Where is Bear? by Camilla de la Bedoyere

Where is Bear? by Camilla dela Bedoyere and illustrated by Emma Levey takes the reader on a wonderful journey all over the world to meet different types of bears!


Who knew that there were this many types of bears and of course many more that aren’t mentioned in the book!

This book is full of fun dialogue between a rabbit and all of the different bears she encounters on her journey to deliver a birthday present to her friend Ping the Panda Bear! As we meet each type of bear we also meet the different animals who share the same habitat.

Children learn many different facts through the conversations the animals are having with eachother and will enjoy spotting what each animal is up to.

Emma Levey’s illustrations are colourful and eye catching so your child will not only be engaged with the fun dialogue but also with the creative drawings.

Where is Bear? is a wonderful book to engage your child into not only the world of bears but also an awareness of different habitats around the world.

So what can you do with this book?

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Which bears are threatened or endangered species? Investigate why this is happening.
  • What sort of habitat do the different bears live in? Are any of these habitats changing due to human action?

SCIENCE/GEOGRAPHY

  •  Could any of these bears ever encounter each other?
  • Plot on a map where the different bears are from – make it more detailed than the one in the story.

LITERACY

  •  Create your own non-fiction picture book that allows the reader to learn about something in a fun way. Aim to engage younger readers into more complex topics.
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Don’t forget the numeracy skills

There is a lot of focus on Literacy skills – and so there should be BUT numeracy is equally important and the embedding of those basic skills in the early years is really important.

However, many parents may feel that numeracy doesn’t play a role in home readers and sight words BUT it can.

  •  Count the letters in each word in the selected group of sight words. Group them according the number of letters in each group.
  •  Clap out and talk about or write down the amount of syllables in each word.
  •  Stretch out each word and count how many sounds there are in the word as opposed to just letters. (e.g. shop has ‘sh’ ‘o’ ‘p’)

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When reading:

  •  Look at the page numbers – discuss odd and even numbers. Look at how many pages there are and count on from the last number.
  • How many illustrations are in the story?
  • How many full stops?
  • How long is the book? Use informal measurements such as fingerspaces before you measure in centimetres.
  • How heavy is the book? What might it weigh the same as?
  • What shape is the book? What else is shaped like this? Count sides and then think about why books are square and not triangle or circular!

 

And perhaps consider this article, a very good reason to help your child to love mathematics: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/a-dire-lack-of-interest-in-students-wanting-to-pursue-maths-careers-20170330-gv9pwa.html

 

Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver

Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver was the last book she produced in her artistic career and it truly is a wonderful book to be remembered by.


Rock Pool Secrets take children on a journey into the secrets of a rock pool through high and low tide. Children can discover the different animals that hide amongst the rocks and see how they survive fluctuations in the water level, food availability and predators.

Rock Pools are always a fascinating place to be and there is so much hidden deep down crevices and cracks, behind seaweed and darkness.

Each page engages the reader as they search for camouflaged animals, hidden molluscs and inky octopuses.

Rock Pool Secrets is a beautiful book to help your child become aware of these imagination inspiring places and how something so small can do so many amazing things.

So what can you do with this book?

SCIENCE

  • Learn about different animals that live in rock pools. Discover their life cycles, habitat and eating habits.
  • Where are rockpools situated?
  • Are there any famous rockpools in the world and why are they famous?

 

LITERACY

  • Using this book as a springboard, choose another area of interest in the area of science. How could you present this new topic in an interesting and engaging manner? Try to engage your peers in a new way so that they can learn something new.

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Why do we need rockpools?
  • How can the ph of the water effect the livelihood of rock pool creatures?
  • What sort of creatures only live in rockpools?
  • Are rockpools ever in danger of destruction?
  • If all rockpools were destroyed, what might the oceans look like?

SCIENCELearn about different animals that live in rock pools. Discover their life cycles, habitat and eating habits.Where are rockpools situated?Are there any famous rockpools in the wor

What do you love about you? Karen Lechelt

What do you love about you by Karen Lechelt is a delicate story about how we can find beauty in ourselves.


The little girl in this story asks her animal friends what they love about themselves and each one can come up with one thing that they love and how it helps them to be happy and appreciative of life.

At times young children can start to see faults in themselves and these faults seem to be noticed at younger and younger ages. My daughter was upset only last week about the fact that one of her ears was slightly bigger than the other. She was only worried for a short time and it hasn’t come up again but this book has really helped her to see beauty in herself and not to get caught up on the small stuff.

What do you love about you has been illustrated in soft pastel colours which gives the book not only a calming feeling but also the feeling that each character is truly genuine about what they love about themselves.

What do you love about you should be a book that every school and home has, being an easy read with descriptive illustrations, all children will take something away from this and perhaps find that a little bit of positive self reflection goes a long way.

After you have read this book –

  • Ask your child what they love about themselves. Wait for them to answer and don’t push for more than one response.
  • Talk about great things they have done and can do.
  • Praise those positive actions throughout the day and celebrate the goodness they have.
  • Building up your child’s self esteem while they are young is vital so that they can entre the teenage years full of confidence.

Encouraging a love of literacy

There has been a bit of a focus on my blog about sight words and home readers – which both play a role in learning to read but how can we ensure our children love reading? And continue to love reading throughout their lives?

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Here are a few tips:

  • Let them see you read. Let them see you read a variety of materials – not just the tablet or iPhone! Grab a book from the library, read the newspaper, subscribe to an informative magazine. Show them that reading is for pleasure – not just for school or work.
  • Take them to the library. Show an interest in what they are passionate about. Borrow books prolifically rather than always buying them. You can borrow up to 20 books at a time for those younger readers – encourage that and show that you love doing it to.
  • Take the pressure off. Don’t make your child sit and read a book they don’t enjoy. If you find they are not enjoying reading – find something they will enjoy. Many older children love reading graphic novels as there are pictures alongside the words (Smile by Raina telgemeier )
  • Try and read out loud every night or morning – whatever works for you. Listening to a story being read aloud has a calming effect on many children and adults. It’s a space where we can sit, listen and imagine. (We loved reading Mopoke and Juniors will love Time Travelling with a Hamster

Aquatica: a beginner’s field guide by Lance Balchin.

Before the earth’s environment collapsed, under the weight of industrial pollution and radioactive waster, the oceans teemed with an abundance of life. 

It’s now 2200 and all that moves now is only mechanical…..


Aquatica is the second book by Lance Balchin which explores a future where all animals and insects as we know them now are long extinct and all that we have are mechanical creatures.

Aquatica explores a world filled with aquatic animals who have evolved from robotic drones into free thinking, dangerous attackers. Life in 2200 is dangerous yet amazingly interesting.

The protagonist Liberty Crisp, aged 15, is on a mission to document each of these species and try to befriend them so the world does not destroy itself even more than it has.

You can spend hours looking at the details of each mechanical creature and reading the detail of it’s habitat, speed and lifestyle. Lance Balchin ignites our imagination and makes the reader ponder the future – what do we want it to look like for our children?

So how can you use this book at home? 

 – Revisit Mechanica and the activities included.

 – Visit a nearby water way and investigate the different living species that live within this environment.

 – Look at what you put down your drain at home – could any of this effect marine life?

 – Make your own Aquatica creature  and test to see if it can live in water.

 – Look at organisations such as WWF, Greenpeace and see how they help our oceans.

Slow down world by Tai Snaith

Do you sometimes feel like your world is moving too fast? 

Soothing words, mesmerizing sentences and a calm atmosphere encompass you as you read this magical and relaxing picture book.

Slow down world encourages the reader to spend quiet time looking into your imagination, moving at your own pace and not letting worries get the better of us.

This book is a timely reminder for all of us who are swept up in a busy world to stop, take a breath and move in the moment. It also helps us to reflect on the wonder each of us have within ourselves.

This book has been written with children in mind but I truly believe that readers of any age will appreciate the message it is sending us.  Life is too short to rush, worry and constantly think about what is coming up next.

After the story there are several suggested activities for children to do and think about – mindful hugs, gratitude, outside play, stopping and breathing and expressing feelings.

Each illustration has been created through collage which gives a playful approach to the calm message.

Slow down world by Tai Snaith is a beautiful picture book, one which will remain with you long after it is read and hopefully encourage you to slow down -because when you slow down you have more time to make friends, try new things and appreciate special moments.

Library visits and learning to read

Why should you take the time out of your weekend or afternoon to visit the library if your child already does so during school hours?

Here are my seven reasons as to why you should visit your local library:

  • You’re promoting the idea of sharing within the community. Many children have been brought up to expect everything new. Libraries promote the idea that we can share wonderful resources, take care of them and lend them to someone else. Lucy’s Book is a great read to instil this! img_4836
  • Community activities. Many libraries run after school clubs and activities. This is a wonderful way to meet other people in your community who are like minded. These activities are often free or at a minimal price and may run over school holidays.

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  • Libraries promote a love of learning – forever. There are many different sections and types of reading material in the library which allows your child to see beyond the picture books.

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  • Borrowing books promotes a love of reading which in turn helps literacy skills!

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  • You learn how to research through books and well designed online material. Help your child to know that research isn’t just a google search – show them a book and the index page – they will gain so much more knowledge this way!

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  • You can borrow talking books, music and movies! There are so many different ways to learn and through the library your child can find the best way they can enjoy literature.

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  • Librarians are great. They are passionate about books and are there to help the youngest of readers. Say hello to your librarian and tell them what you are reading – there is a chance they haven’t had time to read that latest book and they love hearing your thoughts!

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Down the drain

I’m talking the talk so I’d better walk the walk.

I’ve read and blogged about many books that inspire us to take better care of our rivers, lakes and oceans and the creatures within.

So here is a recipe to make your own toilet bombs.

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Simply pop them in the bowl, scrub whilst they fizz and your bowl will not only be clean but will also smell lovely!

  •  1 cup of bicarbonate soda
  •   1/4 cup of citric acid
  •  3 tablespoons of castile soap.
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon essential oil
  • 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil. (feel free to change these oils around as you please)

Mix dry ingredients then add wet ingredients.

Push into ice cube moulds and let set for 3 hours.

The mixture may fizz and rise a bit in the moulds so just press down until it settles down.

Enjoy the smell!!

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Loving all types of literacy

Linking literacy to books is a passion of mine (as you may have guessed) but so is learning to read.

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The early years of any child’s life and then formal education are vital for building a love of literacy. If we miss those years children struggle through many areas of their lives as reading is such a big part of it!

Here are some simple ways you can start to build phonemic awareness in a fun way which involves books. No worksheets. No writing. No repetition. Just books and conversations!

  • When you look at the front cover read it out loud. Read the authors name, illustrators name and perhaps even the blurb. Ask your child if they can think of another name that starts with the same sound as the authors first name. Start with the initial letter but if you child can do it, blend the first two letters and find names with that sound.

 

  • As you read look for pictures that might look like letters – this can be lots of fun and can be done as you drive in the car or go for a play outside!
  • If your child is a keen writer – write down their favourite words or sounds from the book. Stick these words on the wall and they can copy them or even make them out of blocks or shapes when the time suits them.

 

  • Make up your own story together – write it down if you like and illustrate.

 

  • Don’t just focus on home readers – make sure your children are reading books they choose for pleasure.

 

  • You don’t always need to read books – try comics or magazines, non-fiction and audio books! . Exposure to different forms of literacy opens their mind and encourages passion from an early age.

 

  • Let me know your thoughts!

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan

‘Never step on a snail’

Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan explores a relationship between two boys or brothers over the course of the summer holidays. This book is shelved in the Fiction section of our library and although younger readers may enjoy the pictures – it really is a book for readers who can think more deeply about what is happening as each page is turned.

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There is no particular narrative in this story but rather a series of rules that one must not forget if they are to survive summer.

Each page adds more intrigue to the story being told through pictures and leaves many questions being asked by the reader. You may find many questions of self reflection being asked about children’s own approach to different situations and why that crow appears in nearly every page.

We had a lot of fun working through this picture book in four lessons. If you would like to go on a summer journey too: Visit my TPT store to purchase the lesson outline you can use with your group to explore:

– Details of the pictures

– The role adults play in the lives of children.

– Changing perspective.

– Creative thinking through the KAPLAN model.

An eco easter.

Another Easter rolls around and all we seem to see in the shops are hot cross buns and easter eggs! Not that this is a bad thing but it is starting to become more and more consumer driven rather than about the meaning behind Easter. Whether you are christian or not – Easter shouldn’t be about the foil covered, plastic boxed easter eggs. It should be a celebration of new life.


There are many ways we can start to change our habits and not make Easter another environmental disaster – AND still have fun! Most Easter eggs are covered in foil which isn’t recyclable and also boxed in plastic which is also not recyclable.

So what can you do? Perhaps try these swaps this year to make your Easter a little bit more eco-friendly!

  • We all love chocolate so keep the chocolate! But can you source locally made or fair trade chocolate?
  • Buy an Easter book! A book is a gift that keeps on giving.
  • Make your own Homemade chocolates! Melt some bulk bought chocolate (if you buy in bulk there is little or no packaging from whole food stores) into moulds. The children can wake up to a jar of homemade chocolates instead of store bought eggs.
  • Use bunny prints instead of an Easter egg trail.
  • Buy seeds or flowers – these represent new life and many seeds planted now will be stunning flowers in Spring!
  • Replace plastic eggs with felt or knitted eggs (many of these can be sourced online).
  • Donate to the Bilby foundation instead of buying Easter eggs for the Adults in your life.
  • Make your own Homemade Hot Cross Buns!

Wendall the Narwhal by Emily Dove

This book was the find of the year. My three year old son loves Whales and therefore had a great interest in Narwhals and then we saw the name of the narwhal: WENDELL!! Wendell rhymes with our surname – who would have thought?!?!

AND it is a fantastic book!

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Wendall is a Narwhal who lives in the ocean with many other noisy sea creatures. As Wendell listens to the sounds the talented creatures make, the reader is able to experience the beauty of onomatopoeia.

Pop, Pop, Pop, Wubba, Wubba Wub, Tweeeeeedly Dee, Whoosh, Clap, clap Clap! 

And then there is Narwhal who can’t make a sound….luckily he has friends who are kind and think of a way that he too can join in with the undersea orchestra!

Wendell the Narwhal is a great way to introduce musical sounds to your young reader and also bring awareness to the amazing creatures that live in our oceans.

The illustrations are cute and add depth to the onomatopoeia. Emily Dove’s illustrations really personify each sea creature as they play their sound and feel different emotions. .

We spent some time after reading the book looking at videos of Narwhals, clams and whales. Perhaps you can too!

So what can you do at home or in the classroom?

Conservation and sustainability.

  1. Research why Narwhal’s have tusks – you will be intrigued! Try to draw your own conclusions as it seems that scientists still haven’t worked it out.
  2. Where do all of these sea creatures live? Do they live side by side in reality?
  3. Are any of these creatures at risk due to human behaviour?

Language

  1. Explore the onomatopoeia words and think of some more!

Music

  1. Create your own piece of undersea music or even change the location to amongst the trees or sand dunes? Use words instead of instruments – just like the undersea orchestra in this story!

The real sight words

At home we are finding it hard to engage our little miss on those sight words that can’t be decoded (can’t be sounded out)

She was becoming disappointed that she couldn’t reach the next level so our home approach needed to change.

Here are some things we are now doing to engage with those words that are just too tricky!

– Write the word in water, flour, dough etc – allowing your child to feel the word can help them slow down and think about what they are creating. Slowing down when learning to read is an important skill.

– Slow down to sound out. Look at the word and break it into syllables. Breaking even tricky sight words into syllables can help.

– Write some crazy sentences!

– Write down a set of instructions to make some type of food. The your child sees purpose in what they are reading.

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– Read a book they are interested in and show them where their sight words occur. Your child could even join in reading those sight words!

Your child and numeracy

You might be wondering why a blog post about numeracy when this blog is all about books?! Literacy and numeracy are closely linked especially in the early years of learning. We need to develop language skills in order to develop numeracy skills and many picture books can provide great language opportunities. However, in this post I am going to share some other ways you can link numeracy at home.

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Some simple numeracy activities for the above picture: Counting petals, counting the number of flowers, measure the length of a leaf with shoes, Which leaf is the longest? shortest? Which is the furthest away from my foot? 

So – Do you have a child who is not interested in numeracy?

You’re not alone – there are many different things you can do at home to encourage your child to enjoy numeracy. It is important to note that numeracy isn’t just about counting, it is also about problem solving, interpreting data, understanding patterns and developing perseverance.

The NSW mathematics syllabus is broken down into many different parts and as parents we can start to expose our child to the different parts of this curriculum through play and incidental learning opportunities.

What can you do? 

 

  • Starting with the basics – counting. Count toes, pieces of food, leaves, toys etc. Make it real. There is no point just counting to ten if your child has no correspondence as to what they are actually counting.
  •  Explore shapes. Draw shapes on paper, make them with rocks, create a circular train track or a triangular shaped sandwich. Ask them which shapes are similiar and which are different – this will encourage problem solving and analyses of the world around them.
  • The language of numeracy is very important so using words such as big, bigger and biggest, who is taller? Which toy is thinner? Who came second etc. Without a strong language base in numeracy children can have difficulty learning new concepts.
  • When chopping food – ask your child to help chop something in half or quarters. This can be quite a difficult concept to understand so different hands on experiences will help.
  • Measure things around the house or playground – but not with a ruler – use shoes, string, pencils or bananas! It is important we allow our children to have fun while they learn and through this fun play they are learning! All new concepts for children should begins with informal learning activities. Through this measurement activity they are developing their confidence to measure something so that when they are confronted with mm, cm and metres they will be not be confused or lack confidence.

 

Now all of these activities can be done anywhere and anytime. As parents we need to make learning fun and informal. So try to embed simple numeracy activities into your everyday lives and take less focus off the counting from 1-10 and more on the doing part of numeracy. Watch your child play, build or do puzzles and ask them questions: How many more to you need? What will fit there? Which is bigger? What size are they? Which one is half as long as the other?

Approach mathematical learning as one which can happen in every day activities – don’t stress about it but look for opportunities you can highlight it.

 

 

 

 

The ABC book of Food

Have you ever been asked where your apples come from? Or have you ever wondered if your child knows how bananas are grown and that they don’t just appear in a supermarket?

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The ABC book of Food by Helen Martin and Judith Simpson is an informative book for the young and old who need reminding about where their food comes from!

Many of us have only ever used the supermarket for food shopping so take little notice of where the food we eat every day comes from. However, this rhyming picture book enlightens the reader and teaches us the many different pathways food takes to make it to our table.

Each piece of information is accompanied by colorfully drawn illustrations drawn by Cheryl Orsini that show the many different ways food plays a role in our lives.

So how can we use this book?

  • Talk about where your food comes from. Open up the cupboard up read labels to see what is in each product and where it is from.
  •  Where are your fruits and vegetables from? Look at a map of your country to see where they have been sourced from.
  •  Is there food you can live without? Perhaps consider food kilometres when having this discussion.
  • how can you grow something of your own?
  • Compare how people look in the different food situations. Are their common themes? Are there differences?
  • Create a production line to layout how your food comes from the farm to it’s current state.