Faith mingled with Failure

  • Are you a Christian parent homeschooling your children with an emphasis on developing their faith?
  • Are you teaching your young children about Jesus with a confident hope and expectation that they will come to faith?
  • Are you a Christian parent with a teen that has chosen to resist, refuse, rebel against your Christian values?
  • Are any of your children in a place of compromise, delaying to make their decision to follow Christ?
  • Have you parented as a Christian full of faith, but serve a prodigal child, teen or young adult?
  • Do you need encouragement to parent and homeschool the Gospel message in your home into a faith-reality?

Join Wendy and Shirley of Footprints On Our Land, and Linda and myself, four veteran homeschool moms, encouraging you to homeschool with confidence in our next livestream ~ www.quicket.co.za/events/147771-christian-homeschooling

If you missed this webinar, please email Wendy Young at gaviny@mweb.co.za to obtain the details to pay for the link to the recording.

We are all moms who have precious messages carved into the clay of our lives; our parenting has been sown in tears, watered with repentance, lifted to the Lord for mercy, offered in surrender and expressed with sorrow and joy mixed together.  And the comfort we received, we now would love to share to comfort others.

If you are a Christian parent and you see homeschooling as an extension of your parenting, then this livestream is for you. We are taking an atypical approach by sharing the real side of parenting children who struggle with their sin natures and how we can shepherd them to the Cross where they can make their choice.

Book your ticket at Quicket, and if you cannot make it on the night, you will still get access to the recording.

Blessings and grace, Nadene

3 Things To Keep In Mind

Recently Wendy and Shirley shared on their Footprints Instagram page 3 things to keep in mind if you are concerned about your child’s learning progress ~

These are the questions from concerned parents that often come up ~

• How do I know that my child is not behind?
• What if my curriculum has gaps?
• My (mom/aunt/husband) says my children should be (reading/doing division etc.) by now?

Here are Wendy & Shirley’s 3 things to keep in mind:

1. Comparing your homeschooling with the school system is counter-productive. You are not in that system.
2. You are giving your children a customized education.
3. You are neither behind nor ahead because you are not on the same path!

@footprintsonourland

I would like to share my encouragement to parents who may also be asking these questions —

  1. The school system versus homeschool:

Homeschooling offers parents the freedom to follow each child’s pace and interest which no school system can effectively do. For the average child in school, this may not seem to matter, but any gifted or struggling child will probably “fall through the cracks” of the system.

In most schools, classes are large and the student-to-teacher ratios are about 1:37 for primary schools. Very few classes offer any differentiation or remedial help, and so all learners are expected to meet the same results with the “cookie-cutter” approach. Children who struggle or who are bored often are labelled and this can be damaging to their self image.

As a professional senior primary school teacher with 10 years of teaching experience, there were many years where we could not complete everything on our year plans. There are always gaps because you cannot teach “everything”. There is no perfect or complete curriculum that can provide exactly what every child in the class requires. Remember that children in a classroom are not all ready to learn all at the same time.

Teachers are constantly under pressure to perform and they stress to try catch up, push struggling children through, try to force learning, teach their students for tests and exams rather than to ignite a love to learn and stimulate a child’s natural curiosity. Teachers are compelled to do tests and exams to establish each child’s measured ability. They are expected to evaluate a child’s understanding based on these academic standards.

2. A customized tailor-made education:

The simplest homeschooling, where the parent is mindful of each child’s age, stage and ability, will offer a far more effective education, no matter what exact curriculum they follow, than any professional school teacher can give your child. You are able to tailor-make each child’s curriculum, perfectly suited to their learning style and interest. Parents do not need to tests or do exams because you are one-on-one with your child and can almost instantly assess your child’s progress and mastery.

For new homeschool parents I would recommend you follow a good, practical Maths program and use a suitable phonics program for each child. For the rest, Living books and child-lead interest research will provide rest of the subjects such as Bible study, History, Geography, Social Studies, Biology and Science.

3. You are on your own path:

Every family has its own unique flavour and ethos. Please don’t underestimate the power of reading aloud to your children. Spend quality time talking together about life, issues and experiences! Your children will enjoy a wide, rich and meaningful education.

I pray that you homeschool your children with peace of mind. May you rest in the knowledge that you are providing the best for your family, however unique it may appear.

Blessings, Nadene

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Been There Done That – Ask The Experts – Free Livestream

If you could have 3 homeschool mom’s who have homeschooled their joint 13 children “all the way” around for tea, what would you ask them?

What would you want to talk about, because we have “Been There. Done That“?

I’m no expert, but experience has taught me a lot, and over the years, my approach and attitude to homeschooling has changed as I have adapted to each child and season in their lives. Do you have these or similar questions?

  • How do I teach my child to read?
  • What does a Charlotte Mason education mean?
  • What are the best read aloud books?
  • How do I help a despondent child?
  • My teen needs help and direction, help!?
  • We just can’t get maths to stick!
  • When do I get time for me?
  • My kids squabble all the time, please give me tips!
  • How do I build an eclectic education style?
  • What are our school leaving options?

Well, here’s your chance! Join Shirley ErweeWendy Young and myself, Nadene Esterhuizen, on the 28th April at 7:30pm for an hour of Ask the Experts.

Booking is free at Quicket – https://www.quicket.co.za/…/137828-been-there-done-that-ask-the-experts#/

Looking forward to meeting you all there!
Blessings, Nadene

Khoikhoi House & Village 3D Model

I am happy to share my latest 3D paper model in a series of traditional African houses and villages ~ Khoikhoi House and Village.

The Khoikhoi were nomadic pastoralist indigenous people who lived in the southern parts of Africa and farmed with sheep, goats, and cattle. They traded with seafarers who landed at the Cape from all over the globe for centuries.

The Khoikhoi village was relatively large, and the Khoikhoi lived in round huts covered with reed mats that could be dismantled and re-erected in a new location when grazing in the area became depleted.  Each village had a headman who made decisions with the clans about when and where to move. There was a group that was more sedentary known as “Strandlopers” who live by hunting and gathering food along the beaches of south-western Africa, originally from the Cape Colony.

The 3D model of a Khoikhoi grass hut and village background triorama page (1-page triorama which forms a triangle/ pyramid-shaped folded page) is a 6-page purchase package download that includes both black & white outline illustrations as well as coloured-in pages. These illustrations include clear assembly instructions and some extra cultural details. I included some additional basic historical background information as well as Internet reference links. 

This grass hut template may look complex, but I have designed it so that most middle-school-aged children should manage to assemble the hut on their own.

Colouring-in, cutting out and creating these 3D houses and village models are a wonderful activity while mom reads-aloud. You can view details of the other African houses in the series — Zulu House & Village, the Xhosa House & Village and the San Bushmen House & Kalahari Desert background which are excellent hands-on activities that fit perfectly with Footprints in our Land, our South African, literature-based Social Studies curriculum.

These South African house and village downloads are purchase packages and I really appreciate your support, but I would love to share a freebie with you. Each house comes with a triorama background. A triorama forms a wonderful 3D pyramid shape with a base. It requires just 2 folds and a snip to make, so it’s very simple, but looks dramatic!

Please pop over to my Packages page to order your download. Thank you for your support.

Blessings, Nadene

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San Bushmen House & Village 3D Model

I am happy to share my 3rd, and currently my favourite, 3D paper model of traditional African houses and villages ~ A San Bushman House and Village.

The San, also known as Bushmen, are the oldest native tribe that live in the vast Kalahari Desert regions of South West Africa. They lived in southern Africa long before European settlers and other Bantu tribes arrived. They are nomadic hunter-gatherers, and they set up temporary camps as a family-based society.

The 3D model of a San Bushman grass hut and the Kalahari Desert camp background triorama page (1-page triorama which forms a triangle/ pyramid-shaped folded page) is a 6-page purchase package download that includes both black & white outline illustrations as well as coloured-in pages. These illustrations include clear assembly instructions and some extra cultural details. I included some additional basic historical background information as well as Internet reference links. 

This grass hut template may look complex, but I have designed it so that most middle-school-aged children should manage to assemble the hut on their own.

Colouring-in, cutting out and creating these 3D houses and village models are a wonderful activity while mom reads-aloud. You can view details of the other African houses in the series — Zulu House & Village and the Xhosa House & Village which are excellent hands-on activities that fit perfectly with Footprints in our Land, our South African, literature-based Social Studies curriculum.

These South African house and village downloads are purchase packages and I really appreciate your support, but I would love to share a freebie with you. Each house comes with a triorama background. A triorama forms a wonderful 3D pyramid shape with a base. It requires just 2 folds and a snip to make, so it’s very simple, but looks dramatic!

Please pop over to my Packages page to order your download. Thank you for your support.

Blessings, Nadene

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Xhosa House & Village 3D Model

Last week I shared my new Zulu House & Village, the first in a a series of my new paper models of African houses similar to those we used during our Footprints in our Land. Colouring-in, cutting out and creating models are wonderful hands-on activities while mom reads-aloud.

These South African house and village downloads are purchase packages and I really appreciate your support, but I would love to share a freebie with you. Each house comes with a triorama background. A triorama forms a wonderful 3D pyramid shape with a base. It requires just 2 folds and a snip to make, so it’s very simple, but looks dramatic!

This week I would like to introduce my 3D paper model featuring a traditional Xhosa House and Xhosa Village.

This 6-page purchase package download of a 3D model of a Xhosa house and traditional Xhosa village includes both black & white outline illustrations as well as coloured-in pages. The Xhosa village background page is a 1-page triorama which forms a triangle/ pyramid-shaped folded page. The illustrations include clear assembly instructions and some extra cultural details. I included some additional basic historical background information as well as Internet reference links. 

Please pop over to my Packages page to order your download. Thank you for your support.

Blessings, Nadene

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Zulu House & Village 3D Model

Children love to make paper models. These are a wonderful hands-on activities. My children enjoyed colouring in, cutting out and making things while I read-aloud. We made African houses while we did our Footprints in our Land and built paper models while we studied American History and World History.

Here my granddaughters, Emma, 5 and Kara, 4, are painting their triorama backgrounds.

I decided to create a series of African houses each with a triorama background. A triorama forms a wonderful 3D pyramid shape with a base. It requires just 2 folds and a snip to make, so it’s very simple, but looks dramatic!

Here is a look at the first African house in my series download ~ a Zulu rondavel with a traditional Zulu village and kraal background.

This 6-page purchase package download of a 3D model of a Zulu house and traditional Zulu village includes both black & white outline illustrations as well as coloured-in pages. The Zulu village background page is a 1-page Triorama which forms a triangle/ pyramid-shaped folded page. The illustrations include clear assembly instructions and some extra cultural details. I included some additional basic historical background information as well as Internet reference links. Please pop over to my Packages page to order your download.

Thank you for your support.

Blessings, Nadene

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Remembering Our Footprints Journey Around South Africa

Wendy Young recently asked me on Facebook to share our year-and-a-half Footprints journey around South Africa.

Our journey began in 2007 when our lives had changed drastically.   We had just sold our farm in Bronkhorstspruit and we were free to travel.    I had bought the Footprints On Our Land curriculum to use for all three children and when it arrived I was initially slightly disappointed.  The package seemed so small compared to Sonlight’s!  It all fitted in a Xerox box!  But its size was a blessing, because we had to put all our furniture and belongings into long-term storage while we searched for our next farm, and all our homeschool supplies could fit neatly into a small, onboard-sized suitcase!  Yay for a compact curriculum!  Also, its size is deceptive!  It is a huge curriculum in its range and presentation.

We first moved to the Western Cape and stayed in Carlitzdorp, in the Karoo, in an authentic Cape house, faithfully restored with historical furniture & decor.  Although it had running water, it was off the grid, which lent an even more authentic experience.  Its thick walls, thatch roof and clay finish kept it cool in the hot, Klein Karoo summer.  When we visited Swellendam‘s Drostdy Museum we instantly recognised the smell of our house!  We then stayed with my parents-in-law in Witsand on the Breede River estuary and then travelled to Cape Town for a few weeks.  We visited the Castle and fed squirrels in the Company Gardens, where I had a miraculous encounter, suddenly meeting with my brother who I had last seen 8 years previously before he was transferred to Nigeria.

We relaxed in the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.  My youngest child swam with the penguins at Boulders and Simon’s Town.  My hubby had done service in the Navy and took us to some military towns and places in and around Cape Town.  We had planned to visit District Six Museum, take the cable car up Table Mountain and take a boat trip to visit Robben Island, but I had had surgery and I was forced to take things easy for a while.

We then travelled up the Garden Route and fell in love with Wilderness where we rented a house for 5 months, right on the beach, at the Touw River estuary.   We bodyboarded daily and we spent a lot of time outdoors.  We hiked and paddled canoes in Wilderness Nature Reserve.  We joined another homeschool family and built rafts with driftwood logs which washed up on the shore after the 2007 floods, and the kids sailed their rafts up the Touw River.

We visited the Dias Museum in Mossel Bay, which made a huge impression on my young children, who had enjoyed the book “Caravel to the Cape”.  They fed elephants in the Knysna Elephant Park and boarded a naval vessel docked at Knysna.  We walked in the Knysna forests, bringing our book “Circles in the Forest” to life!  We enjoyed walking along some of the Outeniqua Choo-Choo railway line right along the coast.  We spent a marvelous weekend at Storms River Reserve and enjoyed walks in the forest and walking across the suspension bridge.

Next we took a trip up to Kwa Zulu Natal.   We visited friends in the Natal Midlands and family in Durban.  We visited historic places mentioned in the Great Trek, went to British & Zulu war fields and visited the tiny, but lovely Weenen museum.  My kids all loved Phe Zulu on a day outing to see Zululand.  It was typically touristy, but nonetheless provided a rich experience of the Zulu culture, music and way of life.  Our family loved Durban’s U’Shaka and the Aquarium, and they especially enjoyed the dolphin and seal show.

Our next trip was to Gauteng.  On our way our car broke down and we were towed back to George, but we finally hit the road again.  We stopped at Kimberley‘s Big Hole museum along the way, which was an excellent experience.  Funnily enough, my kids loved searching through the gravel for garnets more than going down into the mine museum.

In Pretoria, my hubby’s father, a retired Airforce man, came with us to the Airforce Museum and Airforce Memorial at the Waterkloof Airbase, as well as the actual military base and accommodation.  We found Uncle Myles Moodie’s name on the memorial plaque.  Having Oupa with us who actually lived and worked for the Airforce, and knowing someone who died in service, made the museum tour very personal.  The Voortrekker Monument was a good outing, and my young and energetic kids raced up all the stairs to the very top!  What a view from there!We had planned to  travel to the Lowveld (Mpumalanga) on our next trip.  We had hoped to visit the Kruger National Park to look at the wildlife, pan for gold at Pilgrim’s Rest, visit waterfalls in Sabie, follow the story of “Jock  of the Bushveld” in and around Baberton and view the stunning Blyde River Canyon views from God’s Window, but our real life decision to buy a farm in the Klein Karoo became our reality, and we moved to our current farm near Uniondale instead.

Here are some questions people have asked me ~

What if we don’t have time for long trips?  Not every Footprints family has the liberty of extended time to travel as we did, but I would recommend taking time off for some seasonal trips or to plan your family vacation and try visit different regions of South Africa during your studies.  Simply start in the areas near you.  Travelling is always a wonderful experience when shared.  Try to plan your trip with another homeschooling family or good friends.  Learning and experiencing the journey with others forms bonds and memories that children never forget.

How do I approach the journey and outings?  May I humbly suggest you approach your travels with a relaxed, informal approach?  I was too “teachy” during our trips because I wanted my kids to get the most out of their experiences, and I dampened their natural love to learn by forcing constantly encouraging them to “learn this”, “look at this” and”listen to that”.   They have since literally hated any talk of going to a museum! Sigh. …. Relax moms …  Let your children learn naturally, make their own connections, form their own experiences.

What was your homeschool routine like during the 18 months?  There were times when we were not on the road and we settled down to days or weeks of “normal” homeschooling.  Surprisingly, I found that despite serious disruptions like road trips and car break downs, we didn’t actually “fall behind”.  We simply pressed a pause button on our schedule and experienced real life on the road instead.  I highly recommend you give yourselves more time by extending the 1-year course over 18 months to give yourselves a wide margin of time to enjoy all the scenic tours and unplanned, but wonderful stops along the way.

How do I plan my trips?  Parents may wonder if they should plan their trips around their Footprints schedule.  It sometimes helps to have read the book before visiting a museum or place so that the outing is connected to the story and becomes real.   Likewise, if your children experience an outing before the book is read aloud, they have a wonderful base to attach new knowledge discovered through the reading.  It doesn’t actually matter, so don’t worry if your journey is not chronological to your curriculum.

What do I need for these outings?  When you travel all you need is a journal, a basic supply of colouring pens and pencils, glue and scissors.   Because space was limited, we shared one set of pencils and felt-tipped pens between us.  Give each child their own zip envelope for collections of ticket stubs, pamphlets and odd finds.  When they have a moment to sit and think later, encourage each child to journal their wonderful memories of their outings in their journals.  Encourage younger children to dictate their thoughts to mom or dad.  My teens are tickled when they read their childhood journals years later!

How did you use the Footprints Map?  Our Footprints map became our lasting visual memory of our travels and experiences.  I pasted all the story book discs, as well as photos of friends and places we visited, in their geographical positions as we travelled.  We charted our travels in different coloured pens around South Africa and the map gradually become full.  I wrote each child’s review and evaluations of their Footprints experience at the top of the map.   I then had the whole map laminated at a printer shop to preserve our memories. Footprints On Our Land was a perfect fit for our family because we could homeschool all three children on the same curriculum at that particular stage of our homeschooling.

Footprints’ living books are marvelous, and the literature-based lessons are so beautifully interwoven in a rich, wide, yet flexible program.  Footprints is full of South African history, culture, nature and geography, and offers a hundred platforms for outings, excursions, museum trips, exploration and real hands-on experiences.

I wish any Footprints family every blessing as they make their own footprints on our land!

Not Qualified to Homeschool?

Encouraging new homeschoolers ~

A reader recently wrote and asked,
“I’m not qualified as a teacher.   I have 3 young children and want to start homeschooling. What do you recommend?”

Let me start with this statement20140811_125422 ~  YOU CAN HOMESCHOOL YOUR OWN CHILDREN! You are already educating your children as you intimately know your children and adapt to their needs, interests and abilities.  You don’t need certification, experience or qualifications to educate them if you are able to follow some basic principles, and approaches.  If you read good parenting and education books you will gain excellent perspective and understanding on how your child learns and how you can initiate or facilitate their interests and explorations.  Some homeschool curriculums are so well-designed and prepared that you will easily be able to facilitate your child’s learning.

I can fully understand how uncertain and insecure you must feel.  Even as a qualified, professional teacher, I experienced the same fears and failures in my first year teaching.  Here’s my story   ~

I qualified with a 4 year Diploma of Higher Education with subject majors and a specialization in remedial education as a senior primary (middle school) teacher.  When I received my first teaching post, the school appointed me to a junior primary class and I was completely ill-equipped!  I had absolutely no idea how to teach these young, little kids to write, read, do phonics or practice numeracy!  Even with the lesson preparation planned out for me, I had no idea how to actually implement the lessons.  I used to stand on tip-toe to  peep into my neighbouring teacher’s classroom to see how she taught her classes and try copy her in my class!  It was a real disaster!  Six months later, when a senior primary teacher was transferred to another school, I begged for her classes and was promptly “promoted” to senior primary where I flourished!

After teaching at public schools for 10 years and completing a Bachelor of Arts Degree,  I became a stay-at-home mom started homeschooling my young children.  All my years of teaching experience and study did not help me.  In fact it was a hindrance!

My first homeschooling year looked like “school-at-home” and I rigorously implemented Sonlight’s  packaged curriculum.  I religiously stuck to their schedule, and stressed and juggled to try implement the 3 separate cores I bought for each child and we all nearly burnt out!  Wonderfully, during this first year I also read amazing education and parenting books and slowly realized that I needed to loosen up, look for the learning spark or moment and fan that flame to encourage my children to explore and discover their own interests and creative passions.

My children learnt despite my best and worst efforts.  Two years later we spent 18 20140603_121902months on the road travelling around South Africa.  I wisely put all the children on just one core and followed Footprints On Our Land .  I learnt that even if we travelled and missed formal schooling days we didn’t fall behind.   I simply extended the schedule to cover 18 months instead of 1 year!  We loved the flow and natural learning that came with reading amazing books, visiting people and places and being creative.

So what do you need to have to qualify as a good homeschooler?

  • Relationship.  Be attached and connected, involved and encouraging of each child.  Know your children, their weakness, fears, anxieties, learning styles, interests, and passions.   This is true for any great parent, even if your child attends public school!
  • Facilitator.  Your purpose is to observe and listen to what they love to do, what they love to learn, and to encourage, initiate ideas, and help them explore and discover what interests them.  Give them time and space to explore, discover, create, make a mess, make mistakes, and make it their own.  Ask them what they want to learn and allow them to choose subjects, topics, books and approaches and then tailor-make their education.  Think of child-led learning.
  • Basic skills. Teach them with short, clear instructions and then let them apply it in their learning.  Give them examples of how to work with equipment, tools, materials and methods.  Show them how to be safe and keep things clean and in working order when finished.  Think of practical life skills such as washing, cleaning, using kitchen equipment, sewing, handwork, use a variety arts and crafts materials.  Teach more specific educational skills such as how to use a microscope or maths equipment .  If you don’t know how, find someone who can and learn together with your kids.  Often my kids find out for themselves in the Internet or from friends.
  • Read aloud with expression.  This may be your greatest teaching tool!  We have always learnt through living books and great literature.  I still read aloud every day to my high schooler and our family loves to read.  Even when everything else seems uncertain and failing, read alouds have kept us going strong.  It has been our homeschool glue!  Start while your kids are very young and just keep updating your library, looking for relevant, engaging books as they grow older.  There are dozens of book lists for children of every age.  Ambleside Online is a free Charlotte Mason education based primarily on book lists for each year.
  • Keep the young years fun!  Avoid making homeschool about desk work, days of dry, dull, long lessons.  Do hands-on activities, play, get dirty, have fun, sing, laugh and play.   Avoid curriculums that require strict marking, tests and exams.  This approach is not necessary until your children reach highschool.  Only in the final 3 years of highschool do you need to settle into a more focussed academic approach.

When buying a curriculum, most new homeschool parents buy the full bells-and-whistles packages.  This is a great help, but I urge you to adapt it and make it fit your family.

Here’s my best advice to new curriculum package users ~

  • One core – try put as many children of similar ages together on the same core.  Some years a young or older child may require the focus of the core, but generally go on a family adventure on the same read alouds.
  • Individual Reading, Maths and Spelling – each child on their own learning levels and pace for handwriting, phonics, reading, spelling and maths.
  • Short sweet lessons – For the 3R’s read how to keep lessons short – only 10 to 15 minutes long.
  • 4-Day-Schedule – plan for one free day to do extras, outings, co-ops, nature walks, fine arts and personal free time.  This will keep you and your children fresh and sane!
  • Start slowly – don’t pile into the full package.  Ease into the program over weeks even months.  Start with the best, juicy parts like the reading aloud and the main core books.  Each day work through this and then add a new subject each week.  Give yourself and your kids time to find your family’s natural rhythm and flow.  It doesn’t matter if some subjects are “behind” for a while.  You can focus on lagging subjects and catch up easily in a few days or a week!
  • Tweak the package for each child and use the schedule uniquely and individually instead of trying to make your kids and yourself fit into someone else’s learning plan.  Think of the schedule as an outline, prompt or suggestion.  It is the general road-map. Make the journey yours!

You CAN DO THIS!

Wishing you all grace and courage as you follow your heart and begin this most amazing journey!

Blessings, Nadene

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South African Artists

New Package Release!

South African Artists Introducing a brand new package ~ South African Artists  Art History & Appreciation study which covers 18 notable South African artists from the 19th century to modern contemporary artists.  Helen Martins This artist study is designed for middle and high school students for Art History & Art Appreciation.   South African Famous Artists will work perfectly for the Little Footprints, Footprints on our Land and Footprints into the 21st Century curriculums.

JH Pierneef We follow a Charlotte Mason approach where we study and appreciate one artist for a month.  Each week we view one new art work and I encourage detailed observations, discussions, further research, narrations, and supporting art activities for that art work.

The download includes detailed biographies, Internet links and at least 4 examples of each artist’s works, as well as a blank biography page for narrations and notes.Esther Mahlangu's galleryHere is a free sample for you to download ~ South African Artists Sample

I highly recommend Willemien Kruger’s Homeschooling Curriculum Guide.com  where she features her mom’s Elna Venter’s booklets South African Art Series For Children featuring several South African artists.

Pop over to my Packages Page to purchase this download.

Blessings,  Nadene