Monday, 29 April 2013

Bird crafts (Attentiveness)

As part of the Attentiveness unit in Konos, we did a little intro to learning about birds by doing some crafts.

The first part of our intro to birds Matthew took on the task to do some beautiful 3D paper crafts. These crafts are suitable for someone who might have a little bit of experience doing paper crafts as there is small cut and fold pieces. It could be quite frustrating for smaller children.

You can download the templates free from the Canon Creative Park site for the Falcon and for the Kingfisher. There are a number of other birds and loads of other fun paper crafts on their site.

Our second part of our intro to birds we painted some birdies in a cage. I found the picture in a local magazine called Craftwise

Mom's version

Makayla's version

Matthew's version

We painted them on canvas, using various acrylic paints. What I like about using acrylics for children that you don't have to wait hours for it to dry, just simply use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process.
In my version of the bird painting, I used paper for the leaves that I stuck to the canvas.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Fire Department visit

Yesterday we had to opportunity to visit the Fire Department here in Pinetown (Durban). 

The Commissioner did a well presented information session on how the Fire Department operates and what type of vehicles they have.

Here he demonstrated what their fire uniform look like.

Very interesting point that I guess many people did not know is, the tank on their back is not oxygen. As oxygen and fire is dangerous. The tank is filled with over 200 bar air and only lasts up to 35 minutes. This all depends on how fit the firefighter is, how warm it is and other factors.

Here he tells us a little more of the 'jaws of life' and the scissor.

Here you can see what the scissor looks like. This machine works on hydraulics and can cut through metal just like we cut through paper. On the floor you see is the jaws of life. It is there to help cut the car apart in the event of an accident. This machine can lift up to 22tons.

Here you can see a video clip of the Jaws of life fire training.

Some very important facts to know:
1. Call the Fire Department.
2. Get out of the burning building.
3. If there is loads of smoke in the house, go down to your knees and crawl. The section underneath the smoke is clear, the section above the smoke is poisonous, you do not want to walk upright.
4. If your clothing is on fire, do not rip it off you! Cotton fabrics pushes fire away, synthetic fibers draws it in, you could rip your skin off.
5. If you are on fire, do not run, the oxygen and wind will feed the fire more. Cover you face, go down to ground and roll until you extinguish the fire. 
6. NEVER throw water on a burning oil pan, it can explode.

The kids got to ride in the fire truck (yes and mom too)

After all the demonstrations and important facts, it was fun time for the kids. They started up the machine to make some foam for the kids to play in. This foam is just normal bubble bath, but the real foam they use in fire fighting is a special protein based chemical, that apparently smells really horrible.

After everything was done a final picture of our group.

It is extremely important that we teach our kids what to do in any emergency situation. Also we need to respect what these people do for us. Just think they put their life's on the line every single day, just so we can be safe. May God keep them safe every single day!

Friday, 19 April 2013

Balloon rocket

Matthew wanted to make and test out the balloon rocket, basically he likes anything that can 'fly'.

What you need:
2 chairs
sticky tape

What to do:
Place the string inside the straw then tie the string to two chairs. Blow up the balloon and attache it to the straw using sticky tape, don't let it deflate. When ready, let go of the balloon.

What is happening here?
When the balloon deflates, it pushes air out from the neck. The air pushes the balloon in the opposite direction. 

The science rule: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Attentiveness - Part 2

Psalm 139:14
New International Version (NIV)

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

Isn't it just amazing how wonderful God has made us? This week we learned about our amazing skin. 

Finger prints

There are no two people in the world that is similar. Just as our DNA are different, so is our finger prints. Finger prints give you an identity. Police use finger print records to determine who a suspect is. Read more about fingerprints HERE.

We did this fun activity by taking the kids finger prints.

 How did we do this?
1. Take a normal graphite pencil and rub it on a piece of paper. 
2. Place your child's finger on top of the pencil rubbing marks.
3. Use a piece of clear tape and place it over the finger, press on it and pull it off.
4. Now put the tape on the paper. Neat hey!

Extra fun: Thumbprint characters

We used the book Great Thumbrpint Drawing Book by Ed Emberley's that we found at the library. There are several new additions to this book.

You can also check out this video clip.


The amazing fact about skin besides it being your biggest organ.It also weigh about 15% of your body weight.Another amazing facts:You skin basically works as a build in air-conditioner for your body. When you are hot, you sweat, then your sweat evaporates and cools your body down. 

Skin anatomy. 

source: Wikipedia

Here is some amazing videos about your skin.

Anatomy of skin

Human skin

Watch this fun video of Hi-5 about the 5 senses. My kids just loved it :)

It is important that we don't just teach our kids about the skin, what it looks like etc. It is also important to teach them how to take care of their skin. Sun protection and much more.

Even though we are not done with our senses unit, we decided to move on to bird study next. Will post on that in due time.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Lets draw jungle animals - monkey

My children love arts and crafts. Even though we use various resources for our reference materials, their favorites to use is books that shows them step by step how to draw something.

Our beginner book we are using here is a Dutch book I found at a craft market. It is called Groot Tekenboek voor beginners deel een by Philippe Legendre. As we are Afrikaans it is extremely easy to be able to understand the book, but one don't even need any guide as the pictures speak for themselves.

Here you can see how to draw a monkey.

They drew this using oil pastels on sugar paper.

 It is amazing to see how children give their own flavor to pictures and drawings. This just once again shows us how different and unique every personality and person is.

If you are using the reference above for your child, be kind and pop a link in the comment box to where we can see your child's version of the monkey.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Planning our weekly program

As homeschool moms we all have our way of doing things. Some have elaborate planning pages, files, excel sheets etc. Others simply pick up the parent/teacher guide and follow what you need to do next. And then there are those who just go as the day takes them. 

This is what we normally do:

We do two language programs, one for English and one for Afrikaans (our home language). 

Afrikaans: For our home language program which came in the form of worksheets and we have license to copy, so I would copy the unit that we are going to work on for the next week or two. This will mean that both my kids have the necessary worksheets to work on. We are doing main focus on spelling and learning grammar rules. For those who are curious, we use the Clever werkkaarte by Macmillan. For anyone wanting to do this, you have to be able to speak and read in Afrikaans to teach your kids the correct pronunciation of the words. My comment about these Clever worksheets: There is aprox 38 worksheets per unit and there are 12 unit/ sets. I initially was very sceptical due to the price mostly. We eventually got them and we just love them. My kids spelling improved drastically and even their reading picked up wonderfully.

English: We learn English as a first language and not a second language. We started very late with our English program, only seriously started this year, but the previous years we did do other work here and there. We are doing Adventures in Phonics by Christian Liberty press and are busy with the Level A book. We will be starting within the next few weeks with the readers that you have to buy with the first level.  My comment about AIP.  Love, love, love. I really like how every letter is introduced, beginning sounds, where it is in the middle. There is loads of review of the words, pictures of the words, fill in the missing sound etc. We also use a little book where they wright new words down. There is a flashcard set that you have to purchase additionally for level A. I have not really used that, I just write the words on a whiteboard and they say and act out what the word is. They love doing this. I am totally amazed how fast they pick up the words. You can preview this book HERE in google books.

Mathematics: We always start our day with Mathematics. Our reason for this is, the brain is still very awake and fresh and they can focus better. We use to do a South African program called Prac Math (in our home language). It is really a great program. But, yes I have a but. There is no good foundation and review per method. This means that within a month or so, they totally forget what they learned. So after much thought and research we moved over to the American program Math U See.  Every day we will just pick up where we left off the previous day. We are currently at Beta level. Even though my kids have done almost everything in the Beta series, they needed to learn the English terms and get to know how the program is presented. My comment about MUS: Initially I was very scared to use it as the program is in English. Wow, how surprised was I. My kids picked everything up so quickly and they absolutely love the method and working with the blocks. There is nothing negative I can say about MUS at this stage. The kids love it and I love it. I just wished we started using it a long time ago.

History, Geography, Science etc: We use Konos. I read through the character trait we are busy with and then select the activities we want to do for the week. I get the necessary reference books from the library. Our local library does not have any of the books they recommend, but I just get whatever else I can find on the subjects. I also do an internet search. I find pictures, videos and anything that will be helpful for us to cover that topic. Most important we use the Bible as our pillar. My comment about Konos: When we first started using it, I was very overwhelmed and confused. But after asking for some guidance I became calm. Now we tackle it one thing at a time. One should not look at the entire Volume (file) as a whole, but just look at the character you are working on now. Konos is fun and very hands-on. You can view my page Konos.

Art: As I am a very artistic person, we do crafts and arts whenever we feel like it. I use anything from ideas that pop up. Reference books, the internet and then the best resource ever, Pinterest.

Most of the days we do everything. We do not have set times that we work, but we normally do try and start by 8 or 9 in the morning and continue until we are done (with breaks in between). Art is the only thing we do not really do everyday, but in a sense we do, as everything creative is art :)

So no matter what methods you use enjoy it. There is no one size fits all. We all have our own ideas of what we want to do and what we want to accomplish.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Attentiveness - Part 1

Last week we started with the Attentiveness unit.

The definition of Attentiveness: is to listen closely and watch carefully. With that being said the objective of it is to pay close attention and to concentrate.

We can look at Samuel, he heard someone calling him at night and thought it was Eli, but after several times Eli realized that it was God who was calling for Samuel and for Samuel just to listen closely to what God wants to tell him. (You can read about this in 1 Samuel 3: 1 - 14) God wants us to be aware of Him and always be alert and pay attention when he calls for us and wants us to listen very carefully what he wants from us.

The key to being attentiveness one needs to be able to hear and see, you need to communicate.

Sign language

Not everyone is able to communicate the way we do, deaf people communicate by using sign language. We learned how to sign the alphabet. 

A deaf child will be taught to sign whole words by showing them objects such as a ball and then showing them the sign for ball, that way they learn all types of things. Body language and facial expressions are also used as part of them learning and communication with whole word signing. 

Sign language is not only used in people, but dog trainers also use it to give commands to dogs and it has even been taught to chimpanzees and a gorilla names Koko. Koko could sign more than 1000 words.

A few of our sound experiments

Seeing sound

I forgot to take a picture but see the one below as an indication of what we did.

What you need:
a bowl; plastic; rubberband and tape; a few grains of rice; a pot and wooden spoon

Picture source: Sound - tune into sound and see the way it works by Steve Parker

What you need to do:
Just as the picture above, cover the bowl with plastic, secure it with tape and a rubber band on the bowl. Place a few grains of rice on top. Take the other pot hold it close to the bowl and bang it as hard as you can with a wooden spoon.

What happens:
The bashing of the spoon against the pot produces sound waves and this cause the plastic to vibrate and the grains to jump up and down.

This experiment demonstrates exactly how your eardrum also works. Sound that reaches the eardrum which vibrates and enables you to hear sounds around you.

Shooting with sound

What you need:
A toilet-roll; plastic; rubber band; Piece of card stock; cut out to cover the front part; A piece of paper

What you need to do:
Make a small hole in the centre of the card stock. With sticky tape secure the round piece of card stock to the toiletroll. At the other end secure the plastic with the rubber band.
Take the piece of paper and stick it to the table, with the long side bended upwards as in the picture.
Hit the plastic with your finger, make sure it is close to the paper. 

What happens:
The sound waves are concentrated and moves down the tube and escapes through the hole. The waves hit the paper and pushes it back. 

Optional: Instead of using a piece of paper you can use a burning candle. The sound waves are strong enough to blow out the candle.

Hearing sound

What you need:
A thin plastic tube, a funnel and sticky tape

What you need to do:
Make a steoschope
Put the funnel inside the tube and secure it with sticky tape. Make sure there is no air escaping so make a proper seal where the tube meets the funnel. We initially did this with the tube as you see in the picture but then later used a longer and thinner tube, that works best!

What happens:
When you place the funnel side on your friends chest, you can hear the heart beat very clearly, just like the doctors listen to your heart. The sound waves from your heart beat gathers in the funnel and travel down the tube towards your ear.

What you need:
A large sheet of paper or card stock and sticky tape.

What you need to do:
Roll the card stock/paper into a cone shape and secure with sticky tape.

What happens:
The cone shape collects all the sounds before it is able to spread out and amplifies the sound forward when you speak with it. When you listen with it, the sounds are collect in the open end and move towards your ear.


Saturday, 6 April 2013

Saturday morning cupcakes

Makayla wanted to make cupcakes today. So we jumped in and made delicious cupcakes.

Here is the recipe for the best cupcakes ever (yes really the best!)

Ingredients: (Makes 12 regular size cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes)
125g unsalted butter (I just use margarine)
125g caster sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
125g self-raising flower, sifted
2tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla extract (essence)

1. In a bowl mix the butter and caster sugar until fluffy.
2. Add the eggs and sifted flour.
3. Add the milk and vanilla extract and beat some more.
4. Spoon into cupcake cases.

In the oven at 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for 15 minutes.

Let it cool and then decorate.


And enjoy!

If you kids are still young or in our case Makayla is very petite, don't let them operate the oven :)

*The source for the recipe is Baked & Delicious issue number 1 by Eaglemoss Publications every fortnight.

Friday, 5 April 2013

New Season

As we move into a new season of our homeschooling journey, I though it but be suitable to also start a new blog.

As Philippians 3:13-14 says: "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

After several years of homeschooling, I have always find myself in a bit too formal situation. I was constantly seeking, seeking the right thing, the one thing, the best. Have you ever felt like that? Always worrying, am I doing the right thing, am I doing enough? I am sure we all go through those situations.
However about 2 weeks ago, everything became clear to me. I was not looking for something good, I was looking for Someone. God was there all along and for such a long time I made books and knowledge my leader that I forgot to focus and trust only in God.

After my wake-up, I totally shifted our way of working. We are now more relaxed and we follow not a learning plan, but the plan of God and what he will have in store for us. I put all my faith in God as He will lead us on the path where he wants to take us.

May God also lead you on the path He wants you to take and not the one you want to take.


Why I homeschool

Before I initially started homeschooling my kids, I had a well paid full time career, the recession kicked in and I was retrenched from my work.  Unable to find employment, I decided to use my time being all I can be and be the best possible mom.  I researched homeschooling for quite some time.  My children went to a normal public school.  The teacher complained allot about my son for not concentration, not listening to orders, and not sitting still.  Not only this, he was bullied.

My husband and I discussed the home school option and I prayed to God for guidance.  My answer came in a scripture.  We then officially started homeschooling the last week in February 2010.

It was the best decision we ever made.  I can see where they lack and where they are exceeding expectations.  They enjoy school work and are always eager to learn more.

People ask me today if I will ever go back to work, simple answer NO!  I made a commitment to my children to see them through their education but also ensure they have a very close relationship with God.

We have freedom to work when ever we need to and I love being with them and they with me.  We are truly blessed.