Tilly’s Reef Adventure by Rhonda N. Garward

A turtle hatches from her egg and immediately her life is in danger – we know that has always been that way but how have humans made the dangers even more numerous?

Tilly’s Reef Adventure by Rhonda N. Garward is a wonderful book – both illustrations and story engage young children from start to finish and gives them so many different ideas for questions they can ask.

The main character in this story is Tilly, and she is a new turtle, born with an instinct to survive.

She escapes from crabs, birds and barracudas but it is the one thing that she wasn’t prepared for that nearly kills her – a plastic bag!

Luckily for her there are some caring humans around who help her out of the bag as they continue to pick up rubbish along the beach.

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Books to inspire National Tree Day

National Tree Day is coming up –
 
Friday 27th July for schools and Sunday 29th July for communities.
 
What will you be doing?
 
If you can’t plant trees you could plant some herbs or flowers.
 
And of course, check out this great book list to inspire children to look after trees and appreciate them – as life without them wouldn’t be a life worth living

Poppy and the Blooms by Fiona Woodcock.

Sometimes it’s the little people that make the biggest difference in our world.

In this colourful picture book we meet Poppy and her friends – Dandy, Bluebell and Buttercup.

They love playing outside but one day they realise that there is a park nearby that has lost it’s love, lost its colour and lost it’s joy.

And even though they are small and the park is big, they know that with a lot of teamwork and determination they can make a huge difference to the world they live in.

The pages are bursting with colour and the feeling of life, love and friendship all throughout the story. The story is filled with determination and one which will encourage any young listener to believe that they can make a difference.

Do you have a little changemaker?

Do you encourage your little changemaker to make a difference in the world they live in?

Children are willing to care for the world they live in and with a little bit of help in the right direction they will make a difference.

Take the time to make some positive changes in your world and do it alongside the smaller people in your life so that they grow up knowing that they can act and make a difference.

  • Let them pack their own lunchbox – plastic free!
  • Learn about where electricity comes from so they can turn off the lights.
  • Read the labels of soap bottles and wonder if we really should be putting it down the drain.
  • Look at the food you buy and where it comes from, what it is packaged in and the additives. Think about alternatives together.
  • Go to a local park and pick up rubbish, plant a tree or scatter some seeds.
  • Write to local politicians – show children that they have a voice too.  

Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean up by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina

Have you ever been out on a bushwalk, seen some rubbish but thought – it’s not mine, I’ll just leave it? Or have you ever left something behind because you didn’t want to carry it home?

Perhaps reading Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean up by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina will help you to consider the ramifications of those small bits of rubbish we leave behind and the effect they have on Australian bush animals.

Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean up is a great story about a very friendly lizard called Benny Bungara. We meet him on a beautiful day, warming himself up under the sun – but  when he hears a strange sound he just has to find out what it is.

Thinking it might be a new bush creature he scrambles up a tree to see but once there he discovers it’s a friendly Olive Python with his head stuck in a bottle. Benny helps remove the bottle only to find other creatures who have been effected by rubbish humans have left behind – broken glass and fishing line.

The friends know they need to ask the humans for help but while they are waiting for the help they decide to start cleaning up the place themselves by reusing some items, recycling others and putting some in the bin.

A simple message comes across in this book and young readers will understand what they need to do.

Humans have a huge impact on the planet and we all need to be much more mindful of what we leave behind each and every day.

Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean up by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina teaches children in a fun way about how to never leave rubbish behind and always think about the best place to put it once we have finished with it.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Check out my (in very draft form) resource to help minimise the amount of waste you have in your house: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xnstqsthasuz2tu/How%20much%20plastic%20is%20in%20our%20pantry.docx?dl=0

Look at your bin at the end of the week and work out what could have been reused, refused, repurposed, composted or recycled!

Pack a waste free lunch box for a week and come up with different ideas that help you to leave less rubbish behind.

Explore images of animals around the world who have been effected by the rubbish humans have left behind.

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Secret world of butterflies by Courtney Sina Meredith and Giselle Clarkson

Butterflies have always amazed me with their beautiful colours but there is so much more to them than meets the eye.

The Secret world of butterflies by Courtney Sina Meredith and Giselle Clarkson is a burst of colour filled with facts about tastebuds, poo, flight and eating habits.

Not only is this book filled with facts, it is also filled with rhyming couplets and detailed drawings to grab the attention of any young entomologist.

You’ll learn so much about butterflies, illustration techniques and rhyme that this book will be devoured again and again!

And perhaps you will be inspired to take a slower and closer look outside just to see the beauty that constantly flies among us.

2018 Environment Award for Children’s Literature shortlist

Wow, another great list of books has recently been announced as part of the shortlist for the environment award from the Wilderness Society.

wild

So many of these I have blogged about and I will have to search for the last couple to make sure I let you know about them too.

 

Here are the links to my blogs for these wonderful book – I hope you can find the time to read them soon!

Fiction:
Ella Diaries #11 Going Green by Meredith Costain and Danielle McDonald
Pippa’s Island 1: The Beach Shack Cafe by Belinda Murrell
Wombat Warriors by Samantha Wheeler

Non-fiction:
A Is For Australian Animals by Frané Lessac
Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground by Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler
Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver
Coral Sea Dreaming: The Picture Book by Kim Michelle Toft

Picture fiction:
Can You Find Me? by Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington
Tilly’s Reef Adventure by Rhonda N Garward
Fluke by Lesley Gibbes and Michelle Dawson
Florette by Anna Walker

I would love to be a part of the judging of this one day….

 

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The all new must have Orange 430 by Michael Speechley.

How often do your children convince you that they need the latest toy? 

How often do they ‘need’ to collect the whole set of some plastic thing because – they have to?

And how often do you succumb to consumerism and buy that thing that you know won’t last long or do much?

Well, this is the book for you!

The all new must have ORANGE 430 by Michael Speechley is a very poignant book for today’s world where consumerism reigns and common sense has faded.

We search for the latest and greatest but then quickly forget about it when something newer and shiner comes along.

Harvey is a young boy who needs to have The all new must have ORANGE 430 so he saves as much money as he can and buys it! But it isn’t what he thought it would be – it does nothing, takes up space and is completely useless. Harvey tries to take it back to the shop but they won’t take it and even the manufacturer won’t have it – he just tries to convince him to buy another cheap toy to replace it.

But as Harvey waits in line to talk to the manufacture of The all new must have ORANGE 430 he meets many other children who are also dissatisfied with their toy and together they realise how much more fun the boxes the toys came in are!

The message this book gives us is simple – we don’t need all the stuff we have because we have it all in our minds – creativity, imagination, problem solving.

And if we really want to save the one big thing that matters most – our planet – then we need to start resisting the big manufacturers who seem to trick us so often.

The all new must have ORANGE 430 by Michael Speechley is fantastic and a must read for all children and their parents. It will start some big discussions and make you think about what you purchase in the future.

So what else can you do with this book? 

FIRST THINGS FIRST: 

 – Grab a box and play with it– find out all the amazing things you can do with one! Keep your toilet rolls, old paper etc and create different things instead of buying new toys.

THINK

 – Take a look around your place and work out the things that you need and what you just wanted.

– Which toys give you the most joy and why? Which activities give you the most joy?

– Wonder where all the broken toys go and look at this artist and what he did to show us how wasteful we are. Jurassic Plastic.

– Could we live in a world without plastic toys? How would your life be different? (Explore ads on tv, the state of your room, money saved, less fights, more creativity)

– How do ads convince you that you need to collect the latest toys? Explore the price of many of these toys and what they do once you buy them.

– Challenge your family to create less waste by not buying things they don’t really need, eating more fruit and vegetables to save on packaging and spending time outside or in a world of imagination and creativity instead of with plastic toys.

Love this review? Join my facebook group where we delve deeper into these issues facing children, parents and teachers. 

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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!

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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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 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

If Sharks disappeared: Why sharks are important for our whole planet by Lily Williams

What would happen if sharks disappeared completely?

Do we really need them? Can we live without them?

All these questions will be answered in this cleverly written and illustrated book by Lily Williams – If Sharks disappeared: Why sharks are important for our whole planet.

A healthy ocean is home to many different creatures and if we get rid of any one of these creatures the ocean will be unbalanced and possibly have devastating effects on other animals, sea life and then life out of the ocean.

This book spells this devastation out in an easy to digest way for young children. They will not feel worried, fearful of the future or helpless – they will feel informed and powerful.

Lily Williams tells us the facts and tells us what will happen if we don’t do anything about overfishing, shark nets and ocean pollution but she doesn’t leave us hanging – she also tells us what we can do if we want to ensure the world stays balanced and healthy.

Excellent facts and suggestions to stop shark numbers falling are outlined in the final pages and are a great place to have further discussions with children.

The end pages of the book show the different types of sharks that inhabit our oceans – a great place to see the diversity of these scary looking creatures!

So perhaps if you are a little afraid of sharks, love swimming in the ocean and eat fish on a regular basis – this is a book for you and your family as after reading this you will hopefully look at the humble shark just with a little more empathy.

So what else can you do at home?

LIVE SUSTAINABLY

– Eat little fish. Many fish are caught in large nets so therefore sharks, dolphins and whales are also caught up in the mess. If you need to eat fish choose types that are sustainably and ethically sourced.

– Go down to your local beach and look out for any pollution that might effect the animals that live in the ocean. Pick it up and work out what you can do with it.

SCIENCE – LIFE CYCLES

– Draw up a food chain and work out who eats who in the ocean and what might happen if one of these creatures disappeared.

– Where do sharks live? Which sharks live near you? Work out how they live, what they eat and how long they live for.

Are any scientists researching sharks?   

See what this scientist is doing! 

GEOGRAPHY

– Where in the world do different sharks live? Is there anywhere where sharks cannot live?

LITERACY

– Choose another animals and work out what would happen if they disappeared. Write a text similar to this one or in story form to teach others about the problems that would arise.

– Look in the media for articles about sharks. Are they positive or negative? Collate and see how the media is making us think about sharks.

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 If Sharks Disappeared

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The coral Kingdom by Laura Knowles and Jennie Webber

The time is now, the chance is brief!

Stand up and save the coral reef!

Amazing pictures lie deep within this great Australian Geographic picture book, alongside a rhyming story that will teach young readers all about the coral reef and the creatures that live there.

As you journey below the water line you will see how the coral reef is created, how animals interact with it and how human behaviour is causing damage.

The bleaching of the coral reef is touched upon – not dwelled upon – which is important for young readers. Instead, easy tips and suggestions are offered within the story and at the end with a page full of suggestions.

The illustrations are spellbinding and add so much to the short story – giving you the parent or teacher to talk about that creature and how they live in the water with the reef.

Teaching children about the coral reef is a really important issue right now due to the damage that has been done. This book is a great way to start to teach your children about the small things that they can do to make a difference in the future of the planet (and hopefully their small steps will be followed by their parents bigger steps!)

The coral Kingdom by Laura Knowles and Jennie Webber is an excellent book for children of all ages, and one which links in nicely with science, geography and sustainability.

So what else can you do with this book

SCIENCE/SUSTAINABILITY

  • Visit the end pages of this and choose an animal you would like to research further.
  • Seek out the suggestions at the end of the story as to how you can save the GBR.
  • Find newspaper articles about the GBR and what is happening to it. Seek out both positive and negative stories.
  • Sign or create a petition about the GBR urging the government to stop coal mining and dredging of the land and sea near the reef.

LITERACY

  • Link up all the rhyming words used. Find more words that rhyme with these words and try to create a few lines that you could add to this story about the coral reef.

NUMERACY

  • How much of the GBR has been bleached?
  • How many different types of animals live in the GBR?
  • If the GBR was destroyed how many less tourists might come to Australia?

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 The Coral Kingdom

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What changes are you making this week?

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What changes are you making this week at home or at your workplace to lessen your eco-footprint?

Global Guardian Project: Rainforest conservation

Did you know that even though rainforests only occupy around 7 percent of the entire Earth’s land surface they support over half of the globes plants, trees and wildlife?

Without rainforests we would not only lose this precious flora and fauna but the world as we know it would change dramatically.

Rainforests take in much of the world’s carbon and give us much of our oxygen, they hold much of the world’s rainfall and keep the soils nutrient rich and full of life.

Hopefully at home you are:

  •  Saying no to palm oil
  • Buying wood products that are from sustainable sources.
  •  Buying any products that are environmentally friendly
  •  Educating those around you about the wonders of the rainforest so they can see what will happen if we sit back and do nothing.

And this is where the Global Guardian Junior comes into play

Recently the GGP have released a new set of modules aimed at younger readers and there families.

We have just delved into the Rainforest conservation unit and we loved it!

We learnt about

  • Morpho butterflies and practiced drawing them.
  • Read about sloths, drew them and wrote our own stories about the day we hung out with them!
  • What palm oil is and where is can be hidden (My kids were disappointed they were in some lollies but yay for me!)
  • Wrote down ideas on how we can be change makers.

This module is fantastic and so well set out for young children. There are colourful photographs, interactive activities, videos and a meditation – which is always a nice way to finish off learning.

When we live in a world far removed from these intriguing places it is important to find informative sources that really give children an insight into what life is like there and how they can make a difference from their home.

Why don’t you give it a try today with my discount code: GGPVANESSA?

Check out these articles and websites: 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/jan/23/destroying-rainforests-quickly-gone-100-years-deforestation

http://www.saynotopalmoil.com

http://palmoilaction.org.au/resources/palm-oil-action-shopping-guide/

The littlest things give the loveliest hugs by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost

Hugs from someone you love or someone who cares for you are just one of those things that can make your day seem so much brighter.

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And that’s why we loved reading The Littlest things give the loveliest hugs by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost.

You’ll sail through this book and meet different parents who just love their little ones and the snuggly hugs that they give.

The rhyming and repetition will entrance young readers as will the brightly coloured illustrations.

We loved discussing how the different animals did hug each other with their different sized limbs and bodies. We also wondered how they lived and the different body covering they each had.

The littlest things give the loveliest hugs is a fun book for young readers and a great way to explore the role of parent and child in the animal kingdom!

So what else can you do with this book?

  • Explore how these different animals live.
  • Explore how long babies in each animal group stay with their parents.
  • Look at rhyme and the different words that rhyme with hugs.
  • The end pages are lots of fun to look at – explore the differences between the front and the back.

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 The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs

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Animal Eco-Warriors by Nic Gill

Many ideas on this blog are pointing towards how we – humans – can be eco warriors but did you ever consider how animals can be eco warriors too?

Nic Gill’s book – Animal Eco-warriors, gives us an in-depth yet fun look at how animals around the world are helping to save the environment from damaging weeds, feral animals and invasive insects.

This book has 17 stories about different animals and is told to us through interviews, photographs and descriptions of how the animals work alongside humans to help save some aspect of the environment.

The reader will meet goats who love munching on weeds, bees that wear microchips so we can learn more about their behaviour and farmers that have installed possum boxes to help minimise the damage swarms of beetles do to the native plants.

Each story is engaging and even younger readers will love exploring how each animal helps to save the world we live in.

Nic Gill has done some excellent research to bring these stories to life by not only outlining what each animal does but also giving us funny facts, lists of website to go to to find out more and a detailed glossary at the back.

Non-fiction books often get by passed but this is one that will really inspire – so add it to your library or home book shelf and learn about how valuable these animals really are!

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Animal Eco-Warriors: Humans and Animals Working Together to Protect Our Planet

So what else can you do with this book?

Check out Chooks in Dinner Suits – a great picture book that matches the true story in Chapter 14.

Research further into a chapter that really interested you – could you create a picture book out of one of these stories?

Do you know of any other animals that are eco-warriors?

What is an eco-warrior? What do they look like and what do they do?

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I can change the world

What can we do?

Worry we aren’t doing enough when all we do is perhaps compost or perhaps you buy your food in bulk?

Do you cook from scratch? Say no to plastic bags?

Or perhaps the best thing you are doing now is educating your children through books and discussions?

 

How can we make the world a better place to live in?

From so many different sources the message is very clear.

Every small sustainable difference we make, every small change we make, every small thing we show others – all makes a difference.

What are you doing to make a difference? How are you showing this?

How are you educating children? Would love to hear what you are doing or what you would like some help doing!

You can buy this great poster at The Global Guardian Project and try my discount for a further 10% off!

GGPVanessa

Making with Living things: Build amazing projects with inspirational scientists, artists and engineers by Anna Claybourne

Have you ever wondered how a spider spins it’s web? How a movie is created or how to colour your boring white shirts?

Making with Living things: Build amazing projects with inspirational scientists, artists and engineers by Wayland Books, is an excellent resource for parents and teachers alike as it will inspire young minds to try something they may have thought impossible!

There are ten different activities to choose from and each activity is presented with step by step instructions, accompanied by illustrations. Alongside each activity is a scientist, artist or engineer spotlight – showing children that these simple experiments can actually lead to something big!

We love spiders in our house (true – perhaps not the funnel webs) but the others fascinate us and I am proud to say we are not spider squashers – but spider rescuers.

With this fascination in mind, we wanted to find out the steps spiders took to create their intricate webs so we turned to page 18 and read about some artists who create life like spider webs out of string in various public spaces.

We also learnt that animals are architects who have inspired many human structures!

The instructions in this book were easy to follow yet gave us room to be creative.

Learning to experiment about the world around us is really important if we are to expect our children to love the natural world.

We need more scientists, engineers and artists to solve the problems of the world so that it will be a wonderful place to live for many more generations to come.

Making with Living things: Build amazing projects with inspirational scientists, artists and engineers, is a must have for any home and classroom – be inspired and get out in the natural world today!

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

Feasible planet by Ken Kroes

“There are no such things as great deeds—only small ones done with great heart.”
– Mother Teresa

 

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Trying to live more sustainably is something every person on this planet needs to think about – especially those who can afford to buy smart phones, use electricity and buy food from a supermarket.

Ken Kroes has created a guide to more sustainable living which contains facts, tips and links to companies and websites that can help anyone on their path to better living.

There is a bit of reading do in this guide but with an easy to understand contents page, you can skip to the sections you like and find information that is practical and quick to embed into your lifestyle.

Perhaps some images would make this book more appealing to readers but overall I think it is a great guide for anyone who wants  to start to make a difference.

You can learn the impact your smartphone has on the world when it is made and after you have finished using it, learn how to motivate others through good facts and information and of course how to educate the children in your life.

By talking to the children in your life we create a ripple effect in the wider community and give them the tools to be leaders of change in society.

Feasible planet is a great guide for anyone – even those who don’t want to make a difference – as I am sure by the end you will see that those small changes you can make will make a huge difference in the way the world currently functions – for the better.

Kookaburras love to laugh by Laura and Phillip Bunting

Have you ever wondered about why a Kookaburra up in that old gum tree is laughing?

Did you ever think that perhaps there has to be a serious Kookaburra amongst them all?

Kookaburras love to laugh  is another fabulous creation by Laura and Philip Bunting that will leave youngster having a good giggle as they follow the antics of a rather serious Kookaburra – who simply does now want to laugh.

As expected, the use of prints in this story add to the humour of this book. Simple movements or props added to each image give enough information for the reader to know what is going on and through this technique, children feel that they can add a bit more to the story.

This poor Kookaburra is very serious and he is sick of others trying to make him laugh – so he leaves and finds somewhere where he can have some peace and quiet….that is until he discovers that life without laughter doesn’t seem quite right and surprises his friends on his return.

Watching the subtle eye movements between each picture, talking about some good Kookaburra jokes and wondering what #%*@! Really means is all part of this story.

Kookaburras love to laugh is another wonderful story to add to the tree dwelling animal books we have so far:

Mopoke

Koalas eat gum leaves

I wonder who will be next?

So what else can you do?

  • Make sure you participate in your local areas Bird count. This is a really important way the local councils can learn about which birds reside in their areas through residents input.
  • Create your own Kookaburra jokes!
  • Always wonder what they are laughing at – always!
  • Draw your own Kookaburra and of possible photocopy it to add some extra props to create your own pictorial story board.

Little Whale by Jo Weaver.

“Is this home?” asked Little Whale. “No, we’ve still got a long way to go,” said Grey Whale.

Deep blue ocean, gentle waves rocking and peacefulness oozes out of this book.

Little Whale, written and illustrated by Jo Weaver, is a beautifully told story about a baby whale and the journey north it is taking with its mother.

Grey Whales migrate nearly 20 000 km on a yearly basis as they move back and forth between the cool and warm waters in order to find food and safety.

As we see and read about this migration we watch the baby tire, the dangers lurking in the depths and the beauty of the sea forest below.

The role of the mother whale is so important for her baby’s survival and despite the length they have to travel, albeit a little bit slower than she would normally take, she still sticks by her child ensuring they make it safely to the north.

As you read this story you will find yourself slow down.

The journey of a mother with her calf is a slow and careful one and the way Jo Weaver has told this story ensures we understand how long that journey is.

The illustrations in Little Whale are created in charcoal and really add to the atmosphere of the water. The gentle sketches of the water ebbing and flowing, sea grass swaying and fish circling give off a peaceful sense of life at sea.

Little Whale is a gorgeous story about the migration of whales, the love of parents and life living in the ocean.

It would be a great book to springboard into life cycles, animal studies of migration, animal conservation and ocean awareness.

How can I use this book at home or in the classroom?

  • Plot on a map the different routes whales around the world take in order to migrate to different feeding and breeding grounds.
  • How many different types of whales are there in the world and do they all have the same life cycle?
  • What type of habitat do whales need for optimum development? Explore why they move and why the places they go to are so important.
  • How are humans having an impact on whales and their migration? On their breeding or feeding grounds?