The box cars by Robert Vescio and Cara King

Do you remember when you had more fun playing with a box than the toy that can inside it?

Have you ever watched young children play with an abandoned box for days on end?

The Box Cars by Robert Vescio and Cara King is a delightful picture book that shows young readers the fun they can have with boxes!

We meet two best friends – Liam and Kai who are experts in making different types of box cars and racing them around the local park. It isn’t until one day that they notice someone watching them that they realise how special friends and imagination are.

Soon enough – with a bit of problem solving – their duo becomes a trio and even more box filled fun takes place!

Simple yet brightly lit illustrations by Cara King fill each page and clearly show the emotions of the children as they play. They give a sense of freedom with imagination and nature at the heart of every page.

The story delves into the wonders of imaginative play and friendship and the problems that arise when we need to consider the needs of every one around us.

The Box Cars will open up the opportunity to get children outside with their imaginations instead of inside in front of a screen. It will encourage discussions about friendships and help children to see wonder in the simple things!

So what else can you do with this book?

Literacy

Grammar – Look at the different types of verbs used to describe how the characters do different things throughout the story. Replace these verbs with different or more plain verbs and see how the story changes.

Visual literacy – Every page is a whole page illustration except for one double page spread when Eve is not in a box car. Why is this the only page that does this?

STEM

Design and Make – Build something of your own out of a box that could serve a purpose in the school playground. Create plans before it is made and outline the clear purpose.

History

Toys in the past – explore how children made toys of their own in the past. What materials did they use and how did they make them?

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The Squid, the Vibrio and the Moon by Ailsa Wild, Aviva Reed, Briony Barr, Gregory Crocetti and Linda Blackall.

The squid sucks in water and the current whooshes Ali and Mai closer and closer

Meet Ali and Mai , Vibrio fischeri Bacterium, who live inside Sepio – a Bobtail Squid. These three creatures need each other and live in ‘Symbiosis’, helping each other to grow and survive.

This story has been broken up into three sections – the first explores the life cycle of Ali and Mai and their need to find a safe place inside Sepio’s body where they can not only survive but provide the Squid with something precious too – light!

The second part of this book explores why Sepio needs the light organ to light up inside of this body as without it he will not be able to hide from hungry predators!

The third section of this book if full of facts about each character in the story, what symbiosis is and how bacteria create light. The fantastic thing about this section is that the facts are written for children yet done in a way that even younger children can draw some meaning from the pictures.

The Squid, the Vibrio and the Moon is another well written book published by CSIRO that gives all readers the opportunity to learn more about topics that may be otherwise too difficult to understand.

Giving the helpful bacteria (Ali, Mai), protozoa (perhaps too scary for a name), Spirillum (Spiri) and Haemocyte’s (I am the guardian Haemocyte) names , make the existence of these microscopic creatures real to younger children. When something can’t be seen (even for adults) it’s hard to know it even exists. BUT with names and personalities given to these life forms, you can talk about them in much more depth and explore what they do with more interest.

All children who I have read this book to have enjoyed it for a myriad of reasons – some enjoy the facts section at the back, others enjoy the story, some enjoy the sketches of the different sea creatures and of course many enjoy the whole book!

It is a book that can be used as a springboard into both Science and English lessons in the classroom. Mathematic skills could also be drawn upon with the comparisons of different sizes of each character.

Teacher notes can be accessed here: https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/7852/#forteachers

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The rabbit, the dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne

Do you have a child who does not like to sleep?

Have you ever wondered what your evening would look like if the dark never came?

I know we’ve all wished it, especially on those wonderful summer days.

The rabbit, the dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne is a cute story about a little rabbit who does not like going to bed and wishes that the evening never – ever came.

But little does he realises that without night time, many living things suffer.

The rabbit, the dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne will  teach children about the need for night and day, and the animals and plants that need it.

The illustrations are vibrant and the pop out towards the end will amaze young readers.

The rabbit, the dark and the Biscuit Tin by Nicola O’Byrne is a perfect story for those children who do not like bed time as after this book they will come to appreciate just how important it is!

Teacher tips

 – Science: A great resources for Early Stage One and Stage one when looking at day and night.

 – Literacy: A great resource to use for creative writing – what could you place in a biscuit tin?

 – Life cycles and animal habits – why do they need day and night? Which animals would not survive without one or the other? Which animals have had to adapt to city living because we have too many lights? (Sustainability, STEM, Science, Geography)

In outer space by Paul Mason

This great book on outer space is filled with Cause, Effect and the occasional bit of chaos!

Journey from Earth out to the sun, through meteorites and asteroids and then onto the planets that neighbour us.

You’ll learn what life is like in space and the effects on astronauts bodies as they float about.

The ever questioning black hole is ventured into alongside galactic cannibals!

All this kid-friendly information is accompanied by colourful pictures that really show the non-reader what is happening on their journey through space.

In outer spaceis a great way to learn more about our solar system and the amazing yet chaotic things that happen way out there!

BUY NOW – click on image below

 Cause, Effect and Chaos!: In Outer Space (Cause, Effect and Chaos!)

So what else can you do with this book?

  •  Work out how long it would take you to visit one or more of these places and what you would need to pack with you.
  •  Why is there chaos in outer space and where are you more likely to find it?
  • Are there side effects to astronauts hanging out in space? What do they need to do when they return and is their life expectancy effected?
  • Explore the space ships that have been to the moon and beyond. When was the last space ship launched and where is it now?
  • What happens to space junk? Explore the patch of ocean that is filled with space junk and the side effects of this watery junk yard!
  • List all the causes and effects outlined in this book. Can you think of some more?

STEM solves Fairy tales: Rapunzel by Jasmine Brooke.

Did Rapunzel really think that throwing her hair down to the prince was the only way she was going to get out of that tower?

Perhaps she knew how strong her hair was because of the numerous hair strength experiments she had done? Could she have tried to create a zipline out of there? Or could have Rapunzel’s parents avoided this whole catastrophe and grown their own herbs?

The answer is yes – Yes through science!

Many children and adults love fairy tales but perhaps not many of us have really thought of the possibilities of these fairy tales changing for the better.

STEM is an increasing focus in schools and can be used in so many ways at home too.

I loved the creativity of this book series as not only does it capture children’s imagination, it also integrates many aspects of science  – living things, engineering, the scientific method, design, hypothesising and creativity!

It’s something different – combining literacy and science  – and a great way to engage young children!

This book is part of a set of four that you can buy here:

 STEM Solves Fairytales: Rapunzel: fix fairytale problems with science and technology (STEM Solves Fairytales)STEM Solves Fairytales: Jack and the Beanstalk: fix fairytale problems with science and technology (STEM Solves Fairytales)STEM Solves Fairytales: Goldilocks and the Three Bears: fix fairytale problems with science and technology (STEM Solves Fairytales)STEM Solves Fairytales: The Princess and the Pea: fix fairytale problems with science and technology (STEM Solves Fairytales)

Making with Living things: Build amazing projects with inspirational scientists, artists and engineers by Anna Claybourne

Have you ever wondered how a spider spins it’s web? How a movie is created or how to colour your boring white shirts?

Making with Living things: Build amazing projects with inspirational scientists, artists and engineers by Wayland Books, is an excellent resource for parents and teachers alike as it will inspire young minds to try something they may have thought impossible!

There are ten different activities to choose from and each activity is presented with step by step instructions, accompanied by illustrations. Alongside each activity is a scientist, artist or engineer spotlight – showing children that these simple experiments can actually lead to something big!

We love spiders in our house (true – perhaps not the funnel webs) but the others fascinate us and I am proud to say we are not spider squashers – but spider rescuers.

With this fascination in mind, we wanted to find out the steps spiders took to create their intricate webs so we turned to page 18 and read about some artists who create life like spider webs out of string in various public spaces.

We also learnt that animals are architects who have inspired many human structures!

The instructions in this book were easy to follow yet gave us room to be creative.

Learning to experiment about the world around us is really important if we are to expect our children to love the natural world.

We need more scientists, engineers and artists to solve the problems of the world so that it will be a wonderful place to live for many more generations to come.

Making with Living things: Build amazing projects with inspirational scientists, artists and engineers, is a must have for any home and classroom – be inspired and get out in the natural world today!