Field Trips! The Sylviavale Heritage Museum

The Sylviavale Heritage Museum in Vanderbijlpark is a really nice outing for all the family. They have a village market on the weekend and sometimes have steam exhibitions! There is NO entrance fee so as a group homeschoolers this was really appreciated!
There is a very nice tea garden with delicious meals. Worth a visit/trip to the vaal


Giant Chess

Giant Chess

Very nice playground for the kids while waiting to begin

Very nice playground for the kids while waiting to begin

Climbing around

Climbing around





Old style kitchen

Old style kitchen






Where are the horses?

Where are the horses?


Learning about a sewing machine

Learning about a sewing machine

Cutting the lawn

Cutting the lawn

Off to the office

Off to the office


Jessica loved this Model T ford

Jessica loved this Model T ford

I can do it!

I can do it!

Toys for Africa

Toys for Africa

Cars r us

Cars r us


The general dealer

The general dealer

Cars at the ready...

Cars at the ready…

Driving - Gabriel's favourite new hobby

Driving – Gabriel’s favourite new hobby

Missing the water

Missing the water

The homeschoolers off to fun...

The homeschoolers off to fun…



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The blessing of Home Educating and Family…

I have been criticized many times over the past few years about keeping the kids at home and the path we are following. It is not always easy. We have some really tough days. As the kids grow, often so do the challenges. But we have way more amazing and wonderful days than the difficult ones.
My biggest dislike of the preschool age is the effort it takes, as well as the mess it leaves. Many times I spend a couple of hours preparing and either they are not interested at all, or it takes them only a couple minutes to complete/hold their interest. A very big irritation is all the cutting I tend to do!

That being said, I have some of my greatest memories while schooling with the kids. What makes makes these times even more special is that for the most part, I have a family that supports this journey.

Sometimes these moments have no planning but are the most special!
Jessica decided this morning she wanted to read from her book Things People Do. She wanted to read about the doctor and the new babies. My mother, their ‘Nanny’, thankfully took over the reading. The next thing I know the kids had gotten hold of the doctor’s play set and were treating her for a whole range of illnesses.





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Some thoughts on Planning

It’s already March! Where did the time go!

Some thoughts on planning…

One thing I often see on the web from others educating at home, is their need to provide documentation for state requirements etc.
For the last two years, I have created a portfolio as such at the end of the year, more as a reminder of the year as anything.
But at the begiining of the year, I felt the need to make some effort during the year to do some record keeping.

I spoke to many other mom’s and scoured the net until I felt happy with the idea for  my new system.
It is impossible to be settled when I am working out of several different files/ intructor guides. If we didn’t finish one day’s work  I was paging back and forth.

I now have a planning/record book:

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On the left I have Elijah’s records. The right page has Jessica and then Gabriel’s records. I am finding it very useful for the Gabriel, to make sure I am doing something for him each day, since we don’t have any structured curriulum currently.


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2014 is here and a new school year begins

So it Begins! 2014 brings many new challenges into the school room. We now have all three children in the schoolroom.

I would have loved to keep Gabriel just on books and play for another year but he keeps begging for “my school, I turn”. So between Jessica and Gabriel – we have circle time and stories, crafts and using learning toys. We are using Sonlight’s P3/4 as a Base for Gabriel and filling in with many arts and crafts, as well as following the basic structure of Totschool from Carisa @ 1+1+1=1.
Jessica’s core curriculum is the P4/5 from Sonlight. I have replaced the Developing the Early learner with Bridging with Smile. Using Get Set for School from Handwriting without Tears and using Singapore’s Earlybird pre-school Maths.

Elijah. He did so well last year. I am super proud of my big boy! This year we are busy with Sonlight’s Core C with grade 2 readers. Their science is really wonderful to use! I took the worksheets and got them ring-binded. I hated having sheets all over the place last year.
Maths: Math U See Beta. I promised myself and Elijah he would have more free exploration time with the manipulatives. Language arts. Although I am using Sonlight’s readers and following their schedule for Explode the code and WordlyWise, I am using All About Spelling (still using level 1 from last year, but have Level 2 waiting). We are still using the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Primary Arts of Language-Writing (PAL). We start Level III this year, and will be stretching it out over the year.

Everything in it’s place!

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We have Moon Dough and a Goodnight Moon sensory box!

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A New Day!

We started off with flapjacks and bananas for Breakfast!


The Class of 2014

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Our first day was really crazy, but had loads of fun. Everyone was in a good mood.

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Spring Cleaning

There are a few times throughout the year that I deal with the tidying up of the school room. Preschool is a difficult stage for me because of the Quantity of games, puzzles, supplies we use.
As much as Love preschool – I hate the messy view

So Tuesday was a public holiday and I decided to tidy up the school room. Well it became a much bigger job than I first thought I would attempt. A total overhaul – and all because of a prayer and a box.

I am standing in the mess of the schoolroom and a box fell on my head. I had so many things packed and stacked. I have a single upright broom cupboard that was storing tins and empty things – there are no shelves in the cupboard so it was never user-friendly.
I am looking around and asking God to help me sort this mess. Bad environment = bad attitiude = not a good, calm place for school.
I am still holding the box and realise this is quite a sturdy box. I also have a few of them…and they might fit in the cupboard …
The boxes fit side by side (three rows) All our puzzles and other games all fit nicely in the boxes. It worked perfectly and I can now use many of thesem where before everything was stacked on top of other parts of the school room and difficult to reach.


Our Preschool area: I recently got the coloured boxes/wooden shelves for a bargain. They are packed with many games and smaller puzzles suitable for Gabriel as well as Jessica! We have mats in front of them and our “Circle time” board on top. The biggest whiteboard attached to the wall has all of our All About Spelling magnets, maps  and other things necessary for Elijah.
You can just see the Yellow table where the little ones sit.


More organised “shelves” and storage. I have a table with a small-ish book shelf on top of it, that was packed but now is much more “smart” . Our sensory boxes are stored on top of the bookshelf.


The desks are in front of the windows (Elijah cannot concentrate if he facing the room and there is not place for us to use the walls. The Preschool area used to blockthe window in the corner but now we have much more light!


I am glad the room is organised this way again because now we have the rest of the year to see if it works for us. It not we have time to change before our new school year.



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Catch up time :)

I cannot believe that is has been so long since I updated the blog.

So let’s get caught up…School: Elijah has been a dream to school this year (once we got our curriculum issues sorted out). He loves Bible, History and Science. His reading has come on so well, we have started Dr. Seuss books and enjoying it immensely. Math is still an “unloved” subject but it gets done and he does it well. Math U See was definitely a good fit for us at this stage.

Elijah always wants to take part in whatever Jessica is doing but I generally have to keep him away otherwise he takes over

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Gabriel is a busy boy with a constantly smiling face. he plays well with his siblings as well as by himself. Gabriel loves to draw (our walls are witness to this) and a scissors is never far from his hand in the school.

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And then we have our beautiful little Jessica. We have been doing theme work but Jessica has some resistance to colouring/drawing and a big issue with getting sticky. She is determined and strong-willed. Am hoping she calms down before her teenage years 😀

Sensory boxes are used daily for both Jessica and Gabriel. They have lots of fun. We mainly use Rice, Shavings, Pasta, Cellophane and sponges, Glass beads, Beans, and Cotton wool.
At least one is set out everyday!


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Her birthday gift from friends that get played with just about EVERY day.


Many of the Printables I used with Jessica are from 1+1+1=1 and Confessions of a Homeschooler

We have eight to nine weeks of school left for the year. Looking forward to a break but will also be stressing about the coming year (I am way too OCD about this!)



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Change is inevitable…

After 4 weeks of Sonlight Lanague Arts, I knew I needed to quickly make a change.
I did quite a bit of research – and weighing up what I needed, included what my budget could afford, I decided on the Primary Arts of Language Writing.

I only replaced the creative writing section of Sonlight LA. The Copywork was destroying whatever hope we had of a good school day. We are starting PAL writing at Unit II – the copywork section.
So far it seems to be a more gentle but structured approach to introducing writing and story composition. He loves their Check-point poster that he uses after he has done his copywork.

Our Language Arts still uses Sonlight LA for reading. PAL for copywork/writing, Handwriting without tears for technique, and All About Spelling. I would have loved to get All About Reading but that is just not in the budget at any stage – due to shipping.

Our day is scheduled like this:

Bible – We are using Sonlight B Bible with a NiRV Adventure bible. Elijah will not let us start our day any other way.
Math – Math U See Alpha
History – Sonlight B
Afrikaans 2nd Language – Afrikaans sonder grense and other resources
Language Arts – as discussed above.
Science – Sonlight B
Literature – Sonlight B


Jessica has very few days where she is willing to do any type of structured activity with me. But I am persevering through. Today was a great day, the first in a long time. She still attends occupational therapy once a week. I can see definite improvement in her development every week.

She has not decided if she is left or right dominant, but I am giving everything to her right hand and although she seems stronger in her left hand for now, I am trying to encourage strength in her right hand. This was something discussed with her therapist.

Some of the Activities/resources I use:

I am mainly using ABC+123Fun from Shirley ErweeNo time for Flaash Cards is a site with great crafts and we follow the Letter of the week from there
Making Learning Fun is a absolute must for our week. I use the magnet pages and various others each week
Sonlight P3/4 – I use various books for reading/literature time
Bible – I use this bible for school time. It includes cd’s of songs for each short story.

Gabriel falls in when he wants. I have put up a baby gate at the door to the school room to keep out the little ones while Elijah is busy with Math and LA. It works 50% of the time.


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The start of the school year: 2013

The year started off quite well. Science is still Elijah’s favorite subject. What was really surprising is that Reading comes second! We are using Sonlight LA 1 with readers 1. The I Can Read It books seem quite nice so far. I was sceptical about what to expect after fun tales.

We have moved away from bible stories with Elijah, we will still be getting exposure with Jessica though. We are using the NiRV adventure bible and find it quite nice.


Jessica also had a turn to do some stuff but the she was only interested in stamps and dancing to the songs.

After school was done (took less than 2 hours for them all) we took a trip to the local Mugg&Bean for some Babychino’s for the kids. (Photo quality is not that great 🙁 )
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The School year that was…2012

As I look back on 2012, I am amazed in the growth through the school year.
Elijah has done so well.  Here is what we did…

Our main core curriculum was Sonlight Core A (2011 edition-since updated).
Did we like it? Yes!
I wish there was more craft type activities scheduled along with the History section, but the couple of things we did were great. The CoreTips CD that comes when you purchase a core was a bit of  disappointment. Links being out of date really irritated me. The ideas started off well for the read-alouds but then tapered off to almost nothing.
The Read-Alouds themselves were great. Elijah enjoyed many of them, although there was a few that we slogged through. A great blessing is Audio-books and our mp3 player.

Sonlight LA K with Readers K:
Did we like it? So-so.
I felt many times that there was not enough guidance. Elijah enjoyed the readers but I didn’t.
In LA I felt so unprepared a lot. But apparently the 2012 has improved.

Science A from Sonlight:
Did we like it? Yes, Yes, Yes
The books/topics were so much fun. This was Elijah’s favourite subject hands down. The experiments were fun and even the little ones were interested in some of them.

We used MathUSee Primer for Math.
Did we like it? Yes
We did hit a few roadblocks. Some topics taking a bit more time than others…but worked really well. I loved the blocks

Overall we had a great year. Here are the photos from his Portfolio/Memory book.

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Softly and Tenderly By Sara Evans with Rachel Hauck

This story had almost too much for me to read it in one sitting.  Maybe it was because the themes were too real? Death, infidelity, infertility, bad decisions with consequences. I have seen many of these in family and friends marriages so it is definitely relevant for today.

The main character has some tough decisions to make and work through. There were quite a few times in the book when I thought, “Yes. I can imagine that.” But I wanted more from certain scenes in the book. I enjoyed the premise of the three ladies on a trip but I think the Husband’s character could have been more developed.
Not badly written, but I just could not get into the book. Left me feeling unsettled throughout.

I received this e-book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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