Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Finishing History.

History has been a whirlwind! We have sped through some units this year and focused more on others. We are using History Odyssey and we really enjoy it!! Their recommended texts are great and it's step by step lesson plans (which I love). Leave what you want and add if you need it.

This week I finally decided to wrap history up. We learned about the middle ages and I feel that we are good to go! Perhaps I didn't focus as much as I would have wanted, but the good thing about a classical education is that we'll come again to this!

For the time being, I have one more thing that I want to finish before really wrapping things up. A study of the Native Americans. We'll be using History Pockets for that and the kids jumped up when they saw me take out the book! Tonight I'll spend some time making copies and I'll organize the unit through the weekend. Then next week, we'll get started!!

My kids LOVE History Pockets, by the way. We've been doing them since preschool and it's right up my kids' alley! I was excited when I saw that History Odyssey included them as part of their curriculum.

For now, I'm off to load up our copy machine with paper!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

American Girl Club. Josefina.

This spring, we became part of an American Girl Club with many of our co-op (and non-co-op) friends. It was a fun and perfect activity for Isabella, who is a giant American Girl fan. The club consisted of choosing a historical AG doll and reading her books (there are 6 in each series). We would then rotate hosting the AG club at our homes. The hostess would have a craft, game, snack, or other activity to go along with the book that was read for the week.

Our first AG doll that we picked was Josefina. It was a great time and I collected what we did each week in case anyone out there wants to start their own American Girl club!! Ideas were collected from the AG books, from
Jamin's blog, and from our own brainstorming.

Week 1
Meet Josefina, Book 1
Made rebozos, flour tortillas, and salsa. Watched Fandango dancing on YouTube and discussed parts of the book, Welcome to Josefina's World - 1824.

Week 2
Josefina Learns a Lesson, Book 2
Made waist pouches, learned weaving with a cardboard loom, played a matching game, and ate goat cheese, chips, and grapes for a snack.

Week 3
Josefina's Surprise (A Christmas Story), Book 3
Made tissue paper flower garlands (ramilletes), bookmarks with quotes from the book, and went around the neighborhood for a pretend posada. Mexian hot chocolate, oranges, and Mexican cookies were served as a snack. Mantillas were shown and read a Mexican cinderella story by Tomie dePaola.

Week 4
Happy Birthday Josefina, Book 4
The craft for this meeting was planting seeds and the girls brought things to barter. A game of "find the button" was played and Mexican cookies with herb tea was the snack.

Week 5
Josefina Saves the Day, Book 5
The girls made a memory box and a journal book. What Can You do with a Rebozo? was read and the books were discussed. Snack was Mexican hot chocolate made by the girls and pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread).

Week 6
Changes for Josefina, Book 6
The activities for this meeting were making a 3-d map of the Santa Fe Trail, making handprint flowers, making necklaces (for girls and dolls), and making straw brooms. The girls also made bread and ate watermelon and cupcakes for a snack. House keeping was discussed and the straw brooms were used. There was also a discussion of the Santa Fe Trail.

End of Josefina Series Celebration.
We all met at a Mexican restaurant for lunch. The girls each got a picture to take home.

Next week we will start a new series of AG Club meetings. We will be reading all about Samantha. I will make sure to have my camera handy each week to take plenty of pictures so that I can post all about them.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Brainstorming for First Day of School.

If you caught my first day of school post last year, you probably know that I started giving my kids schultutes as a celebration of the new school year. This year, we'll continue with the tradition and I've started racking my brain as to what theme each cone will have and what will be inside of each one.

Since I'll be adding one more child to our school (Christian is doing nursery level work through Angelicum), I have to plan 4 different schultutes! Images are plenty on the internet, so I can get some ideas there. But I like to personalize them with what each child really likes. I have some ideas, but I really have to narrow them down.

As for what will be inside...that shouldn't be so hard to fill them up! I'm planning on some school supplies, candies, and a small toy (much like last year).

In the mean time, I also have to decide when our first day of school is going to be. From the looks of things, I'm thinking that we'll have our celebration sometime around the beginning of August.

Never seen a schultute? Here is a picture of some super cute ones that I found.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fun Gift.

Last week, a good friend came over with a surprise. It was a hand-made, heirloom rocking horse!! And although it was a belated baby gift, the kids are all enjoying it immensely!

It's beautiful!!! Thanks Carol and Tom!!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Some Organizational and Planning Thoughts.

For many homeschoolers, this is the time of year where we pour over new curricula and start planning our new years. It's the highlight of the year!! For us, this year is especially exciting (in planning terms). Not only do we get to plan our new daily schedule, but we get to do it in a new house! That means that a lot of our chores and habits have to be re-evaluated.

If you haven't read my previous post on how to set up a schedule, I highly recommend it! Click to read Homeschooling Scheduling Tips. A "How To" Guide. I might not be a planning expert...but I know what works for me as a homeschool mom of 5 young kids.

Because we have so much more house to clean and more kids doing school this year...revamping our schedule is a big "to do" item. I have a bare bones schedule that I've been tinkering with for the past month. I still use MOTH and Managers of Their Chores to help us out and they work!

As for using a planning book...I'm considering trying to decide between using my own again this year or getting the planner from Family Centered Press. The children will be getting their own planners to encourage responsibility and accountability. After looking through many student planners, I chose these from Pflaum (I got the primary version for the kids).

So planning and organizing my thoughts is the next phase of my homeschool life. We still do daily lessons with some fun thrown in the mix, so this keeps me busy all day long. As I get closer to finishing our plans, I'll make sure to let you know how it's going!! For the time being, here is a sneak peek at our daily schedule that we have posted on our board. Not the clearest picture, but we are in a work in progress anyways.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Look.

Well, today I decided to change my blog up a bit. Try something new. Hope everyone likes the new template!! I'm still working on my heading...but I like it!

Also, I hope everyone got an opportunity to make some Father's Day cards and crafts!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Getting Ready for Father's Day With Crafts!

I haven't posted any "how to's" in a while. So I figured that since Father's Day is right around the corner, I could post about what my kids are doing for their dad!

Isabella settled on a doctor bag card! It seemed fitting, since DH is a doctor, and it's very easy to do. On the inside she put her "Happy Father's Day" message.

Marco wanted to do something different, so we searched until we found this fun, spinning card from Martha Stewart. It's super cute and not to hard to do. He also added some paper cups in which he stuffed with tissue paper and some candy. Tutorial for that is on this post.

Anthony wanted something totally different from the other kids. It was hard to come up with something because he didn't want a printable to color in. Finally we found this cool measuring tape card from Family Fun (in their current issue). I had to help him along the way, but he is very proud of how it turned out!!

Lastly, I wanted to give my husband something I knew he would treasure. In our home, he is the story teller. He loves telling the kids stories, and he is so good at it too! There is one story in particular that the kids love to hear, all about a special rock. So I got the grand idea of altering his story to send a father's day message to him.

I started out making a bound book (see below). Then I printed out the story lines and cut them with decorative scissors. Each of the kids illustrated a page and it was then all glued into the book.

The back of the book has the father's day message. I thought it turned out really cute and I love the fact that all the kids worked on it together!

To Make the Book: you need paper, scissors, and a ruler.

1. You take two sheets of paper and fold them in half.

2. Measure 1 inch from each side of the folds and mark with a pencil.

3. On one of the sheets, cut up from the bottom to your mark from both sides.

4. On the other sheet, you want to cut a sliver out between both of your pencil marks.

5. Go back to the first sheet you cut from the bottoms and fold it lengthwise. Slide it through the 2nd sheet's sliver opening and open it up. Fold the pages and you have a book!

If my directions for this are might want to check out the Big Book of Books and Activities by Dinah Zike.

If you are still searching for more ideas, check out these links!
  • Catholic Icing (we'll be doing something for our priests this year as well, thanks to the great idea from Lacy!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Sale at Angelicum Academy.

Just a quick post to let everyone know that Angelicum Academy is having their summer sale now until July 6th. Everything in the bookstore, including enrollment and online classes, is 10% off.

Also, remember that they offer family discounts. That discount is significant at 50% off the second child or beyond that you enroll.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

School Room All Done!!

It's Tuesday, and due to some technical difficulties, I was unable to blog about my school room progress yesterday. But I'm glad to report that I stuck to my schedule this weekend and finally accomplished my goal! Our school room is completely unpacked, organized and clean!!

It's amazing how much stuff you accumulate as a homeschooler! From paper clips and art supplies, to books and more books!!! I'm posting pictures of our awesome room. I really do love it and it was one of the rooms of our new house that I was excited to complete.

What you won't see in the pictures below is our huge bonus room that is attached to the school room. It is currently unfinished, but I have put our utility shelves there to hold bins of arts & craft supplies. Also not included in the picture is a closet located by my desk. I store all our craft paper, preschool bins, manipulatives, school supplies, and miscellaneous items there.

Overall, I love our school room! A big plus of our new house is that it has LOTS of living room space (3 living rooms, 1 den, and a keeping room), so I was able to dedicate one of those rooms to our daily school without giving up space for other things (if you remember, in our previous home we used our dining room as our school room).

I love the open feel of the room!

Our lawyer's bookcases still hold our curricula as well as maps, charts, and other educational materials in the bottom, pull-out drawers. These kinds of bookcases are great when you have little kids because they can't get to the books.

Opposite our bookcases is a matching curio cabinet that I used to keep in our living room at our old house to hold figurines and china. Now I use it to hold our daily supplies in pretty jars and baskets (pencils, colored pencils, etc.)

Our bulletin board holds our daily schedule (we use MOTH), calendar, counting straws, and whatever we want to display on a particular day. My rolling cart bin has been re-labeled. Each child has their own drawer to hold math, language arts, and other subjects for work completed or work to be completed. The bottom of the cabinet is used for storing binders, computer paper, and language arts manipulatives. I kept our wooden shelves (from A.C. Moore) for teacher's manuals, BFIAR books, writing paper, and homeschool resources. On top of one of the shelves I have our letter writing box (contains addresses, stamps, envelopes, and paper), our notebooking box (for the kids to use when they need to embellish their notebook pages), and our art box (contains drawing paper and supplies).

I really do prefer that my desk and computer are not technically, in the school room. It keeps me from getting distracted. Oh...please ignore the messy cords...I didn't quite get to getting those under control!!

Upon closer look, you'll see that I have another wooden shelf by our bookcase. I keep our music player on this with CD's nearby. It also holds picture and reading books. Our dry erase board hangs between the bookcases too. The maps are on a rolling, flip board. This is great because I can change them out as I need. When I use the dry erase board, I just roll the flip board out of the way. The door on the side leads to our bonus room where I keep more supplies. I hang the kids' reading progress charts on the door as well.

Most of all, I love the windows and all the wonderful light they let in!!

Hope you enjoyed the "tour"!!!

Just a quick note if you are wondering if these are the only places we put our books in. Our school room holds only the books we use for school. Luckily, each child's bedroom has built-in bookshelves that hold more books. There are also built-in bookcases in our keeping room, which we have recently been calling our reading room. The master bedroom also has large built-in bookcases where DH and I keep our own books. In the lower living room, I also put some bookshelves to hold even more books. If we kept all our books in the school area, I don't think we'd have enough wall space to hold them all!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'll Be Back!

I've locked myself in and will be diligently working hard on our school room this weekend!! I have all kinds of Catholic homeschool talks on CD playing in the background, so it's my personal conference.

I'll be back in a couple of days!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Getting Organized for Liturgical Seasons.

This time of year is all about planning and organizing! With a new house, you can bet that all my planning and organizing is ten fold! Besides trying to decide where the bookshelves should go and where the baking dishes would be better stored; there is the excitement of putting books in order, hanging our calendars, planning curricula, and organizing for the liturgical year.

I will tell you that my goal of having a finished school room is still yet not a reality. There are still books and supplies to put away and I have come to the conclusion that it will be a work in progress for the next few weeks. But I can live with that! Better to go nice and slow and get things right, than to hurry up only to want to rearrange things again.

Anyways...back to my planning and organizing. Organizing the liturgical seasons is a fun way to spend a day (well, at least in my book it is!). I recently unpacked a box and found my liturgical year file box. I've cleaned it out and have realized that I'm missing out on some great print-outs, books, and crafts. I'm planning on getting all my resources together and keeping my file box handy!

If you have never had a system for organizing our wonderful Catholic year, I suggest you read my post, "Organizing the Liturgical Year." You will find some great ideas, a list of materials needed, and step by step instructions on how to make your own file box (I have a picture too!).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Beware of homeschool conferences and conventions!! Their book fairs are so amazingly full of wonderful materials, that you will be tempted to try everything!! This year has been no exception in me getting overwhelmed with cool, new things. Some I know I can't do, but still think are awesome (My Father's World)...others, I will be incorporating into our school year (see below).

Our schedules are already hectic enough with 5 children and 3 of them doing school. Adding more than I have to is not the best idea all the time, but sometimes you just got to give it a shot! Here are some things I couldn't pass up and how I'll be incorporating them into our homeschool year.

Mind Benders by Critical Thinking Co.

Use during quiet time and free time. A great way to get your kids ready for logic. These are fun and age appropriate.

Wordly Wise 3000

Use during language arts instruction. An updated Wordly Wise is a great way to expand your child’s vocabulary skills.

Owl Pellets

One time use. We are planning a summer unit with friends. Each child gets an owl pellet to dissect.

My Father’s World Toddler and Preschool Kit

During school time. Mostly Lauri puzzles that are great for entertaining little ones while I do school with the older kids.

History Through the Ages Timeline Book and Figures from Homeschool in the Woods

Along with history. We’ve had the timeline figures CD since last year, but never used it. This year I got the timeline book and think that it will complement our studies nicely!

So any new, fun extras you've found this year? I'd love to hear about them!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Curricula Chosen. Angelicum Academy Wins!

I've finally committed! My research is done, my plans are set. We are enrolling with Angelicum Academy this year again!! I know you probably already knew this; however, I'm tweaking the system to make it work for us. The great thing about Angelicum is that they are flexible and I can borrow from not only different grade levels (as you'll notice I'm doing for Isabella), but also from outside sources. There really is no "one size fits all" curricula out there, which is why homeschooling is such a wonderful thing!

I'm sure if you've looked at what we've done in the past, you'll notice that we are not straying far from the path. My biggest failure this past year was spelling. Spelling Workout was a huge bust and Click n Spell was fun, but not producing results. After much research, I'm giving All About Spelling a go and I'll be combining Marco & Isabella together. I'm excited about using a multisensory approach, which is what I think will produce a better speller for me.

History was my biggest conundrum. Should I continue with History Odyssey or go with Angelicum's history cycle? After much thought, prayer, and back-and-forth emails with Angelicum...I decided to stay with what was working. History Odyssey (HO) is great to use with several kids and all the planning is done for me. My plans are to finish the level 1 cycle with HO and then switch over to Angelicum's cycle. But I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Language arts has been going well for us this past year too, so switching over just didn't make sense to me. Rod & Staff is a super solid grammar program that we enjoyed and I plan on keeping up with it. Writing With Ease has also been producing great results, but I am planning on doing Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) with Marco mid-year, perhaps sooner.

As for religion, we have the most fun with it! I believe that Faith & Life is a great program and combining them with Angelicum's recommended saint books has been a big success. This year Marco made his own saint book and I'm planning on having him continue with another one for this year as well as starting Isabella with one of her own (she is looking forward to it already!). Add some Catholic lapbooks on top of that, and we are set!!

I'm happy that I won't have to worry about making my lesson plans, keeping grades, or even grading some of the kids' writing. Interested in Angelicum? Check them out at You can also join the Angelicum Yahoo Group (the button is on the left bar).

Marco 3rd Grade


Faith & Life 3, Baltimore Catechism, Saint Stories, Catholic Lapbooks


Saxon 54


History Odyssey Level 1 Early Modern Times


Good Books from Angelicum


Hooked on Phonics Master Reader


Rod & Staff English 3


Writing With Ease 3, IEW


All About Spelling


Zaner Bloser Cursive 3rd Grade


Piano, Stories of the Great Composers


Misc. Art Materials/Handbook of Nature Study

Unit Studies

50 States Geography, Animals, anything fun!


Apologia Astronomy with co-op


Map Essentials 3

Isabella 1st Grade


Faith & Life 2, Baltimore Catechism, Saint Stories, Catholic Lapbooks


Saxon 2


History Odyssey Level 1 Early Modern Times


Good Books from Angelicum


Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read 2nd Grade


Rod & Staff English 2


Writing With Ease 2


All About Spelling


Zaner Bloser 1st Grade


Stories of the Great Composers


Misc. Art Materials/Handbook of Nature Study

Unit Studies

50 States Geography, Animals, anything fun!


Apologia Astronomy with co-op


Map Essentials 2

Anthony Kindergarten


Who Am I?, Saint Stories, Catholic Lapbooks


Saxon 1


Dinosaurs, History Pockets Ancient Civilizations


Good Books from Angelicum


Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Kindergarten


Spelling Connections K


Zaner Bloser Kindergarten


Misc. Art Materials/Handbook of Nature Study

Unit Studies

Anything fun!


Dinosaur Study with co-op

Christian Nursery


Who Am I?


The Shoemaker and the Elves Numbers 1-10, Number flashcards


Good Books from Angelicum

Language Arts

Alphabet Flash Cards, A Apple Pie by Kate Greenaway, Snow White and Town Mouse pre-writing workbooks


Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, and Pinocchio workbooks

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Get Your Little Children to Mass.

This image is from "My Jesus and I" from Our Mission House Publications.

This book has such lovely images that both my children and I love. I was reminded of this particular picture this morning as I was dressing my 2 year old and I was telling him that Mary wants us to get ready to visit with Jesus. I immediately took the book out and showed him!

Little children have such a natural love of Jesus and Mary that we have to continue to nurture and instill that love in them.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In the Wee Hours... it's not the wee hours of the morning. But 10:30pm in my house seems pretty late! Just so you know that I'm working hard at getting ALL our books unpacked and our school room fully functional. Deadline? Monday. I'm tired of seeing boxes.

With Mass in the morning and other household duties taking up my Sunday morning, I'm hoping to get as much accomplished as I can by midnight tonight. When the clock strikes twelve, I turn into a pumpkin!!

In the mean time....please enjoy this picture!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is God Talking to You?

Sometimes I seriously wonder how He does it. How does He, right in the middle of Mass, find a way to talk to me?? With everything going on (the praying, the singing, the reading, the learning), He takes the time to talk with little, old, insignificant me. Not that this happens every Sunday...or maybe it does, but I choose not to listen. But it happens enough that I wonder what I ever did deserve to hear Him speak to my heart.

I don't know if you know what I'm talking about. But attending Mass is a powerful thing (well, of course you all know that!)! And last Sunday, the heavens parted for me and I was like "Duh!" Of course He can talk to me! He talks to all those who are willing to open their hearts! What's funny to me, is that He always says what I need to hear at that moment. Whether I hear it being read from the Bible, or if it's coming through the homily. It's like a big slap in the face (in a good way!)...WHAM!! "Here ya go, Liz! You got questions...I got answers!"

I started getting suspicious when 2-3 times out of the month, it felt like Mass had been rearranged and said specifically for me, my worries, my thoughts, my questions. Seriously. It was too much to go unnoticed. I'm a cry-baby to start with and I tend to get emotional at Mass to begin with...this made it all the more reason for me to bawl like a baby. But this is crying in a good way. "THANK YOU!" How can you ever say that enough to Him?

I'm not usually all about my feelings and emotions on this blog. But I have to get the word out.

LISTEN!!! He is talking to all of us!!! We just need to listen. And perhaps I should take my own advice, for I know that I don't need to wait until Sunday Mass to strike up a conversation with Him. He's available 24/7. My thing is that sometimes...I just go off and talk, talk, talk. Perhaps on Sunday's He's like, "OK...I've listened to you all week long. Now it's my turn and here's what I have to say."

I'm in constant awe.

Cheers to Being Back!

It's been quite some time since I updated this little part of the blogosphere.  New adventures, new trials, and new seasons in life.  I&...