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 :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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 :)

Saturday, 27 August 2016

"The Cow Tripped Over the Moon" and a giveaway

I am loving this new picture book “The Cow Tripped Over the Moon” by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood which has been awarded an Honours winner of the  Children’s BookCouncil of Australia 2016 Book of the Year (Early Childhood) Award.

This picture book is so entertaining and is an innovation on the traditional nursery rhyme, "The Cow Jumped Over the Moon."

I have created a new resource to support this picture story book.  You can preview it by clicking on this link or the image below.

This is an overview of just some of the 48 pages included in my reading comprehension resource.  You can click on the image below to learn more or by clicking here:

This picture book is hilarious and shares the various attempts the cow makes to jump over the moon.  I have included my favourite 4H reading strategy and graphic organisers.  The resource also includes 4 rhyming words games.  The picture book also has amazing potential for teaching about time and the sequence of digital times (with the matching analogue times).

If you have been following my blog for some time you know I love giveaways, so I will be giving away a free copy of my new resource to one of my blog followers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Smart About Sharks and a Giveaway

A newly published non-fiction children's book arrived today, "Smart About Sharks" written and illustrated by Owen Davey and published by Flying Eye Books.

You can view a preview of this new title at the author's website here.

I must admit, when it first arrived from the publisher, I didn't think this would be a title I would be interested in, but it is fascinating and I could not put it down.  I have learnt so much!!!

This is an excellent text for modelling informational text features including: Contents Page, Index, diagrams, captions, flowcharts and labels.

I really love the play on words with some of the titles of the various sections, for example: "All Fins Considered", "Eat, Prey, Hunt", "A Bite to Eat", "Making a Meal of Things" and so forth.  As an adult reader, this kept me amused and lightened the "mood" of an informational text.

Did you know?

  • Sharks are fish that don't have any bones.
  • Sharks are found in nearly every ocean on the planet.
  • Sharks are more than 200 million years older than dinosaurs.
  • Shark's nostrils are known as nares.
  • Some shark species are as tiny as a pencil.
  • The shortfin mako shark is the fastest shark in the ocean.
  • The epaulette shark can walk out of water and hold its breath 60 times longer than a human.
  • Some shark species can have over 100 pups in a litter.
  • Some sharks give birth to live young, some lay eggs and some carry eggs within the mother's body.
The author also includes suggestions for protecting the environment and our marine life at the end of the book.  

"Smart About Sharks" would make an excellent companion text for other shark titles.  You can see my previous blog post about two recently published picture story books about sharks and resources to support them here.  You can also preview the resources here.

All of these titles would be super if you participate in Shark Week activities.

To celebrate the release of this newly published informational text, I will be giving away the complimentary copy that was sent to me by Walker Books.  Please complete the Rafflecopter entries below for your chance to win.  

(Open to Australian residents only due to postage costs).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I have just received notification of a blog post from The Picture Book Review which features another shark title that you may be interested in.  Click on the link here to read the blog post.

Have a terrific week :)

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Food Fabulous Food - Picture books about food - newly published titles and some older favourites

It is with great excitement that I share with you some newly published picture books that feature food and good nutrition and would make excellent companion texts for titles like The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  For those of you who know me well, you know I have a little addiction to picture books and need to emphasise that picture books can be used across all year levels, not just in the early years.

You can read my previous blog posts about Monster Chef here and here.

This Hungry Dragon is a newly published picture book from Scholastic.  This new title would be an excellent companion text to the There was an old lady who swallowed a...and the There was an old man who swallowed a...series.  The hungry dragon eats and eats until he is as big as a house and explodes.  This is a wonderful rhyming text and is also fabulous as a mentor text for teaching adjectives.

You can preview the resource I made for this picture book here which includes rhyming words games based on the book and vocabulary activities.

Budburra's Garden is a lovely picture book written by the children at Cherbourg State School.   A summary of the storyline from the website states:  

Join Sammy on a journey through Budburra’s garden, eating yummy foods and learning the colours on the way!

Budburra’s Garden introduces children (3-5 years) to the healthy eating concept of “eating a rainbow everyday” using colours and foods.
The book is artwork driven and very interactive, utilising repetition, descriptive words, visual clues and a back section including discussion points, fun recipes and bush tucker information.

I love the fact that this picture book was published in Cherbourg as I have a bit of a penchant for supporting the work of our Australian Indigenous picture book authors and illustrators, regardless of their age.

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 also 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 love Amy Krouse Rosenthal's previous titles Spoon and Chopsticks which are terrific companion texts to use with Spork by Kyo Maclear.  You can read my previous blog post about these titles here.  I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal's picture books as they take a real twist from different perspectives, so they are just terrific for critical literacy.  The blurb for Little Pea states:

If Little Pea doesn't eat all of his sweets, there will be no vegetables for dessert! What's a young pea to do? Children who have trouble swallowing their veggies will love the way this pea-size picture book serves up a playful story they can relate to.

Oliver's Vegetables and Oliver's Fruit Salad are lovely picture books that join this text set of companion texts of picture books that have similar themes and can be used together to consolidate learning.  Oliver's Vegetables is a terrific companion text for The Very Hungry Caterpillar as it also reinforces learning the order of the days of the week.  Read more on the author Vivian French's website here.  I must say I love growing my own veggies so this picture book really appealed to me and it is terrific for encouraging kids to try different nutritious foods.
Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas is another hilarious rhyming text by Aaron Babley.  You can preview my rhyming words games resource to support this picture book here or by clicking on the image of the resource. You can view other resources I have made to support Aaron Babley's picture books here.  

My resource for Thelma the Unicorn has been particularly popular, probably because the picture book has such an important storyline about self-acceptance and self-belief.  You can read about the awards this picture book has won here.

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas has been shortlisted for the 2016 Australian Children's Book Week Awards!!

Together the picture books reviewed in this post would form the basis of a fabulous unit of work about food and to encourage healthy nutrition choices.

Watch this space as my next blog post will include a freebie for Budburra's Garden.

A big shout out and thank you for those of you who leave a comment on my blog posts, who follow my blog and who share my blog posts with their networks.  It is very much appreciated.