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Articles for parents and classroom teachers

Playing a role in your child’s education

Encouraging your child to love literacy

Writing and drawing about sustainability

Literacy, your child, picture books and parenting

The real sight words

Your child and numeracy

Have a home reader? Read this

Why do we need poetry?

Sounds to help reading

International read to me day

How to teach your child about Fair trade

Inspire your child to keep reading

How to teach you child about the importance of water

The importance of nature play

How to raise a global conscious child

There is hope

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Books with current issues, Environmental books, Parent tips, picture books, Teacher tips and resources

At the Zoo I see by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells

At the Zoo I See by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells and published by Magabala books  is a vibrant board book for younger readers.

At the Zoo I See is a colourful parade of creatures found in zoos around the world including many wonderful Australian animals. As you turn each page your child will be delighted by the vibrant pictures of animals you can see at the zoo.

I loved the adjectives used in the short board book as it gave each animal more meaning to how they move about in their daily life. We loved discussing why the cassowary was queenly!

At the Zoo I see is another harmonious collaboration between Joshua Button, a descendent of the Walmajarri people and artist Robyn Wells who resides in the Kimberley area. Each animal is true to it’s colour in nature and is depicted as alive and alert. This board book is part of the Young Art Series which showcases the work of young indigenous artists.

Zoo’s are an important part of a natural world especially with the destruction of animal habitats every day all over the world. It is important that we make our children aware of the wonderful animals that their local zoo takes care of. Although zoos may seem cruel in that the animals are caged, without this many of the animals we see at the zoo would already be endangered or extinct.

Board Books are a wonderful way to start your child reading and At the Zoo I See connects creative sentences alongside colourful pictures to mesmerise young readers and allow them to learn more about animals and reading.

So how can you link this book to other activities?

Sustainability

  • Talk about the animals in the book and perhaps explore theses animals further through research, other books and videos of the animals.
  • Go to your local zoo and find out more about the work the people at the zoo do for the animals.
  • Wombats, Quolls and Cassowaries are all Australian animals – find out where they live, how they live and how they are effected by feral animals and habitat destruction.
  • Find other picture books that include animals

Literacy

  • After finding out more about each animal, try to think of other adjectives that could describe the animal.
  • What other words start with the same sound as the animal? Have some fun with alliteration such as wobbly wombat, quokka on a quest and calm cassowary.
  • For older readers work out which animal is first if put in alphabetical order.
  • Ask your child – what do you think these animals are doing? Use the pictures on the pages to help answer these questions (look at the eyes, movement of animal and anything else in the drawing)

Indigenous Australia

  • Find out what the animal names are in your local indigenous dialect.
  • What is the young art series and how is this helping young indigenous artists?
  • How are different Australian animals important to different Indigenous groups of Australia? Which Australian animals live in your area?
Parent tips

Playing a role in your child’s education

How can I play the best role in my child’s education is one question that many parents ask. 

This is a great question and more parents need to ask this. It seems that many parents see school as a separate entity where they send their child to learn and there is no connection with what they do or day at home with how their child achieves at school

But, there is a strong link and if parents become positively involved in their child’s education their child will be more motivated, have higher self esteem and higher self efficacy. It is important to note that we do not want to smother our children if we are to be involved in their education, we just need to support them in a positive manner.

There are some simple steps you can follow.

  1. Understand your child, where they excel and where they need support.
  2. Know the school and the best schooling option for your child. Understand their policies, teaching methods and how they cater for different children within the classroom.
  3. Connect with the school – this could be through meeting the teacher, taking part in parent and family school activities, volunteering somewhere in the school, reading the school newsletter etc.
  4. Get to know other parents in the school community. This will make your school experience positive and influence how you speak about the school. Getting to know the parents of the children your child is friends with is also a positive step in knowing your child better.
  5. Don’t be negative in front of your child. When you are unhappy with something that has happened at school try to find out as much as possible before commenting. Your child needs to see you being fair to the school and the teachers.
  6. Trust your instincts about your child. You know what is best for them so support them in the way that is best for them.
  7. Involve your child in the decision making process throughout their schooling. Remember it is ultimately their education. You can help them make their decisions but make sure it is in the best interest of your child.

But what else? 

Ultimately, at school,  we want our child to learn new ways of thinking, new facts and new skills but we also want to develop their social skills and emotional skills. By playing a positive role in your child’s education that is not smothering is key. We want our children to be resilient and self confident so that they can make decisions themselves without us always having to be nearby. By showing that you are involved in the school, are positive towards to school and have belief in your child is the first step.

Resilience is something that parents can develop at home. There is a great model called the Resilience Doughnut and is definitely worth checking out as it is such a useful tool for parents.

Basically the doughnut’s centre represents the intrinsic beliefs and motivations of a person. It looks at how the person views themselves, how confident they are and who they feel they can go to for support.

The outside of the doughnut has seven factors which are all related to external influences on the person’s life. They are:

  • The Parent Factor: characteristics of strong and effective parenting .
  • The Skill Factor: evidence of self-competence. How does the person view their abilities?
  • The Family and Identity Factor: What is your family identity?  How do we connect to our family? Do we feel respected? Accepted? Siblings? Trusting adult?
  • The Education Factor: experience of connections and relationships during the learning process. How do we feel towards teachers? Strong relationships with teachers? High expectations? Optimistic? Positive world view? Enjoyment of learning?
  • The Peer Factor: where social and moral development is enhanced through interactions with peers. Development and maintenance of friendship? Belonging, acceptance, peer support, loyalty, self regulation.
  • The Community Factor: where the morals and values of the local community are transferred and the young person is supported. Sporting clubs, religious groups, activity groups…Having links to the local community and supportive social services has been shown to have a major impact on contributing to building resilience Shared values.
  • The Money Factor: where the young person develops the ability to give as well as take from society through employment and purposeful spending. Learn about spending, consuming, material possesions, self regulation. Budgeting, gratefulness.

So that’s just a snapshot of the resilience donut, I recommend you sit down and take a look at it so you can ensure you are playing the best role in your child’s education – remembering not just school facts and skills but skills for life.

Environmental books, Teacher tips and resources

Yucky Worms by Vivian French

If worms are underground farmers what are the underwater farmers?

 How does an animal survive without a sense? Investigate different creatures that can live without one of the senses we feel we must have.

 List some other animals that are deemed as ‘yucky’ and find out why. Is there a way to raise their profile?


Have you ever wondered if you chop a worm in half will it just grow a new head and keep on wriggling on? Or why people refer to worms as underground farmers?

Well, look no further than Yucky Worms by Vivian French! Delicately illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg, Yucky worms is an informative story told by a gardening grandmother to her inquisitive grandson.

Perhaps many of us have reacted to worms in the garden as yucky, disgusting, slimy or dirty (which they can be) but without them, as you will discover in the story, we would not have the fertile soil that we need to grow fruits, flowers and vegetables.

As you read through Yucky worms (published by Candlewick press) readers young and old can learn about worm anatomy, eating habits, habitat and how they survive in different situations through story, labelled diagrams and funny worm conversations!

So how can you use this story to inspire some worm loving?

SCIENCE

  • Create a large worm diagram and label it using your own words. Investigate worm life cycles, diet, habitat and anatomy.
  • Buy or make a worm farm!
  • Investigate worm farms – how do they work? What do worms need to eat? What can kill the worm farm worms? What can they live without? What can’t they live without?

GEOGRAPHY

  • Is there anywhere in the world where worms cannot live?
  • Is there anywhere in the world where worms do not want to live due to human acitivity?
  • If you were a worm what would you enjoy doing the most?
  • Many people on the dance floor think they can do a move called the worm but can worms really dance? And, is that move doing worm bristles and muscular movement justice?
  • Write an ode to the worm.

 

 

 

 

 

Environmental books, picture books, Teacher tips and resources

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

How does music allow us to connect with others?

If waste did not exist, how would your lifestyle be changed?

Poverty is a necessary evil – do you agree or disagree?

Ada’s Violin (The story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay), written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport is a true story is told about the people who live in Cateura in Paraguay, a town on the edge of a garbage tip.

Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the rubbish you put in your bin?

I am sure many of us never put a second thought to it, especially if you live in a developed country where tips are away from human habitation.

What we put in our bins should be on our mind as landfill is taking up more space with more things that will never break down. In a perfect world there would be no landfill as people would make their own food, recycle, reduce consumption and reuse products themselves or gift to others what they don’t need.

In the story of Ada’s Violin, The main character who is a young girl named Ada lives on the edge of the tip and often views the garbage truck as a vehicle of surprises – it could be full of toys, jewellery or even plastic which had a going rate of ten cents per pound.

Ada’s grandmother notices a sign up for music lessons and promptly enrols Ada but a large problem arises – the lack of instruments to learn on.

It was the creativity and persistence of Senor Gomez , Tito Romero and Senor Chaves that led to the creation of instruments made totally from junk !

After many hours of practise the Recycled Orchestra was born! This orchestra has since toured the world, enthralling audiences with their talent, amazing sound and ability to rise up from the poverty that bequeathed them.

So what can you do with this story?

Sustainability 

OI.3: Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.
OI.4 : World views that recognise the dependence of living things on healthy ecosystems, and value diversity and social justice, are essential for achieving sustainability.
  • Investigate where your landfill goes in your neighbourhood. Are their any tips that recycle rubbish?
  • Investigate how long different items take to break down.
  • Investigate poverty in the world – how many people in the world are living on the edge of a tip? How many people live off a tip. Is it fair that people live like this?
  • Reflect on your own waste habits – do you do enough to minimise landfill? Keep a rubbish diary and note how much you throw out to waste for a week. How much do you recycle? Use for compost/wormfarm/backyard animals?

Music & Science

  • Create your own instrument out of rubbish. How can you make it solely of rubbish? What can you use for glue? binding?

Literacy

  • Investigate the word ‘recycled’. What does it mean to you? What did it mean to Ada? Explore how we can go beyond the meaning in the dictionary depending on perspective and context.
  • Investigate the word ‘orchestra’ .  What does it mean to you? What did it mean to Ada? Explore how we can go beyond the meaning in the dictionary depending on perspective and context.
  • What does this quote mean to you? They had discovered the surprise waiting in the landfill. Buried in the trash was music. And buried in themselves was something to be proud of.
  • How do the illustrations help the story? Explore different pages throughout the book to highlight how they work together.

    ** Create your own recycled instrument, write a description of it – how it looks, how it is made and the items you would need to create it.

    ** This is a story about music. Does it make music throughout the story? How does this book sound? Explore musical words and sounds throughout the story.

    Two lessons for you: 

    Lesson One

    To help students re ne their understanding of the word recycle, have them complete a concept wheel about the Recycled Orchestra. Have students answer the following questions on the appropriate section of the wheel, using both words and illustrations:

    • What does recycled mean? What does orchestra mean?
    • Who recycled? Who is part of an orchestra?
    • Where did this recycling take place? Where can orchestra’s be?
    • What did they recycle? What music did they play?
    • Why did they recycle? Why did they want to be in an orchestra?
    • What were the results of the recycling? What were the results of creating this orchestra?

    Lesson Two

    In order to create the Recycled Orchestra, Favio Chávez had to solve several problems. Explain how he solved the following problems:

    • Problem #1: There were not enough instruments for the children.
    • Problem #2: It wasn’t safe for the children to have expensive instruments.
    • Problem #3: There were no classrooms.

    • Problem #4: The children struggled as they learned to play their instruments.