Today we visited South Dakota!

Well today was a very interesting day!

We have been involved in what we have called a ‘Cultural Exchange Envelope’. This is a project that the children and I devised in order to make our learning about other countries, people around the world and cultures more fun. It involves a person, family or school group to collect paper based items from where they live, and to put them into an envelope and post them over to us and we do the same thing back to them.

We have devised a list of what kinds of paper based items people can put into the envelope, the list is definitely not exhaustive, but gives an in depth idea to those participating of what they can add to the envelope to post over to us.. These items are based on accessibility and low cost. which is designed to help us learn more about their actual daily life where they live as well as keep costs down to the minimum. Basically the most expensive part of this envelope exchange is actually posting the envelope off to some one some where else in the world.

Anyway, Yesterday we received a cultural exchange envelope from another home educating family in the state of South Dakota in the USA. Unfortunately we did not get time to actually open it and examine the contents of the envelope until today. But what a wonderful surprise it was to open it and view all the wonderful things they had sent us!

The envelope contained a letter from the family for us telling us about their life. It also had a photo of them and a write up of a ‘Day in their live” which gave us a wonderful insight into what life is like for them where they live. We were able to see a little of their state through the five post cards they enclosed and had a wonderful history lesson reading through the enclosed information about Mt Rushmore in the student guide provided.

This wonderful family had also enclosed a copy of their local newspaper – the Rapid City Newspaper – which was a interesting read. Not only was it great to see what news is about where they live, it was very interesting to see just how long, but slim their newspaper is! They also enclosed a copy of their local grocery store leaflet. This too was very interesting. The prices of the food and items seemed very cheap, however we will be working on establishing just how cheap, when we sit down for a maths lesson (once everyone is no longer sick) and Jah has to convert LBS to Kilos, American Dollar to the Australian Dollar and Gallons to Litres!

Other items that were enclosed in the envelope include:

South Dakota State colouring in pages

State Map

Hunting and Fishing puzzles

South Dakota Wildlife Sheet

A Stamp

Tourist Pamphlets –

  • wall / badlands
  • Bear Country
  • Chapel in the Hills
  • Hotel Alex Johnson
  • Homestake mine
  • Landstrom’s Black Hills Gold
  • Reptile Gardens
  • Crazy Horse
  • Bear Butte
  • Custer State Park
  • Devil’s Tower
  • Tribal Lands
  • Spearfish

Information sheet on Wild bill Hickok

5 Postcards

A photograph of the family

A list of educational Websites related to their state and area.

Rapid City Newspaper

Diary Entry

Letter to us

Grocery Ads

South Dakota - Cultural Exchange Envelope Contents

South Dakota - Cultural Exchange Envelope Contents

We will also be looking at all the leaflets to read about each individual place. Then we will choose one or two to do some further research on. I am Hoping that Jah will choose to present her findings in either a power point presentation (which we can then add to this website for you all to see) or as a written project.

Our Trip to South Dakota has been a great one, it has been taken through the eyes of  a local and a trip that without our new friends we would not been able to have. So thank you to the ‘H’ Family who shared not only a little of their state with us, but a lot of their daily life with us too!

Learning about China through Reading, Documentaries, Research and Chinese Crafts.

Well we have been busy over the last three weeks working on our subject of China. The children have enjoyed watching a variety of documentaries related to the country. Most days we have also focused on a different activity or craft related to China.

Some of the things we have created include:

Chinese Word searches and Games

Chinese Colouring Ins

Chinese Dragons from Handprints

Chinese Lanterns

Lucky Chinese Envelopes

Large Chinese Dragon

Chinese Paper Dolls

Chinese Masks

Chinese Writing

Chinese fact Finding

Chinese Meal – Fried Rice

Chinese Mobile

Chinese New Year Dragon

Here is a picture of some of our work!

Nik's work

Nik's work

Jah's Work

Jah's Work

Our Next country and theme is Japan, where we will be exploring this for a three week period, so keep an eye out for some of the things we get up too!

Cultural Exchange Envelope – learning about the world around us though another persons eyes.

Well we have devised a new way to learn about other countries, their people and cultures.

I have been looking for a way to make learning more fun. Then all of a sudden it came to me . Why not try to organise a ‘Cultural Exchange envelope’. The more I thought about this the more I knew it could work. I first tried attracting people to be involved in this exchange in late October last year, however I never managed to get enough people really interested. So I shelved it for a while, before really starting to actively engage myself in trying to get others to join in. So from today onwards I am hoping to get others interested in the project involved and the envelopes exchanged!

All of the contents would be paper based, in fact most of it could be sourced from around the house for free and also from the local Tourist Information Centre or from a Tourist Attraction themselves. The items would be a representation of where each participant lives and their daily life. They would provide a glimpse into the world through their eyes and a way for us to use all our skills to learn more about them and their country or state.

A few of the ways in which we intend to learn from these participants and the contents of their envelopes:

  • Following directions from Maps,
  • Plotting itineraries based on visiting the tourist attractions detailed in the enclosed Leaflets,
  • Converting the cost of their groceries (as detailed in their currency)  into the Australian Dollar, converting Llbs into kilos, Gallons into Litres etc
  • Researching some of the places that the tourist leaflets talk about.
  • Reading about the lives of other people in other countries,
  • Exploring another persons perspective on where they live.
  • Reading their local newspapers
  • Engaging in the activities sent with the envelope, such as word searches, colouring pages, eductaional activities.

We can’t wait to get started!

Our trip to Port Arthur with Babcia

Today we utilised our ‘Ticket of Leave’ to visit Port Arthur with Babcia. She has wanted to go there every time she has visited with us, So today was her lucky day!

Postcrossings from China and Taiwan.

Today we received two wonderful cards. One from China it was of the Giant Panda’s. WangLi explained on the back of the card how to write ‘Giant Panda’ in Chinese characters, which was really cool! Today I want to try and encourage the children to write it themselves in the Chinese characters – Maybe if they see me trying they will attempt it themselves! – If they do I shall be sure to add their attempts here…

This card travelled 8,616 Kilometres over 11 days to land in our mail box!

Giant Panda's - China

Giant Panda's - China

The second postcard we received was from Cindy in Taiwan. It shows the ‘Cave of the eight immortals’. This is a very interesting place and yet information was not easy to find for us.

We did however learn the following after reading on the following website –

Basiandong is located in the north of Huatung Mountain by the coast of Changbin Township. “Basian”, or the Eight Immortals, are famous Chinese deities. Fogs drift perpetually around the caves and the interior is damp and misty. As the environment resembles that in the folklore when the eight deities cross the ocean, the caves were named Basian. In the caves, Taiwan’s first prehistoric site was discovered. As the earth’s crusts elevated, the mountains were constantly eroded by the sea and 16 caves of different sizes were formed along the cliff as high as 100 meters

For more information about this interesting place please visit

Cave of the Eight Immortals - Taiwan

Cave of the Eight Immortals - Taiwan