My Little Story Corner

For the love of picture books


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Teddy Took the Train: Teaching Notes

9781760112134 Teddy Took the Train, Nicki Greenberg, Allen and Unwin, 2015.

Review.

Teddy Took the Train is a suspenseful and heartwarming story of a brave little girl who waits in anticipation for her teddy to return home after accidentally losing him on the train. Dot is eager to show Teddy the sights and sounds of the city passing on by their window seat inside the train. But with all the hustle and bustle, Dot and her Mum hurriedly depart the train, soon to realise that the train has taken Teddy… “No, Teddy took the train!”As best as she can cope with the grief of his sudden departure from her life, Dot reassures herself that Teddy’s train trip had been preconceived and he will make his way back to her in good time. His picnic at Bear Bend, his crowd surfing at Flinders Street, his river ride, and worldly adventures were all part of his plan. And when doubt and worries creep in, she handles these thoughts with maturity and optimism. But will Dot’s little world-travelling companion make it home in time for bed?

Nicki Greenberg’s text paces rhythmically and steadily, effectively engaging its young readers as they journey around town with this adventurous toy. I love how she builds emotion and encourages interaction with some bold sound words, repetition of what’s taking Teddy and the incorporation of questions. Nicki’s illustrations are equally animated and intriguing with their mixed media acrylics, scanned textures and collage techniques that keep your eye roving throughout every page.

A delightfully imaginative story about dealing with missing toys in a courageous and resilient way. It is perfect for preschoolers, and those who especially understand this situation all too well.

Short listed in the 2015 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards.

Available for purchase here.

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Discussion.

Before Reading:
Ask, have you ever been on a train? What did you see, hear, smell inside and outside? Where / which way do you like to sit?
Look at the cover. What do you see? Where do you think Teddy might be going? Why do you think he’s taking a trip on the train?

During Reading:
Do you think Teddy likes being crowded on the train? How do you think Dot lost Teddy? Do you think Dot is worried about Teddy? How do you know? Do you think Teddy is worried about Dot? Why or why not? Do you think Teddy will make it back home? Why or why not?

After Reading:
Do you think Teddy really did all those things? Why does Dot tell her other toys about Teddy’s adventures? How do you think Dot felt when she thought Teddy was taking a long time to come home? What words can you use to describe Dot? Teddy?
Have you ever lost a favourite toy? How did it make you feel? What thoughts did you tell yourself to make you feel better?
Were there things you noticed about the different people in the book? Were there things you noticed about objects or textures in the pictures?

Thinking Activity.

Dot and Teddy Venn Diagram.
Create a Venn Diagram showing the similarities and differences between Dot and Teddy. Think about their appearances, character traits and actions. Eg. Dot has blond, curly hair / Teddy has short, brown hair. Dot had a picnic with her toys / Teddy had a picnic with his bear friends. Draw the ideas and label your pictures.

Literacy.

Recount Writing.
Write about a time when you lost, or misplaced, something you were fond of. What did you do? How did you feel? Did you find it in the end? If not, how did you overcome the problem? Illustrate with your favourite part of the story.
Creative Writing.
Imagine one of your toys took an adventure. Where would they go? How would they get there? What obstacles did they have to overcome? Did they come back to the original destination?
Writing Lists.
Write a list of places you would like to visit, real or imaginary.
Vocabulary / Grammar.
Write a list of adjectives to describe Dot. Write another list to describe Teddy. Include appearance, character traits, actions. Also see Thinking Activity (Venn Diagram).
 Comprehension.
Complete the sentence: ‘The ____ took ____! No, _____ took the ____!’ Illustrate.
Phonics.
Tt is for Teddy. Make a list of words beginning with ‘Tt’. Draw/make a train and write each word in the carriages.
Teddy took the train word train
Reading
Read other books by Nicki Greenberg. Compare and contrast similarities and differences between writing style and illustrations.
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Numeracy.

Space / Location.
Help Teddy find his way back to Dot.
Make your own or download and complete the Teddy Took the Train Maze.
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Puzzle Maker: http://puzzlemaker.discoveryeducation.com/AdvMazeSetupForm.asp

Number.
Train Addition Game.
Objectives:Reinforce number recognition and one-to-one correspondence counting skills.
Http://stayathomeeducator.com/build-a-train-a-preschool-addition-game

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Measurement: Time.
Train Travel. Teddy explored the city of Melbourne via the train network. Choose your own city’s travel network to explore for the following activity.
Materials:list of train (or tram, bus, etc) stations, train track / hard floor with labelled stations, toy train or homemade propelling train (See Science activity), timer or stopwatch.

Materials: paper, scissors, pencil, sticky tape, blocks/train with wheels, balloon, paper rolls, timer or stopwatch

Materials: paper, scissors, pencil, sticky tape, blocks/train with wheels, balloon, paper rolls, timer or stopwatch


Directions:
1. Make your own train route with different stations (we simply stood labelled paper rolls up as the stations).
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2. Make or use a toy/propelled train. Tip: if using a balloon, attach the tape underneath and not over the neck so you don’t restrict the airflow
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3. Set the train at the start of the track, and let go! Time how long it takes to travel from one station to the next (adult assistance required).
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4. Record results. Eg. Melbourne Central Station to Southern Cross Station: 6 seconds.
5. Extension: Increase the number of stations on your track. Estimate and time how long it takes to complete the whole route.

Measurement: Time.
Clocks. It took from breakfast to bed time for Teddy to complete his outing on the train.
Make a time wheel or timeline showing your daily routine / activities, dividing the day into either:
Breakfast, Morning tea, Lunch, Afternoon tea, Dinner, Dessert, or
Morning, Mid-morning, Midday, Afternoon, Evening, Night, or
9:00am, 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm, 7:00pm.

Science.

Make your own self propelled train.
The science of ‘force’ is fascinating and can be explored in many ways. Use this train in the above Numeracy activity (Train Travel), or simply experiment and discuss the nature of ‘forces’ in this Science activity.
Instructions on how to make a balloon powered car (or train) here: http://m.wikihow.com/Make-a-Balloon-Car
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A few more great ideas on learning about forces here: http://www.science-sparks.com/2014/01/29/ideas-for-learning-about-forces
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Arts / Crafts.

A trip to the market.
Dot and her Mum bought oranges, a bun, leafy greens and a cup of coffee. Create a train that carries items you might find at the market.
Http://play-trains.com/natural-freight-toy-trains-summer
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Paper Roll / Egg Carton Train.
Take Teddy for a ride on your very own homemade train.
Http://www.thecrafttrain.com/1/post/2013/03/egg-carton-train.html
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Cardboard Box Car and Train Tunnel.
Take your train through the City Loop with this fantastic box tunnel.
Http://celebrateeverydaywithme.com/diy-project-for-your-train-loving-car-racing-kid
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Geography Project: My Place in the World.
Teddy visited lots of destinations around the world. Get to know your place in the world with this brilliant geographic activity.
Since Australia is both a country and a continent, you will include it twice. Discuss this fact by making comparisons to other countries / continents.
Http://kidworldcitizen.org/2011/11/26/my-place-in-the-world-project
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Find templates for a map of Australia, including plain coastal, plain States and labelled States here:
Http://d-maps.com/pays.php?num_pay=281&lang=en
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Music.

Train Songs.
Http://www.letsplaykidsmusic.com/down-at-the-station-train-songs

Lessons by Romi Sharp
© My Little Story Corner 2015.
www.facebook.com/mylittlestorycorner
All sourced resources have been credited.
These lessons are for personal or classroom use only and are not permitted for commercial use without written permission.


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Books for Mum – Mother’s Day 2015

“To each and every mother in our world…”,
Read a book together to “…secure extra precious, magical time with your children…”
– blurb from ‘I Wish My Mum Was an Octopus’.

Here are a few tributes to Mum to look out for this Mother’s Day.  

my_mum_plc_hi-resMy Mum Says the Strangest Things, Katrina Germein (author), Tom Jellett (illus.), Black Dog Books, 2014.  

From award-winning author Katrina Germein and illustrator Tom Jellett, the dynamic duo are victorious again following the success of ‘My Dad Thinks He’s Funny’ and ‘My Dad Still Thinks He’s Funny’; this time paying homage to mums in ‘My Mum Says the Strangest Things’. Totally hilarious, and with plenty of idioms that we can all relate to, this book will have the whole family nodding their heads, and perhaps even rolling some eyes. Because it’s true!
Each saying is represented with Tom Jellett’s characteristically comical cartoons and their cool retro colours. I love the red ants crawling out of the boys shorts as he explains how Mum says he has ants in his pants. And an aerial view of the boy when he’s grumpy – “…Mum says you could land an aeroplane on my bottom lip.” We’ve got wind changing faces, television turning eyes square, tired mum meaning tired kids, and the list continues.
‘My Mum Says the Strangest Things’ is great for primary school kids to crack a joke with their mums. It’s quirky, it’s entertaining, and it’s oh-so-funny!  

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hey-mum-i-love-youHey Mum, I Love You, Corinne Fenton (author), Black Dog Books, 2014.  

An absolutely adorable tribute to mums, and written for her own mum, Corinne Fenton’s ‘Hey Mum, I Love You’ captures all the littlest moments and characteristic nuances that mothers and babies share in the most loving and affectionate ways. Each quality that makes Mum special are represented with photographic images of beautiful animals. A baby polar bear nuzzling its mother shows “the softest sigh”. A tiny monkey resting in its mother’s arms is “the snuggliest cuddle”. Mum is the protector, the nurturer, and the supporter. “Because I know with you beside me I can do anything. And I know how lucky I am to have a mum like you.”
‘Hey Mum, I Love You’ is perfect for mothers and their babies to have a giggle, a snuggle and a few sneaky kisses. Doesn’t get any cuter!  

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JamforNanaJam for Nana, Deborah Kelly (author), Lisa Stewart (illus.), Random House Australia, 2014.  

‘Jam for Nana’ is a delectably sweet story of a little girl and her Nana as they make pancakes with jam and sugar. Nana recalls the days when she lived on the farm and had ‘real’ apricot jam with the warmth of a hundred summers, and it tasted like the sun. The little girl longs to give her Nana the same precious gift, and surprises her with her own version of the delicious apricot jam – jam that is made with love and sunshine.
‘Jam for Nana’, with its soft and gentle illustrations, is sure to have its readers licking their lips, wanting to revisit Nana’s warm summers with its delicious goodness!  

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9781925000375I Wish My Mum Was an Octopus, Shona Revie Keenan (author), Lee Burgemeestre (illus.), Ford Street Publishing, 2014.  

Written in rollicking rhyme, a young boy and his mum simultaneously imagine all the jobs she could accomplish with eight tentacles; in the hopes that there is still enough time left for him. An ode to all the super-mums out there who really do juggle a zillion tasks at once – coordinating extra-curricula activities and social events, preparing meals for a range of functions, tackling the never-ending pile of laundry, attending to sick and injured family members, looking after the baby, achieving goals at work, being an active sports mum to the eldest child, and finally, enjoying creative learning time with the middle child.
‘I Wish My Mum Was an Octopus’ is a lively and fun story, with colourful, whimsical illustrations that showcase the extremely busy lives of mothers. A reminder of what’s most important – spending time with your precious ones.  

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More book reviews on busy mums…  

mum-goes-to-workMum Goes to Work, Libby Gleeson (author), Leila Rudge (illus.), Walker Books, 2015.  

Originally published in 1992, ‘Mum Goes to Work’ is back in 2015. A story of the importance of mums and an awareness for the many hats they wear, including a view into the world of working mothers.
We are introduced to all the mums and their children as they congregate at the child care centre. The story continues with snippets into the busy days of each mum at work, and their child at care. Nadia’s mother is a student (of architecture, as seen in Leila Rudge‘s illustrations), and it is paintings of houses and building blocks that Nadia meticulously works on at child care. Laurence’s mother serves food and coffee in a cafe, whilst he makes a three-layer sand cake and lots of sand biscuits with his friend in the sandpit. We see mums as nurses, at-home mums, receptionists, retail assistants, office workers and teachers. Meanwhile, the children play with baby dolls, puzzles, construction, ride bikes and read books.
Leila Rudge’s illustrations perfectly suit the tender feel of the story, delivering a touch of humour and meaning to the words, and plenty of details to explore.
‘Mum Goes to Work’ is a welcome insight into the daily lives of working mothers and children in child care. It’s a joyous story of identity and having a place in this big world. Readers can gain a greater appreciation for the commitment, sacrifices and pleasures that women achieve for their families. Equally, this resource allows mums wonderful opportunities to further bond and relate to their children. Fun, interactive and visually appealing; it’s a win-win for all!

See the full review, and other Libby Gleeson books about nurturing roles at:
http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/libby-gleesons-books-in-review/2015/03  

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1733911_origHop Up! Wriggle Over!, Elizabeth Honey (author, illus.), Allen & Unwin, 2015.

See the review at:

http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/elizabeth-honeys-hop-up-wriggle-over-one-for-mum-and-bub/2015/04

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More picture books tributing Mums and Grandmas…
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HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!


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The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) is an organisation that fosters the engagement of literature in young Australians. Each year, the CBCA presents awards to exceptional books that make an immense contribution to children’s literature. In 2015 the CBCA will be celebrating its 70th year of promoting high quality Australian literature for children and young people (see www.cbca.org.au for more information).    

This year an outstanding list of books have been chosen as notables and shortlists for this prestigious award. Let’s have a look at the shortlisted books in the Early Childhood category.

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Snail and Turtle are Friends, Stephen Michael King (author / illus.), Scholastic Australia, 2014.

Snail and Turtle like to do lots of things together. They like to walk and run and read (as you can imagine, very slowly and quietly). Whilst they are good friends, Snail and Turtle recognise their differences in their habitats, diets and favourite activities. But they find common ground in their creative painting pursuits, ‘even though Snail likes swirls and Turtle likes shapes and blobs.’
A very sweet story of friendship and celebrating differences, with equally gorgeous bold, colourful and textured illustrations by author / illustrator Stephen Michael King.  

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9781921504631Scary Night, Lesley Gibbes (author), Stephen Michael King (illus.), Working Title Press, 2014.

Ready to be horrified? It’s time to hide! Let out a scream, it’s Scary Night! Lesley Gibbes and Stephen Michael King bring us a spooktacular tale of three brave friends that set upon a journey in the dead of night. Join them for a mysterious adventure!  

Hare with a hat, Cat with a cake, Pig with a parcel. Any guesses as to where they are tip-toeing to under the pale moonlight?   With Pig in front, the animal friends wander far over dark, rolling hills, traipse through the whispering woods and even dare to cross a snapping crocodile-infested creek. Shivering and squeezing each other tight, they continue on their way.
But where did they end up? Read the book and you will get a BIG surprise!
Scary Night is beautifully written in poetic prose. I especially love how Lesley Gibbes draws the reader in with her interactive, humorous question and answer play and repetitive phrases. She has also provided plenty of opportunity for teachable moments, including phonic awareness, prepositional language and rhyming words.   Engagement with the audience is further emphasised with Stephen Michael King’s gorgeous, Suess-like, expressive illustrations. The cool, moody colours are strong but not overpowering, with his use of accents in the bright full moon and the characters large, white terrified eyes. Just perfect to create the thrill of the night-time scene.  
Scary Night, a rhyming story of courage, determination and friendship, contains all the goodness of fun, adventure, suspense, and just a little bit of bite to keep its young readers entertained many times over. This read-aloud book is a real treat!

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22735715 Pig the Pug , Aaron Blabey (author, illus.), Scholastic, 2014.

You can’t go past this eye-bulging, squashed nose little pug that graces the front cover of Aaron’s Blabey’s Pig the Pug. From the onset, we learn just how greedy and selfish this dog is, as he has already claimed the book as his own on the ‘This book belongs to…’ label. True to classic tantrum behaviour, Pig blatantly refuses to share anything with friendly sausage dog, Trevor. A kind gesture by Trevor sees Pig the Pug completely ”flip his wig”. Pig doesn’t learn his lesson gently. Should we laugh at his misfortune? Ashamedly, yes. 
With a distinguishable reference to the phrase, ‘When pigs can fly’, Pig the Pug cannot and receives his just deserts, which only turns out to be sweet for one… Trevor! With no choice in the matter, Pig is forced to play with his canine friend. And although not totally deserved, we can’t help but feel some compassion towards Pig, but we still sneak in a final little giggle nevertheless.  
Pig the Pug is delightfully told in fun, exuberant rhyme, with vivid, amusing illustrations.  A wildly funny read and a clear lesson in learning to share, suitable for all ages.

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noni-the-pony-goes-to-the-beachNoni the Pony Goes to the Beach, Alison Lester (author / illustrator) , Allen & Unwin, 2014.

Following the original Noni the Pony the loveable pony is back and ready to set off to the beach with her companions; Coco the cat and Dave the dog. As far as cats go, Coco prefers to be nonchalant and stay dry. But like any typical energetic dog, Dave bounds off through the waves to find a whale, only to become stranded in the middle of the ocean. In her true heroic, caring manner, Noni is there to fish him out and return to the safety of the shore.
With Alison Lester’s characteristically gorgeous, endearing illustrations, and gentle, rhythmic wording, Noni the Pony Goes to the Beach is a fun, positive tale of friendship and all things magical about visiting the beach.  

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go-to-sleep-jessie--1Go To Sleep, Jessie!, Libby Gleeson (author), Freya Blackwood (illus.), Little Hare Books, 2014.

A little girl cannot sleep while her baby sister occupies the same bedroom…and screams. No amount of comfort and pats from Mum settle baby Jessie. No amount of sweet stories and lullabies from Dad settle Jessie. The girl is frustrated beyond words, but when Jessie is taken out and all is quiet, she still can’t sleep, and finally comes to realise the perfect solution… A little bit of sisterly love and affection goes a long way.
A really gentle and endearing story that delicately explores the struggles of sleep-time routines. I love Libby Gleeson‘s descriptions of the baby’s behaviour, paired with the raw emotions of the older sister. I also love Freya Blackwood‘s whimsical and dynamic images that show these feelings with vignettes and contrasting tones of orange and blue.
Go To Sleep, Jessie! will melt your heart. It is perfect as a bedtime story at the end of the day, and especially for children who understand the joys and angst of having a younger sibling.  

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9781742974620A House of Her Own, Jenny Hughes (author), Jonathan Bentley (illus.), Little Hare Books, 2014.  

Audrey proclaims to her dad, ”Your house is getting too small for me”. So, a most obliging father takes his little girl outside in search of a more suitable place to live. A house high up in the tree is perfect! After all, Audrey is bigger than she was yesterday.
Handyman dad gets to work on a beautiful circular staircase, a hanging bathtub for snorkelling, a spot for sipping tea, a comfy blue bed, chairs for guests and a stove – all at Audrey’s request. The tree house is magnificent! But what happens when Audrey realises that she might get cold and she’s run out of food? Once again, dad has just the right solution!

Jenny Hughes has created this wonderful dialogue between Audrey and her dad; an independent, knows-what-she-wants little girl and her accommodating father. The images by Jonathan Bentley are breathtaking as we watch via differing perspectives of this amazing renovation coming together up in the sky. The vibrant watercolours and textures add a gorgeous touch of energy that so brilliantly captures the dynamics of each scene.
‘A House of Her Own’ is an enchanting story of love and dedication, with a sense of big adventure but also affirming one’s sense of security, that is sure to get preschoolers reaching up to their bookshelves for another read, again and again.


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My Little Story Corner’s Favourites From 2014

I didn’t think I’d make a ‘best-of’ list this year, simply because there were just too many fantastic picture books to choose from. So, to make it easier on myself I enlisted the help of my recently-turned five year old daughter. What better critique can you get than an inquisitive preschooler (soon to be school girl)?

To give you an idea of how ‘experienced’ we are in the picture book department, my latest library record shows that we’ve borrowed a total of 257 children’s books in the year of 2014. Then there are the ones we’ve bought (which sadly doesn’t even come close to the borrowed figure, but let’s face it, noone can afford that!), plus the several books received from my wonderful literary magazine employers with whom I write reviews for. That’s ALOT of books!

So, of all the books we’ve managed to lay our hands and eyes upon, these are Miss 5’s top 12 picture books of 2014 (in titled alphabetical order)

Bza6SorCYAAMLHqDigby’s Moon Mission by Renee Price, illustrated by Anil Tortop (Tadaa Books, Dec 2014).

A popular book in our house, Digby’s Moon Mission is a humorous story of teamwork and diversity; of a curious boy who sets out to solve the mystery of the banana-thin moon. Exploring concepts such as rhyming words, the days of the week, and phases of the moon, the final surprise at the end was the point that had us enjoying this adventure to the moon again and again.

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go-to-sleep-jessie-Go To Sleep, Jessie! by Libby Gleeson, illustrated by Freya Blackwood (Little Hare, Nov 2014).

We’re huge fans of the Gleeson and Blackwood combination (as discovered after reading the gorgeous and emotive Banjo and Ruby Red, which also features in Go To Sleep, Jessie!). And the fact that Miss 5 also has a little sister made this book a real treasure in our household. Several anguishing attempts to settle baby Jessie to sleep seems like nothing will work. But in a heartwarming ending the girl narrator finds a way to give Jessie the comfort and love that she needed. Too sweet!

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hurry-up-alfieHurry Up, Alfie by Anna Walker (Scholastic, Sep 2014).

From another of our favourites, Anna Walker, author / illustrator of the loveable Peggy, this is a story we could both relate to. A young crocodile finds it difficult to focus on getting ready to go out when there are so many other distractions, and his agitated parent who is constantly reminding Alfie to get a wriggle on! A very cute and funny tale with whimsical, beautiful artwork by Anna Walker.

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mix-it-up-Mix it Up! by Herve Tullet (Chronicle Books, Sep 2014).

Not an Australian book but worth a mention. Miss 5 just loves the interactivity of this one, as we engage with the paints to splash, mix and transform from primary to secondary colours, and using light and shadow to create new shades. Fun, engaging and a clever way to learn about colours and colour mixing.

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oliverOliver and George by Peter Carnavas (New Frontier Publishing, Sep 2014).

Ok, so we love ALL of Peter Carnavas’ books! Hugely popular in our house were The Boy on the Page and The Important Things. Oliver and George is an adorably funny book about patience (or lack thereof) and friendship. Oliver is ready to play, but his bear friend George is busy reading. Oliver gets up to all sorts of antics to capture George’s attention, only to be faced with a surprising reaction each time. But will they ever be ready to play? We love how Peter promotes a love of books, and his illustrations are as always dramatic, expressive and sweet.

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22735715Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey (Scholastic, July 2014).

Another one from the talented Aaron Blabey, with his sick sense of humour, author of the award-winning The Dreadful Fluff (which Miss 5 loved), and The Brothers Quibble. Pig the Pug is a totally hilarious story of an absolutely greedy and selfish Pug, more than unwilling to share his toys and food with his flatmate, Trevor the sausage dog. A book full of tantrums, name calling and bad tempers, Pig ends up getting his just desserts for his inexcusable behaviour, which turns out to be sweet for only one; Trevor. With matching expressive and comical illustrations, Pig the Pug is a must read!

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9781921504631Scary Night by Lesley Gibbes, illustrated by Stephen Michael King (Working Title Press, Jul 2014).

A humorous and curious tale of three characters; a Pig with a parcel, a Hare with a hat and a Cat with a cake, setting off on a mysterious adventure in the pale moonlight. What a BIG surprise we got when we discovered where they were tip-toe creeping to on that scary night! Lots of fun with a hint of bite! Perfect for Halloween!

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2014-12-31-10-40-36--970769686The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak (The Dial Press, Sep 2014).

Published overseas, this book seemed to become an overnight sensation, and certainly was for us. Brilliantly able to capture the attention of young ones around the world, and it contains absolutely no pictures! A hilarious book full of silly words and proposterous phrases, making the reader sound like a ridiculous singing monkey with a blueberry pizza head. Be prepared for many reads, over and over, and over.

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thegreatgardenmystery9780857984166The Great Garden Mystery by Renée Treml (Random House Australia, Sep 2014).

We definately couldn’t deny our admiration of Renée Treml’s art, quickly becoming fans of her previous books, One Very Tired Wombat and Colour for Curlews. In The Great Garden Mystery, a most intriguing case that has the animals in the patch in disarray. Who’s been eating all the beetroot in the night? As the animal detectives study every clue, each one asserts their innocence, until it is the roo that seems most suspicious. But will this mystery ever be solved? Who’s the one with the square-shaped poo? A fun rhyming story that will bring out the detective in all of us!

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tim-and-edTim and Ed by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Andrew Joyner (Penguin Australia, Oct 2014).

Tim and Ed are identical twin koalas. They look the same and do everything together. Until one day when they spend the night apart. Written in exuberant rhyme, with equally lively pictures, Tim and Ed is a fun story about learning independence and uniqueness, particularly when you are a twin.

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vanilla-ice-creamVanilla Ice Cream by Bob Graham (Candlewick Press, Aug 2014).

Following the breathtaking perspective that captured a moment in time in Silver Buttons (favourite from 2013), comes another magnificent story by legendary Bob Graham. A tale of cause and effect; how a little swallow bird from India gets carried away across the ocean on a shipping container, reaching its’ destination that is Melbourne, Australia. There, the bird unintentionally sets in motion a series of events that lead to a baby’s first, delectable taste of vanilla ice cream. Stunningly captured moments. Delicious!

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whale-in-the-bathWhale in the Bath by Kylie Westaway, illustrated by Tom Jellett (Allen & Unwin, Oct 2014).

A comical tale, with equally comical illustrations, of a splashing whale in Bruno’s bathtub. We laughed when the massive whale continues to tell Bruno to come back later, and poor Bruno gets accused of lying and avoiding his bath. We loved the ending when finally Bruno has his wash (with the help of the whale), and when someone else faces the same problem.

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Well, the child has spoken. These are her top 12 picks of picture books published in 2014. If I had done my own list there would be at least another 10 or so… just have a look around my website and you’ll find some more amazing books by great authors. Looking forward to discovering more talent in 2015!

Happy reading!

– Romi Sharp 🙂


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Whale in the Bath: Teaching Notes

whale-in-the-bath
Whale in the Bath
Kylie Westaway
Illustrated by Tom Jellett

Read the Review.

Whale in the Bath: Question Time!  

Before Reading:
Ask some silly questions, like ”Would you ever find an elephant in your toilet?”, ”Would you find a polar bear in your fridge?”.  Encourage children to think of their own examples and write them down.
Look at the cover. Did you think a whale could fit in a bath? Do you think this might be a true story or make believe? What do you think the boy might say to the whale? What would you say to the whale?  
whale in the bath titles

During Reading:
Ask, Do you know what krill is? Do you believe Bruno? Do you think he really had a bear under the bed and a walrus in the backyard? Do you think the whale has nice manners? Can you wash like a whale? (Do the actions).  

After Reading:
Do you think Ally sees the whale or is she making it up? Why do you think Bruno’s family didn’t believe him? Why do you think Bruno didn’t want to have a bath? What would you do if someone didn’t listen when you asked them to do something? Have you ever tried to avoid something you didn’t want to do? What happened?  

Writing.
– Using the ideas listed prior to reading, write a new title about a large animal in a small item. For example, ”Hippo in a Teacup”. Illustrate to create a front cover.
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– Using the above front cover, write a new story about yourself trying to use the item that the animal is sitting in. What was it doing in there? Why doesn’t it want to get out? What would you say? What do your family say?
– W is for whale. Make a list of words that begin with ‘Ww’. Encourage children to copy or trace some of these words. Accompany each word with a picture to represent it.
– Make a paper model of one of the ‘w’ words. Eg. paper whale (see Art / Craft), walrus, window, etc.
– Write an alliteration sentence with ‘w’ words. Eg. Wally Whale wondered why the water wasn’t warm. Illustrate.  

Reading.
– Read other books about whales.
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– Find and write a list of verbs associated with the word ”splash”, in a whale template.
Alternatively write adjectives to describe the whale, or nouns listing the items he used in the bath.  
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Mathematics.
– Measurement: Length. How big is a Blue Whale?
Objectives: Children understand the size of a Blue Whale. Practice predicting and measuring skills.
Materials: roll of string (100 feet or 30.5 metres), Blue Whale picture, pencils, large butcher paper, corridor or outdoor area, paper plates.
1. Research and write measurements of the Blue Whale on the picture.
2. On large butcher paper, draw the head of the whale, as life size as possible. Do the same with the tail.
3. Have children draw eyes, mouth, scales onto the head and tail.
4. Mount the head at one end of the corridor, then stick (or tie) the end of the string to the head.
5. Unravel the string (30.5m) and attach with the tail.
6. Children predict how many paper plates (and/or other materials) it would take to fill the entire length of the whale. Write estimates, measure and record.
7. Discussion: Who’s prediction/s was closest? Refer back to book. Compare and contrast – Would it be possible for this whale to fit in a bath? A car? A house? What else might be as big as a Blue Whale?
(Activity adapted from www.teachervision.com/science/lesson-plan/2548.html)  

– Find a range of online whale maths games and videos at the following site:
https://www.learninggamesforkids.com/animal-games-whales.html  

Science.
– Research facts about the Blue Whale (use size measurements in Maths activity above). Present as a booklet, poster or visual technology presentation.
Some information can be found at: www.animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/blue-whale/
Learn all you wanted to know about blue whales with pictures, videos, photos, facts, and news from National Geographic.  
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Art / Craft.
– Look at the illustrations by Tom Jellett. Draw cartoon style pictures and paint with cool, earthy tones.
– Download these awesome drawing and colouring activities by Tom Jellett, found at:
http://kyliewestaway.com.au/fun-stuff/colouring.     
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– Make your own Paper Plate Whale.
How cute is this one from Krokotak! We made our own using one paper plate, textas and some gold paper! Simple and adorable!
Instructions here: http://krokotak.com/2014/07/a-paper-plate-whale/ .    
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– And this Blue Whale Paper Toy:
http://krokotak.com/2013/03/blue-whale-paper-toy/
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– Crayon Relief Whale.
Materials: crayons, watercolour paint, water, paintbrush, paper, googly eyes and glue (optional).
Directions: 1. Draw a large whale with crayon and colour in as desired.
2. Dab water in to the watercolour paint to form a runny mixture, and paint over the entire sheet of paper.
3. Notice the crayon wax resisting the water. Allow to dry.
4. Glue on a googly eye/s (optional).    
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– Crayon Fun in the Bath!
Have a whale of a time and be creative in the bath with some bath crayons. You can easily make your own.
See instructions here: http://m.wikihow.com/Make-Soap-Crayons  
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General.
– Find a range of whale activities, including literacy, mathematics and crafts, on Kylie Westaway’s Pinterest page:
http://www.pinterest.com/kyliewestaway/whale-in-the-bath  
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Lessons created and adapted by Romi Sharp 2014.
All sourced resources have been credited.
These lessons are for personal or classroom use only and not permitted for commercial use.
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