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



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,


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.



Smarty Pants

I read some stuff about being smart the other day – with exams coming  up we could all probably use a little extra smarts!

English is a strange language because “smart” has four different meanings.

It can mean a person is clever and quick in thought or action. For example, Mpho is really smart – she passed all her exams.

It could also mean that a person is well-dressed. For example, Mpho looked really smart in her new outfit.

Another meaning is to feel a sharp, stinging pain. For example, Mpho’s arm smarted for ages after the wasp stung her.

Lastly, it can mean that you feel annoyed or resentful after being insulted. For example, Mpho smarted for the whole of break time after Sandile said she was fat.

We are talking about the first one… here are some ways to help make us smarter.

  • Ask questions. It really is good to ask if we don’t know or understand something.
  • Get some exercise. This is a no-brainer – we know we feel better when we get out into the fresh air and start moving. Cycle, jog, walk briskly, hula hoop…
  • Eat healthy. Crunch apples and carrots instead of chips or sweets for snacks.
  • Keep a journal. It’s good to sit at the end of the day and reflect on all that has happened. It makes your memory work a bit harder too.
  • Learn a new skill. It does not have to be anything fancy – learn to knit, to code, or maybe how to bake – go nuts and try something new. Nothing ventured nothing gained!
  • Hang out with other smart people. This is so true – if we spend time with people who are interesting and interested – we feel smarter too.
  • Challenge your brain. Do crossword puzzles or Sudoku’s. Play memory games.
  • Change your routine. Try not to do things the same old boring way every single day – vary the order in which you do things, or eat lunch outside instead of inside. Sit in a different spot at school break. As the saying goes… a change is as good as a holiday.
  • Get enough sleep. Do it! Go to sleep at a decent hour our bodies need time to recover from a busy day.
  • Read more. Join a library or swap books with friends. There are also plenty of eBooks free on the internet that are available to read on cell phones too.

Think smart peeps!



Safe Travels

Since 2005 South Africa has been officially celebrating transport month in October. I thought we’d celebrate buy making not one, but two of my books available to read online.  Both “Sibo Looks Right” and “Sibo on the Move” involve transport. Head on over to my website and click on the links to read either book.

Road safety is such an important topic. Every year thousands of people die on the roads. There are various reasons for this – some really stupid ones like drinking and driving, speeding, talking on a cell phone or texting and often un-roadworthy vehicles are also to blame.

Sadly, often children are fatally involved in accidents and they are totally blameless – just in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s not like we have control over who we drive with. Wish our parental agents would be a bit more responsible when it comes to taking chances with their children’s lives. We only have one, after all!

But children also have to take ownership of their own lives and make sure that they know the rules of the road and use it responsibly. 

If you are not sure what these are, ask your teacher or an adult. Or you can read all about them in my book. If you can’t be bothered to read the whole book – there’s a list at the back that is easy to read.

“Sibo on the Move” deals with etiquette when using public transport – especially things like the Gautrain system – buses and trains. They have some rules to specifically keep people safe – like standing behind the yellow line when the Gautrain is approaching. Did you know that you should always wait for passengers to get off the train first, before you get on? A thing like putting your feet on the seat is a real no-no too – you would not like to sit on a dirty seat – would you? Sticking chewing gum under the seat is also just revolting. Listening to loud music on your cell phone is rude because it disturbs other passengers. Being kind and considerate on public transport is important.

If you have not already been on the Gautrain – you should make a plan to go on a little trip – like my class did – we went to the National Zoological Gardens for a school outing. It was such fun!

Be safe and take care.


Growing succulents

A friend of mine recently moved into a house and they have a section of water wise plants in their front garden. To begin with I thought they were sort of ugly. But then I looked at them a bit longer and thought that maybe they were not so bad. In fact – some of them were quite pretty.

The thing about succulents is that they really do not need much water. Of course, if they get more water than they bargained for, then it’s not like they wither up and die either.

Did you know if you want to grow your own succulents it is really easy?

You simply lay a leaf or three down on a bed of soil in a little pot, with the pointy bit facing outwards, and give it a few drops of water every now and then.  They are not even too fussy about the water believe it or not.


After a while teensy tiny little leaves start growing (in the middle of the pot). And it does not take too long either. Perfect little teensy weensy succulents. In fact, it is incredibly rewarding

The crazy thing about succulents is that some of them are good for various things – like Bulbinlella – a common garden plant.

Bulbinella is the ideal plant to have in the garden if you have children because it is a first aid remedy for most knocks and scrapes.

This hardy plant grows easily in many places. It has a nice bright yellow flower. The Bulbinella leaf can be crushed softly between fingers and the clear sap can be squeezed out from the leaf and used to smear on the following problems: wounds, rashes, burns, itches, ringworm, cracked lips, cuts, boils, eczema, insect bites, cold sores or acne.

The same goes for Pork Bush or as it is more commonly known by its Afrikaans name, Spekboom (Portulacaria afra), it is also pretty fabulous stuff. Not only is it Proudly South African but it is also a water-wise plant that can manage on less than a litre of water a year.

Poultices made out of the leaves can be applied to acne, blisters, corns, insect bites, sore feet and sunburn. It has also been said that chewing Spekboom leaves several times a day can successfully treat high blood sugar levels.

Great idea for Christmas presents – but you’d need to start growing them in little pots now!

Have fun.


Draining Away

The other day mum and I were visiting a friend of hers and mum was moaning that she was going to have to call out a plumber to unblock our shower drain.  The shower kept filling up with water and you could almost have a bath in the shower well. She was whinging that plumbers were so expensive and she’d much rather buy a pair of new shoes with that money.

Her friend smiled and told her to relax – there was no need to call a plumber.

She gave us a recipe to unclog the shower. Mum was a bit sceptical – she’s not big on doing innovative stuff – but I wrote it all down and said I’d try it when we got home.

It was a bit like a science experiment – and I am very fond of those.

Mum assured me had all the ingredients needed – nothing fancy at all – just hot water, baking soda and vinegar.

Mum supervised and I got to do the fun work.

First we boiled the kettle and poured the whole lot of boiling water down the drain.

Then we poured in half a cup of baking soda – and let that sit in the drain for about 5 minutes.

Next we added a cup of vinegar followed by a cup of boiling water to the baking soda in the drain. This was the fun part – it all fizzled and foamed. Mum made me wear safety goggles in case it whooshed up too much and got in my eyes. (I felt even more like a scientist!)

If you have one of those drain plungers – put it over the plug hole at this stage – so that all the fizzy stuff stays in the drain.

Finally, after about 5 to 10 minutes – we poured another kettle of boiling water into the drain.

The next day we all had a shower and the water flowed perfectly out of the drain – no more bathing in the shower.

So maybe – if you have a blocked drain – you should try this first before you call a plumber!

Have a fabulous week further.


Do your own science tricks

Just because National Science Week is now finished it does not mean that you have to put science out of your mind until next year. Remember, science is all around us all the time and it is very cool. Without it, we’d be living in the dark ages.

Thought I’d share some interesting tricks that I found in a little booklet that was distributed by SAASTA many years ago. Can you believe that you can wow your friends by making fireworks with a naartjie?

All you need is the skin of a nartjie, a candle (in a holder), matches or a lighter – and maybe you should keep some water close by too – in case somebody gets so excited that they set fire to something.

Remember – whenever you do a science experiment, no matter how simple it seems, you still need to be careful.

Light the candle. Take a piece of naartjie skin and fold it in half while holding the orange (outer) side of the skin a few centimetres from the candle flame.

See what happens… cool hey!

What does happen?

There are many little “bags” containing oil in a naartjie skin. The oil, which is responsible for the specific naartjie smell, is flammable. When you fold the skin, the little bags burst and spray the oil into the candle flame. The end result is a little sparkling mini firework show!

If you don’t have any naartjies you could try this experiment with a lemon or an orange and see what the result is.

Or you could make a flower bloom. All you need is some paper, pencil, scissors and a bowl of water.

Draw a flower on a piece of paper. Cut it out and fold the petals up. Lay the flower on the water in the bowl and watch it open up and bloom.

What happens? The paper gets soaked with water and expands. The petals open and the flower appears to bloom.

You could make all sorts of flowers – for everybody! Try it out.

Science really is fun!


Science is Seriously Super!

It is time to celebrate National Science Week again!  This is an initiative that is run nationally and is funded by the Department of Science and Technology. The programmes are managed and co-ordinated by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Awareness (SAASTA) but it is actually implemented by many different service providers.

If you want to find out more about this, please do go and visit the SAASTA webpage .

The theme this year is “Advancing Science Tourism”. There are all sorts of exciting demonstrations, activities and exhibitions happening all over the country.

On the 5th of August – in the Springs Mall – there is an expo on The Science of Paint! It is on from 10am to 5pm and is open to the general public – you don’t have to book or anything – you can just rock up.

This is what you can expect…

Take a walk through the history of paint and learn how the processes have changed overthe years. We will start with Rock Art move on to natural dyes and pigments then oils and water colours and finally on to synthetic paint.

During the activity you will get an opportunity to test the methods of making paint with the end goal of making art. Engaging, fun, and messy – come join us!

For more info you can contact Anthea Moys ( Tel: 011 021 1177

Sounds like a lot of fun to me – and best of all – it’s free!

Of course, although National Science Week starts on the 5th August and runs for a week – the world is full of science that is all around us, and can be seen 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year…. you get what I mean!

We’ve done little science experiments in this blog before – but if you are keen on having some serious fun at home go and visit Arvind Gupta’s website . He is Ginny’s friend and shows you how to make fabulously fun toys from trash (so you don’t need any fancy stuff) that all work on scientific principles.

Of course you can always visit a science centre too. Those are tremendous fun and are open all year round. Not only during National Science Week.

Lastly – if you want to be a space tourist – you can visit our website and read Sibo in Space free for the next week or so.

Science is super!


Holiday Fun – Short Story Writing

It’s school holidays again and whilst it is great not to have to get up early on cold winter mornings, I bet some of us are going to get a bit bored somewhere along the line. Especially if we are staying home and our friends have gone away.

When I get bored I like to read. It’s hard to stay miserable if you have a great story to get lost in. If you don’t have any nice books to read you could maybe swop with a friend or even ask your parental agent to take you to the closest library. Libraries are awesome places, full of fabulous things to read and some of them even run holiday programmes that don’t involve only reading but doing lots of fun stuff too.

If you do get fed up and have nothing to do, think about writing your own short story. It could be about anything – your life, your pets, your family or even something crazy that you just thought up in your head.

Remember though, stories have a structure. They have a beginning, a middle bit and an end!

Before starting to write a story, think about the stuff you like to read… probably most people are not that fond of boring old blah blah blah stuff that puts one to sleep. Mostly we find that something that‘s exciting and makes us wonder what is going to happen next is much more interesting. The ones that have us turning the pages in a hurry to get to the end to find out what happens.

Here’s another idea… think about writing a story from a funny point of view.  Just imagine if you were a bath plug… you could write a seriously wacky tale. Or maybe a tree – a tall skinny one that can see incredibly far and has odd wavy branches that point all over the place. Think what fun a person could have writing a story involving all the creatures that live in that tree.

Go nuts and use your imagination. You could illustrate your story too.

Email your stories to (or click on the email icon above) and we’ll publish the best ones on Sibo’s website so that other people can also read them. (Keep your story between 400 and 1000 words please. Remember to include your name and age.)

Happy holidays everybody – get your creative writing hats on!