Today is national tree day. What will you be doing?
Local councils run great events where you can have the opportunity to plant a tree, learn about local trees that best suit your area and some councils even give away free mulch and trees for your backyard!
However – we can’t always make these events so why don’t you look around and see if you have any books at home that might inspire more thought and care towards these living things that we cannot do without.
Try one of these books:
Trees by Lemniscates
Let me know if you would like any help in adding more to your literacy or home reading time.
Enjoy your day appreciating the trees!
Bronwyn Bancroft’s poetry brings the vibrant colours to life as we sail through shadows,ferns, clouds and raindrops.
Each page brings another part of Australia to life with shades, hues and patterns.
As you read Colours of Australia, a calmness sweeps over the readers, immersing them in the Australian landscape.
We loved reading this story, looking at the different shades of colour and wondering about the beauty of Australia.
This is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to link picture books to nature through Indigenous art techniques.
So how does this link to sustainability?
This book encourages us to go outside – everyone! There is so much research pointing us in the direction of outside play. We need to get more in touch with the land, the plants and the animals that are part of our world. Nature is important in so many different ways. See my blog post on nature play.
Compare pictures of some wonderful Australian locations and create them in your own way using colours and shades like Bronwyn Bancroft has.
Go to your local paint shop and grab some paint cards. You can find so many different shades of every colour and this can help children to discern between the different shades and how they wish to use them.
Look a local river, a river in the daintree, a river in a farming area and a river in flood through the desert. Notice the different colours of the river at different times and different locations.
Learn about Bronwyn Bancroft and her amazing artworks.
This book contains fantastic vocabulary to start drawing on the importance of synonyms in creative writing. Create your own synonym wall for each drawing in this book.
Touch and feel words – which words in this story make us ‘feel’ the word? Discuss and find more of these.
How do colours make you feel? What if you had synaesthesia. How would this effect how you ‘see’ colours?
What is a Bogtrotter you might ask?
He is a delightful creature that lives in the bog – a gloomy, marshy, mushy bog! Bogtotter, written by Margaret Wild is a book that focuses on belonging, trying new things, playing outdoors, loneliness and discovery.
The illustrations by Judith Rossell are marvellous, really bringing to life the Bogtrotter and his feelings.
The reader steps through into the life of the Bogtrotter, watching him start off doing the same thing every day, not knowing how to make a change. It is through talking to other animals around him and picking a flower that he sees that there is more to his bog.
So how can we use this book?
- Get outside more often. It is easy to be inside with all of the gadgets, toys and applicances but some of these can be used outside too! Grab a pile of books and read them outside, take a picnic blanket onto a small patch of grass and set up some games, eat lunch outside, take photos, pick flowers/grass/leaves! there are so many things we can do outside.
- Learn outside – many teachers spend all the teaching time in the classroom. Is it possible to have at least one lesson outside? Start with one a week then build it up.
- Try something new – even if it is something small, once a week. You are opening yourself up to new experiences which in turn helps your thinking and view of the world.
- In order to understand the world and the issues within we need to get out. We need to try new things, read new things and listen to others ideas. Ignorance really is bliss but there is so much out there in the world that by trying something new or listening to someone else’s thoughts actively, we can really make a difference!
Before you read:
What is a Bogtrotter? What is a bog? How will picking a flower change his life?
As you read
Have a set of word cards (see my store) out that can be found during the reading (you may like to read once without the words so children can enjoy the story). As the words are found, discuss the meaning using skills of inferring. Group these words into groups of your choice (verbs, adjectives, feelings etc)
After you read
- Retell the story in your own words using the pictures to help. Which words from the book will help you to tell the story in the most interesting way?
- Why does Bogtrotter only say ‘Ah’ (this allows us to think more, perhaps he only needs to say ah) If you were to re tell this story – would you change this?
- Cycles: Draw up the daily cycle of the Bogtrotter at the beginning of the book. Add to this or draw another to show how his cycle evolved over time. Link this to how we can make small changes in our life to make a difference in how we feel.
- What are the main themes here? See what the children can come up with. Ask them to give examples through words used in the story and images drawn.
- Persuasive text: Why should we make changes? Why should we play and learn outside?
- Link to Choose your own Adventure stories – How can we choose our own adventures? Look at these great planning ideas.
- Thought bubbles: How would we write this as a comic strip or a story which uses thought bubbles? Discuss how thought bubbles can tell a story and create one!
- Bogtrotter feels lonely but through meeting a frog, he is inspired to make a change. Discuss how children can make changes to their life to improve it. Write down a list of things they would like to change and a plan on how they can change it by themselves or through the help of others. Draw on the importance of community and that loneliness is one of the biggest causes of depression.
LINKS TO CURRICULUM
Discuss characters and events in a range of literary texts and share personal responses to these texts, making connections with students’ own experiences (ACELT1582)
Use comprehension strategies to build literal and inferred meaning about key events, ideas and information in texts that they listen to, view and read by drawing on growing knowledge of context, text structures and language features (ACELY1660)
Create short imaginative and informative texts that show emerging use of appropriate text structure, sentence-level grammar, word choice, spelling, punctuation and appropriate multimodal elements, for example illustrations and diagrams (ACELY1661)
OI.5 World views are formed by experiences at personal, local, national and global levels, and are linked to individual and community actions for sustainability.
OI.7 Actions for a more sustainable future reflect values of care, respect and responsibility, and require us to explore and understand environments.
The Magnificent Tree is a beautiful collaboration by Nick Bland and Stephen Michael King. It was published in 2012 by scholastic but is ties in well with National Tree Day this weekend.
The book’s main characters display a loving and respectful relationship between a granddaughter and her grandfather. The young girl loves doing things simply and the grandfather loves ideas that are ‘big, brave and brilliant’ but together they can work together to come up with wonderful ideas!
One day Bonny and Pop decide they need something so they can see the birds better. Pop thinks BIG and starts to draw his ideas whilst Bonny thinks simply and plants a seed with care.
We can draw many different teaching points from this book whilst enjoying the fun illustrations.
- Trees are magnificent! Are there many trees, shrubs or flowers around you that you think are magnificent? Why are they each magnificent?
- Can man made objects be part of our landscape? How can we improve our man made landscape to make nature a part of it? Look into new ways cities are becoming greener with rooftop gardens and green spaces!
- Create a tree diary. How many different tress are in your school? Home area? playground or local bush land?Some great ideas on this blog for looking at the amazing Banksia!
- What can you grow in your backyard or own your balcony?
- Can you make a simple toy to play with? Find some bits and pieces around the house that are no longer needed. This is a fantastically fun activity and it allows children to use their imagination and be creative! Create a toy that can be used outside. It will be amazing what it created if not given too many boundaries. You might like to encourage some planning and you may like to challenge them by limiting the amount of objects they can use. Try it!
THINKING – DISCUSSION POINTS
- What are ideas? How many different ideas did Bonny and Poppy come up with?
- What is a simple idea? What is a complex idea? Create a list of ideas and place them into categories.
- Draw up your own inventions – one that is simple and one that is complex. Both need to fulfill a similar purpose.
- How does a seed become a plant? Look at the life cycle of different types of seeds.
This is a heart warming story which shows a loving and respectful relationship between grandfather and granddaughter. A great one to read on grandparents day!
It also shows that simple ideas can be wonderful so encourage those simple ideas from your children and students as from little things big things grow!!
Fraser Island is a large Sandy Island that many people love to visit for it’s pristine waters and sandy terrain. However there once was a tribe that lived here – the Butchulla Tribe.
The difference with this tribe was that as the stories were told, the signs and symbols were drawn into the dirt. These symbols were then woven into their dilly bags so that the stories remained part of their every day lives.
As we read the stories within this book it was interesting trying to interpret the pictures which accompanied most of the legends.
Learning about our Indigenous past is important for all Australians and we need to do this more often with our young children. Many of these stories tell us ways in which the land can be cared for and how we can respect the native flora and fauna.
So what can you do?
- MAIN IDEA: Create your own story by drawing a picture in a square. Look at the stories in the book to get ideas how the ideas are portrayed. Remember that they do not follow our western way of storytelling, be creative and look at how Moonie Jarl as drawn the stories. As you create, think of a story that teaches others something about the land and it’s creatures.
To help create the story think about:
- Which stories told children about safety?
- Which stories are about animals? plants? birds?
- Are any of the stories frightening?
- What sort of colours are used? Why?
- Why are there different names for animals we know? Can you find out more about the Butchulla language?
Many aspects of the curriculum can be infused with learning of our Indigenous past
OI.5 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of life are uniquely expressed through ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing.
OI.3 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have holistic belief systems and are spiritually and intellectually connected to the land, sea, sky and waterways.
My Green Day by Melanie Walsh is a vibrant and fun book for readers of all ages to enjoy.
With hidden pictures, flaps to lift and holes this picture book is not only an informative book but it is also fun!
My Green Day outlines through picture, simple sentences and colourful illustrations how we can all try to be more environmentally friendly in our every day activities.
These simple tips include having a compost bin at home, drying clothes on the clothes line, making presents rather than buying them and eating all of our food!
Children will enjoy these tips and I am sure they will feel that it is something that they can do at home, quite simply.
So how can we have more fun with this book?
- Write a persuasive argument about the importance of being more environmentally friendly, drawing ideas from the book.
- Persuade parents to buy a compost bin, have chickens or use the dryer less.
- Students can write their own comic strip outlining there own ‘green day’
- What is a compost bin? How do they work?
- What is plastic? How is is made? Can it be reused or recycled?
- If we all threw out one apple a day, how many is that in a week? Two noodles of pasta? Half a piece of bread? etc.
- Look at your shopping list. Using fractions and percentages work out the fraction of recyclable materials in the packaging. Plastic materials. No material/no waste.
- How many litres come out of a tap/shower in thirty seconds? Work out how many litres each student uses per day after they record their times at home.
- What is in our lunch boxes? List and group the different materials. (Objects are made of materials that have observable properties (ACSSU003) )
- What is recycling? How can we recycle and what happens? Investigate worm farms, compost bins and school rubbish and recycling bins. Everyday materials can be physically changed in a variety of ways (ACSSU018) , People use science in their daily lives, including when caring for their environment and living things (ACSHE035) , Different materials can be combined for a particular purpose (ACSSU031)
- Ask – why do we need to have a green day? Investigate the effects of not having a green day by taking home a daily diary to record and reflect on activities that are ‘green’ and those that are not so ‘green’ Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions (ACSHE051)
- Investigate how long it takes to break down different substances (in dirt, in a bin, in a compost bin, in sun etc) Relate this to what students do with their own waste.
- Investigate the use of plastic and how long it takes to break down as compared to reusable bags. With guidance, plan and conduct scientific investigations to find answers to questions, considering the safe use of appropriate materials and equipment (ACSIS065)
- Create an action plan for the school so that the school can have a green day every day. In order for the school to feel that they are making progress gather initial data such as contents of bins, amount of rubbish in the bin, amount of waste coming from each classroom after each week, time lights are on in classrooms, computers left on. Gather this data to show where the school is at and then re gather after a month or two to see progress in the school action plan. With guidance, plan and conduct scientific investigations to find answers to questions, considering the safe use of appropriate materials and equipment (ACSIS065)
A forest by Marc Martin immediately captured my attention with the creatively painted forest on the front cover.
The tiny trees that envelop the front cover , each one completely different from each other, have been drawn with water colours, texta, pencil and ink.
A forest tells a story through simple words and captivating pictures about a forest being destroyed due to human greed but then growing again through human care. A true story of hope and empowerment.
I loved reading this story to my children and they enjoyed listening and looking at the illustrations. It is a poignant story and one which helps to grow awareness of the importance of the natural world just outside out doorstep.
It’s a brave story with tender words and memorable images. It’s a must read for anyone who loves a good picture book with a message of hope.
So, how can we have fun with this story before, during and after we have read it?
- Tell the story without any words – ask your child or class to tell their own story. Storytelling is a timeless art, increases vocabulary and imagination and is a lot of fun. Children can see the story how they wish to see it. Give it a go.
- Using measurement skills, work out how many trees per cm2. Students can attempt to work out what this would look like if the scale was 1cm2=1km2. Research different forests of Australia and the size of them. Predict how many different trees would be in these spaces & perhaps even the variety of trees (Fostering the importance of biodiversity)
- Make tree patterns, not only learning about different types of patterns but also exploring different types of trees around the school or neighbourhood!
- Measure different tress that are in the school grounds or the local park. This could even be monitored over the year to see how they all grow differently.
- How many different types of trees are in the local area? Create different data displays.
- Create your own forest – perhaps an Australian version (rainforest, eucalyptus forest, mangrove, melaluca etc) . Or create your own city – research cities of Australia and the world. Look at the lines used in the buildings and recreate your own using texta.
- Compare the differences between the two groups of people portrayed in this story. Link this to people who are in our world. Try to walk in both shoes and work out why people make these decisions and why they think they are doing the right thing OR even why people do things even though they know they are being destructive to the natural world or other people.
Experiment with text structures and language features and their effects in creating literary texts, for example, using imagery, sentence variation, metaphor and word choice (ACELT1800),
Create literary texts using realistic and fantasy settings and characters that draw on the worlds represented in texts students have experienced (ACELT1612)
Create literary texts by developing storylines, characters and settings (ACELT1794)
Create imaginative texts based on characters, settings and events from students’ own and other cultures using visual features, for example perspective, distance and angle (ACELT1601)
Create events and characters using different media that develop key events and characters from literary texts (ACELT1593)
Recreate texts imaginatively using drawing, writing, performance and digital forms of communication (ACELT1586)
Retell familiar literary texts through performance, use of illustrations and images (ACELT1580)
Sort and classify familiar objects and explain the basis for these classifications. Copy, continue and create patterns with objects and drawings (ACMNA005)
Measure and compare the lengths and capacities of pairs of objects using uniform informal units (ACMMG019)
Create displays of data using lists, table and picture graphs and interpret them (ACMSP050)
Identify symmetry in the environment (ACMMG066)
Choose appropriate units of measurement for length, area, volume, capacity and mass (ACMMG108)
Calculate perimeter and area of rectangles using familiar metric units (ACMMG109)
Solve problems involving the comparison of lengths and areas using appropriate units (ACMMG137)
Use and experiment with different materials, techniques, technologies and processes to make artworks (ACAVAM107)
Use materials, techniques and processes to explore visual conventions when making artworks (ACAVAM111)
Explore ideas and practices used by artists, including practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, to represent different views, beliefs and opinions (ACAVAM114)
OI.8 Designing action for sustainability requires an evaluation of past practices, the assessment of scientific and technological developments, and balanced judgements based on projected future economic, social and environmental impacts.
Loss and Hope.
Children look at the world differently to adults. They notice so much more than we do and appreciate the small things that we overlook.
Peter Carnavas has written a poignant picture book that shows how much joy nature can give. The images add more depth to the well written story, they are simple and green – highlighting the natural world in the main characters life.
This story drew my thoughts to life as an adult compared to that of a child. As adults we can become caught up in our jobs, money and homes and never stop to realise that there may not be a tree down the street, a bee buzzing in the flowers or a native bird singing in the backyard.
Last tree in the city is the story of a boy who loves to climb the only tree in the city until one day he finds it has been removed. The young boy is upset but demonstrates resilience by not wallowing in despair, but moving on with hope to spread a new green around the city.
This book hits the mark with the current awareness that many city dwellers have with the lack of green space. I have seen in my own city of Sydney that cities are slowly moving towards a greener colour with planter boxes growing on roofs, small trees on the sidewalk and mini herb gardens aside cafes and homes. This book shows that a little bit of green can go a long way in changing the mood of the world.
This book is a heartwarming story full of hope and gives children (and adults) the belief that there is nothing too small that they can do to help improve the world in which they live in.
- Ask students to look around the school environment and note any small changes which can take place to make it a ‘greener’ place to live in.
- Investigate which herbs can be easily grown in pots and used in salads and cooking.
- Investigate plants which help to improve the air quality indoors.
- Learn more about how inner city buildings now have bee hives, working gardens and native plants growing.
- What are community gardens? Find the local one that your child or class can visit.
- What is resilience? How did this boy demonstrate resilience in the story. Discuss what the boy could have done if he wasn’t resilient and hopeful. Discuss other environmental ‘warriors’ who have displayed resilience.
- Compare and contract areas of your city that have become greener or even areas that have become less green due to population expansion.
NSW Curriculum links:
Stage 1: Features of places.
Stage 2: The Earth’s environment
Stage 3: A diverse and connected world.
Stage 1: Earth and space, Living world
Stage 2: Living world.
Personal health choices & Problem solving.