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)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Weekend Reading - 10 ways to ease into homeschooling

From the Guilt Free Homeschooling blog. A lot of very sensible, encouraging articles at this blog. From a Christian homeschooler's perspective, but helpful and accessible to home edders of all persuasions. This article was written for the start of the 'school year'. Enjoy it at any time :~)

10 Ways to Ease Into Homeschooling

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Intriguing Dunedin Street Walks

Our next Intriguing Dunedin Street Walk is scheduled for 12:30pm, Wednesday 12 May. This is the third walk from the blue book (book 2), and we meet up at 70 Duncan St, City Rise.

This walk is supposed to take around 2 hours (so add at least another 30 mins on!) and is a bit hilly in some areas, with a small section of bush walk, so might not be great for push chairs/prams.

SPCA notice

Via Kathrin:
Forever homes are urgently needed for the 25+ dogs & puppies and countless cats and kittens currently at the Otago SPCA. If you are looking at bringing a pet into your family we need you!! Come visit us at the haven or check out our adoption section at http://www.petpals.co.nz/ . (Because there are more animals coming in daily not all are listed on the website straight away).
Donations of Cat/Kitten or puppy food, blankets and pets toys would also be greatly appreciated. Drop these into the Haven located at Torridon Street in Opoho or to Susan St. Clair-Newman (Southern Short Terms Claim Centre, Lvl 4, Otago House).
Volunteers & Dog Walkers also welcome - Dog walking 10am - 12pm every day.

Police Education workshops

We had a great bike safety talk with Heather Rei last week, and will organise more with her soon.

Our next topic will be "Keeping Ourselves Safe", but before she runs the workshop for the kids, she's very keen to meet with interested parents first, to explain what is discussed in these classes, and why. Obviously, she'd probably go into more detail when speaking to parents, so she'd like to do that without children present.

I thought I'd try to schedule this for one of our Wednesday afternoon meetings, so that parents who wanted to speak to her were able, while others weren't obliged to take part. Let me know if you don't think sounds like it would work, but I was imaging that if we have this meeting at someone's house, it would be easier to keep the kids occupied with a video or playing outside in a relatively safe and contained area while parents are distracted. Are people happy with this idea?

Feedback to Nicola, please

Diary Dates - 25 April 2010

Note: meeting place for aviary trip updated

As usual, if anyone has any suggestions for trips or activities, or would like to organise anything for our group, please feel free!

every Monday during term time: Swimsation lessons 11- 12pm, socialising from 12pm onwards. If you are interested in joining the lessons, contact Swimsation at Moana Pool. Otherwise, just turn up!

7:30pm, Tuesday 27 April: Mums' Night Out, Nova Cafe.

10:50am, Wednesday 28 April: Botanic Gardens Aviary trip (Tammy). Meet at the Information Centre by the cafe, lower gardens.

1:00 - 2:30pm, Wednesday 5 May: "Celebrating the Pacific" workshop, Otago Museum. Contact Nicola to book at

12:30pm, Wednesday 12 May: Intriguing Dunedin Street Walk, Blue Book, Walk 3, meet outside of 70 Duncan St, City Rise.

12:30pm, Wednesday 19 May: Art Gallery trip - contact Kathrin to book


1:00pm, Wednesday 1 September: St John's "Safe Kids" first aid course for children. Contact Kathrin to book

Remember, if it's raining, our outdoor meet-ups or walks will be cancelled/postponed

Friday, April 23, 2010

Weekend Reading - Free Charlotte Mason Audios

Okay, so this isn't really "reading" as such (although I'll list some links for some background reading at the end of the post).

Charlotte Mason was a 19th century educator who encouraged a style of teaching that includes composer study, learning multiple languages, reading living books ("classics," we often call them), learning from art, and spending plenty of time in nature study.

Here are free audios of lectures and keynote presentations from Childlight USA's Charlotte Mason conferences. The lecture on "Knowing what knowers know" (on page 2 of the downloads, I believe) was one I found particularly helpful when thinking about the "assessment" component of writing my exemption application! Note that there are 4 pages of links available.

Thanks to the Freely Educate Blog for the links.

For more about Charlotte Mason and information about home education with a Charlotte Mason flavour, check out some of these links:

Simply Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason in a Nutshell

This week's Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival, hosted by Our Journey Westward (a blog carnival is a blog post which links to a whole pile of other blogs all posting on a related theme - in this case, on how they express Charlotte Mason style home education in their homes. Warning - blog carnivals are addictive and can cause major loss of hours of your time!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Diary Dates - 19 April 2010

Welcome to another exciting term :-D

We have the Police Education Officer's visit scheduled for this Wednesday's meet-up. She sounds really lovely, and although she'll probably chat mostly about bike safety, she said the kids are welcome to ask her about anything at all, as she really wants them to feel comfortable She'll be at the Dinosaur Park/Marlow Park at 12:30, to have lunch with us and give the kids time to get used to her before her talk, so don't forget lunch, bikes, scooters, rollerblades or skateboards and warm jackets as it usually seems to be a bit brisk at Marlow Park. If it's raining, we'll meet at my house, in which case don't worry about bringing the bikes etc., as there's not really anywhere safe to ride them. So far, Wednesday's forecast is fine, so see you all at the park!

every Monday during term time: Swimsation lessons 11- 12pm, socialising from 12pm onwards. If you are interested in joining the lessons, contact Swimsation at Moana Pool. Otherwise, just turn up!

12:30pm, Wednesday 21 April: Meet up at Marlow Park with bike safety talk by Police Education Officer Heather Rei. Bring lunch and bikes. If it's raining, meet at Nicola's house.

7:30pm, Tuesday 27 April: Mums' Night Out, Nova Cafe.

Wednesday 28 April: Botanic Gardens Aviary trip - TO BE CONFIRMED

1:00 - 2:30pm, Wednesday 5 May: "Celebrating the Pacific" workshop, Otago Museum. Contact Nicola to book

12:30pm, Wednesday 12 May: Intriguing Dunedin Street Walk.

12:30pm, Wednesday 19 May: Art Gallery trip. Contact Kathrin to book.

1:00pm, Wednesday 1 September: St John's "Safe Kids" first aid course for children. Contact Kathrin to book

Remember, if it's raining, our outdoor meet-ups or walks will be cancelled/postponed.

Youth Development Course - Outdoor ed and living on a yacht

Via Kathrin:

"The Otago Masonic Charitable Trust operates as charitable arm for the Otago Masonic Lodges in providing funds for charity to the community. Each year the Trust gives around $100,000 to a variety of organisations or persons through grants and educational scholarships. The Trusts objectives include the supporting of the disabled, the elderly and youth. To this end we have in the past provided funds to young people to go to Outward Bound or Spirit of Adventure courses.

Recently, we have re-evaluated this programme and have decided to change the way we assist young people in their personal development. With this in mind we have recently launched a new initiative.

The Trust offers a 7 Day outdoor Education Programme, in association with Elwing Discoveries, based at Stewart Island, especially for young people who have left school, and are aged between 16 and 25 years old. Applications Close 30 June 2010

The 2010 course commences at Bluff on 17th OCTOBER finishing on 23rd October. Cost to participants (or sponsors) $150 plus travel to and from Bluff. The Trust will meet the balance of the costs. The course is limited to 10 persons.

Participants will be involved in some academic study, kayaking, snorkelling, bush walking, boating, and will live onboard the yacht ‘Elwing’. As part of the course the participants will study towards their NZ Coastguard Dayskipper Certificate, and the NZ VHF Operators Certificate. The objective of the course is help develop the life skills of the participants both individually and as team members, while experiencing a wonderful part of New Zealand.

You may like to look at the ‘Elwing Discoveries’ website: www.southernlights.co.nz/elwing

If you require more information or are interested in supporting a young person on this programme, please contact myself as Trust Secretary, (03) 454 2533, Barry Jackson, our Central Otago Sub District secretary (03) 448 6847 or any Otago Masonic Lodge.

Yours faithfully
Grant Watson.
Otago Masonic Charitable Trust. Ph (03) 454 2533
email (remove spaces) kipling4 @ paradise.net.nz"

NZ Post Children's Book Awards - story competition

Via Kathrin:

New Zealand Post is proud to support the Children's Book Awards.
And this year, we're creating a commemorative collection of New Zealand Children's Stories - written by New Zealand children! Send us your story and you could be one of our published writers.

What you could win
Each of our 50 winning entrants will receive $50 in Booksellers Tokens and their very own copy of the collection of winning entries - professionally illustrated and published! Plus, the school with the most entries will also receive $1000 worth of Booksellers Tokens. Each week all entrants will go in our lucky prize draw to win a finalist book from the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2010.

Info here:
Share your writing magic

Competition is open to all year 1 - 8 school children and entries close on the
30th of April, 2010.

Otago Museum trip

Our museum trip has been confirmed for 1:00 - 2:30pm, Wednesday 5 May.
The cost will be $3 per child and we'll meet in the foyer as usual, just before 1pm.

Once again, there are limited numbers, so read on for the description of the workshop, then email Nicola if you'd like to book.

"Celebrating the Pacific": Investigate the place celebrations have in the different Pacific cultures of the Samoans, the Cook Islanders, the Fijians and the Australian Aborigines. Experience a slice of these celebrations for yourself.

Aimed at Levels 1 - 5 as part of the Social Studies programme (identity, culture and organisation, continuity and change).

Botanic Gardens aviary trip

Tammy is still waiting to receive confirmation for a Botanic Gardens aviary trip on Wednesday 28 April, but in the meantime here is a link about the aviary, and another one for the information sheets from the education kit.

Botanic Garden Aviary

Education Kit Information It looks like there are worksheets etc online for free, but the actual 'kits' (including a set of feathers and a set of nests) are for hire.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Weekend Reading - Hands-on Learning - Science

Another instalment in the Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers series on Hands-on Learning. This week her focus is on science:

Adding Spark to Your Homeschool Through Hands-on Learning: Science

Monday, April 12, 2010

Video - Big or Small

I've found a way to embed video on the blog!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Video - Sandra Dodd on Unschooling

We'll do another video today, instead of the usual 'weekend reading' slot...

There are as many different ways to home educate as there are families doing the home educating - but the different approaches tend to fall into some broad categories.

One of these broad categories is Unschooling, and today's video (actually a series of 3 videos) is an interview with Sandra Dodd - one of the earlier practitioners and supporters of Unschooling - on what it can look like and how it can work.

Sandra Dodd Pt 1 : Path to Unschooling

Sandra Dodd Pt 2 : Unschooling and Real Learning

Sandra Dodd Pt 3 : The Universe inside your Head

I know the 3rd video looks like the interview should continue, but I can't find a Pt 4 anywhere - if you find it, leave the link in the comments section!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Video - Nature by Numbers

I thought we'd mark the 'school holidays' with a few videos.

The usual YouTube warnings apply - YouTube is not a censored environment and as such is not recommended for kids without parental supervision. I've tried to embed the video here, but the Blogger column isn't wide enough to accommodate the video. That being said, I've not seen anything objectionable on the page for this video clip.

We'll start with Nature by Numbers. It is best viewed on the full-screen and is simply breathtaking.

Nature by Numbers by Eterea Studios on YouTube

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Weekend Reading - Hands-on learning - History

We're back to Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers for another instalment of her series on Hands-on Learning. This week she looks at the Social Sciences and how to "add spark" to History and Geography.

Adding Spark to Your Homeschool Through Hands-on Learning: History