International Mud Day

Today is International Mud Day.

Is this your worst nightmare or a wonderful idea of fun?

International Mud day began in 2009 at a World Forum when Gillian McAuliffe from Australia and Bishnu Bhatta from Nepal got together to talk about ways to encourage feelings of community and appreciation for the world around us. They discussed the challenges children face when playing together in the mud. On the plane returning from the Forum, McAuliffe contemplated the obstacles that stand between many children and their ability to enjoy the simple, natural act of playing in mud. Challenges such as cultural preferences for cleanliness, lack of access to “disposable” clothing that can be dirtied and proper cleaning supplies, or dry, sandy geography not conducive to muddy conditions. So this is where Mud day grew from the idea that we should all be able to get down and dirty and have fun in mud, no matter where we live in the world.

SO —

The one thing you need to do on International Mud Day is: GET DIRTY!

It doesn’t have to be mud; it could be also be dirt or sand but just one way we can get down and play with the simpler things in life.

So what can you do on this day of mud?

 – Find some mud and stomp in it!

– Find some sand and build castles in it!

– Use your imagination and build something with your hands out of natural material.

Read some books about mud

Read some books about nature play such as:

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Nganga by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson

Nganga is an authoritative and concise collection of words and phrases related to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and issues. The word Nganga (ng gar na) means to understand, to see.

In Australia we come across many indigenous words in our daily lives – but do we know the true meaning or origin?

Nganga is an excellent compendium for readers to be able to engage and explore indigenous words.

On each page a new word is presented and the reader is able to learn about the history of how the word became ‘European’, where in Australia the word came from or from which country in Australia it belongs to.

Written by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson, Nganga allows all people – young and old to have easy to understand access to the Aboriginal language.

The culture of Aboriginal Australia is not only one of the oldest cultures but is unique and vibrant. This book provides insight into how to pronounce the different words, the respect needed around certain parts of Aboriginal culture and the way we can all learn, grow and love the country we live in.

Nganga would be a great book for many schools as it is easily accessible from early reading ability and aligns strongly with the National curriculum.

Cicada by Shaun Tan

Another brilliant book by Shaun Tan – Cicada is a book with subtext for both older children and adults but with illustrations that young children will enjoy too.

Cicada is a story about a cicada who works in a dreary office building, performing the same task day in, day out with no recognition or appreciation of the effort he puts in.

Cicada is treated poorly, ignored by colleagues and constantly calls out ‘Tok, Tok, Tok”, which could represent the noise of a keyboard, the clicking of a clock, the noise cicadas make or perhaps even the monotone thoughts of the office workers. Whatever you take it to mean, it shows the bland existence of humans and this cicada.

But all this changes on Cicada’s last day of work, where instead of having a farewell party or a thank you handshake he simply packs up his desk and ascends the stairs.

The stairs to say farewell to this greyscale existence.

The stairs to something much more wonderful, so much so that the cicada wonders why the humans haven’t worked it out yet.

I won’t spoil it here – you’ll have to read it yourself!

So what else can you do with this book at home and at school?

Younger readers.

Younger readers may not see the subtext of this book but other issues can be explored such as:

– Explore the life cycle of a cicada and the time the spent underground compared to the time above.

– Think about what you would do if you had to live in a world without colour, creativity or fun. How would you feel?

– What does ‘Tok, Tok, Tok” mean to you? What sound would you make if you worked in a world like this?

Why do the humans think he is worse than them? Why do they ignore him or make him go to the toilet out of the building (this can be linked to some women’s prejudice issues of the past).

Why do you think the cicada never left his job?

– What is the importance of getting out into the world around us and exploring more than just making money?

– Why do we need nature? Why do we need to explore?

– Is money really that important? (Big idea – take time to discuss this)

And here are some more in depth ideas if you wish to study this book for older readers:

Notes from Hachette, click here.  

Join my facebook group – growing globally and socially conscious children to swap ideas to help young children tackle the big issues!

Girl on Wire by Lucy Estela and Elise Hurst

A girl stands before a wire, anxious about walking across the tightrope that is so far above the ground.

The wind whips her cheeks and the thunder clouds growl – but she knows she needs to walk it.

Courage, confidence and self belief are strong themes throughout this picture book – but they all come with something else – support from those around you.

We can all have confidence, courage and belief in ourselves but none of this will continue to reign if others around us do not support us.

The young girl in this story is experiencing something that many young children will go through at any time of their life – anxiety, self doubt and loss of confidence. The wire represents the hard times, times when we have to try something new or events that make us uncomfortable. But, with the support of those we love, out toes can curl around the wire a little bit tighter, we can stand a little bit taller and we can walk a little bit more confidently.

Girl on a Wire is a simple yet inspiring story.

Accompanied by the painted illustrations of Elise Hurst, with colours that represent the girls thoughts, we can not only read how the girl is feeling, we can also see how she is feeling.

Girl on a Wire is a an excellent story to start conversations about self confidence and the power of believing in yourself . It is also a story to encourage the awareness that we can allow those who you trust to help support you too – we don’t need to do it all alone.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Explore with your child people who they trust to help them when they need support.

– Explore times we they have asked for support – did it help?

– Explore times when they didn’t ask for support – what happened, could you still do this big task? Could support have helped you?

ACTIVITY: Draw a wire between two buildings and at one end write something that you really want to be able to do. Along the wire write down the people who need to be there to support you and the things you need to do in order to achieve this goal.

– What do you think the feathers represent? What is a symbol for you to help you get through the tough times?

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World Refugee Day

Today is world refugee day

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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.

We need to help educate our children so that they can become change makers in our world.

Refugees in our world

We need to empower them to write letters to the government. We need to show them that refugees are good people who can add depth to our society. We need them to know that countries who are in a good place should be looking out for them.

There are many ways you can help children to understand more about refugees.

Download a great unit of work you can do at home or in the classroom

https://www.dropbox.com/s/anfyoef9kldf9lr/Exploring%20Refugees%20in%20our%20world.docx?dl=0 

And check these books out too:

Books that link to refugees

The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

When you get home, tell them how large the world is, and how green. And tell them that the beauty of the world makes demands on you. They will need reminding.

Although I found this book slow to start, once it did start it was amazing. So many different themes shine through this book – friendship, courage, environmental stewardship, adventure, kindness, creativity, problem solving, teamwork and independence.

Four young children – Fred, Con, Lila and Max – are aboard a tiny plane flying over the Amazon Rainforest when it crashes – leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere and without an adult to help guide them.

Using their own basic knowledge they start to look after each other in an environment that is completely foreign to them.

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The Explorer

Eating new food, sleeping outdoors, observing animal behaviour and hunting for meals are all a part of survival in this green and lush rainforest.

But it is only by chance that Fred discouvers a map and with his own knowledge of past explorers convinces the group that they need to follow the river to get back home.

The children discover much more than they thought they would and learn so much more about themselves that they ever knew. I can’t give anymore away – you’ll have to read it to find out.

Young children will want to go out and explore after reading this book and hopefully realise how important it is to explore places but not destroy them. Many beautiful places on this earth have been destroyed by humans because we all want to see it.

Perhaps we can still see these amazing places but we need to see them for what they are – not what we want them to be.

If you take anything away from this book it should be the idea of conservation. Conservation of indigenous tribes and their language and culture, conservation of plants in their natural habitat and conservation of all types of animals.

Without conservation there will be nothing left on earth to explore and without anything to explore the human spirit dies.

Let’s keep our planet for what it is – think about what you can do to ensure it is conserved in the natural state it once was.

‘You don’t have to be in the jungle to be an explorer,’ he said. ‘ Every human on this earth is an explorer. Exploring is nothing more than paying attention….that’s what the world asks of you. If you pay ferocious attention to the world, you will be as safe as it is possible to be. ‘

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Let them explore

It is in every person’s nature to be an explorer. And to be a real explorer you need to visit unknown places with an open mind and an open heart.

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Exploring doesn’t necessarily mean jumping on a plane and going to another country. Exploring can simply mean jumping into someone else’s shoes for a moment or two and finding out what the world looks like from another perspective.

 

Your library is a doorway to exploring.

 

In our library we can find so many different characters, places and times that will allow us to explore who we are and who other people can be.

 

Your child might be exploring what life was like over 100 years ago or perhaps what life on earth would be like if we all became zombies. Perhaps they are jumping into the shoes of a holocaust survivor or a future astronaut.

 

When your child brings home a book from the library ask them what it is about, find out how their perspective might be changing because of this book and what other books they could jump into to open up their world just a little bit more.

 

Stories make us Honest

 

The theme for stories this month, as written by Australian Children’s Laureate – Morris Gleitzman, is ‘Just admit it: Stories make us honest’

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Many stories that we read have an element of truth to them and perhaps ask us to question our own actions too. Here are some prompts to help you think a little bit more about the truth:

  • What is the truth? Can it be different in different settings? with different characters and different times?
  • Do people really like finding out the truth?
  • Should characters always seek to find the truth?
  • Can truth be hurtful or wonderful? Or both?
  • Can you think of some stories where the character had to find out more truths about themselves before they could move on?
  • Have you ever told yourself a story to help you learn or cope about the truth?

Explore the truth through some of these books:

Out by Angela May George

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Room on our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

Feathers by Phil Cummings

Children in our world: Refugees and Migrants

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Continue reading

Bird to Bird by Claire Saxby and Wayne Harris.

A bird drops a seed to the floor of the forest. The seed grows into a sapling, then a tree. The tree is felled and taken to a busy city.

Bird to Bird is a beautfully told story about the life cycle of a tree in it’s natural state and then man made state.

Not only will children learn about how trees can grow they will also see the many uses timber can have.

Children will learn about the history of Australian settlement by the English through the tree and how out lifestyle is supported by this amazing part of nature.

Based on fact, Bird to Bird tells us how trees felled in England were used to make beds for the convicts being transported to Australia.

It also tells us that something that may not be of used anymore can often be used in a different way and given more life.

Children will see the timber being used for beds, weaving looms, a house and then a sculpture.

Imagine if all the objects we had in our lives had such a story to tell? Imagine if we could all be more creative with the things we don’t need anymore and turn them into something else to stretch out it’s lifespan.

Bird to Bird is an excellent story to use at home but it also makes fantastic links to so many subject areas across all grades at school.

Australian history, life cycles, sustainability and transport are all covered within this gently told story and you will find that this book is not one to be read quickly, but one to be read slowly with lots of discussion.

So what else can you do with this book?

Sustainability

  • Is there anything you have that has had another use before the one it is used for now?
  • Is there something broken in your house that could be fixed or used in a different way before you throw it in the bin?
  • Check out your local repair cafe or upcycle place.
  • Explore what you can do with broken pencils, crayons or other school items before they end up in the bin.
  • Explore where our rubbish goes after we have placed it in the bin. Which rubbish will turn back to dirt and which rubbish will stay for longer?
  • Explore natural fibres and the importance of using these over plastic.
  • Explore how logging can be done sustainably and investigate places where this may not be happening.

Check out these great teacher notes:http://www.lamontbooks.com.au/media/116024/publishers-notes-bird-to-bird.pdf

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 Bird to Bird

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Books from 2017 that encourage you to be kinder the people of the world

There were so many lovely books that I came across this year that encourage young readers not only to think about those around them in their own community but also those who live on the other side of the world.

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Being a part of a community is so important and knowing how to look out for others in our community is something that we all need to do.

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Being kind to others whether they be our next door neighbours, residents in our suburb or children we hear about in the news is something we should all encourage our children to think about. It should be something we as adults should think about too.

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Once we think about others we can reflect on our own actions and perhaps make more sensible choices in what we buy, what we do and what we say. Every little thing we do will impact someone in someway and taking a leaf out of one of these books might just change an action you are going to take today.

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Feather by Phil Cummings

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Say Yes: A story of friendship and hope

Children in our world: Refugees and Migrants

Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo

I’m Australian too by Mem Fox

The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon

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Jane Doe and The Cradle of all Worlds by Jeremy Lachlan

Wow – Every time I picked up this book I knew that my heart would be racing, I’d be skipping words and I’d be turning the page before I had even finished reading it.

It’s just one of those books that you shouldn’t read before bed if you need to relax!

Jane Doe and The Cradle of all Worlds is a cross between some of my favourite stories: Narnia, Indiana Jones, Nevermoor and Pan’s labyrinth.

It’s fast paced and action packed but the characters are so enchanting that it is not only the adventure you will want to read about, you’ll also want to get to know these character’s so much better.

The protagonist – Jane Doe is a young teenager who hates the town she lives in as the people have blamed her for anything bad that has happened for as long as she can remember.

Jane’s luck changes (well she might not see it that way!) when the largest earthquake to hit the town starts and her father, who has been bed bound and speechless since she was little opens the door to the mysterious manor and leaves without saying a word.

The manor is filled with rooms that change, rooms filled with traps and rooms that may haunt you forever. But all Jane knows is that she needs to save her father and bring him home – the only problem is that the doorway to home has been sealed and it is only through the help of an interesting character name Hickory and a mysterious girl that she may someday find her father and make it out of the manor – alive (and sane)

Jane is a character that all young readers will love, she speaks their language, thinks what they would be thinking but also shows courage and determination is the most difficult times. She will give those readers who aren’t into the bigger and longer fiction stories a reason to keep turning the pages with her sarcastic remarks and interesting thought bubbles.

Jane Doe and the Cradle of all worlds is only the first book in this series and it is one that readers will be waiting for!

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The Cradle of All Worlds: The Jane Doe Chronicles

GO ON AN ADVENTURE – ECO STYLE!

 

A science storybook about forces: Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Richard Jones

Are you finding the concept of pushing and pulling a little tricky to teach or understand?

This science storybook about forces is a wonderful way to look at simple forces and how they occur in the real world.

The concept of forces is explored through the lovely ‘Bird’ who uses pushing and pulling in many different ways throughout her day. She pulls a worm out of the ground for breakfast, pushes twigs around for her nest and uses strength to push, pull and carry things to and from her nest.

Richard Jones’ illustrations are delightful and reflect the changing light of the birds day.

The story is told in a matter – of -fact way but children will love seeing the bird build her nest, explore the woods and lay her own eggs. And becuase this story is so easy to understand, the concept of pushing and pulling will be too.

A science storybook about forces: Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Richard Jones is an excellent book to have in any early science classroom as it makes science real and will help you to get outside and start to look at all the different forces coming into play in our world every moment of the day!

There are some simple activities in the final pages of this book alongside an index and bibliography which will help to continue the conversation about forces after the story has been read.

Can you do anything else with this book?

Visual arts

  • Explore how the artist has drawn movement. Explore different ways to show something is moving.
  • Explore the different colour of the sky throughout the day and how you can replicate that in your draawings.

Literacy

  • Explore the verbs used in this story and which ones relate to forces.

Science

  • Go outside and find other things that use this force.

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Bird Builds a Nest: A Science Storybook about Forces (Science Storybooks)

AND THINK ABOUT HOW THE RUBBISH YOU LEAVE BEHIND IMPACTS THE NATURAL WORLD – BUY FROM BIOME TO MAKE LESS OF AN IMPACT!

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The perfect Leaf by Andrew Plant

But the leaves were so beautiful they had to be shown, they had to be shared.

 

Have you ever wondered at the colours of the autumn leaves? HAve you ever looked so closely to see the different colours of each individual leaf?

 

The Perfect Leaf by Andrew Plant will help you to see the wonder that is nature.

 

Each leaf that falls to the ground during autumn is so different – whether it be in colour, shapes or texture. Whether is is damaged, unmarked or broken – each leaf tells a different story.

 

In The Perfect Leaf, two girls meet and play. They search for the most perfect leaf of gold, red and crimson. They dive deep, throw leaves into the air and swim around in search of the most perfect leaf there could ever be.

 

But soon they discover that nothing is perfect and that everything can be beautiful – we just have to look at it in the right way.

 

The Perfect Leaf explores not only the beauty of nature but also friendship and love. It explores the idea that nothing in this world is perfect and everything has flaws – but these flaws don’t have to be a negative thing, they can be something that makes an object or a person even better.

 

The Perfect Leaf is a lovely book to share as the seasons change and we start to crunch through the leaves on the ground. It is one that will help you to discuss why we shouldn’t strive for perfection but instead strive for what makes us truly happy.

 

So what else can you do with this book?

 

SCIENCE

  • Explore the changes in leaves over the seasons.
  • Explore different shapes of leaves around your home and learning areas.
  • Get outside during those cold winter months and find beauty despite the lack of colour and warmth. See what grows in winter and ponder why.
  • Explore symmetry through leaves

 

LITERACY

  • Explore the adjectives used throughout the book to describe leaves. Write your own description of a leaf.  

 

THINKING

  • What is perfection?
  • Can something be perfect?

Teacher notes: http://fordstreetpublishing.com/ford/images/stories/teachers_notes/The-Perfect-Leaf-Teachers-Notes.pdf

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Books to read on World Environment Day

So today is World Environment day and the theme is ‘Choose to Refuse’.

What can you Choose to refuse?

 – Plastic bags?

 – Single use coffee cup?

 – A plastic straw?

 – Some plastic cutlery?

 – Throwaway plates at a celebration?

 – Single use napkins?

And which books can inspire you to make sure you don’t add more rubbish to the world we live in?

 A bag and a bird

Seagull

Ten rubber ducks

My Green Day

The Lorax

Out of the Blue

The tomorrow Book

Squishy Taylor and the Tunnel of Doom

 

 

 

Check out this great resource too: http://worldenvironmentday.global/en/get-involved/toolkits#brand-toolkit

Zobi and the Zoox: A story of coral Bleaching by Ailsa Wild, Aviva Reed, Briony Barr and Gregory Crocetti

This is a story about coral bleaching, told by the tiniest creatures on the reef. 

Have you ever read a picture book where the setting is on a coral polyp? This was a first for me, and perhaps you too, but it is an excellent way to grab the readers attention to realise just how much can go on in the smallest of places.

As we start to read we meet a polyp called Darian. Darian lives in the Great Barrier Reef and devastatingly for Darian, the ocean isn’t cooling down.

Through detailed illustrations and carefully worded story, we learn about the bacteria called Zobi (and her family) that live inside the polyps gut and the important role they play in looking after Darian when the oceans get far too hot.

We meet many other organisms who make up the polyp and see the distressing time they are having as they have to cope with oceans that are too warm.

We see team work, creative thinking and problem solving as they work hard together to save their own little world from destruction.

Zobi and the Zoox is not only a story it is also a science book. Adults and children will learn so much about coral as they read this story and every illustration adds even more information.

Once the story has finished, there is a section called ‘The science behind the story’. In this section extra information and diagrams are provided for those who wish to learn about the facts touched on in the story in more detail. Illustrations, labelled diagrams, photographs and scientific information cover the last 16 pages and help to explain any information that needs to be looked at in more detail.

Zobi and the Zoox is an excellent book to use to teach children (and their adults) just how important the coral reef is to ocean health. It is also important to make people aware that everything, even if it is so tiny that we cannot see it with the naked eye, plays a super important role in the world we live in.

So what else can you do with this book?

Sustainability

  • How has this booked changed the way you think about the world you live in? What is one thing you can do differently to stop global warming?
  • If coral bleaching continues to happen, how will the tourism ad for Queensland change? Look at the latest advertisement and see how this would be modified – what would be taken away or added? Create a new one.

Science

  • How is a coral polyp like a city?
  • What parts of a coral polyp are like our bodies?

Teacher notes from CSRIO

Cloud conductor by Kellie Byrnes

Frankie loves sitting by her window and looking at the clouds. She loves to listen to the melodies they create, compose tunes and conduct ideas.

But being able to see the shapes the clouds make in the sky is a gift she loves to share with others.

As we progress through the story we start to see that Frankie is unwell and needs to spend many days in hospital.  But with her imagination, these days become much more amazing than they really are. Frankie sees a courageous cowgirl, children playing at the beach and a young girl riding a bicycle – all symbols of hope that one day she won’t need to be inside getting better, but outside amongst the joy of life.

The cloud conductor not only allows readers to see what life can be like for children who are in hospital for long lengths of time but also the importance of imagination and how imagination can brighten the darkest of dark days.

Positive thinking and hope shine through in this story and the important gifts we can give to others when they are feeling down – hope, joyful thoughts and imagination.

You will love reading this story to all young children and it might inspire some time to lie out in the sun and stare up at those clouds!

So what else can you do with this book?

Link to how you can help

  • Learn about children’s hospitals that exist near you. Is there anyway you can help brighten the lives of the children who have to spend a lot of time in here?
  • The picture book – The Silver Sea – was written in conjunction with children who were staying at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Imagination

  • What can you see in the clouds? Lie down for at least 5 minutes and talk about all of the different things you can see.
  • What can you hear when you see clouds?
  • Imagine the different types of music clouds would play – draw the different types of clouds and describe the types of music you hear when you see them.
  • Find some music that makes you think of breezy days, stormy days and still days.

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cloudconductor