Homegrown Catholics is an excellent resource for religious education teachers, homeschoolers, and parents. Here you'll see all my lesson plans and project ideas on many Catholic subjects as well as school topics. If you would like to read about my adventures as a Home Educator, click on the St. Brigid's Academy tab above.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Planning Our Home Life

GOOD MORNING! I like to start my day with prayer, stretch a bit, getting myself ready, grab that cup of coffee and have a moment to myself. After that, the kids get up and THAT is when we either get a good or bad start to the morning. We've trained ourselves fairly well to follow a few steps to set the mood. Sometimes being a homeschooler, not being on the rest of the world's schedule, involves several pajama days, or the occasional "whatever" days. Most of the time it helps us set the mood for a productive day if we took the time to get ready for it. There are a few things we've implemented to make smooth transitions; some are habits and some are charts. I LOVE LISTS! For us, this seems essential to the workings of our large family life.
Every morning my kids wake up to this COMMAND CENTER that reminds them what they need to today. If there is a special occasion or event I write that on the blackboard. The prayer and list is laminated for longevity and to check off with a dry erase marker. The lists I have can be modified for one person with days of the week, or a family with initials above the column. It's right outside the shared bathroom, so I know they have time to mull it over while they are waiting for their turn.


I found that adding the morning offering or other prayers in places my children frequent has helped with memorization. I have kids that are forgetful about glasses, deodorant, and making their beds. For them, I have adapted this list to include those items. I even changed it up to say "Make Someone Else's Bed" to teach charity and working together to make our house a home.  When we get to the afternoon, I get some wanderers back upstairs by the bedrooms. I hope this list reminds them what they needed to accomplish today. Our children have developed great habits in self care and accountability using this list.
Because we HOME EDUCATE our children with a Charlotte Mason philosophy, it is important that we add structure to our day to introduce the children to a wealth of information and activities. However, we are flexible knowing that we set the pace and this tool is to help, not to rule, our home. If you home educate your children, you are the boss and learning can happen in so many ways! If you can't comprehend a busy day today, slow it down and read a good book out loud, visit a friend or relative, or take a spontaneous field trip. We only have today. They're only kids once. It's going to be okay.
"When we remember that planning is guessing, we keep our plans in their place. We remember that curriculum and lesson plans are only meant to be tools, wielded by us but not to rule over us." - Sarah Mackenzie {article here}

If you're not familiar with CREATING SPREADSHEETS, I highly recommend it. It's my sanity, making it easy to edit and reprint as needed. Each child receives a copy in their planners. Many of the scheduled subjects are enriched with time for reading living books, educational activities, and paired student projects. We have short spurts to keep everyone energized, rotating reading and hands on lessons. This schedule includes my 2 high schoolers, 2 middle schoolers, and 2 kindergartners. The baby will have our full attention in the morning with group time, and will nap in the afternoon when I'm needed by the others.

NORMALIZE FAMILY PRAYER TIME: You may notice I did add in family prayer time, because if you don't schedule it or set an alarm, you'll probably forget in the midst of a busy day. We have an alarm for 3pm Divine Mercy Chaplet and 8pm for Family Rosary. My tip is to use the Relevant Radio app for the 7 minute chaplet, and turn on a favorite YouTube reciting of the rosary with images that help your children focus. If it is not part of your routine now, start with one day a week or one decade a day. Small efforts are better than none.

After lunch we each have CHORES TO COMPLETE. This chart helps us know what is expected of us every day. The tasks I've set are what I think to be the essentials of keeping a tidy home. With a large family, we pair older kids with younger kids on similar chores for training and support. However, if there is conflict between two children, we will pair them up for a week to teach the skills of working together and getting along peacefully. This "punishment" has been an immense blessing in our home. It's the year round responsibility of the parents to instill virtues, discipline, self control and a sense of natural consequences. I've included a blank version for you to print and jot down what load you feel is necessary to share with the family. I include tasks for everyone ages 2+.
There are days that no matter how we've planned, prepared, and discussed expectations - CHAOS DOES BREAK LOOSE, children refuse to help, someone gets sick, etc. When the crabbiness, laziness or defiance increases, more often than removing a privilege, we tend to add chores for that person's week. That may be doing the chore they did poorly for the entire week, taking over someone's chore, or adding something not on the list.

This is when they choose from THE CHORE JAR. 

Our children have daily chores, but if they misbehave they grab a bonus chore from The Chore Jar.  It's a win-win, either I get kids more inclined to behave and participate, or I get a tidy house.  The jar is filled with popsicle sticks that have all those things that no one wants to do, or maybe happen a few times a year. I am so grateful to my friend who introduced this to me. 

Another big question people ask me is HOW DO I FEED MY LARGE FAMILY? The simple answer is that I MEAL PLAN. It's just a few simple steps. 

1. Write down what food you have in every fridge, pantry, freezer. I've often taken a picture for my smartphone so I can refer to it when planning and shopping.

2. Pull out the recipe box or old lists, open your food Pinterest board, then decide what meals are possible with what you already have. This will help you avoid wastefulness.

3. Write a list of what you need to complete a meal, and any ingredients to make more meals to last a week or two (as you prefer). I find that I shop for fresh food meals on week one, then week two is usually things from the freezer. More than two weeks is crazy, because you WILL end up with something in the garbage. If you can last longer, you might want to take a closer look at what kind of food your putting into those precious tummies. 
I like my reminder app for making checklists. My grocery list is all items I buy,  and I simply check or uncheck as needed. A reliable and reusable list. I uncheck when I make my menu, and I check it as I put it in my cart. I organize it based on where it is in the store. 

4. Type or write a menu either by the day you plan to eat it, or categorized by meal time. I find it SO much easier to sort by meal type. Then it's a list to choose from, with the make ASAP items starred and at the top. Sometimes we're just not in the mood for Tacos on Tuesday. ;-)

5. Post the Menu for everyone to see. Everyone will know what is available or "What's for Dinner?"

*KIDS IN THE KITCHEN: Our family has decided that they want to learn more about cooking. Each child is assigned a kitchen day (on the chore chart) for helping me. They learn to make a part or all of the meals. It has been very successful. Consider that my 10 year old Jonathan's day is Thursdays, so he'll probably be making PB & J sandwiches for breakfast, chicken nuggets and fries for lunch, and something else simple for supper. Little Molly and David are learning to chop, measure, spread, stir and mix so they help when they want to help. Our 12 year old Sabrina wants to own a bakery, so dessert night is all hers. While 15 year old Stanley might make manly food like scrambled eggs, tacos, and burgers on the grill. Then 17 year old Mikayla who is taking a Kitchen Chemistry & Culinary Arts Class will make a Eggs Benedict, Hawaiian Salad, and Korean BBQ Pork Chops with green beans and rice. It is really fun to see what they create and how much you DON'T have to do!

*THEMED FOOD DAYS: Taco Tuesday, Fish Friday, Slowcooker Saturday.  Some families find it helpful to have certain themes or ethnic foods on certain days. Many Catholic families adhere to the tradition of not eating flesh meats on Fridays year round. Find your groove and refine it!

*BUDGET, well... I can't help you with that. It's a weekly struggle for us too because we have food sensitivities, food allergies, picky eaters, and special diets for almost everyone. It can be costly buying in bulk for 9, buying organic, finding substitutes, etc. The best suggestion is to set a budget with your spouse for groceries, eating out, and special treats. Sometimes you have to give a little and reevaluate to make it work. We found by giving up flavored drinks, we could save a few thousand a year! Stick to the essentials: Water, Meat, Vegetables, and possibly some fruit and grains for a treat.


I hope this post has been inspiring as you plan out your family life. Before I got into the thick of motherhood and homeschooling, I wished I could peer into the life of other families to gather all the best tips. It has been such a blessing to witness to and inspire others through this Homegrown Catholics blog and Facebook posts over the years. I've enjoyed reading so many I've found. It's been a window into the reality that we're all doing our best. Sometimes the window is smudged with fingerprints, sometimes the curtains are closed, and we often skip sharing the hard days.  Don't forget, it is what you make it, and God WILL take care of the rest.

For those days it feels like you're not sure you can handle what comes your way:

Jesus, help me come to you in all decisions. Build my courage to trust in you completely. Show me how to do your will and let go of mine. Help me sort through ways I approach my life's choices so I can better live for you. Remind me that even in my difficulties, you are there sanctifying me. Amen
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." - John 12"23-27

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Summer of Family Fun

A Summer of Family Fun. Dedicated to our #Adventures4Eddie

This post is all about Summer Fun with your family! There are a few highlighted Saints to join you on your journey. I'm not sure I could cram this all into one summer, but instead I plan to come back to this list year after year to find a new adventure. Please comment with any links or ideas you have, too! I want this list to grow and be shared, because we're all in this together.
We have 8 children, currently ranging from ages 5 months to 17 years old, so it was important that the activities incorporated all age groups. In 2017 we lost our 5yo son, Eddie, in a tragic back yard accident. He loved being outside, creating, and spending time with the family. He often reminded us in his own way when it was time to step away from our tasks and just have fun. Since then we've gained a renewed spirit about letting go of the excuses and fears that keep us from having adventures with our children. We're visiting new places, trying new things, and continuing the focus on our faith and family - but with much more vigor than before. Sure, there are days I let the excuses be the reason we just stay at home without any pressure to go big, and that's good too. A good read-aloud, family rosary, card game, or a puzzle can satisfy our interests.
Every time I write up a list, lesson plan or take pictures of our family activities, I am thinking someone out there would enjoy this too. Thank you for your encouragement as you join the conversation with your comments. Check out all the ideas and lesson plans on this web page, and join my daily sharing of ideas and inspirations on  www.facebook.com/HomegrownCatholics .  You can follow our family's adventures on  FB Adventures4Eddie as well as the St Brigid's Academy blog  If you have 4 or more children and homeschool, join the conversation on our Facebook support group: Homeschooling a Largely Blessed Catholic Family .

I'm keeping things short - so I can get back to my family! I'm praying for you, dear families and friends, that your lives be full of JOY and ADVENTURE as you take this journey towards our eternal home.

- Blanket Fort Sleepover
- Family Bike Ride, check out a new trail
- Rent a Pontoon to cruise, fish or swim
- Go Geocaching!
- Visit a New Playground each week
- Attend your church summer camps
- Grandma's Day Camp
- Attend your Parish Festival & City Fun Days
- Visit a Theme Park
- Visit a Working Farm or Zoo
- Check out your local movie theater's summer kids club
- Attend a Parade, or better yet be in one!
- Visit your local Farmers’ Market. Check if they have a kids program.
- Any road trips must include sing-a-longs, car games, audio books, and roadside picnics and pitstops!
- Create Chalk Villages and Homes
- Raise Butterflies
- Build a Puzzle together
- Frisbee Golf
- Host a Teen Extreme Game Day
- Mini Golf
- Make a Home Video or Commericial
- Field Sports
- Relay Races
- Play Flashlight Tag
- Get Artsy


*Garage Sale Challenge: Everyone gets $10 to spend. Awards for Best Deal, Most Unique, Silliest Outfit/Costume, etc
*Photograph Scavenger Hunt: Capture a scene from a unique angle; a unique subject; or choose a theme (boredom busters, my city's highlights, sunrises, little & unnoticed, chores before & after). Share your collage!
*Fly Over My Favorite Place: Paint a morning or evening sky. Decoupage an image of a famous monument or place. Add a painted image of a hot air balloon. Paint or decoupage an image of you in the air balloon!
*Senior Moments: Design inspirational and colorful placemats to bring to a senior home. Choose a short story or selection of poetry to read aloud to seniors. Sing to them. Play chess, cards, help with crafts, etc. Whatever your talent, share it with the elderly.

We do this as part of our #Adventures4Eddie 
and you can see this, our story, and more activity ideas 
*Adventure Rocks: Paint Inspirational Rocks and leave them on trails, near geocaches, or at different places you visit.  (Tag your pictures with our hashtag!)

- Have afternoon tea with storytime.
- Library’s Summer Program
- Create a Lego Scene for each book you read. Photograph it.
- Create bookmarks using a cutout photo of yourself, friends or family.
- Find a new book at a thrift store, or library’s free shelf.
- Video chat with a friend, reading a book aloud to one another. Be dramatic!
- Memorize a Bible verse. Make a poster and hang it up where you’ll see it often.
- Draw the characters of a book that is not already illustrated.
- Host or Join a Book Club
- Redesign a book cover. Print and recover your book.
- Create "Blackout Poetry:" Photocopy a page of a book. Blackout words leaving only those that create a poem. Black out completely, or intertwine a corresponding image.
- Read to a sibling, friend, elderly, hospitalized, or a pet.
- Read one whole book of the Bible, or do a Bible Study.
- Pick a book of Saints and write a personal prayer, asking for the intercession of your favorite Saint.
 St. Jerome & St Catherine of Alexandria, Patron Saints of Librarians, Libraries, Teachers, Archivists

- Plant and Tend a Mary Garden of flowers
- Plant and Tend a food garden, learning about food preservation
- Take a barefoot beach walk
- Get a pedicure at home or a spa, or gift a pedicure to someone you love.
- Footprint painting
- Game: Find objects in a tub of Orbeez with your toes! Race a friend.
- Shopping with friends, find a unique/fun pair of socks!
- Go for a nature walk. Bring a journal and pencil along.
- Draw an architectural sketch of a space on grid paper, using your footsteps to measure it.
- Decorate flip flops with tying on fabric scraps.
- Join a summer track team.
- Nature Scavenger Hunt
- Build a Sandcastle
- Learn dance moves online or in a class
- Host a Field Day with friends

St. Servatus, Patron Saint of Feet
St. Christopher & St. Archangel Raphael, Patron Saints of Travelers

- Invite neighbor friends over to have a Driveway/Sidewalk Chalk-Fest. Eat popsicles and get creative! Watch “Sidewalk Artists” online to get inspired.
- Neighborhood Fun: 4-Square, Catch, Biking, Playground, Tag, Human Knot, Kickball…
- Setup a Neighborhood Picnic/Potluck
- When mowing the yard, offer to mow your neighbor’s lawn.
- Write a Pen Pal
- Offer summer babysitting service.
- Everyone enjoys a good Smore over a campfire!
^Click image to visit our homeschool blog

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

- Sew crafts for future gifts or donations
- Weave items from nature on a stick and string loom.
- Make Daisy Chains with dandelions, clover or other flowers.
- Sew your own clothes and accessories: skirt, dress, boxers, hair tie, bowtie, library tote, adventure satchel, makeup case…just to name a few ideas.
- Sew many ideas and patterns online. Visit www.pinterest.com/HGCatholics/needle-arts-for-kids/
- Embroider a set of dish towels or napkins
 St. Anne, Patron Saint of Housewives

- Build a: balance board, corn hole game, washer toss game, bike ramp, picnic table, lap desk, yard dice, mini golf course, a new invention.
- There are many Shop Class & Engineering ideas online. Start looking here www.pinterest.com/HGCatholics/shop-class/
- Learn woodworking in simple steps from peeling carrots, to carving soap blocks and creating stamps from potatoes, to whittling a walking stick, to cutting using a jigsaw and arm saw, and then onto bigger projects.
- Pick a few engineering projects to create using things around your home.

St. Joseph the Carpenter

- Homemade slip n slide using a large sheet of plastic, landscaping stakes. and a hose. Add soap to slicken the run.
- Make homemade popsicles! Our favorite silicone mold can be found here: Popsicle Mold Link
- Create a watercolor nature study of your favorite summer places
- Have a Squirt Gun Fight
- Fill waterguns with watercolors or watered-down tempura paint, and spray a canvas
- Have a rainy day spa day (inside or outside!)
- Have a carwash in your swimsuits
- Visit a local pool, lake, waterfall, river, waterpark or splashpad
- Go fishing, boating, canoing, or other watersports
- Blow bubbles, creating homemade wands
- Water Balloon Fight
- Run through your sprinklers 
St. Nicholas, Patron Saint of Sailors
St. Adjutor, Patron Saint of swimmers and boaters
Bl. Peter Gonzales, Patron of sailors

You can write out this list on your calendar (schedule in the fun), or perhaps create a Summer Countdown with a display like this:

Thank you for visiting my post. I hope to add to my growing list of family activties, so your comments are helpful. Check out all the ideas and lesson plans on this webpage, and join my daily sharing of ideas and inspirations on Facebook  www.facebook.com/HomegrownCatholics

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{Some suggestions have affiliated links. This supports my efforts, but does not cost you anything extra. I keep off annoying ads and instead add small fees for some of my printables.}

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Prayer Fasting Almsgiving

Prayer-Fast-Alms As Christians, we are asked to humbly give of ourselves to God's will for us. To repent and start anew, accepting his Mercy and sharing His love. We can continue to renew this Christian journey each Lent! For 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday it is tradition to build virtue by Praying, Fasting and Almsgiving. Pray-Fast-Alms Cards Some of us may need more specific ideas, or ideas that we can do together as a family for motivation. Each thing we do is a Sacrifice, meaning it isn't meant to be easy. It may be simple, but it is an true offering of our time, talents and treasures. If you don't find it challenging, perhaps you need to go beyond the basic task and give more, read more, volunteer more often, or take a lead role helping others be mindful of these opportunities. Pray-Fast-Alms CardsHere are 36 ideas you can print, laminate and display as you'd like. More than enough to choose at least one a week of each category - Prayer, Fasting and Giving Alms. I added a blank page to add your own, and you could make enough to choose one a day for all 40 Days! The entire list is available below for free, but follow the link for the cards to print.Pray-Fast-Alms Cards
These cards are included in my LENT ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES 27pg PDF FILE!

Laminate your set to use year after year. You can cross off what you've completed, or have children write on the blank cards.
Pray-Fast-Alms Cards Cut and pick them randomly from a jar. Punch holes in the tops to bind with a ring/string to flip through or to hang. Pray-Fast-Alms Cards We decided to hang them on Our Forever Tree in place of the Jesus Tree Cards. Our call to action this season includes scripture reading, but my kids need to get their hands dirty in the world. They need to interact with people in our community, our church and our extended family in new ways. I think this will be just the motivation they need. Pray-Fast-Alms Cards
These cards are included in my LENT ACTIVITIES FOR FAMILIES 27pg PDF FILE!
These are for you to print for your family or classroom! I love great quality resources for parents and teachers, and I hope to continue to share my talents with all of you. In an effort to make sense of all the time I've spent putting these together for friends and strangers, I've added a fee for my printable documents. However, all my lesson plans and ideas remain free so included below is the full list.
If you are more interested in the ideas, and not a fancy printed card as shown above, here are the ideas for FREE!

Pray a decade of the rosary as a family
Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Go to your church's Stations of the Cross
Learn a song sung during Lent
Go to Adoration to visit Jesus
Pray for the weak, poor, suppressed and unborn
Pray for the healing of the sick and dying people
Pray for a conversion of hearts
Learn a new prayer or make up a new one
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your life
Say nothing but prayers of thanksgiving!
Make a morning offering of your day.

Fast from screen time (TV, Computer, Tablet, Gaming, Smartphone)
Fast from saying anything negative
Fast from giving up - do your best!
Fast from over scheduling. Plan for quiet time.
Take time to call a friend
Read a book about a Saint
Drink only water for the week
Dress modest or humbly, or talk to others how they can do it.
Take 15 minutes to read the Bible each day
Eat plain food with no seasonings for a day (or more)
Fast from music except for Christian or instrumental songs
Don't spend any money this week

Make a donation of toys or clothes
Do a chore without being asked
Visit an elderly person
Find change for your rice bowl, add more bills than coins!
Volunteer at a food shelf or food packing location
Take a meal or treat to a new mother, ask how you can help them.
Donate food to your food shelf
Find a new way to volunteer at church
Greet a new person after Mass this weekend
Donate the amount of money you'd spend eating out
Make something crafty to give
Visit a friend and put them first in all activities and conversation
Find new ways to help at home

Share below in the comments some of the ideas you wrote on your card set!

Have a Blessed Lenten Season!
All activities have been moved to my Homegrown Catholics Blog. Click on the links below for many ideas to enrich your Lenten Journey.
Mikayla Anna Michalek

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