My Little Story Corner

For the love of picture books

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Foxtrot: Teaching Notes

Foxtrot, Becka Moor (author, illus.), The Five Mile Press, 2015.  


imageFoxtrot is a born dancer. He simply can’t get enough of the sport. But when his trotting and tripping feet cause pandemonium in the town, his friends step in to bring Foxtrot’s chaos to a screeching halt. Tying his shoelaces and sticking his feet to the floor make Foxtrot unhappy, as do his own attempts to expand his creative repertoire. In a satisfying finale, Foxtrot and his friends band together to refurnish and re-open his former dance teacher, Mrs Flamenco’s dance school. Of course, it is a huge success!

imageI love the endearing language that so defines this naive but gentle and considerate soul who only has the best of intentions. There are some terrific dancing terms thrown in, too, like ‘boogied’, ‘jived’, ‘tangoed’ and ‘mamboed’ that arouse interest and charm. Together with this humorous, fun-loving and charismatic storyline are the equally vibrant and animated cartoon illustrations that allow for plenty of discussion.

‘Foxtrot’ is a book that undeniably brings a pop of energy and a burst of spirit in this tale of rhythm, blues, teamwork and friendship. Tango-rrific for preschoolers.  

Available for purchase here.


Before Reading:
Put on some music and enjoy a boogie and a jive! Teach children the ‘foxtrot’ dance.
Make a list of words that mean ‘dance’. Eg. Dance names such as Mambo, Tango, Tap, Ballet, etc, and dance moves such as jive, prance, wiggle, spin, twirl, etc.
Look at the cover. What or who do you think ‘Foxtrot’ is? What do you think might happen in the story? Do you think everyone likes to dance?  

During Reading:
Why do you think Foxtrot likes to dance so much? Why didn’t Foxtrot realise that he was causing all these calamities? Do you think his friends are being nice by stopping him from dancing? Do you think Foxtrot should try not to dance? Why or why not?  

After Reading:
What kinds of things did Foxtrot’s friends do to help him? What were unhelpful gestures? Why didn’t his friends think that his plan to open a dance school would work? What made them change their minds? Do you think that Foxtrot will always be the best dancer?
What new dance words did you learn from the book? Add these to your previous list.  



Verbs and Nouns.
Find and make word cards with terms from the book. Sort them into ‘verbs’ (doing words) and ‘nouns’ (name of things).
Verbs include: danced, boogied, twirled, brushed, combed, jumped, jived, swung, swayed, and so on.
Nouns include: mayhem, calamities, customers, chaos, pandemonium, shoelaces, honey, and so on.
Use of alliteration / phonics.
Find and write sentences with alliterations. Illustrate.
For example, ‘He danced as he dressed and did splits as he put on socks.’,
‘He jumped and jived and swung and swayed,
‘He tangoed with his toast and mamboed with his marmalade.  


Innovate a story.
Here are some sentence starters to begin.
‘Foxtrot’s dancing feet caused…’
‘Foxtrot tried rock climbing, and…’
‘Foxtrot held a huge opening ceremony for his new dance school, but…’
Persuasive Text. Advertisements.
Write an advert and create a poster inviting people to join your new dance school.
What is the title? Catch phrase? Price? Other details? Pictures? Colours used? Is it effective? What’s different about your dance school as opposed to others?  


Measurement / Number. Time your Rhythm.
Make up a dance routine for you and your friends. Count how many repeats for each move. How many moves in total? Time your dance against the clock. Can you stay in beat with the music?
Extension: How many times can you jump / twirl / leap in one minute? Count and record.  


States of Matter: Dancing Raisins Experiment
Raisins can dance, too! I wonder if they prefer the Tango or the Mambo? Explore the matter of gas as the raisins interact with the carbon dioxide bubbles.
From Gift of Curiosity  

Arts / Crafts.

Make your own dancing Foxtrot marionette puppet!
Check out this gorgeous toilet roll craft adapted from Duitang and get your Foxtrot boogying all over town.

Coloured paper (white, orange, green)
Cardboard (such as cereal box)
Pens / pencils / textas (assorted colours)
Toilet roll tube
String (allow for 1.5 metres)
Two (2) small bottle lids
Sticky tape


1. Cut to fit and cover toilet roll tube (body) with green paper.
2. Draw a fox head shape and tail shape on to the cardboard. Cut.
Use as a template to trace onto white and orange papers. Cut each piece, use the white head to draw inner ears and eyes. Cut a tip of white for the tail.
3.Paste all pieces on top of each other, with the cardboard at the bottom.
Stick head and tail onto the body and add details with pens. We added a little hat!
4. Adult to pierce two small holes in each side of the body for the arms. Cut a piece of string and thread through the holes, tying each end in double knots. Trim excess.
5. Adult to pierce two holes at the bottom for the legs. Attach string to each of the bottle lids. Thread each leg string through a hole and tape down inside the tube. Make sure they are the same length.
6. Cut three equal lengths of string (approx. 25-30cm). Attach one end to each foot (bottle lid), and attach the other end to each end of the straw. Attach the third piece of string to the back of the head.
7. Hold the string in one hand and the straw in the other. Make your fox dance!

Straw Blown Paintings.
Make your paint dance across the paper with this fun activity from The Imagination Tree.

Dance School Diorama.
Design and construct your own Dance School diorama with character puppets / figures.  

Lessons by Romi Sharp.
© My Little Story Corner 2015.
All sourced resources have been credited. These lessons are for personal and classroom use only and not permitted for commercial use without written consent.
This post contains affiliate links. This review and lesson plans are not paid and are my own educated opinion.

Information about the author illustrator of Foxtrot, Becka Moor can be found here.        

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Big Pet Day: Teaching Notes

imageBig Pet Day, Lisa Shanahan (author), Gus Gordon (illus.), Lothian Children’s Books, 2014.
Shortlisted in 2015 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards (5 – 8 years).

What an exciting day at school! ‘Big Pet Day’ is a tale of mammoth exuberance as Lily’s class celebrate the individual qualities and talents of their pets. Much to her dismay, Mrs Dalton’s classroom quickly becomes a disorganised chaotic mess. The principal, Mr Fisher, will be judging the best pet later that day, so keeping everyone under control is of the utmost importance. There is a runaway ferrett, a pooping pony, and a cordial-drinking puppy. Lily’s pet dragon is very well-behaved though, but she is the only one who knows how special he is. In a hilarious finale, involving a squealing, hermit crab-fearing Mr Fisher, it is Lily’s dragon who is now ‘seen’ as the most deserving gold trophy winner.
The text by Lisa Shanahan is absolutely comical, with many personalities evident – the cheekiest would have to be Mrs Dalton! There is a lot to discover, with the various children and the shenanigans of their pets, and illustrator Gus Gordon covers all these aspects expertly with charm and humour. I love the page with the kids looking exactly like their pet counterparts! Gorgeous! His use of scanned images, adorable hand-drawn characters and fine details (like Mrs Dalton’s book titled ‘Pet Management’) allow for hours of perusal and plenty of giggles.
‘Big Pet Day’ is perfect for primary school aged children (and their teachers), with scope for open discussions on pets (real and imagined), classroom management, friendship and loyalty. This book is both entertaining and heartwarming. It’s a winner!

This review appeared first at Boomerang Books.


Before Reading:

Use a story bag and fill it with items relating to the story. Eg. Pictures / toys of different animals and a dragon, a gold trophy, pet accessories (brush, collar, ball, etc).
Have children guess what the story might be about as they refer to the items.
Ask, Do you have a pet? If you could have any pet what would it be? How do you take care of a pet? Can a dragon be a pet? Why or why not? What would you teach a dragon if you had one as a pet?

During Reading:

Would you like to take your pet to school? What tricks would you like it to show? Do you think Mrs Dalton likes having the pets in her classroom?
Do you think Courtney is right about Lily’s dragon? What do you notice about the technique used in the pictures?
How do you think the teachers and students will respond to Lily’s dragon’s roars?

After Reading:

What unusual things does your pet do? Which animal/s in the story did you like best? Why or why not?
Why do you think the class liked Lily’s picture of herself and her flying dragon best?
How did each student get their pet ready for the parade? How did Lily get her pet dragon ready? What are the special qualities about Lily’s dragon that make him unique? Do you think he deserved to be the gold trophy winner? Why?
How did Lily handle the others not believing in her dragon? Could she have responded to Courtney’s untrustworthiness in a different way? Could Courtney have responded to Lily’s stories differently?

Thinking Activity.

De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats.
Download Big Pet Day 6 Thinking Hats, formulate and answer your own questions about Lily and her dragon in ‘Big Pet Day’. Here are some examples.

Blue Hat – Processes. Thinking about thinking: Organise your own class pet day.
White Hat – Facts. Information and data: List the ways the children took care of their pets when getting ready for the Grand Parade.
Red Hat – Feelings. Intuition, instincts: How did Lily and her dragon feel to be the winner? How did they feel when no one took notice of them?
Green Hat – Creativity. Ideas, possibilities: What creative things could you teach your pet?
Yellow Hat – Benefits. Positives: What are the best things about having a pet dragon / any pet?
Black Hat – Cautions. Difficulties, weaknesses: What are the most dangerous / difficult things about having a pet dragon / any pet?


– Persuasive Text. Complete and illustrate: ‘The best pet is…. because…’.
– Creative Writing. Write a story around the theme of keeping a pet dragon.

– Comprehension. The students got their pets ready for the Grand Parade.
Match the description of how they took care of their animals with the correct picture. Download Big Pet Day Match Up
Big Pet Day Match Up

– Read other books and fairy tales about dragons. Compare and contrast fierceness vs gentleness, personality traits and appearance, and so on.


Measurement: Ordering Pets by Size.
Collect a range of toys of different sizes. Have student/s order and identify them from smallest to largest.
Use other vocabulary to describe sizes. Eg. Tiniest, medium-sized, biggest, etc. Draw them in their order and label.
– Sorting. Use the Big Pet Day Cut and Paste to sort the animals into various categories.
A three way venn diagram is included for categories of three (eg. Feathers, Fur, Fins).
Big Pet Day Cut and Paste
Graphs and Data: Favourite Pets Graph.
As a group, list a range of favourite pets. Students survey each other and make a tally against each given pet. Count and mark the number of votes for each pet, and graph the results on a bar or picture graph. Discuss results.
Optional: include imaginary pets in the survey.


Bubble Creatures.
Bubbles are always a fascinating discovery with the mixture of detergent and water and its transparency, soapy surface, expanding and popping qualities.
Here’s a fun way to explore bubbles and create your own ‘bubble-breathing’ dragon at the same time! From Two-Daloo.

Arts / Crafts.  

Dragon Crafts.
Find a range of fantastic dragon crafts from Activity Village.
Collage Art.
Cut out pictures from magazines or photos, and incorporate them into a painting of your favourite scene, or create your own Grand Pet Parade.
Materials: magazine cut outs, photos, paint, pencil, glue.


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

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Max: Teaching Notes

MarcMartin-Max_CoverMax, Marc Martin (author, illus.), Viking Penguin Books, 2014. CBCA 2015 Early Childhood Notable Book.


‘Max’ is a story of a sweet (and salty) friendship between man and bird, with a key focus on one common theme… A love of chips!
Max the seagull is like other ordinary seagulls – he likes fish, and he likes chips. But what makes him extraordinary is his loyalty to Bob. Bob is the owner of the fish and chip shop, you see. So when Max behaves, he is rewarded. Max and Bob enjoy many good times fishing together, until one day, Bob disappears. After waiting for weeks, Max eventually forgoes his beachside location in search of his long-lost mate. Familiar smells lead him to the city, where he stumbles across a brand new fish and chip shop. Of course, it belongs to Bob! Will Bob recognise Max? Will they remain companions when things have changed?

I love the narrative focus from Max’s perspective, and together with the illustrative details, readers with a discerning eye (and ear) will pick up the emotional clues and reasoning behind the events. Marc Martin won the 2013 Crichton Award for new illustrator, and deservingly so. His eccentric quality of details, shapes, patterns, textures, animated characters, ‘bird’s-eye’ views and vivid watercolours are definately like a delectable feast for the senses.

‘Max’ is an endearing, whimsical tale of friendship and change that is full of zest and salty goodness. It is sure to fly off the shelves into its readers’ hearts, satisfying long after the book has been put down. For children from age three and up.


Before Reading:
Ask, have you been to the beach? What kind of things might you see there?
Draw a mind map (or a Fishbone Diagram!) showing each aspect according to different categories, such as animals, food, buildings, people, activities, etc.
Look at the cover. What can you see? What do you know about seagulls? Who do you think ‘Max’ is? Can you add anything else to your mind map after looking at the cover?

During Reading:
What kind of shops can you see in the pictures? Why is Max a bit mischievous? How does Max help Bob fish? Why does Bob seem sad? Where do you think Bob is going? Why?
Do you think Max will find Bob? Will Bob know who he is?

After Reading:
Why did Bob have to close his shop at the beach? Why do you think Max wanted to see Bob again? What are some of the differences between the beachside and the city? How do you think Bob felt when he saw Max again? How did Max feel when he was waiting, and when he found Bob? What has changed and what is still the same? What makes a good friendship?


Friendship Ladder.
With a partner, discuss / list the activities that you enjoy doing together. Then, using a Ranking Ladder, write them in order from least favourite (at the bottom) to most favourite (at the top).
Poem / Letter.
Write or draw a friendship poem / picture or a friendly letter to someone you haven’t seen for a while. Eg. An old kinder friend or someone who moved schools. Write about the things you enjoyed doing with that person, and how you feel about their absence in your life.
Creative Writing.
Write a story about ‘change’. This open-ended topic can relate to many circumstances, including moving room, house or school, losing a loved one, changes in nature, changes in your body, and so on.
Finish the sentence: ‘Max likes ____, _____ and ____.’ Write your own sentence: ‘I like ____, ____ and ____.’ and/or ‘My friend likes ____, ____ and ____.’ Illustrate. Make a class book.  


Number: Fishing Game.
Number Recognition. Write numbers 1-10 on paper fish and attach a paper clip to each one. Using a magnet on a piece of string, ‘catch’ the fish and say the number as you go.
Extension: Addition – record each number caught and add the next number caught to the previous. Eg. 5 and 4 is 9. Continue adding numbers until all the fish have been caught.
Number: Chip Number Stories.
Use materials, such as pop sticks, pipe cleaners, pencils or paper strips to represent chips. Make up, write and model number stories using addition, subtraction, groups of or shared between (depending on level) about Max and the chips. For example, ‘On Sunday Bob gave Max 2 chips, and on Monday he gave him 3 chips. How many chips is that altogether?’
Max maths1
Number: Money.
Open up your own ‘Fish and Chip’ shop with a register. Invite customers to buy your food using play (or cut out paper) money. Label the products with price tags, or write them up on a blackboard. Practise recognising different coins and notes, counting and adding money, and giving change. How much money did you make in a day?
Space / Location: Model City.
Max flew over the ocean, trees, around the city and above tall buildings in search of Bob. Make a model city with these features. Using prepositional language, instruct a partner to fly a paper seagull to different locations. Eg. ‘Fly Max around the red building.’ ‘Fly Max under the bridge.’ ‘Fly Max over the forest.’
: Maps.
Design and draw your own street map on a grid, showing various features including parks, buildings, houses, trees, rivers and roads. Formulate questions to find a particular feature on the map. Eg. In which grid reference would you find Bob’s Fish and Chip shop? A5.
Graphs and Data: Favourite Food Survey.
Survey your friends to find out what they like to eat the most. As a class, list the foods and tally the votes once each person has been interviewed. Represent the results as a graph (bar, picture, pie chart), and discuss. What was the favourite food? Least favourite? What does this tell you about the class’s eating habits?
Alternatively, pick your own topic to graph.  


Water Science:  Oil and Water Study of pollution / oil spills at the beach / ocean.

Study of birds.
Choose a species of bird and research its appearance, habitat, migration, food, breeding, and so on. Present visually and/or digitally.

Art / Craft.
Make a paper plate seagull.

Have a go at folding a paper seagull with this origami craft. See how ours turned out!
1 origami max seagull

Paint your own aerial view of the city with watercolours and pencil. Experiment with other media like paper collage from textured paper or magazine cut outs.
– Paint the scene with Bob and Max fishing on the pier, using watercolours for the underwater section.
Max book image

Make a cardboard box shopping strip with a variety of shops. Don’t forget the fish and chips!

Make a fishing rod and some fish to catch (see Numeracy: Fishing Game activity).
IMG_6082_2 IMG_6139_2
Toss the fish and chips into the seagull’s belly. See the following link for instructions (alternate penguin for seagull).

Water Activities
Love these chip-looking sponge splash balls from!
Gift Wrapping.
Wrap a gift for a friend in fish n chip paper / butcher paper. Decorate and tie ribbon. That’s o-fish-ally a wrap!

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

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The Duck and the Darklings: Teaching Notes

resized_9781743312612_224_297_FitSquareThe Duck and the Darklings, Glenda Millard (author), Stephen Michael King (illus.), Allen & Unwin, 2014.  


Shortlisted in the CBCA’s Picture Book of the Year 2015 awards, Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King have produced something stellar and truly special. If ever there was a book about hope, friendship and triumph, with a glint of desolation and an explosion of warmth, then ‘The Duck and the Darklings’ is the one.  

Peterboy and his Grandpapa live in the land of Dark. Below the surface they dwell in a hole, “built with care, lit with love”. All is spoiled and broken, dark and gloomy, and only the youngsters dare to face the world in search of comforts to take back home. This is because the old ones have disremembered yesterdays, sunups and sundowns. From what begins of Peterboy’s observation of a tiny glimmer of light, he is able to spark a dazzle in the eyes of his Grandpapa, and longs to keep it there. His search for a scrap of wonderfulness leads him to the discovery of a downy-hearted duck called Idaduck. Although ambivalent at first, Grandpapa’s glow of forbidden fondness is soon restored as he nurses the duck back to health. With Grandpapa’s loving memories returning and the most magnificent fare-thee-well for a now mended duck, Idaduck spreads her wings. The Darklings watch with hope in their hearts, and the world becomes strangely bright and beautiful once more.  

Written with such poetic phrasing, gorgeously constructed sentences and use of alliterations, Millard’s text is intriguing and captivating. Her language is creatively descriptive in a discerning yet compelling way. Stephen Michael King’s illustrations are absolutely spellbinding. The Darklings are drawn as simple outlines, set against all the light and shade that make the backgrounds so bold and striking. His mixture of pen, brush, ink and digital effects, and wide angled scenes of shapes and lines are so masterfully combined to capture the depth and impact of the story.  

‘The Duck and the Darklings’, with its brilliant author / illustrator pairing, is a heartwarming story of family, friendship and optimism. It tenderly connects the importance of remembering fond memories of the past and how that influences a brighter future. Children from five years old will certainly hold a candle to this shining star.

Review by Romi Sharp



Before Reading:
Ask, do you have a favourite memory? How does it make you feel when you remember it? How might you feel if you didn’t remember your good memories? How do you like to share your memories?
Look at the cover. What do you think this story might be about? Looking at the picture of the boy, what do you think he might be searching for?  

During Reading:
Why do you think they live in the cave? Why is the world so dark outside? Why do they need to go to the finding fields?
What does it mean, ‘The light put longing into Peterboy’s heart’? What does ‘wanderlust’ mean? Can you imagine this colourful world Grandpapa speaks of in his stories?  

After Reading:
Why do you think Grandpapa held his memories close to his heart? What did Peterboy notice about Grandpapa when he talked about his memories? What was it about Idaduck that Peterboy thought would help put the light into Grandpapa’s eyes? Why didn’t Grandpapa want to share their home with the duck at first? How did he feel about her later?
Why couldn’t they keep Idaduck, and why did Grandpapa want her farewell to be so memorable?
What does it mean, ‘…the wounds man had made’? Do you think the Darklings future will be brighter from now onwards? Why, how will they be able to come out of living in darkness?

Curriculum Activities


– Write a poem to a loved one including some fond memories of times you spent together.
– Write a persuasive text arguing the benefits or disadvantages to living in a cave / in the dark.
– Write an information text on caring for injured animals.
– Script Writing. Write a play about one of the scenes from the book. Act it out (props or none).
– Alliteration
“…crept into cracks and crevices, corners and crannies.” ,”…squeezed small speckled surprises into his slippers.”
Write a sentence using alliteration about a place or an action.
– Word Study / Comprehension.
Find / discuss the meanings to the interesting / unusual words in the book, such as disremembered, spiderling fingers, trickle, wonderfulness, wanderlust, oompapas.
Write them in your own sentences.
– Letter Study.
Find all the words that begin with ‘s’, ‘c’, ‘f’, and so on. Display each letter on a separate chart.

Words can also be divided into columns, including noun, verb, adjective.

– Read other books about the power of memory or the importance of our older generations.
‘When I see Grandma’ by Debra Tidball and Leigh Hedstrom,
‘Celia and Nonna’ by Victoria Lane and Kayleen West,
‘Harry Helps Grandpa Remember’ by Karen Tyrrell,
‘Wilfred Gordon Macdonald Partridge’ by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas.

– Read other books by Glenda Millard and Stephen Michael King. Compare writing style and illustrating similarities and differences.

– Read other books by Glenda Millard.

– Read other books by Stephen Michael King.

What are your favourite books? Which resonate most with you?


Measurement (Time).
Create a timeline or time wheel showing some of your most memorable moments, in order of occurrence. Eg. Baby sister born (2013), won a trophy (2014), lost a tooth (2015), etc.

 Number / Area / Modeling.
Pose a question, such as ‘If the Darklings’ world was 10 metres square, and new trees grew every two metres, how many new trees would there be altogether?’
Step 1: Draw It. Using a grid of 10 x 10, draw a tree every two squares, starting in the top left hand corner.
Step 2: Count It. How many different ways can you count the trees? By 1s, 2s, 5s, multiply horizontal by vertical, count in columns / rows, etc.
Step 3: Model It. Make a model of the area using matchsticks and playdough (for the trees) on the grid (laminate for durability).
Step 4: Discuss It. Discuss the methods for resolving the answer and different strategies used to count.  


– Earth studies. Explore human and nature destruction to the earth.
– Reflections: Light

Kidspot’s experiment on ‘refraction’ (bending light).

Make your own candle experiment.

This site explores reflections through mirrors, using a variety of materials and concepts.

This site includes a range of games, experiments, videos and  facts that all relate to ‘light’. Some are ‘light and shadows’, ‘light sources and reflections’, making rainbows and bending light.

Arts / Crafts.

– Paint a scene from the book using light and shade, line and silhouettes, with mixed tools like pens and brushes, and you can even scan the picture and add digital effects!

– Design and create an inventive object that makes light. Eg. Candle hat.
Materials could include: toilet tube, paper plate, construction paper, cellophane, torch, tape, textas, other decorative craft items.

– Make a kaleidoscope.
– Make shadow puppets of characters from the book (or your own).
Shine a torch on the puppets against a wall and role play the story (you can use your script from the Literacy Script Writing activity).
Example here:
– Use a light box to explore shapes and objects.
Use your ‘spiderling fingers’ to paint and print-make with cling wrap on a light box.
Search for ‘scraps of wonderfulness’ in a sand / salt box sitting on a light box.
If you don’t have a light box, you can make one!
See easy DIY light box instructions with different boxes here.

– Create and/or collect memories using photographs, souvenirs, drawings, items from visited places (brochures, tickets), and display them in a scrapbook, photo frame or special keepsake box.
About me album:
Craft Stick Photo Frame:
Memory Box:


– Play Murder in the Dark.
– Play Hide n Seek in the dark using torches. (Look for people or hidden objects)
– Do some moon and star gazing. Use a telescope if you have one!

Visit my Pinterest board with more activities for The Duck and the Darklings here.

Lessons by Romi Sharp.
© My Little Story Corner 2015.
All sourced resources have been credited.
These teaching notes are for personal and classroom use only and are not permitted for commercial use without written permission and credit given to My Little Story Corner.

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Doodle and Sketch’s Arty Adventure by Matthew Hartley

March 2015

IMG_8302First in the series is Matthew Hartley’s ‘Doodle and Sketch’s Arty Adventure’, an imaginative e-story about hand-drawn characters on an artistic mission, suitable for 7 to 12 year olds. The story is organised into fourteen chapters, with age-appropriate language and Hartley’s cute cartoon pictures spread throughout.

Sketch, a grumpy two-nosed, unfinished drawing, finds common ground when he meets the fresh face in town, Doodle. Together, they leave their cartoon friends behind to explore the danger of the unknown; the other side of the page. The reason for their expedition through the sketchbook: to be reunited with the hand that drew them in order to be completed.

IMG_8301Along the way, the pair meet, befriend and escape from some incredible characters. They see and experience some harsh realities, which only make them stronger. Jeremiah the cautious, confused snail, is the key to solving the mystery of the recluse Creator, for he holds the map to his whereabouts. Unfortunately a messenger parrot and evil Captain Cranky cause more treachery, until Doodle and Sketch realise they are, and have been, more courageous than they thought.

Their generosity and foresight allow them to call upon new friends, including the shy, stamp-collecting pink dragon, Donny, and the neuron, Ron from the Creator’s Imagination Island, to help them proceed on their journey. A very close swipe with death sees Doodle and Sketch come face to face with the assassinating eraser, but by standing up to the Creator, they give him a renewed sense of purpose by reminding him of his talents and passion for drawing.

IMG_8300Did Doodle and Sketch finally achieve what they set out to accomplish? Yes, in a surprising and gratifying ending.

Doodle and Sketch’s Arty Adventure’ is a story about teamwork, friendship and confidence. Set aside plenty of time to explore this journey. You will find some playful dialogue and briefly encounter many different personalities. Perhaps we might find these two-dimensional characters turn three-dimensional in the next instalment!

Matthew Hartley’s ‘Doodle and Sketch’s Arty Adventure’ can be downloaded through Amazon (click on links above), or via Smashwords here.

Read this review and leave your own at Goodreads here.

Contact the author:
IMG_8304 ”Matthew Hartley is an author / illustrator based in Melbourne. His first children’s book, a collection of forty illustrated poems called ‘The Teachers are in Trouble and Other Rhymes’ was published in 2009. He is currently working on a sequel to ‘Doodle and Sketch’s Arty Adventure’.”

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Pig the Pug: Teaching Notes

Pig the Pug Aaron Blabey  

”Pig was a Pug and I’m sorry to say, he was greedy and selfish in most every way.”  

I’m a sucker for a good dog story, particularly a hilarious one like Pig the Pug by award-winning author / illustrator, Aaron Blabey. With a front cover that creates a lasting impression; a bulgy eyed, flat nosed pug that is so ugly that it’s really quite adorable, you just can’t resist!  

In true toddler tantrum-style behaviour, Pig the Pug blatantly refuses to share his food and toys with friendly sausage dog, Trevor. And it is the mere suggestion that really sets Pig off.
”Well, Pig flipped his wig.”  
The crazed expression on his face, and the name calling, with toys being tossed in the air… this behaviour would never be condoned, but, I’m sorry to say, it’s so ashamedly funny.  

So Pig gathers all his belongings with a huff and a puff, and stands tall on the top of his tower like a spoilt brat, until… he endures an utter misfortune. 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. Aaron Blabey has brilliantly depicted cleverness, humour, a touch of darkness, and a clear lesson in learning to share. A wildly funny read for all ages.  

Title: Pig the Pug
Author/Illustrator: Aaron Blabey
Publisher: Scholastic, $16.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 July 2014 
Format: Hard cover 
ISBN: 9781743624777 
For ages: 3 – 10 
Type: Picture Book  

Also see the review for Creative Kids Tales here:  

Pig the Pug
Available for purchase from Boomerang Books ($13.59 + $6.95 shipping per order)

My Little Question Time!  

Before Reading:
Why do you think this dog’s name is Pig? What does it mean to be greedy and selfish?
Role play / puppet play a situation where one character does not want to share. How might the other character feel?  

During Reading:
Why do you think Pig wants all the toys to himself? What does ‘Pig flipped his wig’ mean? What do you think will happen to Pig on top of the pile?  

After Reading:
Why do you think Trevor wanted to play with Pig when he wasn’t being nice? Why was Pig the Pug forced to share with Trevor? What happened to him? Do you think he learned his lesson? Will he share with Trevor when he’s better?
Make a list of Pig’s characteristics. Are any of these ones that you would like to have?
Make a list of Trevor’s characteristics. Would you like to be like him? How?  

My Little Learning Time!  

– Write about a time when you didn’t want to share something. What was the other person’s response? What were the consequences of not sharing? What did you learn from that experience?
– Write a story with a strong moral. For example, write a story around learning the lesson that greediness ends in unfortunate circumstances.
– Research different kinds of dogs and write a list of characteristics about them. Illustrate.
– Brainstorm different kinds of phrases / idioms. For example, When Pigs Can Fly, or Cat Got Your Tongue. Draw a picture to match the phrase. Collaborate with others to make a book of funny phrases.      
peppa-pig-angel catgottongue1
Peppa Pig /

– Beginners – Finish the sentence: ‘I like to share my…..’, ‘My favourite toy is…..’, ‘I don’t like it when….’
– Letter Study: Pp. P is for Pig, Pug, play, puppy, pile, etc. Brainstorm or walk around the room searching for things that begin with Pp. Write on a sheet of paper.
Make a paper construction of one of the words on the chart. Eg. Paper bag puppy.  

– Read other books by Aaron Blabey. What similarities are there with his writing style? Do his books always have a moral?  

Arts / Crafts.
– Choose your favourite part of the book and paint a picture of it, using a mixture of watercolour paints and pencils.
– Bobble Head Pug.
Materials: Egg carton, scissors, pen, brown pencil, glue, white and coloured paper, needle and cotton, straw (cut in half).
1. Cut out three egg cups from the carton.
2. Cut out the paper shapes in proportion; small circles for eyes, paws, feet and tail, two ears and a mouth. Draw nose and mouth on mouth piece, eyeballs on eyes.
3. With needle and cotton, make a knot at the end and pierce through middle of one egg cup.
4. Glue and fit another egg cup inside the threaded one (this forms the body).
5. Make a knot about 3-4cm up the cotton, and pierce needle through the third egg cup.
6. Cut the cotton to the desired length, and tie onto half a straw.
7. Decorate your pug with the paper shapes.
8. Make your pug wobble and jiggle!  

– Paper Bag Puppy   
– Toilet Roll Dogs  
– Felt Dogs  
IMG_5739 IMG_5740
– Concertina Sausage Dog  
concertina dog
– Footprint Puppy  

– Measurement: Height.
Materials: Metre ruler, 30cm ruler, tape measure, blocks (plastic, wooden), various sized boxes, books, pencils, etc.
Have several work stations with different materials to build and measure the height of a tower.
Eg. Station 1 – Build a tower with boxes, estimate and measure the height with a tape measure. Record.
Station 2 – Build a tower with small blocks, estimate and measure with pencils. Record.
Then children can compare and discuss measurements using terms like greater than, less than, longer, and shorter.

– Measurement: Weight.
Materials: balancing scales, various containers, blocks, counters, coins, matchsticks, other small objects.
Have several work stations with different materials to weigh different objects on the balancing scales.
Eg. Station 1 – Estimate and measure the weight of five blocks and the weight of five counters. Record.
Station 2 – Estimate and measure the weight of a container full of coins and a container full of matchsticks. Record.
Then children can compare and discuss measurements using terms like greater than, less than, heavier, and lighter.  

Science / Technology.
– Flying Machines. Help Pig the Pug to fly!
Design and construct a machine that can be propelled through the air.
– Straw Rocket.
IMG_5938 IMG_5936 IMG_5937
– Balloon Rocket.
– Catapult.
– Hoop Air Glider.    

Lessons and photography by Romi Sharp 2014.
All sourced resources have been credited.
These lessons are for personal and classroom use only, not permitted for commercial use.

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Banjo and Ruby Red: Teaching Notes


Banjo and Ruby Red
Libby Gleeson
Illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Please find the Banjo and Ruby Red Review here:

Banjo and Ruby Red: Question Time!

Before Reading:
Show photos of working dogs (on a farm and other work places, like seeing-eye dogs).
Ask if children know what kind of jobs these dogs are doing. Why are they important? Look at the front cover. What are these animals? Where do you think they live? What do you think they might do in the story?
Explain that Banjo is a ‘chook dog’. What jobs might he need to do on the farm?

During Reading:
Why doesn’t Ruby Red want to hop off the woodpile? How do you think Banjo feels about her? How does he feel when he can’t find her? Do you think he will help her? Why?

After Reading:
Why is Ruby Red roosting on and inside the kennel? Do you think Banjo minds? How do Banjo and Ruby Red feel about each other now?

Revisit the photos of the working dogs. Draw a picture of a dog helping someone (or working with animals) and / or write a description of its role.  

Role Play.
Using props or just selves, act out situations for the following:
– Someone wouldn’t listen to your instructions or when you had something to say.
– Helping someone in need, even if they weren’t your friend.
– Becoming friends with someone who seemed to be very different than you (an ‘unlikely friend’).
Think about how each person might react positively or negatively. Role play both reactions and discuss the different outcomes.  

(Discussion questions and role play ideas adapted from Little Hare Book Publishers:

Banjo and Ruby Red: Learning Time!  

– Banjo and Ruby Red could be considered to have an ‘unlikely friendship’. Write your own story about two animals who become ‘unlikely friends’. Would this be possible in real life? Why or why not? What obstacles do they overcome to learn to be friends?
See some terrific examples of books about ‘unlikely friends’ here:

– Write a Procedure Text: How To Round Up Chooks, How To Care For a Sick Chicken, How To Make a Friendship Band, How To Build a Kennel.
Be creative!  

Read other stories by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood:
Amy and Louis
Clancy and Millie and the Very Fine House
Half a World Away

Compare and constrast similarities and differences between the style of writing and illustrations.  

Art and Craft.
– Practise sketching objects using a black pencil. Observe and draw the object’s basic shapes. For example, to draw a toy duck, draw an oval body, add a smaller oval for a head, a triangle for a beak, then fill in the extra details of a tail, wing and eye. Don’t worry if the lines aren’t perfectly aligned… that’s sketching!
– Create a farm yard scene on a large poster, including a barn, tractor, hen house, woodpile, chickens, a dog and any other animals on the farm. Use a range of materials including pencils, pencil shavings, crayons, paint, coloured paper, sticks, hay, sand, grass and so on.  

– 3D Friendship Chooks (adapted from Red Ted Art’s Juggling Bean Bag Chooks, see below).
These are so cute and simple to make. You can make lots and give them to your friends to show how much you love them!
Materials: coloured cardstock (30cm x 15cm), white paper and black pencil for eyes, patterned paper (or gift wrap), scissors, glue, sticky tape, stuffing (optional).
1. Cut out shapes, including two eyes (draw pupils), two wings (oval), two wattles, two combs, two beaks (glue wattles, combs and beaks back to back so colour is seen on both sides).
2. Fold cardstock in half upwards. Glue wattle, beak and comb around open corner. Glue eyes and wings in place on each side.
3. Glue inside on top and side shut, leaving bottom open. Use tape for extra strength.
4. Fill inside with stuffing, or something else just to give it weight.
5. Push down the back so that the beak points in the air, and the two open sides meet. Tape closed.
6. Your chook is done! Enjoy!
IMG_5395 IMG_5398

– Juggling Chook Bean Bags (requires sewing):
juggling-bean-bag-chicken juggling-chickens-bean-bags
– Chooks and Dogs Friendship Hands.
On a long piece of paper, each student makes a handprint, joining it with the next person’s handprint. Once dry, decorate to look like chooks or dogs, that appear to be holding hands (or wings, or paws).  

– Living Eggs: Incubate and hatch baby chicks in your classroom, nursery or care home.
Find more information and teacher program here:

Banjo and Ruby Red were ‘unlikely’ friends. Explore Probability and Chance lessons.
Objectives: To recognise events that are impossible, unlikely, equally likely, likely and certain.
– Play ‘What are the chances…?’ What are the chances that it will rain today? That an alien will visit us? That you will win Tattslotto? Students respond with appropriate language. Play with a partner, create and draw their own ‘likely’, ‘unlikely’, and ‘impossible’ circumstances.
– Teddy Bears in a Bag. Show students and place a certain number of coloured teddies (or other counters) in a bag. Eg. 3 blue, 2 red, 1 yellow. Draw a graph showing colours on the bottom bar and numbers up the side.
Ask children to predict what colour will be taken out of the bag (one teddy at a time). Will one colour be chosen more than others? Why or why not?
Each time a teddy is picked, mark the colour on the graph and place the teddy back in the bag. After 10 turns, count the results for each colour. Which had the most? Least? Equal? Does this fit with our
predictions? Students can play with a partner or small group.
– Dice games, Probability Fans and more found at:  

Information Technology.
– Send an email to a friend, explaining what you like about them, or invite them to play.
– Create a video trailer for the book, Banjo and Ruby Red, using props.
– Create a Powerpoint slideshow: about friendships, working dogs, chickens, or one of the topics written about in the Procedural Writing task.  

Construction / Technology.
– Design and build a dog kennel or chicken coop using paddle pop sticks. What method will work the best? Decorate.
Example with instructions found here:
Variation: Build the kennel / chicken coop with other materials, such as cardboard, playing cards, twigs, or timber.  

Banjo and Ruby Red
Available for purchase from Boomerang Books ($22.46 + $6.95 shipping per order)

Photography and lessons by Romi Sharp, 2014.
These may be used for personal or classroom use only, and not permitted for commercial use.
All sourced resources have been credited.