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The Whole Child, Issue #034 - Holidays again
December 05, 2006


The Whole Child e-zine brings you free preschool activities each week to maximize your child's potential, build skills and parent-child relationships in just a few minutes per day. Useful tips, quotes, resources, opportunities and articles will added for extra value!

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12 November 2006, Issue #033


1. Hello from Shirley
2. Join the Preschool Activities at Home eGroup
3. Tips
4. Quote
5. Book Reviews
6. Readiness Activities

1. Hello from Shirley

Its the end of our academic year here in South Africa and I thought I'd share what our homeschool support group did. We held an end-of-year picnic 'prize-giving' at a local nature reserve. Each family prepared a certificate for their children rewarding them for their achievements both in 'school' and in character, such as diligence with chores, or perseverance, kindness with younger siblings etc.

During the formal proceedings, the parents stood up under the tree and the fathers called each child up to award them their certificate. It was such a pleasure to see the kids walking so tall and blossoming under the praise of their parents. Even our toddler grinned excitedly when we gave him a certificate for being the busiest child in the class - and then he crumpled it up!!

The festive season is upon us and so if you are looking for ideas for crafts or gifts to make for Christmas, then visit my Christmas Crafts page where you will find ideas for homemade gifts, homemade gift-wrap and decorations to make.

My next issue of this ezine will be published in the New Year, so let me take this early opportunity to wish you and your families a very blessed time together and safe travelling.

2. Join the Preschool Activities at Home eGroup

If you haven't yet done so, remember to join the new preschool-activities-at-home egroup where we can all share our experiences of teaching and raising preschoolers.
It is a place to ask questions, ask advice and share the ups and downs of life with small kiddies.

You can do so right now by sending a blank email to

Please also spread the word in your preschool and homeschooling circles. I look forward to 'getting to know' many of you better.

3. Tips

Pleasant words promote instruction.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:21 and 24)

Find an opportunity to speak some 'pleasant words' to your children this week, each day if you can. Find something to praise them for or encourage them further.

4. Quote 

"Human beings, like plants, grow in the soil of acceptance, not in the atmosphere of rejection.
Sir John Powell

6. Book Reviews and Gift ideas for Christmas

I have listed some of my favourite parenting and homeschooling books at Shirley's Store where you can browse and purchase those or any other books you like using's secure online shopping. By ordering via my store, you are helping to support my site, as Amazon will pay me a 3% commission!

This week I decided to mention some of our favourite children's stories about Christmas as well as some good investments to buy as gifts, rather than toys, which most of our kids have too many of anyway!!

 Favorite Christmas Stories

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

This award-winning, magnificently illustrated book is predicted to become a classic. A widow and her son require the village woodcarver to make them a set of nativity figures. When “Mr Gloomy” agrees, the miracle begins, as they gently show him respect and kindness and enable him to overcome his grief. Giving from the heart is also exemplified. This story is a must-read. Everytime I read it I find myself with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes!

An African Christmas Cloth by Reviva Schermbrucker

This unique book was skilfully illustrated by the author in pictures embroidered on cloth of different colours and textures. The story is the diary of a scooter-trip taken by Aunty Apples from Johannesburg through the South African country side where she camped and embroidered her memories. She returns on Christmas Eve and the cloth/quilt becomes a gift for her relatives, the Cupido family.

For those of us in the Southern Hemisphere it is a treat to find a Christmas story set in summer, where watermelon and ice-cream feature, instead of snow and ice!

Angel Mae by Shirley Hughes

Mae’s mother is going to have a baby near Christmas time, but to Mae’s dismay the baby’s arrival co-incides with her nativity play in which she plays the Angel Gabriel. This is a humourously told, yet moving story, about being brave and the power of family love.
I have yet to find a book by this author that has not delighted both me and my children!

Great Gifts for Christmas

We have had many hours of pleasure sharing the stories and re-reading the kids' favourites from The 20th-Century Children's Book Treasury: Picture Books and Stories to Read selected by Janet Schulman. 

"This treasury gathers 44 of the most memorable and best- loved children's books of our time into one sumptuous, beautifully produced volume. Classics, contemporary best sellers, medal winners and family favourites chosen from over the last 100 years are brought together in a collection designed for sharing and reading aloud."

Preview on

Bernstein Favorites: Children’s Classics

If you are going to buy just one CD to start music appreciation, I suggest this one. This CD includes Prokoviev’s Peter and the Wolf – a simple, narrated musical story that is an introduction to the instruments of the orchestra for children. I loved it as a child and now my children do too! The CD also includes Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens’ in which music is used to ‘describe’ animals like elephants, bees and others! Also included is Britten’s Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra which introduces children to the four classes of instruments: strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion. (75 minutes)

The Sound of Music - DVD

This is a musical classic that is, to me, a most worthwhile investment. In spite of being 3 hours long, this music appreciation movie has delighted my all children.

Set in Austria at the time of World War 2, a young woman goes to work as a governess in the home of a widower, who has seven children. Being a military man, he runs his household like an army, allowing little time for fun and laughter. While he is gone, Maria, teaches the children, to sing and allows time for play, causing pandemonium on his return.

 7. Readiness Activities

To download the printable pdf you will need to have installed
Adobe Reader - opens in new window.

The Whole Child - Week 38-39 Activities- printable pdf

Week 38

Fine Motor Skills

Give your child a long piece of ribbon or even a skipping rope. Ask her to hold it by one end and twist her hand in circles to make spirals with the ribbon. Then ask her to shake it back and forth so that it ‘slithers’ like a snake. Let her flick the ribbon into the air and catch the ‘tail’ of the snake with her other hand. This may take some practice. Encourage her to create other patterns with the ribbon or rope.

Auditory Perception

Teach your child some action rhymes and encourage her to do the actions too.

Language and Thinking Skills

Find a text-free storybook at the library or alternatively use a story book that your child does not know. Look at the pictures together and ask your child to tell you the story. Choose a book that lends itself to this kind of activity. Some titles:

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (text free)
A Boy, A Dog and A Frog, Mercer Mayer (text free)
Harry the Dirty Dog, Gene Zion (text)

Visual Skills

Using coloured beads, construction blocks or coloured pegs on a pegboard or any other similar toys, ask your child to arrange repetitive patterns. Begin with simple combinations and let her enjoy success!

Mathematical skills

Demonstrate the concept of subtraction to your child. Begin with five items. Ask your child to tell you how many remain if you remove one. Now remove another item and repeat until none are left.

Use counting rhymes like Ten Green Bottles or Five Little Speckled Frogs (lyrics are on my site) to reinforce this activity in a fun auditory fashion!

Faith Building

Proverbs 16: 7 "When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him."

There is nothing more unpleasant in a home than bickering and fighting, be it between parents or the children, yet I am sure it happens in all homes to some extent. This year my children learned this verse by heart, and it has helped to promote peace:

Proverbs 15:1 "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
We had some interesting discussions about it.

 Here is a free printable chart with more relevent verses on this topic that you may find useful at times when you need to train your children to promote peace in your home:

Week 39

Gross Motor Skills

To create body awareness cut parts of the body from magazine pictures. Ask your child to arrange them in order from head to feet and paste them on paper. The parts need not match or be in realistic proportions. Talk about the relationship between the different size body parts. “This hand is smaller/bigger than the arm” etc.

Fine Motor Skills

Let your child play with wooden blocks. Wood has different textures than plastic and each type has its own smell too. She will learn to create representations of visual concepts as well as discover building techniques.

Auditory Perception

Play a listening memory game. If the weather is fine, you could go on a listening walk. Ask your child to listen and recall afterwards as many different sounds as possible. If you are indoors, sit quietly and see how many sounds she can hear. e.g. a computer humming or a fridge running, passing traffic, a bird or dog outside, wind, etc.

Language and Thinking Skills

Ask your child to close her eyes while you take her on an imaginary journey. You must both picture the words you describe. Take her on… 

• A balloon ride over the city
• A hike through the bush
• A boat trip on a rough sea
• A truck trip through the desert to an oasis

Let her have a turn or help describe details too.

Visual Skills

Draw two identical shapes on a chalkboard, but leave one shape incompletely drawn for your child to complete. Begin with geometrical shapes like circles, squares, houses, then draw more complex ones, stick figures etc.

Faith Building

When next you see ants, use the opportunity to discuss diligence with your litte ones.

Proverbs 6:6
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!

Proverbs 30:25
Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer;

Sometimes training children to perform their chores and daily routines is tiresome for a mom. I've learnt the hard way, with hindsight, that what I sometimes thought was just childish irresponsibility and negligence was actually blatant rebellion. If a child can do a task well on one day, but not on another, you need to look at circumstances, but especially the attitude of the child's heart and deal with it appropriately, if necessary.

This chart has some useful verses for training children to be diligent:

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