Archive for the 'Books' Category

Lenten Lessons


As we do every year during Lent we focus our learning around the season and prepare our hearts & minds for our Risen Lord. Here is some of what we have planned:

Family Activities

Morning Read Aloud– Alternate between A Life of Our Lord for Children by Marigold Hunt & An Illustrated Catechism by Inos Biffi

Family Read AloudThe Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

Science/Nature StudyGrow bulbs and grass seed in Easter baskets- Contrast the dead looking bulbs & seeds with Christ’s death and the flowers and grass with Christ’s resurrection. Record growth in nature journals.

Bird Study– Put out feeders and record birds spotted. Research different feed for different to attract different birds. Research what is needed to make our yard a welcoming habitat for birds. Hang birdhouses before spring.

Butterflies-Order Painted Lady Caterpillars & Pavilion. (Order Feb. 24 for Easter transformation.) Study metamorphosis. Visit the Butterfly Pavilion. Research what is needed to make our yard a welcoming habitat for butterflies.

Family Project-Create a Rosary Prayer Book-(Religion, History, Grammar, Handwriting, Copy work, Art, Picture Study, Latin, Math for the Littles) – Using the Magnificat Rosary Note Cards & a scrapbook to create a Rosary Prayer Book to be used by the family.

Copy work for the Rosary Book-

Rosie– Apostle’s Creed, Hail Mary, Concluding Prayer

Galadriel– Our Father, Doxology- English & Latin, Hail Holy Queen

Eowyn– Fatima Prayer

Picture StudyRosary Note Cards, Stations of the Cross

Art– Rosary Prayer Book, Nature Journals

Music AppreciationLingua Angelica, Women in Chant, Chant from the Hermitage, Chant

PoetryA Child’s Wish by Abram J. Ryan

GeographyFootprint of God Videos (History& Catechesis), Drive Thru History; Rome If You Want To (History)

Study maps of the Holy Land, Ancient Rome & Greece

Special Devotions-Family Rosary, Friday Stations of the Cross, Our Lady of Lourdes Indulgence, St. Valentine’s Day Tea

Field Trips– Lourdes Marian Center & Lourdes Story time, The Butterfly Pavilion, Little Flower’s Stations of the Cross, Visit the Community of the Beatitudes to learn about our Jewish Roots (Call to schedule.)

Foreign LanguagePrima Latina, Lingua Angelica

Directed Reading/Narration
RosieVictory on the Walls by Frieda C. Hyman

Written Narration- D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths

GaladrielThe First Christians with oral narrations

EowynPhonics Pathways– Review Vowels with games.

RosieMastering Mathematics

GaladrielMastering Mathematics


Our Top Read Alouds

Mary over at St. Athanasius Academy asked the question, “What are the top ten favorite family read-alouds of all time?”

Here is our list in no particular order:

The Trumpet of the Swan/ E.B. White

The Chronicles of Narnia/ C.S. Lewis

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew/ Margaret Sidney

The Lord of the Rings/ J.R.R. Tolkien

The House at Pooh Corner/ A.A. Milnes

My Side of the Mountain/ Jean Craighead George

Little Women/ Louisa May Alcott

Little House on the Prairie/ Laura Inglas Wilder

The Twenty One Balloons/ William Pene du Bois

The Moffats/ Elenor Estes

And of course, the Bible.

Moose Tracks!

copy-of-hpim2144.JPGWho left all those moose tracks? That is the question in this cute picture book that helps 3-6 year olds use their deductive reasoning skills. Serve it with a bowl of Moose Track ice cream and the whole family will be smiling as they try to solve the Moose Tracks! mystery!

Snowflakes, Materialism and the Power of Beauty

We checked out Ken Lebbrecht’s Field Guide to Snowflakes from the library and as I took in the beauty of the photographs of the snowflakes, I was reminded of this thread at 4 Real Learning concerning the origin’s debate.

As I beheld nature’s tiny ice sculptures, the power of their beauty awakened my person, filling my heart with wonder. Inspired by beauty, my faith rose to the One greater than I, who out of Love created these beautiful & perfectly ordered love letters to his beloved children, knowing that one day they would have the capacity to see what once was only seen by the Artist.

As I investigated further taking in the text, I came to understand that it is true, no two snowflakes are a like. Each is unique to itself. My intellect was now engaged and seeing this truth, I knew it applied to people as well. Each person is a unique mystery unto themselves both in spirit and in body. I continued reading and discovered that it is a myth that all snowflakes are perfectly symmetrical. Often snowflakes will collide in the air while the are being formed and as a result will become asymmetrical. I found it curious that although the asymmetrical snowflakes are pretty, they aren’t nearly as beautiful as those that are perfectly formed.

I once heard that St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church said, “That a frog is more beautiful than a rose because it is more ordered.” This took me back, it seemed that once again I disagreed with possibly the greatest mind who ever lived. I have learned however that I should always hear St. Thomas out because he usually is right. When I disagree with him I know it warrants further study, although that study is seldom easy on this brain. I’m not nearly as logical or educated as the Angelic Doctor.

So, I wondered, why is something that is more ordered more beautiful? My guess is that beauty reflects Beauty and when we look at creation it is ordered just like the one who ordered it. It caused me to wonder how anyone, especially scientists (Dawkins for example) who know most about the order in the universe, don’t see this.

Perhaps I’m a simpleton, but as I was contemplating the mystery of the snowflake, I found myself reflecting on  the mystery of life and more precisely the mystery of beauty. How does beauty and order come from chaos? And for what purpose? What purpose does beauty serve in evolution? None that I can think of. You don’t need music or art for survival but you need it to be fully human, to be fully “evolved”, to be fully alive.

Perhaps beauty is the evidence of the Uncaused Cause. Beauty can not be explained away by materialism. Perhaps beauty is objective rather than subjective. Perhaps we’ve been lied to; maybe beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps we men have lost our objectivity and hampered our faculty of reason to see this truth. Or perhaps post-modern man has just come to disdain that which is truly beautiful– a reasonable effect of a materialist worldview that voids life of any significant meaning.

While pondering this, I was reminded of a book I picked up months ago but somehow  never started. It somehow got lost it in the shuffle of life. (Really I think I just have ADD and can’t stay focused on one subject for an extended period of time, but that is another post that will probably never come to fruition; remember I have ADD.) The book is written by Thomas Dubay, SM (a contemplative priest) and is titled “The Evidential Power of Beauty: Science and Theology Meet”. 

Here is an editorial from Amazon on Dubay’s book:

 “The physicist who knows nothing about Scripture and the theologian ignorant of calculus may yet see eye to eye on the remarkable power of beauty to manifest the presence of truth. It is this probative force of beauty that drives Dubay’s impressive reflection on how the perception of harmony instills a sense of conviction among honest seekers in both science and religion. With the help of testimony from a wide range of scientists, Dubay discerns a pattern of elegance and symmetry uniting everything from the astrophysics of the cosmos to the biology of the cell. Disdaining the crabbed literalism of creationist science (which he dismisses as fallacious), Dubay uses the metaphysical intuition of beauty to challenge neo-Darwinian dogmatists who deny the existence of design in our curiously fine-tuned universe. Non-Catholics may protest that Dubay overextends his argument when he concludes with a defense of Catholicism as the supreme depository of truth and beauty, but readers need not endorse Dubay’s Catholic orthodoxy to benefit from his philosophic insights.” Bryce Christensen

So it seems, I’m not the first to see the connection between beauty & the origin of creation amongst popular scientific theories! (I have to admit, I didn’t think I was. The connection seems quite obvious to me.)  I am excitied to hear what theologians and scientists have to say concerning the mystery of beauty. It should be a great read. I’ll try to keep you posted along the way!

Winter Reading

Here are some of the books we are reading that are perfect for Winter.

Chapter Books:

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, CS Lewis

For more Narnia reading see Family Bookshelf.


Picture Books:

The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Anderson

The Hat, Jan Brett

The Mitten, Jan Brett

The Big Snow, Berta & Elmer Hadar

White Snow, Bright Snow, Alvin Tresset

The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story, Neil Waldman

Snowflake Bentley, Jacqueline Briggs Martin

My Brother Loved Snowflakes; The Story of Wilson A. Bentley, The Snowflake Man, Mary Bahr


Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost

Robert Frost [Poems] [Sound Recording] Read by Robert Frost/ New York: Random House Audio 2003


Snowflakes in Photographs, W.A. Bentley

The Snowflake: Winter’s Secret Beauty, Kenneth Libbrecht

Ken Lebbrecht’s Field Guide to Snowflakes, Kenneth Lebberecht

Craft Resource:

Snowflakes for all Seasons, Cindy Higham

Animal Tracks & Clues

Picture Books:

Tracks in the Snow, Wong Herbert Lee

Moose Tracks!, Karma Wilson

Stranger in the Woods, Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick

Snow Comes to the Farm, Nathaniel Tripp

Children’s Non-fiction:

Who Lives in the Snow?, Jennifer Berry Jones

Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints, Millicent E. Selsam

Who Pooped in the Park? Rocky Mountain National Park, Gary D. Robson

Crinkleroot’s Book of Animal Tracking, Jim Arnosky

Tracks in the Wild, Betsy Bowen

The Woods Scientist, Stephen R. Swinburne

Resource Books:

Project Seasons; Hands-on Activities for Discovering the Wonders of the World, Deborah Parrell

Animal Tracks: Petersons Field Guide, Olaus J. Murie & Mark Elbroch

Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Signs, Paul Rezendes


Tracks, Zoboomafoo (Okay so it’s not reading but it is fun and educational!)

Rocky Mountain Catholic Home Educator’s Conference

June 21-23, 2007

The Glory of God is man fully alive! -St. Irenaus

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“Every experience of beauty points to infinity.”

-Hans Urs von Balthasar
June 2018
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