My magnificent jelly bean tree

If I had a Jelly Bean tree, I would care for it while it was small. 

Do you wish that jelly beans grew on trees? 

I’m sure we have all had the dream as a child that if we planted a single jelly bean and cared for it that it would, with a bit of magic, grow into our own little tree full of sugary delights!

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Tantalising all of the senses, this book makes every young person’s dream a reality. Maura Finn’s rhyming texts outlines the reasons why freshly grown jelly beans are so much better than the store bought ones and how within the jelly bean tree there are so many other delights that perhaps you never imagined!

Aura Parker’s illustrations bring out the sugary smell of the jelly bean tree and leave the reader wanting to rush out and plant their own tree once the book is finished!

We did….

Not only does this picture book takes us off to a magical land, it also teaches the reader how to care for a plant and enjoy the fruits it bears. My magnificent Jelly Bean tree is a delight to read to inspire imagination and some gardening!

So what can you do at home? 

Nature

 – Grow your own beans or sunflowers. These are easy seeds to grow and monitor even when you don’t have a veggie patch. Keep a seed diary and draw a daily picture of what is happening to the plant.

 – You’re the head of the CSIRO in 2050 and the world is running out of food. Invent your own type of plant that could feed a family for a week and fit into a small sized garden.

 – Investigate seeds, what they look like at different stages and in different species of plants.  Life cycles of seeds can also be looked at here.

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?

Amelia Ellicott’s Garden by Liliana Stafford and Stephen Michael King

Imagine a garden once loved and tended to but now falling into a state of disarray.

Imagine a neighbourhood which has changed from large houses to apartments.

Imagine a neighbourhood change from a mono culture to a multicultured place.

How would you feel?


Amelia Ellicott’s garden covers many different issues that come up in our society.

Multiculturalism, racism, loneliness, friendship, buying local and sense of community.

Amelia Ellicott has lived in the same street all her life but now she is getting old and cannot care for the garden she once loved. She detests the high rises that surround her house and the people within – who she thinks do not hold values similiar to her.

She wishes to show her baby chicks to others but has no one. Meanwhile in the high rise, people look down longingly at the vegetable patches and baby chicks.

But after a storm things change within this little community and within the heart of Amelia. She allows the people from the apartment to help her bring her garden back to it’s former glory – but with a lot more warmth.

Amelia Ellicott’s Garden is a heart-warming read for anyone and perhaps it will inspire you to say hello to your neighbour? Share some tomatoes with the person next door or maybe join a community garden?

I love Stephen Michael King’s illustrations in all of the book’s he has illustrated and this one is no exception.

So what can you do?

PHILOSOPHY

  • What is community? This is a great philosophical discussion to be had with children as we all perceive community to be different. Look into different types of community, the roles we play – and the importance of each role. Do we all need to play an equal role to be a member of a community?

LITERACY

  • Investigate characters: How do all the different characters feel throughout the story? Compare the different background stories they all have and how this contributes to how they feel towards their community. Could this story be written from another characters perspective? How might they be feeling towards Amelia?

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Check out your local community garden
  • Investigate crop swap organisations
  • Buy some chickens for christmas – they are the best pet – cuddly and give an egg a day (they do poo a bit but that is great for the garden!)

SOMETHING EXTRA….

  • Have a BBQ with your neighbours! We are heading to one this weekend and I can’t wait to have a longer than 10 minute chat with them all!

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 worm who knew karate! By Jill Lever and Terry Denton

 

If a worm has no back bone, is it really that tough?

We are often told to aspire to be the early bird…what would a worm aspire to be like?

Is it fair to say that all worms hang out with bad apples?

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There are too many worm analogies floating through my head right now…I’m sure you can come up with some more – would love to hear them!

 

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

Confidence building in young children is vital. We need to set them up so that they can make it through life’s ups and downs at any stage. By reading books that have characters who make positive changes in their lives allows children to see what they can do when they are in a difficult situation. I know your child is not a worm

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but this book shows them that they can make changes – they can learn something they are unskilled in, they can change friendship groups, they can be different and they can make themselves the best they can be. Books are a great way to tackle those bigger issues and make conversation around them a lot easier.

BUT HOW CAN WE LINK THIS BOOK TO SUSTAINABILITY?

Get yourself a worm farm! Do you need convincing? Here are ten reasons why you need one today:

  1. Worm farms are relatively cheap and need little maintenance.
  2. All your fruit, vegetable and loose leaf tea scraps can do in there
  3. They provide nutritious fertiliser for your garden through their wee. No more store bought chemicals!
  4. They are pets that do not need walking. Your children can easily look after them. There will be no arguments!
  5. You only have to outlay money on your first purchase – worms do their own thing after that!
  6. We have had ours for 5 years and haven’t had to do anything to it so I would say they last for a long time.
  7. They do not smell – great lid design and ventilation.
  8. Easy to use tap to get rid of the worm wee and easily removed lid to feed your worms.
  9. No more stinky bin juice or changing the bin daily.
  10. Your moving one step closer to having a more sustainable household!

 

Literacy lesson ideas:

Think of other sayings like ‘The early bird catches the worm’ Create a story or picture to go with one of these so that the meaning changes.
 – Barking up the wrong tree

 

 

 

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

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

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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.

 

 

 

A patch from scratch

A patch from Scratch written by Megan Forward.

 

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This book reminds me of my own little family and I am sure many other families who live in the suburbs of large cities! We have had lots of fun (and still do) in our backyard thinking of ways that we can make our yard a mini farm. We have chickens, compost bin, worm farm and a veggie patch and although it is a bit of work to maintain it is a great reward to have our own eggs and vegetables right in our own backyard.

A patch from scratch is written from the perspective of a young child, which I think really empowers young readers to think – how can I do this in my own backyard? The illustrations show how the family make the different items needed for their own backyard farm and offer some simple tips throughout.

This is a cleverly written book, giving readers insight into how they can create their own veggie patches, chicken coops and compost bins. It shows that growing your own food can be fun and rewarding without being too much hard work.

But what about those who live in apartments? Children who live in these places may feel like they cannot connect to this book – but they can! Many suburbs now have community gardens so search your area for one. Your child’s school or daycare may also have a small patch that they can be a part of.

There are many mini compost bins you can buy that can sit on balconies and mini herb patches where you can grow your own herbs. Be creative, getting in touch with dirt and plant growth is vital so that young people understand where food comes from – not just a supermarket!

Watch this great Ted talk by Jamie Oliver : https://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver?language=en

This is a great book, and one that we have enjoyed reading over. We have spent time looking at the illustrations as we have read the words and noticed the fun the family in the story are having. A great read that can be enjoyed by the whole family!

So what can you do to link this book to the curriculum?

Science

Life Cycles

  1. Find out about the life cycle of a chicken. Extend this into other animals that we eat and other animals that we eat the produce of.
  2. Can you compare two of these animals?
  3. To extend research how different countries harvest honey, what they feed their cows or how they eat different meat.
  4. Can all plants grow in your area? Research which plants grow best in your area. When to plant them and where they grow best in the garden.

Science – insects

  1. Research Australian stingless bees. Where do they live? How do they collect honey? How do they move about? Compare the different types of stingless bees in Australia. Find out why their hive is designed the way it is.

Literacy

Descriptive texts

  1. Imagine you are in charge of creating a new patch for your backyard. You may have a little bit of magic up your sleeve – how can this help you to grow delicious food and perhaps some food that hasn’t been eaten in years (due to it’s unpopularity) Link here to look at heirloom seeds and the Diggers club.

Informative texts

  1. Write a report about how to grow a vegetable or fruit of choice.
  2. Create your own plant diary like the child did in the story. Grow a seed of choice and record how it grows in different locations and with different amounts of sun, water and love.

Persuasive texts

  1. Write a letter to your local Councillor outlining why there needs to be more veggie patches in your community. Suggest how this could happen (free compost bins, land for a community patch, gardening workshops etc)

Mathematics

  1. Give students a designated backyard space in which they need to design their own sustainable backyard. They can be given budgets, time constraints and must have items.
  2. Work out which plants and how many can grow in a designated area. Different vegetables and fruits need space so work this out and then apply to a patch of dirt.

 

Curriculum links

Science

Early Stage One

Living things have basic needs, including food and water (ACSSU002)

Stage One

People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE022)

Living things live in different places where their needs are met (ACSSU211)
Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)
Pose and respond to questions, and make predictions about familiar objects and events (ACSIS037)
Stage Two
Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072)
Living things depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)
Stage Three
Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)
The growth and survival of living things are affected by physical conditions of their environment (ACSSU094)
Mathematics

 

Stage Three

Calculate perimeter and area of rectangles using familiar metric units (ACMMG109)

Solve problems involving the comparison of lengths and areas using appropriate units (ACMMG137)

Sustainability

OI.6 The sustainability of ecological, social and economic systems is achieved through informed individual and community action that values local and global equity and fairness across generations into the future

 

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