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:

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The lengths some bears go to

Bollo had had enough.

Every book he read was boring.

His friends told him to try picture books.

BORING!

His little boy told him to try books based on facts

BORING!

His grandma suggested he try audio books

OH HIS EARS!

But that was until he was accidentally locked in the library.

The lights went out, the door clicked shut and the place went quiet.

Bollo looked around but there was no one in sight, no one that is until the books started watching him.

One by one he noticed aliens googling their eyes at him, monsters waving their furry hands and a Mopoke hooting at him.

He crept closer to each book and noticed the shimmer on some covers, the sparkle on the pages and the magic smell.

He hesitantly moved his hand over shelves of picture books, rows of audio books and reams of graphic novels.

He heard stories rumble from within books on low shelves, fact reciting from books on high shelves and constant mumbling from magazines on the back shelf.

With a dash of colour here and there, Bollo found books that were beyond boring. He found books that would transport him to another time, books that would teach him things he never knew possible and books that would give him ideas on how he could change the world.

And so when the lights came back on and a friendly hand picked him up, Bollo thought  that  just perhaps, books were not so boring.

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Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop

Some dads cook sausages.

Some dads cook pasta.

My dad cooks spicy, dicey stew.

And then our adventure with the delightful Meeka begins.


Meeka the sweet blue bird, hangs around with a father and daughter who cook at the market.

Meeka not only loves helping cook the heavily scented tagines through his magical song but he also loves making friends and tasting the delights from the other market stalls.

But we soon learn that perhaps all of these treats are not so good for a little birdy body…..

—-

Meeka is a delightfully told story by Suzanne Barton about not only a father-daughter relationship but also about the care we can give to natures’ smaller creatures. Throughout this story we also feel the care of the market stall owner community when little Meeka cannot be found.

Community love is something that perhaps many of us do not experience in our inner city life or perhaps even rural isolation but within this story it just shows that by taking part in small community activities such as the markets, we can make friends and feel a sense of belonging just through simple activities such as cooking, eating and chatting.

The father and daughter show love through cooking and cleaning together, talking to other stall owners, customers and singing with Meeka.

Anil Tortop’s illustrations are done in pastel colours full of love. We can feel the happiness oozing from the pages, we can sense the love the father and daughter have for each other and the care they have for Meeka. The illustrations really bring this story to life and show not only the immediate characters but all of the extra people who make their lives complete.

Meeka is a self published book by Bluebell books and was crowdfunded by around 100 people. Without the support of these people I may have never been able to share this lovely story which just goes to show that as budding authors, writers should never give up on a story that they feel will make a difference to our world.


Meeka by Suzanne Barton and Anil Tortop is a heart warming read and one to share. The qualities of care, kindness, helping others and joy are all the traits we want to see in our children and through this story we can show our children how important they are.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Are there any market places near you? Plan a family outing to a farmer’s markets.

– What do you love to cook? Choose a favourite recipe and cook this with someone you love. Explore the senses that light up as you cook – smells, tastes, sounds, sights and touch.

– Take a walk into your backyard or local park and see the different birds that live nearby. Can you watch what they eat? How might humans be effecting the birds diets?

Take part in the national bird watch count.

– Explore how to make Tagines, crusty bread, donuts and toffee!

– Suzanne Barton uses rhyme to describe the father’s cooking, toffee and nectar. Can you create your own rhymes to describe your favourite food?

 

And check out Bluebell books to buy your own copy!

 

 

2017 Environment Award for Children’s literature

It’s on again – the Wilderness society’s Environment Award for Children’s literature. The shortlist is wonderful and I have been lucky enough to review some of these great books.

These picture books are all gateways to inspire your young reader to take action in the world they live in. These books also allow your children to explore these big issues of animal conservation, living sustainably and respecting the indigenous culture without fear or worry.

We need to help our children (and ourselves) to understand the big issues but not get stressed about it.

We need to feel that there are things we can do in order to make our world a better place. So by allowing children to read picture books they can explore what other characters are doing and feel that they can do this too.

The winner will be announced on the 12th August so keep your eyes and ears open!

 

Picture fiction
Circle by Jeannie Baker
The Cassowary’s Gift by Pam Skadins and Kathryn Lovejoy
Echidnas Can’t Cuddle by Nieta Manser and Lauren Merrick
Chooks in Dinner Suits by Diane Jackson Hill and Craig Smith

Non-fiction
Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks by Gina M. Newton
Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy
Desert Lake by Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli

Fiction
Red-tail Recovery by Emma Homes
Rainforest Camp: Juliet Nearly a Vet by Rebecca Johnson
Squishy Taylor and the Tunnel of Doom by Ailsa Wild and Ben Wood

Goodbye to the plastic bag

Finally – Woolworths have woken up and possibly started to take lead in the war on waste – something they should have done a long time ago!

Need some books to inspire why we need to #banthebag?

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Here is the link to the article: Click here

If you haven’t been paying attention there have been numerous petitions going around about banning the bag under the hashtag #banthebag with thousands of signatures being added every day.

Woolworths and Coles have up to this point placed the use of the plastic bag back on the consumer – saying that they want to give consumers the choice – but many consumers will never change unless they are made to, convenience of the plastic bag is just too easy. It is great to see that Woolworths have now stepped up and said the single use plastic bag is on the way out and more durable plastic bags and the even better option of hessian will be on offer.

However – We need to make sure that we don’t fall into the trap of always buying the reusable plastic bag as they too have a shorter life expectancy. We need to remember to bring our reusable bags – preferably material that is long lasting (hessian is a great option) so that we are not always purchasing bags out of convenience and forgoing the extra 15 cents per bag.

BUT WHAT ABOUT OUR BIN LINERS? I hear you cry…

Here are a few options:

  •  Line your bin with newspaper or any strong scrap paper.
  •  Get yourself a compost bin, worm farm and/or chickens so you have little or no scraps in the bin.
  • Buy less products with plastic rubbish or recycle the plastic at redcycle points.
  • Nappies – make the switch to cloth nappies and washable wipes
  • Menstrual products – make the switch to a menstrual cup and washable pads!
  • Or check out biome for some great biodegradable bags.

 

Grandpa’s BIG adventure by Paul Newman

Grandpa’s BIG adventure by Paul Newman and illustrated by Tom Jellett is a story of adventure told by a grandfather to his grandson – and what a great story he tells!


Grandpa is teaching his grandson how to swim (and his grandson is a little apprehensive like many young swimmers are) and to help ease him into the water he tells him of a great adventure he once had when he swam around the world.

The story grandpa tells is amazing and one which we all want to believe in, even when he tells of the time he met the Prince of Whales!  The illustrations highlight the wonderful adventure with brilliant colours and quirky illustrations and tell more of the story to a young readers eyes.

If we all had a grandpa like this who ignited imagination we would never fear anything as we would know that someone has gone through these emotions before – such an important message for young children.

What can you do with this story? 

Geography ~ Numeracy ~Literacy

  • As you read this story pull out a map of the world and look where you could swim to.
  • Look at all of the different bodies of water in the world.
  • Where do people swim? Where don’t people swim? Work out reasons why! 

 Numeracy 

  • Measure distances between countries and bodies of water.
  • Pose problems – if grandpa swam 1km an hour, how long would it take him to swim to New Zealand from Australia? 

 Self awareness 

  • Can you tell a tall story that would help encourage someone?
  • Do you think grandpa did any of the things in this story?

Literacy

  • Look at the inside back and front covers – what else did grandpa do whilst on his adventure? Can you add some extra tales to this story?
  • How do the illustrations change the meaning of the text? Read this book without looking at the pictures – ask students to tell you what they can see in their minds and then show them the image. Give students a sentence (or they create their own) where the sentence can have more than one meaning. 

Word play and extension 

  • Idioms – there are so many wonderful idioms in this story, try and find them! Then explore some more ambiguous sentences and draw your own illustrations. 

Two Summers by John Heffernan and Freya Blackwood

Two Summers by John Heffernan and Freya Blackwood is a moving and informative story told through the eyes of a young boy who lives on a farm through abundance and scarcity.


Nature rules the lives of so many whose livelihood depend on the great cycles of nature causing great joy and also great distress.

As most of the population live in cities and suburbs of those cities we really need to take the time to appreciate what goes on on those farms and how much weather patterns plays a role in what the farmers can and can’t do with produce and live stock.

The young boy in this story is waiting for his friend Rick to come and visit him again over summer and is making comparisons to last year when  the river flowed, the green grass, the number of animals around and the extra time they have to put into the farm when the grass isn’t there for the animals to feed on. He hopes that perhaps Rick will bring some rain with him.

Two Summers is a beautifully written book with soft and emotive illustrations. You can feel the emotions of the family through their daily life on the farm and begin to understand what farming life is like when times are tough.

So how can you link this book with your children and family to make more meaning? 

Geography: Taking a trip to the countryside is so important but if it can’t be done there are many local farms that are often within an hours drive of a major city.

Take some time to see where your food comes from and learn how the amount of rain, the fluctuations in temperature and the pressure from large multinationals plays a role on the lives of the people who provide food for us.

English: Look deeper into perspective – how would you feel if you lived on a farm? How does this boy feel?

Science: Look at the rainfall and temperatures of a large farming area where your food comes from. How do you think this climate effects produce?

Out of the Blue by Alison Jay

Out of the Blue by Alison Jay is a stunning wordless picture book which draws you into each image, searching for stories within stories.

A young boy lives in a lighthouse and spends his days beach combing – where he meets a young girl and together they play until a storm rolls in.

The boy retreats to his lighthouse home, to only find once awakening, that a giant octopus has emerged from the storm and is stranded on the beach – alive but tangled in old netting.

The boy and girl rescue the octopus along with other caring beach goers and release it back into the sea to all of the other sea creatures.

No words are needed for this story to make you feel warm with hope, blue with sadness and energised with joy. The illustrations allow your mind to wonder throughout the story and long after it has been read.

Take your time to read this story again and again – and draw fact from the back pages to learn more about the creatures of the ocean and how we can take better care of them.

So where to from here?

SUSTAINABILITY

  • The Ocean Clean up is an amazing company who are working on creating an eco friendly way to clean up the ocean by removing plastic bags that lie around in the ocean, harming wildlife and their habitat.
  • Investigate organisations which act to look after the ocean.
  • Should plastic bags be banned? Debate this – look at the pros and cons and work out why large companies are reluctant to ban them.
  • Visit the beach or a local waterway and see how much plastic you can find while you are there. Categorise the plastic – what is turning up the most? What state is the plastic in? How might these pieces of plastic be harming wildlife (links to numeracy: graphs and creating categories)

SCIENCE

  • Investigate ocean animals that live in the deeper parts of the ocean. What do they look like? How are their survival techniques different from animals who live on the upper levels of the ocean?
  • Have there been occasions where a deep sea creature really has appeared on the beach out of the blue?

LITERACY

  • Rewrite this story from the octopuses point of view or even the little girls point of view.

Gwendolyn by Juliette MacIver

img_2515Gwendolyn by Juliette MacIver and Illustrated Terri Rose Baynton ( ABC books.) is a playful story about  a penguin who lives in the jungle very happily. She loves the weather, the colour and the friends and she is always very optimistic until she realises that she really wants to be a penguin in the Antarctic.

Despite her jungle friends trying to change her mind, she is very determined to see her old ‘real’ home and eventually arrives in Antarctica.

Gwendolyn is excited by living back in Antarctica and meeting many different family members but soon realises the jungle is the place for her and that she can be different  – and it’s ok.

This book highlights the importance of optimism and friendship. It also looks at the fact that anywhere can be out home – as long as we are happy and loved.

This is a great book to read to children who may experience self doubt. Trying new things can be a scary thought but with encouragement and self belief, we can do anything!

Gwendolyn!

Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Elf is another humorous tale written by Aaron Blabey of a pug called pig and his misguided ways.

Pig is very self centred and only thinks of himself and the wonderful gifts he will be getting from Santa. There is no Christmas spirit in Pig and his wish list is metres long! (and quite entertaining). Luckily for the reader, Pig’s selfish ways are dealt with in a humorous fashion with the word BUM getting a good laugh at!

Now Pig the Elf is by no means a book about sustainability or eco living BUT it made me think about how we can get very caught up in what we want for Christmas!

We need to encourage children not to get caught up in the material side of Christmas and this can be tricky with advertisements ramping up, toy catalogues in letterboxes and other children talking about what they want.

Rather than not giving presents (which is quite harsh at this time of year!) try to discuss how we can have a more waste free christmas. There are so many fun ways in which you can create gifts that have a lot more meaning.

  •  Make your own advent calendar
  •  Make your own bath bombs
  • Make your own christmas cards
  • Buy activities rather than gifts (movie tickets, theatre, museums etc)
  • Plant some living gifts
  • Give a book! 
  • Make your own wrapping paper out of scrap paper.
  • Give an eco gift – backyard chooks, worm farm or compost bin!
  • Donate to a charity which helps others or the environment.

 

A change in mindset is possible and I am sure even Pig the Elf could change his mindset if someone sat down with him and helped him to reflect on himself……but then we wouldn’t have anymore humorous tales from Aaron Blabey for next year, would we?

Bee and Me by Alison Jay

 ~ A story about friendship ~

Have you ever read a book without words? Some people may find this difficult as it opens up many possibilities, different interpretations and imagination. But it is something we need to introduce ourselves and our children to – as just because the words are not on the page does not mean they are not there.

I have always loved books without words as you can decide what happens on each page and look more closely at the illustrations which can tell us so much more.


Bee and Me  by Alison Jay is set in a bustling city of cars, trucks, people, shops and high rise buildings but no flowers.

A little girl is frightened by a bee who lands on her windowsill but luckily rather than swat it with the fly swatter she looks after the exhausted insect and sends it on it’s way.

The bee returns in need of more care and the two form a beautiful friendship.

The double page of play between the girl and the bee is wonderful to sit and stare at with your child. Talk about what they are doing together and the emotions they are feeling as they spend wonderful moments together.

The bee soon realises that although he has the girl – he longs for flowers. So together they embark on a magical journey to find flowers, seeds and more green to the dull city.

Bee and Me warmed my heart – the friendship between the two is infectious and the message about the importance of bees is also taught – which is vital as so many cities are lacking bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects due to lack of flowers, plants and green!

So what can you do at home or at school with this book?

Sustainability

  • Have a look around your home and see what would entice any type of insect to your area? all insects are beneficial and attracting them to something they can live off or eat is important. It’s better they live off the plants than things in your house!
  • PROJECT: How can we provide the best home for attracting bees? Investigate what the bees (local to your area) need. Draw up a plan of what the hive would look like, where it should be placed, what conditions it needs to attract bees and to survive. (This project includes outcome links to mathematics, literacy, science and geography)
  • Alison Jay has left a parting note at the back of her book about the beneficial flowers you can plant in your garden. Herbs are an easy plant to start with as they can be grown in small planter boxes on windowsills – give rosemary, thyme or mint a go.
  • It is important that you find out about the beneficial flowers that help bees in your area too. Australian stingless bees love:

 

Abelia x grandiflora Abelia
Buddleja * Butterfly Bush
Callistemon  Bottlebrush
Eucalyptus  Gum Blossom
Grevillea Spider Flower
Lavandula Lavender
Leptospermum Tea Tree
Melaleuca Honey Myrtle
Westringia Rosemary
Many Varieties Daisies

 

Literacy

  • Visual Literacy – Books without pictures open a myriad of possibilities. One activity to try is to tell the story from the bee’s perspective and then the girls. Compare the two stories – compare the emotions, the goals and the thoughts of the two characters.
  • Find some more books that have bees in them – you’ll bee surprised! Do these stories all have a similar message to tell?
  • Compare scientific literature to children books that are on the topic of bees. Why do we need both types of literature out there to understand the need for bees in our world? Create your own bee themed picture book based on some scientific literature.
  • Create your own story about your adventure with a bee. Which flowers would you like to visit? Divide a page into four sections and draw a series of pictures that show what you would like to do with a bee to make sure there are enough flowers, fruits and vegetables in the world.

SCIENCE

How is honey used in our lives apart from to eat? Investigate the different properties of honey and how it is used in a myriad of products!

GEOGRAPHY

Where are bees located? What type of environment do they need to thrive? Create a honey bee and a stingless bee map of Australia.

NUMERACY

Why are honey bee hives made out of hexagonal shapes?

Why do stingless bee hives spiral shaped?

Investigate the different shapes of bee hives across the globe and why they are this shape. Could they be another shape? Investigate if there is a better way to keep honey in a hive.

Spark by Adam Wallace

Spark by Adam Wallace is a captivating tale of a spark building into a consuming fire. It has been brilliantly illustrated by Andrew Plant, making the reader feel that they are moving with the fire on it’s destructive journey.
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Buy Spark Spark

Throughout the story, vibrant adjectives and verbs leap out of the page along with personification at every turn – it really feels like the spark is alive

The wind was meant to be my friend but it just laughed and dragged me on.

As I read through the story I felt a relationship grow between myself and the spark  – I wanted to follow it and find out what it became and where it went . As it built up into a raging fire, it expresses how it feels and how things around it feel – giving life to everything it touches.

The story moves at a fast pace, leaving the reader burnt out and deflated towards the end but with one last page there is hope – and the knowledge that fire can bring about new life.

So how does this link to sustainability and the environment?

SUSTAINABILITY

Do we need bushfires? forest fires? any type of fire in a natural landscape?

Investigate which types of plants and animals rely on fire for their life cycle.

Investigate bushfires of the last 5 years in one particular area. How have they been started? What have they destroyed? Has the land regenerated?

How much of the air pollution in the world is caused by burning trees?

Investigate slash and burn methods in some developing countries – how does this effect the soil quality? air quality and livelihood of the people?

  • All life forms, including human life, are connected through ecosystems on which they depend for their wellbeing and survival.
  • Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.
  • Designing action for sustainability requires an evaluation of past practices, the assessment of scientific and technological developments, and balanced judgements based on projected future economic, social and environmental impacts
  • World views that recognise the dependence of living things on healthy ecosystems, and value diversity and social justice, are essential for achieving sustainability.

LITERACY

Personification – explore the use of personification throughout this story. ( Just  a few to start you – tickled trees, wind whispered, chased animals, skipping and sprinting together, breathing in the bush, hauled through the undergrowth, thrown high, fear surged ). How does personification change the feelings you have towards bush fires? Choose something that is in the Australian bush and personify it! Allow children to investigate different trees or flowers , animals or insects.

Point of View – Could this story be written from the wind’s point of view? Why does writing it from the fire’s point of view change how we feel towards a bush fire?

The end page – How does this change how you feel towards the story? How would you feel without it? Create your own story where the view of the story is changed on the last page.

Thinking – How did the Spark begin? Use knowledge from the story to work this out and create a earlier chapter to the story. How would a spark start in 2016? 1916? 1616? 20000BC? 50000BC?

Visual literacy – why are some pages without words – how do these set the mood? How has the style of the illustrations affected the mood of the story? Which page do you like the best – how does it make you feel?

ACELT1611:Understand, interpret and experiment with sound devices and imagery, including simile, metaphor and personification, in narratives, shape poetry, songs, anthems and odes
(ACELY1670)(ACELA1483)

GEOGRAPHY

Australian has a lot of bushfires, mostly throughout summer. What is a bushfire? Do other countries have bush fires?

Do we need bushfires? Investigate the history of bushfires throughout white history but also if the Indigenous people used fire to help the land.

Who helps out in bushfires? Investigate the rural fire service, fire fighters and volunteers in Australia who help out when it comes to bush fires.

The influence of the environment on the human characteristics of a place (ACHGK028)The impact of bushfires or floods on environments and communities, and how people can respond (ACHGK030).

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I’ve got nits! by Mike Brownlow

I’ve got nits by Mike Brownlow is a great book to read to your children when they have nits!


I found it a fun read but it also put my daughter at ease – which was what I really wanted. She was quite worried that she had ‘bugs’ in her hair but after reading this book she could see how easy they are to catch and also with patience they are easy to get rid of.

I have included this book on my blog as I really wanted to take a natural approach to getting rid of nits as there are so many products out there. All of the products claim that they will get rid of nits straight away  – which is not true (after some research) and many of them contain harsh chemicals which are likely to irritate the scalp and therefore cause other issues!

I was trapped into buying a product – it was totally natural but expensive. I thought that if I used a store bought product I would get rid of the nits. BUT I found that as my daughter’s hair is so thick we nearly went through the whole $13.95 bottle in one treatment – which didn’t work!

I have since read that nits need several treatments over 2-3 weeks and this book really hit home in telling me all you need is conditioner and a fine toothed comb!

So when I discovered the nits had come back we used conditioner (left in for twenty mixtures with a shower cap on), then i combed her hair – for about 20 minutes – with tea tree oil and a bowl of vinegar to fry the darling nits.

We did this every 2-3 days for 2 weeks and it worked! Hooray!

There is a lot to say about the simplicity of essential oils. I have heard  a lot about essential oils in the world lately and have looked into joining some of the programs but for now they are out of my reach as they are quite expensive. Luckily Tea Tree oil is easy to come by and we are only using it for cleaning and nit attacking so I don’t think I need to worry about spending big yet.

Tea Tree oil is one to have in your cabinet as it is antibacterial, anti fungal and a pest deterrent.

I’ve since heard that Neem oil is also a great deterrent for Nits. I might need to get some for our next battle!

And remember  – you don’t need to wash the sheets as nits do not survive for long without a scalp to feed off.

Good luck in battling the nits! I managed to escape infestation this time…

Nit Tips

  1. Cover hair in conditioner – thickly. Leave on for at least 10 minutes  – I did 20. Cover with a shower cap so it stays wet.
  2. Finely comb through hair with a fine tooth comb layer by layer. Use tea tree oil as your comb through.
  3. Dip comb in vinegar to kill off any eggs and seller bugs. Wipe comb after each use so you are not spreading one nit from one strand to another.
  4. Wash hair afterwards.
  5. Repeat every 2-3 days for at least 2 weeks. This is of course your time dependant and also how well your child copes sitting still.

 

The importance of nature play. 

There is a lot of new research coming out on the importance of play and the importance of play outside.

As a teacher I have always observed children learning best when they are in a relaxed and informal environment. In saying this, there is always a place for teaching and mentoring but there is also a place for exploration, making mistakes and collaboration.


I love being outside – it just makes me happier. I love being in natural areas where there is less human activity and more time to sit back and admire what is around us. So when I became a librarian I couldn’t think of a better way to get children outside than through books!

Research shows that playing outside increases happiness, problem solving and motivation. When children play outside they use more imagination as there are less boundaries, they can problem solve and they can learn about the world they live in through their 5 senses.


Now, you often think of books as an inside activity – which they can be (and often are) and this is fine BUT what if we can take ideas from these books and use them to inspire some outdoor play?

Here are some books which might inspire you to take a trip outside!

 

Go on an adventure

We are going on a bear hunt

This is a classic book that we all know and love. It is so much fun to read and sing to and is a favourite of ours.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Go on your own bear hunt! Find some swishy grass, splashy water and sloshy mud – lots of fun!
  • Can you go on a native Australian animal hunt? Which animals live in your area?
  • Pack a bag and go on a short hike. Think of the different things you need to cope with storms, rain, wind and sunshine!

Worm explorers

The worm who knew karate by Terry Denton and Jill Lever

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….

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • go and dig up some dirt – find some earth worms!
  • Go and buy a worm farm or explore your local community garden worm farm.
  • Feed the worms – what do they like best?

Create a garden

The curious Garden by Peter Brown

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

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.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Keep a seed diary – plant a seed and watch it grow! (use quick growing seeds like herbs, beans or sunflowers)
  • Look at a local park or your own backyard and redesign it so there is more growing and more green.
  • Make an inventory of the nature in your area. Discuss biodiversity of plants and animals.

Explore insects

Mechanics by Lance Baldachin

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!

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Find some insects and sketch them. Look at how they move their arms and legs. Try to recreate an insect out of natural material.
  • Create an insect house for your local insects. Many insects are lacking in city gardens as there are not enough small holes for them to live in.
  • Look for signs of life cycles of insects  – these can be hard to find but it will make your child look in the small places that we often overlook.

Explore new places

Bogtrotter by Margaret Wild

The Bogtrotter 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.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Go to a new park, a new national park or any outdoor space.
  • Walk a path you walk everyday but do it slowly and try to notice the small things as you go along. Talk to people, say hello and notice what is happening.
  • Take something outside that you normally do inside – does it make a difference?

 

Imagination

Incredibilia by Libby Hathorn

I loved reading Incredibilia by Libby Hathorn and illustrated by Gaye Chapman to my children, the pictures really transport you to an imaginative world full of crazy creatures, whispy clouds and natural beauty. We loved looking at each page and imagining what Georgie was thinking about, what she was playing and how the others could play to.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Take some ribbons, balls, string and scraps and see what you can do with them outside rather than a specific toy.
  • Create new names for the local insects, trees and flowers in your garden or local park – imagination!
  • Go somewhere or find something that you think is incredibilia!

Being Green

Leaf by Stephen Michael King

Leaf shows the love of nature that children can have when given the chance. It also shows the adult world and how everything needs to be neat, tidy and regimented. A sad story on adults behalf!

In this magical story a little boy  grows his own seedling in his hair and loves it, cares for it and shares many adventures with it. He spends every waking minute finding the best way to care for his seedling.

Unfortunately it’s time for a haircut and the adult world tries to take his small tree away from him. However, his determination and resilience shines through and he continues to care for the tree as he grows older.

This is a beautifully drawn book which not only intrigues the reader but really hits the spot on how we need to take a step back and let the natural world become a part of our daily lives.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Perform a puppet show outside with leaves as the characters – draw on them and create a story!
  • What can you grow out of different substances? Explore how seeds grow and what they need to grow.
  • How heavy are different trees. Use problem solving to try and work this out.

 

I hope this has inspired you to read some books and play outside! I have many more ideas each week on my blog so please sign up to flickingonthebook.wordpress.com

 

 

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!

Challenge through interests

Challenging our children.

It is easy to assume that bright children will devour everything that is thrown at them, enjoying any bit of learning, finding it easy and engaging.

This is not always the case.

As parents as educators we need to tap into our children’s interests and learning styles so we can help them to develop their gifts, ignite their passions and stir their imagination.

If we are to tackle problems like climate change, plastic ridden oceans and toxic waterways we need our creative thinkers to be passionate, to be engaged and to want to learn more about the world.

We need to extend our young children, accelerate their learning and enrich any task at hand. Without challenge and enrichment of learning these children can learn to just cruise through schooling and life, not realising the talents that they have.

So what can you do through books?

  1. Find  books that engage your child. There is a book out there for everyone. Talk to your child, talk to the librarian and take the time to read together from as young as possible. Everyone loves reading something.
  2. Whilst reading ask your child some deeper questions. Not only ‘What?’ questions but also ‘how?’ and ‘why?’
  3. Talk about the book after you have read it. Ask more challenging questions such as – how would you change the ending? If you could be one of the characters who would you be? Could you change the ending? What if ……had happened?
  4. Find out more about the author – many authors have great websites and talk about how they came to be authors. Many will talk about persistence and passion.

 

Soon to come….a free e-book on questioning stems!  Watch this blog!

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.

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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?

A River by Marc Martin

How is a river like our body’s circulatory system?

How is the river in this story like an idea? 

Rivers have opened up the world and closed them off. Discuss. 

A river by Marc Martin (published by Penguin Books) feels peaceful from the front cover.  It’s dreamlike illustrations and gentle words found peace and quiet in our reading time today.

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From a window and the young girls imagination takes the reader on a journey of the river from the busy, smoggy city to the calm and colourful jungle.

We see cities, farms, green hills, jungles and mangroves.

Animals are hidden within the landscape which give time for wandering eyes to pause on the picture that little bit longer.

Through this story you can learn about the endless cycle of rivers and the water within them.

It is mesmerizing and meditative, inspiring and illuminating.

So what can you do?

Join my Facebook page and group: educateempower11 or closed group for teaching ideas : growing globally and socially conscious children. https://m.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457

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  • Collect some leaves. Categorise the leaves into size, shape, colours, lines and points!
  • Use these leaves to re create a picture from Marc Martin’s book, The River!theriver2
  • Collect some rain – where can you put the rain? How much was collected? You could keep a rain diary over a month or more.

Enjoy – let me know what you think!

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!