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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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

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

The next day roast pumpkin

I love pumpkin and it’s only recently that I have realised how diverse this orange vegetable is!

Whenever we had leftover roast pumpkin in the past I would serve it again as – roast pumpkin.

But now, inspired by a need to cut down on food waste I have come across some great recipes and they are here for you to make too!

  • Bake your pumpkin seeds – use them as extra crunch on top of a salad.
  • Make some delicious pumpkin and corn fritters, taken from Simplicious Flow by Sarah Wilson.

 I Quit Sugar: Simplicious Flow by Sarah Wilson

  • Bake some sausages with your pumpkin to give them some extra flavour! Another recipe taken from Simplicious Flow by Sarah Wilson.

 I Quit Sugar: Simplicious Flow by Sarah Wilson

Pumpkin-Spice-Muffins-and-Bread-Recipe-with-Coconut-Flour (image taken from https://wellnessmama.com/3655/coconut-flour-pumpkin-bread/)

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(Image taken from https://detoxinista.com/coconut-flour-pumpkin-bars/)

No more just leftover roast pumpkin nights OR leftover pumpkin in the compost bin.

It’s much better in your belly!

Sydney Party supplies

Do you love balloons?

Check out these ones: 5ea99ad0c8837b0787ca4e81f5ef5660--animal-balloons-balloon-animals

Or perhaps this type:images-14

Or do you prefer these?images-15

Whichever ones you choose, you’ll know your party will be a hit.

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They are colourful, they can be made into different shapes and they can come in all different sizes.

But now we need to change our tune.

Balloons are made of plastic that takes thousands of years to break down and many of these balloons end up in the ocean and then in the stomachs of sea life – eventually killing them.

We can live without balloons – we just need to know that they are replaceable and the replacements are just as good.

What do you think we can use instead of balloons?

Thanks for the inspiration – Humane Education

2018 Environment Award for Children’s Literature shortlist

Wow, another great list of books has recently been announced as part of the shortlist for the environment award from the Wilderness Society.

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So many of these I have blogged about and I will have to search for the last couple to make sure I let you know about them too.

 

Here are the links to my blogs for these wonderful book – I hope you can find the time to read them soon!

Fiction:
Ella Diaries #11 Going Green by Meredith Costain and Danielle McDonald
Pippa’s Island 1: The Beach Shack Cafe by Belinda Murrell
Wombat Warriors by Samantha Wheeler

Non-fiction:
A Is For Australian Animals by Frané Lessac
Exploring Soils: A Hidden World Underground by Samantha Grover and Camille Heisler
Rock Pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver
Coral Sea Dreaming: The Picture Book by Kim Michelle Toft

Picture fiction:
Can You Find Me? by Gordon Winch and Patrick Shirvington
Tilly’s Reef Adventure by Rhonda N Garward
Fluke by Lesley Gibbes and Michelle Dawson
Florette by Anna Walker

I would love to be a part of the judging of this one day….

 

Love this review? Join my facebook group where we delve deeper into these issues facing children, parents and teachers. 

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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/

Books from 2017 that encourage you to be kinder the people of the world

There were so many lovely books that I came across this year that encourage young readers not only to think about those around them in their own community but also those who live on the other side of the world.

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Being a part of a community is so important and knowing how to look out for others in our community is something that we all need to do.

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Being kind to others whether they be our next door neighbours, residents in our suburb or children we hear about in the news is something we should all encourage our children to think about. It should be something we as adults should think about too.

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Once we think about others we can reflect on our own actions and perhaps make more sensible choices in what we buy, what we do and what we say. Every little thing we do will impact someone in someway and taking a leaf out of one of these books might just change an action you are going to take today.

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Feather by Phil Cummings

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

Say Yes: A story of friendship and hope

Children in our world: Refugees and Migrants

Whatcha Building by Andrew Daddo

I’m Australian too by Mem Fox

The Ones that Disappeared by Zana Fraillon

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

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Real Kids, Real play by Alice Zsembery

So, at what point did we fall in to the trap of believing that buying things makes memories? 

Alice Zsembery’s book: Real Kids, Real play is amazing and many parents should have it sitting on their bookshelves for those days when children call out that they are bored, when you’re stuck inside on a rainy day or just days when you want to have some fun without dipping into your wallet.

The premise behind the creation of this book was to make the job of parenting (or caring) for young kids easier, less stressful and a lot more fun – which resonates so strongly with me.

In this book there are over 150 activities for children aged 0-5 that can be done in your home with your own things – paper plates, toilet rolls, sticky tape,cardboard boxes, potatoes, bed sheets….the list goes on!

There is little need for you to go to the shops to buy an item to do any of these activities which is fantastic for those who are time poor or sleep deprived!

And although these activities may not be instagram worthy because they are not as pretty as some, the hours of entertainment these activities provide are so much more important. These ideas are just what you need to not only give yourself a break from trying to be the perfect parent but they are gifts to your child as they allow them time to use their imagination and be creative.

We loved making our own car lot,

camping inside and the backyard

colouring water and turning it into ice

and of course the good old celery trick!

Any new parent who doesn’t mind getting down with their kids, having a play day at home or reusing that old cardboard box will love this book. And perhaps those who just need a bit of a break will be inspired to try some activities out too.

This book comes with free printables at http://realkidsrealplay.com.au and fabulous praise from Maggie Dent, parenting expert.

Head on over to http://realkidsrealplay.com.au to buy your copy for yourself or someone you know who needs it!

Join my facebook group and page where we discuss ways parents and teachers can engage children through literacy and play about big issues in the real world

Educateempower – https://www.facebook.com/educateempower11/

Globally conscious children – https://www.facebook.com/groups/362368594250457/

If Sharks disappeared: Why sharks are important for our whole planet by Lily Williams

What would happen if sharks disappeared completely?

Do we really need them? Can we live without them?

All these questions will be answered in this cleverly written and illustrated book by Lily Williams – If Sharks disappeared: Why sharks are important for our whole planet.

A healthy ocean is home to many different creatures and if we get rid of any one of these creatures the ocean will be unbalanced and possibly have devastating effects on other animals, sea life and then life out of the ocean.

This book spells this devastation out in an easy to digest way for young children. They will not feel worried, fearful of the future or helpless – they will feel informed and powerful.

Lily Williams tells us the facts and tells us what will happen if we don’t do anything about overfishing, shark nets and ocean pollution but she doesn’t leave us hanging – she also tells us what we can do if we want to ensure the world stays balanced and healthy.

Excellent facts and suggestions to stop shark numbers falling are outlined in the final pages and are a great place to have further discussions with children.

The end pages of the book show the different types of sharks that inhabit our oceans – a great place to see the diversity of these scary looking creatures!

So perhaps if you are a little afraid of sharks, love swimming in the ocean and eat fish on a regular basis – this is a book for you and your family as after reading this you will hopefully look at the humble shark just with a little more empathy.

So what else can you do at home?

LIVE SUSTAINABLY

– Eat little fish. Many fish are caught in large nets so therefore sharks, dolphins and whales are also caught up in the mess. If you need to eat fish choose types that are sustainably and ethically sourced.

– Go down to your local beach and look out for any pollution that might effect the animals that live in the ocean. Pick it up and work out what you can do with it.

SCIENCE – LIFE CYCLES

– Draw up a food chain and work out who eats who in the ocean and what might happen if one of these creatures disappeared.

– Where do sharks live? Which sharks live near you? Work out how they live, what they eat and how long they live for.

Are any scientists researching sharks?   

See what this scientist is doing! 

GEOGRAPHY

– Where in the world do different sharks live? Is there anywhere where sharks cannot live?

LITERACY

– Choose another animals and work out what would happen if they disappeared. Write a text similar to this one or in story form to teach others about the problems that would arise.

– Look in the media for articles about sharks. Are they positive or negative? Collate and see how the media is making us think about sharks.

BUY NOW FROM FISHPOND – CLICK IMAGE BELOW

 If Sharks Disappeared

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Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho

A very clever story told through pictures and limited words – Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho is an excellent addition to any classroom studying government and society.

There is a guard who follows the rules – the rules that does not allow anyone to go on the right hand side of the page.

All the characters that he meets want to go to the other side of the page but meet with his strict orders not to go against him….until a ball gets kicked over the line and the crowd no longer want to be told what to do.

Will people power overcome fear and dictatorship or will they continue to live in fear?

Can we see the different sides to the story to really understand where the different characters are coming from and how they feel about the other side of the page?

You will enjoy reading this book again and again, looking at the different characters that live on the pages and seeing how they react to the different situations presented to them as the story progresses.

It is a great book to accompanying any unit of work about government and society and will really help you to reflect on how you see the rules you live under.

BUY NOW FROM FISHPOND

Don't Cross the Line!

So what else can you do with this book?

Read through story

  • What is power?
  • How is power shared in a democracy? How is power shared in other forms of government? Explore different types of government that exist or have existed.
  • How does power change?
  • What is a dictatorship?
  • Can people power overthrow a dictator?

Literacy

  • Rewrite this story using either first or third person – explore the difference between telling this story from two different perspectives
  • Could you add more speech bubbles to this story?
  • Could you take away the speech bubbles and write a story instead? How does this change the idea and tone of the story?

Follow on with books that link in with government – we are going to look at Once by Morris Gleitzman so watch this space!

BUY NOW FROM FISHPOND – CLICK BELOW

 Don't Cross the Line!

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

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Global Guardian Project: Rainforest conservation

Did you know that even though rainforests only occupy around 7 percent of the entire Earth’s land surface they support over half of the globes plants, trees and wildlife?

Without rainforests we would not only lose this precious flora and fauna but the world as we know it would change dramatically.

Rainforests take in much of the world’s carbon and give us much of our oxygen, they hold much of the world’s rainfall and keep the soils nutrient rich and full of life.

Hopefully at home you are:

  •  Saying no to palm oil
  • Buying wood products that are from sustainable sources.
  •  Buying any products that are environmentally friendly
  •  Educating those around you about the wonders of the rainforest so they can see what will happen if we sit back and do nothing.

And this is where the Global Guardian Junior comes into play

Recently the GGP have released a new set of modules aimed at younger readers and there families.

We have just delved into the Rainforest conservation unit and we loved it!

We learnt about

  • Morpho butterflies and practiced drawing them.
  • Read about sloths, drew them and wrote our own stories about the day we hung out with them!
  • What palm oil is and where is can be hidden (My kids were disappointed they were in some lollies but yay for me!)
  • Wrote down ideas on how we can be change makers.

This module is fantastic and so well set out for young children. There are colourful photographs, interactive activities, videos and a meditation – which is always a nice way to finish off learning.

When we live in a world far removed from these intriguing places it is important to find informative sources that really give children an insight into what life is like there and how they can make a difference from their home.

Why don’t you give it a try today with my discount code: GGPVANESSA?

Check out these articles and websites: 

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/jan/23/destroying-rainforests-quickly-gone-100-years-deforestation

http://www.saynotopalmoil.com

http://palmoilaction.org.au/resources/palm-oil-action-shopping-guide/

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth

Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. 

Without warning Ruby’s mother is killed in outback Australia. Her mother, a herpetologist  leaves a gaping hole in Ruby and because of this sudden loss, she doesn’t know how to cope.

Ruby’s father and grandmother are also struggling to deal with this loss and we see this in the first chapter when they race to get away from Australia and on a boat into India without warning – to manage an abandoned hotel at the foot of the Himalayas.

At first Ruby hates living in this remote location but as time goes on she makes a friend, learns about the mountains and sees how much help she can be to the local wildlife.

But despite this new found love of the mountains she soon discovers a dark secret that it hides – poachers. These poachers are on the hunt for endangered leopards and will do anything to hide what they are up to.

You will fall in love with the mountains of India and be in awe of the determination and strength that Ruby displays despite the loss she has just experienced.

Children will relate to Ruby and Praveen and their ability to see beyond what adults see when it comes to making a difference in the world.

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth is an excellent read, set out in small chapters and adorned with leopard print, young readers will find this book a page turner yet a mananagable one.

When the mountains roared is a great book for a class novel study as it links in India and Australia, animal conservation and natural disasters.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Find out where Ruby moves to from reading the description in the novel. Work out how long it would take to get there by boat and bus.

– Does this book have any similarities to Jess Butterworth’s other book ‘Running on the roof of the world”?

– Where in the world are animals poached and why does this happen? Explore what poaching means and measures in place to stop this from happening.

– Explore the differences in children’s lives around the world. Compare Ruby’s life in Australia to Praveen’s life in India as a goat herder.

– What are superstitions and why do they exist? Do you have any superstitions? How can superstitions be helpful and harmful?

– How many leopards (different types) are left in the world? Is poaching the only reason they are endangered?

Snap review: Missing by Sue Whiting

I couldn’t put this book down.

A heart wrenching, page turning young adult novel by Sue Whiting , missing is one to read.

You’ll be immersed on the awful emotional journey a young girl named Mackenzie must take as she learns her mother has gone missing.

Her mother is a scientist with a specialty in bats. She travels the world speaking at conferences and out in the field discovering new bats and disease seen in them.

Mackenzie’s mother hasn’t returned from her recent trip to Boquete in Panama – and hasn’t been in contact in any form. No one has seen her and as to her whereabouts- there are mixed messages.

No one is telling her anything and the police can’t find her

She clings onto anything she can to feel like her mother is still alive and it isn’t until she does some of her own detective work that she comes to learn what really happens.

You won’t be expecting the ending and you’ll be drawn in by the strength displayed by Mackenzie, a year 6 girl, on the cusp of high school.

So many people go missing every year in Australia and although many are found, many are not.

Take a read of this to see how those who are left behind feel throughout the searching process.

Introducing Global Guardian Project Junior: Exploring the Ocean.

The junior issue of these informative online magazines is here, with a captivating first capsule – Exploring the ocean.

What makes the Junior modules different?

  • Information is still up to date and informative but not as fact heavy. Pictures and videos are still linked to each section as well as links to groups that help endangered animals or areas of the ocean.
  • There are some great mini posters to download and colouring in pages to print out aimed at the 3-7 age group.
  • There is a strong focus on craft and art – making the learning real as well as meditation more suited to little ones who can’t sit still for long!
  • Great reading for parents is also included in these modules so it’s not just learning for the children, but also learning for the adults involved.

Why subscribe to Exploring the Ocean and future issues? 

  • You’ll get a 10% discount from me (GGPVanessa)
  • You’ll feel more empowered to start making changes in your life – such as giving up the plastics that end up in our ocean on a daily basis (check out this post about straws by GGP)
  • You’ll learn some wonderful new facts about animals who live in our oceans and how other families around the world are playing their part to ensure they are just as wonderful in 100 years time.

We had a great time exploring this module! 

 

We had a great time creating our own ocean with a boat that was cleaning up plastic. This was all directed by my nearly four year old – it goes to show that a little bit of parent time, a little bit of information and a little bit of interaction goes a long way to empowering little ones to feel they can make a difference.

Sustainability and parenting

Parenting isn’t easy and when you throw in trying to be more sustainable, things can get a little more complex – why?

Working full or part time can seem to leaves you time poor for things like baking your own bread, making your own moisturiser and riding or walking everywhere.

I have read several times on health and wellness bloggers who seem to make everything themselves that they have had burnt out. They have landed in a heap and have had to have a couple of weeks off – which makes me think, are we trying too hard to have it all when it can all be done in simple ways?

  • You don’t have to go to the markets every Saturday when you can get your fruit and vegetables delivered to your house or to a central location. This gives you your weekend back to do what you want to do. Try harvesthub.com.au

 

  • You can try to make your own skin cream but you can also buy your own from locally made, organic and fair-trade companies. Many of these companies have a small eco footprint due to the fact they produce in bulk – leaving less packaging behind. However, if you do want to make your own products aim for buying the ingredients in bulk to minimise extra waste. I’ve bought mine through Aussie soap supplies and The inspired Little Pot has some great ideas and products too.

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  • You can also make your own cleaning products – which I do on a regular basis and although the task is something I never want to do, it is something that can take me only ten minutes once the kids are asleep. I make my own dishwasher powder, washing liquid (washing machine), hand soap and different household cleaning sprays. I’ve chosen recipes that take minimal time and products that can be bought in bulk. Those ten minutes spent at home save me half an hour going to the shops for the same product!!

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  • Making food from scratch is fun – and should be something you should try to do instead of buying store bought, plastic wrapped snacks. And even better – buy your food in bulk from great places like The Source

 

Most important of all – by doing all of these things you are silently showing your children that we can all take small steps to make a difference. 

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas

Know someone starting school this year? Or starting a new school?

Jessica’s box by Peter Carnavas might be one to share with them before they start on their way.

This story was written in 2008, has won many awards and has had many teacher notes and activities written about it, so I won’t add to it all but I really just wanted to highlight how great this story is for young children.

This book shows the young reader how important it is to be true to ourselves and that true friends will see who we really are and will love us for who we are – not what we have.

We can teach our youngsters about popularity and how it is fleeting (despite the messages the media throw at us). Peter Carnavas shows children through this store the importance of  knowing who we are and how by knowing, we will find those who will support us through good and bad times.

We have loved reading Jessica’s box and it is one we will continue to visit in times to celebrate friendship or times when we need to re assess the difficult journey friendship can take.

So what else can you do with this book?

– Play a major role in your child’s education so you are aware of how they are feeling. Talk to them about school, read with them after school and be involved when you can.

– Talk about things you are good at and ask your child what they think they are good at. Tell each other what you are both good at. Do this as often as you can.

– For older readers – find times in the media when people have become popular because of one thing but then faded because that thing was gone or no longer popular?

– How is social media like Jessica’s box? How can we become popular on Facebook or instagram? Does this popularity really count?

How will you play a role in order to help your child thrive?

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!

How can you be kinder to the planet?

There are so many ways that we act in this present world that is thoughtless about the future we are leaving the next generations, and I feel that at this time of year it is the worst.

I love Christmas, I love the food, the gathering of friends and family and I love the decorations – but I hate the waste.

Christmas can be done cheaply – which is wonderful for so many families but what about those children who made those cheap gifts for you in China? What about the families that live down stream from the factories where those toys were made that will be lost or thrown out in a couple of weeks? Did you ever think about that?

Bah humbug you say – yes, I know but we can act sustainably at this time of year too.

We can decorate our tree using decorations that will last twenty years: Try Biome for some great deals today – Free shipping for over $50!

We can buy gifts that will last the latest fad and more than one child. AND we can move away from the need to give our children lots of toys. We need to stay strong against the big companies – our kids will be happy with less – they don’t need more.

Christmas is a time for giving – let’s give back to the planet that has given us life and think about everyone else who lives on it, not just the ones who can consume and throw away.

These books are great places to start your journey on being kinder to the planet too:

The secret of black Rock by Joe Todd-stanton

Papa Sky by Jane Jolly

Coral Sea Dreaming by Kim Michelle Toft

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

One Thousand Trees by Kyle

A-Z of endangered animals

Rhino in the house

Rock pool Secrets by Narelle Oliver

The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

I heard somewhere once that a sign of a good book is one that can make you cry, make you laugh, warm your soul and make you question the world you live in – this book has done just that.

I’m not the best wordsmith around and I do not think I can’t express how much this book resonated with me.

The History of Bees, told by Maja Lunde is a story told through the eyes of three parents in three different time periods.

Tao lives in 2098, China, George in 2007, USA and William in 1851, England. Each of these characters have children of their own and each of these parents are trying to create the best world that they can for their children – the way they think they should be.

Listening to a recent podcast on parenting, this book made so many links. Research shows that as parents we all have set ideals on how our children should act in the world and we believe that by acting a certain way or saying certain things that we are going to shape our children the way we see best.  But as you read on in this story you can see that despite every parent’s effort to make their children a certain way – each child chooses their own path and explores the world they want to.

BUT – don’t despair, the children are influenced by the good actions of their parents, just in a different way they expected.

The children in this story are strong, smart and determined. The encompass free thinking, risk taking and problem solving. They show how much love parents have for their children despite the path they take.

The History of bees explores Bees through story. You will learn about one of the first beehives that was created to carefully extract honey without disturbing the bees, a farmer who experiences Colony Collapse Disorder on all of his hives and a mother who lives in futuristic China where people are the pollinators of flowers as all the bees have died.

I cried as I finished the last few chapters. I cried with happiness, sadness and concern. If the world means anything to you and if you have children – this book will mean so much more.

We need bees and one of the key messages in this book is how important it is for us to keep bees in a more sustainable way, stop the mass production of honey or crops and learn to live in more harmony with the world.

Maja Lunde has written many wonderful books but this is one you must read today.

What else can you do with this book?

Buy local honey (we love this honey!!)

Look at Save the bees website and support what they are trying to do in Australia.

Check out my other posts on bees! :

Being a bee

How to bee

The Book of bees

Bee and Me 

The Battle of Bug World by Karen Tyrell 

Global Guardian Project: Australia

Created by Beth Johnson from Kid’s Mind Body Spirit, this capsule gives your family some wonderful insight into Australia and it’s natural beauty.


In this capsule you can learn more about opals, gum trees and the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is discussed in depth and your children will be inspired to learn more about this natural wonder through the colouring in pages, an online adventure story and some tips on how you can help the reef to survive.

There are some book links in the capsule but you can also check out these two books which I have reviewed here:

One less Fish

Coral Sea Dreaming

These capsules are aimed at both adults and children so don’t be put off by all the information – use it as a tool for yourself to teach your children through discussion and storytelling. Children can learn a lot through watching videos and documentaries but when we talk and listen to each other we can learn so much more.

The Global Guardian Project is a great initiative run by Rebecca Lane and something you can be a part of too.

If you are interested in giving it a go sign up for one capsule and see if you like it.

I am offering a 10% discount with my code GGPVAnessa.

So what are you waiting for – inspire yourself, inspire your children, inspire your family and together we can make the world a better place for now and the future.

 

Go litterless

ggp-literless_cover_1024x1024

Did you manage to catch the program War on Waste run on the ABC earlier this year? If you did you still might be a bit confused about how you are going to reduce the amount of waste you produce each year without compromising your lifestyle. Working, caring for your kids and then your own sanity are important – but isn’t the health of the planet also something we need to consider too?

The E-capsule, ‘Go Litterless’ created by Global Guardian Project, is a great place to start you and your family on their path to creating less waste in your household.

This capsule contains information about:

– What being litter less means

  • How we can recycle at home through our bin systems
  • How we can compost at home therefore creating less waste in our rubbish bins
  • Free downloadable to inspire your family everyday!
  • Simple family activities to get you thinking about the litter you create.
  • Recipes and ideas to inspire litter less lunches
  • Book reviews
  • Challenges to inspire and educate

For as little as $6.99 you can own this e-capsule and begin on your journey to becoming a Global Guardian. (and take off 10% through my discount code GGPVanessa)

So what are you waiting for?

‘Go Litterless’ is an inspiring and simple to use e-capsule. You might surprise yourself and realise that you are making small changes already. This e-learning magazine has free colouring in pages, colourful printable to stick around the house and family activities you can pin up on the fridge. There is no overload of information here but simple tips to start you on your journey.

Subscribe here today

Draw a story

This month, The Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs has suggested that we focus on drawing a story.


The idea behind drawing a story is to show how much the illustrations can change how we see the story. The illustrations can give us the viewpoint of someone or something in the story or just allow us to be observers.

Illustrations can help us to feel stronger emotions or to understand what the author really means.

Illustrations play a vital role in picture books and allow us to stop and think about what we have just read, search the page for more meaning and look at how different illustrators portray ideas.

There are more great graphic novels coming out – picture book and comic style.  And these types of books are a great place to start looking at how illustrations can tell a story all on thier own.

There are some wonderful ideas on the website and also an event but how can you use these ideas if you don’t have access to the books at home or at your school?

  • Last week my son (3) and I sat down. He drew three pictures then put them in order and told me a story as he looked back on what he had drawn. He learnt how to sequence the story, how to start a story and how to finish it – He even managed a complication in between! It was fun, it was easy and he learnt a lot – learning doesn’t always have to be formalised when it comes to books!
  • Explore Graphic novels that I have reviewed: Illegal, The arrival
  • Find an image and make up your own story. Try Bronwyn Bancroft’s art

Playing card games

What does your bed time routine look like?

Is it calm? Full of stories? Games? Laughter?

Or is it rushed, scheduled and stressful?


Some parent’s tell me that their children are too restless to sleep at night after a day at school and even stories won’t relax them.

Have you ever tried a card game?


We have found that a couple of rounds of UNO or Rummy for kids relaxes our Miss 6 and gives her the quiet space she needs before bed.

This time is also really special as it is often spent in her room with just one parent (mostly her dad) so not only is she playing a quiet and fun game she is also getting to spend some one on one time with an adult. There is no need for conversation but it is that 15-20 minutes of attention that helps her to wind down from the day.

So pull out those dusty cards and teach yourself then your child a simple game that you can both enjoy before bed.