Category Archives: Uncategorized

Coming Soon: The Little Dinosaur by Catriona Hoy and Andrew Plant

Just a sneak peek at my latest book.

The Little Dinosaur will be released in June 2012…and of course there are lots of links with primary science and in fact secondary science. .

In a time before australia existed, a little dinosaur roamed the Antarctic forests. Time passed and the world changed, but the discovery of the little dinosaur’s leg bone millions of years later means she is not forgotten.

A picture book about Australian polar dinosaurs which will delight and inspire dinosaur lovers of all ages.

Details of the launch will be available via my facebook page.

Hope to see some of you there.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Review: Platypus Deep by Jill Morris and Heather Gall

Platypus Deep is the story of Orni the platypus and his search for a new place to build a den when his old home is destroyed by a savage storm.Author and conservationist Jill Morris likes to make plays on words with the names of her characters. The scientific name for a platypus is Ornithorhynchus Anatinus and upstream from Orni lives Anatina, feeding her babies; while downstream lives the old and fierce platypus, Rhyncus. A good way to introduce your students to the idea of scientific names and that they are important because there can be so many common names for the same thing.

Morris gives us a clear sense of the habitat of the platypus in her opening pages; In the ‘secret pool on a quiet creek,’ we meet sandpaper figs, fig parrots, butterflies, frogs, echidnas and yabby’s, which all share the pool with Orni. We learn what Orni eats and also the food web relationships between the other inhabitants of this little ecosystem. Later a dingo visits the pool and we get a sense that there are predators even further up the food chain.

Morris also shows us some of the adaptations and characteristics of the platypus and other animals. Anatina feeds her babies upstream, clearly mammalian, the snake soaks up the sun for warmth, and Orni and Rhyncus battle with their posion spurs as they compete for the pool downstream.

There is also a sense of changing landcape here, which fits in with the Earth and Space Sciences stream. There is the rapid change due to the storm, geological changes over long periods of time and the changes caused by the impact of humans and pollution. Morris sends a clear message here and her inner back cover states that ‘in 2005 the people of Maleny protested unsuccessfully against the building of a supermarket on the bak of Obi Obi Creek, the habitat of a large colony of platypuses. Illustrator Heather Gall lives near Maleny in Queensland.

Morris doesn’t let the science get in the way of the story-line and so it’s an enjoyable read on it’s own merits. It’s also a book that could be used on a number of different levels, even with older children as an exercise in drawing food webs.It’s particularly relevant at level 4, looking at interactions between organisms. Local and authentic content makes the exercise much more worthwhile.

Jill Morris has produced a number of books with conservation themes through her Greater Glider publishing. A review of her book ‘Green Air’ on this blog can be found here. You may also like to read a review at Aussie Reviews.

NATIONAL CURRICULUM LINKS (as from ACARA)

Biological sciences (Foundation)

Living things have basic needs, including food and water

  • recognising the needs of living things in a range of situations such as pets at home, plants in the garden or plants and animals in bushland

Biological sciences (Year 1)

Living things have a variety of external features

  • recognising common features of animals such as head, legs and wings
  • describing the use of animal body parts for particular purposes such as moving and feeding

Living things live in different places where their needs are met

  • exploring different habitats in the local environment such as the beach, bush and backyard
  • recognising that different living things live in different places such as land and water

Biological sciences (Year 2)

Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves

  • representing personal growth and changes from birth
  • recognising that living things have predictable characteristics at different stages of development
  • exploring different characteristics of life stages in animals such as egg, caterpillar and butterfly
  • observing that all animals have offspring, usually with two parents

Biological sciences (Year 4)

Living things have life cycles

  • making and recording observations of living things as they develop through their life cycles
  • describing the stages of life cycles of different living things such as insects, birds, frogs and flowering plants

Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive.

  • investigating the roles of living things in a habitat, for instance producers, consumers or decomposers
  • observing and describing predator-prey relationships
  • predicting the effects when living things in feeding relationships are removed or die out in an area
  • recognising that interactions between living things may be competitive or mutually beneficial.

Biological sciences (Year 5)

Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment. 

  • describing and listing adaptations of living things suited for the Australian environment
  • exploring general adaptations for particular environments such as water conservation in deserts
  • explaining how particular adaptations help survival such as nocturnal behaviour, silvery coloured leaves of dune plants
  • comparing types of adaptations such as behavioural and structural

Earth and Space Sciences (Foundation)

Daily and seasonal changes in our environment, including the weather, affect everyday life.

  • investigating how changes in the weather might affect animals such as pets, animals that hibernate, or migratory animals

Earth and Space Sciences (Year 1)

Observable changes occur in the sky and the landscape.

  • exploring the local environment to identify and describe natural, managed and constructed features
  • recording short and longer term patterns of events that occur on Earth and in the sky, such as the appearance of the moon and stars at night, the weather and the seasons

Earth and Space Sciences (Year 4)

Earth’s surface changes over time as a result of natural processes and human activity .

  • collecting evidence of change from local landforms, rocks or fossils
  • considering how different human activities cause erosion of the Earth’s surface
  • considering the effect of events such as floods and extreme weather on the landscape, both in Australia and in the Asia region

Author:     Jill Morris

Illustrator: Heather Gall

Greater Glider, 2006

ISBN 9780947304744

7 Comments

Filed under Biological Sciences Sub-strand, Foundation, Foundation, Level 1, Level 1, Level 2, Level 3, Level 4, Level 4, Level 5, Uncategorized

Publishers take note!

Oh well, if I can’t brag on my own blog, where can I??? Mad Bad Uncle David is a sensational picture book for children…just waiting to find a home!

Thankyou to Tania McCartney and everyone at Kids Book Review. A fantastic site for those who love children’s books.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Review: Kangaroo Footprints by Margaret Warner.

Margaret Warner first became involved in wildlife rescue 18 years ago and over that time has cared for around 40 kangaroos and wallabies. Before writing for children she worked full time as a primary teacher and has also taught literacy to both adults and children. Warner  has written a number of educational texts which show her interest in the environment and wildlife.

In Kangaroo Footprints, Warner has combined her experience as a teacher, wildlife carer and children’s author to produce a useful resource for teachers. Each double page spread contains an information page about kangaroos and an activity/puzzle sheet; perfect for linking literacy and science. The pages are all black-line masters, so also great for those times when you just need a rainy day activity. The book contains facts about the different kinds of macropods, kangaroo behaviour…even some facts about the real ‘Skippy.’ There are interesting references to news articles about kangaroos, linking them to fact. A story about a surfer who saves a kangaroo swept out to sea, is linked to information abou the fact that kangaroos and wallabies can swim but in floods they often drown.

It’s well-priced at $20, considering it can be used again and again. However at that price it’s also within the range of parents who are looking for something more interesting than the average puzzle book and want to give kids a break from the electronic games on a long car journey.

Warner says about her work, ‘When animals are in care it’s a 24/7 responsibility. It’s challenging but immensely rewarding especially knowing that you have helped native animals with a second chance at life. My aim with Kangaroo Footprints is to educate about our unique wildlife in an enjoyable and fun way. It is a children’s book but already many adults have said that they enjoyed learning about kangaroos too. ‘

Warner is marketing this book herself on her website at www.kangaroofootprints.com.au Price includes postage.

 

National Curriculum Links:

Biological sciences (Year 2)

Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves

  • representing personal growth and changes from birth
  • recognising that living things have predictable characteristics at different stages of development
  • exploring different characteristics of life stages in animals such as egg, caterpillar and butterfly
  • observing that all animals have offspring, usually with two parents

Biological sciences (Year 4)

Living things have life cycles

  • making and recording observations of living things as they develop through their life cycles
  • describing the stages of life cycles of different living things such as insects, birds, frogs and flowering plants

Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive.

  • investigating the roles of living things in a habitat, for instance producers, consumers or decomposers
  • observing and describing predator-prey relationships
  • predicting the effects when living things in feeding relationships are removed or die out in an area
  • recognising that interactions between living things may be competitive or mutually beneficial.

Biological sciences (Year 5)

Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment. 

  • describing and listing adaptations of living things suited for the Australian environment
  • exploring general adaptations for particular environments such as water conservation in deserts
  • explaining how particular adaptations help survival such as nocturnal behaviour, silvery coloured leaves of dune plants
  • comparing types of adaptations such as behavioural and structural

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Review: Warambi by Aleesah Darlison and Andrew Plant

Warambi isthe story of a bent-wing bat, found along the coast of north-eastern NSW and in easter QLD.  Separated from her colony as a bulldozer rips through her cosy cave, Warambi dodges night- time predators to find a new and unusual home. This simple narrative incorporates information on the life-cycle of the little bat from being blind and hairless and ‘no bigger than a bean,’ until she is ready to hunt, using echo-location. It is good to see that Darlinson has resisted the temptation to attribute thoughts to Warambi, although she does experience terror and loneliness as her habitat is destroyed.  Andrew Plant’s illustrations are superb.With a background in zoology , his depictions of animals are always anotomically correct but he is also able to establish an emotional link with the reader. I love his landscapes and the way he uses colour to highlight the action.

Similar in format to other books by the same publisher, this book contains lots of facts about bent-wing bats in the endpapers. Plenty of opportunities  here in early year classrooms to discuss adaptations, habitat and life cyles; also with older classes as an introduction to loss of habitat through human impact.

Teacher’s notes and some ideas for activities can be found at the Working Title website. These give some information on the author and illustrator and discuss some of the uses of language to set scence and tone. There are some suggested follow up activities using the factual information provided in the endpapers. If you visit Darlinson’s website, there is also a link to a book trailer.

National Curriculum applications:

Biological sciences (Foundation)

Living things have basic needs, including food and water

  • recognising the needs of living things in a range of situations such as pets at home, plants in the garden or plants and animals in bushland

Biological sciences (Year 1)

Living things have a variety of external features

  • recognising common features of animals such as head, legs and wings
  • describing the use of animal body parts for particular purposes such as moving and feeding

Living things live in different places where their needs are met

  • exploring different habitats in the local environment such as the beach, bush and backyard
  • recognising that different living things live in different places such as land and water

Biological sciences (Year 2)

Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves

  • representing personal growth and changes from birth
  • recognising that living things have predictable characteristics at different stages of development
  • exploring different characteristics of life stages in animals such as egg, caterpillar and butterfly
  • observing that all animals have offspring, usually with two parents

Biological sciences (Year 4)

Living things have life cycles

  • making and recording observations of living things as they develop through their life cycles
  • describing the stages of life cycles of different living things such as insects, birds, frogs and flowering plants

Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive.

  • investigating the roles of living things in a habitat, for instance producers, consumers or decomposers
  • observing and describing predator-prey relationships
  • predicting the effects when living things in feeding relationships are removed or die out in an area
  • recognising that interactions between living things may be competitive or mutually beneficial.

Biological sciences (Year 5)

Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment. 

  • describing and listing adaptations of living things suited for the Australian environment
  • exploring general adaptations for particular environments such as water conservation in deserts
  • explaining how particular adaptations help survival such as nocturnal behaviour, silvery coloured leaves of dune plants
  • comparing types of adaptations such as behavioural and structural

Author: Aleesah Darlinson

Illustrator: Andrew Plant

Working Title Press, 2011

ISBN 9781921504280

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Review: Isabella’s Garden by Glenda Millard and Rebecca Cool.

I met Glenda Millard some time ago, at a writers event at Stoneman’s Bookroom in Castlemaine ( a lovely bookshop by the way.) Glenda had us all in stitches as she told tales about how she grew up in the country and her journey to becoming a writer. Glenda was a great storyteller in every sense of the word and I looked forward to reading more of her work.

Isabella’s garden is set to the rythm of The House That Jack Built. It begins with seeds ‘that sleep in the soil all dark and deep,’ and continues through the plant life cycle….but in such a beautiful way. The clouds ‘cry the rain,’ the sun ‘kisses the clouds,’. The shoots grow and as the season progresses flowers ‘waltz with the wind,’ chicks hatch and birds sing. As the seasons change, the leaves turn crimson and gold and then to winter, where Jack Frost ‘encrusts the garden with glisten and glimmer.’ There are some books that just beg to be read aloud and this one does. It’s not hard to see why it one the speech pathology book of the year award.

Rebecca Cool’s illustrations are vibrant and each page has a sense of movement, with a breeze seeming to blow from page to page. She uses a mixture of acryllic paints and collage. I’m cheating here and have looked on the Walker books website (I’m not arty you see!) I was looking for the right words to describe the illustrations and there it was ‘reminiscent of European folk art.’ On a simple emotional level, they made me feel happy.

I can see this linking in well with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and I’m sure that the schools involved in this program are already familiar with this story. For those not familiar with the program, I suggest you take a look. I had a great afternoon at East Bentleigh Primary School last year, when I visited the school to write an article on their free range chickens. The children took me on a tour of their garden and showed me the weeks menu and the tasty treats they were cooking, based on the produce they had grown.

Seed germination, seasonal change, growth and life cycles are the science themes involved in this book, with lots of opportunity for cross-curriular literacy and art activities.

Walker haven’t produced classroom notes for Isabella’s Garden but you can find out more about the story behind the book on their website here. You’ll also find a  colouring sheet to download. You could perhaps try a little collage too.

Doing a quick hunt around on-line, I also found this link to  a jigsaw puzzle, an on-line plant part labelling exercise and matching exercises about seasons. It’s part of a website by Irene Buckley, who has produced resources relating to literacy for a number of books.

You might like to read a much more sophisticated review than mine at the Book Chook…where you’ll also find links to some activites involving germination of seeds and gardening activities.

Below are links to the National Curriculum, where it fits nicely into both the Biological Science and Earth Space Science sub-strands in the early years and also the Science Inquiry Skills strand.

Biological sciences (Foundation)

  1. Living things have basic needs, including food and water (ACSSU002)

Biological sciences (Year 1)

  1. Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017)
  2. Living things live in different places where their

Biological sciences (Year 2)

  1. Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)

Earth and Space sciences (Foundation)

  1. Daily and seasonal changes in our environment, including the weather, affect everyday life (ACSSU004)

Earth and Space sciences (Year 1)

  1. Observable changes occur in the sky and landscape

You can also tick off the science inquiry strand, with experiments

Questioning and predicting
Planning and conducting
Processing and analysing data and information
Evaluating

Isabella’s Garden

Author: Glenda Millard

Illustrator: Rebecca Cool

Walker Books, 2010

ISBN 9781921150333

Awards

2010: CBCA Awards

Book of the Year – Picture Book Short List 2010 – Shortlist – Honour Book

2010: Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards

Children’s Book Mary Ryan’s Award – Shortlist

2010: Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards

Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2010 Best Book for Language Development: Lower Primary 5-8 years – Winner

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Review: ‘Bilby Secrets’ by Edel Wignell and Mark Jackson

Today I’m reviewing somewhat of a cross-over book. It looks like a picture-book…and of course is..but it’s a non-fiction book which is part of Walker Books’ Nature Storybooks series.

Bilby Secrets, written by Edel Wignell and illustrated by Mark Jackson, is the story of the Greater Bilby. It is told in narrative style, with supporting factual text on the same page. The factual information is presented in a different font to distinguish it from the story-line itself. Make sure if you’re reading it aloud, you stick to the non-italicised text!

This is a simple, linear narrative as Baby bilby progresses from birth in the burrow to being able forage on his own.

Set in the Pilbara, the deep  blues of the night sky and the iron-oxide reds of the sand and rocks create a mysterious and sometimes dangerous night-time world.There are grubs and insects, owls and snake, lizards and cockatoos…great for a game of spotting the species! A hungry fox also threatens the bilby’s survival. What I like about this story as a science teacher, is that there is no anthropomorphism…baby bilby doesn’t have a name and he doesn’t have human-like thoughts. It’s a straight up tale of survival, competiton and habitat.

Walker Books are doing a great job of preparing curriculum ideas for teachers. They are comprehensive, providing not only background information on the author, illustrator and the subject matter but also useful activities which you can put straight into practice. You can download classroom ideas here.

There are a range of activities to suit a variety of ages…from more challenging research activities looking at the impact of settlement and introduced species on habitat and survival , to ideas about creating a diorama to show the bilby’s habitat. The notes also examinge the way in which bilbies live underground, thier physical characteristics and there are some links to bilby conservation sites for those seeking extension actities. Lots of cross-curriculum activities, including some language activites discussing the contrast between the descriptive/storytelling style of the narrative and the informative/ factual style of the supporting text. Also available for download from the Walker Books site  is a stencil for younger readers to make there own bilby ears and a song to be sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda.

As per previous reviews, this book fits nicely into a number of categories in the new National Curriculum

Applications…..

Biological sciences (Foundation)

  1. Living things have basic needs, including food and water (ACSSU002)

Biological sciences (Year 1)

  1. Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017)
  2. Living things live in different places where their

Biological sciences (Year 2)

  1. Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)

Biological sciences (Year 3)

  1. Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (ACSSU044)

Biological sciences (Year4)

  1. Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072)Critical and creative thinking
  2. Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)

Extracted from:

http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/Science/Curriculum/F-10

Bilby Secrets

Author: Edel Wignell

Illustrator: Mark Jackson

Walker Books, 2011

ISBN 9781921529320

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized