Follow me for a journey to reduce our food waste

Food waste is one of the major elements that is effecting climate change/global warming and it is something that we are not doing a lot about.

Wasting food is something that we all do every single day but it is something that we can all do something about every single day.

Whilst supermarkets and restaurants are major players in the food waste statistics, it is the average household that wastes the most.

Think of the wilting herbs and spinach leaves.

The half drunk bottle of milk or yoghurt.

The leftovers that you forgot about

And the fruit and vegetable scraps that end up in your landfill.

My family and I are on a journey inspired by a few different people but spurred on by Sarah Wilson’s latest book: Simplicious Flow
I Quit Sugar: Simplicious Flow

So wish me luck and join me as we boil our bones, slip  our banana peels into cake and make meals from things we once thought useless!

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The heart of a whale by Anna Pignataro

Heart of a Whale is a beautiful picture book to be read out loud whilst spending time pouring over the illustrations that make you feel just like you are in the ocean alongside the whale and the other creatures he meets along the way.

Whale is all alone, he sings his song so everyone can hear. Some feel calm when they hear his song, others cheer up whilst some drift off to sleep.

But Whale is lonely and longs for the company of another whale, he sighs but as he sighs the ocean listens to his wish and carries it away into the ears and hearts of some other whales – who soon find him and fill his empty heart.

The heart of a whale by Anna Pignataro can promote discussion about loneliness, the importance of family and friendship and how we support each other at all times.

It promotes the gifts that we all have and how by sharing our gifts we can help others in our community. But it also shows us that without close relationships sometimes those gifts and talents may not feel good at all.

Whale has a beautiful song but with an empty heart he just can’t hear it – it’s the power of others that can help us to see just how amazing we are!

Teaching notes

Life cycles and animals – Science

What do you know about whales? Are there different types of whales?

If we didn’t have whales what might the ocean look like?

Whales often swim around in herds – what does this mean?

What sounds do whales make? Listen to some different whale calls  – do different whale species make different sounds?

Personal awareness

If you had to walk around every day all by yourself – how would you feel?

When do you feel lonely?

How did the whales in each story change how they looked when they weren’t lonely anymore?

What are your special gifts? How do others help you with these?

 

Join my facebook page – growing socially and globally conscious children for some great ideas and teaching tips!

 

 

 

Digby and Claude by Emma Allen and Hannah Sommerville

“One autumn, change came to Main Street …”

 

Digby lives on a street that is going through a lot of change. He watches from his window an old crumbling building slowly being moved out of and taken apart, ready for new apartments to be built.

Digby is a child who live in the 1930’s and using his imagination, he decides to find a place to think about what he could build once inspired by the action in front of him. An old bathtub does the trick and he spends many hours lying there admiring the clouds and hatching up great ideas.

However, the next day another boy comes along – Claude – and together they start to build a cubby that they both can play, eat snacks and swap stories in.

The cubby gets bigger as the new developments start to rise up. They spend hours every day adding extra rooms and hideouts to their space – until Claude isn’t allowed to come anymore.

Digby continues to play in the cubby alone until one day some new children arrive – children that have just moved into the new apartments.  Together the magic of the cubby lights up again – showing the children that just a little bit of imagination can go a long way.

 

Ideas for the classroom and at home

How is an idea for a  book made?

Emma Allen talks about her book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkhPV8KgwKE

Community & change

How can you make new members of your community feel welcome?

Why is there change happening in this story? Is there any change happening where you live?

How does change to the buildings affect people? How does it affect the environment?

Who are Digby and Claude?

These children were able to play and there are not many adults in sight – why was this? Are you allowed to play alone? Why do you think this is?

Imagination

What is important about playing outside and using your imagination?

The Natural world

Many children live in apartments now – how can we encourage these children and their parents to play outside and use imagination more? How can buildings be designed so children are safe in common outdoor areas?

Design a cubby house that you would make from natural materials and old things. Label your drawing and outline what would happen in your cubby house.

Something for Fleur by Catherine Pelosi and Caitlin Murray

Have you ever waited and waited for your birthday?

Have you been left to wonder and guess what gifts you might receive from your friends?

Something for Fleur by Catherine Pelosi and Caitlin Murray is a sweet story about Fleur the flamingo and a special plan her best friend has for her birthday.

We had a wonderful time reading this story. The illustrations are full of life and the story is so sweet.

Younger readers revelled in thinking about the clues offered in each letter Fleur the Flamingo received. They loved looking through the illustrations to see what the different characters were up to each day.

This book is a great way to introduce the use of adjectives and the skill of writing a letter to someone.

This is what we got up to in the classroom:

We wrote letters to someone we thought needed cheering up or someone we had never met – a child in detention or a child in hospital. It was really lovely to see what students wrote in these letters.

I also invited students to choose to write clues – which was aimed at the more competent learners as writing clues can be quite difficult.

What have you done with this story?

Reece give me some peace by Sonia Bestulic and Nancy Bevington.

 

Musicians young and old will love this story – even if the onomatopoeia is a little too noisy for you!

 

Reece give me some peace is a fun story which will introduce young readers to the delights of different musical instruments and the sounds they make.

The story begins on a sunny morning with Reece’s mother enjoying some peaceful rays of sunshine…that is until she hears a ding, dong ding, ding, dong, daloom!

And discovers her son, Reece, playing the Xylophone!

From here Reece explores all different types of instruments and the sounds that they make – possibly driving his mother crazy with all the noise.

Reece give me some peace is a wonderful way to introduce young children to different types of musical instruments.

Readers can hear the sounds of the instrument, see what the instrument looks like and also view how it can be played.

Music can be seen floating through the air with illustrations by Nancy Bevington – some instruments produce sharp lines while others produce wispy lines – a great way to show young children how music can be felt without worrying about the musical notes.

Reece give me some peace by Sonia Bestulic has been enjoyed by all young readers and with the predictive text, “Reece, give me some peace!” this book gives young readers some sense of being able to read along with the story.

Music plays a vital role in our lives and the younger we introduce young children to the joys and wonder of music, the better than can appreciate the diversity of the instruments that can create the different sounds that we hear.

So what else can you do with this book?

Find some images of what the instruments look like or even find some videos of these instruments being played in different ways.

Create your own musical instruments out of tissue boxes, cardboard boxes and toilet rolls!

Explore onomatopoeia and the different ways we can represent sound with words.

And join in the blog tour:

Design

And my facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/educateempower11/

Or closed facebook group where we talk about big issues and how we can chat to children about them:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/sociallyconsciouschildren/about/

Freedom machines by Kirli Saunders

She was small when she heard about them…the incredible freedom machines.

 

The incredible freedom machines is a beautifully written picture book that takes us on a journey of exploration, creativity and adventure into the unknown.

The machines this young girl seeks out are hard to come by but with perseverance and patience she finds one that is just right for her.

Once found she can escape the reality of the dreary life she lives behind fences and boundaries and seek places that smell delicious, taste like happiness and feel like home.

The incredible Freedom machines focuses in on the importance of imagination and the ability to find places to escape to when reality isn’t what we want it to be.

When I read this to the classes at school we found that the issues of children in refugee camps was something that came through in the illustrations by Matt Ottley — knowing that many of them would have to use their imagination every day so that life inside these camps would not get them down.

We loved the richness of the illustrations as the main character escapes her home and explores the big wide world.

The incredible freedom machines is a book to be read over and over, enjoying not only the flow of the story but also the deeper meanings within.

Wisp by Zana Fraillon

One day, a Wisp flew in on the evening wind. Dust rose up in swarms around it, feet trampled it into the dirt, nobody noticed it.

Nobody, except Idris.

Zana Fraillon , author of the Bone Sparrow and The ones that disappeared –  has again touched upon such an important topic that needs more action – the people who have to live in refugee camps for long periods of time.

So many people flee their home countries every day in our world and most of these people end up in Refugee camps because they have left  everything they own behind them.

However, The story of wisp focuses on hope- hope that one day there will be more to life than just wire fences, tents and desolation.

A small boy by the name of Idris sits alone one day only to notice a small wisp floating around the camp, resting on those it passes by.

With each touch, the Wisp brings magic. With each touch, the wisp brings memories.

Memories get passed around on the wisp as adults and older children remember the wonderful things that had happened to them – before they became refugees and  lived in the camp.

But when Idris, the main character of the story holds the wisp close, nothing happens, as all he knows is life in the camp.

But Idris sees past this and  realises that the wisp for him can be a promise – a promise of life beyond the fence, a life full of excitement, adventure and love.

Wisp allows the reader to see that there is hope and with continued pressure on the government to help there people, someday they will all be able to make wonderful memories again.

So what else can you do? 

Join my facebook group where we talk about ways we can inform children and the wider community about the big issues facing us today:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/sociallyconsciouschildren/about/

Teacher notes: https://www.hachette.com.au/content/resources/9780734418043-teachers-resources.pdf

Visit: http://refugeecampauburn.com.au and book a time to visit what a refugee camp looks like.

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Act: Join groups that send books and packages to children in dentention: https://befriendachildindetention.wordpress.com

Even something as small as a letter can bring hope to a child in detention. 

Ask:

  • How can we give children in detention hope?
  • Explore other books about refugees – do these all give hope?
  • Draw your own wisp and draw what would be inside of it if you had to live in a refugee camp.

Amazing Australian Women by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer.

Twelve Australian women who have shaped history and all from different eras and different walks of life.

In the last two years there has been an increase in books about women who have made a difference in the world but this book is a little different.

Focussing on only 12 women and covering each state of Australia, the short stories written about each woman give us some information about where and how they grew up and what inspired them to start on the pathway that made them famous.

Each story is short and engaging so younger readers will enjoy reading these stories and looking and the vibrant illustrations that match what the woman looked like and what she did.

The book has also included a more information section at the back of the book to help young readers or their parents and teachers to use websites that are trusted to give them reliable information.

We especially loved the final page in this book which inspired many of my young readers

So ask yourself:

What is my story going to be?

What will I do?

How will I change my world? 

Amazing australian women by pamela freeman and sophie beer

Nganga by Aunty Fay Muir and Sue Lawson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Refugee Day

Today is world refugee day

RW-Logo

Refugees are a real, current and terrible problem that we have in our world and possibly one that will get worse if war continues, water rises in low lying islands of the world and famine ravages nations.

We need to help educate our children so that they feel empathy towards these people who just seek safety in a new land where they too can live a peaceful and happy life.

We need to help educate our children so that they can become change makers in our world.

Refugees in our world

We need to empower them to write letters to the government. We need to show them that refugees are good people who can add depth to our society. We need them to know that countries who are in a good place should be looking out for them.

There are many ways you can help children to understand more about refugees.

Download a great unit of work you can do at home or in the classroom

https://www.dropbox.com/s/anfyoef9kldf9lr/Exploring%20Refugees%20in%20our%20world.docx?dl=0 

And check these books out too:

Books that link to refugees

Stories make us Honest

 

The theme for stories this month, as written by Australian Children’s Laureate – Morris Gleitzman, is ‘Just admit it: Stories make us honest’

Stories make us honest.png

Many stories that we read have an element of truth to them and perhaps ask us to question our own actions too. Here are some prompts to help you think a little bit more about the truth:

  • What is the truth? Can it be different in different settings? with different characters and different times?
  • Do people really like finding out the truth?
  • Should characters always seek to find the truth?
  • Can truth be hurtful or wonderful? Or both?
  • Can you think of some stories where the character had to find out more truths about themselves before they could move on?
  • Have you ever told yourself a story to help you learn or cope about the truth?

Explore the truth through some of these books:

Out by Angela May George

The Bone Sparrow by Zana Fraillon

Room on our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

Feathers by Phil Cummings

Children in our world: Refugees and Migrants

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Continue reading

Missing Marvin by Sue deGennaro

Marvin didn’t budge from his bed. He was hoping the problem would disappear if he hid away long enough. But it didn’t disappear.

Bullying takes place in many forms and sometimes the bully might not realise how much damage they are doing especially if they think they are just having ‘fun’

Missing Marvin explores this type of bullying – one which may seem harmless , but really it is terribly harmful.

Marvin works with his friends at Baggage Handlers United and every day they play jokes on him. At first Marvin doesn’t mind but when they become more often and more hurtful, he doesn’t come back to work.

His friends at first have no idea why he isn’t at work anymore but slowly and surely they realise – jokes just aren’t the same when there is no one to play them on AND jokes are pretty bad when you it’s on you.

BUY NOW
Missing Marvin
Luckily Marvin musters up the courage to return to work and speak to his friends about how he is feeling. And luckily his friends listen to him and change their ways.

Missing Marving by Sue deGennaro is an excellent book to read to children of any age as it helps them to see that playing jokes on someone can be very harmful. Children can also see that being able to have courage to not let these things get you down is important.

We need to build resilience in our children for the times when parents and teachers can’t intervene . We need to teach them to move away from those bullies, talk to them or someone who can make them stop.

Bullying is a much more complex issue these days with so much of it happening online but by reading stories like these we can start to empower our children.

If children are aware of how harmful jokes can be and learn to be aware of other people’s feelings while they are young then perhaps the online bullying may never occur.

So what else can you do with this book?

  • Talk about bullying and the different ways it happens in your school.
  • Draw pictures and write words about how you feel when you have bullied someone or been bullied.
  • Explore pathways to take if you need to stop bullying happening in your school. Explore the school policy as part of this exercise.

EXPLORE THE PICTURE BOOK

  • What sort of jokes were played on Marvin and how did each one effect him?
  • Why has this book been written with animals instead of people?
  • There is a lot of blue in the illustrations – do you think this might mean anything?
  • Look at the pictures on Marvin’s wall – what do they represent?

 

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what else can you do with this book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kookaburras love to laugh by Laura and Phillip Bunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mopoke

Koalas eat gum leaves

I wonder who will be next?

So what else can you do?

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

Living sustainably in the city links

Need some inspiration on how to live more sustainably but less stressful? Check out some posts I have written about my journey in living a more sustainable life with my family.

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https://educateempower.blog/2018/03/06/book-worms/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/02/07/sustainability-and-parenting/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/01/31/lunchbox-musings/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/01/25/global-guardian-project-protect-our-bees/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/01/17/pegs-for-the-future/

https://educateempower.blog/2018/01/01/disappearing-acts/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/12/18/how-can-you-be-kinder-to-the-planet/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/12/20/endangered-animals-the-global-guardian-project/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/12/21/how-to-inspire-yourself-to-change/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/11/21/global-guardian-project-australia/

https://educateempower.blog/2017/11/17/new-zealand-global-guardian-project-e-capsule/

Third Witch by Jackie French

Following on from OPHELIA, QUEEN OF DENMARK and I AM JULIET, this is the third title in the series for young people that focuses on the reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s classic and enduring plays.

 

Third Witch is a cleverly told tale of the Shakespeare play, Macbeth told from the perspective of Annie Grasseyes, a young girl who is the mistress for Lady Macbeth.

Annie is not a witch but when her lady asks her to help her husband rise to become king she weaves magic through words alongside her mother and friend, Agnes.

Third witch shows us the power of words, perspective on what happiness is and how simple actions can mean so much to another.

Macbeth is a well loved play but the language used by Shakespeare has been lost on many due to it’s complexity and use of old English. I do love Macbeth but I have never been truly in love with the language used – this story opened up my eyes to the story and also another perspective of the so called evil and superstition woven into the original play.

Young readers will love this story and I think it is one to read alongside Shakespeare. Not only will it give readers another view on the story it will also allow them to learn why Shakespeare wrote the play as he has.

Themes of friendship, true love and family run strong through this novel as does the power of a single action.

Dreams, power and beauty shine out their true value.

Third Witch by Jackie French is mesmerising and one for any literary bookshelf.

You will have to read this book to find out why it is so important that we think about what we say before we say it, as we never truly know the effect it will have on someone else.

I remember by Joanne Crawford and Kerry Anne Jordinson

Do you have a memory from many years ago that is as strong as it was the day you did that activity? 

Can you remember the smells, how you felt, what you saw or ate? 

Written by Joanne Crawford and illustrated by Kerry Anne Jordinson, I remember is a beautifully told story that highlights memories and how those that fill us with joy linger within our minds, even when our day to day memory is fading.

We meet our storyteller, an older women, briefly and are quickly transported back in time to a holiday she had as a child.

She tells us in detail her family trip to the Murchison River – the journey in the car, the setting up of the campsite and cooking of damper within hot coals.

Jordinson’s illustrations bring these memories to life so much so that we can feel the heat, smell the gum leaves and hear the night animals.

The gentleness of this story shows the reader just how important happy memories are to an ageing person and how much joy they can bring. It also shows just how important storytelling is – the sharing and listening to of stories brings people and places back to life and sheds light on how we can move forward.

About 4 years ago I visited the end of the Murchison River – near Kalbarri but only spent a day there…it was amazing and I can only imagine the beauty of spending a week or two there would bring. The red rock, the blue river and the green growth – a spectacular place.

I remember by Joanne Crawford moved me, its a book for young and old, one to be shared and perhaps one that will inspire some storytelling around your kitchen table.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Tell stories as often as you can, make them up or retell about a time once had.

– Go camping or spend some time outdoors – entice your senses!

– Find out where the Murchison River is and where you could camp.

– Why is storytelling such an important aspect of Australian Indigenous culture?

– What are memories? Do we need them and if we don’t have them how does this effect us?

– What would life be like if we didn’t have any memories?

The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner

First there wasn’t a hat.

Then….there was.

The Pink Hat written by Andrew Joyner is a simple story with an amazing message. The issues raised in this story are huge and it has done in the simplest of ways – which I love to see in a picture book.

Andrew Joyner came up with the idea of The Pink Hat after the Women’s March took place on the 21st January, 2017. This march was taken up all around the world and it gave the world a message – women’s rights are human rights too.

We loved reading this story, following the hat and seeing all the different people that cam e by the hat, wore the hat or played with it. Each illustration, done in black and white – with pink of course really added to the importance of the hat and the people it made touch with.

As soon as I finished this story I was flooded with questions about why the little girl was marching and why women and girls do not have the same rights – still – as men and boys.  If my young children didn’t see this state of human affairs as fair – why does it still happen?

We need to raise the big issues with our young children so that they can tackle these problems and make changes for the better.

Women’s rights is a huge issue and still so many women around the world do not have the rights they should.

Thank you Andrew Joyner for creating this marvellous picture book. It will be one that I will share again and again – and I know all children will love it and understand the message being sent.

Some fun activities with your students and child

 – View a youtube video of the march and look at the different signs that were made. What do they all mean? Create your own sign that you would use in this protest march.

– Learn to knit your own hat. Crafts like this are being lost because of our love affair with fast fashion. Aim to make something from locally sourced wool.

– List the verbs used to describe how the hat moved. What other action words can be attributed to a hat?

– Investigate where in the world women’s rights are being abused. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Investigate if women’s rights are being abused in your country, City or local town. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Explore other protest marches that have been held on a global scale. Could you create a book like the pink hat to teacher younger people about this issue?

Planet of the Orb Trees by Barton Ludwig

A world that exists only to have fun without any consideration of how we can make a difference?

A world where you live day by day with the hope that destruction doesn’t come your way if you remain behind the fence?

A boy who does something about his and his planet’s future despite what others say – This is Planet of the Orb Trees by Barton Ludwig.

planetoforbs

Set in the future in an old amusement park, where you can have everything you want  – but this everything is just purely amusement rides and food – no trees, no flowers and really no life except for humans.

Planet of the Orb trees explores a world where people don’t seem to care about the world around them only care for themselves and their own outcomes.

Kai, the main character, is determined to reach another planet for a better life and possibly to help his own destroyed planet. In order to do this he has to leave the safety of the amusement park, cross a desert and work out different traps and puzzles.

My older child enjoyed reading this story and although there were some sections that needed clarification, it was overall enjoyed.

BUY NOW:

With large colourful pictures on each page, readers aged 7-13 will enjoy reading this science fiction picture book and possibly give themselves some time to think about how they care for the world around them.  Quirky characters abound and strange experiences occur but underneath this lively tale is a message – care for the world as if you were caring for it for others too.

So many of us just care for ourselves and out immediate fun – we act without thought and consequences. Kai’s planet is destroyed because of this and young readers will see the desolation of the planet despite the so called easy life the amusement park residents have.

Mr. Ludwig wrote “Planet of the Orb Trees” with hopes to promote ecological awareness, conservation of resources, and cohabitation and cooperation with animals.

Planet of the Orb trees has been published by Heart Lab Press and is available on Amazon.

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Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

Don’t look down don’t look down don’t look down.

The air felt thin. ‘Step boldly,’ Morrigan whispered.

Then she closed her eyes. And jumped.

This is one book that you need to read. It has been described as a mixture between Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland – truly magical and mysterious.

Morrigan Crow, a cursed child who is doomed to die very soon is swept away by a ginger haired man in a spider looking contraption to Nevermoor. A place where everything is run on Wunder, nothing is what it seems and even shadows can play games with you.

Morrigan has been chosen to join the Wundrous Society – but first she must make it through four difficult trials where what you think will happen is often the complete opposite.

Along the way Morrigan makes many new friends, discovers power within herself and learns to believe in the person she is – not what others have told her she is.

Nevermoor is one of those books that will make you stay up late and keep your heart racing as Morrigan and her friend Hawthorne embark upon each trial. You will never want to leave the enchanted world of Nevermoor and the Deucalion Hotel – and you will be waiting with baited breath for the second book.

The magic of Nevermoor will weave into your bones, showing you that magic can be wherever we look and that the power within ourselves is something we need to harvest and believe in in order to make a positive difference in the world we live in.

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend – a book for adults and children – and one to read now!

Communication with your child’s school

Research has shown that communication between a parent and a school is one of the key indicators to a child’s success at school. If there is not fluid communication between the two parties then key information is not passed on and both parties can feel a lack of support and/or mis understanding.

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I was recently interviewed about my views on communication and if you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask:


 

Q:   I am having difficulty with communicating with my child’s school. Can you give me some tips on the best way to do this?

A:  Of course. Communication between parents and the school is one of the most important communication lines in the school context. It needs to remain open and welcoming throughout the child’s education so that all parties are aware of each others needs, expectations and hopes.

So what can you do to ensure the communication remains positive and helpful?

  1. Communicate early – Whenever any issue arises that you think needs to be brought to the attention on the school do it early. The sooner they know about the issue, the sooner they can help your child. We cannot expect schools to be able to read our child’s body language so by you communicating to them via a short note, they can act.
  2. Forms of communication – Written communication is a great place to start any communication, as we do not always time to go and visit the school in person. Outlining your concerns via email or a written note can get the ball rolling on any issue at hand.  If the issue is one that needs more elaboration I would highly recommend scheduling in a face to face meeting or if that is not possible over the phone or something like skype. Talking to someone about big issues face to face (in person or computer) really gets the message across in a more amicable way.  If we only write about our problems words can be misread or details missed so try to make the effort to discuss in person.
  3. Active listening: When you are communicating with the school on any particular issue that concerns you, make sure you are actively listening. Don’t just listen to the answers you want to hear. Listen to the teacher/principal without thinking about what you are going to say next. Try to understand where they are coming from so you can respond according to their response.
  4. Read the newsletter. Every school would publish a newsletter at least weekly or fortnightly. Take the time to sit down and read it. Ask your children questions about items that come up in the newsletter and show an interest in what is going on. By knowing what the school is telling you, you are in a more informed position.
  5. Trust the class teacher. If you have any concerns please talk to your child’s class teacher/preferred subject teacher or year coordinator first. They see your child the most often and know your child. Taking an issue straight to the principal is not always helpful (unless it is one that cannot be spoken to with the teacher) and can make the classroom teacher  feel like you do not trust them if it is an issue that could have been dealt with by them.

(If you feel you need the principal’s support because it is a bigger issue or one the teacher has not dealt with after bringing it to his or her attention then organise a three way interview.)

  1. Join in with school life. Try to be involved in at least one school activity. This will allow you to mix in with other parents, talk to the teachers in a more social way and see how the school runs in a different context than just the learning classroom environment.

 I hope those 6 tips are helpful in you becoming a better communicator in you child’s school. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any further assistance!

Lunchbox musings

As a parent I am swamped with what we should be giving our children for school lunches and also the importance of how they look.

Really? Do we really need to worry about how the food in our children’s lunch boxes look? Not only is this more pressure on parents to pack the perfect, fun looking lunchbox but it is also setting up our children to expect food to look certain ways. This could lead children down the path of only eating carrots if they are sticking out of an apples with sultanas for eyes…

So what should you be trying to put in your child’s lunchbox if it is not only going to be healthy but also better for the environment?

  1.  No single use plastic. You can use sandwich containers, beeswax wraps and smaller containers to pack food in.
  2. Think you need packaged food? Try making your own cupcakes, biscuits or muesli bars  as an afternoon activity. Children learn about measuring and different ingredients through this fun – albeit messy process.
  3. Less meat – try eggs, avocado, cheese twice a week instead of meat products.
  4. Aim for more fruit and vegetables cut into manageable pieces  – these leave a better impact on the environment and have no packaging!
  5. Fill up a drink bottle instead of packing poppers or bottled water. We don’t need more waste when we have access to fresh and clean drinking water. Worried about chlorine and fluoride? Check out these products.
  6. Ask your school to minimise the amount of waste created by students by removing bins, encouraging a waste free canteen and waste free events.

Global Guardian Project: Protect our bees

I love bees and was very excited when I came across this module written by Global Guardian Project – Protect our bees.

The module is full of colour and facts and really engaged my children (6 and 3)

We learnt about a young girl who helps her family to make honey, we learnt about the anatomy of a bee and we learnt how important they are to us.

We grabbed all our bee books out and shared a few stories over the week (check them out here —-

Bee and Me

The Book of Bees

How to Bee

Being a Bee

And then we read the suggestion in the e-capsule to get outside so we decided – let’s go on a bee hunt! Armed with the knowledge we had learnt from the e-capsule we knew what to look for and where to look for it.

We wrote down which bees we thought we might find and went hunting so we could record the numbers.

As we wandered around our garden we discovered three types of bees, worked out where they liked to be and talked about why they went where they did.

We then drew some maps, coloured in the bee from the e-capsule and talked about how we can get more bees into our garden.

This e-capsule is inspiring and enlightening – without bees we would not have many of the fruit and vegetables we eat every day.

The Global Guardian Project is an inspiring group to join and one for children of all ages.

Head over to The Global Guardian Project page and quote GGPVanessa for a 10% discount.

Follow on Instagram and Facebook for inspiring ideas daily!

Gregory and the Grimbockle by Melanie Shubert

Oh my goodness – I will never be able to look at a mole on someone’s face in the same way again. Such a fun and creative way to start a story and this wonderful imagination continues right throughout the story!

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Gregory and the Grimbockle by Melanie Shubert is a self published story about a young boy who encounters a Grimbockle – a small purple creature who looks after humans by ensuring that the threads that tie us all together are never severed as sadness is something that they dislike.

Gregory learns how to help the Grimbockle and together they mend lost or broken Exoodles  (the invisible threads that hold us together with others) around the world.

Not only is this story is magical and mysterious but it allows the young reader to enter into a world that they can only wish existed (perhaps it does…..)

The Grimbockle is a delightful creature who is determined to care for humans who don’t seem to care about losing friendships or family members through lack of communication, worrying only about ourselves instead of others or just being too preoccupied with the latest toy or television show! He works tirelessly to mend the threads which we just wash away every day (perhaps less showers are in order…)

Gregory and the Grimbockle reminded me of The BFG – the Grimbockle speaks in a similar way to the BFG and the magical world Melanie has created was amazing.

This is a story to be read out loud to younger readers (8-9) or read alone with older readers (10-12yrs)  – but definitely one to talk about long after it has been read.

Maintaining positive friendships is so important and something we all need to be more mindful of in the busy world we live in.

See if your local library has a copy (or ask them for one) or buy your own here:

Booktopia