Sunday, 21 May 2017

How about you? "I'm Australian Too" by Mem Fox giveaway

What journeys we have travelled, from countries near and far! Together now, we live in peace, beneath the Southern Star.
Mem Fox's latest picture book, "I'm Australian Too" is a celebration of Australia's cultural diversity.   Touching on themes around Australia's multiculturalism, immigration and refugees, the book captures many of the reasons why and how people came to live in Australia and that regardless of our differences, we are all Australians.    

View a YouTube clip of a read aloud of the story, "I'm Australian Too"  here.

"I'm Australian Too" is steeped in themes of inclusivity which would make it a wonderful partner text with, "Whoever You Are", another story of inclusivity and acceptance by Mem Fox.  The blurb of "Whoever You Are" reinforces the importance of the acceptance of individual differences: 

"Every day all over the world, children are laughing and crying, playing and learning, eating and sleeping. They may not look the same. They may not speak the same language. Their lives may be quite different. But inside, they are all alike."

Access free lesson plan ideas for other Mem Fox titles here.

Click on the red hyperlinks to find more resources and ideas about Australian Multiculturalism and Refugees in Australia.

Teaching ideas for "I'm Australian Too" can be found on the Educate. Empower. website.

A lesson plan for "Whoever You Are" is provided by Community Services, ACT.

I have accumulated WAY TOO MANY picture books and I have often ordered a second copy before the first copy arrives so I will be doing regular giveaways on my blog over the next few weeks to give away the additional new copies I have ordered!!!  

In the giveaway this week, you can score yourself a brand new hardback copy of "I'm Australian Too" by Mem Fox.   Unfortunately, due to postage costs, this giveaway is open to Australian residents only, unless followers overseas would like to enter and cover the costs of the overseas postage themselves.

Please share this post with your networks :)  If the Rafflecopter rectangle does not show up, please just click on the link below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a terrific week everyone :)

Friday, 12 May 2017

We go together - "The Cow Tripped Over the Moon" and "Eddie Frogbert"

"The Cow Tripped Over the Moon" by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood, is a hilarious innovation on the original nursery rhyme.  

This version is a terrific tale of courage, persistence and resilience, which integrates maths (through the sequencing of events over time).  It has such potential for STEM, with the opportunity for students to design other ways for the cow to jump over the moon. View a short book trailer by Ms Todd here.

The illustrations by Laura Wood are hilarious and totally engaging as she captures the cow's persistence and resilience.

I just love this picture book.  It is the focus text for National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) on 24 May 2017.  The idea is that all teachers and students across Australia share this picture story book at 11 am on 24 May.  More information about NSS can be found here and ideas for activities to use with the picture book can be found here.

I also found some other links to art and craft activities for "Hey Diddle Diddle" that might be useful during NSS 2017.  

Please share any other ideas you find in the comments section below this post.

A terrific companion text or partner text is the newly published picture book, "A Big Leap for  Little Frog: Eddie Frogbert" by Sue deGennaro.  The whimsical illustrations use gouache, paper and pencil, juxtaposing the lime green and blue palette against a contrasting grey background.  They are simply extraordinary, capturing the tentative journey of Eddie Frogbert as develops the courage to overcome his fear, by taking a very big leap for a little frog.  

To help you and your class celebrate NSS 2017, I am giving away a copy of each of the two resources I created to support "The Cow Tripped Over the Moon".  Please enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of one of these resources, and let your friends know about it too :)  

You can preview the two resources on TPT - Comprehension Activities and Retelling Puppets.  

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Have a terrific week everyone :)  

Sunday, 2 April 2017

What do you do when you have students who do not celebrate Easter?

It's happened to most of plan wonderful Easter Art and Craft and picture book activities and then you find out that one or more students in your class does not celebrate Easter. What do you do?

There are four books featured in this post that have similar themes and include a hen, a chicken and a rabbit as main characters, and one of the picture books having a possum as the main character.  

Finally, there are two wonderful rhyming texts by Julia Donaldson that could be introduced into the curriculum whilst other students are engaged in Easter activities, and these two books include rabbits as main characters but they do not relate to Easter.

There are many different versions of "Henny Penny" and "Chicken Little".  


In both "Henny Penny", and "Chicken Little", the main characters believe the sky is falling and they set off on a journey to tell the King.  Both characters gather followers along the way and both characters escape the sly plans of a fox.  Both texts are terrific for rhyming words based on animals' names and both main characters realise that the sky wasn't really falling by the end of the book.

These two picture books feature a hen or a chicken as the main characters, but they have nothing to do with Easter. Therefore, to support inclusion, students could still be engaged in any hen/chicken art and craft activities that don't involve Easter eggs or Easter chickens.

I love the concluding statement in "Chicken Little" ~
"They no longer believe everything they are told without thinking for themselves."

"Blossom Possum: The Sky is Falling Down-Under"  by Gina Newton, is set in Australia, and features Australian animals.  It has a similar structure to "Henny Penny" and "Chicken Little". However, this time, we infer that a gum nut must have fallen on Blossom Possum's head and she starts her trek to inform the Prime Minister.  Blossom Possum is terrific for introducing Australian animals, and in this case, it is By-Jingo Dingo who tries to trick the animals into his lair.
All four of these texts lend themselves strongly towards sequencing activities and story maps and when I was re-reading "Blossom Possum", it reminded me of "We're Going on a Bear Hunt", by Michael Rosen, due to its circular structure and repetition. 
Blossom Possum also ended up where she began, with the repetition of the route during the trek:

"She trotted off down the track, round the back of beyond, up the hill and past the black stump, until she bumped into..." and on the way home, the reverse:

This was reversed on the way home.  If children had drawn story maps, they could follow them on the journey back home and rich discussions could occur over some of the Aussie terminology in the picture book e.g. Where is the 'back of beyond'?  Where is 'the black stump'?

"They ran back through the bush, along the creek, over the hill, past the black stump, down another hill, round the back of beyond and up the track until...they were safely home."

"The Terrible Plop", created by Australian author Ursula Dubosarsky and  Australian illustrator, Andrew Joyner also fits into the text set above, with "the sky is falling" theme. This time, however, the imaginary fiend is an apple falling off a tree into the lake, making a terrible "Plop!" This terrifies and sends the other animals into hysteria, except a little rabbit. I'm not going to spoil the ending for you, but it makes another terrific addition to "the sky is falling" text set.
Finally, Julia Donaldson has written some wonderful picture books that are highly engaging and popular with children.  The two picture books pictured below both feature rabbits as main characters, but they are not Easter-related. 

 "The Rhyming Rabbit"   is about a rabbit who is a poet and feels lonely because the other rabbits do not appreciate his poetical talent.  However, one night he meets a fellow poetry enthusiast...  
In "Rabbit's Nap" poor rabbit is trying to have a sleep, but everyone else is too noisy.  Told through rhyme, the story lends itself so well to prediction, as children lift the flaps to find out who is being noisy and keeping rabbit awake.  

Again, both of these stories feature rabbits as the main characters, however, they are not related to Easter.  Therefore, children who do not celebrate or study Easter, are able to participate in any rabbit Art and Craft activities, as long as they do not have modern Easter-related additions (e.g. eggs, baskets of eggs etc.).

I created a resource linking "Blossom Possum - The Sky is Falling Down-Under" by Gina Newton, to the Four Resources Model (Freebody & Luke, 1990) and strategies for close reading.  Click on the red link above or the image below to find out more.

I would love to hear about any other strategies, ideas or resources you use to support those students you have when it is around Easter time and their family has requested that their child does not participate in Easter activities, for any number of reasons.  

Please share your ideas for resources and alternative activities for students who do not participate in Easter in the comments section below.  

I am happy to share a copy of my Blossom Possum resource with those of you who are following my blog and who take the time to do so :)  

Many thanks 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Australian Dinosaurs - with freebies and three giveaways

Hi everyone

When my son was little he just dug dinosaurs in a major way.  Today I am going to review a new picture book published by Magabala Books titled, "Return of the Dinosaurs" by Bronwyn Houston.  

I am also going to link to dinosaur freebies from some of my generous and talented friends in Australia and New Zealand and run a giveaway for a couple of my own dinosaur picture book rhyming game resources and a free copy of the featured picture book for Australian readers.

Quoting from the publisher:
"Return of the Dinosaurs presents an amusing and imaginative look at what life would be like for dinosaurs today if they reappeared at Broome's iconic landmarks."

This newly published picture book will be available in November 2016. It captures images of the many dinosaurs, birds and marine life that roamed the Kimberley coastline (in the far north of Western Australia) more than 130 million years ago.

The author/illustrator of the richly textured layers of artwork is Bronwyn Houston and she is descended from the Nyiyaparli and Yindjibarndi people in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The opening lines are:
"A long time ago, dinosaurs lived around the Kimberley coast and their ancient footprints can still be found.  Imagine if dinosaurs came back to visit Broome!  What would they do?"

What a wonderful invitation for imagination and inquiry!  Dinosaurs that appear in this witty and imaginative story include the: Brachiosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Megalosauropus, Broomensis, Parasaurolophus and Stegosaurus.  It's amazing how many early readers can still pronounce some of these complex dinosaur names and recount many detailed facts!  This picture book would be an interesting read aloud for students in the early years (dinosaur fanatics) or a terrific independent read for other students.

I am going to revisit the picture book and share some of my favourite features:
  • The little additional speech captions from the dinosaurs featured in the stories add humour
  • The picture book introduces key landmarks around Broome and the Kimberley region, for example, Cable Beach and natural phenomena such as the Golden Staircase to the moon
  • Text-to-text connections can be made to "Finding Nemo" with the caption, "Friend or Food"?
  • The end of the picture book features information about Broome dinosaurs with text features including maps and labels
Free teaching notes for this newly published picture book are available to download here.

You can read more about the dinosaur footprints in the far north of Western Australia here and view a clip from Catalyst about the Kimberley dinosaurs here.  There are plenty of other clips if you do a YouTube search.  You can read more about Australian dinosaurs here or here.  

You can read my previous blog post about "I'm a Hungry Dinosaur" and download a freebie here or you can preview my rhyming games resources for this title and also "I'm a Dirty Dinosaur" by clicking on the titles with the red hyperlinks or the images of the resources.  

Both titles are by Janeen Brian and these resources are included in my giveaway at the end of this blog post.
Dinosaur freebies from my generous friends (feel free to share your own links in the comments section).  To download the freebies click on either the hyperlink or the image, but please be kind enough to follow their TPT stores and leave ratings/feedback...good karma :) Unfortunately, the hyperlinks are not changing colour to red, so please either click on the titles below or on the images below to download these resources.

Shape Bingo from Teaching Trove

Addition and Subtraction Mats from Jem's Bright Buttons
If you have any other favourite resources about dinosaurs, please post the links in the comments section below.  

Don't forget to enter the giveaways :)  There are three of them, including winning a free copy of the picture book reviewed in this blog post (for Australian readers) and one of my two dinosaur rhyming words games (open to everyone).  Enter as many times as you like and make sure you scroll through to view all three giveaways :)
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Have a great week everyone and to quote Ellen, "Be kind to each other" x

Monday, 10 October 2016

A new resource for "Sugarplum and the Unicorn" by Julia Donaldson

I just love text sets and I just love Julia Donaldson's picture books, so when I came across "Sugarplum and the Unicorn" I just could not wait to make a reading comprehension resource for it.  You can preview that resource by clicking on the red hyperlink under the title, or here.

Below is a set of texts that would work well together as companion texts.  My reading comprehension resource for "Thelma the Unicorn" by Aaron Blabey has been really popular and one of my best sellers.  You can preview it here.  

All three picture books have similar themes of wishing to be something more than you are. 

You can view a book trailer for "Thelma the Unicorn" here.  You can view the author, Aaron Blabey reading the book aloud here.  He is one of my favourite Australian picture book authors :)

This is an overview of my reading comprehension resource for "Thelma the Unicorn".
Other titles that might work well in this text set include:
"Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great" by Bob Shea

"Bob is a Unicorn"

"Uni the Unicorn" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (song based on the book

These picture books are terrific for helping children realise the importance of accepting yourself as you are, which is an important life skill.

Teacher reference:

"I Believe in Unicorns: Classroom Experiences for Activating Creative Thinking" by Bob Stanish.  Has anyone used this book to support creative and critical thinking?

Can you think of any other picture books that would fit into this text set?  If so, please share in the comments.

Have a great week everyone...

Monday, 5 September 2016

"Budburra's Garden", "I'm a Hungry Dinosaur" and a freebie

Recently I blogged about picture books that have been recently published that feature food. You can read that blog post here.  I will post a section of my review of "Budburra's Garden" for those who missed the previous post:

What's terrific about this picture book is that it introduces children to different nutritious foods (fruit and vegetables) according to their colours.  It is also terrific to use as a mentor text to reinforce learning about adjectives.  It introduces students to traditional fruits and vegetables, but also traditional Australian Indigenous foods.  The picture book includes information about the bush tucker found in "Budburra's Garden" at the back of the book and recipes to "Colour Yourself Healthy".  I really think this is a powerful picture book with potential to be used on many levels.

I created a FREE resource to support this picture book.  You can download it by clicking on any of the images about "Budburra's Garden" in this blog post.

Another terrific title that would fit in with this text set is "I'm a Hungry Dinosaur" by Janeen Brian. It was a Notable picture book in the 2016 Children's Book Council  of Australia (CBCA) Children's Book Week Awards.

You can check out my resource to support this picture book by clicking on the image above or here.
Have a terrific week everyone :)

Sunday, 4 September 2016


I am so pleased to welcome by Sarah Zunker (Prep Teacher in Sunny Queensland) as my guest blogger this week.  Sarah is a member of the Australian Prep Teachers' FaceBook group and after I read her post on FaceBook, I invited her to share further via my blog as I was so impressed with the work she has been doing with her Prep class (5 year olds) and directed drawing.

The Magic Hat…The Magic Hat… It moved like this… It moved like that!

When I opened my classroom curriculum box I was excited to see the Mem Fox classic ‘The Magic Hat’.  I knew I didn’t want to do the typical paper hat activity to accompany our Literacy lessons so I set to work thinking of how I could challenge my Preppies to create some quality art.

I decided on a directed drawing lesson using pen and paint.  I promise that if you give this lesson a go, you will be amazed with the results and be so proud of your clever, little artists. 

After you’ve read the book have a discussion around proportion.  The wizard is giant size and the town looks really small in comparison. 
When you plan out your artwork think about the amount of space the wizard will take up and trace that space with your finger.  Now think about where the hill is going to go. Use your finger to trace a line where the hill will be.

Now we’re ready to start the drawing process. We start at his feet and work our way up to his hat. Follow the order below, stopping to check that everyone is ready before you start the next step.
1.       Draw the hill.
2.       Draw his shoes then his legs.
3.       Draw the bottom of his gown.
4.       Draw the sides of his gown up to his armpits.
5.       Now it gets a bit tricky… Draw his head and beard.
6.       Ok time to join up his head and body.  Draw his arms, hands and wand.
7.       Add his hat and some magic coming out of his hands.
8.       Draw a couple of tiny trees on the hill.

Ok we’re ready for the painting process.
1. Dot-paint his gown in a rainbow of colours.  Use a dabbing or stamping technique for this.
2. Paint red and yellow stripes on his socks.
3. Paint his hat red and the wand yellow.  Don’t forget to paint the magic coming out of the wand and his hands.

Finish with a green paint wash for the hill.  
Here’s how to make a paint wash…
1. Put about a teaspoon of regular paint into a paint cup
2. Add about 3/4 cup water
3. Mix really well with a thick paint brush 

*Do a little test sheet and if the paint is not transparent enough just add more water and mix again.

The finishing touch is  to mount the artwork onto card to create a border.  Go ahead and give it a go… I promise they will amaze you with the results!
PAINT (red, green, yellow, blue, pink, orange)
THICK BIG PAINT BRUSH (for paint wash)

You can use the same technique and resources to create a Vase of Flowers artwork that is sure to impress!  All of the children followed the same directions, yet every artwork is so unique.  See the images left and below:

Thanks so much Sarah - your students should be so proud of their wonderful art work :)

I will be emailing you a couple of resources from my TPT store that are based around "The Magic Hat" as a thank you :)   The Magic Hat rhyming words games and Hat Snap

Have a terrific week everyone :)