Saturday, October 30, 2010

Letter B

Here is a summary of our crafts for this week - The Letter B


The Letter B (Part 4)

Continuing our with our Letter B adventures from Letter B (Part 3)

We ended off this week with the most wonderful craft. The weekend before we had a whole lot of fun looking on the beach for some shells which I had planned to use for this craft.

For the flowers: We used pipe cleaners for the grass, stem and leaves of the flowers, buttons for the flower centres and tissue paper for the petals.

We used shells for the butterfly wings & pipe cleaners for the body.

The photos show the different stages of the creation. Enjoy :)

The Letter B (Part 3)

Continuing on from The Letter B (Part 2)

Today we started off with reading the Hungry Caterpillar again. We recapped over the stages of the life cycle & then Seychelle acted out the scenes of the book.

We only had a few props available but Seychelle had so much fun acting out the caterpillar. This was the highlight of her week :)


(The second is Seychelle as a caterpillar in a cocoon).

Then we played a few games using the theme of the book.

The first game was sorting out the the days of the week into the correct order & then assigning the right number of fruit to that day (of course including Saturday being the day he ate all the junk food).

We then played another game.  This was a matching game - Seychelle had to try and read the sentence (with my help) that corresponded with the correct picture. The game was about the life cycle of the butterfly and a good summary and test to see whether she knew the stages correctly. She did very well!

 We ended the day off with doing a quick and easy butterfly craft using a paper plate & a toilet roll.

The Letter B (Part 2)

Midweek we starting reading the book - The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

We talked about the life cycle of a caterpillar/butterfly again The Letter B (Part 1) - using a flow chart that I had made written up the weekend before.

After reading the book we the moved onto discussing healthy food verus unhealthy food (junk food). Using the book we talked about why the caterpillar had a tummyache (after eating too much junk food) & why he felt better after eating a green leaf (healthy food).

I have a pack of food photo cards. We spread them all out over the floor & Seychelle had to name each type of food and work out whether it was healthy or unhealthy. She grouped them accordingly.


I then got a couple of magazines & Seychelle looked through the mags finding pictures of either healthy or unhealthy food.


While Seychelle was doing this fun activity I played the audio CD of The Hungry Caterpillar. (It came with the book we purchased & I highly recommend it).

We did painting today. This one was a caterpillar. We used X3 paper plates and I got Seychelle to choose the designs for each (she copied an example we found on the net) & then I modelled to her how to paint those designs. She loved this painting!


The Letter B (Part 1)

This week we did the Letter B. Our topic was Butterflies.

We had a lot of fun this week! Loads of crafts as usual and we also got to include other fun activities that fitted into the theme.

To start the week off we got out a 4 layer puzzle on the life cycle of a caterpillar. It is a great puzzle and starts off with the first layer  - the tiny caterpillar and ends with the last layer - a beautiful big butterfly.
I used this puzzle to introduce this week's topic.

After the puzzle I read Seychelle the book, Life Cycles: Caterpillar to Butterfly. We spent some time going through each page discussing the amazing journey the tiny caterpillar makes into becoming a beautiful butterfly! What an amazing creation God made.

The first butterfly craft we did was a beautiful colourful paper tissue butterfly. I printed out an A4 size butterfly picture (courtesy of a google search for colouring in pages), then we "planned" out which colours we were going to use. Then we started ripping up pieces of different coloured tissue paper.


We made another Letter B - made up of bubblewrap, with butterfly wings.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Homeschooling an Only Child & the Socialisation Debate

Homeschooling an only child is wonderful!

As I have mentioned in previous posts most homeschooling families are made up of multiple children.
So homeschooling 1 child is quite rare. It has many positives.

Having one child means you are able to focus all your teaching time and attention on that child. Our lessons are very streamlined and flow smoothly. As she is still very young I most of my teaching is spent 1:1 with her. For tasks where she has to work independently, like writing practice, then I will watch her do the first couple of examples and then leave her to it.  I am then able to prepare the next lesson or catch up on household chores.

We have grown very close since we started homeschooling together. She and I have a motto that in our family we work together as a team. Normally she will follow me and help me with all the chores in the house, like putting washing on, hanging out the washing together, cooking & baking together etc. She has learnt that we all need to work together to keep the household running smoothly. She has a really great attitude & we often make games out of our chores, like racing to see who can put their clean washing away first.

Since we started homeschooling Seychelle's behaviour has improved dramatically. She is respectful towards us, kind and loving. She has learnt manners, how to speak to people, how to look after her belongings etc.  She had a number of character trait issues before we brought her home to school - most of these gone. Seychelle in some ways has a very different personality to me. I prefer to rush from A to B, forgetting to enjoy the journey. Seychelle prefers to take things very slowly, enjoying the journey of a task - stopping to smell the roses. Homeschooling has meant I have been able to appreciate her personality better. Before I found this part of her personality very challenging & frustrating - now I am appreciative of her as a little person, with a different personality to me, who goes about life in a more relaxed manner.  I realise that God has given me a daughter who in many ways challenges my areas of weakness and personality flaws. She has made me a better person.

There are many who question the socialization aspect of homeschooling in general, let alone homeschooling an only child. Seychelle is a very social child. She loves her friends. Homeschooling her has not "changed" this about her. She is still developing her social skills in the same way a child going to school would. Anywhere we go, Seychelle is able to easily make friends. Just yesterday we went out for lunch at a local restaurant and there was another little boy there. She confidently walked straight up to him, making easy conversation and being friendly. They played together the entire time we had lunch. Homeschooling has most definitely not caused her any social problems :)  Seychelle has regular playdates with friends & is a very happy child.  In ways we see that our daughter is more confident since being homeschooled. She no longer has to deal with issues of insecurity & fear that she may have had to handle or go through attending school.  She is 100% secure at home, where she is loved unconditionally & is schooled by someone who always has her best interests at heart. There is no-one who can love my child more than I do, as her parent.  Therefore no-one will be able to cater for her best educational interests more so than me. There is no teacher in the world that would be able to do what I can 1:1 for my daughter.  They just simply cannot! The time and focus that I can give my child is second to none.

I remember reading on a website once how ironic it is that we send our children to school to be "socialised". The irony is that when want our children to learn a skill we will send them to a professional skilled person in that area. For example if you want to teach your child to play the piano, then you will send them to a skilled piano teacher. The irony is that we send our children to school at the age of 5 to be socialised by other children of a similar age - who know very little about socialisation. Children and not mature people of social skills. Children need to be taught how to socialise from those who already have skills in these areas- adults. I thought this was very good moot point on the debate on socialisation problems in homeschoolers.

As we are a family of only 3, Seychelle has matured a lot in her speaking and understanding of matters that normally children of her age would have no exposure to. She is a very strong and decisive young lady. She has no problems with speaking to adults and holding conversation at a dinner table. She joins in the conversation just like Nick or I would.  I think the difference with an only child is that they have more opportunities for conversational input, which means she has developed confidence in this area quickly.

Seychele has developed a beautiful caring nature for all the animals in our neighbourhood. When I am busy in the house, Seychelle will spend her time outside playing with the goats, picking flowers, playing with the dogs etc. At times I have been immensely proud of her compassion & care towards animals. Living in Rarotonga has exposed us to many cases of 'in your face' animal neglect. She has learnt to come up alongside me and help many animals in a bad way. (She had to learn quickly not to get freaked out when we see seriously injured animals). She has learnt to look around for sick, injured animals or simply those in need of shade or a drink of water. She has also witnessed seeing her Dad and Mama stand up to people verbally who mistreat their animals. This is something we would never have had a chance to do in New Zealand.

Homeschooling an only child has been one of the most rewarding times of my life. It has brought our family very closely together. It has also given Seychelle the very best education she can have.


Maths in our homeschool is very informal and lots of fun!

We use different books, tools and games.

I have a bright and colourful  1-20 number line on the wall. Everyday Seychelle will count the numbers from 1-20 & then I will point to various numbers in the range and get her to tell what number it is.
 - next to this I have a 1-100 chart on the wall as well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why Rarotonga?

Many people have asked us why we have chosen to live in Rarotonga.
Rarotonga is one of the islands that make up the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands are tropical islands in the South Pacific. They have tropical, warm beach weather all year round.

Rarotonga is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is your typical island paradise. Beautiful crystal clear lagoons, white sand and palm trees.

Many people enjoy coming here on holiday but not many would seriously consider living here.
We were here on holiday in September 2008. We had come on holiday because life had become very difficult and stressful for us. I had personally developed really bad health problems. My pelvis was still causing me problems and on top of all that I had recently developed severe RSI (repetitive strain disorder). You may find it strange to believe that a stay-at-home Mom can develop RSI, but it happened! I had had RSI previously in my workplace, before we had Seychelle. It had become so bad at that time that I had to cease working. Shortly after that time we had Seychelle.

Out of the blue in July 2008 I suddenly developed a really severe case of RSI.

Living in Rarotonga

Living in Rarotonga is a dream for us. We live in a rented 2 bedroom house (the one that was just built). We live isolated near the mountains, with only 1 neighbour (a policeman), yet we are less than 500m walk to the most perfect beach imagineable. We have peace and quiet & a sea view!


StartWrite is a handwriting software program. It allows me to create my own handwriting lessons. I use it for almost everything we do. After an activity I will use the program to type out a short sentence about that activity/topic and then leave enough space underneath for Seychelle to draw a picture.

Sometimes she will copy a whole page of writing.  Her handwriting has significantly improved since we have started using this program. Copying the correct way a letter is written has proven to be very helpful for Seychelle in learning to write letters.

This is the link to the program.  They charge an annual one off fee for a license that you then use to download the program onto your computer.

Handwriting Without Tears

Handwriting without Tears is the program we use for teaching Seychelle to write.

You can add in as much as you want with the program or just do the basics.

We do a mixture.  To start off we sometimes use the music CD for kindergarten level. It has some very catchy songs to remember rules for writing.   This program starts off with teaching children the capital letters, so one of the songs is about how 'you always start your letters at the top'. It has actions & is very catchy. (Seychelle has learnt to always start her letters at the top thanks to the song :) 

The Letter P

This week's letter is P. Our topics were both Pineapples & Pigs.  Both are really great topics for us living in Rarotonga. Our neighbour grows pineapples & we are surrounded by pigs.

Our pineapple craft has been my personal favourite this year so far. It is really bright & colourful and easy to do.


This was a very easy craft. We drew an outline of a pineapple on the paper. Then we used polystyrene fillers, painted them orange, yellow and a light orange. We then used cardboard for the the leaves. Seychelle & I made one pineapple together & then she did one all on her own!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christian? Why do you only have One Child?

This is a question that we get often asked. 

Being a Christian is almost synonymous with having multiple children, so many Christians find it very difficult to understand & accept that we have made a decision to have just one child.

When Nick I first met & went through pre-marital counselling, we were both completely sold on having at least 2 children. So you may be asking, what changed?


Christian Homeschooling an Only Child

Alphabet Tree

Our homeschooling is generally centred around a Letter of the Week.

The Letter D

This week we are doing the Letter D. 

Our topic is Guide Dogs.

The Letter T

This week we did the Letter T. Our topic for the week was Turtles.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Bible is the most important part of our day. In fact Bible (God's Truth) is knitted into every part of homeschooling journey.

The first part of our day is reading from a Bible a chapter. We then discuss what we learnt, Seychelle will recap to me the main events and characters. We then discuss how we can apply it to our life. When we read from the Bible we will make use of many resources to help examine the chapter more deeply.  We then find the corresonding story in our devotional book. We read through the devotion, learn the Bible verse & end with prayer.

Life with Goats

Living in Rarotonga has brought us many joys. One of which is goats. We love goats.

Our first exposure to goats was through our neighbours'. They had two goats, which then became four goats, which has now become seven goats! Libby & Duke had twins in 2009 (KiiKii & Lulu) & triplets in 2010 (Edward & Pax & Duke Jr).

Family Devotions

What are family devotions?

We have family devotions every night in our house. This is the most important time of our day that we spend together as a family. Nick reads a section of the Bible and then we discuss the passage/chapter.
Our devotions always end with a time where we talk about any wrong doing we may have done during the day (most often this is towards another family member).  That person will ask for forgiveness and follow with their own individual prayer to God. This is then followed by a time when we discuss any prayer needs & that person is prayed for by another family member. Nick then prays over our family as a conclusion.

This is a very special time for us. It is a peaceful way to end the day & it brings our family much closer together. As Christians it knits us all closer together with God, as a family unit. Seychelle has grown so much spiritually since we started family devotions. She hears the Word of God fully.  She is also able to witness her Dad & Mom being honest about mistakes that they have made & how we reconcile these with each other and God.

When we first started this it was a lifechanging decision for us all. The peace & the presence of the Lord is very strong during our family devotion time & I believe that this is impacting all of our lives in a very real way.

We were initially inspired by Steve & Teri Maxwell's audio teaching called, "Feed My Sheep: A Practical Guide to Daily Family Bible Time."
The entire audio teaching is fantastic but what stood out to us was how important it is to read from a full version of the Bible. When we started considering a family devotional time, Seychelle & I were reading in the mornings from The Beginner's Bible (a simple preschooler's paraphrased bible of selected stories).

It was quite a leap of faith to suddenly go from reading a preschooler's bible to a full Bible version. How would a 4 year old manage?  We trusted God with this along with seeing the wisdom in it. 

Seychelle is taking in what she understands from each passage at her own level of comprehension. 
We are using the Discoverer's Bible, an NiRV version. Seychelle is learning to sit quietly and listen to God's Word.  She had to learn to do this & it took some time (as she is a very fidgety 4 year old), but the rewards have been great!

Our family devotion time lasts about 15-30 minutes. As we only have 1 child, we are able to tailor the time period specifically to her age limits. Seychelle's attention span at this time of day is at a maximum of 30 minutes. We have found this to be the right amount of time for us. As Seychelle grows older we will extend this time & the amount we read from the Bible.

If we happen to have time after our Family Devotions before Seychelle's bedtime, we will read to her one of Arthur Maxwell's Children's Stories. We cannot recommend Arthur Maxwell enough! His books are old classics that have stories about children who are learning to develop character traits. We have invested in these books and have a few of them on our bookcase.  There are always many to be found at used homeschooling book sales.  They are just such wonderful heartwarming stories & we all look forward to reading them! He has written many volumes of such stories.


Sunday, October 17, 2010


What we are using to teach Seychelle to read

This is a photo of Seychelle when she had just started reading. She started with the Bob Books and hasn't stopped reading since.

We are predominantly using Hooked on Phonics to teach Seychelle to read.