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!

FullSizeRender 3

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.

img_4702

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!

FullSizeRender (2)

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?

BUY HERE
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?

img_0656

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

img_0672

 

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.

IMG_1175

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.

IMG_1176

 

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!