The Garden of Hope by Isabel Otter and Katie Rewse

A young girl, a father and a dog – together yet alone since her mother passed away.

The house was a mess, the little girl Maya felt lonely and often sad and anxious.

But on one particularly sad day, her father tells her about the garden and how much it meant to her mother – especially when she was worried about something.

So grabbing gloves and boots Maya takes on the garden overgrown with weeds.

Maya tidies the garden and freshens the soil and we see by her face that she is relaxed and happier, doing something she knew her mother loved too.

Seeds are sown and hope is planted – then finally they grow.

Maya cared for the garden as much as she could, spending more time out there when she felt angry or upset and helping her father to spend time out there too.

Together they made the garden beautiful again and together they found hope – that despite all the darkness that they were feeling there was beauty in the world and because of the hope they had sowed – it had become even more beautiful!

The Garden of Hope is a story to read with anyone who has lost someone as it  provides hope.

Together you can see that life can be beautiful despite all the darkness and that if we continue to do things that make us feel joy, place more beauty back in the world and support each other, life can be the joyous place that it is meant to be.

Death can be a difficult topic to talk about and books are a great way to start this conversation. You may not talk about much more than the story but it may ignite that small flame inside the young children to know that life can go on.

Keep this book to share with someone you know needs some hope in their lives.

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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.  

Being a bee by Jinny Johnson and Lucy Davey

Discover the secret life of bees from queens to the waggle dance, hives and honey. 

Have you ever wondered about how your flowers grow so brightly or perhaps how tomatoes grow so rapidly or even how weeds seem to appear all over your garden without the slightest hint of a breeze?


Well, wonder no more – Being a bee by Jinny Johnson and Lucy Davey explains the many facets of a bee through simple explanation and colourful illustrations.

In this lively book  children will love learning about bees. They will be introduced to the delightful queen bee and then shown how the babies are fed and grown in the hive alongside where honey is kept for safekeeping.

We learn how and why bees to a waggle dance and how important it is for them to work together as a team.

The section on beekeeping was eye opening and helped us to really appreciate the tub of honey we have sitting in our cupboard.

The flat design illustrations abound with green and yellow and flashes of colourful flowers – which without bees would be no more.

Being a bee is a great way to introduce your young reader to the importance of bees and the valuable role they play in our society.  There is a lot of news in the media at the moment about the need to bring bees back.

So what can you do at home or at school with this book?

Sustainability

  • Have a look around your home and see what would entice any type of insect to your area? all insects are beneficial and attracting them to something they can live off or eat is important. It’s better they live off the plants than things in your house!
  • PROJECT: How can we provide the best home for attracting bees? Investigate what the bees (local to your area) need. Draw up a plan of what the hive would look like, where it should be placed, what conditions it needs to attract bees and to survive. (This project includes outcome links to mathematics, literacy, science and geography)
  •  Herbs are an easy plant to start with as they can be grown in small planter boxes on windowsills – give rosemary, thyme or mint a go.
  • It is important that you find out about the beneficial flowers that help bees in your area too. Australian stingless bees love:

 

Abelia x grandiflora Abelia
Buddleja * Butterfly Bush
Callistemon  Bottlebrush
Eucalyptus  Gum Blossom
Grevillea Spider Flower
Lavandula Lavender
Leptospermum Tea Tree
Melaleuca Honey Myrtle
Westringia Rosemary
Many Varieties Daisies

Literacy

  • Find some more books that have bees in them – you’ll bee surprised! Do these stories all have a similar message to tell?
  • Compare scientific literature to children books that are on the topic of bees. Why do we need both types of literature out there to understand the need for bees in our world? Create your own bee themed picture book based on some scientific literature.
  • Create your own story about your adventure with a bee. Which flowers would you like to visit? Divide a page into four sections and draw a series of pictures that show what you would like to do with a bee to make sure there are enough flowers, fruits and vegetables in the world.

SCIENCE

How is honey used in our lives apart from to eat? Investigate the different properties of honey and how it is used in a myriad of products!

GEOGRAPHY

Where are bees located? What type of environment do they need to thrive? Create a honey bee and a stingless bee map of Australia.

NUMERACY

Why are honey bee hives made out of hexagonal shapes?

Why do stingless bee hives spiral shaped?

Investigate the different shapes of bee hives across the globe and why they are this shape. Could they be another shape? Investigate if there is a better way to keep honey in a hive.

https://www.hachette.com.au/jinny-johnson/being-a-bee

 

Animals in my garden by Bronwyn Houston

Have you ever wanted to be a biologist?

Have you ever wondered how they count all those animals in the wild?

Counting animals is great fun – and predicting the whole amount of animals in a pride, nest or swarm isn’t easy work when they don’t sit still for too long.

Animals in my garden by Bronwyn Houston is a great start for those budding scientists – and they only need to be able to count to ten!

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The animals in this garden are all Australian animals and many of these animals we actually do see in our garden – we haven’t seen a snake yet but I’m sure they are around from time to time.

We loved counting the animals on each page and talking about the different places they were in the garden and the activity they were up to.

As a board book published by Magabala Books this is a colourful story for younger readers as not only are they listening to words, they are also learning about counting and Australian animals.

We also loved comparing this book to the original story by Bronwyn Houston – Counting Aussie animals in my backyard. By comparing the two books we were able to look at how the animals were placed differently, discuss why there were different adjectives and verbs and also wonder about which book would suit different readers.

Browyn Houston’s illustrations are detailed with texture, patterns and bright colours – just looking at them alone is a great joy!

Animals in my Garden is a wonderful addition to any little readers library!

So what else can you do?

  • Create your own version of Animals in my garden by going outside and finding different animals that reside on your balcony, backyard or nearby park!

By helping your child explore the local environment you are showing them that they are not the only living thing around. When we realise that other living things also live near us we should be more aware of how everything we do impacts others.

When you create your own book you are not only helping your child to learn how to count but also count animals that are moving around in front of them. It doesn’t always have to be animals – insects are abundant in any open space so see what you can find!

  • Have a go at creating your own illustrations too using the techniques Bronwyn Houston has used.
  • Share your new book out loud to others – by creating something that others apart from the creator sees gives it more meaning and may inspire more creations!

Florette by Anna Walker

Have you ever felt like the world you live in lacks green? Or perhaps you can’t remember the last time you saw a flower bloom or a butterfly flap past.

Florette by Anna Walker is just the book to read to inspire you to turn your world from grey, brown man made landscapes into luscious green spaces that encourage laughter and love.

Mae’s family moved to a new home, away from friends and her garden. Mae misses the apples trees, daffodils and leafy cubbies. She misses the wavy grass, daisies and space for a swing.

Until one day she discovers a Florette and  a small stalk of plant. Mae doesn’t know where the stalk will take her but she has a new spring in her step, hope in her heart and inspiration in her mind.

Anna Walker’s illustrations bring this story to life as we watch Mae transform from the dull grey landscape into the living green space she creates.

Florette is a beautiful story for those who might  live in a world of grey, showing that with a little inspiration we can all have our own green patch.

So what can you do?

At Home

  1. Grow your own seeds: Grab an old egg carton and some seeds (use apple seeds, tomatoe seeds or store bought seeds). Place some tissue in the carton and then place a seed on the tissue. Cover with another layer of tissue and add water.
  2. Where are the local green spaces in your area? Find them – can you walk to them?
  3. What is the purpose of a Florette? Investigate any local Florette’s in your area.
  4. Grow a new plant from the graft of another plant. Investigate which plants can do this – you will be surprised!

In the Classroom

  1. Inferencing:

START

– Focus on Mae’s point of view – how is she feeling? How can we learn what she is feeling? How do we know this. Discuss if these inferences are justified. Then move onto her parents point of view. (Page can be split into two)

– How do they both feel about their new home? New view? New lifestyle? Find images and words in the story to help justify this.

CREATE

– How would you feel in this landscape: What would you do? Draw your viewpoint.

Extend 1 :

–  Compare the different points of view. How and why are they different? Use a Venn diagram to compare differences and justify these differences through quotes. Draw the differences of what they might see out the window.

Extend 2:

–  Create an image to recreate from both Mae’s and the mothers point of view. How might they see the garden differently? The new house? Are each of their view’s fair on each other? Could one viewpoint overtake the others? What would it mean if one viewpoint was to disappear?

Numeracy

Plan a garden of your own in a space in your neighbourhood or backyard!

The importance of nature play. 

There is a lot of new research coming out on the importance of play and the importance of play outside.

As a teacher I have always observed children learning best when they are in a relaxed and informal environment. In saying this, there is always a place for teaching and mentoring but there is also a place for exploration, making mistakes and collaboration.


I love being outside – it just makes me happier. I love being in natural areas where there is less human activity and more time to sit back and admire what is around us. So when I became a librarian I couldn’t think of a better way to get children outside than through books!

Research shows that playing outside increases happiness, problem solving and motivation. When children play outside they use more imagination as there are less boundaries, they can problem solve and they can learn about the world they live in through their 5 senses.


Now, you often think of books as an inside activity – which they can be (and often are) and this is fine BUT what if we can take ideas from these books and use them to inspire some outdoor play?

Here are some books which might inspire you to take a trip outside!

 

Go on an adventure

We are going on a bear hunt

This is a classic book that we all know and love. It is so much fun to read and sing to and is a favourite of ours.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Go on your own bear hunt! Find some swishy grass, splashy water and sloshy mud – lots of fun!
  • Can you go on a native Australian animal hunt? Which animals live in your area?
  • Pack a bag and go on a short hike. Think of the different things you need to cope with storms, rain, wind and sunshine!

Worm explorers

The worm who knew karate by Terry Denton and Jill Lever

The worm who knew karate By Jill Lever and Terry Denton is a hilarious book about a worm who decides to become a braver and stronger worm through the art of karate! Which made me think….how can we help our children to build their confidence? And what do those worms in my worm farm really get up to? Maybe it’s a secret dojo I have never been aware of….

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • go and dig up some dirt – find some earth worms!
  • Go and buy a worm farm or explore your local community garden worm farm.
  • Feed the worms – what do they like best?

Create a garden

The curious Garden by Peter Brown

One boy’s quest for a greener world, one garden at a time.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is a book based on fact. The Highline is an abandoned railway line that people began to take back over and return it back to nature and open spaces for people to enjoy.

It is a poignant book as many cities, suburbs and towns are starting to explore how they can become greener, literally.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Keep a seed diary – plant a seed and watch it grow! (use quick growing seeds like herbs, beans or sunflowers)
  • Look at a local park or your own backyard and redesign it so there is more growing and more green.
  • Make an inventory of the nature in your area. Discuss biodiversity of plants and animals.

Explore insects

Mechanics by Lance Baldachin

Mechanica: A beginner’s field guide by Lance Baldachin is a picture book for those who love the earth but wonder what is to become of it if we keep treating it the way we do.

It is circa 2250 and the earth is devoid of any natural life due to human destruction and consumption. However, mechanical creatures have been made to replace what was lost – though these are not always as kind as they look!

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Find some insects and sketch them. Look at how they move their arms and legs. Try to recreate an insect out of natural material.
  • Create an insect house for your local insects. Many insects are lacking in city gardens as there are not enough small holes for them to live in.
  • Look for signs of life cycles of insects  – these can be hard to find but it will make your child look in the small places that we often overlook.

Explore new places

Bogtrotter by Margaret Wild

The Bogtrotter 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.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Go to a new park, a new national park or any outdoor space.
  • Walk a path you walk everyday but do it slowly and try to notice the small things as you go along. Talk to people, say hello and notice what is happening.
  • Take something outside that you normally do inside – does it make a difference?

 

Imagination

Incredibilia by Libby Hathorn

I loved reading Incredibilia by Libby Hathorn and illustrated by Gaye Chapman to my children, the pictures really transport you to an imaginative world full of crazy creatures, whispy clouds and natural beauty. We loved looking at each page and imagining what Georgie was thinking about, what she was playing and how the others could play to.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Take some ribbons, balls, string and scraps and see what you can do with them outside rather than a specific toy.
  • Create new names for the local insects, trees and flowers in your garden or local park – imagination!
  • Go somewhere or find something that you think is incredibilia!

Being Green

Leaf by Stephen Michael King

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.

After you read this book, with your child you can…..

  • Perform a puppet show outside with leaves as the characters – draw on them and create a story!
  • What can you grow out of different substances? Explore how seeds grow and what they need to grow.
  • How heavy are different trees. Use problem solving to try and work this out.

 

I hope this has inspired you to read some books and play outside! I have many more ideas each week on my blog so please sign up to flickingonthebook.wordpress.com

 

 

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

One boy’s quest for a greener world, one garden at a time.

IMG_0249

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown is a book based on fact. The Highline is an abandoned railway line that people began to take back over and return it back to nature and open spaces for people to enjoy.

It is a poignant book as many cities, suburbs and towns are starting to explore how they can become greener, literally.

Many homes are using patches of their backyards for veggies patches and making the most of windowsill space.

We loved reading this story, not only watching the plants grow in strange places but also watching the people come out into their city to cultivate and enjoy the green space.

So what can you do?

Keep a seed diary.

Find some easy to grow seeds that produce colourful results – plenty of different types os sunflowers and everlasting native daisies are wonderful! The Diggers club have some great heirloom seeds on offer, worth checking out! A fresh legacy is also a great website for tips on how to grow a great veggie patch with your family!

Grow your own food.

I just listened to a great podcast by Laura Trotta with special guest Jessica Donovan. It highlights the importance of trying to grow some small amount of your own food. By growing your own food it gives your child a great link to where their food comes from, how long it takes to grow and how we need to help plants to grow. You can check it out here.

Plan your dream garden.

With your children get out your tape measures and scrap paper and plan your dream garden. Would you create a small maze out of lillypilli bushes? A herb maze? A stingless bee hive? A sunflower patch? Native flower garden?  A recycled water feature? The possibilities are endless and you can have so much fun doing it!

Do you work somewhere where you could plan a rooftop garden? If you do see if you can otherwise have some fun planning a rooftop garden on your apartment, townhouse or house roof or walls!

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Edible weeds

How about investigating edible weeds? I haven’t done it yet but I am keen to find out what we can eat in our own backyard. We don’t spray our grass and it’s only the chickens who peck and poo all over it so I would guess our dandelions and purslane and other weeds could be an added delicacy!

Have fun!

Part of growing your own garden is about having fun. We even planted some seeds in an old shoe as we lost the other shoe! Have fun, try something new and get outside!

Links

Mathematics

  •  Measurement – mm, cm and m.
  • Explore cm2 and m2.
  • Explore design with shapes
  • Measure rainfall – ml & l
  • Seeds per m2

Sustainability

  •  Grow your own food.
  • Link the importance of sustainable food growth but growing a variety of food and sourcing local food
  • Understand the importance of biodiversity and the need for different flowers and plants.