Hush

We have read Possum Magic by Mem Fox many many times but at the moment it is taking on a little bit more meaning.


We have a resident possum and her baby living in our cubby house. Even though this may sound cute, the reasons they are there are heartbreaking.

– The mother has huge gashes on her body either from a fellow possum fighting for a tree or from a cat – and there are way too many cats who roam our neighbourhood at night.

– They have not been able to find a new tree due to the many trees that have been cut down in our area due to recent development.

– Our chickens are not very welcoming pets and they did not like the possum and her baby living in their coop.

We tried to build a possum box but she just didn’t move to it. We placed it at the right height, put fruit, old fur and poo in it but she just found the pretend oven in the cubby house more inviting.

We hope that her mother has some invisibility tips for young hush as I am just not sure how well they will go with so many cats around.

Australia – we need to take more ownership of these so called pets. If you have a cat please lock it up at night, place a bell and collar around it’s neck (even if it is chipped) and provide stimulation for it at home. Check out the PETA website – they are against cruelty to animals and even they suggest keeping your cat indoors – that says a lot to me.

I’m drafting up several letters to send to councillors and I am going to be pushing this issue. If they can rid the national park near us of foxes, surely they can bring in tougher laws for cats.

Think about Hush.

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Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

I read my first real graphic novel in my twenties – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – it was amazing. Not only the storytelling and the story to be told, but the fact that this huge and terrible part of history could be told in a simple and easier to understand way.


Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin also does just that. We are all very aware of the horrible refugee crisis in our world but perhaps many of us do not know of the journey that these people need to go through in order to reach a new country.

Told through the eyes of young Ebo, we learn about where he lives in Africa and his desire to leave his home town where there is no work and little family left. Following his older brother he makes a dangerous journey into the town of Agadez where he meets his older brother. It is there that they work hard to leave the city and make the perilious journey through desert and then the sea for a better life.

The reader experiences the highs and the many lows of Ebo’s journry. Giovanni Rigano’s illustrations show the reader the love, hope and desperation of the people. We are also able to see the harshness of the desert and the terror of the sea.

Through  Coulfer and Donkin’s storytelling we feel Ebo’s emotions, understand his desires and hope for a better future with him.

We meet other refugees who also desire a better life and we learn why they risk everything in order to reach a country, which they think will help them.

Illegal is a story that needs to be shared. The way refugees are treated by many countries is beyond comprehension and this story just shows how desparate theses people are. No one would ever undertake the journey if they didn’t need to.

At the end of the story the reader can view a map with explanation of where Ebo travels which I found and those children I shared the story with most informative.

There is also another short graphic story at the end of Illegal, that speaks to us about a young refugee woman. This story brings to light the plight of young women who may be travelling with young children or pregnant and their desperation to flee terror and poverty.

Illegal is a story to share and a story to reflect on. It is a story that will hopefully stir emotion and action so that more people do not need to take these journeys.

 

So what can you do?

  • Find out where the refugees in your country are from and plot the journey they have taken to get to your country.

 

  • Find some news articles that tell you a story about someone who has come you’re your country as a refugee. Find out how they came here, who they left behind or lost and what they needed to do.

 

  • Look at how the graphic novel is set out and create your own graphic novel that will teach others about an important story like this one.

 

  • See if there is a way you can help people who are refugees in your country.

You could:

– Write a letter to your local member, Premier or Prime Minister.

– Contact Local refugee organisations and see if there is any way you can help.

– Raise awareness in your community by submitting a short graphic novel to the local newspaper or school newsletter.

 

  • Learn more about the UN charter of rights and also the Rights of a child. Which rights did Ebo, his brother and many people not have along the journey? Can you think of anyone you know who is not being given all of their rights?

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup

We live under the same sky….

We feel the same love….

We play the same games…..

 

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup is a picture book for young readers that shows us the beautiful connection that we all have no matter where we live, what we look like, who we love, what we do or how we play.

Delicate illustrations add a soft and gentle touch to the words that quieten young minds and allow them to reflect on the different walks of life around the world.

We have read a few of Teckentrup’s books and this one is definitely another favourite.

Each page follows on from the next with a peek-a-boo type window so that similar ideas can carry on for two pages. Children will love looking through the window and perhaps guessing what will be said on the next page.

Under the same sky is a subtle way to talk to young readers about the world and the many people within. It is a way to teach children about discrimination in its many forms. It is a way to teach children acceptance of others and understanding that ultimately everyone who lives just wants to love, wants to play, wants to sing – just wants to enjoy life, be kind to others and seek out joy.

Britta Teckentrup is a beautiful writer and her illustrations add great points for discussion.

A great picture book read for younger children but also a great one to get older children thinking.

So what else can you do?

  •  Explore how children live around the world. How do children the same age as your children play? What do they sing? How do they learn?
  •  Look up at the sky and talk about what you can see. What can others see? As a group talk about how we all see different things in the world we live in.
  •  Create a book just like this one using the same sentence starter to bring across a message.
  •  Do you treat people like you would want them to be treated? Does your government treat people like they all live under the same sky and have the same hopes?
  • Explore the rhyme used in the story and how it helps to portray the message of equality. Create your own rhyming sentences that have the same starter.

Playing card games

What does your bed time routine look like?

Is it calm? Full of stories? Games? Laughter?

Or is it rushed, scheduled and stressful?


Some parent’s tell me that their children are too restless to sleep at night after a day at school and even stories won’t relax them.

Have you ever tried a card game?


We have found that a couple of rounds of UNO or Rummy for kids relaxes our Miss 6 and gives her the quiet space she needs before bed.

This time is also really special as it is often spent in her room with just one parent (mostly her dad) so not only is she playing a quiet and fun game she is also getting to spend some one on one time with an adult. There is no need for conversation but it is that 15-20 minutes of attention that helps her to wind down from the day.

So pull out those dusty cards and teach yourself then your child a simple game that you can both enjoy before bed.

 

Snap review: Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables by Tim Harris

Mr Bambuckle is every student’s idea of a dream teacher and perhaps some teacher’s wish they could be more like Mr Bambuckle!


I loved the way Tim Harris presented each short story and through each short story we were able to meet the different students in 12B.

I particulary loved the story of the washing machine as I know that in my childhood I was once afraid of the noise the washing machine made.

Tim Harris has a great ability to make children laugh, connect with the characters and perhaps learn a lesson or two as they read.

This book is also a great way to show students the many different ways stories can be presented.

A great book to read out loud to your class – and perhaps inspire some great storytelling amongst a group!

Fluke by Lesley Gibbes and Michelle Dawson

The little southern right whale was born under the shadow of the great harbour bridge.


Fluke by Lesley Gibbs and Michelle Dawson is a beautifully told story about the day a southern right whale gave birth to a calf in Sydney Harbour. Lesley Gibbs gentle storytelling skills alongside Michelle Dawson’s mesmerising illustrations make for a loving tale about a mother whale in search for her baby deep in the harbour.

This event was only the third one recorded in the last 200 years so it made a great impact on the locals who were able to watch the baby grow, become lost and then reunite with it’s mother.

Not only do we get to read this lovingly told tale, we are also able to learn more about Southern Right Whales through small facts on the front and back covers.

The story of Fluke brings to light the care that so many of us have towards living creatures when we see them in distress. It shows just how much many of us love the living world around us and marvel at the wonders it gives us everyday.

So how can we link this to sustainability? 

  • Learn more about whales – where they live, what they eat, how they move and any historical facts about human contact.
  • Are whales endangered? There are many different whales – are all of them endangered and are they all endangered by the same things?
  • How does our water usage effect these great mammals? Can you use water in a more sensible way so that it is not effecting the whales?
  • Do you know of any other stories about animal conservation that have been created into picture books? There are a few on my blog — Can you create your own?

 Phasmid

 Rhino in the House

 The hairy nosed wombats find a new home

The little Corroboree Frog

Circle

Feathers

  • Is climate change or global warming effecting these mammals?
  • How can you make sure you are making less of an impact on how whales live?

Try this:

 Use less chemicals in the shower (Check the ingredients on your bottles)

 Use less throw away plastic  – it can end up in the oceans.

Walk instead of driving

Use less heating or cooling when you can add a jumper or open up some windows instead.

Eat at home or in a restaurant instead of getting take-away.

Make your own food instead of buying food in excess packaging.

Check out some great Biome products here

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins

I’m writing this story in a bottle lost at sea…..

 

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins is a collection of poems for children that ignite imagination, incite dreaming and explore the great land and wildlife of Australia.


Poetry is not something I read a lot of – but after reading Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins I believe it is something I should do more often.

Not only did I enjoy the diverse range of poems included in this book but the children I read it to lapped it up.

My son asked me to read the poem about the Cassowary several times over along with Pond Pests and Magic Fish Dreaming. We loved the rhyme in some poems, the storytelling within others and the speech between families.

Each poem told a different story and really ignited conversations about fairy teeth, why a Cassowary wasn’t at his home and the possibility of us going on an adventure in a bottle.

June Perkin’s poems are short yet effervescent. They are perfect for reading out loud and some of these poems can also be read as a group. Helen Magisson’s delicate pastel illustrations compliment each poem and add more mystery to those poems which make you sit and wonder; what if?

Not only are these poems full of imaginative places they also bring up issues of endangered animals, loss of habitat and the importance of respecting the land. The beauty of these poems that talk about cane toad invasion and loss of natural habitat is that the message can be quickly understood – something that is really important when trying to educate young children.

Magic Fish Dreaming is a wonderful anthology and one to share with your young children.

 

So what can you do at home?

 

  • Read the poems out loud – which poems can you read together? Which poems have different characters?
  • Find the poems that have rhyme – do you prefer poems with or without rhyme?
  • Which animals are mentioned in the story are endangered? Find out where these animals live and why they are endangered.
  • What are cane toad poles? Why are cane toads pests?
  • Rain is mentioned in a few poems – explore how rain can help and hinder the people and animals of the land.
  • Choose a favourite poem and create a short story from this poem. You could explore the idea of writing a story from a bottle or perhaps finding your own fairy tooth.

 

Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins

Thunder Rolls – BOOM!

Way up north, lightning flashes, thunder rolls, and the frogs sing a chorus.

Big fella rain coming


 

The magic of the summer rains is wholeheartedly felt throughout this picture book. Living in a place where life blossoms almost immediately after the first rains would be a magical place to be. This book, Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins and published by Magabala Books, is a celebration of life and the reliance all living things have on rain.

Figurative language abounds in this story from liquorice clouds, cracked earth, iridescent wings and thirsty reeds. You can feel the world come to life through the story and see it grow in colour through the illustrations.

Big Fella Rain allows the reader to explore how life changes when water plays its role. We can see seeds looking for somewhere to sow themselves, animals drinking up the long-awaited water and rivers forming to support life. The subtle changes of colours in the illustrations throughout the story show the life return to the red sand and cracked earth.

Big Fella Rain is a celebration of the start of the rainy season – the clouds building, the animals retreating and the cracked earth waiting. It is a celebration of the seasons in the Top End of Australia and the delicate nature of the natural world.

Fern Martin’s illustrations are exquisite and the details she adds to the animal features or the subtle changes in the sky add more depth to the story and show the young reader just what life looks like as the rain falls.

We loved reading this story, looking at the details of the insects, listening to the animals cry for joy and watch the water as it made it’s presence. Big Fella Rain is a wonderful picture book to read out loud, pour over the pictures and think about how much we rely on water.

 

So what can you do at home?

Explore Water 

Explore the animals of the Top end

  • Which type of tortoises live in the Top End? What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?
  • What are Brolgas? Emus? Which other large water birds live there?
  • Are there any frogs endemic to the Top End?
  • We often forget about insects but they also play a role in this story – how do they cope with the rain? Where might they go when it is too wet?
  • Are any animals endangered due to climate change? Less rain or too much rain? Damage from mining or pollution?

Explore art

Explore the art work by Fern Martins – Explore how she has created the illustrations in this story and her other artwork. 

 

Have you ever experienced the start of the rainy season? I would love to hear your stories!

Empowering young children

Just last night, after dinner and bath time – the time we usually spend reading, was spent creating posters.


Why?

We had just read about the Corroboree frog and wanted to know about other animals that were endangered.

Why?

Because through enlightening picture books my children are developing a global awareness. They are beginning to understand the important role they play in making a difference in the world they live in.  I didn’t suggest it, I just nurtured this need to create and create they did.

We decided to explore all different types of endangered animals and my daughter then created a poster she could take to school – so she could let her friends know about these creatures.

My children care about the world they live in and they want others to care to, so by simple things like making a poster about endangered animals , showing others we can live without excessive amounts of plastic and working out how we can care for those less fortunate than us are all important foundations to be laying down in our children.

take a look at what we have done and think about how you as a parent or a teacher can find half an hour in your day to nurture the children in your care so they can become more aware of how they can make a difference in our world.

Snap reviews:A most magical girl by Karen Foxlee

 I’ve always loved adventure stories and magic stories so A most magical girl by Karen Foxlee was a great find!


Shortlisted in the 2017 CBCA, this story takes the reader on a magical journey through a part of London I am sure you never thought existed.

Fairy walls, troll holes and shadows that chase are all part of a journey that Annabel must undertake if she is to save London from being taken over by …..and his machine which will turn the world we know it into darkness and evil times.

This story will be devoured by young readers and I think girls will love the fact that the three heroes of the story are all females who show intelligence, bravery and friendship.

This would be a great way to get your students or children thinking about the possibilities of the magical world and what might lie beneath our city streets!

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Go home cheeky animals by Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley

“Go home, cheeky animals!”

“All cheeky animals, Go home!”

An energetic and fun filled book – Go home, cheeky animals! by Johanna Bell and Dion Beasley is a deserved winner of the CBCA early childhood section for 2017.


You can feel the heat  of Canteen Creek, the noise of the people and animals who live there and the energy flying in every way when the various feral animals come to the farm and chew up pants, eat the owners food, stamp all over the grass and just generally cause chaos!

But where are the cheeky dogs? Aren’t they supposed to be helping to get rid of these cheeky animals? Perhaps they will stop their snoozing in the warm sunshine – you’ll have to read it to find out!

Not only do we learn about these cheeky animals but also the seasons of the Top End. The rainy season and dry season, the humid season and the windy season, the dry season and the stormy season are all a part of this story and a beautiful part of the ever changing Top End of Australia.

Dion Beasley’s illustrations are full of energy, they are lots of fun and children love looking at the pictures to see what the different characters are getting up to when the cheeky animals invade!

Cheeky animals is a wonderful story to share with younger readers – they will love the barely controlled mayhem and the child-esque illustrations. Cheeky animals is a great book to explore life in the Northern Territory of Australia – a place many Australian’s haven’t ventured too – especially those places that are further away from the main cities.


So what can you do at home?

  •  Find out where Canteen creek is. Explore what the temperature and life would be like there.
  •  List the cheeky animals. Why are these animals cheeky? Explore the concept of feral animals. Why are there feral animals in Australia? What are they? How does an animal become feral?
  •  Are there any cheeky animals around your house? Draw a map of where you live, like the one in this picture book. Draw in where you think cheeky animals might live. These could be feral animals or animals in abundance that might cause chaos at your house!
  • Explore the different seasons in the Top End and compare to where you live.
  •  For older readers – How can we ensure the populations of Feral animals are kept down? Why do we need to get rid of feral animals?

 

Here are some interesting reads on why we don’t need feral animals!!

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2017-08-09/wild-pigs-found-south-australia-mid-north/8786908

http://www.fpmagazine.com.au/australian-animals-on-the-brink-of-extinction-351308/

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/police-and-council-crack-down-on-feral-cat-feeders-20170731-gxmi4v.html

Book vs screen

So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, Go throw your TV set away, And in its place you can install, A lovely bookshelf on the wall.” — Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

How often do you encourage your children to read books? How often do you read books? Now it is so easy to gain access to mystery, adventure and information via the screen and many of this viewing is wonderful but we also need to take the time to slow down and access this information through books.

Research has shown that when we read books to find facts we absorb the information more easily as we are slowing down, focussing on one thing at a time and thinking about the facts rather than trying to process a few different things at the same time. We have some great new fact books in the library  – Science experiments, cars and autobiographies.

When we read mysteries, humorous or adventure stories we have time to reflect on the story, we can take a break and think about the last chapter we read before moving onto the next event and we can also invent the characters and setting to some extent – igniting our imagination.

Reading with a child rather than watching television with them also increases conversation, encourages questioning and closeness. It is important to keep these lines of communication open when our children are young so that they remain open as they grow older.

We don’t need to get rid of our televisions but rather think about what else we can encourage our children to do when they need some down time.  What would you like to see in our library so your child is keen to continue to read rather than grab the screen?

National Threatened species day

Today is National threatened species day and a great day to pull out a book so you can learn more about an animal that is in need of help.

What is a threatened species?

A threatened species is an animal or plant that has numbers which are becoming lower. This could be due to loss of habitat, feral animals or disease.

Why celebrate?

This day is celebrated in order to raise awareness of how we can start to reverse the decline in numbers and reflect on the past – where we have let animals become critically endangered or extinct.

What can you do?

Pick up some books:

CLICK ON IMAGE TO BUY FROM FISHPOND – FREE DELIVERY! 

Koala Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect Rhino in the House: The Story of Saving Samia One Small Island   A-Z of Endangered Animals

CLICK ON IMAGE TO READ BOOK REVIEW AND TEACHER NOTES

Koala by Claire Saxby

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Phasmid by Rohan Cleve

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Rhino in the House by Daniel Kirk

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A-Z of Endangered animals by

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One small island  by Alison Lester

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Create a poster to share with otherscheck out my blog post on this activity.

Encourage a public speaking competition where children creatively teach others about endangered species

Write your own stories about an endangered animal who has been saved just like Rhino in the House or Phasmid or The Hairy Nosed Wombats Find a new home.  

Check out my simple lesson plan here: Writing a non fiction picture book

wombats

What will do to to help children learn more on threatened species day?

Stripes in the forest by Aleesah Darlison and Shane McGrath

We will hide from their eyes, their dogs, their fire sticks.

We will survive.

For always, we will be. Stripes in the forest. Stealth in the shadows.


A book written for those who value wildlife. A book written to stir awareness of the precious animals in our care. A book written to ensure that we do not wipe out any more animals due to our actions.

Aleesah Darlison has created a story which captures the sprit of the last wild Thylacine, hunted down by man. Stripes in the forest is not so much a story of hope but one of warning. As I read this book to my children and some classes there was a sadness that overcame us all and many questions – why did they hunt them? What did they do wrong? Are they still alive? What can we do now?

The Thylacine was an amazing creature that once inhabited mainland Australia but was slowly hunted out due to farmers killing them to protect their flocks and hunters killing them for sport. The last known Thylacine died in captivity in 1936 but since there rumours have abounded as to whether or not some have still survived.

Shane McGrath’s illustrations give more depth to the story adding the darkness of the rainforests, the hiding places the Thylacine seemed out when it was hunted and the fear it felt when it lost it’s family. The Thylacine is drawn in great detail, giving the reader a true understanding of how it looked and moved.

Stripes in the forest will need some extra discussion after it has been read as it is quite dark; Guns are fired and animals are killed – a very sad reality which still happens today.

But despite it darkness it brings across a very important message – we need to look after the animals on this earth. We need to support those who work in animal conservation so that no more animals become extinct. We need to learn from our past mistakes to make sure this does not happen again.

The facts at the end of this story are a great way to inspire further research into the Thylacine and perhaps some groups who still believe it may be running around somewhere in Tasmania!

So how can we link this to Sustainability? 

  • Check out a list of endangered animals and find out how humans are impacting their existence.
  • Explore these questions – Do we really need as much farm land as we currently have? How does farmland impact on native animals?
  • How do you cause animals to become endangered and how can you change this? (Do you have a cat that creeps out at night? Do you drive instead of walking? How many native plants are in your backyard or local park?)
  • How are conservation groups and scientists helping some of these endangered animals?
  • How does poverty or war cause animals to become endangered?
  • Write to your local government asking them to do more for the animals in your area.
  • Talk about these animals to others and by raising awareness we can make a difference!

One very tired Wombat by Renee Treml

Feeling a little sleepy but ready to learn about some beautiful Australian animals?


Put on those snuggly pyjamas and have a read of this delightful counting book – One very tired Wombat by Renee Treml.

One very tired Wombat by Renee Treml is a intricately illustrated counting book where one wombat just wants to sleep!

As the wombat tries to snuggle down he is disturbed by furtive frogmouths, playful penguins and bubbly budgerigahs until he sneezes – which you’ll have to read for yourself to find out what happens to all of his noisy guests!

Not only will your child be exposed to counting both forwards and backwards between one and ten but they will also learn a little bit about each cheeky animal throughout the story and then on the back page of the book.

Renee Treml is a very talented artist and each animal has been drawn with expert detail and care – so much so that your child will easily recognise these birds if they are seen in the wild.

SO what can you do at home?

  • Learn more about these cheeky birds who you might hear in the morning if you live near nature reserves.
  • Create your own counting book with ten of your own favourite animals from your country.
  • Renee has used alliteration throughout the story. Explore the words she has used and then think of how you could describe some different Australian animals and birds.
  • Visit Renee’s website and learn about how she creates her images. Perhaps you could try this with young children by scratching onto wet paint to create a picture using lines.
  • Plot on a map where these animals live in Australia. Are any of them close to you? Are any of these animals endangered?
  • Where do wombats live? Explore where wombats usually sleep so they can avoid noisy feathered friends!

 

 

Pyjamas and books

Reading a book in pyjamas is a wonderful thing. Cotton, wool or some mixture of fabric, pyjamas are a sign to slow down, relax and read.


But where are your pyjamas from? Who made them? And what are they made from?

As someone who lives in a developed nation I have access to a lot of fast fashion and having two kids – this fast fashion has been a first choice of mine for many reasons

– It is cheap

– It is easy to find

– It will last as long as I need it as children grow so fast.

But it is time to stop.

It is time to stop using fast fashion brands whose produce is creating more harm than good through one use items of clothing, harmful chemicals in the fabrics and mistreatment of the workers who create the clothes in developing nations.

There is a wonderful app called Good On you and this has been a great educational tool for me when I have been at the shops or online. It is free and definitely worth the download.

But moving back to our pyjamas.

Cotton pyjamas are a sure sign of summer and the smell of summer is in the air so I have jumped online and bought some divine pyjamas from Eternal Creation.

This company is based in Dharamsala in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas and supports 50 workers who lovingly create each item of clothing. These workers are treated fairly and work in a space that is fun. They create beautiful clothes, send them straight to your door and have an easy to use website.

But remember – If you can’t afford to buy new pyjamas the next best option (which we love doing) is going to op shops and also pairing up with friends and swapping clothes around.

Next time you are searching for something comfortable to read in at night time – try something that is made of natural fabric, supports local communities and works with the natural environment. You’ll be winning all the way to bed!

Need some tips on how to teach your child about fair trade clothing? Try this – teaching your child about fair trade clothing.

Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid

The idea of swimming on top of freshly mown grass which has been swamped by fresh water conjures up ideas of the simple and care free nature that comes with being a child. This scene, amongst others in Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin really sums up how beautiful childhood can be when we are free to take life slowly, not worry about money, war or jobs and just play with our friends and imagination.


Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid is a cleverly written fiction book written for 10-15 year olds. Written from the perspective of young Farida, the reader explores life in Sudan before the war consumes the nation.

Farida is a carefree, playful and imaginative girl who not only enjoys helping her mother around the house also enjoys learning about the world around her. Farida has an English  Mother, A sudanese Father and sister and two brothers and experiences traditional Sudanese culture on a daily basis but also learns English and some western ways from her mother.

Hot beans for breakfast, endless cups of tea, outdoor meals and stifling heat are all part of growing up in Sudan. Visits to the local library by foot, picking oranges with neighbours and helping out with a friend’s mother birth are something perhaps foreign to many children in the western world.

Through the eyes of Farida we learn about the Sudanese traditions of prayer, mourning ceremonies and important religious days. The reader is also exposed to each chapter being written in English and Arabic.

Swimming on the Lawn is a quiet read and through the simple short stories there is so much to learn about a life devoid of electronic devices, fast food and a fast life. The childhood of Farida and her siblings seems idyllic until the war begins – and we all know where that has led the nation that once flourished.

Fremantle Press have provided some thought provoking teacher notes for you to use. It is a great book to debrief about and explore more about how children in other countries live.  This book can be used to ignite children into thinking about how they can make their life a bit slower and a bit more playful.

 

 

Read, talk, do – the corroboree frog 

 

Recently we read the story: The little Corroborree Frog  

And it has inspired some action in my children. There was no pushing of we have to do this, we have to learn that or we have to save the world. There were simple discussions after we read the story and little discussions around the house when we used water or decided to make our own snacks instead of buying them.

So what happened?

We made a link

My son and I visited the zoo and were lucky enough to see a Corroborree frog.

We made another link

When we returned home my son and daughter watched a couple of short videos on the computer so we could see how they move in the wild and in captivity.

We learnt something and wanted to share it.

There is no point just keeping all the great facts to yourselves so we made posters that we can stick up at home and take to school for news.

See – simple!

If you have time at home, perhaps half an hour you too can educate and empower your children to make a difference in their world. If we don’t start to take action now many animals and people will not be living a great life in the future.

 

 

 

Free Diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston

Do you know much about the history of Australia’s pearling industry? In the late nineteenth century, many of Western Australia’s Indigenous were forced to dive for pearl shell under terrible conditions. This story is a tribute to these men and women who risked their lives for the pearl lugger owners.


Free diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston is a lyrical narrative that takes the reader on a journey out to sea and on board a pearl lugger. A pearl lugger was the name given to the large vessels that were used to go out to sea to collect pearl shell. This industry, which has brought a lot of money to Australia is still a part of the economy today – visit Broome to see the many pearl shops up there – but under much better circumstances for the divers.

Older readers will be entranced by the colour of the land and the sea. They will feel scared and worried as the main character dives beneath the waves and yearns for his home. The prose entices the reader to ask questions about where they are, why they are diving with just a rope and why is pearl so precious?

This story really allows the reader to see the past injustices of society and how many people were treated so terribly just for the sake of money.

Brown Houston’s illustrations add more emotion to the story. We feel the gentleness of the ocean breeze, the warmth of the sunshine, the quietness of the moon. But we also see the fear the young man feels, we see the worry he holds within but also the freedom he feels when under the water.

Although I have read a little bit about the history of the Pearling industry from my visit to Broome this book gave me more insight into the dark side of it and how something so beautiful can hold a sad story.

Read this book with your children – it is a beautiful tale. The song at the end may inspire you to pull out your guitar and have a sing along too.

So what can you do after you have read this book?  

  • Explore the pearling industry. Compare the past and the present. Indigenous people had their own methods of finding pearl shell long before the Europeans came along.
  • Are there currently any injustices in the jewellery industry? Explore the concepts of fair-trade and worker’s rights.
  • Sing the song together – it is a beautiful tribute and there is no better way to learn about a story than through song.
  • Explore the art of Bronwyn Houston and the techniques used in this story.
  • Stand up for human rights. Keep an eye out for those around you and make sure that everyone is being treated equally. Be more mindful of what you buy to ensure that people aren’t being mistreated just for a final product.

At the beach I see by Kamsani Bin Salleh

The beach is one of my favourite places to go to. The warm sand, the crashing of the waves and the smell of the ocean. I love swimming too – but only when it is warm enough!


At the beach I see by Kamsani Bin Salleh and published by Magabala Books, is a vibrantly illustrated board book which young children will adore. On each page the reader is treated to a visual delight – not only are the different animals or plants of the sea coloured in life-like colours, they also have intricate designs on them – which we loved looking at.

The designs on each creature really highlighted the fact that although these underwater dwellers may look the same, they – like us, are all so very different.

Each watery page also exposes the reader to creative adjectives that describe how the  ocean animal or plant moves in or above the water.

Babies, toddlers, preschoolers and even young school children will love reading this book. It is easy to read, alive with colour and full of amazing sea creatures!

So what can you do with this book?

  • Visit the beach, a river, dam – whatever local waterway you can and look at the different plants and animals that reside there. Take your sketchbook down and draw the animals. Look at how they live, what they might eat and where they hide.
  • Explore the adjectives used in this book, how else can these animals and plants be described?
  • Look at the patterns Kamsani Bin Salleh has used. Explore different types of lines – waves, circles, spots, straight lines, curvy lines, spirals, dashes, zig zags. Create your own art using these lines. A great way to do this is to cover paper in paint and then scratch lines into the paint – a great sensory experience.
  • Look at some more great Young Art books published by Magabala Books.
  • For older readers – How can we take better care of the beach so these animals can continue to thrive in a pristine environment? Think of at least one thing you can do (less chemicals down the drain, pick up some rubbish at the beach, leave shells behind, buy less plastic)

 

What do you love about the beach? 

 

 

The lost teddy

Last night was our first night without a dear member of our family.


The cuddly, ever present, ever listening, soft blue furred bear named Bollo.

This bear was delivered with a bunch of flowers when my son was born – and I can’t even remember who sent them. But from about one year of age, our son fell in love with him.

His soft fur.

His light blue colouring.

His gentle eyes.

His cuddly body.

Bollo is an adventurous bear and he has been everywhere with us. He has been left behind twice – once at a park (luckily my parent’s were driving through and found him) and then last night.

When we left him at the park our son cried most of the way home – but luckily he was found, photographed, washed and then returned the following day.

But last night was a lot more traumatic, being older he really noticed the missing warmth. Our son cried himself to sleep – we offered cuddles but he said we didn’t have the lovely soft blue fur of Bollo. He woke up three times in the night crying, only soothing words, cuddles and music helped settle him – not the usual snuggle from Bollo.

Teddy bears, blankets and loved toys are so important to little children. They are a loving creature that is alive. The teddy experiences their hopes, joys, fears and adventures. The teddy bear soothes them when they are scared or upset. The teddy bear dances in front of a camera and does those crazy things that the child might not have the confidence to do.

We love Bollo just as much as we love our daughter’s loved teddy called Marty. Marty now sits on the shelf and occasionally comes up to play but I think he might be in need to being hidden away for the future.

Does your child have a Teddy Bear?

How do you think this bear helps your child?

Bollo was found the next day – at daycare and a feast was in order.

This bear just loves Honey toast, snow peas, capsicum and chocolate cake.

The scared book by Debra Tidball and Kim Siew

Have you ever considered how your book feels about telling you a story?

Did it ever occur to you that it might be shaking with fear, crying streams of tears or shaking with laughter?

Well wonder no more – The scared book by Debra Tidball is all about a book that is too scared to tell its story – and it needs you – the reader, to help it overcome it’s fears!


The Scared Book by Debra Tidball and illustrated by Kim Siew is a delightfully funny read that not only entertains young readers, it also teaches them about feelings and how those feelings are very normal. Through interaction, children learn that there are easy ways to make those uncomfortable feelings go away if you look at the fun and positive side of life.

Tingles up and down spines, butterflies in tummies and goosebumps all over it’s skin are just a few sensations this scared book is feeling. But thankfully the book is being read and the reader is asked to help blow the butterflies away, rub the goosebumps and scratch the tingles off. Children love books that they can interact with and on every page of this book readers can move their fingers on the page and even shake the book to ensure the book doesn’t remain scared – because we really all just want to hear the story!

Deb Siew’s illustrations are vibrant and full of energy, and despite the book being scared of the monsters, the children I read the story too thought they looked a little bit crazy – which is much nicer than scary! But despite the craziness of these monsters, we still wanted to shoo them away (do you really want to hang out with a three eyed monster?)

The way the story takes the readers shows us how scared feelings can be overcome. We can mentally scratch the tingles, rub the goosebumps and blow the butterflies. Allowing children to learn how to recognise these feelings is really important and it’s even more important that they learn how to help themselves to feel better.

The Scared Book is a fun read and a great book that allows you to spend some close time with your young readers.

So what else can you do?

  •  Write different feelings on separate pieces of paper. Start with simple ones such as happy, sad, scared and brave. On each sheet write how your body might feel. Compare the different feelings. After this, using a different colour, explore how we can make these bad feelings go away.
  • Explore when you have felt scared – why were you scared? How did you feel? Did someone need to help you feel better? What did you do? Discuss the idea of talking to others when you feel scared and how talking about these feelings is very important.
  • Look at how Kim Siew has given movement and colour to the monsters and feelings in the book, can you write a word that looks like it sounds (Look at the please page) Could you create a page like the ‘trample them’ page?
  • Look at your own book collection – do you think you have any other books that are scared? Worried? Happy? In love? Try to group these books according to feelings – a great way to rearrange the shelves!