101 Collective Nouns by Jennifer Cossins

Have you ever wondered what to call a group of seals?otters? cows?

Well wonder no more – this is the book for you!


101 Collective Nouns by Jennifer Cossins is a highly engaging and educational book that teaches the reader the different group names given to different types of animals – well 101 of them!

Who thought of calling a group of cranes a siege? or a group of goldfish troubling?

The background behind each group name isn’t given but it sparked our interest  – which is something I love about this book. Being able to spark an interest or some extra imagination is a wonderful characteristic of a great book.

Jennifer Cossins illustrations are delightful and show the diversity of size, shape and colour within each animal group.

101 Collective nouns is a great way to start teaching  others about not only the amazing animals we have living on our planet but also the creativity of the English language!

So what can you do at home?

 – Find out why the different group names are given to each animal.

– If you could change any of these group names what would you change them to?

– Are any of these animals endangered?

Check out some more of Jennifer Cossins designs

Published by Lothian Children’s books (Hachette Childrens)

 

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The family hour By Tai Snaith

The Family Hour by Tai Snaith. Published by Thames and Hudson

How does your family breakfast time look?

How do you keep your family cool those hot summery days?

Can you imagine living with your family underground?

 

Perhaps you have pondered on these questions…perhaps you have wondered what the animal families might do in their family time too?

The family hour by Tai Snaith explores how different Australian animals spend time together – frog dads sing, seadragon dads carry their babies in their pouch, echidna mothers feed their babies pink milk and Tasmanian devil families love to be noisy!

As we read through this book we had a laugh at some of the  family antics, a hint of jealousy at some and a feeling of wonder with others. The animal world is so intricate and it is wonderful to read books like this one to make these facts much more fun for children.

Tai’s illustrations bring warmth to each family’s activity and just shows that any type of family – no matter which type – are all important to the happiness of each other.

So what can you do?

Learn more about Australian animals, choose one that you do not know much about and find out how they live in Australia.

Learn more about the different types of human families there are and why they are all so different – yet amongst that difference still so important.

Draw an animal family doing something that animals don’t normally do (or perhaps do whilst we aren’t looking….)

 

 

 

So how can you use this book at home?

 

Another wonderful aspect of this story are the extra facts at the back of the book which also include if this animal is endangered – a great place to start a discussion on how we can help them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way to Nana’s by Frances and Lindsay Haji-Ali.

On the way to Nana’s is another fantastic book published by Magabala books and written by Frances and Lindsay Haji-Ali and illustrated by David Hardy.

Have you ever been on a road trip that was around 1000km long? Frances and Lindsay Haji-Ali have – with four children as well!


On the way to Nana’s house is a vividly illustrated counting book that incorporates magnificent Australian scenery through the eyes of a small child on a long journey through the top end of Australia. As soon as the first page is opened your senses are filled with warm, fresh air, adventure and a visual delight!  Counting from 15-1 the reader hops into the car alongside the family and visits waterfalls, termite mounds, outback schools, wildlife and the ever changing landscape.

As children read this story they are introduced to the concept of counting backwards from 15-1 through the road signs and the different amounts of objects on the page. The concept of counting backwards can be quite difficult but this book brings this to life in a fantastic mix through numbers, words and illustrations.

 

I’m on the way to Nana’s house. What will I see?

 

David Hardy’s illustrations are striking as he musters up pigments that truly remind any outback adventurer of the red hue of the desert, the contrast of a storm against the red mountains and the vivid blue of the fresh running waterfalls.

The trip from Broome to Wyndham is on our to do list after spending some time around Broome many years ago and after reading this book I am inspired to start thinking more seriously about when we can take some time to make the journey – perhaps taking at least a week or two!

This book is a must for anyone embarking on a long road trip as not only will it entertain it will also teach the young reader!

 

So how else can you use this book at home?

 

  • Take out the map of Australia and find out where these places are.
  • Where could you drive from your house in 1000km?
  • Learn more about the town’s along this pathway and how people live in these remote places.
  • Practise counting backwards from bigger numbers – create some extra pages in the book so you can count from 20 after learning more about the area.

 

 

 

Crabbing with Dad by Paul Seden

Have you ever been crabbing? Or perhaps fishing out at sea? 


Crabbing with Dad
is a beautiful children’s picture book from author and illustrator, Paul Seden.

Crabbing with Dad takes you on an adventure through the eyes of two small children as they explore their neighborhood and go out on a boat with their Dad to set up crab pots in an idyllic, serene and stunning location!

The illustrations take you away to this location, you can feel the warmth of the sun, the smell of the salt air and the sound of the waves and sea birds.

Younger children will love reading this story and the idea of finding a secret spot to go and hang out. The illustrations are eye catching and the story is easy to follow – my children had a giggle at the name of the shellfish the children in the story saw along the way  – long bum – now who wouldn’t?

The ideal childhood – zooming along the creek, saying hello to fellow fishermen and catching your own dinner! Many children may not have experienced something like this so reading this book will allow your child to see different things they can do by the water and perhaps gain more of an appreciation of where their seafood comes from. This book also shows us that the simple activities with our loved ones can be the most wonderful experiences.

Crabbing with Dad is a must read – it might inspire your next weekend or holiday?

So how does this work towards a sustainable world?

Empathy: Looking at how others live. Look at the jobs other people do to make a living and what they do with their days.

Where does your seafood come from? Check out this great resources for the next time you are at the seafood shop.

How much seafood should we be eating?

Mapping: Where might this be set? Explore this region on the map and through websites.

 

Just don’t get nipped! 

 

 

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Do you really know what happens to refugees once they arrive in camps?

Have you ever considered how long some of these people live in these camps?

 

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Frailly is a must read for every Australian across all ages from 10 and up.

It is confronting – this takes place in most developed countries who sprout how peaceful and caring we are.

It is full of hope – Friendships blossom, dreams are big and stories are told.

It has sadness – too many times throughout the story we hear about loved ones left overseas, lost in war or on the journey to a seemingly better life.

Through the eyes of young Subhi we see what life is like within these refugee camps. Subhi is a storyteller, a reader and a dreamer, He knows nothing apart from life within a camp – it was where he was born so he doesn’t know any different except for the stories he is told by his mother, sister and friends.

We follow Subhi and his daily encounters  in the camp and understand what life is like and the unrest felt by those within. We dream with him and see the night see bring him gifts from a far off land.

But things change once he meets Jimmie – an unexpected friend who comes from outside of the fence. Together they go on a journey through a story written down by someone Jimmie has lost. Over hot chocolate and jokes they share secrets and slowly mend each other’s wounds.

The bone Sparrow is a powerful story. Your heart will break, you will cry and you will laugh. You will live alongside Subhi as he dreams his life on the other side of the fence. This book is a must read for everyone. 

The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless – Young Adult Fiction

As soon as I started this novel i couldn’t put it down. This story stirred so many emotions – it brought tears to my eyes, made my stomach flutter with the memories of young love, I felt anger at the town bullies and joy at the beautiful friendships.

The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless is a story about a young girl living in a small Australian coastal town where most people rely on fishing as their income. As in many small towns rumours abound, opportunities dry up and the young people want to leave.


Our strong, fierce and brave character – Lucy – is dealing with the very raw death of her mother, the departure of a close friend and the discovery that she can walk into other people’s dreams.

Dream walker will bring your imagination to life and make you wonder about dreams and how powerful they can be.

A powerful story that delves into issues of suicide, alcoholism, bullying, grief and violence is a must read for any young adult who is pondering where they are in their lives, the harm secrets can bring to us and the importance of friendship and family.

The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless is one of those books that will stay with you long after you have finished. A must read!

Plastic Free July

 July is Plastic Free July and throughout this month we all need to try and make an effort to make our lives full of less plastic!

Why do we need to start using less plastic?

Plastic has been an amazing invention and has so many wonderful uses but the problem today is that we are overusing it in places where we don’t need to.

Do we really need plastic bags for our fruit and vegetables at the supermarket?

At the checkout?

Do we really need all that pre packaged food when we can make our own?

Does everything really need to be wrapped in plastic before we take it home? Especially when home isn’t that far away? 

The simple answer is no and although it may seem hard to make these changes, you can – slow and steady if that is what it takes.

But how? Try this module out – Only $2.99  – an inspiring start to getting rid of the plastic in your pantry! 


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You can also just start with some simple swaps.

Not sure how to empower or educate yourself or your child? The following books are excellent reads to help encourage the use of less plastic——- check them out:

Ada’s Violin – True story picture book – Paraguay’s recycled orchestra. Discussion: Why is there so much in landfill and how can we reduce this?

Out of the Blue by Alison Jay – Wordless picture book. Story of looking after the ocean. Why is there rubbish in the ocean? What can you change in your life so you make less of an impact on sea creatures? (what do you flush down the drain that is harmful?)

10 little rubber ducks – Based on the true story of a shipping container which broke in open sea and unloaded thousands of rubber ducks. Where might they be now? How is this an environmental disaster?

My Green Day – Simple tips on how you can have a greener day.

The Seagull – A seagull is tangled up in fishing wire and a young boy rescues him. Why is there discarded fishing wire on the beach and other rubbish entangled in it? How can we use less single use plastic?

The Lorax by Dr Seuss –  

This book looks at how greed can cause us to waste materials and cause damage to the earth. By thinking about what our plastic does after we use it we can start to see why we should use less.

Compost Stew by Mary McKenna

By using materials that can be composted – not thrown into landfill we are creating a better place and creating better soil for future food and plants!

The tomorrow book by Jackie French

With imagination, creative thinking, problem solving and open minds, tomorrow can be a wonderful day where we harness the sun’s energy, we repair things instead of throwing them away, we each have our own veggie patch and wind power is just another form of easy to use energy. This book looks at how children can make a difference in the world they live in – not just rely on the adults!!

Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo

Have you ever thought about reusing something instead of throwing it away? This is a wonderful story to get your creative side into gear.

 

Let me know how you go – can you maintain your plastic free ways? 

Books can open your mind

Have you ever thought about how a book has changed your perspective on things? Has meeting a character in a story made you think twice about how you think about someone you know or see in the news? Have you ever read a book which tested your belief system?


Reading books opens our minds to new and exciting things. As parents and teachers, even though it is wonderful when we see our children enjoying a particular genre or author style, we should encourage our children to seek out different types of books to read when borrowing from the library.  

How can you do this? Talk to your child about what they are borrowing and reading and ask them what they think of the book and the characters within. Go to the local library together after school or on the weekend and instead of going to the same type of book or author –  suggest something just slightly different.

When we seek out different books we can open magical lands that we may have never stumbled across. We can see how others, whom we might not always relate to persevere to achieve their dreams…or perhaps the opposite. Seeking out books that make us think stretches our mind and help us to realise what else is outside of our own little bubble – something we should encourage in all of our children

Refugee week 2017

This week is Refugee week ( 18th June – 24th June) and there is no better way to bring about awareness about this terrible issue than through a book.

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Refugees are a real, current and terrible problem that we have in our world and possibly one that will get worse if war continues, water rises in low lying islands of the world and famine ravages nations.

We need to help educate our children so that they feel empathy towards these people who just seek safety in a new land where they too can live a peaceful and happy life.

However – many of these picture books and Young adult fiction are confronting so tread with care as you read. Be prepared to talk about what happens in the story so your child feels hope  that something can be done to help the future.

Here are a few great books that I have come across:

Out by Angela May George

Out

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.

Flight by Nadia Wheatley

Flight is a confronting story about a young family fleeing from their home in search of refuge.

Flight

Drawn in shades of black and brown the images add to the feelings of unknown these travelers must be experiencing. It is dark and fearful but throughout the pages we see hope.
The story begins like that of the Christian Christmas story – a small family leaving there home town in search of safety: following the stars and riding on a donkey,  but as we read along we discover this is a small Muslim family who are escaping their war torn home.
This book is one that needs to be read to older children with reflection and questioning.

I’m Australian too by Mem Fox and Rhonojoy Ghosh 
I'm Australian Too

Throughout the story we hear about families from Ireland, Italy, China and Syria. We meet the ancestors of  the first people of Australia and also the refugees who are still waiting to be a part of Australia.
Mem Fox celebrates the diversity of Australia and the friendliness of the community through children’s eyes. Rhyme is used along with the thought provoking repetitive question:

Book reviews to come

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillion
The Bone Sparrow

Home and Away by John Marsden
Home and Away (Lothian Australian Favourites)

And some books I would love to review when I have the time!

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Refugees by David Miller

Four feet two sandals

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Great resources from the Refugee week page are available from this link

 Lonely Planet

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Educate Empower Shop

Items available to help you to educate and empower your family and/or classrooms.

Start up sale – All modules are $2.99. Delivery straight to your inbox within 2 working days.

  1. Where are my clothes from?

Do you want to learn more about where your clothing comes from? This small module helps you and your family to understand what the clothing in your house is made of, where it has come from and if the companies care for their workers. This is a hands on, practical and educational module for families and classrooms.
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2. How much plastic is in our pantry?

This module will help you and your family to take a look at how much plastic waste you are creating through your daily food choices. Take some time together to look at what you eat and consider making some swaps on your path to becoming a greener household.

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3. Refugees in our world

This module will help you to talk about who refugees are, where they come from, how we can help them in our country and what life can be like for these people.


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Buy Books here:
Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

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How to teach your child about fair trade: clothing.

What we buy plays a huge role in so many people’s lives  – how much they are paid, health effects of how the clothes are made and environmental impact of the clothing production.


How can you teach your child about fair trade in regards to clothing? How can you be more aware of what you buy so you are reducing your footprint on the earth and it’s people?

Grab some clothes from your drawers and with your child:

  • Look at where they have come from. Using a map of the world see where those countries are.

(The closer the clothes are made the better! This means less plane kilometres(less pollution) and the likelihood that the people who made your clothes have been not been paid that well) 

  • Look at what your clothes are made from – many are plastic based – do you have many natural fibres?

(Plastic based clothes take more time to break down and therefore have a longer lasting impact on the environment. The people who work with these materials are more likely to have their health impacted upon)


  • With the same pile of clothes work out which ones you have bought brand new, brought form an op shop or been handed down to.

(Clothes can be quite cheap so many of us are happy to buy and wear once. Try to visit an opshop for your clothes, wear your clothes for more than one season and pass on used clothes to others)

  • How many of these clothes are worn out?

(Many cheap clothes will not last very long but will hang around for 100’s of years. Try to invest in clothes that last longer – this doesn’t always mean the most expensive brand will last longer!!) 

Talk together about what you are going to do to lessen your clothing impact on the world!  Then have a read of these books to inspire some fun activities and change!

Schumann the Shoeman and The Very hungry bum.

 

A-Z of endangered animals

Have you ever heard of an Amur Tiger, an Umbrella bird or even a Zebra Duiker?

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 A-Z of Endangered Animals

A-Z of Endangered Animals

Perhaps that is all you will ever do – hear of them – as without immediate action, many of the animals in this picture book will disappear out of the wild and possibly out of conservation programs.


A-Z of endangered animals by Jennifer Cossins is a intricately detailed non-fiction book for children (but adults will love it too!)

The endangered species are explored alphabetically with each page telling us where the animal is from, some interesting and fun facts but also the number of these animals left – disturbingly, some only have 50 left in the whole world.

As I read this book to my children, (they are 5 and 3 so I didn’t read it word for word but pulled out interesting facts)  I could tell they were distressed about the demise of these animals. So rather than dwell on the low numbers we did this:

 What can we do?

  • We can donate money to conservation groups.
  • We can teach others about these animals
  • We can take care of our immediate environment to make sure the animals near us are safe.
  • We can write letters to those in power to ensure there are tougher laws on cats outside at night.
  • We can write letters to those in power imploring them to ensure that there are more trees, natural spaces, less chemicals and less plastic waste.
  • We can draw these animals and learn more ourselves.

Teach your children how they can educate others and they will learn so much more themselves. 

Animals in my garden by Bronwyn Houston

Have you ever wanted to be a biologist?

Have you ever wondered how they count all those animals in the wild?

Counting animals is great fun – and predicting the whole amount of animals in a pride, nest or swarm isn’t easy work when they don’t sit still for too long.

Animals in my garden by Bronwyn Houston is a great start for those budding scientists – and they only need to be able to count to ten!

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The animals in this garden are all Australian animals and many of these animals we actually do see in our garden – we haven’t seen a snake yet but I’m sure they are around from time to time.

We loved counting the animals on each page and talking about the different places they were in the garden and the activity they were up to.

As a board book published by Magabala Books this is a colourful story for younger readers as not only are they listening to words, they are also learning about counting and Australian animals.

We also loved comparing this book to the original story by Bronwyn Houston – Counting Aussie animals in my backyard. By comparing the two books we were able to look at how the animals were placed differently, discuss why there were different adjectives and verbs and also wonder about which book would suit different readers.

Browyn Houston’s illustrations are detailed with texture, patterns and bright colours – just looking at them alone is a great joy!

Animals in my Garden is a wonderful addition to any little readers library!

So what else can you do?

  • Create your own version of Animals in my garden by going outside and finding different animals that reside on your balcony, backyard or nearby park!

By helping your child explore the local environment you are showing them that they are not the only living thing around. When we realise that other living things also live near us we should be more aware of how everything we do impacts others.

When you create your own book you are not only helping your child to learn how to count but also count animals that are moving around in front of them. It doesn’t always have to be animals – insects are abundant in any open space so see what you can find!

  • Have a go at creating your own illustrations too using the techniques Bronwyn Houston has used.
  • Share your new book out loud to others – by creating something that others apart from the creator sees gives it more meaning and may inspire more creations!

Inspire your child to keep on reading

Many parents may at some stage find that your child is no longer engaged in reading. This can happen at any age and sometimes for no noticeable reason here are a few tips on how to promote positive attitude towards reading – both learning to read and reading for pleasure.

  1. Don’t pressure your child.

There may be some undue pressure placed on your child by parents, teachers and themselves to be the best reader in the class or achieve a certain level. Rather than just back off – use praise and encrouagement for what your child can do. Celebrate and reading strategy that they can use well and work from there. Praising the positive helps to improve the difficulties they are having.

2. Observe them reading

Rather than always jumping in when they have difficulty watch them work through the problem. Ask them what they are having difficulty with and then discuss that difficulty. Always giving your child the answer does not teach them anything.

3. Model reading

If your child is having difficulty reading, show them how it is done. Show them how you work out difficult words by sounding out, chunking sounds and using contextual clues.

4. Reward reading with more reading.

Don’t use bribes or rewards to get through the daily reading tasks. Rather than offer a sticker or food when certain activities have been done – offer time for a trip to the library with a parent or a trip to the book store to buy a new book of their choice. We need our children to see that learning to read leads into reading for pleasure.

Parents play an important role in encouraging a love of reading. Ensuring that you make learning to read and any time reading enjoyable is an important part of the role you play in helping your child to be the best reader they can be.

What was your favourite book as a child? This is a great way to start a conversation

On the River by Roland Harvey

Come with me from the mountains to the sea.

 

How well do you know the Murray River? Do you know where it flows from and too and what is along the way? This is the perfect book to do some lounge room exploring from!

Ronald Harvey has written some great books which explore Australian environments, share secrets and learn about the people, animals and plants that live alongside and amongst it.

On the River is a delightful picture book with detailed illustrations on every page that leave you searching for the main character, bird life, antics of the local people and the amazement of the river itself.

This book is both educational and entertaining as you travel along thousands of kilmotres through farms, tourist areas, dams and towns. The reader learns about the importance of the river and the devastating effect human activity is having on it’s life.

As humans clear more land for housing, over fish rivers and take water for farming the river and it’s diverse ecosystem is failing. There is more drought within towns that once thrived on the river and more toxic bursts due to chemicals we put down the drains and onto farming produce. So many people love and enjoy this river that it really is time we started to look.

Ronald Harvey drives home this big issue through facts about the river, it’s history and the people who love it.

So what can you do at home?

GEOGRAPHY & SCIENCE

  • Look at the map on the inside cover and then find another map of the Murray River on the computer or an atlas. Look at the different towns along the river and find out more about them.
  • Find out where your water comes from. Where is your water tank? Local dam? Water tower?
  • Check out the health of your local water source with some simple water testing kits. Some are more in depth and can check for all sorts of minerals, metals and bugs!
  • What would we do if we did not have rivers?
  • How are rivers the life blood of our country?
  • How would Australia look if we did not have the vast river system that we do? And what might it look like if we do not take care of these rivers?

Stories for Simon by Lisa Miranda Sarzin and Illustrated by Lauren Briggs.

This story speaks of love and understanding, it speaks of a time past and a time present coming together. Stories for Simon shows us that we are all part of this big world and together we can all help healing to take place.


Stories for Simon is a truly beautiful story about healing the past and working together for a brighter future.

When a young boy named Simon receives a Boomerang in the post from his uncle little does he know that the paper that wraps the Boomerang carries a message to the Stolen generations of Australia.

Sorry

With his teacher and mother’s help he learns what saying sorry means.

But it is through an unexpected friendship that Simon really understands the meaning of saying sorry.

This is a wonderful story of friendship, understanding of different cultures and reconciliation. The illustrations add to the cultural dimension of this story – both Indigenous dreamtime and the horrifying aspects of the stolen generation. Children will love looking at the illustrations as they read Stories for Simon as they add warmth and acknowledgment to each of the characters and their role within the story.

Stories for Simon will help readers to understand why saying sorry is so important, why the healing process will take a long time and why we need to continue to work towards a better future for the Indigenous people of Australia.

All royalties from this book go towards the GO foundation (Goodes & O’Loughlin) which supports creating opportunities for Indigenous Youth through education.

So what can you do?

REFLECT

LITERACY

  • What do you think the stones meant?
  • Where do you think this famous beach is?

DEVELOPING EMPATHY

  • Create your own Sorry cloud for Reconciliation week – just like the sorry stones. What do you think we can do to make Australia a better place for everyone? 

GEOGRAPHY

  • There is a forward by Vic Simms, an elder of the Bidjigal nation. Research the different nations of Australia.