The all new must have Orange 430 by Michael Speechley.

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

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

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

Well, this is the book for you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what else can you do with this book? 

FIRST THINGS FIRST: 

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

THINK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Waves by Donna Rawlins, Heather Potter and Mark Jackson

Children have travelled on the waves of migration to the shores of Australia for tens of thousands of years. This book tells some of their stories.

15 children. 15 stories. 15 different periods in the last 50000 years.

Waves by Donna Rawlins, Heather Potter and Mark Jackson explores the different reasons people have travelled to Australia, the vessels they travelled on and the worries and fears they experienced as they dealt with the unfaithful ocean.

We meet Anak, one of the first visitors to Australia on board simple rafts, Finola, a convict all alone to to unfortunate circumstances, Harry sent off without his parents to start fresh to the land of blue skies and wide open spaces and Hau,a refugee who has to battle with pirates, lack of food and no fuel to cross the seas.

Each child in this book has a story to tell and many of them are heart wrenching. Themes of loss, struggle, courage and bravery swim throughout these tales and show us just how tough moving to a new country can be – especially on the ocean.

Waves can be used in so many waves at home and in the classroom as it looks at the history of Australia from a different angle, explores the idea of migration and delves into why different people have decided to move from their home country and then live in Australia.

Each story can be read individually and discussed at length. Maps can be used, historical dates and background information can be pursued.

What else can you do?

Explore the individual stories by using the teacher notes available here: http://classroom.walkerbooks.com.au/waves/WavesTeacherNotes.PDF

Also

  • Choose two stories to compare and contrast. Explore the reasons for coming to Australia, the journey to Australia, how the children felt about the journey and their family background.
  • Map where each of these children came from.
  • Explore the current Australian population to find out where out backgrounds lie and how these people came to live in Australia..
  • Explore the charter for the rights of a child as created by the UN. Could of many of these things happened if the charter was in place earlier on? How can these events still happen with the UN charter in place?

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish by Ben Long and David Cornish

Do you know a child who just can’t sit still in the classroom? Or would rather move about instead of sitting down? Or perhaps you have an interest in creatures with eight legs or even those who blob around the ocean?

Well this book is just for you!

Jasper Juggles Jellyfish by Ben Long and David Cornish is a fun filled rhyming picture book that tells the story of young Jasper, an eight legged student who is having trouble learning how to count.

Learning how to count without doing the act of counting can make things tricky so young Jasper decides to juggle his numbers instead – but this proves to be just as tricky!

Instead of giving up, Jasper learns to take his time and slowly build up his juggling skills. Starting with one willing jellyfish before he moves onto two then three then all 12.

Colourful pictures and easy to read rhyme make this story quite a lot of fun but also provide many different talking points.

After we read this book we researched about different octopi, different types of jellyfish and of course tried to juggle ourselves.

We were also able to explore rhyme and the different types of ways words can rhyme in sentences to tell a story.

Jasper juggles jellyfish is a great story for young children who are learning how to count as it shows that persistence, practice and hands on learning are all key to understanding the great big world of numbers out there! It might also inspire parents and teachers to ensure that whenever learning takes place we make sure it is fun, hands on and linked to the real world!

So what else can you do with this book?

Numeracy

  • Explore different ways of counting to 12.
  • Explore different patterns in counting
  • Explore how many legs were in that counting pattern!

Literacy

  • Look at the different rhyming words used in this story and try to create your own sentence or two.

Science

  • What are the different types of jellyfish that reside in oceans or surrounding waterways near you?
  • Learn more about octopi and their intelligence.
  • How can you juggle? is there a science behind juggling different types of objects?
  • Can jellyfish always be this helpful? Look in the news for times jellyfish haven’t been too helpful.

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:

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!

Girl on Wire by Lucy Estela and Elise Hurst

A girl stands before a wire, anxious about walking across the tightrope that is so far above the ground.

The wind whips her cheeks and the thunder clouds growl – but she knows she needs to walk it.

Courage, confidence and self belief are strong themes throughout this picture book – but they all come with something else – support from those around you.

We can all have confidence, courage and belief in ourselves but none of this will continue to reign if others around us do not support us.

The young girl in this story is experiencing something that many young children will go through at any time of their life – anxiety, self doubt and loss of confidence. The wire represents the hard times, times when we have to try something new or events that make us uncomfortable. But, with the support of those we love, out toes can curl around the wire a little bit tighter, we can stand a little bit taller and we can walk a little bit more confidently.

Girl on a Wire is a simple yet inspiring story.

Accompanied by the painted illustrations of Elise Hurst, with colours that represent the girls thoughts, we can not only read how the girl is feeling, we can also see how she is feeling.

Girl on a Wire is a an excellent story to start conversations about self confidence and the power of believing in yourself . It is also a story to encourage the awareness that we can allow those who you trust to help support you too – we don’t need to do it all alone.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Explore with your child people who they trust to help them when they need support.

– Explore times we they have asked for support – did it help?

– Explore times when they didn’t ask for support – what happened, could you still do this big task? Could support have helped you?

ACTIVITY: Draw a wire between two buildings and at one end write something that you really want to be able to do. Along the wire write down the people who need to be there to support you and the things you need to do in order to achieve this goal.

– What do you think the feathers represent? What is a symbol for you to help you get through the tough times?

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A science storybook about forces: Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Richard Jones

Are you finding the concept of pushing and pulling a little tricky to teach or understand?

This science storybook about forces is a wonderful way to look at simple forces and how they occur in the real world.

The concept of forces is explored through the lovely ‘Bird’ who uses pushing and pulling in many different ways throughout her day. She pulls a worm out of the ground for breakfast, pushes twigs around for her nest and uses strength to push, pull and carry things to and from her nest.

Richard Jones’ illustrations are delightful and reflect the changing light of the birds day.

The story is told in a matter – of -fact way but children will love seeing the bird build her nest, explore the woods and lay her own eggs. And becuase this story is so easy to understand, the concept of pushing and pulling will be too.

A science storybook about forces: Bird builds a nest by Martin Jenkins and Illustrated by Richard Jones is an excellent book to have in any early science classroom as it makes science real and will help you to get outside and start to look at all the different forces coming into play in our world every moment of the day!

There are some simple activities in the final pages of this book alongside an index and bibliography which will help to continue the conversation about forces after the story has been read.

Can you do anything else with this book?

Visual arts

  • Explore how the artist has drawn movement. Explore different ways to show something is moving.
  • Explore the different colour of the sky throughout the day and how you can replicate that in your draawings.

Literacy

  • Explore the verbs used in this story and which ones relate to forces.

Science

  • Go outside and find other things that use this force.

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Bird Builds a Nest: A Science Storybook about Forces (Science Storybooks)

AND THINK ABOUT HOW THE RUBBISH YOU LEAVE BEHIND IMPACTS THE NATURAL WORLD – BUY FROM BIOME TO MAKE LESS OF AN IMPACT!

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The perfect Leaf by Andrew Plant

But the leaves were so beautiful they had to be shown, they had to be shared.

 

Have you ever wondered at the colours of the autumn leaves? HAve you ever looked so closely to see the different colours of each individual leaf?

 

The Perfect Leaf by Andrew Plant will help you to see the wonder that is nature.

 

Each leaf that falls to the ground during autumn is so different – whether it be in colour, shapes or texture. Whether is is damaged, unmarked or broken – each leaf tells a different story.

 

In The Perfect Leaf, two girls meet and play. They search for the most perfect leaf of gold, red and crimson. They dive deep, throw leaves into the air and swim around in search of the most perfect leaf there could ever be.

 

But soon they discover that nothing is perfect and that everything can be beautiful – we just have to look at it in the right way.

 

The Perfect Leaf explores not only the beauty of nature but also friendship and love. It explores the idea that nothing in this world is perfect and everything has flaws – but these flaws don’t have to be a negative thing, they can be something that makes an object or a person even better.

 

The Perfect Leaf is a lovely book to share as the seasons change and we start to crunch through the leaves on the ground. It is one that will help you to discuss why we shouldn’t strive for perfection but instead strive for what makes us truly happy.

 

So what else can you do with this book?

 

SCIENCE

  • Explore the changes in leaves over the seasons.
  • Explore different shapes of leaves around your home and learning areas.
  • Get outside during those cold winter months and find beauty despite the lack of colour and warmth. See what grows in winter and ponder why.
  • Explore symmetry through leaves

 

LITERACY

  • Explore the adjectives used throughout the book to describe leaves. Write your own description of a leaf.  

 

THINKING

  • What is perfection?
  • Can something be perfect?

Teacher notes: http://fordstreetpublishing.com/ford/images/stories/teachers_notes/The-Perfect-Leaf-Teachers-Notes.pdf

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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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Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho

A very clever story told through pictures and limited words – Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho is an excellent addition to any classroom studying government and society.

There is a guard who follows the rules – the rules that does not allow anyone to go on the right hand side of the page.

All the characters that he meets want to go to the other side of the page but meet with his strict orders not to go against him….until a ball gets kicked over the line and the crowd no longer want to be told what to do.

Will people power overcome fear and dictatorship or will they continue to live in fear?

Can we see the different sides to the story to really understand where the different characters are coming from and how they feel about the other side of the page?

You will enjoy reading this book again and again, looking at the different characters that live on the pages and seeing how they react to the different situations presented to them as the story progresses.

It is a great book to accompanying any unit of work about government and society and will really help you to reflect on how you see the rules you live under.

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Don't Cross the Line!

So what else can you do with this book?

Read through story

  • What is power?
  • How is power shared in a democracy? How is power shared in other forms of government? Explore different types of government that exist or have existed.
  • How does power change?
  • What is a dictatorship?
  • Can people power overthrow a dictator?

Literacy

  • Rewrite this story using either first or third person – explore the difference between telling this story from two different perspectives
  • Could you add more speech bubbles to this story?
  • Could you take away the speech bubbles and write a story instead? How does this change the idea and tone of the story?

Follow on with books that link in with government – we are going to look at Once by Morris Gleitzman so watch this space!

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 Don't Cross the Line!

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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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The silver sea by Alison Lester and Jane Godwin

Let’s go down to the silver sea, come on, I’ll hold your hand.

A magical adventure written by Alison Lester, Jane Godwin and the children at The Royal Children’s Hospital , The Silver Sea, is an exploration of life under the sea, it’s magic and wonder.

Two small children slip out of their house and take to the sea – looking after each other as they explore a world they have never seen before. They splash with dolphins, swim with turtles and ride upon a whale. They explore the ocean with wonderment and awe and with their joint courage they explore the deep dark depths to find luminous monsters and the reedy home of sea dragons.

The two return back to land with new knowledge of the hidden world below and perhaps with a new outlook on life now that they know the many secrets hidden underneath.

Each page is filled with an abundance of colour through the collage of illustrations drawn by the children of TRCH.

We spent quite a bit of time looking how different animals had been drawn and coloured in and wondered who may have created them.

We also pondered about the names written on the end pages and talked about if these children were well enough to leave hospital yet.

This collaboration must have brought a lot of joy to the children who were stuck in hospital and it is wonderful to see projects like this taking place.

The Silver Sea by Alison Lester and Jane Godwin is a colourful story that you’ll love to read and all the profits will go towards helping the children at RCH to have more fun while their getting better in hospital.

What else can you do with this story?

VISUAL ART

– Explore the different art techniques used in this story: stencilling, water colour, wax crayon resist

– As a class write a story and create a collage to match in with the theme of each page. Remembering that the individual differences add more to the story.

LITERACY

– This is a sweet adventure story. Create a story about a place you would love to explore. Who would you take with you and what would you do?

– Rhyme. Rhyming books are difficult to create. Can you create a rhyming story about an adventure you would like to go on?

– Write a description of your favourite ocean animal. It may be one in the story or one they haven’t included.

SCIENCE

– Explore the different life cycles of sea animals.

– Learn about the life cycles of animals that live in the darkest parts of the ocean.

SUSTAINABLITY

– How can we make sure our oceans stay as beautiful as this one in The Silver Sea? Write down 5 things you can do in your life to help the ocean stay this way.

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 The Silver Sea

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Finn’s Feather by Rachel Noble and illustrated by Zoey Abbott

Finn discovers an amazing white feather right on his doorstep. Could it be from his brother Hamish who is now an angel? 

After the tragic accident of her young son Rachel Noble wrote to help cope with her loss and through this she felt inspired to write a picture book that would help others, especially children who are going through this process of dealing with grief. Finn’s feather is a beautiful and sad yet empowering picture book.

Every body deals with traumatic events differently and this book is one which will inspire hope into both adults and children who have had to deal with death and grief.

Young children deal with death very differently to how adults do and this book looks at grief through the eyes of the older brother who finds a feather on his doorstep and believes it has been sent by his brother Hamish who is now an angel.

Young Finn doesn’t dwell on the sadness of the feather but rather the joy this beautiful white feather can bring. He takes it to school and alongside a friend they climb trees, make a castle, play hide and seek and of course tickle each other.

The feather is a beautiful metaphor for the loss of his brother and shows that when we have lost someone we always hope that they are nearby somehow.

But although Finn feels joy with his feather he also wishes his brother was still with him.

As the day wears on the feather becomes dirty and stuck up in a tree but with some help he is able to get it back down and after this his  friends tell him to “Hold it tight”  – such a beautiful line to come from friends who are observing someone who is dealing with grief.

We can hold onto our memories of loss or trauma but we also need to see the joy in life.

The note written by Finn on the final page leaves a heart-wrenching yet positive feeling and shows the importance of talking about how we feel, supporting each other and allowing ourselves to feel how we do about events like these.

Finn’s feather did make me cry but it also made me realise how important it is to talk and connect through those hard times, let ourselves cry, let ourselves be sad but also to let ourselves continue to see joy in life.

Finn’s feather is a story to share with anyone who has or has not lost someone in their life. It is a celebration of life and a celebration of memories. It reminds us that just because someone isn’t here on Earth with us anymore, it doesn’t mean your relationship with them is over.

If you have a child who is dealing with grief I highly recommend buying or borrowing this book. 

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 Finn's Feather

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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Can reading children’s stories help us change the world?

Each week every child at our school has the opportunity to visit the school library whether it be during their class borrowing time or one lunch time when the library is open.

The books inside the library give each and every child the opportunity to visit a new world, walk alongside a new character or think completely differently to they ever have before.

So can these stories help us change the world? Of course they can!

Every book you read to your child, or they read to themselves helps them to look outside their own world.

Every time we laugh at a story we see how humour can help change the world for the better.

Every time we cry in a story we realise how precious our own lives are and how we can help others to be just as lucky.

Every time we look up something because we wondered about it after reading a story, we learn what is going on in our world.

Stories can help us change the world so encourage your child to keep on reading, read widely and read for a change.

Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh

Alfred had fought in the Great war, but his bravery was not part of the nation’s remembering. He was one of the forgotten soldiers.

A powerful picture book for children aged 7+, Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh highlights the lack of recognition given to Australian Indigenous servicemen who returned from WWI.

Alfred lived where he liked to live, outside, under the stars, beneath gum trees or by the fire. He lived free and happy as a gardener and labourer, far from home. When he signed up for war not only did he experience the horror of war but also the horror of returning home without recognition for what he did to save Australia.

Many men and women returned from war, scarred from the awful experience they had and many did not receive the support they should have – but to be forgotten would have added more insult to the injuries he sustained.

Indigenous Australians have had many injustices done to them since 1788

Rachel Bin Salleh has written a beautiful story and it really pulls at the heart strings. Children will have so many questions to ask and this is a wonderful thing. We talked about war and we talked about indigenous Australians. We talked about many things I didn’t think younger children would want to listen to, but they did because they saw an injustice in the world.

Samantha Fry’s illustrations add more emotion to each page of the story, giving more meaning to who Alfred was and what he did for Australia.

Creating stories that are told through picture like this are so important and we need to make more of them so that the mistakes of history are not created again and again.

What else can you do?

  •  Talk about war – be honest without too many details. Talk about wars that have been and wars that are still raging. Explore why they start and how they finish.
  • Talk about indigenous people of Australia, what happened to them and why. Look at the indigenous language map of Australia to see where different tribes lived and where some still live today.
  • Why were the indigenous people forgotten about?
  • Look at the different colours used on each page and how those colours make you feel.

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Alfred's War

A-Z of Australian animals by Jennifer Cossins.

Did you know there is an Australian animal that starts with X? 

And that many of the animals that inhabit Australia are endemic to it?

Or perhaps you didn’t realise that the only egg laying mammals in the world live amongst our shrub?

Well wonder no more! Make yourself comfortable and journey through the amazing alphabet of Australian animals.

On this alphabetical journey you will learn about an animal that represents each letter of the alphabet through illustration, facts and figures. Children will delight in Jennifer Cossins vibrant illustrations which resemble the real animal in focus.

We have read all of Jennifer’s books and have adored them all. Not only are the illustrations amazing, the facts that she provides are perfect for little minds. Tapping into the interesting facts and basic information, children will want to learn more about an animal that resonates with them long after you have finished reading.

The Orange Bellied Parrot was a favourite of ours and once we found out it was endangered we made a poster just to share with others the importance of looking after the natural world and helping those who are trying to save them.

We also loved the Sugar glider and my children were quite jealous of the fact that it had the name sugar in it’s name and it got to eat sweet things every day!

A-Z of Australian animals is a delightful book to read, use as a reference guide and admire the illustrations of. One for every library at home, school or in the community.

So what can you do at home?

  •  Explore one or more of the animals in this book. Find out which ones live close to you or a place you have visited.
  • Use a map of Australia to see where each of these animals live.
  • Write your own list of Australian animals A-Z and see what else you can come up with!
  • Read some more of Jennifer Cossins books and explore her illustration techniques throughout the different books.

The baby animal Book

A-Z of endangered animals

101 collective nouns

Teachers – There are some great teacher notes here

Continue reading

Unplugged by Steve Antony

But one day there was a power cut…

Can you imagine? A life without your computer? phone or tablet?

What would you do if you had to go outside, talk to people around you or explore the unknown outside the safety of your device?

Steve Antony has answered these questions in his creative picture book – Unplugged.

Blip, a little robot loves her computer and all of the different things she can do on it. She can play games, learn new things, sing, draw and go on adventures – what more could she want?

She thinks she has it all until the power is cut and it is only then that she realises how much more is outside and how much more colour it brings to our lives.

Blip loves being outside and with real friends  and even though she loves her computer she realises just how great outdoor play is and the need to do it more often.

Simply told through words and pictures, children can see the similarities and differences between computer games and the outside world. But they can also see how much better playing outside is. Most children I have read this to have agreed that outside is so much better but they still like their computers – which is fine but as adults we really need to get motivated and take our children outside, explore with them, play with them and teach them just how much more is out there.

Computers are great but they can breed jealousy (when viewing those perfect pictures) time wasting, inappropriate content, narrow view of the world, time wasting and loss of imagination and creativity.

Perhaps it is time to see what you and your children are doing when you are plugged and unplugged. Perhaps it is time to become just like Blip and see how great it is to be unplugged!

So what else can you do with this book?

LITERACY

  •  Write a letter to yourself persuading you to get unplugged more often.
  •  Write a letter to your parents, encouraging them to get unplugged
  • When Blip plays all day long there are no words between the friends. What do you think they might be saying to each other?
  • If you were to spend a whole week with your family without screens what would you do? Where would you go? Write some ideas down to share.

NUMERACY

  • Work out how much time you spend in front of a screen and work out a way you can spend less time in front of it.
  • How often do you move? Investigate your daily movement and how taking time off the screen can help your movement and health.

INQUIRY

  •  How are you like Blip? Create an advertisement to show a person, before and after being unplugged. You can choose a perspective to take this from – health and wellness or computing company.  Look at how advertisements can persuade us to do things that aren’t great for our health and see how you can create your own.

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas

Know someone starting school this year? Or starting a new school?

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas might be one to share with them before they start on their way.

This story was written in 2008, has won many awards and has had many teacher notes and activities written about it, so I won’t add to it all but I really just wanted to highlight how great this story is for young children.

This book shows the young reader how important it is to be true to ourselves and that true friends will see who we really are and will love us for who we are – not what we have.

We can teach our youngsters about popularity and how it is fleeting (despite the messages the media throw at us). Peter Carnavas shows children through this store the importance of  knowing who we are and how by knowing, we will find those who will support us through good and bad times.

We have loved reading Jessica’s box and it is one we will continue to visit in times to celebrate friendship or times when we need to re assess the difficult journey friendship can take.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Play a major role in your child’s education so you are aware of how they are feeling. Talk to them about school, read with them after school and be involved when you can.

– Talk about things you are good at and ask your child what they think they are good at. Tell each other what you are both good at. Do this as often as you can.

– For older readers – find times in the media when people have become popular because of one thing but then faded because that thing was gone or no longer popular?

– How is social media like Jessica’s box? How can we become popular on Facebook or instagram? Does this popularity really count?

How will you play a role in order to help your child thrive?

One small step

Worried that your vegetable patch isn’t growing too well and perhaps isn’t making a difference to the world?

Or perhaps when you only walk once a week instead of driving you wonder if it is really worth it?

And how about the times when you are given a plastic bag because you forgot your reusable bags and you really need to carry something home in it?

All the small steps add up to big steps and every small step will inspire someone else to make a difference. Check out these books and the characters who made a small step to inspire others. ?

Leaf by Stephen Michael King       

Amelia Ellicott’s Garden

The Last tree in the City

The Seagull 

Ada’s Violin

A bag and a bird

What small steps are you going to take today so you can make a difference in some one else’s life

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How to inspire yourself to change

At the end of the year we reflect on how we have gone this year and how we can change for the better.

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We think about the great things we achieved for ourselves and for others and the not so great things.

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It is a great time of year to inspire our children to reflect on the wonderful things they have done throughout the year too.

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However, many of you reading this blog live in the western world where life is easier than most. We don’t live in war, many of you will have enough money to eat healthy food, have safe accomodation and access to education.

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And for children the concept of how lucky they are is difficult to realise when they have never seen what life is like on the other side.

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I have come across some wonderful books this year that will show your children what life is like elsewhere and hopefully inspire them to make small changes in their lives to help those less fortunate.

This could be

 – Buy local products so children are not exploited. 

 – Buy organic or spray free products so families who live near farms are not harmed.

 – Invest in small businesses rather than large multi national companies.

 – Create less waste by making your own food, buying less toys and sharing products.

 – Send money to organisations who directly help those in need – not spend it all on advertising! 

And of course, read these books:

Feathers by Phil Cummings

The Thank you dish by Trace Balla

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood.

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup 

Can you add any more books to this list?

How can you be kinder to the planet?

There are so many ways that we act in this present world that is thoughtless about the future we are leaving the next generations, and I feel that at this time of year it is the worst.

I love Christmas, I love the food, the gathering of friends and family and I love the decorations – but I hate the waste.

Christmas can be done cheaply – which is wonderful for so many families but what about those children who made those cheap gifts for you in China? What about the families that live down stream from the factories where those toys were made that will be lost or thrown out in a couple of weeks? Did you ever think about that?

Bah humbug you say – yes, I know but we can act sustainably at this time of year too.

We can decorate our tree using decorations that will last twenty years: Try Biome for some great deals today – Free shipping for over $50!

We can buy gifts that will last the latest fad and more than one child. AND we can move away from the need to give our children lots of toys. We need to stay strong against the big companies – our kids will be happy with less – they don’t need more.

Christmas is a time for giving – let’s give back to the planet that has given us life and think about everyone else who lives on it, not just the ones who can consume and throw away.

These books are great places to start your journey on being kinder to the planet too:

The secret of black Rock by Joe Todd-stanton

Papa Sky by Jane Jolly

Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle Toft

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

One Thousand Trees by Kyle

A-Z of endangered animals

Rhino in the house

Rock pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver