We read Click, Clack, Moo and watched videos of cows being milked on Youtube (homesteaders, no laughing!). We only watched clips of hand milking, as Eliza was terrified by the sight of the milking machines. :-) Then of course we had to paint cows. I asked Lydia to draw these outlines for the girls-
And they obviously had a grand time painting them. I thought they'd paint alike but Eliza was thinking outside the black box and asked for brown paint. She loves her picture so much she sits at the easel and pretends to milk the cow. :-)
I'm a little behind in my posting because C is also for Company, and we were delighted by a long weekend visit from Nana-
We made these paper plate ducks which inspired lots of singing of the Five Little Ducks song. I also made five smaller ducks out of yellow paper circles so they could act out the song, and we also do it with singing and flapping and I of course have to be Mother Duck (quack).
Lots of singing and banging on drums. Josiah made these classic oatmeal carton drums for them last Christmas and they still love them. After painting the cartons he strung them with embroidery floss, slitting the cardboard edge to secure it.
The girls acted out the Edgar story with toy dolphins in a basin of water, and we watched a video from the library about dolphins.
We keep working on sorting objects by their beginning sounds. Then we play a game where they close their eyes and I move a few of the items around, then they open their eyes and have to find the ones placed on the wrong letter mats. They love this.
And last but by no means least, D is for Dad!
Kateri and Eliza heart their Dad, who hearts chocolate and is a gold star super-Dad
Because you're never too young to learn how to write a love note!
My two little learners have been utterly enchanted to be traveling along the Utterly Lovely Alphabet Path. They are greatly enjoying their letter studies and look forward to each day's activities. Kateri is forever asking questions like, What letter are we on? Are we still on D week? What letter comes next? Eliza is enamored with the alphabet and the beginning sounds of words and is forever singing her own ever-changing song, A is for apple, B is for bear, C is for kitty cat, D is for Dad... I decided it would be wise to capitalize on all of this Alphabet Enthusiasm and use the letter of the week as an opportunity to teach good habits and attitudes. I thought if I could come up with one word or phrase for each letter we could learn a lot over the course of the alphabet. I figured they would be captivated with anything Alphabet, and sure to remember it, and I was right.
We of course would need visuals to go along with the concepts, so I asked one of my trusty resident artists to help me out. Lydia has Graciously agreed to provide a coloring page for each of the letters of the alphabet, illustrating the habit or attitude or virtue we are trying to teach. She has completed the first six coloring pictures, and my very dear husband has formatted them very nicely for easy download and printing.
The little girls are delighted with the pages and excited to be learning new things, and they love to repeat them as I anticipated. Each week we will introduce a new concept, and keep reviewing the previous ones as well. We talk about the picture and discuss other examples of the idea portrayed.
So far we have: A is for Always Ask, showing a girl asking permission to have an apple, B is for Be a Blessing, showing a boy taking a cake to a neighbor, C is for Compassion, showing a girl offering a drink to her sick brother, D is for Do your Duty, showing a boy doing his sweeping chore, E is for Eat nicely, showing a girl at table, and F is for Friendly, showing a boy inviting another to come and play.
So far it is going very well with my little girls. Just tonight Kateri asked Josiah for a drink and as he poured it for her she said, You're being a good boy, Jo Jo, showing compassion. :-) I also thought of reading picture books that go along with each letter, such as Flower Garden for B, in which a girl and her father prepare a birthday surprise for the mother. For C I thought of Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs or The Trees of the Dancing Goats, and perhaps Shirley Hughes' Alfie Lends a Hand for F. I'm just browsing my picture book shelves looking for stories that provide more examples of the idea we are focusing on for the week that little ones can understand.
I would like to Be a Blessing and share these coloring pages with you. I would also like to express my Gratitude to Lydia, who has drawn some very sweet pictures, and to Michael, my dedicated Tech Support. We hope to have more letters up next week. Happy coloring!
Today is the first day of the fall 40 Days for Life campaign, following the Biblical principal of setting aside forty days as a period of intense prayer and fasting for a specific goal. 40 Days for Life seeks to draw attention to and to end the evil of abortion in our society. The focus of the campaign is prayer and fasting, peaceful vigils at clinic sites, and community outreach through awareness and education. The use of a forty day period dedicated to intensive prayer goes back to Biblical times with examples in both the Old and New Testaments. The 40 Days for Life campaign is happening in 212 cities across the United States and Canada, and even one site in Denmark. As Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine stated, "40 Days for Life is the work of the Holy Spirit, a divine inspiration in the ongoing effort to end the plague of abortion."
At Mass tonight I thought of how appropriate it is that the campaign is starting today, Ember Wednesday and a day of fasting. The reading from the Gospel of Mark 9:16-28 told the story of Our Lord healing the boy possessed by a demon. His disciples secretly asked Him: why could not we cast him out? And He said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting. Surely the greatest evil possessing our society is the killing of the unborn, and clearly this evil is not going to be cast out but by prayer and fasting. And who is there to fast and pray but the people of God? It is up to us.
The other main component of the campaign is keeping vigil at the clinics. There are people who faithfully pray at clinics week after week, year after year, but there are also many, many people who consider themselves prolife yet resist this form of work. Our family began regularly praying at clinics during the fall 40 Days campaign last year. Many prolife leaders stress the importance of being a witness at the clinics, the front lines of the battle for life. During the kickoff rally last year we listened to a local prolife leader read this profound testimony of the effect of prayer warriors stationed in front of the clinic (please do read it). When David Bereit visited our campaign, he said the most important thing we can do is witness at the clinics. When we heard Joe Scheidlerspeak in January, he said the most important thing to do is witness at the clinics. When Fr. Pavone visited our 40 Days campaign, he said the most important thing to do is witness at the clinics. He said if hundreds and thousands of people started showing up on the sidewalks everyday, the scourge of abortion would end. Quickly.
We recently attended a prolife symposium and the speaker challenged us to examine our own views about abortion. He pointed out that everyone in the room agrees that we want abortion to end, but that is not the same as saying we want to end abortion. That involves doing something, not just wishing someone else will get the job done for us. We must be willing to sacrifice and actively work to bring about the end of the slaughter of the innocents.
One reason many people resist visiting the clinics is they want to protect their children's innocence. This is a valid concern, and one I used as an excuse for many years. But the reality is that our children are going to learn about abortion sooner or later. I know that this past presidential elections provided the unwelcome but necessary opportunity for many to discuss the topic with their children for the first time. I have come to realize that as my children grow older and gradually grasp an understanding of this most horrific practice in our society, I want them to simultaneously know how we spend our lives actively trying to end it. I don't want any of them to ever learn about it and then ask why don't we do anything about it?
I confess I also resisted going to the clinics for a long time because I thought I couldn't handle it. I rationalized that going and standing around crying like a fool wasn't going to help anything, and so I didn't go. But last fall I came to the realization that my personal discomfort was a pretty lame excuse for not going there. I was right - I can't handle it. No matter how many times we go I still get disturbed and my stomach ties in knots and I am filled with dread. But God wants us to cry, to care, and to do something about His little ones. Sometimes I wear sunglasses. Sometimes I put up my defense mechanisms and turn off my brain and just pray. Sometimes I allow myself to think just a little and I let my mind wander in behind those gruesome walls. And I know that when I allow myself to think, to feel, to weep, to ache for those women - that is when I am most able to unite my sufferings with His and beg Him to use them to bear fruit that is Life. And in His goodness and mercy He answers.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you - standing in front of a clinic is surely one way to have evil screamed against you, but Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great - surely there is no greater joy than when you have been standing there praying and a life is saved.
So I ask you to please consider joining in this 40 Days for Life campaign. You can sign up to receive a daily update and devotional message via email, or check the daily blog. You can check the location map to see if there is a campaign near you. There is no greater witness to life than mothers with babies and families standing outside the clinics praying! Even if there are not local events in your area (and praise God if you have no clinic nearby!), you can unite your prayers and fasting and sacrifices to the cause of life for the next forty days. Please join us. For Life!
A few people have asked about the wooden letters seen in my previous post about our alphabet studies. I've never used a specific 'handwriting curriculum' with little people before - I remember Jonathan learning his letters with pretzel pieces while sitting in his high chair. Most of my children have also learned to write quite naturally by living in a 'print rich' environment where drawing and writing happen pretty much constantly. When Jonathan was two his Nana sent him an easel for his birthday, and we set it up for him right away. Michael and I can still vividly recall what happened next - without any sort of prompting Jonathan painted his name all by himself, frequently turning his little blond curly head to glance at the love note on the refrigerator he was using as reference.
Now Miss Eliza has known all of her capital letters and most lower case letters for quite a long time, but she has yet to learn how to write all of them. I knew she would need more structured help so I invested in some of the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. It uses a hands-on multisensory approach to learn proper letter formation, and I know with Eliza the more senses involved the better. One of the key components is wooden pieces that are used to form the letters - children can play with and handle the straight lines and curves, gaining familiarity with their shapes. The pieces are placed on a mat in proper order, and the child traces the letter in the proper order as with writing each letter. A special mat is used with a smiley face on top to show where to begin the letter. (These can be purchased, but here the girls are each just using a piece of foamtastic with the smiley drawn on with a sharpie.)
Start at the top, big line down, back to the top, little curve, little curve (sometimes we say belly, belly).
As we form or trace the letters we repeat the directions verbally, adding more sensory cues. Eliza learns these directions and repeats them as she traces, so she is speaking, hearing, seeing, and feeling the proper letter formation. We repeat the directions as well as she transitions to writing on paper.
While we are not following the program exactly, I have the Kindergarten Teacher's Guide and I'm very pleased with it. It's a great resource containing a wealth of information about the approach, as well as lots of tips and creative ideas.
The program also advocates writing the letters in gray boxes in order to prevent letter reversals. For example, if you are making a 'B' and draw your starting line in the right place, you have to put the bumps on the right side to stay in the box. I did buy the kindergarten workbook, Letters and Numbers for Me, which is a wonderful workbook and very reasonably priced. However we haven't used it as the practice areas provided are way too small for the level of fine motor skills exhibited by my two current students. I made up my own box paper, as seen in these pictures.
I have made two sizes of box paper, the large has nine boxes on a page and the small has sixteen. I also made some that includes smiley faces for the starting point. Using a smiley face instead of just a starting dot insures that the paper is used right side up. The boxes with a smiley in the top left corner are used for letters like F, E, D, P, B and so on. As I explained, if the child positions the starting line correctly by starting at the smile on the top left, the remainder of the letter is naturally added on the right side to fill the box. I also made boxes with top center smiles for center starting letters like A, C, T, J etc. I am happy to share these papers, and I have them grouped according to size with three types (plain, top left and center start) of each size:
O God, who this day dost gladden us by the yearly feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: grant we beseech Thee, that we who on earth acknowledge the Mystery of Redemption wrought upon it, may be worthy to enjoy the rewards of that same Redemption in heaven. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
(from the Collect)
Christ became obedient for us unto death: even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath exalted Him, and hath given Him a name which is above every name. Alleluia, alleluia. Sweet the wood, sweet the nails, sweet the load that hangs on thee: thou only wast worthy to bear the King and Lord of heaven. Alleluia.
(from the Gradual)
In this morning's sermon the priest said Our Lord took a thing of horror and made it into a thing of love. On this day Mary Ellen graciously shares a bit of what it's like to partake of both the horror and the love. Do go read her beautiful words.
Friday proved to be quite a dreary, rainy day. We spotted the pigeon on our house when we got home in the morning after church, but then we didn't see it for quite some time. The girls went outside occasionally to see if it was around, but no success. Finally, in the early afternoon as I was reading to the little girls in the sunroom, I suddenly saw a flash of white. I stood up to get a better look out the windows and I announced, "The pigeon has just flown in!" And indeed it had, landing right in our back yard.
And then my brain was confused as I saw another brown head on a brown bird on top of the white one... and realization gradually dawned and I declared,
"A hawk has got the pigeon."
"A hawk has got the pigeon!"
Followed by a grievous, "Oooohhhhh..." And I was sickened at the thought that we were about to witness our friendly pigeon turn into a messy lunch...
And then suddenly something shifted just slightly but I saw movement and realization dawned again and I shouted,
"It's still alive!"
And then my poor befuddled brain made its final seemingly brilliant interpretive analysis and I yelled,
"We have to save the pigeon!"
And I went screaming out of the house with Lydia and Anna shrieking and running, arms waving, right behind me, "Save the pigeon!"
And the commotion successfully startled the Cooper's hawk into releasing its prey.
We watched incredulously as the beautiful white flapping took off immediately in its customary circular flight, and the brown flash went off in the opposite direction to the woods.
We saw the pigeon fly past a few houses and then it was out of sight, and we went running up the street after it in disbelief trying to no avail to follow it. All's we saw was a hawk flying around up the street, but no sign of the pigeon.
The girls went out on numerous occasions throughout the day, calling and looking for their pigeon friend. It was pouring heavily at times, but the rain didn't stop them. They searched and searched.
Moods were somber throughout the rest of the day as we saw no more of the pigeon. I speculated that perhaps the hawk attack 'spooked' the pigeon enough to make it want to fly back to its proper home. But we all knew that perhaps the hawk was only temporarily thwarted and had found and finished off his intended prey. Or perhaps the pigeon was wounded and hiding somewhere, where it would be end up as dinner for a wandering cat instead of lunch for a hawk. Time and time again my disappointed, soggy girls returned home without a clue.
We've started down the alphabet trail with these two little ones. With a tip of our bonnets to The Utterly Lovely Alphabet Path we are exploring a letter each week, focusing our handwriting, crafts, saints, stories and science on the letter of the week. Much of the wonderful resource that is Serendipity is currently beyond my three year old and special needs five year old, but much is also there to inspire and glean from.
Sorting objects according to their beginning sounds.
A is for apple.
Both little girls love to paint and are pleased with the simplest of projects, so the paints come out just about every day.
We are greatly enjoying An Alphabet of Catholic Saints, a little treasure of a book that has a picture and simple rhyme for every letter of the alphabet. It's just perfect for this age.
A is for ant.
The girls were delighted to make these egg carton ants, learning about the three parts and six legs of an insect along the way. They did have a little trouble with head, thorax and abdomen but Eliza gets creativity points for head, belly button and bottom, no? ;-)
After we made these giant ants we read McDuff Saves the Day, in which the entire picnic lunch gets devoured by ants. That gave me the idea to make these picnic pictures with foods cut out from catalogs-
After gluing on the paper parts, the girls added the parade of ants with black paint thumb prints, which they thought was grand.
Then they added the legs with a sharpie after the paint dried. (Singing The Ants Go Marchingwhile making these adds to the fun.)
They had a great time playing with the pictures and retelling the story with beanie dogs and more cut out picnic food as props, which is excellent beginning narration practice.
For B week we learned about butterflies and birds, using favoritepicture books. The girls are learning to identify the different birds, and we talked about feathers and beaks and nests and eggs and all the yucky things birds eat. Kateri said, "I don't eat worms, I eat regular food." Me too.
The other day I noticed a strange bird flying about from house to house. I mentioned it to Lydia and she of course had also noticed the large white-tailed bird hanging around. It looked like a pigeon.
We don't have pigeons in our neighborhood.
Over the course of the past few days the visiting pigeon has been seen flying around, drinking from the neighbor's bird bath, pecking here and there as it wanders on the ground poking in the mulch. It especially favors waddling in the gutters nibbling on whatever interesting tidbits one finds in the gutters, so the girls can't help but call it a guttersnipe. It's quite an attractive bird, as far as pigeons go, and it looks rather lovely as it takes off with white wings flashing in the sun.
flying right out of the picture
Then yesterday it landed on our deck and Lydia of course took its picture and noticed it had a band on its leg. So I went and looked up banded birds and what to do if you see one (what did people do before the internet?). The first thing I learned is that birds that are part of the federal banding programs in the US and Canada have metal bands with etched numbers. Pigeons by contrast have plastic covered bands, and they are the only bird with this type of band. The major pigeon organizations have information on their websites to tell you how to identify what club the bird originated with and what year it was hatched. We discovered our pigeon visitor lives about a hundred miles away and it is a young pigeon, hatched this year.
The guttersnipe! What are you looking at down there? Haven't you ever seen a handsome pigeon like me?
So we have been learning a lot about homing pigeons and racing pigeons while we follow this most interesting'rabbit trail' of pigeon knowledge that came to us. Pigeons eat primarily grains and seeds. They drink by sticking their beak in the water and sucking it up - they don't tip their heads back like other birds. They are able to fly hundreds of miles a day and can find their way home from thousands of miles away. They have been used extensively in wartime and have even won medals for bravery. Their ability to find their way home has intrigued scientists for eons, with some theories saying they use the earth's electromagnetic field and others showing they rely on a sense of smell. Many people keep flocks of pigeons as a hobby, training them to perform in races that test both their speed and homing abilities.
having a little peaceful rest in the flower bed
We have spent an extraordinary amount of time distracted from our regular work and following the pigeon around. The girls like to run outside to call and locate the pigeon after every subject (!), to make sure it is still around and doing well. We have been in touch with several pigeon fanciers by phone and via email to get help and information about our little visitor. It seems the birds can get tired out on a race and land for a rest, but if they like their surroundings they might get cozy and comfortable and just stay put. This seems quite possible as our bird appears healthy yet has been around for five days, and it is quite young. It was suggested that if we can catch the bird we should take it about five miles away and then release it, and it might take off and head right home.
pigeon portrait by Lydia
Or it might head straight back to our house. That seemed rather outlandish to me - this creature with a, um, bird brain, has to try and decide where it wants to live. :-) In the meantime I worry about the hawks and feral cats who might like something unusual to munch on. For now we are all greatly enjoying the science lesson that landed on the roof, and no doubt getting in some extra prayers to St. Francis as well.
Remember, O Christian soul, that thou hast this day, and every day of thy life: God to glorify - Jesus to imitate - The Angels and Saints to invoke - A soul to save - A body to mortify - Sins to expiate - Virtues to acquire - Hell to avoid - Heaven to gain - Eternity to prepare for - Time to profit by - Neighbors to edify - The world to despise - Devils to combat - Passions to subdue - Death perhaps to suffer - Judgment to undergo.
Thanks for stopping by! My name is Kimberlee. I am a Catholic homeschooling mother of seven children ages 9- adult. This is my place to share all these things I treasure, and ponder in my heart.
The Fig and Thimble
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Lydia's New Book
Quis Ut Deus Press
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