September 20th, 2016 · 2 Comments
Well September the weather is gorgeous, though it is definitely not summer yet.
This week is Cape Nature Access Week, that’s free access to Cape Nature Reserves… Just Saying…
Lovely Links from This Week
- Oh for the love: 9 Printable Planners and Calendars on CraftWhack.
- Something for your inner artist: Juggling Act of Life has an Instagram Adventure of a Doodle a Day… I love it!!!
- Such a useful link of Seasonal Fruit and Veg in South Africa, on the Le Creuset website.
- Love the Painted Rock Cactus Plants… on Lil Blue Boo
- Seth Godin’s 10 Quick Rules for Online Newbies…
- Kara Fleck had a fabulous post at Simple Homeschool: 10 Fresh Homeschooling Paths to Add Variety to your routines.
- Every blogger knows they should have an email list, but so many of us have no clue of the how, here is a post packed with ideas: 16 Mistakes Bloggers Make When Building an Email List on JeffBullas.com.
A Blast From the Past:
That’s us… Hope you are all had a fabulous weekend!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
September 18th, 2016 · 2 Comments
We decided to make the very most of last week’s free week with SanParks and head to the West Coast National Park to see the spring flowers… It has literally been years since we were last there and I am so thrilled that we had the opportunity to go again. The West Coast spring flowers are a phenomenon not to be missed.
On a very cold and wet Friday morning we headed out in the dark, way before dawn,… I was determined to miss the traffic in the city… the excitement was palpable and sleepy wide eyed faces feared at me from the back of the car.
The first thing we did when we got there was head for the dunes and have a good long look at the Atlantic, not to mention the rain pelting down. You need sunshine for the flowers to open and so we bided our time…
We took a look around the information centre…
We stopped to look at the houseboats in Kraalbaai…
And decided that that was definitely a weekend away worth dreaming about… you can book these houseboats for a holiday.
And it continued to drip with rain…
The Langebaan Lagoon
So we headed down onto the mudflats of the lagoon at low tide…
To see the flamingoes…
And to run of course…
And collect treasures…
There were tons of animals to see…
Of course it is spring… and there were plenty of babies around…
And the perfect place to stop for lunch on a rainy day… inside a bird hide where we spotted lots of birds we had never seen before… new things to look up!!!
And that was us… though one of us was clearly not ready to go home yet!!!
Previous West Coast Posts
The West Coast Flowers and Our Visit to GeelBek Restaurant
Se7en+1 Visit the Strandloper
Se7en of the Best Places to Visit Around Cape Town.
Se7en Significant Hikes
Tags: Cape Town · Outings · Saturday Spot
September 16th, 2016 · 2 Comments
I know we post tons of book collection posts, but some books are so spectacular that they deserve their own post… and this book is indeed one of them. As soon as I saw this book I popped it straight onto my list of essential childhood books.
A First Book of Nature is by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Herald. Every single Nicola Davies book has been a keeper in our house, but this book I have to say again is essential. Get hold of a copy from the library from your local bookstore, read it… read it again, dip in and out of it and page through and dream… leave it on the coffee table for young folk to enjoy and dream a little bit too… because it is somewhat dreamy. You can meet Lindsay Davies at her website here, and you can meet the illustrator, Mark Hearld over here.
The book is a big square paperback of the sturdy variety… absolutely packed with inspiring illustrations… collage prints that feel quite classical, and reminded me of reading children’s encyclopaedias when I was little. The book is divided into four seasons… filled with poems and very easy things to do. Not to mention something new and lovely to discover on every spread. It has quite a whimsical feel to it, filled with beautiful and inspiring poetry that little people will enjoy along with the person reading to them… you can really only read a page or two and then ponder a little bit, before wandering deeper into the book.
- Spring: You will want to go for a spring walk and look for tadpoles, and plant some seeds and maybe create some compost.
- Summer: Looking out for butterflies, pond dipping and rock pooling, things to do in your den.
- Autumn: Lots of things to look out for, how to make a berry crumble.
- Winter: Beachcombing and saving seeds, and making bird cakes.
If you or your small people find yourselves stuck indoors and unable to motivate to get outdoors, even though you know it is the right thing to do… this book will inspire you to bundle up and get out there when it is cold, and to find a shady spot when it is warm. This is the perfect book to toss in your bag and head outdoors with a blanket for a read. This is a book that deserves to be lived in, take it down to the shore and read about rock pooling, take it with you when you go gathering leaves… this is a book that is perfect inspiration for nature notebii
Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for the copy of A First Book of Nature by Nicola Davies 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.
Tags: Brilliant Books · Se7en at School
September 15th, 2016 · 6 Comments
We have been climbing Table Mountain for a couple of years now… it all began as a dream of one of my kids… the thing is, as a child I went up and down the mountain all the time, really: All.the.time. I walked my dog up and down the mountain every single day and it was literally a hop and a skip to the top. And then I had eight kids and climbing Table Mountain couldn’t have been further from my mind. That was until one of the gang said he had a dream to get to the very top of Table Mountain… I had the idea that it would be a hop and a skip… I was totally wrong.
After that we made it an annual family event… to gather together and climb to the top of the mountain. Turns out Table Mountain is a real live mountain that warrants a lot of respect, we only climb it once or twice a year… but we do work hard on other hikes in our area, at least a hike a week, to keep ourselves good and ready for our annual trek. Last week I posted a collection of family hikes in Cape Point and Silvermine and a couple of folk asked if I could do the same for hiking on Table Mountain… so here is our definitive guide…
Firstly, Table Mountain is part of a mountain range, there is a lot of clambering and climbing to do… and there are plenty of ambles and hikes to do on the mountain that take you nowhere near the “actual top of the mountain,” which are a whole lot of fun… in fact there really is something for every level of fitness. Whatever hike you do you need to be well prepared… Se7en+1 Steps to Great Hiking with Kids.
Se7en + 1 Family Hikes on Table Mountain
If you are visiting Cape Town, or you have young children with a dream, who desperately want to get to the very top of the mountain I would highly recommend saving for a trip up the Cableway car… and then take the hour long walk across the top of the mountain to Maclear’s Beacon. It is a fairly easy walk, one with a huge sense of accomplishment because you get to the top of the mountain. We would highly recommend this as a great family walk.
Otherwise, if you want to hike all the way from the ground up… and you are fairly fit then you can hike up Platteklip Gorge, which for some reason is very popular with tourists and is considered to be the shortest trip up… it may be short but it is also steep. Very steep. This was our first hike as a family with a goal to get to the top of Table Mountain, our youngest was 4 and he had no problem leaping up the mountain. I on the other hand battled all the way. It is a zig zag stone staircase taking you vertically up the mountain. It was a lot harder than I remembered it to be in my student days… and while this is one of the most popular hikes up the mountain it is nowhere near the easiest hike. I am guessing that if you get an early start (we didn’t), and take your time that it is totally do-able. This route takes you to very close to the Cable Way station, and then you have another hour’s walk (the hike mentioned above) across the top of the mountain on tired legs to get to the very top of the mountain.
After our battle up Platteklip we gave ourselves a year to relaunch Our Journey from Amblers to Hikers Step by Step… and we chose a different route up Table Mountain. This route is very pleasant with beautiful views of Cape Town’s beaches… this was a great hike, there is lots to look at on the way up Kasteelpoort and with a little fitness we were able to get up fairly easily. The up is of course up… there is no way round that, but the surroundings are lovely. Like most hikes it takes you up and across the mountain top to the Reservoirs, and then there is a last push up to Maclear’s Beacon.
This is one of my favourite childhood hikes, I did it often with my father and later with my dog… and it did not disappoint, it is wonderful. This hike is suitable for family’s whose kids are beyond the “carry me” stage and ready for a little adventure. Skeleton Gorge, just the name sounds formidable, but honestly if I can do it… and enjoy it, then anyone can. At the top of Skeleton Gorge, you will find the reservoirs which is always a good place for lunch, and then head either up Smut’s track to Maclear’s Beacon or we chose to go down Nursery Ravine.
Earlier this year I smashed my arm, but we had a hike scheduled and I was desperate to go… we just so happened to have a fabulous guide and he organised a drive up to the reservoirs… and from there instead of the more common hike up Smut’s Track to Maclear’s Beacon we took a more interesting route around Junction Peak and got to see the famous February Disas.
This was spectacular and well worth enduring the pain of a freshly broken arm.
Hike #6: Constantia Nek to the Reservoirs – The Easiest Route Up.
This was the hike we did this past year and for some reason I didn’t blog about it, I will have to remedy that but meanwhile, you can see all the photographs here. It is a really easy hike, not the most exciting and up being the word. You simply follow the Jeep Track all the way up the mountain… start early it is pleasant enough, and slow and steady gets you to the top… the weather turned cold really quickly when we got to the top so instead of pressing on to Maclear’s Beacon we explored some of the paths close to the Reservoirs before heading down again. If you are looking for a quick and easy way up to the reservoirs, then this is the way to go.
If you are just looking for an easy walk, and you have a free morning or afternoon and you want to declare that you have been hiking on the slopes of one of the Se7en Wonders of the World, then look no further than Newland’s Forest… heaps of paths, places to explore and just an around visit into the great outdoors without having to go too far.
If you are looking for an adventure, and need to get to the top of a mountain, in full view of Table Mountain, but maybe not as high as Table Mountain… then Lion’s Head is a great alternative. We have seen a lot of tourists lurch up there, totally unprepared – you do need to take a warm top, water to drink and emergency numbers. It is a proper mountain, a real hike, for adventurous spirits and geared for families who are ready for more than an amble.
Tags: Outings · Saturday Spot
September 13th, 2016 · 2 Comments
Well September is in full swing and there are signs of Spring everywhere you look, it is a wonderful thing to see new leaves and trees budding… not to mention longer days… summer is indeed on the way and we are all looking forward to it…
This week is SANparks free week for South Africans with an ID book… and this link has all the details for visiting our local parks, Cape Point and Silvermine.
Lovely Links from This Week
- Zen Habits on Procrastination… such a good read. I have such big ideas for a blog update… then I read this was so inspired and ahem, never got near my computer for about five days… I wasn’t even trying to take a break!!!
- Handmade Charlotte has the solution to Christmas in the middle of Summer… Gingerbread Ice-Cream Trucks.
- Spotted on Nuture Store, I think I’m in love with the Just So Festival… even though I live on the far side of the world!!!
- There is so much going on right now… and if you haven’t signed up for a Virtually Live event before then this Roald Dahl Day would be a good time to start!!!
- Imagine Childhood and Geography at Play… Lots of Magic over here!!!
- Coffee and Books: An Unexpected Homeschool Game Changer… I love this totally, from Simple Homeschool.
- Alisa Burke on how to Ice Dye… you want to take a look at this!!!
A Blast From the Past:
Pedia Sure Media Drop
We were part of the recent Pedia Sure media drop,
we were sent their products to try. I can see how this product would be great for children who are recovering from an illness, and waiting for their failing appetites to improve, or even as a temporary help to children who are picky eaters. The pamphlet that came with the product showed a number of meals that the milkshake replaced… it is packed with nutrition. My robust bunch enjoyed the milkshake flavour, it was a treat for them, but there was absolutely no convincing any of my kids that this replaced a nutritious meal.
Upcoming Event at the Sport Science Institute
That’s us… Hope you are all had a fabulous weekend!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
September 12th, 2016 · 12 Comments
And so begins the season of September birthdays in our home, with a Happy Brilliant Birthday to the Father Person…
And I could write a post about what a fabulous dad he is… and how I couldn’t possibly raise this gang of wild and crazy kids without his help, or his sense of humour. But instead I thought I would provide a more useful post… packed with parenting tips from the father person himself. So I have been asking him for his personal parenting tips for the last couple of weeks. A man of few words, but if you add up the total number of years of his kids that’s 101 years of parenting experience… that has to count for something…
Se7en + 1 Parenting Tips from the Father Person
- The Vomit Test: If you want to buy a baby product, first vomit on it, if you can’t clean it off, then don’t buy it.
- You Only Have Two Hands: You can’t push a stroller and a shopping cart. Buy a sling and save on the stroller.
- The Glue Gun Test: They are going to break it, whatever it is, if you can’t fix it with a hot glue gun, then don’t buy it.
- On Toilet Training: Teach them how to dress themselves before you introduce toilet training, for obvious reason.
- On Chores: If they can drive an i-device, then they can work a washing machine, dishwasher and any number of other appliances.
- On Time Management: Stop teaching your children to count to three. And if you are leaving in five minutes you don’t have to announce it, just get up and go, they will follow you.
- On Babysitting: If I have to go out or work, then he parents his kids, he doesn’t babysit them. He might have a different parenting style to me, but that’s a good thing.
And the se7en + 1th tip
- On Height: Never underestimate them. Children are short not stupid.
There you are, short and precise… 101 years of parenting wisdom summed up in eight points!!!
Tags: Stuff About Us...
September 9th, 2016 · 6 Comments
During our school year last year I wrote about how a day in the life of our home school is divided between family school and one on one time… and I thought I had pretty much covered all the details… but a friend asked me the other day to write a post on how we do the specifics… and in my head this post grew into something huge, an essay for each topic and a blog series about twenty years long… because you know how homeschool moms love to talk about homeschooling.
Then I had a bit of a reality check… most folk just want to know how we tackle certain topics and how we conquer areas of school, not the entire back story. So here it is a “how we… do school” kind of a post, a list of resources and ideas. I may have left a couple of things off… feel free to ask about things I may have simply forgotten to add them in. Also, this is what we are using right now, it’s not prescriptive, but it works for us and it will change many times before we are done. The time has come the walrus said, for homeschoolers to stop fretting about every move they make… and just start doing the school they believe in.
How We Do Just About Every School Subject I Was Asked About:
- History: I have to say that we use Sonlight as the backbone of our our schooling, which is a literature rich, history rich curriculum… we love it. We have used it from the start and we will continue to use it… what could be better than reading your way, using stories, to learn about history. Each of my kids is doing their own level of school and as a family we have been marching our way through the History of the World in 100o objects… it has taken a year and a half and we have reached the 1600’s… so a little way to go and we will have to think of something new to read together.
- Bible Study: We begin our day reading from the Bible and we go around the table with everyone reading a verse or two… they get to practise their reading aloud and they enjoy following along and getting a turn to read. Otherwise we always have a missionary biography or a bible study book that we read a chapter from, as well.
- Science: They read their own science according to their curriculum, our high schoolers use Apologia and love it. I am guessing it isn’t so hard to read a page or two from a science books everyday, the difficult thing is actually doing all those experiments… that don’t seem so bad at first glance, and then they you miss a week or three and suddenly overwhelm sets in. To keep up with experiments we have science weeks where the only formal school is doing science experiments… I pop all the science goodies we need for a theme out on the counter and they are pretty much played with and experimented with for the duration. A week or two back we looked at electricity… they made circuits, torches, buzzers, batteries and so on… my kids think this is just another type of creative art class and have no idea that this is actual work.
- English Grammar: Two or three times a week I have a one on one meeting with my kids and then we do a little bit of Winston Grammar together… that’s it. Everyone at their own level and pace. I have found the slower we go the more we retain… so the workbook literally lasts us years. It is tempting to say if we do a worksheet a week then we will finish the book in a year… but really… we take two maybe three years before moving on to the advanced level books… and not all my kids are really need to do the advanced level grammar… if it is their passion they will pursue it, otherwise enough is enough.
- English Writing: I have a feeling that in order for us to apply ourselves to our writing it has to be the real thing… it is hard to write “pretend letters” and it is difficult to write without a purpose. In the primary school years we try and write a very little something everyday… and I try and make it real, a letter to granny or a letter to a friend, create a shopping list for an outing, put forward an outing proposal and so on. In high school I let my kids find online courses in things that interest them… these courses usually require some sort of writing and feedback from the students. If you have ever taught a teen then you will know that it is a lot easier for them to raise their game and write something excellent for anybody that isn’t there parent person… just saying, outsourcing is a good thing. And otherwise there is NANORIMO in November, our older kids commit to that every year and write their way through the month of November.
- Poetry: They each have their own beautiful poetry book to work through as part of their curriculum, but to be honest… these can get a bit lost in the mix and while poetry tea-times are lovely, they happen more occasionally than consistently. But I want our kids to appreciate words and the flow of language so I keep a poetry book next to the kitchen table and when someone is lagging we read a couple of poems. We have found The Works series of poetry to be fantastic, and we are reading our way through this one right now. This one has a se7en poems from fifty two poets… so a poem a day… it is a delightful mix of classic and contemporary, poignant and funny… we love it, we never know who will be next next, it is a book full of lovely surprises. We don’t analyse the poems, we don’t discuss their inner, deeper meanings… we just enjoy them. I read a couple of poems at a time and then ask around the table for their favourites and why they like them or don’t like them… and that’s it.
- Public Speaking: It looks like all our kids’ friends are always doing orals at school… and while my kids redefine chatterbox, their public speaking skills were poor. So we worked on it… I spent one evening a week with my teens, we googled “public speaking tips” we tackled a tip a week and then they gave us a three minute talk each week on a quick and simple topic. A few weeks of mildly concentrated effort and their public speaking efforts improved dramatically.
- A Second Language: Find someone around you fluent in a language different to your own and let your kids learn it… Our kids learn French and they love it. Otherwise I really battled to teach our kids Afrikaans for years, which is silly since I speak it. We tried lists of words, days of the week, counting and so on… boring snoring… we tried easy workbooks recommended by other homeschoolers… yawn. And then I read an article on teaching your children a second language and how immersion is the way to go. In six hours a day your children will learn super fast, my kids speak French on two hours a week, and epiphany warning there is absolutely nothing wrong with fifteen minutes a day. I have always read to my kids in Afrikaans, read and explained and read and explained… but now I have been picking a picture book from the library and we read it on Monday and I explain it, and then I read the same story book every lunchtime for the week… and they are learning heaps. I think hearing the same words again and again helps and just the ten to fifteen minutes in the language helps… when their Afrikaans friends can’t talk in front of them “in secret” anymore, then you know you are winning.
- Current Events: Podcasts or Youtube are your friend… about once a week, sometimes more and sometimes less we have a news hour: CNN Student News, TEDtalks for Kids and Family. and look for something interesting on Kahn Academy.
- Geography: We have a world Map on the wall and whenever we read something we look for it on the world map, otherwise last year we tracked the we take a look at where the Hokulea Voyage on youtube, and Lonely Planet is there for travel adventures as well.
- Computer Studies: Like myself, my kids tend to learn what they need to know and leave it there… one of them has a shine for all things computerish, and he has found whatever he needed to know. I must say that if your child is planning to study anything at all after school then they need to be able to find their way around a computer and safely around the internet. Our best resource for that… is actually Tim Chase’s Free Digital Learning Course. Our high schoolers have done this, it had given them the tools and skills to go much further than they could have done on their own. By the time they have completed one online course they are ready to dive into into online learning… and learning programming is second nature to those with that passion.
- Music: I am all for podcasts and listen to them whenever I can. For music appreciation look no further than the podcast Classics for Kids, pick a musician of the week, listen to their podcast and look for the “Best of your ‘Musician of the Week'” online” and you are done. My oldest kids played instruments but my goodness lessons got really expensive really quickly… for our younger kids BBC Schools Radio is a fantastic resource that they have really enjoy. They sing along, they act out the story, they love it. Right now we are listening to Code Crackers, and previously they have listened to The Great Fire of London and World War 1, Archies War.
- Art: For Art Appreciation, there are any number of fabulous book in our library and I bring one home a week and leave it on the coffee table to inspire. There is a huge difference between art and crafts… and my kids are natural crafters… they just never stop making stuff and I love that. Once or twice a week we start school by doing an art project from Artistic Pursuits Series, each lesson comes with a classic work or artist to learn about and then a new technique to try. I am quite allergic to art programs that tell folk what to do exactly… these books tend to be the “how to do something” rather than follow each step, so everyone produces their own unique artwork. The materials are easy to source and I work alongside my kids. Otherwise for actual drawing… we keep soft art pencils, with our art materials and my kids draw while they listen to audio books, not everyday… but once or twice a week.
- Math: For school our kids use Singapore math, it is hard work and slowly and steadily we tackle it. Last year we started reading a chapter a day of the Life of Fred and our kids have really loved it. So recently I have been looking for fun ways to do math, ways that challenge them to think mathematically and also have a heap of fun at the same time. But that’s a whole ‘nother blogpost.
- Phys Ed: Well we hike a lot, and in order to hike we need to stay fairly fit… so a daily walk and for some of the older guys a daily run, at least. We just don’t use our car unless we absolutely have to, pretty much once a week and that’s it.
- Cooking and Life Skills: Everybody has their signature dish, wether they know it or not, that they are working on… particularly cookies they make each week or dinner one night a week… I know they can fend for themselves and run a house… it is just about getting good at it now.
- Real Life Studies: One evening a week I sit with my teens and we read books about relationships and marriage and dating… I want my kids to grow up and have the best chance at good relationships and I discovered that saying you can ask me anything at anytime was miles away from enough of a conversation opener for our kids. How do you ask about stuff you don’t have a clue about… you have to know something to ask something more. So if your teens aren’t asking you anything may I suggest that you start telling them things and talking about relationships. It is not enough to think your kids will grow up and leave home and one day find a husband or wife and live happily forever after… they need the tools to know how to do this and the nest way is to engage them in conversation. I have found hot cocoa and some good books to be just the conversation starter that we needed.
That’s everything I could possibly think of, off the top of my head… don’t faint this is not what we do every single day by any means. Far from it… but it is how we tackle things bit by bit… chipping away at the things together, giving my kids as much free time as possible, for them to pursue their passions. Also, there are seasons for different themes in school, we can go for months without looking at a particular topic, and then we just dive in again where we left off… so this list is a list of how we tackle topics, not necessarily all the topics we we are doing at a given time.
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Tags: Organizing School · Se7en at School