The benefits of reading aloud

1st February is World Read Aloud Day.

Last year more than a million people participated in this event. Sounds fabulous, but actually when you come to think of how many people there actually are in this world (estimated at ~7.7 billion in November last year) that is pretty darn pathetic!

Every day should be a read aloud day.

Reading stories to children is probably one of the most beneficial things you, as a parent or older sibling, can do, apart from giving them love, food, clothing and shelter that is.

It’s not only little kids that enjoy being read to either, older kids appreciate a good story too.

Scary fact: South Africa came last in the world in a recent survey. They discovered that 8 out of 10 kids in Grade 4 cannot read for meaning – in any language. What does that terrifying sentence signify? It means that those kids can read the words, but when they have finished “reading” them, they don’t know what they just read.

It makes no sense right? Sadly it’s true, and when you don’t understand what you are reading, it strips away all the joy associated with books.

You, as a parent, have the power to instil a love of reading in your child from early on.

It’s as simple as reading a little story at bedtime. Every bedtime! It’s also a sneaky way of having one-on-one special time with your kids.

When you read with emphasis and expression, it makes the story come alive. Not only does that make it interesting, but the way you read gets your kids to understand how grammar works, without even realising. You pause at a comma and stop at the end of the sentence.

They can hear how words are being pronounced.

Being read aloud to also exposes children to new words and increases their vocabulary.

Literature is also a great way of helping kids understand something that they have not necessarily been exposed to themselves. It makes them more aware and instils empathy.

Please do leave your cell phone in another room when you are reading to your children. Possibly the most irritating thing in the world is having a story continually interrupted by pinging, ringing and a distracted storyteller.

To celebrate World Read Aloud Day we are making ‘Sibo Saves Water’ a free digi-read on the website. It’s a double celebration – the 2nd of February is World Wetlands Day.

Happy reading and listening!

Sibo

Pop-Art of a different Kind

It’s that time of year when school is finished and kids are on holiday. The first few days are fun because the alarm clock is on holiday too and there is no need to leap up early in the morning, but if you are anything like me – after a few days you start to get bored.

One way of keeping busy is to make awesome festive decorations using stuff like toilet roll cores, old magazines. Make your own glue too by mixing flour and water into a paste (don’t make it too runny or too thick – experiment).

It’s more fun to get a group of friends together, plus you can pool your resources and share – like paint, glitter and stuff like that.

Make a bowl of popcorn – either on the stove or in the microwave (yes – you can eat some of it). But remember not to put any salt or butter on the popcorn that you are going to use for your decorations. Ask your mom for a needle and some cotton and thread a length of about 60cm of popcorn.  Make sure to knot it properly (or glue it) at both ends so that it does not fall off. You can also spray these with some gold or silver spray paint to make them look even more festive.

Squish the cardboard toilet roll core slightly and cut it into strips of about half a centimetre. Use five strips to make a flower shape and either glue or staple them together at the centre. Paint them and string them up with the popcorn to make a fancy daisy chain.

Paper beads are also fun to make. Roll up a strip of paper (2cm wide x about 7cm long) into a tight thin little tube (use a tooth pick or twig to roll it around) and stick the end down with a dab of glue. Once the glue is dry you can paint your paper beads if necessary.

Other easy and really cheap but effective decorations to make are paper chains. Find an old magazine and cut strips of paper (about 2cm wide x 15cm long). You can either staple or glue them together to make a long chain. Try experimenting by making the strips wider or thinner and see which ones you prefer.

You could make one string of decorations using all of the above methods!

Have fun,

Sibo

Books are Friends

My friend Ginny gives talks in schools sometimes. The topic is “Books are Friends!” It’s interactive and the kids also get to add their two cents worth. This is how it goes:

F is for Friends! Books are better than friends because you don’t have to ask somebody’s permission to go and visit a book (unless you want to go to the library) and books don’t get cross and fight with you. You never feel lonely when you have a book for company and you can have fun escaping into fiction or fantasy. Plus you can use them to find out facts. Reading sets you free!

R is for Reading! You can read a range of books at any rate you want to – fast or slow. You rest when you want to, and if you enjoyed a bit, you can return to it and read it again. You can read about your rights too.

I is for Interesting! Books are incredibly interesting and inspiring. Reading makes you intelligent. You can read important stuff. It’s impossible to get bored if you have a book to read. Of course, don’t forget – books are printed with Ink.

E is for Everybody! Books are for everybody and can be found everywhere. Excellent books explain things and equip you with knowledge. They are exciting and entertaining. Best of all – you don’t need electricity to read a book with your eyes.

N is for Nice! New books are nice too.  Books are necessary, we need them. You can turn to the next page to see what happens in the story every night. Books have names – just like you and I. But you should never ever mistreat your friends.

D is for Dependable! Just like a really good friend, books are always there for you. You can read the daily and when you have finished your book, you can donate it to somebody else to read. They are delightful but you do have to look after them. Dictionaries are great books too. Diaries are books that you can write about your own life. Don’t forget about digital books either!

S is for Story! And for Sibo of course! Some of our story books talk about saving water, electricity and strays. Taking shorter showers and planting seeds.  Separating rubbish and recycling.

On Saturday there is a pop-up book fair at the Alkantrant Library, Lynburn Rd, Lynnwood Manor, Pretoria from 09h00 – 12h00. Come and meet some new friends. Get your Christmas shopping done nice and early.

Lots of love,

Sibo.

The need to read

The 8th of September is International Literacy Day.

So what? I hear many people say. I don’t have time to read. I can’t be bothered to read. Reading is boring… but actually we read all the time!

We read social media updates, road signs, food labels, and information on goods that we buy. We need to know whether we should wash that new item of clothing in hot water or cold water – right? And for that you need to read the label. Or the instruction manual that comes with your latest gadget.

Or what about recipes?

That’s reading, isn’t it?

Many people stick to magazines, newspapers or read on-line, and that’s all good but…

What about reading for pleasure? To escape reality without going anywhere—you can travel the world, learn about new places, time-travel with science fiction and fantasy, or read sloppy romantic novels where the girl always gets the boy in the end (unlike real life!!). What about mysteries or those scary ‘Who dunnits’?

Okay! So books are not exactly cheap, but you don’t even need to buy them—join the library. Or share with friends, as long as you look after the books and return them in the same condition that you received them in.

If you don’t like reading… at least consider reading to your children!

It has been proven that kids who are read to from a young age have a distinct advantage over those who are not.

Children are naturally inquisitive and love to ask questions – when a parent reads a picture book to their offspring, they are exposing them to different things. They can point at pictures and say “What is that?” or “Who is that”. It encourages youngsters to start thinking and asking questions.

It enhances a child’s vocabulary.

In addition to a better grasp of language, reading assists with spelling too.

We all love a good story, and bed-time reading (in any language) instils a love of books at an early age—something that stays with a person for the rest of their life.

Plus… a bed-time story is a great way to bond with your child. You get to sit on the bed, snuggle with your nice clean kid and read. It’s a fabulous way of having one-on-one time in this overly busy world of ours where there is not always quality time for everybody.

Please read more people!

Sibo

xxxx

 

Circle of Life

Hah! You didn’t really think you were going to get away without a blog on exercise during women’s month… did you? (No! Power posing does not count as exercise.)

Whilst smiling and complimenting might exercise your soul (as well as those of other people) and laughing might be great for your belly and face, it is important to stay fit.

Exercising releases those endorphins that make you feel happy and lessen the perception of pain. Apparently it does not matter how long you exercise for to release those hormones – the effect is the same, whether you go for an hour long jog or jog on the spot for ten minutes.

If cycling, jogging or gym is your thing – then great – you don’t have to read any further. However, if you are one of those ladies who groan at the thought of doing some physical activity – then this is for you.

Hula hoop people!

It’s the most awesome activity that the whole family can do.

It strengthens core muscles and improves posture no end, in addition to shaving centimetres off the squidgy bits of body and defining leg muscles.

Kids can happily use the normal hula hoops that you find easily in shops.

But ladies… here’s the good part – you can make your own, extra-large hula hoop, very cheaply!

Toddle off to the local hardware store (or nursery) and buy five metres of 25mm black piping. Yup – the stuff that gets used in the garden or irrigation. At the same time, get a 25mm connector and some insulation tape.

Lay the piping down in the sun for an hour or so to soften it slightly. Then chop off approximately 50cm from either end.

Boil the kettle, pour some boiling water into a mug and quickly dip each end of the piping into the water, then plug them together with the connector whilst the plastic is still soft.

Voila! You have a huge hoop.

You are probably going to look at it and gasp… NO WAYS CAN I USE THAT THING!!

But try it. Go on. Try. You’ll see that hula hooping with an enormous hoop is much easier than one of those small ones.

Taping it up to look pretty is optional. It does make it a little heavier, which is even better for losing weight.

Whilst you are hooping, you can do arm exercises to further tone up.

Or mediate and plan your day.

Let’s all BE who we ARE ladies.

Sibo

xxxx

Pop-Up Book Fair

Last Saturday Ginny and I got to do some exciting stuff. We went to an Indie Pop-up Book Fair at the Alklantrant Library in Pretoria. Ahem… I’m not exactly an indie girl myself, because my Sibo Series are published by Lets Look Publishers, but Ginny writes other stuff (Dog’s blogs, Imaginaeries and The Kindness Book)  that she does publish herself, so she asked if she could take me along too.

It was such fun meeting all the other people who write South African children’s books. There was quite a selection. One young lady, Pamela Ngubeni, has written a little pocket-sized book about being bullied and what to do if you are. She herself was bullied when she was younger and she has risen above the situation and gives talks in schools now too.

A fabulous book by Soraya Hendricks, called ‘The Legend of the Gilded Scroll’, covers the topic of stranger danger. It’s an awesomely illustrated fantasy story that incorporates the topic in an exciting manner.

There were the Sir Chocolate  stories for kids (that include recipes) by Robbie and Michael Cheadle.

and a series of Akiki books by Fatuma Abdulla that had a lovely doll (from the illustrations) that was also for sale.

Yet another remarkable book called ‘Be Amazing’ by Doloros Oldjohn, was all about being different, making a difference, having respect, going the extra step and being nice whilst you go about it.

‘Liam goes to the game reserve’ – written by Christina van Straaten is a delightful story that introduces wild animals in their natural habitats to children. It’s a hardboard book – durable and easy to keep clean and great for small kids.

Cora Groenewald, author of Salome and Gogo visit Soweto (also available in Afrikaans) was there too.

If you like adventure novels with a twist then Everdeen Brickwood’s books are for you.

There’s a series by Jann Wereatunga that involves a pirate parrot called Polly (also a puppet) having all sorts of adventures (with life lessons), where you can use your imagination and draw your own pictures in the books, instead of the books having ready-made illustrations.

Sandy van Zyl has a series of beautifully illustrated books ‘The Travel Buggz’ that are based on the adventures of the author and her two children when they went travelling around South Africa.

Martie van der Walt, a first time author had her stand next to ours with a delightful Afrikaans book -‘Kiekie en Wiekie, Die avonture van twee kroonkiewiete’. These were stories told to her by her father, that she has recorded so that the tradition can live on for future generations. The illustrations in the book were just lovely.

The lady who organised the pop-up book fair, Sabine Lehmacher (JOE), has a book called ‘The Moonling’. It’s a story that she found when she was sorting out her late mother’s possessions. Her mom had written it in the 1950’s already. Sabine’s family members have spruced it up and illustrated it and it’s now a fabulously relevant book (involving a moonling and an earthling) instead of being a few bits of papers hidden away.

Ginny’s stand was obviously in the kids section, but she stole away and snuck downstairs to the adult section for a few minutes – and got bust when Uncle Pete and Sharon from Lets Look Publishers popped in to visit!

Ginny and Peter Sanderson from Lets Look Publishers

There were not only children’s books at the book fair, but all sorts of other interesting titles – poetry, novels, science fiction, horror and autobiographies too. To name a few, Karen Coomber has written ‘100 Minutes of Grace‘ – a book about a mother’s road to recovery (she tragically lost her daughter in an accident). Whilst there were many books that took her fancy, she ended up buying Adam Alexander’s ‘Garage Band’, which she has yet to read.

A couple of interesting talks were also thrown in for good measure.

There’s going to be another pop-up book fair in September, so if there’s anybody out there who has published a book(s) – shout and we can put you in contact with Sabine.

Thanks very much to the Alklantrant Library for hosting the pop-up book fair (to make it worth their while – 10% of all the proceeds of the books sold went to the library).

Read more people!

Sibo

xxxx

Tie-dying fun

Its school holidays and sometimes one gets bored – especially when it’s cold.

Assuming you have no desire to read a book (I never give up – do I?)— what about having some fun tie-dying a piece of clothing… or even your socks (cotton ones work best). Although please check with your parental agent first though, before you start adding colour to your wardrobe.

This is what you need:

  • Fabric paint
  • Elastic bands (you can use loom bands – they are cheap and work a treat)
  • Water
  • Old plastic containers
  • Black bag
  • Rubber gloves (or small plastic bags to put over your hands)
  • Paint brush
  • Old white or light-coloured t-shirt
  • Imagination

These days you get Dala fabric paints that actually come in little spray bottles. They make life super easy because you don’t really even need to mix paint in containers with water or extender.

Imagine you want to breathe some life back into an old grungy t-shirt.

First thing you do is make a little peak and wrap a rubber band around the bottom of it. Do many of these all over your garment (including the sleeves) so it looks a bit like a fabric hedgehog.

Put on your gloves, spread out the black bag (or any big sheet of plastic) somewhere where you won’t get into trouble for messing and lay your t-shirt on top of it.  If you’ve got the Dala fabric spray paints, go wild and spray colour all over your t-shirt.  Make sure you do both sides – you can always mop up any excess paint that you’ve sprayed on the black bag too.

If you have jars of fabric paint – put two teaspoons (make sure you wash the spoon immediately or use a plastic spoon) of paint into about half a cup of water, mix it up well and then use your paintbrush to slosh the paint onto your t-shirt.  Two or three colours works best, but one colour will still look cool because it will contrast with the original colour of the T-shirt.

Please ensure you don’t work on a carpet – fabric paint stains. Food colouring is even messier but can be used in lieu of paint. This is why you must cover your surface with plastic.

Hang your T-shirt on the line and wait until it is properly dry before you take the rubber bands off.

Iron it to set the dye – otherwise it will wash out.

Have fun!

Sibo

xxxx

Growing things

Last time we talked about sniffing and growing Rosemary. At the moment, a certain supermarket is onto a really cool thing – giving out little pots of flowers or veggies with every purchase over R150. I know many kids are hounding their parents to go shopping there to increase their collection, but fear not if you don’t get it right.

You can easily grow your own veggies without any fancy little pots.

All you need are egg boxes, seeds and soil (seedling soil really works the best – but it’s not completely necessary).

Get a group of kids together and share resources. One bag of seedling soil goes a really long way. If you don’t have any money for seeds, ask friends who have gardens if they have any to spare. Marigolds grow very quickly from the seeds that you can harvest from a dead flower. So do lots of other things – like tomatoes.

Simply fill the egg boxes with soil – poke a little hole in the middle – about 1cm deep and plant a seed (or two). Cover the hole up with a bit of soil. Water gently and put them on a windowsill or somewhere light. They don’t like direct sunlight too much because then they dry out.

Make sure that you keep them moist – if the soil gets dry your teensy babies will never sprout.

The time it takes to sprout depends on what seeds you have planted. Some spout much quicker than others – for instance, Sweet Alyssum starts sprouting in about 3 days but onions take around 10 – 15 days to poke their little green shoots out into the world.

Once they do start sprouting, plant the whole egg box in the ground. Or you can carefully cut the little sections apart and scatter them around your garden or into pots. The egg box material is biodegradable. Just (obviously) make sure you do not use plastic egg boxes!

You can even have fun making your own artistic signs out of ice-cream sticks or bits of cardboard box so that you know which seeds are which.

Consider having a race with your friends and see whose seeds sprout first.

By the way – if you want to know how to make a veggie bed the size of a door – my book – Sibo and the Veggie Bed (check out the cover above) is available this month as a free read on the website.

Explore your green-fingered side guys!

Have fun.

Sibo

Xx

Easter egg hunt and fluffy chicks.

The other day Mum and I were visiting a friend of hers who’s having a bit of a hard time at the moment. Her husband has lost his job and finances are challenged. Aunty Landiwe was moaning about how her kids were not going to understand that they would not be getting fancy Easter Eggs this year.

I looked at her kids – they are only little – how on earth would they possibly know what day it is – let alone that they’re not getting the same stuff that they got last year?

Mum’s friend was sighing and looking really sad.

I had a bright idea.

I asked Aunty Landiwe if she had enough money for some of those cheapie, yet still very delicious, marshmallow eggs that you get. Not a whole box – just a few strings – it would not cost her more than R20.

Mum looked crossly at me. I knew just what she was thinking… Sibo! Keep your mouth shut – you are not supposed to be chipping in on this conversation.

Luckily Aunty Landiwe knows me quite well.

“What are you scheming now Sibo?” she asked.

Told her that I was thinking of an Easter Egg hunt – where she could hide the eggs in the garden and the kids could look for them. It would be much more fun than just being handed chocolate on a plate, so to speak.

Plus… I reminded her… “You are very arty. What about recycling your breakfast eggshells into some fancily painted Easter decorations? You could  get your children to help. I know you’ve got lots of paints and stuff. You could  get the littlies to make their own eggs – even though they are small – give them hard-boiled eggs to paint. They can eat them afterwards.

I was on a roll… “And that little yellow jersey you knitted last year… do you have any wool left? We could make pompoms and make fluffy Easter chicks! I watched a really easy video the other day. It’s not about how much stuff you get – it’s about quality time spent with your kids and how much fun you have rather.”

Aunty Landiwe grinned for the first time that afternoon.

“Sibo” she said “How did you get to be so clever for such a little person? Those are all great ideas. I do indeed have wool left – do you want to come and help me make some chicks?”

I looked at Mum to see if she agreed… she smiled and nodded.

Have a blessed Easter people.

Sibo

Xx

PS – If you make some of these cute chicks – please feel free to post some pics on our Facebook page – we’d love to see them. This is the one that Ginny made.