Special Offer For Nature Journal Fun

It is Spring here in South Africa, and the great outdoors and going on nature walks is wonderful this time of the year.  For some really fun, and sometimes messy nature journal prompts, I have 3 Smash Nature Journals available on my Packages page.

For the month of September, I would like to offer a buy 2 and get one FREE special offer!

Here’s what I wrote about my daughter’s experience with her Smash Nature Journal ~

My daughter really enjoyed “smashing” her journal!  There is something wonderfully liberating being instructed to tear, crumple, stain, wet and mess in a nature journal.  In the past I over-stressed the nature sessions with expectations for neat, labeled, researched, colored journal pages.  This new approach brought a flurry of activity and excitement to our nature walk.

My homeschooling friend Willemien Kruger of Homeschooling Curriculum Guide shared her boy’s Smash this Nature Journal experience ~

“Both my boys enjoyed doing the Smash Nature Journals at times.  It was scheduled for something to be done when they feel like it, so some days they did a lot of pages and some days none.  Of course, the boys enjoyed the really smashing activities more than the coloring or writing, and some activities really helped them to think outside the box!  A cool idea for younger kids to explore nature and art!”

Pop over to look at samples and photos of these Smash Nature Journals.  Click to go to my Packages Page and order your buy 2 and get one FREE special offer!  And when your children have completed their pages, please email them to me to share here on the blog!

Wishing you lots of fun and excitement for your Nature Studies!

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part III

Continuing my personal story of my unlikely journey into homeschooling.

(If you’ve missed the first two posts, you can pop over to read about our baby’s serious illness just days after her birth – Part I and the sad prognosis –Part II.)

We were referred to a Baby Therapy Centre which housed all the therapists and treatments required to treat and help babies with brain injuries, and so began three years of therapy sessions, remedial splints, and ongoing consultations and reports.

Early on we recognized weakness and spasm on our baby’s right side. The doctors and specialists referred to her diagnosis as “Right Hemi” or right-side hemiplegia, but it was only after one year before I heard them use the term “CP” and was dismayed to hear she actually had Cerebral Palsy. I don’t know why, but the label seemed so harsh, so cruel. I think we all have fear and prejudice towards the “different”. I couldn’t imagine how my baby would grow up and become independent with her disability.

Let me say that the only label or report I really needed was the Lord’s.  Every medical report and doctor’s consultation filled me with dread and fear and pushed me into anxiety and hyper-vigilance.  Instead, the Lord spoke to me in His gentle love and care, and He filled my heart with hope and peace.  He helped me focus on “one thing” at a time.  He encouraged me to live in the “now” moments with my child and not worry about the future.  I wish I could say that this was my permanent state of heart, but it was the only way I could cope as we went through many valleys, peaks, and plateaus.

Using the new orthopedic thumb splint

By now I realized that I followed an “Attached Parenting” style.  I attributed this mainly due to my breastfeeding years and the amazing mentoring and excellent parenting books I read in the La Leche League library.  I wore my baby in a sling and chose to nurture and respond to her every need with care and love.  

After three years, the Baby Therapy Center referred us to private occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and speech therapists, as our child was no longer considered a baby.  We continued regular therapy over the following nine years.

Our daughter was a bright, chatty, young toddler. She was beautiful, vivacious, intelligent, creative, fun, strong-willed, sensitive, loyal and spiritual. I loved my days with her!

My child continued to meet her milestones and, praise the Lord, showed no signs of learning or speech delays.  We attended a toddler’s play group and we enjoyed monthly play dates with our antenatal moms’ group.  Homeschooling was a very vague option, but I felt that my child would cope in mainstream schooling, so I didn’t look into that aspect at all.  Little did I know how gently the Lord would lead me into that role.

To be continued in Part IV.

Blessings, Nadene

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Sketching Again

Recently I shared that I had lost my inspiration and that somehow I had lost the joy in my sketching.  Truth be told, I actually hated my own recent art work.  Every attempt seemed so childish, colored-in and flat.  It wasn’t the lack of inspiration, but the lack of style.

I love pinning ideas and finding artists who inspire me on  Pinterest and Instagram posts.  There is an endless stream of amazing sketches and art, but the result of all this influence is not helpful to developing one’s own art.

You need to create your own art to find your own creative style. 

My 17-year-old daughter’s advice to me was to try a new art medium or technique.  This is very helpful, especially if you just play around without an end product in mind. I suppose recovering from lost art inspiration is a bit like horse riding after a fall; you need to get straight back up and ride again.   But in the end, finding art inspiration and personal style is like the Nike slogan ~ “Just do it“.

During a quiet spell this past weekend and this week, I pulled out my sketchbook, downloaded the Doodlewashed September “Simple Pleasures” prompts and began again.

My first attempts were not too bad, but I found that, as I sketched daily, I rediscovered something in my style that I liked, and the joy returned.  I loved the simple pleasure of sketching and painting.  I loved the quiet, right-brain activity.  And I enjoyed my art again.

While still finding my new artistic joy, I want to encourage you, moms, to also make the time to sit and sketch weekly.  You need times of creativity.  Join your children in the weekly Sketch Tuesday topic, or sit and create a nature journal page (prompts at the bottom of the post) each week.  It is so restorative.

Charlotte Mason called it “Mother Culture“; spending time learning and growing.  Spend regular time reading your own book list, creating art and journaling in nature; all part of your personal growth portfolio.

May I encourage you if you haven’t done any sketching for a while ~  Start again,  Just Do It!

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part II

Continuing my story of my unlikely journey into homeschooling from Part I …

Following our newborn baby’s diagnosis of meningitis and a brain bleed, we went into deep shock. It was the only time I saw my husband actually sob.

I spent eleven days in the hospital with my baby, now in the children’s ward, where there were five other meningitis cases, caring for my tiny, sick, newborn baby and trying desperately to learn to breastfeed.

Hospital life is interrupted, clinical, medical and full of fear.  Not the nurturing, calm and private bonding post birth experience I had dreamed for and that my hormones absolutely craved!  I almost gave up breastfeeding because my drugged and sick baby couldn’t latch properly.  I had cracked nipples and a bad case of milk fever, but a La Leche League consultant came and talked me through all my difficulties and supported my decision to keep trying to feed my baby despite all the obstacles. I am so grateful for her help as we went on to breastfeed for two years.

We were referred to pediatric specialists who told us of all the possible damage the brain bleed and meningitis could cause. The news was dreadful. The pediatric neuro-specialist referred to her diagnosis as right-side hemiplegia or right-side paralysis.   There were fears of possible learning and speech problems.  I was gutted.

My hubby and I immediately found ourselves in separate camps trying to cope with this news; he was quiet, withdrawn and in denial, and I began a frantic search for options, help, therapy, support, and interventions.  I think that I was determined to help my child and nothing was going to be too difficult.  I resigned from my teaching position and so I began my new role of stay-at-home-mom-on-a-mission!

To be continued in Part III.

Blessings, Nadene

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Homeschool Beginnings Part 1

Many of my readers have followed me for several years, but don’t know how I started homeschooling, and some of you are fairly new to Practical Pages, and so I thought I would share my personal testimony of how I stumbled into homeschooling and the amazing journey that it took us on.  It’s a long story, but I will break it up into bite-sized pieces, so please come back each week for the next post in the series.

Homeschooling was not even on my radar.  Before I had my own children, I hardly knew anyone who homeschooled, and I probably thought those who did were strange.  I was devoted school teacher and glibly thought I would continue teaching again after taking a year’s maternity and paid leave, But the Lord had other plans.

My first daughter’s birth was a precipitous, premature, hospital delivery. She was tiny, needed to go under lights and so we stayed in the hospital for five days.  After just four days at home, she developed a very high fever and screamed all night. Early the next morning we were at a pediatric hospital.  The traumatic diagnosis following a spinal tap and brain scans was that our precious baby had meningitis and had a brain bleed.

Of course, I immediately resigned from my teacher’s position, right in those first few weeks following her illness, when I realized that I had a very important job helping my child.  And so began a very different journey of motherhood and parenting, and one that would lead me, very naturally, as it seems to me now, into homeschooling.

To be continued in Part II.

Blessings, Nadene

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Famous Music Quotes Copywork Pages

Introducing new free Famous Music Quotes for Copywork ~

I have created a collection of 50 Famous Music Quotes copywork pages, in separate print and cursive downloads.   This bundle contains one Famous Music Quotation copywork sheet a week for a whole year!  

These copywork pages also include a personal response or interpretive writing prompts, offering you a power-packed application if you follow Charlotte Mason’s 3 copywork stages ~

I.  Copywork (Grades 1-2) is simply copying a passage ~

  • copy carefully & slowly,  practice beautiful handwriting in context, reinforces the habits of observation, best effort, and attention

II.  Transcription. (Grades 2-3) copying from memory ~ 

  • looks at/ studies the word in the passage, then writes it from memory, and double checking his spelling right away

III. Dictation (Grades 4–12) an advanced skill of writing out the prepared passage as the parent or teacher dictates it to him ~

  • The child studies the passage ahead of time, taking note of the spelling, punctuation and capitalizationParents dictate the passage phrase by phrase.

Here are your free Famous Music Copywork pages ~

Pop over to my Copywork Pages for all my other free downloads.

Blessings, Nadene

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Offer a Learning Buffet

We all have unique learning styles.  Recognizing that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, it is important, especially when homeschooling your children, that you tailor-make your child’s learning experience.  

Homeschool mom, please ditch the bland, boring, uniform “school lunch plate” teaching style and look for ways to lay out a tempting, tantalizing learning buffet — offer your children a delightful range of choices so that they can express their learning with delight and motivation!

 

As you plan, think ~

“What different ways can  my child approach this? ”  OR

“How can I present different options for my child to best express their learning?”

There are 3 basic learning styles ~

  • Visual (Looking) ~ prefers images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information,  uses illustrations, maps, graphs, diagrams, graphics, uses colored highlighters to mark notes, enjoys reading posters and charts, infographics, flow charts, mind maps, watches educational videos
  • Auditory (Hearing) ~ learns through listening, needs to hear or speak, listen or create recordings, listens to audio books, listens to explanations, needs quiet surroundings, use headphones or earphones to block out noise, may prefer music in background, talks about the work as he is learning
  • Kinesthetic (Doing) learns best when physically active, uses his body and sense of touch to learn, like sports and exercise, likes to move while thinking, uses hand gestures and body language to communicate, fidgets, should sit on an exercise ball instead of a chair,  acts out explanations, enjoys physical construction, handcrafts, origami, Lego,and handcrafts

But there are several other unique learning preferences such as Intrapersonal (Solitary), Interpersonal (Social), Linguistic (Language), Musical (Song & Music), Mathematical (Logical), Naturalistic (Nature), which I will share in detail in another post.

 

Essentially, you need to know your child’s learning style in order to present options that they will enjoy.  

I recently looked at some of the online quizzes to help you find your and your child’s learning identity ~

Instead of insisting on exactly how you think a child should present their work, rather offer a variety of options, and allow the child to makes their own choices, so that their attitude and approach to their work is creative, motivated and unique.  

Think of preparing a buffet meal instead of a set menu!

Recently I created a Narration Ideas Booklet with over 100 narration ideas and templates.  Most of these options are birthed out of the understanding of different learning styles.  This booklet is available on my Packages Page and will help you offer a vast range of learning opportunities.

I hope that this post inspires you to explore your child’s learning identity so that you can facilitate and present them with options that best suit their learning style.

Blessings, Nadene

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Using a grid to draw

In our Art Appreciation lessons we love to copy great art works and images.  An easy way to accurately copy pictures is by using a grid.  Here are some of our Peerneef artworks we painted using a grid ~

Instead of drawing the grid from scratch each time, I created transparent grid lines on MSWord in several sizes which you can lay over any image.  Here’s your free download ~ Transparent grid

To create your own grid over a picture  do the following ~

  1. Download and save the Transparent Grid to your computer.
  2. Open a new Word document.
  3. Insert the image you want to use for your art work.  You need to click”Wrap Text” on the top menu and select “In Front of Text” so that you can freely move and position your image.
  4. Open the Transparent Grid doc and select and copy the grid size best suited for your image. (Use the very small blocks for very detailed pictures, or the large grid blocks for larger shaped images)
  5. Paste the grid over your image and position as needed.
  6. Save.
  7. You can work directly from your computer screen onto your own art paper or print out your image with the grid.

Here’s an important CHEAT ~ You can create a pencil sketch of your image using the free photo editing package “Picasa“.

Open the image in Picasa, select the blue icon “Even more fun and useful image processing” button, click the “Pencil Sketch” option, and “Save as”.  Now insert this outline image in your grid for even easier copying!

Prepare your own art page and create a grid to match your printout, in the same ratio of blocks across in rows and down the side, but these blocks can be larger than your printout if you want to enlarge your image.  In other words, if your grid image has 4 blocks across and 5 blocks down, then your art page should also have 4 across and 5 down.  If the printout grid lines are 2 x 2 cm, you can create your art page grid lines 4 x 4 cm (or larger) so that your new image is larger and fills your art page.

Now you are ready to sketch the image on your grid printout or on your computer screen.

  • Work block by block, copying the lines, angles and shapes in that block.
  • Use where the shapes intersect the grid lines as your measure.
  • Work with the large shapes first and then add the details.
  • Once you have your outline, gently erase the grid lines and you are ready to paint!

But there is an easier way! Art Tutor has an excellent Grid Tool that does this all for you ~ http://www.griddrawingtool.com/   Simply follow the step-by-step tutor and download and save your grid image to your computer.

So now you can recreate any image or picture on your page using the grid lines as guides to make your own art!  Enjoy!

Blessings, Nadene

Lost Inspiration

I love sketching and creating a weekly entry in my nature journal, but I haven’t touched my art supplies for over 2 months.  I wondered if I had lost my creative inspiration. How had that happened?

As I pondered the reason for my lack of art, these changes came to mind ….

Feeding our bull and weaned calves

We live on a remote mountain farm in a semi-arid area called the Klein Karoo, and have been in the grip of the worst drought in living memory. We have had to supplement feed our cattle completely since March this year and it is a labour-intensive affair. Our whole family have all pulled on our boots and climbed in the Landy to help my hubby every day and especially on the weekends when our worker takes his weekend off. It would seem natural that I would not sit happily sketching and painting in my free time, especially when there is hard, physical work to be done.

My herb and vegetable garden earlier this winter …

The drought affected my gardening and I could barely manage keep my veggie garden going through the winter. My pretty rose garden withered and died back. Full-grown trees died, and about 4 other trees blew over in a terrible wind storm. I was definitely not inspired on my nature walks when I went outside.

I recently decided to re-landscape the rose bed and I transplanted several rose bushes in a smaller cluster while they were in their winter dormancy.  I also transplanted several plants dying in other neglected garden areas to this focused garden bed. I hope to carefully water this smaller area and keep them alive.  I suppose I could have journalled these changes in my nature journal, but I was simply too tired.

Off to prune pomegranate trees

With our livestock farming under stress, we decided to make full use of a neighbouring farmer’s offer to prune his pomegranate orchards and use the cuttings to create our own pomegranate plants. We spent the last week pruning, cutting slips and planting over 5000 plants. Back-breaking and hand-cramping days.

At the end of April, my 17-year-old daughter graduated homeschool and she is transitioning through her options for the rest of this year.  This is a difficult phase to navigate.  On one hand, we recognize that she has been very isolated and protected, while on the other, she has worked very independently as a homeschooler.  Even so, we as parents have struggled to let her go even though we know that this is exactly what she needs and wants to do.  I suppose this phase has been tough for me emotionally.

We all go through seasons. This has been a physically hard and barren season, which has literally dried up my time and energy, which in turn, dried up my art and creativity.

Snow on our mountains!

Thankfully, just in this past week, miraculous rain and snow has fallen, and the drought seems to have almost broken. While it will take months for the fields and grass to recover, and we will still have to supplement feed our livestock, there is hope in the air and in our hearts.

It seems that my art and creativity are linked to regular watering of my spirit and soul. Perhaps my sketching and painting will bud and fruit sometime soon again ….

The Lord is faithful to keep us, even in dry and weary times.

What inspires your art and creativity?

Wishing you every blessing in whatever season you are in, Nadene

5 Things to do when you start homeschooling after a break

The start of a new homeschool year is just weeks away for many of my readers.  Here’s What Worked for us when we started homeschooling after a long break ~

1.Prepare

Start with a basic overall year plan for each child.    I like to plan my year with a page for each month, listing each subject and I break down the themes or topics for each month.  This plan also serves as my record of work.  

Print out your notebook pages, copywork pages, and/or lapbooks.  Store your topics and pages  for your work in files ready for each child.  Copy or create an index page for each subject or topic or lapbook activity to go with your overall year plan.

2. Practice sleep and wake up routine

A good morning starts the night before.  Re-establish simple bedtime routines a few days before schooling starts.

3. Pace

Gently ease into your schedule.  Start with the most exciting aspect of the course to ignite everyone’s enthusiasm.  Usually this is the Core reader or spine of your curriculum.  But don’t overdo it.  It is far better to start with short, sweet lessons and stop, leaving your children begging for more!  Short, sweet lessons serve as a wonderful motivation.   Kids love to feel that they can master their work and eagerly look forward to the next day.  Include quick, fun games in your school day.  The Amazing Arrow game is fantastic!

4. Perfect one area before moving on

Focus on one skill/ habit/ subject until it is mastered.   Break down each subject into manageable skills and encourage your child through each step.  If your child feels anxious or overwhelmed with the full schedule, work on just one new subject for about a week before adding another subject.  Sometimes, we focused on just one subject for a whole week to get to grips with the subject matter, the new skill or the lapbook or hands-on project.  Don’t worry about “falling behind”.  Simply focus on the lagging subject for a few days, and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can catch up and flow into a new routine.

5.Read Aloud

Read alouds are the superglue of homeschooling and build a sense of unity and a focus.  Read alouds are relaxing, yet, with a child listening attentively, provides enormous learning experiences.  When in doubt, when if your kid has a melt-down or when mom feels burnt-out, stop, snuggle together and read aloud.  All will be fine.  They will learn.  Trust the learning journey through living books.

I hope these tips help you work through your transition days when you start your new school year.

Blessings, Nadene
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