Christmas takes a while to get rolling over here, our oldest kids have been away on camp, and every one is eagerly awaiting their return. Christmas planning and scheming is in full swing. Crafty days and baking days are planned… gift wrapping days, not to mention putting up the tree. All the Christmas books are out and our natural factual advent calendar is in full swing over on instagram.
For the past couple of years we have created an Natural Advent Calendar each year by adding a beautiful nature find from our collection of finds through out the year, and we post a picture each day on instagram. If you are on instagram then you can take a peak at #se7ensadvent This year so many folk asked us about our Advent calendar that I thought I would write a post about it. The rationale is that in a season of so much busyness to slow down a little and reflect on world around us. To cherish the little treasures that can’t be bought… the stone that brings back memories of a good day out, the feather that was found unexpectedly… the sea shell that was carefully selected from all the shells on the beach. This year we are filling an old window frame with our treasures… day by day the collection grows.
Se7en’s Natural Advent from 2015
We filled these drawers with natural treasures that we had found…
We have never had two weeks worth of Giveaways back to back before… it certainly has been fun blogging these and feels like a party every day. I really want to thank all our readers for entering our GiveAways. The more you enter, the better opportunities we get to bring you more wonderful GiveAways. This week we were giving away Three sets of Double Tickets to a Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert of your Choice, as well as two Airstream Hampers and a Suzelle DIYary.
And a mug full of colours waiting to be chosen. I think my little people are as excited to take folks names out of the mug as you are to read them:
An Airstorm Hamper from Just Fun Kidz: DebbieDec 10, 2016 at 5:59 am Oh dear!! You guys are too good at reviewing things – I’m hooked! And Kim MullerDec 13, 2016 at 4:26 pm My boys would go crazy over these!!!
Thanks again to all our readers who stopped by and left a comment and of course thank you to our fabulous sponsors: Hippo Communications with Kirstenbosch,Just Fun Kidz and Mapstudio. I have a couple more fantastic GiveAways that I will be posting next week… come back again and take a peak, I think you are going to love them.
We have had a lot of GiveAways over here lately and today is the last day to enter… I though I would pop up this reminder post, in case you missed any of our GiveAways… Click on the title above each image and leave a comment on the relevant post. Remember the more folk that enter the more sponsors love it, and the more wonderful Giveaways we can bring to you… enter away!!! We will announce all the winners tomorrow.
Summer holidays are in full swing over here… the shops are crazy busy and the beach are packed, but for those of you looking for an alternative there is always Kirstenbosch. Tons goes on at Kirstenbosch, but Capetonians always seem to be the last to know what’s going on here. So this post is for local friends and their summer visitors, who are looking to make the most of their visit to Kirstenbosch… over the holiday season.
To be honest there is so much natural beauty at Kirstenbosch, always wild life… incredible birds, bugs and of course… the botanical gardens, so just amazing plants to look at, not to mention miles of walkways and hidden paths… something for every family of explorer to enjoy.
se7en + 1 Brilliant Things to Do at Kirstenbosch over the Summer
Go on a Shady Walk: What can I say, summertime is hot hot hot, but there is always plenty of shade and pretty places to explore and play in the gardens of Kirstenbosch. When you can’t face the shops and you have been to the beach every day and you are looking for a place in the great outdoors… where familys can picnic and children can play happily for hours and grownups can read a book in a shady spot, then Kirstenbosch could well be your venue of choice.
Guided and Themed Walks: Take a guided walk, there is a list of walks and events on a board at the entrance. Guided walks are free once you are in the gardens, so pay your entrance and then find out when the next walk takes place. Our enjoyment of all things Kirstenbosch grew enormously when we started tagging along at guided walks. One thing that Kirstenbosch has is volunteer guides that are absolutley passionate about their topics. At a bird walk you are going to get a birder and a flower walk you are going to get a botanist… don’t be afraid if you have overly curious kids, turns out they are perfect for themed walks. Really, these guides are passionate and happy to answer dozens of questions that children were not afraid to ask and adults are often too shy to ask. Not only that, but they will take you to secret ponds and show you where to find the best trees for climbing… they know their topics and they are happy to share the magic with the younger generation. Here is a link to the free guided walk timetable.
The Boomslang: Follow the directions from the entrance to the Canopy Walkway, called the Boomslang, that stands high up the indigenous trees. the There are few things better than sitting right on top of a forest… most folk walk over the boomslang. Make use of the many benches along the boomslang and just sit and watch, you will spot birds, insects and butterflies that you would never normally see from the ground, looking up. It can be quite busy at times, but we have found that there are always gaps and if you just settle yourself in for some quiet time, maybe with a notebook and pencil for some nature drawing… you will see lots of incredible things that you can only see when you are at the top of a forest.
The Braille Trail: If you are looking for something a little wilder than garden paths, but that isn’t a hike to the top of Table Mountain, something that toddlers and grandparents can enjoy together, then head for the Braille Trail. It is a lovely walk in the wilds, and takes about half an hour of ambling… shade all the way, plenty to learn about and just good fun too.
Go on a Treasure Hunt: Head to the book store and grab one of Struik Nature’s Find 50 in Kirstenbosch, then head out on an adventure to find all the treasures hidden inside. This is a great activity to do with a group of friends, our kids have really enjoyed searching through the gardens for historical and cultural sites, as well as finding other features, like special trees and specific park benches… as well as the harder to spot little creatures and birds that you have to know exactly where to look to find. This is a great activity for a group visit… seriously is there anything better than a treasure hunt.
The Craft Market: One thing about Cape Town is that we have plenty of fabulous crafty markets… and Kirstenbosch has a long standing tradition of being one of the original, not to be missed craft markets… I have to recommend that if you do visit the market with young children that you get the early before the inevitable crowds arrive and then head for the gardens immediately afterwards to feast on any picnic ingredients that you can accumulate at the market. The market has lots to offer locals and visitors alike… even if it is just to wander through and admire lots of local artists and their wares. The market is on specific Sunday mornings and here is a list with the dates for any impending markets.
A Visit to Moyo Restaurant: The father person and I had a voucher for the Sunday morning breakfast buffet, just the two of us and it was lovely. We got their at opening time, and the atmosphere was peaceful and quiet, this is the city of late-risers after all. The food was brilliant… absolutely brilliant. And the service, full of confident smiles, was excellent. We had to dash off but not before tasting something from every corner of the buffet: which consisted of a yogurt bar, any number of hot breakfast delights… and freshly baked pastries, waffles and of course, Kirstenbosch’s signature scones. We would definitely take our kids there for a lazy Sunday breakfast in the gardens, sitting outdoors surrounded by sunbirds and fynbos.
Summer Sunset Concerts: And summertime is definitely the time to enjoy the Summer Sunset Concerts on Sunday evenings, there is something on the programme for everyone. We will be attending later on in the season and will be sure to report back on it… in the meantime if you haven’t entered our GiveAway for free tickets then click on this link and leave a comment!!!
If you are not familiar with SuzelleDIY, then let us explain that she is the South African icon of craftiness… she has a series of clever and crafty videos on youtube, like absolutely no other crafty videos you have ever seen. If you have ever wanted to know how to peel apples with a drill or create a Christmas tree from a step-ladder, or even a hair-do from a sponge… she has thought of it and she has the video for it. Her attitude is very much a can-do attitude and her byline is “Because anyone can.”
A couple of years back, before Suzelle was Suzelle, our gang had a hilarious interview with her, so hilarious that folk around us stopped to see what we were up to. She is a character of all characters (with the occasional expletive) and convinced that with a little encouragement we could all be making and doing all kinds of stuff. She has jumped on the bandwagon of journaling and brings us the most useful DIYary… packed with craftiness of the most fun variety… she will have your markers out in a flash as you page with her through her timeless diary. There are no dates, you put your own dates into it… so this diary can begin and end whenever you want it to.
Se7en + 1 Things to Love About the DIYary
Pretty paper on every page… Every page is numbered… so it doesn’t matter when you start…
Monthly Habit trackers… and lists for music, birthdays, books to read, places to go, recipes to try, movies to watch!!!
Lots of lekker tips… like how to make yogurt drops, bath bombs… and other magic.
Recipes like brownies in a cup, raspberry puffs… and a conversion chart.
Monthly planner… and then enough pages to do your own thing on for the rest of the month…
Cut out gift tags, and the easiest origami you have ever seen… and mini-bunting, a gift box, mini-envelopes… and wash tape… more shiny pages…
And stickers, because what is a diary without stickers!!!
We have a copy of a Suzelle’s DIYary to give away… to one of our lucky readers:
This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on the 13 December 2016. We will draw and publish the winners on the 14th of December. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone, worldwide: If you have already won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away.
We would like to thank MapStudio who supplied us with a copy of “Suzelle’s DIYary”, one to review and one to GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.
When Just Fun Kidz approached us to review the Air Storm Range for a GiveAway post, I knew that these would be toys that my kids simply couldn’t refuse. I know I don’t often post about toys or weapons for that matter but these are pure fun and my kids have absolutely loved them.
Not to mention, so has every single adult visitor that’s passed through our front door for the last ten days. For pretend play these are tops, though I confess a lot of folk, especially “ahem” the adults were not pretending at all… they were all out completely into these toys. Clearly these toys should come with a warning label on the boxes, “kids, beware… adults will take these away just to check out how they work.” The teens in our house couldn’t put these down, they really are great toys for all ages…
From the mother, who savours peace and quiet, I was a little bit weary of introducing toys that would clearly create noise and chaos… not to mention I am that mother that has decluttered all but the favourite, favourite toys and never ever buys toys anymore… well folks we have some new favourite toys.
I have to confess I would never buy a plastic toy with potential pieces that can get lost, because I am wary of extremely disappointed kids. Plastic toys can be flimsy and missing arrows would be disastrous. Well, these are definitely not flimsy… they have played hard, really hard and nothing has broken… and ten days in and lots and lots of shots fired later, we still have all the pieces. These are really extreme toys… tough, easy to use, hardworking and fun. My boys and girls loved them equally and they played with them inside and outside. In fact they are a great way to get kids outdoors… I am afraid an onscreen cross-bow-kind-of-game just can’t compete with playing with a real one… these toys will get your kids moving, for sure!!!
What’s in a Hamper?
We were sent two hampers to try and two to GiveAway… Each hamper consists of three toys…
Air Storm Sky Ripperz: These are mini rockets that you pull back with an elastic to launch and then they fly, they really really fly. They have a soft top, so while they fly fast and hard they don’t actually hit hard, but they sure do bounce, off walls and across rooms… The box claims they fly 75 m, and believe it or not… they do fly far… we tried ours across the parking lot and they made it. It does have a very cool whistle as it rushes across the sky.
Air Storm Zano Bow: This is a small bow, with a practice target on the back of the packaging. It comes with two suction arrows and they do stick to the fridge, the wall, well everything. They are great for indoor play… the arrows shoot accurately up to 10 m, and more importantly they haven’t broken any window or hurt anybody yet. They are easy to load, even for small hands… hook your arrows onto the elastic and you are good to go.
Air Storm Z-Curve Bow: This is the gasp toy for my kids… they all wanted to own one of these. It really does shoot forty meters, it has two types of arrows, those with a suctions to stick onto your target… ceiling, closet door, so many things; and the very popular whistle blowers, that make a lovely whistle as they blow.
This GiveAway is for our South African readers… A hamper for two of our lucky readers… delivered to your door. Sounds like a win to me!!!
This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of play on the 13 December 2016. We will draw and publish the winners on the 14th of December. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. This GiveAway is open to our readers with a South African delivery address. If you have already won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away.
We would like to thank Just Fun Kidz, who supplied us with the Hampers, two sets to review and two to GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.
I love learning about new and amazing things. Last week I enjoyed such a day a day of learning. Firstly I got to attend school for a morning, the first time in many many years and secondly, I got to see the Microsoft’s World Wide Skype-A-Thon in progress. This is innovative learning and pure fun all at the same time. Children from all over the world, from over fifty countries travelled 9 881 582 virtual miles, chatted together and played together… asking questions and learning about each other’s cultures, from their own classrooms.
I arrived just in time to see the children engaging in a conversation with Anthony Salcito, the vice-president of WorldWide Education at Microsoft… who performed a marathon, staying awake around the clock more than once, so that he could engage personally with each classroom as they moved from time zone to time zone.
First the children sang a drumming song for him, because music is the universal language… and then they played a guessing game. They showed him photographs and gave him clues and asked if he knew who or what the following South African things were: Rooibos tea, a Koeksister, Springbok, District Six, Trevor Noah and Biltong. He was surprisingly clued up about our country and the children had a fantastic time. Chatting to him as if he were right there in the classroom. They told him all about their Entrepreneurship Class and how they raise funds and contribute to local charities. This past year the children collected pet food, library books and money for a local orphanage. Then they asked Anthony Salcito what Microsoft does to support and uplift local communities. He replied that Microsoft really encourages their workforce to be involved in community projects and they match hour-for-hours spent in community work with cash contributions.
The children had quite a lot to say about their interview afterwards as well. They ranked it 9/10 as a way to learn about other cultures and 10/10 as a fun experience. Not only that, but children discovered that they had learnt a lot about their own culture in preparing their quiz for the event.
There was a lull in activity and I got to chat with some of the teachers about their interesting online learning. One of the teachers is a Microsoft Innovative Educator, with lots of expertise and training and full of ideas about how they use other microsoft tools for innovative teaching. The children are given real live projects, they have to collaborate and use thinking and reasoning on a number of levels and then present something to show learning, using technology. One class built their school to scale with Minecraft, using google maps and real live measurements. Another class was working on the Mars 1 project and were able to join their scientist in the Skype classroom and ask all the questions they needed to ask to proceed with their question. You can meet their scientist, Adriana here… It really is incredible how internet access has opened up the world to curious folk, no matter what their age is.
A new class came onto the scene and a dance session, to warm up their brains. This class got to learn about other cultures around the world, playing a game called: Mystery Skype. The idea is that teachers from around the world connect on Skype… and then the kids all ask each other questions… to and fro to figure out where they are in the world. It’s not as easy as you might think… the kids were asking, “Is it hot?” … and the questions very quickly changed to “Are you in the Northern Hemisphere?” or “Are you in Asia?” They went from eagerly waiting their turn to ask a question…
To trying to figure things out…
There was a scramble for computer power, as they recognised a flag on the class room wall…
The first class they played with hailed all the way from Finland…
It just so happened that the children in Finland were busy with their English lesson at the time, and with a little help from their teacher, both classes were able to communicate.
The next class was a lot more obscure to find, not to mention this school overcame a lot of difficulties to connect: their internet connection was poor, the electricity went out and the teacher continued the game with his phone and finally English was not their first language. The kids in this class went from mildly interested to dying to know where our local kids were… their teacher was an inspiration, he was fantastic at encouraging them on. And our local kids were desperate for them to figure it out…
They got as far as Africa, heavy hints were dropped… we are surrounded by sea, but not an island; we won the World Cup, but not for soccer; have you heard of Madiba? We play cricket… and when they finally got South Africa, there was joy on both sides!!!
So all in a days work: the children visited Ukraine, Pakistan, Finland and finally Beirut in Lebanon. They learned an enormous amount, they had to use a wide variety of resources, they had to think about good questions to ask… and they loved it. Honestly, I did too… it was great learning in a very fun online environment. My homeschool kids would love to play along with this too and I think we are going to learn more about it for next year.
Thank you so much to the very friendly staff and students at Micklefield School in Rondebosch, who hosted the Microsoft Skype-a-thon, and welcomed us in to share their exciting learning experience. Thank you also to Microsoft South Africa for the invitation to their annual Global Skype-a-thon. If you want to know more about the Skype-a-thon, then look for the hashtags #msftedu and #skypathon This was not a sponsored post, I was not paid to write it and opinions expressed were, as usual entirely my own.