Where happiness lives by Barry Timms and Greg Abbott


Where does happiness live? How do you find it and hold onto it?


This delightful picture book Where happiness lives by Barry Timms and Greg Abbott is not only a cleverly rhymed story but the illustrations are intricate and the peep holes through to the adjoining pages make the story lots of fun.

The story begins at Grey Mouse’s house. It i safe, roomy and filled with friends and family. Grey Mouse thinks he has a wonderful life until he spies a much bigger house far off in the distance.

Thinking that a big house with many beautiful things must mean happiness, little grey mouse and his friend White mouse go on a journey to find what they think will make them happy.

But it is along the way that the reader can pick up on the things that the little mice are not noticing – the fluttering butterflies, the singing birds and the sweet smelling flowers – and wonder why they think that a big house with lots of treasures will somehow give them more.

It isn’t until they meet the brown mouse that they realise what true happiness is.

This book will spark conversations about what makes us happy and why we feel that things make this happiness. We live in a society where we are told to buy more and spend up to feel good – but we need to start to teach our children that this is not the pathway to be taken.

Where happiness lives by Barry Timms and Greg Abbott is a great springboard to inspire young children to stop and look at what they have, appreciate the goodness in the simplicity of life and the beauty that friendships can bring.

Buy here today

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Save time, Save money and be eco….#1

So you look at those bloggers and instagrammers and see how easy it is to live waste free, chemical free and gluten free.

And rather than being inspired, you feel guilt.

Am I right?

We need to remember that many of these infamous influencers are

  • Single or without kids
  • Have a steady income to support organic food
  • Do not work
  • Live close to cafes that cook good quality food.

You may not tick all of these boxes but you still can achieve a waste free, better eating and less of an impact lifestyle – – – – – and I am going to talk about how this can be done!

I’ve been on this eco-health journey for quite some time now and I’m still not perfect at it. I work part time and have two young children so being waste free and healthy all the time can be impossible.

BUT, I can get there most of the time and I am sure you can too.

Are there any things that you do now to make a better difference than last year?

Is there something that you wish you did years ago that would not only make less of an impact on the planet but also an impact on your wallet?

I’d love to know as I am going to share how we have built up to have less rubbish in our bin at the end of the week, better food in our bodies and more money in our pockets!

Join me!

Monster party by The children from Rawa with Alison Lester and Jane Godwin

Monsters come out of the ground tonight. Jeepers creepers, they give us a fright!

In 2017 Alison Lester and Jane Godwin visited Rawa Community school and took part in a project with children from the school that would help them to not only create their own book but build skills in art marking and creative writing.

Rawa Community school is located on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert at Punmu in the Pilbara region of Western Australia – a place where your imagination can run wild!

Monster Party is a fun tale about a band of monsters who decide to come and visit the children at school one day after dancing the night away and keeping everyone up! The monsters can do so many different things on the shores of Dora Lake such as hop, slobber, steal and growl.

Written in rhyme and drawing on the imagination of young children – especially at night time, we learn about the crazy things monsters like to do when we are not looking.

Imagination is a beautiful gift to have but sometimes those dark spaces and lack of noise out in the middle of the desert can make the imagination run a lot wilder that you would hope it does!

The children who helped to write this story have learnt to harness that imagination and turn it into a fun story about life in one of the most remote communities in Australia.

Young children will delight in the crazy, funny and intriguing monsters that pop out on each page and possibly wonder what sort of other monsters are out there dancing the night away?

Monster party is a wonderful picture book for younger readers and there is a lot of learning and fun that can be had with it!

What else can you do?

Explore the different verbs used throughout the book and think of some more things monsters can do.

Learn more about how each of the monsters were created and the printing technique. Try to replicate this technique and create your own monster!

Use a map and find out where Rawa Community school is. Find out more about life there and indigenous stories that come from the desert area.

Write your own story about a monster party somewhere near your school.

Explore the use of rhyme in this story and create your own story in rhyme.

Choose a monster in the book and write a short description of it.

Girl on Wire by Lucy Estela and Elise Hurst

A girl stands before a wire, anxious about walking across the tightrope that is so far above the ground.

The wind whips her cheeks and the thunder clouds growl – but she knows she needs to walk it.

Courage, confidence and self belief are strong themes throughout this picture book – but they all come with something else – support from those around you.

We can all have confidence, courage and belief in ourselves but none of this will continue to reign if others around us do not support us.

The young girl in this story is experiencing something that many young children will go through at any time of their life – anxiety, self doubt and loss of confidence. The wire represents the hard times, times when we have to try something new or events that make us uncomfortable. But, with the support of those we love, out toes can curl around the wire a little bit tighter, we can stand a little bit taller and we can walk a little bit more confidently.

Girl on a Wire is a simple yet inspiring story.

Accompanied by the painted illustrations of Elise Hurst, with colours that represent the girls thoughts, we can not only read how the girl is feeling, we can also see how she is feeling.

Girl on a Wire is a an excellent story to start conversations about self confidence and the power of believing in yourself . It is also a story to encourage the awareness that we can allow those who you trust to help support you too – we don’t need to do it all alone.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Explore with your child people who they trust to help them when they need support.

– Explore times we they have asked for support – did it help?

– Explore times when they didn’t ask for support – what happened, could you still do this big task? Could support have helped you?

ACTIVITY: Draw a wire between two buildings and at one end write something that you really want to be able to do. Along the wire write down the people who need to be there to support you and the things you need to do in order to achieve this goal.

– What do you think the feathers represent? What is a symbol for you to help you get through the tough times?

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/

The wild robot by Peter Brown

Clouds scudded through the sky

Spiders spun intricate webs, Berries beckoned to hungry mouths, Foxes stalked hares, Mushrooms rose up from leaf litter, turtles plopped into ponds, moss spread across tree roots, vultures hunched over carcasses, ocean waves beat against the coastline, tadpoles became frogs, caterpillars became butterflies. A camouflaged robot observed it all. 

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is my latest read and one which has had many positive reviews. I loved the premise of this novel – a robot living on an island amongst nature, learning to live in the wild and learning about the cycles of life.

But did I love the book – after a slow hump in the middle, I did.

Author Peter Brown involves the reader right from the start, telling us all about how the robot came to be on the island and often asking us questions about what we think might happen next. We watch as Roz, the mechanical robot,  learns to live in nature by observing daily activities by animals, watching the subtle changes in the cycle of seasons and day/night and of course through making friends.

We learn about the daily activities of Roz, which I found interesting but a little slow at times. However, the pace picked up again and the growth of love between Roz and her adopted son made the story so much more rich.

The Wild Robot explores the intricate details of nature and how everything effects each other. We learn, in a subtle way, about the impact changing seasons and human development are having on animals and the possibility of life with robots.

Younger children will love this book if it is read to them as they can explore how Roz learns about animals and the natural world. The last few chapters are confronting – but so are many aspects of the current world we live in.

The Wild Robot is an excellent read, broken up into little chapters with simple illustrations, it will reinvigorate your desire to get out in nature and possibly become a little wild yourself!

Children over 11 will enjoy reading this alone and I would even recommend this book as a class study as so many different topic areas are covered

  •  Climate change (how it effects animals habitat, survival in the changing seasons)
  •  How living things work with each other (life and death, building materials, symbiotic relationships)
  •  Animal habitats (how they create them and where they live)
  •  Robots in our lives – do we really need them? (What do we use them for now?)
  •  Migration patterns in birds (Map patterns of your local migratory birds)
  • Geography (uninhabited island in the world)
  •  Literary technique – breaking the fourth wall.
  • How do we communicate with animals?

The Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner

First there wasn’t a hat.

Then….there was.

The Pink Hat written by Andrew Joyner is a simple story with an amazing message. The issues raised in this story are huge and it has done in the simplest of ways – which I love to see in a picture book.

Andrew Joyner came up with the idea of The Pink Hat after the Women’s March took place on the 21st January, 2017. This march was taken up all around the world and it gave the world a message – women’s rights are human rights too.

We loved reading this story, following the hat and seeing all the different people that cam e by the hat, wore the hat or played with it. Each illustration, done in black and white – with pink of course really added to the importance of the hat and the people it made touch with.

As soon as I finished this story I was flooded with questions about why the little girl was marching and why women and girls do not have the same rights – still – as men and boys.  If my young children didn’t see this state of human affairs as fair – why does it still happen?

We need to raise the big issues with our young children so that they can tackle these problems and make changes for the better.

Women’s rights is a huge issue and still so many women around the world do not have the rights they should.

Thank you Andrew Joyner for creating this marvellous picture book. It will be one that I will share again and again – and I know all children will love it and understand the message being sent.

Some fun activities with your students and child

 – View a youtube video of the march and look at the different signs that were made. What do they all mean? Create your own sign that you would use in this protest march.

– Learn to knit your own hat. Crafts like this are being lost because of our love affair with fast fashion. Aim to make something from locally sourced wool.

– List the verbs used to describe how the hat moved. What other action words can be attributed to a hat?

– Investigate where in the world women’s rights are being abused. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Investigate if women’s rights are being abused in your country, City or local town. Explore why this is happening and if anything is being done to improve this.

– Explore other protest marches that have been held on a global scale. Could you create a book like the pink hat to teacher younger people about this issue?

Global Guardian Project: Protect our bees

I love bees and was very excited when I came across this module written by Global Guardian Project – Protect our bees.

The module is full of colour and facts and really engaged my children (6 and 3)

We learnt about a young girl who helps her family to make honey, we learnt about the anatomy of a bee and we learnt how important they are to us.

We grabbed all our bee books out and shared a few stories over the week (check them out here —-

Bee and Me

The Book of Bees

How to Bee

Being a Bee

And then we read the suggestion in the e-capsule to get outside so we decided – let’s go on a bee hunt! Armed with the knowledge we had learnt from the e-capsule we knew what to look for and where to look for it.

We wrote down which bees we thought we might find and went hunting so we could record the numbers.

As we wandered around our garden we discovered three types of bees, worked out where they liked to be and talked about why they went where they did.

We then drew some maps, coloured in the bee from the e-capsule and talked about how we can get more bees into our garden.

This e-capsule is inspiring and enlightening – without bees we would not have many of the fruit and vegetables we eat every day.

The Global Guardian Project is an inspiring group to join and one for children of all ages.

Head over to The Global Guardian Project page and quote GGPVanessa for a 10% discount.

Follow on Instagram and Facebook for inspiring ideas daily!

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!

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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

Koalas eat gum leaves by Laura and Phil Bunting

Do you actually know exactly what koalas eat?

Are you sure?

Perhaps you’d better read this to find out….

Koalas eat gum leaves by Laura and Phil Bunting is a fun filled book where you learn a little more than you bargained for about koalas.

We all know they eat gum leaves for every meal but one little koala is tired of these eucalyptus treats so he sets his eyes on something a little bit more delicious.

Not only will the young reader love the story, they will also enjoy looking at the extra messages within the pictures – the simple change of where the eyes are looking, the movement of the sun in the sky and the arm or leg movement to show something else the koala might be thinking.

Koalas eat gum leaves by Laura and Phil Bunting is a cleverly written story and despite it’s humour there are some lovely hidden messages to find and discuss after you have finished reading.

P.S. Don’t forget to stare at the end pages for at least 5 minutes!

What else can you do with this book?

RESEARCH

– What do koalas eat? Where do they live? Are they endangered?

WONDER

– What would happen if Koalas did eat human food as part of their diet?

THINK

– Why is the koala a national icon? Aren’t there any other animals worthy of this? Choose another animal that should be part of the tourist trail and convince others why.

INVESTIGATE

– How is ice cream made? Can you make your own ice cream? By making your own ice cream,not only are you cutting out the plastic container you are also using fresh and natural ingredients (go on, have a read of the back of the packet…)

CREATE

– Create some different Australian flavoured ice creams. Could you create some that animals could eat? You will need to investigate the diet of each animal .

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.

The second sky by Patrick Guest and Jonathon Bentley

Great things happen when we reach for the sky


Gilbert is a newly hatched penguin and we meet him as he cracks open his egg and looks up towards the sky. He sees flying storm petrels, shearwaters and wandering albatrosses.

He wants to fly too.

Not knowing his own limitations Gilbert sets off on a mission to fly into the sky with the sea birds. He wants to reach the stars, bath in the moonlight and glide through the clouds.

He moves his little wings but they don’t flap as gracefully, he climbs a mountain to soar down below and he grew his feathers as fast as he could but they just weren’t working!

Gilbert shows persistence throughout his failures and never shows that he wants to give up.

And that’s when Gilbert discovers the amazing underwater world that so many of us forget about. He sees the stars, he sees mountain tops and he sees forests. And down deep, down under the water – he finds that he can fly.

Gilbert the penguin is a strong, persistent, creative and determined character – traits that we need to encourage in our children. We need to show them that they can do anything and when they can’t, perhaps they need to look at the world in a different way.

The illustrations by Jonathon Bentley reflect the cold of  Antartica and the stillness of the wintry sky. The story and illustrations portray a very calming atmosphere despite the actions of little Gilbert.

We meet different sea birds and see the varying landscape of sea and sky – a beautiful adventure for any reader to embark upon.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – List the different traits Gilbert has and compare them to yourself. How do you show strength and determination like Gilbert?

– List the different verbs used to describe Gilbert;s movements and then the verbs used to describe how the birds moved.

– Look at the various shades of blue throughout the story – how many can you find and do they have different names?

– What is under the water apart from animals? Examine plants and the geography of oceans. There are mountains, valleys, volcanoes and forests!

– Find out more about penguins and where they live.

– Explore the life cycle of a penguin

– Are any penguins endangered and why?

– Find out more about the various sea birds that live in Antartica. Are they migratory birds or do they live here all year long?

And – come over and join my facebook group where we discuss how we can help our students and children understand and take action on these big issues!

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

Or like my page – educateempower on facebook. 

Free Diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston

Do you know much about the history of Australia’s pearling industry? In the late nineteenth century, many of Western Australia’s Indigenous were forced to dive for pearl shell under terrible conditions. This story is a tribute to these men and women who risked their lives for the pearl lugger owners.


Free diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston is a lyrical narrative that takes the reader on a journey out to sea and on board a pearl lugger. A pearl lugger was the name given to the large vessels that were used to go out to sea to collect pearl shell. This industry, which has brought a lot of money to Australia is still a part of the economy today – visit Broome to see the many pearl shops up there – but under much better circumstances for the divers.

Older readers will be entranced by the colour of the land and the sea. They will feel scared and worried as the main character dives beneath the waves and yearns for his home. The prose entices the reader to ask questions about where they are, why they are diving with just a rope and why is pearl so precious?

This story really allows the reader to see the past injustices of society and how many people were treated so terribly just for the sake of money.

Brown Houston’s illustrations add more emotion to the story. We feel the gentleness of the ocean breeze, the warmth of the sunshine, the quietness of the moon. But we also see the fear the young man feels, we see the worry he holds within but also the freedom he feels when under the water.

Although I have read a little bit about the history of the Pearling industry from my visit to Broome this book gave me more insight into the dark side of it and how something so beautiful can hold a sad story.

Read this book with your children – it is a beautiful tale. The song at the end may inspire you to pull out your guitar and have a sing along too.

So what can you do after you have read this book?  

  • Explore the pearling industry. Compare the past and the present. Indigenous people had their own methods of finding pearl shell long before the Europeans came along.
  • Are there currently any injustices in the jewellery industry? Explore the concepts of fair-trade and worker’s rights.
  • Sing the song together – it is a beautiful tribute and there is no better way to learn about a story than through song.
  • Explore the art of Bronwyn Houston and the techniques used in this story.
  • Stand up for human rights. Keep an eye out for those around you and make sure that everyone is being treated equally. Be more mindful of what you buy to ensure that people aren’t being mistreated just for a final product.

Escape to everywhere

Have you ever read a book and wished that you could escape to that magical land? Perhaps you wished that your cupboard opened up to a secret land where you could meet animals that could talk, eat sweet biscuits with new friends and watch magic spells come to life with the flick on a wrist.

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Have you ever met a character in a book that you wanted to spend more time with so you could find out more about them, hang out with them and go on some of their adventures or perhaps learn some new skills from them?

Maybe your way of escaping is to learn new knowledge, perhaps you escape by becoming engrossed in new facts, pondering about hypothesis and exploring a new scientific or mathematical concept?

Reading allows us to escape. Reading slows our bodies down and gives us time to absorb what is going on inside us. Studies show that when we sit down and read we breath more deeply, our heart rate slows and our body has time to heal and absorb more nutrients from our day (must be why that hot cup of tea and healthy treat is a must when reading)

If we have the skills to escape through a story or through knowledge we can move away from the fast pace life of social media, fast paced computer  games and action packed news.

So not only during book week should we take the time to escape, we should take the time to escape everyday. We should be teaching our children the art of escaping through books.

Which book will you be reading tonight so you can escape?

Tek, the modern cave boy by Patrick McDonnell 

Are you in need of some outside time? Are you addicted to the screen? 

Do your children tell you to stop playing with your phone? 

Or are your kids the ones who are addicted? 

Are you missing out on what is going on in your real world because you spend too much time staring at a screen playing games, scrolling through or taking selfies? 


Perhaps this book is the book for you! 
Tek , the modern cave boy by Patrick McDonnell is a wonderful read and full of many surprises! 

We meet Tek, who loves playing games on his computer, so much so that he misses major world events such as the ice age!! 

It’s only when Tek’s machines run out of batteries that he finally realises what is really happening all around him. 

Children and adults will be delighted with not only the story but the design of the book (it looks like an iPad) and the picture of the battery (that runs down as the story continues on) and even the wifi signal! 

Tek, the modern cave boy is a great read and something that will help us to realise that screen time has a use but not as much as many of us use it for! 
So what can you do at home? 

  • What can you do instead of giving your children screen time? 
  • Plan a family games night instead of a movie night. 
  • Take a walk around your neighbourhood instead of watching the tv and take not of what is out there. 
  • Investigate what children used to do in the past before screens. How do you think you would cope? 

There is hope

The news of bombings fills me with dread of what those people must have felt, what those families who have lost must be feeling and even what the parents and friends of the bomber must be going through.

It fills me with fear about the world that my children are growing up in and concern about how they might feel if they one day hear about or experience these things.

There is hope.

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As parents and teachers we can prepare our children for the world by displaying how to be more empathetic towards others through our actions. Think about how you talk about other people, news events and the world. 

As parents and teachers we can allow our children to experience what life might be like for other people so that they can be more empathetic. We can do this through conversations and picture books.

If we help our children to understand how the world is different then perhaps we have a brighter future where everyone gets along as best as they can, treats everyone with respect and helps anyone in need. 

Try these books that link to refugees.

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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