Minimising waste and reading more books!

2018 has been a great year, filled with so many wonderful books sent for reviews and bought for home or our school library.

I don’t have the time right now to list all of my favourites and I don’t know if I can choose either!! But here are a few Recent ones:

Another great thing that has happened this year is our movement towards creating less waste in landfill this year.

We’ve kept on composting and worm farming,

Reducing our food waste by making banana peel cake

Making our own dishwashing detergent, dishwasher powder and other sprays around the house!

And trying to use less packaging where we can.

I’m hoping to share more tips and tricks for parents to create less landfill waste in their homes without stressing about being zero waste – which I am sure turns many people off as it is quite unattainable for many who work full or part time, live in the suburbs, have kids, care for others .

If you know anyone who would like to join me and learn from my mistakes and my successes then pass on my blog.

See you in 2019!

Advertisements

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.

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.

gvoulgaropoulos-refugeecamp-3475

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.

Books from 2017 that encourage you to be kinder the people of the world

There were so many lovely books that I came across this year that encourage young readers not only to think about those around them in their own community but also those who live on the other side of the world.

img_6716

Being a part of a community is so important and knowing how to look out for others in our community is something that we all need to do.

img_6340

Being kind to others whether they be our next door neighbours, residents in our suburb or children we hear about in the news is something we should all encourage our children to think about. It should be something we as adults should think about too.

IMG_5199

Once we think about others we can reflect on our own actions and perhaps make more sensible choices in what we buy, what we do and what we say. Every little thing we do will impact someone in someway and taking a leaf out of one of these books might just change an action you are going to take today.

img_5871

Feather by Phil Cummings

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Say Yes: A story of friendship and hope

Children in our world: Refugees and Migrants

Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo

I’m Australian too by Mem Fox

The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon

img_4928-1

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHERE WE EXPLORE BIG ISSUES AND HOW TO BEST TALK ABOUT THEM WITH KIDS.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng

Have you ever made something  from scratch?

And then been able to give that object to someone else?

Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng is a wonderful story about friendship, sharing, kindness and the beauty of being able to make things yourself.

Ash is a shy little bird and she doesn’t have many friends until she starts to use her wonderful gift – her ability to create clothing and objects from a beautiful piece of red material.

Ash creates many things including a shirt, arm chair cover, a dress and a scarf! She spreads her ability and love all over the neighbourhood and brings joy to so many through the simple act of kindness.

Ash could have kept the red material all to herself and made so many wonderful things from it but she chose to share and make other animals lives happier.

Ash dresses her friends is a wonderful story about how we can be kind to others, how we can share our gifts to make others happy and how we can make things on our own.

Many of us resort to the shops to buy things for friends – perhaps this book will inspire you to make something of your own next time a friend needs a present, a pick me up or just a reminder of how important they are in your life.

The illustrations really highlight the friendships being developed, the happiness each gift brings and the vibrancy of the material Ash uses in each creation.

I loved the red material Ash used and hopefully one day I might just find something made out of it!

So what else can you do at home?

SELF ESTEEM

  • Explore the gifts your child has. Talk to them about what they can do to make others happy and to show them how special they both are.
  • Look at how Ash felt shy and sad and explore times your child has felt like this.
  • How do friends make us feel good?

SUSTAINABILITY

  •  Ash made things herself out of one piece of material. Where do your clothes come from and who made them? Can you make the effort to buy more clothes from locally and ethically made sources?
  • Explore the Fashion revolution to see how you can be more aware of how your clothes were made, what they are made of and where they go once you have finished with them.

ART

  • Explore the techniques used by Fu (contrast between red and black/grey) and how this impacted the story. Create your own artwork using two contrasting colours.
  • Create your own print like the red material.

COMMUNITY

  • How can you play a bigger role in your community? Explore different groups or community days and how you can be a part of them so you know more people around you.

BUY FROM FISHPOND NOW – CLICK BELOW

Ash Dresses Her Friends

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHERE WE EXPLORE BIG ISSUES AND HOW TO BEST TALK ABOUT THEM WITH KIDS.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

Feasible planet by Ken Kroes

“There are no such things as great deeds—only small ones done with great heart.”
– Mother Teresa

 

36430861

Trying to live more sustainably is something every person on this planet needs to think about – especially those who can afford to buy smart phones, use electricity and buy food from a supermarket.

Ken Kroes has created a guide to more sustainable living which contains facts, tips and links to companies and websites that can help anyone on their path to better living.

There is a bit of reading do in this guide but with an easy to understand contents page, you can skip to the sections you like and find information that is practical and quick to embed into your lifestyle.

Perhaps some images would make this book more appealing to readers but overall I think it is a great guide for anyone who wants  to start to make a difference.

You can learn the impact your smartphone has on the world when it is made and after you have finished using it, learn how to motivate others through good facts and information and of course how to educate the children in your life.

By talking to the children in your life we create a ripple effect in the wider community and give them the tools to be leaders of change in society.

Feasible planet is a great guide for anyone – even those who don’t want to make a difference – as I am sure by the end you will see that those small changes you can make will make a huge difference in the way the world currently functions – for the better.

The wild robot by Peter Brown

Clouds scudded through the sky

Spiders spun intricate webs, Berries beckoned to hungry mouths, Foxes stalked hares, Mushrooms rose up from leaf litter, turtles plopped into ponds, moss spread across tree roots, vultures hunched over carcasses, ocean waves beat against the coastline, tadpoles became frogs, caterpillars became butterflies. A camouflaged robot observed it all. 

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is my latest read and one which has had many positive reviews. I loved the premise of this novel – a robot living on an island amongst nature, learning to live in the wild and learning about the cycles of life.

But did I love the book – after a slow hump in the middle, I did.

Author Peter Brown involves the reader right from the start, telling us all about how the robot came to be on the island and often asking us questions about what we think might happen next. We watch as Roz, the mechanical robot,  learns to live in nature by observing daily activities by animals, watching the subtle changes in the cycle of seasons and day/night and of course through making friends.

We learn about the daily activities of Roz, which I found interesting but a little slow at times. However, the pace picked up again and the growth of love between Roz and her adopted son made the story so much more rich.

The Wild Robot explores the intricate details of nature and how everything effects each other. We learn, in a subtle way, about the impact changing seasons and human development are having on animals and the possibility of life with robots.

Younger children will love this book if it is read to them as they can explore how Roz learns about animals and the natural world. The last few chapters are confronting – but so are many aspects of the current world we live in.

The Wild Robot is an excellent read, broken up into little chapters with simple illustrations, it will reinvigorate your desire to get out in nature and possibly become a little wild yourself!

Children over 11 will enjoy reading this alone and I would even recommend this book as a class study as so many different topic areas are covered

  •  Climate change (how it effects animals habitat, survival in the changing seasons)
  •  How living things work with each other (life and death, building materials, symbiotic relationships)
  •  Animal habitats (how they create them and where they live)
  •  Robots in our lives – do we really need them? (What do we use them for now?)
  •  Migration patterns in birds (Map patterns of your local migratory birds)
  • Geography (uninhabited island in the world)
  •  Literary technique – breaking the fourth wall.
  • How do we communicate with animals?

You hold me up by Monique Gray Smith and Danielle Daniel.

The four words : You hold me up ring throughout this picture book, highlighting the importance of family, trust, friendship and love.

Written by two Canadian authors, this story highlights the damage done by the government to indigenous children in the past and at times, now.

A pertinent issue for many countries around the world, and as an Australian, something we need to do more about.  

Children being taken from their families, never to see them again was something that happened all too often and the stories that are emerging from this are atrocious.

Many of these children and families are on a long path to healing and can only do this with the support of the community around them.

This story reminds us that we are all human and that we all need love, respect and dignity.

Monique Gray Smith has written this with the littlest people in mind and hopes to encourage dialogue among children, their families and educators.

Danielle Daniel’s illustrations are vibrant and full of warmth and love. Each picture oozes the strength of each relationship and the bond held between the people involved.

Read this story with those around you and as you do, you will realise how important it is to hold everyone in our community up.

So what else can you do with this book?

  • Think about how you can support those in your family when they are sad, have experienced something difficult or are just having a bad day.
  • Investigate the Indigenous people of your country. How have they been treated in the past and how are they treated now?
  • How do books like this inspire change? Can books inspire change?
  • Look at the technique used by Danielle Daniels: bright colours, focus on faces and how we can draw emotion into people. Experiment with your own way of exploring happiness, love and support in art.

Take a step inside

Have you ever wondered – why we still need books and why we still need a library?  


Perhaps you might think that the internet has everything we need so why use up the extra space and paper? 

Australian Children’s Laureate Leigh Hobbs has recently been discussing the importance of libraries and the vital role they play in our children’s lives. Not only do they foster a positive reading culture but they allow children to see beyond their interest.

The internet can be a very closed space and we can search and be shown only what we want to see. When a child enters the library they do gravitate towards what they like but they can also be easily shown books by the librarian, parents or teacher that might be a little bit different and might just stretch their world a little further.  Libraries promote a sense of community and hopefully encourage people to take care of the books that they need to share with others.

Perhaps next time rather than buying a book or downloading one, step into your library and see what else is on offer!

Interview with Suzanne Barton, author of Meeka

This month I am interviewing Suzanne Barton, the author of the new picture book: Meeka.
 
Meeka is Suzanne’s first picture book and has been self published.
 
Meeka is a delightful story for young children 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
 
Thank you Suzanne for answering these questions for my audience and I.
 
1. How did you come up with the idea of Meeka?
Meeka’s story first came to life through a conversation between my mother and I. We were enjoying a delicious Moroccan meal and giggling as we imagined the adventures of a cheeky little bird who got stuck in a tagine. Not long after, I wrote up the story to enter into a writing competition and, to my surprise, the manuscript won its category. After that, I’d always hoped to see the story published.
2. How long have you been writing for and when did you feel that children’s writing was where you wanted to be?
I come from a family full of writers, English teachers and Scrabble enthusiasts – so I’ve been a bookworm and a wordsmith for as long as I can remember. My career and studies have led me to write everything from advertising copy to film scripts, but I really love children’s stories. Some years ago I took a course in children’s writing and loved learning about all the different styles and techniques. Since then, the stories have kept flowing.
3. How did you work with Anil Tortop? Did you exchange ideas or just let Anil explore the story and interpret it herself.
Working with Anil was a wonderful collaboration. I had some ideas about how I saw Meeka coming together, and so did she. From her very first sketches and storyboards, it was clear that Anil knew just how to bring Meeka to life. I always loved receiving her drawings as we were working on the book. Her characters have so much personality and movement. Even now I keep noticing tiny details that make me smile.
Check out the book trailer for Meeka!
4. You ran a successful pozible campaign – how did you ensure its success and how did you cope with the wait?
I am so grateful for the lovely people who supported Meeka on Pozible, helping me print the book beautifully. To prepare, I went to a crowd funding workshop for authors and thought carefully about the rewards I could offer supporters, and what fun things I could share on social media during the project. These included a book trailer, time-lapse videos of the illustrations and Photoshopped ‘selfies’ of Meeka with supporters, which were really fun to make. Sometimes I felt nervous that the project wouldn’t reach its goal, but I tried to stay positive and we got there with a few days to spare.
5. Can you give any advice to budding picture book authors who would love to see their book published?
Never give up. If you have stories in your heart, then keep working hard at your craft and seek support in the wonderful writers’ groups that can be found in many communities, and of course at your fingertips online. I also find critique groups especially handy. The chance to regularly receive constructive criticism from a supportive network of like-minded writers, and also to review other people’s work, really helps keep the creative ideas flowing.
 
 

6. Where to next? Can you expect another picture book some time or are there other areas of creative writing you are going to explore?

 

I have several more picture books up my sleeve and hope to see them brought to life in the coming years. I’m also working on a story for older readers, and continuing to create cabaret productions inspired by 1940s radio drama with my musical ensemble, Neo Radio.
Sounds exciting Suzanne! I can’t wait to see what else you can bring to life. Thank you for the time you have given to answer these questions.
Now followers – do you have any questions?

BUY YOUR COPY HERE: https://www.bluebellbooks.org/shop/

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers

“No, you cannot have a pet lizard -” Lizzy’s mum said, “And before you ask, no snakes either. No reptiles of any sort.”

 

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers is a wonderful new fantasy  novel for younger readers – and they won’t want to put it down!


I know that as a young child I always wanted a different pet -a dog, a rabbit, a fish or a bird – I never wanted a lizard, and still wouldn’t want one crawling about in the house But Lizzy does, and she is determined to get a pet of her own.

Lizzy lives on a farm which is going through drought. The grass is brown, the dams are dry and their is the ever present threat of bush fire.

Lizzy is a strong, caring and clever young girl and perhaps by luck or perhaps by magic she stumbles upon a round shaped egg in the field outside their house. Her brother Joey discovers Lizzy and her secretive behaviour and does what many siblings would do – threaten to tell their parents if she doesn’t let him on the secret.

Despite Lizzy’s efforts to keep her egg (and then pet dragon) a secret, her brother finds out and Lizzy has to put up with doing all of his chores – that is until she discovers the magic her dragon holds and possibly the real reason the dragon egg happened to land in the drought stricken land.

Full of magic and mystery, Lizzy’s Dragon is an story you cannot put down. Younger readers will love this story as Lizzy is a character many children will identify with – she is thoughtful, she fights with her brother, she cares for her family and she wants the best for the place she lives in.

Dragons are magical beasts which excite and engage many readers and the beauty of this dragon is that it comes across as one of the best possible pets you could have.

Lizzy’s dragon is a wonderful read – one to read out loud or for better readers –  to read alone. The pictures within the novel give the readers some more insight into what Lizzy and her dragon look like and ignite more of that wonderful imagination.

Magic, mystery and mettle, Lizzy’s dragon is a book to inspire the best in all of us.

So what else can you do with this story?

 – Design your own dragon. What egg would it hatch from? where would you keep it and what would it’s special gift be?

– Are there any areas close to you or in your country that are experiencing drought? What do these places have to do during times of drought?

– Have you ever helped out in your community? Find out how you could help in some way at a community event.

——

Want to become a global guardian?

glochaxxxCV1824_160x

Join now and receive 10% off with my unique code: GGPVanessa


Buy Biome products now and keep your home and the world sustainable and eco friendly

 

It’s our world

How do we raise our children to be more environmentally conscious children?



How we do we raise them so that they are not caught up in the world of consumption, acting for the Instagram followers or having a total disregard for tomorrow?

In the western world where convenience is key it seems to our survival we, the adults, need to change our ways and show our children that convenience isn’t always the best way forward.

Raising environmentally aware children is paramount. This doesn’t just mean awareness of the natural world, it also means awareness of how our actions impact other people’s lives.

But how do we do this when convenience is right there to make our lives easier when many of us work full time, need to keep a tight budget or want to relax rather than clean, cook or sew?

We can do this – one step at a time. And that one step at  a time should be together with our children and on display to them.

How can you slowly move from a life of convenience to an eco-conscious life?

– Go to the library and borrow some of the books I have reviewed. By educating your children about the world around them they are more likely to make changes. Try Feathers by Phil Cummings

– Eat more fruit and vegetables from a coop, markets or fresh delivery. Vegetables and Fruits have little or no packaging and have less of an impact on the environment that plastic wrapped things. Try a Patch from Scratch by Megan Forward

– Try baking your own biscuits, cakes and bread. I’ve just started making my own sourdough and it is a lot easier than what I thought! I’ll share my recipe some day soon. Try this delicious recipe Coconut carrot cake

– Get outside into the natural world every day. It might just be the park and that’s fine. We need to teach our children about these spaces that allow us to slow down. Try Last tree in the city

– If your children are old enough watch the news but if not there are plenty of books out there that explain these issues in a much more gentle way. Try Illegal by Eoin Colfer, Phasmid by Rohan Cleve, The Hairy Nosed Wombats find a new home by Jackie French

– And most importantly be a part of your community. Check out the Crop swap groups, local community gardens, markets, second hand stores, food delivery groups and repair cafes. Being part of your community will help you to move away from a life of convenience. Try The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba

Is there a change you need to make? Perhaps a book will inspire that change – ask me and I can help!

 

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!

 

 

Library borrowing time

How often do you and your child visit the library?

When you are there – how long do you spend looking for a book?

booksAs I have spoken about in previous posts – borrowing from the library is important. In many ways it is more important than buying your own copy of a book as you become part of a community. As part of this library community you need to care for the book so others can read it and you need to return it on time so others can read it.

However a really important aspect of the library is learning how to borrow a book. When we visit a library there should be at least thirty minutes set aside to read through books, flick through the pages and look over the covers.

Rushing over the library borrowing process is not enjoyable and doesn’t teach the value of borrowing books.

We want our children to love reading and we want them to find books that they want to read – and make them go back for more. We want them to see what is popular, we want them to talk to the librarian and we want them to see something new.

My four suggestions when we go to the library

  •  Encourage your child or class to take their time borrowing.
  •  Take time to try out a new type of book each time you borrow.
  •  Borrow fiction and non fiction
  •  Read part of the book in the library to generate excitement.

The library is a wonderful resource and something we all need to utilise to it’s full potential.

 

A bag and a bird by Pamela Allen

The plastic bag went too. John could see it caught on a bird high in the sky, flying and flapping behind like a scarf in the wind.

A warm sunny day, a long walk outside in the fresh air and a myriad of discoveries – a beautiful way to start the weekend but there is a lot more than just a walk from Kirribilli to the Royal botanic Gardens in store!

A mother and her son decide to make the most of a sunny day by packing lunch and taking off on a stroll by the harbour. They pack lunch in a plastic bag – possibly not realising the ramifications this item has on the environment in so many different ways. `

Exploring Sydney by foot is a wonderful way to see the different aspects of the city away from the cars and the busy-ness; and this book shows the reader how easy and how lovely the harbour and botanic gardens area is.

A bag and a bird by Pamela Allen not only explores the fun you can have on foot but also the importance of looking after everything that is on this planet – even those pesky birds that scramble after any crumb you might drop on the ground. (I’m sure you or someone you know has had a biscuit snatched right out of their hands by a hungry winged creature!)

As humans we have created so much damage so we can live comfortably, not considering how every little thing we do makes a huge impact on other people, animals and plants.

A bag and a bird is a lovely book to start a conversation about plastic bags and how important community spirit is to making a difference in the way we live. It is amazing how the actions of one person can change the minds of so many.

So what can you do at home?

  • Take your own bags to the supermarket and say no to using plastic. Every plastic bag will last for hundreds of years and will make a huge impact in the environment.
  • Take a walk around your local area – get outside and enjoy the sights! Draw a map of where you walked.
  • Learn about the different birds that inhabit your area. Why do they live here? Are they native or introduced?
  • Find out about different community groups that help others and are making commitments to the sustainable development goal

And – Keep reading. Keep enjoying those quiet and close moments when you can escape into another world and ponder about the world you live in too.

 Check out these great books from Biome!

Whatcha Building? by Andrew Daddo and Stephen Michael King

It’s exactly what this town needs.

I adore this book, Whatcha Building? by Andrew Daddo and Stephen Michael King is a story about endings and new beginnings, imagination and determination and a sense of community.


The old milk bar around the corner from young Davey’s house in being pulled down and a new building is replacing it. Davey observes the daily deconstruction of the milk bar and each day takes a piece of timber home. The builder and the reader’s imagination run wild with all the possibilities of what young Davey might be building.

It’s only until right at the end the masterpiece is unveiled with a timely message for us all.

I love the illustrations in this story as they not only accompany the text but they add more  depth to each page. Stephen Michael King has used recycled garbage, cardboard, pen and ink to create the illustrations and this combination brings life to the story. Throughout the images we can get a real sense of the community at work and the role we all play in our environment.

So what else can you do with this book? 

Sustainability

  • We all throw out too much and many of this can be reused or recycled. Investigate what you can do with things that are no use to you anymore. Rather than just throwing them out can you create something new? Give it to someone else? Or recycle it in the best possible way.
  • Create your own doll sized house purely from recycled and reused materials.
  • What sort of materials are best for the environment? Compare and contrast different types of floorboards available to the community – work out which ones are best using categories such as value for money, ecological impact and community impact.

Global values

  • Watch building really makes us think about how important people and space is to each of us. Many of us get caught up in consumption and needing the best of everything. Is there a place in your community where people can come together?
  • Design a space where people of all ages and backgrounds can come to share the love of where they live – without having to buy things.

Literacy

  • Look at the slang used throughout the story – what do each of these slang words mean? How does this portray Dave the builder?
  • What is the significance of Davey not saying many things throughout the story?

 

Some great thinking questions:

Do endings always have new beginnings?

If all the buildings in your town were replaced how would that effect your community both negatively and positively? 

Select one architect who has changed the way we build sustainably. Find out how they approach design and how they want to improve life for all.

——————————————————————–

Let me know how you go! It’s a beautiful book – I hope you can enjoy it too.

Florette by Anna Walker

Have you ever felt like the world you live in lacks green? Or perhaps you can’t remember the last time you saw a flower bloom or a butterfly flap past.

Florette by Anna Walker is just the book to read to inspire you to turn your world from grey, brown man made landscapes into luscious green spaces that encourage laughter and love.

Mae’s family moved to a new home, away from friends and her garden. Mae misses the apples trees, daffodils and leafy cubbies. She misses the wavy grass, daisies and space for a swing.

Until one day she discovers a Florette and  a small stalk of plant. Mae doesn’t know where the stalk will take her but she has a new spring in her step, hope in her heart and inspiration in her mind.

Anna Walker’s illustrations bring this story to life as we watch Mae transform from the dull grey landscape into the living green space she creates.

Florette is a beautiful story for those who might  live in a world of grey, showing that with a little inspiration we can all have our own green patch.

So what can you do?

At Home

  1. Grow your own seeds: Grab an old egg carton and some seeds (use apple seeds, tomatoe seeds or store bought seeds). Place some tissue in the carton and then place a seed on the tissue. Cover with another layer of tissue and add water.
  2. Where are the local green spaces in your area? Find them – can you walk to them?
  3. What is the purpose of a Florette? Investigate any local Florette’s in your area.
  4. Grow a new plant from the graft of another plant. Investigate which plants can do this – you will be surprised!

In the Classroom

  1. Inferencing:

START

– Focus on Mae’s point of view – how is she feeling? How can we learn what she is feeling? How do we know this. Discuss if these inferences are justified. Then move onto her parents point of view. (Page can be split into two)

– How do they both feel about their new home? New view? New lifestyle? Find images and words in the story to help justify this.

CREATE

– How would you feel in this landscape: What would you do? Draw your viewpoint.

Extend 1 :

–  Compare the different points of view. How and why are they different? Use a Venn diagram to compare differences and justify these differences through quotes. Draw the differences of what they might see out the window.

Extend 2:

–  Create an image to recreate from both Mae’s and the mothers point of view. How might they see the garden differently? The new house? Are each of their view’s fair on each other? Could one viewpoint overtake the others? What would it mean if one viewpoint was to disappear?

Numeracy

Plan a garden of your own in a space in your neighbourhood or backyard!