Poppy and the Blooms by Fiona Woodcock.

Sometimes it’s the little people that make the biggest difference in our world.

In this colourful picture book we meet Poppy and her friends – Dandy, Bluebell and Buttercup.

They love playing outside but one day they realise that there is a park nearby that has lost it’s love, lost its colour and lost it’s joy.

And even though they are small and the park is big, they know that with a lot of teamwork and determination they can make a huge difference to the world they live in.

The pages are bursting with colour and the feeling of life, love and friendship all throughout the story. The story is filled with determination and one which will encourage any young listener to believe that they can make a difference.

Do you have a little changemaker?

Do you encourage your little changemaker to make a difference in the world they live in?

Children are willing to care for the world they live in and with a little bit of help in the right direction they will make a difference.

Take the time to make some positive changes in your world and do it alongside the smaller people in your life so that they grow up knowing that they can act and make a difference.

  • Let them pack their own lunchbox – plastic free!
  • Learn about where electricity comes from so they can turn off the lights.
  • Read the labels of soap bottles and wonder if we really should be putting it down the drain.
  • Look at the food you buy and where it comes from, what it is packaged in and the additives. Think about alternatives together.
  • Go to a local park and pick up rubbish, plant a tree or scatter some seeds.
  • Write to local politicians – show children that they have a voice too.  
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Making with Living things: Build amazing projects with inspirational scientists, artists and engineers by Anna Claybourne

Have you ever wondered how a spider spins it’s web? How a movie is created or how to colour your boring white shirts?

Making with Living things: Build amazing projects with inspirational scientists, artists and engineers by Wayland Books, is an excellent resource for parents and teachers alike as it will inspire young minds to try something they may have thought impossible!

There are ten different activities to choose from and each activity is presented with step by step instructions, accompanied by illustrations. Alongside each activity is a scientist, artist or engineer spotlight – showing children that these simple experiments can actually lead to something big!

We love spiders in our house (true – perhaps not the funnel webs) but the others fascinate us and I am proud to say we are not spider squashers – but spider rescuers.

With this fascination in mind, we wanted to find out the steps spiders took to create their intricate webs so we turned to page 18 and read about some artists who create life like spider webs out of string in various public spaces.

We also learnt that animals are architects who have inspired many human structures!

The instructions in this book were easy to follow yet gave us room to be creative.

Learning to experiment about the world around us is really important if we are to expect our children to love the natural world.

We need more scientists, engineers and artists to solve the problems of the world so that it will be a wonderful place to live for many more generations to come.

Making with Living things: Build amazing projects with inspirational scientists, artists and engineers, is a must have for any home and classroom – be inspired and get out in the natural world today!

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.

Many of us have heard the story of Malala but this magical picture book brings her story to younger readers.

Armed with her dreams of a magic pencil, Malala tells us of all the things she used to wish she could do if she had a magic pencil.

However Malala realises that her magic pencil won’t appear so instead she works hard at school but then once the military move in and try to stop girls from being educate she realises that she has her own pencil and her own mind and voice so she writes letters to the world.

She doesn’t stop there. She speaks to the media, travels around her country and inspires girls to take a stand for themselves and their basic human rirghts.

Malala’s voice has continued to grow loud as time has gone on and she continues to work hard for those girls who are missing out on being educated.

The support she must have from her parent’s is phenomenal and it really is a message to both children and parents.

Children – don’t think you are powerless just becase you are small. You have a voice and you can speak up.

Adults – support your children to speak up. Teach them about the world and how they can make a positive difference.

What can you do at home?

  • Find out more about Malala and the school she has opened in Pakistan.
  • Find out where Pakistan is and why girls don’t have the same rights as boys.
  • Find out where else in the world girls have trouble going to school. Explore why this happens and who is trying to change this.
  • Think about what you can speak out about. Is there something you wish to change in your community? Write letters, connect with like minded individuals.
  • Share Malala’s story and those of other people who have spoken out – be inspired to be the change you want to see in your world.

Brave and strong, All day long. By Elizabeth Cummings

 

Today I’m taking part in the Just write for Kids Books on Tour and I’m happy to introduce Elizabeth Cummings and her latest picture book from her Verityville series, Brave and Strong All Day Long, as a part of her Books On Tour promotion.

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Summer is coming and it’s time to hit the beach don’t you think?

Many people love going to the beach to relax and it’s even better when the weather is warm enough to swim.

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Thankfully, in Australia, many of our beaches are patrolled by lifegaurds who are there to watch over us as we swim underneath the waves, ride the waves or try to run away from them!

Brave and strong all day long by Elizabeth Cummings is a short and simple picture book with a big message – the importance of lifeguards.

Lifeguards need to be confident, strong and brave all day long, they need to be able to help those in need, teach people how to swim safely in the surf and most importantly ensure that everyone returns back to their towels at the end of their swim!

This book, brought to life with Johanna Roberts’ vibrant and informative illustrations, tells us the story about Fiona, a young girl who became a lifeguard. She loves surfing and has enough confidence to be able to help those in need. Not only can Fiona help swimmers caught in rips she can also help fishermen and surfers!

Young children will enjoy reading this story and learning about what lifeguards do. The images reflect what a lifeguards uniform looks like so readers will know who to look out for if they need help at the beach.  There is also a great drawing of a rip – a great way to start a conversation about this ever present danger in the water and perhaps the chance for further research so your children know what one of these looks like.

Brave and strong, all day long has been self published along with many other wonderful creations by Elizabeth and Johanna. Raising awareness of the important role lifeguards play in society is something we all need to do so we do not take these wonderful volunteers for granted.

Check out her website and consider some of her other great titles as well! https://elizabethmarycummings.com/book-store/

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“For more information on blog tours at Books On Tour please visit www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour.” Thanks so much. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need.

So what else can you do after you have read this book?

  • ENGAGE: Visit the beach and watch what the lifeguards do – perhaps even talk to one and see what they have been up to!
  • INVESTIGATE: Why the flags are placed up and how they help us.
  • INVESTIGATE: Learn more about rips here: https://beachsafe.org.au/surf-safety/ripcurrents
  • ASK: Why do lifeguards wear long sleeve tops and hats. Investigate sun safety and why we need to cover up.
  • THINK: What sort of sun cream do you use? Why are there so many types out there and are they all the same?
  • RESEARCH: Where and when did surfing originate? Why do lifeguards use boards to rescue people?

 

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Five of my favourite picture books I read in 2017.

Five of the best

Children's books tag

Warning! I’ve been tagged. It can be contagious.

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Norah Colvin tagged me and asked me to join in. I don’t normally do this but I’m making an exception. How could I not – it’s about children’s books.

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I’m required to nominate my top five children’s books, then nominate another five people to join in!

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Rules:

  1. Thank whoever’s nominated you and share their blog link.
  2. Let us know your top 5 children’s books
  3. Nominate 5 people to do the same
  4. Let your nominees know you nominated them

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I’m not sure I can decide on my Top 5 – but here are 5 wonderful picture books that speak to me and children about how we can make this world a better place.

  1. Feather by Phil Cummings
  2. The Secret of Black Rock by Joe Todd-Stanton
  3. Out of the Blue by Alison Jay
  4. Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo
  5. The Thank you dish by Trace Balla

Oh dear — Can I also mention Second Sky by Patrick Guest and Desert Lake by  Pamela Freeman and Zoom by Sha’an D’anthes???

 

I think I might have to post again about some junior fiction and Young adult fiction too…

There have been so many wonderful books in 2017 but the above have really stood out.

 

Now to nominate another 5 people —–

Romi Sharp from Just write for kids

Bookie Boo boxes – BookieBoo

De from Booksandbabycinos

Beth from EarthandStarskids

Shaye Wardrop

 

Maybe you don’t write about children’s books but would like to share your favourites anyway. Please consider this invitation inclusion. If you would like to join in, please do.

Alternatively, if you are one of the people I nominate, and you’d rather not join in, or have already been nominated, it’s okay to decline.

 

Chooks in Dinner suits by Diane Jackson Hill

This time, the townsfolk don’t laugh.

‘Let’s give that plan of yours a try,’ they say to Swampy.

All else has failed. 

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Chooks in Dinner Suits: A Tale of Big Dogs and Little Penguins
Chooks in Dinner Suits: A Tale of Big Dogs and Little Penguins

Chooks in Dinner suits, A tale of big dogs and little penguins in based on a true story. Set in Warrnambool on the south coast of Australia in 2005 this story tells us about the demise of the breed of penguins called ‘little penguins’.


Slowly over time due to habitat destruction, being eaten by foxes and dogs or eggs being stepped on, there were only 4 penguins left in 2005. A local farmer made the suggestion to the community to use Maremma guardian dogs to protect these animals from further destruction. The community were skeptical and took time to be convinced but with no other options they trusted in his idea – and thankfully they did!

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These dogs – the Maremma – have been used in other operations across Australia to protect endangered species from feral pests. There is currently a project underway with Bandicoots being protected by Maremma in Victoria. 

Chooks in dinner suits is a really lovely story based on a real life event. There are not too many words or descriptions to bore the younger reader, and the facts are told in story. There  is enough action throughout the story for children and pictures to entice them to read it again.

Craig Smith’s illustrations are fun and bring a bit more light to the sadness of this story. His use of soft colours sheds light on the coastal feel of the town and the natural beauty of the hatching ground.

Chooks in dinner suits is a great story to read to show how real life stories can be brought to life for younger readers. Picture books are a wonderful way to engage young readers in the events that are happening in the world around them.

It is definitely worth your while engaging your child in some real images from this story. Check out these links:

So what else can you do?

——

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Read, talk, do – the corroboree frog 

 

Recently we read the story: The little Corroborree Frog  

And it has inspired some action in my children. There was no pushing of we have to do this, we have to learn that or we have to save the world. There were simple discussions after we read the story and little discussions around the house when we used water or decided to make our own snacks instead of buying them.

So what happened?

We made a link

My son and I visited the zoo and were lucky enough to see a Corroborree frog.

We made another link

When we returned home my son and daughter watched a couple of short videos on the computer so we could see how they move in the wild and in captivity.

We learnt something and wanted to share it.

There is no point just keeping all the great facts to yourselves so we made posters that we can stick up at home and take to school for news.

See – simple!

If you have time at home, perhaps half an hour you too can educate and empower your children to make a difference in their world. If we don’t start to take action now many animals and people will not be living a great life in the future.

 

 

 

Let’s Escape by Mike Dumbleton and Kim Gamble

 

Tucked up in bed but ready to escape – that’s how we all should feel as we sink underneath our bed sheets and start to read a book.


Let’s escape by Mike Dumbleton is an adventure story that takes place within different storybook lands and times.

The young boy creeps through a forest, rides a wild horse and shotos past giants – all in his pyjamas!

Kim Gamble’s illustrations bring the words to life and add so much more to the story.

Let’s escape allows the readers to imagine about all the possible places they could travel in their dreams – and encourages more reading and more books as so many un conquered worlds lie within.

Let’s escape should encourage parents to read more with their child and imagination is the key to everything! Without imagination and dreams we lack so much in our lives. We loved reading this book and everytime we have read it again we have discovered more within the pages.

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!

Plastic Free July

 July is Plastic Free July and throughout this month we all need to try and make an effort to make our lives full of less plastic!

Why do we need to start using less plastic?

Plastic has been an amazing invention and has so many wonderful uses but the problem today is that we are overusing it in places where we don’t need to.

Do we really need plastic bags for our fruit and vegetables at the supermarket?

At the checkout?

Do we really need all that pre packaged food when we can make our own?

Does everything really need to be wrapped in plastic before we take it home? Especially when home isn’t that far away? 

The simple answer is no and although it may seem hard to make these changes, you can – slow and steady if that is what it takes.

But how? Try this module out – Only $2.99  – an inspiring start to getting rid of the plastic in your pantry! 


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You can also just start with some simple swaps.

Not sure how to empower or educate yourself or your child? The following books are excellent reads to help encourage the use of less plastic——- check them out:

Ada’s Violin – True story picture book – Paraguay’s recycled orchestra. Discussion: Why is there so much in landfill and how can we reduce this?

Out of the Blue by Alison Jay – Wordless picture book. Story of looking after the ocean. Why is there rubbish in the ocean? What can you change in your life so you make less of an impact on sea creatures? (what do you flush down the drain that is harmful?)

10 little rubber ducks – Based on the true story of a shipping container which broke in open sea and unloaded thousands of rubber ducks. Where might they be now? How is this an environmental disaster?

My Green Day – Simple tips on how you can have a greener day.

The Seagull – A seagull is tangled up in fishing wire and a young boy rescues him. Why is there discarded fishing wire on the beach and other rubbish entangled in it? How can we use less single use plastic?

The Lorax by Dr Seuss –  

This book looks at how greed can cause us to waste materials and cause damage to the earth. By thinking about what our plastic does after we use it we can start to see why we should use less.

Compost Stew by Mary McKenna

By using materials that can be composted – not thrown into landfill we are creating a better place and creating better soil for future food and plants!

The tomorrow book by Jackie French

With imagination, creative thinking, problem solving and open minds, tomorrow can be a wonderful day where we harness the sun’s energy, we repair things instead of throwing them away, we each have our own veggie patch and wind power is just another form of easy to use energy. This book looks at how children can make a difference in the world they live in – not just rely on the adults!!

Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo

Have you ever thought about reusing something instead of throwing it away? This is a wonderful story to get your creative side into gear.

 

Let me know how you go – can you maintain your plastic free ways? 

Playing a role in your child’s education

How can I play the best role in my child’s education is one question that many parents ask. 

This is a great question and more parents need to ask this. It seems that many parents see school as a separate entity where they send their child to learn and there is no connection with what they do or day at home with how their child achieves at school

But, there is a strong link and if parents become positively involved in their child’s education their child will be more motivated, have higher self esteem and higher self efficacy. It is important to note that we do not want to smother our children if we are to be involved in their education, we just need to support them in a positive manner.

There are some simple steps you can follow.

  1. Understand your child, where they excel and where they need support.
  2. Know the school and the best schooling option for your child. Understand their policies, teaching methods and how they cater for different children within the classroom.
  3. Connect with the school – this could be through meeting the teacher, taking part in parent and family school activities, volunteering somewhere in the school, reading the school newsletter etc.
  4. Get to know other parents in the school community. This will make your school experience positive and influence how you speak about the school. Getting to know the parents of the children your child is friends with is also a positive step in knowing your child better.
  5. Don’t be negative in front of your child. When you are unhappy with something that has happened at school try to find out as much as possible before commenting. Your child needs to see you being fair to the school and the teachers.
  6. Trust your instincts about your child. You know what is best for them so support them in the way that is best for them.
  7. Involve your child in the decision making process throughout their schooling. Remember it is ultimately their education. You can help them make their decisions but make sure it is in the best interest of your child.

But what else? 

Ultimately, at school,  we want our child to learn new ways of thinking, new facts and new skills but we also want to develop their social skills and emotional skills. By playing a positive role in your child’s education that is not smothering is key. We want our children to be resilient and self confident so that they can make decisions themselves without us always having to be nearby. By showing that you are involved in the school, are positive towards to school and have belief in your child is the first step.

Resilience is something that parents can develop at home. There is a great model called the Resilience Doughnut and is definitely worth checking out as it is such a useful tool for parents.

Basically the doughnut’s centre represents the intrinsic beliefs and motivations of a person. It looks at how the person views themselves, how confident they are and who they feel they can go to for support.

The outside of the doughnut has seven factors which are all related to external influences on the person’s life. They are:

  • The Parent Factor: characteristics of strong and effective parenting .
  • The Skill Factor: evidence of self-competence. How does the person view their abilities?
  • The Family and Identity Factor: What is your family identity?  How do we connect to our family? Do we feel respected? Accepted? Siblings? Trusting adult?
  • The Education Factor: experience of connections and relationships during the learning process. How do we feel towards teachers? Strong relationships with teachers? High expectations? Optimistic? Positive world view? Enjoyment of learning?
  • The Peer Factor: where social and moral development is enhanced through interactions with peers. Development and maintenance of friendship? Belonging, acceptance, peer support, loyalty, self regulation.
  • The Community Factor: where the morals and values of the local community are transferred and the young person is supported. Sporting clubs, religious groups, activity groups…Having links to the local community and supportive social services has been shown to have a major impact on contributing to building resilience Shared values.
  • The Money Factor: where the young person develops the ability to give as well as take from society through employment and purposeful spending. Learn about spending, consuming, material possesions, self regulation. Budgeting, gratefulness.

So that’s just a snapshot of the resilience donut, I recommend you sit down and take a look at it so you can ensure you are playing the best role in your child’s education – remembering not just school facts and skills but skills for life.