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The life and times of a home schooling mom of se7en + 1.

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Se7en Meets Up With a Fabulous Author/Illustrator Team at Kirstenbosch Gardens… A GiveAway…

July 23rd, 2016 · 3 Comments

Over the winter school break here, we kept blogging about all the greatness that is Kirstenbosch during the winter season… and their fabulous events for children. They had a series of meet the author/illustrator book readings and we are bringing you one that we think our readers are going to love. Not only are we going to show you their books but we are going to tell you a bit of the back story… since we were lucky enough to chat with them. And to top it all… we have a GiveAway. Let’s meet the author, Lindsay Norman and illustrator, Isak Vollgraaff.

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Story time at Kirstenbosch on a wild and rainy day turns out to be a colourful thing… dozens of chairs at the ready and children rolling into the bookshop, that is a heartwarming place to be whatever the weather.

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Children gathered around and stories were read… and again, as one does!!!

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Followed by a drawing lesson…

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Let’s Meet the Books

These books are written about real children in a real place, they are set in a village in Zimbabwe and the context and drawings reminded me so much of my travels through Africa that it felt a bit like it is time for another adventure… in the meantime it was very relatable for my children to see homes and families like the ones they have visited in their travels. One of the best features of these books is that there isn’t just a “fact page” at the end of the story, but there are several pages of photographs and short facts at the end of the story. These stories are based on true encounters that the author has had on her travels to and from this village and the photographs bring that reality to the hearts of their young readers. Our kids loved these pages, they totally made the stories real for them.

The Elephants are Coming by Lindsay Norman and Isak Vollgraaff: In this story we are introduced to Themba and his family. Themba is ten and feels that he is quite old enough to go with the men folk of the village to chase off the elephants that are coming to eat the village crops in the night. Poor Themba is desperate to be big, and he begs and begs… but no, he has to stay home and look after Grandma and the rest of the family. While Themba is sleeping he dreams he hears the elephants coming, of course it isn’t a dream at all and Themba has to save the day…

Aunt Alice and the Lion by Lindsay Norman and illustrated by Izak Vollgraaff: Aunt Alice is visiting Themba and his family, she needs a break from city life and is coming to rest in the countryside. When the children go down to the station to meet Aunt Alice, she is no where to be found, until they realise that she is up the tree and hiding from a lion. Of course the children don’t see the lion. Throughout the story, Aunt Alice has a number of “close encounters.” There are a number of very funny and close encounters, but never any sign of the lion. In fact, Spoiler alert… Aunt Alice snores, it couldn’t possibly be a lion roaring!!! This book is funny and charming and there is a lovely little twist in the tale, turns out Aunt Alice isn’t quite as crazy as everyone thinks she is.


Let’s Meet the Author/Illustrator Team

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By way of introduction, Lindsay Norman has an interesting story to tell… and one that will resonate with our readers. Just as our annual “Build a Library Book by Book Project” began for us with a trip to a rural school in Lesotho, so she has a literacy project in the heart of Africa. Lindsay Norman is a founding member of the Hwange Schools Project, which is a literacy outreach project to rural children in the region south of the Hwange National Park in South Western Zimbabwe. The goal of the project is to promote literacy for the students, by providing box libraries, teaching resources, and teacher training. She and her team also visit the schools for writing workshops, and have writing competitions for the students. They are doing a great outreach there and you can read more about her project here.

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Se7en + 1 Questions for Lindsay Norman

  1. Did she always now she would be a writer? Yes, she has been writing her whole life. She wrote and illustrated her first book when she was 11, and was mortified when her teacher read it to the class.
  2. Does She have favourite childhood books? She was a prolific reader and loved the classics like The Secret Garden, Noel Streetfield, and Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery.
  3. What About a Local Children’s Author? She recommends Helen Brain, who has just written Jamie and the Magic Whistle and Jamie and the Horse Show, which sound really funny.
  4. Does she have a message for South African Readers? South African books tend to be put in a corner at book shops, but we have a wealth of talent here. When you go shopping for books make sure you don’t overlook local books… take a look at the local books on offer, you will be pleasantly surprised.
  5. Does she have a message for Overseas Readers? Don’t overlook stories that are emerging from Africa, they tend to be exotic and different to your typical fair. Wonderful wildlife adds to the appeal of children everywhere. Also, South African authors tend to have a quirky, different sense of humour.
  6. Does she have any advice for young writers? Write about what you know, that way the words will flow. You can’t force stories, her stories just popped up out of events that had happened in real life. For example, while she was visiting in Zimbabwe there was great excitement in the village, when everyone knew the elephants were coming and they would have to protect their crops.
  7. What is her Writing Style? She has a nine to five day job, so when she gets a snippet of inspiration she tends to mull things over while driving home or walking the dogs, and things just pop into her mind. As soon as she gets a chance she takes her ideas and sit on her stoep and types them into her laptop.
  8. And the Se7en + 1th:

  9. Who has been her Inspiration? She and her sisters are really close and her sister has always been her biggest fan and encourager.

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Se7en + 1 Questions for Izak Vollgraaff

The first words that he said to me were, “Children need their own stories, even books written by South Africans can be very Euro-Centric.” How very true is that, I am all for books written for children in their own cultural context. Not only does it provide a living book for the child to read, that they can relate to but it helps children from other cultures to visit different cultures and get a much richer view of the world.

  1. Has he always created art? When he was a child, art just wasn’t cool. He did draw for his three sisters, and kept their paper doll collections up to date, but that was about it. They didn’t have any art at school.
  2. Did he Always Want to be an Artist? Actually his father wanted him to be a technician, but when he finished with his compulsory army stint, a friend bought him art materials to create a portfolio and he managed to get into the Technikon on that. After that he had to figure how to pay his fees.
  3. What did he do after Studying? After he had finished his studies his dad sent him on an “Art Tour.” He visited eight countries looking at art all the way.
  4. Was sort of Work did he do? He was an illustrator at the Magazine: Landau Weekblad, now he illustrates children books and has done for the last forty-five years. Now that he is an illustrator he loves his work, he loves the research that he needs to do to create his art and he loves that he gets to travel all over Africa so that he can create authentic art… he likes to look inside peoples homes, and see how they cook and how they carry their water. Research is essential to good illustrating.
  5. What is his work style? I was expecting, organised or chaotic, but his reply was, “Flat out, all the time.” If you are going to be an artist then expect to work hard all the time, 24-7.
  6. Does he have a message for young folk? He doesn’t understand why art is discouraged as a career choice, almost everyone needs artists nowadays… you cannot run a business or design anything without the help of an artist. There is a lot of work in art, it is a valid career. There is real money in art for potential students.
  7. Should Everyone be Encouraged to Draw? Of course, he doesn’t believe that some folk can’t draw, “If you can draw a circle, a square and a triangle, then you can draw anything.”
  8. Who was his biggest encourager as an artist? He didn’t have one… but his biology teacher asked if he could keep his biology book at the end of the school year and he liked that. Also his history teacher gave him a historical map assignment over the holidays… and he loved that, he really enjoyed doing the research that needed to be done to create the map.


And a Wander Through the Magic That is Kirstenbosch

Of course the story reading happened at Kirstenbosch, so we took an amble through the gardens afterwards. It was a slightly rainy day, and someone told my children that Kirstenbsoch was dreadful in the rain… we had to prove them wrong and went looking for some magic…

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We were watched as we traveled along watery paths…

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Is this not the best climbing tree in the world?

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And a tree with toes… just a little bit creepy!!!

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And a walk along the boomslang… and for our non-south african friends… “boomslang” means “tree snake.” And a view of a wonderful miniature world…

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It is not actually a giant dandelion, it’s an agapanthus… but you can’t help imagining!!!

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And secret paths…

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And caves in the trees that make you pause and catch your breathe…

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Turns out Kirstenbosch is magical whatever the weather… but we knew that already.


The GiveAway

We have a set of books to give to one of our readers somewhere in the world. All you have to do to stand a chance of winning is leave a comment, before the end of play on Saturday 30 July. In the spirit of promoting local book creators, we would love so many of our readers to leave a comment… and stand a chance of winning. If you don’t have small children enter away and gift them on… these books are pure African magic, they need to be shared.

We will draw and publish the winners in the Fabulous Fun Post after the 30 July. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!


Previous Kirstenbosch Posts

We would like to thank the author/illustrator team for their time and the publishers Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with the books to review and the books to giveaway. Also, thank you to Hippo Communications for organising free entrance to the Gardens for myself, so that I could attend these events and bring them to our readers. This was not a sponsored post and all opinions are as usual my own.

→ 3 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps

Se7en Learn About Frogs and Frogging with the Young Explorers App…

July 22nd, 2016 · 2 Comments

It just so happens that, even though we experienced a severe drought this past summer, almost every hike we have been on takes us past a damp patch of ground and the song of frogs runs loud and clear.

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They may make a lot of noise but they can be really are hard to spot, let alone capture on camera.

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You can not begin to imagine the noise when we stopped at this spot in Kirstenbosch at the rivers and streams tour a week or two back…

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It just so happens that as our interest was peaked and we were curious to know which frog was behind the noises emitting from our surrounding waterways, when we were sent an app to review and share with our readers. Sure enough “there is an app for that,” The Young Explorer Frog App.

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Now a while back we explored The Young Explorer Mammals App, it was truly fantastic… for all the same reasons the frog app is just as excellent. The App is divided into two main sections, the explorer section of learning and the games section, with just as much learning. Let’s begin in the learning section, which includes more than fifty local frogs to learn about…

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All the information is in four languages: English, isiXhosa, isiZulu and Afrikaans. The app can read back to you, so it is perfect for the beginner reader to read along with, and great for the child learning another language as they can hear the correct pronunciation. On the right hand side is a key of information… in a format that even a non-reader can quickly grasp… a distribution map, the size of the eggs and where you find them, the size of the frog and their endangered status. Along the bottom of the screen, the user can scroll to and fro and choose the next frog that they are in interested in. And on the left hand side of the screen are various media: There is a video to watch for each frog, you can create your own story and listen to it. And you can hear the specific call of that frog.

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My guys immediately started making note booking pages for their favourite frogs…

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We then went on to look at the games section of the app. There are four games, a fairly easy game of pairs and a variety of level of puzzles to try.

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There is a fabulous environmental game, where you have to hunt the refuse and place it into the correct dirt bin…

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And finally, the identification game, this is great and tricky for players of all age groups. The player has to identify the frog from its call and appearance, again and again and again.

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This is a really fun way to learn, before I played with this app I honestly had no idea which frog was which… but just having a quick explore around the app and suddenly I know quite a few and the kids know dozens, oh to have a young brain! This is a fun way to learn, that just doesn’t feel like learning at all. Not to mention, this is definitely our go to guide when we want to quickly identify a frog we are looking at. We had a great time playing with this app, and I think my kids will be playing with it again and again. You can read more about the Frog App and the Mammals App on the Young Explorers App site.

This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to write it, however we were given a copy of the app for review purposes by Sasol Young Explorers and Penguin Random House South Africa and Struik Nature.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Science · Se7en at School

Se7en Journeys to North America with the Read the World Book Club…

July 21st, 2016 · 2 Comments

This is Week Four of our Read the World Book Club Series. For the next couple of weeks we are going to be posting a pile of our favourite books from each continent… and you are welcome to join us on our journey. This week we are journeying to North America, along with The Simple Homeschool Folk and #Giveyourchildtheworld.

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Welcome to North America

We have so many best blogging friends in North America, my kids’ god parents live in North America and some of our best friends lived in Canada for years… and yet only the father person has ever been there… in the olden days before we had kids. He did return home with some swish swag after a trip to Epcot, lucky man… and the rest of us have never crossed the Atlantic Ocean at all… though given a chance… nothing would stop us!!!

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Our Favourite Books from North America

Because we have used Sonlight Curriculum for school our entire school career, it makes sense that we have covered North American History more than a few times… in lots of lovely literature rich stories. When it comes to books about North America, literally dozen of favourites spilled off the shelves as our kids tried to say… choose this one, no this one, what about this one… so here are a couple of absolute favourites…


Se7en of the Best Non-Fiction Reads for Children.

The Children’s Encyclopaedia of American History: This has been the quintessential guide to American History for us, not a book that we look things up in, but rather a book we have read together slowly and surely as we travel on a literary journey through American History. This is a book packed with maps and charts and stunning photography and really provides the details of what happened when and where and how… from the Discovery of America until the New Millennium.

Before Columbus by Charles Mann: Everyone knows that the history of America began before the “Discovery of America” and this book takes you even further back in time. It is a fascinating read… it does traverse central and south america as well, and full of incredible facts about ancient times. This book is simply packed with short blocks of information, if the publishers could use an illustration to explain something then they have. We found this book intriguing… because sometimes you have to step further back in time than an arbitrary starting point… sometimes curious minds need to know what came before the alleged beginning.

The Fifty States by Gabrielle Balkan: This book is on our wishlist for school next year… I think it may well be one of those books that end up on the coffee table and never ever leaves. while we have a pretty clear idea of the history of the States, which came arrived when and why… but we don’t know the contents of all the states, the things that set each state apart today. This book is a book full of infographics, page after page of them… and we can’t wait to dig into it.

Lives of the Presidents by Kathleen Krull and Kathryn Hewitt: This past school year was the first year that we really tried our hand at memorising anything way beyond Bible verses. I know… where have we been? I just don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. A smattering of poetry, list so of amazing things, and we set ourselves the tasks of learning the American Presidents. This book has a short bit of information about each of the presidents, a little bit of back story sure does make your intentions to learn things a lot easier.

The American Story by Jennifer Armstrong: This book is a family favourite and one we have read through from cover to cover during our family school time, quite a few times already. it is a book you can dip into and read from a particular era you are learning about, but we have enjoyed reading it through from start to finish. It is a collection of true stories… arranged in a timeline. The stories include all sorts of icons of American history such a s Benjamin Franklin and Paul Revere, inventions like the telephone and the Wright brothers’ flying machines… packed with stories about exploring new territories and even outer space.

The Diary of an Early American Boy by Eric Sloane: It is only right to include a biography in our list of the best of the rest… and while we could have chosen from numerous biographies of numerous famous American personalities, this one stands out for us. This is the diary of Noah Blake, a fifteen year old boy in the early 1800s. The book is filled with delightful sketches of all sorts of out door tools and equipment, things he would have needed in his everyday life. It is a fascinating read and one that has inspired our kids to try out things they have seen in the book, for themselves.

The Oxford Illustrated Book of American Children’s Poems: A Collection of American non-fiction books wouldn’t be complete without a beautiful poetry book and this is one of our all time favourite poetry books. This book is beautifully illustrated, with a whole range of different genres of art, to match the poems. Poems like: Barbara Frietchie, Casey at the Bat and dozens of others… pure loveliness.


Se7en of the Best… Picture Books to Chapter Books

When it came to fiction we had no idea where to start and where to stop… so many many many favourites… these books are just a drop in the ocean of American literature for us…

Ten Little Rabbits by Virginia Grossman: A good place to start is this work of art, the ten little rabbits… which is a first glance a counting book for beginners. But in actual fact this is a book filled with Native American traditions. It is beautifully illustrated and you are drawn into the simple story, wondering at what the rabbits will get up to next. The story has a wonderful rhythm, and you will find yourself learning it off by heart very quickly.

Make Way for McCloskey by Robert McCloskey: This is quintessential America… These stories have to be every childhoods favourite. This collection of stories includes Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal, among others. All stories that you feel like you are living in as you wander through the pages. We absolutely love this book and have worn it out more than once as it has been read and re-read and then read again.

The Year of Miss Agness by Kirkpatrick Hill: This is one of our families all time favourite books, we have read it aloud again and again… it is our comfort food of reading. It is the story of an Alaskan village who have a visiting teacher that they never expect to last long. But there is something about Miss Agnes that is exceptional… she has that magical quality of engaging with her students and opening up the world to them and suddenly school is no longer a cold little room n a small village – it is a vast expanse for curious little minds. This book could quite well change the way you teach your kids.

Only the Names Remain by Alex Bealer: This book describes the tragedy of the Cherokee Nation, as they were forced to journey from their homeland into exile. It was a journey that took them through harrowing conditions and really was the devastating end of a proud civilisation. It is a sad and poignant read, very thought provoking and a powerful must read for anyone trying to understand American history.

All of a Kind Family by Sidney Taylor: This is the first in a fabulous series and is the story of an immigrant family and their rich tradition living in New York at the turn of the last century. They are a poor Jewish family with five, fun loving daughters. The reader joins them on their day to day adventures… not to mention all the mischief that seems to follow the girls around wherever they go. You can’t read this book and not feel like you are part of the family… this is pure delight.

Laura Ingalls Wilder: Well we couldn’t leave Laura out of it… and she needs no introduction. We have never managed to read the whole collection out loud… we always get half way through the second one before it vanishes into thin air and I find the rest of the series has been hijacked by an adventurous reader, who has decided to read through the series on their own.

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes: Is the story of a boy caught up in the American Revolution. The book begins with a very “entitled teen” he is likeable, but becomes a lot more so through out the book as Johnny is called to raise his game and rise to the occasion again and again. Lots of familiar characters are scattered throughout the book but it Johnny that you grow to love and you simply can’t put this book down, you have to find out more about the hero of the story.


Previous Posts in this Series

Se7en Are Off on a Book Voyage

Se7en Journeys to Africa with the Read the World Book Club…

Interview on Growing up in South Africa on Simple Homeschool…

Se7en Welcomes the Read the World book Club to Sunny South Africa…

Se7en Journeys to Europe with the Read the World Book Club…

You are welcome to join the club… and if you do post on instagram use the #Giveyourchildtheworld hashtag.

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Follow se7en_hoods’s board Se7en At School on Pinterest.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #324…

July 20th, 2016 · 6 Comments

Well hello from a drizzly Cape Town… this past weekend we had a crazy and way too soon Spring feeling and everyone headed into the garden for a bit of a tidying, chopping, planting day…

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Otherwise, welcome to our visitors from Imagine Childhood… who feature our Cape Town Lighthouse Walk this week…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. In case you are in need of some Fairy House Inspiration… Jump into a Book has some magic for you…
  2. We haven’t even had winter yet and here I am longing for summer and these cookies say SUMMER to me: Summer Watermelon Cookies on Oh Happy Day…
  3. Anybody need a break from Winter… how about a trip to Crete… this post, on Globetotting.com brought back some happy memories!!!
  4. And Design Mom… 7 Reasons Why It’s So Worth It to Travel Abroad with the Kids.
  5. This, on Create-Celebrate-Explore, just looks so very summer to me… send summer, not that we have had real winter yet… but just some summer warmth would be good.
  6. You have to accept, and I know this is hard to believe, but their comes a time when you can no longer contain the monster that is the junk some your children collect. Just saying. One of my kids cleaned out under their bed this week… then I read this post on Alpha Mom… I so relate!!!
  7. In the olden days when our blog was young we had a Wild things Party with wonderful Googly eyes… Well I love this Where the Wild things Are Party on Brightly…


A Blast From the Past:

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Struik Nature Find 50 Treasures GiveAway Winner

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All the entries…

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Hidden away…
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Carefully chosen…
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Nicole: Jul 7, 2016 at 8:36 am We love spotting Dassies (Cape Rock Hyrax) on Table Mountain.
Congratulations Nicole… lookout for an email from us…

We would like to thank the publishers Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with copies of the posters to review and giveaway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed are as usual, entirely our own.

That’s us… Hope you all have a fabulous week!!!

→ 6 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

The Weeks That Flew By…

July 19th, 2016 · No Comments

It has literally been months since a Week that Was Post… and I can’t think why, since they are my fave to put together… so this isn’t a week that was, but several weeks… of good times tossed into one post…

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There has been a little wintery weather, but not nearly enough…

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A few wild seas…

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But mostly endless flat sunrises and glorious sunsets…

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And little dripping surprises…

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And taking tea…

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Tons of birthdays… and the difference between a ten year old’s birthday…

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And a se7enteen year old… Just keeping it real…

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We have been hiking and clambering and crossing roaring wintry rivers in all our up to our elbows… and thrilled about it…

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And I have no words for these two nutters…

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Rowing and resting…

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There was school, but we are on a our annual break right now…

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And a lot of construction…

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Arting…

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And learning…

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And hanging…

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Book of the Week

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This book just goes on and on being loved around here… someone is a little obsessed with dragons right now, and that might be because we are way into the “How to Train Your Dragon Series…” This Time traveler book has been going strong since my parents gave to to me when I was a child and each of our gang have spent time wandering through the pages…


Game of the Week…

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Gallery

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→ No CommentsTags: The Week that Was

What We Are Reading Right Now: The Picture Book Version…

July 16th, 2016 · 2 Comments

I thought it was time to bring you some weekend reading… as one does. The latest and greatest picture books from PanMacmillan South Africa.

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Se7en of the Latest Picture Books

There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith:This has to be my book of the year… I love it completely. The illustrations are completely out of this world incredible and the words… clever clever clever. This is a book of wonderful collective nouns for endless beautiful animals. A busy little fellow is looking for his tribe and he wanders through a “smack of jellyfish,” a “formation of rocks” and a “turn of turtles.” It is a very long journey, and our sympathies lie with this little fellow, he is so tired and he journeys on through a night go dreams until at last… he finds his tribe. This is beautiful, poignant and fun all in the same book. You have to love a book that is equally entertaining and intriguing for the parent and the little listener. You can take a look at Lane Smith’s books over here.

Dinosaurs Roar by Paul and Henrietta Stickland: Oh this book is magnificent… some picture books you want to learn off by heart so that even when you are nodding off you can read them out loud to your little people… This book is right up their with the best of the rest picture books ever. It is really a book of the most delightful, bright, funky opposites… Dinosaur roar, dinosaur squeak, dinosaur fierce, dinosaur meek, dinosaur fast, dinosaur slow… and on it goes… incredibly rompish. Brilliant fun!!! This book was first published in 1994, where was I then… and republished now and endorsed by the Natural History Museum. This book has it’s own website, app, twitter account, head straight for the Dinosaur Roar website and take a look.

Daisy Saves the Day by Shirley Hughes: Oh Shirley Hughes… writes and illustrates the most comfortable books, you can literally climb in side of them and live alongside the characters. This is the story of Daisy Hobbs, a young girl who becomes the scullery maid for a wealthy house in London at the time of the coronation of King George V. She is just the most delightful and creative little character, and we had to stop and pause while we were reading this and wait for our emotions to catch up with us. We can’t help feeling sorry and alone for Daisy when she is punished for a lapse of decorum on coronation day, she just happens to hang out the home owners’ flannel bloomers as bunting in the spirit of the celebrations, and finds herself in terrible trouble. But then she saves the day, literally and (spoiler alert) she is able to go home to her mama and little twin brothers… and of course live happily forever after. Just pure Shirley Hughes loveliness… from the illustrations to the words it is just perfect.

The Dragon and the Nibblesome Knight by Elli Woolard And Benji Davies: From the very same author as The Giant of Jum… This is a fairy tale of the friendship kind. A young lad, called James, is surprised when a strange looking duck, called Dram, lands in the lake next to him. Now James is a knight, but has taken off his armour to rescue the duck. The duck, is unbeknownst to James, a little dragon who is dying to eat a nibblesome knight… he leaves James alone, because he is just a lad and doesn’t appear to be a Knight. While the knights dread the beastly bad dragons and the dragons are on the lookout for their tasty knights… James and Dram become firm friends before (spoiler alert)… they realise that one of them is a knight and the other a dragon. Prejudices are so silly and this books clearly demonstrates it. The knights and the dragons become firm friends… more or less!!! Meanwhile, author Elli Willard has a great website packed with clever wordplay, and you can meet the illustrator Benji Davies over here.

A Spot of Bother by Jonathan Emmet and Vanessa Cabban: If you have a young reader who is fascinated by farmyards, then look no further than this book. Delightful illustrations of a pig who is slightly overwhelmed by a “spot of bother” a tiny little but of dirt after his morning breakfast… hard as he tries, and as each of his farmyard friends try to help him, so the patch gets worse and worse and then very much worse. In fact, he is so mortified that he hides away until after dark and then trips in a muddy puddle… (spoiler alert) the muddy puddle has dire consequences… and just like a good and muddy face mask, our piggy friend finds himself completely clean. And then oops, he sits on a cherry. This book has lots of lovely alliteration and lovely new words to learn. It’s a great bedtime read for any small potential farmer. Jonathan Emmet can be found on his website here.

Match It, Early Learning Fun from Priddy Books: All my kids stopped by this book and played in it… I just left this on the lounge table and everyone was dashing to figure out the puzzles. The first few pages are really easy, find two matching pairs of household items or dogs… just 2 pairs on a page… slowly and steadily it builds up to a lovely cluttered pages and twenty pairs to find of farm animals, zoo animals, clothes and cakes. And then the Mega-Puzzle oh my, find forty pairs of matching items on a page full of typically stunning Priddy photograph images. For those folk who want to get better and better… there is a clock on each page so that you can write your time on it and try to improve on it next time. And of course, since it is a wipe clean Priddy Book it comes with its own special wipe clean pen. Gotta love it!!! You can take a look at the book on the Priddy Book Website at this link.

Tidy by Emily Gravett: This is such a fabulous book, it got it’s very own review a little while back. This is the story of Pete a fastidious badger, who likes to tidy everything, the whole countryside in fact. It is somewhat dire consequences. He does eventually realise the error of his ways, and with the help of his woodland friends he puts things right. This book is a definite must read … find it read it and enjoy it!!!


Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for the copies of these books for review purposes. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expressed are as usual, our own.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en Discover the Streams, Springs and Ponds at Kirstenbosch…

July 14th, 2016 · 1 Comment

We have hit holiday mode… which means I am nowhere near my computer and blogging is taking a back seat to the fun things we are doing right now… and that includes a whole lot of getting outdoors and taking every opportunity to enjoy the Winter Wonders Programme and Free Entrance to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for kids.

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Every Saturday during the holidays, they have a fantastic guided tour of the gardens under the guise of “Family Treasure Hunts…” Think following clues and exploring your way through the gardens and the treasure is ultimately a heap of knowledge. The volunteer guides are fantastic and spend about two hours answering bazillions of questions, from everybody there… short and tall… about plants and birds and rocks and trees… with enormous patience and enthusiasm. They obviously are passionate about their task and they do it well.

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You can choose from four themes, and that is the problem… they are that good, and we have only managed two of them. I really hope they offer these family friendly tours to families again and again because we are loving them. You can pick your treasure hunt from flowers to trees and rivers to the conservatory… whatever the weather there is some good exploring to do.


Streams, Springs and Ponds

This week we chose the watery tour… and our first clue led us into the gardens to find the teddy bear ears…

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The Lily Pond…

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And could you drink this water or not… hmmm a lot of reeds are filtering the water… it is moving… lots to think about.

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Onto the next clue…

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And dashing off to find the next clue… I love that the kids are intended to get heart and soul involved and can (and do) ask as many questions as comes to mind, not to mention encouraged to stop and listen, touch and feel… and there is always a good spot to climb and clamber, all in all making what could be a drudgy visit to the botanical gardens something fun and exciting and something they want to do again and again…

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And we have been hoping to spot one of these fresh water crabs in a sunny spot for ages, so that we could get a really good look at it…

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And then we got a little bit side tracked by banana trees…

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There are the bananas and hanging down at the bottom is the enormous flower…

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And this… is a banana seed. Have you ever. You learn new things every day.

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Following the Stream…

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To the source…

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There is a spring in that pool, created by the different lanes of rock… the Table Mountain Sandstone is porous, and the Cape Granite is not. So the water is forced out and creates this beautiful stream that is always 18 degrees Celsius.

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Meanwhile, the guides had a collection of magnifying glasses at hand for taking a closer look.

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We stopped to look at the science experiments…

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Beautiful mountain water…

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Pond life…

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While wandering through the gardens…

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Through secret tunnels…

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Past incredible plants and creatures…

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One thing we have all learnt is to stop and read the signs… there is a lot to learn on them…

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On we went…

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Into the wetlands… and real live bull rushes… and the sounds of dozens of frogs…

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And then we learnt where the rivers and streams flow…

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We are all about the source to the sea…

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You can download the full Winter Wonderland programme here.


Finding 50 GiveAway

Don’t forget we have a fabulous GiveAway running right now… click on the link and leave a comment…

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Previous Kirstenbosch Posts

We would like to thank the publishers Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa who supplied us with the spotter’s guides to giveaway. Also, thank you to Hippo Communications for organising free entrance to the Gardens for myself, so that I could attend these events and bring them to our readers. This was not a sponsored post and all opinions are as usual my own.

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