Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle.

Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle, illustrated by Maggie Prewett is a fascinating story about life in the desert for three children and the trouble with the red dust that blows in and over everything in it’s path!


This group of desert children invite their school teacher, Mrs White, home for dinner to show her why they always bring in grubby homework. BUT – little do they know what mother nature has in store for them all!

They live in a higgledy-piggledy house with a higgledy -piggledy garden but they play outside, tell stories in the sand, have vivid imaginations and love learning.

Maggie Prewett’s illustrations highlight the spareness of the desert and dominance of the red sand after a sand storm! It reminded me of the many times I have spent in the desert and the fact that even months after returning home, I still found that red dust in pockets of clothes and gaps in the car seals!

I loved reading this story to my children and to classes at my school during library lessons as I was able to tell them about the desert and the amazing landscape we have in Australia. We were able to discuss how theses people live near waterways and if they don’t – water needs to be trucked in – a very foreign concept to city based children.

When we read books to children we open their minds to how other children live and therefore increase empathy and awareness of the world around them.

So what can you do with this story at home or in the classroom?

  • Look at a map of Australia and see where remote communities live. How do these people live in these areas?
  • How do children go to school when they live remotely? Explore School of the Air and Central schools. Compare how you go to school to how they do. Look at this school in Broken Hill 
  • How did the children in this story pass on stories and learn? Have you ever told a story without writing it down? Try and tell a story or two using only spoken word and perhaps a drawing or two as you talk.
  • How did they use their imagination when they heard unusual sounds? Close your eyes and listen to the outside world – imagine what those different sounds could be.
  • Explore personification throughout this story. How does making the objects alive add to the story? Create your own personification sentences.

Looking further:

 

 

Making a difference in Australia.

There is still low education achievement outcomes for Indigenous children in Australia. Indigenous children deserve to learn how to read and write as much as any one else does so that they can choose to move out of poverty cycles and educate the next generation.

In many indigenous communities books are scarce and literacy levels are low.

You may have heard in the media about the low literacy rates and perhaps wondered how you can make a difference? It is really important that we as an affluent nation look towards helping developing nations but we need to look at our own communities who at times are functioning at a developing nation level – which should not be happening.

Through education, empowerment and support anyone can achieve anything.

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The Indigenous literacy foundation are an amazing group who raise money and work with indigenous communities. Through their programs they empower communities to learn how to read by giving them books and publishing books that have indigenous links.

We are a national book industry charity, which aims to reduce the disadvantage experienced by children in remote Indigenous communities across Australia, by lifting literacy levels and instilling a lifelong love of reading.

Please check them out at www.ilf.org.au  and see if your school or community can  participate in the great book swap in August:  www.greatbookswap.org.au

Say Yes: A story of Friendship, fairness and a vote for hope. Jennifer Castles.

Say Yes: A story of Friendship, fairness and a vote for hope is a perfect book which mixes both history and storytelling to tell us about the 1967 referendum.

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Say Yes, is told to us through the eyes of two best friends – one indigenous and the other white. We experience the heartaches, the unfairness, the loneliness and sadness that the indigenous people go through pre 1967 and then the joy – when finally the Australian law was changed to recognise Australia’s indigenous people as people of this land, who deserved to be treated the same as everyone else.

Many children would have little idea about how Australian’s used to treat the Indigenous people of this land and this story tells it perfectly. Using a mix of Paul Seden’s illustrations and real newspaper clippings and photographs we are able to see what happened and the amazing people who were part of this change.

This year, 2017, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum so make sure you share this important event and take the time to read through the notes and explanation on the law that was changes.

 

What can you do at home or in the classroom?

Indigenous Australia

  •  Are there any issues today that are still not fair?
  • Do you think people’s attitudes are the same or different if compared to 1967?
  • Compare how indigenous people would have been treated before and after this referendum.

Literacy

  • Write a letter to a local politician in the time of 1967 – explain to him or her why the law needs to be changed.
  • Explore the use of the sentence: It’s just not fair. What isn’t fair and why is it repeated throughout the story?

Take action now

There is still low education achievement outcomes for Indigenous children in Australia. The indigenous children deserve to learn how to read and write as much as any one else does so that they can choose to move out of poverty cycles and educate the next generation.

The Indigenous literacy foundation are an amazing group who raise money and work with indigenous communities. Through their programs they empower communities to learn how to read by giving them books and publishing books that have indigenous links.

We are a national book industry charity, which aims to reduce the disadvantage experienced by children in remote Indigenous communities across Australia, by lifting literacy levels and instilling a lifelong love of reading.

Please check them out at www.ilf.org.au  and perhaps even participate in the great book swap in August:  www.greatbookswap.org.au

Our Island by the children of Gununa

Our Island explores the beauty of Mornington Island through children’s pictures and gives you a true sense of the peacfulness and abundance of nature. ⠀


The children of Gununa alongside Alison Lester and Elizabeth Honey have created this picturesque story that shows outsiders the beauty of Mornington Island and the link the Indigenous people have with the natural world around them.

Sunrise, Sunset and the hot summer sun are all depicted through the eyes of children alongside the poetic nature of the words. Simple crayon and food dye techniques are used to create a natural feeling of the island and its people.

Our Island helps readers to become more aware of the rich indigenous culture that Australia has and the beauty of places untouched by development. By sharing this story with someone you are making their world a bigger and brighter place.

Indigenous Links

  • Who are the children of Gununa?
  • Learn some Lardil words
  • Can you find out the same words for the tribe who did or still does inhabit/ed where you live?
  • How do indigenous people live with nature – how does this help the environment?

Literacy

Before: Predict what this book might be about:

  • Where is Mornington Island?
  • Who are the children of Gununa?
  • Who is Alison Lester and Elizabeth Honey?

After:

  • What do you think life would be like for the people who live here? Compare your ideas from the start of the book.
  • What do you think people do on this island?
  • Are there people on this island? Why is it not mentioned in the story?
  • How do these people feel about the natural world?

Your Task

  • With a partner, describe where you live
  • Create a book just like this to show your town, your city, your island, your bushland, your ocean etc.
  • Do you think you would need to mention people?  Can you leave people our of your space like this story does?
  • Compare and contract the children of Gununa to your life. Think about the differences and how you would both feel living in each others community.

Colours of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft.

Bronwyn Bancroft’s poetry brings the vibrant colours to life as we sail through shadows,ferns, clouds and raindrops.

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Each page brings another part of Australia to life with shades, hues and patterns.

As you read Colours of Australia, a calmness sweeps over the readers, immersing them in the Australian landscape.

We loved reading this story, looking at the different shades of colour and wondering about the beauty of Australia.

This is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to link picture books to nature through Indigenous art techniques.

So how does this link to sustainability?

PLAY OUTSIDE!!

This book encourages us to go outside – everyone! There is so much research pointing us in the direction of outside play. We need to get more in touch with the land, the plants and the animals that are part of our world. Nature is important in so many different ways. See my blog post on nature play.

CREATE

Compare pictures of some wonderful Australian locations and create them in your own way using colours and shades like Bronwyn Bancroft has.

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Go to your local paint shop and grab some paint cards. You can find so many different shades of every colour and this can help children to discern between the different shades and how they wish to use them.

Look a local river, a river in the daintree, a river in a farming area and a river in flood through the desert. Notice the different colours of the river at different times and different locations.

Learn about Bronwyn Bancroft and her amazing artworks.

 

LITERACY

This book contains fantastic vocabulary to start drawing on the importance of synonyms in creative writing. Create your own synonym wall for each drawing in this book.

Touch and feel words – which words in this story make us ‘feel’ the word? Discuss and find more of these.

How do colours make you feel? What if you had synaesthesia. How would this effect how you ‘see’ colours?

 

Happy reading!

The Legends of Moonie Jarl

 

Fraser Island is a large Sandy Island that many people love to visit for it’s pristine waters and sandy terrain. However there once was a tribe that lived here – the Butchulla Tribe.

The Legends of Moonie Jarl, contains legends from the Butchulla tribe that were used to teach young Indigenous children about the origins of birds, animals and plants.

The difference with this tribe was that as the stories were told, the signs and symbols were drawn into the dirt. These symbols were then woven into their dilly bags so that the stories remained part of their every day lives.

As we read the stories within this book it was interesting trying to interpret the pictures which accompanied most of the legends.

Learning about our Indigenous past is important for all Australians and we need to do this more often with our young children. Many of these stories tell us ways in which the land can be cared for and how we can respect the native flora and fauna.

So what can you do?

  • MAIN IDEA: Create your own story by drawing a picture in a square. Look at the stories in the book to get ideas how the ideas are portrayed. Remember that they do not follow our western way of storytelling, be creative and look at how Moonie Jarl as drawn the stories. As you create, think of a story that teaches others something about the land and it’s creatures.

To help create the story think about:

  • Which stories told children about safety?
  • Which stories are about animals? plants? birds?
  • Are any of the stories frightening?
  • What sort of colours are used? Why?
  • Why are there different names for animals we know? Can you find out more about the Butchulla language?

Many aspects of the curriculum can be infused with learning of our Indigenous past

http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/crosscurriculumpriorities/aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-histories-and-cultures/overview

OI.5 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of life are uniquely expressed through ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing.

OI.3 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have holistic belief systems and are spiritually and intellectually connected to the land, sea, sky and waterways.

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