Welcome to our blog!

Welcome to the SHEAF Blog.

Despite our best intentions, we're not great at keeping this blog updated with our latest happenings. We are, however, definitely an active group, meeting at least once each week during term time.

If you'd like to make contact with Dunedin home educators, our contact details are in the column, below right.

We send out a weekly email newsletter with details of upcoming events, courses, gatherings etc.

You can also find us on Facebook (page is visible whether you're a facebook user or not)

Have a look through this blog to see the types of events we have organised in the past. You'll also find links to other blogs and articles that we find useful or informative, on the off-chance that you'll appreciate them too :~) (Look for these more general blog-posts under the label "Weekend Reading")

If you're not currently on our email list and would like to contact us, please email us at the address you can see in the column on the right. We'd love to hear from you!

(Last updated May 2013)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Toy Theatre Website

My husband has spent many years creating www.toytheater.com as a free and quality educational website for PreK through Grade 5. It covers areas of math, reading, art and music. Please visit when you have a chance to see if it can help with your homeschooling experience. Feel free to add a link to www.toytheater.com if you think this site would be helpful for your children. It is completely free and will remain that way. We want children to learn!

Maaria Hoagland

Landcare Garden Bird Survey

Time to go bird spotting in your garden or local green area. Spend one hour between the 27th June to the 5th July and record your visitors. There is a printable checksheet and a photo checklist of birds to watch out for on the website. http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/research/biocons/gardenbird/

Diary Dates - 28 June

Wednesday 1 July - Edgar Centre session. 12.30 - 3.00pm, $2 per child door-charge. Bring any sports/outdoor gear you like.

Please let Kathrin know if you are going to be there
, she will not be attending the Edgar Centre session this week and doesn't want anyone to end up sitting there on their own.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fire Wise kits

These kits are the educational support material available from the Fire Service, that they make available to schools etc. Selina-Jane has kindly written out this description of what is available, and what she has at her house (she has volunteered to be the 'keeper of the kits'!). Contact Selina-Jane to see or borrow the kits, or for more information about them.

I understand that most components of the kits are individually available directly from the main Fire Station office in town (for free), with the exception of the pre-school material which they only give out as a complete classroom set. See Selina-Jane for anything out of this kit.

The Fire Service is perfectly happy for this material to be copied and distributed any number of times - including the CDs and DVDs. There are no copyright issues at all with copying material from the kits. Their main interest is getting the information seen and used by as many people as possible.

Selina-Jane's description of the kits:

The first kit is for pre-schoolers. It has a large A2 size book with cartoon characters of a fire engine, fire extinguisher, smoke detector and letter box. It has a rhyming story which gives the basic fire message: fire is hot and fast, when the smoke detector beeps shout "fire" and get out of the house, and meet at the letterbox, which is a safe place. It has posters showing each of the cartoon characters, a poster of a real fire engine and fire fighters, and a poster of a fire fighter in breathing apparatus. The latter two posters have arrows pointing to various bits of equipment, and naming them. There are also small books, repeating the story in the large book, which are intended for children to read, look at and keep. There is a CD with the Fire Wise song on it, with the message "get out, stay out, well done". My 3 year old adores it and asks for it repeatedly. Included in the kit is a 1 page sheet of suggestions on how to go over the materials with your pre-schooler. I have to admit that I was unimpressed with those suggestions, but the rest of the kit is excellent. There is also a map activity to make a plan of your house, and exits to get outside. I personally felt that it was far too detailed for pre-schoolers, but think it would be ideal for the next target group, 5-7 year olds.

The next kit is for years 1 & 2 (5-7 year olds). It has a teachers manual with discussion topics and activities to do with your children. I personally have been highly impressed with this, and would recommend it. It is very comprehensive, and includes some cartoon characters to cut out and role play what to do if there is a fire. There are student activity booklets which are great with activities such as a snakes and ladders game with fire messages to enable you to go forward or have to go back. There are certificates to give the children when they have finished the unit, and small cards for them to fill out with all the details they would give in a 111 call, and they can place these near the phone so they remember what to say. There are 2 friezes, one with the "stop, drop, and roll" message, and the other with "get down, get low, get out" message. It also has the Maori myth of Maui & Mahuika and how fire came to people.

The last kit is for years 7&8 (intermediate age children). This is on 2 DVD's, one with the teachers information, and one with students information. I have not extensively looked at this as my children are not in this age group. I understand it has games, activities and information, and is an extension of the previous kit for 5-7 year olds. (note added: one Mum I was talking to, whose child is operating at this level, recommends the DVD as excellent).

I hope all this detail has not been too overwhelming, and a little bit helpful. please feel free to call me, or email me if you would like more information about any of the kits, or if you would like access to one. If you would like to view them, I have examples of each at my house, and we can organise a time for you to come and look.

Blessings, Selina-Jane

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


If you scroll down the page a little, you will see a logo for NCHENZ, and the information that SHEAF is a 'Friend of NCHENZ'

Here is a brief description of NCHENZ and how they relate to us as home educators.

The National Council of Home Educators exists "to provide a forum in which home educators may unite for their mutual benefit in matters of national, political or common interest."

NCHENZ seeks to be a voice for a wide range of home educators throughout the country, especially for matters which affect all or most home educators - such as government legislation, policy, or implementation.

SHEAF is a 'Friend of NCHENZ', which means that although we are not a formal (paid-up, voting) member of NCHENZ, we do share some aims in common with NCHENZ and have opted for an informal connection with them.

Individual membership of NCHENZ is available to any and all home educators for a small ($10) annual fee (see their website for more details).

The advantage of individual membership is, principally, to keep up with what might be happening, home-education-wise, at a national/governmental/policy type level, and to contribute to NCHENZ's stance on that.

In the past, these issues have included what stance NCHENZ should take on ERO reviews, who should be conducting those reviews, and whether or not to lobby for a raise in the home education allowance. Around the last election, NCHENZ also kept a close eye on the whole National Standards of Assessment thing - which will begin being implemented in state schools next year - and how that might impact on home educators. (At the moment it looks like it won't - but we'll have to wait and see how ERO actually conducts its reviews once the new policy is in place).

If you'd like to be kept in the loop with these issues and contribute to NCHENZ's democratic processes, have a look at their website and consider joining as an individual member.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Diary Dates - June 15

Wednesday 17 June - Edgar Centre session. 12.30 - 3.00pm, $2 per child door-charge. Bring any sports/outdoor gear you like.

Tuesday 23 June - Cafe Evening - Nova Cafe, The Octagon. 7.30 onwards. Kathrin

Wednesday 24 June - Intriguing Dunedin Street Walk - Roslyn. 1.00pm. Meet near 14 Delta St, Roslyn. Nicola. Please contact Nicola for a copy of the map and details of the walk.

Wednesday 1 July - Edgar Centre session. 12.30 - 3.00pm, $2 per child door-charge. Bring any sports/outdoor gear you like.

Opportunity to learn financial literacy and entrepreneurship

This was recently advertised via the NCHENZ email list (National Council of Home Educators of N.Z.).

Entrepreneurs' Club is an online *financial literacy* and *entrepreneurship* venue for students. Please feel free to view the website at www.duffyclub.co.nz (there is a sample tutorial on the homepage).

It was launched in Auckland two months ago and now they have 30+ Auckland schools taking part. They are planning on offering it to schools throughout the country.Students work as individuals or form teams of two or three members and complete practical tasks throughout the year.

Students learn via online video tutorials, network with other teams from their school or city, and have access to mentors for support and guidance. Topics include money, budgeting and saving, companies and shares, currency, mortgages and buying a home, etc...and writing a
business plan, building a financial model, validating the market, etc...depending on the age group. The Entrepreneurs' Club caters for Years 6-13. (approx ages 10-18)

The Duffy Club is happy to open this opportunity to home educated children!

I will act as the coordinator. If you are interested in your children taking part please contact me. It will take me a couple of days to get back to you with more details: at the moment I am setting up the "Homeschool" school.


Tarnya Burge


String Games Workshop - Dunedin Public Library

The Dunedin Public Library is holding a String Games workshop this Sunday, at 2.00pm.

From their pamphlet - "Haere mai ki nga whai - string games fun! An interactive workshop with Kaitrin McMullan, professional storyteller, teaching string games from Aotearoa and around the world, combined with the ancient art of storytelling.

Suitable for ages 8 and up. Free. Limited numbers, bookings essential. Ph 474 3670.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Matariki information and events

Matariki, the Maori new year celebrations begin this week, and there's a few events hosted/coordinated by the DCC. I haven't seen any other advertising for it, but it looks like it could be fun - there's a kite-making workshop, special stuff at the museum and the observatory and a bunch of other events.



General info on Matariki can be found here

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cafe Evenings

These are a monthly evening gathering for the grown-ups.

Convivial chatter in a cosy, central location.

The weekday and the location can vary, so check this blog's Diary Dates or the email newsletter for details.

Edgar Centre Sessions

Every Wednesday there is a gathering of families to hang out, catch up, run around, whatever.

During the summer months, we like to meet at various city playgrounds, but during the winter the weather is too unpredictable for outside gatherings. In the winter months we have a standing booking at the Edgar Centre (in Portsmouth Drive), 12.30pm-3pm.

The entry cost is $2 per child, adults free.

The kids can bring whatever play equipment they like - bikes, trikes, scooters, balls, skipping ropes etc and are generally to free to range all over any areas not in use by other people. There are a few chairs sit around in on the side-lines.

Bring your lunch, and wrap up warm - the facility is not heated, but it is out of the wind and rain!

The Edgar Centre gathering is our default Wednesday gathering - but if something else has been organised that clashes (for instance, a Museum trip or an Intriguing Walk), it is possible that no-one will be at the Edgar Centre!

Check the Diary Dates or contact Kathrin or Nicola if you're unsure.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Diary Dates - 10 June 2009

Wednesday 10 June - Otago Museum trip - Understanding the Past and uncovering the Future - Geology Rocks! 1.00 - 2.30pm, $3 per child. Nicola Pye (Replaces Edgar Centre session)

Friday 12 June - Central Fire Station visit #2, Cumberland St. 10.30am. Selina-Jane Lyons

Wednesday 17 June - Edgar Centre session. 12.30 - 3.00pm, $2 per child door-charge. Bring any sports/outdoor gear you like. (Wrap up warm and bring your lunch)

Tuesday 23 June - Cafe Evening - Nova Cafe, The Octagon. 7.30 onwards. Kathrin Gilles

Wednesday 24 June - Intriguing Dunedin Street Walk - Roslyn. 1.00pm. Meet on street near 14 Delta St, Roslyn. Nicola Pye. Please contact Nicola for a copy of the map and details of the walk.

NZ home educator science course and kit library

Looks like a great alternative to actually buying the stuff yourself - like a toy library for sciences resources.

Science for Home Educators

Hi, my name is Nathalie Thomas, I am a home educating mum in Katikati (Bay of Plenty) with a science and teaching degree. I have set up a website specifically aimed at home educators to provide information on science. I offer science courses and educational science hire kits. Membership is only $5 a year (plus a refundable bond) and is open to all home educating families in New Zealand. There are lots of hire kits to choose from, such as K’Nex Educational sets, Lego Education sets, a digital microscope and a Brainbox electronics kit.

Website address: http://www.science-for-home-educators.co.nz

Diana Waring conferences

Info for those interested...

Diana Waring will be coming to New Zealand in September and presenting Living, Laughing and Learning conferences.

This will be Diana's third tour of conferences in New Zealand

Diana has graciously volunteered her time and is not charging for these conferences. There will be conferences in four separate venues of NZ in the North and South Island.

11 - 19 September 2009 New Zealand

11 - 12 September Christchurch
15 September Palmerston North
16 September Hastings
19 September Auckland

Early bird bookings for NZ close on 30 June 2009

You can read more about Diana and her husband Bill at

Geology Museum

I just wanted to let people know about the Geology Museum at the varsity. A visit to this museum could tie in nicely with the Geology program that Nicola is organising on the 10th June at the Otago Museum.

The university's Geology Museum is open to the public every week day, 8.30am-5pm. Their display cabinets are quite high, so small people will need to be lifted up and carried to see them, but there are large viewing windows through to the fossil preparation lab and you can apparently see students and staff working on specimens (assuming they're not having lunch or something I guess!).

More info here

I don't plan to organise a group trip or anything, but figured people could make their own arrangements at a time that suited themselves.

Apparently they do cater for school trips, so perhaps this is an option for the future?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pottery class - none this week

Special notice for those families participating in the fortnightly pottery classes, held on Wednesday mornings.

There is no pottery class this coming Wednesday 10th June as our tutor is out of town that day.

The final class for this term will be on June 25th.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Diary Dates - 1 June 2009

Wednesday 3 June - Otago Museum trip - Hercules - Beyond the Cartoon. 1.00 - 2.30pm, $3 per child. Nicola Pye (Replaces Edgar Centre session)

Friday 5 June - Central Fire Station visit #1 (FULL), Cumberland St. 10.30am. Selina-Jane

Wednesday 10 June - Otago Museum trip - Understanding the Past and uncovering the Future - Geology Rocks! 1.00 - 2.30pm, $3 per child. Nicola Pye (Replaces Edgar Centre session)

Friday 12 June - Central Fire Station visit #2, Cumberland St. 10.30am. Selina-Jane

Tuesday 23 June - Cafe Evening - Nova Cafe, The Octagon. 7.30 onwards. Kathrin Gilles

Wednesday 30 June - Intriguing Dunedin Street Walk - Roslyn. 1.00pm. Meet near 14 Delta St, Roslyn. Nicola Pye. Please contact Nicola for a copy of the map and details of the walk.

Otago Muesum Trip. Understanding the Past & Uncovering the Future - Geology Rocks

Contact Nicola Pye to register or for more info

Understanding the Past & Uncovering the Future - Geology Rocks

Wednesday 10 June, 1:00 – 2:30
Levels: 2 - 4
Curriculum links: Science (Making Sense of Planet Earth and Beyond; Making Sense of the Living World)
Cost: $3 per child
Your help is needed. Excavations at Tuatara Island have gone horribly wrong. Rocks have the wrong labels, fake fossils have become muddled with real ones and a very valuable item has been stolen. Use your skills as a geologist and palaeontologist to help the Museum fix the problem and learn how scientists uncover the past.

Otago Museum Trip. Hercules - Beyond the Cartoon

Contact Nicola Pye to register or for more info

Hercules - Beyond the cartoon
Wednesday 3 June from 1:00 – 2:30
Levels: 1 - 5
Curriculum links: Social Studies (Identity, Culture & Organisation; Continuity and Change), The Arts (Drama)
Cost: $3 per child
Ever wondered what life was like in ancient Greece? Be transported back in time where you will meet the Greek Gods and participate in everyday life as it really was.

Intriguing Dunedin Walks

Organised by Nicola Pye

The walks feature Dunedin's fascinating history, and I am sure everyone will learn something, while getting exercise! :-)

We will do our Intriguing Dunedin walks on the last Wednesday of each month, starting on Wednesday 24 June (this is the corrected date), at 1.00pm. If raining, we will meet at the Edgar Centre instead. The walks will replace the Edgar Centre sessions on nice days.

Nicola will send out a scanned version of the walk route and commentary by email, in the week leading up to the walk. Each walk has a different starting point (naturally!), so check that email for details.

Fire Station Trip

From Selina-Jane:
The first trip to the Fire station (on the 5th June) is completely full.
I have organised a second trip for the 12th June, which is also filling up fast. There are still a few places available on the trip on the 12th.
The second trip is on Friday 12th June, at 10:30 am and is at central fire station. The format and all the rest of the details are the same. At both tours I will have the fire wise materials in my boot, so people will be able to get anything they want off me then.

Contact Selina-Jane to sign up for this trip, or to get more information

Trip Details:
The tour will consist of a chance to look over, and climb over the fire truck/s (this will dependent on which trucks are available for us to look at on the morning). Brown watch will also show us the equipment they use, such as axes, hoses and fire sensing camera's....so there is a huge variety.
They will go over what firemen do all day, get dressed up in full rig to show the kids, and allow the kids to try on some of the uniform also. A lot is dependant on the day itself, as if it is a hideous day, then the tour will be confined to inside, so certain options will be out for us.
We will be shown all over the fire station, including in control rooms and such like.
They will divide us up into two groups....ages 0-7, and then 8 upwards, so that things can be more easily geared for each age group.
OSH rules limit a lot of what we are and are not able to do. Children will not be allowed to handle the fire hoses (although they may get to see the firemen doing this), they are also not allowed to slide down the fire pole (one of the guys will do it for us).
As Brown watch will be on call during the visit, they may have to leave at any time to attend a fire....if so, there will be someone else on hand to continue the tour, which may be a bit shorter. They do not do displays for school trips, but only for AMP shows and such like.
This is more of a chance to see in the fire station, than an educational trip, as we will organise a truck and team to come out in a few months to go over the information in the Fire Wise packs.
The tour will take 45 - 60 minutes, and there is parking inside the fire station ( through the large gates on Leith Street) for us to use....they have asked for us to limit our cars to about 10, so they still have room to do all the work they need to.

Welcome to our new Blog!

Hi everyone!

This is the new SHEAF Blog. We'll be using it to advertise the trips and gatherings etc that we also send out in our email newsletters.

On the blog, we'll be removing anyone's contact information, and assuming that you have the SHEAF phone and address list. If you're not currently on the list and would like to contact us, please email us at the address you can see in the column on the right.