Traditional African Houses

In our Footprints On Our Land (South African History studies), we have joined the 1820 British Settlers who settled along the Eastern Frontier, to the land where the Xhosa people lived.

The frontier with allotted farms, c. 1835

The frontier with allotted farms, c. 1835 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This section of History covers aspects of the Frontier Wars between the Xhosa and the settlers and the British government.

Tensions were so great that a neutral territory was created between the Great Fish River and the Kei River to prevent the Xhosa crossing over to steal cattle and burn settler farms, and the retaliatory raids to recapture stolen cattle.

These issues come to life as I read wonderful living books, and our current story “Strangers in the Land“.

While I read, my young daughter cut and created these African homes from postcards that I had collected long ago in my teaching days.

She displayed all the different houses on the bookshelf, each house in its own ‘village’, separated by a book pulled out slightly.

We will focus on the Zulu in the next theme. This is what their traditional house looks like.Many of my readers may have seen the brightly colored, geometric designs the Ndebele use to decorate their homes on African-themed designs.  Theirs is truly the most colorful homes!

Below is a Venda home, also painted and decorated, but they use more earthy, natural colored paints.

And this Sotho house completes this collection:

Blessings,

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!

Blessings,

Freedom Homeschooling Brings?

Would these be good reasons to homeschool?

  • provide intimate learning relationship between children & parents
  • nurture a child’s love to learn

    a unique hollow log “garden” with wild flowers, moss and mushrooms that my 12-year-old created one afternoon

  • maintain a “one-life” unity of life & learning
  • encourage spiritual discipleship
  • nurture character mentorship
  • do school in pajamas, or comfy clothes
  • start school as early or as late as suits you and your family
  • do short official school lessons – sometimes 5 to 10 minutes!
  • finish all school work after just a few hours of work
  • lazily read under a tree or snuggled up on a couch instead of filling in workbooks
  • focus on arts, creativity and “non-essential” subjects
  • progress in maths, spelling and writing at their own pace
  • it is tailor-made for each child
  • meets the dynamic needs of the children as they develop
  • live free of peer-pressure, bullying and labelling
  • allow children to be unique and different
  • express unusual and unpopular thoughts and views
  • focus on life skills, family business, hobbies, and entrepreneurial activities rather than grades and standards
  • reduce stress – no need to drive through pre-school traffic
  • save on costs – no school fees, fund-raisers, uniforms, long stationary lists

    nurturing a baby wild hare rescued in the fields

  • eat healthy food instead of school lunches
  • house-cleaning, cooking, baking, gardening, chores and routine is all part of school
  • encourage a new creative flair and foster a passion or interest
  • provide the opportunities for entrepreneurship and young businesses
  • provide and nurture relationships with all ages, all types of people
  • become missions-orientated
  • connect with community and the needy
  • get involved with church, ministry or charity

Yes!  All these and more!

I see most of these homeschooling choices as the freedom that homeschooling brings.

When the kids are small, it makes perfect sense to homeschool. And it is fun, free-style and fabulous!

Over the past few years we have had to change our homeschool emphasis as we navigate the High School years.  There are now time and subject requirements.  Learning takes longer, and lessons are more academic.  My high school children have to learn how to study for and write exams.

My role changed from the mom-learning-alongside in discovery and delight, to the tutor-mom.

I now focus on specific subjects with my high school children, teaching maths, or geography or subjects that are more academic.

Generally my high schoolers manage their learning and work quite independently.  I sometimes feel nostalgic. I long for those warm, intimate learning days.

So enjoy the early years!

Take your time!

Look for tadpoles and watch butterflies.

Read, read, read aloud.

Do art, singing and poetry.

Make the time for the fine arts.

Go on educational outings, take trips, plan those picnics.

Enjoy your homeschooling!

What freedoms do you enjoy most in your homeschooling? Feel free to share in the comments.

Blessings,

This post was written and submitted for the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling’s topic ~ ‘Beyond Homeschooling

Read Books ~ When All Else Fails

Social Studies (Carla Bley album)

Living Books are the

golden threads” in our learning.

This past week I had an epiphany ~

good books have provided my children the most valuable education!

But, let me go back a little and explain …

Earlier this year my 12-year-old-now-nearly-13-teen floundered in my ‘wonderful’ Charlotte Mason education.  I wrote about our stresses and struggles and how I felt like such a failure.

Your kind comments overwhelmed me.

I simply relieved my daughter from some CM subjects and she focussed purely on her academics. (She no longer actively takes part in many of the Fine Arts lessons, but I’m sure that she absorbs her younger sister’s music and art appreciation lessons, the poetry and the Shakespeare plays.)

Most of her Footprints Into the 21st Century curriculum is literature-based. She spends many hours simply reading good books.

But, still, I worried.  I was still unhappy to see her listlessly “going through the motions” instead of connecting with her subject, let alone savoring it! (And I’m not alone. Jimmie also shared of her daughter’s changed approach.)

Would she be ready for the standards and approaches used in our Delta correspondence high school curriculum next year?

Mathematics

Last week, when she completed her Maths textbook I went to a local academic book store to find a new Grade 8 textbook.

To my dismay, they only supplied textbooks for the current OBE education in the South African government schools.  (This system – Outcomes Based Education – has been an absolute failure … but let me not digress.)
After 20 minutes I chose the one which seemed the best.

When I got home and took my time looking through the book, I was appalled.

It was complete drivel. Total twaddle. Not one single mathematical concept explained. Not a single theory, principle, or equation in the book. Not a single example followed by an exercise.  How does anyone learn maths from this?

I would not keep the book and the store would not refund me.  I had to exchange it for any other book from the same publishers.  Despite their thick catalogue, and much more careful examination of the sample books on the bookstore’s shelves, I could not find anything worth exchanging.

Their Social Studies book dismayed me.

Not a single photograph or accurate map …  instead they had fuzzy pencil sketch copies of photos.

Not a single quote …  just ridiculous, over-simplified explanations of the period in history summed up in 3 paragraphs, followed by 3 questions &/or activities to be done with a friend or in a group OBE-style.

This is when it stuck me!

My children know much more about the historical events, the culture, lifestyle, and important people from their living books!

Even if my junior-high daughter just ticks off her schedule and completes her tasks, simply because she reads excellent books, she will have absorbed 1000 times more than a child who has read a textbook.

And I should have given more credit to the power of reading!

I’ve written that read alouds are the Homeschool Glue.

I have seen the power of reading an excellent book to ignite thoughts, inspire the imagination, develop vocabulary, motivate action, and define character.

At its most basic, if our children read living books, they will grow and learn!

This is why I love a Charlotte Mason-inspired-literature-based education.

How have living books taught your children? Any thoughts about textbooks? Share with us in the comments.

Blessings,

This post is part of the upcoming Charlotte Mason Carnival ~  “What we love most about a Charlotte Mason education“.  To join the carnival, visit Amy at Fisher Academy International this Tuesday, September 4.

Hands-on Knots

Young children love hands-on activities!

I am re-using our Footprints on our Land curriculum with my 9-year old.

This is a fabulous,

literature-rich,

discover-history-through living-books,

read-aloud-cuddled-together-on-a-couch curriculum.

Every here and there in our stories, we delve off to investigate interesting topics.

Today we learnt,

along with the hero of our story,

a young stowaway,

how to do sailor knots.

With the help of my hubby who was once in the navy, oupa, a seasoned and experienced fisherman, and some printouts from the internet, we sat learning and tying knots.

We used a nylon rope to practice first because the knots were big and clear.  Then we practiced the knots with stiff sisal rope. And finally, made samples for our notebook page using wool.

We discussed how the knots could be best used in our everyday lives.

It was fun and practical!

Have you taught your children any fun/ practical hands-on skills?  Feel free to share with us in the comments.

Blessings,

Foreign Language the CM Way

A foreign language is best learnt by

using it

Here in South Africa we teach our children our second language ~

Afrikaans.

The language spread of Afrikaans in the world ...

Afrikaans in the world (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To teach a foreign language, these approaches work well:

  • Let your child play with/ talk to/ listen to other children who only speak Afrikaans.
  • Talk Afrikaans (or whatever chosen foreign language) one whole day a week (or better – even more often) at home for everything.
  • Read aloud easy-to-understand-books in Afrikaans and explain & discuss vocabulary and let the child use those words in sentences.
  • Play Afrikaans audio stories, dramas, or plays or watch Afrikaans educational television shows or listen to Afrikaans radio stations.  Talk about it afterwards in Afrikaans of course!
  • Build vocabulary in themes and do oral lessons with loads of repetition.  Use fun methods like finger puppets, interviews, plays and drama.
  • Use workbooks, textbooks, grammar & spelling lessons.
  • Check out Learning the Afrikaans Language Squidoo lens with stacks of suggested software, videos and links
Talk_Now_Afrikaans_Beginner_Software

Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching a foreign language was ~

  1. Oral – learn the words orally.  Preferably by an authentic speaker – a French-speaking person teaching French.  Alternatively use an audio program.  Start when young.  Name things around them. Build up vocabulary.
  2. Read & write in the language – Miss. Mason expected children between 9 and 14 years to speak and understand French and be able to read an easy French book.  She suggested a child translate a little passage, re-read it in the foreign language and then narrate it.  Read from a book and the child narrates it in the foreign language.  Older children learnt lists of 40 phrases every 60 school days.
  3. Grammar for older children, with spelling and essay writing.

We all usually understand much more of a new language than we can speak, and we are shy of making mistakes.

I am not as bilingual as I want to be, but I am working on it daily.  I speak Afrikaans much more on the phone and with clients in our Lucerne Tree Farm business.  But I still don’t enjoy reading Afrikaans newspapers and magazines as much as I do with English reading as it is hard work!

Perhaps I should apply Miss. Mason’s methods to my language studies and take out some Afrikaans books from the library and read aloud, look up, write down and translate new words, and then write a narration of the passage I read.

Ultimately we all need this motivation to learn a new language – to use it for effective communication.

What methods/ approaches do you use that works well for your children?  Please share in the comments.Please visit and share with us at the CM blog carnival! We'd love to have you!

Blessings,

This post was submitted to the upcoming CM Carnival.

Fun Ideas for Creative Homeschooling

Welcome to our 3rd SACH Carnival of 2012!

Join South African homeschool moms

as we share our

inspiring

creative

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.

Blessings,

Fun with Oreo Moons

Double Stuf Oreos, by Nabisco.

It is always good to have some kind of fun activity to help teach or reinforce new concepts.

Our current South African History story relates how the Khoikhoi natives measured time with the moon.  Typically, as in our all literature studies, we branched off the story and we studied the moon phases.

I found a fun Oreo moon phase worksheet and we …

twisted

licked

ate

enjoyed

our Oreos

and made

our own moon phases chart.

Yummy!

Now, in testimony of my health-eating choices, my 9-year-old had NEVER eaten Oreos before!  But for the sake of fun I decided that this would definitely add something special to the lesson.

It was a really delicious, new learning experience!

Here are some web links to similar Oreo Moon studies:

In my years of homeschooling I realize that hand-on activities, creative and fun projects, art & crafts, outdoor lessons and co-op/ group outings are essential to a young child’s love for learning.

With 2 of my children in high school it seems that we don’t enjoy as many fun moments homeschooling.  Somehow the seriousness of studies and schedules make greater demands on our time and liberty.

Do the creative-hand-on-fun activities with your young kids.

Deviate from the schedule.

Deny the time constraints.

Delve out of the program.

Do delight-directed unit studies.

Do have fun!

What fun activities did you and your children love best?  Please share some and link to your posts in the comments below.

Blessings,

Our Journey into Homeschooling

The Queen of Hearts, from a 1901 edition of Mo...

Image via Wikipedia

In a way, describing how we started down the road into homeschooling is really a dedication post to my very special friends.

Because that’s how it all started.

3 moms at church, each with teeny toddlers, met together for tea and discovered we all had like-hearts.

Perhaps we all shared a desire for attached parenting.  We wanted to nurture our children, share in their formation years and inspire in them a love to learn.

After a few play-dates, tea dates and chats, and a few outings … our homeschooling was birthed.

I can clearly remember our pre-school planning time, we sat in a think tank and discovered how wonderfully the Lord led us.  We used a Bible Alphabet Colouring book as our base and spent several weeks on A for Angels doing angel stories, angel songs, angel crafts, angel food, even angel games!

We realized we each had something special and unique to bring to our group.  We realized our children enjoyed repetition more than we ever planned for! I think that, after a whole year, we only got to H for Hearts!

We grew into homeschooling as our children grew up.  Some new babies arrived.  Some more moms joined.  Some moms moved.  Some children went to real school.  Some came back to homeschool … and back to school.  I even homeschooled alone for a season.

When we started junior primary schooling, I visited a serious homeschool mom to view her methods and curriculum.  I remember being scared, thinking, “How can I do this?”  I know that I didn’t buy her curriculum.  I also thought this was an awesome decision.

But my homeschooling became more than just a heart-choice.  We bought a farm near a small rural town with no English schools, moved away, and so it was settled, we would have to homeschool.  But I was glad.  This left no room for doubts.  I had to follow my heart which was set on homeschooling anyway.

That was a tough year.

The Knave of Hearts, from a 1901 edition of Mo...

Image via Wikipedia

No friends nearby.

No church group with moms and tots.

No other English-speaking families.

And definitely no other homeschoolers.

And it was my first year teaching all 3 children, each on their own core.

In a word. Stressful.

But, after just 2 years, there were 9 other local homeschooling families that got together, went on outings, socialized and encouraged each other.  (And yes, we were still the only English family.)

Then we sold our farm and spent a year on the road looking for a new farm.  All our homeschool stuff fitted into a small travel bag.  We all used 1 core curriculum and had an amazing 18 months in intimate, simple homeschooling.

Now we live and homeschool on a very remote mountain farm, even further from friends and church groups.

But it is fine.

Our friends drive once a year to spend a school holiday with us.  We travel to visit them.  Our eldest children, now 16 and 17 years old, are still good friends.

And those amazing moms are still my dearest, most special friends!

Here’s my heart-felt thanks to you ~ travelling even just part of the homeschooling journey together has made all the difference in the world!

Blessings,

This post is part of the South African Carnival of Homeschool Blogs.  To join the carnival or visit past carnivals visit the SACHS Blogs page.  We hope you enjoy browsing!

School Outings ~ What I Miss Most

 Girls find garnets in the gravel at Kimberley Big Hole

For several years now we lived too far away (not to mention our horrendous mountain roads) from cities, towns and friends to join homeschool outings –

and I miss it much more than my kids do!

  • I miss the planning and preparation of an outing that fits all our schedules and topics of  interest.
  • I miss meeting friends at a car park, chatting to moms while we wait for the rest to arrive.
  • I miss watching the kids playing before we can even introduce the new family that has joined the group.
  • I miss the hugs, encouragement and support of other moms who have rushed household chores, packed picnic baskets and scurried to put the baby things in the bag for the day, to get the to venue on time.
  • I miss the buzz of excitement of the little ones as we enter the museum or place of interest.
  • I miss the tour guide telling the kids stuff that we read about and watching the children’s faces light up with, “I know that!
  • I miss the joy of my child’s feeling of success when she answers a guide’s questions with confidence.
  • I miss the group activities, the teams, the joint efforts in some or other exercise.
  • I miss seeing, with wonder and joy, older teenagers (especially the guys) playing and helping the toddlers and young kids, when I know that it would not be “cool” among their government school peers.
  • I miss sharing healthy and delicious snacks and tea and coffee afterwards.
  • I miss hearing the successes and failures of other homeschool families and being part of such a wonderful support system.
  • I miss my children’s excited news and joy of friends who have the same life values.
  • I miss the confirmation of our homeschooling choices seen at work in other families.
  • And of course I miss the art museums, the professional tour guides, seeing real artifacts and proof of reality seen up close and personal.

For moms with young children I urge you to join other groups, or form your own, and make time each month for an outing!  If possible, choose a schedule that gives you 1 day each week for outings and get-together.  (Sonlight offers a choice between a 4-day or a 5-day week schedules.  We often used our 5th ‘free’ day for library, visits, shopping and outings.)

These outings are wonderful experiences and make memories that may last for ever!

I  think we stocked up on our family’s outings because we spent over a year on the road and traveled around South Africa while we did Footprints on the Land curriculum.

May you enjoy your homeschool groups and outings!

Blessings,

This post is part of the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling.