Monthly Archives: April 2013

Lapbook of Clouds

From ETC MONTESSORI I downloaded the  clouds nomenclature cards. A search around the net (google images) produced some extra pics about where the clouds are in the sky. Heleyna is using Behold and See Book 1 for science and as we have hit the chapter on weather, a Cloud lapbook seems like a good accompaniment to the chapter.

The free Montessori printables are just right for this sort of thing.

You need a folder


to start with

Open it out like this.


After that, how you stick things in and where you put them is pretty much up to you and the children making them.

We are adding some extra’s to the lapbook about the seasons and weather in the northern and southern hemisphere’s. She will look at the weather here for a week and make a weather calender from her science book.


Love one another…how?

Yesterday’s Gospel was St. John telling us how Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, love one another as I have loved you.” (Jn 13:34)

Father D picked up on the fact that Jesus said this was a “new commandment” and said how new was it when throughout Scripture God has tried to get people to love one another? It was a good question.

Jesus said it was a new commandment because of how He wanted us to love. Having set His example in washing their feet and then feeding them with His Body and Blood (because God is not constrained by time – but that’s another issue) and Judas has left to do his dirty deed.

Jesus then says He is giving them a new commandment, that they love one another – not in the comfortable sense of love but as HE has loved them. In the Greek St. John uses the word “agapete” (from agape) for Greek has more than one word for love depending on what kind of love was being spoken about.

Agape love is the giving love that in Latin is charitas which in English we call charity – that is giving. Charity in it’s real meaning has a much deeper meaning than dropping a few unneeded coins in a box. Agape-charity is sacrifice. We give something we need (or think we need) for the sake of another.

This is the love that demands we forgive our enemies and love them and pray for those who persecute and damage us.

Jesus suffered hugely for love of us and poured out every last drop of blood for us. When He calls the disciples to do the same He means it. There is no way on earth we could obey that commandment.  We are naturally selfish and self serving. Surely He’s asking way too much of us!

Thankfully the context for this otherwise impossible commandment is that He has just provided the Eucharist, the soulfood that gives us what we need to be able to obey that commandment.

In English we bandy the word “love” around in such a way that we often forget what it means in different circumstances. Jesus knows exactly what He is saying when He uses the word love and if we are going to love the way He wants us to, we had better be sure we get to grips with His meaning of the word, rather than what we would rather it meant.

Classical Academic Press; review

UnbenanntI’ve bought curriculum from a few places over the years, but I think my favourite resources have come from Classical Academic Press. The children love the stuff and they are genuinely learning from it.  I think the prices are pretty reasonable. They have become shockingly expensive for us recently thanks to the obvious drive of our lovely Govt who want to rake in money so have started slapping huge VAT and handling fees on parcels from abroad. I wasn’t very impressed as it has doubled the price of the resources for us. I’ve recently learned that educational items are supposed to be exempt, but tax collectors are the same now as they have always been.

In light of this I emailed CAP asking if there was any hope that in future there could be downloadable pdf or some other  way of circumventing the tax man. They emailed me back straight away and were really helpful showing great willingness to do something along these lines.

They have started Thinker’s Cap Academy which is embryonic at the moment but if they are planning to add lots more courses then this is definitely going to be of great use to us.

They offer a lot of good free resources as well which means you are getting even better value for money. I’ve listened to some of the audio seminars which have been useful to get an insight into the philosophical underpinning of their approach to Classical Education. There are a couple of things Dr Perrin says that make me trust I am getting a good product; first of all he quotes dear ol’ G.K. Chesterton so that puts him in my good books and secondly he stocks a CD of Dorothy Sayers The Lost Tools of Learning

UnbenanntThere’s also HEADVENTURE LAND which the children love. This is a great free resource with videos and games to help revise or are simply a break from the usual course books.

They have also launched Plum Tree Books with a plan to make them bilingual English-Spanish and English-Latin. Hopefully they plan some English-Greek as well.

So far I have bought Latin, Spanish and Greek resources. They were well written with DVD lessons aimed at the children so we can watch them together and learn together. There are games and just a generally fun approach that doesn’t talk down at the children, but isn’t all stiff and dry or “beige”. I have to say that having children who are enjoying what they are learning makes a home ed mother’s life much, much easier.

In Latin there is the choice of Classical or Ecclesiastical pronunciation. We’ve chosen to go with the Ecclesiastical because it fits with Church stuff.

This Classical Educator site has more resources to help remind us why we are doing this.

I haven’t bought the God Great Covenant books (yet). We have enough resources for Scripture, Catechism, Sacraments and Saints study. Avila is having a go with the free pdf first chapters and then I might consider it again.

One other note, while I’m considering God’s Great Cov. The illustrations are pretty good. There’s not a whole lot of them, which I personally prefer and they aren’t all sugary-sloppy. I just can’t stand cutsie-wootsie pictures in religious ed. When I worked with autistic children they always went for the realistic illustrations or the Eastern Rite iconographical approach over the cutsie-cartoon and I think those kind of pictures are much better especially for visual learners. (Seton homeschool materials are very good for this sticking to fine art and well done stained glass windows). If you have children on the spectrum or who are visual learners this might be worth knowing about the CAP resources.

I’d really like a good child friendly early Church Fathers resource…but I digress.

One other thing to note for anyone out there who is a chronically ill parent home educating. As all these resources come with DVD and CD support you can sit there in crash, voiceless, breathless and blue and it won’t matter a bit because Dr. Perrin and his team will teach them. Just get yourself a cuppa and wheeze quietly in the corner. All will be well.

I have written this review simply because I think Classical Academic Press are very good at what they do and because my children (aged 10, 8 and 6) enjoy learning with their stuff.

It’s time to stop annoying my children.

A few things have happened this last week or so that have conspired to make me stand back and realise that it is time I stopped annoying my children. (Well, perhaps not completely…but…)

The first two things that happened were my oldest daughter went to stay with a friend for a couple of days and a friend of mine was writing an essay on the subject of “Loss” as part of her NCT training.

Iona, going away for a couple of days in no way bothered me at all. As a mother, knowing where my daughter is/was I was relaxed. It didn’t occur to me that the same wasn’t true of her.  Meanwhile my friend’s battle with her personal fears about losing a child, or anyone she loves, particularly if it was sudden, as she wrote her essay had also surprised me. I hadn’t known she struggled with this fear. I don’t think this is an irrational fear, a lot of people go through it and often, as in my friend’s case, it is rooted in a soul wrenching event from the past. Taking the opportunity to face it through the essay showed real courage. Most people – especially British people I think- prefer to duck these issues.

So, why did these two things conspire to make me think about my own behaviour?

Well, Iona came home with her friend and I was sitting there unable to breathe. I’d had the day to myself as Heleyna’s godmother had taken the children shopping and brought them home with lots of new clothes. I had decided to use the quiet to have a shower, only I couldn’t make it upstairs, so I gave up.

I had already been to the doc as an emergency a few days before and had been booked in forrenal and cardio bloods in another three days so I got it into my head that I could hold out to then and see a doc when I went for bloods. Yes, I was being utterly irrational. I had allowed my hatred of going to the doctors to over-ride any good sense I might have.

My daughter was cross. She put her foot down and organised me another emergency appt. She called the taxi and asked her friend to stay with the children.

Off we went. Then she had to arrange for my son and daughter-in-law to take over from her friend while she stayed with me at the docs as I was on the nebuliser. To be honest, I felt so ill, but I was squirming with embarrassment that Alex and Anna had to come over for the children. Why? I have no idea. It’s not like they would resent having to help out.

But this is one of the reasons I try and avoid doctors. I have to struggle with a taxi and alarmed drivers who prefer their fares to be breathing properly it seems, and someone has to be there to take care of the younger ones. It might not seem like much; but when you are very ill and have brain=fog to boot, it feels like a massive legistical nightmare.

Iona then said something, that right then, I didn’t really appreciate. She said she knew she would face a problem when she got home because I was just finishing the steroids before she left and they weren’t helping. A while later I realised, that instead of having a great, relaxed time with her friend, she was thinking about what she would face from her recalcitrant sicko mother when she got home.

And then it occured to me that the reason it hits the fan so often is because I keep thinking I don’t need to go to the doctor. And the reason I keep thinking that is because I HATE going, not because I genuinely think I don’t need to go.

There are many and varied reasons why I try to avoid doctors, but this is still no excuse for putting my children through it, just because I can be a stubborn cuss. So my Spring resolution is that I will attend medical appointments when I need to rather than wait so long I have to be shipped in as an emergency. I will do this. Honestly…no, honestly I will.

Book Basket; kids kindle and hardcopy reading.

books basketRonan got a Kindle for his birthday and he loves it. I love the fact that both he and Avila will spend quiet time reading, (Avila has my old Kindle) often with Profiterole and Cecily on their laps (Prof and Ces are the guinea pigs).

I had bought some books for the kids Kindles and a friend gave Ronan some money towards more books.

He has read the first two books in Meriol Trevors Letzenstein Chronicles. With the money from J N P I’ve  bought the third and fourth books in the series as he has requested.

He’s reading The Mitchells at the moment and says it’s good. I think I got it as a freebie some time ago.

Avila has been reading Alvin’s Secret Code and would like some more of those books. She’s reading aloud (to me) Children of the New Forest which is certainly stretching her vocabulary.

She’s also read Five Children and It

We don’t have a book basket this week but Ronan was reading St Francis of Assisi which is a book I bought for Alex for his Confirmation as he took that name.

Also they’ve been reading Marguerite Makes a Book

I do love the fact that both Ronan and Avila love to read. I hope I can encourage them to read good stuff and so grow with their reading. I don’t buy into the idea that all books are good and all screens are bad. That simply isn’t true. Neither do I believe that all old books are good and modern ones are bad. If that were the case Charlotte Mason would not have needed to warn parents against exposing their children to “twaddle”. It is sad that perhaps we can say the newer versions of twaddle are more poisonous than the old versions, but I think as parents we have to be cautious in all the stuff we expose our children to.

There’s plenty of really good books out there, especially once the children have hit a stage where they can read fluently.

Heleyna is reading some of the Oxford Owl books as part of her reading.

She loves it when Avila reads Winnie the Pooh and from me she always chooses Sheepford and Oxley (bk 1)  As Classical Academic Press are  promising bilingual versions I will hang on before buying more.

The other books she’s had out a few times is Our Lady of Guadalupe pop up book. She and her friends seem to love it.

Ronan has been reading the beautifully illustrated Gregor Mendel; the Friar Who Grew Peas

I like the way the children are able to mix happily between ebooks and hardcopy.

Meanwhile I am a Kindle only reader these days. I’ve just finished re-reading Marcus Grodi’s first novel How Firm and Foundation and I’m on to his next one Pillar and Bulwark I have the first one in hard copy but I’ve rebought it for Kindle and don’t mind as I know a lot of Marcus’ work is supporting those who in coming Home to the Catholic Church have lost everything; job home and sometimes a big chunk of their family and friends.

And for lighter reading I’m reading the Odd Thomas books by Dean Koontz

I am also slowly pre-reading The Mystery of the Periodic Table with a view to planning some lessons around it.

Also reading A Father’s Tale by Michael O’Brien

Iona is reading some Raffles books (in hardcopy) but the link is for the free ebooks

The Deacon brought me Holy Communion yesterday, and we gor talking about the joy of books

Is that a lapbook I see before me. the glue stick toward my hand?

Come, let me make thee! …or not.

P1020470The temptation towards lapbooking is creeping up on me again and yet I have had a rather love-hate relationship with lapbooks over the years.

On the one hand we’ve enjoyed making them and there’s lots of fine motor skill practice for the younger ones in cutting and gluing, but on the other hand I always get a bit depressed at the wonderfully, neatly produced wonder-lapbooks you see online compared to the stuff we always end up making.

I also fret about the time they take to make and whether the children are actually learning anything from them. But they were younger then and perhaps its time to reintroduce lapbooking with a Montessori twist for Heleyna as a way of repeating work for building her memory.

In the past the whole process of making the lapbooks seemed to take forever and then we had the problem of whether to keep them or not and whether, after so much work, they were ever referred to again.  But I realise that they make a great way to return to a subject without making it obvious that we need to go back over something.

I’ve started with a “phonics” lapbook where there are practice pieces for reading and writing phonic sounds and words. As a lapbook that will get used over and over, I think it will be worth the effort.

One of the other things that has me reaching for the folder and the glue stick is that a lot of Montessori free printables are just right for lapbooking.

Homeschool help free lapbook stuff

dynamic 2 moms has some lapbooking stuff


Me/cfs on The Lens radio

David Singer has four short but packed episodes for you to listen to on the scandal of ME/Cfs treatment from the FDA and CDC. 

If you have ME or know and love someone who has it – take a few minutes to listen.

Don’t know if he’ll add more later.