Friday, December 28, 2012

Holy Heroes 12 days of Christmas

The website "Holy Heroes" is offering a free download every day for the 12 days of Christmas. The offer for each item is valid only for one day, so you need to check the website every day.

Today it is a coloring book of the life of St Cecilia.

Holy heroes 12 Days of Christmas

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A star is born

Constellations are always such a wonderful theme, since it combines Earth and Space Science with mythology and imagination!! If we add to it a bit of art and a bit of music, then it is an awesome theme for integrating different bits and pieces of knowledge and experiences into a beautiful whole.

We started out with some basic printables of the traditional constellations from this website. It also has a free printable with a short explanation of the history behind the main constellations.

Art, History and Science:
We also made some constellation cards:
After studying them for a while, we made our own constellation cards. 

All you need is 3 by 5” white cards, and 2 ½” by 4 1/2 “ blue construction paper rectangles.

Pick a constellation. 

Mark with a pencil in the blue paper where the stars would be. With a puncher, punch out the blue paper in the places marked, and glue onto the white cards. You may trace the lines joining the starts with a white pencil. Prepare labels if desired.

Drawing your favorite constellation story.
Together with your child (children) draw your favorite story. You can incorporate some writing into it.

Music and history:
Listen together to “Constellations” by Jonathan Peters (more about it in this site).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Free audio book: How the Grinch stole Christmas

I don't know how long this offer will last, but I downloaded it today and the kids had a blast :). This is an audio book from : How the Grinch Stole Christmas for Free and no membership is required.

Details here:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Blank maps

This website has tons of blank maps, which are a wonderful tool for history/geography/biblical lessons!! I have been using it a lot with our "Story of the world" curriculum.

Blank maps from around the world: (

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Advent calendar and family readings

This is our very simple family Advent Calendar. 

Every day we light a candle in our Advent wreath and read a new verse or two from the Messianic Prophesies and reflect on preparing for the coming of Jesus. During the last two weeks of Advent we will be reading The Annunciation, Visitation and Birth of Christ texts.

Here are the texts we are using:

Prophecy of the Light ( Isaiah 9:1)
Prophesy of the Names (Isaiah 9:6)
Prophesy of the Mother (Isaiah 7:14)
Prophesy of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
Prophecy of the Star and the Scepter (Numbers 24:17) 
Prophecy of the Valleys and Mountains (Isaiah 40:3-5) 
Prophecy of the Shoot of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1-3) 
Prophecy of the Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9) 
Annunciation: Luke 1: 26-38
Visitation: Luke 1: 39-49, 56
Birth of Christ: Luke 2: 1-20

During the 12 days of Christmas:

Adoration of the Magi:(Matthew 2: 1-12)
Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2: 22-33, 36-39)
Flight to Egypt : Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23 

We keep it very simple with the little ones, but we enjoy many beautiful moments :) They love marking off the days and the whole sense of hopeful anticipation. We end with a song and with the snuffing of the candle(s) - an all time favourite :)



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Opera for everyone

I just wanted to share this wonderful free material for the study (and enjoyment) of four classical operas.

Opera was always a part of my family, and I still remember my first time at the theatre to enjoy "La Traviata"... Here are the Instructions on how to install it in your computer


The Barber of Seville

La Traviata
Madama Butterfly


Monday, September 17, 2012

Art extension for metal insets

A while ago we purchase some metal insets at discount prices, and after using them following the Montessori album pages, we started experimenting a bit with them in our art classes.

So what follows is an activity that combines the metal insets with a little play of straight lines vs curved lines in order to create a 3D optical illusion. (This can also be associated with a discussion/lesson on the science behind optical illusion.) For even more examples of this phenomenon you can see here and here and here ...

So the first step is to choose a metal inset (or any other shape that can be traced on paper) and place it on a white piece of paper. Trace around.

With a ruler trace horizontal parallel lines on the page, excluding the shape you have just traced. This gives the child quite a bit of practice with the ruler, too :)

Now the tricky part: using the points of contact of the lines with the edge of the figure as a starting and finishing point, trace an arch joining these two points. Again, it does not have to be perfect, but this first line is going to be the guide for all the other curves inside the figure, so you can actually help the child by tracing a couple and explaining that we still need to keep them parallel.

Once all the lines are traced, you are ready to colour. I made my children create their own color pattern, but it can also be just random. They can get creative there.

After all the stripes are fill in with colour, you can enjoy the effect!

This is very simple, but quite rewarding, even as an introduction to the concepts of perspective and any type of "applied" optical illusion in art and architecture.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Paper paper paper

Many Montessori materials, at least here in the US, include 3D realistic depictions of objects of interest going from famous buildings and landmarks to means of transport to wildlife. It is a bit challenging (not to mention expensive or prohibitive) to reproduce that at home, but I have found this website has a nice alternative: print your own 3D (scaled!) models and build them at home. All you need is a color printer, some paper and a pair of scissors and glue. OK, and lots of patience, but it is really a great project to "illustrate" any lesson.

Here is the link: 3D paper models

Check out some examples:


We are currently working on this one:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Enjoying the Summer vacations everyone? We have decided to homeschool all year around, but with a little slower pace on the Summer months. So things have been slow but interesting, especially with a "field trip" to Alaska... :)

But today I am sharing this great link to a wonderful website which helps complement out history curriculum. We are using "Story of the World" and many history books and living books, but sometimes pictures (and videos and interactive content) really say more than many many words :) Being able to explore the Big Pyramid with real pictures was a very interesting experience.

Hope you enjoy! I have to say that being a history buff myself, I never get tired of the subject, but I feel sometimes short videos like this help children to have a better idea of what we are talking about.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The absorbent mind

We owe the concept of the "absorbent mind" to Maria Montessori, and we take it for granted. But it is so amazing to witness the process! Case in point:
I was reading "My Carthaginian cousin" to my 6 year old, which is a historic fictional story covering the time of the Carthaginian domination in antiquity. The language and sentence structure is pretty complicated, so I assumed my 4 year old was not really following it.
All of  a sudden, while working with clay, he told me that he had made a "Carthaginian ship"... It was pretty cool :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Art and History: Making mosaic

I was always fascinated by mosaic. It is so amazing how this technique can create beautiful work of art that lasts for thousands of years, with so much perseverance and patience!

In our History studies we are entering the amazing Ancient Greco-Roman times, so this project aims at understanding the basics of the mosaic technique, without having to actually work with the real thing. I will leave that for when we revisit this times in a couple of years.

This stamping technique is quite easy. All you will need is a stamp, which you can make yourself, and acrylic paint. Here are the instructions:

The square design was made by my 6 year old son, and he was very happy with the results! :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Color perception for toddlers (and preschoolers)

This activity proved to be lots of fun...

It is a very simple material, but the challenge of manipulating clothes pins adds up to the color identification/naming, so it really keeps the attention of little ones absorbed for a while.

All you need to do is divide a card stock circle into as many wedges as you want (I started with 8, but it can be simpler, with just 4, or more complex)

Choose the colors you want to use. This wheel is done with primary and secondary colors + black and white, but you can also experiment with monochromatic.

Paint the wedges and the sides of the clothes pins. (you can also use construction paper and glue)

 Have fun!!! :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Science experiment - Digestion

I got the idea for this experiment from this blog. We just modified it slightly.
The objective is to show how our stomach acids aid the digestion process. There is a bit of gross factor here, so don't read on if you are sensitive :)

You'll need:
A zip lock bag
Some white vinager
A cracker (or cheerios or a piece of bread, etc)

Premoist the cracker. Explain to the child that this is what salive and mastication do for us.

Fill the bag with vinager. Explain that our stomachs hold acid inside, and briefly describe its properties.

Drop the food in. Close the bag tightly and swish the contents around, gently massaging the bag, too, to emulate the action of the stomach walls.

Describe what happens. Make notes and observations.

(My boys loved it!!!) :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Making "coloured glass" suncatchers

This is a very simple activity that can be quite versatile once the "coloured glass" is produced. You can use it as suncatchers, ad see through cards, or as material for making mobiles...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Toddler fun

Keeping the little ones busy is challenging, but they are learning too :)

I definitely believe that all activities with a practical end are so much more satisfying to little children! My daughter enjoyed this one so much it was hard to keep her from dumping the shapes box again to start all over!! :)

Other cool activities for toddlers:
Flower garden

Practical life

More practical life :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wonderful art resources

If from time to time you feel a bit depleted of art ideas, here are some projects from this wonderful blog, The elementary Art Room, that can give you fresh inspiration!

Here is a little sample of what you can see there:

I am also pretty happy with this site, Artcyclopedia, which has wonderful pictures of artists for art appreciation.


Monday, May 14, 2012

A little more about leaves

Nothing inspires us more to do Botany studies than a nice walk through the neighborhood, on a fine Spring morning.

Today our project was very simple. Walk, take our time, stop as many times as we needed (i.e. every time we found something interesting) and come back home with a very diverse collection of leaves.

Back at home, we observed, described, identified. And we marvel at the wonderful details.

We use our window as a "back light board". The children were amazed to see all the details!

The next step: Pressing them and placing them in our folders.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Writing center

Let's face it. Many times creative writing does not come so easily to children, especially boys :).
So I decided to create special materials to encourage creativity while making the writing process more enjoyable.

And that is how our writing center was born. It is all contained in a big folder, with enough pockets to invite new materials in every once in a while.

Apart from the obvious (a paper pad and pencil) it also includes:

* Our noun phrase game

* Grammar cards to make more phrases (For now we are just using nouns, adjectives and verbs, with their corresponding symbol in the Montessori materials). As a story starter, we pic two of each category and try to use them all in a story.

* Story cards: an assortment of photographs of  objects, people, animals, actions glue onto 3" x 4" cards. (we use old National Geographic magazines for all our projects). You can use these in the same way as the grammar cards to start a story, randomly picking one at the time.

* Any other pictures that could be inspirational.

You can include anything that helps getting things started...

Friday, May 4, 2012

1 Corinthians 13 for Homeschool Moms

I just LOVE this and have to share it with all the homeschooling moms out there!!!  It comes from the Encouraging beautiful motherhood blog

1 Corinthians 13 for Homeschool Moms

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and teach my children Latin conjugations, Chinese and Portuguese, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal, and no matter what I say, they will not hear me.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know my children’s bents and God’s plan for their lives, and know all mysteries and all knowledge,and am the keeper of the teacher’s editions and solutions manuals, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, and even keep up with my giant piles of laundry and dishes, but do not have love, I am nothing, even if all the people at church think I’m Supermom.

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and my formal dining room gets turned into a schoolroom and our family vacations look more like educational fieldtrips, and if I surrender my body to be burned, never having time to get my nails done, put makeup on or even take a bath, but do not have love, it profits me nothing, because all my family cares about is the expression on my face, anyway.

Love is patient with the child who still can’t get double-digit subtraction with borrowing, and kind to the one who hasn’t turned in his research paper.  It is not jealous of moms with more, fewer, neater, more self-directed, better-behaved or smarter children.  Love does not brag about homemade bread, book lists, or scholarships and is not arrogant about her lifestyle or curriculum choices.  It does not act unbecomingly or correct the children in front of their friends.  It does not seek its own, trying to squeeze in alone time when someone still needs help; it is not provoked when interrupted for the nineteenth time by a child, the phone, the doorbell or the dog; does not take into account a wrong suffered, even when no one compliments the dinner that took hours to make or the house that took so long to clean.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness or pointing out everyone else’s flaws, but rejoices with the truth and with every small step her children take in becoming more like Jesus, knowing it’s only by the grace of God when that occurs.
Love bears all things even while running on no sleep; believes all things, especially God’s promise to indwell and empower her, hopes all things, such as that she’ll actually complete the English curriculum this year and the kids will eventually graduate, endures all things, even questioning from strangers, worried relatives, and most of all, herself.
Love never fails.  And neither will she.  As long as she never, never, never gives up.
Misty Krasawski, December 8, 2008

Monday, April 23, 2012

Earth Day

What is the best way to celebrate Earth day? Well, building a terrarium, of course!!! :) :)
My children are eager to have a pet, but since it would not work right now, they have happily "adopted" several pill bugs and snails from the garden... They are actually feeding them everyday, and making sure they have enough water, so the little bugs are thriving....

We made our little "home" for the creatures with a clear Dollar store shoe box, some mosquito net, a cutter and the glue gun. It is very sturdy and it can be reused many times...

Enjoy a nice, relaxing nature walk!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Because the mommy needs her sanity, too...

We all know the feeling...there needs to be something to keep us sane, especially when surrounded all day by our wonderful children :) :) Don't get me wrong, I would not have it any other way (most of the days, anyway:)) but I feel I need a creative outlet, too...

So this is what I do. Knit, knit. And recently, I started designing... So here are some of my designs on Ravelry... It's so much fun!!!