Gifted education musings: Creativity.

Gifted children, from an early age can show the capacity to think creatively, critically and abstractly.

Have you ever had them ask a question and you wondered how they came up with that thought? Or wondered why they have thought so hard about something that just seems trivial to you?


Gifted children need to know that these thoughts are valid and wonderful! As a parent you need to support this thinking and foster it in the best possible way so you not only have a confident child but you are a confident parent.

Being a confident parent allows you to inform teachers the strengths and weaknesses of your child.

What can you do?

  • Build a home environment that nurtures this creativity. Allow your child to flourish at home and have a space that they can always create.
  • Before praising them about the way the have responded or created something,, ask them how they came up with the idea. Learning how to explain their thinking is a great tool.
  • Provide them with opportunities to explore their area of interest and link in with like minded individuals. Think after school activities, holiday clubs, online groups, links with universities, visits to art galleries, performances and music halls.
  • Keep records of their creations and try to create with them.
  • Encourage taking risks when trying new techniques and talk about mistakes and why we need to make them to learn.

If you need support with your gifted child or a gifted student in your classroom. Please get in touch for one on one consultations and workshops.

Vanessa: educateempower1@gmail.com

And read this great tip sheet created by The National Association for Gifted Children

http://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/Publication%20PHP/NAGC%20TIP%20Sheet%20-%20Nurturing%20Creativity-FINAL-UPDATED-October%202017.pdf

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The incurable imagination by Paul Russell and Aska


Right from the start, everyone knew there was something a little bit different about Audrey.

Do you know a child who has a wonderful imagination? Or perhaps you know one who doesn’t have one at all?

The Incurable Imagination is a delightful picture book about the wonder of imagination.

We follow little Audrey as she draws ogres, creates her own songs and talks to giraffes dressed in suits. Her imagination grows and grows and even the most boring of lessons can’t stop it.

Soon enough Audrey’s wonderful imagination become contagious and everyone in her classroom (including the teacher) began to see the world in a completely different way.

The Incurable Imagination by Paul Russell and Aska shows the importance of imagination and how much power it can give us. Many children have become too reliant on tv shows, pre made games and toys to amuse them and thus when left with a blank slate in any situation – don’t know what to do.

Paul Russell also highlights the importance of inspiring teacher who help children to find that imagination and Aska’s illustrations show just how wonderful imagination can be.

This book will encourage young children to use their imagination more often and go beyond the boundaries that have been set. It will also encourage parents to let their children be bored so their imagination can fire up and be a vibrant as little Audrey’s!

The Incurable Imagination will hopefully allow your body to catch ‘imaginitis’ so that  learning and activities can be a lot more fun!

The box cars by Robert Vescio and Cara King

Do you remember when you had more fun playing with a box than the toy that can inside it?

Have you ever watched young children play with an abandoned box for days on end?

The Box Cars by Robert Vescio and Cara King is a delightful picture book that shows young readers the fun they can have with boxes!

We meet two best friends – Liam and Kai who are experts in making different types of box cars and racing them around the local park. It isn’t until one day that they notice someone watching them that they realise how special friends and imagination are.

Soon enough – with a bit of problem solving – their duo becomes a trio and even more box filled fun takes place!

Simple yet brightly lit illustrations by Cara King fill each page and clearly show the emotions of the children as they play. They give a sense of freedom with imagination and nature at the heart of every page.

The story delves into the wonders of imaginative play and friendship and the problems that arise when we need to consider the needs of every one around us.

The Box Cars will open up the opportunity to get children outside with their imaginations instead of inside in front of a screen. It will encourage discussions about friendships and help children to see wonder in the simple things!

So what else can you do with this book?

Literacy

Grammar – Look at the different types of verbs used to describe how the characters do different things throughout the story. Replace these verbs with different or more plain verbs and see how the story changes.

Visual literacy – Every page is a whole page illustration except for one double page spread when Eve is not in a box car. Why is this the only page that does this?

STEM

Design and Make – Build something of your own out of a box that could serve a purpose in the school playground. Create plans before it is made and outline the clear purpose.

History

Toys in the past – explore how children made toys of their own in the past. What materials did they use and how did they make them?

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!

When you’re going to the moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To

Have you ever believed that you could go anywhere you wanted?

Do anything you dreamt of?

Or could be anything you wished?

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When you’re going to the moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To is a beautiful story about believing in yourself and the accompanying illustrations are magical.

A young girl wants to go to the moon. She decides to take only the essentials in her small green bag and of course her pet iguana – but what else might she need to get there?

Determined to climb higher than she ever has before she takes no risks, making sure she packs a map to help her get home.

When you’re going to the moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To is a story to read to young children to help them to see the importance of believing in their dreams, admiring their achievements and soaking in the wonder of new activities.

A book to share, a book to read and a book to enjoy.

Clever Crow – Wak Liya-Djambatj by Nina Lawrence and Bronwyn Bancroft

 

 

When a hungry crow can’t find any food, he has to be clever.

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Clever Crow – Wak Liya-Djambatj. Written by Nina Lawrence and illustrated by Bronwyn Bancroft is a traditional Australian indigenous story about crows and how clever they are. But what makes this book even better than just being a story, is it is a story told in two languages – English and the Djambarrpuynu, a Yolnu language from the north east of Arnhem Land.

 

As you turn each page you can read the story in either English or Djambarrpuynu and ponder on the patterned images that fall across the pages.

 

For those who cannot speak Djambarrpuynu an orthographic guide has been placed at the back alongside a glossary.

 

Clever Crow teaches the reader about persistence and patience. It shows us that even if we don’t achieve something that we want so much, with time we may just gain it.

 

Children are introduced to difference Australian animals,  traditional indigenous cooking activities and the patterns of indigenous art.

 

The colours of the illustrations jump off each page, lighting up the story from the bright sands of the beach to the darker shades of the bush. The patterns and lines within each block are something to look at in detail to understand the texture of the trees or the contours of the land.

 

Clever Crow is a book that all children across Australia should be reading and it would be wonderful to see more books like this written so we can share the Indigenous languages of Australia and keep them alive for many more generations to come.

What can you do with this book?

Explore the artwork and the patterns within each illustration. Compare the illustrations to that of images from Arnhem land – can you see the patterns in the landscapes?

Find another indigenous story from this part of Australia.

Find an indigenous story from where you live in Australia.

Think about how you have been a clever crow in one aspect of your life OR how you can be.

 

Something for Fleur by Catherine Pelosi and Caitlin Murray

Have you ever waited and waited for your birthday?

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

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

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

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

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

This is what we got up to in the classroom:

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

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

What have you done with this story?

The perfect Leaf by Andrew Plant

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So what else can you do with this book?

 

SCIENCE

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

 

LITERACY

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

 

THINKING

  • What is perfection?
  • Can something be perfect?

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

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Cloud conductor by Kellie Byrnes

Frankie loves sitting by her window and looking at the clouds. She loves to listen to the melodies they create, compose tunes and conduct ideas.

But being able to see the shapes the clouds make in the sky is a gift she loves to share with others.

As we progress through the story we start to see that Frankie is unwell and needs to spend many days in hospital.  But with her imagination, these days become much more amazing than they really are. Frankie sees a courageous cowgirl, children playing at the beach and a young girl riding a bicycle – all symbols of hope that one day she won’t need to be inside getting better, but outside amongst the joy of life.

The cloud conductor not only allows readers to see what life can be like for children who are in hospital for long lengths of time but also the importance of imagination and how imagination can brighten the darkest of dark days.

Positive thinking and hope shine through in this story and the important gifts we can give to others when they are feeling down – hope, joyful thoughts and imagination.

You will love reading this story to all young children and it might inspire some time to lie out in the sun and stare up at those clouds!

So what else can you do with this book?

Link to how you can help

  • Learn about children’s hospitals that exist near you. Is there anyway you can help brighten the lives of the children who have to spend a lot of time in here?
  • The picture book – The Silver Sea – was written in conjunction with children who were staying at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Imagination

  • What can you see in the clouds? Lie down for at least 5 minutes and talk about all of the different things you can see.
  • What can you hear when you see clouds?
  • Imagine the different types of music clouds would play – draw the different types of clouds and describe the types of music you hear when you see them.
  • Find some music that makes you think of breezy days, stormy days and still days.

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cloudconductor

Real Kids, Real play by Alice Zsembery

So, at what point did we fall in to the trap of believing that buying things makes memories? 

Alice Zsembery’s book: Real Kids, Real play is amazing and many parents should have it sitting on their bookshelves for those days when children call out that they are bored, when you’re stuck inside on a rainy day or just days when you want to have some fun without dipping into your wallet.

The premise behind the creation of this book was to make the job of parenting (or caring) for young kids easier, less stressful and a lot more fun – which resonates so strongly with me.

In this book there are over 150 activities for children aged 0-5 that can be done in your home with your own things – paper plates, toilet rolls, sticky tape,cardboard boxes, potatoes, bed sheets….the list goes on!

There is little need for you to go to the shops to buy an item to do any of these activities which is fantastic for those who are time poor or sleep deprived!

And although these activities may not be instagram worthy because they are not as pretty as some, the hours of entertainment these activities provide are so much more important. These ideas are just what you need to not only give yourself a break from trying to be the perfect parent but they are gifts to your child as they allow them time to use their imagination and be creative.

We loved making our own car lot,

camping inside and the backyard

colouring water and turning it into ice

and of course the good old celery trick!

Any new parent who doesn’t mind getting down with their kids, having a play day at home or reusing that old cardboard box will love this book. And perhaps those who just need a bit of a break will be inspired to try some activities out too.

This book comes with free printables at http://realkidsrealplay.com.au and fabulous praise from Maggie Dent, parenting expert.

Head on over to http://realkidsrealplay.com.au to buy your copy for yourself or someone you know who needs it!

Join my facebook group and page where we discuss ways parents and teachers can engage children through literacy and play about big issues in the real world

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Molly the Pirate by Lorraine Teece

“Molly lived a long way from the sea, but every day she wished she was a pirate”

Molly is a little girl with a great imagination. She lives in the red dirt of the Australian outback with her mum, a cat, a dog and three chooks but nothing is stopping her from dancing a jig with a pirate, steering a pirate ship or fighting Captain Chicken!

Lorraine Teece has brought this little girls vivid imagination to life through action, adventure and fun filled description of life aboard a pirate ship. Teamed together with Paul Seden’s colourful and movement filled illustrations, Molly the pirate is a great book for young readers.

Children will be inspired to use their own imagination after they have read this book – noticing that sometimes those every day boring looking objects can be turned into something a lot more fun.

A clothes basket could turn into a pirate ship.

A backyard chook into a fearsome pirate

A washing line into a sail .

Many children lack these skills of imagination as they have so many screens and toys to amuse them. Molly the Pirate shows us that with a little bit of creativity we can make any imaginary world come to life!

Perhaps you’ll start to look at the washing basket a little bit differently next time you take it out to hang on the line….

So what else can you do?

  • CREATE: Encourage imagination!! Instead of buying your children more toys take them outside to a park or natural setting and let them play and imagine up worlds.
  • INVESTIGATE: Take a look at your clothes line – who invented this and why? Why should we dry our clothes on the clothes line instead of the dryer?
  • LEARN: Do you have backyard chooks? Where do your eggs come from? Investigate the best types of eggs to buy if you can’t have chooks of your own.
  • RESEARCH: Where is the red dirt of Australia? Investigate which towns live on red dirt and why it is red.
  • WONDER: Did chickens ever travel on pirate ships? Find out more about pirates and why they existed and how they still exist now.

Why do we need magical worlds

After reading an article or two I have started to think about the importance of magic in our lives and how magical worlds in books can help us to cope with every day activities.

When we are aware of magical worlds we can remember back to how a character coped when faced with mountain trolls, what the character did when they really just wanted to go home or how they felt when faced with a place that was completely different to the one they knew.

Magical worlds aren’t only in longer novels, they can also be found in picture books and both types of magical worlds are just as wonderful as each other.

Inside these magical worlds are strong characters, whether they be frightening or relatable – many have to ‘toughen up’ in order to cope with the dangers and differences they have to experience every day.

Experiencing others daily lives is important to not only to build empathy but to also build a greater understanding of ourselves. I’m sure if you sit down and think about it, there are always characters in books that spring to your mind at different occasions.

Magical worlds spark ideas, they arouse different feelings and the inspire us to think beyond our daily lives – they help us to wonder what life could be like if something out of the ordinary happens.

 

So what magical books are you going to read today?

Continue reading

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.

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Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins

I’m writing this story in a bottle lost at sea…..

 

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins is a collection of poems for children that ignite imagination, incite dreaming and explore the great land and wildlife of Australia.


Poetry is not something I read a lot of – but after reading Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins I believe it is something I should do more often.

Not only did I enjoy the diverse range of poems included in this book but the children I read it to lapped it up.

My son asked me to read the poem about the Cassowary several times over along with Pond Pests and Magic Fish Dreaming. We loved the rhyme in some poems, the storytelling within others and the speech between families.

Each poem told a different story and really ignited conversations about fairy teeth, why a Cassowary wasn’t at his home and the possibility of us going on an adventure in a bottle.

June Perkin’s poems are short yet effervescent. They are perfect for reading out loud and some of these poems can also be read as a group. Helen Magisson’s delicate pastel illustrations compliment each poem and add more mystery to those poems which make you sit and wonder; what if?

Not only are these poems full of imaginative places they also bring up issues of endangered animals, loss of habitat and the importance of respecting the land. The beauty of these poems that talk about cane toad invasion and loss of natural habitat is that the message can be quickly understood – something that is really important when trying to educate young children.

Magic Fish Dreaming is a wonderful anthology and one to share with your young children.

 

So what can you do at home?

 

  • Read the poems out loud – which poems can you read together? Which poems have different characters?
  • Find the poems that have rhyme – do you prefer poems with or without rhyme?
  • Which animals are mentioned in the story are endangered? Find out where these animals live and why they are endangered.
  • What are cane toad poles? Why are cane toads pests?
  • Rain is mentioned in a few poems – explore how rain can help and hinder the people and animals of the land.
  • Choose a favourite poem and create a short story from this poem. You could explore the idea of writing a story from a bottle or perhaps finding your own fairy tooth.

 

Snap reviews:A most magical girl by Karen Foxlee

 I’ve always loved adventure stories and magic stories so A most magical girl by Karen Foxlee was a great find!


Shortlisted in the 2017 CBCA, this story takes the reader on a magical journey through a part of London I am sure you never thought existed.

Fairy walls, troll holes and shadows that chase are all part of a journey that Annabel must undertake if she is to save London from being taken over by …..and his machine which will turn the world we know it into darkness and evil times.

This story will be devoured by young readers and I think girls will love the fact that the three heroes of the story are all females who show intelligence, bravery and friendship.

This would be a great way to get your students or children thinking about the possibilities of the magical world and what might lie beneath our city streets!

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Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid

The idea of swimming on top of freshly mown grass which has been swamped by fresh water conjures up ideas of the simple and care free nature that comes with being a child. This scene, amongst others in Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin really sums up how beautiful childhood can be when we are free to take life slowly, not worry about money, war or jobs and just play with our friends and imagination.


Swimming on the Lawn by Yasmin Hamid is a cleverly written fiction book written for 10-15 year olds. Written from the perspective of young Farida, the reader explores life in Sudan before the war consumes the nation.

Farida is a carefree, playful and imaginative girl who not only enjoys helping her mother around the house also enjoys learning about the world around her. Farida has an English  Mother, A sudanese Father and sister and two brothers and experiences traditional Sudanese culture on a daily basis but also learns English and some western ways from her mother.

Hot beans for breakfast, endless cups of tea, outdoor meals and stifling heat are all part of growing up in Sudan. Visits to the local library by foot, picking oranges with neighbours and helping out with a friend’s mother birth are something perhaps foreign to many children in the western world.

Through the eyes of Farida we learn about the Sudanese traditions of prayer, mourning ceremonies and important religious days. The reader is also exposed to each chapter being written in English and Arabic.

Swimming on the Lawn is a quiet read and through the simple short stories there is so much to learn about a life devoid of electronic devices, fast food and a fast life. The childhood of Farida and her siblings seems idyllic until the war begins – and we all know where that has led the nation that once flourished.

Fremantle Press have provided some thought provoking teacher notes for you to use. It is a great book to debrief about and explore more about how children in other countries live.  This book can be used to ignite children into thinking about how they can make their life a bit slower and a bit more playful.

 

 

The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and Van T Rudd

It has painted on lights and a bark numberplate that keeps falling off and we have to remake it.


The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and Van T Rudd is a fun book filled with onomatopoeia, vibrant adjectives and outside active play.

As you read through this story the energy seeps out of the pages as the children tumble through the streets, run up and down hills and zoom along on their homemade bike.

Set in a small village on the edge of the No -Go Desert, the children need to make their own fun. The children get inventive and create their own bike made from old bits and pieces (and perhaps some things that mum might need…). They create wheels out of wood, a number plate out of bark and handlebars out of branches. These children use their imagination and problem solving skills to create a bike that can shicketty shake them over sandhills and winketty wonk them through fields.

This book is lots of fun to read and really makes you think – that if you didn’t have access to toys, televisions and screen then perhaps more of this would take place in our backyards and parks. Perhaps more children would be outside playing, thinking creatively and using up their extra energy.

The Patchwork Bike is a celebration of children and play and the joy of owning a bike. The artwork in this story is superb and more can be seen here. Each page exudes energy, we can see the children playing at all times of the day and all over the village. We can feel the joy and smell the freedom these children have despite the fact they do not have much more.

The Patchwork bike is Shortlisted for the 2017 CBCA and I’m thinking it has a good chance of winning!

So what can you do to link this to Sustainability? 

  1. Look at some ‘junk’ you have at home and create a bike, pushcart or scooter! Draw up plans first and then create. What extra things do you need? How will it work?
  2. Can any of the toys or things you don’t need anymore go somewhere else apart from the bin? Charity? Garage sale? Repair cafe? A friend?
  3. Explore local repair cafes and see how they fix up things that many people think are useless junk.
  4. How can you create less waste in your life? Do you really need to latest toy? Can you make do with simple things and still have fun?
  5. Try to pick up less free things just because they are free. This especially includes toys that are given as part of store giveaways – you can sign my petition here to stop this.

 

 

The art of play

They’ve been in there for an hour. 

Two children, creating magic spells, hiding from wolves and naughty witches and inventing their own language. 


But what if we had rushed off this afternoon to do an organised activity? Or sat down and done homework or put the tv on? 

I know this doesn’t happen all the time but sometimes if you let your children be free they create their own fun. 

We don’t need to immerse our children in a different organised activity every day because they need it, or they love it, or we need to keep them busy. 

You’d be surprised how much children love playing and how much they learn from free play.

A new language has been invented

New rules in a far off land have been written down. 

Magic spells have been created. 

A new type of dinosaur has been discovered 

And a friendship has been strengthened. 

So….

Let your children play freely, let them read books that introduce them to far off lands so they can continue to delve deeper into worlds that the adults need to remember more of. 

My magnificent jelly bean tree

If I had a Jelly Bean tree, I would care for it while it was small. 

Do you wish that jelly beans grew on trees? 

I’m sure we have all had the dream as a child that if we planted a single jelly bean and cared for it that it would, with a bit of magic, grow into our own little tree full of sugary delights!

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Tantalising all of the senses, this book makes every young person’s dream a reality. Maura Finn’s rhyming texts outlines the reasons why freshly grown jelly beans are so much better than the store bought ones and how within the jelly bean tree there are so many other delights that perhaps you never imagined!

Aura Parker’s illustrations bring out the sugary smell of the jelly bean tree and leave the reader wanting to rush out and plant their own tree once the book is finished!

We did….

Not only does this picture book takes us off to a magical land, it also teaches the reader how to care for a plant and enjoy the fruits it bears. My magnificent Jelly Bean tree is a delight to read to inspire imagination and some gardening!

So what can you do at home? 

Nature

 – Grow your own beans or sunflowers. These are easy seeds to grow and monitor even when you don’t have a veggie patch. Keep a seed diary and draw a daily picture of what is happening to the plant.

 – You’re the head of the CSIRO in 2050 and the world is running out of food. Invent your own type of plant that could feed a family for a week and fit into a small sized garden.

 – Investigate seeds, what they look like at different stages and in different species of plants.  Life cycles of seeds can also be looked at here.

Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle.

Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle, illustrated by Maggie Prewett is a fascinating story about life in the desert for three children and the trouble with the red dust that blows in and over everything in it’s path!


This group of desert children invite their school teacher, Mrs White, home for dinner to show her why they always bring in grubby homework. BUT – little do they know what mother nature has in store for them all!

They live in a higgledy-piggledy house with a higgledy -piggledy garden but they play outside, tell stories in the sand, have vivid imaginations and love learning.

Maggie Prewett’s illustrations highlight the spareness of the desert and dominance of the red sand after a sand storm! It reminded me of the many times I have spent in the desert and the fact that even months after returning home, I still found that red dust in pockets of clothes and gaps in the car seals!

I loved reading this story to my children and to classes at my school during library lessons as I was able to tell them about the desert and the amazing landscape we have in Australia. We were able to discuss how theses people live near waterways and if they don’t – water needs to be trucked in – a very foreign concept to city based children.

When we read books to children we open their minds to how other children live and therefore increase empathy and awareness of the world around them.

So what can you do with this story at home or in the classroom?

  • Look at a map of Australia and see where remote communities live. How do these people live in these areas?
  • How do children go to school when they live remotely? Explore School of the Air and Central schools. Compare how you go to school to how they do. Look at this school in Broken Hill 
  • How did the children in this story pass on stories and learn? Have you ever told a story without writing it down? Try and tell a story or two using only spoken word and perhaps a drawing or two as you talk.
  • How did they use their imagination when they heard unusual sounds? Close your eyes and listen to the outside world – imagine what those different sounds could be.
  • Explore personification throughout this story. How does making the objects alive add to the story? Create your own personification sentences.

Looking further:

 

 

Loving all types of literacy

Linking literacy to books is a passion of mine (as you may have guessed) but so is learning to read.

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The early years of any child’s life and then formal education are vital for building a love of literacy. If we miss those years children struggle through many areas of their lives as reading is such a big part of it!

Here are some simple ways you can start to build phonemic awareness in a fun way which involves books. No worksheets. No writing. No repetition. Just books and conversations!

  • When you look at the front cover read it out loud. Read the authors name, illustrators name and perhaps even the blurb. Ask your child if they can think of another name that starts with the same sound as the authors first name. Start with the initial letter but if you child can do it, blend the first two letters and find names with that sound.

 

  • As you read look for pictures that might look like letters – this can be lots of fun and can be done as you drive in the car or go for a play outside!
  • If your child is a keen writer – write down their favourite words or sounds from the book. Stick these words on the wall and they can copy them or even make them out of blocks or shapes when the time suits them.

 

  • Make up your own story together – write it down if you like and illustrate.

 

  • Don’t just focus on home readers – make sure your children are reading books they choose for pleasure.

 

  • You don’t always need to read books – try comics or magazines, non-fiction and audio books! . Exposure to different forms of literacy opens their mind and encourages passion from an early age.

 

  • Let me know your thoughts!

Why do we need poetry?

This week, on Tuesday 21st March, the world celebrated World Poetry Day!

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Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. (UNESCO, 2017)

So why do we need poetry?

  1. Poetry teaches rhythm, rhyme, beat and space. Many poems rhyme or have some sort of beat to them. By reading poetry to each other we incidentally learn how to speak to a beat with feeling.
  2. Poems are written to be read out loud. When we read out loud we learn to pronounce words with more feeling. When we listen to poetry being read out loud we can feel the words and the feelings that the poet has put into the prose.
  3. Poetry can bring about many different feelings in a short amount of reading or listening time. Poems can make us laugh, cry, move about, remember, cringe and even feel scared!
  4. Poetry is another form of literature that can allow reluctant readers or slower readers to feel a sense of achievement and enjoyment.
  5. Poetry incites creativity in many different forms. Many children struggle in the creative realm but through reading poems we are able to escape into a creative landscape and be inspired to create our own.

We all have  access to so many wonderful poetry books  some are picture books, pure anthologies, disgusting poems, laugh out loud poems and the classics. See what you can find and share it with someone!

A child of Books by Oliver Jeffers

A child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam winston really brings home the importance of books in our lives.

A child of books is a book I have been searching for. ⠀

‘For imagination is free’

The idea of imagination is key to this picture book and is portrayed so beautifully through illustrations, excerpts from other stories and a rich tale. ⠀

A young girl sails on a sea of words to invite others to a place where they can search for make-believe, discover treasures, lose themselves in forests and sleep in clouds of song. ⠀

Books are such an essential part of our lives. They enrich how we see the world and open our minds to so many possibilities. ⠀

I adore fiction stories and especially those that send a message of hope, imagination, joy and empowerment.

So what can you do as you read, while you read and after you read A Child of Books?

  • Take the time to read through this story by yourself and with a child. There are so many details within each picture and word that you can spend quite a bit of time on each page.
  • Search for hidden sentences and author names within the pictures and find out more about the whole story that has been written.
  • Create your own page of the book with favourite passages from poems and stories.
  • Explore the artwork of Sam Winston and recreate an artwork like his.
  • Have a discussion on what life might look like    – without books?  – Without stories?  – without poetry?
  • For Older readers – Has there ever been a time in history when books have been banned? How did that world look like?

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A Child of Books

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