Month: November 2011

Art week 11 at Catholic Schoolhouse

Homeschool Ideas

Art: Quilting. Several students returned this week with finished nine-patch blocks! They worked on reinforcing their seams to get rid of any holes while the rest of the class continued to work on their blocks. I have been most impressed by two of our younger students in the class (ages 4 1/2 and 5 1/2). They had almost finished their block before we left today, and they were sewing very nicely. Hopefully, this is encouragement for some of our older students.

What is the benefit in sewing a nine-patch block? Firstly, the students have been so excited about this project because they realize this is not just an activity to keep them busy, but they are making a real thing, a blanket to be used by some child somewhere. They look at the seams in their clothes and realize they, too, can make clothes, socks, dresses for dolls, even priestly vestments! They are learning a real job. This means a great deal to young children (to learn to do adult things and to learn to build useful things), and this gift of the child should never be devalued, lest they stop wishing to become adults. To help them understand more fully the nature of their job, I recommend reminding your children that needles are tools and as such should be treated with special care. They would never play with Dad’s chainsaw! The same rule applies to very small tools.

Secondly, the hand-eye coordination that is needed to sew helps the child with the virtues of patience and fortitude. This is a difficult task especially for our youngest students, and they must sit quietly and focus on their task if they wish to do well.

Finally, for those of you who prefer the mundane argument over one of idealism, sewing will also improve the fine motor skills needed for writing.

Completed 9-Patch Blocks are due next week.

Our Jesse Tree Bible Readings

Homeschool Ideas
Here are the readings we use for our Jesse Tree. I prefer this set of readings for its focus on the Old Testament prophecies of Christ’s coming and birth as well as on man’s need for a savior. They make for a good reflection as process toward Christmas. Some of the readings are a bit long for toddlers, so I let them roam around the living room during the readings if necessary to maintain a respectful silence.
  • For our evening readings, we use the Ignatius Press The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Edition. Every day Bible reading for the children comes from the above children’s Bible.

    1. Gen. 1:24-28

  • 2. Gen. 3:1-24
  • 3. Gen. 6:11-22; 8:6-12; 9:11-17
  • 4. Gen. 12:1-7; 13:2-18; 18:1
  • 5. Gen. 18:1-15; 21:1-7
  • 6. Gen. 22: 1-14
  • 7. Gen. 27:41- 28:22
  • 8. Gen. 37:1-36
  • 9. Exodus 3:1-10
  • 10. Exodus 15: 19-21
  • 11. 1 Samuel 3: 1-21
  • 12. Isaiah 11:1
  • 13. 1 Samuel 16:14-23
  • 14. 1 Kings 3:3-28
  • 15. Isaiah 6:1-8
  • 16. Jeremiah 31:31-34
  • 17. Hebrews 1:1-14
  • 18. Malachi 3:1-4
  • 19. Luke 1:39-45
  • 20. Luke 1:26-35
  • 21. Matthew 3:1-6
  • 22. Matthew 1:18-25
  • 23. Matthew 2:1-12
  • 24. Luke 2:1-7

Note that the numbers correspond with numbers on our Free Jesse Tree Ornaments Template and instructions for the ornaments are here.

If I recall correctly, the above suggested readings can also be found similarly presented in The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days, and Every Day

FREE Jesse Tree Ornaments download

Coloring PagesHomeschool Ideas
Inside each box is a homemade ornament for the Jesse tree. As we count down to Christmas, we open each drawer and turn it around to slowly reveal a Christmas scene.

As mentioned in a previous post, we have a modified advent calendar that serves as our Jesse Tree Ornaments’ storage-case.

My daughter just made the ornaments today, and I made an extra template to share online! Here is the free download: Jesse Tree Ornaments to Color.

How to make the ornaments:

  1. Color the pictures.
  2. Cut the pictures out.
  3. Glue the pictures to construction paper with a glue stick.
  4. Cut out the ornaments.
  5. Punch a hole in the ornaments.
  6. Tie thread through the hole.
We chose green construction paper for “leaves”.
The ornaments are small enough to fit into our little advent calendar drawers.



Our Best Chicken Soup Biscuits Yet!

RecipesThe Rolling Acres Farm

During Advent, we eat a great amount of soup and biscuits…okay, the entire year we eat a great amount of soup and biscuits! This gives us plenty of opportunity to try new recipes and additives (parmesan, parsley, etc.). The recipe below is a new favorite, though, I must warn you that I do not measure anything when making biscuits, so the measurements given are “estimates” in the broadest sense of the word. Good luck!

  • 1 1/2 c. wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c corn meal
  • 2 T ground flax seed
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan
  • 1/4 c. parsley
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 c plain yogurt
  • a splash of milk

Mix all dry ingredients together, then stir in wet ingredients (just enough to moisten everything). Spoon batter onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. These are best hot and with chicken noodle soup, so try not to have left-overs!

A Home-Made Jesse Tree Advent Calendar Takes Time

Homeschool IdeasThe Rolling Acres Farm

During Advent, all that you will find in the way of decorations in our house is: an advent wreath, a Jesse tree, and a modified advent calendar. The advent wreath we make anew each year, and Papa blesses it for the season. The Jesse tree consists of several sticks pierced into a Styrofoam circle with hot glue. The modified advent calendar? Now, that has a story.

Four years ago after child #1, I bought a Starbucks advent calendar for $2 from a yard sale with the thought of turning it into a Jesse tree advent calendar. This, of course, did not happen over night. After child #2, I finally started painting, but I made the mistake of starting during Advent. After child #3, I finished the painting and wrote the Bible verses. This year after child #4, we will finally make the miniature Jesse tree ornaments to go inside each box.

This has certainly been a long project, but the entire family has been involved as we have grown one child at a time, and just the making of this tradition has been memorable!

Some Money-Saving Tips for the Grocery Bill

The Rolling Acres Farm

Some people have asked us what we do to save money. What are some tricks to keeping the grocery bill down, for example? Here are some tried and true money-savers!

  • Wash and reuse plastic, zip-lock bags.
  • Use tin foil as often as you are sanitarily able.
  • Do not buy plastic wrap. You rill find that plastic grocery bags have many uses, including being placed over rising bread dough.
  • Make all your meals from scratch. Buying bulk flour, potatoes, rice, and beans can save hundreds of dollars per year. Of course, this means no quick meals from a box, but the time used is money saved, and the food will be healthier for you as well.
  • Eat rice and beans at least once per week.
  • Do not use spray-butter (PAM). Just rub real butter on your pans!
  • Garden!

A Quilting Kit: Could be a fun gift idea for nieces…and nephews!

Homeschool Ideas

What is in our quilting kits at Catholic Schoolhouse?

  • 9 pre-cut fabric squares
  • large eye-hole hand needle
  • fabric holder for needle
  • 1 spool of thread (25 yards)
  • instructions

All materials were bought locally. The needles came in packs of 12 with a variety of sizes. The largest needles were given to the youngest boys and girls. For thread, I bought two “sewing traveling kits”, each containing 12 spools of thread. This was the cheapest option. The patches were made from scratch fabric that I had lying around. The student’s name was taped to a plastic zip-lock bag for keeping materials separate at home as well as in Catholic Schoolhouse.

All together for 24 students the cost came to $6!

Preparing For Advent Before It Begins

Homeschool Ideas

Advent is one of our favorite liturgical seasons and our preparations have begun! This week we must make the advent wreath before Sunday, so we have bought candles from the Church, gathered greenery from the yard, and collected some odds and ends, such as pine combs. We have a candle ring which we use each year for the wreath and candles.

The liturgy of our home will center around this wreath during the time of Advent. Each night we light the appropriate candle, read that day’s Jesse Tree passage from the Bible (the little ones hang the Jesse tree ornament), and sing Veni, veni, Emanuel. Then, one of the children blows out the candles. They get to take turns doing this important job throughout the week. I can hardly wait to begin this tradition again!

Planting Bulbs Before Another Snow

Homeschool Ideas

Even in November we can find something to do in the garden! This week we worked on cleaning the garden beds before winter, throwing the now frost-bitten and dead plants into the compost bin. We also found some time to plant tulip and iris bulbs. This was a great opportunity to talk to the children about the flowers that will emerge from these “seeds” later in the spring. For older children, I would even recommend a bulb dissection. For ideas, go to Enchanted Learning.

Art and Science, week 10 at Catholic Schoolhouse

Homeschool Ideas
Daughter, age 4 sewing her first patches

Art: Quilting Like the Pioneers. The next three weeks in art class, we will be working on a 9 Patch Block quilt. Each child received a quilting kit with instructions, and they were introduced today to sewing basics and to quilting. We discussed how the pioneers made their quilts from left over fabric and from old clothes. The children are sewing the quilt by hand just like the pioneers! This activity was a huge hit. All of the children worked very diligently and were excited to finish their blocks at home. Although I have set aside 3 weeks for quilting, I have a hunch most children will finish within two weeks! Here are some links to help you, parents, as you help your children:

Science: Making Rain. This week we learned about the water cycle: evaporation, condensation, precipitation. We used a large glass jar filled partly with hot water and a large glass bowl filled with ice to create “rain”. We also put food coloring in the water to see if the condensed water would contain color. The rest of the time we talked about different ways of filtering water, so we can drink it. A great day!