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

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Parenting Tips by the Dozen for Raising Se7en+1 Kids…

March 4th, 2015 · 6 Comments

It has been an age since I wrote a parenting post, I guess when you are in the thick of it you can quite forget to write about it. Recently my friend Marcia from The 123 Blog asked me for my top 3 parenting tips – gasp. To be honest I actually choked a bit, what do I know about parenting, not to mention parenting tips. The father person mentioned that after parenting for 17 + 15 + 13 + 11 + 10 + 8 + 7 + 5 years… I probably knew enough to write a blog post. The point is, we all know so much about parenting until we have kids. It just goes to show that you never feel overly confident at it, and to be honest parenting is very a much a two-player game between a parent and a child. Talk about always learning, always learning, always learning. Parenting each of my kids has brought out something completely different in all our relationships – they have made me grow up far more than I was comfortable with at first, and they kept me young at heart more than anything else could have.


Parenting Tips for Raising Se7en + 1 Kids…

Well once I got started with three tips for Marcia, I got on a bit of a roll and in no particular order…

  1. Everything looks Better in Daylight:
  2. So I Asked My Kids… What do I always say when mums ask me for advice… and the first thing I say is get as comfy as you can and make it through to the morning. Somehow walking the halls at night with crying babe, or sitting in the bathroom while a kid has croup or worse a tummy bug… seems terminally hard. And never quite so hard in the daylight. Don’t try and make it through to next week, or next month… just get to the morning and everything will seem so much better. And if all else fails… and here my gang collapsed in a heap, “I always say, go for a walk.” Who knew I said that, but it is true. I always say, go for a walk… after even a short walk to the mailbox or a long walk to the end of the block (!), all grumpiness tends to dissipate. Very often a much needed nap will follow, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.


  3. Enjoy the Moment:
  4. There are so many nay sayers… really. “Just wait until they are teething, crawling, toilet training… ” There are the woeful ones, the terrible two’s, the theatrical threes, the fearsome fours and the frantic fives… Not to mention, just wait until they are teenagers. Well teenagers are delightful, and nothing beats the deep sleep of a trying two year old collapsed in your arms. There is always something to love right now… I know this sounds crazy, but don’t wish away your child’s childhood. We long for these babies, we work so hard to have them and then our crazy dashing world says – hurry up and make grow up. Well this is one time when you should go against the grain and linger longer. Enjoy these little ones while they are small because it really does all fly by so fast.


  5. Your Kids Need You, Not Stuff:
  6. We live in the world of marketers and child rearing has become, just like sport, a marketers dream… without a million products you cannot raise a child. Don’t believe it for a second. There are millions and bazillions of perfectly fine kids all over the world who didn’t have a special wedge in their cot, in fact they didn’t have a cot… they didn’t have special educational mobiles that rocked them to sleep while singing Mozart, and still those kids grow up to be fine. The one advantage that you can really give your kids is just being there alongside them. This will be far more key to your kids “getting ahead” than any extra mural or any multi-sensory toy ever. And your kids don’t need you to be doing special crafts, special dates, special activities, special anything. You there lying on the couch on a lazy afternoon asking about the game they are playing or their walk earlier counts for so much more than you think. And no marketer is ever going to tell you that – EVER.


  7. Set Your Kids up to Succeed:
  8. I have said this before and I will say it again, kids need three things to survive… lots of sleep, nutritious food and plenty of fresh air. Their parents need the same. Those three things together. The child that is sleep deprived isn’t going to eat well and will hate fresh air; the child that is never hungry, won’t sleep comfortably and just can’t run around outdoors; and woe to the poor child that never gets to be in the great outdoors, because they will never feel the fatigue of a good days play and they will never stimulate their senses enough to enjoy tasty food. When you see a parent-child couple melting down anywhere, then usually one of those factors is not in play. When you have crying baby and they have cried for hours… wrapping them up and going for a walk is often the best medicine for everyone. Often when I am gathered with mums of little people they just seem to feed and feed and feed them. The snack industry sure is making millions out of moms of tots. When these kids say they are hungry, they are really just bored and a walk in the park, or races in the garden would be equally satisfying.


  9. Equal is Never Ever Fair:
  10. This might not be a tip, so much as a pet hate… but treating siblings equally is actually quite mean. I know when you have your first child you think you will never love another the same, turns out… you will love subsequent children, totally and differently. Each child is perfect in their own delightful way. Where one child loves trucks and the other loves wild animals, I can assure you if you want to treat them equally no one is going to be happy: One child will hate the truck they are given or the other will hate the toy zebra. And if you compromise and get two zebra trucks – just no-one will be happy. Seriously treat your children as individuals, and gift them in the way that fills them up. If one child likes to chat away while you are washing dishing dishes and another likes to sit in your chair and read a book… for me that works. There is enough love for all our kids, we just have get creative and giving the love that fills them up. The most obvious case of treating kids fairly vs equally is when once in blue moon we go and let everyone choose a treat… imagine if I said all eight of my kids had to have the same treat… eight of the same is never quite as glorious as eight carefully selected.


  11. Not Every Moment Has to be Picture Perfect to be Perfect:
  12. Often good enough is really quite perfect enough. So you didn’t get a multilayer, triple sponge, double chocolate cream birthday cake… and you grabbed yesterday’s breakfast muffin and stuck a candle in it instead. That’s fine. For years we had magical, marvellous birthday parties… heaps of our early blog posts are about them. By the time I had five children I was hanging on for dear life and by six I just gave up in despair. But kids love parties and they love being celebrated… so now we have an ordinary cake, often they make it themselves, and invite all their friends over for a play date. There is no expectation of elaborate crafts, or jumping castles or creative party packs… just a play and cake and of course “Singing Happy Birthday” and everyone is totally happy. Really, often good enough is good enough… Movie night can just be a movie… one movie, you don’t have to have special snacks and popcorn everywhere and late bedtimes… just a movie. Who would’ve thought.


  13. Children are Short, Not Stupid: Adults so often make this mistake and think that they can talk down to children or worse, be sickly sweet with children, when actually those adults would rather be doing anything else. Try it, talk to a child like a person and you will be strangely surprised how eloquently they respond. Kids see right through our fake voices, we call it the gym voice… When you are at gym and you hear mums saying, “Darling, just get out of the shower will you, just pick up your towel, just get dressed for the ten millionth time.” That mum is about to pop and everyone knows it, even the kid. You can be true to yourself and respectful at the same time, while I am polite to my children, “please and thank yous” flow freely, children understand grumpy days and moody moments a whole lot better than we think. We want them to know that we love them no matter what, so let’s give them the chance to love us, no matter what.
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  15. Expect Great Things:
  16. Kids naturally rise to your expectations. If you aim too low, don’t be disappointed. So many folks say they can’t take their children to a restaurant, they just can’t sit still for longer than a minute. Hello, the same children that can watch a full length movie five times in a row. Sitting still is not the problem. Engaging them and talking to them about what is happening and can they see the waitress and what colour plate do they think they will have, and do they need help with their napkin (not likely)? The question is, do small children really want to go out to a grown up restaurant and eat grown up food with you, not to mention try new things? You bet they do, kids love being treated like they are people. They want to use real tools, not plastic imitation ones, they want to use real art materials and they can, they want to be just like us. It is really up to us to enable them.


  17. You Wish Your Kids Knew How to do Something:
  18. Then stop and take the time to teach them… if you hate tying shoelaces, or hanging up bath towels, or stacking dishes… even small children can be taught how to do this. Then leave them to it, no one likes to be bossed around, least of all kids. If you have taught them then leave them… if they ask for help offer it, and if they are clearly failing, reteach… but don’t ever hover, then the only person trained is actually you. It takes time to teach them, yes, but it is so empowering for them to do things for themselves. Really the smaller the better, is the time to teach them all sorts of wonderful things. If you wish your children could sit nicely at the dinner table, take the time to teach them what that means to you. You actually have to sit down with them and eat nicely at the table yourself. Because children learn by what you are doing… if you are scampering around the kitchen cleaning up and chatting on the phone while they are having dinner then they will most likely do the same.


  19. What they Don’t Know They Won’t Miss:
  20. My kids never knew that bedtime was an issue, so bed has always been somewhere they want to go at the end of the day. Somewhere to linger and lie in the dark and chat together as they drift off to sleep. The same can be said for take-outs and candy and sugary drinks – if they don’t know about it, they won’t miss it and they won’t develop a taste for it. When my kids were small they had an elderly aunt that said, “Shame,” every time she saw them… because they were always drinking water and eating fruit… Really I was just too spartan with them and they would never cope in the “real world” if they didn’t learn how to handle candy and juice in moderation as a small child. Well my kids did get treats from time time, but they are convinced that while adults can drink juice, children can only drink water. And as for candy and treats, they can dive in with the best of them but on special occasions… it isn’t a daily thing and it isn’t even a weekly thing. What they don’t have they just don’t miss.


  21. Your Kids Are a Team, Treat Them Like One:
  22. If you have more than one kid then you probably want them to grow up to be fab friends and yet somehow that friendship can very often look like a war zone. The thing that makes relationships work is time together, not quality time – it is quantity time. If your kids are always flying in opposite directions and to different activities… then their shared experience will most likely be car pooling – and everyone knows that isn’t the best place to generate good times. Think of ways that your kids can spend hours together, sharing every day things and plenty of time to chat about life together. I have a feeling that creating shared memories and a history together is important to friendship down the line. And if your life is chaotic then schedule time for your kids to spend together, just them, not them and a friend each… not them in their own rooms down the corridor from each other. Take them for an amble, let them bake together, anything really… time together is the glue that binds.


  23. Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke:
  24. Just because other folks are all doing it, just because all the parenting books say you must do this or that… if something is working for you then leave it. Your kids will eventually stop nursing, they will use a bathroom and they will even sleep in their own beds – you can force them, or go with flow. It is going to happen anyway, so relax and enjoy the ride. For example, some folks stress so much about toilet training they spend the first two years of their child’s life asking them if they need to go to the bathroom or not… I would rather show my kids heaps of other things and grow a huge vocabulary … they will spend enough of their lifetime discussing toileteering habits without any encouragement from me.

There you go, a heap of tips all in one post… please pop over and visit my friend Marcia, she has an entire series of parenting tips on the go!!!

→ 6 CommentsTags: Kids · Thoughtful Thursdays

Saturday Spot: The Summer of Fires, Muizenberg Fire So Far…

March 3rd, 2015 · 8 Comments

It has been the summer of fires and we have had two large fires above our house already… The fire from this past weekend has been unprecedented and engulfed a large part of the Silvermine Mountain Range.

The Muizenburg Fire Day by Day

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Saturday Evening

The kids heard the helicopter fly by and dashed out to see if they could see a fire… they couldn’t but they soon saw the spotter plane and knew that there would be one. The conditions were extremely windy and cloudy and really not good for fire control on a dry dusty mountain and the end of a long hot summer.

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Sunday Morning Above Westlake

As we traveled towards Lakeside on Sunday morning we sae the fire had expanded over the Muizenberg side of the mountain and was creeping along above Lakeside and Westlake…

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Sunday Afternoon – Westlake

When we returned to the South Peninsula in the afternoon the fire was in full force above Lakeside and the helicopters were hard at work.

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Sunday Evening – Ou Kaapse Weg

Looking from Lakeside into the sunset on Sunday evening was alarming, but we were able to drive over Ou Kaapse Weg and where the Fire Services were watching the fire.

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Sunday Night…

The wind came up and the fire literally engulfed the top of the mountain… the whole of Silvermine, over the top into Hout Bay and down through Noordhoek. We were able to watch the fire lurk along the top of the mountain line above Clovelly, just before dawn.

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Monday Morning

As the dawn broke we could see that the damage was extensive and that Silvermine had literally been burnt out. All roads to the South Peninsula except the one, the main road – which is again dug up for road works and so only one way traffic… a logistical nightmare for the city.

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Monday Afternoon

By Monday afternoon the fire-fighters had been working in really difficult conditions, the entire weekend. They were still bombing along the mountain ridge at the end of the day. We spent most of the day watching the fire progress and taking photographs.

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Monday Night

The fire was still raging before dawn and is now steadily marching down the valley.

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SilverMine This Morning

This is the same area that we drove through on Sunday evening, and it has been devastated by fire. One of our favourite hiking spots is a dessert.

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I am sure there will be more photographs taken today and we will add them to this post later on…

→ 8 CommentsTags: Our Events · Saturday Spot

Sunday Snippet: A Gentle Answer Turns Away Wrath…

March 3rd, 2015 · No Comments

Our Bible Verse of the Week…


Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath,

but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Week by Week

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Se7en’s March 2015, and Your Free Printable Calendar…

March 2nd, 2015 · No Comments


March is here!!! Really!!! And as promised here is your March printable calendar. You are welcome to print it out, use the landscape option, it works better!!! Click on the image and it will open in a new tab. Print it out and write the days you would like to celebrate on it then pop it onto the fridge as a reminder…


Dates to Remember

→ No CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar

Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun – #264

March 1st, 2015 · 3 Comments

It is worth getting up in the morning for this…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. Most brilliant post by Tsh, who is homeschooling on the road this year… fabulous tips on the road: Ongoing Education: 12 Tools I Really Dig on The Art of Simple.
  2. How cool is our friend Zoe, who is Building a Book Den…
  3. HandMade Charlotte is so good at discovering Crafty Finds… take a peak at Put a Bird on It. And while we are there, take a peak at her Mini Beach Bungalow Gift Wrap!!!
  4. We Are Wealthy. And Why it Matters on Becoming Minimalist.
  5. TinkerLab’s SketchBook Challenges are just pure loveliness!!!
  6. There is a new book in Town and this project: Our Garden Classroom… on Nuturestore. Love it!!!
  7. Can You Quit Your Job as Stuff Manager on BlogHer…
  8. Excellent post for Bible College Students… Recovering Joy in Seminary, by David Murray of Head Heart Hand and while you are there… 10 Biblical Formulas to Change Your Life.
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    We Really need your help to Build a Library, Book by Book.

    And the se7en + 1th + 1th link:

  10. A Blast From the Past:

→ 3 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

The Week That Was… #208

February 28th, 2015 · 5 Comments

And just like that our weather tree has taken us through February…

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I would tell all our Northern Hemisphere friends that there is a distinct nip in the air, that we don’t normally feel until mid-March… but I am in denial and so I am going to say clear blue skies and hot summer days, even if I may be wearing a sweater as I type.

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Early morning beach walks…

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This had us all intrigued…

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And coffee sigh…

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And just like that our school year is over, well over for me. There is always one more thing to do… but I am taking a break… some of the gang have finished their year, done and dusted and their school box is empty and waiting with anticipation for new inspiration to land in them… and others not so much.

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I am way beyond worried about who is finished or even if any one is finished… we need a break and it is time for some beach days and leaping up and down the mountain.

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We blogged about se7en + 1 things we would like to try each week this year… and we are popping our 52 Weeks progress into our Week that Was post… accountability and all that…

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Our 52 Week Challenge

  1. Walk of the Week: Well Dias Beach of course…
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  3. Game of the Week:
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  5. My Just Because Book: My mum gave us this book for Christmas, and after a year and a half of hiking our way up and down the Cape Point Nature Reserve, this was a fabulous gift. It has been on the coffee table and we have all been dipping in and out of it, but this week I started reading it for real… fascinating stuff through and through… It is a mix of fact and history, photographs and beautiful sketch/watercolours. It is all very inspiring for my young naturalist crowd and I can see us taking this book along on future visits.
  6. Letter of the Week: Some of us have been prolific, my kids have been churning out many marvellous letters… I think I need a few more hours of load shedding to find my letter writing rhythm. I am managing a letter a week – but only just. I think the battle is that I don’t have a time and a place to write letters… and I find myself dashing a letter off, so that I can post a “Week that Was Post”… don’t ever laugh at honest blogging, at least it keeps me rolling. But I definitely need to create a spot where I can write and create that is far from screens and very clearly marked as “the mother person’s space!!!”
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  8. Organizing Project of the Week: Four boys in a room and turning a blind eye to their tidying techniques for too long means I have little projects like this one…
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    Half way there…

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  10. Recipe of the Week:Bread and Butter Pudding, as one does…
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  12. Our View from the Deck: There is an extreme fascination with the neighbour’s black cat…
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  14. Our Challenge of the Week: I have to post early next week, it is a post ready to go… look out for it!!!


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Lego is life… As are visits to the aquarium…

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Math was done…

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And doodling with my oldest daughter at gym… because colouring books are so much more than they used to be!!!

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And our corn grows 15 cm a day at the moment!!!

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I am not even kidding…

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Scientific endeavours…

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That worked… more or less… if you don’t expect grilled, from the fire smores and settle for puffy, melty marshmallows instead.

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Don’t tell me homeschoolers don’t do sport…

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These guys are going to give the neighbour a heart failure, every day they go higher and much higher up the tree…

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And the Duplo Family moved in, I never cease to be amazed at the completely different way different kids play with the same toys.

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Really, they just moved in.

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There was plenty of arting…

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Artwork of the Week

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Book of the Week

We won this collection in an Usborne GiveAway and we are simply loving them…

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And a Snapshot in Time of a Day in Our Homeschool

Hood #1:

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Hood #2:

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Hood #3:

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Hood #4:

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Hood #5:

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Hood #6:

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Hood #7:

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Hood #8:

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That’s us… Hoping you all have the most fantastic weekend!!!

→ 5 CommentsTags: The Week that Was

The History of the World in 1000 Objects…

February 26th, 2015 · 6 Comments

Sometimes a book comes into our house and almost immediately becomes part of the family and this is one of those books. The History of the World in 1000 Objects was published by DK Books and given to us for review purposes by Penguin Book South Africa.

In fact, while most new and favourite books live on the coffee table for weeks and weeks and then are swapped out and exchanged and rotated… this book reached a new and higher status and has found its way onto our kitchen counter. We are reading a page a day at breakfast time and it is beyond fascinating.

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This is a book that is filled with pages and pages of beautiful, it is a DK Book after all, photographs of objects that are significant to the history of man. Regular things that might have been used every day by families of olden times… and significant objects that changed the history of the world in a moment. There are mysterious objects that we have never ever encountered before and some objects that we have always thought we should learn about someday. Well “someday” appears to be now.

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This is not just a book about dusty old stuff, neither is it a book about pure treasure… it is a pleasant mixture of ordinary and extraordinary, deeply significant and apparently insignificant items. Imagine the eclectic treasure of family history you might find in your grandparent’s attic… things that would fetch a fair price at an auction, something deeply symbolic, passed down from generation to generation, and other things that would only be signifiant to the family, a love letter between a mother and her small child. This book is exactly like your grandparent’s attic… but the attic of the whole wide world.

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Immediately, upon opening up this book, we were sent us on a family treasure hunt, looking for traces of history in our home where we never expected to find any. Usually we have little trinkets collected from traveling, little artefacts gathered from museum visits and our ever growing postcard collection is also filled with significant photographs.

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There is nothing quite as exciting as the discovery that a piece of chipped stone found on a hike could really be something significant and the digging stone that were found on family holidays when I was a child were vital to ancient cultures. The miniature turkish carpet pinned on the fridge takes on a whole new meaning when you read about carpets just like it in the pages of this book.

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It isn’t just ancient history here… everyone was amazed to see what granny’s hip-replacement really looked like. Not to mention the espresso pot, that my Italian lecturer gave me as a parting gift, as she returned home to Rome, is an icon of our time.

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The book is divided into six categories:

  1. Early Societies
  2. Ancient Civilisations
  3. Trade and Empire
  4. Enlightenment and Imperialism
  5. Industry and Independence
  6. A Shrinking World

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Each section is then divided into cultures and sub-cultures and those sections are divided into pages of agricultural tools, household tools, weapons, art and clothing. Every couple of pages is a huge spread, carefully looking at a specific item. I love that this book is really large, there are no pokey little pictures… you can get a good feel of the greatness of many of the artefacts.

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This is not the sort of book that you read from cover to cover… though there is one potential historian in our house who did just that, and then went on to memorise great chunks of it, but that is a whole ‘nother story! This book is great for dipping into, any page that you open… randomly throughout the book, will have something fascinating to read on it. Interesting photographs draw you in and the small snippets of writing that are packed with information, keep you reading. This book is a great read for readers of all ages, the snippets of writing means that it is a manageable read for new and experienced readers.

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This book has been instrumental providing plenty of topics of conversation around the table. We have so enjoyed visitors from far and wide dipping into the book and then telling us about items in the book that are significant to them… places they have been, things they remember from their childhood. This book is a book for remembering the past and it is presented in a way that leaves you saying “ooh and aah.” It opens itself up to sharing, because we want to know more about the kitchen tools that our great parents used, or the artefacts spotted in museums and the actual story behind them. This is literally a museum in a book, whoever has time to read all the tags in a museum… but these artefacts you can return to again and again and read all about them, at your leisure, at home.

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We have spent time imagining living and traveling in Ancient times… and I imagine many projects inspired by this book. There is already someone with an eye for these royal crowns… and I fear even in modern times there may not be enough glitter and glitz in the world!!!

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If this sort of history grabs you then these links to will interest you as well:

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In a nutshell The History of the World in 1000 Objects is a great book for learning more about history, not just the distant past, but the more recent past as well. This book is fabulous for dipping in and out of, perfect for a quick explore. We are really looking forward to wandering through this book for school this year but I can see we are going to have to stop and linger many times along the way as we explore it in more detail.

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We were given this book for review purposes by Penguin Books South Africa, we were not paid to write the review and the opinions expressed are as usual, entirely our own. You can read more about this book on the DK Website and look at full page speeds for inspiration.

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→ 6 CommentsTags: Se7en at School