Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Story Folders

I've been working away like crazy to get myself organized and prepared for my Religious Education class. I don't really have a curriculum to follow but am using lots of different ideas. Since the children in this class have difficulty learning in a typical environment, I am trying to come up with teaching tools that are more visual than would typically be used in a regular religious ed classroom. Knowing that Autistic children are generally very visual, I wanted to give them something to help learn/retain the stories we will be discussing. I will be starting the class with Bible Stories, stories of the saints, the sacraments and the Church. One of the things I've been making have been what I'm calling Story Folders.First I labeled a file folder using stickers. I then had it laminated and put two rows of Velcro across the folder.I then printed out a mini book that I found online and had it laminated as well. I just cut the mini book into rectangles and attached Velcro to the back of each piece. Now each child will have a visual way to practice telling the story of the week. I will send each story home with the child but also keep copies in the classroom for review. This particular mini book about Creation can be found here. There are lots of good ideas on this site. I have also started making my own story cards for the story folder. I'll share some of them as I have a chance.

Monday, September 29, 2008


I've been trying to incorporate Saints' Day celebrations at least once per month. Since Nathan has a devotion to St. Michael the Archangel, my husband is named Michael and each of the boys' middle names is Michael I thought this would be a good one to celebrate. Technically it is the feast of the Archangels. The archangels are Michael (fought the fallen angel, Satan, and sent him out of Heaven), Gabriel (Gave Mary the message that she was chosen to be the mother of our Saviour) and Rafael (helped Tobias find a wife and cured his father, Tobit, of blindness). I tried to keep it simple. I reminded the boys of the feast day this morning and that we would celebrate this evening. Just talking about it makes it real for them. I printed a copy of this for Nathan to keep in his room. We often talk about how St. Michael had strength from God to defeat Satan and that God will give him the strength to get through the hard times in his life.
Before supper I had the kids cut out pictures of the angels and we made this really simple mobile. They put the angels in the order that they like them: MIchael on top, Gabriel next and Rafael last as they didn't know anything about him. After supper I read a story about St. Rafael from this book. It was the first the boys heard this story. It was very simple and to the point. Nathan read the story of St. Michael from the same book while I prepared dessert. Dessert was angel food cake with three candles for each of the archangels. After lighting the candles Mike read about putting on the Armor of God in honor of St. Michael. We then cut the cake, added whipped cream to our pieces and some extra candy decoration that I had sitting around and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Happy Michaelmas!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mini Prayer Table

Next Sunday I will begin teaching a Religious Education class for children who are unable to attend the regular class for some reason. At this time I have a child with Autism and a child with Down Syndrome registered. They are in 3rd and 4th grades. I am working on ways to make the class very visual. I'm not exactly clear on their learning levels or what will work best with them so I'm sure I'll be tweaking my teaching over the next few months as I figure it out. To teach the liturgical year I think it is best to incorporate it into their weekly lesson and schedule. I made each child a miniature prayer table to use each week as we say our opening prayer.
This is a photo box. I was glad to find plain boxes as I didn't want the decorations to distract from the purpose of the box. I wanted a box so that we could store all of the items for the table inside from week to week.
Inside the box for the first week are liturgical cloths. The only color I don't have is rose. Since we don't need it until December I didn't stress over it. I also included a picture of the Good Shepherd and a battery operated votive candle. Here it is all set up. The votive candle actually flickers like a flame. How cool is that? I wanted little statues of the Good Shepherd but couldn't find any that were inexpensive. This actually works well. The picture is taken from The Teacher's Helper book of clip art. I love this art so much and use it often. I may add a picture of an angel to the box as we will be learning the Angel of God prayer the first month.

To begin we will be working our way through the Old Testament stories. We will start with Creation, Sin Enters the World, Abraham, Sarah and Isaac, Jacob, Moses, etc. I will begin the Life of Jesus when it makes sense: During Advent and Christmas. I like to teach about the Church and the Sacraments by combining them with stories from the Bible. I think it makes more sense for the kiddos. I'm going to post some of my ideas here this week and some of the great sites I found to be a record of what I'm doing and also in case anyone else wants to use these ideas.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sent, finally

Well, I finally got to the post office. I meant to send this weeks ago and just didn't get there for one reason or another. I added a few "goodies" to the box as a peace offering. I had a hard time sending the Wilbur Buds as I do love them so. Fortunately, I am trying to stay away from candy so sending them the same day I bought them was a good thing on my part. I only ate one.As you can see here is my second try at the mini quilt. This time I got the theme correct. I used the red fabric given to me by AmandaJean and added some blacks that I picked out to match. I found the pattern for the hearts somewhere on line but couldn't begin to tell you where at this point. They were pretty easy and I'm pleased with how they look. I used the rose fabric I bought for the first mini quilt (for those of you who are wondering what I'm talking about, I thought the theme was roses and made a quilt and then realized that the theme was hearts!). This was my first try at free motion quilting with my new darning foot. I definitely need some practice. I used red thread on top and white on the bottom. The red came through a bit on the bottom and looks a bit strange but I figure no one will really see that side. I added a little rod pocket for a dowel rod to fit for hanging. I hope she likes it. I love the quilt she made me and can't wait to hang it in my sewing room. Click here for a picture.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Yeah, I'm talkin' 'bout me. I've been a sewing deadbeat this month. I STILL haven't sent my September mini quilt. I just haven't gotten to the post office. I finished the quilt some time ago and even bought the packaging. Now I feel so awful about it being so late in the month. I'm thinking I better find something good to send along as a peace offering. And then there's the thank you quilt for a trip we took at the beginning of June. Yes, June. That would be almost four months ago now. I'm determined to get myself out of this sewing rut and finish up my started projects. I got this quilt sandwiched and pinned and began machine quilting.

I wonder what it is about cats and quilts? Have a good weekend, everyone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesday surprise

Today when I arrived home from work Nolan had a big smile on his face. "Guess what I got today, Mom?" "What?"

"My saxophone!" Nolan has been tooting away all evening. He is very excited about learning to play. I'm excited because this is something he wanted to do and began asking about last year. It is not something we pushed him into or signed him up for. We are fortunate that the kids school believes music to be very important. Every student in Nolan's class plays an instrument. Now that's the kind of peer pressure I can handle!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Howdy, folks. I'm so very glad it is Friday. As I told Nathan the other day, when we have some hard days, it makes us so much more thankful for the weekend. I had a 12 hour training this week on Safe Crisis Management. So that meant three days of staying after work for several hours and physical hours they were. Basically SCM involves restraints to be used when a child is causing harm to self and others. My thigh muscles haven't had this much work for years. I'm beat but glad to be trained.

I finished my heart mini quilt and will post a picture soon. I need to get it in the mail ASAP. I received my mini quilt from my swap partner and I just LOVE it! Pictures on that soon, too.

Tomorrow I'm spending my morning at church cleaning out one of the third floor convent rooms for my religious ed class. Yes, the building used to be a convent and I believe the room I'm using was one that the nuns used as a bedroom. It has a wonderful built in closet. I'll take my camera to show before and afters. So much faith in this old, old building.

Say a prayer for guidance for me in this venture. I'll share some of my lessons here in the up coming weeks. Right now I am planning on two kiddos. One with autism and one with Down's Syndrome. I'm excited about this work. God has been priming me for this for years. It is still daunting but I know God will guide my work to His glory.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sew Stupid

I can't tell you just how hair brained I've been lately. I know why. We've had so many changes to our lives that my brain isn't functioning correctly. I know this is temporary and that by Christmas things will be more normal. Or, I should say, we'll have found our new normal. I don't mean to say that things are bad because they aren't. In fact, things are going very, very well. I am really enjoying my new job and am thankful that it is at a school so that I get home only 15 minutes after the boys get off the bus. I have most of the same vacation days they have and I don't have to work over the summer. I feel blessed also with the wonderful people I work with as well as the fabulous young lady I am helping every day.

The boys are adjusting well to school. Nolan loves school and has been a bit more organized this year. A bit. We continue to work on this quality
of his. Nathan is adjusting as well. Schoolwork takes him a while and so we spend quite a bit of time each day doing homework and studying for tests. Some kids just have to work harder than others. So I am grateful that this kid that needs to work hard is a hard worker. It makes something hard just a little easier.

Now for the stupid part. As I told you in a previous post, I joined a flickr group called Swap Till You Drop. I told you the theme was roses. I made this mini quilt which I have to say I love to death:In fact, I love it so much I was thinking I would make one for myself. Well, it looks like I won't have to make another one because upon looking at the swap group site I noticed that the theme for Sept. ISN'T roses, it's HEARTS!!!!!! How could I mess that up??????
I just could hardly believe my eyes when I saw a finished quilt and I saw a heart! Actually, I just really wasn't that surprised. So last night I sat down with my fabric (good thing I still had lots left) and worked out a heart quilt. Here's a sneak peek:
You can see that I finally bought a darning foot for my machine. I was excited to use it for the first time. Here's the second part of my stupidity. I've owned my sewing machine for about 11 years. I put on the foot and lowered the feed dogs. I lowered the darning foot and couldn't move the fabric. The metal piece behind the foot was pressing too hard on the fabric. Did I have the foot on wrong? I fussed with the foot for a while. No, it was definitely on correctly. It just seemed that there should be a way to keep the foot from lowering so far. But how????

Hey......maybe I should look in my sewing machine manual? Well, what do you know.....my machine has a darning stop to keep the foot from lowering the entire way. I felt amazed and stupid all at the same time. Actually, mostly I was grateful because I really wanted to use that darn darning foot (pun intended). I am a little disappointed in the darning foot itself because it is not well made. It is plastic and the plastic wasn't well filed at the front so my thread keeps breaking. I'll have to file it down myself, I guess. For as much money as I paid for it, I expected better.
Above are the scraps from my rose quilt. If you wonder about the rose theme, there is a black and white fabric with roses on it. You have to look closely to see it. I'm hoping to use these left overs for something else. Perhaps some coasters. I don't expect it to be soon. I have got- got-got to finish my Colorado quilt. After I get this heart quilt in the mail!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tutorial Link

AmandaJean is posting some really wonderful tutorials. This one is my favorite so far. Check it out for yourself or for some Christmas ideas.

I've been crazy busy with working and helping the kiddos with their school work. School is going better for Nathan but he still doesn't seem to like it much. He is such a hard worker which is really good since learning is harder for him than some. Needless to say we spend a lot of time studying. He has his first test today and he is nervous. I'll keep you informed....

Nolan loves school which makes my life just a tad easier right now. He isn't quite as organized as Nathan and so I have to keep up to date with his work a little more. We're working out a system.

As for sewing.....I was invited to join the flickr group called Swap Till You Drop. Since I've never been invited to join anything quilty before I felt honored. This months theme is roses. I have my mini quilt almost finished but I can't show it yet. I don't want to ruin the surprise for my swap buddy. I am very pleased with my little quilt and like it so much I just might make one for me. I'll post a picture once she receives it in the mail.

I'm still working on the Colorado quilt. I have the top finished and need to sandwich it and get quilting. The cat decided to make the folded top his home (or so I assume from all the cat hair I discovered on it yesterday). I need to get that cat hair removed before I can sandwich. I hope to get that project moving this week or this weekend.

I'm off to shower and work. Have a great day.

Friday, September 5, 2008

How Was School?

Day 1

"How was school, Nathan?"

Day 2

"How did school go today?"

Day 7

"Hi, Honey. How was your day today?"
"Really boring." "Oh, except we played Prison Ball in gym. That was really fun."

Although Nathan isn't exactly enjoying school, he is adjusting. The first few days were really rough but we worked through them and he is doing well remembering to bring home his homework and which classes to go to and what he needs for each class. This weeks trauma: Art class. They are doing a lot of drawing which he thinks is really hard. He is disappointed because he used to like art when he was in school (2nd grade). We keep plowing through.

Nolan.........is in 7th heaven. He loves school. If only I could get him to be as motivated and organized as Nathan!
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