A-Z of Australian animals by Jennifer Cossins.

Did you know there is an Australian animal that starts with X? 

And that many of the animals that inhabit Australia are endemic to it?

Or perhaps you didn’t realise that the only egg laying mammals in the world live amongst our shrub?

Well wonder no more! Make yourself comfortable and journey through the amazing alphabet of Australian animals.

On this alphabetical journey you will learn about an animal that represents each letter of the alphabet through illustration, facts and figures. Children will delight in Jennifer Cossins vibrant illustrations which resemble the real animal in focus.

We have read all of Jennifer’s books and have adored them all. Not only are the illustrations amazing, the facts that she provides are perfect for little minds. Tapping into the interesting facts and basic information, children will want to learn more about an animal that resonates with them long after you have finished reading.

The Orange Bellied Parrot was a favourite of ours and once we found out it was endangered we made a poster just to share with others the importance of looking after the natural world and helping those who are trying to save them.

We also loved the Sugar glider and my children were quite jealous of the fact that it had the name sugar in it’s name and it got to eat sweet things every day!

A-Z of Australian animals is a delightful book to read, use as a reference guide and admire the illustrations of. One for every library at home, school or in the community.

So what can you do at home?

  •  Explore one or more of the animals in this book. Find out which ones live close to you or a place you have visited.
  • Use a map of Australia to see where each of these animals live.
  • Write your own list of Australian animals A-Z and see what else you can come up with!
  • Read some more of Jennifer Cossins books and explore her illustration techniques throughout the different books.

The baby animal Book

A-Z of endangered animals

101 collective nouns

Teachers – There are some great teacher notes here

Continue reading

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Find your treasure #2

This year the theme for book week is Find your treasure, so each week in our library we will be taking part in a small activity where the theme will be promoted.

I have some much loved covers from my Who gives a crap toilet paper and instead of putting them straight into the bin they are being converted into book covers (see below)

Each book that has been covered has three clues on the front. The idea behind this is for children to see what sort of books could be ones that they treasure.

We have books about adventure, women’s rights, battles and laughter. Not only will children get to guess which books are hidden behind the paper, they will also discover these covered books hidden on our shelves throughout the year.

Finding treasure is exciting and I hope that by covering some much loved books other children will also discover that exploring in the library can be fun!

Unplugged by Steve Antony

But one day there was a power cut…

Can you imagine? A life without your computer? phone or tablet?

What would you do if you had to go outside, talk to people around you or explore the unknown outside the safety of your device?

Steve Antony has answered these questions in his creative picture book – Unplugged.

Blip, a little robot loves her computer and all of the different things she can do on it. She can play games, learn new things, sing, draw and go on adventures – what more could she want?

She thinks she has it all until the power is cut and it is only then that she realises how much more is outside and how much more colour it brings to our lives.

Blip loves being outside and with real friends  and even though she loves her computer she realises just how great outdoor play is and the need to do it more often.

Simply told through words and pictures, children can see the similarities and differences between computer games and the outside world. But they can also see how much better playing outside is. Most children I have read this to have agreed that outside is so much better but they still like their computers – which is fine but as adults we really need to get motivated and take our children outside, explore with them, play with them and teach them just how much more is out there.

Computers are great but they can breed jealousy (when viewing those perfect pictures) time wasting, inappropriate content, narrow view of the world, time wasting and loss of imagination and creativity.

Perhaps it is time to see what you and your children are doing when you are plugged and unplugged. Perhaps it is time to become just like Blip and see how great it is to be unplugged!

So what else can you do with this book?

LITERACY

  •  Write a letter to yourself persuading you to get unplugged more often.
  •  Write a letter to your parents, encouraging them to get unplugged
  • When Blip plays all day long there are no words between the friends. What do you think they might be saying to each other?
  • If you were to spend a whole week with your family without screens what would you do? Where would you go? Write some ideas down to share.

NUMERACY

  • Work out how much time you spend in front of a screen and work out a way you can spend less time in front of it.
  • How often do you move? Investigate your daily movement and how taking time off the screen can help your movement and health.

INQUIRY

  •  How are you like Blip? Create an advertisement to show a person, before and after being unplugged. You can choose a perspective to take this from – health and wellness or computing company.  Look at how advertisements can persuade us to do things that aren’t great for our health and see how you can create your own.

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.

Many of us have heard the story of Malala but this magical picture book brings her story to younger readers.

Armed with her dreams of a magic pencil, Malala tells us of all the things she used to wish she could do if she had a magic pencil.

However Malala realises that her magic pencil won’t appear so instead she works hard at school but then once the military move in and try to stop girls from being educate she realises that she has her own pencil and her own mind and voice so she writes letters to the world.

She doesn’t stop there. She speaks to the media, travels around her country and inspires girls to take a stand for themselves and their basic human rirghts.

Malala’s voice has continued to grow loud as time has gone on and she continues to work hard for those girls who are missing out on being educated.

The support she must have from her parent’s is phenomenal and it really is a message to both children and parents.

Children – don’t think you are powerless just becase you are small. You have a voice and you can speak up.

Adults – support your children to speak up. Teach them about the world and how they can make a positive difference.

What can you do at home?

  • Find out more about Malala and the school she has opened in Pakistan.
  • Find out where Pakistan is and why girls don’t have the same rights as boys.
  • Find out where else in the world girls have trouble going to school. Explore why this happens and who is trying to change this.
  • Think about what you can speak out about. Is there something you wish to change in your community? Write letters, connect with like minded individuals.
  • Share Malala’s story and those of other people who have spoken out – be inspired to be the change you want to see in your world.

Find your treasure #1

This year’s CBCA book week theme is Find your treasure. In our library the students will be participating in a variety of competitions with great book prizes!

Perhaps you would like to participate in some of these at your school?

Visit my Tpt store and for a term one special of $3.99 you can download and use these ideas too!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Find-your-Treasure-CBCA-Book-theme-2018-3653620

There are two competitions each term for all terms of the year – Finding your treasure doesn’t end in book week!

Just some of the ideas…..

Term 1, Competition 2.

Choose a book that you have read recently and using your mathematical skills, be creative and explain e.g.

The cost of keeping a dragon as a pet,

The tuition fees of a magic school,

The money you would give to one of the characters and why,

Draw a map to scale,

Create graphs about the characters in the story. Choose at least 3 aspects of the book to use your mathematical skills.

Term 3, Competition One.

Find some facts about a treasure that has never been found but many stories have been told about it.

Present these facts in an engaging way for display in the library.

Room on our rock by Kate and Jol Temple.

I’ve never heard of a forwards backwards book! How did they do it?

A class of Kindergarten children were in awe of Room on our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple and amazed by the Temple’s ability to write a book that could be read both from the front cover and then from the back cover – and make complete sense – and tell two different stories! Amazing!!

Room on our Rock is a picture book designed to make us see one event from two different perspectives. The reader is able to see how words, when used in different tones and order can make completely different meanings.

Two seals are in need of a home because theirs is being washed away – will the seals on the nearby rock help them? It depends on your perspective of the issue and the way you read the book!

This book made sense to many young children as they know what is going on in our world – they know there are people losing their homes due to war, climate change and poverty but being small means many of them feel that they can’t do a lot.

After we read this book we talked about what we can do – and that by buying this book, our school has helped the Refugee Action Support Program.

Room on our rock is such a clever book with a strong and important message that all children will understand (and hopefully pass this knowledge onto their older family members).

Room on our Rock shows us that all people and creatures are equal and if only we change our perspective we might just see how we can view a tricky situation in a different light.

So what can you do at home?

  • Find out what your local council does for refugees in your area. Is there any way you can help or ask them to provide better help?
  • Who is the Refugee Action Support program group? FInd out more about what they do.
  • Who are climate refugees? Explore te Kiribati Islands and the plans they have in place in case of the seas continuing to rise.
  • Investigate which animals will be displaced due to rising and warming seas. Where will these animals live?
  • Can you create a link between this book and your library? Try and find other books about refugees. Could you have a fundraiser that supports refugees in your country? Or is there a need for books in good condition to be donated or sold for money?

Third Witch by Jackie French

Following on from OPHELIA, QUEEN OF DENMARK and I AM JULIET, this is the third title in the series for young people that focuses on the reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s classic and enduring plays.

 

Third Witch is a cleverly told tale of the Shakespeare play, Macbeth told from the perspective of Annie Grasseyes, a young girl who is the mistress for Lady Macbeth.

Annie is not a witch but when her lady asks her to help her husband rise to become king she weaves magic through words alongside her mother and friend, Agnes.

Third witch shows us the power of words, perspective on what happiness is and how simple actions can mean so much to another.

Macbeth is a well loved play but the language used by Shakespeare has been lost on many due to it’s complexity and use of old English. I do love Macbeth but I have never been truly in love with the language used – this story opened up my eyes to the story and also another perspective of the so called evil and superstition woven into the original play.

Young readers will love this story and I think it is one to read alongside Shakespeare. Not only will it give readers another view on the story it will also allow them to learn why Shakespeare wrote the play as he has.

Themes of friendship, true love and family run strong through this novel as does the power of a single action.

Dreams, power and beauty shine out their true value.

Third Witch by Jackie French is mesmerising and one for any literary bookshelf.

You will have to read this book to find out why it is so important that we think about what we say before we say it, as we never truly know the effect it will have on someone else.

I remember by Joanne Crawford and Kerry Anne Jordinson

Do you have a memory from many years ago that is as strong as it was the day you did that activity? 

Can you remember the smells, how you felt, what you saw or ate? 

Written by Joanne Crawford and illustrated by Kerry Anne Jordinson, I remember is a beautifully told story that highlights memories and how those that fill us with joy linger within our minds, even when our day to day memory is fading.

We meet our storyteller, an older women, briefly and are quickly transported back in time to a holiday she had as a child.

She tells us in detail her family trip to the Murchison River – the journey in the car, the setting up of the campsite and cooking of damper within hot coals.

Jordinson’s illustrations bring these memories to life so much so that we can feel the heat, smell the gum leaves and hear the night animals.

The gentleness of this story shows the reader just how important happy memories are to an ageing person and how much joy they can bring. It also shows just how important storytelling is – the sharing and listening to of stories brings people and places back to life and sheds light on how we can move forward.

About 4 years ago I visited the end of the Murchison River – near Kalbarri but only spent a day there…it was amazing and I can only imagine the beauty of spending a week or two there would bring. The red rock, the blue river and the green growth – a spectacular place.

I remember by Joanne Crawford moved me, its a book for young and old, one to be shared and perhaps one that will inspire some storytelling around your kitchen table.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Tell stories as often as you can, make them up or retell about a time once had.

– Go camping or spend some time outdoors – entice your senses!

– Find out where the Murchison River is and where you could camp.

– Why is storytelling such an important aspect of Australian Indigenous culture?

– What are memories? Do we need them and if we don’t have them how does this effect us?

– What would life be like if we didn’t have any memories?

The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner

First there wasn’t a hat.

Then….there was.

The Pink Hat written by Andrew Joyner is a simple story with an amazing message. The issues raised in this story are huge and it has done in the simplest of ways – which I love to see in a picture book.

Andrew Joyner came up with the idea of The Pink Hat after the Women’s March took place on the 21st January, 2017. This march was taken up all around the world and it gave the world a message – women’s rights are human rights too.

We loved reading this story, following the hat and seeing all the different people that cam e by the hat, wore the hat or played with it. Each illustration, done in black and white – with pink of course really added to the importance of the hat and the people it made touch with.

As soon as I finished this story I was flooded with questions about why the little girl was marching and why women and girls do not have the same rights – still – as men and boys.  If my young children didn’t see this state of human affairs as fair – why does it still happen?

We need to raise the big issues with our young children so that they can tackle these problems and make changes for the better.

Women’s rights is a huge issue and still so many women around the world do not have the rights they should.

Thank you Andrew Joyner for creating this marvellous picture book. It will be one that I will share again and again – and I know all children will love it and understand the message being sent.

Some fun activities with your students and child

 – View a youtube video of the march and look at the different signs that were made. What do they all mean? Create your own sign that you would use in this protest march.

– Learn to knit your own hat. Crafts like this are being lost because of our love affair with fast fashion. Aim to make something from locally sourced wool.

– List the verbs used to describe how the hat moved. What other action words can be attributed to a hat?

– Investigate where in the world women’s rights are being abused. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Investigate if women’s rights are being abused in your country, City or local town. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Explore other protest marches that have been held on a global scale. Could you create a book like the pink hat to teacher younger people about this issue?

Sustainability and parenting

Parenting isn’t easy and when you throw in trying to be more sustainable, things can get a little more complex – why?

Working full or part time can seem to leaves you time poor for things like baking your own bread, making your own moisturiser and riding or walking everywhere.

I have read several times on health and wellness bloggers who seem to make everything themselves that they have had burnt out. They have landed in a heap and have had to have a couple of weeks off – which makes me think, are we trying too hard to have it all when it can all be done in simple ways?

  • You don’t have to go to the markets every Saturday when you can get your fruit and vegetables delivered to your house or to a central location. This gives you your weekend back to do what you want to do. Try harvesthub.com.au

 

  • You can try to make your own skin cream but you can also buy your own from locally made, organic and fair-trade companies. Many of these companies have a small eco footprint due to the fact they produce in bulk – leaving less packaging behind. However, if you do want to make your own products aim for buying the ingredients in bulk to minimise extra waste. I’ve bought mine through Aussie soap supplies and The inspired Little Pot has some great ideas and products too.

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  • You can also make your own cleaning products – which I do on a regular basis and although the task is something I never want to do, it is something that can take me only ten minutes once the kids are asleep. I make my own dishwasher powder, washing liquid (washing machine), hand soap and different household cleaning sprays. I’ve chosen recipes that take minimal time and products that can be bought in bulk. Those ten minutes spent at home save me half an hour going to the shops for the same product!!

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  • Making food from scratch is fun – and should be something you should try to do instead of buying store bought, plastic wrapped snacks. And even better – buy your food in bulk from great places like The Source

 

Most important of all – by doing all of these things you are silently showing your children that we can all take small steps to make a difference. 

Planet of the Orb Trees by Barton Ludwig

A world that exists only to have fun without any consideration of how we can make a difference?

A world where you live day by day with the hope that destruction doesn’t come your way if you remain behind the fence?

A boy who does something about his and his planet’s future despite what others say – This is Planet of the Orb Trees by Barton Ludwig.

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Set in the future in an old amusement park, where you can have everything you want  – but this everything is just purely amusement rides and food – no trees, no flowers and really no life except for humans.

Planet of the Orb trees explores a world where people don’t seem to care about the world around them only care for themselves and their own outcomes.

Kai, the main character, is determined to reach another planet for a better life and possibly to help his own destroyed planet. In order to do this he has to leave the safety of the amusement park, cross a desert and work out different traps and puzzles.

My older child enjoyed reading this story and although there were some sections that needed clarification, it was overall enjoyed.

BUY NOW:

With large colourful pictures on each page, readers aged 7-13 will enjoy reading this science fiction picture book and possibly give themselves some time to think about how they care for the world around them.  Quirky characters abound and strange experiences occur but underneath this lively tale is a message – care for the world as if you were caring for it for others too.

So many of us just care for ourselves and out immediate fun – we act without thought and consequences. Kai’s planet is destroyed because of this and young readers will see the desolation of the planet despite the so called easy life the amusement park residents have.

Mr. Ludwig wrote “Planet of the Orb Trees” with hopes to promote ecological awareness, conservation of resources, and cohabitation and cooperation with animals.

Planet of the Orb trees has been published by Heart Lab Press and is available on Amazon.

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Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Don’t look down don’t look down don’t look down.

The air felt thin. ‘Step boldly,’ Morrigan whispered.

Then she closed her eyes. And jumped.

This is one book that you need to read. It has been described as a mixture between Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland – truly magical and mysterious.

Morrigan Crow, a cursed child who is doomed to die very soon is swept away by a ginger haired man in a spider looking contraption to Nevermoor. A place where everything is run on Wunder, nothing is what it seems and even shadows can play games with you.

Morrigan has been chosen to join the Wundrous Society – but first she must make it through four difficult trials where what you think will happen is often the complete opposite.

Along the way Morrigan makes many new friends, discovers power within herself and learns to believe in the person she is – not what others have told her she is.

Nevermoor is one of those books that will make you stay up late and keep your heart racing as Morrigan and her friend Hawthorne embark upon each trial. You will never want to leave the enchanted world of Nevermoor and the Deucalion Hotel – and you will be waiting with baited breath for the second book.

The magic of Nevermoor will weave into your bones, showing you that magic can be wherever we look and that the power within ourselves is something we need to harvest and believe in in order to make a positive difference in the world we live in.

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend – a book for adults and children – and one to read now!

Communication with your child’s school

Research has shown that communication between a parent and a school is one of the key indicators to a child’s success at school. If there is not fluid communication between the two parties then key information is not passed on and both parties can feel a lack of support and/or mis understanding.

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I was recently interviewed about my views on communication and if you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask:


 

Q:   I am having difficulty with communicating with my child’s school. Can you give me some tips on the best way to do this?

A:  Of course. Communication between parents and the school is one of the most important communication lines in the school context. It needs to remain open and welcoming throughout the child’s education so that all parties are aware of each others needs, expectations and hopes.

So what can you do to ensure the communication remains positive and helpful?

  1. Communicate early – Whenever any issue arises that you think needs to be brought to the attention on the school do it early. The sooner they know about the issue, the sooner they can help your child. We cannot expect schools to be able to read our child’s body language so by you communicating to them via a short note, they can act.
  2. Forms of communication – Written communication is a great place to start any communication, as we do not always time to go and visit the school in person. Outlining your concerns via email or a written note can get the ball rolling on any issue at hand.  If the issue is one that needs more elaboration I would highly recommend scheduling in a face to face meeting or if that is not possible over the phone or something like skype. Talking to someone about big issues face to face (in person or computer) really gets the message across in a more amicable way.  If we only write about our problems words can be misread or details missed so try to make the effort to discuss in person.
  3. Active listening: When you are communicating with the school on any particular issue that concerns you, make sure you are actively listening. Don’t just listen to the answers you want to hear. Listen to the teacher/principal without thinking about what you are going to say next. Try to understand where they are coming from so you can respond according to their response.
  4. Read the newsletter. Every school would publish a newsletter at least weekly or fortnightly. Take the time to sit down and read it. Ask your children questions about items that come up in the newsletter and show an interest in what is going on. By knowing what the school is telling you, you are in a more informed position.
  5. Trust the class teacher. If you have any concerns please talk to your child’s class teacher/preferred subject teacher or year coordinator first. They see your child the most often and know your child. Taking an issue straight to the principal is not always helpful (unless it is one that cannot be spoken to with the teacher) and can make the classroom teacher  feel like you do not trust them if it is an issue that could have been dealt with by them.

(If you feel you need the principal’s support because it is a bigger issue or one the teacher has not dealt with after bringing it to his or her attention then organise a three way interview.)

  1. Join in with school life. Try to be involved in at least one school activity. This will allow you to mix in with other parents, talk to the teachers in a more social way and see how the school runs in a different context than just the learning classroom environment.

 I hope those 6 tips are helpful in you becoming a better communicator in you child’s school. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any further assistance!