The wonder of trees by Nicola Davies and Lorna Scobie

A third of our planet is covered by trees so surely they should be something we know a lot about?

Perhaps not.


The wonder of trees by Nicola Davies and Lorna Scobie is an in depth book which explores the extraordinary diversity of trees, the animals that need them and the clusters of them around the planet.

Not only are the pages filled with easy to read information, they are also adorned with stunning illustrations which detail the leaves, bark, root systems and animals.

Many scientific names are included on each page, allowing children who otherwise may not be, exposed to scientific language.

The wonder of trees is a book to keep returning to as there is quite a bit of information to be absorbed. Although young children will love the illustrations, older children from ages 5 will enjoy reading pieces of the information which is organised in small clusters around the pages.

The book is also broken up into sections such as different types of forests, how people use the forest, what animals need, how trees grow and the different amazing parts they have for survival.

This A3 size book will be enjoyed by children not only for its information but also the intricate illustrations. It’s one that can be used to explore areas of science, discuss sustainability and wonder about the world that the trees which surround us support.

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The ultimate animal counting book by Jennifer Cossins


1 Blue whale: Blue whales are one of the loudest animals in the world and they can hear each other from up to 1600 kilometres away.

The ultimate animal counting book is most definitely an ultimate counting book. From numbers 1-100 you can explore an increasing number of animals who inhabit this planet.

In amongst the animals you will find facts about how they live, what they can do and how they are unique. You will also notice that although each page is dedicated to one animal in particular – they are all very different.

Zebras all have completely different spots (check out the 15 different patterns with number 15!)

The 48 Ibises are not all the white feathered and black beak bin divers we see in our suburbs but also red, green and brown.

And the 100 fairy flies are usually so small that we can’t even see many of them without a microscope.

Wild and domesticated animals, urban and rural dwellers, pests and endangered species have have all made it into this book which is important to show just how diverse the animal kingdom is and how our interaction with them plays a huge role.

Jennifer Cossins has created many other wonderful books about animals and this one is a great addition to the collection. Children of all ages will enjoy learning how to count, reading the different facts and pouring over the illustrations of each individual animal.

Art/Numeracy activity

Can you create a whole class counting book with a focus on endangered animals, animals in your local area or animals in your country?

Integrate skip counting or addition sums with your science unit on living things.

Captain Jimmy Cook discovers third grade by Kate and Jol Temple

Mum said she was looking forward to hearing about it, but we were having Kale for dinner and she had to get things ready. So this is a little tip for anyone who ever hears those words: Kale is not a person.

Written in log format (diaries are for girls) children will enjoy the discoveries young Jimmy makes at home and at school.

Jimmy (or captain Jimmy Cook we he likes to be called) is a young explorer determined to make a new discovery just like his predecessor Captain Jame Cook.

He has to keep a log for his school project and takes it very seriously detailing any new discovery and plan to make his way to Hawaii.

Jimmy shows determination in collecting as many stamps from the ‘Wheat blocks’ packs to win the prize that will take him to Hawaii. He is sure he will be one of the first to discover its uncharted lands and weird new animals. But will his enemy Alice Toolie beat him to it?

Young kids will love this ( and their adults will too!)

Onto Jimmy’s next adventure when we get back to the library!

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!

Another book about bears by Laura and Philip Bunting

Sick of books about bears?

Is your library shelf piling up with bears eating honey? Bears going on walks or bears getting cranky?

Then you’ll love this book!

Teachers who are looking into traditional or fractures fairytales will love this book as a great springboard to encourage creativity and problem solving when it comes to bears.

Can you imagine if the three bears weren’t in the Goldilocks story? Would Goldilocks still eat porridge? Would the setting still be in the woods? Would there still be bears and beds and a scary ending?

Children will love listening to the fourth wall being broken (another great lesson springboard) and wonder why bears are often chosen as a lead role.

So what did we do in our classroom with Kindergarten?

Children chose to either draw a story without bears ( goldilocks and the three lemurs) or draw things bears do in stories that they don’t normally do (another great lesson about anthropomorphism!!!)

You’ll love this book – story and illustrations!

Buy here now – click image of book

Another Book About Bears

Black Cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

You have his mark Mia, between your shoulder blades. The dirrarn (black cockatoo) is your totem. Your jarriny (conception totem) totem

I adored this book so much so that I read it twice.

Mia, a young indigenous girl lives on the coast of Western Australia in a remote town surrounded by bush land, water holes and hot red dirt.

She lives with her family, which includes her grandparents, but feels lost between the culture and traditions of her past and the present world she lives in.

But Mia feels the past so much more than her brother does. She feels the pain of the he injured animals and smells danger and freedom on the wind.

The story revolves around Mia rescuing a black cockatoo who has been injured by her thoughtless brother.

We learn about the beauty of persistence, following your beliefs and believing in the power of positive actions.

We also learn the importance of listening to the past, embracing culture and tradition yet looking towards the future.

Black Cockatoo will not only entertain readers from ages 9-13, it will also teach them about owning their beliefs and standing up for what they know is best.

Black Cockatoo would be a great book if o study as a class group as the Jaru language is scattered throughout the story-in context-so readers can learn how to speak this indigenous language from The Kimberley.

As Australians we need to eEmbrace more of our indigenous languages and teach not only those with indigenous heritage but also those who don’t.

Black cockatoo by Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler is a beautiful story and I hope that it can be shared with many more children!

In outer space by Paul Mason

This great book on outer space is filled with Cause, Effect and the occasional bit of chaos!

Journey from Earth out to the sun, through meteorites and asteroids and then onto the planets that neighbour us.

You’ll learn what life is like in space and the effects on astronauts bodies as they float about.

The ever questioning black hole is ventured into alongside galactic cannibals!

All this kid-friendly information is accompanied by colourful pictures that really show the non-reader what is happening on their journey through space.

In outer spaceis a great way to learn more about our solar system and the amazing yet chaotic things that happen way out there!

BUY NOW – click on image below

 Cause, Effect and Chaos!: In Outer Space (Cause, Effect and Chaos!)

So what else can you do with this book?

  •  Work out how long it would take you to visit one or more of these places and what you would need to pack with you.
  •  Why is there chaos in outer space and where are you more likely to find it?
  • Are there side effects to astronauts hanging out in space? What do they need to do when they return and is their life expectancy effected?
  • Explore the space ships that have been to the moon and beyond. When was the last space ship launched and where is it now?
  • What happens to space junk? Explore the patch of ocean that is filled with space junk and the side effects of this watery junk yard!
  • List all the causes and effects outlined in this book. Can you think of some more?

The lengths some bears go to

Bollo had had enough.

Every book he read was boring.

His friends told him to try picture books.

BORING!

His little boy told him to try books based on facts

BORING!

His grandma suggested he try audio books

OH HIS EARS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Flying books

I am sure you, just like me have donated books to charity.


It makes you feel good that someone else is going to enjoy a book or  at least the book isn’t going to end up in the bin.

But have you ever donated a really terrible book? An old book? Perhaps an outdated book?

On a recent trip to Vanuatu we were lucky enough to stay with a local for three nights/four days on the northern tip of Efate. On one of those days we visited a school with a suitcase full of books to donate to the library.

Most of these books were in great condition and were aimed at young children but the lady who took us to the school told us that they do often receive books that are falling apart, too hard to read or too outdated.

Many people might think they are doing to right thing by donating a book but really they are just creating more rubbish in a place that doesn’t need any extra waste or material that will just be burnt.

Next time you hear about a book drive or decide to donate some books consider if it will be read or if it will just be disposed of by someone else instead of yourself.

Consider the people who will be receiving the books – many of those in developing countries who are in need of books do not have very good English skills so the easier the book and there pictures the better.

Don’t send your junk or your old books. Send your best books – these people deserve to read the quality that we all read too.

Educational services

Please contact me if you would like any of the following paid educational services

 

– Written teacher notes linked to the Australian curriculum for novel studies.

– Talks for parents and teachers about Gifted education.

– Lesson plans and units of work related to picture books, junior and young adult fiction , science and sustainability.

I can be contacted by email at nes.ryan@bigpond.com

Please see my About me tab to see my experience in the field of education.

Exploring soils by Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler

Have you ever wondered what is underneath the grass you walk upon?

Have you ever scooped up some dirt and examined the life that teemed out of it?

Have you ever noticed the different colours of soil on your bushwalk or sand at beach?

Exploring soils by Dr Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler is a informative picture book that takes us on a journey through a young child’s eyes as they explore how plants and animals live in soil, how soils are formed and how they are essential in our lives.


Having two young children I have rediscovered the joy of dirt – yes really! Although it does create mess, there is so much to see inside of it. As we dig in our backyard or down in the local park we have discovered so many interesting insects, old junk and pieces of rock.

The collaboration between Grover and Heilser is remarkable. As facts are brought to life through story, the illustrations match so that we can see the layers of soil, see the tiny legs on the insects and learn how water moves through soil.

The importance of soil is shown to the reader as we learn about gardening, using clay for bowls to eat out of and even different ochres that allow us to paint.

The idea of being a soil detective is not out of reach for any young reader and in fact I found this book a great way for children to take a closer look at the soil. There really are hours of discussion to be had around soil and this book is a really great way to start that discussion. Without healthy moving soil we would not have the planet we have today!

So what can you do with this book?

  • Go outside and dig a hole! Start with a small hole and see what is in that space. Write down what you see, draw what you see and compare different spaces around the backyard or park.
  • Learn about the soil that is in your area and how it is different from soil in another part of our suburb or city.
  • Explore why we need healthy soil by conducting an experiment. Try to grow some sunflower seeds in sand, rocky soil, old soil and fresh new living soil. Which one grows best when all given the same conditions?

BUY NOW – click below.

Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground

exploring soils

Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

I read my first real graphic novel in my twenties – Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – it was amazing. Not only the storytelling and the story to be told, but the fact that this huge and terrible part of history could be told in a simple and easier to understand way.


Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin also does just that. We are all very aware of the horrible refugee crisis in our world but perhaps many of us do not know of the journey that these people need to go through in order to reach a new country.

Told through the eyes of young Ebo, we learn about where he lives in Africa and his desire to leave his home town where there is no work and little family left. Following his older brother he makes a dangerous journey into the town of Agadez where he meets his older brother. It is there that they work hard to leave the city and make the perilious journey through desert and then the sea for a better life.

The reader experiences the highs and the many lows of Ebo’s journry. Giovanni Rigano’s illustrations show the reader the love, hope and desperation of the people. We are also able to see the harshness of the desert and the terror of the sea.

Through  Coulfer and Donkin’s storytelling we feel Ebo’s emotions, understand his desires and hope for a better future with him.

We meet other refugees who also desire a better life and we learn why they risk everything in order to reach a country, which they think will help them.

Illegal is a story that needs to be shared. The way refugees are treated by many countries is beyond comprehension and this story just shows how desparate theses people are. No one would ever undertake the journey if they didn’t need to.

At the end of the story the reader can view a map with explanation of where Ebo travels which I found and those children I shared the story with most informative.

There is also another short graphic story at the end of Illegal, that speaks to us about a young refugee woman. This story brings to light the plight of young women who may be travelling with young children or pregnant and their desperation to flee terror and poverty.

Illegal is a story to share and a story to reflect on. It is a story that will hopefully stir emotion and action so that more people do not need to take these journeys.

 

So what can you do?

  • Find out where the refugees in your country are from and plot the journey they have taken to get to your country.

 

  • Find some news articles that tell you a story about someone who has come you’re your country as a refugee. Find out how they came here, who they left behind or lost and what they needed to do.

 

  • Look at how the graphic novel is set out and create your own graphic novel that will teach others about an important story like this one.

 

  • See if there is a way you can help people who are refugees in your country.

You could:

– Write a letter to your local member, Premier or Prime Minister.

– Contact Local refugee organisations and see if there is any way you can help.

– Raise awareness in your community by submitting a short graphic novel to the local newspaper or school newsletter.

 

  • Learn more about the UN charter of rights and also the Rights of a child. Which rights did Ebo, his brother and many people not have along the journey? Can you think of anyone you know who is not being given all of their rights?

How important is science?

Science is Golden was once sung by The Grates

And on the kids radio channel I often hear some potatoes singing Science Science Science Science

But how much importance do you place on Science?

 

If we are hoping to help out children to take more notice of the world we live in and the changes that are taking place, we need to open their minds to the wonders of science.

This week is National Science Week and there is no better time to start taking more notice of the wonderful things that are attributed to science.

  1. Start to investigate how much water you use and how much plastic is in your rubbish bin.
  2. Investigate Climatic events which have caused refugees or caused human rights issues.
  3. Read a book – Juliet nearly a Vet or Squishy Taylor and the Tunnel of Doom.
  4. Read another about great scientific works in the area of research and conservation: Phasmid or The Hairy nosed wombats find a new home.

Happy National Science Week! 

Check out these great workshops by the Surfing Scientist!

Try this quiz too! 

 

 

 

2017 Environment Award for Children’s literature

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Millie-Mae and the Lemon Tree by Natalie Marshall

Need to inspire and educate your child into how we can make our own food and rely less on the big brands and supermarkets?


Millie-Mae and the Lemon tree by Natalie Marshall is a beautifully illustrated touch and learn book that teaches children how they can make their own lemonade out of three simple ingredients!

Mille-Mae is a series of books published by Five Mile Press and each are about a small girl who explores the world around her through seasons, play and the natural world.

As we read Mille-Mae and the Lemon tree we too were inspired to make our own lemonade for our home party! Books can inspire great change and through this we were able to avoid buying juice and soft drinks – therefore avoiding plastic waste.

Millie-Mae and the Lemon Tree has a touch and feel aspect as well as lovely shiny pieces which add to the magic of learning to this story.

Mille-Mae and the Lemon Tree is a lovely sweet story and we will be keeping an eye out for more Millie-Mae books!

So what can you do?

 – Make your own lemonade! We used the following recipe 

– Explore other food you can make from scratch and through buying food in bulk so to avoid single use plastic.

– Explore Mille-Mae and and find out why she wanted to make lemonade and how she shared it. What could you do? There is often a lemonade stand in our street once or twice a year!

– Empower yourself and your child to rely on the supermarket less and less. There are many things we can do. It does take a little bit of extra time but in the long run it is worth it.

We all need picture books

Just recently I have heard some parent’s discussing reading and how they really want their child to start reading longer fiction books and no more picture books.

Junior fiction books are wonderful as are fiction but there is always room for a picture book!

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Why do we need picture books even as older readers?

  1. Picture books allow us to see what someone else is thinking through art.
  2. Picture books can teach us about big issues in a short amount of time.
  3. Picture books allow us to have a deep and meaningful discussion in a short amount of reading time.
  4. Your child will become a better reader through picture books. It is short and achievable and there are pictures to support learning new words.
  5. Picture books are fun – and we want reading to be fun always!
  6. Picture books develop your child’s language skills.
  7. Picture books are great for those with shorter attention spans.
  8. The skills of visual literacy are developed through reading picture books.
  9. We can read lots of picture books in half an hour!
  10. It is always wonderful to have a huge picture book stack on the bedside table – it inspires your child to dream, imagine and create!

And sometimes you forget

Every day I try to be the most environmentally friendly person I can be and every day I hope that I am inspiring my children to also be friendly to the world they live in. 

But sometime life and convenience gets in the way.

Today, on the way home from a weekend away my husband wanted a coffee for the long drive ahead-and the keep cup was buried somewhere underneath our luggage. 

He could have done without but sometimes after sleepless nights with young children a coffee is a necessity! 

So rather than feeling Eco-guilty and beating myself up about it,  I can choose to recycle the lid and reuse the non-recyclable coffee cup. 

So here are some cups full of soil and seed! We know these cups are going to last a while so they can easily live in the garden and withstand heat, cold and water. 

Teach your children to care about the word they live in but don’t let them fear the world. Educate them so they are empowered to make the right decisions and if they have to take the option which isn’t ideal, teach them what they can do. 

We don’t want to burden our children with fear. We want to give them knowledge and tools to live an informed life. 

And remember -books are a great way to help with this education! Check out my list of books that link to sustainability. 

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The Fall by Tristan Bancks

Wow. I’ve literally just finished this book and I’m blown away by this action packed, adrenaline pumping and hair raising crime thriller- The Fall by Tristan Bancks. 


As a librarian I try to read as many books as I can but this one, as soon as it arrived, I couldn’t put it down. 

The main character, Sam- a want to be crime reporter is visiting his Dad, Harry Garner (a real crime reporter).

 But in the middle of the night Sam hears raised voices and witnesses a body fall from the apartment above his. His father is missing and Sam, using his amateur detective skills is determined to find out who killed this man as soon as he can. 

Enlisting the help of his Dad’s dog, Magic and his neighbour, Scarlet, he finds out more than he bargained for and lands himself in more trouble than he thought. 

The Fall is a gripping story that not only is an amazing read but it teaches the reader many tips about being yourself, believing in yourself and living life with open eyes, open ears and an open heart. 

I loved the Ten Commandments of life that Sam creates on reflection of the dramatic events that happened that fateful evening. 

They are something that all young readers should aim to live by. 

Can’t wait for some more great suspense raising reads by Tristan Bancks. 

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! 


Buy Now Button

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? 

Don’t forget the numeracy skills

There is a lot of focus on Literacy skills – and so there should be BUT numeracy is equally important and the embedding of those basic skills in the early years is really important.

However, many parents may feel that numeracy doesn’t play a role in home readers and sight words BUT it can.

  •  Count the letters in each word in the selected group of sight words. Group them according the number of letters in each group.
  •  Clap out and talk about or write down the amount of syllables in each word.
  •  Stretch out each word and count how many sounds there are in the word as opposed to just letters. (e.g. shop has ‘sh’ ‘o’ ‘p’)

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When reading:

  •  Look at the page numbers – discuss odd and even numbers. Look at how many pages there are and count on from the last number.
  • How many illustrations are in the story?
  • How many full stops?
  • How long is the book? Use informal measurements such as fingerspaces before you measure in centimetres.
  • How heavy is the book? What might it weigh the same as?
  • What shape is the book? What else is shaped like this? Count sides and then think about why books are square and not triangle or circular!

 

And perhaps consider this article, a very good reason to help your child to love mathematics: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/a-dire-lack-of-interest-in-students-wanting-to-pursue-maths-careers-20170330-gv9pwa.html

 

At the Zoo I see by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells

At the Zoo I See by Joshua Button and Robyn Wells and published by Magabala books  is a vibrant board book for younger readers.

At the Zoo I See is a colourful parade of creatures found in zoos around the world including many wonderful Australian animals. As you turn each page your child will be delighted by the vibrant pictures of animals you can see at the zoo.

I loved the adjectives used in the short board book as it gave each animal more meaning to how they move about in their daily life. We loved discussing why the cassowary was queenly!

At the Zoo I see is another harmonious collaboration between Joshua Button, a descendent of the Walmajarri people and artist Robyn Wells who resides in the Kimberley area. Each animal is true to it’s colour in nature and is depicted as alive and alert. This board book is part of the Young Art Series which showcases the work of young indigenous artists.

Zoo’s are an important part of a natural world especially with the destruction of animal habitats every day all over the world. It is important that we make our children aware of the wonderful animals that their local zoo takes care of. Although zoos may seem cruel in that the animals are caged, without this many of the animals we see at the zoo would already be endangered or extinct.

Board Books are a wonderful way to start your child reading and At the Zoo I See connects creative sentences alongside colourful pictures to mesmerise young readers and allow them to learn more about animals and reading.

So how can you link this book to other activities?

Sustainability

  • Talk about the animals in the book and perhaps explore theses animals further through research, other books and videos of the animals.
  • Go to your local zoo and find out more about the work the people at the zoo do for the animals.
  • Wombats, Quolls and Cassowaries are all Australian animals – find out where they live, how they live and how they are effected by feral animals and habitat destruction.
  • Find other picture books that include animals

Literacy

  • After finding out more about each animal, try to think of other adjectives that could describe the animal.
  • What other words start with the same sound as the animal? Have some fun with alliteration such as wobbly wombat, quokka on a quest and calm cassowary.
  • For older readers work out which animal is first if put in alphabetical order.
  • Ask your child – what do you think these animals are doing? Use the pictures on the pages to help answer these questions (look at the eyes, movement of animal and anything else in the drawing)

Indigenous Australia

  • Find out what the animal names are in your local indigenous dialect.
  • What is the young art series and how is this helping young indigenous artists?
  • How are different Australian animals important to different Indigenous groups of Australia? Which Australian animals live in your area?

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.

Yucky Worms by Vivian French

If worms are underground farmers what are the underwater farmers?

 How does an animal survive without a sense? Investigate different creatures that can live without one of the senses we feel we must have.

 List some other animals that are deemed as ‘yucky’ and find out why. Is there a way to raise their profile?


Have you ever wondered if you chop a worm in half will it just grow a new head and keep on wriggling on? Or why people refer to worms as underground farmers?

Well, look no further than Yucky Worms by Vivian French! Delicately illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg, Yucky worms is an informative story told by a gardening grandmother to her inquisitive grandson.

Perhaps many of us have reacted to worms in the garden as yucky, disgusting, slimy or dirty (which they can be) but without them, as you will discover in the story, we would not have the fertile soil that we need to grow fruits, flowers and vegetables.

As you read through Yucky worms (published by Candlewick press) readers young and old can learn about worm anatomy, eating habits, habitat and how they survive in different situations through story, labelled diagrams and funny worm conversations!

So how can you use this story to inspire some worm loving?

SCIENCE

  • Create a large worm diagram and label it using your own words. Investigate worm life cycles, diet, habitat and anatomy.
  • Buy or make a worm farm!
  • Investigate worm farms – how do they work? What do worms need to eat? What can kill the worm farm worms? What can they live without? What can’t they live without?

GEOGRAPHY

  • Is there anywhere in the world where worms cannot live?
  • Is there anywhere in the world where worms do not want to live due to human acitivity?
  • If you were a worm what would you enjoy doing the most?
  • Many people on the dance floor think they can do a move called the worm but can worms really dance? And, is that move doing worm bristles and muscular movement justice?
  • Write an ode to the worm.