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

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What We Are Reading Right Now… the Struik Nature Edition…

November 8th, 2017 · No Comments

It is time to bring you our latest and greatest reads from Struik Nature, it is a collection of great giftable books… for kids and their grown ups. We have been working towards creating a biodiversity haven in our garden for a while so the first book, Garden Birds in Southern Africa is a winner for us. Understanding Elephants has just become our go to gift for nature loving and environmentally conscious friends, it is a quick and fascinating read packed with elephant facts and information in spending time with them. Otherwise natural factual colouring books for the win!!!

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Garden Birds in Southern Africa


Garden Birds in Southern Africa by Duncan Butchart: This is just the book we need, we might be living through a drought, and our garden is at its lowest ebb ever, but our birdlife is out of this world. Almost every day someone says, “What bird is that?” it really is time we learnt more about our local birds… and this is the book that is going to teach us. It is fantastic… The book begins with an introduction to bird friendly gardening and how to create habitats that birds will enjoy. There is a lot of information on bird habits and how to feed them sustainably.

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The main section of the book contains a 101 birds found in Gardens around Southern Africa. Each bird gets a full page: A location map and size, beautiful full colour photographs, a detailed description, and a description of its habits, feeding, breeding, lifespan, and garden needs. We were most interested to read how we could attract different birds to our garden. There is also a chapter on which plants birds love, fifty local plants that are great bird magnets. This chapter contains trees would be good additions to your garden and what sort of birds are attracted to specific shrubs and creepers. This book is a great addition to our nature library and is perfect for those of us who want to get to know the birds in our gardens better and those of us who want to create a bird haven in our garden.

Understanding Elephants


Understanding Elephants by The Elephant Specialist Advisory Group: This book is a must read for anyone visiting a Game Park or like us, wishing they were visiting a Game Park. It is a small book that you can toss in your rucksack and read on your journey to your destination and it is absolutely packed with information about elephants. At a glance you will be able to tell how old the elephants you are viewing are, and you will have an idea about how to cope when you are in an area with elephants. Nine chapters: Elephant facts; Family groups and female behaviour; Male behaviour; Ecology and the environment; Communication; Neurology, Intelligence and the effects of trauma; Signals to look out for; Warning signs and signals of aggression; and How to conduct yourself around elephants. This book will provide you with a deeper understanding of elephant behaviour, from the nature of their relationships between each other, to the ways in which they react with people. It is a fascinating read, absolutely packed with facts… how they care for their babies, how they find their food… quite a bit about their favourite plants. Elephant lover’s and environmentalists alike will absolutely love this book and if like us you have never seen elephants in the wild then this book will make you want to get out there more than ever. The authors’ website www.esag.co.za has a lot of information as well as downloadable brochures for elephant viewing.

African Seashores


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African Seashores by Sally Maclarty: The perfect book for sea shore loving kids, who want to know more about the rock pools that they are exploring. From Abalone to Zoanthids, and almost everything in-between… chitons and crabs, oysters and sea cucumbers. Beautiful colouring pages, with a short paragraph including an interesting fact for each animal. The facts are wild and wonderful and will elicit lots of “Did you know?” For example: “Sea Urchins: The urchin’s shell is round and covered with long spines, which help with defence. It’s mouth is underneath and it uses its extra-strong teeth to tear algae off rocks.” The centre pages have thumbnails of every page so that for those that want a guide to the seashore colours, but really the world of rock pools is magical and any colours will do. This book is part of a series of nature colouring books for kids with African insects, mammals, birds, frogs and reptiles available as well.

African Wildlife



African Wildlife to Read, Keep and Colour by Chalres Gotthard and verses by Amanda de Wet: This is a fun colouring book for kids who are passionate about animals and discovering the world, particularly animals in Africa. Each animal is presented on a double page spread, one side of the page is the animal to colour and the other is a poem filled with facts about the animals. This book would make the perfect gift for little friends overseas… and children with an adventurous spirit, who would like to explore wildlife in Africa.


I received these books from Struik Nature for review purposes. It is not a sponsored post, and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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Another Museum Night at the V&A Waterfront…

November 6th, 2017 · No Comments

Cape Town and particularly the V&A Waterfront is full of good surprises and one of them is museum night. We went to the first one, and it was fantastic, even in cold wintry weather citizens of Cape Town poured out into the Waterfront to visit their museums for free and a lot of Cape Town’s most pricey landmarks for half price. We were absolutely hooked on the idea of Museum Night right from the start… On the night the Waterfront, has a fabulous vibe, it is full of interested and curious locals that wouldn’t typically visit. Free museums is an excellent draw card, making features of Cape Town available to locals that are normally priced for tourists only is a fantastic initiative. When we discovered that there was another Museum night looming it went straight onto the calendar, this post is full of our highlights…

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Museums Open For Events and Performances

  1. Cape Medical Museum
  2. Two Oceans Aquarium 1/2 Price
  3. Watershed
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  5. Nobel Square
  6. Alfred Mall
  7. Iziko Maritime Centre
  8. Springbok Experience Rugby Museum
  9. CIRCA Gallery
  10. Amphithetre
  11. Robben Island Jetty 1
  12. Nelson Mandela Gateway
  13. Art@Clocktower
  14. Arup Open Office
  15. Zeitz MOCAA

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The Cape Medical Museum


Is situated slightly outside of the main Waterfront area, but we took a wander out to see it, it is one of the Iziko Museums that we have been meaning to visit and just never seem to get to.
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This is a museum full of historical curiosities… there is a doctor’s room to look at, as well as a dentist room, an operating theatre and a hospital ward. There is a room packed with all sorts of information on diseases that have plagued the Cape.
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This feels very much like an olden time museum, filled with artefacts from medical procedures that have thank goodness been somewhat modernised.
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If you have a family member intrigued by history and medicine then this is the one stop place to visit for them.
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We have a few squeamish members on our team… some folk loved it and some were kind of glad for the gasp of fresh air as we stepped outside.
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To be fair, we could have spent a lot longer there than we did, possibly because there is a lot to look at, but not a lot to touch…
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There was however a very friendly storyteller on the upper level, who provided anecdotes and could speak about literally everything on display and kept everyone fairly intrigued!!!

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The Springbok Experience Rugby Museum


Can I just say, and I somewhat hang my head in shame, but my kids know very little about rugby… we aren’t a rugby family… but We are definilty a Rugby Museum family. My kids absolutely loved it, there is tons to do, and see, and interact with.

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While my kids don’t know the rules and have never actually been to a match… they quickly got the hang of it and loved all the fitness tests on the ground floor, where they have a collection of virtual games… kicking, passing, fitness and their favourite: reaction times.
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Up stairs there is a timeline of rugby history… from the earliest days to the present time.

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Not all of us are quite ready to fill the hands of a Springbok Rugby Captain.

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The displays are fully interactive… lots to touch and explore. And quiz questions and puzzles to figure things out along the way.

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We spent a lot of time exploring here and it was quite a relief to sit down and watch a quick movie at the end of it all… that covered everything from development rugby to Springbok rugby… Not to mention, in case you haven’t heard this before. For sports mad South Africans this is a must visit museum, and for visitors who want to gain some insight into South African Culture… then this museum would be an excellent place to visit.

Otherwise… Budget Friendly Tip…


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Here’s my tip for budget travellers, when you visit an area of any city, especially an area that is very obviously geared towards tourists, have a look around for where the folk that work in that neighbourhood get their lunch before you spend money on an expensive restaurant or take-outs. There is nothing wrong with that, if you are planning to eat out, but we always look for the local supermarket and buy a picnic there. There are plenty of tables outside for folk to settle down and enjoy their supper.
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A visit to the sweetie store turns an exciting evening into an exciting event for our kids… well worth it!!!
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The Clipper Race

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We are huge fans of the Clipper Race and we stopped by to check them out before it got too dark. Of course that wasn’t nearly enough time well spent so we had to go back for that again… and that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Meanwhile…

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There are few things more exciting than wandering about at night, while it is as busy as mid-day. There is lots to look at and tons to see.

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Zeitz MOCAA

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We did hope to see the Museum of Contemporary African Art, we are all dying to visit there… but when we saw that the queue was ninety minutes long and it was already fairly late in the evening… we headed for our favourite place…

The Two Oceans Aquarium

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To wander around and enjoy all the sea life…

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Because everyone needs some underwater neon…
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Look out for the next museum night… they are great fun and a fantastic way for families to have a mid week adventure…

Museum Night at the Waterfront

→ No CommentsTags: Cape Town · Outings

Se7en’s Collection of Marvellous Middle Grade Reads for #MGBooktober

November 3rd, 2017 · 2 Comments

I discovered the #MGBooktober hashtag on instagram quite by accident… it was a running tagline for the month of October to seek out and find the best of the rest in Middle Grade Reads. Middle Grade Reads include dozens of our favourites but by the time I was ready to join in I realised that it make a fabulous blog post too. Everyone loves a list of fab books, right? So here it is… Our collection of reads for #MGBooktober Bazillions of Books and we hope you love them all.

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#1 The Book You Are Reading Now



Wonderling by Mira Bartók: This book I have been dying to read, since I first saw the cover… I am 100 out of 400 pages in and it is a very satisfying read. It is fat, it is fantastical and just what I expected so far, but I have a feeling this book has hidden depths and I can’t wait to see it through to the end.

#2 The Book You Love the Most



The Dark is Rising Series by Susan Cooper: These books have been my favourites forever… I have loved them since childhood and I have read them again and again and again…

#3 Your Favourite MG Adventure



The Guild Specialists by Joshua Mowll. These books… beautifully created, packed with amazing and detailed artefacts: newspaper cuttings, old photographs, plans and diagrams… and a gripping adventure. Part historical novel, part spy, part intrigue… gripping adventure from start to finish. Everything to love.

#4 Best SciFi MG


I can’t really scifi… not my best genre. Actually, I can’t even…

#5 Which MG Character is Most Like You



The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg: I haven’t read this book… but my kids have and loved it. And, look at the author!!! When I asked them for a MG character most like me, this book was their response, and here is why: Margaret Rose Kane’s response to every activity on summer camp is “I prefer not to.” That is so me… me me me!!! So Margaret gets to spend the summer with her uncles, who are the bane of the neighbourhood… because they have spent forty five years constructing towers in their back yard from recycled finds: grocery, scrap metal and suchlike. The neighbourhood wants the “artwork” gone… and Margaret Rose is going to stand up for her uncles’ rights, no matter what. I am now going to have to read this book myself… to see who my kids think I am!!!

#6 Best Book of 2017 So Far



The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell: I totally loved it and I totally looked forward to reading it ALL year… worth the wait. Creepy. Exciting. A crazy adventure, but actually all about valiant friendship… the two lead players are such great characters, full of failings, but ultimately endearing heroes. Get it. Read it. It is Fantastic.

#7 Most Exciting New Writer



The Hour of Bees by Lindsay Eager: I loved this book, and I wish everyone everywhere would read it. It is the story of twelve year old Carol, who heads for the New Mexico desert over the summer to relocate her Grandpa. The story happens around the relationship that a gal and her grandpa have, that special closeness as she starts to emerge from childhood. She is still sweet and not cynical about the world around her and he hasn’t given up hope on the world around him. Together they are a formidable team that won’t be told what to do by anyone.

#8 A Book That Made You Cry



Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Wescott: This is on my list of best books ever… like ever. Not a lot of books are written for children about losing a parent… this book documents the time in Liv’s life around the time of her mum’s death. It is touching and sad, in a beautiful way. this huge thing is going on in her life and yet life goes on around her… there is still school and her high need brother and just life. And then there is cancer, thrown into the mix. This is a coming of age book, Liv does grow up through all of this. I think the word for this book would be heartwarming, you will laugh till you cry and you will cry alongside Liv. Just beautiful and the kind of book all kids should read so that they can better understand their friends that are going through similar life-changing events. This book is definitely an empathy builder.

#9 Favorite Food in a MG Book



The Folk of the Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton: One of my childhood favourites, and my kids’ favourites packed with word images of wonderful picnics, feasts and parties. And doesn’t everyone want to eat some of Silky’s Pop Biscuits… just saying.

#10 Most Awesome MG Friendship



The Moonlight Dreamers by Siobhan Curham: I have said it before and I will say it again… these books are like hot chocolate on a wintry afternoon. Perfect reads about friendship. Four girls from very different backgrounds form a club, called the Moonlight Dreamers, where they support each others dreams and encourage each other through the ups and downs of life. These books cover tons of almost every current and not so current issue that your kids might face in school… and they are a great and relaxed way to talk about relationships, from their own crushes, to their parents… one has a very traditional family, one has two dads, one has celebrity parents who consistantly live on social media, and one’s dad is a widow. So very diverse backgrounds, very diverse problems, very divers kids and friendship that unites them and stands by them through thick and thin.

#11 Favourite Animal MG Book



Sam Angus writes our favourite animal stories by miles, they are deep, packed with emotion and always explore topics that you wouldn’t normally explore with your kids. These books will describe emotions and feelings like nothing else you have read before. We read them aloud as a family and hang on every word, not pausing for anything… read on, read on. They are absolutely brilliant and we can’t love them enough… you will laugh and you will cry and cry and cry… indeed there will be lots of tears. They are war stories after all.

#12 Favourite MG Fantasy



The Unicorn Secret Series by Kathleen Duey: This series is definitely not just for girls, and if your kids are into breathtaking suspense, mystery and exciting adventures. An orphan girl, called Heart, is on a quest to discover her roots and on the way discovers unicorns. Your kids have to read these.

#13 A Book That Makes You Joyful



My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrel: This is one of our family favourites… that we have read outloud over and over again. Gerry… the youngest in the family is an animal collector of note and when his very eccentric family gets to spend a year on the island of Corfu… he narrates about the animals he discovers and his older siblings’ lives as though they were one and the same. Just his observations of the world around him. Absolutely genius writing, this has to be our family favourite and just a mention of the name… Joyful!!!

#14 The Classic Everyone Should Read



The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: it is short it is sweet and has to be savoured. You can’t read this book in snippets, it has to be read in chunks, else you lose the flow of the story. A remarkable book that everyone should read… a story that is breathtaking and emotional and well everything. Has to be read.

#15 Favourite MG Illustrator




Chris Riddell, Chris Riddell, Chris Riddell… is our hands down winner of favourite illustrator ever. We actively seek out Chris Riddell’s artwork and books… he is a wonder of illustration and words. Our favourite, favourite.

#16 The Book You Wish You Had Never Read and Why



The Boy in Striped Pajamas by John Boyne: I am so glad that I read this book, but oh the pain. This book is so so heart wrenching… World War II through the eyes of a curious child. His childhood hero is his father, of course and friendships count for everything. Devastating, tragic… excellent read.

#17 The MG Character You Love to Hate the Most



Matilda by Road Dahl: I don’t think you can write a post on Middle Grade Readers without mention the fantastical classical Roald Dahl. They are filled with characters that you love to hate and is there anyone worse than The Trunchbull!!! If your kids won’t read these because they have seen the movies (remember movies are not ever as good as the book) then get the audio collection and go on a road trip… really childhood is too short to miss out on the wonders of all that is Roald Dahl.

#18 A Book With Great Themes



Land of Stories by Chris Colfer: Twins Axel and Conner entire the world of fairy tales for a series of unbelievable adventures… packed with your favourite and not so favourite fairy tale characters these books are a whirl through another world. These books are Hood #6’s best books ever… I never dreamt she would read them, they are great big fat chapter books, but clearly the story is fantastic because she powered her way through all of them… again and again and again!!!

#19 The Book You Wish You Had Written



Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh: This was my favourite childhood book, and this book turned me into a reader. I loved this book, I was Harriet and I could do anything… including wear blue jeans and sneakers and carry a notebook everywhere.

#20 Which MG Character Would be your BFF



Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren: Pippi… the best friend ever, spontaneous fun… always surprising and always full of adventure… love her!!!

#21 Best Detective MG Story



Detectives in Togas and Mystery of the Roman Ransom by Henry Winterfeld: A Detective story and history… set in ancient Roman Times. A group of children have an strange mystery to solve, and of course not enough time to solve it in. Lots to love, these are great great reads that our kids have loved.. If your kids are ready for chapter reads then they are ready for these.

#22 Which MG World Would You Most Like to Live in



The Children of Noisy village by Astrid Lindgren and illustrated by Ilon Wikland: The Bullerby Children have to be my all time favourite families and I would love to have to grown up in this magical world that celebrated all the seasons of the year and childhood in style. Simple beautiful living, without all the drama and busyness of life in the fast lane. I loved this book and all the other books in the series. They are delightful, packed with people that you would want to be friends with. Happy memories are kept between the pages of this book.

#23 The Book that Made You Laugh the Most



Timmy Failure by Stephan Pastis: Timmy Failure is a slightly off beat character, funny and packed with cleverness… Timmy and his sidekick Polar Bear are together the “best” detective agency in town… they make mistakes, honest blunders

#24 Favourite Book Cover



The Puffin in Bloom Collection: Beautiful Classics in beautiful covers… I absolutely love these… All of these!!!

#25 Best MG Realism



928 Miles from Home and A Seven Letter Word by Kim Slater: Gotta love Kim Slater’s writing, about real live kids with real live problems in a real live world. Love them… kids in these books need help and while they try to find it, they have to figure out their problems and solve them on their own. They are great books about brave kids in a world of bullying, they overcome and ultimately get the break they need. Good books, good problem solving skills and great reads.

#26 Favourite MG Writer



How even do you choose!!! If someone where to ask me to recommend a great MG reader for their kids… then I would immediately answer Michael Morpugo for real life and great emotional reads, Lauren Child for pure fun and enjoyment, Dick King Smith for endless animal stories and Kate Di Carmello for magical fantasy.

#27 The Book You Are Most Excited About on Your TBR Pile



The War that Saved my Life and Brown Girl Dreaming and Mr Limoncello: Can I just say I am dying to read this, don’t actually own them, and haven’t spotted them in the library yet… but I sure am looking out for them!!!

#28 Favourite Grownups in MG



Claude by Axel T. Smith: All the Claude’s… we just love. On the easy reading end of middle grade reads, Claude is a very cultured little pup who wears a red beret and has a best friend called Sir Bobblysock. He goes on wonderful little adventures and is hysterically funny throughout. His grown ups are Mr and Mrs Shinyshoes, that’s all you ever see or know about them. ’nuff said, the best!!!

#29 Which Book Do you Think will be a Future Classic



The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick: This book is beautiful, in fact a work of art, with the most exquisite drawings to illustrate the journey through it… one feels as if you are reading a foreign language, simply because the words have a deep richness to them. Not to mention that it is set in a Paris station… The book is about Hugo, an orphan who is on a quest to understand the message from his deceased father, hidden in his intricate notebooks. His quest is interrupted by an old man who runs a toyshop on the station and a girl who just loves books. Everyone is interconnected, but how… this is a mystery within a mystery within a mystery. Compelling reading… this book is truly a work of art.

#30 Favourite MG Scary Story



Black Cats and Butlers: Book 1 Rose Ravensthorpe Investigates by Janine Beachman: Just read this and absolutely loved this delightfully creepy and intriguing mystery. Not often you get a murder mystery for middle schoolers, and this one is brilliant… for those that love creepy intrigue. When the cats of Yorke start to disappear, and every time a cat vanishes, so a butler dies. There are people in town that believe this is the result of a legend… but Rose knows better and is determined to figure thing out. This is a must read.

#31 Most Scary MG Character



How to Train a Dragon by Cressida Cowell: Hiccup’s Mother, hands down the scariest character ever… my kids sat in bed with eyes like saucers whenever she came on the scene. I kept saying we needn’t read this and they were: “more, more, more.” So we read on!!! They loved it… but hands down the scariest character ever!!!

And that’s us… go and look for #MGBOOKTOBER on Instagram if you are looking for more great reads.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Brilliant Books

Se7en’s November and Your Free Printable Calendar…

November 1st, 2017 · No Comments

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And suddenly it is November again… wishing you all the best month ahead full of lots of exciting plans and adventures…

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You are welcome to click on the calendar page, it will open in a new tab, print it out and then colour it and fill in the days that you want to celebrate… pop it on the fridge and you are good to go. You can still find all the calendar pages down the right hand side of our website and they are all gathered together in our Almanac page for easy searching… If you have holidays or ideas that you would like to add then please go ahead and comment, I would love to have our calendars packed to the brim!!!

→ No CommentsTags: Celebrity Calendar

When School Science is Real Science with Cape Citizen Science…

October 30th, 2017 · 2 Comments

Inspiring kids with real live science in the great outdoors, has been the way for us to introduce practical and experimental science into our school this year. It is fun, it is rigorous and teaches them all the good things about doing experiments with the necessary care and correct documentation. Science experiments are always brilliant fun, our kids consider science to be just another extension of arts and crafts. This is true, a scientist does have to be filled with creative inspiration to ask interesting questions and to think of innovative ways to answer them. To this end we have been enjoying participating in Citizen Science for the while… it takes the level of doing science to a new level, when your results count and you have to take care with each and every step of the process.

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Location Location Location…

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A while back we did a year long Nature Watch Project on Elsie’s Peak, and so when we had the chance to do a little bit of Citizen Science on Elsie’s Peak we were all very keen to head out and learn. Our task on the mountain side was to take a closer look at those plants around us that were dying and to see if we could figure out why there were dying. A number of things effect plants, including harsh environmental conditions, bird life animal life and so on… we were keen to figure out why some of the plants on our mountain were in fact dying.
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There are a fair amount of steps involved in getting up our mountain, and so you really have to want to do this kind of science. A big advantage is that we do have a lot of dead and dying plants that we hadn’t noticed before. After years of looking out for living plants and dashing up the mountain to draw and observe the local fynbos you do have to train your eye a little bit, to notice the plants that are struggling. That being said, once you spot them you can’t help yourself and so begins the wondering… what happened to that plant, and that one, and that one?
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Is it something attacking the routes, are their bugs on the plants, is there fungus? Lots of questions…
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And time for some real science to see if we can find any answers…
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It is All About the Gear

Turns out scientists use a lot of gear, for accurate data collection you need to be able to collect samples carefully and accurately document your discoveries. You never know when your next discovery is going to be a huge one and carful recordings make for valuable and useful science.

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We needed to record your location with a gps…

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Document discoveries with a camera at first…
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And oversee all your proceedings with a gopro…
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Because we are looking for plant disease and we are aware of pathogens that we might bring into the area, we have to be careful that we are not bringing new diseases into the area ourselves… and we have to be careful that all our tools and implements are clean between taking each sample collection as well.
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Sample Collection

Clean tools and equipment are critical as we mentioned before, to avoid contamination from other locations…

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And collecting samples from as close to the roots of the dying plant as possible …
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Each sample needs its own bag, with a label with its identifying name or number, as well as the accurate location and any special comments.
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Laboratory Preparation

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Once our samples were collected we headed home to prepare them for laboratory testing and analysis.
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And of course photographing everything…
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Everyone taking extra care with their samples…
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Tape them shut…
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And label everything carefully…
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And our samples were good to go to the lab… where we met up with them a week or two later…
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Off to the Laboratory

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We took a trip out to Stellenbosch to meet our Citizen Scientist, Joey… who was there to show us around his lab and help us to process a whole lot of soil samples, including our own. We got to explore the lab…
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And a little classroom experience for our gang of homeschoolers…
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And a presentation…
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And learnt about the fynbos biome…
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Into the Laboratory

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The plant disease we are looking for is phytophera, and that is a little microorganism that likes to swim…
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So our soil samples were placed in baths….
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And then we took a look at some of our previous soil samples…
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Which had healthy ivy leaves added to it…
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Where the ivy leaf was blackened, new samples were created, because this could essentially be an indicator of the disease we were after.
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Everything was kept sterilised and clean, in order to prevent cross-contamination…
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Everything documented…
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Everything photographed of course…
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New petri-dishes created…
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And lots of microscope work…
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Because microscopes make everything more exciting…
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And a Whole Lot More Science


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Because look how beautifully these things grow…
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And creating new samples…
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And there you go…
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The Photo Gallery

Cape Citizen Science

If you want to know more about Cape Citizen Science, and join their project then take a look at their website here.

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Se7en’s Fabulous Friday Fun #356

October 22nd, 2017 · 4 Comments

It’s been a reading all weekend kind of weekend, you can expect a pile of book reviews to be up on the blog this week!!! Otherwise catching up with friends and getting used to the idea of SUMMERTIME!!!

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I have been blogging over at the Sport Science Institute: How to Measure Progress When You don’t Appear to Be Making Any…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. I absolutely love Styling You: Our blogs are the same age, we are of the same era and she blasts clothing and confidence and what you are wearing out of the water: Here are Styling You’s 15 Swimsuit Confidence Commandments for 2017. Basically get out there and enjoy the summer.
  2. Adorable Superhero Leaf Masks on Babyccino.
  3. Tim Denning on Addicted 2 Success on How I Spent the Last 3 Years Becoming Minimalist and Why You Should Too.
  4. You have to take a look at Malala’s Magic Pencil on Mr Schu Reads and watch the videos. This is a hugely anticipated book in our house.
  5. Hmmm… 5 Ways to reduce your Oil Consumption from Eco Kids.
  6. Dozens of non-fiction printable goodness from The F.C.B.G. National Non-Fiction Resources… in preparation for November.
  7. Food for thought: On mnmlist.com: The difference between our needs and requirements.
  8. And this folks is why I never miss a post from Who’s the Mummy, she literally makes me laugh until I cry.

A Blast From the Past:

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This Week: Museum Night at the V and A Waterfront

We are so looking forward to this on the 25 October 2017… diarise it and look out for it… we loved the previous Museum night, check it out here…

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Cape Town International Kite Festival 2017

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Details:

  • Saturday 28/Sunday 19 October 2017
  • Zandvlei Nature Reserve
  • R40 for adults, R15 for children under 12
  • Kites from China, England, Germany, Malaysia, Netherlands, Poland, South Africa
  • Proceeds to support Cape Mental Health
  • Details on the website here, #righttofly #CTKitefest

That’s us… hope you have the most fabulous week!!!

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Se7en Discover that Writing is Fun… Creative Writing for Kids…

October 18th, 2017 · No Comments

The fabulous thing about homeschooling is that when something isn’t working it is in your power to change it and change it for the better. For a while writing just wasn’t working for us at all. And folks kept saying to me I can’t get my kids to write anything, and I kept thinking, “Well my kids write.” But to be honest, while my kids were writing they definitely weren’t loving it and some of them were digging their heels in so firmly that I did start to think that they might never actually write an entire sentence. However, I did notice that they were happy to write the things they needed for a game they were playing or a letter they wanted to write to a friend. I thought I would build on that.

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Some folk’s outing journal over here looked a lot like: “We went to “pick any place” and it was fun. The End.” Every single outing. I knew that I had to make some changes. I decided to add a little writing inspiration to their lives and see where it would go, you know just gently up our writing game… really easy like. Looking for fun books with writing ideas in them in library and just taking them out every other week or two and dipping into them as part of our family school. My kids responded surprisingly well to that.

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They loved creating characters and had a lot of fun figuring out new settings and so on. Teeny tiny writing projects, I have a feeling nothing overwhelming is a big part of writing for fun. Everyone was happy, we were slowly beginning to win at writing. The ultimate goal is that my children write for pleasure, so that when they have an idea they will have the skills to jot it down. If they want to develop their story further… then so be it. Honestly, I was so surprised by how much they enjoyed it all.

A Writing Week

I decided to up the game a little more and declared a writing week. Normally when we take a break from school, we have science week and do tons of science experiments. Well a writing week works just the same… just a fun writing project everyday. Honestly a writing week requires very little preparation… a pile of paper, some pretty paper, old photographs and magazines for picture inspiration, and colourful pens and pencils help a lot too. Not to mention stickers. I was very intentional about our goal… the writing was to be pure fun for everyone, and it was to be completely voluntary. And it was to feel, as far as the East is from the West, like anything remotely to do with school. I admit, I made it very arty and crafty and there was tons for them to play with and inspire them to write more. But the point is, they loved it and wanted to write more.

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To start our writing week I gathered a few books for inspiration… put all our materials together in one place: notebooks, one or two magazines for pictures, markers and watercolours and such like. Our very first meeting we spent covering and decorating our notebooks… yes, you could buy fancy notebooks and skip that step, but it turned out to be quite fundamental to setting the tone. Firstly, I sat there and created my own sketchbook with them (always a win if I join in) and we spoke about all the things that you could expect in a writing club… writing for instance!!! I am so glad we did that… because expectations are quite important to establish right from the start.

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I kept it really simple, and if the only writing they did was one or two words, then so be it. My intention was to keep it joyful and once we had made one page together in our notebooks they were very keen to carry on creating more elaborate projects on their own. They really just needed to get this project started and they were good to go the extra mile. The idea is that they love writing… and of course they will learn how to write a formal letter, and a comparative essay in time… but half of my students are in primary school… it is alright for them to have a playful attitude towards writing, the fact that their older siblings want to join in and play along too is really just a winning situation. One day we turned ink blots into cartoons… and I love how every child has a completely different interpretation of the same project. Another day we pretend we were someone else and created passports.

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Another day we created a party cake in a mixing bowl…

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And I love these…

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Life got a little busy and I forgot about it for a while… and then my kids started to ask if they could write during our family school time in the mornings. Stop. Read that again. They enjoyed writing so much, that they asked if they could do some writing everyday as part of their family school. I said, “I would think about it.” While secretly dancing a jig for joy!!! Anyway, writing week, became writing club and once a week or so we spend time together doing a writing project.

Free Writing… Really?!?


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And we have upped our game again and added free writing to our family school routine as well. Quite the most astonishing thing… I told them I would only do writing if everyone arrived at the table with paper and a pencil ready to write and as long as no one complained about it, we would continue with it. After one person’s complete melt down at the start, “I can’t write, you can’t make me, I will never be able to write…” Everyone else was so absorbed with what they were doing, that said person realised the drama was wasted and just got on with it. It has become our favourite part of school time, no-one complains, everyone is busy and from grade two till twelve we are writing every single day. Some people write a page, some people write a line… I don’t mind. I especially don’t worry about spelling and details of that nature. This is free writing in the very free sense of the word.

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Free Writing for the Win

All you need is paper and pencils and a timer. And a topic jar… we create our topics by going round the table and giving everyone a turn to drop a topic of their choice into the jar. We begin each day by selecting a topic for the day from the topic jar… and set the timer and off we go… all of us, particularly me. I began with the timer set for two minutes, thinking that any longer would overwhelm some of my frail writers… well it took us a week to build up to five minutes and three weeks later everyone thinks they are still writing for five minutes, but I have steadily built it up to ten minutes a day. My kids are writing, without complaint for ten minutes a day. They are writing for themselves, for their own enjoyment and they are happy with that. Once a week, they each select their favourite peace of writing from the week, prepare it and choose to read it to us.

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The key really has been joining them because writing is hard. It isn’t like a workbook where you fill in the gaps, there is a lot going on. Not only do you have to concentrate on penmanship, but you have to concentrating on expressing your ideas as well. One thing you can do to ease the pain is to write alongside them… this has helped my kids enormously. To see me stumped by a topic during our free writing time, or to see me just keep on writing when I have actually run out of things to say. Work through it and write on, write on… it has been good for my kids to see that they can actually do this… it is not impossible. It doesn’t have to perfect, for them to want to carry on with it and keep at it, it has to be fun.

A Couple of Fun Resources

Writing definitely can be fun, and when it is fun it is amazing how inspired your kids will be to try harder things and go the extra mile.

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