Freedom machines by Kirli Saunders

She was small when she heard about them…the incredible freedom machines.

 

The incredible freedom machines is a beautifully written picture book that takes us on a journey of exploration, creativity and adventure into the unknown.

The machines this young girl seeks out are hard to come by but with perseverance and patience she finds one that is just right for her.

Once found she can escape the reality of the dreary life she lives behind fences and boundaries and seek places that smell delicious, taste like happiness and feel like home.

The incredible Freedom machines focuses in on the importance of imagination and the ability to find places to escape to when reality isn’t what we want it to be.

When I read this to the classes at school we found that the issues of children in refugee camps was something that came through in the illustrations by Matt Ottley — knowing that many of them would have to use their imagination every day so that life inside these camps would not get them down.

We loved the richness of the illustrations as the main character escapes her home and explores the big wide world.

The incredible freedom machines is a book to be read over and over, enjoying not only the flow of the story but also the deeper meanings within.

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Sydney Party supplies

Do you love balloons?

Check out these ones: 5ea99ad0c8837b0787ca4e81f5ef5660--animal-balloons-balloon-animals

Or perhaps this type:images-14

Or do you prefer these?images-15

Whichever ones you choose, you’ll know your party will be a hit.

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They are colourful, they can be made into different shapes and they can come in all different sizes.

But now we need to change our tune.

Balloons are made of plastic that takes thousands of years to break down and many of these balloons end up in the ocean and then in the stomachs of sea life – eventually killing them.

We can live without balloons – we just need to know that they are replaceable and the replacements are just as good.

What do you think we can use instead of balloons?

Thanks for the inspiration – Humane Education

The Ocean Emporium by Susie Brooks and Dawn Cooper

An emporium is a place where you can view a large variety of things.

So the title ocean emporium is the perfect title to open children’s eyes to the abundance of amazing creatures that live within.

With 24 different categories, each double page spread allows the reader to learn about the different animals that swim in our abundant waters. With stunning illustrations not only will the reader read the facts, they will also see the creature in all of its glory.

We were amazed as we  learnt about 8 different jellyfish and the way they all move, help each other and protect themselves.

Dolphins leapt off the page at us and we were very impressed with the pink colours of the Chinese White Dolphin.

Even coral had a mention – the truly amazing living thing that it is, and we learnt about  the different latin names they have and ways that they grow.

The Ocean Emporium  by Susie Brooks and Dawn Cooper is a book to allow children to leap into non-fiction and really whet their appetite for deeper knowledge.

The illustrations are full of colour and there is just enough information for young readers to enjoy without being overwhelmed.

The Ocean Emporium is a wonderful journey to embark upon as you’ll discover secrets, learn new information and most importantly realise how important it is to take care of the world around us.

So what else can you do with this book?

Visit:

Visit your local waterway and discover what swims beneath the surface.

Go to local museums, aquariums and science spaces to learn more.

Act:

Buy less fish – the less we buy, the smaller the demand and the less sea creatures getting caught in nets unnecessarily

Ask: 

  • Choose a creature or a group of creatures and learn more about them.
  • Find out which of these animals live in the oceans near you.
  • Are any of these animals endangered? What can we do to help them?
  • Can you create an insect emporium? Monotreme? Mammal? Marsupial? Sky emporium?

Wisp by Zana Fraillon

One day, a Wisp flew in on the evening wind. Dust rose up in swarms around it, feet trampled it into the dirt, nobody noticed it.

Nobody, except Idris.

Zana Fraillon , author of the Bone Sparrow and The ones that disappeared –  has again touched upon such an important topic that needs more action – the people who have to live in refugee camps for long periods of time.

So many people flee their home countries every day in our world and most of these people end up in Refugee camps because they have left  everything they own behind them.

However, The story of wisp focuses on hope- hope that one day there will be more to life than just wire fences, tents and desolation.

A small boy by the name of Idris sits alone one day only to notice a small wisp floating around the camp, resting on those it passes by.

With each touch, the Wisp brings magic. With each touch, the wisp brings memories.

Memories get passed around on the wisp as adults and older children remember the wonderful things that had happened to them – before they became refugees and  lived in the camp.

But when Idris, the main character of the story holds the wisp close, nothing happens, as all he knows is life in the camp.

But Idris sees past this and  realises that the wisp for him can be a promise – a promise of life beyond the fence, a life full of excitement, adventure and love.

Wisp allows the reader to see that there is hope and with continued pressure on the government to help there people, someday they will all be able to make wonderful memories again.

So what else can you do? 

Join my facebook group where we talk about ways we can inform children and the wider community about the big issues facing us today:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/sociallyconsciouschildren/about/

Teacher notes: https://www.hachette.com.au/content/resources/9780734418043-teachers-resources.pdf

Visit: http://refugeecampauburn.com.au and book a time to visit what a refugee camp looks like.

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Act: Join groups that send books and packages to children in dentention: https://befriendachildindetention.wordpress.com

Even something as small as a letter can bring hope to a child in detention. 

Ask:

  • How can we give children in detention hope?
  • Explore other books about refugees – do these all give hope?
  • Draw your own wisp and draw what would be inside of it if you had to live in a refugee camp.

Song Bird: Rainforest Rescue

Teach, Restore, Encourage, Establish, Support

These wise words come not only from our superhero – Songbird, but her friends and teachers who learn that looking after the world – especially rainforests, is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the future is much brighter.

ktyrrell-songbird-rainforest-cover-ebook-catalogue

SongBird: Rainforest rescue is the third book in the Song Bird series, written by Karen Tyrell (with guest posts by Steve Tyrell in chapters 2 and 10).

Song bird has had some great adventures so far and even though we thought that Destructo was gone, we discover in the early chapters that he is back, and ready to destroy a rainforest.

This time Songbird and her friends are on a camp in the Gondwana Rainforest and it is a race against time if they are to save this world heritage listed rainforest from Destructo.

With magic interwoven within the rainforest and it’s amazing Beech trees, Song Bird travels back in time to ancient Australia where dinosaurs roamed and mythical snakes slither.  They are chased by Bunyips and Yowie’s and haunted by Destructo’s evil plans. They travel through different eras helping animals and meeting indigenous Australians – who teach them about the importance of nature and living in harmony with the natural world.

Friendship, belief in oneself and a love for the natural world are all strong themes throughout this story – some of the best themes for young children to read about.

Friendship helps us to do things we might otherwise never do.

Believing in ourselves is what keeps us going, is what helps us to rise up when life challenges us and spurs us on to do what we think is right.

Song Bird is a great role model to look up to, and even though she has superpowers, the strength to take on those who are doing wrong is something that we all can do – especially with like minded support around us.

We loved reading the third installment of Song Bird and loved learning more about the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia – perhaps inspiring a visit to a few more of them in the next holiday!

Barry Watson & Karen Tyrrell

So what else can you do?

Explore:

Find out where the Gondwana rainforests of Australia are.

Are there any threats to these rainforests?

What is the meaning of friendship?

What was Australia like during the era of the dinosaurs? What was Australia like when the Indigenous people were free to live on the land before the British colonists came?

Think:

What do the words Teach, Restore, Encourage, Establish, Support mean to you? How can you do all of these things in your life and your community?

Act:

What is something you can save or change in your community? Can you stop the use of balloons? straws? plastic waste at school? Remember, you have the qualities of Song Bird and her friends – you can do it!

Music:

Find out more about the different songs Song Bird sings throughout the novel – what do you think of all of these and do they have anything in common?

For the wild – links to great books and actions.

Without oceans in pristine condition, life as we know it will not be one any more…

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A recent mapping exercise has outlined that only 13% of the world’s oceans are in true pristine condition.

This means that only 13% can sufficiently support wildlife in all it’s forms – free of stressors such as plastics, shipping, overfishing, chemical pollution, run off, human activity and many more ways we change the world.

We need to take action now and you can take action in some very easy steps.

For the wild ocean

And check out these books to start some great conversations about water and the wonders it holds – so we don’t lose it!

If shark’s disappeared

The Coral Kingdom

Zobi and the Zoox 

Ori’s clean up

Tilly’ reef adventure

 

Love chocolate? Read on

I am sure that most of the population love a piece of chocolate here or there but do we ever think about where it comes from?

hot-chocolate-1006463_960_720

A recent article discusses some major chocolate companies and their bid to decrease deforestation and child labour in key areas where cocoa is grown.

A lesson in the classroom or at home that involves chocolate is always a fun lesson

So how about:

For the love of chocolate (and humanity)-3

The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse

A young girl, a father and a dog – together yet alone since her mother passed away.

The house was a mess, the little girl Maya felt lonely and often sad and anxious.

But on one particularly sad day, her father tells her about the garden and how much it meant to her mother – especially when she was worried about something.

So grabbing gloves and boots Maya takes on the garden overgrown with weeds.

Maya tidies the garden and freshens the soil and we see by her face that she is relaxed and happier, doing something she knew her mother loved too.

Seeds are sown and hope is planted – then finally they grow.

Maya cared for the garden as much as she could, spending more time out there when she felt angry or upset and helping her father to spend time out there too.

Together they made the garden beautiful again and together they found hope – that despite all the darkness that they were feeling there was beauty in the world and because of the hope they had sowed – it had become even more beautiful!

The Garden of Hope is a story to read with anyone who has lost someone as it  provides hope.

Together you can see that life can be beautiful despite all the darkness and that if we continue to do things that make us feel joy, place more beauty back in the world and support each other, life can be the joyous place that it is meant to be.

Death can be a difficult topic to talk about and books are a great way to start this conversation. You may not talk about much more than the story but it may ignite that small flame inside the young children to know that life can go on.

Keep this book to share with someone you know needs some hope in their lives.

Where in the Wild by Jonny Lambert

“The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will” – Theodore Roosevelt.

Where in the Wild by Jonny Lambert is an engaging picture book which shows the reader the beauty of different habitats and the animals that live within each one.

On each double page spread we learn about the plants that make the space habitable for the diverse group of animals who choose to make it there home – but there is a great aspect to each page which young children will love.

On each page is a window to another page which shows how some animals can live in two different types of habitats – even when they are quite different – we loved guessing where they might lived the first time we read the book and enjoyed talking about how they can live in both habitats on subsequent occasions.

On each page are colourful pictures of the animals, plants and insects interacting accompanied by rhyming story and also some small facts about different types of animals.

Where in the Wild by Jonny Lambert is a great book to raise awareness about how animals need special places to survive and it is up to us to ensure there are more of these areas – not less.

So what else can you do with this book?

SUSTAINABILITY

In your local area is there habitat for different animals? Find out who lives here and how they live in this environment.

Can you make your local green spaces better places to live for local animals? Try planting more trees and having less grass or built up space.

GLOBAL ISSUES

Where in the world do large rates of deforestation occur and why? (Geography Link, Numeracy Link)

Explore why people chop down large areas of trees and which country is most responsible  – is it the country where the trees are or countries that buy the products or two own the land?

ANIMAL CONSERVATION

Explore the life cycle of different animals and why they need certain habitats as they change and grow. (Science link)

Which animals in the world can only survive in certain areas?

How many different types of animals are on each page? Explore a favourite of yours and the area they live in.

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

How to Bee by Bren Mac Dibble.


Have you ever wondered about what life would look like if there were only a small amount of bees left in the world?

This is a very real problem and one book that made me shudder with the possibility of being real.

Meet tough, smart and vibrant Peony, an ten year old farm girl who works in the Goulburn Valley of NSW, Australia. Peony works hard on the farm, manually removing bugs from crops as pesticides have been banned – however becoming a Bee is what she dreams of. Being a Bee is one of the most important roles in this futuristic society as the young and nimble need to do the job the bees once did – pollinating flowers.

Peony lives with her grandfather and sister but the community around them and the bond they all have is amazing and something to aspire due despite the poverty they live in. Peony’s mother wants more than farm life and takes Peony off to the city to earn real money. Despite her utter dislike for city life, huge disparity being rich and poor and still the utter disregard for the hard work of farmers, Peony learns about the importance of friendship, family and kind acts.

How to Bee brought a tear to my eye and although it may seem like a bleak outlook from the start it shows how strong the human spirit is and the need we all have to belong and live in harmony.

Perhaps if the big supermarkets and chemical companies read this story they would start to change how they see the world and start to think more about the impact we are having on the future.

There are some areas of the world where this form of pollination is already happening today – I’m not sure if we want this to spread to all areas of the world. http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/humans-bees-china_us_570404b3e4b083f5c6092ba9?section=australia

So what can you do?

Bee and Me

The Book of Bees

Bee

Oxfam Shop

Along came a different by Tom McLaughlin

Children and adults alike will be inspired by this picture book that shows us that even if we look different, act different or like different things – we can all be friends!

Along came a different by Tom McLaughlin is a story about shapes – reds that love being red, yellows that love being yellow and blues that love being blue but the problem is they love being themselves so much that they can’t seem to like each other – that is until some very different shapes come along and make the reds, blues and yellows realise just how silly they are acting!

This is a great book to look at the importance of accepting all different people who live in our society and that in the end we are all very different – which is great!

Children can also explore different shapes both regular and irregular, colours of different objects and the beauty we see when colours get all mixed together.

Try this book to ignite some great conversations amongst both adults and children in a time when we really need to foster acceptance in the multicultural societies we all live in today.

Peg and Cat by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson

Eid al-Adha is something unfamiliar to my children so this book was a perfect way to introduce them to this very special time of year.

With mathematics, singing and celebrating, this picture book opens up minds to learning and fun!

We learnt that meat needs to be divided into three equal parts, we need to share with those less fortunate and eat delicious food with our family and friends.

If you love maths but are also looking for another way to learn about the world you live in – this book is fantastic!

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

How do you wrap your sandwich

 

I’ve always been intrigued by the amount of people that tell me they can’t stop using cling wrap because they can’t afford to buy reusable containers.

So I decided to do a little research of my own and here you are – some reasons why you should ditch the cling wrap and plastic zip lock bags and move towards reusable containers, beeswax wraps and paper bags!

You can’t cite the cost when they are nearly all the same!!

How much is your sandwich wrap costing you?-3

Around the world in 50 ways.

If you had a round the world ticket where would you go?  

This great new book by Lonely planet allows children to participate in a choose your own adventure style travel book – what fun!

As you arrive at each destination you learn something new and get to decide how you will travel – which allows you to move to a new country depending on the mode you choose.

The information is short and simple so kids will learn just enough before moving on and the way you travel to the next city teaches children about distances between places.

Travel is important but it is more important to understand the places you are travelling to and in – we shouldn’t expect places we visit to be like our own cities.

By introducing children to facts and figures about new places that are different to our own it can show them how wonderful travelling can be – as they will learn about a new culture, be part of the lifestyle and absorb language and mannerisms.

Round the world in 50 ways is such a fun way to teach geography and can be read again and again!

Want to know how to be a globally conscious traveller? Check out this post:

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

Travelling with conscious.

Being a globally conscious child means travelling with conscious.

off-the-beaten-path-travel-mexico

When you travel :

  • Go to the local eateries
  • Learn the language
  • Talk to the locals
  • Find places off the beaten track
  • Stay with locals rather than a hotel or resort.
  • Spend money on local food, drinks and items at the markets or local shops rather than the big hotels.
  • Make friends, take photos and tell others all about it – because even though travelling is fun, we need to travel more consciously so we can continue to travel to different places and be amazed!

My most memorable holidays are of places where I could speak to the local people, when I found places not on the tourist trail and when I learnt more about the place I visited than I ever would have just jumping on a tourist bus.

We need to show our children how to be globally conscious travellers – how about saying no to that resort or hotel holiday and trying something a little different next time? Even if it is only for a couple of nights as you will see that place in a whole new light!

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

 

My Brigadista year by Katherine Paterson

What were you doing when you were 13 years old?

Did you ever consider leaving your family for a year to go to a village in another part of your country to teach some others how to read and write?

The courageous character in this story, My Brigadista year by Katherine Paterson, does just that.

Set in Cuba during 1961, the country has been fighting to become independent under Fidel Castro. And although there were many terrible things he did do throughout his rule (and the author does make this clear at points throughout the novel and at the end) he had a goal to make all people in his country literate.

Seen through the eyes of 13year old Lora, we learn about Cuba and the mission she takes part in.

I enjoyed reading about how she met the families, taught them how to read and write in the evening while helping out with the farm during the day. We see the world through her new eyes and feel the passion she has to want to help these people.

As a teacher I could feel this passion as I once travelled to Costa Rica to help in remote communities with work around the towns and also with English.

Lora’s story is possibly one which has not been told in this way before and I believe it is one for anyone studying the history of dictatorships, history of war and the effects it has on the people in the country and the vital role of literacy for everyone.

My Brigadista year by Katherine Paterson is a  book for older readers.

I recommend this one for the classroom, perhaps read out loud as it may ignite volunteer work in some, a love of history in others and a wonder for what else is out there beyond our own suburbs.

 

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/