Cloud conductor by Kellie Byrnes

Frankie loves sitting by her window and looking at the clouds. She loves to listen to the melodies they create, compose tunes and conduct ideas.

But being able to see the shapes the clouds make in the sky is a gift she loves to share with others.

As we progress through the story we start to see that Frankie is unwell and needs to spend many days in hospital.  But with her imagination, these days become much more amazing than they really are. Frankie sees a courageous cowgirl, children playing at the beach and a young girl riding a bicycle – all symbols of hope that one day she won’t need to be inside getting better, but outside amongst the joy of life.

The cloud conductor not only allows readers to see what life can be like for children who are in hospital for long lengths of time but also the importance of imagination and how imagination can brighten the darkest of dark days.

Positive thinking and hope shine through in this story and the important gifts we can give to others when they are feeling down – hope, joyful thoughts and imagination.

You will love reading this story to all young children and it might inspire some time to lie out in the sun and stare up at those clouds!

So what else can you do with this book?

Link to how you can help

  • Learn about children’s hospitals that exist near you. Is there anyway you can help brighten the lives of the children who have to spend a lot of time in here?
  • The picture book – The Silver Sea – was written in conjunction with children who were staying at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Imagination

  • What can you see in the clouds? Lie down for at least 5 minutes and talk about all of the different things you can see.
  • What can you hear when you see clouds?
  • Imagine the different types of music clouds would play – draw the different types of clouds and describe the types of music you hear when you see them.
  • Find some music that makes you think of breezy days, stormy days and still days.

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The case against fragrance by Kate Grenville

Have you ever thought twice about what you spray on your skin?

Have you ever considered the possible damages you are doing to yourself, your family or the water system when you use heavily fragranced laundry detergent?

Have you ever thought – what are those fragrances made of?

No matter what your answer is, you need to read this book to gain a greater understanding as to why we need to cut back on fragrances in our lives.

Kate Grenville couldn’t work out why every time she had a book launch migraines would come on until someone suggested to her – have you ever considered the smell in the air?

After doing has done extensive research on the Fragrance industry, Kate Grenville has brought us this easy to read and understand book.

As you will discover, the fragrance industry is regulated by the people who make them so with no rules on informing the consumer about the ingredients in each bottle (they are trade secrets!), we really don’t know what we are spraying on our skin, washing our clothes in or spraying in the air to freshen it up.

This book is easy to read, there is no over the top jargon or unnecessary statistics. It is told to us in words we need so that we can understand how the air we breathe affects our health.

After reading this book it really made me think – why does the market tell us our air needs to smell like roses or that we must smell of the latest perfume? Why do our clothes need to be washed in lemon scent and bathroom cleaners smell like oranges?

There are so many things we need to question and so many ways we can live healthier lives and have less impact on those around us.

What fragranced product can you ditch?

The street beneath my feet by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer

Have you ever wondered what is underneath the road, path or bush track you are walking on?

Have you ever dug down just a little and noticed a change in soil type or creatures?


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Well this just might be the book for you!  The street beneath my feet by Charlotte Guillain and Yuval Zommer is not only a colourful and informative book, it also folds out to around three metres in length! 

As you unfold each page you are taken deeper and deeper underground , exploring different life forms, buried rubbish, fossils, ancient artefacts, underground rivers and different types of rock.

This book will ignite so many conversations of how we use the underground world for our own benefit and perhaps might make you think what we are destroying in order to get to rocks like coal which we seem to think we desperately need.

Children will love to see the hot lava and magma which bubbles underneath our feet and the glorious gemstones which are created by this heat.

Rocks and different parts of soil are so important to the health of plants and animals which live on earth and through reading this book you can really talk about the importance of looking after the soil by thinking about what you throw in the bin, what you place down the drain and how you dig things up!

But overall I think the winning aspect of this book is the fact that is does fold out and the children can move through the soils – gaining some idea of the depth soil goes to.

A great read and one for budding environmentalists, scientists, historians and geographers!

So what else can you do?

 – Have a read of another book about soil

– Dig a hole and look at how the colour changes as you go down. Look at what is in the soil sample – animals, insects, rocks or rubbish?

– Conduct your own science experiment and see the best type of soils for plants to grow in. Learn about how much of a role soil plays in the life of a seed. Try sand, dry dirt, wet dirt, potting mix, compost etc. Place them all in the same location and give them a similiar amount of water. Predict and then watch!

– Explore the rocks we use for buildings, science and energy. Where do they come from? How do we get them out? Are they running out and are there alternatives?

– Could you create another book in this style? What could the topics be?

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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?

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Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground

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How to teach your child about fair trade: clothing.

What we buy plays a huge role in so many people’s lives  – how much they are paid, health effects of how the clothes are made and environmental impact of the clothing production.


How can you teach your child about fair trade in regards to clothing? How can you be more aware of what you buy so you are reducing your footprint on the earth and it’s people?

Grab some clothes from your drawers and with your child:

  • Look at where they have come from. Using a map of the world see where those countries are.

(The closer the clothes are made the better! This means less plane kilometres(less pollution) and the likelihood that the people who made your clothes have been not been paid that well) 

  • Look at what your clothes are made from – many are plastic based – do you have many natural fibres?

(Plastic based clothes take more time to break down and therefore have a longer lasting impact on the environment. The people who work with these materials are more likely to have their health impacted upon)


  • With the same pile of clothes work out which ones you have bought brand new, brought form an op shop or been handed down to.

(Clothes can be quite cheap so many of us are happy to buy and wear once. Try to visit an opshop for your clothes, wear your clothes for more than one season and pass on used clothes to others)

  • How many of these clothes are worn out?

(Many cheap clothes will not last very long but will hang around for 100’s of years. Try to invest in clothes that last longer – this doesn’t always mean the most expensive brand will last longer!!) 

Talk together about what you are going to do to lessen your clothing impact on the world!  Then have a read of these books to inspire some fun activities and change!

Schumann the Shoeman and The Very hungry bum.

 

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

 

 

 

Mad Magpie by Gregg Dreise

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This is such a bright and fun book  for children of all ages. I was immediately drawn to the bright colours and the indigenous artwork – I just had to find out more about Mad Magpie by Gregg Dreise!

Mad Magpie is a book that states it is for anyone who has ever been picked on, which I am sure many children have.

The story follows magpie who has been teased by the Butcher Birds. He doesn’t know how to manage his anger or ignore the Butcher birds so turns to swooping.

The elders are there to help Guluu (magpie) and eventually he learns to ignore the bullies, be calm and be at peace. The other birds soon learnt too that it wasn’t any fun teasing and soon enough the bird world was at peace.

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So what can you talk about as you read or after you read this book?

Bullying is the key issue here so talking about so here are some ideas you can talk about:

How we feel when others bully us

how we feel when we tease others

why do we tease others?

why do others tease us?

Can you think of a time when you have been teased?

How did it make you feel & why did they tease you?

If talking about this is hard – and it can be. Ask children to draw a magpie. Write in the left wing: How I feel when I am teased. Right wing: What do I do when I am teased. Body: How can I be strong like Guluu? Tail: How can I be calm like Guluu? If children need to talk about a time when they were teased let them – it is good to discuss these events and reflect on what they can do if it happens again.

There may also be a need to talk about peer pressure. Here we could use the birds again but have a group of butcher birds drawn up. In there heads write how we feel when we tease others. Wings – actions we take when we tease others. Body: How we feel after we tease others. Tail – what can we do if we feel this pressure again?

Kidsmatter is a great site full of resources that help to build social and emotional intelligence in children.

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ACPPS055 | Content description | Years 5 and 6 | Health and Physical Education | Personal, Social and Community Health | Communicating and interacting for health and wellbeing  

ACPPS037 | Content description | Years 3 and 4 | Health and Physical Education | Personal, Social and Community Health | Communicating and interacting for health and wellbeing