First Aid Course

First aid is an essential skill, a vitally important life skill, even for children!

My youngest daughter, nearly 13, is our in-house nurse.  She’s the first to run to our bathroom and apply whatever first aid is needed to anyone who is injured on the farm.  She loves to clean wounds and apply dressings and plasters.

Two years ago, when I was seriously burnt, she attended to me during and after the accident, and had the stomach and guts to hold my hand when my dressings were changed.  She can cope with the sight of blood.  Some people just can’t.

When in teacher’s training college, every first-year student had to take the official St. John’s Ambulance First Aid Course.  There were several scary opportunities during my 10-year teaching career when this knowledge helped me assist pupils. Once a pupil fell from the grandstands and broke her spine. Thankfully, because of my first aid training, I was able to stabilize her and prevent any movement to her spine, and she went on to fully recover!

Today, Lara and I sat to do a 30 minute, free online first aid course with Click to Save St. John.20150504_155654

The course layout is extremely clear, simple and basic.  They present each lesson with brief explanations, some slide shows and several lessons include short video clips.  One or two lessons include multiple-choice questions.

During a few of the lessons, I added  practical demonstrations, and at the end of the course, I even lay on the floor as an ‘unconscious’ patient for Lara to practice all her newly learnt skills in “DRSABCD”.  Then, after giggling and dusting ourselves off, we sat down to click through the quick 8-multiple-choice online exam.

First AId

When you correctly answer all 8 questions, you receive a certificate!  Lara clicked too soon on one answer and had to re-do the exam, but after sitting through her exams, I believe she has learnt some very good basic skills.



  • This course is an introduction to first aid, and first aiders still need to do practical lessons to correctly access, prioritize strategies, do CPR, apply pressure and splint or bandage injuries.  With this in mind, I am sure that Lara and I will enroll in a full course in town in the future.
  • This course is based in Australia.  Apply their emergency numbers when answering the exam, but teach your children your local emergency numbers.
  • There are photos of a staged accident. Some images where blood or injuries are shown may seem gruesome to some folk.  Please preview before your children take the course.
  • Parents should sit and read the course aloud for slightly younger children and allow them to click the answers.

Knowledge is powerful!  First Aid empowers one to be an effective help in times of crisis.


Sketch Tuesday ~ Q

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme was ~

Sketch Something Beginning with Q

Here is my 12-year-old’s sketch representing ~

“Q for Quest”

Sketch Tuesday Q 001

She used a photo for reference and sketched with amazing detail and shading!  I was very impressed … and she was happily delighted with her sketch.

We join Barb of  Harmony Art Fine who posts a new Sketch Tuesday sketch topic each week.  Will you join us this week?


Getting Real ~ Chaos

My “Getting Real” series began after a reader recently told me that everything on my blog looked too neat and organized!

Let me assure you that the organization photos are staged.  I especially clear the tables and pack away the clutter before I take the photos!  But, of course, my school room does NOT look like that all the time!

Once, I asked my kids what they think makes me most stressed and they told me that I am often always stressed about clutter and chaos. So, yes, I am a bit of a tidy freak!

Usually I tidy as  I work, and I spend about 5 minutes packing away at night. I like to have a clear desk and clean kitchen when I go to bed.  It helps me feel positive and  motivated to walk in to clear rooms in the morning.

But I have 3 daughters who work all over the place … doing all sorts off stuff ~ They love creative projects and they are allowed to make a mess!  It is part of the creative process.  There may be ~ branches full of lichens across a table wired into a ‘chandelier’ … beads and wire scattered on a tray … flower arrangements with petals, leaves and off-cuts mess over the floor … a massive sewing project with patchwork pieces and fabric scraps lie all over every surface … paintings and paint trays and paint bottles lie around … a mass of confetti papers surrounding some craft project litters every meter …

Even normal things clutter and create chaos, such as unfolded laundry piles waiting to be folded and packed away  … someone’s chores still undone … It is a real mess at times. I’m your typical mom calling the kids, “Come clean up!

Chore charts prevent the need for moaning and nagging.  Simple routines enforce before & after mealtimes so that they do their kitchen chores.  They fold and pack laundry on wash days. Once a week we all clean house. (It stays cleaner longer if they know they have to clean up the mess again, and the person responsible for a zone will moan at her siblings to clean up after themselves so that they don’t have to clean again that week.)

After school, every day, we pack away schoolbooks and make the area available for other projects and play.  Just before the end of the day, everyone packs up or packs away their project so that the school room is available the next morning. A basket, a tray or a box keeps unfinished things handy so that they can continue their project the next day. When we fall into chaos, we delay our schoolwork and first tidy up.  This means that they have less free time in the afternoon.

As the girls get older, I find that the tidying, habit-training really pays off, and they calmly clear and pack up with out constant reminders and nagging.

I recommend moms create a simple routine for your family and focus on one habit each week or month until it is established.  Train young children with songs (like Barney’s “Clean Up, Clean Up”) and reminders with simple rhyming words.  Make it fun!  Put on great music and sing as you work!

How do you tame the chaos in your home?  Please feel free to share your advice in the comments.

Blessings as you create order in your days.

Getting Real ~ Giving up

A reader recently told me she always deleted my posts because I’m “too organized”! I felt compelled to be real and explain that most of my posts are simply a “peep into our homeschooling” and, although not always window dressed, I tend to showcase what works.

So, here is the start a series of “Getting Real” posts.

My main goal in Practical Pages is to encourage moms and so I will widen my exposure lens and share some of the real issues, problems and some of the nitty-gritty realities of our homeschooling lives, and hopefully, be real about how we are trying to work through them.

Giving up.

I have felt like giving up, several times over the past years. Mostly during the years teaching my high schoolers, as shut-down teens. They are tough, and, together with their strong wills and designs of their own, as well as a really pathetic correspondence high school curriculum, I had no idea how to “succeed”.  I dreaded every day’s battles, frustrations and dead-ends.  In the end, we pushed through,  and my eldest graduated with an university entrance. Relief!  One down – 2 to go …

Last year my middle daughter only started her high school year in April and we did not do any exams that year … at all. It was the year my hubby said that “I dropped the ball”.

I must defend myself explain that our son got married that February, we were all helping build his house in time … and the postal strike delayed the arrival of her books … and so on … but basically I floundered with a new high school curriculum we had started, and I didn’t know how to approach the lessons and guide my daughter through her work.

Praise the Lord, she settled into a better routine when life returned to ‘normal’.  She attended lessons with a tutor in town every 2 weeks to bring her (and myself) up to standard.

Essentially, it did not really matter. All that fuss and those crippling fears!  She is young for the course she signed up for, and has 3 years to complete the 2 year exam requirements. I am confident that she did not actually fall behind, and that we are still on track.

My kids have often told me that they give up.

Young kids cried over maths, and even more sadly, they have cried in our art lessons.  My eldest refused to do some CM subjects and I cried bitter tears of failure.

More sadly, I had tried so hard. Too hard. I blame myself for coming on too strong, being to ‘teachy’ and trying to educate.all.the.time.

Lesson learnt. I have learnt to relax much more. I have learnt to let the kids take control and take the lead.

Often, it helps to talk to another understanding person; my hubby or a fellow homeschooler. It is a relief to know that others struggle just as we do.

Don’t give up.  Take a break.  Change your approach.  Find help.  It is worth the effort of perseverance!  In the end, homeschooling provided the nurture and relationship bonding that has made our lives rich and rewarding.

You can do it!

Have you ever felt like giving up? How did you find the courage to continue?  Please share in the comments.

Blessings as you persevere.

Sketch Tuesday ~ Lake

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is

Sketch something at a lake

Here are our sketches ~

Sketch Tuesday Lake 001 Sketch Tuesday Lake 001-001

Both of us looked at pictures for our inspiration.  Lara’s lake idea came from her Beatrix Potter books, while I looked for ‘Lady of the Lake’ ideas on Pinterest.  Our pictures were tiny … her teeny, tiny Peter Rabbit books are just a few centimeters big, while my image was small, just big enough to fill my smart phone screen.

Small images, but big ideas!

I encourage you and your kids to join Sketch Tuesday for Barb’s new weekly theme and slideshow.

It has motivated and inspired us to be more creative and to sketch often!


Organizing Art Stuff

My kids have enjoyed arts and crafts since they were little, and as they have become teens, our art and craft materials has grown in quantity.

Here are some practical tips of how we organize and store our art stuff conveniently on our little arts and crafts bookshelf.

Practical Tip 1   Everything has its place and a place for everything

Homeschool 20154

Our stationary tray filled with little boxes has worked excellently over the years.  Each little square box stores the different types of pens, crayons, fiber-tipped pens, and colored pencils.

Practical Tip 2  Buy quality art materials & let everyone share

When someone needs, say, the gel pens, they simply take out the box out of the tray and use them at their table.  Once finished, they quickly pop the box back in the tray.  We all share the same pencils and pens.

Very little kids may need their own chubby art crayons and basic paint sets, but as soon as they are able to correctly use the basic stationary, I train them and let them share with the older kids.

Here are some of my most important rules:

  1. Clean your paint brush and tray before it dries.
  2. Pack your things away where it belongs.
  3. Work with a little and add more later, rather than pour too much and waste.
  4. Do NOT drop the pencils!

I like to purchase lovely, big sets of art materials, 24 colors or more, and we all enjoy the full range.  Rather than spending money on each child’s own set, one really large quality set shared by all is just as economical.

Practical Tip 3   Store all the paints, brushes and mixing trays in a “painting box”Art Supplies

When we paint, we take out the painting box and everything is on hand.  Before, I had paints in one box, trays in another and brushes in another, but, with a little re-organization, we fitted everything into a large, shallow box.

I painted the lids of all the acrylic paint bottles so that we can easily find the color we need.

The brushes are all stored bristlesup in the bottle and they dry perfectly.

Practical Tip 4  Plastic suitcases to store craft supplies 1-P1160658-001

We have used these small plastic suitcases to store our craft supplies for years. These suitcases have lasted for over 15 years!  Standing upright on the bottom shelf, we can easily pull out the case we need for our craft activity.

We store craft items in Ziplock bags.  If we purchase or receive craft materials in boxes, I cut the box lid flat, leaving off the sides, and store it inside the Ziplock bag, along with any instruction pamphlet, for slim, space-saving storage.

Each child has their own little suitcase for their own stickers, craft papers, and bits and bobs.  We tie labels on the suitcase handle.

Practical Tip 5  Store paper and cardstock in clear shelving 1-P1160657

We have used these clear, plastic drawers for years, too.  A simple plan makes habit training simple.

Once again, Ziplock bags save us from chaos!  Any paper or card that has a piece cut off must go into a large Ziplock bag in the drawer.  This keeps full paper or card sheets separate from any slightly used sheets.  Kids waste less if they know that they must find some bits or smaller pieces in a Ziplock bag, rather than cut off a small section from a full-page.

With a little training and some gentle reminders, my children have learnt to use, enjoy, clean up & pack away after their art and craft activities and creative endeavors, and our art stuff is ready for the next lesson.

What practical tips do you find works in your home?  Please share with us in the comments.


Sketch Tuesday ~ Upside Down

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is

Upside Down

Isn’t this ‘hanging upside down’ sketch just wonderful?

I noticed that Lara sketched the girl’s necklace hanging down toward her ear and I knew that she remembered exactly how her silver necklace felt when she last hung upside down!

1-Sketch Tuesday Upside Down 002

Sloths hang upside down … so I looked at sloths on Pinterest and discovered my latest, most favorite, cute animal in the world!  I never knew they were so adorable!

Sketch Tuesday Upside Down 001

I encourage you and your kids to join Sketch Tuesday for Barb’s new weekly theme and slideshow.

It is a gift to be creative!


Reader’s Question ~ Why such a fuss about cursive handwriting?

This week I would like to share another interesting reader’s question ~
 She writes ~
“My 10-year-old son makes a huge fuss about learning to write in cursive!  He seems stressed, angry and tearful when he tries to write in cursive.  What can I do to help him?”
Here are some of my comments, hints and suggestions ~

Handwriting chart & copywork pages

Handwriting chart & copywork pages

  • Anger and tears usually represent some kind of frustration or fear.
  • Try diffuse the lesson with some handwriting activity that is really easy and fun, such as letter recognition / search games, pattern play, use fun “writing” mediums such as shaving cream on a window!
  • I would ask,
    • “Is he  ‘ready‘ for cursive?
    • Does he know his alphabet?
    • What is his fine motor control like?
    • How does he hold/ grip his pencil and how accurate is he doing small movements?
    • Is his eyesight okay?
    • He may have physical difficulties and require some therapy or extra help.
  • Teach the lesson with a large, clear laminated cursive lower case cursive chart and whiteboard markers. This is a quick, easy way to teach all the letters before going on to copywork.
  • Tell him that he can quickly and easily wipe away any mistakes when he uses a whiteboard marker.  Some kids hate to make mistakes!  Although pencil rubs out, whiteboard markers are super-quick to erase!
  • Whiteboard markers make lovely bold, smooth lines, therefore no need to pen pressure = less stress.
  • Demonstrate each letter and talk through your movements.  See my Handwriting Hints tips and booklet.
  • Girls love to use gel glitter pens.  Find a favorite pen for a boy!
  • Find or make ‘olden days’ letters or manuscripts to read.
  • For fun, let him make his own with quill feather and ink on paper aged with tea!  Let him make invisible ink and write secret spy letters.
  • Only use cursive for formal handwriting lessons, but allow him to continue to use print for his own notes and notebooking.
  • Select really funny/ interesting copywork for him to practice.
  • Practice daily.  Provide a short copywork piece / extract from his favorite book.  Pop over to my free copywork pages.
  • If all these tips do not help, I would suggest you take your child to a therapist for more precise testing. Remedial therapy is often presented in fun activities and yet produce great results.
What other suggestions would you give this reader?  Please share in the comments below.

Sketch Tuesday ~ Deli

This week’s Sketch Tuesday theme is ~


Here are our sketches ~

Sketch Tuesday Deli 001

Sketch Tuesday Deli 002

We enjoy sketching and daily drawing!

I encourage you and your kids to join Sketch Tuesday for Barb’s new weekly theme and slideshow.

Sketching regularly awakens one’s creativity and artistic sensitivity!


Knights – New Paper Dolls

We have updated our Middle Ages paper dolls and men.

I have created a new page with a Knight and his armor and weapons.



The young squire dressed the knight, layering all the underclothes, chain-mail, armor and coat of arms tunic and weapons.  If kids follow the list of armor given on the page with the knight man, they will dress the knight correctly.

There are also 2 pages with a Medieval Man’s clothes, including clothes worn by the poor peasant, merchant or wealthy man.


The Middle Ages lady pages now include clothes worn by peasants, merchants and the wealthy Medieval lady.  These detailed illustrations and labels will give a child a real understanding of the clothing and lifestyle of the era.


This is a wonderful ‘keep-those-hands-busy’ activity for kids to make while you read aloud!

Pop over to my Free Pages and check out all the paper dolls & men!