Sunday, October 22, 2017

Celebrating St. John Paul II Outdoors

What happens when Sunday, sunshine, and Saint. John Paul II's  Optional Memorial day coincide? 

If you're my me - and you've been promising one of your children a final romp at the beach before the weather cools too much - you make lunch after Mass, have everyone change into swimwear, pack up a few items, and head to the beach, praying a family Rosary along the way!

{Disclosure: Some of the links which follow are affiliate ones.}
 
 
 
Then, on the beach, some of your children play in the "lazy river"...



...while another just lazes around on a towel...


....listening to you read parts of For the Children: Life Lessons From Pope John Paul II aloud.



Later, you call all your children over to where you've made a casual beachside saint day vignette using you copy of  For the Children: Life Lessons From Pope John Paul II*, the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints, a St. John Paul II peg doll, a tape measure, and a bag of Dandies all-matural mini marshmallows.  


You ask your children what they can recall about St. John Paul II, add some further details, read the page in the Encyclopedia of Peg Saints about him...


...and ask who'd like to try a little challenge related to St. John Paul II before sharing in sweetness, symbolic of God's love.

Enticed by the symbolic sweetness, of course, all your children want to try the challenge.  So, borrowing from a prior St. John Paul II-related design challenge
,  you explain:


St. John Paul II loved being outdoors and especially loved the mountains, which he said were "a special place to meet God".   He also said, "We can pray perfectly when we are out in the mountains or on a lake and we feel at one with nature. Nature speaks for us or rather speaks to us. We pray perfectly."  You challenge is to use natural materials you find around you to build a "mountain" that is almost 27 inches high - one inch for every year St. John Paul II was pope.  The mountain has to be able to hold our St. John Paul II peg doll on it for at least 84 seconds - one for very year St. John Paul II lived.
Then, everyone sets to work.



Some build with just rock.


Others add plant material.




Measurements are taken.


Different designs are tried.



Someone thinks he's done.
 

Official measurements are taken.



Redesigns are considered.


Teamwork unfolds.


New progress is measured.


Varied ideas are tested.
 

A simple design meets the height specification.


And, St. John Paul II (in peg doll form) meets God on the "mountain".




A team of three finishes another "mountain".



Everyone - solo and in teams  - meet success.




Then, the sweet mini marshmallows are distributed, reminding us of God's pure love shared with others.




Hoots of joy are called out.  You continue to enjoy the great outdoors with gratitude, just as. St. John Paul II often did.

Later, you all join in prayer, thanking God for the day and asking for St. John Paul II to intercede for your family and for others.

An October beach day in celebration of St. John Paul II has been a blessing!

*Note: When I was putting this post together, I noticed that there are copies of 
For the Children: Life Lessons From Pope John Paul II selling for just a penny right now.  So, if you've been thinking about getting a copy, now's the time!

St. John Paul II, pray for us.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

On Online Reading Program My Daughter Actually Asks For! {A Reading Eggs Review}




What a delight it has been for my daughter and I to have found Reading Eggs - an online program filled with reading lessons, activities, games, and books that teach children aged 2–13 needed literacy skills.  Seriously!  I could not be happier about our experience with
Reading Eggs, since it has accomplished three goals for us in the month or so we have been using it so far.


Reading Eggs


(1)  Independence:  After a couple sessions with help, my daughter was able to use
Reading Eggs 100% one her own.  This has proven a welcome blessing for our family, because it enables my daughter to progress with reading lessons even when Daddy, Big Brother, or I are unavailable to help her.  For us, this is HUGE, because my daughter has often struggled with literacy skills and has rarely cottoned to online reading programs enough to succeed with them on her own, but now can.

My daughter likes
Reading Eggs and gets how it works, so more days that not, she voluntarily logs in, set a timer and completes ELA lessons before I even suggest she does so. She enjoys being able to learn and practice reading skills on her own, and I appreciate the opportunity her doing so gives me to have 1:1's with her brothers, to prepare other lessons, or to simply witness her sense of accomplishment and confidence grow as she moves through the Reading Eggs program.



(2) Sound Learning: My daughter typically does not care for online learning programs, because she finds them too fluffy, too busy, too boring, too difficult or, too you-name-it.  Such is not the case with   Reading Eggs.  Somehow, the way Reading Eggs presents its "bells and whistles"  colorful animations, fun music, motivating rewards, etc. - perfectly suits my daughter at her current stage and, likewise, the way the included lessons, games, and activities present phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency works for her, too.  She remains engaged and, more importantly, she keeps learning! Already, my daughter has completed lesson number 106, proving knowledge of phonics skills and sight words along the way.  



A reading test at the start of the program placed my daughter at an appropriate lesson to begin with and carefully designed, self-paced lessons have kept her moving right along helping her to gain proficiency which is beginning to transfer into
her journal writing, letter writing, and more.  She even surprised me the other day by beginning to write an essay on our computer and reading it back to me.  It would seem that Reading Eggs has come at an ideal time for her personal reading and writing development.
 
(3)  Joy: 
As I have previously mentioned, my daughter has long struggled with reading and spelling.  Often, this has caused frustration, tears, and lack of self esteem. 
Reading Eggs is helping to change that.  When my daughter has been doing her Reading Eggs lessons, there has been laughter, enthusiasm, and a desire to keep going.  There have also been brothers peering over my daughter's shoulders wishing they could have a login with Reading Eggs, too!

Reading Eggs
 
 
But, enough about my thoughts.  Let me share some of my daughter's by offering a transcript of a brief interview I did with her:

What is Reading Eggs?


It is a program for all different ages.  First you can take a test or you can just go to your age.  What I did is take the test.  I was placed on a level and, then, I took lessons online.  For each lesson section, I got eggs which I could use to buy stuff for my virtual house.  It was fun.

Did you like Reading Eggs when you first started?


No, because I could not understand it. I got confused, but, then, you helped me understand the program, and I actually liked it afterall.  It's a fun program and it's helping me to read and spell.

 



Is there anything else you want to tell me about Reading Eggs?


You can also use something called Math Seeds.  It is for ages 3-9.   It is okay.  It is mostly below my level, but is good to reinforce things.  I like it and use it a lot, because i,ts fun and when you use it, you can tell it is based off Reading Eggs, because it is for math, but the things you do - the activities - are a lot like the Reading Eggs ones.   You get acorns instead of eggs and buy stuff for your virtual treehouse with them.  The things for your treehouse are cheaper than the ones for your house in Reading Eggs.


Oh, Reading Eggs program has parts for ages 2-4, 3-7, and 7-13.

Would you recommend Reading Eggs?


Yes.  It is a fun program.  It's good.  What I like is that I read a story in each lesson, but, at the end, you get something fun for all your work.  For example, you can get an insect or a person that hatches out of an egg and they do something based off the lesson.

Anything else?
Yes.  I don't usually like online learning, so I was mad when my mom made me try this, but it's actually a really fun program.  I want to keep using it, and my older brother is jealous, because he wants to use it, too.  Now, can I do Reading Eggs, Mom?

And, there you have it - her thoughts and her departure from our interview.  Did you catch it?  She asked, "Now, can I go do Reading Eggs, Mom?"  Yep!  She was asking to get online to begin her reading lesson for the day, did so, and went extra time- again -doing so.  That says A LOT. Reading Eggs has proven itself a worthwhile resource to her and to me.  I am so glad to have found this "easy button" for my daughter to be independent with reading lessons when I am busy, to succeed in learning and practicing literacy skills, and to enjoy herself while learning.  I would not hesitate to recommend others give this program a try with their reluctant readers or developing readers.
Reading Eggs*

If you would like to do so, you can click through for a FREE 4-WEEK TRIAL
,which should give you plenty of time to see if Reading Eggs is as good a match for your child as it is for mine.  (Offer expires on November 30, 2017.)

Learn More

Reading Eggs


Reading Eggs
is not just effective and enjoyable for children, it is designed to make things easy for parents, too.  D
etailed progress reports let you know how your child is doing.  Hundreds of downloadable activity sheets that correspond with the lessons in the program can offer offline reinforcement.  Over 2000 online books for kids – each ending with a comprehension quiz that assesses your child’s understanding - are available as part of the program (so library fees don't add up!; ;) )  And, now, there are helpful new week-by-week homeschool guides for kindergarten through second grade!

The homeschool guides can be downloaded for
free from your online parent dashboard and contain week-by-week overviews to aid you in introducing and and tracking learning for children in Kindergarten through 2nd Grade.

The guides provide a 36-week sequence for Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies, mapping online lessons, books, quizzes and assessments, and listing reference books in the Reading Eggspress library to help expand ideas and concepts.  These guides really are a great resource!


Reading Eggs

Seventy-five Homeschool Review Crew families reviewed
Reading Eggs.  Click through the banner to find all of our reviews.

Find
Reading Eggs on social media at:


•   Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/readingeggsUSCA/
•   Instagram (handle): readingeggs
•   Twitter: https://twitter.com/readingeggs @readingeggs
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•   YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/ABCReadingEggs
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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Enjoy St. Luke's Little Summer with Rock Art and More

Last year, the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist fell on an unseasonably warm day here - a truly "St. Luke's Little Summer" sort of day.  Thus, we combined an excursion to our favorite "lazy river" with a feast day celebration, thereby enjoying an afternoon filled with faith, friendship, and fun.



{Disclosure: Some of the links which follow are affiliate ones.}

This year, it looks like St. Luke's Day will once again bring beautiful weather, so as we plan to enjoy another outdoor celebration with friends making rock art to leave behind for others.  This seems an ideal (and easy!) activity to enjoy for St. Luke's day, since St. Luke is patron to artists and painters,  his name means "bringer of light" and he was an evangelist among gentiles.  Creating rock art with faith-based images and messages on them and leaving them behind to brighten other's days can help share a bit of light and the love of God.  

A Look Back at Our Our St. Luke's Day at the Lazy River



Last year, as I mentioned, we ended up spending St. Luke's day outside enjoying the incredibly warm fall weather we were having. 




However, it was not just warm weather, it was unusual King Tide weather.  So, when we arrived at the beach, we found the King Tide was causing the parking lot to flood.





Thus - much to my amusement - while we waited for friends to arrive, my children decided to get to work right away building dams. 





Meanwhile, St. Luke (in peg doll form) watched over us.





Soon enough, the waters in the lot began to recede a bit, and our friends arrived, so we walked out onto the beach.




As we trekked down to the typically lazy river, we were surprised by how high the tide was. We'd never seen it so far up on the beach before.



Luckily, the "Give One - Take One" rocks my daughter had left on an earlier excursion were high enough up on the beach to escape the King Tide, and some still sat ready to greet passersby.



Then, when we got to the lazy river, we found the tide had made it more of a lazy river-lake. 



That was A-okay with the kiddoes.  

They enjoyed the warm ocean water caught in the deep tidal pool.


Meanwhile, I found a high bank to set up our St. Luke's Feast Day picnic on.  For it, we used a lace tablecloth atop our picnic blanket, since St. Luke is patron to lacemakers and set out our St. Luke peg doll and the Picture Book of Saints.  



Most of our fare was not so much symbolic as easy to take along to the beach, although I did make mini-meatballs since St. Luke is patron to butchers and is often symbolized by a winged calf.  These did not make it into the picture though as the boys scoffed them right up as soon as they saw me taking them out. 
 


So, it was onto prayers, lunch, and a reading and chat about St. Luke.




Then, it was time for more lazy river fun for the children while I packed the food away and out out Sharpies, paper, color sticks, and a few rocks.


And, oh the fun they had!


The lazy river was not so lazy at times...


After they children had enjoyed riding the current for some time, I invited them back to the blankets and suggested we make artwork to leave on the beach for others to find, since St. Luke was an evangelist and is also patron to artists and painters.




Some of us made Mary rocks, since St. Luke was said to have painted a number of images of Mary and Baby Jesus.




My oldest made Armor of God rocks.



Friends made artwork on rocks and paper, too.




After that, it was time for more fun straight through the golden hour.


It was truly a delight-filled celebration, and, this year, although we won't be returning to the lazy river on St. Luke's feast day, we intend to evangelize by rock out made outside again after Mass and co-op.




Perhaps where you are will experience St. Luke's Little Summer, as well, and be able to use our idea of creating rock art in honor of St. Luke's patronage and leaving it behind to brighten other's day's, in honor of St. Luke's name meaning "bringer of light" and of him being an evangelist.


Three More Ideas for the Feast Day



St. Luke, pray for us.

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