30 January 2008

How often do you read to your children?

Since my last post, I've been thinking of how, in the past, I used to spend HOURS reading to my children. Since Shelley has got more active, and Joel started more formal school, those times happen less and less. It's very sad, and I miss it, as do the children. Yet there always seems to be something to do, something else that needs my attention, a phone call or whatever, that takes away our precious reading time.

But... I've decided what I am going to do. From now on we're going to have a set time each day for me to read to the children, after lunch. It's going to be a special time with Mom, no interruptions, no exception. Each child can choose their own short book and then I'll read something else too. I am feeling rather excited about this, as I have really missed reading time, and feel it is so important. I'll keep you posted.

How about you? How often do you read to your children?

The tooth mouse

The tooth mouse paid our house a visit again the other night. Joel lost his third wiggly "baby" tooth.

SO at bedtime, under the pillow went the little tooth, and voila, there in it's place in the morning were six coins. That dear old tooth mouse left Six South African One Rand coins, in exchange for a fairly well worn little tooth.

Why six rand? Well, because Joel is 6 years old. Last year, when his teeth fell out, Joel was five years old and he got R5, so the tooth mouse kindly considered inflation when he paid his first visit this year. (I do hope that the dear tooth mouse realizes how many milk teeth a child has.)

Emma eagerly awaits the time when she too can have a wiggly tooth.
Only, she insists that the Tooth Fairy is going to come and pop a coin under her pillow, not some common mouse!

A friend told us that in her
Xhosa culture, it is customary for the young child to throw the lost tooth over the house and wish for good luck whilst doing so.

One wonders how many different traditions there are around the world celebrating this milestone in a child's life.

So, who comes to visit your house when a milk tooth falls out?

28 January 2008

Books are fun

Okay, I have to admit that we, like many homeschool families, were running out of bookshelf space. We recently acquired a lovely HUGE bookshelf for our school room, which has helped. You see, we all LOVE books, from the oldest to the youngest. Books are constantly scattered around the house, and unfortunately, the shelves seldom stay neat.
But...the children are "reading" and not watching TV, and that has to be a good thing. We do watch selected video's inour home, but we actuallyhave never tuned in our TV set to receive South African TV aka SABC. No great loss.

Now, isn't a book so much more fun to
read aloud when YOU enjoy the story too? Here are some of my Favorite children's books:
  1. The Little House- VL Burton
  2. Caps for Sale- E. Slobodkina
  3. Little Bear- E. Minarik
  4. Where does the butterfly go when it rains? -M. Garelick
  5. Three ducks went wandering -R. Roy
  6. The Year at Maple Hill Farm -A and M. Provensen
  7. Treasury for Children -James Herriot
  8. The Saggy baggy elephant - K and B Jackson
  9. Petunia - R. Duvoisin
  10. The Sneetches, and other books by - Dr Seuss
  11. Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel- VL Burton
  12. Berenstain Bears - S and J Berenstain
  13. Guess how much I love you? -S. Mc Bratney
  14. Books by Shirley Hughes, especially Alfie and Annie Rose books, and Out and About
  15. Stellaluna -J.Cannon

22 January 2008

All things bright and beautiful

We've finished off the moon in Interlock, and here are Emma and Joel with their little rockets.

This dear little tortoise was wandering around our garden last Friday. We do not live in the country, so this is not a common occurence. I have checked in my field guide but I am unsure which type of tortoise he is. I've never seen one like this before.

I snapped this picture of Shelley and Emma absolutely engrossed
in examining a tiny beetle.

Shelley had her first swim in our kiddie pool today, she usually does not like it, but the temperature was 34 degrees so the water was lukewarm!
The last picture is of my beautiful niece, Amy, now six months old.

18 January 2008

Our house

Left, view from the street, and right, looking back onto the house whilst standing in the garden

I recently realised that many of my dear family and friends have never seen our little home, now that it is completed. So here is the guided tour of the exterior, which is all you're going to get till I win a session with a professional organiser ;-)

Some stepping stones lead from the driveway to the front door. The stoep (aka verandah) is under the deck, and is lovely and shady. We tiled it with some rustic handmade tiles, in earthy colours.
We have had the odd beautiful evening braai (barbecue) out on the deck, and watched the stars. We hope to use the deck more in the future, I find it a bit dangerous still with young children.

Standing on our very unpopular driveway, and a view of the garden.

Due to the nature of or property, we have a very steep driveway, leading to a large level area where the house and most the garden is. At the little railing which you see at the end of the lawn, there is another steep drop, and then a smaller level section of garden which we have not developed, aside from a veggie patch. The Wendy house is also down there.

80 % of the garden is indigenous, and then the lovely view of our little town and the hills.

What visitors comment on
most is our view firstly, and then on the garden. The garden is not a flower filled English paradise, it's a South African garden filled with plants that occur here naturally. There is always something in bloom, and love the different seasonal associations I now have from my garden. For example I am looking forward to my ribbon bush flowering in April.

Honestly, our home still needs tons of work but lately I been thinking about how blessed we are to have this home and garden.

13 January 2008

Family likeness

I took this picture of Shelley feeding herself, on Saturday, and when I viewed it I was immediately reminded of a cheeky photo of myself as a baby. I dug it out my old albums, and here it is. I am amazed at the resemblence. Not too sure which of us looks the most cheeky, but I think Shelley wins!
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The heat is on!

We finished up our Weaver study of the seasons this week. We had a fun laugh the day that we did Winter- there we were creating snowmen and snow for our Winter scene, and outside the temperature was 39 degrees celsius (I think that is above 100 degrees Farenheit)
After discussing Winter the children went outside and ran through the sprinkler to cool down. Suddenly some big clouds came up, and covered the sun, and they were able to feel how when the sun is blocked, it is so much cooler. We were able to actually see the sun rays sticking out from behind the clouds, without hurting our eyes. Earlier they had both asked me why people always draw the sun with "those lines" and now they saw first hand why.

Next we're heading for the moon...as we continue to learn about the the wonderful solar system that God created.
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10 January 2008

The Seasons in our School

I took this picture this week. I told the family it was time for school and was amazed to find them ALL upstairs waiting for me even before I was ready. Emma and Shelley were "reading" books. It is great to see Joel and Emma are so keen to learn. Interlock keeps them interested and involved. Shelley has given us real fun as she has learnt to sit at the little table on a chair. She is so involved but is SO little. Today the children were acting like bears hibernating in a cave, and crawled under the couch, which I must tell you is a very small space. Shelley followed them, growling all the way...under the couch...with much bumping of her head and tears!

This is the Summer collage that the children made this week, for our season study. Joel was a
bit annoyed as Emma added some creative strokes on the picture. Part of learning to work in a group.
I try to let the children do as much for themselves as they want to/can.

I have been really blessed by James' (alias Dad) contribution to Weaver, in the family devotions.
I like to call the father devotions the "missing link" in homeschool. It is so great that Dad knows what
we are doing, asks about our day, and tells his own little story about the topic. This week James
very aptly told us about how life too has many different times and seasons, as Ecclesiates tells us.
I think it is good for children to realise that life is NOT all rosy and fun, it can be tough, but that
God has an ultimate plan in it all.
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09 January 2008

School starts again!

We started our new school year earlier than the government schools here. The first day was a special one for Joel, as it was his first day in "Grade 1". I took a pic of him at his desk. The day went well, and it has been smoother than I expected. There are murmurs about the length of the school day however. I thought 8:30 to 12 with breaks was fair.
Joel on his first day of Grade one

We have been studying the sun and day and night in Weaver Interlock, and now we are on seasons. Today we did Summer and made a lovely wall collage. We will add to it each day over the next while, and so I'll take a pic when we're done. We had collected sea sand and shells at the beach which we added to our collage.

I have done a bit of planning ahead for the year and am finding that it certainly helps. I've also designed a form, to ensure that I am keeping up with the SA school curricula requirements which has made that bit much easier. I plot each day out, recording our Weaver Interlock, Phonics, reading and Math, and the SA subjects like "life orientation" on the form. I have also been summarizing all my records and saved them on my pc, using Homeschool Tracker, which is great. Looking forward to a great year.

I snapped this sweet picture of the girls at their little table

Journal of December Holidays

We returned in early January from a lovely almost two week holiday at the beach. We had a restful time. We went to my parents cottage, at Fish River mouth, and unfortunately the river came down twice whilst we were there, so the beach was strew with reeds, and branches of acacia and their fierce thorns. The sea was extremely muddy and only safe to swim in on two days, when we enjoyed it. The children actually had their first seaside swims. Shelley did not enjoy the beach! She has a thing about sand on her feet and so she sat on my lap all the time.

Here she is enjoying Joels' Australia cap which he received from our family in Aus.

Joel and Emma-lee had some time on the beach each day to dig in the sand and they had great fun sliding down the dunes.

We took the children to the rock pools one afternoon and spent a lovely afternoon catching fish and exploring. Two of my cousins joined us, with their respective children, and in all there were 5 little people aged 8 and under splashing about. It was a special time I'll always remember.