Running to Catch Up

I started very hopefully. This year I will keep this blog to friends up to date! This year I will write at least one blog a month sharing a little bit of what we have been up to. Alas… I feel as if I am only now starting to catch up on this year that has been running away with me.

School work is going nicely – some times on – some times off – more times unschooling than formal schooling at home. Just the way we like it.

Mr. R centre-back, watching his dancing teacher closely.07-R danslesse

We changed some of the work (that is probably a given in a hs household when you try new work) but only for the better. We are reading Bible stories from our big Children’s Bible. I found that the boys knew a lot about the Old Testament, and have heard some of the things from the New Testament, but other than Jesus’ birth and death, the in between stories got lost along the way. So for this first half (or 3/4 depending on how long it takes), we’ll be reading from mainly one Children’s Bible, but I have to incorporate their favourite Bible storybooks (like the Minecraft Bible book) so, it’s more like 3-4 versions of the same (similar) stories.

For math we are back at reading LOF stories and we are now in Cats. Well almost done with Cats actually, but we have also worked our way through some workbooks the first term. The boys find that they enjoy the stories, understand the concepts, but especially Mr.A likes “solving problems”, and loves doing a couple pages in the workbook, as long as it isn’t every day. Mr. R just completed his first book which covered the numbers 1-30, which he knows in Afrikaans and English, and can write out too! He was very proud when Daddy signed the certificate in the back of the book, and I told him it will go in his file.

Mr.A at swimming lessons, which have now (end April) come to an end.WP_20160201_004

Afrikaans is also a mix between Clever worksheets and reading out loud to them. Mr. A found that he could read the Afrikaans instructions in one of our boardgames, and that inspired him to try the longer words, as well as sentences, which he hasn’t been up to till now. I shuffled things around and hopefully we’ll be playing a board game every Friday afternoon. Well, ok… I’m going to try for once a month! Because you know… LIFE! happens in spades at times, or mundane things like mowing the lawn has to happen before you can pull that game closer.

The boys have almost completed their 2nd English alphabet workbook, and then I’ll only concentrate on reading out loud. Luckily Fred have those Beginning Readers, of which we have the first two sets. They love it. Easily understandable and a nice start on reading by sight, which teaches them the different sounds that a letter can make. I do see that they have picked up a couple of sight words in their games and the Fred books already, and both learned the STOP sign/word from Fred. So yes, every time we drive up to a stop street, they tend to call out “STOP sign! You have to stop!”

At a friend’s farm – in their river. Some swimming “au naturelle.”07-plaas rivier

Mr.A spent nearly the whole of March and April afternoons and evenings to look up YouTube videos on oceans and ocean creatures. He especially found those of Jonathan Bird fascinating! Every opportunity he got, he would tell us, friends, his riding teacher, his swimming teacher (any one!) something new he has learned about sea creatures. One afternoon we made an ocean backdrop with a cardboard pack I bought at the local Spar, and the two of them took out all their plastic animals and spent another week or so on this set.

So yes, in between school work there has been a lot of book orders. I started importing IEW Fix-It Grammar as well, and am looking at their Primary Arts Language: Reading for the boys for later as well.

What else? A lot of exercising for myself – I joined Nerd Fitness last year, and have lost a lot weight, but also gotten stronger and made some wonderful friends all over the world. More on that, I have been using some of hubby’s weights at home, walking, body weight exercises, keeping on Banting as a eating way of life, but now in May I will be joining Mr.A with riding lessons. Yes, after 15 years I will try to ride a horse again. Luckily his teacher is very patient. I apologise if I am repeating myself.

Life is happening all around the whole time, as usual, and we are privileged to be able to take it one day at a time.

Mr.R clowning around for/with a friend.14-Rocco-clown

There are so much more news, but it will have to wait for the next update. I don’t promise, but will try for before end of May 2016.

God bless


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Curricula for 2016

There are some changes to next year’s books, just to liven things up, make it a bit more interesting. Mr. A specifically asked for books that have activities or problems to solve. Luckily I can oblige him. We’ll also be sticking to no more than 2hrs work at the most in a morning.

Bible Study

We have two or three stories left in the Bible Activities book. Both boys enjoyed the stories and activities tremendously, with the difficulty-level being on par to easy, for Mr.R and much too easy for Mr.A, but it was fun. And they definitely remember the stories, which is the point!

Next year we’ll start with Smart Draw for K-3 focussing on the New Testament and (copy-)drawing a picture for each Bible book.


If we finish Smart Draw before the end of the year, we’ll continue with Uncovering Bible Treasure which you can download for free. It is aimed at children 8-12yrs, and is: “A Bible activity book to help children grasp the basic truths of Scripture and give them a desire to study and understand the whole Bible.”


To oblige Mr.A’s request for “activity books” I’m replacing the last “letter groups” that he has to learn in Omvattend Afrikaans, with Smile books that focus on these making use of short stories and activities.

Mr. R will work in books 1 and 2, while Mr. A will work through books 3 and 4. Then on to some Clever worksheets that I’ve had bound in a book for each. We will pick up in Omvattend Afrikaans again in the Poetry section, from where we’ll focus on plurals, diminutive forms, grammar, etc. There are still some readers left to get through as well.


They absolutely loved Easy Peasy Getting Ready 1 this year. We have a wall full of pictures they decorated representing each letter in the alphabet. Next year we’ll revise the sounds for each letter making use of The Magic Key Alphabet Book. We’ll continue with South African CAPS English language book 1 and 2 to learn sight words, and of course the other new favourite: Life of Fred Beginning Readers. These are the books that I import to South Africa and kids are really crazy about them. We had to take the readers with us to Sabie, when we visited granny C, so that I could read it to them there as well.

LOF books


Again sticking with what they love and also works! Life of Fred math books and Edupeg. We are learning so much more in the Fred books than just math, and this often leads to questions and topic searches after finishing our “morning work”. In the evening, Daddy B has had to look up many topics on YouTube for them, that originated from Fred.

Life Skills

I was gifted a South African Gr.2 CAPS book which we’ll work through. To be honest, we have covered most of these topics, but I think they’ll enjoy a little sticker fun and “oh, we know this” moments. And of course then we can officially “tick it off” *roll-eyes here*.

Interest Based: Mystery of History

We’ll continue where we’ve left off with MOH1. They enjoyed the hands-on and experiments, which again lead to a lot of questions and Daddy B having to do his share with YouTube videos in the evenings.

Sport / Extra-Murrals

I hope to get them places in swimming lessons in the first term, just to catch up on style and swimming properly again. Playball is also compulsory in our eyes, as that teaches them basics about sport, hand-eye, foot-eye, balance skills which they need. Otherwise Mr. A is set on continuing his riding lessons, wanting to jump, trot, and canter by himself. Mr. R has his heart set on dance lessons. Luckily there is a lady close to us offering modern dancing, but it is a basic introduction to dancing: ballet, skills, fitness, etc. if I understand things correctly. I think big charmer Mr. R will enjoy being the only boy amongst a couple of girls.

And that is all she wrote, folks. Hope you’ll stay tuned next year.


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Another Year Gone…

I know I don’t update regularly… time and days just seem to rush past, so here I am again, close to the end of the year. A little more than 11+ days, because the boys only count to Christmas day – the rest isn’t that import to them at the moment (I wonder why?).

Christmas in South AfricaSo what have we been up to in the last couple of months?

  • They finally started fixing our roof (in May!) after the February hail storm.
  • A lot of life happened with kids, friends, and just stuff.
  • Faced my fear of heights and climbed most of the way to the top of a climbing wall.
  • Mr. R got a new hamster, so lots of learning and watching.
  • Hubby (and I) completed the outside garden/storage room.
  • Second meeting with the Dept. of Basic Education for South Africa.
  • Visited granny C. in Sabie.
  • My step-sister died in a car accident. It threw me totally off-balance and I just couldn’t get things back in line for a while.
  • Back room project: removed everything from the back room to repaint. Hubby built us new shelves (one whole wall!), and I had to paint, sort and put all the books back.

Full wall shelves. Cupboard for sewing stuff, arts & crafts, and a sewing table to my right (not in picture)

  • Passage: above remodelling flowed over to the passage which I also repainted. Took the time to change the photos.
  • Main bedroom: only painted one wall to see whether I like the blue colour. Love it! Planning on doing the rest next year!
  • Granny C came down for the Amashova Cycling race again. The boys and I enjoyed the morning on the beach, while granny and daddy cycled.

A beautiful morning on the beach.

  • A lot of discussions with group for Dept. of BEd.
  • Mr. A’s 9th birthday! Because he chose very expensive gifts (huge Lego set and a specific computer game), he couldn’t have a party this year.
  • LOF Book orders need a drastic change as it has grown tremendously. I am so, so humbled by the support of the parents ordering books from me. Have their support and encouragement to expand the Book Orders to bring new products in.
  • Added IEW’s Fix-It! Grammar to the import list. My Facebook group is called LOF BEAR SA (lofmathsa link), but I’m doing business under BEAR Books. So privileged as I have some more products lined up. Information page to be added soon!
  • Joined Nerd Fitness Group during the year and participated through out all the challenges. Only this last challenge was a bit much with all the personal and business issues thrown in. So slacked off. Will start again in January.

Happy Tails dolphin cake for Adam’s 9th birthday!

And education wise: The books we used

  • Bible Study was just basic this year, concentrating on introducing new bible stories to them, and underlying meanings. Both take “learning about God” very seriously, with Mr. R declaring a couple of times that he loved God, and wanted to make Him happy. A mum couldn’t ask for more.
  • Mr. A has gone from just starting to read Afrikaans, to nice, almost fluent reading including 4 and 5 letter words we haven’t revised or learned. His spelling is great! His writing is coming along nicely, and his comprehension of stories, poems, songs are just excellent. Even though we haven’t covered the whole of Omvattend Afrikaans 1 yet, he completed other activity books in-between, as well as things on his own (writing stories and walking around spelling words out loud). We did a lot of repetition, but I’m satisfied that he has a solid base and definitely isn’t struggling recognising letters or double sounds, etc. any more.
  • Mr. R was supposed to just learn his Afrikaans letters and sounds this year, but he has done a lot of writing as well (when he felt like it!) and even picked up some of the sight words! He definitely learns different to Mr. A, using auditory and kinaesthetic ways, rather than picture visuals and repetition.
  • Math was also great this year. Both boys love Fred, asking for me to repeatedly read the stories! We ended up doing a lot more Edupeg than Fred though, because they went through a competing phase where they tried to see who got more of their answers right. However, you can’t get more than 10/10, so its a tie! I guess next year will be more of the same.
  • They really picked up on the English sounds, knowing the alphabet from what they learned in Afrikaans. Because most of the stories we read and watch are English, it isn’t surprising to us that their English is going faster and is actually better (BIG vocabulary, expressions, etc.) than the Afrikaans. They just loved Easy Peasy Getting Ready 1 and we have only the last 4-5 letters to finish. We added the LOF Beginning Readers set 1 and 2 to the mix through the last half of the year. We’ll repeat these next year, focussing on sight reading from the middle of the year (or when they are ready) onwards.
  • Interest Based: Nature study, Mystery of History, Geography, South Africa. We didn’t do as many MOH lessons as I hoped, but what we did do they picked up and still remember, especially the sciences. Animals, countries, and cultures, as well as things like volcanoes, storms, tsunamis, and tornadoes, hold a special fascination for Mr. A, and he listened engrossed when we talked about things that happened around the world. Mr. R was (is) more interested in building things, solving problems, creating his own things, so spent a lot of time building with Lego, building in Minecraft, and playing dress up heroes in and around the house. They watched a lot of YouTube videos with Daddy B in the evenings about all kinds of topics.
  • Mr. R went through a phase at the beginning of the year where he just didn’t want to do sport where some one else told him what to do. He wanted to do his own thing. We let him. Around the middle of the year he said he wanted to join Playball again, and also started riding lessons with Mr. A again. He completed all his lessons with no complaint what-so-ever! Mr. A is very eager to continue with riding and learning to jump, while Mr. R is leaning very heavily to doing dancing lessons, with riding just for fun. Playball is a have to from our side, the rest is their choice. At the beginning of winter we did a lot of walking (Walking to Misty Mountain Challenge through Nerd Fitness) and they of course play and jump (trampoline) a lot at home and with friends.

So there you have it in a not-so-small-nutshell!

May you have a wonderful, blessed Christmas Season, and a prosperous New Year!


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MOH – From High Towers to High Temps


Before the commotion of different languages, the Babylonians built one HIGH tower – The Tower of Babel (a.k.a. The Tower, or The City and the Tower). Most of us have read about it in the Bible (Genesis), but there is a very similar story in Sumerian legend: Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta.

Well towers we wanted to build, but not necessarily high, rather stable and solid. We did high a year or two ago, this time we did more free-style.

MOH1-TowerOfBabelThey only lasted until Dad saw it that evening, then the marshmellow-“cement” quickly disappeared.

From Bull Leaping to Tragedy

The Minoans lived on a Greek (nowadays) island close to Crete where they had annual Bull-leaping, something akin to our leap-frog game (apparently!). There are a lot of speculation surrounding their demise, as the whole civilization just seemed to have disappeared.

The speculation includes a volcanic eruption on a very near island, and the resulting ash and debris might have caused suffocation and death on a large-scale.

Of course we had to make our own little volcano (luckily not as dangerous).

18-volcano in orderAgain a superhero had to test out just how dangerous this volcano-action is, and this time a Power Ranger volunteered. The addition of a little bit of red food colouring added to the realistic effect of “lava” flowing out.

I am however, happy to report that no animals, plants or people (real or otherwise) were hurt in this experiment. The plant was saved by the “volcano” erupting to the other side.

Join us soon on our next Mystery of History adventure!


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MOH – Egypt – Calling all superheroes

Egypt had a couple of kings and queens – ok, Pharaohs, who have been well-known throughout history: Tutankhamen, Nefertiti, Cleopatra, to name a few.

During our reading about Egypt, we needed a volunteer to demonstrate the “mummification” process. Only Spiderman was up to the task.


A look at early Egypt and mummification

A look at early Egypt and mummification

An undaunted Amazing Spiderman volunteering for the mummification process. We agreed that for this version we’ll leave intestines, brain and heart in tact, and only concentrate on oils and cloth coverings (which was toilet paper, but no need to further disturb the poor boy).

Writing your name in hieroglyphics was a carefull business, because if your “pictures” didn’t look right, they might just end up meaning something totally different. Luckily Mr.A and Mr.R got it right.

Their idea of what an Egyptian looked like in “the olden days”.


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