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?
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Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, life cycles, nature play, Parent tips, Teacher tips and resources

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
Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, life cycles, nature play, picture books, Uncategorized

Exploring soils by Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler

Have you ever wondered what is underneath the grass you walk upon?

Have you ever scooped up some dirt and examined the life that teemed out of it?

Have you ever noticed the different colours of soil on your bushwalk or sand at beach?

Exploring soils by Dr Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler is a informative picture book that takes us on a journey through a young child’s eyes as they explore how plants and animals live in soil, how soils are formed and how they are essential in our lives.


Having two young children I have rediscovered the joy of dirt – yes really! Although it does create mess, there is so much to see inside of it. As we dig in our backyard or down in the local park we have discovered so many interesting insects, old junk and pieces of rock.

The collaboration between Grover and Heilser is remarkable. As facts are brought to life through story, the illustrations match so that we can see the layers of soil, see the tiny legs on the insects and learn how water moves through soil.

The importance of soil is shown to the reader as we learn about gardening, using clay for bowls to eat out of and even different ochres that allow us to paint.

The idea of being a soil detective is not out of reach for any young reader and in fact I found this book a great way for children to take a closer look at the soil. There really are hours of discussion to be had around soil and this book is a really great way to start that discussion. Without healthy moving soil we would not have the planet we have today!

So what can you do with this book?

  • Go outside and dig a hole! Start with a small hole and see what is in that space. Write down what you see, draw what you see and compare different spaces around the backyard or park.
  • Learn about the soil that is in your area and how it is different from soil in another part of our suburb or city.
  • Explore why we need healthy soil by conducting an experiment. Try to grow some sunflower seeds in sand, rocky soil, old soil and fresh new living soil. Which one grows best when all given the same conditions?

BUY NOW – click below.

Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground

animals, Book review, Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, life cycles, Parent tips, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources, water

Fluke by Lesley Gibbes and Michelle Dawson

The little southern right whale was born under the shadow of the great harbour bridge.


Fluke by Lesley Gibbs and Michelle Dawson is a beautifully told story about the day a southern right whale gave birth to a calf in Sydney Harbour. Lesley Gibbs gentle storytelling skills alongside Michelle Dawson’s mesmerising illustrations make for a loving tale about a mother whale in search for her baby deep in the harbour.

This event was only the third one recorded in the last 200 years so it made a great impact on the locals who were able to watch the baby grow, become lost and then reunite with it’s mother.

Not only do we get to read this lovingly told tale, we are also able to learn more about Southern Right Whales through small facts on the front and back covers.

The story of Fluke brings to light the care that so many of us have towards living creatures when we see them in distress. It shows just how much many of us love the living world around us and marvel at the wonders it gives us everyday.

So how can we link this to sustainability? 

  • Learn more about whales – where they live, what they eat, how they move and any historical facts about human contact.
  • Are whales endangered? There are many different whales – are all of them endangered and are they all endangered by the same things?
  • How does our water usage effect these great mammals? Can you use water in a more sensible way so that it is not effecting the whales?
  • Do you know of any other stories about animal conservation that have been created into picture books? There are a few on my blog — Can you create your own?

 Phasmid

 Rhino in the House

 The hairy nosed wombats find a new home

The little Corroboree Frog

Circle

Feathers

  • Is climate change or global warming effecting these mammals?
  • How can you make sure you are making less of an impact on how whales live?

Try this:

 Use less chemicals in the shower (Check the ingredients on your bottles)

 Use less throw away plastic  – it can end up in the oceans.

Walk instead of driving

Use less heating or cooling when you can add a jumper or open up some windows instead.

Eat at home or in a restaurant instead of getting take-away.

Make your own food instead of buying food in excess packaging.

Check out some great Biome products here

animals, Book review, Books with current issues, Environmental books, Indigenous authors, life cycles, literacy, Teacher tips and resources, water

Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins

Thunder Rolls – BOOM!

Way up north, lightning flashes, thunder rolls, and the frogs sing a chorus.

Big fella rain coming


 

The magic of the summer rains is wholeheartedly felt throughout this picture book. Living in a place where life blossoms almost immediately after the first rains would be a magical place to be. This book, Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins and published by Magabala Books, is a celebration of life and the reliance all living things have on rain.

Figurative language abounds in this story from liquorice clouds, cracked earth, iridescent wings and thirsty reeds. You can feel the world come to life through the story and see it grow in colour through the illustrations.

Big Fella Rain allows the reader to explore how life changes when water plays its role. We can see seeds looking for somewhere to sow themselves, animals drinking up the long-awaited water and rivers forming to support life. The subtle changes of colours in the illustrations throughout the story show the life return to the red sand and cracked earth.

Big Fella Rain is a celebration of the start of the rainy season – the clouds building, the animals retreating and the cracked earth waiting. It is a celebration of the seasons in the Top End of Australia and the delicate nature of the natural world.

Fern Martin’s illustrations are exquisite and the details she adds to the animal features or the subtle changes in the sky add more depth to the story and show the young reader just what life looks like as the rain falls.

We loved reading this story, looking at the details of the insects, listening to the animals cry for joy and watch the water as it made it’s presence. Big Fella Rain is a wonderful picture book to read out loud, pour over the pictures and think about how much we rely on water.

 

So what can you do at home?

Explore Water 

Explore the animals of the Top end

  • Which type of tortoises live in the Top End? What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?
  • What are Brolgas? Emus? Which other large water birds live there?
  • Are there any frogs endemic to the Top End?
  • We often forget about insects but they also play a role in this story – how do they cope with the rain? Where might they go when it is too wet?
  • Are any animals endangered due to climate change? Less rain or too much rain? Damage from mining or pollution?

Explore art

Explore the art work by Fern Martins – Explore how she has created the illustrations in this story and her other artwork. 

 

Have you ever experienced the start of the rainy season? I would love to hear your stories!

Book review, Books with current issues, Craft, Creativity, Environmental books, life cycles, nature play, Parent tips, picture books, Picture books that address current issues, plastic free July, science, Teacher tips and resources, water

Read, talk, do – the corroboree frog 

 

Recently we read the story: The little Corroborree Frog  

And it has inspired some action in my children. There was no pushing of we have to do this, we have to learn that or we have to save the world. There were simple discussions after we read the story and little discussions around the house when we used water or decided to make our own snacks instead of buying them.

So what happened?

We made a link

My son and I visited the zoo and were lucky enough to see a Corroborree frog.

We made another link

When we returned home my son and daughter watched a couple of short videos on the computer so we could see how they move in the wild and in captivity.

We learnt something and wanted to share it.

There is no point just keeping all the great facts to yourselves so we made posters that we can stick up at home and take to school for news.

See – simple!

If you have time at home, perhaps half an hour you too can educate and empower your children to make a difference in their world. If we don’t start to take action now many animals and people will not be living a great life in the future.

 

 

 

Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, life cycles, Parent tips, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources, water

Desert Lake by Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli

The dry salt bed of Kati-Thanda~Lake Eyre shimmers in the desert heat.

But far up north, the rains have come. Water is flooding into empty riverbeds and swirling down towards the lake.

Soon everything will change.


Mesmerising images, lyrical narrative and imagination sparking facts – Desert Lake is a work of art created by Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli.

The story begins in the hot parched desert which looks desolate and barren but as soon as the rains falls and the rivers from up north flow down south we see how amazing the natural world is. As we read this story we were amazed to find out about frogs eggs that lay dormant for  years under the ground waiting for rain and birds that can sense when the lake is in flood from hundreds of kilometres away.

Desert Lake’s illustrator – Liz Anelli has created eye catching illustrations which give more depth to the story through detail and by adding extra images on each page.

The natural world is an amazing place and to see something like this happen in person would be a wondrous event. I was lucky enough to visit Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre when it was in flood in 2010 – we couldn’t drive to the lake at the time as many of the roads were damaged from recent flooding but we were able to take a flight from William Creek Hotel. As we flew overhead we saw flocks of birds all over the lake and understood the span of the water as it sat there glistening in the sunlight.

Kati-Thanda-Lake Eyre does not receive as much water as it used to largely due to climate change and over use of water from nearby farms. Humans have a great knack at doing things that suit us without thinking of the consequences – perhaps now is the time to start to consider the farming procedures in Australia so that we can perhaps start to farm food that works with our climate – food that needs less water and less pesticides.

So what can you do?

  • Take your time to read this book – we have read it over and over and still each time we manage to ask new questions about Kati Thanda.
  • Pull out a map and find out which rivers flow into Kati Thanda.
  • Investigate and find out the type of farming done in the middle of Australia and how the farming might effect the land.
  • How can you save water? List some ways your family can conserve water.
  • How can you look after water? List some ways you can be more mindful of what you put down the drain.

 BUY NOW
Desert Lake: The Story of Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre

Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, life cycles, Parent tips, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

On the River by Roland Harvey

Come with me from the mountains to the sea.

 

How well do you know the Murray River? Do you know where it flows from and too and what is along the way? This is the perfect book to do some lounge room exploring from!

Ronald Harvey has written some great books which explore Australian environments, share secrets and learn about the people, animals and plants that live alongside and amongst it.

On the River is a delightful picture book with detailed illustrations on every page that leave you searching for the main character, bird life, antics of the local people and the amazement of the river itself.

This book is both educational and entertaining as you travel along thousands of kilmotres through farms, tourist areas, dams and towns. The reader learns about the importance of the river and the devastating effect human activity is having on it’s life.

As humans clear more land for housing, over fish rivers and take water for farming the river and it’s diverse ecosystem is failing. There is more drought within towns that once thrived on the river and more toxic bursts due to chemicals we put down the drains and onto farming produce. So many people love and enjoy this river that it really is time we started to look.

Ronald Harvey drives home this big issue through facts about the river, it’s history and the people who love it.

So what can you do at home?

GEOGRAPHY & SCIENCE

  • Look at the map on the inside cover and then find another map of the Murray River on the computer or an atlas. Look at the different towns along the river and find out more about them.
  • Find out where your water comes from. Where is your water tank? Local dam? Water tower?
  • Check out the health of your local water source with some simple water testing kits. Some are more in depth and can check for all sorts of minerals, metals and bugs!
  • What would we do if we did not have rivers?
  • How are rivers the life blood of our country?
  • How would Australia look if we did not have the vast river system that we do? And what might it look like if we do not take care of these rivers?
Books with current issues, eco living, Environmental books, life cycles, Parent tips, Picture books that address current issues, Teacher tips and resources

LOTS. The diversity of life on Earth by Nicola Davies.

LOTS. The diversity of life on Earth by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton is a creative, eye catching non -fiction picture book that conveys the message of the amazing diversity of life we have on our planet Earth.

IMG_5204

Nicola Davies invites us to look everywhere and when we do we will find so many different types of life.  Through magical storytelling the reader finds out small facts about different creatures, how they live, how many species there are and where they hide. Emily Sutton illustrates with care, bringing the natural world into focus and helping us to se the intricate details of each animal, plant and insect.

LOTS is a great book to ignite your child’s interest in animals and perhaps a future in animal and habitat conservation.

LOTS is a gentle way to teach children about the importance of all life forms and how we all play a role in caring for them.

An informative and entertaining book, LOTS is one for the science lesson, literacy lesson and just the quiet book before bed.

So what can you do with this book? 

Before you read – write down three things you know about life on earth.

After you read – write down two facts you learnt. Write down two things you would like to know more about. Write down two ways you are going to help make sure no more animals become extinct.

Animal conservation

  •  read about an animal in this book who has become extinct. Work out why they became extinct and actions that may have saved them.
  • List and group all of the different animals in this story. How many groups of animals are there?
  • Look at the page on food/life cycles – can you investigate other animals and how they link in with each other for food and life?
  • Donate money to an organisation or do some volunteer work that would help restore habitats for animals.

Use this book as a springboard to help your child to be aware that everything they do makes an impact. Every piece of rubbish, every flick of a light switch and every trip in the car impacts another.

How can you make a difference as a family? 

 

IMG_5216

Creativity, life cycles

Fuzzy Doodle by Melinda Szymanik

Creativity seems to be a recurring theme at the moment – and I love creativity, it links in so many different topics and encourages thinking in so many different ways.

Fuzzy Doodle is a sophisticated picture book that delves into creativity through a small fuzzy doodle that magically comes to life through eating ink and words. Each page brings our imagination to life as we see this small scribble develop, change and grow into a beautiful butterfly. The pictures are eye catching and children love seeing the transformation of the print as Fuzzy grows.

 

fuzzydoodle

 

Fuzzy Doodle uses different poetic devices to tell us the story in a sing song fashion and really captures readers of all ages.

The pictures are stunning and the illustrator Donovan Bixley has used an array of painting and drawing techniques to show the little Fuzzy Doodle change and grow.

 

So how can we use this at home or in the classroom?

Science

Literacy

  • Explore the adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs used within this story. How does Fuzzy eat the words? Think of as many different words as you can for eating and rank the words from the hungriest type of eating to the least. Rank them from the politest to the rudest types of eating.

Creative thinking

  • Create your own doodle and swap with a partner. Ask them to grow and change the doodle so it grows into something.

Sustainability

  • Explore small insects and how they grow and develop over time. Explore why we need insects to make the world go around.

 

Curriculum Links

Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072)

 

Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)  

Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)