Children’s Lent readings

Hey everyone! Happy Friday!

Today I wanted to share with you some of our favorite books that we have been enjoying as part of our spiritual care with kids. All of these books you can get on Ancient Faith Publishing as well as St. Vladimir bookstore website.

Small books about Saints from Pontamitis Publishing

I absolutely love these books. They are very small and can be taken to church. They have stories about different Saints, they also have stories about major feasts, and as of now my kids love using it as a collectors item.

A Child’s Paradise of Saints

We mainly use this book to read a saint of the month for our co-op but I have learned that these are really simple stories of saints that can be implemented in our daily Saints readings. It is great because it is short enough for children to understand the Saints life and remember it.

We Pray

I really like the simplicity of prayer in this book. It explains what we play for and what the different prayers of the church are. I like to take it to church with us to explain what the prayers mean. It’s simple and gentle way to explain prayer for a child.

From I-Ville to You-Ville

This book is a chapter book that we are really enjoying so far. It is a story about a boy that lives in I-Ville full of different vices as peoples names. He goes to You-Ville when he meets a girl that lives there and she explains to him how people live in You-Ville and explains the different virtues as people. We absolutely love this book. I highly recommend this one if your child is able to listen to chapter books.

The Prologue by St. Nikolai

This book is my personal favorite for everyday reading. It has everything for the day that you need. Saints lives for the day, a contemplation, a reflection, and a homily. Depends on the day I either read all of them or I just read the contemplation or I just read the homily or reflection. This is great for busy moms and also a way to read one Saint with your children.

I hope you this list has been useful. Please let me know in the comments below what your favorite books have been this Lent?


St. John of the Ladder

This Sunday in the Orthodox Church we celebrate St. John of the Ladder. He is a great saint of the church and during this time of Lent it is helpful for adults mainly to remember “steps” to heaven. How to explain this to kids?

Well the first thing to do is actually show the icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent to the children. It is easy to find online if you do not have it at home. There are steps in the ladder you can bring your children’s attention to and y’all about stools for example or a bunk bed ladder. Talk to the child about how ladders or steps help us get somewhere such as a top bunk or a stool can help you reach for things. Well in the icon it is the same thing since all the people are trying to get to heaven. But sure enough there are the bad guys all trying to get these people off the ladder. You can talk to the children about what can we do as steps to get closer to our goal which is heaven. Here are some ideas our kiddos came up with:

  • Do not be angry
  • Pray
  • Be nice
  • Share
  • Take turns
  • Take a deep breath and count to 4
  • No yelling
  • Go to church

Then talk to the children about the Cross and how powerful it is. How those pesky demons do not like the Cross and how they will get scared away and we can keep climbing.

Afterwards, have the children make their own ladder in their notebooks and then glue on people that are climbing the ladder. You can make the sun at the top with other bright colors or a picture of Jesus. Just some relation to the climb with getting to heaven.

A thought about Waldorf

Greetings homeschoolers!

I wanted to share some thought out there about Waldorf education. Recently I have been rethinking schooling for my boys and found myself extremely overwhelmed about homeschooling using the Waldorf method, especially with multiple grades. I know there is a lot of posts out there about this type of thing in the Waldorf world, how you really should combine things if you can and on and on and on those I am sure you can find on your own time. While the idea of Waldorf education and its beauty really appeals to me, I am or wondering if the stress of it is even worth it. I find myself constantly thinking if I can teach 3 main lessons a day and handwork and music and language and do laundry and make meals and get outside time. Does that sound like a lot? Why yes it does… hence this post.

Where will school be like then you ask? Well… I was just thinking about teaching them the basics of math, reading, foreign language and spelling, then leaving room for their own interests of study in a sort of an unschooling way. There are things like nutrition I would like them to know and I just recently started feeling really bad to saying “no you can’t learn this yet” to my middle son when he was interested what his older brother was learning. In the Waldorf method, people would say it goes with the child’s development and we should guard them… something like that… but in the end I think my kids will be ok.

Now all this is just an idea and it is getting towards the end of the year here with homeschooling when you feel a bit crazy from the stress of winter. I will honestly re-evaluate all this in September when we have to start a new school year. For now, I wanted to throw this out there into the blogging world and get some thoughts back.

Anyone out there doing Waldorf? Do you really think it’s worth it to do multiple main lessons a day for multiple grades? Honestly.

Lesson for Orthodox Sunday

Alright everyone I thought I would share a short lesson about Orthodox Sunday that is coming up. Since Lent has started we have changed our alter cloth to purple. This goes in sync with the priest vestments in church. And now with Orthodox Sunday coming up here is a way to have a small activity of play to do in order for those little minds to get the “Lent journey” concept.

Start off by pretending to get in a boat. Have the icons at the end of the room. We are using each child’s patron saint and an icon of Christ. The “boat” is in the middle and ask the children/child to get on the boat and see what we need to do in order to get to the icons. How do we steer the boat? Who’s going to be the leader? Who is going to steer the sail? How are we going to work together to get to Pascha aka the land of Paradise?

After the time of pretend play for the kids have a short story about this time of Lent and how the boat is the church. We all need a leader who is the priest and we all need to work together and “row” and make it to the land of Paradise. This opens up a good discussion with kids regarding church. How can everyone work together? What does it mean to work together with our neighbors and friends during Lent? By prayers? Fasting? What does that look like in a family?

Talk about the icons that the boat is going towards. What do icons mean in the church and why do we have a patron saint? What qualities do the saints have that make them close to Christ?

Just some thoughts.

Homeschooling: February

Greetings everyone!

Our homeschooling journey this week took us to some artistic places. I didn’t mean to focus on art really this week as it started out with candle making but then later progressed into just painting and making lots of doodling. Here in NYC we took advantage of the MET museum and it’s beautiful works of art! We saw the Michelangelo exhibit there and it was one of those experiences in life I won’t forget. Even though Michelangelo’s sketches and paintings were beautiful I must still say my favorite was the Monet.

Candle dipping result below

It was rougher weather here in NY these days which make me look forward to spring a lot more. Recently I read a book titled “How Children Learn” by John Holt and it was so insightful into the mind of a child. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend this book to anyone that’s looking into homeschooling. From reading this book I am noticing a lot of things about myself that I do to try to push what I guess you can call my own agenda on learning even in our homeschooling setting. It is hard to do. These constant comparisons between kids and who’s kid is reading and writing and who’s kid has more music lessons and knowledge about whatever topic is a hard conversation to be a part of among women. Especially when I am going against the grain here and delaying formal education.

With the bad weather here there was lots of chances for games in the house, lots of boys energy bursts and lots of fighting. We do have some epic LEGO creations going here though. Hope your week was good! Lent is almost here! Meatfare Sunday is tomorrow!

Painting with blue this week

Finally got Stockmar block crayons

Russian picture chalkboard update

Messy messy paint day

LEGO fun

Being thankful for the sun at least

Homeschooling: Mud

Oh what to do in this New York winter? Go outside and play in the mud! Let me just say that it is hard to get kids all geared up and go outside in the cold. It makes me want to give up every day. My only motivation is the fact that all these seminary walls close in on me more and more if I stay inside all day. So my boys found some mud and it seems to be the place they want to play all the time. Yes they get SUPER dirty… but it is worth it for me to see them so happy to experiment with it. We have been going on a lot of walks in this cold as another outing. Looking at birds nests and looking for ice is a great adventure. Once in a while we will come across interesting animal tracks and try to guess the animal and where they were going. Sometimes it turns into story time about the animal tracks and the animal associated with it.

For Waldorf kindergarten this week we continued our Waldorf Essentials curriculum. This week was making stars. What we decided to do was have a painting day and use those as our window star paper later in the week. They turned out really nice and Mr. 4 has fun cutting and folding the star shapes.

We also did some baking using coconut flour. I have a hard time with this flour since I feel like it has a weird texture but have a ton of it so it’s a constant coconut flour experiment at my house. This muffin project was a fail. I honestly didn’t even think to take a picture since it all burned and crumbled. We still ate it but it was like eating crumbled bread. My kids did not complain which is an up. What was our moral of the lesson? Sometimes things burn when you bake it boy. Sorry mama tried.

Getting through our Russian with more and more vocabulary everyday. My next goal is to get a story for kids in Russian and try to actually incorporate those words into their rotation. Yes they do not like it so much but not to sound like a total mom but… they will thank me later.

Hope everyone is still going strong in their homeschooling journey. We are gearing up for Lent here with this Sunday the reading of the Publican and the Pharisee. I will post about that lesson later.

Zaccheus Sunday

Greetings friends!

This week I wanted to introduce the catechism lesson I am doing with my kiddos in order to prepare for Lent. In the Orthodox Church we have several Sundays leading up to Lent which we read specific scriptures that help prepare our hearts for the Lent journey ahead of us. This Sunday is the Sunday of Zaccheus. You find his story in Luke 19. As many know he is the tax collector that looks at Jesus by climbing a tree. So the lesson that I am getting is from the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum, from their unit study book.

How I plan on introducing this lesson to my kids is to first read the story and ask them questions to see what they would talk to Jesus about it they invited him to their house. Next, it suggest to talk to the kids about the word “desire” and how the main purpose of this story is to start asking God to plant a desire in our own hearts for us to know God more. I think I am going to talk about bad/good concept with this story as well since Zaccheus was a not so liked tax collector of his time. There was a change in his heart when he heard about Jesus and that change brought on the desire to see him.

I was thinking about doing a separate Main Lesson book for Lent this year also to include all the art work in one book but have yet to decide on that. The above picture is what we are going for in the art portion of the lesson.

I hope this gives some of you ideas for Zaccheus Sunday and hope it opens up to discussion with your kiddos about desire for Christ.

Homeschooling wrap up

It snowed! We are so excited that it snowed before we leave for our vacation. Homeschooling this week was an easy one. We had a blast celebrating St. Nicholas feast day and did some modeling with clay correspondent with our story.

Mr. 4 is doing an awesome job using clay and forming it to what he wants. We also drew with block crayons this week. Still no recipe for us this week with the fast in full swing so we are continuing just the little ones helping me cooking.

I am reading so many posts about the frenzy holiday season and how to take care of yourself. I feel like this is vital to homeschooling mothers. There are expectations from us from our family and sometimes we forget to take care of the person that holds it all together … you. We hold so much weight as mothers and taking realistic time for ourselves is a must. Whatever that looks like for you on a realistic level I hope you take the time this season for yourself.

This year of homeschooling has been such a blessing to me. I hope it was the same for you. I will be taking a holiday break here myself. Merry Christmas everyone! Looking forward to 2018!

Homeschooling week

Greetings homeschooling world!

I am so excited to finish up this first semester here in seminary and also with our homeschooling before the holiday break. This past week we decided to continue with our waldorf story book using the story about the birds and changing seasons. It tied wonderfully with our weather here outside and all the birds coming to our bird feeder recently.

We continued to model and Mr. 4 is getting really good at beeswax and molding things into something his mind created. It’s really beautiful to see the transformation of the will in a child. We made a little cardinal from felt as well by using a Pinterest idea I saw with felt birds. Mr. 4 helped me stuff the bird and tried his hand at weaving during the process. I noticed he’s enjoying the process of actually retelling the story using the props we created and plays way more afterwards. We have not really be baking recently because of Orthodox Nativity fast but everyone has been super excited about helping in the kitchen so I allow them to help me with regular fasting meals while I cook. The dinner table presents a lot of questions about where things come from and it’s nice to discuss after they see the food that’s being put into their meal.

This week we also did another tinkergarden activity using left over play dough with the kids looking for nature treasures to put into their play dough. It’s getting colder here in NY so it’s nice to have an activity for the kiddos when we go outside since they tend to just want to go back inside if we do not. It seems like the community is wanting their kids to be outside more this winter in comparison to our first two years so it is nice that we are not the only ones that feel like fresh air is benefiting for kids. We also had a few birthday celebrations here which we celebrated outside!

The end off Fall has been so beautiful as always. I will sure miss this if we get placed somewhere without seasons.

Next week is St. Nicholas feast day! What will you be doing?

Catechism for children

Hello friends! Today I wanted to share with you a little more about the Garden of the Theotokos curriculum and catechism for children. It has been really hard for me to incorporate catechism for my boys as part of my homeschooling, mainly because I feel there is so little time to get everything done. The church is such a part of our lives since we are in seminary, I always feel like I do not need to do much since the boys are living it everyday with their father being a priest. However, recently I was watching a YouTube channel of a homeschooling mom of 8 that is a Christian and got really inspired by her teaching and reading the Bible with her kids everyday and memorizing verses. Reading the Bible has been a big problem for me, simply said I do not do it often even though the Church provides daily reading schedule for us that are not that long. So this week I decided to start reading the Bible with my kids to at least start talking about Christ and who he was.

The Garden of Theotokos curriculum provides a really great way to introduce certain concepts. For example, the kiddos are still going over the days of creation and are on day 3. It seems like the kids are actually getting it and are enjoying the a Waldorf style of learning with this curriculum. I have also been trying to do the Sunday gospel reading lessons with my oldest son getting the lessons from the Antiochian archdiocese website and just doing the lesson with him separately. Since we are in seminary I feel like there is no consistency with Sunday school, we do not have a consistent parish we go to so this is hard, so I felt like it was up to me to have them learn about the gospel readings and this was the easiest way.

I like the little added activities attached to the gospel reading and questions they have according to the level of the child. For example, this weeks reading was about the man that stored up treasure on earth in Luke 15, the activity for kids was to take some toys and explain it as stuff and then do a small game trying to discern between scenarios if it is a treasure in heaven or earth.

Overall, this has been an interesting experiment but I do see more of a discussion in my house about Christ now. I am curious about what others are doing in terms of catechism for their kids? Maybe there is a great curriculum out there I am missing. Let me know in the comments below!