Captain Jimmy Cook discovers third grade by Kate and Jol Temple

Mum said she was looking forward to hearing about it, but we were having Kale for dinner and she had to get things ready. So this is a little tip for anyone who ever hears those words: Kale is not a person.

Written in log format (diaries are for girls) children will enjoy the discoveries young Jimmy makes at home and at school.

Jimmy (or captain Jimmy Cook we he likes to be called) is a young explorer determined to make a new discovery just like his predecessor Captain Jame Cook.

He has to keep a log for his school project and takes it very seriously detailing any new discovery and plan to make his way to Hawaii.

Jimmy shows determination in collecting as many stamps from the ‘Wheat blocks’ packs to win the prize that will take him to Hawaii. He is sure he will be one of the first to discover its uncharted lands and weird new animals. But will his enemy Alice Toolie beat him to it?

Young kids will love this ( and their adults will too!)

Onto Jimmy’s next adventure when we get back to the library!

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The Squid, the Vibrio and the Moon by Ailsa Wild, Aviva Reed, Briony Barr, Gregory Crocetti and Linda Blackall.

The squid sucks in water and the current whooshes Ali and Mai closer and closer

Meet Ali and Mai , Vibrio fischeri Bacterium, who live inside Sepio – a Bobtail Squid. These three creatures need each other and live in ‘Symbiosis’, helping each other to grow and survive.

This story has been broken up into three sections – the first explores the life cycle of Ali and Mai and their need to find a safe place inside Sepio’s body where they can not only survive but provide the Squid with something precious too – light!

The second part of this book explores why Sepio needs the light organ to light up inside of this body as without it he will not be able to hide from hungry predators!

The third section of this book if full of facts about each character in the story, what symbiosis is and how bacteria create light. The fantastic thing about this section is that the facts are written for children yet done in a way that even younger children can draw some meaning from the pictures.

The Squid, the Vibrio and the Moon is another well written book published by CSIRO that gives all readers the opportunity to learn more about topics that may be otherwise too difficult to understand.

Giving the helpful bacteria (Ali, Mai), protozoa (perhaps too scary for a name), Spirillum (Spiri) and Haemocyte’s (I am the guardian Haemocyte) names , make the existence of these microscopic creatures real to younger children. When something can’t be seen (even for adults) it’s hard to know it even exists. BUT with names and personalities given to these life forms, you can talk about them in much more depth and explore what they do with more interest.

All children who I have read this book to have enjoyed it for a myriad of reasons – some enjoy the facts section at the back, others enjoy the story, some enjoy the sketches of the different sea creatures and of course many enjoy the whole book!

It is a book that can be used as a springboard into both Science and English lessons in the classroom. Mathematic skills could also be drawn upon with the comparisons of different sizes of each character.

Teacher notes can be accessed here: https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7852/#forteachers

Free Delivery on all Calendars at the Book Depository

Yours troolie, Alice Toolie by Kate and Jol Temple

We’ve had a lot of laughs whilst reading ‘Yours troolie, Alice Toolie ’ by @katejoltemple

You don’t need to have met either character before to enjoy the conversation between two classmates who have been made to write letters to each other because of a huge fight they had.

Letter writing between two enemies could not get any better!

The format of this story is fun – the font, the doodles on each letter entry and the honesty of how kids really see the world.

Letter writing may even make a comeback….you never know.

A great book to read and an even better book to use in the classroom to instigate some fun letter writing!

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What can you do with this book?

  • Write some letters between classmates or friends. You can use the post and integrate learning about the Australian postal system or just post the letters in a made up box in the classroom.
  • Investigate the best way to capture and store a ghost. Compare this to the method Alice and Jimmy used. Which way is better?
  • Learn about where and why emoji’s were invented. Create some that you think may be needed in the future.
  • What is eco glitter? Create a list of all the things you love using that are not so eco-friendly. Are their alternative products out there that will not harm the environment?
  • Do you think another letter writing book could come out of this one? Write down some future ideas for Alice and Jimmy if there was to be a second book (it may not be letter writing – could it be something else?)

War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield.

Dear Jan, I am a boy like you. I am not at war with you. You are, not at war with me. Your friend, Jan. 

It’s 1918 in England and the war is raging. John is a young boy who lives with his mother – who works in the biggest ammunition factory in the world, and wonders about his father who he can’t remember all that well, who is away fighting in the trenches in France.

John knows in his heart that war is wrong but nearly all the adults around him tell him that he must engage in the fighting by disliking anything about the enemy.

They tell him that this war could go on forever.

He writes to the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury asking for them to tell him when it will be over.

No answer.

The concept of forever is enormous for anyone let alone a young child. In 1918 ‘forever’ would have felt never ending as communication was so much slower and children were very sheltered from what they could and could not hear.

Jan cares for his mother who doesn’t know why she is at war. He wonders why no one stands up and cares about the foreverness of the situation.

He becomes friends with a man who everyone else thinks is crazy – but all Uncle Gordon wants to do is to help people to realise that not every German person is evil.

He meets a young German boy in the forest and tells him that he is not at war with him.

Jan is strong and determined yet shows the weaknesses of any young child. He shows that if we can see the world through eyes of understanding that perhaps these wars could never happen again – if we just see each other as equal.

The simple black and white illustrations allow younger readers to understand more about the concepts of war, love, loss and government in this book. The illustrations also show both the stark reality of war – the loneliness and desolation – and the peacefulness of the world when war is over.

War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield is a book for children over the age of ten to read as the concept of war, although told in story form is still heavy and saddening. We need children to be aware of what happened but we also need to be able to discuss the different viewpoints.

This book would also be an excellent book to read aloud in the classroom. It would ignite many conversations and debates and possible plans for the future.

War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield.

Buy here today:

War is Over

Lesson ideas here: https://www.hachetteschools.co.uk/blog/2018/11/04/the-big-topic-wwi-and-wwii/

Another book about bears by Laura and Philip Bunting

Sick of books about bears?

Is your library shelf piling up with bears eating honey? Bears going on walks or bears getting cranky?

Then you’ll love this book!

Teachers who are looking into traditional or fractures fairytales will love this book as a great springboard to encourage creativity and problem solving when it comes to bears.

Can you imagine if the three bears weren’t in the Goldilocks story? Would Goldilocks still eat porridge? Would the setting still be in the woods? Would there still be bears and beds and a scary ending?

Children will love listening to the fourth wall being broken (another great lesson springboard) and wonder why bears are often chosen as a lead role.

So what did we do in our classroom with Kindergarten?

Children chose to either draw a story without bears ( goldilocks and the three lemurs) or draw things bears do in stories that they don’t normally do (another great lesson about anthropomorphism!!!)

You’ll love this book – story and illustrations!

Buy here now – click image of book

Another Book About Bears

Australia Remembers: ANZAC Day Remembrance Day and War memorials by Allison Paterson.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

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Australia Remembers by Allison Paterson is a book written for children of all ages.  

Using visual literacy, young children can be engaged whilst the detailed descriptions of war time events will engage older children who will gain an understanding of why we remember the past on these days.

Set out in a magazine like format, children can grab information through real photographs, did you know boxes, maps and quotes. They can utilise the clearly set out chapters and glossary to find out what they need to know and engage in some fun activities such as making their own Anzac biscuits, poppies and war memorials.

Any topic such as war events often interests many children but there is not a lot of information about the war Australians were involved in that have been written for primary school aged children.

Australian remembers is able to engage all children through the easy to manage layout, short snippets of information and photos from the past.  This book would be a wonderful resource to have in the classroom for ANZAC Day and Remembrance day – not only for those students who want to know more but also for those who need to see – through images – what these events are all about.

In the Australian primary school curriculum these special days are highlighted throughout so having a resource like this will help teachers and children to have a greater understanding as many schools do hold a ceremony, but not often devote lesson time to it.

 

Why should I read this book in the primary school classroom?

With this book, students can read from pages and study the images through literacy sessions, participate in art creations mentioned in the back pages and use maps in geography lessons to gain a better sense of where these events happened in the world. It would also assist those older students who have difficulty reading more in depth books about the world wars of the past.

Australian Remembers by Allison Patterson is a great resource for parents and teachers to share with children of all ages. This book shows that these stories will always play an important part in our society and that by reading them, talking about people who stand in these pictures and remembering the amazing feats done, their legacy will never be forgotten.

Join in with the Book tour – check out the links below!

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We are together by Britta Teckentrup

We’re off to climb mountains, all the way to the top…Our friends keep us going – they won’t let us stop. 

We are together by Britta Tenckentrup is a celebration of love and friendship.  Through colourful illustrations and fun peek a boo holes, children of all ages will see the power of friends as the story travels along.

This book is a wonderful story to share with children as it highlights many things about self love and love of others.

It starts with the importance of our own self – our special gifts, dreams and hopes but it then shows that with one other and perhaps more than one other – we can achieve so much more.

Friends help us to see the bright side of life, they help us believe more in our selves and follow those dreams.

Young children will love the new person that appears on every page and the people shaped holes that are made with each page turn.

If ever we’re lonely, we’ll just say out loud: Let’s all stand together, one big happy crowd! 

We are together by Britta Tenckentrup is a book to share with all young children, one to pour over the illustrations together and discuss about how we feel about ourselves and the people who surround us.

Self belief and positive peer groups are such an influential catalysts in the development of our young children. Talking openly with children about their gifts and how working with others who respect us is important – and through We are together by Britta Tenckentrup, this discussion can be brought up so much easier.

So what else can you do with this book?

Personal Development 

Link this book with any Personal Development units of work in the classroom – talk about the gifts each child has. Discuss the important people in their lives who support them and make them feel respected and listened to.

Explore the people we are friends with – how their strengths and their weaknesses help us to become better people.

Visual Art

Look at the technique Britta has used to introduce new characters on each page.

Literacy

Explore the use of rhyme throughout the story and create a new stanza that could be added somewhere in the book to add more information about the importance of self belief and friendship.

Would you like Palm oil with that?

We hear about Palm Oil a lot and the devastation it can cause to rainforests.

But how do you talk to children about this so to empower them to make the right decisions?

Bornean-Orangutans-photo-via-WWF

Photo from :https://greenglobaltravel.com/bornean-sumatran-orangutans-endangered-species/

Check out this graphic that shows you how the big companies are still harming the environment with their gathering of Palm Oil : https://issuu.com/greenpeaceinternational/docs/final_countdown_pages_lr_greenpeace

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Talking about Palm Oil

  1. Look at the list of the big companies that are still causing harm to many rainforests with their consumption of Palm Oil.
  2. Open your cupboard and see if you have any products of this brand OR owned by this brand
  3. Together list alternatives to a favourite brand of yours – can you by it from someone else? Can you make it? Can you live without it?
  4. How can you raise awareness of this?

Here are some ideas:

Make a graph to show to percentage of rainforest left in the world.

Learn about the different animals who live in these rainforests.

Learn about the people who live here – what is happening to them?

Try and find some recipes so you can make your own cosmetics, chips or chocolate bars!

 

Big brands to avoid —–

L’Oreal owns: Maybelline New York, Garnier, Lancôme, Helena Rubinstein, BioMedic, Vichy, Biotherm, Shu Uemura, Kiehl’s, Soft Sheen-Carson, Redken, Matrix, Kerastase, Giorgio Armani, Inneov, Sanoflore, CCB Paris, Dermablend, The Body Shop, Skinceuticals, Ralph Lauren, La-Roche-Posay, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Nestle owns: https://www.nestle.com.au/brands

Pepsico owns: http://www.pepsico.com.au/brands/

 

3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie’s Adventures by Jacqueline De Rose-Ahern and illustrated by Sophie Norsa.

Charlie’s adventures in South Africa by Jacqueline De Rose-Ahern and illustrated by Sophie Norsa.

Have you ever wanted to visit South Africa but the thought of the long flight with small children was too much?

https://www.derose-ahernstories.com/

You will either be satisfied just reading this book or will be more inspired to head on over there after reading the adventures young Charlie has with his family in South Africa.

As you follow Charlie’s journey you will learn a little of the local lingo, meet the animals that live on the savannah, walk through the city, taste the local produce, dance to some music and of course help Charlie to solve the riddles in order to find hidden treasure!

After Charlie visits a new place in South Africa, he receives a clue which he needs to hold onto in order to solve the final riddle.

The characters talk about a map which they use to move around South Africa and I would recommend pulling out a map so children can see where they might be travelling to as they visit different places.

There is an added bonus in this story – a postcard at the back! Children love reading postcards and this one is blank, leaving space for children to write their own thoughts about this mini holiday!

Charlie’s adventures in South Africa is part of series of travel books for children (which I haven’t’ read, but would be interested in seeing as it is a different way to ignite interest in other countries and its people.) In Jacqueline’s other books he visits Australia, Hawaii and England.

Teacher’s will also love this book as it looks at a country in a different way – through the people and the eyes of a child. It will encourage an interest in maps and perhaps ignite some postcard sending!

What can you do in the classroom? 

– We looked at where South Africa was on the world map, then where is was in Africa.

– As I read the book I showed matching images from South Africa – to make connections.

– As I read I asked the children to listen to and look for clues.

– After we read the children in Kindergarten drew what they thought Charlie saw on his adventure. You can see below what they have drawn and written.

Join my facebook group – Growing Globally and socially conscious children – a closed group where we share ideas on how we can talk about big issues with young children through simple activities. 

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

And join in on the Book Blog tour running this week!

blogtour

The gum family finds home by Tania McCartney and Christina Booth.

Do you actually know how hard it is to find the perfect home?

The Gum family are in need of a new home – it needs to be safe, secure ,comfortable and of course somewhere amongst the gum trees – where will it be?

Join Tania McCartney and Christina Booth as they take the Gum Family on a rocky adventure around Australia, visiting many different and amazing geological formations in Australia.

They visit the 12 apostles, wave rock, Kata Tjuta and the Glasshouse mountains – just to name a few. At each place the look for the perfect spot for a new home admiring the different ways the rocks have formed and changed over time.

Children have a great sense of wonderment and awe and this book arouses just that.

After we read this book we pulled out a map of Australia, books about each place visited and jumped on the internet to learn more.

The book does contain a map, small pieces of information and real photographs but the need to learn more was inspired – so we did just that!

Many students knew about Uluru and the Three Sisters but that was about it – so thank you to The Gum Family – these students all now know a lot more about the country they live in.

I also enjoyed pulling out old photographs of my trip around Australia to many of these places and reminiscing about how I felt in each location.

So this is what we did after we read the book:

– We researched further into each location and wrote down some more points.

– We worked out why tourists visit here and created a new brochure.

– We discussed what might happen if some of these places crumble up? Get destroyed by human interference?

– We discussed what koalas need in a perfect home.

What have you done with this book?

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.

Sorry day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else can you talk about?

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

Sorry Day

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

Creative Arts

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

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

Buy this book now from Fishpond:

Teacher notes written by Vanessa

Have a look at the notes I have produced recently and ask me how I can help develop teacher notes for your novel or picture book.

‘The teachers’ notes Vanessa prepared for me were well thought out, comprehensive and completed in a timely manner. They captured the essence of Esme’s Wish very well and would make a valuable addition to any teacher’s tool kit.’ Elizabeth Foster, Esme’s wish. 

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

http://elizabethfoster.com.au

The Amulet of Athlone by Ruth Devine 

http://ruthdevinewriter.com/books/

Where do odd socks go by Yvonne and illustrated by Sunshine. 

https://www.tillyandtolin.com

Hayden’s Bedtime by Wendy Haynes and illustrated by Brett Curzon

https://www.inprintpublishing.com.au

In the shadow of an elephant by Georgie Donaghey and illustrated by Sandra Severgnini

In the Shadow of an Elephant

The worm who knew karate! By Jill Lever and Terry Denton

 

If a worm has no back bone, is it really that tough?

We are often told to aspire to be the early bird…what would a worm aspire to be like?

Is it fair to say that all worms hang out with bad apples?

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There are too many worm analogies floating through my head right now…I’m sure you can come up with some more – would love to hear them!

 

The worm who knew karate By Jill Lever and Terry Denton is a hilarious book about a worm who decides to become a braver and stronger worm through the art of karate! Which made me think….how can we help our children to build their confidence? And what do those worms in my worm farm really get up to? Maybe it’s a secret dojo I have never been aware of….

Confidence building in young children is vital. We need to set them up so that they can make it through life’s ups and downs at any stage. By reading books that have characters who make positive changes in their lives allows children to see what they can do when they are in a difficult situation. I know your child is not a worm

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but this book shows them that they can make changes – they can learn something they are unskilled in, they can change friendship groups, they can be different and they can make themselves the best they can be. Books are a great way to tackle those bigger issues and make conversation around them a lot easier.

BUT HOW CAN WE LINK THIS BOOK TO SUSTAINABILITY?

Get yourself a worm farm! Do you need convincing? Here are ten reasons why you need one today:

  1. Worm farms are relatively cheap and need little maintenance.
  2. All your fruit, vegetable and loose leaf tea scraps can do in there
  3. They provide nutritious fertiliser for your garden through their wee. No more store bought chemicals!
  4. They are pets that do not need walking. Your children can easily look after them. There will be no arguments!
  5. You only have to outlay money on your first purchase – worms do their own thing after that!
  6. We have had ours for 5 years and haven’t had to do anything to it so I would say they last for a long time.
  7. They do not smell – great lid design and ventilation.
  8. Easy to use tap to get rid of the worm wee and easily removed lid to feed your worms.
  9. No more stinky bin juice or changing the bin daily.
  10. Your moving one step closer to having a more sustainable household!

 

Literacy lesson ideas:

Think of other sayings like ‘The early bird catches the worm’ Create a story or picture to go with one of these so that the meaning changes.
 – Barking up the wrong tree

 

 

 

Colours of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft.

Bronwyn Bancroft’s poetry brings the vibrant colours to life as we sail through shadows,ferns, clouds and raindrops.

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Each page brings another part of Australia to life with shades, hues and patterns.

As you read Colours of Australia, a calmness sweeps over the readers, immersing them in the Australian landscape.

We loved reading this story, looking at the different shades of colour and wondering about the beauty of Australia.

This is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to link picture books to nature through Indigenous art techniques.

So how does this link to sustainability?

PLAY OUTSIDE!!

This book encourages us to go outside – everyone! There is so much research pointing us in the direction of outside play. We need to get more in touch with the land, the plants and the animals that are part of our world. Nature is important in so many different ways. See my blog post on nature play.

CREATE

Compare pictures of some wonderful Australian locations and create them in your own way using colours and shades like Bronwyn Bancroft has.

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Go to your local paint shop and grab some paint cards. You can find so many different shades of every colour and this can help children to discern between the different shades and how they wish to use them.

Look a local river, a river in the daintree, a river in a farming area and a river in flood through the desert. Notice the different colours of the river at different times and different locations.

Learn about Bronwyn Bancroft and her amazing artworks.

 

LITERACY

This book contains fantastic vocabulary to start drawing on the importance of synonyms in creative writing. Create your own synonym wall for each drawing in this book.

Touch and feel words – which words in this story make us ‘feel’ the word? Discuss and find more of these.

How do colours make you feel? What if you had synaesthesia. How would this effect how you ‘see’ colours?

 

Happy reading!

When should we send children to school?

This is a question that I am asked very often!

child-and-school

The main people who ask this are parents of children who are born between Jan – June – they are either going to be the youngest in their grade: Still four when they begin the school year or will be the eldest, possibly turning six before they begin school.

So, as  a parent, what do you need to consider for your child?

  • If your child goes to preschool or daycare ask what they think. They see your child in a different way to a parent so trust their opinion.

 

  • Consider if your child is ready emotionally. Do they cry easily? Do they anger easily? How do they solve problems? Although your child will learn these skills as they grow up, in order for them to be happy socially, they need to be able to get along with other children as much as possible. They need to be able to talk to other adults and deal with small problems without breaking down. Keep in mind that some children will always be sensitive – have a look at this article about overexcitabilities to see if your child fits into this category: http://sengifted.org/archives/articles/overexcitability-and-the-gifted

 

  • There is some new research that is shows there can be harm in sending your child to school early rather than sending them late. BUT in saying that some children will be ready early as perhaps they have an older sibling or perhaps they are socially ready, eager and ready to learn. Check your child is ready – don’t send them because you want them to go or their friends are going. Send them because they are ready. 

 

  • Don’t think that sending them early is going to mean they will be able to read within a month. Kindergarten is now a time and a space for children to learn through play. Lessons are not as formal as they used to be and children are encouraged to move, talk and touch things in order to learn. Children need time to learn and by pushing them to know their alphabet or sight words will just turn them away from their ingrained passion to learn.

 

  • In saying that – read to your child. Encourage them to sound out words but do it in a fun way. No threats! Yes, reading is a very important skill and once we learn to read we can do so many things BUT pushing your child can teach them the incorrect skills which can do a lot more harm than good.

I once taught a kindergarten girl who was an excellent reader but had no comprehension skills. This was causing a very big issue as she was slowly dropping in her self esteem – she thought she could read and had been praised but now there was something related to reading that she couldn’t do. She had to go back to basics which was very difficult for her. 

 

  • Talk to the school. Ask what they think and allow them to meet your child. They may have open sessions where they can watch your child interact with other children around them and also how they approach different activities.

 

  • Trust yourself. You know your child better than anyone else. Trust that you know what is best for your child. You have raised them to be the best person they can be so far and I am sure you can continue to. Trust that you know what your child can do.

 

  • Keep reading those picture books! Enlighten your child to the world around them. Let them see words, play with vocabulary and have fun looking at pictures.

Crusts by Danny Parker

Wow! This book is so much fun and so creative.

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Who would have thought a great story of loss, adventure, creativity and hope would all stem from some crusts of bread!

Crusts by Danny Parker and Matt Ottley is an adventure story which will inspire those of any age to think about how something small and simple can make a big difference if we put our minds to it!

What would you do if you had kept all your crusts from your childhood? Our main character, Jacob comes up with a brilliant idea and saves a neighboring planet from doom.

So how can we link this to sustainability? 

  • Think about what you do at home or at school with your food scraps? Food waste that is placed in a regular bin can take up to three times longer (or more) than scraps placed in a compost bin or worm farm. Compost bins and worm farms are very easy to come by and require minimal maintenance. Perhaps considering buying one or making your own!
  • Conduct a food experiment at home. Test how long food takes to decompose. Place some in the compost bin, some in the worm farm, some in a plastic bag in the outside bin. Although it is a stinky experiment try to do it for about three weeks. See what happens! You will be surprised!!
  •  Perhaps adults don’t waste their crusts but I am sure many of them waste those disposable coffee cups. What can you do with those waxy lined coffee cups? Or better still – could you buy yourself a reusable cup?

Coffee cup ideas:

  • Plant some seeds in them for the garden
  • Cut them down to make mini bird feeders.
  • Turn them upside down to make some mini scare crows (or chicken scarers)

Left overs

  • What can you make with your dinner left overs (before they go into the compost bin) a fun, yet messy activity! Allows for creativity and imagination.

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We made a little hanger for birds and possums. This was the tops of some burnt cupcakes. (Whoops, we were playing outside and forgot the timer)

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  • Visit places in your local area who collect excess objects that can be put to use in other ways. Reverse garbage is great and you can come away with lots of goodies for craft.

Social Justice

Learn about companies that put left over food to good use. 

Think about how you can create less food waste by being creative with leftovers.

Creating

Create your own spaceship out of food scraps – real or imaginary. Draw up the plan to scale and work out how you would stick it all together. Lots of fun!

 

I loved this book and I hope you have fun with it too!

 

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

One boy’s quest for a greener world, one garden at a time.

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The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is a book based on fact. The Highline is an abandoned railway line that people began to take back over and return it back to nature and open spaces for people to enjoy.

It is a poignant book as many cities, suburbs and towns are starting to explore how they can become greener, literally.

Many homes are using patches of their backyards for veggies patches and making the most of windowsill space.

We loved reading this story, not only watching the plants grow in strange places but also watching the people come out into their city to cultivate and enjoy the green space.

So what can you do?

Keep a seed diary.

Find some easy to grow seeds that produce colourful results – plenty of different types os sunflowers and everlasting native daisies are wonderful! The Diggers club have some great heirloom seeds on offer, worth checking out! A fresh legacy is also a great website for tips on how to grow a great veggie patch with your family!

Grow your own food.

I just listened to a great podcast by Laura Trotta with special guest Jessica Donovan. It highlights the importance of trying to grow some small amount of your own food. By growing your own food it gives your child a great link to where their food comes from, how long it takes to grow and how we need to help plants to grow. You can check it out here.

Plan your dream garden.

With your children get out your tape measures and scrap paper and plan your dream garden. Would you create a small maze out of lillypilli bushes? A herb maze? A stingless bee hive? A sunflower patch? Native flower garden?  A recycled water feature? The possibilities are endless and you can have so much fun doing it!

Do you work somewhere where you could plan a rooftop garden? If you do see if you can otherwise have some fun planning a rooftop garden on your apartment, townhouse or house roof or walls!

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Edible weeds

How about investigating edible weeds? I haven’t done it yet but I am keen to find out what we can eat in our own backyard. We don’t spray our grass and it’s only the chickens who peck and poo all over it so I would guess our dandelions and purslane and other weeds could be an added delicacy!

Have fun!

Part of growing your own garden is about having fun. We even planted some seeds in an old shoe as we lost the other shoe! Have fun, try something new and get outside!

Links

Mathematics

  •  Measurement – mm, cm and m.
  • Explore cm2 and m2.
  • Explore design with shapes
  • Measure rainfall – ml & l
  • Seeds per m2

Sustainability

  •  Grow your own food.
  • Link the importance of sustainable food growth but growing a variety of food and sourcing local food
  • Understand the importance of biodiversity and the need for different flowers and plants.

 

 

 

Mechanica: A beginner’s field Guide by Lance Baldachin.

How would our planet look if insects did not exist?

Can butterflies be beautiful and brutal?  

Are drones a necessary evil? 

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Mechanica: A beginner’s field guide by Lance Baldachin is a picture book for those who love the earth but wonder what is to become of it if we keep treating it the way we do.

It is circa 2250 and the earth is devoid of any natural life due to human destruction and consumption. However, mechanical creatures have been made to replace what was lost – though these are not always as kind as they look!

This very impressive picture book with detailed diagrams of futuristic insects, small animals and birds captured my attention immediately.

Children will love reading the details about each creature and looking at the intricate designs Lance has included.

There is a glimmer of hope in the Addendum – perhaps nature will always fight us and our consuming ways.

How can you use this book at home or in the classroom?

Science

  • With every animal in the story try to compare and contrast it to a real animal in your own country (if possible) (Links in to higher order thinking skills)
  • Choose any insect in our world and explore how that insect helps us to grow food, keep soil healthy or rid waste.
  • Create your own Mechanica creature. Give it a new name. Outline the details similar to Lance Baldachin descriptions.
  • Create the life cycle for these Mechanica. How is their life cycle altered when they turn bad?
  • What are drones? Explore the history of drones and wonder if we really need them….

Geography

  • Using a world map find out where these futuristic creatures live. Ask why they might live in these regions and not others.
  • What sort of Mechanica could live in your home town?

Literacy

  • Write a journal from the perspective of Miss Liberty Crisp. Outline her journey through the Orient, her experiences in Saraswati and her excursion to the National History Museum.
  • Write a persuasive outlining to others the importance of starting to take care of the world we live in. Present this in a TV advert – make it catchy, straight to the point yet entertaining.

Art

  • Create your own mechanics using recycled materials. Find old nails, bolts, cutlery etc. Not only are you creating something from waste but you are also alerting children on how much waste we do create!

 

Welcome to future Earth.
Despite repeated warnings, the environment has become polluted to such an extent that many areas of the globe have become uninhabitable, and wildlife is now extinct.
From the ashes, a new style of ‘wildlife’ is created. Wildlife that will not remain harnessed by humankind.

Welcome to the world of Mechanica.

Back Cover: Mechanica – Lance Balchin

Why should you read picture books?

Why read picture books #1

Your child will be exposed to rich vocabulary which in turn will help their reading ability. Picture book writers use a variety of language such as alliteration, rhyme, metaphors and similes. Early exposure to this eclectic mix of language devices will equip your child for their own language development.
Even wordless books provide children with vocabulary as they have to think about it and create their own words to match the story.

read

 

Why read picture books #2

Picture books expose children to world issues that may be too complex to grasp.

The aim of my blog and this Facebook page is to enlighten parents, teachers and children about picture books that focus on how we can live more sustainably and equally.

If you take the time to sit down with your child and read a book that addresses a topical issue AND have a short discussion or follow up activity they will start to understand these big issues sooner and on their own level.

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Why read picture books #3?

Every picture book exposes children to different ways to illustrate stories. Children can view painting techniques, ink, water pastels, crayon, pencil, collage and many more! We can view art works that expose us to different perspectives, different viewpoints and different techniques.

In many cases the art of the book is what captures our imagination.

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Why read picture books #4

When we read books by ourselves we connect with the author, illustrator and characters.

When we read out loud we connect with those around us. We listen to the voices they use to tell use the story. We listen to how they read the story and we can share our thoughts as we read.

Reading with our own children brings about a closeness that is different to achieve in any other activity. We can laugh together, be surprised together, wonder about the characters, question interesting things in the images and just have a cuddle!

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Why read picture books #5

Picture books encourage play.

As we look at the illustrations we are playing as we are seeking out hidden pictures, secret codes or minor characters.

We can use ideas we have read about or seen in a picture book to play a future game with.

We can talk to each other about what we have read immediately (as most picture books do not take long to read) and have fun discussing the intricacies of the story. We can talk about how we each saw the book, which characters we loved and who we would like to be.

Picture books offer hours of fun and it doesn’t all have to be sitting down!

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Why read picture books #6

 Visual literacy!
This is a key element in many school literacy programs.
Visual literacy is how visual information adds meaning to text.
Illustrations incite the imagination, they help us to get more meaning from the text and invigorate our creativity.
Deeper and more challenging questions can be asked through knowledge of how to ‘
read’ pictures.
So what are you waiting for?

Fuzzy Doodle by Melinda Szymanik

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

Science

Literacy

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

Creative thinking

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

Sustainability

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

 

Curriculum Links

Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072)

 

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

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

Circle by Jeannie Baker

Circle is another visually striking masterpiece created by Jeannie Baker.

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As a young boy watches from the confines of his wheelchair, we learn about the annual migratory path of the Bar Tailed Godwit.

The Godwit takes part in a truly amazing journey, covering around 11,000 km in order to breed and feed.

Jeannie Baker’s images capture the landscape that the Godwit has to come across, highlighting the damage the humans are doing to not only the land by over developing but also to the many migratory animals who rely on different areas of the world to take part in their life cycle.

Circle teaches us about the Godwit’s journey through imaginative language and beautiful scenery. It allows the reader to take into account the difficult journey that these birds need to take every year in order to survive.

We also see the length of time through the eyes of the young boy as by the end he is out of his wheel chair – yet still dreaming of flying.

This is a beautiful book which can be read by all ages and understood in many different ways.

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SO how can we use this book in the classroom?

Before you read

  •   What is a God wit?
  • Where do they travel throughout the year?

As you read

  • pinpoint the countries on an adjoining map that the Godwit visits so children have an idea of the distances between countries
  • Look for other animals that can be seen, note them so you can find out more about their migratory paths.

After you read

SCIENCE

  • Research a migratory animal which has been effected by human development. Find out how it has been effected and if the animal has made it’s own changes to the path or if it’s numbers have gone into decline. Compare and contrast the different animals.
  • Life cycles: Map out the life cycle of the Godwit. Examine the different parts of their life cycle and predict what might happen if the wetlands disappear.
  • How do scientists know where these birds migrate to?
  • Can you create a better way to monitor the birds migration patterns?
  • If the Godwit’s cannot land in China, what are the roll on effects for not only the Godwit but other animals or plants? Could it land elsewhere? Investigate the terrain and habitats needed by the Godwit. 
  • Would humans have a better understanding of the world if they still had a path of migration?

GEOGRAPHY

  • Human over development: Where in your own community has over development taken place – ask this question before you provide any materials.
  • Look at different case studies of over development and if any action is being taken place to rectify the issues.
  • Look into why we have National Parks and world Heritage areas and how they have protected areas. Places to look at include: The Great Barrier Reef, Tasmanian forests, Galilee Basin, Murray-Darling River, Clarence FloodPlain, Collaroy Beach (storm of June 2016).
  • Learn more about some great places to visit around Australia. Man made structures are abundant but so are the natural ones. How can we ensure that visitors to Australia visit both and why do we want to encourage the visiting of both man-made and natural?  Check out these top 100 places!
  • Do we need National Parks and World Heritage areas?

HISTORY

  • Research great migrations of the past they may not happen any more.
  • Do animals really need to follow the same path of migration?
  • Do humans follow paths of migration?

MATHEMATICS

  • Collect Data on the numbers of decline in chosen endangered animals.
  • Collect data on the numbers of animals that are no longer endangered and compare to the endangered animals. How have different animals risen in numbers?
  • Why are numbers, tables and data collection important to the survival of animals? 

LITERACY

  • How do images engage us? Use the images from Circle and from other Jeannie Baker books to look at how her artworks engages you in the story as compared to drawn images.
  • Circular stories – This book follows a path, a journey. Can you find other stories which follow a circular pattern?

AT HOME

  • Are there any animals that visit your house on a seasonal basis? Try to find out more about them. Keep a bird, animal or insect diary.
  • Create your own collage like Jeannie Baker does. Collect local bits of nature to create a scene which represents being outside to your child.

 

Jeannie Baker’s books are always wonderful and this one tops that!

 

 

Bogtrotter by Margaret Wild

What is a Bogtrotter you might ask?

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He is a delightful creature that lives in the bog – a gloomy, marshy, mushy bog! Bogtotter, written by Margaret Wild is a book that focuses on belonging, trying new things, playing outdoors, loneliness and discovery.

The illustrations by Judith Rossell are marvellous, really bringing to life the Bogtrotter and his feelings.

The reader steps through into the life of the Bogtrotter, watching him start off doing the same thing every day, not knowing how to make a change. It is through talking to other animals around him and picking a flower that he sees that there is more to his bog.

So how can we use this book?

  • Get outside more often. It is easy to be inside with all of the gadgets, toys and applicances but some of these can be used outside too! Grab a pile of books and read them outside, take a picnic blanket onto a small patch of grass and set up some games, eat lunch outside, take photos, pick flowers/grass/leaves! there are so many things we can do outside.
  • Learn outside – many teachers spend all the teaching time in the classroom. Is it possible to have at least one lesson outside? Start with one a week then build it up.
  • Try something new – even if it is something small, once a week. You are opening yourself up to new experiences which in turn helps your thinking and view of the world.

 

SUSTAINABILITY

  • In order to understand the world and the issues within we need to get out. We need to try new things, read new things and listen to others ideas. Ignorance really is bliss but there is so much out there in the world that by trying something new or listening to someone else’s thoughts actively, we can really make a difference!

LITERACY

Before you read:

What is a Bogtrotter? What is a bog? How will picking a flower change his life?

As you read

Have a set of word cards (see my store) out that can be found during the reading (you may like to read once without the words so children can enjoy the story). As the words are found, discuss the meaning using skills of inferring. Group these words into groups of your choice (verbs, adjectives, feelings etc)

After you read

  • Retell the story in your own words using the pictures to help. Which words from the book will help you to tell the story in the most interesting way?
  • Why does Bogtrotter only say ‘Ah’ (this allows us to think more, perhaps he only needs to say ah) If you were to re tell this story – would you change this?
  • Cycles: Draw up the daily cycle of the Bogtrotter at the beginning of the book. Add to this or draw another to show how his cycle evolved over time. Link this to how we can make small changes in our life to make a difference in how we feel.
  • What are the main themes here? See what the children can come up with. Ask them to give examples through words used in the story and images drawn.
  • Persuasive text: Why should we make changes? Why should we play and learn outside?
  • Link to Choose your own Adventure stories  – How can we choose our own adventures? Look at these great planning ideas.
  • Thought bubbles: How would we write this as a comic strip or a story which uses thought bubbles? Discuss how thought bubbles can tell a story and create one!

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

  •  Bogtrotter feels lonely but through meeting a frog, he is inspired to make a change. Discuss how children can make changes to their life to improve it. Write down a list of things they would like to change and a plan on how they can change it by themselves or through the help of others. Draw on the importance of community and that loneliness is one of the biggest causes of depression.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINKS TO CURRICULUM

LITERACY

Discuss characters and events in a range of literary texts and share personal responses to these texts, making connections with students’ own experiences (ACELT1582)

Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning about key events, ideas and information in texts that they listen to, view and read by drawing on growing knowledge of context, text structures and language features (ACELY1660)

Create short imaginative and informative texts that show emerging use of appropriate text structure, sentence-level grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation and appropriate multimodal elements, for example illustrations and diagrams (ACELY1661)

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Describe how respect, empathy and valuing diversity can positively influence relationships (ACPPS037)

Participate in outdoor games and activities to examine how participation promotes a connection between the community, natural and built environments, and health and wellbeing (ACPPS041)

Examine the influence of emotional responses on behaviour and relationships (ACPPS056

Recognise how media and important people in the community influence personal attitudes, beliefs, decisions and behaviours (ACPPS057)

 

SUSTAINABILITY

OI.5 World views are formed by experiences at personal, local, national and global levels, and are linked to individual and community actions for sustainability.

OI.7 Actions for a more sustainable future reflect values of care, respect and responsibility, and require us to explore and understand environments.

Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect by Rohan Cleave & Coral Tulloch

Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect is not only a remarkable read but it is also an extraordinary tale of survival and the efforts of Australian scientists to save a small insect. Jane Goodall gives a forward in this book also.


Believed to be extinct, these intriguing insects were found on a rocky crevice offshore from Lord Howe Island.

Children will love this book for it’s an easy to read story , detailed images and excellent facts.

This book will shed light on the destruction introduced species can cause and how even little insects play a major role in our ecosystems.

How can we adapt this book for our younger readers?

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Research another insect that is critically endangered in Australia.
  • Draw another endangered animal or better still enter this great competition
  • If the Phasmid became extinct how would our world change?
  • Have there been other instances where rats have caused problems or extinctions?
  • How can we raise awareness of endangered animals? Create an anthology of different types of writing so that anyone who reads the anthology will be brought in to the importance of the issue through at least one piece of writing.

 

  • CREATIVE THINKING

    • What if there were no insects? What would the world look like?
    • List some reasons why we need insects.
    • If you could be an insect – what would you be?
    • What are some differences and similarities between a Phasmid and a water?
    • Are bugs the food of the future? If they are how can we ensure that we don’t make insects extinct due to our eating habits?

LITERACY

  • As the primary reader you can read through the book, stopping to explain and question the words and images. Here are some focus words.
  • camouflage Nocturnal
    Exoskeleton Mottled
    adulthood Predators
    Melaleuca leaves Banyan Leaves
    Phasmid Lord Howe Island
    Extinct Balls Pyramid
    Scientist dedicated
    breed captivity
    Invertebrates Critically endangered
  • Map: Find a map of Australia and also Lord Howe Island. Look at where LHI is and the location of Balls Pyramid.
  • Phasmid: What is Phasmid? Create a diagram which children can label. What sort of creature is it? How do we know it is an insect?
  • Create a story – Children can create their own story about the Phasmid and it’s amazing tale of survival. Encourage children to take on a different perspective – perhaps we could learn about how it got to Balls Pyramid? How it felt when the scientist took it to the lab?

SCIENCE

  • Life cycle – create a life cycle of the LHI Phasmid using the book for inspiration.
  • Learn about how scientists look after animals who are critically endangered. Look at zoo programs.

 

 

Useful weblinks

https://blog.csiro.au/childrens-book-reveals-how-phasmids-escaped-extinction/

http://www.zoo.org.au/melbourne/animals/lord-howe-island-stick-insect

http://www.lordhoweisland.info/library/species.pdf