Catholic Bingo Games – Freebie

Do not forget to check out all the other items this company offers, but for November especially for Catholics Senari has 2 Catholic Bingo games free for you to download (page down past the geography section):

  • Titles of Our Lady Bingo is text based. There are 30 bingo cards for this game so it can be used with your family or church group. Use the Litany of Our Lady as a calling card.

  • November-December Saints and Feast Days Bingo is also text based. There are 12 bingo cards for this game as well as a calling card. The calling card is a MS Word document which can be cut up and used as a manipulative.

Homeschooling and Special Needs

Make an on-line slideshow at

My hope is that this will grow into a lovely list of resources and encouragement for families who are homeschooling children with special needs. Please email me or leave a comment with resources that you have found helpful.

Speech Therapy at home? Not exactly.

I am not promoting the idea that parents can identify and remediate all speech issues at home. Speech therapists are highly trained and skilled at identifying issues and are an important resource. But there are times when either we cannot afford their services, especially if we do not want to go through the school system, or the issues seem to be minor enough that perhaps, with the right resources, we can attempt to remediate at home before we go on to seek the skills of a professional.

So, with all that being said, I have a child who has some articulation issues. He was delayed in his speech, and while he seems to be at grade level with his language expression and comprehension, I was a bit concerned about his articulation.

A friend on a homeschool list I belong to mentioned the program, “Straight Talk” from NATHHAN: National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network. First of all, I have to say the newsletter included in the box is phenomenal – it is packed full of resources – even pro-life resources like carrying to term sites, post abortion resources and pro-life doctors. What a testimony to their belief that all God’s children are to be cherished. NATHHAN is a wonderful, Christian resource for families who are homeschooling children with special needs!

Anyway, back to “Straight Talk” – I ordered the $55 package (free shipping) for “Straight Talk 1 – A parent’s guide to correcting childhood speech mispronunciations.” (please note there is a “Straight Talk 2 – A parents guide to language development”) – and it included a binder, the program, and a DVD.

The DVD has staged therapy sessions so that parents can understand how to work with their children. You watch the instructor adminster the quick test, a series of 29 pictures and a checksheet to note which sounds your child has incorrectly pronounced. You then check the age/sound chart to see if the sounds are sounds your child should have mastered by his age.

The next part goes on to the Word Probe – you take the sounds that your child had difficulty with and go to the the Word Probe page for that sound – you’ll find 3 columns of words, with the sound in the beginning, middle and end (there might be a 4th column for blends). You say the word, the child repeats and you make a note of how he said the sound such using a w sound for the r sound. Now, you know specifically where he has difficulties.

The final part is how to begin training to pronounce the sound correctly – isolated, syllables, words, sentences and then in conversational speech. In the Word Probe section prior to the words, you will find a page or two of detailed information on how that particular sound is produced – you are provided with teaching cues and may use things like a tongue depressor and a mirror to teach where your tongue should be when you say the sound “er”. Ideas are provided for how to motivate your child to do all the repetitions necessary. Pattern sheets are provided for some of the exercises. The DVD is helpful in getting an overview of the program as well as reinforcing when to move on, things like 90% accuracy with no cuing over 3 sessions for syllable sound training.

So far, I have only administered the quick test and word probes for the sounds my son had difficulty with, but already I realize that some of the sounds I can relax a bit on, he still has another year before I need to really work on those sounds.

Again, this is not a suggestion to bypass speech therapy. But just offered as another resource to consider.

Some other links that might be helpful:

  • I also found another site with 350 picture word cards. These would be a useful addition to work on articulation and language aquisition. One further site is a list of word pairs from Caroline Bowen. You might use this as an adjunct to formal therapy, or a suppliment to what you are doing on your own.
  • The blog from Mommy Speech Therapy has some useful exercises and links – I am using some of the ideas for working with the “t” sound and the placement of my son’s tongue.

mater et magistra – New edition out now

If you have a subscription to the Catholic homeschooling magazine, mater et magistra, you should be receiving the October issue soon. If you do not have a subscription, I hope that you might consider getting one now. Margot Davidson along with a team of writers has a beautiful, edifying, inspiring magazine for us. I love to support Catholic businesses, especially when they fill a need in our community. Browse through the site for free articles from past issues – it’s a treasure.

Review – Catholic High School Economic Program – Apostles and Markets

Finally! Yes, I finally sat down and went through this beautiful program in order to provide a write up. This is a Catholic economic program for high school age students called “Apostles and Markets“. From the website the author states:

I wrote Apostles & Markets with Catholic teachers in mind. For twenty years I held an endowed chair in economics at a Catholic college-preparatory high school in the Midwest. In my work I sought to develop the particular perspective and instructional materials that I knew I needed in order to teach well according to academic and normative standards. At the same time, I became aware that other teachers, similarly situated, faced the same challenge. How might a teacher in a Catholic school frame the study of immigration, for example—or wage inequality, profits, the environment, or globalization—validly, according to relevant disciplinary principles, and according to principles of our faith? How do technical issues of monetary and fiscal policy come into view in a Catholic context? I struggled with difficult questions of this sort for a long time, through study, discussion, and ongoing classroom practice. These efforts have now yielded Apostles & Markets. I offer it here in the hope that others will find uses for it and, in their work with it, contribute to the quest it represents.

Stephen J. Haessler, Ph.D.

Honestly, I found myself a bit reluctant to review this program because I do not as yet have students in high school. So, I offer that as a caveat.

The program is provided in a very large 3 ring binder that permits the teacher to pull out the reproducibles quite easily. The quality of the paper is quite nice, and while the majority of the pages are black and white, there is enough color to give your eyes a treat.

The program is comprised of 12 chapters – each one named after an apostle. The topics include:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Prices
  • Valuation
  • Profit
  • Wages
  • Pollution
  • Trade
  • Tariffs
  • Unemployment
  • Immigration
  • Stability
  • Corruption

Each chapter begins with a “Lesson Description” offering a one paragraph explanation of what the student is to learn, what resources he or she will use and what project they will work on to apply the lesson. This is followed by the “Lesson Rationale” – another one paragraph item. After these two paragraphs, there follows a list of references including specific biblical passages, references from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The author also provides a list of Economic Concepts, Economic Standards, Objectives and finally a list of Materials (handouts) that you would make copies of for your students.

The next section of the chapter is the specifics on how to teach the lesson. In general this is about a one page “script” for the teacher. There are terms for the student to define, questionms to pose and discussions to lead.

After the “Teaching Procedures” portion of the chapter, answer keys are provided for each of the handouts for that chapter. The answers are generally a few lines each. Finally, you are given a set of guidelines on how to assess the work that is turned in.

The meat of the program is in the Handouts. For example, in the first chapter, Handout one is comprised of six pages. Four pages are text and include biblical passages and passages from the CCC along with explanations of how the passages relate to the chapter’s topic. Following the text are the questions to have the student work on. Some of the handouts are hands on projects like “Doin’ a Dozen: Applying Supply and Demand Analysis to Gas Prices” in Chapter 2 – “St. Andrew: Market Pricing”. This handout has 11 pages and guides the student to an indepth analysis and chance to apply what they have been studying.

You can view samples for each of the chapters on the website by clicking on the Lesson links on the left side of the page.

This program is best suited to be used in a group setting. One parent might feel comfortable teaching all the lessons, or you might have each parent take 2 of the lessons to teach. You would be best prepared to study the materials and go through the activities on your own so that you can better guide your student.

I think this is a fantastic addition to the homeschooling community. While it is geared to a presentation in a group setting and was developed for Catholic teachers, I believe that students benefit from this type of setting for this particular topic and I believe that there is enough information provided for a homeschooling mother to manage – but it could be a stretch honestly since this is not a subject that many of us have studied.

The foundation of the program is solid and authentically Catholic. My hope is to offer this as a class in my homeschooling community during the year we again study American history and civics. I envision some lively discussions and feel that the projects will be of great assistance in really learning the material. Another suggestion would be to enlist a homeschooling family that owns a small business – what a great opportunity for a father to teach to the homeschoolers – perhaps a Saturday morning class?

Review – The Faith Database

Faith Database – Over 1500 Writings – Over 75,000,000 Words – Over 80,000 Pages

First of all, let me give you some links:

Faith Database Website

Video Introducing the Faith Database – Jerry Usher

In one place, you have an absolutely mind boggling amount of information compiled (from the website):

2000 Years of Christian History

  • 10 Bible Translations
  • 88 Council Documents from all 21 Ecumenical Councils
  • 400 Early Church writings
  • 165 writings from the Doctors of the Church
  • 74 books from John Henry Newman
  • 1300 Papal writings/encyclicals
  • The Old Catholic Encyclopedia (1200 entries and 5000 images)
  • Many classics including Gibbons’ “Faith of our Fathers,” Thomas a Kempis’ “Imitation of Christ” and John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body”
  • 1000 Bible Art Images
  • Over 100 Bible Maps
  • Illustrated Church history
  • Search Catechism and Code of Canon Law

Some of the Over 1500 Featured Writings Classics

  • Apologia (Newman)
  • Orthodoxy (Chesterton)
  • Thomas a Kempis
  • Doctors of the Church
  • St. John of the Cross
  • St. Theresa of Avila
  • St. Thomas Aquinas (The Summa)

Early Church Fathers

  • St. Augustine’s Confessions
  • Irenaeus’ Against Heresies
  • St. John Chrysostom’s Commentaries

Papal Writings / Encyclicals

Ok, so now as a homeschooling parent – what do we do with this? How can we it assist us in our job as teachers? I believe it’s a given that it it is a fantastic apologetic tool for all adults as well as way for us to grow in our faith. With ten translations of the Holy Bible, we can do in depth Bible studies.

But, this review is focused on how we might use the database with our children.

So, my first delve into the database – my two oldest children had to write a paper for 8th grade about Infallibility. I could not do the search because I was using the database incorrectly. Finally, I realized I needed to select Encyclopedia and searched again for the term, “infallibility” – and the program crashed. Yikes. A caveat, watch the video! It gives a nice walk through of how to search the encyclopedia. But, I still encountered an error and will contact them in regards to it. It appears if you search for a term in the topics that is not found, you receive an error message and if you press cancel, it closes the program down.

Oops – I discovered that I spelled the word incorrectly. Once I correctly spelled infallibility, I discovered one entry for the topic and many entries when I searched the text – both searches returned a huge amount of information. Everything I might possibly want to know about infallibilty was in the topic and my children were able to understand the concept better. Actually, I read it and distilled it and was better able to delve deeper into the topic so that they were able to write more about it.

Then, out of curiosity, I wanted to see what other information was in the database about infallibility. After selecting the Tab, Apologetics, I selected Authority/Church in the Categories Box, and then in then in the box below, Doctrines, I selected Church Authority/Papal Infallibilty.  What was returned, was a series of quotes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church including:

100 The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.

Under this section was Supporting Bible Passages with another great list of quotes. This was followed by quotes from the Early Church fathers. Wow! All I can say is wow! What an amazing collection of information.

Next task – my 8th graders needed to write a paper on the 4 marks of the Catholic Church, “One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic”. I go immediately to the Apologetics section – and there it is. Once again, I select in the Categories box, Authority/Church. Then I find a topic for each item – Church is Apostolic (ok, I know this is the One part of the Marks of the Church). Again, the format is a collection of quotes from the CCC, then the supporting Bible passages, followed by the Early Church fathers quotes. There is more information than I even know what to do with. And, again, my children are able to write a deeper paper because I am better educated.

My only disappointment with the Apologetics section is that I was unable to search for terms in it.

The Mass section is another little treasure. Each part of the mass is written out, and then a “references” link is provided on the right. After clicking it, you find a list of Bible passages giving reference to where the words came from. You could also use this section for a detailed study of the Creed since each section is referenced.

The saints section is searchable.

I love the History Section. It has as categories, 100 year increments, and within each period such as 501-600AD, a number of topics like Irish monasteries flourish. The text on the right is brief, but there are images to view, an encyclopedia entry about the history of Ireland, and a map image. As my children study medieval history, I can totally image how we can use this section.

I cannot even begin to delve into all the rest including the various writings of Saints, Doctors of the Church and Popes. You can select Popes and then Pope John Paul II and see all the writings included. So, if you want to read “Faith and Reason”, there it is. I believe all these writings are downloaded upon installation. So the install of the database does take some time.

Also included are 10 translations of the Holy Bible and again, I do not have time to delve into how we might use that in our homeschools.

This is a fantastic product – I am not sure if they will be offering updates, but it is well worth the price of $31.95 (downloaded), or $39.95 (shipped). I look forward to seeing all the ways I can use this for both my personal growth in faith, to become a better apologist, and in my homeschooling.

Physical Education

I have a week long free trial to GoTrybe. It costs $30 / year and you could have a membership for each child, but the representative at the booth said one per family is enough.

Now, I have to say on one of the banners last week, they talked about STDs – not graphic, but it was a bit disconcerting.

Anyway, what is so unique is you get to build a workout – you have a 3 minute warm up section and 38 different video clips to choose from, then you have 3 cardio sections to fill for 10 minutes total, then there is a strength section (8-12 minutes), and finally a flexibility section (3 minutes). The warm up and cardio video clips include just basic cardio, cardio groove, hiphop, kickboxing, and sports drills. The strength training section has some videos that include basic weight training, and finally the flexibility has basic flexibility and about 10 yoga clips – none seem inappropriate or spiritual.

When you complete the workout, you get points that are redeemable for online javascript games (kind of a funny connection) but you have to have loads of points before you can “buy” a game. There are also motivation videos (some baseball team members give short talks about eating and training), nutrition tips with a one or two question quiz, and wellness video clips.

The people on the video range from young adults who lead the moves, to gawky teens that don’t do the moves perfectly – so my guys all fit.

Downside – the video clips don’t have any information about what the workout is other than the title such as Cardio Groove- so you don’t know if the strength training clip needs weights until you start it. I am just keeping a log of what clips we like. Next downside, you can’t “save” your preferred workout – so every day you have to go rebuild it again.

How to make it work better? Well, my laptop has an S-Video out plug, so I was able to route the video out to the TV screen. There was  a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to make the TV display the laptop screen’s content. Basically, for my graphic card, I had to make a clone, but each card’s software is a bit different. That enabled us to do the videos in the living room with enough room for everyone to have a spot. I also connected up a set of USB speakers to the laptop to have the sound louder since my laptop does not have a sound out to 5.1 audio. I do not know if there is a cable to take the headphones out jack to the sound input for my TV.

You should see my crew in the morning doing kickboxing – my 4th grade loves the aggressive nature and I think it moves out some of the pent up energy. We do one workout as a family, but as long as you don’t care who gets the points, each child could design and do their own workout.

I think this would be an easy way to add physical education to our daily program and I joined last week.

Reviews in progress

So, I am swamped with getting kids back in the routine of school. We are completing our third week using Mother of Divine Grace and we even enrolled this year. I am still waiting to see how that will all work out. But, I did want to give you a heads up of what items I am in the process of reviewing.

First up is a high school economics program – Reclaiming Social Justice: Teaching the Catholic Way of Economic Thinking. I apologize, but I do not have the website link at this moment.

Next up is a review of I heard a commercial about the database on EWTN and was intrigued by the idea, so I am thrilled to actually get to review it. I think this will be a great resource for apologetics, bible studies and to enhance our catechetical programs.

Finally, I am working on a review of the catechetical materials from The Apostolate for Family Consecration (also refered to as Catholic Familyland). I am very impressed with the chapters I have done so far with my school age children. The authors use visual imagery that makes the discussions very accessible and tangible to children. I am not sure I can use the program totally as designed, but the discussions we have had so far are deep. It definitely is not a program that you can send your child off to work on. In fact, I returned the student texts because they were merely worksheets to complete after a teacher presented the lesson. A fantastic, economical feature is that you can download and burn a DVD of Cardinal Arinze discussing each of the catechism questions and answers and that is keyed to the catechetical material. And, you can also download the 2 volume, “Apostolate’s Family Catechism” for free too.

Multiplying our efforts

At mass this evening, the Gospel reading was Mt 14:13-21:

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist,
he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd,
his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.
When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already late;
dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages
and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away;
give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”
Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”
and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven,
he said the blessing, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples,
who in turn gave them to the crowds.
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments left over—
twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.

During our pastor’s homily, he began discussing how God can take our efforts and multiply the effects through grace. Now, I have to say it was quite amazing that I even heard that line and even more amazing that I was able to remember it!

I was struck by the fact that as a homeschooling parent, I want very much to believe that God will take my desire and my hard work to educate and catechize my children and greatly multiply the effect. Often at the end of the day as I reflect, I realize that I let a ball or two drop – not realizing it at the time.

Sometimes, if I am being quite honest, we do not get through all the religion lessons, and we are sorely behind in Baltimore Catechism memorization. I wonder what they can possibly get from Mass when what they see is a stressed and harried mother shepherding her gaggle of children and paying more attention to a little one who is nearly tearing pages out of the missal or climbing under the pew.

But, I am somewhat reassured – not complacent though – that God must be filling in some of the more gaping holes that I leave behind. I have children that say their prayers each evening even when I am not with them (and that is most evenings). They seem to have a close relationship with Mary and their guardian angels – not because I have been a stellar teacher or example, but – perhaps because God has multiplied my meager efforts. I can only hope that He does the same with grammar lessons and math.

I am in a conflicted place right now – excited about the upcoming year – new books, new subjects – and – fearful with high school one year off. I see the deficits in their education – some because I a few children have some issues with dyslexia, but most of the deficits are due to my inability to juggle all the balls. So, my prayer this year is that God takes my sincere desire and my intent to work hard and helps me educate them, multiplying my efforts like Jesus did with the loaves of bread and fish.

God bless you and keep you as you begin this new school year.

Review – Two new (republished) Saints Series for Early Readers

I was so thrilled when I received these two books from Mary’s Books. They are reprints of Dujarie Press Saints and Famous Catholics Biographies by Brother Ernest and Brother Roberto from the 1960’s. The books are the size of typical early reader books with a light blue cover and a simple black lined picture both on the cover and then black lined drawings in the text.

Not knowing what to expect, I opened the first book, “A Story of the Infant Jesus of Prague” by Brother Ernest, C.S.C. (32 pages) and was entranced. I have a number of Catholic saint books from several series; one is a very old set in hardback (what a find on a used Catholic books list) and of course the Mary Fabian Windeatt along with lots of books that are collections of saint stories. But, none of these were really appropriate for my beginning readers. The level 1 book opens with the following text:

Many years ago, no one knows just when, an artist in Spain made a very lovely statue of the Infant Jesus out of wax. We do not know who the artist was, and we do not know for whom he made the beautiful statue.

Isn’t that all very strange?

But I am very glad that the statue was made. I think you will be, too, when you read about it. Its story is a very interesting one. Tell all of your friends about it.

The book continues on to describe the first miracle attributed to the devotion and how the statue lost it’s hands and how they were recovered. Finally, children are introduced to all the miracles that a devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague are attributed.

Ten books are available in the Level One series and retail for $6.95 each or $62.55 for all ten books:

  • A Story of St. Therese
  • A Story of St. Anthony
  • A Story of the Infant of Prague
  • A Story of Saint Bernadette
  • A Story of Saint Joan of Arc
  • A Story of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
  • A Story of Saint Charles
  • A Story of Saint Margaret of Scotland
  • A Story of Saint Agatha
  • A Story of Saint Cecilia

For level 2 readers, I had the privilege to read a book from the series, “In the Footprints of Saints” by Brother Roberto, C.S.C. Again, the book is the size of the typical early reader book with a blue cover and a black and white image on the front. I began to read “Stairway to the Stars, A story of St. Germaine Cousin”. The book was 94 pages long so more advanced readers have time to really get to know the saint in language that is appropriate to their reading level. The story begins:

This is the strange and wonderful story of a girl, deformed, ugly, unloved and unwanted, who became one of the great saints of the Catholic Church and who works many miracles today for the sake of suffering people. The girl is Germaine Cousin. Her of of twenty-two years on earth was filled with pain and loneliness and suffering, and now that she is at rest, she does her best to relieve the pain and lonliness and suffering of all who come to know her. For, to know her is to admire her, and in admiring her, we come to love her.

The book simply invites the reader to learn more. You learn about her life, unwanted and mistreated and how she turns to God for comfort and “to help her bear patiently all the bitterness and anguish that lay ahead” and how she attends mass on her own daily and even encourages her care giver to do the same in spite of a busy life. For sensitive children, some of the unwarranted abuse she suffered at the hands of the wife might be a bit disturbing, “the terrible woman raised her fist high above the girl’s head and brought it down with all her strength on Germaine’s head”. But, for my children the scenes were not too disturbing and truly give the reader an image of the suffering that she patiently endured.

And, in spite of the suffering, Germaine is able to take joy in her work of tending sheep and instructing other children in the faith through stories of the saints, her devotion to the rosary and sharing her meager food. Children are also introduced to the miracles attributed to St. Germaine including the wolves not attacking her household’s sheep and even the conversion of her primary tormentor.

Even as an adult, I was moved by the story and my 10 year old daughter, a reluctant reader, who has never voluntarily read a saint book inhaled it! I have fallen in love with a saint about whom I would have never known. These books cost $9.95 each and more titles will be added to the following list:

  • Stairway To The Stars-A Story of St. Germaine Cousin
  • No Tears For The Bride-A Story of St. Perpetua
  • Bring Me An Ax-A Story of St. Boniface
  • The Girl Who Laughed At Satan-St. Rose of Lima
  • Music From The Hunger Pit-A Story of St. Maximilian Kolbe

I love the fact that children can read for themselves such beautiful stories about our beloved saints for themselves. The books can be used both as an introduction to the saints, and as a way to learn about history and geography and of course our faith. These books would be lovely gifts for First Communion or as a gift to a god child for Easter or Christmas. You can purchase the books at