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!



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!


Don’t be bullied!

The 3rd of May is World Press Freedom Day. You might think this is a weird day to have and is not very important – but it is. Hugely so. It is critical that newspapers and electronic media are allowed to freely report what is going on in the country or the world, for that matter. Often journalists risk their lives in order to bring news of what is happening to the people. Just imagine if were not able to read your weekly edition of the African Reporter?  You’d have no idea of what is going on in the area.

Which brings me to my next topic – bullying.

There is way too much bullying going on these days. Not only kids are bullied – adults also get bullied.

Verbal bullying is just as wrong as being bullied physically. These days, with social media, you get cyberbullying too.

Sometimes people only properly recognise bullying when it’s physical. For example, when somebody pushes or hits you or hurts you in some other way.

The sad thing is that bullies are typically people who are being bullied themselves – usually at home. They then take it out on other people – normally smaller or weaker than themselves.  It makes them feel better about their own situation – but it is completely wrong.

There are a number of ways of dealing with a bully.

You can try and deal with it yourself.   Walk away whenever the bully approaches you. Pretend you are just walking away from a friend – that way your body language does not look like you are afraid. Bullies like it when you are afraid.

If the bully is verbally abusing you – think of something else – like what you are going to do that weekend or count in your head to 100.  Anything that blocks out what the bully is saying. If you don’t hear it – it can’t hurt you.

If possible, try to hang around friends all the time so the bully cannot get you alone.

Never forget that you are a valuable person and it’s the bully that has the problem. Not you.

Of course you DO NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT ALONE. You can happily go and speak to somebody that you trust – a prefect, parent, teacher or other adult. If they don’t believe you, speak to somebody else that does. If you are being bullied at work you can speak to your HR department.

Know your rights – being bullied is wrong.

Take care,


Letters… and not the alphabet ones either!

Sibo gets a letter

When last did you get a letter? A real letter! Not a window envelope from the bank or an bill that needs to be paid.

Unless you received some Christmas cards in the post, I bet you can’t even begin to remember.

The art of letter writing has gotten lost in this modern day society. Very few people write letters these days. Email is so much quicker and easier. More environmentally friendly too I suppose.

Kids don’t even write notes to each other and pass them under the desk anymore because they rather WhatsApp each other or use some other form of social media.

People would get love letters. They were things that you could read and re-read even when they got so crumpled that you could hardly read the writing anymore and the paper was falling to pieces. My gran still has letters that my grandpa wrote her a million years ago.

Of course, once you write something you can’t take it back. No matter how badly you want to. Although that still applies today – if you write a message on your cell phone or on some other social medial – you cannot take it back. Sure, you can delete things, but once you have read something – you cannot un-read it… so be nice with your words people!

Most people claim that the Post Office does not work very well anymore – but honestly – that isn’t exactly true. They do actually get pieces of post from A to B. My friend Ginny uses the Post Office all the time. Last year she posted her mum a birthday card – from Pretoria to Cape Town – regular mail. It was a really fancy one that she had specially made and was quite thick. She wondered if maybe somebody might think there was something interesting inside the envelope and if it would reach its destination or not.

But guess what. It did. Just a few days after she posted it too!

Sometimes it is a bit frustrating to stand in line at the Post Office to buy stamps (and then find that they don’t have any) but they will always be able to put a sticker with the right amount on your envelope if you have the letter with you.

Go on people – write a letter to somebody. I can guarantee that you will make their day!


Is it a Snat… or a Cake?


Ginny was telling me the other day that when she was a kid she loved drawing monsters.

Monsters? I said. Whatever do you mean?

She reckoned she and her friends used to take a couple of pieces of paper and draw imaginary creatures. Scary ones, funny ones, tall ones, thin ones – you name it ones.

Then they would give those crazy critters names and make up stories about them.

Of course, I should add that Ginny grey up in Malawi a million years ago when there was no social media, internet and… it’s really hard to imagine this… but they did not even have a television. Sjoe!

No wonder they had to find stuff to occupy themselves.

But then the other day a friend of mine posted a picture of her cat on Facebook. She was holding the cats’ ears back, so it looked a bit like a snake.


I started thinking about those monsters and wondered what it would look like if you drew cats’ ears on a snake. Or if you gave a cat a spitty tongue like a snake has. And what would you call your creature… a Snat? Or maybe a Cake?

I reckon that often we’re so busy going about our lives that we don’t use our imagination half as much as we could. And with with all these awesome animated movies it’s also a bit mind boggling and feels like a hard act to follow.

But actually we don’t have to follow anybody – we can do our own thing!

Plus we have cool tools. Apart from good old kokis or crayons and paper, we can also draw monsters on the computer.

You could even write your own little book with monster illustrations too!

So… who wants to accept the monster challenge?

Draw a monster – post it on Sibo’s Facebook page  and we’ll have a lucky draw where somebody can win some Sibo books. We’ll put the pictures on the website too.  If you want to make up a story about your monster – go for it!

You can draw them on paper and take a photo – or get your parental agent to take one. You can also draw one on the computer and post it or email it. There are no rules. You just have to draw a monster!

Have fun and be creative!



Multi-tasking… good or bad?

Sibo at her desk

Often we have more than one thing that needs to be done – like maths homework, reading, spelling to learn, chores to do, the dog to walk and an art project that also needs to be finished.

Sometimes it is all mind-bogglingly too much and you feel like running away. Seeing as that’s mostly just not possible, you have to get stuck in and just do the darn stuff.

Lately there has been a lot of research done on multitasking – this is when you have several things on the go at one time.

They say that it is not always effective to do this.

Often you jump around between doing so many different tasks that you get nothing done properly. They reckon you should make a list and prioritise which are the most important things that need to be done.

Then you should stick to that list.

For instance – if you need to learn something – you really need to concentrate so that you will be able to remember it later and therefore you should not multitask while doing that particular job.  It is better to focus 100% on it – like learning for exams – dedicate a chunk of time and get it done properly.

On the other hand – they say that when your mind jumps between a lot of boxes – your mind tends to think more “out of the box” which could be great for creative things – like art projects.

For things like spelling you could put a list of the words you need to learn next to your bed, so you can see them last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Or you can read them when you go to the bathroom.  In this case a lot of repetition is good.

You could combine your daily exercise when you walk your dog – but remember you still have to be careful and not to let it off the leash by mistake. Accidents happen so quickly and you would never forgive yourself if you let something happen to you precious doglet.

Sometimes chores are really boring – like washing dishes or vacuuming – but you can always listen to music while you wash. I love listening to music – it makes any chore go much faster.

But remember – dedicate time to the important stuff and do it properly.

Work well!


Sibo’s Science Story Competition

Sibo smiling

National Science Week runs from the 1 – 8 of August. The theme this year is International Year of Light and Light Based Technologies. This is an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology. The idea behind it is to underline that science really is for everybody – young and old alike – and it is all around us. Various institutions – not only science centres – around the country celebrate this event by holding different kinds of activities. There are also expos in shopping malls, special talks, workshops and many other events.

I am also celebrating.  I’m having a science story competition and you are invited to write a short story using the “cool words” that appear at the end of her weekly blog in the African Reporter. Don’t worry if you missed them – you can also visit her real blog and find them there (plus the meanings).

The winning stories will be printed in the Springs Advertiser and African Reporter and will also feature on Sibo’s website and blog ( . First prize will win an autographed set of Sibo’s Story Books (12 titles). Second prize wins 6 Sibo titles (of your choice) and third prize wins 2 Sibo titles (of your choice).


  • The story needs to have a science slant to it – using at least 15 of the 21 cool words.
  • It should not be more than 500 words
  • Both adults and children are welcome to enter.
  • Entries must reach us on or before Friday 14th August 2015.
  • You can email them to .
  • Fax them to 086-242 2187
  • Or send them via post to :

Sibo’s Science Story Competition
Postnet Suite 180
Private Bag x1
The Willows

Cool words: array; galvanize, dollop, follicle, discombobulated, argle-bargle, chuffed, acne, photonics, snigger, dank, tolerance, agitated, nook, dodgy, miffed, pow-wow, skulk, vamoose, vim, heebie-jeebies.

You’ll either have to use a dictionary if you don’t know what any of these words mean… or trawl through all the blogs. If you find a blog without a cool word – it was written in the holidays. We don’t do cool words in the holidays.

Good luck!