easter before Bean was born.

And I was happy to see, that after weeks of sacrificing, our crown of thorns only had one lone thorn, which I believe has already been pulled by a pair of little hands.

In the morning we made a chocolate crown of thorns out of almond bark and pretzels, which will be eaten of Easter. While we made it we didn't eat any of the chocolate, not even the melted goodness on our fingers. For a five year old, this is a real sacrifice. On Easter I'll fill the center of the crown with dyed eggs and turn it into a nest to remind us of new life.

We also crafted our paschal candle today. While typically we would do this on Holy Saturday (because the paschal candles for our churches are marked and used for the first time at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night), we have guests coming for Pysanky tomorrow and I don't think we'll have time. Using an illustrated guide from FOCUS and these instructions from Catholic Culture we taught the kids about the candle as we created it.

And before heading out for a 7:00 Passion Service (which we had to leave early from, but at I'm glad we tried!), the kids pulled out the Resurrection Eggs. Bean put on a "show" for us by telling the story of Holy Week in her own words. It's nice to know things are sinking in.

May your Holy Saturday be blessed as we await for the stone to be rolled away on Sunday.

Be saints, it's worth it!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday 2014

Each year we try to truly engage in the Triduum as a family. Some of our traditions have grown and changed with our family, and others always stay the same. Here is what we have been up to on this Holy Thursday. 

For dinner we had sparking grape juice (regular grape juice with sprite - it's cheaper than a real bottle) and unleavened bread to remind us of the Last Supper. I was able to double this up with our 4th First Communion lesson on the Last Supper, which made for perfect timing!

A new addition to our plans was the serving of chicken noodle soup for dinner. I picked chicken to remind us of the cock crowing after Peter's denial. If I keep this up I'll have an entire dinner based on Holy Thursday in the next few years.

We also made a mound of hot cross buns for Good Friday/Easter. Tomorrow we'll eat them without frosting and on Easter we'll have them with frosting. Pal kept singing "hot cross buns, hot cross buns, see how they run" in an effort to combine the two nursery rhymes together. He thought he was awfully clever.

The real highlight of the day was the kids' new Last Supper "Lego" Set. I was blessed to get it for 1/2 off with our FOCUS missionary discount from Spiritus. The thought crossed my mind to give it to them on Easter, but it was just too appropriate to give it to them today.

The set is compatible with Legos!
At first the kids spent time reenacting the story of the Last Supper, but by the end of the day they were dividing up into teams for capture the flag... Judas was picked last.

Finally, making it to the 7:00 pm service tonight with baby Peanut, who usually goes to bed at 7:00 pm, was a huge blessing. The Triduum has officially begun, I pray that yours is fruitful!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Catholic Easter Baskets for our Kids

I finished putting together the kids' Easter baskets today and thought I'd share their contents here on the blog. In the past I've checked around the web for ideas and always find these kinds of post helpful for ideas, so I hope you do to!

Rather than fill their baskets with just candy, I always try to incorporate some religious and spring items as well. And I try to shop ahead to get some deals while I'm at it. Below are the results!

Bean's Basket - Age 7

Pal's Basket - Age 5
  • Candy
    • Russell Stover Chocolate Cross - Target
    • Lindt Lamb (for the Lamb of God) - Target (on sale)
  • Book: Book 19 from the Treasure Box Series (I bought all 20 in a boxed set several years ago and have been giving them to the kids one at a time for their feast days, Easter, and Christmas... I'll only have one left after this!)
  • Crafts
    • Egg Shaped Chalk - Target (after Easter sale last year)
    • Spring Foam Stickers - Target (after Easter sale last year - kind of girly, but he like stickers and it was the least girly of my options)
  • Other

Peanut - Age 6 Months

  • Candy: Lindt Lamb (for the Lamb of God) - Target (on sale - they come in packs of 5, I can eat it for her)
  • Book: God Loves Us All (consignment sale find - she can't read, but that's okay, I needed to beef up the basket and didn't feel like buying a board book when she has tons)
  • Toy: My First Rosary (again, from Spiritus Distribution with our missionary discount!)
  • Clothes: Baby Leggings (I did a deal awhile back where I got five leggings for the price of shipping, so they are going in the basket!)
I hope you are having fun getting your kids' baskets prepared!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

First Communion Preparation Plans

In a few weeks Bean will make her First Communion and we are all excited for her! I've been scouring the web for ways to help prepare her for this life changing event and over the next three weeks we will be spending a lot of time getting her heart ready to welcome Jesus in the Eucharist.

There are some great resource pages that I have drawn our plans from that any parent who has a child that is preparing for First Communion should check out:
After looking over the suggestions from these sites I've picked out several that I think will be the most meaningful and memorable for Bean. While she has been attending a religious education class all year (which has been excellent!), Kevin and I still want to drive home the things she has been learning, and exercise are our God given blessing to be the first and main catechists in our child's life.

The Plan

For the backbone of our preparation we will be using the Little Catechism on the Eucharist, (LCE) which was given to Bean by one of our FOCUS mission partners just last week. (Thanks Heather!) It is the PERFECT addition to the plans I've been working on and can't believe I haven't heard of it until now! I'm super excited about this book if you can't tell. It. Is. Awesome. While Bean has been learning her Catechism over the past few years with the St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism (No. 1), Part I of LCE pulls out the most important teachings from the Catechism for a First Communicant and puts them into one place with kid friendly illustrations and diagrams.

I've broken our plans into eight lessons, based upon the eight subsections in Part I of the book. We'll do 2-3 lessons a week for the next three weeks and scale back a bit on "regular" school, which is part of the beauty of homeschooling! For some, it might make sense to do one lesson a week for eight weeks, but I prefer the intense study right before her First Communion so it is fresh in her mind and heart.

Part II of the book is filled with 15 "Eucharist Miracles" stories and Part III has 16 "Saints and the Eucharist" stories. During our two week intensive Bean will read roughly one story per day from each section.

Also, each day she will complete a few pertinent components of The Sacrament of Holy Eucharist Lapbook from Lapbooks for Catholics. (Use the code APRIL to receive a 15% discount for April 2014!)

Finally, while Bean is working on the craft projects in our plans, we will be listening to short audio stories from True Stories for First Communicants and First Communion Days. Both of these books are out of print, but they have been recorded and are available to listen to for free on Librivox! (Thanks Josette for pointing these out!)

And now for the lessons.

Lesson 1 - The Truths of the Faith (LCE - pg 3-10)
(Lessons 1 and 2 review the basics of the faith. Rather than dive into one of the many lightly covered topics, we are going to begin work on her lapbook and banner after completing the review.)

Supplemental Activities:
  • Lapbook: 
    • Faith Folder Cover
    • “Communion Vocabulary” File Folder Shape Book
    • “Communion Prayers” Pocket & Cards Set
    • “Eucharistic Phrases” Heart Shape Book
    • Back Cover with Pocket Pouch
    • *The rest of the lapbook will be completed throughout the rest of our study as indicated in each supplemental activities list. The only exception is the “My First Communion” Memory Book, which will be completed after Bean's First Communion.
  • Read one "Eucharist Miracles" story and one "Saints and the Eucharist" story from LCE.
Lesson 2 - The Principal Truths (LCE - pg 11-18)

Supplemental Activities:
  • Craft: Banner Kit
  • Lapbook: “Eucharist Questions” Q&A Set and “Holy Days of Obligation” Graduated Pages Book
  • Read one "Eucharist Miracles" story and one "Saints and the Eucharist" story from LCE.
Lesson 3 - The Promise of the Eucharist (LCE - pg 19-20)

Supplemental Activities:
  • Craft: Jesus in the Eucharist: Catholic Inspired
  • Lapbook: “Scripture Stories” Open-Up Book Set (Jesus Speaks on the Bread of Life)
  • Read one "Eucharist Miracles" story and one "Saints and the Eucharist" story from LCE.
Lesson 4 - The Last Supper and the Real Presence (LCE - pg 21-23)

Supplemental Activities:
  • Make Unleavened Bread (We will be doing this lesson on Holy Thursday, so fitting!)
  • Lapbook: “The Words of Consecration” Pentagon Book and “Scripture Stories” Open-Up Book Set (The Last Supper)
  • Read one "Eucharist Miracles" story and one "Saints and the Eucharist" story from LCE.
Lesson 5 - Transubstantiation (LCE - pg 24-30)

Supplemental Activities:
  • Craft: True Presence in the Eucharist Printable: Catholic Icing (This is so cool!)
  • Lapbook: “Benediction and Adoration” Square Fold-Up Book
  • Read one "Eucharist Miracles" story and one "Saints and the Eucharist" story from LCE.
Lesson 6 - The Mass (LCE - pg 31-38)

Supplemental Activities:
  • Complete My Own Mass Booklet (Given to Bean at RE class - it's pretty short.)
  • Lapbook: “Sacred Vessels” Triple-Decker Book Set and “The Holy Mass” Pick-a-Tab Book
  • Read one "Eucharist Miracles" story and one "Saints and the Eucharist" story from LCE.
Lesson 7 - The Eucharist as Sacrament (LCE - 39-44)

Supplemental Activities:
  • Book: The Weight of the Mass
  • Craft: Perler Bead Holy Eucharist Pattern: Catholic Inspired 
  • Lapbook: “Sacramental Grace” Open the Doors Book and “Scripture Stories” Open-Up Book Set (The Tradition of the Eucharist)
  • Read one "Eucharist Miracles" story and one "Saints and the Eucharist" story from LCE.
Lesson 8 - How to Receive Holy Communion Worthily (pg 45-49)

Supplemental Activities:
  • Study Bl. Imelda Lambertini
  • Lapbook: “Preparing to Receive Jesus” Multiple Flaps Book
  • Read one "Eucharist Miracles" story and one "Saints and the Eucharist" story from LCE.
Well, that's all! I'll let you know how it goes!

Be saints, it's worth it!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Holy Week and Easter Book List

For each liturgical season and holiday I love to gather picture books to read with my kids. My poor librarians never get a break. Here is the pile I've collected for Holy Week and Easter, although more are on the way!

After our nightly prayer time during Advent the kids unwrap an Advent/Christmas book for their bedtime story. Even although they don't get to keep the book, as it is from the library, there is something about unwrapping it that makes the story more special. I decided last year to start wrapping up Lent and Easter books as well for after our nightly Lenten prayer time.

The purple books are for Holy Week and the gold books are for the Easter Octave.

Here is the list of books we are using for this year!

Holy Monday - Easter in the Garden
Holy Tuesday - Petook
Holy Wednesday -  The Story of the Easter Robin
Holy Thursday - Through the Eyes of John
Good Friday - The Three Trees
Holy Saturday -  Easter Eggs for Anya
Easter Sunday - The Easter Story
Easter Monday - Happy Easter Day
Easter Tuesday - Chicken Sunday
Easter Wednesday - Rechenka's Eggs
Easter Thursday - The Easter Cave
Easter Friday - The Story of Easter
Easter Saturday - The Birds' Gift
Divine Mercy Sunday - The Parable of the Lily

What are your favorite Lent or Easter books?

Check out these posts for more of my liturgical ideas!
Ideas for Lent
Ideas for Holy Week
Ideas for Easter Season

Be saints, it's worth it!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ideas for Celebrating the Season of Easter

Easter season. Is there really any better season in our Church? I say no. With this being the case, we try to consciously celebrate the entire season in our home. Here are some of our favorite ways to do it!

Let me start with how we celebrate each of the 50 days of Easter with The Garden of the Good Shepherd.

From the Manufacture: "This sticker calendar counts the 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. Each day there is a reusable sticker to add to 'The Garden of the Good Shepherd.' The images are drawn from scripture... Each calendar set includes an 11'' x 17'' laminated background board, a sheet containing 51 full-color, reusable stickers, and a 16-page booklet... The booklet acts as a guide for placing the stickers and for prayer."

At the end of each week we have a Good Shepherd's Garden Party where we serve a meal incorporating each of the symbols from the week.

Menu Plans: Week 1
Menu Plans: Week 2
Menu Plans: Week 3
Menu Plans: Week 4
Menu Plans: Week 5
Menu Plans: Week 6
Menu Plans: Week 7

Easter Sunday

Easter 2014 in Pictures

Our 2014 Catholic Easter Baskets

Easter Lamb Name Cards

Holy Week and Easter Octave Book List (We wrap up the books and read one book a night.)

Other Ideas: (These are great for all 50 days of Easter!)
  • Decorations

Divine Mercy Sunday

Divine Mercy Pancakes
Other Ideas: 
Other Ideas:
    • Dolmas (Armenian Tradition): All Recipes
    • Beans and Grapes (Italian Tradition)
    • Eat some type of bird (because Christ flew to heaven - Middle Ages tradition)
    • Make a cloud dessert: Pinterest

Other Ideas:
Check out these posts for more of my liturgical ideas!
Ideas for Lent
Ideas for Holy Week

Be saints, it's worth it!