Posted in Cape Town - Things to see & do

SANCCOB Rehabilitation Centre- a review

To celebrate World penguin day and we booked a tour with SANCCOB Rehabilitation centre in Tableview, Cape Town.

About SANCCOB

SANCCOB is a non-profit organization conserving sea birds like the endangered African penguin with the primary objective to reverse the decline of the sea bird population through Rehabilitation,  release, care and education.
They offer school and private tours as well as the opportunity to support the hard work they do through egg and penguin adoptions and through the sale of ocean related merchandise.

About our visit

I pre-booked our tour that morning and we headed off to the centre, which is down the road from us.
We arrived 5 minutes before hand, as requested, but unfortunately, there was a school visiting and so our tour started 10 minutes later than expected. We also waited quite a while for assistance as they were busy and then it took some time to fill in the forms. I must admit trying to keep an excited Hamish busy through this waiting period was not at all easy, especially as he saw all the other kids.
I do wish we’d been informed of the school visit, as I would have booked a tour later to avoid overcrowding.
We did not get off to a good start at all as the one guide told us we were in time for the feedings with the other guide informing us that we could infact not watch the feedings as with the school children we were too big a crowd.
Hamish, who was sure he was going to see penguins eat was most disappointed, as was I.
However,  our guide Sim was amazing with Hamish and incredibly knowledgeable as he walked us through the centre.
We were able to see the nursery, learn how long it takes penguins to hatch. See the behind the scenes of how much value volunteers are to this amazing organisation.
The centre has a dedicated washing room, kitchen and vet on site. All to ensure the birds are well cared for and healthy.
Hamish got to see the fish used to feed the birds and preserved a penguin tounge and heart- which we found really interesting.
Lastly we saw the penguin area where the birds are rehabilitated and taught to swim in a colour coded manner to assess when they are ready for release.
All the birds are tagged and in the event of an oil drill the centre has a dedicated space to clean the birds.

My thoughts

It was wonderful to learn more about how this wonderful NGO operates and to see the dedication of the staff and volunteers.
Hamish walked away with so much more knowledge about African penguins.
I must admit I wouldn’t recommend this for young children as it’s definitely a more an educational than an entertaining outing. My recommendation would be for children 8 and older. As there were many moments where the tour was too long and not hands on enough for our busy 5 year old.

How you can help SANCCOB

There are many ways that you can assist SANCCOB
  • Financial donation
  • Adopt an egg, chicken or penguin
  • Shop from their online or on premises store
  • Volunteer your time
  • Donate goods like towels, wet suits, teddy bears for the baby chick’s to snuggle with

Notes

To learn more visit www.sanccob.co.za
Please remembered you need to pre-book your tour.
Prices R60 adult
            R50 child
Posted in Education, Family Life, Parenting

Reward Charts – Do they work ?

There is a lot of controversy within the parenting communities about reward charts. Some parents swear by them and others think that they are a giant waste of time.

Now what would you say if I told you they can be both.
I will explain…

Pros and cons of reward charts

I love reward charts for Hamish. I think that being used in a consistent manner they can help a child reach a goal as they are able to see and track their progress.
I love that they motivate a child to perform better and that often they are just total fun.
There is always a danger in a larger group of children that a reward chart will in fact damage a child’s self-esteem as they compare their progress to that of their peers and instead of motivating them, the reward chart will demotivate and set your child up for failure.
So, do I personally believe that reward charts should be used for every child, in every situation ….no!

Personal experience

However,we have personally had great outcomes for potty training, school work goals, bed training, and reading with Hamish using reward charts.

He is the only small child we have in the house and has no one to compare his achievements with, allowing us to use the reward chart to build up his self-esteem, highlight his achievements and assist him to reach a personal goal.
When I had 6 little ones in the home, things were a lot different. I hated reward charts.
As a family, we weren’t consistent enough to stick to one. My younger children were not motivated to learn from their older siblings’ success and I found the reward charts brought about low self-worth and a multitude of sibling rivalry as the kids judged and compared themselves.
So. I think if you are going to use a reward chart …..
  • Be specific.
  • Consider if it is the right kind of motivation for your child or children.
  • Discuss how the chart does not measure who we are, what we are good at or our worth with your children.
  • Keep the goals short and reward quickly so that your child does not get demotivated.
  • Build self esteem daily through words of affirmation, praise and acknowledgement of good behaviour, kindness, etc so that the reward chart is not the sole check list of how well you feel they behave.
We use these Reward charts and stickers from Tower products avaliable in most retailers.
Posted in Education, Fine motor activities, preschool, preschool curriculum

Best sticker hack for little fingers

A really great fine motor activity is to let your child peel and stick stickers onto a book or paper.

Nowadays you get a wonderful assortment of learning activity books with stickers and they both engage and entertain your child.
We use many sticker books in our homeschool lessons and I often find that the stickers open an opportunity to develop vocabulary and learn more about a subject as your child will question the stickers that they are working with.
A good age to start working with stickers is from about 2 and a half to 3 years but many times little fingers just can not pull the stickers off the sheet, leaving them frustrated or mom/teacher doing most of the peeling.
When Hamish was about 3 years old, I taught him this easy hack to allow him the independence of being able to peel the stickers himself.
Teach your child to bend the page at the sticker and you will notice how the sticker automatically lifts making it easier for your child to peel off and giving them more confidence in their task.
Let us know if you tried this.
Posted in Education, guest blogs, Parenting, STEM

Why you should teach S.T.E.M. to children from a young age By Jonathan Drake, Head of Accessories at The Core Group

The world today is changing rapidly. Technological advancements are unlike anything we have seen before. We have entered the fourth industrial revolution and can only speculate about the future of workplaces and the required skill sets.

 

Children need to prepare for an exciting and tech-driven future, and we need to enable them to acquire the necessary skills to build their careers. The education curriculum is adapting to meet this need by introducing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) in the school syllabus to help children develop creative problem-solving, critical thinking, logical reasoning, and other vital skills. Many early learning brands like PlayShifu are creating incredible toys that help children master S.T.E.M. and all these essential skills early on.

 

However, S.T.E.M. is more than learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. At its core, S.T.E.M. is the process of integrating these disciplines to help children develop new ways of thinking that interlink science and mathematics to technology and engineering and how it all fits into our daily lives. This holistic approach to learning encourages children to experiment with concepts and develop critical thinking, logical analysis, curiosity, and inquiry through trial and error.

 

Although educators and parents are generally aware of the importance of S.T.E.M. and its benefits, until recently, S.T.E.M. initiatives have been limited to children that have demonstrated an aptitude for subjects such as mathematics. Further, funding is often set aside for higher grade levels and overlooking the benefit of S.T.E.M. for younger learners.

 

When should S.T.E.M. be introduced to children?

Children are naturally curious, explorative, and eager to learn. All these qualities are crucial for S.T.E.M. learning. By their very nature, they are scientists at heart exploring the world around them, organizing items, and trying to figure out how and why everything works the way it does. PlayShifu’s Orboot, Plugo, and Tacto offer children a safe and sound space to play, tinker, and learn. PlayShifu’s Orboot, Plugo, and Tacto offer a safe and sound space for children to play, tinker, and learn.

 

Introducing children to S.T.E.M. experiences helps establish a critical foundation early on and fosters a positive attitude towards learning. Children as young as three can be introduced to S.T.E.M. learning as suggested by the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Next Generation Science Standards, and International Standards for Technology in Education[1].

 

What are the benefits of introducing S.T.E.M. at an early age?
From language development to collaborative learning, there are several significant benefits to introducing S.T.E.M. to children at an early age. The most pertinent benefit is that it prepares them for the workplace of the future. According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, non-S.T.E.M. occupations are predicted to grow by 5% between 2018 and 2028, while the number of S.T.E.M.-related jobs are expected to grow by 9%, creating 10.6 million jobs[2].

 

Children who are introduced to S.T.E.M. early on could perform better academically and could pursue a career in S.T.E.M. comfortably. Early S.T.E.M. learning helps develop critical thinking, creativity, and other essential foundational skills. The Joan Ganz Cooney Centre at Sesame Workshop study[3] asserts that closing the gap between preschool and elementary school practices is necessary to prepare children for a better digital future.

 

What can parents do to encourage S.T.E.M. learning at home?

Many schools have started implementing S.T.E.M. learning into the curriculum from preschool through to Grade 12. However, parents have an important role to play in encouraging S.T.E.M. learning at home from an early age. Parents’ guidance at a young age could impact children’s attitudes toward learning in the classroom and beyond.

 

The study from the Joan Ganz Cooney Centre at Sesame Workshop found that many parents felt anxious or lacked confidence in their knowledge of S.T.E.M. and thus found it difficult to implement and encourage S.T.E.M. development at home. Fortunately, more tools like PlayShifu’s Orboot and Plugo are becoming available to help parents foster S.T.E.M. activities at home.

 

How to introduce S.T.E.M. to young children?

 

Many innovative S.T.E.M. toys integrate tech seamlessly with rich storytelling and gameplay that encourages curiosity and learning.  However, screen time is a major concern among 21st-century parents. Extended screen time is known to cause behavioural problems and sleep disorders.

 

That said, the focus of screen time is shifting from avoiding screens to harnessing their benefits as learning supplements, providing opportunities to learn through play, and changing the role of children from being passive recipients of information to participants in learning alongside a screen.

 

PlayShifu’s innovative use of Augmented Reality and tactile toys brings phenomenal educational games for children. These games are driven by hands-on play that enriches and brings new meaning to screen time. They have developed smart S.T.E.M. toys that work in conjunction with a phone or tablet device to help foster critical thinking, grammar, logic, social-emotional learning, cultural awareness, and problem-solving skills. The products have physical components that children can touch, connect, and build with. And the companion app has super fun games that teach children various curriculum-based concepts.

 

The PlayShifu range includes Orboot, Plugo, and Tacto, which start at R899 and can be purchased from iStore, Takealot, and Toys’R’Us. Designed for ages 4 to 12, all the product platforms are supported by free-to-download apps that work with a range of devices on iOS and Android.

 

About PlayShifu

PlayShifu is a leading early learning toy company offering a variety of immersive, educational toys that connect the physical and digital worlds. The play experiences are specially designed for kids ages 4 to 12 years, and build foundational STEAM skills through fun. Founded in 2016 by Dinesh Advani and Vivek Goyal after they saw a need to provide meaningful digital play experiences for their kids, PlayShifu is now loved around the world. With offices in the U.S. and India, PlayShifu products are available in more than 35 countries through online marketplaces including Amazon, and brick-and-mortar locations including Sam’s Club, BestBuy, Argos, Toys‘R’Us, Hamleys, Virgin Media, and Rakuten.

 

To purchase and find out more, visit PlayShifu.com.

[1] http://cadrek12.org/sites/default/files/DRK12-Early-STEM-Learning-Brief.pdf

[2] https://soeonline.american.edu/blog/stem-in-early-childhood-education

[3] https://joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/stem-starts-early/

Posted in Crafts, Education, Fun mamma Rainbiw kids club, preschool, preschool curriculum, preschoolers, Toddlers

How to make a set of nature inspired number flash cards and counting poster for your homeschool classroom

Every springtime the Western Cape show cases the most gorgeous blanket of little wild flowers.

Every open field has huge spreads of whites or yellows or orange daisy and we are blessed to live very close to one of these areas.

Nature appreciation

Not only are these flowers beautiful they also hold an abundance of life in their little ecosystems.

Little ants that scurry about, earthworms underground, bees, dragonfly, bumblebee and beetles all gathering nectar….these can often be missed as we focus on the flowers.

But, I’ve always tried to teach my children the importance of nature, show her beauty and have them understand our role to protect and look after the world around us from ant to whale.

And so before we even started our activity, Hamish and I, first admired the flowers and sat along the side of the path watching the insect and bird life that danced amidst them.

Using nature to learn

Knowing how important it is for me that my children appreciate the natural world around them, I incorporate nature studies and the use of natural materials in our home classroom.

We count out sticks, print with leaves, have sensory play with mud and build with stones.

If we learnt flower parts we did so outside with real flowers. Shapes and patterns were identified in the garden and what better way to learn about the ocean than to be there?

A Pinterest idea comes to life

Somewhere along my late night Pinterest scrolling sessions, I saw a number freeze made by forming numbers with stones and leaves.

I knew I wanted to make this.

But, the stones and leaves looked dull against the grass background …what if we used flowers?

And so Hamish and I took a walk down the road and gathered several little white flowers to start our new project.

Counting flowers

As soon as we got home, I let Hamish cut the stems off the flowers and we started arranging flowers on the grass in the shape of numbers to photograph.

These number photographs have become the posters and flashcards we use in our classroom.

How to make a set of nature inspired flash cards and counting poster

To make your own you will need:

  • Wild flowers ( but you could do this with any natural item- shells, stones, sticks, leaves)
  • Scissors to cut the flowers
  • A container to gather the flowers in
  • A camera ( your cell phone camera will work just fine)
  • A grass background ( although you may want to use a wooden background, sandy beach, mud, ect)
  • Printer or printing facility
  • Laminator or laminating facility

To make:

  • First gather all your flowers. We used about 20 flowers and made two numbers at a time. Reusing the flowers for the other numbers so that we didnt have to cut that many flowers.
  • Next arrange the flowers into the number shapes.
  • Photograph each number.
  • Edit your photographs until you are happy.
  • Have each photo printed. I printed A4 to make the number freeze and printed 2 images on an A4 piece of card to cut into A5 sized flash cards.
  • Have your posters laminated and display.
  • Cut your flash cards in half and store neatly.