Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Advent Printables

Now that they have started playing Christmas music already on one of our radio stations, I'm stepping up my efforts to keep Christmas in its proper place--after Advent!   So I've been looking for some fun activities and printables that my kids and I can do leading up to Christmas.  Thought I'd share some of the things I've found.  These activities are for a variety of ages and would be appropriately used at home or in a catechism class. They focus on Advent and preparing for Jesus' birth and do not include materials about saints, the Nativity, etc.

Raising and Teaching Little Saints:  Advent Activities for Kids
This free 25-page .pdf document includes coloring pages, a "write a letter to Baby Jesus" fill in form, description of the "Christkindl" Activity, an Advent Prayer Chain, Advent vocabulary flash cards, directions on creating a "Jesus Manger," simple puzzles with pictures of the Holy Family, and more.

1+1+1=1 Nativity Preschool Pack
Hours of fun for the younger ones, with Nativity-themed printables that teach counting, the alphabet, shapes, colors and more. 

Spell Out Loud's Advent Chain with the Names of Jesus
This would be a great hands-on activity after giving the CGS' meditation on the names of Jesus.

Family Centered's O Antiphons Coloring Pages

Ministry to Children's Advent Coloring Pages
Six different pages.  I especially like the "Advent is Here!" page.  I'm toying with the idea of  copying it on to vellum paper and giving my daughter water-color pencils to color it in, perhaps creating a stained glass window effect that would look nice in one of our home's hard-to-decorate transom windows!

Activity Village's Advent Printables
Some of these are a bit more secular, but I especially like the "Good Deed Chart," the Advent worksheet, the Advent wreath cut-n-stick activity and the Advent wreath writing activity.

Family Feast and Feria's "My Little Advent" Printable
We've used this for the last couple of years as an addition to our morning prayer (before we begin our school day.)  My daughter really looks forward to flipping to the new page every day.

Family Feast and Feria's Advent Calendar Printable

Catholic Mom has a variety of Advent printables including  and advent bingo, crossword puzzles, coloring pages, lesson plans and much, much more.

The Catholic Toolbox has an advent wreath file folder game, lesson plans for preschool through first grade catechism classes (with printables), lapbook resources and more. Some of these are links to other websites.

DLTK-Bible has "The Christmas Story Advent Coloring Book."

Super Coloring Pages has a nice silhouette image of Mary and Joseph that is a coloring page, but I could envision it for a number of silhouette craft projects, too.

Making Music Praying Twice has a "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" coloring sheet

The Apostleship of Prayer has a coloring sheet of Mary and Joseph heading to Bethlehem

Become What Your Are has links to wreath coloring pages.  Check out their links for December saint coloring pages, Nativity puppets and feltboard figures and much more.

Shower of Roses lists links for coloring pages that match the symbols of the Jesse Tree.

ThatResourceSite has an F3 (folder) activity to help kids prepare for the nativity of Our Lord, an Advent wreath project,  Little Lesson of Advent Stories   Color the Seasons Liturgical Calendar Coloring Sheet,  and much more.  Take some time to browse around this helpful site!

Loyola Press has lesson plans with a variety of hands-on activities like  an Isaiah bookmark, an Advent observance banner, an Advent tree of Kindness and more.

If you know of any other resources, please let me know and I'll add them to this list.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Nutcracker Ballet curriculum

Hi everyone,

I'm over at Guiding Masha today, writing a post filled with resources and ideas for a unit study on the Nutcracker Suite ballet.  If you're looking for something fun to do during December, stop by and check out the article here.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Book Review: Catholic and Confident

The Catholic Company kindly offered me an opportunity to read and review the book Catholic and Confident by Henry Libersat.  Thought I would share my review here for others who want to feel more confident when talking about their Catholic faith. 


“Have Catholics been saved?” “Why do you worship Mary?“ “Why do you pray to the saints?“ “Why do you call your ministers “Father?"

If you are a Catholic who has non-Catholic family and friends, you may have been asked these and many other questions. Explaining our faith isn’t easy for most Catholics, who haven’t been trained to evangelize like some of our protestant brothers and sisters. We may feel unsure of what to say and how to adequately describe our faith. Henry Libersat’s Catholic and Confident: Simple Ways to Share Your Faith can help.

Libersat, who has a master’s degree in pastoral ministry and is a permanent deacon in the Orlando diocese, shares ideas on how we can embrace Pope John Paul II’s call to spread the Good News to everyone we meet. This 93-page book shows Catholics that they need not to be afraid or intimidated about sharing their faith if they let the Holy Spirit guide them.

He urges the reader to start his journey by recognizing God’s call to evangelize, and then preparing oneself for the task by reading scripture regularly, making prayer a priority in your everyday life and by attending Mass frequently. Really knowing your faith is key to confidently sharing it with others, according to Libersat.

He then makes the process less intimidating by suggesting that we look for simple ways to evangelize. Sometimes this means being a “wordless witness." “If you are holy and happy, people will know you are somehow different, and they will want what you have," Libersat states. He gives an example of a husband who realized that his wife’s serenity was based in her Christian beliefs. His yearning for similar demeanor propelled him to seek a fuller relationship with God.

Sharing your story can also be a powerful evangelical tool, according to Libersat. He gives five helpful hints on how to develop and organize your story in a way that will be meaningful to others, such as describing your life before you came to know the Lord and how you changed emotionally after Christ became an important part of your life. I especially liked his examples explaining how others shared their stories in an unassuming way during their everyday encounters with others who had false impressions about the Catholic faith.

Libersat’s chapter on evangelizing to your family is especially helpful to those who have children who are lukewarm in their faith or feel alienated by the church. He focuses on teens and young adults who may be questioning their faith. His advice suggests building a relationship based on compassion and understanding, which will help you and your teen weather his stormy years of self discovery. Libersat states that your strong faith provides a safe environment for teens and young adults while they maneuver the difficult years.

He also includes a chapter about the ministerial gifts of the Holy Spirit and how you can match those gifts with your own talents, then use them to serve your parish and community.

Each chapter ends with two or three questions prompting the reader to reflect and take action. The questions make this a good book for Catholic book clubs or Bible study groups.

He finishes the book with a list of Catholic evangelical ministries and organizations that can help you grow in your faith while sharing the Good News with others.

I think this is a very helpful book for anyone who wants to feel more confident when she talks about her Catholic faith. Libersat’s stories will inspire you while his easy-to-implement suggestions will make you feel like “I can tell others about my faith!” It would also be a good stocking stuffer for a Catholic friend or family member.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Catholic and Confident. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your family Advent activities and supplies this year, such as Advent wreaths and calendars for kids, as well as Christmas decorations such as nativity scene sets and religious Christmas gifts for the whole family. 

An interactive Rosary Decade in English and Latin

I'm a bit late in posting this, but I wanted to share an activity we did during October, which is the month dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary.

I was looking for a hands-on, interactive way to teach my daughter the rosary.  She knows it in a rote sort of way, just by praying the rosary with our rosary group before Friday Mass.  But I wanted her to better understand the various mysteries.  We are also learning to say the Doxology (Glory Be) and Hail Mary in Latin, so I wanted to give us another chance to practice saying them.

I did a bit of online research and discovered that Kimberlee, of Pondered in My Heart, taught her girls to pray the Rosary using crocheted red and white roses to count the Our Fathers and Hail Marys. What a marvelous idea!  However, I don't crochet, so I had to adapt her idea a bit.  Instead, I used high quality silk red and white flowers purchased from Michaels.  (I used high quality silk flowers because I subtly wanted to emphasize the importance and beauty of praying the rosary.  These are realistic looking silk flowers with drops of "dew" on them.)

Then I gathered together a few other things, including Father Lovasik's Scriptural Rosary for Children, 
two rosaries, a small vase, a prayer card with the words of the Hail Mary in Latin, and a statute of the Blessed Mother.  I put them all in a basket and stored them near our kitchen table where we do our schoolwork.  Here's a photo:

Each morning we begin our school day with a decade of the Rosary.  I read one of the Mysteries from the Scriptural Rosary book.  We then pray the Our Father and my daughter puts the white rose in the vase. We then pray a Hail Mary in English, and my daughter puts a red rose in the vase.  The next Hail Mary is in Latin, and she puts another red rose in the vase. We continue, alternately saying the Hail Mary in English or Latin, until all 10 Hail Marys are completed.  My daughter also likes to count the beads on the rosary at the same time. Here's what it looks like when all 11 prayers are finished:

After we've finished the decade, we'll say the Doxology in Latin and the Fatima Prayer, then do the Sign of the Cross (also in Latin, since we learned that a couple of months ago.) We finish our morning prayer by taking a few moments to discuss and ponder the day's mystery.

She's really enjoyed learning to pray the Rosary this way, and I've noticed how much more confidently she says the Hail Mary in Latin!   I look forward to using this method periodically throughout the year, especially when we are learning the Our Father and other rosary prayers in Latin.

Do you have an interactive way to teach the Rosary to your children?  I would love to hear about it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Study

Lately, I've been thinking about some fun things that my kids and I can do over the holidays.  Things that will reinforce the basics of our faith yet not seem to much like school or catechism class. I've been toying with the idea of learning more about the 12 Days of Christmas song.  I've compiled some resources and activity ideas on my homeschool blog, Guiding Masha.  If you are also looking for "12 Day" theme activities, please skip over to the blog and check it out here. 

Looking for memorable ways to celebrate Advent and Christmas?  Check out Sheila's "Exploring Advent and Christmas" link party at her Explore and Express blog.  

Quick thanksgiving hostess gift ideas

Hi everyone,

I'm over at one of my other blogs, the CreativeGiftGiver, sharing three super quick thanksgiving hostess gift ideas.  Please check it out   here

I'll be adding a couple of posts to this blog soon, too.  Want to share a special way that we've been learning to pray the rosary and some ideas for advent.

See you soon!