Book review, Books with current issues, Environmental books, gifted education, life cycles, Teacher tips and resources

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?
Advertisements
Book review, Creativity, gifted education, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

Ruben by Bruce Whatley

Ruben’s dreams were of places that made no sense to him. Places that didn’t exist. At least not anymore.

Ruben, a young boy lives on the outskirts of a damaged, abandoned and futuristic city. Every day when he wakes he writes about his dreams and flicks through images of places he once knew.

Living alone, Ruben often wanders the streets, avoiding the huge machines that live in Block city who destroy things humans need for survival – freedom, safety and knowledge.

One day, on his way through the city in search of food and water, he discovers Koji, another child who is also alone. Together they understand each other, share secrets and dream of escaping on one of the fast trains that leave the destroyed city.

Bruce Whatley is a master illustrator who has created this whole world in black and white – giving it the grim and abandoned feel it needs. Readers will pour over the illustrations for hours as they journey with Ruben hoping that he can escape this formidable place.

Although set in the future, the sketches of objects Bruce Whatley has included, pull on our own heart strings and lead us to think – what if? Children of all ages will ponder the possibility of places in our world that already look like this or the possibly of our own country looking like this if we don’t care for others around us.

This Dystopian world that Ruben lives in is one that young children can enter without the violence of many other Dystopian fiction books on the market.

I have explored this book with some Gifted Year 4 students and they have thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Ruben and then creating a Dystopian world of their own.

So what can you do? 

GRASPS Task – – Ruben by Bruce Whatley

GOAL: You are going to create your own dystopian world using as many as the key areas as you can.

ROLE You are the engineer of this futuristic society. You are the designer of the people, their plight and their place.

AUDIENCE You need to create a world that will appeal to readers aged 8-12. .

SITUATION : In the book market there are many fiction books set in Dystopian worlds but they are for older readers and any are full of violence. You need to create a dystopian world without violence. There are many other ways the world can become dystopian so use your create juices and move away from the violence we hear about in the older books.

PRODUCT. The world you create needs to be a combination of things so we can get a true insight into this world. You can use: Diary entries, maps, posters, sketches, storytelling, newspaper articles, radio correspondence etc.

You will be marked out of 15.

STANDARDS and CRITERIA [INDICATORS]

 

1 2 3
Key areas of a dystopian world. Student has used 3 key areas in their dystopian world Student has used 5 key areas in their dystopian world Student has used 6 r more key areas in their dystopian world.
Understand how texts vary in complexity and technicality depending on the approach to the topic, the purpose and the intended audience (ACELA1490 Student has developed three different types of texts to engage the audience Student has developed four different types of texts to engage the audience Student has developed five or more different types of texts to engage the audience
Discuss how authors and illustrators make stories exciting, moving and absorbing and hold readers’ interest by using various techniques, for example character development and plot tension (ACELT1605 Outline how they developed characters and settings briefly. Outline how they developed characters and settings in details. Outline how they developed characters and settings in detail and respond to questions with good explanation.
Create literary texts by developing storylines, characters and settings (ACELT1794 Outline the basic process of creating this Dystopian world. Discuss how characters were developed and how they fit into the world created. consider how and why particular traits for a character have been chosen. Discuss in details why the setting has been created and how the idea was developed.
Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive print and multimodal texts, choosing text structures, language features, images and sound appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1704 Many errors made in final draft with little editing present. Some mistakes made in final products wth some editing present. Excellent final product with little or no mistakes.

 

 

 

Book review, gifted education, literacy, loveozya, Teacher tips and resources

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

If you had one wish what would it be?

Esme Silver lost her mother 7 years ago and has just witnessed her father remarry a women she doesn’t like at all. She is not only upset at her father for remarrying but also upset that he wants to move on when she can’t. Her mother went missing 7 years ago for no apparent reason and it is this unknowing that draws Esme to a small cottage she has been told to avoid for the last 7 years after her father and his new wife depart on their honeymoon.

Not only does Esme discover more about her mother, she also discovered another world – and this world has many more links to her mother than she would like to think.

When Esme steps into this other world, she makes many true and good friends in the city of Esperance who help her to find out what has happened to her mother. She shows determination, clever thinking and a strong will as she journeys through a city which constantly surprises her with it’s twists and turns around every corner.

Esme’s wish is a marvellous story and a definite page turner. It is full of magic and wonder,imagination and marvel, creativity and friendship. Not only does Esme travel Esperance to find her mother, she travels through it to also save the city from certain destruction.

Esme’s wish by Elizabeth Foster is a book for readers aged 11 and up and perhaps one that may have a sequel….who knows? Perhaps I will have to ask Elizabeth Foster herself…..

So what else can you do with this book?

– Draw a map of Esperance and surrounding islands after you have read the book

– Make a list of the different gifts people can have. How do people have gifts in our world? Are they as revered as they are in this story? Are all gifts equal in this world and our own?

– What is a pearl made out of? Why are they precious? Can you find any stories throughout history related to pearls?

– As you read list the metaphors and similes and other types of figurative language. This book is rich in this type of language and a great way to study how you can add more to your writing.

There are so many more wonderful activities to do with this book – it’s a great book to share or read as a group!

animals, Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, gifted education, literacy, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, plastic free July, Teacher tips and resources

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.

img_6267

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.

img_8382

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

img_3100

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

img_6994-2

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.

 

animals, Creativity, gifted education, literacy, loveozya, My creations, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

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.

img_8407

 

Book review, Books with current issues, gifted education, literacy, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Danny Blue’s Really Excellent Dream by Max Landrak

How would you feel if you lived in a world where everything was the same?

Would you accept? Would you rebel?

Perhaps take a read of this story and see where both those paths might take you.


Danny Blue lives in a world where everything is blue –  bowls, spoons, chair and table. And at first Danny is pretty happy about this blue world. It is all he knows, he is happy and so is everyone else it seems.

That is until one day Danny has a Really Excellent Dream (R.E.D.) which he just can’t shake.

Danny takes it upon himself to follow his dream despite many people around him telling him otherwise . He uses the ideas from his dream and through perseverance he discovers what else is out there. Danny Blue shows determination and by following his dream he begins to make a difference in his blue world.

Danny Blue is a strong character who shows self doubt at first but then displays the ability to see that his idea can work and that it will benefit those around him.  He also shows that even when those around you don’t support you, you need to give things a go – because you just never know!

Max Landrax has cleverly illustrated this picture book. Children love the pictures and in this story the illustrations add more depth to Danny and his different activities. Danny is portrayed beautifully as a tiny boy living in an adult world but with a big dream – and each illustration entices the reader to love Danny and his project even more.

Danny Blue’s R.E.D., shows how society can really take hold of the individual and how the individual can just go on accepting what the status quo is.

Children will feel empowered after reading this story as Danny Blue is a young boy and despite being told his ideas were not possible by the adults in his world, he was still able to make a change.

As parents we have a lot of influence on the young people in our lives and we need to ensure that they are given the opportunity to think for themselves.

How can you add more to this book?

 – Before you turn the last page ask children to predict what Danny Blue’s next dream will be about.

– What do you think Yellow would stand for?

– Research some famous inventors who have changed history despite being told they couldn’t make a difference.

– Research some famous people in history or perhaps even today who have done something that others thought they couldn’t. Look at people who have made changes that have helped society to become a better place.

– Design a world where everything is the same. Work out what would have to change in your world if you were to be similar to everyone else.

– Discuss – If we all lived in a world where we all agreed would we need elections? Would this be a good or bad thing for us all?

– Have you ever had a really excellent dream? Discuss dreams and try to keep a journal for a week to see what you dream about.

 

 

Book review, Books with current issues, Creativity, gifted education, literacy, nature play, Parent tips, Picture books that address current issues, refugees, Teacher tips and resources

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup

We live under the same sky….

We feel the same love….

We play the same games…..

 

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup is a picture book for young readers that shows us the beautiful connection that we all have no matter where we live, what we look like, who we love, what we do or how we play.

Delicate illustrations add a soft and gentle touch to the words that quieten young minds and allow them to reflect on the different walks of life around the world.

We have read a few of Teckentrup’s books and this one is definitely another favourite.

Each page follows on from the next with a peek-a-boo type window so that similar ideas can carry on for two pages. Children will love looking through the window and perhaps guessing what will be said on the next page.

Under the same sky is a subtle way to talk to young readers about the world and the many people within. It is a way to teach children about discrimination in its many forms. It is a way to teach children acceptance of others and understanding that ultimately everyone who lives just wants to love, wants to play, wants to sing – just wants to enjoy life, be kind to others and seek out joy.

Britta Teckentrup is a beautiful writer and her illustrations add great points for discussion.

A great picture book read for younger children but also a great one to get older children thinking.

So what else can you do?

  •  Explore how children live around the world. How do children the same age as your children play? What do they sing? How do they learn?
  •  Look up at the sky and talk about what you can see. What can others see? As a group talk about how we all see different things in the world we live in.
  •  Create a book just like this one using the same sentence starter to bring across a message.
  •  Do you treat people like you would want them to be treated? Does your government treat people like they all live under the same sky and have the same hopes?
  • Explore the rhyme used in the story and how it helps to portray the message of equality. Create your own rhyming sentences that have the same starter.
Book review, Books with current issues, gifted education, literacy, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

Drawn onward by Meg McKinlay and Andrew Frazer

A creative palindromic picture book has arrived in the form of Drawn Onward by Meg McKinlay and Andrew Frazer.


Within this story the reader explore the glass half empty attitude: ‘People who think they are important and precious are wrong” to the glass half full attitude of “Important and precious people who think they are just a tiny speck tossed this way and that can’t hope to do anything at all“.

As the reader engages with each page they see how hopelessness which causes self destruction, darkness and loss can be turned into hopefulness, light and energy. These images have been delicately drawn by Andrew Frazer to give extra meaning to the short sayings written by Meg McKinley

Drawn onward is a powerful picture book written for older readers and a great book to explore slowly with discussion and reflection. The book can be read in it’s entirety but then should be looked back upon so links can be made between how the character recovers from the dark heavy feelings of life.

Many young children are effected by bullying and low self esteem so reading books like this can help the discussion of these issues become easier. As parents and teachers we need to support our children so that they do not feel weighed down by life. The sooner we can raise awareness in our children that there is always hope, they better.

Meg McKinley has cleverly played on words to create this story of hopelessness and hope and it is one that should be shared in all classrooms. Not only does it focus on self concepts it also looks at how if we just play around with words things can sound so much better – and this all relates to how we talk to ourselves.

Drawn onward by Meg McKinley and Andrew Frazer is a great collaboration between author and artist and one that helps us to learn how a simple shift of focus can change our whole perspective.

So what can you do at home or in the classroom?

Literacy

  • Explore Palindromes in words and Phrases – write these down and then draw these to show how simple swaps make a huge difference.
  • Explore synonyms and antonyms for words such as hope, love, light, truth, good, important and precious.

Mental Health

  • Explore times when you have felt like the dark character – how did you remove the heavy rock and reach towards the light? Allow students to explore this individually through picture or word.
  • Explore meditation with children and how helpful just three minutes a day to help ourselves get into the right mindset.

Teacher Notes

Check out these great teacher notes by Fremantle Press

Book review, Creativity, gifted education, literacy, Parent tips, picture books, Teacher tips and resources

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts.

She took a deep breath and she simply asked, “Why?”

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts is a celebration being inquisitive, persistent, independent and creative!


In this delightful picture book, we meet Ada Twist , a young scientist who doesn’t start to speak until she is three (echoing Einstein). Once she does start talking her world is full of why, how, what, when and many different experiments and investigations along the way.

Ada’s parents and teacher are bombarded with her constant questioning and messy investigations but luckily they see her passion and her gift and give her the time and the support that she needs.

And that’s what they did – because that’s what you do when your kid has a passion and a heart that is true. 

The illustrations by David Roberts are brilliant and not only support the story but add so much more to it. As we read along you can search for the pet cat, the smelly socks, her brother and the trail of investigations Ada leaves behind.

The reader can see her thoughts floating around her written not only in words but also through her facial expressions.

Andrea Beaty’s rhyming text is not only a perfect way to tell the story of young Ada but a perfect way to teach young children that when they follow their passions and dreams, with the support of those around them, they can achieve anything.

Ada Twist,  who we leave in Year Two, still makes a mess and still makes mistakes but she is learning along the way and her passion is infectious – we see many of her class mates also taking part in her investigations and experiments.

Ada Twist, Scientist is a brilliant story based on inspiring female scientists such as Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace. Perhaps this story will inspire your daughter or female students to reach out and achieve their scientific dreams.

So what can you do at home? 

Gifted Education

Gifted education is a passion of mine and when I read this story to myself and out loud to different children I really loved the support Ada’s parents gave her. They weren’t smothering her by enrolling her in every course or after school activity and they also were not dismissing her talent by telling her to stop asking so many questions.

I think that parent’s can take note of Ada’s supportive parents and perhaps start to look at their child and see what they need, listen to their questions and answer them in the best possible way. Many gifted children do not turn their gifts into talents because of the lack of support and the feeling that they are asking too many questions.

  • Listen to your children and answer their questions.
  • Show them that you don’t always know the answers and help them to research or investigate.
  • Give them time to play and investigate rather than always being involved in an after school activity.

Science Investigation: Smell

  • Investigate the olfactory system.
  • Investigate how long smell takes to travel to us and if we need to see something to know what it smells like.
  • Create your own perfume for different purposes (to repell mosquitoes, to smell nice by the beach, to smell nice at a party, to ward off witches etc)
  • Compare different smells and work out how we know the difference between good and bad smells and what those smells are really telling us!

Teacher Guide is here: http://www.abramsbooks.com/adatwist/

 

gifted education, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

Finding your child’s gift

Have you ever wondered if your child is gifted?

Perhaps they taught themselves to read at an early age?

Maybe they display empathy towards others beyond their years?

Some gifted children can manipulate numbers ten years before their age peers.

Being gifted can be seen in many different ways and although my blog has a strong focus on books and global issues, gifted education is something very close to my heart.

Having a masters in Gifted ed and working closely with gifted children over many years of teaching I have come across gifted children in all different types of classrooms.

One issue many gifted children have is not being recognised by their teacher. Parents often have a good sense (but sometimes doubt themselves or don’t know who to compare their children to) of what their children can and can’t do – and need to pass this onto their child’s teacher.

In order for our children to be supported we need to recognise the gifts they have and support them.

Here are some possible ways you can recognise if your child is gifted

  • Walk and/or talk early
  • Have an unusual sense of humour
  • Be very curious and ask complex questions
  • Show an early or intense interest in books, often learning to read at a young age
  • Make unusual connections between topics
  • Be self motivated, perfectionist, persistent or independent
  • Have a long attention span and unusual memory for details or facts
  • Learn rapidly, with little practice
  • Think faster than they are able to write
  • Prefer the company of older children
  • Have unusual perception and problem solving ability
  • Worry about adult issues and problems
  • Need less sleep than most children
  • Not always show their abilities in a school setting

It is important to remember that:

  1. Giftedness is not static – it is always changing so don’t arum just because your child can’t read at two that they are not gifted.
  2. Anyone can be gifted – It is not restricted to age, race, gender or disabilities/abilties.
  3. Being gifted does not always mean you are gifted in everything – You may only be gifted in one particular area

 

There are many different ways gifted children can be supported depending on their needs, some are:

  • Subject acceleration
  • Grade acceleration
  • Mentoring
  • External programs with like minded peers
  • Working alongside teachers in planning how they learn.

There was a great article in the Australian today stating that one of the key problems gifted students face is boredom in the classroom which can lead to low self esteem, poor behaviour and disengagement with education. As parents and teachers we need to make ourselves aware of what to look for in order to identify gifted students and then how we can best support them so that their gifts turn into talents.

I will be running a course for both parents and teachers later on this year, please register your name by emailing me if you are interested: nes.ryan@bigpond.com

 

Gifted Ed - The Australian 21st July.jpg