Thursday, September 18, 2014

Our Catholic Homeschool

It's no big secret that we are Catholic's, in fact I am quite proud of that fact. It is just not something that I blog about often. I am not a Catholic blogger, I am more of a blogger that happens to be Catholic. I blog from a parenting/teacher/homeschooler perspective. I unfortunately notice that when I post about Catholic activities that I have done with my children, I lose likes on facebook. It's too bad, and as I do not do it often, I will not stop posting about it. It is part of our education process, so I will share. As many of you already know, we use a Catholic curriculum to homeschool with and it is SETON SCHOOL. This is a fully accredited school, which my children will receive a high school diploma from, NOT a GED. Anyway, today's post is about some religious activities I have put together for my youngest as he goes on to prepare for his First Communion!
We use this awesome Liturgical Calendar from Illuminated Ink to keep track of our Holy Days of Obligation and Saint Feast Days! This great little number was a bit on the pricey side at 25.00, but in the end I found it a good investment. We also added tabs at the back of the binder to divide up the liturgical year and keep any crafts or worksheets in the back so that I have them all ready to go when we reach a certain time of year.
It comes with all the stickers you will need to complete the calendar and many pages for your Littles to color. The only negative comment I have on this is that seasonal stickers it came with. The small purple, pink and white color stickers that you place on each day for the season we are in (Ordinary, Easter, Etc..) These were so difficult to peel that they tore and we ended up ruining so many that we just colored them appropriately in the end and gave up on the stickers. Other than that, this is an awesome binder that we use all the time! I do wish it was a bigger binder though, we are overstuffed but don't want to lose the beautiful picture it came with on the cover of their binder. 
Some fun Saint Printables from Arma Dei, gave us an AWESOME opportunity to turn our Guess Who game into Saint Guess Who! We took it even further and keep the Fr. Lovasik Saint books nearby and we quickly read about which saint we got. At the end of the game, each person tells a little bit about their Saint with everyone else.

Illuminated Ink strikes again with their awesome Saint Symbol stickers! These stickers are so fun for the kids to color, but then we purchased poker chips to place the stickers on and as each pack comes with multiples of each saint, we were able to make a memory game!

Blessed Mother paper dolls were a hit at our house when these beauties came home with us from the homeschool conference! Once again from Illuminated Ink! I am beginning to regret not buying a large poster for the kids to color. 
As each week passes, I like to teach the Mass to my First Communicant. We are in the process of creating our own Mass Kit in a DIY style. I introduce a new piece each week and it does double duty as a lesson manipulative and then as part of the overall mass kit. These 'hosts' were made from wood circles that I picked up for a song at the craft store.
A bread plate from Family Christian was the perfect tray to hold our hosts along with a simple tray that holds the pitchers for the water & 'wine'. This is as far as we have gotten, but I plan to add felt pieces as the altar covers in proper seasonal colors. There is so much more to come, but we are doing just a small bit each week, to ensure comprehension. This is also a great set to practice carrying the gifts, so your littles can be prepared should your family get selected! We are lucky enough to be regulars by now, but I still get nervous when they hand my klutzy guy the hosts!
Our family absolutely loves coloring pages, I enjoy making some of my own for the kids to learn prayers from. This simple Hail Mary prayer becomes easier to learn as they recite each word while coloring it. Using a different color per word makes it easy to memorize.
I was challenged this week to share my favorite bible verse and I didn't even have to think about it! This one has always been it. During a struggle, I have to always keep in mind that this is the path the Lord has set me on. Enjoy every minute my friends! 

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014


It's Wednesday! That puts us right in the middle of the week, which is usually the middle of our spelling lesson. Here is my youngest son's week 3 spelling list. On Monday, I posted about Spelling Test Success HERE, today we will discuss an alternative or what we do in addition to the notecard daily works.
Start out with a large tick tac toe grid and place it in a protective sheet cover or even a transparency like I mentioned on MONDAY HERE! Now, this board can be used over and over again as a dry erase game. Have the 2 players each pick out a spelling word (Can be played with children of different age levels as well, since each just picks one word from their own list). 
Begin play as though playing regular TTT, but this time use your spelling words, saying each letter aloud as it is being spelled. Winner is chosen the same way! What a fun way to bring in games to learning!
How true this is my friends, especially as a homeschooler, I am with my children 24 hours a day and I seem to hardly see a change and then I look at photos from just the previous year and I am astounded by how much has changed! Let this be a lesson to us all to just enjoy every minute!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Learning with Dominoes!

Happy Tuesday my friends! How is it that these days are just flying by? Oh yes, the old adage that when you are having fun time flies! I wanted to share some more learning fun that I made up for the kids as they were learning to count. This could easily be adjusted to adding and subtracting as well as multiplying and the like!
Step one is to cut out each domino, unless you want to preserve this game, then print out and laminate before cutting. You can get your dominoes HERE! Once you have cut out each individual domino, you are ready for step 2. Keep in mind you can use these dominoes alone as teaching tools. Have your child count each dot on each domino and you have a simple counting game.
For example -
In counting from L-R: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7.
When using as an adding game: 1 + 6 = 7
Rotate for Subtracting: 6 - 1 = 5
Multiplication: 1 x 6 = 6
Rotate for Division: 6/1 = 6
You can also use real dominoes if you so choose, they even have them at the dollar store!
This domino parking lot is perfect for your beginning counters, have them count up the dots and park them in the correct spots. After printing, you could easily white out the numbers and then fill in with the numbers that fit whatever way you are teaching. 
Make sure you remember to enjoy every minute my friends! It's so easy to want to complain or get down on ourselves, spouses, children, significant other, but if we took the time to remember that this could be the last day we had with our loved ones...well we might just rethink our attitudes.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

School Days...

Happy Monday my friends! What a weekend it has been! As we are on our travels this month, I wanted to let you all know that school does not stop! We school year round and educate 24 hours a day. Long car trips are just as good as a classroom and new adventures are just as good lessons. A simple Science lesson is even taught riding the spinning tea cups!

I have mentioned before that we use Seton School as a curriculum and some of the books are a bit on the pricey side. One way we extend the life of our books to last through 3 children OR just workbooks that have certain pages that need more work than what the workbook offers, like tracing pages and similar is a tip that that will have you excited to finally put to use those long ago shelved office supplies. Our simple way of solving this problem is to use transparency sheets! Place one on top of the page you want to preserve and it works as a dry erase page that can easily be written on with dry erase marker and then wiped clean. Also great for Tic Tac Toe and Hangman in the car without crumpling up loads of paper!
Ahhh..the binder ring, this simple invention has me so happy on a daily basis, I use them for EVERYTHING! A great way to keep track of spelling words each and every week along with studying along the way is so simple!
1. Have the student write out each word on an index card using the Say It - Spell It - Say It method of learning. (Upon completion, review each word in the ring)
2. Have the student go back the next day and trace each word using a colored pencil or something else colorful using the same method as the day before. (Upon completion, review each word in the ring)
3. Have the student return on day 3 to highlight each letter with a highlighter, once again using the same method as before.  (Upon completion, review each word in the ring)
4. Have the student return on day 4 to punch a hole in the corner of each index card as he says the word and spells the word.  (Upon completion, review each word in the ring)
5. It's test day! Your student should be ready for their test!
Use a colored index card to separate the different lessons, so the student knows where each new lesson begins. At the end of the school year, your student can then see exactly how many words they now know how to spell! Binder rings come in many different sizes and you can keep going bigger as the stack gets larger.
Of all the things I teach my children, I only hope they come away with the desire to travel. On the go is the best education anyone can be given. Enjoy every minute my friends!

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Friday, September 12, 2014

ABCs & 123s

It's so easy to want to sing the alphabet song and just keep repeating the numbers 1-10 and call it a day, but why not take a few extra steps to make learning FUN?! That is one thing I try to bring to our every day lessons. Smiles and giggles make a hard day so much easier!

Foam floor tiles with numbers on them can be a fun game when placed like hop scotch tiles and as the kids jump on each number they say what number it is. Put them in mixed order to change it up and then just take them all apart and have them around the room, tell the student to jump from tile to tile and say the number they are on. Make it grow with the child by having them jump from one to another and ADD the sum of the 2 numbers!

Take the learning outdoors with jumbo foam letters! Get that case of the ants in your pants outdoors with learning fun. Toss jumbo letters on the ground and have them put them in alphabetical order, spell their name, shout a letter and have them find that one, have them spell spelling words or sight words...the games are endless!! Remember, you can be creative for pennies!!
Clothespins are something that can always be found in my classroom! They are easily transitioned from the laundry room into the school room. In this game I have put the lower case letters on the clip and have them matched up to the upper case letters. This is an easy do, but also keep the kids entertained as they work. Have extra space? Hang rope in the room and make it a laundry line game, the kids will love it so much more, just place the flashcards in a basket and tell them to hang the laundry on the matching clip that is already on the line.

Enjoy every minute my friends!!!

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Disney World Tip #1

Disney Tip! I have mentioned before that I am working on a post on how to make Disney more affordable to everyone and it is coming hopefully by the time we get back from Disney. One tip I love to share is to order your pin lanyards (for pin trading) ahead of time online. You will get great prices on your kids favorite characters and also have them prepped and ready for travel!

1. Add a gift card to the badge holder (with or without money for your kids, we put 50.00 on each one for our kids) on the back of the gift card use a sharpie to write their name and your cell phone number on it so that they have it on them should they get lost.
2. Keep them a secret until the day you leave and they make a great gift from "Mickey Mouse" to welcome them to WDW.
3. Use them to surprise the kids to tell them they are going to DISNEY WORLD!
4. Buy a pin lot on Ebay or anywhere online ahead of time for a bulk payment on pins (even if they are lame ones that nobody wants), this has your pin lanyard prepped for trading without having to buy expensive pins just to trade them. ONE NOTE: Be sure that they are DISNEY OFFICIAL pins for trading or they will NOT be accepted.
Next tip will be on decorating your Magic Bands!! Here is just a wee peek at a few of ours!
Page 4 of our DIY EPCOT PASSPORT is up! Check out the other pages HERE!!! This has been a vacation that has been a long time coming and I am so glad that I get to personalize it as we go!

Enjoy every minute my friends and be ready to save $$ on awesome vacations!

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Homeschooling Hot-Spot Rockford

Hello my friends! I have been wanting to add a local flair to my blog for years now and I have finally figured out how to do it! Once a week, I like to break routine and leave our classroom behind for the open world. Okay, not quote the world, but to discover more of our town. Once a week we like to pack up our backpacks (WHAT?? Homeschoolers have backpacks??) and head out and about. I would like to make this a weekly edition to my blog, that will begin full force in October as most of our September is being spent exploring a whole other world!! The idea is to explore the place as a homeschooler:
1) Can we stay long doing work and not be a nuisance or made to feel like one?
2) Price. Is it cost effective for budget-minded homeschoolers?
3) Atmosphere. Is it clean (bathrooms, eating area), comfortable (temperature, seating)
4) Any other observations
Today, we are at the Banana Cherry Bakery on Alpine Road. This place is fairly new to the area and my kids have been dying to try it for some time. It was a rainy morning and everyone was having a difficult time getting into the groove of learning as their brains are on VACATION already!! (So is mine!!), so I decided to surprise them with a bakery trip. They were ecstatic when we parked the car, but I was a bit nervous, the open sign was not lit up on the main road and it looked so dark. I sent my son ahead of us and he pulled on the door to find it locked. He was bummed, but tried the other door, OPEN! YAY! 
The Decor and furnishings were quite sparse but the eating area and restrooms were clean. The staff was incredibly friendly and happy to be there. Our baked goods were absolutely delightful! They have free wi-fi, which is a bonus as well. The place was quiet and a virtual ghost town at 10:45am, so this allowed us some nice time alone to get work done. Around 11:15 it started seeing more  business, but there was no need for our table. 

I found the prices to be on the expensive side, spending just under 20,00 for the 4 of us to each have 1 sweet and 1 drink. (2 berry muffins, 2 banana cakes, 3 waters and 1 cup of tea)  The Muffins were absolutely delicious but could easily be split by 2 people. The Banana Cake was large enough for 2 people as well. I did find it strange that a bakery had no milk. When you think baked goods, you think cold glass of milk! I did ask for just glasses of ice water, but they gave me bottled water. I did not realize it until after I paid, if I had known that was the case, I would have just ordered 2 as they never finish a complete one. All in all we would go back, due to how empty it was and we would most likely order food to split and either bring our own milk or order just a couple of bottled waters. That would bring our price to a more tolerable level for becoming regulars of an establishment. For this price, we could have gone out to a local diner for breakfast.
All in all it was a good morning with just a hiccup. Not all of our locations will cost money and not all of our opinions will coincide with yours, this is just something I decided to start and hope you enjoy the ride. At the end of our visit, they even brought us out a free cookie to try and they are ENORMOUS!
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Monday, September 1, 2014

Learn Your Name

Hello everyone! Hope your Holiday weekend was a good one! We went away for the weekend, so I am using my driving time to catch up on everything. This is a worksheet that I made up while my kids were younger and still learning their names. This sheet can be put in a page protector to be used more than once in a dry-erase format. First the student circles all the letters that appear in their name and then writes the name in the box below. In the beginning, use a sentence strip with their name written on it, so that they can search for the letters that match and eventually they will learn the spelling on their own and won't need that sentence strip anymore. Print your own HERE!
If you have been following my EPCOT PASSPORT POST HERE, you will see that I am adding pages regularly, leading up to our trip. Here is page 3! For more info on this page and the others CLICK HERE!
Enjoy every minute my friends! Share something that you did this weekend?!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No-Sew Felt Food Fun!

My kids LOVE to play kitchen! They had kitchens in every home they ever spent the night in  (Our home, Nana and Grandpa, Great Grandpa...on and on) and now that they are bigger, they still love playing kitchen, but on a larger scale! Hahaha!! They love creating sets and scenes and it's so easy to do when I just get them started with a template! They are moving on to sewing, but for my youngest, the No-Sew versions are perfect for him to get involved! Eggs are so easy just using felt, scissors and a glue stick! Cut out the shape you need and cut out multiples, then add the yolk in the center with a glue stick! So simple and when paired with their crackable eggs, the yolk looks sooo cool!

Tea parties are often had and tea bags were a must! a felt template was all they needed and they were off! Scissors cut the shape and small hole at the top and then yarn made the dangle on the end. They had so much fun picking out all the colors. My daughter and older son proceeded to sew the word TEA on each bag! I will have to share the photos on those tomorrow as they took off with them straight away to the play room!

Cookies!!! 2 different sized circles and then save all the scraps and cut them down to confetti sized strips! PERFECTO!
Remember my friends, to enjoy every minute!!

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