How to teach your child about the importance of water.

Water is life.

As a city dweller I am sure you take water for granted. We barely need to think when we turn the taps on as water always flows out, fresh and clean.

The people who have the best access are the people who need to take better care of it. We need to educate our children so they are aware of where water comes from, where it goes after we have used it and who needs it apart from us!

Water wise activities:

  • Look at some different ocean and river animals. How do they live in and around the water?
  • Get outside and see where the pipes go after the water goes down the drain.
  • Look at the different products that you use to wash your hands, wash the clothes, wash your hair. Read the ingredients and see how these might negatively effect the waterways.
  • Find out where your water comes from – where is the local water tower, dam or river?
  • It is a human right to have access to water. Where in the world do people not have access to water?
  • Read some books that have water as a focal point such as:

river,

The river and the book,

Down the Drain,

Aquatica,

All I want for Christmas is rain

Two summers

Spark your child’s natural wonder and help them to become globally conscious and people who want to look after the world they live in. 

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.

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.

Storytelling and learning how to read.

The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.” – Dalai Lama

What is storytelling?

Storytelling is the act of telling a story – any story. It can be through spoken word, through written word, through art and through acting.

How does storytelling help us and your child with reading?

It expands our vocabulary

By telling stories your child listens to new words being pronounced. Your child hears words in new and known contexts.

When your child tells a story they are practising using new vocabulary.

Instead of asking them to write another boring sentence using a spelling word or sight word – ask them to tell a story instead! These words will come into the story very easily

It is interactive

When we tell stories we are engaging in eye contact with the storyteller and the listeners. We are using body language and facial expressions to engage others or show our interest. We can see how others feel about the story and change where the story is heading if we see our original ending not working for the current audience.

Storytelling promotes visualisation, inferencing and problem solving. It helps us to think on our feet and engage each audience we tell the story to in a different way.

It tells us a story

We all love stories and storytelling through close friends and family can tell tales of the past – rather than just relying on photos and videos. Most cultures passed on advice through storytelling and many still do – telling stories make those rules much easier to follow!

It uses our imagination – both the storyteller and the listener. 

Children love being told stories. Some evenings make up a story together before going to bed rather than always only reading books. Borrow ideas from books you have read and make up your own! Your imagination can go wild being the listener or the storyteller and you can have so much fun doing both!

 “The power of storytelling is exactly thisto bridge the gaps where everything else has crumbled.” – Paulo Coelho

Families and reading

On the 15th May it is the UN’s international day of families. Families play a vital role in the education of their children. Families are the first educators of their children and it is within the family group where the love of literacy can blossom.

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Reading is a gateway to imagination, being literate and developing empathy. If you can take the time to read as a family then these skills are being embedded into your child and also reinforced within yourself. Reading as a family gives you time to be close together and to discuss things that aren’t happening in your daily lives (imagine talking about dragons, talking trees and magical stones!)  

Show your children that reading is a pleasurable activity, show them how important searching a  library for the perfect book is. There are no bad authors or books, you just need to take the time to find the books that suit you or perhaps open your mind to new ideas.

As a family take the time to visit your local library, the school library or even the online library catalogue. Borrow some loved books and books that will stretch your mind. Read together or read apart and then discuss what you have read. Reading is the key.

As Albert Einstein once said: “If you want your child to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales”

My magnificent jelly bean tree

If I had a Jelly Bean tree, I would care for it while it was small. 

Do you wish that jelly beans grew on trees? 

I’m sure we have all had the dream as a child that if we planted a single jelly bean and cared for it that it would, with a bit of magic, grow into our own little tree full of sugary delights!

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Tantalising all of the senses, this book makes every young person’s dream a reality. Maura Finn’s rhyming texts outlines the reasons why freshly grown jelly beans are so much better than the store bought ones and how within the jelly bean tree there are so many other delights that perhaps you never imagined!

Aura Parker’s illustrations bring out the sugary smell of the jelly bean tree and leave the reader wanting to rush out and plant their own tree once the book is finished!

We did….

Not only does this picture book takes us off to a magical land, it also teaches the reader how to care for a plant and enjoy the fruits it bears. My magnificent Jelly Bean tree is a delight to read to inspire imagination and some gardening!

So what can you do at home? 

Nature

 – Grow your own beans or sunflowers. These are easy seeds to grow and monitor even when you don’t have a veggie patch. Keep a seed diary and draw a daily picture of what is happening to the plant.

 – You’re the head of the CSIRO in 2050 and the world is running out of food. Invent your own type of plant that could feed a family for a week and fit into a small sized garden.

 – Investigate seeds, what they look like at different stages and in different species of plants.  Life cycles of seeds can also be looked at here.

Mrs White and the Red Desert by Josie Boyle.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking further: