Wednesday, April 30, 2014

People and Places in Fourth Grade: Central and South America

First Son is finishing up Year 1 of Level 2 Mater Amabilis (fourth grade). For his People and Places studies, we focused on Central and South America. I think you could include North America, but he knows that pretty well already. I'll tell you what we did this year, and then I'll tell you how I intend to change it (hopefully for the better) for First Daughter in a few years.

Independent Reading

Each week, once a week, First Son read from a book I selected set in Central or South America, some of which were found on the list of suggested reading on the Mater Amabilis site. I did not require narrations from this reading. My hope was to give First Son an introduction to some of the people and features of the area but I wasn't necessarily interested in his ability to spout off a lot of information. I tried to favor fiction over non-fiction but not exclusively so.

Hidden World of the Aztec by Peter Lourie is an introduction to the Aztecs through archeological work being done in the present. Having visited some of these sites myself, I couldn't resist asking First Son to read something about them.

Where the Flame Trees Bloom by Alma Flor Ada is one recommended by Mater Amabilis. I enjoyed these stories myself, but I think First Son was a little bored by them.

The Cay by Theodore Taylor is one of my favorite books. I thought it would appeal particularly to a boy and First Son did admit he liked it by the end.

Tierra Del Fuego: A Journey to the End of the Earth by Peter Lourie is my favorite of Mr. Lourie's book. It's a travel memoir more than a non-fiction book about the island.

Chucaro: Wild Pony of the Pampa by Francis Kalnay is a story of a young boy on a ranch in the Pampas of Argentina. First Son didn't think it was very exciting but he didn't complain about it, either.

To Go Singing through the World: The Childhood of Pablo Neruda by Deborah Kogan Ray is a picture book biography of Pablo Neruda. I like including biographies and this one is short. I opted not to read it aloud because I didn't think my little ones would be very interested.

Amazon by Peter Lourie is a look at the Amazon River today. It's nonfiction and a pretty easy read.

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson is a book I loved. I thought it was exciting and fun. First Son did not like it, but I think this was due more to the female protagonist (sometimes you have to read about girls) and because I tried to fit it in too quickly at the end of the year. He had to read larger sections of it at a time and that frustrated him, not because the reading was difficult, but because he'd rather be doing something else.

Jorge from Argentina is one I read aloud to the children after Second Son received it from his godparents for Christmas. The timing was convenient for our studies, but it's a great little story on Pope Francis. All my kids enjoyed it and First Daughter could have read it herself.

Book basket (books I requested from our library for perusing but did not require)

The Aztec Empire (True Books) by Sunita Apte

Aztec, Inca & Maya (DK Eyewitness Books)

Amazon Wildlife (Insight Guide)

Patagonia: Wild Land At The End Of The Earth with photography by Tim Hauf, just so we could look at the photographs.

The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America's Largest Mammal (Scientists in the Field Series) by Sy Montgomery is a book I found during the school year and didn't want to add it to our already full schedule, but it's a really interesting book on the tapir and being a scientist in South America.


Each week, I asked First Son to trace from a map of Central or South America. First, he made a map of Central America and added in geographical features like mountains and lakes. Then he traced each of the Central American countries and islands individually or in small groups, just a little each week. Later, he made a large map by tracing all of South America and colored it by geographical region. He followed that with one country a week from South America. On the country maps, he had to mark the capital, a few large cities, and at least a few major features like the highest point or a volcano. First Son was much too frustrated drawing freehand maps last year, so we stuck with tracing. I went through a few different atlases in search of the best one for his mapwork. I wanted one that would be clear for him but also include a good amount of information.

I had a picture atlas I bought when First Son was in kindergarten or first grade, but it was not very detailed. I wanted something better for First Son to copy. After asking around on some message boards (thank you to all the Mater Amabilis folks who responded!) I bought Rand McNally's Answer Atlas. I think this is a pretty good atlas for middle grade children. It's a bit older, so for some continents (like Africa), that could be a problem, but overall I was pleased.

I was lucky, though, to find an old copy of the Geography Coloring Book (3rd Edition). (Mine is the second edition.) This one was much easier for First Son to trace. I also found his copy of Maps, Charts, and Graphs D has a really clear set of political maps in an atlas in the back of the book. It's no frills, but that would have actually worked quite well. Again, it hasn't been revised in a while, but you could just talk about the newer countries.

My favorite atlas is one I received as a gift for Christmas. It's truly wonderful and I highly recommend it if you have room in your budget: National Geographic Concise Atlas of the World, Third Edition. The maps are beautiful and large, though the binding does make it hard to see a small part of the maps. I wouldn't recommend this for tracing, as the resulting maps might be too big to fit in a regular folder, but it's wonderful for perusing and locating places of interest.


I wanted to show First Son some videos, especially of the Amazon and the rain forest because I thought they might convey the grandeur of the landscape in a way different from the books. I found a series available for streaming on Amazon (ironic?) called Wild South America: The Complete Series. I planned to watch one episode every third week or so during our last two terms.

Picture Books

About once a week, I read aloud a picture book set in Central or South America, just for fun. I did not comment on the relationship between the books selected and the countries First Son was mapping, though I know he sometimes noticed the connection. The selections were our Reading-Around-the-World books for the year, so I was mainly interested in quality picture books set in Central America or South America. Hopefully I'll get some posts up about the books I found and can link it here.

What I'll Change

I hadn't read the Mater Amabilis page carefully enough and assigned the People and Places reading in addition to First Son's independent reading. This made for a lot of reading. He could handle it alright (though not every fourth grader would have), but I think it prevented him from enjoying the reading as much as he might have. I also assigned a lot of books because some of them seemed really short and relatively easy for him to read. I'll choose fewer books next time and cycle them within the other independent reading books. I reserve the right to change the books I intend to assign based on new books I find and First Daughter's interests, but if I were planning for next year (I'm not), I would probably choose Where the Flame Trees Bloom, The Tapir Scientist, and Journey to the River Sea. I'd probably also assign To Go Singing through the World again, which is short. Then we'd have a short biographical book, a memoir, a nonfiction book, and fiction.

For the mapwork, I would think about having First Daughter draw maps freehand. I always loved drawing maps myself and think drawing them forces a student to really concentrate on all the features. If she is not inclined (I'm not ready to force the issue), we're going to get a new edition of the Geography Coloring Book and have her follow the instructions to color the appropriate regions.

The kids enjoyed the first few videos, but they quickly tired of them. I am not opposed to videos for school (obviously) but they rarely seem necessary. We only watched two or three of them. If they're still available for streaming, I might offer them to First Daughter.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: A Family Journey with Jesus through Lent

by Angela M. Burrin

I bought this book at a going-out-of-business sale at a bargain and decided to give it a try this Lent. It has readings for each day of Lent (Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, but not for Sundays which are technically part of Lent). Every reading is based on a Gospel passage and is narrated by a child or a disciple. The concept allowed the child narrators to share bits of life in Israel at Jesus's time which might be new to readers, but it was confusing because the narrators would switch between children and towns. I was surprised to see a reference to eating "popped corn." Because corn is a New World crop, they would not have eaten actual popped corn and the insertion of something weird like that made me question all of the details.

My biggest disappointment was the language used to retell the Bible stories. This is probably a symptom of my studies of Charlotte Mason's works and those of Sofia Cavaletti, both of whom argue we should read the actual words of Scripture to our children (albeit sometimes abridged to shield the littlest ones from violence or adult themes). The retellings seemed more than anything to be a weak substitute for Scripture itself. Quite a few of the stories also included wording like "this story means" or "this story teaches us." Words like that insinuate there is only one layer of Scripture. It's so much more beautiful to read Scripture with children and then wonder together about what it means, as Sofia Cavaletti suggests.

After the Gospel story each day, there is a section called "Jesus, Speak to Me" in which children are admonished by Jesus to pray or serve their family or trust him. There was nothing wrong with this section except that it sometimes seemed forced. A few of the activity suggestions almost made Kansas Dad and me groan as we read them.

I suppose this book might be good for a family without a history of reading Scripture or praying together because it gives a structure, but I'm sure there are better books available. Next year, I'm choosing something else.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Second Son-isms

Second Son, at three years old, is such a delight in his prattle and chattering. Here are a few of his phrases:

"I'm done dleaning." - "I'm done eating."

"A F T E O. That spells..." - It always spells something different, usually something he wants.

"I'm sirsty!" - "I'm thirsty," yelled as if his life depended on a drink immediately and we've all been denying him water for hours.

"Friedegg" - "Friday"

"umquested" - "request," as in when I reserve books at the library for Kansas Dad to pick up on Library Day (otherwise known as "Friedegg")

"pewerter" - "computer"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

On Shoes

Last weekend, my mother-in-law and I took all four kids shoe shopping. We needed six pairs of shoes: sneakers and sandals for each of the boys and summer church shoes for each of the girls.

Imagine what it was like going to four different stores and getting all four kids sized and trying on shoes in the toddler, girls' and mens' sections.

Yeah, that's how well it went. 

At the end of it, we went home with four pairs of shoes, five pairs of clip-on earrings, two sets of hair bows for Easter, and Second Daughter picked out a stuffed unicorn to buy with her own money.

I sent Kansas Dad to a different location of one of the stores the next day to pick up the two other pairs of shoes. So while we didn't get them all in one swoop, I'm counting it a success because the kids didn't have to go to another store (and neither did I).

Additional information you didn't need to know about our shoes:
  • First Son, who is ten, is now wearing a mens' seven and a half. Mens. 7.5.
  • Second Son, who is three, is now wearing a half size larger than Second Daughter, who is five.
  • Said three year old now adores the shoes he refused to try on at the last store. 
  • First Son really hates shoe shopping, so much so that his old pair had about six holes spread across the two shoes, but he would rather keep wearing them than get new ones.
  • Second Daughter will only wear shoes that sparkle somewhere or somehow.
Is it wrong to pray no one needs shoes for about two years? I may need that long to recover from a phobia of shoe stores with small children in tow.

I anticipate keeping the blog quiet through Holy Week and maybe through Divine Mercy Sunday. Have a blessed Easter!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quote: The Idea of a University (Fifth Discourse)

Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman in the fifth discourse of The Idea of a University, in part one:
It is a great point then to enlarge the range of studies which a University professes, even for the sake of the students; and, though they cannot pursue every subject which is open to them, they will be the gainers by living among those and under those who represent the whole circle. This I conceive to be the advantage of a seat of universal learning, considered as a place of education. An assemblage of learned men, zealous for their own sciences, and rivals of each other, are brought, by familiar intercourse and for the sake of intellectual peace, to adjust together the claims and relations of their respective subjects of investigation. They learn to respect, to consult, to aid each other. Thus is created a pure and clear atmosphere of thought, which the student also breathes, though in his own case he only pursues a few sciences out of the multitude....A habit of mind is formed which lasts through life, of which the attributes are, freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom; or what in a former Discourse I have ventured to call a philosophical habit.
In part two:
Knowledge is capable of being its own end. Such is the constitution of the human mind, that any kind of knowledge, if it be really such, is its own reward. And if this is true of all knowledge, it is true also of that special Philosophy, which I have made to consist in a comprehensive view of truth in all is branches, of the relations of science to science, of their mutual bearings, and their respective values. What the worth of such an acquirement is, compared with other objects which we seek,--wealth or power or honour or the conveniences and comforts of life, I do not profess here to discuss; but I would maintain, and mean to show, that it is an object, in its own nature so really and undeniably good, as to be the compensation of a great deal of thought in the compassing, and a great deal of trouble in the attaining.
In part six:
We are instructed, for instance, in manual exercises, in the fine and useful arts, in trades, and in ways of business; for these are methods, which have little or no effect upon the mind itself, are contained in rules committed to memory, to tradition, or to use, and bear upon an end external to themselves. But education is a higher word; it implies an action upon our mental nature, and the formation of a character; it is something individual and permanent, and is commonly spoken of in connexion with religion and virtue. When, then, we speak of the communication of Knowledge as being Education, we thereby really imply that that Knowledge is a state or condition of mind; and since cultivation of mind is surely worth seeking for its own sake, we are thus brought once more to the conclusion, which the word "Liberal" and the word "Philosophy" have already suggested, that there is a Knowledge, which is desirable, though nothing come of it, as being of itself a treasure, and a sufficient remuneration of years of labour.
In part nine:
Surely it is very intelligible to say, and that is what I say here, that Liberal Education, viewed in itself, is simply the cultivation of the intellect, as such, and its object is nothing more or less than intellectual excellence. Every thing has its own perfection, be it higher or lower in the scale of things; and the perfection of one is not the perfection of another. Things animate, inanimate, visible, invisible, all are good in their kind, and have a best of themselves, which is an object of pursuit.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

March 2014 Book Reports

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley is a classic tale, one I read long ago but thought I'd review before asking First Son to read it. I'll probably offer it as a choice for summer reading or independent reading in fifth grade. (playaway from the library) 

Anomaly and  Luminary by Krista McGee falls into the unexpected genre of Christian dystopian fiction. It's written for teens and was interesting enough for me to keep reading. I think it's a good choice for younger teens or those who are interested in thinking about what a remnant of the Church might look like after a planet-wide catastrophe (natural or otherwise). If you're an adult interested in something like that, you can't do better than A Canticle for Leibowitz. The third book of the trilogy comes out this summer and I'll read it because it's nearly impossible for me to not know what happens in a series. (first book purchased for Kindle when it was one of the daily deals, the sequel purchased for the Kindle)

The Thieves of Ostia and The Secrets of Vesuvius by Caroline Lawrence are the first and second of the Roman Mysteries. I found these recommended on the Mater Amabilis site. Though the idea of this diverse group of young people become close friends in the year 79 is a bit far-fetched (a rich Roman girl, a slave, a Jewish-Christian, and a homeless boy whose tongue had been cut out), the daily life otherwise seems to be well described. The mysteries are enjoyable, but contain elements appropriate for more mature readers like beheaded dogs, murder, and accusations of infidelity. I wouldn't read it aloud to my family, but I think First Son would find them enjoyable (I did) and intend to provide the series as an option for summer reading the year after fifth grade. (I received the first four volumes in the series from members of

Unplanned by Abby Johnson (parish library copy)

The Gecko and Sticky: Villain's Lair by Wendelin Van Draanen is the first book in a series. It's a funny easy read that might be great for boys reluctant to read chapter books, but it's not high literature. I was a little disappointed in the main character's relationship with his little sister. Kids need all the examples and encouragement possible for kind and loving attitudes towards siblings (especially boys for younger ones), but the author emphasized Dave's goodness and his loving parents overall. This series isn't going on the list of books I present to my children, but it would be fine for some relaxing personal reading. (library copy)

The Dead of Night by John Marsden is the second book of the Tomorrow series for young adults, in which a completely improbably invasion is made on Australia. The second book is better than the first, but quite graphic both in violence and romantic activities. I'm reviewing this series for another website so plan to read them all, but I don't think it's the kind of series that's worth reading as an adult unless you want to read along with your mature teenager. (library copy)

Victory on the Walls: A Story of Nehemiah by Frieda Clark Hyman is a fabulous book published by Bethlehem Books and recommended by RC History for Connecting with History volume 1 (grammar level and above, not at affiliate link). I read it in preparation for the coming year, anticipating assigning it to First Son as independent reading, but later opted to only cover the first seven units of volume 1 next year. So First Son will read it in sixth grade instead of fifth grade. Set in the time of Nehemiah, it's a story of courage and faith, and a young man who matures in the course of the book. (purchased from Bethlehem Books)

Hittite Warrior by Joanne Williamson is also published by Bethlehem Books and recommended by RC History for Connecting with History volume 1. First Son will read this book next year in fourth grade. Like Victory on the Walls, it's recommended for grammar level and above, and I think it's even more important to follow the recommendation. There are great battles, destruction of Uriah's home and the murder of his mother and sister, and human sacrifice. I wouldn't read it aloud to my young girls, but it's a wonderful book showing life in Israel during the time of Judith in a way I had never understood myself before reading it. Highly recommended. (purchased from Bethlehem Books)

Unwind, UnWholly, and UnSouled by Neal Shusterman are the first three books in the Unwind Dystology, a world in which abortion is illegal but teenagers can be "unwound," a procedure in which they are dismantled bit by bit and their body used as transplants for diseases and cosmetic procedures. If you can get past the completely unrealistic premise that such a practice would be accepted on a broad scale, the questions raised regarding abortion, faith, the value of a person, what it means to be human, the commercialization of medical procedures, and so much more, are fascinating. It's a perfect series to read along with your teenagers. Though it's quite violent, I like it better than almost any dystopian fiction I've read in a long time. One of these days I might get around to writing a more complete post on the reasons why. The Catholic faith is not depicted as I think it would really be in such a situation, but I don't think it's insurmountable. Sadly, I have to wait for the next book to come out in October. (library copies) 

Books in Progress (and date started)

Monday, April 7, 2014

American History Picture Books in 2012-2013 Post 5 of 5: Civil Rights, Hawai'i, Alaska, and Space Exploration

This is the fifth and last post in a series on the picture books we read along with our American History studies in 2012-2013 when First Son was in  third grade, First Daughter was in kindergarten, Second Daughter was four and Second Son wasn't paying attention.

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, illustrated by George Ford, is one of First Daughter's favorite books. Ruby is such a sweet and brave girl in the story.

Touch the Sky: Alice Coachman, Olympic High Jumper by Ann Malaspina, illustrations by Eric Velasquez, is the inspiring story of the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal (in 1948). The illustrations are wonderful and there are pictures of Alice on the last couple of pages. This is a great book to read when talking about sports, perseverance, racism, and hope.

Akiak: A Tale From the Iditarod by Robert J. Blake is the book we read to celebrate Alaska joining the United States. It's the exciting tale of a one dog who was determined to finish the grueling Iditarod, even after she was injured.

I really wanted to read a Hawai'ian history picture book to the girls to celebrate it as the fiftieth state, but I couldn't find anything appropriate at our library. I did give First Son The Last Princess: The Story of Princess Ka'iulani of Hawai'i by Fay Stanley, illustrated by Diane Stanley, to read independently before he made a notebook page of Princess Ka'iulani. The story of Hawai'i's annexation is a sad one, I think. This book is excellent, but is much more of a proper biography than a picture book, too detailed for the girls.

Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Bryan Collier, is the biography I chose to read to the children. It's a little gritty for young children, but my girls didn't seem to mind. After our unit, I discovered I Have a Dream, which is one of my favorite picture books. We also read We March by Shane W. Evans, which gives a powerful witness not only to the March in 1963, but to our civic responsibilities and freedoms to peacefully demonstrate.

I've just recently discovered Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue, which tells of the friendship between a white boy and a black boy in 1964, after the Civil Rights Act passed into law. For older children, this could be a good introduction to a discussion about how changing the law was in some way just the beginning, that the struggle for real change meant changing hearts and attitudes.

Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, is one of my favorite picture books. I think it puts Rosa Parks's actions in perspective for young children. We also have the book Rosa by Nikki Giovanni. I love Bryan Collier's illustrations in this book, but I think the text doesn't do Rosa Parks justice; she was an intelligent and savvy woman who coordinated with others an effort to force Montgomery to change.

Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin with paintings by Wendell Minor is an autobiography written for young children. I thought it was a little text heavy for my girls, so I asked First Son to read it independently before creating a notebook page on Buzz Aldrin. I enjoyed reading it myself and found it inspiring, as I'm sure the author intended. The illustrations are marvelous.

One Small Step: Celebrating the First Men On the Moon by Jerry Stone is full of bits of paper that unfold like a scrapbook. It's overflowing with information on the astronauts and the space program. It would have been too overwhelming to read out loud to the girls, but I put it in our book basket for First Son to peruse at his leisure.

Posts in This Series - I'll update this list with links to all the others after they post.
#1: Slavery and the Civil War
#2: Progressive Era and Immigration
#3: World War I, Women's Suffrage, and the 1920s
#4: The Great Depression and World War II
#5: Civil Rights, Hawai'i, Alaska, and Space Exploration (this post)

You can see some of the books we read on this era when First Son was in kindergarten here. In addition, you can find links to all the picture books we read through American history in 2009-2010, when First Son was in kindergarten. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

7 Quick Takes Vol. 4

I wasn't going to post anything today because I just haven't written anything. For some reason I can't explain, the past few weeks have been the kind that leave me no time at the computer during the day and too drained to contemplate writing a complete sentence after the kids are in bed.

However, Kansas Dad was up during the night with a sick girl and I finally made him shut the door and let me stay in the living room so she wouldn't keep waking him when he has a full day of class and presentations and meetings and all that sort of professory-stuff. She's sitting on the sofa now staring at the cars going by and I've given up any hope of sleep.

So now you'll get the super-sleep-deprived edition of Seven Quick Takes.

I see the light at the end of our school year tunnel! We surpassed our required number of hours this week and that always makes me want to say, "We're done!" But I don't. We have two or three more weeks of math for First Son and First Daughter. After that it'll be even harder to stay focused, so I'm guessing we'll finish everything up in the next four weeks, though I haven't figured out yet how to manage the week we were going to take off for Easter.

My parents were here for a visit last week. The kids always love this special time with their grandparents and I always think of how many pictures I'm going to take before they come. Then I don't take any. I have no excuses.

Speaking of pictures, there are literally hundreds of them on my computer to go through and upload and make into albums. I am so overwhelmed at the thought of them, I haven't been able to convince myself to even look at a few of them each night (which would quickly manage all of them).

I'm also frustrated at a spot or something on my lens. I've tried cleaning it, but so far no luck.
Can you see it, floating up there in the top left corner?

The day the picture above was taken, I made the kids sit in a chair for photographs before we went to our church to have a family picture taken for a new church directory. They provided a free copy of the selected picture for us to keep. It's on our mantel now and I'm so proud to say we now have a professional family picture in which all four kids are present. (Our previous one had only two.)

A few weeks ago, the window in the driver's side door of our van broke. It fell all the way down into the door. Now, that window hasn't gone up or down in at least five years, but it was obviously not as big a deal when it was stuck in the up position than when it was essentially gone.

Kansas Dad managed to lift it out and duct tape it closed. I drove it like that for two weeks or so which should have been a great Lenten penance, but, through my own bad attitude, I think I failed to learn anything spiritually productive.

Then Kansas Dad spent some time on Youtube, ordered a large window-type-contraption, took the door apart, replaced said window-type-contraption, put the door back together again, and, being the amazing man he is, fixed that window! That's right, dear readers, he didn't just eliminate the need to hold our window up with duct tape; he made paying tolls and ordering Starbucks at a drive-through something I might actually want to do again. I told him we should go through a drive-through to celebrate, just because we could, but we couldn't think of anything we wanted.

I drove around with the window down all week, though, just because I could.

I sense a movie day in our future.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Homeschool Review: Jesus and I

Jesus and I by Aloysius J. Heeg, S.J.

I started this year using this book in addition to Our Heavenly Father (Faith and Life 1) with First Daughter, but early in the year dropped our Faith and Life readings and focused only on this book. I thought Jesus and I covered new material for her in a way that worked perfectly in a Charlotte Mason environment and she was hearing the most important parts of the Faith and Life book at her CCD class.

The short chapters, often just a few paragraphs, follow the Baltimore Catechism and present all the important information for First Communicants and those preparing for First Reconciliation. A simple narration after the reading would be perfect, but there are questions provided for those who are uncomfortable with child-led narration or who want to be sure the child has mastered all of the information. A few sections at the back combine the information from earlier chapters into a single space for "When I Go to Confession" and "When I Go to Holy Communion" as well as a section of review questions for First Communion.

I originally expected this to be a small simple little catechism and therefore thought it would be fine to do this year in first grade even though we weren't preparing for First Communion yet. It's certainly gentle enough for a first graders (and yet complete enough for much older students as well), but it's absolutely perfect for First Communion preparation and I almost wish we'd saved it for next year. It's small and inexpensive, too, which only make it better.

For most of the year, we read this book together once a week. Each lesson probably took about five minutes including both the reading and the narration, though we had some interesting conversations about venial and mortal sins that extended the time of those lessons. After we finished Clare's Costly Cookie, we replaced that reading with an additional one from this book, so we finished in less than 30 weeks.

I highly recommend this book for First Communion Preparation and think it could replace any other catechism during that year (though you may want to have other times for Scripture study, saints stories, and celebrating the liturgical year).

I purchased this book at Sacred Heart Books and Gifts (linked above directly to the book). The owner very kindly began carrying it after I asked her if she would consider adding it to her store. She did and I'm so very grateful! (I receive nothing if you purchase this or anything else at Sacred Heart.)