se7en

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

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The What, Where, Why and How of Family School…

February 12th, 2016 · 4 Comments

I have a nice little growing collection of homeschool questions, gathering for a homeschool post, but one question that comes up again and again is how and what do we do for family school. How on earth do we all learn together, with such a wide age spacing of children, the youngest is 6, the oldest is eighteen and everything in-between. We have always done a good dose of family school, right from the time my kids were tiny we have done some sort of family learning. I can’t actually remember a time when we weren’t in school, how does one define when exactly school starts other than when my kids are born they are part of the family culture and they may begin in my arms at the table, and then graduate to their own spot, but I am guessing even before they were born they were part of family school and will have always heard the lilt of the day from their own special place at the table.

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School in our house is very clearly divided into different sections, where there are different expectations. One area is family school where we learn all together and we cover all the things that can be learnt as a family, and then there is what my kids call “real school” where they work through their own reading, history, math and science.


How We Do Family School

  1. Where: Around the kitchen table, it really is the place we call home and where we spend most of our days. Honestly mealtimes would pass in a flash if we didn’t spend time doing a little learning while we were there… if I have everyone in one spot then I am going to make the very most of the moment and grab everyone’s attention while I can.
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  3. Who: Well everyone who is home… we have all our meals together and family school is tied very closely to mealtimes, when everyone is naturally together. Sometimes kids are here, there or every where, off for day outing or for my older ones, off on a course… and the father person is typically at work. But whoever is home on a given day will have breakfast…
  4. When: My kids are not the best at transitions… if they are doing one thing it can take an age to move to another, if they are doing school it can take an age to stop for lunch and if they are at a mealtime it can take an age to move from the table. So I naturally took advantage of that, especially when my kids were tiny and I either couldn’t move from the table because I was nursing or a small person was lagging through a meal… we kept a few books beside the table and just gently began reading them to keep folk at the table and engaged and stop little folk wandering off while we waited for one person to finish up.

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  5. Why: A family culture is important, I want my kids to grow up knowing similar things, I want them to have stumbled their way on a great adventure together, discovered a huge event by surprise, have learnt the details of a person’s life, which turns that person into a family hero, together and battled to learn a long and epic poem together, for instance. We can do this with books around the kitchen table. One of the great advantages of homeschooling is that you can teach the things that you think are important as a family that you wouldn’t necessarily have time for if your children were in school… I have a handful of topics that I think would be an advantage for my kids to know in their hearts… not so that they can all become rocket scientists or get ahead but because some things are beautiful and need to be placed on our hearts from an early age for us to embrace them. Things that are useful to the whole person.
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  7. How: In my ordered mothering mind it would begin with the table fresh and cleared and ready to go… but I appear to be the only one who hunkers after such order… so it is more like as a meal begins to end so I begin to read from the pile of books… my kids generally just listen away. There maybe side conversations and there may be clatter and noise at first, but I just read on and it quietens down really quickly, they want to hear what I am reading. Occasionally someone will move away from the table and cook something at the play kitchen… but I have a very low tolerance for things going on around me while I read, so mostly they sit quietly and listen. Otherwise my teens might move away to the next table, but never too far… they like to ensure that their younger siblings are listening and have no trouble interjecting a few explanations of their own as we go along. Once I am finished reading, if there are a few things they want to pop into their family journals, which are a record of what we learn together then, we clear the table and the work on their journals a little as we transition into our real school for the day.
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  9. The What: Well this is the fun part… you can go wild and really choose anything you would like to teach your kids here. With most things we do, we go really really slowly… some books take us the entire year… there is no rush when it comes to a lifestyle of learning, you don’t have to learn everything at once. I make sure that we do things that I am interested in and I share materials that I have loved… how else will they catch the love of learning. Also, this is a time when I am learning as much as they are… I am diving in and part of learning alongside them. I firmly believe that excellent materials are excellent for every age… if a book is great and engaging then it will be great and engaging for all of us. I mean, have you seen some of the great books available to learn from… grade level or age level are really not a prerequisite for loving a great book or mastering a new piece of information.

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  10. What We Might Actually Cover:

  11. Most Days:

    • Bible Teaching: A bible reading, or a bible study, or a christian biography;
    • Poetry: Because everyone loves poetry and it is a way to cut straight through any age barriers… a good poem is a good poem, whatever your age.
    • Memorisation: A bible verse, a hymn, a poem, some Latin, or a little Afrikaans. There are millions of things to think of memorising… it is cool to learn certain things off by heart. Trust me on this the sense of achievement when you have learnt something well… The big thing is OR… we learn a few things out loud, slow and steady… rather than heaps of stuff all at once and then forgetting. And honestly, the smaller they are the easier it is for them to memorise things… and so there is no getting off learning things based on age (unless it is my age!!!).
    • Math: We have started at the Beginning of The Life of Fred this year and everyone is loving it… great in so many ways!!!
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    • Word of the Day: One or two words that crop up in our daily reading… we use them in sentences and we learn how to spell them.
    • History: We are slowly but surely working our way through The History of the World in a 1000 Objects and we read a double page spread each day.
    • South Africa: We don’t have a South African Curriculum, so we have to find ways to include it into our homeschool. We use a lot of resources from the library and usually have some sort of South African interest book that we are reading together, either nature study or social studies, cook books and story books. One year we virtually explored all the Game Parks, other times we have taken virtual road trips. This past year we have explored the coast of South Africa… from Namibia to Mozambique.
    • Family Read-A-Louds: These are books that I love, or loved reading as a child, and I think our kids need to hear together and we read them together, a chapter or two a day.

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    And Most Weeks

    • Monday: Country of the Week… we use the Window on the World, and an Animal of the Week, which they tend to look up in our field guides… to get all the facts.
    • Tuesday: Introduce our Musician of the Week: With eight kids all whistling, humming or drumming their own tunes around the table during school time it can get a little crazy… so I started playing classical music in the back ground… it definitely quietens things down significantly and so now we do a musician of the week and then play that musician’s music when we need a little music throughout the week.
    • Wednesday: Artist of the Week: We change this up and down quite a bit, we love art appreciation books… right now we are doing Artistic Pursuits, which we love and then try and find out more about the artist in our other art books.
    • Thursday: A Journey… this is how we introduce a little more geography to our school… because everyone loves to travel, we virtually travel around South Africa and Southern Africa a lot and we are about to go back and retrace the Hokulea journey.
    • Friday: Nature Study, the Great Outdoors, Science Experiments, something different.
  12. And Finally:
  13. This is a part of our school that is fundamental to our school, and yet we have very little to physically show for it… it really is learning for the sake of learning. It is also not perfect school, we aren’t filling in a bazillion activity sheets or producing exquisite journals, it is just reading and learning together, because it is fun. We do a lot of quizzing, to make sure that folk are listening and remembering what they have learnt. We always ask for a fact or two about the country of the week or the animal of the week… in the read-a-louds, we ask what happened when we last read… and we ask from the youngest to the oldest. The youngest person might remember a fact or two, by the time we get to the older kids they have to really stretch their memories or bring in their knowledge from elsewhere…

And that’t it… Family school around the kitchen table… making memories that will hopefully last a lifetime.

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→ 4 CommentsTags: Organizing School · Se7en at School

Se7en+1 Meet the Legend Julia Donaldson…

February 10th, 2016 · 4 Comments

I mentioned a week or two back that Julia Donaldson would be in town… and she was… She flew in, did a whole lot of rushing about, sharing her love of books with children from all over Cape Town… Held a couple of shows at the Baxter Theatre and now she is on her way to Johannesburg.

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I think we can safely say that all book loving families have at least one favourite Julia Donaldson book, that they have had in their book collection and read and reread and that you probably know off by heart… you know those stories that you can “read” in the dark as your children drift off to sleep… When our first child was born a dear friend sent us a copy the Grufflalo and we have been hooked ever since. So to meet the author was exciting beyond measure, the joy of meeting the person behind the magic of a book.

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Here’s the gang, eagerly awaiting the show…

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And a table full of interesting looking props… Very interesting props… aren’t these dragons just brilliant!!!

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The show is Julia and her husband singing their way through a number of her books… Imagine story time at the library, but so much more!!! The Squash and the Squeeze, the Gruffalo and such like. There is no expectation of a quiet observing audience… it is all about participation and singing along and joining in with the actions. Since they are such well loved books, and the words have a rhyme and a rhythm of their own, it is easy for everyone to join in and play along. There is no right or wrong, just go for it… and have some dramatic fun. This is a great way to introduce smaller folk to the theatre, so fun and lively and engaging. And I have to say a few small people dashed home to try their hand at reading out loud in a much more interesting way than ever before… there is so much more to reading a book out loud than just reading a book.

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After the show, we got to say hello and meet her team, while she signed a book for everyone… and that was it… a heap of kids on a hot hot day, happy to have their books signed and to have met a book legend in real life.

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For our Johannesburg readers there are still a couple of shows available this week… if you have little folk, then we would happily recommend you take the chance to see a real live performance of a literary phenomenon.

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Thanks to Panmacmillan South Africa, who have brought Julia Donaldson out for us all to enjoy, and provided us with tickets for the show. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are as always our own.

→ 4 CommentsTags: Outings

French Classic Cooking With Franck… The Introduction…

February 9th, 2016 · 2 Comments

Well a new week and a new learning adventure… last week we invited our followers to join us on A French Classic Cooking Course… And welcome to those folk who have signed up and if you would still like to sign up all the details are at the end of this post…

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Lesson 1: Introduction

This week’s purpose was to get the folk who wanted to join us up and going. Those of you who joined in should have access to the UDEMY site. The introduction was a short video… where we met our renowned chef and teacher, Frank Dangereux.


Lesson 2: Soups

We immediately had a peak at the video for the first real lesson, on French soups. At the top right hand corner above the video screen is a blue button, called “View Resources” click on that to see the class notes and tips. Amongst the tips were a list of pantry staples and equipment… and recipe sheets. We watched the video and during this week we will be heading for the store… let’s just say some of us were inspired enough to write a shopping list.

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There are two soups to make for this class… Soupe gratinée à l’oignon, a classic French onion soup and Soupe au pistou with garlic croutons and this soup is the soup demonstrated on the video and a definite family feast will be launching at the dinner table.

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Together there will be chopping and slicing, soaking and dicing… I am sure we won’t manage it quite as smoothly as the chef himself, but we do have enthusiasm on our side and supper will be sorted. We will post photographs of our cooking adventure on instagram (#cookingwithse7en) and we will be back next week with the results of our soup preparation and info for the lesson to follow, lesson 3: Sauces. Happy cooking and if you are following along then let us know how it is going, we would love to hear back from you.


How to Join Us

It isn’t too late to join in at all and if you still want to join in then check out our previous post and leave a comment… The French Classic Cooking Course is available right now on the UDEMY site at $29.00… but I have a fabulous special of our readers, wherever you are in the world. I have a number of vouchers that will allow up to fifty folk to join us for only $5.


If you would like to join us, leave a comment


You will receive, via email, a voucher that allows you to access the course for only $5. I do have to add that this isn’t automated, I have to email each of you and it might take a little while to get back to you, we homeschool a number of kids over here and email takes time… don’t panic I will get back to you with a voucher as soon as I possibly can.

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Follow se7en_hoods’s board Se7en Cooks With Yuppie Chef on Pinterest.

We would like to thank Yuppie Chef for inviting us to join them on their new Cooking School Adventure with UDEMY. This is not a sponsored post and we were not paid to write it. However Yuppie Chef did provide us with free access to the course and fifty $5. vouchers to share with our readers. Opinions expressed throughout our journey will be as usual, entirely our own.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Monday Munchies · Vegetables

Sunday Snippet: Se7en + 1 Bible Verses To Encourage A LifeStyle of Volunteering

February 8th, 2016 · 2 Comments

Recently a friend with little kids asked about volunteering as a family, she wanted to know the how and the why of volunteering, even with small children in tow. And most of the folk reading our blog will understand that the help of small children can often be a lot less helpful than we would like! That being said, we have found that volunteering as a family has been a great way for us to enjoy spending time together as a family, there is nothing like working together to create a team spirit. We are called to serve: Joshua 24:15 “… But as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” Our whole household is called to serve, not just those sixteen and over… everybody can work towards a project that is bigger than themselves, and make a difference.

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If you read about volunteering, so much of it seems counter-cultural, especially if you are approaching from a “to each his own” first world culture. We are also geared up into thinking that we have to do something huge in order to be make a difference. Serving a guest a nice drink, or cheerfully helping an old friend with their gardening, is also volunteering and perfectly doable even for small people. We live in the world of “Go big or Go Home…” yes it is awesome and dreamy to be part of the big stuff, but it is also an attitude of the heart and it is best to learn heart stuff by starting small.


Se7en + 1 Bible Verses To Nuture For A LifeStyle of Volunteering

  1. “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” Ephesians 6:7-8:
  2. To serve is a whole lot more about our attitude than our actions. How often we hope no-one will notice if we don’t put our hands up to help and when we can’t avoid being noticed, we raise our hand to volunteer and then try so ridiculously hard to impress other people, not just the neighbours, but friends and family too… we try so hard to impress, we crash and burn, fail, pick ourselves up again and repeat. We are actually called to do our best, and to serve the Lord… no one expects us to impress anyone. Luckily, because the kind of volunteering I have been involved in might have required strong and energetic youngsters… not you know, past their prime-mothers of many… and I was certainly impressing nobody… but I was making a difference and that counts, and I have a feeling it might count a lot more than we expect it too.

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  3. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15
  4. We were created to work… before the fall in Genesis 3, God created families and he created us to work… and it was good. And that is why we enjoy working hard so much… half hearted work, that we are not committed too, does not reflect our inate character. And a first world culture that is crying for the “Earn as much as you can for as little work as possible” goes against our need to work. I don’t think my kids have ever gotten back from a day of tree planting or painting a container for a school building, or a beach clean-up and said that they didn’t love it. We are meant to work hard and when we do, for the right reasons, we will love it.

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  5. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians9: 6-7
  6. We live in a culture of “looking after number one” and our gut reaction, and this is true for myself, is very often to say “no” and then consider things a little longer and maybe say, “yes.” It is not natural for us to generously give of our money… and we have become incredibly self-absorbed with our time. We talk about hours spent on our morning routine, or hours spent online not actually working… but how often we say we don’t have time to chat to folk at church who may’ve had a bad week, or found out if all a student needs to get through the next week is a bag of groceries so that they can concentrate on their studies rather than their next meal. We are called to give generously but we don’t. As a family we have found that by committing days to volunteering long in advance and just blocking them out on the calendar that those days are then booked. It is so much harder to find a free day once you are in the thick of things.

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  7. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; Psalm 24:1
  8. We live in a culture of ownership, we need to remember who we belong to. It is one thing to say that we are stewards of the world and quite another to behave as guests in it. If I was visiting someone’s home then I would never tolerate litter on the floor, well the time has arrived that a visit to the beach inevitably means a beach clean-up before we play. No we don’t own the beach or the park, or the mountainside for that matter, but we do care about it and we do need to keep them clean and not wait for someone else to clean it up.

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  9. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
  10. I mentioned before that we are called to work, yet we are so tempted to feast on the plate of idleness… we can spend our days wasted in busy-ness… there is nothing like the fatigue of a a couple of hours spent browsing around on social media… compared to the tiredness that comes from a good day of actual work. Often we say, oh we can’t… but there are so many million ways to volunteer that if you can’t do one thing then you can certainly do another. You might not be able to build a school with your hands own from where you are standing, but you could sort your book cases and create a pile of books to donate. There is no shortage of work to be done… there is always a shortage of eager workers. I would like our kids to grow up to be eager workers.

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  11. “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:22-23
  12. If your goal is to impress the neighbours, or your kids, or even your husband then you will fail. In fact, I have found the closer to home I go, the less likely folk are going to be with the things that I do… just saying, have you ever tried to impress your own kids, talk about mission impossible. Honestly I don’t think I am shining beam of volunteering example for my kids, but I do think that by consistently saying yes we can help, when a friend asks us to help with the Christmas party for local street kids, or spend a day planting trees in a dog shelter… that while I am encouraging our kids to serve faithfully they are also learning that this is just a way of life and not something we do to try and impress the neighbours.

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  13. “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9
  14. One of the most overlooked areas of volunteering… having folk over to visit in your home can be a great way to volunteer and offer sanctuary to those that are in need… folk might be in need of rest, they might be in need of homework help, they might just need someone to talk to… this too is volunteering and it is something that definitely requires team work from all the players involved… someone has to sweep, someone has to bake something and someone has to clean the bathroom. I can assure you that I am unable to do all that in an instant… but my team of players can certainly pull that off. We are all still working on the grumbling part.

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  15. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
  16. In a world where folk are doing important jobs and are busy with important work… it might important to just take a breathe and realise that you are important enough to spend time with your family and as a family do something for somebody else. It doesn’t have to be massive, though it can be… and surprisingly enough it will most likely turn out to be not only hard work… but a lot of fun. The joyful part follows naturally from wholesome work… try it you’ll see.

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Caring and Sharing · Sunday Snippet

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #305

February 7th, 2016 · No Comments

So February is here… along with perfect summer evenings…

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Join Our French Classic Cooking Course

There is still plenty of time to join our French Classic Cooking Course, click on the image, it will take you to the post with all the info… leave a comment and we will get back to you soonest…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. The one post every husband wishes their wives would read, on Joyforney.
  2. Here’s a Great Reason to plant a heap more trees… today. Right now.
  3. Absolutely loved this post on Mapping and Literary Maps on TygerTale.
  4. Babble Dabble Do does a fab roundup on everything you ever needed to know about Play Do…
  5. Sylvia Earle and Mission Blue II and Why the Ocean Needs Storytellers…
  6. How’s This… a Virtual tour of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian!!!
  7. Fat Mum Slim has 19 of the best Free Printable Coloring Pages…
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:


  9. A Blast From the Past:


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It appears that we are not natural tree sellers, we are okay with that. We do want to raise awareness of the GreenPop Venture… I have to say though, that at this stage we are so excited and love that so many of our readers are already chomping at the bit to send books… for
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International Book Giving Day is on the Way

A couple of folk have emailed me about this already… so excited to hear our readers are good and ready to go with this project again… and I will be getting back to you folk with all the details as soon as we are good to go!!!

And finally… In case you didn’t notice, Julia Donaldson is in town and if you don’t have tickets yet, then you had better dash…

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

→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Bazillions of Bottle Top Flowers…

February 4th, 2016 · 2 Comments

When you live with a natural maker… then between the recycling bin and the fabric scrap basket, you are going to find yourself surrounded by flowers… lots of them!!!

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Let’s Meet the Players

  • Fabric scraps
  • Beads
  • Bottle tops
  • White glue

  • Let’s Play the Game

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    Choose and trim the scraps that you want to use as petals…

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    Slightly flatten your bottle top… this part isn’t essential, but hay when a gal loves to use chunky tools from the tool box I’m all for it.

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    Place the petals around the bottle top… Pour some glue onto of the petals and into the bottle cap…

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    Drop sparkly beads into your glue…

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    The more beads the merrier… Leave your flowers to dry over night…

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    And slowly but surely you will grow a sweet collection of flowers…

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Recycle Crafts · Tuesday Art Task

Se7en’s Book of the Week: The Picturepedia…

February 2nd, 2016 · 2 Comments

This book has been floating on our coffee table for a little while now, it is one of those books that once you start browsing you just can’t stop… Step inside and you could be lost for hours, you may have been looking for one thing, but there are heaps of other interesting facts that will grab your attention along the way. The team that thought this would be a fun reference book and intended for it be used by students of all ages, for all sorts of assignments, were right, but this book is so much more than just a reference book, it is also a whole lot of fun.

Each year we begin a new and awesome book that we read through as a family for school, last year it was The History of the World in 1000 Objects, and before that The History of Britain and Ireland. Well, we are almost finished The History of the World in 1000 Objects and the Picturepedia goes straight to the top of the list for this year. It is quite literally a Visual Dictionary with Super Powers…


Se7en Things We Love About This Book

  1. It is big, in every sense of the word… forget pocket book, this is the kind of book you have to spread open on a table, open up flat and pour over.
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  3. The topics cover vast areas of information, from the human body to crocodiles, the ocean to fashion, water sports to spies… there is something in here for everyone.
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  5. The photography is, well it is a DK Book, superb… There is something about the photographic delight of a DK Book that makes you feel like you are climbing into an epic adventure… every page is packed with a mini escapade.
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  7. Each double page spread contains crystal clear images. Not just photographs, infographics… Lists and lists of incredible facts, not to mention heaps of easy to read details. There literally is something new and incredible to discover on every single page.
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  9. Some of the facts are great fodder for filling the “general knowledge bucket” and make great discussion starters at the dinner table: Which country eats the most bread per person per year? Do you know where the driest place on earth is? Do you know the difference between and a tennis ball and a real tennis ball? There is no surprise as to which country eats the most pasta per year, but you will never guess just how much pasta. The list of incredible facts appears to be endless.
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  11. It isn’t just a pile of facts there are lots of “how to do’s” too… Magic tricks, a loaf of bread, knots and knotting… and things to try… saying hello in countless languages, and taking a peak at cultures from all over the world.
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  13. So we did a scavenger hunt… looking for things around the house that we could match up in the book… you would be amazed at the number of random factoids that you have just lying around your house. This book is a fantastic way to learn the back story to every day objects and lots and lots of obscure objects too.

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The Picturepedia is published by Penguin Random House South Africa and we were given a copy for review purposes. If you need to see some more details you can take a look inside on the DK Books website.

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→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books