Friday, September 30, 2011

U.S. States Scrapbook: Week 3

Massachusetts & New York

This week was a fun one with the states. Skipper seemed to really enjoy the class. Though I did not get much out of him except that he really likes dried cranberries with fresh apples and that they read a Paul Revere book in class just like the poem I read him. Sometimes extracting information from him is like pulling teeth. ;) But I could tell he enjoyed it by the enthusiasm he put into his state studies at home.


Outside of his co-op class, we put together his scrapbook pages and went over Paul Revere's Ride by reading the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and making a map of his ride.

Page 1: state flag with state info, postcard, state map, coin

Page 2: Paul Revere with short info, state flower (Mayflower), state bird (black-capped chickadee), poem booklet for Paul Revere, and map of Paul Revere's ride

New York

Skipper loves his sticker map of New York, and he actually enjoyed coloring the Statue of Liberty. He let me color his bluebird. I just love bluebirds and could not stand to see it stay black and white.

Page 1: postcard, sticker map (see it unfolded below), coin, flag and info, state map that flips up to show U.S. map with New York colored in

Page 2: Statue of Liberty dot-to-dot coloring page that lifts up to show a fact page on the statue, state flower (rose), state bird (bluebird)

U.S. Flash cards with map and facts (found at Target in the dollar bin).

Next week he looks forward to learning about Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy Feast of the Archangels!

There is something special and mysterious about angels. My kids love angels and so this feast was extra-special fun, even though we kept it very simple.

During school time, we talked about the 9 Choirs of Angels and what the role of each was. We placed special emphasis on the three named Archangels, whose feast day we celebrate today: St. Michael, St. Raphael, and St. Gabriel. The kids colored one of the angels using Charlotte's pages over at Waltzing Matilda (check them out under September). I also gave the boys a copy of the prayer of St. Michael to hang on their bulletin boards in their room (I printed two to one page).

For dinner, we included deviled eggs which the kids "stabbed" with their "swords" (toothpicks). I had planned a more elaborate dinner but... that did not happen but I do not think the kids minded whatsoever. The kids love deviled eggs and who doesn't like playing with toothpicks? Though apparently Skipper is a little too literal as he seemed very confused about stabbing the "devil" out of the egg. He's like, "I don't understand! What am I supposed to do?" Gotta love him.

Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness
and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the other evil spirits who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.


Blessed Saint Gabriel, Archangel
We beseech thee to intercede for us at the throne of divine mercy:
As thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation,
so through thy prayers may we receive strength of faith and
courage of spirit, and thus find favor with God and redemption through Christ Our Lord.
May we sing the praise of God our Savior with the angels and saints in heaven
forever and ever. Amen.


Blessed Saint Raphael, Archangel,
We beseech thee to help us in all our needs and trials of this life,
as thou, through the power of God, didst restore sight and give guidance to young Tobit.
We humbly seek thine aid and intercession,
that our souls may be healed,
our bodies protected from all ills,
and that through divine grace we may be made fit
to dwell in the eternal Glory of God in heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

U.S. States Scrapbook: New Hampshire & Vermont

New Hampshire

For his background, Skipper used a maple leaf stencil and added a touch of fall to his pages. I printed out the page and recycled a cereal box to make the stencil. Skipper painted with tempera paint and added a bit of science with mixing colors (no matter how old he is, Skipper loves the magic of mixing colors).

Unfortunately, glueing on the paper hand-outs covered up much of the leaves. But that did not seem to phase Skipper.


Skipper enjoyed the art project for this state. On the first page, he made a small picture of a covered bridge. Using a black crayon to outline and fill in the bridge, he then added color using watercolors.

My sample for Skipper to follow. I chose sunrise colors.

Skipper's covered bridge picture. He chose a darkening sky.

1st Page: state coin, flag, and map. Room to put in a postcard if he ever receives one.

For the second page, Skipper again used a crayon (to draw in the outline) and watercolors (to fill in). He choose to make a large ice-cream cone since Vermont is home to Ben and Jerry's. Even Critter wanted in on this but he was quickly distracted with a Christopher Columbus game.

2nd Page: ice-cream art, state flower, state bird.

Monday, September 26, 2011

October Liturgical Plans

Monthly Dedication: Most Holy Rosary

Saint Therese of Lisieux (October 1st)

The kids will be out of town with my parents for an early anniversary gift to my husband and I. Do you know we have never truly celebrated our anniversary in a "big" way since we were married (this year it will be 8 years) because of being pregnant/sick or having clingy (so sweet) little ones? Not that we will do anything big but we have plans to head out for a Saturday matinee to watch Courageous, the next movie from the producers of Fireproof. Instead, I will tell you the little somethings we did last year:
Dear Little Flower of Lisieux, how wonderful was the short life you led. Though cloistered, you went far and wide through fervent prayers and great sufferings. You obtained from God untold helps and graces for His evangelists. Help all missionaries in their work and teach all of us to spread Christianity in our own neighborhoods and family circles. Amen.

I do plan on joing the novena prayer for St. Therese (starting September 22nd) from Pray More Novenas.

Feast of the Guardian Angels (October 2nd)

I will have a surprise tea party set up to share with our angels. I did this last year and the kids loved it. I have a little girl's tea set that we use with water to pretend. For food I will make some Angel Kisses first thing that morning. On the table I plan to put out some white flowers and the a wooden angel doll for each of the kids. And naturally, we will say the "Angel of God" prayer as we do every day. Perhaps Critter will lead us in prayer as he is so proud to have learned this prayer. He is trying to replace it for all his prayers.

Saint Francis of Assisi (October 4th)
  • Read Saint Francis of Assisi (Encounter the Saints Series) over the week.
  • Make a bird "feeder" out of a styrofoam tray, string and food.

Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7th)

This day also happens to land on First Friday. We will head to our usual 8:15 am Mass before gathering together with local parish families to honor Our Lady of the Rosary. Another mom is leading the activity so this will be a surprise!

All Saints Day (November 1st) - Looking Ahead

Perhaps I was crazy thinking that I could start up an All Saints Day party for our parish. What was I thinking?! Well, ok, I wanted to create a time for the kids of our parish to get excited about all the saints, known and unknown, that we can look to as our "hereos" for our lifetime. I wanted an alternative for those who choose not to participate in local Halloween customs (we do like trick-or-treating so that's not us). And, I have loved seeing other All Saints Day parties being so successful and seeming to be so much fun. So here I am, leading this endeavor.
Ideally, I would have loved to have had it on All Saints Day itself but this year it appears that is not possible so it will be held the Saturday prior (October 29th). Our turnout will probably be small considering the day but perhaps that will be a good thing. You know, the whole start small and then build it up kind of philosophy.

Right now, a few volunteers and I, are figuring out what we want to do. I will definitely post more on this later!

**I know there are more feast days than this in October but I am sticking to my bare bones plan. Between planning the party, being pregnant, homeschooling, co-teaching at a co-op, looking ahead to the holidays and preparing for baby, among all the other "life" going on, I am sure it will be just perfect!

Patriotic Alphabet Parade: B is for Baseball

B is for Baseball

Intruding toddler and a stubborn 4-year old aside, the class went well. I think the other kids enjoyed it anyway. Critter said it was his favorite part of the day at dinner time. Really? He didn't do anything!
Our format week-to-week is pretty consistent:
  • sing ABC song
  • have a grab bag with letter of the week items (B: ball, belt, banana, baby bottle)
  • practice letter writing and color a picture using the pages I created (B is for Baseball: Pre-K version or Kindergarten version)
  • eat a snack (bananas) and read a few books on baseball
  • craft time
    • craft: foam baseball pennants
    • letter collage using collage sheets I made (B is for Beans - glue beans): Tied in with how the majority of beans eaten today were first grown in the Americas and discovered by Columbus. Some native tribes in the U.S. would plant "the 3 sisters" together: beans, squash, and corn in patterns to prevent animals from eating their plants.
  • Listened to patriotic music while the kids passed a ball. The idea had been to play baseball outside but rain got in the way of our plans.
At home, I took Critter's papers, finished what I needed to with him, and continued work on his alphabet scrapbook. Here is what I came up with:

First Page

The handwriting/coloring page. He hasn't wanted to trace the letters so far. But he did stick on some baseball theme stickers to decorate.

Second Page

Most of the kids glued beans on the their letter "B." Critter wanted to color his so "B" is for "Brown" and "Blue."

Third Page

A full page of matching lowercase letters to uppercase letters, all in a baseball theme. Critter actually liked doing this! The "directions" say to use a clothespin to match-up the letters but I glued mine in a flap-style and using your finger works just as well.

Fourth Page

A fun page of activities. There is an A-Z memory game. I separated them out for ease of storage as well as ease of playing (easy to hard by combining more or less letters). I used these baseball hat cards to make them and printed two copies off on cardstock.

There is also a baseball number cards. You can print these out up to 50 (I did 15 for Critter). The idea is to take them out and put in order. Of course you can do all sorts of things - addition, subtraction, count by 2's, 5's, etc.

I printed off a copy of the chorus of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" song, which interestingly enough was written by someone who had never even been to a game before!

And some food of course - our Game Day Nachos. I plan on making this for the kids for a healthy lunch next week: 1 lb Velveeta cheese, 1 lb browned hamburger, 1 (16 oz) jar of salsa. Use chips to dip.

Next week we look forward to C is for Christopher Columbus!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Daniel in the Lions' Den Pre-K Style

We can all get into a situation that seems impossible, to where any choice you make seems like the wrong choice. In the story of Daniel in the Lions' Den, however, our answer lies in our faith in God. Yes, Daniel's choice to choose his faith over his king's rule caused him to get into trouble. But it was also his faith in God that saved him from being eaten by the lions. Faith in God leads us down the right path, eventually saving us from death (perhaps literally, like Daniel, but mostly, saves us from eternal death).

Day 1
  • Read Bible story using The Illustrated Catholic Children's Bible
  • Simple prayer
  • Activity: What Would Daniel Do? I asked the kids questions like, "You found a dollar next to your brother's bed. You could take it - he'd never know. But should you? What would Daniel do?" or "You accidentally - or purposefully - hurt your sister. What do you do?"
Day 2
  • Read "Dan and the Lions," an interactive poem
  • Simple prayer
  • Activity: Make a lion mask using a paper plate, yellow and brown crayons, glue, short pieces of brown yarn. Cut out the lion's eyes. Add a nose and mouth. Color lion yellow. Squiggle glue around the edge and glue on the lion's "hair." Let dry and use for the activity on Day 3.

Day 3
  • Bible story recap
  • Simple prayer
  • Activity: Angel, Shut the Lions' Mouths! game. The kids acted like lions (using their masks from Day 2) and I was the angel. When I yelled, "Stop!" they had to freeze in place. And so on.
Lord, thank You for hearing my prayers no matter where I am.
Please help me to trust in You always as Daniel did.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fair Madness

This week our county fair is going on. It's just down the road and a fun thing to do with the kids. But September weather... You just never know what it will be. The only day we could go to the fair this year was yesterday. And we went. Despite a full day of on/off rain. And this was a day of rain after a full day of rain on Monday. Yes, the fair grounds were a mess. We were lucky and parked in a "clean" area and were able to take a tractor to the actual fair grounds area. The kids were so excited to be at the fair, and to see all the rides. We purchased ride bands for them and they quickly went on the carousel (Miss Bear's absolute favorite). And then it started to rain. The ride ended and we walked really fast to the arts and craft barn (I cannot run while pregnant!!!). It poured harder - so hard we could hardly hear each other over the rain hitting the roof. Finally, though it ended and the rides slowly started up again. The kids did not seem to mind wet bottoms. Thankfully it only sprinkled a few times after that, with a few moments of harder rain. The kids were able to ride rides, grab some fair food (vendor that only does fresh potato fries - one of the few foods I trust to be gluten-free), and peek around a bit before we decided to head home. My husband left slightly earlier to grab the van and meet us on a side street so that the kids did not have to walk through the really bad mud. That would have been a great plan except that we waited and waited for him to show. I finally called him and it turns out our van was stuck! What had been a "nice" area was now a mud pit and the tractors could not pull us out as there was no place to hitch onto. Pushing the van didn't budge it. Here I was with the kids who were getting tired, cranky, and no doubt hungry. The sun was starting to set and the air was turning chilly. After waiting a bit longer with no luck, I decided to start walking the kids to a local McD's about a mile and half or so away (we were in a residential area and I knew we couldn't be much help with a stuck van - I needed warmth, food, and a seat!). Thankfully we had only gone a short distance when my husband called, saying the van was unstuck thanks for a larger crew pushing him out. Yay! So we loaded up and headed home. As we turned into our neighborhood, the last of twilight was burning off, showing clear skies.

The boys' favorite ride? The zero gravity ride (every fair it is called something different) where you spin in a circle and stick to the walls. This ride also went on its side meaning the boys were facing the ground. I cannot believe how much they loved it! I would never have been so daring, even with a few years added to their age! The funhouse was a hit as well, especially with Skipper but at $2 extra a pop, he could only go once. And Critter loved the swings. Skipper said he did but it was Critter who wore the largest grin ever.

Despite the rain and mud, it was a fun few hours!

Monday, September 19, 2011

ABC's of Pre-K: Letter D

I think I have our "curriculum" for the year. Critter's week went smooth overall and the load seemed just right for him. Yay!
This week we added a Monday afternoon activity: a Patriotic Alphabet Parade, through a local Catholic homeschooling co-op. I am helping co-teach this class (pre-k/k) and Skipper is doing a state study. The first week's theme was "A is for America."

Faith Formation

D is for Divine Mercy craft (from Catholic Icing)
  • Read and learned about the story of David and Goliath.
  • Finishing up "Angel of God" prayer. I have a hard time getting him to speak up so this is a huge breakthrough. He now of course wants to add the prayer to every single prayer time. And that is totally ok!
  • Daily Devotions from the cute little book "Blessings Every Day." So simple and sweet and perfect for this age.
  • Daily calendar work using the 2011-2012 Good News Primary Catholic Student Planner. Each day has two pages: one for a daily question/reflection kind of thing and spaces to fill in what the child did (I use it for record keeping). The opposite page is a fun worksheet of some sort. I find the activities are most beneficial for Skipper's age (so I photocopy) but I prefer the Elementary Edition for recording Skipper's schoolwork. This week's activity was a hidden picture puzzle and the vocabulary for the week was "generous," tying it into the next Sunday's gospel reading.  You would not believe how often we heard that work in various ways this week! Amazing! Here is an image of the page Critter did (again, my photography this week = bad. I'm sorry!):
  • Weekly Mass in addition to Sunday Mass. I am sure many of you already do this but we only started recently and it has made such a difference! I really enjoy Friday Mass with the kids. And I think they enjoy it too: small crowd, they can see/hear, are not easily distracted, and the shorter time is perfect for their concentration. It seems so funny now how afraid I was to go with all the young kids (= they would be disruptive).
Letter Formation & Other Fun Things

  • Read a variety of books, including our Letter D Moncure book (love these, so glad I found some on ebay a long time ago) and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (after which we put up "D" and "d" on our coconut tree in celebration of learning the letter). 
  • Magnet page for the letter D, which leads to magnet play in general.

  • D puzzle along with what sound it makes using the Leap Frog song (if you have the magnets, you know what I'm talking about: "The a says ahh. The a says ahh. Every letter makes a sound the a says ahh. And sometimes A." 
  • Handwriting Without Tears: Letter D (along with the wooden shapes
  • Floor numbers - counted, used it for pretend play. 
  • Starfall online game: Letter D and some others for fun.
  • Dragon mosaic kit (had been a gift from last Christmas):

Sunday, September 18, 2011

U.S. States Scrapbook: Washington D.C. & Maine

As I already mentioned with the Patriotic Alphabet Parade, last week was our first "American" class through a local co-op. Skipper learned about Washington D.C. and the state of Maine. I took his materials from class and had him help me create a scrapbook, using a 12x12 scrapbook and cardstock.

Since Skipper is not a fan of a ton of coloring, I chose to incorporate some art (= painting, which he likes) into the design. Here is what we came up with, along with a few supplemental activities we did at home:

Washington D.C. (page one)

Washington D.C. (page 2): Skipper painted a cherry tree for the background with room on the left to add info.

Maine (page 1): black paint/glue outline with watercolor fill-in. Room still for postcard if we ever receive one.

Maine (page 2): same art steps as above. Room for state quarter when we find one.

U.S. state flashcards with geography and state facts (found in the dollar bin at Target at the beginning of the school year).

50 Great States workbook (again, the dollar bin at Target): each state includes a simple activity, dot-to-dot, handwriting practice and a state fact.

U.S. geography felt map. Our cat really enjoys sleeping on it.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Patriotic Alphabet Parade: A is for America

A local Catholic homeschooling group that I am part of leads Academic Enrichment Programs (or AEP) every year. This is our first year signing up. The theme of this year is all about America. The pre-k/k kids are doing a Patriotic Alphabet Parade, learning a letter each week and fun activities to go along with it. The 1st-4th grade kids are doing a state study. And 5th grade on up are studying American literature. It should be a fun year! Skipper is learning all about the states and creating a state scrapbook while Critter is learning all about the ABC's of America. I have the pleasure of co-teaching the little ones with their ABC's.

A is for America

This being our first week, it was a little crazy but I think it went well overall. The biggest lesson learned is that the kids need to go to the bathroom prior to class or just to take the entire group right away! See what school teaches you? ;)

Our format week-to-week is pretty consistent:
  • sing ABC song
  • have a grab bag with letter of the week items (A: animal, astronaut, acorn, angel, apple)
  • practice letter writing and color a picture using the pages I created (A is for America: Pre-K version or Kindergarten version)
  • eat a snack (apples) and read a book or two (A is for America by Devin Scillian and Pam Carroll)
  • craft time (played music, Wee Sing America, while doing this)
    • craft: apple prints using paper, apple halves and paint
    • letter collage using collage sheets I made (A is for Alphabet - put ABC stickers on collage)
  • Play being airplanes
At home, I took Critter's papers and started his own scrapbook of patriotic letters, using a 12x12 scrapbook and cardstock, and here is what I came up with:

First Page

Since Critter did not do apple prints in class, we did some at home. It turned out more like apple painting than apple printing. Then he decided to smear it all over his hands to paint. That was fun. He made three sheets for me (blue naturally, his favorite). I used one of the sheets as a background for his handwriting page. As you can see, bad photography skills aside, he also chose not to trace his letters.

Second Page

I used another of his apple print pages as a background for the letter collage he made in class. A is for Alphabet (and some had animals on them!).

Third Page

My boys do not like to color much so for lapbooks that we have created now and in the past, I try to steer clear of too much coloring (or just leave it black and white and spice it up with "art" work). For the third page, I found some fun apple activities for Critter to do. After all, what is more American than apple pie?

Sources for Lapbook:
  1. Apple Trinity Snack - I created the apple shape and wrote in how the apple represents the Holy Trinity. The peel = God the Father (protection). The pulp = God the Son (spiritual food). The seeds = God the Holy Spirit (what makes the seeds of faith sprout).
Fourth Page

I came up with a quick Johnny Appleseed game to play with the "board," die, and game pieces (pennies). You start in Massachusetts where Johnny "Appleseed" Chapman was born and work your way to the frontier (in his day, Ohio and Indiana). It's a simple roll and count game, along with some jumping ahead - for working hard and to pass through the mountains - and some set-backs, like losing a turn to sleep with a bear. The game is meant to be fun, simple, and a spring board of learning all about his life. We still have to play this game. Let's just say today was rough and after minimal work that must get done, they were out the door and playing.

Next week we look forward to B is for Baseball! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

David & Goliath Pre-K Style

For our second week of Old Testament stories, I went with David and Goliath. Nothing is impossible without God. I also brought up how and why God chose David as the next king, and how Jesus was his descendant. I thought it turned it out fun. I guess it says something when all the kids want to get in on the activities.

God surely works in mysterious ways
He's still doing so even in our days.
Such was the background of one of the greatest Kings
Growing up as a shepherd boy whilst he sings.

No one knew, not even Jesse,
what God had planned that sunny day.
Saul's time ran out, where could Samuel find,
someone pure of heart, spirit, body and mind.

One by one without luck, the brothers passed the scrutiny
What a shock when they remembered their little baby
Yes high up on the hills amongst the flock,
was the only one who would be to resist Goliath's mock.

Totally humble and a heart so pure.
That was the requirement for a leader to endure.
What was to follow, the gruesome battles ahead,
resulted in thousands of enemy soldiers ending up dead.

Haunted by a fearsome dictator
Left all alone until much, much later.
Never forgetting to trust in his Lord,
until word arrived that Saul had died in his sword.

So at last instead of weeds and grass there were palms.
Wrote numerous songs and many Psalms,
about his God, so awesome and glorious,
that lead him through so many battles victorious.

Nothing has changed, nothing is new.
The people that chose Him today are still very few.
While His grace still overrules fate,
Please commit yourself to our Lord before it is too late.

.........A. T. van Wyk

Day 1
  • Read the Bible story using The Illustrated Catholic Children's Bible. I did backtrack and summarize the beginning story of David (with Saul and God choosing David as the next king).
  • Said a simple prayer: "Lord, help me to trust in you with all my heart as David did so long ago."
  • Activity: painted a set of David's Bag of Stones to use on Day 2. We still have to make a bag to put them in but we will just use something simple like a brown bag with the words, "Trust in the Lord" on the outside.

Day 2
  • Summarized Bible story - kind of a question/answer, storytelling kind of thing.
  • Said a simple prayer: "Lord, help me to trust in you with all my heart as David did so long ago."
  • Activity: played David and Goliath Game using our David's Bag of Stones.
Day 3
  • Read David poem (above).
  • Said a simple prayer: "Lord, help me to trust in you with all my heart as David did so long ago."
  • Activity: David and Goliath maze.