Author: Ginny

Water challenged

Read this title free on the website

Right now those of us living in Gauteng might be feeling a bit complacent because we are not facing a severe water crisis like they are in Cape Town (and other parts of the country)  – but that does not mean that we have water to waste.

We should all get used to using water as sparingly as possible.

Make it a habit to save all those drops that are so easy to waste. Turn the taps off when brushing teeth, do the mellow yellow thing, make sure the washing machine is full before switching it on and ensure that there are no leaky pipes or taps in the house.

That’s the least we can do.

If you are planning a trip to Cape Town, be considerate. Don’t think you can rock up and waste their water because you will have left after a few days and the dire situation won’t affect you in the slightest.

If you are visiting family – buy-in water for your needs and be ultra-considerate with every drop you use out of the tap. In fact – don’t use those taps if you can possibly help it.

Think about taking your own sheets, or sleeping bag, with you and bring them back again to wash. Sounds crazy right? Not really – the guesthouse or your friends or relations would really appreciate such a gesture. You might even get a discount. Organise it with your hosts before you go.

Wash your hair before you leave and make sure you stick to the showering time rules. Even better – skip that shower if you can!

Take enough clothes to last the duration of your trip without needing to have them washed.

Don’t ask for a glass of water at a restaurant – they are also severely water challenged.

So are the shopping centres – don’t assume you can use their bathrooms – many of them are now closed.

Lastly – don’t share fake news or make cruel jokes about the water situation – especially around children.

The other day Ginny’s 5 year old granddaughter, Isabella, asked her mom if they were going to die when their water ran out. It was obviously a real fear uppermost in her mind. She was very relieved to hear that if things got too bad they could always move in with GG in Gauteng.

Be positive and considerate.

Every drop counts!

Sibo

xxx

Stand up to bullies

Remember last week we were talking about how bad bullies are and, even worse, how terrible it is to be bullied?

Here are some things that you can do if you are being targeted by a bully.

  • Get away as soon as possible and move to a safe please where there are other kids and adults.
  • Avoid places where you are alone – hang out with other people. Even if you are not friends with them – hang out near them anyway.
  • Act as if the bullying has no power over you. Look calm and confident (even if you are terrified). You can do this by standing up straight and tall – put your shoulders back and push your chest forward. (Practise this in the mirror at home – you never know when you might need to stand tall.)
  • Stand up for yourself – act as though the bullying is really boring and answer back with things like – So? Yup? Really? And…? Whatever you say! Who cares?
  • Get help from an adult you trust. Tell them what has happened to you and ask for their support. If one person does not listen – go to somebody else.
  • Keep in mind that bullying is about the person who is doing the bullying. Although they are targeting you and it affects your life – it’s not really about you – it says something about the person who is doing the bullying. Never forget that. It is not your fault.
  • Tell yourself that you are awesome, brave, lovable, worthy of respect and belonging. Nobody can take that away from you. Own it. Say it often. Remind yourself all the time that you are fabulous.

If you see somebody being bullied it is NOT cool to just walk away and not get involved either. YOUR SILENCE ENCOURAGES THE BULLY!

This is what you can do.

  • Don’t laugh and don’t encourage the bully in any other way.
  • Tell others not to join in on the bullying either. You can make a difference by encouraging others to do the same.
  • Help the victim any way you can – speak directly to them and say something like “Let’s get out of here.”
  • Show the victim that you are empathetic – say “I would feel sad and angry too” or “I’m sorry this is happening to you.”
  • Encourage the victim to tell an adult and offer to go with them.

Stand up for what is right – even if you are standing alone!

Sibo

xxx

It is not BIG to make somebody else feel SMALL!

In the same survey that was done about how sad South African reading statistics are, they also mentioned that our Grade Four children are among the most bullied in the world.

THE WORLD!

How horrible is that?

There is often some confusion regarding conflict and bullying.

  • When someone says or does something unintentionally hurtful and they do it once, that’s RUDE.
  • When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they do it once, that’s MEAN.
  • When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they keep doing it – even when you tell them to stop or show them that you are upset – that’s BULLYING.

Conflict is normally a disagreement or an argument. Bullying is normally a show of strength or influence to intimidate somebody else, or typically to force them to do something that they do not want to do.

Conflict turns into bullying when there is an imbalance of power. This can come from someone being bigger, older, stronger and more confident or having more friends. Their mean behaviour happens over and over again.

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes – some use their fists (physical) others use their voices (verbal) and in the last few years, cyber bullying has become a big thing too – using the internet, social media, text messaging, e-mail and other electronic mediums to say mean or embarrassing things.

No matter what shape the bullying takes, they all leave you feeling broken and humiliated.

Bullying does not only occur at school either – it often happens at home and in the neighbourhood.

Warning signs of somebody being bullied:

  • Withdrawal from friends and activities.
  • Physical complaints.
  • Worried, angry, quiet or moody.
  • Declining schoolwork.

One of the major forms of bullying in schools is EXCLUSION.

For various reasons kids shun other kids. Often for stupid things like they don’t have cool enough clothes or hairstyles. We all know having a friend to sit with at break or lunch time makes the world of difference.

That’s what the friendship bench is all about. If you don’t have anybody to sit with – you can sit on that specific bench at school and somebody is always there to chat to you and see that you are not alone. We have a roster and take turns to do bench duty – you get to meet all sorts of interesting people too.

More on how you can beat bullies next week.

Be kind people!

Sibo.

Reading CAN make you happy!

It’s time to go back to school again!

I know lots of kids complain about school but I quite like it. I enjoy learning new things and finding out about interesting stuff, not to mention seeing all my friends again. We always have lots to talk about after the end of year break. Sometimes there are new kids in the class and that is cool too. This year I have signed up to do friendship bench duty – but more about that in another blog.

One of the things that really makes me happy is reading. You can absolutely never be bored, lonely or sad (okay – sometimes you can be miserable if the story is sad) if you have a book to read.

I was unbelievably shattered to find out that many kids my age cannot read. Seriously! They did a study and out of the 50 countries in the world that participated, South Africa has the worst statistics. 78% of our Grade 4 children cannot read for meaning. That means 8 out of 10 students can read – but don’t really understand what they have just read.

Even worse, it did not matter what language they were reading. Many of those kids were reading something in their home language and still did not understand what they had just read.

The thing is… if a person cannot read, and make sense of what they are reading, how on earth can they plan to study and go further in life? It certainly makes things very difficult, if not almost impossible.

My parents used to read to me most nights when I was smaller. I couldn’t wait to hear the next bit of the story. I would see the pictures in my head and imagine what the people or animals looked like. I always used to beg for a few more pages to be read but my folks were pretty strict about only ever reading one chapter per night. Luckily now I can read myself!

Often, parents are too busy or weary to read to their children at night. If the kids are lucky they might get to hear an audio book before they go to sleep, but sometimes they just get plonked in front of the TV instead. TV is absolutely no substitute for reading. You use less brain power than you do when you are sleeping while watching TV.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to read more… please people.

Sibo.

The Happiness Jar

Happy 2018 everybody!

Here’s wishing that it is going to be a glorious year for us all on many different levels. Hope you had a good holiday and are ready to get stuck into the New Year.

I saw a really cool idea the other day and thought it was just too fabulous not to share.

It’s called a “Happiness Jar” and is really very easy to make.

All you need…

  • Jar, tin or a nicely washed out 2 litre plastic cool drink bottle
  • pile of paper
  • pen, pencil or anything to write with.

You can re-use old envelopes, the back of till slips or simply tear or cut some A4 pieces of paper up into 8 (or even 16) pieces and keep a pile handy next to your jar.

This is how it works… write down something that made you happy each day and pop it into the jar.

It could be something simple like seeing a pretty flower or a cute furry creature. Time spent with a buddy or a nice chat to a friend on the phone. Maybe wearing some article of clothing that made you feel good or a place that you visited and did fun stuff. It could be something that happened at school or work. Good grades, a kind word, praise, promotion – or a job well done.

Or something you read that made you happy.

Anything and everything that puts a smile on your face or makes your heart sing…  write it down and pop it in the jar.

At the end of the year (okay – if a year seems too long, try it for a week or a month) you take out all the notes and read them. You’ll remember all the little things that made you happy (that you have probably long since forgotten) and realise that life really is pretty good.

Of course don’t forget to make other people happy too.

Smile, be kind, pay things forward. Do random deeds of kindness. Be nice. You never know when a simple thing like smiling at somebody or paying a compliment adds sunshine to a dark day.

Too often it is easier to moan, groan and complain about life around us and forget about all the little things that really do make life worth living.

Let’s start 2018 off by being happy.

Lots of love

Sibo.

 

Fairy sized crackers

Last week we made some paper chains using recycled magazines or papers. This week I thought I’d tell you about the cutie little fairy-sized crackers that I had a go at making.

You need a few basic things to make these – but before you start I should mention that they do not actually crack! (Although you can buy the poppers at some art stores if you really want some.)

You need:

  • crepe paper
  • the inner core of a toilet roll
  • glue, sticky tape, scissors, ruler
  • pretty string
  • shiny tape or wrapping paper
  • goodies to put into the cracker – like sweets, little charms, jokes or even vouchers to wash dishes or make cups of tea or coffee.

First you need to modify the toilet roll core.

A normal toilet roll core is 10cm long and 4cm wide. Cut it down the centre and then cut it in half.  Roll one half around your finger and tape it closed. This should give you a baby sized toilet roll core of 5cm long x 2cm wide.

Crepe paper is nice and stretchy and comes in flat rolls in many different colours. You can get lots of crackers out of one roll.

Put your tiny core in the middle (at the bottom) of a rectangle of crepe paper that measures ~15cm x 11cm.

Roll it up and put a bit of glue on the edge to stick it down.

Carefully tie one side up with a piece of pretty string.

Pop the sweet or whatever you are going to use into the core and tie up the other side.

Then you can decorate the middle bit of the cracker with shiny tape or anything you have handy – stickers, pictures, leaves – get your creative hat on.

The crackers can then be used as table decorations for a special meal, or you can hang them on the Christmas tree if you have one. You could even staple one end of the cracker to your paper chain. Or you can simply use them as little presents.

Remember – you can always adapt ideas and make them your own. There is no right or wrong when it comes to being creative.

The main thing is to have fun in the process.

Lots of love,

Sibo.

Festive Decorations

Somehow the festive season always seems so much more jolly when decorations are involved.

Of course, you could tootle off to the shop and spend money on fancy, shiny, plastic, commercial decorations that might, or might not, land up in the bin after all the festivities.

Or you could make your own.

Like paper chains – they are nothing new – but they’re still fun and easy to make.

All you need is… imagination, an old magazine, scissors, a ruler, a glue stick or stapler.

  • Cut the magazine into strips. (~2cm strips are very easy to use and you get a chain of about 60cm long from one page.) If you make the strips 1cm or less, it becomes a little fiddly, but you obviously get many more strips out of a page so your chain is much longer.
  • Cut (or tear) all the strips in half.
  • Make a circle out of the first strip (overlapping the ends) and glue or staple it closed. Stapling is easier but is less environmentally friendly because when the paper breaks down you are left with little bits of metal that hang around for a whole lot longer.
  • Interlock your next piece of paper through the first circle and close it.
  • Keep going until you have a chain long enough to stretch from one side of the room to the other – or however you want to drape it. Better check with your parental agent before you stick things on the walls though.

Get creative and make little bunches of shorter chains to hang at the end of the long chain.

Traditionally chains used to be made out of coloured crepe paper. You can easily still get this paper and it’s not very expensive. Crepe paper has a bit of a stretch to it – so does not break very easily. It also comes in lovely bright colours.

If you are financially challenged though – magazines work just as well. You can even use newspaper!

You could glitz the chains up with a bit of glitter… but I was reading the other day that glitter is also becoming an environmental no-no. It is now classed as a micro-particle – it gets into the water system and does all sorts of nasty things to birds and other little critters.

Next week we’ll make some more decorations so stay tuned!

Have fun and stay safe this holiday.

Sibo

 

Making it through December

At Christmas time somehow we never seem to have enough money for everything. Even double cheques and bonuses seem to magically disappear. It is the time of year when the shops are full of goodies and you just feel like spending money.

But of course, if you spend it all in December – then you are in deep trouble in January!

Here are a few ways to help save money this December.

  • Write a list before you go shopping and stick to it.
  • Make your own Christmas presents instead of buying them. Check out Pinterest and other such sites – people are so clever and they come up with really stunning ideas to make gorgeous stuff out of easy to get materials.
  • Eat a good breakfast – this will mean that you don’t spend money on unhealthy snacks during the day.
  • Drink more water – not only is this better for you than drinking cool drinks, but you can refill your bottle from the tap and keep it in the fridge.
  • Invite friends over instead of going out. Get your friends to bring plates of food too.
  • Clean out your cupboards. Don’t just toss the stuff you don’t want – have a garage sale or sell big items on-line. Or you could give something that you no longer use (that is still in good working order) to somebody else and brighten up their day.
  • Swop books, games and DVD’s with your friends instead of buying new ones.
  • Stop smoking. Put the money that you would have spent on cigarettes in a jar for a month and then buy yourself a present – you’ll be shattered at just how much money you will have saved.
  • Don’t carry your credit card around with you – leave it at home for emergencies. That way you won’t be tempted to buy something that you cannot afford.
  • Pack your own sandwiches instead of grabbing something from the shop at lunch time.
  • Check out free events in the newspaper.
  • Keep an “ideas notebook” in your pocket or bag – jot down any good ideas that you get and then you won’t forget them.
  • Grow your own veggies – or at least some of them.
  • Carpool – not only is this great for the environment – it’s a real money saver too.
  • Don’t speed. You’ll save petrol and won’t run the risk of getting speeding fines!

Let’s all make it through December a bit more easily this year.

Sibo

Science really is fun

It is no secret that I am fond of sciencey stuff. The other day I found out about a programme that is so exciting I just had to share it with you all.

Well – come to think of it – it is particularly aimed at girls.  Sorry boys! This is not really for you. But I suppose there is nothing stopping you checking out the videos of the cool experiments and trying them out yourself.

The programme is called the “I Am Science” project and it combines cool science activities, video and digital learning.  Three things in one project!

Wait! Don’t get discouraged and think it sounds too clever. It’s actually a lot easier than you think.

The whole point of this programme is to get girls interested in science and to change mind-set around the thinking that science is too hard for girls to do.   Did you know that only around 30% of the researchers in the world are women? We seriously need to change those statistics.

Science is not hard and we can do it.

This is how easy it is to participate in this fabulous project.

  • Visit LevelUp http://mylevelup.mobi/ and register.
  • Click the drop down menu on the home page and choose ‘I Am Science’.
  • There you can just watch videos and do quizzes related to the videos. For every right answer you are rewarded with digital tokens which are redeemable on the mobisite for data and airtime.

Ah hah! I saved the best for last… never mentioned the fact that you can win airtime and data if you ace those quizzes. How cool is that?

But even cooler is the fact that you can watch those little (they really are little – not much more than a minute each) videos and then you can go and wow your friends and family by doing a cool experiment YOURSELF – like holding fire in your hand, or poking a sosastie stick through a balloon without it popping – because you will have learnt how to do it (safely of course).

Seriously – I kid you not. Go check it out.  Every week a new quiz is published on the home page of LevelUp so it does not get boring either.

If you want to know more about the whole project – visit the website. https://www.iamscienceproject.com/ . You could maybe even get your school involved and make your own video.

Have fun!

Sibo

One of a kind

13th of November was World Kindness Day. Yes! There really is such a day. Although honestly I think that every day should be kindness day – just like every day should be earth day.

The world revolves around kindness.

Just think a bit… if somebody smiles at you, or compliments you on something – you feel good. Right? It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and your whole body feels a little lighter and happier. Just because you are feeling good about yourself – you might then smile at somebody else involuntarily because you’re in a good mood. And that might make them smile too.

It’s a chain effect – a good one!

Just the same if someone yells at you and makes you feel bad, you curl up into a little ball, and smart at the injustice of it all. You are far more likely to yell at the dog, shove the cat and be mean to the next person you come across.

That’s also a chain effect – a bad one.

Being kind is a mind-set. It costs nothing and means the world. If you are a boss it can be as simple as thanking somebody (publically preferably – remember – thank in public and scold in private) for a job done. It does not have to be a hard or complicated job either. Being nice to people makes them feel valued and then they want to do more. Being nasty makes people think… why should I bother?

It is crazy when people in charge belittle their staff and then still expect them to perform well. There’s a guy who owns a restaurant near us and he always yells at his waitrons and treats them like dirt. Obviously his staff turn-over is very high yet he still does not get that he, him-self is the problem.

It’s easy to say to say something nasty or demeaning – but it is even easier to say something nice.

And you don’t have to lie – if you don’t think a dress looks good on somebody – you could say you like the colour, or the style or something.

There are numerous ways you can be kind. Lend a helping hand. Give a word of encouragement. Give somebody a letter or a card. Compliment a stranger.  Or just smile at random people – that also does the trick.

Have a nice day.

Sibo.