International Mud Day

Today is International Mud Day.

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

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

SO —

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

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

So what can you do on this day of mud?

 – Find some mud and stomp in it!

– Find some sand and build castles in it!

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

Read some books about mud

Read some books about nature play such as:

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Nganga by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cicada by Shaun Tan

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

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

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

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

The stairs to say farewell to this greyscale existence.

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

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

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

Younger readers.

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

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

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

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

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

Why do you think the cicada never left his job?

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

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

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

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

Notes from Hachette, click here.  

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

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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Sorry day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler

Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away

Sorry Day is a very important picture book  to share this Sorry day – or any future Sorry days.

Released on May 1st, Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is a powerful story that highlights both the impact on the families who lost loved ones when they were taken away and the impact Kevin Rudd and the Australian community had when they formally said sorry in 2008.

The scene is set as we meet young Maggie who is excitedly waiting at the Sorry Day speech but amongst the excitement she loses her mother and frantically searches for her amongst the sea of legs and people.

But as we watch Maggie we also see the loss the Indigenous people experienced during the period of The Stolen Generation, we experience through word and illustration how it would have felt to be ripped apart from your family with no warning.

Dub Leffler’s illustrations are amazing and give so much more emotion to this meaningful story. We hear the story and we see the people.

We hear their cries and we feel the emotion as we watch their faces.

We read the history and we see how this has effected the current landscape.

Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is picture book you will not forget.

I’m sure children will have many questions about this topic once this story has been read as the links between a child getting lost in a crowd and the story of children being taken away really pulls at the heartstrings and stirs so much emotion.

Delve deep into this topic with your young readers, explore the past and think about how we can make the future a better place.

What else can you talk about?

  • Explore the quote: Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away.
  • How did the story impact your emotions?
  • Why did the author jump between the past and the present?
  • How has the illustrator shown the difference between the past and the present?

Sorry Day

  • When is Sorry Day and how long have we commemorated this day?
  • Explore the impacts of The Stolen Generation.
  • Why was there a Stolen Generation?
  • What can we do now to ensure inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous people lessen?
  • How can you share the story of Sorry Day with others?

Creative Arts

  • List any songs that you know of that explore this theme.
  • List any artwork that you know of that explores this theme.

There are some excellent teacher notes here: https://flickingonthebook.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/3fe4b-sorrydayteachers27notes.pdf

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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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Our birds: Nilimurrungu Wayin Malanynha by Siena Stubbs

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.”
― Marc Riboud

Siena Stubbs was given a camera three years ago, and now at the age of 15, she has been able to publish some of her favourite photos of birds that live in Arnhem land.

Each photo is accompanied by information about the bird in words by Siena. These words tell us some simple facts about the bird and how she took the photo  –  which make this book so enjoyable for children to read.

Readers will also learn why she has chosen this bird to be in the book and where she often sees that bird.

Not only are we learning about the birds of Arnhem Land, we are also learning about the land, the sea and the sounds each bird makes.

Buy now through fishpond: Our Birds: Nilimurrungu Wayin Malanynha

Our birds allows the reader to learn the language of the Yolnu people and understand how each bird was given its name.

We loved looking at the different types of photographs taken at different times of the day and in different locations. And every child that read this book was intrigued by the Indigenous language names for each bird.

This book is a great book to read but it is also a great book to use as a springboard for other activities.

What can you do with this book?

Geography

  • Look at the map of Australia and learn where Arnhem land is. Discover what life is like up there for children.

Culture

  • Explore the different moiety groups, language groups and cultures in Indigenous Australia.

Science

  • Learn more about some of the birds in this book.
  • Which birds only live in Arnhem land? Which ones travel to other countries or places in Australia?

Visual Arts

  • Look at the different ways the photographs of the birds have been taken. Critique the different techniques and then explore your own photography skills on some local birds.

Literacy

  • Explore the way the information has been written in this book. It is written in first person. How does this make the reader feel? Could you write this information from a third person perspective? Could you research and find more information to make this a different type of non-fiction book?

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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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?

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

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth

Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. 

Without warning Ruby’s mother is killed in outback Australia. Her mother, a herpetologist  leaves a gaping hole in Ruby and because of this sudden loss, she doesn’t know how to cope.

Ruby’s father and grandmother are also struggling to deal with this loss and we see this in the first chapter when they race to get away from Australia and on a boat into India without warning – to manage an abandoned hotel at the foot of the Himalayas.

At first Ruby hates living in this remote location but as time goes on she makes a friend, learns about the mountains and sees how much help she can be to the local wildlife.

But despite this new found love of the mountains she soon discovers a dark secret that it hides – poachers. These poachers are on the hunt for endangered leopards and will do anything to hide what they are up to.

You will fall in love with the mountains of India and be in awe of the determination and strength that Ruby displays despite the loss she has just experienced.

Children will relate to Ruby and Praveen and their ability to see beyond what adults see when it comes to making a difference in the world.

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth is an excellent read, set out in small chapters and adorned with leopard print, young readers will find this book a page turner yet a mananagable one.

When the mountains roared is a great book for a class novel study as it links in India and Australia, animal conservation and natural disasters.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Find out where Ruby moves to from reading the description in the novel. Work out how long it would take to get there by boat and bus.

– Does this book have any similarities to Jess Butterworth’s other book ‘Running on the roof of the world”?

– Where in the world are animals poached and why does this happen? Explore what poaching means and measures in place to stop this from happening.

– Explore the differences in children’s lives around the world. Compare Ruby’s life in Australia to Praveen’s life in India as a goat herder.

– What are superstitions and why do they exist? Do you have any superstitions? How can superstitions be helpful and harmful?

– How many leopards (different types) are left in the world? Is poaching the only reason they are endangered?

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.

The wild robot by Peter Brown

Clouds scudded through the sky

Spiders spun intricate webs, Berries beckoned to hungry mouths, Foxes stalked hares, Mushrooms rose up from leaf litter, turtles plopped into ponds, moss spread across tree roots, vultures hunched over carcasses, ocean waves beat against the coastline, tadpoles became frogs, caterpillars became butterflies. A camouflaged robot observed it all. 

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is my latest read and one which has had many positive reviews. I loved the premise of this novel – a robot living on an island amongst nature, learning to live in the wild and learning about the cycles of life.

But did I love the book – after a slow hump in the middle, I did.

Author Peter Brown involves the reader right from the start, telling us all about how the robot came to be on the island and often asking us questions about what we think might happen next. We watch as Roz, the mechanical robot,  learns to live in nature by observing daily activities by animals, watching the subtle changes in the cycle of seasons and day/night and of course through making friends.

We learn about the daily activities of Roz, which I found interesting but a little slow at times. However, the pace picked up again and the growth of love between Roz and her adopted son made the story so much more rich.

The Wild Robot explores the intricate details of nature and how everything effects each other. We learn, in a subtle way, about the impact changing seasons and human development are having on animals and the possibility of life with robots.

Younger children will love this book if it is read to them as they can explore how Roz learns about animals and the natural world. The last few chapters are confronting – but so are many aspects of the current world we live in.

The Wild Robot is an excellent read, broken up into little chapters with simple illustrations, it will reinvigorate your desire to get out in nature and possibly become a little wild yourself!

Children over 11 will enjoy reading this alone and I would even recommend this book as a class study as so many different topic areas are covered

  •  Climate change (how it effects animals habitat, survival in the changing seasons)
  •  How living things work with each other (life and death, building materials, symbiotic relationships)
  •  Animal habitats (how they create them and where they live)
  •  Robots in our lives – do we really need them? (What do we use them for now?)
  •  Migration patterns in birds (Map patterns of your local migratory birds)
  • Geography (uninhabited island in the world)
  •  Literary technique – breaking the fourth wall.
  • How do we communicate with animals?

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?

I love this tree by Anna Claybourne

Come and climb up a tree, sit on it’s branches and admire it’s leaves, seeds and fruit.

Wonder no more about the secrets a tree holds as you will find out so many things in this informative non-fiction text about trees – and why so many people love them! 

In this colourfully illustrated non fiction book for children you will discover the world of trees that perhaps you did not know about.

Each page is filled with detailed explanations of trees from how it grows from a seed, how old they can be and who needs them.

The readers will discover that there is so much more to a tree than it’s leaves, bark, fruit and seeds. They will see that trees provide so much for many animals and humans and that they cleverly work so that they can survive in testing conditions.

Not only will readers learn facts about trees, they will also learn about how myths have been created about trees and their importance in different cultures and times.

I love this tree is filled with drawn illustrations and real photographs. Diagrams are labelled clearly, timelines give adequate description and there is even a pie chart! Exposure to different methods of factual information is important for young readers so that they know that reading and writing are not the only ways we can see facts.

Trees from all around the world have been included in this book as well as animals and insects that need them for survival. Perhaps this book would be a great lead into learning more about one tree in particular once you have covered the ground work through the chapters in this book.

How can I use this book at home?

This is an easy one as trees surround us – even in the cities and they are often a focus point of parks and walkways.

 —————–  > Go and investigate trees that are in your area.

——————————- > Look at different leaves that have fallen onto the ground and collect them to make a collage, basket display, sketch or chalk rubbing.

——- > Look for seed pods or flowers and try to work out which tree they have fallen from and the purpose of each one is.

Where would you use this book in the curriculum?

Literacy

There are so many ways to base factual knowledge into persuasive texts, imaginative texts and informative. 

Outdoor Learning

Check out this link on how you can learn outside and meet curriculum standards https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/resources/curriculum-connections/portfolios/outdoor-learning/

Science:

Explore different parts of trees, how they help us to survive and how we can help them to survive.

  • Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017
  • Living things can be grouped on the basis of observablefeatures and can be distinguished from non-living things(ACSSU044
  • Living things depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)
  • Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment

How renewable energy works by Geoff Barker

Young children may have heard the term renewable energy or perhaps solar energy – but do they really know what it is and why we use it?

How renewable energy works is another title in the Eco Works series that enlightens readers in exciting world of ecological developments. This series examines green technology and how scientists are searching for the best way we can harness this technology to reduce our carbon footprint and create a better world than we have today.

How renewable energy works by Geoff Barker explore the different types of renewable energy that we are currently using in the world and why we use it. Through photographs and written information, children will discover how energy is harnessed through the use of the sun, the wind, water and waves. They will also learn about biomass, Biogas and geothermal technology.

Throughout the book we are told that these energies need to be harnessed and used by more people so that we can move away from our reliance on fossil fuels – and by giving children the knowledge about these other energy options, it will start to make sense to them why this is so.

Without knowledge, young people can feel that they don’t have the power to lobby for change so by giving them this information through real life images and simple explanations they can start to build their own knowledge and perhaps talk to their parents about the possibility of changing the energy sources their household uses.

How renewable energy works is a great addition to any classroom and makes great links to:

Science

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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