The gum family finds home by Tania McCartney and Christina Booth.

Do you actually know how hard it is to find the perfect home?

The Gum family are in need of a new home – it needs to be safe, secure ,comfortable and of course somewhere amongst the gum trees – where will it be?

Join Tania McCartney and Christina Booth as they take the Gum Family on a rocky adventure around Australia, visiting many different and amazing geological formations in Australia.

They visit the 12 apostles, wave rock, Kata Tjuta and the Glasshouse mountains – just to name a few. At each place the look for the perfect spot for a new home admiring the different ways the rocks have formed and changed over time.

Children have a great sense of wonderment and awe and this book arouses just that.

After we read this book we pulled out a map of Australia, books about each place visited and jumped on the internet to learn more.

The book does contain a map, small pieces of information and real photographs but the need to learn more was inspired – so we did just that!

Many students knew about Uluru and the Three Sisters but that was about it – so thank you to The Gum Family – these students all now know a lot more about the country they live in.

I also enjoyed pulling out old photographs of my trip around Australia to many of these places and reminiscing about how I felt in each location.

So this is what we did after we read the book:

– We researched further into each location and wrote down some more points.

– We worked out why tourists visit here and created a new brochure.

– We discussed what might happen if some of these places crumble up? Get destroyed by human interference?

– We discussed what koalas need in a perfect home.

What have you done with this book?

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Whatcha Building? by Andrew Daddo and Stephen Michael King

It’s exactly what this town needs.

I adore this book, Whatcha Building? by Andrew Daddo and Stephen Michael King is a story about endings and new beginnings, imagination and determination and a sense of community.


The old milk bar around the corner from young Davey’s house in being pulled down and a new building is replacing it. Davey observes the daily deconstruction of the milk bar and each day takes a piece of timber home. The builder and the reader’s imagination run wild with all the possibilities of what young Davey might be building.

It’s only until right at the end the masterpiece is unveiled with a timely message for us all.

I love the illustrations in this story as they not only accompany the text but they add more  depth to each page. Stephen Michael King has used recycled garbage, cardboard, pen and ink to create the illustrations and this combination brings life to the story. Throughout the images we can get a real sense of the community at work and the role we all play in our environment.

So what else can you do with this book? 

Sustainability

  • We all throw out too much and many of this can be reused or recycled. Investigate what you can do with things that are no use to you anymore. Rather than just throwing them out can you create something new? Give it to someone else? Or recycle it in the best possible way.
  • Create your own doll sized house purely from recycled and reused materials.
  • What sort of materials are best for the environment? Compare and contrast different types of floorboards available to the community – work out which ones are best using categories such as value for money, ecological impact and community impact.

Global values

  • Watch building really makes us think about how important people and space is to each of us. Many of us get caught up in consumption and needing the best of everything. Is there a place in your community where people can come together?
  • Design a space where people of all ages and backgrounds can come to share the love of where they live – without having to buy things.

Literacy

  • Look at the slang used throughout the story – what do each of these slang words mean? How does this portray Dave the builder?
  • What is the significance of Davey not saying many things throughout the story?

 

Some great thinking questions:

Do endings always have new beginnings?

If all the buildings in your town were replaced how would that effect your community both negatively and positively? 

Select one architect who has changed the way we build sustainably. Find out how they approach design and how they want to improve life for all.

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Let me know how you go! It’s a beautiful book – I hope you can enjoy it too.

Bee and Me by Alison Jay

 ~ A story about friendship ~

Have you ever read a book without words? Some people may find this difficult as it opens up many possibilities, different interpretations and imagination. But it is something we need to introduce ourselves and our children to – as just because the words are not on the page does not mean they are not there.

I have always loved books without words as you can decide what happens on each page and look more closely at the illustrations which can tell us so much more.


Bee and Me  by Alison Jay is set in a bustling city of cars, trucks, people, shops and high rise buildings but no flowers.

A little girl is frightened by a bee who lands on her windowsill but luckily rather than swat it with the fly swatter she looks after the exhausted insect and sends it on it’s way.

The bee returns in need of more care and the two form a beautiful friendship.

The double page of play between the girl and the bee is wonderful to sit and stare at with your child. Talk about what they are doing together and the emotions they are feeling as they spend wonderful moments together.

The bee soon realises that although he has the girl – he longs for flowers. So together they embark on a magical journey to find flowers, seeds and more green to the dull city.

Bee and Me warmed my heart – the friendship between the two is infectious and the message about the importance of bees is also taught – which is vital as so many cities are lacking bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects due to lack of flowers, plants and green!

So what can you do at home or at school with this book?

Sustainability

  • Have a look around your home and see what would entice any type of insect to your area? all insects are beneficial and attracting them to something they can live off or eat is important. It’s better they live off the plants than things in your house!
  • PROJECT: How can we provide the best home for attracting bees? Investigate what the bees (local to your area) need. Draw up a plan of what the hive would look like, where it should be placed, what conditions it needs to attract bees and to survive. (This project includes outcome links to mathematics, literacy, science and geography)
  • Alison Jay has left a parting note at the back of her book about the beneficial flowers you can plant in your garden. Herbs are an easy plant to start with as they can be grown in small planter boxes on windowsills – give rosemary, thyme or mint a go.
  • It is important that you find out about the beneficial flowers that help bees in your area too. Australian stingless bees love:

 

Abelia x grandiflora Abelia
Buddleja * Butterfly Bush
Callistemon  Bottlebrush
Eucalyptus  Gum Blossom
Grevillea Spider Flower
Lavandula Lavender
Leptospermum Tea Tree
Melaleuca Honey Myrtle
Westringia Rosemary
Many Varieties Daisies

 

Literacy

  • Visual Literacy – Books without pictures open a myriad of possibilities. One activity to try is to tell the story from the bee’s perspective and then the girls. Compare the two stories – compare the emotions, the goals and the thoughts of the two characters.
  • Find some more books that have bees in them – you’ll bee surprised! Do these stories all have a similar message to tell?
  • Compare scientific literature to children books that are on the topic of bees. Why do we need both types of literature out there to understand the need for bees in our world? Create your own bee themed picture book based on some scientific literature.
  • Create your own story about your adventure with a bee. Which flowers would you like to visit? Divide a page into four sections and draw a series of pictures that show what you would like to do with a bee to make sure there are enough flowers, fruits and vegetables in the world.

SCIENCE

How is honey used in our lives apart from to eat? Investigate the different properties of honey and how it is used in a myriad of products!

GEOGRAPHY

Where are bees located? What type of environment do they need to thrive? Create a honey bee and a stingless bee map of Australia.

NUMERACY

Why are honey bee hives made out of hexagonal shapes?

Why do stingless bee hives spiral shaped?

Investigate the different shapes of bee hives across the globe and why they are this shape. Could they be another shape? Investigate if there is a better way to keep honey in a hive.

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.