Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho

A very clever story told through pictures and limited words – Don’t Cross the line by Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho is an excellent addition to any classroom studying government and society.

There is a guard who follows the rules – the rules that does not allow anyone to go on the right hand side of the page.

All the characters that he meets want to go to the other side of the page but meet with his strict orders not to go against him….until a ball gets kicked over the line and the crowd no longer want to be told what to do.

Will people power overcome fear and dictatorship or will they continue to live in fear?

Can we see the different sides to the story to really understand where the different characters are coming from and how they feel about the other side of the page?

You will enjoy reading this book again and again, looking at the different characters that live on the pages and seeing how they react to the different situations presented to them as the story progresses.

It is a great book to accompanying any unit of work about government and society and will really help you to reflect on how you see the rules you live under.

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Don't Cross the Line!

So what else can you do with this book?

Read through story

  • What is power?
  • How is power shared in a democracy? How is power shared in other forms of government? Explore different types of government that exist or have existed.
  • How does power change?
  • What is a dictatorship?
  • Can people power overthrow a dictator?

Literacy

  • Rewrite this story using either first or third person – explore the difference between telling this story from two different perspectives
  • Could you add more speech bubbles to this story?
  • Could you take away the speech bubbles and write a story instead? How does this change the idea and tone of the story?

Follow on with books that link in with government – we are going to look at Once by Morris Gleitzman so watch this space!

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 Don't Cross the Line!

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Sorry day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler

Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away

Sorry Day is a very important picture book  to share this Sorry day – or any future Sorry days.

Released on May 1st, Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is a powerful story that highlights both the impact on the families who lost loved ones when they were taken away and the impact Kevin Rudd and the Australian community had when they formally said sorry in 2008.

The scene is set as we meet young Maggie who is excitedly waiting at the Sorry Day speech but amongst the excitement she loses her mother and frantically searches for her amongst the sea of legs and people.

But as we watch Maggie we also see the loss the Indigenous people experienced during the period of The Stolen Generation, we experience through word and illustration how it would have felt to be ripped apart from your family with no warning.

Dub Leffler’s illustrations are amazing and give so much more emotion to this meaningful story. We hear the story and we see the people.

We hear their cries and we feel the emotion as we watch their faces.

We read the history and we see how this has effected the current landscape.

Sorry Day by Coral Vass and Dub Leffler is picture book you will not forget.

I’m sure children will have many questions about this topic once this story has been read as the links between a child getting lost in a crowd and the story of children being taken away really pulls at the heartstrings and stirs so much emotion.

Delve deep into this topic with your young readers, explore the past and think about how we can make the future a better place.

What else can you talk about?

  • Explore the quote: Long ago and not so long ago, the children were taken away.
  • How did the story impact your emotions?
  • Why did the author jump between the past and the present?
  • How has the illustrator shown the difference between the past and the present?

Sorry Day

  • When is Sorry Day and how long have we commemorated this day?
  • Explore the impacts of The Stolen Generation.
  • Why was there a Stolen Generation?
  • What can we do now to ensure inequalities between indigenous and non-indigenous people lessen?
  • How can you share the story of Sorry Day with others?

Creative Arts

  • List any songs that you know of that explore this theme.
  • List any artwork that you know of that explores this theme.

There are some excellent teacher notes here: https://flickingonthebook.files.wordpress.com/2018/05/3fe4b-sorrydayteachers27notes.pdf

Buy this book now from Fishpond:

Stories make us determined

The theme from the Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs, for this month is

Reading stories make us determined

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But why?  

  • We can be determined to finish a book. Finishing a great book brings about satisfaction that we can read and Enjoyment that we read a great book (and perhaps learnt something). (any great book!)

  • We can be inspired to do something we have only dreamed out once we read about a character  doing something amazing. (<Once Upon a Small Rhinoceros by Meg McKinlay)

  • We can protest about a wrong doing in society because we read about the injustices of the world.  (The ones that disappeared by Zana Frallion)

  • We can look towards people who are determined to save wildlife from extinction and aspire to be like them. (Phasmid by Coral Tulloch and Rhino in the house by Daniel Kirk)

  • We can be in awe of the determination of the main character to keep on keeping on despite adversity (Once and Then by Morris Gleitzman)

  • We can be determined to rights the wrongs of the past and make the future a better place (Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh)

 

Do you know of some great books that show determination?

The littlest things give the loveliest hugs by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost

Hugs from someone you love or someone who cares for you are just one of those things that can make your day seem so much brighter.

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And that’s why we loved reading The Littlest things give the loveliest hugs by Mark Sperring and Maddie Frost.

You’ll sail through this book and meet different parents who just love their little ones and the snuggly hugs that they give.

The rhyming and repetition will entrance young readers as will the brightly coloured illustrations.

We loved discussing how the different animals did hug each other with their different sized limbs and bodies. We also wondered how they lived and the different body covering they each had.

The littlest things give the loveliest hugs is a fun book for young readers and a great way to explore the role of parent and child in the animal kingdom!

So what else can you do with this book?

  • Explore how these different animals live.
  • Explore how long babies in each animal group stay with their parents.
  • Look at rhyme and the different words that rhyme with hugs.
  • The end pages are lots of fun to look at – explore the differences between the front and the back.

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 The Littlest Things Give the Loveliest Hugs

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Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng

Have you ever made something  from scratch?

And then been able to give that object to someone else?

Ash dresses her friends by Fu Wenzheng is a wonderful story about friendship, sharing, kindness and the beauty of being able to make things yourself.

Ash is a shy little bird and she doesn’t have many friends until she starts to use her wonderful gift – her ability to create clothing and objects from a beautiful piece of red material.

Ash creates many things including a shirt, arm chair cover, a dress and a scarf! She spreads her ability and love all over the neighbourhood and brings joy to so many through the simple act of kindness.

Ash could have kept the red material all to herself and made so many wonderful things from it but she chose to share and make other animals lives happier.

Ash dresses her friends is a wonderful story about how we can be kind to others, how we can share our gifts to make others happy and how we can make things on our own.

Many of us resort to the shops to buy things for friends – perhaps this book will inspire you to make something of your own next time a friend needs a present, a pick me up or just a reminder of how important they are in your life.

The illustrations really highlight the friendships being developed, the happiness each gift brings and the vibrancy of the material Ash uses in each creation.

I loved the red material Ash used and hopefully one day I might just find something made out of it!

So what else can you do at home?

SELF ESTEEM

  • Explore the gifts your child has. Talk to them about what they can do to make others happy and to show them how special they both are.
  • Look at how Ash felt shy and sad and explore times your child has felt like this.
  • How do friends make us feel good?

SUSTAINABILITY

  •  Ash made things herself out of one piece of material. Where do your clothes come from and who made them? Can you make the effort to buy more clothes from locally and ethically made sources?
  • Explore the Fashion revolution to see how you can be more aware of how your clothes were made, what they are made of and where they go once you have finished with them.

ART

  • Explore the techniques used by Fu (contrast between red and black/grey) and how this impacted the story. Create your own artwork using two contrasting colours.
  • Create your own print like the red material.

COMMUNITY

  • How can you play a bigger role in your community? Explore different groups or community days and how you can be a part of them so you know more people around you.

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Ash Dresses Her Friends

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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!

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 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)

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth

Ever since her mum died, Ruby has been afraid. Of cars. Of the dark. Of going to sleep and never waking up. But then the last remaining leopards of the mountain are threatened and everything changes. 

Without warning Ruby’s mother is killed in outback Australia. Her mother, a herpetologist  leaves a gaping hole in Ruby and because of this sudden loss, she doesn’t know how to cope.

Ruby’s father and grandmother are also struggling to deal with this loss and we see this in the first chapter when they race to get away from Australia and on a boat into India without warning – to manage an abandoned hotel at the foot of the Himalayas.

At first Ruby hates living in this remote location but as time goes on she makes a friend, learns about the mountains and sees how much help she can be to the local wildlife.

But despite this new found love of the mountains she soon discovers a dark secret that it hides – poachers. These poachers are on the hunt for endangered leopards and will do anything to hide what they are up to.

You will fall in love with the mountains of India and be in awe of the determination and strength that Ruby displays despite the loss she has just experienced.

Children will relate to Ruby and Praveen and their ability to see beyond what adults see when it comes to making a difference in the world.

When the mountains roared by Jess Butterworth is an excellent read, set out in small chapters and adorned with leopard print, young readers will find this book a page turner yet a mananagable one.

When the mountains roared is a great book for a class novel study as it links in India and Australia, animal conservation and natural disasters.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Find out where Ruby moves to from reading the description in the novel. Work out how long it would take to get there by boat and bus.

– Does this book have any similarities to Jess Butterworth’s other book ‘Running on the roof of the world”?

– Where in the world are animals poached and why does this happen? Explore what poaching means and measures in place to stop this from happening.

– Explore the differences in children’s lives around the world. Compare Ruby’s life in Australia to Praveen’s life in India as a goat herder.

– What are superstitions and why do they exist? Do you have any superstitions? How can superstitions be helpful and harmful?

– How many leopards (different types) are left in the world? Is poaching the only reason they are endangered?

You hold me up by Monique Gray Smith and Danielle Daniel.

The four words : You hold me up ring throughout this picture book, highlighting the importance of family, trust, friendship and love.

Written by two Canadian authors, this story highlights the damage done by the government to indigenous children in the past and at times, now.

A pertinent issue for many countries around the world, and as an Australian, something we need to do more about.  

Children being taken from their families, never to see them again was something that happened all too often and the stories that are emerging from this are atrocious.

Many of these children and families are on a long path to healing and can only do this with the support of the community around them.

This story reminds us that we are all human and that we all need love, respect and dignity.

Monique Gray Smith has written this with the littlest people in mind and hopes to encourage dialogue among children, their families and educators.

Danielle Daniel’s illustrations are vibrant and full of warmth and love. Each picture oozes the strength of each relationship and the bond held between the people involved.

Read this story with those around you and as you do, you will realise how important it is to hold everyone in our community up.

So what else can you do with this book?

  • Think about how you can support those in your family when they are sad, have experienced something difficult or are just having a bad day.
  • Investigate the Indigenous people of your country. How have they been treated in the past and how are they treated now?
  • How do books like this inspire change? Can books inspire change?
  • Look at the technique used by Danielle Daniels: bright colours, focus on faces and how we can draw emotion into people. Experiment with your own way of exploring happiness, love and support in art.

Dot.common sense: How to stay smart and safe online by Ben Hubbard.

Have you been concerned about the prospect of your child delving into the unknown world of the internet alone?

The use of social media, digital footprints and you tube videos is something that we cannot avoid; so it’s time to pick up your child and that cup of tea and together read this book!

Dot.Common sense is a great way to engage your child in conversations about being safe online.

Walking through different aspects of the online world are two children – Olivia and Sam. Along the way they come across cyber bullies, trolls and viruses but they also learn about the positives of the internet – information gathering, linking with friends after school and educational games.

As they travel through different aspects of the internet, they learn about the importance of boundary setting before anything online has begun. Page 13 gives parents and carers a great list to go through with your child that they will need to adhere to if they are to use the internet and all within it!

Talking to your child about the concept of forever is important as well as the idea that not everyone online is your friend – even if they make it out that they are.

Online etiquette is also a focus of this book and children will learn the importance of treating everyone with respect even if they don’t know the person. So many young people fall into the trap of cyber- bullying as it is very easy to say things behind an avatar – but as we are too well aware, these simple words can form tidal waves in young people’s lives.

Dot.Common sense is a book to read slowly with your child. Stop after each chapter and have a discussion, talk about scenarios and set boundaries together.

The quiz at the end of the book is a fun way to go over what has been learnt and something to revisit when the time arises.

Dot.Common Sense is a book that every child should read before they head into the online world so that they are safe and they ensure that others are safe too.

So what can you do at home? 

 – Create your own rules for online use at home.

– Look at how you all use the internet and see if there is a way you can use it better so that you all remain safe online.

– Discuss ways the internet is beneficial and how those sites could be used more regularly over sites that can cause harm.

– Revisit this book from time to time and work through the different topic areas so that everyone has a clear understanding of how to act online.

Unplugged by Steve Antony

But one day there was a power cut…

Can you imagine? A life without your computer? phone or tablet?

What would you do if you had to go outside, talk to people around you or explore the unknown outside the safety of your device?

Steve Antony has answered these questions in his creative picture book – Unplugged.

Blip, a little robot loves her computer and all of the different things she can do on it. She can play games, learn new things, sing, draw and go on adventures – what more could she want?

She thinks she has it all until the power is cut and it is only then that she realises how much more is outside and how much more colour it brings to our lives.

Blip loves being outside and with real friends  and even though she loves her computer she realises just how great outdoor play is and the need to do it more often.

Simply told through words and pictures, children can see the similarities and differences between computer games and the outside world. But they can also see how much better playing outside is. Most children I have read this to have agreed that outside is so much better but they still like their computers – which is fine but as adults we really need to get motivated and take our children outside, explore with them, play with them and teach them just how much more is out there.

Computers are great but they can breed jealousy (when viewing those perfect pictures) time wasting, inappropriate content, narrow view of the world, time wasting and loss of imagination and creativity.

Perhaps it is time to see what you and your children are doing when you are plugged and unplugged. Perhaps it is time to become just like Blip and see how great it is to be unplugged!

So what else can you do with this book?

LITERACY

  •  Write a letter to yourself persuading you to get unplugged more often.
  •  Write a letter to your parents, encouraging them to get unplugged
  • When Blip plays all day long there are no words between the friends. What do you think they might be saying to each other?
  • If you were to spend a whole week with your family without screens what would you do? Where would you go? Write some ideas down to share.

NUMERACY

  • Work out how much time you spend in front of a screen and work out a way you can spend less time in front of it.
  • How often do you move? Investigate your daily movement and how taking time off the screen can help your movement and health.

INQUIRY

  •  How are you like Blip? Create an advertisement to show a person, before and after being unplugged. You can choose a perspective to take this from – health and wellness or computing company.  Look at how advertisements can persuade us to do things that aren’t great for our health and see how you can create your own.

Hark it’s me, Ruby Lee! by Lisa Shanahan and Binny.

Ruby Lee is a little girl with a very BIG imagination

Ruby Lee is a young girl who loves school and loves helping but never seems to get chosen for the jobs she really wants to do. Until one day, when the chosen helpers are away, Ruby Lee and her friend George Papadopoulos finally gets the opportunity to take a message to the office.

However, Ruby Lee’s amazing imagination takes them a little off the track and no where near the office where the measure needs to be! Where they end up will surprise you and the colourful illustrations by Binny will allow you to extend your imagination even more!

Back in the classroom, Ruby Lee, despite her best efforts to deliver the message, is disappointed….. until a pigeon flies into the classroom, and that is when she really discovers what she can do best.

Lisa Shanahan integrates the ideas of creativity, friendship and finding your gifts into this story – showing the young reader that it is really important to be aware of your gifts and not focus on what others do best, but what you do best.

A great read for those starting or continuing pre-school or primary school as it really highlights the importance of friends and the importance of believing in what you can do best.

So what else can you do with this book?

 – Look at the end papers – why are there small birds used?

– What do you think George Papadopoulos’ background is?

– Where did Ruby Lee and George travel do on their message adventure? Create your own story about somewhere you might go in-between your classroom and the office.

– What are your gifts? Write down 5 things you are really good at and proud of. If you have trouble ask a friend.

Koalas eat gum leaves by Laura and Phil Bunting

Do you actually know exactly what koalas eat?

Are you sure?

Perhaps you’d better read this to find out….

Koalas eat gum leaves by Laura and Phil Bunting is a fun filled book where you learn a little more than you bargained for about koalas.

We all know they eat gum leaves for every meal but one little koala is tired of these eucalyptus treats so he sets his eyes on something a little bit more delicious.

Not only will the young reader love the story, they will also enjoy looking at the extra messages within the pictures – the simple change of where the eyes are looking, the movement of the sun in the sky and the arm or leg movement to show something else the koala might be thinking.

Koalas eat gum leaves by Laura and Phil Bunting is a cleverly written story and despite it’s humour there are some lovely hidden messages to find and discuss after you have finished reading.

P.S. Don’t forget to stare at the end pages for at least 5 minutes!

What else can you do with this book?

RESEARCH

– What do koalas eat? Where do they live? Are they endangered?

WONDER

– What would happen if Koalas did eat human food as part of their diet?

THINK

– Why is the koala a national icon? Aren’t there any other animals worthy of this? Choose another animal that should be part of the tourist trail and convince others why.

INVESTIGATE

– How is ice cream made? Can you make your own ice cream? By making your own ice cream,not only are you cutting out the plastic container you are also using fresh and natural ingredients (go on, have a read of the back of the packet…)

CREATE

– Create some different Australian flavoured ice creams. Could you create some that animals could eat? You will need to investigate the diet of each animal .

Brave and strong, All day long. By Elizabeth Cummings

 

Today I’m taking part in the Just write for Kids Books on Tour and I’m happy to introduce Elizabeth Cummings and her latest picture book from her Verityville series, Brave and Strong All Day Long, as a part of her Books On Tour promotion.

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Summer is coming and it’s time to hit the beach don’t you think?

Many people love going to the beach to relax and it’s even better when the weather is warm enough to swim.

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Thankfully, in Australia, many of our beaches are patrolled by lifegaurds who are there to watch over us as we swim underneath the waves, ride the waves or try to run away from them!

Brave and strong all day long by Elizabeth Cummings is a short and simple picture book with a big message – the importance of lifeguards.

Lifeguards need to be confident, strong and brave all day long, they need to be able to help those in need, teach people how to swim safely in the surf and most importantly ensure that everyone returns back to their towels at the end of their swim!

This book, brought to life with Johanna Roberts’ vibrant and informative illustrations, tells us the story about Fiona, a young girl who became a lifeguard. She loves surfing and has enough confidence to be able to help those in need. Not only can Fiona help swimmers caught in rips she can also help fishermen and surfers!

Young children will enjoy reading this story and learning about what lifeguards do. The images reflect what a lifeguards uniform looks like so readers will know who to look out for if they need help at the beach.  There is also a great drawing of a rip – a great way to start a conversation about this ever present danger in the water and perhaps the chance for further research so your children know what one of these looks like.

Brave and strong, all day long has been self published along with many other wonderful creations by Elizabeth and Johanna. Raising awareness of the important role lifeguards play in society is something we all need to do so we do not take these wonderful volunteers for granted.

Check out her website and consider some of her other great titles as well! https://elizabethmarycummings.com/book-store/

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“For more information on blog tours at Books On Tour please visit www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour.” Thanks so much. Please let me know if there’s anything else you need.

So what else can you do after you have read this book?

  • ENGAGE: Visit the beach and watch what the lifeguards do – perhaps even talk to one and see what they have been up to!
  • INVESTIGATE: Why the flags are placed up and how they help us.
  • INVESTIGATE: Learn more about rips here: https://beachsafe.org.au/surf-safety/ripcurrents
  • ASK: Why do lifeguards wear long sleeve tops and hats. Investigate sun safety and why we need to cover up.
  • THINK: What sort of sun cream do you use? Why are there so many types out there and are they all the same?
  • RESEARCH: Where and when did surfing originate? Why do lifeguards use boards to rescue people?

 

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Molly the Pirate by Lorraine Teece

“Molly lived a long way from the sea, but every day she wished she was a pirate”

Molly is a little girl with a great imagination. She lives in the red dirt of the Australian outback with her mum, a cat, a dog and three chooks but nothing is stopping her from dancing a jig with a pirate, steering a pirate ship or fighting Captain Chicken!

Lorraine Teece has brought this little girls vivid imagination to life through action, adventure and fun filled description of life aboard a pirate ship. Teamed together with Paul Seden’s colourful and movement filled illustrations, Molly the pirate is a great book for young readers.

Children will be inspired to use their own imagination after they have read this book – noticing that sometimes those every day boring looking objects can be turned into something a lot more fun.

A clothes basket could turn into a pirate ship.

A backyard chook into a fearsome pirate

A washing line into a sail .

Many children lack these skills of imagination as they have so many screens and toys to amuse them. Molly the Pirate shows us that with a little bit of creativity we can make any imaginary world come to life!

Perhaps you’ll start to look at the washing basket a little bit differently next time you take it out to hang on the line….

So what else can you do?

  • CREATE: Encourage imagination!! Instead of buying your children more toys take them outside to a park or natural setting and let them play and imagine up worlds.
  • INVESTIGATE: Take a look at your clothes line – who invented this and why? Why should we dry our clothes on the clothes line instead of the dryer?
  • LEARN: Do you have backyard chooks? Where do your eggs come from? Investigate the best types of eggs to buy if you can’t have chooks of your own.
  • RESEARCH: Where is the red dirt of Australia? Investigate which towns live on red dirt and why it is red.
  • WONDER: Did chickens ever travel on pirate ships? Find out more about pirates and why they existed and how they still exist now.

Global Guardian Project

Have you heard of the Global Guardian Project?  This project is something I recently stumbled across and has been something I have been thinking about for a while – how can I help parents empower their children?

The Global Guardian project is the answer.

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Each month they release a new module which focuses on a variety of topics that help families to be inspired and empowered to make differences in their world.

Perhaps you too want to raise children who do care for the planet more than perhaps we have or our own parents have. We want to give them the tools so they can stand up and make a difference!

The Global Guardian Project is another tool you can use at home to create positive habits, learn new facts and challenge each other to become more creative and critical thinkers.

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I will be reviewing several capsules in my blog and I invite you to read these reviews and think about becoming a Global Guardian member.

So how much does it cost?

The wonderful part of the GGP is that you can choose how much you want to spend. You can nominate from as little as $6.99 a month to $12.99 a month.

How do I become a member?

If you sign up through my blog and use my code you will receive a 10% discount on any membership that you choose.

Ready to sign up?

Discount code: GGPVanessa

Sign up link: https://globalguardianproject.com/pages/digital-learning-capsule-subscription

Hope to see you in the GGP group soon!

Draw a story

This month, The Australian Children’s Laureate, Leigh Hobbs has suggested that we focus on drawing a story.


The idea behind drawing a story is to show how much the illustrations can change how we see the story. The illustrations can give us the viewpoint of someone or something in the story or just allow us to be observers.

Illustrations can help us to feel stronger emotions or to understand what the author really means.

Illustrations play a vital role in picture books and allow us to stop and think about what we have just read, search the page for more meaning and look at how different illustrators portray ideas.

There are more great graphic novels coming out – picture book and comic style.  And these types of books are a great place to start looking at how illustrations can tell a story all on thier own.

There are some wonderful ideas on the website and also an event but how can you use these ideas if you don’t have access to the books at home or at your school?

  • Last week my son (3) and I sat down. He drew three pictures then put them in order and told me a story as he looked back on what he had drawn. He learnt how to sequence the story, how to start a story and how to finish it – He even managed a complication in between! It was fun, it was easy and he learnt a lot – learning doesn’t always have to be formalised when it comes to books!
  • Explore Graphic novels that I have reviewed: Illegal, The arrival
  • Find an image and make up your own story. Try Bronwyn Bancroft’s art

Educational services

Please contact me if you would like any of the following paid educational services

 

– Written teacher notes linked to the Australian curriculum for novel studies.

– Talks for parents and teachers about Gifted education.

– Lesson plans and units of work related to picture books, junior and young adult fiction , science and sustainability.

I can be contacted by email at nes.ryan@bigpond.com

Please see my About me tab to see my experience in the field of education.

The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft

“I have something to make you jolly, Numbat.” said Anteater.

But animal after animal throughout the alphabet is just too busy to find out what Anteater has until they feel like they are missing out on something wonderful!


The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft is an intriguing  illustrated book that not only is a stunning alphabet book, it also has a message for us all  that I think all readers will see differently.

As readers peruse through the pages and admire the illustrations they can also explore Bronwyn Bancroft’s use of indigenous art techniques which complement each if the Australian animals who stumble across Anteater on his little journey.

Sally Morgan’s words are descriptive and this adds to the depth of using this book in the classroom or at home as parents and teachers can explore the different adjectives used to describe how the anteater thinks the animals might feel about his amazing thing.

The Amazing A to Z thing by Sally Morgan and Bronwyn Bancroft is a beautiful book that can be admired and read again and again and drawn upon for many different lessons.

So what can you do from here?

  • List all of the adjectives that are used throughout the story and discover if any are synonyms.
  • What were each of the animals too busy doing? Explore the different verbs from each of the animals.
  • How much do you know about each of these Australian animals? Explore some of the animals you don’t know a lot about.
  • How many times does the anteater appear throughout the book? Explore counting through the pictures of the animals on each page.
  • Are any of these animals endangered?
  • Are any of these animals endemic to one particular area of Australia?
  • What do you think this amazing thing really is and why might everyone think it is different?

 

That’s not a daffodil by Elizabeth Honey

Does your child know how flowers grow?

Do they know that all flowers were once seeds?

That’s not a daffodil is a beautiful story about a young boy’s relationship with his next door neighbour. The neighbour, Mr Yilmaz, shows the boy a daffodil – but to the boys surprise it is only a bulb (which Tom – the young boy –  thinks is an onion)


Not understanding the time it takes for a seed to grow into a flower or the things you need to do to nurture the seed so it grows, young Tom is always bewildered when Mr Yilmaz refers to the pot of dirt with the bulb inside, as a daffodil.

As we see the bulb slowly grow, we also read creative similes, metaphors and figurative language that cleverley describe the daffodil in each state of growth.

The relationship between Tom and Mr Yilmaz also blossoms as the daffodil grows, just showing how simple acts of kindness can lead us to learning about someone we may not have always chosen to know.

That’s not a daffodil by Elizabth Honey was a CBCA shortlisted book in 2012 and is definately one for the home bookshelf. It not only teaches children about plant growth but also the importance of patience, kindness and the ability to see beyond the simple picture.

 

So what can you do at home?

 

  • Grow some seeds. Find some pots and plant seeds and watch them grow. If you can, keep a seed diary so your child can monitor when the seed is watered and how long it will take to grow into a plant.
  • Learn about the life cycle of a plant or an animal, discover how long other things take to grow and what they need for survival.
  • Imagine a world without regular rain or temperatures that are too cold – what might happen to plants that rely on rain and warmth?
  • Enjoy some green space and digging – it is a wonderful activity for the soul.

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup

We live under the same sky….

We feel the same love….

We play the same games…..

 

Under the same sky by Britta Teckentrup is a picture book for young readers that shows us the beautiful connection that we all have no matter where we live, what we look like, who we love, what we do or how we play.

Delicate illustrations add a soft and gentle touch to the words that quieten young minds and allow them to reflect on the different walks of life around the world.

We have read a few of Teckentrup’s books and this one is definitely another favourite.

Each page follows on from the next with a peek-a-boo type window so that similar ideas can carry on for two pages. Children will love looking through the window and perhaps guessing what will be said on the next page.

Under the same sky is a subtle way to talk to young readers about the world and the many people within. It is a way to teach children about discrimination in its many forms. It is a way to teach children acceptance of others and understanding that ultimately everyone who lives just wants to love, wants to play, wants to sing – just wants to enjoy life, be kind to others and seek out joy.

Britta Teckentrup is a beautiful writer and her illustrations add great points for discussion.

A great picture book read for younger children but also a great one to get older children thinking.

So what else can you do?

  •  Explore how children live around the world. How do children the same age as your children play? What do they sing? How do they learn?
  •  Look up at the sky and talk about what you can see. What can others see? As a group talk about how we all see different things in the world we live in.
  •  Create a book just like this one using the same sentence starter to bring across a message.
  •  Do you treat people like you would want them to be treated? Does your government treat people like they all live under the same sky and have the same hopes?
  • Explore the rhyme used in the story and how it helps to portray the message of equality. Create your own rhyming sentences that have the same starter.

Snap review: Mr Bambuckle’s Remarkables by Tim Harris

Mr Bambuckle is every student’s idea of a dream teacher and perhaps some teacher’s wish they could be more like Mr Bambuckle!


I loved the way Tim Harris presented each short story and through each short story we were able to meet the different students in 12B.

I particulary loved the story of the washing machine as I know that in my childhood I was once afraid of the noise the washing machine made.

Tim Harris has a great ability to make children laugh, connect with the characters and perhaps learn a lesson or two as they read.

This book is also a great way to show students the many different ways stories can be presented.

A great book to read out loud to your class – and perhaps inspire some great storytelling amongst a group!

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins

I’m writing this story in a bottle lost at sea…..

 

Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins is a collection of poems for children that ignite imagination, incite dreaming and explore the great land and wildlife of Australia.


Poetry is not something I read a lot of – but after reading Magic Fish Dreaming by June Perkins I believe it is something I should do more often.

Not only did I enjoy the diverse range of poems included in this book but the children I read it to lapped it up.

My son asked me to read the poem about the Cassowary several times over along with Pond Pests and Magic Fish Dreaming. We loved the rhyme in some poems, the storytelling within others and the speech between families.

Each poem told a different story and really ignited conversations about fairy teeth, why a Cassowary wasn’t at his home and the possibility of us going on an adventure in a bottle.

June Perkin’s poems are short yet effervescent. They are perfect for reading out loud and some of these poems can also be read as a group. Helen Magisson’s delicate pastel illustrations compliment each poem and add more mystery to those poems which make you sit and wonder; what if?

Not only are these poems full of imaginative places they also bring up issues of endangered animals, loss of habitat and the importance of respecting the land. The beauty of these poems that talk about cane toad invasion and loss of natural habitat is that the message can be quickly understood – something that is really important when trying to educate young children.

Magic Fish Dreaming is a wonderful anthology and one to share with your young children.

 

So what can you do at home?

 

  • Read the poems out loud – which poems can you read together? Which poems have different characters?
  • Find the poems that have rhyme – do you prefer poems with or without rhyme?
  • Which animals are mentioned in the story are endangered? Find out where these animals live and why they are endangered.
  • What are cane toad poles? Why are cane toads pests?
  • Rain is mentioned in a few poems – explore how rain can help and hinder the people and animals of the land.
  • Choose a favourite poem and create a short story from this poem. You could explore the idea of writing a story from a bottle or perhaps finding your own fairy tooth.

 

Stripes in the forest by Aleesah Darlison and Shane McGrath

We will hide from their eyes, their dogs, their fire sticks.

We will survive.

For always, we will be. Stripes in the forest. Stealth in the shadows.


A book written for those who value wildlife. A book written to stir awareness of the precious animals in our care. A book written to ensure that we do not wipe out any more animals due to our actions.

Aleesah Darlison has created a story which captures the sprit of the last wild Thylacine, hunted down by man. Stripes in the forest is not so much a story of hope but one of warning. As I read this book to my children and some classes there was a sadness that overcame us all and many questions – why did they hunt them? What did they do wrong? Are they still alive? What can we do now?

The Thylacine was an amazing creature that once inhabited mainland Australia but was slowly hunted out due to farmers killing them to protect their flocks and hunters killing them for sport. The last known Thylacine died in captivity in 1936 but since there rumours have abounded as to whether or not some have still survived.

Shane McGrath’s illustrations give more depth to the story adding the darkness of the rainforests, the hiding places the Thylacine seemed out when it was hunted and the fear it felt when it lost it’s family. The Thylacine is drawn in great detail, giving the reader a true understanding of how it looked and moved.

Stripes in the forest will need some extra discussion after it has been read as it is quite dark; Guns are fired and animals are killed – a very sad reality which still happens today.

But despite it darkness it brings across a very important message – we need to look after the animals on this earth. We need to support those who work in animal conservation so that no more animals become extinct. We need to learn from our past mistakes to make sure this does not happen again.

The facts at the end of this story are a great way to inspire further research into the Thylacine and perhaps some groups who still believe it may be running around somewhere in Tasmania!

So how can we link this to Sustainability? 

  • Check out a list of endangered animals and find out how humans are impacting their existence.
  • Explore these questions – Do we really need as much farm land as we currently have? How does farmland impact on native animals?
  • How do you cause animals to become endangered and how can you change this? (Do you have a cat that creeps out at night? Do you drive instead of walking? How many native plants are in your backyard or local park?)
  • How are conservation groups and scientists helping some of these endangered animals?
  • How does poverty or war cause animals to become endangered?
  • Write to your local government asking them to do more for the animals in your area.
  • Talk about these animals to others and by raising awareness we can make a difference!