Sunday, November 29, 2015

Poem of the Week: Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf's fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud's folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

Rowan Williams (The Poems of Rowan Williams, Perpetua Press 2002) 
HT: ReSource Poetry

Saturday, November 28, 2015

3rd Grade Religious Ed: Class 9: Advent Set Up, Manger Craft

 Last week was Christ the King, so we spent some time talking about Christ's Kingship, and his kingdom in our hearts.  We also talked about how we treated kings and why.

I had made color photocopies of our Creed Project so that each of the kids could have an illustrated "book" of the Creed.

We went through the whole book with each kid explaining their drawings and their part of the Creed.  It was a good way to highlight both what we believe and why what we believe matters (it dictates our actions).

We also gave a copy to our pastor who had dropped by to bless our Bambinos!  More on that later.

Since Sunday starts Advent and our new liturgical year, we looked at the liturgical Calendar, and went through what the cycles were (A, B, and C - this year starts C, when we'll be hearing Luke's gospel).  I like this year's calendar from LTP, and I got a laminated copy so my own kids at home can move a bit of sculpey around it to mark the days.

Back to Advent: it's a preparation for Christmas, which is Jesus' birthday (some kids do not know this).  So, if it's Jesus's birthday, why do we get presents?

St Mother Teresa gives us the Gospel on Five Fingers: Jesus tells us that whatever you do to anyone, You Did It To Me. 

So, when we get presents or others, we're giving them to Jesus.

I then gave them a present: Advent calendars!

But this is a special Christmas for these kids: this is the first Christmas where they will get to receive Jesus in the Eucharist!  Advent is for getting your heart ready!

One way to see your heart getting ready is to have a little manger, and to put in a bit of hay every time you do something (a prayer or good deed)to get your heart ready.  So we did this super easy manger craft

It's half a sheet of construction paper with angled slits on the corners.  You fold up the sides and staple them.  Each kid also got a bag of timothy hay (from the pet store, stuffed into baggies by Klenda!), and a lovely little (blessed!) statue of Baby Jesus to go in the manger Christmas morning.
I explained this to the parents, too, so they could hold onto the statue until Christmas.

Then we talked about the upcoming Year of Mercy (the book lesson was about God being Just and Merciful!). The kids acted out the parable of the Lost Sheep (with Wooly, our stuffed sheep), and then our game was "Find Wooly." It was pretty much as it sounds: I hid Wooly in the classroom and they looked for him!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: Advent Ready?

Well, ready might be overstating it, but at least we dragged all the Advent and Christmas stuff out of the basement and into the guest room!

We do six things each day in Advent (because we have six kids), and the kids rotate through who does what.

1. One thing is to choose a Christmas decoration to put up, hence all the stuff on the bed!

2. The second is to unwrap a Christmas book which we then read.  This year I came to grips with the fact that there will never be 52 days in Advent, so I could let go of a few of the less favorite books.

3. The third is the Jesse Tree.  We usually use this little tree to hang our ornaments (they're in the bag), but we are talking about drawing each symbol this year. Haven't figured it out yet!

4. The fourth is lighting/blowing out the Advent candles.  We use these glass protected candles which has saved us from ever burning any houses or children, even when we had wee ones blowing out the candles.

We'll make the wreath on the first Sunday of Advent (we set the candles in a pie plate and surround it with evergreen bits from the yard).

It looks very pretty, even if Choclo thought it was the Advent Nest for the first few years of his life!

5. The fifth is the Advent House!  It has a piece of the (Playmobil) nativity scene and 6 pieces of candy behind each door.

6. And the sixth is the paper calendar.  I love this one because opening the windows around the edge leaves the center picture intact.

7. Besides the individual stuff, we always have an empty manger to which we add hay.

 We try to do good deeds, make small sacrifices, or spend extra time praying to prepare our hearts for Christmas.

Each time, we put a little hay in the manger to make Baby Jesus' bed (and our hearts) a little softer when He comes.

 We have a very beautiful statue that we put in the manger at Christmas and it is always the first thing the kids look for on Christmas morning.

8. Bonus! Since this will be the Year of Mercy, we will be learning about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, and seeing how many of them we can do this Advent!

Also: In organizing the Christmas stuff in the spare room, I started wondering if I would have enough room on the floor for present wrapping.

My solution was to put the outdoor stuff in the little guest bathroom.
It wasn't until I had done it that I realized...

Baby shower!

Happy almost Advent!  More fun with Kelly!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

We're thankful for you, our readers.  God bless you, and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: Trip to NJ

Making a rubber band plane with Pa

Whipped cream with Mumpy

Painting banana dolphins

Great White model

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Because You Can't Get Enough!

Mxyl needed to construct a website for a class, and he decided to make a companion site to this blog.  It's always interesting to see your kid's view of their home schooling adventure!

He accidentally made it more spectacular than the blog, but that's OK, it's also very funny, so give it a look.

The Zoom Times

I've posted a permanent link in the top left sidebar.   In fact, I switched around the Zoomlian blogroll to include all their websites, so you can easily access all the Zoomlian fun!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Awesome History: Julius Caeser

 Our art project was dressing up as Romans.  I have to admit, this was super easy for us because I still had all the costumes from our Plutarch party, including the adult ones (which the teens needed to wear). But, really, Roman wear is simple.

Here are Leena and Klenda, each dressed in a pallium and stolla.

The pallium is a tube, pinned at the shoulders (the long sleeves are non historical undershirts).  In certain eras, the pallium is folded over at the top like the one Leena is wearing.

Either pallium can be wrapped with crisscrossing ribbons to give a belt and the top shape.

 The stolla is a shawl which can be worn like a regular shawl or elegantly draped over the back of the hair.

We only used color on the stolla (random sheets of extra fabric), but in real life, the palliums would have been colorful, too.  In fact, senators wore white with a purple stripe, and candidates wore all white (to show they were "candid" - "candida" is white in Latin).

Yeah, I know, all the classical statues are white, but that turns out to be because all the paint has worn off.  Romans liked bright colors!

Here we have Oob in a himation - a simplified toga.  Why yes, it is just a sheet wrapped around him!  True togas are easy to replicate (just sew two sheets end to end) and fiendishly difficult to put on.

The actual toga wearers were the senators, and they had slaves trained specifically for the task.

We also have a friend dressed as a praetorian guard!

Here is the same friend with Zorg (also in a himation), looking at a Lego Star Wars book (possibly not historically accurate).

The active activity was "When in Rome," kind of a Simon Says game where everyone has to imitate the Emperor player.

The food was a Roman feast!  We had dates, grapes, hard boiled eggs and flat round bread with honey.

Story of the World chapters 34-37.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Poem of the Week: The Two Crowns

Happy feast of Christ the King!

I know the painting isn't technically a poem, but it's one I like to contemplate in the same way I like to contemplate a good poem (and I contemplate it frequently because I have a large print of it in my dining room).

HT: Google Art Project

Friday, November 20, 2015

Biology: Botany

 Last week's classes were both about Botany. 

We looked at leaves, their structure and function, and how to identify trees by their leaves and branches, thanks to my trusty dichotomous keys!

We also did some leaf chromatography by rubbing leaves with stones onto filter paper. 

We labeled the strips and put the ends into rubbing alcohol.

As the alcohol traveled up the strips, it spread out the components of the leaves

 While the leaves started out green (yes, I had to find green leaves in November!), they separated into green, yellow, red, and purple.

Very cool!

 We also looked at roots and stems (tree trunks are modified stems).

The kids were particularly interested in the idea that it's the outside of the tree that's alive, and that most of the living tree is in the bark (although not the outermost layer of bark).

We talked about xylem and phloem, the "blood vessels" of plants.  The phloem "flows" down and the xylem... doesn't.  At least, that's how I keep them straight!

I would have done the celery and food coloring if I'd thought of it.  Maybe next time!

And they were interested in the cambium, the layer which makes both kinds of tubes, and how it creates the rings by which you can tell the age of the tree (or branch, actually).

And roots were fun!  It turns out the kids didn't realize that marshmallows were made from the roots of the marsh mallow (a common flower in swampy areas around here).

I told them, to help them remember, I would give them each one marshmallow.

They liked it, I think.  I couldn't really tell what they were saying.

Nowadays, of course, most marshmallows are made from gelatin instead of marsh mallow roots, but real licorice and real root beer still come from real roots!

We also talked a bit about plant tropisms, because that's always interesting.

And that's about it for Botany!

Would you believe we only have two weeks of Biology left?!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Awesome History: India and China

 Our "active" activity was building the Great Wall out of cardboard bricks and staffing it with attacking and defending Bionicles.

I have to admit, my original thought was a taller wall that the kids could come crashing through like Mongol invaders, but  this was cooler,especially since they put up watchtowers!

Our art project was sculpting our own terracotta warriors.

The kids were very intrigued that each of the 3000 warriors had unique faces and hairstyles, so, naturally, each of theirs was also unique!

 We had a dentist's appointment coming up that afternoon, so instead of a specific snack, we had a quick lunch of rice and General Tsao's Chicken.

Story of the World chapters 30-33.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

3rd Grade Religious Ed Class 8: Burning Bush Craft Project

Class 8
Theme: God is Holy and Great
Review Gospel, prayer time (Icon - explain icons) praying for Poor Souls
Discuss second commandment, reverence for God's name, respect for things that are holy, and people who are consecrated to God.
Tell story of Moses and the Burning Bush
Burning bush craft
 This took some set up, but it went very well.

I cut out squares of clear contact paper (two per child with a few extra), strips of black paper, branches and the words "I AM." Then I tore up pieces of red, orange, and yellow tissue paper. I also had some long strips of green tissue paper for the ground.

The key here is to have everything ready to go so that it's easy for the kids to do.

They can take them home and hang them in a window!

 Then we acted out the story of Elijah and the Prophets of Baal.  If you know the story well, we stopped with the Israelites proclaiming that The Lord is God!

We didn't really do a game this time, instead we took a field trip down to the school's kitchen with all of these containers.

I explained to the kids that I was going to show them why we went to Mass.

I turned on the faucet and told the kids the water was like the love and mercy of God.  Does the tap ever run out of water?  Nope.

Then I put my little creamer in the flow.  That's like me or you going to Mass and praying.  We step into the flow and get filled up with that love and mercy, and very quickly, we get so filled up that we start pouring it out to those around us.

I filled a small cup from the overflowing creamer, than a large one, and then a large jug!  Will the creamer ever run out?  Not as long as it's in the flow, but as soon as you take it out of the flow, it empties quickly.  Put it back in and it overflows again.

Does it matter how big the creamer is? No, what matters is the flow.

Does it matter how fancy the vessel is?  I switched to an old tupperware instead.

What if it's cracked or a bit broken?

It's never about the vessel, all that matters is that it stays in the flow!

(HT: St. Catherine of Siena, she wrote about the vessel in the fountain in her Dialogues)

The kids had fun trying the water with the different vessels, and then it was time to get back for pick up.