Friday, January 30, 2015

Penpal Fun

I've mentioned it many times before, but penpals are awesome for children. They have the possibility to teach geography, handwriting, grammar, spelling and reading with the letter itself. Add in postage, travel to and fro and you have a math lesson as well! The same old same old letters can get old every now and then and you have to spice things up! Here are a few things I have done for my kids to make having a penpal a lot of fun! I've even mentioned HERE about our penpal writing station!
Creative envelopes are so easy to make and give your letter some great looks! Not only are they inexpensive, but they can be free too! We travel A LOT and stop at many rest areas, these places are havens of maps and brochures and magazines! My kids love to grab those but then they end up all over the floor of the van after the road trip. I gather them up and pull out the pages, perfect for collages and other art work but best of all, they work out as envelopes!!
These are all from a magazine about Illinois that we came across on our trip to St. Louis. The kids love thumbing through the magazine and finding the perfect photos. Neon Labels make the perfect address labels too!
My youngest is not a fan of writing, but he loves sending mail, I like creating paper for him with writing prompts, this makes it easy for him to write a message, color and draw and also keeps it simple and clean for the reader!
My 9 year old son loves comic books and what better way to send a letter, than to draw a comic of his own! I change out the format every now and then and sometimes it's only a partial comic and the rest is lined paper. On the edge of thise one I have some writing prompts for him to fill in a little information!
My daughter is a budding fashion designer with her own portfolio and a room full of sketches. I created this stationery for her to be able to send some outfit sketches to her penpal and still wriite a message in the box. I blanked out her name on this one, but her papers are personalized for that 'professional' feel. She LOVES these and often uses them when she is not even sending them and just makes outfit notes on the right.
Enjoy every minute my friends!
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sometimes I'm Scared...

Yesterday as I sat in a valium haze at the dentist, I realized that i'm still a kid when it comes to going there. I have no cavities and in fact have only had 2 in my entire life but yet I still get scared enough that they have to prescribe me something. At that moment as I waited anxiously for it all to be over with, my mind began to wander at just how much fear plays a dominant role in my life.

~I fear that my children are not getting enough of anything, have I failed them in some way? Their state tests and kind manners along with compliments I get on them do nothing to ease that fear, is it just something all parents have?

~I fear that my husband will get burned out, he works so hard for us to have the life that we do and he manages to do it all starting at 5 in the morning. (The earlier he goes in, the earlier he can be home!). He comes home in a great mood and is always ready to chip in around the home and then play with the kids and still spend time chatting with me about the day.

~3 friends the same age as myself recently lost their fathers, my mother just lost her best friend (all of these people the same ages as my parents) and all of this within the same week. I fear that my parents will die too soon, I'm not ready to say goodbye and I don't think I ever will be.

~I fear that our old school van will up and die on us. We are far overdue for a new car, but just not willing to bite the bullet and get another one yet. We took a huge hit to our savings when we bought the house 2 years ago and have been building it back up. We have the luxury of no mortgage but worry that after we buy a car, something may happen...

~I fear that I fear too much and spend too much of my day letting those worries creep into my thoughts and they definitely don't have me getting 8 hours, 6 hours or even 5 hours of a sleep a night.

~I worry that my Faith is not strong enough to just had HIM all my worries and know that everything will work out just as it is supposed to.
Enjoy every minute my friends, sorry to get so personal on a Thursday when we should be celebrating that tomorrow is FRIDAY!
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nearly Wordless on Wednesday...

I love keeping busy (in case you didn't realize) and the kids have absolutely no problem with that! Here they are at their Spectacular Science class on Monday!

After Sunday's robotics class for our son, the boys were all inspired to begin working on the challenge, and they pulled out their LEGO robot kit with daddy and have been tinkering around every night. Love that they spend time together.

After only 2 knitting lessons, my daughter finished a scarf! She is working on 10 crochet hearts to add to the scarf to give it a little pizazz! 
My day was MADE when my gold card arrived from Starbucks! What was the first thing I did to celebrate? Go to Starbucks of course! 
Uh-Oh, Facebook went down last night and I had no clue what to do with myself. Instead of picking up the book mocking me in the corner, I went to twitter to find out what was up. I need help! Haha!

Teachers are allowed to check out a specimen box from the library to give kids a hands on education of various items. I rented a room at our local library and we opened it up to our homeschool group, what fun everyone had!
My 7 year old had book club today and the theme of their club is Books that Cook! They read books that have food in them and then make that food after discussing the book! What a great way to inspire children to read. What was the theme of today's club?? Hmm....

Enjoy your day my friends!
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teaching on Tuesday...

Time to learn on Tuesday! Today I will share some games I have put together to help me the learning process fun for my children. I know that we are already with an accredited program that all comes in a box, including their grading services, but I know that my children need a little MORE when it comes to learning. Sometimes books are just a little too bland for what all needs to be learned.
Art is great for looking at in galleries, not so fun when it comes to just reading about it in a workbook. I created Art Bingo for our art lessons and then we can also play it before and after heading to the Art museum. I made up 4 of these cards with additional art works on each one and mixed up their spots to make it a real BINGO game. I also printed up a master sheet that has the photo of the art work and a brief paragrah on who created it and a little about the piece and or artist. In the future, I plan on creating a game based on famous art museums of the world! A great art and geography lesson in one!
This simple math center is for my 2nd grader that is SLOOOOWWLLLY learning his times tables and for the bigger kids who are good on the minute test, but could still use polishing every now and then! I just pulled old calendar numbers and a large foam die. They are all in a plastic tray that sits on the shelf under our classroom table. Perfect for grabbing and working!
As you can tell, I am a fan of upcycling! Thrifty Teaching Aids are a favorite of mine and this game works on just that! An old yogurt container holds 48 water bottle caps labeled 1-12 (4 sets of them) and milk jug caps with operations on them (Plus, minus, multiply). The game is to pull one WB cap and put it on the 1 spot on the lid, then a MJ cap in spot #2 and finally another WB cap in spot #3. Now the student/child must answer the problem. If they get it correct, they get to keep the WB caps and return the operation caps. This continues until all WB caps are being held and then the one with the most wins. BEWARE, there are several BOOM caps in here that make you return all your winnings!
We are a HUGE LEGO family, as I am sure many of you know, my son is even in a LEGO robotics competition team! Using these AWESOME labels from Outside The Brick, We now have a hands on LEGO game that involves learning the State, Capital and Abbreviation! I did not make each grouping the same color, as it makes it more difficult for the children to play. They need a challenge and this is perfect! I also added a deck of state card that gives the capital on it along with the shape of the state. Once they group the LEGOS, they must find the correct card to make sure they are correct and then look for the state on our state map that is also in the tray. Place the LEGOs on the map and move on!
Periodic Table of Elements Play! 
I downloaded the flashcards from HERE and then the kids colored them, I laminated them and together we punched holes and thread them through a ring. Alone these are an awesome resource and can be played many ways. We often toss these in our outing bag and have them just for fun at Doctor's offices and the like. In the classroom, they are paired with a bananagrams game, a table placemat and some bingo chips. The idea is to take the cards off the ring and place them in a tray facing down. Pull a card, read the information on it and then locate it on the chart. Place a chip on the chart and then use the letters from the game to make up its atomic number. There is no winner in this game as it is just review and learning while working hands on. Once the game is over, more review is had while placing them back in order and on the ring. Have younger children? Have them put the cards away and practice counting 1-100!
Remember to enjoy every minute my friends!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Monday Morning Musings...

The weather in northern IL is chilly, it calls for a fire to be burning constantly, because I like to keep the thermostat at 65*. Yikes! I know, I know that's chilly but it saves us money and we all get to snuggle under warm blankets whenever we sit down! What do you keep your temp at if you are in a cold zone?
Remember earlier in the month I mentioned my goal of drinking 1 gallon of water a day. Whoa, this has been such a wake up call for me. I am LOVING the water, but not loving the bathroom trips. It's still too early for me to notice much, except that I am not snacking as much nor am I craving too much in between meals. 
Are your bookshelves exploding? Mine are! One thing that I am doing to solve this is to get a group of people together in my home to swap and sell our books! I am setting up tables throughout my home and we will be set up to swap books for other friends or sell them if we cannot find a trade. I am very excited about this and will keep you posted on how it turns out! 
Teach the alphabet & letter sounds in no time!
A great way to teach letter sounds and/or the alphabet is with coloring pages, get yours HERE!!
1. Day One: As each letter is colored, have them sound out and say each letter. 
2. Day Two: print out a second copy and do the same. 
3. Day Three: Laminate the colored pages and cut out each letter combo evenly from 1 of the pages. (Saying each letter and letter sound as you cut it out to make flashcards)
4. Day Four: Repeat Day Three!
5. Day Five: You now have a set of Memory Game cards. Play with a few letters at a time and build up to playing with the entire alphabet. As each card is turned over say the letter and the sound.

Are you a thrifter? Flashcard collector? I am using a mug tree to hold flashcard collections. This makes them easy to find and also keeps them out and on display. I change them out monthly and I notice that they are always being thumbed through! 
Enjoy every minute my friends!
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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday School

Happy Sunday my friends! This Sunday posting is a new addition to the blog in which I will wrap up our Catholic school portions of homeschooling. I don't expect all of my readers to have the same views as I do or believe in what we do, so this way I figure you can either head on over here on Sunday for all the goodies or just skip the blog on this day. Thanks so much for following me no matter what though, I appreciate every bit! You will be able to find a master compilation of all our Catholic activities and crafts HERE at our Little Catholic Homeschool!   Punching holes in our Saint & Holy Cards allows us to keep them on a binder ring to hang up in our classroom, perfect for keeping organized and having them handy and on display!
Our library has a free bin of books that are usually too warped or torn up to read but I know they must feel like I do and they just cannot throw them away. What better thing to do than to use them in the classroom? This 10 commandments book was in rough shape and missing a lot of pages, so we cut it up and used it to create a 10 commandments lap book! Get creative with items before you toss them into the trash!
Our Wreath I books arrived for the Little Flowers girls club, I am so nervous about leading a group but at the same time very excited. Are your children in a Little Flowers group or are you a leader? Please share your experiences with me!! The Little Flowers is a club for girls that is the Catholic version of secular clubs and groups.
Adoration Bag #4
This bag belongs to my 9 year old. It has his book that he is currently reading: Bible Wars & Weapons, his holy cards and rosary guide along with a rosary. His Action Bible and the memory verse cards that go along with his bible. (The Action Bible is NOT a Catholic bible, he knows this and it allows him to compare the 2 bibles as he goes through it). His adoration bag is actually his everywhere bag, he is constantly using this items that it just worked out for him to bring this. In Adoration, he uses his rosary guides and prays the rosary and then he prays to all the saints in his ring of saints and memorizes a few bible verses as he prays for his intentions list.
Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St. Timothy. For our Saint of the Day, we usually read from HERE  and then as I am reading the kids color a page that I have ready and printed out. On the backside of the coloring page, they write down a few things about the Saint that stand out to them from the reading. This is a great way to familiarize children with the Saints.
Enjoy every minute my friends!


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015


March for Life, chilly but awesome... 
Just learned how to crochet and now it goes everywhere with her! 
Absolutely loving this from church and will definitely have to make my own! 
We went out of town this weekend for Monster Trucks! What fun!!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesdays Tips!

Tuesday is here and with that you get a peek into my life with a shared tip! Scouring Pinterest, I found several LEGO Bridges and decided to put them together onto one page. I then printed out this page, popped it into a page protector and into our LEGO binder. This binder has all their directions, LEGO magazines and any challenges such as this that I put together. It gives them ideas to create and also challenges them to do something out of their norm. 
A large basket in our classroom is designated to new books that have come in from the weekend. They are waiting to be scanned into our database & add library pockets. While in this basket it also gives time for children to leaf through what just came in and just maybe they will check them out!
As this past week was Educator Week at Barnes & Noble, I went a bit crazy, add in a trip to the Catholic store and I was in heaven!
New This Week:
1. The Lost Files of Nancy Drew
2. My Path to Heaven a young person's guid to the Faith
3. Communion of Saints Coloring Book
4. Girls Who Rocked the World
5. Totally Catholic!
6. For Girls Only, Everything Great About Being a Girl
7. Four Perfect Pebbles A Holocaust Story
8. American Sisters Exploring the Chicago World's Fair 1893
9. Minecraft The Essential Handbook
10. George Washington, Spymaster
Two CDS:
1. The Easter
2. SAT Test Express
Make those stuffy old binder clips pretty enough for your classroom with washi tape!
Another peek into our Adoration Bags, here is mine! Mine has my wedding day Bible, bible highlighters and my daily devotional journal. In this journal I keep track of all prayer requests that I have been given, some of my own and also journal about day to day activities that I need to reflect on. After going through a few basic prayers, I pray a rosary and then begin my reflection with my bible as I pray for those that asked for prayers. Read more about our Adoration bags along with our Little Catholic Homeschool HERE!
Remember to enjoy every minute my friends!

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