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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Milo and the magical stones

 

Symbiosis

A strange word I used to associate only with the rainforest  – strangler figs, leaf cutter ants and fungus and many plants and butterflies. All of these works in different symbiotic ways – negative and positive. Which is very similar to the way humans and the planet work together.

As the population of the planet increases and we all want more, we are working against the planet by not giving it enough time to grow and survive.

Milo and the magical stones by Marcus Pfister is a beautifully written story that allows the reader to decide how they think the mice should treat the island that they live on. A mice named Milo finds a magical stone and then discovers there are many more. He is told by the wise mouse, Balthazar that if they are going to all take a stone each that they must give something back to the island. The reader can then choose to pursue the ‘Happy ending’ or the ‘Sad ending’ to see how symbiotic relationships can blossom or fail.

By allowing children to choose which path they take allows them to think about the path they would take and also see the outcome of the opposing path.

There are many actions in our daily lives where we can choose to make a difference to the planet we live on.

This books provides a simple start for children (and adults) to start to become more conscious of the actions they take on a daily basis.

Teaching tips

  •  Ask students to write down different activities they do each day and then with a partner work out how this action could be more environmentally friendly.
  • Write a letter to their parents outlining how they can make small changes to work in a positive way towards the environment.
  • Compare this story to a real life current situation (coal mining and land degradation, tree logging and soil degradation, large scale deep sea fishing and loss of habitats and species, land clearing for farming or housing and lack of green space). Use a Venn diagram to make the comparison easier. Use current newspaper articles, images and videos for younger students.

milo

NSW Curriculum links:

Geography

Stage 1:  Features of places.

Stage 2: The Earth’s environment

Stage 3: A diverse and connected world.

Science

Stage 1: Earth and space, Living world