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!


Fun Ideas for Creative Homeschooling

Welcome to our 3rd SACH Carnival of 2012!

Join South African homeschool moms

as we share our



fun activities

in our homeschooling.

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

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

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

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

Thanks to all who shared in this carnival!

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

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


Introducing Nadene

This post is written for our latest SACH’s
(South Africa Carnival of Homeschooling) Carnival.
The topic is

“Interviewing You!”

Strangely, this is the second interview we had this past week.  Since our family business launched just 3 weeks ago, it has been like a flood gate opened and the calls, emails, inquiries and orders flow in daily.  We have had to change our answering machine’s message and have trained all the kids how to answer the phone “professionally”!
Landbou Weekblad, a national Afrikaans farmer’s magazine, sent a journalist to interview us and take photos for an article in their upcoming publication.  The journalist insisted on presenting our “personal story” and asked questions about how we came to live on our very remote farm and what led to our Lucerne Tree business.
He even took a rare family photo with all our kids!  Our eldest son was here on a visit at the time and is possibly the first complete family photo since 2010. (I confess that this photo we took and emailed to him because his photo was “embarrassing” to most of the family!)
So much for our family avoiding publicity!
Here then is my interview … with myself [giggle]

Brief Bio

  1. your and your spouse’s names – Nadene and Myles
  2. your children’s names and ages –Step-sons Myles (24) and Zahn (21), our daughters Tess (17), Kate (12) and Lara (9)
  3. how long you’ve been homeschooling for – about 13 years … ever since I had my kids … it has always been in my heart!
  4. whereabouts in South Africa you live – on top of a mountain in the Klein Karoo, Western Cape, an hour’s drive from George.

We homeschool because …

When my first child was born, I still held a permanent post at a public school and planned to return to teaching after my year’s leave.

But at 9 days old, my new little baby was stricken by meningitis and all those plans changed.  The illness changed her, me.  I learned that her brain was injured and her right side was affected.  My commitment to her recovery and treatment was foremost in my heart and mind.

I had always been one of ‘those’ moms ~ attached parenting, breast-feeding, sling-wearing, natural-eating … and homeschooling fitted in with my passion and vision.  So I homeschooled her with 2 other moms.  We learnt so much and loved our times together.  Read the post I wrote in honour of these precious friends and our journey into homeschooling.

Five Favourites! The things I most like to …

  1. see…  my hubby walking toward the house for tea with us, the majestic mountains and panoramic views from my windows, my children playing outside, my chickens pecking happily, the house fresh and clean after we’ve cleaned it, our sheep dogs running the sheep towards the kraal with such energy and excitement, a bunch of flowers in a vase that one of my daughters placed to bring joy, my son bounding out to work with vision and purpose …
  2. hear … my girls singing, their giggles, music, Blue Cranes calling as they fly, Cape Weavers in full song in our trees, rains on the roof in the dry season, frothy milk as it jets into the milk pail, ewes responding to little lambs calling …
  3. smell … fresh-baked bread first thing in the morning, lavender, roses and my gardenia bush in bloom, chocolate cake, fresh-cut lawns, soups and stews simmering in my AGA stove, molasses and ground corn in our cow’s feed, shampoo and soap on my youngest daughter’s skin when I kiss her goodnight …
  4. taste … chocolate, coffee, carrots fresh-pulled from my garden, fresh fruit, our crystal-clear mountain water, food from our veggie patch, home-made butter with Himalayan salt, honey and cayenne pepper tea first thing in the morning …
  5. touch … my hubby’s hugs, my kid’s kisses, cuddles and snuggles, satin, silk, swims in the dam on a hot summer day, cool breezes in our Karoo heat, hot showers and my electric blanket in winter

 This year I hope to … 

Grow … be more Christ-like

Live in grace … especially towards my older daughters

Find balance … in our work, schooling, fun and fellowship

You are welcome to comment or ask more questions in the comments.


Our Lucerne-Tree-Farm Business

When I started Practical Pages, I did not plan for it to be a personal blog.  And generally it isn’t … the names and faces of the innocent are protected , and some family members never feature. But as I’ve emailed, chatted to and met some of my readers (thank you so much for the visit),  I realized that it is personal. My passion is to inspire and encourage others, and that is personal.

Many of you may know these facts about me ~

  • We live in South Africa, on a farm in the Klein Karoo, Western Cape where fynbos & protea naturally grow.
  • We live on a very remote mountain farm, with fresh air and pure mountain water.
  • We organically farm fruit trees, Dorper sheep, black Angus cattle and some free range pigs and chickens.
  • We live simple, homestead lives, growing, harvesting, preserving and cooking much of our own organic food, hand-milking our Jersey cow which I use to make cheeses, yogurt and butter.
  • And we grow Lucerne Trees

20150423_141510Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “What is a lucerne tree?”

Tree Lucerne is also known as Tagasaste, (Chamaecytisuspalmensis), and originally came from the Canary Islands.  The Lucerne tree is a a member of the legume family, a highly nutritious plant, exactly like normal lucerne (alfalfa), except with no danger of bloat and it is a tree that grows for up to 40 – 60 years!

P1140783When our fields of lucerne trees flowered and yielded harvests of millions of seeds in pods, we officially launched our  business — the Lucerne Tree Farm. Our aim is to share our farming strategies and success with others so that farmers, bee-keepers, permaculturalists gardeners can also enjoy the wonderful benefits of these trees, 

1-20140531_163104-001We are all involved in our family business.  My hubby runs the farm, creates infra-structure and plants out thousands of trees, prunes and chips trees for fodder, and prepares trees to sell to clients.  We hand-pick, sift and package all our seeds.  We plant out thousands of seeds into seed-trays or potting bags and care for the seedlings. We cut and chip our trees for wet or dry feed.  I created our business blog and I do all the admin, marketing, orders and packaging and telephonically assist clients.

Please will you pop over for a quick tour of our little website. You can order, ask questions or request a quote on our contact form on the Prices & Orders page.

Thanks for letting me share a more personal peep into our farm life.

Blessings, Nadene

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.

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!


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!


Geography Fun for Carnival #6

It’s time for our 6th SACH carnival

and it’s my first time to host a carnival!

SACH is the South African Carnival of Homeschooling Blogs and we warmly invite other South African bloggers who’d like to join in the next carnival to click the link at the bottom  🙂

To readers from around the globe, welcome, and come and see what South African homeschoolers do for ~

Geography Fun!

Singing their way through their Geography Fun, Taryn of Hayes Happenings writes about Geography Songs. She says,

“It’sCH06 about the Sonlight Curriculum’s Geography Songs CD that has my kids learning all the countries of the world.  Places I’d never even heard of before!  Even my almost 3-year old sings “Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica too!” in the appropriate accent.  Precious memories made while learning together!”

  • We’ve also used this Sonlight CD to learn all the countries of the world in our homeschooling, and I smiled and remembered how much fun it was!

At Trixi’s HomeEd Academy, Trixi posts Geography Fun which is packed full of  wonderful links to great geography sites.  She says,

“Due to my 3rd grader’s intense dislike to textbooks & worksheets, I have had to do quite a bit of research into finding material that wouldn’t be met with protest and this post has some of the best I’ve found so far.”

  • I’ve bookmarked her post to come back and go through all her recommendations.  If you are new to Trixi’s blog, pour yourself some tea and make some time to go through her sidebar.  It is a treasure trove of links and ideas.

Linnie posted Learning Geography while having Fun at her blog Back To Ancient Ways. She says,

“Some time ago CJ discovered the online equivalent of the board game RISK –  Conquer club!  Conquer Club currently have One hundred and eighty-seven plus maps to choose from.  These maps includes world maps, continent maps, countries and even neighborhoods. Thus it was no surprise that CJ obtained a wide common knowledge on the geography of the world, while playing Conquer Club. What a fun way to learn geography.”

  • Her post is very detailed and filled with screen shots of the online game and her son’s personal experiences.

Digging through my Geography posts at Practical Pages I found~  Fun with Maps!

“I gave the girls a large 9 page world map which they had to assemble.  Your Child gives many print out options – print out sizes so large that it will print on up to 64 pages!”

Then we played “Twister” calling out places with right or left hands and feet!

  • Pop over to to the post to read the rest of our fun map activities and websites.
The best fun we’ve had in Geography has been~  Treasure Hunt and Letterboxing!
“Letterboxing is a recognized international activity where participants use clues which describe directions and landmarks to find a hidden treasure box. (Read more here.) Once the box is found, the participants imprint their own personal rubber stamp in the log book, write in the date with their “trail name” and then use the stamp in the box to stamp a record their “find” in their own personal log book.”

We made our own treasure box with log book, pencil, stamp pad and rubber stamp

“Now the girls played Letterboxing!  They crawled under and over things, turned left and right, counted paces, moved forwards or backwards until they found the treasure box.  They made their stamps in the log books and loved every minute of this lesson!”

  • Pop over to the post to read how we prepared and played this fun Geography activity.
Just recently I discovered this free Geography game download:

Seterra 3.0.

Seterra 3.0 screenshot. Click to enlarge!
“Seterra is a fun geography program with 88 different exercises. Learn about countries, capitals, flags and cities all over the world! Examples of exercises: countries in Europe; American states; American state capitals; French cities; cities in Mexico; countries in Asia, etc, etc… Seterra runs in English, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish or Swedish. Each exercise has a high score list to keep track of your progress. A colorful and addictive way to learn geography!”
  • This is a simple, quick download and the game is always available for quick quizzes – even when the internet is offline!
  • Although the games are simple and without “all the bells and whistles”, it is a very effective learning tool.
  • I enjoyed this program with my 9-year-old.  She and I soon wanted to better our times and scores identifying countries.
  • Afterwards I spent about an hour matching flags to countries … boy, I didn’t realize how many there were and how similar they are!  Challenging, but fun!
I hope you enjoy reading all these fun Geography posts.


When there are so many links and sites listed in posts, you could create a Geography folder on your internet bookmarks and save all the links as you come to them.  Then you can visit these later if you don’t have enough time to “follow rabbit trails” right now!

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!

Learning Phonics the ABACARD® Way!

When I started homeschooling over 12 years ago, I used ABACARD® to teach phonics and early reading.

This system, created by © Shirley Epstein and other teachers and artists,  have designed picture clues within each letter shape.  This concept assists memory of the shape and sound of each letter.

“It works because the clue is contained in  the letter shape!”

When my young children showed signs of reading readiness, I put the wall chart on the wall near their beds.

I simply pointed to and read each letter in its phonic sound and named the picture inside it, such as: “a is for apple“, “b is for ball”  and “c is for colours” (using the phonic sound for each letter and not  “ay/ bee/see…”    Then they repeated the sounds and named the picture clue inside each letter.

Each day I revised the previous letters and continued with the next set.  Within 3 days or so, we had covered the alphabet.  At each bedtime and nap-time, we would run through the chart.

I was delighted to hear my young 4-year-old reading the chart aloud on her own to herself as she lay down for her midday nap after just a few days!

Then I took out our ABACARD® cards.

They come in a nifty hanging plastic holder with clear plastic pockets containing packs of 4 of each letter.  My kids loved the colourful jellytot sweets design on the back of these cards.

We revised the letters and then played games several fun games like “snap”, “memory” and “twin and win”.  The pack comes with a lovely instruction booklet.

Then we started building words with the cards. Taking just the letters p, t, b, g, and the vowels a, e, i, o and u we made the word bag. We swapped a and made beg, then big and bog and bug. Using this principle we made up lots of words – my child WAS READING!

When we moved on to early readers, we used these cards to make up the new vocabulary and played games until these new words were easy to read.

ABACARD® is an excellent tool for remedial work too.  Because each letter has a picture inside it, children are less likely to confuse letters!  It is great for kinesthetic learners because they can handle and move each letter.

Abacard are still busy creating their new website, but they can be contacted at or call them on South Africa 0861 67 22 22 or 083 463 7355

Please note:  I do not distribute, sell or receive any payment for endorsing their product.  

Blessings, Nadene

A New Carnival for South African Homeschoolers!

I was delighted to read about this upcoming, brand new carnival!

Hosted by Taryn at Hayes Happenings, she invites South African home schoolers a chance to share their experiences within the blogging community by joining the SA Home Schooling Blog Carnival.

If you’d like to submit your post, race over to her blog for details, because the first carnival is tomorrow, Thursday 23rd June!

Ooooh! I’m excited to meet new bloggers and enjoy the rich diversity and experience of  their blogs!


Making ‘cents’ out of Money

My youngest (8-years-old) is studying money at the moment.

money worksheet

In Maths the child must learn the new concept, and then practice the new skills often enough to succeed all the way through the exercises to gain mastery and build confidence.

Most textbooks and workbook lessons and exercises aim at the average child.

Some children need more practice.

Some need less.

I use supplementary activities to build up mastery.  Children need to repeat the mechanics until they completely understand the concept and can manage some variations of those skills.  (Remember that young children should work with manipulatives to fully understand mental, abstract concepts.)

I love my children to work through their Maths, succeed and say, “I get it!”

Sometimes there is a quicker way and I suggest,  “I wonder if you can find the easy, quicker way?” Often this prods my child to work through the problem more intuitively.  This can lead to discovery.  If the answers are incorrect, then it is back to the solid approach.  But most times, when the child has understood the principle, they discover that maths can be mental and intuitive.

I made these money worksheets to add to our Singapore Maths 2B books.  I also needed to convert dollars and American coinage to South African rands and cents.

So what supplementary Money activities do I use?

  • Work with manipulatives – real coins and notes.
  • Practice bonds of ten – drill work will speed up all money additions and subtraction.
  • Do skip counting in 2’s, 5’s and 10’s – jump, skip, clap, hop while counting.
  • Play shop with magazine and advertisement pictures and play money.
  • Count and stack coins and swap money – from smallest coins to build up to notes or down.

What have I included in these 4 Maths practice pages?

  1. Adding cents to make a rand with 10 cents.
  2. Add cents and rands to make the next full rand.
  3. Subtract 10 cents increments off full rands.

For other South African homeschoolers – here is your free 4-page download ~ SA Money Changing Rands



Sketch Tuesday ~ Zoo Dwellers

This week my girls drew animals they could see at the zoo.

Miss. K  found this lovely picture of a lioness suckling her cubs in our Childcraft Encyclopedia.

She drew this lovely pencil sketch:

(My only tip while she sketched was to find the darkest places in the picture and shade them really dark.

This contrast helped create a 3 dimensional feel.)

Miss. L decided to combine 3 animals she liked when she browsed through our Pocket Guide of Mammals of Southern Africa.

She sketched and coloured a hippo, zebra and an elephant.

(A tip for her was to draw the horizon line in her background so that her animals did not “float”.

Once she drew this line, she added the background and her picture looked complete.)

If you don’t have time for this week, join in on Tuesday for the following week’s assignment!

Next week’s sketch, due, Monday, August 30th:
Sketch something that lives at the zoo.

Make your sketches and send them in by Monday, August 30th and I will include it in the slideshow on Tuesday morning. All sketchers are welcome and there is no need to sign up. Participate as much as possible and make sketching a weekly habit. Send in your sketches in jpg format and mail them to: Complete instructions are found by clicking the Sketch Tuesday tab at the top of my blog.

Ironically, after completing the sketches, (my kids start straight after viewing the slideshow and finding out the new theme), our family enjoyed a rare day at a zoo and spent a “Day With The Wild” at Cango Wildlife Ranch on the weekend.

They offer guided tours and our 60 minute tour through the Valley of Ancients was excellent! Our guide took us through a tropical house and past various animal environments where we viewed some of the world’s most elusive and secretive animals  such as the Pygmy Hippo, Ring-tailed Lemur, Blue Duiker and Flying Foxes (Megabats).

During  summer months visitors can also see the Ranch’s guides hand feeding 3 meter Nile Crocodiles on tour at the Jumping Jaws pool. They even offer caged dives with the Nile Crocodiles!


Image via Wikipedia

The park is famous for their Cheetah Conservation Program and they hand-rear cheetahs.  Elevated walkways allowed us a bird’s eye view of powerful predators such as the Lion, the Tiger and the white Bengal Tigers.

The Natural Encounters program allows visitors to interact with a variety of ambassador species such as tiger cubs, cheetah and reptiles.  Young children handle the young cheetah cubs, while adults handle the fully grown adult cheetahs.

Tickets are valid for the day and visitors can re-visit any area at their leisure after the tour.  For young children there is a delightful petting zoo and play area, a water park, lorikeet aviary, wallaby walkabout and snake park.

We so seldom visit a zoo, so it was a treat to see and learn so much.