Tag Archives: environmental education

Review: Journey of the Sea Turtle by Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is an artist/illustrator/author and passionate conservationist. He has written and illustrated a number of books for children with strong environmental themes. In ‘Journey ofthe Sea Turtle,’ he tells the story of a loggerhead turtle, from birth to migration and back to the beach where she was born. When she returns, she finds that there is nowhere to lay her eggs. She becomes tangled in netting and struggles to survive. Finally the sight of shadow birds in the sky lead her to a new beach.

The story deals with loss and degradation of habitat and the threats posed to turtles from human activities. In his teacher’s notes, Wilson is keen to point out the significance of turtles as a keystone species and their  importance in the marine food chain. You can contact Mark for copies of his teacher’s notes.

The book also delves into the life cycles of the turtles and the predator/prey relationship with the ‘shadow birds,’ sea birds which prey upon the young turtle hatchlings as they emerge from their nests and head for the ocean. The turtle knows that it is time to lay her eggs by the temperature of the sea. At the end of his book, Wilson highlights the point that ‘it is estimated that only one in a thousand baby loggerhead turtles form one nesting beach near Bundaberg in Queensland will survive life at sea, to return in thirty years as a nesting adult.’

I love the structure and colour of the illustrations in this book. On some pages, the texture of the canvas for the paintings clearly shows through.  On others there is a mixture of pencil sketches and colour. I like the way Wilson has shown the passage of time with the pages illustrating the hatchlings development from eggs. The blues, yellows and greens blend to make the ocean seem as if it will spill out of the page.

Although the text is simple and able to be understood by the very young, there are also more complex issues here which could lead to further work on habitat, lifecycles, food chains and the requirements of living things.

Interested in finding out more about sea turtles?

Turtle Care : Sunshine Coast

turtle foundation

For some art ideas about the book, check out what this school has done.

 

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/Illustrator:     Mark Wilson

Lothian Books, 2009

ISBN 9780734410597

Journey of a Sea Turtle is availabe through educational suppliers Lamont and all book stores. Lamont may have copies of teacher’s notes available.

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

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

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

Review: Crocodile River by Diana Lawrenson and Danny Snell

Life’s tough for a saltwater crocodile, in the early days at least. As a hatchling, Cranky the salty has to watch out for hungry turtles and sea eagles while herself snapping up insects and tadpoles.  As she grows, her diet successively changes from little fish and prawns, to larger fish, frogs and fruit bats. Bigger still, she waits for wild piglets but has to escape from an even larger crocodile.

Lawrenson has carefully woven much information about saltwater crocodiles into her tale of Cranky’s search for a place of her own. We are shown that crocodiles are part of the natural order of things, rather than something to be feared.  As a youngster, she is just as vulnerable to human predation as we are to her when she is bigger and stronger. The end papers of the book contain fact about the crocodile’s  life cycle, habitat and adaptations. My only gripe with this book as a science teacher is the tendency to attribute words and thoughts to Cranky, who really wouldn’t be using language. I’d be interested in hearing the views of others on this.

The predator/prey relationship here is really strong and it would work well as an introduction to food webs. In terms of life cycles, we see Cranky progress from one of many eggs, through the vulnerable hatchling stage till she is finally an adult. It could be used in the early years as an introduction, or in later years as a practical exercise in food chain/web mapping. Cranky goes full cycle, from being prey to predator. It’s great to have Australian texts to work with rather than outdated or overseas texts. Crocodile River is equally applicable to any discussion on habitat or adatations.

Teacher’s notes can be accessed through either Lawrenson’s website or via the publisher, Working Title Press.

Notable Book, Children’s Book Council of Australia
Whitley Award, Royal Zoological Society of NSW

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: Diana Lawrenson

Illustrator: Danny Snell

Working Title Press, 209

ISBN 9781876288921

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

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

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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

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Review: ‘Green Air’ Jill Morris and Lindsay Muir, Greater Glider

When I first began compiling this list of resources for teachers, I surveyed writing colleagues who were also primary teachers to see what their favourite books were. Again and again, the same books and name kept popping up…Jill Morris.  A great testament from her peers.

Jill Morris founded Greater Glider publishing in Melbourne in 1983. She began her writing journey creating scripts for TV, radio and theatre, later branching out into writing for children. Jill creates books for both the Curriculum Corporation and Greater Glider.  Her books have strong environmental theme and are Australian classics. Jill now lives at the Book Farm in Queensland, where she hosts school visits and writing workshops.

When I first contacted Jill, she generously sent down a number of her titles and as I opened the package I knew I was in for a treat.  There is a real sense of quality in the presentation of these Great Glider publications.

Green Air is one of Jill’s older books…I’ll be reviewing some of Jill’s other titles at a later date.

Green Air is the story of Silus the frog, who lives in a lush tropical forest. This book is very visually appealing…with rich browns and greens which simply drip with moisture. The effect is produced by the unusual illustration process using 3D clay sculptures immersed in water. Green Air was written by Jill to suit the medium of illustrator Lindsay Muir, a clay sculptor who runs workshops in making frogs and their habitats out of clay.

We first meet Silus as he swims to the surface to catch his first dragonfly. Using the words ‘piccabeen palms’ and ‘booyong trees’ firmly locates this book in the sub-tropics. It made me want to quickly google what they looked like and I’m sure it’s the sort of thing that your students would love to do too.

Silus meets other creatures in his habitat; the names of which are shortened versions of their scientific names.  Chloris the red-eyed tree frog is Littoria chloris; Phyllurus the leaf-tailed gecko is Phyllurus cornutus and Dendre the tree snake is Dendrelaphis punctulata. In fact, Silus himself is Rheobatrachus silus, the Southern Gastric Brooding Frog. This could lead to a discussion on how species are named , between scientific names and common names and why scientific nomenclature is used.

The really fascinating part of course is the mating/breeding process! Silus fertilises the eggs but the female swallows them. They grow in her stomach and eventually she regurgitates them. ‘Green Air’ itself refers to the forest around Silus’ pool, to which he returns after being swept downstream to the ‘Yellow Air,’ where rotting and decomposition is occurring.

Such a lot of science in such a little book. The last page give us some sad background. ‘The Gastric-Brooding Frog was discovered in the Conondale and Blackall Ranges of southeastern Queensland, Austlaia in 1974. By 1981 it had disappeared.’

This story fits neatly into the biologicalsciences sub-strand of the National Curriculum, as it addresses areas such as habitat, how animals get their food, adaptations…Chloris can climb but Silus can’t. It would lead into interesting discussions at the year 4 level, which looks at how species have offspring.

It’s a great educational resource… but above all it’s a great read and is a story that can be read alone or shared with parents too.

Green Air:

Selected for Choice Magazine & Wilderness Society, 1996
Short listed Crichton Award, 1997
CBC Notable Book, 1997

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 have life cycles (ACSSU072)
  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

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