Letters to change the world

Christmas has just passed and perhaps your house is now filled with excess toys and packaging.

Over summer we have been talking about toy quality and how some last, while others don’t, which toys are great to have and which ones we will forget about in one week.

From this we have decided to write letters to toy companies and asking them to make changes to the material toys and their packaging is made out of.

I have done this in class with a group of Year 2 students so any age group can follow the following formula to make a letter be read and replied to.

Here is a suggestion of how to get children to enjoy writing letters to companies of their favourite toys…. It’s simple and allows the children to still enjoy having toys – but gets them to think about how small changes can make a big difference!

Dear (Try to find the name of the CEO),

  1. Talk about why you love their toys and all of the things you like to do with them.
  2. Give them a suggestion as to how these toys could be changed so they have less of a devastating effect on the environment.
  3. Tell them that you hope you can see a change and you are looking forward to a reply.
  4. Sign off and add a return address.

Can you inspire your child to write a letter to a company asking them to make a change for the good of the world?

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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

Amazing Australian Women by Pamela Freeman and Sophie Beer.

Twelve Australian women who have shaped history and all from different eras and different walks of life.

In the last two years there has been an increase in books about women who have made a difference in the world but this book is a little different.

Focussing on only 12 women and covering each state of Australia, the short stories written about each woman give us some information about where and how they grew up and what inspired them to start on the pathway that made them famous.

Each story is short and engaging so younger readers will enjoy reading these stories and looking and the vibrant illustrations that match what the woman looked like and what she did.

The book has also included a more information section at the back of the book to help young readers or their parents and teachers to use websites that are trusted to give them reliable information.

We especially loved the final page in this book which inspired many of my young readers

So ask yourself:

What is my story going to be?

What will I do?

How will I change my world? 

Amazing australian women by pamela freeman and sophie beer

101 Collective Nouns by Jennifer Cossins

Have you ever wondered what to call a group of seals?otters? cows?

Well wonder no more – this is the book for you!


101 Collective Nouns by Jennifer Cossins is a highly engaging and educational book that teaches the reader the different group names given to different types of animals – well 101 of them!

Who thought of calling a group of cranes a siege? or a group of goldfish troubling?

The background behind each group name isn’t given but it sparked our interest  – which is something I love about this book. Being able to spark an interest or some extra imagination is a wonderful characteristic of a great book.

Jennifer Cossins illustrations are delightful and show the diversity of size, shape and colour within each animal group.

101 Collective nouns is a great way to start teaching  others about not only the amazing animals we have living on our planet but also the creativity of the English language!

So what can you do at home?

 – Find out why the different group names are given to each animal.

– If you could change any of these group names what would you change them to?

– Are any of these animals endangered?

Check out some more of Jennifer Cossins designs

Published by Lothian Children’s books (Hachette Childrens)

 

Fuzzy Doodle by Melinda Szymanik

Creativity seems to be a recurring theme at the moment – and I love creativity, it links in so many different topics and encourages thinking in so many different ways.

Fuzzy Doodle is a sophisticated picture book that delves into creativity through a small fuzzy doodle that magically comes to life through eating ink and words. Each page brings our imagination to life as we see this small scribble develop, change and grow into a beautiful butterfly. The pictures are eye catching and children love seeing the transformation of the print as Fuzzy grows.

 

fuzzydoodle

 

Fuzzy Doodle uses different poetic devices to tell us the story in a sing song fashion and really captures readers of all ages.

The pictures are stunning and the illustrator Donovan Bixley has used an array of painting and drawing techniques to show the little Fuzzy Doodle change and grow.

 

So how can we use this at home or in the classroom?

Science

Literacy

  • Explore the adjectives, adverbs, nouns and verbs used within this story. How does Fuzzy eat the words? Think of as many different words as you can for eating and rank the words from the hungriest type of eating to the least. Rank them from the politest to the rudest types of eating.

Creative thinking

  • Create your own doodle and swap with a partner. Ask them to grow and change the doodle so it grows into something.

Sustainability

  • Explore small insects and how they grow and develop over time. Explore why we need insects to make the world go around.

 

Curriculum Links

Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072)

 

Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)  

Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)

Bogtrotter by Margaret Wild

What is a Bogtrotter you might ask?

bogtrotter

He is a delightful creature that lives in the bog – a gloomy, marshy, mushy bog! Bogtotter, written by Margaret Wild is a book that focuses on belonging, trying new things, playing outdoors, loneliness and discovery.

The illustrations by Judith Rossell are marvellous, really bringing to life the Bogtrotter and his feelings.

The reader steps through into the life of the Bogtrotter, watching him start off doing the same thing every day, not knowing how to make a change. It is through talking to other animals around him and picking a flower that he sees that there is more to his bog.

So how can we use this book?

  • Get outside more often. It is easy to be inside with all of the gadgets, toys and applicances but some of these can be used outside too! Grab a pile of books and read them outside, take a picnic blanket onto a small patch of grass and set up some games, eat lunch outside, take photos, pick flowers/grass/leaves! there are so many things we can do outside.
  • Learn outside – many teachers spend all the teaching time in the classroom. Is it possible to have at least one lesson outside? Start with one a week then build it up.
  • Try something new – even if it is something small, once a week. You are opening yourself up to new experiences which in turn helps your thinking and view of the world.

 

SUSTAINABILITY

  • In order to understand the world and the issues within we need to get out. We need to try new things, read new things and listen to others ideas. Ignorance really is bliss but there is so much out there in the world that by trying something new or listening to someone else’s thoughts actively, we can really make a difference!

LITERACY

Before you read:

What is a Bogtrotter? What is a bog? How will picking a flower change his life?

As you read

Have a set of word cards (see my store) out that can be found during the reading (you may like to read once without the words so children can enjoy the story). As the words are found, discuss the meaning using skills of inferring. Group these words into groups of your choice (verbs, adjectives, feelings etc)

After you read

  • Retell the story in your own words using the pictures to help. Which words from the book will help you to tell the story in the most interesting way?
  • Why does Bogtrotter only say ‘Ah’ (this allows us to think more, perhaps he only needs to say ah) If you were to re tell this story – would you change this?
  • Cycles: Draw up the daily cycle of the Bogtrotter at the beginning of the book. Add to this or draw another to show how his cycle evolved over time. Link this to how we can make small changes in our life to make a difference in how we feel.
  • What are the main themes here? See what the children can come up with. Ask them to give examples through words used in the story and images drawn.
  • Persuasive text: Why should we make changes? Why should we play and learn outside?
  • Link to Choose your own Adventure stories  – How can we choose our own adventures? Look at these great planning ideas.
  • Thought bubbles: How would we write this as a comic strip or a story which uses thought bubbles? Discuss how thought bubbles can tell a story and create one!

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

  •  Bogtrotter feels lonely but through meeting a frog, he is inspired to make a change. Discuss how children can make changes to their life to improve it. Write down a list of things they would like to change and a plan on how they can change it by themselves or through the help of others. Draw on the importance of community and that loneliness is one of the biggest causes of depression.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LINKS TO CURRICULUM

LITERACY

Discuss characters and events in a range of literary texts and share personal responses to these texts, making connections with students’ own experiences (ACELT1582)

Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning about key events, ideas and information in texts that they listen to, view and read by drawing on growing knowledge of context, text structures and language features (ACELY1660)

Create short imaginative and informative texts that show emerging use of appropriate text structure, sentence-level grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation and appropriate multimodal elements, for example illustrations and diagrams (ACELY1661)

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

Describe how respect, empathy and valuing diversity can positively influence relationships (ACPPS037)

Participate in outdoor games and activities to examine how participation promotes a connection between the community, natural and built environments, and health and wellbeing (ACPPS041)

Examine the influence of emotional responses on behaviour and relationships (ACPPS056

Recognise how media and important people in the community influence personal attitudes, beliefs, decisions and behaviours (ACPPS057)

 

SUSTAINABILITY

OI.5 World views are formed by experiences at personal, local, national and global levels, and are linked to individual and community actions for sustainability.

OI.7 Actions for a more sustainable future reflect values of care, respect and responsibility, and require us to explore and understand environments.

Walking with the seasons in Kakadu

There is more to a season than just a change in name or change in our clothes – but do city dwelling children know this?

The weather plays a big role in our lives. As a modern day city dweller the weather affects the clothes I wear, my daily activities and my choice between thongs or gumboots as I run outside to feed the chooks.

BUT for many seasons play a vital role in survival.

Weather effects growth of food, healing of soil, hibernation of animals, plants and insects, movement of land and traditionally movement of people.

Walking with the seasons in Kakadu focuses our learning towards the seasons of the Top End of Australia. As we walk through the story we learn how the people feel with each changing season, what happens in that season and how they prepare for the next.

This story is full of rich illustrations and the information is presented to the reader in small easy to digest format spoken by members of the tribe.

Although this book is set in the top end you can relate it to your own environment. You can help children become more aware of the seasons around them – take them and show them there is more to a season than just a change in the name. Go outside and watch buds grow, notice the different insects that come out at different times of the year, and keep a photo diary to remember and compare.

How can we link this to our students and children at home?

Science

Life Cycles – See my teacher pay teachers store to purchase this inquiry based lesson plan: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Different-Kids-Different-Lessons

Senses

– Go outside at least once a day and take notes about a tree, grass patch, small srhub. Note the change in leaf colour, insect and animal behaviour around the plant, smell in the air, bud appearing and soil texture.

– Purchase a rain guage and outside thermometer – children will love to see what the temperature is at theie house as compared to the local weather report!

Out by Angela May George

Out by Angela May George (Published by Scholastic Australia)  is a sad yet heartwarming story about a young refugee girl who has settled in a new country with her mother.

This beautiful story follows how the girls feels in her new home and the fears she still faces because of what she has been through.

out

Owen Swan’s illustrations provide the gentle and moving touch needed to really allow the reader to feel like they are moving along with the girl and feeling what she is feeling.

I shed a tear at the end of this story.

This week is Refugee Week and really, we should always be thinking of the refugees that are in Australia and those who want to be in Australia. Many hold terrible memories like the young girl and her mother and need support to start fresh.

I hope that you can share this story with others, showing the refugees are not the enemy but just like you and me. They too need love, support, friends and family. They too hold memories of fear and hope.

So how can we embed this into the curriculum?

Before you read:

  •  Why are two people in colour on the front cover and the rest in black and white?
  • What might out mean?
  • Back Cover: What does it mean ‘ I’m called an asylum seeker but that’s not my name’ ?

As you read

  •  What does Brave mean to you?
  •  Have you ever felt like the girls running on page 2?
  • Imagine feeling as isolated as the boat in the ocean scene.
  • When do you feel free? What does feeling free mean to you? How does this differ from the girl in the story?
  • Does this story have a happy ending?

fathers day gifts

After you read

LITERACY

  •  Older students could write a recount/ diary entry remembering a time when they felt fear – if they cannot recall an event they can imagine it.
  •  Find images of Refugees & asylum seekers. Link emotions to their faces.
  • Dramatise different emotions linked to different situations in the story.  Show a picture in the story and ask children to freeze an emotion.
  • Write a persuasive letter to the government outlining why we need to accept Asylum seekers.
  • Have a debate about asylum seekers in Australia.
  • Look at the picture of the girl and mother huddled together on the boat – list how they are feeling. Think of a time you have felt like this.
  • Which stories would you tell if you were on a very long journey without any technology?
  • Can you find out about another language? Create your own simple welcome brochure for your own community.
  • Link this book to other books (The happiest refugee by Anh Do, Mirror by Jeannie Baker) compare and contrast the different stories of these young children.

NUMERACY

  • Research statistics on the number of refugees in Australia. Compare this to other countries around the world.
  • Find out where refugees have settled in Australia. Use tables to show this information.

SOCIAL JUSTICE

  • Why are people refugees? Find out the different reasons someone may be a refugee.
  • What is a refugee? What is an asylum seeker? What is an immigrant? FInd out and compare differences.
  • Discover different popular music from different lands. How do people enjoy this music. Compare and contrast the different music.
  • How can we make our community more welcoming for those who are new to Australia?

PROBLEM SOLVING

  • Could you catch a fish with just two simple materials such as a shoelace and a hook? Shoelace and a button? Think of as many combinations as you can from two objects that you have on you right now.
  • Why do we have refugees in this world? Can we rid the world of needing to have refugees? Are there different types of refugees?
  • What does it mean to be BRAVE? How can we be BRAVE? Do we need to be BRAVE?

Buy this unit of work here with accompanying printables:
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Curriculum links:

Ethical understanding

Intercultural Understanding

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A forest by Marc Martin

A forest by Marc Martin immediately captured my attention with the creatively painted forest on the front cover.

forest

The tiny trees that envelop the front cover , each one completely different from each other, have been drawn with water colours, texta, pencil and ink.

A forest tells a story through simple words and captivating pictures about a forest being destroyed due to human greed but then growing again through human care. A true story of hope and empowerment.

I loved reading this story to my children and they enjoyed listening and looking at the illustrations. It is a poignant story and one which helps to grow awareness of the importance of the natural world just outside out doorstep.

It’s a brave story with tender words and memorable images. It’s a must read for anyone who loves a good picture book with a message of hope.

So,  how can we have fun with this story before, during and after we have read it?

 

Literacy

  1.   Tell the story without any words – ask your child or class to tell their own story. Storytelling is a timeless art, increases vocabulary and imagination and is a lot of fun. Children can see the story how they wish to see it. Give it a go.

Mathematics

  1. Using measurement skills, work out how many trees per cm2. Students can attempt to work out what this would look like if the scale was 1cm2=1km2. Research different forests of Australia and the size of them. Predict how many different trees would be in these spaces & perhaps even the variety of trees (Fostering the importance of biodiversity)
  2. Make tree patterns, not only learning about different types of patterns but also exploring different types of trees around the school or neighbourhood!
  3. Measure different tress that are in the school grounds or the local park. This could even be monitored over the year to see how they all grow differently.
  4. How many different types of trees are in the local area? Create different data displays.

Visual Art

  1.  Create your own forest – perhaps an Australian version (rainforest, eucalyptus forest, mangrove, melaluca etc) . Or create your own city – research cities of Australia and the world. Look at the lines used in the buildings and recreate your own using texta.

Thinking skills & sustainability

  1. Compare the differences between the two groups of people portrayed in this story. Link this to people who are in our world. Try to walk in both shoes and work out why people make these decisions and why they think they are doing the right thing OR even why people do things even though they know they are being destructive to the natural world or other people.
Links:

Literacy

Experiment with text structures and language features and their effects in creating literary texts, for example, using imagery, sentence variation, metaphor and word choice (ACELT1800),
Create literary texts using realistic and fantasy settings and characters that draw on the worlds represented in texts students have experienced (ACELT1612)
Create literary texts by developing storylines, characters and settings (ACELT1794)
Create imaginative texts based on characters, settings and events from students’ own and other cultures using visual features, for example perspective, distance and angle (ACELT1601)
Create events and characters using different media that develop key events and characters from literary texts (ACELT1593)
Recreate texts imaginatively using drawing, writing, performance and digital forms of communication (ACELT1586)
Retell familiar literary texts through performance, use of illustrations and images (ACELT1580)

Mathematics

Sort and classify familiar objects and explain the basis for these classifications. Copy, continue and create patterns with objects and drawings (ACMNA005)
Measure and compare the lengths and capacities of pairs of objects using uniform informal units (ACMMG019)
Create displays of data using lists, table and picture graphs and interpret them (ACMSP050)
Identify symmetry in the environment (ACMMG066)
Choose appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass (ACMMG108)
Calculate perimeter and area of rectangles using familiar metric units (ACMMG109)
Solve problems involving the comparison of lengths and areas using appropriate units (ACMMG137)

Visual Arts

Use and experiment with different materials, techniques, technologies and processes to make artworks (ACAVAM107)
Use materials, techniques and processes to explore visual conventions when making artworks (ACAVAM111)
Explore ideas and practices used by artists, including practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to represent different views, beliefs and opinions (ACAVAM114)

Sustainability

OI.8 Designing action for sustainability requires an evaluation of past practices, the assessment of scientific and technological developments, and balanced judgements based on projected future economic, social and environmental impacts.

Leaf by Stephen Michael King

I stumbled across this book whilst I was shuffling through the K section of the picture books.

leaf21

The green cover stood out (as I was looking for some more environmentally themed books) so I pulled it off the shelf and quietly read the story.

Stephen Michael King has written some fantastic books that children love and this one is another book for children to enjoy.

Leaf contains little language which is fantastic as it allows the reader to form their own version of the story.

It is wonderful to encourage young readers to let their imagination flow. Children love being given ownership of their own learning and ideas and graphic novels and picture books can allow this creativity to flow.

Leaf shows the love of nature that children can have when given the chance. It also shows the adult world and how everything needs to be neat, tidy and regimented. A sad story on adults behalf!

In this magical story a little boy  grows his own seedling in his hair and loves it, cares for it and shares many adventures with it. He spends every waking minute finding the best way to care for his seedling.

Unfortunately it’s time for a haircut and the adult world tries to take his small tree away from him. However, his determination and resilience shines through and he continues to care for the tree as he grows older.

This is a beautifully drawn book which not only intrigues the reader but really hits the spot on how we need to take a step back and let the natural world become a part of our daily lives.

Take some time out to read this with a child (and by yourself) you will feel refreshed and inspired to make changes in your world.

 

Teaching ideas

This links in easily to the sustainability strand in the Australian curriculum.

English: Writing imaginative texts, Inferencing and reading books with limited writing.

Maths: Creative problem solving – how long could he have kept a tree on his head before it would have made his head lean to the side under the weight?

Create a short puppet play!

Read a ‘green’ script’ (See my post on Little Green Hood)

Work with students to learn how to write a script. (characters, taking turns, importance of italics for movement direction)

OR

Read Leaf by Stephen Michael King & then create a script to perform this as a simple puppet show. You can make it as detailed as you like. (You can use sock puppets or paper plates to keep it simple)