Picture books that address current issues

Out by Angela May George

Out by Angela May George (Published by Scholastic Australia)  is a sad yet heartwarming story about a young refugee girl who has settled in a new country with her mother.

This beautiful story follows how the girls feels in her new home and the fears she still faces because of what she has been through.

out

Owen Swan’s illustrations provide the gentle and moving touch needed to really allow the reader to feel like they are moving along with the girl and feeling what she is feeling.

I shed a tear at the end of this story.

This week is Refugee Week and really, we should always be thinking of the refugees that are in Australia and those who want to be in Australia. Many hold terrible memories like the young girl and her mother and need support to start fresh.

I hope that you can share this story with others, showing the refugees are not the enemy but just like you and me. They too need love, support, friends and family. They too hold memories of fear and hope.

So how can we embed this into the curriculum?

Before you read:

  •  Why are two people in colour on the front cover and the rest in black and white?
  • What might out mean?
  • Back Cover: What does it mean ‘ I’m called an asylum seeker but that’s not my name’ ?

As you read

  •  What does Brave mean to you?
  •  Have you ever felt like the girls running on page 2?
  • Imagine feeling as isolated as the boat in the ocean scene.
  • When do you feel free? What does feeling free mean to you? How does this differ from the girl in the story?
  • Does this story have a happy ending?

fathers day gifts

After you read

LITERACY

  •  Older students could write a recount/ diary entry remembering a time when they felt fear – if they cannot recall an event they can imagine it.
  •  Find images of Refugees & asylum seekers. Link emotions to their faces.
  • Dramatise different emotions linked to different situations in the story.  Show a picture in the story and ask children to freeze an emotion.
  • Write a persuasive letter to the government outlining why we need to accept Asylum seekers.
  • Have a debate about asylum seekers in Australia.
  • Look at the picture of the girl and mother huddled together on the boat – list how they are feeling. Think of a time you have felt like this.
  • Which stories would you tell if you were on a very long journey without any technology?
  • Can you find out about another language? Create your own simple welcome brochure for your own community.
  • Link this book to other books (The happiest refugee by Anh Do, Mirror by Jeannie Baker) compare and contrast the different stories of these young children.

NUMERACY

  • Research statistics on the number of refugees in Australia. Compare this to other countries around the world.
  • Find out where refugees have settled in Australia. Use tables to show this information.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

  • Why are people refugees? Find out the different reasons someone may be a refugee.
  • What is a refugee? What is an asylum seeker? What is an immigrant? FInd out and compare differences.
  • Discover different popular music from different lands. How do people enjoy this music. Compare and contrast the different music.
  • How can we make our community more welcoming for those who are new to Australia?

PROBLEM SOLVING

  • Could you catch a fish with just two simple materials such as a shoelace and a hook? Shoelace and a button? Think of as many combinations as you can from two objects that you have on you right now.
  • Why do we have refugees in this world? Can we rid the world of needing to have refugees? Are there different types of refugees?
  • What does it mean to be BRAVE? How can we be BRAVE? Do we need to be BRAVE?

Buy this unit of work here with accompanying printables:
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Curriculum links:

Ethical understanding

Intercultural Understanding

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Environmental books

My Green Day

My Green Day by Melanie Walsh is a vibrant and fun book for readers of all ages to enjoy.

With hidden pictures, flaps to lift and holes this picture book is not only an informative book but it is also fun!

My Green Day outlines through picture, simple sentences and colourful illustrations how we can all try to be more environmentally friendly in our every day activities.

These simple tips include having a compost bin at home, drying clothes on the clothes line, making presents rather than buying them and eating all of our food!

Children will enjoy these tips and I am sure they will feel that it is something that they can do at home, quite simply.

So how can we have more fun with this book?

Literacy

Persuasive writing

  •  Write a persuasive argument about the importance of being more environmentally friendly, drawing ideas from the book.
  •   Persuade parents to buy a compost bin, have chickens or use the dryer less.

Imaginative text

  •   Students can write their own comic strip outlining there own ‘green day’

Informative text

  •  What is a compost bin? How do they work?
  •  What is plastic? How is is made? Can it be reused or recycled?

Numeracy

Numeracy

  •  If we all threw out one apple a day, how many is that in a week? Two noodles of pasta? Half a piece of bread? etc.
  • Look at your shopping list. Using fractions and percentages work out the fraction of recyclable materials in the packaging. Plastic materials. No material/no waste.
  • How many litres come out of a tap/shower in thirty seconds? Work out how many litres each student uses per day after they record their times at home.

 

Science

  • What is in our lunch boxes? List and group the different materials.  (Objects are made of materials that have observable properties (ACSSU003) ) 

 

  • What is recycling? How can we recycle and what happens? Investigate worm farms, compost bins and school rubbish and recycling bins. Everyday materials can be physically changed in a variety of ways (ACSSU018)  ,  People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE035) ,  Different materials can be combined for a particular purpose (ACSSU031)

 

  • Ask – why do we need to have a green day? Investigate the effects of not having a green day by taking home a daily diary to record and reflect on activities that are ‘green’ and those that are not so ‘green’ Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE051)

 

  • Investigate how long it takes to break down different substances (in dirt, in a bin, in a compost bin, in sun etc) Relate this to what students do with their own waste.
  • Investigate the use of plastic and how long it takes to break down as compared to reusable bags. With guidance, plan and conduct scientific investigations to find answers to questions, considering the safe use of appropriate materials and equipment (ACSIS065)

 

  • Create an action plan for the school so that the school can have a green day every day. In order for the school to feel that they are making progress gather initial data such as contents of bins, amount of rubbish in the bin, amount of waste coming from each classroom after each week, time lights are on in classrooms, computers left on. Gather this data to show where the school is at and then re gather after a month or two to see progress in the school action plan. With guidance, plan and conduct scientific investigations to find answers to questions, considering the safe use of appropriate materials and equipment (ACSIS065)
Environmental books

A forest by Marc Martin

A forest by Marc Martin immediately captured my attention with the creatively painted forest on the front cover.

forest

The tiny trees that envelop the front cover , each one completely different from each other, have been drawn with water colours, texta, pencil and ink.

A forest tells a story through simple words and captivating pictures about a forest being destroyed due to human greed but then growing again through human care. A true story of hope and empowerment.

I loved reading this story to my children and they enjoyed listening and looking at the illustrations. It is a poignant story and one which helps to grow awareness of the importance of the natural world just outside out doorstep.

It’s a brave story with tender words and memorable images. It’s a must read for anyone who loves a good picture book with a message of hope.

So,  how can we have fun with this story before, during and after we have read it?

 

Literacy

  1.   Tell the story without any words – ask your child or class to tell their own story. Storytelling is a timeless art, increases vocabulary and imagination and is a lot of fun. Children can see the story how they wish to see it. Give it a go.

Mathematics

  1. Using measurement skills, work out how many trees per cm2. Students can attempt to work out what this would look like if the scale was 1cm2=1km2. Research different forests of Australia and the size of them. Predict how many different trees would be in these spaces & perhaps even the variety of trees (Fostering the importance of biodiversity)
  2. Make tree patterns, not only learning about different types of patterns but also exploring different types of trees around the school or neighbourhood!
  3. Measure different tress that are in the school grounds or the local park. This could even be monitored over the year to see how they all grow differently.
  4. How many different types of trees are in the local area? Create different data displays.

Visual Art

  1.  Create your own forest – perhaps an Australian version (rainforest, eucalyptus forest, mangrove, melaluca etc) . Or create your own city – research cities of Australia and the world. Look at the lines used in the buildings and recreate your own using texta.

Thinking skills & sustainability

  1. Compare the differences between the two groups of people portrayed in this story. Link this to people who are in our world. Try to walk in both shoes and work out why people make these decisions and why they think they are doing the right thing OR even why people do things even though they know they are being destructive to the natural world or other people.
Links:

Literacy

Experiment with text structures and language features and their effects in creating literary texts, for example, using imagery, sentence variation, metaphor and word choice (ACELT1800),
Create literary texts using realistic and fantasy settings and characters that draw on the worlds represented in texts students have experienced (ACELT1612)
Create literary texts by developing storylines, characters and settings (ACELT1794)
Create imaginative texts based on characters, settings and events from students’ own and other cultures using visual features, for example perspective, distance and angle (ACELT1601)
Create events and characters using different media that develop key events and characters from literary texts (ACELT1593)
Recreate texts imaginatively using drawing, writing, performance and digital forms of communication (ACELT1586)
Retell familiar literary texts through performance, use of illustrations and images (ACELT1580)

Mathematics

Sort and classify familiar objects and explain the basis for these classifications. Copy, continue and create patterns with objects and drawings (ACMNA005)
Measure and compare the lengths and capacities of pairs of objects using uniform informal units (ACMMG019)
Create displays of data using lists, table and picture graphs and interpret them (ACMSP050)
Identify symmetry in the environment (ACMMG066)
Choose appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass (ACMMG108)
Calculate perimeter and area of rectangles using familiar metric units (ACMMG109)
Solve problems involving the comparison of lengths and areas using appropriate units (ACMMG137)

Visual Arts

Use and experiment with different materials, techniques, technologies and processes to make artworks (ACAVAM107)
Use materials, techniques and processes to explore visual conventions when making artworks (ACAVAM111)
Explore ideas and practices used by artists, including practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to represent different views, beliefs and opinions (ACAVAM114)

Sustainability

OI.8 Designing action for sustainability requires an evaluation of past practices, the assessment of scientific and technological developments, and balanced judgements based on projected future economic, social and environmental impacts.
Environmental books

A patch from scratch

A patch from Scratch written by Megan Forward.

 

patch

This book reminds me of my own little family and I am sure many other families who live in the suburbs of large cities! We have had lots of fun (and still do) in our backyard thinking of ways that we can make our yard a mini farm. We have chickens, compost bin, worm farm and a veggie patch and although it is a bit of work to maintain it is a great reward to have our own eggs and vegetables right in our own backyard.

A patch from scratch is written from the perspective of a young child, which I think really empowers young readers to think – how can I do this in my own backyard? The illustrations show how the family make the different items needed for their own backyard farm and offer some simple tips throughout.

This is a cleverly written book, giving readers insight into how they can create their own veggie patches, chicken coops and compost bins. It shows that growing your own food can be fun and rewarding without being too much hard work.

But what about those who live in apartments? Children who live in these places may feel like they cannot connect to this book – but they can! Many suburbs now have community gardens so search your area for one. Your child’s school or daycare may also have a small patch that they can be a part of.

There are many mini compost bins you can buy that can sit on balconies and mini herb patches where you can grow your own herbs. Be creative, getting in touch with dirt and plant growth is vital so that young people understand where food comes from – not just a supermarket!

Watch this great Ted talk by Jamie Oliver : https://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver?language=en

This is a great book, and one that we have enjoyed reading over. We have spent time looking at the illustrations as we have read the words and noticed the fun the family in the story are having. A great read that can be enjoyed by the whole family!

So what can you do to link this book to the curriculum?

Science

Life Cycles

  1. Find out about the life cycle of a chicken. Extend this into other animals that we eat and other animals that we eat the produce of.
  2. Can you compare two of these animals?
  3. To extend research how different countries harvest honey, what they feed their cows or how they eat different meat.
  4. Can all plants grow in your area? Research which plants grow best in your area. When to plant them and where they grow best in the garden.

Science – insects

  1. Research Australian stingless bees. Where do they live? How do they collect honey? How do they move about? Compare the different types of stingless bees in Australia. Find out why their hive is designed the way it is.

Literacy

Descriptive texts

  1. Imagine you are in charge of creating a new patch for your backyard. You may have a little bit of magic up your sleeve – how can this help you to grow delicious food and perhaps some food that hasn’t been eaten in years (due to it’s unpopularity) Link here to look at heirloom seeds and the Diggers club.

Informative texts

  1. Write a report about how to grow a vegetable or fruit of choice.
  2. Create your own plant diary like the child did in the story. Grow a seed of choice and record how it grows in different locations and with different amounts of sun, water and love.

Persuasive texts

  1. Write a letter to your local Councillor outlining why there needs to be more veggie patches in your community. Suggest how this could happen (free compost bins, land for a community patch, gardening workshops etc)

Mathematics

  1. Give students a designated backyard space in which they need to design their own sustainable backyard. They can be given budgets, time constraints and must have items.
  2. Work out which plants and how many can grow in a designated area. Different vegetables and fruits need space so work this out and then apply to a patch of dirt.

 

Curriculum links

Science

Early Stage One

Living things have basic needs, including food and water (ACSSU002)

Stage One

People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE022)

Living things live in different places where their needs are met (ACSSU211)
Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)
Pose and respond to questions, and make predictions about familiar objects and events (ACSIS037)
Stage Two
Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072)
Living things depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)
Stage Three
Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)
The growth and survival of living things are affected by physical conditions of their environment (ACSSU094)
Mathematics

 

Stage Three

Calculate perimeter and area of rectangles using familiar metric units (ACMMG109)

Solve problems involving the comparison of lengths and areas using appropriate units (ACMMG137)

Sustainability

OI.6 The sustainability of ecological, social and economic systems is achieved through informed individual and community action that values local and global equity and fairness across generations into the future

 

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Facebook: Flicking on the book

 

Environmental books

One less fish

One less fish is a colourful, informative and pertinent story about the Great Barrier Reef and the amazing sea creatures within.

fish

 

I’m sure many of you are aware of the coral bleaching that has been occurring in the GBR over the past year. The coral reef is such an important part of our natural world and more importance needs to be placed upon this destruction.

I have been lucky enough to visit the reef, see the vibrant coral and swim amongst the different sea creatures that live there. Many people will miss out on this opportunity if we don’t start to take action.

The picture book One Less Fish  by Kim Michelle Toft and Allan Sheather allows children to see the fish that swim amongst the coral. The beautiful illustrations show the diversity that swims in the Great Barrier Reef and highlights the beauty of the coral that the fish live between.

One Less Fish was written to show readers what may have happened if it had not been inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981.  Each page gives tips on how we can start to make changes so that less destruction takes place towards to Reef, the ocean and the sea creatures.

Although this book seems sad and without hope as fish diminish one by one it ends on a high with all of the fish returning.

One Less Fish is a great teaching resource through the tips on each page and the glossary on the last two pages. It also allows children to see what sorts of fish live in the Great Barrier Reef and allows them to hear what can happen through small less thoughtful actions.  It also is a great starting point to discuss with them what we can do today, to ensure there is less harm done.

TEACHING TIPS

When I read this story to my children they loved counting the fish, talking about the different colours in each image and finding out the names of the creatures.

So what can you do?

SCIENCE

  •  Allow time to research a fish or another sea creature that lives in the Great Barrier Reef. Find out as much as possible about that creature. Ask the question – how will they be effected by coral bleaching?
  • Find up to date information about the Great Barrier Reef: How it is used, who uses it and the governments approach to it.
  • Create a Venn diagram that compares two animals of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Find out the life cycles of the different types of GBR fish. You will be amazed at how different they are!
  • Forming small groups look at the different tips that are offered on each page – research these issues to gain more understanding of them. Are they still issues? Are there more issues since this book was written in 1997?
  • Watch this Ted talk to see how scientists are working on saving the reef.  https://www.ted.com/talks/kristen_marhaver_how_we_re_growing_baby_corals_to_rebuild_reefs?language=en

MATHEMATICS

  •  Count the fish as you go. Show addition and take away sums as you read through the story.
  • How many fish are there in the whole story?
  • How many years has the reef been listed on the World Heritage List?
  • Look at temperature charts of the sea water over the last ten years. Discuss how this effects the coral.
  • Older children may love to look at the mathematics of coral! https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_wertheim_crochets_the_coral_reef?language=en

THINKING, TALKING & SHARING

  • Do people think differently now than in 1997? Have we continued to protect the reef?
  • What can we do if we live far away from the reef?

 

One less fish won a CBCA award in 1998

MATHEMATICS

STAGE One
Represent and solve simple addition and subtraction problems using a range of strategies including counting on, partitioning and rearranging parts (ACMNA015)

SCIENCE

Stage One

People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE022)

Stage two

Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE051)

Living things depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)

Stage three

The growth and survival of living things are affected by physical conditions of their environment (ACSSU094)

 Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE083)