Add Universalis Catholic Calendar to Your Google Calendar

To give credit, I found this site,

Go to Universalis – Yearly Calendar.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Add to Google Calendar button. Also, if you want to add the liturgical year to Outlook or another desktop or online calendar system you can download the calendar in vcalendar/ical format and then import.

You will be taken to your Google Calendar page where it will ask you if you want to add it to your calendar. Just ensure that you are only adding the items to one calendar – if you add them to multiple calendars that you are subscribed to, you will receive multiple reminders. And, it is time consuming to delete those entries since there is one for each day of the year.

Click Yes – and – voila – you have the liturgical year on your Google Calendar.

One other suggestion for families that have multiple calendars that they share – create a new calendar called Catholic Feast Days, or whatever you wish, and then add the liturgical calendar to that specific calendar. Everyone can subscribe to that calendar without worrying about receiving multiple reminders.

Free Midwinter Virtual Conference

Thanks to Homeschool Connections (your source for great online classes taught by excellent, faithful Catholics), you can look forward to a

FREE Midwinter Virtual Conference

Webinars begin on January 17th – I can’t wait to hear Nancy Brown bring Chesterton into a discussion finding levity in homeschooling.

We are facing our burnout seasons – make plans to head off the winter doldrums and ruts we are in.

Lenten Resources

Lent is nearly upon us again. I am updating this post from last year since most of the resources are still available. I do enjoy adding a new book or two to our family’s Lenten resources, and this one is for me (I love Chesterton)

Additionally, I plan on using Catholic Mosaic‘s section on Lent that includes three books:

Catholic Mosaic also has 6 books used that are for Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday. It is a wonderful resource to help live more fully the liturgical year.

New links for 2010:

I am including this at the top of the post – it looks to be quite a do-able reading plan for Lent taking only 10-15 minutes a day and at the end of Lent, you will have read from 10 Church Fathers. So, it’s not too late to catch up:

The overview from ChurchYear.Net

The PDF with all the readings in order

I am dashing around, so this is not a pretty post. I will reformat it when I have a bit more time, but I wanted to begin a list of Lenten Resources:

How music made a great day!

I received “Making Music Praying Twice” this past summer. Since we were not in school, I did a simple review of the product – a first impressions. I had planned on beginning the program at the start of the school year not realizing just how intense the first month of schooling two ninth graders with Mother of Divine Grace would be. I have made it through nearly six weeks of school and decided on impulse to bring out the program today. I did not read the manual in depth; I did not gather any musical instruments or scarves or do any other preparation. I decided simply that since we were most of the way through the week I would follow the suggested Ordinary Fall week one schedule and this is how the time went.

As a note, the developer gives many different options of how to use the program:

  • a generic, fill-in-the-blank schedule if you are planning on doing the program daily
  • a generic a weekly schedule for a once a week music program
  • suggestions if you plan to use the program in an unstructured manner
  • blank lessons plans if you want to plan out a semester or year
  • 8 weeks of daily lesson plans that feature all the songs and activities for the season
  • 4 weeks of weekly lesson plans that feature all the songs and activities for the season.

So, you have the freedom to use the program as best suites your personality and your family needs. I chose to start with the first week  of the Ordinary Time (OT) Fall Weekly plan, again featuring all the songs and activities included for the fall. (She has the same type of schedules set up for Advent/Christmas/Epiphany,Ordinary Time – Winter, Lent, and Easter/Pentecost for an entire school year’s worth of music).

The first week had the following schedule:

  1. Good Day
  2. prayer – Father I Adore You
  3. sit and sing – The Blacksmith
  4. sit and spin – creative substitutions – Sissy in the Barn
  5. spoken rhyme – Humpty Dumpty
  6. Rhythm Patterns
  7. shaky egg activity – Hamaba
  8. free instrument time – Sing and Play
  9. scarf dancing – My Bonnie
  10. Tonal Patterns
  11. dancing with streamers – Looby Loo
  12. dance activity – Moroccan Melody
  13. Tonal Patterns
  14. prayer – Our Father
  15. God Bless

First impression-the printed material is very nicely bound books and the CD audios are clear and the vocals are beautifully done with both children’s voices and adults, male and female. Next impression-beautifully Catholic-I will explain more in detail.

So, as I said I did no preparation; therefore, I did not know how to implement the Rhythm Patterns nor the Tonal patterns, so I skipped them (I was pressed for time and trying to take advantage of a momentary surge of energy I was experiencing :-) Also, I had no musical instruments, rattles or shaky eggs, nor did I have scarves. But, it all worked out.

I popped the OT Fall CD in, and the first song on the CD corresponded to the first song, Good Day. My children’s eyes lit up as we used their names in the song. The song (and all the rest) were long enough for my children to catch onto the melody and even sing or hum along.

Next, we started on Father I Adore You which happened to be track 2. Again, there were enough stanzas that we could catch the melody and sing along. The music was beautiful and they even in later stanzas had the song in the round.

Now the pace picks up again and we moved on to The Blacksmith. My youngest followed my hand gestures as we hammered and tapped and clip clopped in rhythm to the music. Following this was the substitution song – Sissy in the Barn. This was a bit more difficult for me to follow. One stanza was written out with the notes and words. Then below that were a number of pictures; a man, a woman, a pig, a cow, a boy and a girl. The song used those pictures to substitute to make new verses. You could sing over them and make up your own as I realized later.

Humpty Dumpty was a rousing success. My learning challenged five year old heard the spoken rhyme enough times to catch on. And, we used hand and body motions to go along with the somewhat dramatic presentation (fell off the waaaaaaalllllllllll).

As I said, I skipped the rhythm pattern and even now, I am not sure exactly where it is explained or what CD I should use. I also skipped the free instrument time. But we did go through Hamaba that was based on a Gambian folk song. Next we sang My Bonnie. Although we did not have scarves to use, the children enjoyed swaying in time with the music. Looby Loo was a fun, full body experience that everyone enjoyed participating in (put your right hand in, shake it all about, etc.) The last song before finishing up was Moroccan Melody. The instrumentals and vocals were ethnic including perhaps a sitar and drums and finger cymbals (I am sorry but I am unfamiliar with the names of the instruments).

Finally, we came to the end. Our Father was sang without instrumentals in a very clear, beautiful female voice. It was sang again in almost a polyphonic chant perhaps.

The last song was a nice wrap up and in the style of the first song – “God Bless” where you substituted your family’s names.

Other songs on this particular CD included the Magnificat sung by a female singer with no instrumentals. As I listen, my nearly three year old is signing along, at least the melody. Holy God We Praise Thy Name is a male vocalist accompanied by a classical guitarist.

So, after one day, I am absolutely thrilled. I love, love, love the Catholic content and the following of the liturgical year. I love the ethnic music and exposure to different tonalities and instruments. I love the well laid out plans (although, I do intent on using the daily plans for the rest of the year).

Complaints / suggestions? Hmmm, none – I would suggest that you write the track numbers on the song books that accompany each season as the CD has no track names. And, I will have to search out the huge teacher’s manual for how to do the rhythm and tonal exercises, but I am comfortable leaving out this feature entirely.

Downside? Finding time for the little ones – but after one day, I see how much they enjoyed this, and my intent this year was to be more proactive in finding activities for the little ones. And, cost is a downside – yes, it is nearly $100. But, this is a non-consumable product and the quality of the printed material and the CD’s is top-notch.

I hope and will suggest to the developers that they try to attend some Catholic homeschool conferences so others can see this in action. This could even be a great vendor talk to offer.

I plan on updating this post as I move through the additional seasons.

Update: We begin again for the new year. The young kids are very enthusiastic about the music. I also shared this with a friend that has a large family with young children and she was very excited about it.

Catholic VBS for 2009

I have reposted this from last year because I have check to ensure the the companies are still in existence and I have added another resource.  I hope you find it helpful.

  • Growing With the Saints – This company provides three different programs – one based on St. Patrick, one on Saint Catherine Laboure, and the final one includes an assortment of saints. Materials for the program include story books, music CD’s, and t-shirts.
  • Marvelous Mystery: The Mass Comes Alive– This program is brought to you by the familiar company of CatChat which produces terrific audio CD’s. Included in the program are leader guides, Action Song DVD, music CDs and a resource CD with all the printable items.
  • Vacation Bible School 2009 is a program offered by K4J. Again, this is a program developed by Catholics and for Catholics. The starter package includes leader guides, mission books for children, audio CDs and a graphics CD for the printable items.
  • It’s a Mystery series, (description is provided by CHC) – a Catholic children’s retreat. These four books are based on Catholic dogma. Our beliefs regarding the Holy Trinity, the attributes of God, Mary, and the Church are presented in discussion questions, Scripture, Tradition, games, music, and art for ages 5 to 14. The programs are not flashy and so the cost is relatively low compared to other VBS programs. In addition, the programs are flexible so that small family groups of three or larger groups may use the activities. The It’s a Mystery series–The Holy Trinity, The Perfect Personality, The Secret Garden, and The Household of God–is available only through Catholic Heritage Curricula.We are currently completing a project that may be used as a summer program for elementary ages. This guide will introduce families and parish groups to the basic elements of Catholic social teaching. The Biggest Family on Earth will be available for the Fall of 2008.
  • Heroes In Heaven is a hands-on learning program teaching children about the saints. Mt. Gilead, OHIO, November 27, 2007– Heroes In Heaven, a vacation bible school program designed by Tammy Gabrelcik of Mt. Gilead, Ohio, follows the lives and lessons of the Catholic saints, helping to teach abstract ideas and reinforce catechism concepts.“So often, I think, the catechism just isn’t sticking with our children…and the lives of the saints just get put on the shelf…but they’re so important,” says Gabrelcik, who became inspired to create Heroes In Heaven in the year 2000 when she discovered that the only vacation bible school programs available were non-denominational programs with minor adaptations to make them Catholic-friendly. “Nothing like this is available.”Each day of the five-day program is centered around one particular saint, telling the story through games, crafts, snacks, puppet shows, music and activities that help participating children ages 4-12 retain the teachings and importance of that saint. “The program is fun, hands-on, hard-core Catholic learning,” says Gabrelcik. “It helps us grow in holiness and learn how to apply the lessons of the saints to real life.”The Heroes In Heaven program package includes the introduction booklet with detailed instructions, lesson plans and suggestions for the instructors of the program, and five booklets each focusing on five different saints. The package also includes a music CD, DVD and image CD to supplement the booklets. The program package was designed to keep additional costs at a minimum, so after purchasing Heroes In Heaven, only basic art supplies like scissors, glue and markers are needed. “It’s such a unique program, and it’s so affordable,” says Gabrelcik, who uses many recyclable products and items from around the house in the crafts and activities.

Rosary Lapbook

Front of Rosary Lapbook

Front of Rosary Lapbook

First of all, I must admit that I do not particularly enjoy paper craft projects, so this is my very first lapbook with my students. A friend and I intended to do this project together with all of our older students (11 in total), and she volunteered to cut everything out if I printed all the copies. So we both purchased a copy of the Rosary Lapbook from Lapbooks for Catholics.

The directions for the project are very clear so that even a novice to lapbooking such as myself could navigate through the project successfully. It was a huge .pdf with well over 100 pages of instruction and printables.

The results were quite wonderful. Please note that most of my children are boys, so they did not go further to color or otherwise illustrate their books.

The rosary lapbooks have been very useful when we recite our daily rosary. The images give even my non readers something visual to focus on. The reflections for each mystery are both short enough to get through, but profound enough to bring more depth to the recitation of the mysteries.

My only suggestion for the developer is break out the printable pages from the instructions. It would make the process of printing a new set much easier if they were gathered together rather than interspersed throughout the instructions. And, for families like mine that prefer to send off large print jobs to Kinko’s or Office Max, I would appreciate having all the color images on one page to lower the cost.

Inside Rosary Lapbook

Catholic File Folder Games

This is a quick note and I have to dash. What a goof – I realized I did not write a title for this post! Lesson Plans

The Catholic Mom’s site has a lot of great resources but I just stumbled a set of file folder games related to the faith (you need to scroll down the page to find the games). The games includes:

  • The Golden Rule
  • The Fiery Furnance
  • Jesus, Our Savior
  • liar, liar, pants on fire
  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Seven Deadly Sins
  • Seven Sacraments
  • Ten Talents
  • The Unforgiving Servant
  • Who am I?

And many more. The “Who am I?” game is about people at church all way up to the Pope.

What a nice thing to add to our lighter Fridays  and teach the faith! Please also look at all the other resources, games, coloring sheets and more that are included on this page.

The Vatican on YouTube!

Yeah! I love when evangelization meets technology. So, the Vatican is on YouTube now – Where else might we find technology and media being of service to evangelization? How about iBreviary for you iPhone? Available for a small fee of $.099 to run on your phone (I do not have an iPhone or iPod so was unable to run the software – please let me know if you download it).

Facebook is also experiencing an explosion of Catholic users – it can serve as a quiet evangelization tool for those who are a bit more timid in sharing their faith. And, the Pope even introduced a new social networking site for Catholics after World Youth Day (article) at