Lucky and Spike by Norma MacDonald

Have you ever wondered what life is like out in the desert of Australia where the Spinifex grass grows and the stars shine all over the night sky?

Through the eyes of two cute hopping mice – Lucky and Spike – you and your young readers will see what they get up to each night as they search for food and escape from hungry predators!

Every night Lucky and Spike enjoy the spinifex seeds leftover from the local women who grind them to make bread but as we find out, they are not the only ones who are in search of food.

Lucky and Spike need to use their quick legs to escape a hungry feral cat and a barking owl but with the help of the camp dog and the sharp spinifex grass, they escape.

Norma Macdonald’s illustrations highlight the colours of the desert and the people who live there. The animals are full of life and we can see their movements over the pages as they hop, fly and run throughout the night.

There is so much to enjoy about this book and so much to learn, it is a must for anyone interested not only in the diverse landscapes, people and animals of Australia, but also the need for better solutions for native species.

The hopping mouse lives in Australia in small pockets of sand dunes, grasslands, gibber plains, heaths and open forest .   

They are on the vulnerable species list and are closely monitored by different conservation groups around Australia. Feral cats are a huge problem due to their ability to hunt the mouse with little detection. Other feral animals who roam free also play a role in the degradation of soil and small grasses – needed to provide safety and shelter.

Lucky and Spike is a fun book to read for younger children but also one which can be used for older readers to explore further into different desert animals.

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So what else can you do with this book?

Sustainability

Look at the final page in this story and read what Norma has written about feral cats. Explore the different organisations who are trying to cull these creatures and the different ways they are doing this.

Visual Arts and Artists.

Explore the art works by Norma MacDonald and other books she has written ( Spinifex Mouse by Magabala books)

Literacy

Find the verbs used to describe how the animals move around. Create a list of other verbs these different animals might use during the night and then during the day.

Science

Research further about Spinifex Hopping mice and Barking owls.

Discover how cats become feral.

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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?

Two Rainbows by Sophie Masson and Michael McMahon

Red and Yellow and Pink and Green, Purple and Orange and Blue….

 

Two rainbows by Sophie Masson and Michael McMahon is a stunning picture book for readers to learn to explore colour in their every day lives. Published by Little Hare books, Two Rainbows explores life in the city and in the country and how colours that are in one place can be completed different in another.

Colour is all around us and every moment of the day the colours can be different. As we read we see that the same colour can be seen in different places and the comparison between city and country colours shows that the same hue can be seen in many different ways-both built and natural .

Everyone loves a rainbow – no matter where it is people always stop to admire, take a photo or just ponder that mythical pot of gold at the end must be out there, somewhere.

This story also allows us to show our children that colour is everywhere, even when days seem dark, lonely, sad or hopeless – there is always colour even in the greyest of cities.

Michael McMahon’s illustrations are simple yet powerful. The simplicity of each picture highlights the colour in our world. Perhaps it shows us how much of a role colour can play in our lives – even when are all so small in terms of the space we each take up. The illustrations also show the beauty and freedom of the countryside and the dull, busy city life many of us lead. Perhaps this story might encourage city dwellers to get outside of the city boundaries more often – and see how those colours become so much more alive when they are in their natural state.

Take the time to read this book with your child and learn to appreciate how even though different  may form the same shade, they can give us a different feeling.

So what can you do at home?

SUSTAINABILITY

  • Get outside into a natural environment and explore colours. Compare the different green leaves on the same tree, Look at the different shades of flower petals and feathers on birds.
  • How can you add more natural colour to your home or local environment?
  • Explore the use of natural colours – make your own and create your own Two Rainbows style book. Use beetroot, potato, clay, spinach and carrot!!  Using natural colours ensures that less chemicals are going down the drain.