Our Week in 10 Pictures – 24 Oct 2011

Working on our farm animal lapbooks (as inspired by Linnie from Back to Ancient Ways)

Little horses favourite toys with the girls!

Mat Man!

Feeding the horses!

Date night

Fun at Vergelegen

Tenting in the garden!

Tent good to go – now for the real thing.


and butterflies in the bathroom.

“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91 v 11


TEN Pre-Maths THINGS to do with Littlies

Once a day we do a pre-maths activity with our little ones to help them feel part of things and to keep them busy while the older ones work on maths. When the older ones finish then they can also do one of these fun activities. We have a great dining room table (its an eight seater rectangle, so it works well to have us all sit around the big table to do our activities, each child has their own contained space and the little ones feel part of things at the big desk too.

Of course, we don’t call it pre-maths. They are way too young for real school or anything but the name just helps me to categorise activities in my mind and do some each day.

Pre-maths activities our 2 and 5 year olds love to do.

1. Playing with beans in jars. They love to pour, sort, count out, feel, toss and PICK UP – not! these beans. I bought the largest beans I could find – much easier to clean up afterwards!

2. Marbles and a marble tower – our 5 year old loves rolling marbles into box with numbers over little garage-type gaps to get the score. The littlies love to play with the marbles and see them run down the marble tower. You can easily make one using toilet roll tubes and tissue boxes!

3. Playing with uncooked pasta – all you need are a couple of different containers to put the pasta in – and a plastic paddle pool works really well indoors to contain the mess. Sometimes we also fill a clear plastic bottle with pasta or large beans and get all the children to guess how many pieces it contains – the closest one wins a little something.

4. Popcorn and cups for pouring, counting, etc. as in no 1 and 3

5. Money tins – playing with the money, putting through the slot (or through slots in the top of egg boxes) sorting coins into a container with different compartments or stacking them into piles

6. Some great sonlight maths manipulatives like pattern blocks – making piles, sorting, making pictures, etc.

7. Pouring – put out a variety of cups, jugs and a big bowl of water and an empty one and let them pour away! Have fun counting how many cups it takes to fill the smaller bowl from the larger one using different cups.

8. We love to all pile into the car and go for a “counting drive”. We count things like cats, dogs, horses, cows, kudu, wildebeest (we live near a small game reserve) and also things like yellow cars, blue trucks, etc. We listen to counting songs, count while we wash hands, measure flour for the bread dough, whenever we can.

9. Magnetic fridge numbers – these are big colourful numbers that stick on our fridge. The little ones love sticking them on, taking them off, sorting them into piles, sticking them onto a baking tray, and putting them all back again.

10. And as a rare treat, because I don’t want the children sitting in front of the computer (we don’t have a TV) – they watch the Mathtacular DVD and love it! Its fabulous – created by the Sonlight Holtzman brothers – 1.5 hours of counting elephants, shapes songs, marble adventures, lots of fun and they learn so quickly! So much better than children’s movies.

Coming next in the Homeschool Series: Homeschool Maths for Early Preparatory School

“Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29 v 13

Of Eternal Value – TEN THINGS About Why We Homeschool

Eternal value lies in character and not in education or specific skills. Our love for people – having God’s heart for the world is of eternal value – and so we see teaching our children from God’s Word and helping them to develop Godly character as the most important parts of our homeschool.

We start and end each day with Bible time with Dad – we all love it! God’s word is opening up for us in amazing ways – and the children always want to know more. This is such a blessing for me as I always struggled to read the Bible in the past. Just this morning we found our boys playing “Bible time” with their soft toys. They’d set out  all their fluffy bears and dogs on the bed and put open Bibles in front of them 🙂

We homeschool because:

1. We want to follow the Biblical mandate of discipling our children. (it may be possible to do this while sending children to school, but its a lot harder, if for no other reason than you are with your children a whole lot less).  We want our children to know and love God’s Word, to know and love God for who He is and to know His heart for the world. We believe our children are best taught from the Bible, with other books / curriculum fitting in around that. Rather than taking a secular curriculum and adding some “Bible stories” to it, we want our children to learn what the real Bible says about God, man, wisdom, sin, consequences, blessings, etc.

2. We want our children to love learning and to have a desire for learning. We want them to know that they can always find out what they’d like to know and how to go about it. We have a vision of a large family of animated engaged children sitting around the table all participating in lively, rich and deep discussions about life, God’s way, our world and its history, our purpose – all that we are learning together. Lounge time provides the springboard for these things and gives us some wonderful topics to talk about!

3. We want our children to understand God’s mandate to subdue the earth and rule over it, having dominion and replenishing it. For this reason we study sciences and geography and we learn about the earth. We do this understanding that we are to worship the creator and not the creation. We are to be good stewards of God’s creation while putting people first.

4. We want our children to understand God’s plan for people (through reading the Bible and studying history). Genesis is the best place to start in the study of history – everything else follows. We don’t study history just to learn the gory details of life throughout the ages, but we study it with the purpose of understanding God’s plan with mankind and workings through the ages. This purpose greatly impacts our choice of History material – children’s history books are often filled with cartoonish watered-down version of historical events cheapening them, making them seem less real  and numbing our children to the seriousness of disobeying God.

5. We want our children to be mentored by  great men and women and to be able to relate to people of all ages. We do not want them to be “discipled” by many children of their own age as in the classroom. The thing about the age segregated classroom is that you learn most things from your peers who know about as much as you do. Children are being discipled by their peers and their peers’ influences: parents, TV, games, movies, etc. and not very much by their own parents!

6. As parents we are responsible for our children’s education, and we know our own children better than any one else does. As homeschoolers we can determine the appropriate pace and level for each child’s schoolwork. If we need help from trained professionals, that is easy to find.

7. We want our children to know that they are part of something big – a great purpose from God that we have as a family and that they as individuals can carry into their lives.

8. We want our family to put relationships first – relationship with God, with each other and reaching out to others with the love of Christ and a hand of blessing. We want to always have time to be a blessing, praying for others and serving them. We want our children to be best friends and to enjoy being together, to love doing things together as a family

9. We want to help our children learn the discipline of hard work as well as the joy of life and learning about the world God gave us.

10. We love it!!!

This vision excites us so much but we also fall very far short of it – yet when we look back we see how God is at work and has already changed us so much. We know that He will do it if we trust him!

“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Psalm 37 v 4-6 KJV

Our Homeschool 2011 part 2 – English Language

Our four are still very small and we are at the beginning of our homeschool journey. These are our current curriculum choices – the ones we have loved this past 3 years and ones that are really working for us right now.

This year we are using Rod and Staff for English language studies for our 5 and 7 years olds – grades 1 and 2 respectively. This is an unusual curriculum so I thought I’d expound on it a little – it is less well known than other curricula.

GRADE 1 Rod and Staff

The Rod and Staff Language for Grade 1

  • Phonics workbook – great fun and easy to use
  • Reader and workbook
  • Book of worksheets to go with each lesson – lots of fun coloring, cutting and pasting

For each lesson, the child reads the story in the reader and then does the workbook pages relating to the story. It starts with the creation story in great detail-  there is also a worksheet page along a similar theme.

  • Phonics cards that are grouped into different categories
  • Vocabulary cards that match what is being learnt in the reader.

Grade 1 English Language in our week:

  1. Monday – phonics workbook and phonics flashcards
  2. Tuesday – read aloud from the reader and reader workbook double page
  3. Wednesday –  worksheet page relating to the lesson and vocabulary flashcards – fun making sentences from different word combinations
  4. Thursday – another phonics double page
  5. Friday – another reader lesson, workbook and relevant worksheet

Rod and Staff Language for Grade 2

  • Phonics workbook
  • Reader and workbook
  • Then there is a LEARNING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE book called Preparing to Build which teaches punctuation, grammar, etc. I really love the old fashioned feel of this book and this curriculum – and its English is very sound. (if you like old-fashioned books you will love this. It is beautifully written and full of rich language.) This book is not consumable and is hard cover – built to last!

The phonics pages are very quick and easy to do and the reader has chapter stories with questions to answer about them – also taken from the Genesis.

Stories about God’s People (if you click on this link to their site you can peep inside the books online).

The books are lovely with bible quotes from the KJV in them, the illustrations are very family friendly and the subject matter very solid.

My only criticism is that now and then the child is asked to write the end SOUND of a word instead of the end letter e.g. PAGE (they are supposed to write j) – not sure if I agree with doing that or if it teaches the child the incorrect spelling. It hasn’t been a problem as they usually know the correct spelling already so I have just told them to write what they know is correct.)

Grade 2 English Language in our week:

  1. Monday – Phonics and Reader Workbook
  2. Tuesday – LEARNING THE ENGLISH language
  3. Wednesday –  Phonics and Reader Workbook
  4. Thursday – LEARNING THE ENGLISH language
  5. Friday – Review / Test

There are teachers guides to go with phonics, readers and English language books – all beautifully bound. The price of the R&S materials is very reasonable and much less than we paid for previous curriculum materials. Highly recommended!

“And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” 1 Thessalonians 4 v 11

Our Week in 10 Pictures – 10 Oct 2011

On the old train at Intaka Iisland, Canal Walk

Climbing on the outside is even more fun.

Gorgeous in our summer hats!


Over the bridge.

A young man driving our boat!

All of us after our boat trip.

Camping in the garden.

Eating dinner outside – a Monday evening tradition.

I must tell you about the most wonderful, delicious, incredible vegetable ever created – the artichoke! I could eat just these every day – and the other girls in the family love them too – though not quite as much as Mom!

“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Proverbs 3 v 7

Organizing 12 – Those Kitchen Cupboards Again

Its been a rather busy few weeks – not much organizing getting done – but I have the vision! I have been planning this one in my head for a few weeks so it was quick and easy when I did it! Much to be said for planning ahead! This cupboard was rather chaotic – especially the mats, aprons, serviettes and tablecloths shelf (rather a lot for one shelf but there just wasn’t other free space!)

So, we went from this.. (above)

to this!

After emptying the cupboard out onto every available space, I moved the plastics down from a high shelf and added the plastic cups and stuff – 2 shelves into 1 – good start. I filled a give-away box along the way too. We hung up aprons on plastic hooks on the outside of the cupboard, then I put the mats on the middle shelf, sorted the tablecloths into cloths for inside use and outside use – and moved the candles from under the sink to here.

Then I moved the flour and nuts to this top shelf and put all the serviettes in the middle where the plastics used to be. Finally I can reach the serviettes (napkins 🙂

Now there is space under the sink for my son’s bird seed!

And there is an empty shelf which was full of ?? cups?? Not sure – but now I can put the floating games and puzzles in there – yay!

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart.” Psalm 40 v 8

My Organizing Journey:

Part 1 – Organizing!

Part 2 – Recipes & Cluttered Surfaces

Part 3 – First Set of Drawers

Part 4 – Crafts and Art Folders

Part 5 – The Fireplace

Part 6 – Puzzles and Activity Boxes

Part 7 – Recipes into the File

Part 8 – Hubby’s Desk Drawers

Part 9 – The Whole Office!

Part 10 – Bedroom Closets and More!

Part 11 – A Fridge for Getting Healthy

Part 12 – Those Kitchen Cupboards Again

Our Homeschool 2011 Part 1 – Handwriting

Our four are still very small and we are at the beginning of our homeschool journey. These are our current curriculum choices – the ones we have loved this past 3 years and ones that are really working for us right now.

For handwriting, we love Handwriting without Tears which we found through Sonlight. Thanks Sonlight! Shipping is cheaper if you order through Sonlight but they don’t stock all of the available products.

HWT is a fantastic curriculum because it is much more than sheets of handwriting to copy.

We started using this when our oldest was 3 years old (she’s now 7) and now we even have fun with it with our 2 year olds.

The tools for teaching handwriting are as follows:

  1. A teachers handbook and CD with songs about handwriting,

e.g. Where do you start your letters? (at the top)

and songs that help you to use your arms and fingers to make shapes

e.g. I love it when it rains (use fingers to make rain falling)

Then there is a box of wooden shapes called lines and curves which you use for all kinds of wonderful things with and without music:

We gather the little ones, grab the lines and curves, put on the CD and then make a circle, make a smiley face, a sad face, an umbrella, a boat, hold it straight, hold it up, hold it behind your back. etc (the children are learning much more than handwriting as you go!)

MAT MAN – a wonderful invention where you use lines and curves and the letters mat to make a mat man – there’s even a song for that – the children love to do this! This even helps them with learning to draw a person!

and most importantly – you use these to shape your capital letters on the letters mat.

There is a stamp screen with lines and curves to make your capital letters on. the child can stamp the letter shapes with the lines and curves and then draw the letter shapes using the stamp screen pen within the same size rectangle as the letters mat

Then there is a small chalk board – like a slate – the same size as the letters mat and stamp screen. the child draws a capital letter with a piece of chalk, then takes a tiny damp square sponge which is held between the fingers like a pencil (strengthening the fingers again) and “draws” over the chalk with the wet sponge erasing the drawing, then they take a piece of tissue and go over it a third time to dry it – and then they can try with the chalk again.

There is also playdo with capital letter shape cards. the child creates long worm shapes by rolling the dough (strengthening the fingers for holding a pencil) and shapes them onto the capital shape cards.

These tools are such a fabulous way to introduce handwriting and have lots of fine motor skill activities along the way.

So, if we are learning the letter F this week:

  • On Monday we would listen to a song and do actions using the lines and curves. we would focus on learning to put together the big and little lines in the F shape.
  • Later at the desk I the child would practice make an F on the letters mat using 1 big and 2 little lines.
  • Then we would reinforce that shape each day.
  • At the desk on Tuesday we would use the stamp screen to make the F
  • Wednesday we would do the chalkboard version of F

  • Thursday we would do a playdough F
  • Friday we make a rainbow F using crayons (a big F that they can write over or inside with different colours of pens). My children love animals so we have printed out an animal for them to colour to stick opposite the letter it begins with. Here is a great link for printing pages for rainbow letters including little pictures to colour with objects that begin with that letter.

Another great HWT tip that helped our children learn how to hold the pen properly is to use only very short crayons while they are learning to write (this forces them to hold it in their fingertips)

Then there are HWT workbooks from K to grade 5. These are great – we do a page per day starting at age 4 after a year of so of lines and curves, etc. We still do the lines and curves, stamp screen etc to reinforce learning each week.

The curriculum progresses from capital letters to learning lowercase and then to cursive which is what our 7 year old is starting.


See also: Our Homeschool Curriculum Grows and Changes

“Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever:” Isaiah 30 v 8