Archive for the ‘Notebooking Your Studies’ Category

” 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin. But I say to you, not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these. 28 Now if God clothe in this manner the grass that is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more you, O ye of little faith? 29 And seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink: and be not lifted up on high. 30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek. But your Father knoweth that you have need of these things. 31 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you. 32 Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom. 33 Sell what you possess and give alms. Make to yourselves bags which grow not old, a treasure in heaven which faileth not: where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 35 Let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands.”

I love following the threads at 4Real.  They really help me to think my own thoughts on oh so many issues regarding homeschooling, parenting, faith and my children (not in any particular order).

There was a post the other day that really got me thinking…and remembering.

About this time 2 years ago I was starting to plan for high school homeschooling for the first time.

Ordinarily, during planning time, I would pull out my notes that I had been accumulating throughout the year.  These planning notes mostly came from a  spiral bound notebook I always had with me for fast scribbling when an impulse would hit me to try something new or take a new direction.

Hasn’t it ever happened to you??  ~Distraction! …Here I would be

~armed with my coffee(in my pre-pregnancy state…or would that be post-pregnancy..hmmm..I mean, caffeine only in a non pregnancy state but something hot nonetheless)  and running the circus…all the players assembled around me working.   I would be watching the children with that day’s work and  I would begin to see these already implemented plans beginning to bear fruit.  Mind you, the process is not idillyic or smooth running…remember!  I am an optimist.  I see good even in its distressing disguise [:)]

It typically would hit right about then…wanting to change things or tweak things…which could be disruptive.  I had to compose myself…I felt like a kid in a candy store the day after lent was over! I wanted to try it all.  I found that scribbling in my “Mommy’s Brain in a Book” was the BEST thing I could do at that moment.   It was my way of ‘sitting on my hands’ when I wanted to bolt to the shelves or the computer or the library (all at the same time ….at just THAT moment) which would of course disrupt learning and cause me to lose my audience.  I had a plan and I was going to work it, but I had to scribble to leave me room for inspiration that could be implemented LATER…like the next day or week….not right then. Disordered creativity doesn’t help anyone…it only causes frustration…even just for the note “Make copies of coloring page for 5yodd” would be recorded or “buy dress shoes for 7yo before Sunday”.  I would write ANYTHING that would make me move or distract me so I could stay on track.   There is no guarantee I will remember anything if I don’t write it down.   Be patient with me if you call.  I have to write down the fact that “I can’t talk to you now and I will call you back later”  or I will forget when I place the phone in the receiver.

So, ideas  both big and small, scholastic and domestic were pressed into the “Mommy’s Brain in a Book” book.  This would be used with a variety of other homeschool sources to plan things out later, editing out the non-essential of course!  In some cases,  I had been planning almost 2 years ahead, but that was for elementary school.  I was wondering if the stakes were changing for high school and was I prepared for it?  I have to admit to feeling unsettled and unsure of how to proceed as my eldests had some processing issues and I wasn’t too sure how that would work if they were planning on being in a college setting.  They were improving by leaps and bounds, but would that trend continue?

I also considered their younger brother, Young Einstein, and that he would be college material by the time the high school experience was over, but what would HE need?  He is gifted in some ways.  I could see a young engineer budding here…that would take some careful consideration.  He would need a well-rounded education to be sure…logic, latin, writing, science, math…..and more…

I have always enjoyed using an eclectic combination of several ‘methods’ such as Montessori, Catholic Charlotte Mason (lots of living books), Classical…etc…sometimes in an unschooly kind of way in that we followed lots of rabbit trails when the interest in a particular subject was high.   I just LOVED gleaning this way!  It fired me up to do more. In those circumstances they studied far more than ever would be required of them just for the joy of learning a new thing…  could I keep that up?

I love sliding along through the stacks of books and inspiration with a touch of enthusiasm.  After all there is only so much tugging and pulling I can do with some of the children.  I would rather leave those kind of battles to the laundry monster or any of the other unpopular chores they also had to accomplish.  I wanted learning to be an adventure (wherever possible) in that even if I had to poke an prod a little, the process would soon (usually after 15-20 minutes..I TIMED it one day) pick them up and build their confidence and propel them ahead into learning.  The first 15-20 minutes took FOREVER but the last 2 hours FLEW! I was comfortable with this and then you throw the monkey wrench of SATs and whatever other monsters that might be ‘lurking under the bed’ and I get a little weak in the knees.

But I did it.  I prayed and I figured it out.  After all, that business of the children is really just ENTRUSTED to me..they really are God’s and He knows what He is about….even with beautiful talented girls with processing issues.  I had to trust in that and just move forward knowing that their crosses were no fault of my own.  I had to help them carry them…not jump on the back of them and make them heavier by “trying to keep up with the Joneses” .  They learned how to talk and to walk and to read and to write,  and so on with steady progress.  There was NO WAY I could go through our day with anything less than sacrifical peace.  Sacrificial in the sense that I would do all I could to help and I shouldn’t sweat the bumps along the way.  What good would it do to offer a curricula and have not love…something to that effect.  My daughters even told me that if they went to college, they would more than not study theology and teach outdoor survival and maybe get into domestic sustainable farming…hmm

Then with Young Einstein,, who was doing much of the same work with his older sisters would be going to college and majoring in something to do with math and science….

I really needed a planning hand to hold.  I consulted my Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum book, and CHC’s High School planning book and a few other planning books that I used as place markers to make sure all of the concepts were covered in each subject.  The most unlikely place I found a helping hand was already on my shelf.  I had purchased the books for making lapbooks, but I realized that they were full of lists that would help me ensure that if the children continued to pursue their own interests in a particuar subject, like…WWI in 20th Century History…they had basic points covered in their notes.  These books helped them take notes and include what they would need in order for the NOTES to be a good review tool.  I didn’t expect them to make them into lapbooks, I expected their notebooks to trigger their memory quickly…ok..there are 2 things to compare here…here are the important dates to remember…here are

I had to steer the ship for high school and yet still cover grammar school (K-5 ATM)  I needed some good overview lists to make sure each individual person covered the subject areas needed as well as each group…without being tightfisted about them.    I decided that the twins were either freshmen this year  if I ‘hold them back a year’ or sophomores if they decided they want to finish up quickly but I wouldn’t alter the course of their learning…they can do it on their own muster in three or slower in 4 it is up to them at this point.

  • Freshmen  the twins (16yo)  and Young Einstein (14yo)
  • 4-5th grade dd(9) and ds(10)
  • K-1st grade dd(5) and ds(7)

I divided the groups then I divided the data..

  • subects
  • skills
  • extra projects by season
  • individual goals
  • family goals
  • book lists
  • library lists

Each child had their own planning/assignment book and they have to ck in with me during the course of the week to adjust goals and to review whatever was covered.  We were looking for areas of improvement and areas that still needed tweaking.  In these books were also kept extensive reading lists.  This one was hard to stay on top of because they didn’t always want to write everything down.  But, by having the weekly meeting with mom(teacher) and the weekly report with dad (principal)  it became something they were proud of….confidence goes a long way …especially with a certain 10yo here…

Well, in hindsight, I guess we did all of those things.  God has a unique plan for all of them and I have been praying about that for a long time.  I was praying I wouldn’t ‘get in the way’ of His Grace either.

But your Father knoweth that you have need of these things. 31 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you…

I am still planning on the twins attending a good Catholic college (only God knows where that $$ is coming from..and if Young Einstein goes the same year??!!  …ONE day at a time, Mama!)  and at the same time I am relaxing my fearful heart over if what we are doing is good enough.  I can see looking back, they are still going strong and making steady improvements.  They are growing in grace and I feel the Spirit blowing strong with them some days.  It took me some time to figure out a new way to ‘plan’ for the year and still meet the objectives that they would need for any potential college.  I sometimes worry about

and well…I have learned to put prayer before all things and put religion first during the day (at least in some form) and it does make the road a bit less scary to travel from a gulp, I am in charge of all of these people and all that they …..etc…perspective

Back to the 4 Real post though…

I identified the one subject that made me uncomfortable planning for high school and that was science….  I realized that I had somethings at my disposal to help in that area.  I have a few high school and college texts that I just picked up at the thrift store or garage sales…so I could see WHAT was being covered and HOW.  The creative mommy in me wanted learning to be fun and meaningful.  I wanted them to remember.  I hadn’t found a text for the high schoolers that I was sure would be a good fit.  I was wondering if I could continue using mostly living books to cover this subject.  I loved MacBeth’s Opinion…and other such resources, but would that be enough?

I then perused my shelves and found these resources:

Science Scope by Kathryn Stout is a great resource book I picked up years ago.  It was recommended to me as an excellent resource for people who like to plan their own path and it DOES help planning things. I realized that despite my discomfort doing a CMish type of high school science, I found my children work that way best and this resource helped me keep my place. I also needed a way to keep them on track in their note-taking as their notebooks weren’t cutting it as good review tools. I wanted them to remember at a glance. It is one of those books that have earned their keep on the shelves.

There is a simple little checklist in the back of the book where I can plug in each child’s name(ok just 5 of them at a time [LOL] and the level covered (primary, intermediate, junior, sr high) It is easy for me to eyeball if someone has missed something. A lot less remembering on my part (I am starting to feel challenged in that area as I am divided amongst so many)  So it helped me focus on high school level and helped me keep track of the progress the others needed to take to get there.

I actually used Science Scope alongside the Dinah Zike science books
and used Dinah’s recommendations to facilitate teaching them note taking in each area so they have good coverage in their notes….
Big Book of Science – Elementary K-6]Big Book of Science for K-6
Big Book of Science for Middle School and High School]Big Book of Science for Middle and High School

Dinah has lists that are divided into subject area, skills to be covered and how many parts to include in their notes…a visual/kinesthetic must for several of my children. I felt that at least so far (even with an elementary through a  9-10th grade level in the upper ranks now) we have what we need covered.

We then used this book so they could alter the foldables (if they didn’t want to make a big project of their work) so they could easily be created on they fly and fit nicely into their composition books or binders wihout added bulk using ordinary notebook paper and highlighters and such:
Notebook Foldables

So I did learn that if I feel a bit’ prickly in the skin’ at teaching and being accountable for one subject or another to have some kind of spine or list to keep me on track.…the blood pressure goes at  more of an even keel that way…

I have one other of Kathryn Stout’s books Maximum Math, and it has helped us tremendously keeping a birds eye view on everyone knowing what they are doing and where they are going next…it made for easier projects and rabbit trails for K-8. As with Science Scope, I could make sure we covered everything. They were ‘my’ planning spines. It was my way of making sure that they had a syllabus to follow even though we didn’t fit well with syllabi but the kids wanted to know when they studied on their own ‘what came next’ and ‘how much do I do” I am VERY visual and I needed help and I think I have FINALLY? got it!??

At the end of the day, I realize that what really counts that I continue to discern and pray and put all things in God’s hands…not to mention work with my HEART.    I LOVE my vocation and part of that is my calling to homeschooling.  It is so much easier to love in my vocation and love my vocation when my heart is fully in it and that means my heart must be fully in God.  I treasure every fleeting moment I have been gifted with as I learn beside my children.  They are my gift.  I am blessed.

34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (more…)

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I and several of my dc are very visual learners. I hit up the thrift store recently and found a collection of small photo books (the kind that looks like a bunch of page protectors in a stiff cover) (Move over Pottery Barn Kids…learning spaces I covet on a regular basis [:$] )

photo album book had the idea of placing timeline cards in these books and having the kids narrate everything they can remember about the person and approximate time period. The beauty of this is that I don’t have to commit any one image to any one child. We can view them in the books or pull them out for a moveable timeline or play games with them…etc…

I have been known to use timeline cards on a moveable timeline….
but, this is different…fresh…new….aaand there is chocolate involved as a bribe learning incentive!
I use the cards from Our Father’s House’s program The ABC’s of Christian Culture and RC History cards.
The heck with using these hand-held books for family albums! I can make a “Jesus’ family album” for Salvation History studies…..etc… and then! I thought about having my middle aged children write the text to put in these books on the opposing page….hmmm…. I am still fleshing this out a bit. These books are right with my history center on my history learning shelf.

I have so many ideas lately that my head hurts. (Although I really think the ache is from my pulled muscle under my shoulder blade from scrubbing that one wall in the kitchen….)

I am decluttering for school. Whenever this happens, I get a better sense of what I have and what I can do with what I already got. And right now I already got too many ideas and too little of me to go around.

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Life here at the never ending story is wonderfully full and loud, if not hard to explain.  My dh once asked me what I did all day.  I just looked at him and realized that I had been holding my breath. 
I said…"I don’t know!" 
He said, "Why don’t you try to write it down?" 
to which I replied ..
"Honey, if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to get the rest of whatever it is that I do done!"  So once in a great while I do try to write and this is what I came up with for today….

  • First and foremost… we begin our day with morning prayer and with everyone’s attention completely focussed on their wonderful mother  ( I can dream, can’t I?  After all the day looks so much better at its conclusion when their sweet heads are resting on their pillows and the house shudders in real quiet) …oops sorry -end of dream sequence-… we try to hit at least one "shared" subject (one that they all do together)


  • Geography  Book of Marvels read about Yucatan Peninsula and had large motor boy (8) point out everything we learned so far on the world map
  • American History  From Sea to Shining Sea  read St Brendan’s Voyage to 6yo dd and 8yo ds and made rabbit trail about Whales..older kids reviewed what we have learned so far this year (started in January and reviewing the first 7 chapters)
  • Bible History/ Poetry   Robert Hugh Benson Old Testament Rhymes divided up the 25 pages to be memorized by 5 dc (13,13,11,8,6) at our homeschool group’s poetry day…one month to prepare!  Great review of Salvation History for the young’uns ;o)
  • Math   Math U See everyone did at least 3 pages in his/her level except one ds awaiting new book so he "played math" with the 4yo
  • Catechism Stories  Catechism in Examples (3 Theological Virtues 4 Cardinal Virtues) read during dinner…when I have their full attention and relative quiet
  • Religion  Women in the Bible (Image of God 6) Esther, Suzannah, Hannah, Mary read aloud and discussed
  • Notebooking   Made copies of Women in the Bible booklets (Dinah Zike OT supplement)to be filled tomorrow
  • Mary Notebook  Add this pic to the little one’s Mary Notebook
  • Math in the Kitchen...make this Scone Recipe adding in leftover mini chips and use 1/3 of a cup to measure with and btw..double the recipe ;o)
  • Spelling   Spelling time
  • Phonics Study Dog
  • Fine Art National Gallery of Art Video Christmas Story in art (30 min) and Adoration of the Magi (7min) Read more here…available to homeschoolers all you pay is return postage!
  • Copywork  Each child chose their own work…and is amazed at how much we are amassing at this point!
  • Dictation …didn’t happen.  I couldn’t round up all the usual suspects towards the end of "school time"  The day was too bright and beautiful…this is real life folks ;o)  Dictation will be second thing tomorrow.
  • Manners/Prayers  Read How to Behave and Why before bed and say night prayers and rosary

Now of course you need to know, I slept in late, I had to round up the kids from the yard twice (once because the mailman wanted to throw a few balls to my son…gotta love our mailman LOL), changed the toddler’s diaper no less than 5 times and dressed her about 11 times, and at the high point of the action, my ds(4) wanted to know what grave (grade) he was in …making sure my sense of humor was still alive and well.  ;o)

And of course there are many many books read by all during the day.  The older ones read to the younger ones and they also have some book in their hand for themselves during their free time…and all the books are definitely school-worthy. 

There is so much learning that goes on that naturally fits in with the day….natural connections  …Like science…we didn’t get to it (technically) but we did.  At bedtime there was rain and thunder and lightning.   My 2yo dd thought that someone was outside taking a picture, so this went into a completely natural conversation about thunder and lightning and its benefits.  Bath time is full of phonics sound games and childhood songs and poems and children’s religious songs.  During the school day there is an ebb and flow of activity….lulls between subjects  are always filled with "extras"  The children are always picking up books and going to pre-approved sites on the net that exercise logical thinking skills and creative learning.  Even an interesting fine art picture can lead to an interesting discussion about the use of color or a flurry of activity to learn more about the artist’s life or his other paintings…If I listed them all, it would take me all night! 

And at the end of the day, the yard got cleaned up, the little ones were bathed,  and most of the dishes were done, the diapers are soaking, underneath the math manipulatives the floor is clean  and I just drank a great cup of chamomile tea….and my life is one run-on sentence.

PHEW!  I am tired.  The good kind.

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Some time ago, I fell in love with Altered Composition books after being introduced to them by Kim of Starry Sky Ranch.

While spending one of my favorite gifts…a gift certificate to a book store ;o)   I came across this book~ The_decorated_page
The Decorated Page Journals, Scrapbooks and Albums Made Simply Beautiful by Gwen Diehn.  This book is a grab bag full of ideas and step-by-step visual directions (that include suggestions for materials and material gathering) that help you add dimension and creativity to journals. 

This book was not one that I read all at once.  I kept it by my "nursing chair" and would read a few pages at a time and then talked casually about what I learned to my twin dds (13) (it was a good exercise of persuasive Mommy-Narration)
I asked them to do the same thing (read 2 or so pages at a time) so they could absorb some ideas about creative journaling.  I wanted them to see that they could create something personal and meaningful with their journaling, whether it be a nature journal, a personal journal or one that fit some academic subject or idea.   I asked them to think of it as their own "art class".  I thought of it as "notebooking grows up".

Not surprisingly, this author did make some other books that I am interested in as well…like this one… 

The Decorated Journal
, and this one….

Making Books That Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist & Turn: Books for Kids to Make

Ok, so my fever doesn’t stop there… Look at this from the book
More Making Books by Hand: Exploring Miniature Books, Alternative Structures, and Found Objects

And this book….had some interesting pages when I cked out the inside of the book…Visual Chronicles: The No-Fear Guide to Creating Art Journals, Creative Manifestos and Altered Books

I also found this interesting site that promises to join the scrappers and the journalers together.

I am on a mission.  I will let you know how it all turns out!  If anyone has a decent digital camera they are looking to get rid of…let me know.  Mine died and untimely death when it hit the floor :o(  I would looove to share some pictures of what we are creating with you!

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Hands-on work today:

Astronomy Science! ….featuring Mercury!
Using this as our spine…lesson 3
We read this
We used this p 64-65
and we notebooked using these Astronomy pages
We added the first few pages of this that have great Astronomy pages for our notebooks!  Adding a Solar System detective page for Mercury (p 19)

using Download clip_art_mercury.doc

(images imported to a Word document) we cut out and put in a zip-loc sandwich baggie and decorated the margins  and frames of our notebook pages
….the littlies narrated to me…bigguns just jotted their own work down.  The little ones love to narrate to me and use the clip art to illustrate what they just told me.  To them, it is the equivalent of using stickers…just a touch messier….we use a lid with a little school glue in it and a q-tip.  I keep repeating…"just a dot"…"just a dot!"

We start our day with :

Saint of the Day
Character Building Story
Baltimore Catechism Questions …later during the week we illustrate the lesson using stick figure drawings much like those found in Christoper’s Talks to Catholic Children(which worked beautifully last year) or the oop Chalk Talks that were later added to the Faith and Life Religion books…much like what our beloved Helen does!

For the 6 and 7yo…
Concentration on Math today:

  • Played with Math 1 Tackle Box(I assembled a few years ago)..played with odd and even and the teens and tens boards..just for fun!
  • Played with numbers on this abacus…(We made the home made version a few years ago and they are still holding up…everyone has their own colors with pony beads, popsicle sticks and skewers and small binder clips)

100 Ez Lessons (7 yo ds made a pic about the funny story he read at the end of the lesson…great for reading comprehension and an answer to "and what did you just read" questions.
and made a "book" from CHC’s Little Stories for Little Folks
and Spelling time

The older ones:
did copy work
read about knights and castles
and more castles
and they are making plans for a creative notebooking project using this. 
Read Aloud: The Sword of Clontarf

and worked in their Developmental Math books and played Timez Attack
(my #2dd with digital and visual digit span issues is working her way through TouchMath and listening to the Concentration and Thinking Cd’s as she does her artwork.)

Not bad for a mucky Monday.  Would like to do more, but we have to leave the rest for tomorrow.  Mondays are not my personal fav’s because we are still strung out from visiting over the weekend.  We will often have a lighter schedule on those days. 

We have company coming today and I got the living room and the dining room cleaned because I held out a plater of chocolate chip cookies before them…then told them to accomplish a certain amount of exercise and chores for each one (these cookies were made cutting back the sweetener and substituting some of it it with maple syrup  and using whole grain flour so we didn’t totally trash our diets 😉  I first offered them an organic carrot while I told them the "rules".  I "made" them do jumping jacks and told them to pick up 10 things…and then they did enough to purchase one cookie.  For the next cookie, it was more jumping jacks and 20 items…etc.  It helps to make the cookies small ;o)

So we are trying to "do school", clean the house, and cook for company coming for dinner….phew!

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Aren’t these notebooking pages great?!
It will save me lots of time making my own!  You need to peruse the site to get a full look at what Debra has to offer…there are both freebee and affordable pages.  The nature pages sure are cute! And these Geography pages were created to go with Geography Songs! 

If you stop by, tell her I sent you ;o)

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Triumph_of_the_holy_cross_ceiling_lady_c_2 Today is the feast of the Exultation (or Triumph) of the Holy Cross and tomorrow is the memorial  of Our Lady of Sorrows….how beautiful the two should be celebrated together on the Church calendar!

Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likenes of men. And being found in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

— Philippians 2:5-11

Month_9_sorrowsFlower Symbols of Mary’s Sorrows  

"One plant legend of special relevance to Christ’s Cross is that of
the herb, basil (Ocimum basilicum) which was held to be of such
close association with the Cross that St. Helena was able to find
the location of the True Cross by digging for it under a colony of
basil plants.  We know of the association through St. Helena, but
just what the legend, the "fallen petal", was is not known to us.
Possibly it was one of the plants which was reputed to have sprung
up at the foot of the Cross where Christ’s blood drops or Mary’s
tears fell, as is reported in legends of other plants.  Or it may
have been offered to Christ as a soothing herb.  Another "fallen
petal" is the use of "basilica" as the name for the cross-shaped
floor plans of church  buildings.  Also, from the practice in some
areas of strewing branches of basil before church communion rails,
it came to be known as "Holy Communion Plant"." ~from mgardens.org

Here is a representation of a Sorrowful Mary Garden

"each station is associated with a flower or
flowers whose popular Mary-connection may prompt a devotional
insight into that station’s significance in the saving paschal
mystery of the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.

Extending the practice of meditating on the Stations of the Cross,
the flower symbols of the Sorrowful Mysteries, planted around the
garden cross, provide a mosaic of meanings for continuing
meditation on the passion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

At Catholic Culture we read :"The Sign of the Cross we make over ourselves before prayer helps to fix our minds and hearts to God. After prayer we make it to keep close to God. During trials and temptations our strength and protection is the Sign of the Cross. At Baptism we are sealed with the Sign of the Cross, signifying the fullness of redemption and that we belong to Christ. Let us look to the cross frequently, and realize that when we make the Sign of the Cross we give our entire self to God — mind, soul, heart, body, will, thoughts."

O cross, you are the glorious sign of victory.
Through your power may we share in the triumph of Christ Jesus.

Stabat_mater_1On the menu today: Hot Cross Buns

For the Liturgical Year Notebook:
Catholic Mosaic: The Tale of Three Trees

Print out and learn these 2 songs:

Lift High the Cross
212 Stabat Maters??
Stabat Mater

google search for crosses with the dc and paste into a Word document collage

also make a notebook sorrowful Mary garden with the appropriate googled clip art flowers surrounding this picture

review the 7 Sorrows of Mary and their Scriptural references

ask the dc if they want to do any other projects based on the above links!

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I was reading the boards at 4 Real today and came across the question of Math Journaling posed by Dawn of by Sun and Candlelight….once again it was a post that I was already working on, so I polished it up a bit and I will share my answer here.  I hope it is of some use to you and that you will share your thoughts and ideas on it too!!

Math_journal_2We have gotten Math Journals from Eta Cuisenaire  for the kids so they would actually USE them…I tried graph paper and 1/2 lined with a space for drawing…but mostly they just fell apart. Anyone could probably do this very well, but I needed something bound so….when I purchased these  they were always stacked with the school stuff and it was something ‘official’ in their eyes…worked like a charm. 

What did we use these for?
We would use them for any and all kinds of math explorations! 
We used a lot of LIVING MATH books and Marilyn Burns books.  There are more ideas here.

They would often record math explorations out of those books or use them as a springboard into real life.

….like graphing how many snap-cubes (or match box cars) long is the baby and each family member and graphing the results

….using Venn diagrams to compare the samples of those who like vanilla those that like chocolate and those who like both or neither kind of ice cream…(BTW ice cream is a great motivator…haha)

Once my ds measured the perimeter of our house and graphed his results on graph paper and made a proposal for how much bigger his room could be taking into account the local building codes…if it sounds complicated, it isn’t.   ~especially when it was something that grasped his immagination and he decided to run with it…journal in tow. 

His younger brother decided to measure out with a long measureing tape how long his favorite whale was based on our house size and included that into his drawing…"way cool!" says mom!

Then….share the results with dad when he gets home…encourage dad to have deep discussions as to how information can change based upon different elements changing…etc…ask "I wonder what would happen if…" questions!

Get the idea?…it is this and much more…it is for having FUN!  Find what they are interested in and go with it and make it more of a Math Adventure…Have them record new math terms, different kinds of charts and graphs,  problem-solving tips, and math jokes too!

This is a clever way of getting them to think deeper about what is in front of them.

Another thought that I am working on is for my math-minded son, young Edison (10).   I am going to have him write his own math adventure that can be elaborated upon in his journal and then have him work on the problems with his brothers and sisters in theirs…a case of one child enlightening another on a new case..a new adventure that just begs to be solved…stay tuned for the results!!

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Maria I love the Montessori way of doing things as it is so very gentle in approach and it moves at the child’s pace and development level.  There are so many activities and educational helps that may not be explicitly Montessori, but can be presented in a Montessorian way.  A Montessori classroom is wonderful to visit, and if you get a chance, I suggest you stop by and ask questions!  You can pick up a great deal just by being there! Even looking at other homeschoolers Montessori environments or classroom environments can give you a myriad of ideas!!  Try using Google images and you will find more pics to look at!!

In order to outfit a Montessori classroom it takes thousands of dollars  and as a homeschooler with a limited budget, we have found many creative ways of presenting new things to the children without breaking the bank.

Montessori_cubeWe love to make Montessori materials!!  It is a great way to learn as an adult the creative genius that Maria Montessori had.  For example…I never really understood that the square of a number ACTUALLY made a square…and how excited I was to hold a thousand cube and know what it’s mathematical formula was!  I have an older dd who is very Math challenged and she is learning a great deal setting up presentations and making materials for her younger brothers and sisters.  How much fun they are to make…and problem-solve how to make!  This dd is gaining a deeper appreciation of the ORDER of math by way of owning the information in this creative way!  Math and Language are our primary focus right now and we are coming up with creative solutions for materials presentations.  You can get ideas from the many Montessori homeschooling groups and from Montessori Catalogs like Nienhuis.

Today is language day!

Sandpaper_letters_1We are doing a very cute activity with my 3yo ds…our bright little angel wants to try to read like his brothers and sisters and he does NOT want to be stopped!! So here I have this little cherub of a 3yo boy who insists he can read…I am playing many games with him that help him feel even more confident of that statement…LOL…

Even in the bath we play…"What is this?  a Bubble?  What sound do you hear at the beginning of the word bubble?  What letter is that? …and what does the letter B say?….Can you write a b on the tile with the bubbles??"  "I spy with my little eye something that makes the ‘buh’ sound!" 

He loves Tommy Stories by Empress Zelder…an out of print book that uses little stories to teach the character Tommy  to listen for sounds,  learn how sounds are made, and where they are made in his mouth…."Mommy can you read me Tommy nooooww??"

Redletterbook_1Red Letter Alphabet Book  -Have you ever seen this?  I have only drooled upon the picture in the Montessori Services Catalog.  So…I decided to make one….my way ;o)

Materials Needed:

Sandpaper letter font
1  index card binder with a clear plastic cover(so you can personalize it by slipping a paper under the plastic)
unruled white index cards (hole punched)
red consonant letters cut from stiffened felt (using sandpaper font of your choice)
blue vowel letters cut from  stiffened felt
photos beginning with each letter from the child’s life
red pen
blue pen
black pen

scrapbooking supplies (optional)
and don’t forget the scissors!

Decorate binder cover with the ( child’s  name)’s  abc book.
Use the little binder vertically like you see in the pic on the Red Letter Book page. 
Grab the scrapbooking supplies and get to work cutting out the pictures and mounting them on  the appropriate pages in creative ways…making sure that the page does not look too cluttered and visually clear.
On each page glue the appropriate felt letter with a nicely cut out picture or pictures on the card opposite.   Use a new letter every other page.
Using very clear lettering, pen in the object’s name under the picture…using red for the consonant and blue for a vowel being presented and black for the rest of the word

like this: bear  ant

the child can now trace the letter with his fingers when you read the book together…he will use both sight, sound and touch to identify the letters being presented….aaand if you use actual photos from the child’s life, you will make an even greater impression!  Did you take a picture of the train that he rode on at the amusement park this summer?  Use the names of people in his life…and his pet and favorite stuffed animal too!  Include a picture of his bike and any other favorite toy or food!  I used both the capital and the lowercase letters for this project.  It came in handy for handling words like Grandma!

Sorry…no photo…if I can figure out how to upload pictures, I will add one later!

Happy material making!!

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(The Dream Keepers by Kathryn Fincher)

God Bless America! ~(Information about America’s unofficial national anthem)

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,

Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,

Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,

As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God Bless America.

Land that I love

Stand beside her, and guide her

Thru the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies ,

To the oceans, white with foam

God bless America

My home sweet home.

God Bless America,

Land that I love

Stand beside her,

And guide her,

Through the night
With the light from above,

From the mountains,

To the prairies,

To the ocean,

White with foam,

God bless America,

My home sweet home.

God bless America,

My home sweet home.
~Irving Berlin

Godblessamericaposterby_g_harvveyWhat we are up to this week…Discovering more about America and July 4th!

Print out this page and listen to :
The Pledge of Allegiance as recited by Red Skelton….don’t miss this one!!

Happy Birthday America!!

The Declaration of Independence, a rough draft of the declaration, The Declaration (picture) 

America’s Freedom Documents
Information about the Constitution for Kids, and for older kids
Flags in History (use this info to make 3 Part cards!)
Parts of a Flag, More Flag Printouts

Flag Border Paper  (Have the kids write out the pledge for their notebooks!)

U.S journal pages, 4th of July Activity Book, Great Seal of the U S, July 4th Activities and Crafts

FlagcakeWhat we are EATING: Flag Cake!

What we are watching!  1776

What we are reading!:

Jean Fritz Books:
SSSH We’re Writing the Constitution
And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?

Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?

Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?
Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams?

Fireworks, Picnics, and Flags: The Story of the Fourth of July Symbols

The American Flag (True Books, American Symbols)
A is for America(True Books, American Symbols)
America : A Patriotic Primer
Pledge Of Allegiance

The Children’s Book of America

American Patriotic Songs Picture Books:
This Land is your Land
My Country Tis of Thee
Purple Mountain Majesties
America The Beautiful

Artist Study:
God_shed_his_grace_on_thee_terry_redlinrTerry Redlin
(The America the Beautiful Series)
(Dh and I looove this artist!!)

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