Gifted education musings: Creativity.

Gifted children, from an early age can show the capacity to think creatively, critically and abstractly.

Have you ever had them ask a question and you wondered how they came up with that thought? Or wondered why they have thought so hard about something that just seems trivial to you?


Gifted children need to know that these thoughts are valid and wonderful! As a parent you need to support this thinking and foster it in the best possible way so you not only have a confident child but you are a confident parent.

Being a confident parent allows you to inform teachers the strengths and weaknesses of your child.

What can you do?

  • Build a home environment that nurtures this creativity. Allow your child to flourish at home and have a space that they can always create.
  • Before praising them about the way the have responded or created something,, ask them how they came up with the idea. Learning how to explain their thinking is a great tool.
  • Provide them with opportunities to explore their area of interest and link in with like minded individuals. Think after school activities, holiday clubs, online groups, links with universities, visits to art galleries, performances and music halls.
  • Keep records of their creations and try to create with them.
  • Encourage taking risks when trying new techniques and talk about mistakes and why we need to make them to learn.

If you need support with your gifted child or a gifted student in your classroom. Please get in touch for one on one consultations and workshops.

Vanessa: educateempower1@gmail.com

And read this great tip sheet created by The National Association for Gifted Children

http://www.nagc.org/sites/default/files/Publication%20PHP/NAGC%20TIP%20Sheet%20-%20Nurturing%20Creativity-FINAL-UPDATED-October%202017.pdf

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Imaginative Texts – Books that take you to other worlds

Here is a list of some great books that can take your class to another world and inspire some great imaginative writing.

Beware the Deep dark forest by Sue Whiting

Errol by Zanni Louise & Phillip Bunting

‘Errol. Errol. Errol! Come this very minute!’ calls Errol’s mum. But does Errol listen? Not very likely. Errol has much better things to do!

ERROL is illustrated by Kate Greenaway Medal nominee Philip Bunting, and published by Scholastic in Australia, UK and Asia.


Let’s escape by Mike Dumbleton and Kim Gamble

Let’s escape by Mike Dumbleton is an adventure story that takes place within different storybook lands and times.

The young boy creeps through a forest, rides a wild horse and shotos past giants – all in his pyjamas!


The boy on the Page by Peter Carnavas

One quiet morning, a small boy lands on the page.  As a world begins to grow around him, he finds himself doing all sorts of things.  He rolls down a hill.  He catches a shiny, silver fish.  He climbs a mountain, falls in love and builds a house.

But one question troubles him…

Why is he here?


The Tunnel by Anthony Browne

Anthony Browne is at his most brilliant in a new edition of this profound picture book about sibling relations.Once upon a time there lived a brother and sister who were complete opposites and constantly fought and argued. One day they discovered the tunnel. The boy goes through it at once, dismissing his sister’s fears. When he doesn’t return his sister has to pluck up the courage to go through the tunnel too. She finds her brother in a mysterious forest where he has been turned to stone…


Castles by Allan Baillie

One day a Princess came to the beach. She built a castle.

But it wasn’t long before a rotten irate arrived. . .

A day at the beach becomes a wonderful adventure in this picture book by Allan Baillie, the acclaimed author of Drac and the Gremlin. With stunning illustrations by Caroline Margerl, this magical story celebrates play and the imagination.

http://t.dgm-au.com/c/357229/69171/1880



The incurable imagination by Paul Russell and Aska


Right from the start, everyone knew there was something a little bit different about Audrey.

Do you know a child who has a wonderful imagination? Or perhaps you know one who doesn’t have one at all?

The Incurable Imagination is a delightful picture book about the wonder of imagination.

We follow little Audrey as she draws ogres, creates her own songs and talks to giraffes dressed in suits. Her imagination grows and grows and even the most boring of lessons can’t stop it.

Soon enough Audrey’s wonderful imagination become contagious and everyone in her classroom (including the teacher) began to see the world in a completely different way.

The Incurable Imagination by Paul Russell and Aska shows the importance of imagination and how much power it can give us. Many children have become too reliant on tv shows, pre made games and toys to amuse them and thus when left with a blank slate in any situation – don’t know what to do.

Paul Russell also highlights the importance of inspiring teacher who help children to find that imagination and Aska’s illustrations show just how wonderful imagination can be.

This book will encourage young children to use their imagination more often and go beyond the boundaries that have been set. It will also encourage parents to let their children be bored so their imagination can fire up and be a vibrant as little Audrey’s!

The Incurable Imagination will hopefully allow your body to catch ‘imaginitis’ so that  learning and activities can be a lot more fun!

Hayden’s Bedtime by Wendy Haynes. Illustrated by Brett Curzon

Do you have a young child that puts off bedtime?

Do they suddenly need to tell you something? Ask you to find a lost toy? Or search for whatever might be lurking behind the door?

If so, you (and the young reader) will enjoy Hayden’s Bedtime by Wendy Haynes and illustrated by Brett Curzon.

It’s 8 o’clock and time for bed but Hayden has other plans…who really wants to go to bed when there is so much to think about and do!?

No matter what his Dad tries Hayden needs his questions answered and his mind put at ease. Hayden will do anything he can before the lights get turned off! .

He asks his Dad to search under the bed, behind the door, inside the cupboard and in the drawer and this leads to many fascinating discoveries!

You’ll be surprised (or perhaps not…) at what is found and how it all helps Hayden to settle down.

Children and parents will relate very well to this book and find there are some wonderful discussions to be had around the different things the Father and son find.

The story is written in rhyme which makes it a fun book to read out loud to little ones. The illustrations are bright and colourful, adding sunshine to this night time tale!

Children can explore colours through different objects found under Hayden’s bed but also the vibrant and joyful illustrations.

Exploration of prepositions and their usage around a familiar place, study of rhyming words and also the link to day and night time can all be explored through this fun and easy to read picture book.

And most importantly, children can have the important discussion about the importance of sleep and that there is no need to fear.

Hayden’s Bedtime is a wonderful picture book that will be enjoyed again and again and perhaps help those imaginative minds to sleep as they see Hayden nod off at the end of the book.

Enjoy some great teacher notes here too

The box cars by Robert Vescio and Cara King

Do you remember when you had more fun playing with a box than the toy that can inside it?

Have you ever watched young children play with an abandoned box for days on end?

The Box Cars by Robert Vescio and Cara King is a delightful picture book that shows young readers the fun they can have with boxes!

We meet two best friends – Liam and Kai who are experts in making different types of box cars and racing them around the local park. It isn’t until one day that they notice someone watching them that they realise how special friends and imagination are.

Soon enough – with a bit of problem solving – their duo becomes a trio and even more box filled fun takes place!

Simple yet brightly lit illustrations by Cara King fill each page and clearly show the emotions of the children as they play. They give a sense of freedom with imagination and nature at the heart of every page.

The story delves into the wonders of imaginative play and friendship and the problems that arise when we need to consider the needs of every one around us.

The Box Cars will open up the opportunity to get children outside with their imaginations instead of inside in front of a screen. It will encourage discussions about friendships and help children to see wonder in the simple things!

So what else can you do with this book?

Literacy

Grammar – Look at the different types of verbs used to describe how the characters do different things throughout the story. Replace these verbs with different or more plain verbs and see how the story changes.

Visual literacy – Every page is a whole page illustration except for one double page spread when Eve is not in a box car. Why is this the only page that does this?

STEM

Design and Make – Build something of your own out of a box that could serve a purpose in the school playground. Create plans before it is made and outline the clear purpose.

History

Toys in the past – explore how children made toys of their own in the past. What materials did they use and how did they make them?

When you’re going to the moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To

Have you ever believed that you could go anywhere you wanted?

Do anything you dreamt of?

Or could be anything you wished?

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When you’re going to the moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To is a beautiful story about believing in yourself and the accompanying illustrations are magical.

A young girl wants to go to the moon. She decides to take only the essentials in her small green bag and of course her pet iguana – but what else might she need to get there?

Determined to climb higher than she ever has before she takes no risks, making sure she packs a map to help her get home.

When you’re going to the moon by Sasha Beekman and Vivienne To is a story to read to young children to help them to see the importance of believing in their dreams, admiring their achievements and soaking in the wonder of new activities.

A book to share, a book to read and a book to enjoy.

Snap review: His name was Walter by Emily Rodda

I’ve just finished reading this new book – His name was Walter by Emily Rodda. 💫 📖

Mystery and magic surround this book along with a haunted house, friendship and of course a book- that is so much more important than any of the children in this story ever realised when they started reading the first page.

Loved this book – one that could not be put down.

Children will love this as they will not only be guessing about what might happen next, they will also fall in love with all of the characters (and perhaps dislike a few quite a lot!)

Freedom machines by Kirli Saunders

She was small when she heard about them…the incredible freedom machines.

 

The incredible freedom machines is a beautifully written picture book that takes us on a journey of exploration, creativity and adventure into the unknown.

The machines this young girl seeks out are hard to come by but with perseverance and patience she finds one that is just right for her.

Once found she can escape the reality of the dreary life she lives behind fences and boundaries and seek places that smell delicious, taste like happiness and feel like home.

The incredible Freedom machines focuses in on the importance of imagination and the ability to find places to escape to when reality isn’t what we want it to be.

When I read this to the classes at school we found that the issues of children in refugee camps was something that came through in the illustrations by Matt Ottley — knowing that many of them would have to use their imagination every day so that life inside these camps would not get them down.

We loved the richness of the illustrations as the main character escapes her home and explores the big wide world.

The incredible freedom machines is a book to be read over and over, enjoying not only the flow of the story but also the deeper meanings within.

International Mud Day

Today is International Mud Day.

Is this your worst nightmare or a wonderful idea of fun?

International Mud day began in 2009 at a World Forum when Gillian McAuliffe from Australia and Bishnu Bhatta from Nepal got together to talk about ways to encourage feelings of community and appreciation for the world around us. They discussed the challenges children face when playing together in the mud. On the plane returning from the Forum, McAuliffe contemplated the obstacles that stand between many children and their ability to enjoy the simple, natural act of playing in mud. Challenges such as cultural preferences for cleanliness, lack of access to “disposable” clothing that can be dirtied and proper cleaning supplies, or dry, sandy geography not conducive to muddy conditions. So this is where Mud day grew from the idea that we should all be able to get down and dirty and have fun in mud, no matter where we live in the world.

SO —

The one thing you need to do on International Mud Day is: GET DIRTY!

It doesn’t have to be mud; it could be also be dirt or sand but just one way we can get down and play with the simpler things in life.

So what can you do on this day of mud?

 – Find some mud and stomp in it!

– Find some sand and build castles in it!

– Use your imagination and build something with your hands out of natural material.

Read some books about mud

Read some books about nature play such as:

The perfect Leaf by Andrew Plant

But the leaves were so beautiful they had to be shown, they had to be shared.

 

Have you ever wondered at the colours of the autumn leaves? HAve you ever looked so closely to see the different colours of each individual leaf?

 

The Perfect Leaf by Andrew Plant will help you to see the wonder that is nature.

 

Each leaf that falls to the ground during autumn is so different – whether it be in colour, shapes or texture. Whether is is damaged, unmarked or broken – each leaf tells a different story.

 

In The Perfect Leaf, two girls meet and play. They search for the most perfect leaf of gold, red and crimson. They dive deep, throw leaves into the air and swim around in search of the most perfect leaf there could ever be.

 

But soon they discover that nothing is perfect and that everything can be beautiful – we just have to look at it in the right way.

 

The Perfect Leaf explores not only the beauty of nature but also friendship and love. It explores the idea that nothing in this world is perfect and everything has flaws – but these flaws don’t have to be a negative thing, they can be something that makes an object or a person even better.

 

The Perfect Leaf is a lovely book to share as the seasons change and we start to crunch through the leaves on the ground. It is one that will help you to discuss why we shouldn’t strive for perfection but instead strive for what makes us truly happy.

 

So what else can you do with this book?

 

SCIENCE

  • Explore the changes in leaves over the seasons.
  • Explore different shapes of leaves around your home and learning areas.
  • Get outside during those cold winter months and find beauty despite the lack of colour and warmth. See what grows in winter and ponder why.
  • Explore symmetry through leaves

 

LITERACY

  • Explore the adjectives used throughout the book to describe leaves. Write your own description of a leaf.  

 

THINKING

  • What is perfection?
  • Can something be perfect?

Teacher notes: http://fordstreetpublishing.com/ford/images/stories/teachers_notes/The-Perfect-Leaf-Teachers-Notes.pdf

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHERE WE EXPLORE BIG ISSUES AND HOW TO BEST TALK ABOUT THEM WITH KIDS.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

 

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.

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS WHERE WE EXPLORE BIG ISSUES AND HOW TO BEST TALK ABOUT THEM WITH KIDS.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

cloudconductor

Can reading children’s stories help us change the world?

Each week every child at our school has the opportunity to visit the school library whether it be during their class borrowing time or one lunch time when the library is open.

The books inside the library give each and every child the opportunity to visit a new world, walk alongside a new character or think completely differently to they ever have before.

So can these stories help us change the world? Of course they can!

Every book you read to your child, or they read to themselves helps them to look outside their own world.

Every time we laugh at a story we see how humour can help change the world for the better.

Every time we cry in a story we realise how precious our own lives are and how we can help others to be just as lucky.

Every time we look up something because we wondered about it after reading a story, we learn what is going on in our world.

Stories can help us change the world so encourage your child to keep on reading, read widely and read for a change.

Gregory and the Grimbockle by Melanie Shubert

Oh my goodness – I will never be able to look at a mole on someone’s face in the same way again. Such a fun and creative way to start a story and this wonderful imagination continues right throughout the story!

GregoryAndTheGrimbockle-BookCover

Gregory and the Grimbockle by Melanie Shubert is a self published story about a young boy who encounters a Grimbockle – a small purple creature who looks after humans by ensuring that the threads that tie us all together are never severed as sadness is something that they dislike.

Gregory learns how to help the Grimbockle and together they mend lost or broken Exoodles  (the invisible threads that hold us together with others) around the world.

Not only is this story is magical and mysterious but it allows the young reader to enter into a world that they can only wish existed (perhaps it does…..)

The Grimbockle is a delightful creature who is determined to care for humans who don’t seem to care about losing friendships or family members through lack of communication, worrying only about ourselves instead of others or just being too preoccupied with the latest toy or television show! He works tirelessly to mend the threads which we just wash away every day (perhaps less showers are in order…)

Gregory and the Grimbockle reminded me of The BFG – the Grimbockle speaks in a similar way to the BFG and the magical world Melanie has created was amazing.

This is a story to be read out loud to younger readers (8-9) or read alone with older readers (10-12yrs)  – but definitely one to talk about long after it has been read.

Maintaining positive friendships is so important and something we all need to be more mindful of in the busy world we live in.

See if your local library has a copy (or ask them for one) or buy your own here:

Booktopia

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

If you had one wish what would it be?

Esme Silver lost her mother 7 years ago and has just witnessed her father remarry a women she doesn’t like at all. She is not only upset at her father for remarrying but also upset that he wants to move on when she can’t. Her mother went missing 7 years ago for no apparent reason and it is this unknowing that draws Esme to a small cottage she has been told to avoid for the last 7 years after her father and his new wife depart on their honeymoon.

Not only does Esme discover more about her mother, she also discovered another world – and this world has many more links to her mother than she would like to think.

When Esme steps into this other world, she makes many true and good friends in the city of Esperance who help her to find out what has happened to her mother. She shows determination, clever thinking and a strong will as she journeys through a city which constantly surprises her with it’s twists and turns around every corner.

Esme’s wish is a marvellous story and a definite page turner. It is full of magic and wonder,imagination and marvel, creativity and friendship. Not only does Esme travel Esperance to find her mother, she travels through it to also save the city from certain destruction.

Esme’s wish by Elizabeth Foster is a book for readers aged 11 and up and perhaps one that may have a sequel….who knows? Perhaps I will have to ask Elizabeth Foster herself…..

So what else can you do with this book?

– Draw a map of Esperance and surrounding islands after you have read the book

– Make a list of the different gifts people can have. How do people have gifts in our world? Are they as revered as they are in this story? Are all gifts equal in this world and our own?

– What is a pearl made out of? Why are they precious? Can you find any stories throughout history related to pearls?

– As you read list the metaphors and similes and other types of figurative language. This book is rich in this type of language and a great way to study how you can add more to your writing.

There are so many more wonderful activities to do with this book – it’s a great book to share or read as a group!

Molly the Pirate by Lorraine Teece

“Molly lived a long way from the sea, but every day she wished she was a pirate”

Molly is a little girl with a great imagination. She lives in the red dirt of the Australian outback with her mum, a cat, a dog and three chooks but nothing is stopping her from dancing a jig with a pirate, steering a pirate ship or fighting Captain Chicken!

Lorraine Teece has brought this little girls vivid imagination to life through action, adventure and fun filled description of life aboard a pirate ship. Teamed together with Paul Seden’s colourful and movement filled illustrations, Molly the pirate is a great book for young readers.

Children will be inspired to use their own imagination after they have read this book – noticing that sometimes those every day boring looking objects can be turned into something a lot more fun.

A clothes basket could turn into a pirate ship.

A backyard chook into a fearsome pirate

A washing line into a sail .

Many children lack these skills of imagination as they have so many screens and toys to amuse them. Molly the Pirate shows us that with a little bit of creativity we can make any imaginary world come to life!

Perhaps you’ll start to look at the washing basket a little bit differently next time you take it out to hang on the line….

So what else can you do?

  • CREATE: Encourage imagination!! Instead of buying your children more toys take them outside to a park or natural setting and let them play and imagine up worlds.
  • INVESTIGATE: Take a look at your clothes line – who invented this and why? Why should we dry our clothes on the clothes line instead of the dryer?
  • LEARN: Do you have backyard chooks? Where do your eggs come from? Investigate the best types of eggs to buy if you can’t have chooks of your own.
  • RESEARCH: Where is the red dirt of Australia? Investigate which towns live on red dirt and why it is red.
  • WONDER: Did chickens ever travel on pirate ships? Find out more about pirates and why they existed and how they still exist now.

Ruby Lane by R.J.Simon

A fast paced adventure story that you won’t want to put down – Ruby Lane by R J Simon is a brand new quirky tale for young readers.

Ruby, our main adventurer is a wonderfully creative thinker – who just can’t stop thinking! She has a wild imagination and would much rather be up through the night  creating things instead of sleeping!

Luckily it is school holidays and Ruby is off to her Grandma’s for a week of excitement. She hops on the ferry but due to her late night antics she nods off until the ferry pulls into the wharf near her Grandma’s home. Ruby begins her walk but soon discovers a cat that talks like a pirate and talking lemons – certainly not the usual things she finds on the way to grandmas!  The pirate cat convinces her to help him return a very special book to the great Poet Gerry and she agrees.

From here the reader is taken on a very magical, fun, weird and crazy adventure all over the island. She meets many intriguing creatures along the way as she helps Pirate Cat on his quest.

Ruby Lane is a very fast paced book and although Ruby is at first portrayed as someone who can’t slow down, she is a very clear thinker who is not only brave but kind.

You’ll love the quirkiness of Pirate Cat – but be warned he does talk in pirate lingo throughout the whole novel so for those of you who don’t think you can handle more than one ‘me hearty’ you might struggle a bit.

Only someone with a vivid imagination and fun filled ideas could create a book like this. R.J.Simon has used so many different ideas to bring this story, the magical land and it’s characters to life.

I had lots of fun reading this story and was endlessly surprised by what happened next!

So what else can you do with this story?

  1. Read it out loud – see if any children can relate to Ruby – her creative thinking and endless imagination. Recall a time when you had a wonderful idea that wouldn’t let you sleep!
  2. Learn how to speak like a pirate. Wednesday 19th September is International talk like a pirate day!
  3. Draw a map of the island. What do you think it looks like?
  4. Ruby meets so many amazing characters in this story. Do they have anything in common with each other? Do they all have anything in common with Ruby?

There are many more activities you can do with this book so head over to R J Simon’s website and have a look around: http://www.booksbyrjsimon.com

Why do we need magical worlds

After reading an article or two I have started to think about the importance of magic in our lives and how magical worlds in books can help us to cope with every day activities.

When we are aware of magical worlds we can remember back to how a character coped when faced with mountain trolls, what the character did when they really just wanted to go home or how they felt when faced with a place that was completely different to the one they knew.

Magical worlds aren’t only in longer novels, they can also be found in picture books and both types of magical worlds are just as wonderful as each other.

Inside these magical worlds are strong characters, whether they be frightening or relatable – many have to ‘toughen up’ in order to cope with the dangers and differences they have to experience every day.

Experiencing others daily lives is important to not only to build empathy but to also build a greater understanding of ourselves. I’m sure if you sit down and think about it, there are always characters in books that spring to your mind at different occasions.

Magical worlds spark ideas, they arouse different feelings and the inspire us to think beyond our daily lives – they help us to wonder what life could be like if something out of the ordinary happens.

 

So what magical books are you going to read today?

Continue reading

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers

“No, you cannot have a pet lizard -” Lizzy’s mum said, “And before you ask, no snakes either. No reptiles of any sort.”

 

Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers is a wonderful new fantasy  novel for younger readers – and they won’t want to put it down!


I know that as a young child I always wanted a different pet -a dog, a rabbit, a fish or a bird – I never wanted a lizard, and still wouldn’t want one crawling about in the house But Lizzy does, and she is determined to get a pet of her own.

Lizzy lives on a farm which is going through drought. The grass is brown, the dams are dry and their is the ever present threat of bush fire.

Lizzy is a strong, caring and clever young girl and perhaps by luck or perhaps by magic she stumbles upon a round shaped egg in the field outside their house. Her brother Joey discovers Lizzy and her secretive behaviour and does what many siblings would do – threaten to tell their parents if she doesn’t let him on the secret.

Despite Lizzy’s efforts to keep her egg (and then pet dragon) a secret, her brother finds out and Lizzy has to put up with doing all of his chores – that is until she discovers the magic her dragon holds and possibly the real reason the dragon egg happened to land in the drought stricken land.

Full of magic and mystery, Lizzy’s Dragon is an story you cannot put down. Younger readers will love this story as Lizzy is a character many children will identify with – she is thoughtful, she fights with her brother, she cares for her family and she wants the best for the place she lives in.

Dragons are magical beasts which excite and engage many readers and the beauty of this dragon is that it comes across as one of the best possible pets you could have.

Lizzy’s dragon is a wonderful read – one to read out loud or for better readers –  to read alone. The pictures within the novel give the readers some more insight into what Lizzy and her dragon look like and ignite more of that wonderful imagination.

Magic, mystery and mettle, Lizzy’s dragon is a book to inspire the best in all of us.

So what else can you do with this story?

 – Design your own dragon. What egg would it hatch from? where would you keep it and what would it’s special gift be?

– Are there any areas close to you or in your country that are experiencing drought? What do these places have to do during times of drought?

– Have you ever helped out in your community? Find out how you could help in some way at a community event.

——

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The chronicles of Jack Mc Cool: The Amulet of Athlone by R.E.Devine

Ever wondered, ‘What’s special about me?’. Jack did and soon discovered that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, even ones with sticky-up hair and an unending supply of dodgy one-liners.

Jack Mc Cool is funny, full of energy and bright- but he is also forgetful and gets in trouble from his teachers. He lives with his family and goes to school – just like any other ordinary teenager.


But this all changes the day he tries to escape the annoying requests from his brother to help him prepare for his school play.

Jack climbs into the attic of the house and in an effort to escape his brother, stumbles upon a trunk – which looks like a great hiding place but ends up being something completely out of the ordinary.

The Amulet of Athlone is the first book in a series of 6 which takes the reader on an magical adventure back in time to the Kingdom of Eireann to recover 6 powerful gems that will restore peace to the Fianna people.

Ruth Devine’s writing is fast paced and action packed. Each chapter in The Amulet of Athlone leaves you with a cliff hanger, subtly recaps what has happened and allows you to really get to know the characters.

Ruth was inspired to start writing this series of 6 by her three sons, who all have ADHD. She wanted to create an adventure story with a quirky main character that not only would her boys want to read about but also other children who may be reluctant readers or have ADHD.

You’ll feel like you know each of the characters by the end of the book and if you’re like me, be quite happy to join Jack and Finn on the next quest. You’ll be amazed by the magical spells and tricks played by evil banshees and mesmerised by the description of the places Jack visits. You’ll also see how important family, friends and positive support  are to all children, especially those who are a little bit different and don’t always fit what the teachers at school or society expect from them.

The Amulet of Athlone is a great start to this 6 book series and I can’t wait to read the rest!

Teacher notes coming soon – Watch this space!

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins

I’m writing this story in a bottle lost at sea…..

 

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins is a collection of poems for children that ignite imagination, incite dreaming and explore the great land and wildlife of Australia.


Poetry is not something I read a lot of – but after reading Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins I believe it is something I should do more often.

Not only did I enjoy the diverse range of poems included in this book but the children I read it to lapped it up.

My son asked me to read the poem about the Cassowary several times over along with Pond Pests and Magic Fish Dreaming. We loved the rhyme in some poems, the storytelling within others and the speech between families.

Each poem told a different story and really ignited conversations about fairy teeth, why a Cassowary wasn’t at his home and the possibility of us going on an adventure in a bottle.

June Perkin’s poems are short yet effervescent. They are perfect for reading out loud and some of these poems can also be read as a group. Helen Magisson’s delicate pastel illustrations compliment each poem and add more mystery to those poems which make you sit and wonder; what if?

Not only are these poems full of imaginative places they also bring up issues of endangered animals, loss of habitat and the importance of respecting the land. The beauty of these poems that talk about cane toad invasion and loss of natural habitat is that the message can be quickly understood – something that is really important when trying to educate young children.

Magic Fish Dreaming is a wonderful anthology and one to share with your young children.

 

So what can you do at home?

 

  • Read the poems out loud – which poems can you read together? Which poems have different characters?
  • Find the poems that have rhyme – do you prefer poems with or without rhyme?
  • Which animals are mentioned in the story are endangered? Find out where these animals live and why they are endangered.
  • What are cane toad poles? Why are cane toads pests?
  • Rain is mentioned in a few poems – explore how rain can help and hinder the people and animals of the land.
  • Choose a favourite poem and create a short story from this poem. You could explore the idea of writing a story from a bottle or perhaps finding your own fairy tooth.

 

Snap reviews:A most magical girl by Karen Foxlee

 I’ve always loved adventure stories and magic stories so A most magical girl by Karen Foxlee was a great find!


Shortlisted in the 2017 CBCA, this story takes the reader on a magical journey through a part of London I am sure you never thought existed.

Fairy walls, troll holes and shadows that chase are all part of a journey that Annabel must undertake if she is to save London from being taken over by …..and his machine which will turn the world we know it into darkness and evil times.

This story will be devoured by young readers and I think girls will love the fact that the three heroes of the story are all females who show intelligence, bravery and friendship.

This would be a great way to get your students or children thinking about the possibilities of the magical world and what might lie beneath our city streets!

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The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and Van T Rudd

It has painted on lights and a bark numberplate that keeps falling off and we have to remake it.


The Patchwork Bike by Maxine Beneba Clarke and Van T Rudd is a fun book filled with onomatopoeia, vibrant adjectives and outside active play.

As you read through this story the energy seeps out of the pages as the children tumble through the streets, run up and down hills and zoom along on their homemade bike.

Set in a small village on the edge of the No -Go Desert, the children need to make their own fun. The children get inventive and create their own bike made from old bits and pieces (and perhaps some things that mum might need…). They create wheels out of wood, a number plate out of bark and handlebars out of branches. These children use their imagination and problem solving skills to create a bike that can shicketty shake them over sandhills and winketty wonk them through fields.

This book is lots of fun to read and really makes you think – that if you didn’t have access to toys, televisions and screen then perhaps more of this would take place in our backyards and parks. Perhaps more children would be outside playing, thinking creatively and using up their extra energy.

The Patchwork Bike is a celebration of children and play and the joy of owning a bike. The artwork in this story is superb and more can be seen here. Each page exudes energy, we can see the children playing at all times of the day and all over the village. We can feel the joy and smell the freedom these children have despite the fact they do not have much more.

The Patchwork bike is Shortlisted for the 2017 CBCA and I’m thinking it has a good chance of winning!

So what can you do to link this to Sustainability? 

  1. Look at some ‘junk’ you have at home and create a bike, pushcart or scooter! Draw up plans first and then create. What extra things do you need? How will it work?
  2. Can any of the toys or things you don’t need anymore go somewhere else apart from the bin? Charity? Garage sale? Repair cafe? A friend?
  3. Explore local repair cafes and see how they fix up things that many people think are useless junk.
  4. How can you create less waste in your life? Do you really need to latest toy? Can you make do with simple things and still have fun?
  5. Try to pick up less free things just because they are free. This especially includes toys that are given as part of store giveaways – you can sign my petition here to stop this.

 

 

The art of play

They’ve been in there for an hour. 

Two children, creating magic spells, hiding from wolves and naughty witches and inventing their own language. 


But what if we had rushed off this afternoon to do an organised activity? Or sat down and done homework or put the tv on? 

I know this doesn’t happen all the time but sometimes if you let your children be free they create their own fun. 

We don’t need to immerse our children in a different organised activity every day because they need it, or they love it, or we need to keep them busy. 

You’d be surprised how much children love playing and how much they learn from free play.

A new language has been invented

New rules in a far off land have been written down. 

Magic spells have been created. 

A new type of dinosaur has been discovered 

And a friendship has been strengthened. 

So….

Let your children play freely, let them read books that introduce them to far off lands so they can continue to delve deeper into worlds that the adults need to remember more of. 

Let’s Escape by Mike Dumbleton and Kim Gamble

 

Tucked up in bed but ready to escape – that’s how we all should feel as we sink underneath our bed sheets and start to read a book.


Let’s escape by Mike Dumbleton is an adventure story that takes place within different storybook lands and times.

The young boy creeps through a forest, rides a wild horse and shotos past giants – all in his pyjamas!

Kim Gamble’s illustrations bring the words to life and add so much more to the story.

Let’s escape allows the readers to imagine about all the possible places they could travel in their dreams – and encourages more reading and more books as so many un conquered worlds lie within.

Let’s escape should encourage parents to read more with their child and imagination is the key to everything! Without imagination and dreams we lack so much in our lives. We loved reading this book and everytime we have read it again we have discovered more within the pages.