Friday, May 19, 2017

This Happy Teacher

I'm a happy teacher.  I love my school, my coworkers, and my students.  I also love some of the tools I get to use as a teacher- shelves of books, new school supplies... and teacher bags.  We carry around a lot of stuff, therefore a good tote is important.  So even though it might be nearly the end of the school year, I 'm super happy that I found the perfect teacher bag and I have to tell you about it!  (Don't worry- this post isn't just for teachers- this bag would be perfect for college, as a carryall, the office, for a diaper bag, travel, etc.)

I'm picky about bags and purses and will look for a long time (ahem...years) before finally deciding and making a new purchase.  My former teacher bag had been looking fairly worn (and sad and threadbare and had a broken strap) and needed replaced.  I had some specific expectations that I was willing to wait for that included:
  -tall enough to easily carry file folders, notebooks, etc.
  -wide enough to fit my ancient & big 16" laptop
  -be able to carry my laptop AND all the papers I need to grade- not one or the other
  -slightly structured with some flexibility in the loads it could carry
  -zippered closure so I don't dump student work all over my backseat
  -large main compartment without separation and a few pockets for pens, etc.
  -leather.  I knew it would be pricey, but I was ready to invest.  I know leather will last, will age well, can be able to be repaired, and is timeless.
  -I originally wanted a cross body strap, but realized that was a little impractical and probably not as good on my back considering the weight I was going to load in it.

And guess what?  I found my perfect bag!

After looking and looking and not being 100% committed, I stumbled on this beauty on a site I had already been perusing.  She's called the Meles Leather Carryall and is from an awesome company called Fashionable.  Not only am I super happy with my bag, but I love that I found a company that is working to make local and global change to employ women around the world.  They carry totes, purses, jewelry, and shoes.  You can read more about their mission to impact those in poverty by providing empowering jobs on their website.

The leather is just so, so lovely.  It is thick and sturdy while also being soft and gently distressed and still has a rich true leather smell.  I know with care and conditioning it will look beautiful for a very long time.  I chose the cognac color (this bag also comes in black, pewter, and chocolate), which is complimented by the brass hardware and sweet rose lining.

I love that my bag stands solidly on its own when it is loaded up.  Originally, I was unsure about the cutouts on the corners, but they actually help the bag adjust to carrying wider or longer loads, which is really nice.  Since I gave up on finding a good cross body, I was super pleased that the nice long straps (an 11" drop) sit and stay put on my shoulder.

Pleeeeennnnnty of room for my laptop, cord, planner, lesson plan book, papers to grade, books to read, and approximately 28 pens.

Well, maybe not 28, but there are a lot of colored pens and Ticonderoga pencils and some Saint stickers for grading.

And there is one nice sized zipper pocket for all the little things I like to keep with me as I go back and forth to school.

Isn't it cute!  I often have buyers' remorse, but not with this bag.  I did snag a sale and free shipping, so that helped, but I am so happy with the quality  and their mission that I plan to keep Fashionable in mind for my next bag purchase.

Aaannnnd... if you've never purchased from Fashionable, go visit and sign up for $10 off your first purchase!  Here I am, teacher lanyard and word wall and all, to prove that this teacher is very, very happy with her purchase.

FYI- This post isn't sponsored- I purchased my own bag and those are my honest opinions.  Fashionable does offer an incentive for referrals, so if you make a qualifying purchase through my link, I earn a small referral rate at no cost to you.  Things like this keep us little bloggers going, so if you are looking for something special for yourself or as a gift, I'd love for you to go check them out! 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Teaching With Fulton Sheen {150 page FREE Curriculum & a giveaway!}

Today is Venerable Fulton J. Sheen's birthday!  In honor of this great man who has so profoundly impacted my role as a teacher, I'm happy to share with you the second edition of my Teaching with Fulton Sheen Curriculum- 150 pages of printables and instructions available to you for free!  It is the fruit of five years of teaching faith through the lens of Fulton Sheen's life, and I'm happy to be able to share it with classrooms and homes around the world.

Common questions:
-Most of these activities were created for use with my 5th graders.  Many of them have been successfully used with varying ages with small adaptations or different purposes.  I would say the target audience of the content is 2nd-6th graders, but some activities could be used with younger students and some activities would work for older students.
-The pdf ebook contains not only the printables, but also instructions, lesson purpose, cross curricular connections, timeframes, and photos of projects.
-Most of the ebook is content common to all CCD and school classrooms- prayer, Saints, Sacraments, Mary, Adoration, the Rosary, etc. This book shows how you could teach those activities in connection with Fulton Sheen's life, but they also could be stand alone activities.
-The ebook could be used in pretty much any order and with any amount of content.  You could use one lesson, five lessons, or the whole book.  It's meant to be a flexible supplement to your existing classroom content.

Would you like to use the Teaching with Fulton Sheen Curriculum?  Click here to get your free copy!

And what's a birthday without presents?  In honor of Fulton Sheen's birthday and my excitement over the new edition of the curriculum, I would love to send one reader this stack of books!  Sheen was a prolific writer and reader, so I think he would approve. ;)

You could win: (affiliate links to Amazon just in case you're not the lucky winner!)
And I might just send some other surprise goodies too!

So how do you win?
All I ask is that you share the Teaching with Fulton Sheen Curriculum somehow.  You could:
-email this post to a teacher, catechist, or DRE
-tell a homeschooling parent or co-op organizer about the curriculum
-send this post to any Catholic parent for help enriching their family culture
-pin an image from the post on pinterest
-share this post on facebook
-post a pic on instagram, etc.

To enter, just leave a comment below telling me you shared the post and who you shared it with.  If you have trouble leaving a comment, or can only leave an anonymous comment, you can also send me an email at looktohimandberadiant (at) with your entry and I'll put you in the running.  I'll collect all the entries submitted by midnight next Monday, May 15, 2017, and randomly choose a winner to send the stack of books to.  Good luck!

Thanks for sharing the life of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen with others, and most of all for spreading love and devotion to Christ and His Church.
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, pray for us!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Honoring Our Mother Mary

Happy May!  In honor of the month of Mary, I've collected a whole series of posts with tons of ideas for teaching kids about Mary- and through her, modeling Christian life, prayer, generosity, and virtue.

Click on any of the pictures below to take you to a post with more info, ideas, printables, and pictures.  I'll spare you more descriptions...and let the posts do the talking!

And, to every woman reading this, thank you for all of the ways that you mother each soul you meet: the kind word, the smile, the caring touch.  You are what the world needs.  Keep on living that call to be what God has made you to be!
"A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." ~Proverbs 31:30

Monday, May 1, 2017

St. Joseph the Worker

My dear St. Joseph has a feast day today, celebrating his work and provision and protection for the Holy Family and for the Church.  This quote from St. John Paul II has long been one of my favorites, and I lettered it recently as a reminder to pray for the work of the leaders in our lives and homes.

"St. Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care.  May he always guard, protect, and enlighten families." ~St. John Paul II

Click here for the black and white printable coloring page:

Click here for the gray watercolor printable:

You might also like the St. Joseph quote coloring pages here and here.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Katie Reads {6}

Time to chat about what I've been reading!  I've got a Saint themed stack for you today, with books for both kids and adults.  

(FYI- the links for the books are Amazon Affiliate links.  That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.  I will gratefully use it, probably to stock up on more books! :)  Thanks for supporting my little blog! )

Since I would rather be reading than writing long book reviews, I'll give you a grade and a quick run down- totally just my opinion based on what I enjoy.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books or suggestions of what I should read next in the comments! 
You can check out other book recommendations here: 
Katie Reads {1} 
Katie Reads {2}  
Katie Reads {3} 
Katie Reads {4}
Katie Reads {5}

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, A Personal Portrait, Fr. Leo Maasburg, {A}

  • Newly Canonized St. Teresa of Calcutta is our CCD Patron Saint this year, so this book was a natural choice to give to all of my volunteers this Christmas...and because of the timing I did something I rarely do- give away a book I haven't actually read myself.  I trusted the source and hoped it was good, and when I got around the reading it over spring break, I was not disappointed.
  • Fr. Maasburg spent many years as a personal companion of Mother Teresa, traveling with her, working as translator and organizer, and bringing the Sacraments to her sisters and those she served.  He provides a unique and personal look at the woman the whole world knows. 
  • This book doesn't provide the typical, dry, year-by-year kind of biography you might expect.  Instead, it chronicles the significant events of Mother Teresa's life by sharing specific stories and encounters as well as direct quotes and teachings from the Saint herself.  This intimate approach makes it a page turner, even for someone who might know a lot about the life of Mother Teresa.
  • This is an abridged translation, and there were a few times while reading that felt a little repetitive and/or a bit clumsy with its sequence.  I'm going to blame the shortened edition, because otherwise it was lovely.  (FYI- the Amazon link above is to the unabridged version)
  • Accessible for both Catholics and non-Catholics, I think that everyone needs to know more about the life of Mother Teresa and could do it through this book.  If you would like to order copies in bulk it is available through the Augustine Institute here
  • "This idea was central for Mother Teresa: that Jesus radiates from us, shines forth through us, without words."

The Legend of Saint Christopher, Quest for a King, Lee Hyoun-ju,{A}
Saint Clare of Assisi, Runaway Rich Girl, Kim Hee-ju, {A}
Pauline Media provided me with a copy of The Legend of Saint Christopher and Saint Clare of Assisi in exchange for an honest review.

  • Graphic novels are a hot classroom commodity right now, and for good reason.  Vivid illustrations combined with high impact text and dialogue create a page-turner that is perfect for matching reluctant readers with non-fiction text.  Pauline Media recognized this need and has a whole new line of graphic novels about Saints, including St. Christopher, St. Clare, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Philip Neri, and more.  
  • I've had these in my classroom for about six weeks now, and they have been a huge hit.  So popular in fact, these books haven't even made it on the shelf in our Faith Corner yet- they literally are passed from one student to the next as they finish.  It is a perfect book to tuck in their desks and read a little at a time- the style of a graphic novel makes it easy to immerse themselves back into the story quickly.  
  • I was impressed by the depth that is covered about the lives of these Saints with books of 168 and 200 pages, respectively.  Besides just being a biography, these books are exposing my students to virtues, decision making, religious life, martyrdom, a good role models.   
  • Even though they each have an obvious male or female lead character, that isn't stopping boys and girls from both reading them.  Of their own accord, I think just as many of the boys in my room have read about St. Clare as St. Christopher.  The style, action, and pacing is attractive and keeps them reading.
  • These books have been a great addition for my classroom, and I will definitely be adding more to our collection.  I think that they would best fit 3rd-6th graders, but could also be a great help for older students when reading is not a strength.  Now, I just have to decide what story to order next.  Mother Teresa of Kolkata? St. Teresa of Avila?  I think I'll poll my students :).

Simon of Cyrene and the Legend of the Easter Egg, Terri DeGezelle, {A}
Pauline Media provided me with a copy of Simon of Cyrene and the Legend of the Easter Egg in exchange for an honest review.

  • This sweet picture book was a perfect classroom read aloud during Holy Week.  While its main audience would probably be more 1st-3rd graders, my 5th grade students were all ears and enjoyed discussing the story of St. Simon of Cyrene.
  • We only know a little bit from Scripture about the man who helped carry Jesus' cross on God Friday.  His sons Alexander and Rufus are mentioned again later in Scripture, implying that the family became Christians.  But what happened after Simon's quick encounter that led to his family's conversion?
  • This 40 page book incorporates what we know from Scripture with a German folk tale about St. Simon.  It brings Simon to Jerusalem as an egg seller, tells of him helping Jesus on His Way of the Cross, and then has Simon stick around.  Spending time on Holy Saturday waiting with the apostles and Mary, Simon hears the stories of Jesus' life, and then is present on Easter morning when the first news of the Resurrection reaches the disciples.  He returns eagerly to tell his family about his encounter.  The eggs he had brought to sell had been forgotten, but when he arrives home he finds that they miraculously have been changed to bright colors, all symbolizes something about the Christian life.
  • I loved the beautiful illustrations in this book, done by Gabhor Utomo.  The vivid facial expressions as well the contrast of action in the foreground and faded scenes in the background made it visually interesting even for older readers.  It also combines a personal touch to images we see frequently in the form of the Stations of the Cross, making it more relatable for children.
  • A small disappointment was the book's size.  It is only 6 1/4" x 7 1/2" (which is correctly listed in the book's info), but it does make it a little harder to use as a read aloud.  I'd love to see a new edition with much larger pages allowing the readers to see all the details of the lovely illustrations.
  • I would highly recommend this book as an addition to your home or classroom as a book to help celebrate Lent and Easter, as well as for a study of early Saints or evangelization.

Confessions of St. Augustine, {A}

  • Confession of Katie- I'm actually not very far in my reading of this book.  I picked it up to reread for the first time since college, and I think I am just going to have to work my way through it slowly.  Obviously full of rich truth for contemplation, I'm planning on keeping up with a chapter here and there to chew on.
  • After looking over some of the resources in this edition (nice footnotes, good forward, info on Augustine's writings, etc.) I realized I needed a refresher on the timeline of St. Augustine's life.  Reading the biographies of Saints (or autobiography, in this case) helps us focus on the truth of these people's lives, not just the legends.   (FYI, I couldn't find my exact edition on Amazon, so you'll have to compare the various versions available for the resources you might want).
  • Uniquely, St. Augustine addresses his autobiography directly to God.  He is the only audience that matters after all:
  • "So I will confess what I know about myself.  I will confess also what I do not know. What I can discern is shown because You shine on me.  What I do not know will not become clear until my darkness is like the day at noon, illuminated by Your face.  Not without doubting, but with assured consciousness, I love You, Lord.  You Word struck my heart, and I loved You.  Heaven and earth and all that is in them call me from every side to love You."
  • Have you read Augustine's Confessions?  I look forward to continuing, and would love to hear your thoughts or favorite parts!

Life of Christ, Fulton J. Sheen, {A+}

  • This is my very very very favorite book.  After the Bible, it has been the book that I have learned the most from.  My dear Fulton Sheen leads the reader through an in depth Scripture and tradition based study of the life of Christ from the Annunciation to the Ascension.  Packed with so much wisdom, my copied is underlined, written in, and falling apart.  It is the source of many of the notes in the Gospels of my Bible, and continually makes me think and pray.
  • I reread this book, either in entirety or in chunks, during Lent each year.  The pacing makes it perfect especially during Holy Week, which is retold in minute detail.  It is rich, but also attainable, so don't be afraid to just read a chapter at a time to really soak it in. 
  • I've actually written about this book and how it came to be mine in an interview with Nancy at Reading Catholic.  If your curious about the old-beaten-up-tape-covered copy, go check out in her Lent Book Series.
  • "God's delays are mysterious; sorrow is sometimes prolonged for the same reason for which it is sent.  God may abstain for the moment from healing, not because love does not love, but because love never stops loving and a great good is to come from the woe."

A Family of Saints, The Martins of Lisieux, Fr. Stephane-Joseph Piat, OFM,{A-}

  • Surprisingly, with this beautiful cover and the recent Canonization of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, this book is actually quite old- published originally in 1948 in French. This new edition is of course timely, but threw me off a bit when I actually started reading.
  • You might think, being written six decades before the Canonization of Louis and Zelie, the focus of this book would be entirely on St. Therese, but it's actually not.  Almost half of the book passes before Therese is even born, so the content of the book is much more about the lives, marriage, and parenting of Louis and Zelie.  In rich detail, it show how they raised up their holy daughters in the midst of extreme suffering- loss of four children and other close family members, business difficulties, and the illness and early death of Zelie.  I don't think that Fr. Piat would be a bit surprised that St. Therese would not be the last in her family to officially be recognized as a Saint.
  • Relying heavily on the letters of St. Zelie (who wrote extensively to her children and extended family) as well as St. Therese's autobiography, we get a unique primary-source look at the life of the family and the true domestic church that Zelie and Louis created in their home.  I felt a special affection for St. Zelie before, and she has firmly cemented her way into my heart after reading this book.
  • This book is long- almost 400 pages- and uses rich detail and poetic language to tell the story of the Martin family.  I loved learning so much about each of them, reading their thoughts, and coming to understand their stories.  However, because of the style, it was a little heavier of a read than what I was hoping for.  This is a book that could use an updated, abridged translation for a new generation to learn about the Martins of Lisieux. 
  • "God gave me a father and a mother more worthy of heaven than of earth." 

There's my new recommendations for Saint books!  My to-read list grows longer and longer, so I'm almost afraid to ask...but what do you think I should read next?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday Activities

Divine Mercy Sunday is just a few days away!  There's still time to plan an activity for your family, CCD class, or classroom.  Here are some easy but meaningful projects ready for you to use:

Click here for a Divine Mercy watercolor art project, including a way to simply explain the symbolism of the colors in the Divine Mercy image:

Click here for pattern and instructions for making a Divine Mercy melty bead craft:
(Which could also double as a cross stitch pattern)

Click here for ideas for several easy and cheap mercy bulletin boards:

Click on the image below for a printable for making a "pop-out" Divine Mercy Chaplet:

Click on the image below for a notebooking activity connecting the Image of Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Click on the image below for a post about making a lapbook connecting the Image of Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Here are a couple of Divine Mercy craft ideas that are simple and cheap that haven't made their way into their own blog posts:

One quick Divine Mercy craft you could make is this cute mini shrine:

It is made with a repurposed Altoid tin and features the Image of Divine Mercy, instructions and the words to the prayers, and a pop-out Divine Mercy Chaplet.  You can also check my original post about making mini shrines.

Another super fast idea is to make these little decade Rosaries/Chaplets.  The heart and the vertical beam of the cross are one long bent pipe cleaner and the horizontal beam of the cross is a short (~2") piece of a pipe cleaner twisted on.  String on ten pony beads, twist together, and you have a chaplet that can easily be used by little fingers- they can even slide the beads as they pray.  These also could be used for good deed beads.  I used blue, white, and red colors to remind us of the symbolism in the Image of Divine Mercy.

May God richly bless you this Divine Mercy Sunday!

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.