Posted in For Family

Why I Let My Kids Watch Star Wars

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As Star Wars fans, my husband and I have started showing some of the age-appropriate Star Wars films to our two boys. They have so enjoyed them, I daresay we have created mini Star Wars fans. Now, when they play with their Star Wars Lego, they actually know which scene it’s from and love to re-enact all the action.

Having said that, I still prefer not to let my kids at their ages right now to watch the Star Wars movies with the uglier aliens and scarier parts (like Episode 6). If you feel your kids are too young for Star Wars, there are also the Star Wars animated series like Star Wars Rebels and Clone Wars. They follow on with the official Star Wars stories that are great alternatives to the live-action movies.

But anyway, I have thought of why I personally love Star Wars and why I will allow my kids to watch the movies. I honestly feel the lessons we can learn from the movies have undertones of eternal truths. I also absolutely adore the music and as a musician I thoroughly enjoy listening to and playing a couple of my favourite scores.

Note: If you have not watched the Star Wars movies, there are a few spoilers contained in this article.

Star Wars Teaches Good Lessons

We all know the iconic struggle between the Light Side and the Dark Side. This obviously teaches children good and bad through the story of the Jedi versus the Sith. Take Anakin Skywalker, for example. Because he gave in to his fear, he succumbed to the Dark Side. And became a half-robotic Sith Lord we all know as Darth Vader.

The lesson: Choose the right, even if you are afraid.

Also, Star Wars teaches friendship. Han and Chewbacca, Luke and Han, Finn and Rey; these friendships all stood the test of the hardships they faced. Star Wars teaches loyalty and bravery to help your friends when in need. Like on the ice Planet Hoth, Han risked his life to go out into the freezing blizzard to find and rescue Luke. If it weren’t for brave Han, Luke would have become part of the frozen foods section for roaming carnivorous Hoth critters. He also wouldn’t have been around to help defeat the wicked Emperor.

The lesson: Help your friends, even if it’s inconvenient.

The Rebels for the Resistance were miniscule in comparison to the scary Empire or First Order. There seem to only have been a handful of rebels in comparison to the thousands of Storm Troopers and the Clone Army. Not to mention the gigantic size and amount of their space crafts. Nevertheless, the Rebels always clung onto the tiny glimmer of hope and never stopped fighting, each one becoming a hero as they gave their all for the cause.

The lesson: We must never stop fighting evil.

And lastly, what about how Vader became good Anakin again? We learn that bad people can become good. And then when you are finally good, will you always be good? Well, remember how Luke (between Episodes 6 and 7) turned bad because he lost hope in the role of the Jedi? However, he did turn good again in Episode 8 and he helped save the Resistance.

The lesson: Bad people can become good people. Good people can become bad people. We must never stop trying to be good people. 

These are awesome stories that teach our kids valuable lessons, right?

There are a bunch of other lessons that can be learned from the Star Wars movies, considering there are currently 8 movies! Soon to be 9 movies by the end of 2019.

Star Wars Movie Music Is Beautifully Emotive

Ah, John Williams, what a singular, talented composer he is! For those of you who do not know John Williams the composer, he has composed much of the beautiful movie music of our day: Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, E.T. and Hook – just to name a few. He is a great example of taking classical composition concepts and modernizing them.

The music in Star Wars is so emotive because of how beautifully the music has been written. It conveys the mood of each scene so well. His style is really fantastic and may I even go so far as to say that Star Wars would not be the great movie it is today without John Williams. I honestly still tear up when I listen to Luke and Leia’s theme.

My son can recognize the main themes of Star Wars, like Yoda’s theme and Darth Vader’s and so it has developed his ear for different melodies. At the bottom of this post, you can listen to Rey’s Theme from Episode VII – The Force Awakens. I love the sweet simplicity of the melody and the choice of instruments, it’s really a lovely theme.

Star Wars Is About Exciting Stuff Kids Love

Space ships, light sabers, aliens, robots, princesses, galaxies far away . . . it’s the making of a great story that kids (of all ages) will enjoy. It’s fun, yet mysterious and captivating.  It is the answer to the yearning of a child’s imagination. Although, with that being said, there are actually a couple of boring conversations about politics and battle strategies that children may not appreciate at all. But it never lasts too long until the next scene comes on with some kind of light-saber duel.


With all the lessons to be learned and beautiful music to be appreciated in Star Wars movies, there’s a lot of value for kids. Whichever movies you as a parent decide to show your kids — May the Force be with you!

 

Posted in For The Love of Music, Music and Movement Lesson Plans

Under The Sea – Music & Movement Lesson Plan

This week’s music and movement lesson is on the theme Under The Sea. I’m pretty sure the first thing that comes to all of our minds is of Sebastian the crab singing “Under The Sea” in his Jamaican accent.

In this theme, there are so many different songs and resources you could choose from. But Super Simple Songs are honestly my favourite. Their songs are of a high standard and are structured very simply, logically and clearly in the progression of the lyrics. Their videos that go along with their songs are just so inviting and wholesome. Children seem to learn Super Simple Songs easily. Go and check out their YouTube channel and be sure to subscribe. You won’t be sorry. You will find many songs that you will love to use.

Materials Preparation:

Find a few different pictures or toys of sea creatures.

Bring along a portable instrument or even a few different ones (if you have) for the Musical Principle Activity. This could be a recorder, mouth organ, ukulele or guitar.

Prepare the songs included in the lesson outline below (you can buy them on iTunes or download them from YouTube). They are:

Familiarise yourself with the songs prior to the class. Bring along small percussion instruments for the children to use, such as small drums, maracas or bells for the Instrumental Activity.

  1. Hello Song/Warm-up Song:
    • Gather the children together in a circle and greet one another with the Hello Song/Warm-up Song you prefer to use.
  2. Circle Time Songs: 
    • Use 2 or 3 simple songs for every lesson just to help the children feel familiar and confident. You can use a parachute that all the children hold onto in a circle in different ways for each song. It’s okay too if you do not have a parachute – you may use a big colourful blanket or none at all.
      • Ring a Ring of Roses (Children hold the parachute in a circle and walk around in a circle, fall down, then jump up, make the “wind” billow the parachute up and down quickly, etc.)
      • Row, Row, Row Your Boat (Children sway from side to side holding the parachute, like rowing a boat, then making big or small waves up and down, and even letting a toy fish or shark “float on the water” i.e. on the parachute)
      • The Grand Old Duke of York (children march in place, lift the parachute up then down, and then salute)
      • Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (children go around in a circle holding the parachute for the first verse, and then rub the parachute material together in their hands for the second verse – “This is the way we wash our clothes”)
  3. Introduction of Theme: UNDER THE SEA
    • Introduce the Under The Sea theme using toys or pictures you found of different sea creatures.
    • Ask the children to name some of the creatures you show them.
    • “A Sailor Went To Sea” Super Simple Songs – Act out the song! Pretend you all are sailors going to sea to see what you can see in the sea.
  4. Gross Motor Activity:
  5. Musical Principle Activity:
    • The sea can be big and loud during a thunderstorm, then still and quiet on a calm sunny day. The children will learn about dynamics in music,
    • Explain what dynamics are: How loud or soft the note that is being played sounds.
    • Use the portable instrument(s) that you brought to demonstrate loud and soft playing.
    • Teach the children that the real musical name for loud is forte and the real musical name for soft is piano. You may add that these words are Italian – a different language in the world that is used in musical terms.
    • Now it’s time to practice playing loudly and softly! Call out to the children to play softly and then loudly on their percussion instruments, so that they understand the concept of soft and loud.
    • Emphasize also that when they play loudly, it doesn’t necessarily mean to play fast and vice versa – when they play softly it doesn’t mean play slowly.
  6. Instrument Activity:
    • Song: “Under The Sea” by Alan Menken – The Little Mermaid
    • If you like, you may even show the children a picture of Alan Menken and explain that he is a composer and it is his job is to write songs for movies. You could even show a picture of The Little Mermaid.
    • Play percussion instruments to the song.
    • Make sure the children are able to learn how to play on the beat. Count 1-2-3-4 aloud as you play along with the song.
    • You can decide if the children should sit or stand for this activity. You can try to imitate different sea life movements as you play – play like jellyfish, or like a whale, shark or octopus.
    • Also point out all the different instruments that can be heard during the song.
  7. Conclusion
    • If you like, you could do “Baby Shark” again.
    • Remind the children to be super careful while swimming in the sea! They should not swim out too far out by themselves.
    • Teach the children to be kind to the environment; never ever throw litter on the beach as the litter can harm sea life.
    • Sing your Goodbye/Winding-down song in your circle.
Posted in For Family, For Food

How Having Eggs For Breakfast Changed Our Lives

As a teen, some of my friends at school would often tell me that they hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning. Me on the other hand was totally like, “Man, breakfast was the reason I got out of bed this morning!”

And I’ve been that way even as a young adult, BK – Before Kids.

Now, AK – After Kids, my kids are the reason I get out of bed. And then the second reason I get out of bed is to make breakfast for my kids. So things haven’t changed too much I suppose.

Breakfasts for me mean high-fibre, not too much sugar, full cream milk or yogurt and maybe a little fresh or dried fruit on the side. Sounds good, right? And yes, it is a pretty good breakfast I think, compared to all the boxes of colourful carbs advertised with popular characters that they call “breakfast”.

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But, it’s only half of what a good breakfast should be.

By 9am, I am starving. Starving as in “Hey, it’s time for second breakfast!” You know, like hobbits do. Because seriously, my body burns up all the breakfast carbs so quickly. Even if they are full of fibre and more complex carbs, it’s just not enough.

Then, one morning, the obvious dawned upon my husband and I:

We should do some eggs!

That morning was the dawn of our Breakfast Revolution and wonderful things happened.

Here’s What Happened

First off, it changed our kids. My youngest son’s moods have always been somewhat erratic. However, when I picked him up from school the morning we gave him eggs, the teacher asked me: “What did you give your son for breakfast this morning? He is a different child!” Those were her exact words! She told me how happy and energetic he had been that day. I couldn’t believe what a difference a little plate of scrambled eggs made!

Then for me – I became less of a hobbit and I no longer needed “Second Breakfast” at 9am. I still may eat lunches slightly early, but my body’s blood sugar levels are much more even and happier. This also has helped curb my carb-cravings at 9am, which my waist-line is definitely thankful for.

My husband loved how satiated he felt even a while after breakfast. He also appreciates the fact that eggs are such an economical yet nutritious form of protein that we can afford to eat every morning. Although the question has now evolved to, how can you not afford a good breakfast? 

I recently came across this saying:

“If you think Wellness is expensive, try Illness”

Here’s some of the nutritional benefits of eggs:

  • Each egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein
  • all nine essential amino acids (which are the building blocks of cells in the body)
  • choline (important for liver function, brain development, nerve and muscle function and metabolism)
  • selenium (important for immunity and thyroid functioning)
  • vitamin D (for healthy strong bones)
  • phosphorus (important for the kidneys, metabolism, endocrine system, digestive system and muscle functioning)
  • riboflavin (plays a role in energy production)

Now, you may be wondering: What about the cholesterol that all those dietitians warned us about?

Nowadays, studies show that the cholesterol eggs contain is actually dietary cholesterol – different from the blood cholesterol in your body. Despite the warnings of the past, eating eggs will not increase your blood cholesterol levels. Not convinced? Here’s an article that the National Heart Foundation of Australia wrote about Eggs and Cholesterol.

There are so many wonderful articles out there about all the benefits of eggs. But, if you cannot see yourself eating eggs every morning, do try some other form of healthy protein that you enjoy. Your breakfasts need not be time-consuming to prepare, but make sure they contain nutritious foods high in fibre and protein.

Plus, you won’t be feeling so starving by lunch time. If you are super busy during the day and you usually don’t get time to have a good lunch, or at all, you can at least take comfort in the fact that your breakfast was AWESOME. So it’s not a train-smash if lunch was a bit rushed, or skipped.

In conclusion, may I add my disclaimer: I am not a dietician, so if what I am saying doesn’t suit you, please consult a qualified dietician! However, my ultimate point that I am trying to make is to convince you to make your breakfasts better by adding some good form of protein. You will surely see the difference over time. (I am quite confident that any dietician will agree).

Having a good breakfast has really helped our family in our daily lives to feel more energized and capable of completing the day’s tasks. If you contemplate the growing bodies and minds of your children, there is no question that you will want to give them the best. And for the rest of us adults growing older through the years, our bodies need natural and nutritious foods that serves us well and keeps us healthy.

Feel free to comment below about super nutritious breakfast ideas that you love, I’d really enjoy to hear from you!

Posted in For The Love of Music, Music and Movement Lesson Plans

Learning Direction – Music & Movement Lesson Plan


This week’s music and movement lesson is on learning Direction. As in – up, down, behind, left, right, in front of, etc.. Here’s a great topic to reinforce using music to help our kids understand us exasperated parents when we try to direct them to find their other shoe, sock or toy. Yes folks… this topic of Direction deserved it’s very own theme of the week! I can just imagine all the parents applauding the choice of theme, perhaps even shedding a tear of joy.

Materials Preparation: Print or draw a big, bold picture of an arrow on an A4 cardboard. You may even laminate it if you wish. Here’s one you could use:

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Also bring a portable instrument or even a few (if you have) for the Musical Principle Activity. This could be a recorder, mouth organ, ukulele or guitar.

Prepare the songs included in the lesson outline below (you can buy them on iTunes or download them from YouTube). They are:

  • “Here We Go” Jack Hartmann
  • “Hickory, Dickory…Crash!” Super Simple Songs
  • “Upside Down” Jack Johnson
  • “One Little Finger” Super Simple Songs

As always, listen to and learn the songs prior to the class so that you know how the songs go. You may use other Direction songs if you prefer to use other songs of your choice. Bring along small percussion instruments for the children to use, such as small drums, maracas or bells for the Instrumental Activity.

  1. Hello Song/Warm-up Song:
    • Gather the children together in a circle and greet one another with the Hello Song/Warm-up Song you prefer to use.
  2. Circle Time Songs: 
    • These songs are the same ones you use every week just to help the children feel familiar and confident. You can rotate through a few different ones as you feel. You can use a parachute that all the children hold onto in a circle in different ways for each song. It’s okay too if you do not have a parachute – you may use a big colourful blanket or none at all. The idea is just to be able to draw all the children into the music and movement lesson as you do the same familiar warm-up songs. The ones I use with the parachute are:
      • Ring a Ring of Roses (Children hold the parachute and walk around in a circle, fall down, jump up, make the “wind” billow the parachute up and down quickly, etc.)
      • Row, Row, Row Your Boat (Children sway from side to side holding the parachute, like rowing a boat, then making big or small waves up and down, and even letting a stuffed teddy bear “float on the water” i.e. on the parachute – children love to make the stuffed animal bounce up and down on the parachute!)
      • The Grand Old Duke of York (children march in place, lift the parachute up then down, and then salute)
      • Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush (children go around in a circle holding the parachute for first verse, and then rub the parachute material together in their hands for the second verse – “This is the way we wash our clothes”)
  3. Introduction of Theme: DIRECTION
    • Introduce the Direction theme using the big arrow picture you made.
    • Ask the children what arrows are used for and what they tell us.
    • Do some activity examples using the arrow for the children to see – wave your hands up; shake your hands down; hide your hands away; move them to the left or right; spin around; and fold your arms in front of you.
    • Now use the song “Here We Go” by Jack Hartmann. I enjoyed using this song because it is upbeat and cool.
    • Ask the children to all carefully follow the direction you move as you dance to the song.
  4. Imagination Activity:
    • Song: “Hickory, Dickory… Crash!” Super Simple Songs
    • This is a fun song that teaches up and down, as well as counting.
    • Use the cues from the song to act out the different animals.
    • The song ends in everyone crashing to the floor because the elephant sat on the clock!
  5. Musical Principle Activity:
    • Music also follows direction! We think of the direction that pitch moves in, whether it is going up (high pitch) or going down (low pitch)
    • Use the portable instrument(s) that you brought to demonstrate high and low pitch.
    • Explain what pitch is: How high or low the note that is being played sounds.
    • Now it’s time to play the Pitch Perfect Game: When you play a high pitch, the children raise their hands in the air. When you play a low pitch, the children must touch the floor. It’s a cute activity that the children enjoy as they hear different pitches. This activity is important in developing the children’s ear for different pitches.
  6. Instrument Activity:
    • Play instruments to the song “Upside Down” by Jack Johnson.
    • Make sure the children are able to learn how to play on the beat. Count 1-2-3-4 aloud as you play along with the song. You can decide if the children should sit or stand for this activity.
    • Mix up things with doing different actions while playing the instruments, like playing above your head, behind your back, turning around, playing fast or slowly, etc. Be creative with using all the directional terms the children will understand.
  7. Conclusion/Gross Motor Activity:
    • “One Little Finger” Super Simple Songs
    • Here’s another song that teaches up and down, as you use your one little finger to point.
    • Use the cues from the song to point to each different part of the body: head, nose, chin, arm, leg and foot.
    • This song ends with “Goodbye” which makes it a very suitable concluding song.
    • Sing your Goodbye/Winding-down song in your circle.
Posted in For Family, For Fun

7 Tips For Camping With Kids

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We are blessed to have a close-knit family on my husband’s side that spends a lot of time together. It’s really a wonderful thing. We have fortunately also been able to go on a few holidays together. Most recently, our family holiday has been camping, because camping is obviously the most economical choice to accommodate so many people. To be more precise about what so many is: 8 adults, 3 children, 2 toddlers and 1 baby.

Yep. Call us desperate for a holiday!

Disclaimer: I am by no means a seasoned camper nor am I so skilled and knowledgeable about camping. This post is based solely on one camping trip. I am going to share some of our experiences and tips for CAMPING WITH KIDS.

Let’s begin then…

There’s A LOT You Have To Pack

This was the first thing we learned. Wow. You don’t realise how a hundred different things pile up. But the things I am talking about are only the really very necessary items. Children and babies need lots of different things which all add up. I am not talking about luxuries like your child’s whole collection of Barbies. There is only space for stuff you will realistically be needing. So abandon the idea of taking the whole bookset of The Lord of The Rings (that you dream somehow you will have so much time to read) and just take your tablet or e-reader with books downloaded to read. Definitely let your kids take a few of their toys (that you won’t mind getting a bit grubby or even lost) because toys are necessities. We actually only managed to fit everything into the trailer by accidentally leaving one of our mattresses behind. But no – please do not leave your mattress behind.

Camping Tip #1: Try to be realistic in what stuff your kids need and maximise your efficiency in packing. Use a list! Also, you best become a Tetris master at packing to help save space.

Location, Location

My husband grew up going camping with his family during the summer at Rocky Bay Caravan Park, situated on the Durban South Coast. There are many great places to camp, but as a family we felt we were lacking in Vitamin Sea. So we decided Rocky Bay would be a great place to go.

Camping by the beach! That sounds totally awesome, right? We imagined ourselves rolling out of our tents on a beautiful beachy morning right onto the beach sand… sipping our drinks out of coconut shells garnished with those little colourful umbrellas.

We didn’t think much of the actual travel time it takes to get there. Who cares? It’s the beach! For us, in reality it’s a 7 hour journey to get down to the coast. It made us feel a bit like old wagon pioneers, with our tightly packed van towing a heavily laden trailer.

Camping tip #2: Choose a campsite that is at most about 2 hours away or less just to keep things pleasant for your kids. Plus, if someone gets sick (I am still getting to the sick story part) OR you leave your mattress at home, a shorter distance is MUCH more bearable should you need to turn back. I am not saying never go camping to far-off places, but with young children, a closer destination really makes life less stressful. When the kids grow older and become more hardy, then it is more manageable to take them to other further camping places.

For the journey, be sure to make a lot of stops along the way for your kids to have potty breaks and to stretch their legs to run around.

Also, be overly prepared with their in-transit entertainment. Have car games, snacks, lots of fun and different music to listen to and songs to sing. Remember their comfort blankets and a few toys. Movie players and tablets are great, but be cautious with car-sickness. I remember having to get REALLY creative with entertaining our 5-month old baby in the car, as she had a boredom meltdown in her car chair and cried for the last hour of the car trip. I do not blame her for that; the travel time was really too much for her. Enduring the sound of a baby crying for an hour doesn’t leave anyone in good spirits.

Camping tip #3: Make sure you arrive at your campsite with enough daylight time for setting up. Due to some unforeseen circumstances we only left later in the day and got to the camping site in the evening. The kids were all tired from the car trip but they were overly excited. And it was supper time too. Then try set up tents in the dark to accommodate a bunch of grumpy adults and moggy children. We did it somehow – with a lot of patience and help from flashlights and phone lights.

Be Prepared For Rain Or Shine

Now don’t get me wrong, we loved the beach location, and we had great days out in the sand and sun. But the weather played up a bit so even being at a beach campsite didn’t mean we could always be at the beach.

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Camping Tip #4: Be prepared for all sorts of weather! Bring your sunglasses and sunhats PLUS raincoats and gumboots. Bring some summer clothes and winter clothes. Being out in nature makes you very aware and vulnerable to every little change in climate, be it even the direction the wind is blowing. Also bring toys and activities for outdoors and indoors, for when the weather is awesome and when it isn’t so great. Be prepared or prepare yourself for a miserable camping experience.

Toilet Trips… Here We Go Again

Now we know children are little human beings whose bodies are growing too fast for the size of their bladders. And that is why they will almost always blurt out at the least opportune moments at the very last minute that they need the bathroom. But when you are camping, unless you do have a Porta-Potty, the closest bathroom may not be as close as your one at home. Depending upon your camp site of course, if there are ablutions or just dirt and leaves as your place to go. But where we went, the bathrooms were about a 2 minute walk. There was many a sprint made to make it there in time. So you may rack up some great numbers on your FitBit as you walk/run with your kids to the toilet a dozen times a day. This part actually made me glad my two younger children were still in diapers.

But what if they don’t make it to the bathroom in time? Yes, this really does happen. Thankfully, it is the outdoors, so some things done without a toilet are acceptable. But what if your child needs to throw up…?

This brings me to my next point.

In Sickness Or Health

Camping Tip #5: Bring extra blankets and clothing. You NEVER know how they may come in handy. Camping is pretty much all about being prepared. For anything.

So here is the story. One of the children somehow caught a stomach bug. Poor thing! She threw up on her blankets and pajamas and so other clean linen and clothing somehow had to be conjured for her. The dirty stuff was shoved into garbage bags to be washed at home.

Unfortunately… our greatest fears were realized when the tummy bug spread to others  – 8 out of 14 of us, including me. This even happened the night before we had to pack up camp to go home. And what a night it was! It went from the sublime to the ridiculous when one person after the other was throwing up in the bushes behind the tents. Even mixing bowls and pots were used from the camping kitchen tent to throw up into. That night made saints of many in our family.

Camping Tip #6: Bring a fully stocked first aid kit which also includes some medication to help nausea and to prevent dehydration. Someone also had burnt themselves on the campfire while cooking supper. Thankfully I had brought some ointment and bandages to treat burns.

One last story I will share is when my husband found a beautifully preserved exo-skeleton of a crab in between the rocks in the rock pools. We decided to take it back home with us and we affectionately named it “Mr Krabs”. I carefully placed him in a plastic container for protection on the trip back home. However, we all were still nauseas and throwing up. At one point, when my son told me he needed to throw up in the car, the first container I could grab for him was… yep, you guessed it – the one with Mr Krabs inside. I am sure Mr Krabs was looking down from heaven feeling very relieved that he was dead. Brings new meaning to seafood chowder, doesn’t it?

Camping Tip #7: Bring lots of different containers and disposable bags for odds and ends and things like souvenir crabs and well, vomit.

In Conclusion…

I hope that as you read this post about camping with kids, that you are able to glean some bits and pieces of useful information that will aid you in your decisions for your next family camp-trip.

Camping is a great way to have a family holiday. It is affordable and it teaches children how to work for their holiday as well. But even with the tough things we went through on our camping trip, we made wonderful memories. We laugh about all the awful parts now. I should also mention that Rocky Bay is a very nice caravan park, there was a lot of things for the kids to do.

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I wish you all the very best for a safe and enjoyable camping trip where you will make wonderful memories as a family!

Oh and please don’t forget to pack your mattresses.