Sunday, September 25, 2016

Enjoy Celebrating an Angels Feast Day with Faith through Food and Fun

I just realized that I never shared here about all the fun we had last year celebrating the
Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael the Archangels and the
Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels.  So, I thought I would do so now in case anyone could use a little inspiration for living the liturgical year this coming week.

{Disclosure: Some links which follow are affiliate ones.  If you click through them and make any purchase, we may receive small income at no extra cost to you. Anything we make goes straight back into training happy hearts and sharing about it here with you.}
Prayer, Chat and Storytime

We opened our gathering with a Prayer to St. Michael and the Guardian Angel prayer.  Then, we chatted about what the children already knew about angels and what questions they might have. 

We also read excerpts from the Catholic Children's Treasure Box (a favorite series of books which includes sweet readings about angels, including the kids' favorite - Wupsy, a guardian angel), the Story Library of Saints (which is an out-of-print collection of saint stories that includes one on St. Michael) and the Picture Book of Saints (a classic which sells used for only a penny.)

(Because I was so busy leading this period of our gathering and the other moms were setting up elsewhere, I have no pictures of this portion of our festivities.)

Feast Time

After our introductory prayer, chat and storytime, we gathered at a feast table, which was set simply with statues of angels, a guardian angel candle, some white candles, a yellow candle (since orange and gold are traditional colors associated with St. Michael), and, of course - treats!

Among the treats were:

  • popcorn (because we were going to watch a movie, but also because the white reminds us of the heavens)
  • angel-shaped cookies
  • hot apple sauce in a crock pot (because Michaelmas falls around apple picking time and so apples became traditional at this time of year)
  • apple juice ( because cider is also traditional to this feast day in some areas)

Movie Time

After a prayer of thanksgiving for our food and our gathering, the children dug into the treats and we headed outside for a large-screen viewing of My Secret Friend: A Guardian Angel Story, a sweet little movie that elicited quite a few giggles from the kids.

Craft Time

When the movie ended, we went back inside and enjoyed craft time.

First, we made two-sided beaded bookmarks.

To make them, the children selected pictures of St. Michael and other angels that I had printed out along with the text boxes of the St. Michael Prayer and the Guardian Angel prayer printed in different fonts.  They cut these out and affixed them to both sides of a bookmark sized piece of cardstock, which they, then, decorated with markers.

Once the children were happy with their decorated bookmarks, we laminated them and, then punched holes at the top. 

Using ribbon and seven pony beads, we then strung beads "sacrifice bead style" so the children could pull a bead each day of the week they remembered to pray their angel prayers.

The children so enjoyed making these bookmarks, and, our family was happy to use them to pray and to decorate our St. Michael Name Day breakfast table.

Some of the children and moms made angel art, too.

For this art, we used mini canvases, wooden angel cut outs, glitter, paint, markers, coloring pencils, glue, etc.

The artwork came out beautifully!

In fact, the entire gathering was beautiful.  With faith, food, fun, and friends, we so enjoyed celebrating the angels.

More Ideas

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael the Archangels and the Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels celebration was such a fun, faith-filled time that I had hoped to make it an annual event.  But, alas, this year, it just cannot happen.  We have such a full family schedule this week, that we'll be celebrating the feast days in simpler quieter ways this year likely using ideas I gathered and shared for our Planning St. Michael’s Feast Day Tea: A Resource Round-Up, enjoying playing games with our St. Michael's Symbols 3-Part Cards (which you can grab for free!), and tossing the evil our of the heavens like St. Michael, as has become a tradition for our family.

Other Liturgical Year Fun This Week

If you'd like ideas for some of the other feast days coming up this week, please enjoy flashing back to these posts:
St. Jerome's Feast Day on September 30

St Theresa's Feast Day on October 1

One day, I will get around to sharing more about the fabulous St. Theresa day celebrations we enjoyed with friends for two years running, but now now.  It's back to weekly planning for me.

May you enjoy each of the special feast days and memorials that are coming up. 

I'd also love to hear how you celebrate.

Saints Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Jerome, and Theresa, pray for us.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ensure Your Children Use Email Safely

When I was offered a chance to review an Annual Subscription
to, I knew right away that taking the opportunity would give me a way to mentor my son in responsible email use.

My oldest is at an age when he wants to be online more and more and, also, when he wants to do much of what he is interested in by himself.  I, however, have lived too long and experienced too much to allow him 100% free reign at his impressionable age.   For while there some things in life that I am willing to let my children just go for when they when they want to as they want to, learning from whatever unfolds along the way, there are other things that I am more comfortable mentoring them in in order to make sure they can do them safely and well before giving them total independence.  Online communications is one of those things. Annual Subscription

In this day and age, of course, online prowess can be a positive thing.  Being able to research, communicate, and, sometimes just chill online can be a blessing.  However, it can also present trials and even danger.  Computers are tools which can be used for good or for bad.  My goal is to see them used only for good in my home. Ensuring my son learns how to use email smartly and safely, then, is important to me. A
Subscription to offers me an easy way to make that learning happen.

What is is a family-friendly email client that allows up to six children or teens in your family to have their own kids-safe email address which can be accessed on any device, free from ads and spam.  It also offers settings that allow parents to limit who can contact their child via email, choose whether or not links and images can be shared, and more  In fact, there are easy-to-use settings on the parent page, which include:

  • Mail Monitoring - Parents can choose to be copied on all incoming emails, outgoing emails, or both.  (While I am all for privacy in communication for children and adults, I did choose this option for now just so I can easily glance at what's happening in my son's communication.  I let him know I did and also let him know I will eventually turn this setting off.)

  • Time Restrictions- This feature allows parents to set a limit on the amount of time a child is allowed to spend on email. Parents can also set up "grounding" by shutting down access for a set amount of time.  (We have not used either of these features since we share a computer so I know when my son can be online.  I imagine I will use it if we get handheld devices or more computers, though, and think it is a worthwhile feature.)
  • Contact Manager - This feature allows parents an option to choose who can communicate with a child via email.  (This is one of my favorite features.  I  will more comfortably turn off the mail monitoring features over time with this option to approve or disallow specific contacts.)
  • Offensive Word Filter – With this feature, parents can select any words children are not allowed to use when sending a message.
  • GPS - This feature allows parents to track a child’s location when they are using the mobile application.  (My children have no mobile devices and I do not love GPS tracking, but I can see how the feature could offer safety.)

All settings can easily be modified with single click. Parents can also view activity logs for individual children and for the entire family.

Our ExperienceSetting up accounts for children at proved easy. I simply logged in and accessed a dashboard where I could set up my son's account and select which restrictions to place it.  I could also decide if I wanted the account to  have a child-friendly look and feel and an email address ending in or if I'd like my son to use a login page with a more grown up look and feel and and an address ending in Annual Subscription 

I don't like to rush growing up, so I chose the former, and, then, let my son have at his new email address. 

With me by my son's side, I showed him his log-in page, which he used within seconds.  Then, he chose his own background image.  His is not into princesses: Annual Subscription

Nor is he into monkeys: Annual Subscription

So, he chose this one:

After that, he got right to sending his first KidsEmail to Daddy using the simple  and easy-to-maneuver dashboard which consists of:
  • an inbox, which shows up as soon as a child logs in
  • an option to write an email
  • a folders option for organization of the inbox and sent emails
  • a contacts list
  • and settings options that allows a child to change the background image.

Once my son had sent an email to Daddy, he sent ones to me and to a few friends.  Then, I let him know that he is free to use his new email responsibly whenever he has online time.  I have his account set to allow me to receive copies of incoming emails and to approve  contacts that he can communicate through email with.  So long as things go smoothly, we can talk about changing setting later.

Of course, my son did not love the idea of Mommy being able to read his incoming mail and to utilize other settings to help ensure his safety online.  However, he understands that I simply want to keep watch over things while he is an email fledgling, and, in time, will happily let him fly with less oversight.
  I appreciate that our
Subscription to makes doing just that easy.  It is so easy for me to turn features on and off that I can be ultra-careful now, then, ease off, offering my son more free reign, then tighten controls a but more if need be, then back off again. 

It is also delightful to get random messages of love from my boy (however hard-on-the-eyes some of those messages might be as he plays with highlighting and whatnot):

Short notes of apology are sweet, too (and prove he needs spelling. typing help):

And, okay, I admit, a happy tear escape my eye when I noticed my son changed his background image the other day to this one:

Quiet testimonies to his love for God and desire to pray move me.  I never expected that trying out a kid-safe email client would also offer an opportunity to (visually) choose faith.

Our Thoughts

When I was siting down to write this review, I asked my son what he thought about his new KidsEmail.  He said:

I like that you can draw, but I wish there was an eraser.  I also like that you can choose different backgrounds.  I wish it had more caricatures (emoticons).  I wish there were more settings you could change, too, like how the letter looks, or a border, ... I want more things to play around with.  But, it's good, because Mom lets me use email more now . She says this is safe. Is it really safer than other emails?

Oh, that child!  As you can see, in true ten-year-old-boy form, he is all about the "I want more..." and thinks he will be okay without Mom "babying" him with "safe emails".  That said, he has been happily testing out all the fun features on his KidsEmail account and wanting more and more of them.  At least once a day lately, he grins and asks me if I've checked my email account for he has been enjoying his newly granted privilege of using email more and more. Annual Subscription

As for me, I find that is easy-peasy for both child and parent to use and is safer than other email options for for children and teens.  I am well pleased with our Subscription and encourage others with young email fledglings to give a try.

Learn More

Sixty Schoolhouse review Crew families let their children and teens try out
KidsEmail.orgRead their review by clicking through the banner below. Annual Subscription

Or, if you'd like to see how works yourself before committing to a paid subscription, try it for FREE. Annual Subscription

If you love it (and I think you just may!), you can then get a subscription for as little as $2.99 a month for an email or for $39.95 annually for up to six emails. Annual Subscription

You can also use the teen version, called "" so your teens won't have the word "kid" in their email, but so you can still maintain all the safety options on their account.

Get social with on:

Crew Disclaimer

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Enjoy Saint Padre Pio S.K.I.L.L. T.I.M.E. + (and a FREE Copywork Printable!)

This week, we are blessed to have a special relic of Saint Pio coming to our area just in time for Saint Padre Pio's feast day on September 23. Thus, the children and I have been adding some Padre Pio resources to our Together Time Bag and S.K.I.L.L. T.I.M.E. + studies.  Nothing too major or time-consuming -- just simple little bits of learning inspired by the life of Saint Padre Pio, which I hope will make our upcoming short pilgrimage to celebrate Mass and venerate the heart relic of St. Padre Pio more meaningful for my children.

{Disclosure:  Some of the links which follow are affiliate ones.  Should you click through them and make a purchase we may receive small income at no extra cost to you.  Anything we make goes straight back into training happy hearts and sharing about it here.}

Prayers and Books in Our Together Time Bag

For our Together Time Bag (a.k.a "Morning Basket"), I put a handful of Saint Padre Pio books on hold through our local library system, but they have yet to come in.  Thus, we have been reading and praying with portions of the My Saint Pio Prayer Book that I had in our faith studies stash.  We have also read the Padre Pio: Saint Pio of Pietrelcina story in Stories of the Saints (which sells used for under $2 and is a lovely collection of 12 saint stories) and Blessed Padre Pio in our Loyola Kids Book of Saints (a book we read often that sells used for under $1.00).

S.K.I.L.L. T.I.M.E. + with a Copywork FREEBIE

We've also been weaving Saint Padre Pio-inspired activities into our
S.K.I.L.L. T.I.M.E.+ sessions.  In fact, this week, we're bringing a bit of Saint Padre Pio to each of our S.K.I.L.L. T.I.M.E. + areas.

S - Spell and Write Words 

The children are all at different levels with their spelling, yet, sometimes we like to enjoy spelling challenges together.  So, we will use the words "
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina" for a favorite together time spelling activity, by writing the words on small white boards and, then, challenging ourselves to create twice as many words as we are years old from the letters on our boards.  We'll also see who can come up with the most original and longest words.

K - Keep Reading to Yourself

I was unable to find Padre Pio books at each of my children's reading levels, so, instead, I collected some books on the heart and blood, since we will be venerating Saint Pio's heart relic and have been discussing his stigmata

Some of these books the children are reading to themselves (or having me read to them, depending on their reading levels) are:

Squirt!: The Most Interesting Book You’ll Ever Read about Blood (Mysterious You) (which sells used for just a penny!)

My First Human Body Book
(which sells for as little as a penny.)

Uncover the Human Body
(which sells used for less than 50 cents.)

The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body (which sells used for a penny!)

I - Illustrate and Write

Although I found some free Padre Pio copywork online at Catholic Inspired, I could not find any with the Saint Pio quotes that I thought would speak most loudly to my children, so I created Padre Pio printing and cursive copywork sheets of my own, which I am sharing with you hereJust click on the image to access them.

When you do, you may notice that there are no lines between words on the sample quotes.  This is because one of my children has trouble remembering to put spaces between words.  The clear vusal breaks help her meet with greater success during copywork time.

L - Listen to Reading

I have already mentioned some of the Padre Pio, heart, and blood-related books that I have in our basket this week.  In addition, later in the week, after my children narrate what they already have already learned about Saint Padre Pio, I will have them watch this video clip from Catholic Online, which offers images to go along with a read script about Padre Pio's life:

I also hope the copy of
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: Rich in Love that I ordered from interlibrary loan comes in as I am so looking forward to reading it as our bedtime story soon!

L -Learn and Play with One Another Using Language Arts

My youngest is beginning First Reconciliation preparation, and as a part of that, we have just finished reading Jesus and I, which has a strong segment of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

Since my youngest is still learning about confession, and since Padre Pio spent long portions of his day hearing confessions, we will likely role play some confessions this week.

T - Think, Read and Write About Math

When reading about Padre Pio in
My Saint Pio Prayer Book and Stories of the Saints, we've done some simple mental and whiteboard math, such as:

  • If Francesco Forgione (Padre Pio) was born in May 1887 and began experiencing visions of Jesus, Mary, the angels, and devils at five years old, what year did his visions begin?
  • Francesco Forgione was ordained a priest in 1910.  How old was he then.  (He was born in 1887.)
  • Padre Pio began feeling severe pain in his hands and feet around 1910 and had visible stigmata from 1918.  About how many years was it between when he felt the pain and when his wounds became visible?
  • Padre Pio died in 1968.  How old was he?  (Remember, he was born in 1887.)
  • Padre Pio was declared a saint in 2002.  How many years passed between his death and his canonization?
  • How many years ago was he canonized?

I - Investigate and Problem Solve with Math

We have not gotten there yet this week, but I hope to tie some math investigations in with science ones about the heart, blood, and circulatory system.

M - Master Math Skills Together

Since Padre Pio suffered stigmata, we've been playing with the number five - tossing balls and counting by fives, plus using fives as addends, sums, minuends, subtrahends, differences, factors, etc. in oral math and written challenges.

E - Exercise Math Skills on My Own

Although all my children know basic addition and subtraction, and some of them know basic multiplication and division, I realized the other day that they do not know what "fact families" are, so I've had them drawing little houses on whiteboards and writing out fact families, such as the most basic 1 + 4 = 5, 4 + 1 = 5, 5 - 1 = 4, and 5 - 4 = 1 inside the houses.

When the children show me their fact families, I pepper our chat about their work with "math-speak" using words like "sum", "addends", "inverse", and "commutative". 

+ Extra Learning and Exploration
  • History, Drama, Cinematography, and More:  I ordered Padre Pio: Miracle Man and Padre Pio: Between Heaven and Earth from interlibrary loan.  I am hoping at least one of them comes in this week.  If not, we'll watch them another week.  Since we'll be starting drama classes again, soon, I will likely chat with the children about the acting choices in the films as well as the stories of Padre Pio they depict.  Since my son is currently taking a basic filmmakers class online, we will also chat cinematography, I bet.  Plus, of course, we'll compare and contrast information we find in the movies with that we have found elsewhere, discussing veracity of sources.

  • Geography:  Of course, we have already located where Saint Padre Pio was from on a map.
  • Science Field Trip:  Earlier this week, we made a brief field trip to the Museum of Science, where, among other exhibits, we searched out ones that had to do with the heart and circulatory system.
  • Arts and Crafts: We may also paint or color any one of the free Padre Pio coloring pages that I have found online at:

The Catholic Kid
 Waltzing Matilda
Catholic Kids Bulletin

  • P.E./Health:  In connection with the Padre Pio-inspired "heart" theme, we've been getting extra aerobic exercise for our heart muscle and also talking about heart-healthy eating choices.

And, there you have it:  me, excited about the opportunity to venerate St. Padre Pio's relic and to teach my children (and myself!) more about this relatively modern saint.
I so appreciate the example of saints like Padre Pio and the flexibility of our homeschool approach that allows me to focus extra time on learning to coincide with timely relic tours.   Moreover, I feel blessed to be introduced to more prayers that point towards God, the source of miracles, the
One worthy of praise and thanksgiving. 

Saint Padre Pio
directed people to recognize God in all things and to desire above all things to do the will of God.  He is quotes as saying, "Pray, hope and don’t worry".  These simple words are a timeless - and timely! - reminder.  Indeed, may we each continue to pray and hope without worry, trusting God's will to be done.

I'd love to hear about your favorite Saint Padre Pio resources, prayers, and ideas. Links to descriptions of your devotions, studies and celebrations are most welcome. 
Also, as always, I pray that the sharing I offer here blesses your life and learning.
Saint Padre Pio, pray for us.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Honoring Our Lady of Sorrows with a Poet-Tea and Art

Last week, I shared how I was planning to honor Our Lady of Sorrows through Art, Music, and Poetry with my children and some friends. 

This week, I am happy to report that our Our Lady of Sorrows AMP Club meet up went beautifullyIt was a time filled with prayer, learning, symbolic nibbles, and fine art.

{Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate ones.  Should you click through them and make any purchases, we may receive small income at no extra cost to you.  Anything we make goes back into training happy hearts in our home and sharing about it here.}

The Setting

As friends arrived, we gathered around a tea table covered in blue (Mary's color) and set with plates, mugs, and
printable prayer cards from the Fatima Network which each hid "Mary's tears" underneath (which were really YumEarth Sour Beans).

On the table, our tea time spread included:

  • strawberry hearts
  • gluten-free pretzel "swords" 
  • blueberries (again, Mary's color)
  • pink yogurt-covered pretzels
  • dried strawberry hearts

Nearby, on another table were:

  • a Mary vase filled with flowers
  • a prayer card with the pieta pictured on it
  • an  Our Lady of Sorrows peg doll that we had received in a recent swap 
  • some print outs of art depicting Mary's seven sorrows
  • and seven tea lights in front of laminated Seven Sorrows of Mary 3-Part Cards.

An Our Lady of Sorrows Poet-Tea with Music and Picture Study


We began our club time by praying grace together and chatting about what the children knew about Our Lady of SorrowsI also explained a bit about the devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows and the promises made to those who pray and meditate on Our Lady's seven sorrows.

Together,we prayed using the
printable prayer cards I had put at each place setting.  As soon as the children lifted them, they saw "Mary's tears" and wanted to nibble on them right away.  I asked that, instead, the children use restraint.  We prayed an Our Father, and, then, as I announced each of Mary's Seven Sorrows, the children prayed a Hail Mary while I lit a candle.   Then, as I held up the corresponding Seven Sorrows of Mary 3-Part Cards, the children licked a "tear or Mary" and as I read a Scripture quote from the card, they could chew the "tear".  The idea, as I explained, was that we could "taste" the sourness of Mary's sorrow here on earth, but remember the lasting sweetness to come with Jesus in Heaven.

At the conclusion of praying a Hail Mary for each of the Seven Sorrows of Mary, I explained that the Sorrows of Mary have inspired many poems and songs throughout the years, and, perhaps the most famous of these is the Stabat Mater (At the Cross Her Station Keeping)While the children dug into the tea spread, I read an English version of the Stabat Mater and, then, played an arrangement of the hymn by Vivaldi, a composer we had previously studied.

It was only once the children had almost finished eating that I remembered to take a group picture of them.

And, oh, boys will be boys and girls will be girls.  It was pretty obvious when I took this photo that the children needed some wiggle time, so  I sent them outside for a quick play break while I cleared the table and prepared for our game-like picture study by spreading out 
Seven Sorrows of Mary 3-Part Cards on the table.

Then, I called the children back in to
play Two-Finger Touch I Spy.

I started the game off by stating, "I spy an image of a sorrow that contains t
hree central figures.  Once a child touched the image I was describing, that child then took the card and offered a new "I Spy" clue.

When all the cards had been picked up, we took out a second set of cards and laid matching pairs face down so the children could play Memory with them.

I read the
Seven Sorrows Rhyme from Catholic Tradition and had the children name the sorrow each stanza was about.  We laid the picture cards for these sorrows back on the table, and, then,
I had all the children raise a pointed finger up.  On the count of seven, they were asked to quickly lay their pointed fingers on a card that no one else was touching.
After examining the cards they touched, the children were challenged to create a stanza of poetry that evoked emotion or offered details we could imagine to go along with their cards. 

We quickly reviewed:

  • what a stanza is
  • what poetic language is
  • examples of vigorous verbs, specific nouns, and telling adjectives and adverbs
  • the ideas of rhyming and free verse poetry
  • rhyme schemes
  • the words quatrain, rhyming couplet, haiku, etc.  

Then, the children worked on their own or with a partner to compose their own poetry.

Before everyone was done writing, some children got quite eager to share their work, and, when we finally did share, I was impressed with the poems the children authored!

Here are a few of their sample works:

Mixed Media Art for Our Lady's Sorrows

After the children shared their poems, we looked at the printed images of the Seven Sorrows on the smaller feast table, as well as at the artwork on our Seven Sorrows of Mary 3-Part Cards, these line drawings of the Seven Sorrows from the Florida Center for Peace, and some symbolic images in A Year with God: Celebrating the Liturgical Year.  Then, the children were challenged to create an artwork using at least two art media that related to Our Lady and her sorrows.  

Among the materials the children could use for their artwork were:

With more time, I might have out out glue, tissue paper, clay, etc. as well, but we were getting close to the end of club time, so I kept supplies simple.

The children were happy with what was out, and created art, which they shared with one another.

Here are a few more of their works:

Then, club concluded with the children's poetry and artwork, as well as laminated prayer cards, being put in their AMP binders.

I pray these ideas may help you to teach your children more about Our Lady of Sorrows during this month dedicated to her.  I also welcome links and ideas for other ways to learn about and honor Our Lady of Sorrows.


Related Posts with Thumbnails