Letters to change the world

Christmas has just passed and perhaps your house is now filled with excess toys and packaging.

Over summer we have been talking about toy quality and how some last, while others don’t, which toys are great to have and which ones we will forget about in one week.

From this we have decided to write letters to toy companies and asking them to make changes to the material toys and their packaging is made out of.

I have done this in class with a group of Year 2 students so any age group can follow the following formula to make a letter be read and replied to.

Here is a suggestion of how to get children to enjoy writing letters to companies of their favourite toys…. It’s simple and allows the children to still enjoy having toys – but gets them to think about how small changes can make a big difference!

Dear (Try to find the name of the CEO),

  1. Talk about why you love their toys and all of the things you like to do with them.
  2. Give them a suggestion as to how these toys could be changed so they have less of a devastating effect on the environment.
  3. Tell them that you hope you can see a change and you are looking forward to a reply.
  4. Sign off and add a return address.

Can you inspire your child to write a letter to a company asking them to make a change for the good of the world?

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Yours troolie, Alice Toolie by Kate and Jol Temple

We’ve had a lot of laughs whilst reading ‘Yours troolie, Alice Toolie ’ by @katejoltemple

You don’t need to have met either character before to enjoy the conversation between two classmates who have been made to write letters to each other because of a huge fight they had.

Letter writing between two enemies could not get any better!

The format of this story is fun – the font, the doodles on each letter entry and the honesty of how kids really see the world.

Letter writing may even make a comeback….you never know.

A great book to read and an even better book to use in the classroom to instigate some fun letter writing!

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What can you do with this book?

  • Write some letters between classmates or friends. You can use the post and integrate learning about the Australian postal system or just post the letters in a made up box in the classroom.
  • Investigate the best way to capture and store a ghost. Compare this to the method Alice and Jimmy used. Which way is better?
  • Learn about where and why emoji’s were invented. Create some that you think may be needed in the future.
  • What is eco glitter? Create a list of all the things you love using that are not so eco-friendly. Are their alternative products out there that will not harm the environment?
  • Do you think another letter writing book could come out of this one? Write down some future ideas for Alice and Jimmy if there was to be a second book (it may not be letter writing – could it be something else?)

The lost magician by Piers Torday

If you can imagine it, it must exist. Somewhere.

Four children sent to live with someone they don’t know very well. Four children who have experienced the terror of war in London. Four children who differ in so many ways yet come together to save the world from an evil they least expected.

The lost magician by Piers Torday is an exciting and suspenseful novel which will remind you of stories from Narnia and Wonderland.

We meet the children , Evie, Larry, Simon and Patricia at the end of World War Two. They have survived the horrors of war and their parents need to find a new place to live – so they are sent to live with Professor Diana Kelly in the countryside.

As we read on, we learn that the professor is doing some very important research about a missing man and his extensive library. No one knows where he has gone or where his library vanished to.

This man, named Nicholas Crowne, had read and collected every book ever written and just like a librarian, he was the key to unlocking all of the stories and sharing them with the world.

But now with him missing, the future of the world is unknown, and it is up to the children to find a way to seek him out and understand what he knows before those who choose ignorance take the world he has so lovingly grown.

The Lost Magician by Piers Today will sweep you away into a new and amazing world. As you meet the four children you will understand how important libraries are – not only to ignite imagination but to also spark investigations, develop self awareness and inspire thoughts that you never thought possible.

A wonderful underlying message in this story is the importance of the library and the librarian. Without either of these, the world of stories – told and untold – may cease to exist.

So perhaps support your local library by borrowing a book or petition your local school to make sure students have regular library visits in their own school library. The world of the never reads is one which I am sure you will never want to see exist.

Book Week 2018 activities for classrooms

Need some inspiration for this year’s CBCA Book Week? Check these out!

Sustainability

  • How can we host a waste free Book week? Come up with ideas for costumes and decorations that create the least amount of waste in our school and community.

Literacy

  • Write a book review on one of the shortlisted books.
  • Write down the name of a book that you treasure on a gold coin, book shape, pirate ship, image from book.
  • Write a letter to the author of your favourite book telling them why you treasure it.
  • Write a letter to someone to tell them you found treasure but you have been captured! Tell them where they need to go to find you!
  • Explain why one book should win over the others
  • Explore the protagonist in each story – which are animals? Which are humans?
  • BOY by Phil Cummings- choose a story that you love and draw it as a comic strip or a whole picture without any words.
  • Choose a book, write the name and the title on some decorated paper or shape and place in on the genre treasure map on display.
  • What is treasure and can it mean different things to different people?

Geography

  • Plot on a map where the authors of each of the shortlisted books have come from.

Numeracy :

  • Graph the winners of past CBCA awards: Male vs female, winners from each state etc.
  • Draw a map of the library and plot where different books can be found.
  • If you could buy ten new books for the library – what would they be and how much would they cost? Write a letter to your principal outlining why the school needs these books.
  • Create a map of where you would hide treasure at our school and write down directions using the points of a compass and strides.

Science

  • Do not lick this book: How is a germ like a treasure? Draw a microbe and show why it is like a treasure!
  • Florette – How is a garden, plant or flower like a treasure? Draw your favourite outdoor space that is like treasure and explain why you need this treasure.
  • Design a new library.

Art

  • Search for different paintings that are considered treasures. Do you agree or disagree and why?

What’s at the end of this piece of rope? by Tania Cox and Jedda Robaard.

What’s at the end of this piece of rope? 

Do you leave it? Pull it? Or ask some friends to help you investigate? 

All this is explored through a simple and fun text written by Tania Cox and Illustrated by Jedda Robaard.

With a repeated refrain : What’s at the end of this piece of rope? , a small girl enlists the help of many friends to help her to work out where this tightly held rope is anchored to.

Working together is a key concept in this story and with engaging and fun illustrations, young children will see how important and fun team work can be.

The young reader will love chanting the refrain and also wondering which animal friend will help next. You can ask questions to your young reader as you skip along through the pages helping them to develop their inquiry based thinking.

Enjoy reading this book aloud or encourage your early reader to read to you. Not only is this book a great early reader it is also a great book to spend time perusing through the images of the animals who fill up this book with warmth.

Buy Now – click here: What’s at the End of this Piece of Rope?

What else can you do with this book?

  • Question – what else can be at the end of a piece of rope?
  • Question – should we always pull ropes by ourselves?
  • Question -Why do we need other people to help us sometimes?
  • Which animals are in this story, write down their names and the countries that they come from.
  • Look at the sounds they make as they pull the rope. Can you think of some other sounds that you might make when something is heavy?
  • Why are there not many words in this picture book? Explore the importance of pictures.
  • Please and thank you are used quite a bit in this story – why are these words important?

Find your treasure #4

Where can you find treasure in storybooks? With dragons of course!

This week we found as many dragon books as we could and created a display.

Dragons can be treasures

And

Dragons can be the guardians of treasure

Dragons can be mysterious and dragons can be dangerous.

Dragons can be kind and dragons can be helpful.

There are so many wonderful journeys you can go on with dragons in mind. Check out some ideas we are using in the library!

  1. Using at least 4 books with dragons in them, compare the different roles they play in each story.
  2. How can a dragon be mighty yet meak. Explore this concept with examples.
  3. Explore the myths behind dragons and try to discover early tales of these creatures.
  4. What is a dragon? List as many attributes as possible.
  5. How did the creation of the dragon change the world of storytelling? How does the addition of a dragon change a story?
  6. Dragons are frightening and should not be included in any children’s story.
  7. Do dragons become more frightening the older we get? Discuss this question with examples.

Our school library

Our  library is a place to mingle with different types of books and pick up new books that you may never have thought you liked.


Our library has a Non-Fiction section focus each week – a chance for children to learn about new topics and the books available. 

Our  library is a place to sit still and listen to books being read out loud.

Our library is a place to share book reviews, try out books and ‘shop’ for free.

Our  library is a place to be creative, learn about how a library works and see how author’s think.

Our library is a place where all children can access books at their level and their interest.

Our  library is a portal to different worlds, different times and different people who might just resonate with you and inspire you to take yourself on a different path in life.

Our library books can be accessed online from any student login or accessed any day of the week at school.

 

What do you like about your school library?

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. 

Grandpa’s BIG adventure by Paul Newman

Grandpa’s BIG adventure by Paul Newman and illustrated by Tom Jellett is a story of adventure told by a grandfather to his grandson – and what a great story he tells!


Grandpa is teaching his grandson how to swim (and his grandson is a little apprehensive like many young swimmers are) and to help ease him into the water he tells him of a great adventure he once had when he swam around the world.

The story grandpa tells is amazing and one which we all want to believe in, even when he tells of the time he met the Prince of Whales!  The illustrations highlight the wonderful adventure with brilliant colours and quirky illustrations and tell more of the story to a young readers eyes.

If we all had a grandpa like this who ignited imagination we would never fear anything as we would know that someone has gone through these emotions before – such an important message for young children.

What can you do with this story? 

Geography ~ Numeracy ~Literacy

  • As you read this story pull out a map of the world and look where you could swim to.
  • Look at all of the different bodies of water in the world.
  • Where do people swim? Where don’t people swim? Work out reasons why! 

 Numeracy 

  • Measure distances between countries and bodies of water.
  • Pose problems – if grandpa swam 1km an hour, how long would it take him to swim to New Zealand from Australia? 

 Self awareness 

  • Can you tell a tall story that would help encourage someone?
  • Do you think grandpa did any of the things in this story?

Literacy

  • Look at the inside back and front covers – what else did grandpa do whilst on his adventure? Can you add some extra tales to this story?
  • How do the illustrations change the meaning of the text? Read this book without looking at the pictures – ask students to tell you what they can see in their minds and then show them the image. Give students a sentence (or they create their own) where the sentence can have more than one meaning. 

Word play and extension 

  • Idioms – there are so many wonderful idioms in this story, try and find them! Then explore some more ambiguous sentences and draw your own illustrations. 

Shock Monday by Gillian Bradshaw

Why walk when you can drive? 

The first step to saving yourself is saving the planet – how? 

Explore the new diet trends of the western world – are they doing more harm than good to our planet?


This book reminds me a little of myself….a mum who is trying to help my children to understand more about looking after the world around them and small children who wonder what their mum is getting up to!

Shock Monday by Gillian Bradshaw starts with ‘ Mum always drives me to school……but this morning was different‘ and from there we see through the young boys eyes the transformation of himself, his mum and his sister as they walk to school.

So many of us rely on cars – and many of us do need to BUT there are also many opportunities to walk and we need to make more use of this time we are given.

Tom notices things he has never seen before, meets new friends along the way and actually starts to enjoy himself.

Shock Monday is a great book for parents to read with their children to show them that walking to school and just being more eco-friendly isn’t too weird!

LITERACY

Inferring skills – use these questions to help build up the skills of inference. Inferencing is thinking about and searching text to construct meaning beyond what is literally stated.

– Before you begin : what could Shock Monday be about? Who are the two children? Read the blurb on the back and then re answer the questions.

– As you read: Where do the children live? Why are they walking to school today? How long does it take them to walk to school? What is the weather like? Why does Tom think his mum should have been a teacher? What time of day are they walking to school? Why does Tom’s bag feel lighter?

Further Literacy

 – Write your own story about something that would be shocking in your house to make it a  more eco friendly house.

– Read the packaging of some products that are claiming to be eco-friendly. Are they really?

When we go camping by Sally Sutton

When we go camping by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Cat Chapman is a rhythmical story that the youngest of readers will love. Rhyme incorporated with onomatopoeia provides a book that makes you want to move about, point to the pictures and possibly even pack your car for a family camping trip!

Zip petty zap petty flopp-io

Jumpy bumpy gigg-lio

When We Go Camping highlights all the wonderful things about camping – making friends, sleeping in a tent, helping out as a family and catching your own fish!

It also mentions the trials of camping – but we don’t need to worry too much about them when there is so much fun to be had boiling up the billy, splashing in the river and singing by the fire.

If you have a family member who is apprehensive about camping you need to read this book to them, it’s a gem!

camping

How can I develop my child’s literacy and create a globally conscious child?

LITERACY

  • RHYME – The three sentences on each page end in a rhyming word. Explore other words that rhyme with the final word.
  • Start with a sentence: When we go fishing, When we go riding, When we go bushwalking, When we go running (Make sure the sentence has something to do with outdoor play). Children then create their three lined poem using rhyme.
  • ONOMATOPOEIA: Explore the different uses of onomatopoeia throughout the story. How does it make you feel when you hear those words?  Look back at the three lined sentence that has been created and now add some onomatopoeia to it.

Nature Play

    • Plan a family camping trip or if you can’t do that an outside activity. Children learn so much when they play outside.
    • Write a diary entry, recount over dinner about the activity. Talking and listening reinforces fun times and allows for more family interaction – embedding the importance of talk from a young age.

Rays Outdoors – Homepage

Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood

How does music allow us to connect with others?

If waste did not exist, how would your lifestyle be changed?

Poverty is a necessary evil – do you agree or disagree?

Ada’s Violin (The story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay), written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport is a true story is told about the people who live in Cateura in Paraguay, a town on the edge of a garbage tip.

Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the rubbish you put in your bin?

I am sure many of us never put a second thought to it, especially if you live in a developed country where tips are away from human habitation.

What we put in our bins should be on our mind as landfill is taking up more space with more things that will never break down. In a perfect world there would be no landfill as people would make their own food, recycle, reduce consumption and reuse products themselves or gift to others what they don’t need.

In the story of Ada’s Violin, The main character who is a young girl named Ada lives on the edge of the tip and often views the garbage truck as a vehicle of surprises – it could be full of toys, jewellery or even plastic which had a going rate of ten cents per pound.

Ada’s grandmother notices a sign up for music lessons and promptly enrols Ada but a large problem arises – the lack of instruments to learn on.

It was the creativity and persistence of Senor Gomez , Tito Romero and Senor Chaves that led to the creation of instruments made totally from junk !

After many hours of practise the Recycled Orchestra was born! This orchestra has since toured the world, enthralling audiences with their talent, amazing sound and ability to rise up from the poverty that bequeathed them.

So what can you do with this story?

Sustainability 

OI.3: Sustainable patterns of living rely on the interdependence of healthy social, economic and ecological systems.
OI.4 : World views that recognise the dependence of living things on healthy ecosystems, and value diversity and social justice, are essential for achieving sustainability.
  • Investigate where your landfill goes in your neighbourhood. Are their any tips that recycle rubbish?
  • Investigate how long different items take to break down.
  • Investigate poverty in the world – how many people in the world are living on the edge of a tip? How many people live off a tip. Is it fair that people live like this?
  • Reflect on your own waste habits – do you do enough to minimise landfill? Keep a rubbish diary and note how much you throw out to waste for a week. How much do you recycle? Use for compost/wormfarm/backyard animals?

Music & Science

  • Create your own instrument out of rubbish. How can you make it solely of rubbish? What can you use for glue? binding?

Literacy

  • Investigate the word ‘recycled’. What does it mean to you? What did it mean to Ada? Explore how we can go beyond the meaning in the dictionary depending on perspective and context.
  • Investigate the word ‘orchestra’ .  What does it mean to you? What did it mean to Ada? Explore how we can go beyond the meaning in the dictionary depending on perspective and context.
  • What does this quote mean to you? They had discovered the surprise waiting in the landfill. Buried in the trash was music. And buried in themselves was something to be proud of.
  • How do the illustrations help the story? Explore different pages throughout the book to highlight how they work together.

    ** Create your own recycled instrument, write a description of it – how it looks, how it is made and the items you would need to create it.

    ** This is a story about music. Does it make music throughout the story? How does this book sound? Explore musical words and sounds throughout the story.

    Two lessons for you: 

    Lesson One

    To help students re ne their understanding of the word recycle, have them complete a concept wheel about the Recycled Orchestra. Have students answer the following questions on the appropriate section of the wheel, using both words and illustrations:

    • What does recycled mean? What does orchestra mean?
    • Who recycled? Who is part of an orchestra?
    • Where did this recycling take place? Where can orchestra’s be?
    • What did they recycle? What music did they play?
    • Why did they recycle? Why did they want to be in an orchestra?
    • What were the results of the recycling? What were the results of creating this orchestra?

    Lesson Two

    In order to create the Recycled Orchestra, Favio Chávez had to solve several problems. Explain how he solved the following problems:

    • Problem #1: There were not enough instruments for the children.
    • Problem #2: It wasn’t safe for the children to have expensive instruments.
    • Problem #3: There were no classrooms.

    • Problem #4: The children struggled as they learned to play their instruments.

     

Welcome Home by Christina Booth

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors we borrow it from our children

– Chief seattle.

Welcome Home by Christina Booth is a story of a young boy who can hear whales singing when no one else does. He hears sounds of joy and sadness and listens to stories she tells while he is asleep.


The whale tells of fear and darkness in tales of whaling of the past.

Why did they hurt us and chase us away?

The illustrations illuminate this fear and emptiness and make you wonder why whaling was such a sport.

The whale tells the young boy that she wanted to come home but they do not feel safe –

Sorry – the boy whispers.

The journey the reader embarks on is one of critical thought – why did people go whaling? How has this sport impacted the ocean? How can activities we take part in today impact the future?

Although whaling and the issues that surround it can come across quite strongly – this picture book approaches the dark past in a more gentle manner allowing children to explore the issue without feeling fear or guilt but rather a sense of empowerment.

Welcome Home was inspired but the birth of a whale calf in the Derwent river in 2010 – the first for over 190 years.  It is a beautiful read and one that needs to be read to the future.

So where to from here:

Welcome Home

SUSTAINABILITY

  • How do actions we take every day impact the future?
  • Do people have a right to hunt whales today? Explore the pros and cons of whaling as you try to understand why some countries still whale. Look at whaling from their perspective and see how you could change their mind using their perspective on whales.
  • Create a story about an action in the past that has impacted our current environment in a negative way? Create this story so that readers can learn from this mistake.
  • How are we connected to whales? Do we need whales for our ecosystem to survive? Look at life cycle charts and food chains to explore this question.

NUMERACY

  • Investigate the whale numbers around the world and compare to previous years. How are the numbers changing?
  • Look at the different shapes of whales and the patterns of symmetry.
  • Whales can have barnacles living on them. Which species have this? How many barnacles could fit on a whale?

LITERACY

  • Storytelling is an important gift that we all have. What would the world be like without storytelling? Can you think of what your life would look like without stories?
  • Write a letter, create a magazine advertisement that implores people to think about whaling and the horrific side effects. Great way to use persuasive and emotive language.
  • The whale told this story to the young boy  – could this story be told to an adult? How would the story be different.
  • Explore personification used throughout the story: Tugs at my heart, the moon danced on the waves. How does this language make you feel?

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.