Monday, November 28, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy 1st Sunday of Advent!!
As Catholics, we began our liturgical year on Sunday.  The kids are always excited to see the large Advent wreath at church.  This year I was fortunate to come across this page at the Holy Heroes website.  It is a candle making kit.  The kit is very reasonable in price, but I was a little disappointed in how tricky it was to roll the candles.  I definitely would not suggest it for kids under 6.  Those little ones can't quite control the pressure of their fingers yet.  The wax cracks very easily if not warmed by the heat of your hand. 
The kit included a great explanation of the symbolism behind the 4 candles and why there is a rose candle among the other violet ones. (The picture will enlarge if you click on it.)

Ok, sorry. This pic came out terrible because of the sun, but it was the only one I got before we started to roll them.  The left rectangle is the core.  You roll that section first.  Then the section with the slanted top (it is hard to see) is rolled onto the core.

Kui is pressing the wick into the core.
Then she started rolling it.  This took her about 10 minutes because she had to go slowly to ensure the wax did not crack.
Then she took her core and rolled it into the other section of wax.
After the last section was rolled, Kui tapered the top section.  She just warmed it with her hand and was able to form it into a tip.
Bubs chose to do the rose candle.

He struggled a bit more and then finally gave up at the end.  I finished it off.

T-man took a try, but cracked the wax instantly.  It's like a 7 month old trying to turn the pages in a regular book. He doesn't know his own strength!!


This is our Advent tree.  Well, actually, it is Kui's from a few years ago.  The teacher she used to have art lessons with encouraged her to make this origami box calendar.  OMG like 75 origami boxes later, we finally finished it.  Thankfully it is still usable!  It got a little crushed in the move to the new house, but overall, we can still use it.  The concept is that each day has a box with something in it.  I get the job of filling it up with different things every year (very tedious job!).  Some days have candy while others have tasks or readings from the Gospel.  We try to incorporate the Corporal works of mercy like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.

This is what the box looks like after she looks at it for the day.  There are different Christmas stickers on the back of each number.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Home from Kenya!

The kiddos are back from their long 5 week journey to Kenya with their dad.  As I mentioned in a previous post, we were expecting baby #5.  Well, she arrived early September and my husband took the other 4 children overseas.  They had a fantastic experience and can't wait to return.  Here are a few pictures from their trip.  
Bubs is feeding a giraffe at the Giraffe Center in Nairobi.

Kui actually fed the giraffe!!

Magnificent crescent crowned crane

Leopard lounging

T-man scoping out the banana trees on the property opposite of the family tea farm.

Kui gathering sticks for the fire to cook the family's dinner.  (Note: This is in what you would call "shags".  It is essentially the country.)  They stayed in Nairobi.  She did not gather firewood for every meal!!
Plenty of fun was had and the school teacher cracked the whip when they returned.  We have been at it for a week and a half and the transition has been better than anticipated.  The children took work with them while they were gone, but maybe only did a weeks work in five weeks. I have included a few pictures of what they have been doing since they have been back.
Kui has been working with a few different sets to cover the idea of circuits/electricity/magnetism.  This is the Snap Circuits Junior set.  It has over 100 projects that she can do on her own.  There is a larger set which contains over 300 projects.  She is just diving in, but is able to do it independently which is a huge bonus in my books (woo hoo)!  Kui was so excited to tell me what a closed and open circuit was and how she was able to get her fan to rotate.  I also have this electricity and magnetism kit on the shelf for her to use as well.  It includes about 15 projects.  She is required to write down her observations in her science journal as well and not just do the "fun stuff".  (For a later post, we are exploring the Magnetism dvd from Super Charged Science as well.  It has a great step by step outline for each project along with follow up questions for the student.) 

I presented cards and counters to Nito.  He really loved it and has taken it off the shelf again since then.  I pray he loves math more than his sister!

T-man worked on dish washing for about 30 minutes one day.  He was very focused.  So much so that he didn't even realize he was standing on the side of the basin while washing his dishes!

Bubs worked with his ending sounds train game.  I was clearly losing (my train is at the top of the work rug).

Then the idea and excitement of practical life (aka WATER) took over and he switched to table washing.

Little toot has found her place in the classroom.  The Moses basket is easy to transfer.  She sleeps through the noise thankfully!

Now it's Nito's turn to do dish washing.  It has worked out well in the place I moved it in the classroom.  While they were away, I painted the concrete floor section of the basement by the back door.  Now they will go over there (#mamagotallofthespiders).  I am also a little more laid back as far as water goes because it can wipe up much easier than on carpet.

Bubs working on the animal "Who Am I" cards.  He kept begging me to read the cards, but I was nursing and working with Kui.  I heard him sounding out the words and reading them by himself.  He was so proud when he got through an entire card and matched it to the picture. 

Boys doing the clapping charts.  These are various charts with a 4 beat measure.  There is a variety of different combinations of quarter notes, eighth notes, half notes, and whole notes.  There are a few more with advanced notes, but they haven't gotten there yet.  An example is in the picture above.  It has a half note, eighth, and quarter.  So they say the numbers as they count and hold the beat.  One two (clap)....hold for two counts, three (clap clap), four (clap).  They LOVE these and of course T-man loves to join in.  Bubs is really starting to understand these now.  This is his 2nd year of choir at church, plus we use Classic Tunes and Tales for his music lessons.  At church tonight, he was following along with the liturgy sheet as we sang.  He was reading the words and counting the beats! 


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Story of the Bible

OMG!!  A SOTW format regarding the Old and New Testaments of the Bible?!  I really didn't know what to do with myself when I came across these at the last homeschool conference I attended.  I was sold immediately, but I had to put on my poker face so that I could get a good deal for both sets!

We have been using these for about 5 weeks now and I am absolutely thrilled with the product.  (Please note that I am in no way affiliated with TAN books who produces Story of the Bible or Story of Civilization.  I am merely a very excited Catholic mom who has found a great resource.)

See my post on the Story of Civilization for the history curriculum we use. 
We got the Old and New Testament sets and this is the video lecture series for the New Testament.

Dramatized audio book

Here is a sample map from the chapter on Abraham. 
The children enjoyed coloring this page from the Activity book on Joseph's dream.  The children color while they are listening to the audio book.  This helps the children internalize.  (There is a formal Montessori quote from one of her books on this topic, but I couldn't find it.  So.....I gave up.)

Sample crossword puzzle from the chapter on Joseph. 

The kids had a good time make the craft for Noah's ark.  They colored and cutout the shapes here and in the picture below.

My previous post on Story of Civilization has a few more details of the sets.  Be sure to check it out!

Story of Civilization

Yay!  The Catholic version of Story of the World!  For those of you who have read my previous post on Story of the World, you might be confused by my sudden excitement with another History Curriculum that is essentially the same thing.  Well, if you are Catholic, like us, this is a very huge deal.  We were about to dive into Volume II of SOTW (Story of the World), but were warned of how that might affect the way you have to teach those years of history.  Short story, it's not very Catholic and we don't want to spend the majority of our time explaining to our kids the differences and defending our faith when we shouldn't have to.  Let's wait for the kiddos to get a little bit older for all of those good times to start rolling through!

We have been using this for about 5 weeks now and I am pleasantly surprised with how similar it is to SOTW and how the kids have really taken to it.  Kui especially loves the chapter video summaries because at the end, there are quizzes, image reveals, word searches, etc. that she likes to figure out.

The set that we purchased is for Volume I and includes the following:
  • Paperback book
  • Teacher's Manual
  • Activity Book
  • Test Book
  • Dramatized audio book with over 7 hrs. of listening
  • Video Lecture Series on each chapter
  • Laminated Timeline

This is the timeline which provides a great visual resource for the kids.  Sorry, the timeline is big and was hard to fit the entire thing in the picture.

Here is a sample of what you will get in the Activity book.  It provides different maps, crafts, crossword puzzles, etc. that correspond to the different chapters.  This is from the chapter about the Trojan Horse.  The child can color this and then follow the instructions and make an actual Trojan horse with the cutouts from the two pictures below.

This is a sample of one of the maps so that the children can learn a little geography and know what part of the world each event happened.  The Teacher's manual gives you guidance on how to navigate the map.  The child may have to find a specific river and trace it in blue or find a certain city and circle it in red. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Great Lesson #1 - God with No Hands

God with No Hands
I was very excited to present our first Great Lesson in our Montessori Elementary Curriculum for this year.  It was extra special because Bubs joined us this year.  (See my post here on an explanation of the Five Great Lessons used in the elementary classroom.)
The first lesson begins by telling the story of how God created the Earth.  The kids are always fascinated by the name of the lesson: "God with No Hands".  The story goes on to explain how God with no hands or feet could have created the universe and all that is in it.  In the end, the children discover that everything obeys God and he has made a plan for each and every particle that he created.  There are 4 charts that go along with this lesson and 6 demonstrations.  (Please note that all of these charts were drawn by hand and I have absolutely no artistic skills whatsoever.  I apologize if they do not resemble the original AMI charts exactly!)
Chart 1: Earth Compared to the Sun 
Chart 2: The Dance of the Elements
 Chart 3: Volcanoes and Clouds
Chart 4: Volcanoes and Water


Demonstration 1: 3 States of Matter: solid, liquid, gas
Each glass is placed in front of the child, starting with the ice, and each state of matter is discussed.
Demonstration 2: Forces of Attraction
Hole punches are slowly dropped into the water, working first from the outside, then slowly toward the middle, ending when they start to come together.
Demonstration 3: Model of a Liquid
I did not have any bebes or iron shot for this so we skipped it.  Hopefully I will get these materials soon and add them to the shelf.  In this demonstration, I would tip the jar of bebes from side to side to show them rolling over one another.
Demonstration 4: State of Matter and Heat
I didn't want to burn the house down so I skipped this one as well!  I talked to the children when a candle is lit, the wax turns from a solid to a liquid.  It does this when the wax is heated.  They understood so we moved on.  I chose not to melt wax, iron, and bebes over the stovetop to test out the smoke detectors, fire extinguisher, and how fast the fire engine can make it to our new house!  Maybe when daddy is around, they can try this command card.  Heating the different elements is supposed to demonstrate changes to the solid or a lack thereof.

Demonstration 5:  Liquids Settle According to their Weight

I'm not sure if you can see in the picture, but the middle test tube has water, then we added honey, then oil.  The honey sank to the bottom, water in the middle, and oil at the top.  The kids really liked this one. 

 Demonstration 6: The Volcano
In this demonstration, you are supposed to light the candle and ignite the chemicals for the volcano to erupt.  Ok, I am 9 months pregnant and I am not trying to get any crazy chemical burn or yet again have to call for the fire department, so we opted for vinegar and baking soda for the eruption.  I do have the "scary" chemicals to make this happen with all of the bells and whistles, but I feel it will have to wait until later.  There are a few pictures to follow of the children adding the ingredients and the volcano erupting.

 Adding the baking soda.

 Adding the vinegar.  We added red dye.

 The anticipated ERUPTION!!
In the lesson, the children are told how a thin scum was formed and all of the elements underneath are still hot.  They felt trapped and wanted to get out.  (What else would they do?  They followed God's command of: "If you are hot, you expand."  There was no place to expand, so they burst out.  They broke the skin and there was a terrible fight.

We followed up this lesson with some really cool books on volcanoes, three-part cards for the parts of the volcano, and a worksheet to label the parts. 

Follow this link to see how we made our volcano.