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

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A Galactically Good Nature Poster GiveAway…

June 1st, 2016 · 20 Comments

Last week we blogged a post about our Nature Journals… And what an easy and accessible activity it is for everyone to join in. I wrote about how for nature journaling it really helps to have local guide books, especially ones that are geared towards children, on hand. Well it turns out that our favourite resource books from Struik Nature have just become posters. And they are totally fabulous posters…

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Images of posters courtesy of #StruikNature


Let’s Meet the Posters

There are four posters in the series, with at least 50 animals of each type included on the poster. And who knew how many different types of buck there were in Southern Africa!!!

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The series includes posters of mammals and insects,

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Snakes and other reptiles,

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As well as common birds of Southern Africa.

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Each animal has it’s name written in four of our major languages… English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu, so it is a great way to get familiar with animal names in other languages.

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There are extra little details included, especially in the insect poster, where insects in their various life stages are included in the poster… not necessarily a pretty sight, but my kids were intrigued.

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Otherwise there has been the naming of regular house guests…

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And at last we are beginning to easily identify birds spotted in the garden. It really makes a big difference to see the birds and their names consistently for them to stick in our heads!!!

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My guys have been intrigued… pointing out things and learning heaps of new things as well. While the books associated with this series are never away on a shelf and always out, being used for one project or another having a poster up really does teach you things without feeling like you are studying at all.


The GiveAway

We received a set of posters from the publishers, Struik Nature and Penguin Random House South Africa, and we loved them so much that we decided that we needed a set of posters for our readers, as a GiveAway as well. We have a set of posters to give to a nature loving reader, anywhere in the world… all you have to do to stand a chance of winning is leave a comment, before the end of play on Saturday 11 June and tell us which South African animal you would like to meet one day.

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Images of posters courtesy of #StruikNature

We will draw and publish the winners in the Fabulous Fun Post after the 11 June. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

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

→ 20 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps · Reviews · Se7en at School

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #318…

May 31st, 2016 · No Comments

Well Autumn has definitely arrived and this weekend past the leaves were literally falling out of the sky… there is a crispness in the air, somewhat energising and I find myself dashing out for little walks continuously… its just too good outdoors to be indoors right now!!!

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So we are reading outdoors, eating outdoors, arting outdoors… it is almost impossible to be indoors… a whole lot less screen time for me, and heaps of books being read – which is good for you… because we have some lovely book reviews coming your way… and another fun GiveAway, later in the week!!!

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. On Modern Parents, Messy Kids: Making Natural Play Spaces in Your Back Yard… I just loved the look of this post… so much loveliness!!!
  2. Zen Habits and Two ways to form habits effortlessly, I am changing a couple of habits over here and micro steps seem to be the way to go for now.
  3. If you need inspiration to GET OUTDOORS, then look no further than 30 Days Wild, it’s UK based campaign, but you don’t have to be in the UK to follow along, you don’t even have to be in the middle of summer… Packed with unbeatable and fun ideas.
  4. Deep Space Sparkle’s Sketchbook Project Posts… Lots to love!!!
  5. Winnie the Pooh is 90 this year, and so is the Queen… and here is the sweetest downloadable book, from Disney Inspired, to go with it!!!
  6. Love this round trip of the Cape Peninsula on A Passport Affair.
  7. Sometimes you just can;t believe what you are reading!!! Truth is indeed Stranger than Fiction…
  8. And the se7en + 1th link:


  9. A Blast From the Past:


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Our Trivia GiveAway

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All the entries…

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Mixed in the mug…
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After picking and choosing, the winners are:

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Jennifer: May 28, 2016 at 3:47 am This looks like great fun!
Tiffany W: May 19, 2016 at 1:15 pm This looks like a great book to add to our bookcase.
Julie R: May 19, 2016 at 2:02 pm What an awesome book! Thanks for the giveaway!

Three lucky winners: Jennifer, Tiffany W, and Julie R, congratulations and look out for an email from us…

We would like to thank MapStudio who supplied us with diaries to review. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

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

→ No CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en Explore Two Family Friendly Hikes in Cape Point…

May 28th, 2016 · 6 Comments

As you know Cape Point is our favourite place to head out on a hike and it just so happens that this time of year is perfect for hiking. Cape Point is a great place for hiking with families, there are lots of places to walk and to linger a little longer. This is a place where hiking is all about the journey… and stopping to look around and take in your surroundings. We have been hiking a lot lately… ‘Tis the season. The weather is a lot cooler than heat of summer and every now and then there are a couple of wild and stormy days that make a hike so much more exciting. So I thought I would bring you two family friendly hikes we have done lately… one on a glorious day and the other in a wild storm…

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Scroll down to the end of the post, for all our other hikes in Cape Point


The Knife Edge


Recently we had a truly wild storm, and we decided to head out for a hike… because exciting times. Also the weather forecast predicted that the storm would break in the afternoon, so we headed out first thing in the morning, faced howling winds and just a little rain, as the storm approached and were home for cocoa before the torrenting rain could get to us.

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Anyway the cold windy conditions meant that we didn’t linger to take to many photographs… but it is a great hike for families with kids that are eager to hike. I would rank it a little tricky if you have toddlers who tire easily or who might want to be carried in places. But certainly for school age kids this is a win – a little of adventure and on a beautiful day during whale season this would be the hike of choice. It is short, about an hour and a half maybe two hours, with a fairly steep uphill for the first half… take it slowly and enjoy the view… it will be well worth it when you pop out on the top and can look down on the whole of False Bay.

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The fynbos on this hike is particularly beautiful, and you can find lots of variety and lots of interesting plants to try out your identification skills.

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Otherwise there wasn’t a lot of wildlife… the wise animals had all taken shelter from the impending storm…

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This route begins at Whale Watch Viewpoint at Rooikrans and you head up Da Gama Peak… it’t not as tough as it looks, the path follows the contours and gradually heads up… and taking it really slowly we took about an hour. Also as a morning hike the uphill is in the shade… so cool and crispy air helps.

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And my word the views from the top are exceptional. There is a good rocky outcrop just before the top to stop and rest your legs… and watch the tourists spin past you on the road below, like ants dashing towards the lighthouses and the Cape of Good Hope. And in a wild storm there are even a few nooks and crannies to take shelter…

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Once you crest the top of Da Gama Peak…

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There is a nice quick walk down to the parking lot at the Cape Point Lighthouse parking lot.

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This path is lovely and for the adventurous spirited, it is called the Knife Edge.

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In places it is a lovely boulder hop, a clear path, and huge rocks to scramble over. Not difficult at all (I could do it!!!), and certainly not as dangerous as the name would have you believe.

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However the adventurous spirits in our group loved the name and the magic of this place that leaves you feeling somewhat all alone and on top of the world at the same time. This is a spectacular hike… We liked it so much that when we woke the next morning and the storm was over and past and it was a glorious day, we got up and went out and did it again!!!


Submarine Look-Out at Olifantsbos

This is a really easy family walk that begins with a short uphill, don’t despair it is short and and there are masses of lizards to look at all over the place, to distract you from the hill. We have done this hike in reverse several times… it is the Sirkels Vlei hike from Olifantsbos… you hike up a well marked path and after about 100 m the path splits. We normally turn inland towards the vlei and then take the circular route across the plateau and back to Olifantsbos… always at the end of the hike we spot this interesting submarine look out and never have time to explore it.

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So we decided to be a little more intentional and head up the way we normally finish… from Olifantsbos where the path splits we turned towards the sea. There is a lovely gentle walk along the coast at the top of the escarpement… there is lots to look at, and there are usually animals to spot from above… in the strip of wetlands between the base of the mountain and the beach. Not to mention you are looking down on the Shipwreck Trail… so plenty to spot and a pair of binoculars would definitely add to the adventure.

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Lizard Season, every one was out to enjoy the sunshine…

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Yes, that is a little lizard trail… easy to spot on the sandy slopes…

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You might be surprised by a couple of folk having an afternoon rest…

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Submarine Lookout…

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Not impossible to imagine what it would be like to be there during the war…

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And lots to explore and what a view from the window…

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You are way above the birds…

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And the view from the look out is forever…

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And this little fellow joined us for lunch…

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we took an easy walk along the cliff tops…

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And when you stop in a shady spot and are still, you will always be surprised at what stops by…

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This little fellow and his friend…

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And after all our hiking in Cape Point, this was the first time we had seen these fellows.

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We hiked just as far as the signboards… and then enjoyed an easy amble back the way we had come… though from here, the world is literally your oyster there are so many ways to go from this one spot!!!

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Other Hikes in Cape Point.

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→ 6 CommentsTags: Hiking · Outings · Saturday Spot

Se7en Steps to Your Own Where’s Wally Colouring Page…

May 27th, 2016 · 8 Comments

It is definitely time for a crafty book post, and you know how we absolutely love Where’s Wally over here. Let us introduce the new Where’s Wally Colouring Book, by Martin Handford.

Yes, the colouring craze has extended all the way to Where’s Wally and it is brilliant, the hunt is on and it is so so much harder in black and white. Not impossible, but close… really close. This book has hours and hours of fun packed into it. Nice strong pages that will handle with ease: markers, crayons, pencils and one child even used watercolours. Strong and sturdy covers are essential because it is one of those books that is going to be carried around to many places, tossed in a bag, looked at on the beach, up the mountain… it is that good… this book is going everywhere!!!

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This post forms part of The Picture Book Party with PanMacmillan South Africa. The book arrived in a delightful package, don’t you love the little pencil crayon packs that went straight into everyone’s backpacks for their nature journaling.


How to make your own Where’s Wally Colouring Page

We decided to try and create our own Where’s Wally colouring pages and then show all our drawing loving followers how to create their own. We set up our workspace in the great outdoors, added some music, blank pages and pencils and some Where’s Wally mini-books for inspiration. We were good to draw…

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The thing about Where’s Wally is the delightful busyness of the pages, there is so much to see and do… so we brainstormed the things you would need to fill up a page thoroughly… with as few spaces left open as possible. It was somewhat of a drawing experiment. We decided that we wold need about fifty of each item to feel like our page was filled in… fifty trees, fifty houses and so on… once we got into the rhythm of drawing… there was no stopping the gang!!!

  1. A mountainous background…
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  3. Trees…
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  5. Buildings…
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  7. Animals…
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  9. Vehicles…
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  11. People…
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  13. Details… flags, bunting, waves, roads… all the essential extras.
  14. And the Se7en+1th thing…

  15. Finally hide a Wally somewhere in your picture… he is hiding in a parachute, he is hidden in a school room, he his hidden all over!!!
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Gallery of Artwork

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After and entire day of drawing and wandering off and wandering back for a couple more details… we had a gallery of colouring pages good and ready… I love these, they reflect exactly where each of my kids are drawing wise. It is a snapshot in time!!!

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Previous Where’s Wally Posts on Our Blog

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Where’s Wally? The Magnificent Mini Book Box… And How to Find Where’s Wally AnyWhere.

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Se7en + 1 Create Quick and Easy I SPY Trays… And there is a Where’s Wally hiding in all of them.

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Where’s Wally Was All Over Cape Town…

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Se7en Shares a Birthday With Where’s Wally!!!


Previous Picture Book Party Posts


Thank you so much to PanMacmillan South Africa for the copy of The Where’s Wally Colouring Book for review purposes and the invitation to join the Picture Book Party. This is not a sponsored post, we were not paid to create it and the opinions expresses are, as usual, our one.

→ 8 CommentsTags: Book Crafts · Brilliant Books

Se7en’s Fabulous Fun Post #317

May 25th, 2016 · 2 Comments

So I took the weekend off: Early to bed, early to rise and a little bit of a catch up with myself. Just what I needed, only to discover that our internet is staggeringly slow. It rained in a torrential kind of way, and our internet just can’t handle the rain… so slow slow frustrating blogging over here. But a post is out and a week of bookish posts are good to go…

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And in case you think getting a gang to actually just look at a camera like regular folk is as easy as all that…

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Lovely Links from This Week

  1. I blogged about Nature Journals last week… I think it must be the season: Here’s another great post on Nature Journaling on Mother Nature Network.
  2. And Alisa Burke… What can I say: She has new online classes for the Northern Summer… would you take a look at The Traveler’s Journal. And then… you have to take a look at her journaling in Staying Inspired on the Road.
  3. I am all for this… just drop the perfection and do stuff. For Fun. Things Worth Doing Badly on InEarnestMag.
  4. For all the mother’s hearts out there… Meet Me at Mikes said it all this week.
  5. This looks like a holiday in heaven… love Babyccino and their visit to a Feather Down Farms.
  6. Gotta love Style and Shenanigans and her practical guide to: What to Wear from Breastfeeding.
  7. And the se7en + 1th link:


  8. A Blast From the Past:


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    Se7en'sDrawingaDay001
    If you click on the image and print it landscape – you can pop the list on your fridge as a daily reminder


Our Trivia GiveAway

This GiveAway is open until the weekend… click over and leave a comment if you would like to enter…

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Our Library Book by Book Project

So last week we delivered our library of books… and were we grateful for the boxes of books from all our readers. We opened them up with the school children and we had a blast reading with them… and then all the books were put back into boxes, because there is so much more to a library than having piles of books…

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The hard work and behind the scenes of any library has begun, with unpacking and sorting anywhere between 1000 and 2000 books (never thought to count them!!!) into categories. Then the recording, labelling and covering in plastic will begin. My word we have given these poor teachers quite a job. They aren’t librarians, they aren’t trained as librarians and the amount of work that follows after a delivery like this is fairly formidable. But they have got stuck in and they are keen and eager and committed… and I love how excited they are to get all these books to their young readers as quickly as possible. We will keep you posted with updates!!!

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

→ 2 CommentsTags: Fabulous Friday Fun

Se7en + 1 Tips for Creating Nature NoteBooks With Kids…

May 20th, 2016 · 8 Comments

From time to time I post a snippet of our kids’ nature journals on instagram… and inevitably folk ask us to write a post on nature note booking with kids. Honestly… it is the easiest thing in the world and is a lovely way to create a sweet and lasting memento of their drawing through the ages and stages of their lives. I know that some folk think that nature journaling is essential to homeschooling, really it is not an exclusive club, all children (and their associated grownups) would benefit from having a nature journal with them on family outings.

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I think the biggest reason that folks don’t carry a nature notebook with them on their outings is that they think they need a lot of special equipment and they don’t think they can draw at all… both valid fears and hopefully this post will put your mind at rest. Firstly a pencil and a notebook is enough and secondly you don’t have to be an experienced artist to create in your own journal.


Se7en+1 Tips for Nature NoteBooking

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  1. Keep it Simple: Every time we go on an outing, whether it is an urban amble or a hike, they take their backpack which has a sweater, a water bottle and their notebook and pencil. If it is an all day event then their will be a sandwich and a citrus fruit, because citrus fruit comes naturally prepackaged. It is the notebook that we are on about in this post… In the past I would buy really good quality watercolour notebooks, nice ring bound covers and a crisp clean smell. Those are nice in theory, but not ideal for small children to be lugging around, where every single extra gram does count. So we switched to the simplest blank A5 notebooks I could find, moleskins or their closest approximation and they have lasted us just as well. And the pencil… needs to be somewhat darker than your average HB, everyone here has a 4B pencil especially for their nature notebooks.
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  3. Gear to Inspire: Sometimes when we head out, I know we are intending to look at something particularly nature orientated. It may be mushroom walk, or a fynbos walk… it might be a walk to see if our favourite plant is flowering, or to take a look at the mountainside after a fire. When I know we have a little time to linger then I will add a couple of things to our bag of nature note booking tricks… nothing complicated and nothing that can’t be easily replaced. So: envelopes for collecting a sand sample, or a leaf to look at later, a magnifying glass is an incredible tool when you are out in the wilds and a tape measure. A tape measure is a really simple little tool that will add hours of fun to your observations, firstly they are light, secondly there are millions of things to measure – from footprints to shadows, and everything else in-between. Trust me kids can measure everything.
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  5. Turn it into an Art Excursion: Most outings we just have a pencil and our notebooks… and when they return home they create further, later on in the week. But from time to time I will turn an ordinary looking walk into an arty excursion, just by adding some coloured pencils and watercolour crayons to the mix… a paintbrush and we are good to go. Don’t worry about water, there is water in their water bottles already.
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  7. The Things That We Draw: So we have addressed the materials, but what about the other question… what to draw? Like most groups of people, some of my kids love to draw and could draw all day… and others not so much. But there is always something for folk to pop into their nature journals… a list of animals or flowers spotted, a list of sounds they have heard, a poem or even things that come to mind when they draw a rough map of the outing. This is one thing that we can all do together, there are vast differences between students abilities to either draw or observe what they are drawing. For some it is all about drawing what they see, and for others it is all about creating a story… either way it is all good. It is nothing elaborate, and it is not for show… nobody else is going to look through your journal unless you want them to. Something to add to your pages is the date and location, to remind you of the event when you are looking back. They don’t have to be filled with just drawings either… you can add ticket stubs to events you went to, print photographs and add the odd pressed flower or gathered leaf.
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  9. Places to Go: When you say nature notebook folks tend to think they need to take a holiday on a lake or a road trip to the desert, or wade through rock pools at low tide… all fun things for sure, but you can also just sit on your front step and draw what you see, consider the herb planter on the windowsill. Also, a nature journal doesn’t have to be in the wild outback… you can take it with you to the natural history museum or the aquarium… we just make sure our journals are always in our bags so that they are good to go whenever we are. If you have your notebooks and inspiration hits then you can let the great outdoors inspire you and let your creativity roam. For us it has been so worth it to always have our journals with us.
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  11. Local Books: I mentioned that we often take our nature notebooks home and add more details later on. It is one thing to sit and observe something in the great outdoors and draw it… it is quite another to turn it into some sort of nature study. We often use our nature notebooks to inspire us later on in the week… to dig a little deeper. Make sure that you have some hand books available for inspiration and to add a few facts to the mix. I grew up on Usborne nature spotter books and I loved them, but we don’t live in the English countryside. You do need to have to have local books to support your nature journals. These books from Struik Nature have been published slow and steadily throughout our homeschooling journey and are perfect for the job that we need them for. A detailed picture, showing the colours and markings, a few very simple facts in English, and two or three other local languages. For some of the books there are associated apps, that just adds to the fun. We explored the Mammals app here.
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  13. Layers of Books: Beginner books are fine, but sometimes our young naturalists want to dig a little deeper… pocket field guides and an all purpose wildlife book are fantastic for the person who wants to know even more… I wouldn’t recommend lugging books around, though some people do… we usually just jot a note down in our nature journals, reminding ourselves about something that we wanted to look up. The Wildlife book in the picture actually has an app, that I keep on my phone, so if we are ever in desperate need to identify something right there and then, we can. Mostly we take a photograph and make a note in our journals and look things up at home later.
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    And the Se7en + 1th Tip:

  15. Time is Your Friend: This is my golden rule for nature journaling, there is no rush… take your time. Most kids can concentrate for about fifteen minutes before being distracted away… Fifteen minutes. Don’t envision hours of drawing in the fields under a shady tree and set up a little art station and then be disappointed when they glances at the set up and dashes off to look for tadpoles in the stream… that is what it is all about. Looking and learning and having fun while they do it. I have one or two artists that can sit for hours, but mostly mine draw a little play a lot, draw some more and so on. The only person who can linger for hours, while the children play, is myself. I am happy with that. Because I know drawing requires a lot of energy and attention, I always encourage my kids to take their time… I try and make it feel like we have all day, even if we haven’t. You can’t rush art and by saying, “take your time,” you are freeing them to linger a little longer. It need only extend your outing by about ten or fifteen minutes, but somehow by saying take your time it is giving the artists permission to look a little more carefully and pay attention to the details.


The Gallery

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Hopefully, you can see that nature journaling is as easy or as complicated as you make it out to be. We prefer to keep it really simple, that way I am much more likely to get it done, and get it done often. I love the sweet notebooks my kids have drawn over the years and you can look back to their early scribbles, and wander through all their illustrations and remembering when and where they were when they worked on a page… fun times.

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→ 8 CommentsTags: GiveAways and Swaps · Outdoors · Science · Se7en at School

Random Trivia Facts for Kids… A Mapstudio GiveAway…

May 19th, 2016 · 19 Comments

I thought I would surprise our readers with a mid week GiveAway… here you go, a really fun book of facts to be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Trivia and fact books are great for beginner readers to grab hold of and glean snippets of information from. One of my kids read nothing but fact books for years, before launching his reading career.

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Children’s Facts published by Mapstudio: This book is packed with se7enty odd pages of amazing trivia facts. A wide variety of amazing topics, each page has a new theme. It is packed with illustrations and has a really easy to read layout. Each page covers a specific theme and provides a heap of fascinating facts.

Themes like:

  1. Movies Stars
  2. Unusual Sports
  3. Nonverbal Languages
  4. Weird Dishes Around the World
  5. The Evolution of the Cellphone
  6. Unique Places to Visit Around the World
  7. Towns with the Strangest Names

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On each spread Malcolm the Meerkat reveals a “Did you know?” factoid… and there is a double page spread in the form of a board game that my kids love. Along the bottom of each page throughout the book there are a stream of trivia questions. The answers to the questions are at the back of the book… and make fantastic conversation starters.

Trivia Questions for you to think about:

  1. What is the name of the first full-length animated movie?
  2. Where does the term Pop Music come from?
  3. Where did tennis originate?
  4. What is another name for pufferfish?
  5. In which country was Pac-Man first released?
  6. How many years did it take to build the Statue of Liberty?
  7. In which ocean are the Maldives?


The GiveAway

We have not one, but three of these fun Fact Books to Give Away… all ready to mail anywhere in the world. This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on Friday 27 May, 2016. We will draw and publish the winners in the Fabulous Fun Post after that. I won’t respond to your comments as I do on our other posts because I don’t want to be included in our own giveaway.

Follow se7en_hoods’s board Se7en At School on Pinterest.

Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!

We would like to thank MapStudio who supplied us with the Children’s Fact Books to review and GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

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