Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Advent Gratitude Tree"

This year we won't be able to decorate for Christmas.  There is no room and all of our decorations have been in storage for 3 1/2 years.  When we were staying with my mom, the kids would help her decorate a little, but not this year.  As I browsed Hobby Lobby looking for some little gifts for my students and went through the Christmas aisles, I could feel myself wading into the pity pool ... So, when I saw the miniature trees I grabbed one and decided to make it an Advent Gratitude Tree!  Each day one of us will write something for which we're thankful on a little metal snowflake ornament and hang it on the tree.  On Christmas day we'll put lights on it because Jesus is the light of the world.  I'm grateful all of the Christmas items were 50% off :).

Here is what we have so far...

The idea of gratitude ornaments was subconsciously inspired by this Touched by Lyme post.  Thank you for sharing:

Friday, December 2, 2016

Jesse Tree Booklet

As another Advent/Christmas season is fleeting by I really need a "portable" Jesse Tree devotional.  This way, no matter where we are at any given day throughout the season I can just pull it out and we'll carry on with our devotions.  We just spent a few days at my mom's house and I wish I had already gotten this!

Anyway, what I needed was a self-contained resource with the actual Bible readings included, not just the citations.  I also wanted pictures of ornaments with the symbolic pictures.  It also needed to be in booklet form.  I spent quite some time looking online and didn't find what I needed (for free).  However, this will work perfectly as a Jesse Tree devotional with a young teen (and olders).  It has the Bible story paraphrased but it also has the actual Bible text.  That makes it appropriate for a variety of ages.  It has pictures of Jesse Tree ornaments but it also has a classic work of art to go along with each day.

There were no hard copies available but I bought a Kindle version for less than $5.00.  This will be more than worth it as a resource to continue our Advent devotionals no matter where we are!

Note: This is an affiliate link and if you purchase through the link I may get a tiny commission.

Here are a few old Jesse Tree/Advent posts:

May you have a blessed Advent!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ordinary People Striving to Live Holy Lives

St. Josemaria Escriva was the founder of Opus Dei.  His main message was that all of us can be holy while living ordinary lives.

When my brother died my junior year in high school our dean of students gave me the book The Way by Josemaria Escriva.  I still have it with the rest of my life in storage.  I vaguely remember that it consoled me but that's all I remember about it.  I hope to reread sometime soon.

June 26th is his feast day so I was watching some videos of him.  I was just going to post a link to a short bio but this other video of him talking and answering questions is just too awesome not to post also.  He is so endearing.  I love hearing his Spanish.

Full children's video:

Some more bio links:

Catholic Cuisine suggests making flan to celebrate.  I'm not up to that (and don't want to use the box) so here are some other options:

Arroz con Pollo (I woke up craving chicken and rice so this sounds perfect for this year! I have it cooking right now.):
There are a ton of Arroz con Pollo recipes at!

If I had some organic condensed milk on hand, this looks like an easier flan recipe:

Of course, we'll probably just end up with Churros Espanoles - youngest d loves them!  Scroll down for the Churros recipe here:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Thunder Cake

What's Schoolin'?

What an appropriate book to end our semester of personal narratives during Spring Thunderstorm Season!!  I just finished making about 30 "Thunder Cakes" (chocolate cupcakes) to share during our last class as we have a Read Around.  Fresh strawberries on top will make it even more special.  Hint:  there is a recipe at the end of the book.

Patricia Polacco is one of my favorite authors to break through reluctant writers.

[The above is an affiliate link.  I may get a few pennies if you buy something through it. Thanks!]

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Apologia Biology Module 16

What's Schoolin'?

Wow, we made it through the entire Apologia Biology textbook with my 9th graders!!  Here are some resources for the last module...

We watched these videos:

Bird Beak Experiment ~ I did a combination of 2 different experiments:

Online interactive activities and quizlet quiz:

For their last module test I simplified the test and they had to learn the common characteristics for each class and the 7 vocabulary words from the study guide (closed book).

Other resources:

We also did a cricket experiment which had absolutely nothing to do with the module but we had some time for extra labs.  We just did the towel part and then tested potato vs apple:

I hope to take a few pictures of some of their lab notebooks to upload.  They filled them a little over half-way and used graph (or quadrille) sewn notebooks (composition notebooks with squares).

It turned out to be a wonderful Biology year.  Hopefully these posts will help others track down resources and save time... and remind me later of the resources I need also!! :)

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lyme Disease Awareness Month!

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month!

I'm kicking it off with this informational flyer from

tick guy KIDS DOG with hats LDo 72dpi

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Harriet Tubman Picture Book

I read this book to my middle school history class yesterday. It's beautifully written and illustrated. There is a dialogue throughout between her and God. We're never too old for picture books!

[the above is an affiliate link]

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Organization of School Projects

What's Schoolin'?

When my olders were young we had a LOT of papers, projects, crafts, and so on that I stored.  Through the years I finally hit upon a system that really worked for my brain type, our chaotic schedule, and chronic illness that didn't always allow for a tightly organized home. 

1.  As they finished projects or brought things home from co-ops they were stored in these wonderful plastic drawers.  They worked for us because they were big enough for the bigger size of manila or construction paper.  They also fit inside a closet under the lowest shelf - although I had to raise the shelf a little and took off the wheels of the cart.  Each child had their own drawer with their name on the front of their drawer.  Since we had 3 children storing items at the time it was perfect :).

2. At the end of each school year we would spread everything out and take pictures of each child with their projects.  Then, selected items would go into a binder and the rest would go in the trash.

Admittedly, there were summers when this didn't get done.  When that happened I would put a large manila paper in the drawer with a note written on it to divide the years.

Hope this helps in your organization endeavors!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Apologia Biology Module 8

What's Schoolin'?

And now on to Module 8...

Day 1:
~Intro to Module 8; prereading strategies
~Video [40 minutes][Mendel and His Pea Plants; episode 14 of The Great Courses - Biology: The Science of Life; Nowicki of Duke University][Students take notes.]

Day 2:
~ Check the Study Guide
~ Amoeba Sisters videos for Monohybrid [plus their worksheet] and Dihybrid and Punnett Squares

Day 3
~ On Your Own problems #1-4 in class
~ Spudoodles Lab [I remade the handouts/lab sheet.  I'll try to upload later...]
~ Mutations video from Amoeba Sisters [No time in class; will send the link to students.]

Day 4
~ Module Test [Apologia Test plus Quizlet x-choice - 10 questions for Bonus Points each worth .5 pts]

Great overall resource for this module:

Online interactive activities and quizlet quiz:

Heredity and Traits activites (scroll through pages to find activites)

Spud activity using Punnet Squares: [I'm changing a few things on the traits chart so that the Dominant/Recessive pairs have a dominant phenotype (outward appearance). [Already edited]

Flash interactive online activity:
Pass the Genes, Please (Melonheads)

We'll be using the Mendelean Genetics episode from:  Mendel and His Pea Plants; episode 14 of The Great Courses - Biology: The Science of Life; Nowicki of Duke University

Here are some more videos for this module:

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Apologia Biology Module 7

What's Schoolin'?

I don't really have time to organize this right now so I'll post as-is.  Our enrichment meets 2x/week for 1 hour each time and this will be a 2-week module. 

Day 1: Pre-reading strategies and videos for DNA replication/transcription/translation/protein synthesis/RNAs. [Possibly strawberry DNA video if we have time]
Day 2: Study Guide due.  Go over Study Guide and OYO questions.  Create DNA model with Twizzlers and colored marshmallows.
Day 3: Extract DNA from strawberries (I may have them watch the video of it before class for homework).  I don't think I can stomach doing it from our own saliva in class! Videos for mitosis/meiosis/mutations/virus/gene expression/cancer.
Day 4: Test

Video of experiment 7.1 (Pea DNA extraction)

Thinkwell videos:

Online interactive activities and quizlet quiz:

Videos, etc:

Edible DNA model:

Isolate DNA from strawberries:
[That's a huge URL.  You can try the strawberry DNA extraction poster here: ]

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Apologia Biology Module 6

What's Schoolin'?

Here are some links that I'm using as resources for Module 6 (parts of the cell).  We will be making cell models but I'll give them the options of edible/inedible and individual/group.

Pictures of slides for the module experiment.  This is great since with my new classroom setup it is hard to use microscopes for all of the students.

Another link with pictures of slides. 
This is for the plant cells:

Great resource with links to several incredible edible cell posts with pictures.  This really is an amazing link!

Intro to cell video:


Amoeba Sisters Videos:
cell respiration and mitochonria
Animal cell coloring page (I didn't use these since we were doing cell models):
Plant cell coloring page:

There are some online activities here and games:

Interactve online activities:

I use quizlet vocabulary for test bonus points (10 multiple choice/both/worth .5 each for a max of 5 bonus points):

What's Cookin'?

Some dinner ideas for this week (with children's input):

Crock Pot Lasagna (with kale hidden inside - shh!)



Chicken Enchiladas

Homemade Pizza

Need to prep:

Soak/cook beans
Precook rice
Precook 3 pounds grass-fed organic ground beef from Aldi's!
Prebake chicken

Public Domain Images

The New York public library just released its public domain images digitally. Great resource for making educational materials!

Article about it: