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.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe

  Dec 12th this year is 12-12-2012!  It is also the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Today I'm writing about some of the projects I hope to do with my children tomorrow between the chaos that is our life. Below is a picture of me outside the shrine that hosts the tilma worn by Juan Diego. That pilgrimage to Mexico was 27 years ago and I was just a little girl, but I remember it with much detail. Thanks to my parents for the many pilgrimages we've been on. I hope to share the photos and perhaps another trip with them someday soon!

10 Family-Friendly Projects to Celebrate!
1. OLG PENDANT: Trace OLG onto shrinydink paper, color and shrink for a necklace pendant.
2. OLG SHRINE: Buy a small, wood box w/ attached lid at craft store. Fit a OLG prayer card or image inside bottom. Decorate like a shrine with glitter, silk flowers, gems, etc inside and out. Display open like a frame/shrine.
3. OLG FINGERPUPPET: Cut out felt - 3" circle of gold, red dress, blue veil w/ embroidered stars, peach/tan face and hands, brown hair. Layer and attach with tacky glue. [Or buy one at Sanctus Stitches]
4. READ ABOUT OLG: Online TruthsoftheImage.org by KofC.
5. JUAN A SOMBRERO?: Make a sombrero! Directions by FirstPalette.com  OR Kaboose.com
6. ROSES FROM OLG: Hand out roses to people in the Adoration Chapel or anywhere in town. You might include a holy card.
7. OLG TILMAS: Print out an image of OLG and color it. Take a paper grocery bag, cut off the narrow sides, cut a hole in the bottom for your head, and glue on the image you colored. Extra: Curl up the bottom edge and glue on fake (or real) rose petals. [detailed directions link]
8. FELIZ NAVIDAD: Celebrate with Mexican Food, or visit CatholicCuisine.blogspot.com for OLG themed ideas like the tilma tortilla with ham roses, sombrero cookies, crescent cookies or croissants, etc. Shower of Roses also put together ideas for a Tea with OLG. We might simplify by making our favorite Taco Salad (Taco Ground Beef, Crushed Doritos, Western Dressing, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Green Onions, Olives, Shredded Cheese all mixed together).
9. JUAN A PINATA?: Want to get messy? Make your own piƱata and stuff it with OLG's stars (star shaped candies), blue mantles (blue taffy), and roses (red foil wrapped chocolate kisses).
10. PRAY TO OLG: Take time to pray the Rosary, or head over to your church for Mass. Ours will be a Spanish Mass which would be an interesting experience for the children!

Our Lady of Guadalupe Image

Homegrown Catholic's FAVORITE LINKS
Catholic Heritage Curricula's How to Draw Our Lady of Guadalupe
Loyola Press' OLG Coloring Sheet
Homeschool Goodies O+L+G Feast Day LinkUp 2010
Catholic Mom's OLG Lesson Plans
Catholic Icing's Juan Diego and OLG Feast Day Ideas
Joy Filled Family's OLG Resources
Yahoo Voices OLG Lesson Plans
Blossoming Joy's OLG Links & Activities
Modest Mommies Etsy Treasury: Mary, Mother of God has a few items for sale that are Our Lady of Guadalupe inspired. I will also be sewing lap blankets with Our Lady of Guadalupe fleece, for sale by request (limited number). I like the "Guada-Loopy" Blankee for little toddlers!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy Saint Nicholas Day

Saint Nicholas Day

Some call him Santa Claus, which is Santa=Saint and Claus is short for Nicklaus. Today (Dec 6th) Saint Nicholas, a Bishop of Myra, visits families around the world with the spirit of giving. He fills your shoes or stockings with delightful goodies, which may include chocolate, oranges and coins. He comes today, because Christmas Day is reserved for celebrating Jesus' Birthday! He comes from up north, in the realms of Heaven! Bearing gifts for the children who believe in him so dearly and follow in his footsteps of kindness and charity.

Saint Nicholas Day

The week before Saint Nicholas comes, we write our PETITIONS to ST. NICK. (instead of letters to Santa). He can intercede for us with our prayers, because a saint is about our connection to God not fulfilling our material desires. This fulfills our handwriting and spelling for the week!

 And we love to visit Saint Nicholas, usually at our parish. It may be helpful to tell your St. Nick/Santa that you celebrate with stockings on Dec 6th, so when the kids say "Thanks for the gift" or "We're excited for you to come" that they're not asking for Christmas Day gifts.

St. Nick is let in our home with a SPECIAL KEY hung outside our door. He tiptoes where the stockings are hung and all are sleeping. He leaves us a candy treat, like St Nicholas Coins, candy cane and a small gift. Some families like to put their shoes outside instead, and that's okay too.

Saint Nicholas Day
Saint Nicholas Day
Saint Nicholas Day

What can you do on Saint Nicholas Day?
* You might like my Mini Stocking Directions for activities, advent calendar, etc
* That morning, open your stockings and have a special brunch or breakfast. We change it up every year. [Catholic Cuisine ideas here]
*Blessing of the Candy Canes (Pinterest)
Saint Nicholas Day Blessing of Candy Canes

Gracious God,
In the spirit of Saint Nicholas we turn to you and ask for your blessing on these candy canes. May their flavor sweeten our hearts with compassion and kindness. May their shape remind us to be shepherds of grace and generosity. May their bright colors attune us to the delightful sights and sounds of this sacred season. Inspire us to be like Saint Nicholas, who brought comfort and jo to children and their families.  We ask this in the name of the Holy Child, Jesus, whose coming we await with anticipation and love.

*Make St. Nicholas Crafts like this one with wood tongue depressers, or paint him on a wood peg doll!

*Put up your Advent Calendar if you haven't already!

*Host a Jesse Tea Party


* Read more online or in a book about St. Nicholas

* Watch Veggie Tales St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving

Read old posts about our traditions
* Homegrown Catholics: St. Nicholas Day Traditions
* Homegrown Catholics: Feast of St. Nicholas

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Our Lady of Lourdes - Bernadette
Dec 8th marks the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. This is not the conception of Jesus, it is the conception of Mary to St. Anne & Joachim. She was conceived without sin! This is a big deal, because this doctrine recognizes the fact that Mary was born pure, without original sin, a perfect vessel for the Christ Child. Here are some simple activities you can do with your family this weekend to celebrate!

Read this article on American Catholic about how this teaching came about. I find it interesting that it took some time for the faithful to agree upon her conception without sin, while it now seems so obvious to us now. This is a great example of how the Fathers of our Church have brought forth the teachings of the Catholic Faith with such care.

Embroider St. Anne and Mary on a dishcloth for your kitchen.
saint anne stitched
Print pattern and read more about Faith in Embroidery at Modest Mommies

1st Wk Dec Gingerbread Cookies
Catholic Culture.org has an article about "Celebrating the Feast… in the home." It hints at making Gingerbread cookies to recall the sweet fragrance of Mary. I'd say this is a good day to do all the cookie baking! Visit Catholic Cuisine for the St. Nick Gingerbread Men (feast Dec 6th) and more Catholic kitchen ideas!
*Catholic Cuisine: Immaculate Conception
*Catholic Cuisine: Saint Nicholas

Make a paper Mary statue.
2010 03 11_Lent-Easter_0006
Directions and Free Printables here: Homegrown Catholics - Mary's Little Crowns

Read Immaculate Mary in your free Catholic ABCs book
Immaculate Mary
Find this free printable and more at Homegrown Catholics - Quiet in the Pew

This is also a great opportunity to talk to your children about modesty, chastity and being pure.
> What Would Mary Wear (WWMW)??
Little girls would enjoy making a Modest Mandy (Directions @ Modest Mommies)
Modest Mandy
*For those who live near me, you can buy a "Pocket Friends" kit for $5. Makes 10 dolls. Great stocking stuffer!

>Recommended Books:
AGES 4-12
The Princess & The Kiss, The Squire & The Scroll books & guide by Jennie Bishop
His Little Princess, His Mighty Warrior books by Sheri Rose Shepherd
Tea & Cake with the Saints, Sewing with St. Anne, and Tin Cups & Tinder by Alice Cantrell
AGES 9-14
All Things Girl series & guide, or All Things Guy by Teresa Tomeo
Olivia's Gift by Nancy C Belanger
AGES 13-25
Theology of the Body by Evert OR West
Real Love by Mary Beth Bonacci
Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, not Conformed to the World by Teresa Tomeo

Monday, November 26, 2012

Advent Stocking Tree

Counting down to Christmas Day is a holiday tradition for many families, including mine! Below is the perfect family craft to hold your countdown treasures!

Advent Stockings

Many of you have seen our countdown wall lovingly called Our Forever Tree. I create something to hang on our tree every month, and in December we have 25 stockings! Each one is numbered and filled with a candy cane treat and a mini village piece. Each day in December, a child will have a turn opening a stocking then adding to our Christmas village.  But on Dec 25th, they will open the last stocking to find Baby Jesus to lay in the manger scene!

Each stocking will also hold an activity to do. See list at the bottom of this post! (Thanks Jamie for the inspiration) You could also add Jesse Tree items to each stocking, or the bible verses for it.

Advent Stockings

To Make the Stockings You Will Need:
Colored & White Felt
Stocking Pattern
Tacky Glue
Sewing Machine (or use glue)
Fabric Paint
Safety Pins (25 med. sized)

Stocking to Trace
Advent StockingsAdvent Stockings
1. Cut 25 stockings from colored felt. Cut another 25 from white or matching color. My 25th stocking I used multi colors, and added a felt Star of Bethlehem. *If you plan to embroider numbers or images, do it now.
Advent Stockings
2. Stich or glue together. Trim close to stitched line (no need to turn inside out).
3. Cut rectangles and glue on top edge of stockings.
4. On backside add safety pin to back layer, with loop on top to hang from hook or string through.
5. *Use fabric paint to add numbers. You could also use stickers, but paint will last best year after year.
6. Hang from a Forever Tree of your own, add magnets for the fridge, or string them up on the fireplace!

Things to add to the stockings:
Mini Candy Canes fit perfectly in each stocking.
Advent Stockings

On Dec 6th, Feast of St. Nicholas, I added mini Santa chocolates, with one peeking out the top!

Advent StockingsAdvent Stockings
I found these villages and miniatures at the Dollar Tree!



*JESSE TREE workbook by Sanctus Simplicitus
*JESSE TREE no-sew felt pattern by Shower of Roses
*JESSE TEA PARTY at The Michalek Kitchen

  1. Read the Bible Story about The Annunciation. Begin Jesse Tree activities.
  2. Light the 1st Advent candle. Pray for another family. Mail Christmas Cards.
  3. Write a letter to Saint Nicholas, and mail it!
  4. Find items in your cupboards to donate to the food shelf.
  5. Hang up your stockings, St. Nicholas is coming tonight!
  6. Dec 6: St. Nicholas Day - Open stockings & celebrate with chocolate and oranges!
  7. Practice songs to go Caroling!
  8. Dec 8: Solemnity of Immaculate Conception Mass- Bake Gingerbread Cookies & more
  9. Light the 2nd Advent Candle. Put up the Christmas Tree!
  10. Festival of Lights: Light the Christmas Tree! Talk about Jewish and other holiday traditions.
  11. Donate “extra” toys and books to a charity, or new ones to Toys for Tots.
  12. Dec 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Let's do Mexican food!
  13. Set up play tent with Christmas lights!
  14. Make a new ornament or a snowflake craft. Talk about being unique.
  15. Bake more Christmas cookies and treats!
  16. Light the 3rd Advent Candle. Feast of St Lucy! Make a St. Lucia Peg Doll
  17. Fill mini stockings and go caroling at great-grandparents/nursing home.
  18. Have a family movie night with popcorn! (Could string some for the tree)
  19. Wrap presents!
  20. Have a hot cocoa tea party with cookies! or Jesse Tea Party.
  21. Sing and dance to Christmas music!
  22. Walk/Drive around to see Christmas lights in the neighborhood.
  23. Light the 4th Advent Candle. Pray the Joyful Mysteries (for homeschoolers)
  24. Family Christmas Celebration. Bake a cake for Jesus’ Birthday tomorrow!
  25. Happy Birthday Jesus! Christmas Day Mass & Family Celebration.
12 Days of Christmas Activities:

Friday, November 16, 2012

November Display of Thanks

  Our Forever Tree is a place on our living room wall where we hang reminders of our faith each month. You might try our idea of a tree wall decal with wall hooks in the branches. Or perhaps you have a magnet board or other space reserved for countdowns and displays.
  This summer, our tree blossomed with family activities. In September, we hung fruits on the tree - The Fruits of the Spirit. In October we hung pumpkins with facts about Saints. This November, we want to cover our tree with positive reminders of all our blessings. Thanksgiving is just a week away.
Thanksgiving Tree
We started by adding turkey's to the landscape!
- Using foam sheets, trace and cut out each family member's hand. From another color, cut out a peanut shape or an odd-shaped "S" for the turkey head. Add googly eyes and a beak!
- We also hung decorative acorns from the tree.

Then we're writing what we are thankful for on cutouts of leaves on paper.
-If you don't have die cuts or a good freehand for leaves, look online for images of leaf shapes to make a template to trace and cut.

Another great idea a mom shared with me…
  Have a journal, and each year have your guests write what they are thankful for in it. It's fun to look back on over the years.

2011 Teaching Children About Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Giving Our Christmas Away

National Collection Week Nov 12-19th!
Our family is giving our Christmas away! We've done this in years past, and wanted to share how we are doing it this year. This week is a huge opportunity for you to pack a shoe box, bring a smile to a child somewhere across the world, and bring them the message that Jesus is the greatest gift! Consider spending some or all of your gift money towards gifts for a needy child or family. Whether you support Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan's Purse) or take a name of your church's giving tree - just make the effort to GIVE this year! The blessings to a giving heart bring more joy than any present under your tree.

Veggie Tales pack a shoe box:

Kids Can Make A Difference video

How to pack a box: Click Here
Operation Christmas Child 
We found many items at the Dollar Tree/Target $1/Walmart $1, including crafting items, toothbrushes and toothpaste, toys, hair accessories, candy, sunglasses and more. I wrapped toy animals in mini fleece blankets for something to cuddle. They'd also like socks, hats, sandals, etc. The OCC website has many ideas, but just consider a child and what would be fun to get if you'd never opened a Christmas gift before and had so little!?

Use "All About Me" coloring pages to include in the box, or a personal letter and photo. Our children had a wonderful time filling out this sheet. We also included a Christmas Card and Family Photo.
OCC About Me LetterOCC About Me Letter

Don't forget the Label & Rubber Band!

Drop off boxes at a local drop off center. Locations listed on the website. All boxes will be inspected.

"Give this Christmas Away" Music Video

For children participating, this is an excellent reward for their efforts…
For certificate and other printables click here.

Please comment how you are giving this Christmas!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Autumn Days of Life-Learning

Some days are better spent outdoors.
We read our Science while on a nature walk.

A lap-blanket that travels in the car as we journey near and far.

Any chance to get crafty!
The challenge was for it to be beautifully displayed, paying attention to color changes and flow of the white space. The milk weed pods were collected as a fire-starter.

Wapiti Rendezvous - 1800s demonstration/reenactment

And just plain 'ol fun with Mommy.

Kodak Moments in my head include books, gymnastics, a few good movies, lots of toys, and many more smiles. Maybe next week we'll get around to those pesky workbooks? Honestly, we learned so much more this week I know they'll retain for years.

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