Category Archives: Planning

Preparing to Keep a Holy Lent :: Lenten Plans

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Advent and Christmas have only just come and gone, but believe it or not Lent is only 2 weeks away!

I have been in planning mode since just a bit after Christmas, trying to order my home and make lessons to ensure that the season is really lived and savored. While I do have a few new traditions I hope to add to our family this year,  here is a look at what helped to make the season memorable for our family last year.

My hope is that they will bless you and your family as we approach the penitential season and await the resurrection of the Lord!

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Decorating for Lent :: Lenten Mantel

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Awaiting the Resurrection :: Lenten Lamb of God Countdown Calendar


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Books for the Journey :: Lenten Book Basket

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Spring Cleaning Our Hearts and Homes During Lent :: 40 Bags in 40 Days

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Ash Wednesday Copywork Shot

Ash Wednesday :: Copywork (FREE Printable)

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Ash Wednesday :: Burying Alleluia


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Chocolate Crown of Thorns Tutorial


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Salt Dough Crown of Thorns Tutorial


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Sacrificial Bean Jar


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Giving Alms for Children

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Stations of the Cross for Children


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Stations of the Cross Box Preschool Montessori Printable Cards


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Palm Sunday


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La Toquette :: Pocking Eggs


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Alleluia! He is RISEN!

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Already have plans in mind for the Lenten season? Share how you will Keep a Holy Lent with all of us in the comments!

And visit Lacy for more Lenten ideas!

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Ordering the Days :: How This Pen and Paper Gal Runs the Show

Even though there are some fantastic online organizers and mobile apps,sometimes pen and paper is advanced as it needs to get.

For the past 8 years

of our marriage I have been a pen and paper gal. There is something that is just so intuitive for me to scribble out little notes and lists for myself.

And I know I’m not alone.

For if I was, the new daily planners that roll onto the shelves this time of year would cease to be available.

While Cozi, Evernote, and Pinterest are all wonderful and useful in their own rights, during school hours, in our household, we have a strict no technology rule that is fiercely enforced.

For Mom.

I’ve come to know what my time suckers are and have learned to curb their viciousness! Because of this, the home management/homeschool binder is almost always open in plain sight upon the kitchen counter. This is the backbone of how our household is run and how it continues to operate smoothly.

Even with the abundance of planners scattered across store shelves, I have yet to find one that encompasses all of the needs that I as a homeschooling mother and homemaker require.  Since their seams are indistinguishable, I  have always resorted to crafting my own.

The mapping out of our days is vital, and since our family strives to celebrate our faith through our Domestic Church, the use of Romcal‘s free program generator of the General Roman Calendar has been put to good use. Not only can you print out the year’s calendar with notations of the liturgical seasons and feast days, you can also upload it to several other supported formats, (so all of you Outlook and iCal users can sync up). While our family does add it to our shared electronic family calendars, I also choose to print off an 18 month yearly calendar to insert into the binder. The printed Romcal calendar is subjected to appointments, play dates, sports practices, community classes and vacation days being scribbled onto it’s squares–often times it is the first place for such items before they make their way onto Cozi.

With Romacal’s printed calendar inserted in the binder, a simple turn of the page enables me to note upcoming feast days while seated at the table for lessons, and affords me  the ability to jot down plans for our celebrations upon my Domestic Church planning sheet. This handy little sheet, with space for crafts, games, activities, books, devotionals, and recipes, along with other notes saved to Evernote and Pinterest, serves as a landing place for ideas that I stumble across and helps to jog my memory about what items I already have around the house to help honor a particular saint. I generally begin planning for the feast days we will celebrate about a month in advance, which allows time for the purchase of any craft materials and food items and the reservation of any books from our local library.

Since celebrating the Saints in our Domestic Church is not only a part of our family devotions but a component of our homeschool’s religion curriculum, pages for lesson planning are also found in the binder. An 8 columned two page spread, with ample space for notes and agendas for each subject area, along with the availability to note the dates, week of school, and special events, serves me well before adding the information into our family’s saved data storage.

Along with the lesson planning sheets, there is also to be found a page for  attendance records from Donna Young. Our state mandates three hours of instruction for a set number of days to be tabulated for each homeschooled student and this handy little form is a simple way for me to notate that requirement, as well as allows me to see at a glance if our homeschool is on track for the year. It also serves as my form to be turned in at the end of the school year to our county school board, which saves me a little bit of time and sanity come June 30.

In our home, books are abundant and are an integral part of our homeschooling day. To help manage the flux of books from the library, as well as from our own shelves, a book log is a must. For every book read as part of our curriculum, as well as those read for leisure by our daughter, each is recorded along with the date completed on this Donna Young form.

To ensure that comprehension has been maintained, we utilize Sylvan Learning’s Book Adventure quizzes, also noting the score on the book log. This record can be quite impressive by the end of the school year, but it also helps to ensure that she is reading a range of genres and good literature.

Tucked just behind the book log pages is a handy little zippered pencil pouch which holds all of the year’s library receipts. Over the years I have purchased many a book that now resides upon library shelves thanks to my forgetting of due dates! While I have not completely conquered this monster, the retaining of the receipts, as well as noting immediately the due dates on the Romcal calendar, has helped to curve it immensely.

Even though schooling takes up the majority of our day’s hours, I am still the head maid, gourmet chef and personal shopper for our household, and have to ensure that all of the duties in my job description are not overlooked.

I am of the belief that even though we homeschool our children, our home does not have to resemble that of a classroom with scraps of cut paper on the floor and glue smeared across tables. I have found that a breakdown of the housecleaning tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, semi-annual and annual duties helps for our entire household to know what needs to be accomplished. The list of chores to be completed also has space to note their completion dates. This has proved to be a tremendous help. Now everyone in the home knows where their attention can be focused, and we are not left to guessing as to when the monthly, semi-annual or annual duties were last crossed off the list.

Aside from keeping orderly living spaces, I am also responsible for serving three daily meals in our home. This can be a daunting task and much preparation is needed so that I am not constantly needing to pop into the store for forgotten items. Each Sunday evening I set aside time to prepare a weekly menu for all three meals, plus snacks and the occasional desert, taking care to note our schedule for the week, as well as proposed feast days to celebrate. Once the menu is set, the needed items are checked off the master grocery list, which is then tracked along onto my grocery shopping venture.

Since I am not only the main grocery shopper but also the main curriculum buyer, there is also space for all of the receipts from school related purchases and paid extra curricular activities. Although our state does not offer any tax breaks for homeschool families as of yet, the receipts help to ensure that our family has stayed within our allocated amount or to know if the budget needs to be adjusted for the following year. It also helps that all of the contact information for each item is in one place should there be a problem or missing piece from a particular purchase.

All of this, and often times more, are gathered together into a 2″ wide three ring binder which is then subdivided with file tabs. Each tab is labeled appropriately allowing for ease of navigation. The Weekly Menu, Master Grocery List, and Master Cleaning Checklist are all laminated allowing for each to be used over and over again from week to week.

Never had a homemaking/homeschool binder before?

Then I encourage you to take advantage of these resources and get organized in this New Year! You can assemble your own binder by selecting the images above and printing the pages that are of use to you.

With their help, along with Organizational Apps for the New Year and The Master Schedule, you, too, can be well on your way to Well Ordered Days.

Ordering the Days :: Organizational Tools for the New Year

While August and September tend to bring about more changes in the school room,  it is often January that invokes our resolve to make the New Year better than the last. Frequently, for most of us, part of our resolutions revolve around trying to stay on top of things, and once and for all, stay organized.

While for the past 8 years I have been more of a pen and paper gal myself, there are a few organizational apps, (thanks to the urging of my tech-savvy husband),  that I have come to utilize which have revolutionized how our entire family stays connected and on top of things. The best part of them all, they are absolutely FREE! so there is no reason why you can not start the year off with your best efforts to obtain your New Year’s resolution!

With all the individual people in a family, each with their own set of appointments and activities, sometimes it can be hard to juggle everyone’s schedule all at once. It can all be a bit easier with the use of Cozi, a free online organizer and mobile app.

With Cozi, a central email account is utilized along with a shared password for all members of the family, (with each member designated by an individual color),  to coordinate calendars, grocery, meal, and to-do lists, along with a family journal to jot down all of those memories no one wants to forget. There is no more need for all of those sticky notes for appointments, individual calendars, and grocery lists on slips of paper laying around.

The beauty of Cozi for our family is that it allows for the entire family to be synced into one account, using any number of devices, ensuring that everyone sees all the same information. Each Sunday evening, an email with that week’s agenda is sent to each individual family member’s email ensuring that nothing is forgotten! And Cozi can also sync with Microsoft Outlook!

While calendars and lists are nice, sometimes the need to compile a lot of different types of information from text, photos, PDFs, and links, into one spot is needed–almost like filing away into a binder.

Enter Evernote.  A free online personal digital assistant of sorts, Evernote allows any number of notes with varying content to be compiled and saved to a notebook, each being categorized according to your wishes. Evernote automatically saves aanything you input into a note so there is no need to constantly hit the save button. It also allows through the use of the right click the ability to easily move content into a note or notebook– Adding a photo is as easy as clicking and dragging into a note, and to add a bit of text, just highlight, right click and add to a note. It’s that seamless and simple.

Evernote has been extremely handy when planning in our homeschool. The ability to compile information for lesson planning as well as for liturgical feast days into one easy to access spot has been very beneficial and a huge time saver! Evernote also allows the ability to share your notebooks with others. This has been fantastic among my fellow homeschool peers as we are able to share our findings easily with one another to aid each other in preparing lessons for our families.

And lastly, well, there is Pinterest, the virtual pin board tool that has been sweeping the internet lately. While you do need an invite to be able to start pinning, (haven’t been invited yet? Contact me and I’d be happy to help!), Pinterest is perhaps the easiest organizational tool to use.  Through the creation of your own pin boards, and with the installation of the Pin It bookmarklet, much like tearing pictures out of a magazine, you are able to collect virtual inspiration from anywhere on the web and pin it to a board for later use. Not only is the image saved, but so is the  link to the original website. This allows for very eye appealing organization of images!

It has also been great in our homeschool, since there is such a vast amount of information shared on the web. Instead of having to dig through saved links and bookmarked sites, Pinterest allows for an easy visualization of all things saved, which is fantastic for organizing all of those fun ideas, craft projects and printbables for my little ones.

So, there you have it. Three FREE tools to help you stay organized this New Year. Go ahead and download them all today, and don’t let that resolution slide away!

Books for the Journey: Second Grade Currciulum

Many of you have sent messages after seeing our family master schedule, and that we began our new school year over a month ago, saying “Gee…. That looks nice and all… But just exactly how do you do Science? And what about History…. and Latin….and Math…..?”

So after the little tease of a glimpse into our home, I’m here to help make things slightly clearer. Please remember that this is what works in our home, for our family, for second grade. So view this with the mindset that this is all paint that is being thrown up on the wall— you may like the color, decide you want it in your home, throw it up on the wall, live with it for a couple of days and then realize the color is awful! That’s okay! (And actually to be expected!) Just throw on a different coat of paint and carry on!

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After morning prayer and intentions, our days begin with a collection of books cradled together, that sit nestled atop the lesson cabinet in the morning basket. The books are taken out one by one each morning. The Pledge of Allegiance, along with chosen prayers and poems from The Harp and Laurel Wreath, are recited aloud daily, until recall is no longer needed to be prompted before another is begun.

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The lives of the saints are shared on the morning of their feast day through picture books and appropriate crafts, serving as both faith enrichment and a living history study. Baltimore Catechism lessons are read and recited until they are mastered, instilling the fundamentals of our faith.
Just to make sure that those lessons stick, there are readings from the Faith and Life series. And lastly, our days are marked off of the calendar and the daily countdown of school days is changed. All in all, averaging about an hour. If nothing else is accomplished in the day, we at least begin with this rich dose of lessons.

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Then we move on to mental gymnastics. The training of the hand and attention to detail are instilled through cursive handwriting practice, copy work, and journal writing.  Copy work often consists of snips of poetry or poems being learned, or quotes of works from the Saints, or perhaps History or Science dates or other important information needing to be remembered. The point is to practice and learn the mechanics of writing, grammar and spelling, through copying the written model of others. Journal writing serves as an open creative writing exercise. There are a collection of prompts for each month that help to jump the starting of a piece, but often journaling occurs from the daily goings on in our own home, serving as a collective memory for our family.
Grammar and Spelling are further studied through the use of lessons in Rod and Staff and All About Spelling to ensure that what is learned in copy work has an explanation to further cement their purposes.

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The mental gymnastics continue with the study of Latin/Greek and Mathematics. At first glance, the study of dead languages may not seem fruitful. However, since most English words are derived from either Latin or Greek,  and scientists across the world utilize them so as to not pose complications and competition among other languages, the basic understanding of word definitions help to prepare the student for excellence. For now, English from the Roots Up
suits us nicely.

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As for Math, after a brief walk with Math U See,Saxon has proved it’s place. With it’s daily review of mastered concepts,  gentle introduction and spiraling approach, it has suited us well these past few years.

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After tummies are filled and wiggles are aired outside, History, Science and Fine Arts take center stage.  Last year we made our way through the entire first volume of The Story of the World in part to participating in a bi-weekly co-op gathering to share in the mess and fun from the accompanying Activity Book . We are taking part again this year and will finish volume two around mid-May. The co-op and book are utilized along with a Book of Time to help lay out and organize important dates, people and places in time.

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Science is introduced through the Apologia Exploring Creation series of books. This year’s focus is on Botany. The text accompanied with Jean Fulbright’s offering of note booking pages has made for a great jump into the world of plants. We are also fortunate that our local 4-H office offers a Junior Master Gardener program for homeschoolers which serves as a great hands-on accompaniment to our studies.

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Both Art and Music are explored weekly. Artistic Pursuits follows the same chronological order as Story of the World, helping to tie in nicely the arts explored within it’s pages.–As we study frescos and mosaics in History, we also try our hand at creating our own!
Music is delved into through the use of The Story of the Orchestra as a springboard. Additional listening exercises are completed once introduced to the different musical eras and composers.

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And if all of those books do not satisfy, there is also a large basket full of fun and entertaining reads pertaining to the current history chapters and science topics from the library sitting next to a large, comfy reading chair. This basket is frequented often, with a book or two snagged for snuggle time under a favorited blanket in the afternoons, and books finding their way into bedrooms for night time reading. Housed here also, as well as on the various bookshelves of our home, are books full of great literature filled with examples of good grammar and great vocabulary for leisure reading.

Of course, all of these books serve to be the vehicle into which new topics are explored. We do not hold to studying only what is contained between the bindings! Rabbit rails and happy adventures are always welcome in our homeschool, and quite frequently take center stage!

So, what books are on the agenda for your little students? Please share! It is never too early for me to start planning for next year!

Out with the Old and In with the New: Online Curriculum Sale Blog Hop

In an attempt to make some space for this year’s new curriculum, purging of the bookshelves was in order! Thanks to Jessica at Shower of Roses who so graciously is hosting an Online Curriculum Sale Blog Hop, I thought I would list here first in hopes of benefiting one of you dear readers. All of the books listed below have served our family well, they are just no longer needed!

.:The Rules:.

  • If you are interested in purchasing a book, please leave a comment or send an email containing your contact information and noting which book(s)  are of your interest.
  • Books will be sold to the first response,  and will be marked as sold in the blog post after payment has been received. PayPal is preferred.
  • All book prices include media mail shipping. Shipping can be combined for multiple books/items.

.: For The Journey:.

.:Religion:.

.:Science:.

(Or sold as a complete set for $30.00 ppd)

.:Latin:.

.:Art, Geography and Reading:.

.:Cookbooks:.

Be sure to visit Jessica at Shower of Roses for a listing of all of the Online Curriculum Sales! Hopefully you will come across other items at a great deal  that will both help your wallet and help out other families to make room for the new school year’s books!