What’s at the end of this piece of rope? by Tania Cox and Jedda Robaard.

What’s at the end of this piece of rope? 

Do you leave it? Pull it? Or ask some friends to help you investigate? 

All this is explored through a simple and fun text written by Tania Cox and Illustrated by Jedda Robaard.

With a repeated refrain : What’s at the end of this piece of rope? , a small girl enlists the help of many friends to help her to work out where this tightly held rope is anchored to.

Working together is a key concept in this story and with engaging and fun illustrations, young children will see how important and fun team work can be.

The young reader will love chanting the refrain and also wondering which animal friend will help next. You can ask questions to your young reader as you skip along through the pages helping them to develop their inquiry based thinking.

Enjoy reading this book aloud or encourage your early reader to read to you. Not only is this book a great early reader it is also a great book to spend time perusing through the images of the animals who fill up this book with warmth.

Buy Now – click here: What’s at the End of this Piece of Rope?

What else can you do with this book?

  • Question – what else can be at the end of a piece of rope?
  • Question – should we always pull ropes by ourselves?
  • Question -Why do we need other people to help us sometimes?
  • Which animals are in this story, write down their names and the countries that they come from.
  • Look at the sounds they make as they pull the rope. Can you think of some other sounds that you might make when something is heavy?
  • Why are there not many words in this picture book? Explore the importance of pictures.
  • Please and thank you are used quite a bit in this story – why are these words important?
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Bouncing Back: An eastern barred bandicoot story by Rohan Cleave and Coral Tulloch

How did the last eastern barred bandicoot on the Australian mainland end up living in a rubbish tip? 

Based on a true story, Rohan Cleave and Coral Tulloch have created a picture book that teaches young readers about the plight of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the hard work of volunteers, conservationists and scientists to bring them back from the brink of extinction.

The story begins with some information about the Bandicoot, accompanied by delicately illustrated pictures. We learn how they live and grow, what they like to eat and their habitat.

Sadly we learn how humans have caused devastation to this once thriving population through the eyes of the Bandicoot.

The Bandicoots tell us that because of land clearing, fires, foxes and cats their numbers have drastically dwindled.

They tell us that because they have no where to hide in the once loved long grasses, they are easy prey for owls and feral animals.

The double page spread drawn by Coral Tulloch brings home the terrible circumstances these animals were in – life in a rubbish dump – the only place they felt safe enough.

Luckily a small band of dedicated people were able to save the last few of these Eastern Barred bandicoots and with hard work their population is on the rise in fenced reserves, safe from feral animals and land clearing.

This story, although long, is engaging and children will be happy to know that there is a happy ending – even if there is still a lot of work to be done.

Facts and a glossary are added to the end of the story and the endpapers are a fantastic tool for conversation!!

What else can you do with this story? 

Ask students to find out about an endangered species and create their own picture book so they can teach others about it’s plight and how people are trying to save them.

Ask students : What would life be like if Eastern Barred Bandicoot’s disappeared? How would the ecosystem be effected?

Find out: Are there other picture books that are based on factual events that look at animals brought back from near extinction? Try Phasmid: saving the Lord Howe Island Insect and Rhino in the House

And access some great teacher notes from CSIRO

Buy your own copy from Booktopia

Booktopia

Extra links for further study

Conservation volunteers: http://conservationvolunteers.com.au/what-we-do/threatened-species/eastern-barred-bandicoot/

Zoos Victoria: https://www.zoo.org.au/werribee/animals/eastern-barred-bandicoot

Global Guardian Project -> E-capsule reviews!

Need to inspire your young family? Or students? 

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Want to teach your children about other countries? amazing animals and how they can be activists even under the age of ten?

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Check out the Global Guardian Project, a great monthly subscription that allows you to walk through different topics with your children or class by reading, drawing, writing, viewing and meditating.

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If you want to join use my discount code: GGPVanessa for a 10% discount.

Here are some reviews I have done of some excellent modules.

https://educateempower.blog/2017/11/21/global-guardian-project-australia/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/01/25/global-guardian-project-protect-our-bees/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/12/20/endangered-animals-the-global-guardian-project/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/03/02/introducing-global-guardian-project-junior-exploring-the-ocean/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/11/06/go-litterless/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/10/30/global-guardian-project/

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Koalas eat gum leaves by Laura and Phil Bunting

Do you actually know exactly what koalas eat?

Are you sure?

Perhaps you’d better read this to find out….

Koalas eat gum leaves by Laura and Phil Bunting is a fun filled book where you learn a little more than you bargained for about koalas.

We all know they eat gum leaves for every meal but one little koala is tired of these eucalyptus treats so he sets his eyes on something a little bit more delicious.

Not only will the young reader love the story, they will also enjoy looking at the extra messages within the pictures – the simple change of where the eyes are looking, the movement of the sun in the sky and the arm or leg movement to show something else the koala might be thinking.

Koalas eat gum leaves by Laura and Phil Bunting is a cleverly written story and despite it’s humour there are some lovely hidden messages to find and discuss after you have finished reading.

P.S. Don’t forget to stare at the end pages for at least 5 minutes!

What else can you do with this book?

RESEARCH

– What do koalas eat? Where do they live? Are they endangered?

WONDER

– What would happen if Koalas did eat human food as part of their diet?

THINK

– Why is the koala a national icon? Aren’t there any other animals worthy of this? Choose another animal that should be part of the tourist trail and convince others why.

INVESTIGATE

– How is ice cream made? Can you make your own ice cream? By making your own ice cream,not only are you cutting out the plastic container you are also using fresh and natural ingredients (go on, have a read of the back of the packet…)

CREATE

– Create some different Australian flavoured ice creams. Could you create some that animals could eat? You will need to investigate the diet of each animal .

Five of my favourite picture books I read in 2017.

Five of the best

Children's books tag

Warning! I’ve been tagged. It can be contagious.

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Norah Colvin tagged me and asked me to join in. I don’t normally do this but I’m making an exception. How could I not – it’s about children’s books.

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I’m required to nominate my top five children’s books, then nominate another five people to join in!

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Rules:

  1. Thank whoever’s nominated you and share their blog link.
  2. Let us know your top 5 children’s books
  3. Nominate 5 people to do the same
  4. Let your nominees know you nominated them

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I’m not sure I can decide on my Top 5 – but here are 5 wonderful picture books that speak to me and children about how we can make this world a better place.

  1. Feather by Phil Cummings
  2. The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton
  3. Out of the Blue by Alison Jay
  4. Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo
  5. The Thank you dish by Trace Balla

Oh dear — Can I also mention Second Sky by Patrick Guest and Desert Lake by  Pamela Freeman and Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes???

 

I think I might have to post again about some junior fiction and Young adult fiction too…

There have been so many wonderful books in 2017 but the above have really stood out.

 

Now to nominate another 5 people —–

Romi Sharp from Just write for kids

Bookie Boo boxes – BookieBoo

De from Booksandbabycinos

Beth from EarthandStarskids

Shaye Wardrop

 

Maybe you don’t write about children’s books but would like to share your favourites anyway. Please consider this invitation inclusion. If you would like to join in, please do.

Alternatively, if you are one of the people I nominate, and you’d rather not join in, or have already been nominated, it’s okay to decline.

 

Echidnas can’t cuddle

But with my spikes, I can’t even hug my very own mother.

 

Poor Eric.

 

He is covered in spikes and they are getting in the way of his need to cuddle. All he wants to do is cuddle someone and feel the joy of a warm embrace but all the other bush animals are too frightened of his spikes.

Penny the platypus cries, koalas are cuddly up high in the tree and rosellas with all their feathers can put their wings around eachother at any time. Poor little Eric.

Upset with his situation, Eric runs away and then runs even faster when a snake tries to bite him, bees try to stng him and an eagle tries to snatch him.

Luckily he has spikes – those spikes that he hates and wishes he never had – to save him.

Eric learns to love his spikes and comes to realise that even if he can’t give a hug to someone he loves, he can give them a kiss.

Eric the echidna is quite the loveable character in this rhyming picture book. He displays many characteristics that children will relate to  – jealousy, fear, independence, lack of self esteem,  love for others and love for himself. Echidnas can’t cuddle is a great story to use to talk about self acceptance and learning to love the different things about each person.

Lauren Merrick’s images have been created through collage and print and are wonderful to look at, talk about and wonder how they were created to give the feeling of texture and life.

Echidnas can’t cuddle was shortlisted for the 2017 Environment awards because of the way it raises awareness about these spiky creatures, its habitat and the other animals that live around it.

http://www.eacl.org.au/2017-shortlist-announced/

So what else can you do with this book?

 

Science

  1. Find out more about echidnas! Where do they live and are they endangered?
  2. What types of animals are echidnas and who else belongs in this group?
  3. What are the spikes made out of ? What else can you find out about these spikes?

Creative writing and drawing

  1. Write a story about another animal that wants a cuddle but can’t.
  2. Choose another Australian animal and write about a journey it might go on in order to find something positive about itself.
  3. Re create an image of the Australian bush using the techniques Lauren Merrick has.

Self awareness

  1. Link back to self – what do you love about you? What do you worry about? How can you help yourself to be proud of everything you are?

Bouncing Bouncing Little Joeys: A bush Christmas by Lesley Gibbes

Have you started to think about Christmas yet?


If you’re anything like the little joeys in this story you’ll be thinking about all the different things that need to be done in time for Christmas day.

The busy little joeys in this story are not the quiet kind, they are full of energy and eager to decorate the house and Christmas tree – all in time for Christmas day!

Written with rhyme and repetition, young children will love reading this story and watching the little joey and his family have fun together bringing about Christmas cheer!

Doris Chang’s illustrations are cleverly drawn, showing the reader the key part of the joey’s actions. The colours she has used reflect summer in Australia – the parched greens, brown earth and the wildlife that abounds in backyards!

Bouncing bouncing little joeys: A bush Christmas is a fun way to inspire some homemade family fun and because of the rhyme and repetition, children can be involved in the storytelling.

So what else can you do with this book?

Literacy

  •  List all of the verbs used in this story. What other verbs might you use to describe actions when you are getting ready for Christmas?
  • Choose a part of the Christmas tree and write your own descriptive sentence that may have rhyme, repetition and descriptive adjectives.

Science

 

 

The lengths some bears go to

Bollo had had enough.

Every book he read was boring.

His friends told him to try picture books.

BORING!

His little boy told him to try books based on facts

BORING!

His grandma suggested he try audio books

OH HIS EARS!

But that was until he was accidentally locked in the library.

The lights went out, the door clicked shut and the place went quiet.

Bollo looked around but there was no one in sight, no one that is until the books started watching him.

One by one he noticed aliens googling their eyes at him, monsters waving their furry hands and a Mopoke hooting at him.

He crept closer to each book and noticed the shimmer on some covers, the sparkle on the pages and the magic smell.

He hesitantly moved his hand over shelves of picture books, rows of audio books and reams of graphic novels.

He heard stories rumble from within books on low shelves, fact reciting from books on high shelves and constant mumbling from magazines on the back shelf.

With a dash of colour here and there, Bollo found books that were beyond boring. He found books that would transport him to another time, books that would teach him things he never knew possible and books that would give him ideas on how he could change the world.

And so when the lights came back on and a friendly hand picked him up, Bollo thought  that  just perhaps, books were not so boring.

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Amazing animal babies by Chris Packham and Jason Cockcroft

Which animal lives in it’s father’s mouth as an egg? How big are earthworm eggs? And which creatures need to fend for themselves as soon as they are born?


Babies of any kind are amazing yet many of us know little about animal babies – unless we see them on the news as part of a zoo breeding program.

Amazing animal babies by Chris Packham and Jason Cockcroft is a wonderful book that teaches the reader about how different babies are grown in the womb or egg, how they develop and the amazing things they can do from a young age.

Each page is accompanied by Jason Cockcroft’s vibrant illustrations that depict how the animal lives and moves in its habitat. The pictures bring the facts to life and help the young reader to absorb the facts that they hear or read throughout the book.

A great aspect of this book is towards the end where readers can discover more through some extra facts. I love when books provide this extra information as it really empowers children to go on and explore more about the particular animal they are interested in.

So how can you use this book?

  • Choose one or two of the animals and then research some more about them through library books and easy to read websites.
  • Are any of these animals endangered?
  • Where do each of these animals live? Plot them on a world map – country awareness is really important to build from an early age.
  • Should we use the cute factor to save endangered animals? Would this help? 

Little mouse’s Sweet Treat by Shana Hollowell

What lengths do your children go to to grab themselves a sugary treat?

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The little mouse in this book travels all over his neighbourhood to find a delicious sweet snack meeting different animals and their taste buds along the way.

A sweet, simple, fun and engaging story, Little Mouse’s Sweet treat will not only engaged your child it will also expose them to rhyme.

Rhyming is one important aspect of learning to read so having these types of books read out loud to your child is setting them up for an easier path when learning how to read.

The watercolour illustrations are beautiful and my three year old loved looking at what the different animals were doing as the mouse spoke to them.

My one year old niece asked for the story to be read over and over again, enjoying the pictures, the sing song of the rhyme and the curiosity to see what the mouse ended up eating!

Little Mouse’s sweet treat is a lovely read for younger children and one which early readers will also like to read out loud.

You can buy your copy here: Amazon

Endangered animal spotlight: The Numbat

What am I?

I am only 40cm long

I eat around 20 000 termites a day

I am only found in Western Australia

 

I am a NUMBAT!

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(Photo taken from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-03/numbat-population-grows-after-wa-breeding-program/8410856)

 

Numbat’s used to inhabit the southern part of Australia, including Western Australia, South Australia and parts of New South Wales but now they are only found naturally in pockets of South Western Australia.

Key reasons as to why these cute banded animals are endangered is because of cats, foxes and loss of habitat due to land clearing for mining and farming.

There are currently only around 1000 numbats left  in Australia.

So how can you make a difference for these diurnal marsupials?

Read a book – Rufus the Numbat is a fun filled read!

Check out project numbat and the great kids activities online

See how fences are keeping away cats and foxes

Keep your cat inside – see what PETA says about this.

Check out what FAME are doing for these animals

 

Tell me a story Rory by Jeanne Willis and Holly Clifton Brown

We love our teddy bears and have spent many hours over the years searching for bears that have hidden themselves in trees, under lounges and inside cars. But as the children grow older they are starting to need them less and less and it’s good it doesn’t bother them but it does make me sad that they are growing up.

Tell me a story Rory by Jeanne Willis and Holly Clifton Brown is a simple yet powerful story about the love between those beloved cuddly toys and children.

Rory the lion used to listen to his little girl tell a story every night but now she has moved to a new bed and doesn’t come and see him anymore.
Rory misses her and instead of lamenting his loss he starts to create his own stories.
His stories lead his little girl back and together they adventure far and wide through magical night time stories.

Tell me a story Rory highlights the importance of storytelling and the relationships we can build through spoken word.

So what can you do at home? 

Tell stories! Tell a story every night when your child goes to bed. It is not only fun but it ignites imagination. See my post on storytelling.

Don’t discourage soft toys, they are a reassurance for young children and they will eventually let go of them.

Tell stories to your child. We have so much fun every night telling stories! Perhaps a good picture book will come out of it one day!!

The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft

“I have something to make you jolly, Numbat.” said Anteater.

But animal after animal throughout the alphabet is just too busy to find out what Anteater has until they feel like they are missing out on something wonderful!


The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft is an intriguing  illustrated book that not only is a stunning alphabet book, it also has a message for us all  that I think all readers will see differently.

As readers peruse through the pages and admire the illustrations they can also explore Bronwyn Bancroft’s use of indigenous art techniques which complement each if the Australian animals who stumble across Anteater on his little journey.

Sally Morgan’s words are descriptive and this adds to the depth of using this book in the classroom or at home as parents and teachers can explore the different adjectives used to describe how the anteater thinks the animals might feel about his amazing thing.

The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft is a beautiful book that can be admired and read again and again and drawn upon for many different lessons.

So what can you do from here?

  • List all of the adjectives that are used throughout the story and discover if any are synonyms.
  • What were each of the animals too busy doing? Explore the different verbs from each of the animals.
  • How much do you know about each of these Australian animals? Explore some of the animals you don’t know a lot about.
  • How many times does the anteater appear throughout the book? Explore counting through the pictures of the animals on each page.
  • Are any of these animals endangered?
  • Are any of these animals endemic to one particular area of Australia?
  • What do you think this amazing thing really is and why might everyone think it is different?

 

Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop

Some dads cook sausages.

Some dads cook pasta.

My dad cooks spicy, dicey stew.

And then our adventure with the delightful Meeka begins.


Meeka the sweet blue bird, hangs around with a father and daughter who cook at the market.

Meeka not only loves helping cook the heavily scented tagines through his magical song but he also loves making friends and tasting the delights from the other market stalls.

But we soon learn that perhaps all of these treats are not so good for a little birdy body…..

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Meeka is a delightfully told story by Suzanne Barton about not only a father-daughter relationship but also about the care we can give to natures’ smaller creatures. Throughout this story we also feel the care of the market stall owner community when little Meeka cannot be found.

Community love is something that perhaps many of us do not experience in our inner city life or perhaps even rural isolation but within this story it just shows that by taking part in small community activities such as the markets, we can make friends and feel a sense of belonging just through simple activities such as cooking, eating and chatting.

The father and daughter show love through cooking and cleaning together, talking to other stall owners, customers and singing with Meeka.

Anil Tortop’s illustrations are done in pastel colours full of love. We can feel the happiness oozing from the pages, we can sense the love the father and daughter have for each other and the care they have for Meeka. The illustrations really bring this story to life and show not only the immediate characters but all of the extra people who make their lives complete.

Meeka is a self published book by Bluebell books and was crowdfunded by around 100 people. Without the support of these people I may have never been able to share this lovely story which just goes to show that as budding authors, writers should never give up on a story that they feel will make a difference to our world.


Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop is a heart warming read and one to share. The qualities of care, kindness, helping others and joy are all the traits we want to see in our children and through this story we can show our children how important they are.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Are there any market places near you? Plan a family outing to a farmer’s markets.

– What do you love to cook? Choose a favourite recipe and cook this with someone you love. Explore the senses that light up as you cook – smells, tastes, sounds, sights and touch.

– Take a walk into your backyard or local park and see the different birds that live nearby. Can you watch what they eat? How might humans be effecting the birds diets?

Take part in the national bird watch count.

– Explore how to make Tagines, crusty bread, donuts and toffee!

– Suzanne Barton uses rhyme to describe the father’s cooking, toffee and nectar. Can you create your own rhymes to describe your favourite food?

 

And check out Bluebell books to buy your own copy!

 

 

Bunny’s book club by Annie Silvestro and Tatjaria Mai-Wyss

Bunny’s book club by Annie Silvestro and Tatjaria Mai-Wyss.

Bunny loves reading books and listening to stories being read by the librarian during summer.

But when the weather cools down storytime moves inside and bunny can no longer hear the stories she loves as she thinks that animals are not welcome in the library .

Bunny can’t live without her books so she comes up with a plan to sneak into the library and borrow some books by herself!

Bunny entices her friends and they all end up in the library every night until the librarian discovers them…what will she do?

You’ll have to read it to find out!

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!

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

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!

 

 

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.

Being a bee by Jinny Johnson and Lucy Davey

Discover the secret life of bees from queens to the waggle dance, hives and honey. 

Have you ever wondered about how your flowers grow so brightly or perhaps how tomatoes grow so rapidly or even how weeds seem to appear all over your garden without the slightest hint of a breeze?


Well, wonder no more – Being a bee by Jinny Johnson and Lucy Davey explains the many facets of a bee through simple explanation and colourful illustrations.

In this lively book  children will love learning about bees. They will be introduced to the delightful queen bee and then shown how the babies are fed and grown in the hive alongside where honey is kept for safekeeping.

We learn how and why bees to a waggle dance and how important it is for them to work together as a team.

The section on beekeeping was eye opening and helped us to really appreciate the tub of honey we have sitting in our cupboard.

The flat design illustrations abound with green and yellow and flashes of colourful flowers – which without bees would be no more.

Being a bee is a great way to introduce your young reader to the importance of bees and the valuable role they play in our society.  There is a lot of news in the media at the moment about the need to bring bees back.

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

Sustainability

  • Have a look around your home and see what would entice any type of insect to your area? all insects are beneficial and attracting them to something they can live off or eat is important. It’s better they live off the plants than things in your house!
  • PROJECT: How can we provide the best home for attracting bees? Investigate what the bees (local to your area) need. Draw up a plan of what the hive would look like, where it should be placed, what conditions it needs to attract bees and to survive. (This project includes outcome links to mathematics, literacy, science and geography)
  •  Herbs are an easy plant to start with as they can be grown in small planter boxes on windowsills – give rosemary, thyme or mint a go.
  • It is important that you find out about the beneficial flowers that help bees in your area too. Australian stingless bees love:

 

Abelia x grandiflora Abelia
Buddleja * Butterfly Bush
Callistemon  Bottlebrush
Eucalyptus  Gum Blossom
Grevillea Spider Flower
Lavandula Lavender
Leptospermum Tea Tree
Melaleuca Honey Myrtle
Westringia Rosemary
Many Varieties Daisies

Literacy

  • Find some more books that have bees in them – you’ll bee surprised! Do these stories all have a similar message to tell?
  • Compare scientific literature to children books that are on the topic of bees. Why do we need both types of literature out there to understand the need for bees in our world? Create your own bee themed picture book based on some scientific literature.
  • Create your own story about your adventure with a bee. Which flowers would you like to visit? Divide a page into four sections and draw a series of pictures that show what you would like to do with a bee to make sure there are enough flowers, fruits and vegetables in the world.

SCIENCE

How is honey used in our lives apart from to eat? Investigate the different properties of honey and how it is used in a myriad of products!

GEOGRAPHY

Where are bees located? What type of environment do they need to thrive? Create a honey bee and a stingless bee map of Australia.

NUMERACY

Why are honey bee hives made out of hexagonal shapes?

Why do stingless bee hives spiral shaped?

Investigate the different shapes of bee hives across the globe and why they are this shape. Could they be another shape? Investigate if there is a better way to keep honey in a hive.

https://www.hachette.com.au/jinny-johnson/being-a-bee