Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

All i want for Christmas is Rain by Cori Brooke

All I want for Christmas is Rain by Cori Brooke and Megan Forward is an uplifting story about a young girl’s belief in Santa and the power of Christmas Spirit.

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A family of farmers are about to celebrate Christmas but the farm is parched, the dams are dry and spirits are low. The watercolored illustrations  by Megan Forward highlight the dryness of the country.

Jane, a strong and thoughtful young girl is an inspiration to any youngster who is yearning for more presents for Christmas. Jane encompasses the true meaning of Christmas when she travels into town on a ‘long shiny train’ and asks Santa for one thing – rain!

All I want for Christmas is Rain is a melodic read and the illustrations add to the emotions of the family over the Christmas period.

Children from the country will understand Jane’s position and children from the city will gain some insight into the harsh realities of farming life in Australia. Perhaps even gain more appreciation for the places our produce comes from.

All I Want for Christmas is Rainis a great new story from New frontier publishing would be an excellent addition to the Christmas gifts – alongside many local and handmade toys, tickets to shows and love rather than more plastic things.

How does this link in with sustainability?

  1. Precious water. 

Review or learn about the water cycle. Link this knowledge of the water cycle to a rain map of Australia or the country you live in. Why do some areas lack rain? Look at the influence of mountain ranges, coastal living and the role major rivers play in the outback.

2. Where does our produce come from?

Using supermarket brochures, local farmers markets and and social enterprise networks; work out where they get their produce from. Is it sourced local? Interstate or from overseas?

3. How is different produce made and does it rely on water? 

A great project could be delved into under this banner and interchanged with different produce. (Links with numeracy, geography and science)

EXAMPLE: RICE.

Where is rice grown in Australia? Create a map of the rice growing areas.

How is rice grown? What is needed – create a timeline of rice growing .

How much water does it take to produce a bag of rice?

Is white rice a good crop to grow in some areas of Australia?

Is there a better alternative to this grain that may not rely on as much water?

Create a more sustainable way to grow rice or a better crop for our environment.

4. Christmas gifts

Write down a list of things you can give to others for Christmas that have less of an impact on the environment. This could be tickets to shows or places, handmade items.

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Craft, Parent tips, recipes

Home made Advent Calendars

Temptation abounds in supermarkets with the chocolate advent calendars in store!

BUT – you can avoid these additive fuelled, sugar infused and terrible tasting calendars for your own, homemade thoughtful one!

The one pictured above was made by my 5 year old. She copied the numbers down onto each envelope and clipped them to a piece of string.

We then wrote one activity down on a piece of scrap paper and placed it into each envelope.

These included:

  •  Go for a bushwalk
  • Made a seed bell for the backyard chooks
  • Have a dance off
  • donate a present to a giving tree
  • Plant some summer seeds
  • Write someone a letter and post it.
  • Bake a cake
  • Go and visit your next door neighbours with a Christmas card.
  • Create a new game to play outside.

There are so many options here – so have fun creating your own!

We also created our own chocolates which will be kept in the fridge and eaten each day!

Simple ingredients

  •  One block of dark chocolate
  • One bowl of Sprinkles
  1. Melt the chocolate using the double boiler method.
  2. Spoon the chocolate into moulds
  3. Place sprinkles over the top!
  4. Place in fridge over night.


 

Craft, Parent tips, recipes

Home made Bath bombs

Christmas is a time of giving and there are so many ‘things’ to give people that involve plastic and waste.

We decided that instead of buying our friends different presents, we could make our own.

Bath bombs were high on the list after being given some last year and we found out that they are quite easy to make.


There are many different recipes out there so I tweaked what I found and here is my recipe:

HOMEMADE BATH BOMBS

  • 1 1/2 cups bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid powder (We bought ours from Aussie Soap Supplies)
  • Food colouring
  • Lavender oil
  • Sparkles, potpurri (anything to add some surprise to the bath!)
  • Coconut oil
  • Silicon moulds.

  1. Line silicon moulds with small amount of coconut oil.
  2. Mix Bicarb soda and citric acid powder in a separate bowl.
  3. In another bowl add your food colouring.
  4. Use half a cup of the powder mixture and add to the food colouring – make sure you stir quickly so it does not fizz!
  5. Add a couple of drops of lavender oil
  6. Add a large teaspoon of coconut oil.
  7. Mix together with your hands until you can scrunch the mixture and it sticks together.
  8. Add sparkles etc.
  9. Place the mixture into a mould and leave for 36 hours.
Parent tips, picture books, Teacher tips and resources

Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Elf is another humorous tale written by Aaron Blabey of a pug called pig and his misguided ways.

Pig is very self centred and only thinks of himself and the wonderful gifts he will be getting from Santa. There is no Christmas spirit in Pig and his wish list is metres long! (and quite entertaining). Luckily for the reader, Pig’s selfish ways are dealt with in a humorous fashion with the word BUM getting a good laugh at!

Now Pig the Elf is by no means a book about sustainability or eco living BUT it made me think about how we can get very caught up in what we want for Christmas!

We need to encourage children not to get caught up in the material side of Christmas and this can be tricky with advertisements ramping up, toy catalogues in letterboxes and other children talking about what they want.

Rather than not giving presents (which is quite harsh at this time of year!) try to discuss how we can have a more waste free christmas. There are so many fun ways in which you can create gifts that have a lot more meaning.

  •  Make your own advent calendar
  •  Make your own bath bombs
  • Make your own christmas cards
  • Buy activities rather than gifts (movie tickets, theatre, museums etc)
  • Plant some living gifts
  • Give a book! 
  • Make your own wrapping paper out of scrap paper.
  • Give an eco gift – backyard chooks, worm farm or compost bin!
  • Donate to a charity which helps others or the environment.

 

A change in mindset is possible and I am sure even Pig the Elf could change his mindset if someone sat down with him and helped him to reflect on himself……but then we wouldn’t have anymore humorous tales from Aaron Blabey for next year, would we?

Picture books that address current issues

Bee and Me by Alison Jay

 ~ A story about friendship ~

Have you ever read a book without words? Some people may find this difficult as it opens up many possibilities, different interpretations and imagination. But it is something we need to introduce ourselves and our children to – as just because the words are not on the page does not mean they are not there.

I have always loved books without words as you can decide what happens on each page and look more closely at the illustrations which can tell us so much more.


Bee and Me  by Alison Jay is set in a bustling city of cars, trucks, people, shops and high rise buildings but no flowers.

A little girl is frightened by a bee who lands on her windowsill but luckily rather than swat it with the fly swatter she looks after the exhausted insect and sends it on it’s way.

The bee returns in need of more care and the two form a beautiful friendship.

The double page of play between the girl and the bee is wonderful to sit and stare at with your child. Talk about what they are doing together and the emotions they are feeling as they spend wonderful moments together.

The bee soon realises that although he has the girl – he longs for flowers. So together they embark on a magical journey to find flowers, seeds and more green to the dull city.

Bee and Me warmed my heart – the friendship between the two is infectious and the message about the importance of bees is also taught – which is vital as so many cities are lacking bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects due to lack of flowers, plants and green!

So what can you do at home or at school with this book?

Sustainability

  • Have a look around your home and see what would entice any type of insect to your area? all insects are beneficial and attracting them to something they can live off or eat is important. It’s better they live off the plants than things in your house!
  • PROJECT: How can we provide the best home for attracting bees? Investigate what the bees (local to your area) need. Draw up a plan of what the hive would look like, where it should be placed, what conditions it needs to attract bees and to survive. (This project includes outcome links to mathematics, literacy, science and geography)
  • Alison Jay has left a parting note at the back of her book about the beneficial flowers you can plant in your garden. Herbs are an easy plant to start with as they can be grown in small planter boxes on windowsills – give rosemary, thyme or mint a go.
  • It is important that you find out about the beneficial flowers that help bees in your area too. Australian stingless bees love:

 

Abelia x grandiflora Abelia
Buddleja * Butterfly Bush
Callistemon  Bottlebrush
Eucalyptus  Gum Blossom
Grevillea Spider Flower
Lavandula Lavender
Leptospermum Tea Tree
Melaleuca Honey Myrtle
Westringia Rosemary
Many Varieties Daisies

 

Literacy

  • Visual Literacy – Books without pictures open a myriad of possibilities. One activity to try is to tell the story from the bee’s perspective and then the girls. Compare the two stories – compare the emotions, the goals and the thoughts of the two characters.
  • Find some more books that have bees in them – you’ll bee surprised! Do these stories all have a similar message to tell?
  • Compare scientific literature to children books that are on the topic of bees. Why do we need both types of literature out there to understand the need for bees in our world? Create your own bee themed picture book based on some scientific literature.
  • Create your own story about your adventure with a bee. Which flowers would you like to visit? Divide a page into four sections and draw a series of pictures that show what you would like to do with a bee to make sure there are enough flowers, fruits and vegetables in the world.

SCIENCE

How is honey used in our lives apart from to eat? Investigate the different properties of honey and how it is used in a myriad of products!

GEOGRAPHY

Where are bees located? What type of environment do they need to thrive? Create a honey bee and a stingless bee map of Australia.

NUMERACY

Why are honey bee hives made out of hexagonal shapes?

Why do stingless bee hives spiral shaped?

Investigate the different shapes of bee hives across the globe and why they are this shape. Could they be another shape? Investigate if there is a better way to keep honey in a hive.

Parent tips, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

The Fabulous Friend Machine by Nick Bland

Do you constantly check your phone for updates? Do you text at the dinner table? Do you tell your kids to wait a minute while you see what the latest is on instagram? Do you feel special when you get more than ten likes?

Sound like you?  You need to read this book!

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The fabulous friend machine by Nick Bland is a story about a chicken (see my next post on backyard chooks!) who becomes addicted to her phone. She was once quite social with her real friends, talking, laughing and playing BUT she discovers a phone and falls in love with the screen and the instant gratification it brings!

I am sure many of us are at fault with this – we seek gratification, envy online pictures and strive to be the perfect person that those online friends seem to be. BUT really, does anyone have a life that is perfect? Is anyone really the most perfect friendly friend with no strings attached?

As parents we need to take a good hard look at how we use computers and the role we are portraying to our children – no matter what age.

We need our children to have a healthy relationships with their phone, i pad or computer and with the people that live online. We need to teach them that friends in person mean more, interaction with others mean more and real face to face conversations mean so much more.

Technology definitely has a place in our society but we have to be a lot more careful as to how we use it and how we allow our children to use it.

So what can you do?

  1. Make sure you have screen free time – turn off your notification so you only receive phone calls and text messages – no updates from social media.
  2. Take a step back from the people you follow online and notice that perhaps they can do those things because of extra resources, time or money. Do not compare yourself to people you don’t really know.
  3. Investigate the different social media options with your child – see what works best for them and tighten the privacy.
  4. Learn how to discern between appropriate and truthful information online. This is really important for future use when researching but also important when they are creating role models for themselves.
  5. Make sure your children use technology in a place where the screen can be seen from a young age. If you get into this habit from a young age it build up the relationship you have with your child and their technology use. As teenagers they will want to retreat into the privacy of their room so set up boundaries know so they know how to use technology when they don’t want your eyes around!
  6. Limit screen time!!! The more you give them as a young child, the more they will want as they grow up. Allow them to be bored. Allow them to play outside. See my blog on nature play to help with some tips here.

 

Find out what happens if you become too entrenched in the online world of many tricks.

 

scholastic

 

recipes

Banana flour pancakes! 

I’ve posted some books recently on the topic of bees and honey AND I have many more to come. However, today’s blog post is on the best way you can use honey and that is on pancakes!

We love pancakes and I especially love homemade, waste free and gluten free pancakes!

Today we made Banana flour pancakes.

My Banana flour is made in Australia by some ingenious banana farmers who needed to use up some green bananas rather than letting them go to waste. Banana flour is a great prebiotic and is fantastic to bake with. It is a great alternative to flour and is nut free so great for lunch boxes.

Banana flour is great for the environment as it reduces the waste of the green bananas just ending up in the compost, it lessens the reliance on wheat flour and is better for your health!

Here is a great recipe, I hope you enjoy it!

1 cup of Banana Flour

3 tablespoons honey

3 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

150 ml coconut milk. You could also use almond milk – or a combination!

 

 

Environmental books, Picture books that address current issues

Bee by Patricia Hegarty and Britta Teckentrup.

What is your definition of community? Do bee’s fall into this category? 

Categorise at least 20 different insects into how they help the natural environment. 

What came first….the flower or the bee? 

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Photo courtesy of http://www.readingisourthing.com/portfolio/bee-patricia-hegarty-and-britta-teckentrup/ 

Bee’s are the forgotten insect that we would be lost without. We love their honey, their pollination skills and their fuzzy little bodies!

Patricia Hegarty writes in rhyme as she introduces the importance of bees in many different environmental settings. These rhymes are brought to life through Britta Teckentrup’s brightly coloured and textured illustrations.

As you travel through the story with the bee, we discover the many different parts to the small environments that bees need to visit as part of their daily life. Children can see how bees work with each other to find the best nectar and can peep through hexagonal cut outs as the bee travels from page to page. There are also hidden animals within each page which allow you to have small conversations with your child about the ecology of each small environment!

So how can we link this story to informing our children about the importance of bees?

Sustainability

  • Get your own bee hive! Perhaps this is not possible for everyone due to the environment you live in or the space you have but it is worth looking into. We have our own stingless bee hive as we live in Sydney. It is wonderful to see them buzzing around on days that are over 22 degrees, foraging for food all over our garden. They are small little insects but work so efficiently! The native stingless bees do not provide as much honey as the european bee but in about 6 months we should have some to share! Exciting!
  • Which plants rely on bees to be pollinated? Which plants rely on wind?
  • Is beekeeping sustainable? Should we be keeping honey bees in Ausrtalia or rely more on the native stingless bee? (The use and management of natural resourcesand waste, and the different views on how to do this sustainably (ACHASSK090)
  • Explore the bee populations of the world. Use tables to gather this information. IS there a decline in the bee population? If there is, what is causing this problem? What can we do?

SCIENCE

  • Many bees in the wild are being effected by pesticides. Explore the alternatives to using pesticides in your garden.
  • Go on an insect hunt. Spend some time outside recording the different types of insects that are alive in a specified area. Create a graph to record the data.
  • Which flowers do bees like to gather pollen from? Explore your local area to see which flowers the bees in your area love. Perhaps you can plant some bee attractive flowers?

Mathematics

  • Explore the patterns in bee hives! (Link to Geometry/2d and 3d shape in numeracy strand) 
  • Explore the Fibonacci sequence in flowers and plants. You will be amazed at how mathematical nature is!

Geography

  • Research the different species of bees in your country. Where do they live, how far do they forage from there hive?
  • Where can honeybees live in your country? Where can native bees live? What sort of temperature, terrain and conditions do they need?

History

  • Explore the history of european beekeeping(The role that a significant individual or group played in shaping a colony (ACHASSK110)
  • How was beekeeping influenced the food economy in your country?

Creative arts

  • Create your own bee dance.
  • Create a poem using the pictures in the story.
  • Create your own recipe which requires honey as a key ingredient.

 

I’d like to thank http://www.readingisourthing.com/portfolio/bee-patricia-hegarty-and-britta-teckentrup/ for sharing this book and image with me! Please visit them on Instagram at @readingisourthing 

Uncategorized

Spark by Adam Wallace

Spark by Adam Wallace is a captivating tale of a spark building into a consuming fire. It has been brilliantly illustrated by Andrew Plant, making the reader feel that they are moving with the fire on it’s destructive journey.
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Buy Spark Spark

Throughout the story, vibrant adjectives and verbs leap out of the page along with personification at every turn – it really feels like the spark is alive

The wind was meant to be my friend but it just laughed and dragged me on.

As I read through the story I felt a relationship grow between myself and the spark  – I wanted to follow it and find out what it became and where it went . As it built up into a raging fire, it expresses how it feels and how things around it feel – giving life to everything it touches.

The story moves at a fast pace, leaving the reader burnt out and deflated towards the end but with one last page there is hope – and the knowledge that fire can bring about new life.

So how does this link to sustainability and the environment?

SUSTAINABILITY

Do we need bushfires? forest fires? any type of fire in a natural landscape?

Investigate which types of plants and animals rely on fire for their life cycle.

Investigate bushfires of the last 5 years in one particular area. How have they been started? What have they destroyed? Has the land regenerated?

How much of the air pollution in the world is caused by burning trees?

Investigate slash and burn methods in some developing countries – how does this effect the soil quality? air quality and livelihood of the people?

  • All life forms, including human life, are connected through ecosystems on which they depend for their wellbeing and survival.
  • Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.
  • 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
  • World views that recognise the dependence of living things on healthy ecosystems, and value diversity and social justice, are essential for achieving sustainability.

LITERACY

Personification – explore the use of personification throughout this story. ( Just  a few to start you – tickled trees, wind whispered, chased animals, skipping and sprinting together, breathing in the bush, hauled through the undergrowth, thrown high, fear surged ). How does personification change the feelings you have towards bush fires? Choose something that is in the Australian bush and personify it! Allow children to investigate different trees or flowers , animals or insects.

Point of View – Could this story be written from the wind’s point of view? Why does writing it from the fire’s point of view change how we feel towards a bush fire?

The end page – How does this change how you feel towards the story? How would you feel without it? Create your own story where the view of the story is changed on the last page.

Thinking – How did the Spark begin? Use knowledge from the story to work this out and create a earlier chapter to the story. How would a spark start in 2016? 1916? 1616? 20000BC? 50000BC?

Visual literacy – why are some pages without words – how do these set the mood? How has the style of the illustrations affected the mood of the story? Which page do you like the best – how does it make you feel?

ACELT1611:Understand, interpret and experiment with sound devices and imagery, including simile, metaphor and personification, in narratives, shape poetry, songs, anthems and odes
(ACELY1670)(ACELA1483)

GEOGRAPHY

Australian has a lot of bushfires, mostly throughout summer. What is a bushfire? Do other countries have bush fires?

Do we need bushfires? Investigate the history of bushfires throughout white history but also if the Indigenous people used fire to help the land.

Who helps out in bushfires? Investigate the rural fire service, fire fighters and volunteers in Australia who help out when it comes to bush fires.

The influence of the environment on the human characteristics of a place (ACHGK028)The impact of bushfires or floods on environments and communities, and how people can respond (ACHGK030).

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Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

Encouraging your child to love literacy

So you might have a child who is not interested in reading books and are wondering what  you can do to engage them in literacy?

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This is a great question.
 My first question to you would be what sort of books are you reading with them ?

 

Picture books are a fantastic place to start any child who is not interested in reading. But make sure you involve your child in the process of choosing books. Find out what they interested in and seek out books on that topic. If your child would prefer non fiction books, by all means, go to that section of the library! Any reading is a step in the right direction! 

it could be comic books, lego instructions – (now you may be thinking that there are no words here but literacy isn’t always about reading). 

 It is also about understanding diagrams, listening to instructions, retelling stories and following directions.., so also try recipes – Try anything and find out what your child loves doing and go from there.

How else can you engage your child in literacy?

  • Just in conversation with your child anywhere you can ask them “I wonder what sound tree/car/football starts with? Ends with? This can be done with billboard signs, at the supermarket.
  • Play a clapping game where they need to clap out the syllables in their name – this will help them later on with spelling and sound chunking.
  • Write words outside with chalk, in the sand/dirt or mud!
  • Create words with sticks.
  • Ride over words – following the letter with a tyre of a bike or scooter.
  • Play eye spy in the car using sounds and colours. This game is great as it isn’t just about sound/letter recognition it is also about listening to instructions. Make sure you don’t just focus on the name of the letter – focus on the sound. There are letters that make different sounds so make your child aware of that.
  • Talk in rhyme and make up nonsense rhyming words and sentences such as “Would you like to play all day in the hay? Or what would you like to munch and crunch for your lunch?”
  • Tell stories – make up imaginary lands and ask your child to join in with the storytelling process. This develops their talking and listening skills as does talking about what they did during the day.
  • Encourage them to make their own book. Staple some scrap paper together and they can write or draw anything they wish and then tell it to you.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt – ask your child to find things outside that start with a certain letter. They need to find and bring back (or tell you if it can’t be carried!)

So just remember that literacy isn’t just about reading books – it is about talking, listening and writing as well. Make literacy fun and your child will find the way that they enjoy it too.