DIY Folded Paper Boxes

My youngest daughter wanted to sort and classify her sea shell collection.  This was a great Nature Study and Science activity, but we needed several smallish boxes to store the different shell types.  She displayed her shell collection on our Nature Study tray.

6-Nature study1

We quickly made these paper boxes.

The nifty, practical aspects of these folded paper boxes are:

  • You can make them in different sizes … so they can nest in each other or form a top and a base to close your box!
  • The boxes can easily be stored flat, unfolded and ready for the next occasion.
  • You can use decorative craft paper or card stock for really pretty gift boxes or display boxes.

Here are the instructions and a free downloadFolded Paper Boxes

You will need:

  • square paper or card stock 28cm X 28cm
  • scissors
  • glue/ cellotape/ stapler

Fold your paper:

  • Fold the square horizontally in half & re-open.
  • Fold the square vertically in half & re-open.
  • Fold the bottom left corner and the top right corner to the center of the square, forming opposite triangles.Paper box 1
  • Fold both the newly made folds to the middle & re-open these folds.

Paper box 2

  • Cut along all 4 of the new fold lines, from the paper edge up to the edges of the triangles.Paper box 3
  • Take the top left corner and the bottom right corner and fold the corners into the center.Paper box 4
  • Fold again in half, so that the last fold is at the end of the cut lines.
  • Fold all 4 pointed strips to form folds in line with the 2 middle double folded pieces.Paper box 5

Assemble your paper box:

  • Fold the pointed flaps around the outside of the 2 center folds.
  • Insert the corners of the center folded piece into the diagonal fold of the flap. This part is a little fiddly, so mom, you may have to help here!Paper box 6
  • Tape/ glue or staple the outside overlapping flaps to the box.

Enjoy this craft project!


Add Variety

Variety adds “spice” to life …

and different approaches are good tools to enhanced learning!

This is especially true when a child struggles, stresses or stagnates in learning skills.

Spelling and maths tables, bonds and drills are common problem subjects in many children’s schooling, and despite diligent effort, they may still struggle to master new and difficult skills.

When this happens, look for some new tools or methods and to try to involve as many senses as possible.

Movement is often a great method to apply in Maths.  We use these for tables and bonds or reviews:

  • skip with a rope calling out the skip counting or times tables  
  • jump on a mini trampoline
  • jump up a flight of stairs, one step at a time, if the answer is correct, back if incorrect
  • clap hands as partners to tables

    This is a great idea to add to ‘blank’ trampolines – excellent for directionality and spatial awareness

  • bounce and catch a beach ball – on floor/ against a wall/ with mom or sibling
  • hop on one leg

With spelling, try a variety of objects:

  • Bananagrams
  • Scrabble tiles
  • magnetic letters on the fridge
  • white board
  • trace in flour/ rice/ small lentils on a tray
  • trace letters on a sealed Ziploc bag filled with colored pudding (and enjoy eating it afterwards)
  • play-dough letters
  • foam letters – print out spelling
  • physically forming the letter shape with their body and a rope or stick.

Review or re-wind previous lessons with a different approach.

Use arrows, directions and obstacle courses, play “Twister” to amplify Geography skills.

When your child starts school after a long break, try  a physical, musical workout and make it energetic fun.

Music, songs and rap are excellent for spelling or learning off by heart.  Add some cool moves which amplify meaning to add to the impact of the learning experience. My kids still remember their Geography Songs CD!

Do school in a different room or place or in a  new environment. Sit under the table, stand on the table, go outside, or lie on the floor.  Try to learn in a darkened room and encourage the child to print “mental visual images” in their minds.

Despite variety being fun, it activates different centers in the brain and facilitates neural links and connections.

When a child really continues to struggle, I  encourage you to take you child to an occupational or remedial therapist.  Apart from correctly assessing where the problem may lie, they have a massive repertoire of games, activities and approaches which you can use at home.  They have mastered the art of using games to teach and reinforce skills.

Lastly, although iPad and Smartphone apps and computer games promote interactive learning, research has shown that screens and flashing imagery does not necessarily enhance learning as much as real life, physical, sensory experiences do.

Teach new skills in new ways to add to the impact of the lesson. Find your child’s learning style and work that into your teaching style.

Laugh and have fun.

What novel ways have you used to teach or reinforce lessons?  Please share with other readers in the comments.


Fun History!

What a shock my kids had when I walked into the room like this!

(Excuse the slightly blurred photo.  My 10-year-old was giggling too much to focus the camera properly!)

It was a great way to introduce the British Occupation at the Cape and the 1820 British Settlers for our Footprints On Our Land history curriculum.

All Miss.L10’s narrations were done with the mask and a most ‘proper’ British accent!

(And lots of giggles from Miss.K13 studying in the background!)

Some novelty and fun makes History fresh and exciting!

Hope you and your kids have fun now and then!


Corn Starch Clay Decorations

Thanks to Pinterest I have discovered some wonderful ‘new’ recipes!

           This lovely baker’s clay from is cheap and simple to make,

smooth and easy to work with,

 comes out the oven white and hard,

and looks pretty even un-painted!

We used our normal play-dough cutters,

and I gave the girls our rubber stamps to use for texture and embossed designs.


Here’s the recipe:

1/2 Cup Corn Starch

1 Cup Bicarbonate of Soda

3/4 Cup Water

* Mix all ingredients together in a pot.

* Stir over heat until the mixture thickens and resembles thick mashed potatoes (really!)

* Remove from the stove and place as a ball in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth until it cools.

* Roll out, cut, shape and decorate.

* To make the holes we used a drinking straw – press down, twist, and lift, then blow out the little centre into your hand to re-use the with the scraps.

* Bake@ 180○ C for about 10 minutes or until firm and hard.

* Cool and paint, varnish, or enjoy as is.

Great for Xmas decorations, place-name settings, gift tags and gift embellishments.

Give it a try!


3D Models into Art

“Busy hands while I read aloud”

This is a wonderful recipe to success in a literature-based curriculum like Sonlight.

My kids have modeled in clay, made prints, colored-in, painted, woven wool, built a Lego ziggurat, tied knots and built paper models.

In Footprints on our Land, we recently studied the French Huguenots and their influence on the culture, architecture, agriculture, language and religion in the Cape.

I had some postcard paper models of Cape houses from my old teaching-days.  I made color photo-copies (to save my originals) and gave them to Miss.L10 to cut and glue while I read aloud.

She enjoyed the intricate cutting and scoring,

glueing and forming …

The water-mill was quite tricky!

Once she had finished “playing” with the little paper people around her houses, we put the models up on the window sill on display.

This week we finished off the read aloud.  While I read the last few chapters, we solved the “where do we store the 3D models?” problem with an artistic application ~

  • cut the models apart
  • use the front, the sides and the back to create 3 houses from 1 model
  • paste them on a blank page
  • draw, color and paint the background and the details
  • and we have wonderful, detailed, colorful pages for in our notebook file!

This way we achieved ~

  1. creative and busy hands while I read aloud
  2. storage for a 3-dimensional object in our notebook file
  3. creative problem-solving = make the models fit into a 2-dimensional design (she had to cut the roof in different angles to look “true”, she made a door where there was only a window, she wanted both sides of the water mill and created a full water flow through several buildings!)

How do you store your children’s 3D models?  What busy-hands activities have been the most successful/ creative?  Please share in the comments.


Narrations 103 Puppets

This is number 3 in my series of Narration posts. (Read the previous posts Jot & Draw and Type & Print)

Many young children love to tell their narrations!

What better way to dynamically retell the story than with


Some of our best puppet shows were spontaneous -

Finger Puppets

The children simply drew outline pictures of the characters from the story.

They stuck a strip of paper to the back of the picture,

wound the paper strip around the finger and taped it closed,

and narrated the story.

Children with a flair for the dramatic include accents and actions.

They swap finger puppets to narrate different characters.

Folded flat, the children pasted their finger puppets on their notebook pages.

Paper Puppets

Our free Aesop lapbook came with paper puppets.

My youngest enjoyed hours of free play with her puppets.


Paper Doll/ Men Puppets

During our Sonlight World History studies we created our paper doll series.

These paper dolls were fun to use in narrations.

Laminated and stiff, the children played out their narrations and stories.

But you could paste the paper doll on a wooden stick and make “proper” puppets!

They provide hours of creativity – coloring in,cutting out, pasting clothing and narrating.

We store ours in clear plastic zipper bags.

Hand Puppets

Our hand puppets have been enormously popular

and have lasted for years!

We made our fist puppet show

Esther Play for Purim

with puppets, backdrops,
props and a full script.

A few years later we updated our puppets,

made new backdrops,

added some animal puppets on sticks

for our new play ~

Nativity Puppet Play

Whether simple and quick,

planned and prepared,

practised or spontaneous,

puppets take centre stage.

They divert attention away from the child

and give the child something to “do” while narrating.

Allow your child the freedom to express their narration in a way that is not always dictated or written.

Try puppets!


Decorated Frames

Friends visited us for a week during our winter school break.

While we sat through a rainy spell, the older girls asked to do a craft.

We decided to use a few old frames lying in a box.

I wanted them to make this a special frame,

decorated with things found on the farm.

It could be made into something useful;

with hooks or wire or mesh to hang jewelery on,

or simply a pretty memento of the time together.

Miss. T made a jewelry frame as a gift.

First she painted the wooden frame in a lovely light teal green, left it to dry and then scraped off some paint to create a distressed look.

She covered the back of her frame with some lace and fabric off-cuts that she sewed together and ironed flat.

Then she pulled the material over the hard board back and taped it down.

She used a piece of rusty old chicken mesh to cover half of the material.

Now she secured the frame to the back.

She glue-gunned some dried rose buds she had in her stash to one side of the frame,

added some interesting pieces of lichen she found on an old tree,

and completed her frame with 3 brass hooks which she embellished with some buttons and ribbon.


Her friend, Miss. C, found a lovely picture of a heart and a crown in a Christian magazine as her inspiration.

We made a colour-copy of the original.

She spent some time embellishing the picture with pen, glitter and then glued some crumpled brown paper edging.

As she felt that her frame was a little narrow, she wrapped her rusty mesh over the sides of the frame.

She found some rusty tin which we carefully snipped to form a heart.

Her mom had crocheted a cotton heart and Miss. C attached the hearts to her mesh with the same thread.


Both frames were so unique.

What a lovely rainy-day craft.

Pop over to my project pages for more crafty inspiration!


Kitchen Connections

English: A pizza from the oven. Français : Une...

My daughters are learning home-making

and cooking

is one of the most important skills.

Recently, when I went away for 9 days, my young ladies proved just how well they are managing in the kitchen!

And my stepson is an excellent cook!  He often steps in and cooks up a fabulous meal.

Over the years I have tried several approaches:

  1. “Watch – Do – Teach”  Basically it works like this = My girls watch the technique or skill I am showing them, then they do the same activity while I observe them and then they must teach the cooking lesson to one of their siblings.
  2. Menu plan and make the meal – We all brainstorm and suggest ideas for lunches and dinners for the week.  They then choose any main meal or lunch to prepare on their own.
  3. One-on-one with mom - Each daughter spends one day assisting or cooking with me for the day each week.

But I really love to have the whole family and visitors join in to cook or bake together in the kitchen!

In fact I often plan meals with this in mind when we have friends visit and stay over at our farm.

These are my favorite cooking connections:

We all make pizzas.  Everyone cuts, slices, grates cheese, pips olives, spreads the pizza bases … and then we all cover the pizzas with a delightful variety of toppings.  Delicious and fun!

Another good meal for everyone to join in is a stir-fry.  There can all help prepare the food: cut and slice veggies, slice and dice meat and mix sauces. The actual stir-fry is also a big communal event as everyone clusters around the fry plates and stirs and fires!

Many a soup dish or stew is a great family effort.

Children love to bake. Biscuits are fun to do with kids of all ages.  They love rolling, cutting, coating balls, flattening with forks, sprinkling with toppings … and of course, nibbling titbits along with all the trimmings.

What about these ideas to bring cooking into your children’s lives?

  • Buy a really good cookbook to stir some new excitement in a young new mini-chef’s cooking.
  • Buy quality cooking utensils and equipment for their birthdays.
  • Watch excellent cooking programs.
  • Start a cook/ bake class with your homeschool group.
  • Join a cooking demonstration.
  • Ask a family member or neighbour to teach new skills.  A friend is teaching my girls how to make cheese. My mother-in-law’s neighbour used to be a chef and she loves to teach others.
  • Do a recipe-exchange and commit to making one new recipe each week.

What ideas do you have?  How do you inspire and teach your children to cook and bake?  Feel free to share in the comments.


This post was submitted to the SACH Carnival. Join us and see what other South African Homeschoolers are cooking up in this carnival’s theme “Kitchen Fun!”

Fun Ideas for Creative Homeschooling

Welcome to our 3rd SACH Carnival of 2012!

Join South African homeschool moms

as we share our



fun activities

in our homeschooling.

Taryn of Hayes Happenings shares a whole host of creative homeschooling activities, many of these shared with their homeschool group called the “Lunch Bunch”.  They have so much fun, don’t you wish you could join them too?

Here at Practical Pages I have written several posts of our fun and creative lessons!  Here are a few of my kid’s favorites:

Trixi from Trixi’s HomeEd Academy has found lapbooks have brought the joy of learning to her homeschooling days.  She shares some her creative posts:View album

Donette of The Journey wrote her post specially for the carnival and shared the fun and creative ideas for her children who are all under 6.

Thanks to all who shared in this carnival!

I’m sure you all have creative, fun activities that stand out as your homeschooling highlights.

Would you care to share them too?  Write a comment and leave a link to your post.


Tunnel Books Made our Narration 3 Dimensional!

Tunnel books form 3 dimensional pictures made from cut out layers stacked on top of each other, almost like a peep show!

I thought this would be a creative way to illustrate the overcrowded immigrant cities we read about in our Sonlight  American History studies.  (Busy hands while I read aloud …smile)

Here’s a 4 frame tunnel book tutorial:

  • I prepared 4 frames, each one slightly wider than the next.
  • We looked at photographs and pictures to plan each frame.
  • I suggested that the objects become slightly smaller on each frame and that some objects stick out into the inside of the frame. (You’ll notice the sizes decrease in the tunnel book above and really create a sense of depth!)
  • The girls illustrated and cut around the inside details.

    4 frames with 2 concertina strips

  • They placed this frame over the next wider frame and planned where to place their new objects that would stick out.  Objects that joined across the frame looked really good!  They planned new details to show where the top frame would not hide them.  They drew a few pencil lines around these and illustrated the new frame.
  • Once they drew and cut around the 2nd frame, they placed this on the 3rd frame and repeated this on the 4th frame.
  • We did not cut out the middle of 4th frame, but  illustrated the centre as the background of the picture.
  • We folded 2 concertina to have 4 folds each and pasted each page on the folds on both sides.

    Matching each frame to a fold on the concertina

  • Viola!  A 3 dimensional tunnel book!

And it was such a lovely creative project,

and really easy!


  • This would be done best on cardboard or stiff paper.  We did ours on plain paper, but it worked well.  It will not be bulky in our notebook folders.
  • Coloured card or paper would be lovely.  We started with black pen outlines and felt that this was detailed enough.
  • Use just 4 layers: one is the front cover and the 4th is the background.  You could add as many as you need.
  • You could make this tunnel book into a card and include narrations or notes inside the card.
  • Moms could make a simple template for younger children to cut and colour and paste into a tunnel book.
  • You need not have 4 frames.  Instead use a front frame, the next 2 layers just make some sides and paste these against a 4 layer which could be a full photo or picture.
  • Be creative and adapt the idea to suit your child’s age or the concepts you want to include in the tunnel book.
  • You could use 4 photocopies of the same picture or photo and layer these on each frame in the same way that people make 3D pictures with the same picture mounted above the previous one.
  • Have fun!

More tunnel book ideas on the net:


a fantastic gallery of great tunnel books,

another gallery,,

a pdf of a zig-zag version,

and this beautiful easy photo tutorial.

I especially loved the map/ globe tunnel book

Could we use this in Geography?  Weather systems, atmospheric layers, soil and rock layers …

Or what about life cycles or ecosystems in Biology and Natural Sciences?

Cell structure? Zoology of a pond? …

Or a scene from a play/ poem/ story?  Characters, scenes, plot?

I’m tickled to think of all the other possibilities …

And you?