LOTS. The diversity of life on Earth by Nicola Davies.

LOTS. The diversity of life on Earth by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton is a creative, eye catching non -fiction picture book that conveys the message of the amazing diversity of life we have on our planet Earth.

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Nicola Davies invites us to look everywhere and when we do we will find so many different types of life.  Through magical storytelling the reader finds out small facts about different creatures, how they live, how many species there are and where they hide. Emily Sutton illustrates with care, bringing the natural world into focus and helping us to se the intricate details of each animal, plant and insect.

LOTS is a great book to ignite your child’s interest in animals and perhaps a future in animal and habitat conservation.

LOTS is a gentle way to teach children about the importance of all life forms and how we all play a role in caring for them.

An informative and entertaining book, LOTS is one for the science lesson, literacy lesson and just the quiet book before bed.

So what can you do with this book? 

Before you read – write down three things you know about life on earth.

After you read – write down two facts you learnt. Write down two things you would like to know more about. Write down two ways you are going to help make sure no more animals become extinct.

Animal conservation

  •  read about an animal in this book who has become extinct. Work out why they became extinct and actions that may have saved them.
  • List and group all of the different animals in this story. How many groups of animals are there?
  • Look at the page on food/life cycles – can you investigate other animals and how they link in with each other for food and life?
  • Donate money to an organisation or do some volunteer work that would help restore habitats for animals.

Use this book as a springboard to help your child to be aware that everything they do makes an impact. Every piece of rubbish, every flick of a light switch and every trip in the car impacts another.

How can you make a difference as a family? 

 

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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?

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.

Pig the Elf by Aaron Blabey

Pig the Elf is another humorous tale written by Aaron Blabey of a pug called pig and his misguided ways.

Pig is very self centred and only thinks of himself and the wonderful gifts he will be getting from Santa. There is no Christmas spirit in Pig and his wish list is metres long! (and quite entertaining). Luckily for the reader, Pig’s selfish ways are dealt with in a humorous fashion with the word BUM getting a good laugh at!

Now Pig the Elf is by no means a book about sustainability or eco living BUT it made me think about how we can get very caught up in what we want for Christmas!

We need to encourage children not to get caught up in the material side of Christmas and this can be tricky with advertisements ramping up, toy catalogues in letterboxes and other children talking about what they want.

Rather than not giving presents (which is quite harsh at this time of year!) try to discuss how we can have a more waste free christmas. There are so many fun ways in which you can create gifts that have a lot more meaning.

  •  Make your own advent calendar
  •  Make your own bath bombs
  • Make your own christmas cards
  • Buy activities rather than gifts (movie tickets, theatre, museums etc)
  • Plant some living gifts
  • Give a book! 
  • Make your own wrapping paper out of scrap paper.
  • Give an eco gift – backyard chooks, worm farm or compost bin!
  • Donate to a charity which helps others or the environment.

 

A change in mindset is possible and I am sure even Pig the Elf could change his mindset if someone sat down with him and helped him to reflect on himself……but then we wouldn’t have anymore humorous tales from Aaron Blabey for next year, would we?

Encouraging your child to love literacy

So you might have a child who is not interested in reading books and are wondering what  you can do to engage them in literacy?

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This is a great question.
 My first question to you would be what sort of books are you reading with them ?

 

Picture books are a fantastic place to start any child who is not interested in reading. But make sure you involve your child in the process of choosing books. Find out what they interested in and seek out books on that topic. If your child would prefer non fiction books, by all means, go to that section of the library! Any reading is a step in the right direction! 

it could be comic books, lego instructions – (now you may be thinking that there are no words here but literacy isn’t always about reading). 

 It is also about understanding diagrams, listening to instructions, retelling stories and following directions.., so also try recipes – Try anything and find out what your child loves doing and go from there.

How else can you engage your child in literacy?

  • Just in conversation with your child anywhere you can ask them “I wonder what sound tree/car/football starts with? Ends with? This can be done with billboard signs, at the supermarket.
  • Play a clapping game where they need to clap out the syllables in their name – this will help them later on with spelling and sound chunking.
  • Write words outside with chalk, in the sand/dirt or mud!
  • Create words with sticks.
  • Ride over words – following the letter with a tyre of a bike or scooter.
  • Play eye spy in the car using sounds and colours. This game is great as it isn’t just about sound/letter recognition it is also about listening to instructions. Make sure you don’t just focus on the name of the letter – focus on the sound. There are letters that make different sounds so make your child aware of that.
  • Talk in rhyme and make up nonsense rhyming words and sentences such as “Would you like to play all day in the hay? Or what would you like to munch and crunch for your lunch?”
  • Tell stories – make up imaginary lands and ask your child to join in with the storytelling process. This develops their talking and listening skills as does talking about what they did during the day.
  • Encourage them to make their own book. Staple some scrap paper together and they can write or draw anything they wish and then tell it to you.
  • Go on a scavenger hunt – ask your child to find things outside that start with a certain letter. They need to find and bring back (or tell you if it can’t be carried!)

So just remember that literacy isn’t just about reading books – it is about talking, listening and writing as well. Make literacy fun and your child will find the way that they enjoy it too.

 

 

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

 

 

Walking with the seasons in Kakadu

There is more to a season than just a change in name or change in our clothes – but do city dwelling children know this?

The weather plays a big role in our lives. As a modern day city dweller the weather affects the clothes I wear, my daily activities and my choice between thongs or gumboots as I run outside to feed the chooks.

BUT for many seasons play a vital role in survival.

Weather effects growth of food, healing of soil, hibernation of animals, plants and insects, movement of land and traditionally movement of people.

Walking with the seasons in Kakadu focuses our learning towards the seasons of the Top End of Australia. As we walk through the story we learn how the people feel with each changing season, what happens in that season and how they prepare for the next.

This story is full of rich illustrations and the information is presented to the reader in small easy to digest format spoken by members of the tribe.

Although this book is set in the top end you can relate it to your own environment. You can help children become more aware of the seasons around them – take them and show them there is more to a season than just a change in the name. Go outside and watch buds grow, notice the different insects that come out at different times of the year, and keep a photo diary to remember and compare.

How can we link this to our students and children at home?

Science

Life Cycles – See my teacher pay teachers store to purchase this inquiry based lesson plan: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Different-Kids-Different-Lessons

Senses

– Go outside at least once a day and take notes about a tree, grass patch, small srhub. Note the change in leaf colour, insect and animal behaviour around the plant, smell in the air, bud appearing and soil texture.

– Purchase a rain guage and outside thermometer – children will love to see what the temperature is at theie house as compared to the local weather report!